My client called me a “hater” today …

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 4 comments

Okay, so it was really “Cheerios hater,” which seems a little less harsh. And I feel inspired to explain that one to the world at large – what is it about Cheerios that I have an issue with? Whether you think I’m a hater or not is up to you …

If you look at the label, one cup of Cheerios has just one gram of sugar and three grams of fiber. Sometimes I use the ratio of fiber to sugar as a way to judge what cereal to suggest. So if that was my only judgement, I’d have to say Cheerios isn’t all that bad. 100 calories, more fiber than sugar, no fat … what more could a healthy eating person wish for?

I’m not the only one discussing this question right now. CNN Health just posted an article today called, “How to choose a healthy breakfast cereal.” (Hint … no Cheerios on the list … )

Well … what are my two main reasons for disrespecting Cherrios?

1. First four ingredients: Whole grain oats (includes the oat bran), modified corn starch, trisodium phosphate and wheat starch. Ingredients are always listed in the order of amount – so the ingredient which makes up the largest part of the cereal is listed first. But there’s no way to know if the largest part is 99% or 30% … it’s just never listed.

Yup, whole grain oats is a positive. A lot of breakfast cereal is still processed through equipment that extrudes it into the round “o” shape … or flakes or whatever. So it bears little resemblance to actual whole oats (think oatmeal here). But fundamentally this is an important first ingredient.

Modified corn starch is corn whose fundamental properties have been changed so that it can be used simply as a thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier. Although I have no proof, most corn in this type of application is likely to be genetically modified (GMO). Because the corn has been genetically altered, our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process it and best draw any available nutrients from it. Then it’s modified again into corn starch, so our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process that either. This kind of long-term confusion can be damaging to our digestion.

Tripotassium phosphate is a potassium salt of phosphoric acid used as an antioxidant synergist, buffer and emulsifier in food. Potassium and phosphate are naturally occurring compounds in our own bodies, so their are few known side effects. But again this is the third ingredient on the list and it just doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

Wheat starch is wheat flour (already a refined ingredient) that has been further processed to remove the proteins from it. Like the last two ingredients, this is used as a stabilizer or thickener. It’s just there so that the “o” stays in an “o” shape. Or so that the “o” doesn’t rot too quickly.

2. Processed, processed, processed: Breakfast cereal can be one of the most highly processed foods we choose during our day. Of course there are cereal choices that may be less processed, but most cereal has been smooshed, mashed, baked, and coated for hours and hours. Check out this video from the folks at How It’s Made. It’s not a whole food like oatmeal, for example. If you are trying to make healthier choices, you want to get closer to whole foods as the basis of every meal.

If not Cheerio’s, then what? Let’s just say that breakfast cereal is something you need to keep in your daily meal plans – there’s no doubting its convenience! What would I pick in this case? Well, here’s an option that isn’t marketed by a huge company spending gazillions of dollars on advertising. Even more important, it’s possible to pronounce the entire ingredient list. Plus it’s nutrition label tells me there’s 0 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fiber – that’s a good ratio in my book. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to buy something in a box I’d prefer a choice like this. While it’s not technically whole food, it has more redeeming value and a whole lot less hype on the front of the box!

 

I could actually write quite a bit more about breakfast cereal … but I must get going to my day and probably you feel the same way! Let me know what your favorite breakfast choices are – whole foods or not – I’m curious to know. And thanks for reading this far so you know I’m not really a hater!

Ready to get started making healthier choices? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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Getting the Most from Exercise

Posted by on Feb 6, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I wasn’t the kind of kid who played organized sports or even kickball in the street. I did take some dance classes, but at the time no one thought of them as exercise. Plus I was oh-so-uncoordinated … Of course I took phys ed class at school but I would have just as soon gone to the library. I never took pleasure in physical activity.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I discovered exercise as a feel good activity. I learned that it wasn’t all about building muscle, although that was a lovely side effect. My office was in the same building as a small gym, and it was free to belong. My girlfriends went up to the gym on their lunch hour, and I thought I’d try it too. I started to think about burning calories and “getting in shape.” I also discovered that it made me feel energetic and even happy!

Since then, I have done a lot of different things to gain all of these benefits – lifted weights, used cardio machines, taken yoga and water exercise classes, walked sidewalks and nature trails, and even bicycled a few miles. Now I can’t imagine my life without some sweaty, heavy-breathing, heart-pounding exercise every week. Whenever possible, I integrate exercise into my travel schedule as well. One of the benefits of my recent vacation was having time to catch three yoga classes during the week!

Here are some ideas I’ve gathered over the years. I hope they help you get moving towards adding exercise into your life!

Seven Tips for Getting the Most from your Exercise

1. Sweat: Make sure that when you exercise, it makes you sweat! When you exercise, you gain access to endorphins, a chemical produced by your body that can make you feel fantastic. Sweating intensely or even somewhat can contribute to detoxification of your skin and body. It makes you glow!

2. Switch: Switch up your exercise during the week, month or year. Don’t expect the same benefits forever from your routine. I find that learning something new is great for my body and my mind. Plus my muscles get bored doing the same type of exercise all the time. Every time I switch it up I gain momentum and strength. It’s also a great way to meet new friends and even do some networking!

3. Schedule: Incorporate exercise like it was another important appointment in your calendar. Put it in the calendar, and reschedule instead of cancel whenever you need to adjust your schedule. Commit to keep the appointments with yourself – you are worth it! If you are exercising with a health goal in mind, you can even write yourself a “prescription” that reminds you why you make the time to move more.

4. Experts: Schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer or coach who is an expert in the exercise you are practicing. Learn the best way! It will keep you from injuring yourself and maybe even motivate you to go further.

5. Hydrate: Make sure that as you exercise you are getting the water-based hydration you need. If you aren’t hydrated, exercise and lots of sweat can make you feel worse. There’s nothing more de-motivating than that! Experiment and discover what types of fuel work best for you – and what timing works best for you too. For example, I wouldn’t want to eat for at least 3 hours before a yoga class. But with other types of exercise I generally want some healthy carbs for fuel within an hour of starting.

6. Get dressed – Here’s a crazy idea from Dawn Jackson Blatner — get all dressed and ready to exercise, then go to the gym/studio/pool and don’t exercise! Walk around a bit and see what everyone else is getting to do, but go home before you do anything. After just three days of this you may be dying to actually exercise!

7. Listen to your body – Sometimes when we start something new, we push ourselves pretty hard. If you’re starting to hurt instead of feel energized, remember to back off based on how you feel not what someone else tells you is possible. Sleep if you need to. Find that fine line between listening to your body’s needs and being lazy. Don’t cross into lazy, but don’t hurt yourself either!

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Nutrition on a Post-It Note?

Posted by on Nov 13, 2011 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

 

 

Maybe you’ve heard that physicians typically take less than one nutrition class in their entire pre-med and medical school curriculum. But did you know that the typical family physician expects their patients to learn all necessary nutrition from advice on a Post-It Note?

This is an actual test result mailed from an actual physician’s office to an actual patient – my darling husband. He’s lucky to have a Health Coach living in his house, because we can work together on a realistic, achievable plan to address this important health matter.

If you aren’t lucky enough to be living with a Health Coach, what would you do with this advice? How would you know what steps to take to put it successfully into practice? Do you have any idea about the “low-fat” marketing ploys used by food manufacturers to prey upon your fears after receiving a test like this?

I know that my certification in Holistic Health Coaching has benefitted my clients. Now I have a chance to help the most important client in my life … so I can keep him around to see our grandchildren grow up and get married.

What can I do to help the most important client in YOUR life?

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Digital Sabbatical

Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Ever thought about taking a one-day-a-week digital sabbatical? I have – because a month or so ago I read this great article from Elephant Journal. Now I like my technology as much as the next girl … or maybe more. But sometimes it’s a lot of responsibility, and can be distracting from real people and tasks to complete. Or it can keep me from fulling enjoying the FUN things in life!

So starting tonight at midnight, I am taking my own 24-hour digital sabbatical. Or as my friend Heather (who is going to join me) calls it … a Techno-Fast!

Care to come along with us on this journey?

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7 tips for making healthier food choices when you travel

Posted by on Jun 21, 2011 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Lots of us use routine and discipline as key elements in our effort to stay healthy. But when we start a trip, all of our usual routines can go out the window. Discipline is easy when you have control of your environment, but travel generally puts us out of control and into unknown territory.

What can you do to stay as healthy as possible given these factors? Here are seven simple tips to incorporate into your trips:

1. Try not to use the trip as one giant “treat meal.”

I remember when a weekend trip was my opportunity to “cheat” for 2-3 days. I also remember when it was easy to recover from that trip … it’s not so easy now.  There’s a lot to be said for keeping a degree of discipline while you travel. How much discipline is up to you, but it can make you feel more “at home” in unfamiliar places.

2. In airports, find a quiet(er) place to eat. Make the experience as much like a regular meal as possible.

Airports are so full of busyness and constant noise and movement. Eating in this type of environment can often make us eat extremely quickly, which results in overeating or digestive issues. Since neither of those things are comfortable during a trip, try to find a quiet (or at least quieter) spot for your meal. Get your food to go, and walk all the way to the end of the concourse. You’ll get some space plus a few extra steps of exercise. Find the least busy restaurant (which sometimes is the one with healthier choices!) and eat there. Sit at a table as far away from the edge of foot traffic as possible. Remember to breathe and to chew your food.

3. Make water your main beverage for air / car / train travel.

Plain bottled water has so many benefits for our bodies. No calories, no sodium and just pure hydration. It supports healthy digestion and fills us up so we snack less. Stick to water during your travel days instead of soda, alcohol or juice.

4. Look for fruit & vegetables

A lot of fast food stops are offering fruits and vegetables as a part of their menu selection. Pick up a banana or an apple in the airport terminal to replace the snacks on the plane. Or choose a salad with limited cheese, fried toppings, and dressing – focus on the vegetables in the salad instead.

5. Think about and plan ahead for the entire day’s meals.

Whether you’re traveling or have reached your destination, make your meal and snack choices mindfully. If breakfast is the only meal where you’ll be able to choose the source, then choose the healthier options for breakfast. If every meal choice is up to you, then enjoy some new and healthy options in your travel location. (see tip number 6)

6. Use available online and smart phone apps to get review & suggestions that lead you to healthier choices.

When I was a kid, we always took a guidebook from AAA on our vacations. We used the book to find things to do, but also restaurant choices. It’s pretty wonderful when you imagine how far we’ve come from that static information! There are so many fantastic resources to find healthy quality food choices on the road. In airports, I like GateGuru. In a new city, I use Yelp almost exclusively when choosing restaurants. The reviews from real people are an incredibly helpful resource.

7. Pack one small bar of decadent delicious dark chocolate and use it as you sweet treats – for the entire trip!

For me, sweets are the ongoing temptation. Now before I travel, I pack a bar of fantastic dark chocolate in my bag. After choosing to skip all the overly indulgent sweets during the day, I will often treat myself to just one square of that dark chocolate at the end of the day. I find it helps me when I aim for “healthier” instead of “perfect” while traveling.

What are your favorite tips for healthier food choices when you travel?

 

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