Nutrition vs Disease

Today I would like to discuss an important topic, the relationship between what we choose to eat and how those choices affect our overall health. There are many different diets and lifestyles out there and an equally large number of reasons behind those lifestyle decisions, our dietary choices can be made based on health, financial limitations, available time, ease, convenience…

I truly believe that each person has a different ideal diet, based on their preferences, needs, allergies and overall health. I believe that if you listen to your body – how it feels after certain foods are consumed, what your energy levels are like, how well you sleep – you can determine what works best for you. Some people will need to consume or limit consumption of various foods due to allergies and/or health concerns and I recommend discussing this with a doctor or dietitian prior to making any changes to your diet.

That being said, I think that nutrition is the single greatest factor impacting personal health today. According to the CDC the increasing cases of diabetes indicate that 1 in 3 Americans will be diagnosed at some point during their lifetime (CDC). To me that is an even more terrifying statistic because Type II diabetes is preventable. Yes, you can be predisposed, but leading a healthier and more active life can reduce the likelihood of contracting the disease regardless of genetic predisposition.

People are beginning to become aware of this important correlation and as a result there is increased scrutiny on how healthcare professionals treat illnesses and the level of nutritional education being recommended/received in these related fields. The following article was sent to me by a doctor that I work with and I thought it provided an excellent outline of the important role of nutrition in good health (What physicians don’t know about nutrition – but have every reason to learn).

A quick look at the leading causes of illness and death makes it clear that knowledge of nutrition is critical to the modern practice of medicine. Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, innumerable cancers —all are linked at least in part to poor diet. What’s more, the success of many of the treatments and interventions used to address these illnesses hinges on improving diet and nutrition.

Yes, it is easier to take a pill to alleviate a symptom than it is to change your lifestyle, eating habits and possibly your entire outlook in order to cure the underlying problem that is causing those symptoms. The question is, is it better for you in the long run?

This question is the basis for how I approach my personal health. Sure, you can pop some aspirin for a headache, but why do you have a headache to begin with? Are you dehydrated? Are you hungry? In our modern world built on convenience and instant gratification, it’s habit to reach for the most accessible and effortless cure for what ails us, not necessarily what’s best for us.

I loved Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic when I was growing up and there was a line in it that resonated with me each time that I read the book:

Sometimes they ate nothing but Snickers and Milky Ways for nearly the whole week, until their stomachs began to ache and they finally called for a salad or a glass of milk.

As children we’re more in-tune with our bodies, we don’t binge or stress eat. Yes, we’ll try to get away with eating nothing but Halloween candy if our parents will let us, but eventually we give into our body’s true needs. Have you ever tried to feed a baby when it has gotten full? They will stubbornly refuse to take another bite, no matter how hard you try. Somewhere along the line we stop listening to our bodies and we lose that connection with our body’s basic demands. What goes into our body stops being what we need, what our bodies want, and starts being based on emotion or preoccupation or comfort.

One of the most significant lessons that I’ve learned in the last few years is the art of listening to my body, and I can’t begin to convey how much that has altered my approach to eating and to food in general.

In your search for the lifestyle that gives you the most energy and makes your body run at its best, I suggest doing research on your own while you try various alterations to your eating habits. In 2009 I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance and had to learn to feed myself all over again. I had never been much of a cook, relying heavily on prepared and processed foods, and it was a bit of a shock to suddenly be faced with the task of not only teaching myself to cook, but educating myself on what I could and couldn’t, should and shouldn’t, eat. I did online research, watched documentaries and bought an embarrassing number of books on the subjects of health and cooking.

Here are some of the books that I found interesting and/or helpful (even if I did not ultimately agree with their point or conclusion), in no particular order: Clean by Alejandro Junger, Live To Eat by Joel Fuhrman, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell & Thomas M. Campbell, Thrive & Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin, Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry, The Vegan Monologues by Ben Shaberman,  Vegan Freak by Bob Torres & Jenna Torres, The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life by Melisser Elliott, Eating in the Raw by Carol Alt, Raw Inspiration by Lisa Montgomery, Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo and a countless number of additional cookbooks.

By taking my nutritional education into hand I opened up an entire new world for myself. I had never heard of green smoothies, chia seeds, sweet potato fries, socca, polenta pizzas or quinoa before, all of which are now staples that I can’t imagine life without. During my late teens and early twenties I led a low-energy life that required immense quantities of caffeine and had suffered from sinus infections, migraines, eczema and annual bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis. Over the years I’ve tried incorporating and giving up various foods, studied the results and while I am still a work in progress, I am the healthiest and most energetic that I’ve ever been.

So I challenge you, next time you reach for the easiest, simplest cure for what ails you, take a minute to think about what might be going on in your body to cause your symptoms. Next time you reach for something packaged and highly processed, take a minute to think about what you body really wants, really needs. Next time you pour that third cup of coffee just to keep your eyes open, take a minute to think about what you’re eating that’s leaving you restless at night or your body sluggish in the mornings. Think about the connection between what you eat and how it makes you feel, and how better nutrition can improve your life.

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Blogger Confessions {III}

  • The most important people in my life are all outside of my home city of San Francisco – They’re in Albuquerque, Palo Alto, San Diego, New York, Southern California, Alaska…

  • It took me a very stubborn year of running {and I’m using the word “running” loosely} before I started enjoying it. Then I signed up for a race and now I can’t remember why I ever liked it…
  • I LOVE DANCING MOVIES. It doesn’t matter what age the intended audience is, it doesn’t matter how cheesy it is, and it certainly doesn’t matter what number in the series it is. Center Stage. Own I & II. Step Up. Own all three. Save the Last Dance. Stick it. Burlesque. Bring it On. Fame. Take the Lead. Honey. I clearly have a problem… Or do I?
  • I’ve studied French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Latin over the years but most days I still have trouble with English…
  • My favorite color is green though I went through a phase where I wore nothing but black for YEARS!

Related Reading: Blogger Confessions & Blogger Confessions II

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Fitness Motivation

Personally I find an external motivator to be great incentive to keep up with an exercise regime. I wish I could say that I have all the internal motivation that I need in order to meet all of my goals, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

On days when I’m tempted to skip my workout, knowing that I’ll have to admit my lapse out loud to someone else is usually enough incentive to push through. Usually.

So here’s some Fitness Motivation so we can all stay on track to meet our goals!

I’m registered to run the San Francisco Half Marathon on July 31st and haven’t run consistently for months so I need to begin training… Now!

It just so happens that one of my best friends is training for the Death Ride (which I lovingly call The Ride of Death) a 129 mile bike race with 15,000 miles of climbing through the Sierra Nevada’s near Tahoe. Her race is July 9 and although we’re training for different types of races in different cities (she’s in Sacramento), she has been acting as an unofficial sponsor and motivator for my last-ditch training efforts.

Monday mornings I email her my proposed workouts for the week (subject to scheduling changes) and each morning I send her a confirmation of what I accomplished the previous day. I’m going to include various types of exercise in my training program in addition to running, specifically circuit training and Pilates.

Below is a draft of a proposed schedule for one of the weeks of training:

Monday:

  • Run to work (1.3 miles)
  • Mini cardio session (2 miles stationary bike & 1 mile elliptical trainer)
  • Pilates Mat class (5pm – 6pm)

Tuesday:

  • Jog to work
  • 15 minute circuit training workout
  • Run (pm)

Wednesday:

  • Walk to work
  • High intensity interval training on the elliptical
  • Pilates Mat class (5pm – 6pm)
  • Yoga Flow (6pm – 7:15pm)
  • Walk home

Thursday:

  • Walk to work
  • 25 minute circuit training workout
  • Run (pm)

Friday:

  • Jog to work
  • 15 minute circuit training workout

Saturday & Sunday – Rest & stretching (maybe a massage if I can be convincing enough) and long walks or a hike

Hooking up with a workout buddy who you can share your plans with or a like-minded friend who you may not workout with but who has similar goals, can be a great motivator.

If the idea of sharing your workout goals/plans with someone else isn’t appealing, or if you’re just getting started and want to hold off until you feel like you’ve made some progress, there are other external motivators that may help you when the odd lazy day rears its ugly head.

(1) A kick-ass play list can do wonders. Put a super charged playlist on your MP3 player or blare it over your computer/sound system. Everyone has their own style and different beats that get them pumped up, and I personally refresh my Nano weekly, but here are some artists/bands that never fail to get my heart rate going, regardless of my mood: Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Chemical Romance, Finger Eleven, Breaking Benjamin, My Darkest Days, Jason Derulo, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, K$sha, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Sean Kingston.

(2) Sign yourself up for a class on a day when you don’t think that you can make yourself do a work out. You’ll feel guilty not showing up after having reserved a spot in the class and even guiltier when you see the charge on your credit card! The two days of the week that are the hardest for me to get off my booty are always Monday and Wednesday, so I’m getting into the habit of doing at least a Pilates class at Glow Yoga  each of those days. And now that I’m getting to know the other students and the instructor, there’s even more motivation not to play hooky!

(3) If you have a movie or a book that you find extremely motivational, that can be a great way to get yourself going. If hearing Jillian’s commanding voice shoots you out of your seat, start your workouts with some Shred, even if you don’t plan to do the video it can give you the push you need. Personally I’ve found that popping in a dance DVD before my 5:30pm after-work runs or reading a few pages of Born To Run are a sure-fire way to get myself going.

(4) Finally, one of my favorite pieces to read when I need to stoke my motivational fires is The Better Man, about the (then) 75 year-old fitness guru & health nut Don Wildman (my friend Jim sent me this YEARS ago and I saved a PDF in case of emergencies). This always gives me the kick in the pants that I need to get off of the couch.

Good luck getting yourself onto the trail, treadmill or into the gym. Make me proud!

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Fashion Inspiration

Fashion isn’t just about what you wear, what goes on your body. It’s truly an expression of yourself that extends beyond your clothes.

“Fashion is everything. Art, music, furniture design, graphic design, hair, makeup, architecture, the way cars look – all those things go together to make a moment in time.”  – Tom Ford

And just as fashion isn’t limited to the cloth that we wrap ourselves in, inspiration can also be found in many forms.

I began clipping pictures from magazines as a pre-adolescent, not necessarily fashion inspiration per se, just pictures that caught my attention, things that I found eye-catching, or memorable, or mesmerizing.

As I became interested in fashion however, my clipping habits became more focused. And while I don’t confine myself to photographs of clothing and accessories, I’ve found that my love of fashion gives this activity more direction and purpose. I’ve found that even without context, pictures can serve a creative function.

They excite. They encourage. They inspire.

The beauty and artistry captured by a photographer can be moving, regardless of the medium. Advertisements, promotional materials, editorials, art, beauty, home decor…

I’ve found that by keeping these images available to myself I can stay out of a fashion rut. They provide new ideas and inspiration, get my creative juices flowing, and motivate me to grow and evolved sartorially. I highly recommend creating and maintaining a Look Book, a collection of images that make you smile, that invigorate you, that make you push your boundaries.

Whether it’s a physical book filled with clippings like mine are, or Boards on Pinterest, this is a great creative and inspirational outlet. Keeping pictures of looks that you like, styles that call to you, photos that take your breath away, can all be great tools to keep your approach to fashion fresh and interesting.

What’s YOUR favorite way to get inspired?

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Menswear: Let’s Hear it for the Boys!

In my opinion menswear styles are more classic and long-standing than their female counterpart, the cuts are more enduring and the underlying style more deeply rooted. This means putting your money into well made, classic pieces is the best way to approach your closet, since you’ll be able to wear them for years to come.

So what, do you ask, should today’s modern man have in his closet?

Suit(s):

Once you’re out of school, a good suit is a must. Interviews, weddings, funerals, work/charity events, and perhaps even the occasional date (think Valentine’s Day/Anniversary) can all call for a suit. Black, navy or charcoal are all a good choices, though I must admit that I’m a sucker for a great pinstripe suit. I’m also a fan of a classic three-piece suit, I love how they still manage to look clean and put together even with the jacket off and the sleeves rolled up.

Menswear Must Haves Mens Fashion Style Fashion Blogger Street Style

Dress Shirts:

Button-downs are extremely versatile and have a place in any well-rounded wardrobe. Pair with slacks or a suit for (semi) formal affaires, with jeans and dress shoes for Friday night cocktails or untucked over well-worn shorts with loafers (sans socks) for summertime. Like I said, versatile.

So invest! Stripes, solids, pastels, black, white, slim fit, logo, patterned, linen, cotton… Whatever suits your build, coloring, and lifestyle, it’s time to put your money where your shirt is! 🙂

T-Shirts:

Tees are somewhat of a touchy subject for me. While basic shirts can be a great staple for a man’s closet, they should not all be graphic or novelty shirts, nor should they be riddled with holes and look like they belong in a rag pile. I don’t care how many memories they hold! (Does that sound like a line I’ve used before? Cuz is it is…)

Depending on your build and lifestyle, different styles will suit you best. For his downtime my brother loves vintage-style rock shirts, and with his build – Tall & muscular but lean – They suit him perfectly. My dad favors the Robert Barakett shirts that Nordstrom carries because they’re soft with a relaxed fit and can keep up with him whether he’s walking around downtown or gardening (oh, the joys of retirement). I’m also a fan of the oh-so-easy Lacoste V-Neck Jersey Tees.

So take your significant other, sister, mom or friend shopping with you and try on some different styles. To each their own!

Menswear Must Haves Mens Fashion Style Fashion Blogger Street Style

Collared Shirt:

Polo shirts are a great middle ground between a t-shirt and a button down. They can add a bit of structure to a look while retaining an overall low-key air. Throw one over jeans with loafers or pair with shorts and flip-flips. You can even pop that collar if you’re in the mood.

Like t-shirts and button downs, these come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Once you’ve found a brand that fits you perfectly, you can order online to your heart’s desire, but you should definitely put in the in-store research before getting mouse happy.

Pants:

A complete closet should contain a few types of bottoms, namely slacks, jeans, and shorts, if applicable to your climate. At least one pair of black slacks are a requirement, however depending on how often you dress up you should consider investing in multiple pairs. Charcoal, navy and a neutral color like khaki or tan are right behind black in importance. Wool, cashmere and linen for dressing up and seersucker, cotton and linen blends for play.

When you hit the store for any pants shopping be sure to take the shoes you’ll most frequently wear with them. A good pair of slacks or jeans can be expensive, so you don’t want to buy them too long and ruin them in a matter of weeks by walking all over the hems. Also, keep in mind the tailoring is a great option, it’s fairly inexpensive and can make your pant last much longer.

Menswear Must Haves Mens Fashion Style Fashion Blogger Street Style

Extras:

I adore accessories for men, you gentlemen prefer to buy one or two great ones and leave it at that (none of the female shoe insanity!) A black and a brown belt, same for shoes, a pair of sunglasses, a wallet and a large silver, gold or leather band watch and you’re done. Easy peasy! (Obviously, this is not applicable to rappers)

The key for mens accessories is finding quality, classic pieces that can be worn season after season. Unfortunately this may require trips to multiple stores. I know – I’m sorry! Take the time though, as much as it takes, and you wont regret it.

 

{Images from Menswear Must Haves}

What are YOUR menswear must haves?

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