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Falling Off The Wagon

Look – nobody is perfect, right? Winter is tough. You are inside – a lot – and all you want to do is eat. I am there. I get it. Forget about the weekends with dinners and friends and just not wanting to cook. So off starts this roller coaster of poor eating habits and consuming too much food.falling_off_wagon

Typically, I have a very specific pattern. I eat really well Monday-Friday and then let a little loose on the weekends. Lately, this is not working for me as Sunday melds to Monday and once I am off schedule on Monday – hey, the rest of the week is shot, right? Yes, this happens to even those that preach health and fitness 24/7.

The only feather in my cap is I still try to eat good quality foods – but just too many (ok, and maybe OD’ing on chocolate and Petron Café a bit since Valentine’s Day. Oh, and that piece of eggplant parm pizza this weekend).

There’s a little bit of consolation in all of this.

  1. I workout regularly and they are not easy workouts
  2. I am still eating less than the average American
  3. I can still fit into my pants (yes, they are tighter)
  4. I am so consistent in my eating/workouts (for the last umpteen years) it really does not have a drastic effect on my body

But, how do I feel?

I AM:

Crankier
More anxious
Fuzzier (I attribute some of this to the over-indulgence in drinking as well)
Less patient
Fuller
More tired
Full of cravings I had gotten rid of
Feeling a little out of control

How do we get off the gerbil wheel and get back in control?
It’s not all or nothing and starving yourself for a day or two to “make up” for the extra calories. This daunting idea of having to give up everything and deprive yourself will only set you up for failure or cause you to go to the opposite extreme.

My best advice is to pick one thing to change.
One thing. And stick with it every day.

Suggestions to pick from:

  • Drink a cup of water with every meal/snack
  • Stop eating after 8 pm
  • Eat breakfast
  • Eat 3 decent meals and snack on only fruits in-between
  • Give up the daily caramel latte
  • Remove candy from your diet (including chocolate)
  • Remove your go-to high carb comfort food (pretzels, popcorn, cereal) and replace it with something light and filling (apple, banana, lowfat organic greek yogurt)
  • Don’t eat any food on the couch
  • Always sit at a table/counter when you eat
  • Brush your teeth after eating (this really works!)
  • Refrain from drinking cocktails Monday-Friday
  • Eliminate added sugar
  • Drink a glass of cleansing tea every night before bed
  • Add 20 minutes of exercise every day
  • Add 10 minutes of meditation every morning

By placing the focus on one thing – it makes it much easier to succeed and other pieces will naturally fall into place. Less emphasis on “I need to get it together” and feeling overwhelmed with not knowing where to start, and more emphasis on improving one manageable thing that will get you to a more attainable goal.

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You Are My Sunshine

What if we told you there is something you can take to build strong muscles and bones, improve your cognition, build a strong immune system and increase your energy level…and you can’t taste it?

Well, this is your lucky day. We are not talking about expensive, questionable supplements. We are talking about vitamin D. A little dose packs a big punch.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that can be found in some foods but, as many know, is also absorbed by the body from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for the formation, growth, Sources-of-Vitamin-Dand repair of bones and for normal calcium absorption. It is also a requirement for muscle movement and helps nerves carry messages between the brain and every part of your body. In addition, your immune system needs vitamin D to fight off bacteria and viruses. It has also been cited in helping to maintain a healthy body weight and healthy heart.

In fact, high levels of vitamin D were found to protect people at a genetic  level. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that higher vitamin D levels in healthy individuals have a significant impact on the genes that are involved in several biologic pathways associated with illnesses, including cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. It is also a great defense against osteoporosis.

People can become deficient in vitamin D because they don’t consume or absorb enough from their food, their exposure to sunlight is limited or their kidneys do not convert vitamin D to its active form in the body.

How do you know if you are getting enough?

They best indication is through a blood test on your vitamin D levels. A level of 50 nmol/L or above are sufficient for most people. Vitamin D levels can rarely be high enough to be harmful, but it is possible.

How do I get it?

Not that many foods contain vitamin D. It is mostly found in fortified foods. Foods that naturally have vitamin D include salmon, tuna, mackerel, cheese, egg yolks (in small amounts), mushrooms and milk. Fortified foods (enriched by food manufacturers) include some brands of bread, orange juice, cereal, yogurt, soy beverages, etc.

The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Recommended intakes of vitamin D are based on the assumption of little sun exposure. On average, you only need 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times per week. Skin exposed to sun through a window indoors does not produce vitamin D. Despite the benefits of vitamin D from the sun, is it critical to limit exposure of skin to sunlight, wear sun protective clothing and sunscreen with SPF to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

You can also take vitamin D supplements. The safe upper limit for Vitamin D is 1,000 to 1,500 IU/day for children 1-8 yrs old and 4,000 IU/day for children 9 years and older, including adults. You should not exceed these amounts. On average, the recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 IU per day. Just as a reference, I take 2,000.

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