I went and had a baby…

Hi Friends,

So I took a much needed 4 month break from life to have a baby (unless you follow me on IG, then you know this already by all the cute pictures I need to post 🙂 ) So, lets back track a bit…

Xavier was born on October 8th at around 11:53 pm. This was after 2 full days of labor and 1 week after my “due date”. That little man did not want to come out! But that’s a story for another day.

I took off September because a. I was huge and b. exhausted. My back hurt, my legs were also sore and I was just ungodly uncomfortable in general. I also knew that my life was about to be turned upside down, so I took the opportunity to rest as much as I could and have some me time and also nest like crazy. I was also fortunate to be able to work from home which was very good. It was to the point where just driving was uncomfortable.

X ended up coming out one week past my due date, which was drove me crazy. I honestly thought he would be early but no, he had a totally different time table. Those last few weeks drove me nuts though. Talk about anxiety. Every feeling in my stomach was like “is this it?” “please be it!” I was doing everything I could think of to induce labor (walks, bouncing on the ball, eating dates…alone time with husband…everything). I will tell you when my water broke, it was the biggest sense of calm and relief.

After X’s arrival, I took another 3 months of “maternity leave” to just be with him, have family time, and just try to adjust to our new life (which is still a work in progress, because I still feel out of whack most days). However, I am still in total disbelief that that little cutey is mine and he is really here.

I start teaching in a few weeks, which I so excited about. Taking off last semester made me really sad, but I knew that I had to. I have so many ideas for my course, that I have been writing down all year to make this my best semester yet. Also, this month I am graduating from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition! What a wonderful journey that has been to complete that program! I can’t believe the year has already gone by! I am super excited! Having a nutrition certification has been something I have wanted to do for such a long time. The program was fantastic and I learned so much about helping people, myself, and I just grew a lot during this past year thanks to all the training and personal development.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for allowing me to take this break to be with my son and family during this special time. I am so grateful to everyone for your support.  I am back in action now!

 

 

My Journey – Part 3

atmosphere blue bright cloudiness

Missed Part 1 and Part 2?

Finally….

I discovered something that I was passionate about, but didn’t know it until I was doing it. Which, in retrospect I find very interesting and how having a strict plan in life, may not be the way to go. A road map, guideline..perhaps. But one thing I realized writing this story is that the road to where I am now was not the one I planned on 10-15 years ago. The universe had its own plan, I just had to listen to it.

Teaching has become a primary focus in my life. It was something I really wanted to be good at. I spent (still do) a great deal of time researching for my nutrition lectures. I always wanted to make sure I gave them good science background for every topic (with my own experience trickled in too). This was a science class, technically. I actually really like reading biochemistry and nutrition journals (yes, I am still a science nerd, haha). Truthfully, I never cared to “research” for any other job before, because the material never excited me to the same extent. This is material I can get excited about. I truly love learning about this stuff, so it makes it very easy to keep learning.

Nutrition is a weird subject because everyone can have a different spin on it. “Eat meat, or don’t”. “Is fat really bad, and how much”? Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to food (some people can treat it like a religion, ever noticed that?). Its the only “science” where both sides can have valid arguments or be “right”. So then what does one do?

I knew from the very beginning that I could never teach one way of eating because everyone is different and has different needs. I also really cared about my students. I wanted them to actually get something from the course. I didn’t really care if they understood the chemistry or got straight A’s. I always joked that I had to grade them, but I didn’t really want to (which is true). I was just happy showing them this stuff. I just wanted them to learn healthier habits, especially because they were in college. I wished I took a course like this in college. It would have set me up in a much better way when I got out on my own. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have struggled for so long during my twenties, if I knew what I know now.

After a few years of teaching nutrition, I came to a realization. “How can I teach this stuff and help people outside of the school”? That’s what led me to becoming an Integrative Health Coach. The program I found has met my expectations and so much more. I am amazed how much more information there was still to learn! Healthy living really is more than the food you eat. Its everything in your life being in balance. This was something I think, I intuitively realized through my own health journey. Its why I named my site “Balanced Life.”

Then a few weeks after I enrolled in the course, my life met another big change. We found out we were pregnant. So, I am currently involved in two major transitions in my life that are happening at the exact same time. Which has made both journeys better (and perhaps easier?), I think. Because I am navigating the ever-changing process of being pregnant (and what’s to come after), plus being ingrained with all these new holistic teachings. (I rather write another post on this topic or this post really will be a novel).

I realized these past 10+ years that “being healthy” really just means being happy and calm in life. If something is off, like hating your job situation, it really affects other areas of your life. For me, when I was miserable at work, it led to other problems like not eating right, constant stress, which led to gaining weight, grumpiness, and just feeling crappy all the time. When, I started following my passions and doing what I wanted, and changing my mindset, things made a dramatic turn with my health (and sanity too, honestly). I ate better, slept better, lost weight, exercised consistently, made time for myself, which snowballed into just being a better version of me. Also, when I did put time into bettering myself, the other areas of my life improved too. When I ate better and took better care of myself,  I was more productive, energetic and just handled stress better. This was a huge epiphany moment for me.

Now, I always think of it as a circle:

food stress health circle

If one is off, it will affect the other two. They all have to balanced for you to feel your best.

This is what I hope to bring to my health coaching practice. I want to help people improve their circle. I want people to follow their passions and truly enjoy life. Its more than just eating better. Of course, that is one major piece. But sometimes there is something blocking it. And that’s ok. Everyone is on their own journey. It took me a long time to get here and who knows where I will be 10 years from now. I am scared again because it is something new. But, the last scary thing I did, I ended up doing well and everything worked out better on the other side. Sometimes, its good to be scared, especially when its something new and exciting. I know that I will only get to the life I want, but pushing through this and just letting the universe do its thing.

 

 

 

 

What happens Carbs after you eat them – Part 2

 

I discussed the initial breakdown and digestion of carbohydrates last time. So, what happens from here? Where does all this glucose go in your body? What does your body do with it? This is actually where things get more interesting (I think) and how carbs get a bad reputation (and basically the whole premise of low carb diets).

So we just ate, digested (which really means, our digestive system broke down in tiny pieces) carbohydrates into little sugar molecules that get sent to your liver: mainly glucose and fructose. All carbohydrates contain glucose. But you also get a fair amount of fructose sugars too if you have eaten anything containing table sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, high fructose corn syrup, and fruit! So now you have a bunch of glucose and fructose hanging out in your liver.

Your liver’s main job is to process everything that gets into it from your digestive system. Everything that gets digested and absorbed from your small intestine (except FAT), gets transported to your liver directly to be processed. Your liver basically decides if its good/useful (and sends it into your blood stream), bad (breaks it down to be eliminated) or needs to be changed into something useful.

Glucose is put in the “useful” category. Fructose is put in the “needs to be changed” category.

Fructose is then turned into glucose, to make it useful. So now, you have a ton of glucose hanging out in your liver! Three main things are done with it:

  1. A good amount is sent into you blood stream to be circulated in your body (this is your blood sugar). It does this because you blood is basically a highway to all your cells in your body. In order for the glucose to reach your cells, it needs to be put into you blood to actually get to them. Once they reach your cells,  your cells absorb it and turn it into energy. Your body uses this energy to keep your body running. This is why when your “blood sugar drops,” you feel tired and hungry. You body used up its quick, available energy source and is now telling your brain to add more (or eat something! to provide more glucose!).
  2. Extra glucose can be stored for later. It can be stored in your liver and in your muscles. The fancy word for this storage system is glycogen. You body only makes a limited amount of glycogen though. Enough to really last about a day. Your muscles use this stored glucose for you when you need extra energy (like heavy lifting or exercising), fasting (not eating), or in times of stress (both mental and physical stress). Once, your glycogen is used up, you will need to make more (eat more glucose!).
  3. Extra extra glucose gets converted to fat. Since your body only needs a limited amount of glucose for energy, and a limited amount to make glycogen, anything remaining gets converted to fat. Fat really is your body’s way of creating long term energy storage. Remember glycogen only lasts about a day (you need to constantly replenish it), but fat can last a long time, if its not used. Your body is very smart. It will put something it knows it can use into long time storage as a survival mechanism.

There is one important player I forgot to mention that is also involved in these three processes…INSULIN.

What is insulin? Its a hormone. What’s a hormone? Its a molecule whose sole purpose is to tell other things what to do. Hormones literally talk to your cells to get them to do things. Cells have these little “switches” on them that need to be turned on or off. Who controls these switches? Hormones.

So what switches does insulin turn on?

  1. Tells your cells to take in glucose to be used for energy.
  2. Tells your liver/muscle cells to store glucose (make glycogen).
  3. Tells your fat cells to make more fat!

Reason #3 is why low carb diets exist and a big reason why people are people told to limit their sugar intake. Insulin is only triggered when it senses glucose in your body. Therefore: no carbs = no glucose = no insulin

If insulin’s job is to tell your body to literally make fat, what happens when there is no insulin? There is nothing there to tell your body to make fat.

Now, if you are eating too much sugar/carbs over a long period of time, insulin is constantly being triggered. So any extra glucose that you body can’t use, will get converted into fat. ALSO, if insulin is constantly being triggered, your cells become desensitized to it (or “resistant” to it). So, what happens when your cells start ignoring insulin? There is nothing to tell the glucose where to go. This is bad. This is how diabetes is formed. Its almost like the “boy who cried wolf.”

Also, all this fat that is created overtime is what leads to obesity, heart disease and other problems.

So what to do? Obvious answer: eat less sugar! At least start with less “added sugars.” In the average diet in the western world (aka Standard American Diet or SAD), too many people are eating processed foods and not enough real, whole, home cooked food. Processed food contains a lot of added sugar

Just read the labels, if you don’t believe me. Look at the grams (g) of sugar in each serving. A teaspoon = 4 g sugar (if you need a visual).

So a really good place to start if you are in this category, is to start eating more real food and less processed food (basically anything that has ingredients in it you can’t pronounce, don’t know what it is, or is a laundry list of things). Stick to actual veggies and actual fruit. Make more meals at home. This is a really good starting point. Then you can tweak it from there. But by adding in more real food, you will naturally eat less of the other stuff and probably already will start feeling better.

Also, the more sugar you eat, the more you will want to eat it. And good news! The opposite is true too! The less you eat sugar, the less you will want to eat sugar! I would suggest a slow transition out. Just slowly start cutting out sugary things out of your diet. Give your body (and taste buds) a chance to adjust. This will be much more sustainable then the all or nothing approach. Slowly add in healthier foods to compensate. Or add in more protein/fat in your diet to curb cravings and also satisfy hunger (you will naturally eat less because you will get full faster).

You can also send me a message too, if you need help! If this was an easy task, no one would have health problems, so I get it! My job is to help in this transition and make it easier and sustainable for the long term.

Do you have any tricks to help cut sugar out? I would love to hear them!

 

What happens to Carbs after you eat them?

white ceramic mug filled with dessert

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

What happens to Carbs after we eat them?

I was thinking about what topic to write about this month and I figured in continuation with our digestion discussion last month, I will discuss how our body actually digests carbs and how that can be related to unwanted weight or even health problems down the road.

Remember digestion occurs in the mouth, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. So, lets dive into what happens in each, that’s specific for carbohydrates: 

Mouth: The enzymes in your mouth actually begin to break down carbs into smaller pieces. However, because food only spends a few seconds in your mouth, this is short lived. This is why the longer your chew (especially with starchy, or bready foods), the better. Gives your digestion a head start. Then it travels into your 

Stomach: The acid in your stomach actually shuts off these enzymes from your mouth, preventing them from working further. This means, that carbs are not digested at all in your stomach (boring!). They just wait there until they enter your

Small Intestine: Enzymes (lots of them!) are released here to really break down all the carbs you have just eaten. How fast this occurs depends on the type of carbs you just ate. I think most people have heard of simple vs complex carbohydrates. But what does this actually mean? Actually, it goes back to molecular chemistry (yay chemistry!) So get ready for some science talk real quick: 

Technically all carbs you eat contain a small sugar molecule called glucose. It doesn’t matter if its a candy bar, an apple or a piece of bread. They all contain glucose. What differs between them is the amount of glucose and how glucose is arranged. 

It can be just 1 or 2 glucose molecules together, or glucose can be with another sugar, like fructose. These tiny sugar molecules are what are classified as Simple sugars. Because they are only a few of them with only 1 or 2 bonded together, they are “simple.”

Table sugar (sucrose) for example, is 1 glucose molecule attached to 1 fructose molecule. Or lactose (like in milk products) are 1 glucose molecule and 1 galactose molecule (another type of sugar) bonded together. Since, these are small molecules, it doesn’t take any effort to digest them. Your body absorbs these little guys very fast, since they are already small. 

What has simple sugars in them? Anything with table sugar (sucrose), high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave…..basically anything we would classify as “sugar.” It doesn’t take a lot of effort to digest these things because they are already small. So, the sugar gets absorbed into your blood stream very fast (high blood sugar).

Now imagine you have 1000’s of glucose molecules attached to one another. That’s a lot of glucose! These are your complex carbs. Much bigger molecules, compared to the simple ones that only have like 1 or 2 sugars, hence why they are “complex.” 

These complex carbs are found in your starchy foods (like wheat flours, bread products, potatoes, rice, etc). The enzymes can still break these down into tiny sugars because they are still technically sugar, just more of it. However, it will take longer to break down, because the molecules are bigger, but it still will happen. Once, they are broken down small enough, all these tiny sugars are also absorbed into your blood (high blood sugar). 

This is why if you were ever to measure your blood sugar after eating a candy bar vs. pasta, your blood sugar will be high. It doesn’t matter the source of the sugar, its all sugar and your body treats it the same way.

But if it doesn’t get broken down in the small intestine, the carbs end up going into the

Large Intestine: If you have eaten too much carby foods that your small intestine can’t break down, it is all is up the bacteria in your large intestine to handle. This is why people complain about bloating when they eat too much bread or pasta. That’s the bacteria having to eat all the leftover sugars, causing gas and discomfort (not fun!). 

Now what about fiber?

Fiber is technically a complex carb too. It contains 1000’s of glucose sugars (and maybe some other things too). However, the way the glucose molecules are attached is very different than they are for starches. The enzymes in your small intestine cannot break these molecules down because their bonds are too strong.

This is why we like fiber. Fiber doesn’t get broken down into tiny sugars, but just keeps moving through your digestive system. Because of this, it actually helps slow the process down, and gives your body a chance to break down other things more effectively, so they can be absorbed at slower pace (avoiding that high blood sugar spike!). It also attracts water to your intestines, helping things move along too. This is why you are told to eat fiber to help your digestion. It just helps to “keep things moving.” Which, is what you want. 

So, eating an apple vs. a candy bar is different because an apple contains fiber (and vitamins and other good stuff too!). The fiber in the apple slows the body’s ability to absorb sugar, delaying it from entering your blood. However, the sugar from the candy bar just absorbs directly into your blood (blood sugar spike!), plus it has no other nutrients. Yes, you are still getting sugar from both, but since an apple has other helpful things in it, its actually better for you.

The same principle applies to white bread vs. whole grain brain. The whole grains still have their fiber intact (plus other nutrients!), and the white bread does not.

Now what?

All the sugar you eat, whether its from a simple (sugar) form or a complex (starch) form, enters your liver. Your liver than decides on what to do with it. It sends some to your bloodstream to be used by your body for energy. It stores some of it (for when you need energy later), or it converts it to fat.

You body only needs so much for energy purposes. And your body will never waste anything, it thinks it can use later. It loves to store fat. That is why any extra sugar you eat, will get converted to fat. That’s just your body’s survival mechanism. Unfortunately, this fat (too much of it over time), can lead to problems, like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. This is why we need to be careful.

So, how do you know if you are eating enough carbs, or too much? Well, first: Are you gaining excess weight (or having trouble losing excess weight)? Do you feel bloated or uncomfortable after eating something that is too sugary or carby? Do you get “sugar highs” and then “sugar crashes?” Another symptom, I’ve noticed is heart palpitations after eating too much sugar. Too much sugar can also wreck havoc with your hormones (leading to acne, or even fertility problems overtime). Brain fog, poor sleep, and just lack of energy are also signs of too much sugar. Basically,  you need to watch your physical symptoms after you eat. Everyone is different and there isn’t a one size fits all. The best way is really to just pay attention to your body’s cues. If you think you are eating too much, cut back and see what happens. (Be careful because your body can literally go through a sugar detox, which can take some days to work through). Also, if you cut back on carbs, your body will be looking for an energy source: healthy fats or protein need to be added to compensate. 

If you still are unsure, let me know! That’s my job is to help. Unfortunately our society makes eating healthy very difficult. It’s also a very sugary world out there. I can help you navigate it.

What’s your experience with eating carbohydrates or sugar? Do you feel low carb is better for you? How do you navigate this sugar world? I’d love to hear your experience!

 

My Journey – Part 2

close up of flowers

If you missed part 1, see it here! 

Where we left off…

Even though I had this new outlook in life and newly found confidence in myself, I was still stuck in my current job situation. I still haven’t figured out my new path yet. I still very much felt lost in terms of work and what to do about it. Do I job search? Go back to school? I had no clue. Then something happened out of my control: I was laid off. Or, as they put it: ” I am being displaced.” Thanks.

Yes, most people would probably freak out at being laid off. Which I was, at first. Really, I felt hurt (and maybe embarrassed) that I was one of the chosen ones. But it was the best thing they could have done. I would have never left on my own. I still didn’t have the courage to or a point of direction that would have allowed me to leave on my own. I needed that kick in the pants. I needed a push. Yes, it helped that I got a severance and unemployment. But those funds really don’t last long when you have bills (plus thanks to taxes, they take like half that money away right off the bat, so you really don’t get as much as you think you do on paper).

I got let go in November, so I decided that the following spring I would go back to school full time and finish my Masters in chemistry. For a few years at this point, I was going to school part time, which was taking forever since I was only taking 1-2 classes at time. I took this opportunity to at least finish this degree and be done with it. I only had four classes left, so I just took them all at once.

It was nice being in school full time again. Felt weird because I felt like the oldest one there (I was only like 29, but everyone else was right out of college, so I felt old). I also came from working full time for like 7 years, so I really felt like I was in a different mental place than everyone else. Even though it was a graduate program, majority of the students were in their early twenties and haven’t really entered the work force yet (just out of undergrad). I remember thinking, “you have no idea what you are getting yourself into, “ haha.  (Mind you, I was just burned by the industry, so of course I was bitter).

However, during this time, I really enjoyed being home. Like a lot. I loved getting up and just starting my day when I wanted, and the only worry was going to class. I really wanted to take this opportunity and just catch up on life. Since I had this newly found time freedom, I told myself I have no excuse for getting myself healthy again. I realized that years of job stress contributed to me gaining weight and not putting consistent healthy habits first. I started to workout, everyday (no excuses!). I discovered Zuzkalight and HIIT workouts. I found out that I loved to workout at home and loved the intensity of the shorter workout model. I still workout to her everyday (well, not so much now during pregnancy, but still a few times a week. She is amazing.).

I created my own schedule and routine of getting up, having coffee, relaxing a bit, working out, and then continuing on with my day. I realized that working out first thing was the best for me, and it really set me up for the day. I had more energy and confidence throughout the day on the days I exercised first thing.  I realized the importance of having a good morning routine to creating less stress for the rest of the day (now “morning routines” are all the rage, but back then you never heard about them, so this really was new found knowledge for me).

All these practices I started then, but I still do to this day because I realized that starting the day right, is very important to me. Getting up, having a cup of coffee, and just relaxing for the first hour of the day really does set the tone and mood (plus does anyone else notice that your first cup of coffee (or tea) is the best thing ever?). So, when I eventually did go back to work full time, I never gave this routine up. I rather go to work late, but in the right frame of mind, then start my day with stress and not having “my time.” My productivity is actually better when my mornings are about me, so I always kept these little morning rituals going.

After the semester ended and it was was now summer I realized, “OMG, my first summer off in like 10 years”! It was amazing! I was able to visit my parents during the week and go to the beach. I was able to actually have a summer where it felt like summer. Forgot what that was like. Yes, I was starting to become a little more broke as time went on but I never really actively job hunted.  I hated the idea of going to back to the pharmaceutical industry or corporate life, because I was so miserable before. Yes, finances were starting to stress me out, but I still wasn’t ready yet and honestly, I didn’t really know what to do. (I might have applied to some things online, just to say I did something, but my heart was never in it). I spent this time, still reading and listening to personal development books to keep my mindset in check. I knew that I had to in order to get through this. If I had dwelled on being unemployed or freaked out over my situation, I knew it would not help me. I sort of had this mentality, that everything will work out. I just didn’t know how yet. (Yes, I know I was very lucky to go this long without a job and be able to do this.  Disclaimer: I was still a consultant with Arbonne at this time too, so it wasn’t completely like I was doing nothing. Doing that really helped with the sanity too).

To this day, I am very grateful to my husband for just letting me have this time without pressuring me to get a job. I told him,”everything will work out, it just sucks now”. He really was good to me during this time and allowed me to just figure things out on my own. Yes, our savings was taking a huge hit and we had to cut back on a lot of things. However, reflecting back on this period now, I realized that I really needed time to “reset.” It was like I had left a horrible relationship. I had to rediscover what I really wanted again and to put “me” first.

Right when money was about to become a real issue, something happened. I received an email from the chemistry department chair from my school about becoming an adjunct professor to teach lab. What?! Talk about timing. She knew I had industry experience, and was unemployed so asked me if I was interested. Mind you, I had no teaching experience and if you had asked me to teach like 5 years ago, I would have definitely said no (and thought you were crazy for even asking).  But, I accepted. I felt very flattered that she would even consider me, so I jumped on it.

I was given a freshman chemistry lab course. It was the scariest thing I have done in a long time. I literally had no idea what I was doing. I just followed one of the other lab professors and thankfully, they have a really good lab coordinator who helped me a lot that year. But every single time I had to talk in front of the class, I turned beet red and basically fumbled my way through. This was entirely new territory to me. Since, I was home during the day, I was able to take the time to learn the material before each class so I didn’t look completely stupid to them. I really wanted to be good at this. I would practice in front the mirror a lot and just walk through what I was going to say before each class, so I would feel more comfortable. It was a whole new experience for me.

It didn’t take me long to discover something: I loved teaching. The students were so much fun and I loved showing them lab stuff. It did take me a looooog time to feel at least somewhat confident to talk at the chalkboard, but if I was showing them how to set up experiments or lab stuff, it felt very natural to me. I still loved being in a lab, even if it was just a freshman college lab. I spent 7-8 years in a industry lab setting. I knew some stuff (haha). I taught in a way that felt the most authentic for me. This whole teaching thing was actually kinda cool.

I taught two semesters of just lab. Loved every second of it. Plus, I liked the flexibility of it. Yes, class times were set, but the rest of the time was mine. Since I was only an adjunct, I only had to be there during my class time. I could prep and grade at home on my schedule. Before my third semester at working at the school, I was offered a class upgrade: lecture course. I had a meeting with the department chair and she offered me a chance to teach a lecture in the fall. I had two choices: forensic science (which, yes would have been an interesting class), and nutrition. Well, more specifically, Chemistry and Nutrition. In my head, I was shocked. A nutrition class!! Something about this opportunity felt very good. I mean, they were offering me a class to teach two of my favorite subjects: chemistry and healthy living. Talk about the universe talking. Of course, I jumped on it. I spent the last 10 years teaching myself how to be healthier and obsessing over all the nutrition info I was learning and reading. I really felt this was something, I was meant to do. It may sound so silly, but it felt like the universe really was telling me something at this moment. It truly felt like I was given a huge gift or a big slap in the face, “This is your path! Seize it!”

However, teaching a lecture is completely different than teaching lab. In lab, you are given everything. I didn’t have to write up anything and the whole syllabus was given to me to how to run the class. But for lecture, I had to come up with everything. The lectures, the exams, and all the materials. I was given a book at the beginning and some old lectures/exams from when it was taught years ago which was a starting point. It gave me a baseline to work on. I basically just lectured straight from that book that first year. It gave me structure and a foundation.

That very first day, I was scared to death. Probably more freaked out than when I first starting teaching lab. This was my class. These students were completely dependent on me. Scary thought.  I still feel bad for those first semester students. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was talking about. Also, I felt like I looked like a student, so it was a real test to my confidence. I somehow survived (and so did the students). But after that first semester, I realized that that was the most fun I have had in a long time “working.”

 

(Stayed tuned the Part 3 and where I am now!)