Life after Snatched

So as I mentioned before — I am almost two weeks through the Buzzfeed Healthy Eating Challenge. Overall, I’ve REALLY enjoyed doing this. It takes the guesswork out of food and prep. It feels good and healthy. It’s fueling my body with LOTS of veggies and it isn’t that hard to maintain. It does take time to prep 3 meals and 2 snacks every day (for two people, no less) but I feel like I’ve been successful! I also feel like it’s given me more ideas of things to cook and breakfasts to have. I think Randall and I will sit down and talk about which meals we liked best and put them into our rotation. He really liked a black bean chili they had, and I’ve been into all the eggs I’m eating (I love eggs… no seriously… LOVE them).

We also had the Snatched Wrap party which was really fun and I got back my “official” before and after pictures. Even though I didn’t “win” (you can get all your money back if you have the best before/after pics), I feel like the pictures show real progress.

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What I find really interesting is how the shape of my lower half has changed! Also shoulder/deltoid definition is cool! Also — good haircut.

Doing the Buzzfeed challenge has really helped to take food out of the equation for now. I’ve been going to my Mark Fisher classes and training with the personal trainer outside of that. And somehow have dropped a few more pounds in just those few weeks. I am really into my new body and understand that it takes some time and energy to maintain but my head space is good. Saying no is easier (this is the hardest thing for me). And I’ve been playing with rewards such as huge iced unsweetened green teas after workouts. I’ve been only supplementing protein on mornings that I work out because I figure my exertion probably balances out the extra calories and PROTEIN. I know I still have a ways to go but I feel like I’m finally back in a place to focus on it.

I’m going to go back to my greek yogurt/flax seed/blackberry/almond parfait now. Thanks Buzzfeed!

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Week 5 — and PICTURES!

Well the last Week 4 workout was really rough. I am not a sweaty person and was dripping at the end. Yesterday we had our first week 5 workout and honestly it was SO HARD. And I couldn’t tell you why. It seemed like it was still combinations of stuff we’ve been doing all along but somehow it really felt like serious work this week. At the end of the class we were foam rolling and Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back to Me came on the sound system and the entire class sang along to the ENTIRE song. It was amazing and felt so communal and hysterical and sweet. It was a highlight of Snatched this far and really made me appreciate the community aspect. I KNOW I’m a people oriented person but sitting in a room with a bunch of really tired, sweaty people belting Celine Dion was pretty epic. Loved it.

Though I’ve only been doing Blink for 4ish weeks I’m pretty attached to the trainer there. She’s a really feisty lady named Dee and fortunately for her but UNFORTUNATELY for me, she’s leaving to work at Blink Corporate. So this morning she had two of the new trainers tag-team me and it was rough. I really liked one of them but felt like he didn’t think I was strong (WHICH — I AM! — this is exciting to say). The other woman was just in to incredibly long reps and it was really hard and tedious. I like doing circuit type things and jumping around and not doing 60 knee-rubs (ow my abs).

So I forgot to post my Week 4 pictures on Monday but here they are. I’ve put them against the Week 0 photos. You can check out Week 2 update here. I see the most change in the first photo but surprisingly I feel like I saw more change in the Week 2 than I do now. I’ve lost over 4 inches of my hips but I feel like it is not showing up in pictures? My waist is definitely showing up and that’s pretty cool to see but, honestly, I thought I’d see a bigger shift at this point in the game. So goes! It’s Snatched in 6 weeks after all — not 4.

IMG_4239 IMG_4240 IMG_4241Though I have to tell you — my head space is really good. I am hoping that I’ve established some patterns (cooking on the weekend, eating whole nutritious food, working out regularly, understanding that community is important to me etc) that I can carry on throughout Snatched. Making good food choices — and especially saying NO to bad ones — has felt relatively much easier and I feel like I’m starting to get in the groove of what I was doing before when I lost weight. I feel happy and healthy and strong. I feel like maintaining this after Snatched will be key but I feel pumped and able. And hope to keep sharing that journey with you!

Sugar on the Brain: What’s the Deal with Sugar Addiction?

“We don’t abuse lettuce, turnips and oranges…But when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn as far as I know, but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?”

Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

 There are a lot of books and diets out there that talk about food and addiction, but what does research on this actually show? A Princeton study from 2009 made the argument that sugar can act on the brain in similar ways as addictive drugs. The study argued that rats who were fed sugar showed signs of addiction such as bingeing, withdrawal, craving- even neurochemical changes to the brain-  in a similar fashion as they would to addictive substances such as cocaine.

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In the study, rats were shown to “binge” on sugar when they were hungry, which provokes a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Even after only a month, the brain structures of these rats had changed due to the increased dopamine levels. Dopamine is a key mechanism for the brain’s reward and motivation systems, and similar changes to the are also seen in the brains of rats given addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin.

When the researchers took away the sugar supply, the rats showed signs of withdrawal. The brain levels of dopamine dropped, which caused symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, teeth chattering, paw shaking, and disengagement. When sugar was reintroduced, the rats worked who had binged on sugar worked harder to get it and they consumed 23% more sugar than they had before.

One thing that has been shown to ease cravings for food is…exercise! Several studies have shown that exercise can also modulate the brain’s motivation and reward structures. A study reported in the New York Times showed that after beginning a regimen of regular exercise, in this case running, participants started feeling satiated faster without even realizing it:

“A related study published in December looked at the effects of moderate exercise, the equivalent of brisk jogging. It found that after 12 weeks, formerly sedentary, overweight men and women began recognizing, without consciously knowing it, that they should not overeat.

But after three months of exercise, the volunteers consumed fewer calories throughout the day when they had the high-calorie shake than the lower-calorie one. Exercise “improves the body’s ability to judge the amount of calories consumed and to adjust for that afterward,” says Catia Martins, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, who led the study.”

 

Probiotics 101

“To say a product contains Lactobacillus is like saying you’re bringing George Clooney to a party. It may be the actor, or it may be an 85-year-old guy from Atlanta who just happens to be named George Clooney. With probiotics, there are strain-to-strain differences.”

Gregor Reid, director of the Canadian Research and Development Center for Probiotics

George Clooney wants to make sure you get live and active probiotic cultures

George Clooney wants to make sure you get live and active probiotic cultures

I’ve definitely noticed that there is a lot of new research is looking at probiotics and how they may be involved in helping with everything from stomach issues like IBS to improvements in stress management and strengthening the immune system. But is there any research to back these claims? Is there a difference between regular old yogurt and yogurt that is advertised as having special probiotic benefits?

Probiotics are living microorganisms (often bacteria but they can also be other types of microorganisms like yeasts) that are shown to have some sort of health benefits. I most often think of probiotics as being in yogurt, but they are also in all kinds of fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, and kimchi (future posts on specific probiotic foods to come!). Probiotics can also be taken in a pill or powdered form as a supplement.

Look for "live and active cultures" on the label

Look for “live and active cultures” on the label

The American Gastroenterology Association provides a great comparison of different probiotic products specifically tested for gastrointestinal disorders. This is important because different strains of probiotics have been shown to be helpful for different conditions. It is also important to note that the FDA has not yet approved any health claims for probiotics.

 

SOME RULES OF THUMB FOR PICKING A PROBIOTIC

  • In yogurt, look for the phrase “contains active cultures” on the label to confirm that the product includes the living organisms that make probiotics work. Lots of products, like pickles and sauerkraut, are pasteurized before being sold which kills the live bacteria. If the bacteria aren’t active, they can’t do their thing.  (USA Today)
  • Some of the common strains to look for include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species such as: bifidobacterium lactis HN109; lactobacillus reuteri ATCC55730; lactobacillus rhamnosus GG9LGG; and lactobacillus casei DN-114 001. (USA Today )
  • In general, not all probiotics are the same, and they don’t all work the same way. Each group of bacteria has different species and each species has different strains. This is important to remember because different strains have different benefits for different parts of your body. For example, Lactobacillus casei  has been shown to support the immune system and to help food move through the gut, but Lactobacillus bulgaricus may help relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance. (American Gastroenterological Association)
  • Beware of products that promise a specific health improvement. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any specific health claims for probiotics. Many probiotic products are sold as dietary supplements, which do not require FDA approval prior to marketing (which also means the product hasn’t been tested by the FDA for safety or effectiveness). (NIH)
  • Remember to store your probiotic according to the package instructions and make sure the product has a sell-by or expiration date. Probiotics are living organisms. Even if they are dried and dormant, like in a powder or capsule, they must be stored properly or they can die. Some require refrigeration whereas others do not. They also have a shelf-life, so make sure you use them before the expiration date on the package. (American Gastroenterological Association)

 

For more information on probiotics here are some great articles:

American Gastroenterological Association – Probiotics: What They Are and What They Can Do for You http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/diet-medications/probiotics#Choosing a Probiotic

American Gastroenterological Association – A Gastroenterologist’s Guide to Probioticshttp://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(12)00369-2/fulltext#tbl2

NIH National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine – Oral Probiotics: An Introductionhttp://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm