Saturday, February 27, 2016

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This morning I did something I haven't done for quite awhile - I went for a run in my neighborhood. I discovered some great things that I tend to take for granted after almost 5 years of living here...
  1. We live in an actual neighborhood. Where, yes, garage doors are shut and 2 parents work all day, but it's also where kids gather on the playground and ride bikes and neighbors visit in their driveways to discuss their weeks and their plans. Lot's of that today.
  2. A house sold in 3 days! We complain about too many apartments being built too close and a pool that's too small but we still have a place that others WANT to be. 
  3. Someone has a rockin' Honda Civic Hatchback (circa 1985) that is in amazing condition. I hope they never sell it, but if they do I hope it's to me! 
  4. People drive too fast through the common areas...but even more slow down and offer a wave and a smile. We are overall a pleasant, caring neighborhood.


When you look at the stats on my watch, today probably ranks as one of my worst runs of all time..... 20 seconds slower per mile that my pace when I was just starting out as a runner.  Almost a full minute per mile slower than the same exact taper run a year ago.


But you know the funny part? It was actually one of my BEST runs. I got to see my neighborhood from a fresh, new perspective and wave hello to some people I have never met - and maybe never will.

Sometimes (like this morning) I feel the competitor in me slipping away. But you know what, that's OK. If I'm going to be out pounding the asphalt, I might as well enjoy it, right?

In the wise words of Mr. Rogers, it truly is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.


Monday, February 22, 2016

(Real) Nutrition Talk

Last week I had a chance to watch a webinar hosted by Ace Fitness  & presented by Justin Robinson, a Registered Sports Dietician and Strength & Conditioning Coach.


This presentation was a little different than what I've seen and heard in the past - this one focused not on caloric intake but on ingredient intake - mainly those processed, manufactured ingredients that plague some of favorite foods....soda, chips, even nutrition bars and protein shakes.


I am not a nutritionist, but I am a health and wellness professional and understand the physiology of the human body. It loves nutrition, it needs food to function, but what types are the best to suggest to someone inquiring about food?  This is just what I was looking for!


If you've read other healthy blogs or magazines outlining the habits of fit individuals you've probably seen that one thing they have in common is that they DON'T count calories. I bounce back and forth like a ping pong ball when discussing calorie tracking - do we need to track calories, or don't we?


When we track do we tend to become obsessed - as opposed to AWARE - and add extra stress to our lives? Or does it cause us to eat better because we don't want to have to write down that Snickers bar we wolfed down after lunch? Is logging for a few days every month to find a baseline acceptable?

But when we're only looking at calories there is one big thing we forget..."0" calories doesn't mean "0" effect on your body.


What I do know, and this webinar reinforced, is that eating whole, fresh, homemade foods reduces your caloric intake without you even realizing it! I am going to start with the boring stuff, but it's only brief, so stick with me and I'll share what I learned about reading the Ingredients List instead of the Nutrition Panel on the back of any package.


The Basics of Energy Balance
Energy (calorie) balance depends on 3 factors
  • Intake: food & beverage
  • Energy Output:
    • resting metabolism
    • physiology (digestion, feeding your organs, your brain)
    • activity - structured (exercise) and unstructured (daily activity)
  • Energy Storage:
    • lean muscle tissue (carbohydrate & protein)
    • fat tissue (fats)
There are 2 hormones that tell your brain that you are either hungry or satisfied:
  • Ghrelin: the "hunger hormone"
    • Comes from the stomach
  • Leptin: decreases hunger
    • Comes from fat
Your body breaks food down into blood sugar...processed foods are generally low in protein & fat and lead to extreme highs and lows, causing those cravings and making your feel hungry more often.


Picture from ACE Fitness 3D Nutritional Balance Webinar


According to Justin, a diet high in fibrous carbs, protein and healthy fat allows you more self control. Which explains why an hour after I had that sugar cookie on Valentine's Day I was sweating and craving more bad stuff.


The 80/20 Rule
I once read that cleaning eating is eating whole, fresh foods 80% of the time.  Going clean, especially if you have been following a fast food diet, can be difficult and is ever harder to maintain if you try to go at it 100% - it's too easy to fall off and get frustrated.



The key is making the healthiest choice you can in the moment...which we'll get to next. Plan your meals and snacks and keep the events of your coming week in mind when doing so...weddings, birthday parties, soccer practice.


Healthy Days Ahead
One of the best parts of the webinar was the comparison between what is a seemingly healthy day vs. a cleaner eating kind of day. I've posted before about the cost of eating healthy and the difference swapping items can make to your budget and your caloric intake....but this time, let's look strictly at ingredients list.


Breakfast: Cereal, Toast, Banana & Coffee with Coffee-Mate Creamer: 610 calories, 59 ingredients
Snack: Fiber One Mint Fudge Brownie: 375 calories, 50 ingredients
Lunch: Subway 6" Turkey on cheese bread, Sun Chips, Diet Coke: 620 calories, 111 ingredients
Dinner: Pasta with Ragu Classic sauce: 980 calories, 27 ingredients
Total Ingredients: 247!


Tomorrow try:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with kale & spinach and an avocado, banana & coffee with milk and sugar: 530 calorie, 8 ingredients
Snack: LARA bar: 220 calories, 2 ingredients
Lunch: Salad with pulled chicken, black beans, spinach and field greens and your favorite veggies: 600 calories, 21 ingredients
Dinner: Squash with apple sausage and an orange: 520 calories,  13 ingredients
Total Ingredients: 44


Tomorrow sure is looking good to me!


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