Monday, March 25, 2013

A Little Rant Today: Just Do It.

I see a lot of people in my practice.  I train approximately 50 clients per week, and I get several inquiries on top of that.  And here is the thing I think a lot of people don't realize:

I am not a magician. 

I know a hell of a lot about exercise and nutrition, and what I don't know, I generally have access to the appropriate resource with the answer.  I have tools beyond tools to make things as generally painless as possible for people from all walks of life to make the transition into a healthy lifestyle.  I make myself constantly available as a support system as much as humanly possible.  But at the end, there is only so much I can do for anyone else.

Getting healthy and fit is not easy.  If it were, everyone would already be there.  It takes work, dedication, and willpower.  And you have to really want it, or it's just not going to happen. 

I assume if you contacted me (or another trainer), you did so for a reason.  The thing is, simply having a trainer is not going to make you healthy.  You have to do your part.  Maybe you've been habitually eating fast food for the last 20 years.  Maybe you hate vegetables.  Maybe you hate exercise.  But at some point, you are going to have to ask yourself this:

Is my health more important than a hamburger?
Is my health more important than sitting on the couch?
Is my health more important than not at least trying to incorporate some kind of vegetables into my eating plan?

I really hope the answer is yes.  And if it is, you're going to have to suck it up and get out of your comfort zone and learn how to do what it takes to reach your goals. 

If the answer is not yes, well, honestly, there is absolutely nothing I or anyone else can do for you until it is.  And you would, quite frankly, be wasting your time and mine thinking I would somehow wave a magic wand and make Big Macs, sodas, and watching TV for hours good for you.

If you care about your body, stop making excuses and do the work.  You will see results, and you might even find you like your new lifestyle (most people do).

Abracadabra.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nummy of the Day-- "Blackies"-- or Chocolate Goop, Whichever You Prefer.

Many moons ago, I posted my black bean brownie (yes, black bean brownies!!) recipe here:

http://www.vegweb.com/recipes/blackies-black-bean-brownies

As brownies, they look like this.


And trust me, they are good.  So.  Freakin'.  Good.

I decided to make a pan of them today, because I was craving something chocolaty.  Here's what I did:

--instead of sugar, I used 1.5 cups of erythritol
--I only used 1 tsp of oil for the recipe.
--For egg replacer, I used about 1/2 cup chia seeds soaked in about a cup of water.
--I added a teaspoon of baking powder.
--Instead of cayenne, I used ghost pepper salt (maybe a teaspoon; I measured it in the palm of my hand)

My recipe came out too liquid to possibly bake up properly.  However, it tasted AMAZING.  I mean, lick-the-blender-bowl amazing.  So I poured it into a container and am going to dip berries in it later.  And also eat it with a spoon.

NOM.

As goop, it looks like this.  Maybe not as pretty, but SO NUMMY.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Under the Sea

I admit it-- I feed my dogs chorella.  They think it is the best treat ever (no joke-- they practically bowl me over when I break out the bottle)!

I mix it into my cats' food, too.

You know what?  They have benefited greatly from it.  Their fur is softer and they have more energy, and my 19 year old kitty with kidney disease is active, relatively healthy, and sunning himself out in the open instead of hiding in a remote corner, like he does when he's not feeling so hot.

Chachi restricts my computer use till he gets his chorella.


And you know what else?  I feed it to myself.  Not just chorella-- spirulina, too.  I have sea vegetables at least once a week in my meals (usually as a salad, but sometimes in recipes, too), I've been known to snack on nori now and then, and two of my favorite supplements (DHA/EPA and Astaxanthin) are sourced from algae.  I have noticed that since I have added a sea vegetable and grass powder drink to my mornings, my energy has soared despite not sleeping nearly enough lately (normally, lack of sleep makes me a zombie, and the 4:15AM wakeup calls to feed all the furkids plus train the new doggie is, quite frankly, starting to kick my butt!).

So what is so great about algae, really?  I'm glad you asked.  First of all, you know all those healthy fish oils?  Fish do not actually produce omega 3 fatty acids on their own-- they come from the algae the fish eat.  As you likely know, the fish population, particularly among the fish at the top of the food chain such as swordfish, sea bass, shark, and such, have a bit of a mercury contamination problemPharmaceutical drug residues, pesticides, and other nasty junk have been found in fish, as well.  Furthermore, many fish oil supplements contain rancid fish oil, which can have a not-so-nice effect on human health.  So why not skip the middleman and get your Omega 3's/DHA/EPA from algae, instead?  (Here's the company I use; Pure Encapsulations also makes a good algae-sourced DHA/EPA supplement.  I also found a non-fish DHA supplement from Spectrum, but it is DHA only.)

Astaxanthin, too, is not produced directly by fish-- it also comes from the algae they eat.  (For more about why I love astaxanthin, check these posts, and it will make an appearance in my next Food As Medicine post, too, so stay tuned...)  As fish-derived astaxanthin supplements may suffer the same issues as fish oil supplements, I would once again turn to the algae-sourced variety.  Here is the brand I tend to use, and here are some other options:  (1) (2) (3) (4)

Algae has been shown to have strong cancer-fighting properties.  Various types of algae have shown to be effective against colon cancer, oral cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, breast cancer, and more.

Some algaes have been found to help fight diabetes.

Chorella


Algaes have cardioprotective benefits such as lowering inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Some algaes can even help with fat loss, and have even shown promise in helping to reverse lipemia (insufficient fat clearance) in runners.

Algaes have shown to help protect the kidneys, too (in many cases due to their effectiveness in reducing blood pressure and oxidative stress).  (2) (3)

Seaweed is an excellent source of protein (including all essential amino acids)-- red seaweed in particular, which can have almost a 50% protein content.  There is little information on how well-absorbed these proteins are.  The limited information I found showed that there is protein absorption inhibition inherent in the dulseThere is good promise, however, that these proteins can be very useful to human nutrition, and research has been done to see how digestibility can be optimized. 

Seaweed is often a good source of iodine.  While this can be a good thing if you are iodine-deficient, keep in mind that too much iodine can lead to iodine toxicity and thyroid problems such as thyroid cancer.  Make sure you don't overdo it with the iodine.  Chorella, which is the type of algae I consume most often, does not contain significant amounts of iodine.

Needless to say, I will proudly continue to nom chorella and feed it to my furkids and to my people.  I will indulge in sea veggies once or twice a week, and I will continue to get my DHA/EPA and astaxanthin from algae sources.  I highly recommend you do the same.

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Guest Blogger Marina Kamen!

I have a special guest blogger today-- Marina Kamen of marinakamen.com!  She is a pretty amazing person, and has some great things to say.  Check it out:

by Marina Kamen aka MARINA


How many of us who are trying to balance home... work... family and our health ever stop and think.... "Where did "I" go?”... Who is this person that I now don't recognize? With all the things that we do, especially us working moms, we often forget who we were before we grew up... maybe got married... maybe had kids. I ask.... "who were you when you were young?" What were the dreams and goals that have been compromised now in order to attempt to have it all? The American dream, honey!
 
   Being a person myself who has lost 100 pounds and juggles home, work, family & fitness and gets written to by countless people around the country dealing with their obesity struggle I have seen this time and time again; women who have lost their own sense of self. This often tends to make them candidates who struggle the hardest with addictions.... food addiction being at the front of the pack. These women who often lose this sense of self where food becomes their whole world, forever planning events around what the cuisine will be rather than what the actual event is. Women who too often surround themselves with others who are also getting "Lost Along The Way." After all, as the saying goes, "misery loves company"!
 
   This is a time when there are many varying choices in our country of types of families... options to young women who may get pregnant at a young age. As wonderful as having all this choice is, it also can bring complications to these young women. Maybe not finishing school.... there fore not being able to go for a better job... which in turn may lead to poverty which often goes hand in hand with obesity. The inexpensive fast food choices that are affordable have certainly left a food-a-holic blemish on so many.... especially young moms. Don't get me wrong. Plenty of fantastic young moms and dads who's hearts are in the right place. However... being able to juggle it all looks good on paper... but how does one do that exactly. There are never enough hours in the day or energy left at the end of an exhausting day to stay tapped into one's dream let alone have the time or desire to keep going for it. Time... money... energy.... gumption.... oye! Help!
 
     This may help. Take time for you. No matter where you are or how difficult things might seem, "YOU" matter the most!
 
Taking care of your health is primo! Even just sitting for a few minutes with eyes closed... sitting up with straight back... shoulders down and back... chin down. Inhale and exhale and think about you! Let your mind wander and drift into a sweet spot of memory and hope. If you can do that... take it to another level. No time? Well... do this. Stand at your computer and walk in place to this one... or simply stay in your chair and bop to the beat. At a tempo of 160 beats per minute (bpm), hear my voice while I sing to you these words...
"I want to stay with you forever... as long as we are both together. It does not matter who is right… oh no... just keep that vision in your sight!"
 
    You see as I tell you most everyday... I am like you. I too need that push and that motivation. Being able to write to you and create music for you to stay on your health & fitness path in turn helps me too! I thank you for that.... so...hear what I say..."self?... don't you get Lost Along The Way!"

Now come on and break that sweat...and as always…

Hear the music, feel the beat and Never Stop Movin' in your body and in your life!

M:)

click link below to get FREE cardio song by MARINA! 400 songs by MARINA available at www.highenergyfitness.com and on ITunes!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Oily Situation, Part 4: Coconut Oil

(Check out the other articles in this series if you haven't seen them yet)

"What's the deal with coconut oil?"

I get this question a lot, so it's about time I answered it. 

First and foremost, let's separate virgin coconut oil from hydrogenated coconut oil.  The hydrogenation process, in very simple terms, pumps a bunch of hydrogen atoms into the chemical makeup of the oil.  This will turn a liquid oil into a solid oil at room temperature, give it a longer shelf life, and allow it to cook at higher temperatures.  That's why hydrogenated coconut oil is often used in packaged baked goods and for deep-frying things.  The problem is, hydrogenated coconut oil is really un-good for you.  Hydrogenating oils results in the formation of trans fats, which are extremely bad news for your heart and your health.  So let's just not even consider eating this stuff.



Virgin coconut oil is a very different animal.  While it is, indeed, a saturated fat (meaning it is naturally solid at room temperature), about 60% of this is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA).  The data out there about MCFA's is mixed, and there is not a ton of it out there (although it is a growing body of research).  Some data shows an unfavorable cholesterol profile stemming from a diet high in MCFA's.  However, other data demonstrates that MCFA's can lower body fat levels, regulate insulin levels, and decrease triglyceride levels.

Coconut oil's chemical makeup looks a little something like this:

Caprylic Acid (C8:0) 8%
Capric Acid (C10:0) 6%
Lauric Acid (C12:0) 47%
Myristic Acid (C14:0) 18%
Palmitic Acid (C16:0) 9%
Stearic Acid (C18:0) 3%
Oleic Acid (C18:1) 6%
Linoleic Acid (C18:2) 2%

As you can see, coconut oil is almost half lauric acid.  Lauric acid is a component of triglycerides that soap and cosmetic companies like to use, since it is cheap, stable, and doesn't spoil easily.  Sodium laurel sulfate is an ingredient derived from lauric acid, so I'm pretty sure you've seen it before.  Inside the body, some studies show that its consumption results in a better cholesterol ratio, meaning a better lipid profile.  (1)  Others show that it raises both good and bad cholesterol (1) (2)One oft-quoted study appears at its surface to show that lauric acid is beneficial to the lipid profile, but a closer look at this study shows that this is in comparison to trans-fats.  And let's face it-- most fats are going to look pretty good if you compare them to trans-fats.

Myristic acid is the next largest component of coconut oil.  It has been shown to raise total cholesterol significantly (1) (2) (3), and even raise Factor VIIIc activity levels (which is a risk factor for thrombus-- something you don't want).

Coconut oil is considered a Medium Chain Fatty Acid (MCFA).  MCFA's are being touted all over the interwebs and even on product packaging as being a healthy type of fat.  However, the limited research out there is not promising in this regard-- MCFA's appear to contribute to a worse lipid profile.  (1) (2) (3)  There are a few other studies that say that it may not make cholesterol worse.  (1) At this point, there isn't enough concrete evidence to side one way or the other about MCFA's. 

This having been said, different fatty acids act differently when consumed with other kinds of foods.  So when you put all this stuff together in a coconut, how does the human body take it?  Many of the unfavorable coconut studies out there were done with hydrogenated coconut oil, so let's eliminate those and look at only those studies done on virgin coconut oil (VCO). 

VCO and Obesity:  There have been a few studies showing that inclusion of VCO in the diet may have a favorable effect on bodyfat percentage, particularly in men (1) (2)  However, it's important to note that this was generally in conjunction with an allover healthy eating plan and exercise.  Here's the thing:  coconut oil is not exactly low-calorie.  As a matter of fact, there are about 125 calories per tablespoon of coconut oil.  So don't go nuts with it (heh, get it?)-- you still need to burn off more calories than you take in, no matter what the source of the calories.

VCO and Cholesterol:  There is some promising evidence that virgin coconut oil can help improve, or at least does not alter, cholesterol profiles (1) (2)

VCO and Antioxidant Power:  If there's one thing that coconut oil seems to consistently have, it's antioxidants (which is a very good thing for your health).  (1) (2) (3)

VCO and Alzheimer's Disease:  A popular story has been going around the internet, showing how a woman reversed a case of Alzheimer's disease using coconut oil.  However, there is not to date any peer-reviewed clinical data showing this connection.  Although there are aspects of coconut oil that could prove useful for this purpose, all we have right now is a small amount of anecdotal evidence.  Stay tuned on this one.

VCO and Antibacterial/Antiviral Properties:  Virgin coconut oil has been shown to have some antimicrobial activity, which could prove useful for fungal infections/candida, acute inflammation, dermatitis, and other bacterial and viral conditions.

VCO and the Liver:  Limited data suggests that VCO may have some hepatoprotective properties.  (1)

The bottom line is this:  is coconut oil necessarily bad for you?  Nope.  Is it necessarily good for you?  Possibly.  Is it a miracle oil that you should consume like crazy?  Probably not.  Add it to your diet in moderation and use it as a moisturizer, and you should be good to go. 

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wow!!!

My blog was given the honor of Top 10 Fitness Blog of 2013 by BreakingMuscle.com!  A tremendous thank you to all who nominated me, and to all who read my blog.  I look forward to continuing to give you guys the best, most helpful fitness information I can.  And maybe a puppy picture or two.






This is Baby.  I found her on the street over the weekend, and it looks like she'll be joining my family.  As you can see, she's pretty excited about the blog honor.