How Psychologists are making you addicted to junk food.

I have a confession. I love Cheetos. Back in college, they were my go to junk food. Especially the spicy kind. I couldn’t get enough. I could eat multiple bags and still not be full.

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Thanks to an article last week in the New York Times, I now know why. Cheetos, along with every other type of junk food/processed food, is the result of thousands of hours of scientific research with the ultimate goal of making that food as addictive as possible. Not just the marketing. It’s a well known fact that primary colors attract kids, especially orange, that red stimulates the appetite etc. What I didn’t know is that everything down to the sound that the chip makes when it crunches, or how fast the cheetos dissolves in my mouth (a term dubbed “Vanishing Caloric Density”), has been tested over and over to find what is most appealing to consumers.

The article follows one of the prominent Food Psychologist, with a PhD from Harvard, as he talks about several products on the shelf today, from Dr. Pepper (high carbonation added to it’s popularity) to Prego Sauces (as much sugar in a 1/4 cup as two oreos and chunks of mystery meat skyrocketed it to #1), Lunchables (built with a three month non refrigerated shelf life, “cheese” and all, as well as almost much saturated fat as a kids supposed to have in a day) and Potato Chips( the perfect mix of starch to give you a quick glucose sugar rush, fat to send happy signals to the brain, and salt to satisfy our most basic animal cravings).

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If the idea that your food is being psychologically designed to make you an addict doesn’t disturb you enough to make you think twice about processed foods, then I’ll bring out the gross factor. Lots of ingredients that make up anything from your Starbucks to your ice cream to your gummy bears are “enhanced” by ingredients that aren’t publicly advertised.

Let’s take the natural flavoring “castoreum”. It’s used to enhance vanilla flavoring, like in ice cream or candy. It is indeed natural, that’s no lie, but that’s because it is made from Beaver Anal Secretions. And it’s even FDA Approved. 

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Don’t eat vanilla? Well how about that mushroom pizza you ordered? Or should I say, that Maggot Mushroom pizza? The FDA approves up to 19 maggots and 74 mites in every 3.5 ounce can of mushrooms. Next time, buy them fresh.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with the one that hurts me the most, because I love them. Gummy Bears/Worms/Fish you name it. First, if you’ve eaten any gummy item that has red dye in it you can proudly say you’ve eaten a beetle, because that’s how it get’s that lovely red color (Same with those Strawberry Frappuccinos you love so much..).  But Gummy Bears don’t stop there, the gelatin used to create that fun texture comes from boiled connective tissue, most likely pig.

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Now don’t get me wrong. I still love my gummy bears, pig skin and beetles and all. I try to follow a 80/20 rule, as in 80% of the time I eat clean, 20% I allow myself cheats. But keep in my mind how much junk food you may be eating and whether the hours of time put into making it addictive are working on you.  Remember they don’t have your best interest at heart.  As the head of General Mills said, “Don’t talk to me about nutrition, talk to me about taste. Talk to me about sales.”

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Dispelling CrossFit Myths – Base Camp Week 1

I have not been asked by CrossFit Sanitas to endorse this gym. All opinions in this blog are my own

Well guys, I have officially drank the kool aid. Today was the end of week 1 of my 2.5 week CrossFit “Base Camp”. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:45am I got out of bed and drudged out into the snowy cold and headed towards CrossFit Sanitas like a moth to a warm flame. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:30am I excitedly texted anyone I knew who was awake at that time (mainly my parents on the east coast and my boyfriend) everything we had done that day, what the WOD had been, what my time was, what technique methods the coaches had used and how excited I was for the next class. Needless to say, I’m hooked.

I thought I’d start out by going over some of the many things I had heard about CrossFit and whether or not I found them to be true.

Myth #1: The coaches lack in training/aren’t educated well enough. FALSE

Doesn't really apply, but makes me laugh anyway.

I wanted to start with this because it’s one of the ones I’ve heard most often and because of the amazing experience I have had with my coach, Dan, so far. My CrossFit box offers an 8 session base camp to all incoming CrossFitters to help teach proper technique. Each workout begins with about a 30 minute “skill” session (this is true for their regular WODS outside of base camp too, I believe). Each day we focus on 3 main skill sets (for instance: deadlifts/sumo deadlift shoulder raise/press or squat/push up/ring row). Dan not only was able to demonstrate each move slowly, while articulating exactly what he expected of us, but would walk around individually correcting each person’s form. Prior to even adding any weight we had to do about 30 air/body weight versions of whatever move we were doing.

Now youmay be thinking – well how do you know what good instruction is? Thanks to my trainer boyfriend, I watch strength and conditioning videos all the time that focus on proper technique. While I am far from having perfect form, I do know the areas I need to improve on and Dan called me out on all of them. He would also continue to do so during the actual WOD, even AMRAP WODs which focus on a high number of reps where your form can easily get sloppy. So, as far as qualified coaches go, I’d give him as an A+.

Myth #2: CrossFit is only for super intense crazy people who like flipping tires, climbing ropes and wearing tiny spandex. FALSE

Not my box, but this grandma is kicking some butt.

Not my box, but this grandma is kicking some butt.

The group of people in my base camp are so incredibly diverse. There’s 14 of of us total, a surprisingly large number for a 5:30am class, and the participants range from a trainer at CU who wants to know what the fuss is about to a group of amazingly bubbly and motivated moms who want to get more fit to be good role models for their kids to twenty something’s looking for a challenge. Each WOD we do can be adapted to each individuals level of fitness and abilities to make it perfect for people of all ages and fitness level.

MYTH #3: CrossFit workouts only last about 10 minutes and aren’t actually that hard. FALSE

I aspire to be Andrea Ager.

I aspire to be Andrea Ager.

The opposite of the myth above, but also one I have heard (conveniently from people who had never tried CrossFit). Before base camp I also believed that people just came in, did the WOD and left. As I mentioned above, however, there is a whole other section prior to the WOD that focuses on skills and lifting heavier for shorter reps and is a whole other workout in and of itself. While I haven’t tried a non-basecamp workout yet, I’m hoping to try one this Sunday so I can get the full idea of what this pre section is like. Also, a lot of the olympic lifting moves are combined with dynamic athlete moves (box jumps, lateral jumps etc) that will help any athlete improve. Lastly, we are encouraged to stay after the WOD to do some more cardio or work on things not covered that day to help us reach our own individual goals.

Myth #4: CrossFit gyms are small and dingy. Definitely False.

Does not even begin to capture it. Also, that's my coach. Hi Dan!

Does not even begin to capture the Sanitas Box. Also, that’s my coach. Hi Dan!

I know that my box is exceptionally nice, but literally I could not ask for a better CrossFit gym. The space is HUGE, brand new, with every piece of equipment you could ask for from competition kettle bells, tons of barbells and racks, boxes, ropes, rowers, sleds and even a turf area. Plus it has childcare. Not all boxes have to be in someone’s basement.

Myth #5: They will pressure you to be Paleo.

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My second class we had about a 5-10 minute talk on nutrition. It basically came down to “Do what works for you, but try to follow the basic principle of ‘If man made it, don’t eat it'” Simple. True. No pressure. We also were given a packet on the first day that had further information on nutrition, should we desire to know more, as well as information about lifting techniques we would be learning.

Myth #6 It’s a cult that will suck you in and make you never want to stop. TRUE & FALSE.

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I don’t like the word cult, as that has a negative connotation. I don’t associate loving something that is beneficial to your physical and mental health with the dangers of a cult. I do believe that it feeds on human natures desire to work as a community to succeed, while also individually pushing yourself past your own personal limits. I didn’t realize how motivating it would be to be working out with a group of people and how much harder I would push myself when doing it. I also didn’t realize how exciting it would be to see everyone, especially the people who were struggling, complete the workout. It motivates you to work harder, because if they are pushing themselves through the pain, you can too. I remember reading somewhere that a great thing about CrossFit is that the loudest cheers are for the last one to finish. I definitely think that is a reality.

I have so much more to say, but I can save that for another post about what we actually did during each session, but hopefully this helps convince some of you who may have been on the fence to give it a shot.

(Re)New Year Resolutions

It’s that time. The time when the gym starts emptying out again. When you start giving into your cravings. When all those things that seemed so important January 1st don’t seem worth the effort anymore.

But now is not the time to give up.

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Was your goal fitness related? Finding it hard to get motivate to work out after a long day? Try morning workouts. It will boost your metabolism, give you more energy throughout the day and get it out of the way so you can enjoy your evenings. If that idea makes you cringe, try at least getting up 30 minutes earlier. It won’t  ruin your sleep, but can provide you time to squeeze in a 3 mile run or a quick HIIT workout to start your day off.  Still can’t do that? Try doing squats while you brush your teeth or take 1 minute to do 10 pushups and 10 sit-ups.

Is working out cutting into your social life? Find people who support your changing lifestyle and try new ways of socializing.  Bring a friend to a group exercise class. Instead of meeting to catch up over drinks, go for a walk, a hike or a bike ride. Guarantee you’ll relieve stress and feel better that you did something to achieve your goals.

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Was your resolution diet related? The biggest thing to remember is “By failing to prepare, you plan to fail”. Take the time to have healthy snacks in your fridge to avoid mindless snacking. Prepare healthy meals that you can take with you on the go. Eat out a lot? Try to pick restaurants that have healthier options and avoid appetizers and alcohol. Once again, try to surround yourself with people who are supportive of the changes you are trying to make. Making dinner can be a fun and healthy way to hang out with friends and you have complete control over how healthy the meal is you’re making.

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Was your resolution non-health related? Get better grades? Be a better friend/mother/father/daughter/son? Read more? Watch less TV? Finally apply for your dream job?

No matter what your goal, make sure you set attainable benchmarks where you can measure your progress in small steps so you don’t get discouraged. Image

Whatever you wanted to improve upon this year, keep going!

Spicy Mango Mahi Mahi

I feel like I have been up for days. This morning I had to get up at the crack of dawn to go to my first CrossFit Basecamp Class. Luckily, I have today off from work so I can nap if I need to.

Edited out the profanity my pre-5am mind needs to get me out of bed.

Edited out the profanity my pre-5am mind needs to get me out of bed.

I’ll be writing a whole post about my first week on Friday, but for now I’ll say that I am actually excited to wake up before 5am to go to the one on Wednesday. The box is fantastic, the coaches are informed and very sincere and I am super excited.

When I got back from my box I made a quick breakfast of some sunny side up eggs over some baked sweet potato. Delicious.

Sunny Side Eggs over Sweet Potato

Sunny Side Eggs over Sweet Potato

Now for lunch I plan on making Spicy Mango Mahi Mahi. I’ve been on a real fish kick lately, so don’t be surprised if the next couple posts are all from the sea.

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SPICY MANGO MAHI MAHI

1lb Mahi Mahi

4 Tablespoons Mango Chutney (also, Mangos are currently on sale in my town so feel free to add fresh mango chunks as well)

1tsp siracha

juice from 1 orange

salt

chopped green onions/scallions

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees

2) Mix together the mango chutney, siracha, orange juice and salt

3) I always like to cook fish in tinfoil pouches because it heats thoroughly and it saves on the stinky fishy pans afterwards. So, take a sheet of tinfoil, place the fish on it.

4) Pour sauce on top of the fish, and wrap the tinfoil around the fish to seal it shut.

5) Bake in oven for 15-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. Enjoy!

My 10 Favorite Workout Songs

Okay, this is awkward. I know I’ve been gone for a while, I’ve been having a crazy week. But it’s about to get even more awkward, because I am about to admit my 10 favorite songs to work out to. These are not my “10 favorite songs ever”, but the ones that always get my blood pumping and make me want to sweat it out.

1) Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris

This one has a great beat to get your body moving.

2) If you want to – Travis Barker (ft. Lupe Fiasco)

I was a drummer for 5 years, so this song just does it for me.

3) Wipe Me Down – Lil Boosie ft. Webie (NSFW)

Anyone who knew me in college knows my relationship with this song. This was THE song to put on to get pumped up and always fills me with energy.

4) Animal – Mike Snow

I bet you cannot listen to this song and not get it stuck in your head for DAYS.

5) Ven Conmigo – Daddy Yankee (NSFW)

This song is perfect for fast cardio. Plus, it reminds me of one of my best friends who currently lives in Brazil, but came all the way out to CO for my birthday a month after a moved her and danced like a fool to this song to cheer up my homesickness.

6) Neato – Three Loco (NSFW)

I feel like this is one of those “you love it” or “you really really hate it” type songs. I personally love it, especially when lifting. Also, it’s pretty vulgar so you’ve been warned.

7) Sexy Love – Ne-Yo

Sometimes on long runs, you need to do a little day dreaming to get you through…

8) Right There – Nicole Scherzinger ft. 50 Cent

Pretty much along the same line as the one above

9) Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men

So upbeat, plus I always picture the music video in my head which keeps me entertained.

10) Take Care – Drake ft. Rihanna

Okay, I’ll admit it. I am in love with everything Drake produces. Including this one. I have no shame.

National Women in Sports Day

Today, February 6th, is National Women in Sports day.

Over 40 years ago, in 1972, TItle IX was adopted to Federal Law to prohibit discrimination in school based sports programs (and other after school programs) based on gender.  In 1972, 1 in every 27 girls played high school sports. Today, the number is 2 in 5.

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Time Magazine in 1978

So, I just wanted to give all you women athletes and the men who support women atheletes a pat on the back. Keep on working it!

 

Paleo Crockpot Balsamic Beef Shank

If you don’t have a crock pot, you need to go out and buy one. Right now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait….. Got it? Good. Crock pots are one of the best inventions ever for those in a rush who still want to make nutritious meals.

Tuesdays are perfect days for crockpots because I have a class in the morning, then I go to work. If I turn the crockpot on after class I’ll have 7 hours of cooking time before I’m back home with a delicious meal waiting for me. This beef dish is one of my favorites. Every time I make it, I always get a text from my roommate saying how good the house smells. Best part? It takes all of 5 minutes to throw together and you’re done.

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Paleo Crockpot Balsamic Beef Shank with Mashed Cauliflower

1lb-2lb (depending on how much meat you want) beef shank

1-2 tbsp coconut oil

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

15 ounce tomato sauce

4 dates (or more if if you really like dates, remove the pit first)

6 gloves garlic

1. Melt the coconut oil in a big pan on the stove over medium heat.

2. Add the beef shank to the coconut oil, browning on each side for 1-2 minutes.

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3. Put beef shank in slow cooker, pour all the ingredients over it (including the melted coconut oil).

4. Leave in slow cooker on low for up to 8 hours, or on medium for 4-6 hours. Test the meat to see if it’s tender. It should shred easily.

5. Enjoy with a side of Paleo Mashed Cauliflower (also the simplest thing to make ever)

Paleo Mashed Cauliflower

1 Head of Cauliflower

Salt & Pepper

1 tbsp water

1. Steam the Cauliflower (or broil if you don’t have a steamer, but they are like 5 dollars at target and worth it)

2. Mash cauliflower with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper and water. That’s it. If you aren’t Paleo, feel free to add cream/butter like you would to normal mashed potato. Or if you want it tangy, add some lemon juice.