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Down and Dirty Gardening

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I’ve been busy gardening. We moved in last October and a month ago all the critical upgrades were done so I’ve been having fun getting into some down and dirty gardening.

I’ve planted beans, radishes, 4 types of lettuce, kale, rosemary, thyme, tomatoes and some squash. Everything has been growing like crazy with the hot weather.

I want to share a photo of my Scarlet Runner beans. They are trellised to make a privacy surround. I love these beans! The red blooms are amazing, they yield like crazy and they are super easy to grow. And the size of the beans are humongous!

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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 He insisted protein recommendations were elevated due to an outdated model and a high protein diet could cause illnesses such as cancer (look up IGF1).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.

A Couple Short Videos by Dr. Greger Explaining New Data from Studies on GMO Crops and Roundup

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Study findings are finally in on Roundup concentrations in GMO crop and their effects on the human body. Effects are much worse testing all components of Roundup vs. previous research using active ingredient only.

Please watch these two short videos for all the details:

If You Have Kids, Nephews, Nieces or Work with Children, I Beg You to Watch This!

Teach Every Child About Food – Jamie Oliver

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

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.

Filling Voids

I learned in the last year that when I take certain foods out of my diet I have to find healthy alternatives. Every food void is an opportunity to stick an even worse replacement there.

This week has been another teaching lesson for me. I recently cut out sugar unless it was fruit form. I have been using Stevia and honey quite a bit but I had a reaction and totally cut it out leaving a pretty big void in my diet for sweet stuff. I thought I could replace the Stevia and honey with fruit, but I seem to have been going on a trend of eating processed cereal for sweets.

Now we all know how high calorie cereals can be. And I have perfectly good rolled oats that I can eat. But everytime I look in the cupboard I see the processed cereal and convince myself I can just have a bowl. It’s becoming way too frequent.

I will not lie, the processed carbs and sugar tend to make me feel good when I eat them. However, when I get through the bowl and my blood sugar level subsequently drops, I feel horrible. I regret eating the cereal even though it was absolutely wonderful when I was eating it. I feel bad because I’ve eaten up quite a bit of my calories that I could have used for just plain better stuff (like dinner).

So I’ve got to be mindful of how I cut things out and how I move forward in filling that void. I caught myself pretty early this time. It’s only been a week. Thankfully tracking my foods really helps me look at what I’m doing in both the short and long term and helps me see a snapshot of my progress and my relapses.

No matter whether I have to lose 7 or 70lbs it’s still a struggle to find balance day to day and do the right thing. I will be battling this till the day I die but I also know that putting better food in mouth will end in better results for longevity than giving into every food whim I have and living an obese life.

I’m still struggling, but at least I am aware and have the opportunity to change course.

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