Posts tagged ‘health’

January 26, 2013

The Paleo Diet: Some Thoughts & Information

There is no question that the Paleo way of eating has spread, and I want to take a moment to discuss my views on it, and perhaps answer some questions that might be out there.

The idea behind the Paleo way of eating is to eat the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, before there was agriculture to provide grains, etc. It’s a meat (grass-fed, of course, since there was no agriculture), vegetable, fruit, nut, and seafood based diet, and processed foods, grains, refined sugars, and dairy products are avoided. While I had previously heard of this eating plan, I wasn’t really exposed to it until I got a paleo roommate (he’s also in my school), and saw the food he eats, and heard about the journal articles he reads, explaining why sugar and grain products are the reason that everyone except Paleo-ers is going to die a slow and painful early death in a fiery pit full of sharks and monsters and zombies, etc.  I have worked hard not to let my wonderful roommate brainwash me Paleo, as he hopes to do to everyone (every time he hears of someone else on Paleo, he squeals, “it’s spreading!”), but I have to admit that I am starting to believe in its benefits. That said, I don’t think it’s something that we should all take on, for a number of reasons.

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January 17, 2013

Brain Window on Stress & Eating

plannerAs I was starting to write my assignments in my planner (all color coded) and was thinking, “oh, this might be another challenging semester–hope I can keep my food consumption under control,” I had a bit of a brain awakening: I might not be able to control my assignments or how much time I have to spend on school, but if I control my food and eat the quality things all of the time, I will feel way better, physically and mentally, and be able to better tackle the semester.

This seems very straight forward, I know. As I wrote in an earlier post, this is the first time I have been a student and also been a healthy person. I had 22 years of conditioning myself this way: lots of school work, lots of stress, eat ice cream and cereal and you’ll be able to escape from the stressful world for just a few moments. Whenever I’ve been in school, school has come first, so now prioritizing my health above my school work doesn’t come as naturally as I wish it did.

Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t eating total crap all of last semester, but I also wasn’t eating totally perfectly. Not that total perfection is the goal, but I know I can do much better than I did last semester. On weeks when I hardly had time to sleep or get to the gym, I didn’t eat as well as I would have liked. Then, since I had already “messed up” my eating plan, I just continued down that path until there was a clear re-start (i.e. new day or new week). If I had eaten well, I would have been more energized and probably been able to get to the gym and sleep, too. When I eat stupid foods, I am sluggish, grumpy, self-doubting, and constantly thinking “how and when will I knock this stupid binge eating thing?” and am therefore not able to perform at my best level. I’ve gotta eat smart so I can get the most out of every day and enjoy every day. 

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January 12, 2013

Using Workout Time Well: A Personal Trainer’s Tips

KO

One of the many benefits of nutrition school is the wonderful friends that come with it and the wonderful knowledge, backgrounds, and passions that they have to share.  Katie Occhipinti has been a personal trainer since she was 18, once competed in a figure body-building competition, comes from a family of personal trainers, and has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science. I’m always chatting with her about workouts and her training (and trying to squeeze out some new ideas), so I figured I’d ask her to write a guest post and share some tips and pointers from her vast pile of fitness knowledge & experience. If you like what you’re reading here, check out Katie’s blog at noskinnygirls.com

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Time, or lack there of, is one of the biggest obstacles we face when trying to stick to our exercise regiment. Whether it is getting in a run before work or pumping some iron in between classes, making the most of our gym time is crucial. Try incorporating some of the tips below to get the biggest bang for your buck. You will see that kicking your own ass at the gym does not take long.

1.  Circuit train. Circuit training is a popular style of lifting weights. It consists of going through a series of exercises (usually 3 different exercises) and upon completing the last exercise in the series, beginning back again at the first exercise. Circuits are usually done 3, 4 or even 5 times through. If you are FIRST starting out, it is perfectly fine to go through your exercises one or two times through and then increase the number of rounds as the weeks go on. The benefit? Constantly moving from one exercise to another will help you maximize calorie burn and will allow you to strengthen many different body parts in one workout. 

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January 7, 2013

Multivitamins: Are They Necessary?

People often ask, “should I take a multivitamin?” and after a semester of Nutrition Science, I can finally answer this question a bit more thoroughly than before, but my response remains somewhat vague: Sorta. Why not? Can’t hurt.

Our bodies require a whole pile vitamins and minerals to be present in our diets. If any of these are missing in an extreme way, something negative will happen, and that negative thing can usually be reversed if the nutrient is added to the diet. Yes, our bodies can operate with low levels of some of these vitamins and minerals, but in order for it to really thrive, it needs all this stuff.

Let’s see if I can still list them all off:

DSC03543

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Biotin
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Chloride
  • Sulfur
  • Sodium
  • Selenium
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Chromium
  • Molybdenum
  • Manganese

I admit that I had to go back to old notes to get all of those.

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January 2, 2013

Spend Money On Fitness

With the new year come many new fitness resolutions, and this post is about what I think the #1 best way to ensure that fitness resolutions are met: spend a bunch of money on them. more than you really should.

As a graduate student living off loans with plenty of debt from undergrad, I am lacking in the money category. Nevertheless, last week I spent $10 to download Grand Theft Auto 3 (I am terrible at this game and stopped playing because I always killed the prostitutes who I was just trying to drive to the policeman’s ball so they could make some money, perhaps to afford a gym membership). We all throw money around stupidly sometimes.

My gym, with the student discount, is $90 a month. I just switched to it about a month ago. Since I pay $90 a month, the following things are true:

  • I go. Frequently.
  • There are about 15 classes each day, with everything from boxing and spinning to trampoline jumping and yoga.
  • The trainers are nice and helpful (and tell me when I look particularly badass, which I obviously love)
  • They have all the pieces of equipment & gagets I want (including punching bags)
  • They play classical music in the beautiful locker room.
  • There’s a whirlpool AND a sauna
  • The showers at the gym are much nicer than the shower in my apartment
  • The TVs are always playing a few chick-flicks (it’s an all women gym), SVU marathons, and random other things
  • The other people who go to the gym are serious about it, too, so aren’t drinking iced coffee and chewing gum (as previously experienced)
  • I go. Regularly. For all of these different reasons. And I love going.

In all practicality  I cannot afford this gym, but I don’t plan to leave it anytime soon. Exercise makes us much healthier, both in the long and short term. It’s winter in Boston–exercising outside is difficult, and I don’t have the equipment to do preferred strength exercises at home. Spending this much money on a gym ensures regularity for me. Knowing that I will continue to regularly exercise is priceless because healthy people exercise and that’s what I need to be forever and ever.

Fitness is truly is worth spending money on — and it makes us happier and healthier. Wanting to exercise and having a space in which to do it is worth much more than $90 a month. Our own health is, perhaps, the most worthwhile investment there is. When our bodies are strong, they are healthy. Exercise is shown to decrease risk for pretty much every single disease that we don’t wanna get. I’d much rather shell out $90 a month and feel strong and energized than save my money and hate going to a terrible cheap gym so instead and spend time trying to get better at driving prostitutes to the ball in grandly thieved autos. Pay for fitness!

December 29, 2012

3 Dietary Changes Inspired by 1 Nutrition School Semester

People often ask nutrition students what they should eat. I usually answer “eat real food” and then follow up that I have changed 3 things about my standard healthy diet since gaining 1 semesters worth of knowledge.

1. Milk Twice A Daymilk

How: While my roommate bet that I wouldn’t drink the first gallon of milk I bought before it went bad, I did. Challenge accepted. I just have a glass of milk with breakfast (or in cereal) and at some point later in the day, ideally after a workout. I prefer the taste and morals, etc, behind organic milk, but prefer the price behind regular milk, so I flip-flop.

Why: Most people have low calcium intake, and we really don’t want to be because after 30 our bone mass will start deteriorating, and if it deteriorates enough, SMASH, osteoporosis at an old age. And if it’s not osteoporosis, I mean. It’s not good–we want our old bones to still be strong bones. With menopause and decreased estrogen production, this is an even greater issue for women (estrogen helps calcium get where it needs to go in the bones). By ensuring adequate calcium intake we’ll have the strongest bones possible, and then it’ll be fine when they start deteriorating.

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February 19, 2012

The Strength Part of the Gym Is Not Male Exclusive

Sometimes I do weird stuff in the gym. I stare (to learn new moves), I make badass psycho faces (to amp myself up), and I mouth the words to almost every single song I listen to (because it’s fun). But today, I think my weirdness reached a new level: I walked around the gym and counted people.

There were 27 people doing cardio work. 20 of them were women.

There were 19 people doing strength training. 2 of them were women.

Are men & women really that different that our bodies require completely different forms of exercise? Absolutely not.

I watch a lot (read: all) of The Biggest Loser for a number of reasons, and something that I have been recently paying attention to is that the workouts that the trainers put the men & women through are essentially the same. You don’t see Bob screaming, “Ladies–ellipticals! Men–squat presses!”.

I’m not a fitness professional, but it’s easy to see that both strength work and cardio work are crucial for fitness. Strength work  builds muscle, and cardio work uses muscle — they balance each other out. If your muscles are stronger, they’ll be more effective during cardio.

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February 6, 2012

Why Calorie Counting & “Diet” Foods Aren’t Ideal

The breakfast I’m enjoying as I write this has around 250 calories.

This could mean that I’m eating a poptart and some orange juice, 1 serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, a donut, or a bowl of oatmeal made with milk.

Calories don’t mean anything.

“250 calories” does not thoroughly explain how my body will respond to the food I’m giving it, yet for so many people, calories are the focus.

Calories are simply a measure of energy, and when we’re talking about food, they represent the amount of energy stored in a food.  Calorie counting as a meal plan suggests that all calories are equal, but our bodies do not at all think that. Our bodies are much more concerned about the nutrients and carb/protein/fat ratios in food, so perhaps we should be, too. It just makes sense to fuel our bodies with attention to how they react to fuel, don’t you think?

Most sources say that our bodies require around 25% of our calories to come from fat, 45% from carbohydrates, and 30% from protein (or close to these ranges). But that’s still “calories from,” as opposed to “grams of”. That’s almost like saying, “to build this house, I need 500 pounds of wood, 30 pounds of nails, and 3 pounds of hammers.” Yes, those items can be measured by their weight, but that’s not really how their measurements are best understood.  I suppose it’s easier to talk about calories since we’re all used to it, but I just think that talking about calories is keeping us from understanding food. 

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