SMART Goals: Settle for Good, Get Great or Chase Perfection?

smart goals

I think modern consumerism has gone and shot itself in the foot this time. All our resolutions (or regular ol’ goals) are still fresh and fulfilled, we’re not even a week into January yet, but my local grocery store already has hearty (heart-‘y’! I seize the opportunity to make bad puns when I can ūüôā ) displays of chocolates, Valentines, and balloon hearts to smack us all in the face when we enter the store! Not that I am anti-love, but I guess the candy companies and Hallmark didn’t realize that the diet/weight-loss industry and gym chains are trying to capitalize on the idea of the “fresh start”. I don’t think candy and chocolates go together with the typical resolution to “lose weight”. Careful now junk food industry, don’t make the weight-loss industry mad!

Okay…this was not intended to be a rant, just thought I’d poke some fun before we got into the serious stuff! Resolutions, goals, or just Tuesday’s ‘to-do’ list, how SMART are you about accomplishing them? (Don’t get offended, I know you are all plenty smart…but it’s a clever acronym that you may have heard before, and that I really like!) I learned S.M.A.R.T. in high school once, and it has actually stuck with me, unlike some other useless word play designed to get me to critically think, etc.

smarter goalsI challenge you to use SMART to tackle a goal, small or big and be amazed! I actually prefer this (left) acronym even more as it includes “ethical” and “reasonable”! Never settle for just SMART when you could be SMARTER (or good when you can be great, but I am getting to that.)

My goals for 2015 are this:

  1. Bed by 9-10pm (10 at the latest): 8-9 solid hours of sleep each night.
  2. Keep my diet clean, comprised of whole foods. Low fat, all natural. Eat enough to fuel my running. *No hard alcohol, 1-2 drinks max. (Reinforced from New Years Eve)
  3. Run a 2:43 marathon!¬†Subgoals: keep running 90 mile weeks, stay injury free, and make one of my runs my “long run”.

Basically, I want to keep doing what I have been doing,¬†but better.¬†Eat clean, recover well, and run more! Each of these goals are¬†specific¬†because I know exactly what I want, for example “bed by 10pm”. There’s nothing vague about that. “Get fit” or “eat healthier” are good examples of what¬†not¬†to do. My second goal concerning diet could be interpreted as vague, but I know what I mean by all natural, and it’s based on how I have documented my eating previously on my blog.

My goals are¬†measurable,¬†I can measure amounts of drinks, I can measure miles, I can “measure” a whole food vs. a packaged food. Are they¬†achievable? Depends. I can control my sleep, my diet, and how many miles I run a week….but I can’t control all the factors concerning the marathon. I can only do my best to set myself up to succeed. I do think it’s¬†realistic¬†based on my training and previous performance.Measuring_the_Infinite

My goals are also¬†realistic¬†in the context of my lifestyle. I have the resources and time to eat well, run, and get to sleep on time. I know there are many people who find it a lot harder, but those people need to weigh their priorities and their¬†“perceived” resources against what they can actually do. Don’t use lack of time as an excuse, the same goes for having a family (they need you to take care of YOU too!), or not having enough money to be healthy. If it is important to you, you will find a way. By realistic, I mean don’t attempt a marathon if you’ve never ran before. Try a half, or resolve to run 5 days a week no matter what. No climber attempts Everest as their first summit!

perfect-enemy-goodMy goals are¬†timely¬†or time-bound, exempting the diet goal. Diet is tricky, because unless you are on a “get-slim-quick-2-week-cleanse” (don’t do it!) diet should not have an endpoint. Diet is the foundation of the other goals you set for yourself. It comes naturally in the process of achieving the other goals that are time-bound. My marathon is a time-bound goal because I committed myself to running the LA Marathon in mid-March. So I have 2.5 months remaining to keep logging 90mi weeks and get my longest run up to where it needs to be. As the date draws closer, you had better believe my sleep and diet will be as fine-tuned and on-point as I can get it so that I¬†can¬†run a 2:43 marathon.

My goals are¬†ethical¬†my diet is vegan, and running a lot doesn’t hurt anyone ūüôā I urge you, if you are considering a dietary change this year, go vegan! It’s the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success! You also withdraw your vote of approval from inhumane factory farming practices and animal cruelty. Instead, you free up valuable resources like water and land for starving children who go without because the animals are using it instead. (Don’t worry, the animals won’t starve….instead the intense and unnatural breeding processes will diminish as consumer demand does! Farmers won’t lose their jobs either, they’ll just farm plant foods instead!)

I’ll be doing a ¬†post on Veganuary soon, but if you want to get started now I urge you to check out their supportive website and make a pledge to go Vegan this January!

Anyway, back to ethics! *I’m skipping reasonable¬†I think it’s a tad redundant after discussing realistic and achievable.¬†Don’t hurt anyone or anything, including yourself ‚̧ ! This segues into my next point about good vs. great and great vs. perfect.

32fdbd0eac41e2e876006ffb317d355cI think most people by now are pretty aware that “perfect” is an illusion. No one is perfect. For example, it might appear that I always have a healthy diet and I always run well…but of course I don’t! New Year’s Eve is a great example, I drank way too much and consequently ran like crud the next morning. I still ran the miles I was supposed to, but let me tell you…it was not pretty! But the reason we fail or make mistakes is for us to learn what¬†not¬†to do! I needed a firm reminder as to why I don’t really drink or party, and I got it. As long as you learn and don’t make the mistake again, then don’t beat yourself up over it. An important note, “mistakes” should only be made once…after that, they are not mistakes, it’s just you deciding against what you know is right.

There is no perfect. But there is always better. If you are good, there is always great. Don’t settle for good because it is comfortable. Being good is a comfort zone, it’s where you can hold your head up high but not feel challenged at all. You’ll never grow either. Strive to get better always, that’s where the growth happens. That’s where character is built, self-awareness is gained and boundaries are tested.

I urge you to always keep growing and striving to master your craft, hobby, and passion. Even if you think resolutions are ridiculous, you can always make goals. No one is ever done learning, there’s always room for improvement.

How can you be a better friend, family member, community contributer, runner, skier, writer, painter today more than yesterday? Write it down, tell your friends, or register for the event.

Go get it!

Advertisements

My Family and #1 Vegan Rule, Part II

funny santa

My #1 vegan rule: In-apartment veganism imposed on all guests in my apartment, including family! This means all food and meals bought to be brought back to my apartment must be free from animal products!

So, how have my brother and mom fared? Are they still alive and do they hate me yet?

Yes! They are still alive, but haven’t exactly embraced the vegan lifestyle outside of my 900 sq. feet animal cruelty-free zone (aka my apartment). They’ve been here for almost a week now and while I am grateful they have honored my rule, they’ve made up for it every time we’ve dined out which is often because they are on vacation…and of course they need to sample the delicious Portland cuisine! I definitely can’t and don’t try to sway their food choices when we dine out and I always make vegan work for me, it’s possible no matter where you go! But, without being pushy and annoying, I don’t think they will change ūüė¶

vegan_christmas_wish_greeting_cardI was pretty much defeated after the last conversation I had with my brother when he saw the video narrated by Steve-O (read more about our conversation and see the video in Part 1). Maybe I am just too far gone on the vegan bandwagon, but I was floored by his assertion that animals are just food. In his eyes, when he sees a pig I think he truly just sees bacon.

In my mom’s case, sometimes I feel like I am on the brink of success…but for every two steps forward I feel like we take one step back. She agrees with me about how wrong the factory farming practices are and how unhealthy people are in America because of the broken food system. I believe that the compassionate animal-lover in her empathizes with the animals that are eaten and exploited, she loves her dogs and as vegans often say, “Why love one and eat the other?” But even though she doesn’t eat a lot of meat (she actually just doesn’t eat a lot¬†period,¬†I’ve often envied her natural ability to portion-control) she still doesn’t have faith that the vegan diet alone is enough to sustain a healthy lifestyle, even though her daughter (me) tries to be a living, breathing, successfully athletic example. It’s a combination of too much health misinformation and a traditional upbringing that makes her ask, “But where will I get my protein?” It’s the ubiquitous go-vegan-live-longeradvertisements paid for by the dairy industry that induces her to think it is a¬†fact¬†that dairy creates strong bones and is the prime source for calcium. It’s the “magic bullet” phenomenon of certain superfoods that are touted by popular news media that provides the surplus of confusing information and always the overarching message that veganism is unhealthy, restrictive, unsustainable and extremist. It’s the pervasive slogan from figures of authority that “everything is okay in moderation”….(like smoking, right?) All those things, key components in keeping the current American food industry in place, also serves to keep well-intentioned, health-minded individuals like my mom, from being able to change. *I had my mom read over my perception of her, and she okay-ed it ‚̧

If you hear something repeated often enough, you start to believe it as fact.

VEGAN (1)As I write this post, they are leaving to go eat something for dinner ūüė¶ I’m gonna stay home, I need a little break from the constant family presence, and I am missing my vegetables! Honestly, I was starting to feel vegetable deficient after eating out most meals yesterday. For lunch we went to a rotary sushi, I ate my weight in veggie, cucumber, avocado, and seaweed salad rolls and for dinner we went to a Thai restaurant where I ate a vegan Papaya salad and 3 sides of sticky rice (the third time I ordered another sticky rice, the server looked at me like I was crazy). Anyway, I am happy to stay home today to eat my veggie-heavy (ab)normal vegan food. At least we’ve all been vegan for breakfast! We’ve been eating oatmeal jazzed up with different fruit, cinnamon and ginger (except my brother, who has a bad habit of skipping breakfast entirely).

But, with all this discussion surrounding veganism…I am starting to doubt myself. Have I become obsessive? Is it really just food, should I stop caring so much?

I’ve addressed this before in this post¬†(Sorry, I’m NOT sorry for being a picky eater). ¬†I don’t like to make people uncomfortable, I don’t set out to insult anyone or make them feel guilty about their lifestyle. But where is the line between me telling it like it is and the point when I start to step on other’s toes? I know it is impossible to please everyone, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. This goes back to when I was posting images like this one (below) on my Facebook page and a friend asked me to stop because he didn’t ‘subscribe’ to that. Or a week ago, when another close friend asked me if I thought non-vegans (like himself) were murderers! I was aghast, and hurt. I NEVER ever paint my non-vegan friends or family in that light! My perception of them is too colored by the wonderful character and spirits that I know they have. They are good, kind, caring people, that’s why they are my friends! So it really makes me feel terrible that they might think or feel that I am judging them harshly.¬†vegan extremistI’ll never be in-your-face, that’s not my style…but on my blog and my social media I should be able to tell it (or show it and share it) like it is. Animal cruelty for the sake of our current eating habits is the truth. So why do I doubt myself? Is it all really just food? Or as someone else in my life just told me, “there are just too many terrible things happening.” Or my brother, “there are more important things to worry about.”

vegansidekick head in sand

Does all this mean that I should give up? Throw in the towel? Sometimes I just feel like a pest, annoying everyone else. To reiterate, I am not in the habit of spouting veganism 24/7 to everyone I meet or hang out with. When it comes up, I talk about it because my vegan lifestyle means a lot to me and I want other people to know about it. I desperately want the people I know to wake up and realize how wrong eating animals is! But even when I don’t say anything, I feel like my mere existence in living my life the way I do is a burden to others…my parent’s cross to bear: their crazy vegan daughter…so sad, sigh. It gets to me, it makes me feel like I need to apologize (even though I am not supposed to!), it makes me want to quit trying. I don’t feel like I am helping, mostly I feel like an annoyance at best.

KH_ROSIE-009-magDon’t worry though, I am not going to give up the fight! I’ll never stop being vegan and I’ll keep on blogging the truth. The information has¬†to be available to inspire people to change. I never know who might stumble across my blog and become motivated…so I’ll keep going. In my daily life I’ll keep living my truth. When I find the balance between being in-your-face or acquiescing and unprotesting, believe me I’ll blog about it! Vegans everywhere will rejoice!

Holiday Spirits, Family Visits and My #1 Vegan Rule

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Below¬†is a festive ¬†picture of my family from 2006 at one of my favorite holiday¬†events on Guam, the Jingle Bell run which I just discovered from my mom has been discontinued…sad face. Those were¬†the good ol’ days when my whole family ran together, now it’s just my mom and I¬†who get up and log regular miles each morning. Also, eight years have passed, and none of us (except my mom, she’s got good genes and seems not to have aged at all!) look like that anymore (see us from last year, above).

Speaking of, my mom just finished the Honolulu Marathon a few days ago when my brother and she were en route from Guam to come visit me in Portland for Christmas!

Jingle Bell 5k 2006That’s how I literally¬†just¬†discovered the Jingle Bell run is no longer in existence….she corrected my out-loud musings as I am typing this post. The real reason for this blog post though, is to discuss my imposed in-apartment veganism on my brother and mom. So, how do they feel about that? What’s my reasoning? And, is it working?

So first, what are the parameters? Basically, I keep my apartment a sacred space free from animal products and it is going to stay¬†that way! Personally, the smell of meat cooking in my kitchen, or seeing milk and eggs in my fridge might physically make me sick. I know enough about how those products make it to the supermarket to¬†never¬†want to be a cause of the process. I also know that meat, milk and eggs can¬†never¬†be a part of a healthy diet, and I care about my mom and brother. I could not in good conscious watch them eat those things and not say something about it. My rule is that all food brought into my apartment needs to be vegan and that all meals eaten in my apartment needs to be vegan as well. But when we go out to eat as I am sure we will often in the next ten days they are here, they can consume what they wish. I can’t control that, but a tiny part of me hopes that they feel good enough eating vegan that they won’t want to go back to eating animals!

vegan kitchenSo far, they’ve agreed to this rule and they’ve been animal product free for their first day here ūüôā small victories! Unfortunately, I had a discussion about eating animals and factory farming practices with my brother this morning…which did not go well. His quote, “Animals are there for us to eat,” really blew my mind, especially because this was¬†after he watched¬†a short video narrated by Steve-O (I thought that Steve-O might peak my brother’s interest) which depicted some of the cruelties condoned by the industry. I was kind and showed him a less graphic version of the cruel practices of factory farming, I’ve inserted the same video below if you are curious. It’s only 12 minutes long and I highly recommend it! Even if you are already vegan, it’s always a good idea to check in with yourself to make sure that your values and lifestyle are continuing to align.

But back to my brother’s statement. Animals are NOT put here on earth for us to eat. I sometimes forget how misinformed the general public can be. I was in the same boat until I decided to change my diet. With that decision came a lot of personal research. I had to seek out the knowledge myself, and find support in others online to succeed in going vegan. It’s not easy to change years of deeply ingrained habits and beliefs (even if they aren’t correct). I definitely have some work to do! My hopes are that his interest in building muscles and having a strong physique will at least compel him to eat plant based in the meantime and that the compassion for animals will follow. For men, it is especially important to show examples of ripped, strong and healthy male vegans to those who are considering changing their diet. I know I am generalizing here, but it’s been my experience that guys are usually scared of looking like a stereotypical, weakling vegan. I am not exactly reassuring myself because of my skinniness, but that is probably a product of my runninveganproblems 2g and my diet, not an inevitable consequence of being vegan. There are many resources for vegan athletes, and I hope to (slowly) educate my brother and show him how much stronger and healthier he can be. How can he argue with Rip Esselstyn of the Engine 2 Diet? Or Rich Roll author of¬†Finding Ultra, Scott Jurek author of¬†Eat & Run,¬†or¬†Brendan Brazier of¬†Thrive?¬†Those are just the guys I can name off the top of my head! There are also so many plant-based athletes and fit guys on YouTube as well. Some of my favorites include Jay of PlantbasedAthlete, Chris of ChrisGoneRaw, and Ben of WholeFuture. Some are athletes, some are not. But all are well-informed, healthy and inspiring examples of how to succeed as a plant-based male.

To be continued….how have the days been treating them? What’s my mom’s take on all this? And why am I doubting my rule?

Part 2 is on it’s way!

 

My (Hard-A**) Health Philosophy, #NoExcuses

50b4b703f9217650cd2246a674b1b8e5

The quote above blew me away. Too many times I hear people say they don’t have time to take care of their health because they are too busy taking care of others. When I tell people that their health is the most important thing, and that they need to make healthy choices for themselves above all else, it does sound and feel selfish. And no one wants to be selfish…we all want to be the martyr.¬†But if you can’t take care of yourself, how will you be there for anyone else?

For example, after I pay all my bills, I end up spending the rest of what’s left over on food. Compared to some, my food bill is pretty pricey. I don’t waste money on supplements, pills or powders…but I spend a lot of whole, fresh fruits and veggies. Sure, I could save now for my future if I decided to live on oatmeal, instant ramen, and PB&J sandwiches on ninety-nine cent white bread. But what would my future be like if I did so? Diet and lifestyle affects more than just how you look…it effects¬†everything.¬†My mood would suffer and I would be depressed, I would be injured more frequently and recover slower from running, my eating disorder and body image problems would certainly come back…things would probably start to crumble. I’d probably have to start relying on multivitamins (pricey) and anything I saved in the short term would be spent long-term as my physical, mental, and emotional health began to take a hit. So I don’t sacrifice on the foundations of my health, because it is the most important thing you can have. It’s easy to take for granted, but don’t! Don’t wait until your health is gone, when you can only look longingly at others and wish you had a healthy body to walk, run, and play.

ph-sticker

My Health Philosophy Assignment (one of the last of my undergraduate education!): My philosophy regarding health as a future health educator. I already know my professor won’t like this. For some reason, no one likes to hear that it is their own responsibility. The current health theory is that it is genetics (epigenetics is huge right now) and a sick food culture that people are victims of. But public health/ community health is about prevention. In that respect, my health philosophy is the core of PH, advocating for you own health by making your own choices is prevention!

take-responsibility

My philosophy places a lot of responsibility on the individual to take control of their own health. Largely, I believe that a person creates good health or bad health as a result of the decisions an individual makes. I do acknowledge, and realize that there are factors outside of individual control such as environment (built and natural), family (history, habits), biology (genetics, gender, age), and government (policy or lack of regulation) that can inhibit or facilitate health of a person.

After reading the text and taking this course, my philosophy has not changed. In fact, I am more certain than ever that the individual needs to bear¬†the burden of the responsibility for their health. A person’s health status is a direct result of their choices in life. How, as a health educator (receiving my Bachelors in a week!) do I justify my philosophy on health?

No one will live in a perfect environment that promotes health of individuals above all else, that utopian society does not exist. In America, money talks above all else, and it is profitable to sell people corn, soybean, or wheat-filled/fed products which the government subsidizes. The end result is cheap meat, dairy and egg products, and cheap junk food and fast food- like products. The meat and dairy industries profit, the junk food industry profits, fast food chains profit, and people get sick. Then the health care industry profits off the sick population. Health insurers, doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry make money by keeping people unhealthy and sick, but tout medical advancements to extend lifespan…and the billions of dollars they can make off of longer lived, life-long patients.

peope-are-fed-by-the-food-industry-which-pays-no-attention-to-health-and-are-treated-by-the-health-industry-which-pays-no-attention-to-food-quote-by-wendell-berry-facebook-meme

No one lives in an environment that makes it easy to be healthy. But remarkably, there are people who still maintain their health. They do this because they have realized that no one else cares about their health, they need to care about themselves. Yes, some people have family history and genetics to work against, but I believe that “genetics load the gun, and environment (lifestyle choices) pulls the trigger.” If you are not doing what you can to promote your best health by seeking your own education, eating plant foods, exercising, and sleeping enough, then you need to own up and take responsibility for your poor health state. Blaming genes or the environment is an excuse and a cop-out.

We all live in the same Take-charge-of-your-own-lifecurrently unhealthy environment, yet many people manage to create good health for themselves because they have taken action. They’ve stopped allowing others to dictate their food and lifestyle choices. Going with the flow in America will only make you sick. Being healthy is abnormal. What it all comes down to, is a choice to be abnormal in society. Buck the media advertisements, fast food chains, and grocery store sales. Our health situation in America is dire, because people only care about your money, but they trick you into thinking they care about your well-being.

 

Take care of yourself so you can cultivate your own health and have a good quality of life that allows you to pursue your passions, enjoy your work, and be there for your friends and family. This is my philosophy regarding health as a health educator.

you-must-take-personal-responsibility-jim-rohn

Food does not equal calories! Putting calories in their place

In the battle to be healthy and maintain a weight conducive to good health (not aesthetics), food is not the enemy. Your basic biological drive to seek out nutrients for survival, a.k.a. hunger is not the enemy! The real enemy in disguise are fast food chains, junk food companies, and…the FDA (I should just rename my blog “I hate the FDA” because I rant about them so much!)

When most people attempt to lose weight, they turn to counting calories. After all, calories are facts. They are quantitative and easy to keep track of thus, the number is in your control. Well, I’m sorry to tell ycount chemicalsou this, but the number you think you know is wrong. A calorie is not a calorie and your body is not a machine. Eating less calories than you expend on a diet consisting of packaged foods is nearly impossible.

2 Reasons why you can’t count calories correctly:

  1. Calorie counts on food labels are incorrect.¬†Under FDA regulations, packaged foods (even diet foods) can be as much as 20% off! The FDA allows this amount of “wiggle room” to account for variations in portions. Food companies mostly operate on the honor system because the FDA lacks sufficient manpower to ensure the accuracy of nutrition labels on all the food products available.* 20% wrong doesn’t seem like much, but in a day or a week, it can really add up…along with the excess sodium, chemicals, and preservatives.
  2. Calorie counts for whole foods are imprecise!¬†Yes, even for whole foods! Whole foods don’t come standard, they vary in weight and nutritional content. Also,the caloric content of foods listed in databases that people rely on are based on a formula that is 100+ years old.** When caloric contents of natural foods were computed, there wasn’t any factoring in of how much of the food is actually absorbed by your body. Components of whole fruits and vegetables, like fiber decreases the absorption of calories by your body, especially when eaten raw. Also, when raw, fibrous foods are eaten, your body has to expend more energy in digestion to break these foods down. Conversely, when you denature or process foods in any way, such as cooking, chopping, blending, or juicing, you make more calories available to be absorbed. You have essentially predigested your food, and thus your body doesn’t have to work as hard to obtain the nutrients, expending less energy. (This is not necessarily a bad thing! Except in terms of counting calories.) So the amount of calories contained in whole foods is pretty variable! Though the volume of fruits and vegetables make it really hard to eat too much of them!

 

The practice of counting calories and eating packaged foods also instills some pretty bad habits. When someone eats from a package, they are more inclined to finish the package. That person may not want to leave just a little bit left, or may feel entitled to eat it all because they are still “safe” in terms of the amount of calories they have allotted him or herself. This teaches you to override your natural feelings of fullness, and eat for a number instead. Most packaged foods are designed to be eaten on the go, and thus promote mindless eating and further takes you out of touch with your natural hunger.

Calorie counting is also stressful! The stress hormone cortisol leads to weight gain around the stomach and also spikes your appetite! When someone is trying to dutifully account for every last calorie, it makes it impossible to appreciate the food for what it is and what it could do for you. It also teaches the person to view themselves as either “good” or “bad”. This creates a slippery slope toward the cycle of restricting and overeating, which characterizes yo-yo dieting.

In reality, a calorie is a number that means nothing. It does not tell you how healthy or unhealthy a food is. It’s a waste of your time and energy that could be better used elsewhere to try to count them. They’re not even accurate anyway!

Packaged food vs. Whole food:
pro bar health food

This is a pretty good example of how whole food vs. packaged foods can create an unhealthy situation. A Pro Bar meal replacement bar is a¬†really¬†good idea for ultra endurance events (think 100 mile runs or 10 hour bike rides), it’s also a good idea for 8 hour plane flights, but it is a really bad idea for everybody else!

These meal bars are marketed as a healthier alternative to replace meals for people on the go. Undoubtedly, their natural ingredients are much healthier than a fast food meal. But the problem comes when people are so blinded by the “health halo” that they don’t realize how energy dense this little bar really is. One bar is 85g, that’s tiny! It’s about the equivalent of one¬†extra¬†small (less than 6″) banana. But it contains 360 calories! The problem is that people eat these packaged foods thinking they are “healthy”. In reality, this bar will not leave you with any feelings of fullness you would have otherwise gotten had you eat 360 calories of fresh, whole plant foods packed with water and fiber as well as the vitamins and minerals that the ProBar claims to contain as a selling point. (I might also add that the calorie equivalent of this bar is 3.5 bananas, which would be¬†cheaper than one ProBar!)
2014-11-16 09.27.53

Eating whole foods in as close to natural as possible makes it much easier to create a situation of good health where you don’t have to count calories to check your weight, you feel full, and you give your body the nutrients it needs in the correct proportions. Since it has gotten a lot colder, and the fruits available have whittled down to the basics (I can’t really afford out of season fruits, and by eating what’s cheap I also eat seasonally!) I have been eating a lot of oatmeal and apples. But this is what I mean by real food:

Whole food oatmeal:

  • 1/2 cup oats, dry (150 cal.)
  • 1 large apple (115 cal.)
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (14g) (68 cal.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries (50 cal.)
  • water, cinnamon, fresh ginger (~0 cal.)

I also ate 3 tangerines before my oatmeal (170 cal.) this brings my total calories to 553 calories for my breakfast. Is that a lot or a little? The answer is that it is completely subjective. To a female dieter trying to restrict their calories to a tiny amount, they might have already “blown it” by consuming that many calories so early in the day… When I look at this breakfast I see: vitamins and fiber from the fruit. Oats have fiber, protein, and complex carbs to help my muscles recover from a run. Chia seeds are a source of Omega 3 fats and are filling as well as satiating because they bulk up my oats. Cinnamon is great for regulating blood sugar. Cherries are amazing for antioxidants, they are anti-inflammatory, and can speed up muscle recovery in endurance athletes. Ginger is also nature’s medicine, great for overall health including¬†indigestion, GI distress, nausea, and inflammation. These are only the known benefits of these foods…scientists haven’t identified all the compounds inherent in fruits and vegetables, and they definitely don’t understand the symbiotic processes that occur when someone consumes a whole food.

I see this bowl of whole foods, not as a bowl of calories, but as a breakfast that will fill me up, taste amazing, and allow me to recover from my morning run optimally so that I can run again tomorrow. My main goal in life is not to see how few calories I can eat in a day, my goal is to push my body to the limit in terms of miles run and speed sustained.

The main message is to eat whole, fresh foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, and some nuts and seeds. Our reductionist scientific understanding of things has enabled people to view food as nothing but calories and macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins). The reality is that no one¬†really¬†knows all the magic contained in fruits and vegetables that allows them to unleash their nutrition on our metabolism (all the chemical reactions that take place in the body). The best bet for better health is to stop eating for a number (that’s arbitrary anyway) and eat whole plant foods till you are full!

Sources:

*Jeff Rossen, Robert Powell,¬†NBC News: Today Show¬†Rossen Reports: Can you believe diet frozen dessert labels?” Aug. 20, 2012.

**Sass, Cynthia, Health News & Views¬†Why Calorie Counts are Wrong: 6 Diet Myths, Busted” Feb. 7, 2013.

 

No-Track Thursday: 10/02 Marathon Taper Time!

tapering ecard

I’m not positive, but that eCard girl might be in her socks….that’s a definite no-no on race day ūüôā

I’m in the homestretch, the last 100m before the actual 26.2 miles! The Portland Marathon is Sunday at 7:00 am, though I will definitely triple-check that on Saturday night! I’ve been tapering for the marathon this week, so there have been no tempo runs and no track session this morning. Honestly though, I don’t feel like I am suffering from any ‘tapering madness’ or ‘taper crazies’. But I live by myself, so if I have been weirder than normal this week no one would know!

I’m not sure if this is consistent among all runners, but I have a little secret: I’m lazy! There’s a little part of me deep down that enjoys being able to kick back and dial down the training. My coach and my mind have told my body, Okay this is it! You’ve done the work and now you need to rest! Rest! REST!¬†(No one has actually said that, that’s just my interpretation.) My body hasn’t had any problem following orders. Our brain’s main function is to preserve energy through efficiency, and so finally my brain gets a chance to do it’s job…I’m sure it doesn’t understand why I fight it on a daily basis by running when there’s nothing chasing me!

It helps that this week, while my legs may be resting, the rest of me is still as busy as the squirrels are! I’m maintaining my general routine in an effort to trick my body and maintain sanity (it works!) by running every morning, eating the same, and going about my regular day. My morning runs have been short and sweet: Sunday I recovered from Saturday’s 10k with an easy 3 miles and the rest of the week has been 4-5 miles easy. Today after my run I did 4x 100-150m strides to shake out my legs.

I'm listening!

I’m listening!

I’m also not changing anything about my diet. It’s given me the energy to complete all my workouts until now, so why mess it up? I’m not concerned with continuing to eat the same amount though I am exercising less because my focus is on recovering and refueling, not maintaining a certain weight. I don’t use tapering as an excuse to inhale every bit of food that comes my way! As long as I continue to eat the same, I will perform as I have been. I’ve been really happy with my workouts, so I’m happy with my diet!

The rest of me has been concerned with the beginning of Fall Term classes at Portland State University. I don’t have ample time to fret over every little marathon detail and worry myself sick because I have a long list of homework to do! I have kept my legs churning by cycling to class and home 3x this week (50 minutes round-trip) it’s not too arduous a trip, and I think it is beneficial to stay moderately active throughout the day. A body at rest stays at rest! Saturday however, I will be relaxing (after a quick morning jog)!

There are a few fine details I need to work out before race day, and I will be following up with a post about that, so check in! One of my main worries has been the weather…suddenly it has gotten¬†really¬†cold! There’s also no bag check at the marathon (I actually read the newsletter the race organizers emailed out!) so I need to go to Goodwill for some donate-able/disposable warm-up clothes! I’ll get to that later!

I’m taking it one day at a time, and staying surprisingly sane (ish)!

Photo credit: Tri-ing to Be Athletic Blog "Is It Reefer Madness?? No, It's TAPER Madness!!"

Photo credit: Tri-ing to Be Athletic Blog “Is It Reefer Madness?? No, It’s TAPER Madness!!”

*A note about my inner lazy person: I can only really be content with complacency for about a week, after that my inner drive kicks in again and I have to go! That’s what makes me a runner ūüôā

What I Ate Wednesday: 09/24

coffee shopSo I am experiencing major first world problems happening this week ūüė¶

I haven’t had internet connection for 2 days at my apartment! This is terrible for me, as a student and a blogger, reliable internet connection is as vital to me as blood is to my veins. This has seriously caused me major distress on multiple levels. On a physical level, I am unable to complete necessary functions like check email, or my school’s website (which is important because classes are starting for Fall term on Monday). I can’t prepare for my 10k race this Saturday because I haven’t been able to look-up the start time, location, or course map….which are all necessary for my mental well-being. On an emotional level, I feel frustrated with the lack of connection to others that I feel, I depend on social media to talk to my mom, friends, and others with whom I have built a solid online connection. In today’s world, if you are absent from media for a day or two, you are rapidly relegated to the back of other’s minds. This world is fast-paced.

I feel like I am suffering mild withdrawals, I feel irritated and anxious, upset, and also guilty that lack of internet causes such upheaval in my life. Are my reactions proportionate? I realize that internet is a luxury that billions of people live without.

In the meantime, here I sit at a coffee shop. Which is actually kind of nice, I am¬†out of my house and supporting a local business. I’ll do my best to keep up with the virtual world that is streaming by without me!

Breakfast:WIAW 5 breakfast

My usual Wednesday easy run was a rainy one this morning. Welcome to Portland! The absolutely gorgeous summer we had will definitely require some readjustment to the steady drizzle that will mark my reality for the next half a year!

My breakfast of champions: fruit! Mother nature demands you to eat and proliferate seeds to be planted throughout the earth! Well, now the seeds all get flushed down the toilet…TMI ūüôā But in the past, it was evolutionarily beneficial for fruit to tantalize our ancestors with their luscious juicy flesh and fruity fragrance so that we would spread the fruit seeds through defecation into soil (that used to be much higher in minerals) so that a new plant could bloom!

A great rule of thumb: Eat living food! If you plant it in the ground, it will GROW!

I actually ate 2 peaches and a nectarine, as well as the 4 pluots (not 3 nectarines). But I forgot to take a picture of my fruit beforehand! Anyway, I’ll eat those nectarines tomorrow morning ūüôā I’m still not ready to give up my summer fruits!

Lunch:

I spent my morning mainlining caffeine until I had to pack up and head home for lunch. I had my usual: 2 large carrots (peeled), a medium zucchini (sliced) and a large steamed Japanese sweet potato (3/4 lb).

I find that some starchy veggies, like raw carrots are hard for me to digest, so I have started peeling them in an effort to be nicer to my guts. Other foods that I have a hard time digesting include broccoli and corn. I might have inherited my mild broccoli intolerance from my mom, it upsets her stomach as well.

My mom was always such a good example to my brother and I growing up, even though we knew that she didn’t like broccoli, she would still prepare it and eat it herself because she knew that it was healthy. In my house, we always cleaned our plates. My mom never had to “sneak” in the vegetables, it was just a rule that whatever she made, the family ate. Now, I love vegetables mostly raw or steamed, and usually plain!

*If you are having trouble tasting your vegetables, just continue to eat a clean diet (no salt, no added sugar, no refined foods)…it takes 10-14 days for your taste buds to regenerate! “Taste buds go through a life cycle where they grow from basal cells into taste cells and then die and are sloughed away.” (Source: Woman’s Day “7 Things You Didn‚Äôt Know About Your Taste Buds”)

WIAW 5 lunch turmericDue to my internet issues, I am using a picture of yesterday’s sliced zucchini, but it’s the same thing as today! I like to dump copious amounts of turmeric on my food whenever there is an opportunity! Turmeric is a natural anti inflammatory and remedy for many ills ranging from arthritis to cancer and heart disease prevention!

The major pharmacological agent in turmeric is thought to be curcumin, the compound that gives the spice it’s bright yellow color. (Source: World’s Healthiest Foods, “Tumeric”) I started ingesting lots of turmeric when I injured my hamstring, in an effort to heal faster. Other foods with healing properties include ginger and garlic. East Indians and Asians generally have better health than Westerners, especially when they remain rooted in their traditional diet and lifestyle, so I am happy to indulge in their “secret” super foods!

Dinner:

I stayed off my bike today, which is a shame, because I got a new one! But I haven’t put fenders on it yet, and I need to tighten the brakes (loose brakes make rainy biking perilous!) so to avoid rainy, road-grime butt, I took the bus to and from work. Even though I quit my job, I’ll still be working through the end of the month, but fewer days per week. Phew, because I am tired!

Unfortunately I spent a lot of time waiting on the bus today and when I got home I was plenty hungry! I had eaten my cauliflower snack earlier in the afternoon. For dinner I tucked into steamed Japanese sweet potatoes sliced in fresh Romaine lettuce cups!

I recently discovered that two heads of Romaine lettuce adds 15g of pure plant protein to my day! Who knew?

gorilla protein cartoon

 Macro nutrient Breakdown:

Total Calories: 1983

Carbohydrates: 449.4g (87.1% of total calories)

Protein: 61.5g (8.4% of total calories)

Fat: 10.7g (4.5% of total calories)