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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Be resolute...

Well here we are, January is right around the corner. You know what that means. Yep, time to make your resolutions. Don't want to be left out of the talk on Jan KNOW everyone will be talking about their resolutions, so you'd better decide now what yours will be. I am sincerely hoping you read that with the amount of sarcasm I was typing it with...

I know it has been an entire year (well almost) and many of you may have forgotten MY New Year's Resolution so I thought I would re-post it for you.  Happy reading..and happy New Year!


New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone!!! My hope is that it will be your happiest and healthiest one yet!

One key to making this happen...NO MORE NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS!!!!!! Yes, you read that right.  Stop making them!!! I made one years ago and have stuck with it ever resolution was to never make one again.  "But Michelle", you are thinking "how else will I reach my goals?"
Well, I didn't say that you couldn't or shouldn't make changes and aim for your goals, but it is absurd to think that just because it it January 1 (or a Monday or any other arbitrary day) you will somehow magically stick with those changes.  Why do you think that only 10% of the people that make resolutions actually stick to them?? Because they were the only ones READY to make the changes!!!! The fact is, you will stick to them when you are READY.  So if you feel you are ready to do it today, well then do it. If you felt you were motivated and ready on December 27th, then you should have started it then...and not waited until may have lost that spark of motivation and deep desire to attain your goal.  If you are ready 2 months from now well do it then.  My point? Making resolutions when you are not ready to embrace them is a sure fire recipe for disaster and just plain stupid.  Not only will you fail to stick with the plan, you will be much less likely to attempt that (or any other) change in the future.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes you CAN!

Cashier: "I wish I could eat this healthy."
Me: "You can."
Cashier: "I know."
Me: "Well..."
Cashier: "I usually just eat things I can grab fast."
Me (with a puzzled look as she is scanning my raw vegetables): "You can grab these fast."
Cashier: "My 2 month old makes it hard for me."
Me: nothing..just a smile

Well, what was I supposed to say? She had all of her excuses lined up already.  Raw veggies, doesn't get much quicker than that. Blaming someone else for your eating habits gives away your power of choice.  You are at their mercy, you eat what they tell you to eat, or what they allow you to eat.  No wonder she can't eat the way she wants.
Any time you say that someone else 'makes' you do something, or any time you name someone else as a 'reason' why you are doing something or why you cannot do something, you are giving away YOUR power.  In your head you are just trying to escape the blame (really the responsibility) for the situation in which you find yourself.   Whether you realize it or not, you do not believe you have the power to make the choice. Subsequently, you never WILL make that choice.  It is time to realize this and take full responsibility for where you are as well as for where you are going.  YOU are the only one that puts food into your mouth. YOU are responsible for your choices and actions, and therefore the results of your actions as well.

 More than once I have heard people discussing this diet or that diet and commenting that "anyone can do it". Citing that it isn't restrictive and you can eat anything you want.  Hmmmm...yes anyone CAN do that.  In fact, most people are doing that NOW. That would be why the majority of the US population is either over weight or obese.  More than 66% of our population falls into this category. Here's a hint: if the majority of people are following a certain 'diet', it isn't working.  It is making them fat, so step away and do it quickly.  The other part of the 'diet anyone can do' mind set that frustrates me is this--why would someone feel that eating healthy is hard, or something that not everyone can do?? That mindset is exactly what is keeping people from eating healthy.  Apparently choosing healthy foods is something reserved for only a select few.

Here are two rules for being healthy. Learn them and live them.
1. YOU are responsible for what goes into your mouth, no one else.
2. No, you CANNOT eat whatever you want (no matter what that infomercial tells you).

Pretty simple, right? The sooner you own the fact that YOU are the one that got you where you are now, that YOU are the one that keeps you from getting where you want to go, the sooner YOU can get yourself where you want to be.  You are your worst enemy or your best asset, the choice is yours.  Damn, there is that word again 'choice'.  Own the choice, own the result.

No, you cannot eat whatever you want.  Well, ok technically you can, but that will not help you reach your goals.  Well, unless your goals are to fall somewhere in between so-so healthy and completely unhealthy.  If you are looking for optimal health then it is time that you just face the facts.  Eating whatever you want is not the way to go. Look at it like this: everything you ingest becomes a part of you. A part of each and every cell in your body. If your goal is optimal health choose optimal foods.  Ahhh, that sneaky word again. Everything comes back to choice.  Choice and responsibility.  Own them.  You CAN eat healthy, you can BE healthy, you CAN reach your goals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Can the Bulldog Be Saved?" the cover of the November 27, 2011 The New York Times Magazine questions.  As a lover of Bullys as well as the mother of one, my interest was piqued.  Well, that and the fact that the picture of the sweet baby on the cover looked just like my Bartholomew. I peeled the pages open to find the article and devoured it.

The gist is this..bulldogs have changed over the years. Writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis interviewed some who cite breeding practices to be at fault for the move from taller, leaner more athletic bodied dogs to shorter, heavier less agile ones. In an attempt to create a certain aesthetic, health may have been compromised. The article cites this as the reason for many problems afflicting the breed- heart disease, respiratory issues, birthing/reproductive difficulties, abnormal tooth placement, thyroid issues, skin allergies, digestive disorders, cherry eye, dry eye, hip, elbow and knee issues as well as altered gait.  Some see these health issues as a threat to the longevity of the breed. Can we 'save' the Bulldog from this? Sources cited in the article do believe that the Bulldog can be saved but only if new standards are set and criterion put in place to select for taller, leaner, healthier dogs.

 As I am reading this I actually started to laugh, yes laugh. I couldn't help but to see the parallel between the bulldog and the human.  Both were leaner and healthier not all that long ago.  Both continue to pass on traits that could compromise the health and well being of the entire line.  I'm laughing because for SOME REASON this is something we should be soooo worried about for the bulldog, but NOT the human??? WHAT??!!!! PETA and veterinarians alike are pushing for the American Kennel Club and Bulldog Club of America to change judging standards to favor the physique of a healthier, more resilient dog. They see this as a better representation of the breed, the ideal, if you will.

I am all for making anything healthier, that is for sure but why not start with ourselves? Why must we be so concerned about dogs and have so little reverence for humans? When a dog's health and longevity is compromised we do something about it, yet when our own health and longevity is compromised we just change the standards so we don't look so bad.  WHAT?!

Instead of looking deeper in to this situation we have chosen to modify our definition of what is normal or healthy for humans..but not for dogs? Why does this make sense? Oh yeah, that's right- IT DOESN'T!!!!! Clothing companies have modified the definition of their sizes.  I KNOW I am not smaller than I was in high school, but for some reason I wear sizes that are much smaller than I did back then.  All of this in an effort to keep people from feeling bad about themselves.  Changing the size of airplane, movie theater and car seats as well? Yep, wouldn't want anyone to have to squeeze in too much.  If we were bulldogs PETA would argue that we are endangering our line and that we should do something to stop moving further in the direction of total demise. Denizet-Lewis says:
"Jemima Harrison, the director of "Pedigree Dogs Exposed," told me it is possible to produce a healthier phenotype in most breeds pretty quickly (in three to four generations). ..."If breeders were willing to breed dogs with fewer exaggerated characteristics and judges in the show ring began rewarding those dogs, change could happen."

So, might it also be possible to change the direction of the human population? I certainly think so, but it will NOT happen on accident.  Continuing in the manner in which we have will find us in the same place as the bulldog. Just as the ideal bulldog may be redefined, we too must redefine the ideal human.  When I say 'ideal', NO I am not talking the Hitler-esque 'ideal'.  I am talking about a healthy individual.  Healthy physically and mentally.  We are responsible for the continuation of a healthy human population.  Today is the first step..commit to making a change for the better.  Lead by example for your family and friends.  Be the shining light of truth regarding nutrition and exercise. If we commit to starting NOW we can begin to undo our own demise.  If not, well...I don't want to go there.

Someone once told me that when you point your finger at something, you have 3 fingers pointing back at you. Let's stop pointing our finger at everything else and talking about what is wrong with IT, let's look at the 3 fingers pointing back at us and let's start with what is wrong with US!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why is the truth so hard to find?

I often sit and wonder if I am the only one so fired up about lies in the food industry and the world of nutrition.  Maybe I am the only one that notices.  Surely I must be, otherwise the lies and misinformation would not be there.  There is NO WAY our leaders or government would allow this to happen, right? Companies that lie or misrepresent their products go to jail, are fined, or at least made to openly apologize, right? Cough, cough, cough.  Sorry I almost choked on my Cheerios.

Social media is a great way to keep up with things these days.  Something happens and "blammo" it is out there for everyone to see.  It hadn't even been 2 minutes and everyone in the country-better yet, around the world- was aware that Kim Kardashian was getting divorced.  Or how about when Seal Team Six went in after Saddam? What about learning that General Mills does not need to tell you that the fiber in Fiber One bars is not the same as fiber you would get from 'real food'?  It was on Facebook. You didn't hear about that? What? Really?? Nope, they do not have to tell you that.  So says a judge that heard the class action lawsuit. Yet this 'fake fiber' does not have the health benefits of real fiber, may cause stomach issues, or may even harm women. Specifically women who are pregnant or breast feeding.

An Illinois federal judge disagreed, however, writing that current legislation does not require companies to disclose that processed fiber offers fewer health benefits than natural fiber. And while states may ask for certain exceptions under the federal law, Illinois never obtained one to impose stricter standards.
"It's easy to see why Congress would not want to allow states to impose disclosure requirements of their own on packaged food products, most of which are sold nationwide," Judge Posner wrote. "Manufacturers might have to print 50 different labels, driving consumers who buy food products in more than one state crazy."

Haaa. Ok wait just a minute.  Did you say it is easy to see why Congress would not want to impose disclosure???? You're telling me it would drive people crazy because you would have to make 50 different labels for the product? I must be missing something here.  How about you just make ONE and you have it represent the product accurately.  Meaning you tell the truth.  Why is that so hard to figure out? Don't worry, there will still be plenty of people buying your 'fake fiber' product.  Just look at the number of people still buying McDonald's...and they list the actual fake ingredients of their products..for everyone to see.

Judge Posner said the labeling of Fiber Plus bars, Fiber One bars and other nutritional bar products challenged in the class action lawsuit is compliant with current federal regulations relating to health claims for dietary fibers. 

Oh I see..the problem is that the federal guidelines do not require them to tell the truth...THAT is where social media can work for us to effect change.  Why do I feel that I am the only one making any noise about this?  YOU can do something about this! Use your Facebook, Twitter, website, blog, or email and let your friends, followers, fans, and readers know what is going on.  Certainly if more people knew what was going on more people would demand change. People would demand the truth.  We are killing ourselves with this fake food and the lies that cover it up.

Another fun tidbit found on Facebook (incase you missed it on the news). Pizza is a vegetable.  Yes, you read that right.  Congress has decided that pizza is a vegetable.

Well, it is especially a vegetable when served in schools for lunch.  Seems that some folks got their undies tied in bunches when they were confronted with removing pizza and french fries from school lunches.  The article goes on to say that "...some conservatives in Congress say the federal government shouldn't be telling children what to eat." Cough, cough, cough..darn those Cheerios, almost choked again.

Ok, let me see if I'm getting this straight.  Conservatives think that if they remove pizza and french fries from school lunches then they are telling kids what to eat..meaning they are telling them to eat what is served (the replacement for the pizza and fries)..and Congress does not think that the federal government has the right to do that. Hmmm..ok, so doesn't that then mean that the federal government is telling children to eat whatever they are serving now (pizza and french fries)?? I'm confused.  So if they change what is served then the government is telling kids what to eat, but if they leave it the way it is then they aren't?

Riiiiiiight. I think there is a class that I have missed somewhere along the way called "How to Rationalize Things: The Political Version".  I'm guessing that the book for that class is really small and reads like this: 'Whatever works for me at the time is the truth and what I say goes, period.'

Yes, a tomato is a vegetable.  When it is convenient.  Otherwise it is a fruit. And pizza crust is whole grain.

C'mon people, these are the children that will run the country when you and I are old.  Shouldn't we try to keep them healthy and teach them to tell the truth?  Not just lie because it works at the moment, and oh- by- the- way- we can save lots of money if we pretend french fries and pizza are good for you.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said the changes would "prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and to provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals."
School districts had said some of the USDA requirements went too far and cost too much when budgets are extremely tight. 

What cost is too high to ensure the health of our children, our country, our future?
This bill will be voted on this week by YOUR congressmen.  Please read the article and let them know what you think..before it is too late!.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Peanut Butter is NOT're welcome

Geez, if I hear it one more time, I think I may explode. Why, why, why do people continue to promote and encourage these lies? I just don't get it.  In a country where people are already so confused about nutrition, why do some find it necessary to propagate such misinformation???? Stupidity is pretty much the only thing I can think of..well except for the obvious..out-right deception.

This blog has been churning in my head for a while, but walking in to work this morning and having one of my co-workers read a list of "Top 10 Lean Proteins"as written by a REGISTERED DIETICIAN and posted on ( really pushed me over the edge. (Thanks Matt!) Her list is as follows: quinoa, skyr (Icelandic style yogurt), egg whites, nut butters, oatmeal, soy, black beans, white meat chicken, daily catch (fish), sunflower seeds. WHAAAAAAATTTTTTT?????????? C'mon, you're kidding, right? I wish it was a joke, but it wasn't. Right there on the Fox News website for all to it MUST be true...sigh, here we go again.

What is protein, why do we need it? Protein comes from the greek word proteios meaning: of the first or prime importance. Protein is basically a chain of amino acids.  Different proteins are made up of different amino acids in different combinations. There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are considered essential (must be obtained through the diet) with another 6 considered conditionally essential (must be obtained through diet during stressful conditions- such as exercise).  The remaining amino acids are considered non essential as the body can produce them from other compounds.  Proteins are needed to produce anitbodies for the immune system, enzymes for different reactions, are components of structural tissues (muscle tissue, collagen, elastin), transport molecules (hemoglobin) and some hormones (insulin, thyroid hormone and growth hormone). Protein can also be oxidized (broken down) for use as fuel.
Our bodies have zero storage capacity for protein, therefore our requirements must be met each and every day. Protein requirements for individuals has been a highly controversial topic for as long as I can remember (and probably was long before I was born as well).  Some RDs (as well as some doctors) will claim .4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (g/kg) is sufficient, while other RDs and sports nutritionists (myself included) stand by 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (g/lb).  Either way you go, you MUST consume your protein every day.  If protein requirements are not met each day, muscle tissue will be metabolized to fulfill amino acid requirements.  This slows tissue repair, decreases strength (and muscle size), and impairs performance. All around a bad situation.

Ok so what's the big deal where it comes from? Well, as I said earlier proteins are made up of chains of amino acids in different combinations.  Proteins that contain all 9 essential amino acids are considered complete proteins as they provide tissues with the aminos necessary for growth. Examples are: milk, eggs, meat, fish, poultry- animal sources. Proteins that are lacking even ONE of the essential amino acids are considered incomplete and are not capable of causing growth.  In fact, a diet comprised of incomplete proteins can lead to protein malnutrition.  No, I am NOT making this up. Incomplete proteins include plant sources such as corn, lentils, beans, and nuts.
Did you hear me? Yes, I just said plant sources...and yes 2 of the things I specifically listed were on Tanya Zuckerbrot's list of "Top 10 Lean Proteins".
That's right folks, not all protein is created equal.  Just like clothes, cars, electronics and just about anything else you can think of.  Some are just plain better than others.  That is how the world works people, accept it and move on.

So why do some people say that nuts or nut butters (or whatever) is a 'source of protein'?  Well, my guess is that because it actually contains some amino acids so when you look at the nutrition facts (the numbers on the back of the package) there is a number next to protein.  It does not say zero, therefore it is a source of protein.  That is a great plan *cough, cough*.  That is like a builder telling you that your new house will be constructed out of particle board. I know, you are probably laughing thinking 'what the heck?'.  Really though, if we are playing by the same rules as this 'source of protein' game particle board is a source of wood.  It has wood in it, right? So what's the big deal? The big deal is: A) what is the quality of the wood? And B) what percent of the particle board is comprised of wood?
Your answer- A) haaa, chips and dust and shavings B) hmmm.
Let's do the same thing for nuts..specifically peanut butter.  Ok, we already know it is an incomplete protein so quality is not great at all.  Now for the amount of that protein in peanut butter.  To figure this out, let's look at the nutrition info for peanut butter. You can look at any kind you'd like they are all going to be about the same.  Looking at Smucker's Natural Chunky Peanut Butter you see that one serving (2TBSP) is 200 calories, 16 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams protein. Let's do the math here - 16grams of fat x 9 calories/gram of fat gives us 144 calories from fat. Six grams of carbohydrate x 4 calories/gram gives us 24 calories from carbohydrate.  Seven grams of protein x 4 calories/gram gives us 28 calories from protein. What percent of the total calories is that? Hmmmm 72% for fat, 12% for carbohydrate, 14% for protein.   Now, I am definitely NOT a math major nor am I a statistician, but I would have to say that peanut butter is a great source of....wait for it...FAT, not protein.  Well, unless you think that particle board is a good source of wood. (If it IS a source of protein, then one would have to say that it is also a source of carbohydrate as the numbers are almost the same for the two)

 What about beans?  I love beans. Especially black beans.  Ms. Zuckerbrot states: "Black beans have 8.5 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber per half cup. Enough said."  Well, yes they actually do. They also have 21 grams of carbohydrates --which, if we did the math- would qualify them as majority carbohydrate source...NOT protein. Oh wait, beans are also an INCOMPLETE source of protein.  ENOUGH SAID.

What about combining incomplete protein sources to 'make' a complete protein? Sure, go ahead..if you would like to increase you caloric consumption as well...let's try it. We'll go with the ever popular beans and rice.  We'll use black beans and brown rice. One cup of brown rice has 5 grams of protein and we know that a half cup of black beans has 8.5 grams. Together that makes 13.5 grams of protein. Hmmm, but also gives us 67 grams of carbohydrates and totals about 340 calories. Hmmmmm.  Just for kicks and giggles let's look at chicken. First of all we know it is an animal source so it is by default a complete protein. Two ounces of cooked chicken breast has MORE protein than the rice and beans mixture (2oz chicken has 18 grams), and has 99 calories!!!!!!  Ninety-nine calories, 2 grams of fat, zero grams of carbohydrate and 18 grams of protein. Hmm, what does THAT work out to as far as percent composition? Seventy two calories from protein and 18 from fat..soooo about 73% protein, 0% carbohydrate and 18% fat.  PROTEIN SOURCE!!!! In general, I am not going to consider something a source of ________ (insert whatever you'd like) unless it has over 70% of that thing in it.  I am NOT going to consider something that has a trace amount of something a SOURCE of that something and certainly not a GOOD source of it. Most especially when there are sooooo many sources that are much much better.

Wait, it gets better. According to a study done by Young and Pellett (Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59)
 "Contrary to popular belief, there is no known maximum amount of protein that can be absorbed in one meal.  However, in general it is known that humans typically absorb approximately 95% of ingested animal proteins and approximately 85% of ingested plant proteins."
Did you hear that? So of the 13.5 grams of protein from your beans and rice you probably only absorbed  11.4 grams. The 18 grams of protein from the chicken left you with 17.1 grams.  So you would need to consume EVEN MORE of your beans and rice. Whew, I'm full just thinking about it.

Let's recap this. You need protein every day.  You need complete proteins.  Complete proteins are animal sources. Plants are NOT animals. Plants are NOT complete proteins. Beans are NOT protein. Peanut butter is NOT protein.  You're welcome.

Monday, October 24, 2011

40 miles of thoughts...

Since I made it official here, I guess I need to recap it here too.  I completed the Triple Lakes 40 mile trail race on October 15. SUCCESS!!!!

My only goal was to finish the race- in an upright position- and on my own 2 feet. I am very happy to report that I did just that. Well, not JUST that, but I did that.  I feel like I did so much more..
In that 40 miles, I had many conversations with myself, thanked my guardian angles for keeping me from face planting SEVERAL times, wrote a new blog, pondered the meaning of life, unsuccessfully attempted mathematical equations, encountered scary sounding beasts (which ended up being cows), evaded some 'close talkers', avoided an emotional breakdown near mile 30-something and had an emotional break down at mile 40. It was a busy day.

It couldn't have been a more perfect day. Everything just came together in the most harmonious way..the weather, the trail, the event itself... just perfect.
I couldn't help but find the parallels between a trail race and life.  The trail was very technical with a great percentage of it covered in leaves.  Constant attention was required to avoid slipping or tripping on rocks or sticks.  Every so often the trail would come to a 'flat' stretch and I found my self looking up from the ground just long enough to take in my surroundings. When I tried to look back down at the trail, it was gone. Vanished.  I felt as if I were standing in the middle of the forrest alone. After a few seconds of concentration I could start to see where the trail was.  I kept my eyes peeled and continued moving forward.  'Wow,' I thought 'life is a lot like this trail race.  You have to stay focused on the path you are following.  If you look away or become distracted, you may lose your way.'
Focus grasshopper, focus.
Another similarity...sometimes you may be caught with snot on your face, you have to wipe it off and just keep going.  Really, things don't always go the way we envisioned them every time. You may end up with egg (or snot) on your face, but you have to get back up, wipe it off and keep going.

All the happy thoughts in the world and I still almost had an emotional breakdown at mile 30-something.  If you are a runner, you definitely understand that at some point in any race you may become over whelmed with emotion..the longer the race the greater the likelihood.  If you aren't a runner, you'll just have to trust me on this.  All I could think about was finishing and when I did I knew I would see my friends.  They would be there smiling and excited to see me.  I started to cry.  And let me tell you it is NOT easy to run and can't breathe! I could see Katie and Danielle and Jenny and their smiling faces in my mind.  I knew they would be there and I was so happy to have such amazing friends to share this moment with.  Friends who loved me and supported me. I had to put that thought on hold in order to get my breathing back to normal.  'Later, ' I told myself 'you can go back to that thought later.  For now just keep running.'

Just keep running is what I did for a few more miles.  I had no idea how much further it was.  I could hear people cheering off in the distance but couldn't tell how close I was, nor did I know if they were people from the race or some other event going on in the area.  I tried not to get too excited, but after spending so many hours alone in the woods, the sound of other's voices was pretty exciting. A few miles later I came around a curve and down a hill and ran past some people. I thought I heard them telling me which direction to run, but I didn't completely understand. 'Turn right, cross the street' and something about cones.  When I crossed the street I could see some orange cones ahead and figured that was what they were talking about. 'Head to the cones' I told myself.
As I am heading toward the cones I hear "That's Michelle!"  I knew that familiar voice, I knew it was an exclamation for me.. 'through the cones I kept telling myself', but I could feel my thoughts drifting to seeing Katie, Danielle and Jenny and I started to get a huge lump in my throat. 'Oh no', I thought ' don't cry now, they will think you are having a heart attack!' I could feel myself having trouble breathing and kept trying to push back the tears. 'Finish the race and then cry' is what I kept telling myself...and I did.
I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.  Danielle and Jenny were cheering and clapping and there was Katie, arms raised in victory. I went right to her, gave her a big hug and burst into tears.  I couldn't help it, I was so happy that I had accomplished my goal, but even happier to have amazing friends to share it with. A round of hugs with everyone and Danielle was right there with my recovery shake.  I think I still had tears in my eyes. I couldn't help it. I was thinking 'this must be what Heaven is like. Greeted by people you love with open arms and snacks.'
 Yep, life IS like a trail race

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What is the meaning of 'healthy'?

Uncanny timing for this post.  On the heels of a class action suit filed against General Mills and its Fruit Roll-Ups for misleading consumers that its products are healthy, when in fact they are not.
General Mills is not the only company guilty of doing this. Marketing departments everywhere are trying harder and harder to appeal to health conscious consumers as well as those just trying to make small improvements in their dietary habits.  What is even more unfortunate is that some professionals (dietitians) that Americans look to for guidance are just as misleading.

Merriam -Webster defines healthy as: conducive to health. Citing such synonyms as  able-bodied, bouncing, fit, hale, hearty,robust, sound, well, well-conditioned, whole, wholesome.  Not a bad place to start.  They go on to define heart healthy as conducive to a healthy heart and circulatory system.  Ok, I'll buy that.  But what about everyone else? What is their definition of healthy?  This is something that confuses most Americans each and every day. If eggs, oatmeal, almonds, berries, chicken and  salmon are all deemed healthy--even heart healthy then eating them would be a good thing, right? Uhhh, no.  Not always.
What?? You heard me..NO! You can't just take something that is healthy and do whatever you want to it and say it is STILL healthy.  Some of you are probably laughing right now thinking, well duuuhhh, of course. But then WHY, WHY, WHY do people do it every day and no one says anything? Each and every day you are presented with things that appear to be healthy and simply ARE NOT.  Oatmeal from Mc Donald's (or even Starbucks), yogurt with 'real fruit', trail mix or an Egg Mc Muffin.  Yes, I did say Egg McMuffin. That's right.  Apparently some dietitians actually consider it a healthy option. Wholly cow, what was the definition of healthy again????  Looking at an online 'resource' you will actually learn that healthy has a meaning completely different than the Merriam-webster version.  Here is what they say: "The dietitian-approved Healthy Dining choices emphasize lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats and meet calorie, fat and saturated fat criteria. A new Sodium Savvy platform helps consumers find restaurant meals with less than 750 mg. of sodium." They emphasize those things, but don't necessarily have them...ohhh and golly gee- less than 750mg of sodium...half of my sodium intake in just one meal..THANKS!  
So yes, you DO need to pay attention to what you are eating not just what some pretty, colorful package says or some commercial with an unbelievably catchy song, or even a fun website that says it is dietician approved.  You need to know what it started out as and what happened to it along the way; what was added and what was taken away.  Then, regardless of the marketing associated with the item you will KNOW if it is healthy or not. Simple enough?

Let's look back on some of the choices purported as 'healthy options' according to First up, McDonald's Egg McMuffin.  (Thankfully McDonald's lists the nutritional information as well as ingredients for their items online- which is more than I can say for WeightWatchers Ingredients are listed as: english muffin, egg, pasteurized process American cheese, Canadian style bacon, liquid margarine.  Ok, never mind the fact that I would dump the english muffin, this choice may not seem too bad to some folks.  I mean after all, it DOES list egg, right? Well, let's look a bit closer.  Scrolling down the page, after all the listings of its breakfast items 'eggs' are listed.  Hmmm, wonder what's in there..eggs, I hope.  Let's see....USDA Grade A eggs, soy lecithin (release agent). Prepared with liquid margarine: liquid soybean oil and hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavors, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, bets carotene (color).  While we're at it, why don't we look at the english muffin too. Those ingredients are listed as: enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, wheat gluten, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, citric acid, calcium citrate, yellow corn flour, corn meal, rice flour, barley flour, rice malt, artificial flavors, natural flavors (botanical source), dough conditioners (ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, datem, tricalcium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate and potassium sorbate (preservatives) soy lecithin. Prepared with liquid margarine: liquid soybean oil and hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavors, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, bets carotene (color).  

Oh heck, while we're at it we'll finish it off with the Canadian Style Bacon and Pasturized process American cheese..guess we don't really need to look at the liquid margarine since THAT is already incorporated into every other item in the sandwich! Canadian Style bacon: pork, water, sugar, salt, sodium lactate, sodium phosphate, natural flavor (vegetable), sodium diacetate and sodium nitrite (preservatives). Pasteurized process American cheese: milk, water, milk fat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, scorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, artificial color, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation). 
Ok, so I have a question to the dietician that 'approved' this as a healthy option--what on EARTH is your definition of healthy???? I mean, really...hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, salt, soy, soy, soy, PRESERVATIVES?? Yeah, that is right in line with the standards they mentioned: emphasize lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats and meet calorie, fat and saturated fat criteria.Wow, that is all I can

I do find it interesting that Mc Donald's uses different eggs for different items.  For instance the biscuit items are listed as having a 'folded egg'.  This 'folded egg' has ingredients listed as: pasteurized whole egg (DOES NOT LIST GRADE OF EGG), food starch-modified, soybean oil, natural flavors (botanical), sodium acid pyrophosphate, carrageenan, flavor enhancer [salt, maltodextrin, natural flavor(plant source), spices, herb, turmeric (color)], monosodium phosphate, citric acid, soy lecithin (release agent), prepared with liquid margarine. All eggs are NOT created equal.  Not too sure about you, but if i cooked an egg at home, I'm pretty sure the ingredients would be: egg.  That's it, just egg. 

I know, you're thinking "well, duuh, i didn't REALLY think that was a healthy option anyway." Just for you we'll look at something that most people WOULD assume would be a healthy option.  Grilled chicken.  McDonald's has done its part to stay afloat in this increasingly health conscious market so you have many choices with your grilled chicken there.  You can go with a salad, or sandwich or wrap.  Let's not split hairs with what you get with your grilled chicken, let's just look at the chicken for now. It is actually called New Grilled Chicken Fillet and is made of: chicken breast fillet with rib meat, water, seasoning (rice starch, salt, sugar, yeast extract, canola oil, onion powder, maltodextrin, chicken skin, paprika, flavor, sunflower oil, chicken, garlic powder, chicken fat, spices) sodium phosphates.
WOW! Why is there rice starch, sugar, yeast, oil, maltodextrin, CHICKEN SKIN, oil, chicken and chicken fat used to prepare the chicken???? Shouldn't chicken taste like chicken without ADDING chicken, chicken skin and chicken fat to it???? Or maybe it didn't taste like chicken after adding the sugar, salt, oil and maltodextrin so they had to add chicken back IN to the chicken.  Who knows.  All I know is that THAT is NOT chicken.  Not anymore.  

I can imagine this whole thing may be very confusing for some.  I mean after all there are isles upon isles of things in grocery stores jumping out promising to be healthy.  Made with "whole grains" or "real fruit" they say.  People buy into it forgetting the fact that the products don't even LOOK LIKE what they are supposedly made from. So when you DO have a product that looks like what it is made from (grilled chicken) it can be even harder for people to discern its health value. Read the ingredients people.  Not the pretty colored box front.  The actual ingredients.  They are usually small black letters..on the BACK of the package.  You may even need your glasses to read them. Put your glasses on, read the ingredients and keep the TRUE definition of healthy in mind. 

Stick with me, we'll get through this.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Heeeellllooooo sweet cookie.

So I am walking through the grocery store the other day and I just happen to walk past an entire Weight Watcher's diplay. It was complete with soft chocolate chip cookies and cake things and who knows what else.  I honestly had to look away after I realized what was there...cookies and cakes.  Are you KIDDING me with this??? Weight watchers and cookies.  I guess I should not be surprised by this, but I am.  Ok, maybe not surprised, more so dumbfounded and a bit angry.  It doesn't make me mad for me ..but for YOU and for every person out there who is trying to do something to be a bit more healthy and/or lose weight.
Let me just go ahead and say it now:
 If you are trying to lose weight you should NOT be eating cookies. 
 If you are trying to improve your health you should NOT be eating cookies.

I don't know how much simpler it can be.  Cookies or cakes or brownies or muffins are NOT a part of a healthy diet. Period.

Lies, all lies.  Ok, maybe some people call it marketing, but I call it lies.  If you know me, I'm certain you have heard me say it before: they don't care if they kill you, they want to make money.  You cannot rely on a company trying to sell you something to tell you the truth about how this product will impact you or your health.  Heck, these days you can't count on many people to tell you the truth about that.  Most people are too afraid to hurt your feelings.  When is the last time your doctor told you that you needed to lose weight or that you needed to stop eating crap? Probably never.  But they aren't afraid to tell you to stop smoking or doing crack.  Why the disparity? Well, telling you to stop smoking or doing drugs is not going to hurt your feelings...not nearly as much as telling you that you need to lose weight and actually make a lifestyle change with your food.  Well, don't worry, I'm not afraid to tell you.  I would much rather hurt your feelings and tell you than to 'spare your feelings' and let you  dig yourself an early grave.
You can be damn sure that if I'm not going to lie to you about the fact that you need to lose weight, I am NOT going to lie to you about how you need to do it. Cookies are not the answer. Neither are cakes, pies, candies, muffins, or ice cream desserts.  Here is what the Weight Watchers website says about their sweet baked goods (as they call them):
           Stay on track with Weight Watchers Snack Cakes, Brownies, and Muffins. These delicious treats are perfect as part       of a smart breakfast, an afternoon snack, or an easy, sensible dessert to finish your day. Making smart choices doesn’t   mean sacrificing deliciously satisfying treats.

Ummm, yes, it actually does mean making sacrifices. Eating those treats is what got you in the position you are in.  So, sorry to say, but give 'em up people!
Ever look at the ingredients of any of these 'sweet baked goods'? Of course not, why would you need to.  You know that it is 2 points or 3 points and that is all that matters, right? That would be a great thing IF a calorie was a calorie was a calorie.  Just like people and clothes and cars, calories are NOT all equal.  They are not the same.  They behave differently when ingested and cause different things to happen as a result of their ingestion.  So let's do ourselves a favor and forget that this point system ever existed ok?
Thank you.
Now let's actually look at the'll have to do it by looking at the box or searching the web because the Weight Watchers site DOES NOT list the ingredients OR the nutrition facts. Am I the ONLY ONE that finds that interesting???? Yes, I actually went back to the store to look at the ingredients..couldn't get a clear, readable shot of them and actually had to purchase a box of the cookies.  
Let me tell you THAT was a strange feeling for me.  I was really hoping that people wouldn't see me buying them and think that it was actually a good idea. Thankfully I escaped the store without being engaged in any conversations about my purchase. Whew!

Back panel Weight Watchers Chocolate Chip cookie

Very interesting...the list of ingredients looks almost the same as this:

Hmm..with the exception of 2 grams more fat, 9grams less carbohydrate and 4 grams less  sugar  the nutritional facts on this second example are pretty much the same as the first. Wondering what it is??? Yep, you guessed it! Chips Ahoy cookies By Nabisco.  Hmmmm…so take out a little fat, because most people trying to lose weight think fat is “a bad thing” add more sugar –because you have to replace the fat with SOMETHING (remember the whole Snackwells craze??) and throw in a little fiber to reduce the ‘points count’ and there you go instant Weight Watchers cookie 

ARRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!! People, paaahhhhleeeeeeze, it is still a cookie! Just a chocolate chip cookie..with MORE sugar and a tiny bit of fiber.  Ohhh, yes, let’s not forget the added fiber, that makes it better, right? Niiiiiice try and great marketing ploy.
If I add fiber to crack, does it make it better for you? NO! and it doesn’t work with cookies either! Cookies will make you fat whether the box says ChipsAhoy or Weight Watchers. Period.

Yes, it is entirely possible to lose weight and become fatter.  That is exactly what happens when you eat things like this.  Remember the discussion about breakfast foods and Glycemic index/Glycemic load foods? Yes, the one where we talked about how foods with high Glycemic loads will actually trigger your body to store fat. Guess what THIS cookie does? EEEEXXXAAAACTLY! Combine eating cookies/products like this and a reduced calorie diet and what happens? You store more fat, yet you are losing weight, uh I mean muscle. So the number on the scale goes down and the amount of fat tissue you have (relative to the lean muscle tissue) goes up, thus increasing your body fat percentage.  Why should you care if your body fat percentage goes up? Well, increased body fat can put you at an increased risk for certain diseases- diabetes, cancer, hypertension, atherosclerosis, joint issues and of course obesity! Yikes! Not what you had hoped for when you bought the cookie….

Do yourself a favor, put the cookie down, step away from the Weight Watchers display and learn how to eat real foods to make yourself healthier and happier.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Back to The the gym

Having spent some 15 years in the fitness industry as a personal trainer I have had the opportunity to attend many different seminars and continuing education talks and workshops.  It is always interesting to me to see the ‘newest’ toys and exercises that are featured. Learning new things is good..right? I mean it can give you new tools, skills or methods of dealing with things, help you reach a goal or specific result or perhaps just give you a new perspective.  I can’t help but to look around the room and wonder juts how many of these trainers are going to run home and throw this new ‘stuff’ at their clients first thing Monday morning.  Sigh

As a trainer in a facility with over 40 trainers I often feel the same way when we hire on new staff.  I feel very confident in the in-house training our staff undergoes as well as the ability of the existing trainers to relay and teach the information. What I am sometimes leery of is a new trainer’s ability to discern when to use the ‘fancy moves’ they are learning. 

This is an equal opportunity pitfall open to trainers and gym goers everywhere. We’ve all seen it.  In walks Jane Doe for her evening workout, magazine in hand carefully folded open displaying the fancy ‘new’ workout complete with fancy name and photos of body parts going in every direction.  She walks over to the dumbbell rack grabs a pair, steps up onto a BOSU, attempts to balance on one leg with her eyes closed and perform a one legged squat while curling and pressing the dumbbells over head.  The end result is anything but optimal.  Was it the exercise’s fault? Nope.  The magazine’s fault? Nope. Hmmmm, where did things go wrong?  Let’s step back and think first about Jane Doe’s goals.  What are they?  Weight loss? Sports performance? Is this exercise appropriate for her goals? If it IS an appropriate exercise selection then we move to step two: breaking it down. Is she proficient in each piece of the exercise- single leg balance on unstable surface, single leg squat on an unstable surface? Can she perform those well on a STABLE surface? Can she perform a dumbbell curl while on an unstable surface? How about an overhead press? This advanced move may be very appropriate for someone who has mastered each individual piece of the move- first on a stable surface –using both legs, then on a stable surface using one leg, then on an unstable surface with both legs, then with one and finally with their eyes closed. If the answer to all of these questions is ‘yes’ then by all means please proceed with your exercise.  If not, let’s start over. Let’s start at the point she is walking towards the dumbbell rack. 

I see it time and time again-grab a weight and do an exercise. Why? Because that is what everyone else is doing? That is always a great answer.  How many times have you seen an exercise being performed improperly and wondered if it would even be possible for the exercise to be executed WITHOUT any external load? Meaning, can the person properly execute the exercise using only their body weight?  Let’s get back to the basics and progress from there.  After all progressive overload is the premise of exercise, right?  If we start at the end point then where do we go from there- besides home after we get hurt!

Is it even possible to put together an a$$ kicking bodyweight workout? Oh hell yea.
Where do we start? Well, at the beginning of course.  Let’s build a program for someone looking for general fitness/weight loss.  Honestly, regardless of your goals, you should be able to perform a general bodyweight workout FIRST before jumping straight into an advanced specific training program.  Next we want to be sure to include all primal movement patterns: pull, push, squat, lunge, bend, and twist. Easy enough. Body weight row or pull up, push up, squat, lunge, dead lift pattern and any type of rotation. Depending on the ability of the client the twist may be built into one of the other patterns- the squat or the lunge or even the pull or push. 

I generally like to have clients do some type of general warm up such as run, walk, cycle, row or jump rope for 5-10 minutes and then perform a more specific warm up with movements that are a little more closely related to the exercises we will be using in their training session.  So let’s say Jane walks briskly on the treadmill for 10 minutes.  Then she will perform a more dynamic warm up using leg swings in the sagittal plane (forward and back) as well as frontal plane (side to side), walking high kicks, butt kicks, high knees, carioca, lateral lunges, squats, arm swings forward and back as well as with lateral flexion and walkouts or inch worms.  Depending on what a person is accustomed to doing in their training, this may be an entire training session!  Let’s say Jane makes it through this just fine.  Now we move on to the meat and potatoes of our session.  Remember her goal is general fitness/weight loss, so we will be performing these exercises in succession with little to no rest between until completing one round of each exercise. 

Four sets of the following with a minute rest between each set:
Body weight squats x 25 (squat to ball to maintain depth)
Step-ups alternating legs (or alternating lunges)x 30 seconds
Jump rope 1 minute

Rest 3 minutes

Next, three sets of the following with a minute rest between each set:
Push up to T-stance  x10
Body weight row x15
Jump rope 1minute

Rest 3 minutes

Then 5 sets of the following, rest as needed, but no more than 90 seconds
Burpee x10
Mountain climbers x30 seconds
High plank hold x 30 seconds

Rest 3 minutes

Top it all off with a 500-1000 meter row and you are D-O-N-E!

Using a plan like this, exercises can be regressed or progressed based on a client’s ability level and workload capability.  One size does NOT fit all.  Any monkey can pull exercises off of YouTube that look cool or write a program to just kick someone’s butt.  However, the ability to adequately evaluate a person’s readiness or ability level, and ascend or descend exercises accordingly takes quite a bit more knowledge. What do you do if you are training on your own? First, look at the general outline of the training plan.  Who or what is it geared toward? Strength, size, endurance, sport specific?  Does that match YOUR goal? If it does, carefully look at each exercise.  Can you break the exercises down into multiple parts? If so, can you properly perform each part before doing them together? If you answer no, then just start with each part by itself and go from there. 

Remember, the basics are there because they are the BASE of everything.  If you don’t have a solid base, chances are the rest of your program will come tumbling down- just like a house without a solid foundation.  Don’t go adding the roof or the skylight until the walls have been put in place. There is an order to building things, whether it is your house or your physique, be sure you are progressing properly.  Master the basics before you throw pain at the walls.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BREAKFAST: The Second Bite

Let’s take a quick run through the main points I made about breakfast:
·      Eating high Glycemic index/load meals will trigger fat storage response in your body (exception post trained state)
·      Eating high Glycemic index/load breakfast will cause this to happen following your NEXT meal as well- REGARDLESS of its content
·      Start logging what you put in your mouth..especially for breakfast

So you have been logging your food intake, what did you find? Reaching for the boxed cereal and juice for breakfast? Maybe a breakfast bar, fast food drive through or maybe you are skipping it all together? For some reason breakfast is the most challenging meal for a great number of people.  I hear it all the time from my clients: “I don’t know what to eat for breakfast” or “what ELSE can I eat?” I have a hard time not sighing or laughing- especially when this comment comes from someone with whom I have had this conversation a million times previously.  Well, you can eat whatever you want to eat.  But let’s step back and look at why we are eating breakfast and what we are trying to accomplish, maybe that will help us to choose more wisely.

Merriam Webster defines breakfast as the first meal of the day especially when taken in the morning.  Simple enough, right? No rules about what foods MUST be present or ones that must NOT be present. Breakfast literally means to break the fast of night. No rules about what we are trying to accomplish other than that, so I suppose that part is up to us. Ok, so we have to eat something when we get up in order to put a stop to the time we have spent fasting (while sleeping).  If that is all you want to accomplish, then by all means eat whatever you’d like and stop reading right now.  If you would like to continue on your path with health and fitness then we are going to have to set out some other rules or stipulations and you please continue reading.

Reducing body fat (or simply limiting its accumulation), preserving lean tissue (muscle), stabilizing blood sugar levels, and providing energy are only a few of the things we can accomplish with the proper fueling from breakfast.  What will it take to for this to happen? Well, first we will need a protein source as well as some carbohydrates and most likely some fat as well.  Not just any sources of these will do. We want lean protein sources, low Glycemic index/load carbohydrates and healthy fats.  (If you have not read my blog post BREAKFAST What is Yours Doing to YOU? You may want to stop now and gain the knowledge behind these statements) Are there other rules? Not really.  If you get up and exercise first thing in the morning then this may change a little, but let’s start here.

So we could have egg whites, and oatmeal with some almonds and walnuts.  We could have a whey protein shake with some oats, or quinoa with and whole egg and egg whites. What if we had chicken and sweet potato? Whoa! That isn’t breakfast!
Funny, that is the very reaction I get from most people when I make that suggestion.  All very interesting to me as no one seems to have a problem with having steak for breakfast, in fact you can find that on just about every breakfast menu around but mention chicken and all bets are off.  Somehow breakfast is acceptable at any time of the day, but lunch (or dinner) is not considered acceptable for breakfast.  Who made THAT decision?? Remember, as long as it fits in with what we are trying to accomplish it is fair game.  The possibilities are endless, really.  Kind of like Mr. Potato head there are different items (foods) that can be mixed around and put in different places (including breakfast). 

A simple place to start is with a list of lean proteins, low Glycemic index/load carbohydrates and healthy fat sources.  Lean proteins may include: egg whites, plain Greek yogurt, chicken breast, fish, turkey breast, venison, buffalo, certain cuts of red meat and protein powders. Low Glycemic carbohydrates may include: old fashioned oats, yams, sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, black beans, kidney beans, as well as most fruits and vegetables. Healthy fats should be rich in Omega 3’s: wild salmon, halibut, tuna, almonds and walnuts are some common sources.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather the basics, staples in your food plan if you will. 

So let’s go back to the question of what to have for breakfast. This should be simple enough.  Remember Mr. Potato head and pick something from each list.  So you could come up with egg whites, old-fashioned oats and salmon, or you could have plain Greek yogurt, yams and halibut.  You are probably laughing, but there really isn’t a ‘wrong way’ to combine these foods.  You are laughing because I am challenging your sense of what breakfast is.  Let’s be honest though, chances are pretty good that your rendition of breakfast, the paradigm you subscribe to, hasn’t been doing you any favors.  Right? Boxed cereal, milk, banana and coffee with cream, hmmmm.  What have you got to lose by shifting your paradigm? Oh, that’s right, some body fat.

Wait, stop right there.  I can hear what you are thinking.  You want more variety, right?  I hear it all the time from clients and people in general.  What is this all about?  Variety huh? Do me this favor.  Think about your job, whatever it is you do each day.  What is the end result? Exactly what is it that you are trying to accomplish? Got that? Ok, now tell me how many different ways you can get that done.  Probably not too many, right?  Sure there may be a few, but definitely not thousands of different ways.  What if I told you that there are only a limited number of foods that will help you to reach your goal and that eating foods other than that will NOT get you the results you are looking for.  Do you still want that variety? Is having so much to choose from a good thing?  I can name thousands of different things (read: variety) found in the Breakfast Foods isle in your local grocery store that I would not even THINK about having for breakfast. They definitely won’t get the job done.  Remember what you are trying to accomplish- health and fitness.  This is NOT an exercise to see how many different foods you can eat.

Merriam Webster defines variety as: the quality or state of having different forms or types. Ok, so different forms or types.  So chicken breast could be chicken breast, ground chicken breast, chicken breast burger, baked chicken breast, grilled chicken breast, broiled chicken breast, or boiled chicken breast. Italian seasoned chicken breast, chicken breast with mustard, garlic chicken breast, salt and pepper chicken breast or chicken breast with cinnamon. Wow, look at THAT variety!

Have you ever heard of the book by Dr. Wayne Dyer Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life? Yes, it even applies to your thoughts about food..especially breakfast.  Start now; redefine what breakfast is and what it is comprised of.  I promise you will NOT be disappointed!

Monday, August 15, 2011

40 miles, huh?

Yep, 40 miles. One at a time until there are no more.  That is the goal. Cross the finish line in an upright position. Not racing it, just running it.... to finish it.  Why 40? Well, why not?

It is so amazing to me what the human body and MIND are capable of doing.  I remember the first time I watched people coming across the finish line at a marathon.  I was simply amazed at the accomplishment..people running 26.2 miles..a body in motion for 3, or 4 or 5 hours, or more!  It is so great, and simply amazing all at the same time.  All you do is 'tap' and start the body in motion and it just keeps going until you tell it to stop.
Do you think YOU are capable of continuous motion- running or running/walking for 3, or 4 or 5 hours or more? I didn't. Thank you AGAIN Katie Wade, for helping me to see that I was indeed capable of doing just that.  Still, it amazes me every time. The gun goes off, I put one foot forward and just go..and go, and go and go until I reach the finish line.  Five miles, 10 miles, 20 or even 30, it doesn't matter, I just keep moving.
The body, while soo amazing, pales in comparison to the awe-inspiring capabilities of the mind.  What do you think keeps the body moving?? Yep, the mind. Together they ARE the race.  While there is no denying that there is a physical aspect to running/racing and I would never recommend entering a race without proper physical preparations, I do think we forget how important the mind is.  The gun sounds and the brain tells the body to move forward.  It continues moving until the BRAIN tells it to stop (barring a physical injury or impairment).  The feel of the race is also dictated by the mind.
Ever have a run where you just didn't feel great? Maybe your legs felt heavy or you just had a ton of things on your mind. What is different between that run and a run when you felt great or you felt unstoppable? Sure there may have been a small physical difference, but more often than not, I find the biggest difference is mindset.  Here are 2 examples: First, a marathon in which I was angered at the lack of organization and supplies - basically every aspect of the race upset me-right down to the wind and the sun.  All I could focus on was how bad the situation was. Guess what i got more of? Yep, negative feelings.  That race was horrible..or was it? My mindset was horrible.  It was so bad, in fact that I was nervous to run another race and have the same experience.  I knew my training had been great yet my performance was less than stellar. Second scenario - a 50k trail race. The race was actually 26 laps-YES, 26 laps of a 1.2 mile course.    Previous to this I had sworn up and down that I would never run a loop course.  I had run track for years and the thought of running in circles for hours (literally) was not something I wanted to do.  Regardless I entered the race as a few of Team Hot Legs were going anyway.  What the heck I thought, let's see if I can run 31 miles. My outlook going in was one of having fun.  A relaxed 31 mile run with friends.  After who-knows-how-many laps my left knee began to hurt.  I had sprained my left ankle not too long before and this was just another link in the chain that was being affected. It hurt quite a bit and I found myself focusing on it more and more..and guess hurt more and I started to second guess myself.  Thankfully at that moment another thought came racing through my head.  A positive thought. The thoughts about the relaxed fun run I was having with my friends.  I began to focus in on that more and more and before I knew it I was smiling and back to having a happy run.
Looking back on those races is interesting to me..I only remember the bad pieces of the marathon and only remember the good pieces of the trail run.  I KNOW I had positive moments (in the beginning) of the marathon and I KNOW I had negative moments in the trail race..but those were overshadowed by my dominant thoughts and mindset.  What does all of this mean?  Focus on having a great, fun, relaxing experience and you can..regardless of your circumstances.  That is one of the many awe-inspiring capabilities of the mind...
Our mind can be our biggest cheerleader or our biggest enemy..remember, YOU choose which it is.  Tell yourself a positive, powerful story and you will be amazed at what you can achieve. Tell yourself a sad, painful, maimed story and you will never know what you are capable of achieving. The choice is yours.
My choice? 40 miles...see you at the finish