The “Common Sense” Detox

I’m feelin’ all fired up and positive today. Fihahed up baybee! I had a great weekend, full of friends, family, Tommy Boy (my man, not the movie) sleeping, spinning, relaxing. This was the first weekend in months that I didn’t have every second accounted for, and it was nice to be able to relax and do things last minute. Dare I say I was being spontaneous?!

Anyways, I’m doing a little reset with my eating habits. Ever since the Sugar Detox, I’ve been indulging a little too much. Just being lazy really. Not really even with sweets, just with stupid things, like gluten free tortilla chips, cheese, this ridiculous chicken salad from this deli that is 100% not Paleo. Dumb things that are making me feel not so good. Shocking, I know. We are going to Bermuda in 4 weeks so I figured that’s plenty of time to shed this little layer I’ve packed on. I’ve been pretending I’m a bear, and it’s winter, so I need to have an extra coat of fat for me to live off of. Right…

So what is this plan I’m doing for the next 4 weeks? Is it a Whole30? 21 Day Sugar Detox? Juice cleanse? Nope. This is self made by me, and I’ve decided to call it the “Common Sense” aka the “Get Your Shit Together” Detox. Here’s the thing: EVERY time I’ve done a detox, I’ve gotten sick. I think I stress myself out so much and think about food way too much and get overwhelmed and anxious and I make myself CRAZY. At this point, I know my body like.. (I was about to say the back of my hand, but that is my body, so that’s a great analogy. Way to go, Emily). I know my body better than ever before. Since I’ve cut things out of my diet, I know what makes me feel good, what makes me feel like shit, what makes me gain weight, what makes me maintain/lose weight. Get ready to have your mind blown…

I’m only going to eat and drink things that are good for me and make me feel good and will make me lose the few pounds I would like to lose. OMG WHAT?! Say WHAT?! I am being logical? Since I’ve gotten into the full time world of fitness, it is really mind boggling to me that nutrition and people’s diets becomes a foreign language to them. It’s not that difficult: eat well, lose weight, feel good. Eat shitty, feel shitty, gain weight. Boom.

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Ok, so apple cider vinegar makes me feel not so great but I can deal…

So what’s the plan? Here’s my “Get Your Shit Together” plan that I’ve come up with:

– Cut out processed sugars (no dark chocolate nibs every night. Wah!)
– Eat more protein, especially in the morning
– Drink more water (if that’s even humanly possible)
– Don’t buy dried mangos (because you will eat the whole bag, every time)
– No booze (gonna have to cut out that one drink per month…)
– More fish, less beef
– More veggies as snacks, less fruit
– No “gluten free” garbage
– Vitamins, fish oil and apple cider vinegar every day

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So there you have it. I will be keeping you all updated with progress! I’m not weighing myself before/after because I frankly could care less what the number on the scale says. I’ll know if I did a good job by how I feel in my bikini!

Anyone down to do this with me? How do you get yourself back on track?

-Emily

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Q&A with the ARD

Since it’s the New Year, I’m sure many of you are resolving to get back on track with nutrition and are resetting the ol’ system after the holidays. I thought it would be an appropriate time to sit down with my fellow spin instructor and friend, Katie, who is on her way to becoming a registered dietician. (And by sit down, I mean email back and forth. You could not pick two people with more opposite schedules! We pass each other coming on and off the bike) Anyways, I’ve been getting really interested in nutrition lately as I’ve been working at a gym that primarily focuses on weight loss and nutrition, and wanted to pick Katie’s brain about how she got started and what it’s like working full time in the nutrition field. Get ready for some serious knowledge to be DROPPED up on yo face.

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What inspired you to become a registered dietitian? Did you have an “a-ha!” moment to find your true calling?

Well, I guess you could call it an “a-ha” moment – but I think of it as more like an “a-ha” explosion! I was working in corporate finance and had been traveling like a mad-woman. Although I knew I wasn’t in the right field, I never had any time to sit down and think about what I really wanted to do. When the financial market crashed in the fall of 2008, I suddenly had some free time on my hands. I was really interested in fitness and nutrition and found myself reading nutrition blogs with gusto. But I was frustrated by the amount of misinformation out there. I couldn’t believe that people with little to no education or background in nutrition were making blatant recommendations for lifestyle changes on their blogs! That really got my you-know-what in a wad. I thought, “we really need someone who can both understand the science of nutrition and communicate it to the public.” And that is what I call an “a-ha!” explosion.
What’s the biggest challenge you face when working with patients? 

Wow – that’s a loaded question! It really depends on what patient population I’m working with. It’s challenging to work with people who don’t believe that nutrition has a place in the hospital setting. It’s challenging to work with people who think it’s “too late” to make positive changes in their lives. But the most challenging people to work with – and this isn’t limited to patients! – are the people who just don’t believe that nutrition is based in science. While I hope that is slowly beginning to change, it is very challenging to sit down with a patient who plans to educate me about proper nutrition. I compare it to showing up at my accountant’s office and trying to do his taxes 🙂

Being a spin instructor and fitness junkie, I’m sure you’ve heard tons of people say “well I work out all the time, so I can eat whatever I want”. What do you have to say to the nay-sayers?!

 

Ah if only it were so simple! Our bodies are such complex and impressive systems, which makes it challenging to maintain or lose weight. It is never one simple fix but rather a lifestyle approach that will make a significant difference in the long-term. Sure, you could be one of those blessed individuals who can eat a ton of junk food, hit the elliptical for 30 mins, and maintain a svelte physique. But have you ever thought of your health from the outside-in? You’ll find individuals with heart, liver, or lung disease who may look “healthy” from the outside, but are far from it on the inside. It is so common, especially this time of the year, to get wrapped up in quick fixes, that we forget how important it is to balance both food and exercise for overall health. Guilty admission here – I used to be a Special-K bar, Light and Fit yogurt, sugar-free anything junkie. And while that food may have helped me maintain my weight, it wasn’t nourishing my body the way I know it should. Whole health is a balance of food and exercise, and I can’t imagine giving up either!
What advice do you have for people that have a busy lifestyle, but want to have a healthy diet?
Great question. And one I feel very qualified to answer because my lifestyle is sometimes more than I can handle! There are a couple ways to ensure that your healthy diet doesn’t get overlooked, and I categorize them based on your personal lifestyle:
– If you like to cook: Keep healthy frozen and pantry items on hand at all times. There should always be a couple dinner options available for nights when a trip to the store for fresh ingredients isn’t in the cards.
My go-to’s include Rising Moon Organics frozen tortellini, Amy’s canned soups, Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers, baked beans + frozen perogis and veggies, and homemade grilled cheese with whatever vegetable happens to be lurking in the fridge.
– If you like to eat out: Remember if you’re eating out every night, it isn’t aways a “special occassion.” When I lived in NYC, I ate out probably 5 nights a week, but I had to remind myself that it was because I didn’t have time to cook, not because it was my birthday! Think of how you would prepare a meal at home – do you have a bread basket AND an appetizer AND wine AND dessert? Probably not – pick one and leave it at that. In terms of your meal, control your portion by ordering 2 appetizers or sharing an entree with a friend. And use the Balanced Plate method – half of your meal should be veggies and the rest of your plate should be 1/4 lean protein (fish, beans, chicken, pork, lean beef) and 1/4 starch (whole grains, squash, potato, sweet potato). Skip the heavy cream sauces, fried entrees, and pretty much anything stuffed with something else 🙂
– If lunch is a challenge: Consider brown bagging it! It is so easy to overdo it during the day if you’re grabbing what’s available on-the-go. Even if you can’t pack an entire meal or don’t have a fridge or microwave to use, always keep some hearty snacks on hand for times that your options will be limited.
My go-to’s include: KIND bars, Larabars, Biena Roasted Chick Peas, Stonyfield Smoothies, Chobani yogurt, and Babybel cheeses.

What’s a RD’s favorite unhealthy, splurge meal? 🙂

 

I should have known you’d ask this 🙂 I’ve never been a sweet tooth, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a guilty pleasure. My favorite indulgence is good New England seafood. Lobster rolls, fried oysters, clam chowder are all at the top of that list. I grew up spending a couple weeks in the Cape in the summer and some of my favorite memories are of eating seafood. Here in Boston, I am constantly heading to B&G Oyster or Neptune Oyster in the North End for side-by-side comparisons 🙂
Oh, and you haven’t lived until you’ve had the Spicy Scallop roll at Sushi Seki in NYC. To. Die. For. I’ve been known to eat 3 in a sitting (shhhhh…)
You and I have talked about Paleo before, but would love for you to share your opinion on it with our readers. The good AND the bad. We’re ready for it…! 

Ah, the question of the hour! While I rarely like to soap box about nutrition issues, the hoopla around the Paleo diet definitely deserves some attention. If you are unfamiliar with why dietitians have issues with Paleo, I definitely recommend checking out my girl Rachele’s post on the topic: http://www.strong-process.com/paleo-shmaleo/
Rather than restate all of her well-documented points, I will highlight the ones I feel most strongly about:
– It is literally impossible to follow this diet as prescribed because the food no longer exists in the same form. Period.
 – Removing certain food groups from your diet, such as dairy and grains, will have outcomes that you may not see, but you will certainly feel down the line. Most North Americans are already vitamin-D deficient, so removing the only dietary source (other than fatty fish) of vitamin-D can lead to complications like osteoporosis (especially for ladies). Unfortunately I can’t prove this point to you in the short-term, but once you’ve started feeling the effects of vitamin-D deficiency later in life, it is too late to reverse the outcome.
We enrich grains in this country because they are the food group we consume in the highest volume. I believe we all over-consume grains, but regardless, if you remove these completely from your diet you are no longer consuming the thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and iron that the grains are enriched with. While you can absolutely find the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin) and iron in protein foods, folic acid is only in legumes (off limits), citrus fruits (off limits) and leafy green veggies. That’s a whole lotta kale.
An important note – the enrichment act is in place as a way to ensure women who are pregnant or going to become pregnant have enough folic acid. Why? Having enough folic acid can prevent major birth complications like spina bifida or anencephaly, which is when a baby’s brain doesn’t develop properly. Women who are deficient in folic acid can also develop anemia, which is also common in pregnancy due to increased blood volume.
Removing these food groups without considering these long-term implications can have serious consqeuences that often aren’t discussed. It is important that you understand that these foods play a role in your health.
– Finally, the protein issue. This is a big one because I feel it is so misunderstood. While the Paleo diet clearly states that high fat meats should be avoided, I have yet to see someone following this rule. Instead, I see pork shoulder wrapped in bacon, burger wrapped in bacon, asparagus wrapped in bacon, and bacon sandwiches…wrapped in bacon. This brings me back to the point I made in the beginning about things that frustrate me – the science is there folks! A diet high in saturated fat has been associated with heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer. While Paleo sites tout the benefits of saturated fat, I have yet to see a scientific basis for those claims.
All that being said, I know that people commonly experience positive outcomes from “going Paleo.” However, I often hear these outcomes associated with a gluten sensitivity or undiagnosed lactose intolerance. Naturally if you cannot digest lactose and you remove from your diet, you will feel better! But that’s not because of a miracle diet. That’s because your body was trying to tell you to avoid dairy.
Paleo is a diet, and it has its faults just like any other diet. While I certainly like some aspects – reduced sugar, lean meat, unprocessed foods – I am more apt to just make those recommendations than prescribe a set of standards to live by.
What’s been the most satisfying experience in your job so far?
The crazy part of the dietetic internship is how different each experience is. Sometimes I feel really effective and sometimes I just feel plain frustrated. But the most satisfying moments for me, whether at the hospital or at the studio, are when a client or patient tells me I’ve helped them make a positive change. Even if that means eliminating one negative habit, or getting them comfortable trying single taps in a spin class, I know I’ve done something positive for that person’s health and future. And nothing could be more satisfying than that.
If you don’t already follow Katie’s blog, check her out at The Aspiring RD. Great posts, way more informative than mine, not to mention she has the cutest French bulldog puppy, who she posts pics of on the reg. Informative AND cute puppy pics? WIN.
Thank you Katie!!
-Emily

Being Healthy

So, this weekend I went out to Montana for my grandmother’s funeral. Even though it was sad, it was somewhat of a relief to know that she is finally resting and at peace. And it was great to see my family that’s spread out all over the world.

And it’s kinda gorgeous out there this time of year…

I’m going to go on a bit of a ramble about health and nutrition, and just want to start off by saying that these are just my opinions, and I am NOT a registered dietician or a doctor or anything legit. Besides a fitness and food fanatic that is. Which makes me somewhat qualified to speak my mind. On my blog. So here we go.

For years, my grandparents have been in poor health. My grandfather has had multiple rounds of cancer, kidney issues, back pain, hip replacements, you name it, while my grandmother suffered from diabetes and towards the end of her life developed dementia. Much like Erica mentioned last week, I always assumed that these things ran in my family and I was more susceptible to diabetes and other health issues. But since I’ve become more educated about physical activity and nutrition, I’m sort of realizing that a lot of their health problems (and many of our nations’ health problems) could have been avoided just by exercising and eating well. I know that this isn’t rocket science, and I shouldn’t be credited for making such an earth shattering discovery (…you can credit me if you want), but it really opens up your eyes when it hits so close to home.

When my grandparents’ generation was growing up and raising kids in the 1950’s and 60’s, there wasn’t much research and education about nutrition and physical activity. As a result, much of that generation developed poor eating habits that stuck with them for life. And look at all of the health problems that most of our grandparents are faced with! Look in your grandparents’ (or parents’) kitchens, and count how many pill bottles are in there. For everything- blood pressure, heart rate, diabetes, arthritis, constipation (ew), you name it. I just can’t help but think that maybe if doctors prescribed eating well and going for a walk a few times a week, the number of pill bottles would go way down. I’ve been studying for my personal training test and there’s tons of evidence (by people way smarter than me) about the direct link between preventing chronic disease and nutrition. So WTF?? I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist but why isn’t this a bigger issue? Why isn’t everyone waking the f*ck up?!

Also- do you know that only 31% of adult Americans engage in physical activity 3x a week? THIRTY ONE PERCENT is SO pathetic! And that’s for only 20-30 minutes at a time. Is it really any wonder that we have the largest rate of obesity and the biggest slew of health problems in the world? I don’t think so.

When people ask me why I work out so much, or why I eat Paleo, I always have the same response: “it makes me feel good”. And it does. But another reason I’ve been thinking of is that “because I can”. Because I’m still young, and am naturally the fittest and strongest I’ll ever be. Because I want to invest in my future and my health. Because I don’t want to end up like my grandparents (as much as I love them, SO so so much). I want to live for a long time, and I want my kitchen to be full of delicious, amazing food- not pill bottles.

What do you guys think about this? Am I being a b*tch? I feel like I got a little harsh at the end for criticizing my grandparents’ lifestyle, but I’m just trying to be honest and keep it real. Much like J-Lo, I’m all about keepin’ it real.

I’ll stop talking now and leave you with some eye candy from Montana.

Anyone else want to move?

-Emily

 

Doctors are finally warming up to Paleo!

Found this awesome article the other day from a news channel in San Fran. The news anchor met with doctors and researchers to do a 5 part segment about the “Caveman Diet”. I couldn’t figure out how to post the actual videos, but click here to watch them all. There’s 5 in total, but each are only about 2-3 minutes long and are really inspiring and informative. I sent this along to a bunch of friends that think I’m crazy for going Paleo hoping it will inspire them, or at least help them get a better understanding of why I made this change in my diet. Definitely worth a watch!

-ES