Fitness, Nutrition

How Can I Prevent Kidney Stones?

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I don’t know about you, but kidney stones sound absolutely awful. I hope I never get them. But entering “middle age” means my chances increase, which is why taking preventative measures now is important. Maybe following the advice of this article will help. Have you ever had kidney stones? Article copied in entirety from sources at bottom.

 

You may have heard the old line about kidney stones: These, too, shall pass. The better idea is to not get them at all. And that’s not as hard as it may seem.

With the right foods, plenty of water and proper medication, you can lower your chances of kidney stones. Maybe you’ll find they’ve passed right out of your life.

Who Is More Likely to Get Them?

“Kidney stones” is a one-size-fits-all term for what are actually different types of small, solid crystals. A number of things can cause them. Some are related to kidney infections. Others form because you have too much of certain minerals in your system.

Genes can play a role, too. Of the people who get kidney stones, 40% have a family history of them. Their bodies may create too much calcium or too little citrate (a chemical found in citrus fruits).

Other conditions that make kidney stones more likely include:

  • Obesity. When you’re overweight, you tend to get them more often.
  • Surgery. If you’ve had gastric bypass surgery or other intestinal surgery, your chance is higher.
  • Disease. One example is polycystic kidney disease, in which clusters of cysts grow in your kidneys.

Kidney stones are mostly associated with middle-age men, though they can affect people of any age or gender.

Things to Watch Out For

Even if you’re in good health, there may be other things going on that make the growth of kidney stones more likely.

One of the first things to look at is water. If you’re not drinking enough, you may not be making enough urine. That means they have more chance to form.

Other things to watch:

  • Colas. These beverages are high in phosphates, which may lead to kidney stones. (The sugar doesn’t help).
  • Oxalates. These are organic compounds found in a number of foods — including healthy plant-related ones such as spinach and sweet potatoes. However, oxalates also bind easily to certain minerals, including calcium. Calcium oxalate crystals are the leading source of kidney stone creation.
  • Salt and sodium. If you have a high-sodium diet, you’re more likely to have more calcium in your pee. Most people get their sodium through salt, so lots of salt means a greater chance for kidney stones. However, calcium intake itself is not a bad thing — just when it’s combined with high sodium. In fact, too little calcium in your diet may lead to kidney stones in certain people.
  • Too much animal protein. Too many steaks (and chicken, eggs, and seafood) can build up uric acid in your body. That’s another cause of kidney stones.
  • Previous cases of kidney stones. If you’ve had them once, you’re likely to get them again — unless you’re proactive.

Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Them

Being proactive means taking your medication, if you’ve been prescribed any, and taking charge of your diet. Other things you can do:

Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated, especially when you exercise.

Check labels. Look at the packaging in the grocery store. Avoid or eat less of foods that have hidden things such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium nitrate.

Cut back on certain foods. Usually you want to get more spinach and nuts in your diet, but your doctor may advise watching out for these or other foods if you have had a certain type of kidney stones. Here are some other foods rich in oxalate and phosphorus that you may be told to watch out for:

  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream
  • Liver
  • Oat bran muffins
  • Oysters
  • Yogurt (Greek-style is OK)

Eat citrus fruits. Lemons and limes are high in citrate, which helps prevent kidney stones.

SOURCES:Harvard Health Publications: “5 Steps for Preventing Kidney Stones.”Mayo Clinic: “Diseases and Conditions: Kidney Stones,” “Polycystic kidney disease.”National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Diet for Kidney Stone Prevention.”University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (uwhealth.org): “Urology: Genetic Heritability For Kidney Stones.”American Kidney Fund: “Who is at risk for kidney stones?”University of Utah Health Care: “Can Women Get Kidney Stones?”Harvard Medical School: “5 steps for preventing kidney stones”Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “Kidney Stones Are on the Rise Among Youth, Especially in Females and African-Americans.”National Kidney Foundation: “6 Easy Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones.”National Kidney Foundation: “Phosphorus and Your CKD Diet.”Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: “Soda and other beverages and the risk of kidney stones.”The Cleveland Clinic: “Kidney Stones: Oxalate-Controlled Diet.”Urology: “Can Sexual Intercourse Be an Alternative Therapy for Distal Ureteral Stones? A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Study.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO,MS on 12/9/2016

faith, Personal Development

One Habit to Make You Happier

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One of my trusted resources for healthy living is Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. I read his daily email devotional every morning as part of my routine to start the day. Following is an entry he shared a while back that I thought was fitting for us all.

 

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled “One Habit to Make You Happier Today.” The writer said, “Repeating a positive phrase, or mantra, to yourself creates new pathways between neurons in your brain, conditioning you to feel calmer and healthier. Research shows that thinking of a word or phrase that affirms our values—and repeating it over and over—produces powerful physiological changes…. Mantras can create and strengthen new neural pathways that are positive and not toxic. And that can make our brain much calmer and happier.”

For some odd reason, the writer neglected to mention the power of quoting the Bible to oneself. It isn’t a mantra we need but manna from heaven. It’s not a positive sentence but a promise from God. We don’t need clichés; we need Scripture. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

Self-control is a battle that begins in our minds. Our minds as well as our hearts need to be focused on God and His Word. Daily Bible reading and meditation really is the one habit that will make you happier—and holier—every day.

The Bible contains all the information needed for life’s challenges. Its words provide strategies for every situation we face. They are life-changing and life-giving. God’s promises are never-failing, and His truths are infallibly reliable. – David Jeremiah

 

Daily Bible reading is an excellent healthy habit we would be wise to cultivate. While I understand that you may not be into Jesus and reading the Bible, I still encourage you to consider giving it a chance. You might be surprised to find the practical wisdom in the Bible makes more sense than you thought. Check out the links below for verses to encourage you. What is your favorite verse?

Great resource to help you get started with scripture memory – https://www.patheos.com/blogs/onedegreetoanother/2016/08/fifteen-verses-memorize/

https://www.mcleanbible.org/connect/kids-quest/top-20-bible-verses-everyone-should-know

https://growchurch.net/top-100-most-popular-bible-verses-to-memorise

Fitness, Nutrition

Why Am I Not Losing Weight?

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Please enjoy this excellent article by Kara Wahlgren.

 

In theory, weight loss should be easy: Watch what you eat, work up a sweat, and reap the rewards.

But losing weight doesn’t always seem that simple. You can feel like you’re doing all the right things — and you might lose some weight at first, but then you might reach the dreaded weight-loss plateau.

I’m sure you’ve been there: You’ve followed your diet to a T, you’ve cut calories, you work out regularly, and you’re still not losing weight. When you’re putting in the work and still not dropping pounds, well, that’s mind-numbingly infuriating. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

Don’t give up. Below you’ll find 10 reasons why the number on the scale might be stuck, as well as some suggestions on how to help you start losing weight again.

And, remember, it’s a journey. Even before you reach your goal weight by committing to a healthy lifestyle, you’ll start feeling stronger and learning to fuel your body with the right foods, and you might even find a workout you love!

10 Reasons You Might Be Struggling to Lose Weight

Losing weight takes work, but the rewards are worth it: a healthier heart, more energy, and checking yourself out in the mirror (and liking what you see), just to name a few.

1. You Have Unrealistic Weight-Loss Expectations

To be successful with losing weight, you have to have realistic and healthy expectations. And patience! You didn’t put on all the extra weight in a week or month, and you aren’t going to lose it all in a week or month either. And that’s OK.

Also, you might find that you are not actually losing weight but your body composition is changing, so the number on the scale might not be going down as fast as you like. Most scales don’t accurately reflect how much water you have in your system, how much body fat you’ve lost, or how much muscle you’ve gained. That’s why we encourage you to take “before” and “after” photos and to take your measurements.

When you lose body fat, you’ll be able to see it in how your clothes fit and in your pictures. Take a look at these “before” and “after” results to see what we mean!

“Often, I see clients get impatient and, if they don’t lose weight almost immediately, they change their regimens,” says Wesley Delbridge, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “However, they may have been on the right path to begin with; they just needed to give it more time.”

2. You Don’t Eat Enough Food

Super low-calorie and elimination diets — like those that are probably clogging up your social media feed right now — ignore the fact that food is fuel. Calories, including often-maligned carbohydrates and fat, are required for you to live and breathe… let alone to lose weight in a healthy way.

“Because our body weight is regulated by multiple systems, starving ourselves activates the body’s protective mechanisms to defend our body’s weight,” says Ethan Lazarus, M.D., a board member of the Obesity Medicine Association.

“One of these mechanisms is dropping the metabolism as low as possible. In general, we recommend, unless under medical supervision, not keeping your calories below 1,200 calories per day.”

3. You’re Not Eating Carbohydrates (or Protein or Fat)

For a healthy diet — whether or not you’re trying to lose weight — the calories you eat should come from a combination of healthy carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, explains San Diego bariatric surgeon Julie Ellner, M.D.

Whole-food sources of unrefined carbs (ex. legumes, fruit, and raw veggies) are vital to keeping energy levels up so that you can crush your workouts. The fiber found in these carbohydrates (versus, say, a croissant), will help you stay full and help you be less likely to snack on something unhealthy.

In addition, when you eat too few carbs, your body doesn’t stock as much glycogen, the stored form of your body’s primary fuel source, glucose. And since each gram of glycogen is stored with three grams of water, the scale will reflect that reduction in water weight. But that’s all it is: water weight. So, while the lower number might be encouraging, it doesn’t reflect your progress toward your ultimate goal: fat loss.

In addition to losing primarily water weight, cutting back too far on carbs can leave you chronically low on energy, which can hamper your weight-loss efforts by keeping you more sedentary and lowering your workout performance.

You also need protein and fat. Both will help you feel full, but fat also helps regulate your hormones and protein is vital to building lean muscle mass, the primary determinant factor of your metabolic rate, Ellner says. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be.

4. You’re Not Working Out Hard Enough

When you go for a jog or long, slow bike ride, you burn calories, but your metabolism settles back to normal soon afterward. That’s one of the reasons high-intensity exercise like the kind of metabolic conditioning you’ll find in Beachbody programs such as CORE DE FORCE and 22-Minute Hard Corps is superior for weight loss. Not only do you burn more calories during every minute you work out, but your metabolism also remains elevated for days instead of hours.

5. You Only Do Cardio Workouts

When most people want to lose weight, the first thing they turn to is the treadmill, aka the “dreadmill.”

Hating your workout isn’t going to help you stick with a workout routine. And, you may find you have better luck losing weight if you take the emphasis off steady-state cardio and focus more on strength training.

According to one large-scale study from the Harvard School of Public Health, people who spent 20 minutes per day strength training gained less belly fat over the course of 12 years compared to those who logged the same number of minutes doing cardio.

“Even if following a healthy diet for weight loss with adequate protein, we don’t lose 100 percent fat,” says Lazarus. “We lose part body fat and part lean body weight (muscle), and losses in lean body weight can result in the metabolism slowing.”

“Strength training — whether it’s with weights, yoga, Pilates, or any other resistance-based workout — is important to preserve lean body weight and metabolism. Think about it: Weight training gives your body a bigger engine. That bigger engine burns more gas getting you around town,” Lazarus explains.

Cardio can certainly be a part of your weight-loss routine, but try to include weight-lifting sessions and bodyweight circuits into your routine several times per week.

6. You’re Trying to Change Your Whole Lifestyle At Once

Going on a diet sounds like it’s just one simple change. But, in reality, following a healthy diet and weight-loss plan may include shopping for new foods, learning new recipes, changing how you spend your time after work, potentially getting up earlier to work out, increasing your step count, fighting cravings for junk food , drinking more water, and so much more.

That’s a lot to take on at once and can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

That’s why a habit-based approach can help, especially for those who have a history of going on and off diets. A review from experts at the University College London’s Health Behaviour Research Centre shows that habit formation is vital to making sustainable, long-lasting changes.

Try focusing on changing one thing at a time, and practicing that change until it’s really cemented, and then work on adding in the next one. Some good examples of healthy changes:

  • Aim to eat vegetables in at least two meals each day

7. You Don’t Pay Attention to Your Body’s Cues

Trying to belong to the clean-plate club can hinder your weight-loss efforts because it ignores your body’s way of regulating food intake: namely, hunger and satiety.

“Paying attention to how each bite makes the body feel is critical to getting in touch with how much food we actually need, as well as what types of foods make us feel good and energized versus fatigued,” Ellner says.

She recommends eating when you are slightly hungry and to stop eating when you are slightly full. Although a 2014 Public Health Nutrition review suggests intuitive eating is a better tactic for weight maintenance versus weight loss, it has been shown to improve mental health and physical health factors other than body mass index.

If you find yourself gravitating to the kitchen or your desk’s snack drawer, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Often we eat out of habit, boredom, and stress. (Or because we’ve confused hunger with thirst!)

As you eat, nixing distractions such as the TV, computer, and phone can really help you hone in and recognize when you’ve eaten just enough, Ellner says.

8. You Eat More Than You Think You Do

“When people track their food intake for the first time, they are usually shocked to see what they are really eating throughout the day,” says board-certified family and bariatric physician Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., a diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.

You don’t have to do it forever, but tracking every single thing you eat for as little as a week can help raise awareness of what you are eating and where you are getting excess calories or sugar, Nadolsky says.

Make sure to track everything — those little taste-test bites you take while cooking or handfuls of candy from your coworker’s desk add up.

Plus, if you add a “notes” column to your tracker or food journal, writing down how you felt prior to each meal can help you learn how your emotions, energy levels, and food schedule play into what you eat.

For instance, if you write: “I worked through lunch, and then my blood sugar completely crashed and I felt super shaky” after your “candy bar” entry, that gives you a lot more information as to what will help you avoid that daily 2 p.m. vending machine run, says Delbridge.

If you don’t have the time or headspace to count calories, you can also try the Beachbody Portion-Fix Eating Plan, which calculates your approximate total daily calorie needs and helps you stick to them with a color-coded portion-control container system. Simply eat the number of containers prescribed in your daily calorie range, and you don’t have to track or count calories.

Also, don’t try to accelerate your losses by slashing more calories than what’s recommended. If you don’t eat enough, your body will try to compensate for the excessive calorie deficit by slowing your metabolism. Your goal is to eat at just enough of a deficit to allow your body to burn through its fat stores.

9. You Don’t Get Enough Good Sleep

Just because you can “power through” on not much sleep, it doesn’t mean you can thrive that way — especially when it comes to weight loss.

“When we sleep, body fat makes two important hormones, leptin and adiponectin,” says Lazarus. “Leptin is our body’s best natural appetite-suppressing hormone, while adiponectin is helpful in making our body respond better to insulin.”

He explains, “After inadequate sleep, in addition to being tired, which we all know is every dieter’s worst enemy, we will be hungry and crave carbohydrates.”

In addition, one small study found that when dieters slept for only 5½ hours, they experienced 55% less weight loss and also saw their lean body mass decrease compared with those in the study who got 8½ hours of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 sleep 7 to 9 hours per night. If you consistently get less than that — and 35 percent of American adults don’t get this amount, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — it’s time to make sleep a priority.

Stop treating sleep as a negotiable or the first thing to go when things get busy. To set yourself up for success, plan your sleep (establish a regular sleep schedule), and then schedule everything else on your to-do list around it.

10. You Spend a Lot of Time Sitting or Inactive

Hitting your workouts is great, but for optimal results, you shouldn’t limit movement to your workouts, says Nadolsky, noting that it’s your total amount of daily activity that truly matters for weight loss.

Unfortunately, simply exercising for 30 or 60 minutes a day doesn’t move you out of the sedentary category, and research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that regular exercisers tend to spend just as much time sitting compared to those who skip their workouts.

Try integrating what Nadolsky calls “exercise snacks” throughout the day. Once per hour, get up and walk around your office, perform a single set of (bodyweight) squats, try deskercise,”or just enjoy a few standing stretches. Take a walking meeting, ditch the escalator for the stairs, or use a basket rather than a shopping cart when picking up a couple of things at the supermarket.

Fitness, Nutrition

Essential Guide to Healthy Eating

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Healthy eating does not have to be difficult or complicated. As an advocate for healthy living, understanding food and basic nutrients is important to me. I believe that to change your body (and physical health in general), you must start with your mind first, then your food, and THEN your exercise. You can’t outwork a bad diet, and you’ll never enjoy a lifestyle of healthy eating until your mindset is right about food.

Rather than re-creating the wheel, I’ve simply gathered some resources from the MyFitnessPal Blog that does a great job of simplifying the basics of healthy eating. I like these linked articles because they explain the importance of often persecuted food groups and defends my personal opinion that eating a balanced variety of foods is better than any restrictive “diet-of-the-month” that requires you to cut all carbs or fats. Take some time to read these links and educate yourself. Consider this your crash course in healthy eating.

Essential Guide to Macros

Essential Guide to Protein

Essential Guide to Fat

Essential Guide to Carbohydrates

Want more? Check out my video presentation of a Nutrition 101 course I taught for my employer.

Fitness, Personal Development

Advance Your Healthy Living Journey With This No-Sweat Exercise

aaron-burden-64849-e1514680087218Team Quadzilla aims to encourage a lifestyle of healthy living. To us, that means way more than 6-pack abs or plates full of kale and broccoli. We believe that healthy living requires positive, purposeful exercise for our mind, body, and soul. Some of the best healthy habits we can have require no sweat at all. The healthy habit I’m about to describe can be the catalyst for other healthy habits because “healthy living starts between your ears.”
If you follow Team Quadzilla on Facebook, you might recall that I have posted about my journaling habit. Whether I’m sharing something I wrote that I think will encourage you, or I need some help to pick the next book to fill, I’ve made it no secret that I enjoy writing in a journal. Following are some reasons why I journal along with some suggestions to help you get started if you don’t regularly write already.
Journaling is a key part of my morning routine
Mornings can be chaotic. There are so many things to do in a short amount of time. But just like you weren’t sure how you would get it all done, you do. Every day. You can do this too. That was my thought process when I first started. I make time for what is important to me, and journaling has proven to be worth my time. Now that journaling is my habit, it’s like eating breakfast or brushing my teeth; I notice if I miss it. My day can’t really start properly until I spend some time writing. Once I write, I feel calm, focused, and mentally prepared to deal with the day ahead.
Journaling helps me clarify my thinking, process my feelings, and make better decisions
Writing is therapeutic for me. And way cheaper than a counselor! I find that writing draws out thoughts and feelings I didn’t know I had. I think it’s the focused time to reflect and take a self-assessment. Since my mind races all day with work, and I’m busy with family stuff (or even vegging) in the evenings, I don’t otherwise have time to process life. Writing helps me do that. In my journals you would find many examples of me wrestling with something and landing on a much better decision than if I didn’t take the time to write it out.
Sometimes I’m feeling really down or upset and I just write all kinds of emotion. Usually after I vent for a bit, my writing turns much more positive and encouraging and I leave feeling so much better. There is something very powerful about writing feelings that just works.
Journaling captures my progress toward my goals
Writing goals is important. It makes them seem more real, and it makes me more accountable to them versus just having the idea of goals in my mind. My journal is a great place to report my progress and my failures in the journey toward my goals. These notes become valuable as the lessons learned are what drives me forward. I learn what works and what doesn’t. Writing makes it much harder for me to forget what I’ve learned.
Journaling focuses my prayers and keeps record of my blessings
IMG_0830My journal captures lots of things, but the primary theme is me talking to Jesus. That may seem strange to you, but I’m OK with that. If you are the praying type, you may have found it difficult to focus for more than a couple minutes. Distracting thoughts from out of nowhere come in to sabotage your time and it feels fruitless. Writing focuses my thoughts like nothing else I’ve tried. Pen to paper is key, as typing my journal didn’t have the same focusing affect. I write my prayers as if I’m writing Jesus a letter, or more like talking to him as if he’s right next to me. I give thanks and record my blessings. It’s great to read the entries after some time and see how blessed I am and how well the things turned out that I was so concerned about. I would never remember such things unless I wrote it down.
Journaling is my story; my legacy
IMG_0829The main personal, compelling reason WHY I write in my journal 5 days a week is because I want to record my personal story for others to read…someday. I figure that when I’m gone, my son and future generations behind him might find encouragement by reading the trials and triumphs of my life journey. Or they might think I was crazy! Either way, these volumes of my sloppy handwriting are part of my legacy. Want to know who I really was? You will find out in these books.
In the last few years my dad was alive, I would often ask him if he’d written his stories so we would all remember them. Most people don’t, so their stories get lost forever. My dad recorded some audio of his stories, which are precious for sure, but they can only capture a fraction of his life and heart. I hope people will be encouraged and maybe even get a laugh here and there while reading my story.
Just in case my reasons for journaling have inspired you to start the habit yourself, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
How to Journal

Keep it simple
Get a blank book and start writing. How’s that for simple? My first journals were spiral bound notebooks like we used in school. Now I prefer a more durable blank book that is meant for handwriting. None of mine have cost more than $10. As for the writing instrument, that’s surely a matter of personal preference. But I bet you have a favorite pen like I do. You know, the one you always go to when you need to write something down? The one you whine over when you can’t find it? Yeah, get more of those.
What you write in your journal is completely up to you. There is no wrong way to journal. Some sketch pictures in their books. Others reserve theirs for a particular theme like a weight loss journey, recording your kid’s firsts, a vacation journal, notes and insights you gather from a book you are reading, etc. Make your journal whatever you want it to be. You make up the rules. You are the boss! Go you!
Consider a template
OK, if you are the type of person that needs to know exactly what to do and exactly how to do it before starting something new, I suggest creating a template. Again, the template can be anything you want it to be, but the key is that you follow it each day you write. That way you don’t really have to think about what to write, you just answer the questions. Here’s one sample template from Michael Hyatt:
What happened yesterday? Just the highs, lows, and anything I want to remember later.

What were my biggest wins from yesterday? This gives me a sense of momentum to start the new day.

What lessons did I learn? It’s not what happens to us but what we learn from it that matters most.

What am I thankful for right now? This is one practical way I can cultivate a sense of abundance and gratitude.

How am I feeling right now? Feelings aren’t the be-all-end-all, but they’re a clue. In the past, I just ignored or suppressed them. This gives me an opportunity to check in on myself.

What did I read or hear? Here I list important books, articles, Bible passages, or podcasts I consumed since I last journaled.

What stood out? I don’t want to lose what I learn in my reading and listening, so I record key insights.

Habit stacking

Adding a new activity to your busy schedule, especially in the morning, can feel overwhelming. While I recommend writing in the morning, you need to find the time that you can stick with consistently. Otherwise, journaling will frustrate you as the days and weeks pass between entries. Habit stacking is simply doing the new activity immediately after something else you already do every day. I write before I dig into my work. Once I start into the emails and phone calls, there is far less chance I will get back to writing, so I commit to writing before I start work. Since I only write on the weekdays, this works well for me. So choose something that you do every day and associate it with your new activity. Brush your teeth? “Ah yes, time to write in my journal.”
Journaling has become an important part of my healthy living journey and I highly recommend the practice to everyone. Remember that mental fitness is really important. “Healthy living starts between your ears,” right? Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.