Bye Bye Sugar

 

I decided to say goodbye to one of my favorite things to eat…sugar. I know what you’re thinking… ‘you’re crazy, there’s no way I could do that, I’d crave it too much.’ Well, that was the main reason I decided to give it a try. It’s like being an addict… you eat something that has sugar or artificial sweeteners or additives in them and then what does your body do? You guessed it, makes you want more. I’ve read about this topic and watched documentaries about the scary food world we live in today and they put it perfectly for all of us sugar addicts out there… everything is laced with sugar of some kind by the food industry. So the question is, how do you overcome this addiction when we live in a world where it’s nearly impossible to do? If I can take steps in the right direction, you can too. Trust me, I lead a healthy, active lifestyle and most people would say to me that I work out a lot so I can pretty much eat whatever I want. I agree to a point because one small reason out of the many reasons I lead the life I do is so I can enjoy life and not restrict myself on special occasions. But I don’t always have the willpower people think I do.

Here’s a little story about why I decided to end my toxic relationship with sugar. On my birthday this year I got the most delicious 11×14 pan of cookie butter bars from a client. What are those you ask? Well let me tell you… they are a layer of cake mix, a stick of butter and an egg, followed by a layer of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (which is cookies ground up into a peanut butter consistency… eat-it-with-a-spoon good) mixed with a can of condensed milk to make it seem almost like caramel… but better. Then it is topped off with three kinds of chips… chocolate, butterscotch and white chocolate. I mean these puppies are dense, rich and absolutely delicious and in moderation during my birthday week they would’ve been totally fine. Well, I came to realize that moderation does not mean eating three quarters of the pan in four days. If that didn’t slap me in the face as a sugar addiction problem, I’m not sure that anything would.

So I bought a book a coworker recommended with the catchy and appropriate title of  ‘I Quit Sugar’ and off I went on my quest to be bigger than my addiction. How many times do we tell ourselves that we can’t do something? Is it because we can’t do it or we don’t want to? I always said I could never give up sugar and the truth of it was I didn’t want to. So I decided to stop being a victim of the ‘I can’t’ and move forward with the ‘Why can’t I?’ attitude.

It’s hasn’t been easy, I’ll admit that but I went into it knowing it most definitely wouldn’t be. I knew I’d be hungry, cranky and want to quit and go back to my old ways but since I went into it knowing this would happen I was able to push through and stay strong. Now I feel like I should pay it forward and help others tackle this addiction once and for all. I should preface all of this by saying that I won’t go the rest of my life without sugar. There will be parties and holidays and happy times that I want to celebrate and enjoy but what I will be able to do is find moderation with my sugar servings and know that I can stop eating it after that appropriate portion size and feel satisfied instead of feeling like I want more. I will be bigger than my circumstances because I am in control instead of the addiction taking control.

So how did I go about all of these eating habit changes?

1. Take an honest look at your daily sugar intake.  It’s amazing how much we consume without even knowing it.  Right now, according to the documentary Hungry For Change, an adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day on average. Can you imagine eating 22 spoonfuls of sugar a day? Of course there are natural sugars in foods that are good for you on a daily basis but even too much of a good thing can be bad. It’s important to take into account ALL sugar… good and bad.

2. Start to read food labels more carefully.  Sugar is disguised on many food labels and a lot of times it’s in the form of something we can’t pronounce. The heavy hitter when it comes to sugar is fructose.Your body doesn’t acknowledge it when it is in your system so instead of metabolizing it, it holds onto it and eventually turns into fat. Also, one thing to know when looking at a dairy product label is that the first 12 grams of sugar is in the form of lactose which your body can use and can also recognize it and in turn use it to help your body. So in general, awareness is the first step to ‘recovery’… recognize the problem and slowly learn how to be proactive about doing something about it.

 

3. Give yourself some time to slowly start eliminating the ‘bad sugars’ first and start incorporating more healthy fats. Keep natural sugar in your diet such as fruits or plain whole fat yogurt but start saying goodbye to the artificial and processed sugars. Start adding in more healthy fats such as avocado, meat and cheese. These food ideas should all be full fat as opposed to low fat because low fat just means they had to alter the food somehow to take some of it out. Fat will curb your hunger faster and satisfy you enough to curb your sugar cravings.

 

4. Give your body time to get used to the change.  The women who wrote the book I read did an 8 week detox from sugar including natural sugar as well to get it completely out of her body and then she could reintroduce it and her body would react differently to it. I’m not saying you have to do an 8 week no-sugar diet but find what works for you. If having an apple or some full fat yogurt will help get you through the day, have those types of snacks in moderation.

 

This is a lot for your body to take on depending on how much sugar you intake in a day but allow your body to function without it and just see how you feel. There are a lot of great sugar free recipes out there made of natural ingredients and will give you the sweet taste that you need but won’t be harmful to your body. Be bigger than your cravings and addictions and test your willpower. Like I said before, in order to do something you have to want to do it for yourself. Take care of your body and fuel with it real food and tackle that sweet tooth once and for all.

 

 

Wellness From Nature

 

Summer is in full swing whether or not the weather is to our liking, but that is Wisconsin. The calendar says it is summer; the days are long and nature is following along with the first products of her majesty. June is the month to stuff your body with all the vegetables and herbs we have been waiting for. Vegetables promote long-term health, provide energy, and help you look your best. They are nature’s power-house of goodness.

The fact that we need to eat vegetables everyday is not a new concept to any of us. Our mothers have told us “You need to eat your vegetables” ever since we can remember, and as a species, from the dawn of time! Vegetables supply an incredible amount of health-promoting vitamins. Some are required daily, like the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and D, which also can be stored in our bodies for future use. The water-soluble vitamins (C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and folic acid) can only be stored in small amounts or not at all. Remember, humans cannot make vitamins; we have to get them from the environment and they are “essential nutrients”.

Eating a wide variety of vegetables as a regular part of your diet will help you stay slim and will provide the energy and vitality for you to enjoy life. A mantra here at Wellness For Me is: “Pursue health and performance will follow”.   Vegetables provide the fuel for you to thrive, and you will find phytonutrients, bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and other substances that will provide health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts and the Allium family of vegetables (onions, garlic, and leeks) are among the highest phytonutrient containing vegetables. They contain high amounts of sulfur containing compounds, which have shown to reduce heart disease and cancer. This is just the tip of the iceberg of health benefits.

Make the logical choice and stock up on those vegetables; it will be one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Here are some more great June items you may like to try with your Brewers Organics order:

 

Asparagus

Green onions

Peas

Radishes

Sprouts

Kale

Cilantro

Spinach

Chard

 

Pursue health and performance will follow.

Live well!

Frank

 

Frank Alvarez is the Veteran owner-operator of Wellness For Me, LLC, specializing in wellness at the individual and corporate levels. He currently offers a nutrition course resulting in a certification. Frank received his degree in bacteriology from UW-Madison and is currently enrolled in Hawthorn University’s Master of Holistic Nutrition course. He is a Holistic Life Coach from the CHEK Institute, a Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor from the Cory Holly Institute, a Cooper Clinic Fitness Specialist, a Level 1 U.S. Track and Field Coach and a U.S. Triathlon Official.

All course information and registration can be found at his site: http://www.wellnessfor.me, Twitter and Facebook. Contact Frank at 262-488-3011 for more information.

 

Fun With Resistance Band Circuit Training

 

Recently someone asked me if I had any ideas about an exercise routine they could do with their resistance bands.  I was surprised that this was a subject that I had not covered yet but was excited for the new idea.  Resistance bands are super easy for travel, at-home workouts and even circuit training when you’re crunched for time. They are a great tool to use for lighter resistance and higher repetitions. Bands comes in all different styles and thicknesses. I recommend investing in a few different thicknesses of bands so you have some variety in ‘weight’ for your workout. The band that I used for my workout is made by Power Systems and is long enough to be wrapped around an anchor point. It also has an attachment that you can close into a door and it will stay. Bands are typically pretty inexpensive and depending on how often you use them, they should last you a good amount of time.

 

The workout I designed would work well as a timed circuit. This means that you complete one set of each exercise for a set amount of time and then start over at the beginning. I recommend doing three sets of each exercise performing each exercise for one minute with a 20-30 second rest in between to get yourself set up for the next exercise.

 

Your workout will consist of seven exercises:

 

Using a tree as an anchor point:

Chest Press

Chest Flies

Squat to a High Row (not pictured)

 

Using your foot as an anchor point:

Squat to a Overhead Shoulder Press

Bicep Curls

Reverse Flies

Single Arm Tricep Extensions

 

Chest PressCHEST PRESS: Wrap the band around the tree and face away from the tree to start with one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t matter what foot you have in front…whichever you prefer is just fine. Contrary to my picture, the band should be at chest height to start, my band is a little lower than it should be though i was still able to complete the exercise with correct form. The starting position for your hands is palms facing eachother. As you press the band forward, your palms will turn down towards the ground keeping your arms at chest height. As you come back to your starting position, your palms will end by facing one another once again. Remember for each exercise that exhalations are performed when the exercise is difficult and inhalations are performed when the exercise is easier. For example, the press forward is the hard part so you’ll exhale and inhale as your hands return back to their starting position.

 

 

Chest Flies

 

CHEST FLIES: You will begin in the exact position as the chest press with your palms facing one another and your feet in a split stance. Again, the band should be at chest height and not quite as low as the picture shows. Begin the exercise by extending both arms straight out in front of you at chest height with your palms facing one another. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, (not 180 degrees and not 90 degrees but somewhere right in between those two angles) you are going to extend your arms to the sides until they are in line with your body. Press your palms back towards your starting position and repeat.

 

 

 

 

SQUAT TO A HIGH PULL

I failed to download this photo but you can always refer back to previous posts if you’re confused on form. This will be the only exercise where you will be facing the tree. Feet will be shoulder width apart and your arms will be extended in front of you at chest height. You will perform a squat with a good form… push that booty back and let your weight shift back into your heels not letting your knees cross the planes of your toes. Keep your arms outstretched until you begin to stand. As you stand, you are going to pull the band back towards you with your elbows high squeezing your shoulder blades together. Your arms will end at a 90 degree angle. As you begin to extend your arms back, you will perform your next squat and repeat this full body exercise.

 

Overhead

 

SQUAT TO AN OVERHEAD SHOULDER PRESS

Start with your feet shoulder width apart with the band underneath each foot. You have control on the resistance you’re up against by how tight the band is when you step on it. If you need to make the resistance easier, simply give the band some slack and then step onto it. The exercise is performed similar to the last exercise but instead of a row you will perform an overhead shoulder press. Start by performing a squat with your hands at your shoulders and palms facing in front of you. As you stand from your squat you’re going to press the band up overhead and repeat by dropping your hands back to your shoulders while performing your next squat.

 

 

 

 

Curls

 

 

BICEP CURLS

Start in the same position as the squat press with the same rules applying when it comes to how much resistance you can handle. Palms will be facing away from your body and you’re just going to curl the band up to your shoulders with your elbows staying close to your body and then return back to your starting position.

 

 

 

 

Reverse Flies

 

 

REVERSE FLIES

Grab the band with both hands holding it out in front of you about shoulder width apart. You can adjust the resistance if necessary by giving yourself a little more slack between your hands. Pull the band at chest height until your arms are fully outstretched at your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades at the end of your exercise. Bring your hands back to their starting position and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

Tricep

 

SINGLE ARM TRICEP EXTENSIONS

Step on the band with one foot giving yourself the appropriate resistance.  Since we are doing one arm at a time, feel free to switch arms at the 30 second mark. Bring your arm up overhead and hinge at your elbow keeping it nice and close to your ear the entire time. Palm will be facing up to start the exercise and just press the band up until your arm is extended and lower back down to your starting position. Your elbow should stay high the entire exercise.

 

 

 

 

Like I said before, perform each exercise for one minute doing as many reps as you can with correct form in that time. Give yourself 20-30 seconds in between each exercise. Try to perform one set of each exercise before taking a longer break before you start your next full circuit. I plan on doing another band workout post in the near future so have fun with this one and stay tuned for more band excitement.

 

 

 

Work Out Smarter

 

Doesn’t everyone want to work smarter not harder? Well I can help you accomplish that…though you’ll still have to work hard. Full body exercises give you a little more bang for your buck because they work more than one muscle group at a time. Though I know most exercises do this, full body exercises take it one step farther by basically combining two exercises and making them one tough set. You will tend to feel a quicker fatigue when performing these combinations but it will be very effective as long as proper form, breathing and focus are all working together.  With that said I would like to apologize for the lack of proper footwear in my photos. I always wear shoes when I work out but was taking full advantage of this beautiful day with a pair of flip flops and failed to bring shoes with me.

 

So here are the exercises I combined to make them into a full body, get your heart rate up and get you tired exercise. 

 

Kettlebell Sumo Squat High Pull

Kettlebell Sumo

Target muscle groups: Quads, hamstrings, inner thighs, traps, shoulders. (There are many other muscles all of these exercises work, I will keep it simple and just name the primary targets.)

 

Feet should be wider than your hips with your toes pointed out to the side as if you were going to do a plié. As you squat down, drive your knees towards your toes. Don’t let your knees dip towards the middle. One way to keep this form is to think about pushing through the outside of your shoe as you stand from your squat. The kettlebell will be in both hands to start with your arms straight. As you squat down and start to stand, lead with your elbows and pull the kettlebell towards your chin. Repeat this exercise.

 

Kettlebell Swing

Kettle Swing

Target muscle groups: hamstrings, quads, glutes, shoulders, heart. (When I say heart, I mean it will be a cardiovascular exercise as well as a strength exercise)

Start in just about the same position as the sumo squat but bring your feet in a little closer together and your toes can be facing forward. Think about your hips being a hinge throughout this exercise.  You should never try to control the kettlebell with your upper body but rather use the momentum of the swing to keep the exercise going. I always tell my clients to keep their chest up which will help them from putting more pressure on their lower back. Start with the KB hanging down and push your hips back with a slight bend in your knees. Keep your neck in line with your spine. As you swing the KB forward (swinging it only until it is parallel with the ground) throw your hips forward and squeeze your glutes together. As the KB swings back down keep your chest high and push your hips back to get ready for the next swing. Repeat this exercise.

 

Reverse Lunge with a Lateral Raise

Reverse Lunge

Target muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, deltoids.

 

I have taught both of these exercises in previous posts but I will review them for you. Start with dumbbells at your sides and take an oversized step backwards. Keeping good posture, drop your back knee towards the ground without allowing your knee of the front leg to pass the plane of your toe. Step your feet back to their starting positions and raise the dumbbells out to the sides until their are parallel with the ground. If you want an added challenge, instead of waiting to raise them when you are back to standing you can raise them when you are down in the lunge position. Repeat this exercise.

 

Sit Up with a Front Raise

Front Raise

Target muscle groups: core, shoulders.

 

Using just one dumbbell, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  As you begin to roll your body up to a seat position the dumbbell will be out in front of you. Once you are in your seated position raise the dumbbell overhead and then slowly and in a controlled manner, roll yourself back down until you’re laying on your back. Repeat this exercise.

 

Dumbbell Bicep Curl and Shoulder Press

dumbbell curl

Target muscle groups: biceps, shoulders

 

Start with the dumbbells at your sides and then curl them up to your shoulders. Your palms can face each other throughout the entire exercise. Press the dumbbells over head and bring them back down to your shoulders. Reverse curl them back to your starting position. Repeat this exercise.

 

When performing this exercises, try to get at least 12-15 repetitions in and two to three sets depending on how much time you have. Use a weight that gets progressively more challenging the last three to five reps. Like I said before, remember to keep proper form, always breath while lifting weights and last but not least have some fun burning those calories and getting stronger.