Monday, August 23, 2010

How Fitness is Like Money - #1

At first glance, fitness and money have nothing to do with each other, but actually there are several similarities. One of them is time. It takes time to get results from both. When people invest their money, compound interest may start slowly, but over time can build great wealth. Being fit takes time and dedication as well. There are no quick fixes despite what infomercials tell you. Can you crash diet and lose weight quickly? Sure. Is it healthy and/or sustainable? Absolutely not. Just like you could go to the casino and lay a big bet down, you're gambling with your health if you look for quick fixes. To build strength and lung capacity, there is no secret formula, but there is a simple blueprint: Lift heavy, sprint, and eat real food, and the benefits will come with time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Survey Says: What do you eat?

Spaghetti Squash and Sausage - looks and tastes like the real thing, without the food coma afterwards!

I get this question a lot: "What do you eat?" I think knowing the science behind nutrition is important for buy-in, but sometimes you just need to know what other people eat! Some people have a pretty good routine of eating while others are still experimenting and learning what works for them. One of the best ways to figure things out is by sharing with others in hopes of learning something from them. I try to have a protein/fat/carbohydrate at every meal, especially the protein and fat. During a typical work week, our food looks like this:

Breakfast - 3 hard boiled eggs, V8 vegetable juice and or piece of fruit like a nectarine, nuts/seeds or avocado.

Lunch - spinach salad with baked chicken, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, avocado and/or nut bar.

Dinner - this varies, but basically we'll do protein/fat/carb (same for every meal). Examples are steak/avocado/asparagus, eggs/avocado/fruit, salmon/sweet potato/nuts, or the spaghetti squash and sausage pictured above.

Snacks - usually I don't snack, but I do keep some nuts/seeds and cans of sardines in my desk. Some people find that gross, but I like the taste and they are easy to keep. Jerky is another great option.

Here's a link to pictures and descriptions of things we have in the refrigerator/freezer/cabinets. We have gotten away from dairy a fair amount, so there is no cheese around anymore. 

On Sundays, we do a lot of preparation and cooking. We'll cook 30 eggs (3 each for 5 days), 5-10 chicken breasts which we season, bake, cut up, and put in spinach salads ready to go. (Different seasoning = more variety.) If we're good, we'll divvy up fruit into plastic bags also ready to go. This way, each night we can prepare the next day's food for breakfast and lunch at work. Yes, as you can imagine it is Tupperware Central, but it's worth not having to think about what to eat later in the week.

On weekends, it's pretty much the same except since we're home I'll make omelets or take more time to make stir-fry, or more elaborate dish. And yes, I have certainly indulged in a cheat meal or two, but mentally I know I am around 80/20% compliant. 

For more food habits sharing, check out my friend, Laura's blog at Against the Grain

What do you do for food? Do you have a routine or prepare ahead of time?

Monday, August 9, 2010

But It's My Destiny! (or is it?)

With nutrition comes the classic debate: nature vs. nurture. Is your health and the way you look determined more by your genetics or your habits? The nature camp would say that your genetics is your destiny and there is little you can do to control it. The nurture camp would say that habits and lifestyle largely affect your health and appearance. So which is it?

Pictured above are German twins, Otto and Ewald. As you can see, one is physically larger and healthier looking than the other. So why is this picture so important? Because genetically, Otto and Ewald started out identical, but clearly their lifestyle and habits affected their appearance. Essentially, they were able to CONTROL their genetics! There is actually a name for the study of this: epigenetics. By having different lifestyles, you can majorly affect your "gene expression," and change your so-called Destiny. 

To give you an example of this, let's look at alcoholism. Many people would say this is an inherited disease, but what happens if an "alcoholic" never has alcohol? Yes, genetically they may be predisposed to alcoholism, but if alcohol is never introduced into their system, the disease would not manifest itself! Too skeptical of even this analogy? Take the scenario of a fair skinned person and dark skinned person at the beach. Who is going to sunburn quicker? Obviously the fair skinned person, due to genetics. But let's keep that person indoors, or put long sleeves on them, and all of a sudden they have changed how their genes are expressed!

The same idea can be applied to Type II Diabetics. Diabetes occurs when a person can no longer manufacture insulin which controls blood sugar levels. A Standard American Diet (SAD) messes with blood sugar levels so much that a record number of people are diagnosed with Diabetes every day. If one were to stay away from grains, sugar, and starches, the disease would most likely not manifest itself because the stimulant is not present, just like alcohol to the "alcoholic."

It's amazingly sad that people will essentially "give up" effort to eat well because they think it's their "destiny." Just imagine a person saying "Well, it's my destiny to be an alcoholic so I might as well drink as much as I can." You would probably be outraged if this were a friend or family member. The same should be true for those choosing to let "destiny" control their health. Anyone with Diabetes in their family history (or obesity, or heart disease, etc etc) needs to realize that they DO have control over their future and yes, it might need some extra effort compared to others around them, but I hope they see that it's worth it. Some people need a little more vigilance when it comes to diet, just like a fair skinned person needs to be more vigilant about the sun.

For those who are new to this blog or wondering how to start, check out: How to Be Healthy 101

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