Greatest Diet Sabotages by Amanda B Figge, MS, RD, LDN Part Deux

Boxed Foods. These items are convenient for storage but not so nice for your waistline. A few examples would include pasta, cereal, pizza, mac n cheese, hamburger helper, crackers, cookies and cake/muffin mixes. They’re all extremely processed versions of carbohydrates, contain more chemicals than actual food ingredients and have unnaturally long shelf-lives. I know what you’re thinking; there goes 50% of what I eat, Amanda. Maybe, that’s the problem. You’re eating way too much of it. Feeding the metabolism excessive carbohydrates, especially factory-produced ones, causes a rollercoaster ride of blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day. This is certainly not the ideal path one wants to take with weight loss on the mind.

Eating too Little. We’ve always been taught the golden formula for weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. In fact, it seems to be as easy as third grade math. Unfortunately, metabolism is not that simple and severely cutting back calories causes more harm than good. In general, consuming too few of calories will stall your metabolism, sometimes for the long-term. Why? Our bodies are smarter than you think. The body’s basic instinct is to survive and if you don’t feed yourself enough food, the natural defense is to conserve energy. Your metabolism now stores calories rather than burns them, which makes weight loss near impossible.

Too much fruit. Fruit and health are practically used synonymously. Fruit is an amazing source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but fruit also contains an abundant amount of natural sugar. Excessive intake of carbohydrates and sugars, even the natural ones, can cause blood sugar and insulin spikes and increase hunger. Now don’t run off on me and cut out fruit altogether. Make sure you always consume your fruit with a nice protein source such as eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, nuts or peanut butter and it might be a good idea to limit to no more than 2 servings a day. You can make up for the vitamins and minerals by increasing consumption of vegetables! If a ‘fruit item’ isn’t found in the produce section, then it probably isn’t the best of food choices. This goes for fruit snacks, fruit leathers, juices, jams/jellies, pie fillings and canned fruit in both heavy and light syrup.

Skipping Meals to Save Calories. “I don’t need a lunch today; we’re going out for a big dinner.” Sound familiar? I’m not sure where this idea of saving calories started (possibly Weight Watchers), but it needs to stop. Your body was meant to be fed every 3-4 hours and causing disruption to this pattern makes your metabolism very angry. So angry that when you eventually have your next meal, your body will aggressively store food as fat rather than burn it up for energy. Not to mention, if you skip lunch, you’re probably starving come dinner time and most likely will overeat. Regardless if your meal was a salad or a full rack of ribs, it’s going to be stored as fat. Does meal skipping still sound like a good idea?

Greatest Diet Sabotages by Amanda B Figge, MS, RD, LDN Part 1

New Year’s Resolutions. We break them as quickly as we make them and then viciously repeat the cycle over and over. While I don’t necessarily believe that life begins on the New Year (or a Monday for that matter), having goals regardless of when you make them is what it takes to become a better person than you were yesterday. Eating healthier and losing weight are the two most common resolutions I help people with. Unfortunately, the motivation for these goals often fizzles before lunchtime. That’s because there is more to weight loss than avoiding French fries and eating more vegetables. Lack of progress on the scale could unfortunately be the result of hidden sabotages, both diet and lifestyle-related.

Now, that I have your attention, hold on tightly as we explore where some of those potholes may be hiding in your diet.

Chemicals. One of the most basic principles I teach my patients is that we were born to only digest and process real food. We were never given the genetic coding to metabolize preservatives, fake sugars and plastic fats, food dyes or food modifiers. What this simply means is you should put more food in your body that was created by the earth and less food that was manufactured in a factory. Natural foods are the ones you will find in the produce section, eggs, fresh meat, seafood options and single ingredient foods found in the middle aisles of the grocery store. If you have to get out a high school chemistry book to identify the ingredients in a food product, then it is best to be left out of your grocery cart. Additionally, try to avoid substitution foods such as “low-fat” or “no sugar added” varieties. These are fancy ways of stating ‘we added more chemicals to your food to make the label look healthier’.

Focusing on Quantity instead of Quality. Portion control is always a great first step for weight loss. For those that have been chronically overeating, this measure will absolutely start shedding some pounds; however, most people are actually not eating enough. Therefore, eating less is not going to generate the result they desire. Another concern is that reducing portion sizes still doesn’t change the type of nutrients one is putting in the body. If you go from eating a full bagel at breakfast to ½ a bagel, you are still eating the same processed carbohydrate breakfast meal, just a little bit less. Sometimes, the key is to make a complete change in the routine. Swap the bagel for a veggie-packed omelet for a more nutrient-dense meal. This swap may not have changed the amount of calories, but you certainly improved the type of calories that will fuel your body. Newer research is showing that the quality of calories is becoming much more important than the amount of calories for improved metabolisms.

Sugar. This is usually one of the main culprits to sabotaging health goals. The reason why is because sugar is in everything, even our “health foods”. Sugar is one of the main ingredients added to foods to improve the flavor profile. For example, Greek yogurt sounds like a shoe-in for a healthy snack but did you know that a good majority of Greek yogurt brands contain more sugar than a serving of ice cream? The goal is not to give up sugar completely, but if you are consuming certain items on a daily basis such as coffee creamer, snack bars, peanut butter, yogurt, cereal or fruit-based products, it would be wise to re-evaluate the sugar content on the labels and make sure you’re going with the brand with the lesser amounts.

Don’t Tell Your Wife, But This is My Struggle to Not Lose Weight

Let me start off with a disclaimer, when I entered college I was 6’5” and 185lbs. When I graduated with my bachelors I was 6’7” and 200lbs. As of today’s date I float right around 225lbs. I am by no means an expert but after struggling to gain some good solid weight over the past few years, I have learned a lot about myself and my body along the way. At my “peak” I got up to 246lbs. I was eating between 4500 and 5000 calories a day, and about 90% of them were healthy. At the top end I was taking in over 300g of fat (cashews and almonds mostly), a lot of protein and a few carbs. This was a great way to gain some mass and get some size, but it was by no means sustainable. Eating became my job. I would eat from the time I woke up until the time that I went to bed. After competing at the Battle for the Hill competition and carrying a 60lb sandbag up the hill multiple times (over 300lbs then including my big self), I decided enough was enough and said this is too much.
At that point in time I found the eating blog of Donuts and Deadlifts. This program is based around macros (certain portions of protein, fats and carbs). You could eat whatever you wanted as long as you hit your macros. As somebody that had been eating primarily Paleo for the past 5 years this seemed like a win-win situation for me. As some of you know about me already, I have a slight affinity for donuts, and this program would allow me to lean out, lose some weight and eat donuts 3-4x per week, count me in! I lost 16lbs in about 5 weeks and felt great. Looking back on it now, it was not such a great idea as there were much healthier ways to lean out without having to load up on sugar all the time. I got back up around 230-235 about a year ago (once again trying to gain some size), but once again it wasn’t sustainable. Having to gorge myself all day long just wasn’t something I really looked forward to, so I talked to one of my coaches and got myself some new macro numbers to drop a couple pounds and lean out a little bit. Now I still enjoy my treats every now and then, but in much smaller quantities and much less often as well. I did it the right way this time, sticking with good whole foods and avoiding the pitfalls I made last time.
The biggest problem that I have (and I say problem loosely) is that I have to eat a ton of food and workout like crazy to not lose weight. I can hear all the ladies reading this groaning, “Oh wow, yeah what a good problem to have!” As someone that has worked very hard to gain the size, mass and weight that I have, this is a big problem. I was so skinny when I started college that I would turn myself sideways and almost disappear. The hardest part about gaining and eating healthy is just getting the calories required to put on some size. Like I said earlier, I eat about 90% Paleo with my non-Paleo foods being some grains for the calories and carbohydrates and a little bit of dairy for some fat. A typical day for me is as follows:
6am – 6 egg yolks + 3 whole eggs
1 cup oatmeal
Coffee with heavy whipping cream
9am – 2 servings of cashews
10:30 – Banana
Blueberry Rx bar
11:30 – BCAA shake
1pm – Syntha 6 double protein shake
50 additional grams of carbs (sweet potato mostly)
2pm – Lunch
6oz lean meat (chicken or 90% ground beef)
6oz mixed vegetables
2/3 cup brown rice
4pm – Lunch #2
6oz lean meat
6ox mixed vegetables
2/3 cup rice
6pm – Dinner
6oz lean meat
10oz mixed veggies
8pm – Syntha 6 double protein shake
My typical day as of today is around 4200 cals (give or take a couple hundred), and as you can see for the most part really healthy with a good mix of lean meats, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and some grains. My weight fluctuates on a daily basis, but I don’t care so much what the scale says as I do in terms of how I feel during the day and how I feel when I am working out. The scale is just there to make sure that I am not overeating or under eating. I haven’t kept track of my macros or weighed and measured my food in a while, but I have a good understanding of my optimal portion sizes and when all else fails, add more veggies to the plate and cut the chicken breast in half. This is not an ideal prescription of food for most individuals, but hopefully provides some insight from the other side of the story, for those of us that have to make eating our job and a high priority to stay where we are, versus cutting calories and doing hours of cardio in hopes of losing some weight.

Chiropractic and Athletics

Chiropractic and athletics have one amazing connection in philosophy.  The ultimate goal is to get the body to function at peak performance.  So, how does chiropractic improve performance?  The answer is in the nervous system.  The brain is the master control center sending messages down through the spinal cord to every cell, tissue and organ of the body.  The spinal cord is protected by the spinal bones called vertebrae.   Due to our daily postures, repetitive movements, birth trauma or any other form of trauma, these bones can become fixed, or subluxated, and apply pressure to the nerves.  This pressure restricts the impulses being sent from the brain to the body, which can reduce the body’s ability to function optimally.  Chronic subluxations and a lack of mobility can lead to increased degeneration in the joints and herniated discs.  Your body is capable of functioning at 100% health, but when there is an injury or insult, it is unable to function at its full potential.  Your body frequently undergoes a breakdown and you may begin to express symptoms like pain.  As a chiropractor, our job is to remove these interferences, symptomatic or not, to allow the body to function at 100% health.  As an athlete, having your nutrition on track is a key to optimum performance.  Also, eating an anti-inflammatory diet and staying away from processed foods provides the proper fuel your body requires for healing.

All types of athletic performance can be helped through chiropractic care.  Postural improvements can aid in better joint function as well as better cardiovascular performance.  A reduction in joint pain and better joint ROM and flexibility can be achieved through chiropractic care.  This can be related to the spinal joints, or to any joint of the body.  A reduced risk of injury and a better and faster recovery after an injury can also be noted when under chiropractic care.

A study titled “Chiropractic Effects on Athletic Ability” found that the subluxation complex can exist without the manifestation of symptoms and still cause a decrease in the body’s ability to perform to its full potential.  It has been shown that chiropractic may be able to enhance athletic ability through treatment when the goal of that treatment is to diagnose and correct the existing subluxation complexes, symptomatic or not.

This, however, poses the question: How many professional, collegiate and weekend warriors alike have been performing below their true potential due to existing asymptomatic subluxations and believe they are at peak performance because they are well-trained, fit and without any symptoms or debilitating injury?

Lauro, A, Mouch B. Chiropractic Effects on Athletic Ability.  The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation. 1991; 6(4):84-87

 

Sleep is Crucial

Let’s start by reflecting back on your life up to this point.  Let’s say you are 30 years old and have had a lot of life experiences and done and seen a lot of really cool things.  If this is true, you will have lived for 262,080 total hours.  Now picture this, we ideally spend, on average, 1/3 of our lives asleep (assuming we get an average of 8 hours of sleep per night).  What this means is that we will spend about 87,360 hours of our 30 years asleep.  Now this number of course changes a bit because we sleep more as a child and probably less in the high school and college years, but for simplicity sake let’s assume that 8 hours per night is the norm.

What all this math really means is that you have 8 hours of your day to either help your neck and back or hurt your neck and back by sleeping properly or improperly.  If you spend 8 hours in a really crappy position you are more than likely going to wake up stiff, sore or in pain.  The opposite also holds true, when done well and properly you will wake up refreshed and ready to go.  This article will talk about how sleep affects our overall health and our lives.

Sleep is basically our version of a reset button on a laptop or phone.  It allows our process that have been going going going all day long to reset themselves and for us to recharge our batteries to be better able to tackle the next day ahead.  If you are sleeping poorly, or just simply not getting enough sleep this will, obviously, not be ideal to being able to fully function come morning again.  Whether you are a night owl who stays up too late watching reruns of Seinfeld or binge watching the latest season of Sons of Anarchy, either way your body is getting all messed up.  Our bodies and our natural circadian rhythm are set by the rising and setting of the sun.  If you are spending hour after hour watching TV or playing on your tablet into the wee hours of the night you are essentially screwing up your internal clock.  Research suggests unplugging at least 1 hour before bed to allow melatonin levels to rise enough to optimal levels to get you to go to sleep.   Another more radical version suggests going camping for a week straight.  Allowing your body to go to sleep with the setting sun and wake up with the rising sun basically resets your internal clock and in this study in particular allowed the participants to go to sleep 2 hours earlier, which matched up better with their biological clocks.  Hopefully this will at least get you to think twice about starting an episode of your favorite show late at night or playing on Facebook all night long.

Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Although neck pain can be caused by injury, such as ‘whiplash’ injuries, it is often caused by the cumulative effect of improper sitting posture, reading in bed, poor work habits, stomach sleeping, lack of proper exercise and other lifestyle-related factors. All of these factors cause misalignments in the cervical spine and eventually pain. The most important factor producing neck pain is spinal misalignments. Even for people who complain that “stress” is causing their pain, the great majority of those have significant spinal misalignments that are contributing to their condition.

If these go uncorrected for periods of time, these spinal misalignments can eventually cause neck pain. As a spinal misalignment worsens, pressure can be put on the nerves, sending the surrounding neck muscles go into painful and movement-limiting spasm, headache, even numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or hands.

There are a couple different types of headaches that can present.  The first, and most common, are tension type headaches.  They can occur in anyone and are the result of over contraction of the muscles of the neck and scalp.  Stress, anxiety and depression can cause this contraction, or any activities that keep the head held in one position for an extended period of time.  Some examples would be computer use, working with the hands or playing on a cell phone or tablet.

Another type we encounter is a migraine.  This is a disorder involving recurrent headaches which can be associated with other symptoms such as: aura (preliminary warning), nausea, light and sound sensitivity and dizziness.  About 6/100 people are affected by these and that number seems to be on the rise.     

Headaches

Headaches can come in many shapes and sizes and can stem from many different causes.  Here are some of the more common types and what they are associated with.

Cluster headaches affect one side of the head (unilateral) and may be associated with tearing of the eyes and nasal congestion.  They occur in clusters, happening repeatedly every day at the same time for several weeks and then remitting.  Cluster headaches are a fairly common form of chronic, recurrent headache.  Unlike migraines, they affect men more often than women.  They can affect people of any age but are most common between adolescence and middle age.  There does not seem to be a pattern among families in the development of cluster headaches.  Cluster headaches occur as a severe, sudden headache.  The onset is sudden, and it occurs most commonly during the dreaming (REM) phase of sleep.

The common migraine is a disorder involving recurrent headaches, which may be accompanied by symptoms other than headache but which rarely include a preliminary warning (called an aura).  Migraine headaches affect about 6 out of 100 people.  They are a common type of chronic headache.  They most commonly occur in women and usually begin between the ages of 10 and 46.  Migraines occur when blood vessels of the head and neck spasm or constrict, which decreases blood flow to the brain.  Minutes to hours later, the blood vessels dilate (enlarge), resulting in a severe headache.  Inflammation around the blood vessels also occurs in some cases.  Common migraine may be accompanied by symptoms other than headache but only rarely includes any preceding symptoms (aura).  Migraines may also appear as classic migraine (a migraine preceded by other symptoms) and other rare forms.  Multiple mechanisms trigger the spasm and subsequent blood vessel dilation.

One of the more common types is a tension headache.  It involves pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck, usually associated with muscle tightness in these areas.  They can occur at any age, but are most common in adults and adolescents.  If a headache occurs two or more times weekly for several months or longer, the condition is considered chronic.  Tension headaches result from the contraction of neck and scalp muscles.  One cause of this muscle contraction is a response to stress, depression or anxiety.  Any activity that causes the head to be held in one position for a long time without moving can cause a headache.  Such activities include typing or use of computers, fine work with the hands, and use of a microscope.  Sleeping in a cold room or sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position can also trigger this type of headache.  Other causes include spinal misalignment, eye strain, fatigue, alcohol use, excessive smoking, excessive caffeine use, sinus infection, nasal congestion, overexertion, colds, and influenza.  Tension headaches are not associated with structural lesions in the brain.