Skinny Girl Lemon Swirl

I bought a Skinny Girl brand Lemon Swirl power bar the other day. If memory serves it has whey protein.

I checked out the ingredients label and it appears that it doesn’t contain natural flavors or any other fake chemicals.

At the library I once scanned a Betheny Frankel diet book titled Get Skinny Forever or something ludicrous like that.

The section I read berated women for the food choices we make. That’s not going to motivate your readers to lose weight. I found that Frankel’s tone of voice in the book was hardly encouraging.

The idea that everyone has to be “skinny” is a myth if you ask me. I didn’t lose any weight after strength training going on five years now. Yet I did drop one pant and one skirt size because I gained muscle. So in that regard you could say I’m skinnier even though I didn’t lose weight.

The number on the scale shouldn’t dictate how we feel about ourselves. Maintaining a healthy weight rather than an unrealistically low weight is the better option if you ask me. Kate Moss’s body is not the kind of genetic anomaly any of us should aspire to have.

I see woman at the gym. Their arms and legs are sticks and they lift puny 15 pound kettlebells. That’s their thing so be it. Yet I recommend lifting heavier weights as you go along to develop more muscle to burn fat at a greater rate.

My mantra now is “abs and arms.”

I will be on the lookout for healthier snacks like the Skinny Girl Lemon Swirl bars.

I’ll report back in here on what I find.

I bid readers peace happiness and health this summer.

Relax: you don’t have to be skinny.

A Bone to Pick

I recommend the Mark Bittman book A Bone to Pick that collects his columns and essays on food and agriculture.

He should win a Nobel Prize for his rigorous intelligent and rational thinking on the topic.

My contention is that a person should stay away from chemical-laden processed foods and foods with sugar and added sugars. If you do that you’re well on your way to being in better health. Plus not eating meat is also a better option for our health and for the planet.

Pesticides contaminate groundwater. They cause cancer. Industrial agriculture is far from sustainable even though Monsanto is now claiming it is in magazine and TV advertisements. Or was it DuPont or Synerga claiming industrial agriculture is sustainable. Either way those claims are false.

Kind bars I found out have “natural flavors” that are actually fake chemicals.

The equation is simple: garbage in equals garbage out. I care too much for the planet and for everyone living on it to advocate for “business as usual” in farming practices.

If you live in New York City or Philadelphia I recommend shopping online from FreshDirect because you have tons of healthful food choices like Amy’s Organic. Amy’s offers black beans and quinoa, lentil soup with low sodium, tofu and hash browns, and vegetable lasagna. All these prepackaged healthful food are perfect to heat in the oven when you come home from the gym and are too tired to cook. Or when you simply don’t have the energy to cook.

I do not recommend a “garbage in, garbage out” lifestyle or way of thinking.

At HealthCentral I will continue to write about strategies for living a full and robust life when you have a diagnosis. Stay tuned there for new news articles I have planned through January.

Reconsidering Schizophrenia Treatment

Define what constitutes schizophrenia treatment.

Is it medication? Therapy? Family support?

My contention is that “treatment” must be inclusive of exercise, an eating plan, acts of faith in God or a higher power, hobbies and passions, work, school, and other healthy routines we engage in in our ordinary lives each week.

I wrote at HealthCentral about getting credentials. It’s my belief that we need to focus on habits we engage in to be whole and well. This is going to be a personal skill set or set of activities for each of us.

The days should be long gone when young people are shunted into traditional day programs, strung along years and years in a way that leads to dependence and disability instead of recovery.

This is precisely why I make the case for broadening what constitutes “treatment.”

I was lucky for over four years to employ the services of a trainer at the gym. I couldn’t afford weekly sessions so I met with him every five weeks to be given a new routine to do for the next five weeks on my own and so on. I achieved my fitness because of this trainer.

The trainer was a special person in my life and I’m grateful for the time I had with him while he was here.

This is why I think treatment needs to be expanded to incorporate at the least fitness and nutrition to help individuals with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses heal.

We can’t always do it alone. We need to assemble a treatment team that is comprised of peers and mentors for support as well as a doctor and therapist.

I wrote at HealthCentral years ago about a depressed woman who checked herself into a hotel with a spa for pampering as a form of treatment.

There you go.

I rest my case.

National Sports and Physical Fitness Month

May is National Sports and Physical Fitness Month.

I’m a big fan of having a fit mind in a strong body. I value having mental muscle as well as toned arms.

It’s not ever too late to start a fitness routine. I started to train for life at the gym when I was 45 going into 46. It’s better to do this later than not ever.

I disagreed with a woman who told me if she didn’t get sick by now she saw no reason to change her habits. I didn’t tell her that I thought changing for the better later in life is healthier than not changing at all.

I existed on Velveeta shells-n-cheese and hot dogs and frozen TV dinners when I lived below the poverty line circa the late 1980s. It wasn’t until 20 years later that I got on track with 80 percent healthful eating.

The Mediterranean Diet is by far the best eating plan because it focuses on fruits and vegetables, seafood, and occasionally chicken or turkey, plus whole grains.

In my view it’s better to make positive changes at any time in your life and your recovery rather than continuing to live in ill health.

If you don’t like your body the solution is to exercise. You will feel good in your body when you train. It can be as simple aschecking fitness videos out of the library. An expensive gym membership is not for everyone. Hiking a nature trail might be more your speed. As famously documented in Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild.

I have an enduring fascination with fitness. I might be biased yet I don’t think a person should live in hell for a minute longer than they have to. Delaying treatment or not getting treatment or not making the changes you know you need to make is not healthy.

Why is it that a lot of people resist doing what’s in their best interests? I wonder about this.

Health can lead to happiness. I value mental and physical health and emotional health too.

Certainly trying to do things on your own because you think you should be able to cope on your own often sets you up to backfire. Sometimes you can’t make it on your own. That’s when you call in a team of reputable professionals to help you get better.

I will report back next week on National Sports and Physical Fitness Month techniques.

Stay tuned.

Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month as well as Women’s History Month.

I have an ongoing interest in clean living and will offer some information I’ve read in at least two places.

Divide your weight in half to arrive at the number of ounces of water you should drink each day.

Divide your weight in half to arrive at the grams of protein you should eat each day.

I’ll keep this blog entry short with a recommendation that Tera’s Whey Protein organic whey protein bourbon vanilla version tastes okay and has 20 grams or so of protein in a scoop.

Pour a cup of skim milk into a blender and add a scoop of the bourbon vanilla whey protein. “Blend” for about 30 seconds or so.

Voila: a cheaper post-workout shake you can make on your own in your apartment instead of paying $3.50/per pop for a shake at the gym.

Top 20 Food Choices

Dr. Phil has published another weight loss book. I checked it out of the library only to read the section on the Top 20 Food Choices to eat.

1. Coconut oil (virgin) is a fit fat.
2. Green Tea
3. Mustard (yellow or Dijon)
4. Walnuts
5. Olive oil (extra virgin) is a fit fat.
6. Almonds, unsalted raw or dry roasted
7. Apples
8. Chickpeas / garbanzo beans
9. Dried plums / prunes
10. Greens – any kind of leafy green -e.g. arugula, baby mixed greens, bok choy, collard greens, endive, field greens, kale, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, romaine, baby spinach, watercress, etc.
11. Lentils
12. Peanut butter (natural) – get the kind with no added sugar.
13. Pistachios (roasted, unsalted)
14. Raisins
15. Yogurt (nonfat, nothing added)
16. Eggs
17. Cod
18. Rye
19. Tofu
20. Whey protein, unsweetened.

This is going to be tooting my own horn however I can vouch for eating these Top 20 Food Choices. Along with my strength training routine for the last four years I have adhered to an eating plan that is comprised of a lot of these food choices.

It can’t be a coincidence that I’m in peak condition and fitness at the same time I’ve been eating these food choices.

If you think you can be helped by following Dr. Phil’s diet plan to the letter, by all means buy his book or check it out of the library.

In my estimation simply eating healthful food 80 percent of the time and incorporating these food choices will be sufficient to see long-term benefits.

Super Foods

Years ago at HealthCentral I wrote about promoting health and wellness by eating certain foods. Now Dr. Phil has come out with a list of 20 kinds of food to eat to promote weight loss.

Our daily needs according to the workshop I attended years ago are comprised of: whole grains, Omega 3 essential fatty acids, low fat dairy, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and protein.

According to research at Penn State, dieters who ate lots of whole grains lost more belly fat and improved their levels of an inflammatory marker that is linked to diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

In my estimation getting 20 to 35 gm fiber per day is beneficial. Two servings of whole grains a day before the afternoon is what Pamela Peeke, MD recommends.

Benefits of Omega 3 are improved lipid profile reducing cardiovascular risk, improved diabetes outcome,improved neurotransmission stimulation improving depression, reducing suicide and hostility and improved memory function. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults eat fish at least two times per week.

No-fat dairy is better than low-fat dairy in my estimation. Research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital of 30,000 women in the Women’s Health Study found that an increased intake of low fat dairy products reduced women’s risk of developing hypertension. Some research points to a weight reduction benefit of dairy calcium showing it to trigger the body to burn more fat, particularly around the waistline.

Benefits of eating vegetables include reduced cance3r risk, reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, diabetes prevention, and help with weight control. Benefits of fruits are similar to vegetables.

The recommend serving of nuts and seeds per day is 1/4 cup no more. Walnuts are the most nutrient packed of the nuts and seeds, and contain plant Omega 3-fatty acids, vitamins E and B6, magnesium, protein, fiber, potassium and polyphenols.

Beans contain low fat protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and phytonutrients.

Protein comes from meat,beans, seeds, nuts and fish. I’ve heard that you should divide your weight in half to get the number of milligrams of protein you should have per day. I would clock in at 61 gm.

In the next blog entry I will list Dr. Phil’s Top 20 Foods.

Optimal Wellness Challenge Finale

I realize it was challenging to start a wellness routine in December with two holiday nights.  Yet it’s instrumental to do this at some point rather than not do it at all.

It might surprise readers that I don’t eat a lot of food to begin with.  Or this could be clear from viewing my photos.

On Monday, January 5th I started again with my optimal wellness goal of eating healthful food 80 percent of the time.

One thing I recommend is to eat small healthful meals every 2 to 2 1/2 hours to keep from getting hungry, to regulate your blood sugar, to maintain your energy level throughout the day.

I recommend eating a Kind bar to tide a person over until their next full meal.

Also: I have a surprising suggestion: eat fruit when it’s in season so you can change up the kind of fruit you eat and not get bored eating the same fruit all the time. I recommend this because eating the same food all the time could give you palate fatigue where you don’t want to eat that food anymore.

I used to cook on my own and eat salmon twice a week.  I had salmon so often that I started to eat it only once a week. This is where Omega-3 fish oil gel caps come in handy when you can’t get all your Omega-3 RDA from food.

Thus I’m of a different mind than a lot of people who push fad diets on vulnerable individuals or who champion rigid, hard-to-follow dietary “laws” or restrictions or eating plans.

I say: eat healthfully 80 percent of the time as often as you can. Budget in a treat once a week.

This is my contention because I’m going to tell you something surprising too: I rarely eat whole grains except for whole grain cereal in the morning and sometimes brown rice and I have whole wheat pasta when I cook pasta.

I think that old rule of eating 6 to 11 servings of whole grains per day was ridiculous.  I would say stick to have two servings of whole grains per day and always before 3:00 p.m.  This is what Pamela Peeke, M.D. advises in her book Body for Life for Women.

It’s common sense to take the guidelines offered and research which habits make sense for you to adopt and which ones you can discard.

The last surprising thing I will end here with is that one week, or two weeks of not adhering to the 80 percent rule isn’t going to throw your health in the toilet. Committing to starting again to eat healthfully is what counts.

We all have fallow periods where we don’t always nurture our bodies or our minds in an optimal way.  This is to be expected and planned for. This might last a few days, for weeks, or even longer.  The goal is to not get discouraged. In my next blog entry here I will talk about my own 7-year fallow period (yes 7 years.)

My optimal wellness challenge failed yet I’m not defeated. I’ve started on January 5th again.

Food And Energy

A friend of mine figured out something I’ve always recommended: eat small, healthful “meals” every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day.

I’ll run through this typical plan:

Eat whole-grain high fiber cereal for breakfast or another kind of breakfast that is healthful and has protein and fiber to fuel you up for the day ahead.

Two hours later have a piece of string cheese and 15 almonds. Or one banana or other piece of fruit.

Have lunch two hours later. Include a protein source with your lunch food. Two hours after you eat lunch have apple slices slathered with peanut butter.

Go home and eat a healthful dinner.

Other healthful snacks to substitute in the morning and afternoon are a Kind bar, a fistful of chocolate-covered almonds, whatever fruit is in season. A regular-sized container of raspberries is nearly two cups so it’s two servings of a fruit.

Eating smaller healthful meals throughout the day also gives us a psychological boost because it’s easier to do this than to think we have to scarf down monster portions or serving sizes all the time every day.

Little by little or as the Sicilians would say “picca a picca” is the better way to achieve consistent results: bit by bit.

The friend has one piece of string cheese every 2 hours. No kidding. One piece of string cheese if memory serves has 200 mg. of calcium so you can’t beat it as a natural source of calcium.

In a pinch, you can snack on one serving of Triscuit crackers.

Apples are one of the best kinds of fruit. They’re high in fiber and you can find a variety of apple that you like. I favor organic Fuji apples that are in season in the fall and also now in December. Apples are portable too which makes them a win-win option for when you’re traveling or on the go.

Eating smaller healthful meals throughout the day regulates your blood sugar and helps you maintain consistent energy levels without a quick dip in energy from a traditional sugar coma that certain food induce.

I’ll end here and return with a quick, easy recipe that I made for my friend for lunch.

Optimal Wellness Challenge

In September for Recovery Month the blogger Ashley Smith threw down the challenge to set a wellness goal to achieve for her and her readers.

The point is not that we’ll always be able to do what we set out to. The point is simply to try our best.

I’m fond of the analogy of getting in the ring and trying to win even if you’re defeated. It’s better to know victory AND defeat than to not ever have gotten in the ring. Defeat is the cost of trying. It’s how you get one step closer to winning.

The idea of setting an optimal wellness challenge resonates with me as it nears winter. My goal is to eat healthful food 80 percent of the time.

Just reading ingredient labels turned me off to chocolate candy bars like Twix and Reese’s because-no surprise-they contain natural and artificial flavors. Godiva does seem to be made with real chocolate. And you can buy organic chocolate too.

The goal is not to strive to be perfect. The goal in my humble estimation is to strive for 80 percent healthful foods as part of a long-term consistent eating plan.

I will report back in here at the end of December how it goes with nixing the outright junky food from my life.

One thing I’ll end here with: ban white and processed foods if you do only one thing to start off with.

Replace baked potatoes with sweet potatoes; white rice with brown rice; and regular pasta with whole wheat or farro pasta.

Doing only this will go a long way in improving our health.

I will report back on Thursday with more food news that might just make sense too.

I’ll end here by telling everyone that if you know you go overboard at holiday time with desserts simply have less of the main meal and eat more dessert.

It’s totally true that at the holiday time it’s all about calories in and calories burned.

Try having less of the main meal if you’re going to indulge in the pastry.