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Grass Is Good

No, I’m not referring to recent legalized medical marijuana, but I do hear there are some great benefits to using it 😉 I am talking about grass fed animals vs. grain fed. With all of the new labeling in the market: GMO, “responsible sourced”, antibiotic free, wild vs. farm caught, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what is safe to eat and what foods are ok to ingest.

Let’s try to clear up some of the confusion:

GMO
We’ve covered this once before in a blog entry titled “What’s In A Label”.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. The genetic material of food organisms have been altered using genetic engineering techniques, creating unstable genes that do not naturally occur. In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food. Most of which, are unlabeled in America.

GMOs are deemed bad for your body & environment as the health consequences of ingesting them are unknown and potentially dangerous. Controversy stems over whether or not GMOs are Organic-vs-Naturalrendered toxic when ingested as they require massive amounts of pesticides.

The best way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic.

Organic
A food labeled “organic” has specific guidelines defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program.

The guidelines state:

  • Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.
  • Organic plant foods are produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation.
  • A government-approved certifier must inspect the farm to ensure these standards are met. In addition to organic farming, there are USDA standards for organic handling and processing. There are three levels of organic claims on food labels:

o   “100% Organic”: these products are completely organic or made of only organic ingredients and qualify for a USDA Organic seal.

o   “Organic”: products in which at least 95% of its ingredients are organic and qualify for a USDA Organic seal.

o   “Made with organic ingredients”: Products in which at least 70% of the ingredients are certified organic. The USDA organic seal cannot be used but “made with organic ingredients” may appear on its packaging.

FYI – did you know the little stickers on produce either come with 4 or 5 digits? Only produce with 5 digits and the number “9” in front of it are organic. Check out the labels on fruit next time you shop.

Natural
Take a walk down a supermarket aisle and you will see a flood of products labeled “natural”. This is basically marketing fluff.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a formal definition for the use of “natural” on food labels. The FDA follows policy from as far back as 1993. The USDA allows the use of the term “natural” to be used in meat and poultry labeling on products that contain no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed. The label must explain the use of the term natural. For example: “no added coloring” or “minimally processed”.

As good as the word “natural” sounds…it really doesn’t mean much.

Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed
This mostly pertains to the beef that we eat. There is a pretty significant difference in meat quality, based on the diet of the cows. Most cows do graze on a grass pasture; however, some cows are transitioned to a concentrated feed mix of corn, soy, grains, supplements, hormones and antibiotics to facilitate an advanced, unnatural growth spurt in the cows for the US beef industry to sell larger volumes, quicker. Basically, conventional factory meat is cheaper since they have sped up the growth while lowering the cost of the feed.

Bottom line – solely grass fed beef is said to be lower in calories, contains more healthy omega-3 fats, more vitamins, higher levels of antioxidants and 7x’s the amount of beta-carotene. Grass-fed beef is believed to have less health concerns than cows raised by unnatural means with added hormones and antibiotics.

Free-Range
Free-range refers to food (ie. meat or eggs) that are produced from animals that have access to outdoor spaces or are free to graze or forage for food. It does not mean organic.

Free-range, unlike organic, is not a certification. Organically raised food is free-range, meaning animals must have access to pasture, but to be certified organic, food must meet very strict criteria.

Free range food doesn’t have to meet any particularly stringent or even legal requirements. Access to outdoor spaces can mean as little as 15 minutes a day, which is why “organic” means so much more than free-range.

Wild vs. Farm Caught
Wild caught fish eat food from their natural environment including kelp, algae, seaweed and other fish, which gives them higher levels of vitamins and minerals.

Diets of farm raised fish often include genetically modified crops that are unnatural and nutrient-poor. Farm raised fish with industrial farming methods often include antibiotics, hormones, PCBs (potentially carcinogenic chemical), pesticides and toxins – causing fish to index high in mercury and other industrial toxins. Some farms (as in a video I recently watched) feed fish the feces of other animals and inject them with antibiotics to keep them alive. Just sayin’.

Gluten Free
The recent flood of “gluten free” products on the market has led to the belief that these products are healthier choices. This is not necessarily true. Gluten-free substitutes are often made with ingredients such as white rice flour, milled corn flour, even potato or corn starch – carbs with less fiber and higher glycemic indices than the original foods people are trying to avoid.

For some, gluten-free is a medical necessity including the 1% of the population who has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine. Or, like millions of others, they may have a diagnosed gluten sensitivity that causes inflammation throughout the body. Research suggests the epidemic of sensitivities is a result of the refined, GMO processed foods that our bodies are unable to digest.

Unless it’s a necessity, gluten-free foods are not a solution to a healthier diet or weight loss. It’s important to read the labels to see what is substituted for gluten.

Made With Whole Grains
The “whole grain” stamp which appears on some food labels is misleading. Companies pay fees to belong to the Whole Grains Council, which administers the program. Qualifying products need only have eight grams of whole grains to bear this stamp on labels. So, a 2-ounce serving of pasta (56 grams) with 8 grams of whole wheat could actually come with 48 grams of white refined flour.

You will find the whole grain stamp on sugary cereals like Lucky Charms – giving a false sense of what is “healthy”.  Food manufacturers making whole grain claims or using words like “multigrain” on labels are just hiding the fact these products are mostly made with highly refined white flour.

Don’t believe the hype.

“FED UP”, a recent movie release discussing the food industry and what it doesn’t want you to know, is playing at MONDO in Summit on October 17thClick here for details. I’ll be there. Join me.

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Mind Over Matter

As several of you may have experienced when I teach Tabata, I chant a lot about mind over matter. It’s a proven fact – if you convince your mind you can do something, you can conquer it. It’s also the theme of many of our daily posts on our Facebook page HeelsToLacesFit. One of the most recent being: “It always seems impossible until it’s
done
”.

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There are numerous studies that have shown by controlling your mind, you control your body. This can be applied in so many ways – in times of stress (physical or mental), in your reaction to your environment, in relationships and in the power of healing.

It’s no secret I am somewhat obsessed with Deepak Chopra. In his book “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind,” based on quantum physics, he advises on how to “defeat entropy,” to “believe” enough to control physical changes and to “reinterpret your body” to create renewal. By practicing these philosophies (in addition to fueling our bodies with healthy diets), we can elongate our lives by perpetuating healthy physical reactions within our body, starting on a cellular level.

Our cells renew every day. In fact, 98% of the atoms in our bodies are exchanged for new ones every year.  Chopra’s premise is that the more positive our mind is, the more beneficial the effect it will have on each and every cell we reproduce in our body.

We can mentally control and change our physical reactions. It’s a fascinating concept. You can change your body, and your outlook, simply by changing your perception. It’s how we interpret our external world. If we convince our mind we can physically accomplish the task at hand, our body will follow. If we can replace stress with positive intention we can rid ourselves of the negative reactions that follow…such as aging, damage to our organs and physical ailments.

It goes back to the premise – how are you going to react to what’s in front of you?

– If you believe you can conquer it, mostly likely, you will.
– If you are fearful or convince yourself it’s not possible, chances are, you will have a difficult time and your body will shut down.

Over time, by practicing positive thinking, you will see the positive effect it will have on your body, and in turn, the image you project to the outside world. Spending less time focusing on your obstacles in front of you and more energy on how you are going to succeed effects every aspect of your being.

So I challenge you to predetermine how you will deal with your task at hand. Begin by eliminating the fear and believing you will excel. Convince your mind you are capable…and see how your body follows.

To leave a comment on this article or any other blog entry, please fill in the “Leave a Comment” box under each blog entry on our site: Heels to Laces.

  • Robin Kelley

    Love this post! I think it’s all so true. Just have to remember it when the going gets tough. Great reminder.

  • Michelle

    Changing your perspective is the best thing you can do! Ditto to this whole post. I love that we have the power inside of us to continue to make or break our mindset and if we focus on the positive energy and thinking, we will succeed in ways we never knew before. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement. Rock on!!!!

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Summer Reads

No matter how crazy my life gets, I always find time to read.  My Kindle is usually in my purse for whenever I have a few free minutes.  And, summer is the perfect opportunity to read more. Beach trips and vacations practically scream for something juicy.

As we always like to remind our readers, it is important to find that balance in your life. Books are a great way to escape from your day-to-day routine, fantasize, get inspired and maybe a little motivated to make changes in your own life. No need to feel guilty. Put your feet up and enjoy.

Below, is a list of some of my favorites- both old and new.  I am not a literary critic, just someone who loves a good story from all different genres. images-1

Light Summer Reads

Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian

When Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography, spending all her free time at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies, Laurel discovers a deeply hidden secret–a story that leads her far from her old life, and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her. A page turner.

Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty

A line from this book’s summary drew me right in.  A wife stumbles across a letter written by her husband, which begins “My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…”

What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty

Yes, same author. She is great for quick-paced summer reading.  In this novel, Alice falls and forgets the past decade.  She is surprised to learn that she has three children and is getting a divorce.  The last thing she remembers is being pregnant with her first child and being madly in love with her husband.  Sounds like a cliché, but really makes you stop and think.

Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J. Watson

Watson’s main character, Christine, struggles with a big problem: Every time she goes to sleep, she forgets her name, her identity, her location, even her husband (due to a rare kind of amnesia).  Christine starts to keep a journal to remind herself of the basic details, and through it she learns her husband, Ben, is keeping facts from her. Is he trying to protect her from a dark past, or is he concealing something more sinister? A real thriller!

Great Stories  (A little deeper than your average summer beach read.)

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Differbaugh

A story of an 18-year old girl who grew up in foster care and now struggles to survive as an adult. The story weaves between past and present and forces her to confront a painful secret.

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

This story brings together two very unlikely people and breaks your heart.  Just read it – so good!

The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer

A promising student of architecture leaves his native country of Hungary to study in Paris in the late 1930s — until his scholarship is revoked when anti-Jewish laws go into effect.  He returns to Hungry as the war escalates.  The character’s happiest days, and later, their struggles, are rendered in a sweeping, epic fashion.  I have read many books on the Holocaust and  hesitated to read another as they can be so heart wrenching – but it was so worth it.

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

This unique story of a Nigerian girl and a British woman is not at all your typical novel.  The story challenges you to think about concepts of civility and ethical choices.  One of those books that keeps you thinking afterwards.

Memoirs

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

This moving memoir draws you in from the first pages.  Cheryl lost her mother and her marriage and with nothing else to lose, she embarks on a thousand mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail hoping to heal and find herself again. Strayed’s honesty and humor made this book a page-turner for me.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison

Ever since he was young, John Robison struggled to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A fascinating read – Robinson is a born story-teller.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingslover

Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves or learn to live without it.   Don’t be afraid of the title; Kingsolver is a gifted story teller.  It reads like a novel and is full of wit and humor.

On My List to Read This Summer  

Since I have not yet read these, I am not able to offer an opinion, but they are on my reading list for the summer.

I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You, by Courtney Maum

In this reverse love story set in Paris and London, a failed monogamist attempts to woo his wife back and to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love with your spouse?

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

According to the New York Times, this novel is ”Haunting, sophisticated . . . a novel so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents.”

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, by Marja Mills

Harper Lee wrote one of America’s best-loved novels, To Kill a Mockingird.  She has not written another novel since and has not granted any interviews for the past fifty years.  That is, until she invited Marja Mills to move in next door to her and share her life story. 

All Fall Down, by Jennifer Weiner

On the outside, she’s got it all: money, a beautiful family, and a nice house.  But an addiction to prescription pills could erase the lovely picture.

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