Essential Fatty Acid Misnomer

As I’m laying on the floor of my office doing a posture stretch and listening to my favorite podcast, Underground Wellness, it occurs to me that the term “essential fatty acid” is a misnomer.
We call Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats “essential’ because our bodies cannot make them: we have to obtain them from food. Ironically, most people have far more Omega-6 fats in their diet than is healthy (since corn and soy are in EVERYTHING).
Moreover, saturated fats, which are absolutely essential to our health are vilified. Saturated fats are required for building healthy cell walls and regulating both hormones and enzymes (which effects almost every bodily process)…they are so important that if we overdue eating carbs and sugar, our liver will actually make saturated fat to try and protect us.
So next time you hear the term essential fats, give a shout out of thanks to saturated fat, our under-appreciated friend. 🙂

New Year’s Resolutions: Inspirational or Delusional?

Howdy, Choosing Healthers! I hope all of you are having a terrific holiday season so far. New Year’s is right around the corner. Time to begin another year, and for many, a fresh start in certain parts of your life. When it comes to resolutions, are you for or against?

I used to think New Year’s resolutions were stupid. I mean, what is the point of waiting around till the new year to make a change? If making that change is important to you then you should seize the moment and start immediately. Right?!

Over the years, I have come to appreciate that there is something about making a resolution at the start of a new year that just feels, oh what’s the word…fresh? new and shiny? clean? Fresh. So while I don’t think you should necessarily wait to make a resolution till the new year, if you should happen to come up with one at that time of year, you’ll get the added “fresh” feeling. 😉

Where you’ll get yourself into trouble when making New Year’s resolutions is if you are mistaking holiday sentiment for strength and resolve. Your holiday nostalgia is going to wear off by the time January is over, so you’re going to need something else to keep you on track.

In my book, Choosing Health, I discuss what makes for successful goal-setting. First of all, you need to be specific about what you want to change…and it better be something that you are convinced you NEED to change. Write down specifically what you want to change and why you want/need to change it.

Second, you need to have a way of measuring the change. For example, if your resolution is to eat more salads, you’d be specific by stating how much salad you intend to have on a daily or weekly basis and you’d be able to measure that easily enough by counting the salads you ingest.

Thirdly, your goal needs to be attainable. Eating 12,000 salads per week is not attainable. Eating 5-7 is.

Fourthly, your goal needs to be relevant. A relevant goal is a goal that makes sense in the big picture. If you find that your digestion feels better when you eat salads regularly, then setting a goal to eat more salads each week is relevant to improving your overall health.

Lastly, the key to a great goal is that it is time-bound. If you tend to procrastinate or get busy with a million and one things, your goal will fall by the wayside if you don’t give yourself a deadline. You can even set milestones for yourself if your goal is going to take a long time to complete or if it is an ongoing goal. Giving yourself mini goal-milestones will help you stay focused, motivated and feeling successful.

Now you’ve got the tools to make a New Year’s resolution that will leave you feeling inspired rather than delusional. The only question left is, “What are you going to change in 2011?”

For more health and fitness tips from Choosing Health, come to by book signing on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Hope to see you there! 🙂

Your Health: The Inconvenient Truth

Your life is something you’d do anything for. If someone held a gun to your head and threatened your life, wouldn’t you do anything to save yourself? Why then is it that we justify poor eating habits and inactivity? There’s got to be a perfectly good explanation for this, right? Let’s delve into the irony of why we’d do anything to save our lives…except make healthy choices.
An assumption that stops some people from pursuing healthier living is that being healthy is inconvenient: that it is something that just “happens” for some people without any effort while they themselves seem to have to bend over backwards to eat well and exercise. Why is there such a difference between people when it comes to making healthy choices?
The core reason for this difference is all in how you look at things.
Example 1: Healthy folks tend not to take their health for granted. Unhealthy folks tend to live in denial and turn a blind eye as they make poor decisions (i.e. “Sure, I shouldn’t eat this donut, but the donut shop is conveniently on my way to work/my house.”). Uhm yeah. That excuse is about as lame as saying that you don’t eat healthy because life is too short and you just want to eat whatever you want and not “worry” about it. Would you rather “worry” about getting diabetes? Heart disease? Fatty liver? Looking awful in your favorite pair of jeans? You don’t have to “worry” about eating healthy food. You can choose to eat nutritious food that tastes great if you inconvenience yourself with a little more planning. The time you take to eat healthier is less inconvenient than all of the consequences I just listed if you don’t.
Example 2: Healthy folks tend to make movement a priority and include healthy lifestyle behaviors into their daily activities. Unhealthy folks don’t bother.
Choosing activities that get your body moving rather than often being sedentary definitely requires more physical effort. The benefit: it feels good if you do it regularly! Furthermore, you’ve all heard the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” It’s true. Use it. Go for a walk sometimes instead of sitting around. Choose active recreational activities: bowling, dancing, golfing, hiking, walking on the beach collecting beach glass, gardening…there are so many options even if you aren’t in shape. Exercise helps you reduce stress, improve your health and build your confidence. Isn’t that worth the “inconvenience”?
Example 3: Healthy folks tend to prepare their own meals. Unhealthy folks tend to eat out more. Yes, when you cook at home you have to grocery shop, prepare the meal and clean up afterward, but most dining out doesn’t save you much time. Instead of doing it yourself, you have to wait to order your food, wait to receive your meal, and wait again to pay the bill. You really aren’t saving yourself time especially when you consider the years you are taking off of your life by eating poorly. Plenty of health food stores offer cooking classes that are either free or inexpensive. If you don’t know how to cook, do something about it. You will save yourself plenty of money when you do your own cooking.
So really, making decisions that lead to ill health may be more convenient in some respects, but greatly more inconvenient in others. Waiting to see doctors because you get sick more often, having to take time off of work to nurse your health back and waiting in restaurants are all ways that not choosing healthier living is more inconvenient. Taking extra time to shop for clothes, decide what to wear, and second guess yourself is all pretty inconvenient as well.

Not feeling good in your own skin, not being able to participate in activities you would enjoy if you were fit, not being able to play with your kids or your partner because you are too out of shape and lack energy, and not being able to comfortably put on your shoes…that’s not only inconvenient: it just plain sucks.
Life is too short to not “inconvenience” yourself in ways that improve your health and improve your quality of life.
Don’t make excuses. Don’t assume you can’t do it. You can choose health in small, easy ways every day as I mentioned. If you need help taking the next steps, help is right here.