Christmas and New Year’s are fast approaching, maybe they’ve already passed by the time you’re reading this article. How many times have you heard or maybe even you’ve said something along the lines of “Ugh...I’ve eaten so much this weekend I shouldn't eat for a week.” So, let’s look at this. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Enjoying family and friends (small groups only this year, of course) and savoring some of your favorite holiday treats. With this can come eating more sweets and more calories in general also known as “overindulging”. Practicing moderation (having a few bites then tossing the rest, or 1 or 2 of your favorite things) here would be key, however this is something that should be practiced so if you’re not there yet, don't worry. So, let’s say you ate more than necessary around holidays and you’re feeling bloated, tired and “off” in general. Should you actually not eat for a week? No!
So, what should you do? Eat normally, move in a way that feels good. Now, if your “normal” eating isn’t effective for helping you feel good, then you may need to reassess your current situation. What I’m talking about is eating plenty of fiber. Think raw sauerkraut to get your guts feeling better, lots of fresh and cooked veggies however you like them, fruits and “tolerable to you grains” and some lean protein. Intense exercise may or may not feel great after some extra eating. Listen to your body here. A long walk could feel great, lifting heavy weights might also feel amazing and you’re likely to hit some PRs due to some extra glycogen (carbs) stored in your muscle tissue. It’s important to note that I’m not talking about “burning off the extra calories”, I’m simply talking about moving to get your body feeling more normal, regulating your digestion and getting your mind clear from some sugar fog.
Sure, doing an extreme diet after the holidays might be tempting but, eating whole unprocessed foods, drinking water, moving however feels good and making sleep a top priority will not only get you feeling better, but possibly feeling better than before than the holidays. The key to this is being consistent. Showing up everyday and doing the work necessary to feel your best.
Eating some extra food around the holidays really isn't a big deal. Our bodies are very adaptive and can adjust to some extra calories here and there. Regardless, before diving face first into the sugar cookies, take a minute and think about if you really want one. If the answer is “yes”, eat one, if the answer is “no”, you don't actually have to eat it just because it’s Christmas. This year has been a weird one and the holiday season is no different, so enjoy every minute of your weird Christmas and don't stress about the extra food.
Schedule a visit with our in house nutritional therapist, Hannah Roeter BS, FNTP
Protein Powder Debate
“Should I take a protein supplement?” is a common question I get asked. Here’s my answer: it depends. Protein can be a highly debated topic which I’m not going to dive too deep into, but here are some brief thoughts.
Protein supplementation through protein powders can be a very useful tool when exercising with the intention of getting stronger and building muscle mass. When we exercise, we literally tear apart our muscles (which causes muscle soreness) and they have to rebuild themselves. That’s how we get muscle hypertrophy (growth). If we are not getting sufficient protein intake or overall calorie intake, our bodies cannot repair themselves which can lead to fatigue, poor muscle recovery and feeling overall really depleted.
There can be an argument made against protein supplementation. It encourages laziness with food preparation and also leads down the path of more processed foods instead of focusing on getting the majority of your calories from whole food sources. There’s something very methodical about eating and chewing slowly to digest your food. While I wholeheartedly agree with this, this is also real life and we need to find a balance. For me personally, I do supplement with protein after most workouts because I tend to do higher intensity workouts with an emphasis on weightlifting. If I were exercising at a lesser intensity with no emphasis on muscle gain, I wouldn’t care as much and I’d focus on eating whole foods the majority of the time to meet my needs.
It can also be a great way to get additional nutrients by adding in leafy greens and berries to your shakes. If you tolerate dairy, adding in some yogurt can be beneficial for not only additional protein but also probiotics for gut health. People like to argue that smoothies/shakes should be avoided because eating whole foods should be the priority and for some, it can lead to eating excess food because the smoothie didn’t “register” that they've eaten their meal. If this is you, do what works for you and eat whole foods. If this isn't you, then I say a smoothie everyday is no problem at all. You’re getting protein, carbs, fat (optional) and fruits and veggies so, I’m really not sure how that’s ever a bad thing.
There are some guidelines though. Aim for getting a protein powder with the least amount of ingredients and no artificial sweeteners like aspartame (acesulfame) and splenda (sucralose). Stevia is just fine in my opinion with minimal to no gut reaction for most folks. Sugar alcohols which are xylitol, malitol and erythritol should also be avoided when possible due to the gut reaction many have from them such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Bottom line is, if you’re exercising at an intense pace with the goal of getting more fit and adding more muscle mass to your body, I think it’s a good idea to supplement with a protein powder post workout, especially if eating enough protein is a struggle for you. Keep in mind that it’s not an excuse not to cook and eat whole foods, and most importantly, don’t forget to eat your vegetables!
Interested in finding a personalized approach for yourself? Schedule a visit with our in house nutritional therapist, Hannah Roeter, BS, FNTP.
There are so many ideas in the nutrition world these days, that some people just end up feeling perplexed, perhaps even accompanied by a little bit of “analysis paralysis”. In an attempt to dispel some confusion, I’m going to highlight two of the most important ideas today. One term is macros (short for macronutrients). The other is JERF (abbreviation for Just Eat Real Food).
Let’s look into these terms and what they actually mean. Starting with Macros first: it simply means the amounts of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in a diet. Typically when people say they’re “tracking macros”, it means they are keeping track of protein, fat, carbohydrates and total calories.
JERF is the other term we’re diving into also known as Just Eat Real Food. Typically when people say this (or use it as a hashtag on social media) they are referring to eating whole, unprocessed foods most of the time. Tracking your whole food intake is commonly not practiced here.
Now that we have an understanding of what I’m talking about, let’s look into some benefits and pitfalls that can happen with both practices.
Benefits of macros based eating include enjoying balanced meals and snacks most of the time since you're trying to keep your macro percentages (carb, protein, fat) similar each time you eat. It teaches people appropriate portion sizes by having people measure the food they’re consuming. This can be beneficial for many, since we tend to underestimate certain foods such as fat and overestimate other things such as protein and carbohydrates. Oftentimes, people can tend to undereat then overeat every few days because overall total calories have been too low. This can be especially prominent in people who have done poorly designed diets in the past. Tracking can keep this in check (to be clear, I’m not talking about binge eating behaviors here). It also teaches consistency, which can be a challenge for yo-yo dieters or for people who eat sporadically. Everyday, you’re eating similar foods, similar portions and similar total calories.
Tracking macros does have its share of pitfalls however. IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) is another common social media hashtag and while it can be great for fitting an occasional “indulgence” in your dietary plan it can also lead people down the path of poptarts and protein shakes all day, everyday. For some people it can also trigger their past of eating disorders or disordered eating patterns from past attempts at logging calories (typically very low calorie diets) and they can also become a bit obsessive if they don’t hit their numbers perfectly each day.
Now, let’s consider the benefits of JERF. Eating whole foods the majority of the time also means you’re limiting processed foods which is always good. The focus tends to be more on quality of the food which is a great mindset shift from “how can i get the cheapest chicken breast?” to “how was this raised” “what were the farming practices?” etc. It can also be a great way to reduce plastic use by reducing the amount of pre packaged foods you purchase each week. It also has a great focus on homemade meals with nutrient dense ingredients.
The pitfalls of JERF: The one I see most frequently is undereating. Healthy foods such as lean meats, beans, veggies and fruits are pretty low in calories so it makes it easier to eat less.This can be helpful from a fat loss perspective but you need to remember less food isn’t always better. On the flip side of this, it can also be really easy to overeat things such as fatty cuts of meats (bacon, sausage) and nuts. Nuts are extremely easy to eat (especially if they’re roasted and salted!) and 1 serving is about 14 almonds. I don't know about you, but I can definitely eat more than 14 almonds at a time. It can also become really easy to eat too much fat, not enough protein and not enough carbohydrates. There’s more to this concept, but I’ll leave that for another day.
In conclusion, successful implementation of either method does require knowing yourself, and knowing your history of eating. They both benefit from some experimentation to see what works best for you and where you’re at in your life currently. Something that has worked well for you in the past may, or may not work again. Be open to trying new things and to your own process. They both come down to how you do it, the amount of head space you have along with any goals you have.
Interested in learning more? Book an appointment with Hannah Roeter to organize your best plan.
You may have seen an orchestra tune their instruments at the start of a performance. Is there a specific pitch they tune to? Who sets that initial pitch? How do we know if the principal violist is right? Technically it doesn’t matter if the principal violist is “right”, what matters is whether everyone else is tuned to her. However, most orchestra’s these days use a tuning fork for the violist to get a precise note.
Thoughts on New Year's Resolutions
2020 has been weird. I think that's something we can all agree on. Perhaps some of us would like to forget most of 2020 and starting January 2, 2021, "new year, new me" and with that comes a strict eating plan and an unrealistic exercise program (i.e. No sugar, alcohol or processed carbs and exercising everyday for 30 days) that likely isn't sustainable in the long term. While I do think there’s a time and place for this, the instances are rare. As we approach the time of year when many people across the world start making New Year's Resolutions, I want you to consider a few things.
Many resolutions are related to physical health which is a very worthwhile goal in my opinion. Some people like to poo poo on new year's resolutions because they "don't work". While this can be true, I think the idea of someone trying to better themselves should never be poo'ed on. I think people set unrealistic goals that aren't attainable and that's where failure often happens.
So, let's dive into this. Failure to be successful with your goals often happens when (or even before) they are set. Example: "I want to lose 15 pounds by my birthday in February and exercise everyday" Sounds like a good idea, right? let's think about this. Why specifically by your birthday? Why did you give yourself so little time? Why do you want to lose 15 pounds? Will you actually exercise everyday? Let's begin to think about the big picture. Any body change followed with habit/mindset change takes at least 6 months-probably longer to be honest depending on your current situation and how many "failed" diets/training programs you've done in the past. Consistency wins the race every single time. This isn't the sexy news you were probably hoping for. When I say 6 months, that's a small part of the bigger picture. What do you really want to achieve? Overall health? Improved blood work? Have your clothes fit better? Sleep better? Improved mood? Get some dang muscles popping out of your shirt? These take time, my friends. We are not here to "survive" the holidays and then lose the extra pounds starting January 2 not to mention any pounds gained and muscle lost during the lockdowns. We are here for more than that. Ask yourself "how could improving my health improve my life and those close to me?" Having bulging biceps is a totally fine goal, but will you be motivated in 1 year to still work as hard as needed for looks alone? or would it better serve you to have improved blood work, a good night's sleep, and clothes that fit comfortably? If visible abs or a gun show (or whatever your initial goal was) are a byproduct of this, great. If not, great.
If you can change 3 things this year about how you think, eat and move, your life will be so much fuller in 6 months not to mention a year and beyond.
Mindset-change 1 thought pattern such as, having a genuinely kind thought about yourself when you see yourself naked in the mirror.
Nutrition- consistency of 90% adherence for 365 days is so much greater in the long term than perfection for 30 days.
Movement- 2x/wk= 730 workouts a year is greater than 30-60 days out of the year doing it everyday.
It's important to note that I do think you should move more than 2x a week, but this HAS to be attainable for you. 2x week snowballs into 3 and 4 etc. Maybe you travel or get sick or injured, but guess what? The habit is there and you'll start back up again so much easier than that 1 time 7 months ago you exercised for 30-60 days straight.
Hannah Roeter B.S. FNTP
Meditation is a word you may have seen thrown around rather recently. This ancient practice has become rather vogue in recent years. For millennia, religious societies across the world have employed it as a fundamental part of their way of life. Eastern schools from Hinduism to Taoism teach varieties of meditative practices. Many shamanistic societies also consider it as a fundamental aspect of their school. Even Isaac, son of Abraham is mentioned to have meditated in Genesis. Numerous Christian sects include mediation, of various methods, in their regimen as well. And now in the 21st century, meditation is making its place known in the increasingly secular west. Why is this “activity” so espoused for so long? Is it inherently religious? What do we have to learn from it? Let’s consider some of these questions.
Probably the school of thought most commonly associated with mediation is Buddhism. In his quest to end his own suffering Siddartha Guatama attempted many practices employed by the mystics of his time. He studied various yogas. He engaged in various methods of self mortification. Living in the jungle, he fasted until emaciation. This was only until he decided that there must be some purer way to end desire. It was then that he chose to sit under the Bodhi Tree and meditate until the end of his suffering was achieved, which it shortly was. It is apparent that meditation was already practiced in his society, however, his Middle Way placed greater focus and emphasis on this activity in particular.
Since his time, meditation has been a core pillar of the myriad of schools that follow his teaching. At its core meditation is a practice of self control. In a common version, one chooses to sit and follow the breath. Oftentimes, almost continuously, in fact, this focus on the breath will become distracted with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bodily sensations. The practitioner will then compassionately, and non-judgmentally return focus back on to the breath. While simple, this practice does have quite broad effects.
We become increasingly compassionate, as we are forced to be compassionate to ourselves with every straying of the mind that is kindly returned back to the breath (Kristeller & Johnson, 2005). This in turn leads to a more compassionate perspective on one's neighbors, as the mind becomes more and more conditioned to respond to phenomena with non-judgement. Additionally, one begins to become more aware of what one is thinking, feeling, sensing. Instead of being buffeted by a constant stream of inputs that can cast us around without our noticing, we become more aware and in control of these inputs and whether or not they require a response from us. This has a calming effect on the mind in general. One becomes more and more able to navigate the sea of experience with less and less panic. Meditation is like a muscle. The more we use it the stronger it becomes. We can become more and more in control of our own thoughts. While beneficial for religious societies, in their quests to purify and hallow the self, the effects may be likewise obtained by the Western practitioner.
Mental health professionals have been increasingly recommending it as a method to alleviate varieties of stress induced disorders. Anxiety and depression is shown to be more easily managed when combated with this practice (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018). Perhaps, this rise in popularity is for good reason. There are even numerous apps to assist the initiate with the nascent practice. While a long road the destinations are valuable. The path of Meditation is a journey that one takes alone, side by side the millions who practice today and in centuries past.
Harvard Health Publishing. (2018, August 12). How meditation helps with depression. Harvard Men's Health Watch. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/how-meditation-helps-with-depression
Kristeller, J. L., & Johnson, T. (2005, May 23). CULTIVATING LOVING KINDNESS: A TWO‐STAGE MODEL OF THE EFFECTS OF MEDITATION ON EMPATHY, COMPASSION, AND ALTRUISM. Journal of Religion & Science. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00671.x
Staff at Mission Health & Wellness regularly contribute to this blog including Nick Carlo, Hannah Roeter, Courtney Mohr Taylor, and Dr. Kristen Acesta