Chocolate, “clean eating”, and why people just need to chill out and embrace moderation

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Once again in an attempt to prove why we can’t have nice things, one of the other pieces of the article I quoted in my last post talked about how dark chocolate may not necessarily be all that great for you either. I am well known among my friends, family, co-workers, and fitness community for saying “I eat very healthy, but you’ll have to pry the chocolate out of my cold, dead, rotting fingers.”

And I am totally serious. ūüėÄ

Granted, on one hand, one must not overdose on anything–especially anything that’s sugary¬†and calorically dense. But on the other, I can’t help but feel that there’s a great deal of scaremongering as click-bait to take advantage of people who are already neurotic about food. Every couple of¬†days I get emails titled things like, “Why exercising makes you fat”, “Why drinking water makes you fat”, “Why cardio makes you fat”, and am expecting the next one to be titled, “Why merely breathing¬†dooms you to be fat, you fatty fat fat person”.

Everyone!

Chill. The. Hell. Out.

There’s this unnecessary struggle in a culture that wants it both ways. We can’t be sedentary and consume twice as many calories as needed and expect to be healthy. At the same time, we can’t obsess over every crumb we put into our mouths until we develop an eating disorder. The phrase “clean eating” is constantly thrown around, but it’s become a nebulous term without a clear definition. People are told “Avoid processed food”, but technically nearly everything is processed to a certain extent, so that’s meaningless too. “Avoid chemicals”, some say, but once again, technically EVERYTHING is a chemical and is composed of chemicals so this is once again meaningless. “Appeal to nature” is a logical fallacy which is oft used by the health and fitness “experts” to scare you into buying their product, book, what-have-you. Don’t buy into it. Don’t try a fad diet or think that you have to eat in an unnatural, highly restricted, and limited way in order to be healthy. Use common sense and good judgment.

People fail at “diets” because they see them as the following:

  1. Torture
  2. Deprivation
  3. Restriction
  4. Temporary

“Clean eating” is about eating reasonably healthy 80-90% of the time and enjoying yourself the rest of the time. It’s about making changes in your habits you can feel comfortable and content maintaining for the rest of your life. People need to develop¬†a healthy relationship with food and learn how¬†to enjoy it in moderation without either feeling deprived or starved. Food is fuel, but it can be tasty fuel.

This is one of the many reasons why I tell people over and over again: any diet which vilifies any of the macronutrients: fats, carbs, or protein, avoid like the plague. All are required in your diet in varying amounts in order to have a balanced meal plan. So when you hear “Carbs are evil”, “fat makes you fat”, run, just run. Neither “advice” will help you to be healthy and will actually harm you in the long term.

And enjoy your chocolate (in moderation). ūüėõ

Side note: one of the sanest reads I’ve found in a while on the subject is called The Lean Muscle Diet: A Customized Nutrition and Workout Plan–Eat the Foods You Love to Build the Body You Want and Keep It for Life!¬†A lengthy title but a worthwhile read. Regardless of whether or not you are vegan or paleo (and the book discusses both), it’s invaluable. It discusses in depth how to eat for fitness in a sensible way that you can maintain indefinitely.

 

 

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Peanut butter: the root of all evil?

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After I posted this link from Shape.com about how peanut butter isn’t a health food¬†on my Facebook page “If a geek can get fit, so can you”,¬†there was a great deal of weeping and refusal to let anyone take away their tasty treat. As a lover of this substance myself, it occurred to me that there needed to a balanced follow-up to explain why peanut butter can and cannot be healthy.

Problem #1: most jarred varieties of peanut butter add all sorts of sugars and gunk to it. You’ll see things like honey, molasses, corn syrup, and all kinds of nonsense that peanut butter just doesn’t need. You don’t need to add all of these sugars to peanut butter and it tastes quite nice without it.

Solution: Read labels and only obtain peanut butter which at most has two ingredients: peanuts, and maybe salt.

Problem #2: While peanut butter can be a reasonable source of protein, 70% of its calories are from fat. Fat is 9 calories per gram, which makes peanut butter fairly intense in terms of calories. A serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons, which is around 200 calories. You can easily by not measuring accidentally eat an additional 200-300 calories per day from underestimating how much peanut butter you’re eating.

Solution #1: enjoy peanut butter in moderation, learn what a serving size looks like. A little bit won’t kill you. And if it fits your macros, all the better!

Solution #2: look up a product called PB2. It’s a powdered peanut butter that has had a lot of the fat extracted from it. I enjoy a tablespoon of it with my chocolate vegan Shakeology. It’s only 45 calories and adds an additional 5g of protein to my smoothie. Very tasty! :)

So in conclusion: enjoy your peanut butter, but know how much of it you’re eating and what’s in it other than just peanut butter.

 

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Cize by Shaun T is here! One of the best workout programs ever…

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Okay…first of all, a confession: it did NOT hit me until the coach summit that the byline for Cize “the end of exercise” was a pun.

Cause you know…exercize.

Yeaaaahhhh.

Anyway! Cize is a really awesome dance cardio program designed to just get you moving your body and enjoying yourself. It’s good for all fitness levels from the beginner to the advanced “I just came off of Shaun T’s Insanity”.

It’s now on sale on my site, and I’m starting a Cize fitness challenge group next month! Here are the links to get more info/purchase:

If you don’t already have a coach and you purchase a program from me, you are automatically eligible to join my Cize fitness challenge group in August!

Here are the details:

  • I will be coaching a group of people in a private Facebook group online
  • I will be available for any questions or problems you may have, including tips on eating right and healthy without deprivation and torture
  • The group will run for 30 days starting August 1st

Here’s the preview video:


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New vegan fitness book: Vegan Vitality

I’m a featured plant-based athlete in the brand new book Vegan Vitality by Karina Inkster! Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Vitality-Complete-Plant-Based-Lifestyle/dp/1629143642.
Vegan Vitality (by Karina Inkster, foreword by Robert Cheeke) is a new cookbook and active living guide for vegans. My interview is on page 105 as a featured plant-based athlete!
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“I’m sick! Should I work out? What can I do if I’m sick?”

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I spent the entire weekend in bed with the stomach bug from hell after missing out on a LOT of sleep in the past week. Did I workout? Hells no! I rested, drank fluids, and spent time watching Buffy and Veronica Mars marathons. My kitties were incredibly upset at my absence and I owe them a kitty cuddle movie night, but I badly needed the rest. No workouts for me!

Whether or not you should workout when you’re sick depending on a few things:

  1. What the illness is and its symptoms
  2. How severe the illness is
  3. The type of workout you’re looking to do

Here’s the problem: the same system that helps your body to fight off a cold or a bug is the same system aids in recovery during and after a workout. To tax it would be the same thing as overtraining and would produce the same results. It would also potentially prolong the illness and make it even worse.

If you’re fighting allergies and/or sinus issues, I’ve found that getting the blood circulating helps to clear the passageways and boost the immune system. The key is to listen to your body and not overdo it. I used to spend all winter with sinus and ear infections until I began working out regularly, now I hardly get them at all. I now average getting sick only 1-2 times per year as opposed to several times, especially during the winter. So exercising can be a preventive measure as well provided you are NOT overtraining and are taking care of yourself, getting plenty of rest, etc.

However, if you have a genuine bug with a fever, vomiting, upset stomach, GI issues, etc., you are far better off taking a rest day or two and going easy on yourself. I had a temperature of 101 and the bathroom became a frequent companion, which meant no, no, no workouts. None. I burned all of 1500 calories on Saturday by lying down all day and I had to suck it. So must you!

I am personally the sort of individual that once I get run down for any reason for a few days: lack of sleep, stress, etc I can pretty much expect that if I don’t nip it in the bud soon, my immune system will be compromised and my chance of illness is heightened. So get your zzz’s, take a rest day every so often–even if it’s an active rest day that involves walking or yoga–and remember that rest and recovery is just as important as working out.

I’ll leave you all with this handy image of a list¬†of when NOT to workout, when it is okay, and what forms are good:

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