Fruit is Fine all of the Time

There is a common misconception floating around the internet that you should only eat fruit in the morning or on an empty stomach. The myth tellers report that for proper nutrient absorption, the enzymes in your stomach need to focus on just breaking down the fruit or it will halt digestion leading to fermentation or rotting. Frankly non of this is supported with scientific evidence.

Fruit is high in fiber so it was theorized that all the fiber would slow down your digestion. The truth is that fiber does slow down your digestion but not to the point where anything could “go bad” in your gut. Somewhat slowed digestion is good because it allows your body to release a steady flow of insulin into the bloodstream helping your blood sugar stabilize and prevent spiking. Also your stomach is a vat of acid that is supposed to hold food before it steadily releases it into the intestines where nutrients are actually absorbed.

So enjoy those berries on top of your parfait and that post-dinner fruit salad because fruit is fine all of the time.

 

Show Up for Yourself

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Injuries are a drag. In our fast paced world we are constantly exploring more ways to be efficient, we are often thinking about our next move, which can be dangerous. When it comes to exercising it is important to leave that busy mind at the door and take the time to connect with yourself. It’s easy to slip into thinking about our to-do list but when you let your mind wander you might let your form wander too and that is what often leads to the aching back or knee.

Good form is key to a good workout. I workout as an investment in myself. I use it as an opportunity to quiet my mind and be present with myself. When I’m being mindful of my body, my stretches go deeper, my movements are smooth and  I feel stronger. As a mom I do a lot for other people so my workout is my time for myself and I try to make to the most of it by focusing on just that, myself.

When I show up for myself, I feel the difference so I encourage you to show up for yourself and invest in your body and well being.

New and Expecting Mom PT Special

After presenting to a group of new moms about how to strengthen their core, I realized that the majority of information about how to exercise is designed around male bodies. As mothers our physical needs and demands are very different. Crunches and sit ups don’t help tighten our tummies or make carrying a sleeping baby in a car seat any easier.

If you are a new or expecting mom and want guidance about how to regain your core strength and stability you can buy a package of 3, 30 minute in home personal training sessions for $120 during June.

It can be hard to get out of the house with a new baby, so I will come to you to customize a workout plan that works for you. We will establish goals, define metrics and establish a plan for you to achieve your goals. Get in touch if you are a new or expecting mom and want support on regaining core strength and stability!

I Don’t Use Shampoo

Or conditioner. Hair care products often contain harsh chemicals which can be absorbed and directed into the blood stream. A few years ago I stopped using all commercial hair care products and started using a variety of oils, like coconut and olive oil. The main treatment I use is an apple cider vinegar hair rinse.

Mix equal parts water and organic apple cider vinegar in a squirt bottle. Add 5-10 drops of rosemary essential oil (for dark hair) or chamomile essential oil (for light hair). Spray on dry hair, brush through and rinse. The acidity of the ACV helps balance your hairs pH levels and close the scale like cuticles that coat each hair follicle. Open cuticles promote tangles and frizzy hair, closed cuticles give that glossy look.

 

*side note if the smell of vinegar offends you, increase the amount of water.

Your Body on Chairs

Many professionals in the health world are now saying that sitting is the new smoking. Sitting is hard on your body in a variety of ways. It strains your low back, doesn’t engage your posterior chain (the back of your legs) and decreases your metabolism.

Here are some tips if you spend a lot of time sitting.

  • Try to stand. Contact HR, your office manager or whoever may be in charge of ordering office equipment and get a sit/stand workstation.
  • Try to move around during the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, take time to walk to the water cooler or take the long way to your next meeting.
  • Do little movements. Roll your neck and shoulders throughout the day. spread your fingers wide apart and squeeze your shoulders blades together.
  • Squat. Squatting is one of the best things you can do for your health, it relieves your low back, engages your legs, opens your hips and enhances digestion. We were designed to squat.
  • Stretch and exercise. After work make time to move your body, get your heart rate up and stretch.

Have a Strong Core

When people find out I am a personal trainer, it is usually followed up with a question about a minor injury they are currently suffering from. My response is most often strengthen your core.

Our core is a complex series of muscles including the abs, obliques, transverse abdominus and psoas. These muscles are most often act as stabilizers to other muscle groups  either providing or absorbing force. Increasing core strength can help prevent injury by reducing the strain on other muscle groups.

I had a weak glute and certain activities, including sleeping, would inflame my hip and low back. I began daily exercises to strengthen my glutes and core to stabilize my pelvis.

Core strength comes from more than crunches. You want to do activities that engage our deep muscles like bicycles and leg lifts.

Feel free to reach out to me about your core.

 

 

The Other Four Letter Words

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CARB, EPOC and HIIT! I’m fairly confident that fad diets will never go away, at least until the current political structures that subsidize unhealthy lifestyles, like the farm bill and oil wars, are dismantled. Carbohydrates fuel our bodies. But too many carbohydrates can make us sick. And our current system likes to feed us a lot of carbohydrates.

I eat carbs and it make me happy. I have food sensitivities and I don’t really care for sweets so a lot of carbs are off limits already but I don’t deny myself the ones I can eat, like tortilla chips. In general I eat on the lower end of the carb spectrum but I don’t count calories or grams.

If you are going to eat carbs try to make sure they’re worth eating. That means whatever is about to go in your mouth should be packed with nutrients and fiber, like whole grains or sweet potatoes. Fiber helps slow down the release of glucose into our bloodstream so our bodies can release an appropriate amount of insulin to transport the glucose. Too much unused insulin can lead to insulin insensitivity or diabetes.

Our muscles have 3 energy systems that come into play at various stages in our workout. They all essentially run on adenosine triphosphate, ATP. A small amount of ATP is stored within our muscles for short burst of energy like catching a falling baby or throwing a spear at a predator. After a few seconds your glycolytic system kicks in and starts cobbling together ATP from stored glucose. This system is also short lived while a build up of hydrogen ions, a byproduct of glycolis, starts to inhibit muscle contraction.

Finally the oxidative system comes into play. Our aerobic system is constantly humming in the background of our daily life, fueling our muscles for basic functioning, like walking and digesting. When we put extra stress on our muscles, especially during exercise our oxidative system goes into overdrive. After just over a minute of intense movement or lifting our aerobic system redirects its efforts to focus on delivering oxygen to our muscles and will continue working well after a workout. This is know as the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, EPOC. Basically our muscles are still “burning” calories for hours after we’ve completed a workout.

This EPOC effect has contributed the success of high intensity integral training, HIIT. Doing intense activities for short periods of times (20-90 seconds) with short recovery times (10-60 seconds) repeatedly helps our bodies utilize all our metabolic energy systems and keeps us metabolically flexible.

Our bodies most easily use glucose from carbohydrates to fuel our muscles so don’t feel bad about eating carbs, feel good about putting them to use!

Overcoming Dieting

I’ve teamed up with Sheira Kahn, MFT, so that we can help get people the support they need to become their best selves. Here’s a piece she wrote about growing up with an eating disorder and how she overcame.

When I was 12, I started “watching my weight” which meant counting calories and worrying that I was fat. I wasn’t overweight, but I wasn’t skinny and when I was 13, I decided to go on this diet that my friend’s mother recommended. (It was the 9-Day Miracle Diet from Good Housekeeping, I believe. Does anybody remember it?) The diet entailed fasting for four days on weak orange-ade, then eating plain chicken for five more days. That an adult would sanction this for a child shows how crazy people were about losing weight. My jeans were falling off at the end and I got lots of compliments, but food never tasted so good and I could not stop eating. I gained back the weight and more.

It didn’t help that my parents were divorcing at the time. Other kids were joining sports and clubs but I dealt with my parents’ divorce by coming home after school and having Afternoon Snack. From a friend, I had learned how crazy you could go with food when the parents weren’t there. She showed me how to put brown sugar on piece after piece of buttered toast, and I did that alone for hours. Of course I gained weight and felt terrible. Girls in my town were admired for their looks first, and any other accomplishments second. I was failing on both counts.

After 8 months of bingeing followed by trying various new diets, my mom handed me her Weight Watchers cookbook. With a solemn voice, she told me many women had solved their weight problems with this book. I sensed it was a kind of bible and that I was being initiated into a secret of womanhood that would help me with my biggest problem. I followed everything it said and also started jogging. By the end of the summer, I had lost 15 pounds. Then I joined field hockey and lost 10 more. I was thrilled and everybody else seemed to be also, even my grandmother, who had been my one source of unconditional love.

But at the Acme supermarket in town, they made these powdered donuts filled with chocolate creme. Not cream, creme. One night, sick of the skim milk and Sweet ’n Low that served as my treat (not kidding), I succumbed to the donuts. I probably had more than one and less than three but I felt desperate not to gain back the weight that had so ruined my lovability the year before. I had read in a book that you could stick your finger down your throat to make yourself throw up and that’s exactly what I did. My eyes watering, my throat a little scratched from the fingernail, I was amazed to find that I felt free of guilt almost instantly. I don’t think I thought I would ever do it again, but that moment began 4 years of a spiral that threatened my life and took the life of my unborn children by ruining my fertility.

Let’s skip ahead, over the years of eating an entire sweet potato pie, of dismantling my boss’s gingerbread house and consuming the candy, then lying about it, over my double life of appearing to have it all together while bowing over the toilet nightly, telling no one. Let’s get to the part where it got so bad that I had to either handle the problem or give my life over to the disease. Fortunately, enough love had somehow gotten in that I chose the former. I started to read anything I could get my hands on that helped me make sense of the crazy things I did – and thought. I learned that the demon that made me punish my body was a mix of feelings and thoughts that lived in me, over which I could take control if I faced it head on. With the help of wise teachers and counselors in my twenties, that is what I did.

It did not occur to me to eat and exercise with love as the motivator. I knew that was a good idea, but too much had happened in my life that had translated into self-hatred. I had to understand this hatred before I could eat and exercise in a way that wasn’t punishing. It took a long time, but I knew that the other path, the path of hatred, was only going to destroy me so I practiced and practiced until self-love became my home station, and the hatred was the exception.

I hope it’s not as severe for you as my bout with bulimia, but if you struggle with your weight and your body, you may have a milder version of what I had, and the ways I got out of it might be useful for you. These are the practices I did that promoted me to love myself and have positive experiences with exercise and eating:

  1. I found a teacher (counselor) who saw the best in me and showed me how to do that for myself.
  2. I learned how to stop my self-hating thoughts and feelings. Related to no. 1, above, I undid the knot of painful feelings inside that had been translated into concerns about my weight.
  3. Using what I was learning about my basic lovability as a human being, I adjusted my motivation to exercise from losing weight to one of feeling the vitality and enjoyment of movement.
  4. I learned how to eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full, instead of either not stopping, or stopping when I had reached my calorie or carb limit. Eating became a source of enjoyment, satisfaction and energy, instead of a source of numbing out or feeling like a failure.
  5. I paid close attention to people who did not hate their bodies, absorbing what they said and did and how they talked to themselves.
  6. I accepted my body as it was and realized I was doing the best I could, instead of imposing a tough standard on myself.

Power to you! Enjoy becoming free.

 

Sheira Kahn is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Coach with an online practice and an office in Alameda, CA. She is co-author of The Erasing ED Treatment Manual, available on Amazon. She teaches in the UC Berkeley Extension Certificate Program for Eating and Weight Disorders. For her blog and more information about working with her, go to www.sheirakahn.com.

 

Breathe in the Calm

Toddlers are constantly learning and processing information. Part of that learning is about boundaries. Enforced boundaries can often lead to yelling, tears, mean words or some horrible combination. When my patience is tested with difficult behavior or my little one needs help calming down, we use some breathing techniques that help us both get centered and able to communicate better.

A Cooling Breath

When tempers flare and one of us or both of us are feeling hot headed we take a cooling breathe to chill us out.

Slowly inhale through pursed lips or a curled tongue, hold the chilled air in for a few seconds and then slowly exhale through the nose.040917 Molly exercice outdoor-19

Dragon’s Breath or Fire Breathing

When sadness consumes us and the world feels like it’s falling apart we take a warming breath to strengthen ourselves.

Make a fist and raise them above your head while sticking your thumbs out towards each other. Slowly inhale through the nose and exhale either over your teeth to make a “ch” sound or through your nose, in short burst so that your stomach is making a series of quick contractions.040917 Molly exercice outdoor-30.JPG

Lion’s Breath

When everything is annoying and there is no physical way my eyeballs can roll into the back of my head enough we let it all out.

Slowly inhale through your nose, forward fold and open your mouth as big as you can while sticking out your tongue and releasing all the air at once with a big “ha” noise.

Dancing Candle

For moments of deep sadness we dance with the flame of a candle.

Light a candle and slowly blow on the flame just enough to make it dance but not enough to blow it out to.