Tag Archives: exercise

Re-committing to Health and Blogging In 2013

I am going to be honest, this blog and my own health have been on the back burner the last half of 2012. I started 2012 off great, with some great stories about my times in Brazil and re-committing to yoga and my overall health. Once I got back to the US, I started a new writing career and then lost function of my foot due to a really bad herniated disc. The disc and the busyness has led me to neglect exercise, sit on the couch more often (to write), and overall baby myself when it comes to food and health.

So I am going to declare, starting today, that 2013 will be different. Although I am still limited on what I can do in terms of exercise (sadly Crossfit will never be a possibility again), I can do spin class and walk. I also have some new motivation in that my boyfriend, who I will call Mr. Zen Master (Mr. ZM) is also wanting to do better with his own health and is willing to support me.  One of the companies I work for HUM Nutrition, also motivates me with their health-oriented approach and awesome supplements (some of which I will incorporate into my plan). So, here goes:

1. Log my food daily on my Livestrong ap. Stick with under 1400 calories/day. This will mean a significant reduction in my consumption of happy hour cheese plates and wine.

2. Spin class 2x per week and walking daily at work. I can take a 20 minute walking break which will really add up. Also, maybe I can convince Mr. ZM to go on some weekend hikes with me.

3. Stop giving myself treats and babying myself because I “deserve” it or had a bad week. What I really “deserve” is to be healthy and not tired or lethargic all the time.

4. I am going to add some of the HUM supplements to my regimen: Vitamin D (linked to weight loss), Omega-3 (reduces inflammation, also helps with weight loss), and an AM/PM Cleanse Product. I am also going to use the Arbonne Protein powders to substitute meals when I am busy or don’t have time.

Overall, my goal is to lose 10 lbs and get exercise back into my life. I feel tired all the time and I know it has to do with poor diet and lack of physical activity. So, who wants to join me on my quest to get back my health in 2013?

Week 2- Yoga Retreat

Today starts week 2 of my Brazilian diet plan. Last week I walked every day on Ipanema beach with my dad for about 45-60 minutes in the morning. I injured my back somehow last year (according to my chiropractor because I sit too much at work and was trying to hit it too hard at Crossfit) and I have realized (after A LOT of fighting it and denial) that I really can’t do intense exercise anymore, at least for awhile. I tried to do to the Insanity DVD with my brother, but that aggravated my back. I had to go to get a massage and it took about 5 days for it to stop hurting. I think my days of running and Crossfit are over for a bit. Maybe some day I will go back. For now, walking and yoga are going to be my primary forms of physical activity.

I started the free yoga class on the  beach today.  It was AMAZING! The yoga was super chill and was exactly my speed. There were a few challenging moves, but it was mostly stretching which is what I really needed to try to rehab my back. The teacher handed out a flyer about an up-coming 3 day yoga retreat and I have signed up! I’m really stoked because I have always wanted to go on a yoga retreat. Its in a beautiful mountain location called Teresopolis, which is a few hours outside of Rio. It seems like its going to be an awesome experience! The best part is it will be about 1/3 of the cost of what something like this would be in the US. Awesome!!

So even with the walking and yoga, I didn’t lose any weight this week. I think that this week I am going to focus more on what food I am eating. Its difficult here because there are so many delicious things to eat that I haven’t eaten for awhile. The worst of which is probably this delicious mini French bread that most Brazilians eat for breakfast. My dad stops by the bakery and picks up warm bread every morning. Its hard to resist. I know I can’t eat refined carbs like that in the morning, especially not topped with requeijão (the Brazilian equivalent of cream cheese but MUCH tastier). I think I have been kind of lying to myself about what I am eating and indulging too much in delicious, deep fried, Brazilian street food. I have 10 weeks left until I go back to the states. I think its reasonable to think I can lose about 1 lb per week and come back about 10 lbs lighter. And tanner….got to hit the beach for that. Wish me luck!

How to actually lower your cholesterol

As a Registered Dietitian, I have seen hundreds of patients trying to lower their cholesterol via a low fat, low cholesterol diet. Many patients come to me desperately trying to figure out why their cholesterol keeps increasing after years of avoiding fried foods, meat, bacon, eggs, and cheese. I learned in school,

that if a patient was not seeing results with a low fat, low cholesterol diet it probably meant they weren’t REALLY avoiding the foods they needed to avoid. Just a few years ago I believed that if a patient was truly eating lots of whole grains, very little fat, and avoiding red meat at all costs, they should have low cholesterol. But, after a while in this field, seeing one unsuccessful patient after another, I started to see that this was clearly not happening. How could ALL my patients be lying to me about what they were actually eating? Sure, there is a genetic component to high cholesterol and some people’s numbers are high no matter what they do, but these cases are rare. I didn’t feel that genetics was accounting for the lack of change I was seeing in my patients when they changed their diet according to my recommendations

The thing is that I was eating a “heart healthy” diet myself, exactly as I had learned in school. I knew I had a family history of high cholesterol and had to be careful with my diet.  But, even in following the traditional recommendations (and who knew them better than me?), my total cholesterol was over 200. My LDL (bad cholesterol) was borderline high. How could this be?  I ate oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, whole grain bread with fat free mayo, low fat cheese (or fat free, yuck!), and turkey for lunch, and whole wheat pasta with veggies for dinner! I used only olive oil for cooking, didn’t eat fast food, never ate anything fried, avoided eggs, and didn’t eat much red meat. Why was my cholesterol so high at only 27 years old? I had all the information and was following the recommended diet I had learned in school. Why couldn’t I lower my own cholesterol? Why were my patient’s struggling as well? Clearly there was something that was not right.

Part of the reason I became a dietitian is because I love how often the field changes, requiring a lot of research and constant learning to stay on top of all the new information. I like to try things out on myself before I make recommendations and don’t like to recommend diets if I am not seeing the results I think I should.  I couldn’t accept that the low fat diet I was following was not keeping my cholesterol under control, especially since I was following exactly what I was taught and what was fully accepted by the medical and nutrition communities.

So, I hit the internet and did some research, I desperately wanted real results for my patients and myself, and didn’t want to provide information that clearly wasn’t working. I attended a few “alternative” nutrition conferences to try to discover different ways of thinking about heart health. After a lot of research into what would actually lower my cholesterol, I changed my diet. I quit following the “recommended” heart-healthy diet and I added back many foods that I had been avoiding for years.

After 6 months on this new diet, my cholesterol went down 32 points, my LDL was down 27 points, now all within normal levels. I also convinced a coworker to try the diet with me and her total cholesterol dropped 20 points and LDL dropped 25 points after only 2 months. Her HDL also increased by over 20 points, and she was not exercising (exercise usually raises HDL)!

When I told my doctor what I had done, including the dietary changes I had made, he told me it was impossible, that it couldn’t have been my diet that changed my cholesterol. He said “You must have a different kind of metabolism from other people!” Really? Clearly, he was wrong, it was my diet. It’s not his fault, his area of expertise is not nutrition and he is just following what the rest of the medical community has accepted as dogma. When you know better, you do better.

So I wrote a program manual called “How to actually lower your cholesterol” to help people like myself who are doing everything they can, following all the recommendations as closely as possible, and still not seeing the results they want with their cholesterol levels. It outlines exactly what you need to do to get your cholesterol down fast.