Take Your Time, Enjoy!

Today I’m going to suggest some eating strategies (with a special nod to Marc David). I can hear the groans now. I promise you, it’s not what you think.

I believe we all need to eat and enjoy high quality food (preferably organic) and have a good balance of micronutrients (protein, good fats, and carbohydrates). As you can guess, this classification truly restricts the consumption of sugar, candy, processed foods, salt, white flour, and anything microwavable as well as using one.  In truth, our nation’s eating habits have been referred to as S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) as well as being based on C.R.A.P. (caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol/additives, processed food).  Does this sound familiar?

I want to begin by asking, how long does it take you to eat your meals?  Your body needs at least 20 minutes to know it’s full; if it doesn’t register full, it screams: “Feed me!” So, if you’re guilty of inhaling a meal in fifteen minutes or less (be honest), I would like you to start taking more time to eat. I am not asking you to change overnight; this request may take time.  How about each week adding a few minutes to each meal until you work up to taking a minimum of 20 minutes per meal? With this simple step of eating slowly, you can begin to shift away from such potential health issues as overeating, binging, digestive issues, etc.

I would also like you to truly pay attention during meals.  Again, take your time. Always sit down for your meals and whenever possible use good dishes, candles, relaxing music, and if possible, have good company—be in the present moment and enjoy your food.  Savor each bite; really taste the food. We all need to learn to love eating again and enjoy what we’re eating.  Guess what, food is not your enemy.

Perhaps you’re thinking, I do eat quickly, but I eat the best quality food.  I have a few questions for you.  How is the stress level in your life?  Is it high?  Constant? Do you eat in a relaxed state (see the above paragraph)? If not, even though you’re eating the best quality food, stress can reduce your digestion by 50%.  Think about the nutrients you’re losing, and the money you’re wasting.  As a suggestion, when you sit down to eat, take ten, deep, slow breaths (making the exhale longer than the inhale) and do the same after your meal.  This simple act begins to shift you from a “fight or flight” state into one of relaxation.

In line with this, when you’re eating just eat.  Don’t multitask; this means no TV, reading, eating at your desk/in front of the computer, etc.  Doing any other activities can create a stress response in your body, and this is hazardous to your health—see previous paragraph on loss of nutrients.  Also, if your attention is elsewhere, you’re eating mindlessly.  A dangerous situation.

To help avoid stressing over eating, learn to be non-judgmental about food.  Don’t beat yourself up.  You know what I mean:  “I shouldn’t be eating.” “I’m 10 pounds overweight.”” I hate the way I look.”  Need I go on?  Again, such thinking creates stress, wreaks havoc with your digestion, and destroys your enjoyment of your meal.

If you have the desire to eliminate C.R.A.P. from your diet, please refer to my post on caffeine, “Reducing the Buzz,” for the concept of making change over a period of time. Choose one item, say sugar, and over a week or two decrease your consumption of it. You’d be surprised where sugar hides. For example, any ingredient that ends in “-ose” is sugar.  After you’re off sugar, then, move on to eliminating the other three.

Once you begin to make such changes, you realize you have new-found energy, and you might, for example, begin to start walking. Since you like how you feel, you could find yourself adding some light jogging to your routine. What’s next after this? Consider the possibilities. Remember, each variation creates beneficial results resonating with all areas of your life.

See, my eating suggestions didn’t include counting calories or needless deprivation.  All I ask is for you to start taking time to eat your meals, have them in a relaxing environment, and to start removing C.R.A.P. from your diet.

These three steps will help you on your path to a healthier you.

What’s Your Fitness Age?

In my May 14 post of this year, “An Age-Proof Life: Shattering Aging Myths,” I wrote about record-breaking athletes who were in their 70s, 80s, and 90s when they achieved their accomplishments. Clear evidence you can have life-long fitness.

In line with this, an article “Older Athletes Have A Strikingly Young Fitness Age” highlights that the fitness age of athletes is typically 20 years younger than their chronological age—“at any given age, fit people where relatively younger than were people who were out of shape.”

Connecting with this, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology collected the test results from more than 5,000 Norwegian adults and “used the resulting data to create a sophisticated algorithm that could rapidly calculate someone’s aerobic capacity and relative fitness age based on his or her sex, resting heart rate, waist size and exercise routine.”

Using these computations, a site was created where you can go to determine your fitness age.

In an attempt to see how lifestyle affects biological age, Dr. Pamela Peeke, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, and Ulrik Wisloff, who led the development of the above calculator, decided to study the participants in this year’s Senior Olympics. Thus, they asked the nearly 10,000 qualifiers, men and women ranging in age 50 to 100, to complete the online calculator. More than 4,200 people responded.

Some of the results of their study are:

  • 68 was the average chronological age, but their average fitness age was 43.
  • The results were similar for males and females.
  • Almost every athlete’s fitness age was lower than his/her chronological age.
  • No determination has been made to whether endurance events (i.e., swimming, distance running) have a lower fitness age than less vigorous sports.

You may well think the above individuals have been life-long athletes. Think again. “Few Senior Olympians returned to or began exercising and training regularly until they were middle age or older.”

Inspired? How about getting out your exercise gear—for the 2017 National Senior Games, the qualifying competitions begin next year.

Reducing The Buzz

A growing body of evidence touts the benefits of caffeine—moderate coffee drinkers (3-5 cups/day) are less likely to have: type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s. It’s important to note, coffee hasn’t been proven to prevent such health conditions leading us to ask whether other compounds found in coffee are coming into play.

On the other hand, we have all heard about caffeine’s negative effects such as: raising blood pressure & blood sugar, increasing the release of stress chemicals, depleting nutrients, overstimulating the adrenal glands, and interfering with sleep. To this, consideration must be given to the pesticides used to raise the coffee beans as well as the chemicals utilized to process them.

Many individuals depend on coffee to kick start their day as well as to get through it. I know many individuals who are self-medicating in this way. This is not a healthy choice.

The half-life of caffeine is approximately 6 hours in healthy adults. Thus, if you consume 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, six hours later you will still have 150 mg in your system. Along with this, if you drink a second cup of coffee (again with 300 mg of caffeine) two hours after your first one, you will be adding 300 mg to the 200 mg you already have in your body for a new total of 500 mg. Think of the cumulative effect if you drink numerous cups a day. This isn’t taking in account the other caffeinated beverages you may be consuming.

At times, you may wonder how much caffeine is in your coffee. It depends. In a study conducted at the University of South Florida, researchers went to the same local Starbucks over a period of days and ordered a “Grande” (16 ounces) of their Breakfast Blend. Over that time period, the amount of caffeine varied from 250 mg to 564 mg per cup.

If you’re a big coffee or soda drinker, and caffeine is having a negative effect on you, consider eliminating it from your diet. You’ll want to start small by decreasing your consumption each week while increasing your water intake. If you’re “addicted” to caffeine begin by shifting your ratio of caffeinated to decaf.

On the first day of change, drink 100% caffeinated. Then, for the next couple of days, shift to a blend of 75% caffeinated and 25% decaf. Then, switch to a 50/50 mix, etc. Continue this process until you’re drinking 100% decaf (even this has a small amount of caffeine). Now, you can begin your shift to drinking just water. You could also wean yourself off caffeine by switching to black tea then, green, and finally to water.

Ideally, you should work your way up to drinking one-half of your body weight in ounces in water each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water/day.

Again, this small shift can lead to big benefits.

“You Make The Road By Walking.”

The above quote is from Sidney Lumet, the late director, producer, and screenwriter.

Just start on your path. I stress “your” path. Not the ones of your parents, family, or friends.

Where on your journey are you right now? Are certain roadblocks hindering your progress? Are some of them hidden?

Are you frustrated because you’re not living the life you want? Do you feel stuck? Are your thoughts and actions aligned with your beliefs and values or with those of others? Filter out the noise. Your motivation must come from within and not from those around you.

Think about what you truly want to achieve and have specific goals to get you there. Question when and why you’re being led astray, but don’t punish yourself when you venture off course. Make the necessary corrections and learn from your experiences.

Remember, you are in charge of your life—don’t give that power to others.