Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Posts Tagged ‘healthy lifestyle

How Do You Handle the Hungry Horrors?

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Since before I can remember, I’ve used the term “hungry horrors” to describe a state of extreme desire to eat. I don’t associate with real hunger because it can occur even when calorie consumption has been met or exceeded for the day.

After a quick online search, I could not find any medical or scientific references to Hungry Horrors even though it is mentioned in numerous anecdotal articles. What surprising is that all the articles I’ve read appear to describe it in the same way.

When the Hungry Horrors hit, eating a moderate amount of food does not provide relief. When you start eating, it just gets stronger. It only goes away when the stomach is completely full. When it is gone there’s an unpleasant bloated feeling – not like the feeling of satiation you get from eating when you are truly in need of food.

Anyone who has had the Hungry Horrors will know exactly what I’m talking about.

I did find an article that offers an explanation of the cause: Explaining the Hungry Horrors. It suggests that it is caused by Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). I believe the effect of  EPOC is overrated. I certainly don’t believe it has a measurable effect days later. Still, I think the article does offer something worth considering and that is that hunger can occur for calorie expenditure that occurred days before.

There a biological process called homeostasis that explains how humans maintain a certain weight in the absence of extreme external factors. Left alone, people will generally maintain a healthy weight with little or no effort.

In light of the current obesity epidemic, one may dismiss the concept of  homeostasis as being effective in maintaining a healthy, but we must consider the external factors that screw up homeostasis. Modern society is fraught with conditions that contribute to weight gain, mostly access to abundant cheap, low quality food and few opportunities for physical exertion.

As individuals we must deliberately find ways to counter the negative factors in our environment. We have to make conscious choices about what we eat and we have to do exercises that simulate what our ancestors did naturally to survive. If we eat what they ate and did what they did, there would be no obesity epidemic.

So how does homeostasis relate to Hungry Horrors? Well, as stated homeostasis is trying to keep a body at a certain weight, but all those external factors have messed up the balance. When we get the urge to eat to bring our weight back up to “normal”, the foods we eat are not sending the right signals to our brain to tell the system to stop sending hunger signals.

If you eat a snack loaded with sugar the weight and volume of that snack is nowhere near what the body thinks it needs to eat to be satiated. So, we eat more. If you were to substitute that sugary snack with a low calorie-density food such as vegetables, you would feel full faster. Unfortunately, the human body becomes accustomed to getting sugar so the craving will still be there even though the hunger isn’t.

When hit with a case of the Hungry Horrors, the body wants the most calorie-dense food that’s available. If all that is available is healthy vegetables, that will satisfy it, but calorie-dense foods are always available. Even if it means getting into the car and driving to a 24 hour store, the urge to do that will be strong – almost unbearable.

In a house full of nothing but healthy foods, I’ve had to fight the urge to pick up the phone and order a pizza. Most of the time, I can make the right choice, but the average person who hasn’t committed to a healthy lifestyle has no chance of fighting the urge.

At times I may seem a little extreme in the advice that I give, but I’m nowhere near as extreme as the environment we live in. I was always a health conscious person but despite that, I saw my weight grow steadily year after year. It was only when I fully acknowledged the forces I was fighting against was I able to turn it around and get back down to a healthy weight.

We have to realize that this is a fight to the death. If you don’t understand the stakes, you will lose. The medical community has figured out tricks to keep us alive despite our bad habits, but is simply staying alive enough?

Since, I’ve started this journey, I’ve had a number of tough conversations with people I care about. By far, the toughest conversation I’ve had was the one I had with myself when I first started. I knew what I needed to do, but I could not see a way to make the changes I needed to take control of my health. I remember coming to the realization that even though I could not see the entire path to the destination, that didn’t mean the path wasn’t there.

Now that I’ve achieved the goal of a healthy body, I have a perspective that helps me understand others who are dealing with weight issues. A part of me wants to force them down the path I just took but I know my path will not be their path. They have to find their own way.

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Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

May 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Obvious Tips About Fitness

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If I read another fitness article telling me to drink water to help lose weight and get fit, I’m going to scream. We get it already – drink plenty of water.

Do you ever get the feeling that there are a limited number of fitness articles that could be written and writers are just putting their spin on the same things we’ve all heard before (myself included)? There may be some people out there that still don’t know the basics, but I’d estimate that about 98% of people interested in fitness already know what they need. I also believe the fitness writers know that we know what advice they are going to provide.

Despite how repetitive it is to get the same techniques and tips over and over again, I will still keep searching for advice. Fact is, to truly know something, we have to be told repeatedly and by several different sources. It was only last year, and only after doing some experimenting myself, that I finally started to truly believe that reducing carb intake was helpful to lose weight. I’m a born skeptic so I need plenty of evidence before I believe something.

  • Here’s a short list of obvious tips about fitness:
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get plenty of exercise – 5 times per week for 40 minutes or more
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep a food diary
  • Weight loss is 90% diet but you need exercise to help keep it off
  • Vary the intensity of your cardio workouts
  • Do strength training at least 3 times a week
  • Do both strength training and cardio
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Avoid sugar as much as you can
  • Fruit contains sugar but can still be healthy in moderate amounts
  • Don’t drink fruit juice, eat whole fruit instead
  • Processed meats are bad for you (I’m looking at you salami)
  • White bread is bad for you
  • Whole wheat bread is better than white bread but still high in carbs
  • Eat foods high in fiber
  • Don’t eat while watching a show or movie or reading a book
  • Eat less later in the day

I’m sure I’m missing quite a few but I got other stuff to do so I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 31, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Staying On Course During a Crisis

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As most people, my health and fitness journey has had its ups and downs. I would commit to eating right and exercising regularly but then would drop everything when a crisis occurred. Even regular events, such as the holidays, would distract me.

Below is a list of a few crisis situations that would derail my health and fitness goals:

  • Car accident
  • Death in the family
  • Sickness
  • Job loss
  • Looking for a new job
  • Getting a new job
  • Buying a new home

My wife and I no longer allow myself to get distracted when a major life events happen. We’ve given up on giving up. Since we made this commitment, we’ve had several life events and managed to stay on course during each one.

To accomplish this required preparation and planning.The first step was to examine our crisis behavior in the past. We looked back at particularly tragic episode in our lives and asked ourselves if putting off our diet and exercise during that time actually helped us cope. We both agreed that we would have handled the situation better if we had continued with our healthy lifestyle. In fact, the unhealthy food and lack of exercise made the situation worse and contributed to the grief and anguish we experienced.

We had given up on healthy eating and exercise when we needed it most.

So now, regardless of whatever happens, we always make time for exercise and continue to eat a healthy diet. It’s been something we’ve come to rely on during times of crisis. It makes me happy to see my wife hop on the treadmill after a tough day at work as a way to unwind rather than sit on the couch watching TV.

One thing that was tough for us to accept was that no matter what happens, our healthy lifestyle is not negotiable.

Currently, my 6 year old daughter is sick. She has a fever that’s been peaking at 104.5 and needs our constant attention. For the past 3 days, my wife and I have had to wake up several times a night to care for our daughter. Last night at 1 AM, she was crying, vomiting and her fever hit 104. It took us an hour to calm her down and get her back to sleep but I stayed awake longer just in case. Despite all that, when I woke a 6 AM, I dragged myself downstairs and ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes – not my best workout but priceless considering the circumstances.

Would it have hurt if I missed my workout this morning? Physically, there would be little harm missing a workout or two. Mentally, if I missed a workout it would have set me back. It’s a slippery slope when you choose to miss a workout.

Nobody would fault me for taking the day off when dealing with a sick child. But, it is just a fever that kids get and I’m not dealing with anything that millions of parents haven’t dealt with before. Missing a workout due to my child having  a common fever would just be an excuse.

There may be times where workouts will be missed for valid reasons. We just have to be honest without ourselves. As for diet, I can think of any reason why one would need to mess up their diet due to a life event. Having a bad day at work is not an excuse to eat more.

When you are committed to a healthy lifestyle you have to plan on what to do when life tries to knock you off course. You can’t go forward with the expectation that nothing bad (or great) will happen. You have to tell yourself that when (not if) an unplanned life event occurs you will still find time to exercise and continue to eat healthy.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 3, 2014 at 11:39 am