The Dreaded DOMS

Your Exercise Specialist is human.

Like many of my fellow Montanans, I was beginning to feel like I was living somewhere more like Seattle or Portland, after weeks upon weeks of rain and gloom. To make matters worse, it seemed the cycles of rainy stationary fronts would always arrive right around the beginning of the weekend and then park it.

So finally, on a mid-June weekend, when my phone’s weather app called for clearing skies on a Sunday afternoon, I bolted toward the Bridgers for some alpine hiking. I ended up going to one of my favorite trails, Middle Cottonwood, and on up to the summit of Saddle Peak. I did a bit of mixed hiking and trail running on the way up, and after a delicious PB&J on the summit, decided that I would run down.

It was a fun, lovely run through wildflower meadows and riparian forest, but I knew with a couple of miles to go my legs were going to be smoked. A couple of days afterward, I was barely getting down stairs, and my quads remained angry with me for a couple of days after that as well.

I exercise regularly, I consider myself to be in pretty good shape right now, especially aerobically, but the truth is that my legs were not accustomed to nearly five miles of descending trail.

The result? The dreaded Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. Most of us have experienced DOMS at one time or another. It usually occurs after a particularly heavy bout of exercise that we are not accustomed to. That’s the key—even highly trained athletes are not immune if they do something intense and out of the realm of their usual routine. Typically, the delay in delayed-onset-muscle-soreness is 24-48 hours after the exercise bout that causes the damage.

Another detail associated with DOMS, and why my case was particularly rough, is eccentric muscle contractions. Eccentric contractions happen when your muscles lengthen under load—think of putting down a heavy load, or in my case, hitting the brakes a bit each step while running down a mountain. Eccentric muscle contractions are a natural element of muscle function and movement, but an excess amount of them can easily lead to a painful case of DOMS.

Traditional thought blamed microscopic tears in the muscle fibers for the pain and soreness associated with DOMS, but lately, science is not so sure. In fact, the latest research is inconclusive about the mechanism that causes DOMS pain. Worse, there isn’t much solid evidence that any recovery modalities actually speed up the process. In other words, once the muscle soreness has set-in, there’s not much to do except hurry up and wait.

Sorry I don’t have better news, but a little knowledge can help you better cope with DOMS, or perhaps prevent it in the first place. So, to wrap up, here are a few key takeaways:

  • Although science hasn’t agreed on what happens on the cellular level that causes the DOMS response, we do know that DOMS is incurred after intense exercise that an individual isn’t used to, and eccentric muscle contractions tend to lead to DOMS faster. So, if you’re doing something you haven’t done in a while (or ever), take it easy. Or, in my case, if it’s your first alpine hike of the season, perhaps walking down would been wiser.
  • Know that in most instances, the peak of pain occurs around 24-48 hours after the bout of exercise. This too shall pass.
  • Here’s that good news we were looking for—if you repeat similar exercise after your muscles have healed, you should not be as sore the next time, or the next, and so on. Therefore, don’t let a bout of DOMS deter you from consistently exercising, or convince you to give up an new exercise program you have just started!
  • Some studies have suggested a link between Vitamin D and/or sleep deficiencies and occurrence/severity of DOMS. [Cristin, feel free to drop some Vitamin D knowledge and enlighten us.]
  • Although there really haven’t been any scientifically validated studies that link certain recovery methods to relieving DOMS, that shouldn’t necessarily deter you from utilizing some of your favorites. After all, the brain is a powerful thing, and we’re all different and respond differently to certain recovery modalities. That being said, if you’re going through DOMS, or any muscular soreness or stiffness for that matter, things like stretching, massage, foam rolling, compression, elevation, a warm bath, and staying hydrated never hurt.

Be well!

Neal

My Transformation: A Success Story

Here’s a success story to start your New Year off with a little motivation! It’s from Sandi Nelson of Missoula. A very inspiring, thoughtful and entertaining read. Thanks for sharing this personal story Sandi, and best wishes for continued success in this new year!

“…the damn WellCheck had come to town again. What treasures would it hold for me when the blood was drawn, the measurements made, and the data processed?”

A curvy past

I’ve never been a small girl. Coming from a small town, everything that makes you different is brought into the spotlight. I wasn’t big by any means, but being one of 4 girls in my graduating class, the fact that you couldn’t snap me in half like a pretzel stick was quite evident. I’m built with a lot of muscle, but being 165 pounds in high school in juxtaposition with their 110 showed. I ran as far away from that place as I could when I came to college (at least as far away while staying in the 406), and decided I would never let a small town’s scope of what is a socially acceptable size affect me again. After 6 years of college and two degrees, I had blossomed in what could be called a hefty gal––I had turned in my toned 165 for a solid 240 pounds fueled by PBR and Mo Club Burgers.

The next 5 years continued with much of the same eating habits and my workouts consisted of 12-ounce curls (of the Bud Light and Dr. Pepper variety) and settling in to a sedentary life in my desk job. There was one silver lining to my lifestyle-–-it was maintaining. After an additional 20 pounds of weight gain after wrapping up my education, my weight was staying consistent year after year at my WellCheck. However, all the rest of my stats were climbing ever higher. As someone who has a family history of high cholesterol and blood pressure, I needed to start honing in on some of my other stats and take action. Then, in fall of 2015, I hit a sad realization – I had gained a pound! While not earth shattering in its own, it definitely started the ball rolling that a change needed to be made. I earned my Fitbit through the MUS Wellness Program just in time for the New Year, and was going to make some REAL changes…

2016: A New Year

…until I didn’t. I kept drinking Dr. Pepper like it was my lifeblood. Funyuns were their own food group and were a staple to at least one meal a day, if not for two (even breakfast—disgusting, I know). I found out that with the 2016 Wellness options for Fitbit, you could order the Aria scale. Having never had a scale in my house (thus my motivation for never changing my habits), this appealed to me a bit. However, the thing that stood between me and the scale (besides the next bag of Funyuns), was a spring WellCheck. After I got my results, I was heartbroken – I had gained an additional 3 pounds. While looking back on it, this gain could have easily be attributed to water weight, my cycle, or the clothes I chose to wear to Wellcheck. However, this total gain of 4 pounds in a year-and-a-half threw me for a loop. My destructive personality took over. Dr. Peppers were being consumed at a rate of 3 or 4 bottles a day. Funyuns became a three meal staple, and it wasn’t uncommon for meals to consist solely of the magical corn rings. I didn’t care what I ate or how it would hurt me––full-on wrecking ball had commenced.

My Aria scale arrived on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. This is a day that forever changed my life. After my “Sandi Gone Wild” time, I was ready to get my life in order-–-I just wasn’t fully aware exactly how much wrangling it was going to take. I got that bad boy home, set-up to my WiFi and synced to my phone––I was ready to step onto it for the first time. The number that greeted me made me break down in tears and destroyed my day. I had gained 10 more pounds since mid-March. That was 5 years of maintaining, followed up with nearly 15 pounds in a short time. I got in my car, found myself some beer and a front porch with a friend, and enjoyed a carbo-loaded Jimmy John’s sandwich. This would be the last day that I let food rule my life, and I just needed to use my vices one last time before it was time for a change.

I started my diet new relationship with food the very next day. I began a very regimented meal structure and exercise plan. I researched what foods would help most for my body type and risk factors. Proteins in the form of sliced turkey and string cheese with fruits for breakfast every weekday. No exceptions. My days of Einstein Bagels and high-calorie coffees were over. Stupid salads with ground turkey and light dressings for lunch became the norm. I required 7,000 steps put on my Fitbit before I could have dinner, and 10,000 before bed. At first it was easy. The semester had wrapped up and we were in the easy, breezy days of summer. My biggest enemy were weekends when I would normally go out for drinks with friends, but these turned into motivation setting days. “Is it Brewfest in Missoula this weekend?” Better go hike up Mt. Sentinel first to earn those calories I’m about to consume. Family is coming to town to visit? Time to get some sunrise lifting in before they’re ready to start eating the fried food that is their staple to any vacation. How could I ever keep this whole thing interesting? The MUS Wellness program gave me new things to try, new challenges to take head on, and a way to keep things new and interesting. I was taking this full on, and had dropped 40 pounds before the summer came to an end.

Working through the struggle

I am currently coming out of a major plateau that has lasted a month and a half. School started up and I once again became bound to my desk. Exercising after work had become a chore as the weather was changing and limiting my options to those inside. Eating the healthy things that I once looked forward to had become boring, and with an office change to a location right next to the sandwich shop in the building, temptation was literally wafting into my office daily. The only positive was the fact that the change in scenery had landed me with a standing desk so I was at least standing through the day instead of sitting like a lump in my chair. October was the toughest month of this change in lifestyle. Finally, I found my silver lining: the damn WellCheck had come to town again. What treasures would it hold for me when the blood was drawn, the measurements made, and the data processed? I was BEYOND ECSTATIC when my results were released in early November. Most of my numbers had plunged drastically. My cholesterol dropped––not only a few points, but over 100 points! My good cholesterol is at the highest it’s ever been, while the bad cholesterol has dropped to its lowest. I’m out of the “very high” risk category and in the borderline high for the few items that are of concern. I know it all still needs work, but considering this was a 7-month turnaround from the last reading, I’m chalking this up as a success. After a current 50 pounds of weight loss, I still have plenty far to go, including dropping 23 more pounds before the dawn of 2017 to leave this year in a completely different weight class than it started, then working my way to my final goal of 165—the weight I wore so well in high school. I know that with my new-found motivation and consistent challenges being provided by the MUS Wellness Program, I will be able to show the world what I can really do.   —Sandi

sandi2
Two photos taken a year apart in the same dress.
sandi3
My Fitbit scale showing me the fruits of my labor.
sandi1
A snapshot of the drastic 7-month drop in my Cholesterol to HDL ratio as it was cut by 42%.

The Amazing M.E.T.

No, not the baseball team from New York…today we’re learning about Metabolic Equivalents, which sounds either nerdy or boring, but Neal makes them fun in the latest video from Montana Moves. Learning about the amazing M.E.T. gives you another tool to use, especially when you’re resigned to indoor cardio, as many of us here in Montana were this week!

The Amazing M.E.T. from Montana University Sys. Wellness on Vimeo.

The 3-Legged Stool Model for Optimal Health

After a nice Sunday run yesterday, I took a few minutes to stick me feet into an adjacent creek for a brisk ice bath. (Post-workout ice/cold has an anti-inflammatory effect, by the way.) As I sat and shivered, I of course turned my thoughts to the importance of recovery. This is a repost from 2014, but I thought as the weather gets better and better, and many of us (myself included) change our modes of exercise and up the volume, recovery needs to be kept in the front of our minds! Don’t get caught this spring on a 2-legged stool!

Montana Moves & Montana Meals

I recently attended a clinic on endurance sports performance. There was a simple concept one of the speakers referred to that I thought was I nice way to look at our health outcomes, whether you are training for a marathon or just trying to lose a few pounds.  It is the 3-Legged Stool model. This model has been used for many ideas, but it works well with athletic performance or health outcomes.  Think of a 3-legged stool.  What would happen if you were sitting on it and one of the legs broke? The three legs are essential—working together to support what rests on top. Here’s what the performance model looks like:

3legged stool

The three legs are Work, Nutrition, and Recovery. Let’s quickly look at each, and why they are so important.

Work. Think of this as the total volume of exercise you get each week. This can be measured in many…

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Vegillicious

A couple of weeks ago, your MUS Wellness Team got to join the annual UM Staff & Faculty Welcome Back Luncheon hosted by President Engstrom in Missoula. UM Wellness Champions organized fun Wellness activities at the event, and in addition to hula hooping, Grizzly themed corn hole, and voting for fall workshops, Wellness also offered a nutrition “trivia” game, the results of which turned out to be pretty interesting!

The game consisted of two trivia questions. The first question we asked was “Which of the following examples best represents a serving of vegetables?” We had four bowls on display, each with a different amount of veggies:

A. ¼ cup shredded carrots

B. 1 cup cherry tomatoes

C.  ½ cup sliced cucumbers

D.  ½ cup leaf lettuce

The correct answer was choice C. Choice A was too small, choice B was too large, and choice D was also too small, since it takes a full cup of leafy greens to equal a serving of vegetables. The majority of UM employees who participated aced this question. Some employees told me they thought this was a test based on last month’s Eat More Plants challenge. That was not my intention, but on this question, they passed!  

The second trivia question was more difficult. I plated up a salad (from the delicious salad bar offered for lunch – thanks UM Catering!) and the question was, “If you ate this entire salad, how many servings of vegetables would you get?” See below and take a guess. Hint: The shredded orange ingredient is carrots, not cheese.

UM veggies

The answer was 5. The salad had 2 full cups of lettuce (2 servings), then ½ cup each of tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers (3 servings). 18% of people who took a guess got it correct. Of those who answered incorrectly, most people actually underestimated. The most common answers were 3 servings (27%) and 4 servings (25%).  Although less than 1 in 5 people answered the question correctly, the results were encouraging. If you underestimate the number of servings of vegetables that you’re getting from a salad, and if what you thought was 3 servings turned out to 5, consider how that translates over the course of an entire day. You’re likely doing much better than you think in terms of eating your veggies! The vast majority of us (1 in 10 according to a recent CDC report) still do not eat enough fruits & vegetables, but if you’re someone who gets discouraged by guidelines that may seem out of reach or unrealistic, take heart. It may be easier to meet the recommended intake than you thought!

The current dietary guidelines for veggies are actually now listed in cups per day, vary based on age and gender, and are separate from fruit recommendations. Still, if you’re a 40 year old woman and you ate the salad pictured above, you’d hit your recommended of veggies for the day. Not too tough, right? Especially when spread out throughout the day? Then keep going, because eating more plants is good for you. So good, in fact, that I made it one of my 6 Nutrition Tenets! (Read more here). 

Another lesson from this trivia game was that it’s often tough to eyeball servings of food, especially when combined in a salad or meal. I’m not an advocate of measuring out every portion of every meal, but once in awhile, it can be a good exercise to measure some of your portions. You may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised.

 
Finally, since we are on the topic of vegetables, I wanted to share a great idea from the Dean’s Office in the College of Education, Health, and Human Development on the MSU campus. As an office, they came together and created a lunch salad bar, with each person contributing salad ingredients. How fun is that?! They got to enjoy a healthy meal as a group, with a much larger variety of ingredients than each person had individually at home; plus, they also got to claim points for the Lunch Bites challenge on the MUS Wellness Incentive Program site. Give it a try with your own department or coworker group this month!

dean's office lunch
EHHD Team Salad Bar!

Happy Vegetable Eating!

CS

Keep Your Pantry Well-Stocked!

I hate grocery shopping.

Remember that ice-breaker game where each person in the room has to share a little-known fact about themselves? Well, I’m usually not the sharing type, so my palms start to sweat at the mere thought of that game. But today, I am willingly revealing something about myself: I hate grocery shopping. I love food, nutrition, cooking, baking, and eating, but grocery shopping? I can’t stand it. So that means I’m always looking for ways to make grocery shopping easier, quicker, and more bearable. One way that I’ve found to help: keep a well-stocked pantry.

Having a well-stocked pantry has numerous benefits:

  • On busy nights when you haven’t pre-planned a meal, you can pull together a last-minute meal.
  • If you do have to go to the grocery store, it will only be for a few key ingredients, not for the entire ingredient list. That means 10 minutes in the grocery store, not 45.
  • You can pick up fresh ingredients from the farmers market and use simple preparation methods to enjoy a delicious dinner.
  • Meal planning is much easier & less stressful if you already have most or all of the basics. In fact, I believe keeping a well-stocked pantry is one of the keys to successful, regular meal planning.
  • Having ingredients on hand encourages cooking at home, and cooking at home on a regular basis, instead of going out to eat, is one of the best ways to improve your nutrition (and save money).
  • You can take advantage of sales or bulk purchases to stock up on pantry staples.

The following are my recommendations for what constitutes a well-stocked pantry. I expanded beyond “pantry” and included refrigerator/freezer items that are also helpful to have on hand. This list is obviously based on what I personally like to eat & cook, so your definition of a well-stocked pantry may be quite different. Finally, keep in mind that a healthy diet consists of plenty of whole, fresh foods — these staple items are meant to help prepare, enhance flavor, and complement all those fresh items.

  • Fats: Olive oil, canola oil, butter, sesame oil, coconut oil
  • Seasonings: Dried: salt, pepper, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, salt-free spice blend (i.e. Penzey’s) Fresh: Garlic, ginger, onion
  • Baking goods: Whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, vanilla extract, brown sugar, white sugar, honey, molasses, applesauce
  • Canned beans: Black, pinto, garbanzo, white
  • Canned tomatoes: Sauce, paste, diced, stewed, pasta sauce
  • Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, bulgur, dried pasta

Other pantry staples:

  • Broth (veggie/chicken/beef)
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar (cider, balsamic, red wine, white)
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Worchestershire sauce
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salsa
  • Walnuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned tuna
  • Dijon mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Hot sauce
  • Bonus items: olives, pesto, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, canned green beans, flaxseed, sesame seeds

Frozen:

  • Ground turkey
  • Ground lean beef
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Spinach, mixed vegetables, blueberries,  & mixed fruit

Perishables: Milk, eggs, Parmesan/feta/or goat cheese, bread

Keeping the above items in your pantry makes it easy to whip up recipes like these:

Herbed Chicken Parmesian (you can substitute 1 tsp or so of dried parsley for fresh, and you can use regular chicken breasts for chicken tenders — just cut each breast into 2 or 3 pieces and flatten first so they are of equal thickness)

Best Peanut Sauce Recipe (Good for use as a marinade, noodle sauce, satay dip, in a wrap, on a salad, or in Pad Thai)

Back-to-School time is a great time to get organized, so try stocking (and perhaps organizing) your pantry and fridge with these staples along with your own healthy favorites. Then enjoy impressing yourself and your family with some great home-cooked meals!

Happy Eating!

CS

Healthy Recipes…On the Fly.

It’s back to school again, and for most of us, that means it’s back to busy schedules. Instead of long summer evenings that can be spent preparing a nice dinner, we often have only a few moments to get a meal on the table for our hungry selves and family members.

Many of you sent in recipes for the Montana Meals August Challenge of the Month that you mentioned were fast weeknight favorites. This is the best type of recipe in my opinion, and perfect for this time of year; recipes that you can keep on hand to prepare quickly when it’s tempting to just order take-out or throw a frozen pizza in the oven instead.

Here a few of those recipes. As you’ll see, many of them feature chicken. Chicken is definitely an easy, satisfying, and versatile ingredient. It’s a go-to for a weeknight dinner, at my house included. Multiple versions of one recipe in particular, Crock-pot Salsa Chicken, was sent in by several different people. Here’s the simplest version, with suggestions for additions or variations included.

Crock-Pot Salsa Chicken

  • 4-6 Chicken Breasts
  • 1-2 c. Chunky Salsa (regular, spicy, mango, peach, avocado, whatever you like!)
  • Place chicken breasts in crockpot, pouring salsa between layers and on top.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Remove breasts from crockpot and shred using two fork method. Use for taco filling in corn or whole grain tortillas with toppings of choice (tomatoes, romaine lettuce, onion, cheese, guacamole, cilantro, etc.).

Suggestions for additions/variations:

  • Taco seasoning (1-2 tsp per chicken breast)
  • Add 1 can of black beans & 1 can of corn
  • Add a couple dollops greek yogurt or sour cream when shredding the chicken to keep it from getting dry
  • Serve on a bed of lettuce or brown rice
  • Add extra veggies (ie, onion, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, or whatever you have on hand)

Thai Green Curry Chicken

  • 1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. green curry paste
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • Vegetables- mix and match: frozen peas, small can bamboo shoots, canned garbanzo beans, peeled and cubed sweet potato, fresh spinach
  • Thai basil
  • Lime wedges
  • Cooked jasmine rice

In a large saucepan, simmer coconut milk with curry paste over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add chicken, fish sauce, brown sugar, stock, and hearty vegetables (add peas and spinach at very end of cooking time). Simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sweet potato cubes are tender. Garnish with chopped fresh Thai basil, a squeeze of lime, and serve with jasmine rice.

Quick Kale Salad

Per Serving:

  • Steam about two cups kale until wilted (you can roughly chop)
  • Transfer to a bowl and top with lowfat cottage cheese, chopped pistachios, or any of you’re favorite salad toppers
  • Salt and pepper as desired 
  • Piece of fruit on the side for a fast, easy, meal

Hopefully these recipes will come in handy as you adjust to a new fall schedule and maybe some of these will become your own family’s new weeknight favorites as well!  Thank you so much for all the recipes sent in during our August Challenge. We’re going to work on an MUS Wellness Cookbook composed of your submissions!

CS

March Winners and Challenge Results!

Congrats to our latest Challenge Winners!

UM swept the March drawing with Kathleen Tarkalson claiming the Montana Moves prize (Yoga Mat and Bag) and Lori Freeman winning for Montana Meals (Snapware Glasslock).  We also drew for our first quarter prize from the pool of participants who submitted a challenge from January through March.  Quarterly winners were Jane Stuart from MSU-Northern and Mary Twardos from Helena College.  Jane won an IPod Shuffle from Montana Moves, and Mary won a kitchen “Goodie Basket” from Montana Meals. Congrats to all our winners!

We had a ton of great architectural changes submitted during our March Challenge.  Some of the early submissions we shared in a previous post.  Here are some more great ideas you guys used to create small behavioral changes that can yield big results over time!  Thanks to everyone who took this challenge and shared with us!

  • I turned my spare room into a mini home gym (aka put out my hand weights and yoga mat). As a result I did yoga 2x/week and strength training 1-2x/week for the month.
  • I put all my boxes of cookies on a top shelf in a kitchen cupboard so I couldn’t see them…I managed to keep two boxes of cookies for the whole month instead of stress eating them in one weekend.
  • I’ve…incorporated a healthier eating schedule for our elderly dog…for some reason this helps me with my own breakfast and supper…For some reason, the more I work at taking care of the others around me, the better I do for myself.
  • I’ve been packing my gym clothes the night before and putting them with my purse so I don’t forget them in the morning (have not forgot my clothes once!).
  • I have started making my swimming workouts meetings in my phone calendar, with reminders to do it beeping half an hour before so I have time to get ready and get to the gym.
  • [I] put my bath towel in the family room at bedtime so that I would do my pushups, planks and situps each morning before I shower.   The family room is the only carpeted room in our house and is directly across from the bathroom.  If I go into the bathroom first, it is highly unlikely I will do my morning exercises — putting my towel across the hall has greatly increased my a.m. exercise consistency.
  • I kept a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter stocked all month long.  I actually found my family ate even more of it and I had to restock it more often than I usually do.  My daughter requested that I buy her grapes because she preferred them over the fruit I had bought and she has chosen the fruit over less nutritious snacks.
  • I’ve got about a 50% success rate on the “stand-up” task pop-up and the stair climbing reminder.  I seem to catch the reminders about half the time.  The buildup of pop-ups definitely puts the guilt trip on me, so I’ll walk a little farther, or dash up the stairs a little faster to compensate.
  • [I] purchased a body media band to record daily calorie burn and sleep patterns- It is linked to my fitness pal app which I have consistently logged my meals in every day this month.
  • Instead of pulling up to the mail box on my way home, I pass the box and park at home.  Then I take the dogs out with me to retrieve the mail.
  • I am bringing a few days breakfast at a time, so I don’t have to rely on putting it together night before, or morning of.  It is really easy to measure out cereal/oatmeal portions in a plastic bag, and bring a few bowls, and have a container of milk in the frig at work.
  • Bringing two containers of water with lemon, etc. with me to work each day.  My goal is to bring them home empty, or finish consuming on way home.
  • [A] behavior modification I have made at work is I always take the stairs.  We have 3 floors at work and we are up and down quite a bit.  I think the conscious decision to do this, helps me stay fit.
  • My structural design change for March was to keep my tea pot and tea bags by the stove.  This reminds me that after I eat dinner to make tea before I reach for more food [or] dessert.  The sweetness of the herbal tea is often all I need to satisfy a dessert craving.
  • Cutting and washing veggies right when we got them made them easier to grab and snack on…also bought baby carrots because they are easy and snack size.

These are just a few of your great ideas!  Looks like our members have some keen architectural skills and are on the way to building great health!

My Nutrition Philosophy

It was my idea this week for Neal and I to write about our philosophies as we begin this blog.  Even though I’ve been involved with nutrition for the past 10 years, I was surprised how challenging it was to form my ideas into words, but I was able to break up my thoughts into the following six principles:

  • Consider the 80/20 rule of moderation.  You will do well nutritionally if eighty percent of the time, you choose foods that are health promoting, and twenty percent of the time, you choose foods that will keep you from feeling deprived.
  • Eat more plants.  Plants contain phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber; compounds that do amazing things in the body to improve health.  You do not need to be a vegetarian to do this.  Include fruits and vegetables with each meal and fill the majority of your plate with a variety of colorful, plant-based foods.
  • Choose whole foods over processed.  Look at your food – is it recognizable as food that came from the earth? With each step of food processing, food is taken further away from its recognizable natural form, vital nutrients are stripped away, and things that we already get too much of (salt, sugar, preservatives) are added.
  • There’s no hidden secret to weight loss.  If losing weight were easy, Americans would not be facing our current obesity epidemic and the weight loss industry would be non-existent.  Many popular diets encourage cutting out entire food groups or relying on expensive shakes/diet products, which most people tire of easily.  Just the word diet implies deprivation and a short-term solution.  Sustainable weight loss is typically the result of eating balanced meals, watching portion sizes, being physically active, and having support.  Small changes can result in dramatic differences over time.  It’s not easy, but it will be worth it when you feel better and have more energy throughout the day.  And hopefully Montana Meals can provide some support and inspiration to get you there.
  • We live in an agricultural state.  Take advantage of all the wonderful foods that are grown in Montana – beef, wheat, milk, vegetables, melons, goat cheese, etc.  Less travel time means fresher flavor and retained nutrients.
  • And finally, perhaps my favorite and most important guideline: Enjoy your food. Savor it, appreciate it, and be mentally present at meal times.

Writing down these six simple principles made me realize that I could write much much more information about each subject.  So I believe I will.  Stay tuned!

Cristin