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I totally fell for this click bait, 30 Foods Under 40 Calories, from Health Magazine and guess what? Every one of them, except tea, is a vegetable or fruit. 

I knew this ahead of time, I really did, but I wanted to believe otherwise because, as much as I love eating fruits and vegetables, I love processed food. But alas, time over time, I learn why vegetables and fruits should be the main thing I eat all day long.

Further reading: The concept of Crowding Out to lose weight and be healthy.

Me: Look, I love you, but I made exactly the amount of cheese and crackers I want to eat right now. Wife: But I only ... Me: EXACTLY the amount

I can relate to this tweet so much, except it’s not my fiance usually saying it, it’s me. Before I put food on my plate, I portion-out exactly what my diet allows; meaning what will keep me healthy and keep my blood sugar even.

Also, my brother used to take food off my plate, so I have a strong reflective action to anyone who takes food off my plate.

So take at your own risk, or better yet, ask before you take. I’m a sharing person, I really am, but you may just hear from me that what’s on my plate is EXACTLY the amount of food I wanted.

 

 

 

Venison sausage, 1/2 cup red quinoa, and raw green & red peppers and cucumber

Venison sausage, 1/2 cup red quinoa, and raw green & red peppers and cucumber

I think a lot of people, including me, tend to think cooked vegetables at dinner only (unless it’s a salad). I’m well-known for my love of grilled vegetables and roasted vegetables, which my fiance rightfully complains stink up the house, but sometimes I’m in a hurry or just plain don’t want to spend the time cooking vegetables.

There’s still debate on whether raw or cooked vegetables are better for you, but I say, on nights when you just don’t feel like it, go ahead and throw raw veggies on your plate and call it done.

 

Ah, the new year is upon us, which means the gym is flooded with new year’s resolution people. Most regular gym goers hate this time of year because the gyms are crowded, but know it will be short-lived. I get inspired by more people trying to become healthier.

One of the main reasons I think people quit coming to the gym is that it seems so complicated. But here’s the secret: It isn’t.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me to go with them to the gym and learn how to weight lift. I go, and the main question I get afterward is, “That’s it? That seems to simple.” Yep, it does, and it is.

So why does it seem so complicated?

  • Trainers make it that way. I’ve blogged about this before, trainers are salespeople. Their job performance at most gyms is based on how many of their clients they get to renew their training packages. So think about it, their goal is convince you that you need them, and one of their favorite ways to do this is to make things look so complicated that you couldn’t possibly do it on your own.
  • Gym regulars get bored. So they try new things. Or, they haven’t realized yet that muscle confusion is (mostly) a myth. This is one of the reasons why you see the regulars doing crazy, complicated things. But you don’t need to. After a couple of years, if you get bored, sure, go ahead, try something fancy now and then, but when you are just getting started, you don’t need to make your workouts complicated.
  • Gym regulars have different goals. Yes, professional athletes and bodybuilders do more complicated things. That’s because they have vastly different goals than most people. Unless your goal is to become one of them, you don’t need to do fancy stuff.
  • The fitness industry tries to hook you with “new” things. This isn’t necessarily bad, I like trying new classes and such. But, as someone who has been an athlete since age 4, I can tell you that “new” is actually “repackaged.” For example, High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) looks suspiciously like the old lactate training I did in high school swimming.

Recommendations for the average person and general gym-goer

Unless you are planning to become a professional athlete or fitness competitor, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Focus mostly on diet. This is, by far, more important than the gym. If you want to hire a professional, I recommend a registered dietician vs. a trainer.
  • You don’t need to do more than an hour per day at the gym, 5-6 days per week. I plan to do a whole post about this someday, but seriously, no more than an hour per day, I don’t care what the gym regulars or trainers tell you.
  • You should enjoy your cardio workouts. I personally like to learn a new skill through cardio (such as dancing, karate, etc.). I can’t stand to watch the bored people on the cardio machines at the gym. Unless you genuinely enjoy that, don’t be one of them. Find something you enjoy and…
  • Know your target heart rate and make sure you’re in it during all cardio sessions.
  • Weight training should be straight-forward and simple. There are two books I recommend (pick one, then when you get bored, go to the other) to get started:
    • Body Sculpting Bible (the link is for the women’s version, but there’s one for men too).  I used to carry this book to the gym with me everyday I was on the program. I used it so much over a couple of years that I destroyed the binding! I love that it shows pictures, and comes with a DVD to show you how to do every exercise.
    • Body for Life. Ridiculously simple weight-lifting and cardio program.

Of food rituals

A pink pig made of marzipan sweet almond paste in a plastic bag that reads "Good luck". Net weight 1.41 oz, 40 grams

Marzipan pig to celebrate the new year. (ignore the mess, we’d just moved in to our new house!)

This is my New Years piggy. If you’re not familiar with this tradition, Germans consume a pig on New Years Eve to bring good luck in the New Year. You can do this either by actually eating pork or by eating a marzipan pig  (Marzipanschweine).

Admittedly, it’d be a lot better for me as a hypoglycemic, or pretty much anyone, to eat the pork vs. marzipan, but a little indulgence now and then isn’t a terrible thing. Also, I’m not superstitious in any way, but it’s fun to keep some of these traditions alive.

But that doesn’t mean I have to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

In fact, I ate this little piggy over 4 days, and always immediately after a high protein meal (because that’s when it will impact my blood sugar the least). I also bought the smallest piggy I could find.

And that’s the trick with food traditions. You don’t have to give them up, but it’s not a blank check to stuff your face and trash your blood sugar & diet. Take a bit or two, savor the hell out of it, and walk away. It’s hard, but you’ll feel so much better overall when you do it.

Christmas workout

Christmas, for me, isn’t an excuse to skip out on my health. And since I took yesterday off (usually Sunday is my rest day), I had to squeeze in a workout today.  Most gyms are closed, I didn’t get home til after dark (so no outdoor workout for me), and I needed cardio, so I had to resort to the one full-length cardio video I had, TurboJam.

Trust me, this isn’t an ad for these videos. I find the instructor annoying and her martial arts skills scary bad, but hey, it makes me sweat and works my abs, and I only have to use the video 1-2 times per year, so TurboJam it is.

Yes, I know, diet is more important, but that can be hard when eating away from home so much, so my workouts help keep me semi on track, my blood sugar in  decent check (staying away from the sweets), and my stress level low.

 

 

Photo of Turbo Jam exercise video playing on my TV

Ohhhhh I’m not looking forward to this…

Photo of a BeachBody workout video warning that reads, "You should always warm up for a few minutes before beginning any workout, and you should never exercise beyond the level at which you feel comfortable.

I know what they mean, people can take it too far, but part of the point of exercising is to push your limits, slightly.

 

Stress impacts your body. At least, that’s what all of the research tells us. It also impacts your blood sugar, which makes it a very important topic for those of us with hypoglycemia. And, oftentimes, especially as hypoglycemics, we’re so involved in making the correct diet and fitness decisions, that our mental health, our personal well-being goes by the wayside. In this series, we’ll discuss a variety of ways to manage your stress and, in the process, manage your blood sugar.

So I have this friend. Let’s call her Lisa. And her and her husband are about to do something incredibly daring and amazing; they are moving to a foreign country at the end of this year.

That’s amazing enough, but here’s where the incredible part comes in, neither of them are fluent in the language and neither of them have secured jobs yet. But they are going nonetheless.

Right now, they are under quite a bit of stress, and understandably so. Everything about this decision seems very illogical. But you know what? I admire them for doing it anyway and I’m glad they are.

When I think back to the stories that older people have told me about their lives, those that they are the most proud of and those that are the most interesting to tell, it’s never “I worked hard, bought a house, raised a family.” Those are admirable deeds, but it’s the stories about throwing caution to the wind, taking a chance on life, taking a leap of faith, that make life so memorable and make for great stories. The tales of “We went backpacking across Europe for a year” or “I decided to spend two years in Asia volunteering for an aid organization” are the ones I, and I’m guessing we all, want to hear.

And here’s the thing about those stories, some don’t well, but you don’t hear any regrets. Sometimes people come back from backpacking across Europe and are so broke they had to move back in with parents. Sometimes they try something and it fails that they have to come home. But they recover, and they will still tell you it’s worth it. And, when the story is told later, you rarely hear someone focus on the end and what went wrong. They instead focus on the adventure along the way.

So Lisa, I’m 100% in your corner and cheering you on. If it helps to read this post when things become uncertain, it’d be an honor if you did so. Cheers to your new adventure!