52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: Chronic Pain and Obesity

Well, I did not write a post last week. I took a nasty spill on my bike on Saturday and Sunday was spent just trying to make it through with what I think was a broken pinky, mangled knuckes, sprained wrist and jacked up shoulder.

I rode 30 miles in the Black Fork Gravel Grinder down near Loudonville, Ohio in a state park called Mohican State Park. The day was perfect and I really rode well, until the last 7 miles when I failed to negotiate a hair pin turn and took a spill. It was a fun 7 mile finish.

This week, I want to continue my thread on obesity and obesity related issues. In our last look, I looked at how physical literacy impededes one’s abilty effectively and comfortable lose weight.

In this week’s discussion, I want to go a bit further and address the impact chronic pain has on one’s life with obesity. Here are some facts:

  • 60% of women with fibromyalgia are obese
  • Morbidly obese people are 33% more likely to need a hip replacement than a non obese person
  • Greater BMI is associated with greater defective changes to knee cartilage
  • Obese persons exert greater disc compressive forces when themselves than non obese persons

Chronic pain increases as one moves up the scale. A morbidly obese person can experience up to 240% increase in chronic pain.

As we looked last week, losing weight is not as easy as we would like to think. Pain makes it hard to move, and if you are in pain, you don’t want to do something or anything. I know, for years I suffered with chronic low back pain and at one point, herniated a disc. The disc herniation took 18 months to recover from.

We have to re think our models for weight loss and the realities of weight loss. Weight loss is no longer calories/ calories out. We must consider the amount of movement the obese person is able to conduct and if there is any pain with the movement. Weight loss especially for the obese to morbidly obese person is a long game fraught with set backs and even at times, failures.

If you are looking at beginning a weight loss journey, consider these professionals to help you: a dietician, a physical therapist, a personal trainer, a mental health therapist, a psychiatrist and a doctor who specializes in weight reduction surgery. Other possible professionals would be an Endocrinologist, a doctor/speicialist in diabetes care, a plastic surgeon and openess to a number of other professionals who may be needed to deal with other complexities that may arise in your journey. Expect the journey to be a long one, but well worth it.

This week’s menu:

Meal 1: Roasted Pork with Squash and Apples https://paleoleap.com/roasted-pork-squash-apples/

Meal 2: Beef and Veggie Bowls with Comeback Sauce https://thewholecook.com/beef-veggie-bowls/

Snack: 20 Minute Oatmeal Protein Cookies https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes/oatmeal-protein-cookies-20-minutes

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: Physical Literacy

This week, I want to look at a concept I came across in a recent training, the idea of physical literacy. Physical literacy is defined as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.” – The International Physical Literacy Association, May 2014.

In this blog, I talk a lot about nutrition and this truly is only part of the puzzle. As poor diets are the trend right now, little to no movement is also observed as a trend. I get it, excercise can be hard and at times, sucks. There are plenty of times I don’t want to get out of bed at 0500 on a Saturday for a 20 mile run, but I do anyway.

As with all development, teaching physical literacy begins when you are young. Play is a child’s primary language and a parent that does not play with their child misses a key component in creating the strong bonds that will eventually develop into emotional maturity and other skills important for commuicating effiectively and efficiently. A lack of physical movement in the fist five years can be attributed to overall decreased motor skills and coordination in grade school which leads to decreased motor confidence in the tween years which then leads to further sedentary behaviors in the teen and adult years. In turn, this will evently lead to adverse health outcomes as one becomes an adult.

In what will become a series of posts based on what I am working on understanding through some continuing education I am doing, I will show that losing weight is not as simple as not eating or restricting calories and exercising. Physical literacy is one of those reasons. If you do not know how to move efficiently and effectively, moving can be not fun and even downright uncomfortable or embarrasing in the case of playing a simple game of pick up baseball or basketball.

In my training by the American Council of Exercise(ACE), they talk about the categories of skills for physical literacy:

1. Locomotor skills: running, jumping, hopping and skipping

2. Object control skills: Catching, throwing, kicking and bouncing

3. Stability skills: Balancing, twisting, rotating and landing.

The following graph are the types of fundamental skills one should attain for physical literacy.

Fundamental movement skills needed to develop physical literacy

Ellerton, H. (2020, November 25). What is physical literacy and why is it important for children today? Human Kinetics Blog. https://humankinetics.me/2018/06/27/what-is-physical-literacy/

For adults, a predictor of long term health is the abilty of one to get off of the floor from the supine position. Practicing Turkish Get Ups is an essential exercise to work on this skill. Your health is greatly related to how effectively and efficiently you can get off the floor using the minimal amount of limbs. For example, as a martial artist, I can get off the floor from the supine position just by rocking onto my feet and standing up.

Check out these two PDF’s regarding physical literacy for adults/aging

Click to access PhysicalLiteracy_AspenInstitute-FINAL.pdf

Click to access 2013-jun-physical-literacy.pdf

This week’s menu is super simple because I was busy this last weekend with a lot of endurance training. I put in 15 hours of training last week and covered my 30 miles of running for the week. I am close to 100 miles of running for the month of April, my goal for this month. Despite my best go at it on the bike, I fell short by 2 hours. No excuses, I just did not put in the work.

This week I am eating a no boil lasgne and a ham and cheese quiche. Both of which are fairly accessible online.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: The Role of Vitamins B3 and B6 in the Diet

The Vitamin B complex is comprised of 8 B vitamins:

Today, I want to look at B 3 and B 6 and their role in mental health. In a previous post, I talked about how you are what you eat and with the B vitamins, this could not be further from the truth. Both B 3 and B 6 play roles in making sex and stress hormones(B3) and brain development and nervous system health (B6).

Vitamin B3 deficiency has been linked to conditions such as depression and anxiety, but also to issues with fatigue, memory loss, apathy, headaches and disorientation. Going out and buying a bunch of Niacin is not recommended. People sensitive to Niacin will get Niacin flush, a redness and feeling of overheating that is rather uncomfortable. No flush Niacin is available, but it is advisable that you speak to a doctor and a nutritionist regarding a deficiency of Niacin in your diet and overall physical being. B3 can be found naturally in chicken breast, tuna, turkey, salmon, pork, ground beef, peanuts and vegan/vegetarian options of brown rice, avocados, whole wheat (seitan), mushrooms, green peas and potatoes. You can get fortified enriched foods, but I find this unadvisable becasue of the increase in processing and getting further away from the original food it came from.

Vitamin B6 is also linked to depression and confusion. Immune suppression is also a concern with B6 deficiency. Again, as noted above, only a doctor can tell you through a blood test if you are deficient and a nutrtionist can properly prescribe a diet with the proper balance of micronutrients for positive mental health. Sources of B6 can be found in chickpeas, beef liver(also B3), tuna, chicken breast(also B3), potatoes, bananas, tofu and nuts.

You are what you eat. In my practice, medicine is a line of defense when dealing with mental health and you are at the whim of the side effects of medicine, often leaving my clients feeling out of control and most often telling me that they don’t take medication because of side effects. Sometimes, you need medication to help things along. Most times though, a lot can be done with your diet AND physical movement. Adding a healthy diet to your self care routine along with 45 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (1-10 where 10 is hardest, exercise at a level of 5-7) 5 days a week can go a long way in promoting mental health.

There is a lot of speculation right now that that the severity of COVID -19 symptoms are dependent on one’s physical health. As a nation right now, our food system and the choices we have for healthy food are upside down. This is a trend that that has been getting worse actually for the last 100 years with the invention of processed cereals and grains. As mentioned above, fortified does not mean healthy. It does mean healthier, but the best sources are from whole foods which can be found in the outside circle of your grocery store. Some foods like beans, nuts, seeds are better and more conveniently found pre packaged, just stay away from added flavorings, salts and sugars.

This week on the menu:

Paleo Barbecue Chicken Casserole

https://www.realfoodwithjessica.com/2016/10/02/paleo-barbecue-chicken-casserole/

Sweet Potato Sausage Stuffing

https://www.tastingpage.com/cooking/paleo-stuffing-sweet-potato-sausage-grain-free-gluten-free

A fun snack I have been playing with the last week is Healthy Classic Cooking Dough for One:

https://thebigmansworld.com/healthy-classic-cookie-dough-for-one/

My training is moving along. I had a 12 hour 48 minute week last week. The highlight of the week was the shakeout hike I did with my daughter in preparation for our Appalachian Trail section hike in Maryland in May. We did 10 miles on the North Country trail in 4 hours 18 minutes. She crushed the hike and all our equipment worked like it was supposed to. We were going to camp overnight, but the overnight temps were not what I was looking to expose her to on this hike.

On Sunday, I crushed a 43 mile bike ride in the ridges and windfarms of the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area in New York. It was cold and windy with 4,613 feet of elevation. It was a hell of a ride and I definately felt the strongest yet on any climb since.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: COVID SARS 19 and Weigh Gain

The other day, I heard a disturbing statistic that suggested that at the height of our COVID-19 lockdown, some people were gaining .5lbs a week. Lightly called the COVID 19, it is indeed a real problem that some have had to deal with during this pandemic. This week, I would like to address this issue.

For many of those who work desk jobs, myself included, we have either moved to working from home or in some capacity are still working from our offices. The problem for many who may work from home, we are not moving nearly as much as we were pre pandemic. No trips to water cooler, no need to walk over to the copier, no need to get out of our pajamas really. The Boston Globe on April 9, 2021 pointed to the Gen Z and Millenials struggling the most with weight gain. Millenials were cited to have gained an average of 41 lbs while Gen Z’s gained around and average of 28lbs. “The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” poll, conducted in late February, found that 42 percent of people reported they had become heavier than they intended during the previous year. Those people gained an average of 29 pounds, with 10 percent gaining more than 50“(Boston Globe 2021). In an article from the University of Missouri, they present numbers that roughly corroborate with what the Boston Globe presented, appropriate to this discussion, the University of Missouri reached out to their social media folowers to see what their health habits looked like during COVID-19. They found that 68% were snacking more; 74% were cooking at home more;61% were ordering out less; 54% were exercising less and 54% had gained weight.

So what is going on? We are more stressed, our gyms were closed/ our routines were disrupted and we are not getting enough sleep. The University of Missouri offers this “Working a full-time job while educating your children and caring for (wrangling) other family members at home is stressful — period. You don’t need to feel bad about gaining a few extra pounds or apologize for turning to comfort foods (looking at you, pinot gris) to get by“.

In my practice as a clinician, I am often asking why and while the above seems pretty obvious, we are creature of habit and some who were really relying on their schedules to keep them holding on are falling apart. Over the last year, I have watched incidents of anxiety, depression, suicidality and anti social behaviors skyrocket in presenting sessions. What I have found in the last year that COVID 19 has been a physical health and mental health dumpster fire and we are all the worse for wear.

So what can we do?

In my practice, I always advocate for a client to see four Allied Health Professionals: Therapist, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer/Health Coach and a Doctor/Psyciatrist.

What you can do:

  • Manage stress- If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, turn to therapy. The reality that I see everyday is that noone has anyone to turn to and if the recent statistics are true, 54% don’t have the church or social organization they used to. Subjective observation has shown me that people further are not engaging in Moose, Elks, Masons or other social clubs like in years past.
  • Get sleep and going along with this, get active – losing weight is not just a will power thing, it is real physiological problem that combines genetics, stress and a sedentary lifestyle into a huge problem that messes with sleep, mental health and physical health. Staying active and getting good sleep are two major factors in promoting longevity.
  • Take medicine – It is not as bad you think. I hear it all of the time “I don’t like being on medicine, I don’t like how I feel”. The reality is that you sometimes cannot control your depression or anxiety with will power. Sometimes proper diet and exercise won’t even get you on point. With our pandemic, people are snacking more and probably are not snacking on carrots, greens and other serotonin producing foods. Many are at a point of serious deficiency. I tell my clients that medication is a tool that lengthens the fuse when you at a point of feeling hopeless helpless and worthless. Once the medication is working, you can work with your therapist on cultivating healthier coping skills and begin to work with your nutritionist and Personal trainer on healthier food and physical activity choices. To really know where you are at with your vitamin levels, working with your nutrtionist and your doctor will point you to the right blood tests to look at your hormones and many of your micronutrient levels.

You are in control of you, it is the one thing you can do in this time of uncertainty. I often tell my girls before they go off to school for the day, “Make it a good day or not, the choice is yours”. You only get one life, right now, circumstances suck. The choice is yours, in this instance, we can embrace the suck(not a good thing in this case), or we can look at what we CAN control. Some of the things you can control require a guide, so use professionals when you can. Other things are just choices, going for a walk, keeping a bottle of water within reach, setting a timer for 45 minutes when you are at your desk and getting up for 10 minutes(I have done this for years starting with my Masters program), prepacking healthy foods and snacks. This blog has been all about my food prep for the week so that I can just enjoy my life. THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

Reference:

Pandemic Weight Gain — It’s a Thing. (n.d.). https://Www.Muhealth.Org/Our-Stories/Pandemic-Weight-Gain-Its-Thing. https://www.muhealth.org/our-stories/pandemic-weight-gain-its-thing

The COVID 19 is real: Weight gain has been a problem for many during the pandemic. (2021, April 9). BostonGlobe.Com. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/04/08/nation/covid-19-is-real-weight-gain-has-been-problem-many/

This week’s menu

This week, my oven broke so my menu is a bit of mess, though I am still pulling it together. Sorry, no pics this week, I am a bit crunched for time.

  • Breakfast will be my usual eggs and toast or protein oatmeal.
  • Meal 1 will be a chicken anti pasta salad with grilled chicken and anti pasta fixings. I am using a Primal Kitchen Italian dressing that is free from seed oils.
  • Meal 2 will be some meatballs cooked in my Insta Pot.
  • Snacks will be

Cliff Bars – while these are not the best thing, my training schedule has dictated that I eat something with a bit more oomph during the day

Apple Cinnamon No Bake Energy Balls

2 Scoops of Body Tech Apple Cinnamon Cereal Protein Powder

135 g of Oatmeal

1/4 C of honey or Syrup

1 C of PB 2

1-2 servings of chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients into a bowl until well mixed (you may need some water)

Form into desired sized balls

Place in the fridge to firm up( I store them in the freezer)

Mid morning snack has been bullet proof coffee if I have time

What I am training for and my schedule:

Coming up, I have three events that I am training for:

May 1 – 30 mile Gravel Bike ride in Loudonville, Ohio

May 15 – Duathalon in Randolph, NY

June 19 – 50 k in Blue Knob, PA

Schedule(ish)

Wake up at 0500 and eat breakfast and spin for 1 -2 hours

work for 8 -10 hours

Run 5 miles on M, T and W after work

Speed work and lift on Thursday after work.

Fridays are rest(ish) days until June

Bed by 2200

Weekends are 16- 20 mile runs and 40- 60 mile bike rides until after June.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: Gut and Inflamation

This week, I want to talk about the gut’s role in inflamation.

What you eat is what you are. Food can impact systemic inflamation in the body. There are auto immune diseases that can lead chronic inflamation. Gastritis is one such condition where the lining of the stomach becomes inflamced. Gastritis is linked to a bacteria that causes ulcers in the stomach. Pain relievers and excess alcohol can contribute to gastritis.

Other inflamations are or can be normal respsonses to infection or injury. These inflamations can become chronic leading to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, increase risk of diabetes, increased risks of cancers and even mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.

C – reactive protein or CRP is a marker for inflamation in the blood. You can have your doctor test for CRP to look for a variety of medical conditions.

Another area of interest is the gut’s role in the dysfunction we see in the brain. For a while, I have been following the growing trend that links the gut to brain health, specifically with depression and anxiety. Our gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract is very sensitive to emotion. Think about those times you get “butterflies” in you belly or feel nauseous under certain situations. To keep this very lenghty topic, short, I am going to give a very thumbnail sketch of what I have learned in several 6+ hour continuing education sessions on this.

Our modern lifestyle is not kind to our bodies and especially our guts. We are exposed to a variety of environmental toxins that disrupt hormonal functions in bodies. We eat too much sugar and we are regularly over stressed all the time. Stress though is a blanket term for a variety of conditions which can be physiolgical or psychological. Many of the work I do with my clients revolves around managing these factors, managing stress, reducing exposure to toxins and eating better. Other components that can help with inflamation are meditation, which does not have to be sitting on a cushion and thinking about nothing, though it can be this; as already mentioned, cleaning up diet; excercising and according to Kelly Brogran, “strategic supplementation – natural anti- inflammatorieslike polyunsaturated fats (evening primrose oil and fish oil), curcumin(the active compoonent of turmeric), and probiotics to name a few, can help promote a synergy of benefical effects”(https://kellybroganmd.com/from-gut-to-brain-the-inflammation-connection/)

With all of my clients, I promote an integrated medicine approach to health. To get you started on your journey to optimal health, there are three allied health professionals that I recommend to all of my clients, a Psychiatrist, Nutritionist and Therapist. Beyond this, one may also need to see an Endocrinologist for auto immune issues, a weight managment specialist, a Chiropractor, a personal trainer, an OB/GYN a Physical or Occupational Therapist and a even a Neurologist to name a few to help one figure out which component of their body is not working.

This week’s menu features a south of the border theme:

Beef Barbacoa with Cauliflower tortillas and a Chorizo and Cauliflower rice skillet.

https://www.thechunkychef.com/ultimate-instant-pot-beef-barbacoa/

Chorizo and Pepper Cauliflower Rice