Oh look another sticker…

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Photo By Manu Camargo

When walking into the produce section in the supermarket you will often find mystery stickers all over your fruit and vegetables. These labels describe the grade of your produce as well as a federally mandated description. A very common description found on produce is that of GMO. GMO’s, or Genetically Modified foods are a common descriptions found on many foods that can be purchased at your neighborhood store. I’ve realized that the GMO description can be a very overlooked category in terms of explaining what it actually means and why we should care about it.

So…What the Heck is a GMO?

A GMO is an organism in which the DNA has been changed in a way that does not occur naturally, it can allow select individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another. This means that its genetic composition has been altered to survive through unfavorable environments and to also best suit the needs of the manufacturing food supplier. GMO’s area so not regulated federally which means all GMO foods are not labeled. Unfortunately, GMO’s are difficult to avoid in the U.S. due to the amount of imported produce which makes it very hard to dodge its large presence in our markets.

Why is it so bad for you?

GMO’s are not the best for you because they can inadvertently contain allergens from other organisms and can contain antibiotic resistant genes. These foods can be dangerous as they do not have a long term track record within the food chain. I personally grow weary of eating GMO’s because the idea of preserving a pineapple for 2 months doesn’t seem like a good idea. I also believe that we must be very aware of the possible negative effects science can have on our environment and ourselves.

It has been so awesome eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables here in Nigeria. It is astonishing how delicious the pineapples and oranges are here. It may surprise you that the fruits and vegetables that we often see are visually very different when they are left to naturally grow. For example, the bananas are about a third of the size you find them in the U.S and their peels are a light green.

Travelling out of the country has truly been an eye opening experience in that it has made me very aware of the quality of farm fresh produce and meats. It is interesting to observe the differences in your favorite things that you may consume everyday as well as makes you appreciate the food on your table. I challenge you to do more research on the ways we manufacturer foods. Watch a documentary, read some internet articles and gather important knowledge on the world of food! ❤

“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” – Alfred E. Newman

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Sweating Over Seas

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Photo By Lizzie Guilbert

Fitness for me can be a love hate relationship. I often get into the groove of the gym and it quickly becomes some kind of release. Unfortunately, before it becomes a habit it can sometimes become a nuisance or it can get pushed to the back burner if school and responsibilities become hectic. As some of you may know I am currently in Nigeria visiting family and attending my dear cousins wedding.

As I began to plan this trip some months ago I realized that I had to create some kind of a plan for healthy living abroad. So I sat down and brainstormed ways to maintain an exercise regimen when you are not home.

  1. No Gym, No Problem

First things first I researched and debunked the myth of needing a gym to workout. I outlined what equipment is mandatory for a proper workout. I was happily surprised that all you really need is a good pair of running shoes and yourself, so I checked that off the list.

  1. Take advantage of trainer apps

Second, I began to explore all the awesome and free training apps out there. Most of these apps had equipment free routines which could only take up as little as 15 minutes. My favorite app that I have had the most success with was Nike Training Club. On this app they give you a step by step moves and countdown the seconds with you. Nike Training Club also allows you to download your workouts onto your phone ahead of time, how cool is that.

  1. Pinterest is your friend

This awesome pinning tool has really helped me explore new workout regimens and foods. I wasn’t surprised to find the awesome layouts of different travel workouts. The only downside is that you may have to come up with some creative searches but I promise it will deliver.

  1. Cardio is all around you

This was something that I was very worried about before my trip but fortunately it wasn’t needed. It slipped my mind that jumping jacks, burpees, jumping rope and simple stairs can serve as your daily cardio. Be sure to keep an eye out for easy cardio routines and maybe carry a jump rope in your bag!

The healthy living journey doesn’t have to be a nuisance but instead just a schedule organizer. Take into account what tasks you may be doing while your out, if you will be touring the town by foot you may not even need a cardio dose for the day. I hope you got something from my post today, leave your comments of the creative ways you get your sweat on! ❤

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal.” – Paulo Coelho

No extra Baggage!

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Photo By Cel Lisboa

Going on vacation is a pass time that we all enjoy. For many, traveling can not only give us a much needed break but can also enrich our lives with new cultures and experiences. Bittersweetly the adventures that you will go on during the journey of travel will often include copious amounts of food. This food will without a doubt be unbelievably delicious and more than likely exceed all macronutrient allotments for the day.

Whether it is a short weekend getaway or a month excursion we can all agree that traveling has the ability to temporarily derail the Healthy Living Journey. I believe this is due to the abundant amount of food that you will find around you and the care free mindset you will most likely enter. Going on vacation should be fun and shouldn’t cause you to go into panic mode upon return. Due to this common issue, I decided to discuss a few of the eating habits I try to follow when I go on trips.

Pay attention to portions, this may seem obvious but if your family is anything like mine you will find that every meal is buffet style. To measure adequate quantity amounts, remember that sides should be the size of your fist and meats should be the size of your hand. Although an occasional buffet is acceptable, nothing will derail your healthy living eating habits more than never ending goodies like, Doe-Doe (Fried Plantain), so pay attention to portions.

Eat your Veggies, this is also a regularly underestimated tip but hear me out. If your family/culture is anything like my Nigerian roots all meals are centered around an incredible amount of Rice and Meat. Although all of the foods are unbelievably delicious they also don’t incorporate a lot of vegetables to balance out the nutrients. Remember to fit in that extra piece of broccoli or brussel sprouts to be sure you are getting what you need.

Go for the familiar, by this I mean you should try and create some of the meals you eat at home when possible. I have found that when staying with family/friends or even in hotels that you have the opportunity to arrange your own breakfast, take advantage of this! In some situations, like backpacking and road trips this may be impossible but if you have access to a kitchen or “make your own dish” menu item there is no reason your egg white scramble with oatmeal can’t be created an ocean away.

Exciting travel can make it hard to find the will and the strength to stay away from the unhealthiest of foods. This can mean that it is not always easy to maintain a consistent meal plan when exploring the city around you. More often than not if you don’t create a plan you will find yourself returning back to your home with an enormous amount of souvenirs and 10 extra pounds. I hope today’s post can help you create a plan for eating and exploring your next adventure. I invite you to leave your tips and tricks to traveling and not derailing your eating habits! Safe Travels. ❤

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi

Let’s Drink!

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Photo By Anda Ambrosini

Unless you live under a rock it is safe to assume that you are familiar with liquid base diets and or detox cleanses. These heavily trendy meal substitute plans are being seen across the world. Juice cleanse markets are growing in popularity in cities across the nation with many enthusiasts speaking out on the benefit of liquid meals. Liquid meals can be very beneficial to weight loss and digestive health but can also be dangerous if not properly followed.

 

What exactly is a cleanse/liquid diet? (In case your too afraid to ask)

A cleanse or juice fast is a plan that is followed where you only intake liquids for any given length of time. In a cleanse you often drink some kind of mixture that encourages water release and can improve your digestive health. On the other side a juice fast includes liquid drinks made up of freshly juiced fruits and vegetables.  In both types of meal plans liquid meals are the norm with very little snacks and solid foods.

What are some of the benefits of a liquid diet?

Liquid diets are a great reset button after a bad week and or month of eating. They essentially give your digestive tract a break which is good every now and then. Depending on the type of juice you drink you may also intake 5 times more fruits and vegetable than you normally would. Liquid diets also can come in multiple different shapes and sizes which means that finding one that meets your needs is definitely possible.

What’s so dangerous about following a liquid diet?

Anything that is not closely monitored by a health official can be dangerous to your health but liquid diets can approach harmfulness very quickly and easily. This is possible because when primarily drinking your food you may unintentionally deprive yourself of many nutrients. One of the most common nutrient deficiencies that you see is that of a protein deficiency. These diets also make it very difficult to consume the proper amount of calories being that on average you may consume 4 -6 juices in a day and one juice can range between only 80 to 200 calories.

Cleansing in my opinion is a very slippery slope, especially for those of us who have battled with eating disorders. This plan when abused is very restrictive on your body and can lead to constant hangriness.  I have found that I enjoy juice meals when my stomach is feeling a little knotty and as an awesome post-workout but I by no means attempt to survive on juice alone. Be careful out there with very restrictive meal plans and don’t be afraid to contact an expert to see if the plan is safe for you! ❤

” One cannot think, love, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
– Virginia Woolf

To Gluten or not to Gluten…

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Photo By – Drew Coffman

Some of the most popular diet regimens begin with cutting out specific foods from your plate. These items can be processed sugars, specific dairy products and meats all together. I honestly find it very interesting the things that we can cut out of our daily meals and the effect it can have on our bodies. This curiosity is fueled by not only its chemical effect during digestion but also the reasons why some foods can be better than others.

This brings me to my topic of the hour… Gluten. This item has been the topic of discussion very frequently the past few years. It has been commonly regarded as a cause of multiple diseases and the bearer of all evil. With that being said lets dive into the question of all questions.

What exactly is Gluten?

Gluten is a common term used to describe the proteins you find in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. Gluten can be found in most foods being that it helps food maintain their shape, kind of like a glue. It is commonly associated with breads and desserts but can also be found hiding in many other commonly eaten foods. Below you will find some of those obvious items as wells as a few surprises.

 

Here are some of the foods Gluten can be found in:

Baked Goods

Beer

Breads

Cereals

Food Coloring

Pasta

Salad Dressings

Sauces

Soups

Why does everyone want to cut it out of their diet?

Gluten is typically taken out of diets of individuals who suffer from Celiac Disease or some form of gluten intolerance and allergy. Celiac disease is a hereditary illness that causes the body to attack the inner lining of the small intestine. This is due to the presence of gluten, unfortunately this immune response causes damage to the villi in the small intestine which directly effects how well your body is able to absorb nutrients. In recent years Gluten has been speculated (but not proven) to be the cause of childhood cognitive disorders and illnesses. For many fad dieters it was believed that cutting Gluten out of your diet could lead to weight loss but the findings were inconclusive.

I hope you enjoyed todays post and find the topic of Gluten as interesting as I do. If you found this post to be informative, I challenge you to share it with your family and friends! Feel free to leave questions and comment below! ❤

 

“Information can bring you choices and choices bring power – educate yourself about your options and choices. Never remain in the dark of ignorance. – Joy Page

 

Everyone thinks they’re an Expert!

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Photo By Scott Webb
You shouldn’t eat that! That is unhealthy for… larger people to do! Do you know that can cause _________ disease? Weight lifting isn’t appropriate for women to do!

Let’s be honest, how frequently do you hear unsolicited healthy living advice from a well intending friend and or a complete stranger. I can assume you’ve experienced it more times than you can count. This advice can at times be much needed information to push between decisions. But, it also is more than likely false, misunderstood information that your informant may have been told by another misinformed person.

This trend is an age old tradition that you find in all areas of life. Advice and guidance is a natural human instinct that we often take part in with complete strangers. Don’t get me wrong I believe advice is an important part of the healthy living journey but I am a firm believer of obtaining advice from the right people. Unfortunately, good advice is not an easy thing to obtain being that reading a fitness magazine and watching a short documentary can make anyone believe they are an expert overnight.

These days we have become comfortable with endless nutrition and fitness advice. This advice comes frequently and without warning from anyone and everyone who believes they are a new found expert on the topic of discussion. I being a recovering know it all, at times fall victim to this false expert disease. For the most part I choose to quote and regurgitate information that I have researched but for others it is not always the scenario.

I decided to bring this topic up today because I believe that false experts can be very dangerous. In our healthy living community the smallest of actions can derail us on our journey and can more importantly negatively affect our health. You must always remember that things that work for other people may not work for you and can have a laundry list of adverse effects on your body. Be sure to always accept all forms of advice with a skeptical mind and with the plan of conducting your own research later.

Due to this growing issue in our healthy living society I plan to use some of the most common diet fads and popular exercise as the topic of my upcoming blogs for the next few weeks. So today I challenge you to locate the healthy living experts in your healthy living community. These individuals are going to be a great resource for you on your healthy living journey. Don’t forget that your brain can be your strongest healthy living asset. Don’t be afraid to use it! ❤

“Unsolicited advice is the junk mail of life.” – Bernard Williams

Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes!

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Photo By Abigail Keenan

Stretching is as important to your health as breathing oxygen and drinking water. It is often taken for granted being that it can be seen as a waste of time or not needed. The most frequent cause of muscle strains and tears is a lack of flexibility of those muscles. There are many things you can do to incorporate stretching into your daily and weekly routines.

To incorporate stretching into a daily routine you can follow and practice morning stretch practices that can be found just about anywhere. At most medium sized gyms you can drop into a yoga class, these classes can not only help increase your flexibility but also stretch some of those problem areas. Pinterest is also a great place for stretching ideas with countless amounts of stretching photos and how to guides. Lastly, don’t underestimate the art of social media fitness posts, these posts can at times be overwhelming and annoying but can also provide some helpful quick tips for your healthy living journey.

This topic has a special place in my heart today, as I nurse a partially torn hamstring. Long story short, I failed to thoroughly stretch before a soccer game and was keeled over in pain before we even reached half time. Although I believe that many things came into play in regards to my injury I do firmly believe lack of flexibility and strength was the main culprit. This injury that has put me on crutches for the foreseeable future could have easily been prevented with the correct daily maintenance of my body.

I often think that soreness of muscles and joints comes with the practice of regular exercise but that isn’t always the case. It is recommended that you stretch before and after every workout. Some studies also recommend stretching before you go to bed as well as being the first thing in the morning you should do to get your blood pumping and your muscles limber. Stretching should be regarded with the same importance as exercise and eating a balanced diet because in the end it can help guard you from future injuries and sicknesses.

So today I challenge you to find 4 stretches that you believe, you can do every morning as a wake up routine. They do not have to be hugely time consuming nor do they have to be advanced yoga. These stretches should focus on problem areas you may have and areas that you frequently target during exercise. I don’t want you to be crutch and couch bound like me, so don’t forget to stretch and listen to your body! ❤

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee