Diets still don’t work, but ….

Diets still don’t work.

 

If you want to make a long lasting, sustainable change to your health, going on a diet is not the solution – they don’t workyoung woman weighs herself.  The good news though is that diets can help bridge between where you are at now, and a healthier lifestyle.  If this seems contradictory, let me explain briefly.

Most people “go on a diet” to accomplish a short term goal (usually to lose some weight – not a bad thing for most Americans, but more about that in another post).  The problem comes in when you end the diet.  If the goal was just to lose weight, you may or may not meet that goal – but after you stop the diet – what then?   Most people either merge back into their old way of eating – or “reward” themselves with desserts and treats and find they end up weighing more than when they started their diet.

Losing weight is not a bad thing, but is it the right goal?  I believe that is part of the problem – shooting for the wrong target.  Consider weight gain as a symptom of the problem instead of the problem to be targeted.

Start by visualizing the healthy you – what does that look and feel like?  Be really specific about how you visualize the healthy you, and remember -It’s not just about weight loss.  Even though losing some weight would be good for most Americans, you need to  visualize the version of you that you want to be –  truly healthy and feeling good.  Visualizing the healthy you is the first step to making the lifestyle changes that will help you get there.

Ask yourself what it would be like to get up every day, feeling good, and eager to do things to nourish and care for your body.   Many healthy, active lifestylepeople don’t even remember a day where they “felt really good” – but what if you could make some lifestyle changes that would have you getting up most every day feeling great?

You won’t make lasting changes until you line up your goals and priorities with a specific visualization of a healthy you.  Once you do that, you’re ready to start looking at some specific steps to get there.  The next few posts will look at a few of the diets that are out there that can help you move toward that goal.  I will also give you some specific guidance on some other important lifestyle choices, and how to make these changes stick – so that they can become part of a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

Sensitive to Wheat? Maybe you should try Spelt!

Spelt is a grain you should know about.

Spelt is very much like wheat with just a few important differences, as a matter of fact spelt IS an ancient form of wheat.  For this reason it shares many attributes with wheat, and foods made with spelt are very similar (and taste similar) to those made with wheat.spelt and wheat

Heap of ripe grain feed of wheat as a texture

Wheat berries

Spelt enjoyed greater popularity as a grain for several centuries, but was replaced by wheat over the last century for a number of reasons. However, spelt has recently had a resurgence in popularity primarily because of some of it’s healthy attributes.

Spelt grain

Spelt berries

Spelt has a great taste – although the flavor has been described as a bit nuttier than wheat, spelt is actually very wheat-like in both it’s taste and texture.  Spelt has also gained a reputation for being a healthy for grain since it is often raised without the same herbicide load as wheat.   Much of the spelt grain and flour found in stores is actually organically raised, eliminating the concerns that go with herbicides, pesticides, and specifically glyphosate (the primary ingredient in Roundup).

You can now find a variety of spelt flours and spelt products (bread, crackers, rolls, etc) in many of the mainstream grocery stores, not just in specialty or health food stores.  Nutritional content and calorie count are very similar to wheat.

It’s important to note that spelt does contain gluten, but many people who have troubles when eating wheat do not have the same problems with spelt.  This may be because of the way the spelt grain has remained largely unchanged for so long, or due to differences in farming practices.   As noted previously, glyphosate (Roundup) is sometimes applied to wheat before harvest (though wheat treated this way is never labeled as such, and may be included in the flour or wheat based products you purchase).   This is not the case with Spelt and may account for the differences in digestive problems or gut irritation.   Find out more about spelt and consider trying some spelt products yourself.   I personally bake all of my recipes that call for wheat flour with at least a partial blend of spelt flour.

 

Questions or comments – use the form below – I’d love to hear from you!

Why I choose organically raised wheat

Wheat has come up in discussion recently in some conversations about diet, carbs, etc.   Although I limit the amount of carbs in my diet, I have not eliminated wheat from my diet.  BUT –  I have done my best to limit myself to organically raised wheat.

I do this for several reasons, but the main reason I want to focus on now is glyphosate.

Glyphosate is the primary active ingredient found in the herbicide Roundup from Monsanto.  You can do the research yourself and decide what you are willing to consume, but I made the choice to avoid foods raised with or deliberatly exposed to glyphosate – See more at: http://wp.me/p3m5tK-cI

Why mention glyphosate in a conversation about wheat?  Because it is one of the chemicals sometimes applied to wheat before harvest.  While there is not currently a “Roundup Ready” wheat on the market or approved for human consumption as of 2015, Roundup is used on wheat to get fields of wheat uniformly ready for harvest.  It does this by killing the wheat plant and causing the kernels to be at the same stage of readiness for harvest.

Golden wheat field with blue sky in background

Golden wheat field with blue sky in background

Which non-organic wheat is treated this way? Might glyphosate residue be in your flour?  Hard to know for sure, unless you using organic flour or products made from organic wheat.  Organic wheat cannot be raised with or treated with glyphosate.

Is it worth the risk?  Not to me – especially after reading in the Lancet Journal of Oncology that

“Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro”.  I’d prefer to play it safe and stick with organic foods – in this case organic wheat.
One last note – it’s interesting that some people find that their wheat sensitivity goes away when they use organic wheat.   Have you had this experience or do you know someone who has?  If so, I’d like to hear from you – use the form below to share your results.

 

Is Iced Tea OK to drink?

A recent question comes from Dan:  “I’ve been wondering – is iced tea alright?   Is it ok to drink, or is it not healthy?glass-of-iced-tea-with-a-lemon-pv

The answer is pretty straightforward, with a couple of qualifiers up front.

  • Avoid sweetened tea –  it’s an extra source of sugar at best, artificial sweeteners (which should be avoided) at worst.  If you *must* drink sweetened tea, go for a natural sweetener like sugar or stevia or xylitol – but you’re best off avoiding the sweeteners.
  • Go for brewed iced tea – better flavor and more flavonoids and corresponding health benefits
    (see the linked USDA database for flavonoid content and compare for yourself)

fresh lemon slicesWith these in mind, have that glass of iced tea, have two or three.  Make sure you include plenty of water as part of your healthy lifestyle, but don’t worry about having several glasses of tea as well.

You can also add a squeeze of lemon for an added healthy zing

In addition to flavonoids, tea is a source of a few important minerals including potassium and manganese.
So while its not, or even if it’s not – enjoy a big glass of guilt free iced tea – not only is it ok, it can help you replace other unhealthy elements of your diet and help you move toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.

 

So what is the deal with all these diets?

Seriously – there seems to always be some new diet that is all the rage; some dieimage courtesy of qualitystockphotos.comt or hot new method to lose weight, cleanse your body, detox … you get the idea.  All it takes is a glance at the magazines at any grocery store checkout to see what the celebrities consider to be the latest and greatest way to shed some pounds.  The promises are many – this is the hidden secret, this is the one that doesn’t make you change what you eat, this one lets you eat as much (fill in the blank) as you want, the Paleo diet, Keto diet, Low Carb diet, All Carb Diet, Gluten Free Diet, Peanut Butter Diet, All Veggie Diet, and the list goes on and on and on.  But do these really work, and are they good for you?

Upcoming are several posts that will deal with these questions, questions about diet, diets, and dieting, and also some guest posts that will give you some real-life firsthand accounts of experiences as a result of various diets and approaches to a healthier lifestyle.

As a foundational truth though – remember that diets don’t work – not in the long term and not for lasting change toward a healthier lifestyle.  Sometimes they can be helpful (and just the thing you need) to shed a few pounds or kick start a change in lifestyle – but “going on a diet for a while” is almost always destined to fail since you’ll eventually end up right back where you started (or worse off) once you return to your old ways.

The bottom line – “diets” in the traditional sense don’t work – but a change in your diet can work if you incorporate those changes into your daily life and make them foundational for a new lifestyle.  If you do that – there are several different dietary approaches out there that do work.  Upcoming posts will take a closer look at these questions, provide some real-world feedback, and attempt to address any questions you might have.

Questions or comments – please use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Does your style of foot-strike really make a difference?

The last several posts have been about running and there are a few more things to cover before we move on to other topics.  In my last post, I raised the questions of whether your foot-strike really does make a difference, can you change it, and if “barefoot” running is the only way to get these benefits.

The way your foot strikes the pavement (or trail) when you run definitely makes a difference.  There are some good sports medicine articles that cover this in greater detail, but in a nutshell – when you strike with your forefoot or mid-foot, the bones and tissue of your foot absorb and distribute the force of the strike.  When you heel-strike that force is either absorbed and foot-strike2distributed by the materials and construction of the running shoe, but some of it is transmitted up the leg to the ankles, knees, and hips.

It is interesting to note that much of the running shoe development over the last several decades has been in the area of shock absorbers (gels, waffles, waves, cells, ridges and even airbags!) to absorb and distribute the force of a heel-strike and transfer that energy out through the shoes rather than up through the leg and body.  However there is always some force transmitted upward, and depending upon the how worn down the shoes are, the type of surface (cement, asphalt, trail, grass, etc) and the style of the runner, there can still be a considerable amount of force transmitted upward into the body and joints.  If you are a heel-striker you know what this feels like as the cushioning material begins to break down and you begin to feel more pounding in your knees and hips.

In the next post we’ll look at if and how you can change the type of foot-strike you have.

 

Questions or comments – use the reply form below.

So what does barefoot running do for you?

In my last post – we looked at what is barefoot running, and is behind the recent renewed interest in running both barefoot and with minimalist shoes.  As pointed out – the biggest benefit comes from changes the bio-mechanical aspect of running; the strike of the foot, the distribution of the force and stress of the strike, and the resulting shock transferred to the other joints (ankle, knees, hips).  In this post we’ll look more specifically at the touted benefits of “barefoot” running.

In general, there tend to be fewer chronic injuries from “barefoot” running  – for purposes of this post I will include minimalist running (running in thin soled or minimal shoes) in the discussion.

It’s helpful first understand the problem that barefoot running is trying to fix.  Shoes are a great way of providing extra support to the bones and structure of our feet, and protecting the soles of our feet from rocks, twigs and sharp objects as well as the abrasion that can come from running on hard or rough surfaces (not to mention keeping your feet clean – especially if you run on horse trails like I do!).  However, running shoes may have introduced a bio-mechanical problem of their own.  As shoe and cushioning technology has advanced, it has naturally (or as a byproduct) sometimes resulted in a heavier or more pronounced heel strike for many runners (this means that they land on their heel first when their foot strikes the ground).

As pointed out in a recent New York Times article, barefoot on cement2“Proponents [of barefoot running] say barefoot running is more natural — humans evolved to run without shoes — and economical. When you lift a shod foot, you have to lift the weight of the shoe, and that requires energy. Added to that effort is the cushioning in shoes, which absorbs energy that should go into propelling you forward.”  Proponents of barefoot running also point out that a mid-foot or forefoot strike more evenly distributes the force of the strike throughout the foot structure instead of directing the force up from the heel to the knee and hip joints.

So this brings us to the questions of whether your foot-strike really does make a difference, can you change it, and if “barefoot” running is the only way to get these benefits – and we’ll look at those in the next post.

Questions or comments?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

You don’t have to do it all at once

This blog is dedicated to one thing – helping you make little changes to help you move toward a healthier lifestyle one little step at a time. This applies to all areas of health and fitness covered here on mrhlth.com. Remember that matter how healthy or unhealthy your lifestyle is today, you didn’t get there overnight.

Keep this in mind as you read these posts about diet, lifestyle, and fitness. I receive questions from people who are just getting started at living a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes it may seem daunting or overwhelming when you read posts about running (e.g. best time of day to run, or how to do interval training, etc) and it could be disheartening if you’re just trying to get started on addressing on moving your lifestyle in a healthier direction.

It’s very important to remember that you can’t (and shouldn’t try) to change everything overnight. You might know someone who did that and changed their whole life (seemingly) overnight – diet, fitness, sleep, emotions, etc. While those all are linked and positive changes in one of these areas will help foster positive changes in other parts of your life, rare is the person who can “do it all at once” and sustain those changes.

If you keep this on mind as you read the posts on diet, fitness, and even specific areas like running, it might be easier to find small steps that you can take to incorporate these things into your life.

Coming up: posts on the best running shoes for beginners, the best way to get started with running, how to get started with weight loss, and small dietary steps you can take that can add up to big changes in terms of a healthier lifestyle.

Please keep those questions coming using the reply form below, and take advantage of the ads and partners on the special offers page as they help cover the costs of bringing this blog to you.

Does changing time have your body clock messed up?

Every year the same thing happens in the US – in the autumn people are happy for an extra hour of sleep when the clocks change and every spring it’s a pain when you lose an hour of sleep due to the time change.

The funny thing is, your body tends to still wake you up at the same time in the fall and wants you to sleep until the same time in the spring.  It’s the topic of conversation at home, work, radio and tv shows, etc.  You can do something to help with this and end up getting better sleep.

You can basically do a reset of your body clock and get better overall sleep through the use of melatonin.   This post will highlight the benefit of melatonin in general and how it can help you reset your body clock more quickly, whether it is because of a seasonal time change, or travel to another time zone.

What is melatonin?  Melatonin is a substance that your body naturally produces (in melatonin 5mgthe pineal gland in your brain) to help regulate the sleep/wake cycles.  It is inexpensive, readily available, and effective from any corner drugstore, health food store, or from online sources.  I recommend a dissolvable or sublingual lozenge.  Some people find that a time-release formula works better for through-the-night sleep.

It is best to start with a small dose and work up from there – you may not require much for it to be effective (2, 3 or 5mg).  With drastic time changes, it may take a bit more to help do the initial reset of your body clock.  Many people find that they can back down your dosage once the re-establish healthy sleep patterns.  This can also be a great benefit when traveling, especially if you have changed time zones.

Side effects – typically none, though many people report that they experience more vivid dreams than normal.  Also, make sure you don’t take melatonin during daytime hours as it will make you tired and will tend to throw off your normal body clock.  Also, keep in mind that melatonin is not able to make up for lack of or too little sleep.

For more on sleep, make sure you check out the posts on healthy sleep part1 and healthy sleep part 2.
Do you have questions about melatonin or anything related to a healthy lifestyle?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Want to know the best time of day to run ? Part 2

If you want to find your best time of day for running, I recommend that you try different times of day  – and try them more than once.  This will give you an opportunity to feel how your body responds at different times of day.  By trying a certain time of day more than once you will make sure you didn’t rule out a time just because you tried it on an off day.

Mountain sunsetAfter hearing this, the question most people ask is a variation on:  “But isn’t there a time of day when I will get the most benefit out of the effort I put into running – when I will burn more fat, get maximum cardiovascular benefit, strengthen my muscles the most, etc.”.  To answer it simply – no.

Your maximum benefit comes from doing exercise consistently – and you are more likely to do that if you feel good.  Put another way – you are least likely to be consistent about running  if you try to do it at the time of day where it feels the worst, you “feel” the least benefit, and it fits the worst in your schedule.

Coming up we’ll look at the question of how to get maximum metabolic benefit from your running in order to address the question:
Isn’t the morning when you will the biggest benefit from running; i.e. your metabolism will slowly ramp down after your run throughout the morning and you’ll burn calories for a longer period of time?

 

Questions or comments?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.