Eating Vegetarian

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This next week I will be embarking on a new challenge with a few of my friends. We will attempt to eat a vegetarian menu this week. In light of this, I asked my brother, who is a vegetarian, to write a blog for me about the benefits and different aspects of being a vegetarian.

Troy Lyon is a licensed massage therapist in Portland, Oregon. He is an avid student of health, and plans to move to the Boulder, CO area to study nutrition this year. He loves to mountain bike, snow board, do yoga and spend time with his wonderful wife, Rae. You can contact Troy at balancingworksmassage@gmail.com.

 

First, Let us examine what vegetarianism means, as it differs from person to person, culture to culture.
Vegetarianism encompasses the practice of following plant-based diets (fruits, vegetables, etc.), with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs, and with the exclusion of meat (red meat, poultry and seafood). However,  many choose to alter their diet, but manage to remain a vegetarian. These classifications are as follows:
An ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy products, a lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but not eggs, and an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including eggs, dairy, and honey. A Semi-vegetarian diets consist largely of vegetarian foods, but may include fish or poultry, or sometimes other meats on an infrequent basis. And a pescetarian diet, for example, includes “fish but no meat”.
One might choose to practice vegetarianism for issues such as environmental, animal cruelty, or religion, but this topic will focus on the health benefits of eating vegetarian.
Many studies have been done that say vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, and  type 2 diabetes. The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada have stated that at all stages of life, a properly planned vegetarian diet is “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provides health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases”.
The connection between infected animal and human illness is well established in the case of salmonella; an estimated one-third to one-half of all chicken meat marketed in the United States is contaminated with salmonella. Only recently, however, have scientists begun to suspect that there is a similar connection between animal meat and human cancer, birth defects, mutations, and many other diseases in humans.
The reason for this being is the mass consumption and production of factory farmed animals. When the demand is high, the producers see a need to meet that supply, and often do so with added growth hormones and inadequate nutrition for the animals, so that they produce a faster and higher yield. This situation becomes hazardous to us humans when we eat what they eat, and if they are diseased, we are eating that too.

Information  and research gathered primarily from Wikipedia.com

Now let us talk nutrition: Many skeptics ask “Do vegetarians receive enough protein in their diet?”
Studies at Harvard University as well as other studies conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and various European countries, confirmed vegetarian diets provide sufficient protein intake as long as a variety of plant sources are available and consumed.
Foods to eat that insure you are receiving adequate protein; Quinoa (a grain grown in South America that is high in protein),Tempeh, tofu, combination of leafy greens, and vegetables, and wild caught fish.
I believe that eating vegetarian offers many health benefits and an increase in energy, but one must do the work to research, meal plan, eat nutritious foods, and test to see what works for their own body. Our body operates on what we feed them, so it is our responsibility to provide the fuel that is needed to operate the most efficiently and effectively.  
Here is a sample menu of a typical day of my diet:
Wake up: I always start off the day with fruit (apple, banana, grapefruit, orange) It is easiest to be absorbed and digested on an empty stomach and provides great nutrition and healthy sugars to jump start my day.

Breakfast: Quinoa, Two eggs seasoned with tyme, oregano, salt and pepper, and ¼ avocado.  Toast with nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower).

 

 

 

 

 

Snack: Lara bar (nuts and fruits) or fruit. Coconut water.

Lunch: Organic vegetables; leaf lettuce (not iceberg, the darker in color the more nutrients), mushrooms, tomatoes, avocadoes. Sunflower seeds and ¼ cup quinoa.
Dressing: Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, dab of mustard, (mix and dress)
Add grilled or canned tuna, salmon for added protein and fish oil which is good for your joints.

 

Snack: Fresh veggies; Tomatoes, celery, broccoli, carrots. Dried fruit, nuts.
Dinner: Vegetable soup (zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes). Spinach salad with cranberries, almond slices, blueberries and apples. Rice.
Dessert: Dark chocolate
It has taken me many years to refine my diet to where it is now, but it works for me. Try different foods often and see how it affects your body. Notice your energy levels, mood swings, bowel movements, mucus, etc. and you will discover the foods that your body wants to be fueled on.
Eating nutritious foods is good for your body, mind, soul and the environment, plus it makes cooking fun and delicious.
Think Healthy, Eat Healthy, Be Healthy, and Be Happy.

Troy Lyon
Nutrionalist and Licensed Massage Therapist 17114

 

The almighty Bosu

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Recently I was let onto a secret in fitness I have seldom seen people utilize. Want to know why it’s not used? It is HARD!! For the past few weeks I have altered my weight lifting routine from 2-3 days a week to every other day. I have also gone from a mostly weight routine to using only free weights and the BOSU ball + body weight for strength training.

My results? All of a sudden my love handles are disappearing, my core is stronger than ever and I sweat like crazy during strength training, which doesn’t happen when I use the machines.

What is the BOSU ball? Bosu stands for “both sides utilized.” It is a half ball, with one flat side and the other side the ball.When using the BOSU you will engage your core muscles for each and every exercise. The core is not only your abs, but also your back, hips and thighs. This burns more calories as you work more muscle groups at the same time.

Here is my “quickie” routine, which I can complete in 20-30 minutes. Usually I like to spend about an hour on my BOSU routine. I like these lifts because they are working multiple muscle groups at one time. That is called a compound lift.

1. Squats with shoulder press (8lb dumbbell) or other shoulder work…

>While standing on the flat side of the bosu (the round part will be on the floor) I perform a squat while moving the DB from my sides to straight out in front, or from my shoulder (with elbows bent) to directly above my head. As I stand from my squat I lower the DB. Typically do 10-15 reps each set.

2. Lunge with bicep/tricep work

>The bosu can be either up or down, both sides are equally difficult. Put one foot on the bosu and perform the basic lunge while also doing a bicep curl. After 10-15 reps, switch legs and perform the lunge while also working the tricep: hold one DB over your head and lower the DB to behind your head while bending your elbows.

3. Row–this works your back

>Stand on either side of the BOSU and slightly bend your knees. Hold the DB in front of your chest with your arms bent. Contract your shoulder blades together, moving the DB to the side. Release your shoulder blades and bring the DB back to the front. 10-15 reps/set.

4. Burpee Push up

>This is a power house move. Put the BOSU belly side down. Hold the sides of the BOSU and jump your feet out into a push up position. Perform the push up, then jump your feet back in.  Lift the Bosu over your head as you lift your body to a standing position and jump with the BOSU above you. Repeat 10-15 times

5. Fly–chest

>Put the BOSU flat side down. Put your shoulders on the BOSU and hold two DB above you with a slight bend in your elbows. Put your Feet flat on the ground, but raise your hips off the ground. This will work your back/butt as well. Move your hands simultaneously to your sides (make a “t”), and then back to their starting position. Repeat 10-15 times/set.

6. Curl

>Sitting on the ball and holding a core ball (a weighted ball with handles) perform a sit up, bringing the ball over your head as you extend your body, and up between your legs to the floor as you crunch forward. Repeat 10-15 times.

Repeat this rotation 2-3 times.

Honestly, I can’t wait to measure my waist line in a few weeks. I can tell there have been some major changes in the past few weeks.

This is just my quickie routine, but it covers the major muscle groups and works the core the entire time. Now that I am lifting more frequently but still trying to train for several events I am thinking I will need to invest in a BOSU and some DB to have at home so that I can get in my weight training during spare time and use my gym time for cardio.

Good luck and let me know what you think!

Myths of fitness

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If you are like a lot of other people in America you set it as a new year’s goal to lose a pound or two this year. Maybe you have a lot to lose, or you just want to sit more comfortable in your favorite jeans.

For some reason, after losing so much weight people often talk to me like I am the weight loss police or something. The only other time I have encountered this type of behavior is when I was in ministry training. I would tell someone where I went to school, and suddenly they were telling me how they were really a “good” person and all of these “good” things they do. As if I was the judge of whether they were “good enough” to enter heaven. Whatever. The same thing happens now. I am constantly engaged in conversations with people who do have weight to lose, and they tell me that they are healthy because they do “xyz” and they think it is GOOD enough to be healthy. One lady told me she drinks a glass of water at every meal. That’s  enough water, right? Others tell me about using Wii fitness. Ok, I’m not dogging the Wii because I’m sure that you COULD get your heart rate up using the game, but you could also sit on the couch and shake your wrist and still accomplish the game. I haven’t seen a lot of success with these gimmicks. The worst is when I am questioned about supplements for weight loss. Seriously…I’m not going to tell you HCG works because it doesn’t. This success is ONLY temporary. Am I supposed to confirm that behavior as adequate for a fit life?

My least favorite phrase is most likely “lose weight.” The reason I HATE this phrase is that “lose” implies passivity. I don’t know about you, but I am REALLY good at losing things. Namely my keys and cell phone. The reason I lose them is because I don’t habitually put them in a place that is safe for them. Lose implies you weren’t paying attention to what was going on.

I’ll be honest, I do have a friend who CLAIMS to have lost weight because he sat and played video games and didn’t eat for hours (or days?) at a time. Most likely, he is now significantly overweight because that type of weight loss is not sustainable.

You can’t possibly LOSE weight while being passive about it. It takes conscientious action. It takes WORK. It means paying attention to what goes in your mouth. It means sweating several days a week. It means sacrificing things you would rather be doing (like sitting on the couch) for the gym.

There are a lot of ways to “lose” weight. You could join weight watchers, you could count calories, you could cut portion sizes, you could to go to a specific diet plan, you could do any number of exercise activities. You don’t have to do what I have done to be successful.

However, if you are just beginning this journey, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that it takes work. Lots of work. It’s hard and sometimes it’s not fun. The good news is that it’s simple. It’s all about using more than you consume. In versus out. It’s a simple formula that’s easy to follow and understand. Please do not be discouraged, but please to do not come to me hoping that I will tell you I lost 70 lbs by eating cookies and milk everyday or by taking a magic pill. Most of all, know and believe that it is possible. This is the year for a new you! You can do it!

Gym vs. Home workouts

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If you are like 99% of America, you are probably thinking that in a week you will set a resolution to lose some weight or get a little healthier in the new year. I’ve recently seen posts on social media sites about different machines to purchase as well as what to look for in a gym…So if you are considering either…here are some pros and cons:

At home work outs:

I have to admit, I have never been good at working out at home. I really wish I was though because the best reason to work out at home is there is NEVER  ever an excuse. No matter how busy you are, there is always time at home that is wasted. If you can develop a routine for working out at home then weather, gym hours, equipment availability, workout attire, and schedules are never a factor. There are countless videos available to pop in the DVD or downloadable from Netflix. Boredom really isn’t an issue with Netflix. Perhaps the second best reason to work out at home is the cost: it’s free. NO monthly memberships to pay for. The kids can entertain themselves and you can cook dinner while doing Jillian’s 30 DS all at the same time. Score!!

There are some downfalls to working out at home. First…if you rely heavily on equipment, you will be severely limited, or need a big budget and a big house to house that equipment. More times than not, ellipticals and treadmills are purchased in January and used for clothing racks in June. Incorporating weights into your workout can also be costly and huge eye sores if you don’t have adequate space. Another problem I have with working out at home is that there is no accountability. What I don’t pay for means little to me. I tried simply doing situps and pushups everyday at home whether I made it to the gym or not and I failed miserably. I maybe did one day of these at home. However EVERYDAY I went to the gym, I ALWAYS did situps and push ups.

Many of the downfalls to working out at home are actually benefits to a gym. For example, there are myriads of classes offered at gyms that help you focus on different thing and allow you access to different equipment that you would not typically use. One of my favorite classes utilizes ropes, bags, bosu balls, weights, steps, and much more on a regular bases. I could never afford to have all of that equipment at home. It also provides access to people with a wealth of information. Trainers at gyms are always willing to help out and give a few pointers. Yes, they would like you to pay for individual training sessions, but they really want to see you become your best. They also participate in many of the events that you might be wanting to participate in recreationally, so they can offer a lot of great advise. At gyms, there will most likely be access to a pool, multitudes of equipment and weight machines as well. For me one of the biggest benefits to a gym membership is the social aspect of it. Last week I ended up walking in to the gym behind my friend, and then another of my friends showed up right behind us. The three of us had a great workout together, and all of our kids played in the family center together. I love that I can workout without being interrupted by my daughter, and I have the peace of mind to know that she is safe. We also use our membership as a form of entertainment. Not all gyms are also recreation centers, but our YMCA happens to be. Instead of going to the movies or children’s museum, we go to the YMCA and play on the Kinect, watch tv, play games, or play in the gym. Since we already have a membership, there is no extra cost for us. I know of some gyms that also offer tanning and other amenities.

There are some downfalls to gyms. The most obvious factor is the cost. Gym memberships can range from $30 to $60 a month, sometimes more. If you chose to stop using the membership, that money is still deducted from your account regardless. Some gyms do not offer childcare for children. Gyms can be difficult to get to, if it is not near your home or work location. Sometimes the hours make it difficult as well, especially if you work different shifts. Everyone hates having to wait for machines, and sometimes the machines are in disrepair. Since I am overly dependent on the gym, I tend to not work out when it is closed or if I can not make it to the gym for whatever reason.

None of this is meant to be an excuse. I am not giving you a reason to say, I don’t want a gym membership because…or I can’t work out at home because… These are just some things to think about as you determine what works the best for you. Regardless, I hope 2012 is the year of health for you. I know that you can do whatever you put your mind to doing! Let me know how it goes.

 

Something snaps…

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I had a bit of a Cruella experience this week. Have you seen 102 Dalmatians? Cruella “snaps” back into the “old” Cruella after bells start ringing. Apparently, the psychologists who had cured her had really only brain washed her using a Pavlov type experiment. All it took was some bell ringing to make her go crazy again.

I had been doing really well. Obviously–for the past year–I had lost almost 75 lbs and I had avoided almost all “un” natural sugar for over 3 weeks. Training was on target. My probation officer (aka my accountability partner) was super proud of me.

Then the bells started ringing. Hair strands started popping out of my well kept ‘do and I went a little nuts. Old habits started creeping in to my lifestyle. It’s not like they were even acceptable habits for a normal person. I’m talking about reverting to hiding what I was eating and totally gorging myself on junk food. Totally not even thinking about what I was consuming. It started with rationalizing here and there. It ended with a huge stomach ache and a few extra pounds.

To some extent I’m glad this happened. It shows there is a weakness in my mind that needs to be addressed. It means that all my food issues aren’t taken care of. I’m at the end of my journey. I’m 3/4 of the way to my goal, so now it is time to start thinking and planning for maintenance. If one cupcake or one cookie sends me over the edge and back into what led me to obesity in the first place I’m going to have to come up with a different form of brainwashing.

Group classes

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There is one thing that made me so nervous about a gym membership:

People seeing me working out. Or working out with other people, in general.

That all changed, ironically, when I broke my foot. While in recovery, when I was probably at my lowest point physically, I joined an aqua zumba class. This was really the only thing I could do that would not cause me a lot of pain. I was terrified to be seen in my swim suit in JANUARY, but something had to be done.

Pretty soon I had some friends in that class and really enjoyed being with them twice a week. Then I felt I might be strong enough for a regular zumba class. Soon, I had several friends in there too.

After about six or seven months I started trying new and harder classes. Let’s face it, there are classes you rarely, if ever see fat people going into. I wanted to challenge myself. I knew that if I looked like the people around me I wouldn’t get any better. This was a huge step for me. Now I’m not saying the people who do zumba are fat. It’s a great class, but I needed something more vigorous. I needed some torture. My friend Amanda asked me to go to an ITT class with her. This is a class that does high intensity interval training. The first one was extremely tough. But I haven’t stopped going since. The people in this class are in excellent shape and 90% of them are seen at the gym on a daily basis.

I eventually started going to cycling classes. I thought ITT was hard. Cycling is tough. Once again, I have endured. This is the only class that leaves sweat dripping off my arms and legs. My shirt is drenched in sweat. It is seriously hard. What really kept me going though was the camraderie that exists among the people. We laugh and joke while we bleed sweat from every possible pore. While I wouldn’t say it is a close-knit group of people, it is a group of people that I would seriously miss if I didn’t see them for a few weeks. The strangeness is that we are all very different. It is a very motley crew.

I shared with the class my new goal of going to Florida when I drop my last 40 lbs. Every week Sam, the instructor, throws in there…we gotta get Savannah to Florida! during the most strenuous part of the class. It’s amazing to have that kind of encouragement. I couldn’t imagine doing this on my own. It’s so good to have people fighting with you and for you.

Maybe group exercise classes aren’t for you. But I encourage you to at least try. You never know what you will find and what a better person you will become when you do something that makes you a little uncomfortable.

Why I love swimming…

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I hate swimming.

Ya, I said that. I suck at swimming. I am good at sucking water. I am good at flailing around and looking like I have no clue what I am doing. I love being in a bathing suit. Seriously. I love it when it is warm enough to be at the pool. I love to be in water. But I hate swimming. Because I suck at it.

So I was thinking about it. I have 7 months and 15 days before my first ever triathlon. 7 and a half months of practicing and practicing. By that time I should have around 85 hours of swim training. Seven months prior to my half marathon I think I really hated running too. Would I have dreamed that running marathons was a goal or a passion when I had a BMI that was obese? Probably not.

I often run because it is a form of emotional cutting. It hurts and I can rid myself of anxiety and heartbreak. I listen to 311, Linkin Park and other somewhat angry music and work through my struggles. By the time I am done running the problem doesn’t seem as big. I often have anxiety attacks and running is the best way to calm it.

I love my kickboxing class. This makes it sound like I have a lot of anger issues, but sometimes it’s really nice to envision an ex bf’s face on the bag and just punch the hell out of it. It makes a really good work out.

I’m not a psychologist, but there has to be some theory with using pain to get rid of pain. It really works. If I can torture my body long enough or harsh enough, the pain of whatever the immediate situation is goes away.

This is why I love swimming. Yes…finally, the point. You see there is also benefit in forgetting. When I swim I have to fully concentrate on swimming. I can’t think about my problems. I can’t even think about music or what I’m wearing or what I’m doing later. Swimming is entirely mentally exhausting for me. It requires me to count 1-2-3-breathe. 1-2-3- breathe. It requires me to focus on form: keeping my rear in the air and keeping my legs straight while kicking. If my brain is working fast enough, it doesn’t think about other things, it watches the black line below me and notices the safety of the cross at the end of the lane. It has to remember what lap I’m on or God forbid I will swim a few too many. There is no time for remembering the problems life has thrown at me because all I can do is focus on living.

You see, when you run or cycle or dance, or whatever, you might need to pay attention to how you breathe: deeply through the nose, out the mouth, but for the most part it is natural to you, seeing as how you have done it every second of your life. Riding a bike and running are also very natural. Most people learned the basics as children. It might require some mental thinking to endure or for speed, but it is a natural function.

We were not made to swim. You cannot breathe in your nose when you swim. You cannot breathe whenever you want to. It requires so much mental work just to breathe that you are lucky to be able to think about your stroke or your kick.

I keep thinking that soon enough I will feel like a fish. Tonight I got a glimpse at that. Just a tiny one. On my 16th and final lap, I finally felt that euphoria I get when I run. Like it was somewhat natural. However, I was too tired to do another and too tired to remember those problems I had succeeded at forgetting.

I encourage you to try something new that is difficult. There are perks in the learning process, and maybe eventually you will discover a new love that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.