Berry Green Smoothie

Here is a yummy shake recipe. It is refreshing and you will be satisfied until your next meal.

Two scoops of Chocolate Protein (I choose Muscle Gain by Advocare).

1 banana.

1 cup of Blueberries.

1 cup of spinach.

1 cup of Plain Greek Yogurt.

A splash of Unsweetened Almond Milk.

Water (just enough to allow ingredients to blend).

Blend and enjoy.

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Supplements – The Good, The Bad, and How to Decide if Supplements are For You – Part 1

Supplementation is a big deal in the fitness, health, and sports industry. For the longest time I was not an advocate of supplements. I thought that physical activity and healthy eating would suffice. I have learned through personal experience that supplements can elevate mood, energy, activity, focus, and can improve physique.  I have skirted talking about this issue because I personally use supplements, and I did not want to present biased information. Also I have avoided talking about supplements because there are literally hundreds of supplement companies out there. They all claim to help burn fat, build muscle, improve stamina, and improve wellness. With all the supplements out there it can be overwhelming. People want to know what all the hype is about and why thousands of Americans are taking and benefitting from supplements. There are skeptics perhaps because supplementation does appear as a fitness “fad”. Also there are stories of people using supplements and ending up sick. I have a case now where a woman needed to lose weight. Her doctor prescribed a weight loss medication. The medication had high abuse potential. Not only did this medication lead to abuse of the drug but this medication caused the woman to become mentally ill and needing psychiatric hospitalization. No wonder so many people say they do not believe or trust in supplements. Here I discuss evidence for and against supplements and offer some tips for how to benefit from supplements. 

Let me be clear, there is no supplement that can replace the benefits of healthy, well-balanced eating and physical activity. Eating well and remaining physically active are the best cure.  Etiological studies suggest that our earlier ancestors needed to be able to consume large amounts of food. Early in our history our ancestors traveled long distances, worked physically demanding jobs from sun up to sun down in the house or the field, and could go days without eating. The ability to eat large amounts of food at that time was adaptive and necessary. The body stored the food for energy. Our bodies still have this characteristic. That is the problem. We no longer work physically demanding jobs. Most Americans work sedentary jobs. And rather than waiting days for the next meal we only have to wait a few hours. Not only are our eating practices questionable but our food lacks quality. Foods contain pesticides, antibiotics, chemicals, and processed items to bring it flavor and to keep it fresher longer.  This compromises the nutritious quality of food so it lacks the minerals, vitamins, and nutrients the body needs. Eating organic and clean will counteract this and will offer greater nutrition. However even organic growers are subject to guidelines regarding soil, irrigation, farming, and selling and The Cleveland Clinic reports this decreases the quality of even fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. The problem is that our food may not give enough of what we need. The Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine cites that food in America is seriously lacking.  

This is why supplementation is helpful. Supplements offer the body the missing vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we are not getting even with a healthy, clean and well balanced diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that Americans consume all vitamins A -Z. Literally there are 23 recommended daily Vitamins and Minerals.  These will be discussed later in this series. The Federal Food and Drug Administration implies the daily recommended values come from consuming the right amount of food each day. However most do not eat the recommended daily amount. Even those that eat healthy do not consume enough. Federal Guidelines suggest Americans consume 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Sadly reports from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillence System indicate that only 20% of men and 30% of women follow these guidelines. 

On the other side of this argument is that supplements can be harmful and may increase illness and disease. A recent study at Rutgers University found that increased antioxidents and Vitamin E promoted lung cancer cells. Here is the problem with research studies like this. For one this was an animal study. Although animals closely mimick humans there are obvious DNA differences.  Secondly most research shows a relationship and not that one thing causes the other. This study is not saying that antioxidents causes cancer rather the use of antioxidents is related to increased cancer cell production.  For one the antioxidents work by improving cell reproduction (this is a good thing and we want our cells to reproduce). However the antioxidents cannot differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells. In this case increased antioxidents can be harmful.  Lastly people can overdose on supplements.  People do not use supplements correctly and this was a factor in this study. Studies indicate that people take various supplements that combine vitamins, and people do not follow directions and vary how they take supplements. Miller, Vasey, Short, and Hartma warn this can increase risk for illness. All of this research is legitimate. The studies that cite supplements increased risk of illness involved individuals with pre-existing conditions. It is not that supplements are harmful.  It is clear they are helpful but also clear that supplements need to be used with awareness and caution. 

It can seem that supplements are just a fitness fad. Perhaps the popularity of supplements is due to the amount of research currently exploring supplements. There are thousands of research studies citing the benefits of supplements. There are thousands of research studies citing the risks. There are thousands of supplement companies competing for your business and ensuring you they are safe and effective. This can make supplementation seem like a fad. However the number of research and increased popularity suggests this is something of value. 

The sheer amount of research and the number of supplement companies competing for your business can make this notion of supplements seem overwhelming and pointless. So how do you choose if supplements are for you?

  • First consult your physician. If you are under the care of a medical provider for anything please talk with them about using supplements. Supplements, as discussed can increase risk and can complicate medications. However there may be a supplement your doctor would recommend for you to help with your illness. 
  • Do you feel you need an extra push, an extra dose, an increased edge?  Then supplements can be used to add to your healthy practices. For example I eat healthy 80% of the time and workout hard. I take a supplement that adds extra vitamins to add to what I get from foods I eat. I also take supplements to improve my workouts, help me push harder, and have more energy during my workouts.  Adding supplements pushed my workouts to a higher level where I could add gains and make progress. If this is what you want then supplements may be for you. 
  • Read labels and ingredients. Know what vitamins you are taking. And follow the directions included on the package.  Knowing what is in your supplement can help you decide what you need or what you don’t need. 
  • Choose products that are medically validated, supported, and researched. For example Advocare products are created by a board of experts of doctors, professors, and clinicians that run clinical trials of the products. This ensures the products are quality. If you are what you eat then I would prefer to eat the best so that I can be the best. 
  • Stick with one brand. Variety on products can cause adverse reactions. Sticking with a brand implies the products will work in cooperation with one another. 
  • Rememepber the importance of healthy, balanced, and nutritious eating. You can find the best brand of supplements but eat poorly and cancel the effects.

The message to take away from this is that supplements are not a cure or a solution. Rather they are an aide to promote and support health, weightloss, energy, stamina, and focus. Supplements, when added to a healthy lifestyle, can help further improve and benefit the affects of healthy eating and physical activity.

*My preferred brand of supplements is Advocare. They are created by an experienced board of expert scientist, doctors, and researchers. Advocare is safe and effective. And professional athletes in all sports endorse and use the products. 

What you See is Not Always What you Should Believe. How Your Brain Can Trick you, Guide you and Motivate you. Part 1.

This post is first in a series about how our thoughts can bring us down and keep us from happiness and how our thoughts can be trained to bring us peace, joy, and love.

This first post presents an overview of thinking and how our thinking can fool us!  Believing negative and hurtful things will only lead to hurt and negative things in our lives. You can be set free from this. I want you to no longer be a captive to negative thoughts but to find freedom, love, and joy. Before I can help you understand how to change your thinking to feel better I need to tell you about how our thoughts come to be thoughts. 

Cognition is one of my most favorite things to talk about. Probably because I have spent my entire educational and professional career studying cognition. 

 Cognition is a fancy term for thinking. Cognition involves the thoughts that run through your head throughout the day, your beliefs, your ideas, you perception, and your understanding. Cognition is the voice of the brain. This voice is with you all day and it provides commentary, feedback, and advise during situations encountered. It is that voice in your head saying, “I will get up out of bed in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” when the alarm goes off. It is the voice that tells you, “Get Up and go to the gym” or that  voice that says, “you can do it!”  This voice can be quite encouraging. Other times it can be quite discouraging and judgmental. 

The brain literally receives millions of signals a day and it has a lot of information being seen, heard, smelled, felt, and experienced all day long. Although the brain is infinity smart and can handle a lot, if the brain paid attention to everything it would be on overload. The brain has learned what is important to pay attention to and what does not require attention. 

Your brain perceives information and will formulate a decision based on what the brain knows, understands, or experienced in previous situations. The brain is really good at assessing the situation, but what the brain sees or senses is not always what it perceives. 

Let’s Play A Game

Which line is longer?

Did you say the top line was longer?

 

Actually both lines are the same length. The brain is making a judgement based on its understanding and it distorts what it sees. The tails at the end of the line confuse the brain but both are the same length. 

Here’s another one. 

 

 

What do you see here?  There are several options. 

You may see a white triangle in the middle. 

You may see a black outline of a triangle with the points in the center of each black circle. 

Actually the black circles are not circles rather a piece is missing from each circle. The brain perceived what it wanted to see. 

How the brain perceives things will determine how you respond to things in your environment. How your brain sees others is how you will relate to others. What your brain sees about you is how you will see yourself. Just like the brain can distort what it saw in the above pictures, it can distort what it thinks about your situation, others, and you! This is important for you. Because what you see is not always what you get!

When you look in the mirror at yourself what do you see?  

Go take a close hard look in the mirror. What are your thoughts about what you see?  Are they kind?  Are they hurtful and negative?  Your brain may be distorting what it sees.  Rather then beat yourself up about what you see remember that this picture is not always accurate and could be distorted. 

Rather than accept what you see as truth remember what you see is not always what you get. Don’t let your brain trick you to believe that what see, think, hear, smell, and feel is the abusolute truth. If you are not happy with the solution your brain has presented for you, explore further. Ask questions. Seek advise. Read more. Learn more. The more information that is received will the more your thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and ideas can adapt. 

Being adaptable can allow you to enjoy life more because you are open to new people, situations, and experiences. You do not have to settle for less. 

 Next week I will talk about how what you think will impact what you feel!

*Note if you find you have negative thinking and you did not like what you saw when you looked in the mirror I can help you. Please contact me for support, advice, and help to feel better. 

Summer is Right Around the Corner – 4 Workouts to Get You Ready!

Walk into Target and swimsuits are the first thing you see.  This means it is time and Summer is almost here!  So to help us get ready and start preparing for swimsuit season I have 4 workouts for you!

It is never too early to start preparing for bikini and beach season.  Tag me on Instagram when you try these, @swaitt, and let me know what ya think!

Drink More Water – Why Water Helps with Weightloss

There is so much talk about weight lifting, cardio, group fitness fads, and clean eating, but I don’t often hear people talk about one major important factor for weightloss and health, Water. It is vital for health and weightloss to drink enough water to keep your body satisfied. Surprisingly people do not get enough water and our body’s are dehydrated quickly. Today’s FitFriday post is all about water because it is so important and helpful. This post comes with a challenge to help you start applying water consumption practices.

  1. Consuming water helps with weightloss. Recently Brenda Davy, professor at Virgina Tech, did a study and showed that people that cut calories to lose weight and also drank water before each meal lost more weight. Researchers suggest consuming water helps create a feeling of fullness.
  2. Water increases your metabolism. Increased metabolism helps burn fat and calories. A study by Michael Boschman, MD at the Berlin’s Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center found that metabolism increasd by 30% following water consumption.
  3. Water replaces other sugary, high-calorie beverages. Those high calorie drinks are wasted calories in that they do not benefit the body. Rather the excess sugar causes the body to store excess fat. Drinking water when thirsty is sugar-free, calorie-free, and good for you.
  4. Water can give you energy. Not drinking enough water can decrease energy. That is because humans are 70% water and we require a lot of water to keep those body systems going. Drinking water keeps the body nourished so body systems can function properly, and this increases energy.
  5. Water keeps you looking fine. Skin contains a lot of water and staying well hydrated keeps skin looking clear and healthy.
  6. Our bodies use water for everything. Breathing, sweating, and metabolizing food. The human liver is 96% water, blood is 80%, and the brain is 75% water. If there is not enough water consumption the body does not have what it needs and this causes dehydration.
  7. Drinking water can decrease pain. People that suffer from headaches and drink more water saw headache improvement. Water depletion causes most headaches and consuming water can help improve the headache in a short amount of time, according to Blau, Kell, and Sperling. Water can also improve joint pain. Leigh Erin Connealy, MD shares that joints are 60-80% water so increasing hydration provides joints with enough water to possibly improve pain and joint function.
  8. Increasing water can improve the immune system and help fight illness, disease, and infection. If there is not enough water the immune system doesn’t have the cells, resources, and energy it needs to fully ward off things that can make you sick. Drinking water can help you feel better.
  9. Water improves mood. Lawrence Armstong reported that dehydration decreased mood and caused feelings of anger, irritability, and fatigue. Drinking more water re-hydrates the body and will improve mood.
  10. Water can improve brain function and concentration. A report in Psychology Today cites that adults and children that consumed water showed improvement in focus, attention, and concentration.
Bottom line is we need water for everything. Water is the source of life. Your body requires enough water to keep body systems working and then needs water to remain hydrated. There are conflicting reports of how much water is needed daily to keep the body properly hydrated. The Mayo Clinic asked the Institute of Medicine about recommended daily water intake and learned that men should drink about 13 cups (3 liters) and women should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters). This value will change with exercise, environment, physical needs, and dietary needs.

 Drink More Water

So how much is enough?  There are reports that suggest drinking 8oz of water 8 times a day is sufficient. But you may need more. Here are some clues to determine if you need more water or not.
  • Urine color – Your body is constantly flushing things out of your body and water aides this process. If urine is clear that indicates hydration. The more color urine has the less water the body has and will indicate dehydration. I have included a chart to help evaluate hydration based on urine color.
  • Thirst – feeling thirsty indicates dehydration. Rather than refreshing self with an energy drink or soda, drink a glass of water.
  • Dry mouth – A dry mouth suggests the body needs more water. Drink a glass and feel satisfied.  I know if my lips feel dry and chapped I need more water.

Tips for Drinking more Water

Keep water with you at all times. Carry a bottle and keep it full of water. I have a large 1/2 gallon jug (I have named her Wanda) I carry everywhere I go. This will ensure you have the fluids nearby to keep the body nourished with water. Teresa Hall, owner of Nautilus Sport and Fitness Centers and a R.I.P.P.E.D. Master Trainer, recommends drinking 1 bottle of water (8-10 ounces) first thing in the morning. This will get your metabolism going, wake up the body, and start your day right!  Stay refreshed!

Water Challenge

Want to drink more water?  Here is a challenge. It is completely FREE!  This challenge asks that participants drink more water every day for 10 days!  Instead of turning to coffee, tea, or soda this challenge asks to drink more water. This is absolutely free AND you can win something at the end!  It is only a win/win for you. Increasing water intake will help with weightloss, mood, and health. Rules below:
  1. Drink more water
  2. Follow me on Instagram, swaitt
  3. “Like” contest picture on my Instagram to let me know you want to participate and be entered in the drawing to win. Invite friends by tagging them on Instagram . The more the merrier. Anyone that follows the rules for all 10 days will be placed in a drawing to win!
  4. Every day tag me on a picture on Instagram proving how much water you drank.
  5. Also tag #drinkmorewater.
  6. Those who tag a picture everyday will be placed in a drawing to win a gift pack.

Happy Drinking!

Determination – Finding the Strength to Keep Going When We Want to Give Up

This post is more personal for me today.  Although personal to me today, everyone will relate to the struggles spoken about in this post.  Your situation will be different so apply that situation to this post.  Think about that ONE thing that frustrates the heck out you.  That ONE thing you cannot master.  That ONE thing that is holding you back from what, where, who, and what you wanna be.  

I am working on my PhD in Health Psychology and have been working on this for close to 4 years now.  I have spent WAY too much money, time, energy, and sacrifice to complete this degree.  I have neglected social commitments, family, and even workouts to write papers and complete research.  There is ONE thing that stands between me and the PhD, my dissertation.  

A dissertation is the marathon of all marathons.  At this point my research proposal is 3 chapters and about 150 pages long.  I have spent hundreds of hours on this and really poured all my knowledge, passion, assertions, and education into this document.  I feel proud of the work I have done.  If it were up to me, I would have been Dr. Stephanie months ago!  A dissertation committee consists of my chair, who is my mentor, my cheerleader, and an expert, and another committee member who is also an expert in the field.  Together they remind how little I actually know.  I take this personally because I scarified family fun time to waste weekends reading, writing, reviewing, and editing.  My ideas must go through them and be approved before moving on to the University to be reviewed, analyzed, and approved.  Once this step is completed I can start my actual research.  This research is exciting, novel, and ground-breaking.  It is the thing that keeps me reading and writing away.  This stage of the process causes me to be at the mercy of other people.  I must wait on others to agree to volunteer, complete measures, and comply with research instructions.  People are unpredictable so it is not guaranteed my research sample will be a smooth and easy process.  There are many more steps to complete before I must humbly ask my committee to once again review, approve, and accept my research data.  Do you have a situation, person, obstacle in your life similar to this?  I am confident I am not the only one.  Maybe there is a relationship that is complicated, financial and professional conflicts, family priorities,  or physical expectations and limitations.

The common factor is that there is something, an obstacle, a person, a situation, a limitation that is keeping your from attaining your goals.  We have all heard that all things that are worth anything are worth working for.  This implies there is struggle, there is a fight, there is a conflict, and that it is not easy to get what we want.  These obstacles throw us off our game, distract us, and frustrate us.  I hope there are obstacles in your life that you have easily overcome, but then I know there are other obstacles that truly are a burden.  

The burden and the fight gets harder and harder to bare.  We get tired.  We get frustrated.  When nothing changes, we want to quit.  I see this happen all the time with fitness and healthy eating.  Someone starts out strong, excited, and motivated and they make many changes in their life to get to the gym or deny that piece of pizza at lunch.  As a society we want immediate results.  We want to see our reward and have a reminder for what we are working for.  Fitness and physical changes do not come this way (neither does my dissertation).  As progress becomes slower, things become inconvenient and uncomfortable, and our excitement settle the motivation to keep going diminishes.  Some will quit.  Others don’t.  

What is it that keeps us determined?  What is it that keeps some able to continue to fight with tooth and nail to achieve their goals?  I do not think genetics play a factor.  Sure some people have higher IQ’s and are more intelligent than me.  Sure there are people that are skinner, leaner, and more coordinated.  But if things were a matter of natural selection, I would be a 300 pound stoner in my parents basement.  

Sure our environment also has a little to do with our ability to achieve our goals.  Children born into wealthy families have greater resources.  They are less limited in that they did not have spend extra time and energy finding a way to pay for things.  But what I know is that (A) money can be earned, (B) people can go from rags to riches (I know many that have), and (C) there are many that have come from abusive, traumatic, neglectful, and dire situations and have found peace, fame, glory, riches, and success.   Our past does not have write our futures!

I personally believe “We an do ALL things” and believe that if you put your mind to something it can be done.  But as a human I am limited, you are limited, we are limited.  What keeps us going for that prize we desire is our determination.  

The factor that keeps us determined and pushing toward goals even when every thing else screams “QUIT! GIVE UP!” is YOU!  That is right; you are the variable.  I am the variable between me and my PhD.

It is easy to look at obstacles and get frustrated.  It is “easier” to quit.  Easier for now. But I believe that all of us are strong enough to keep going.  There are things that help us stay motivated when we face obstacles.

  •  Find and Seek Support – Tell your friends and family about your goals.  Tell them what you want to accomplish.  Ask them to support you and to hold you accountable.  Ask them to encourage you even when you can no longer encourage yourself.  My husband, my family, and my friends keep me motivated.  At times they are the reason I have not given up!
  • Find a mentor – Find someone who who look up to, someone that has accomplished what you are working to, and then ask them to help you as well.  This support should look different than personal support however.  My chair and committee member push me.  They make me so angry I cannot think straight.  That is a mentor’s job.  They are there to give you a dose of reality, but also support you to use your skills and knowledge to keep going.
  • Get frustrated!  Do it!  Throw a fit! – Get upset, express yourself.  I scream, I cry, and I yell when I get frustrated. Keeping your frustrations inside is not healthy.  However not being able to control emotions is not healthy either.  I support a moment of throwing a fit and acting like a child.  Get out all that emotion.  Now proceed to the next step.
  • Relax – We can get so focused on our goals that we push and push and push and push and push.  If your goal is to lose weight or attain a body building goal you may work super duper hard in the gym.  But without any rest and relaxation we are at increased risk for injury and illness.  If you are focused on professional and educational goals and you do not take a break you WILL mentally break.  Find time each day to put down the weights, put down the books, and put down the computer and relax.  
  • Think about how things would be if you gave up – If I quit working on my dissertation nothing would ever change.  I would be a little smarter, yes, but I would not have my degree and I would not have opportunities open to me.  What if you stopped working out?  What if you stopped eating healthy?  Your body and your health will never change.  You will be exactly where you are right now.  What if you stopped saving money or stopped working?  You will never find financial freedom, and your financial future will be exactly as it is today. 
  • Look back where you came from – This can hard if you are currently in a very difficult place and you have recently had some setbacks.  But evaluate how you have matured, grown, learned, and experienced more today then 5 years ago.  The breath you are breathing means you have courage to face today and strength to continue to fight and survive.  Love yourself for that ability to survive and your ability to grow.  You do not have accept things the way they are now, if that is not how you want things to be.  

Change takes work.  Change takes daily steps toward a goal.  Change requires the determination to wake up and put one foot in front of the other, despite whether we want to our not.  I want to change, I want my PhD, so I will type one word at a time.  That is one word closer to my goal.  

I use the following analogy a lot with my kiddos that I counsel.  Life is like the yellow brick road that Dorothy finds herself on after the devastation of the tornado.  She is in a foreign land, things are uncertain, confusing, and complicated.  She must walk on the yellow brick road to get home again.  Along her journey she meets friends.  Along this journey she faces fear, adversity, and it looked as if she would never get home.  Dorothy used her courage, her “shoes” and her friends to get home again.  This analogy explains that to get to our goals we have to go on a journey and we need to use all available resources to get there. It will not be easy and there will be obstacles that get in the way, but at the end awaits your destiny.    

2 Quick and Healthy Snacks

Sundays are great for so many reasons. I love Sunday Funday!  Sundays are filled with family, football, rest AND food!  I do relax a little on my eating on the weekend. But only a little. I work too hard to throw all my hard work out the window.  I love Sundays because it is one day where I can be completely lazy and relax. Today I am engrossed in a Novel while watching football playoffs.

But we all need to eat right?  And it is important to eat every 2-3 hours to keep metabolism activated and burning fat. It can be easy to grab a salty, fatty snack on a day like today. But I have two snack ideas for you that take only a few minutes and are so yummy you will feel like you are cheating!

Protein Bites – these are delish!

What you need: 1/2 cup of PB (I LOVE NUT BUTTER). I use PB2. Less calories! Less fat, less sugar, and yummy.

   

2 tsp flaxseed – ground.

        

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes – (I LOVE COCONUT).

1/3 cup protein powder – (I use chocolate).

1/2 cup of rolled oats.

    

Melt PB2 and honey in a bowl.

Add protein, coconut, rolled oats, amend flaxseed.  It will be thick.

Add the mixture to a dish and refrigerate.

I like to get my hands dirty tho, so I roll the mixture into little balls and place on dish to be cooled in fridge.

2 make a great snack!

       

Greek Yogurt

This one is super easy. 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt.

Add 2 Tbsp of PB2 and cinnamon to taste. Mix well.

Enjoy!

These snacks will give you your protein, fats, and carbs to be a fulfilling snack. The plus is that I was able to keep reading my novel, not miss a play, and still eat well without having to slave in the kitchen!  Hope you are having a lazy Sunday Funday too!