diet

You. Food. And Worth.

I am good. I am bad. 

One of the first things I do with a new client is a food journal review. The same statements come up again and again:

“I was really bad on this day"
“I was having a major cheat day"
“Oh, this is what it looks like when I am really good"

And so on.
These lines are said with a laugh, but words are powerful. And these words - that declare a person good or bad - have deep roots and jagged edges.

It breaks my heart.

You are not good or bad based on what you eat. You are just making choices.

Some are more nourishing than others, but it is all a spectrum.

I can relate. I get where it comes from and have been guilty of it myself. Which is why I know how powerful it is to change the narrative.

You can start by looking at your motives - why are you trying to eat healthy? To look good naked, to play with your kids, to avoid disease?

Whatever the motive - the common thread is to gain something in life that makes you feel better.

The words you consume can be more deleterious than the food you eat. They can have more of an impact on your body. The relationship you have with yourself and your food matters.

And it is important to know that no matter what you have eaten today you have value as you are right now. 


It isn't all about food

What you eat DOES matter, but it isn't the whole picture.

The world of nutrition is jam packed full of different people preaching different approaches. You can find whatever you are looking for - articles to support your beliefs - to tear them down - whatever you need the internet has your back.

My standpoint is that you need to find what works for you. And what works for you today, may not work tomorrow - also what does "work" mean? Health? Weight? 

These clarifying questions are excellent to ask when you are trying to create change.

Now, back to my point.

It isn't all about food.

What do I mean by that? Well. I could tell you THE PERFECT DIET FOR YOU and if you are so stressed out following that diet, it isn't going to work.

If you follow that diet, but still only manage to get 5 hours of solid sleep that night. It isn't going to work.

If you follow that diet, but keep supporting bad relationships in your life. It isn't going to work.

If you follow that diet, and have a terrible internal monologue. It isn't going to work

If you follow that diet, but don't believe you can actually change. It isn't going to work.

Food plays an important role in healing.

But your mind.

It is more powerful.

Learning how to be kind to yourself. Kind to your path. Your progress. Developing patience. These things can be more impactful than the perfect meal plan.

Sugar, SUGAR, SUUUUGARRRR | Part 3

Blood sugar regulation is no joke.

it looks sooo tasty!

it looks sooo tasty!

The other night I was staying strong on my NO SUGAR promise and I found  myself gazing at delicious looking popcorn. My sister and her husband gifted it to my Dad for Christmas. It was a Chicago Mix - cheese and caramel - I was staring at two pieces and picturing the delight of eating them.  

I was making an internal deal. TWO PEICES! NO ONE WOULD KNOW. I just wanted to experience caramel and cheese popcorn... just two... 

But then I thought about the fact that I haven't had ANY refined sugar in about 3.5 months. The popcorn WOULD have an impact. 

ONE - I'd be going against rules that I set for myself. There is something super satisfying about accomplishing what you commit yourself (to yourself) to.

TWO - It WOULD spike my blood sugar and that is what I have been looking to avoid. SPIKE.

So let's talk about this. What is a blood sugar spike? What happens in the body? Why is it a bad thing?

The body. 

It likes things to exist within certain perimeters. 

Like your thermostat. You set the temp to 70 degrees. It heats up to get there - stops - heat drops - it heats up again. It just keeps on keeping on trying to maintain that 70 degrees.

So let's talk about this in relation to blood sugar. 

Blood sugar is the amount of sugar in the blood.

We are always meant to have some sugar in the blood, but we are not meant to continually spike that amount. If you think about it... like really think about it... we humans haven't had sugar in our diet for a very long period of time. 

Source: Stephan Guyenet

Source: Stephan Guyenet

In 1821 the average amount of sugar was 10 pounds per person per year.

In 1970 it was 120 pounds per person per year. 

In 2004 it was 141 pounds per person per year.

And now it is estimated to be 170 pounds of sugar per year.

Let that sink in that is an additional 160 pounds per person in about in what is really a short amount of time.

WOW.

The thing that makes me the saddest is that this type of overconsumption is normalized in our society. Treat yourself! You deserve it! Etc. Etc. It makes me angry and it takes a lot to make me angry.

So, like our thermostat being set at 70 our blood sugar has a particular place it is comfortable. If it goes HIGHER the body regulates, if it goes LOWER the body regulates.

Most people are aware of the hormone that lowers blood sugar aka insulin, but do you know that insulin's primary job is actually to get energy into the cell?

So insulin is now used more frequently to mitigate the damage of too much sugar in the blood which is tiring for the body.

There are 3 primary organs that are involved in this process - the Liver, the Pancreas, and the Adrenal glands. 

Here is a basic (basic) explanation of what happens when blood sugar is spiked.

KT0C3268.jpg

So let's say I was seduced by the caramel/cheese popcorn.

I grab a handful and crunch in delight. My brain is happy as quick energy surges into my body, dopamine pathways light up and I am all heck yea!

Now. 

It does not take long for the popcorn to break down and make it into the blood stream. My blood sugar soars and the body takes action. It is like OH NO YOU DIDN'T! TROOPS LET'S GET THIS REGULATED!

And the pancreas springs into action.

It releases the hormone insulin (hormones are messengers) insulin is now telling the cells HEY WE HAVE A LOT OF SUGAR HERE I NEED YOU TO LET IT INTO YOUR CELL WALL. This message needs to be received by insulin receptor sites for the sugar (aka glucose) to go into the cell and be converted into glycogen (stored energy) in the liver. The muscles can also take in some glucose and convert it to glycogen to be stored (which is great for intense workouts or sprinting). 

But, there is only so much room. Eventually everyone is full up on their need for stored energy and the rest of the glucose gets converted into triglycerides and cholesterol for storage. So that weight you carry around that is stored energy. Fun.

So this is the basic process.

Blood sugar goes up, insulin is released, it tells the liver and muscles to let the glucose in by connecting with the receptor sites, glucose gets in and gets converted into glycogen aka stored energy.

And remember carbs are also sugar because they get broken down INTO glucose so you might think... huh... I don't eat much sugar... but do you drink OJ? Do you eat bread? Enjoy pasta? All these things become glucose and RAISE the blood sugar.

Over time the system goes out of whack. 

Insulin is being pumped out like crazy to normalize blood sugar and the receptor sites begin to need more to respond correctly. Also too much sugar in the blood leads to AGEs (advance glycation end products) which are basically proteins or lipids (fats) that become glycated. Which means they are STICKY.

You now have sticky proteins floating around. These sticky proteins can STICK TO RECEPTOR SITES! 

And from all of this you start to become insulin resistant

Which means the receptor sites are not getting the message. 

Yikes.

That means your pancreas is doing it's part, but the message is not being heard so it keeps on pushing out insulin (yes this is tiring for the pancreas).

So now, finally, after a boatload of inuslin, blood sugar drops - but - in this non normal world it drops WAY low. 

And the body is like CRAP! WE NEED TO GET THIS REGULATED (once again).

The pancreas leaps into action and releases glucagon which is the opposite of insulin. Glucagon is a hormone (messenger) and it tells the liver to release the stored energy (glycogen) and convert it back into glucose (raising blood sugar). 

But it isn't enough.

And that is where the adrenals come into play. Now cortisol AND epinephrine are released as well to try to spike the blood sugar back up. Cortisol and epinephrine are both hormones that they are part of the flight or fight response. You might notice your heart-rate go up because you are in a stress response.

So now we have your pancreas, liver, and adrenal glands working OVERTIME trying to regulate blood sugar - and those organs have a whole host of other things they need to be doing as well - but here we are working them to bone.

Riding a sugar roller coaster. Eventually something is going to give.

The pancreas wears out.

The adrenals become exhausted.

The liver goes caput (potentially leading to fatty liver disease). 

And it is bad news bears for everyone.

Which is why blood sugar regulation disrupts ALL aspects of human physiology. It hits your energy, the integrity of your tissues, the balance of your hormones, AND your brain health. 

It is one of THE most important systems to get back in line to begin to tackle other pieces of health.

If you want to drop weight you need to get this under control, it is THE sustainable way to get weight off and keep it off. 

If blood sugar regulation is not working properly then health CANNOT be achieved.

Which is why in the end I did not eat the popcorn.

Getting this system in line is a huge undertaking and a huge priority. 

The instant gratification of crunch, crunch, is not worth sacrificing the long term benefits of having a system that works properly. 

The more I feel good.

The more I want to feel good.

Sugar, SUGAR, SUUUUGARRRRRRRR | Part 1

EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO A NUTRITION WORKSHOP BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS (OR MAYBE NOT).

In my "normal" everyday life I do not eat sugar. At. All.

Now it took a while to get to this point (aka a LOT of ebbs and a LOT of flows), but  now I can say with confidence I do not eat sugar (yes I do consume alcohol, but that is another story). 

When I worked in an office there were ALWAYS (always... always) treats coming in through the door. People would bring in donuts to share, there would be homemade cookies, pies, brownies, and more!! There were ALSO candy dispensers that were always stocked full o' tasty treats (gummi bears, m&m's, reeses peices, skittles, etc).

My rule was to just NOT partake. Just don't do it. And I never did.

Things become easier when the rule is absolute. 

I would however sometimes get into a gluten-free treat kick. French macaroons, gluten-free cupcakes, gluten-free brownies, gluten-free cookies, coconut milk ice-cream! Now, NONE OF ME thinks the absence of gluten makes ANY of these treats "better" or "good" sugar is still sugar in whatever form. I would treat myself one day... and then I wanted to treat myself the next, and the next. Once a week would become twice week... to three times a week.

Just not optimal.

So.

About three months ago I tweaked my diet a bit and HAD to take out the sugar and the chocolate (I'd been allowing myself 70%+ dark chocolate). In three months I have had a bit of honey, but that is it. The reason for the diet tweak is therapeutic, I am working on my digestion and sugar is trouble for a lot of digestive issues. It feeds some of the bad stuff (if you have bad stuff) in your gut (more on that later).  

And you know what? It has been awesome. My skin looks better, I've dropped weight, my energy/mood is better, pretty great right?

So now let us fast forward today. Michigan. My home.

The cupboard of death (and delight)!

The cupboard of death (and delight)!

I come to Michigan about four times a year and when I am here I typically throw a lot of the rules to the wayside. The way I live in Seattle I say ... eh WHATEV. And do what I want in Michigan.

My parents are a fan of candy. You can see the pictures. There are cupboards just lurking with tasty sugary treats. 

Now not everyone has a thing for candy. I do. And I don't want just a "taste" I want A LOT !

I want candy until I am overloaded with sweetness and am bordering on sickness. (Handfuls, you guys, handfuls is what I want.)

The drawers of merriment (and pain)!

The drawers of merriment (and pain)!

In Seattle, I follow the first rule of self defense aka don't be there. In Michigan, that isn't possible so I indulge! At first it is great... and then it isn't... and then I feel pretty terrible. 

But.

It is Michigan!

It is my special time!!

Not this trip. 

The weekend before coming here I was at an onsite nutrition workshop and blood sugar regulation was a HUGE topic. Learning what it does to you internally when you overload your system was really impactful. Like really impactful. It gave me the resolve to say no to sugar for the holidays, for my trip to Michigan, and for the foreseeable future. Like I said I do REALLY well when I work in absolutes. Grey areas are where I get tripped up. Michigan has been a grey area, but no more my friends no more. 

Next post I will be getting into the nitty gritty of what good blood sugar regulation looks like... and what an overworked system looks like and why it is harmful for your awesome body.

Until then. 

Cheers!

You all rock.

I eat "pretty healthy"

Growing up in the mitten state aka Michigan...

I never thought much about food. I never thought about what the human body needs from food. I never thought about the fact that to run this body and to run it well - I needed to nourish it.

I understood that some people “ate healthy”, but that was just fiction something to be made fun of on sitcoms. The people that were granola and kooky “ate healthy” not REAL people.

I grew up in a small town called Ortonville and though I think my parents did their best to feed us “healthy” food, they were slightly misinformed. We had a garden, which was awesome, but we also had a BOAT-LOAD of processed food and to be honest that was the majority of our diet.

We never ate as a family. The only time we gathered together for meals was holidays and that was the only time I was exposed to "side dishes".  My Dad was the cook and he would make one thing and only one thing for dinner.  This could be burrito pizza (his invention), spaghetti for days, chili, or a taco salad.

I had two sisters and the three of us would sit at a table together facing a window as my Mom and Dad sat in the living room and watched TV.

This was how we did dinner.  

As we grew up dinner became less of a thing and often we were allowed to make our own food.  I never really understood how cook real food - so I’d stick to baked potatoes and noodles (LOTS of noodles).

You know, good fat-free, options.

We never had breakfast together.  We were a fend for yourself pour some cereal tribe. We had Lucky Charms, Smacks, Cap’nCrunch, but we also had Raisin Bran, Cheerios, and Honey Bunches of Oats, you know the healthier choices. (See why this is terrible here.)

We’d all pack our own lunches for school.  Typically peanut butter and jelly - some sort of fruit snack and then maybe cookies with a juicebox. PACKED LUNCHES EQUAL HEALTH LUNCHES, right?!

As I grew older I thought it would make sense to try and go through school without eating much (PORTION CONTROL).  I remember not bringing a lunch and purchasing one singular oatmeal cream cookie and slowly eating the whole thing.  

I’d then go home and eat SO MANNY BAGELS. Bagels are fat-free = healthy! Then I'd spread on margarine = a healthy choice and I might also add low-fat or better yet completely FAT FREE cream cheese to garnish my - at least - 2 bagels.  Healthy, healthy, healthy!

I have a vivid memory of one night really craving some chips, but choosing a half a loaf of potato bread (fat free!) instead - I was so proud of myself.  

If you had asked me, I would have said “I eat pretty healthy” because I thought I did. I really truly thought I did. I thought it was all about portion size and I knew sometimes I went a little nuts with the amount of food that I was consuming, but all in all - I didn’t do too bad.

I believed that working out was the solution.  

Food was secondary.

And man. I felt awful.

It would take me a long, long, LONG time to learn how to properly nourish my body and understand what "pretty healthy" actually means.

To understand what food to eat, how to enjoy it, be nourished by it, and not constantly be hungry.

I had to discard SO MUCH that had been ingrained in me and realize that being the kooky sitcom person is in fact sustainable.

So my question to you is how do you define "pretty healthy"?

 

Breakfast OMM NOM NOM!!

"The most important meal of the day... not to screw up. "

These are the words of Dr. Cate Shanahan who was the awesome doc to completely revolutionize the Lakers' diet. Which is a pretty great story. There are people in this world that can eat ANYTHING and still perform better than most people, but(!) are they performing at their best potential? I will leave you with that thought and refocus on the bfast times.

BREAKFAST.

Nom. Nom. Blood sugar crasshhhhhhing!

Nom. Nom. Blood sugar crasshhhhhhing!

Dude. You guys. This is important. This flavors your WHOLE day. This starts the decision making process of making nutritious choices that come easily or not so nutritious choices that seem to be made for us.

THEY BROUGHT IN TOP POT DOUGHNUTS! WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DOO?

Solid question. 

Answer: Don't. Eat. 'Em. 

I know! It is rough, like super duper rough, but the only way to form the habit of NOT is by NOT. Now, I want to remind you we are JUST tackling breakfast right now. Just breakfast.

(I am not going to touch on the pizza that comes in later in the day... yet.)

Now. I want to be clear EVERYONE is an individual and there is no everyone must do! That said, there are some general principles that tend to deliver benefit consistently.

So, what are you saying Annette?

1) Eat Breakfast - it doesn't need to be huge, but if you are experiencing lower energy, more cravings, and lack of willpower in your day... eat breakfast.

Men - you have more leeway here, you lucky guys can often operate from a fasted state and do okay.

Women - eh, most of you perform better with a bit of protein in the morning. Truth.

2) Eat Protein and Fat. Only. No fruit, no grain, no fruit juice, no juice, no smoothie, no yogurt, no granola, I'd personally avoid nuts too!

Okay, okay you can have veggies too if you'd like them - just nothing that is sugar dense. 

Choose high quality protein (e.g. grassfed and finished) and high quality fat (coconut oil, butter, MCT, ghee, etc). 

Try it out, see how you feel. I am not saying your plain greek yogurt is bad or that your super organic natural nutty granola is terrible, I am saying I have seen HUGE benefit when people switch it up and start with protein and fat.

So, I recommend you test it. Try it for ten days! Note how you feel, see if you like it.

If not, DO AS YOU PLEASE!

If so... well, you're now informed and DO AS YOU PLEASE!

It really is all about you. 

If you want more info, have questions, or just want to chat hit the button below and be whisked away to my coaching area where you can also send me a rad message.



Lightweight Accountability

Guidelines are magical. 

Making changes is about resilience and being able to bounce back into your goals. Having a rigid structure can be too brittle and have the propensity to break.

Now. Everything has a time and a place. Sometimes it makes perfect sense to be on a really, really, strict program like the the Whole 30 so you can actually FEEL a drastic difference. Having a clear cut program in this scenario can be super beneficial.

Also. Willpower. It is a real thing and we have it in limited supply. If you can make something a habit - i.e. I NEVER EAT BREAD - then it doesn't have to play on your willpower stores and you can use that resource for a more challenging situation later on!

My point is that rigid has a time and place.

Always being rigid often (not always) leads to a bad time. A time of going into completely the opposite direction and then feeling like crap because you did. 

So. Guidelines.

They allow you to stay on the rails, but not so strictly on the rails it becomes painful, fragile, and breakable.

I am ever so skilled at making everything precise and neat... 

I am ever so skilled at making everything precise and neat... 

What I love is a simple card system.

Take an index card.

Add a grid to it.

Select what you'd like to keep track of - this could be things you either want or don't want to do. 

For example: No Grains, No Dairy, or Meditate, Clean, etc. 

You choose what makes sense for you. Give yourself a check or an X every time you do or don't do the thing. It is super lightweight - no need to log detailed calories, macro-nutrient ratios, weights, etc. (which all have their time and place) this just serves as an easy accountability system.

Will you have that cookie in the breakroom?

Then you wouldn't get a check on your card. Your choice.

This is a gentle hand to help keep you in check, but not overly consumed by structure.