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February 2016

Hacking My Diet for Physical and Financial Health Part 3: Finances

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I’m about 3 weeks into a whole food, plant based diet. Along with feeling better, I noticed a large savings on our grocery bill. Our average dairy, egg and meat cost, as a family, before I switched was quite large:

1 pint of yogurt a day at $8 a pint: $56

4 half gallons of milk and 1 half gallon half and half at$7: $35 a week

5 pack chicken drumsticks a night at $3: $21 a week.

3 tubs per week of cottage cheese at $6: $18 a week.

5 bags shredded cheese a week at $5: $25 a week.

12 eggs per week: $6.

Totaling $161 a week. Pretty crazy right? Adding in all the other extras brought our bill to around $180 a week.

That being said, everyone else in our family still eats meat and dairy. But, my choice to eat a plant based, whole food diet is saving us quite a bit on our grocery bill: $50 a week, $200 a month, which translates to roughly $2400 a year; a benefit my family and I can literally take to the bank!

Visceral Fat: How It Effects Us and How To Prevent It

I want to make an example of myself for this post. This is me in 2014. I’m guessing I’m  a little over 200lbs in the picture below. My height is under 5′. Wearing a tight size 18 womens. Clinically between obese and morbidly obese.

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It was not until this year that I thoroughly comprehended how much my obesity was making me sick and leading me down a road of misery back then. Science is now able to explain why my obese body was malfunctioning: visceral fat.

Visceral fat can be found deep within the abdominal area and has been linked to a miriad of health disorders: autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance), high LDL (bad) cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

Much like an endocrine gland, visceral fat generates excess hormones which affect our bodies’ healthy hormonal balance and function; causing hormonal imbalances and illness. An excess amount of visceral fat also produces cytokines (tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6) which impairs the cardiovascular system.

How do we lower our visceral fat level and reverse the side effects on our cardiovascular and hormonal levels?

– Eat a whole foods diet loaded with complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables (think whole potatoes, apples, bananas, kale, tomatoes, whole oats, etc.)

– Keep highly processed foods like box cereals, chips, pasta, white bread, take out, drive through meals, etc. to a minimum. Try to get as close to the natural food source as possible: an apple should look like an apple (not Apple Jacks).

– Opt for leaner meats.

– Limit oils.

– Watch portion sizes as well. Oftentimes, calories in vs. calories out can be our biggest key to winning the battle.

– Engaging in 30-60 minutes of moderate activity a day is optimal as visceral fat responds to exercise quicker than it’s outside counterpart, subcutaneous fat.

The picture below was taken December 2015. Around 119 pounds. Wearing a size 4 womens.

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After implementing a whole food diet with regular exercise the weight dropped really quickly. My health returned just as quick and my energy level sky rocketed and is on par with my late teens (I’m in my mid thirties). In short, If I take care of my body, it takes care of me.

If the thought of implementing a whole food diet seems impossible, feel free to ask me any questions. Or if you are curious to see what a primarily whole food diet looks like day in and day out, you can find my food diary on My Fitness Pal. Feel free to send me a friend request if you like:
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/lizanne_3

I’m here to help any way I can!

For more info on this topic, please visit:
Harvard Health Publications

Me Time Memorandum

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Early mornings when everyone else is asleep and I can focus on me time in silence is amazing! Whether that time is spent networking with like minded people, writing articles and postcards, gardening, reading books or just simply enjoying a piping hot cup of coffee or tea along with cinnamon loaded candle diffusers, it always reminds me how powerful me time is and how it energizes my mind and spirit.

Do yourself a favor: put yourself on your to-do list, show yourself love, and invest time in yourself.

Drop the to-do and focus on you.

Hacking My Diet for Physical and Financial Health Part 2: Joint Health

file000586498819Increasing arthritis in my joints has been an ongoing issue the majority of my adult life. The lessening of arthritic pain was a big selling point to get me on board with a whole food, plant based diet. It was an offer I could not refuse.

A torn Patella injury from years ago grinds and clicks with every step I take. And, pain was moderate to severe when going up stairs, squatting and generally leveraging with my knee. The changes in weather, especially cold, would produce a dull ache in all my injured joints as well.

After 3 weeks of omitting dairy and meat, my joints do not ache or hurt. I’m able to carry 40+ pounds upstairs without issue and the weather related aches totally disappeared during the last couple snow storms we’ve had. It is quite miraculous!

If you’re like me and have joint injuries that produce irritating aches and pain, look into a whole food plant based diet just for a trial. I’m betting it can offer you some relief just like me.

 

Here are a couple studies if you would like to dig a litter deeper into the arthritis and diet connection:

Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):594S-600S. Rheumatoid arthritis treated with vegetarian diets. Kjeldsen-Kragh J.

Rheumatology 2001;40:1175–1179 . A vegan diet free of gluten improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: the effects on arthritis correlate with a reduction in antibodies to food antigens. I. Hafstro, et.al.

Hacking My Diet for Physical and Financial Health Part 1: Cardiovascular

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I have taken a long hard look at genetics and lifestyle choices through the lens of my older family members. To a large extent, we all carry distinct genes, but looking at health trends within our families can be helpful when sifting through diet and lifestyle choices. I have noticed a large amount of older relatives on blood pressure medications. I now have a choice to be reactive or proactive: I can wait and medicate or I can find remedies based on research to prevent this issue from forming in the first place. I chose to be proactive.

The studies and research focusing on healthy blood pressure management recommend a diet primarily based on a wide variety of whole, plant based foods: leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains and a healthy weight. In addition to losing 70+ pounds, I have decided to go 100% plant based. I felt the research was most compelling regarding reversing and preventing heart disease related conditions (and other conditions as well – more posts coming). It is part of my long term goal to prevent lifestyle ailments and avoid subsequent medicating.

When it comes to my health, I have a responsibility to take care of myself. And that means looking honestly at my lifestyle choices and where they will lead me in the next 5 to 50 years. I want to live a healthier life than my predecessors. And, I want to grow old without blood pressure medication, stints in my veins, open heart surgery and a machine to help me breathe at night.

I have to study my relatives’ choices, understand where they lead and be aware of the consequences of their lifestyle choices. I have a better chance at a healthy and happy life as I age if I do not follow in their footsteps and accept cardiovascular failure as an age related illness. Statistically, it is not. It is largely a lifestyle consequence and one which I can prevent by adhering to a plant based diet.

Rewilding my Microbiome

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Advice from Dr. Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist on a mission to help us restore our microbiomes. And, I’ll be honest. When Dr. Chutkan recommended helping restore the microbiome by bathing sans soap, I thought it was a gimmick.

But, being a stay at home mom, the chance of getting a little stinky (and saving money) for the sake of a healthier microbiome was a worthwhile gamble. So, I did as Dr. Chutkan suggested: rewild my microbiome by not using soap. Simply wash off with water and make sure to thoroughly dry before putting on clothing.

Before we get to the results, let me explain what a microbiome is: all the microbes on and inside our bodies. These microbes live on our skin, inside our intestines and everywhere in between. The Human Microbiome Project has identified over 10,000 species of organisms living on and in the average, healthy, person.

So, why are our microbiomes so important? The microbes living on and within our body, are largely dictated by our genes, the foods we eat and the environment we live in. These healthy, balanced microbes help us fight off illness causing microbes, viruses, and rogue cancer cells. They are our massive yet tiny army against infections and sickness.

What does a balanced microbiome look and feel like? A balanced digestive track, clearer skin, lack of foul smelling body odor, and promising research shows the likelihood of preventing, treating and even curing medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, colitis, autism and many more, by adjusting the microbiome.

My verdict? After 7 days of not using soap: I do not feel dirty. Nor am I itchy, stinky or sticky – and that is without antiperspirant or deodorant even during exercise. My face has cleared up a lot in the last week. I can see a more even tone emerging in my face and neck. I feel fresh and balanced. And my chronically dry Winter hands are the best they have ever been without constant lotion use.

In a nutshell, rewilding my microbiome exceeded my expectation and in a very short amount of time. My hope is that you take some time to try this method and see how it works for you!

For more information on Dr. Chutkan, the microbiome and rewilding, listen to this Rich Roll podcast with Dr. Chutkan here and visit Dr. Chutkan’s site Gutbliss.

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