How Hard Will You Work?

Recently I heard a report on NPR that since illegal immigrants are having a harder time getting into and staying in our Country, American farmers are having a harder time getting their crops harvested. Now while I whole-heartedly agree that you’re welcome to come to America seeking a better life, you must do so through proper channels (just like in any other Country), the problem with turning away (or sending back) so many of these hard working individuals is that American citizens are not willing to pick up the slack.

2016-07-14-hiring-08715-900px-crop

For whatever reason, a majority of American’s have decided that hard manual labor is beneath them and not worth the money it pays. One Washington farmer stated that every time he’s hired an American to work on his vegetable farm, they quit within a few days finding the work too hard. One such worker even stated that he’d rather work 8-hours at McDonald’s for minimum wage, than 12-hours on the farm for $3-5 more than minimum wage!

maxresdefault-2

Meanwhile his foreman of 20 years (originally an illegal immigrant who now has a green card), is very happy to have the consistent work and has been able to bring the rest of his family from Mexico, buy a house, pay taxes (unlike our President Elect), and his grandchildren are all going to college. That’s the American dream, right?

MigrantBlog2.jpg

Many small farms have even had to close down (leaving those American families without income) because they can’t use illegal migrant workers any more but few American-born workers will fill the gap. Even the large, federally subsidized farms are having trouble getting their fast-growing crops (thanks to GMO seeds) harvested in time because they can’t hire enough “legal” workers.

jobs-americans-wont-do

I have to ask, what’s wrong with working in the field people? I know it’s “back-breaking work” in a lot of ways, but fresh air, and lots of calorie burn (active farmers are rarely over-fat) is not too shabby an option if you need consistent work – compared to working in a fast-food joint at least in my opinion. It’s not just farming and gardening that we shy away from. Even unionized jobs like car manufacturing assembly (where machines do 70% more of the heavy lifting labor than 100 years ago) cater to our need to have “down time” and comfortable environments and food breaks, yada yada yada. While Unions are important to keep us from being abused by employers, we still need to embrace HARD WORK.

ar-150739962

My husband used to run a day spa, and he had an abundance of white educated applicants for front desk jobs and massage therapists. But the drudgery work – the cleaning of rooms and maintaining of equipment – was filled 95% by Latin American immigrants (Guatemala, Honduras, etc.) Granted, a lot of it has to do with language skills and education – but there still seems to be a disconnect between jobs available in our country, and jobs that we’re willing to take. Yet we complain about those who will do that drudgery. Can’t have it both ways.

120702072324-garcia-illegal-immigrant-story-top

So I think we need to take a hard look at what we’re teaching the current and future generations about hard work and how to earn a living when life throws you a curve ball. I’m teaching my daughter to always have a back up plan to your career goals, and always be willing to work hard for whatever it is she wants.

working-hands

With 2016 winding down, and a radical new presidency upon us, now more than ever we need to band together as Americans and be willing to work ALL the jobs our Nation needs to stay “great.” From farms, to mechanical labor, restaurants to offices, no job is too small if it gets you (and America) from point A to point B.

is-not-luck-its-hard-work-horz-640x450

The Things We Say

With society being so focused on enforcing “politically correct” language these days, I’m constantly surprised at how many standard statements are not deemed rude or demeaning. For instance, I saw a woman at my daughter’s school yesterday carrying a 4-week old baby. The woman was slender and in workout clothes. She was surrounded by other women all saying how incredible she looks after only 4 weeks! (Believe me when I say not all of them had sincere tones to their “compliments.”)

hqdefault-1

The issue I have with this example is that it is implying that women after childbirth (and pregnant women as well) do not look good. Stretched out bodies or extra fat is viewed as “unattractive” and although the majority of women take 6 months or longer to get their bodies back to pre-birth shape (if at all), the idea that a woman who doesn’t look like she just had a baby after only 4 weeks is incredible (i.e., special and/or coveted) bothers me.

img_21431849535-main_image

Where does that leave the rest of the women, and how they feel about their bodies? This rides tandem to my pet peeve of people asking naturally thin women if they ever eat. You would never walk up to an over-fat woman and ask her if she ever eats less or diets, but you can walk up to a skinny woman and tell her she needs to eat more! We’re constantly judging each other’s bodies.

buttout-jealous21-fashionopolis-amena1

I’m also surprised by how many women will comment about a woman who clearly has spent a lot of money on her clothes, hair and purse (i.e., appears to have large amounts of discretionary money) as if it’s a put down. Yet we don’t know her story, and the irony is that America loves the idea of working just enough to make lots of money and then spending it as a blatant indication that you HAVE it. But these same women get their panties in a bunch if a clutch of “wealthy” woman looked down on a woman wearing sweat pants and carrying a purse from Target.

jayne

The bottom line is that there’s just too much judgment and negativity going around where women are concerned — towards women and BY women. Despite the fact that we almost had a woman as President of this great Nation, women still only hold 4.6% of CEO Positions in S&P Fortune 500 companies (23 out of 500 to be exact). We (women) are still holding each other back with our pettiness and constant need to compare, judge, and find ways to feel superior (or make others feel inferior).

frowning-asian-woman-in-business-suit-with-two-asian-men-behind-her-looking-at-papers

So take a hard look at how, where and why you judge other women and decide for yourself if you can improve your perceptions, and think about what the affects of what you say. Just like last month’s historical election, it takes all of us, one-at-a-time, to make a change!

women_support

Turkey Day Trepidation

A few years ago I posted the following article, and clearly it bears repeating as we all venture off tomorrow to indulge in high-caloric feasts and/or family festivities. I’ve updated it a bit so read and remember, it’s going to be ok!

thanksgiving-feature_080115

Does Thanksgiving give you anxiety?  I am amazed at how many of my clients have anxiety over the Thanksgiving holiday. They worry about what to cook, how to cook, when to cook, what to eat, what NOT to eat, and the biggie: how much weight they’ll gain.

Okay, people, listen very closely to what I’m about to say….

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!

The reality is that unless you gorge yourself on crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats for 48 hours non-stop, you’re not going to do that much damage in one day/meal. Now I know some of you look at the Thanksgiving feast as just that … crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats. But I know that in reality most of the meal is not that bad for you if approached simply and with moderation.

1-16957-getty-images-70000212

By moderation, I mean utilizing one (or both) of the following two approaches:  healthy substitutions and/oror smaller portions/quantities.  Here’s a simple list of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1200 calorie meal and an 600 calorie meal:

TURKEY:  eat the white meat. Packed with protein, very lean. If you love the dark meat, just mix a small quantity in with the white meat.

slow-cooker-herb-crusted-turkey-breast1

MASHED POTATOES:  substitute mashed sweet potatoes or yams. Use olive oil and non-fat milk instead of butter and cream. If your starch tradition also includes yams covered with marshmallows – keep the portion ridiculously small.

0d68dd0d-849d-4bb4-8c8b-e9848b99d2c1

maple-mashed-sweet-potatoes

STUFFING:  hard to make substitutions here (using gluten-free bread is one option), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small. I make stuffin’ muffins filled with lean apple chicken sausage, veggies, and apples which allows for less bread and better portion control in general.

20150923-thanksgiving-spread-vicky-wasik-003-thumb-1500x1125-427107

Stuffin Muffins

GRAVY:  another one that’s hard to substitute in a way that’s healthy and tasty, but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright.

how-to-make-gravy-horiz-a-1600

VEGGIES:  skip the green bean with mushroom soup and Velveeta casserole, and just oven-roast your veggies with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper.  You can then fill up your plate guilt free with these vitamin and fiber rich vegetables.

65602001_h34511596_wide-858199678c09a52222eb3f06c947a7c6e636a3bf-s900-c85

9081veggies800

PIE: what can I tell you, desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) with crumbles of gluten-free granola on top (therefore no crust) but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small including the whipped cream or ice cream toppings (or better yet, skip the toppings).

0b28f90b-8398-4b33-870d-f5d6ea5b7e5a

crumble2-827a72

ALCOHOL:  Being that I am NOT a tea-totaller, wine is definitely a part of my thanksgiving feast. But I keep it to Red (which has less sugar content) and in general is healthier for you – if kept to moderation of course.

20141106-thanksgiving-wine-for-maggie-3

In conclusion, don’t sweat Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely holiday where friends and family gather to eat, drink, catch up and hopefully share a few laughs. Keep your nutrition in check but don’t micro manage it, and on Friday, work out instead of or before shopping (although walking the mall is good for burning a few calories as well).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

How Far Ahead Are You?

Whether you’re a “plan-ahead planner” like me, or an “addictive over-achiever,” or even a “procrastinator-extraordinaire,” we all suffer from walking ahead of ourselves on a fairly regular basis.

walking-away1

What that means is that at some point during our days/weeks, we spend a quantity of time thinking about situations or conversations that are looming on our horizon. Some of us do this almost constantly, while others dabble – but no matter how much or little, any time spent thinking about (playing it out in our heads) an upcoming situation or conversation we expect to have is time spent not paying attention to the NOW.

3c6ac13

While I might justify the benefits of thorough planning ahead for everything from the next day to a trip months away, others can equally justify their choices to play it by ear and “wing it.” There’s pros and cons to both styles. But even if you “wing it” I guarantee there are numerous times you think about how you want a conversation or event to happen. This sets up expectations that, if not achieved, can cause disappointment, anxiety, or the dreaded “confrontations” that so many claim to hate.

expect

I’ve talked before in my blog about confrontations and how they do not have to be seen as a negative (Confrontation Or Communication), so that aside, my issue today is that moving further down your path – in your head – sets up a false future that often doesn’t match up to reality. Experiencing repeated situations or conversations that don’t live up to your imagined outcomes can cause self-doubt in your choices. The irony here is that we’ve imagined how things will go – forgetting that the imagination is supposed to be creative and not realistic!

aa7b45e8d0633714095ae259fe73f9c1

So how do you stay in the present – stay focused on the path directly in front you in the now? That’s a question that millions tackle on a daily basis. What I do know is that for me, when I catch myself playing things out ahead of time – I stop and focus on what I’m doing NOW and do my best to keep my attention there, and only considering what needs to be done as the very next step.

reality

One of the tricks I learned during my Dramatic Arts training is to NOT try to ignore the pink elephant in the room. The more you try to ignore it, the larger it grows. Instead, we learned to turn our focus to something in front of our face that we create right on the spot. I would imagine a purple giraffe and delve into the details of that giraffe, which would cause me to completely forget about the pink elephant.

elephanti_drew_a_giraffe_by_kainaa-d5gammt

While it takes practice, this trick works great when applied to the topic of this blog.  Just today at the gym I found myself focusing on a conversation I want to have with a friend. I was rehashing all my bulleted points, filling in their imagined responses. I shortly realized I wasn’t paying attention to my workout. I shifted my focus to analyze my form and the tempo of my movements and in short order I was thoroughly engrossed with the exercise at hand and enjoyed my workout all the more.

stay_focused_workout_2x

Try it for yourself and let me know the results.  I guarantee the next time you find yourself traveling down the road in your head, just pull over and think about something relevant to right now – delve into the details of that and you’ll quickly shift your focus away from that false future that you were creating.

Flat or Round

As a business owner, I utilize many of the top social networking sites to promote Dane Life Fitness. Sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr utilize a visual format to entice viewers to stop and read, and then perhaps “buy” whatever it is we’re selling.  Lately I have been dismayed as I see a huge surge in posts displaying women whose abs are so muscle bound that they sport more than the proverbial 6-pack – they have an 8-pack and oblique striations (see photo below).

12853045_f520

These are not muscle-bound she-men training for a body building competition, these are young (20-30’s) athletic women who have achieved the type of abs usually viewed only on super low-fat and fit men.  Clearly it’s great that women have figured out how to finally lower their body fat levels to such a state that their flat tummies rival men – OR IS IT?

woman-wearing-sports-bra-with-six-pack-abs-650x433

While I applaud these women who work hard and make their daily focus be exercise and extreme nutrition, I’ve stated time and time again that women NEED body fat if we are to be healthy.  Obviously we need our body fat levels to stay in a certain “lean” range for our health’s sake (17-28% depending on age and build), but the female form is not supposed to be as low-fat as the male body naturally is. Not to mention that the aforementioned extreme nutrition makes life sometimes feel stressfull — after all, we’re supposed to be able to enjoy  good food, wine and chololate (in moderation) aren’t we?! (Oprah says yes!)

oprah-wine

Why this is a detrimental trend in my view is because women with body fat levels lower than 17% can and do see a weakening in their immune systems, poor circulation (personal thermostat levels), menstrual and reproduction systems compromised, and thyroid confusion (thyroid malfunction is not surprisingly on the rise). It is especially hard on the body when these low-fat levels are forced vs. natural. What I mean by that is some girls/women are born naturally thin with super fast metabolisms. I was one of those – I was 5′ 7″ by age 15, but I still couldn’t break 100 lbs until I was about 22 (with 15% body fat). But I didn’t starve myself ever, I had (and still do) have a great immune system, and clearly my body could handle it. Forcing your body to have super low body fat levels when it’s not natural creates a great strain internally, especially on your organs.

women-body-fat-percentage-pictures-i6

Now that I am in my 50’s, and while still lean and healthy (19% body fat), no longer sport my own concave lower abs, I realize more than ever how detrimental it is to women to be always told we need to have flat abs. We’re supposed to be slightly round between our ribs and hips – we’re supposed to be curvy and…well…feminine. These uber-lean models are changing what our young girls think about how their bodies should look.

a287ad82f1404613dca78b6ce4282687

The worst part of this is that 85% of men when polled about their preferences fessed up to actually not finding super skinny or overly-toned women as attractive as someone with a little “softness” to their build. Men want us to be women – not walking muscles.  So one must ask, why are we so obsessed with a washboard stomach?

With all this as food for thought, once again I plead with all my female followers and friends to maintain healthy levels of body fat, but more importantly to love your bodies and your stomach in particular. Join me in re-labeling what is attractive and sexy in our own perceptions and embrace being well-rounded individuals – including our abs!

3d2d27d2d5b477b0c2d27dc91e4e75f6-664x977x1

Bullies & Boot Camp

Every day I work diligently to guide my daughter, all her friends, and my nieces and nephews to understand how to eat and exercise so as to have healthy bodies, and more importantly, to accept (and appreciate) the bodies they have. But lately more and more I hear about the increase of cyber bulling, text bullying, and body shaming that is running rampant in many schools and it really riles me up.

28c984c0d1ceeca01260f536e2d3a414_787_441

Girls of all shapes and sizes are ridiculed and taunted, whether they’re over-fat, over-thin, too tall, have acne, are shy, have large breasts, are smart, you name it, they’re made to feel inferior, shameful or inadequate. Even when their bodies offer nothing to be attacked, bullying tactics often target girls (and boys) who are sweet natured and “considerate” personalities – the back-biting cliques that have shunned them label them “nice kids” as if it’s distasteful.

sb10064450d-001

Recently one of my nieces suffered from bullying at school from one of her supposed friends for standing up to her for attacking other friends. Another daughter I know, was picked on for being over-fat since she was three, and it got to the point that by high school she wanted to drop out because she felt so isolated and alone.  Another girl I know was labeled a Lesbian when she stood up to lies and rumors that she was easy with boys. “Oh make up your mind you little twits,” I wanted to scream!

whatiscyberbullying

Now this subject is not new and my goal today is not to stand on a soapbox and scream we must stamp out bullying in school and on the internet although clearly WE MUST! But today my goal is to offer a concept that has the potential to reduce some of these malicious posts, emails, and texts, and get these kids to realize once and for all that they’re all the same!

getty_bullying_school_girls_laughing_large_peopleimages-56a13e833df78cf77268bb62

It’s simple, let’s get these kids off their electronics and work their butts off. They say “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and clearly truth to this concept – when kids enjoy the safety and anonymity of communicating via technology combined with too much free time – trouble ensues.  It’s just too easy to be mean and feel free from repercussions.  Plus, somewhere along the way humans in the awkward teen years have developed a need to put others down to make our own feelings of out-of-placeness more palatable.  Instead of seeking positive reinforcement, we negatively lash out at others which makes us feel bigger, better, smarter, prettier, etc.  Kids have not cornered the market in this — just look at most offices and you’ll find a scattering of immature adults (and women with low self-esteem) doing the same thing to co-workers.

bullying1

So I say let’s take all these middle-schoolers and high-schoolers and give them one hour a day of intense boot camp-style fitness. Put them together in clusters of sizes, personalities, colors, and ages and push them to work past their insecurities and force them to work together for a common goal as well.

11652049_873756606036760_190512427_n

A myriad of positive results would ensue: fat-loss, energy boost, mood improvement, emotional barriers cleared, and, if done right, force camaraderie across clique lines through shared hardship.

kids-bootcamp

It may sound idealistic but I dare say we have nothing to lose in trying. It works for soldiers, it works when people rally to a shared cause, and it’ll work with kids, which in turn might make a future generation stop this divisiveness.

I’ll be happy to create and present this boot camp to any parents and schools who are interested. Meanwhile, I’ll continue my quest to teach girls to use their voices, and love their bodies!

kids-fitness-bootcamp-marlboro-nj

Halloween & How to Handle Temptation

Three years ago I posted this article about handling food temptations, especially during sugary holidays like Halloween.  I’ve updated it a tad and share it again for those of you readying your house with bowls of candy and parties this upcoming weekend, etc.  Read and relax — you don’t have to deny yourself completely, you just have to have a little self-control!

The secret to avoiding food temptation is not to see it (whatever the temptation is) as an absolute NO, NEVER, YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY! If there’s one thing we’ve all learned in our journey from toddler to teenager and now for some of us as parents, denial or restriction from something craved or coveted results in the forbidden fruit syndrome: that which we cannot have becomes the thing we most desire.  That’s when “sneaking” or “cheating” or worse “over-indulging” comes in.

shutterstock_241564753-654x420

When I was a child, my mother did not allow us to eat any sugared cereals.  However, because my bother and I were denied ever tasting this one food item, especially since so many of our peers did eat it, we got obsessed with, in particular, Lucky Charms. Despite being 3½ years apart in age, it was the first grocery item both of us purchased when we each moved out from home in our late teens.  (My brother even purchased a box when he was 16 and kept it in his room. I know, because I snuck into his room and ate some!)

lucky-charms-6

Adults are no different.  Many of you go on diets (which you all know I feel is a terrible word because it implies temporary) restricting your nutrition to more “healthier” choices, while still long for those craved foods you are denying yourselves.  This begins a cycle of torment as you deny yourself something, then ultimately sneak or indulge in it, and then berate yourself with feelings of guilt and disappointment for having “cheated” (another taboo word in my lexicon).

cheating-on-diet-1

So back to my initial question: how do you avoid food temptation.  YOU DON’T.  But you DO moderate it.  If you enjoy sweets or alcohol or fried foods, place a limited, yet realistic amount into your nutrition plan.  By realistic I mean that you have to account for unexpected situations.  For example, when one of my clients say they’ll only have one glass of wine or bite of chocolate on the weekends and an occasion comes along where they are faced with wanting wine or sweets on a Wednesday, they feel torn and anguish over the decision facing them.   To they detour from their imposed restrictions or deny themselves something they want in the moment?

dc0326ee1f1c7a3a_10914678_993846737348041_1775324958_n

So rather than setting a restriction based upon days or unreasonably small quantities, try keeping your moderation plans looser.  If your nutrition plan allows for two glasses of wine, or four cookies, per week — then you know your quantity and can simply play with when you enjoy those indulgences.  But if you truly want to keep your indulgences assigned to specific days, that’s okay, but you must allow for contingencies.  That freedom goes a long way to breaking the idea that these food cravings are forbidden or wrong.  (Again, if you change your nutrition plan to a lifestyle change and not a diet you will also increase your chances of successful and permanent weight loss.)

181.png

With my 10 year old daughter, I only purchase non-sugared cereals as my mother had done (usually organic too).  But I explained my cereal experience and then bought her a small box of Lucky Charms.  I gave her a bowl one day as a “treat reward” that she’d earned.  She liked the cereal, but she’s never asked for it again. It is not a forbidden fruit to her – it is simply something to have in moderation.  In her case, there are many other tastier (and fortunately healthier) sweet treats that she’d rather have for her treat rewards.

candy

With all this advice laid out, here comes Halloween — the sweetest and most challenging of holidays for many.  For both adults and children, the key to handling this inundation of sugary crap is to set limits.  My daughter can collect as much candy and her plastic pumpkin can hold.  But once home, she is allowed 2 pieces to enjoy right then, and after she must select 14 pieces for keeping (one piece every day for two weeks).  After that, the rest is packaged up and sent to the troops overseas. This has been our routine since she started trick or treating at age 2.  She doesn’t feel deprived, and she doesn’t pollute her body with excessive sugar.

rock8

As for adults, I challenge all of you who fear the candy bowl – to just pick one, two, even five of your favorite candies (a roll of Sweeties, the fun size Snickers, a handful of candy corn, etc.).  Have one right then, then have another in a day or two until your small quantity is gone.

mindfuleating-600x369

I guarantee you’ll feel no guilt, and a relief that you got to taste that which you have been denying yourself.  In all likelihood you’ll probably find it wasn’t as good as you remembered and you’ll not crave it as much in the future.  Then toss the rest out or do as we do, and send it to the troups.  Here’s the link on how to do that:

https://opgrat.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/halloween-candy-for-the-troops/

operation-gratitude

Don’t fear holidays and food temptations, just manage them!

Comfort Foods vs. Comfort

y1pDXhGhXHL5sLbIyr7ev3vks3WtoqOBcC7BXhwP2kFNHQLbo79esGjRMMOX80PGEX-NPduB9EmeU0.gif

From the beginning of time when humans stood erect and hunted for sustenance, food has understandably been a priority. Now we’ve evolved our approach to food in such a way that we’ve assigned emotional labels to it such as “comfort” or “cheats.” We even have “angel food” and “devil’s food” labels assigned to cakes. I’ve addressed this in part before, but today I want to delve a little deeper into “comfort” foods.

Woman eating ice cream for a better humor

When you are stressed or sad, what is your go-to food (or food groups) to pick yourself up? For men it’s often fatty or fried standards like pizza, fries, mac ‘n cheese, or the trifecta: a bacon cheese burger. For women it’s sweets like ice cream, cookies, chocolates, or the grand-slam: ice cream and hot fudge on a piece of cake.

djo3xn6

chocolate-cake

Recently a client confided that although they were seeing positive changes in their body, were content with their job and home, and had a new relationship that was going well (i.e., they were happy with their lives) for some reason they still indulged (or rather over-indulged) in comfort foods on a regular basis. They had gone out with friends for lunch and ordered mac n’ cheese, a side of bacon, a soda and apple pie ala mode for dessert. When I asked why, they had no viable answer and was truly frustrated by their lack of self-control.

81a579dfde51740e773a219144b22fe5

But I suspected what the answer was – comfort foods have been so over-used by so many that even when the original reason for seeking them out is no longer present, our bodies (really our brain and it’s ever continuing quest for dopamine) continue to silently urge us to indulge. A perfect example of these “comforting foods” in action (in a negative fashion that is) is played out in real time in the award-winning documentary Super Size Me. (If you haven’t seen it yet, seek it out, it’s quite enlightening!)

supersize-me

The pertinent question at this point should be how do we break our dependency on comfort foods? The answer is simple – moderation and discipline. Never deny yourself any of these beloved foods/meals completely, but you must be willing to institute some self-control over your portion size and frequency of consumption. Your body will stop craving them if you stop using them to fill your psychological holes in the first place! Then when all is well, there will be no more guilt trips over an unnecessary ingesting of these nutritionally void meals.

food

When you feel the need to soothe your emotions with food or drink, take 30 minutes to write down your feelings, slow your breathing, and calm back down from the helter-skelter inside your head. If after doing all that, you still NEED that “comfort” meal, make it be half the size you used to consume.

comfort_food

Slowly but surely you will either be able to stop abusing food, or at least you might come to terms with what’s really bothering you and deal with it or seek professional assistance to work through the issue. This is crucial to anyone seeking to reduce their levels of body fat. You can exercise 6 x a week, and eat better than ever before, but if you don’t get rid of the emotional baggage that you’ve tied in with food, you’ll never fully achieve your goals. Remember too, that comfort foods usually do not result in you feeling comfort for very long!

How Do You Smell?

I have been blessed (or cursed depending) with an amazing sense of smell. On the good side, my ability to sniff out the delicate nuances of a special glass of wine is an enjoyable asset. But on the bad side, I can sniff out a cigarette being smoked two cars in front of me!

17nci38bc399tjpg

Now I know first hand that America on the whole smells better than many other countries – I honeymooned in Bali and the over-powering and rampant body odor hit me the minute I deplaned and assaulted my senses every time I got in a cab. But for some reason America has gotten fixated on either masking scents within our homes or covering ourselves head to toe with perfumed products. Whether using a plug-in diffuser, aroma-therapy candle, or the multitudes of air freshener sprays, many people care more about scenting their homes with un-natural “country vanilla” or “sea breeze” aromas, than just opening the windows and allowing fresh air to do its thing.

vitals_smellingflower

I have an especially high annoyance with men and women who wear too much perfume/cologne. My mother, an “old-school” elegant lady, taught me that perfume was for smelling up close ONLY. “A woman’s perfume should not be smelled before she rounds the corner” she would say. I can’t count how many times I’ve been forced to move from a theater seat (or suffer in silence if I couldn’t change seats) because some woman has drenched herself with an Estee Lauder concoction that would repel a bear!

6a00d8341cce2453ef0120a915c0b4970b-800wiper394579

I also have a few male friends who wear so much head-ache producing cologne that I avoid hugging them lest I have to change my shirt just to stand being around myself.  The other day a young man working out at my gym had so much Axe Spray on that even three rows away I couldn’t’ concentrate on my workout.  I really wanted to say “sweetie, you don’t need to announce yourself that way! You’re a 6′-2″ handsome 20-something with muscles … lay off the damn cologne!”  But of course I didn’t, I just crumbled and moved further away.

bodyspray-big2

Even our laundry detergents offer six to eight different scents, all so strong and invasive, that when my daughter used to have her clothes washed at her grandparents house, I would have to wash them again because it gave me a headache just to hug her. Clothes should be clean with a mild unscented soap that removes dirt and odors, but doesn’t “sterilize” them with perfumes that then clash with deodorants, body lotions, and the rest of our self-applied scents. We even have scented trash bags!  Come on, really?

013b14e1849f704d63c65feb15d8a801carousel_home_9

Why am I on a soapbox today about scents and smells? Because while the essential oils industry has been selling us on the healthful and emotional impacts that can occur when utilizing our olfactory senses, what no one is addressing is the downside of all the overpowering, chemically-created scents we are forced to inhale on a daily basis.

The problem with these man-man aromas is that they dull one of our important, yet overlooked, senses and can cause headaches, loss of appetite, or worse, an altered pallet where we need higher levels of sugar and salts just to enjoy our foods. People likely forget that the first step in appetite and proper digestion is through our sense of smell. Haven’t you ever notice that when our noses are stuffed, food tastes bland.

main-qimg-314fc0deccd35d9f5fd29f37b3694f8e-c

If we continue to douse ourselves and our environments with these over-powering and unnatural scents, our noses will stop working the way they should. Food will smell and taste different and we will seek to engage our pallet by enhancing foods with the standard taste-enhancers – sugar and salt. More sugar and salt in our diets leads to higher levels of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes just to name a few issues. Plus a dulled-nose will also miss out on the subtleties in nature of healthy clean air, flowers in a meadow, the warm smell of pine needles, or the real (not canned) scent of a sea-breeze (not to mention the warning signs of a fire or food turning bad, etc.)

1680883_1437733583

Some of you may laugh this off, but for those of you who share my nose-sensitivity, pass the word along – and lets lighten up on the perfumed products. A little scent goes a long way – and we should NOT smell you coming around the corner.

62d5b8160e7f607e226372751ae30e2a8fe29c9dfe27422b75b7bea547cdeb6e

Eat This…

Nutrition is a vast and confusing topic, and healthy nutrition can be even more so. With fad diets and an annually targeted “evil ingredient” (i.e., saturated fats, carbs or gluten) added into the mix, it is no wonder that so many of my clients and friends call upon me for advice and guidance about what to eat.

110_why_nutrition_confusing

The first thing I can advise/remind you is that lean protein is an important tool to lowering body fat – assuming that you’re engaging in regular and effective resistance training. Secondly, you should already know by now that I NEVER recommend a carb-free diet! As I always point out “diet” implies temporary, and carbs are not our enemy. Processed carbs, and foods that have high levels of sugar, sodium, or saturated fats should definitely be avoided, but carbs themselves are quite necessary in keeping us balanced and healthy.

confusing

With all this stated, today I thought it helpful if I review my favorite high-protein go-to snacks/meal replacements, listing my top choice for each of the following food profiles: sweet, savory, salty, and drinkable.

SWEET: Chocolate Cake & Quinoa by Carve Bar (formerly DNA Life Bars)

While there are four fantastic flavors of these gluten free, dairy free, soy free, corn free and non-GMO bars, this flavor is the best hands down. With a moist consistency and a ganached exterior, their texture is reminiscent to Hostess Ding Dongs.  The added perk is that these bars have only 2 grms of sugar, none of which comes from refined white sugar. They offer 14 grams of protein, and being under 300 calories (per pack), they make a great snack when your sweet tooth is calling in the middle of the afternoon, or after dinner.

img_2719

SAVORY: Turkey, Sweet Potato, Cranberry and Pumpkin Seed Raw Bar by Bricks Bar

Despite the ridiculously long name, this gluten free, grain free, and antibiotic free option provides 10 grams of tasty protein in it’s 130 calorie bar, and only 11 grams of carbs. It reminds me of a pile of thanksgiving leftovers mushed together, and although that may not sound appetizing, I really do enjoy the taste of this bar when I’m craving something hearty and savory that can serve as a great snack/meal replacement on the go. When lightly microwaved the nuances of flavors come alive.

img_2721

SALTY: Sea Salt Baked Protein Chips by Quest Nutrition

Made by the Quest Bar people, these sort-of “potato chips” are thin, crisp, and salty satisfying your need to munch on something like a chip or pop corn, while containing 21 grams of protein in one small bag (and only 5 grams of carbs). At only 120 calories per serving (a bag) this a great protein option to take to the movies or enjoy alongside a salad or sandwich.

img_2720

DRINKABLE: Biochem 100% Whey Protein Powder (Vanilla)

As a personal trainer I’ve tried a lot of protein powder, and this product has won my loyalty for many years now. Two scoops provides 20 grams of protein, 0 fat, and 6 carbs in 110 calories. It has no chalky texture, mixes easily, and has no bitter aftertaste from the glycemic index-friendly stevia sweetener. While it is not a choice for Vegans, everyone else can enjoy this gluten-free protein powder. I choose the Vanilla flavor for it’s versatility as you can mix it into fruit or veggie juices (can’t do that with Chocolate flavor), or into milk-based shakes with peanut butter or chocolate chips, etc. I also recommend their “natural” flavor which is unsweetened.

img_2722

**********

Hopefully you’ll give these products a try as they really do help you always have a quick, healthy protein rich snack on hand, while taking some of the guess work out of your nutrition. All of them are available at affordable prices on-line through Amazon or Vitacost, or on their specific websites.