Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Movie Review: Forks Over Knives

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” ~Hippocrates

When I first chose a meat free diet over two years ago the most common response I got from my friends and family (after all the why questions) is “Wow, I bet you’re much healthier now” or “I bet you’ll lose weight that way”.   

There is this innate knowledge that a plant based diet is overall very healthy.  Yet most people overlook the option of choosing a plant based diet specifically for health reasons.  Most people assume that someone would only choose a meat free diet for ethical reasons. 

Forks Over Knives is attempting to change that stereotype.  This movie was clearly designed to promote a plant based diet otherwise known as vegetarian or vegan.  However instead of taking an animal rights and abuse approach to the topic this film chose to focus on the health benefits that can come from a plant based whole food diet.

Often times the most vocal proponents of a vegetarian/vegan diet (such as movie makers) can be extremely preachy and one sided.  With that in mind, I went into this movie fully expecting it to be vegan propaganda. Turns out it really wasn’t as biased as I expected and it provided some really interesting information and things to think about. 

This film has a strong focus on the fact that the leading causes of death in this country (heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes) are all completely preventable and treatable and the cure is food.  Whole plant based foods to be more specific. 

A whole food plant based (meat free) diet seems so extreme to many Americans.  But the alternative (open heart surgery, handfuls of medications and side effects, chemo therapy) is pretty extreme as well.  The message of this film is to encourage people to choose to load a fork up with the right foods over a scalpel (knife) later down the line. 

There were some interesting statistics introduced in this film regarding the link between health issues and meat consumption.  But the message is perhaps a bit too simplified.  As much as I would love to see more people embrace a meat free diet, and there are many valid reasons to consider doing so, I don’t believe that meat is necessarily the enemy of public health.  Processed foods maybe but meat? Hmmm… the jury is still out on that one as far as I’m concerned. 

It is not completely clear to me if a plant based whole food diet (no animal products) is any more healthy than a whole food diet that includes moderate amounts of animal products.  Most Americans do eat to much meat  but that does not mean it is necessary to cut it out all together (for health only, again there are other good reasons to decide to do so).    

What can be said for certain is that a whole food plant based diet is far healthier than the standard American diet.  The typical American diet is killing us. Period.

Despite the relentless focus on a plant based (meat free) diet overall I think this movie has a very valid point.  This movie could really open up some eyes.  Some of the studies mentioned are fascinating.  Some of the individual case studies done are nothing short of miraculous.  The people profiled completely changed their lives and overall health within just a few months (or weeks!).  

This film has given me all the more motivation to continue eliminating processed foods from my diet and focus on whole foods.  I would certainly recommend it to anyone who takes their health seriously.  If you are interested check for movie times in your local area. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting "In Shape", Anti-Diet, The Brand Religion and Summer Sunscreens

"I don't think I realized that 'in shape' isn't a place.  You don't go there once and get to stay as long as you'd like with no future effort."  
Some of the best stuff I read on the net this week:
  • Run, Amy, Run - This is a great little blog and I particualarly enjoyed this post.  It's a good reminder to us all that good health is not a one time decision but a long term commitment.  It's a daily practice! This post is also the source of the above quote.
  • The Anti-Diet Success Story - A great inspirational personal story about choosing to create a healthy life instead of obsessing about a diet! 
  • Brand Loyalty as a Religion - I found this article absolutely fascinating and I'm sorry I missed the BBC special to learn more.  After reading about that, this post seemed all the more profound to me.  Who is using you for free advertizing? 
  • Summer is here - Protect your skin and choose a good sunscreen! Read what consumer reports rate at the best sunscreen this summer.  You might also want to consider what the Environmental Working Group has to say on the topic as well.
Have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend my dear readers!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Review: The Running Life by Donald Buraglio and Michael Dove

“Here’s the good part: our gain for suffering through all of this is something akin to enlightenment. We understand that our bodies and minds are capable of far more than most people ever realize; that the primary limiting factors in life’s journeys are the extent to which our mind can dream, and to which we’re willing to work to achieve them.” 
~The Running Life

The Running Life: Wisdom and Observations from a Lifetime of Running
My rating: A-

The Running Life: Wisdom and Observations from a Lifetime of Running is co-authored by one of my favorite running bloggers Donald at Running and Rambling so I decided to pick it up to give him a little support.

The book is a collection of columns written by Donald and his writing partner Mike from a local California newspaper, The Monterey Herald. Donald is a physical therapist and ultra runner (meaning he runs races longer than marathon distance, sometime much longer, up to 100 miles long) who has competed in some of the most famous endurance events in the world. Mike is on the Board of Directors of the Big Sur Marathon and  has been one of the best Masters and Senior runners in the US - at one point holding a world age group record. In short, these guys are hard core!

The articles cover a wide range of topics including inspirational stories, running gear, social commentary, injury, training advice, race reports and more. The articles are not in any chronological order or build on each other in any way so you could read them out of order and jump around to whatever area is of the most interest.

There is a special section devoted to the Big Sur International Marathon and half marathon which are a real treat all on their own. Warning: Reading this book may lead to spontaneous race registration and/or adding the BSIM to your bucket list!

There is a lot to love here.  I think my personal favorite article is the parody of the Wizard of Oz which tells the story of Dorothy from Del Ray Oaks, her dog Bobo and her training partners who " follow the hilly black road!" to discover strengths they didn't know they had through running. Good stuff.

I also thoroughly enjoyed some of the stories included here about specific races such as Donald's experience at Western States (that is one of those 100 mile races I was talking about before - this is also the article where the quote above came from)  and the story of Dipsea by the Numbers ("14: Age of the youngest male and female runners to beat me").

For me this just might be the perfect book about running. 

If I had to sum up what this book about, well it's pretty much all in the title.  It's about living the running life.  Its about how we runners see the world, how we live our lives, how we struggle to improve, how we connect with others, how we find our own hidden strengths and how we struggle with our short comings. 

This book is about no one thing, so I suppose the worst thing you could say about this book is that is has no specialty.  You will not set this book down with a better understanding of any one aspect of running.  You will set this book down feeling proud to be a runner (or inspired to become one).  This book will help fan the flame within you that keeps you motivated to lace up those shoes. 

The Running Life: Wisdom and Observations from a Lifetime of Running is clearly written by two life long lovers of the sport. The love and understanding of the sport and the running community as a whole truly shines through.  It is unlike any other running book you are likely to pick up and well worth the read for runners and non runners alike.

In you are interested in purchasing The Running Life please consider supporting this blog by using one of the affiliate links in this post to purchase from Amazon. (you can support two running bloggers in one shot!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Taking it personally, missing beauty, the turtle with a mustache, the end of the typewriter and the marathon dog

"No human thing is of serious importance." ~Plato
This is becoming a favorite feature for me to put together for this blog!  I love sharing my favorite things I have been reading.  Here is the best of the net from this week:

  • Don't take it personally- Super short post with a profound statement.  
  • What are you missing?- This is old news that I just came across at random this week but it did get me thinking about what kind of beauty I might be missing just because I am to busy to notice.  Be sure to check out the original story here.
  • Are you looking for a turtle with a mustache?- This is intended as advise for creative professionals but the concept can be applied to so many other things.  We have probably all searched for a turtle with a mustache at least once in our lives.
  • Pictures of writers and their typewriters- The news has been spreading like wild fire around the blogosphere that the last manufacturer of typewriters in the world is shutting down. Turns out that statment is somewhat misleading. This homage to some of the great writers and their tool of the trade is enjoyable non the less.
  • Stray dog runs Maryland half marathon- I love stories about running doggies and this one is just too cute!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Living With Less Stuff but More Time, 80/20, Layers of Furniture, Inspired by Greatness and Yoga

Some of the best stuff I read on the web this week:


Friday, May 13, 2011

Sitting is Killing You - What to do About it

"Inactivity and deprivation of all accustomed stimulus is not rest; it is a preparation for the tomb" ~Robertson Davies

Sitting is Killing You 
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Unless you wait tables or work construction you probably spend most of your day sitting.  Even our leisure time usually involves sitting.  So what do we do about it?

5 Tips to decrease your sitting time

  1. If you work at a desk, try sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair.  By doing this you will be engaging your muscles in subtle ways to keep your balance and sit upright.  This requires next to no change in your routine but your body will appreciate the difference.
  2. Stand up and walk around whenever you can.  Take frequent breaks to stretch and walk.  Stand up and pace the floor when you talk phone calls.  
  3. Watch less TV and spend less of your leisure time at a computer. Take up active hobbies such as a team sport, running or gardening.  Find ways to make your time to relax a bit more active.  Go window shop and walk around the mall if you need to.  Whatever it takes to get on your feet more often.
  4. Spend more time outside.  I just don't know how to sit when I am outside.  When I'm out in nature I can't help but feel the need to explore.
  5. Practice awareness by keeping a sitting log.  Keep track of how much time you spend sitting and then try to decrease that number every week.  You can't fix what you don't measure so keep track.
Any other tips or ideas? Leave a comment! 

I know this is something I need to work on.  I have a desk job and many of my hobbies are sitting ones, such as reading and TV time with the hubby.  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Winning the Weight Loss Battle as if by Magic

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside."
  ~Mark Twain

I lost 40 pound in 2010 and let me tell you, people noticed.  I almost daily (for months and months now) get either a compliment on how great I’m looking or a question about how I did it. 

After running/Before running - yikes!

I hate the questions.  I never know how to answer them. I just say “I started running, did a marathon last year” then make some stupid joke about “running my ass off” with silly laugh. 

So here is my attempt to answer all those questions and explain how I did it as best as I can without the stupid jokes.

A Little History - The Weight Loss Struggle

I was always thin through childhood and high school.  Post-puberty I constantly thought I was too big and hated cloths shopping and compared myself to every magazine cover model and the other girls in school.  Pretty typical.  In reality I was very healthy and thin.

After I married the most amazing man in the world, I started to put on some weight.  It just snuck up on me over the first few years of our marriage.  Pretty typical.

So in 2007 I decided to do a very popular weight loss program which taught me a lot about being more aware of what I eat.  Learning to read labels, how much I really need to eat in a given day and what a proper portion size is.

I was committed to making it work and was willing to bully my body into doing what my head said.  I really struggled with the program.  I lost 10 pounds, plateaued, stopped going to meetings, and then gained it back, plus 10 more. 

Since that time I gave up ‘dieting’. I just won’t do it!  I won’t obsess about every little thing I put in my mouth and what it is going to do for my weight loss this week.  It was making me crazy!  I learned a lot of very helpful information.  I just needed to stop obsessing about a number. 

I kept up a lot of the good habits I developed and maintained my weight for a couple years. I was reasonably happy with that.  

How Many Calories Does Running Burn?

When I started running the weight just started melting away. Honestly, I can't really make sense of how that happened. The math just doesn’t add up.

I was running around 20-30 miles a week (just a few 30 mile weeks towards the end of marathon training).  The average person burns 100 calories per mile run (or walked, speed does not matter, the faster you cover that mile the faster you will burn that 100 calories but 1 mile=100 calories either way)  so I was burning 2000 to 3000 extra calories a week.

To lose one pound a week you need to cut your intake (or up your burn) by 500 calories per day (or 3500 per week).  I did not come close to running that much on most weeks and yet once I really got in a good rhythm with my running I was easily losing 2 or even 3 pounds a week.  So what’s up with that?

Running and Eating

I think what really made the difference is that when I started running, I also started eating better.  I didn’t really ‘try’ but when I knew I had a big hard workout scheduled that day the last thing I wanted to eat was some sort of greasy fast food for lunch. Not even a small portion of greasy fast food with a somewhat reasonable calorie count.

Running helped me tune into my bodies cravings and notice what kind of foods really helped me feel good and perform well.  I learned to really notice how food impacted my energy levels during the day and on the run.  

It's Still Not Completely Clear

Considering how much I struggled to get a handle on my eating habits it’s amazing to me that the change finally happened  as easily as it did when I started being active. 
The experience I’ve had losing weight over the last year and half has taught me that “will power” won’t change my eating habits.  I just can’t bully my body is to craving the foods I think I should crave or doing well on a low calorie diet.  All I can do is follow my gut and treat my body with love. 

Every time someone asks me “How did you do it?” I start to reflect and really try to identify what exactly it was that did it.  I still don’t know exactly how it all worked out for me emotionally and spiritually.  What I know for sure is that from where I was 2 years ago, dieting just didn’t work. Changing my activity levels did and from there other changes followed as if by magic.

My diet is not perfect, I am still working on it and I could probably still lose a few more pounds but I know with a little patience and love and fewer bully tactics my body will figure out where it needs to be.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bin Laden, Garden Tips, Mothers Day Gifts, Going Veggie and Proper Fueling

Some of the best stuff I read on the web this week:

  • Stop celebrating Bin Laden's death- I understand why Bin Laden's death is such a big deal and why so many people let out a big sigh of relief this past week.  I really do.  And yet, it hurts my heart.  I believe all life is sacred and this article really put into words what I have been feeling about the topic this past week.
  • What you need and don't need to keep a garden- I have been thinking a lot about starting a vegetable garden and this article gave me some great ideas about how to do it on the cheap.
  • Need a gift for mom?- Give her what she truly wants most of all and earn yourself some good karma.
  • Eat your veggies- Ever wonder why someone would want to give up meat?  The author of this article did a great job of listing many wonderful reasons to embrace a meat free diet without being preachy. Check it out for the awesome vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe if nothing else!
  • Is your diet eating you alive? - This is awesome insight from an insulin dependent diabetic that applies to all runners (or active people) about fueling properly for your workouts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

45 Reasons It's Great to be a Runner

"Jogging is very beneficial.  It's good for your legs and your feet.  It's also very good for the ground.  It makes it feel needed."  ~Charles Schulz, Peanuts

  1. Have fun
  2. Build confidence
  3. Release stress
  4. Release anger and aggression
  5. get an endorphin high
  6. lose weight
  7. see your neighborhood and city from a new perspective
  8. take the stairs without huffing and puffing
  9. have better sex
  10. learn how to blow a snot rocket
  11. Clear your head
  12. Brainstorm new ideas
  13. Connect with the larger community of runners
  14. have an excuse to eat more carbs
  15. keep up with your kids
  16. site see all day on vacation with energy to spare
  17. get a great ass
  18. Learn discipline
  19. hike more easily than you used too
  20. impress your friends a family
  21. have more fun shopping for cloths
  22. get compliments
  23. earn some awesome race medals
  24. get better sleep
  25. enjoy desert without feeling guilty
  26. tone your muscles
  27. get some nature therapy
  28. be a good example to your family
  29. have another excuse to go shoe shopping
  30. learn to love your body
  31. get some awesome race T-Shirts to show off
  32. challenge yourself
  33. create a stronger heart
  34. learn to appreciate how amazing your body really is
  35. push death back a few years (or decades)
  36. start your day on the right foot
  37. clear your head after work and start your evening on the right foot
  38. create stronger lungs
  39. reach your goals
  40. create and break personal records
  41. travel to amazing race destinations
  42. get great legs
  43. learn what you are really made of
  44. experience places you vacation too in a new way
  45. gain a better understanding and connection to your body
Just off the top of  my head that is :)  Did I miss anything?