That little battle for your health

That little battle for your health

The other day I listened to a podcast while driving to the post office to get my mail. It featured one bro talking to another bro about post-apocalyptic survival, the end of civilization, not knowing whom to trust, and things you have to know/do in order to evade capture. Yes, I listen to some weird stuff.

Anyway, one of the bros, a former CIA agent, said when you’re in deep shit, the first thing you have to do is throw away anything with batteries (technology) so you can’t be traced. You have to go old school.

And in that moment, waiting at the light at the corner of State and Broadway, I had a major realization. It literally blew my mind. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

We are at war, and it’s time to go old school. This war is not against Russia or Iran or China – it’s far more personal, and the problem is the most of us have been too numbed-out to realize we’re in the middle of it. In fact, that’s why it’s a war. Our entire culture is set up to make us sick, and there are far too many people who are willing to take our money from us along the way. The entire mainstream culture is complicit. 

Overdramatic? I don’t think so. And even if it is, so be it.

Because I’m 99 percent sure it takes a warrior’s mindset to break free of this matrix. My own health struggles have led me to down a road of self-questioning, many visits to PubMed, reading books, and looking for patterns. It feels like being stuck in quicksand and it’s hard to know whether you have the energy or will to pull yourself out.

None of the following is groundbreaking news. Entire books can be (and have been) written about each topic, but here’s a quick overview of the landscape.

Why you have to go off-grid

  1. The mainstream food supply can’t be trusted because it contains disease-contributing ingredients. Plus, those food products are specifically designed to be tasty and make us want more of them. I always told clients: sugar craves sugar.
    And sometimes sugar doesn’t even TASTE like sugar (but once it’s in your body, it’ll want to throw a party and invite more in). Your body is programmed to want it, because it’s fast and easy fuel – perfect for our ancestors who needed that fuel to survive. 
  2. The problem is, in the doses we eat nowadays, these foods are not good for our bodies. In fact, they are not just “not good” … often, they actually are bad. They mess with our hormonal system so we crave more of them – as well as feel foggy, tired, depressed and have aches and pains. Plus, they wreak havoc on our digestive systems, our brains, our hearts and our cells.
  3. Our bodies want to rest. That’s because generations ago, we actually needed rest – we were worn out from the arduous task of staying alive (avoiding predators, moving about, finding food, maintaining shelter). Our current lifestyle isn’t nearly so physically demanding, but our bodies still are programmed for a good layabout session, even if the most demanding thing we’ve done all day is to take a shower. 
  4. When you eventually get sick from eating too much crappy food (even food you might have believed to be healthy) and/or not moving enough, you enter the health care industrial complex where you are given pills and usually not told how to mitigate the problems you’re having.
    If you have a skeptical mind, you could attribute this to two factors:

    1. The health care professionals know you won’t make the changes anyway, because you’re addicted to food engineered to make you want more of it and you’re filled with inertia because you’ve spent a great deal of your time on the couch. They’re burned out and tired of trying to help people help themselves. So they give you your pills and send you on your way.
    2. Also, if they DO tell you what changes to make and you DO follow through, what happens to their long term income? It dries up. BTW, I’m not necessarily talking about your individual doc here but the company/infrastructure that employs her/him.

Here’s what I know for sure: When you’re in the middle of it, it feels like shit. It really does feel like you are stuck in that quicksand mentioned above.

You have to fight back

It’s time to do battle. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I also know this: when it comes to health and wellness, it’s a good idea to question everything.

You even have to question your body’s own signals, because what it craves likely the last thing it really needs – especially if you’ve been eating anything close to a standard American diet. The hormonal reactions set up by what you’re feeding your body are actually running the show: the food itself is in command.

You have to wrest back control.

The system is set up against us – processed foods, factory farming, over-farmed fields, confusing science. I’m not talking crazy “health nut” stuff here, btw. I’m talking about general health and wellness.

One of the most frustrating things – heck, THE most frustrating thing – about being a personal trainer is the little dance you have to do with clients in order to keep them motivated, because breaking the cycle is incredibly hard. It requires some discomfort.

You want your clients to get results just as much as THEY want results, but you also don’t want to scare them off. And most clients will tell you that they do not want discomfort. Even the American College of Sports Medicine soft-pedals its own exercise recommendations, in hopes of getting more compliance.

Often it comes down to recommending that clients do the ABSOLUTE LEAST they can get away with in order to get at least a modicum of results. You hope it starts to build on itself, so that they buy in to make more changes over time.

I’m not training clients any longer, so I’m going to be moving past the “least” stage when I talk about this stuff now.

I’m talking to myself here, too. Because there’s something I’ve found: when you start to get sick or are injured, your body really starts  reverting to its ancestral patterns. Those cravings get stronger and the desire to rest grows deeper. 

It’s time to go to war, even if the battle cry feels like a Monday morning whimper. The truth is, it’ll get easier (even in just a few days).

5 ways to go old school

All of the below are easy to say but can be challenging to do – which is why it helps to look at this as a war, and to build a warrior’s mindset. Get mad. Question everything, even your thoughts. Is the food running you, or are you running it? Who’s calling the shots?

1. Don’t eat anything out of a package. 

2. Cut out sugar.

3. Build a base of fruit and vegetables, add some lean proteins and healthy fats, and a little bit of non-grain carbs.

4. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

5. Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night.

(Bonus) 6. Be vigilant and consistent. Don’t listen to the programming in your head. In time, the changes will stick.

Workout

  • 25 minutes on Arc trainer
  • 20 minutes of 10 percent incline treadmill “sprints”
    • Varying time and speed,  based on how close to death I felt 🙂 
That meltdown I had earlier this week 5/11/18

That meltdown I had earlier this week 5/11/18

So the other day I had a meltdown. It was long overdue, and even though it happened more than 48 hours ago, I am still not quite recovered from it.

That’s because of my general modus operandi for life, which doesn’t allow the “luxury” of a meltdown:

  1. I waited too long (more than a dozen years) to have the meltdown.
  2. Things to melt down about kept piling on because I waited.
  3. I had too much stuff to do to wallow in the ever-increasing pile.
  4. See No. 1 above, and continue the cycle.

There’s a big mountain of unfinished business to deal with now, and while I don’t think this will be a long job, it’s time to start shoveling through it.

Because my health is involved now.

The other night, hours after the actual meltdown, I had a headache so I took my blood pressure. I didn’t like the numbers I saw. At all.

Here’s the thing: even healthy people who theoretically do “all the right things” can get stuff wrong with them. I have decades worth of an autoimmune disease in my back pocket (which I have soldiered through pretty darn uncomplainingly if I do say so myself, because why would anyone listen?). But now I’m at the age where it has lots of ripple effects, including hypertension. 

If the past couple years have taught me anything, it’s that problems will continue to escalate until you decide to address the underlying issues. They won’t go away.

BTW, how weird is it I’m more scared of dealing with the health care industrial complex than I am of kicking the bucket?

Anyhoo, I realize I need to make some additional changes in my life … changes I’m not that excited about and will be railing against over the next couple days.  

Oh, fun!

5 things for Friday, May 11

1. I love sugar and it doesn’t love me. When you have an autoimmune disease that saps your energy, sometimes you crave quick foods that will give you a boost (SUGAR!). But in the long run, it actually saps your energy. Yet another reason to curse the design of the human body.

2. It’s hard to write lists and blog posts when you censor out a lot of tasty morsels because they involve other people whom you don’t want to burn.

3. I once had a married personal training client (someone I inherited from another trainer who attracted a different sort of clientele than my regulars) who used to frequent an “adult friend” website at least weekly. She told me she “met” a guy on that site, drove 50 miles to “meet” him in real life, engaged in an adult-friend encounter in the back of his vehicle, and drove home. My main question, among many: what is your self-talk on the way home from that encounter?

4. I have a lot of stories. So many. 

5. Is it bad I shared that one?

Workout

  • 4x through:
    • Leg press x 12
    • Leg extension x 15
  • Romanian deadlift with DB, 4×12
  • Alternating reverse lunges with KB, 4×10 each side
  • Single-leg hip thrusts, 4×15 each side

 

How to eat for fat loss over 50 (and every other age, too)

How to eat for fat loss over 50 (and every other age, too)

If you want to lose fat, you need to do two main things.

  1. Make your body better at burning fat.
  2. Require it to burn more fat.

It’s crazy how complicated people can make those two tasks sound. Trust me, it’s not that complicated. Yes there’s a ton of contradictory science but the basics of the above – and what I’m about to lay out below – haven’t changed and I’m guessing they won’t change, either. 

How to eat for fat los over 50 (and every other age)

The hard truth: losing fat is NOT a fast process, especially when you’re older. Just by virtue of BEING older, you’re a survivor. That means your body is smart – it’s lived this long and it wants to survive, so in order to do that it slows down your metabolism so you require less fuel.

You’ll have more success if you incorporate these tips into a lifestyle instead of a short-term “thing” … the upside: you’ll feel better every day, have more energy and an improved mood. Plus you’ll notice huge changes in your skin and hair, and in the way your body moves and feels.

1. Make your body better at burning fat

Your body’s preferred fuel is glycogen, which is basically sugar/carbs. If there are readily available carbs in your system, it’ll burn them. If you take in too many carbs/sugars, your body will store them.

But here’s the thing: once your body runs out of carbs, it’ll use other fuel sources (including stored fat!) to fuel everything you do, from breathing to dashing up the stairs to retrieve your glasses.

Do you need to cut out all carbs? Go into ketosis? Should you go buy test strips? How about a fancy blood monitor?

NO.

The best bet for long-term success is to create a sustainable lifestyle. Any diet or program that requires you to buy or do (like test for ketones) a lot of extra stuff to support it isn’t going to give you lasting results unless you are a highly motivated/obsessed person. I competed in figure competitions for four seasons so I know this firsthand. 

Your diet shouldn’t run your life. Your diet should fuel your life.

Instead do this: Eat real food. I’m talking about more veggies and fruit, healthy fats and proteins, occasionally enjoy some fiber-rich complex carbs but watch your portions — legumes, quinoa, beets, rice, etc. 

Note: wine IS carbs. All of them. So watch your intake.

Your body has a harder time burning fat when it’s under stress, too – remember, it wants to survive, so if it feels under attack, it’s likely to engage in a series of hormonal responses designed to help with that (like burning less fuel). Some stress in life is inevitable and even good for you, but too much is bad all the way around.

Your body can feel stress from: too little rest or sleep, poor diet, autoimmune disease (which have huge impact on your body’s intricate hormonal systems), financial/business/work/family/relationship issues, some medications/drugs and/or overuse of alcohol.

2. Require your body to burn more fat.

This has two components … eating and moving.

First, the eating. You need to let your gas tank get a little empty so you can switch on your reserve (stored) tank of fuel. The key to that: Watch your portion sizes. The amount of fuel you take in DOES matter if you’re trying to lose fat (even non-carb intake).

Second, the moving. The more you move, the more fuel you burn. Studies repeatedly show that when it comes to fat loss, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can have more of an affect than your workouts! NEAT calories get burned when you are just moving around during the course of the day.

And when you do work out, make sure you train with intensity — listen to your body but be sure to push yourself just a little bit at least a few times a week (i.e., strolling at 2 mph on the treadmill probably isn’t going to give you the results you want). And lift weights a few times a week. As we age, we lose muscle. Not only do you need muscle to remain strong and vital, but it also burns a little more fuel over the course of the day than your body’s other parts.

Avoid this rookie fat-loss mistake (which we all make): If you think you “deserve” a high-calorie, sugar-laden treat because you worked out and/or were busy all day … and fat loss is your primary goal … be careful not to undo all the hard work you put in by overfilling your tank.

Remember: fat-loss is primarily a diet-related phenomenon.

5 Things for Thursday, May 10

1. I have 14,386 unread emails, most of them trying to sell me something.

2. Yesterday I cried for the first time in a long time. Like, an ugly awful dizzy-making cry that I was worried would never stop. See the stress note above? Crying helped. I think. Maybe. Although I did end up fighting a migraine for the rest of the day. #oversharing

3. Also yesterday, my dog met the 3-pound dog that lives next door. The two of them bark at each other many times a day, and I thought a meeting would help. Poor Bella (the little dog) was so timid and scared. But this morning? No barking.

4. External validation. Some of us need more of it than do others. That’s OK.

5. Why do I share my workouts below? So you can steal them if you want.

Bonus No. 6: I now have 14,396 unread email messages.

Workout

Quick cardio day

  • 15 minutes elliptical
  • 15 minute treadmill running intervals
  • Adductor/abductor machine, 3x:
    • 20 abductions (press out)
    • 15 adductions (press in)

Oh hey Wendy why did you only do that one machine? Two reasons: my lumbo-pelvic-hip complex has been really tight/cranky and these movements seem to help, and my leg workout last week didn’t hit these accessory muscles very well.

Pushing that boulder, 5/9/18

Pushing that boulder, 5/9/18

There have been many changes the past five months including these three biggies:

  • I’ve stopped training clients in person.
  • I took a new job in an old career.
  • I moved. 

It all happened very quickly. During all of it, it felt like I was pushing boulders uphill — tedious, scary and never-ending. Plus, I was unable to see beyond the boulder in front of me. 

But even though it felt like a never-ending task, it wasn’t. I’ve made it to the top of this tiny hill and I can see the landscape a little better, but is this the hill I wanted to climb?

This recent climb has been hard and humbling. Lonely. Quiet. It’s made me contemplate the nature of friendship, of connection with others, expectations and reciprocity.

I’m learning that sometimes — not always, but sometimes — it isn’t you (or me). Sometimes it is them. Sometimes it is hard to let that go, because sometimes it’s less painful to shoulder the blame.

5 Things for Wednesday May 9

1. I like how cardio makes me feel. It’s not always “cool” to like cardio … just like it’s cooler to like pizza than broccoli. But the truth is, nothing lifts the spirits quite so much as getting the heart rate up for a little while (see workout below). And let’s face it: if you’re worried about being cool (because why does that even matter?), you aren’t.

2. Dancing with the Stars athletes edition … so much fun.

3. Based on my viewing patterns, I think maybe my next personal trainer continuing education classes should be dance related, yes? I miss teaching group ex.

4. When something makes you feel anxious, do you rush headlong into it, do you sit and analyze or do you back away? What do you do when you aren’t sure you can trust your gut (because, contrary to popular belief, sometimes your gut gets bad programming and you can’t trust it).

5. I want to stay home from work this afternoon and play with the flowers that are in full bloom in my yard.

Workout

  • 15 minutes Arc trainer (elliptical), 160 strides/minute pace
  • 10 minutes Stepmill with skip-a-step intervals
  • 15 minutes treadmill incline and side-step intervals
  • 5 minute Arc trainer cooldown
  • Core sequence, 3x through:
    • 10 Roman chair back extensions
    • 10 kettlebell wood chops each side
    • 12 bench v-ins

 

The Next Step 5/8/18

The Next Step 5/8/18

The other day I realized I need to figure out what to do with this blog. It’s been lying dormant here on the internet, giving me website shame. Things have changed, a lot, since my last post. So much. 

And I’ve been listening for far too long to the experts who told me what I had to do in order to have a blog … even though it’s likely I’ve had a blog for longer than most of them have been old enough to own laptops. Plus, there’s been a great deal of business and personal betrayal, which has made me pull back on sharing basically anything. I’ve been figuring all that out and what it meant and means.

For my entire life I’ve tried really hard to color inside the lines because on a survival level I want to fit in and be a good girl. But the truth is, that’s probably not me … I get bored, I check out, I slip out the side door. So I am going to do an experiment, replicating what I did back in the days when I enjoyed blogging. Because as I’ve been musing on this blog’s future, I realized the officialization of blogging (the rules, the must-haves, the systems) is part of what killed it for me.

For a while, I’m just going to write about stuff that interests me. Stuff I find fun or helpful or “aha.” If it sticks, I’ll keep the blog. If it doesn’t, cya later gator. 

If you followed my old forever-archived blog, you know I love lists. 

5 Things for Tuesday, May 8

1. Bingeing on The Next Step on Hulu. How did this happen? And why?

2. Life is better when you have a goal or something to look forward to.
3. Sitting all day at work sucks. Fastest way to effortlessly gain weight ever.
4. Trying to turn that above thought around, into how efficient my body has become at storing energy. It’s built to survive.
5. Being able to “borrow” e-books from the library is pretty awesome.

  1. Workout

        • 15 minutes on elliptical
        • Upper body circuit (nursing a bad shoulder)
          • 4x through:
            Cable row, 10
            Straight-arm pulldown, 10
            Triceps pressdown, 15
          • 4x through:
            Dumbbell chest press, 10
            Rear delt raise, 12
            Biceps curl, 15
        • 15 minutes on treadmill, incline intervals.