Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Snow Day in Savannah

A snow day in Savannah, Georgia doesn't have to include snow. The threat of snow is sufficient to shut the city down, more or less. The neighborhood coffee shops opened, I noticed, but there was little activity outside of sipping hot beverages out there today. We didn't get snow, but there were plenty of icy surfaces and dang it all, I needed my gloves and earmuffs.

Savannah is not equipped for snow or ice. There's no salt, no sand, no spreaders for the roads or sidewalks or parking lots. All the utility lines are strung up on pretty poles, and are now festooned with little icicles. The plants and trees and spanish moss all look sort of anemic in their icy coats.

Since I was not about to drive to work on unsalted-sandless-ice-slick roads, I stayed home most of the day. What does a trainer do when she's forced to take a day off? Trains. I had time to workout without having to pay attention to the time! To me, that's fun. Most weekdays I squeeze workouts in before or between or after appointments and various responsibilities. Today I put the clock facedown and did the work I wanted until I wanted to be done, a fine indulgence.

Then I treated myself and my sweetums to a walk to lunch at Betty Bombers. Another indulgence. Lunchboxes from home, consumed in quiet contemplation or amidst a pile of paperwork, are the order of the workday in Janeland.

I started and finished the next book on my reading pile, The Dirt on Jane, by local author Jane Fishman. Wonderful read.

I collected quotable quotes from the runners who were enrolled in my 6 week Peak Running Challenge course, which just wrapped up this week. To a person, every one who entered their goals on the intake form at the start of the program found a roundabout way to avoid stating, "I want to run faster." Don't want to appear unrealistic or be disappointed or seem cocky. Whatever. On day one, we sat together at Custom Fit Center and said it out loud, together, "I want to run faster."

Next post I'll reveal those quotes from those hard working, faster runners. Like a snow day in Savannah without snow, we had a running program with no extra running. Confusing, but productive :-)

I really hope the rest of this Southern winter yields more moderate temperatures and less threatening conditions. This one pair of earmuffs and one pair of gloves are all I have left of the vast winter wardrobe I needed up North, and they'll have to last forever.

By the way, what did you indulge in today?

Be Well!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This is Your Brain on Food

This is not a review of any of the recently published literature regarding the effects of processed food on your brain.

I have food on my mind again, is all.

Since I quit eating dairy products a few years ago, I keep a container of unsweetened soymilk in the house. You know, for those special occasions. Lightening coffee, making omelets, mixing smoothies. Why unsweetened? I never used sweetened cow milk for any of those purposes, so why add sugar now?

Anyway, the local supermarket was out of my usual brand this Sunday. Let's refer to it as Brand A. So I grabbed Brand B of organic unsweetened soymilk. Then I read the label.

"But wait," you're saying. "It's soymilk so it's supposed to be good for you so why read the label?" I don't trust food producers anymore, although I can't point to a single event or trauma to cause my skepticism. My trust eroded over time.

Back to Brand B. The ingredients are: Organic soymilk (filtered water, whole organic soybeans), carrageenan, sea salt, natural flavor.

Brand B is using salt, some kind of flavoring agent, and a thickener derived from edible seaweed to make soymilk more... I don't know what. More of what soymilk should be? I'm looking for organic unsweetened, so OF COURSE I MIND if you salt, thicken, and flavor-enhance it... for crying out loud.

Next day, I stop in to Brighter Day natural food store to see if they have Brand A on the shelf. They do. The ingredients: Filtered water, whole organic soybeans. Three cheers for Brand A!

There is a food industry, and a flavoring industry, wrecking our (even our organic unsweetened) food.  Read the labels. Insist on accurate labeling. And choose the simple stuff.

Be Well!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


It's no fair, I know.

Sugar can really mess with you. And me. All of us. Especially during the holiday season, aka Sweetapalooza.

There was a time, a dozen decades ago or so, when sugar was only available to the wealthy.  So back then diabetes was considered a rich man's disease.

Then sugar became cheap and plentiful. And then it was analyzed in labs in the search for even cheaper and more plentiful ways of sweetening mass-produced food products.

Now everyone has diabetes.

Well, ok, I exaggerate sometimes. But really, it's absurd how much sugar and other sweetening products we consume, knowingly and not-so-knowingly. Google it, "How much sugar does the average American consume?"

The more refined a carbohydrate source is, the more of an impact it has on your insulin levels. Your body absorbs any and all carbohydrates quickly, compared with protein- or fat-based foods. The more refined or sugar-like the food, the faster it is digested and absorbed, and the more your body responds with a release of insulin.  Simplistically speaking, insulin is a hormone which helps transport energy into cellular storage. Carbohydrates break down to blood sugar and insulin helps move blood sugar into storage.

Did you see that part that said insulin is a hormone? If you repeatedly overload your system with sugar or refined carbohydrates, you also repeatedly demand an insulin response. If your system is repeatedly imbalanced by excessive insulin demand, the rest of your hormonal system becomes imbalanced as well... not to mention other systems such as immune, metabolic, and so on.

This can get ferociously complicated.

Here's how you feel when you've had too much sugar:  Pumped, then lethargic; sleeping fitfully; experiencing skin erruptions or joint discomfort; having mood swings; and, having digestive distress.

Sounds hormonal, doesn't it?

Is insulin response the only reason to steer clear of excess sugar and carbohydrate consumption? No, but it is a darn good one.

Quoting Dr. Mark Hyman, "Now that science has proven that processed food—and especially sugar—is addictive, the conversation has changed. When your brain is hooked on drugs, it is a fiction that willpower and personal responsibility alone will solve the problem."

So is your brain and body hooked on sugar? Let's get you some help with that. You can start with The A.L.I.V.E. protocol... those of you who have the binder, dive back in! Those of you who don't can ask me about embarking on the protocol, 8 weeks of change. Or we can have a "Pantry Raid!" Kick the overprocessed foods in your house to the curb, and replace them with healthier choices. Then, learn to prepare simple, healthy food to nourish, satisfy, and heal you.

Small steps, small changes, accumulating benefits daily, adding up to a better you. Sounds sweet, yes?

Happy New Year, and Be Well!