Author: Brenda Sue

Curb Cravings!

Equal Opportunity Tormentor

Most people think that only women have food cravings. While men and women do tend to crave different foods, both fight this battle. Men tend to crave more savory foods and women tend to crave high fat, sugary desserts. An excess of calories is equally detrimental to both since it results in too much body fat, so it’s important to understand how we can curb those cravings.

There are different schools of thought regarding the causes of food cravings, including physical and psychological needs. It’s only logical that stress can make us crave simple carbs in the form of cake, cookies and other sugary desserts. When we are stressed out, our bodies produce cortisol, an adrenaline-linked hormone that makes us able to do amazing things. Because we have this energy producing hormone raging in our bloodstream all the time, when we live with chronic stress, we will crave sugar because it’s a quick source of calories that are easily utilized by our bodies. The stress-induced cortisol release demands fuel, and our brain causes us to go for the quickest, most concentrated form of energy available. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, that’s sugar.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

(Try this healthy pumpkin pie at the link below!)

Sugar Free Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler – David’s Way to Health and Fitness (davidsway.blog)

While there may be nutritional deficiencies that drive some cravings, that is probably not the case very often. Memories that link desserts to comfort, security and love are able to induce cravings for favorite desserts from our childhood. Good times and good friends gathered around the dinner table with the highlight of the evening being dessert, program our minds that we have to have dessert to enjoy life. When we’re feeling lonely or blue, dessert will seem like the answer to everything.

Photo by K8 on Unsplash

Some people always want a “reason” to crave sweets. The most obvious answer to this dilemma is the simple truth that we are born with a preference for the sweet taste. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t like something sweet. Since I don’t eat sugar, I don’t crave sweets but I do like the taste of a Brown Swerve sweetened , steamy bowl of oats with flax, chia and hemp seeds. I use “no sugar added” water enhancers to flavor full-fat Greek yogurt because it cuts the natural tartness of the yogurt and imparts a sweet fruity flavor.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

We don’t need a reason to crave something. I believe that most of the time the origin of our cravings is the simple fact that we like it. I worked in a hospital nursery one time. We were told that babies would never want plain water again after they tasted the sugar water that they were given shortly after birth. That was true. I well remember the little guys turning their heads away from plain water once they had tasted the sugar water. Before they had tasted it, they greedily drank water like it was the most wonderful thing in the world. Sugar changed that. They would cry for the sugar water as if they craved it. Sugar lights up the same parts of the brain as some addictive drugs, and theirs had been lit. The pattern of addiction was set.

Salt builds feel-good neurotransmitters and crunchy food is supposed to be a frustration/anger release valve. Whatever the reasons for food cravings, one thing is clear. In order to be healthy, we must learn how to prevent them, keep them to a minimum or to cope with them when they hit. Decreasing stress in our lives is imperative. We teach “Make Your World Small.” This is the act of removing people from our lives that have a negative impact on us. Living in “Drama Central” 24/7 will destroy our health in many ways. Increases in unhealthy food cravings is just one of them.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

Just Say “No!” to Cravings

We also teach eating 0 added sugar. Sometimes people’s eyes bug out when they hear that, but sugar is a powerfully addictive substance. I will not engage in argument about this because I have lived it, and seen hundreds of others who live with this disabling addiction. As previously stated, sugar lights up the brain just like illegal, and legal, drugs that impart euphoria. Our brain wants to repeat that cycle so we crave it again and again. Add the predisposition to liking the taste of sugar to the mix and you have a dangerous situation when you indulge in sweets. That habit alone can destroy your health. To avoid sweet cravings, don’t eat sugar! It’s that simple. For a while, it will be hard but the day will come, IF you abstain completely, that you don’t crave it anymore. If you have been diagnosed with anything that your doctor believes would benefit from sugar, this is not true for you, but that is rare. We do not address any medical condition. We are talking strictly about cravings in a healthy person. ALWAYS see your physician before beginning any weight loss program.

 

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Ways to Control Cravings!

A common mistake is going without eating. When we don’t eat enough, our blood sugar will fall and we will begin to crave a quick, concentrated source of calories. If you skip breakfast, don’t expect to be able to fend off the office food pusher. Doughnuts, coffee cake and cupcakes will seem like the answer to all of your problems when your stomach is empty and you’re starving. A bowl of oats takes about 5 minutes to prepare. Better yet, make overnight oats. A cup of full-fat yogurt with 0 added sugars will  make a filling mid-morning snack. Don’t go around hungry!

I write a lot from personal experience. People may argue with scientific data, but when that data is combined with real-life experience, it’s hard to ignore. Since I have waged the war of health and fitness my entire life, I have learned a few things. If I eat ANY simple carbs in the form of added sugars or refined grains, I have cravings. I will also be hungry when I shouldn’t be according to the number of calories that I am eating. The science backs up my experience. These foods cause variations in insulin that trigger hunger and cravings. Stick to a healthy diet with NO added sugars or refined grains if you want to live free of cravings. Whether you agree or believe that or not is irrelevant. Those simple carbs have the ability to sabotage your best intentions. Try avoiding those foods and see the difference!

Sometimes it’s necessary to overhaul our friends list. If you associate with people who continually tempt you with your trigger foods, you need to realize that they are not your friends. They are people who are accustomed to having you around and you think that you can’t live without. The unfortunate truth is, if you continually associate with people who affect your health in a negative way, you cannot live WITH them. There are many people who have gone to the grave because of bad influences in their lives. We tend to think of bad influence as drugs or alcohol but nothing is more dangerous to your health over the course of a lifetime than “friends” who push buttercream frosting like cocaine. Don’t hang around with people who have zero desire to be healthy! They will constantly try to drag you down to their level of ill health and disability. The foods they eat will trigger cravings and make you miserable. It’s just not worth it.

If you find yourself surrounded by unhealthy foods that are calling your name, give them away quickly or throw them in the trash. I have dumped more doughnuts and cupcakes than most people see in a lifetime. Sooner or later, even saboteurs will get tired of seeing their most beloved health bombs going out the door with an unintended victim or in the garbage. Take charge of your environment to help curb cravings.

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Stay On The Path

Make your lifestyle healthy with no deviation. Deviation causes cravings in every arena. When you are surrounded by only healthy food and health minded people, cravings all but disappear entirely. When the occasional thought of a warm cookie or sweet and creamy ice cream does hit, you will know what you can substitute for that. There are protein cookies with zero added sugars and no simple carbs. Ice cream with zero added sugar has become common. We have healthy dessert recipes here on the website that will satisfy the desire for dessert without causing cravings. Sugar Free Chocolate Cookies – David’s Way to Health and Fitness (davidsway.blog) Search your grocery store for healthy versions of your favorite foods. Read and study this website and learn about nutrition. Make being healthy your full-time job.

With focus and dedication you can live with no cravings. You have to decide what you want and then make the decisions to bring it about. If you want to quit craving sweets, quit eating added sugars. If you want to quit craving alcohol, don’t drink it. (Alcoholism is a serious medical issue. Make sure to be under the care of a medical doctor to withdraw from alcohol.) If you want to quit binge eating pizza, don’t order it. When all is said and done, we really do create our own reality. Create a good one.

Create your life.

Control Cravings

 

 

Health/Fitness Entitlement

Photo by Madrona Rose on Unsplash health

Deserving

When people are endlessly bombarded with images of perfect bodies in what appears to be perfect health, we can begin to feel that we should easily have that too. Envy, jealousy, denial and laziness may combine to create an impossible internal environment for weight loss. In cultures where food is plentiful, the idea of denying ourselves the sensual pleasure of gluttony seems absurd. The result is people who deceive themselves into believing that their health will not suffer from lethargy and over-indulgence. Regardless of what lie that we choose to deceive ourselves with, all of the wishful thinking in the world will not give us robust health and a streamlined figure.

It’s Not Fair!!!

How many times have you heard people say “It’s not fair! I try and try to lose weight but I’ll never look like THAT!”? I have heard it over and over. These same people are quick to assume that anyone who is fit has great genetics, or has had surgical procedures. They simply cannot seem to grasp the fact that most truly fit people work hard to be at a healthy body fat percentage and have good muscle tone and definition.

Raw Materials for Health

I have been down that road myself. I used to think that there were the lucky ones and the rest of us. The truth is, with rare exception, we are all on a pretty level playing field. There are some people who build muscle easier than others, and there are some who tend to  have a lower body fat percentage. These are not usually the same people. Usually you will be one or the other. That crazy lean, defined physique that most of us want is a lifetime project, and it doesn’t come easy to anyone.

NO WAY

While there are drugs that can hurry this process along, they come with an incredibly high price tag. They are known to decrease life span by causing heart and liver damage, an increased risk of blood clots and brain cancer. Short term effects can destroy the quality of life by causing “steroid rage”, acne, balding, impotence and stunted growth. The masculinization of women who grow beards and eventually develop “man face”, and male gynecomastia, (enlarged breasts and nipple changes in men) and shrinking of the testicles are common side effects that are neither attractive nor quickly reversible. The hormone and mood swings that accompany the use of these drugs is nothing short of a nightmare.

Excuses

When people think that “luck”, “genetics” or “surgery” are the reason that most people are fit, they remove responsibility for their own fitness from their minds and become targets for drug dealers and unscrupulous shysters offering everything from “miracle” supplements to expensive, useless workout equipment in their pursuit of an easy path to fitness.

Illusion of Health

While we do need to remember that the images that we see on the internet, (Instagram and other social media sites) are almost NEVER what they appear to be, we must admit to the fact that we all know someone in real life that defies their age, is seldom sick and has strength beyond their years. THESE people are real. Genetics alone won’t give you that entire package. Genetics may give you a metabolism that’s a little more efficient or other subtle niceties that showcase your efforts in a better light, but regardless of genetics, if you don’t practice good nutrition and fitness routines, you will never have the robust health, stamina and refined appearance of a true athlete. There’s nothing as attractive as a natty (natural athlete) in good health.

Fatal Error

If we allow ourselves the easy way out of taking responsibility for our own health and fitness by assuming that those who are truly fit came by it easily, we will doom ourselves to obesity and ill health. Most people who perceive themselves as obese and unfit have anxiety and poor self-esteem as a result. Depression is common among obese individuals. Allowing ourselves to be sedentary will contribute to mental difficulties and create a cascade of failing health that will eventually end in disability and death. Why would anyone look for an excuse to allow themselves to become immobile and sick? It’s much easier to do what seems like the hard thing in the moment and choose our food wisely and get active with doctor approved exercise that we enjoy.

Feelings Lie

Feeling like we are entitled to good looks and great health is not enough to do the trick! Our feelings don’t matter! All that matters is that we become accountable to ourselves by learning about nutrition and applying what we learn. There is an irony that is beyond my ability to comprehend, and I’m seeing it more and more on social media. There are nutritionists and dieticians galore who are obese and seem to be making a pretty good living telling others that it’s not only okay but it’s the “good life”. No, it’s not. I’ve been obese and out of shape. There’s nothing good about the feeling of not having the energy to move all that around. There’s nothing good about the high blood pressure that MOST people will develop and there’s still not anything good about trying on swimsuits in a department store mirror when your body is out of shape. Don’t even start an argument with me about those things. I’ve lived it.

 

Get Busy, Get Health!

If you want to address your excess weight and health issues, rationalization about fairness will not fix your problem. A visit to your medical doctor, a good nutrition and fitness program, and being willing to commit for the long haul will get you where you want to be. As a woman who has been overweight, obese and out of shape, I can tell you that you’ve got to be tougher than your desire to have instant gratification. You’ve got to be willing to make yourself uncomfortable for a moment by thinking through your nutrition and planning your meals and snacks. Avoiding sugary desserts that do nothing except destroy your body will be hard in the beginning but that misery is short-lived.  The discomfort of the moment will create a better life and give you what you really want.

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

There is a grain of truth in the rationalization that “It’s not fair! I deserve to be fit too!” Yes, you do so make it a priority and JUST DO IT!

Genetics, Reason or Excuse?

Macros Explained

Photo by Madie Hamilton on Unsplash  macros

Nothing New!

The word “macros” is dropped so frequently it seems like a ticket into the inner “Sanctuary of The Foodie”. In the past, people just discussed the individual items that are known as macros. We talked about protein, carbs and fat. It wasn’t necessary to sound trendy or obsessed. Calories were always the main concern and even now we know that calories are the most important component in a weight loss program.

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

When “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution was published in 1972, dieters everywhere thought they had found Nirvana. The long-awaited “I can eat all I want” diet had finally emerged! Lots of people lost tons of weight eating bacon and cheese and never counted a single calorie. The problem was, and still is, with these types of super-restrictive diets you eventually rebel and binge endlessly on whatever you have restricted so severely. Since the macronutrient, carbohydrates, were the “Forbidden Fruit” of these types of diets, cookies, cakes and every sugar-filled treat imaginable were always the favored foods as soon as the new wore off of the diet. As people gorged themselves on processed, sugar-bombs, the pounds returned FAST and brought friends. Everyone that I knew that followed Atkins wound up much fatter than they were before they started the program. Their binge eating seemed to be completely out of control.

Before Adkins, there were “Low Carbohydrate” diets that were the same as Keto. My mother was always coming up with a new diet for me and I tried this one at the age of 13. Carbohydrates were limited to 19 grams per day. By the third day I thought that I was dying. I couldn’t walk without staggering, stay awake or make a coherent sentence but boy did I lose the weight! In typical fad diet form, it returned even faster than it left and left me weak and nauseous for days.

Weight conscious individuals have talked about macronutrients as carbohydrates, fats and protein for a long time. Macronutrients are simply the nutritive components of food that the body needs for energy and to maintain the body’s structure and systems. We learned about these building blocks of nutrition in grammar school in books named simply “Health”.  Those books have been discontinued now and we have raised two generations of nutritionally handicapped people. Unless this is changed, we’re about to raise a third generation in the nutritional dark.

A confusing point about macros is that sometimes when people talk about them, they may or may not specify which “macros” they are talking about. The readers or listeners are left in limbo. While there are MICROnutrients that are also essential, when you hear MACROS discussed, they are simply talking about the following:

1-Carbohydrates are energy-giving foods. Simple carbs break down quickly and cause inflammation in the body. They are a source of empty calories when they are filled with sugar and contribute to disease and dysfunction. Make sure that your carbs are complex. The sugar molecules in these energy-rich foods are strung together in long complex chains and take a while to metabolize. Good examples of complex carbs are peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables.

2-Protein is the macronutrient that will satisfy your hunger for the long run. They are comprised of large molecules of amino acids strung together in long chains. They are so biologically complex that it takes a long time for our bodies to break them down. That’s why they keep you from being hungry for so long. Protein is found in eggs, meat, poultry, fish and dairy and some vegetable sources. Quinoa and soy are excellent vegetable sources of protein.

3-Fats are a source of essential fatty acids that the body cannot make. They are essential to life and have to come from food. Fat helps us absorb the vital nutrients that are known as fat-soluble vitamins A,D, E and K. Mono and poly unsaturated fats lower disease risk and they are found in olive, canola, sunflower, soy and corn oils and in nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish. Accurately weigh and measure these foods. They are high in calories!

So, the next time you hear someone dropping the “M” word like they are initiated into a deep mystery that you cannot attain to, simply ask “Fats, protein or carbs?” You may burst their enlightened bubble but maybe you can get an answer to your question.

Macronutrients, the Blocks of Life

 

DASH Ice Cream Maker Review

I grew up in the Deep South where home made ice cream is a tradition. In my younger days, I could blame it for many pounds on my frame. When my son was little, about 20 years ago, I had not one, but TWO, ice cream freezers and was very proud to say that I had them. I developed a habit of making 2 quarts of vanilla almost every week. Since the ice cream was never as good if you froze it in the fridge for later, I ate my share when it was first made. The DASH My Pint Ice Cream Maker remedies that problem by making small servings. You never add more than 1 cup of ice cream mix to the freezer at one time. The maximum output is 1.6 cups. While that is more than the standard 1/2 cup serving, it’s a far cry from 2 QUARTS! There’s 8 cups in 2 quarts.

Chocolate Ice Cream Made In DASH

More than likely, if you are an ice cream lover, you know the ritual of eating right out of the carton. You scrape a spoonful of cold, creamy deliciousness away from the edges because that’s where it’s soft. The problem is, as soon as you make that round one time, another layer has thawed just enough to be yummy! So…you go around again, and again until a whole lot of ice cream is missing out of that carton. Having a full carton of ice cream can be a disaster. With the DASH My Pint Ice Cream Maker, you can have ice cream in minutes but don’t have to have that treacherous carton setting in your freezer all the time.

Whether you like home made ice cream and just don’t want a full 2 quart freezer, or you are trying to avoid a carton in your fridge, this little gadget settles both problems. You can still have ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt whenever you like and easily control the ingredients and the amount that you eat. The best thing about this machine is that it allows you to have “No Sugar Added” frozen treats anytime that you like!

Orange Dreamsicle Greek Frozen Yogurt

DASH comes with a recipe book. Use it. I tried to get creative and nothing that I tried worked as good as their recipes. MAKE SURE to chill your recipe in the freezer about 30 minutes before you put it in the ice cream maker. In the booklet, it also tells you that you can use the spoon that comes with it to just freeze your ice cream by stirring. I didn’t think much of that idea but discovered that it just may be the best way to use the frozen core of the machine. The liquid ice cream recipe begins to freeze on contact with the frozen core and it’s hard to get the paddles into the container. When I made the frozen yogurt pictured above, I didn’t use the paddles at all and there was still frozen yogurt in the bottom, frozen so hard that I could not get it out 20 minutes later. It was just a small amount so it didn’t diminish the serving size hardly at all.

Whatever you do, stay with the freezer if you are using the paddles. I walked away for a moment and the ice cream froze so hard and fast that the paddles stopped and the unit started spinning around, wrapping the cord around the unit. If I had not found it quickly, it may have spilled everywhere.

You will notice that the recipe for ice cream calls for heavy whipping cream and some milk. Follow the recipe. The heavy cream makes a velvety ice cream that’s sure to please but milk alone makes an icy disaster. While the ice cream is delicious, it’s too high in calories to be a practical addition to my nutrition program. It still beats eating a whole carton of ice cream but I don’t think I will make that too often!

The frozen yogurt fits into my program perfectly. I just take the flavored Plain Greek Yogurt that I normally eat, put it in the core and stir. Perfection! I use Tang water enhancer to make the orange. You can use any flavor you like. Water enhancers come in a huge variety of flavors and it works well in Plain Greek Yogurt, frozen or not.

I bought this one on Amazon for $20. You can buy them from the manufacturer for about $25. I am pleased with my purchase and would buy it again. It’s frozen yogurt on demand in the perfect serving. Dig in!

 

 

Crush Weight Loss Goals!

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash weight loss

Endless Cycle

Before I came to David’s Way, I was locked into an endless weight loss/weight gain cycle. I would force myself to stick to a “diet” long enough to lose about 20 pounds and then feel entitled to “reward” myself with all kinds of empty calories. In less than half the time that it took to lose the weight, I would gain it right back. My main problem was the most common problem among weight loss veterans, I just wanted to “get it over with”. I saw weight loss as dieting and that is a temporary state. The end result had to be temporary too. It’s necessary to adopt a healthy lifestyle, making healthy decisions every day for the rest of your life to make weight loss permanent.

Photo by Hayley Seibel on Unsplash

One Step at a Time

When we get overly-hyped about weight loss, we tend to try to overhaul our entire life at once. Human beings are creatures of habit and when we dump all of our habits at once, chaos ensues. We get more stressed than necessary and start producing large amounts of cortisol. The cortisol causes cravings and we overeat carbs, usually simple carbs and we’re trapped in the same cycle that got us fat in the first place. When someone asks us how they can lose weight, we give them only three suggestions, after we tell them to see their doctor first. We tell them to count their calories, eat whole foods and quit eating sugar. That’s all. As the scale begins to move, you might incorporate other changes as you get comfortable with the ones that you have already made. Changing too much at one time is a recipe for failure.

Photo by Samuel Charron on Unsplash

Hair of the Dog That Bit You

A common mistake is to reward  yourself with the very things that you just spent weeks removing from your life. When you have persevered without sugar for a few weeks and have seen the scale drop, what on Earth would make you introduce that source of empty calories back into your diet. If you have lost enough weight to celebrate, then you should be all the way through sugar withdrawal. It only takes one bite, with the accompanying endorphin rush in your brain, to take you right back to where you started. Celebrate with rewards that will accelerate your health initiative such as workout clothes, equipment or a vacation. Splurge on healthy foods that you might see as too expensive. Change your reward system to work for you rather than against you.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Weight Loss Mistakes

I well remember one time when I was about 9 years old, my mom had me on a diet. I was willing to go along with her because I was convinced that I was fat. Mind you, at the age of 9, I was not fat. I wanted to be skinny, like a high-fashion model. Healthy was not enough for me at that time. I had been on a 1000 calorie/day diet for about three weeks and was doing well with my weight loss. A neighbor lady offered me a new type of pecan pie. I told her I was on a diet but she persisted in her efforts to get me to try it. Eventually, I tried a 1/4 inch wide sliver. When I told my mother that I had eaten that sliver of pie, she got really upset with me and quit fixing my “diet” meals. I begged her to keep helping me but she refused. She said that I had blown the whole diet. I regained the weight that I had lost and more to go with it. All or nothing thinking is sure-fire failure. You will have good days and bad days. What you do MOST of the time is what will matter when you first begin your weight loss. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Don’t Skip Meals!

I frequently hear people bragging about not having eaten anything all day. I always tell them that is stupid. When you skip meals you just binge and make up for it later. You feel like you deserve it and that you can afford the calories. The problem is, when you start eating when you’re that hungry, you have no self-control. Soon you are so stuffed you just forget the whole idea of weight loss. Plan your meals, buy the food, prepare the food and eat it.

Photo by Carol Magalhães on Unsplash

Like-Minded Support

I never cease to be amazed and appalled at the lack of support that people get from those closest to them when they begin to lose weight. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because someone professes to love you that they will support your weight loss. Sometimes your weight loss means that they lose their party buddy. Seek out healthy minded individuals to support your decision to get healthy. Whenever you feel like it’s just too hard, seek the wisdom of those people. Social media groups can give you the support that you need. You don’t have to see them face-to-face.

Delusions of Grandeur

David just wrote an article, “The Fraud of Social Media Influencers” that discusses the artificial world of media personalities. Instagram has warped the minds of the world concerning what a human body actually looks like. While I think that many of the most popular people on IG are stunning, I would never be willing to do all of the things that many of them do to look that way. When we set our expectations that high but know that we will never have surgeries and do drugs to attain “The Look”, we are setting ourselves up for failure. As we come to realize that not only will we never look like THAT, neither do they!  If we get too disappointed by that realization, it could affect our motivation. Work hard, eat right and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish!

The journey to health, wellness and fitness is a lifetime trip. Don’t set yourself up for failure by falling into these traps. Make it your goal to be the very best version of yourself that you can possibly be. After all, there’s only one of you and nobody else can capture your unique beauty. Nurture it and SHINE!

 

 

Love Yourself to Wellness

Photo by Vanessa Kintaudi on Unsplash love

Deadly Culture

If I see or hear one more person attempting to explain why giving in to every craving and eating yourself into oblivion is just as healthy as eating nutritionally dense foods and avoiding sugar, I think I will scream. This idea is so absurd, I won’t even quote stats and discuss diseases caused by this self-indulgent lifestyle. You don’t have to look far to see more than one example of unhealthy people with little to no self-control contrasted by people who are healthy because they work at it. I know what I’m talking about because I have been both of those people.

Very recently, someone told me to “Eat that doughnut! Live your best life!!!” I told her “I AM living my best life and it definitely does NOT involve a doughnut.” The willful ignorance surrounding what has become a doctrine is staggering.

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Love Your Cardiovascular System!

When I was both obese and overweight, I had dangerously high blood pressure. Don’t waste your time arguing this with me because my experience is what it is. I know that there may not be a link between obesity and high blood pressure for everyone but it is for me. I have the medical records to prove it. Regardless of anything else that I did to try to lower that number, as long as my weight was high, the blood pressure cuff was NOT my friend. During the time that I was a size 22 my blood pressure stayed at stroke level, I sometimes had heart palpitations and suffered with blood pressure related headaches. As soon as I got my weight onto the BMI chart, I came off of the medicine for my blood pressure because I no longer needed it. If you love your life, why would you want to take this chance? Are you familiar with the difficulties that stroke victims face in their daily lives, IF they survive? Learning to say “NO!” to cravings and food bullies is a small thing compared to the hard lives of these people.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Love Your Bones and Joints!

When I was fat, my knees, back and ankles hurt all the time. I developed bulging discs in my lower back and could barely move for weeks. Thank God I found a great chiropractor who was thrilled when I began to lose weight. As the weight came off, so did my dependency on my chiropractor. Although he had helped me immensely, possibly even to avoid back surgery, I was determined to regain my back health. After I lost the excess pounds, I gradually quit going to him and have never looked back. That was over 10 years ago. Three and a half years ago I began lifting heavy weights and strengthened my back even more. I have never had an injury from lifting. When I was heavier, I could barely move much less strength train. The difference is that I don’t have excess weight pulling on my frame. I can just focus on getting my form the best it can be and getting that Iron to move.

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Love Your State of Mind!

Yes, I’ve seen and heard the media personalities who portray a happy image that is supposed to be based on abandoning rules for food. Again, I’ve lived that way. While I was scarfing down the brownies and mac and cheese, I was pretty happy I must say. As soon as I swallowed however, I was NOT. I was bloated and miserable. I was lethargic and had no energy to do anything. All those simple carbohydrates that almost immediately turned to sugar in my bloodstream had me riding the crazy train. While many antidepressants are SSRI’s that raise serotonin, binge eating raises and lowers it too often, too fast for me. I was on a roller coaster that I could not exit from, forever on the highest peak that would soon crash into the terrifying curve below. As I quit eating sugar and other simple carbs, my moods began to stabilize.

Photo by Park Street on Unsplash

Love Your Skin!

Sugar causes glycation in your skin. Glycation is the bonding of a sugar molecule to proteins or fats with no enzyme regulation. As these sugar molecules adhere to the elastin in the skin, the skin loses it’s elasticity and aging results. When I stopped eating sugar I got a few years rolled back off of my appearance. Glycation is also involved in some disease processes including diabetes. Thank God, I never had to deal with that dreadful disease!

I think you see the pattern here. I could go on. I DO love myself so I make a sincere effort to be healthy. I want the best life that I can have, free of disease and disability. While some may try to argue that obesity does not cause these things, it did for me.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Love Your Independence!

Three and a half years ago at the age of 61, I tore my life to the ground and rebuilt it brick by brick. While this has not been easy, it was absolutely necessary for me and my special needs son. At that time I was working for a major weight loss company that had me driving a lot and I was missing workouts. I was getting out of shape fast and I was still soft and fat enough that when I went up and down the THREE steps at my back door, I would nearly fall. As the pounds came off and I got stronger the steps became a non-existent challenge. Now I can climb flights of stairs carrying 20-30plus pounds with no problem. Had I continued down the path I was treading, I would most definitely be headed for a broken hip. With a broken hip comes surgery and, if you’re lucky, rehabilitation. NO, THANK YOU. I’d rather lose weight.

The next time you see these people who have made it their mission in life to drag you down the road to obesity, and all that goes with it, remember that misery loves company. I had a “frienenemy” one time who told me outright that she did NOT like me being smaller than her and if people like me would just forget about trying to be thin then her and her daughters would be more readily accepted into society. I thought that we were friends. We were not. She’s morbidly obese now and has full-blown diabetes and the complications that go with it. I don’t remember the last time that I went to the doctor because I was sick.

We all have important decisions to make every day. LOVE YOURSELF and make good ones. You will live, or die, with those decisions.

Sun Protection from Nutrition

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Oh, the Pain!

Some of my earliest memories revolve around the beach, Panama City Beach in Florida! I loved that place as a young child although I knew that a trip to the beach would likely result in an excruciating  sunburn. My mother would slather me with sunscreen to no avail. Within the week that we were there, a searing burn was almost inevitable. Sunscreens were not as good as they are now and now we know that we must use them profusely and reapply often. Then, we would put it on and stay out until mid-day and go inside until mid-afternoon when the sun’s rays were not as intense. Without fail, that morning coat would fail us at some point. I believe that we might have stayed out just a few minutes too long. That’s all it took in the glaring summer sun on those stark white beaches. Inevitably, I would get cooked. Severe sunburns before the age of 18 are associated with an increased risk of the deadly melanoma skin cancer. (1) We need to do everything in our power to protect ourselves and those that we love when we are soaking up the sunny days of summer.

Secret Weapon

We all know to apply sunscreen frequently but nutrition is an often overlooked weapon in the skin care arsenal. The right nutrients can make a huge difference in your skin’s ability to fend off sunburn. Poor nutrition ages us in many ways and lowered sun protection is just one.

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Watermelon

Watermelon is high in lycopene which actually absorbs UVA and UVB radiation. It’s necessary to eat watermelon every day for a few weeks to make the skin photoprotective. Even then, still use sunscreen, hats and protective clothing.

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Green Tea

Green tea is truly a powerful gift from nature. Some studies show that it has the ability to protect us from tumors caused by too much sun. It contains a powerful flavanol called EGCG that is believed to reduce skin damage caused by UVA light. As it reduces this destruction of the skin , it protects the all-important collagen that prevents sagging and wrinkling of the skin. Although I have never cared for the taste of this stuff, I chug it down like medicine.

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Carrots and Greens

Both carrots and leafy greens are rich in beta carotene which can provide sun protection after eating them regularly for 10 weeks. (2) Along with beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are also skin miracle workers. They are known to protect us against sun damage and even skin cancer. Mom was right when she said “Eat your spinach. It’s good for you!”

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Cauliflower

This pale, bland food is a nutritional powerhouse! Most of the time the colorful pigments in foods are a sure signal to us that they are nutritionally dense. In this case however this white vegetable packs the potent amino acid histidine which causes the body to produce urocanic acid which absorbs UV radiation. Eat up!

 

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Blueberries

In order to keep the body’s biological clock in good working order, eat at regular mealtimes. Deviations in the times that we eat can disrupt chemical cycles that help to protect our skin. While some fruits and vegetables do actually create chemicals that absorb the harmful rays, there are others that help to prevent wrinkles and fight inflammation in the skin.

Blueberries are chock full of antioxidants that fight free radicals that can damage skin. The vitamin C in blueberries helps to build and protect your collagen which is the framework for your skin. Healthy collagen means smooth skin. Blueberries are also good for memory and low in calories so find ways to incorporate these sweet treats into your everyday menus.

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Nuts and Seeds

I use a product called Trilogy seeds that contain hemp, chia and flax seeds. They are full of omega-3 essential fatty acids that we have to get from our diet. They strengthen our skin’s structure and fight inflammation. By fighting inflammation they naturally decrease the damage done by the sun. Fish and eggs are also good sources of these miracle-working fats in our diet. Walnuts are a tasty source of omega-3’s and nothing is much better than a handful of walnuts in our morning oats. Start your day off right with these superfoods. I add seeds and nuts to my  oats every morning.

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We always think of skincare as something that we do on the outside. Many of the products that we use for that are insanely expensive. Start on the inside and build a cheap arsenal to fight the signs of aging and damage from the sun. When others your age are mourning their lost youth, you’ll be glad you did.

Winter Skin Care

 

(1)   How Sun Burns & Overexposure to Sun Causes Skin Cancer (webmd.com)

(2) 6 Foods That’ll Repair and Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage (healthline.com)

Cycling Benefits

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Inspiration from Cycling!

A few years ago I knew a man who went to his doctor frequently for help with his varicose veins. The doctor prescribed him some custom-made support hose and told him to start riding a bike for long distances. He told him to wear the support hose while he rode. I thought this was odd. I couldn’t imagine wearing support hose while riding a bike but agreed that he should do exactly what his doctor said. We were casual acquaintances and I didn’t see this fellow for quite a while. Years later I asked him how that advice worked for him and he said that he didn’t have any trouble with his legs anymore, that the veins were barely visible and didn’t hurt at all. I was amazed!

More recently I met a woman in her sixties who had a lot of stress in her life. As she took steps to alleviate some of this killer stress, she began riding for long distances. Within about a year, this woman appeared to lose about 20 years! She trimmed down and instead of stress and worry lines, she developed a permanent, peaceful smile. Now she travels across country to ride in major events and loves her life.

As a child I rode long distances simply for fun. The freedom of the wind in my hair and the quiet countryside where I rode was exhilarating. I had a stressful childhood and was always trying to lose weight. My bicycle was my ticket to peace and helped me keep the ever-creeping scale in it’s rightful place for a few years.

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Cycling Health Benefits

Cycling is low impact which makes it ideal for some people who avoid high impact exercise. It’s an aerobic activity so your heart and lungs get an excellent workout! All of the major skeletal muscles are engaged during cycling and the calf of the leg is utilized to return blood to your heart efficiently during a ride. The calf muscles are called the second heart because they are so important in circulating the blood back to the heart from your lower extremities. Read about them in the article, Sexy Strong Legs to better understand the importance of keeping your calf muscles healthy.

Cycling is known to increase stamina and overall strength and can be performed at the level you choose. There’s no one-size-fits-all to reap the benefits of cycling. It’s versatile and will provide benefits regardless of the intensity that you ride. Always consult your doctor for guidelines about how hard you should exercise and before beginning any exercise or weight loss program.

Joint mobility is improved by regular cycling and bones are strengthened. Aerobic activities burn body fat and a 14-15.9 mile per hour ride will torch up to 372 calories in an hour for a 155 pound person. (1) There is even evidence that suggests that colon and breast cancer risks may be reduced by regular cycling. (2) Since a lack of physical activity is thought to play a part in the development of Type 2 Diabetes, cycling may reduce your risk of developing that dreadful disease by as much as 40%.

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Safety First!

There’s nothing as frustrating or as dangerous as rounding a curve on a mountain road and suddenly realizing that there are bicycles EVERYWHERE! I don’t know how I have missed hitting a cyclist that was riding close to the center line, more than once. Use some common sense. It doesn’t matter what your rights are if you have put yourself in danger!

Ride in lanes and on tracks that are specially designated to cyclists. Follow all traffic laws including signaling before a turn. Be especially careful at busy intersections and always wear a good helmet and other protective gear as you see fit. The reason that cyclists wear those tight clothes is safety! Loose clothing caught in chains or spokes can be deadly. Wear reflective gear at night and always have your bike lit. Use sunscreen, hats and good UV-resistant sunglasses. You can even buy clothing with UV protection built right in to help. Clothing is not a replacement for sunscreen. Use both. If you have any condition that is worsened by cycling then by all means, don’t do it. If you really get hooked on cycling then when the weather is bad you can ride a stationary bike indoors. You can read my review of the Xterra Dual Action Bike to get an idea about a good mid-price bike that exercises your entire body. Always have plenty of water for hydration or if you like, you might try an electrolyte replacement drink, especially for long distances or in hot weather. Rediscover your inner child and get lean and healthy while you’re doing it.

Happy Trails!

How Many Calories Do You Burn Biking? (healthline.com)

Cycling – health benefits – Better Health Channel

How I Lost the Weight for Good

Brenda Sue’s Before and After Lost Weight

Lifetime Struggle

By the time that I was 4 years old, my mother was convinced that I was fat. She believed that I would grow into a morbidly obese adult. Although I was not fat as a child, weighing 40 pounds at age 4, my mother took me to the doctor to see if he could “do something”. He said that I would lose weight whenever I felt the need, that he couldn’t put a 4 year old child on a weight reduction program.

Years of diets followed. I lost and regained the weight many times. I left home at the age of 16 and I had probably been on at least a dozen different diets. The worst diet that I was on was the “Low Carb Diet”, which would now be called strict keto. I could only eat 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. By the third day my ears were ringing and I was in a stupor. I felt like I was dying. Since I was in school, struggling with my first Algebra class, that diet was devastating. I couldn’t think and had no energy. I was a straight A student and I made a D in Algebra that Fall. P.E. was horrible because I didn’t have the energy to do anything. Eventually I refused to dress out and sat on the bleachers the entire first 6 weeks of school. I got a D in P.E. too. My life was being destroyed by dieting.

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Upward Trend

After I left home and my eating was no longer being scrutinized by my mother, my weight started climbing. I went from being a normal sized teenager to being obese in about 6 months. I ate huge meals and rich desserts every day. All of the snacks and extra servings that I was not allowed to have growing up became an everyday occurrence. My weight spiraled totally out of control and I found myself a size 22 even though I lost weight at times.

The terrible irony here is my mother had done everything that she knew to help me lose weight. She paid joining fees and weekly membership fees for me to be in a well-known weight loss group. I had literally dieted for 12 years only to rebel against it all and balloon up to the person you see in the picture above on the left. You would think that in twelve years I would have learned something about weight control, especially after having lost weight more than once.

I learned to read by reading medical books. Ignorance was not my problem. I made good grades, especially in the sciences. Biology, Physiology and Anatomy were all easy for me. I am a health freak by nature but all of that knowledge did nothing to help me conquer the beast of obesity. The lost pounds would always return with a few extra.

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Common Thread

One thing that all of the diets that I had been on had in common was they all allowed me to eat the foods that made me fat. Even on the strict keto, I could choose anything that I wanted for the few carbs that I was allowed to eat. Inevitably, that would be something containing added sugar. As long as I ate any added sugars, I wanted more added sugars. As soon as the rush of endorphins that I got from a small amount of sugar subsided, I was searching for more. Eventually, I would abandon any diet because the desire for more and more sweets became overwhelming. Any weight that I had lost would quickly return. When the amount of added sugars that I was eating overwhelmed my calorie or carb allowance for a day or so, I ditched the diet. The cycle repeated itself for so many years and I developed high blood pressure, depression and arthritis throughout my body.

At intervals during those dreadful years I would sometimes quit eating sugar. During those times, my weight would drop, my blood pressure would stabilize and I would escape the mind-numbing cloud of depression that had become my constant companion. Sooner or later however, I would succumb to the lure of a brownie, thinking that I had “learned how to eat” and the next thing that I knew I was drowning in cake frosting and ice cream again and the scale would skyrocket.

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Freedom!

As members of a large weight loss group, David and I began to realize that the yo-yo dieting syndrome that was so common within that group was being fueled by sugar. Other members talked openly about their struggles with the scale week after week. Strangely enough, no one in the group advised avoiding sugar. The addictive nature of sugar has been studied extensively. In a 2007 paper, (1) in the Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health the last line reads, “In the aggregate, this is evidence that sugar can be addictive.” You don’t have to read much else to discover the damaging effects that sugar has on our health. Since it can be addictive in nature and it is high in calories, as we eat more and more of this deadly white, crystalline powder, our weight and body fat continually increase. With increased body fat comes a multitude of problems ranging from arthritic knees to a predisposition to cancer. (2)

Before I began eating David’s Way, I  was avoiding sugar most of the time. I knew that it was addictive and that it impacted the scale in a negative way. The problem was, I still ate it occasionally. This behavior kept me addicted to the white stuff and caused me to never truly reach my fitness goals. Although the scale would drop to an acceptable level at the top of the BMI chart, I struggled intensely to keep it there. It was not until I completely eliminated sugar from my diet that I found my inner athlete.

Since I began avoiding it at all costs, I have become a strength trainer and have conquered obstacles that I never dreamed that I could crush. This newfound strength pushed me to recreate my life from a miserable existence to a functional, self-supporting, healthy lifestyle. The addiction to sugar and the resultant bad health that was beginning to develop had destroyed my confidence. I lived in an abusive situation and felt powerless to extract myself. As my strength grew, I became highly confident and coined the phrase, “Create Your Life.” It’s hard to imagine that a love of any (non)food could so negatively impact anyone’s life but since I have lived that life, I can tell you, it did mine.

As my mind travelled farther into health and wellness, I completely changed every aspect of my life. People who have known me since birth are shocked at the person that I have become. Most people my age are retired and live vicariously through their children and grandchildren. That is not the case with me. My life is new every day. If I had not changed my diet, that would not be so. By now, I’m pretty sure that either the high blood pressure or the depression and anxiety would have finished me off. Not to mention that I would most likely be living with an abuser. Better nutrition and strength training gave me a new lease on life.

I changed the direction that I was heading just in the nick of time. The health problems that were increasing could be reversed at that time. There is a point where it becomes much more difficult to turn these things around. I encourage you today to examine yourself. While my path may not be the exact path for you, better nutrition is always the foundation for health, longevity, happiness and true success.

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It’s All In Our Choices

The decision is yours. What will you do?

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/