Carbs to the Rescue

Carbs to the Rescue

Ah Carbs!  The pleasure trigger of the taste buds and the bain of all the empty calories we consume.

Carbohydrates get a bad reputation as being the worst thing to enter our dietary lives–EVER!

But as with most things the majority of people are getting this wrong. This is mostly because they are not doing the research themselves because they are relying on all the sound bytes they hear…

And while I am just another sound byte–I have at least done my homework.

Carbohydrates are a necessary part of our nutritional plan. It is where we get our energy so we can, you know, do stuff.

If we were not getting energy from our food we would feel deflated and tired–all the time–and you would quite literally be unable to function.

If you are trying to lose weight many diets encourage you to cut out carbohydrates–completely.  

Many people grab onto that advice and cut out all carbs!  This does lead to weight loss but very often that weight loss is too much, too fast, can be very dangerous and is not sustainable.

Those diets fail–or I should say the people on those diets fail to reach their goals because they cannot follow the program long term as a lifestyle…I’ll discuss that next time.

Back to carbohydrates–we cannot survive without carbohydrates in our system everyday and this is why:

Carbs come in 3 main categories:

  1. Sugars or simple sugars like glucose, fructose etc. that are basically already broken down for us. These go into our system, give us a little zip of energy and then fizzle out quickly. Because they are simple it takes a lot of them to make us feel “full” or “satisfied” so we eat a lot of them.
  2. Starches are more complex sugars that need to be broken down by our digestive system to create the glucose our bodies need for energy.  So these carbohydrates take longer to break down and give us a slow burn of energy.
  3. Fiber.  Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by the body but is needed to aid digestion and to give us a happy gut and happy bathroom experiences. This, as you know, is super important!

When we eat too many carbs, the body can store some of them for future energy and turns them into fat. Not good.

In a nutshell–we need to eat carbohydrates that are complex and whole to provide us with that slow burn and with fiber. Processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in everything else are just empty calories that do not serve us!

The amount of carbohydrates that we need depends on the number of calories you need per day to reach your nutritional goals. I discuss that in a previous post called The Big Mac.

The best carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole fruits, potatoes, legumes and whole grains. It is important though to remember to watch the serving sizes and the preparation of these foods so that we don’t change a good carbohydrate into a fattening dish.

We also don’t want to eat so much of a good thing that we turn it into a bad thing by overloading our bodies with too much sugar–even from whole foods–that is needed in a day.

For people who are currently battling obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease a low carb diet can be life changing. And I think–especially given our current society–that this is important to mention.

And while a low carb diet may come to your rescue–we need to include the proper water intake, exercise and a host of other changes to our habits as a permanent life change for our rescue to be sustainable.

Remember that carbohydrates did not cause our obesity and a host of other health problems.  Our ancestors ate all kinds of carbs and were healthy–and thin!

Our ancestors, though, ate whole foods–not processed foods!  And there is a way to include whole foods and the science of convenience in processed foods to help us achieve both nutritional values and health objectives!!

While I am still digging for the answers–remember to take everything you know and understand to be true with a grain of salt. Do some discovering of yourself and what works best for your body–because no two bodies are alike!

Reach out with a comment or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

Protein Packed

Protein Packed

I am quickly learning that my curiosity about nutrition is very hard work which was not what I expected, but I have always enjoyed a challenge–and a challenge this certainly is.

Learning more about macro nutrients and how they impact the body has been an exciting ride–which I can’t seem to get off of–and today I am full of protein!

Protein is one of the important macro nutrients that we need to have for a healthy diet. Getting the right proteins and in the right amount is the trick.

Where do we get our protein, what are the best types of protein and how much is needed?

First–where do we get our protein?  I thought the easy answer was meat! Beef, chicken and pork are very good sources of protein, but they are not the only sources of high protein.

There is protein in dairy products like eggs, natural cheeses, yogurt, 2% milk, organic milks, and whey and casein protein powders (for protein shakes.)

Proteins can also be found in seafood like Halibut, Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Tilapia, Anchovies and Sardines–and in all kinds of beans: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and so on.

I was very surprised at the amount of proteins found in nuts and grains like almonds, walnuts, cashews, oats and brown rice. Who knew? Well, I think many people knew–but I didn’t or I wasn’t really paying attention.

How much protein does each person need?  If we remember that protein is needed to build and repair muscles, organs and our skin then it makes sense that we need a fair amount of that.

For a normally active person of normal weight 25-30% of your daily calories from protein would be a good amount. Once again, math will have to be involved in your plans.

That does not mean that I am advocating going out and having a couple of greasy hamburgers a day! While that may have a lot of protein–it also has a lot of other stuff that is not good for you!

Protein also has some magical powers if you are looking to lose weight. When you increase your protein the body’s metabolism increases–burning more calories faster–at the same time that you are feeling fuller and will then eat less of everything.  Magic.

On top of that, proteins help you build muscle mass, which will keep your metabolism at an optimal level to keep burning calories–even when you sleep!

The most exciting thing I have learned in recent days about proteins is that it helps create enzymes that not only repair muscles–especially after a workout–but it helps repair organ tissues.

There is a great deal of research that is showing that increasing your protein intake–as we get older especially–helps us lower blood pressure, and combat diabetes and since it helps maintain muscle–it keeps us stronger longer.

Can we over do it?  Of course, as with anything else–too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.  There is some evidence–although no real scientific proof yet–that if you have kidney disease, too much protein can be harmful.

But for a healthy person getting the right amount of protein each day can help you stay healthy, maintain a good weight, prevent muscle loss as we get older, and keep our metabolism working at optimal levels.

Most healthy women should have between 45 and 75 grams of protein a day and healthy men should have between 55 and 90 grams of protein a day.  The more active you are–the more protein you should have!

Living our best life is important to living a long healthy life–and being healthy and active is the key!

Think about how you can protein pack your days to a healthier you!

Leave a comment below or contact me on emptynestsavvy@gmail.com!

 

Our Surroundings Mirror Us

Our Surroundings Mirror Us

The world changes all the time and constantly, which is ironic, since most of us do not deal well with change.

Part of my journey–in writing this blog and learning more about nutrition and health and wanting to help others, and myself–is that I have gotten to communicate with a lot of people.

And while this week and beyond I am still going to pursue my goals and dreams and share them with you, I thought I would take a break from thinking about carbohydrates and proteins for one day to share something else.

I discovered something about people that I think I knew but had not truly thought about.  Our surroundings mirror us–sometimes in the worst way.

I’ve encountered several people that like me are trying to lose weight and live a more healthy life. People who are serious about nutrition and exercise. We are all on this journey to feel and look better and live a long healthy life.

I’ve also encountered people who are wanting the same things and looking for support but are unwilling–or terrified–to change.

I can completely relate to that.  It is scary to change, to let go of the past and move into the future and make changes. Especially when changes will affect those around us. And when we worry that those we love will not accept and love us back–as we make those changes.

I will share the perfect example–in my own life–and see if you can relate.  Before I began losing weight I felt bulky, swollen, and awkward. My house also had a lot of extra “stuff” in it. Papers and files and clothes and knick knacks.

The house was mirroring me!

My house was clean but full–if you’ve read some of my earlier posts you’ll know that one of my goals this year is to declutter and I’ve been making a great deal of progress!

More amazing still, the more I lightened my load at home, the lighter I became–quite literally.  And I am starting to see the connection for some.

So how do we shine up our mirrors so that what is reflected back is exactly what you want to see?

Decluttering the house–especially the kitchen–is a good place to start.  The more I learn about the good foods to eat–the more I fill my pantry with those and have replaced the processed foods we are no longer choosing to eat.

Another thing we should clean up are our thoughts and feelings–about ourselves. That mirror reflects not only us, but the us we are trying to hide.

Hurts and pain, sadness and anxieties are all part of the reflection–and sometimes we eat the wrong foods and don’t take care of ourselves to hide ourselves away–maybe to protect ourselves from our pasts or the fears of the future.

So for what it’s worth look at your surroundings and decide what you want to change.  Nothing stays the same–we can fight change or we can embrace it.

I think you’ll find–like I am learning about myself–that when you enjoy the changes in your life the mirror will reflect it.

Have a wonderful Monday! And comment below–let me know how letting go of things and the past can make your future strong!

 

Paper, Paper, Everywhere

Paper, Paper, Everywhere

Now that I have a set schedule for keeping my electronic files and folders organized and backed up and safe–it is time to attack the next phase of organizing—paper.

At one time, paper was a wonderful invention! It allowed us mere humans to write down our thoughts, our histories, create our art and our personal stories among a myriad of other things.

Somewhere along the way, though, we had so much written down on paper and everything became so important to keep that we started–and for many of us–are still drowning in paper!

Now there is paper and then there is paper–and believe it or not we categorize our paper in the back of our heads: junk, reading materials, records, and memorabilia.

There are really only three ways to take care of our paper: we can get rid of it, scan it and keep the paper electronically (to be able to get rid of it), or keep it.

To get rid of papers that have any identifying information I suggest getting a shredder–it has become a very good friend to me–I call my shredder Rosie.

Here is how you can organize your paper.   

Junk. There is a great deal of paper in our lives right now that we can really just throw away. Grab a plastic bag and go to town.  All the junk paper in your office, bedroom, kitchen table, counters and any other flat surface in your home can go. Old receipts, advertisements, junk mail, take out menus, empty envelopes and the like fall into this category.

Reading Materials. Magazines and newspapers also that are piling up because you haven’t had a chance to read them in our busy runaround lives–should be walking out of your home right into the recycle bin. Books:  we have so many books in our lives. Keep the ones you love–and give away (or sell) the rest.

Just by taking care of those two categories of paper you will feel lighter.

Records and Memorabilia. Our records and our memorabilia are harder categories to take care of. Here is an easy solution–and this is what I did.  I will warn you that this is not a popular solution and some of your family members (or your dog) may look at you like you are crazy–but it worked for me.

I put all–and I do mean all–my records and memorabilia in a huge pile. It actually turned out to be 4 very large piles!  And then decide with each paper if you need to shred it, scan it (and then shred it), or keep it.

It is time consuming. It takes concentration. And it is one of the most satisfying chores I have ever completed. Now there is no paper, paper, everywhere!

Why?  Because it has to be done. Because you will feel lighter and cleaner. Because you will be making room for all the good things coming your way.

Living the life you want faster, smarter and better can be done with less paper. Have fun with it!

What are your challenges when it comes to all the paper in your life? How do you feel about getting rid of the paper in your home?

Comment below and let me know your thoughts!

 

The Joy of Living by My Calendar

The Joy of Living by My Calendar

One thing I have implemented for myself this year that has helped me grow–is my calendar.

 

I’ve gotten a new calendar every year and usually by February I have stopped putting “important” dates and “to dos by” dates on it.  But this year, I’ve taken a new approach and it has been working extremely well.

As I have been making plans for building the life I really want I realized that I cannot live the life I would like to live if I do not honor my time.

Time after all is that one commodity that no one seems to have enough of yet some people seem to get a great deal of important things done and these are things they truly love to do. And we have to realize that all of us have the same 24 hours each day.

Please understand that I am not suggesting that you fill your calendar with more events and tasks so that you are busy all the time. What I am suggesting is that you only put things in your calendar that have true meaning to you.

What distinguishes the importance of our time is defining what those things are that are important to you. Those are the things that go in your calendar.

One of my favorite quotes by Franklin Covey is:

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

What are your priorities?  This can be a very difficult question to answer. Depending on where you are in your life, your priorities may be very different.  There really is no right or wrong answer for this.

Priorities, also, are hard to define because we feel “selfish” when expressing what we really want for ourselves–often it is not what other people want for us.  If we only do things that is expected of us by others it will not necessarily make us happy or move us closer to our own goals.

Making the other people in our lives happy is important–especially if it brings you joy. But your calendar should not be filled with tasks and events of or for other people.

So, I sat down and made a list of my priorities.  This was not an easy task. But I was able to narrow it down to 6 things. Then I noted them on the first page of my calendar.  It serves as a reminder of what I want more of in my life.

And since then, before I add things to my calendar–I think about whether the task, event, invitation or effort is going to serve me and my priorities, my goals, and my happiness.

I know–it sounds totally selfish! But guess what?  I have not attended events I did not want to attend, I have not spent time with people I did not want to spend time with and I did not waste time completing tasks that have no real importance in my life.

The results is that I have had more time to spend with the people I really want to be with and I have been more relaxed and happy when with them. (I think they are enjoying the happier me! Or they might think I’m on medication!) I have not had to pretend to enjoy being somewhere I did not want to be and those useless tasks did not have to get done anyway!

Another plus is that I am learning to say no. No to things that waste time, no to experiences I do not want to have and no to people that are not part of my priorities.

Now when I look at my calendar–which I do each morning–I find the things that I really enjoy staring back at me. It helps me clearly plan what is needed to complete necessary tasks and it allows me to look forward to the events coming up because I am so excited about them.

And although it is only February, I have already planned many things well into the summer. Things that match my priorities and that bring me joy. Things I am looking forward to.

What kind of tasks or events that align with your priorities are you most excited about? Do you take the time to schedule these things in your calendar for yourself?  Comment below! And as always have fun!

 

On Turning 50

On Turning 50

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. So today I am officially 50 years and 1 day old!

I really don’t feel any different that a few days ago…but I do feel a lot different from a few years ago…or was it 20 years ago?

Some people may say that I am over the hill.  Lucky for me I’m not a fast climber–so I don’t feel I have actually reached the top yet!

For the next 50 years I think I am going to continue enjoying the climb and not worry too much about getting there or what the hill will look like on the other side.

I think another 50 years should be enough to decide whether I go down the hill slowly or continue to enjoy it a while longer.

There are some good things about the climb–at least that I have learned over the first 50 years–that I can pack into my backpack for the next 50 years:

  1. Things that were important to me when I was 20–well I can’t even remember what those things were so…NOT IMPORTANT now!
  2. Money comes and goes…work hard, pay your bills and enjoy your life.
  3. Once you have kids your life will be different forever! And it is a wonderful forever to be a part of their lives.
  4. You may not always be with God, but God will always be with you. Once you figure this out stick with Him–it makes life much easier.
  5. The real necessities of life are few–food, shelter, love and strawberries!
  6. Education is essential! Never stop learning and understand that the most important learning does not come from a book.
  7. Learn to be yourself and don’t worry about what other people think about WHO you are!
  8. Young people are stupid.  We were stupid once too.  Enjoy the show, help them if they ask, stand back and let them figure it out. We did!
  9. Leave the toxic people at the bottom of the hill–you do not need them on your climb.
  10. Drink a lot of water!
  11. Appreciate nature more! Sunshine, Wind, Snow, Trees, Rain, Blue Skies, plants and animals. Their energy gives you energy.
  12. There is no need to take yourself so seriously–no one else does!
  13. Wear comfortable shoes.
  14. Pay attention to all that is around you–you never know if you are being too busy to notice the important stuff.
  15. Take the time to thank the people that are helping you climb this hill–you didn’t get here all by yourself.
  16. A few wrinkles really don’t matter.
  17. Ignore the people who say change is hard–it really isn’t once you’ve made up your mind.
  18. Accept that you cannot change the world but you can be kind to all you meet.

That’s it. Sage wisdom if you ask me…or not, see #12.

My big take away this birthday is that we should all enjoy our lives and where it leads us, there is a purpose and a reason. We may not always know what those are but it’s there.  And even through the bad times–find a way to have fun, we only climb this hill once!

Comment below to share your thoughts on getting older, enjoying your life or if you have a tip on enjoying life to the fullest!

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