Thursday, February 2, 2017

Carrots ‘N’ Cake Turns 9 + Win a Designed to Fit Meal Plan

Good morning!

There’s a lot to celebrate today! It’s National Carrot Cake Day as well as the day that I started Carrot ‘N’ Cake NINE (!!!) years ago. I love this crazy coincidence and feel like it was just meant to be!

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First off, I just want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for reading CNC. This blog wouldn’t be what it is today without you, and I can’t even begin to explain how much each of your comments, questions, messages, likes, and emails mean to me. <3

If you’ve followed CNC for awhile now, you know just HOW MUCH my life has changed since the start of this blog. (Related: Here’s a little recap from February 2008 – present.) And now I’m moving on to another phase of my life: Designed to Fit Nutrition. It’s something that Kerrie and I talked about for years and now it’s a reality. We’ve already put so much time, energy, and money into this business, and we’re just getting started. I’m SO EXCITED to see what the future holds for us! 🙂

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Local readers: We’ll be at Whole Foods Market Hingham on Wednesday, February 22nd if you want to learn more about DTFN. Register here!

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As a thank you for reading all these years, I’m giving away a 4-week Designed to Fit Nutrition custom  meal plan with yours truly as your coach! 🙂

Our 4-week plan takes the guesswork out of macro-counting and meal planning because it’s customized to your specific macronutrient needs. It includes one-on-one coaching to keep you motivated and on track. Each week includes all new meals, so there’s plenty of variety without any sort of complicated planning on your part. This plan is perfect for someone who wants to jump start their diet and requires some personalized accountability to stay on track.

Includes:

  • 4 weeks of meal plans, customized to your specific daily protein, carbohydrate, and fat settings to align with personal goals (workout and rest days included)
  • Individualized grocery shopping lists with easy food prep instructions
  • Healthy and easy-to-make recipes
  • Weekly weigh-ins and progress check-ins with coach
  • Ongoing accountability and motivation
  • Custom macro adjustments as needed
  • Community support via DTFN Client Facebook Group

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To enter: Just leave a comment on this post about why you’d like to win a DTFN meal plan and then share this giveaway on social media by tagging @designedtofitnutrition. I will randomly pick a winner next week. Good luck!

The post Carrots ‘N’ Cake Turns 9 + Win a Designed to Fit Meal Plan appeared first on Carrots 'N' Cake.



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My Training at 45

So…I am now a rounding error away from 50. That’s, kinda wacky to contemplate, but here I am. I remember my parents at this age and they seemed OLD. The naïveté of youth blinded me to what real age and decrepitude would look like for my parents in a few more decades, but yea, they seemed OLD. Bad food, smoking and little exercise certainly took their toll. I must admit that reflecting back on that process in my parents and extrapolating forward with myself is not a pleasant experience. This is likely a good argument for pulling a bit of Zen perspective into things and just doing my best to remain in the present, and let the phantoms of both memory and future expectations flutter away. In a more concrete way of dealing with the uncertainties of getting older I’m hopeful that what I’m doing with regards to sleep, nutrition, training and lifestyle will put me on a very different path than my parents. Time will tell on that, but part of these yearly updates is an accountability process. Is what I’m doing “working?” And what does “working” mean in the context of more effective aging?  

I want to be as active and engaged as I can, cognitively, emotionally, physically, for as long as possible. I want to see my girls grow up and hopefully get to know some grandkids. I want to be there for them and provide the support and grounding I would so love to have if my own parents were still alive. I have a lot of work that I’m passionate about in both the health and sustainability spheres. I may be delusional, but I think I can help to bring about change for the better and the only way I can do that is if I’m firing on all cylinders, or as many as I can keep going!

If you have followed these updates for the past six years you will not see a ton that is new, but at this point the insights come more slowly. Adjustments are generally not huge, but they do add up.

Training

Although I want to be generally strong, fit and mobile (while looking good enough naked that my wife still wants to sleep with me) the primary thing I’m training for is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. This is a tough sport, both physically and emotionally. It’s not difficult to get hurt and for every good day of training where you feel like you are making progress, there are often weeks in which you wonder what the heck you are doing. I could likely make the case that for an exclusively longevity focussed program BJJ might not be as good as say masters track & field, but, for whatever reason, this martial art is about the most interesting physical (and mental) activity I have ever done. I am still focussing the bulk of my time on positional drilling in lieu of the 3-4 techniques, and then live rolling, which typifies all too many BJJ schools. I’m getting pretty close to my purple belt and what I’m finding is I need to have a specific game plan for my drilling and live rolling and then I need to critically assess what I need to improve in my performance. I’m still leaning heavily on what I get from Henry Akins Hidden Jiu-jitsu and it’s tough to describe how enlightening this material is. Henry’s approach is simple, direct and does not rely on attributes like strength, speed or huge amounts of cardio. If you have those attributes, that’s great, but when I think about this process from the perspective of effective aging, I do not want to build a game that relies on my 45 year old attributes. Why? Because I do not want to change everything I do when I’m 50. And 55. And 60. Do you see what the attribute based game looks like? A constant process of discovering your hard won technique no longer works. That seems depressing enough to really want to quit! I want to build a game that is orthopedically sound and that will not require constant re-jiggering to keep pace with aging. I use very few fabric based grips as the folks I see who rely on this type of training end up with seriously dysfunctional hands. Not interested in that. My gi and no-gi games are almost identical. Again, from that aging athlete perspective, do I want to learn 2 things or 20? I try to stick to general principles instead of a laundry list of techniques. I focus on the 20% of techniques that get us 90% of the return we want. I’ve focussed a lot on my defensive game such that I’m reasonably hard to put away now, so I’m just not that worried about being either submitted or in a dodgy situation. I can relax and wait instead of trying to force situations. When I do get into a situation in which I have control, I’m not spazzing out trying to immediately get a submission like a poodle that needs to pee. Whether you do jiujitsu or not I think there is  a lot to learn from this approach. With good technique we get the most from our attributes instead of skating by on them. 

So, what am I doing to support both jiujitsu and my general goals of remaining fit, strong and healthy? Not a lot has changed from previous updates, but I do have a few tweaks on the themes of low level cardio, mobility and strength work. I am still following the Gymnastics Bodies program and the recent upgrade in how the programming is rolled out has been a real boon for me. The material is broken into Upper body, Core, Lower body and has three days per week of a dedicated stretching program (Front Splits, Middle Splits, and and Back Bend (thoracic mobility)). I am able to do 90% of this material as movement breaks throughout my work day. This is both time efficient and keeps my body from rotting out from under me while I work. The GB program is fantastic for a number of reasons but one biggie for me is the inclusion of mobility work with the strength training. Your progression in the program is predicated on mastery in both strength AND mobility, so I get some great time efficiency and ROI from this program. In addition to the GB work I have two weight oriented training days that I drop in when and where it makes sense. Those days are structured like this:

Day 1

Vertical press/pull (DB press/chins for example)

Hip dominant movement (hip bridge or RDL)

 

Day 2

Horizontal Press/pull (DB bench, plyo-pushups/DB rows or ring rows)

Unilateral lower body movement (lunges to every angle imaginable tend to be my go-to’s)

I use a Bulgarian technique of sorts in that I work up to a “heavy” set of 3-5 reps, then do 3-5 sets at that weight. “Heavy” has a very specific caveat: the movement rate MUST remain fast, and by fast I mean the repetition is a second or less on the concentric phase, with very little emphasis on the eccentric phase. This is likely not a good plan for bodybuilding but for athleticism and anti-aging it has some serious merits. I’m dealing with a reasonably heavy load AND trying to move that weight as fast as possible. This should preferentially recruit the large motor units and type 2B fibers which are the things we lose first with aging. Although this is not likely the ideal way to gain the most amount of muscle, I have gained about 8lbs since this time last year due to consistency and slowly increasing loads. I am (for me) relatively strong in the gym currently and the overall carryover to grappling is good. Rolling with people 40-60lbs heavier than I am is no picnic, but I am rarely if ever just rolled up due to superior weight and strength. I think this is due to NOT relying on my strength (relying instead on the non-attribute game I mentioned previously) but when I do need some chutzpah in the form of strength or power, I generally have it. I’d say 50% of the time I get one of these weight oriented days and 50% of the time I get two strength days per week. I let my schedule, recovery and how I’m feeling dictate the frequency. This is a remarkably flexible way for me to train and each weight session is at best 20-30 min, so it’s not a huge time suck.

On the conditioning side I try to get in 2 days per week of MAF pace “cardio,” usually after my strength days. I know that may not be optimal from the perspective of sending conflicting signals to my system (strength vs endurance) but this is very low-intensity work and I’m not gunning to be an elite strength athlete, so the convenience is worth whatever potential interference I may get from this. I tend to get 3-4 days per week of jiujitsu training but if I have to miss a day I do try to get in a circuit session along the lines of a Fight Gone Bad (5 stations, 1 min of work at each station, 1 min rest after completing the 5 min of work) but I do NOT kill myself on this. The only time I train hard is in occasional rolling. If I’m going to see the White Buffalo in The Sky, it’s grappling, not doing circuits in my cold-as-hell garage. Occasionally I will do an interval session on either the rower or airdyne on a weekend day. I’ve spent the last two years mainly focussing on that low intensity cardio side and I have made good progress there, so I am adding in occasionally harder bouts to push that anaerobic capacity side of things. This strength and conditioning work has produced a decent engine that allows me to train consistently, go hard when I need to, and recover without too much drama, so long as I keep an eye on my total volume and intensity.

Chow

Ah, good ole protein, carbs fat! I am, as always, still fiddling with my food, but again, not anything monumentally different, just small tweaks. Back in October 2016 I had the good fortune of attending the KetoGains seminar in Las Vegas. It was fantastic. I learned a ton and have been tinkering with that material a lot. I need to do a thorough review of the seminar and what was presented but here is what I took away:

1-While fiddling with ketosis, I have historically not taken in nearly enough electrolytes, specifically sodium. I thought I was taking in enough, I was not.

2-Although I have not been able to successfully keto fuel things like BJJ or CrossFit, there were folks there who appear to be doing so, but sometimes with caveats. It would appear some of these folks use a targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) for folks who are really hammering the glycolytic activities. What this boils down to is generally eating ketogenic ratios, but immediately prior to a training session an individual will consume anywhere from 10g-50g of maltodextrin or glucose. The theory here is once one starts exercising there will be little if any insulin release and thus this should only briefly take one out of ketosis.

I played with all of this quite a bit and here is where I have settled out: My first meal is pretty low carb. Breakfast is usually at the end of a 16-17 hr fast as we tend to have dinner around 5pm and then I do not eat until 8 or 9am. It’s super easy, I’m NOT training in that fasting period, and if I get really hungry, I just eat earlier. No stress, no drama. I tend to train at noon, be that jiujitsu or weights, so a few minutes before training I have about 20g of carbs in the form of either maltodextrin or the Recover product from PureWOD which is made from sweet potato. After the training session I’ll have “lunch” and will have carbs based on the volume and intensity of my training. I’m in the 75-120g of carbs per day range depending on activity. I have felt REALLY GOOD doing this. And some recent self experimentation has given me some potential insights into how to tweak all of this to best effect.

I did a two week experiment wearing a Continuous Glucose Meter (CGM) and I should have some pretty amazing data from that tinkering. I’m still waiting to get all that information back (which will include gut microbiome testing and a machine learning algorithm which will try to predict what foods I do best with) but one thing I noticed for sure is dense carb sources (rice, potatoes, gluten free bread…even sweet potatoes) eaten at times other than post workout, can pretty easily bring my blood glucose into diabetic ranges. I’ve known this on a subjective level for more than 20 years. Certain carb sources and particularly undo amounts of the same, will make me feel like complete hell. Using this testing I had the ability to see my blood glucose in “real time” as it was measured once per minute and I could record how I felt at these various BG levels. At high blood glucose (above about 120ng/dl) I feel like mierda. Alpha, Omega, done. I had some questions about this on social media and a few folks asked if perhaps I have physiological insulin resistance due to eating lowish carb. That’s a good question but in an effort to avoid just that problem I ate an uncomfortable amount of carbs in the two weeks leading up to this gig. I reduced fat, upped carbs and felt like poo, so I don’t think physiological insulin resistance was a factor. I think i just do better on a bit lower carb level. All in all, I’ve found a pretty good sweet spot with regards to carb amount and timing. My cognition is good, both my high and low intensity efforts are motoring along and I just “feel good.” This may be both a profound insight and a huge “no duh” moment as this really boils down to:

1-Put the bulk of carbs in the pre and post workout periods.

2-Dose carbs appropriate to volume and intensity, while keeping total caloric load at a level that supports your goal, be that maintenance, leaning out or mass gain.

Holy Over Complication Bat Man! I do feel like a bit of an idiot as I’m (theoretically) an “expert” on this stuff and the whole “take carbs around training” is about as basic as one can get but I try to console myself with the notion that if I did not spin out on this topic I’d likely live a life of crime. So, I’ve got that going for me. This is perhaps a good place to talk about a change I have tinkered with that bridges the gap between food and lifestyle and that is a meal delivered program called The GOOD Kitchen that I started using during my book writing and have continued to this day. I have historically prided myself on either cooking all my own food or just “toughing” things out by eating a can of sardines and some nuts. Well…the demands of kids, wife, dog, goats, chickens, book writing, being on the board of directors of a medical clinic…it’s been like a noose slowly tightening. I often times find myself either out of time (I did not cook or there are no left overs for me to take to work) or out of motivation (am I REALLY going to eat another can of sardines!?) Some days you just don’t want a $#@*&%$ can of sardines. So, at my wife’s suggestion (as I was getting damn cranky about all of this) I ordered a set of meals and prepared myself to eat something between cardboard and a “Hungry Man Frozen Dinner.” fortunately, I was really, pleasantly surprised. The GOOD Kitchen meals are not only amazingly tasty, their protein is grass fed, finished and pastured, and the veggies are organic. I keep a few of these in the freezer at my office and if I don’t have leftovers available, I put one of these in a microwave (has not killed me yet) and I have something that is better in both flavor and quality than almost anything I could get from a restaurant.

Lifestyle

One niggling feature of my existence which has negatively impacted my life is a long running low back injury. I have a disk bulge in the L4-L5 region that, if improperly managed, can lay me out for days. So long as I stay up on my mobility and trunk-work, things are pretty good, but if I get “too busy” and sit too often, neglect my mobility, particularly my hip flexors, I am begging for problems. When I was wrapping up the editing for Wired To Eat  I found myself in a situation in which I convinced myself I was “too busy” to stay on top of my mobility. A jiujitsu class got my back irritated. A sneeze (really) dropped me like I’d been tasered. A friend of mine here in Reno, Carolyn Dolan  heard that I was laid up and offered to help. Carolyn is a DPT who is also certified in the Mckenzie Method of back assessment and rehab. I’ve tried just about everything from PRI to crystals and moonstones, so I was not overly optimistic about this whole process. Well, after a thorough movement screen Carolyn suggested a sequence of simple movements which provided almost immediate relief. It’s been a process, but so long as I stay on top of my symptoms, and really work on the exercises that help to (in theory) pull my bulging disk back into place, I do pretty damn well. Sitting too much can still be a problem. Working too much closed guard with 240lb guys can get me into trouble. But now I am paying much better attention to the low level symptoms and just staying religious about my corrective exercises. ALSO. If I am feeling a bit “fragile” I don’t roll, or if I do I pick my partners carefully and I work on things I know will not irritate my back. I’m hoping to get Carolyn on the podcast soon to delve into all of this, but I wanted to mention all this as I know many folks suffer from low back pain and the Mckenzie method might be a good option. It is also a bit of personal accountability putting this “out there” as I’m now on the hook to practice what I preach and not make excuses. There is rarely a compelling enough work deadline that justifies me neglecting my back and ending up in serious pain and disability for days on end. That is clearly NOT playing to my desire to live a functional, strong healthy life. As an additional piece of that accountability story here is a recent pic I did at the globo gym I go to:

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There are bigger, stronger, leaner people everywhere I turn, but I’m pretty happy both with my performance and aesthetics. Circling back to my introduction, I do not FEEL old. I need to watch what I eat, mind how I train and not go overboard, but I am not aging like my parents did. Aging sucks, but I suspect there are much less pleasant ways to go about it relative to what I am experiencing.

 

Thank you for letting me indulge in a bit self accountability and I hope you find these updates helpful. If you have not heard yet, my second book, Wired To Eat is now available for pre-order wherever books are sold and will be released on March 21. Please keep me updated on YOUR progress and as always, I’m here to help if you have questions.

Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf

 

 

 

Affiliate note: many of these links in this post are affiliate links so if you purchase any of these items through the links on this page, I may make a small commission. You will pay the same price for all products and services, and your purchase helps keep RobbWolf.com running. Please know that I only link to products I personally use and support.



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30-Day Challenge Analysis Part 2: Abusing The System – How We Screw Up The Process & Ourselves

 

We’re human and let’s face it, we are REALLY good at f#%@-ing things up. It doesn’t matter what it is, someone, somewhere is going to figure out a way to make it a complete FAIL. 30-day challenges/transformations are no exception to this ‘fail phenomenon’. Yeah, we’ve figured out a way to take something that’s meant to change health and lives for the better and basically turned it into something about as useful as a “Thighmaster” – I don’t care what Suzanne Somers says. It’s hard to say how things got so out of control, but they did, and its escalated past the point of isolated individual fails to large groups all ‘failing’ at the same time.

What am I talking about? (As if I wasn’t going to tell you…) We talked about the general pros and cons of 30-day challenges in Part 1 of this series, so if you somehow managed to sleep through that post, I would highly recommend reading it before you proceed here – you know, background information. Always helpful, always. For those of you that are up to speed, let’s talk about the ways we screw up both the 30-day challenge process and ourselves at the same time.

The Goofed-up Group/Gym Challenge

First I’m going to call out all the gyms that run these ‘Paleo’, ‘Whole-30’, ‘Body Transformation’, etc. challenges. Most of these 30-day throw downs start with an initial assessment, which basically means the participant/victim gets weighed, body comped and measured. They are then given a list of food and/or exercise rules and set free for 30 days. At the end of “30 days of Hell” (Seriously, I’ve had a client refer to it as exactly that. I can’t make this shit up.), they are once again subjected to the scale, calipers and tape measure to see how they did. I’ve even seen some gyms that have folks record all of their food/exercise in a shared Google doc and then they award and deduct points based on the contest “rules”.  All that may leave you wondering why anyone would willingly sign-up for a “month of misery” (phrase used by aforementioned client…) and the answer to that question – there’s money involved (and glory too, of course). Yeah, folks PAY to play, and a portion of what they invest goes into a pot that, when it’s all said and done, the winner takes home. In the words of Jerry MacGuire, “Show Me The Money!”

Where these contests and challenges fail (and I mean BIG TIME BOMB…) is that most provide little to no instruction, education, support, or direction about how to go about this transformation process in a healthy, sustainable, habits for life kind of way. It’s basically 30 days of “I hate my life, but there’s money and I want to see my abs…” So, you gut it out and maybe you find your abs during the last week of the thing – but come day 31, you ‘refuel’ by eating enough to feed a family of four with two teenaged boys. And by the end of the week, those 6-pack abs you had more closely resemble a pony keg…

Another fairly common practice in the 30-day gym challenge circuit is the ‘pre-contest prep’. This basically means, you stack the deck in your favor going into the contest by GORGING yourself for several days prior to the initial measurements being taken. Can you say water retention, food babies, and skewed data?? Yeah, CHEATING. It’s not only unfair, but it’s unhealthy and STUPID. A few words of advice: DON’T BE AN IDIOT! That advice applies to both gym owners/coaches and to all eligible participants. One more time – everyone together: DON’T BE AN IDIOT!

Messing up the “I’m doing this for me.” Challenge/Transformation

This part is for everyone out there that’s laughing and saying to themselves, “I would never do one of those stupid group challenges. I’m doing this for me.” While your intent may seem superior to that of “Group Challenge Greg”, don’t fool yourself. You’re not above falling victim to the f#%@-upedness that these 30-day transformations can become. Oh no, we’re equal opportunity idiots “up in this humpy bumpy” – no one is exempt, no one (and yes, that includes you…). In the event you’re having a hard time following me, I’m going to go ahead and elaborate (surprise, surprise…).

You’re fired up. Seriously, READY. TO. GO. You’ve completely cleaned out your cabinets and refrigerator. There’s not a food in your house that didn’t or can’t live, rot, grow, and/or die. That’s right, hardcore – only REAL food for 30-days. You’ve done your first week of meal prep and your slow cooker has just seen more action than a bed in a pay-by-the-hour motel. You are set and this is gonna be awesome. The End.

You fly through that first week with your pre-packed Tupperware breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. You’re thinking – “That was a cinch, like total cakewalk (well, maybe not cake…). There’s no way you’re turning back. You’re feeling good and it was SO EASY. Then the weekend hits and your friends are like, “Hey, let’s go out for dinner and/or drinks”, and you’re all, “Sure, let’s hit the same place we did last week.” Conversation ends. And then it hits you – there will be no drinks and the food situation is going to be tough to swing too. No burger and fries for you. So, you make up some excuse as to why you can’t go and dodge that bullet for this week. You’re okay with it because you’ve got some serious grocery shopping and meal prep plans anyway.

Well, somehow the weekend gets a little busier than you’d planned and the only meal prep you manage is to boil a dozen eggs. Come Monday morning, you’ve got nothing for the week but 12 sad, lonely boiled eggs and a couple cans of tuna. To say the next week is gonna be rough would be an understatement. There’s probably going to be a lot of salad, a lot of tuna and a lot of no fun. And by the end of the week you’re likely going to be pretty much over it. It’s at this point that you start to realize that this “life changing” stuff is a lot of work, and it’s not just a matter of revamping your eating habits, but it’s like your entire lifestyle. It’s possible that the next few weeks go a little better. You probably manage to do the meal planning and prep because there’s no way that you’re going to subject yourself to another week of living off of eggs, tuna, and salad. But when day 25 rolls around you’re starting to think about all the food you get to eat on day 31… Binge planning, yeah, that’s healthy…

If you’re not planning your ultimate destruction, you’re likely contemplating what exactly life is supposed to look like when this whole 30-day thing is over. Where do you go from here? Is there a place for your old favorites, or do you need to keep it hardcore ‘clean’ for the rest of your life? I mean, sure, you feel better, but for the past month your world has pretty much revolved around food, and we won’t even talk about your social life – mostly because you didn’t have one… How the heck are you supposed to make your new habits part of a normal life? Is that even a thing? The end is coming FAST and you’ve got ZERO idea and no plan for what needs to happen on day 31 to keep this going. Sure, you’ve learned a lot about food and how it makes you feel over the past 30 days. You’re fairly certain that you don’t want to go back to what you were doing before but, ultimately, this all-or-nothing approach isn’t going to work forever. There’s got to be a balance.

So, day 31 comes and some of you completely give up the ship – back to Burger King and frozen pizza with an occasional salad thrown in for good measure. I mean, hey, you did learn a little something, and Ranch dressing is awesome, right??? #facepalm. Same habits, just 30 days later. The rest of you slowly start adding a few things back to “test the waters” – but soon, you find that you’re pretty much right back to where you were before you “Whole30’ed” to health. You’re not really sure how you got back to that point, but you’re already planning your next 30-day elimination to get back on track – and the cycle begins. Sure, there are some folks that find their happy balance – and if you’re one of them, that’s freaking awesome BUT keep in mind, you are the minority.

Ultimately, the sudden onset and rule-based restriction of these ‘life changing’ 30-day challenges/transformations and of any and all ‘diets’ make it incredibly easy (and likely) for us to slip back into old patterns. It’s a cold turkey approach to eating – one day (usually day 1 of the ‘challenge’), you just stop eating the foods that used to be your go-to and/or favorite options. In a lot of cases this is a recipe for failure – there’s no instruction or guidance as to how to incorporate your new habits into your life for the long haul and let’s be real, complete avoidance and restriction FOREVER is not an option for pretty much all of us. Seriously, life without ever being able to have pizza, ice cream, or a drink – JUST WHY???

If you go into your ‘detox’ with the mindset that you’re only in for 30 days and then it’s back to business as usual until the ‘next round’ – you’re doing it wrong. But alternately, if you go in with the idea that the rest of your life needs to be one of complete “against the rules food” abstinence – you’re doing it wrong too. Ultimately, to make this work for the long haul your priorities need to change and it’s going to take commitment. But you’ve got the strike a balance that works for you, your life and both your physical and mental health. You’ve got to have a plan for what life looks like after day 30 and if you don’t you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

So now that you are well versed on the pros and cons of 30 day challenges (Part 1) and you have some pretty good ideas on how you can screw them up (this post), in the next nail-biting installment of this series we’ll talk about how to get these things right and quite possibly, ‘change your life’ – for real.

Coming soon – The Grand Finale:

30-Day Challenge Analysis Part 3: Changing Your Life For Real – Let’s Do This Right



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What’s Wrong with the “Best Diets”?

Hand with a white pencil writing: Rank blank listEvery year, it’s the same thing: U.S. News and World Report ranks 38 of the most popular diets from best to worst. And every single time, the paleo diet—or some variant, in this case the Whole30 plan—comes in dead last. I’ve written about this before. You know my stance. You know how silly the whole thing is, and why you shouldn’t care about a ranking, especially when you’ve transformed your health eating the “worst diet in the world.”

Frankly, I’m skeptical these reports have much impact anymore.

But I got another barrage of emails about the rankings, so I’m going to address them. Instead of defending ancestral eating, which I’ve already done plenty of times before, I’ll scrutinize the two so-called “best diets.” The pair that wallop paleo and Whole30. The ones you’d apparently be fools not to adopt.

The most ironic part of all this is their descriptions of the “best diets” have the least citations supporting their ranking. In bashing paleo, they had to acknowledge five studies and clinical trials that found the diet works, inserting weasel words like “one tiny study” and parentheticals like “even the scientists called their study ‘underpowered'” to diminish the impact. To boot, several of the studies show that paleo compares favorably to the Mediterranean diet (number 2 overall) and DASH diet (number 1 overall).

The DASH diet

DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, and that’s exactly what it sets out to do: reduce blood pressure. It does this by reducing sodium and increasing intake of foods high in potassium, calcium, fiber, and protein.

As U.S. News and World Reports puts it, “just emphasize the foods you’ve always been told to eat,” like lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Isn’t that what people have been trying to do for the last 60 years amid our growing and seemingly unending obesity epidemic?

You could do worse, if you can actually stick to a low-flavor (no salt?) diet like that. But you’d do a lot better if you did high-fat dairy, meat both fat and lean, and other sources of carbs besides whole grains without missing anything. Sounds familiar somehow.

They even did a study looking at this. Patients were randomized to eat either a high-fat DASH diet or a low-fat DASH diet. Both versions improved hypertension, but only the high-fat DASH diet improved triglycerides, increased LDL particle size (which, all else being equal, means reduced particle number), and lowered VLDL.

The Mediterranean diet

I have no beef with the Mediterranean diet, except having to type “Mediterranean” over and over again. Is it two Rs, two Ns? I never remember.

Mediterranean diets emphasize monounsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts, seafood, cheese, vegetables, legumes, red wine, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. Except for the last two, it’s quite familiar. It’s not explicitly low-fat, and is usually higher-fat than most conventional diet plans.

You wouldn’t know it from the ranking report, but there’s something called the low-carb or ketogenic Mediterranean diet. To make a Mediterranean diet low-carb or ketogenic, you ditch the grains and legumes and increase the seafood, olive oil, and veggies. And guess what? It works really well. Low-carb Mediterranean diets consistently outperform higher-carb Mediterranean diets, improving fatty liver, treating metabolic syndromeincreasing weight loss without damaging blood lipids, and dropping waist circumference.

Anyway, it’s a decent way to eat. But it’s a better way to live. And that’s the thing: the importance of lifestyle, exercise, and community is baked into the Primal Blueprint. Half the articles on here have nothing to do with diet at all. Meanwhile, popular advice about the Mediterranean “diet” focuses on the whole grains and the olive oil and the beans and the supposed lack of red meat, yet totally ignores everything else that makes the Mediterranean home to a disproportionate number of centenarians:

Periodic fasting: A major religion in the region, Orthodox Christianity, prescribes regular fasting. Some researchers even consider Orthodox fasting an integral part of the classic Cretan diet.

Low stress: One study even examined the effects of Mediterranean eating in the context of high stress, finding stressed-out women had negative metabolic responses to a Mediterranean meal.

Socializing: They’re not cramming food in front of the television or on the commute. They’re sitting down to a leisurely meal with friends and family. They’re savoring the food and enjoying the company.

Physical activity: Zorba the Crossfitter? No. Constant low-level physical activity is the norm, though.

U.S. News and World Reports say almost nothing about the various lifestyle components integral to the real Mediterranean diet, though they do recommend Jazzercise.

If you read the reviews of each diet closely, it sounds quite positive. Both diets emphasize whole foods. Both diets are “hard to follow,” just like paleo and Whole30. It’s difficult to eat out on DASH and Mediterranean and paleo/Whole30, according to the report. They both promote satiety and weight loss; so does paleo. I’m just reporting back what U.S. News said, mind you. I’m not extrapolating. If you took away the number rankings, it actually sounds like they’re fans of paleo eating.

There’s nothing horribly amiss with the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet. I just don’t see how they score so high and paleo/Whole30 so low, especially when we see how Mediterranean/DASH diet studies that test more “paleo-esque” versions of the diets get better results than the standard versions themselves. Well, I mean, I do, but you know what I mean.

What do you think, folks? Do paleo and Whole 30 deserve such terrible rankings? Are the rankings justified by the text? Are the Mediterranean and DASH diets clearly superior to everything else? Those of you who have tried other diets, what would your rankings look like?

Thanks for reading. Be well.

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My Favorite Organic Non-GMO Snacks and Party Food!

I know many of you may be heading to Super Bowl parties this weekend where traditional Doritos, Lays and Ruffles are being served but you don’t have to eat those dirty processed chemical filled GMO snacks! There are an incredible amount of … Continued

The post My Favorite Organic Non-GMO Snacks and Party Food! appeared first on Food Babe.



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3 Immunity Boosters to Add to Meals

Cold and flu season is tough, and you may need help to make it through unscathed. Whether you’re hunkered down on the couch with a case of the sniffles, or just trying to avoid any sick days, these easy ways to add immunity boosters to your meals may help keep you healthy.

Turmeric

Long part of Eastern medicine traditions, this spice contains a component called curcumin which can help decrease inflammation. This antioxidant may help soothe inflammation caused by symptoms like sore throat and stuffy nose. Spoonfuls of turmeric may also help shorten the length of a cold by bolstering the immune system.

If you can find fresh turmeric root (similar to ginger root) in a store’s produce department, snatch it up. As with most foods, the whole plant contains the most potent components, but the dry, powdered spice is a powerful alternative. Add turmeric to a wide variety of drinks and dishes: your morning mango smoothie, cinnamon oatmeal with raisins, chicken noodle soup or cooked greens will all benefit from the flavor of this vibrant orange spice. Roasted vegetables or orange vegetables pair perfectly with turmeric. It’s an ingredient in most curries and also adds warm, earthly flavors to eggs and fish.

Sardines

Yes, really. This sustainable fish packs loads of healthy omega-3 fats (1100-1600 mg per serving) into its small size. These EPA and DHA fats may help decrease inflammation during colds. Sardines also contain the nutrient selenium which is essential for immunity. And a single serving of sardines contains over 27% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D, another immunity booster.

Look for trendy tins of sardines in the canned seafood aisle. Sardines taste similar to light tuna with a touch more salt. Add fork-mashed sardines to almost any dish in place of salt. They meld deliciously into red pasta sauces. Hearty soups and stews are a good match for the salty flavor of sardines. And don’t forget the old-school sardine sandwich, served open-faced on dark rye; it’s a perfect way to embrace the rising food trend of Scandinavian eats.

Frozen berries

A one-cup serving of frozen red raspberries contains 60% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. This antioxidant helps quench damaging free radicals produced when flu viruses invade the body; it is key in supporting the immune system. Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, berry expert and director of the Center for Nutrition Research at Illinois Institute of Technology explains that blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are rich sources a variety of bioactives including anthocyanins and other flavonoid compounds, as well as essential oils and antimicrobials which support a healthy immune system in a variety of ways.

Frozen berries are picked and flash frozen at the peak of ripeness and nutrition, thus frozen berries are an excellent way to get the most nutrients from your berries. Top oatmeal and yogurt parfaits with berries. Berries and flavored vinegar are delicious partners in sauces like in Raspberry Chicken or a green salad.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a food writer and registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing tips and tricks to help families find healthy living shortcuts. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Snapchat.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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Paint Nite Date Nite

This post is sponsored by Paint Nite

Last Friday night, Thomas and I had the chance to attend a really fun Paint Nite event right here in Charlottesville. Paint Nite hosts events all over the country (at more than 3,500+ locations in 1,500+ cities) and they are held at local bars and restaurants so you can order drinks or food while you paint. Our event was held at Keglers Lane bowling alley in its private room.

Paint Nite can organize private events too, so check out the website for more information on that. When you search for events in your area, you’ll get a preview for the painting that will be the model for each night, so you can see what you’ll be painting ahead of time.

My grandmother was a talented painter, but I didn’t inherit those genes from her. I’ve been told in a nice way my whole life: “You’re good at abstract art.” Haha – in other words, my trees never look like real trees. So I was a little nervous to take a stab at such a realistic painting. No experience is necessary though, and all supplies are included in your ticket price (which was $45 for my event). A little beer helped ease the nerves!

This is our host, Heather, who is two parts amazing artist and one part stand-up comic! She was hilarious and had us all laughing at her jokes.

And she definitely made me feel very comfortable by reassuring us that Paint Nite is not a formal art class, but just a chance to have fun putting paint all over a blank canvas with your partner or friends.

So with brushes in hand, we began.

Looks kinda like the German flag, huh?!

When I got to the snow, Heather came around and said to me: “You keep a very tidy car, don’t you?” She could tell I was an organized type A just by my painting style, because I kept messing with the blues in the snow to try to get them perfect. “Just let go and relax,” she told me, and I had to remind myself several times to put down the brush already! 

We were all very focused on Heather’s tips, but it was fun to see personalities come out on canvas too. Thomas and I hadn’t done anything artistic together before, so it was a first to let creativity flow. I loved comparing the subtle differences in our visions. We had so much fun at Paint Nite that we want to do another one! This would make a great gift experience for a couple, as Paint Nite has gift cards available for sale on its website too.

Surprisingly, the trees were my favorite part to paint. And it was fun to look around the room and see how different everyone’s version of the same painting turned out. Some people really veered off the path (which was encouraged if you felt like it!)

And our finished work…

His:

Hers:

I have a special code for you guys to get 35% off any Paint Nite event through to the end of the year! Just use the promo code KATHEATS at paintnite.com anywhere in the U.S.A.

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