The Big Mac

The Big Mac

The more I learn about nutrition, the more interested and confused I become.  No wonder so many people try so many diets and either fail miserably or succeed for a short while and then fall of the wagon and fail.

Now don’t misunderstand…diets do work for the most part but they only work as long as you continue the diet–which long term for most people is very hard–because diets all eliminate something major that the body needs.

What I am learning is better is creating your own nutritional plan that works for you. Yes–I did say create…but you can also adopt a way of life that provides you all the nutrients you need without the deprivation of most diets out there.

When you do this and keep it up and include at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday you will lose weight, feel better and naturally be healthier.

In order to create (or adopt) the right nutritional plan for you, you have to understand the Macros–or as I call them “the Big Mac”.

As with most popular buzzwords of the day, I usually get them wrong and invent my own.

So the Big Mac, or Macros are really Macro-nutrients.  Those are the major categories of nutrients the body needs in big quantities to work. And work well.

Thankfully–for me–there are only three to remember: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats.

Here is a quick crash course on the Macros and how much your body needs in order to be healthy.

Proteins:  These are the building blocks of, well, everything. It is the main thing in all our tissues, organs, bones, enzymes, blood and hair. Everything is made of proteins and proteins also help repair them–like our muscles after a workout.

Proteins can be found in most meats and dairy products but also in legumes and grains. Getting enough proteins and the right type of proteins is essential.

Carbohydrates: Carbs give our bodies the needed energy we need to function. Carbs are also what makes us feel full so we don’t over eat the wrong kind of stuff.  Americans have a love-hate relationship with carbs.

Because all carbs are broken down into glucose by the body for energy–the wrong kind of carbs (simple sugars) will give you a great zing of energy followed by the slump.  The right kind of carbs can give our bodies the more leveled output of energy that lasts longer and doesn’t make us feel like we let the air out of the balloon.

Fats: Believe it or not fats are very necessary in our bodies.  They have a bad reputation for causing heart disease and obesity etc.  but are very necessary for the body to use with our hormones, nervous system, skin and hair health and even as insulation and cushion for the body and our organs.

As with Carbohydrates the wrong kind–or too much of a good thing–can be bad. We need insulation–but not too much insulation.

The big question is how much of each do we need to live healthy, lose unwanted weight, or build muscle.

The big answer of course is–it depends.

Each person’s needs and tolerance will be different–that is why most diets don’t work long term because each person needs to customize them to their own needs and body reactions.

Here is a general guideline to start with and adjust as your needs change.  Figure out how many calories you need to reach your goal. For example, if I want to lose weight–and I do–I want to stay at or under 1400 calories a day.

(The internet has many calculators you can use–as do most diet books–to figure out how many calories you need based on your gender, height, current weight and how much activity you have in your life.)

Once you know the calories you are aiming for–a simple method to allocate your calories is by getting 40% of your calories from Proteins, 40% from Carbohydrates and 20% from Fats.

Based on my number I would need 560 calories from Protein, 560 calories from Carbohydrates and 280 calories from Fat.  Add 64 oz of water a day and moderate exercise and viola! a new me!

Easy right? No…absolutely not easy. And that is my point today. Being healthy is hard work, but it can be done and it is so worth it! You have to take the time to do the numbers and then make the numbers work for you into a lifestyle choice that gets you to and keeps you where you want to be.

We want to live better, faster and smarter–and the Big Mac will get you there…but you have to put in the work!
Have a great day today! Reach out with a comment about your Big Mac or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

Drink More Water

Drink More Water

Water is the basis of all life. Most experts will agree that our bodies are at least 60% water.  For those trying to live healthier and watch our weight–water consumption becomes a big deal.

Among other things water helps maintain balance in our body fluids and organs. It helps energize muscle and even the brain. Water serves to keep our body clean of toxins. And water can help us look pretty or handsome.

Yet many of us–myself included until I realized what I was doing to myself–don’t drink enough water!

In my search to discover what was the “right” amount of water to drink…I found many different opinions. Here are some of the most popular guidelines I found–

  1. Drink 64 oz of water a day. The old tried and true 8-8oz glasses of water per person.
  2. Each person should drink their body weight in ounces divided by 2.

Yeah, I thought the same thing–math!  Why does everything need math? Ok so I looked for an example so I could understand it. If a woman weighs 130 lbs, divided by two means she should drink 65 oz of water per day. If a man weighs 210 lbs, then he would need to drink 105 oz of water a day.  

Makes sense that a larger container (a bigger person) would need more water to maintain a healthy ratio in the body.

I then thought–is that even possible? I already drink a lot of water throughout the day–I am sure I am getting more than enough.  

I set off to experiment.  I counted the number of ounces of water I drink a day, and was surprised to find that I was only drinking 30 to 34 oz of water a day! By medical standards I was dehydrated!

This was serious! So I started measuring and counting my ounces each day and setting my goal at 64 oz,  and it took me 3 weeks to get used to drinking that much water!

Now it is coming as second nature.  And I got an added bonus! I love added bonuses!!!!

I lost 4 pounds! I wasn’t even trying–I was just concentrating on drinking water! Seems like just drinking the right amount of water was balancing out my system a little bit–most likely washing out the salt that makes us retain water that should be helping the body eliminate toxins!

I am so excited about this discovery!  And I want to share with you some tips on how to increase your water intake!

Tip#1  Drink one to two glasses of water when you get up in the morning! Your body has been resting for 6-8 hours and is thirsty.

Tip#2 Use a pitcher to measure and keep track of the water you are drinking for the day. When the pitcher is empty–you have reached your goal.

Tip#3 Drink water before each meal and sip water throughout the day, especially if you are doing anything physical like exercising, gardening, cleaning the house, etc.

Tip#4 Try a water tracker app on your phone! They are fun!

Tip#5 Add a slice of lemon or lime to the water for a citrusy flavor.

Now I know, like I know that you are going to have some reservations. So let me put your mind at ease.

Does coffee, juice, and soda pop count as water, after all they are liquid?  No they don’t–because they contain caffeine, sugar and other chemicals that dehydrate the body.

How about alcohol?  While a Margarita sounds absolutely delicious–it also dehydrates.

Can I drink too much water and hurt my body?  No. Most of us have a hard time drinking enough water throughout the day without having to worry about drowning by water bottle.

What if I am in the bathroom all day?  That does happen–for the first 2 or 3 days, after that the body seemed to just feel good in its new wet floaty environment.

So drink more water folks–it’s good for you, it makes you feel good, it makes you look good and you might find a few free bonuses along the way!

What have been your challenges in staying hydrated?  Comment below and have a great hydrated day!

 

You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

There has never been a truer phrase–you are what you eat. Many of us eat all that is around us. And then we accept that our bodies feel sluggish and bloated and uncomfortable.

Worse yet we are all going towards being part of the statistics that list the highest incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease in the history of the United States.

Unless you make a change.

For the last several years I have really been watching what I eat.  I have become very conscious of ingredients and labels and portion sizes.

When I started “eating healthy” what I was really doing was NOT eating certain foods.  I knew for example, that I was eating too much sugar. So I really cut back to basically no white sugar at all.  

I found that I did not miss it. I was really used to having sugar in my coffee each morning.  Two spoonfuls of sugar! Instead I bought stevia packets and use one. It was just about changing the habit of what I was doing.

At work, I realized, many co-workers would bring food in to share on Fridays–donuts were a big favorite. The first time I ate one after going “off” sugar I got a horrible headache and stomach ache and soon after felt completely deflated like I needed a nap!

I never realized how much sugar had affected my system. And as I investigated further–I found that there is sugar in everything! Even ketchup has sugar!  I could not believe it!

Not only do most foods contain sugar–it contains sneaky sugar because it is called by a dozen (or more!) different names–corn syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, sucrose and evaporated cane juice–just to name a few.

But sugar was just the tip of the iceberg. Meats. I love meats but when I started learning about farm practices and how animals are given antibiotics and growth hormones and fed GMO corn to fatten them up–well YUCK! And the chickens! Don’t even get me started on the chickens!

For a while I could not eat any meat. But I was also not a vegetarian. With time and some additional learning–I was able to find free range chicken and different meats that were not processed or that came from places where the ranch practices were not questionable.

The search for the best foods available is a journey in itself. But I am committed to my health and the health of my husband–and so we look for the best foods we can find.

Still–these are big changes and they are not easy.  But we are what we eat–so it is important to care about ourselves enough to investigate what is best for us.  That may mean a different thing to each person.

I am not advocating that we should all wake up tomorrow morning and never eat in a fast food restaurant again or give up meat entirely or swear off eggs. I am encouraging you to think about what is going into your body though.

We sometimes buy organic, but not always because how do we really know if something is organically grown or not? Especially at the grocery store. Farmer’s Markets are a better source if it is available to you. But we do buy more fruits and vegetables than before and eat more salads in general.

Our portion sizes are smaller, we drink plenty of water and herbal tea (hot and iced–we live in Texas after all!) We have drastically cut back on breads, chips, pasta and dairy products.

And we didn’t die! In fact, we feel good! We do not feel deprived of anything and we don’t go hungry. If we feel like having something, we have it–in a reasonable portion size. And we feel satisfied and full.

So we definitely are what we eat! Our bodies are wonderful machines that we have abused for the sake of convenience.

If you are really interested in living a healthier life–we have to change the habits we currently have around food. Habits are hard to change especially in the run around hurry up life we are in.

But there are some solutions that I will discuss in my next post to bring us closer to eating as healthy as we can and having the healthiest habits.  

What has been the one go to food that you feel you could not let go of? Are there foods you would not miss if you stopped including them in your diet?  Comment below and let me know what you think…

And until next time–have fun!