Why I Don’t Eat “Bars”

Almost every health and fitness blog or article has some mention of bars.

Some to build muscle, some to keep you going, and some just because it’s “healthy”. But unless you’re doing something really specific, I don’t think the majority of us really need it.

Personally, my body doesn’t know what to do with bars.

Is it real, is it fake? Energy, fat, protein? What the heck is it?

Usually after consuming half a bar, my body has an adverse reaction and it doesn’t make me feel very good afterwards. So I only have eat these in extreme circumstances like during a race or a long run. Honestly, they taste like sickly sweet chalky cardboard to me no matter how much chocolate, peanut butter, or whatever flavoring is added onto it. There’s no way they could taste good but then again, most people who eat them probably don’t care anyway.

Instead of bars, I have home made granola that consists of oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. I don’t add any sweeteners because it doesn’t need it. The fruit is sweet enough.

Bars are another category on the grocery aisle that I don’t need to visit.

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Keep It Simple: Water

You need it to stay alive.

You need it for hydration.

You need it for your body’s metabolic processes.

Does it need to be hot or cold? With a filter or not? What bottle do you carry it in?What brand do you get?  Does the source matter? What about flavors? What about minerals? What about fluoride?

Seriously?! Just stop.

If you’re in the United States, chances are that the water is pretty safe for you to drink…from the TAP. Yes, I am an advocate of tap water over bottled water.

Water has no calories and we should keep it that way.

Don’t add anything to it and just try to drink as much as you can to stay hydrated. If it has a funny taste, then go ahead and filter it, chill it, boil it…whatever you want.

The point is…to drink water every day.

It’s downright silly how we can take a simple task and make it infinitely more complicated when all you need is 3 things:

  1. Drinking water
  2. Cup or container
  3. A mouth

So the next time you’re feeling thirsty, the best solution can be the simplest solution which is to drink plain ol’ water!

A Love/Hate Relationship with Supplements

supplements

When it comes to vitamins and supplements, I do my best to steer clear of them.

Why?

Because I don’t like adding anything artificial into my system. I should be getting all the vitamins and nutrients I need already, right? Well, that depends on your food intake and sometimes, it just doesn’t contain all the things you need. So you’ll have to get some supplements to avoid the long term effects of those deficiencies.

So on and off, I take supplements. I hate taking it but I need them. Especially since I don’t really consume dairy or a lot of red meat. I guess it’s pretty convenient to just pop in some capsules and have your daily dose right away. But I wonder if the body really absorbs it well or just flushes it all out. If it’s the latter…what a waste!

Lately, I’ve been taking Iron and Vitamin D supplements everyday and when I forget to bring an orange, I take Vitamin C. As much as I loathe taking supplements, they’re actually doing good things for my body. Eventually, I hope to wean off of them and build a food program that truly meets my needs.

Then I can be forever free from supplements!

On Diets, Cheats, and Rewards

I love to break rules. Who doesn’t?

If someone tells you to NOT do something, aren’t you just itching to try it out?

When it comes to eating healthy, I find that most people set themselves up to fail. Because they start by saying NO to everything they love to eat and YES to everything they hate. I’m sure some people can do cold turkey really well, but not everyone and certainly not me.

Short term diets are worthless.

I don’t believe that dieting really solves your problems. It has to be a complete lifestyle change where you don’t go back to eating the way you did before. There’s no turning back once you go on this road…otherwise, it will lead you back to where you were before…square one.

I believe in taking small positive steps that eventually lead to larger steps. Things like replacing your daily cookie with an apple. Swapping ice cream for yogurt (not the frozen kind). Making better choices everyday that will lead to a better eating habits.

I don’t believe in cheats, cheat meals, or cheat days.

If you’re going to eat healthy, it will be a wobbly path. There will be temptations and sometimes, you’re gonna have that extra helping of cheesecake. Guess what? That’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up for it unless it’s the 5th extra helping of dessert you’ve had this week. Allow yourself some flexibility in your food plan and you can pretty much eat whatever you want in moderation.

Like my parents’ oft quoted Chinese proverb:

Small bites lead to more flavor, but a big appetite leads to tastelessness. 

I don’t believe in rewards either.

Why should you be rewarded for doing what you’re SUPPOSED to be doing in the first place? Sure, you can be proud of your achievements but don’t use food as a reward. Find something else to signify your achievements like a massage or a new haircut.

Don’t rely on food as an emotional crutch.

When it comes to creating good and healthy eating habits, you have to keep looking forward. Sure, you may stumble every now and then but as long as you keep your eye on the prize, you’ll be fine!

Trust me, I still eat real full fat bacon and I’m proud of it. But I also eat a lot of green leafy veggies and sometimes, I crave fruit. Yes, I’m weird but it keeps me healthy!

Embrace The Body That You Have

We as a society focus too much on self-hate and self-loathing.

Advertisers and marketers prey on our insecurities to get us to buy things.

Need to lose weight? Try some diet food program or sign up for gym membership. Want to have more confidence, why not get some plastic surgery? It’s all a trap to get you to spend more money on things you don’t need or things that don’t necessarily help you get to your ultimate goal.

You have only one body and once you accept it for all its perfections and imperfections, the better off you’ll be. You have to work in this body, sweat in this body, and love in this body. If you want to change it, then be smart about it and seriously consider your options. Don’t expect to look like Conan the Conqueror if your body type lends itself more towards Bruce Lee. Don’t think that you’ll become Keira Knightly if you’re more shaped like Beyonce.

It may have taken you a few months to get to your current unhappy state, but it may take years to get to your happy place…and that’s ok. It takes more work to be healthy and fit than it does to be the opposite. Look around, there’s fast food on every street corner and maybe one healthy restaurant per district. It’s easier to be unhealthy, but it takes real guts to become healthy.

So do yourself a favor and stop whining.

Get out there and work out!

I Don’t Believe in Cleanses

Every once in a while, I run into a friend, colleague, or stranger who mentions that they’re doing a cleanse or a juice fast. They usually say they want to clean out the body of toxins and/or lose weight.

Flush out toxins…understandable.

Lose weight…in the short term, maybe. In the long run, not so much.

It’s still only a short term solution and I don’t think it’s as beneficial as some may think. I’m no expert and this is just my own opinion, but I think cleanses are a waste of time and money…especially if you have to buy special cleanse liquid packs and such.

How will your body benefit by being on this special diet? Your body is a well-functioning machine and it is self-regulating. Unless the cleanse somehow stimulates your liver, kidneys, and bowels…there’s no increased rate of detoxing that goes beyond what your body normally does. You may lose weight, but once you begin eating regularly again, you’ll gain it all back and more.

Instead of doing cleanses, eat better. Throw in an additional fruit or vegetable into your regular diet. Eat more fiber and dark leafy greens. Pretty soon, your substitutions will become easier and phase out your “unhealthy” habits. Then you’ll actually be eating what your body needs instead of what’s fast, cheap, and convenient.

If you make it a lifestyle choice to eat better and take gradual, positive steps toward change, then you’ll be healthier.

Don’t rely on quick fixes…they will only let you down.

Where Have All The Good Fitness Blogs Gone?

I love reading blogs, it’s one of  my favorite past times aside from watching movies. I love reading a variety of topics but when it comes to fitness, exercise, and health…it’s oddly lacking.

Maybe I’m being a stick in the mud or maybe I’m old fashioned, but I just don’t like reading about people’s new fads, new diets, new products. I don’t want to read about female body builders, Ironman triathletes, and the like. I want to read about average people doing and accomplishing amazing things.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get in shape. You don’t need to buy subscription style meals to eat healthy. You don’t need a new-fangled monitor to track the steps you’ve taken, your heart rate, or even your calories.

These things are helpful, sure, but it just comes down to 3 things.

  1. Work out regularly…aka EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  2. Eat balanced and healthy meals.
  3. Take care of yourself: stay healthy, decrease stress levels, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated

There are some amazing blogs out there and maybe I just haven’t found them yet. So if you have ideas, please let me know.

But for now, here are some that I find pretty interesting: