staying-healthy-while-self-isolating

Staying Healthy While Self Isolating

Hi, it’s Ivana.

For those of you that are new here, I’m an online fitness and nutrition coach.

I’m also currently self isolating with my husband and my five year old son.

We recently traveled to Costa Rica, so we’re doing our 14 days of self isolation.

My goal is to help you get fit, healthy and strong at any age.

And right now there’s a big focus on our health. Not surprisingly.

My upcoming videos will be slightly different in tone.

I’m going to be a bit more raw on edited, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be having any fun, so don’t worry about that.

Staying home is the right thing to do right now and I really want to help you through this process. I want to support you during this slightly more challenging time, so make sure that you subscribe to my channel and hit the bell so that you’ll be notified every time I release a new video.

I’m going to be doing that every week I’m getting today. I’m going to give you five tips for staying healthy while self isolating, which obviously is key for me right now. Now, the last one that I’m going to talk about is so important right now. So stick around until the end. It’s not a long video, but I think I’ve got some important things that can really help you out.

Exercise While Self Isolating

I’m going to start with number one, and that’s exercise. If you’re still able to get outside, away from other people, then walk or jog or ride your bike or whatever you can do, do it. Get out there while you can really enjoy it. Uh, it’s a great way to clear your mind and feel a little bit better if you’re stuck completely indoors like we are, it may seem hard. I live in a condo, it’s less than a thousand square feet.

I know what it’s like. It can feel challenging to be in a smaller space, but when it comes to exercise, you don’t need a lot of space if you know what to do. Um, I’ve been doing dance parties with my son. We basically just turn on our favorite music and dance around like nobody’s watching.

It’s a lot of fun.

I lifted up in the air, I spin him around. It’s a great workout for me and honestly, those are some of the most joyous times of my life.

Some really great things can come out of this experience. You can also do homework outs with just your body weight. I’ve actually already created a video that I created as a travel workout, which obviously doesn’t work right now. Uh, but it’s perfect for doing a simple workout in a small space and I’m going to be doing some more of those type of videos for you as well.

Make sure you subscribe and hit the bell to make sure you get notified when I do have those released.

I’ll be trying to put those out fairly regularly.

Eat The Best You Can While Self Isolating

And now my next tip is eat the best you can.

Getting food that you need, maybe more of a challenge right now. So don’t feel bad if it’s not exactly what you would normally eat.

Fresh veggies and fruit might not be available as much as they usually are.

Remember that frozen veggies and fruit are just as nutritious as fresh ones.

In some cases they’re actually more nutritious because they’re frozen at the time when they’re at the peak of, of their freshness. And then that maintains the nutritional value. They don’t have time to spoil like fresh food does protein sources as well. And they also be harder to get.

We ran out of chicken the other day, which is a major staple for us, so we had to improvise with some extra eggs and then we had some meat that was in the freezer, so we’d do frosted that canned fish like tuna and salmon can also be a good option.

Other canned food like beans and the goos nuts can also be a good choice for healthy fats. If you have nut butters, either peanut butter or almond butter or something like that, these foods can keep for a long time so you don’t have to worry about them going off. They can add nutritional value to your diet at this time.

Focus your meals on protein and veggies and then small amounts of starchy carbs.

Then you might want to have fruit afterwards. Maybe this as a dessert.

Take Care Of Your Mental Health

Tip number three, take care of your mental health.

A lot of people are talking about self care right now. It’s really important for me. It means taking the pressure off yourself to do everything perfectly. You don’t have to do everything exactly as you always do. Your kids won’t suffer if they have a bit more screen time than usual or my son’s case, a lot more screen time than usual.

I try to get my son to see this as an adventure.

It’s really, it’s early days and we’re healthy and that’s the main thing. We’re playing and trying different things.

Try to take care of yourself during this tough time.

Manage Sleep While Self Isolating

The next tip is sleep.

Now’s the time to really pay attention.

Sleep will keep your immune system in optimal condition and we definitely want that.

Don’t stay up late. Checking the internet for the latest updates about Covid-19 which is what I did for the first few days and it made me feel really anxious right before bed and I’m trying to change that now so I’m not doing it right up until the time I go to bed.

Give yourself an hour away from those devices before you try to go to sleep. You’ll sleep better and you’ll get to sleep better.

Find Gratitude

And now the last one, the most important tip is find gratitude.

This may feel hard in many ways, but most of us are lucky to be at home with the internet, with books, toys and games for our kids. If you’re lucky enough to be healthy right now, be grateful because many people aren’t. If your home is a and loving place, be grateful for that.

I’m really grateful for for my family, for my husband and my son.

I’m keeping in touch with the rest of my family.

There are people in this world living in fear for their lives and some have very bad home circumstances. So if you do have a loving home, be grateful for that. As we all face this challenge together, try to be grateful for what you have.

I live in a wonderful community. Last night one of our friends and neighbors delivered beer and chocolate, which we consider necessities for the weekend because we can’t go outside right now.

So I’m grateful for my family and my friendships around the world.

I’m taking the time to check in on everybody and make sure that they’re doing okay during this time. Uh, this is not just a stressful time for people who are sick, but also for people who suffer from depression and anxiety and those things. Please check in on those people as well.

How are you doing right now?

How are you coping with this situation?

What other videos would you like me to do to support you during this time?

Just let me know in the comments and I will do my best to provide the kind of videos that you want right now. Thanks so much for watching and I’ll see you soon.

Ivana Chapman

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Healthy Foods That Secretly Suck

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Most of us try to eat a variety of foods that we consider “healthy”.

As our weight goals come and go, the desire to be healthy always feels important.

What do we have without our health, right?

I’m a proponent of healthy and sustainable weight loss.

Although any food can be part of a healthy nutrition plan (my preferred word for DIET), there are some foods that get the health halo.

A Health Halo is the perception that a particular food is good for you even when there is little or no evidence that it’s true.

The media and clever food marketers are responsible for this trickery and it’s often difficult to change people’s perceptions.

But I’ll try…

Here Are The Foods That Are Perceived As Healthy But Actually Suck:

1) Juices

Whether it’s detox juices, 100% real juice for kids, or the juice bar concoctions that can pack hundreds of calories, juices are not as healthy as they may seem.

You don’t need to juice your food.

Taking all that sugar without the fibre doesn’t improve the nutritional value.

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Fiber is an important nutrient and improves digestion, manages blood sugar, and keeps your satiated.

Chewing your food rather than drinking it also makes you feel fuller for longer.

I’m not saying there’s never space for juices in your nutrition plan, but they aren’t necessary or preferable to whole fruits and vegetables.

For my Online Coaching clients who are trying to put on muscle muscle, I may recommend that they add juices if they can’t get in enough calories.

2) Gluten-Free Processed Foods

Most of us know that we should try to limit our intake of overly-processed refined carbs.

This includes bread, crackers, cookies, biscuits, pastries, and baked goods.

These days, many stores include gluten-free versions of all of these products.

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Gluten-free foods are designed for people with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested.

About 1% of people have Celiac Disease and a few people have true allergies to wheat.

When people with Celiac Disease want to enjoy treats like cookies and crackers they rely on gluten-free products.

Otherwise, there would be severe consequences to their health (intestinal damage – yikes!).

For everyone else, these gluten-free foods have no benefit.

They’re a treat food that happens to have no gluten, which isn’t any better than a treat food with gluten.

3) Organic Processed Foods

Along the same lines, organic processed foods like crackers, cookies, and biscuits are no better for you than other processed foods (i.e. not very).

Just because a food is labelled organic doesn’t make it healthy.

Organic sugar is no better than conventional sugar.

Contrary to popular belief, organic farming also involves pesticides.

Research also shows that it doesn’t mean necessarily that the food has a higher nutritional value.

4) Smoothies

The contents of smoothies can vary tremendously.

The massive mixes you get at juice bars can be a calorie bomb in the region of 400-600 calories with 60 grams of sugar.

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If you use a smoothie to substitute a meal and it keeps you full then it’s fine occasionally.

I often make my own smoothies at home with a blender with just whey protein isolate and a bit of fruit.

That’s a lower calorie and lower sugar version.

5) Protein/Energy/Granola Bars

I’m on an ongoing search to find a protein bar that contains enough protein (at least 15 grams) and isn’t packed with sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Part of the problem is making something with a lot of protein and little sugar palatable.

It’s a challenge and I have yet to find one that’s a great choice.

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As for energy bars, they tend to have even less protein and more sugar.

Many of these bars have more calories and sugar than a chocolate bar like Snickers.

I’ve always thought of them in relation to endurance athletes, the audience for which they were designed.

If you’re competing in an Iron Man event, you probably need energy bars to keep your strength up.

Otherwise, it’s wise to skip them.

6) Cereal

It’s the go-to breakfast food for many people, but even the high-fibre versions aren’t very impressive.

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Most cereals are low in protein and high in refined carbs.

Even the ones labelled “whole grain” are very processed and can impact your blood sugar.

Cereal is one of my picks for worst breakfast foods.

7) Yogurt 

While yogurt has a long-standing reputation as a health food, many versions you find in the stores are not ideal choices.

When yogurt is labelled “low-fat” (I’m surprised they still do that!), it’s likely to be packed with sugar.

Some have added sugar or artificial sweeteners like saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.

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While moderate intake of artificial sweeteners appears safe at this point, it may affect your taste for sugar and stimulate cravings.

For susceptible individuals (like myself!), sweeteners can also cause bloating and intestinal discomfort.

So most yogurts aren’t necessarily a healthy option.

I normally advise my Online Coaching clients to choose unsweetened Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt.

Healthy Foods?

Please don’t take this article to mean that you should never consume any of these foods.

My personal belief is that any food that you’re not allergic to, or have an intolerance for, is fair game once in a while.

So eat the foods you want, in the right quantities and with the right frequency for you…and your particular goals.

A balanced approach is more likely to make you successful with long term weight loss.

Ivana Chapman

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Chocolate And Your Health

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Today is Valentine’s Day, and many people’s thoughts turn to chocolate. There are few foods as positively regarded as chocolate. It has a certain allure that you just don’t associate with broccoli.

Chocolate was even thought to be an aphrodisiac, although some interesting research from 2006 seemed to indicate that it doesn’t increase sexual desire.

It certainly increases pleasure for people who enjoy it though!

I’m a HUGE fan of chocolate, and I often get asked by my Online Coaching clients whether it’s a healthy choice.

Any food can be part of your nutrition plan, but the health benefits of chocolate vary.

What Kind Of Chocolate Is Best?

The higher the percentage of cocoa, the more health benefits it’s likely to have. I generally recommend 70% cocoa and above.

The terms “bittersweet” or “semi-sweet”, which refers to chocolate with a higher cocoa percentage.

These are often used for baking.

Regular milk chocolate can be as little as 10% cocoa.

The other ingredients are milk solids or powder, sugar, lecithin, and vanilla.

While it’s delicious, it doesn’t have a lot in the way of health benefit.

Cocoa powder, which can made into a delicious hot chocolate drink, is also an easy way of getting the benefits of chocolate. I often mix mine with whey protein powder and create a sugar-free hot chocolate drink.

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Here Are A Few Health Benefits Of Chocolate:

Improving Your Mood

Cocoa triggers the release of endorphins (happy hormones), which are known to improve mood, lessen pain, and reduce stress.

Cocoa also contains other agents that help produce feel-good chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine. So cocoa possesses antidepressant and mood-elevating properties.

Heart Heart, Alzheimer’s, & Cancer

Chocolate contains polyphenols that have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants, by scavenging harmful free radicals, may reduce your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other degenerative diseases.

Eating chocolate has been shown to reduce high blood pressure in hypertensive patients, a key risk factor for heart disease.

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Mental Function

The consumption of cocoa flavanols, a plant nutrient also found in tea, cherries, blueberries, apples, peanuts, and pears, has been shown to improve cognitive function in elderly subjects.

Chocolate has a very high flavanol content compared to other foods so it’s an easy way to get a high dose of what appears to be an important boost to mental health.

How Much Should You Eat? 

In scientific research on the benefits of chocolate, one serving is 30g.

The protective effect of chocolate for CVD and stroke appears to peak at 3 servings per week. For diabetes, the effect is generally greatest at 2 servings a week.

Outside of 6 servings per week, chocolate is just adding sugar, fat, and calories to your nutrition plan without additional health benefits.

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Anything To Watch Out For?

Chocolate may not be an ideal choice for people who suffer from acid reflux. The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and may cause reflux in susceptible individuals.

I suffer from GERD myself, and I try to limit chocolate when my reflux is acting up. But there’s not way I’m giving it up!

Should You Eat Chocolate?

Eating chocolate in reasonable quantities can be part of an enjoyable nutrition plan.

I wouldn’t use the health benefits as an excuse to eat more milk chocolate, since it probably won’t have that effect.

You can stay lean and healthy while eating chocolate, as long as it fits in with the other foods you eat daily.

So never spoil a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty.

Embrace the pleasure of this delicious treat.

Hmmm….I think I may get myself some now.

Ivana Chapman

 

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Do You Really Need Superfoods?

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I pride myself on providing practical, evidence-based solution for weight loss. Losing weight isn’t as complicated as people think, but it’s NOT easy. In the quest for ideal health and leanness, many people turn to superfoods for an edge.

What are SUPERFOODS?

Superfoods is a marketing term, rather than a scientific one.

There’s no scientific criteria to be classified a superfood.

A superfood is generally defined as:

A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.

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Hmmmm.

Pretty vague, right?

A nutrient is a substance used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce.

So all macros (protein, carbs, fat) and all the vitamins/minerals are technically included in that category.

Then we get into the phytonutrients (plant nutrients) like carotenoids, ellagic acid, flavonoids, resveratrol, and glucosinolates.

There are actually over 25,000 phytonutrients, but those are a a few of the important ones.

So a superfood contains a lot of important nutrients.

That’s great!

More nutritional value = better health

We all want that, right?

You could reduce your risk of cancer, lose more fat, improve your vision, and heal your digestion…if you knew which nutrients to use.

I wish it was that simple.

Although many nutrients (like the aforementioned carotenoids and ellagic acid) are being studied for their health benefits, it’s not as simple as providing a cure or remedy for an illness.

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So while there are certainly foods that have special health benefits, most whole foods have some beneficial properties.

Superfoods are neither the miracle for fat loss nor for your health.

They’re certainly worth including in your nutrition plan, but it’s not likely to be a complete solution.

Here’s the main problem.

There are two ways of improving your nutrition plan:

1) Reducing foods that aren’t beneficial (overly processed, high in calories, etc.)

2) Adding foods with health benefits

In my experience, people are more willing to ADD things to their nutrition plan, rather than take things away.

Goji berries on my sugar-laden cereal?

No problem!

A little spinach in my cream cheese and bacon pastry?

Why not?

Add a slice of lycopene-rich tomato to my greasy burger?

I don’t mind if I do!

Hopefully you see the problem here.

Your health is more complicated than the benefits you get from a few nutrient-dense foods.

What really matters is how your nutrition plan fits together, in both quantity and quality.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some foods that deserve to be included more often.

Here Are 10 of Those Superfoods And The Benefits They Provide:

1) Dark Leafy Greens (kale, arugula, swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens)

Leafy greens contain folate, vitamin K, and various antioxidants.

Although you probably want to avoid romaine lettuce right now, they are several leafy greens that you can eat for health benefits.

Heat can help reduce e.coli risk, so you can get health benefits without the risk by cooking your greens.

2) Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel)

Omega-3 fatty acids, which fish like salmon have plenty of, help reduce inflammation and support brain function.

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3) Green Tea

EGCG, a polyphenol which is an antioxidant in green tea, is likely responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects. Green tea may protect your brain in the elderly years and may reduce your risk of certain cancers.green-tea-cup-superfoods

4) Eggs

Eggs contain B vitamins, choline, selenium, vitamin A, iron and phosphorus. Nearly all of that is in the yolk, so make sure you try to eat one at least a couple of times a week. Egg whites are nearly pure protein, which many of us struggle to get enough of.eggs-tray-superfoods

5) Berries

All berries are high in antioxidants and fibre. Different types of berries also contain unique phytonutrients with beneficial health effects.

Studies tend to show cancer-protective effects from a diet generally high in fruits and vegetables. Meaning: comparing people with and without cancer, the studies show lower risk of several cancers in those who eat more fruits compared to those who eat relatively few.

Early research has shown the kiwiberry to be a promising treatment for some cancers and health issues involving the gastrointestinal system.

The anthocyanins in blueberries are believed to reduce age-related memory loss. They also contain vitamins C and K, as well as manganese.

6) Nuts & Seeds

High in fibre and beneficial fats (with a bit of protein too), nuts and seeds are a good choice in reasonable doses. The fiber helps with digestion, and nuts have been showed to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.

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7) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

EVOO contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). It also contains oleic acid and oleocanthal, which contribute to its anti-inflammatory effect. MUFAs reduce your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

8) Avocado

High in vitamin K and potassium, avocados also contain a high percentage of MUFAs (like olive oil).

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9) Garlic & Onions

The allicin from garlic may be helpful in preventing colds, but you probably won’t be able to consume the amount needed (the study used allicin pills). Garlic can help to reduce blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol.

Onions, which are also part of the allium family of veggies (with garlic, scallions, chives), are high in vitamin C, B6, and manganese. They also contain the antioxidants quercetin and sulfur, and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.

10) Chocolate

I wrote an entire blog post about the benefits of chocolate. The gist of which is that cocoa (found primarily in 70% chocolate and above) contains flavanols, which can improve cognition in elderly subjects and can improve markers of cardiovascular health.

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A nutrition plan that includes many of these superfoods on a regular basis (and whole foods in general!) is a step in the right direction.

Remember though, that nutrition is highly individualized.

I avoid garlic and onions because they exacerbate my acid reflux issues.

Beans and pulses need to be consumed in very small servings or they upset my digestion.

I don’t like arugula so I don’t eat it.

No single food will ward off disease or get you slim.

I remember one of my Coaching clients, a nurse, telling me about a cranky elderly man she took care of in the oncology ward.

He often angrily asked, “I ate blueberries all the time…how did I get cancer?”

Blueberries were the superfood-de-jour then because some research had come out about their antioxidant potential.

If only optimal health were as simple as eating a few blueberries!

Our health is a combination of our genetics, what we eat, our physical activity, our environment, and our psychological state.

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Being lean is also a blend of those factors.

We can’t control all of them, but the more positives we put in the better we’re likely to do.

Your entire nutrition plan, day-in and day-out, counts.

The calories you consume, their macro breakdown, and the quality of the food all make a difference.

Don’t rely on just one thing.

Try to give yourself as many “positives” as you can, while limiting the negatives.

That’s the real solution for health and weight loss.

Ivana Chapman

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Are Toxins The Cause Of Your Weight Gain?

Pretty scary, right? Are toxins really the huge threat we’re led to believe?

You’ll often hear people talking about what a menace toxins are. They make you sick, they cause cancer, and maybe even stop you from losing weight.

Technically, a toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms, like snake venom. So the chemicals in plastic (like BPA) or inorganic substances like lead or mercury are actually called toxicants. Let’s not worry about the linguistic technicalities. This isn’t going to be a complicated, science-intensive blog post.

Calling something TOXIC is scary because it means that the substance can cause damage to your body. Yet practically any substance can become toxic to the human body at the right dosage. Consume too much water and you may develop hyponatremia (low blood sodium) and DIE.

Toxic substances are dose-dependent. A small amount may cause no harm at all and a large amount can kill you.

There are lots of claims out there, mostly by people peddling scam detox diets and products, that ridding your body of toxic substances (in general) can help you lose weight. While it’s certainly true that chemical exposures to substances like asbestos, mercury, or lead are harmful to your health, the question of certain chemicals promoting weight gain is a little more complicated. Some evidence does seem to show that chemical exposure to BPA (found in dental resins, food cans, and some plastics) can affect energy balance. The actual material effect of that is very minimal, perhaps an additional 1/1000 of a pound of fat on a 200 pound body. So not much really. While avoiding this type of chemical exposure is probably helpful for your health, the impact on weight loss is probably very minimal.

Well then, why do detox diets “work”? You did a juice detox for a week and you lost weight. Wasn’t it because it helped your body get rid of toxins?

Nope!

Detox juices…so pretty! And pretty unnecessary.

Juice detox diets force you to consume a limited amount of calories over the course of several days. And getting light-headed and dizzy doesn’t mean you’re “detoxing”. It means that apart from pumping your body full of sugar throughout the day (that’s what juice is, after all!) and causing yourself drastic insulin surges and crashes, you’re starving yourself as well. Reducing your calories leads to weight loss, at least initially.

So are chemicals the cause of people’s weight gain? Highly unlikely. It might not be exciting, but it really does come down to the basics for most people. The fundamentals are what you eat and the physical activity you do.

If someone’s eating a lot of crappy food and not exercising, toxins may be impacting their health, but they’re not a big part of the fat loss issue. It’s kind of like looking for ghosts in the attic when you hear a dripping sound in your home, rather than addressing the leaky pipes in the house. Ghosts may be causing strange noises in your household, but it’s probably best to address the obvious (and less supernatural) stuff first.

Are these ghosts the problem? Probably not.

The most important thing holding back fat loss is eating the wrong quantity and quality of foods. And while many people spend a lot of time looking for obscure solutions, in most cases the key to fat loss is relatively simple (although not always easy to carry out!).

Eat the right amount of food, with adequate protein, move as much as you can throughout the day, and work out with weights consistently to build muscle.

It may not be sexy, but it works. And you can stop being afraid of toxins holding you back at every turn.

Ivana Chapman

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The Life Lesson You Should Never Ignore

There’s something important you need to think about before time runs out.

Today would have been my dad’s 71st birthday. Sadly, he passed away of a sudden heart attack at the age of only 58 over a dozen years ago.

If you’re thinking this is one of those “my dad wasn’t in good shape, died early, and that’s why I’m so passionate about health and fitness” stories, you’d be wrong.

My dad was an athlete all his life, a downhill skier in his youth and a marathoner (with the occasional 10K, duathlon, and triathlon thrown in) in later years. He gave up running in his late 40s (I think) and focussed on weights and karate.

For relaxation, he meditated, did tai chi, and studied Buddhism and Japanese.

With my dad in one of the few photos we have together (this was before digital was common!)

My dad was teaching a karate class for kids when he stopped the sparring session to take a drink. That’s when he collapsed and we’re told his heart stopped. At the time we were told that it was bad genetics and the coroner actually told me that if he didn’t take care of himself as well as he did (eating well and exercising), he might have been gone at 48, rather than 58.

It turns out that the story was a bit more complicated than that.

My dad suffered from ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a form of arthritis and an autoimmune disease that primarily attacks the lower spine and eventually causes spinal fusion. But AS also causes a general inflammatory state in the body and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The heart’s blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart).

The result, in my dad’s case, was a fatal heart attack.


We didn’t know any of this at the time; it just seemed inexplicable that a man like my dad who appeared to be so healthy and basically had a 6-pack late into his 50s could have a heart attack and die.

Does it make me feel better to know that there was an underlying cause to his early death?

Not particularly.

I’d much rather still have him around to spend time with his grandkids. Still, as a health professional I find it interesting that there are so many things that can be affecting the state of your body.

It’s important to take care of yourself on a day-to-day basis.

Eat the right quantity and quality of food, get to a healthy weight, exercise regularly, sleep adequately, and destress as needed. Deal with any medical issues you have and don’t leave any suspicious ailments uninvestigated.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll live to be 70, 80, 90, or 100 years old, even if you do all the “right” things.

One thing I do know is that if you do follow all those practices, you’ll feel better and look better for whatever amount of years that you’re on this earth.

Living an active, energetic life is its own reward.

Being able to run around with your kids without getting winded or play the same sport you did in high school with energy and enthusiasm is what a satisfying life is all about.

Maybe it means that you finally get your act together, eat right, do weight training regularly, and build the body you’ve always wanted.

Many people grumble about getting older, but it’s a gift to be able to grow older, outpacing other people your age (and even those much younger!) with your energy, strength, and youthful vigor.

I’m a big believer in sucking all the juice out of life that’s possible.

Run, jump, play, travel, and discover new things.

When you start on a fitness journey, it’s often about the initial result you get with your body.

You want to be leaner and look better. Maybe you appreciate being stronger or having bigger biceps.

Eating well, with plenty of protein and vegetables, and strength training 3-5 days a week is the key to building the amazing body that you want.

The added benefit is that you feel stronger and more energetic and able to conquer the inevitable challenges that you face in your daily life.

Yes, you’ll be healthier and probably live a bit longer. What’s more important than adding years to your life through a healthy lifestyle is having a lot more life in your years.

That’s one thing that my dad knew a lot about.

Ivana Chapman

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Vitamin D Prevents Colds And Flu

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Nobody likes to get sick.

Yesterday a new study was published in the British Medical Journal. The results indicate that supplementation with Vitamin D may reduce the risk of acute respiratory tract infection.

To anyone in the nutrition field, this isn’t really news.

We’ve been talking about vitamin D to support the immune system for many years.

I started supplementing with vitamin D after completing a nutrition course in 2012 that emphasized the importance of vitamin D for immune health (among other things).

Let’s look at the latest study that’s assessed the benefits of Vitamin D:

The Study

vitamin-D-capsulesThere wasn’t any experimentation done in this study, as this was a systematic review and meta-analysis of previous studies done on vitamin D supplementation.

A meta-analysis evaluates previous research to try to find the general consensus about a topic using relevant criteria.

In this case, the authors used double-blind (the researcher and the subjects didn’t know whether or not they were getting the supplement) placebo-controlled (some subjects didn’t get any supplements) studies.

They used Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2, two forms of supplemental vitamin D.

This study analyzed 25 previous studies that fit the criteria. Nearly 11,000 people from ages 0 to 95 were part of these studies.

What Does This Study Tell Us?

Certainly, a deficiency of any nutrient will have side effects.

In the case of vitamin D, low blood levels of the nutrient result in a depressed immune system and an increased risk of of acute respiratory tract infections.

The doses used in all of the studies (If you’re so inclined, the full reference list is HERE) were found to be safe.

What Did The Researchers Conclude?

vitamin-D-studyThe authors concluded that the observed benefits of vitamin D for acute respiratory infection support the need for public health measures like vitamin D fortification.

This may be better at the public level, but I prefer recommending foods naturally high in vitamin D.

Fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon), liver, egg yolks, and cheese fit the bill.

The fat fears of the 1990s, and the prevailing myth that fat is bad, may have contributed to lower vitamin D intakes.

Limitations Of The Study

I find it interesting that there was no separation between the two forms of vitamin D, D2 and D3.

D3 is the preferred form, as it’s more easily absorbed by the body.

Perhaps the results would be even more convincing if only D3 was used.

The researchers admit that they only focussed on larger trials of vitamin D.

Small studies showing adverse effects from Vitamin D may have escaped their attention. They felt these studies would not have numerically affected the overall outcome.

Who Benefits Most?

Based on the body of research, it appears that vitamin D deficiency depresses the immune system and leaves the body weak against viral infections. No one wants to be sick, and it results in lost work productivity (not to mention miserable moods!).vitamin-D-Study

The best way to get vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight.

Your skin produces vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin.

This presents a problem for those of us in Northern Latitudes that don’t get sun exposure for the winter months of the year.

Even during the summer season, many people don’t get outside regularly. The elderly or incapacitated, who are usually indoors, are most likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency.

They are also most likely to suffer poor outcomes, and potentially even death, from flu or anther viral infection.

People with darker skin are more likely to have issues with vitamin D.

The skin pigment, melanin, absorbs UVB and determines the number of photons that reach the lower cellular layers of the skin. That’s where vitamin D3 synthesis takes place.

In one study, 60% of urban schoolchildren in the US were found to have deficient blood levels of Vitamin D. The problem was greatest in blacks (74.5%), Asians (Chinese, Indian, Nepalese – 88.9%), and Hispanics (64.7%). Whites and multi-racial/other were at 52.7%.

Cautions!

Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, you don’t want to take too much.

An excess of any nutrient (even water!) can be dangerous.

It’s always best to have your blood levels of vitamin D tested before supplementing.

If your blood levels are good you can save yourself some cash.

If your blood levels are low, you notice a reduction in colds and flu when you start supplementing with vitamin D.

vitamin-D-study-stop

The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamin D is ridiculously low in most countries.

Health Canada, for instance, recommends 600IU of vitamin D per day for children over 1 year old and adults up to age 70.

They allow 800IU for adults over 70.

The recognized safe daily upper limit is 4,000IU.

Most multivitamins have at least the 600IU.

Whether you should take additional vitamin D depends on your blood level. It also depends on your (and your doctor’s) level of comfort.

The Last Word

Vitamin D’s role in strengthening the immune system isn’t new.

We’ve been aware that having adequate Vitamin D levels decreases the risk of viral infections for a while.

The latest study is a good summary of the body of evidence with respect to Vitamin D. If you suffer from frequent respiratory tract infections like colds and flu, you might want to see your doctor to get your blood levels of Vitamin D tested.

It may be the supplement that makes the difference for you.

Ivana Chapman

woman-chocolate-red-lips

Why You Should Eat More Chocolate

Don’t you just want to sink your teeth into that tasty chunk of chocolate?

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Charles M. Schulz

There are few foods that illicit the kind of devotion and fascination as chocolate. Maybe all we need in this life is love…and some chocolate now and then. I’m personally a huge fan of chocolate, whether it’s raw cocoa nibs or a simple Dairy Milk bar. Sometimes it seems like a sinful indulgence (think molten lava cake), and sometimes it’s a perfectly good daily staple food (like a couple of squares of 85% dark chocolate).

The health value of chocolate is determined by the percentage of cocoa that’s contained within it.

Most regular chocolate bars (Aero, Kit Kat, Mars, Milky Way, Hershey, etc.) have low cocoa levels and aren’t going to do you a lot of good, except for the pleasure you derive from the taste.

That’s not to say you should never eat them.

Just make sure you aren’t kidding yourself about their healthiness.

If we’re talking health benefits, it normally takes the 70% or higher cocoa to get real results.

Here are a few of the benefits of good quality chocolate:

Mental Health

Chocolate makes you feel good. Duh! Cocoa triggers the release of endorphins (happy hormones), which are known to improve mood, lessen pain, and reduce stress. Cocoa also contains other agents that help produce feel-good chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine. So cocoa possesses antidepressant and mood-elevating properties.

Just thinking about that makes me feel better.

Plant Power

Chocolate contains polyphenols that have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants, by scavenging harmful free radicals, may reduce your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other degenerative diseases.

Research is continuing to build for the power of chocolate for other ailments too. Eating chocolate has been shown to reduce high blood pressure in hypertensive patients, a key risk factor for heart disease.

The consumption of cocoa flavanols, a plant nutrient also found in tea, cherries, blueberries, apples, peanuts, and pears, has been shown to improve cognitive function in elderly subjects.

Chocolate has a very high flavanol content  so it’s an easy way to get a high dose of what appears to be an important boost to mental health.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to wait until I’m elderly to enjoy the benefits.

The Darker the Better

Standard milk chocolate doesn’t really contain all that much cocoa, the substance that has most of chocolate’s nutritional value.

White chocolate, in fact, isn’t really chocolate at all…just a whole lotta sugar and processed fat.

So you don’t get any credit for eating something like this:

For many people, dark chocolate really is an acquired taste, but after a while you won’t even want the pale milky stuff (ok, maybe once in a while!). If you’re looking for health benefits, aim for 70% cocoa and above…and preferably 85%. Anything less than that is a treat, but it doesn’t do the health trick.

Don’t Kid Yourself

Most of the chocolate you’ll see around for Valentine’s Day doesn’t have much in the way of health benefits, as it has low or no (in the case of white chocolate) levels of cocoa.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat that milky chocolate heart that your Valentine bought for you, but please don’t use this blog post to justify it as a healthy option.

Accept it as a beautiful treat…and enjoy it completely guilt-free.

Ivana Chapman

Protein-myths-steak-500x383@2x

Myths about Protein You Probably Believe

Steak is just one of the many sources of protein.

Ahhhh, protein.The much-revered and equally-maligned macronutrient that is either the solution to our physique goals or a big threat to our health, depending on who you ask.

Most strength athletes and bodybuilders have long recognized protein as the heavenly saviour on which all muscle gains are made. The vegetarian and vegan communities (not to mention most government food guides) have been trying to convince us that we’re getting plenty of protein and that we shouldn’t worry about it.

The truth can seem fuzzy sometimes, and if you’re believing the wrong side you could be missing the benefits of protein.

When it comes to building muscle, protein needs have to be met.

How to meet those protein needs is where the confusion comes in.

Believing these protein myths could be holding back your physique progress:

1) Your body can only absorb 30g of protein in a sitting

This claim may have been linked to a 2009 study, in which the researchers looked at the rate of protein synthesis following ingestion of protein. The conclusion was that “ingestion of more than 30 g of protein in a single meal does not further enhance the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly.”

Note the use of “further enhance” to suggest that more than 30g is completely useless.

Now, I’m not the kind of person to dissect research studies (way too tedious!), but this was a very small study with only 26 people in which the subjects were essentially asked to rest in bed for the duration.

In fairness, most nutrition studies are small anyway, and the subjects are generally a homogenous group of university students.

Such is one of the many limitations of nutrition science.

bodybuilder-protein-myths

Anyway, how much protein your body can absorb is dependent on many factors, including your size, genetics, gender, digestive health, activity level, and body composition. Even the synthesis of muscle protein, which is what that particular study looked at, will vary between individuals.

The other issue is that protein has many other functions in the body besides muscle protein synthesis.

It stabilizes your blood sugar, enhances your immune system, repairs other tissues, and provides satiety to your meals.

There’s no reason to believe that those effects top out at 30g of protein per sitting.

As long as your calorie intake isn’t too high overall, causing you to store fat, extra protein can be utilized for any of those other functions.

Keep in mind that your body doesn’t use all the protein you consume in one meal immediately.

Food is mechanically combined into something called chyme as it goes through the stomach, which can take several hours before reaching the small intestine, where the protein is absorbed.

The body can adjust the rate of absorption as necessary.

So don’t worry if you’re having more than 30g of protein in one meal. In fact, I look at 30g per meal as a standard rather than a limit.

2) Too much protein damages your kidneyskidney-protein-myths

This myth probably comes from the knowledge that kidney damage from high intakes of protein may be an issue for individuals with already existing kidney dysfunction.

Just because something is bad for a person with a disease doesn’t mean that it’s bad for everyone. If a few people are allergic to tomatoes, does that mean that everyone should avoid tomatoes? Of course not.

There’s nothing to indicate that protein causes any issues with healthy kidneys.

The one caveat: stay hydrated!

Protein needs more fluid to move through your system.

Ensure that you’re drinking plenty of water daily so that your body can process all the protein you’re consuming.

The ole’ eight glasses a day recommendation isn’t scientifically proven, but it’s a good general guideline.

If you’re a 240-pound dude with tons of muscle you need more than a 5′ nothing lady who gets pushed to the side by slight breezes outdoors.

Hot weather or excessive sweating (more likely to come from that 240-pound dude!) increase your need for fluids, so adjust accordingly. Most active people tend to drink a lot of water anyway, and it’s one of the first lifestyle changes that a newbie fitness convert makes, but be aware that it’s especially important when your protein intake is high.

3) A high protein diet has to be extremely low-carb

First we have to look at what a high-protein diet actually is, and that’s where a lot of the confusion comes in. The definitions of a high protein diet include: intakes greater than 15–16 % of total energy, as high as 35 % of total calories, or intakes that merely exceed the RDA.

The RDA (recommended daily intake) definition is perhaps the biggest joke, since it’s too low to most athletic people.

Sometimes referred to as Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), the RDA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. A 150-pound person would need 54g of protein per day.

This amount would prevent a protein deficiency, but it likely isn’t the amount for optimal health.

shrimp-protein-myths

Based on any of the three definitions above, many of us are already on a high-protein diet. And a high protein diet where 35% of the diet is protein, and assuming 10% fat (not something I recommend, but it’s useful for this example), would still contain 55% carbs.

There’s no clear definition of a low-carb diet either, but most people don’t think of 55% carbs as low-carb.

My diet is actually a fairly good example, as it follows a couple of the definitions of high protein, but contains quite a lot of carbs. I don’t measure or keep track at the moment, but I’m not trying to restrict carbs because I’m active, lean, and trying to put on muscle mass (grow,  shoulders and glutes!).

4) You’re eating too much protein already

I suppose if you’re going by the RDA then you probably think that you’re eating too much protein. We’ve already discussed how this is misleading, as there are known benefits to protein intake for fat loss, immunity, and reducing appetite.

Remember that these government associations are looking out for the greater good of a massive population, a group of people where – in the case of the US – 66% of people are overweight or obese. Their biggest problem isn’t necessarily getting more protein…it’s eating a lot less food altogether!

That protein also isn’t coming from the best sources and comes with all sorts of other undesirables, like trans fats and plenty of refined carbohydrate.

Most obese people are consuming protein in the form of fried chicken, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and roasted peanuts. Sure, there’s some protein in there, but it isn’t doing your body any good overall…and it explains why protein often gets a bad rap.

burger-bacon-protein-myths

Now, if you’re moderately active and exercise 3-4 days a week, and are of a normal weight, but not necessarily as lean as you’d like, then the situation is completely different.

You’re probably eating better quality lean protein in the form of chicken breasts, lean meat, and fish and not packing in the grease from the local takeout joint while doing it.

When studies look at a large population of people and their protein intake, they group all people with high-protein intake together. They don’t account for the quality of the sources (and the other macronutrients involved).

Since, as we’ve established, most people are using poor protein choices, the data tends to be skewed negatively for health outcomes from high protein intake.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition has set their standards for protein for active people at 1.4-2.0 grams per kg of bodyweight per day.

For those of you who like math, this works out to about 0.63-0.9g of protein per pound per day, not far from my standard recommendation (and that of the bodybuilding community) of 0.8-1g per pound per day.

A 150lb person should eat 120-150 grams of protein per day.

5) Protein builds muscle without training

The only thing that really helps you put on muscle without training is endogenous hormones (ie. steroids). I don’t even talk about drug use with respect to muscle building or weight loss because it’s not something I know much about.

I’m a lifelong natural athlete and I’ve never tried, nor considered trying, any form of drug enhancement to improve my physique.

Sometimes people get confused because they see bodybuilders taking in a lot of protein and think that protein does more work than it actually does.

woman-squat-protein-myths

In order to build muscle, you need to stimulate your muscles to grow with progressive resistance training. Minor muscle damage occurs and when the body repairs the muscle (through the use of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, amongst other things) the muscles grow bigger and stronger.

Protein will help you retain whatever muscle mass you already have, but if you don’t train progressively with weights then your muscles won’t grow any bigger. Sitting around and just packing in the protein won’t get you anything but fat accumulation.

6) Protein Causes Cancer

There are few things that cause cancer directly, apart from perhaps high-dose radiation exposure. Experts agree that the cause of different cancers is multi-factorial (an interaction between genetics, environment, and perhaps even emotional triggers).

Cancer is a name given to a collection of many similar diseases, defined when some of the body’s cells divide without stopping and spread to surrounding tissues.

This is part of the reason why treating and curing cancer is complex…it’s not really one disease but a bunch of diseases with that one similarity.

While there is a study that showed an increased risk of cancer with higher protein intake, there were a lot of issues with that study. It certainly didn’t indicate causality. High protein consumption is often associated with the consumption of poor quality food in general.

If you’re not that science-y, remember that correlation doesn’t mean causality.

Meaning, just because Lady Gaga released an album this morning and the sun came up this morning doesn’t mean that Lady Gaga’s album release CAUSED the sun to come up.

There are way too many confounding variables in nutrition studies to really know what’s going on.

cancer-cells-protein-myths

The other claim circulating out there is that specific types of protein – namely red meat – cause cancer.

These studies have NOT indicated a causal relationship between eating red meat and getting cancer.

Eating good quality versus poor quality protein hasn’t been addressed in any study that I’ve seen (let me know if you find one!).

And unfortunately it’s impossible to do a double-blind placebo-controlled study with food.

Eating protein (and red meat especially) is often associated with other behaviours that are unhealthy and potentially cancer-causing, like a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, chemical exposure, and excessive alcohol intake.

I doubt the results would be the same for an active, clean-living, lean-meat eater who eats tons of vegetables.

Eating plenty of vegetables, with their variety of phytonutrients that seem to reduce the risk of cancer, is always a good idea.

There aren’t enough people who exercise, eat large quantities of vegetables, and also consume high-quality meat to compare with the equivalent vegetarian.

That would be an interesting study though, wouldn’t it?

My Take

I don’t like to get too carried away analyzing the research data. I’ll leave that to the professional research scientists (those peeps with the PhDs after their name).

My purpose is to disseminate the bulk of the data for you, and ask you to use your common sense and best instincts to make a good judgement for YOU.

market-fish-protein-myths

Protein requirements vary and it’s not always simple to figure out where your needs fall.

I normally recommend 0.8-1g per pound of body weight per day.

This applies unless someone is very large and overweight. In that case it might be more appropriate to make the target based on their goal body weight.

There’s no reason to believe that this amount of protein is harmful.

A series of studies are being conducted that measure the impact of high-protein diets on health markers like blood lipids, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and kidney function. So far the news is that there’s no negative impact on these indicators of health.

So get in your protein, in the best form possible. Eat plenty of vegetables as well, to provide you with an array of health-protective phytonutrients. Drink lots of water so to get protein through your system to do its work.

There’s power in protein…if you harness it correctly.

Ivana Chapman

References:

Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Vargas, L., Peacock, C. The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition–a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. Int Soc Sports Nutrition. 2016 Jan 16;13:3.

Arnal, M.A., Mosoni, L., Boirie, Y., Houlier, M.L., Morin, L., Verdier, E., Ritz, P., Antoine, J.M., Prugnaud, J., Beaufrere, B., Mirand, P.P.Protein feeding pattern does not affect protein retention in young women. Nutrition. 2000 Jul;130(7):1700-4.

Brock Symons, T., Sheffield-Moore, M., Wolfe, R.R., Paddon-Jones, D. Moderating the portion size of a protein-rich meal improves anabolic efficiency in young and elderly. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Sep 1; 109(9):1582-1586.

Training When You’re Sick

Training When You’re Sick 

Hi, I’m Ivana Chapman and today I’m gonna talk to you about training when you’re sick. So first of all, how sick are you? If you’re bedridden and you have a high fever, your body is aching, whatever, you’re obviously not going to work out. It’s gonna do your body a lot more good if you just rest and recover and take a few days. You’ll probably come back stronger after that. However if you just have a cold and you don’t feel too badly, maybe it’s not the first day of the cold and you’re gonna do your weight work out and that’s what I recommend. Get in there and do your weights work out. Probably keep the weights the same if you can, but increase the rest periods that you’re taking. So you might have a hard time breathing so give yourself a chance just to recover. Keep the weights as heavy as you can without causing yourself any injury. It’s not the time to go for a personal best or anything with the weights, but just take it a little bit easier, but as I said maintain the weight, lots of rest in between. 

The other thing that you want to avoid during this time is sprint training or high intensity interval training, anything that’s gonna push you too hard. Just keep it to the weight training and give yourself lots of rest and you’ll be back fully functioning in no time. 

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed today’s tips. If you want more great tips check out my website, IvanaChapman.com. I’ll see you next time.