How much water did you drink today?

This was the question I asked three of my fellow colleagues at work the other day. So how much did they drink? Let’s just say their response led me to take immediate action and write this blog post. I dedicated this post to their H2O health, cheers!

Staying properly hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your health; it’s right up there with getting more exercise and sleep. Water boosts energy levels, lowers stress, supports muscle growth, nourishes your skin, strengthens your immune system, regulates digestion, reduces kidney stones, and can be your secret weapon in mitigating bad hangovers 🙂 Oh and most importantly, it keeps you alive! Did you know that without water we can’t survive more than a few days? It is more detrimental to our survival than food, which we can actually go weeks without. How many weeks? Well if you’re Gandhi, about 3 weeks. He survived 21 days of total starvation while only allowing himself sips of water, but others have made it even longer, anywhere from 28-40 days.

Up to 60% of the human adult body is water, the brain and heart are about 75% water, lungs 83%, skin 64%, muscles and kidneys 79%, and even our bones are watery at 31%. A mere 2% drop in our body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as a computer screen. Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. An estimated 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. Yikes! Hopefully that’s not you. I think you get my point by now…water is ridiculously important.

How much should you drink?

You’ve heard of the standard rule of drinking eight glasses a day. This is actually a good metric, BUT, please remember this is eight 8-ounce glasses, and all fluids count towards your daily total, yes even certain foods. So, go with this rule instead: “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day.” Another helpful metric is one cup for every 20 pounds of body weight.

However, one’s water needs depends on other factors as well, so eight 8-ounce glasses might not be enough. What other factors you ask? Well, do you exercise, fly, drink coffee/tea (or anything with caffeine), enjoy a glass of wine at night, and maybe a few cocktails during the week? Do you live in hot and humid climates, or were you in the sun all day? Did you go the day with very little fruits and vegetables? Have you been eating salty, sugary, or fried foods? If you answered yes to any of these, then you need to be taking in more water. Of course there are also medical conditions and factors to consider, but I’m covering water basics for the average Joe (or Joan). Here are a few facts and tips to help you determine your daily water needs:

  • Flying dehydrates you. Drink 1 cup of water for every 1-hour in flight.
  • Caffeine is a diuretic. Balance 1 cup of coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverage (e.g., coke) with 1 cup of water.
  • Alcohol is a diuretic too! Drink 1 cup of water with every alcoholic beverage.
  • Your body is a great indicator. Thirst, weakness, fatigue, reddened skin and dry mouth are all signs that you need to consume more water, regardless of how much caffeine you ingest.
  • Use visual analysis to determine whether you’re well hydrated. Use this chart.

Alright, now you know the basics, so “water” you waiting for? Get to hydrating!

And I’m out,

Peace sign
Ida

What to do when you see weed

No, not the plant kind 😉 I mean the sea kind! So, usually when I see seaweed, I buy and eat it, but I recently discovered disturbing ingredients in mainstream seaweed salad, which sparked my interest. Unfortunately, these ingredients make their way into other sushi dishes as well. This a big bummer…

I really like seaweed. It has whole host of benefits. I personally like the taste, but I also like that it makes my belly feel better, and provides me with a big punch of calcium. I hardly eat any dairy, so this is a big benefit for me. I feel cleansed and balanced, which is due to its toxic fighting and neutralizing properties.

So, here is the bad news. Mainstream seaweed salad (and other sushi ingredients), have several chemicals and additives, most notably food dyes. In the case of seaweed salad, you will find blue #1 (which has caused brain cancer in lab animals), and yellow #5 (which has the strongest link to severe allergic reactions). Furthermore, food dyes have been linked to numerous social and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents.

So what you thought was healthy, may not be. You can tell by simply looking at the food. Is it very bright green? Almost neon looking? Turns out, many restaurants and stores order their seaweed salad (and other products) in bulk from distribution companies who then deliver it pre-made. You can read about scary sushi ingredients here. I suppose I should have known there was food coloring, but I didn’t think about it until I read the back of the container.

Speaking of, this is a great example of how companies strategically call-out benefits on the front of packaging, while minimizing more harmful facts on the back (or bottom, or side).

So will I continue to eat seaweed salad and sushi? Yes, but I am going to be extra careful about where I eat and where I buy from. I would recommend asking the restaurant or store about the ingredients in their sushi.

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

Could death from drug resistance be solved through food?

I was browsing through twitter last weekend, and saw the headline “Drug resistance deadlier than cancer by 2050.” I thought I would read something about how our dependence on drugs may not be quite as dependable as we thought. So, this is sort of true.

The resistance in the article pertains specifically to antimicrobial drugs, which help to fight off infections such as strains of E. coli, malaria, and tuberculosis to name a few. However, antibiotics are also used as part of many medical treatments, like hip replacements, Caesarean sections, and chemotherapy. Drug resistance is estimated to have caused about 700,000 deaths this year, and at this rate would cause 10 million by 2050. Yikes!

Not sure what actions will be taken, but I have a potential solution. How about the rice diet? Joking slightly, but I actually learned about a Japanese man (George Ohsawa) that fought off both tuberculosis and malaria through rice and diet. Some of you may have heard of Ohsawa and macrobiotics, the diet he pioneered. No, I am NOT recommending we all start following the macrobiotic diet. My point is that the answer could and likely does lie in what we eat, including where it’s sourced and how it’s processed.

2050 is quite a ways away, so I hope we come up with some good solutions to this deadly issue fairly soon. In the meantime, you can take matters into your own hands and keep your immune system strong by eating smart.

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

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
Ida

How often are you in the sun? You neeD to know.

Upon returning to the east coast, I knew an inevitable problem was awaiting my welcome. While the rest of the world was freezing and worried about travel to and from work, frozen crops, impacts on the economy, and so forth, I sat contemplating about what I was going to do without my precious sunshine.  I’m not that obsessed with the sun, but there is a very particular reason why I happened to care now more than I ever. Recently, there’s been a lot in the news / media regarding people’s deficiency of a certain vitamin. Can you guess which one? Obviously, it’s linked to the sun. Okay, fine I will tell you. It’s called Vitamin D. It’s pretty much the only vitamin I know of that you can get for free. How? By simply exposing your skin to the sun!!! Before you get too excited, getting the necessary sun time isn’t as easy as it sounds, hence my concern.

Yes, you heard correctly, the basis of my worries was my intake of Vitamin D. Some of you don’t even know whether you get the proper amount of Vitamin C let alone Vitamin D, and that’s okay. But now it is time to pay attention because Vitamin D can be just as detrimental to your immune system and health as Vitamin C.

Sunlight is the cheapest form of this crucial vitamin, and it’s the best, most natural source of it too (as opposed to taking it through a pill for example). That said, sunlight in moderation people…this is not a good excuse to layout for hours. You only need about 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight exposure about 3 times a week (unless you are darker skinned, in which case you need 2-3x more…sorry). By direct exposure, I mean there can be nothing coming in between your skin and the sun – no windows, no sunscreen, no clothes, no people, etc. So pick a body spot (e.g., legs) and let the exposure begin!

Why my sudden attention to Vitamin D? I didn’t care much until moving to the east coast, and became particularly intrigued after a conversation with one of my close friends here. I was feeling a bit un-Ida-like (i.e., not quite myself) for some reason, and she asked me about my Vitamin D intake. I looked at her and said, “Whatchyu talkin bout girl?” I’m usually the nutrition freak of the two of us, so I was a bit surprised when she asked me this. Long story short, apparently there is a link to sunlight, vitamin D, and mood. So when your Vitamin D levels are down, you may be too, or you may be up and down. For those of you thinking…wait, is that really true?!? Well, the verdict’s still out on this one, but a ton of research is being done, and studies are showing some pretty convincing evidence. Here’s a recent article I read regarding VD and mood linkage.

Why should you care about Vitamin D? For those of you who prefer weak bones, a poor immune system, frequent colds, higher risk of cancer, and getting older faster, then perhaps you shouldn’t care, and you may want to stop reading here. For everyone else, below are just a few of the wonderful health benefits, and nice video to really scare you into taking Vitamin D 😉

Vitamin D Health Benefits:

  • Builds strong bones and prevents osteoporosis
  • Boosts immune function and fights off colds
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes healthy neuro-muscular function
  • Protects against colon, prostate, breast, and endometrial cancers
  • Slows the aging process

Where does one acquire Vitamin D? There are 3 primary sources: sun, food, and pill. For more information on sources, I am going to point you to my friend’s blog, but before doing so, I’d like you to read on.

How much do you need? For those of you who like to see exact numbers click here. Notice calcium intake requirements are listed too. I will talk more about why this is important at the end. Basically, you need about 1,000 IU a day, but as always it depends on other factors too. It’s confusing, I know, but I would just aim for 1,000 IU or more per day to be safe. That said, I’m not a doctor, so consult with yours to determine the right amount for you.

Did you say IOU or IU? I said IU. How are you to understand and calculate IU’s? It’s a bit annoying, agreed, but put in a little effort, and in no time it will be easy peasy. Here are some helpful options to make the process as painless as possible. I usually rely on the % listed on the ingredients label and try to hit 100% for the day. I found the chart below, and it provides a great guide and example for those of you looking for specific food examples. With supplements, you can usually follow the recommended intake on the back of the bottle (e.g., 1 capsule with food 1-2 times daily), or match your required IU intake with the IU amount per capsule on the bottle. Finally, when it comes to Vitamin D from the sun, I already told you (so scroll up and read again).

VDfood

What’s my go-to-source? Well, sun is obviously number 1 on my list, but that’s clearly not always an option. At the moment my sources are:

  • Fortified Tofu – gotta read the label to be sure it is fortified with Vitamin D though, because not all tofu are created equal
  • Salmon
  • Mushrooms bathed in the sun – again, you have to check to see if the mushrooms have been exposed to the sun, otherwise they may have no or very little Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D3 supplements – the pill is pretty much my primary right now, as it’s easy to carry around and swallow when I’m on the go. I am not a fan of supplements, but in this case, it’s better than no Vitamin D at all.

Alright, at this point you are likely thoroughly overwhelmed, but I must leave you with two last things…

First, you need be sure to balance Vitamin D with Calcium – both of these suckers are critical to strong bones. They are one another’s yin and yang. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium in order to build and maintain our bones.

Second, the salmon you are eating may not be a good source of Vitamin D. There is some debate, and a lot of research out there regarding this question. Ultimately, the answer relies on how the fish is caught, fed, and raised. Wild caught salmon is the best (that goes for any fish really), but other kinds may have very little Vitamin D. That all said, I would totally eat salmon, regardless of its Vitamin D levels, because it has a whole host of other mind-boggling health benefits, but I’ll save that discussion for another time.

Should you desire more depth and detail, please visit my friend’s blog. He’s got the science behind a lot of this, as well as more information on Vitamin D sources and how Vitamin D can improve athletic performance.

For the first time I think I may understand why they decided to call SunnyD, SunnyD.

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida

Do you know your Dosha? How to eat, exercise and live for your Dosha.

vpk_lotus1

My Dosha is Pitta-Kapha…holllaaa to all my PK’s out there. Don’t worry, one Dosha is not better than the other, but Pitta-Kapha is of course the best ;). Although there are three primary doshas, they can be combined to arrive at ten different body and behavioral types. So you may have one prominent dosha, or two, or you may be what they call a tri-doshi. Mine is a two-dosha type (Pitta + Kapha).

Okay, at this point I expect you to be royally confused. So please continue reading and take a moment to take the test. Yippee a Quiz! There are a few quizzes out there, but I found this one to be the most accurate.

What on earth is a Dosha? Think of it as your mind and body personality type. For those of you who are familiar with personality assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), this is sort of like that, but it’s about your medicinal type. According to Ayurvedic medicine an individual is determined by a combination of the three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – which informs one’s health, propensity for certain diseases, cure for any disease, and other fascinating health insights. It is the combination of these three doshas that makes a person different and peculiar from others. Yeah, it may sounds a bit kooky and out there for some, but it’s always interesting to know a bit more about your self in order to find what fits you best from a health and lifestyle perspective.

Let’s say I was interested in this whole dosha thing, why should I be? Aside from sounding really cool when you walk up to someone and tell them your dosha, here are a few other reasons:

  • Helps you know your body and its requirements
  • Helps you maintain optimal health
  • Helps you maintain a good and balanced personal, family and professional life
  • Helps you to plan your lifestyle according to the requirements of your body
  • Helps you plan a balanced diet
  • Helps you to know how an imbalance is likely to occur in yourself (and take steps to prevent or mitigate it)

I actually found my assessment results to be quite interesting and accurate. I learned why certain things I currently do make me feel anxious, tired or unfocused at times. I also learned why some things I practice in my life (e.g., eating my largest meal in the early afternoon versus in the early morning) work for me, while not for others.

Another thing I like about doshas is the tie to one’s taste buds. I have always found certain tastes more palatable than others (such as bitter and astringent foods), and also find certain foods make me feel calmer and more energetic. The foods tied to my dosha turn out to be the foods I tend to desire and that make me feel good on the inside and out. Coincidence? I think not. Read about the six tastes, and see which ones you have the greatest preference for, and whether they tie to your dosha. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to change things up, and introduce some new foods and tastes into your life.

Speaking of change…if you are interested in determining whether your current lifestyle sustains and nurtures a balanced mind-body state, and potentially making modifications, then I recommend this website and test.

Enjoy, and let me know what dosha type you get please! Especially if you get Pitta-Kapha 🙂

And I’m out,
Peace sign
Ida