recipe of the week!


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM! I sure love ice cream and this alternative is quite deceitful since you can’t even tell it’s not ice cream! No joke!

Even if you’re not totally convinced that Paleo is the elixir of life, this cheap alternative to ice cream will have you coming back for more… guaranteed!

banana ice cream with yummy cinnamon!

The texture, the taste, they way you can top it with whatever you want! What do YOU top your banana ice cream with? Comment below!
Banana Ice Cream
2 bananas, frozen
almond milk, to taste
toppings galore!
Peel and freeze bananas (tip: freeze a bunch so you can have some whenever you want!). Chop up bananas & place in blender with a bit of almond milk (~ 1/4 cup). Blend until desired consistency. Add more almond milk if needed, but not TOO MUCH! :) Top with delicious items like almond butter, cinnamon, chocolate chips, raw cocoa, cocoa beans, sprinkles, nuts, berries, fruit, etc.!

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Filed under cheap, food, gluten free, Paleo

why we don’t get off the couch (even when we know we should)


You’ve all heard someone say, “I know I should exercise but I don’t have the time,” or “I even know exactly what to do, but I just sat on the couch.” I know because I’ve been there. Over the past year I have made one excuse after another about how I can’t workout regularly and track my progress because “my gym wasn’t ideal”, “I didn’t have my preferred equipment”, “I had to drive further,” and “I don’t have time.”

The awesome book Nudge that I am reading right now gave me some insight as to why we don’t get off the couch, even though we know we should! “Choice architecture” influences many of our day-to-day decisions without us being consciously aware of it.

Just like architecture involves making decisions that influence traffic flow and whether or not certain groups of people will interact with each other (e.g. placement of bathrooms), “choice architecture” is about deliberately designing our choices – for profit, for health, for safety, etc. This is exciting and dangerous at the same time.

We allow many of our choices to be manipulated throughout the day by default settings. Default settings are the path of least resistance and a form of choice architecture. We do not have to make a decision. It’s easier.

Think about it – you buy a new phone and the ring tone and loudness are set, the background is there and whether or not your keypad beeps when you push buttons. Now, you may change a few of these settings, but I’ll wager that you keep most of the default settings. Computers  are the same way. Plus, the less you know about xyz product, the more likely you are to keep the chosen default settings. This gives companies lots of power.

This is very interesting because subtle manipulations can influence how we purchase, how we live, what foods we choose, and how we act.

Let us go back to the couch. The couch is the American default setting. We can work all day, come home and sit in front of our new plasma and make no further decisions for the remainder of the day besides which show to watch. It allows us to tune out of reality and watch other people doing worthwhile (sometimes) stuff instead. So we’ll watch The Biggest Loser and wish* we could experience those results instead of actually going through the hard work.

The couch/TV are our default settings because we have made them that way AND industries have used “choice architecture” to nudge us in that direction. Primetime, ESPN and network broadcasting tell us we need to be in front of the TV at 8pm to watch House and nowhere else. At 5 or 10 pm, we MUST watch the nightly news.

Although neither watching the news nor your favorite show are inherently bad, TV is hypnotizing… it’s much more difficult to stop watching once you’ve started. I’m glad that DVR and TiVo have helped these mandated choices, but they are still our defaults.

Another reason why people do not get off the couch is, I work full time.  I deserve to rest and relax. This is my favorite because I use it often. And because rest and relaxation are very important to schedule into your week, I use it as my reason to be lazy. Although full-time work is much different than being a full-time college student, it does not give license for laziness.

In college, we dreamed big and discussed saving the world. We were open to considering new ideas that stretched and broadened our minds. I love that. It has dawned on me that I feared the full-time work-world so much because I see people begin work and waste away, close their minds to change, grow fat and old, and/or become slaves to their jobs.

If you think about it, this too is the default setting. Everyone else uses it. It is the path of least resistance.

The last reason that people don’t get off the couch is an inability (or refusal) to accept that actions have consequences. I am 25 years old and work in the school system where we try to instill the reality of consequences into young people, especially high school students. I’ll be honest with you – I am just now grasping how decisions I make now affect my future, mostly because my loving husband has been patient with me about our finances. Before, it was all about immediate gratification. I see it. I want it. I NEED it… NOW! With consumerism and “keeping up with the Joneses” at its peak, any young person that can fathom consequences is a special individual indeed.

In today’s society, immediate gratification is also a default. This issue probably started with the rise of credit but it spills over into the rest of our life. What we eat, what we where and how we spend our time all have consequences that need to be considered before the decision. If we sit on the couch every day after work and eat fast food because we “don’t have time to prepare a 10-min. meal” while we watch TV just because it’s “easier”, we will get fat, lazy and out of shape. Then we not only deal with the grossness of obesity, but must face the health issues and rise in medical costs as well.

Yes, it is easier to let everyone else make our choices for us and buy ____ food and _____ TV and ______ clothes because the advertisement told us to, but what kind of life is that?

Are YOU really running your life if you allow everyone else to make your decisions?

Don’t worry. There is hope. Small changes can have drastic results.

Instead of lazily fattening yourself on the couch this evening, try exercising during the commercials – squats, push-ups, planks, sit-ups, deadlifts, etc. This small change can add up to significant exercise time that not only strengthens your body but improves insulin sensitivity and burns fat as well. You will feel better and accomplished instead of wondering what in the world you did with your evening.

Another suggestion is to use choice architecture to make the default settings in your home positive ones.

Supermarkets and cafeterias use choice architecture to influence our spending and eating habits, knowingly or not. Simple placement of food items, like on the middle shelf instead of the top or bottom, or in a well-lit area as opposed to a dark, out of the way area increases sales of xyz items. Currently, unhealthy processed foods and commodity foods are the centerpieces of our stores and cafeterias… they are the defaults and we unwittingly cave. What if whole unprocessed foods were our defaults? What kinds of changes might we see?

We do not have control over businesses, but we DO have control over what comes into our homes.

By not allowing unhealthy foods into your home, you automatically decrease your chances of messing up. The separation between your craving and the steps it will now take you to satisfy it are many, thereby making it more difficult to obtain. It’s easier to stay at home then go purchase xyz item. The path of least resistance is now to stay home and scramble some eggs instead. Throw the junk food out and don’t allow it into your home. It works.

The last suggestion is to exercise immediately after work, before you even sit on the couch. Because it is hard to leave the couch once you’ve finished your day, don’t start before you’ve exercised OR prepared dinner. Fight the urge and you will be rewarded. You don’t have to run a marathon. Start small. Move around for 5-10 min. with walking, jogging and calisthenics as mentioned above. Increase the time slowly as you feel you should. Don’t make it harder than it is.

In summary, most people choose the path of least resistance detrimentally. Choice architecture influences our eating, our spending, our living. By “going with the flow” we fail to plan for the consequences of our behaviors and make excuses about health problems, laziness and fatness. Making healthy, productive choices default in our lives can have significant impact on the course of our futures. Small changes, like exercising during commercials or immediately after work, have large results.

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I spent about 3 hours on this post. If you like it, forward it to a friend, Tweet it, or repost it on Facebook! I appreciate you.

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Filed under exercise, move it!

the daily BATTLE


I don’t think I’m supposed to tell you this. But honesty is the best policy and if it can help you at all, it is worth it.

I am lazy in my heart of hearts. Utterly lazy and wasteful and selfish. A true hedonist.

I dread going to work sometimes. My position is a gift from God and I have a magnificent opportunity to be a change agent in Benton County, yet sometimes…

After work, I want nothing more than to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing. I want to eat a great meal and read a fiction book or watch a movie… to escape.

My daily battle with myself involves the choice between the easy road and the narrow.

The easy road is living in the “system”, exchanging my precious time for money. Very inefficient if you think about it. Living for the weekends and dreading Mondays. I hate that. The easy road is also of poor quality… not preparing for training sessions and half-hearted studying. You get by, but you’ve sold yourself short to what heights you could claim through total dedication to the task.

The easy road is comfortable and expected. You know what’s coming. I think that is why people return to abusive relationships – they know the abuse is coming but it is comfortable and normal.

The narrow road involves taking ACTION, putting myself at the risk of failure every day through blog posts, ebooks, websites and training. It involves hard work and creativity and discipline. It involves performing the menial and mundane tasks everyday to slowly reach higher through consistency and dedication. The narrow road is everything in between point A and point B… the stuff 80% of people aren’t willing to do, maybe because it’s hard, but mostly because it involves the risk of unknown and unexpected.

It’s really easy to go through life complaining about your job and your circumstances but it takes true dedication to risk change for the life you truly desire.

My daily battle is a fight for dedication. I have this voice in my head that says, You can’t do that. No one wants to listen to you. You have nothing to say. You will fail. People will think you are stupid. You don’t know anything. You can’t. You can’t. You can’t.

I fight this voice, but not with every ounce of my being… only part. The other part of me says, You’re right. I’ll sit here and read instead or eat ice cream and DO NOTHING.

And then I wonder where the time went and why I have nothing completed and why I am still in the same circumstance.

What’s truly ironic is that my mantra of high school was the quote: The only risks in life you’ll regret are the ones you didn’t take. Although it meant something totally different at the time, I have re-claimed it as my mantra today.

I will take risks. I will make myself uncomfortable and I will put myself out there. I will succeed.

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Filed under move it!

to dairy or not to dairy?


dairy or not to dairy? that is the question.

I am glad that at least one of my readers is curious to why certain foods are harmful! For our Spring Leaning Paleo Diet Challenge we have cut dairy. Dairy, along with cereal grains and table sugar, comprise about 70% of the American diet.

Why would we cut this staple food? Is the evidence black-and-white?

I wish I could tell you that it is, but the jury is still out on dairy products. There is not conclusive evidence to say All dairy is bad, but still less conclusive evidence to claim All dairy is good for you.

Let’s look at why dairy is out for the Paleo Challenge.

But first, my background with dairy. I grew up drinking 2% milk and eating cereal like it was going out of style. I LOVE cereal. I remember living with two of my best friends in Knoxville and demanding that we always have a sufficient supply of milk (I was a different person back then ;). I claimed I would experience ultimate happiness and joy if I had an IV of milk.

I loved it.

Somehow I was conned into believing that I should drink skim milk over 2% and slowly made the switch to this paint-water substance. I lied and told everyone I loved it, that it was delicious and great.

It’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to for self-denial, huh?

So here are a few major reasons to avoid dairy, but you will have to decide for yourself:

Weight loss. Whether you have 5 or 50 pounds to lose, people tend to have more success when they cut out dairy. Plateaus are overcome and puffiness disappears. It works.

Why?

Milk, whole and skim, doesn’t have much sugar yet causes an abnormally  large insulin response. This happens if whole or skim milk is consumed alone or with food. This matters because if you are trying to lose weight and have insulin resistance, your body’s hormones do not have an opportunity to reset themselves in the presence of dairy. Insulin spikes after any dairy consumption.

If you suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetes you will have a much harder time controlling your blood sugar with dairy in your diet than without it.

Aging. Chronic hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, is known to hasten the production of Advanced Glycated End products (AGEs). Like the name sounds, AGEs accelerate aging like wrinkling, but also have the ability to modify proteins and lipids in our bodies to render them harmful – like oxidized LDL.

Since lots of milk consumption can cause chronically high blood sugar levels because of its large insulin response, it can contribute to our blood levels of AGEs.

A high concentration of AGEs is found in diabetic patients as well as other degenerative diseases, like coronary artery disease.

Hypoglycaemia. In addition to an abnormal insulin spike, mentioned above, milk also induces hypoglycaemia, low blood sugar, within 60 min. of consumption. This is similar to high glycemic load foods that are thought to be players in insulin resistance. A constant spike and drop in blood glucose levels makes for a scary roller coaster indeed. Once you drop, you need sugar again to spike your glucose, and on and on and on.

Leaky gut. There is some evidence that dairy increases intestinal permeability and travels from the intestines out into the body, causing an immune response and inflammation.

In addition to these reasons, dairy has also been implicated in acne and gastrointestinal problems. It is also important to not that many are lactose-intolerant are just do not know it because they have drank milk consistently from birth. They may believe their gastrointestinal discomfort is normal and a part of life.

Dairy is also thought to be partially responsible for younger and younger puberty-onset among girls because of the growth hormone levels, natural and added.

I hope you have found this synopsis useful in your decision-making about dairy. For me? I have better results without it, but occasionally consume heavy whipping cream, ice cream and butter.

Your solution? Cut it out for 30 days. See how you feel, your energy levels and when you’re hungry.

Thoughts? Comment below!

References:

Dissociation of the glycaemic and insulinaemic responses to whole and skimmed milk. Hoyt, G., Hicky, M.S., and Cordain, L. British Journal of Nutrition 2005:93, 175-177.

the western lifestyle and diseases of civilization. Carrera-Bastos, P., Fontes-Vilalba, M., O’Keefe, J.H., Lindeberg, S., Cordain, L. Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology 2011:2, 15-35.

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Filed under food, healthy

New Video! Back Care – The most important thing…


What’s the secret to a pain free back? It’s simple really… check out this video.

Problems viewing? Watch it on youtube here.

On the exercises, pick one or two and do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps every other day. Switch exercises every few weeks.

Resources:

  • mobilitywod.com: KStar’s stuff is GOLDEN. Can’t get enough of him! Check it out! Feel better in ten minutes!

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Filed under exercise, resources, strength

Challenge Yourself…


How often do you challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone? Contrary to popular belief, we should not stop growing as adults. We need to continue to broaden our borders throughout life.

I took the Welbourn Challenge yesterday and won The Underground Strength System for my efforts! I did not expect to win this as A) I did not use the prescribed weight and B) I’m a girl.

What is the Welbourn Challenge? Well, I’m ecstatic you asked! John Welbourn, former NFL player and CrossFit Football beast challenged Zach Even-Esh, owner of The Underground Strength Gym and prolific producer of tons of great content to 30 Sandbag Clean & Presses with a 130# sandbag. Zach switched it to shouldering a sandbag 30 times, which is still brutal. Check out his video here.

Now I did not shoulder a 130# sandbag 30 times, but I calculated that 130# was 60% of Zach’s bodyweight. 60% of my bodyweight is 87#, so I made a 80# sandbag (all the gravel I had…). There was NO way that was happening anytime soon! Zach’s one tough beast.

I ended up with about 50% of my bodyweight at 66# (that’s all my little sandbag would hold!… I know, no excuses!). Anyway, as you will see, it was more than enough sandbag for me!

Video has been the key to my training lately. I don’t have a training partner and there’s no one in the area to coach me, so I utilize video instead. It pushes me to work harder with better technique and gives me a record to analyze later.

Check it out:

Trouble viewing? Watch it on YouTube.

Do you challenge yourself? How? Has it affected other areas of your life?

Comment below!

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Filed under exercise, Paleo, strength

Breakfast of Champs Cooking Demo


Kale and Egg Scramble. Yum. Enjoy.

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Filed under food, gluten free, healthy