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2

A Peek Into Vegan Living with Attila Hildmann

Alexandra Williams, MA

Knowing I’m a vegetarian and fitness pro, a P.R. friend of mine recently sent me two books by Europe’s top-selling (almost 1 million copies) cookbook author, Attila Hildmann. The books are “Vegan for Fun” and “Vegan for Fit.”

Vegan for Fun by Attila HildmannVegan for Fit by Attila Hildmann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was a bit hesitant to accept them at first, as we are extremely picky discerning when it comes to recommending lifestyle philosophies. After looking through both books, I can see why Hildmann is so popular. He isn’t a zealot, yet shares his passion. He details how and why he became a vegan in a straightforward way that feels inviting rather than browbeating. The best part? He agrees with so much of what we say! Hahahaha. Don’t we all think someone is clever when their philosophies are close to our own?

Main Selling Points for Me

Quotes such as, “Vegan for Fit isn’t a diet, but rather a healthy way of eating,” and “The recipes…weren’t in any way influenced by the food industry.” And my fitness favorites – “It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in; you can start now-even if you just walk around the block at your own pace… Starting slow and then building up is the key to success. My workout plan serves primarily to increase my feeling of well-being.”

He recognizes that vegans can be the worst advocates for veganism. For example, when Hildmann discusses his transition from vegetarianism to veganism, he acknowledges the “all or nothing” mentality that puts many people off.  “What makes me really sad is this ‘I’m a better vegan than you’ phenomenon.”

The people who took his 30-Day challenge have realistic Before and After pictures and results, and Hildmann includes the downsides as well as the upsides when he shares those results.

The actual recipes. Once he gained my respect, I was ready to check out the food. The pictures and ingredients looked really enticing and surprisingly achievable for me (based on the ingredients I keep in the house). I tried a few of them, and they were super tasty. Except for green bell peppers. I’ll never like green bell peppers.

picture of Tofu Bolognese from Attila Hildmann

Spaghetti with Tofu Bolognese

To get a well-rounded feel for Hildmann, I sent him some questions, which he answered in more detail than I was expecting. To put the interview into context, you should know that his dad’s death was a catalyst for his transformation from overweight, junk food eater to healthy chef.

Interview with Attila Hildmann

How old were you when your Dad’s death caused you to make a life change, and what was your life like prior to his death? Were you already into fitness?
I was 19 years old when I watched my father die of a heart attack. You can’t even imagine the pain I felt because I always looked up to my dad. Before it happened the doctors didn’t tell him to change his diet in a specific way; they prefered to open up his ribcage for open-heart surgery and after that was done, pump him full of pills to lower his cholesterol. I was also worried about myself because at that time I was severely overweight at 230 pounds and my cholesterol was critically high. I always loved sports, competed in Triathlon and swimming from an early age, but I always struggled with keeping my weight consistent. Yo-yo dieting was what I did, so the weight always came back in the off-season. And I loved what many young people love: burgers, fries, steak, chips and ice-cream. One day I went to the doctor for a check-up and he did a blood test. When he got the results he told me “Attila, if you keep eating what you’re eating, you’ll end up just like your father!” I had to change something so I did some research and cut out all the foods that contained cholesterol and worked myself up to a vegan diet. Instantly I felt better, my skin got clearer, my energy level went up, I had more power and the fat around my hips melted away. It was the best decision in my life!

Can you share some of the specific steps you took to get from the Before to the After?
The first step was to forget about the clichés that I had in my mind about healthy vegan eating. At first I was afraid about belonging to a group of hippies that eat nut roast for Christmas and preach to people that meat-is-murder. It all began in my head. And I just wanted to try it out as well, as I always like to challenge myself. But I fell into one trap that many new vegetarians and vegans fall into which is vegan junk food. Although it may not contain cholesterol, soy pudding, soy ice cream, fries with ketchup and vegan burgers with meat alternatives still do contain a lot of calories and I ate way too much of that in the beginning. Back in 2000 I hated vegetables. So first I learned how to cook so that I could make them tasty and delicious for myself. Working out is always a good idea but 80 percent of my weight loss success is due to sticking to a balanced vegan diet!

What do you recommend as the first thing someone should do who’s a carnivore, yet is curious about the benefits of being an occasional vegan?
You don’t have to go all the way and change your whole life! One vegan dish per week or a day is a great step toward a healthier life. It should be fun – don’t force yourself into something. If you start to like it, that’s great, and you can incorporate more vegan dishes into your diet plan. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year; that’s one out of four deaths. We have to start somewhere. Make baby steps and pat yourself on the back for doing them.

Why do you prefer veganism over vegetarianism?
At first I was a vegetarian, but even that increased my cholesterol level. I also like the aspect that you save lives by eating completely plant based — it is so good for the environment, climate and the planet! Vegan foods touch so many levels of my well-being, it’s absolutely incredible.

vegan dessert recipe by Attila Hildmann

Crumble in the Jungle

Do you have any simple recipes for people who are time-pressed?
I have a lot of easy, quick to make recipes in my books. You can order them on amazon.com. There are also free recipes on my website attilahildmann.com. I love to make vegetable pasta with a spiralizer and serve them with a quick Carbonara sauce made with almond butter, smoked tofu and parsley. And I looove sandwiches: whole wheat bread, lettuce, some hummus, roasted peppers and some pesto and you are good to go. It’s really that simple! Vegan cooking is even easier and less expensive than cooking with animal-based products!

I’m not trying to persuade anyone to become a vegan or buy these books; I’m just sharing my opinion. But if you are interested in knowing more, you might want to enter the giveaway, as we are giving away one copy of each.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

22

ShiftCon: Make a Shift Toward Better Health

Alexandra Williams, MA
living centerpieces from FarmBox

Living Centerpieces from FarmBox L.A. at ShiftCon designed by Teachable Mommy

What happens if you bring together brands, bloggers and non-profits for a conference billed as  “the first eco-wellness social media conference?” Shift. Shift is what happens. At the inaugural ShiftCon event this past weekend, hundreds of people came together to further the national conversation about the way we eat and live, and how that impacts our health and the environment.

For example, if you knew the EPA classifies bleach as a pesticide, would you still wash your kids’ clothes in it? Would you want them breathing it at school?

What if you knew that the European Union bans over a hundred of the chemicals found in make-up & beauty products due to cancer concerns, yet the U.S. only bans about 10 of them (and the entity regulating the industry is comprised of the same people who make the beauty products)?  The average U.S. woman uses 12 – 15 beauty products a day, so how much of those contaminants are getting into your body through your skin?

Would you eat a frozen yogurt if you knew that powders and chemicals that have been linked to cancer had been added to it, or that the CEO of the yogurt company was intentionally NOT giving you a list of ingredients?

A sampling of some of the sessions will give you a feel for the tenor of the conference:

The Future of Labeling GMOs

Why Are We So Allergic

Is Organic an Elitist Trend

Legal Implications of Blogging and Activism

Pesticides – What You Need to Know

Fat Vs Fit – the Truth About FitSpo (I mention this one because I was invited to be on the panel after a scheduled contributor became sick)

pic of panelists for FitSpo talk at Shiftcon

FitSpo Panel – Lisa Johnson, Andrea Metcalf, me, and Kia Ruiz (Photo by Ana Lydia Monaco)

After I got home from ShiftCon I looked around my house. Sure enough, many of the brands I support with my purchases were at the conference. I’m lucky that the Isla Vista Co-Op near my work carries many of these brands. If you want to be a shifter, ask your local store or co-op to carry them too. Demand creates change.

These are a few brands I love and recommend to you – Organic Valley Co-op, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Stonyfield Organic, Molly’s Suds, Uncle Matt’s, Boiron, NatraCare, Nordic Naturals, and Dr. Bronner’s.

picture of the Naturpedic suite at ShiftCon

Taking a Nap at the Naturpedic Suite.

And a few that will now find their way into my home are Kingdom Organic Cheeses, Healthy Hoo-Hoo, Health-Ade Kombucha, Nutiva, and Naturepedic.

picture of sunrise in L.A. by the airport

Up at Sunrise for the Boiron 5K at ShiftCon in L.A.

I am not much of an activist, at least not in the way most people think, in that I’m not particularly noticeable. The activists who are out in front and noticeable are game-changers. They push. Loudly. And they make things happen that improve all our lives. I’m more of a shifter. Over time I have shifted my thinking, habits and most importantly, money over to companies and non-profits that support healthy food and products. I believe our nation will improve its labeling and choices when more people shift their money and votes. ShiftCon was a conference for both game-changers and shifters like me. Together we can lead from in front and behind.

10 Steps to Sustainable Change

This post is sponsored by Silk Soymilk because they also believe in healthy living, so they teamed up with us for these ten steps to sustainable change.

Alexandra Williams, MA

picture of Santa Barbra sunset

We are asked all the time to recommend the best way to make lasting healthy changes, usually in the context of weight loss. In one of our very first posts back in 2010, we shared that the “best” workout is the one you’ll do, but somewhere between knowing you should do something and actually doing it, most of us fall into the “Abyss of Inertia.” Why is that?

It turns out that it’s easy enough to be at 1 (I’d like to lose 50 pounds) and want to be at 10 (I lost 50 pounds), yet it’s extremely challenging to get from 1 to 10 because you don’t have all the steps mapped out. You know where you are and where you want to be, but don’t know how to get there.

When I’ve wanted to make lifestyle changes, both big and small, I make a 1-10 numbered list. One is where I am now; ten is what it will look like. My list is the steps I’ll take to get to my goal. The trick is to choose simple, specific, sustainable steps that will lead to success. It’s all about the letter S!

A typical example: I want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Rather vague, which makes it hard to know if/ when you’re successful. A better starting point might be: I want to eat more vegetables, cut back on junk food, and lose 20 pounds in 3 months. From there you plug in small changes that you will actually do. Instead of thinking in grand scale (though I wouldn’t mind living in grand scale in Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed), think of the least you can do. Multiple easy choices go further than grand, sweeping plans that come to nought. Unless you’re the broom in Beauty and the Beast.

Sample Plan to Eat More Healthfully and Lose Weight

1. Add 1,000 steps a day to my movement

2. Before I eat something that I think may not get me to my goal, I’ll go write it down. Sometimes seeing “four scoops of potato salad” written down helps me decide to just take 2 scoops, or none at all.

3. Throw away all food that will sabotage my goal somewhere where it’s not retrievable

4. Shop at a farmer’s market or co-op (any place where healthy food dominates the choices)

5. Add another 1,000 steps a day to my movement

6. With the 2,000 steps now added to my day, I’ll now run or walk very quickly for at least 500 of those. It can be in increments.

7. Serve dinner on smaller than standard plates, then put all the extra food into the fridge so it’s not just sitting out where I’ll be tempted to mindlessly eat seconds.

8. Do 5 push-ups, from knees or toes, and 10 squats

9. Get a cookbook or download healthy recipes that have a calorie count that fits my goals

10. Reward my achievements by writing down the extra energy I have, or getting a massage, or calling a supportive friend. Any reward that is positive (not junk food) and acknowledges the hard work.

You’ve probably figured out that thousands of options exist that would fit into the ten steps. And of course, making a change is really way more than 10 steps, though picking 10 specific steps will get you moving forward. The sample plan above has nothing earth-shattering or magical, which is good. It means you don’t need to wait for the earth to move or a magic wand. You just need to make small decisions repeatedly until they become a habit and you realize three months have passed, and you are now eating more healthfully and have dropped the 20 pounds.

While you’re off hunting for your old Bo Derek posters, you might also wish to learn about the 4 Stages to Healthier Habits. It has tips to help you with all the cognitive stuff that occurs when you’re trying to change.

picture of soymilk decaf latte

Mix half vanilla soymilk with half decaf coffee. Yum.

Since Silk Soymilk was generous enough to sponsor this post, I’ll tell you a quick story about one of my steps to becoming a vegetarian. I knew I needed to get enough protein, so I bought both almond and soymilk. At first sip I wasn’t quite ready to drink them straight, but I knew I wanted them in my diet so I started adding soymilk to my fruit smoothies in place of juice. That worked. Bye bye overly sweetened juices; hello increased protein. And the picture here is my “I’m writing a post” beverage: half Silk, half vanilla decaf. Both of these healthy “hacks” work for my goals of getting in enough protein and enjoying my food. I’m still working on getting the cats to prefer it to their occasional bit of cream!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

14

Six Amazing (and Possibly Gross) Health Future Trends

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Do NOT sit for too long!

Do NOT sit for too long!

What do baldness, wrinkles, cellulite, shyness, muffin top all have in common? They are all normal conditions, not diseases that need to be “cured.” So opened Carol Torgan, PhD, FACSM, in her recent presentation “Communication of Evidence-Based Health and Wellness Information” at the recent FitSocial Conference.

A potentially intimidating title, yet we knew to expect an informative lecture from a woman who’s spent over 15 years at the National Institutes of Health and American College of Sports Medicine “developing content and outreach strategies that translate the health and medical sciences into understandable and actionable steps for the general public and for health professionals.”

Essentially, Dr. Torgan’s talk boiled down to six predicted health trends, starting with the one that might gross you out the most:

Ready for your Fecal Transplant?

Ready for your Fecal Transplant?

1. Microbiomes

A community of organisms that live in and on us – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses -icky, slimy, ewwwy! One – three percent of our body is not “us” but the above organisms. These bacteria/ microbiomes influence how we metabolize foods. In other words, look for the link between probiotics, colitis and poop! Heck, Dr. Torgan even references fecal transplants. In his piece for the New York Times, Michael Pollan discusses microbiomes and states that we are all actually only 10% “human.”

2. Inactivity Physiology

“Your next posture is your best posture.” Sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little. You can exercise strenuously for an hour, but if you sit for the rest of the day, you are at risk for all kinds of health issues, including weight gain. So if you’re sitting up perfectly straight in a chair, get up and move.

3. Travel and Its Effects on the Body

Keep an eye on research into circadian rhythms and chronobiology (the scientific study of the effect of time on living systems and of biological rhythms). With millions of Americans spending millions of dollars on antidepressant medication, research into light therapy and its effectiveness on depression, sleep disorders, dementia, bulimia, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is expanding.

4. Crowdsourcing

Now that we are linked in globally, look for an expansion of people helping people by sharing and curating strategies and successes. A perfect example of crowdsourcing with health benefits is the National Weight Control Registry started by keynote speaker Dr. James Hill. The registry “was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss.”
It tracks over 10,000 people who have “lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time.” The information is then shared in an effort to help people want to access these successful strategies. And this is a perfect time to mention that Dr. Hill wrote the just-released “State of Slim,” which gives step-by-step instructions for losing weight and keeping it off!

Forget tidy whities; time for Carbon Undies

Forget tidy whities; time for Carbon Undies

5. E-textiles

We are already weaving trackers and feedback tools into our clothing, it’s just so gradual that we don’t notice how “futuristic” this is. And more is coming! How about carbon sensing underwear? Yup. These sensing, sensible undies will be useful for everything from diabetes monitoring to military applications. We already have monitors, trackers, cameras, timers and all kinds of magical gadgets that were the stuff of Bond films 30 years ago; now these devices will move even closer to your center of gravity (more accurate than wrist worn gadgets). Remember Andy Serkis using the performance capture suit as Gollum in LOTR? Are you ready to wear a fitness top that has front, back and side sensors that correct your movement patterns?
Check out Carol’s Pinterest board on wearable tech.

6. Neuroscience and Neuroplasticity

Brain science as it relates to movement is huge right now, and the research just keeps coming. To improve cognitive skills and brain power as we age we have to move. You move; you get smarter! Move to the head of the class! We’ve been touting this research for a few years now, knowing that Boomers in particular want to stay mentally sharp.

We’ve gathered a few tweets from Dr. Torgan’s talk, because you will like these 140 character bits of wisdom!

Dr. Carol Torgan is the new BFF of the F&F Twins!

Dr. Carol Torgan is the new BFF of the F&F Twins!

* When offering stats or science, go (or link) to the original source
* “Which fitness tracker do you recommend?” – “The one you will use”
* The most common weight loss tracking device is not an app; it’s the “jeans in the back of the closet that someday I’ll fit into again” tracker
* The most effective treatment for anxiety and insomnia is exercise (via sufferer self-report)
* An abstract presented at a conference is NOT the same as a published, peer-reviewed article
* More than half of internet users are looking online for exercise, health & fitness info.

 

What trend is most interesting to you?

Kymberly is wearing a very cute Lorna Jane blue pullover and shoes by Ahnu.

Photo credits: Carbon clothing- Carol Torgan; Pooped People –  x-ray delta one; Prolonged sitting – iamdogsmom

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C) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

19

BlogTour: Cologne, Amsterdam and Gifts for Your Home

Alexandra Williams, MA

Cologne CathedralMerry Christmas to me! I am headed to Cologne and Amsterdam in January as part of BlogTour by Modenus. 

I’m one of 14 international designers (not me) and lifestyle (me) bloggers invited to attend the giant IMM (International Furniture Fair) and Living Kitchen as well as other design destinations in Cologne before moving on to spend a day in Amsterdam for a guided tour of the City’s design hotspots in collaboration with home design magazine Eigen Huis and Interieur.

BlogTour Green BadgeWhat? You are wondering how I managed to wangle this amazing invitation when I can’t even tell you the 2013 color of the year (it’s emerald)! Let me put it like this – You love good food, right? And you spend a lot of time in your kitchen? And in your bathroom? And you appreciate good design, whether it’s your sculpted body or a beautiful sculpture, right? How about well-made products that make your life more enjoyable? Exactly!

A few of the items I’ll be checking out on your behalf:

BLANCO Cerana Sink

We moved away from Oregon just as my dream kitchen was finished. So I didn’t get to spend much time with MY sink. So for sure I’ll be sidling up to this  BLANCO CERANA™ fireclay, as it’s just like the one I left behind.

Miele Espresso MakerThis magical espresso machine is by Miele. Need I say more?

Steam_Oven_Close_Up_Look_InsideI’ve read the research about the health benefits of cooking with steam (think of vitamins, minerals and nutrients). But I didn’t know about these steam ovens until just now. On the wish list!!

Shawl Collar Terry Robe If you read our November Holiday Fitness Gift List, then you already know about the standing towel warmer by Mr. Steam. I figured out pretty quickly that it warms my fitness clothes in the morning too! And I’m sure it would warm up this snuggly robe from The Turkish Towel Company.

Pomegranate cabinet pullsThese cabinet pulls by Du Verre are shaped like pomegranates. I think it would be so cool to have the drawers match one of my favorite smoothie ingredients! Since they’re manufactured entirely from recycled aluminum, they satisfy my environmental values too!

Solon_Compost_Bin_11My compost currently goes into an old milk container. It’s disgusting. Dear BLANCO SOLON™ Compost System, come to Mama.

These are but a fraction of the many amazing items and brands I’ll be checking out during the trip! I’m pretty excited. And I’l be keeping an eye out for the items I think Kymberly would like in her new home. She needs appliances for an entire house! Hmmm, there must be a way to make her into a Shrinky-Dink so she can fit in my luggage and come along….Shrinky Dinks poster

If you want to know more of our gift suggestions for the season (or any time, really)  listen to our Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas radio interview with Southern Fried Fitness.

And if you want to learn more about Cologne or Amsterdam, GaiamTV has a few videos you might like. FengShui at the Dorint, and Insights: Amsterdam.

Now I’m off to brush up on my basic Dutch skills. Tot ziens!

Photo credits: Miele, BLANCO, The Turkish Towel Company, Modenus, DuVerre, Zachi Evenor (Cologne Cathedral), and Go Orbit (Shrinky Dink poster).

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