Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do You Still Use Plastic Containers?

Most of you reading this will have a hard time remembering back to a time where we didn't use plastic in food storage; whether it's plastic storage bags, food containers or plastic wrap.  So, when we look at being healthy, we don't just look at what we are putting into our bodies, but we need to also look at how our food is stored.  Starting in the late 1800's, scientists had started trying to chemically produce what we now know as plastic.  The problem with this, obviously, is that it is chemically produced and chemicals can leach into the food that you put into the plastic containers.  Interestingly, back in 1957, at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, Monsanto made the first ever all plastic house in Tomorrowland, showcasing the products of the future.  Many of you will recognize  Monsanto as one of the leading producers of GMOs-genetically modified organisms, which we know to be very dangerous when consumed by humans or animals.  If you would like more info on GMOs, I wrote a blog post in July of 2012. 

What exactly is the danger is plastic?  Phthalates and BPA.  First, phthalates are chemicals used in plastics to make them soft and pliable- also known as plasticizers.  Besides being used in plastic products they are also widely used in beauty products, insect repellants, lubricants, pesticides, wood finishes, and solvents.  Studies have linked phthalates to abnormal male sexual development, male infertility, premature breast development, miscarriage, asthma, premature birth and cancer.  Since phthalates are not chemically bound to the polymer they can easily leach or migrate out.  There are many different phthalates:

Common phthalates:
Di-2-ethylhxyl phthalates (DEHP)
Benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP)
Di-isononyl phthalate (DINP)
Dicylohexyl phthalate (DCHP)
Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
Di-n-octyl phthalate (DOP)
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

BPA, bisphenol-A, is the chemical name for a building block of "polycarbonate" plastics.  It has been in commercial use since 1957 and is used because it makes certain plastics "tough", such as baby bottles, sports water bottles, the 5 gallon water bottles, sports equipment, DVDs and CDs.  BPA can also be used to line the inside of canned goods, which is especially dangerous in canned tomatoes since the acid from the tomatoes can cause the BPA to leach even more into the food.  BPA is a xenoestrogen- it mimics the effects of estrogen in the human body, which can lead to many damaging side effects.  The use of BPA has been linked to:  obesity, many types of cancers, reproductive problems, and early puberty in girls. 

Whew!!  Don't be overwhelmed!!  There are things we can do.  If you do need to use plastic, such as for baby bottles or water bottles, look for ones that say BPA free.  Now, I wouldn't heat in those plastic items, because research is still out on the substitutes for BPA and what happens when hot items are in them.  The best thing you could do is to start slowly replacing your cabinet filled with plastic food storage containers with glass ones.  Keep a few of the BPA free ones if you are going to put cold items in them, but for leftovers, you need to use glass.  I rarely use a plastic container, except for a couple of times when I've made cookies for my sons to take to school for a class- didn't want the possible danger of breaking glass!!  Plastic containers have numbers on the bottom.  If you have any with a number 7, throw them out!!  Those definitely contain BPA.  I still caution the use any plastic though because of the phthalates in them, also.  Numbers 3 and 6 are undetermined as far as danger- they contain a chemical similar to BPA.  I say better safe than sorry!!!  Number 1 is for most disposable water bottles- never refill them!  If you have an Earthfare or Whole foods near you, you can buy plastic sandwich bags, quart size and gallon size that are BPA and phthalate free- and they cost about the same as regular.  If you don't have one of those stores near you, order from  Very reasonably priced!  Remember:  never heat food in plastic, such as in the microwave, or put hot leftovers in any plastic containers. 

As I said before, try not to be overwhelmed, but take this information and google it to get even more informed about how you can make your home healthier for your family.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Now is the Time!!!!

I am so excited that spring is finally here in Chattanooga, TN!!!!  It was a long winter!  I almost made it through without illness until the middle of March.  It had been 9 years since I had been really sick, besides a little cold or something, and I attribute that to exercise and eating healthy.  Sometimes the winter can get us down because we are stuck inside more and not out being active.  Unhealthy eating can start to creep back in and take over as habits.  But, now is the time to get back on track.  Especially, since the kids will be out of school soon and you will have a little extra time to devote to getting those good habits back in place.  So, how do you do this?

1.  Start by cleaning out the pantry.  If it makes you feel better, do it right before it's time to do the grocery shopping for the week.  When I started my family on a chemical free way of eating I had just grocery shopped a couple of days before and threw away much of what I had just bought!!  Read all of the labels and get rid of anything with artificial preservatives, coloring, flavors, hfcs, etc. 

2.  Clean out your refrigerator.  Items such as: salad dressings (tons of chemicals), condiments (hfcs in some ketchups, dyes in pickles and relish, etc.), dairy products made from milk that has hormones and antibiotics, deli meats with nitrites and nitrates (cancer causing chemicals used for curing deli meats, sausage, bacon, etc.), and the list goes on!  Thankfully, the availability of items without all of these dangerous chemicals are becoming more and more readily available.  Look for food coops in your area such as Azure Standard or others that offer the ability to buy healthy foods with a group of people to make delivery cheaper.

3. Make meal plans and grocery lists for the week.  If you aren't caught off guard at meal time trying to figure out something to eat you are more likely to eat healthy.  Build your meals around lean meats that don't have hormones and antibiotics in them, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy grains.

4.  Spend a little time on the internet researching some new recipes.  If you were to come to my home for dinner you would think we eat just like anyone else.  We have pasta, tacos, and pizza some nights.  But, I make chemical free, healthy versions of all of these and you can't tell a difference, except for the fact that it tastes fresher!!!  Eating healthy doesn't have to look like all you eat is sprouts.  We have healthy balanced meals.

5.  Get your family involved!!  Share the information from my past posts on this blog to let your family know the dangers of the chemicals in the foods they are eating.  I have teenage boys who eat a ton and they love the healthy food we eat because they have realized they feel so much better when they eat healthy.

6.  Use this time to get back into a fitness routine.  Get the whole family active.  I don't necessarily push sports on my kids, unless it's one they choose to do, but I do push working out.  Because, in the end, I want them to have a lifestyle where it's just the norm to exercise at least 3-4 days a week.  Sometimes, sports players, when they are done playing and retire, they end up in a sedentary lifestyle.  I want to instill into my kids the habit of exercising their whole life.  Start by riding bikes, taking hikes on trails, or shooting hoops in the driveway.  Make it fun!  But, get from in front of the television or computer!!!

These are just a few things you can do to get back into your healthy lifestyle.  Sometimes we hit a slump, but you have to get back to it.  I couldn't exercise for a couple of weeks due to my illness and that about killed me!!!  I love the way working out makes me feel and I want to be able to do for decades to come!  As always, if I can help in any way or answer any questions, please let me know!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Year's Resolutions????

Well, the end of January is approaching- how are you doing with your New Year's resolution?  That's what this post is about:  those darn New Year's resolutions!!!  Exercise and eating healthy are a year round commitment- not just one for the first 6 weeks of the new year.

I can't stress enough that you have to be very intentional with exercising and healthy eating.  Treat exercising like you would an important appointment- put it on your calendar or on your to do list; set an alarm for it on your iphone and treat it as you would a meeting with a colleague.  Do you want to stop the yo-yoing of "on again, off again exercising"?  Most things take 21 days to become habits.  Exercising takes 6 months to become a habit.  That means you have to be so conscientious about making it happen, especially the first 6 months.

Same goes for eating healthy.  Make a meal plan for the week and get your prep work done ahead of time.  We eat the most unhealthy when we don't have a plan come dinner time.  We do fast food or prepackaged junk when we don't have time to prepare a healthy meal.  Keep veggies pre-chopped in your refrigerator, ready to go, so that you don't reach for something unhealthy instead.  Which brings me to the next point:  Don't keep unhealthy food in your house!!  If it's not there, you can't eat it!  We have to have a plan if we want to succeed- it doesn't happen on it's own.

Focus on the benefits of both exercising and eating healthy.  Doing both of those makes us feel healthier!  We have more energy and less sickness.  We reduce our risk of a multitude of diseases.  Our mood and our sleep are better.  The benefits are countless.  Focus on that- don't focus on the food you think you're missing out on or the time sitting in front of a tv or computer that you're losing.  Health has long lasting benefits, not just immediate ones!

So, get rid of the New Years resolutions and make it a new lifestyle instead!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's That Time of Year!!!!

WOW!!! That's all I can say- can't believe that it's been over two months since my last post!  Life has gotten busy, and there was travel involved.  But, through it all, my workouts and healthy eating did not suffer!  I hope I can encourage you, especially right before Christmas, to keep on keeping on with your workouts and your healthy eating.

You know what time of year it is, right?  Time to make those New Year's Resolutions?  Let yours not be the type that starts off with gusto and then about 6-8 weeks into it, you forget it.  Go back over some of my old posts about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise.  The New Year's Resolution to get healthy is one that will benefit you for the rest of your life!!  And, everyday you will feel the effects of exercising and eating right.  Your energy level will be higher, you will feel great, and you may even get to stop taking some of your medications because your body doesn't need them anymore!!  Now, that's a New Year's Resolution you can live with and fight for!

So, there's no time like the present to start- no need to even wait until January 1st.  I love the cartoon that I saw on Facebook that said: "You either find time to workout for an hour a day, or you will be dead 24 hours a day."  So true.  If you have a time crunch, try doing several small workouts a day.  Start with a ten minute workout in the morning, right when you wake up, then ten minutes at lunch time and then again, ten minutes in the evening.  You can do something like:  20 push ups, 20 burpees and 20 squats for each of those ten minute workouts.  Or, get up a little extra early and go to the health club.  Take up a new sport or go for a run.  Running in the winter time can be very invigorating!!  But, if the roads or trails are icy, don't do it- safety first!  For Christmas, treat yourself to a new pair of workout shoes, or new exercise clothes.  And, without a doubt, start a food and exercise journal!  That alone can help keep you accountable.  Find a workout partner- that helps with accountability, also.

Be determined to make 2013 the year that you get healthy, or if you're already doing that, make it the year that you continue to stay healthy.  Or, give yourself a challenge, such as running a half marathon, or doing a triathlon.  Make sure to mix up your exercise so you don't get stagnant or hit a plateau.

As always, if I can be of help, let me know!  Merry Christmas and may we all remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Great Ways to Slash Calories at Mealtime!!!!

Losing weight can be as simple as a mathematical equation (unless you have thyroid or hormone issues!!).  One pound is equal to 3500 calories.  If you want to lose 1 pound a week you need to slash 500 calories a day through eating less and exercising more and then at the end of 7 days you will have a 3500 calorie deficit.  Sometimes, something as simple as eliminating soft drinks will slash several hundred calories a day all by itself!  The best way to go about this is to start keeping a food journal so you can see how many calories you are taking in each day.  Read your food labels and measure everything.  You can start eating 200 calories less per day and exercising enough to burn 300 calories which equals a 500 calorie deficit.  You don't want to slash your calories to less than 1200 a day or that could have a negative effect on your weight loss, kicking your body into what's called starvation mode.  In this mode, your body will think it's not going to get enough calories, so everything you eat will get stored as fat, and when you exercise you could start burning muscle instead of fat.  Calories burned during exercise can be a little harder to figure out since how hard you are exercising plays a part in how many calories you are burning.  There are some websites online that can help you to figure that out.

Now, what are some good ways to eat less calories at mealtimes?  Soup!  The clear broth kind, not the creamy kind.  Most restaurants will use cream to thicken their soups and that adds a ton of calories and fat!   A cup of soup eaten before a meal will cause you to eat less of your dinner.  Aim for soups that are filled with vegetables and lean protein.  There have been studies done that show people who eat soup eat less calories per day overall.  Another good way to eat less is to start with some raw veggies or a salad with a little vinegar and oil drizzled on it.  You will fill up on veggies, which provide a huge source of fiber, and will eat less by time you get to your dinner.  Also, make sure you are not eating from a huge plate.  We are very psychological when it comes to what we are looking at in front of us.  If we have a huge plate, we want to fill it up, as opposed to using a smaller plate.  Same thing goes with the idea of having to "clean your plate".  It's okay to not finish everything on your plate.  If you feel guilty about that, train yourself to take less.  Eating 5-6 small meals a day as opposed to 3 large meals is a great way to reduce calories, also.  Eating several times a day is a great way to improve your metabolism, also.  Our metabolism is like a fire:  you have to feed it or it dies.  When we eat, our metabolism speeds up for a couple of hours, so if we are eating 6 times a day our metabolism is speeding up more often than if we only ate 3 times a day.  These meals must be smaller though than your normal three times a day eating.  Aim for about 200-250 calories per smaller meal.  Also, eat a combination of lean protein, complex carbohydrates (the kind that isn't white- no white sugar, pasta, rice, etc.) and healthy fats.

We have a choice as to what we put into our bodies each day.  You can decide if the calories you put in are nutrient dense (the most nutrition for the least amount of calories) or filled with artificial junk and unhealthy sugars.  You will feel more satisfied with less calories eating a healthier diet than eating junk food.  Start eating healthier now- don't wait for the beginning of a new week, or the New Year- start now!!!  Especially, with flu season upon us- your body will be able to fight off viruses better if it's filled with healthy nutrients than if you are filling it with junk!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Do You Have a Goal?

So, do you have a goal in mind with this health and nutrition stuff?  Maybe you want to start eating healthier, or you want to start exercising more.  Sometimes it's hard to get started though!!  That's where a goal comes in handy.  You can write your goal on a piece of paper and post it on your refrigerator, at your desk or on your bathroom mirror to help remind yourself of why you're doing all of this.

As far as fitness is concerned, there are many ways to go about setting a goal.  There are some great programs out there like the C25K- the couch to 5K.  It is a program that slowly gets you running with goals that are attainable and then you work your way up to running a 5K race.  Or, if you know of a 5K (which is 3.1 miles) that is in your area, you can use that as your goal.  Put it on your calendar in permanent marker, so you can't erase it, and start training!!!

Or, maybe you have a reunion coming up that you want to be ready for.  Or a wedding, or your anniversary.  Sometimes, psychologically speaking, when we have a reason or a goal it helps us to get started.  Maybe, you've just received your cholesterol level results or some other test result that needs to be improved.  Use that as the ammunition you need to get yourself moving.  It's really easy to stay on that couch or in bed a little bit longer in the morning instead of going to workout.  How bad do you want it?  And, what is "it"?  I'll tell you what "it" is.  It's feeling better.  It's being healthier.  It's have a healthy heart.  It's having a less stressful feeling to the day.  It's reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.  It's looking better.  "It's"  a lot of things.  When we feel in a rut with our eating and fitness, it's sometimes really hard to take the first step.  Find someone to hold you accountable or find a friend, or your spouse, to take this journey with you.  And, remember, it's not a short term thing; this is a forever lifestyle change that will increase the longevity of your life.

And, along with setting goals, you can also reward yourself.  I think in America, we have gotten in the habit of rewarding ourselves with food.  Don't do that!!!  Reward yourself with a new pair of workout shoes, or a new pair of jeans when your old ones get too big, etc.  Let's get away from rewarding ourselves with food- we are not dogs!!!

How can I help you reach your goals?  Do you need someone to hold you accountable?  I can be that person- just let me know!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Busy Time of Year!!!

Wow!!  End of August is quickly approaching.  School is back in session for most people, and life is busy!!  So, how do you make time to eat healthy and still exercise?  You have to be very purposeful about it.  You need to put it on your schedule and make time for it.  Prepare food ahead of time, knowing that you will be getting home late and will be tempted to stop at a drive thru.  I have three boys all in different sports.  Some nights we aren't getting home until 8:30pm.  But, I either have dinner in the crock pot, or I have it in the fridge waiting to go in the oven.  I have fruits and vegetable cleaned and cut up, so that we are reaching for healthy snacks instead of unhealthy ones.  I look at my calendar for the week, I meal plan, and then I prepare the food the night before if it's going to be busy the next day.  Putting into practice all of these things will keep you on a healthy track.  It's very easy to get so busy, that we put our health aside.  Eating a clean, chemical free diet can have it's challenges, but, it doesn't have to.  It just takes a little pre-planning on your part.

As far as exercise goes, you need to find a time in your schedule 3-5 days a week, to get in at least an hour.  There was a cartoon I put on my facebook that was of a doctor talking to an unhealthy patient and the doctor said, "do you want to find an hour a day to work out or be dead 24 hours a day?"  That's probably the number one excuse I hear from people- I'm too busy and I have no time.  I guarantee we all have at least an hour.  It just means that we will have to miss something else, like television, computer time, video games, etc.  Your health is important and you need to treat it as such.  We all need reminding of this from time to time, as our days get busier and busier.  Go to the doctor and have them run some blood work to check your cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.  Sometimes seeing what our numbers are will give us a good kick in the pants.  I've always encouraged people to not put too much stock in weighing yourself everyday, but, instead seeing how your clothes are fitting.  When I was losing my baby weight from all my pregnancies, I would have what I called my "dream" clothes.  I would keep a pair of pants in my closet in the size that I wanted to be and I would try them on every 4-6 weeks.  That was a better judge of how my body was changing than the scale was.  Put encouraging messages on your refrigerator or use the app My Fitness Pal.  You can enter the number of calories burned during exercise as well as the food you are eating.  We have to be proactive about our health and keep ourselves encouraged to "keep on, keeping on".  Because, this is not just a fad we are going through or a "diet" that we are on.  This is a lifestyle change- for life!!!

If I can give you any encouragement please let me know.  You don't have to do this alone- you can have help!!  As always, let me know if you have any questions!!