Subsidize healthier foods? Interesting thought…I like it.

Interesting and informative short video about why corporations produce and sell junk food, and how we – as U.S. taxpayers — are supporting this (unknowingly or not). Begs the question: What if billions in tax dollars were invested in healthier options rather than junk options?

Well, if today corporations are incentivized by low production costs and high profit margins as a result of subsidies for products in junk foods (e.g., sugar, corn syrup, meat, dairy) , then why wouldn’t they be just as incentivized by subsidies for products in healthier foods (e.g., vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains)? I know it’s much easier said than done, and all sorts of politics are at play here, BUT I still think it’s worth a shot. I say, let’s do a little experiment and see what happens.

And I’m out,
Peace sign


Overcoming Fear of ANYTHING.

Full-disclosure. I heavily borrowed from an article by Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. for this post. But, her focus was on overcoming fear of love, and I took from it insights about all aspects of life, not just love. So, I am cutting, pasting, modifying, rephrasing, and editing the hell out of the article to point out what I (selfishly) think you may find inspiring and intriguing.

Let’s Back-it-up for One Moment:

I know this seems a bit outside of the whole “fit bit” theme, but let me ask you this: Is it really? Don’t think too hard, the answer is no. Health and wellness is comprised of many things, from emotions to finances to the environment in which we live (see diagram below).

So in writing and sharing this with all of you, I am hitting at other aspects of wellness (e.g., spiritual, social, and intellectual), which I believe are enablers of “physical” wellness. In other words, eating and exercising are extremely beneficial and helpful, but if you forget about other factors (i.e., work life, social life, purpose in life, etc.), you aren’t truly “fit.”

health and wellness graphic

Here we go…starting with the WHAT

(1) Recognize that we all have fears.

“Many of us feel cheated or victimized by circumstances, while failing to see that our biggest obstacle is how we get in our own way.”

Ummmmm I don’t know about you, but I do this way too often. On most days, I just want to tell myself, “move girl, get out the way, get out the way girl, get out the way.” (slightly modified words from singer Ludacris).

(2) In any relationship, the only person you can control is thyself.

“You have the power to decide who you want to be and to act in accordance with that, no matter what others do or say.”

I take two things from this. The first piece is the ability to manage what you want to do in a certain moment with what you should do in that moment, AND being able to anticipate the impact of your actions on you and those around you. What you say or do has consequences. We all know this, yet we have moments of weakness where we lose control or act in ways we are not proud of. It happens, and there is no guarantee it won’t happen again, but notice what occurs when you do control yourself in those instances. Self-control can be quite powerful and empowering. For instance, even when someone makes him/herself outright annoying or hateable, don’t cave! Maintain composure, and challenge yourself to smile and seek out the good in that person – at least in that moment.

The second piece is remembering to always stay true to who you are and want to be. It’s silly, but I frequently ask myself, “What would Ida do?” or “What should Ida do.” I value advice from others, and always ask for it, but tailor that advice to me – who I am and who I aspire to be.

(3) Take time to reflect on how you may be resisting and countering what you say you want.

 “By being open to how you are resistant to achieving what you say you want, you empower yourself to change fully.”

Look at your past situations and relationships, even the not so great ones; they teach us a whole lot. Seek to understand your fears, ways you limit yourself, and so forth. Be honest! Doing so will grow your capacity to overcome any circumstance you encounter.

Taking action…providing the HOW

Now, I am no role model when it comes to the items below. Let’s be honest, very few of us are. But I pledge to try harder, and that is the ultimate point of me sharing this. It is to remind you, me (and Dupree) to actively do these things.

(1) Look at your past – What are stumbling blocks you’ve faced? Where did things go wrong? What ways might you be pushing/have pushed people or situations away?

Identify the thoughts or “critical inner voices” that filled your head on these occasions. This helps you to recognize themes and recurring behaviors and begin to identify patterns. We can see how our own defenses systematically operate to ward off love and support.

Differentiate your past from your present to understand how the past influences the present. By doing so you can put your emotions and projections back where they belong, in the past. Often we bring past moments into a current moment, and really they ain’t got no business being there.

(2) Stop listening to your inner critic – Look out for that little voice in your head that feeds you information like, “She doesn’t really care about you. Don’t be a fool. Get moving before you really get hurt, it’s not worth it. You can’t do this, so don’t even try.” Think about how this critical inner voice coaches you to avoid feeling vulnerable.

Perhaps you want to explore the pain and difficulty, as there may be a lesson awaiting you on the other side. Perhaps “she (or he) does care and you weren’t a fool”, or maybe she doesn’t and you were; well, now you know better for next time. Maybe waiting and being open to getting hurt taught you to trust your gut and intuition. Or, maybe it taught you that getting hurt is a common and normal feeling everyone goes through, and that the feeling(s) will pass and ultimately lead to future good (i.e., what happened sucked, but ended up working out better in the end).

“Breaking from your inner critic will rouse anxiety, but it poses a battle well worth fighting. Powering through this anxiety and refuting your inner critic at every turn will allow you to uncover and become your truest self.”

(3) Challenge your defenses – Why do we revert to our defenses even when they may make us feel lonely or unfulfilled? I get it, we are trying to protect ourselves from potentially getting hurt, or what might happen, but I’ve found that doing so tends to backfire in the end. Key words here are “potential” and “might.” Yes, you may enter dangerous territory and unpleasant feelings, or you may not. Or, you may feel some pain, and shortly thereafter some joy. Regardless I would argue that our defenses aren’t “protecting us” as much as we may think, and in fact probably holding us back. Dr. Firestone points out that:

“It may have felt threatening, even dangerous, to open up to someone as a child or show our feelings in our family, but these same defenses are no longer constructive to us in our current relationships.”

True dat. In others words, you are a grown up now, time to get past childish behaviors. Maintaining such an attitude will make it hard to accept loving feelings that are extended to you today.

(4) Feel your feelings – I sort of like this one as written, so I’ll leave it as is. The message conveyed here reminds me of one of my favorite songs by the Lumineers, Stubborn Love, and the line “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all.”

“We’re all familiar with the expression, “Love makes us feel alive,” and it’s one cliché that’s entirely true. Love makes us feel. It deepens our capacity for joy, passion and vitality. However, it also makes us more susceptible to pain and loss. Falling in love can remind us of previous hurts. It can awaken us to existential realities. Unfortunately, we can’t selectively numb our feelings. When we try to avoid pain, we subdue joy and love.

Caring deeply for another person makes us feel more deeply in general. When these emotions arise, we should be open to feeling them. We may worry that strong feelings will overpower us or take over our lives, but in truth, feelings are transitory if we don’t try to block them. For example, sadness comes in waves, and when we allow ourselves to feel it, we also open ourselves up to feeling a tremendous amount of joy.

I recently heard the comedian Louis C.K. perfectly and succinctly capture this point in an anecdote on late night talk show, saying, “Sadness is poetic. You’re lucky to live sad moments… Because when you let yourself feel sad, your body has antibodies, it has happiness that comes rushing in to meet the sadness.” Sadness can be a good sign that we are more open and vulnerable. Similarly, anxiety can be a sign that we are changing or developing ourselves in ways that will positively impact our lives.”

(5) Be vulnerable and open. Being vulnerable is a mark of strength, not weakness. It means ignoring the voices in your head and acting on how you really feel. When you do this, you learn that you can survive, even when you get hurt. You’ll be able to live with more honesty and possibility, knowing that you’ve stayed yourself, even when the world around you wasn’t perfect.

Staying yourself doesn’t mean getting set in your ways or closing off to new experiences. Being vulnerable means just the opposite – a willingness to be open to new people and to breaking old patterns. Follow what you feel, all the while finding strength in the knowledge that no one else controls your happiness, you do. You can avoid falling victim to the outside world and to your own inner critic by continuing to act with integrity, dropping your defenses to become your real self.

Yes, we may get hurt along the way by the shortcomings in others, but it’s important to note that, as adults, we are resilient. When we open ourselves up to love or ANYTHING for that matter, we create the world we live in. Real love radiates out and is supported by and extended to others. Its contagious effects are likely to reflect back on us, filling our lives with meaningful interactions and relationships. As this occurs, life is sure to feel more precious, but isn’t that the idea?

And I’m out,
Peace sign

How to be Insanely Inhuman.

For you gentlemen out there that are always on the go, looking for ways to improve energy, mental agility, and overall physique. Maybe try Tim Cook’s strategy? I like to think paragraph 2 is a result of paragraph 1:

Cook demonstrated the same level of austerity and discipline in his life as he did in his work. He woke up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. and hit the gym several times a week. He ate protein bars throughout the day and had simple meals like chicken and rice for lunch.

His stamina was inhuman. He could fly to Asia, spend three days there, fly back, land at 7 a.m. at the airport and be in the office by 8:30, interrogating someone about some numbers.

The full article is interesting, and doesn’t have to do with health and fitness. But, leave it to me to find the health and fitness aspect of the story.

And I’m out,
Peace sign

Need an energy boost? One mineral, pronounced: Mag Knee Zee Yum

A few months ago I became extra curious about the mineral Magnesium (Mg) for two reasons: a family member asked me how to get more into his diet, and a friend asked me why it’s good for you. I honestly didn’t know and didn’t care much, but for family and friends I make it my business to care. I love food and fitness related questions, because they are what spark my interest and grow my knowledge. Turns out, it was about time I learned about Mg.

What I did know is that like almost all vitamins and minerals, it definitely has an important function that our body needs to remain fit and fueled. What I learned is that Mg does exactly that…it literally “fuels” us with energy. When we have no magnesium in our bodies we have no energy. Your body not only needs Mg, but it needs it all day, every day, at each and every moment. Yeah, it’s sort of amazing and annoying like that. There’s no skimping on this guy. You neglect to let Mg into your life, and you will feel the consequences. What are these consequences? The most common side effects include: fatigue, anxiety, twitchy muscles, irritability, and constipation. Sound like you? Well, you may be in need of Mg.

So how do you get magnesium? Borrowing from Dr. Oz “If you really want to have high energy levels all day long, the best way to get it is through FOOD.” Love when people reaffirm the food is fuel mantra. For those of you wondering whether your daily multivitamin will do the trick, it helps, but will not give you optimal results in the way that food does.

What are some of the best foods sources? Here are a few to get you started: Halibut, Edamame, Brown Rice, Avocado, Nuts & Seeds (e.g., Almonds, Brazil Nuts, and Pumpkin Seeds), Bananas, Oatmeal, Quinoa, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Lentils, and Spinach. Check out this fun slide show on good sources of Mg, which also includes additional health facts and benefits about each of the foods. This Magnesium Rich Foods Chart is also an awesome reference.

Looking for fast results? I have some goods news. Incorporate Mg-rich foods into your diet, and in 1 week and you will start to feel better! If you don’t believe me, then please prove me wrong.

And I’m out,
Peace sign

12 Lifestyle Habits that Improve Health & Extend Life

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 2.03.49 PM

I couldn’t help but laugh at how simple and unsurprising this list is, and yet how difficult it is to do almost each and every one of these. Why? Many reasons. Most are within your control, some are not, and almost all of them are just tough to do. It takes work, ugh. But that is no excuse…nothing good comes easy.

I will dole out a morsel of sympathy, and acknowledge that our environment makes it really hard to do these things, even when you do your best to be mindful and intentional about incorporating healthy habits into your life. Stuff happens, goals change, the environment changes, you change.

I proactively do my best to check-off items on this list (except for #12), but like everything else, I have to prioritize certain things over others depending on the moment, day, week, or month.

Print it, post it, and see if you can check-off at least a few of these each day or month :)

And I’m out,
Peace sign

Stand up…right now…no, really, get up!

As I STOOD to read for one of my classes, I felt compelled to share what I came across. I try to keep things short, but get excited and right more than I intend to. Sorry peeps…

New research indicates that excessive sitting throughout most days of the week is a “deadly proposition.” People who spend most of the day sitting are cancelling out the health benefits obtained through physical activity and exercise. Oh shizzz…this means if you are not active, not moving or working, and you are partaking in inactive actions for most of the day, then you are at a deficit, and swiftly decreasing your lifespan. Sorry, I know it’s morbid, but it’s the truth. The more you sit the greater death debt you collect…not good.

Even worse, there is now a disease name for this way of life. It is called hypokinetic disease, and it is becoming an increasingly greater cause of death and illness in the US. Hypokinetic disease refers to physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyle. So now we not only have an obesity epidemic, but also a sedentary epidemic. Wonderful.

So what’s the solution? It’s no secret, and you’ve heard it more times than you care to – you have to be active and exercise. I admit it does require effort and energy, and it is much easier said than done. Many of us can’t find the motivation to exercise, or have almost no time to fit in a workout, or would rather prioritize sleep over working out. Trust me, I get it. I have been exercising my entire life, and do so almost every morning, and still feel as if someone threw a rock at my face when I get up for my workout. I just tell myself to get out of bed, put on my gym clothes, and do what I can for the day, even if it’s no more than a 5 minutes walk or jog. 99% of the time I end up going from 5 to 20+ minutes of cardio. For me, the hardest part is starting.

Overtime, I have come to realize that people put a lot of pressure on themselves when it comes to exercise. We tend to discount the advantages of doing a few minutes of activity throughout the day. Yes, more is better, and research shows how beneficial moderate to intense activity and exercise (i.e., activities that really get your heart pounding) is for the human brain and body, BUT I would argue that doing nothing at all is far worse than doing something, even if it does end up being a 5 minute walk.

What happened? How did we get here? Well, the human body was created for movement and activity, and back in the hunter-gatherer days this wasn’t really an issue. Throughout time we have turned into a sitting society. It’s a result of several things, which I won’t get into, but here we are today. Americans spend half their waking hours sitting. Think about it for a minute – we sit at home; we sit while driving to and from work; we sit at the office and in meetings; we sit at dinner; we sit while watching TV; and then we sit to sleep. Sleep is more of a lay than a sit I suppose, unless you find yourself catching z’s in a plane, train, or car; all of which actually happen to be popular sleep spots for many of us nowadays.

There is some good news to balance out this disappointing information…THINGS ARE SLOWLY CHANGING. As we learn more, and recognize the adverse affects of seemingly harmless day-to-day actions, new ideas and innovations have entered our world from workplace contraptions (e.g., standing desks) to “walk and talk” meetings. However, none of these are replacements for moderate to intense physical activity. You’ve got to get that heart rate up! Maybe take the stairs more often? Or sprint from the parking lot to your desk? I joke, but this is actually a serious issue. It’s so important for humans to be active, exercise, and move. Here are a few facts and figures for those of you who are more data-driven:

  • Studies indicate that people who spend most of their day sitting have as much as a 50% greater risk of dying prematurely from all causes and an 80% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
  • Data further indicate that death rates are still high for people who spend most of their day sitting, even though they meet the current minimum moderate-physical activity recommendation (30 minutes, at least 5 times per week).
  • Excessive sitting leads to weak muscles, a sluggish central nervous system, increased fatigue, decreased insulin sensitivity, higher blood pressure, decreased activity of lipoprotein lipase (an enzyme that breaks down fats in the blood), and increased cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
  • A major contributor to back pain is excessive sitting, which causes back muscles to shorten, stiffen, and become weaker.

I am notoriously known for my incessant standing. I actually started standing because my legs cramped one day at work, and I just couldn’t handle sitting any longer. Now, I know the health benefits too, which is even greater incentive for me to stand. I never intended on becoming a professional stander, but it happened, and I quickly noticed that I felt better and more alert when I stood or paced around. It also improved my concentration and work productivity. I can’t sit still for long as it is, and standing not only calms me, but also helps me stay focused.

Last tid bit…Want to know something neat? There is actually a term for daily activities that expend energy not related to exercise and the acronym is called NEAT (stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis). There are many good, easily doable recommendations, from standing while working and talking on the phone, to taking a 10-minute break every hour to stretch and walk around, to parking further away. Find whatever works for you, but do something that gets you up more during the day.

And I’m out,
Peace sign