Getting High on Fruits and Vegetables: Real Juice & Food

You want the juice? We GOT the juice!

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What’s REAL Juice & Food?

 REAL Juice & Food emerged, because people in the community asked for it, and are continuing to support it. I, Taylor Norris, REAL Juice & Food Co-Creator, am committed to making healthy food and drinks more accessible and enjoyable in the Monroe area. I am very open to y’all’s feedback, preferences, wants, and needs in developing this brand.

Who am I?

I’m Taylor Norris, born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. I am a holistic health coach, cleanse specialist, juice creator, raw foods chef, educator, writer, yogi, and light worker. I am currently studying at the largest nutrition school in the world, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, to obtain certification as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.  You can view their Facebook page here:  Institute for Integrative Nutrition if you would like more information!

As a health coach, I guide and support clients along their health journeys by assisting them in balancing their primary foods – spirituality, career, relationships, and exercise – with their secondary food, the food that we eat. It’s wonderful, transformative, healing work. Interested in a consultation? Check out my website tayloranorris.com

How did I get into all this healthy stuff?

I grew up in Monroe, LA eating all the normal stuff. I was blessed with a momma who loves to cook, so many of my meals were prepared with fresh ingredients. That being said, I ate my fair share of pizza, ice cream, fried chicken, burgers, and French fries.

I initially got into juicing after transitioning to a vegan diet at age 22 while I was living in Johns Island, South Carolina. I was at an emotional and spiritual rock bottom, feeling depressed, hopeless, stuck, confused, and very pessimistic about life. I didn’t feel good in my body, and I had no idea how to care for it.

In 2012, I transitioned to a fully plant-based diet. I committed myself to living clean and sober, running and yoga, and began talking about my emotional problems with a wonderful therapist. At first, the results were fantastic. I lost all my excess weight, my skin cleared up, my mood improved, I was super energetic, and I felt more like myself than I had in over a decade.

But then, my life turned. At a higher level of consciousness and health, I could no longer tolerate my dysfunctional relationship and nonexistent career. A traumatic break-up and a rocky reunion with my family of origin compelled me to stuff my painful feelings. I had given up alcohol and drugs earlier in the year, so I refused to use those to cope. I turned to heavy vegan foods and was prescribed psychotropic meditation to medicate my pain.

Fortunately, I was able to step out of my misery enough to volunteer at a therapeutic horsemanship facility in Scottsdale, AZ. A man there made me a glass of fresh carrot and apple juice with his Jack LaLanne juicer. I was immediately hooked. The next day I went to Costco to buy a juicer, and began making juice just about every day.

I took my daily juicing habit to the next level after watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It’s a highly inspirational documentary on Netflix about Joe Cross, an Australian man who was obese, lethargic, and suffering from a handful of chronic illnesses. Joe only consumed fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 30 days, while touring the West to learn about the public’s eating habits. He experienced a number of health miracles and disease reversals, and I wanted a piece of that too!

I had gained a ton of weight while emotional eating and wallowing in my own psych med coma, and I knew the juice cleanse would help me reset my unhealthy habits and detox all the drugs I had been on.

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I did a 30-day juice cleanse in the summer of 2013 while working full-time as a lifeguard and camp counselor in Colorado. I was working out and running every day. I felt AMAZING and UNSTOPPABLE!

During the cleanse, I took it upon myself to learn how to eat properly once I finished the cleanse, because I wanted to retain all the amazing health benefits I had worked so hard for. I studied the work of Dr. Joel Fuhrman and other leading nutritional experts. I watched every health and food documentary I could get my eyes on.

The information I learned on my first cleanse helped set the foundation for learning to feed myself properly. I am constantly studying nutrition, holistic health, and experimenting on myself to find what works best for me. That means eating in a way that has been scientifically shown to prevent chronic illnesses and reverse the top killers of humankind, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

I’ve learned how to cleanse, and transform my habits so that the results stick and launch me into a whole new level of health and radiance!

I tweak my whole foods plant-based diet from time to time to adjust to changes in my body and my larger energetic context. I now eat a lowfat raw food diet, composed of fresh fruits and vegetables. I have never been more satisfied with a way of eating in my life! My cravings are pretty much nonexistent. I do crave okra and dark leafy greens sometimes, but there are no late night trips to the store to buy vegan ice cream, French fries, or chocolate. I have more energy than ever in my life!

I love juicing for y’all because that means there will be juice for me too, and it helps me stay on track in order to look and feel my very best so that I can be of service to the community.

I am committed to cultivating health, inspiration, and vitality in this town! Let’s transform together!

What’s in REAL Juice?

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Exclusively awesome ingredients, love, and high vibes! REAL Juice is made with fresh fruits and vegetables that are sourced from local, organic farmers as much as possible.

What do you mean by REAL?

REAL Juice is real in the sense that it’s only nature’s goodness packaged in such a way as to deliver you with the highest quality, real, living foods that the human body thrives on. This stands in contrast to the processed, engineered food-like substances that line the shelves of most grocery retailers and are served in many restaurants.

On a deeper level, this brand is about remembering who you are. Remembering and realizing your full, limitless, and infinite potential!

It’s about recognizing our inherent nature as spiritual beings. Embodying our innate capacity for empathy, that is, compassion for oneself, others, animals, and all beings. Accepting oneself, others, the world, and what is. And, loving God/the Universe/the Cosmos/one’s Higher Power, oneself, life, and all beings. Yeah, it’s pretty deep, but that’s how I roll.

Why organic?

I choose organic whenever possible to ensure the highest quality drink. Organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to be more nutritious and have greater enzyme activity, compared to conventional produce.

When a plant is grown organically, it must defend itself from bugs and other harsh conditions (e.g. dryness, too much rain, etc.). The defense mechanisms the plant uses to survive are the very same mechanisms that fight cancer and other diseases in our bodies. We call these compounds antioxidants.

Organic produce is also free from insecticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and other chemicals. The herbicide Roundup is one of the most toxic substances you can put in your body. Concentrating a chemical like Roundup in a juice is extremely harmful.

Environmentally, organic farming is more natural and sustainable for planetary balance, harmony, and cooperation.\

As you all probably know, organic costs more at the store. It is unfortunate that organic farmers have to go to great lengths to obtain certification and are in no way assisted by subsidies and government bodies to provide their produce at a competitive cost.

From a long-term perspective, spending extra money to buy organic is worth it, when you consider the likelihood of spending thousands of dollars on health expenses later.

Why local?

 We’ve got an awesome Monroe Farmers Market with some awesome farmers! The majority of the produce is purchased from Ken and Kathryn Huff who grow all their food organically in Oak Grove. Additional melons have been coming from Charles Holley and Ms. White. Herbs are grown organically by Cindy Kennedy in the Garden District, and by other loving friends who donate or trade with me.

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It is extremely important to support local farmers. They are working their tails off to provide an amazing service to the community. They are kind people who are doing things the natural way, largely unsupported by corporate interests and government subsidies. We have the chance every time we buy food to vote with our dollars for what we would like to be available and affordable. I want local, fresh, organic produce at a low cost!! How about you?

Speaking of cost, the price is a lot better when buying seasonally and locally. I can get bags and bags of food and a car full of melons at the market. Spending the same amount of money at the grocery store on organic translates to a couple bags of food.

There are health benefits too! When we buy local produce we are also consuming local microorganisms that will help us thrive in our environment. Eating food from the Monroe area while living in the Monroe area will help protect us from pathogens, allergens, and other influences specific to this area. It will align our bodies with the natural rhythms of the environment and help shape our gut flora and microorganisms that are responsible for our immunity, digestion, and many other processes. These little guys and gals outnumber human cells 10 to 1. Are we human or are we bacteria? That’s another article entirely!

Eating food from California while in Monroe might help us out if we were to take a trip to California. This is essential for parts of the year, but right now we have more options. Go befriend local farmers, and you will receive more than you can imagine!

What about REAL Food?

Prepare for blast off! This party just got started. More yummy delicious creations are on the way. Be sure to check out my page on Facebook, REAL Food & Juice, to learn how to get your fix the healthy, happy way!

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Fats: Reality Check

The word FAT elicits some pretty nasty emotions.  We see fat on a nutrition label and instantly become nauseated by the product were holding.  Fat has been demonized by our food industry and cast out as a nutritional pariah for many years.  “Experts” harp on the danger that high fat diets present and lead people towards some fad diet plan that can leave us in a worse position then before.  There is so much confusion surrounding fat and the way it impacts our bodies that is much easier to simply believe the hype and try to cut it out of our lives.  I am here to tell you that fat is not evil.  It does not aim to bloat your body or steal your gains.  It is not attempting to kill you or murder your dreams.  Fat is a very pivotal part of the fitness pie (pardon the pun) that should be utilized to create the healthy body you envision.Healthy-Fats

Lets look at some of the fats that are out there.

Trans Fats:

Like anything, there are good fats and bad fats.  Trans fats fall into the bad category and should be avoided at all costs.  These come from fried foods, processed goodies, and chemically manipulated treats.  These thicken your arteries, cause rapid weight gain, and contribute to many of our diet based diseases.  Avoid those deep fried donuts at every opportunity.

Saturated Fats:

Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap because of its supposed link to heart disease and high blood cholesterol.  Much of the truth has been obscured throughout the years by improper studies or bad information.  Saturated fats actually help to increase HDL Cholesterol (the good stuff).  This helps the body remove cholesterol from the blood and transport it to the liver for processing.  Sat fats also can increase the size of LDL Cholesterol (the bad stuff), which makes it harder for the LDL to breach the arterial wall and cause damage.  As an added bonus, most foods containing saturated fats taste amazing! Most of our saturated fat comes from foods like beef, butter, cheese, land animal fat, eggs, coconuts and cream.  The Health Industry has long stated that these foods should be minimized or avoided but this practice can leave you devoid of ample sources of essential nutrients for over all health.

Omega 6 Fats:

These fats are a form of Unsaturated fat that can help keep you satiated and decrease your risk of heart related illnesses.  However, these fats should be consumed on a limited basis.  This fat falls under the cliche of too much of a good thing can be bad for you.  Omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory fats.  Inflammation is necessary for our survival but too much inflammation in the body can have dire consequences.  Diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and metabolic syndrome have been linked to excess inflammation.  A good practice is to be aware of your Omega 6 intake and minimize the amount you ingest on any given day.  You should keep an eye on your consumption of items like peanut butter or oil, grape seed oil, hemp oil, soybeen oil, fast food, seeds, mayonnaise, and high fat salad dressings. Remember, these are not inherently bad foods.  A lot of them can aid you in your nutrient search.  Just be mindful of how much of this category you are consuming and you will be fine!

Omega 3 Fats:

This is another Unsaturated fat that has gotten a lot of press and good vibes for years now.  These fats are anti-inflammatory and can reduce your risk of all the previously named diseases associated with the heart, mind, and bones.  They can impact brain health and development, help with joint health, and can aid in depression treatment.  Most natural Omega 3s come from fatty fish: herring, salmon, mackerel, halibut, trout, and tuna.  You can also get these fats from some nuts and seeds, like walnuts or flaxseed, as well as different oils, like canola oil or flaxseed oil.  If some of these foods are hard to come by, not available to you, or you just would like more Omega 3s in your life, invest in an Omega 3/Fish oil supplement.  These can greatly bolster your nutrition and help you along your health improvement journey.

The goal of nutrition is to find the mix of foods. supplements, and nutrients that provides the optimal benefit for a person to achieve his or her physical vision and to allow him or her to live an abundant and healthy life.  The balance of fats is pivotal for us to attain the healthy body of our dreams.  All we can do is try our best to minimize destructive behaviors and the consumption of unhealthy foods and maximize positive decisions and increase the use of beneficial nutrients.  Start by simply substituting some healthy fat sources in place of your normal junk.  Try to keep the reasons for your selections in the front of your brain so you are always mindful of your choices and how they will affect your body.  Build on each decision.  After awhile, it will be second nature to choose almonds over nuggets!

Here’s a fat super food list that will help you make the most of your meals!

Avocados 

Almonds

Salmon

Mackerel 

Macadamia Nuts

Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

Pumpkin/Flax Seeds

Eggs

Canola Oil

Almond Butter

Walnuts

 

5 Tips to Cheat Like a Rockstar

Cheat meals are a blessing and a curse.  Some plans advise us to steer clear of indulgence, while others embrace the concept of the occasional delight.  I have done it both ways.  Being so strict that I drove myself crazy never gave me the complete satisfaction that total body health and fitness is supposed to.  I found that cheat meals can offer the brain a quick “recharge” and allow you to enjoy yourself from time to time.  On a strict diet, we can become discontent with ourselves.  We feel trapped by a totalitarian food regime and that any deviation from the plan will derail all the progress we have made.

I believe in the 80/20 rule.  If you do the right thing 80% of the time, then the other 20% will not ruin all your hard work.  We have to learn to stop punishing ourselves for little deviations from the track we’re on.  Once we start to perceive a positive correlation between food and our bodies, we can truly enjoy the awesomeness provided by quality nutrition.

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Here are 5 easy tips that can help you on your cheat journey:

1.Hold on to your sanity.

Take small steps to achieve your nutrition goals.  Don’t cut every “bad” thing out of your diet immediately.  You can throw your body and brain into shock and decrease your chances of continuing.  Decrease your consumption of naughty indulgences over a months time so you can acclimate your brain to the new habits!

2.Make your cheats work for you.

Planning your cheat meals on weekends, particularly after a workout, is the best time that I have found to properly reward my good behavior throughout the week.  When you eat sweets after an intense training session, your body utilizes as fuel to repair your depleted muscles instead of railroading the excess sugar to your fat supply stations.

3.Use cheats as a motivation – not a punishment. (Rewards!)

Saving cheat meals or sweets until the end of your week gives you something to look forward too!  Train your mind to think of these meals as a reward for all your hard work instead of a shameful act that you can’t tell your mother about.  This will give food a positive association in your brain and give you an extra boost of motivation when things get tough.  Mark it on your calendar if you need to!

4.Create a positive idea of food and relax!

Planning and prepping your meals can become tedious from time to time.  But if you work hard and stay consistent most of the time then you can enjoy the fruits of your labor while having a good meal now and then.  Don’t feel bad about going out to dinner with friends or munching on popcorn at the occasional movie!  A diet deviation won’t kill you.  It is when bad foods become the standard that you slide down a slippery slope towards unhappiness.

5.Enjoy life and enjoy your diet.

Always enjoy yourself.  With the right goal, plan, and consistent hard work you can navigate the pitfalls of life without issue.  As you become more comfortable with your body and mental resolve, the minutia of the diet details will be less relevant.  Attempt to have fun with your fitness and stop giving yourself such a hard time!

Are Optimized Towards Your Health & Fitness Goals? Get Your Free Personalized Assessment From Onnit Now.

Snap Shot: Ketogenic Diets

“Ketogenic Diet” and “Ketosis” are words that don’t mean much to the average person.  To a fitness enthusiast these words are gaining more and more momentum.  Most new diet aficionados have seen these crop up in recent publications, articles and books.  The art of ketosis is gaining traction in the fitness communities across the globe.  But what is Ketosis?  What is a ketogenic diet?

I’m not a doctor or a scientist so I’ll keep this brief and leave the nitty gritty to the big dogs.  Put simply:  Ketosis is when your body begins utilizing its stored fat as its primary source of fuel.  This also produces ketones, which your body can use as an energy mechanism.  Ketosis is achieved through a “Ketogenic diet”.  By restricting carbohydrates to about 50 grams or lower in a given day, you can begin to move your body into ketosis.

This is an excellent way to burn up fat and lean out your body.  Like all things, there needs to be moderation and monitoring.  Going overboard by starvation or completely elminating all forms of carbohydrates can throw your body into ketoacidosis, which can be a big problem for those in favor of living.

When you eat a diet that forgoes breads, pastas, potatoes, processed carbohydrates, and all forms of sugar, your body instinctively reacts by turning to its stored fat for sustenance.  Without the presence of fast digesting, quick energy carbs, fat will become the furnace feeder.  For anyone who is struggling with an excess of body fat or has struggled to drop weight in the past, this style of eating can be incredibly beneficial.

There are hardcore believers, like in any school of thought, that think this is the be all/end all way to live.  Carbs and grains are the devil and we should burn down all bakeries!

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I think the balance always lies somewhere in the middle.  I believe a person can eat in the Ketogenic spectrum 75% of the time and enjoy a few “cheats” the other 25%.  Food is not inherently evil, except for high fructose corn syrup!  The problem lies with us.  When we consume massive amounts of processed sludge, our bodies begin acting abnormally.

Over time, we develop diseases, excess fat, mental deficiencies, and a multitude of inflammatory issues in response to the unnatural “american” diet.  Our bodies were not designed to handle 100s of grams of sugar a day or a constant pound of croissants down our face holes.  We are at our optimal when we introduce our guts to good greens, healthy fats, and animal/plant proteins.  Diversity is the name of game.

I utilized a Ketogenic lifestyle as part of an experiment Dr. Ed Adams constructed for the Wreck It Crew. (You can read about that here: 2 month experiment)  I ate this low carb/high fat diet for 60 days and some crazy things happened.  I wasn’t hungry all the time, my brain seemed to operate on a clearer plane, my energy didn’t dip in the afternoon, and I lost 15 pounds (mostly fat).

I felt great, looked great, and was free to design my day based on how I felt instead of how hungry I was or what macro-combo I needed.  It was an awesome experience and I believe everyone should give it a shot for at least 30 days.  Ketosis could be the missing link in the chain to fitness and nutritional success!

Without the presence of fast digesting, quick energy carbs, fat will become the furnace feeder.

Here are some great resources and guides to help you along your Ketogenic journey.  I utilized the Primal Blue Print by Mark Sisson.  It can be a technical read, but it provides some great research and concepts to help you craft a high fat/low carb happy bus.  Here is an awesome resource guide to Ketogenic living from Bodybuilding.com.  You will find some ballin insight, FAQs, common made mistakes, and general knowledge about this style of eating.  Also, check out this big low carb foods list that will aid you in your search for the perfect ingredients to ignite your fat burning voyage!

I thoroughly enjoyed this body/mind experiment.  It taught me so many things about my physical needs, reactions to outside stimulus, and gave me the tools to better create a lifestyle that meets my end game goals.  Give this diet a try and see for yourself how beneficial it can be!

 

 

My 2 Months without Carbs, Sugar, or Supplements

I have always been of the belief that I had this “diet” thing figured out.  I read research, gobbled up multiple sources of food literature, and rooted out as many pieces of information that I possibly could on how the body processes the foods we eat.  I got locked into the idea that my brain was full of all the possibilities that laid before me in the spectrum of nutrition.  Of course, this is not the case.  There is always room to expand my knowledge base, learn something new, and apply different mechanics to my ever evolving search for physical performance.  I was shocked at the results that I experienced through a two month journey into a different diet/nutrient model.

My good friend, Dr. Edward Adams of STAYRXFIT, LLC and the GeneRXations Podcast, set forth a challenge to me and my cohorts.  One day, I happened to show him my supplement cabinet and his face contorted into a mass of panic, concern, and terror.  In his well educated mind, there was no reason for a human being to be consuming so many manufactured supplements.  I was flooding my body, on a daily basis, with a multitude of non regulated ingredients, some of which haven’t undergone the stringent testing necessary to evaluate their true effectiveness.

I was taking these products on the basis of what I had read and researched, as well as what top fitness professional had recommended.  I lived and breathed supplementation.  These products had been such a large portion of my regimen that I didn’t think to question their validity.  I saw results and these supplements aided in my performance, endurance, and recovery.  I was religious in my consumption and held strong to the idea that, without these ingredients, my workout gains would falter.  I didn’t once consider any ramifications of this habitual supplementation or if I was, in fact, doing more harm to my body then good.  Pros take them; so, I must take them too was my motto.

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Here’s a quick run down of my routine:

Morning:

  1. Whey Protein
  2. Multi-vitamin
  3. Green Tea Extract
  4. L-Carnitine 
  5. CLA
  6. Caffeine 
  7. Yohimbe Root Extract
  8. Omega 3/Fish oil

Pre-Workout:

  1. Whey Protein
  2. Pre-workout Supplement
  3. Green Tea Extract
  4. Yohimbe Root Extract

During Workout:

  1. Amino Acid Mix

Post-Workout:

  1. Whey/Casein Protein
  2. Creatine
  3. Candy

Bed Time:

  1. Casein Protein
  2. CLA
  3. Omega 3/Fish oil

Dr. E made a few things quite clear to me.

A)  There was no way my body could use everything I was taking in.

B) I was spending hundreds of dollars a month on supplements.

C) I could be causing lasting damage in my pursuit of momentary gains.

He set forth a challenge that inspired me and the Wreck It Crew to figure out how our bodies naturally functioned and if we truly needed all these supplements.  He measured our sizes and weights and then told us to steer clear of any type of supplementation, including protein, for a few months.  We were tasked with collecting all of our nutrients from the foods we ingested.  I also decided to try a different diet that restricted grains, breads, processed carbs and all sugars.  Double whammy!  Needless to say, the first week was brutal.  My mental resolve was challenged every morning and I found myself salivating over a tub of half used whey protein.  My routine was so deeply ingrained that I could barely make it through my first few workouts off the supplement train.  My lack of sugar and carbs didn’t make anything easier.  I went through small “withdrawals” that gave me headaches, low energy, and a decreased mental capacity.  I was in a serious funk and, for an addict, that can be a real dark place to be.

Luckily, I had encouragement and support through the guys going through the same experiment as me.  Their resolve strengthened mine and helped me over the first week hump.  By week two, my supplement cravings had diminished and I found working out without them to be quite enjoyable.  My new diet had begun to take effect and I no longer experienced the sugar pains.  On week three, things took a miraculous turn.  I wasn’t hungry as often, I had regular amounts of energy throughout the day, and I crushed intense workouts with ease.  I felt great and had a new perspective on my fitness game.

Towards the end of my 60 day no supplement and diet overhaul, I had lost 15 pounds and had the lowest fat percentage I have ever experienced on my body.  I no longer planned my day around when my next dose of miracle grow was coming and had complete freedom over my appetite.  The freedom was the most amazing part to me.  Before, I had time frames for when I had to workout or ingest a particular ingredient that would cut into my schedule.  Now I base my day on how I feel and what will be best for me in the moment.

This “free-form” approach to fitness was foreign to me but became one of the greatest lessons I gathered from this experience.  Now, I am able to hit a workout on a whim, without having to run through a supplement checklist before I am ready to wreck shop.  I have the insight to craft the supplement and meal plan that best fits my body and my needs.  There is no cookie cutter approach to diet and exercise.  It is a lifestyle that is ever changing.

With a clear goal in mind, I can build the plan that will put me in the best position for success.  There are no supplements that I absolutely have to incorporate for my dreams to manifest.  You can’t buy supplements for hard work, dedication, passion, and happiness.  Those things don’t come in pill form.  Trust me I have tried that route!

Everyone has a different chemical make up that responds differently to the food and supplements we ingest.  I know my body better through this experience and I thank Dr. Ed for showing me the light.  I challenge you to try a natural approach to your lifestyle.  Focus on the foods and nutrients that your body requires.  Once you have a base line, add in the supplements that will best help you reach your goals and don’t go overboard!  We are here to help.  Email us at wreckognizefitness@gmail.com if you have questions or just want to have a personal conversation about your fitness.  Get out there and Wreck It!

Free Ebooks: The Total Human Cleanse & The Definitive Guide to Detoxing Your Body

Sugar: Reality Check

We have all seen the news and heard the data revolving around refined sugar.  It is bad, plain and simple.  The problem is that sugar resides in almost everything we eat in modern society.  Companies crank out candy, chocolate, pastries, soda, and candy coated anything like it’s going out of style.  But sugar also hides in our canned/bottled sauces, condiments, creamers, milk, protein bars, jerky, juices, granola, breakfast cereals, pastas, and breads.

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We can consume 50-100 grams of sugar in a day without even realizing it.  Even if we cut back on  “bad foods”  we will still, somehow, exceed the recommended daily dose of sugar (25 grams/6 teaspoons).  There is literally no escaping the sweet stuff.  Ingesting too much sugar, over an extended period of time, has been linked to a multitude of harmful side effects such as:

  • Cardio vascular disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Liver Damage
  • Metabolic Dysfunction
  • Immune Dysfunction
  • Hypertension
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimers

This is just a short list.  Each of these issues can be expanded on at length, along with an alarming number of other problems that excessive sugar intake can cause.  We don’t think about these problems and diseases because they don’t affect us immediately.  That cookie won’t kill you today, but 20 years of cookies will most certainly lead to something that will.  I wanted to give a top down view of the effects that large amounts of sugar can have on the body.  My ultimate goal is to give you enough knowledge to help you navigate nutrition effectively, without getting too deep scientifically.

When you eat sugar, your blood sugar level rises (obviously).  Your pancreas proceeds to release insulin.  This hormone is used to transport the sugar, which is toxic in high amounts, out of the blood stream and into your muscles.  The catch:  your muscles can only hold so much sugar at one time for energy output.

If you haven’t done any sternous exercise right before you ingested your treat, the excess sugar is then carted off to your fat cells.  These cells gobble up the remaining sugar and store it for later use.  Because your blood was flooded with insulin to remove the sugar, your body enters hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and your brain hates that!  You are instantly sent signals, even if you’re full, to ingest more sweetness and the process starts over again.

Over time, your body becomes tolerant to the effects of sugar and you require more to produce the same energy and euphoric feelings you used to get from that one donut.  This creates addiction like symptoms.  Your body and brain constantly crave sweets with a vengeance and, if you go cold turkey, you can experience similar withdrawals akin to an avid opiate user (to a lesser degree).

This cycle of highs and lows will continue until you cut refined sugar and process carbs down to a minimal level.  Your body sees processed carbs (bread, pasta, and pastries) as if they were sugar in disguise.  It simply doesn’t know the difference between a slice of toast and a snickers bar.  With our diets revolving around these types of carbohydrates and dessert like snacks, it becomes extremely difficult to remove our sweet teeth.

If we continue to eat the way we do, we are destined for more and more of our population to enter into the realm of obesity.  The way we eat is slowly making us sick.  Companies want their food to be sold because it tastes great, but if their products are inevitably killing off the population, who will be left to buy cereal or twinkies?

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We have to adopt a different style of eating that benefits our bodies and our minds.  Rewarding yourself with a sweet cheat meal once in a while is fine and even beneficial to your sanity in our society.  It is when you wash down your bag of chips with a 20oz coke, followed by a honey bun on a daily basis, that the grim reaper starts to take notice.

Try to taper your reliance on sugar over a few weeks.  Replace a dessert with fresh fruit and some whipped cream.  Cook three dinners a week at home with your family, with an emphasis on healthy meats and good greens.  Keep a healthy nut mix (almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts) by your side throughout the day and focus more on good fats (coconut, almond butter, butter, olive oil) and minimize the processed carbs.

If you feel a sweet craving coming, grab your significant other and go for a stroll in the neighborhood.  You could even keep a journal dedicated to your food intake and reward yourself with a treat after 5-6 days of honest eating.  The possibilities are truly infinite.  Be creative and learn from your mistakes.  Don’t feel bad for cheating.  Use it as a reward and slowly add more days before a cheat meal.  You will be amazed by how quickly small tweaks will catapult you further and further from sugar town.

keto food pyramid

Remember, you are not just doing this for your waistline, which will inevitably shrink once you cut out the processed crud, but you are also doing this for your health.  You don’t want to be in a hospital regretting every piece of cake you destroyed or skittle you popped.

The risks of sugar and processed carbohydrates are real and catastrophic.  Do yourself and your family a favor.  Eat better, live longer, and enjoy the time you have been given.  Don’t let your sweet tooth check you out too early.

If you have about 45 minutes and want a more in-depth look at sugar and its effects, here is just one documentary on youtube by CBC News: The Secrets of Sugar.

Why do I care what I eat? Taking responsibility for one’s health

No matter what your activity level is or what your specific health goal is, it is always beneficial to eat better. I understand how anxiety-provoking it can be to recognize the impact of our dietary choices and consider making changes. But it’s also exciting and tremendously rewarding! Along my journey, I have found it to be incredibly empowering to take responsibility for what I put in my mouth, and to realize the great service I am doing for my health and happiness when I eat well. Exercise gets the spotlight as the way to good health in the vast majority of media and marketing ploys, but it is only a piece of the puzzle. It’s well worth your time to closely examine and possibly change your food choices!

Nutrition plays a role in every possible function of the human body. If you think about it for just a second, that will seem pretty obvious. We are LITERALLY what we eat at the cellular level. It makes sense then that nutrition plays a causal role in the development of diseases, including America’s top killers—heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It is an absolute shame that we do not hear about this more, but doctors have simply not been provided with nutritional education and do not get reimbursed when they counsel patients in the lifestyle changes that can literally save their lives.

This is a close-up of vegetables and fruits.

Plant foods have the power to turn off genes that promote the development of killer disease processes. For many young folks, this is not enough motivation to change one’s habits. With youth comes a mindset of invincibility. However, by and large, young people already have the beginnings of heart disease in their blood vessels. SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT of 12-to-14-year-olds have early signs of cholesterol disease in their hearts. That’s the vast majority of tweens, and I imagine you’re likely older than 14 if you are reading this.

If I still don’t have you, consider this: you will look and feel a whole lot better. Plants have the power to provide an abundance of energy, mental clarity, enhanced athletic performance, and a myriad of desired effects, such as fat and weight loss; soft, clear skin; healthy, lustrous hair; strong bones, teeth, and nails; decreased bloating and puffiness; better digestion; reduced body odor; clear, bright eyes; and more! Interested in losing weight and leaning out? Diet, above and beyond physical activity, is the most efficient way to do just that.

SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT of 12-to-14-year-olds have early signs of cholesterol disease in their hearts.

Granny’s advice to “eat your veggies” is absolutely correct. The problem is typically implementation. In both my professional and personal lives, I’ve heard the reasons why. “It costs too much to eat healthy.” “I don’t have time to prepare those meals.” “I don’t know how to cook that way.” “My kids/spouse/partner won’t eat that.” “I don’t like fruit/veggies.” That’s all well and good, but at the end of the day, it is YOUR life and YOUR body. It is YOUR choice how you feed yourself. How you choose to eat will have consequences. It is within your power to determine the trajectory of those consequences—aspiring towards extremely good health and a long life, or towards the typical American path, riddled with disease, low quality of life, and premature death. This is not meant to scare you, but to be a reality check. Your health is in your hands, not your doctor’s. And that’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Guest Post:  Taylor Norris

Taylor Norris

Nutrition Basics

chicken1

Chicken Breast with Sweet Potatoes/Carrots

We all struggle with trying to find the perfect diet. The problem is the word “diet”. This, in my experience, is the wrong way to go and can lead to much unneeded stress, disappointment, and discouragement. A diet is simply unsustainable. We become entrapped in an endless cycle of diet, failure, new diet, and then failure again. Each time we put ourselves through this psychological seismograph we inevitably emerge angry and scarred by a lack of progress. The only way to jump out of this cycle of torment is to create a true lifestyle change.

Diets, by their definition, are temporary objectives that people adhere to in order to lose fat or cut weight as fast as possible. A lifestyle change is something that becomes habitual, gratifying, and sustainable. When you systematically alter the food you ingest while understanding the purpose of this change, you can create a healthy and fulfilling daily menu. It is a very simple concept that is hard to master. It takes time, energy, and forethought to consistently eat the correct foods that will allow you to reach the goals you set.

First, it is wise to understand how the foods you eat affect your body. There are three main macronutrients that your body can utilize to create amazing results or disappointing consequences. The macros are: Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates. Each is necessary for your body to mold itself into the figure you desire. Too much or too little of anyone of these macro nutrients and the balance is thrown off. Your body will attempt to compensate for the imbalance to dire effects. A great beginner guide is to consume 45% protein, 25% fats and 30% carbs on a daily basis. So you should aim to eat mostly lean protein and a small portion of fats and carbohydrates with each meal to hit this breakdown. As a rule, think of how your plate would look with almost half the portion being protein and the other half split between fats and carbs. This is a very well rounded starting place and can help you begin your fitness journey. Everyone’s body is different so later on down the road you can adjust your macros to suit you. Let me explain each nutrient.

steakQ

Steak with Quinoa

Protein:
This is the building block of muscle. It provides the most powerful energy source for your body. When you workout, you are basically destroying your muscle fibers and protein is the best way to help those muscles rebuild themselves.  Not only is protein needed to build muscle, it is also necessary for muscle maintenance and energy stability.  Without adequate protein, your body will shrivel and your energy reserves will be at constant negative.  The target is lean protein sources that are not fried. Frying anything has a way of destroying some of the goodness that the food provides and adds a bunch of not so good fats to the mix. Always try to grill, pan sear, or bake your protein sources instead of adding unnecessary fats to the equation. A meal plan rich in protein will open the door for you to excel in all of your fitness goals.  Great sources include:  chicken, lean ground beef, fish, pork tenderloin, venison, lean steak cuts, protein powder, and eggs.

Fats:
People have a big hang up about this macro nutrient. From birth, we are basically trained to avoid all fats at all costs.   The problem is that there are many fats out there that do wonders for you body and you will need them to help boost your ability to shed pounds.  The best fats are omega-3s, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. Good fat sources are: Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, peanut butter, salmon, and coconut oil.  These will help you burn more fat, keep your heart healthy, and allow you to stay fuller for longer periods.  Beware, some bad fats do exist.  Trans fats are the killers of positive gains and can be found in many fried or heavily processed treats.  Avoid these no matter what. Saturated fats are not too terrible but need to be limited in a healthy eating plan.

Carbohydrates:
This macro nutrient can either be the bane of your existence or the answer to all your prayers.  In simple terms, you should think of Carbohydrates as sugar. Sugar will either be released slowly or very rapidly, depending on the type of carb you are ingesting.  There are slow digesting carbs such as: sweet potatoes, wheat breads, wheat pastas, whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, and vegetables.  These are great during the day and provide a steady source of energy that your body can use to fuel your activities.  Then there are fast digesting carbs like: candy, white bread, potatoes, processed snacks, chocolate, cakes, and basically anything that tastes too good to be true. If eaten during the day, these will spike your insulin levels too quickly and force your body to store the excess sugar as fat. (Fruits fall into this category but are full of good nutrients. Just limit how much you eat and keep them closer to the A.M. time frame so your body can use them as energy to start the day.)

porkpasta

Pork Tenderloin with Wheat Pasta/Light Red Sauce

If you have a crazy sweet tooth, do not panic! You can still eat your treats, if you time the consumption perfectly. After a tough workout, your body is depleted of all its resources and is begging for reinforcements to be called. Eating some fast digesting carbs within 30 minutes of your workout will help speed recovery and provide your body with the the much needed energy source it is screaming for. Don’t go overboard. 25-40 grams of the sweet stuff will be just enough.  I like a single serving of gummy bears or three packs of smarties after my intense sessions.

This is a crash course in nutrition. There are many tweaks, additions, subtractions, and formulas that can be used to create your perfect meal mix. I like to start off simple. Just plan your meals ahead of time with the right mix of protein, fats, and slow digesting carbs. In my experience, it is best to eat smaller portions about every three hours. This keeps you satiated and helps rev up your metabolism throughout the day. The change will be difficult, but once you get used to the preparation and understand how the food you eat affects your body, you can dine with a purpose. Ask yourself before every meal: Will this food help me reach my goal? If the answer is no, make an adjustment and eat for positive results!