Gluten Free Fitness

Motivation

How I Was a Cheater at the Gluten Free Diet

4 Comments

How I Was a Cheater at the Gluten Free Diet

Yup, I was a cheater. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I cheated on the gluten free “test.”

How is this? What the heck do I mean?

I didn’t cheat in the sense you may be thinking. I didn’t, and don’t, eat any gluten foods. But I was cheater in the sense that my “test” of going gluten free may have been easier than it was for some people.

Here’s why:

Diet and exercise

Prior to being diagnosed with celiac disease, I had over the years been moving more and more toward a diet of primarily unprocessed whole foods. I was finding I had a love for exercise, and a desire to see where my drive and ability could take me from an athletic perspective. I was focusing more on body composition (fat vs muscle ratio-how you look and perform) and was educating myself on how food impacted how I looked and felt. So although at that point I was still ingesting gluten, I was not eating much at all of processed gluten foods like bread, pastas, etc.

Hidden gluten sources

When I was diagnosed, my biggest challenge was learning hidden gluten sources. It wasn’t hard for me to give up bread and pasta because I had already minimized them. Going gluten free was simply one more step in my nutritional journey. I stopped eating grocery store brand oatmeal, tried buckwheat and quinoa flakes (because GF oats were not widely available then) and increased my rice and potato intake, along with fruits and veggies. So yes-it was a change, but not a life-altering-OMG-this-changes-everything-and-requires-a-complete-overhaul moment.

Different starting points

So that’s how I was a cheater. I had it easier than many of you. I admit that. If you are starting from a more typical diet, which includes a good bit of bread, pasta, cereal, breaded stuff-it’s going to be a tougher transition. However, I think the fact that I cheated has given me perspective on how you can make the gluten free diet a healthier one, if you so choose. I am not saying that everyone needs to eat only naturally gluten free foods.

If you choose to eat gluten free breads/pastas/etc that’s not a bad thing. If it’s working for you-you’re happy with your health and weight, absolutely have at it. But what I keep hearing are stories of people who have gained weight either before or after their diagnosis, or those who lost weight and want to regain it-but in a healthy manner. Also, the idea that the gluten free diet is expensive or lacking in nutrients-this is not necessarily the case. Like all things-it depends. Sure, it can be-but it doesn’t have to.

Small steps

If you want to transition to a less processed and more nutrient dense (for the calories) version of the gluten free diet, don’t try to make wholesale changes. Take it one step at a time. Make the changes over time, and gradually. Give your brain and body time to get in sync, to get used to the new perspective and new food. You can totally do it. Give yourself permission to change, and start slowly.

Other options

There are many wonderful options out there now that are gluten free versions of ordinarily gluten foods. Also, there are an increasing number of health and nutrition conscious options-companies are beginning to use more whole grains and being aware of sugar content. These also weren’t widely available when I was diagnosed, so I guess I cheated there too. And my habits were built without these options. They are fabulous to have as an occasional treat though!

Weight management

From what I have observed and what you have told me, the issues of health as it relates to weight management (whether weight loss or weight gain) are big issues in the celiac/gluten intolerant community. This is the first in what will be at least a 4 part series of posts (I reserve the right to make it longer) on food, weight, celiac disease and the gluten free diet. Please leave comments below and weigh in (pun intended-really bad pun, but intended) with your thoughts.

Have you found weight to be an issue? What challenges do you face in managing your weight? Speak up!

Top 10 Misconceptions on Getting Fit and Healthy

2 Comments

In no particular order, and this is my opinion. There’s certainly more than 10.

Fit. Healthy.

These words may mean different things to different people. Actually, I am sure that they do, as well all have our own frames of reference. Here’s what I’m referring to here in the context of this article.

Fit and healthy means having the physical ability to do the things you want to do without getting out of breath.

It means being able to open a heavy door, carry bags of groceries, go up and down stairs. (By the way-this is the definition according to Erin-this is not Webster’s by any stretch of the imagination.) It means being able to play with your kids-really play with them, not lie down on the floor and let them climb on you because you don’t have the energy or ability to do anything else. It is the ability to live your life and do what you want to do, without self-imposed, changeable physical limitations. Are we straight? OK, here we go!

Top 10 Misconceptions on Getting Fit and Healthy

1) I have to exercise a lot.

This is not true. Actually, I should clarify. It depends on what you call “a lot.” If 30 minutes daily or at least 6 times a week is “a lot”, then maybe yes. However, you do not have to do all structured exercise-meaning going to the gym, lifting weights, or doing cardio. It can be activity-take the dog for a walk, throw the football, play frisbee, whatever.

The most important thing is to get off your duff and move. Don’t sit when you can stand, don’t stand when you can walk. Get up and walk around the house or office every 20-30 minutes. Go window shop. Clean the house-talk about getting immediate gratification and burning a bunch of calories. I wanted a cleaning service until I wore the Bodybugg and cleaned the house. (My fiance was very happy, because I dropped asking about getting a cleaning service after I learned that.)

Cleaning house can easily burn 200-300 calories-depending on the size of the house and exactly what you do, of course. Pace while you’re on the phone. The moral of the story is just move.

2) I have to eat 6 times a day.

Nope. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. Research has shown that a isocaloric diet (same amount of calories and composition) shows no “metabolic advantage” as far as calorie burn goes, to eating more often. You don’t have to “stoke the metabolic fire.”

Some people find that they feel better eating smaller meals more often. Some like a few larger meals. Some like meals and small snacks. Have at it! Any of it! Whatever will help you eat consistently well, and fits into your lifestyle, is what you should do.

3) I don’t have time to exercise.

Really? Now this is not going to win me any fans, but would you ever say you don’t have time to brush your teeth? Take a shower? You find time to do the things that are important to you. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, we all have responsibilities and things we have to do. If something is important-you figure it out and make it happen.

If someone said they’d give you a million dollars if you exercised, I bet you’d find a way to get it done. And again-it doesn’t have to be organized exercise, although it can be. It early in the morning, before the day gets crazy, before the kids/husband/wife/significant other/dog gets up is the only time-do it! If you can get out at lunchtime-do it! To quote Nike: just do it. Pick a time, and do it. Go. NOW!

4) I don’t have time to cook.

See number 3. Also, cooking can be much less expensive, as well as much better for you. If you shop smart, buying sale items, stocking up, you can eat healthfully for a reasonable expenditure. You can also cook large amounts of staple items so you have good food ready to go.

Click here for a post on planning ahead. Make good friends with your slow cooker. And again-you make time for what is important to you.

5) People that are fit are just lucky/genetically gifted/freaks of nature.

This, personally, drives me insane. If someone says to me-“You’re so lucky” I tell them:

Actually, luck has nothing to do with it. Time, consistency, and a lot a hard work and good nutrition do.

Yes, we all have different and unique genetics. However, that does not limit you from becoming the most healthy and fit person you can be. If you have concerns, see your doctor to rule out health issues. Then get moving!

6) I don’t want to get bulky.

This comes from women. I promise you, you will not get bulky. You can-but it would be very intentional, and wouldn’t happen overnight, and may require exogenous hormones.

I hate to say it, but what many people refer to as “bulky” is most of the time just fat.

If you got leaner, you wouldn’t think you had too much muscle on your thighs anymore, I can almost guarantee it. When fat covers muscle, that is when the perception of bulky occurs. For the most part. There are very few women who are genetically blessed to put on muscle easily. This is NOT the majority. Chances are very good it’s not you.

I promise you, I lift as hard and as heavy as I possibly can, and I am not bulky. Unless I’m carrying too much fat. Then I could be bulky-but it’s fat-not muscle, and when I lean down viola-not bulky. Leigh Peele, whose work I respect and enjoy, has written on this subject and you can read up on it here.

7) I don’t like healthy food.

Nobody really likes boiled chicken and broccoli. However, that is not what you have to eat. You do not have to suffer to lose weight and/or get fit/be healthy. There’s a big wide world of food variety to try!

You can add flavor to foods with spices, herbs, citrus, marinades, rubs, various preparation methods-the world is your oyster (or clam, or shrimp, or salmon-get it?)

Branch out, read food magazines or sites, wander around the farmers market or grocery and try something new. There are a metric ton of wonderful resources-and many food blogs that are specifically gluten free.

If you see a recipe you like-take a look and see how it can be modified, if necessary, to meet your nutrition goals. After you do this a few times it becomes very easy and second nature. I get ideas from the Food Network, and then modify as needed for gluten free and healthy. There’s no reason for you to eat anything you don’t like. There are many options.

8) I can’t live without _______ (chocolate ice cream, bacon, deep fried onions, candy etc.)

You don’t have to.

Just make an indulgence just that-an occasional indulgence. Set aside a Saturday dinner to eat what you want or what you’ve been craving. When you’ve been eating well all week, you can have that bit of indulgence with no guilt and no repercussions.

If you haven’t been eating well all week, then you may want to reconsider. Figure if you eat well 80-90% of the time, take that remaining percentage and have a little bit of an indulgence. That doesn’t mean a whole bag of Pamela’s Chocolate Chip Simplebites (been there.) Have a few, enjoy them, put them away. In the freezer if necessary. Then enjoy guilt free again the following week.

9) I have to get in shape before I start going to the gym.

Nope, just go. No one there cares, they are all too busy worrying about themselves. Just start, give yourself permission to begin.

I am always inspired to see people who are new to exercise and the gym, or who are coming back from a layoff. It takes a big decision to make that first step. Little bits at a time, but start. Just begin. Preferably today. Go for a walk. The article will be here when you get back.

10) It’s too hard.

Well, I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. But what is harder-making a change, or staying the way you are?

Changing behavior first requires a change in perspective. Are you truly satisfied and content with your currrent health and fitness status, your appearance and weight? If so-then stay the same, that’s awesome. If not-make a change.

Choosing to make a change is probably the hardest part. Actually taking the first few steps to change is pretty hard too. But then it’s like a snowball effect-you start to feel/look better, you have more energy, so you want to do more to improve your life. Inertia is very powerful. You can’t escape physics-a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Get in motion, and give it time to have inertia kick in.

Act now

So for today-take 1 step, make 1 choice to help you achieve your goals. Don’t give in to the misconceptions and poor information that is so pervasive. Get educated, make your own decisions. Move forward.

What misconceptions have you heard or seen? What steps have you taken? Do any of these ring true for you? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

The Celiac Disease Foundation and Team Gluten Free™

No Comments

From the Team Gluten Free website:

Team Gluten-Free™, is a fundraising arm of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public benefit corporation dedicated to building awareness and a supportive community for patients, families and health care professionals dealing with Celiac Disease. Team Gluten-Free™ provides a way for runners, walkers, and cyclists to raise awareness and funds through pledges for their participation in local and regional road races. The money raised by participants goes directly to research, awareness, and summer camp scholarships for children with Celiac Disease.

They are currently creating teams to compete in various races around the country. What a great way to help yourself with your fitness goals, and to help raise money and awareness for celiac disease? A win/win I say!!

For more info please go to the Team Gluten Free website.