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Think Twice about Advice

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Last year I was urged to follow a high protein diet while weight training. I was told it was essential to hit my protein target to build muscle and maintain strength.

I ate copious amounts of eggs, dairy and meat trying to meet my protein goal. And over time, I became sluggish, tired and developed an aversion to meat, then eggs and finally dairy. And decided to cut them out all at once. Essentially, my high protein diet steered me into a 100% plant based diet.

I started looking into plant based nutrition and ran across Ray Cronise. He insisted protein recommendations were elevated due to an outdated model and a high protein diet could cause illnesses such as cancer (look up IGF1).

This was my sign to stop obsessing over grams of protein. But, I continued tracking my food intake.

After compiling long term data, I noticed my protein intake dove to around 35% of my previous high protein quota. All with no discernible difference in my strength or endurance.

I was thoroughly surprised. And I now have to admit, I fell headlong into the high protein promise of enhanced endurance and strength. But, there is nothing to support that assertion from my side of the fence.

I learned a huge lesson. I no longer follow advice without fact checking scientific and medical data. Misinformed advice can be turned into an informed decision with the right research. It just takes effort.

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

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.

Radon Imposed Alternate Training and Weight Update

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Since last October, my weight training
has been on hold. The radon levels in the basement were double the EPA maximum safe limit. It has taken months to get 3 phases complete and although the radon levels are lower, they are not at an ideal low.

In the interim, I have been doing manual labor: landscaping, chain sawing trees, clearing brush, hauling and stacking fire wood, etc. I’m not in as good of shape as when I was weight training, but it’s a good compromise until the radon levels are satisfactory.

My weight has increased a bit due to indulging on holiday sweets. The colder weather is keeping me indoors more than I would like as well. I’ve been slowly incorporating weighing foods again to facilitate food logging and using my scale as a progress gauge. I’m confident I can get back where I need to be once my weight room is back in business.

Body Changes and Home Invasions

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I distinctly remember walking into my dimly lit kitchen and having my fight or flight instinct kick in. I was staring straight at a would be intruder standing about 3 feet from the sliding glass door. I remember trying to formulate a plan to prevent this crazy lady from making it into our home. There was one glaring problem; she was a reflection of me.

This was the first time of many incidences I would be shocked into fight or flight mode by my changing body image. My psyche had identified with my overweight figure for 20+ years. But, after dropping approximately 40% of my body weight, my mind started to struggle between my old and new body.

It has taken my mind much longer to acclimate to my new body than it took to achieve. I still from time to time ask about the random lady in photos (new body me) when my mind defaults back to my old self. But, as time goes on, the new version of me is taking over for the old.

I know my mind will eventually shed the old obese concept of me like I did the pounds. And I’m really looking forward to my mind and body functioning on the same page. But until then, I’ll have to be patient while the two versions of me grapple for some sense of identity.

Ringing in Weight Loss

ZFsYJxdUMy loose wedding rings were one of the first signs weight loss was progressing. As time went on, I had to employ a few strategies to keep them fitting. Here are a few options I used and others available to remedy loose rings:

1. A jeweler installed ring tensioner was my first attempt at sizing my wedding rings. It was a quick, simple and affordable option (under $10) that would give me a 2 size buffer before I had to seek out other tightening options. I was amazed at how durable this tensioner was. Through gardening, showering and daily life, I could not tell it was on my rings and never had any skin discoloration or irritation. Well worth the price for months of use.

2. Medical grade breathable tape was next in line when coping with loose rings. The Jeweler installed sizer was at the maximum setting and I was not at a good sizing point. I started wrapping the sizer with breathable medical tape and found every week I could adjust by wrapping more or less around. I also found the breathable tape dried out quickly and prevented bacteria. I was impressed by how simple and effective it was. And if you’re like our family, you probably have a roll laying around in a First Aid kit or leftover from past surgery just waiting to be used.

3. Jeweler sizing was my next step. There was only so much wrapping I could do before the bunch of tape started affecting grip and irritating my hand. I decided that 3 sizes difference was the breaking point.

I had moved since my wedding so I had the apprehension of entrusting my rings to total strangers. In the end, after asking friends, here are a few reasons I decided to go with a well established jeweler: if they have been in business decades, the quality of work and service must be good and money flow had to be stable, thus I was less likely to be price gouged.

I waited a week and my rings were done. I picked them up and they were so shiny and impressive. But there was a new issue: my rings were still spinning around my finger. But, sizing them smaller meant I could not fit them past my knuckle. The jewelers had a couple suggestions: have a hinge clasp soldered into the band or increase tension via guards around my wedding band.

4. New guards were the perfect option since I anticipated losing more weight. Once I started looking at all the options, it was hard deciding on guards to flank my wedding rings: do I get a matching band style, the same thickness, keep it simple or bling it up? It was a lot of fun looking at all the different options though!

In the end I choose two simple, taller guards for each side of my original wedding ring (I dropped the original additional wedding band for symmetry sake). The guards I chose were Tungsten Carbide in a darker shade than my white gold wedding ring. I liked the gradient of darker on the outside peaking to the brightest in the center. I was also drawn to the affordable, durable properties of Tungsten Carbide. I hoped taller guards would protect my wedding band against scratching and hards blows. Months later , this arrangement works like a charm and I could not be happier with the performance or the price.

I Banned the Blade

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The concept of weight loss carries this magical idea life will be easier. And, to a certain extent, there are aspects that do get easier like shopping for clothes off the rack and qualifying for insurance. But, as my weight loss progressed, there were areas of my life and body that became harder to maneuver. This article focuses on one of those many areas: shaving.

Let me preface this article by admitting I’ve never possessed great skill at shaving. I didn’t really have a 100% fool proof process to begin with. But, as time went on and the pounds dropped, the trail of Band-Aid wrappers increased exponentially. I’m not sure if the culprit was less “padding” around my tendons, joints and ligaments or whether loose skin played a part. Most likely operator error contributed as well. But, I had to find a remedy.

Welcome the power of YouTube. I perused video after video searching for a form, technique and ultimate cure for my shaving fiasco. I tried exfoliating before, glycerine soap, and hair conditioner as shaving cream. But, time and time again, I ended up cutting myself badly. I eventually had to ban the blade, heal up and look for an alternative hair removal method.

The best alternative I could find was an epilator. After copious amounts of time researching, I finally made my decision on what model best suited my needs. Fast forward a week and it was on my door step. I made the decision to buy a rechargeable version which meant waiting the recommended 12 hour charge time.

Now, I must admit shaving (if you can master the skill) is the cheapest, painless option to  remove hair. It is the most common hair removal method the world over. However, epilation, in my opinion deserves a close second. After enduring a stinging razor cut for minutes, an epilator’s momentary sting is a welcome alternative.

I’ve found epilation works best after a warm shower or bath to open the follicles. The first run is the most stingy (is that even a word?). But after a few minutes the pain receptors tone down and I’ve learned it is best to push through when the receptors have become somewhat numb. If an area becomes sensitive, work on another area for a few minutes then come back.

In the end, this body challenge worked out in my favor. The epilator cost no more than a year’s worth of disposable razors. I only dedicate time to one session every 3-4 weeks, which provides major time savings. And the best part is no more sea of Band-Aid wrappers to clean up.

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