Monday, February 5, 2018

I’ll Still Eat Donuts, But…

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve fallen head first into a GMO rabbit hole. It all started with this episode from the “Healthy Moms Podcast” by the Wellness Mama:

Wellness mama podcast gmo

GMOs? Glyphosate? Organic foods? What’s making our children sick? Whoa. Its title definitely caught my attention, and the episode was so interesting. The main topic: What the Research Says About Glyphosate… And Why It Might Be Ruining Our Kids’ Health. Eek. Katie (“Wellness Mama”) interviews Michelle Perro, MD and Vincanne Adams, PhD, who she describes as the “dream team” on the topic of industrialized food and how it may be connected to chronic childhood illness. Again, eek. Michelle is a pediatrician with over 35 years of experience in acute integrative medicine. Vincanne is professor and vice chair of medical anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco, and editor of the Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Basically, they’re well-educated and have lots of experience.

Here’s a little overview of the episode and what it covers:

  • the troubling trends Michelle started to observe in her patients … and what she did about it
  • why Vincanne agreed to get on board (even though she was a skeptic at first)
  • the rising rates of chronic childhood illnesses like constipation, food allergies, seasonal allergies, ADHD, asthma, autism (and the list goes on – they specifically mention IBD in kids)
  • how glyphosate works, what it’s made of, and why farmers use it
  • why crossbreeding hybrid plants is NOT the same thing as genetic modification
  • how asthma, allergies and eczema are rising at drastic rates (as much as 40% of children may be affected)
  • 3 reasons glyphosate may be a serious problem (and what the most recent research is finding)
  • whether or not organic food is actually worth the extra money
  • practical things that we can do to change the food future and protect our kids (and the environment!)
    and more

The episode was super eye-opening and the catalyst for my recent obsession. I mean, that’s what I do. If it’s related to autoimmune disease/IBD, I want to know ALL about it, especially since I am always trying to “fix myself“, and I’m constantly worried about Quinn’s susceptibility to IBD or another autoimmune diseases.

Glyphosate Autoimmune disease

Then, I watched a documentary called GMO OMG, which is nearly 5 years old. (FYI: I watched it on Amazon Prime.) It’s crazy that I hadn’t even heard of it until now. Maybe I just didn’t care about GMOs? Maybe I just live under a rock? The film is super one-sided (anti-GMOS), but interesting (and cute) at the same time. It definitely makes you think twice about what you’re feeding your family. Speaking of which…

This blog post isn’t to declare our family a GMO-free household, but we’re definitely more aware of what we’re buying and putting into our bodies. Mal actually teaches his students about GMOs, so he already knew a lot about them and we’ve had a ton of conversations lately. For our family, it’s not realistic to eat GMO-free ALL the time. We still want to enjoy our Saturday donuts, go out to dinner, and eat “Scooby Snacks” aka Pringles from time-to-time. But, knowing what we know now, we will make our best effort to choose non-GMO when we can.

We actually went shopping at Whole Foods this past weekend because I’m not sure what to think about Trader Joe’s even though they claim to be GMO-free. Anyone know details? Again, this is not to say we’ll never shop at Trader Joe’s again (that place is awesome), but we like that Whole Foods has so many verified GMO-free options. In fact, my old roommate, who works for Whole Foods Corporate, chimed in on one of my recent Instagram posts to share that WFM Exclusive Brands (365 and Whole Foods-branded items) has committed to NOT carrying ANY items that contain the “product contains GMOs” statement by September of this year. They’ve cleaned up nearly 95% of their SKUs. Very cool. When we shopped there this weekend, it was easy to find GMO-free options – and when we couldn’t, we opted for USDA-certified organic, BUT organic doesn’t always mean GMO-free and ‘Non-GMO’ Does Not Mean Organic. I know, our food system is a hot mess, but you just need to do the best you can.

Also, just wanted to add, because it’s important, that our grocery bill wasn’t THAT much more expensive shopping at Whole Foods. We meal planned, shopped sales, bought in bulk when we could, and used the WFM app for coupons, so we didn’t totally break the bank.

Ok, well, this post is getting a little ramble-y, but, hey, I’m just writing and sharing the info I’ve discovered so far. I’m not saying I’m an expect in the subject of GMOs (at all), but so much of what I’ve learned is quite eye-opening. I’m basically just sharing what I would tell one of my friends if they wanted to know about GMOs.

Unrelated side note: One of my goals for the next 10 years of CNC is to share with you guys like I did back in the day. I use to just write whatever was on my mind, and I wasn’t afraid to say what I wanted. At some point (right after I had Quinn), I stopped feeling comfortable sharing my life and thoughts. The “perfect parents” came out of the woodwork, and, boy, were they angry with how I was caring for my baby. And when you’re struggling as a new mom, the last thing you need is strangers bringing you down and telling you that you’re a terrible mother.

Soooooo, ya, that was a total tangent. Obviously, it’s been on my mind as I look forward to what’s next for CNC. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching in both my personal and work life lately. I dunno… I’m still figuring it all out, but I guess I’ve grown a thicker skin, and I’m ready to let down my guard and share my life again.

Back to the GMO stuff…

On Saturday night, Mal, Quinn, and I had some fun with a Cheerio box. FYI: Plain Cheerios are GMO-free! 🙂 Our friends at General Mills sent us all of the supplies needed to make a cool Wheel & Axle Truck, inspired by Rube Goldberg‘s inventions/cartoons. General Mills also sent us Rube Goldberg’s Simple Normal Humdrum School Day book, and Quinn is now obsessed with it. It’s super cute and shows start-to-finish inventions and how they work. We always joke that Quinn is going to be some sort of engineer when he grows up based on his current interests, so this book was right up his alley!

As part of General Mills’ partnership with the 30th anniversary of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, new boxes of Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp, Lucky Charms and Reese’s Puffs include easy-to-follow instructions to transform the packaging into Rube Goldberg-inspired simple machines. They bring S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts to life using everyday household items like straws, paper clips, pencils and tape. General Mills is also giving away $20,000 scholarships to 20 winners of our cereal box machine sweepstakes. For official rules, visit RubeCerealMachines.com. We are going to enter! 🙂

Fun little story about Quinn’s Cheerio truck… Mal and I helped him put the finishing touches on the axles/wheels. When Quinn saw the final product, he immediately cut off one of the wheels! Haha! I guess a 3-wheel truck was more his style. Actually, he was just REALLY into his new scissors, which were big kid scissors and actually cut things – unlike those weird safety ones that just wrinkle paper.

After completing our truck project, I got Qman ready for bed. Mal headed out for a guys’ night, so I spent the evening reading Foreign Invaders: An Autoimmune Disease Journey through Monsanto’s World of Genetically Modified (GM) Food (free on Kindle). It was so good, and I blew through it in just a couple of hours. It makes a strong case for avoiding GMOs if you have an autoimmune disease. Further reading: How To Avoid GMOs.

Foreign invaders Autoimmune Monsanto

Ok, so I’ve just spewed so much information at your guys about GMOs. Obviously, I am anti-GMO, but I wanted to share some of the pro-GMO resources that have been passed along to me by CNC followers. They include lots of valid points – and not ALL GMOs are bad (i.e. Golden Rice, Hawaiian papaya).

At the end of the day, it’s really up to you to do your own research and make decisions for yourself and your family. I’ll continue to share what I know and discover, but I hope you take a look into both sides of what GMOs are all about. They’re a super interesting topic and new information/research/data comes out every day, so this space will most definitely continue to change and evolve. It’s exciting, and I’m curious to see what comes next.

Question of the Day

GMOs: What do you know? What are your thoughts? Do you avoid them? Do you care? 

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Dear Mark: Women and Violence, Reducing Extra Wine, High Intensity Interval Resting, Phosphatidylserine and Mental Stress, Rethinking Stress

Dear_Mark_Inline_PhotoFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering five questions from readers. First up, do my recommendations regarding violence and martial arts in last week’s “wildness post” also apply to women? Second, what else can you do with leftover wine? Next, how do I approach my rest and work cycles? Fourth, is phosphatidylserine good for mental stress or just physical stress? And last, does changing how we interpret or react to stress change its effects?

Let’s go:

This post seemed mostly centered on men given they need more outlets for their violent/wild side. Do you think this pertains to women as well?

The post was definitely geared toward everyone—men and women, boys and girls, grandpas and grandmas. Everyone can benefit from climbing trees, creating a little more and consuming a little less, eliminating disorder in their home environment, and finding a tribe. I’d also argue that everyone can benefit from trying a martial art.

However, in general, men appear to have a higher appetite or “need” for violence.

It’s definitely true that most violent criminals are men, most homicides are committed by men (and most victims are men, too), and the average man has a higher predilection for violence than the average woman. There’s no getting around the hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary pressure selecting for violence and aggression. It’s why in general men carry more muscle mass and physical strength than women—so they can throw harder punches and heavier spears.

But evolution didn’t select for murderous aggression. It selected for controlled aggression. For potential aggression. The ideal hunter or warrior is one who can mete out damage to others when required but avoids conflict when not. Someone who can protect their family and play with the baby.

Women may be less likely to have that predilection. Sure, the average woman is less interested in learning how to fight than the average man, but there are millions of outliers (in both sexes). Millions of women are interested in martial arts, and they should pursue that interest. I’d even argue that women who don’t think they’re into martial arts should give it a shot. They might be pleasantly surprised. Keep in mind, too, that it’s a physical art as well as a defense method.

The same goes for men, of course. If martial arts doesn’t interest you, it doesn’t interest you. But give it a shot before giving up.

Freezing wine. That is an amazing suggestion!

Another cool thing to do with leftover (or newly-opened—your choice) wine is to reduce it down to a few ounces and then freeze or store for later use. All the alcohol boils off and you can inundate a dish with intense wine flavors without needing to reduce the liquid so much.

Erin asked:

Should we concentrate on shoe-horning in anti-stress time every day, or can we get similar benefits from taking a “real” day off?

To me, there’s something to be said for treating your on and off days like you do your training.

On some projects, I dip in and out of work mode. I’ll work a few hours a day, get a hike in, maybe some paddling, and hop back on for a few more hours. This is how I do most blog posts and shorter-form writing.

Other projects require intense dedication, protracted focus. Deep work with long, infrequent breaks. I go hard and long. I’ll work for several days straight, then take a full day off—and I mean “off.” This is how I handle book and product launches.

It really depends on my intuition. I listen to my body. If I feel guilty about resting, I probably didn’t work hard enough. If I can flop down on the couch and watch Netflix without feeling an ounce of guilt, I probably need the time off. This assumes you’re in tune with your body and mind. I am—finally, after all these years!

Greg Harrington asked:

Does Phosphatidylserine help with mental-related stress? (i.e. stress about work, finances, relationships, etc.)

Yes. Several studies in humans show that PS helps in this area.

The stuff is legit.

I’d like to know more about how the effects of stress are modified by how we think about or perceive stress.

Great insight. Our perception of stress is almost everything.

Try this:

Instead of worrying about your sweaty palms, pounding heart, anxiety, and nervous flutter in the stomach…

Embrace the fact that your body is increasing heart rate to boost blood flow and deliver more nutrients to your organs and tissues in preparation for the event. It’s prepping you physiologically and psychologically. It’s pumping you up. That flutter in the stomach? It’s so you don’t eat anything and divert energy toward digestion and away from focusing on your performance. That tunnel vision? It’s honing your attention to the matter at hand. Rapid breathing? That’s more oxygen for your brain. Your anxiety? You’re just being careful, paying attention to details, leaving nothing to chance.

I’m not making this up, either. There are empirical studies that show rethinking stress can change how it affects you psychologically and physiologically.

We sweat to alert others (via smell) to the stressful situation. Strength in numbers.

If you can rethink your approach to stress, you will benefit. People who think of the stress response as beneficial do not experience increased mortality due to stress.

When people learn to think of the stress response as psychological and physiological “preparedness,” many of the negative effects normally associated with stress vanish or are modified to be helpful. Their pulse rate quickens (normal), but their blood vessels expand rather than constrict. They have increased attentional bias (normal), but instead of focusing on the stress, they focus on the task at hand.

It’s not a simple matter to truly believe that the stress response is beneficial. You can’t snap your fingers and switch to a new mode of interpretation. But know that it’s not BS. That it increases preparedness for difficult tasks is the evolutionary reason why the stress response that arose arose. The stress response is adaptive. Know that, keep reminding yourself of that, and one day it’ll stick. Good luck.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care, leave your comments and input  and questions down below, and have a great week!

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Primal Reflection: Make a Transition Plan

Inline_Live-Awesome-645x445-03Having turned the calendar to February, it’s a good time to take stock. How did January go—and what do you want February to look like? What successful changes are you bringing away from the first month of 2018? More energy? A renewed optimism about your health? A new waist measurement? A more impressive mile time or VO2 max? A heftier deadlift max? Better sleep? Better confidence?

I hope you’ll share your successes (and your stumbling blocks) along the way. What worked for you? What didn’t? Did you follow the Action Items? What was most instrumental in the successes you experienced? And how will you carry it all over into this month? What will you do differently? What new supports will help you move through this next phase? No matter how dramatic or mixed the results, there’s so much to be gained from revisiting the overall venture. Reflection is an essential part of the process.

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Let’s Hop On A Plane!

I wasn’t kidding when I wrote this post and said we had no plans to travel south this winter. But you know how in the movies they always say “Lets hop on a plane this weekend!” and end up somewhere exciting a few days later? That totally happened to us. We found the cheapest tickets to the warmest spot in the USA and booked a two-night getaway to Fort Lauderdale. We left at 5am on Thursday, which had us in Florida by 9:30am, and came home late Saturday night, so we really maximized our time away with a minimal night stay.

I consulted with Sarah Struckmann, who used to live in the area, on a hotel that would be nice and on the beach and she said “Hands down, the W Hotel!” Little did I know that the Bachelor episode that week would feature same hotel! That made it extra exciting when we arrived. Recognize the lobby from their cocktail party?!

The hotel was super swanky from top to bottom. I’d definitely recommend it!

We were lucky to get into our room early, and had incredible views. And the world’s biggest balcony!

We changed into our bathing suits and went straight to the pool for lunch. (We were starving having been up since 3:45am!)

Check out the stairway that is like an aquarium for humans!

We ordered a hummus plate, which was SO good, a quinoa and shrimp salad, and a summer roll. All was delicious!

Later that afternoon we went for a walk, and explored the area a bit.

We got dressed up for dinner – thanks to so many of you who commented on this Instagram post with sweet words and great recommendations!

How handsome is he?!

We settled on Casablanca for dinner, which had a lovely outdoor space and was packed, a good sign it was the place to go!

Our dinner was incredible, and it was lovely to eat in the open air despite getting a little breezy and chilly when the sun set. We had smokey bacon mussels to start.

And I had a wonderful blackened snapper with rice, coconut, avocado, and a curry sauce. Delicious!!

We went back to the hotel but it was too early to settle in for the night, so we stopped into the hotel restaurant to check out the dessert menu. This chocolate lava pot was amazing, with salted caramel iced cream and ganache! I went to bed waaaay too full!

To be continued…

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The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do

Good morning! Here’s a little Monday Motivation for ya! 🙂

So, I’ve been thinking about motivation lately. Check out the video below.

What are your thoughts on willpower? Anything that has helped and/or changed your thinking or habits? 

The quote below is EVERYTHING; it’s constant motivation for how I live my life:

Lifestyle changes are all about what you do day in and day out, day after day. If you strive to better yourself, you have to change your habits and what you DO on a daily basis. Think about who you want to be and what you need to do to get there. Hell, even make a list! Then, make it happen. NO EXCUSES!

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