Blame it on the Alcohol?

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Image source: pixabay.com

Jamie Foxx’s song “Blame it” encourages blaming alcohol for all ruined relationships, unsafe situations, and perceived enhancement of other’s attractiveness. Outside of the many issues and poor decisions can that can result from a night of boozing, including a high credit card bill, higher risk for accidents, and even a 2am Taco Bell run…there are more. During Covid-19, some are hitting the wine and beer harder.

Let’s review the basics: alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells in the body. Moderation (the amount considered to not contribute to any major health concerns) for the average woman is defined by the CDC as not more than one drink per day and for the average man as not having more than two.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts, “there has been an increase in the proportion of US adults who drink on any given day and an increase in calories consumed from alcoholic beverages when drinking occurs.”

What effect is this having on us from a weight loss perspective? Or a liver-health one?

Now we appreciate the humor some of you bring to our appointments:

“I think I’m drinking enough water. There’s water in beer, right?”

“I’m not too concerned. It’s called a liver, not a die-er”

“Wine-o? Maybe; I prefer ‘wine-yes'”

With alcoholic beverages being among the top five contributors to total caloric intake among US adults, this is something we need to talk about. But beyond calories, here are more reasons to explore your relationship with alcohol:

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❄️ Are you Frozen too? ❄️

areyoufrozentooperfectionism

One of the great joys of having young kids in the family is letting our own inner child come out to play. With the recent release of Frozen II in theaters, we thought this was the perfect time to relate this to being frozen in our own lives. Elsa the Snow Queen’s super-power is turning objects and people to ice. She can build icy bridges, stop an attack, and probably make ice cream whenever she wants (lucky). But her power has to be controlled. And while Elsa freezes things, we often freeze ourselves.

How we ‘Freeze’ ourselves

How do you relate with being frozen? In what area of life are you stuck? It could be around starting an exercise regimen, decluttering the basement or guest room, addressing the issues in your relationships, writing the book, updating the resume or asking for a raise. It could be in the area of health improvement, where we want to lose weight or become more plant-based, but we just can’t seem to begin or sustain our progress.

And because we are frozen, we just find ways to feel better about it. Sometimes we distract ourselves. Have you ever needed to study for a test and then looked at the messy state of your room and thought to yourself, “there’s no ways I can study in this environment”and then spent your study time detail-cleaning the room? We may distract ourselves with lounging in front of the TV, or spending hours on Facebook or Instagram. Numbing out with sugar, caffeine, smoking, or alcohol are also ways we try to make ourselves feel better about being frozen.

What makes this even worse is we put a layer of shame frosting on top. We start belittling ourselves and ‘wishing’ we were better. “Argh,” we think as we get up from the couch after 4 hours of watching Gypsy Sisters or Netflixing World War II documentaries, “I wish I had more motivation to have exercised today” or “I should have cleaned out the downstairs closet, it’s such a mess.”

Perhaps you can relate to unachieved goals, shame storms, and numbing out. Have you ever wondered what lies beneath?

What causes us to be Frozen

In a word: perfectionism. It sounds kind of beautiful, but it’s actually one of the worst words because of the meaning and effect it has in our lives.

It’s hard to say where our perfectionism comes from, but if you’ve ever grown up hearing someone say to you, “If you can’t do it right; don’t do it at all!,” that could be part of the origin. In essence, we are told that our actions, and even who we are, aren’t worthy unless perfect. What a toxic message to carry around with us in our lives.

Perfectionism tends to either paralyze us into inaction or cause us to go overboard and, consequently, burn out.

Why even start to clean the guest bedroom if we can’t do it ‘perfectly’ and we don’t have the five hours we believe it will take? Well, because you CAN make progress, even with 15 minutes of removing trash, clutter, and boxes. 

Perfectionism with our food usually looks like following a certain diet for a few days or weeks, then falling off the wagon and eating everything in sight. There’s an anti-dote to this that allows for sustainable weight loss; chat with us and find out more.

In short, perfectionism usually causes us to procrastinate, get overwhelmed, and shut-down or ‘freeze’.

What’s the cost of perfectionism? The cost is not getting things done at all, whereas we could have made progress. The cost is our inner peace; we don’t feel at peace when we feel stressed and frustrated by not having the time or ability to do something perfectly. Perfectionism can cost our relationships with other people. If you’ve ever yelled at a child or spouse because of a small mess or because they aren’t cleaning the ‘right’ way (your way) you can see the effect your perfectionism and words have on others. Also – and this is two-fold- if you value keeping your home environment museum-perfect over having your ‘messy’ grandchildren visit or if you feel like you can’t have visitors due to a messy, cluttered environment, your relationships with others will suffer.

Check yourself: next time you find yourself frustrated or overwhelmed by a challenge, look underneath that feeling to see if perfectionism is the undercurrent.

How to get Un-frozen

The power of un-freezing ourselves comes from realizing that progress > perfection. Initially, your belief in that statement will recoil. How could progress be better than that which is perfect? Well, considering the high costs and knowing something will never, ever truly be perfect….progress starts looking really good, right? Excellence, according to dictionary definition is, “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” If excellence means that we can take action, feel good about ourselves, and not get stuck, why would anyone choose perfectionism instead? 

A small step, taken consistently and continuously reaching toward our goal is better than no action at all. Perhaps you remember My 30-minute Morning Routine about how many people create obstacles for themselves to workout when 6 minutes of strength-training in your own home can still help you feel better and see results. But if you don’t learn to change your way of thinking, perfectionism will keep you hog-tied and frozen.

In Frozen II, Elsa’s sister, Anna, seems to display and embody more of the element – fire – in this movie. Here’s where we have an answer to thawing ourselves out and taking action. Fire motivates, it stirs passion, and, if uncontrolled, it will burn everything in its path. So the key here is to find your motivation and use it as the fire to propel you towards your goals, but without going overboard and burning out.

Motivation isn’t usually enough though, so consider other ‘hacks’ such as scheduling your workout. The 4 Tips to Fit in Fitness blog is a great place to start. When it comes to decluttering, check out our experience with the Konmari Method for inspiration and ideas to make it easier.

Want to write a book? Just start writing, imperfectly. A typo is not the end of the world; besides, there are opportunities to review and make edits (or have others do it!). Allowing perfectionism to rule in this area of your life means your story is never shared, in-print or online.

What’s one area of your life where you’re willing to become ‘unfrozen’ and warm up your ‘fire’ to take action?

How to Handle Holiday Eating

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During a recent interview for an AARP article we were asked quite a few questions and here’s a full scoop of answers to help you handle your holiday eating.

How to handle buffets and cocktail parties:

When it comes to holiday parties where buffets are a feature, it’s best to eat a sensible snack beforehand so you’re not ravenous when you arrive.

At cocktail parties, where cheese cubes, salty snacks, and sweet treats are ubiquitous, it’s a good idea to grab a small plate and find the veggie tray first before choosing one or two favorite treats to add. Also, have a game plan with alcohol- perhaps you limit yourself to one drink and two treats. Without this guideline, or with extra alcohol involved, the intake of calories can go haywire.

Healthy ways to handle sit-down dinners:

Some ideas for smart side dish swaps include having roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed rutabaga, or mashed cauliflower. All of these have fiber and are great source of antioxidants.

Generally, fasting earlier in the day leads to over-eating later when the large meal is served. I always suggest eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, and to treat Thanksgiving dinner as you would most dinners. Enjoy one plate and focus on the conversation. There’s no requirement to eat all you can and overly stuff yourself.

Smart holiday drinking:

Q: Is it true that drinking alcohol can stimulate your appetite?
A: The main problem with drinking alcohol is its well-known effect of impairing our judgment. After a few drinks, we find it easier to ‘justify’ having more cheese cubes, salty or sweet treats. Think of the number or holiday parties you’ll be attending this year and how much this could impact your health goals or weight loss/maintenance.

General nutrition for the holiday season:

Q: Can you offer some healthy foods that are at their peak in November/December for people to take advantage of?
A: When it comes to seasonal produce, it depends on which region of the United States you are in. California has a lot of fantastic offerings during November and December, including avocados. In the midwest, Brussels sprouts, garlic, rapini, and horseradish are seasonal in late November.

Q: Is it true that stress can cause cravings?
A: Stress in general – and especially during the holidays – can trigger more emotional eating. More than foods that help reduce stress, lifestyle factors are very key in keeping  on track. Ensuring that you get enough sleep, keep up with exercise, take a bath or participating other self-care activities, is particularly effective in reducing stress-related cravings.

Shopping at the mall:

Q: Are there any tricks for surviving a day at the mall, where temptations—from food courts, to Godiva shops, to “gotta buy” seasonal goodies at Williams-Sonoma—abound?
A: For keeping on track when it comes to shopping malls and their abundance of food court options and other temptations, the same tip applies as for going grocery shopping. It’s best to go shopping after you’ve recently eaten a meal, such as lunch, and to carry snacks that are high in protein and fiber because they will fill you up. 

So often we focus on what to do during a particular holiday meal, when what we’re doing the other 99% of the year with our food choices and behaviors actually matters more. Going a bit overboard, once or twice, during the holiday season is not going to dramatically throw you off your goals. On the other hand, working with your nutritionist to improve the other 99% of the year can show dramatic benefit.

Tips: Healthy Holiday Indulgence

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1. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you set your eyes upon a prepared feast. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how much food you’ll need to feel satisfied. Your surroundings, mood, stress  and hunger levels will influence your answer. Be mindful.

2. Restricting one’s self takes a lot of willpower and brainpower, which can pull focus away from enjoying a meal together and spending time with loved ones. Take time for conversation, slow down, relax, savor your food, and listen to your body’s response.

3. The holidays are marketed as ‘special’ and ‘limited time only’, which makes it so we often believe this is our only chance to eat certain foods. This causes thoughts of scarcity and deprivation, which can easily lead to over-indulging, just to ‘get it while it lasts’!  Remember, you can have these special foods again – ask for the recipe, go back for a second helping, have leftovers. This helps with staying mindful while enjoying our food and the holiday celebration.

4. Identify a few things that really make the holidays for you. For some it’s visiting  the zoo lights and hot chocolate, reading by the fire, or time with friends over a pastry and coffee. For us, the holidays come alive while baking cookies with family.  Since this isn’t something we do during the rest of the year, it’s nostalgic and has a wonderful feeling of holiday celebration. Find the special treats that are an integral part of your holiday celebrations and take the time to mindfully savor them.

5. Hosting for the holidays? It’s easy to forget to eat while cleaning the house, bathing the dog, and running errands; however, skipping meals during the day can lead to intensified food cravings and overeating at night. Remember to check in with your body often to assess hunger level and have healthy snacks or meals on hand.

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3 Tips: Get the Holiday Glow

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The cold, dry winter season along with overindulgence in food and beverages can leave one feeling (and looking) a bit lackluster. Restore a healthy glow and have more energy and joy this holiday season by hydrating and resting the body in a balanced way.

  1. Rest and rejuvenation. Oftentimes we feel there is never enough time as the holidays approach. Getting enough rest is key, with sleep and self-care being of utmost importance (hint: schedule it!). A quick walk in nature or yoga class can restore your energy levels so you can tackle that next challenge. Overall, adequate rest is key for giving the body a chance to heal and digest. It also helps us focus and deal with stress in a healthier way.
  2. Hydrate & fuel yourself well. The temptation is to run and get the newest holiday-themed coffee from Starbucks or, at various social events, to imbibe alcohol more frequently. Proper hydration is key for energy levels and reducing calorie consumption. Consider cutting your alcoholic beverage with some seltzer water at parties. Drink some water on a regular basis and carry it with you in a handy bottle. Also, if you’re going to be zipping around, you’ll need the energy to do that from the proper fuel from nutritious foods, including detoxifying brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts).
  3. Beware of the fad diets that abound during this season. Any diet that requires cutting out a certain macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein, or fats) is not sustainable nor advisable. Radical diets can lead to some weight loss but aren’t viable and can often lead to future weight gain. Aim for a balanced plate with 45-50% from vegetables and whole grains, 25-30% from protein, and 25-30% from healthy fats such as nut butters, olive oil, or avocado.

Get your glow on and share your light with others!

Learn about Rhabdomyolysis

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Rhabdomyolysis, or “Rhabdo” for short, is the death of muscle cells (rhabdo from Greek meaning “rod”, myo – “of muscles, relating to muscles” and lysis meaning “to break”). When muscle is damaged or strained from work, it releases a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. If the levels of the protein get too high, they can cause damage to the kidneys and even cause renal failure.

Though it’s not a new condition, rhabdomyolysis has been recently associated with popular high-intensity workout regimens which typically have participants pushing beyond their limits with extreme power-lifting along with challenging cardiovascular activities. However, there are other different causes including dehydration resulting from drug or alcohol, trauma, heat stroke, medications, and infection.

One of the signs of rhabdomyolysis is dark, red, or brown-colored urine and can be accompanied by fatigue, muscle weakness, fever, and difficulty moving limbs as well as nausea and vomiting.

To help avoid injury during high-intensity exercise, it’s important to have proper training and diet. Whether you’re just beginning an intense workout regimen or have been training for years, every athlete needs to know the risk for rhabdomyolysis.

Remember to never push your body for too long or too hard in exercise as well as to have proper nutrition and fluid intake so you can effectively flush out myoglobins through your urine.

Bad to the Bone- 6 Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis.

photo source & permission from:  American Recall Center

photo source & permission from: American Recall Center

Osteoporosis is a ‘silent’ disease in which the bones become weak and brittle; unfortunately, it usually only becomes evident when one fractures a bone. One reason why it is paramount to avoid such fractures is because it can involve surgical replacements that can be defective and cause needless pain. It’s better to protect yourself by learning about risk factors and making diet and lifestyle changes.

The disease has quite a few risk factors:

  • being female
  • age, older age increases risk of osteoporosis
  • family history of osteoporosis and/or fractures
  • having a small, thin body frame
  • being caucasian or asian puts one at higher risk
  • low estrogen for women, low testosterone for men
  • having an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa
  • poor diet & lifestyle habits
  • certain medications can increase risk of osteoporosis
  • lack of exercise

Here are 6 tips you can follow to help protect yourself against the disease and healthily age:

1. Eat your greens! Leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and swisschard are packed with bone-building calcium and vitamin K. Try some spinach in your morning smoothie or mustard greens chopped up in your favorite chili.

2. Avoid smoking & drinking alcohol – both are detrimental to general health and to your bones.

3. Get your vitamin D. This nutrient helps calcium’s absorption in the body, preventing your bones from being fragile or misshapen (think rickets). Even a small amount of sun exposure a few times a week can help your body produce vitamin D, according to the National Institutes of Health. During the winter months, consider a high-quality vitamin D supplement.

4. Kick soda to the (trash) can! You know that cola is detrimental to your teeth, but it can also harm your bones. Studies have suggested a link between soda and lower bone density. Some experts accuse the phosphoric acid in cola being responsible for leeching calcium from bones. Others say caffeine can lower the absorptive capacity of calcium. In any case, it’s best to focus on hydrating yourself with water.

5. Eat more nuts! Not only do nuts contain healthy fat, they also contain the calcium and protein essential for strong bones. Protein deficiency, particularly in older adults, can also cause a loss of bone mass. Consider adding in almonds, walnuts, pistachios and some brazil nuts.

6. Body movement builds bones! Strength-training can assist you in building muscle, losing weight, and creating stronger bones. A gym membership isn’t required for walking, jogging, push-ups, squats, or climbing stairs – so feel free to incorporate this into your daily life and in your home. With these weight-bearing exercises you can strengthen your bone tissue and maintain bone density. Additionally, exercising can help with balance and coordination both of which can prevent falls and fractures.

Remember, we start losing bone mass in our early 30s so do your best to create a strong, osteoporosis-free future!

How to Reduce Free Radical Exposure

photo source: prixray.com

photo source: prixray.com

Free radicals cause oxidative damage & change DNA structure of the cells in the body. Part of this is due to our daily natural cell functioning; however, quite a bit can come from external toxins.

How to reduce free radicals and cellular oxidation

Avoid smoking and exposure
Reducing exposure to x-rays
Avoid tanning beds or over-exposure to the sun
Wear a protective mask around chemicals & other air pollutants
Reduce grilling of foods
Limit and/or avoid alcohol consumption

It can be difficult to avoid many of these external free radicals, be conscious of avoiding what sources you can and remember the importance of eating a rainbow of antioxidants in your everyday eating habits.

Beat Belly Fat

good day columbus

When Good Day Columbus contacted us about how to beat belly fat, we knew this was a golden opportunity to assist people in getting ready for spring. Check out the link here for the segment and onto for the bonus section.

5 Foods to Beat Belly Fat:

1. Chili Peppers – capsaicin boosts metabolism and gives the peppers their kick; it’s a great source of vitamin C and is delicious raw, cooked, or powdered in a variety of dishes

2. Kale – as a nutrient-dense green, it offers plenty of vitamins and minerals which are essential in the fat-burning process; it has the added benefit of having fiber which helps with satiety

3. Green Tea – a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drank 4 cups a day had an average weight loss of 6lbs over the course of 8 weeks. It may be worth having a few cups throughout the day!

4. Coconut Oil – not all fats are created equal; coconut oil has medium-chain triglycerides that can help boost thermogenesis (i.e. fat-burning)

5. Cauliflower – contains phyto-nutrient sulforaphane which can stimulate a pathway to reduce fat cells

Remember, some of these foods can help boost your metabolism and others help support the process, but none of them can work their magic outside of a generally healthy diet. Also, it’s important to avoid foods that can lead to excess belly fat, including: trans-fats/partially-hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, processed foods, refined grains and oils, as well as alcohol.