Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Conflicting Advice

 

I have heard many complaints that there’s so much conflicting advice, people don’t know what to believe.

Some of this is because of “common knowledge” that hasn’t caught up to more recent research. (Some of the “more recent” research isn’t all that new — it’s just not managed to eradicate the old knowledge. Change is possible, but it sure is slow sometimes!)

Some of it is conflicting research.

But some of it is just conflicting goals.

Advice that is given for weight loss is not necessarily healthy.

Examples:

Weight loss advice: Use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to reduce calories.

Health advice: Artificial sweeteners are not good for you, mess up your taste for sweetness, and should be avoided.

Weight loss advice: Use low-fat products instead of their full-fat counterparts.

Heath advice: When fat is taken out of processed foods, flavor tends to go with it. Manufacturers replace the fat with other things, generally chemicals, that aren’t good for you. Full-fat in moderation is better than low-fat. (For an explanation of why this is also true with dairy, please see here.)

The advice dished out about fat and carbs is enough to make your head spin.

Don’t get me started on meal replacement (protein) bars. Or potatoes.

Here’s my take: if it is healthy, it is a good choice. If you focus on being healthy (eating healthy foods, keeping your body moving, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, etc.), the fat loss will follow.

If you focus on fat loss, there are too many negatives associated with it. Too many opportunities to feel deprived. For many, too many, “I can’t — I’m on a diet”s. These mindsets are not sustainable.

Eat to be healthy. Look for the information that guides you to health. The fat will follow.

Health Care

Heath care has been all over the news and a hot topic of debate since the Supreme Court’s ruling. Regardless of that, here is the problem with health care in the US:

It’s reactive.

When you have a problem, you go to doctors and see if they can fix it, or kind of fix it, or maybe just fix it enough that you can live with it.

We sit at desks all day and on couches all evening, we eat too much refined food, too much sugar, too much salt, too much meat, not enough fruits and vegetables, we don’t get enough sleep, we create stressful lives for ourselves, and then complain that we get sick.

I often bring these things back to cancer because that’s where I have the most experience.

People walk and run and bike and write checks “for a cure.” Tons and tons of money is poured into research.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But most people blow off what the research finds, and that drives me bonky.

There are clear connections between breast cancer and plastics. Doesn’t stop most people from drinking bottled water, steaming their veggies in the bag, eating canned food, or reheating food in plasticware.

There are clear connections between being overweight and some cancers. Not only do people deny the connection, they deny they’re overweight. There seems to be a mentality of “skinny isn’t healthy either!” And while it’s true that skinny, unless that’s your body type, isn’t healthy, that doesn’t justify being 15 pounds — or more — overweight. We’re so used to seeing people who are overweight that when we see people who are a healthy weight, we think they’re skinny.

Smoking. Yeah.

Why fund research if we’re just going to ignore it anyway?

My impression is that many (most?) people don’t want to know how to prevent diseases — at least not through lifestyle changes. They want science to develop a quick easy way to fix it once they’ve contracted something, or maybe a shot to ward it off in the first place.

(source)

Can you imagine most people’s reactions if that’s what their doctor prescribed?

People seem to take better care of their cars than their bodies … but you can buy another car (or get around without one ;) ). You only get one body…

Where are you on preventative maintenance? Do you practice it? Are you for it in theory but haven’t gotten around to doing it? Think it’s bunk? What’s your biggest obstacle?

Plastics Make You … Fat?

If I’d seen this article two days ago, I would have included it in yesterday’s post. Really interesting piece on how plastics are making us fat.

Check it out.

The Skinny on Fat-Free

Did you ever notice that things that are full of fat taste so good?

What happens when you take out the fat? It doesn’t taste as good.

From a manufacturing perspective, this means fewer people will buy it and less profit will be made. (Don’t be fooled — they don’t actually care what it does to you as long as you buy it.)

So when they take out the fat, they often replace it with sugar.

Make sure you are reading your labels. Most of the time, it’s better to just go with the full-fat version and eat a moderate portion. Or substitute the entire food. Just going with low fat/no fat isn’t going to get you where you need to go.

Look at this package:

Is that healthy? It says right on the front that it’s a low-fat candy! Low fat = good, right??

OK, you might not be duped by something so obvious, but really — compare labels. Take the regular version and the altered version. Compare the nutrition charts. Compare the ingredients lists. Make educated decisions. Don’t make your decision based on the front of the package.

Babies Test Positive For Pot?

Article summary: there are at least five baby soaps that are linked to babies testing positive for marijuana in urine tests.

While this raises quite a few questions or concerns, one in particular is my target today:

How’d it get in the babies’ urine?

There are a whole lot of people who think I’m wackadoo for making my own shampoo and deodorant, for not using lotion or wearing makeup. While the lotion and makeup already just happened to be in my (lazy) routine, the homemades were intentional. It goes back to my “control what I reasonably can” philosophy.

There is a lot of garbage in personal care products. Much of that garbage isn’t harmless garbage. The industry is unregulated. It’s up to consumers to 1- know there are toxic chemicals in these products and 2- search for products that are safe for themselves and their families.

Regardless of what the ingredient is that causes the positive tests, this is what’s happening:

A baby is washed with soap and then rinsed off. Contact time with the soap is easily measured in minutes and is completely external.

Something in the soap is being absorbed through the skin, being processed (or not) by the body, and being excreted through urine.

Are you getting this? Something in a product that is 100% topical and is rinsed off is being absorbed into the body.

What’s in your soap? Or worse, what’s in your deodorant (which you leave on all day)? Or your lotion?

The Environmental Working Group has a database of hundreds (thousands?) of personal care products, where they break down the ingredients and give each a score based on their safety. I love EWG’s work (and am not paid to say that; I don’t think they even know who I am ;)). You can see their cosmetics database here.

I’m not trying to be alarmist, but I think people should know what they’re doing to themselves to they can choose whether or not it’s something they want to do. (Actually, I think toxic products shouldn’t be available…) There are non-toxic products out there. Typically, they cost more (though if you’re going the homemade route for cleansers, it’s WAY cheaper). If the majority of people were concerned and spoke with their wallets, we wouldn’t need to do extra work to find good stuff because that’s what would be available.

In the US, money is what drives everything. If we want change, we need to speak in dollars.

Is this disconcerting to you at all?

My New/Old Journey of Change

138 pounds.

That’s what I weighed this morning when I stepped on the scale. The last few days have been between 136 and 138, so that’s my starting window.

It’s time for the baby fat to go.

When I was pregnant, I had plans for losing the baby weight after The Kid was born. What I didn’t take into account was milk supply. To put it mildly, nursing was … difficult at first. Once we hit a good groove, I went back to teaching (thankfully only part time) and needed to pump. Through all of this, The Kid has been a very enthusiastic eater. It was really important to me to keep up my supply, so I didn’t focus on cutting calories. There was time later for the fat to go.

The time has come.

I’m still nursing, but I rarely need to pump. He’s starting to eat solid food, though he wears or drops more than he eats, I think. But I’m ready for these extra pounds to go. (Oh, and the “breastfeeding helps you lose weight” thing? Might be true, if it also didn’t make me HUNGRY.)

While I am using the scale as a tool, it’s not my end-all-be-all. 120 is my target, but really, my pre-pregnancy clothes need to fit. My arms need to not jiggle. And you need to be able to see my abs. Those were all in place prior to the baking of The Kid.

Here’s the thing, and if you’ve ever gotten into a habit and had it thrown off, you know this already: getting back into the habit of eating well and exercising is hard. Yep, it’s hard for me, too.

There are an awful lot of people who think that these things come easily to me. False. That said, once I’m in an exercise groove, once I’ve kicked the sugar cravings, then it’s easy. But if you could get there, it would be easy for you, too. It’s getting there that’s hard. My advantage right now is that I know how it feels to be on the flip side, to crave vegetables instead of cookies, to be able to tell from my body and not the calendar that I didn’t exercise yesterday. It feels amazing. Energy, clarity, stress levels. a-MAZ-ing. Worth it. Oh, and it’s healthier.

OK, so we’ve established that I’m human and that I’m a step beyond “soft.” What am I going to do about it?

I am running accountability groups, but I see those as something to manage, not something to participate in. My external accountability will be here, on the blog, but that’s just motivation, not a plan.

I already registered to do a triathlon in October, which means I need to train. But that’s not a plan; that’s just motivation.

Here’s my plan:

1- Create an exercise schedule. I’ve been going to spin on Thursday evenings on a fairly regular basis. The plan is to spin on Thursday evenings and Saturday or Sunday mornings. I’m going to swim two days a week, lift two days a week, and run at least once a week. Some of these things will be on the same day, so maybe I’ll spin then run on Saturday, or something like that. (That works well for tri training, too.)

2- Plan meals better. The Big Man and I are pretty good about planning dinners for the week on the weekend, shopping for whatever we need on Sunday or Monday, then following through. What we don’t plan, and where I get stuck, is lunch. I hate lunch. I wish I didn’t need to eat in the middle of the day. But I do. So I’m going to do better in planning lunch, which will give me the fuel I need to exercise in the morning and also allow me not to be famished (and overeat) at dinner. What I think I’m going to do, though I haven’t given it much thought yet, is to incorporate a “rainbow” into my lunches, so no matter what we have for dinner, I’ve already covered the spectrum.

3- Cut the crap. I’ve been off and on with reducing/eliminating sugary foods. My long-term plan is to cut added sugar entirely. I have a post in the works about all the nasty things that sugar does to your body, and when I remember, I think hard about those things when really, I want a cookie. It helps. I’m already off artificial sweeteners, and I already know that when I don’t eat junk food, fruit is sufficiently sweet to take care of a craving almost all of the time. (And when I very rarely eat sweets, one cookie is enough. Talk about liberating and not to be ruled by the cookies!) Regardless, my short-term goal is twice a week. This includes coffee shop chai, which is loaded with sugar. (I’m getting closer to a home-brew that is delicious. In trying recipes, I’ve stepped up from “I can’t drink this” to “This has promise.”)

That’s all. Haha — “all.” But I know that I can manage these three things at once. The Big Man is on board with the exercise schedule. (He needs to be, since he’ll be watching The Kid at those times.)

I am excited to rediscover my old habits and my old body. And with The Kid being mobile now, I’m going to need all of the energy I can get…

What are your short- or long-term goals? Do you have plans to go along with them? (Near or far, come join an accountability group — we’ll help you!)

Whew, Made It

Monday, Tuesday, Nichol, Thursday, Friday

I made it. After a pretty scary couple of weeks, I am feeling better than ever. I took a solitary weekend and vegetated. I read in bed, took two-hour naps, watched mindless TV, and played Xbox. It was amazing.

I just let everything get to me and I got really overwhelmed. I let go of my mottos (happiness is a choice, let go let God) and I couldn’t seem to get them back. I saw it coming and probably could have taken some preventative measures, but I have this undying need to do it all and make sure I know I have done anything and everything before I can relax.

That causes a lot of problems with my mental health. My job, my classes, the books and articles I read all stress self-care. I just have let that go.

Last Tuesday was a huge wakeup call. I had a moment at work where I was thinking, “I literally cannot stop crying. Someone is going to have to take me to the hospital.” Working with psychiatrically hospitalized adults, I know the signs. It’s my job to do crisis intervention and stabilization. I was too busy focusing on them; I forgot about me.

It wasn’t even just about work. It was this whole mess of crap that seemed to crash down at once. And some really trivial things. I was freaking out about money. My bills are paid. But I can’t buy pants…which I need. Literally need. I think my office might take up a collection, which would be awesome…

But I’m good now. Things have worked themselves out and I’ve let go of some things that needed to be let go of. For instance, I’m not willing to take out a $4000 personal loan for two summer school classes and I definitely don’t have the money for even one class. So…no summer school.

So next week, it’s back to health and wellness and mile talk. I just had a minor freak out and now I’m better. Just as I figured I had to be at some point.

Best part, I still mile-d everyday!

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