Coffee

So ya… sorry and all that for falling off the face of the planet.

Things that have happened recently:

  1. I got engaged and have been doing lots of planning and celebrating including taste tests.
  2. I bought a house which required sooooo much house hunting and ate up a huge amount of brain power and time, not to mention stress.
  3. I decided not to compete on June 14ths due to the above 2 things and proceeded to eat delicious food and gain weight instead… it’s been marvellously gluttonous though I am not looking forward to having to take the weight off. 😦

So that’s my explanation for basically exiting stage right with no word of warning. I’ve even stopped instagramming and posting on facebook! Ahhhh, I’m a terrible blogger. I’m sorry!

I literally have been in the gym about once a week. I haven’t been that infrequent in YEARS and it kills me.

But enough whining, and explaining. Here some info on coffee for you!

Some of you may have picked up on the fact that I adore coffee. And I espouse it’s beneficence to whomever will listen. I cringe when people say things like “Isn’t it bad for you?” or “You shouldn’t drink that”. I firmly believe that the benefits of coffee far outweigh the negatives for the average individual.

Most (if not all) of the negatives of coffee are either related to drinking too much of it, or related to a condition of the person drinking it. Here’s a snazzy little infographic highlighting this fact. If you’ll notice, all the Pro’s are things like lowers risk of disease… yay! And all the Con’s are things like MAY or CAN cause this issue… if you are prone to that sort of thing and/or decide to drink 10 cups of coffee a day.

What’s funny is it doesn’t even mention the obvious number one Pro. Coffee makes life so much easier, it increases brain function and has been shown to make you smarter in addition to just feeling more awake and productive.

It unfortunately also doesn’t mention some of the softer Con’s. Things like adrenal fatigue which can happen with excessive long-term coffee use to replace appropriate amounts of sleep. Or increased caffeine tolerance leading you to need more and more just to feel human throughout the day. Or the worst one in my opinion, which is the inability to self regulate and relying instead on coffee to run your daily rhythm.

Because of that, about once a year I GIVE UP COFFEE! (for 2 weeks to a month)

Oh my god right? But I love coffee?! WHY?!?!?!

Basically I go on a little coffee detox in order to reset my system, give my adrenals a break, decrease my tolerance and try to get back into a good sleep rhythm. Also, I’m not going to lie, that first cup of coffee after detoxing is magical. Full on bliss.

I’m currently on day 4 of the detox and normally would have a withdrawal headache around now, but I have been drinking black teas so have been getting a little caffeine and seem to have avoided that unpleasantness. I am however unreasonably sluggish in my thoughts and super tired. But the tiredness has resulted in fabulous sleep… so there is that.

If any of you feel that you are addicted to coffee, you are not alone. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes it’s good to give our bodies a break from things. Food for thought.

Intermittent Fasting

Yes I do <3 <3 Doctor Who.

Yes I do ❤ ❤ Doctor Who

So this post was promised quite a while ago. But then I have been suffering from a severe bout of laziness and basically haven’t been writing or doing anything much except watching the new episodes of Sherlock, Doctor Who and Merlin and basically flexing my anglophile muscles. Yes I am in fact a huge geek and very proud of it. I have proudly converted my sister and brother to Whovians. But that’s not why you are here (but do go explore BBC and become obsessed with these shows), you are here to find out more about fitness.

If you follow me on instagram you may have caught that a little while ago I did a N1 (self) experiment with intermittent fasting. I had a couple of reasons for this (1) I had been eating a lot at night and naturally was drifting away from eating as much in the morning (2) it seemed like a good cutting tool and I wanted to do a “dry run” before actual cutting season to see if it suited me.

Before I get in to how the week went, here are some resources if you are thinking about giving it a try yourself.

 IF’s impact on women

Bulletproof Coffee and how it improves hormone response (especially in women)

Mark Sisson’s take on IF

Precision Nutritions “How To” on IF

Based on the reading I had done, intermittent fasting (IF) seems to work better for men than it does for women for a few different reasons. But most of the problems seem to come from extended fasting windows. So I chose to only do 15-16 hour fasts.

There are different ways of structuring your days on IF. Ideally, I would have worked out toward the end of my fasting window and then ate the biggest meal right after that. But I work and stuff haha, so that was not really an option. Instead I tried to stop eating between 8-9 pm and then just had coffee in the morning  (more on that later) until 12ish. I would eat based on my macro and calorie goals during the 8 hour window. I worked out after work 3 of those days and in one case it was a late workout and I did not eat after… the horror!

Because I`m a huge nerd (as well as the aforementioned geek) I actually took notes on how I felt and what happened each day so I could take you through it.

Day 1

This was not too hard of a day. I had lots of distractions at work until 12 when I broke my fast with a large meal including a fair amount of carbs. I did limit my total calorie intake this day to about 1500 as I had over eaten the day before. I found that my brain was not quite as quick as it normally is, especially throughout the morning. I don’t think it got the signal to “wake up” and things were just a little harder to process than normal. After work I went to the gym and had a good workout, not my best, but I definitely didn’t feel that I had less energy or anything. I had a meal after I worked out and stopped eating around 8 PM.

Overall this was a good day and I felt good for the majority of it.

Day 2

I woke up and was not particularly hungry but was feeling very fuzzy headed. I tried to make do with a cup or 2 of coffee with some 10% cream (which should not affect your fasted state), but I was still really struggling to think straight. Again, I broke my fast around 12, a little after 12 as I was in a meeting and had a large meal with some carbs. I had about 1800 cals today, but even with the increase food my brain felt a little lethargic. My boyfriend and I planned to go to Muay Thai this evening which is from 8 – 9:30 so I decided to not eat afterwards to keep my eating window consistent. I was surprised that I did not feel particularly hungry afterwards and went to bed no problem on an empty stomach. This is NOT ideal and I would recommend trying to avoid this if you want to retain as much muscle as possible.

This day was significantly harder.

Day 3

Enjoying my Bulletproof Coffee before work

Enjoying my Bulletproof Coffee before work

In order to combat the “fuzzy brain” feeling of the past 2 days I had a bulletproof coffee (really just coconut oil and coffee and noticed an immediate improvement. I also noticed that I was even less hungry through the morning. I would HIGHLY recommend using this if you plan on trying IF. I did not work out today, but instead saw my family. I was able to eat a bigger meal as you are fitting all of your calories into a smaller time frame. So it was nice to be able to eat a sizable portion with family.

This was the easiest day so far, but as there was no workout, it was hard to tell what my energy levels would have been.

Day 4

I again had a bulletproof coffee and felt amazing all day. I had about 2000 calories as I had lost about 1.5 pounds at this point and did not want to continue losing… it is the building season after all! I did a leg workout after work and wasn’t really feeling it, but more likely from lack of sleep that a disruption in my normal eating habits. I did find today a little hard to fast until 12 and because I got home later my eating didn’t end until around 9. I still consider that a successful day.

This day was about on part with Wednesday, thought the morning was a bit harder.

Day 5

The final day of my little experiment. My boyfriend and I had to drive to Ottawa that night which made the evening a little difficult, but nothing too bad. I just made sure to pack food for the road and stop eating at 8. I also made sure not to eat anything once I got to our destination which is a bad habit of mine. The morning of this day was the easiest by far. I had another bulletproof coffee and loved it, and had lots of energy. I think my body had started to adapt at this point and expect that food was coming, just not yet.

In total I think it was a very successful experiment. I feel that with more consistency, my body would get used to that eating schedule and it would not be a mental struggle. But the first 2-3 days were quite difficult. It would definitely be a good cutting strategy as it’s a lot easier to avoid overeating with a shortened eating period. I have not decided if it’s a tool I will be using, but it’s nice to have in the arsenal.

An added perk was that I could sleep in because I didn’t have to worry about breakfast in the morning… which is very appealing to me!

Overall, it’s NOT something I would recommend to someone who just wants to lose a few pounds or shift to a healthier lifestyle. This is really something I would recommend to a person who wants increased control and is already well educated about diet and exercise and how those things affect their own body. I think you need to have an awareness of your own needs first so that you can evaluate whether this is helping you reach your goals WHILE having a happy life. No one wants to say “Oh I can’t eat right now, it’s not my eating window”.

Nutritionists

On Tuesday I had an appointment at Clear Medicine with Dr. Natasha Turner who wrote The Hormone Diet. It was pretty much what I expected, but helpful nonetheless. What I liked about her approach was that she wanted me to get my blood work done in order to see the actual levels of things like B12 and iron instead of just hypothesizing. She went through my diet and was pleased with what I was doing. It pretty much agrees with exactly what she would prescribe to someone trying to lose weight.

Some things that I discovered:

  1. I am EXTREMELY acidic – she was not at all surprised about this. I have read some about this, but haven’t really looked in to it, but apparently exercising as hard as I do and as frequently makes you very acidic even when your diet is full of alkalizing foods. In order to help fix this she has me taking lot of magnesium and trying to improve the absorption of my digestive health.
  2. I have very low stomach acid – Producing stomach acid is one of the most energy costly processes your body goes through on a daily basis. So when you are expending a tonne of energy in exercise AND dieting AND not absorbing everything you eat, your body doesn’t tend to produce enough. I am taking betaine pills to correct this and so far I’m up to 3 pills with no “acid” feeling, which you are supposed to feel with one pill.
  3. I need to increase some of the vitamins I’m already taking – she was impressed with what I was already taking but increased my dosage of St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP, omega pills and Vitamin C.
  4. I don’t get enough fiber – because I don’t eat grains, I’m really not getting very much fiber despite all the veggies and fruits. SO I’m increasing my flaxseed and chia seed consumption.

I lost 1 whole pound the first day probably from water and de-bloating from the magnesium and vit C. We’ll see if it continues.

My favourite part of the visit was that she basically told me I was exercising in exactly the way she tells her clients NOT to exercise… and then proceeded to say, “but you’re an athlete, so we will work around it”. I don’t know why, but I never consider myself an athlete, I consider myself a bodybuilder, incredibly strong, fit and active, but not an athlete and I take it as high praise. I think I will shift my thinking and start considering the efforts I make “athletic” because that’s what they are!

There is nothing to eat!!!

This is the frustrated call of every child staring into a fridge that is filed to the brim with food… or my boyfriend.

What he actually means is that he doesn’t see anything he normally makes, or that what is available is something he has already had or doesn’t want.

How often does this happen to you?

I think that this is a big part of getting stuck in a rut with what you eat. Maybe you aren’t used to making a certain type of food, or you were hoping to find something else in the fridge that isn’t there.

If you branch out though, you may find that you can combine some amazing flavours and come up with a new favourite dish.

It is so important to be able to throw some items together and make something that tastes good, is healthy and that doesn’t take a lot of time.

Some ideas for random foods that you probably have in your house/that I currently have in mine:

–          Tuna + half avocado + salt and pepper and spices = Tuna salad

–          Greek yogurt + berries + oats = Yogurt bowl

–          Random veggies + any lean meat cut in strips + spices = Stir fry

–          Nuts + raisins = Trail mix

–          Eggs + banana + almond butter = paleo pancakes

–          Protein powder + nut butter + water + freezer = sludge

–          Protein powder + frozen fruit + water = protein shake

–          Sweet potato + peameal bacon bits + cheese = twice baked potato

There are lots more, but these are what came to mind when I thought about what I currently have on hand.

So… if you ever just catch yourself staring into your full refrigerator thinking there is nothing to eat, start trying to pair up ingredients and think of how they could fit together. I became PRO at this in university with my best friend. We would have some leftover coconut, honey and chicken and think…that sounds delicious! And it was. 🙂

Hungry for Change

 I watched a documentary last night called Hungry for Change. While it was not the most well produced or cohesive work, it definitely had a few take home points. Like my mother, that is what I try to do, look for the key points and add them to my little repertoire. It’s not a long documentary, about 1.5 hours, so if you have some time it’s an interesting watch. But if not, here are some of the tidbits I found interesting:

1) As a society we are overfed, but starving on a cellular level. What this means is that we are eating too many calories with too little accompanying nutrients. We consume refined sugar and flour that has been stripped of the nutrient profile that normally accompanies these foods. Sugar normally comes from fruit… a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, and starchy carbs were usually found in vegetables and tubers, another source of food packed with nutrition.

2) We consume a lot of toxins. In order to neutralize these toxins and protect our body from them, the body stores them in fat, preventing them from getting into the organs and brain tissues. Our body will fight us losing weight if we don’t detoxify because it is trying to protect us from those toxins. If we lose weight without detoxifying (by eating good real foods), those toxins will be released into the system again and cause you to feel sick and cause many other problems. Therefore, in order to lose weight more easily, we must FIRST detoxify and heal our bodies.

3) Instead of saying “I can’t have” certain foods because I’m on a diet which causes your brain to go crazy and think you are starving yourself and makes you crave everything in sight, try ADDING good foods. Say “I will eat at least one salad of fresh veggies per day” and “I will have some organic chicken breast for dinner”. This puts you in a position of positivity. I CAN have these healthy, tasty foods. Not I CAN’t have this pizza and ice cream. If you add in enough healthy foods you will eventually crowd out the crappy stuff and voila… health!

4) Your skin is an excellent barometer of health because it is one of the last places to get nutrients. If your skin is clear, supple, even and not dry or oily, then it’s getting the right nutrients. If your skin is getting those nutrients, then you can be sure that your liver, kidneys, brain, lungs and muscles are getting fed the right stuff too. Vanity can be used as an outward sign of internal health. We evolved to find healthy people attractive, so the things that we find attractive are therefore, good signs of health.

Those were the main things I took away from this film.

Has anyone else seen it? What were your thoughts?

P.S. I know I have been less frequent with my updates. I am currently in the midst of audit busy season. This means my days are usually 8:30 am – 7 pm or later. So I have been prioritizing sleep and going to the gym. Bear with me please! I will try to update more regularly, but busy season can last a long time in my industry. Thanks for reading!