Ready, Set, Go!

Our youngest grandson recently found a passion for running. He's pretty darn fast too. He is constantly challenging us to go out to the backyard and race. We have learned the drill. Go to the fence on the one side of the yard, get in starting position, and he then yells, "ready, set, go!" And we're off.

Sometimes we need a push, a command, to get ready, get set, and get goin'! That might come as encouragement or guidance or a gnawing thought that won't go away. Sometimes we have to hit bottom to be motivated enough to make the necessary changes.

So today, friend, I ask if you are ready to join the race to improve your health. If so, let's get ready, get set, and go!

Get Ready

Determine your starting line. Your starting line. Do not compare your circumstances or your goals to someone else's. Doing so would be self-defeating. No matter where you are physically, emotionally, or spiritually, making just one positive change today qualifies you for a position in that starting lineup. It also puts you one step closer to your optimal health today than you were yesterday. Every step counts.

Ask yourself:

  • What results do you want to achieve?
  • Do you have any health issues you would like to improve, or possibly reverse?
  • What is your why?
  • What is holding you back?
Our son has also taken up running. He is now training for his first half marathon. He would tell you that the warmup is a vital part of training. Taking off at full speed without proper conditioning will result in injury and setbacks. Same goes for your health journey. Trying to do it all at one time will most likely lead to frustration and burnout. So, here's your warmup: spend some time thinking about your answers to the above questions. Clarify where you are and where you want to go. Write down your answers and keep in a safe place for reference and motivation.

Another key component for a successful race is commitment. How committed are you to making the necessary changes for improving your health? What sacrifices are you willing to make to get there? What will be your non-negotiables (things you will do no matter what)? Give yourself a score from 1 to 5, with 5 meaning you are all in. Be honest. Maybe you gave yourself a 5 and are ready to get started. But maybe the victory seems too unattainable and not worth the effort. Or maybe you have been unsuccessful before and feel too defeated to try again. Let me encourage you to read on.

Elite athletes explain that visualizing their victory is as important to achieving their goal as is the training itself. Proper mindset is a must. The same applies to your health journey. Close your eyes and visualize yourself making the changes on your list. What thoughts pop into your head? Are they positive and encouraging, or are they filled with self-doubt and fear?  Being aware of what you are telling yourself will significantly impact your outcome. Your mindset will either lead you to success or it will stop you before you even get a good start. 

Warmup. Commitment. Visualization. Are you ready to get set? 

Get Set

Feeling overwhelmed or just not sure where to start? Let's break it down into some doable action steps. Take a look at what you're eating. What you eat affects your physical as well as mental health. Your food habits not only impact your todays, but your tomorrows. Research is proving this now more than ever before. Knowledge is power. 

Let's talk about sugar. Yep, that sweet, seductive little compound that just won't take no for an answer. What is your relationship with sugar? Be honest with yourself. Truth be told, over time too much sugar can rob you of ever reaching your optimal health goals. This overload causes stress on your system, leading to chronic disease. Don't want to believe it? Hear me out.

We eat far more sugar today than did our grandparents. Pounds more per year! The correlation between our consumption of sugar and the rise in serious health issues is too compelling to ignore. Diseases which historically affected the elderly are now being diagnosed at much younger ages. Sugar is being added to many of the processed foods we now eat and drink. Sometimes this is obvious, sometimes not so much. The food industry has become very sneaky at disguising this little nugget by giving it different names. Ever heard of dextrose, fructose, maltose, or sucrose? All sugar. How 'bout dextrin, maltodextrin, fruit juice, or fruit juice concentrate? Again, all sugar. There are now almost sixty, yes 6-0, different aliases for sugar. One of the most harmful being high fructose corn syrup. This single ingredient is wreaking havoc on our bodies and those of our children. It is so dangerous and so destructive that there is a movement in the health and nutrition world to ban HFCS. Personally, I took an inventory of our fridge and pantry and anything that contained high fructose corn syrup went straight into the trash. That is how bad it is. There are healthy alternatives out there. How do you determine how much sugar you are consuming? Read your labels. However, be aware that sometimes just reading the ingredients list isn't enough. Educate yourself on what the actual ingredients are. 

We are not being informed about the dangers of eating too much sugar. We are inundated with ads promoting "healthy" foods. The packaging is enticing and leads us to believe we are making healthy choices. The reality is that many of these so-called healthy foods are packed with sugar. Additionally, doctors, in my experience, are very well trained at treating symptoms, but do not necessarily have the nutritional training to teach us how to prevent diseases before they occur. Like it or not, sugar is having negative effects on our health. And it is addictive. Did you know that food companies actually hire food scientists to design their products to reach what is called a bliss point? Yes, they have a term for this deceptive strategy. Their tactic is to get us hooked on their products, so we come back for more. It's working. They are motivated by profit, not by concern for your health or mine. Shocked? I certainly was. Then I became angry. It is up to you and me to educate ourselves and to start taking control of our own health.

Sugar strongly impacts our hormones, fat storage, energy levels, and other biological processes. Our bodies are designed to turn sugar, as well as carbohydrates, into blood glucose. Glucose is used for energy. We need it to stay alive. However, consuming too much sugar negatively impacts our health in a number of ways. For one, too much is a key player in causing insulin resistance. This is a situation in which there is an excess of glucose over an extended period of time circulating in our blood stream. In a healthy body, cells will process and store glucose efficiently. However, when there is a reoccurring overflow, these molecules must find homes in our fat cells and in or around our organs. This condition leads to chronic diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's (now called type 3 diabetes), cognitive disorders, and depression. The list goes on and on. 

We have been brainwashed to believe we cannot stop our sugar cravings because we lack the willpower to do so. This could not be farther from the truth. It isn't about you being able to control your sugar intake. It is about your sugar intake controlling you. Remember, sugar is addictive. You simply cannot will these urges away. Eating sugar gives us a dopamine hit that is physically and emotionally satisfying...in the moment. After the rush wears off, we might feel a let down and reach for more sugar. The unhealthy, vicious cycle continues. In the meantime, our bodies are desperately trying to figure out what to do with the glucose surplus. The pancreas goes into overdrive trying to send out enough insulin to keep up, and after a while we start to experience physical challenges or illnesses. 

Maybe you are as surprised as I was to learn this information. Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what might be impacting your health and holding you back from making positive changes. Are you ready to take the next step?

And Go!

Do you need to overhaul your relationship with sugar? What changes are you willing to make to help you get closer to your health goals? 

Here are some suggestions:

  1. If you drink soda (or pop depending on where you live), try cutting back. If you drink 1, or 2, or 3 a day, challenge yourself to reduce it by one. One 12-ounce can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar which is almost 10 teaspoons. That's a lot of sugar!
  2. Do you find yourself reaching for something sweet throughout the day? Eating those sugar-filled treats can cause your glucose level to spike and then crash. Enough of these ups and downs and you could be heading straight to pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Try substituting some of your go-to's for healthier options, such as nuts or berries. Yes, fruit does contain sugar, but it also come with fiber. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of glucose, which helps to control the glucose roller coaster.
  3. Do you love coffee as much as I do? Do you add sugar or sugar substitutes to your cup of jo? If so, try adding less. Never thought I would say this, but I am now a black coffee girl. I thought it tasted disgusting at first. It took a while, but I truly enjoy it now and it was one way to lessen my sugar intake.
  4. Read labels. Pick products that contain less sugar. 
  5. Avoid high fructose corn syrup. It is found in catsup, barbeque sauce, protein bars, salad dressings, and many other processed foods. Again, read labels. If I could accomplish just one thing by writing this blog, it would be for you to eliminate HFCS from your kitchen. FOREVER. 
  6. You've probably heard this one before, but focus on eating more whole foods and less processed products. Your health will thank you.


Want to dive deeper? I started by reading these books.

  • The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung
  • The Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung
  • Stay Off My Operating Table by Dr. Philip Ovadia
  • Eat To Beat Disease by Dr. William W. Li
  • Body Love by Kelly LeVeque
Do you enjoy listening to podcasts? I am obsessed. My passion for learning about health and wellness is largely due to the information shared by these experts in the field of preventative medicine. A few of my personal favorites are:
  • The Doctor's Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D.
  • Dhru Purohit Podcast
  • Everyday Wellness with Cynthia Thurlow
  • Be Well by Kelly Podcast

Do you need to make some food substitutions?  I like the Primal Kitchen brand. We use their catsup, mayo, and salad dressings. No sugar and no high fructose corn syrup.


Well, if you're ready, it's time to lace up those running shoes and start your race. I pray this information encourages you to pursue your journey. As our grandson would say, "get ready, get set, and go!"

Cheering you on,

Debbie



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