Nutrition 101

Happy Tuesday! I hope the weather is sunny wherever you are. In Iowa, we have had a few severe storms lately that fizzled away to bring more sunshine!

I had a great workout yesterday and hope to do the same this afternoon. In light of all the talk surrounding exercise, I wanted to provide my blog followers a chance to hear more about the nutrition component behind healthy living.

When I began training for my first half marathon in 2009, I was surprised at the lack of change in my body composition. I figured that running 10+ miles every week would result in some sort of noticeable difference. Below is a picture of me finishing my first half marathon.

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What I didn’t realize was that what you eat has much more of an influence on your weight than exercise alone. Therefore, proper nutrition paired with a exercise routine is the key for success…

I know that eating healthy can be both simple and complicated. Many people seem to fall into the trap of “eating healthy” by consuming primarily fruits and vegetables. Without much thought, this diet can quickly become monotonous. Other people can become obsessive and count their calories, which can lead to individuals feeling deprived.

So what are we supposed to do? I have found through studying nutrition as part of my undergraduate degree that focusing on a balance of macronutrients is the key ingredient to happy heart and body. What does the term “macronutrients” mean? It’s much more simple than it sounds. Macronutrients can be broken into three main categories of: carbs, fats, and proteins. All three are equally as important to fuel your body and provide energy for your day.

Carbohydrates (Carbs): Made up of various sugar structures, which turn into glucose. Glucose is a sugar that your brain and muscles use as fuel. Have you noticed that you find it hard to concentrate or  feel light-headed when you haven’t eaten? That’s your body’s way of saying that it’s missing sugar. To think that carbs feed our brain makes the bad rap they have diminish in my mind. It’s true that we need a particular amount of carbs and that excess can be converted into fat. However, the same rule applies with protein and fats. Society just blames carbs because of the abundance of food products they are found in. (ex: Snack items, breads, cereals).

Fats: Comprised of three different structures and can be broken into lay terms such as “good” and “bad” fats. “Good” fats are mono/polysaturated and unsaturated. Examples of good sources are: olive oil, avocados, and nuts. “Bad” fats are saturated and trans. Sources of these come from animal products (ie: whole milk) and vegetable fats (ie: packaged snack foods).  Everyone needs fat to survive. Not only does it provide insulation for our organs, it also helps chemical reactions in our body to speed up and ultimately run more efficiently. A common myth is that consuming fats makes you fat. The same principle above applies to fats. When you consume too much fat, it can be converted into literal body fat. However, by not consuming fat, your body will actually do the reverse and begin storing any fat eaten. The reason being that you put your body goes into survival mode and assumes you are starving. (The old caveman situation).

Protein: Helps keep us full and rebuild our muscles after exercise. Proteins are made up of amino acids. In order for your body to absorb the protein efficiently, you must ensure you are consuming a complete protein. Sources of complete proteins can be found in low-fat animal products, soy, and certain grains such as quinoa. If you are vegan or do not like animal products, you can learn about protein pairing here.

Many people argue on the proper ratio of these three macronutrients. I have found a plate through www.choosemyplate.gov/ that details a suggested balance.

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I hope this helps you understand the basics of nutrition. I am by no means an expert, nor did I go into much detail.

Ultimately, I have learned that moderation is the best thing you can practice in your health. I try to eat healthy 85% of the time. But occasionally, I will not turn down a cupcake (like I was given today at lunch!)

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Have a great day 🙂

-Chelsey

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End of School Year Celebrations

Hey everyone! (check out the About Me for a formal introduction)

Remember that excited feeling you had in your stomach during the last weeks of school before summer? When you woke up, you knew that the weather would be warm and a break would be close. I have that feeling right now, as I wait for my first year of graduate school to comes to a close. Over the past year, I have learned a lot about myself and the college students that I work with.

At my job, we are currently wrapping up the end of the school year, with reports and paperwork.  In class, I am submitting my final papers and giving my final presentations. Summer can’t come soon enough!

Yesterday marked our second to last final (and basically the most difficult exam). Therefore, my friend Brianne and I celebrated with a little ice cream from a downtown ice cream shop, Whiteys! Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is my favorite 🙂

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Today began with work at 9:00am. Before work, I made myself a smoothie to help me power through my morning. I included frozen mango chunks this time, yum!

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Blueberry Mango Morning Smoothie

1/2 Frozen Banana

1/3 c. Frozen Organic Blueberries (the cheapest ones I’ve found are at Target!)

1/3 c. Frozen Mango Chunks

1 c. of Organic Baby Spinach – to amp up the greens

1/2 c. of Vanilla Chobani Greek Yogurt (My boyfriend calls it “Cho Bon-Bon” – bet you won’t stop calling it that)

1 teaspoon of Chia Seeds (to thicken and add omega-3’s) Learn more about Chia Seeds Here

a touch of natural vanilla extract, to add some flavor

Blend together and drink immediately. Best tasting with a straw 🙂

The weather in Iowa is unseasonably warm today (93 degrees ) Therefore, my boyfriend Evan and I took a walk over our lunch to get out and enjoy the sun! We were both feeling re-energized and ready to tackle the remainder of the work day after our walk! After work, Evan surprised me with flowers for my “birthday week”. (He gives me one gift/day for the week of my birthday. Such a keeper ;)) You can see Evan typing in the background of this picture too.

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Now that we are done with work, we are off to the gym. Typically, I like to work out in the morning but some days it just doesn’t happen that way–and that’s okay! I am planning on doing a circuit training set that I found on pinterest. I find that circuit training is the best way to incorporate major muscles and burn fat at the same time. Win, win.

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Comment and write about what time of day you find it easiest to exercise!

Enjoy your evening!

-Chelsey