Just wanted to post another invitation to follow me at my new website, lmwellness.com. I notice that there are still a number of people who are visiting this site (kimthedietitian.com), yet I have not posted in many months. I fear they must think I am lazy! Not so. I have just been posting in a different place. Join me there!
Tag Archives: exercise
I married a very, very smart man. Why? He listens to me.
Peter loves to ride his road bike, and he likes to go on long rides, long enough to be “completely worn out.” He knows that going out 2 days in a row will just be too much, yet he has such a hard time resisting the urge to ride when the weather is nice.
After a brutal Wisconsin winter, recent glimpses of spring weather have provided quite a challenge for him, to lay low on alternating days and swim instead. One such day came along last week – sunny, 70-ish, perfect riding weather – and he told me “I might not be able to resist.”
I put in my 2-cents worth. It went something like this: “You have a right to do that.” (In my head I was saying, “You have a right to make an unsupportive choice.”)
I knew he could tell what I was thinking. When I returned home in the middle of the day, I found this note on the counter:
Kim – Went to the club to swim. Listened to my body.
As I said, he is a smart man.
How well do you listen to your body. There are many opportunities to make unsupportive choices, even though we know we won’t feel well later. Being more mindful – without judgment – of what the body really needs can be a doorway to a healthier lifestyle, but only when we realize that we are not “wrong” no matter what we choose. In other words, we need to know we have a choice.
Is this not cute?! Admittedly, I am biased. The big guy is my husband Peter, and the little one is Peter too (“Re – Pete”), his grandson. This picture is now my screen saver. It makes me smile every time I sit at my computer, which is often.
Ah, the magic of genetics. No one else in the family inherited my husband’s “elf ears” – notched and pointed (and, yes, they do stick out a bit). When he was about 7 years old, his father told him they could be “fixed”, and he remembers never having thought about how they protruded . . . until then. He never did “fix” them – good thing, because they are perfect as is.
Just like Little Pete’s.
Genetic effects on health are arguably even more interesting than general appearance traits like the color of our eyes or the shape of our ears. As researchers look beyond the mere sequencing of our genes to more complex dynamic factors that interact with genes to either turn their activity on or off, it becomes even more obvious that lifestyle indeed does matter – a lot.
The food we eat is one of the most obvious ways of controlling the action of certain genes that affect our metabolism, ability to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, etc. In other words, we are now learning through research on gene activity how poor eating increases risk for diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health issues. That gives all of us much more power over our health than we ever dreamed possible in the past.
Exercise is another lifestyle factor that helps to keep our genes behaving in a way that promotes good health. Amazing changes take place not only at the level of blood lipids, blood pressure, and body composition, but also at the level of gene activity. I find this absolutely mind-blowing! And exciting. (See the recent report of a study done in Sweden – “How Exercise Changes Fat and Muscle Cells”.)
You and I can actually encourage our genes to “do the right thing”. As if that is not amazing enough, a relatively new area of scientific study called epigenetics examines how many of these changes in genetic activity are actually passed down to offspring. Wow – that’s what I say. It just doesn’t seem to make much sense for anyone to assume that we are genetically destined to be unhealthy. That is very good news for all of us.
If you want to ride a bike over 30 miles, you must put enough fuel in your tank. This is actually a note to myself. I just returned from a long – and hilly – ride with my cycling-addicted husband. Although regular workouts are part of my established lifestyle, my workouts are usually much more “low key”. A 3-mile easy paced run is about as vigorous as I usually go.
I have ridden with Peter before, I simply have never really understood on a physical level what it takes to fuel that kind of a workout – until today! I made it, but my legs are not good for anything else today, and I have been eating continuously since I got home. The tank was really, really empty!
I did not plan for this to happen. I actually thought I had fueled fairly well with a big bowl of Greek yogurt (probably about 20 grams of protein in there) and a large serving of peaches and strawberries. Of course I had a large glass of water too. I know enough to at least TRY to prepare properly for a workout.
Lucky me! I got a great reminder and topic for this post – a body just will not do what you want it to do if you do not provide adequate nutrition. Next time I will keep this in mind.
I was also reminded that people need to fuel their bodies for anything they do, including weight loss efforts. With too few calories, not only is it tough to resist temptations, it is also nearly impossible to expect to keep exercise commitments. I was not even trying to reduce calories and I ended up depleted. Just imagine if you thought that eating enough to move meant that you had failed at sticking to your plan. What a colossal setup for failure!
For example, if someone thinks that 1200 calories is supposed to do anything more than keep them breathing, they will be very disappointed in themselves when they try to add any type of exercise. Let’s not forget that exercise, even without any weight loss, improves health tremendously. Why would anyone want to limit their activity by eating too little?
I had a lipid panel done at the end of April. Looking back at the numbers (below) from the past 6 years made me dizzy! Up and down they go – like a roller coaster ride. I have a theory – not scientific, just personal experience – that the hormonal fluctuations of menopause are often mirrored by similar swings in lipid levels before all things settle down. Continue reading
Here is another example of the the wisdom that comes from participants in my groups – absolutely brilliant!
My motto is you live once, do everything in moderation………not everyday will you go eat a fish fry, but if you are out on a Fri and feel like one because you do not like baked trout, then by all means order the fried one and make up for it the next day. All these diets are great, but for life you cannot tell me that these people will not go back eating carbs, or cake, cookies, alcohol, etc.
I know I’d rather be a slowass turtle and keep losing a 1/4-lb here and there versus lose 30 and then regain 50!
I just want to be someone that eats well, exercises smart, and doesn’t break my back or starve myself to do so……… I don’t want to constantly worry about my size or what others may think as I want to be satisfied with me and that’s the biggest journey of all. Trust me, others that do not “diet” do not want to hear about calories, fat grams, and pounds lost or gained………I do not want that to be the focus of my life 🙂
. . . to have the healthiest overall health in the long run? Think about it. I didn’t ask, “What are the healthiest actions you can take in the moment?” The answer to that question for most people would be a form of “super behavior”, maybe an ideal super activity (if there is such a thing) or perfect eating (whatever that is!). Even if we could define a perfect set of habits, ideal – or perfect – health behavior is just not something any of us can keep doing for long.
So the real question – the one that will cause you to be your healthiest – has to have a longer range outlook. In other words, how does this way of living that I am doing right now affect how I behave in future moments, weeks, or years?
Over-aggressive effort usually ends up polarizing our habits. We get really “good” sets of habits and equally “bad” ones. And then we have the overall habit that includes swinging between the two poles. Not ideal for health, not ideal for mood, and not ideal for ultimate well being.
So, looking at how current health-related activities will affect our ultimate health outcome is crucial. It is why I am a proponent of finding the balancing point between the two extremes and making an overall habit out of being more consistent.
The result? A level head, a level weight, a level mood, . . . . simply more balance. Simply better!
We all forget to be grateful for what we have. It’s human nature. Every so often we get reminders, usually when we lose something and then we appreciate it. Sometimes it is money or material items. I recently lost my iPod, and I really appreciate it now that it’s gone! Even if we have not personally had major health issues, we at least have heard stories of other people who only truly appreciate their health once it is gone. Time spent complaining about minor aches and pains can be seen as petty in light of such insight.
The same feelings are connected with weight loss. So much energy is spent working toward an ideal weight, or just a weight that can be tolerated, that many dieters forget to be grateful they are not gaining when the pounds are not falling off quickly enough. Continue reading
Exhilarated and fired up! Drained and surrendering. That is how I feel after 20 hours of yoga training this past weekend. Light/dark, strong/weak, confident/self doubting – all at once. Today I am reflecting on the dual nature of all things, but specifically related to me and my experience.
Among all of the universal truth reminders, this one remained with me as I left the studio, my weary brain and body feeling the effects of a second 10-hour day of listening, processing, sitting on the floor, and moving on the mat. Yes, I felt relief as I headed home, but I also felt super-charged, creative!
At any given time, I am usually more aware of one side of an experience or a feeling, and that becomes my reality. “I feel weary” usually feels one-sided and exhausting. At those times it is hard to remember how much vitality I usually feel. “I am feeling alive and fired up” is normally a mood that forgets what it felt like to have self-doubt.
At the outset of the weekend, we all chose a word to describe yoga for us (at that time). My word? BALANCE! Processing the experience, I find it interesting to see that my biggest take-away was precisely that. It was a great reminder – both sides of a feeling are always there, although one usually dominates in the moment. When I feel weak, I will feel strong again, and my strengths will not be unchanging.
I am usually aggressive with my physical body. I grew up in an atmosphere that celebrated being tough, and I am proud of that. Arguably the most stinging insult as a child was “wimp”. God forbid!
But I am learning that babying my body is necessary at times. Pushing through pain is not always (ever?) a good thing.
I remind myself that the sore part of my upper left leg has been alternating between “kind of ok” to “ouch” to “a little better” for months. It took this past weekend to realize that . . .
AHA! I am both strong and fragile. Just because I can doesn’t always mean I should. I recognize that I will feel strong again, and in that strength, I will remember the potential for weakness.