Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eating is more about you, it's about the world.

When most of us begin to diet or be more aware of our food intake, our purpose is to improve ourselves.
However, few of us change our diets to make them more friendly to our earth.
Why is that? Why is our way of thinking all about "me"? And not about "us" or "the world"?
The nice thing however, is that we can eat for both. We can achieve our body composition goals while still bettering our planet.
And, eating "Green" as it should be termed, does not have to mean being a vegetarian or only paying for high-priced speciality foods.
You can make foods choices that are friendly to our environment that are easy, but that will also help you change your body composition for the better.
For example:
When choosing fruits and vegetables - become a Localvore. Choose those that are found in your immediate area and that vary with the seasons. Buy from local farmers, support Farmer's markets, read the label on the fruits and vegetables in your grocery store and try to buy those that come from no farther than a 150 mile radius. The benefit of farm-fresh products, is that they are usually less preserved, fresher, and then organic. This equates to better taste as well!
When choosing meat, poulty, and eggs - again, buy those that come from local farms or that support animal-friendly farm practices such as free-range animals and no hormone useage. For example, the goat yogurt that I eat comes from a very animal-friendly farm.
REDWOOD HILL FARM & CREAMERY, based in California makes the goat products that I choose to eat. I recently emailed them to tell them how much I love their products and this is what they had to say:
Thank you so much for your wonderful comments! They are the best compliments that we can get! We are so happy to know that our products have met your expectations. It warms our heart when we get comments like yours. Lets us know we are on the right track:)

We have over 300 goats and they all have different names because they all have different personalities. They are amazing members if our family thatwe treat with love and respect and we can taste it in the yogurts, cheeses and kefir.
Yes, you read that right: this farm loves their goats so much that they've named them and call them family! They respect their goats, and the goats respect them back.
When choosing animal foods, like goat dairy, it's best to find companies and farms like Redwood Hill who really care. This translates to less animal cruelty in our world to produce foods that we love and benefit from.
When choosing all other foods - remember that you're looking out for the sustainability of our world. You're avoiding overpackaging, which contributes to waste, you're saying no to chemicals and additives, and you're not supporting cruelty to animals. Buy purchasing earth-friendly, organic, farm-raised, and natural foods, you're helping your waistline while preserving the world for our future population.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

For the love of yogurt.

It's been years since I've been able to eat yogurt, or any cow's milk products for that matter, but just recently I've discovered something that makes this possible again.

My intolerance to cow's dairy started as a child (about 10 years old). My father used to force me to drink my milk for breakfast, but I always whined and complained that it make me feel terrible and hurt my stomach. But, he wanted my bones to grow strong and figured milk was the answer.

When I was old enough to choose my own morning beverage, it definitely wasn't cow's milk. Basically, I haven't drank cow's milk since I became a teen and I'm MUCH happier and less bloated.

I did, however, still enjoy cottage cheese and yogurt. One of my favorite high-protein combinations was cottage cheese with vanilla whey protein powder and slivered almonds. Another I enjoyed was plain yogurt with ground flax seeds and vanilla whey protein powder. But... as of about 6 years ago, my body just stopped being tolerant to all dairy, no matter what form it was in. And, the issue wasn't just lactose, because I tried all the Lactaid and low-lactaid products you could imagine (i.e. mozzarella) and it did no good. I really suspect the issue is the casein milk protein because if I eat anything with that in it, I get a ragging headache and intense bloating. Not fun. Whey protein is only a problem if it's not highly purified and contains added digestive enzymes. The brand I use and recommend to my cow's milk sensitive clients is Dymatize Elite Whey Protein Isolate. It tastes great and doesn't come with the gas and bloat that other brands of whey can sometimes cause.

Some people feel that adult on-set allergies are not really due to our body becoming intolerant to a food, but to the fact that our food supply is completely overprocessed and contains more preservatives than it can handle. I tend to agree. For example, my issues with dairy became worse when I moved to the US, versus only somewhat terrible when I lived in Canada (who has different milk processing methods).

In any matter, I don't have to worry about cow's milk any more (or miss yogurt). I've now discovered the wonder of goat milk . Through this wonderful little animal, I can now enjoy goat cheese on my salads and omletes, and goat yogurt for a mid-day snack (with nuts and nutritional yeast :) ).

If your body really has an issue with cow's milk, I encourage you to give Goat's Milk products a try. They really taste good and give you the chance to love dairy again without the discomfort.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Don't sit to exercise! or, Seated machines should be banned!

(Warning, this blog post contains my rant of the week.)

Picture this: Your day begins as you swing your legs out of bed, hit the shower and make breakfast. You then, walk outside to your car to drive your regular 20 to 30 minute commute to work. Once at work, you walk about 2 minutes to get in the door of your office and sit yourself down at your desk to begin your work day.

For the next 4 hours, you sit with little movement other than to fill up your coffee mug and visit the bathroom. During lunch, you either get up to get your meal from the lunch room and eat it seated at the lunch tables or your desk. Then, you continue to sit for the next 4 to 5 hours until your work day is over.

Once your day is done, you get back in your car, and drive yourself to the gym. After changing into your workout clothes, you walk to the cardio equipment and sit down on one of the bikes to peddle your heart rate up for about 10 minutes. You then head to the weight machines and sit down to perform seated hamstring curls, seated shoulder press, seated ab crunches, seated lat pulldowns and whatever other seated machine you can figure out how to use.

After this vigorous workout, you change and drive yourself home. At home, you quickly throw together a meal for dinner and then eat it either sitting in front of your T.V. or your computer. Besides taking a shower, you continue in this seated position until it's time to lay yourself down to bed.

Notice anything repetative in this usual day? Well, what I was trying to point out was that this "demonstrative" person sits for more hours a day than they actually move their body in an upright position. And, what's even more frustrating, is that this is how 80% of our population lives their lives everyday!

We've got to stop this seated madness! Sitting all day long (even at the gym!) is one of the main reasons people struggle with thier body weight and have increased skeletal-muscular issues! But, it doesn't have to be like this!!

Yes, I understand that many of us can't change the fact that we have a desk job, where the majority of our working time is spent sitting. But, we don't have to exasperate this problem by mimicking the rest of our day in this same position!

To start: STEP AWAY FROM THE SEATED EXERCISE MACHINES!!!! If I had it my way, those things would be completely banned from any exercise facility. You DON'T need to sit to exercise your hamstrings, shoulders, chest, etc. All of these same movements that you see locked into a machine can be performed in a supine, prone or standing position with dumbbells, bars, bands and balls! For example, if you're doing the lat pulldown exercise, why not stand while performing the motion? This way you activate your glutes, abs, and legs to keep you from being pulled up and you have to work harder to pull the weight down since your knees aren't locked under a knee-pad. Trust me, I do this everytime I lift and wouldn't sit down if you paid me to do so.... If you feel uncomfortable doing any of these exercise, enlist the help of a reputable certified personal trainer or learn from the many excellent books and websites on the topic.

Next: Increase upright activity in your daily routine as much as possible. For example, if you can't ride a bike to work, or even walk, start your day a bit earlier with exercise around your house or neighborhood. Even something as simple as starting your morning with a 15 minute walk is better than no exercise at all!

Then, at lunch, skip your eating time and replace it with a walk around the block. If you don't have a block to walk around, then walk the stairs for 15 minutes (your building has those, I promise).

After your evening workout, spend less time sitting. Yes, you should sit to spend time with your family at the dinner table, but afterwards, spend it doing things that can require you to stand, like sweeping the house, doing laundry, folding laundry, pulling weeds from your flower bed, etc. Anything but spending more time seated is the most ideal situation.

I've become very passionate about this anti-sitting crusade because for my dietetic internship I have to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. So, during my day, I get up as much as possible to fill up my stainless steel water bottle, tea mug or visit the bathroom. I also take a walking break to cruise the block before lunch, at lunch and before my day is done. In the mornings, I start my day earlier so that I can either get to the gym (no seated exercises), do a bootcamp class at the track, run stadiums at the track, or do exercises in my bedroom. After work, I workout again, doing either a workout at the gym, track, or at the local yoga studio (the pilates V-pose is one of my challenges to master!).

Overall, I've learned that even with an 8-hour desk job, your life does not have to be completely seated. There are so many things you can do to get away from this detrimental lifestyle; it only takes a few modifications, but you can do it and you'll feel better (and look better) because of it.

Now go forth and be upright like nature intended you to be!!!