neck pain relief with one simple stretch

lat stretch 1

Neck pain is awful! I sit a lot and end up with lower back aches, and neck tension. These lat (latissimus dorsi: the largest muscle in the back) stretches are very easy to do, and alleviated my neck pain in just one week. I do these stretches three times a day, and will continue to keep doing them because my lats are really tight.

lat stretch 2These are the stretches that I’ve been doing. I gently, and slowly, move in and out of the stretch in all different directions.

 

lat stretch 3

 

 

The key is to keep the arm straight and pull gently; you should feel tension, but never pain.

 

 

 

why I don’t meal prep

meals for the week. Need to plan

Just because a lot of people meal prep, that doesn’t mean that’s the only way to lose weight. I don’t meal prep. In other words, I don’t cook my meals, and portion them out into small containers so that each one is a perfect-sized meal. The reasons why are that I don’t have enough Tupperware, that my husband might grab my boxed-up meal and I may grab his by mistake (we don’t eat the same amount of calories: I’d get fat and he’d waste away), and some days I may want more carbs or more protein than others.

The days that I’m very active, or the days I exercise my lower body, I eat a little more (especially carbs). On the days I’m less active, I’ll eat less (usually fewer carbs). For those days that I need extra energy, I’ll either eat more carbs, like sweet potatoes or oats, or more fat, like an ounce of slivered almonds and chopped walnuts dipped in almond butter. By boxing up perfect little meals, I don’t want to feel like I’m being bad if I’m eating extra because my body is giving me the proper signals to adjust my eating habits.

Even though I don’t put my meals in cute little containers, I do plan all my meals ahead a week in advance. My husband and I make 1-2 new meals each day, like chicken enchiladas and tilapia salad. We make large meals, usually 4-6 portions, so we have plenty of leftovers. I weigh my proteins so that each meal has a sufficient amount, and I do portion out my carbohydrates my using a measuring cup. For those meals that I cannot weigh or measure, like a stew, I just guess (usually a half a bowl for me and ¾ of a bowl for my husband).

These techniques that I use really help me lose or maintain my weight. It doesn’t work for everyone so I don’t tell my clients they have to do what I do, but I do ask that they try it for a little while to see if it helps them eat better and eat less calories (it usually does). Whatever method works for you, keep doing it!

 

Are you inadvertently eating arsenic?

water

Arsenic is a poison, and it is naturally occurring in the food we eat and drink. Too much arsenic is associated with cancer and death (1, 2). Since rice has a substantial amount of arsenic, I’ve reduced my rice consumption, or I’ll eat white rice instead of brown rice. By removing the outer kernel of brown rice, it lowers the amount of arsenic.

Arsenic is in practically everything we eat, but we can reduce the amount by making small changes such as eating apples instead of apple juice, eating oranges instead of orange juice, and buying drinking water that’s been filtered several times (2).

Bottle water can, and in some cases, has exceed the FDA’s maximum threshold for arsenic (1). I buy bottled water, but I also pour it through a water filter I have on my counter at home (I bought it at Bed, Bath & Beyond). By double-filtering my water, I’m reducing the amount of contaminants, not just arsenic. Buying the filters costs more, but my water tastes better, and I feel it’s a good investment in my health.

Sources:

  1. “Is Bottled Water Safe? CR study reveals it sometimes contains arsenic.” Consumer Reports: On Health. July 2019. Page 2. Print.

 

  1. “Arsenic in Food: FAQ. How arsenic gets into foods and what it means for you.” WebMD. December 2011. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/arsenic-food-faq#1

aspirin is not for everyone

heart health

Everyone over 40 was told to take baby aspirin daily, but aspirin increasing the risk of brain bleeding. Vincent Bufalino, M.D., cardiologist and spokesperson for the American Heart Association says that “if you don’t have heart disease, it’s (aspirin) not protective.”

Even over-the-counter drugs can cause serious harm, so ask your doctor about the side effects of all drugs you are taking, and do additional investigative work yourself. Keep in mind that some doctors will tell you to take medications to protect themselves as a liability, even though those prescriptions may make you sicker.

Source: “That Little White Pill” “Consumer Reports: On Health.” May 2019. Page 12. Print.

Steroids for pain? Don’t do it!

elbow pain

When my elbow started hurting I asked my doctor what I should do. He said a quick steroid injection would take care of the pain, but what started out with a little twinge here and there, ending up causing extreme shooting pain. Steroid injections may damage your joints and cartilage, per “…Joseph Herrera, D.O., chair of rehabilitation medicine at New York City’s Mount Sinai Healthy System.” I’m staying away from steroids from now on, and you may want re-think getting injections if you get them or are thinking about getting them.

Source: “How to Ease Joint Pain. Injections? Prescription drugs? What works and what doesn’t.” “Consumer Reports: On Health.” May 2019. Page 9. Print.

Photo from Word Swag

 

The ab exercise that flattens your belly

A woman at the gym came up to me and asked, “Would you tell me the one exercise that will make my belly flat?” I told her there is no one exercise that can do that. As a matter of fact, there are no exercises that are guaranteed to give someone a flat stomach. The only way to shrink belly fat is by reducing calories.

I have seen women who are very thin whose stomach’s have a little roll, but after they correct their posture with some corrective exercises, in addition to some abdominal exercises targeting the lower abs and obliques, it looks like they’ve lost 10 pounds even though their weight stayed the same.

P.S. Try this routine from AthleanX, without stopping, which will get your abs strong.

Two worst foods

stop eating cookies

Two of the worst foods, according to the movie “Diet Fiction” are sugar and saturated fat. If you’re eating sugary foods and unhealthy saturated fats, you’re increasing your chances of heart disease, cancer and a slow metabolism.

Saturated fat = high LDL cholesterol, that’s the bad kind. If your doctor says your LDL is high, he’ll want to put you on medication, which will lead to higher medical costs, and risks of other problems (side effects from the drug(s)).

Saturated Fatty Foods:

Butter increases Alzheimer’s disease risk by three times. It’s not healthy, stop eating it. Use olive oil instead, but reduce all oils, or eliminate them completely.

Coconut oil has 60% of its calories from saturated fats

Eggs have 20% of its calories from saturated fat. Remove the yolk if you want to eat eggs.

Meat is the 2nd worst of all saturated fats. Meat is the #1 food most associated with weight gain. The leanest red meat has at least 40% of its calories from saturated fat.

Dairy – You don’t need to eat dairy, that’s a myth pushed by the dairy industry; cheese is the 1st worst saturated fatty food.

Bacon – I don’t care if you are on a keto diet, bacon is not healthy! If you feel best on a ketogenic diet, try vegan keto with fats from dry-roasted almonds, chia seeds, and avocado.

Chicken – the leanest chicken breast meat has at least 30% of its calories from saturated fat

Wild salmon – the leanest has at least 20% of its calories from saturated fat

Tofu – 40% from saturated fat

Nuts – 80% from saturated fat

If you have high cholesterol, or it’s on the high side, you want to limit, or avoid foods that contain saturated fats. That may mean going on a vegan diet. Changing the way you eat is challenging, but it sure beats chemotherapy.

Source: Diet Fiction. Dir Michal Siewierski. 2019. Film. Amazon.

Photo: Sugar cookies made with butter are delicious, but they promote inflammation, induce insulin spikes and high blood sugar, cause weight gain, and cause you to crave sugary-processed foods the more you eat them. If you can’t survive without your sweet snacks, I have a sweet tooth too, check out my no-sugar, low-oil, good-for-you treats from my dairy-free dessert cookbook at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997665424/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507756038&sr=1-1&keywords=slimming+Dairy-free+smoothies+and+desserts

 

The surprising reason we gain fat

 

me cutting bellsIt’s true that we cannot eat the same way, or eat the same number of calories we used to when we were in our teens and twenties. A few reasons is that our metabolism slows, we move less and work more, and our hormone levels change.

What’s surprising is that eating just one extra cookie or 30 extra pistachios, on a daily basis, can, theoretically, cause a person to put on 10 pounds in just one year. So, that extra bite of this or that can have a profound effect on your weight.

While the math is not perfect, since the more we weigh, the bigger our organs get, and bigger bodies burn more calories; this explains why people get frustrated when it seems like they are eating the same as they always have, yet keep getting fatter.

The good news is, if you reduce your calories, little-by-little, you’ll see a smaller you, little-by-little. When you weigh less, the organs shrink, which is when your weight loss might stop. At that time, you’ll need to reduce your calories a bit more, and maybe add more exercise, to drop the extra weight.

We all tend to underestimate how many calories we eat, and overestimate how many calories we need.

Photo: me cutting up bell peppers

 

What a fitness trainer eats, and why

female fitness trainers

Some fitness trainers eat high protein, low carb, restrictive diets, and then binge on a cheat meal, like eating a whole pizza at one sitting, once a week. They will avoid fruit, except for berries, count carbs, count every calorie, and make 6-pack abs a priority. They don’t get enough nutrients (since they aren’t eating a well-rounded diet) so they get their energy from pre-workout powders or energy drinks (which are not regulated, increase heart rate, and can contain harmful chemicals).

You don’t want nutrition advise from trainers like these! They may look good, but they feel like crap (and can’t poop without fiber supplements). Many of these supposedly fit folks end up with heart attacks at an early age. A lot of them take steroids too.

The fitness trainers that want to look good, be fit, AND understand the importance of  a healthy body and mind, focus on eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, proteins, grains (if tolerated), have wine or beer every now and then, don’t typically count calories, but keep an eye on portion size, and enjoy a meal out with friends every now and then. These are the trainers you want to work with, and get advice from.

I want to look good, but I make my health a priority. I don’t eat the same foods every day, my meals must taste yummy, and I rarely have cheat meals (which just makes me feel terrible).

People still get confused as to what is healthy, and what would be tasty well-rounded meals, so I decided to write down what I ate yesterday with an explanation on why I chose those ingredients.

After waking:

Vanilla iced chocolate coffee:

1 level tablespoon Truvani vegan vanilla protein powder, ¼ cup cold coffee, 1 cup filtered water, ¼ cup ice, 1 level tablespoon of cocoa powder all blended for 10 seconds.

Why: When I get up in the morning, I’m usually really hungry, but I save my breakfast as my pre-workout mini meal about 30 minutes prior to exercising. This drink has very few calories, but tides me over for about an hour or two.

Breakfast: fruit smoothie with one frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, ¼ cup collagen protein powder, 1 heaping tablespoon of acai powder, 1 heaping tablespoon of Truvani vegan vanilla protein powder.

Why: Drinking a fruit smoothie satisfies my sugar cravings, provides hydration and just enough energy without too many calories to get me through a 60-90 minute grueling exercise session.

Lunch: 3 ounces baked pork loin with spices and herbs served with sautéed onions, cabbage, and shredded carrots

Why: Pork loin is a lean protein and simple to make. The cabbage, onions and carrots provide nutrition and fiber.

Snack: one kiwi, handful of almonds, 3 ounces of leftover rotisserie chicken.

Why: It’s best to eat every 2-3 hours to prevent metabolism from slowing and binging later on. I pair every meal with protein, healthy carbs (like the kiwi), and some healthy fat (almonds). Combining protein, carbs and a little bit of fat will make you fuller longer.

Dinner: Crockpot chicken breast with honey-lemon garlic sauce, water chestnuts, with cauliflower rice, and two figs on the side.

Why: Chicken breast meat has less fat than chicken thighs or legs. I don’t have to add oil when cooking in a crockpot. The cauliflower rice is low in carbs and calories and is a good source of fiber. The figs are the healthy carbs, which help with sleep and satiety.

Being healthy, happy, eating delicious meals, and having a healthy bodyfat percentage is definitely doable; I’m living proof.

 

Photo: Melanie and I are both certified fitness trainers (she’s on my right). Check out her meals at Mel’s Naturals

 

most accurate weight loss predictor

just a sip

If you are one of the many people that thinks it’s impossible to lose weight, you are not alone. The good news is that it’s not impossible for you to lose weight, but it does mean you’ll have to be consistent with lowering your calories, and be patient.

Below is a link to the most accurate weight loss estimator, to date, so you can see how long it will realistically take to get that bodyfat down.

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/bwp

I’ve used this tool for myself and find that it is quite truthful. For instance, it states that to maintain my weight, I should eat 1683 calories a day even though I lift weights 90 minutes, four days a week. To lose three pounds in 30 days, I should limit my calories to 1455 calories daily. That’s not a lot of food, so it’s been really tough for me to get those darn three pounds off.

I suggest putting your activity level a bit lower than what you think it actually is, because it might display your suggested calories higher than it should be.

Photo: me taking a sip of beer. Don’t forget to count those liquid calories, they add up fast!

 

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