Wellness is in How You Feel
Guide to Wellness,Nutrition and a Healthy Lifestyle
Written by Melody Saari in 2010.Revised in 2017.
I wrote this article in 2010 when I was highly involved with the health and fitness industry. I was a Thai Boxing instructor, competitor and manager of Toronto Kickboxing & Muay Thai Academy (TKMT) from 2007-2011. TKMT was one of the greatest gyms I belonged to, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for one of the best workouts they will get in Toronto! Since then, I have adopted a gluten free lifestyle, and have opened up a gluten free bakery cafe that offers healthier treats and foods. My beliefs on health and fitness in this original article are still ones that I firmly believe in, and follow to this day. I have since revised it to include a few small sections on eating gluten free, and dairy free to reflect my current lifestyle and opinions. I believe that adopting an active lifestyle that incorporates cardio and weight training is important in creating a balance in life. I also believe that if you get away from processed foods from the grocery store, cook all your meals at home, and eliminate all the “extra” sugar in your diet, you can afford to eat a ‘treat’ once in a while, and still maintain a healthy body weight. My gluten free cafe in Toronto “Almond Butterfly Bakeshop” has treats and food for everyone. We have paleo muffins, healthy vegan raw coconut bites, and wholesome vegan breakfast cookies, which are great items that can be incorporated into a daily healthy diet.
Fewer Calories In (diet) + More Calories Out (Aerobic & Anaerobic Exercise) = FAT LOSS
NUTRITION THAT ENERGIZES AND HEALS THE BODY
People have the misconception that they need to eliminate certain foods out of their diet to lose weight. However, instead of eliminating groups of food, let’s start by eliminating toxic ingredients that are put into our foods. The common problem is that a lot of food today is processed, which clearly isn’t ideal for someone who wishes to lead a healthy lifestyle. The reason why processed food is so harmful to our bodies is because it is filled with a number of unnatural and harmful ingredients. Not only are chemicals added to this food, but also throw in unnatural food colorings, preservatives, additives, chemical induced flavor enhancers, gases, and the list goes on and on. So it is not the cookie, juice or bacon that is bad for us, it is all the chemicals added to it during processing that wreak havoc into our bodies. Without going into too much detail on what these things do, we can say that over the long run they contribute to many health problems later in life, such as contributing to a sluggish immune system and metabolism, digestive disorders, depression, weight gain and stress. So in a nutshell, we are what we eat.
So what can we do about this?
Well, the answer is very simple…sort of. What we need to do is start replacing everything that is in our regular diet with the same items that are all natural and organic. This comes at a cost, both in terms of money and time. Eating organic, whole, natural and local food means that most of us will probably have to travel a little further to an organic grocery store, have to find a local all organic butcher shop for our meats, and we will also have to start making a lot of our own meals and snacks.
Here’s an example:
When we buy regular salad dressing from a non-organic grocery store, we will find that it has about 20-30 ingredients in it (most of it is unnatural), and even the natural ingredients have been processed and/or altered in some way. This is usually done to extend shelf life and to artificially enhance flavor. The end result is a dressing that is undoubtedly putting harmful items into our bodies that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
However, we can make our own salad dressing with nutrient and antioxidant dense ingredients that are not only better for our bodies, but also help it function more optimally. A great and non-diet like dressing that I love personally is olive oil, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, all of which is natural and contains ingredients that bring many needed nutrients to the body.
Many people find it difficult to switch 100% of what they eat to organic since 99% of all restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, and corner stores carry non-organic and highly processed foods, but a good start is to buy food items at the regular grocery store that are in their natural form and that have no ‘extra’ ingredients added to them like preservatives, additives, food colorings, artificial flavors, sweeteners etc. Once we’ve developed the habit of preparing our own sauces and making meals from scratch, we can now look at finding an organic store to eventually replace all or some of our food items.
Once we start looking at what is actually in the food that we buy, we will be shocked at how unnatural and harmful it really is.
Processed food is similar to smoking: we won’t get wrinkles, smoker’s cough or lung cancer right away, but years of putting those toxins into our bodies will eventually catch up to us.
HARMFUL INGREDIENTS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED IN OUR DIET
High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Glucose Fructose, anything labelled GMO.
These are synthetic sweeteners that are extremely sweet and do not spike our insulin levels. Spiking insulin is important because once our insulin is elevated, it automatically tells our brain that we’ve had enough sugar. Example: How many people can drink a two-liter bottle of orange juice, compared to a two-liter bottle of pop? Therefore, these synthetic sweeteners make it so that we drink or ingest more of them without being completely satiated. This potentially results in consuming an astounding number of added calories, which gets stored as fat.
Hydrogenated, and Partially Hydrogenated Oil
Soy Lecithin is the sludge by-product of soy when it is processed. It is commonly used as an emulsifier.
Preservative and Additives
Ingredients will usually not list preservatives, so this can get tricky, but if a word or description that do not sound like food, i.e. BTH 32, sodium 54A, etc., than we can safely assume that it can’t be good for us.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer used frequently in Chinese food, some pizza places as well as soups in grocery stores. Many people have sensitivities to this artificial substance and have reported puffy eyes, flushed face, and a feeling of grogginess the next day after ingesting it. MSG has also been shown to affect neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
Despite efforts to claim their safety, artificial sweeteners are still being told are harmful to our health by natural health professionals and scientists. Basically, what we are doing is taking the natural form of a substance, putting it through a number of chemical processes, changing the basic composition of the item and then finally ingesting into our bodies. Although it may save on calories, it will not save on satiation, thus we will likely want to eat more, and again we will be introducing a foreign substance into our bodies. It is true that we should limit the amounts of sugar we intake during the day, but rather than using sweeteners, we can rid the body of the ‘extra’ sugar by preparing our own food at home with natural ingredients. Many salad dressings, bread, pastries, pastas, fruit beverages, coffee sweeteners, cereals, yogurts, and many more items have sugar in them that is highly unneeded. In fact, it is hard to find a loaf of bread at a grocery store that does not have glucose-fructose in it! We can easily afford a teaspoon of sugar in our coffee with no guilt if we simply rid ourselves of the other sugar from our diets!
A wonderful ‘natural’ sweetener that comes highly recommended is called Stevia. It is extremely sweet, has zero calories, and mixes well with a number of food items. In fact, it goes great with dairy.
WHERE I SHOP IN TORONTO FOR ORGANIC, GLUTEN-FREE, NATURAL, LOCAL AND WHOLE FOODS
Almond Butterfly Bakeshop Insta: @almondbutterflybakeshop
-Gluten free bakeshop offering healthier baked goods, dairy-free, vegan, and paleo options, all made with real ingredients, and organic when possible.
The Big Carrot
-Organic Grocery Store
The Healthy Butcher
-Local & Organic Butcher shop
-Local & Organic Butcher shop
Whole foods Market
-Organic Grocery Store
St. Lawrence Market
-Local foods market
NOTE: The Saturday ‘north’ market has fresh food from local farmers every morning. Get there early from 6am-2pm!
Noah’s Natural Foods
-Small organic grocery store
-Gluten free and raw food store
-Gluten free & mostly Paleo kitchen
GREAT RESOURCE ON NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS:
Dr. Joseph Mercola
Joseph Mercola, D.O.
Dr. Mercola, the New York Times best-selling author, has helped countless people to reach their health and weight loss goals. An osteopathic physician, board certified in family medicine, Dr. Mercola is passionate about empowering people to take control of their health using solely natural means.
Dr. Mercola’s natural health Web site, www.Mercola.com, has been the most visited natural health site on the Internet, with over 12 million page views every month. More than 1 million people subscribe to Dr. Mercola’s free e-mail newsletter, which has been in circulation since 1998.
Both national and local media have featured Dr. Mercola’s health and nutrition advice, including ABC News with Peter Jennings, The Today Show, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox News.
After graduating from both the University of Illinois and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Mercola served as the chairman of the department of family medicine at St. Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates, IL. In 1985, he founded The Optimal Wellness Center in Schaumburg, IL, which quickly became well-known for its whole-body approach to medicine.
Dr. Mercola’s best-selling books have taken the country by storm, offering simple and natural solutions to the chronic ills facing so many people. Most of all, Dr. Mercola’s philosophy centers on using food, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle approaches to tap into your body’s inherent ability to heal.
Through his decades of experience, he has been able to successfully help people recover from chronic illnesses — typically without using drugs or surgery. Today, Dr. Mercola continues to share his health knowledge with the world through his Web site and his all-new clinic, The Natural Health Center. Ultimately, he hopes to transform the disease-centered conventional medical paradigm in the United States, into one of healing, transformation, and personal empowerment.
On a personal level, Dr. Mercola has been an active runner since 1968, and completed the Chicago Marathon in just over three hours. He has also been a computer hobbyist since 1985, with an interest in the Internet that dates back to the early 1990s. It is now through this venue that Dr. Mercola is able to speak to the world, exposing the many problems with modern health care, and conferring with the top experts in the world on how to fix them.
At the most basic level, whether you are a patient at The Natural Health Center, or a member of the Mercola.com community, Dr. Mercola wants you to know how to become healthy, and he has dedicated his life to making that happen.
EXAMPLE OF A BALANCED DIET FOR A DAY
NOTE: Try to eat as natural, organic, and local as possible.
Morning: Vegan Protein Smoothie: ½ cup frozen mixed berries, ½-1 cup almond or coconut milk, 1 scoop vegan protein powder, ½ banana, 1 tbsp chia seeds.
Snack:1 medium apple with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
Lunch: Medium sized bowl of homemade Chili with a small mixed green salad. Olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar as a dressing.
Snack: 1 cup of raw broccoli, carrot sticks, green and red peppers with hummus.
Dinner:Wild Atlantic Salmon fillet pan fried with himayalan salt and pepper with olive oil, steamed basmati rice with rosemary, and grilled asparagus.
ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS
Now that we’ve essentially ‘fixed’ what we are eating, we can start modifying our diets in order to achieve weight loss and our “ideal body.”
However, what is most important is to realize that diet and nutrition, although extremely important to weight loss, represents only 50% of achieving our ideal body, because although we can lose weight by diet alone, we need an exercise program that will help tone, strengthen and re-shape our bodies.
Thus, the best way to achieve our ideal body, and to look and feel amazing is to give equal attention to both diet and exercise.
DIET DOs & DON’Ts FOR ACHIEVING OUR IDEAL BODY WEIGHT, SHAPE, AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.
DO eat organic, natural, whole, and local foods as these will help repair our bodies after hard workouts, and is better for our overall internal health and digestive system.
DON’T eat processed foods that are packed with sugar, fat, harmful chemicals and preservatives that will only slow down our metabolism and cause us to store fat. Processed foods make people feel sluggish, constipated, and nullify the benefits gained from our hard workouts.
DO Eat whole gluten free and dairy free foods, if you are intolerant to these foods, or in general if you just feel better if you eliminate them from your diet.
DON’T only eat gluten free “junk food”, and think that it is a healthy way to eat. Check your ingredient labels and make sure that even if it is gluten free, it is still made with real and whole ingredients, and not packed with chemicals, additives, colors, and preservatives.
DO eat small to moderate sized meals and snacks throughout the day. It is better to eat a small portion of food that has slightly more calories than to have a large meal that is deemed ‘low fat’. When it comes to weight gain, it is the total number of calories that we take in that are more than what we burn in exercise and daily activities that will cause weight gain, regardless of whether those calories come from fat, sugar, or protein. So smaller sized meals will usually always have fewer calories and allows the body to burn it off more efficiently. Watch out for cream soups, cream sauces and other deceivingly diet crashing foods.
DON’T eat much more than 500 calories at any meal or snack. Once the body’s glycogen stores are filled up from a meal of approximately 500 calories, as any additional calories may will be converted into fat because the immediate need for food is filled and the body suddenly needs to find a way to store these extra calories. Individuals vary on how they store fat, so see what works for you.
DO drink lots of water. It helps to keep the body well hydrated during workouts, which equates to less muscle pain, headaches, and will help to clear out toxins from the body.
DON’T drink diet soda. Diet sodas contain the controversial sweetener ‘aspartame’ and have been linked to migraines and weight gain in humans, and brain cancer in mice.
DO keep track of your weight once a week or every two weeks if you want to lose weight. This will help keep you motivated and to stay on target with your weight loss goals.
DON’T weigh yourself everyday. Body weight can easily fluctuate 3-5 pounds a day based on water loss, and full bowels.
DO use your clothes as a measure of your fitness. Even if the scale is not budging, you can be sure that you are losing fat and gaining muscle if your pants fit better around the waist and if your clothes are looser.
DON’T eat less than 1300 calories a day for women, or 1600 for men. These numbers are for extreme weight loss and should only be undertaken for specific weight loss goals and should be discussed with your personal trainer or nutritionist that is trained in the area of diet and nutrition. Eating 1800-2000 calories a day for women, and 2200-2500 for men is the average.
DO cross train to avoid boredom with your regular workout routine. For those that do Muay Thai Kickboxing 3-5 days a week, adding in two days of weight training and a yoga class will give you a nice balance between strength training, cardio and flexibility. For long term weight loss and fitness goals, cross training is essential because individuals who become bored with their current fitness routine are likely to quit all together, rather than just changing it up once in a while.
DON’T get down on yourself if you temporarily fall off of your regular nutrition plan of healthy and clean eating. Simply re-stock your house with good food and start eating clean the next day. It is especially important around the holiday season to not let one overindulging meal turn into a month of bad eating. Allow yourself to indulge sometimes, but get back on track ASAP!
DO eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates. Protein helps to keep you felling full, and is essential for your body to repair itself. Carbohydrates, although essential for our daily energy, are often eaten in portions that are far too large. Carbohydrates like bread, muffins, pastries, and other carb-rich junk food will also make people feel bloated, which has often been linked to overeating.
DON’T get discouraged if you are not seeing immediate results from your new workout routine and diet plan. Continue working hard and eating properly and you should see results in 2-4 weeks, and if not, then consult your trainer or nutritionist for insight on possible reasons as to why your weight is not moving. Just remember the basic weight loss formula: burn more calories than you consume, EACH DAY. Keep doing that consistently and the body will then be forced to burn the fat stores.
DO get eight hours of sleep a night. People have been found to eat more sugar-rich foods when they are tired as it gives them a quick boost, and are less likely to workout when sleep deprived and fatigued.
DON’T look for the easy way out by buying into empty-promise diet pills, magic potions and other gimmicks. If you read the fine labels, they will tell you that results are best achieved when working out five days a week and following a strict diet plan.
DO have fun with your workouts! Bring a friend along, try something new, always learn, and never let it get stressful! Individuals who thoroughly enjoy their new workout routines are more likely to stick with them long run, as opposed to people doing it as a chore.