Tips

Put Down Your Scale And Pick Up Your Fork

Today I was scrolling through Instagram under the tag #weightloss. Once a month or so I look through some posts linked to popular tags to see what’s going on in the minds of people in the health and fitness community. Today I stumbled across an Instagram user who was asking for weight loss help. She was restricting herself to 1300 calories a day and noticed the scale had stopped moving. I shouldn’t be surprised that people are still using calorie restriction to lose weight, but I am.

Weight loss is so much more than energy out > energy in.

For years we have been told that to lose weight we need to go on a diet that decreases our calorie intake to less than the calories we burn. Guess what, we have gotten fatter. If eating fewer calories worked for everybody, by now we should have a skinny population. I’m not saying nobody has lost weight on a restricted diet, but I do not think it is a healthy or safe option.

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Your Body Is Not Stupid

Our bodies job is to stay alive. It will do everything it possibly can to keep working. This is why we see people live through unthinkable circumstances and long-term illness. When you restrict your calories to less than your body needs, you may initially lose weight. Over time your body starts to think you aren’t going to feed it and it adjusts to keep you alive. It slows down energy systems and other biological processes to conserve enough energy to keep functioning. When this happens, the weight stops coming off, and many people will further restrict their diet, this either goes on until the person is severely ill or, in most cases, gives up and returns to their previous lifestyle. This leads to years of yo-yo dieting further confusing the bodies processes and sometimes causing long-term damage. This is the same for people who eat way more than their body needs, the safest response is for the body to store it as fat. Your body can’t let all that free sugar hang out in your blood stream, it must do something about it.

Put Down The Scale

Guess what, that number is JUST a number. There are so many variables that go into what you weigh. If you can’t look at yourself objectively, the scale will work against you. There is nothing wrong with using it as a tool of measurement, but it should never be used as a tool of destruction. Your motivation needs to come from something deeper than wanting to look a certain way. It needs to come from something inside you saying, “I want to be better.”

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Pick Up Your Fork

I want you to pick up your fork and eat your way to better health. I want you to choose whole foods that leave you feeling satisfied at the end of the meal. I want you to include a healthy source of fat to help curb cravings. I want you to eat lots and lots of vegetables so that your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly. Weight loss is a side effect of good health, it isn’t the cause. Look at yourself in the mirror and accept where you’re at, and then strive to be better. Love yourself but never give up on improving. Fix your health, and the weight will come off on its own. You can read what I recommend you eat here.

Individualized Nutrition

As human beings, we are all unique. Not one is like the other. Why then do we constantly try to copy one another? Our DNA is unlike any other person on earth, but we tend to treat ourselves like we are all the same. We assume that if it works for one person, it should work for everyone. Some general principals work for everyone but to achieve optimal health, you need to find what works for you. Your nutrition plan shouldn’t look exactly like anyone else’s. The foods your body loves/hates are not going to be the same. I am gluten free, that doesn’t mean you should all be gluten-free. I have a friend who can’t eat tomatoes, I didn’t stop eating them just because she did. Therefore, I find out as much as possible about my clients. I want to know how you feel after you eat. I want to know how you sleep at night. I want to know how stressful your job is. These things change the nutrition plan I prescribe. Don’t put yourself in a box, or on a diet, just because other people do.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

 

 

How To Stuff The Turkey Without Stuffing Yourself

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! It has all the great food and visiting that Christmas has, but with less fuss and no presents (aka less stress). Before the weekend is upon us I want to help you strategize your Thanksgiving nutrition. I’m not going to tell you NOT to eat something, we all need a piece of pie. I just want to give you some tips that will keep you feeling well all weekend long! They are as follows:

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  1. Hog the vegetables. I mean it. March up to the Thanksgiving dinner buffet and fill at least half your plate with a variety of vegetables! Your family doesn’t cook anything but steamed carrots? Start a new tradition and bring a big salad, steamed broccoli or a delicious butternut squash.
  2. Have a healthy serving of Turkey. We don’t get turkey very often, which I find weird because it really is one of the most delicious birds. For some reason we are convinced they can only be eaten on holidays, but I digress. Turkey is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and niacin. Load up!
  3. Keep the grains to 1/2 a cup or less. Half a bun or half a cup of stuffing is plenty! Cutting back on the bread will save you room for dessert and prevent you from feeling “stuffed”
  4. Still have room on your plate? Choose something colorful! There are so many delicious dishes you can make with a variety of in season produce. I’ve linked to a few recipes below:
    1. Bacon wrapped squash,
    2. lentil and sweet potato casserole,
    3. zucchini pizza
  5. Eat mindfully. Take your time. Enjoy the food.

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Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and friends. That can be hard to do if your feeling overstuffed the whole time. If your looking for a delicious and nutritious pumpkin pie recipe, you can find my recipe here.

Eat your veggies and your pie!

Charity

Back To School Health Reset: Part 4

Monitor Your Caffeine Consumption

With it being a very busy time of the year, many people will increase their caffeine consumption. The average amount of coffee consumed per day is 3.6 cups per person I personally know people who drink a lot more! Some people are very sensitive to caffeine, some people can barely tell they have had any. Caffeine can be a very useful drug, but like many drugs it is often abused.

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Tired? Have a cup of coffee. Afternoon slump? Have a cup of coffee. Pulling an all nighter to study? Have a cup of coffee. Often we use caffeine to mask the symptoms of exhaustion. It seems like an easy solution to a very common problem. What you need to be aware of is that masking symptoms is not a solution. If you constantly increase your caffeine consumption to mask your exhaustion, your exhaustion will get worse. Instead, try to figure out what the cause of your symptoms are. You may need to plan an earlier bed time to get more hours in. Maybe you have stress in your life that is disrupting your hormones causing you to feel tired. Take a look at your environment and ask yourself what you can change that will help you feel more energized. Often there are factors we can’t control, let those go and focus on the ones you can! There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of coffee, just ask yourself if your using it as a crutch. Here are a few ideas for decreasing your caffeine consumption:

Slowly replace with decaf: this is a great solution for those who enjoy the taste of coffee. If your someone that adds in more sugar than coffee, you don’t like coffee. If you have 2-3 cups a day, try replacing one of those cups with decaf for a week or two. When you feel ready try replacing another cup with decaf.

Replace with herbal teas: With stores like Davids Tea becoming so popular, it is easier than ever to find a tea flavor you enjoy. Experiment with new flavors and you may surprise yourself with what you find.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Back To School Health Reset: Part 1

This is the first part of a five part series. I find September much like January, we often set new goals for the upcoming months. Summer can be unpredictable with the many events that come along, along with these events comes late nights, extra snacks and less time for work outs. For the next 5 days I am going to release a short post with a tip for helping you reset your health. Follow these 5 steps over the next week and you will be on your way to a healthier you!

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CLEAN OUT YOUR CUPBOARDS

Not just your cupboards, your fridge too. Take an hour or two to go through everything in your kitchen, read through the ingredient list and assess whether each item is contributing to your health. You don’t have to throw everything out, but try to have 90% of the items in your kitchen be whole foods. Replace what you get rid of with a variety lean meats, delicious fruit and colorful vegetables. The more color the better! You will notice a very satisfying feeling wash over you when you open your fridge and see a whole bunch of nutrient dense food.

Not sure what to cook with your new whole food filled fridge? Here are a few of my favourite recipe bloggers:

http://www.paleomg.com

https://againstallgrain.com/

http://ohsheglows.com/

If you would like to be notified of future blog posts, please follow my blog by entering your email in the box to the right.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

The Summer Bod Fraud

A dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

-Colin Powell

You’ve seen the ads. Perfectly airbrushed women using some fancy new piece of equipment telling you that you can be bikini ready too. Their skin is glistening, and their hair and makeup have stayed perfectly intact. All you have to do is buy the product, follow the diet or eat the pill, and you can look like them too. It would be nice if it were that easy, wouldn’t it? The summer bod fraud is nothing new. It goes something like this: It’s okay to overindulge and skip your workouts when no on has to see you in a bathing suit, but as soon as summer comes around you had better be ashamed if you don’t lose those extra pounds.

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Come January the ads become more frequent. They know you’ve just eaten your way through two major holidays and New Years. They know you’re feeling guilty and will be more likely to drop a couple hundred on the magic answer. So you try it. You buy the product, and a few days/weeks in it’s not working, and so you sit down on the couch with a bag of Doritos for a pity session. This cycle continues right up until summer is over and you can breathe a sigh of relief because now you have another 9 months to get beach ready. You see where this is going.

Change your mindset 

So how do you break this cycle? You need to start with mindset. If your whole focus is about looking better, you will never be happy. We are all genetically unique individuals. Each of us will look different at optimum health. Some of us will have 15 percent body fat, while some of us always carry a little more. Some of us can build up leg muscle like it’s our job, while some of us can squat 300lbs with no muscle to show for it. You are unique, and your body will never look exactly like you want it to. Instead of focusing on how you look, focus on your health. Now you’re thinking, “wait, aren’t those the same thing?” Nope. Despite popular belief, there are many people in the world who appear healthy, but are sick. There are a lot of people in the world who don’t look like bikini models who are very healthy. Instead of focusing on how you look, why not focus on how you feel? I want you to ask yourself these questions:

Do you feel well enough to give your family and friends your best?

Can you safely squat down to play with your children?

Are you strong enough to help a neighbour move?

If you had to carry your kids out of a burning house, could you?

Your answers to these questions will matter more in the long run than a six-pack of abs ever could. Your answer to these questions will matter more than all the looks you could ever get in a bathing suit. You have been given a life to live, so why not live it at your best? Here are a few simple tips to help you get started:

  1. Get 6-8 hours of sleep every night
  2. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
  3. Exercise every day for at least 20 minutes

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There’s no secret formula or pill that can give you your best health. I am not saying its wrong to want to look good, but if you change your focus you will be surprised in your physical and mental improvements. Your lifestyle will determine your quality of life. Start making changes one step at a time, and live a healthy life. Stop training for summer, and start training for life!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

The Big FAT Lie!

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”  

~Thomas Edison

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Are you afraid of fat?

For the past 50 years, we have been told to avoid eating fat because it would cause weight gain, heart attacks, and a variety of other health issues. By the early 80’s, obesity was well on its way to becoming an epidemic, despite the fact that 10 years before that, the recommendation of a low-fat diet had been implemented. Low-fat products lined the shelf, and foods such as animal meat, full-fat dairy, and eggs were avoided like the plague. With this low-fat diet came the rise of an overweight and very sick population. More recently, information has been released from many professionals claiming that our dietary recommendations were more about whose pockets were getting lined rather than who had the most education and knowledge about nutrition. Today, I want to debunk the myth that fat is bad for you, and is in fact, a necessity to the human body.

What is Fat?

Along with Carbohydrates and Protein, Fats are one of the main macronutrients essential to the human body. There are three types of fats commonly referred to in nutrition: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fat.

During the digestion process, fat is broken down into fatty acids.  Fatty acids are chains made up of carbon atoms. These chains can be short, medium, or long depending on the number of links. Our bodies need all three kinds of fatty acids to remain healthy. Our body also needs fatty acids that are both saturated and unsaturated.

Up until recently, we were cautioned to avoid saturated and trans fat, while limiting our intake of unsaturated fat to the bare minimum our bodies needed to survive. Oddly enough, rather than getting thinner, the population only got fatter.

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You NEED Saturated Fat!

In recent years, many studies have been reviewed showing no connection between saturated fat and heart disease. There appears to be a stronger link between sugar consumption and heart disease, but further research is needed before this will become an accepted claim.  When looking at the function of saturated fat in the human body it is obvious that we need it! Below are some of the reasons we need saturated fat.

  1. The brain is made up of mostly fat; a lot of it is saturated. Getting the proper amount of saturated fat contributes to brain function.
  2. White blood cells need saturated fat to complete their function of recognizing foreign invaders. 
  3. Saturated fat is needed as insulation for your nervous system. Without it, you are more susceptible to stress.
  4. Certain saturated fats function as signalling messengers. If you do not consume enough saturated fat, the communication between your cells will not function properly.

These are only a few of the reasons saturated fats are necessary in your daily diet. Hopefully, future research will help determine how much is really needed and will set us on a healthier path with new dietary guidelines. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as milk, meat, and eggs.

Is this me giving you permission to stuff your face with butter and ice cream? NO! balance is key.

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Unsaturated Fat is the new hero!

Even the American Heart Association agrees that unsaturated fat is beneficial in preventing heart disease. It has been shown to lower your LDL cholesterol levels, which in turn lowers your risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, and avocado.

There are two essential fatty acids that can only be ingested through eating unsaturated fats, specifically polyunsaturated fats. The two essential fatty acids are omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. Both have unique and necessary functions in the body. I have listed a few below.

Omega 3

  • Reduces triglycerides in the blood
  • Reduces buildup of plaque in your arteries
  • Can slightly lower blood pressure
  • Improves brain health

Omega 6

  • Helps reduce blood sugar levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties

In the North American diet, omega 6 is easily accessible. Omega 6 is found in many packaged items, as well as nuts, and the oils extracted from them. Omega 6 does not need to be supplemented as often as omega 3. It is not as easy to get the proper amount of omega 3, as it is omega 6. Consciously adding foods to your diet that contain omega 3 can help ensure the proper balance.  The following link lists different foods, and the levels of omega 3 contained in them. http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Fat/Food-Sources-of-Omega-3-Fats.aspx

What about Trans Fat?

Trans fatty acids are formed through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogen is added to oil to turn the fat molecules into solid fat. Trans fats are mainly found in packaged food items such as baked goods, margarines, snack foods, and deep-fried food. Many childrens’ snacks contain high amounts of trans fat. Trans fat has many negative side effects! It causes LDL (bad) cholesterol to rise, and HDL (good) cholesterol to lower. It has also been linked to an increase in type 2 diabetes. Avoiding trans fat as much as possible is widely suggested by medical professionals.

Natural is best

When it comes down to it, natural food sources are still the best. When choosing your fats, try to pick a majority of them from natural sources. Meat, eggs, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish are all sources of dietary fat. In addition, pay attention to the fact that you need both saturated and unsaturated fat. Cycling different fats into each meal can help you maintain a good balance.  As to how much you should eat, I believe balance is key. Making sure that each meal includes a small portion of fat along with larger portions of protein, vegetables, and starch will ensure you get enough of each macronutrient. Many nutritionists suggest the size of your thumb is a good tool for measuring the amount of fat on your plate.

Eat your veggies!

Charity

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26068959

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26268692

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648

Carbohydrates: Friend or Foe?

 “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

-Hippocrates

With low-carb diets being sold on the market, carbohydrates have been given a bad name. You probably have a friend who has tried one of the many low-carb diets offered, or perhaps you have tried it yourself. Most people are pleasantly surprised when at first their weight seems to be melting off their body, but when the diet is over and they return to their normal eating, they gain back the same, or more, weight. You may have also heard of high-carb diets. Many athletes consume high amounts of carbs, and they look great. So why can’t you? This blog post will hopefully give you a better understanding of how carbohydrates work in the body, and what lifestyle changes pertaining to them may be best for you.

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Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients essential to the growth and maintenance of the human body. Carbohydrates come to us mainly from plant-based sources such as vegetables, fruit, grain, etc. This also includes sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, and sugar. Quite often when we hear the word carbs, we think of bread, fries, sweets, and many other high sugar foods. We don’t often consider that most foods are in fact carbohydrates, just in different forms. Carbohydrates, along with fat and protein, are an important part of a healthy diet, and when used properly can be of huge benefit.

When carbohydrates enter the body they are being broken down into glucose. The glucose is then absorbed into the small intestine, and then into the blood stream. The blood stream carries it to the liver, or to the muscle where it is stored as glycogen. Glycogen is a crucial part of ATP synthesis (energy production). When you exercise, especially at high intensities, glycogen is easily accessible to produce ATP.

If you do not eat enough carbohydrates you will not have enough stored energy, and as a result, you will feel like you hit a wall, and will have to slow down sooner than you would like. If you eat too many carbohydrates you will have a spike in blood sugar, and then a very noticeable drop. This is when the pancreas has been notified to release insulin to keep your blood sugar from getting too high. When insulin is released it causes the body to store the sugar as fat. This is the safest way for the body to deal with the excess sugar. This is why protein paired with carbohydrates is ideal. Protein does not have the same affect on blood sugar as carbohydrates, as it actually helps stabilize it. When consumed with carbohydrates, protein can help slow down the digestion of the sugar, causing its release to be slowed down into the blood stream.

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Glycemic Index

Herein lies the catch. Not all carbohydrates affect blood sugar at the same level. A donut is going to cause a bigger spike in blood sugar than an apple. Rice is going to cause a bigger spike than broccoli. This can be quantified using the glycemic index. The glycemic index assigns a number to each food based on its affect on blood sugar. The lower the number, the less effect it has. The higher the number, the larger the increase in blood sugar. You can lower a food’s glycemic index by pairing it with a lower glycemic food, or adding protein and fat to your meal. Lower glycemic foods are a lot higher in fibre, which is the main reason they do not affect blood sugar as significantly. Fibre slows down digestion, meaning that sugar is gradually released rather than dumped very quickly into the blood stream. This is why eating vegetables and whole grains are so important, as they are high in fibre. Athletes can get away with eating higher glycemic index foods because they use up so much energy during training. If they don’t keep the energy demands met, they notice a drop in performance. Most of us don’t need high amounts of carbohydrates, we need a good balance between all three macronutrients.

So what about low-carb diets?

There are dozens of popular low-carb diets on the market. They claim that the best way to lose weight is to cut out carbohydrates, and increase your fat and protein intake. Over time, a low ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein forces the body to find a new energy source. The body starts to use fat, which is known as ketogenesis. This is when many people see weight loss. The issue is that for most people this diet is not sustainable. Many people will commit 2-3 months of cutting out carbohydrates, and notice positive changes. When they return to their regular diet, and begin adding carbohydrates back in, their body does not know how to respond to all the sugar being dumped into the blood stream. It has adapted to using fat as fuel, so instead of using the sugar as immediate energy, the body stores it as more fat. This is when people notice the weight they lost being rapidly put back on. Often, they will go a few months, and then return to the low carb diet, and continue that cycle. This is known as yo-yo dieting, which can be detrimental to the metabolism, eventually leading to minimal weight loss no matter what diet they try. That being said, I have known people who chose to remain low-carb all the time, and are very happy with the results. As of yet, there have not been enough studies conducted to determine what long-term effects this type of lifestyle can have.

So what should I eat?

When choosing carbohydrates, you want to choose slower digesting carbs more often, which are lower on the glycemic index. A few examples include:

Vegetables

Whole Grain (considered a medium glycemic index)

Sweet Potatoes

Legumes

Basmati rice (considered medium glycemic index)

Popcorn

Some you want to use sparingly:

White bread

Candies/Sweets

Potato chips

Fruit Juice

Pop

When you do indulge in a food that is higher on the glycemic index try to balance it out with protein and fat. This will help balance out the blood sugar so that less is stored as fat.

Tip:When looking at your dinner plate try to have half of it filled with veggies, a quarter with protein, and another quarter with a starchier carbohydrate (rice, potato, noodles etc.). Don’t forget your fat, whether its some oil added to the veggies or a couple almonds on the side, they are just as necessary as the other nutrients.

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Keep eating your veggies!

Charity

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