Archive for the ‘drinks’ Category

Happy Birthday To Me!

It’s Nichol’s birthday and it’s Wednesday! Two for one!

So I’m 33 today. I’m having some emotional lability about that. Let’s do some pros and cons.

Pro – presents!
Con – single
Pro – cake!
Con – cake makes me fat
Pro – increased recognition that cake makes me fat
Con – I’m going to eat cake anyway
Pro – I’ll exercise more
Con – still single
Pro – still fabulous

Basically, I’m choosing to be happy and only minimally wallow because the pro list includes cake and presents.

There’s also the non-shallow pros. Which include all the accomplishments I’ve racked up since my 31st birthday (mini sprint tri, 5K, weight loss, healthy eating).

I’m actually okay with being 33. I think that if I hit 35 and I’m still single and in school and perpetually broke, I’ll let it affect me a little more but for now, I’m going to celebrate and just be thankful for my life and the many blessings I have reaped. Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally.

The last two weeks have been intense, in reference to my well-being. In a totally good way, but totally intense. There has been a lot of reflection going on in this giant brain of mine.

Now, don’t be alarmed, but I took a day off. A real, honest to goodness day off. No P90, no running, no walking, no biking, no swimming. I slept 12 hours that night.

I have racked up 226 straight days of exercise. Well, it was 221 straight until my day off. I’m beginning to think that I might need a few more of those. Problem is, I had such intense feelings of guilt about it, it almost wasn’t worth it. However, if I’m not resting, my body can’t repair itself. I am currently always aching. Not in a worked out yesterday and I’m sore kind of ache, but a pretty constant, dull throbbing kind of feeling. Probably not a good thing.

I’m still thinking about it. I would have to get over the whole pride thing I have going on. When I make that decision, you will be the first to know.

In the meantime, I’m going to party like its 1979. I’ll see you peeps on the other side of 33.

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Laziness does pay off!

Stop! Nichol time! That means it’s Wednesday and Nichol wrote this blog post.

Breakthrough!

The pounds flew off my body this week. I’m talking like a 5 to 6 pound drop in about 9 days. It was really bizarre and I could not figure out where it had come from. I was still doing good and bad miles and I was eating the same amount of calories. I was even worse this last week because I drank two beers last Friday, two beers on the following Thursday, and whatever beers I had in my fridge on (most of) the other days…

So um… I like beer. But more on that later.

I figured it out right around 5:30 am Saturday morning. Allow me to tell you a story.

So it’s no secret that I am not in the money. I am in fact quite the opposite. I am out of the money. My grocery budget is lucky to be as much as it is (I try really hard for $30 a week, but that’s pretty unreasonable, so it’s usually more like $50).

I was writing down my list on Saturday morning and took a look at the food I have on hand. Fruits, veggies (fresh and frozen), chicken (thank you Frys for already rotisserie-ated chickens), wholly salsa, cheese, couscous, greek yogurt, tortilla chips, and some other stuff. I realized that there were things missing that always used to be staples. Potatoes, breads, rice, et al.

Then I looked over my meal documentation for the last week and a half. My food was so basic. Cut up chicken with some pesto and muenster. Greek yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and agave nectar. Tortilla chips (can’t give them up) with wholly salsa, wholly guacamole, black beans, and shredded cheese. Asparagus with marinara. It’s pretty basic. And I haven’t had to cook.

Then I thought about Thursday. I went out with a friend, had some food and a couple of drinks. I ordered a salmon BLT with grilled veggies. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but I took the bread off the sandwich and just ate the salmon and bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

I realized how simply I was eating, making sure I got all my calories for the day and I had eliminated, totally without thinking about it, all the crappy stuff that I now was only eating in moderation. I do still have a package of udon noodles and angel hair pasta in the pantry, but they may just live there forever. Well, except for the udon, I have some green onion and hoisin sauce that are calling udon’s name…

I am going to keep testing this theory and add it to my eating habits, along with mindful eating and no food within two hours of bedtime. (Almost broke that rule on Thursday, but I couldn’t sleep once I was in bed, so I think I’m doing OK.)

I do know that there are some things that I shouldn’t eat that I will, on occasion. Microwaveable Kraft Mac and Cheese. Ramen. Doritos (only the cheesy). Shock Top. Blue Moon. Coors Light. Vodka and Cranberry. But the better I eat, coupled with continuing my workout, these things won’t have as much of an impact. Which is good because I really do like beer (see above).

Simple Tips To Increase Energy

How many people do you know who aren’t tired? It’s probably easier to count them than to count those who are tired. There are numerous reasons why people are fatigued. These tips can help with many.

Don’t confuse “simple” with “easy.” If these are not part of your regular life, they might not come easily at first, but they are well worth the effort.

Get enough sleep. Seems obvious enough, but I know very few people who make sleep a priority. Not sleeping sufficiently negatively affects the entire rest of your life. Turn off the TV/computer/video games, put down the book, eliminate a few things from the to-do list and get some sleep!

Eat breakfast. Depending on your eating schedule, it might be 12 hours between the last time you eat in a day (if dinner is your last food) and the time you wake up. Your body needs fuel. Good fuel. (Not sugary fuel. Not caffeinated fuel.) Feed it.

Eat moderately-sized meals. Eating too much will make you feel sluggish.

Eat frequently. Going for too long in between meals will make your blood sugar crash, which will make you tired. If you prefer three meals over six, have a small, healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Drink caffeine in moderation. A cup or two of coffee every day isn’t likely to bother your energy levels (unless they’re right before bed and you can’t sleep as a result), but drinking a lot of caffeine can make you agitated and irritable. (And if you’re doing everything else, coffee in the morning should be a perk as opposed to a need.)

Move around more. Sitting in a car, at a desk, or anywhere for an extended period of time drains energy. Spend more of your working time standing up.

Get regular exercise. People complain to me frequently that exercising just makes them tired. If you are not exercising regularly and start doing it, there’s a good possibility it’s going to make you tired. Keep doing it anyway. As your body adapts to not sitting on the couch, you will reap the energy rewards of exercise. But it might take a week or two or three.

Skip low-anything diets. Our bodies need protein, carbs, and fat to function properly. There are good sources of all three, and there are bad sources of all three. Instead of cutting out these nutrients, replace them with healthier sources.

If you are honestly doing all of these things on a daily basis and you are still tired, see your doctor. There is likely an underlying medical issue.

How Much Water Do You Need?

There is considerable debate in the health and medical communities about how much water the average person should drink in a day. The standard advice has been eight glasses. (A glass is eight ounces which, in these super-sized times, hardly seems like a glass.) So 64 ounces of water per day. Half a gallon.

This article from the Huffington Post makes many claims against why we need to drink much water.

One of the arguments of the doc they interviewed is that there is no research to back up claims for drinking more water. I have not read all of the research, so I don’t consider myself qualified to speak to that. (I don’t know the doctor, but I doubt that he has read it all, either.)

I can tell you that for me, the side effects of not drinking water are very obvious and happen fairly quickly. (Being pregnant intensifies the speed at which they show up.)

headaches: While I do occasionally get migraines, I have not connected those to water intake. However, your garden variety headache comes almost exclusively when I am slightly dehydrated. Saturday, I drank 20 or so ounces less than I had been drinking. Sunday morning, I woke up with a headache and dry lips. As soon as I got up, I had a glass of juice and a big glass of water, and the headache dissipated.

fatigue: If I have gotten enough sleep, there are three things that will make me listless: 1-not enough food (or too long since last meal); 2-not enough exercise (has it been a couple of days?); 3-not enough water. Since I figured this out, it’s been pretty easy for me to combat fatigue.

skin tone: I have been a water drinker since 8th grade — before I hit puberty — when I swore off soda. I have always had good skin. Since I didn’t have bad skin that improved with increased water drinking, I can’t assume that this was causal. But the two have definitely co-existed.

constipation: This is another that is exacerbated by pregnancy, fortunately not as quickly as the headache situation. I definitely am more regular and excrete without difficulty when I am well-hydrated. I also have a lot of fiber in my diet (real fiber, not pills or drinks), which I’m sure makes its own contribution.

hemorrhoids: Had them during chemo. Have been told by most formerly pregnant women that I should expect them to return. Hear several currently pregnant women complain about them. Haven’t had a problem so far. Hemorrhoids and constipation go hand-in-hand as well, so if you can take care of the constipation, often the ‘roids will also be taken care of.

water retention: Just like your body will hold on to fat storage when it thinks there’s a famine, it holds on to water when it thinks there’s a drought. If you give your body plenty of water, it is secure in knowing there is plenty of water available, and it will release extra storage holds. This is why people who increase their water intake significantly often lose weight within a couple of weeks — the extra water is coming off.

Some things that the article mentioned that were either incorrect or made me bristle:

“if our bodies are in need of water, they’ll let us know by making us thirsty”

Sometimes. Sense of thirst decreases as you age. Especially among the elderly, significant dehydration can occur before a sense of feeling thirsty hits. If you have a medical condition that requires the monitoring of fluid intake, of course you should not just wait until you’re thirsty. If you exercise regularly — especially in hot and/or dry conditions — you’ll need more water. So if you’re young, sedentary, and live in a moderate climate, listening to body cues will suffice.

Even with that in mind, also remember that often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Address hunger first with a glass of water and see if you’re still hungry in 10 to 15 minutes.

And if you’re thirsty frequently, despite drinking plenty of fluids, it could be a symptom of a medical condition.

“drinking too much water can actually be dangerous by causing low blood sodium levels (a condition called hyponatraemia) and exposing people to pollutants in the water.”

To be honest, this drives me a little bonky.

Yes, it is possible to overhydrate. Yes, that is a dangerous situation which is possibly fatal. However, outside of medical conditions (see: doctor, not blog), there are two groups of people at risk: 1-endurance athletes (who drink more water than they need during a race without also replacing the sodium lost through sweat); 2-fraternity brothers-to-be (who have, in some cases, been told to drink excessive amounts of water at once — with fatal consequences — as part of the rushing process). Are you going to get sick or die from drinking 64 ounces of water spread out over the course of one day? No. Not even if you do it every day.

And exposure to pollutants? Really? If you have been reading this blog for more than two days, you know I am big on reducing exposure to chemicals. However, not drinking water? What should I drink instead? Coffee? Made from water. Tea? Made from water. Soda? Don’t get me started. Juice? If it’s fresh, organic juice, there might not be chemicals in it, but who is going to make enough juice every day to fill their hydration needs? Not to mention the sugar and caloric consequences of drinking that much juice.

Other things to consider:

Many foods have a high water content. If you are eating lots of fruits and veggies, you are getting a fair amount of water from them.

Drinks that are not water will also help to hydrate your body. However, they all have strings attached, including calories, sugar, other chemicals, etc. Some also have mild diuretic properties which runs counter to the goal.

If your urine is clear or slightly yellow, your fluid intake is sufficient, whether you’re drinking 50 or 150 ounces per day.

It is best to spread out your fluid intake over the course of a day.

My general opinion is to make water the primary source of hydration and drink enough to make your body happy. This requires a little guess-and-check; depending on what you eat, how active you are, where you live, and your body chemistry, this is going to be different for different people. I don’t think that saying “you need 64 ounces of water every day” is good advice, but neither is “you don’t need to drink that much water every day.” I’m currently drinking 100+ ounces every day, and if I don’t get it all in (mostly before 2 p.m.), the consequences are close to immediate. When I’m not pregnant, I don’t need as much.

Test it out. How much water do you need in a day? Has replacing most other beverages with water made a difference in your body?

How Much Wine Is In Your Glass?

A while back, I wrote about cereal and portion control, and how the bowl very much affects consumption unless you use a measuring cup.

Unless your weakness is going back for seconds (and thirds?), using smaller dishes and bowls can significantly help you manage your portions when you eat at home. For most of us most of the time, the plate/bowl/glass needs to be full in order for us to be satisfied with the serving.

I was chatting online with a friend recently. “I have a picture I have to send you!” he said.

His parents had received wine glasses as a wedding gift in 1977.  Many of them had broken over time, and they were recently gifted a new set.

The picture he sent me was a side-by-side: 1977 glasses on the left, 2011 glasses on the right:

Now, I don’t know all that much about drinking wine — I have never tasted one that I liked — so he filled me in.

The standard serving size for a glass of wine is about 5 ounces (four servings per bottle), and that will fill the glass on the left a smidge over half way. Five ounces of wine “looks pathetic” (in his words) in the glass on the right.

Suppose you know that a serving of wine is roughly half of a wine glass and pour that way. You’re getting about twice as much in today’s glasses! So your one glass of wine is really two glasses of wine.

I suspect — though I haven’t looked — that you can find wine glasses that aren’t enormous, but you’d need to do some looking around.

How big are your dishes, bowls, glasses, wine glasses, etc? Do you think this helps or hinders your eating and drinking habits?

ADHD and Food Sensitivities

About a week ago, I came across this article about ADHD and food sensitivities. It discusses the results of a study suggesting that as many as two-thirds of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing side effects to a food sensitivity. It didn’t weed out any food or additive in particular — the diet the children were put on eliminated quite a few foods — but there were dramatic behavioral changes.

There was also a paragraph that mentioned that stimulant drugs may have a negative effect on children’s growth.

The main point was that if a child is exhibiting symptoms of ADHD, the first course of action should be diet modification, not medication.

I posted the article on Facebook, and two friends with young children posted almost right away. With their permission, I am sharing their stories here.

Holly has first-hand experience with this problem:

I had a nurse practitioner tell me I should look into having my then 4 yr old son tested for ADHD, after spending only 5 minutes with him. I was a bit annoyed since it was the 1st time she met him & the fact that we were waiting for an hour to be seen so of course he was a bit “hyper”… but he does get super hyper when he’s tired. His regular pediatrician said to give him more protein to help & since doing so he is no longer hyper, and actually tells me when he wants to take a nap 🙂

I knew his problem wasn’t from too much junk food because we rarely give him any, and he’s an awesome eater, he snacks on fruits & veggies … and the kid goes to bed at 7 p.m. and will sleep til 7 a.m., sometimes as late as 9:30, so he was getting a good night’s sleep. He’s just a kid that requires a lot of sleep (probably from trying to keep up w/2 older brothers). And with going to Pre-K there was no time for a nap. I started giving him high protein foods & it was like magic. It’s only been 2 weeks and he already knows it makes a difference in him. He’ll tell me “I need my protein Mom,” or he’ll ask to take a nap. I felt like Mom people looked at and said to themselves “can’t that woman control her kid.” Now I don’t have to, he can control himself and we are both happier 😉

Amanda’s troubles weren’t food-related, but they didn’t require medication, either:

In our sleep issues with my oldest, we also learned that many of these are misdiagnosed. In reality, in addition to better nutrition, what the kids need is more sleep. They are hyper because they are SO tired and trying to stay awake.

After everything we experienced with her, it was easy for us to see how sleep deprivation could be read as hyperactivity. She had a feritin deficiency which seemed to cause Restless Leg Syndrome which led to other issues. When she was overtired, she was hyper and disobedient. Her entire personality changed. What a gift to have our sweet girl back now! I did a lot of reading online, and I think that was where I read a statistic about the percentage of kids they believe need sleep, not drugs. Every time I see parents with their kids in the store at 9 or 10 at night yelling at them to behave, I want to cry. Just take the poor kid home to bed!!! Kids act up when they’re tired, they can’t help it. And to expect them to sit still in school all day and pay attention… Well it’s just too much!

Do you have any experience with ADHD that wasn’t? What do you think about medicating kids?

“Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it.”

I had an argument with a coworker just the other day.

You see, at the school where I work, this week is ridiculous potluck week.  Everyone on campus is assigned to contribute something on one day this week.  There are 10 to 15 people bringing stuff each day. Monday morning, there were bagels, cupcakes, muffins, chocolate-covered pretzels, some other baked goods that I couldn’t identify…

Basically, all week, there is just about an endless supply of crap.

So back to the argument.

She was talking about gaining weight at this time of year, and she cited this week’s potluck as a problem.

I told her: “Just because it’s here doesn’t mean you have to eat it.” (Yes, I know that’s not the most grammatically-pleasing sentence…)

She disagreed and said that of course she’s going to eat it because it’s all so delicious. I reiterated that she was making a choice to do that, and that she doesn’t actually have to eat it.

She snapped. “What would you and your skinny body know about not eating?”

Um. Plenty 🙂 My body didn’t used to be skinny, and if I ate everything that I saw that looked tasty, I wouldn’t be skinny. (Actually, I don’t think of myself as skinny, regardless — just slender — but that’s not the point here.) Don’t believe me? Follow me through the teachers’ lunch room…

While there are some slender people who can eat whatever they want and not get fat, it’s not true for the majority of people. Most of us are conscious about what we’re eating (and in what quantity), and we exercise.

Consider that it’s habits, not metabolism, that is causing the problem. Added bonus: you have control over your habits.

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