What is Good Nutrition?

I’ve spent the last 45 minutes googling, scanning twitter, and staring at the nutrition books on my shelves. I want to write more substantive posts, and I was looking for inspiration. (Sidenote-I’ve learned so many cool things about physiology and the body that I’d love to go into!)

I kept drawing a blank. I thought about the government’s idea of good nutrition versus twitter’s versus my own. What is good nutrition? That’s such a loaded phrase. I’ve read so many nutrition books over the years, I’ve watched detailed metabolism lectures, I’ve gotten advice from various people. I’ve tried everything, I’ve gotten different results, I’ve felt better or worse. I also admit that I tend to think ‘good nutrition’ can fix anything in respect to my own health, even though I know that that is not scientifically rational (although it can play a big role in a lot of things).

I’ve gathered so much knowledge and so many ideas. But I’ve never really drawn together a formal outline of what this means to me.

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And honestly, as I’ve been sick these past few weeks, this is something I have to revisit. When I’m feeling gross, I have to wonder-what did I eat? Why is it having this effect?

It’s forcing me to slow down and THINK.

When talking about the definition of good nutrition, we first must consider the audience. Is it the general, highly overweight American population? Is it the marathon runner? The average healthy living blogger?

I’m going to say my beliefs are valid for anyone, but different for everyone. This may sound contradictory, but hear me out. Everyone is unique in what their bodies will need and run best on-this is insanely apparent to me as someone who used to eat yogurt every day and function amazingly on it and now can’t drink a glass of milk without getting sick.

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That being said, I think there are some IMPORTANT overarching concepts that can be generalized to the human body as a whole.

So what do I consider “good nutrition”?

1. Lots of fresh fruit and veggies. I think the scientific reasons for this are well proven, and no one will argues that he or she doesn’t feel better when loading up on fresh produce.

2. Minimally processed food. I firmly believe that a lot of the processing done to food has lead to the obesity problems today. Our bodies evolved to process nutrients a certain way, and the rate at which food has changed is much faster than we physiologically can evolve to adapt. That being said, I really don’t think we can say that “eating like our ancestors” is better solely for the reason that they were “healthier.” I’m not sure there is sufficient proof of that, and even so, there are so many other differences in lifestyle that I don’t think the two are comparable. From a hormonal and physiological perspective however, I think minimally processed food is the way to go. THAT BEING SAID-I’m not sure how practical it is with the American lifestyle today to avoid processed food. It’s so ingrained in our culture and social life, but that’s a whole other discussion for another day. But in a vacuum, only looking at nutritional content, minimally processed food is the way to go.

3. Fueling pre- and post- workout. I don’t if it’s just in my old age or what, but if I don’t eat anything before Crossfit, or if I don’t refuel, I feel like I’m going to pass out! Fueling workouts before and after is so, so important! Carbs before, protein and carbs after-as soon as possible after! The difference I feel when I have plenty of post-workout food is incredible!

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4. Avoid sugar. This is both a touchy subject and one I’m incredibly passionate about. Sugar metabolism is actually my favorite thing ever (although I’m a little rusty on it right now), and the effects are significant-especially the changes in hunger hormones! I truly believe that sugar plays a big role in obesity and is highly addictive. But again, I’m not sure how realistic it is to cut it out. But purely nutritionally speaking, it is doing some damage!

It’s interesting that all these years later, these are the things that have stuck with me. My view on nutritional has changed a lot over the years, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve.

I think my fundamental principles of┬ánutrition are┬ásomething to really keep in mind for me when blogging in the future. They were more present a year ago when I was taking a nutrition class, but in the middle of other things in my life, it’s really easy to just throw a post up with some pictures without really thinking about how they reflect my own principles. I think that it’s something that tends to get away from me, and part of holding on to these standards is that they help me maintain my passion for nutrition. Because I am no longer planning on having a career in nutrition, it is important for me that my blog stays true to itself and what I originally started it for.

What is “good nutrition” to you?

A Day in the Life Winter 2015

Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to do a day in the life post for a few weeks now, but things were so crazy it just wasn’t going to happen because I couldn’t think straight, much less keep track of not thinking straight! Here’s Wednesday-I have the most class on Wednesday than any other day.

7am: Wake up. Before my alarm! I went to bed plenty of early the night before. Prepare to run. Realize I’m feeling a little sick-not bad, just noticeable, and curse at my body for a little bit. Know that running will likely help.

Eat 2 dates pre-run.

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Break out my bright pants. I often wear these for morning runs because the odds I am going to not be seen by a car in these is 0.

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Realize I have to get my key off my key chain which is currently duct taped shut. My key ring likes to eject keys and last week that got me locked out. Angrily rip off duct tape.

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Today’s route is a hill run that I haven’t run yet this year! 5 miles, 3 off the road so I load up my audiobook-it turns out it actually did remember my place!

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7:45: Out the door for a run. The hill wasn’t as bad as I was expecting (I’ve run this 1000x) but I don’t feel bad about walking when it gets super steep. Plus, the view is too bad!

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(Note that this is an old picture because I won’t lug around my phone, it’s much greener now!)

8:45: Return to my dorm. My stomach feels better but not 100%, and I know breakfast could make or break how I’m feeling. Since it’s really hard for me to tell what aggrevates things, I’m trying really hard to eat intuitively and listen to what I feel might be good. I felt like a few sips of kombucha might help.

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I don’t think I’ve tried this flavor before, and it’s good! Then-breakfast time!

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Cheesy eggs look good, but cheese might be a problem for my stomach so I settle for regular eggs and some spinach from the cheesy eggs. Plus an apple and sun butter.

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I try to eat sloooowwwwllyy-if I eat the right amount of food and don’t get too full, I should be ok! I didn’t end up finishing this.

9:10: Start packing my lunch and packing up for backpack. If I do this before I shower, I’m much more likely to make it out on time. The lunch plan was a salad with hummus, goat cheese, and hardboiled eggs, but I switch it up because I didn’t wake up feeling 100%. Hummus sandwich!

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9:20: Shower+get ready. I hop out of the shower at 9:40 and am running late yet again!

9:53: leave for class.

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Don’t mind all the views from my beautiful campus. Oh, and it’s 70 and sunny today.

10-10:50: Physics lecture.

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11-12:15: Physics section. You may see this view on my blog a lot. It’s because between lecture, lab, office hours, and section, I basically live at the Physics building.

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12:15: Realize I should show you what I’m wearing! Bathroom selfies only will occur on day in the life posts.

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I also manage to snag my selfie of the day for #365daysofselfies. Not my best effort, but not terrible either.

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12:20: Lunchtime! Head over to my typical lunch/homework spot near the Physics building.

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Lunch is definitely messy. I think to myself how glad I am that I don’t typically run into people I know in this area! It’s a hummus sandwich with lettuce and hardboiled egg.

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12:40: Begin typing this post. Get slightly annoyed by how long my pictures are taking to upload-it ruins my blogging mojo!

1:08 Go to my token class in the quad. Did I mention my school is pretty?

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The quad is also beautiful at night. I walked around here at night last week and it was breathtaking.

1:15 Physiology section. Endocrine+reproduction.

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2:05: Snack+working on Chem homework.

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3:15-4:30: Comparative Physiology of Mammals. Today’s class is low key-we learn about the professor’s work with elephants! It’s nice to have a little break in intensity-the past two weeks I had a presentation and a midterm in that class!

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4:45: Watch Netflix because class let out early and I’m a college student.

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Then I spend some time doing reading and sending emails while waiting for dinner. I’m starving so I eat a single date because I don’t want to ruin my appetite!

6:30 I meet up with 2 friends for dinner downtown. We end up at a local diner, and are STARVING. I get a salad with chicken and a side of cornbread. Hit. The. Spot.

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8:30: Return to dorm to check Chem homework. I have a chocolate craving so I whip up a banana, coconut oil, cocoa powder, and a touch of maple syrup.

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It was delicious but ugh-chocolate is still bad for my stomach. Noted.

8:45-10: Talk about life and our passion for science with a friend. These informal dorm conversations are seriously one of the best parts about college!

Now: Thinking about what work I can do and when I should go to bed…I have no intentions of being up late though!

Waddling

First I was wrong. Then I was right. Now I’m waddling.

Which is another way of saying I’ve been hitting it hard on the workout front this week!

On Sunday morning, I did a fairly heavy, high volume leg day. I did 5 sets of 8 front squats and back squats, 4 sets of 8 RDLs, and 5 sets of 5 deadlifts. My legs were so shaky by the end. They say you never regret a workout, but I had a feeling I’d regret this all week when I couldn’t walk. I definitely fueled up post workout though-soymilk, pancakes, and Southwest Eggs Benedict with turkey.

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I was expecting to not be able to walk on Monday, but I actually felt ok. Definitely sore, but not the main muscles that inhibit walking and not in the super stiff way. My quads were pretty sore, which make biking painful, but other than that I was functional. Crossfit that morning included pull ups and back squats (although not too heavy), and then the WOD was:

3 rounds:

7 thrusters

30 kettlebell swings

15 burpees

FYI: that’s a lot of kettle bell swings! My shoulders were smoked.

That evening, I took a spin class because it has been far too long, and I don’t want my quarter pass to go to waste! I also did some abs.

And then I woke up this morning. Yeah. Second day soreness is definitely worse. I also think my abs are really sore, but that’s secondary to the pain and lack of mobility in my legs.

The last time I squatted, I wasn’t that sore in my left leg because I’m in the habit of favoring my right leg so this time I really focused on staying even. Yeah, my left leg is feeling it now. Ouch.

So I’m currently rocking a little waddle-walk. It’s cool.

I need to fit in a run later today for half training so I’m hoping my legs loosen up! Builds character?

In other news, my 9am class got cancelled this morning, which was amazing news because I was looking at a late night otherwise!

In more other news, we’re doing metabolism and the endocrine system in my physiology class right now, which is my favorite thing ever. I may potentially get excited about it all over again and do a post in the future-that counts as studying for my final, right?

On the food front, I need to make use of a lot of meal plan dollars, so I bought a whole bunch of snacks and probiotic drinks.

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I actually really liked this flavor!

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Sea salt caramel apple chips?? Of course I was going to try this! The sea salt was subtle-I would have loved a little more of it, but they were still quality apple chips.

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The other day I had a salad for lunch that was without significant protein because there were no eggs in the dining hall, so I was starving mid afternoon and picked this up. It’s kind of sad how few bars out there I can actually eat because they don’t have nuts…

What makes you waddle-sore?

 

Hellyer Park 5k Recap

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! It’s been a pretty busy one for my so far!

My weekend basically kicked off on Friday, since I only had one class. I began the morning with a nice little walk around campus. We have a “lake” that is empty 80% of the year, but actually has some water in it now! It used to be filled but due to environmental reasons it no longer is.

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It was such a great way to start the morning! I should go on more walks around campus!

Breakfast was eggs+a muffin.

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After class, I had lunch with my sister and mom at the dining hall. It was Parent’s Weekend, so my mom drove down fro a tour and then the sampling of dining hall food!

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I had a salad with a little salmon, delicious dijon brussels sprouts, and a piece of apple and bleu cheese flatbread and a piece of BBQ chicken pizza.

The rest of my day was very low key-I didn’t want to exert myself before a race! Dinner was out of my fridge-pumpkin soup with spinach and mushrooms added, topped with manchego and nutritional yeast, with a side of avocado and banana bread (separate!).

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I also made a little mug cookie-oats, Smart Balance butter, sunflower seed butter, and maple syrup. Yum!

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Saturday morning, I woke up ready to run! Pre-race breakfast was a homemade granola bar-although it wasn’t exactly in bar form because I was out of properly shaped bowls. It’s complicated. It consisted of banana, chia seeds, oats, cranberries, and a little maple syrup.

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The forecast for the day was rain, and given the fact that it rained for both of my 5ks last winter, I wasn’t optimistic. However, it held off and ended up being perfect running weather! Check out the dramatic sky-these 2 pictures were taken at the same time, at the same place, but of 2 sides of the pond.

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We got there with plenty of time to spare.

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Then, it was go time! There was a very large group of young girls running their first 5k. I think that’s awesome! However, it made for quite the hectic start!

It took me a little while to lock into my pace, but I was pretty consistent after that until about 2 miles, when my pace slowed a tiny bit. The course was out 2 miles, and back 1. Mentally, I actually really liked this! Its easier to break up that way in my mind! I ended up picking it up for the last half mile. I didn’t feel really tired until the very end, so I guess I’ll take it! I finished with a slightly faster pace than last month’s 5k-about 5 seconds per mile.

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Not my fastest, but good enough to earn me a bronze medal in my age group! Gotta love these small races.

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The rest of the day was pretty crazy. We stopped at Whole Foods for some post-race fuel, and then I rushed to the vet to work. I ended up working late, and had to rush to dinner with the family for my sister’s birthday!

We went to an Ethiopian place, which was delicious! For those of you not familiar with Ethiopian cuisine, it’s quite unique! Typically, all the dishes for the table are served on one platter. They serve injera, a spongy flatbread that you eat with the saucy foods. There is no silverware-it can get quite messy!

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After dinner, we headed back to my sister’s apartment for pineapple upside down cake.

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It’s been a good weekend so far!

Have you ever had Ethiopian food?

Getting Back to It

Hey guys! Here I am-back for a second straight day! I want to talk a little about getting back into health and healthy habits, but first, why don’t we take a look at the day?

My morning started with a spoonful of butterscotch sunflower seed butter. Yes, that exists.

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I then proceeded to lock myself out as I was leaving for my track workout. I keep my keys on a lanyard, and it has this fantastic habit of ejecting keys, so as the building door closed behind me, I realized my key had fallen off. Whoops!

My track workout was 10x400m. Guys, I have gotten SO much faster in the past month or so. I was killing my paces-my goal was 8:00 pace, and I was always under it. I was probably averaging a 7:45 for the first 5, and I picked it up for the very last one with tired legs for a 7:30 pace. I’m feeling optimistic about my race coming up! I also think I’m going to do a timed mile next week-it’s time!

Post workout, I went to the dining hall with the best pancakes.

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Is it weird that egg whites feel like kind of a treat? They’re so fluffy compared to the normal eggs I eat! I also went back for another pancake.

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Once back at my dorm, I had to wait a little bit for someone to let me in. It wasn’t too bad, but I was still running late. I pride myself highly in my ability to go from athletic to socially acceptable in a short amount of time though!

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(I haven’t mentioned this in a while, but I’m crazily getting near the end of my year of selfies-where did the time go??)

Class was class. We’re doing the endocrine system in Physiology which I like! I think Physiology is the coolest thing, and I’m excited I’m going into that field! I just want to know everything about everything.

Lunch was at the dining hall, and it was one I was pretty excited for. My favorite cabbage salad was on the menu, along with arugula, pear, and bleu cheese pizza.

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I had a little nonfat mango froyo for dessert.

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My afternoon was spent doing laundry and catching up on things. I broke in the late afternoon to hit up the gym for some spin. It’s been far too long since I’ve been on a bike, so I did a 45 minute ride on my own with about 20 minutes of HIIT intervals in the middle. Those are killer!

Since I had a snacky afternoon, I wasn’t super hungry for dinner so I went with a basic yogurt bowl with raisins, cereal, and sun butter.

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I haven’t had one of these in far too long, and it definitely hit the spot!

So…getting back into healthy eating, healthy habits, healthy living. One cool thing about having a blog is that you get to look back on old pictures and posts and see what you were eating a year or two ago, and what exercise you did, what your life was like. I’m not going to go on a rant about how I’ve been eating terribly and need to hop back on the bandwagon and be super strict and eat super healthy, because that’s not true. I’m not eating terribly, and I’m not skipping a ton of workouts. But there is always room for improvement-old posts offer inspiration. For example, I’m reminded by all the healthy dorm room snacks I used to make and haven’t thought of in a while. I would really like to get back into the less-sugar laden dessert alternatives I used to enjoy-right now all I’ve been having are sugary dining hall desserts or dark chocolate (which can cause other issues with the caffeine and my sensitivities to that right now). After this race, I also might kick it up a little with the workouts while my weekly mileage isn’t too crazy. On that note, here are a few old pictures of ideas and snacks I’ve loved:

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Whole grain cereal with chocolate milk and peanut butter (the nut butter is no longer an option though for me!).

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Chocolate Greek yogurt- yogurt, cocoa powder, and brown rice syrup. Perfect for post workout recovery!

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Apple microwaved with cinnamon.

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Microwave eggs with cheese, pesto, and avocado (although I’m allergic to most pestos now…)

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Yogurt bowl-the best ever is made with vanilla Greek yogurt, pumpkin bread, and sun butter.

What are some of your go-to healthy desserts/snacks?