Spring is Time for Change

PlantAndNurture

With the sun finally peeking out from behind the grey clouds of winter, it is the perfect time to make lifestyle changes to welcome the upcoming summer. Whether it is in dietary intake or personal fitness, each of us has an idea of where we would like to be looking / feeling like during the next few months.

One of the easiest changes is food intake. What we consume shows in our bodies. It can show itself in disease or obesity or fitness. The bottom line is that food is the fuel that makes our bodies run, like gasoline is fuel that makes our cars operate. Without the proper fuel, there are problems.

In the next few weeks, this blog will discuss in-depth and simple changes each of us can make without feeling deprived.

To Wellness for All. . .Karen

Dietary Changes for the New Year

copyright Karen UlvestadI believe that our over-all wellness and health are directly connected to what we eat. Our bodies require certain nutrients to be healthy, and it is easy in the modern world to lose sight of this. We are busy, and we trust the food in the grocery store to be good for us. That is not necessarily true.

It’s time that all of us start reading the labels of the food we purchase. A simple rule is not to consume an ingredient that cannot be pronounced or a chemical.

I would suggest cutting out all artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate.

Natural sweeteners would be cane sugar and stevia. The listing of sugar is usually GMO Sugar Beets. Cane sugar is simply cane sugar (and non-GMO). Stevia comes from a leaf of a naturally occurring plant. It can be grown in the garden outside, and wintered inside in colder climates. The leaves can be eaten right off the plant.

One good reason to stop consuming artificial sweeteners is simply because they make the body feel hungry. This contributes to eating more food, thus contributing to obesity. Diet foods that contain these ingredients set-up consumers to ultimately fail at weight-loss.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a chemical flavor enhancer added to food, and there are scientific indications it could contribute to developing major health issues. Allergies to this chemical can show themselves as migraine headaches, joint pain, and other symptoms. It is used in many processed foods, and is synthetically made. In its natural form, it poses little problems for the body occurring in some fruits and vegetables.

The hard part about this change is three issues. First, most non-organic processed foods contain these ingredients, especially diet soda. Second, these ingredients are in over-the-counter medications. Third, these additives go by many different names on the ingredient list. Hence the idea not to consume any ingredient that is difficult to pronounce or a chemical.

Change takes time, but small changes can make huge improves your life.

Eating Healthy on the Go

copyright Karen UlvestadOur lives are lived at a fast pace, and destinations are dictated by time. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of buying food on the go, and it becomes “the quicker the better”. Often, these fast food choices lead to excessive weight gain, contribute to health issues, and lack the nutrition our bodies’ need.

So, how do we avoid the pit-fall of a fast food restaurant? Especially with hungry children in the car. . .

The biggest thing is to bring healthy snacks, such as organic string cheese, fruit, or vegetables. For quick and easy, I choose organic granola bars or breakfast bars. These ideas work for children or adults.

The reason I mention organic foods is simply they are not treated with toxic chemicals, retain more nutrients, and taste better. It’s also the best way to avoid GMO food products.

Where to Find Nutritional Foods

copyright Karen UlvestadNutritional foods are the cornerstone of good health. Often, the local grocery store contains so many options, how does one find nutritional food?

I suggest trying the local Farmer’s Market.

The Farmer’s Market offers opportunities for local farmers and fishermen to sell their produce, eggs, meat, cheese, and other food to the public. It’s a great way to learn about what is in the food we eat, and ask questions about the individual farm’s practices.

I shop at the Edmonds Farmer’s Market, and save money on my groceries. The produce I purchase is fresh from the farm, and often picked the morning of the market. It’s fresher than the grocery store, and lasts longer in the refrigerator. It allows me the opportunity to ask about pesticides or other chemicals used on the crops, and know “my” farmer.

Also, fresh produce contains more vitamins and minerals, than older fruits and vegetables.

As for the grocery store, shop around the outside and avoid the aisles. Try to select organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, wild fish, organic dairy products, and avoid processed foods. Once it is in a can or other container (including the frozen aisle), it becomes a food product, and may contain ingredients that are harmful to the body. Eating “clean” focuses on non-processed foods, that contain their original nutrients.

Just a note. . .GMO produce (vegetables and fruit) are engineered to produce pesticides inside, and be sprayed with more pesticides. A pesticide affects the nervous system of the insects that eat the plants. If we eat produce that is steeped with pesticides, we are ingesting these nerve agents into our own bodies. Recent science suggests that these pesticide do not rinse off the produce, and can cause health issues. 

To Living a Healthy Lifestyle. . .

What Does It Mean. . .Weight vs Inches

copyright Karen UlvestadOften, we are led to believe that what the scale reads indicates our level of health. We go to the doctor, and they weigh us. They talk to us about our weight, and health issue we can encounter if we weigh too much. In truth, it is only on defining factor to over-all health. The other piece of the puzzle is body measurements.

Body measurements are an indication of the tone or fitness of our muscles. It is possible to take inches off without losing weight. When the muscles become stronger, the inches decrease. To do this in a healthy way, it requires exercise, or burning calories.

Definition of calories – a measurement of energy; it is the fuel for the body. Too many calories turn into body fat, and each pound is 3500 calories. Too little calories force the body into starvation mode, which burns muscle instead of fat. Losing excessive body fat is a balance between calorie intake and burning calories through physical activity.

When monitoring the effectiveness of an exercise routine, it is best to use your body’s measurements. An example of why is that two individuals weight 165 lbs and are 5′ 6″ tall. One individual has a waist measurement of 34″ and the other is at 30″. Both are the same height. In general, what this indicates is that the second individual is more fit than the first, which equates to more lean body mass (muscle).

So, how do we lose inches?

The best way to lose inches is to increase physical activity, and decrease calorie intake. Our extra fat stores are 3,500 calories (per pound) that can be converted back into energy through this process. The change is easy in theory, but may be challenging in practice. Increased physical activity could mean parking further away from the grocery store entrance or gardening to taking a brisk walk or starting an exercise program.

When our bodies move, we burn calories. We increase our metabolism (the body’s way of processing calories from food). We release endorphin into our blood stream, and feel better. When we feel better, we eat less food. We eat less food, which allows our body to start burning the stored calories in our excessive fat stores. It’s a cycle. . .it’s a lifestyle. . .

To beginning a healthy lifestyle. . .

 

Wanting to Change. . .

Many people, including myself, reach a point of deciding to change. It’s easy to lose weight, then gain it back within a year. It’s easy to say an exercise routine is good, but easy to let life get in the way.

copyright Kai UL
My son took this picture of me, and I didn’t recognize the person in it.

My wake-up call happened with an innocent event. My son took a photo of me during a photo shoot, and I was shocked at what I looked like. I had known there was a weight issue, but stopped looking at the scale when it read 178 lbs. My brain couldn’t comprehend that I needed to change my lifestyle. I think I probably reached somewhere around 200 +/- lbs, though I never stepped on a scale.

Weight loss only works if lifestyle is changed. One can be on the best weight loss program in the world, but it will only be temporary results without lifestyle change. I did change my lifestyle enough that I lowered my weight to about 155 lbs. 

Recently, I’ve notice the weight creeping back on, and I’m at 164 +/- lbs. It’s time for another change, and this time I’ve chosen a program to use. So far, I’ve watched my weight drop to around 160 lbs, in 3 weeks. It’s good to take the weight off in a consistent manner. I will be sharing more about my newest adventure. . .

So, what are the steps to successful weight loss?

1 . A commitment to make the lifestyle changes for yourself, your health, and your well-being. This is a change for one’s self, and cannot be done for another person.

2. Find a support group of friends, family, or others that encourage success. Strive for the change, and remember mistakes will happen as we learn. This is a process, not an instant change.

3. Change dietary habits. The food we eat is fuel for the body, like gas is fuel for a car. Know what ingredients are in your food.

4. Find an exercise that works with your lifestyle. Our bodies are made to be active. Inactivity contributes to obesity, health issues, and clarity of thought.

5. Have faith. A healthy lifestyle can happen at any age.

So remember. . .be patient with yourself, and believe you will accomplish your goals. . .Karen

Who Am I & What Do I Know About Fitness. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad

In the late 1980s I studied to become a Fitness Instructor, and passed the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Certification tests. This was the culmination of years of competitive swimming, life guarding, swim instruction, coaching, water aerobics instruction, and personal fitness routines. After my certifications, I worked as an aerobics instructor, fitness instructor, personal trainer, and wrote fitness newsletters.

So, why did I leave?

I had an opportunity to pursue another, more powerful dream. . .photography. I left fitness to be in a position to become a Flight Deck photographer for Boeing. It was a dream job. The job never happened, because of extenuating circumstances. Then, I left Boeing.

I continued my personal fitness routine, until I was side-lined by major, emergency surgery. It took me a long time to recover, and the journey has been interesting. I learned a lot along the way. I learned that wellness and fitness are a balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit. This also applies to maintaining a healthy body weight.

My journey included events like falling down a flight of stairs, and injuring my body. I learned what it was like to be completely stressed-out and over-whelmed by circumstances. I think I even lost my spiritual path for a while. It was a journey to finding myself.

The mind piece of the equation is one’s ability to process events mentally. What is the perspective or point-of-view that we see the world? I have always worked on being a positive force. I have learned enough to know that nothing happens without a heart-felt view of Gratitude.

The body portion of the equation relates to our body weight, lean body mass, injuries, and over-all feeling of well-being. Pain is not a normal way to live, and is an indication that something isn’t right. Muscle pain from working out is different from joint pain that hinders our mobility.

The spirit (soul) slice is our belief-system. It can be defined by a Religion, or simply a way to live one’s life.

Welcome & let the Holistic Lifestyle begin!