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 🙂 
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.

How Many Calories Do You Need? Try This Macronutrient Calculator

How Many Calories Do You Need? Try This Macronutrient Calculator

No matter how “healthy” you eat, if changing your body composition – losing fat, gaining muscle – is a goal, it won’t happen until you get a handle on how you’re fueling your body.

To lose weight (and fat), you have to eat less fuel than you burn.

How Many Calories Do You Need?

I created this calculator to help you see how many calories you actually need during the course of a day, along with a handy macronutrient calculator so you can try to get the ideal amount of protein, fat, and carbs based on your goals.

When it comes to choosing a macronutrient profile that suits you, remember: each one of us has a unique operating system.

If you’re trying to lose weight and are healthy, you can help stay full and maintain muscle by eating a higher (not necessarily high!) protein diet. 

But there’s no need to overload your body with protein (or fat!). Experiment and see what works best for you!

Note: the calculations for women are different than men, so I’ve tailored this specific calculator for women. If there’s enough interest I’ll make one for men too 🙂 

How Do You Track Your Macros?

Exactly how you follow your macros is another post for another day, but a good app to use is either Fitbit’s food log or MyFitnessPal. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of tracking your macronutrient protocol, just focus on the calories.

I figured out how to do it myself, after monkeying around with some nutrition calculators. Honestly, I think that’s the best way but there can be a high frustration level.

I’ve written a super-cheap book on how to track your macros (the link is in the menu bar) but I’ll also put together an easy-to-follow post in the near future. I just wanted to get this calculator out to you!

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The 4-Ingredient Protein Brownies That Will Feed Your Cravings

The 4-Ingredient Protein Brownies That Will Feed Your Cravings

I’ve tried a lot of homemade protein brownies and cakes in my life, and this recipe is the best. And it couldn’t be any simpler!

Even better than the fact it requires four little ingredients is the fact it’s forgiving. It’s almost impossible to mess it up.

I played with the amounts of each ingredient until I found the perfect brownie consistency for me. If you like yours fudgier, you might want to cut back on the amount of cocoa powder or add another banana.

Note: if you change the consistency, you might have to adjust the cooking time slightly. Fudgy brownies = cook them less time. Cakey brownies = cook them slightly longer.

The ingredients? All you need is almond butter, protein powder, ripe bananas and cocoa powder.

protein brownies ingredients

I recommend using a plant-based protein powder for this because it seems to bake up better – I happen to like Sun Warrior but you might have a brand you prefer.

Also, you’ll notice that I used cocoa almond butter, but that’s not necessary. I’ve made it with plain, too, and it’s just as delish. Just make sure it’s smooth and not crunchy!

Almond-Chocolate Protein Brownies

2/3 cup almond butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
2 ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place almond butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt for about 30 seconds. Peel and chop bananas for easy mashing.

Combine  cocoa powder, protein powder and bananas in a medium mixing bowl. Begin to mash them together, and add melted almond butter, stirring until all the ingredients are mixed together.

Spray an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray, and spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until done. Remove from oven and cut into 12 portions.

Nutrition information, per brownie: 115 calories, 7 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein.

Enjoy Your Food!

Just because you’re following a “clean eating” plan doesn’t mean you’re stuck with eating chicken and broccoli every day. Check out my FREE recipe book, filled with delicious sweet and salty snacks! Download it below now!

Fit foods: Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Olives

Fit foods: Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Olives

When I was growing up, we rarely ate chicken for supper.

My dad, who had served in the U.S. Air Force and was overfed chicken during his tenure, was hard-pressed ever to eat it again.

I understand his feelings now, because I’m kind of over chicken too. Years of eating chicken breast as part of my healthy “clean” diet has made it so I don’t care if I never eat it again.

But then I decided to try chicken thighs and they make me rethink my anti-chicken stance. They tasted so succulent and yummy, and when you run the nutrition numbers, it’s not as bad as you’d think. Plus, they are loaded with protein.

I tried this recipe out for dinner tonight and it was so good I thought I would share it with you. The healthy fats from the olives and almonds add a succulence to this dish you’ll love!

Note: I don’t use precise measurements when I cook so these are approximations. Cook according to your own tastes!

Slow Cooker Chicken With Olives and Almonds
Serves 6
This slow cooker recipe is comfort food at its best: easy to prepare, delicious to eat! And it's complete with healthy fats: olives and almonds.
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268 calories
4 g
153 g
15 g
30 g
3 g
153 g
229 g
1 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
153g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 268
Calories from Fat 130
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
23%
Saturated Fat 3g
16%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 153mg
51%
Sodium 229mg
10%
Total Carbohydrates 4g
1%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 1g
Protein 30g
Vitamin A
14%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
5%
Iron
12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. Olive oil
  2. 1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  3. 12 large olives
  4. 2 cloves minced garlic
  5. 1/3 cup raw unsalted almonds (I used slivered because they were what I had on-hand, but any kind will do)
  6. 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  7. 1-2 tbsp McCormick’s Mexican spice blend OR 1 tbsp. each cumin and chili powder
Instructions
  1. Coat inside of a slow cooker with a teeny bit of olive oil.
  2. Add all the ingredients EXCEPT the chicken into the crockpot. Mix well.
  3. Add chicken thighs and cover well with the ingredients.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Season to taste. Serves 6.
beta
calories
268
fat
15g
protein
30g
carbs
4g
more
Wendy Fitness Coaching http://wendyfitness.com/

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Mean Depriving Yourself

You can still enjoy delicious foods on a clean diet … check out my amazing snack recipes by clicking the banner below! Sweet, salty, crispy, crunchy – there’s something for everyone. 

 

Fit Foods: Turkey Quinoa Enchiladas in the slow cooker

Yummy turkey quinoa slow-cooker enchiladasI can’t tell you the last time I made a recipe that called for lots of foods that came from cans.

Well, at least until last week, when I stumbled across a recipe that looked delicious, healthy and easy (despite the long list of ingredients). I made a few tweaks, paring down the ingredient list, and prepared it for a weekday supper and wow, was it ever good!

In fact, I ended up freezing half of it to enjoy later.

Turkey Quinoa Slow-Cooker Enchiladas

20 oz. ground turkey breast (99 percent fat-free)
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed1 15 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
1 cup frozen yellow corn
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1 10-oz. can medium enchilada sauce
(optional: 2 tbsp. chili powder, 1 tbsp. cumin)
1 cup low-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend

Brown the ground turkey breast in a skillet on the stove (if you can’t find the 20-oz. package, a 1-lb package is just fine).

Place the browned turkey in a slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients, up to but NOT including the cheese. If you have the spices on hand, they will add extra flavor but if you do not have them, no worries.

Mix the ingredients together in the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for about 3 hours. The liquid should be absorbed and the quinoa should be done.

Stir the ingredients again and taste — adjust the spices if you are using them. Add the 3/4 cup of the cheese and stir again. When the cheese has melted, sprinkle 1/4 cup on top. Serve.

Besides the fact that it’s hearty, yummy and nutritious, the other beautiful thing about this recipe is that it’s scalable — you can use it to make 6, 8, or 10 servings depending on how you divide it.

Here’s the nutrition info for 10 servings:
288 calories; 5 grams fat, 6 grams fiber, 37 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein

For 8 servings:
360 calories, 6 grams fat, 8 grams fiber, 45 grams carbs, 31 grams protein