Who Knew Sugar Was Scary?

We’ve all heard it…sugar is bad for you in excess.  But why? It’s in the natural makeup of a lot of the fruits we eat…so how can it be that bad?!

Okay first…stop that thinking.  Yes there is sugar in fruits, but it’s natural and the benefits of the other stuff in that piece of fruit, outweigh the sugar.  Plus, that’s where we should be getting what little sugar we need from…not the added sugar that comes in all those processed foods.

Little disclaimer…I do not pretend to be sugar free!  I probably eat more than I should, as we all do, I am just becoming more aware of my sugar sources.  And the article I’m about share scared me enough to start paying better attention!

You can find the origin article here:               This is Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Eat a Ton of Sugar

Sugar messes with every organ and system in your body.  Let’s start off with the obvious..it adds weight.  Foods with a lot of sugar also tend to have higher calorie counts and lower protein and fiber counts.  Your body has no choice but to start storing the extra calories as fat for later use.  Keep going on this path, and you become another statistic in the obesity crisis.

Your pancreas has to up its insulin release to accommodate for the extra sugar.  Cells then become resistant to the insulin because they’re being bombarded by it constantly.  Think of it as sleep…wake up early enough consistently, and you eventually get used to an early wake up time.  Same thing with insulin…your cells constantly see insulin, eventually they’ll quit responding.  

All that insulin inundating your cells and the pancreas doing some overtime work, then starts to make you feel sluggish and tired.  You also start to feel hungry sooner and more thirsty.  This is due to the lack of other nutrients; usually protein and fiber.  Do all of this long enough…constant insulin, feeding your hunger with sugar, satisfying your thirst with sugary drinks…and diabetes follows. 

And if all this isn’t scary enough…your brain responds and adjusts to the extra sugar like it would if you were addicted to cocaine.  The same pleasure centers light up and the same addiction process takes hold.  The brain then responds by demanding more sugar to get the same “high,” compounding all the other health problems.

Okay…less scary…at least health wise…sugar wreaks havoc on our skin and collagen.  Sugar attaches to proteins in the body, including collagen and elastin, the stuff that makes our skin stretch and return to normal with little visible damage.  But a lot of sugar in the blood stream keeps collagen and elastin from repairing themselves easily.  
I didn’t quite realize how much sugar affected the body.  I knew it made you gain weight and could lead to diabetes, but affecting the brain and skin repair…yikes!  Moderation is the key.  Read nutrition labels and stear clear of high sugar foods; a general rule is under 10 g per serving (but also watch the serving, if it’s a tsp serving and there are 10 g of sugar, that’s as bad as a cup serving with 20 g of sugar.). Be diligent and smart about your choices…we only have one body, treat it well!


I Hate Peeing…And Other Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Stop Drinking Water

Yes I’ve posted about this before…numerous times…here and on my FB page.  But it is such an important part of a healthy body, and I don’t think we drink nearly as much as we should on a daily basis.  I think there are some pretty common excuses for this and I want to address some of the ones I once used in hopes of inspiring you to go out and drink a little more water!

  1.  I hate peeing ALL THE TIME.
    Oh my gosh…who doesn’t!  It’s irritating to constantly have to get up and go to the bathroom.  But I’d rather do that then the alternative…feeling heavy, sluggish, and tired because I haven’t drank enough water.  And peeing is a good thing!  It helps measure your hydration.  If you don’t pee all day…you are very much dehydrated.  You may not feel it, but you are.  On the flip side, if you’re peeing every 30 minutes…okay maybe you can back off the water a little.  You should also pay attention to the color of your urine…dark yellow means you need more water…clear means you’re drinking plenty and you could probably slow down.  Somewhere in the middle is where you want to land!
  2. Water has no taste
    Such truth in this statement.  On most days I can drink my goal of 90 ounces of water (I like to use the formula:  your body weight/2 = ounces of water; 100 lb person would drink 50 ounces a day).  However, there are those days where something more flavorful would just hit the spot.  Here’s where “spiking” your water comes in handy!  Adding fruit (lemon, strawberry, melon) or cucumbers can help add flavor to water without adding calories.  If you need a little something extra, there are numerous water additives that are sugar free or close to it.  Crystal Light is one of those that I have found to be yummy and little to no sugar.  Mio also has a line of water enhancers that are tasty as well.  Just beware when using these…check the caloric and sugar totals, and as with anything processed, use in moderation.
  3. I don’t have time to drink water
    Let’s just throw that statement out right now.  I used to think I had no time for water either.  I work in a lab and cannot have my water at my workstation…it’s in a clean area away from my work area.  I now make it a point to go and drink water.  Plain and simple….it’s a choice and a decision to “go do.”  Some days yes…there is little time to go get a drink of water because we’re busy.  That just makes those times I can go all the more important.

    I have found that a water bottle that holds a good amount of water is the best way to get my water intake.  I use a water bottle that holds 20 ounces.  I never know how much I actually drink at the time, but when I hit the bottom, I know I’m 20 ounces closer to my goal.  Four of those bottles and I’m up to 80 ounces for the day!  They also have cute bottles on Etsy and other DIY sites that have hour marks to show how much you should drink every hour.  Super cute and super handy if you can place it somewhere visible.

  4. I drink it at lunch and at breakfast, that’s enough.
    Truth moment…it’s not.  Even if you drink 4 glasses, two at each meal, that’s only about 32-40 ounces of water.  The standard of 8 8 ounce glasses is 64 ounces of water.  So…you’re still 24 ounces shy.  Thus…the usefulness of a water bottle to have with you between meals.  Plus if you space out your intake…less bathroom breaks!

These are excuses I used to allow myself to not drink water.  Over the years and especially since taking up running, I’ve realized how important water is to not only our hydration needs, but also to the workings of our physiology.  We are humans made of water…it is only natural that we should put that stuff back into our bodies!!

What…THAT’S Unhealthy?!

I truly have some great friends!  One of them suggested this blog post to me and it was fabulous!  So much so I have to share it with you!  ****Information from FitLife.tv****

This article shares 10 foods that are generally promoted as healthy, or are mistaken for healthy; but as you look into ingredients and contents, the unhealthiness might surprise you!

1.  Yougurt/Frozen Yogurt

I will admit…this one surprised me just a little…but after reading the article and then going to some well-known yogurt brand sites…I was shocked.  There is hidden sugar in there!  Even the light brands (up until a couple of months ago) contained the imitation sugars that science has shown to increase sugar intake when eaten.  So what are we to do?  I mean this is touted as a superfood to help lose inches and keep you satisfied……well the article suggests Greek yogurt.  I completely agree.  It is higher in protein, and if you choose plain over flavored your saving yourself some sugar.  You can add fruit, honey, granola, etc to it and make it yummy!  If you do choose one that is flavored, just beware of the sugar content and adjust in your other meal choices for the day!

2.  Agave Nectar

I have very little experience with this sweeter, but like many I always thought it was a good substitute to sweeten stuff.  The article however says it contains 70% to 80% fructose, more than what’s found in high-fructose corn syrup.  Yikes!  There are other options that will probably save you calories and an artificial blood spike that sends you back to the fridge after an hour, including raw honey, maple syrup, dates, and stevia.

3.  Cereal/Instant Oatmeal

This is very sad…I love cereal…but as I’ve grown up, I have come to realize how much sugar and other artificial flavorings are in these delicious breakfast boxes.  Oatmeal can also be a surprising sugar hider…the instant oatmeal is artificially flavored so that when you’re done with the 1 minute cooking time, its ready to go, no additions needed.  However, there are options in these categories that are actually healthy…you just have to do some digging and reading.  Cereals and oatmeal with more fibers, less sugar, and less overall ingredients are usually better options.

4.  Snack/Protein Bars

Hopefully by now, most of us have learned our lesson on these little sugar traps.  Sugar and other less-than-desirable ingredients are easy to sneak into these bars; especially when they are labeled as healthy, fat free, and sugar free.  Again, this is where you have to do digging and reading to find a better bar.  I would even suggest going on pinterest and finding recipes for DIY bars (I will have some recipes for these in the coming weeks!).  They usually include 5 -6 ingredients when you do them yourself, and are super easy to make.  Plus you’ll be amazed at how great they taste without all the added yuck!

5.  Skim Milk

I have never like skim milk, it tastes like milk water to me…but it is surprising it makes the list.  But the problem, according to the article, is the loss of milk fat is replaced with synthetic vitamins….and can contain added sugar.  I prefer 1% milk, and limit my intake.  Other options include almond or coconut milk…which are easier on the digestive system and have fewer calories without added sugars.

6.  Whole Wheat/Multigrain Breads

This is one where I have a problem.  Whole wheat and multigrain breads are not bad…if they are made correctly.  The article states that these breads have enriched white flour in them and only enough whole wheat or multigrain to pass as that kind of bread.  Bread should always be consumed in moderation, but if you again, read the labels and ingredients, you can tell the good from the questionable.  But again, I do agree that it should be mindful eating when eating bread so as not to consume too much.

7.  Peanut Butter

This is the one I that saddens me the most…I love peanut butter.  I would eat it on everything if I could!  I think it makes this list because the traditional peanut butter you think of is filled with sugar, oils, and fats.  The article suggests other nut butters, almond, sunflower, or cashew, since nuts are a healthy source of fat.  However, if you’re like me and absolutely refuse to substitute your peanut butter…try the all-natural varieties (I’ve done Jif and Skippy).  These have 5 ingredients max and no oils.  You will notice a difference in taste and will fall in love all over again.  Another option is some grocery stores let you make your own nut butters.  You get a pound or so of the nut of your choice (peanuts……..) and they have a machine in store that will grind it down and make a butter out of it.  That’s it…one ingredient!  I haven’t tried it yet…perhaps I should…but I know people who have and won’t go back to the bottled stuff ever!

8.  Trail Mix

This is one that I could definitely see why it made the list…but don’t want to discourage it’s use.  Pre-packaged trail mixes contain extra calories, fat, and sugar…especially if you get the trail mix that include chocolate, candies, or dried fruit (because these dried fruits usually have added sugar).  But trail mix can be an excellent source of healthy fats and electrolytes during intense workouts.  If you want trail mix, make your own; probably cheaper as well as healthy in the long run.  Plus you can make it yours!  Search Pinterest for ideas of inclusions…dried, unsweetened fruit, coconut flakes, raw nuts, etc.

9.  Frozen Diet Meals

This is one of those too good to be true type of scenarios.  While the calorie count may be low, these meals rarely have any nutritional value.  They are loaded with preservatives and sodium.  However, they are easy to make and I find myself buying two or three every now and then because I haven’t planned my weekly meals well enough.  Your best bet for “diet” foods are whole foods and dishes you make yourself.  And if you make meals ahead, and even freeze them, then you can have quick meals that are far healthier.

10.  Fat-Free Foods

I would we would all know this one by now as well.  These foods are typically sugar and chemical loaded to make up for the lack of flavor without the fat.  And interestingly, I didn’t know this until reading the article, but when you remove the fat it takes the food further away from its natural form.  Interesting fact….so you’re actually going the complete opposite with diet intentions when you eat “fat-free.”  Your best option…choose your fat wisely.  Like the trail mix before, nuts have fat, but their healthy fats.  They should be consumed in moderation because fat is still fat.  Other foods like avocados, olive oil, seeds, coconut, etc are good, healthy fat options.  You don’t want to cut fat out of your diet; the body still needs it to function…..it just doesn’t need as much as we give it!

So there you have it…10 foods that are sneaky little sneaksters.  Surprised?  Not surprised?

Fitness Geek

Yup I’ll say it…I am a fitness geek.  But here’s my definition of such things…I love trying to find and using the latest apps and gadgets to get the most out of my workouts and meals. There fun to play with and then when you actually start using them, the inormation they reveal is amazing!!

I’ve used many an app for running, cross training, and tracking my meals.  But I’m only going to tell you about my 2 favorite, because this list could go on!

First, I’ve talked about it before, but I’ve been tracking my food for the last month with MyFitnessPal.  Yes it will also track exercise, but there are apps dedicated to running that I like better…but I digress.  MyFitnessPal is simple and easy to use; it asks you for your daily lifestyle and your goal, and based on that gives you a calorie goal.  When adding food, it has a massive index of foods and restaurants to choose from.  And my favorite feature…if you get your recipe online (like from Pinterest), you can put that website into the app and it will find the recipe and match ingredients for you!  

And not sure how your week is stacking up?  There is a nutrition section where you can look at your week and see how it’s going!  You might surprise yourself and see your not doing as bad as you thought you were!!

 And now on to the fitness app.  I used to use the Nike Run app and it worked fine.  But a lot of friends were using RunKeeper and it kept popping up in magazines as one of THE apps for running.  And they were right!  It’s user friendly and tells me everything about my run, time per mile, mile splits, overall time, and total miles.  And I know what you’re thinking…they all do that!  But wait!  After a particularly good run…longest to date, shortest time per mile, etc…the app sends you rewards!  My first was 20% off a smart scale.  My last two have been coupons for deodorant…yes less exciting but if you’ve ever smelled me after a run you would think it was a fabulous reward!! 

Just a little screen shot of the app.  Shows where you ran and all the other info.  And it’s not bad looking either!

So I would call myself a fitness geek.  The latest greatest apps are like candy to me.  If they’re aesthetically appealing, easy to use, and give valuable info for my fitness then you know I will download it and try it out!!  Ah….fun stuff!

The Beginning

At the beginning of February, I realized I had only 3 months to train for my next half-marathon. What?  Three months?  That’s forever!!  Well when running 13.1 miles…3 months can feel like 3 weeks.  Ugh…okay…just do it…commit to a training program for 3 months.

And so it begins…on Feb 9 I told myself that I was going to take this training thing seriously for 3 months, and at the end I would get a nice big sundae as a reward.  Well…I’ve already had my sundae…and progress has been imperfect at best.

So I bought this book, “The Runner’s Diet,” by Madelyn H. Fernstrom, because it’s so much easier to run when you don’t have to worry about the gut rumbles.  To make it absurdly simple, to get the best performance possible, a runner’s diet should have 50% carbs, 25% protein, and 25% fat.  It’s also necessary to eat these nutrients at the right time of day.  Protein in the morning and afternoon to satisfy hunger, and carbs in the evenings to hold you over while you sleep.  And sure, there are other nutrients we need to throw in…fiber, vitamins, etc.  When broken down like this, nutrition should be a piece of cake.

Well outside temptations…lets just say cake…get in the way.  So my perfectly defined runner’s diet breakdown, gets tossed out the window.   Ugh…why is sugar so good?  So I took a proactive approach…I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app which lets me track my food.  It also allows me to follow the specific nutrition elements I want to and what percentages I want them to be at (oh yeah, and calories!).  And you know what…I wasn’t doing half bad.  Sure some days were way out of whack, but the majority of my eating matched my intake goals.  Okay…this might be a little easier than I thought.

So in the cold, snowy month of February…my main goal now is to fix my eating.  I will do my fitness, but I will concentrate on food just a little bit more.  I foresee some inside time in the near future as snow and cold are in the forecast for at least a week…so I can make meal plans and plan shopping so I can succeed.  I will train right for this half-marathon……………I will, I will, I will!!