Kids + Snacks at School = Obesity

Yum.....diabetes

Are you freakin’ kidding me?  That was the first thought I had when I saw this.

So as many of you know I do some subbing from time to time at the school to help out on times that are hard to fill.  My schedule is completely backwards from the world so I get the privilege of working two jobs sometimes.  I do love getting in the schools though because it gives me great blog material and gives me insight into what I need to be teaching parents so they can educate their kids.

Today, I was in the fifth grade pod.  I know most of you are moms so this is going to hit home for you right away.

Let me set the scene for you.  It’s 5th grade Math.  I am hanging out in the back of the room waiting for the kids to arrive.   The kids finish sleepily slugging through the door and someone yells out

IT’S SNACK TIME.

Oh boy, did that get some excited.  Two kids proceeded to get in an argument about who was going to get the milk.  The bigger kid won, as is usually the case in middle school.

Since I had never taught this grade snack time took me by surprise.

My first thoughts were…

  1. Do these kids really need a snack at 9 o’clock, didn’t they just have breakfast around 7 or 8.
  2. And, are these extra calories going to do ANYTHING for these kids?  Many are overweight the way it is.

Then, the true horror shows starts developing.  I watch the kids as they start to pull out their snacks.

Hold on to your britches here.

Out come Cheez-its, Wheat Thins, Cheetos, Cookie Crisp, and potato skins (yes, I actually went around and wrote everything that I saw down) and to top it all off this was going to be washed down with CHOCOLATE MILK.  22 grams of sugar in that chocolate milk by the way.  Yes, I stole a carton – an empty carton- from a little girl.

Let’s quick breakdown what these kids had.  Take away the fancy marketing and lovely shiny packages and this is what you get…

1.    Processed Nutrient Depleted Flours (its okay they added back in the vitamins and minerals afterwords….sarcasm)
2.    Hydrogenated Oils (trans fat anyone?)
3.    Artificial Colors and Flavors
4.    Loads of Sugar
5.    Preservatives

Seriously, not a single kid in a class of 25 had a vegetable, fruit, or anything ALIVE for that matter.  Zero healthy fats or any significant source of protein except the milk.

What are we teaching these kids by sending them to school with unhealthy snacks?  How are they expected to learn and behave when they are on sugar highs for half the day.  Behavioral disorders are on the rise.  Could poor nutrition be to blame?

Also, by allowing kids to snack while they work is encouraging them to over consume.  This process encourages mindless eating.  You know, the sit on the couch to watch tv with a bag of potato chips and all of sudden its gone syndrome.   Please stop looking around no one stole your chips and no there is not a hole in the bottom of the bag.

Mindless eating is a habit that causes individuals to consume way more calories than they need because their conscious mind is  consumed, no pun intended, with something else.  And, most of the time these mindless foods are nutrient depleted calories to boot.  If we teach kids to snack while they work then every time they start working they will start snacking.

Kids model their behavior after their parents and it all starts in the home.  If you drink pop your kids are going to think its okay to drink pop.  If you don’t wear your seatbelt your kids are going to think its okay to not wear a seatbelt.

If you send your kids to school with snacks like Cheetos and Cookie Crisp your kids are going to think this is just what people eat.

Your children are not going to get educated on what to eat and how to eat in school.  If they do, it’s definitely not sticking, just go look at Walmart.  Help the kids develop habits at a young age so they don’t have to struggle with obesity and the myriad of diseases that are associated with it later in life.

Teach them about REAL food, teach them to cook, take them to a farm to show where food comes from, and most importantly teach them how to fuel their body for a long disease free life.

 If you don’t, WHO WILL? 

Bonus Point:  YOU might even learn a few things along the way.

If you want some ideas for a snack just “like” this article and comment on it in the section below.  Lets get some healthy discussion going.

Talk to you soon

-Trevor

Your Ultimate Fish Guide

Happy Fishy

Fish is an interesting topic for me.

To start, fish are a great source of protein, good fats (omega-3s) and have a healthy ratio of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s. These healthy fats help to reduce cholesterol, reduce inflammation in your body, and keep your heart healthy.

Fish have also been a staple in many of the longest living societies on earth. We as humans (not as bears, well I guess bears too) have been eating fish since the beginning of time.

Fish has for a long time been considered a Superfood but since man has started to run things toxins like mercury and PCB’s are becoming more and more prevalent in our waterways mainly because of the continued use of coal power plants.

Now, we have a catch 22. Fish is a great source of many nutrients but do the nutrients outweigh the risk of heavy metal contamination?

These toxins can be very dangerous because they can accumulate in our body until they reach unsafe levels. Mercury, the most common toxin in our waterways, is a neurotoxin which means it affects our brain and nervous system.

Just for the record, nearly all fish and shellfish contain some mercury, but for most people with the exception of woman and small children the amount is not large enough to be of concern.

We can however minimize  exposure by choosing fish with lower mercury levels and limiting intake to only a few times a week.

Check out this handy dandy mercury calculator to see if you are taking in too much.

Also a quick and easy guide is to only eat fish lower on the food chain. These fishies are going to have lower levels of mercury. Fish that live for a long time and are big dog, err fish, predators typically have much higher contamination levels.

i have put together a quick and easy guide on selecting the best seafood with the lowest levels of mercury just for you.

*The following info comes straight from the FDA and EPA

Fish and Shellfish Mercury Levels

 

LOWEST MERCURY LEVELS (Enjoy 2-3 servings/week)


• Anchovies
• Butterfish
• Catfish
• Clam
• Crab (domestic)
• Crawfish/Crayfish
• Croaker (Atlantic)
• Flounder*
• Haddock (Atlantic)
• Hake
• Herring
• Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
• Mullet
• Oyster
• Perch (Ocean)
• Plaice
• Pollock
• Salmon (Canned) Stay away from farmed salmon (may contain PCB’s)
• Salmon (Fresh) Stay away from farmed salmon (may contain PCB’s)
• Sardine
• Scallop*
• Shad (American)
• Shrimp
• Sole (Pacific)
• Squid (Calamari)
• Tilapia
• Trout (Freshwater)
• Whitefish
• Whiting

 

Highest Mercury Levels (Avoid Eating)

• Mackerel King
• Marlin*
• Orange Roughy
• Shark*
• Swordfish*
• Tilefish*
• Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi)*

 

High Mercury (Eat 3 servings or less per month)

• Bluefish
• Grouper*
• Mackerel
• Sea Bass
• Tuna (Canned Albacore)
• Tuna (Yellowfin)

 

Moderate Mercury (6 servings or less per month)

• Bass (Striped, Black)
• Carp
• Cod (Alaskan)
• Croaker (White Pacific)
• Halibut (Atlantic)
• Halibut (Pacific)
• Jacksmelt (Silverside)
• Lobster
• Mahi Mahi
• Monkfish*
• Perch (Freshwater)
• Sablefish
• Skate*
• Snapper*
• Tuna (Canned Chunk Light)
• Tuna (Skipjack)*
• Weakfish (Sea Trout)

* Fish in trouble because of low numbers and environmentally destructive fishing methods.

** Try and stay away from farmed fish. They are typically fed an unnatural diet which produces an inferior health damaging product. Stick to wild and do your research before you buy. A great online resource is

Source: National Resources Defense Council

Stick to the lowest mercury list and you will be just fine. The fish on this list are a great addition to any diet. Woman who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and children should decrease portion size or limit their intake.  This is advice from the FDA not me.

My advice: Pregnant women should stick to a high quality krill oil and then you don’t have to worry about contamination. Krill are the lowest on the food chain and also tested to make sure they are contaminant free. Plus, krill are so abundant in the ocean we don’t need to worry about overharvesting. Take Krill Oil and consider yourself a genuine, hemp wearing tree hugger, only if you want to of course.

Also….

  • If you are still skeptical and don’t want to take your chances with fish MAKE SURE you are consuming a high quality Krill Oil.
  • If you don’t like fish or do not eat fish on a regular basis MAKE SURE you are taking a high quality Krill Oil.

Learn more about Krill Oil HERE.

Editor’s Note (aka Trevor): Krill is a supplement I recommend to every single person I come in contact with. If you are at ALL serious about your health and longevity start taking Krill Oil. YES, IT IS THAT IMPORTANT.

 

Sweet Tools:

Mercury Calculator — find out if you are consuming too much mercury

Buy Wild & Fresh Healthy Seafood Online

 

The Secret to Longevity

Since it is indeed Recovery Week I find it only fitting to include a quick article about recovery and why it is so important I dedicate an entire week to it.

I am just like most of you. I want to go go go and never let off the gas pedal. This works great for awhile but just like any Ferrari if you don’t take time to change the oil, rotate the tires, or tune up the engine you are just one drag race away from a blown tire or engine. The non-stop attitude although awesome in the short-term is not a long-term approach for longevity. The go go goer will typically end up in one of two ways.

The Injury

The first is injuries.

Most of us don’t take breaks until our knees start hurting or our shoulder feels like someone took a sledgehammer to it. We then proceed to take off as little time as possible, to heal up just enough to get back to doing what we were doing before we got injured. We then repeat the cycle beating our body down more and more each time.

Finally, our body says it has had enough and forces us to take time off. During this time we become deconditioned and many times disinterested in exercise again. Now, it’s a struggle to even get ourselves in a routine again.

The Burnout

The flipside is we simply burn ourselves out. I most commonly see this with runners or the chronic cardio crowd. You can only take so much mind numbing repetitive motion before you want to run right off a cliff.

You start dreading your workouts and in turn the workouts suck because you are not motivated. Progress stalls and disinterest gets greater. Most then simply give up and opt for nothing. Now, after a few months or years we are back to where we started.

So how do trainers, coaches, and elite athletes eliminate these problems from happening?

We incorporate scheduled off–weeks or deload weeks to allow the body to recover and mind to rejuvenate.

The Science

Here is a quick science lesson for you. The body doesn’t get stronger while you work out. It is actually quite the opposite. The workout is only the stimulus; you actually “injure” the muscle during every workout. It is during the recovery period, the repair process, that you get stronger.

Those of us, myself included, that think breaks are for wussies keep tearing our body down day after day and never give it time to recover. Our body is a very smart system. If you won’t give it a rest, it will find a way to rest somehow which usually manifests itself through the two ways we talked about earlier, injury or burnout.

I have had some of my best weeks of workouts AFTER a good week of recovery and have many times been much stronger from NOT lifting for a whole week.

What to do?

The recovery week doesn’t mean sit on your bum all day, eat potato chips (don’t worry they are trans fat free) and watch reruns of The Wonder Years. We still need to be active and moving, but without the I need to “workout” mindset. Just let it happen.

Here are a few quick tips on what you can do during your off-weeks to ensure proper recovery and progress for years.

1. Emphasize Recovery Activities

This means lots of foam rolling, flexibility, and mobility folks. Also, probably a massage and some hot baths as well. Get your husband or wife to warm up a hot tub for you and make sure he/she lights a few candles too. Then, here comes the hard part — relax. Repeat, 3-4 times for the week!

2. Do Something Different.

We do lots of strength training and movement exercises in class. Spend 30 minutes and focus on your joint mobility, especially the hips for those of you who sit a lot. As we age and stop moving through full ranges of motion we lose this mobility. This then leads to joint problems, increases the risk of falling, and the overall “its hard to sit down and stand up” syndrome (not quite a scientific term yet).

Go rollerblading, ice skating hiking, explore the woods behind your house or some other activity you don’t normally do. Learn something new.

3. Play!

This is something we do not do enough. To me it seems as people get older they forget how to genuinely and spontaneously play without form. No rules or guidelines, just play. Society conditions us to be very rigid and responsible and don’t forget to follow the rules. Keep that shirt tucked in and stand up straight. Sometimes we need to just have an impromptu game of tag or touch football. How about hide and go seek, cops and robbers, or backyard wrestling. The beauty is not in the game played but in the spontaneity of free form creativity.

Start a wrestling match with your kids, get the dog going, or just run around the house screaming. Don’t think just go.

Remember, we need to take breaks every so often. Fitness for life is not a sprint but a marathon filled with many sprints and breaks. Having scheduled breaks allows you to recharge your mind and body. Sometimes, its even great to just take a week off and focus nothing. Maybe sleep a little more or spend that hour planning out your meals for the week.

No workout program is perfect and as we age we need more breaks. Last I checked, you and I are not 15 anymore.

For me, this really hit home when after a weekend basketball tournament we played 6 games in 2 days. I was exhausted and each game became increasingly hard to warm-up for. Then, the ah ha moment hit when I tried to get out of my car after the 3-hour drive home. To say the least, I was prepared to die in that car before having to move my legs to get out. 10 years ago I did this EVERY weekend and then played more when I got home.

I guess the moral of the story is, the older you get the more recovery you need. This doesn’t mean you don’t work hard, but it does mean you need to take time to get stronger.

-Trevor

Knowing vs Doing

Are you thinking too much?

You should be eating more vegetables.

I know.

Frequent protein intake will help you lose weight.

I know.

You should eat something before you come in to workout.

I know.

Stop drinking soda (I wrote pop originally because I am from the Midwest but was reminded subconsciously by my cheese-head friend that pop is a sound, stupid social conditioning).

I know.

The list goes on and on.

I hear a lot of “I know” everyday and most frequently from people who are not making very good progress. The people that make exceptional progress are doers.

I say “You need to eat more veggies” and they say “Consider it done,” or “This is how I am going to accomplish it.”

Knowledge is great, but when you don’t do anything with it its useless. Stop wasting your time acquiring knowledge, you know enough, and start doing.

Weight loss is an easy process, its whole lot of doing and a lot less knowing.

Stop “knowing” and start “doing.”

Lose Belly Fat Yesterday

Question:  How do I get rid of belly fat or more specifically what abdominal exercises should I do to rid myself of this flabby mid-section?

Ah, the belly fat question.  This is going to be a fun one.

Ab exercises will not specifically decrease the fat in your abdomen.  If you want to stop reading you can but I guarantee you will learn some more if you read on.

In the fitness world we call this idea spot reduction, taking bodyfat away from a specific area of the body.  Unfortunately, we have yet to figure out how to do it with any type of consistency and the person who figures it out is going to be a multi-billionaire.  Cross your fingers for me please.

Don’t write me off too fast, we CAN get rid of it but it takes some specific strategies.  Today I am going to teach you a few strategies I have learned along the way that could assist you in your quest for that flat stomach.

But, before you get the secret tips we need to learn a few things so don’t skip right to the end.  The following info is very important for you to understand how to lose that middle.

Our body is an extremely complex system thus many different factors contribute to how quickly we lose fat.  I am not saying this to complicate things but to help you realize that lasting fat loss is a lifestyle change not a fad ultra-low calorie grapefruit diet.

Diet, exercise, hormones, sleep quality, stress, hydration status, genetics, and a whole host of other things I can’t think of off the top of my head all contribute to the rate at which someone loses weight.

I know that might seem like a lot to think  about so I broke it down even more into one key principle that must be present for fat loss to occur.

Calories expended must be greater than calories consumed.

Everyone knows how calories are consumed.  Yes, you are correct, through your mouth.  Unless of course you are IV fed, although awesome, its pretty rare so I am assuming you are a mouth feeder.

Instead of teaching you how to put food in your mouth lets take a quick look at the ways we expend calories throughout the day.

1)    Metabolism (Resting Metabolic Rate) 60-70% of total 

The calories you burn just to keep yourself alive.  Think heart beating, breathing, cells regenerating etc…

2)    Activity Induced 20-30% of total 

These are the calories you burn through exercise (think boot camp) but also through daily activity such as housework, mowing the lawn, sprinting from your car to make it to work on time.

3)    Dietary Induced (Thermic Effect of Feeding) 10% of total 

This is the energy it takes to digest food.  In case you are wondering it takes almost twice the energy to metabolize protein than fats and carbs.  Hmm, another reason to eat more protein.

So now we know how we expend energy, lets put it all together to help us lose weight.

Lets say your maintenance, not gaining or losing, calorie needs are 2000 calories.

In order to lose weight you have to burn more than 2000 calories or take in less than 2000 calories or a combination of both to be in a caloric deficient state, ie: weight loss.

What most people will do is simply cut calories big time and the weight will start to drop.  Well, unfortunately our body recognizes this and slows its metabolism to match our energy intake.   The body’s main goal is survival and it could care less about your weight loss goals.  Through this method people typically deprive their body of some much needed nutrients because they are not eating enough food and also sending their hormones for a ride because they stop eating fat.

A more effective way to create a deficit is to increase our daily expenditure through one of the three methods above while simultaneously making BETTER food choices.

Looking at the percentages it becomes obvious that the most effective process to focus on would be metabolism.  Now, all of sudden we are burning more fat while we work, eat, sleep etc… Just the way we want it.

How do we increase our metabolism?

1.    Build more muscle!  Ever wonder why it’s easy for muscle bound people to stay skinny?  Their metabolism is like a Ferrari because of the muscle they carry around.  Muscle is expensive (lots of calories burned) to maintain.

2.    Interval Style Training.   This type of training creates an “afterburn” effect where you burn massive amounts of calories in the 24-48 hrs postworkout as your body is trying to repair itself.  (This is the exact principle Functional Fitness Boot Camp is based upon).

Remember though, it is almost impossible (I say almost because I have seen a few people, elite college athletes exercising 15 plus hours/week do it.) to out train a bad diet.   You, my reader cannot, I’m sorry.  You have a life.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this example for a second.

One cookie is 200 calories.  You need to walk (3-4 mph) for 60 minutes to burn that off.  60 minutes of walking for a freakin’ cookie that took 30 seconds to consume, now that is crazy.

Case and Point:  Diet is King.

Before I bore you anymore I will get back to the whole reason for writing this blog.:  ridding ourselves of belly fat.

To decrease abdominal fat you don’t need the latest and greatest ab exercises  (ie: that stupid cruncher on TV infomercials) nor do you need hours and hours of crunches that will wreck your neck and back.

As far as I know, and I read A LOT, there is no specific way to target abdominal fat (outside of hormone manipulation but that is out of the scope of this article).   We target total body fat by changing our food choices, doing demanding workouts, and building muscle and then let our body work its magic.  It will get to the stomach region at some point, but for some people it takes longer than others.

Permanent fat loss is a simple process that requires lots of hard work and a long-term approach.  I’m sorry but there are no quick fixes.

I hate to burst your bubble but that is the way it is and someone needed to tell it to you straight.  If anything changes and fat loss becomes super super easy and everybody is doing it, you will a) notice at Walmart or b) if you still have not noticed I will tell you.

So after this ramble lets put it all together and add in a couple extras for good measure.

Quick Review:

Diet is the #1 way to get rid of abdominal fat.  Oh, it’s the #2 way as well.

This does not mean dieting or restricting our intake.  It means changing our food selection and eating foods with higher nutrient density.  Simply eating more nutrient dense foods will normalize hormones; cause you to consume less, thus putting you in a caloric deficit.  Combine this with the right exercise and you have yourself the recipe for success.

Recipe:  The fastest way to lose belly fat

  •  Increase protein intake (your body expends about twice as many calories metabolizing protein than carbs or fat)
  • Reduce and eliminate REFINED carbohydrates in your diet
  • Eat until you are 80% full
  • Combine diet with strength training and interval training (what we do it boot camp) at least four days week.

Also just for good measure here are a few hormone tricks to help specifically with belly fat which has been shown to correlate with high cortisol levels and very stressful life.

1.    Frequent protein meals (this is the easiest snack ever)
2.    Adequate “quality” sleep (7-8 hours)
3.    Stress Reduction Strategies (meditation, exercise etc…)
4.    Reduce carbohydrate intake (eliminate REFINED carbs)
5.    Eat majority of carbs around workout window (before, and 1-2 hours after)

 

That is all folks.  Fat Loss = the right principles + a lot of hard consistent work over the long term.  Easy formula, hard to implement.

Get after it

-tw