What is LISS Cardio?

Have you ever heard of LISS cardio? I had not for a long time, but this year I have seen more and more people posting about LISS cardio. So I thought, what is that?

It turns out that LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State. It’s all about doing at least 45 minutes of low intensity cardio, 65-75% of your max effort. Yes, this is the long, steady, and sometimes boring, type of cardio that is typically hated. To perform LISS, you can walk, run (at your own comfortable pace), hop on the elliptical, or hike! It may be boring at times, which is why I like to run or walk outside for my LISS. Unfortunately, I have something going on with my ankle so I am out of running commission right now, so I walk or do the elliptical. 

It’s so easy to take yourself outside and walk for 1 hour. And it’s summer! This is the time to get outside. Fall is right around the corner — which I am PUMPED about — so now is the time to enjoy the heat before it starts creeping away. I think Summer and Fall are the best times to be outside, so I like to get out verse staying inside. It doesn’t always happen and plans can change due to weather, but it is so worth it. 

How does LISS cardio help with weight loss?

It’s important to mix up your routine. I’m a big fan of running, swimming, walking, hiking, HIIT (high intensity interval training), strength training, LISS cardio and doing other fun active things like kayaking, bike riding, and playing tennis. It’s important to mix it up so that your body doesn’t get too used to your preferred type of exercise. 

Think about it. We exercise to work our bodies, exercise certain muscles, improve our health, improve our strength, and for several other reasons, but our bodies are brilliant. They adapt. They get stronger. If you are working your body the same way over and over, your body will adapt, get stronger and that work won’t really be much work anymore. We need to change it up.

How do I do that? Easy! Mix up your favorite exercises and activities throughout the week to make up your weekly plan. Do different things on different days, change the time or the intensity (by taking it up or down) or try something completely new! If you have something you love, like running, you can change up the distance, your intensity, your course, or do intervals. There are so many ways you can do this. The options are seriously limitless. Change it up any way you can.

You don’t have to go crazy with it, but aim to do it differently 1 day a week if you typically perform the same exercise 3 times per week. So for running, if you have your course that you love and always do it the same way — maybe you just try to run your best each day (that’s what I typically do) — stick to that 2 days out of the week and do 1 “change up” run. It can be a day of speed work or a day of longer distance where you work a little harder to kick it up at the end. Make it work for you. 

How does LISS work into this? Like I said before, it’s part of mixing it up. But it’s also how our bodies perform during LISS cardio. When you get too fatigued or are working really hard, your body stops using fat for fuel and looks for other sources of immediate energy like blood sugar and muscle glycogen (think immediate sources of energy, like the ones you get from carbs and sugar). When you perform 45-60 minutes of LISS cardio, your body is mostly using fat for fuel. 

How do you control this? Target heart rate. At 120 beats per minute or less, your body will most likely be using fat as it’s main fuel source. Looking to lose fat? Then LISS is for you. Incorporate LISS cardio into your workout routine and see how your body changes. Ready? Let’s make a plan. 

The plan…

A good game plan is to workout or get significant exercise 5-6 days a week. I’m all for get up and move as much as you can, but I also believe in having a rest day. Relax and recharge.

So if you are exercising regularly 5-6 days a week and prefer to “go hard,” you can perform LISS 2-3 days a week and go harder on the other days. 3-4 hard days a week is really good. By incorporating LISS and a rest day, you are allowing your body to recover and still stay active. You are still elevating your heart rate and working your body, just not so intensely. You’re up and you’re moving — you’re doing your body good. 

Want to do more LISS or primarily LISS? No problem! You can be a LISS cardio queen or king and still transform your body. For those who prefer exercising primarily through LISS cardio (think walkers and steady runners), you can do your thing 5, 6 or 7 days a week! The great thing about LISS is that it is low intensity and should typically be less stress on your body.

Walking is the picture perfect way to perform LISS. You can walk your heart out every morning, afternoon or evening and then sprinkle in other forms of exercise throughout the week. Maybe 2 days a week you take a kickboxing or boot camp class, maybe you do yoga, pilates or do some strength training. It’s up to you. My suggestion is to do something that requires strength. Yoga and pilates are fantastic and gentle ways to improve your strength and work your muscles. Need to bump it up or tailor the workout specifically to your capabilities? Strength train in a way that works for you. You can get help from a personal trainer, watch videos online, take a class — whatever, just make sure you are doing the exercises properly so you don’t hurt yourself.

By mixing and matching your exercises and workouts and incorporating LISS to your routine, you can and will transform your body. Of course it is also best to pair your routine with healthy eating habits and to make this routine a habit. Consistency is the biggest key. Stay consistent, and you are on the road to reaching your goals.

Til next time! 🙂

Good food. Good moves. Good tips. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

How to Recover from Vacation the Healthy Way

Recovering from vacation the healthy way.


We often return from vacations, weekends away or long holiday weekends feeling like we need to turn up our healthy habits and recover from the weekend damage. The 4th of July is just around the corner so it’s the perfect time to be discussing this. I also just returned from vacation and implemented these methods to bounce back to my pre-vacation self.

In order to bounce back, you do not need to go to any extremes. That means no skipping meals, no 3 hour workouts, nothing like that. All you need to do is get back to your regular routine and stick to this guide: 

1. Workout hard. I don’t mean go crazy or do something you aren’t trained for. I simply mean work your hardest. Do not half-ass it. I’ve recently been working out for 1 hour, going hard for probably 45 minutes and using the remaining 15 minutes for my in-between rests and stretching at the end of my workout. Intensity is more important than duration and will give you better results faster. HIIT workouts are a great way to do this. I will provide more details about my workout below.

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2. Eat 3 meals a day. Eat a nutritious and satisfying breakfast, lunch and dinner. Shy away from snacking. I will outline what my meals are typically like below.

3. Snack with a juice. I lied a little bit. You can snack and you should snack. But only on one thing — green juice. It can be fresh or an organic cold-pressed juice like SUJA, Evolution Fresh, Blue Print or something else like that. But make it organic and cold-pressed. Also look for a juice with greens and lemon. Wheatgrass and ginger are good things to look for too. IMG_3444   IMG_3718IMG_4138

If you do this for 3 days, you can do a green juice on your first and third day and another kind of vegetable juice on your second day. Something like beet or carrot with apple is a great choice. (click images to enlarge)

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4. Drink lots and lots of water. Drink. Drink. Drink. Try to drink half your body weight in water. So if you weigh 130 pounds, I want you to drink 65 ounces of water throughout the day. It also helps do drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning upon rising, before each meal and before bed. This helps with digestion and is really good for your internal organs.

5. Add lemon and/or mint to your water. I prefer to drink plain water when I first wake up, before I eat and before bed. My other water, throughout the day, typically has some mint leaves or lemon slices and mint leaves. Both are great for cleansing the body, fighting off cravings, healthy digestion, detoxifying and work as natural diuretics.

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6. Sleep and be patient. Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night and just be patient. Your body needs time to get back to its “normal.” It will take a few days, maybe 3-4. You can follow this guide for as many days as you like. You can even use it as a guide for weight loss.


In more detail…

The workout: I typically start my workouts with some form of cardio. I do this because I enjoy it and it makes me feel good. If you hate cardio, make sure you at least warm up with a brisk 5 minute walk, some jumping jacks, some squats and a side-to-side step with a punch. You want to move and target as much of your whole body as you can to lubricate the muscles.

My cardio is usually running, but I injured my heel a few weeks ago and cannot run. Therefore, I’ve been biking for cardio. I go on the spin bike and bike for 20-30 minutes depending on the day. I do intervals of moderate to high intensity. I’ve typically been doing 20 minutes because my HIIT and strength training circuits are pretty tough and I want to reserve some good energy.

My circuit or HIIT session for the day is one of the following: (I rotate and sometimes mix it up)

  1. Either the leg, arm or ab workout from Kayla Itsines’ free workout guide. You can download it from her website — go to download now.
  2. The drill pictured above from SWEAT Fitness. I do it twice through along with the following drill.
  3. A 2 move drill of squats and squat thrusts. You will do a decreasing count of the two moves in circuit form. If you workout regularly, I’d say you can start with a count of 15 and do another 5 or 10 if you complete it and feel you can do more. Better to be safe than sorry! Okay, so you do 15 squats (weighted or not) followed by 15 squat thrusts, 14 squats followed by 14 squat thrusts, 13 squats followed by 13 squat thrusts… until you get to 0. Make sense? Do it and do not stop until you get to 0.

The meals: If you have a healthy routine, get back to it. If you need some guidance, this is what I usually do for breakfast, lunch and dinner:

  • Breakfast: Superfood Protein Oats — cook oats with egg whites, 1 tsp coconut or coconut palm sugar, 1 tbs Nutribullet SuperFood SuperBoost mix (chia, goji, cacao, maca), 1 tbs organic almond butter or peanut butter, 1-2 tsp ground flaxseed or wheat germ and 1 diced banana. To make the oats with egg whites: cook your oats for close to 2 minutes, whisk in 1 egg white or 1/4 c egg whites and cook for another minute.
  • Lunch: Big Green Smoothie — spinach, fruit (usually 4-5 whole strawberries, frozen mixed berries, frozen peach slices and/or cantaloupe — just mix up what you want), 2 tbs hemp protein or 1 scoop of your favorite protein, 1 tbs Nutribullet SuperFood SuperGreens, 1 tbs Nutribullet SuperFood SuperBoost or Fat Burning Boost or Energy Boost, coconut water and unsweetened almond milk.
  • Dinner: Salad with Veggies and Chicken — I like to make a big salad loaded with organic romaine lettuce, organic carrots, organic tomato, organic cucumber and top it off with some almonds and organic raisins. This has been my favorite way of making my salad as of late. I love the tiny bit of sweetness that the raisins add. I get Earthbound Farm organic raisins and use 1/2 a box per salad. If you don’t like raisins, you can simply slice and toss in some grapes. Pineapple is also a nice addition. But choose 1 fruit, no more. I also use 1 whole heart of romaine, so this is a big salad. I then dress my salad with some organic extra virgin olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar. Yum!

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  • If you need more — Like I said above, I suggest you have a juice somewhere in your day. I typically have mine somewhere between lunch and dinner. If you need some more sustenance, that’s perfectly fine. Here are some things you can have with your juice to hold you over until dinner:

1. Raw Revolution Bar — they sell full size and minis! Perfect. I love Spirulina Dream.

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2. Two Mom’s in the Raw Granola Bar — only have 1/2

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3. Quest Bar — choose a flavor without sucralose! My favorites are chocolate peanut butter and double chocolate chunk. If you like Quest bars, have 1/2 alongside your smoothie and the other 1/2 alongside your juice.

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4. A small handful of nuts and/or seeds — whatever you like but make sure there are no added oils. You simply want the nut or seed. That’s it. These are my favorites:

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With this you should be good. Stick to your workouts, healthy eating and water drinking for 3-4 days and you should bounce back to normal pretty fast! And remember to take rest days with your workouts. After 3-4 days, take a rest day. Your body needs to recover. Rest by walking, taking a yoga class or just spending the day out and moving around gently. Recovery without any extremes… that’s the way to do it!

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

 

 

Osteoporosis Awareness and Body Regeneration

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your health and wellness?

Your heart? Your fat percentage? Your endurance and ability to engage in physical activity? Those are all important factors when it comes to our health, and they are probably the factors that get the most attention. But what about your bones? May is Osteoporosis Awareness month, so I’d like to talk a little bit about our amazing bones, bone health and osteoporosis prevention.

“Osteoporosis accounts for more time spent in the hospital than diseases like diabetes, heart attack and breast cancer among women over 45. . . . One out of every two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. The most serious osteoporotic fractures are hip fractures.”   -The American Recall Center

I find that most people don’t think about their bone health until a later age, and I think it might all be because of perception. As you can glean from the information above, women over the age of 45 and men over 50 are at highest risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis related injury. How often do we hear that? A lot. Probably because it happens a lot, so awareness is targeted at those who are at risk. But how does that make sense? Shouldn’t awareness be something all people are, well, aware of? And what about prevention? “Children and teenagers form bone faster than they lose bone,” and shouldn’t they know that? They are at the prime age for setting their bodies up for success later in life. And by starting healthy habits early, they are more likely to carry them out for the rest of their lives. Isn’t that what we want? I find that most people are under the impression that young people can do whatever they want because they are young and “bounce back.” When in reality, that is so far from the truth.

Our bodies are constantly regenerating themselves. No matter our age.

Yes, our bodies are constantly regenerating themselves. That means our bones and our organs are regenerating, or remaking themselves, every few years. This gives truth to the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Your body takes the nutrients from what you eat and drink to remake bones and organs. Typically this process slows down as you age. Of course you can’t slow down or stop the aging process, but there are other things you can do to give your body it’s best fighting chance. You do not have to be “at risk” just because of your age, and you do have to care for your body as long as you can. I refuse to believe that young people can eat and drink whatever they want and that a number will defy what you and I can do.

So what exactly is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. Your bones become porous and weak, putting you at risk for fracture or break.

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What can you do specifically to uphold good bone health? Practice healthy lifestyle habits such as following healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.

Food for good bone health: opt for organic food from grass-fed animals and seasonal produce

  • Organic, grass-fed, full-fat dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Fresh fish: sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna
  • Organic fruit: tomato, raisins, papaya, oranges, bananas, plantains, prunes, grapefruit, strawberry and pineapple
  • Organic vegetables, especially dark leafy greens: collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, spinach, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, dandelion greens, beet greens, artichoke, red and green peppers, and brussels sprouts
  • Although they were not part of this list, avocado and almonds are also good for bone health

Exercise for good bone health:

  • Weight-bearing exercises: running, dancing, hiking, jumping rope, aerobics, walking, stair climbing and tennis are a few examples of high and low-impact exercises
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises: lifting weights, using resistance bands, lifting your own body weight and practicing functional movements such as standing and rising on your toes
  • Yoga and Pilates are other forms of exercise that will improve strength and flexibility, but be careful if you have a pre-existing risk of bone injury or already have osteoporosis. In this case, modifications will likely have to be made for certain moves and poses. If you do not have any type of bone-related issue, you should not have to worry.

Osteoporosis is serious, common and costly. “Osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones and $19 billion in related costs every year. By 2025, experts predict that osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately three million fractures and $25.3 billion in costs each year.” You have the choice – invest in your health now or pay for it later. This goes not only for osteoporosis but for every chronic disease. Your lifestyle will determine your future, not statistics. Make a change and give yourself a better future.

For more information on bone health and osteoporosis prevention, please visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

How I Feel About Specific Diets and Weight Loss

(sigh)… Well, every so often something comes along that makes us just say, “Wow. Really?” And this is one of those things. Currently trending on Facebook is a video from Jimmy Kimmel Live! of people who are gluten-free and don’t even know what gluten is. While the video is funny, it is also just plain sad. I mean, c’mon people. If you are going to avoid something — no matter what it is — you should know what it is and why you are avoiding it.

Google Images

Google Images

I feel like there is a specific-diet epidemic going on right now. I personally follow a whole food diet, eating mostly organic whole unprocessed foods. I do try to opt for naturally gluten-free foods when I have the option, and I like to keep my gluten intake to a minimum. The gluten that I do ingest mainly comes from organic whole unprocessed foods like organic sprouted bread and organic oats. My reason for watching my gluten intake is that I have hypothyroidism and there is a ton of research that suggests gluten is not hypothyroid friendly. So I am conscious of my intake and try to keep my it to a minimum. Whether you have a medical reason, want to explore the elimination or simply feel better avoiding something, just know what it is and why! Otherwise, you are just a fool. And the Jimmy Kimmel video proves it.

As a believer, follower and practicer of holistic health and nutrition, I agree that every body is different. I believe that a diet full of organic whole unprocessed food is a great place to start when making a dietary change. Ditch the processed food, abandon the fast-food and start eating fresh food from nature. Another important part of this process is paying attention to your body. Test, explore and figure out what works for you. Nothing says that you have to be a vegan, gluten-free, raw vegan or paleo in order to be healthy. Your body tells what you have to be in order to be healthy. Listen to it. What works for me may not work for you. Some people have serious medical reasons, intolerances and sensitivities that lead them to obtain a specific diet. Their body is telling them, “Hey! Something isn’t right here!”

Google Images

Google Images

There could also be a personal or ethical reason why someone chooses to follow a specific diet. And I firmly stand behind anyone who does just that. Your body is your body. If you want to eat a certain way, then do it. However, I do advise and hope that each person put their health first. I do not recommend following a specific diet for the sole purpose of losing weight. That is not a long-term method to keeping weight off, and you are likely to be miserable during the entire process. Just change your lifestyle. Find something that works for you and something that means something to you. The intrinsic motivation from an inner desire or purpose is a very powerful and lasting tool. I actually think it is necessary for long-term health and success. Most importantly though, follow the diet correctly. Eat the most food you can by eating all the variety of foods open to you. You do not want to create a hormone imbalance or nutrient deficiency from improper nutrition. Like I said, nobody knows what is best for you better than you and your own body. If you need some guidance, you can start by checking out this article and asking yourself these 4 questions.

So if you are following a specific diet or thinking of adopting one, please:

  • Know what the specific diet is: what you eat, what you do not eat and why
  • Have a reason: medical, ethical, personal, or what have you
  • Do not do it for the sole purpose of losing weight
  • Put your health first: get checked for proper hormone levels and vitamin/mineral deficiencies (this is a big one! do not create an imbalance or a deficiency in your body by cutting out foods/nutrients that you need!)
  • Ask yourself these 4 questions

Want to read more about this topic? Here are 3 articles that I really enjoy in relation to specific diets and how following one can be the wrong decision for you:

  1. The Truth About the 80-10-10 Diet
  2. 5 Types of People Who Think They Are Healthy Eaters (But They’re Really Not)
  3. How I Made My Way from Strict Vegetarianism All the Way Back to Chicken

Looking to shed some pounds? I know, I know… summer is around the corner! I’m working on myself right now too, but that doesn’t mean we all need to go to extremes or be miserable. I am working on becoming more mindful and sticking to what I know works best for my body. While I make excellent food choices, I have made some other slip ups. So, I am now regrouping and working hard to stick to what works for me.

Here are my tips for losing weight without going to extremes:

  1. Eat whole foods and cut out processed foods
  2. Eat 3-4 well-portioned balanced meals a day
  3. Be active every single day — even if it means going for a 10-20 minute walk (here’s a great way to fit in some moves every day — the treadmill desk!)
  4. Sit down and eat your meals mindfully; do not eat on the go or standing up while multi-tasking
  5. Stop eating out so much
  6. Do not make yourself miserable — eat food you enjoy and find exercises you enjoy
  7. But challenge yourself — try to broaden your horizons with different foods and challenge yourself in your workouts (if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you)
  8. Get outside — get up and do more things outside, it should lift your mood and force you be more active
  9. Sleep
  10. Enjoy indulgent foods in small portions

Those are my main tips for losing weight. None of them are extreme and none of them should make you miserable. These are all things I try to do when I want to slim down. Want more? Here are two articles related to natural weight loss including foods that could help you slim down:

Those are my thoughts. Specific diets are everywhere these days, and I find that many people resort to them when they want to lose weight without thinking about the impact these diets can have on their health when they aren’t followed or supplemented properly. Not to say that it can’t be done. Certainly, it can be. Just know what you are doing and why. Be smart, be safe, be happy, be healthy. That’s all I want for you.

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy the following posts by my blogging friends from around the web pertaining to specific diets and dietary changes:

  1. Anxiety: What’s in Your Head Can be Related to What’s in Your Gut
  2. Paleo Weight Loss Tips

B. Butter – 100% natural and organic triple-use moisturizer

“Your skin is so clear!” These five words were actually said to me yesterday. And I don’t think they have ever been said to me before. While I never had a major skin problem with my face, I was never one to receive compliments on my skin. Yet, it seems that the way I’ve recently been treating my skin has had an apparent effect on my face. Along with practicing healthful lifestyle habits, I’ve made several changes to my skin-care regimen. The most significant change has been my choice of moisturizer. I have gone from using big name moisturizers to using — and loving  hand-made organic B. Butter.

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click to learn more

B. Butter is a 100% natural and organic triple-use moisturizer that can be used on your skin, lips and hair. B. Butter is made by hand in small batches with only 5 pure ingredients: Fair Trade grade A organic unrefined shea butter, organic unrefined golden jojoba, organic unrefined extra virgin coconut oil, sweet almond oil and essential oils — lavender, peppermint, or rose. I have used the lavender and peppermint and loved them both! So far, the peppermint is my favorite because of the unbeatable scent and refreshing sensation.

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click to shop

The moisturizing power of B. Butter is unlike anything I have ever used before. You can see, smell and feel the quality of B. Butter the instant it is in your hands. What makes it so great? The pure ingredients of B. Butter are packed with naturally occurring vitamins A, D, E and K, essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, and anti-inflammatories. Your skin will be moisturized, soft and glowing. Everyone will be telling you how amazing your skin looks.

In addition to using B. Butter every day, I have also been good to my skin by:

  • Washing my face less often, usually once a day (sometimes twice, but rarely) + using B. Butter after every face wash and shower
  • Leaving my face makeup-free (I very rarely wear any face makeup now. I like to go bare and just use mascara, sometimes paired with eyeliner)
  • Eating well — plenty of fresh organic whole foods
  • Exercising — yes, exercise is good for your skin! (read How Exercise Makes You Pretty and Improve Your Skin with Exercise)
  • Drinking plenty of water (at least 72 ounces a day)

By washing my face less often, moisturizing with B. Butter and leaving my skin free of makeup has drastically changed my skin. Remember, your skin is your largest organ! And being on the outside, it is constantly exposed to chemicals and toxins in the environment. Therefore, chemical-free skin care is so important, and your skin will certainly benefit from a more natural skin-care regimen.

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read more

To learn more about B. Butter, click here to read about B. Butter uses and here to read about B. Butter and the creator, Elizabeth Taylor. I have had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth through my internship with Bliss Out Retreats, and she is such a sweetheart. It’s so nice to know that this great product comes from such a kind, sweet person. I urge you to give B. Butter a try. You will not regret it. (Hint: it also makes a great gift) If you decide to try out B. Butter, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you think.

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

If you liked this post, you may also like these chemical-free/DIY posts by my blogging friends around the web:

  1. Soap Nuts – Best all natural DIY laundry solution ever! by Cheerfully Imperfect
  2. Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution by Lindsay Dahl
  3. Simple DIY Carpet Freshener and Deodorizer with Essential Oils by Overthrow Martha
  4. Bug Off! by Ribas with Love
  5. Avoid Chemicals in Cosmetics When Pregnant by Lindsay Dahl

If you liked this post and are interested in other ways you can use coconut oil for beauty purposes, check out these posts:

  1. Easy DIY Lavender Coconut Oil Lip Balm by Overthrow Martha
  2. Coconut Oil Uses for Teeth and Body by Actual Organics
  3. A Skeptics Take on Oil Pulling by Lindsay Dahl
  4. Dry Skin by Ribas with Love
  5. Troubleshooting the Oil Cleansing Method by Overthrow Martha

Getting Started on Real Food + The Worst Nutrition Advice in History

Hi friends! Are you thinking about adopting a real food lifestyle? Or are you past the thinking stage and ready to start but don’t know where to begin? Advice and tips are everywhere these days, thanks to the trusty — or not so trusty — internet, and it can get confusing. Nutrition is probably the only field where one can prove opposing theories true. With that said, I think we need to go back to the basics and trust our common sense. Because for me, most of it is common sense. And it can be for you to! You just have to ignore all the nonsense and stick to a few basic principles.

Photo: Google Images

Photo: Google Images

We need to stop complicating nutrition and breaking everything down so much. We are beating this stuff into the ground and making it more complicated for ourselves. Of course there is a time and a place for the nitty-gritty; we do need to understand the science of it after all, but I think we have created this unfortunate habit of taking it a little too far. People end up getting confused, frustrated, and just lost in it all. Therefore, they end up throwing their hands in the air saying, “I can’t do this. This is too much. I can’t keep up.” But when you follow a few basic principles, you will see how easy it really is and how it all leads back to basic common sense. So I’ve done a little research and some of my findings were happily stumbled upon in my free time — I peruse sites dedicated to running and holistic health just for fun. So let’s begin and take a look at what I found.

1. How to get started on real food.

Start small. What I always try to tell people who are working on making a change is to start small. Set maybe two small goals that you can achieve at a time. Give yourself two weeks to carry out these goals, then try to tackle a new one. Two weeks later, another. And keep going until you have implemented the change you want. These goals do not have to be crazy or extreme like eliminate everything that isn’t organic from your home. That is extremely overwhelming. I am not even at that level. I’m not even sure I’ll ever be at that level.

So what is an appropriate small change to make? Take a look at your lifestyle and acknowledge any “processed habits” you may have: do you drink soda? do you frequently eat fast-food? do you buy a number of snack foods at the grocery store? A good first goal to have is to limit your intake of processed foods and beverages. If you are a soda drinker, your first goal can be to have 2 sodas a week, max. After two weeks, see if you can go with 1 soda and then 0. It may be a challenge, but you will be better for it. Also, keep in mind that your first two weeks does not call for you to quit cold turkey. Instead of focusing on the fact that you only get 2 sodas, focus on the fact that you will be drinking soda. Change your perspective.

If you frequently visit fast-food joints, I am going to recommend that you replace those fast-food meals with real meals. Period. As much as I hate soda, I think I hate fast-food more. There’s no particular reason behind it, they are both awful for you, but I think it’s easier to replace a fast-food meal with a delicious real-food meal. There are more options. When trying to replace soda with a natural alternative, people can be very picky and sometimes difficult to work with. Why? Because sugar is addicting and soda is loaded with sugar. Diet soda? Loaded with artificial sweeteners that are worse than real sugar and make you want more soda. So weaning yourself off the soda and kicking the fast-food to the curb would be my advice. However, if you are a rockstar and ready to ditch the soda right off the bat, then be my guest! Some natural alternatives are fruit enhanced water or fruit enhanced seltzer water. This will be 100% natural carbonated water. No flavors. No ingredients. No additives. Infuse it with your own fresh fruit like lemon, lime, strawberries, and even mint. Delicious 🙂 Plus, it will quench your thirst and be more refreshing. And those processed snacks? Replace them with fruits, vegetables, smoothies, organic granola bars, organic tortilla chips, organic yogurt, organic granola, and other reliable snacks. For packaged foods you can snack on and trust, check out my post Snack Attack! Part One: Out and About. Part two, with homemade snacks and goodies, is coming your way soon!

Ready to take it up a notch? You’ve ditched the soda, fake iced tea (you can easily make your own if you love iced tea, it doesn’t have to be something you give up), fast-food and processed snacks, now let’s get a little more into it…

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2. Make your food real, whole and organic (majority of the time).

Does your food have an ingredient list? Then be cautious. Read it. Make sure the ingredients are pure and whole, not things concocted in a lab. Try to build your diet on rich, nutrient dense whole foods — majority of which do not have a label.

This includes:

  • organic produce = vegetables + fruit (anything with a thick peel that you do not ingest, you can get conventional if you want)
  • organic whole grains [organic oats, quinoa, brown rice, organic sprouted bread]
  • organic/grass-fed meat and dairy products [full fat organic dairy: yogurt and milk]
  • healthy fats and oils [coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, organic grass-fed ghee and coconut ghee, avocado, nuts and seeds]
  • superfoods [chia seeds, flaxseed, hempseed, cacao, maca powder, fermented foods, kombucha, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, goji berry]
  • try to eliminate GMOs

This may sound like a lot, but just break it down and try to tackle one step at a time. Here’s a great article, from Kirsten at Cheerfully Imperfect, on how to get started on real food by implementing these changes. Quick tip: when you are shopping, shop the perimeter of the store and avoid the middle aisles. That is where you will find most of the chemically laden processed foods.

Worrying about conflicting information? “Eat whole eggs!” “Use coconut oil!” “Fat will kill you.” “Saturated fat is horrible!” It goes on and on. Like I said, nutrition can prove true a lot of conflicting information. The only trust-worthy truth teller is time. And over time, we have been advised to avoid fat, especially saturated fat. Well, where are we now? Fatter and unhealthier than we have ever been. Except, that’s all starting to change. There is a major real food movement going on and it is awesome. More people are learning that fat, especially saturated fat, will not kill you. In fact, it has a multitude of health benefits. It just has to be from the right source.

So, here is an article with the top 5 contenders for the worst nutritional advice in history. The contenders are:

  1. Throw away the egg yolks, the most nutritious part of the egg
  2. Everyone should eat a low-fat, high carb diet
  3. A calorie is a calorie
  4. Use polyunsaturated vegetable oils for cooking
  5. Replace butter with margarine

If you already eat plenty of fresh natural produce, you can kick-up your real food mission by going against these ^ rules. Conventional nutrition has pushed this advice for years and it has gotten us nowhere. Therefore, it is best  to:

  1. Eat the yolks! Eggs are nature’s multivitamin. They are a source of life and contain healthy cholesterol. Do not worry about the yolks.
  2. Eat the fat! Healthy sources of fat are: organic/grass-fed meat and dairy, coconut oil, sustainably sourced palm oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, organic/grass-fed butter and ghee
  3. Know that all calories are not equal. Real food will always, always be better than processed foods. No matter the calorie count.
  4. Use butter, ghee and/or coconut oil for cooking. Olive oil can be used at low temps, 200 degrees F and below (best at room temperature stored in a cool, dry and dark place).
  5. Always choose butter. I also like to use organic grass-fed coconut ghee because I loooove the taste, especially on a piece of toast 🙂

Runners: are you thinking, “How am I possibly supposed to fuel myself for my hard and long runs eating like a bird?!” You will not be eating like a bird, and you will be nourishing your body so well that your running will probably benefit from implementing these changes. While it is best to eat a majority of fresh produce, you should be eating plenty of whole grains, fats, meat, milk and dairy — as pure and natural as you can get.

Here are some great tips for runners from an article that I stand behind 100% — How Good Nutrition Can Fuel Your Running.

  1. Cut out processed foods. We’ve talked about this ^.
  2. Stop obsessing about the protein. While protein is important, you do not need to go crazy. Try to eat a little protein with each meal and you’re set. I like to have a meal sized green superfood smoothie with protein after my runs and workouts. 
  3. Flood your body with nutrients. My post-workout green superfood smoothies do just this: flood my body with nutrients. This is how I like to recover and refuel. Bonus: berries, which are filled with antioxidants, are awesome post-workout because the antioxidants battle any free radicals and toxins that could be floating around your body after an intense workout. I usually toss a few whole strawberries into my smoothie and enjoy a small handful of blueberries while I put my smoothie together. Juices are also a great way to flood your body with nutrients!

My favorite juices: raw and organic (fresh or cold pressed)

  1. greens + apple + orange + lemon + ginger
  2. beet + carrot + orange + apple
  3. sweet potato + carrot + orange + pear… utterly life changing

If you need more convincing, here’s an article from the runner’s bible itself, Runner’s World: The Healthy Runner’s Diet.

The 6 rules of The Healthy Runner’s Diet:

  1. Eat seeds or foods made from seeds
  2. Eat 5 different colors of fruits and vegetables daily
  3. Eat plant foods with their skins intact
  4. Drink milk and eat milk products that come from [organic grass-fed] animals
  5. Eat foods that cold from [fresh] cold water

I have one word to say to these rules — YES!! Do these things and you are golden. See how all these things have overlap? That’s the common sense! Practice it, live it and before you know it, everything will become so second nature that you won’t even have to think about it.

I hope this wasn’t overwhelming, but I felt that all of these points and articles were really important to grasping the entire picture. Hopefully you see the overlap and how sticking to a few main points will keep you healthy, happy and fueled up for whatever you have ahead of you. Eat up, drink up and enjoy.

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

xo Kim, Running on Good

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the following posts regarding real food and avoiding chemicals by my blogging friends from around the web:

  1. Foods That Reduce Inflammation and Other Pain Relief Strategies by Mind Body Oasis
  2. How to Grow Your Own Greens by Ribas with Love
  3. Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging by Lindsay Dahl
  4. Natural Flu and Cold Remedy & Prevention by Overthrow Martha
  5. How to Make Almond Milk by Ribas with Love

Runner’s Race Day Nutrition: Sports Gel Alternatives

Have you ever wondered what’s in those Gu sports gels, Jelly Belly sports beans, and other mid-race sports products? I have. I’ve also been thinking, are there any healthier alternatives? I’ve done some thinking and research, and I think there is with proper planning and food/drink combinations.

This week, more than ever, I’ve been thinking a lot about nutrition for runner’s. Last weekend was filled with running inspiration as I was at the Boston Marathon expo on Saturday and the race itself on Monday. My brother-in-law, Tim, ran the marathon with the Multiple Sclerosis team, so my family and I went to support him and celebrate the Easter holiday.

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looking great at mile 10

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon at the marathon expo which was filled with everything you could possibly think of that is running related and then some. It was great to be surrounded by so many runners, supporters and vendors supporting the runners, the marathon, the city and the sport itself. That night, we attended the MS team dinner which ended with inspirational speeches from runners and coaches. It was an amazing experience and truly inspirational, but I couldn’t help but think of the nutritional side of everything. Seeing as I spend so much time thinking about and preparing food, it wasn’t that surprising. But Saturday got me thinking and Monday got me really thinking.

What first got me tossing ideas around were the free samples at the expo. There were protein drinks, protein bars, recovery drinks, electrolyte drinks, yogurt, pork, cereal, GU energy gels and much more. As expected, I passed on a lot of these samples. What I did have was Mama Chia (chia squeeze and beverage), Stonyfield Organic yogurt, a few pieces of a gluten-free protein bar (the one thing I normally wouldn’t have eaten), a delicious piece of pork, a sample of Vega Sport recovery accelerator and a sample of Nuun electrolyte enhancement. I made wise decisions with the exception of the protein bits — I’m human, it happens. Moving on. I kept thinking there has got to be a better way to prepare yourself for a race such as a marathon and keep you going during the marathon without subjecting yourself to chemically laden protein drinks and bars, GU gels, Jelly Belly Sports Beans and Gatorade.

The thing is, these companies want you to think that you NEED their product. And the truth is, you don’t. Whatever it is that’s supposed to make their product worth consuming, I guarantee you can find it in a more natural source. Some may say, “It’s one race on one day, it won’t kill you.” But that doesn’t matter to me. What about the runner that really cares about what he or she puts into his/her body each and every day? Or the runner that runs multiple marathons — are these chemically laden sports drinks and food-like products supposed to be a part of their training and racing each time? I don’t think it’s fair to declare that every runner needs these things. Because like I said, they don’t.

The next thing that got me thinking was how many bodies reacted to the weather on race day. Tim had said that he started cramping up around mile 17. One of his coaches, Karen Smyers (Worldclass triathlete, coach and speaker) also cramped up during the race (by the way, you should read Karen’s story; she is an unbelievable athlete and human being). We kept hearing how people cramped up and didn’t run the race they had hoped to run — or the run their training led them to believe they could run. It’s okay, it happens. There will be more races. But aside from the unusual heat, which certainly had something to do with it, I couldn’t help but wonder if the same thing would have happened if a different nutritional approach had been taken. Weather wise, there was nothing anyone could do–the runners trained in markedly cold temperatures and ran the real deal on an almost 70 degree sunny day. That heat and sweating is going to take its toll, especially when you haven’t been training and preparing in those conditions. Regardless, this all got me thinking. A lot. Even more so because I plan on running the New York City marathon in 2015 with Tim and two of my siblings. When my training time comes, I want to be prepared. So I did some thinking and then I did some research.

Low and behold, I was right! Others have been thinking exactly what I was thinking — there’s got to be a more natural way. Not only are these alternatives organic and natural, they actually benefit your body by nourishing it with real vitamins and minerals in addition to giving you that boost of energy you need. And the sugar? All natural.

Here’s the thing: First off, the goo. Some people have stomach issues with the gels–from an upset stomach to being constipated after the run. Others find them simply gross and are extremely thirsty after consuming the goo. All can be big problems. But let’s take a look at the facts.

One Gu Gel pack provides: 100 cals, 50 mg sodium, 35 mg potassium, and 25 g carbs. A very balanced dose of energy for runners, which is much needed during a marathon. But there are a few problems — none of it is real food and while it may “energize” you, that glycogen isn’t going to your muscles. When racing, your body mainly runs on carbs. The carbs provide your body with glucose to give it energy. Extra glucose gets stored as glycogen. When your body runs out of glucose, as it does in a long race, your body goes to its glycogen stores in your muscles and liver. During a race or other strenuous exercise over a long period of time, your body will turn to the glycogen in your muscles for energy. So, to prevent cramping and dying out, you want to feed your muscles glucose before they use up all their stored glycogen. BUT, all that simple sugar and fake stuff in the goo packet isn’t the best form of glucose for your body. Therefore, you won’t be absorbing, storing or using it efficiently. Instead of going to your muscles, it’s mainly going into your bloodstream — and the brain is what uses the glucose in your bloodstream. So while racing, you’ll get the sugar rush because that goo glucose is being used up by your brain, not your muscles, and you risk cramping. Your muscles can only store glycogen after the glucose has gone through the digestive system and your bloodstream, so you need to prepare and start fairly early in the game. Otherwise, the glucose doesn’t have time to make it’s way through the body and get to your muscles. When there isn’t enough for both your brain and your muscles, you start feeling hazy or dizzy (brain) or start cramping (muscles). Both are big problems. The best thing to do is have a healthy diet throughout your training, stick to real sources of food and energy, and fuel up sooner rather than later in your race.

If that doesn’t convince you, the goo is loaded with maltodextrin, fructose and preservatives. Also, has anyone noticed that the company name is Gu Energy Labs? It tells you right there. That’s enough of a problem for me. Your body needs to utilize what you give it and store properly. Do you really think maltodextrin, fructose from a lab and preservatives are going to enable your body to do that? No. You need real whole sources of energy — that only come from living food — and vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins to absorb everything properly. So let’s see how the natural alternatives stack up.

Here are my 7 alternatives to sports gels, goos, drinks and whatever else they’re concocting the in the lab these days:

  1. Mamma Chia Squeeze (gel/GU alternative): 70-80 cals, 8 mg sodium, 70 mg potassium, 10 g carbs; bonuses: 1200 mg omega-3 thanks to the chia seeds (read more about chia seeds and how they have been used to energize runners for years), organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, bpa free, ingredients: chia seeds, fruit + vegetable puree (depends on flavor) and citric acid
  2. Gerber Organic 2nd Foods Pouches Banana Squash (gel/GU alternative): 80 cals, 5 mg sodium, 310 mg potassium, 20 g carbs; bonuses: organic, lots of different flavors, ingredients: banana puree, squash puree, water, citric acid, vitamin C
  3. Made in Nature Raisins 1/4 c (bean/chew alternative): 130 cals, 10 mg sodium, 310 mg potassium, 31 g carbs; bonuses: organic, a whole food = 1 ingredient (raisins)
  4. Made in Nature Dried Apricots 1/4 c (bean/chew alternative): 110 cals, 0 mg sodium, 520 mg potassium, 25 g carbs; bonuses: organic, a whole food = 1 ingredient (apricots)
  5. Annie’s Organic Pretzels 32 pieces (pre-race fuel): 110 cals, 360 mg sodium, 39 mg potassium, 22 g carbs; bonuses: organic, minimal ingredients
  6. Justin’s Honey Almond Butter Squeeze Pack (gel/GU alternative): 190 cals, 65 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, 9 g carbs; bonuses: all-natural, minimal ingredients, gluten-free, 6 g protein, ingredients: dry roasted almonds, honey powder (sugar, honey), sustainably sourced palm fruit oil, sea salt
  7. Nuun Active Hydration 16 oz (Gatorade alternative): < 8 cals, 360 mg sodium, 100 mg potassium, 25 mg magnesium, 13 mg calcium, < 1 g carb; bonuses: no sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors

To get all the benefits you get from a gel, without all the stuff you don’t want from the gel, it seems to me that you would have to wisely combine your alternatives. Having not tested the theory out yet, something I do plan on doing, here is what I suggest runner’s do — try this theory out on a long run during training so you know whether or not it is a suitable approach for you on race day. Practice this routine on your long run days, 13+ miles, having exactly this and tweak it if a few things don’t work for you. That way, come race day, your body will be accustomed to this pre-race plan — a very smart move.

  • 3-4 hours pre-race, eat an energizing breakfast: oatmeal (1/2 c – 1 c, depending on how much your stomach can take) cooked in water with 2 egg whites added (or you can soak your oats overnight in milk & greek yogurt for a delicious chilled bowl of overnight oats) + 1 tbs raw honey stirred in + a banana (diced and mixed in) or raisins/another dried fruit + 20 ounces of water. Take it up a notch: keep everything, including the honey, but substitute the fruit for a green juice. Try greens (spinach/kale), cucumber, sweet potato, apple and orange. 
  • 90-70 minutes pre-race, have a snack: Annie’s Organic Pretzels (or another organic brand) + Justin’s Honey Almond Butter/Peanut Butter squeeze pack or a Mamma Chia squeeze pack or banana/dried fruit if you had a juice with breakfast + 1 Nuun tab in 16 ounces of water
  • During the race, fuel up every 45-60 minutes to prevent you from cramping and running out of energy stores. As discussed above, you need to prepare. Depending on the race (1/2 or full marathon) and your pace, your muscles can only store about 90 mins-2 hours worth of glycogen in your muscles. You also need to give your body time to digest your fuel and get that glucose to your muscles: fuel up with the Gerber pouches, Mamma Chia squeezes, dried fruit + a few ounces of Nuun. I suggest apricots for the dried fruit because they are larger and easier to eat than raisins — you could put a handful in a small ziplock bag and pop in 3 or 4 as needed. If you are fueling up 3 or more times in your race, I suggest getting a mix of the Gerber packs, Mamma Chia and apricots. When you re-fuel, take a few sips of your Nuun water — only a few ounces at a time.
  • After the race, be smart. You need to re-fuel your body but do not want to send it into shock with loads of sugar. Try chocolate milk or a green juice at first. Drinking will probably be easier than eating. When you can eat, go for a balanced meal with protein + carbs + natural sugar. A well packed smoothie would be a great option. Make it as big as you want — load that baby up with greens, chocolate milk, coconut water, hemp seeds or hemp protein/a good whey protein, fruit, and maybe some peanut/almond/sunflower/pumpkin butter (those with nut allergies, go for seed butter). Enjoy it slowly. Bonus: liquid/blended nutrition is more easily absorbed and you need to absorb those nutrients after a big race.

As with anything, it is smart to test this theory out before race day. Like I said, test it out on your long run days and see how you feel. Avoid processed foods while training and keep your body well fed. With the right foods, your body will know what to do. Incorporating green juices and recovery green smoothies into your training will nourish your body so incredibly well, I highly suggest giving it a try. Now get out there. Nourish, fuel up and run!

Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.

Running on Good, xo

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the following posts regarding natural living and avoiding chemicals by my blogging friends from around the web:

  1. Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging by Lindsay Dahl
  2. Natural Flu and Cold Remedy & Prevention by Overthrow Martha
  3. How to Make Almond Milk by Ribas with Love