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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.

20

Post-Workout Protein: Soy Revisited

By Alexandra Williams, MA & Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

In 1973, the movie “Soylent Green” was set in the far future of 2022! A detective, played by Charlton Heston, is marked for death when “he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.” There’s no way we’ll tell you the secret of Soylent Green, but we will tell you that the “foodstuff” is full of protein.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpN312hYgU[/youtube] Speaking of forced segues, another “soy” word that is protein-packed, yet has nothing to do with the detective/ science-fiction movie genre, is soy. It’s green, it’s soy and we’ll happily lend you some. Get it? Soy – Lend – Green? hahahahaha. Oh, quit slapping your forehead unless you want a V-8!

Edamame with Salt (we say "Eat a Mommy")

We are asked a LOT by our students and readers if soy is a good pre- or post-workout food. It’s a protein, and if you click to read the link you’ll discover a picture of donuts and coffee that carbs and protein are your best choice after a workout. Soy has been controversial (The only food that isn’t controversial is dark chocolate – right?), so we try to stay up on the latest so we can give you our informed answer of “it depends.”

Alexandra: My son was allergic to soy when he was young, yet I can eat a gi-mantic bowl of edamame and feel nothing but full. So when we were offered the chance to write about some new research that just came out about the benefits of soy protein in combination with whey and casein, I was right in front, shoving my colleagues out of the way raising my hand. Because I’m a vegetarian, I’m always interested in finding ways to get a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in my diet, especially as I’m not fond of fish oil (who is, I want to know? And who’s keeping anchovies on the pizza menus? Gag).

Kymberly: I am fond of fish oil that comes in fish. I like fish.

Without going in-depth about the research (we’d enjoy it, but you might start to glaze over and drool a bit), the bottom line is that soy (in combo with whey & casein) has been found to prolong muscle building and recovery after exercise. The study was done with college-aged subjects, yet the implications for helping older adults deal with sarcopenia (muscle wasting) are really exciting to me (not because we’re old; because we plan to BECOME old)!

Natto: It tastes even worse than it looks

Before you say in all caps, ‘FOLLOW THE MONEY,” we’ll tell you right out that the research was funded by Solae LLC (they develop soy-based ingredients). We didn’t have to follow that hard; it’s listed on the abstract! But, we kept following and found out that Solae has also been recognized for 3 years in a row as a world leader in ethics.

Alexandra: So I’m going to do what I have been doing all along – eat a balanced diet that has all kinds of organic choices, in moderation, which includes soy and soy-based foods. Heck, the Japanese have been eating tofu, bean paste and edamame for centuries and they’re healthier than we who eat a western diet! However, I will NOT be eating natto. That stuff looks, smells and tastes like a science project gone mutant. I tried it at the National Products Expo so you wouldn’t have to! It’s tied with Marmite for nastiest food in the universe as far as I’m concerned.

What about you? Are you more interested in post-exercise muscle building and recovery, or the possibilities for preventing sarcopenia in older age? Me, I’m off to figure out why our dachshund likes to eat empty edamame pods.

Are you on Twitter? There is a Twitter chat about soy protein on Wednesday, May 23, 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST, hashtag #SoyProtein. Join the chat. Bring your questions. Do your workout first!

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.

Photo credits: Natto: Gleam, Edamame: MagicRobot