Friday, September 27, 2013

"..But Isn't This Healthy?????"

I've seen a trend in my clients' diets lately, so I figured it was about time I broached the subject of "health foods" that really kinda aren't.  These are the most popular things I see come up in my clients' diets, and a little explanation of what's up with them.



GREEK YOGURT:  The Greek yogurt market is huge these days.  Basically, Greek yogurt is yogurt that's been strained more than regular yogurt so that it is thicker.  It tends to have considerably more protein than regular yogurt, making it more satiating, and it tends to have far less calcium and sodium than regular yogurt.  Calories are more or less the same between the two.  It's also usually a looot more expensive than regular yogurt, since the companies are cashing in on its popularity.  Those are the main differences between the two kinds of yogurt, so if you're looking to Greek yogurt as a magical weight loss health food, you may be a bit disillusioned. 

My dislike of dairy products as part of the human diet is no secret, but I also get that people are going to eat them.  So here's the skinny:
  • Know that Greek yogurt is not a weight loss tool.  It has the same number of calories as regular yogurt, and so in that department, it really will not make much difference.
  • Ideally, try to find a Greek yogurt that is organic/hormone free.  This is really important for pretty much anything you eat, but for animal products in particular.  They tend to be full of antibiotics, hormones, and all kinds of other junk you really do not want in your body.  Stonyfield Farms and Wallaby are two companies I can think of off the top of my head that make organic Greek yogurt, but both put large amounts of sugar in their Greek yogurts.  This is a conundrum, indeed.
  • Read your labels.  Recently, I checked out a label for a client eating "Dannon Light '& Fit Greek Yogurt."  First of all, as soon as you see something that says "fat free," assume they're replacing the taste of fat with the taste of sugar.  So here's one flavor (blueberry).  And yep, it's got 7g of sugar added to it (looks like they used fructose as the source).  That's a lot of added sugar for such a low calorie food.   In addition, it's got a bunch of chemicals for more sweetness (sucralose, acesulfame potassium).  There is one very controversial study linking sucralose to leukemia ( Soffritti M, Belpoggi F, Esposti DD, Lambertini L. Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukaemias in rats. European Journal of Oncology 2005; 10(2):107–116 ), but for the most part, there is no scientific evidence that artificial sweeteners, as much as I'd love to hate them, cause disease.  That having been said, there are enough people claiming side effects from artificial sweetener consumption that I'd be cautious of their use.  
  • The coloring used in this particular yogurt is a red coloring called carmine, which is, in fact, ground beetles.  This in and of itself is not going to hurt you, but my guess is you'd want to know if you were consuming them.  So there you have it. 
  • Bottom line:   if you're going to eat Greek yogurt, ideally get it organic, and go for the ones with no added sugars and minimal ingredients.  Chances are, you're going to have to pick one or the other.  Better yet, make your own, and know EXACTLY what is going into your yogurt.  You can also make your own coconut yogurt, and forgo the dairy stuff altogether (which is definitely a better idea, IMHO). 
GRANOLA:  Known as the hippiest of foods, people associate this stuff with good health.  And, really, at its base, it should be good stuff-- whole oats, nuts, seeds, maybe a little fruit.  The problem comes in that mass-produced granola tends to be full of added sugars, not-so-good oils,  and other junk that doesn't belong in your body.  For instance: a very popular bar, Quaker Chewy, has 7 grams of sugar in a 100 calorie bar, coming from brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, invert sugar, sugar, corn syrup solids (ick), and molasses.  It has a preservative (BHT), which in large quantities can have some not-so-nice health effects. And, of course, it has that dubious ingredient, "natural and artificial flavor," which really could mean anything.  Who wants mystery flavorings in their food?   Health Valley granola bars, while somewhat better than the average due to its general policy against GMO ingredients and tendency towards organics, still has 10g of added sugars in the form of brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, barley malt, and grape juice. 
  • Bottom line:  Read your labels and avoid ingredients you don't recognize.  Buy a (preferably organic) no sugar added brand, such as Mona's, Sensato, etc.  Or (and you knew I was going to say this), make your own
BROWN RICE, WHOLE WHEAT BREAD, WHOLE WHEAT PASTA, ETC.  It's not that I have a problem with any of these things.  I don't.  If grains agree with your system, there's absolutely no reason not to eat them, particularly the minimally processed, 100% whole grain varieties, and ideally sprouted or einkorn (this part is very important, and, as with all things, read the ingredients and make sure you're eating what you think you're eating).  The problem comes when you make this the center of your diet.  Cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, popcorn for snack, pasta for dinner... not a great nutritional bang for your buck.  I generally recommend limiting your grain intake to one meal per day, so choose wisely.  If you have cereal for breakfast, that's your grain for the day.  Something to think about. 
  • Bottom line: Make your day MOSTLY VEGETABLES, particularly the green ones.  Everything else should be secondary.  You can wrap sandwiches in collard greens or romaine lettuce instead of bread (it's actually really good!).  You can switch out your breakfast cereal for something like a really healthy protein shake, or maybe some of that coconut yogurt mentioned above with some fruit.  Maybe have a banana or apple and a tablespoon or two of raw nut butter or a handful of nuts.  And so on.  Be creative.  You might find you enjoy your meals more this way, and that they fill you up more!
PROTEIN BARS:  The unfortunate truth is that most of these bars are sugar and/or chemical bombs.  Clif Builder Bars, for instance, while they have a relatively benign ingredient list, chemicalwise, pack a 20g sugar punch in one 270 calorie bar.  Zone Perfect bars (they have that name associated with that diet that all those celebs swear by, right?) have 16 grams of sugar with sugar ingredients all over the list (one of which is corn syrup-- ick). 
  • Bottom line:  Guess what I'm going to say.  Yeah, read your ingredients.  Know what you're eating.  Or, of course, make your own
GLUTEN FREE, MADE WITH WHOLE GRAINS, LOW FAT, LITE, ALL NATURAL, ORGANIC, ETC.  All these buzzwords are all well and good, but several of them mean pretty much nothing and are not regulated (all natural, lite, low fat), and not one of them tells you what, exactly, is in the food.  I cannot say it enough-- READ YOUR LABELS.  Know what is going in your body.  Keep sugars, white flours, and processed foods to an absolute minimum, and make sure you recognize the ingredients in the food.  If you don't recognize them, look them up.  Chances are, you won't want to eat it once you find out what it is. 

Bottom line:  Stick as close as you can to what Mother Nature created.  Eat mostly vegetables.  Try to keep grains to one meal a day, and make them very high-quality grains.  Don't fall for buzzwords.

Thoughts?  Questions?  Comments?  Anything to add?  Post away!  :) 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Getting Omega 3's In Your Diet Without Being All Fishy

It has been way too long since I've written, and I apologize for that!  Life has been a whirlwind of events in the last few months.  I got to take a much needed vacation for a few weeks, I got to sing with Bobby McFerrin (one lifelong dream fulfilled), and I just opened up my own training studio (another dream fulfilled).  As a result, I have neglected this blog terribly.  So I'd best jump back in right now!

As you may have heard me mention in other posts, most people's diets are severely skewed in their Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio.  While a very low ratio (at least 4:1) of Omega 6:Omega 3 is recommended for optimal health, most Westernized adults get closer to 15:1-16.7:1 in their diets.  The ratio of 4:1 correlates to a 70% drop in mortality, while a ratio of 2.5:1 lowered rectal cancer proliferation.  It's understandable that we get so many omega 6's-- they're in pretty much everything the standard American diet yields, from nuts and seeds to meat and processed foods.  So where, then, does one get one's Omega 3's?

The obvious answer is fish.  But what about those of us who don't eat fish?  The good news is, we have tons of options.

Happy Fish thanks you for looking at other food sources.


Chia seeds:  Chia seeds have a huge omega 3 content, and even better, you don't need to grind them up to get their benefits.  With 4915mg of omega 3's (and 1620mg of omega 6's), the chia seed is a winner for this nutrient.  Add to that their high calcium content, their tremendous antioxidant content, and their resistance to rancidity (can't say that for fish or flax), chia seeds are a fantastic addition to any diet.  Add it to oatmeal, throw a handful of them in water/tea/coffee (it becomes sort of like boba!), use them, soaked in some water, as a binder in baked goods (substituting for eggs), or experiment adding them to your own recipes. 

Flaxseeds:  Flaxseed is fantastic, although you must grind the seeds to reap their benefits.  Flaxseed also tends to go rancid after a while (I keep mine in the freezer).  That having been said, flaxseed has a whopping 38,325mg of Omega 3's (and 9931mg of Omega 6's). Use them the same as Chia seeds for cereal and baked goods, and add them to all kinds of recipes.

Hemp seeds:   I have a newfound love for hemp hearts.  I bought a 5lb jug of them on Amazon and went through most of it within 3 weeks.  I throw these into just about every dinner I cook-- I love their nutty flavor and huge nutritional boost!  Hemp has a 3:1 ratio of Omega 3's to Omega 6's.  It also is high in quality protein, containing all essential amino acids.  It also supplies a power punch of magnesium, a mineral most people tend to be deficient in.  You really can't go wrong with this stuff. 

Several different veggies!  Radish seeds, grape leaves, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, purslane, mache...  you'd be amazed how many veggies have lots of Omega 3's to offer!  I always tell my clients to make most of their diet veggies (particularly green/cruciferous)-- this is just another of a myriad of reasons.

Spices!  Believe it or not, oregano, basil, and cloves all have a fair amount of omega 3's in them, plus a ton of antioxidant activity.  Adding flavor to your food with spices adds a significant nutritional boost!

Marine algae:  Algae is actually where fish get their omega 3's from, and is a good source of DHA and even EPA.  I wrote more about this subject here

So if you're looking to increase your Omega 3's (and if you're not, you should be), take the above suggestions into consideration.  You might just see some pretty impressive health changes in your future.

Some Pretty Awesome Articles from my Very Awesome Client.

I wanted to share with you this awesome article a client of mine wrote regarding female strength.  A 75-lb superpower himself, his words are pretty powerful.  He writes this stuff just to write it.  I think he should try to publish, personally.  So I'm doing it for him on this blog.  :)   Check it out.

PART 1: 
Classified Message from The Universe to Earth-Females

“One of the most transformative forces in your world is feminine energy,

recognized as the Mother and Goddess, which is deeply associated with love….Today

your world lacks an understanding of the goddess energy, which is a reflection of the

lack of power of women, and the lack of value that men and women have for women.”

A new chapter in human evolution is presently unfolding. Women are fast

becoming the dominant sex. This shift is necessary because for more than two thousand

years the male vibration has ruthlessly suppressed and discounted the female, resulting in

a gender imbalance that led to the establishment of a violent, warlike patriarchy.

This is now changing. The Goddess has awakened. The female vibration is

gaining in strength and will, for several generations to come, be the dominant force -

until the male energy willingly accepts and cooperates with the process of equalization

and balancing of the genders.

The single most important factor which is bringing this change about is the

exponential increase in the number of women who train for strength….empowering their

physical bodies to a level of raw, muscular brawn hitherto inconceivable in the so-called

“weaker sex,” (except for the occasional, old-time “strong-woman” who would achieve

fame - or notoriety - in a circus.) But today there are some young girls sending shockwaves around the male weightlifting establishment by consistently lifting as much as and

often more than the men while weighing in at tens of kilograms lighter.

At least four names come to mind:

1. Varya  Akulova. At age 7 she could stand upright supporting a combined

weight of close to 700lbs. … her 220lb father sitting on her shoulders, her 150lb mother

standing balanced on her father’s shoulders, plus two adult males hanging on each side,

from her father’s outstretched arms. By the time she was 14 she could easily snatch or

clean and jerk more than 200lbs.

2. Zoe Smith. At age 14, 5’0” tall and under 100lbs in weight, she could clean and

jerk 240lbs and more. At 15 she represented Britain in the Olympic Games.

3. Naomi Kutin. At age 10  she was squatting with 214lbs. A year later it was up

4. Maryana Naumova. Aged 13, 5’8” and 130lbs, she broke several records with a

245lbs bench press.

These are just a few of the many well-documented cases of super-normal strength

in very young schoolgirls.

This  raises the question: “For the first time in human history, how and why is this

happening now?”

The answers - (there are several) - are to be found in the physical and

psychological abuse suffered by women at the hands of men over 2000 years of history.

Originally, male and female energies were equal and complimentary. In terms of

physical power, mind power and spiritual power, male/female energy was a unified,

creative force for  good. The male aspect was outwardly-oriented, constructive and

aggressive in its response to obstacles. The female  aspect was inwardly-oriented,

nurturing and peace-loving. Face-to-face they expressed love, mutual respect, marital

devotion and harmony. Side-by-side they stood for the creation and rearing of children

(parenthood), family happiness and the privacy and protective safety of the home.

Then, for some unknown reason, the three major religions, Judaism, Christianity

and Islam  - in their temples, churches and mosques, through their respective scriptures,

(Torah, New Testament and Koran) - conspired to mount a vicious  propagandacampaign against womanhood, beginning with the myth of Adam being tempted by Eve

to eat the ’forbidden fruit,’ continuing the onslaught in the teachings of St. Paul, right

through to the present-day suppressions and atrocities of Sharia Law. (Need we mention

the stoning of women in the Bible, the burning of witches by the Catholics in Europe and

the Protestants in Salem, and last but not least, the “honor-killings” in present-day Islam?)

Patriarchy truly has a lot to answer for.

But thankfully, this has all come to an end, through the recent emergence of the

fully empowered female - to whom this message is addressed.

You may be asking, “Why does this message place so much emphasis on physical

The answer is simply: “Women have for far too long allowed themselves to be

dominated, bullied and abused by larger, physically stronger men. Therefore women

must become noticeably stronger than these men - strong enough to defend themselves -

thereby shocking the cowards into submission, surprising them with unexpected physicalyet-feminine superiority.  If brute strength is the only ‘language’ these bullies

understand, then women must be able to ‘speak that language’ back to them; even if only

to warn them off with a non-violent demonstration of impressive muscle-power, (such as

lifting them off the ground in a rib-crushing bear-hug, for example.)”

So much for “base-level” ability.

On a higher plane of activity you are the transformers of society….the channels

through which the Goddess-energy will flow, to bring health and balance to a sick and

severely unbalanced world.

Beginning with the men in your life, be they brothers or boy-friends, your

example will be their motivation and inspiration. Instead of serving them from a position

of weakness, you will be helping and uplifting them from a position of strength and

spiritual insight. You will help  them  to exercise  their  potentials, be they athletic,

intellectual or artistic. Your physical power will motivate their athleticism; your intellect

will match and stimulate theirs; and your feminine strength and sensitivity will support,

inspire and appreciate their artistry. Because your’s will be the greater strength, there will

be no ego-driven competition separating you, just as there is no competition between

your personal trainer and yourself. Feeling your own strength of body and mind, you will

not feel the need for a bigger, stronger male partner to protect you or take control. You

will be free to connect with men who attract you, physically, mentally or spiritually, even

if you happen to be the stronger of the two. As women of strength you will be better

equipped to fulfill your female urge to love and to nurture.

And you will be happy.

Truly blessed will be he whom you choose to be your partner in life.

PART 2:

Continuation of Message to Teenage girls

1. Warriors of Light v Forces of Darkness

The world is divided into three large-scale divisions:

a) Those who align with GOOD

b) Those who are actively EVIL

c) The majority in between, who couldn’t care less, either way.

2. Where do you fit in? What do you believe is your function in life?

If you are reading this you no doubt belong to group a). In which case you may

align with GOOD passively or actively. Passively, you will have good intentions, but you

may not know how to activate them. Or you will feel too small and powerless to be a

significantly positive influence in a chaotic world, and think: “Why bother?”

The answer?

As an individual human being we occupy a miniscule amount of space in the

world. Relative to the size of the earth we are as tiny as a virus. Thus we believe we are

powerless to make any noticeable difference. Yet, if you consider the power of a submicroscopic virus to infect not only humans, but even elephants and whales, you will

begin to appreciate the fact that size is irrelevant. A single person can infect (as well as

inspire) the entire world. Adolf Hitler, the most virulent ‘human virus’ of all time,

infected the world for more than 15 years with his “epidemic” of German Nazism - a

plague that killed at least 10,000,000 people between the years 1933 to 1945. On the

positive side, a single, little-known doctor named Jonas Salk discovered the vaccine for

Polio, a dreaded disease that paralyzed or killed millions, thereby saving potentially tens

of millions of lives. And what about Jesus, who saved, and continues to save millions of

Therefore, if you know that you align with GOOD, do so actively.

3. How?

Firstly, know that you are as vast as your mind allows you to be. As Spirit you are

virtually infinite. Your “field of Being” is limited only by the range of your thoughts. For

some of you, your thoughts may range not much farther than your house and immediate

surroundings. That’s OK because it’s the quality of your thinking, not the ’size’ that

matters. At the other extreme, your thoughts may encompass the entire universe. In that

case you could very well be a successor to Albert Einstein.

But let’s get real.

As teenage girls you are just beginning to discover yourselves. You are living in a

new age, with its own unique  ’spirit of the times.’ The 21

rapid, far-reaching change, and you are all destined to play an important part in the

process. The spirit of the 21

mental or emotional distraction. There will be a lot of confusion regarding sexuality,

religious or non-religious belief and the purpose and meaning of life. Peoples lives will

be aimed almost exclusively at achieving material comfort and economic stability. With

the exception of hardcore athletes and bodybuilders, men will grow weaker and softer as

they become slaves to the internet and their I-Pads. Ruthless, power-hungry politicians

will increasingly make use of the internet to brainwash the computer addicts for their

own nefarious ends. People will continue to talk peace while they continue to wage war.

This is where you girls come into the picture.

You are the Warriors of Light!!

You are called warriors because the forces of darkness have been waging an

endless war against humanity for thousands of years. So far they have succeeded in

becoming rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of mankind. They will not

relinquish their power until a greater power defeats them; but the only way to defeat them

is by magnifying the mind-power of enough individuals to reach the critical mass of a

united ’world-mind.’ So the battle will be fought and won with the “weapons of thought

and mind-projection.” If this sounds far-fetched and a bit loony as well, just imagine the

way things would be had all wives and mothers demanded that their brothers, husbands

and sons refuse - once and for all - to fight anymore for the dark warmongers - to “lay

down their arms” and stop the killing. But women were supposedly “the weaker sex,” so

their men-folk ignored them and continued fighting. What could the little women do but

wring their hands and weep.

Now imagine a new age scenario where women are, by and large, the stronger

The same forces of darkness will be scheming and agitating, inciting (or trying to

incite) mob rallies, protests and violence…but the New Women will, first of all,

themselves refuse to participate in mob action, and secondly refuse to allow their men to

go out into the streets to participate.

“Honey, if you are so stupid as to insist on joining that mindless gang of losers,

I’ll either break both your arms or leave you forever. Feel free to choose.”

The poor guy - knowing from the friendly wrestling matches they occasionally

indulged in that she could break his arms or would leave him for good if she so chose -

wisely decides to stay at home and watch Fox News instead.

If 50% of the human race (the female half) decided to put a stop to all warfare,

that would be the end of it.

This is why you girls are so important. Your goal is to become so strong that

every man, from the weakest to the strongest, respects and recognizes your power. At the

same time you will continue to educate yourselves, intellectually, emotionally and

spiritually, to  take your place as leaders of society. Given your innate wisdom and

feminine intuition, plus the evolutionary jump in physical strength, you will truly be a

force to reckon with.