We all know that during this Holiday time of year, choices of food and lifestyle changes add unwanted pounds. By changing your approach, it will give you the tools to keep those pounds away. Having a real connection between nutrition and exercise will keep you energized and healthy. Step Number 1: Create a 12 week calendar – either an old- fashioned paper kind or on your phone. Fill in all your trips, parties, and children’s events. Write down your weight and a goal for each week. Hint: Having a goal for each week creates accountability. Change the goals up between exercise and food. Step Number 2: For each week, fill in 6 days of workouts. These workouts need to be structured with a goal. Each workout is 45-60 minutes long and can be adapted to outdoor or indoors, depending on the weather. Hint: You have a bike ride planned but it is raining. Do not cancel. Go to the gym and take a spin class or hop on the spin bike and turn your music up! Step Number 3: For each week, plan your meals around your events. By knowing when your parties are, you can cut out alcohol the day before and after, workout harder and eat less. Try to stay with organic, unprocessed foods. Keep white anything away from the cupboards!!! Hint: Print out recipes and take to the store so that you are only buying what you need, not the newest Oreo cookie flavor! Step Number 4: Weigh yourself each week at the same time, same day as the week before. You pick the day and time but remain steady in your pursuit to track your weight. This will allow you to manipulate the next week’s workouts and meals. Hint: Weighing in the morning after a workout and before you eat is always the best time! Step Number 5: The 12 week calendar will take you from November to January, the most calorie-laden time of year. I love to write in each day how I feel, what I need to do the next day. It is fun to see in February if my goals were met. Hint: I use Smiley Faces on each day I did what I said I would do!!!! If you really want a great shape and healthy body to carry you from season to season, you need to have the courage to change and adapt. Take the time to treat yourself and your family well and don’t forget to enjoy this Holiday Season! KATHLEEN RAFAAT - LJSC Sports Nutrition Counselor
Imagine if pizza was just pizza, and not a stress reducer. Guess what? It’s not. It’s just pizza.
Now, imagine if that ice cream, those cookies, the bag of potato chips and those burgers with fries were just, well, food, and not mood enhancers? Guess what? They’re not. They’re just food.
The trouble is that food is too often way more than simply healthy nutrition. Food is far too often something we nosh on to bring back that lovin’ feeling, and to overcome negative emotions such as sadness, ennui, anger or tension.
So do you know where your hunger is? Here’s my handy “Gastronomic Positioning System” to help you locate your hunger above or below your neck.
✓ Head hunger hits you out of the blue, when you aren’t even be thinking about food. One minute you are focused on writing an article and the next minute, whoosh, it’s “FEEEEED ME NOWWWWW!” time.
✓ Are you craving only one type of food? Think that only that chocolate almond candy bar will satisfy you? That’s hunger that’s coming from above the neck, especially when that “not-really-hunger” is urgent and tugging at you to eat NOWWWW!
✓Your GPS is pointing brainward when that “not-really-hunger” is tied to a situation you erroneously believe is “upsetting” you, “making” you sad, “causing” you to feel angry. (Remember, the link is what you think.).
✓Really believe that someone else is shoving that cupcake into your mouth? Psychotically believe the plate of fries is calling your name? Find that the food on the buffet line somehow automatically winds up in your mouth and you have no recollection of how it got there? That’s above the neck, emotional hunger. By the way, the fries aren’t calling your name. Fries don’t talk. Really. They don’t.
✓Got that full feeling but keep eating anyway? Guess which hunger that is? Yep, you guessed it. It’s that nasty head hunger that’s on auto-mindless pilot.
✓ So, you were feeling anxious, depressed, angry and thought that potato chips and ice cream would be good mood fixers. So you ate and ate and lo and behold, still feel what you were feeling but now on top of that, you also feel that grisly GUILT feeling. That’s definitely a knock on your door that says, “This is your head stopping by for some food.”
Hunger that comes on slowly, usually a few hours after you’ve eaten a meal, doesn’t “require” one specific food to “satisfy” you, begins with rumbling and gnawing sounds in your stomach and is patient, is real, true to life, in your stomach, physical hunger. It’ll stop when you are full and probably won’t leave you feeling guilty afer you’ve eaten. Sounds great, right?
(Keep in mind your need to eat will vary with the type of fitness and exercise you do regularly at the gym)
Now that you know the difference, here are some steps to take to turn your head around.
1. Identify the emotional triggers that set your eating in motion. Emotion journals that include what you think and feel are remarkably helpful in focusing in on an illogical drive to eat. Write down what you are thinking and feeling before, during and after you eat. Ask yourself, “Am I physically hungry? What am I thinking/feeling? What do I need? How can I meet this need?”
2. Create and use your own “hunger scale” from 0, starving to the point of feeling sick, to 3, hungry with a grumbling stomach, to 7, feeling full and slightly uncomfortable to 10, feeling sick and extremely uncomfortable.
3. It’s not what’s eating you but rather it’s what emotion(s) you are eating about. Create other ways to deal with emotional eating. This might include going for a walk, talking things over with a trusted friend, exercising, taking a nap, or some other productive activity. Tell yourself, “It’s just a craving and it’ll pass.” “I can stand feeling discomfort.” “Just because I think it’s what I need, doesn’t mean it really is.”
4. Before eating, use these four steps: A. Stop B. Breathe C. Reflect Why do I want to eat now? Why this particular food? Is this what I really need? D. Choose wisely
Yep, that’s right. Gratitude is medicine. You’ve seen the, “Exercise is Medicine” campaign offered up at www.exerciseismedicine.org, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Association and supported by many health and fitness related organizations notably among them, the American Council on Exercise, www.acefitness.org.
The goal of this initiative has been to make physical activity and exercise a routine part of disease prevention and medical treatment. In the words of the famous commercials, “But wait, there’s more…” What more can assure better living, healthier, fit and happier lives? No pill, no strict diet regimen are needed. It’s simply gratitude. At least that’s true if you believe what people have been writing since Biblical times, writing about more recently in the popular literature and researching at universities for the past several decades through the lens of positive psychology.
This dose of medicine requires a daily moment or two of your time. Research at the University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Davis, and the Universities of Michigan, Utah, Illinois and Kentucky, in particular, have demonstrated that people who are deeply thankful, count their blessings, notice the simple joys of daily life, and acknowledge everything they have in positive ways, engage in healthier behaviors and generally take better care of themselves. This extends to exercising more regularly, eating more wisely, and visiting their physicians for regular physical examinations as needed.
In his 2007 book, “Thanks: How the Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” Robert Emmons reported on his well-known study that found that people who keep a daily journal listing five things they feel grateful for each day, are 25% happier than those who don’t. He also described this group as feeling “…more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, attentive, energetic, excited, determined, and strong than those…” who focused on the hassles of daily life. The gratitude group also reported fewer physical symptoms and exercised more, which of course are related. The benefits of focusing, daily, on gratitude extend to the emotional, mental and physical areas of life.
Writing down your grateful thoughts is also a terrific sleeping pill. In his research, Emmons found that those who do, “get more hours of sleep each night, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and feel more refreshed upon awakening.” Sure beats a pill!
Gratitude beats back stress, which may be related to 90% of all doctor visits. Looking through the mental lens of what can go right, being appreciative of what you have instead of being angry for what you don’t have, leads to seeing life as full and satisfactory. It may well be the link to helping people cope with daily events, effectively avoiding the kind of thinking that creates stress—“Life should be different, and I should have it the way I want/demand it to be. It’s not and therefore that’s awful. Since life is awful, I can’t stand it!”
There you have it. One daily dose of spending several minutes jotting down three to five things for which you are grateful, what went right, developing the sense of abundance, appreciating others and the simple pleasures of life while avoiding a sense of entitlement and envy, goes a long way to adding health, happiness and wellness to your life.
Can you think? Be grateful for the good you can contemplate. Can you see? Be grateful for the beauty that you can see. Can you hear? Be grateful for the soothing sounds of life that you can hear. Get it?
Finally, if you forget, remember this GPS system that will take you to the best places of life: Gratitude, positivity and sensitivity.
Good – what’s good about your daily life regardless of what you have or not?
Recognize – what can go right?
Appreciative – are you appreciative of what you have…and don’t have?
Thankful – who have you sincerely thanked today?
Emotional – can you express emotion in a positive manner?
Fulfilled – you are either fulfilled or on the way to being fulfilled…never unfulfilled
Understanding – do you have the lens to understand that whatever happens always happens for the good?
Liked – do you look for what you can like in every person and situation you come across in life?
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Take a quick snapshot of your life and you’ll probably see your work, your family, your friends and yourself. Now ask yourself this simple question: what are you achieving and enjoying?
Not an uncommon question, since many ponder these two concerns during our daily activities—“What in the world am I really achieving by spending time on this?” “Am I really enjoying this or am I just going through the motions?”
Work-life balance was all the craze a number of years ago. Today, it seems, striving to find the balance between work and life is deemed a rather foolish pursuit. Instead, we are urged to thrive and flourish in all areas of life, not just one or the other. Forget finding equal ground, blossom in both areas. Sounds great, doesn’t it? While the media filled tens of thousands, if not more, pages and hours of airtime with “tips to achieve work-life balance,” today we hear that it’s not a worthwhile pursuit after all.
It’s a fairly grisly picture out there. With more than a third of people saying they are unhappy or very unhappy about the time they spend at work, to almost 50% of people saying they are neglecting important parts of their personal lives due to work, it’s pretty clear why more than 25% of employees in one study reported feeling depressed, more than a third feel anxious, and almost 60% say they are irritable. People have more and more but seem less and less happy.
For those who regularly workout at The La Jolla Sports Club, with or without a certified trainer, alone or in a group ex class, you can readily identify with recent research published in the journal Human Resource Management that looked at almost 500 adults, and found that regular exercise helps balance out feelings, improves self-confidence and the ability to be more productive at work and at home. The exercise that was studied wasn’t only gym-based but included “stolen moments” of activity during the day that add up to about 30 minutes per day, such as climbing stairs for five minutes or doing jumping jacks in 30-second spurts. Beyond exercise, of course, I coach my clients to change the way they think about work-life not as separate entities, but as one, called “LIFE.” In their terrific book, “Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and Life,” authors Howard Stevenson and Laura Nash identify four areas to contemplate as metrics for an overall, “good life.” These include:
1. Happiness: Feelings of pleasure or contentment in and about your life. 2. Achievement: Accomplishments that compare favorably against similar goals others have strived for. 3. Significance: A positive impact on people you care about. 4. Legacy: Establishing your values or accomplishments in ways that help others find future success.
But here’s the key. It turns out, according to research, that the happiest people are those that include something each day to fill each of these buckets. Delay enjoyment while you are busy achieving and you’ll be sadly disappointed—is there any other kind of disappointment? Focus on enjoyment and achievement may suffer. It’s not like working until the “finish line” will free you to have supreme happiness after your work life is over. That’s the foolish, “First, I’ll work until I’ve made enough and then I can do whatever I want to be happy.” Sounds terribly confused, and flies against what science teaches us about flourishing in life.
Quick Read: How to Add 22 years to your life
Want to take your life to this noble level of thriving and succeeding? Remember you need to focus on what’s important and here’s a hint: not everything is important. Set priorities and invest yourself NOW in those things that have the highest payoff.
“The link is what you think”, so put it in perspective. Achieve, enjoy, exercise and strive for brimming with optimal health and extreme happiness—the ultimate rewards for crisscrossing the work-life balance.
Written by: Kathleen Rafaat – kathleenrafaatnutrition.com
As a female, we have been taught to be careful, almost fearful, of carbohydrates. When you become an athlete, the fear becomes a stumbling block if you do not approach it as a way to maintain physical strength and stamina in your daily workouts and races. Understanding carbohydrates and how to use them is one of the most important tools in your workout routine. If you are a ATHLETE, your workouts are based on cycles and each cycle requires a different amount and timing, of those carbohydrates. It can get complicated, but let’s look at the simple side of what carbohydrates do for your body and how you can use them to your benefit.
Carbohydrates are found in all food and are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are simple carbs, or sugars, which include glucose (blood sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and galactose. There are also two-molecule carbs that include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and maltose (malt sugar). Simple carbohydrates are beneficial because they provide usable energy quickly. Complex carbohydrates, or starches, contain large 300 to 1,000 molecule compound and contain nothing but glucose molecules. It takes these compounds longer than simple sugars to come apart in the digestive system. Complex carbohydrates provide a longer-lasting source of clean-burning energy that can keep you going for hours.
When you are at rest, your body burns carbohydrates and fats, the rates of which depend on your level of fitness. As you increase your training intensity, carbs become the more important source of fuel for your muscles. Your glycogen supply is also much more limited than your body fat stores. Once they run low, fatty acids are used as the sole source of energy and performance is decreased. So now you understand how important carbohydrates are to your body during training and racing. Next, let’s learn how and when to eat and drink them!
If you look at training as a cycle, triathletes usually break the year down into four distinctive cycles, beginning with the Base Cycle. This is time you are laying down your foundation to develop aerobic endurance and muscular strength. It is filled with moderate intensity and high volume. If you look at the year as a whole, your carbohydrate volume should follow your training volume. So it makes sense to match up what you consume in the hours before, during and after training with the loss of fuel that happens during your training session. Once you become fatigued, you have no choice but to slow down or stop. Let’s work on how to stop that from happening!
In a perfect world, it is best to fuel your body 3-4 hours before you train but most of us have busy lives and it is difficult to eat that early. Let’s start with 1-2 hours before a training session that lasts for 75 minutes. An example is a 140 pound female triathlete. She will need between 2.5-3g/lb. of carbs for a low intensity training = 1,400 calories of carbohydrates.
Keeping in mind that you are eating 1-2 hours before your training session, it is better to limit your intake of carbohydrates to 1 gram per pound of body weight. So the 140-pound athlete could take in a max of 140 grams of carbs. Two hours before a whole grain bagel, 1 T peanut butter, banana and endurance sports drink would give you around that amount. If closer to an hour, using a liquid carb meal or energy bar is great since it is quickly and easily digested. Choose wisely and look for organic versions with the least amount of ingredients.
During your workout, you will need to ingest around 30-40 grams per hour if training longer than 2 hours. Start drinking as soon as you begin your exercise and continue to drink at frequent intervals throughout your workout. Gels, sports drink, banana, bars, are all good and should be used during your training to see which one works best for you. Remember to check your race website to see what they use, and practice what is on the course, in case your “special” combo is lost or dropped during the race!
After your training, make sure you are replenishing energy stores at a rate of about .75 grams per pound of body weight, during the first 15-30 minutes and for the next four to six hours. That is equal to 100 grams of carbohydrates for 140-pound athlete. This way you can maximize your glycogen stores and feel great for your next day of training!