Health and Wellness

5 Foods to Make You Look and Feel Great

beet juice

When a friend first made the pitch for twice weekly beet intake, I was skeptical. My limited previous experience with beets always ended in a messy failure.

Easing into the idea, I opted for beet juice. While it’s true that this variety — like any fruit or vegetable juice — has elevated levels of naturally-occurring sugar, the health benefits more than balance data printed on the label.

Rather than focusing on one or two go-to options, however, knowing the advantages of different foods help you look and feel better than ever. Here’s a sampling of the best foods for overall wellness:

eggs-berries

1) Eggs

Despite a prior bad rap, new research has confirmed moderate egg consumption doesn’t result in elevated cholesterol levels. Rich in high-quality protein, this versatile food helps you feel fuller for longer. In addition, eggs with the yolk are a good source of Vitamin D.

2) Berries

At least one type of berry is always in season. Often described as “nature’s candy,” berries are great-tasting and packed with powerful antioxidants and nutrients. They’re also full of fiber and water, both of which help you not only feel full, but also aid in digestion. Popular varieties of berries include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and more.

protein-bowl

3) Canned Tuna

While fresh always works best, don’t let rumors keep you away from canned tuna. This food is high in protein and low in saturated fat. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids help regulate blood sugar levels. Tuna is great on its own, in a salad, or when mixed with light mayonnaise and relish as part of a sandwich.

4) Chicken Soup

It really is good for the soul! Opt for non-condensed verities (homemade is best) to regulate sodium and saturated fat. Since, “traditional” chicken soup features all food groups, it’s no wonder many people pick it as their ‘go-to’ when feeling under the weather.

bean-variety

5) Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, and Legumes

Rich in both protein and complex carbohydrates, beans are a health food powerhouse. Studies have found that even moderate bean intake aids in managing depression.

…and many more!

This is just a small sampling of the amazing health benefits that different foods provide. I highly encourage you to do further research — based on your own dietary preferences and requirements —  to find more healthy options that will contribute to elevated mood, increased physical endurance, and improved overall wellness. ■

by Raul Lisneski
Health and Wellness Editor
Residential Life Magazine 

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Health and Wellness

The Big Picture

I just finished an article that said some food manufacturers have started labeling products with how many minutes of activity it would take to burn off a serving. This is concerning on many levels.

Just as my treadmill could never give an accurate gauge of how many calories you’ve burned (it doesn’t know your weight, height, age, etc.), offering a one-size-fits-all method in this regard will only lead to disaster.

While I’m pleased that these producers are taking an interest in customers’ overall health (or at least their increased tendency to make more health-conscious purchases), this venture opens a ‘can of worms’ that would be better left on the shelf.

Not So Simple

I remember a comedy sketch from years ago, wherein the characters had found the ‘magic formula’ to a healthy lifestyle: diet and exercise. The joke was that “all you need to do” is burn more calories than you consume.

Of course, those of us who have struggled with weight control know it’s not quite that easy. However, labeling foods with random (and unscientific!) ‘measures’ will ruin for the masses both eating and exercising.

Keep It Real

Food is fuel, to be sure. However, it can also be linked to fond memories. I recall many enjoyable evenings out to dinner, or gathered ‘round “finger foods” in the kitchen, discussing the topics of the day with family and friends. This labeling proposal would put an end to all of that. Further, it would reduce exercising to a menial chore, instead of the integral part of life it should be viewed as.

Sunset walks on the beach with a loved one would then be viewed in terms of a dinner plate. Playing with children in the backyard would become nothing more than a three-ounce serving of steak.

Instead of viewing food as simply a fuel source, or viewing exercise as merely a means to an end, we should make a daily, conscious effort to live healthy, meaningful lives, where we are able to enjoy (in moderation, of course) the foods and activities we love, with the people love, and not let ourselves become slaves to some ill-conceived and haphazard ‘formula.’

by Raul Lisneski
Health & Wellness Editor
Residential Life Magazine

 

Health and Wellness

Games People Play

Shortly before I hit “rock bottom,” I was visiting restaurants and selecting fat-laden and generally unhealthy choices for nearly every meal. One place in particular knew me by name (and order!), and came to expect me at least three or four times each week.

Welcome Home

I would typically get take-out, and the wait staff were always kind enough to give multiple cutlery packs (spoons, forks, knives), even though we were both fully aware that I would be the only one eating that day.

Embarrassed at my pig-out sessions, I even took to saying ‘we’ (as in, “We’d like to have the cheesecake”), to mask my personal frustration at my lack of willpower and self-control.

While this game, admittedly, allowed me to keep at least some of my dignity from day to day, it also let me ignore the bigger problem. It wasn’t until I had ordered enough food for four people — but only one dessert — that I began to notice what was really going on.

Jig is Up

A waitress asked “only one?” I’m sure she meant no disrespect, but it was clear at that point that the the truth had to come out. One dessert for one person. And while I’m sure the other patrons didn’t even notice, I was mortified. That’s when I finally began to take steps toward a long-term healthy lifestyle.

Everyone follows their own path, and must reach their own ‘turning point.’ But the sooner we can stop fooling ourselves, or trying to play some senseless game of subterfuge, the better. That’s when the true healing and change can begin.

by Raul Lisneski
Health & Fitness
Residential Life Magazine

 

Health and Wellness

Eye Opener

Last month I did a bit of an (unplanned) experiment. It had been a long and stressful week at work, so I decided to swing by my favorite pizza place for a large pie and some cheesy garlic bread. Cheesecake for dessert? Why not?!

Now, I have prided myself in not “falling off the horse” since I finally made a commitment toward long-term health. I’m also not proud of what I did. But when you see your friends get fired — and are left to wonder if you’re next — at least some of the ‘bets’ fall off the table.

Revelation

deep-dish-pizza

Excuses aside, it wasn’t until the next day that I realized just how much junk food affects much more than weight. In fact, the pig out had made getting a full night’s sleep impossible. I woke up unrested, bloated, farty, and just in a generally foul mood.

Driving around town for my weekly errands, I also realized that I was cranky toward other drivers/shoppers. Had they all met last night, and privately decided they would do whatever possible to annoy me today? No, it was my own poor choice that led me here.

I’m not going to get on a soapbox, and I’m certainly not making a guarantee that I’ll never eat pizza again. It’s interesting, however, how much mood is affected by diet. You are, truly, what you eat.

by Raul Lisneski
Health & Fitness
Residential Life Magazine

Health and Wellness

2018 Goal: Finally Get that Monkey Off Your Back!

A friend and I were recently recounting our “fat days” — when neither of us paid much attention to what we ate, got enough (or any!) exercise, and frankly didn’t care to hear anything about health and fitness. Perhaps that makes this post ironic.

During the course of our conversation, however, my friend brought up the idea that he was similar to a drug addict… only the ‘fix’ he constantly craved was junk food. The idea is an interesting one to consider.

junk-food-junkie

Junk Food Junkie

The fact is, if I had abused drugs the way I used to abuse food, my family and friends would have staged an intervention years before I hit ‘rock bottom.’ But I had to confront myself as if I did have a drug or alcohol problem before I finally started to lose the weight and make a commitment toward long-term health.

I had to ask myself “What if I die from the effects of obesity?” That’s no joke, but a very serious reality that has affected many families around the globe. I imagined myself succumbing to a heart attack, and the unnecessary pain that would cause my loved ones… solely because I liked to overeat.

It’s Alright to Cheat

Now here’s where I have to reiterate that I’m no health nut. I already tilted the scales so far toward one extreme, I have no interest in becoming a ‘fitness preacher.’

True confessions: I’m going out with friends tonight, and have already checked out the restaurant’s menu online, and ‘pre-selected’ a flatbread pepperoni pizza. I’ll have it and enjoy it, without any guilt.

Last weekend was my best friend’s wedding. You’d better believe I had a generous slice of cake, and thoroughly enjoyed the next day’s brunch of sausage, corned beef hash, and other stuff I used to (and still do!) love.

But aside from a brief return to the foods I enjoyed in my ‘glory days,’ what both situations have in common is planning and portion control. For me, that has to also be followed up with the determination to ‘get back on the horse’ immediately.

binge-eating

Screw the Whole Thing

There were many days when I’d pig out one night and then decide to make it a weekend affair, because, hey, I’d already broken my diet, right? Then that ‘weekend fun’ would soon turn into a month-long celebration, and before you know it I was 90 pounds overweight!

I’m not looking for a medal here, and I’m not trying to get you to sign up for a marathon or fitness boot camp. I relay these thoughts solely because I have realized to learn my own ‘triggers,’ am learning to be more careful about the foods I choose and enjoy, and I know these are things you can do, too… and with only a bit of effort!

See It

During a weight loss support group session, the instructor suggested that as we lost weight, we should occasionally head to the supermarket and grab as many bags of flour equal to the weight we lost. I’ve actually seen other people do this in the store, and given them a familiar and encouraging smile.

The bottom line is that when I finally decided to become a better friend to myself (physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, and otherwise), many other things that had previously been only wishes or hopes finally began to become part of my new-found reality.

Be your own best friend. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

by Raul Lisneski
Health & Fitness
Residential Life Magazine

Health and Wellness

Bulk Shopping Saves Calories

These days, it’s rare that I visit the grocery store more than once per week. There’s the time factor, to be sure. The cost savings associated with limited grocery shopping are also real. But I’ve found that infrequent shopping trips also have a health benefit.

When I stick to my list and don’t pick up junk items, it’s easy to stay on track. Simply stated, if the junk food’s not in the house, I can’t eat it!

Yes, I could easily get back in the car and visit the plethora of corner convenience stores, but the Walmart loyalist in me won’t allow willful acceptance of massive price markups.

What About Perishables?

I’ll admit that produce doesn’t do well when it sits around for a whole week. To combat rot, I instead buy fruits and veggies at the mid-week Farmer’s Market downtown. I can support local farmers and keep my waistline in check at the same time!

Sure, there are other downsides, too. But once-weekly grocery shopping has thus far contributed to my maintaining a healthier lifestyle, by preventing temptation to give into old cravings. ■

by Raul Lisneski
Health and Wellness Editor
Residential Life Magazine

Health and Wellness

Make Every Meal Count

“I’m skipping lunch today.” It’s a phrase you hear often, particularly from those who are trying to lose weight quickly. The problem is, that method actually works counter to its intended outcome!

When you skip meals, your body goes into ‘starvation mode,’ and will actually store fat. So, while you won’t necessarily gain weight, you will likely not lose any in the long-term. You might see a one pound loss the next day, but this is not something that can be sustained over a period of several weeks.

skip-meals

Instead of skipping meals, shift your focus to the ‘total picture,’ and make food choices based on nutrition. Rather than a morning bagel, consider adding some vegetables and low-sugar fruits to your breakfast.

Your body will reward you for these smart choices, which will translate into a better mood, increased self confidence, and many other benefits.

As you continue this process (and add daily exercise), it will become easier by the day to finally reach your fitness goals. Keep up the good work!

by Raul Lisneski
Health & Wellness Editor
Residential Life Magazine