What we eat, really DOES matter.


Good morning everyone. I hope that our week is going great so far.

Being on my own health change journey,and using my Change4Life workbook to document my daily progress, I have noticed some interesting facts about how my nutrition intake from the previous evening, plays a huge part of how much energy I have the next morning.  It also plays a role in how well I sleep that night.  I know we have touched on this before, but I have to say, the farther along I get in my own journey, the more the nutrition aspect of it really opens my eyes.   I have been really focusing on keeping my nutrition as healthy as possible, but I have noticed that when I have something going on in the evening, I tend to gravitate more towards “quick and easy” for my meal that evening.  I am sure we can all relate to that, especially those of you that have kids and activities and school and .. just flat-out busy lives.  Last night was one of those nights for me.  I had an event last night that put me in a position to find something quick and easy for dinner.  I chose a local “healthier” burger place.  I had a burger with cheddar cheese on a multi-grain bun and some sweet potato fries with an iced tea.  Sounds ok right?  For most people, it probably would be ok.  I have said many times that each of us need to know what works for our own bodies in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Well, for me, I am finding out that I just cannot eat any whole grains after noon time.  It takes to much energy for my body to process that type of food.  Again, this is true for ME, and may not be for you, so please make sure you are tracking your daily nutrition intake to determine what does work for you, and what does not work for you.  Another observation I have made form tracking my nutrition, is that foods that are fried with anything other than Olive oil or Grapeseed oil, do not work for me either.  Many restaurants will say they are using a “healthy oil” now-a-day’s, but we still have to be very cautious of what  that oil is.  The go-to oil for most restaurants is Canola Oil, largely due to the Mediterranean Diet, which uses this oil is it’s main ingredient.  Canola Oil is has many mixed reviews as to it’s health benefits, so PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH to determine of this is a product that you are comfortable using.  It does not work well in my body.  Salad dressings are another item to watch out for.  Eating a salad can be very healthy, as long as you are mindful of the dressing.  I suggest to have it on the side, and not premixed, and to stay away from the creamy dressings, as they can potentially have more bad fats and have a high sugar content.   Make sure you are aware of the ingredients so that you are not ambushing your healthy salad, with unhealthy dressing.

Eating out, is definitely more challenging than eating at home.  More and more restaurants and food establishments, are displaying  their nutrition facts either on their website or even on their menus.  Before you go out to eat, do your research.  If they don’t have them available on their website, then don’t hesitate to call them.  We need to be able to know what they are using in the cooking process, so that we can make the best choices possible for our health goals.   Making good nutrition choices will help us keep on track with our goals.   Don’t be afraid to try new things, just be mindful of your goals and the foods you are putting into your body to meat those goals.   Now, go eat something healthy and have fun doing it!

How often should I eat?

Good morning everyone!  In yesterday’s BLOG, I mentioned that I am challenged with knowing how much to eat, now that I am lifting weights again 5 days a week or more, without gaining excess body fat  I want to keep losing body fat, and at the same time, I definitely want to bulk up a little bit and gain lean muscle mass.  There seems to be two parts to this equation.  Part one would be the amount of good nutrition I am consuming, especially proteins.  Part two of this would be how often am I eating?  Proper nutrition will always be the most important part, because without good nutrition, reaching my goals will be very difficult, no matter how good my workouts are.  There is a quote I read that keeps me focused on this topic, that say’s simply: “you can’t out exercise a bad diet“. Keeping that in mind, I can now turn my focus onto how often I should be eating.  I recently watched an interview with, arguably the greatest bodybuilder of all times, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He spoke very candidly about his meal preparation and how much he consumed on a daily basis.  His regimen was to eat every two hours.  Now, his thinking was that since he was burning so many calories per day, and still needed to consume enough calories to allow for extreme muscle growth, he determined that he needed to eat every two hours just to get his daily allowance of nutrition.  The question for you and I then becomes, “do we need to eat every two hours”?

Honestly, this is a very hard question to answer.  If you follow my BLOG’s, you know that I am a firm believer that there is no one answer for everyone.  We are all very unique in how we function.  What works for me, may not work for you.  And that is perfectly ok.  We do not have the same lifestyle and we do not have the same goals.  So, naturally, we will need to approach the way we eat, differently also.  If you were to Google and research the latest articles on this topic of, “how often should we be eating?“, you will find a truck-load of information.  And, each research article will give you different reasons as to why their research is the most accurate out there.  Some research will tell you that in order to keep your metabolism active, you need to eat a rounded meal (which means you have all three macro-nutrients; protein, carbs and fats) every 2 hours, three at the most.  Other research has showed that the good ole “3 square’s a day” still works for most people.  I have been drawn to the more current research which indicates that if we allow our selves to get to a point where we are hungry, our bodies and brain are in communication with each other to keep our fat burning process active while still using the nutrients form the meal to keep our bodies fueled.   I have personally been using this process for a few years now, and I have to say, it works for me!  I don’t get stressed out about making sure I have meals with me all day long, and I am able to plan my meals more efficiently.  Now, my body seems to get hungry every 3 to 4 hours.  This is so much more manageable for me.  What YOU have to do is, try a plan based on your lifestyle AND goals, and see what works for YOU!  

Managing your nutrition plan is probably the more time consuming part of the health change journey: at first.   Because we have to monitor our daily meal plans; we have to monitor how we feel after each meal; did this meal give me the energy I needed for that particular part of the day’s activities; will this meal sustain me until my next meal; are my food choices working out for me, based on my activity schedule?  This process can seem to be overwhelming.  PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE!  If we put into place a system that allows us to manage these things, this process will become second nature to you.  I use the “Change4Life Workbook” on a daily basis.  This book helps me keep track of my eating schedule, my exercise schedule, my daily goals, and also allows me to capture any and all thoughts I have about how the day is going.  (If you are interested in this workbook, please contact me!)  This workbook also allows me to keep myself accountable to reaching my ultimate lifestyle goals.

Life will always happen.  We can’t control it.  What we can control though, is how we handle what life throws at us.  The more prepared we are for the curve-balls, the more efficient we will be in our daily lives.  Be prepared.  Do what you know you need to do, and let the sweet taste of victory, be yours!

Happy Friday!!!

Boy, am I glad the weekend is almost here!!  I have had a very interesting week, to say the least.  I have learned that “I create my own willpower“, and that I allow my insecurities to control a very large part of my life.  But, with w new day and a new perspective, I can change anything I choose to change in my life. As can you!  

This weekend, here in beautiful Fort Collins, CO. the annual Taste of Ft. Collins will be underway, and I am excited to take in the aroma of all the wonderful foods that will be set up for us to enjoy.  Now, I am also going to make sure I stick to my nutrition plan, so I will be carefully choosing which foods I will taste, but I am always amazed at how creative people can be when it comes to preparing foods.  This is one area, I am not good at.  I have no imagination when it comes to the culinary arts.  I don’t know why that is, I mean, I love to eat food, so why can’t I think of way’s to prepare it, right?!  I guess that would be like saying, “I love art, so I should be able to paint a masterpiece” .. right?!  NOT!   Having culinary skills, truly is an art form.  I am absolutely convinced of it.  I have seen and smelled some amazing foods created with absolute brilliance!

What about you?  How are your culinary skills??  Since we know how important nutrition is to our overall health, is this something you are really good at, or seem to struggle with?  Being a master chef is definitely not a prerequisite to being able to eat healthy, so don’t let that keep you from eating the way you know you need to, or from enjoying food.  Although, it sure would be nice to have a chef on hand to cook our meals for us.. wouldn’t it!!

Whatever your plans are for the weekend, remember that you create your own willpower.  You can decide to eat healthy, and allow your body to change and be strengthened, or decide to live an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle.  My hope is that you will decide to change and get rid of the bad eating habits, and start to enjoy the benefits of eating healthy.

Lets talk Protein powders.

As we have discussed in past BLOG posts,  making sure you are getting an adequate amount of protein in your daily diet is absolutely essential to your bodies overall health.  Protein is vital to muscular strength and growth and allows your body to function at a higher level.  We discussed that the best way consume protein is through meats, fish and dairy.  There are also some plant-based proteins that are effective as well.  With that being said, the demand for protein supplements are on the rise.  People are wanting to replace having to figure out how to prepare and eat adequate protein in each meal, and have accessibility to something quick and easy.  The problem is, there are literally dozens (if not more than that) of protein powders on the market today that “boast” they are the best product out there.  This is very confusing to those of us that are “rookies” at making these types of decisions.  Through the years that I have personally taken protein supplements, I have come across several different articles about how to choose a  “good” protein powder.  That is, until I went to a seminar held by a prominent Doctor in the health industry.  He broke down the specific ways to identify what ingredients found in protein powders, are good for your body and what is bad for your body.  FINALLY!  I had something I could actually make sense of and now had an idea of what to look for.  Now, there are still companies and out there that claim to be all “natural” and that their process for creating protein powder is the most effective way and is not harmful to the body.   They too will “show” research data to prove their point.  So, what I am going to do today, is go over the information I have learned about what is harmful and what is not, and hopefully explain why.  The decision will still be up to you, as I am NOT trying to give any advice on what product to choose.  I am only giving information based on what I have learned.

Lets start with the processing method used to break proteins down into powder form.  (This information is a compilation of research I did on the subject)  The most common method is a process called “Hydrolyzation or Denaturation”.  This process is used to break down protein into its component, amino acids.  The two most common methods of doing this are: prolonged boiling in a strong acid  (acid-HVP) or an enzyme such as pancreatic protease that helps stimulate the process.  When proteins undergo this process they lose their proper dimensions intended by nature.  These processing methods also give rise to toxic levels of free aspartic acid and glutamic acid (MSG).  Like I mentioned above, there are “reports” out there that indicate this process is harmless and necessary.  That is for YOU to decide.  In MY OWN OPINION, I would say that anytime the use of anything chemical or foreign is part of that process, it is no longer safe to consume and can become harmful to our health.  Therefor, IN MY OWN OPINION, protein powders that are NON-HYDROLYZED or Denatured, would be of the best nutritional benefit since they are naturally broken down without that harmful process involved.

When it comes to ingredients found in most protein powders, they will contain sugar or at least some type of sweetener, that does not belong.   They may also contain artificial flavors, artificial coloring, and numerous additives.  If you were to look at the “Ingredients” on the container, and there are multiple names you cannot pronounce or sound like they may be of a chemical source; or if the list is a mile long, there may be way too many harmful  ingredients.  As a rule-of-thumb, the shorter the list and the easier it is to read the ingredients, and you know what they are, the product may be worth looking into!

Here is a protein powder that I have started using that comes from, IN MY OPINION, one of the best supplement companies out there.  A company called “Garden of Life”.  They tend to use all natural products and do a great deal of research and testing before they launch a product.  The protein powder I use is a Grass Fed Whey Protein that is very clean (meaning non-hydrolyzed, no dded sugar or artificial ingredients).  I couldn’t be happier with it!  Again, YOU need to determine for yourself what products work for you.

So, in the grand scheme of things, protein supplements can be very useful and efficient, BUT, you do need to make sure you do your research on the product and how it is processed, and definitely, DEFINITELY, always read the labels.



Should you be Gluten Free?

The “Gluten Free Diet” seems to the latest craze in the today’s “diet” world.  You may remember the “South Beach Diet”, or the “Atkins Diet”.  What makes the Gluten Free diet stand out from the others, is that it is based on eliminating a specific food source.  In this case, it is wheat based food products.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat and acts as a “glue” to help hold foods together.  It can also be found in a few other grains like barley and rye.  It is that protein that can become harmful in CERTAIN situations.  In order to make the decision to be gluten free, we need to first take a look at why being gluten free is necessary for some people.

Going gluten free, derives mostly from people that have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  This disease is an autoimmune disorder that treats gluten as a foreign invader in our bodies.  Our immune system then attacks the gluten to destroy it.  The problem is, the immune system will also attack the lining of our gut.   This causes damage to our gut wall, which in turn increases the potential for many other health issues such as; nutrient  deficiencies, anemia and serious digestive problems such as tissue damage to the small intestine, diarrhea and constipation.  In some cases, Celiac Disease has also been linked to depression.  Gluten Free diets have also been recommended for certain Diabetic patients.

So, to answer the question “should you be gluten free”, the answer should come from your medical physician.   There have been numerous reports indicating that if you have not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or prescribed this specific diet plan by your physician, then NO, you should not go gluten free.  Studies have suggested that people that go gluten free, but have no autoimmune issues, could potentially be putting themselves at risk for medical problems, by eliminating gluten from their diet.  There have also been studies that show going gluten free is beneficial for everyone.  I have said several times, and will continue to say, that every body is different.  What works for one person, may be harmful to another person.  In the case of going gluten free, I say the same thing.  Just because we may know someone that does well on this type of plan, does not mean we will.  This particular type of diet plan, needs to be prescribed by a physician or medical expert, due to the severe health issues that could result form not making an informed decision.

The health of our bodies is way to important to be making nutrition decisions based on what someone else says or does.  We need to take our health seriously and we need to make sure we are getting information that pertains to US as individual’s.  So, if you are interested in finding out if this plan would work for you, be sure to contact your physician for guidance.

One chance.

Happy Friday everyone!  I have been struggling for quite some time with the nutrition part of living a healthy life.  So, to keep in step with the title of this site: Change4Life,  I have decided I need to make some drastic changes in how I am eating.  Starting Monday, I will be cutting out ALL SUGAR products completely.  When we think of sugar products, we typically just think of foods like candy, chocolate, soda, processed foods.  But remember, carbohydrates break down into sugar because they are our bodies main source of energy.  So, this list will consist of all grain products which include: whole grains, breads, cereals, and pastas.  No ice cream or chocolates or any thing that consists of sugar.  Now, this is a very drastic step and it is NOT for everyone.  Before you make any nutrition changes, always consult your physician.  I have personally done some extensive research on this and have also gone through specific training with Medical Experts.  So, I feel I am ready to take on this challenge.

You may wonder why such a drastic change?  Well, here’s the thing; my body is having a hard time burning fat.  When we ingest foods that are either high in sugar or are processed, our bodies end up storing those foods as excess fat.  As we all know, having that excess fat not only adds weight and inches to our bodies, but it can cause serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes and even organ failure. So, losing that excess body fat is crucial to our health.  Even though I very rarely eat processed foods, I do love my ice cream and pizza.  I have also been diagnosed as having some environmental and heavy metal toxins in my body.  By making these changes, I will be giving my body a chance to heal itself and also eliminate some of these toxins.  This will not be an easy process, but I know that in the long run, it will be beneficial to my overall health.

All of us have to make decisions about our health.  We can decide to not take any action and just let our health “go as it may“, or we can decide to take action; even of that action is drastic and out side our comfort zone.  My hope is that we will all decide to take action that will lead to living a healthy life.  We only get one chance at this life thing, so lets work together and make it a great one!

What are Amino Acids?

There are 9 essential amino acids that make a protein considered to be complete.   They are; Tryptophan, Threonine, Icoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine+Cystine, Phenylalanine+Tyrosine, Valine, Histidine.  So, what is an amino acid, and why is it do darn important?  Approximately 20% of the human body is made up of protein.  Since protein has such a crucial role in how our bodies function, heal and grow, the amino acid plays the part of the building block for those functions. A large part of our cells, muscles, and tissues are made up of amino acids.   Some of their bodily functions include: giving cells their structure; the transportation and storage of nutrients; they influence the function of organs, glands, tendons and arteries; they are essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in bones, muscles, skin and hair.  So, as you can see, amino acids are absolutely essential for our bodies to function correctly.  And, in order to get these amino acids in our systems, we have to consume proteins.  For those of you that are Vegan or do not consume anything that has any relation to animals, there are some plant based proteins, and there are also supplements out there you can use to get those important amino acids.  Whatever source you use, please make sure you are getting them.  They are crucial to your health.  In the coming posts, we will continue to dig into proteins such as when to consume them for optimal performance.

Complete Proteins

We started a talk about proteins, and the importance they have on the overall health of our bodies.  We mentioned that proteins come in various forms such as meats, fish, dairy and even some plants and vegetables have proteins in them.  When we are looking at proteins, we want to make sure they are “complete” proteins.  A complete protein will have an adequate amount of all 9 essential amino acids.  According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, complete proteins are supplied by meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, quinoa, or soybeans.  As we mentioned above, there are some plant based foods that will provide our bodies with proteins, but they may be missing a portion of the essential amino acids that would keep them from being considered complete.  Now, plant based foods may become complete proteins by combining additional foods to them, but in most cases, they are not complete as they are. So, logically, the nest question we need to ask is, “what are amino acids“?  Please go to the next BLOG to see the answer on this question.

Proteins: the basics.

When it comes to having proper nutrition throughout the day, we have talked about the importance of having each meal consist of the three main macronutrients: protein, fats, and carbohydrates.   We have discussed carbohydrates in previous BLOGS, and will continue to come back to them, but today we will be talking bout proteins.  Proteins are essential for muscle growth and development, and can also aide in the fat loss process.  Proteins are found in many different sources of food;  they are found in meats, fish, dairy, and can even be found in many different types of plants.  Protein powders are very popular in today’s health industry and we will look at those as an option for our nutrition plan also.  Because proteins are such an important part of our daily nutrition, it is essential that we are getting the proper amount each day in order to support our health goals.  Because protein does come form different sources, it is also important to get our protein from the right type of foods.  The reason the food source is important is because some food sources are not “complete” proteins.  What that means is, they are missing certain “Amino Acids” within that food source.  There are 9 essential amino acids that determine if a protein is complete.   We will certainly get into all this in later posts.  There are so many different factors that go into what protein source we should be consuming, this topic will be a lengthy one.  I am excited to get into this topic because proteins are such an integral part of our daily nutrition plan.  So, don’t go anywhere, we will be back to this topic tomorrow.

Understanding Carbs.

Understanding carbohydrates can be tricky.  In an earlier post “Fuel your body“, we talked about how important carbohydrates are for properly fueling our bodies.  We mentioned that it is also important to know how to use them during the day to reap their rewards.  During my research, I found the articles on carbohydrates is endless. LOL. With that being said, I am going to try and break it down as simple as I can. As we talked about previously, our bodies need to have glucose, or blood sugars, in our bodies to supply us with the energy needed to perform any exercise.  That glucose comes form carbohydrates.  Now, the speed in which that particular carbohydrate turns into glucose to enter our bodies, is measured by what is called the “glycemic index“.  The glycemic index (or GI as we will call it)  breaks these foods down into two main categories;  low GI foods and high GI foods.  Foods that are on the lower end of the glycemic index, are foods that take longer to enter the body as glucose.  This is very helpful for those of us that are trying to manage our weight or even lose weight, because it sustains out energy level at a pace that allows our bodies to continue to use that food as fuel.   This slower process also allows our bodies to maintain a state of feeling full for a longer period of time, so that we won’t eat as much or as often. This slower rate also allows our bodies to keep our blood sugars at a manageable level and keeps us from going into that “sugar high” mode.  High GI foods are those that enter the blood stream very quickly as sugar. These foods are useful for right after we have exercised, because they will restore the depleted glucose we used during while we were exercising.  They are not used for sustaining long term energy, which means we need to make sure they are not our primary source of carbohydrates during the day.  They can potentially have a negative impact on any weight loss goal we have in place.  Now that we have the background, we need to figure out when to eat them during the day and what foods fit into each category.  This will be extensive, so I will open another BLOG specifically for that topic.  I hope this helps understand carbs a little more.  I look forward to hearing how this helps with your energy level!