Browse Tag: stress

THE 3 STEP PROCESS TO YOUR LOWEST GROCERY BILL EVER

how to save money on healthy food

“HEALTHY EATING IS TOO EXPENSIVE”

I’ve been there.

I, too, use to believe I had to spend X amount of dollars a month on “healthy food”.

After years of research (and periods of mandatory experimentation), however, I found that this health game has much more to it than what we put in our body.

Variables such as “how much we sleep” and “our outlook on life” should be improved long before we even think about purchasing organic blueberries or the finest cut of meat money can be. And even then, there is not a clear cut answer to whether purchasing these foods is worth it.

Like you can thrive without a gym, you can eat healthy on your own terms. For the past four years, I have done so with a $80-100/mo budget. In some instances, I even managed to drop it down to $50 (or under $2 a day).

Now, I am not a couponer.  Nor am I just loading up on ramen noodles. I buy what I want to eat and here’s how you can too.

cooking 1 1024x529 The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

STEP 1: LEARN HOW TO COOK

To be honest, I could not survive on a fast food diet. It’s just too expensive. Consuming all my meals at McDonalds would, at the minimum, triple my budget.

Cereals and packaged goodies? Yep, those are out of my price range as well.

If you really are broke, you cannot afford to “eat like shit”. There is just no room for it. Instead, you must 1) figure out what foods are the cheapest in bulk (and are actually good for you) and 2) learn how to cook them so they taste good (and you actually like them).

Here’s my breakdown (in order of overall consumption):

green lentils The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

Lentils = nutrition powerhouse

  1. Green lentils*
  2. White rice*
  3. Coconut oil
  4. Coffee (plus cream and stevia)
  5. Quick oats*
  6. Broccoli*
  7. Onions, garlic, and ginger*
  8. Potatoes*
  9. Reverse osmosis water*
  10. Magnesium citrate

* less than a dollar a pound

Some notes:

+ The top 3 foods meet my requirements for protein, fiber, carbs, and fats (this is important).

+ High carbs because: I am active and have muscle. The less you do/have of these two, the less you can probably get away with this. When it comes to cheap food, it pays to be active.

+ No fruit because: I am very sensitive to citrus (which is telling me something).

+ No meat because: Unless you spend a lot $$, you are getting crap (loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and grain). Best to stay away most of the time if you cannot afford the “grass fed, free range” variety.

Kitchen Talks Eating on the Go The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

STEP #2: LEARN HOW TO EAT

Cooking is a luxury and not everyone has the time/energy for it.

Thankfully, getting health from food has just as much to do with how we eat it vs. what we eat. Reality is, you are going to run into “bad foods” and situations that are less than optimal.

Here’s some ways to get the most out of those times:

  • Option 1: Fasting (for chaos and celebrations)

So you know you are going to overindulge at tonight’s corporate dinner? Prepare your digestive system, create a caloric deficit, and fast leading up to it. Or maybe you need to resist those 3 boxes of donuts that your co-worker just bought in this morning at work? Coffee fast until lunch. Now it’s not as easy telling someone to fast who has never done it (you’ll need experience here), so I recommend you play around with it a little bit so you’re ready for when that time comes.

  • Option 2: Low carb (for traveling)

 So you’re on the road today for 8 hours? The gas stations won’t have many options. It will generally come down to processed high-carb goodies (like burritos, candies, and chips) vs. less processed low-carb ones (like cheese sticks, jerky, eggs, and nuts). This latter group should keep your blood sugar (aka mood) more balanced, which will in turn keep hunger in check.

  • Option 3: High carb (traveling again)

I initially left this off because I am not a fruit fan but if you are, traveling should be a breeze. Simply load up on bananas, apples, and oranges.

  • Option 4: Prepare in general (for the day-to-day energy swings)

So you just worked 12 hours and don’t feel like doing more work over a stove? I don’t blame ya. Rather then wait until you’re at your lowest point (and vulnerable to any kind of naughty food), however, I challenge you to prepare when you are at highest (before work or on your day off).  At this time, shop for and cook/prepare the food that you will want to  have to eat once your willpower goes out the window.

Note: If you have to eat out, my vote is for Subway. Yes, it’s “carby”, but that’s your incentive to move.

lion1 The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

STEP #3: LEARN WHAT HEALTH IS

So how do we know if this food is making us healthier or not?

Short answer: Look to your bowel movements.

If you are constipated, have diarrhea, and/or way behind on your poop schedule – these are all signs that something is not quite right. Meaning, your body is overly stressed and it’s response has left less resources available for digestion.

Now why are we stressed? It could be the food, it could be the sleep, and it could be even your thoughts. Your job is to play around with the variables to find out what is “off”. Failure here prevents the garbage (aka feces) from being taken out on time. Just like a real garbage, some bad things can happen when this occurs (like attracting pests called parasites).

Unfortunately, this is not as easy as “just eat healthy food”. If you have an allergy or sensitivity, a food that is organic, “natural”, or has an awesome nutritional profile will not make any difference.  You have to go with your gut on this one (literally).

Here’s how:

  1. Choose unprocessed foods
  2. Add one at a time (so you can see its effects)
  3. Pay attention to your poops

On this last one: If your insides are dieing, this is will you’ll see it first.

no fast food 1024x1014 The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill EverCONCLUSION

Chill.

Eating is only like 1/7 of this health game.

There is little reason to spend thousands on organic food  if we are skimping on sleep and exercise. Along the same token, we can spend considerably less if we acing other areas of the test (like I do).

In the end, be judicious with your time, money, and energy. They are all the same thing, more-or-less.

 

THE BEST SUPPLEMENT FOR GETTING BACK IN SHAPE

the best supplement for getting in shape

It’s not fish oil.

Or protein.

And probably not that caffeinated pre-workout you use that promises “gratuitous amounts of energy” (although, lets be honest, those rock).

Sure these may all help, but if you are not deficient in them then they are unlikely to make that big of wave.

The main purpose of supplementation is to first fill in holes caused by our lifestyle and genetics. These holes (or deficiencies in “building blocks”) can leave us without the means to not only perform optimally, but may leave us unable to perform entirely (aka shit just doesn’t work).

When it comes to getting fit, it is critical for our lungs and breathing to keep up with our ambitions.  If you have a “hole” here, however, exercising will be the last thing you want to do…

magnesium The Best Supplement for Getting Back In Shape

THE MAGNESIUM HOLE

For the past +6 years, I’ve had a slight magnesium deficiency.

This deficiency isn’t really debilitating and if I go about my normal day, it’s hardly noticeable (aside from worse quality poops and sleep). When I exercise, however, the devil presents itself.

What it looks like when I do anything with moderate intensity:

  • My breathing power gets cut in half (and the “wheezing” starts)
  • My recovery (aka “catching my breath”) goes from minutes to hours
  • My workout ends early (because hey, this sucks)

In short, it feels like I have asthma.

This makes sense as magnesium  is actually used to treat asthma and low levels of it are associated both with decreased lung function and accentuated allergic reactions.

Some sources indicate that 50 – 75% of us are deficient in this mineral (higher if your an athlete), but not everyone will have it to the same degree. This will depend on how “stressful” your life is.

Here is list of stressors that deplete magnesium:

  • Allergies (to pets, mold, and food)
  • Sugar and other processed foods
  • MSG
  • Coffee, Alcohol, and other drugs
  • Exercising
  • And a host of other things that trigger cortisol release

That’s just the icing on the cake. Since Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and because it is used in over 300 reactions, it is likely that a lot more other food stuffs, drugs, and  thoughts are using it up.

anxiety depletes magnesium The Best Supplement for Getting Back In Shape

HOW TO FILL IT 

So you think that “getting in shape” is supposed to suck (which it is a little bit), but maybe it’s possible that you have a magnesium deficiency as well?

2 options if you do:

  1. Eat more magnesium rich foods
  2. Supplement with it

Now, obviously it would be more beneficial if we didn’t have to rely on supplements and could just eat the food. Through my own n=1 experience, however, it doesn’t work. Some say it is because our soil is depleted, others say it’s because certain chemicals in plants (see: phytates) prevent it from absorbing, but I say it’s because our life is just too stressful.

Mine is anyways. If your in the same boat (allergies + avid exerciser), then this advice could benefit you:

But Magnesium Citrate, through capsules or powder (I prefer the latter).
Take 3 capsules or one spoonful right before bed.
Combine with Zinc Citrate for positive synergistic effects, but do not combine with Calcium (they compete).

Give yourself 2 weeks.

If you don’t see any positive effects within this time then you probably don’t have a deficiency.

If you do, however, man will it feel good…

WHY WE CRAVE SUGAR

why do we crave sugar?

Brace yourselves, the time when everyone bans sugar from their life is coming. Before you do this (and before you eventually give in and eat truckloads of it again), here is what you need about this delicious little guy.

  • Sugar is in more than just cakes and pies (see: bananas, potatoes, breads, milk and rice).
  • We crave for a reason and if we only address the symptom (and not the root cause), we’ll be right back where we started eventually.

Read on.

2 REASONS WHY WE CRAVE

1. We get bored, sad, and scared (emotion)

I think this goes without saying.

2. We are stressed

When we stressed, our body goes into “fight or flight” mode. When this happens, blood is shuttled away from our organs and instead, to our skin and muscles. This is smart move by our body as it recognizes the need for us to seriously kick some ass right now.

In the short term, we are fueled by hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. As the stress turns more chronic (and the fight doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon), our body realizes that it needs caloric sustenance.

Because we are still “fighting”, we need fuel that doesn’t need much digestion (remember: digestive organs are on lock down). Again, being one smart cookie, our body makes us crave that which can pass through our system easily (like simple sugars).

Now while we only seem to think as stress as something that happens in our heads, here is a short list that will cause us to crave sugar:

  • Lack of sleep (sugar is a easy decision for zombies)
  • Allergies and sensitivities to our environment (things like gluten and mold)
  • Bad gut bugs (humans being 99% bugs, they have more of a say than we do)
  • Intense or too much exercise (sugar, aka glycogen, is your muscle’s fuel)
  • Sugar (yes, it begets itself)

TAKEAWAY

Want to know the ironic thing? No or low carb diets are inherently stressful.

Since carbs are our preferred source of fuel, our body “takes a hit” when we go without them for too long. In the beginning, this is awesome feeling as the stimulating hormones that our body releases gives us a little “high”. With time, however, the hormones deplete themselves and we crash harder than 10 cups of coffee.

It’s for the best when we do, though. Typically, our system has taken such a big dump that we need this sugar rush to get our hormones and brain chemicals back to normal.

In closing, I am not saying you should eat tons of sugar, but you shouldn’t run away from it either. Sugar is needed and if you find that it is “needed” a little too much for you, address what is behind the scenes (and not the sugar itself).

The weed always grows back…

YOU ARE WHAT YOU POOP PT. 2

you are what you poop

Good pooping is a ride.

It’s quick and effortless with no pushing or straining necessary.

If we, however, have the time to read a magazine or even do the whole “clenched hand thing”,  than you can bet your butt there is more than going on besides an extended bathroom trip.

Confused as to why this matters? Read part 1.

You’re not? Let’s dive in.

WHY DOES GOOD POOP GO BAD?

The same concept that is behind virtually every cancer and disease is also behind why the Good Poops Life keeps avoiding many.

The concept is that of [chronic] stress.

Here’s how it looks:

  1. When we get stressed (it doesn’t matter what from), our age-old “fight or flight” mode is activated.
  2. With this, more blood is shuttled to the skin and the muscles so that we can get away quick or stab a pirate if we need to.
  3. This also means less blood to our digestive organs.
  4. Less digestion, more-or-less, equates to 1)  more time the trash sits in the dump and 2) not breaking down food as well.
  5. When our stressors never go away, neither does this poor digestion.

BAD POOPS IS A BAD LIFE

Here are some examples of what this could produce:

Auto-Intoxication – This is defined as a “disease caused by the accrual of contaminants produced inside the living organism”. This basically means less poo is coming out relative to food intake (and that feces that is left behind is actually collecting in our colon). As you can imagine, this is not good news.

Healthy Unhealthy Colon

Parasites –  It’s really easy for these little guys to find a home in our intestines when things are not broken down (ie destroyed) in the stomach as they should.

worm infestation

Bacterial Overgrowth – When the bad bugs outnumber the digestive-friendly good ones, bad poops happen. Not only that, but so does bad skin, bad tongues (take a look below), and an immune system that is not able to defend itself.

Luckily overgrowths will show themselves on your skin and in your mouth. (Or maybe that is not so lucky?)

Candida welcomes you to the White Furry Tongue.

THE SOLUTION

Now let me be clear: The problems associated with a dysfunctional butt and gut don’t end here with these 3 examples. Because our immune system is just a bunch of bugs in our gut,  every ailment – both in mind and body – is rooted here (by some degree).

So whats the one overarching piece of advice I can give you ? Stress Less.

We get into the Bad Poops predicament because our system has become overwhelmed and cannot adapt to the stressors that is coming at it. The key, then, is too back off.

To do this, we’ll want more-

+ Sleep
+ Fun, humerus activities
+ Positive people and environments
+ Light activity such as walking and yoga

And less-

– Drugs
– Tense work
– Processed foods and toxins
– Things that you are allergic to
– Frequent, never-ending workout sessions

The biggest thing we will want to improve will be our sleep (as running on fumes is the most stressful thing we can do). I’ve wrote about how to get more sleep before. Note: Personally, when I am getting 8 -10 hrs a night, it doesnt matter what I eat, it all comes out good on the back-end.

Next to that, when and how much we eat will make the greatest difference. My advice is to save the times for when we are stressed and/or active for liquid fasting (such as this concoction), and the times for when we are relaxed and chill for eating (afternoon – bedtime).

Lastly, let’s not forget percieved stress. If you are constantly beating yourself up about shoulda-coulda-wouldas, then you could be nuclear bombing your gut.

Relax and be at peace with yourself.

The Good Poops will come…

HOW TO START A YOGA PRACTICE AT HOME: THE 5 LESSONS

Yoga snuck up on me. I was a somewhat reluctant beginner 5 years ago, and it wasn’t until I started my yoga home practice that it really grabbed hold of me. I was an off and on yoga practitioner until last year, when, on a whim, I bought and read the book The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Yoga Practice  by T.D.K Desikachar.

A renowned yogi, Desikachar’s emphasis in his book is on the importance of having your own personal yoga practice. Yoga is an individual exercise, and while classes are great, it’s the time you spend on your own, listening to the needs of your body and not necessarily the instruction of a teacher in a classroom, that you really start reaping the benefits of yoga.

FIRST LESSON: IT’S A PRACTICE, NOT A POSE

One problem many people have when they begin a home practice, especially if they have not attended many classes, is what poses should I do? Start thinking outside the box of simply doing “poses” and instead, think of your personal yoga time as a holistic “practice” meant not just for your body, but for your mind, heart and soul as well.

Practice on the mat

Yoga is made up of many parts, and in a home yoga session, you can spend time on poses, of course, but also on breathing techniques (or, pranayama), imagery (during “savasana” the time typically at the end of your session when you lie flat on your back), and relaxation techniques.

Practice off the mat

Because yoga isn’t just about the physical, yoga goes beyond the mat too. It is a philosophy that can teach you how to be in harmony with yourself, your relationships, and the world around you. Many yogis study the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, an ancient text that is celebrated and whose words are practiced and are the aim of those who want to take yoga into their lives off the mat.

SECOND LESSON: IT’S YOUR PRACTICE

It’s your practice—it doesn’t belong to anyone else. Never think to yourself that you are doing things wrong. There may be a best way to do each pose, to keep from injury and to get the most benefit—you can work on each pose individually. But in the end, your practice as a whole is yours and yours alone. Perhaps if you are doing a pose that might be done in a different way that would further benefit you, the way that you are doing it now is part of your journey. Accept it as it is and keep moving forward, always aiming to learn more.

THIRD LESSON: PLAY

The greatest thing about practicing yoga at home is that you are away from all eyes, and so you will likely be less conscious of other people. Take this opportunity to experiment. If you worry that you are doing a pose “wrong,” then after your practice, look it up online and see what you can do differently to get the most benefit out of it. But be sure to thank yourself for exploring a new pose.

Playing doesn’t just mean doing new poses, though. It can also mean wiggling your legs a little when you are in a downward facing dog, or altering your breathing patterns when you go into a pose, just to see what it feels like. Never ever be afraid to play when you are practicing at home.

FOURTH LESSON: SEQUENCE

In the Heart of Yoga, Desikachar is hesitant to give any “general” or basic “routines” since he is so adamant about yoga being adapted to your body (instead of the other way around. But he does say that, if we ignore certain stipulations, we can focus “our attention to the way we can group the asanas according to the position of the body relative to the earth and to the basic movement of the spine” (p. 41, The Heart of Yoga; Desikachar). He then provides this basic grouping of asanas:

  1. Standing poses to warm up
  2. Back—exercises lying down
  3. Inverted poses (like, back bend or bridge pose)
  4. Belly—exercises lying on your belly
  5. Sitting—exercises in a seated or kneeling position
  6. Back—a rest, lying on your back (or, savasana)
  7. Breathing—breathing exercises, usually done while sitting.

FIFTH LESSON: IMAGINATION AND INTUITION

One of the things that I do when I practice at home, is, first a series of sun salutations . Then, as I move into other poses, I will generally hold each pose until another pose “appears” in my mind.

In essence, I am “seeing” myself in my mind’s eye, moving into the next pose. I generally think of this as my intuition telling me what I need to do for my body. I also believe that these “imaginings” are a response to different sensations my body is telling my mind. For instance, if my calves are particularly tight, I might “see” myself go into downward dog, and extending the heels of my feet all the way to touch the mat, stretching out those calf muscles.

MEDITATE ON THIS

Everybody is different and has different needs than the next person. When you spend the time practicing a personal yoga that will best help your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths, you will start seeing the benefits. Or, better stated in the Yoga Sutra, 1.20, “through faith, which will give sufficient energy to achieve success against all odds, direction will be maintained. The realization of the goal of Yoga is a matter of time.”

EMBRACING YOUR NERVES

I am nervous right now.

Scared as hell.

Initially, when Bethany asked me to write this post for her, I was excited. Now I am left wondering how it will be perceived.

Will people like it? Will anyone even read it? Will this boost me to the top of the blogger ranks? Will Bethany ask me to edit it a million times?

So much uncertainty; so much unknown.

I’m 6 lines into this post and already I have deleted about 20.

The inner critic is strong in this one. It keeps telling me why I cannot write this or write that, all the while filling my head with these questions of the future.

What do I do?

Should I take I pill for this nervousness? Maybe go for a jog to help relieve it? Or perhaps just email Bethany back and say my dog ate my computer?

Hmmm….