Aug 08

Made With “Real Sugar!?”

Sugar-boosts-cancer-riskEven though when watching a baseball game I try my best to ignore the everlasting stream of moronic commercials that come on in between innings, the other night I couldn’t help staring in disbelief at the television. The product being advertised claimed that it was made with “real sugar!” This was actually touted as a selling point and positive aspect of said product. Though my mind went straight to questioning many things about our society today, I will only rant to you about this issue of celebrating an item being made with “real sugar” as being really wrong!
We have done a great job of researching and realizing the problems connected with extra chemicals and artificial sweeteners being used in our products. I wrote a previous article in detail about these, but can highlight a few of the major issues. The artificial sweeteners make the body think they are to receive a full sugar but then do not follow up with delivering it. This in turn creates even more craving for sugar and sweets only to be satisfied by eating or drinking more. In addition the chemicals used as artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancers and other diseases. It goes with without saying much more that artificial sweeteners are bad. However, that does not make “real sugar” something good! I credit the company with its marketing strategy. Society has embraced the “all-natural” concept. As usual, our society takes anything that it decides is good or important and overdoes it. As long as it is all-natural, we are made to believe it must be good. Therefore, made with “real sugar” must make it better for us. This is genius marketing. Thankfully, you are not too naïve to fall for this. I will give you a few reminders anyway though. Sugar is not good for you. It is not good for you on a train, is not good for you in the rain, it is not good for you here and there, it is not good for you… Well, you get the idea. Sugar is one of the main causes for us becoming overweight and fat. When sugar enters the body, it must be processed like all other parts of food. The way the body deals with sugar is through the production of insulin. Insulin combines with sugars and must be either used or stored. Since sugar is not a very efficient source of energy, most of these sugar/insulin combinations are stored. When the body doesn’t have any open places to store them it must make new ones. These new storage compartments are fat cells. Thus, though oversimplifying to a degree, even though sugar isn’t fat, it causes fat!
“Real sugar” is still sugar, and is still bad for you. Maybe at the end of the commercial they should just say, “Don’t just get fat, get fat naturally!” I know, I probably won’t be getting a call from them wanting me to come work for the public relations department. Looks like I’ll stick to writing articles for you guys. Stay healthy!

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Apr 15

Treadmill Desks – Melt Calories While Meeting Deadlines

uplift-treadmill-desk-reviewProbably the most common excuse I hear from people for their lack of exercise is the absence of time.

 “I just don’t have enough time in the day.”

Of course the first thought that comes into my hard and fitness minded head is, “you need to make time!”

In reality, however, I know that it is easier said than done. Life is busy and complicated. Priorities often push exercise to the bottom of the list where it is probably never reached as much as most of us would like. If only we could exercise at the same time we were doing something else during our day, maybe like work? This may be not as far-fetched an idea as previously thought. A fairly new concept/product I have read about recently called the treadmill desk tries to do just that. Though it is not the perfect answer, and not practical for everyone, it does offer another alternative.

Treadmill desks are exactly that, desks attached to treadmills. You simply adjust the height of the desk to the proper level for you, and start the treadmill. Obviously you would not be able to go too fast and perform desk tasks effectively at the same time, but at low enough speed users have found themselves to be successful at the combined effort. Over several hours, even at low speeds, the miles walked and calories burned add up. According to an article done by Susannah Snyder in the April edition of Kiplinger’s magazine, many treadmill desk users reported to have walked 6 to 7 miles a day! Even if you were to use this desk only part of the time and walk half of that, it would be a significant improvement. Couple the calories burned with the rest of the benefits from exercise that we already know about, and this could be a definite improvement in the quality of your life.

There are several different options available on the market today, and I am sure there will be even more in the future. TrekDesk is a portable workspace/desk that can be placed on top of the arms of many different treadmills and costs about $500. Lifespan also makes a complete treadmill desk called the TR1200–DT5 for $1500. Another version called the Tread Desk easily adjusts, giving you the option to sit, stand, or walk all with the same desk. It is a little more expensive starting out at $1850, but gives you more versatility.

Office space and boss acceptance could become roadblocks to your efforts, but for many this could become a great way to fit fitness back into your life.

tread desk

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Mar 02

Chew On This!

Having gone through ileostomy surgery, it goes without saying that I have a compromised digestive system. One of the more important instructions I was given for maintaining proper disposal of food was to chew for a longer nanny-goat-chewing-20118700amount of time before swallowing. If I must suffer, you must suffer! Just kidding of course, but in looking into my new regiment for eating, I found that longer chewing is beneficial to all of us. Here are a few of the advantages from a little extension of your chomping:

·         By breaking your food down into smaller particles it is easier for the nutrients to be absorbed through your intestines. In turn, more nutrients will actually be absorbed.

·         It takes your mind a little longer to register that you have eaten and filled up than the actual process.  By taking more time to finish your food, you will have a better chance of realizing you are full before you overeat.

·         Digestion itself is not the easiest process for your body to go through. By chewing longer you let your saliva do more of its job of breaking down and lubricating your food. Lubricating your food allows it to travel through your system more smoothly.  Then of course by breaking your food down into smaller particles allows your stomach to be more efficient and your intestines to have a much easier job of transportation.

·         It is even better for your teeth. Your jawbones are forced to work a little longer helping keep them strong, and by more repetition, less particles are left on and in between your teeth.

Though each type of food is different, you may find it good to practice counting how many times you chew certain foods. By the time you are ready to swallow, the food should be broken down into almost a paste like material.

Though it may seem like a minor change to the way you eat, the benefits are nothing but.

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Jan 13

Foodies Take Note! You Can Retrain Your Taste Buds.

I am often approached by people looking to make changes and eat healthier. People preface their approach with various positions. Some say they will do whatever it takes to lose weight or feel more healthy. While others will start the conversation with a conditional statement like “I’d like to eat healthier but I just love the taste of ‘real’ food too much” or “I can’t eat the way you do, I’m a meat and potatoes kind of person, but I want to lose weight”. Helping these types of people can be very challenging. But with some of the latest research out, there is a new argument to use with the “Foodie Defense” portrayed above. New studies indicate that the more you eat plant-based, healthy foods, the less you crave salt, fat, and sugar. In addition, the healthy food actually begins to taste better and better with each sequential meal. You can literally retrain your taste bud! Self proclaimed foodies can rest easy that their taste buds can still be delighted with healthy foods in place of the high calorie, nutrient deficient foods that proliferate our world. The video below explains this in a quick clip. For a quick way to reboot your taste buds check out our smoothie recipes here.

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Nov 25

Support Symbol of Strength on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Last year MySOSlife.com was able to make a $1,000.00 donation to Kirk Pedersen’s HelpHopeLive Recovery Fund for rehabilitation. This donation was made possible by visitors to the website that use the affiliate companies like Amazon.com and Drugstore.com. Each time an item is purchased a small percentage is given to the website at no expense to the customer. Please continue to think of going to MySOSlife.com’s affiliate page first before making a purchase on Amazon.com as every mouse click helps! Especially since Black Friday and Cyber Monday are nearly upon us. Follow this link for the Affiliate Page.

We look forward to providing helpful tips to lead a healthy life while continually providing the resources necessary for Kirk’s continued battle. Thank you to the many visitors to our web page and continued support. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Oct 08

Change Your Habits, Change Your Life

It has been shown that almost half of your day’s activities are done by habit. Meaning you do them without even thinking. Many of these habits have a domino effect on how your day plays out. In his book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg shows how habits can be changed, and in turn, alter your entire life for the better!

Habits are formed in the brain, and can be established quickly. Structurally, they can be broken down into three parts; cue, routine, and reward. Duhigg calls it the habit loop. The cue is the trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic or habit mode. The routine can be physical, mental, or emotional and takes place next. It’s what you do. Finally comes the reward, which the brain uses to determine if the loop is worthy of remembering or continuing again. The more often the habit loop is performed, the stronger it becomes and easier it becomes for your brain to make happen. Or in other words, the less you even have to think about it for it to take place. This of course could be a good thing or a bad thing!

chocolate-chip-cookiesIn order to change or stop a bad habit, one must determine all three parts of the habit loop that coincide with the action one wants to stop. The author uses the example of his eating a cookie each day and gaining weight. He first determined what triggered the event, then what action he took, and finally what the reward was for his eating the cookie. He found that he began to get antsy at work around 10 o’clock. He needed a mental break. This was his triggering cue. Then he would get up from his desk and go to the cafeteria, purchase a cookie, visit with coworkers, and then return to his desk. These were his actions. His reward was that he could now return to work refreshed and ready to continue. He then had to determine whether he could use different actions to accomplish the same reward or feeling of re-freshness that would allow him to be ready to work again. He first experimented with different food, and then not even food but simply by visiting with coworkers at their desks. Both of these experiments proved to work, showing him that really all that he needed for his reward was to get up and get away from his desk for 10 minutes or so. He could now change this habit, stop eating cookies, and stop gaining weight. When at 10 o’clock he began to get antsy, he would recognize this triggering cue, get up away from his desk have an apple or not, talk to a coworker for a few minutes and then return to his desk.

This same formula can be used on any of our wonderful bad habits. On the flipside, recognizing and understanding a habit loop can also help us create positive changes in our lives. We can create our own good habits! In creating a good habit we must create our own triggering cue that will lead us into the action we want to take place. We must also then make sure there is a reward in place that will solidify in our brain that this is an action worth repeating. An example for someone trying to go for more walks or runs could play out like this. They could place their walking/running shoes in an area in the house where they would see them right away when they came home from work. The sight of the shoes could be the trigger/reminder that they need to walk or run him off before doing anything else. Then the action could take place and the reward would follow. For some, the reward is simply intrinsic and the good feeling from the endorphins created by the exercise.  For others, they may need an extrinsic reward . That of course must be figured out individually, but once established this process becomes easier and easier to be repeated, creating a good habit!

The bonus of all of this is that by adding a good habit or subtracting a bad habit from your daily regimen, a domino effect takes place on the rest of your actions. Two examples discussed in Duhigg’s book were adding the habit of exercise, and also the habit of making one’s bed in the morning. “According to research, when people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other unrelated patterns in their lives.  Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed.”

Likewise, making one’s bed every morning has also shown to be a keystone habit resulting in a positive improvement elsewhere in lives. It is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget!

Our brains like habits. They like to find similar patterns to help navigate us through our days as efficiently as possible. The problem is that patterns that engage in negative actions are just as easily made habitual to those that are positive. Understanding how to break a habit down into its three-part “loop” can help us not only change the bad ones, but introduce good habits into our life.

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Jul 05

Organic Versus Inorganic – Time To Plant A Garden!

organic tomatoesA recent study done in Brazil and documented in the online journal, Public Library of Science ONE, showed a significant difference between tomato crops grown organically and conventionally. The two set of crops were grown within a kilometer and a half of each other in nearly identical environmental conditions. The conventional tomatoes were supported with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The organic farming method used animal manure and vegetable compost. Though the conventionally grown tomatoes were larger, the organic fruits more than made up for their size with much higher nutrient levels. The natural farming methods led to 55% more vitamin C, and over 133% more antioxidant producing phenols!

The researchers concluded that the conventionally farmed crops were given so much assistance chemically, that they themselves did not have to produce as much protection. The organically grown plants had to withstand their growing pains on their own. Fighting through weather conditions and insects by themselves forced them to produce stronger immune systems, which were then passed on to their fruits, and then ultimately you.

It will be exciting to see if more research is done with other fruits and vegetables, but it seems likely that similar results would be produced.

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Jun 25

A Smoothie for Peanut Butter/Chocolate Lovers with Zero Guilt!

With summer in full swing we present to you a new delicious smoothie recipe. This smoothie is loaded with beneficial ingredients such as almond milk, peanut butter, bananas, and cacao. Almond milk actually has more calcium than cow’s milk without the often problematic lactose. Cacao is deemed by many nutritionists as a “super food” and is the natural base ingredient in chocolate. If you have ever indulged in Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream this smoothie will remind you of it. However, it will evoke no guilt as it is loaded with nutrient dense ingredients minus all the sugar. I make this shake every morning for breakfast.

1) Fill a blender with the following ingredients:

20 ounces of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

1 scoop of Vega One Vanilla Chai Protein Powder* (Vega One Nutritional Shake, Vanilla Chai, 30.8 Ounce)

2 bananas

2 tablespoons of raw cacao nibs (Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs, 8-Ounce Pouches)

3 tablespoons of peanut butter** (organic preferred)

Optional: 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate chips (highest content of cacao possible)

2) Blend all the ingredients for approximately 1 minute.

3) Add 4 ice cubes and blend for approximately 1 minute.

*Vega One can be replaced with another high quality vanilla protein powder.

**For a different taste, substitute almond butter for peanut butter.

 

 

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May 31

A Tasty Alternative To The Comfort Food PB&J

 

I can remember, sitting in the school cafeteria opening up my brown bag to a soft and tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich made by the loving hands of mom. How could that not become a comfort food in my life? To this day I remember the taste almond butter sandwichand positive associations that went with it. Unfortunately, as I have found out, nutritionally the positives don’t parallel. Most peanut butter is now processed with additives and preservatives that make it less than a healthy choice. Jelly and fruit preserves are loaded with sugar. Thankfully, I have found an alternative that is both a healthier substitute as well as a qualified contender in the taste department. We will give it the acronym the AB & B sandwich (almond butter and blueberry).

Almond butter substitutes for the peanut butter and can be either bought at the store or made by yourself.  Almonds are considered a superfood for all of their health benefits. They contain vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphorus. They’re a good source of fiber and protein. Best of all the fat that they contain is high mono unsaturated fat which is the good fat. Because of the fiber and protein content, almond butter will also make you feel more full as well.

When picking out your almond butter, look carefully at the ingredient label. As usual, you want to find one with as few added ingredients and processing as possible. The type of processing is also important if that information is available. If heat is added during the process, some of the nutrients are lost. Thus a cold press processing would be ideal. If you have a food processor, simply throw about 23 almonds and a little bit of salt to make your own. I have found one that I like that is already made and can be bought at the store called Justin’s Almond Butter.  It fulfills the requirements above and the taste is more than satisfactory.

Your jelly substitute can be made from the fruit of your choice, but my favorite for this part is mashed blueberries. We have discussed blueberries before for their benefits, as they are off the charts.  They hold the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit to go along with being high in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, selenium, zinc, and iron. They neutralize free radicals that affect disease and aging in the body. Not to mention, they taste great right off of the vine.  You can’t lose with blueberries! Preparation for mashed blueberries is pretty self-explanatory. Place a handful of fresh blueberries in a bowl, and use the back of a spoon to mash them into a paste.

Now for the fun part. Grab two fresh slices of your favorite whole-grain bread, spread your almond butter and fresh blueberry paste on top and enjoy. Brown bag is optional, but positive associations that can newly be formed with knowing you are doing something good for your body are welcome. By the way, you know your mom would approve!

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May 17

Set Up a Ulysses Contract With Yourself to Maintain Your Goals

This article stems from a comment made by someone [we'll call her Sandy] in an exercise group that I am a part of on Facebook. In frustration she told us about how she could stay in line with her diet throughout the day, but then when she got home she would see everyone else eating bad food and follow suit. The only solace I can say about this situation is that she is not the only one that faces problems like this. Many people face conflicts like this and fail them in more than just battles of the diet. The good thing is that you can try to remedy this by creating what’s called a “Ulysses contract” with yourself.ice cream sundae

David Eagleman discusses this type of situation in his book Incognito during the chapter entitled “The brain is a team of rivals.” The Ulysses contract is striking a deal between the present and future self. A present self may be more rational in knowing what is best to do if a specific situation that is most likely to happen does eventually arise in the future. The present self is quite aware that the future self will not be rational in said particular situation.

In our conflict above, Sandy at work is the rational present self who is doing a great job sticking to her diet by not bringing poor food choices that might tempt her while she is at her desk. She knows that as soon as she gets home and she sees her family snacking on chips or eating ice cream she will turn into the irrational future self and join right in on the unhealthy gorging.

To make sure that Sandy doesn’t feel like she’s the only one that battles herself, I will give my own example of my rational and irrational self fighting it out. I like many dabble in the stock market game. It is exhilarating to watch a stock that you bought rise in value. It doesn’t take me long to start deeming myself a wizard of Wall Street and expecting both the stock rising and my luck to continue. Though when I bought the stock I would have been pleased to sell it for a moderate increase of say 20%, when it actually gets to that level, I am unable to pull the trigger. I become irrational and convince myself that the stock will never stop rising and I just hold, hold, and hold that stock! Sooner than later, it has dropped back down to where I had bought it or lower.

Sandy and I need to set up Ulysses contracts with ourselves. The aptly named contract takes us back to the great voyage home of the hero Ulysses from the Trojan War. He knew that he would be passing by the island where the beautiful singing of the sirens could be heard. Though the singing was very wonderful, it made all sailors direct their boats towards the sound until they came too close and crashed their ships on the rocks. Ulysses knew that he would not be able to resist like all others, but wanted to hear the beautiful sounds anyway. Being a hero he of course came up with solution. He made a deal while he was his rational self to overcome his future irrational self. He had his sailors tie him tightly to one of the masts and then plug their own ears with wax. He told them not to untie him or remove the wax until they were long past the island of the sirens. In this way, he was able to hear the beautiful songs and avoid making the irrational decision of sailing into the rocks.

Like Ulysses, you may need help from others to ensure the contract you make with your rational self can be enacted when you’re irrational self shows up. My brother was enlisted to sell my stocks if/when they get to a predetermined price that I had selected while I was rational. Even after this method has been successful I know I will need to continue its use or I would easily fall back to my irrational “hold baby hold” non–stock savvy self!

Likewise, Sandy’s family will have to help her out or even better, join her in keeping bad food out of her reach. The house will need to be rid of it or at least not eaten in front of her. If she buys the groceries, she will need to leave the bad food at the store where she can be rational. Between her rational self and support staff Sandy can defeat the junk food junkie irrational personality that is always lurking within.

ulysseys mast

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