There is nothing more invigorating or gratifying than a great conversation with great friends. As I get older, I find that I love those friends that have willingly turned over the “age-fight” in exchange for embracing change, and the unpredictability of what’s next.
After more than 20 years in the fitness industry, I have encountered many women who feel the pressure of perfection. Rather than allowing the good stuff to overpower the not-so-good stuff, women focus on all the things they can’t change vs. the things they can.
It’s unfortunate that at every turn, today’s women are being preached to via magazines, websites and television shows on the perils of getting older, and aging is a bad thing. Women are expected to fight aging and regain their youth through a serum, pill, or whatever the latest trend is. When women succumb to popular expectations, they inadvertently lose the essence of who they are, relinquishing their ability to thrive.
Over the years I’ve held tight to those friends that make me laugh- a lot. My friends are are optimistic, confident, inquisitive, and need little to feel complete. I love when my friends challenge me to dig deeper, look for more opportunities to spread my wings, and become something more than the all too common empty shell. Far too many women are spending their energy on the shell and ignoring the most important part, what’s inside the shell.
For years I told my clients (when I was training), to work from the inside out, to dig deep for all treasure that is within and once that treasure is discovered, there’s nothing you can’t do. Unfortunately, the only digging that’s being done is on the outside, digging at their shortcomings and perceived limitations.
It’s actually sad, because absolutely every single woman I have ever met (despite what they believe), has buried treasure waiting to be discovered. Yet, they believe that the outside is reflective of what’s inside. They assume if they can’t achieve perfection externally, there is certainly no digging to be done internally. Again, sad.
As I move forward and write more, part of my mission is to inspire women to begin with internal changes, finding the happiness that DOES exist, exploring new opportunities vs. being limited by external limitations. It’s vitally important to surround yourself with those people that lift you up, not push you down. Enrich your life by staying with friends that downplay your imperfections, and focus on your gifts and encourage you to use them. As women, we should never settle, never compromise, and most importantly never give up our internal search for treasure, because it’s there.
I love my friends, I’m grateful for their respect, sense of humor, encouragement and acceptance. Those are the friends that are good for my health and act as my natural anti-aging elixir. I have come to understand that good health isn’t the result of one thing, i.e., exercise, nutrition, rather it is a compilation of things, one of which includes good friends.
You want to be healthy and age well? Surround yourself with good friends, they are the ones that see your potential and encourage you to seize it. I encourage you to dig deep for the buried treasure, it’s worth is invaluable, it’s effect eternal. Further, just think of the money you’ll save on anti-aging products. You can thank me later!
By Nicki On January 15, 2012 No Comments
I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life working to inspire people to get healthy through exercise and sound nutrition. However, the challenge with my job is that not everyone wants to get healthy as much as they want to lose weight. Over the years, we have put such emphasis on weight loss that we’ve lost site of our health. Obesity wasn’t a big issue (no pun intended) 40-50 years ago for a few reasons, we were more active, we ate less, and the quality of our food was better. As people struggle with their weight, they are missing out on the real opportunity to get healthy and weigh less, and it all starts with making decisions based on improving health vs. losing weight. I’ve said it before, (many times) but I’ll say it again, weight loss (or a healthy weight) is simply a byproduct of healthy living.
The more I study nutrition, the deeper my interest in the quality of the foods we eat and how it affects our health. What I’ve found is that the most damaging changes in our food choices include, the increase of sugar consumption, and hormones used in so many products.
Dr. Christine Horner, is a nationally known surgeon and author advocating prevention-oriented medicine and ways to become and stay healthy naturally. Here is what Dr. Horner says about sugar.
“To me, sugar has no redeeming value at all, because they found that the more we consume it, the more we’re fuelling every single chronic disease,” Dr. Horner says. “In fact, there was a study done about a year ago… and the conclusion was that sugar is a universal mechanism for chronic disease. It kicks up inflammation. It kicks up oxygen free radicals. Those are the two main processes we see that underlie any single chronic disorder, including cancers. It fuels the growth of breast cancers, because glucose is cancer’s favorite food. The more you consume, the faster it grows.”
I have always believed that sugar is the “Beelzebub” of the food world. In my years of working with women, those who were addicted to sugar, were the ones with the most health problems while struggling with their weight. There are numerous diets and though they may help people lose weight temporarily, they rarely include health education in their programs. Further, not only does chronic dieting mess with your body, it messes with your mind. Sure, some diets include fresh vegetables in their “Healthy Foods to Eat”, but recently, Weight Watchers listed Chicken McNuggets as a healthy food option. WHAT? It goes back to the focus on weight vs. health.
If possible, I’d like you to stop for one minute, consider this internal conversation, “O.K., clearly I’m not a healthy weight, my blood pressure is high and I’m out of shape. Going on a diet is NOT the answer. I’ve got to learn how to eat better and exercise regularly as that is the ONLY long-term solution to improving my health and not jeopardizing it through some wacky weight loss program. How many diets have I been on? And ultimately, what have they done for me?”
But instead of that conversation, it often goes more like this, “I’m so fat, I’ve got to do something. But, every time I try to lose weight I quit, so why even bother? Most of the time I’m eating foods I don’t even like OR I’m hungry all the time. May as well just keep doing what I’ve been doing or try that cabbage soup diet. My neighbor is doing it and losing weight.”
I’d like you to start thinking differently, today, right now. When you think about food and your weight, remember these two points are the ONLY solution to long-term weight and health issues.
1. Eat whole foods including the following: fresh veggies, (think outside the carrot and celery box here), whole grains (not enriched, bleached flour) WHOLE grains, quinoa, brown/wild rice, fresh fruits (ideally organic, but hey, any kind is better than no kind, just wash it well), water and farm raised meats. Eating these foods will never leave you hungry, they won’t leave you craving more like processed and sugar laden foods do. I’m not a purist by any means, but 80-90% of the time I eat very well. Since losing 50 pounds over 30 years ago, I have not put my weight back on. Not because I’m “good”, I’m aware. I want to be in control of my health, I want to have the power over my body and not let the food that makes people a lot of money ruin my body, (remember, processed foods are much cheaper to manufacture and that is transferred to the consumer).
2. You MUST exercise. Look, we all know that technology has led most of us to sit far more than we move. If we are to give our body what it needs to function at it’s best, we must exercise. Exercise is NOT punishment for an imperfect body, rather it’s a gift that you can give yourself each and every day. When you exercise, you are allowing the body to do what it was designed to do, MOVE. 15-20 minutes a day is a starting point. Start, you have to.
Here’s the bottom line. Stop with the diets, stop. Start educating yourself about food and what food makes your body run more efficiently and work to prevent illness. You are welcome to email me and I will give you resources to start your journey(firstname.lastname@example.org). Type II diabetes CAN be prevented. Heart disease CAN be prevented, obesity CAN be prevented simply by shifting the way you look at food and making it your ally vs. your enemy. Don’t give food the power any more, it’s time for you to step up and take control of your health and ultimately your life! Who me, passionate? You bet I am! I want to see women gain strength and take back control of their health, it’s long overdue.
Dedicated to your good health,
By Nicki On May 15, 2011 No Comments
After close to 30 years of studying nutrition, I find we are no closer to a clear understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. So many agendas, so much money to be made, so many opinions, it makes it rather tough for the average American to clearly understand what the truth is when it comes to a healthy diet. I had a couple new clients this week and all of them echoed the same concerns, “I’m so confused about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, what’s the truth?” Given that I am not an R.D. I’m mindful of how much information I feel comfortable sharing with my clients, so I often provide websites for clients to visit. That way, they can form their own opinions about what makes sense to them and their lifestyle. But in my years as a fitness professional, I have learned a lot and here of some of the lessons I have learned.
1. We eat too much, period. Further, we eat too much of the wrong things. We have gotten away from whole, fresh foods as the norm and ended up with boxed, processed foods as the new norm. Our foods are loaded with ingredients we can’t pronounce, along with a surplus of sugar, fat and sodium. With the explosion of “diet food” and trends, we are led to believe that something like “100 calorie packs” are healthy for us, when it fact, it’s simply a smaller amount of processed food and questionable ingredients. The goal should be to get as close to natural and whole food as we possibly can. It’s supply and demand, the more we seek out whole foods, the greater the likelihood of them being more readily available.Unfortunately, there is far more money to be made in processed foods that have a long shelf life.
2. All too often people confuse dieting with eating healthy, that’s not always the case. Some diets offer pre-prepared boxed foods. Weight loss programs don’t focus on quality of food, simply quantity. The truth is anyone can lose weight if they cut down the amount of food they’re eating, but if you’re eating a snickers bar because it has less calories than an avocado, you’re missing the point. Sustainable weight loss comes from focusing on quality and quantity. Reassessing what you’re eating, how you can improve the quality of the food you’re eating while reducing the quantity. It’s a common held belief that if food is “healthy” you don’t have to worry about how much you eat. Our country has become obsessed with “how much can I get away with eating without gaining weight?” Not a good approach. The better approach is “How can I learn to eat well, feel well and sustain those healthy habits?” But diets perpetuate the misconceptions and as long as people are losing weight (even though it’s often temporary), they don’t question it.
3. We are a powerhouse country, we are well-educated yet our country is suffering from staggering numbers of health maladies as a result of poor nutrition and inactivity. Even worse, for the lower income families their options of fresh fruits and veggies are limited. We make it easier and more affordable to go to McD’s and get a happy meal than to receive education on how to make great, healthy meals on a shoestring budget. It’s possible, but it’s not a money making proposition for large food manufacturers that mass produce “carbage.” We are led to believe that with busier lives and less money, the only food we can afford (both in time and money is junk food), I beg to differ. Perhaps we need to spend more money on developing programs that teach options for healthy nutrition. ”
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
4. Parents think they’re doing their kids a favor by buying in to the highly commercialized boxed, processed foods. The truth is….I did it. I shudder to think that at one time I bought my kids junk snacks masked as “natural” including those fruit roll-ups things which barely pass as food. It wasn’t until I really started studying nutrition that I came to know that the fruit roll-ups were made up of: corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and a variety of artificial colors and o.k. pear concentrate. When I finally started studying what I was putting in to my child’s body, I stopped. My kids were not happy, but I certainly knew that in the long-run, it was what I needed to do to give my kids the best start possible. Just as we educate our kids about the dangers of smoking and drinking, so should we focus on educating them on healthy eating.
5. So much information so little time. Here’s the way I look at it, you can’t go wrong with whole foods, you just can’t. Granted there is the debate about organic vs. non-organic, I won’t go in to my thoughts on that now, but the bottom line is that the closer you can get to natural food, the better off you’re going to be, period. If I buy anything that is boxed or wrapped, I read the ingredients. If it has more than 3 ingredients that I can’t pronounce, I take a pass. We can take control of our health by taking control of what we put in our mouth. I don’t want my nutrition information coming from organizations that are funded by Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, General Mills, Mars, etc. how can the information be objective? Um, it’s not.
Here’s the bottom line. There’s no shortage of nutrition information out there. It’s hard to research because links often take you to places that are trying to pedal their wares. As stated earlier, I’m not an RD, I am simply passionate about seeing the health of our country improve by educating kids and families properly. The sad truth is that if we don’t get a handle on this obesity issue due to poor nutrition and inactivity(nutrition being the biggest contributor), the future of our country will be weak at best.
Following are just a few of the websites I recommend.
Here’s to Your Good Health,