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FIT Talk With Tania  

That 4-letter C word

Count carbs or make carbs count

There's that four-letter “C” word again. That's right, carb.

It seems like no matter who you talk to, there's always an opinion, for or against. While opinions are plenty, the bottom line is, you can either count carbs, or make your carbs count.

Most people refer to things like bread, pasta, rice, cookies, cakes, cereal, etc., as carbs (carbohydrates), which they are. What many people don't realize, however, is that fruits and veggies are also carbs.

Yep, for real. Apples, carrots and raspberries do indeed happen to be in the same category as bread, cereal and pasta.

That doesn't mean to suggest that they behave the same way though. That would be like saying just because an entire family lives in one house, they all have the same way of doing things.

We know that's not true. Foods can also belong to the same family and be entirely different in what each one brings to the table.

Let's start with what a carbohydrate is and why we need them. A carb is a macro nutrient that gives the body energy. Some carbs also provide us with fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Some, on the other hand, have very little, if any, nutritional value at all. Understanding that quality and nutrient density both play a role, not only in the amount of energy, but in increasing overall health as well is important.

So yes, there really is such a thing as a healthy carb. Let's break it down.

There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbs digest quickly, enter the blood stream right away, and turn to sugar in short order.

Anything that comes in a package, box, bag, can or wrapper is a simple carbohydrate. These foods are highly processed and have very little nutritional value.

Don't let words such as “fortified” or “enriched” on the label fool you into believing a particular packaged item is healthy.

These simple, processed, nutrient deficient carbs are what cause blood sugar to spike and the body to store fat. And with diabetes and obesity rates both at an all-time high and rising, they are simply not the best choice.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are the exact opposite. Choosing foods that come in their own wrapper is always the better choice.

Whole, unprocessed, single-ingredient foods are naturally more nutrient dense and rich in fibre. They also contain many essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that fuel the body at a cellular level.

Feeding your body and fuelling your cells with these types of carbs, as opposed to simply filling your “stomach bucket” has a laundry list of benefits. 

Natural fibre helps with regularity. I get it, no one likes to talk about their bathroom habits. But if you're putting food in and nothing's coming out, it won't be long before you're in a pretty s#!tty situation.

Fibre also slows down digestion a bit, helping to stabilize blood sugars. Stabilizing blood sugar is key for weight loss, balancing hormones, reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, and increasing energy.

The vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients nourish cells and help build and support your immune system. A properly nourished body stays satisfied longer and is less likely to make bad food choices.

And who doesn't want a stronger immune system these days? Not a complex choice at all when you look at it that way. 

So we've established that simple equals processed, refined, nutrient deficient food and are simply not the best choice. And complex foods equals fresh fruits and veggies, quinoa, oatmeal – basically single-ingredient foods – should not be a complicated choice because they are what keep our bodies fuelled and healthy.

If you're looking for simple solutions on how to balance blood sugar, lose weight and take back control of your health, follow FIT Nutrition on social and join the “8 Weeks is All it Takes” group on Facebook.



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Your body type, your results

We're all different. “Of course, we are,” you say. “Everyone knows that.”

While that may be true, when it comes to weight loss and body type, most people compare themselves and their results to others. Some even go so far as to beat themselves up mentally if their results don't measure up. Seems irrational doesn't it? And yet people continue to do it.

If we know and accept that we are all different in a variety of ways, doesn't it makes sense to consider that your health, fitness level and yes, even weight loss, could also look different for you than for those around you?

Let's take a look at what makes that so.

You don't have to go far or look very hard to find ads, pictures, posts, etc., on how to create the perfect body. Let me just say that nobody is perfect and therefore nobody's body is perfect either.

And if we're honest, I believe most people would not only agree, but be quick to point out what they don't like about their body. Whether it be an injury or illness, size, weight, health, or the way we look, we've all had moments where we've all been a little hard on ourselves.

That’s OK if it's done in a way that motivates us to make healthy changes and take back control of our health. What's not OK is comparing our bodies and our results with others, picking out all the negatives and marinating in them. It's toxic. And the only thing it will get you is frustrated.

The reason many people get frustrated and often give up on their health- and weight-loss goals is they simply don't understand the extent to which our bodies are different.

There are three distinct body types a person can be born with:

  • Ectomorph
  • Endomorph
  • Mesomorph.

An ectomorph is that person who is naturally very lean, lanky, has a high metabolism and has difficulty gaining weight.

An endomorph is the exact opposite. Often described as “big boned” the endomorph will often say they have a slow metabolism and have to work at it to lose weight.

And, as you might expect, the mesomorph falls somewhere in the middle. 

I like using the bicycle analogy. The ectomorph would be a road bike – sleek, light and fast.

The mesomorph is like a mountain bike – not as fast, needs a little more energy to get where you want to go but still pretty effective.

The endomorph would be the beach cruiser. One speed, not the fastest ride out there by a long shot, but it's a comfortable ride.

Regardless which type of bike you ride through life on, one thing is for sure, it will get you to your destination as long as you don't give up.

Granted, the beach cruiser is not going to get you there nearly as fast as the road bike, but if you keep pedalling, you will get there. Same with our bodies.

Although we may not be able to change our body type, we can always make changes and improvements to the one we have. And small changes done consistently over time equal huge results. This works in the positive and negative. Ouch.

That little revelation may have smarted for some, but it's true. Lifestyle diseases by definition are the result of poor choices in food and lifestyle maintained over an extended period of time. Fortunately, most can be reversed, also using diet and lifestyle. Over 65% in fact, according to Dr. Hans Diehl of Loma Linda University. And many experts believe that number to be even higher.

Years ago, I attended a health conference in Utah and one of the speakers, Paul Zane Pilzer, said something that has stuck with me.

 “There's a small demographic of people getting healthier as they age.”

As someone who worked continuously to improve not only my own health, but that of my family as well, I am happy to say that it's not an exclusive club. I am healthier and stronger in my 50s than I was in my 20s.

My daughter had a serious digestive issue as a toddler that, through dietary changes and natural supplements we were able to clear up. And last month my dad told me he's started jogging again. Something he hadn't been able to do for decades due to a back issue. He will be 80 in November. 

Regardless where you are in your health and/or weight-loss journey, making positive, healthy changes and sticking with them will allow you to make improvements and see results at any age.

Now, go back and consider the three body types and which bicycle you're 'riding' as you navigate your personal health journey. I'm sure you have a pretty good idea which one you are.

Knowing where you are will allow you to set more appropriate expectations, avoid the frustration and continue long enough to see results. 

Remember, no matter which body type you are, regardless how long things take, that “bike” will only get you to your destination if you get on a start pedalling.

Creating health is not much different from anything else of value we work toward in our lives. It takes some effort, you have to be willing to make a few changes, and the only way you won't see results is if you give up.

If you're looking to start your journey to better health, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook, or email. [email protected] for your free health assessment 



Fat does not make you fat

During the last 40-plus years, fat became, and has remained, a controversial food.

Back in the 1980s, we were told by the government saturated fat caused heart disease and to avoid it at all costs.

People listened. Most of the world listened.

What followed was a steady increase in weight gain, together with a steady decline in overall health. As a result, North Americans are now fatter and sicker than ever before in history.

In fact, the BBC online published these stats showing globally how obesity rates climbed from 875 million in 1980, to 2.1 billion in 2014 with Americans owning the largest share.

How could this happen?

If fat is bad, if it makes you fat and fat causes disease, then eliminating it should have resulted in a healthier society. Which, clearly it did not.

There really are only two answers:

  • People ignored the government's advice and guidelines and continued eating fats
  • They did listen and it was bad advice based on bad science.

Given the number of fat-free, low-fat and no-fat products that exploded in the 1980s and continued for decades, it's clear now that the advice was wrong.

In addition, governments recommended increasing carbohydrate consumption to the tune of about eight servings per day of breads, cereals, pastas and grains - all foods that we know cause blood sugar to spike and the body to store fat. Not to mention a whole host of digestive issues.

This advice was not only wrong, but damaging to the health of entire populations. And yet our own Canada Food guide is still recommending this level of carbohydrate intake as healthy.

Food for thought, no?

Now, we all know that fat tastes good and removing it from food also removes the taste. To restore taste, food companies began adding, you guessed it, sugar. Yet another processed carbohydrate thrown into the mix adding fuel to what has become an explosive health crisis.

The good news about all of this is that whatever we have erroneously added over the years, can be removed and replaced with foods that will nourish, support, balance and restore health to our bodies.

Balance is so important in all areas of our lives, especially health. When we take out nutrients essential to our body's and brain's health and function, like healthy fats, we suffer for it.

As many people have found recently, simply removing bread and sugar go a long way to solving a variety of health issues. Extend that to all grains and watch even more benefits begin to surface.

Increase fruit and veggie (unprocessed carbs) consumption to replace those depleted vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient stores and feel how a strong immune system feels.

Add quality, grass-fed proteins and healthy fats such as coconut, olive, or avocado oils, unsalted nuts, all natural nut butters, grass fed butter, eggs, avocado and feel satisfied, energized and watch the weight begin to fall off.

From the moment we were born, the nourishment Mother Nature provided us is made up of protein, healthy carbs, and yes, fats. I challenge you today, if your health and weight is not where you'd like it or need it to be, try these suggestions above for one week.

I promise, you'll never go back.

For more information on balancing your PFCs (protein, fats and carbohydrates), join the “8 Weeks is All it Takes” Facebook group or book your complimentary health assessment at [email protected]





Good lifestyle choices can lower risk of type 2 diabetes

An important 4-letter word

The term ‘lifestyle disease’ encompasses many of the diseases we have in our society today, including diabetes. The good news is, they can be prevented and even reversed by making the right choices.

Last week, my good friend and world renown nutrition and fitness expert, Mark Macdonald, posted the latest statistics on diabetes in the U.S. I'm sure I don't have to tell you they were not very encouraging. They did, however, prompt me to check out the latest true-north numbers to compare and I can tell you Canadian friends, it was not good.

Before we take a look at those numbers, let's talk a little about what diabetes is and how someone comes to have it. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin required to keep the blood sugar level stable, or the body does not metabolize sugar properly and is resistant to insulin. There are many categories for diabetes but I'm going to touch on three that you're likely familiar with and one that you may not be. In fact, it may actually shock you.

If you're a mom, I'm sure you'll remember doing a blood glucose test around the end of your second trimester of pregnancy. A sickeningly sweet concoction most of us gagged down so our doctor could check for gestational diabetes – diabetes while pregnant. Gestational diabetes can only happen during pregnancy, so when we talk about diabetes as a whole, this is not where most of the population will be. Just an FYI to all the moms-to-be, GD does put you at risk for developing diabetes years after your baby is born.

Type 1 diabetes is often referred to as something you’re born with, even though this is not actually the case. The fact that it appears very early on in life is what gives that impression. Type 1 is where the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin, the hormone needed to stabilize blood sugar. Roughly 10 percent of diabetics are diagnosed as type 1 and manage their condition with insulin injections or an insulin pump.

Type 2, formerly known as “adult onset diabetes,” is something that at one time was only showing up in older adults. I say “formerly” and “was only” because for the last 20 years or so, this supposedly adult-only disease started showing up in children. The Mayo Clinic defines type 2 diabetes as “...a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose) – an important source of fuel for your body. With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin..... or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.” With gestational diabetes only registering in pregnant women and the number living with type 1 at only 10 percent, that leaves a whopping 90 percent of diabetics in this type two category. The good news is that this is the type that we can work with.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's, some types of cancer, asthma, cirrhosis of the liver, COPD, metabolic syndrome, chronic renal failure, osteoporosis, obesity, depression and yes, type 2 diabetes all fall under the category of a “lifestyle disease.” What is a lifestyle disease you ask? Exactly what it sounds like. “Diet and lifestyle are the most common causes of these lifestyle diseases,” reads the opening sentence an article posted on Med-Health.Net, a platform of health news written by doctors. In short, one four-letter “F” word, Food, along with the choices you make on the daily determine your health, or lack thereof.

These are shocking statements for sure. But if you really dive into what that means you'll start seeing what's good about it. If a lifestyle disease is something that we created and brought upon ourselves due to the choices we have been making over an extended period of time, doesn't it stand to reason that doing the opposite would then reverse it? Bingo. The fact is, all lifestyle diseases, including but not limited to, type 2 diabetes, can be reversed or at the very least, significantly reduced, with food and making better choices.

Considering diabetes reduces lifespan anywhere from five to 15 years, contributes to 30 percent of strokes, 40 percent of heart attacks, 50 percent of kidney failure requiring dialysis, and 70 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations every year, if you're one of the 2.3 million Canadians 12 and older with type 2 diabetes, the fact that you can lower your risk, prevent and even reverse some of these things should get you pretty excited right about now.

The last one I want to talk about is one you may not have heard about, type 3 diabetes. You have, however, likely heard of Alzheimer's. Although most people I've spoken to have never associated diabetes with Alzheimer's, doctors have been saying it for years. This description posted on healthline.com illustrates it clearly. “Type 3 diabetes is a term used when Alzheimer’s disease is triggered by insulin resistance in the brain. This condition is most often used to describe people who have type 2 diabetes and are also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia...” Shocked? Most people are when they hear this. However, when you put two and two together – or should I say type 2 – you have more control over the outcome of your health than you thought.

Ditch the white, packaged, processed “food-like” substances, eat clean real foods, drink more water, sleep, manage stress, and move your body. Every day. And when you replace those bad foods and lifestyle choices with ones that serve your body, you'll reverse disease, improve health and love living life instead of suffering through it.

For more tips on creating optimal health and stabilizing blood sugar, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebookand email Tania to schedule your complimentary health assessment [email protected] and take back control of your health.



More FIT Talk With Tania articles

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About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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