New Year, Better You

2017 new year, better you

I can’t believe it’s almost 2017! What are you doing to ring in the new year? We have some wonderful friends coming in to town to help us celebrate! We plan to go to a local Bar & Grill that has a great elevated patio that looks down upon downtown Denver so we can enjoy the fireworks without all the frenzy (we’re old like that, okay?).

Among the celebrations I have been thinking of my new year’s resolutions. Do you make yearly resolutions? In that past I have, but they end up being vague and not very structured. They are usually something along the lines of “lose weight” or “get organize” without any solid plan of the how to accomplish them. And you might guess how that fared for me—yeah, it didn’t.

So this year I’m taking action and getting specific with the goal and how to achieve it. Yeah, 2017, I ain’t messin’ around this time!

2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Instead of “lose weight” here are my specific health goals for the new year:

1. Reduce my body fat by 3%

I plan to achieve this by consistently working out–never having more than 4 consecutive days between a workout. 3% seemed like a reasonable amount of fat to lose in one year (hopefully it’s more but I want it to be challenging and achievable). And I feel like body fat is a good way to measure my physical achievements rather than weight since muscle weighs more than fat and can be misleading on the scale.

2. Follow the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study diet

I plan to assess my diet and make the improvements where needed to reduce my intake of processed foods and replace them with a whole food alternative. If you haven’t signed up for the study yet, want more information on it, or want a free book click this link! I will be posting how I am making these changes and what I am doing to make them sustainable for long term success.

3. Stretch daily for AT LEAST 10 minutes

stretching

Everyone can find the time to do 10 minutes of something and this goal has been something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I want to regain my flexibility and strength. I hope to get in my 10+ minutes of stretching after my workouts but on rest days I will most likely stretch right before bed–it’s a nice nighttime relaxer!

4. Run six consecutive miles

running

I haven’t ran this far in…like ever. I’ve hiked/walked this far before but never ran. Now that I have joined a gym (woot woot) I plan to run on the treadmill 2-3 times a week and up my mileage slowly. Yesterday I ran one mile at a 6MPH pace or a 10-minute mile and it was challenging. (Can I still use the “altitude” excuse after living here 1.5 years?) Each time I run I want to add on an additional 0.25-0.5 mile. That puts me on track to running 6 miles at the very latest in 20 weeks or mid-May. Challenge accepted!

My health goals are much more extensive than the rest of my goals. I am very passionate about my health and want to be an example for others on this lifestyle. Plus, if you don’t take care of yourself it is harder to achieve in other areas of life.

So the rest of my resolutions are actually very simple.

5. Minimize

Less is More

Yep, that’s it! I feel bogged down by all of the extra things and objects taking up space in my home. I am a borderline hoarder. Okay, not that extreme, but I struggle with letting things go. I make excuses for keeping things I don’t need and don’t use anymore but *might* in the future. But that future rarely comes and all of this clutter raises my stress levels. To start minimizing I have committed to getting rid of 10 things every month! I plan to take you all on the ride with me with monthly updates to keep me accountable and to show you what sort of things have been cluttering up my life that could be cluttering up yours as well.

So that’s it for my resolutions! Hopefully these inspire you to make your own new year resolutions BUT I do have a recommendation for those of you who are wanting to “eat better” but need a bit of motivation or accountability.

My Challenge to You

Every year, a non-profit organization sponsors an online event called Veganuary. It’s all about challenging people to go vegan for the month of January. They provide a free cookbook, plus a bunch of recipes directly on their website and a guide for eating out. They’ve thought of everything to help you be successful and if that’s not enough feel free to email me at healthmylifestyle@gmail.com with any questions. “Vegan do it!” (Their quote, not mine. But I love a good pun.)

And for additional convincing–> 12 Reasons Why Going Vegan Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution

Hope you all have a Happy New Year! xoxo

“Super Immunity” Book Review

Super Immunity by Dr. FuhrmanAs mentioned from my previous post about joining a women’s health study, I received a free copy of the book Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It was an excellent read and has added a new layer of evidence for me that the plant-based diet is the only diet we should have.

The book is focused on micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) which should be what we center our diet around, not macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein). You could be hitting your macronutrient goals and still be micronutrient deficient. Since the state of our health is based around those micronutrients, the nutritarian approach focuses on revving up our immune systems not just to protect against infection but also to protect against cancer, heart disease, strokes, and dementia. Dr. Furhman cites that,

“the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with an invasive cancer is 44 percent for men and 37 percent for women. However, because of the earlier median age of diagnosis for breast cancer compared with other major cancers, women have a slightly higher probability of developing cancer before the age of sixty. Currently, one in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer.”

Although these statistics are alarming, Dr. Fuhrman provides ease of mind with many recommendations on how to significantly reduce our risk of developing cancer along with reducing the risk of other diet-related diseases that commonly kill those on a Standard American Diet.

He also has a chapter regarding how to fight colds and viruses. He gives recommendations on how to prevent and combat these illnesses so that they do not affect our daily lives as often or as intensely as they may have if not for a strong immune system. He debunks many common remedies that could cause more harm than good in the mending process, such as eating chicken noodle soup. It can actually slow the recovery process by causing the body to have to work harder to digest the animal protein.

And in case you’re wondering, no–you can’t just supplement for optimal health. Many of these essential micronutrients are not easily absorbed as a supplement as they are consumed in their whole form from the plant. For optimal health, you need to be consuming it from the source. In fact, the book explains that some instances of supplementation can be more harmful than good. For example, I’m sure if you’re a woman you’ve been told to supplement with folic acid if you’re at child bearing age and could potentially become pregnant. Although folate (the natural version found in plants) is essential for preventing neural tube defects such as spina bifida that occur when the fetus’s spine and back do not close during development, folic acid is the synthetic version which can cause serious health concerns if consumed in high amounts. Since many foods are fortified with folic acid, such as refined grain products, adding a supplement poses a risk of consuming too much. This is linked with the increased occurrence of certain cancers. However, there is no risk of consuming an abundance of the natural form, folate, in your diet. In fact, increased consumption of food-derived folate is linked with a decreased risk of breast and prostate cancer. Plants for the WIN!

This is just one of the many fallacies of supplementation and micronutrients that Dr. Fuhrman explains in this book. It is an excellent read for those wanting some motivation to eat healthier in the new year. He also provides a full chapter of recipes and a 2 week meal plan. Some of the recipes that I can’t wait to try are Sweet Potato Cakes with Strawberry Sauce, Thai Longevity Stew, Bean Enchiladas, and Coconut Carrot Cream Pie (say what?!).

You can purchase a copy from Amazon or receive a free copy by signing up for the 30-day trial of the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study.

Nutritarian Women’s Health Study

The time has come to share my exciting news! As you may know, I initially transitioned to this lifestyle for my health. I really just want to live forever. Is that too much to ask for?! But with things like heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, breast cancer, and Parkinson’s disease all running in my family, my risks seem a lot higher…. Or are they? Apparently, regardless of your family history, these things can still happen to you. It all boils down to diet.

For example, an ultra marathon runner who eats whatever they want and is in great shape will still have worse arterial function than the lazy vegan. You literally can’t outrun a bad diet. See the brief vid below from NutritionFacts.org that further explains how this is possible.

But I don’t just want to be the lazy vegan, I want to be a fit, active, healthy vegan! So to motivate myself to improve me eating habits and eliminate more processed foods, I’ve decided to join a health study! It’s called the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study from Northern Arizona University. It’s a long term observational study on the health of the nutritarian diet on occurrence, recurrence, and progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and all forms of cancer. The Nutritarian diet is coined by Dr. Fuhrman and is described as being “nutrient-dense and plant-rich, and includes anti-cancer superfoods, which also facilitate weight loss.” These nutrient dense foods include whole fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. This study is open to all females over the age of 18 in the United States. This is an open-ended study so it can go on for years but you do have the ability to opt out at any time. I highly recommend checking out their welcome page and intro video. If you decide to join the health study, you will receive periodic questionnaires to answer and occasional blood tests. Don’t worry–they send you a kit that you take to a lab to be performed so you don’t have to poke yourself. You should only need to do that once every 1-2 years. Easy peasy!

If anything, you should at least sign up for the 30 day trial so you can receive a free copy of the book Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman for free. Did I mention it’s free?

And don’t fret males, although they may exclude you for the actual study, I’m pretty sure you can still sign up for the 30 day trial and receive the free book 🙂

Ok, so here’s how you get started with the 30 day trial:

  1. Go to the enrollment page and start filling out the information. If you ever need to pause while filling it out you can either leave the page open and come back to it later (I did that sometimes) or you can pause it to return later and they’ll give you a code (save that!) and email you a link to return for later. You will need to use that link and the code they gave you to return. But honestly, it didn’t take that long to fill out so you might not even have to bother with that.
  2. After you fill out the information you watch a few short videos from Dr. Fuhrman and answer some questions.
  3. Then you get to download the free book! At this point they will email you the information to download the book and you will need to use the pause feature so that you can read the book before you continue. So again, don’t lose that code!
  4. The book isn’t too long but has excellent research and information on the nutritarian diet and what is best for achieving “super immunity” to live longer and healthier lives (disease free woot woot!). The back of the book also has easy to follow meal plans and recipes–and yes there’s even desserts! The recipes sound delicious and I plan to make several of them soon like the Sweet Beet Potato Cakes with Strawberry sauce, Better Burgers, Bean Enchiladas, Thai Longevity Stew, and Coconut Carrot Cream Pie just to name a few. Listing food makes me hungry.
  5. After you’re done reading the book you return to the study with the email link and that code you saved so that you can answer a quick 15 question quiz about the book. It’s super easy.
  6. Then you answer one last questionnaire about your health history. You will need to take a couple measurements around your waist and hips and know your blood pressure. Don’t worry, places like Kroger (Dillons, King Soopers, etc.) and some Walgreens have those free machines that take your blood pressure for you. You can see my results below. Once that is all complete, you fill out the consent form and you’re in the study!
Yeah, my results are a bit high and could use some improvement! Good thing I found this heath study!

Yeah, my results are a bit high and could use some improvement! Good thing I found this heath study!

It may seem like a lot but you have 30 days to complete it all. But seriously, at least sign up so you can get the free book. It is worth the read, and perhaps may convince you to add more fruits and veggies to your diet. I’ve already started adding pomegranates to my diet (yum!) and I’ve stopped picking around the mushrooms in my meals and have accepted that eating them daily is associated with a significantly decreased risk of breast cancer. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime so I’m all for reducing my risk. C’mon ladies–none of the women in our lives should ever have to suffer through that–so let’s pass this amazing knowledge along!

So go read that book! And let me know if you decide to join the health study. We can help keep each other accountable so that we can live longer healthy lives together! xoxo

P.S. Stay tuned for a short review of that book coming soon. I really enjoyed it and think you will too!

 

Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

As promised, the recipe for Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts that I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Menu post. This has been adapted a bit from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.

I grew up HATING Brussels sprouts as I did most vegetables. I am one of the pickiest eaters you will ever come across. And yet, somehow, these babies are soooo good, even I can’t pass them up. Now, I really did want this up before Thanksgiving so you all could share this treat with your families (my bad), but they are amazing any time of the year!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
1/4 finely minced shallots
1/4 coup maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos or tamari
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions:

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Cut the stems of the Brussels sprouts and discard, then cut the sprouts in half. Cook the sprouts in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a nonstick saucepan, sauté the shallots in a small amount of water or vegetable broth for 2-3 minutes. Add the boiled sprouts and sauté for 4 more minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and cornstarch together. Pour the mixture over the Brussels sprouts and cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Garnish with nuts as desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The first step of cooking the Brussels sprouts can be done in advance. That is what we did the day before Thanksgiving to cut down on some work the day of. You can also mix the sauce together ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight but we actually ran out of time Wednesday due to the arrival of family that day. But the sprouts came out AMAZING! We made a little extra sauce for some extra flavor. The only thing I’d do differently next time is quarter the sprouts instead of halve them, especially for the bigger sprouts.

Apologies for not having a better photo of this amazing dish. It was too delicious to not dig into right away! This is an old photo that really doesn’t do it justice.

maple glazed brussels sprouts

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Stayed tuned for some exciting news I am sharing next week! xoxo