So here we go again... a New Year is upon us and many of us scramble around trying to imagine our lives in perfect order and everything is in cosmic alignment. Hate to burst your bubble, but no one's life is ever going to be perfect... let's settle for great! :)
I don't like New Year resolutions - I think they're a set-up for failure because they're often so broad there is no way (or a very slim margin that) they can be accomplished. And the failure of living up to our good intentions often is downright depressing which - for some - can lead to a downward spiral. Who needs THAT?! I certainly don't and doubt you do either.
So let's do this for the New Year: Let's set Smart GOALS!
A Smart Goal is a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Restricted Goal. If I were to set a goal of being able to run a full marathon on April 19th (Boston Marathon Day), that wouldn't work because it is Specific and Measurable but it is NOT Attainable or Realistic for me... being that I don't currently run at all! What would be a Smart Goal is to run a 5k by April 19th and to set my sights on that attainable, realistic and time related goal.
I rejoined the YMCA on Monday evening. It felt darn good to walk in that door again, plunk down my hard earned cash and have a goal in mind and be doing something about achieving that. When I went home, I finally took the time to scan through my "On Demand" section of my cable stations and found that Gaiam TV is free for me with my subscription and has a huge array of yoga, aerobic, pilates, kick boxing (by Jillian Michaels!), and more classes/routines. I'll be using those as well.
- Get to the YMCA every Saturday, Monday, Wednesday.
- Work out at home every Thursday, Sunday.
- Walk 2 miles daily (I have my dog, Ruari, to walk, anyway, so this is fairly easy for me to check off).
- Eat no more than 1200-1300 calories daily and lean toward whole foods wherever possible.
I was happily down 1.5 lbs. this morning when I stepped on the scale. I am sure it was a lot of show shoveling and the Walk Away The Pounds DVDs I've been using. Oh, and cutting out the junk I ate over the holidays and replacing it with healthy food! That *may have* had something to do with the loss! I hope all the challengers for January Jump In are feeling positive and have your goals written down. Let me know in the Comments or on Twitter if you need some encouragement. :)
I found the quote below today and think it is perfect for those of us with Vision Boards and goals written to help us achieve our goals!
Here's to a great week for us! :)
Dream. Believe. Achieve!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal
If there has been one thing I have learned in the last four years since starting my weight loss and fitness journey it is this: you have to set GOALS for your own success. And you have to WRITE THEM DOWN! If you don't write them down in a journal or make a dream board, you may as well be wishing. And we can all wish, but wishing doesn't make the pounds come off or your BMI go down. Just sayin'...
So as I'm beginning the New Year, I'm not out wining and dining today, I'm home blogging and journaling because I KNOW that if I just think about the goals I want, nothing will happen. I have to have them there before me - confronting and challenging me - every single day.
So here comes the January Jump In (#hlgJumpIn) actions that I am taking. It falls into four easy criteria that you can modify however you want to best fit your health level if you'd like to join the challenge for this month:
- Hydrate. I plan to drink 1/2 my body weight every day in water. If you don't like plain water, you can drink unsweetened tea or water with lemon or lime. Whatever will get you to stay hydrated without carbonation or sugar works.
- Plan and track. Planning my food has always been difficult for me for whatever reason. To alleviate "falling off the planning wagon" I make the first month's food fairly similar. I eat a lot of chicken and salmon, salad greens and veggies (both raw and cooked into meals), fruit, low fat yogurt and simple grains. I try to stay away from cheese and cut down on mayo, sauces. And then as soon as I have eaten something, I track it. There are so many great apps available as well as websites that allow you to track (and plan) your foods but I usually use an old favorite, FitDay.com. Free and easy to use and has a vast food list for nutrition and calorie counting. My calorie allotment daily is between 1250 to 1400 calories.
- Move, move, move. I will be walking a total of 15-20 miles a week. This works for me but you can move in any way you know will work for you and that you can stick with. In the dead of winter you're not going to find me walking outside except with my lab on those "doggie necessary" walks. : ) But, I walk on the treadmill at the YMCA or Cambridge Athletic Club and have Walk Away the Pound DVDs to walk to in the privacy of my own home. I will be firming up my sagging arms with the help of a kettle bell and stand alone weights. I use a balance wheel, a stability ball and Lisa Johnson's Pilates' DVD in my own home, too. There really is no excuse to not get some activity in daily with the online and at home sources we have available to us!
- Be accountable to others. Tell everyone you know that you're changing your lifestyle and taking time for yourself. And I do mean everyone! Friends, co-workers, social media buddies. If your friends give you a hard time about getting healthy, you might ask yourself how good of friends they are to not support you in your goals. And if you just had the thought "what if I tell my friends and then fail", all I can tell you is GET THAT THOUGHT OUT OF YOUR HEAD. You need to remain positive and upbeat no matter how hard it may feel. You're telling everyone so they'll support you and - if necessary - you can prove it to them and to YOU that you are going to SUCCEED! There is no other game plan here except to plan on succeeding.
Crystal Light for the oh-so-fun package that arrived after I was named a finalist in the #SqueezeATweet contest where you had to squeeze a soap opera tweet and mention the new Crystal Light liquid flavors in 140 characters! Was so fun to come up with a tweet and be one of the finalists!
I received three new Crystal Light flavors which are meant to be added to your water. I won't use them so thought - if anyone would like to enter a weekend giveaway drawing - I'll send them off to three blog readers!
If you would like to be entered in the HealthyLoserGal giveaway (to be drawn on Monday, 8/19) please do the following:
1) Leave a comment with your top choice, your second choice and your third choice here on the blog
2) Follow @HealthyLoserGal on Twitter and Facebook
3) Post the following on Twitter and Facebook: "I've entered @HealthyLoserGal's #giveaway for @CrystalLight liquid on her blog. Check it out & join in at www.healthylosergal.com"
I'll announce the winners on Monday and will need your email address to get in touch with you should you win! You can send me an email with your email addy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's all there is to it! Enjoy your weekend and good luck!
Here's to our health!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal
I'm a fan of Tony Robbins and have been for years and years. I have loved and believed in his quote below:
So... here are the #hlgAugALLin challenge details:
Labels: August All In , believe in yourself , brian tracy , Challenge , dream believe achieve , fitness , free weights , Goals , Healthy Loser Gal , HealthyLoserGal , morbidly obese , tony robbins , walking , Weight Loss
All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.If you follow the blog or have seen my tweets, you must know I am a big believer in "Dream. Believe. Achieve!". : ) I've just completed a new DREAM BOARD (also called a Vision Board) as I'm embarking on a new chapter in my life as I return to my fitness and health disciplines and as I embark on a very exciting new healthy business venture! It was time for me to renew my goals and dreams in my own life, to think about "what do I *really* want in my life", "where do I want to be in one year, two years, five years", "if I weren't worried about (fill in the blank), I would...". I absolutely love having a dream board because I KNOW the dreams on the board, with action put behind them, and belief in yourself and (for me) God and the universe to bring you the dreams you have, and deep gratitude for what you already have becomes dreams realized. Four years ago I put up my 2009 dream board as my background on Twitter because I knew - that way - I would see it every day, a couple of times a day, and would be reminded of what my dreams were... where I was focusing my energy and momentum. I have purposefully left that board up for you to take a look at because I have achieved 75 percent of the goals I once thought "out of reach". 75%!!
So let's get started so that you can begin making your own Dream Board and allow great things to appear in your life, too.
1. Find something to use as a "board"... it can be an old white paper bag, or a poster board, or a piece of foam board that you can buy for under $2 in most office supply stores. It can be whatever size you feel you'd like it to be... mine is foam board and BIG! :) You'll need scissors and a glue stick and a stack of old magazines or newspapers or wherever you can find inspiration!
2. Lay back, close your eyes and DREAM! What do you really want in your life? Be specific! Do you have fitness goals? Do you want to be able to walk a mile without having to stop? Do you want to skydive? Do you want to be a marathoner? (Remember, even if you can't walk 1/4 mile now, you can STILL believe in yourself and your ability to achieve ANY dream, so if you want to run a marathon... that is a dream/goal for you to write down!) You don't have to know now how it is going to come true, just add it to your dreams! Now... what about your personal life? Are you happy in your relationships? Do you wish you could see your family more? Do you wish you had more girlfriends? What about your finances? Do you wish you were able to afford new outfits every season? New running shoes? A vacation home on a lake? A second car? A motor home? A trip to Australia? Whatever YOUR DREAMS are - they are your dreams and worth going after. No one else has the right or the ability to dismiss your dreams. You get to hold onto them, believe in them, believe they can and WILL come true.
3. Write the dreams and goals down. Big and small. Make a list and date it. (You're going to put this list into an envelope and paste the dated envelope on the back of your dream board!)
4. Now begin paging through your magazines and materials and cut out everything and anything that appeals to you or attracts you. Words that mean something to you personally, images of people doing things that are part of your goal. You'll see in the photos that I have cut out a photo of a woman jumping up onto a high box. I cannot do this yet. (Note the "yet"!) But I have a goal to do this and I will do this. And the photo is a reminder of this goal. When I see it now every morning, I say to myself, "I've GOT that!" That positive attitude may take a little work for some people at first, but attitude is like a muscle, it may hurt a little and feel uncomfortable for a little bit, but pretty soon that positive nature and attitude will be second nature to you and not feel odd at all. We ALL want to be positive people, that is how we feel best - when we're smiling and happy.
5. Start a big pile of all your dream photos and words, phrases and begin to lay them out on your board. I segregate my dream board a little because it is so big... I have a personal fitness side, the middle is about dreaming, believing, and achieving, and the other side is about financial, relationship and business goals I have for myself. But you should organize your dream/vision board however you feel best it works for you!
6. Finally, starting pasting down the photos. I paste and say to myself with each photo or phrase I put down "This dream of jumping on a high box will come true before (and then insert a date) and I will be so excited to have achieved this goal! Thank you, God!" Sounds a little crazy at first, but I learned this part of the process from reading Jack Canfield's "The Success Principles" and it seems to have changed how I look at each phrase or photo to being able to single them out individually in my mind and know their intent.
7. When your board is dry, turn it over and paste the back of an envelope to the board and fold up your list of dreams/goals and put it into the envelope, dated. Let it dry and then find a place you can put your dream board every single day. If you want to hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall, a cheap, easy way to make a hanging hook is to take a large paperclip and bend the top outward, taking a piece of duct tape and taking the flat part of the paperclip to the back of your Dream Board.
It is best to hang or place the board where you'll see it multiple times a day. Take a photo of it and use the photo as your desktop wallpaper and your smartphone background. Print the photo out and stick it on your frig as a reminder of your dreams and goals.
People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.
Good luck with your dream board. I would LOVE to see photos of them on my HealthyLoser Gal Facebook wall! : ) If you have any questions, leave me notes in the comments here and I'll get back to you with an answer as best I can!
Here are a few additional resources that I like about Dream Boards and Vision Boards:
From Jack Canfield: http://jackcanfield.com/how-to-create-an-empowering-vision-book/
From Oprah: O Dream Board: Envision Your Best Life
Jan / HealthyLoserGal
Labels: believe in your dreams , believe in yourself , brian tracy , dream believe achieve , dream board , Goals , HealthyLoserGal , jack canfield , Motivation , oprah , quotes , Success , vision board
Then the voice message came two evenings before I was due to fly home to Boston. My brother's voice sounded tense and filled with worry. "Hi, Jan. Could you give me a call when you get this message. It is about 4pm out here. Call as soon as you can. I'd appreciate it. Okay, bye." He seemed to have totally forgotten I was away in Ireland. His "out here" meant the time of day in Seattle, Washington, so PST. I was GMT in Ireland. It was 4pm in Seattle... it was 12 midnight in Ireland and when his call came in I was fast asleep with no cell coverage until the next day.
My 85 year old mother had fallen and had been taken by ambulance to the hospital despite her protestations. Since the 4th of July weekend of last year, I had been worried about her rapid decline in mental capability as was her friend who stopped in daily to help her around the house. We'd accompanied my mom to her doctor to explain the deterioration we'd experienced and to let her know my mother's weight had dropped dramatically in the past four months. That doctor visit she sailed through the short dementia / Alzheimer's testing administered verbally, much to the wide-eyed surprise of both my mom's friend and me. Not convinced, I began doing online research and found that the same cells of your brain affected by dementia also trigger your hunger response. My mother ate breakfast out of habit, but the rest of the day she simply had stopped eating. "I'm not hungry!" she'd snap at me when I tried to ask her over the phone what she'd been eating during the week. Before I left for Ireland I made her three weeks of food, labeled every one, how to reheat or prepare it, left a schedule taped to her refrigerator door, and asked her to promise me - hungry or not - that she would eat the food every day. I even called her twice from Ireland to check in - noting she'd admitted she'd been sleeping a lot - and she couldn't tell me what she'd eaten that day.
With the news from my brother of her fall, I returned home a day early from Ireland and spent the first day back in Boston at home after having checked in with the hospital and my mom's attending physician. No need to rush right there, they assured me... they were running tests and she wouldn't be checking herself out as I was her health proxy.
While I'd been in Ireland I had been able to have dinner with a dear friend and I had explained to him the health condition of my mom and my concerns. "It is all a part of life," he said to me, "and as her daughter you are helping her transition from this life to the next. You'll do a fine job."
I held onto that statement for the past nine months like a lifeline. "You are helping her transition from this life to the next." I vowed to myself to do whatever I could possibly do for her to allow her to 'transition' with dignity and respectfully and made decisions with her, when possible, and for her as I believed she would have made them for herself had her mind been capable. I was blessed in that, if there could be good timing, she was hospitalized just as a six week sabbatical from my job had been planned upon my return from my trip.
My mother's dementia robbed her of short term memory completely. She always remembered me, which I am grateful for, but she never remembered that I had been with her an hour before, a day before, or the prior weekend before. She did thoroughly understand important decisions needed to be made (for example we talked at length about her funeral and what her wishes were and how I was handling things at her home, with her finances, and her cat's well being) but yet she couldn't tell you if she'd done any activities with other residents that same day or if she'd had physical therapy an hour previously. She had no interest in reading, watching favorite television shows, or socializing with anyone.
The one thing she never forgot, however, is that she wanted 'to go home' to her own house and that the nursing home had better be just a temporary place until she was well enough to resume her independent living. The doctors and nurses suggested that allowing my mom to believe she would be going home 'someday' was not necessarily a bad thing. They were worried about depression and so - whenever asked - I would say 'well, as soon as you're a little stronger, Mom, I think we'll be able to talk with the doctor about going home".
The past nine months for me were filled with many hours in the car between Boston and Saratoga Springs, New York. During the week I was often on the phone twice with the doctor and nursing staff to hear their weekly report and then - over the weekends - I would arrive and spend time with Mom at the nursing home (she was blessed to be admitted to a wonderful home with caring staff), in the early months we would be able to go out to lunch or she was able to walk with help of her walker outside with me and we'd sit and talk in the sun in the fall weather. We'd have lunch and dinner together usually on Saturdays and Sundays and then I would drive home. Around Christmas time she lost the ability to correlate that when she heard the phone in her room ringing, that meant she should pick up the phone, answer it and talk with whoever was on the call. If an aid or a nurse were in her room, I would be able to reach her - but it wasn't too long before I could only reach her during the week to 'check in' by calling the nurses' station and asking them to carry a portable phone to her room so we could chat.
I worried a lot. I fretted over decisions I had to make about testing for possible anemia and possible cancer of the blood. I ate hospital food and began to think that I really liked the little plastic tapioca pudding cups. I never exercised. I stopped counting calories and fell back into old bad habits where food - late at night after driving home to Boston - was comfort.
Two months ago Mom lost the cognitive ability to remember to swallow food that she'd been fed and had chewed. I spent four days with her over Memorial Day and was cutting up her food and feeding her when I realized this. She wasn't swallowing. The same day I spoke to the staff about calling in hospice after my cousin, who is a retired head nurse from a Florida Alzheimer's unit, suggested I think about it. One of the charge nurses I had grown to trust and ask advice of, suggested the same. Hospice came the next morning.
The four days over Memorial Day weekend were exceedingly difficult for both my mother and myself. I knew the 'transition from this life to the next' was not far off. My brother and sister were trying to plan when they would arrive to visit. Mom and I did have some very good moments together during those days... I would sing her old favorite songs of her's and when I'd stop, she'd continue singing the verse... it was sweet. We talked about my having gone to the family graves and having put flowers in all the urns, something Mom and I did routinely together for many years. I showed her the photos of the flowers and she was glad to see them. At one point we were sitting together and I'd been reading to her and she said to me, "You've been a good girl this weekend, Jan... thank you.". I felt like I was ten years old and smiled at her, realizing that in her mind, perhaps that was about the age she saw me at in that moment. "...helping her transition..." was always in my mind as I struggled with my own emotions of losing my mother.
On Monday of Memorial Day Weekend I left her room to drive back to Boston about 7pm. She'd slept most of the day from pain medication that she'd begun earlier in the week but I'd stayed in the room with her, reading, so that when she woke up, she saw me there. I'd explained to her that it was Monday and I would be back on Friday, only four days away. Mom had liked that it was only a few days off before I would be back and looked at me quite clearly, her blue eyes very fixed on my face, and thanked me for doing everything that I had done for her. She made it clear from her look and her tone she wanted me to hear her thanking me. I heard it and absorbed it and explained she didn't need to thank me, she was my mother, I was her daughter, and - of course - I would take care of her. I leaned down and kissed her as she turned up her lips to me to be able to do that. I told her I loved her and she said "I love you, too, Jan." I smiled at her and slipped out.
On Thursday of the same week I had emergency eye surgery. My eye doctor called the emergency room from his office and told them to prep the OR for me, I was on my way. I cried in his office and explained I could not have the surgery, my mom was dying. He explained that I had to have the surgery- that day!- or I could potentially lose my site. Thursday and Friday I was face down into a special pillow to save my eyesite. Saturday morning I put on the eye patch my son had gotten for me at the pharmacy and drove myself to Saratoga to see Mom.
I stopped first at her house to pick flowers from her gardens to bring to her. I was worried my eye patch would scare her and slipped it off (even though my eye was swollen shut) and put my glasses on and stepped into her room to see she was sleeping. I put the flowers on Mom's bedroom dresser and stepped over to her bed to rouse her, saying "Hi, Mom... I'm here...", and leaned down to kiss her, hearing her breath as I lowered my face.
And then she was gone. I felt her presence with me as I called my brother, my sister, and my son from her room to tell them Mom had left us and that I was there for that transition.
My birthday was the following day.
I became acutely aware that my mother had spent nine months bringing me into this world and I had spent nine months helping her leave this world. And the dates were a day apart.
It is now a month later. I had planned to take this week off from work as vacation as I usually do and decided, even though I have been out of the office with my mom's wake and funeral and my own recovery from eye surgery, that I needed this week to be here in the house I grew up in by myself to regroup and make a push to get a lot of estate business taken care of.
I have spent nine months pushing my health and my fitness onto a very back burner. I knew I was doing it and could only do what I was emotionally and physically able to do in those months. I rarely blogged, seldom tweeted, and was on the HLG Facebook page sporadically, at best. (Oh, and I started a new job in December!) But now I can turn my attention back to myself and regaining my health and losing the additional weight I gained while eating hospital food and fast food on the road. Could I have made better choices - absolutely. Did I? No.
And I was dreading writing this blog post tonight - as long and as soul bearing as it is - I dreaded it because I knew that this very act of blogging honestly tonight would lead me to be fully back and committed again to myself. No more excuses. No more 'putting it off'.
Commit and be accountable. I am ready. It begins now.
I have 50 pounds to lose to get back to my goal weight. My intention is that I will hit that goal in nine months. That is my pledge to myself and to you (if anyone has been able to read through this whole, very long blog post). I need to get back into my fitness regime. My arms are so pathetic again - but I know that if I have done it before, I can (and will!) do it again.
I am no stranger to hard work and perseverance. I know what it takes to get the weight off and my fitness level up. And I'm ready. And I could use your support. I would like to be able to support you, too, with the goals you've made for yourself, so let me know what they are in the Comments. We can do this. We're worth the effort and the determination it will take. Are you with me?
Dream. Believe. Achieve.
Jan / HealthyLoserGal
|My Mom (age 86) and me in late November, 2012|
I hope you'll join me this month in the Awesome April challenge which is all about "rising" in two ways... rising in the morning and rising to the challenge. And it is about "shining". In this month you're going to conquer (or be on your way to conquering) something that you didn't think you could do. It doesn't have to be a HUGE goal... but it does have to be something that perhaps only you - in the very depths of your thoughts - realize that you need to change in order to true SHINE!
If you're anything like me (and it is scientifically proven), you slow down your pace in the winter months. I slowed down to the point of hardly exercising at all and have every excuse in the book to give you if you'd like to know why! *grin* But I'm planning to 'rise' off the couch and 'rise' out of bed in the morning and find my exercise renewed in April.
Here are the challenge details:
Rise up 30 minutes earlier than you are now. Now I *know* this is going to be difficult for those of you who already do wake up at the crack of dawn and may have classes or kids or a husband or ... (you fill in the blank) to take care of the moment you open your eyes. If this is the case, then you need to find 30 minutes every day AT THE SAME TIME that is just for you. It is proven that if you can keep a new routine for 40 days (so May 10th for us if you start the challenge on April 1st), then it becomes habit and no longer may seem like a chore.
In those 30 "rise and shine" minutes you're going to dedicate yourself to renewing yourself in the month of April somehow. I'll be walking and planning out my day in my head. You might write in a journal or write out your goals for the day. If you're just starting to exercise, begin slowly but you might start by doing a short walk around your block or an at-home walking dvd or beginner's exercise dvd. If you're exercising now and feel confident in that way, then give yourself 30 minutes of meditative time... quiet your inner-self and just listen to what your heart is telling you might be one way in which you could renew yourself.
Now, the second part of the challenge is all about SHINING. If I were to have you write out an answer to a question and no one (but yourself) would ever see it, how would you answer the following question:
To be truly content and feel good about myself, the one thing I know I need to work on is (fill in the blank).
What was that one thing you JUST thought of? THAT is what you need to rise and shine and meet this challenge to work on. Do you need to stop watching too much television? Do you need to stop drinking soda, diet soda, alcohol? Do you need to start eating less, stop eating processed foods? Stop your Friday night pizza (oops... that one was for me!). Do you need to set an exercise goal and then stick to it? You know what it is. In the next 30 days, make a plan for yourself to conquer and rise above what is holding you back from feeling content and good about YOU! If you need help from a friend to do so...ask for the help. If you need to see your doctor, go see her. If you need some inspiration when you're feeling down, I'm a comment or a tweet or an email away. (And I may need some encouragement from you, too!) : )
You CAN rise above your fears and have an awesome April. We all can do it together.
So? Who is "in" for the Rise and Shine Awesome April challenge? We've got this! :)
Here's to our health friends!
HealthyLoserGal / Jan
PS: Use hashtag #hlgAwesomeApril on Twitter to post comments and encourage other challengers. Thanks!
I have long believed that the more whole, unprocessed food we can eat, the better off we are, the better we feel, the better our bodies will 'work'. Friends on Twitter know that I often use the #Farm2Table hashtag to promote both farms and whole foods. When I read the following article from Dr. Dwight Lundell, a cardiac surgeon who practiced in Arizona, it all made perfect sense to me, so I am passing along his article for you to think about, too. I contacted Dr. Lundell and asked his permission before I posted this and he said he'd be honored. : )
We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience and having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.
I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labeled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.
The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.
It Is Not Working!
These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.
The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.
Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.
Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.
Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.
Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.
What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well, smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.
The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.
What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.
Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. You kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.
Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.
While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.
How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?
Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.
When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.
What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.
While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.
Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell – they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.
If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.
Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.
To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.
There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.
There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.
One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.
Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labeled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.
The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.
What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.
A repeat from 12/31/11 but just as true today as a year ago! : )
I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions... I am more likely to make a resolution in the Fall when the pressure to make them is off since I often feel like the Fall is when New Year *should start*. :) And when I do make a resolution, I don't make a lofty one any longer that I know I won't be able to keep. I have kept journals and diaries since I was in my early teens and looking back on past resolutions is both funny and sad.
"I will lose 80 lbs. by the first week of June", I wrote in 2004. I didn't. I gained weight that year. That was the year of my son's high school graduation.
"I will lose 100 lbs. by May 1st of this year" I wrote on January 1st, 2008. I didn't. I lost 12. That was the year of my son's college graduation and I still wince when I look at the few photos of me on that joyful day.
In March of 2009 I wrote. "I am going to reclaim myself. I have 100 lbs. to lose. I am going to lose 5 lbs. this month. I am going to begin to walk again. I will do this." I lost 18 lbs. that month, I believe. I began to walk 1/4 mile around the local high school track and was darn proud of doing it. After the first five pounds were lost, and then the next five pounds, I celebrated 10 lbs. here on the blog. And then the next ten pounds. And then the next five when I hit 25 lbs. gone. The small changes, the small goals, the rewards for small achievements gained worked for me. I believe they will work for you, too, friends!
Dream ~ Believe ~ Achieve!
December is going to hold GREAT THINGS for me and – if you want to join me – for you, too! My intention is to jump back into the sane, planned, ordered life where I give as much attention to my own health and happiness as I do to those around me. My past two months of vegging in front of mindless television at night because I am just so exhausted from facing life’s challenges are OVER! Done! Caput! (Is that a word? lol) I have had some major challenges the past few months and I am ashamed at the way I pushed my health and fitness to the back-burner and fell victim to old, bad habits.
|Okay, not THAT kind of Amazonian!|
|Health.com photo credit|