Gaining Knowledge – Losing Pounds

Prahran Mkt - AustraliaMost recently I posted an article written by a business counterpart about his 2 month journey on weight loss. Granted he is a Personal Trainer, you’d think he’d constantly be in top shape, yet, like Alex, I too have goals for my health including the number on the scale (and note, I like measurements more than a scale number).

My newest role as a mom is the best thing that could ever happen to me as a person. As many parents out there can agree, being a mom/dad can be trying, but this position brings so much joy and compassion in my life. On the flip side, going through a pregnancy and gaining 28 pounds; could have been more as Dex was born at 38 weeks, I have become a better dietitian and nutrition counselor trying to lose the weight. My biggest surprise is my impatience with how slowly it’s coming off. But the truth be told, this pace allows my body to adjust at a healthy, natural rate, and allows me to understand what habits are worth holding onto for a lifetime.

So 6 months and 1 week later I am at my pre-pregnancy weight and I thought I’d share some of the methods I used to get here.

1. SMART Goal

I defined my goal (and wrote it down! Often!), decided how I would keep myself on task, ensuring things moved in the right direction weighing-in every Monday. I picked Monday to make sure I never went “off my rocker” with beverages and food on the weekend. As well, every Monday weigh-in wasn’t always a loss. Furthermore, if I knew, just by the way I felt, I wasn’t going to see a lower number on the scale, I’d skip/delay that weigh-in. No need to do so, as it would leave a negative impression on my day, and I’d wait (no pun intended) until about Wednesday. I also broke my goal down. I wanted to lose 38 pounds (I was near my heaviest before getting pregnant), but my weekly goal was 1 pound a week. Ideally I wanted more, but realistically, it wasn’t happening without me feeling deprived and hungry.

2. Tracking My Macros

I befriended MyFitnessPal to not count calories, but to understand how my macronutrient (fat, protein, carbohydrate) ratios were measuring. Through the process I learned that eating more carbs (35-38% or around 100 grams a day; excluding non-starchy vegetables) and less fat (about 30%) worked best for my goal. Interesting, as I came to learn this by eating intuitively. I wanted more carbs (fruit, black rice, root vegetables) and less often craved grassfed beef or higher fat proteins. Before getting pregnant, I always aimed for uber low carb (about 50 grams a day), thinking it was my best method for maintaining weight. In this journey, I tried to keep low carb in mind, but to look at myself more individually to assess what was going to work for my goal. And not to brush over protein – I had about 1 gram of protein per pound of my current weight.

3. New Recipes & Hunger

It is not uncommon for me to create a personal meal plan. I’d think about what foods were appealing at the time and I’d create meals plugging them into Fitclick or MyFitnessPal. I definitely sourced Pinterest for inspiration and bought recipe books. I took it a step further too; putting sticky notes on recipes I planned to trial each week (when time allowed). I know, as soon as I get bored with my food, I reach for more food for satisfaction rather than to fulfill hunger. My solution here, as you can see, is to mix things up, and excite my palate with different flavors and meals. One thing important to note is I use my meal plans as a template; never did/do I follow it 100%. Overall, my meals are consistent throughout the week, and come the following 7 days, I change my ingredients/grocery list. Every night, I asses how hungry I feel. If I am rather hungry after dinner, I know this was a symptom of not eating enough during the day. This often happened, and one thing that has made the biggest difference, is with my high protein and vegetable lunch, I’ve added a small piece of fruit, rounding out the meal. I would not have been able to come to this conclusion if I didn’t track some of my meals. Bottom line, a food journal can be so powerful for healthy eating and assessing what works for weight loss.

4. Appreciating the Journey

To say the least, losing weight is not my favorite hobby. Indeed, one needs to enjoy the journey, as losing weight surely doesn’t have a deadline nor ends once we hit our goal weight. My real goal is striving for health, and clearly as I lose numbers on the scale, I am gaining insight on how to own my journey and be a better dietitian, counseling others in a similar process. Every day counts, and some day we will take two steps forward, and other days one step back. In the end it’s the trend that matters.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

Let’s Talk New Year’s Resolutions

Do you have one? I have a few in mind, and while my yearly goals do not always last the 12 months, they are still good to have.

Come 2013 I will be embarking on an auto-immune diet protocol during my January Paleo Infused Nutrition Pledge. I am doing this because it will be a good challenge that will bottom-line improve my health. Most recently my thyroid has been showing some variation (signs of hashimoto’s) and ensuring my gut integrity is optimal for my well-being and defense in thyroid problems.

If I suggested this resolution to be last year or the year before, I would have set myself up for failure. It will (hopefully) work for me for this year coming, because I have a clear understanding of what I need to do, and my food intake is already rather restrictive, and more than half way in meeting the auto-immune protocol guidelines.

Overall though, the Paleo Infused Nutrition Pledge is not about restriction. It is a Pledge you come up with that aims to improve your health. You make a commitment/goal to yourself and to me your dietitian. And through the 4 week Pledge I help you stay on-top of your health game and propose some guidelines of being your healthiest you. So if you are interested, just let me know. It’s nothing to be scared of, it’s an opportunity to learn a whole new way of looking at food. Best part, you don’t have to spend time commuting to appointments, etc. The Pledge is an online private forum, where you have a dietitian, me, at your fingertips for questions and/or to voice your successes and struggles. Who wants to join?!

If you want something more hands out, I can also offer a Clean Eating Bootcamp developed by myself and an excellent Personal Trainer, Becky Schlageter, here in Chicago. Our Bootcamp is composed of 6 sessions, giving the client personal attention to their diet and fitness program. This Bootcamp will start the second Monday of every month. Who wants to join?

As a health professional, I make it my duty to create programs that are appealing, yet attainable for consumers. If neither of the above attract you, let me know what does. Nonetheless, aim to be your best person this year. Because you deserve good health, and the quality of life that goes with it.

Cheers to you and good health,.

Happy Holidays,

Kel

Vitamin D – And I Thought I Knew It All

Upon my return to the USA, I was flabbergasted (in a good way) by something called “Meet-ups.” Two years go by and a whole new social community has developed with these interest group gatherings. Happily I am in numerous Meet-up groups catered to Entrepreneurs, to a Walking group (yes!!!), Paleo’ers and more. So as you can tell, I jumped on Meetup.com joined some Meet-ups that suit my interest and bang, I started attending some meetings.

Today’s post addresses a Paleo Meet-up held in Columbus, Ohio, where Dr Oliver hosted a lecture on vitamin D. After working as a dietitian on the Got Milk campaign, a few years back, I thought I was well-versed in vitamin D research. However, Dr Oliver showed me otherwise. Some information I noted includes the following:

  • It is estimate that up to 90% of people in the Midwest could have insufficient levels vitamin D
  • Everyone should consider testing to see where their levels are – you can go to your GP or order one online at http://www.grassrootshealth.net and http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/.
  • The amount of Vitamin D to supplement is unique to each person and the amount of vitamin D needed to increase one’s level varies. Personally, I take about 3,000-5,000IU of D3 (AnabolicLabs) a day. My last lab showed my levels at  54 nmol/L.
  • The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Besides fatty fish, free range eggs, cod liver oil there are few foods to offer substantial levels.  Ideally spending 15 minutes in the sun at peak times can offer 50,000 IU of vitamin D, according to Dr Oliver. So the question begs to ask, “What are you doing on your lunch break?”
  • When supplementing you want to consider D3 (as well as K2). Indeed a lot of pharmaceutical companies sell D2, yet, D3 is relatively cheap and a lot of the research on vitamin D supplementation has been done on D3.
  • If a woman is breastfeeding or lactating her vitamin D needs will increase to 7,000 IU a day. This is above the RDA, yet, in my opinion as a RD and Dr Oliver agreeing, this 7,000 IU is optimal and perhaps not enough.
  • The RDA for children increased a few years ago and it is now 400 IU, however, there are studies suggesting the needs are much higher. For toddlers the RDA is 600 IU, however, a suggested amount from this meeting would be 1,000-2,000 IU.
  • Overall vitamin D absorption varies – regardless if it is from the sun or a supplement. People with darker skin need to spend more time in the sun to get equal amounts of vitamin D as someone with fairer skin.
  • If capable get your vitamin D levels checked during the winter months. If your levels are low, check again in 3 months to see if you are supplementing enough.
  • Vitamin D supplementing is a very easy thing to do – and people will reap the health benefits even without diet change. However, absorption is better when individuals remove grains from their diet, as seen in Dr Oliver’s patient population.
  • Vitamin D is crucial for bone health – calcium supplementing is not necessary and can even be harmful. The USA is the country with the highest osteoporosis and the highest to supplement with calcium. Please discard calcium chews and the likes if you have them in your cabinet.
  • There are populations who are contraindicated to supplement with vitamin D and this includes individuals who have hyperparathyroidism, hypercalcaemia, granular disease in the lungs, fungal infections in the lungs, cancer/lymphoma and people who have a feeling of being unwell when they are in the sun.
  • Adequate amounts of vitamin D can help those who are experiencing joint pain. Often patients will see a doctor for back pain, etc, and vitamin D may be the solution, not steroids.

As a dietitian, I surely always recommend food first for health, however, there are some key supplements I advise most people to consider taking. Vitamin D is one of them, as is magnesium, a concentrated fish oil, and probiotics, as long as they are no medical or pharmaceutical contraindications to taking these. These recommended supplements help reduce chronic inflammation.

If you want more advice or information on finding high quality supplements as well as dietary advice, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Also, come November 20th (Tuesday) I will be hosting the Paleo Living Columbus gathering. Hopefully you can make it if you are in the area. More information here.

Additional Supporting Vitamin D Research:

When/What to Buy Organic

It’s been a fair bit of time since I last posted information on the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 and over the years, the information does change as you can see in this list I posted 2-3 years ago.

For those of you who have not heard of these terms simply put the Dirty Dozen includes produce you always want to aim to buy organic and the Clean 15 includes produce that is okay to buy not organic, hence the pesticide content in the non-organically grown produce is not rationally different to the organic version. See below for the lists.

Dirty Dozen

  1. Apple
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines – imported
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries – domestic
  12. Potatoes

Clean 15

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantelope
  12. Sweet potato
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

 

Source EWG.org

Blood Type – Do I Eat Right?

Do you believe in the idea that we should all eat for our blood type? I think there is some truth to it, but should not be the only thing considered when designing someone’s or your own diet. Most recently I confirmed that I have type O positive blood. According to the literature for a type O positive blood type, I should be doing the following:

  • Avoid gluten containing grains (Check! I avoid gluten like the plague.)
  • Eat dark, leafy greens rich in vitamin K (Check!)
  • Eat lots of animal protein (Check! Bring on the meat.)
  • Restrict legumes and beans (Check! Beans are not the magical fruit.)
  • Restrict cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mustard green (Ughhh – I love my cauliflower. Perhaps I conduct an n=1 experiment on myself and see how I feel restricting then introducing this vegetable.)
  • Avoid nightshades (I could make a stronger effort here.)
  • Avoid dairy (I go easy on dairy, but again, could make a stronger effort.)
  • Avoid eggs (Oops – I nearly eat these daily. Perhaps I can do another n=1 experiment. I recently did this with nuts, and wow, I am feeling different in a good way.)
  • Restrict heavy consumption of nuts (Check! See above.)
  • Avoid corn (Check! Every so often I will have some corn chips, but avoid corn the best I can; it’s everywhere.)

If my current food intake was graded against these guidelines, I would get, I say, a B. I have a diet clean of gluten and legumes and rich in vegetables but have a few other tweaks to make, if I choose to take this information literally. Overall, it’s something fun to consider. I mean, it is ironic I don’t handle gluten well and apparently this is the norm for someone with type O.

Overall, I am adding nutrigenomics to my lab wish list. Yes, I have a lab wish list. Once I get some true DNA indications, I will take the eat for your blood type to heart (no pun intended). Have you dabbled with nutrigenomics? I predict it is the next big thing for the diet and health industry.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

Time to Log My Food Intake

Guess what I did this morning? I hopped on the scale, and, as suspected was not pleased with the number I saw. Most definately though, weight does not define who we are and the number onthe scale does not tell a full story. There are other measures to take into consideration when assessing your weight/composition. However, I know I have been much more stressed in the last 8 months, than I think ever in my life and I have been getting a little too comfortable with winter laziness and meals. Perfection is not the goal, but I want to weigh in a little lighter and feel more energetic as the season turns.  

So what is my plan? I will note my daily food intake and assess if it is enough nutrition for my needs. I also want to step up my movement, while keeping a nice variety of strength training, high intense cardio and low intense excercise (i.e. walking!). I will intend to take one day at a time and reassess in 4 weeks. Until then, have a look at what I ate yesterday.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, sliced button mushrooms and 1 large piece of free-range pork bacon. English breakfast tea and then a coffee at the office, which I regretted come bedtime.

Lunch: headed to a local cafe with my co-worker and had pan-fried white fish and Caesar salad.

Snack: 1 fresh date. I LOVE dates.

Dinner: lemon butter, baked fish with sweet potato.

Snack: coconut yogurt with seed mix (chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds) and cocoa nibs.

An Image of Health

I will never forget when my good friend’s mom approached me (two plus years ago) at her wedding shower and said, “Kelly you are just the image of health.”

Me, in my mind thinking, “really, do you know what my A1C looks like?!” But instead, replied to such a compliment with pleasure. It was really nice and has clearly stuck with me over the years.

So what do I think? Am I an image of health?? First begs the question, what is health?

  • I am an ideal body weight, even though I wrestle with 5 or so pounds year-round.
  • I work out a fair bit, but not too much. Maybe a pilates, spinning or yoga class a week. A session on the stair-climber with weight lighting, more weight lifting and walking (of course). I LOVE walking when time allows.
  • I do not drink my calories. My liquids usually include tea, water, more tea, long blacks (but trying to cut back because I want better sleep) and occasional diet cola. Oh, a fair share of red wine too. Can you blame me?
  • I avoid grains like the plague.
  • I try to not take life too seriously.
  • I skip legumes in my diet, well except a bluemoon craving for peanut butter.
  • I motivate others to be an advocate for their health.
  • I believe in taking risks.
  • I seek adventure (I am wearing the blue helmet).

And as far as diabetes goes:

  • I visit my Endo 3-4 times a year, as well as my dentist, ophthalmologist, optometrist and Women’s Health doc,
  • I use an insulin pump, but I do not change the infusion set every 3 days as I should. I likely change it when I get an alarm telling me the volume of insulin is low.
  • I have no idea when the last time was I changed my lancet.
  • Yet, I do test my blood sugar 6-10 times a day. Have you seen my fingers?
  • But that A1C, which is supposed to be 6 or below, is an ongoing battle, or can I say, experiment.

Thankfully for a paleo-like diet, I know what I need to do to keep a stable blood sugar. Instead of consuming grains, legumes, corn, soy, vegetable oils and dairy, I resort to high quality meats, eggs, nuts, fish, vegetables, olive oil, butter, coconut, fruit, potatoes (sweet) and white rice. The latter gives me such amazing energy and when I am diligent with my food choices, I feel great.

So going back to question, “Am I an image of health?”

Yes. Yes I am and you can be too. I am nutrient seeker, I am happy, I work hard on my diet and well-being, I count my blessings and I am passionate about helping others optimize their food choices.

Put your best foot forward today by taking care of yourself. If you need any help, that is what I am here for.

Cheers to you and good health,
Kel

Alternative Health

Perhaps “alternative medicine” is a better term since health is such a loose word, but medicine seems so intimidating and foreign.

Most recently I have been surrounding myself in some new practices – acupuncture, Chinese herbs and meditation. All of them have been great, especially since my glass is currently spilling over with stress while we are figuring out our visa situation here in Melbourne and considering a move back to the US in August. Yes, that is about 3 months away and we have no confirmed plans, nor know where we will move to or what/if I will have a job. It is no bed of roses, but I have been trying to enjoy the confusion. Oh! And I will be having jaw surgery again in July. 

Life goes on and why not try meditation and acupuncture to cope, right?

Sure enough, it has helped. I am pleasantly pleased with the outcome of both meditation and acupuncture. I think the expensive Chinese herbs could fall by the wayside though. I am not sure if I notice anything different when drinking them in dissolved warm water and I cannot fail to mention how awful they taste. Has anyone else tried them? Do you have any insight to share?

The meditation is so interesting too. It is actually funny how I got involved in this. I purchased a yoga voucher and quickly learned there was more focus on breathing, etc than downward dog poses.

However, anything I do, I try to go into it with an open mind regardless of what it is. At my first session, I sat there thinking to myself, “I know how to breath, why do I need someone to tell me to take a deep breath and scan my body while listening to some weird sounds?” But gosh by golly! By the end of each session I feel pretty content. I have since been, a handful of times, and plan on continuing some sessions every month. Overall, I have realised I handle stress better, I go with the flow better and live in the moment a bit more.

I highly recommend meditation and suggest doing it at least a few times. It is a great way to shut off any chaos in your life and feel more comfortable in your own skin. 

Now onto acupuncture – why did I try this out?

Besides Robb Wolf preaching how great it is among many other health advocates, I wanted to reduce my hay-fever symptoms (I take anti-histamines every day and want to wean that down), try something new and see what it did for my diabetes (type 1). On a side note, I strive to eat paleo every day but sometimes that does not happen. When it doesn’t I often see fluctuations in my blood sugars and pay for it. So overall, I wonder what acupuncture can do for my cravings, circulation and over blood sugar stabilisation.

So far, things feel pretty good. After session one I felt engerized and invigerated. It’s not everyday someone sticks a needle in the top of your head and forehead wrists and tummy. I have session two this weekend and look forward to what differences, if any, I feel. I will be sure to provide an update on anything surprising.

Overall, the prices for alternative medicine are a little high, but I think they are worth it. They are natural and a new approach for caring for yourself. I am personally all about touting the benefits of a good diet and often forget the other sides of health including stress, sleep, movement, and fertility. These alternative health practices have helped me bring my well-being full circle.

Cheers to you and good health!

Food For Thought: Himalayan Crystal Salt

Do you take a multivitamin? If so, would you be willing to swap it for something more natural and perhaps cheaper?

http://www.ecokitchen.com
http://www.ecokitchen.com

When eating a paleo or primal diet, there is little room for processed foods thus a low intake of sodium. Plus the hard cold facts on the idea of consuming salt/sodium is bad for your health is yet to be proven. Physiology clearly demonstrates that salt intake is managed by the healthy body itself (kidneys) and research indicates that a low-salt diet can actually be bad for us. A low sodium diet can activate the rennin-angiotensin system and the sympathetic nervous system, increase in insulin resistance and cause overt hydration.(1). Therefore, it is important to have some sodium in your diet and today’s post is to persuade you to go the extra mile to swap regular iodized table salt for the pink Himalayan Crystal salt. Here are a few selling points to ponder on how Himalayan Salt can be beneficial (table salt cannot hold a candle to this):

  • Regulates fluid balance
  • Promotes a healthy pH balance
  • Promotes blood sugar regularity
  • Supportes respiratory health and muscle cramps
  • Promoting sinus health
  • Promotes bone health and skin health
  • Regulates sleep
  • Supports sex drive
  • Regulates blood pressure in conjuction with water
  • Slows the processes of aging

Himalayan Crystal Salt has 80 plus minerals and elements including: potassium, calcium and magnesium (2).. So what do you think? Ideally I use Himalayan Crystal Salt in all of my cooking (when needed) and in my homemade nut butters. Side note, homemade macadamia nut butter is my new favorite thing. Oh my goodness is it good. Overall I have always salted my food; well have tried not to, but now table salt does not taste good to me. Himalayan Salt has a different taste and a much better one. Make the change and let me know how you go. I hope this information offered some new knowledge for you. Cheers to you and good health! 1. Harrison RA, Edwards R. Was Sid the slug worth GBP4 million? A population perspective or policy based evidence. 2. Frezenius Institute in Europe

No Excuses

Whether or not you are on the Dukan Diet, the Paleo Diet, Weight Watchers or Fast Food only, you are in the power of your own well-being  No one can defend your health better than yourself. Not your doctor, not your partner, husband or wife and not your mother. You know your body better than anyone and you cannot neglect the opportunity to feel your best, perform your best, sleep your best and be your overall best person. Clearly it is not easy, yet, the overall effort is well worth it.

If you think you could tweak your state of health in any way (diet, fitness, sleep, stress), I empower you to make change now. If time is the problem, start small by adding a little more fitness in your day, staying hydrated, putting aside time for enough sleep, surrounding yourself in a positive environment and more.

Everyone’s needs are different including fitness patterns and eating regimes. Yet, it is not as clear to know what exactly works for our individual DNA. This takes a conscious effort to understand and time.

If I could offer one piece of advice on diet, it is to do a personal experiment to figure out what food ingredients make you feel your best. How? There are various ways of doing this but the quickest results can be revealed with a modified elimination diet. This includes the removal of dairy, legumes and/or grains (including all sugar) from your diet for 3-6 weeks. If this is too much, try removing just one of the 3 food groups listed above.

Am I crazy? Yes. But I care about your health just as much as mine. I certainly get push-back with this modified diet idea but, more often than not, by the end there is always some sort of success through the transition.

Are you on-board to give this a shot?

Maybe some background information can serve as inspiration. Once upon a time I attended a convention, Food As Medicine, put on by many credible health and medical experts. During the seminar, at some level, the practitioners preached a gluten and dairy free diet. As a registered dietitian I sat in my chair taking notes thinking 1) “These doctors have to be nuts, who would avoid whole grains and cheese? And, 2) “Thank goodness I am not intolerant to these foods, I can never imagine living without them.”

Fast-forward to today – if I had as much of a crumb of bread I am put out for at least 2 days. I may bloat, I get skin blemishes, I become depressed (and I am happy person), I get endless food cravings, sleep disturbances and my blood sugars become unbearable to control. On the flip-side  my diabetes is much more stable on a gluten free, dairy free and legume free diet AND I require less than half of the insulin I needed on a ‘balanced diet’. This is amazing, especially since many endocrinologists find type 1 diabetics require more insulin with age. Most days I average 9 units of basal insulin (Novolog) and thinking back to my high school days, I used to require 20-24 basal units of insulin per day. I am also 10 years older since I graduated from high school.

Regardless of present symptoms or lack of, these foods (dairy, gluten, legumes (lectins)) can cause inflammation in our bodies, which simply leads to bad things and poor health outcomes. Three to six weeks of an elimination diet can help put the proof in the pudding and help you understand what really makes you feel your best.

This personal inclusion is to help demonstrate how food can affect us. Proponents of a ‘balanced diet’ of whole grains, low fat dairy and legumes, argue that consumption of novel Neolithic and Industrial era foods is responsible for the current epidemic levels of obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer in the US and other contemporary Western populations.[1]

Have a think about it. This is just an idea for anyone looking to feel better and better manage blood sugar levels.

If you think it is something you want to give a shot, it is important to be strict for the whole 3 weeks (at least), allowing for no variables. Once the 21  or 42 days expire, slowly add in any of the restricted foods you have missed and ask yourself how you feel. If you notice any intolerance, reach for many other nutrient dense foods like seasonal vegetables, grass fed meat, seafood, coconut milk, nuts, seeds, berries, dark chocolate, fruit and more.

Food is one of the best pleasures in life; just make sure the choices you make are worth it.

Cheers to you and good health! If you need any help. that is what I am here for. There are no excuses in neglecting your own well-being.

 

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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic-style_diet