Drink to Your Health

With the all warm weather, you might fancy a cold drink. They say that in America, over half the calories consumed come from sugar in soft drinks. Terrifying! Outrageously, 12% of the Coca-cola is drunk at breakfast. In Britain we’re not that bad (yet) but we certainly do have a drink problem. So what’s what?

Starting with the worst things to drink:

– Fizzy drinks – very sugary leading to weight gain, blood sugar imbalances and diabetes. They’re very acidic leading to tooth decay and bone density loss.

– Low-cal fizzy drinks – the use of sweeteners has increased since the sugar tax came in. Weight loss clubs often recommend low-cal fizzy drinks but these have been proven not to help with weight loss. The sweet taste of the chemical sweeteners confuses your body’s control systems (not a good idea). Your brain thinks that sugar is coming; then it doesn’t so you go looking for food.

If you’ve been wondering how effective the sugar tax on drinks is likely to be, here are some results from those who’ve already tried it.

– Fruit Juice – seen as healthy and natural but still a sugary drink. Fruit juice can be up to a year old and have lost a lot of its nutrients. Fructose is processed via your liver to create fat. Too much fruit can cause problems with weight gain, tooth decay and in extremes, even non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (first found in 1980). You wouldn’t eat 4 apples/oranges at once but they’re easy to drink. Stick to eating whole fruit.

– Smoothies – most bought ones and internet recipes are too heavy on fruit or other sweet ingredients. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of a smoothie which illustrates the problem:

A smoothie is a thick beverage made from blended raw fruit, vegetables or ice cream and cookies with other ingredients such as water, ice, or sweeteners.”

Definitely not recommended!

– Squash – depends how strong you mix it. Contains sugar or sweeteners.

– Sports / Energy drinks – heavily marketed, unhealthy and unnecessary. High in caffeine and sugar they’re very bad, especially for children.  This piece talks about them causing sudden cardiac deaths in young people.  So, quite rightly, there’s been a fuss about children and energy drinks.  See #notforchildren The majority of kids drink them, often having a litre at a time which is very dangerous. It’s like taking a chainsaw to their adrenal glands. Supermarkets have taken steps eg reducing promotion to kids and trying to prevent sales to children.

Here’s what Jamie Oliver’s site says about them.

On to Something Better

Well that was all a bit dismal, so what’s the solution? It’s surprisingly easy to wean yourself off sweet drinks; your palate can change in as little as two weeks. Here are some healthy alternatives:

Tastes much nicer than it looks – a refreshing salad in a glass!

– Vegetable juices – juice your own for a brilliant way to get lots of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Use 80% vegetables (eg celery, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower stems, leafy greens, sprig of parsley, some ginger). Add small amounts of fruit to improve flavour (½ a lime, some lemon, a bit of pear, few cranberries, bit of tomato). Drink within an hour or freeze.

– Smoothies – use avocados and green leaves with almond / coconut milk or plain live yoghurt. Add a few berries or an inch of banana.

– Milk – shown to be even more hydrating than water when exercising. The sugar in milk (lactose) can cause weight gain if you have a lot, the fat doesn’t.

The Moody Cow at Allonby sells the real thing – unpasturised. It tastes delicious.

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– Coconut water – a great isotonic refresher. Best if you buy a coconut, pierce the top and pour it out. Bought coconut milk will be older and may have additives so read the label.

– Iced tea. Not the syrupy type in a can or bottle. Make some delicate green tea, add a slice of lime and some ice.

– Water – fruit infused. Put a strawberry or a couple of raspberries / blackberries or a slice of lemon / lime in a mug and pour an inch of boiling water over. Let it sit for 10 minutes then top up with cold.

– Water – re-hydration solution. Make your own if it’s very hot and you’re doing a lot of exercise. Add a little salt and sugar to your water.

– Water – great choice – would be even better if they stopped fluoridation!

Top tip – switch to healthier drinks.

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Exercise, Health and a Bit of Balance

May was National Walking Month so hopefully you’ve enjoyed taking the occasional stroll in the lovely weather.

Moving your body every day is a good thing. It’s only a minor factor for weight loss but crucial when it comes to health. For many conditions it’s better than any medicine, even having value in preventing and treating cancer. However, in common with many other good things, more is not always better and too much can hurt you.

I’ll just back up and do a detour to deal with the weight loss thing in case you fell straight off your chair. Food is the main factor for weight loss – not exercise. Weight training and high intensity interval training are best. If you’re one of the 1000s pounding the treadmill every day watching the calories tick, you need to know that aerobic exercise is the worst for weight loss. It generally burns very little and makes you quite a bit hungrier. Even if energy balance worked at all (which it doesn’t), the way diet clubs teach it is very misleading as Zoe Harcombe explains here. The energy you burn, above what you always burn at rest, does not cancel out that bun and a latte in the gym cafe. As Dr Aseem Malhotra says, you can’t outrun a bad diet. What matters for weight is the type of food. Some you’ll burn, some you’ll store. Different foods affect different hormones. But I write about that most of the time so I’ll get off my soapbox and end my diversion. Oh, but while I still have one foot on my soapbox, energy drinks are terrible, especially for children, and no one should drink them. More on drinks next month.

 

OK, where were we? Exercise and Health.

I always ask people on my courses to listen to their bodies. It isn’t something we’re used to doing. Life is all one mad charge forwards regardless of how we feel. We’re driven by external expectations, work, family, social norms. If our bodies complain, the usual reaction is to take over-the-counter drugs to silence the messages.

Most of us recognise that too much work is a bad thing but surely any amount of exercise is good.

If you feel generally snoozy and sluggish, it could be a sign that you need to move more.

France 2009

If you are very tired and exercise doesn’t energise you, it could be a sign that your body needs some recovery. We often underestimate the importance of rest. It can seem a bit soft to take a nap or a day off. When I was on the Great Britain Field Archery team I remember hearing that the commitment to rest is as important as the commitment to train hard.

Shame I didn’t take more notice at the time!

I used to have a stressful job and I used exercise as an antidote. The more stressed I got, the more desperately I exercised. Adding to the burden, I didn’t know then about eating right for your metabolic type. My diet was full of sugar but lacking the fat that I needed. And there were toxins in the low-fat products I ate. I believed the adverts saying they were better for me; how wrong can you be? I got more and more run down and relied too much on cortisol and adrenalin to keep me going. I dragged myself out of bed each day feeling like death and forced myself onwards. You can scrape the bottom of the barrel of your resources for so long but the end result for me was a hole in the barrel. I suffered total exhaustion and chronic fatigue. I was incapacitated for a year and half.

I’m not the only one to fall into the excess exercise trap. Sometimes the consequences are more severe than I suffered and can appear suddenly. I was saddened by the death of a Cumbrian chef at this year’s London Marathon. Here’s a piece about the dangers of over-doing it and how extreme sport scars your heart.

Nowadays I prefer a bit of balance and self care to punishing my body with gruelling regimes.

What do you think counts as exercise? Have you realised it doesn’t have to be done in a special place (eg a gym) or for a certain period of time (eg an hour)? Actually your body is designed for continuous movement and you can include lots of things you might not have counted before. Vacuuming, washing the car, playing with the kids, digging the garden, dancing, walking the dog, doing a few squats while the kettle boils, reaching up to hang out the washing.

I’m a fan of Dr Mercola’s NO dump (developed by Zach Bush). I love Michael Mosely’s book on Fast Exercise – here’s a little HIIT video. And have a listen to this podcast on primal play Dr Chatterjee and Darryl.

Dr Chaterjee’s book The Four Pillar Plan talks about movement snacking and Dr Joan Vernikos explains the need for non-exercise movement throughout the day regardless of whether you do ‘exercise sessions’. Just standing up from your chair every 20 minutes lets your body engage with gravity and brings many health, strength and weight benefits.

Do you take your health for granted? I used to but not any more. Having experienced life without it, health is really important to me now and that’s why I don’t compromise on food, exercise and rest. I don’t want to ever go back to that misery.

Good health is a lot about self care. It’s about getting some exercise every day, but not so much that you burn yourself out. It’s about nourishing your body with good food, but not sticking so rigidly to a dietary regime that it prevents you from living a rich, happy life. It’s about deep sleep, rest and fun. It’s about balance.

Top tips: Real food is good. Exercise is good. Rest is good. Balance is good.

Quote of the Month – May Q2

The right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little, not too much, is the safest way to health.

Hippocrates 2,500 years ago

L0014825 Portrait of Hippocrates from Linden, Magni Hippocratis…1665
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Portrait of Hippocrates.
Magni Hippocratis…
Van der Linden, J.A. editor
Published: 1665
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The Power of Imprinting

Here’s something special for you with my thanks to Mental Management Systems.

I used one of Lanny Bassham’s books, With Winning in Mind, when I was representing Great Britain in archery.

It was also the inspiration to write my book, Succeed in Sport.  Lanny especially liked my use of symbols to record performance levels.

I was lucky enough to have a day’s mental management training with Lanny and his son Troy when they came to Britain.

Troy, Jackie, Lanny at Bisley

 Here’s a piece by Brian Bassham we can all use.

Have you ever seen a book titled, “The Power of Negative Thinking?” I haven’t and I believe the reason is because it works and is easy to do. We live in a negative environment where it’s easy to beat yourself up, vent to others why things are bad, and focus on the things not going well. It’s easy to be negative and takes no effort. With that said, if one practices having positive thoughts, it becomes easier for them to be positive instead of negative.

The power of imprinting is real, both negative and positive. I’ve known people who seem to only have bad luck. They are the same people who focus on the negative. The Eeyores of the world that can’t catch a break to save their life. What if, those same people changed their thought process? What if you only focused on the positive and left the negative at the door? How much better would life be? How much more could you accomplish?

The Self-Image needs two ingredients to grow, 1) Confirmation from others and 2) Confirmation from self. Let’s take a look at the first ingredient, confirmation from others. You must have a strong circle of people who lift you up. Think about the 5 people you spend most of your time around and ask yourself this question, “Do I feel better about myself when I’m around them?” If the answer is yes, keep them in your circle. If the answer is no, protect yourself. I’m not saying you should remove them out of your life. What I am saying is that if you want to reach your true potential you must interact with people who build you up.

The second ingredient can be difficult for some but it is necessary if you want to have a strong Self-Image. There are 3 types of imprints: Actual Imprints, Environmental Imprints, and Imagined Imprints. Both actual imprints and environmental imprints are out of your control. However, Imagined Imprints are in your control. What you choose to think about, write about, and talk about is up to you. Choose to think Helpful thoughts, write down Positive Affirmations, and talk about what you want to have happen helps build your Self-Image.

In the book, “With Winning in Mind” there is a section titled, “Building a Better You.” In my opinion, it’s the most important portion of the book. You have the POWER to change the Self-Image that you currently have to the Self-Image you desire by using the power of imprinting. First, make the decision that you are willing to change. Only you can make that choice. Second, identify specifically the habits and/or attitudes that you need to change. You must be specific. Third, identify the new Self-Image that is in direct conflict with your old one. Finally, only IMPRINT the new habits and/or attitudes of the desired new Self-Image.

Imprinting positive thoughts and focusing on the new habits and/or attitudes will also create conflict within your current Self-Image. Only two things can happen; you become the person you desire by continuing to change your thoughts or you stay being who you are by stopping those imprints. The Self-Image hates conflict so this process is not easy but knowing that if you stick with your positive imprints long enough the Self-Image will change can be the motivation you need to keep going. Imprinting is in your control, control your thoughts and you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.

Written by: Brian Bassham

Mental Coach – Mental Management Systems

brian@mentalmanagement.com

110% ?

It’s been a great summer of sport with the Such3Commonwealth Games, golf (what a fab Ryder cup), cricket and the European Athletics Championships. My husband gets annoyed when sports people say they’ve given 110%.  If you put 100% into something, by definition, that’s everything you’ve got. There is no more. When it comes to eating well, how far are you prepared to go? Do you need or want to eat 100% good things?

Recently, I went to a delightful concert with tea and cake at Higham Hall. A gentleman who had heard one of my talks watched with interest to see whether I would indulge. Knowing that a cream scone once in a blue moon wouldn’t do me too much harm, I had one (well, half of one). I ate it mindfully and enjoyed it very much.

Golf put MWLike sports people, the % effort you put in depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you have serious health problems, then it’s worth putting serious efforts into supporting your body by eating all good, nutrient-packed food. If you’re healthy and feel great, you might take a more relaxed approach.

What if you’re in-between with a few niggles, an expanding girth, declining energy, but nothing drastic?   First, think about your physical state and the importance to you of it being better. Second, estimate current percentages of natural food and processed food you eat. Marketing is so subtle and devious that you might not even be sure which foods count as good and which as bad. Low-fat fruit yoghurts are a classic processed food posing as a healthy choice. Third and last, decide what you are willing to do to improve your life. Choose a level that gives you some benefits and that you can sustain.

Top tip – You decide how far you want to go.

Food for Sport

In the middle of August, I was up a mountain in France as a member of the GB team, competing in the Field Archery World Championships. Before I went, I wrote about what I might eat.

Lots of people have views on what is required for sporting performance eg carb loading or energy drinks. Similarly to healthy eating, we are all different when it comes to our ideal fuel for sport. I have tried out lots of ideas over the years to find out what helps me feel good for the 7 or 8 (in France 9 or 10) hours of a competition day.

My food of choice when competing in Britain is sprouted mung beans, celery and cheese. We stay in bed and breakfasts so enjoy the benefits of a full English breakfast to start the day, from which I save the sausage to add to my lunch. I always have a bag of nuts with me with some pieces of protein bar mixed in. I take bottles of plain water to drink.

Competing abroad means thinking about how to get what I need as a high protein metabolic type. I know that full English will not be on the menu at Val d’Isere but I’m hopeful of cheese and ham. Lunch is trickier. The 2009 European Championships were also in France and they bombarded us with bread several times a day. Staying in the middle of nowhere, I had no choice but to eat it and suffered as a result. I love the taste but have learned that bread does me no favours. Actually lots of people struggle with bread and most of those don’t even realise that it’s a problem for them. If you think this might apply to you, try cutting it out for a couple of weeks and notice what happens when you add it back in.

 So this year I’ll take a range of emergency supplies and go shopping as necessary. Wish me luck!

Top tip: Learn what suits you and your sport.

P.S. What actually happened.

It’s true that bread was available in vast quantities, but I didn’t have to eat any because the food at the Village Montana hotel, Tignes was superb.  I started each morning with a shot of wheatgrass juice (from Tonic Attack) before a splendid breakfast of fruit, natural yoghurt, ham, cheese and boiled eggs (most days the weather was too hot to eat bacon and fried egg but it was available!). I took bread-free packed lunches.  Evening meals were salads, meat, fish and vegetables.  Brilliant.  Glad to have eaten well on this, my last trip with the GB team.

Photo by Gerard Zonjee of http://www.fieldarcher.org – pics and reports of international field archery events.

Eat for better sport

Most of the advice we get about what to eat is either well-meaning ‘one-size-fits-all’ generalities or advertising aiming to make us buy products.  As an international archer I received advice some years ago from a nutritionist that came under the first category.  Unfortunately eating in the way that is currently fashionable as healthy was not right for my body chemistry and I ended up overweight with a whole load of other problems.

I’ve just won the British Field Archery Championships for the 6th time.  At the age of 47 and with a 7 year gap since my last British title, I’m delighted.

(Picture courtesy of The Whitehaven News)

My good shooting this year (including a lifetime best score indoors) is the result of a combination of factors.  Using my record charts (described in my book Succeed in Sport, train-learn-adapt-improve), I made a change to my weight training pattern.  I also reviewed my performance profile, prioritised and following a great day with Lanny Bassham at Bisley, made some tweaks to my mental approach . And I benefitted from a reduction of work related stress.

I believe that eating right was another key factor.  Field archery competitions last for two whole days.  Many foods loved by sports people (chewy bars and artificial drinks) provide a swift energy hit followed by slumps, hunger, headaches, mood changes and weight gain.  Other foods (like sandwiches) take a lot of energy to process and leave you sluggish in the afternoon.  I wanted food that would digest itself and give me the nutrients I wanted to keep going steadily for many hours.

Among other things, I take fresh coconut, cheese and the magical sprouted beans and seeds.  They’re cheap, easy to grow and bursting with goodness.  Anyone who has been to one of my talks will know how much I love live food and the enzymes they contain.  Foods like this have a high water content; wet food is better at keeping you hydrated than dry food plus drinks.

You might have been put off by the recent E coli outbreak in Europe which was suggested (although not confirmed) to have come from fenugreek, mustard and rocket seeds from Egypt sold via a British company.  The company believes the infection is more likely to be due to how the seeds were used and handled than the seeds themselves.  Here, the Food Standards Agency, as a precaution, is recommending that sprouted seeds are eaten cooked rather than raw. That would kill all the enzymes that you grew them for in the first place.  I leave you to make up your own mind but if you do grow some, make sure you always wash your trays properly between batches so you don’t end up with bacterial contamination.