Archive for the ‘ nutrition ’ Category

Nutrition Guidelines

There are so many opinions out there, and a lot of bad advice, and everyone’s body is different.  What works for me may not work for anyone else. 

 Here are a few basic tips that I follow:

  1. Eat about 6 meals per day, 250-350 calories each, depending on your overall calorie needs. 
  2. Eat enough.  Never go below 1,200 calories a day because it will slow your metabolism, and you may need significantly more, depending on your body and your goals, (e.g. whether you want to gain muscle).  I eat about 1,700-1,800 calories per day and have actually lost weight at that level.
  3. Eat a lot of protein.  I try to aim for 50%/30%/20% breakdown of my calories from protein/carbs/fat, respectively.  Jamie Eason writes about this on her website: http://www.jamieeason.com/projects/nutrition/is_counting_calories_necessary.php.
  4. Good carbs are necessary, but the more you “cheat” with “bad carbs” like white bread, sweets, cereal, juice, soda, etc., the less definition you will be able to achieve.  It is okay to cheat once in a while or in small amounts, but it does affect your results. 
  5. Eat simple, non-processed foods.  Don’t get your protein from hot dogs and expect results.  Again, Jamie Eason gives a great list of foods that are good for you to eat: http://www.jamieeason.com/projects/nutrition/healthy_grocery_shopping_list.php
  6. Track what you are eating.  I use www.myfitnesspal.com so I can see the amount of carbs, protein, and fat I eat per day.  I do not go by their recommendations, since I think they figure 15% of calories from protein or something ridiculous.  You can go in and customize your settings to 50%/30%/20%.  I don’t stay exact, but it does give me an idea of what I’m really eating.
  7. Do a lot of strength training, which is a lot more important than cardio, and use free weights if possible.  Always work to add more weight (each set, each workout). 
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How to Be Attractive

Ninety percent of what I do takes place in my head. The remaining ten percent comprises the execution stage. I examine many possibilities, take in information, conduct research, weigh the alternatives, decide on the most effective and efficient solution or course of action, and then I execute.

I have mentioned to a few people that my physical attractiveness is a result of this very process. I am fascinated by all topics related to psychology, and the psychology of physical beauty in our culture is no exception. I wanted to know what makes a person attractive in the eyes of others, and what the benefits of attractiveness are (of which there are many, but that is a post for another day).

I read many books on attractiveness, nutrition, fitness, and self-care, including these favorites to which I still refer on a regular basis:
1. Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff – Etcoff discusses what features contribute to attractiveness and the survival value of beauty.
2. Makeup Makeovers by Robert Jones – Jones presents a how-to guide on makeup application with amazing photo illustrations.
3. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman – Freedman discusses the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
4. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier – Delavier lists essential free weight exercises for each muscle group in a detailed illustrated guide.
5. Sports Nutrition by Anita Bean – Bean covers the basics of how nutrition contributes to and works together with exercise.

Some basic essentials of female attractiveness include the following:
1. Maintain your ideal weight with a body mass index of 21 and a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7. This is achieved with diet, exercise, youth, and a not having children.
2. Work to have clear, dewy skin that is free of acne and wrinkles by using gentle soap, exfoliate regularly, use eye cream and moisturizer every day, and use good quality makeup that matches your skin tone.
3. Eyes should be large, clear, and sparkly. Avoid alcohol and drugs, get adequate amounts of sleep, use luminizing concealer and shadow, and use eye whitening drops if necessary.
4. Have long, glossy hair that looks feminine by taking your B vitamins and using conditioners and creams.
5. Get straight white teeth with braces, veneers, and/or bleaching strips, and remember to floss. Lips look best when full and hydrated. Dark lipstick can age you drastically, so aim to use lighter colors on your lips.
6. Develop curves in all the right places (back, waist, hips, buttocks, legs, and arms) with exercise, proper nutrition (NOT with dieting, but as a lifestyle), exercise, eating healthy, and exercise – especially weight training, which so many women neglect. I have never been as secure about my body image as when I concentrate on strength training and bodybuilding.
7. Strive for symmetrical facial features by using artful makeup techniques or plastic surgery.
8. Get self-confident by finding friends who are encouraging and can help you achieve your full potential.
9. Increase your energy levels by exercising regularly, eating plenty of slow-digesting carbs, fruits, and vegetables, and by taking a multivitamin.
10. Get that je ne sais quoi by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and constantly seeking to build your relationship with God.

Favorites of 2009

The annum is drawing to a close, and I am reflecting on the struggles and the blessings of the past year. I am so thankful for the people in my life, my health, my job, and the psychological, spiritual, and physical growth I’ve experienced this year. In reflection, there are some items that have improved my life, or that I’ve simply enjoyed having. These items were not necessarily created/published/invented in 2009, but I discovered them over the past year.

Books:

“The Path of Loneliness” by Elisabeth Elliot – Elliot has so many nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout her book. I have struggled with loneliness a great deal this year, and Elliot’s wisdom has helped me to understand my struggles as a gift from God. I think on a subconscious level, I believed my struggles were punishment, but that is not the truth. If I don’t have something, it is because I don’t need it, as God has promised that He will provide all I need (Phil 4:19).

“I Hate You; Don’t Leave Me” by Jerold Kreisman and Hal Straus – This book is fascinating to those who are interested in psychology. It helped me to understand Borderline Personality Disorder in general, as well as specific people in my life. (Disclaimer: I am a trained professional counselor; I do not advocate diagnoses by lay people, as erroneous labeling can be damaging.)

“Why is it Always about You?” by Sandy Hotchkiss – Hotchkiss explains more about narcissism, not just as a diagnosable personality disorder, but as a general character flaw. We all have narcissists in our lives, and this book helped me to better understand them. The bottom line: Stay away from Borderlines and Narcissists if at all possible.

Music:

Intimacy Remixed – This album by Bloc Party comprises my favorite music of 2009. Kele Okereke and his electronic-edged Brit punk band are talented and original. Their lyrics are amazing (so many artists use clichés and common metaphors, but Bloc Party writes original and extremely poetic lyrics). The music itself is very unique, dynamic, and complex. When I listen, I feel like I melt into the music and it flows through me, and I’m always a sucker for a good remix.

 

Home:

Charlie’s Soap Detergent – This laundry detergent has changed my life. It is inexpensive as compared with major brands of liquid detergent, and it is biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and free of dyes and perfumes. It works well on my athletic clothing, as well as my general daytime wear. I can no longer use regular detergent, as I cannot tolerate the artificial perfumes.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein – I perform strength training and cardiovascular exercise every day. I broke my vegan diet about six months ago in order to cut down on the amount of soy I was consuming and to increase my protein intake. Within a few weeks, I lost a lot of water weight, and over the past several months, I have put on more muscle and gained in strength. Adding a few protein shakes a day has helped me meet my protein requirements and balance out my diet.

MAC Eye Shadow and Pigment – MAC Cosmetics has had a cult following for many years, but I just discovered why this year. MAC eye shadows and pigments are the best I have ever used: they are highly pigmented, blend easily, and they come in so many lovely shades. I get many compliments on my eyes from women when I wear MAC, although guys seem to prefer my face with less makeup. Once you go MAC, you will never go back.

 

Activities:

Crossfit – A few months ago, I added crossfit workouts to my strength training and cardio exercise at the gym. These varied, fast-paced workouts have helped me to get stronger and leaner. The fun Workouts of the Day, which are given women’s names, are fun and challenging. I enjoy the Fran workout, which involves completing a series of thrusters and pull-ups as quickly as possible.

Georgia Aquarium – My boyfriend, before he was my boyfriend, and before he knew I hated surprises, surprised me with a trip to the Georgia Aquarium for my birthday this year. It was amazing, and I loved seeing all the tanks filled with interesting fish. My favorite creatures were these little worm-like animals that were rooted in the sand, and I highly enjoyed the shark tank. I also loved touching the sting rays, and I wanted to steal one of the mini-sharks, but security is pretty tight at the Aquarium and they were watching me like a hawk.

Bodies Exhibit – I loved the Bodies exhibit at Atlantic Station. I am very interested in science, especially anatomy and physiology, and the Bodies Exhibit exceeded my expectations. Also, I went with one of my favorite people, who happens to be very knowledgeable about the human body and diseases, as he is a paramedic.

Bible verses:

Romans 8:1 – Romans continues to be my favorite book of the Bible, and Paul is my favorite author. Self-condemnation is an area of struggle for me, but Paul reminds me that I am free from condemnation now that I have a personal relationship with Christ.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

Psalm 37:4 – The psalms are balm when experiencing times of turmoil and anxiety. God via David reminds us that He wants us to have the desires of our heart.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The Dangers of Food

People always ask why I am a vegetarian/vegan. Their first question is often an insightful and intelligent one: “Do you eat chicken and fish?”

To me, this is the most annoying question anyone could pose, yet it is the most common one I get asked. Vegetarian means no meat; since when did chicken and fish classify as non-meat items (unless you are referring to McFish or McChik Nugs, in which case your question is probably a legitimate one)?

I did not gain the so-called Freshman Fifteen when I went to college, but after graduation I began putting on some weight, so I started dabbling with exercise. To educate myself and to maximize my gains, I began reading about fitness and nutrition, and after some research, including reading a book called Food for Life by Neal Barnard, I decided to stop eating meat, primarily for health reasons. Barnard maintains that there are four important food groups: fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains.

Since then, I have alternated between vegetarian (nothing with a face) and vegan (no animal products). I am also addicted to weight lifting and intense cardiovascular exercise, and yes, I get plenty of protein.

Over the past year or so, I have not consumed dairy or eggs, which means that my primary source of protein intake has been soy: soy yogurt, soy milk, soy protein powder shakes, organic cereal with soy, soy crisps, soybeans, and soy protein bars. I know that some of you have no doubt been frightened by the alleged dangers of soy, but since nothing is safe to eat these days (pesticides on fruit, mercury in fish, genetically modified vegetables, antibiotics and steroids in milk, and trans fat, to name a few), I figured it was the lesser of two (or rather, multiple) evils.

Because I am a perfectionist, and because I am a woman, I am dissatisfied with my body. I am on a constant quest to better myself intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. So, I am making some changes in my diet basically just to see what happens.

I have decided to resume consumption of whey protein, a dairy product, because it supposedly boosts the immune system after intense exercise, it is absorbed more quickly than soy by the muscles after working out, and I will hopefully reduce some of the negative effects of so much soy consumption, such as increased levels of estrogen and water retention. I plan to drastically reduce my soy consumption and replace some of the soy products with rice milk, whey protein bars, and black beans, for instance. I also feel that I eat too much peanut butter, so I am cutting it out of my repertoire for a while.

I enjoy experimenting with my diet and workouts and am curious what the effects will be.

Supersize Me


A long time ago, I was institutionalized in a place called High School. It was a time when I smelled like teen spirit, I adored flannel shirts, and I listened to music that my mother despised from Seattle-based bands. There was an interesting girl in many of my classes who was both academically brilliant and artistically talented, and I admired her, but both of us were quiet and shy, and sadly, I never really got to know her.
However, through the magic of facebook, we are now “friends,” and she writes a witty and insightful blog called Unruly Helpmeet that I read while I should be working. She posted a commentary on body weight and size, and I can totally relate to her thoughts, struggles, and frustrations. Thank you for your authenticity, Helpmeet.

I, too, hated my body in high school and college, which was curvy in all the wrong ways (or so I perceived at the time), and oh, how I wanted the stick body with no hips and a teeny waist that my skinny friends had. One or two negative and critical remarks from dumb boys reverberated in my head, and I constantly felt worthless about my physique.

Beginning in high school and for the past 14 years, my driver’s license has read 5’3” and 130 pounds, but there have been times when I have weighed 30 pounds more and 30 pounds less than that since I was a teenager.

After college, I got into working out seriously, and I became a vegetarian and then a vegan, and I’m in great shape now, but it never feels like I am good enough, thin enough, toned enough. I physically push myself to the limit every night in the gym, and I never eat junk, but I still have nagging thoughts that I should have done ten more minutes of cardio, should have added twenty more pounds on the squat bar, should have put less peanut butter on that sandwich.

The pain of always feeling inferior, the constant comparisons, the incessant self-deprecating thoughts are so damaging.

As to Helpmeet’s comments about clothing and makeup, I still have no sense of style. I am 30 years old, and I get to wear jeans to work, and I shop in the junior’s department because (1) I don’t know how to buy grown-up clothes or put together actual outfits, and (2) I can never find women’s clothes that fit me anyway (women’s jeans all look like mom jeans on me, pants have hugely long crotches, horrid tapered legs, or God forbid, pleats, and a lot of it feels too baggy).

The little I know about clothes and makeup, I did not learn until the past few years, mostly by actually reading books on relevant cultural issues like how to apply makeup. The nice thing about being a bookworm is that most of the answers to life I have found by reading, thereby avoiding embarrassment from asking others for information and having them wonder what is wrong with me that I don’t know these things.

Sometimes I wish that one of my well-meaning friends would turn me in to Stacy and Clinton so I could get some real advice and a clothing budget that I’d never be able to afford while working my current job in non-profit. But I’m afraid of (1) giving up the clothes that I actually feel okay in, (2) being forced to shop, (3) having to actually wear grown-up clothes, (4) having to appear on television, and (5) having my hair cut. I admit that I’m fearful of uncertainty and change.

I don’t know the answers. I don’t know how we learn to feel better about ourselves (or at least not feel guilty that we feel badly about our appearance on top of hating our bodies). I don’t know how we stop the perpetual comparisons (superiority: “at least I’m not as fat as her” or inferiority: “I wish my thighs looked like that in jeans”).

Having faith in God and reminding myself that my identity comes from Him and not from society’s airbrushed ideals helps.

But it will always be a struggle.

Self-Esteem

People everywhere in this country are struggling with high self-esteem and inflated egoism. Overconfidence and strong self-regard run rampant. Sadly, there is a paucity of research and information from our psychologists and physicians to address this problem.

Granted, I do not have an official “medical degree” from an accredited university, but I have long suffered from what society has casually labeled a “disease” or “disorder.” As if suffering from high self-regard isn’t painful enough, I now must deal with the stigma associated with having an illness, and a mental illness at that.

Nonetheless, if I can use my experience living with this atrocious condition to help others in some small way, I may feel a minute measure of existential relief, like my existence is worth something in this cold, hard world.

One effective method for knocking down one’s ego a few notches is to peruse fashion or health magazines. Women, look through the pages of beauty magazines at the flawless, taut skin of the models. Admire their perfect (albeit airbrushed) physique and skin, the shininess of their lips, the sparkle in their eyes, and meditate on how far you fall short. Really stop to consider how dull your eyes and flesh look, how flabby your stomach feels, how jiggly your thighs are. Men, examine the musculature of the burly males in the fitness mags and spend time pontificating on the puniness of your own pectorals in comparison. Remind yourself that you can never, ever look like the models that grace the glossy pages because you are unattractive and do not have what it takes.

Another inexpensive method (you may already have the supplies at home!) for lowering your self-image is to gaze into one of those vanity mirrors that magnifies your reflection 2x. Why stop there! The higher the magnification and the brighter the lighting, the more effective this technique will be. Carefully scan for every blemish, mark, stray hair, and pimple that you can find. Tweeze and pluck, pick and pinch until you start to understand how ugly and flawed your skin really is.

Never underestimate the power of the mind. Try being honest with yourself. When you start to have confident, assured thoughts, immediately stop and tell yourself in a firm voice (aloud if you like) that you are ugly and worthless. This type of “thought-stopping” may feel awkward at first, but once you get in the habit of countering your irrational thinking, this technique will seem natural and you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Your friends and co-workers can be an enormous source of toxicity as you struggle with this issue. When your friends are supportive and encouraging, refuse to listen to their nonsensically affirming feedback. When your co-workers advocate one of your ideas or compliment your new outfit, refuse to associate with them any further. Decline future meeting requests and business lunches on the grounds that they are being egocentric, mocking you in your difficult and very real struggle. It is important to surround yourself with people who will make you feel hopeless and helpless, folks who will undermine your happiness and belittle your successes. Choosing friends who are passive-aggressive and/or manipulative can really help you in your battle against high self-esteem.

Finally, physical activity is your enemy at a time like this. Any type of exercise in which you engage will cause your brain to release harmful endorphins that will make you feel happy and energetic. Eschew this type of behavior in favor of sitting on the couch watching TV. Watching television burns fewer calories hour-for-hour than sleeping, so try to stay awake. While you lounge around randomly clicking the selector, engorge yourself with foods that will make you feel lethargic and bloated. Choose foods that are processed and contain a high amount of salt and saturated fat. Select snacks with virtually no fiber or vitamin content. Eat plenty of refined sugar because it will cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, and you will feel miserable.

Remember, you are not alone in your struggles. The first step in getting better is to admit you have a problem. Help is out there.

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