wellness

if it is to be, it is up to me

Posted on March 9, 2013. Filed under: goals, health, motivation, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , |

How often do you set your alarm a little earlier with the intension of hitting the gym, only to reset it to your normal wake-up time? Or get caught up in the business of your life and let your health and fitness goals collect dust? Yes, I think we have all been there. I am there now.

To fill you in; I have just moved from OH to DE for my first job as a physical therapist. I have always had a love and passion for fitness and nutrition, but found my passion faltering as I adjusted to my new life. The business, lack of funds, and well, loneliness of moving and starting a new life in an unfamiliar place got the best of me.

I was missing my routine. I didn’t have a workout buddy. I wasn’t making a paycheck yet so didn’t have the liberty to motivate myself with races. I didn’t have a gym to start swim training for tris, pump metal to ready my body for long bike rides, or absorb the enthusiasm from other like-minded people.

I was in a self-diagnosed fitness rut and found it difficult to dig myself out.

But, as my boyfriend says, fitness is physics. A body in motion stays in motion. And a body in rest stays in rest. I have goals I want to accomplish this year and they won’t happen if I stay in rest. Namely, complete a half-ironman (I have done several olympic tris) and Boston Qualify at the Columbus OH marathon in October (I was 4min behind last year). These goals will not be accomplished if I don’t get my mind and body working together to conquer them.

So, I decided to start back with the basics. I reminded myself I didn’t need a gym membership or special equipment to conquer my goals. And yes, while I appreciate and feed off of others training with me, if I wasn’t dedicated to training on my own, I sure as heck am not going to meet my goals. Because at the start line, I am left with my own preparation.

So what did I do? I went back to the basics.

I made the outdoors my gym by lacing up my running shoes and hitting the pavement. I found a park and after a run would do tricep dips and elevated pushups off of picnic tables. I invested in in-expensive fitness items to do home-workouts. I purchased a physioball, found my old jump rope and therabands, and gathered heavier objects around the house (ie gallon jugs filled with water/paint cans) to use for squats and other body weight exercises. I got out my old fitness magazine workouts I ripped out and stored away and I searched my fitness section on Pinterest and actually put these workouts to the test. I found websites that offered free videos like Youtube yoga videos or high intensity interval training videos from http://www.bodyrock.tv. Then I USED them.

Using our resources; that’s the key. We can’t live vigorous lives by waiting for our lives to move us; we have to do the moving. Whether it is a fitness, work, or other extra-curricular goal; it won’t get accomplished if we are not able to motivate ourselves to get after it.

Whenever I lack in motivation, my grandpa’s motto comes to mind, ten 2 letter words to live by: If it is to be, it is up to me. I WILL train and conquer a half-ironman this year.

What will you do?

Live vigorously,
Ang

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AHHH! My sweet tooth is getting the best of me!

Posted on February 25, 2013. Filed under: diet, recipes, wellness | Tags: , , , |

It has been just over a week since I gave up sugar (the plan is for 40 days). Previously, I would have sugar multiple times per day! Whoops…

Enter: detox. The first few days were not bad. I was really feeling proud of myself and my ability to say no when offered sweets. But, then came my monthy visitor and on top of that, I was feeling stressed with moving to a new city and starting a new job. Boy, did I want some CHOCOLATE. I wanted it bad.

We’ve all had those days, right? The type of day that causes you to plop on the couch at the end of the night with a spoon in one hand and a big bowl (or carton) of icecream with peanut butter and chocolate in the other. I wanted that. No, I NEEDED that. 

Or did I? I had conditioned my brain to expect sweets anytime I felt stressed. But in reality, that instant rush of sugar and happiness quickly leaves and I am left with both the stress that started it all and guilt on top of that.

I am not saying that sugar should never be consumed. I am all for having cake or dessert during parties or holidays, or whenever really. But the key is moderation and I was lacking it. I had the unfortunate habit of turning to sugar for happiness when I should have called up a friend to talk , took a few deep breaths, or went for a brisk walk outside. 

With this challenge, I did not succumb to the cravings and my mind telling me I needed sugar.  Instead, I found some healthy alternatives to obtain that “sweetness”. With combinations of cocoa powder, peanut butter, ripe bananas, pumpkin puree, stevia, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice, I have been able to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Here are some ideas for you to enjoy if you, like me, are struggling with dropping the sugar habit.

1. steamed milk + cocoa powder + cinnamon and/or stevia

2. hot tea/coffee + milk + cinnamon

3. smashed banana + cocoa powder

4. plain yogurt + stevia + cocoa powder

5. banana + peanut butter

6. plain yogurt + cocoa + stevia + peanut butter + banana, blended, and frozen= healthy “ice cream”

5. Healthy dessert recipes: I have only tried one so far, Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Muffins, from www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com. I simply substituted additional applesauce where sugar was called for and they were delicious! I plan on experimenting with more!

To be quite honest, I have really enjoyed being creative with these ingredients and trying to find new “sweets”. And they are much healthier; filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that help better the body rather than tearing it down like excessive amounts of sugar does.

For example, cocoa is filled with antioxidants and has the ability to improve blood flow and reduces insulin resistance. Bananas with their 21 grams of natural sugar,  provide a good dose of fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C and are a great pre-workout snack. Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, and has anti-fungal properties. Pumpkin puree is filled with fiber (5 grams/servings) and Vitamins A, C, and E needed for healthy skin, eyes, hair as well as used to fight off diseases.

With so much natural and healthy alternatives to refined white sugar and corn syrup, I have opened my eyes (and tastebuds) to new, delicious foods.

If you have taken the No Sugar Challenge or are trying to consume less sugar in general, what do make or do to curb the sweet tooth?

Be vigorous,

Angela

 

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No sugar challenge

Posted on February 17, 2013. Filed under: diet, health, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Sugar: that delectibly, incredibly addictive white stuff. Why am I so infatuated with it and how did I become so addicted especially when I know better?!

I love sugar. I do. It is difficult to deny the sweet stuff and the rush of energy and good feeling it gives  within minutes of popping something sugary in my mouth.  But with that rush also comes the knowing that the sugar will not effectively do anything to better my body and will in fact, hurt it.

Many of us know that consuming excess sugar is bad for us, but why? What does it do to  our bodies?

Here are the facts:

–  Excess sugar is directly related to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes,  high blood pressure, and increased risk of stroke

– Excess sugar causes an increase in the bad cholesterol, LDL.  As the liver works to filter all the excess sugar, it becomes overloaded. The liver then converts the extra sugar into LDL, aka fat, that circulates in the blood. This type of clogs arteries, causing heart disease, hypertension, and increased risk of stroke.

– Increased sugar is linked to increased risk of cancer. Approximately 1/3 of common cancers such as breast and  colon cancer need sugar to grow. If a person has a cancerous tumor, they will be essentially “feeding” this cancer by ingesting sugar because instead of going to supply the organs and muscles, it goes straight to the tumors.

– Sugar is addictive. Sugar activates the same regions in the brain as cocaine does. We experience pleasure from ingesting sugar by the increased release of dopamine (the good feeling chemical) that occurs. Over time, our bodies become sort of immune to this response and our brain requires more sugar to release dopamine. We have to eat more sugar to get that same good feeling. It causes an addictive cycle.

Check out any YouTube videos with Dr. Lustig, who has started a campaign against the overconsumption of sugar in the American diet.

It is decided; it is time I break-up with sugar. I will deny myself any cookies, cake, candy, sugar in coffee, honey on my peanut butter sandwich or in my tea, syrup, processed foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (salad dressings, peanut butter, yogurt, pop), refined white bread, pasta and the like.

My no sugar challenge is fullfilling my Lenten obligation, thus it will last 40 days. I have successfully made it four days without wanting to attack someone. Perhaps after these forty days, I will have a healthy relationship with sugar, not be addicted, and I can enjoy the sweet stuff in moderation–the way in which it was supposed to be enjoyed.

Are you addicted to sugar? Please join with me and begin your own no sugar challenge. Whether it is just a week, a few months, or whatever you decide, it is a step towards bettering our mind and bodies.

Be vigorous,

Angela

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Why a plant-based diet?

Posted on February 5, 2013. Filed under: health, vegetarian, wellness | Tags: |

My Journey:

Over two years ago, as a senior in college, I turned vegan for a 30 day challenge assigned by my “Live Simply” class. The professor challenged us to pick one challenge that would lessen our footprint, complete it for 30 days, then present it to the class– what we did, why we did it, and how it affected us. At the time I was eating meat at every meal, and them some.

With having a few friends that were either vegan or vegetarian, I decided that I would adopt a vegan lifestyle as I was interested in both learning the environmental and health impacts of a meat-based diet. I went cold-turkey (pun intended)– no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy for thirty days. It took me a week or two to become more creative and plan ahead for meals, as I couldn’t just throw a piece of chicken on the George Forman.

And let me tell you, wow, were those thirty days difficult. I give so much credit to vegans. I did complete the challenge and actually enjoyed it. I grew my repetoire of recipes and did extensive research on the environmental and health impact of eating meat. However, the vegan lifesyle was not for me. To be honest, my sweet tooth got the best of me and I missed my milk, yogurt and eggs. I also felt socially ostracized at times and did not feel like the diet suited me best. However, the research I did for the project caused me to continue giving up meat and fish post the thirty day challenge.

Case in point:

After reading several books including The China Study, Skinny Bitch, Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-vegan Worldas well as watching Food Inc., I felt strongly about the adverse effects that a high meat comsumption diet has on both the environment and one’s personal health. Thus, I stayed vegetarian for a year then have since became pescatarian because to be honest, I craved fish more than meat and the environmental impact of eating fish is less than that of meat.  Thus, I have been a fish eating vegetarian (aka pescatarian) since.

So you may be wondering what information made me change my lifestyle after 23 years of eating meat. Environment. Health. And more recently, the treatment of the animals. I will give some facts on each subject below.

Environment: land is destroyed for cattle farms including , cattles are the highest producers of methane gas, 16 pounds of wheat and up to 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of grain-fed beef, run-off from factory farms or confined-animal feeding operations cause zones of inhibition– basically pollution of coastal waters to the point that fish and other organisms cannot survive, and a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for 7 times greenhouse-gas emissions than vegan-based diet.

The sites also advocate for sustainable vegetables, fruits, and grains as buying produce that has been shipped thousands of miles and has sprayed with pesticides is not good for the environment also. I have yet to fully adopt buying local and organic fruits and veggies so this is something I can work on.

Health: meat-eating societies have higher cholesterol levels and higher rates of coronary artery disease than plant-based societies, a study shows the addition of meat to the diet of vegetarians who rarely consumed other animal foods produced a rapid and significant increase in blood cholesterol levels, toxins and pollution from CAFOs contaminate the air and contribute to asthma and other respiratory disorders, nitrate levels rise secondary to run-off from CAFOs, meat-based diets are significantly linked to cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes

Animal Rights on confined animal farming operations: animals are crowded into existance on factory farms with chickens tramplings others to death and animals existing in their own feces, many animals do not see sunlight during their existance, cows are forced to eat cornmeal that they are unable to digest, egg-laying hens’ claws grow around their wire cages, given drugs and hormones to produce more and faster than they are naturally able to do

This is all the more reason to use locally raised meat and eggs on farms that treat their animals with respect and dignity.

Closing:

I hope this post inspires you to look more deeply and intently at your lifestyle and eating habits and adopt a diet that is more environmentally, health, and animal friendly.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on
Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein

“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for reading and enjoy your veggies!

Resources*: http://www.sierraclub.org/sustainable_consumption/food_factsheet.asp, http://www.beyondfactoryfarming.org/get-informed/consumer-choice/social-environmental-impacts-meat-eating, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-and-environment.aspx, http://www.beyondfactoryfarming.org/get-informed/environment/environment-industrial-livestock-operations, http://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/18/science/science-watch-health-effects-of-meat.html, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/obesity.aspx, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming.aspx, http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/, http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty-glossary.aspx AND the books listed above.

*These are not the same resources I used two years ago, but the information is the same. I searched for all .org sites, as they are more credible.

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A vigorous life

Posted on January 30, 2013. Filed under: wellness | Tags: , , |

How many of us can honestly say that we are living a vigorous life? I honestly cannot. And with the CDC categorizing 33.3% of Americans as overweight, I don’t think that many other Americans can either.

What is a vigorous life? Vigor is defined as active bodily or mental strength or force; active healthy well-balanced growth; intensity of action or effect: force.

What is stopping us from living this life? I believe the first and primary reason is the food we put into our bodies. We are constantly polluting our bodies with addictive fats and sugars that clog our arteries and makes as fat, sluggish, depressed. This combined with a sedentary lifestyle sets us up for a life without vigor.

What is the solution? Exactly the opposite of the cause. It’s adopting a healthy balanced lifestyle; one centered around whole, unprocessed foods and good doses of exercise and activity. My food: (mostly) unprocessed, vegetarian diet with fish aka pescatarian. My exercise: training for endurance events; marathons and triathlons.

Through this blog, I will share my personal triumphs and struggles as I strive for a vigorous life; one filled with strength, well-balanced growth, and intensity. Hopefully I will inspire others to do the same.

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