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Gluten Free Fitness

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Weight Management and Celiac Disease: Wrapping it Up, Gluten Free Style

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There’s been a lot of ground covered over the past couple of weeks regarding managing your weight on a gluten free diet, and how celiac disease can affect weight control.

In Part 1 of this series, I revealed how I was a cheater at the gluten free diet. In Part 2, we covered some physical and psychological reasons why you may experience weight loss or gain with celiac disease/gluten intolerance. In Part 3, we reviewed some action you can take to lose weight/fat if you choose, on a gluten free diet. In Part 4, we covered strategies for gaining weight in a controlled and healthy manner if gaining is your goal.

The upshot of all this is that whatever you goal is as far as weight and/or body composition, you can achieve it.

And really, achieving those goals in within reach for all of us.

You choose a goal, make a plan to get there, and execute.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

In reality, it may not be quite that easy.

But it doesn’t have to be terribly hard. You can achieve what you set your mind to. You choose a goal-whether it’s to reach the top of those stairs, lose 20 pounds, fit into a smaller pant size, do 10 push ups, squat a bunch of weight, or run a marathon. The only thing stopping you-is you.

We need to get out of our own way. To set aside the preconceptions of our abilities. To shatter the expectations that others may have of us.

For today-choose one thing. Make that one thing your goal for this week. I was talking to a client yesterday, and her goal this week is to bump up her water intake to 3-4 liters a day. That’s a great goal-measurable, achievable and realistic. When that one thing becomes habit and no longer takes work, then you set a new goal. With time, all of these things add up, and you’ve changed your lifestyle in a maintainable way.

In my post on the gluten free diet as a lifestyle, I talked about the definition of “diet” and how it may be more beneficial to wrap our heads around the word/concept in a different way. This is your life. Live in it now, not with “if only” and “should have”.

What’s your goal for this week? Don’t be shy-post it below! When you put it in black and white, it becomes real. Go get ’em!

How I Was a Cheater at the Gluten Free Diet

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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!

Gratitude, Awareness and Prevention: Living a Healthy Gluten Free Bountiful Life

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This is going to be a bit of a one-off blog post: consider this my “op-ed” section. We all as individuals have developed our own opinions and outlooks that are shaped by our own unique experiences. I hope some of you will share your outlook in the comments.

Attitude of gratitude

I like to think I live my life, for the most part, with an “attitude of gratitude.” Just like everyone else, I certainly have my fair share of days where I forget my overall outlook and succumb to a “poor me” day, or get annoyed with things that I really shouldn’t let bother me. In general though, I try to take just a few minutes each day to mentally review all of the wonderful things in my life. (Usually in the shower. Seriously. It’s a guaranteed 10 minutes of quiet time daily.)

Tessa the Queen dog on her couch-throne

Tessa the Queen dog on her couch-throne

As some of you may have read in my previous post, I consider the fact that I have celiac disease to be a blessing in disguise. I work in health care, which is a very stable line of work even in an uncertain economy. I have a family that loves me with all my imperfections. I have a very cool dog. And I have my health. And this is where I hope to share a bit of awareness and hopefully, a bit of prevention.

Metabolic syndrome

In 2007, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute published a paper showing that at that point in time, 47 million Americans (25%) had metabolic syndrome, and I’m quite certain the numbers have grown since that date.

Metabolic syndrome is a term used to describe a collection of health problems that linked with higher incidences of heart disease and other medical problems such as diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

It’s preventable

For the most part, the causes of metabolic syndrome are PREVENTABLE. Some are not, such as genetics, and aging. However, the preventable causes are a large waist circumference, which goes hand in hand with another risk factor, being overweight/obese. Lack of physical activity is another preventable risk factor.

Now before you tune me out, remember that I am not here to preach or judge. I am simply providing information for you to then go and make your independent informed choices. At the end of this article I am going to provide you with some links you can visit for additional information on metabolic syndrome.

Making changes

So what can we do to reverse or prevent metabolic syndrome? (Which will then lower our chances of developing one of these preventable diseases.) Well, it’s simple, but it’s not easy. It will take perhaps a change of perspective, and definitely a change in habit. But it is certainly achievable, and within everyone’s reach.

  1. Weight loss. As little as a 7-10% reduction of body weight will help-I’m not saying you have to be a bikini model. (Although you can certainly do that of you wish!) This will take a combination of eating less, easting smarter, and moving more. It does not mean deprivation or hours upon hours of exercise. What it does take it time, dedication, and consistency. One of my favorite quotes from Lyle McDonald is “Time+consistency+ass busting work=results.” It’s that simple. (not easy-simple.)
  2. A healthy eating plan. This will help with weight loss! And frankly, celiacs have an advantage here as far as I’m concerned. As I mentioned in the “blessing in disguise” post, we already have to be hyper-aware of what goes into our mouths. Naturally gluten free foods can be very nutrient rich and satiating given the right choices. So take it a step further, and use that as a springboard to a weight loss plan. For more specifics on this, please sign up to download the nutrition guide which you will see at the end of this post.
  3. Increase physical activity. Again-will help with weight loss. It doesn’t take hours of extremely intense activity. Start by walking more. As much as possible more. Start with down to the corner if you have to, and gradually progress. Remember, the road to health is not a sprint-this sucker is an ultra-marathon. Start with some, and increase to more, and your progress stalls-increase again. Don’t over complicate it. Walk if you can stand, stand instead of sit, you get the idea.
  4. Quit smoking. Just do it. That’s all I can really say about that. (channeling Forrest Gump.)
Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, you may be wondering why I am choosing to make this post today-to make you feel guilty about eating some goodies tomorrow?

Absolutely not. A handful of holidays a year is not going to make or break your health. It’s the other 359 days that you need to be concerned about.

So go ahead and eat mindfully and with joy. Make smart choices as I mentioned in my holiday season post. But remember this is about the long haul-not one meal. I am writing
because upon reflecting on my gratitude-I am thankful that I have this platform to assist in educating others, and hopefully making their lives better and healthier.

I am very fortunate to have learned about living healthfully and fully early in my life, and sometimes I know I may skip over stuff because it is second nature to me. So call me on it. Ask me to explain something if I’m not clear. My goal is to make information about living well easy to understand and implement. In the words of Jerry Maguire-“help me help you!”

Have a fabulous holiday!


Links for more information on metabolic syndrome