Archives for September 2008

Going All Pumpkin Like

This past weekend, the stores seemed to be getting ready for autumn, so naturally we obliged and bought a few pumpkin flavored products that we usually buy this time of year: Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream, Pumpkin Spice Coffee, and canned pumpkin (to make Jennifer’s super lite, sugar free, Pumpkin muffins). It has been cold enough in the mornings that it really does feel like Fall! Nothing beats enjoying a cool breeze while drinking Pumpkin Spice coffee.

How to Lose Weight: #16 Set a Goal, and Remind Yourself of It

If weight loss was easy, we’d all be thin. It was easy for ancient man, who didn’t know where his next meal was coming from, and would burn loads of calories just killing that mastodon. Back then, you had to burn a lot of calories just to get calories. Today, we still have our instinctual love of rich, fatty foods, but we aren’t nearly as active as we once were, so we have to use our minds to overcome our natural love of bad foods and inactivity.

This is where goals come in. I find that having a goal, and a clear and realistic time frame to achieve the goal, is helpful. Also, constantly reminding myself of the goal doesn’t hurt either. I tend to do it like this:

General Goal: Lose Weight, Gain Muscle

Reasons for Goal: Look Thinner and in better shape by the time school starts

Ways to Achieve Goal: Weight Lift every other day, run every other day (walk on non-running days)

This example is very broad, but you get the idea. I then find ways to remind myself of the goal. I will write it on a card in my wallet, post information on my fridge, or, send myself an email reminder every day! I set up a recurring email reminder at Memo To Me, so everyday at the time I choose, I can get a reminder that I am trying to lose weight before school starts. Another thing I used to do, was visualize myself reaching some sort of goal at the end of a segment of exercise. If you are not following me, let me explain. I used this some in high school (this example is very high school, so be warned). For example, if I was getting ready to ask a particular girl out, but wanted to lose a little weight first, I would make a little game out of the sprints. So, after the first sprint, it would be like I walked up to her, the second, starting a conversation, and so forth, until I visualized going on a date (nothing beyond that, so get your mind out of the gutter!). Sure, this is a high school male example that most of you might not be able to relate to, but you get my drift. It was a vivid reminder of why I was out there, and gave me a goal to reach (even if it was simply a visualization).

Having a goal, and being reminded of this goal is extremely important!

How to Lose Weight: #15 Drink Water

Water is a symbol of life, nourishment, and regeneration, which is why Christians (and other religions) use water in the sacrament of baptism. It is no wonder water is such a powerful symbol: the human body is 60 percent water, and without water, we would die in a matter of days.

According to Flip the Switch, most of us are chronically dehydrated. Our bodies naturally lose about 10 cups of water a day, and this doesn’t even include that lost from intense exercise, and the dehydrating effects of stress. So it seems that most of us are truly water-deficient.

Not only are we dehydrated, but our dehydration is making it harder for us to lose weight. Again, According to Flip the Switch:

– Dehydration may cause the buildup of fat deposits, and increased fluid intake enhances the biochemical processes that help the body release fatty acids from fat cells in the blood stream. The message? More water=fewer fat deposits.

– When our bodies are dehydrated, we may perceive dehydration signals as hunger pangs, and eat more, so staying hydrated may help us eat less.

– A German study found that sipping 2 liters of water a day increased calorie burning by 100 calories. In the course of a year, that will result in a loss of 10 pounds

– One study found that sipping 17 ounces of ice water raises metabolism by 30 percent for 90 minutes following the ice water consumption. Apparently, the body has to use extra energy to warm the water up to body temperature. Drinking 17 ounces of water seems to be especially helpful in boosting metabolism if the water is drunk in the morning.

I try to drink a lot of water throughout the day. It keep me hydrated and my stomach full. I am fortunate that our school has a water cooler. I take a big 44 ounce Speedway cup and fill it and drink it throughout the day. We also recently bought a fridge at home that has purified water hooked up to it; this has helped us drink a lot more water, because it tastes great (I find myself craving the water). I also drink 17 ounces or more of ice water first thing in the morning. I just fill up the water bottle the night before and put it in the fridge. By morning it is very cold. It really makes sense to drink a lot of water in the morning. Would we ever go 8 hours straight without any liquid? Well, that is what we do at night, so it is logical that in the morning we would need to seriously rehydrate ourselves!

Vitamin C: September 2008 Nutrient of the Month

When most people think of nutrients, they likely think of Vitamin C. Championed by Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling for many years, this vitamin is associated primarily with the common cold. Most animals manufacture their own vitamin C, and they manufacture a lot of it when they are under stressful conditions. Humans lost that ability somewhere along the evolutionary time-line, so many doctors suggest supplementation is necessary. As an antioxidant, it is believed that vitamin C prevents free radical damage to the body.

A basic deficiency results in Scurvy, a disease that affected many sailors during the age of exploration because fresh fruits and vegetables were unavailable. It wasn’t until 1747 that Dr. James Lind carried out a little experiment and determined that it was a substance in food that prevented Scurvy. Intellectuals of that age initially ridiculed him, but the lime juice that the British took with them on voyages helped give them naval superiority, hence their opponents called them “limeys.”

Vitamin C has shown to be beneficial against heart disease, in which those who took more than 750 mg/day (well over the RDA of 60 mg), had a 25% lower risk of heart disease.

A study of 870 men found that those who consumed more than 83 mg of Vitamin C a day had a 64% reduction in lung cancer than men who consumed less. Others studies show similar results with other cancers.

Vitamin C taken internally (and possibly even externally) has an anti-wrinkle effect, so vitamin C is good for skin health too. Jennifer and I use a Vitamin C face cream, which we bought from Puritan’s Pride. We also add our own Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Co-Enzyme Q10.

While Vitamin C is not a cure for the common cold, it does seem to help prevent it, and lessen the severity of colds when taken as a preventative measure.

Vitamin C also seems to be effective in a variety of other conditions, so it is most worthy of being a nutrient of the month!

I take about 750-1000 mg of Vitamin C a day, in 250 mg doses spread throughout the day. If you take too much at once, you will just pee it out since it is water soluble. I tend to take just plain old Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid), although other forms (like Ester-C) may be easier on the stomach and possibly stay in the body longer. I take vitamin C to prevent the diseases I listed above, as well as for its antioxidant, anti-stress, and anti-inflammation properties. Since vitamin C supplements are very inexpensive, cost is not really an issue (if you order it from the right place, a 500 mg tablet costs about 2 cents)

The best sources in food are strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, and sweet red peppers. Bioflavonoids (for a time called “Vitamin P”) are thought to aid the absorption of Vitamin C. They are found in the white rinds of Citrus, and other foods, so drinking orange juice with the pulp would hypothetically help vitamin C absorb better (and bioflavonoids, like Rutin, have a lot of benefits themselves!). You won’t find vitamin C in meats and cheeses, i.e. foods common in bad diets, so many Americans may not be getting the optimal amount.

Image of lemon and lime juice containers taken by me (in the background a banana, itself with a decent amount of vitamin C).