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By Tracy Shields - Make 2014 the year you accomplish your biggest objectives by learning how to train.
For as long as I can remember, the word “goal” has always intimidated me. When prompted to write out my goals for the new year, I would always write down Goliath-like aspirations: quit smoking, lose 20 pounds, start a business, go back to college. Or worse, I would write out boundless, dreamy goals that had no real authenticity and no real plan for attaining any of it: travel the world, find “the one,” become rich and famous (OK, that last one was my goal when I was about 12).
By my mid-30sthirties, I simply gave up on the whole New Year’s Resolution thing and just lived. It seemed a heck of a lot easier. But far less inspiring.
When I hit 40, however, a friend challenged me to do a sprint triathlon. I had never done anything like that, despite working out a few times a week by taking classes at the gym. But it sounded doable: a quarter-mile swim, a 10-mile bike race and a 5K run. What did I need to do to get ready?
You need to train.
I needed to train? And while training, in my mind, was something that only pro athletes do, I figured I’d better do it unless I planned not to cross the finish line.
Training included a set of cardio and muscle-building workouts that lead to better endurance and improved strength and performance. My weekly training looked something like this:
Sunday: 10-mile bike ride
Monday: weight training
Tuesday: light 1.5-mile run
Wednesday: rest day
Thursday: bike 5 miles
Friday 2.5-mile run
Saturday: swim laps
I did this routine for 12 weeks straight and, by race day, I was at my peak fitness and ready for the challenge. And while the race itself was difficult, I doubt that I would have been able to finish if I didn’t train. Did I come in first place? Heck, no. But I was thrilled to finish.
The point of this story has nothing to do with races or triathlons. It has to do with the fact that I accomplished about five of my typical new year’s goals with one challenge:
- I lost weight;
- I was able to buy new, better-fitting clothes;
- I improved my diet by eating better, healthier foods;
- I improved my mood and was better able to manage stress (shocking what a little exercise can do in that department!); and
- I did something new by finishing a triathlon, something that I had never done.
It also made me a firm believer in training for things and working a goal with set parameters. Rather than just putting “exercise more” on your weekly calendar, your chances of success at, say, weight loss are far better if you have something to lose weight for—a wedding, a vacation, a fitness challenge.
The training mindset also works for areas of your life other than fitness. You can train to quit smoking, find a better job, manage debt, take a trip or go back to school. By signing up for something—a weekend retreat (a place where smoking is prohibited), a college course (which might propel you to take even more courses), a chance to win a free vacation (who knows!)—you can train your brain to start preparing for these challenges or opportunities.
Also, whatever event you train for, there needs to be a payoff. Finishing a race is a huge payoff. You might be more willing to workout and get to the gym every day if race day is looming. A spiritual or health retreat is also a huge payoff if it means relaxing peacefully for a long weekend. Although quitting smoking might seem overwhelming, you may be more inclined to quit if it means that you can participate in this future event.
Bottom line? Quit writing out that typical long list of goals and, instead, create one challenge for yourself for which you can train and sign up. By preparing yourself for the challenge, chances are that you will accomplish a lot more than what you set out to do.
Tracy Shields is co-owner of N3 Oceanic, Inc., maker of Res-Q products, a midsize vitamin supplement corporation whose all-natural, heart-focused health products are featured on radio shows across the country, and endorsed by celebrities such as Frankie Avalon and Dr. Oz Garcia. She graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University-Camden with a degree in English literature and journalism, is a Phi Beta Kappa and published writer, and has recently received her certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and Cornell University. She has been featured in SJ Magazine and County Women Magazine (Burlington), is the immediate past president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, South Jersey, was nominated for SJ Biz’s 20 under 40, and is the recipient of the 2014 National Association of Women Business Owners’ Chapter Champion award. Tracy is also a proud mother of two beautiful sons, Daniel and Julien.
Unconventional tips to better eating…
By Tracy Shields - We all know that poor diet and lack of exercise are direct links to weight gain and diabetes. But here are a few unconventional tips to help you rethink the way you approach food.
- Shop smarter and purchase perishables: Don’t know where to begin? Can’t figure out what’s healthy and what’s not? Here’s a failsafe rule to keep in mind the next time you go grocery shopping: Real, whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy can be found around the perimeter of the store; fake, processed foods that have an extremely long shelf-life are found in the aisles in between. So the next time you head out for groceries, buy foods that don’t have a very long life! Stick to the perimeter and avoid going down the aisles. Of course, this makes it impossible to find and purchase things such as rice, beans, nuts, seeds and some mildly processed foods like canned tuna or olive oil. But you get the point. The more you purchase from around the edge of the grocery store, the healthier your choices.
- Set higher standards: Setting low standards for the foods you eat, or rushing to prepare meals, are a huge part of the problem. When we are rushed or couldn’t care less about what we eat, we make bad choices. You wouldn’t pick your husband or wife out of a line up within the span of five minutes, would you?! So why not put more time and effort into the foods you put into your body? When we have more time to create healthier dishes, we avoid things like frozen meals, fast food and boxed dinners that only ask you to add water to make them into a real meal. It’s like dating a guy who just shows up and adds nothing more to the relationship. Time to ditch your low expectations of food and start to realize that your body is a temple. It should only have the best. This doesn’t mean five-star dining every night. It could mean eating a simple apple over a donut.
- Sugar is the enemy: Don’t believe me? If you have time, watch Sugar, the bitter truth, a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig, who has accumulated a massive amount of evidence on the evils of all sugar (not just high-fructose corn syrup) and how heartless it can be when it concerns our health. Did you know that a calorie is not just a calorie? In an article in the New York Times that reviewed Lustig’s lecture, the writer says that “sugar has unique characteristics, especially the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it… We can eat 100 calories of glucose [sugar] (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will metabolize differently and have a different effect on the body.” 1
- Understand marketing: Much of the food we purchase at the supermarket comes from a corporation. And every corporation needs to make a profit. Profits can go up or down depending on competition and, let’s face it, there’s a lot of competition in the food industry. The way in which corporations compete is by the messages they associate with their foods and how well they can convince you, the consumer, to believe in their brand. Trouble is, many companies will say anything to get more business. A perfect example is the marketing history of high-fructose corn syrup. Everyone today knows that it’s bad for you, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s, it was being marketed as a “healthful alternative” to real sugar because, at the time, real sugar was known as a “noxious nutrient.” In other words, it had no value, was lacking in vitamins and minerals, and was an empty calorie. Food and beverage companies marketed drinks with high-fructose corn syrup as being healthier than real sugar! Companies that sold real sugar (sucrose) fought back and, today, it is believed that real sugar is better for you. But again, this is all marketing. According to researcher Luc Tappy, the foremost authority on fructose, high- fructose corn syrup and sugar are nearly identical and processed by the body identically. So the next time you’re at the supermarket, beware of marketing words like “organic” (on processed foods like granola bars), “enriched,” “high-performance,” “good for you” and “whole grain.” Take the time to do your own bit of research. Why? Your life depends on it!
The object of the game is to eat more real foods, those that have rarely, if ever, seen the inside of a food factory or can be marketed in ambiguous ways. Farm-grown foods, homemade (whole grain) breads and fruits that can be plucked from a vine, bush or tree are your best defenses against diabetes.
by Tracy Shields - As a mom, and a woman whose career is based on healthy living and longevity, I have always tried to teach my kids to eat well. I never allowed sodas, never had chips or processed snacks in the house, always made home-cooked meals from scratch with loads of veggies and fruits. You name it. If it was healthy, we ate it.
But when my sons grew into teens, I had a lot less control over their choices and it was time to find out what kind of choices they’d make on their own.
While my one son will still go for the fruits and veggies, the other inevitably goes for the cookies, cakes, potato chips and soda. Every chance he gets, he’s eating as many trans fats and saturated fats as he can possibly stuff into his mouth. No amount of coaxing will convince son #2 to pick up son #1’s good habits.
But that doesn’t stop me from trying to teach him about the good fats: EPA and DHA. Now, more than ever, children and teens not only need to know the benefits of omega-3s, they need to be getting these essential nutrients early in life.
Fact #1: Omega-3s are essential for kid brainpower: Deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to decreased learning ability, ADHD, depression and dyslexia in kids. Conversely, good fats in children’s and teens’ diets help with concentration, focus, increased learning ability and overall brain performance. And because brain development begins in the uterus, higher concentrations of EPA and DHA (the molecules within omega-3s) are most important earlier in life.
Fact #2: Prevention of heart disease starts early: Let’s face it, when we’re 15 years old, we think we’ll live forever. And while it takes years for heart disease to develop, research now shows that it doesn’t take nearly as long as once thought. Our bodies are strong, but they’re not invincible. And much of what made our ancestors strong (eating real, whole, natural foods) is not what our teens are eating today. Make a conscious choice to eat well now so that when you’re in your 40s, you don’t have to worry about all the damage you did when you were a young, indestructible kid. Omega-3s have been shown to be one of our best sources of prevention when it comes to heart disease.
Fact #3: Omega-3s are the building blocks of life: In fact, DHA is responsible for helping our species evolve into humans. One of the most important discoveries of the past 100 years is that DHA, found in seafood, fueled the brain development of early man so much so that we were able to evolve from chimps to humans. That might not seem relevant today. But the truth is, without EPA and DHA in our daily diets, we are stunting our own evolution. The scariest part of this finding is not the study itself, but rather, the reality of what kids eat today. The ratio of omega-3s (EPA and DHA) to omega-6s (like corn oils, which much of our diet consists of now) should be 1:1. That’s an ideal, healthy ratio. Instead it is an alarming 25:1 for some individuals. Most troubling is that “excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a very high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, as is found in today's Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”1
Teach your kids to start taking their health seriously. And teach them the importance of omega-3s. If you take these essential nutrients, chances are that your kids will. If you take Res-Q 1250 liquid, pour a teaspoon in their morning OJ. If you take Res-Q 1250 capsules, cut two open and squeeze into their morning juice. Small change—life-changing.
by Tracy Shields - In my search for the perfect combination of healthy foods that can help me live longer, stronger and possibly prevent problems such as heart disease and diabetes, I came to the conclusion that most diet plans require you to remove things from your daily diet. The Paleo diet insists that you remove grains; low-fat diets want you to remove fat; raw-food diets say you should remove cooked foods; vegetarian or vegan diets aren’t legit unless you remove meat. And while removing excess is a good thing, your goal should be balance. As a rule of thumb, when considering diet plans, Michael Pollen’s famous advice works best: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
But don’t confuse “low” with “no.” And don’t “remove,” just “reduce.” Especially these top-five essential foods…
Good fat The war on fat that we witnessed in the ‘80s and ‘90s has subdued. With new awareness and research, we now know that all fat is not bad and there is a distinct difference between good fat and bad.
Protein Removing meat from your diet is one thing, but removing all protein sources is not a good move.
Fish Vegans would disagree, but eating fish has helped us evolve. Not grains. Not proteins. But fish. And more importantly, omega-3s—the molecules EPA and DHA (DHA in particular)—when they are combined with an equal ratio of omega-6s.
Veggies I can’t tell you how often I hear, “I can’t eat vegetables; they hurt my stomach.” Meanwhile, a powdered donut and coffee never seem to upset.
Some sugars Don’t get too excited. I’m not condoning the kind of sugar on a stick, like cotton candy, saying it’s OK to eat as long as it’s in moderation. You could (and probably should) remove this kind of added sugar from your diet indefinitely. And stuff like high fructose corn syrup is about as alien a thing that you can put into your body, like pouring dish soap into an engine to make it ride. That kind of sugar (the fake kind) is evil. And removing it completely has been known to reverse diabetes, cure ADHD and eradicate a slew of other health woes. The kind that you don’t want to give up is the simple sugars found in whole foods like fruits and veggies that come together with fiber—which helps to slow down the absorption of sugar—and nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, carrots, beets and prunes are all excellent examples of acceptable sugar. Don’t remove them!
Res-Q 1250+ with Calamarine and vitamin D3 is a highly refined omega-3 supplement (good fat!) with a higher DHA to EPA ratio. This product provides well-researched EPA/DHA benefits such as cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation, and brain and eye health. Additionally, Res-Q 1250+ contains vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol, which is the naturally occurring form of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is essential for the vitality of every cell in the body.
Before you partake in your annual Independence Day food frenzy, read this!
By: Tracy Shields- When I was a kid there were only two things that meant 4th of July: hot dogs and fireworks. Well, OK, maybe candy, potato chips, popcorn, apple pie and ice cream, too. Point is, holidays were for bad food. You couldn’t interest me in a leaf of lettuce no matter how cleverly you disguised it. Heck, my mother made me eat a salad every night. Why on earth would I want one on the 4th of July? I was on vacation!
And the cotton candy I got every July at the farm fair? It was a rare treat that I waited for all year.
But that was when I was a kid. In today’s world, that same cotton candy that we were only able to buy once a year is now available all year round at the grocery store.
Holidays used to mean that we could pig out a bit more than usual, and eat fattening foods that we normally wouldn’t eat or couldn’t afford. Foods that were a delicacy, if you will. Now, it’s commonplace to eat like you’re on holiday every day! In fact, many fast-food restaurants tend to replicate summer holiday foods: hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw, corn on the cob, fried chicken, apple pie, and on and on. They offer fast, comfort foods 24/7.
With so many bad food choices made available to us daily (did you know that up to 85% of food at any grocery store is processed?), you’d think the spirit of over-indulgence wouldn’t be any greater for special occasions. You’d be wrong! Most people still pack on an extra pound or two over the holidays.1 And we’re not just eating homemade pies or home-baked breads anymore. We are eating processed, manufactured foods with artificial colors, sweeteners and a myriad of other bad stuff.
So, before you partake in the festivities on the 4th, try not to overdo it, especially if your normal diet is not that different from the holiday diet. In fact, what if you did the reverse and ate healthy on the holiday? We’re not kids anymore. Maybe it’s time to make peace with the lettuce leaf!
FYI: Eating processed foods and those high in saturated fat, and avoiding healthy, raw fruits and veggies can sabotage an otherwise healthy, happy tummy. Natural enzymes—which help you digest—are found in raw, uncooked foods. If you’re not eating at least 85% raw foods, it may be time to supplement with Res-Q All Essential Enzymes. Supplementing with digestive enzymes may help speed digestion, reduce occasional indigestion, reduce demands on the pancreas and possibly enable the body to be free to produce more metabolic enzymes instead. Res-Q All Essential Enzymes provide enzymes that not only digest proteins, but also fats and carbohydrates. Definitely something to celebrate!