Protein, Protein, Protein

Protein

I cannot believe it’s almost October already! This year has really flown by! We are now in double-digits to the New Year. I have less than 4 weeks until my competition and 8 weeks until Vegas. In May, when I decided to not do the Miami competition in June these two competitions seemed so far away.

Anyway, this time of year is when we start slacking a little with our workouts and nutrition in favor of the awesome comfort foods of the season. That is so easy to do, believe me.

One thing you can do this time of year is to make sure that you’re getting a good source of protein. Protein can help you feel fuller longer, and help keep your cravings at bay. Even though protein requirements vary from person to person, protein is very important. I recently wrote a blog article for Muscle Freaks Nutrition about the importance of protein for women. You can check it out here.

I do eat lots of protein, much more than most, but I’m getting ready to do a competition. How much you actually need can vary on your body type and your activity level.  The USDA says 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight is fine, but they make no distinction on activity levels, just a blanket recommendation for everyone. I think that’s a little low, even for couch potatoes. Of course, they also say that we need 6-11 servings of carbs everyday, which is too high for most. Most people would do well with 1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight, an athlete working out a lot needs about 1.7 g per kg. So the average 5’4” and 140 pound woman needs about 76 grams per day. [(140 lbs/ 2.2 lbs per kg)x 1.2].

As I say in the blog article, the best protein is the one that closely matches the proteins in the human body. That’s why I use the Isagenix shakes. They not only help me get enough protein without constantly cooking loads of chicken, fish, turkey, etc. they also are the closest to our body’s proteins because they contain organic undenatured whey protein concentrate.

When I was trying to clean up the rest of my diet it was hard to stick to such a clean diet, but when I started those shakes my body felt nourished so that I had less cravings. That’s important.  That’s why people lose weight, perform better, and feel better overall when combining the shakes with a healthy diet consistently. Whole eggs are the next best thing, chicken, egg white, beef all follow closely behind in bioavailability- how efficiently your body can absorb and use the proteins that you eat.

What’s most important is finding something that works for you. As a health coach I know that just because it works for me doesn’t mean it’s going to work for someone else and I love helping my clients find the right protein for them.

Back to talking about how little there is left of the year…Starting tomorrow on my Facebook page, I’m going to post a new tip every day to get us through the end of the year. If you’ve heard them before, they’re worth repeating. Hopefully most of the tips will be new for you. If you’d like to receive the tips please “Like” my page and feel free to share the pages and the tips with others. I’m also going to have a few more challenges so feel free to join them from right where you are.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

Four Weeks Out

This is crazy time for me now. I’m four weeks from my competition in Dallas and 8 weeks from Vegas. This means that I’m pretty much going to be on a strict diet for the next 8 weeks. Part of me is excited to see how my body is going to respond, especially between the two shows, like a big science experiment, and the other part thinks, “Yay, I get to watch everyone else enjoy the fun tastes of the fall. What fun!” I saw a Starbucks sign the other day that was advertising their new fall lattes and I almost drooled. Pumpkin spice… Pretty soon the Peppermint Mocha will be back… Then I get TexanErin’s blogs because I love using her grain-free baked goods for Wyatt and she’s come up with all of these amazing looking apple cakes and breads for apple season with the promise of pumpkin ones coming soon. Sigh!

Don’t cry for me though. 😉 I did sign up for this. Honestly, it was easier the first time though. I naively thought that having those first two under my belt would make it easier, but that is not true. Since I work from home a lot, I’m always home, which means food is always there. While I was crazy busy with traveling for work during my first competition, I was restricted to the food that I brought in my cooler, and didn’t have any other options. Now I’m home cooking dinner, making different options for Wyatt and trying to make every bite count, literally. Yes, I weigh my food.

Plus, my body doesn’t respond the same. It’s almost like it got used to my tricks from the first two competitions so I have to cut even more this time to get the same results. So my food choices have changed over the last few months. I used to love to have natural peanut butter and almond butter, maybe a little too much, but my coach has weaned me off of those. When I needed something sweet I’d have dates or frozen banana slices. But those, along with pineapple, have too much sugar so they’re off limits now too. Now I reach for baby carrots when I need something sweet. I have weaned myself off of sugar enough now that baby carrots are sweet, can you believe that? Like anything it’s a process, a learning experience.

So, here is my check-in picture, four weeks out. I didn’t really want to show this and was just going to wait to show you my stage pics, but I think it’s important to share the process too. My arms and shoulders are showing nice definition. My abs are coming out. My glutes will be the last thing to shape up. It was the same the last few competitions and that’s not going to change.

Sep 24- 4 weeks out

Keep in mind that this is a posing check-in picture. I’m flexing my muscles and actually trying to “hulk-out.” I know it looks strange, but I’m not trying to look like a fitness model here. It actually feels kind of awkward, that’s why I need to practice more.

There you have it. Here’s my progress and what I’m up to so far.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

The Importance of Water

I know you’ve probably heard about the importance of water before. However, it’s very important so I’m going to cover it again.

I recently learned about the teachings of Dr. Batmanghelidj. He was a doctor in Iran that was put in prison. He had no medicine, no bandages, no anything really, but prisoners were coming to him for their ailments. The only thing he could tell them to do was drink more water. Guess what? It worked. Ever since then he has made a career of spreading the word about the importance of water.

It makes sense though because according to raw food expert David Wolfe, we’re basically walking tubes of water. We’re made up of 75% water and our brains are 85% water. So a lack of water can cause our cells to function improperly. Many of our ailments like digestive issues, headaches, backaches, fatigue, even cravings can be caused by dehydration.

Even though many people will agree on the importance of water, most will not agree on how much is not enough. Is it 8 x 8 ounce glasses a day? 15? Should you just sip it as needed? Honestly, it depends on your age, the weather, your activity level, the amount of water that is naturally in the food you eat, and any current medical conditions. Too much water can cause you to feel bloated, can mess up your sleep, and even cause a mineral imbalance.

I even try this with the kids quite a bit. Devin sometimes wakes up with a headache in the mornings. Sometimes it’s allergies; sometimes it really is just dehydration. She’s not thrilled when I tell her to drink water instead of agreeing to let her stay home from school. But usually by the end of the glass she’s up and moving around and feeling better, even though she doesn’t want to admit it.

So give it a try. Next time you’ve got a headache or even a sugar craving, just drink some water and give it a few minutes. Experiment with just a few sips or a whole big 16 oz glass. Let me know how it helps.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

New Labelling Requirements

There are lots of new labels popping up on meat, dairy, and egg products due to the many people that are becoming more interested in what is being used to raise the food they are eating. It’s hard to keep them straight. Here is a little bit more info about the new terms on labels so that when you see them in the stores you will know what you’re getting.

1. ANTIBIOTIC-FREE

“Antibiotic-free” means that an animal was not given antibiotics during its lifetime.  Other phrases to indicate the same approach include “no antibiotics administered” and “raised without antibiotics.”

2. CAGE-FREE

“Cage-free” means that the birds are raised without cages. What this doesn’t explain is whether the birds were raised outdoors on pasture, if they had access to outside, or if they were raised indoors in overcrowded conditions. If you are looking to buy eggs, poultry, or meat that was raised outdoors, look for a label that says “pastured” or “pasture-raised.”

3. FAIR TRADE

The “fair trade” label means that farmers and workers, often in developing countries, have received a fair wage and worked in acceptable conditions while growing and packaging the product.

4. FREE-RANGE

The uses of the terms “free-range” or “free-roaming” are only defined by the USDA for egg and poultry production. The label can be used as long as the producers allow the poultry access to the outdoors so they are able to engage in natural behaviors. It does not necessarily mean that the products are cruelty-free, antibiotic-free, or that the animals spent the majority of their time outdoors. Claims are defined by the USDA, but are not verified by third-party inspectors.

5. GMO-FREE, NON-GMO, OR NO GMOs

Products can be labeled “GMO-free” if they are produced without being genetically engineered through the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Genetic engineering is the process of transferring specific traits or genes from one organism into a different plant or animal.

6. GRAIN-FED

Animals raised on a diet of grain are labeled “grain-fed.” Check the label for “100 Percent Vegetarian Diet” to ensure the animals were given feed containing no animal by-products.

7. GRASS-FED

This means the animal was fed grass rather than grain. They should not be supplemented with grain, animal by-products, synthetic hormones, or given antibiotics to promote growth or prevent disease, although they may have been given antibiotics to treat disease.  A “grass-fed” label doesn’t mean the animal necessarily ate grass its entire life. Some grass-fed cattle are “grain-finished,” which means they ate grain from a feedlot prior to slaughter.

8. HEALTHY

Foods labeled “healthy” must be low in fat and saturated fat and contain limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium. Certain foods must also contain at least 10 percent of vitamins A or C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber.

9. HERITAGE

A “heritage” label describes a rare and endangered breed of livestock and crops. Heritage animals are prized for their rich taste, and they usually contain a higher fat content than commercial breeds. These animals are considered purebreds and a specific breed near extinction. Production standards are not required by law, but true heritage farmers use sustainable production methods. This method of production saves animals from extinction and preserves genetic diversity.

10. HORMONE-FREE

The USDA has prohibited use of the term “hormone-free,” but animals that were raised without added growth hormones can be labeled “no hormones administered” or “no added hormones.” By law, hogs and poultry cannot be given any hormones. If the products are not clearly labeled, ask your farmer or butcher to ensure that the meats you are buying are free from hormones.

11. NATURAL

Currently, no standards exist for this label except when used on meat and poultry products. USDA guidelines state that “natural” meat and poultry products can only undergo minimal processing and cannot contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients. However, “natural” foods are not necessarily sustainable, organic, humanely raised, or free of hormones and antibiotics.

12. NON-IRRADIATED

This label means that the food has not been exposed to radiation. Meat and vegetables are sometimes irradiated to kill micro-organisms and reduce the number of microbes present due to unsanitary practices. No thorough testing has been done to know if irradiated food is safe for human consumption.

13. PASTURE-RAISED

“Pasture-raised” indicates that the animal was raised on a pasture and that it ate grasses and food found in a pasture, rather than being fattened on grain in a feedlot or barn. Pasturing livestock and poultry is a traditional farming technique that allows animals to be raised in a humane manner. This term is very similar to “grass-fed,” though the term “pasture-raised” indicates more clearly that the animal was raised outdoors on pasture.

14. ORGANIC

All organic agricultural farms and products must meet the following guidelines (verified by a USDA-approved independent agency):

• Abstain from the application of prohibited materials (including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and sewage sludge) for three years prior to certification and then continually throughout their organic license.

• Prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms and irradiation.

• Employ positive soil building, conservation, manure management, and crop rotation practices.

• Provide outdoor access and pasture for livestock.

• Refrain from antibiotic and hormone use in animals.

• Sustain animals on 100% organic feed.

• Avoid contamination during the processing of organic products.

• Keep records of all operations.

If a product contains the “USDA Organic” seal, it means that 95 to 100 percent of its ingredients are organic. Products with 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients can still advertise “organic” ingredients on the front of the package, and products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients can identify them on the side panel. Organic foods prohibit the use of hydrogenation and trans fats.

15. RBGH-FREE OR RBST-FREE RBGH

Recombinant bovine growth hormone is a genetically is a genetically engineered growth hormone that is injected into dairy cows to artificially increase their milk production. The hormone has not been properly tested for safety. Milk labeled “rBGH-free” is produced by dairy cows that never received injections of this hormone. Organic milk is rBGH free. (rBST stands for recombinant bovine somatotropin.)

I hope this helps.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

Where to Find Humanely Raised and Sustainable Products

Humanely raised and sustainable products are not just important to the environment, they are also important to the nutritional profile of the food products that come from the animals.

For instance, a healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 2:1. Regular grass-fed beef has that profile. But when cattle are fed grain and other things (like pelletized chicken feathers) the omega 6:3 profile can get as high as 10:1 or even 20:1. That ratio can cause a lot of sickness and inflammation in humans.

Also, the sickness, pain, and fear that is felt by animals in these confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) transfers to the quality of the meat as well.

Another thing to keep in mind in the environmental issue is that not only does transporting meat, dairy, and produce from far away to your local grocery store drive up fuel usage, but it has an impact on the nutritional value of the food. Tomatoes that are grown conventionally and then trucked thousands of miles are picked when they are hard and green and then gassed with hormones to make them continue to ripen of the vine so that they’ll be nice and red by the time they get to the store. Doesn’t sound very appetizing does it?

Your local farmer’s markets are great places to get fresh locally and responsibly grown produce and even meat, eggs, and dairy. Not everyone has one close or can make it to the small time slot when these markets are open so here are some websites that can help you get good quality products for your family.

Eat Well Guide

-Search by zip code for sustainable animal products in your area, including meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.

American Pastured Poultry Producers

-The American Pastured Poultry Producer’s Association lists farms by state that sell pasture-raised poultry.

Eatwild

-Click on your state for a list of farms selling pasture-raised meat, eggs, and dairy products. You can also click on “Farms that Ship” for farms that will ship products to you.

Sustainable Table

-Click on your state to download a PDF document of local dairy products that are free of artificial bovine growth hormone (also called recombinant bovine growth hormone, or rBGH).

Local Harvest

-This is an excellent resource for finding sustainable products, farmer’s markets, CSAs, co-ops, health food stores, online stores, and restaurants featuring organic and local ingredients.

Heritage Foods USA

-This site is committed to genetic diversity, small family farms, a fully traceable food supply, sustainable land use, and small-scale food production.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

-The Monterey Bay Aquarium creates regional Seafood Watch guides, which give the latest information on sustainable seafood choices in different regions of the country.

 

Here are some resources for learning more if you find the topic of humanely raised and sustainable products interesting.

Food and Water Watch

-This site has information on the environmental, economic, health, and social aspects of factory farming.

American Grass Fed

-AGF’s goal is to promote the grass-fed industry through government relations, research, and public education.

The Meatrix

-This site includes the Meatrix video and ways to get involved in solving the factory farming problem.

Animal Freedom

-Learn what you can do yourself to stop animal abuse and factory farming.

Regional Farm and Food Project

-This site provides a list of links related to sustainable farming, raising animals, local food, and more.

I hope you found these links helpful. If you have any questions or additional information please let me know. I’d love to help you incorporate these high quality foods into your family meals.

Jessica

Foods to Avoid- For Any Reason

I get a lot of weekly newsletters and read a lot of articles on health and nutrition and there seems to be a general theme among those telling you what foods to avoid in order to reap some health benefit. Whether it’s “Top 3 Foods That Impact Learning and Behavior” or  “10 American Foods That Are Banned in Other Countries” or “Top 10 Inflammatory Foods to Avoid Like the Plague.” They may use a different number of foods to avoid based on how they group the categories, but the content is the same. Here are what I consider the Top 5 food groups to stop eating now.

  1. Food Additives- Artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, and preservatives. This is a huge category because there are so many of them. I’ve talked about these before but the thing that gets me is that many of these foods are banned in other countries due to the harmful side effects especially when it comes to children’s behavior. The sad thing is that the big US food companies that operate in those countries change their formulations to include real food and no banned ingredients for products that are exported while using them in the US products.
  2. Farm Raised Fish and Feedlot Meat, Poultry, Eggs and Dairy Products. Again, this is a category that wipes out most of the meat and dairy products that are available in the refrigerator section of the supermarket. So many of these dairy cows are given rBGH to increase milk production. Approximately 45% of pigs, 30% of cattle and an unknown percentage of turkeys are given ractopamine to increase muscularity and decrease fat content. Arsenic is given to chickens to make them grow faster and to help the meat stay pinker, thus appearing fresher longer. Wild fish like salmon gets its color from its diet, but due to unnatural diets in fish farms, the fish don’t get that color so they are given synthetic chemicals to get their coloring. None of the chemicals that I’ve talked about above have been proven safe for consumers and most have actually been proven unsafe.
  3. Added Sugars. Sugar is one of the most addictive legal substances around, and food companies know this. It is in now part of our lives like it has never been before. Unfortunately, so is diabetes, obesity, inflammation, ADHD, and imbalances due to extreme swings in blood sugar.
  4. Processed Foods. These foods include refined grains, trans fats, and processed meats. I’ve already talked about these before and most people are already aware that they are not good for you, but they’re so convenient that it’s hard to give them up.
  5. ?, Gluten, Soy, ?, Etc- Whatever food you’re sensitive too. The 8 most common food allergies or sensitivities that I keep hearing about over and over are gluten, soy, corn, dairy, eggs, fish, peanuts, and tree nuts. Food allergies are easy to pinpoint because you get an immediate response. However, with sensitivities it may be a little harder to pinpoint. Some allergies can develop during your life due to environment and other lifestyle changes. For instance, a pig farmer that eats pork three meals a day may develop an allergy to it. You may have to try an elimination diet and you’ll only notice a difference when you add a food back into your diet. Gluten can be very hard to digest and, for some, can cause damage to the lining of the gut which will impair the process through which nutrients are absorbed. Try concentrating or being happy and calm when your body isn’t properly converting nutrients that your brain needs. But it’s not just about digestion, some are effected hormonally by gluten.

Now that I’ve ruined 2/3 of the items in the grocery stores today, I figured I’d better give you a good alternative. The Fresh 20 is a website that gives you a menu for 5 week-night meals. They will also give you a grocery list of 20 fresh ingredients and instructions to prep your meal earlier so that during the week you can have a fresh and nutritious dinner on the table quickly. You will need 20 staples in your pantry, like spices, rice, etc. A new list comes out every Friday afternoon so you can do your shopping and prep on the weekends. I agree with about 99% of their ingredients, but occasionally they have menu items like non-fat half and half or cream. Those usually add a bunch of artificial stuff to stabilize and thicken the liquid. I prefer to use the full fat versions because it’s less processed. I haven’t been having dairy lately anyway so for my portion I just leave out the cheese, cream, etc.

I also have plenty of resources to help you find good sources of meat and dairy in your area that I’ll list in my next blog. I would love to help you as you remove these less than stellar foods from your daily meals. Contact me about Health Coaching today.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

Sneaking Super Foods Into Kids’ Meals

There’s a relatively new, and controversial, field called Nutrigenomics that is studying the effects of the nutrients in food on gene expression and cell function. Basically, researchers in this field are proving the old saying “We are what we eat,” to be true. Nutrigenomics is also practiced by doctors in the field of Functional Medicine, like Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Susan Blum.

So, how does that apply to our kids? Well, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, due to the rapid DNA duplication that is going on in kids until age 10, the best way to prevent them from getting chronic diseases as adults is to make sure that they are eating very nutrient dense foods right now.  I’m not saying that they’re sunk after that, it’s just easier to set them up for wellness before that point. Foods rich in micro-nutrients are activating the good genes, like the ones for healthy brains and immune systems, and starving the bad ones, like the ones that make someone more likely to get cancer.

Like we don’t have enough pressure as parents, right? There’s a lot to worry and think about with kids. Now we have to worry about trying to get our picky kids to eat more veggies and less processed junk so they have healthy genes. It’s not just about setting them up for healthy habits when they get older and their metabolism isn’t as high, like we used to think it was.

Getting the right nutrients now will not just help them in the future, but it will help their brains and immune system now. According to Dr. Fuhrman, the foods that we need for cancer-fighting super-immunity can be summed up by the acronym GOMBS (Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans and Berries, and Seeds). These foods are also linked to healthy immunity for day-to day life. Sneaking as many of these foods as you can into your kids meals will set them up to be healthy adults.

However, that is very hard to do. It seems like the GOMBS foods are exactly the ones that the kids don’t want to eat. Plus, around every corner, kids are being offered treats by well-meaning people because “it’s just one day.” But when that happens every other day, their taste buds get accustomed to that sweetness and it leaves us parents struggling to get them to want to eat anything healthy.

It’d be awesome if there was some immune boosting function to the kid-food staples of mac and cheese or chicken nuggets. So, what’s a concerned parent to do, other than make the kids take at least one “no-thank-you-bite” through much weeping and gnashing of teeth? Here are a few ways to sneak super foods into your kids’ regular snacks and meals. I’m not saying these all work for all kids, but they work for some and that’s better than nothing. Do be careful though, getting “caught” sneaking these offending foods into your kids’ meals can give them issues with healthy foods in the future. So consider telling your kids that we’re “trying a new recipe that’s healthier for all of us,” while still tasting good.

  • Fruits and veggies for after school snacks- I don’t know about your kids, but mine are always hungry after school. That’s the best time to sneak in the healthy stuff. Here’s an example conversation I have had with my daughter. Devin: “Mom, I’m hungry, can I have some crackers?” Me: “No, you had crackers in your lunch, you can have an apple or some cucumbers.” Devin: “I don’t want that, I want crackers.” Me: “Well, I guess you’re not that hungry then, are you?” Devin: “Okay, I’ll have some cucumbers.” Generally, when kids are hungriest is the best time to put the healthy stuff in front of them. Then once they realize these “gross” healthy foods aren’t so bad, they’ll be more likely to have them at other times too.
  • Get kids involved- According to many “health-food geeks,” letting their eager kids help prepare healthy meals will make them more likely to eat it. This doesn’t work for my kids- my son will happily help me make something and then turn his nose up at it when it’s on his plate- but I know it works for many.
  • Greens in fruit smoothies- Mixing greens like spinach and kale along with fruit and maybe some yogurt into a smoothie will make your kids more likely to happily eat their veggies.
  • Puree them into sauces:
    • Greens, onions, zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms are easy to puree into marinara sauces, because many of these sauces already have chunks of veggies in them. Marinara sauces can also be made in bulk and frozen, which makes week-night dinners easier.
    • Cauliflower can be mixed into mashed potatoes or either substituted for the pasta in mac and cheese or mashed into it the sauce along with the pasta.
    • Sweet potatoes and carrots can also be mashed and hidden in mac and cheese or even added as a layer in grilled cheese sandwiches.
    • Baked goods: These Chocolate Zucchini Brownies are awesome, as are these Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies. Don’t expect them to be as awesome as regular brownies or cookies, but considering they have an actual micro-nutrient breakdown, they’re a great snack option.

I’m not saying these ideas are fool-proof, but they are pretty darn good. Plus many of these dishes can be cooked ahead of time and then thrown in the oven on low for a few hours to reheat while you’re taking the kids to their evening practices.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

Object Permanence and Our Goals

Most moms are familiar with the term object permanence. Even if your kids are older, you may remember it from their baby days. Basically, it is the term used to describe a child’s ability to know that objects continue to exist even though they can no longer be seen or heard. When a small baby is playing with a ball and it rolls under the couch, they’ll cry because they think the ball is gone forever, and then they reach for another toy to play with instead. An older baby will crawl over to the couch, and try to reach the ball. If they can’t reach it they’ll cry until someone comes and gets it for them.

Moms are also familiar with toddler questions. I heard about a study a while ago that said the typical toddler asked what averaged out to be about 1 question per waking minute of the day- and I believe it. Sometimes kids can drive us crazy with incessant questions. They don’t give up when they don’t get the answer they want, do they? Kids don’t have a full grasp of the meaning of “no.” No only means, “not right now.” To them it means “ask again in 5 minutes because conditions may change.” Older kids think “no” means “you haven’t yet proven your argument.” But they keep asking. They know the desires of their hearts and they keep after it.

My little guy is on a special diet so he doesn’t get a lot of things when it comes to treats. He does love it when I occasionally give him juice though. Because he knows that I will sometimes let him have juice, he asks for it non-stop. He’s one of those kids that is a little more sensitive to sugar so there’s no way I will ever give him juice at night unless I still want to be chasing him around at 11:00 at night. But every night, at bedtime, he comes and stands in front of me in the kitchen, cocks his curly-haired head to the side, and says, “Mama, me firsty. Me have juice?” His eyes light up and his smile beams like he actually thinks I’m going to give him juice. There’s no doubt in his mind. It’s almost hard to tell him no, but I do. Then he shrugs, smiles, and says, “Me have wawa?” And the next night…he asks for juice again…

Why am I saying this? What can we, as adults, learn from our kids? There are a few things I know I have learned just by paying attention over the last few weeks. These are things that I needed to hear for myself, as I hit slumps and plateaus more often than I’d like to admit.

1. Don’t lose sight of your goals. Like that young baby that loses her ball under the couch and then consoles herself with another toy, we sometimes settle for something else when we lose sight of what we want. We think that because we can no longer see it, that it’s not reachable.

2. Don’t give up. Sometimes as we get older we get too jaded. We get a “No” and instead hear “No way! Don’t you ever ask again!” Then we slink away rejected and don’t ever try again. Whether it’s for a new job, a promotion, a new business venture, or anything else that we want. Sometimes it really is for the best, but other times we needed to just keep going a little bit longer and all that hard work would have paid off. Go after that goal and don’t let anyone take your dreams away from you.

3. Ask for help. Kids are always trying to do new things, be big kids and do it by themselves, and making a huge mess along the way. But when they get stuck they always call out for help, right? How many times have you heard your kids call out and run in to find the huge mess that they just made because they got in over their heads? I myself don’t like to ask for help. I like to pretend that I’ve got everything under control, even though I’m about to fall apart.

What have you learned from your kids? What things can you change now that, even though it may mean a little more hard work today, will pay off big time in the future? What big dreams and goals have you let go of because you didn’t think you had the time or energy to go after them anymore.

As a health coach I know that even those these things are not part of our diet and exercise routine, they play just as big a part of my clients’ success. When we have unfulfilled goals and talents that we can’t use, even part time, we get very unsatisfied with our lives. No amount of junk food can fill that hole. No amount of exercise can fix that stress.

So, crawl over to the couch, reach that chubby little baby arm under there, through the cobwebs, and grab at that goal with those chubby baby fingers. If you can’t reach it, cry out for help until someone comes and helps you. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re worth it.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

Posture and Mood

Posture

We’ve always heard that we should sit, stand, and walk with our head upright. I’m sure you can almost hear your mom or grandma’s voice telling you to not slouch. Slouching is bad posture and bad posture doesn’t look good. However, it does more than just look bad.

Slouching at our desks all day at work, while watching TV at the end of the day, and while sitting on the couch reading a book can cause pain, reduce range of motion, and increase chance of injuries. But we all already know that.

We also know that slouching isn’t just a sign of bad posture. Someone walking with their shoulders slouched forward, head down, and feet shuffling is probably having a bad day. To take that further, chronic poor posture can also be a sign of depression.

However, new studies have shown that the opposite can also be true. Recent studies have shown that keeping your head up and shoulders back can improve your mood. It can even help fight off a head-ache. Erect posture is seen as a dominant pose, and “dominant poses” can increase testosterone which increases pain tolerance. So, how can you keep a good posture while having to sit at your desk and work at your computer all day?

Start by adjusting your work area. Make sure that you can sit with your back straight, head up, and shoulders back and still comfortably do your work. You don’t want your head to be tilted forward or backward while working at your computer. You also don’t want to have to stretch too far forward with your arms in order to reach your computer.

Exercise can help, as long as you use proper postural alignment while lifting weights. Keep your head up and your shoulders back. Resist the temptation to watch the weight as you lift it up and down. Use the mirrors- they’re not there just for the big guys who want to see how good their biceps look while doing curls. Watching the weight in the mirror will allow you to keep your head up. It may seem counter-intuitive and hard to do at first, but it will be worth the effort.

Trust me. I worked out a few weeks ago with a trainer. I’ve never done that before. I always watched people exercise and done my research on the internet to find proper form, consulted textbooks and other reputable sources, but I’ve never had a trainer before. This particular trainer is a little different than the average joe. His niche market is high school athletes that want to up their game. These guys are not just vying for starting positions on their varsity teams, but also trying to get scholarships to top schools for their sports. To say that he kicked my butt was an understatement. He showed me how complacent I had become in my own workouts. I watch my clients and try to make sure that they are doing the exercises properly and not putting themselves at risk for injury, but I was not so strict with myself. I had kind of just gone through the motions to finish the workout while still feeling a burn, but hadn’t pushed myself in a long time. I left there several times either slightly limping or not able to lift one or both of my arms. It was awesome! He renewed my passion for self-improvement and reminded me why I was doing what I do. I’ve also been watching myself like a hawk the last few weeks and making sure that I was pushing myself while using the proper form to activate the correct muscle groups. And I feel so much better! Proper posture has indeed improved my mood.

Typically, the under-active muscles that lead to poor posture are the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and lower traps to name a few. Keeping your head up and shoulders back will decrease the amount of weight that you can use until you are able to strengthen those muscles appropriately, but your spine, bones, and muscles- basically all of your body parts that are controlled by your central nervous system- will thank you.

Deep breathing can also help. Not only does it force the relaxation that can ease your stiff muscles from sitting in the same position all day, but it’s hard to breathe deep while slouching. Just the act of taking a deep breath will remind your body of proper posture.

Core exercises can also help build up your postural muscles. Contact me for an initial assessment so that I can help you regain your proper postural strength. I want to make sure that you are not just in great shape, but that you are enjoying life as it happens.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

Your Health and…Loud Music…? What Do You Want to Hear?

If you are a subscriber to both my blog and newsletter, then you will get this message twice, but I want to make sure that everyone knows about the change.

The past few years have seen significant change in my family. I used to believe that if food was sold in the grocery stores it was safe to eat and I did not want anyone else telling me what to eat and especially not what to feed my family. Now I know that we need to be careful about what we put in our bodies. I have changed my diet, and thus the diet of my family, to be significantly healthier. My husband is not always thrilled about the changes.

From my husband’s side, he used to like loud music and would work all weekend long in his garage grinding metal and running a very loud air compressor. Now he works in a refinery and wears ear plugs every day. At first he was annoyed, but over the last few years he has slowly lowered the volume of his music and wears earplugs while operating loud machinery in his garage. He has made it his mission to make sure that we all follow proper hearing safety measures. Guess what? I still like loud music.

At times, I find his suggestions to turn down the music as annoying as he finds the lack of junk food in the house. We both know that the other is right, but it’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. No one wants to be preached to or not given any other option. It’s nice to be able to take baby steps toward progress sometimes.

I said all that to let you know that my newsletter will be changing. Instead of sending out one big newsletter once a month, I’m going to be sending out a few small tips a month so that you can take the ones you like and toss the ones you don’t- all the while working toward improvements in your health and fitness in your own time. At least one will be the workout of the month while others will be a mix of motivation and small bite-sized tips. My blog will still be a mix of longer informational and anecdotal articles, but they will not have the same content.

That being said, I need your help. What do you want to hear about? What bite-sized tips can I give you in my newsletter that would be helpful? What topics do you want to hear about in my blog in more detail? Please write in the comments section of my blog what you would like to know more about. Thank you for your help.

Welcome to September – remember to eat your veggies and don’t turn your music up too loud. 😉

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

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