Hey I like you.
And I want to help you feel better EVERY day. Which is why I put together this August Special 60 Minute Nutritional Diagnostic.
Is it confusing to have a screenshot of the video up there? Inquiring minds want to know.
Check it, my vid on stress. It is a thing.
In this Tidbit Tuesday I talk about why sleep is pretty much step number #1 for becoming a superhero.
It's our beliefs that drive our behavior.
We may want things in life.
More money, better relationships, more sleep, to lose weight, a more active lifestyle, more down time... and so on.
But what do we believe we can achieve?
What do we believe we deserve?
It is important to visit these questions. If you don't truly believe you can change, or believe you deserve to change - you won't.
You guys! Chew. Chew. Chew. Because - you are what you absorb. AND Absorption, it starts in your mouth :D
Stress is what causes change, adaptation, growth.
But the way we achieve the latter is by having a break from the former.
We need recovery, rest, and the ability to breathe to benefit.
Which is why love is an antidote to stress. I am not talking about the romantic kind of love (though I am sure that also helps) I am talking about the love you give yourself.
Love of where you are, who you are, what you are - right here, right now. Allows the stress of being something different to dissipate.
It allows elasticity into your life.
It allows for grace.
The first step toward change is to allow for what is right now.
Which isn't always easy.
Back when I was transitioning between my old job and doing Brain Body Gut full time I committed to blogging each day.
I would get up with enough time before work to write a post.
I loved this activity because it helped me connect to what I was passionate about. It cleared my head and gave me focus. It made me excited to learn and grow and find my voice.
And my frequency of posting diminished.
There are a few reasons why.
One is that I want to put out valuable content which I need to gather my facts and do a bit of research. This takes time. I can't just hammer it out in a 60 minute time block.
Another is I have been toying around with morning routines. I love not touching a computer screen in the morning, doing a bit of breathing, taking my time to eat breakfast - but - this also takes time.
So. What to do?
Time is real.
And you need to pick and choose how you spend it.
This blog is important to me and I'd like posting to, once again, become habitual. To light me up. To inform me and you.
Which draws me back to the statement "I'd rather have done than perfect".
I am going to embrace that and post more.
When I have time I will do a deep drive on nutrition, but when I don't have time I will still post.
Sitting down and putting out content helps me figure out exactly what I am trying to say.
There is value in that.
So my friends if you're interested in something specific let me know.
Put it in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What barriers can you pull down to be more prolific?
The other day I was asked, "Why blueberries? They must means something to you."
And it is true, they do.
#1: Blueberries are awesome for the brain. A moderate amount has been shown to help with memory, cognitive function, and motor-control. Pah-POW!
#2: They are tasty. Great for a bit of sweetness, but without the crazy amounts of sugar. Add them to ANYTHING! I even put them in ground meat and spice it with cinnamon and allspice. YUM.
#3: They are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients. PHYTONUTRIENTS (!) they are helpers to vitamins and minerals needed to run your body, without these helpers your body is unable to make some very necessary conversions.
#4: Fiber. Blueberries pack a nice amount of fiber for their punch.
#5: Benefits for the whole body. There is a ton of research going on about all the benefits of blueberries and the impact they might have on cancer, heart health, and diabetes.
As with all food this is about balance and isn't a call to eat a crap ton of blueberries every day. Adding a moderate amount daily/weekly especially when they are in season would be a smart move.
Blueberries are rad and tasty, eat them.
There is the good and the bad of it. The good, for me, was that I was so so so utterly sick that I could. not. possibly. do anything.
And this is good?
For me yes. Because it meant I had no guilt for lying inert on my bed mainlining Netflix. There was simply nothing else I could possibly do. That was good.
The bad is that I felt awful.
That was less than optimal.
Let's get back to the good. I had an epiphany.
During the week of ill I did not (read: could not) work out.
After that week, I was think resume schedule per normal. Get back on it! Get it! Win it! And then I thought... HOLD THE PHONE... I don't need to do that AND I don't want to!
So. I am not going to!
I am actually going to LISTEN to my body and HEAR that it is still recouping and pushing it IS NOT THE WAY.
You guys. Epiphany.
I have a choice here.
Fitness and health are my jam, but I got a whole lifetime to move closer to my goals forcing me into a week where I don't really want to - for no real reason makes no sense. AND it could prolong how long it will take for me to get well so that also makes no sense.
So... consider. What do you have a choice in?
But then again it isn't.
The problem shows up in looking for the quick fix, the perfect diet, or the holy grail of food.
There is no perfect.
There is no diet that suits everyone.
And there is no magic food.
When first delving into understanding food better there is A LOT of conflicting information.
It can be paralyzing.
Fat is good. Carbs are bad.
Fat is bad. Carbs are good.
Protein is great.
Red meat will kill you.
Kale is a superfood.
Kale will kill you.
Lemon in water is excellent!
Lemon in water is terrible for your teeth.
AHHHG! It is maddening.
So. I might as well go eat Twinkies, and Skittles, and Fruit Loops, and Lunchables, and Fruitsnacks, and... EVERYTHING.
Highly processed refined foods are not the answer. This is something - in the vast world of nutrition - pretty much everyone can agree on.
As for the rest of it the body craves balance. Going too left (aka a million green kale smoothies all day er'yday) or going too right (aka all meat no veg all the time) is generally not the best place to land.
You will eat differently at different times in your life.
What you eat should be dictated by your needs and goals.
There are times when more restriction makes sense.
There are time when a therapeutic approach makes sense.
There are times when you can get away with indulging yourself.
And there are times when you cannot.
Figuring out what you need for specific weight loss goals, health concerns, and/or performance CAN be tricky and take time and experimentation to figure out (I can help you).
But, in broad strokes eating foods that are high quality, foods that are whole, avoiding refined grains and sugars MAKES A LOT OF SENSE and is something you can do if you'd like to push the pendulum toward health.
I like sleep.
I used to do more of the former and less of the latter.
I ran more because that is what you do.
That is what health is, bearing down on the thing you hate and doing it.
WHO'S WITH ME?!!
I'd put my running shoes on, trudge outside, pick a jam that might distract me from the misery, and I would... jog. Sigh. Not EVEN a runner, a jogger. Man it sucked.
And sleeping. Sleep is for the weak!
I have too much to do.
I am really busy.
IF I SLEPT I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO GET UP EARLY TO GET IN MY RUN AT THE ONLY TIME I CAN GET IN A RUN.
JEEZE PEOPLE. Do you not understand my life?
What if that sleep would do more benefit than that terrible awful run?
What if setting the alarm at a grueling time is doing more harm than good?
These were questions I had to figure out for myself.
I often hear people commend other people for getting barely any sleep, I hear contests of busyness, I hear people in awe their friends who crush the gym 7x per week.
What I commend is the person who is strong enough to listen to what the actually need.
To sleep when their bodies crave it.
To recover when their muscles beg for it.
To stop running if they hate it.
The people that really try to understand health and what that pursuit truly means.
That is what I find inspiring.
Quick distilled information. That's why!
So here you go I have refined for you THREE things you can do right now to kick more ass:
I've said it before. I will say it again. Take a moment to pause and look away from the thing you are doing (aka reading this) take a deep breath in, feel your belly expand, your shoulders expand, hold it one moment, and let it go for a count of 10. Good job.
There are so many ways to breathe, but just taking a deep breath like this will center your body and create a tangible force field of awesome around you. Don't believe me? Try it.
Bonus points for doing a cycle of five.
I know, super sexy.
Seriously though (after reading this), stop, think, what is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you could be doing RIGHT NOW? Got it?
Now do that thing. Shut all the everything else down and set a timer for 20 minutes. Use an app, use your phone, go analog and look at a clock. Just - at this moment - put 20 minutes of focused time on the thing you need to do.
Focus is like magic pixie dust. Enjoy.
You have probably seen the Upworthy or heard about random acts of kindness - or maybe not. No matter.
Your mission is to connect.
Be slightly vulnerable.
Make sure those out there know you care.
So pick someone you enjoy, someone you respect, someone who makes you smile, and drop them a line. Email will do, but can you imagine what getting an out of the blue physical card would be like in today's world?
Trees be damned* a card is pretty legit.
And there you have it my quick and dirty list of things YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW to uplevel your day.
*I kid, I love trees
A lot of us use this time to be a bit introspective, do a bit of reflection, and then think into the future.
What did you accomplish last year?
What did you WANT to accomplish last year?
What do you hope to do THIS year?
We all have goals.
You may not be the kind of person who makes resolutions, but I bet you have simple hopes and dreams... like staying healthy or successfully making it through the day.
So my question to you is do you want to change?
You might say, "Yes, Annette, I want to change. I'd like to have more energy, I'd like to loose 10 pounds, I'd like to think better, I'd like to be happier, I want to run more."
And I would say to you - do you believe you can change?
Having the want to change is one thing - but - believing you CAN change is the magic.
Sit down and think about it, what do you truly believe about yourself?
Then, what do you need to do to prioritize the thing you want to change?
It's kind of a big deal.
We know that sugar isn't a great choice.
We know that donuts are not a super food.
We know that cookies are not the key to longevity.
We know that candy isn't a vitamin.
We know all these things, but if you pay attention to the marketing it is easy to forget.
It is January and there is already Easter Candy in the stores. Whoa capitalism! Take the reigns!
We normalize the overconsumption of sugar to the point where WHO knows what is normal. We measure ourselves by the people around us.
She is skinny and had two cookies... so I am practicing restraint by having my one - OR - well my signf. other eats a bowl of ice cream EVERY NIGHT and I only have a half a scoop every other night, so that's good - OR - you're right commercial on tv I SHOULD treat myself.
We have awkward measuring sticks.
This year was the first year I stayed off all refined sugar for the holidays. No sugar, no flour, no chips, no corn tortillas, no candy, no baked goods. I did still have wine... and I also wrapped some dates in bacon (my specialty).
This is a big deal for me usually going home to Michigan AND holiday season means the ULTIMATE CHEAT MEAL STREAK! Pockets full of Peanut M&Ms, Peanut Butter M&Ms, AND! Reese's pieces (seriously, I put them in my pockets for easy snacking access, great combo). SO GOOD. SOO BAD. I wrote more about that in my first post "SUGAR, SUGAR, SUUUUGARRRRRRRR | PART 1".
So the question = how'd it go?
The answer = really well.
I did have moments of gazing longingly at things I could not have, but then the moment passed something else happened and I forgot.
The hardest time I have is when someone ELSE thinks I should be eating a treat and THEY feel put out by me NOT doing it.
This doesn't happen too often, but it does happen.
I was at my Uncle's house and he ALWAYS has candy out and about. My sisters and I were doing a quick visit and my Aunt and Uncle always like to have something out for you to nibble on (very hospitable). Unfortunately, all of the things out were not things I could eat - now this was okay - because after his house the plan was to make dinner BUT my Uncle really felt like I should be eating something.
And then he gestured again.
These types of situations are the tough. You want to do the socially normal thing. You want the person to know you appreciate their efforts, but this time my health was the priority.
Eventually he stopped gesturing, but as we were leaving he said "well I hope you are eating", I reassured him I eat plenty, and then he told me he was proud of me (which was nice).
Social situations are no joke.
The one thing that I think has been THE MOST beneficial during this time is the mindset of SUGAR IS NOT A CHOICE.
I am currently one week away from four months of eating this way and I am toying with the idea of keeping with it for all of 2015.
That seems huge.
I might keep that goal to myself... we shall see.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I have known about nutrition for a long time. What is surprising is how much there is still left to learn. So much!
You know how sometimes you hear something in a different way and it just LANDS?
You now GET what you have known in a way that actually affects you?
With that in mind I want to share with you a two points.
I just want you to THINK about them.
Let them sink in and understand what they mean.
I am curious to know how you might be impacted.
I was just at an onsite workshop for nutrition there were around 50 people in the room and the question was asked "how many of you have digestive problems?" - almost all the hands went up.
Which really has me reflecting on point one.
There is so much going on in digestion that it is literally blowing my mind. I KNEW having proper digestion was important, but I had no idea HOW big a deal it really really is. Soo many little pieces that can go sideways.
My first post was about the importance of chewing.
My second post was about the importance of stomach acid.
This post is mini-post on cellulite.
What I just learned is that cellulite formation is a symptom of poorly digested fat. When your body is not digesting properly the signals are not working properly. Which means that you don't produce the proper enzymes you need and the gallbladder isn't triggered to release the appropriate amount of bile.
And you NEED bile to fully break down fat.
When this does not occur fat can build up in the lymph system which is where it appears as cellulite on the body. Ah-mazing.
When we start getting digestion back on track the lymph can CLEAR UP and reduce the appearance of cellulite on the body.
That feel of acid warming the base of your esophagus as if to say HI! HOW ARE YOU! I EXSIST!
You might chalk it up to some spicy food you overindulged in (nachos ARE delicious) or it might just be a pretty normal occurrence for you.
"I AM CURSED," you might think and just reach for some Pepto or Tums or some other type of calming agent. Calm the acid cure the symptom. Rinse repeat.
But did you know that burn is often because of TOO LITTLE stomach acid rather than TOO MUCH?
What? I know.
So here is the deal. Continuing from my post of CHEWING YOUR FOOD. The next step in digestion is the stomach.
The stomach is a powerhouse that crushes food into tiny food bits so that it can go through the rest of the system and be optimally digested and utlized.
It is meant to be highly acidic in there so that it CAN break down your food.
You chew your food, it goes down the esophagus where it encounters the esophageal sphincter which opens up to permit the food inside (I know, I know "sphincter" what a word).
The food is now in the stomach. The stomach goes into action releasing a ton of different gastric juices from tiny gastric glands in the its lining. This breaks down the food even more and turns everything into a paste we call chyme.
When the chyme is acidic enough it triggers the pyloric sphincter to open up and allow the chyme through to the small intestines for further digestion (more on that later).
When you have LOW stomach acid this whole process goes sideways.
The food doesn't get fully digested from the acids so it sits in your stomach. What happens when you leave food in a warm place? Well. Not good things.
Proteins putrefy, fats go rancid, and carbs ferment.
This means that the mixture in your tummy starts to bubble up and though it IS NOT ACIDIC enough to trigger the lower sphincter to open it IS ACIDIC enough to burn your upper sphincter at the end of your esophagus.
Which is what you feel.
And then you take some sort of calming agent that DOES relieve the symptom, but doesn't help food to get to the level of acidity it needs to be to be in able to continue the digestive process.
This is bad news. The food eventually continues through the system, but not fully digested. Having protein putrefy produces acids that actually hurt the mucosal lining of your stomach which allows microorganisms such as h-pylori to exist.
This on a chronic level is terrible for your gut as h-pylori leads to ulcers. No one wants those.
Here is the thing. There are SOME people with legitimately too much stomach acid, but they are the anomaly. Much more common is to have too little.
I know! Crazy! But if you think about it, it really does make sense. You might want to check out this book "Why Stomach Acid is Good for You" if you are interested in learning more.
That said. It is really important.
Digestion begins in the brain. You see the food. You smell the food. You want the food and your body is like YEA FOOD!
And it begins to produce saliva (another gross word). This is GREAT! Salvia is a special cocktail of electrolytes, hormones, and enzymes (with names like salivary amylase).
We like the salvia because next up you put the food in your mouth. Which brings me to my earlier point.
This breaks down the food and it mixes with the salvia and the aforementioned salivary amylase which is fantastic at breaking down carbohydrates.
If you do not chew. You get big food chunks.
Big food chunks are bad because the rest of your system is not really meant to handle them.
And as your food chunks go down your system (next stop STOMACH) they are not fully being broken down. More enzymes are thrown at the chunks by the pancreas TO NO AVAIL!
Why is this bad?
The moral of the story. Pause, slow down, chew, and enjoy your food. For me. Because I wrote this post with words I hate. Because I love you. Because this is important.
MORE TO COME ON DIGESTION and ACID REFLUX... get excited.
Sure. I know chips aren't the best. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know that processed food isn't ideal. But c'mon I am living a life. I work out most days. I don't drink soda. So that's good right?
I am all for people enjoying their lives, but do you know why nutrition is so important?
It is how you feed your body.
And, your body is made up of cells.
You are feeding the cells, which make up the tissues, which make up the organs, which make up systems, which make up you.
Your cells NEED certain nutrients to FUNCTION.
This is why what you eat IS so important, let me take you on a journey...
First up we have up we have:
Next we have:
And you know, this doesn't sound SO bad, but then:
Okay so the wheels are beginning to go, but WAIT, there's more!
Yikes, sounds like buckets of no fun, next:
Which leads to:
And now you the human begin to notice:
And finally we take you to:
This ALL starts from nutrition, which is why I find nutrition fascinating and which is why it is TRULY the foundation of what creates you.