Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Nutella VS. Peanut Butter, nutrionally speaking...

I'm a fan of the taste and convenience of each product. I'll eat them on bananas or on toasted whole wheat.  But in fact, which is better for me? Or worse?

Serving Size - 2 Tablespoons

Lets start with total fat.  While peanut butter has 17g, Nutella has only 11g. But Nutella has slightly more saturated fats at 3.5 grams versus peanutbutter at 3 grams.  Overall, advantage Nutella.

Neither have any cholesterol.

The peanut butter is salty with 105 mg, Nutella has zero. Advantage Nutella.

Peanut butter has 7 grams of carbs (3 grams each of sugar and fiber), Nutella has 22 grams (21 of which are sugars, only 1 of fiber). Is the extra 15 grams of carbs a lot? Is this really what matters the most?

They both have 200 calories. Peanut butter has 150 fat calories, Nutella has only 100 fat calories.

Bottom line, Nutella wins!  Nutella has less fat (17 vs 11) and less salt (105mg) versus zero. Nutella wins across the board except for saturated fats.

UPDATE - I just chatted with someone far more versed in nutrition than me and she (Nicole) said that I was missing the point.

Peanut butter, while it does have salt, carbs (3gs of which are sugar), and 150 fat calories, also has useful protein. Seven grams of useful protein.
Nutella  has slightly less of the bad stuff (salt, sugars, fat) but it only has 2 grams of protein.
Is this difference of 7 v 2 grams of protein that important?

Disclaimer: She also said that she is not that familiar with Nutella so she'd check it out. She did push almond butter (all natural, Whole Foods) as a better alternative than the others. So stay tuned. Or add your insights...thanks.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ten Commandments for Improved Nutrition

Follow these ten rules:
  1. Feed your body, five to six meals a day.  Some of those will be snacks.
  2. Get the right number of calories. This means keeping track. Make a game of it.
  3. Each meal, even the snacks, should be balanced. A carb, a vegetable, a protein, and a fruit.  If you feed your body balanced and regularly, it will not torture you with great hunger and it will not hoard nutrition in case it needs it later.  Try hard to figure out what balanced nutrition means. Everyone agrees that it's important. No two people agree on what it is.
  4. Don't binge, eat smaller portions.  In most restaurants, aim to take half of your main course home.
  5. Avoid temptation. Don't even go to Mexican restaurants. If you must go, say NO THANKS when they put the salsa and chips on the table.  Don't eat even one...Never think about desert or sweets. Don't have dreams.
  6. Before you take a drink with alcohol, think hard about the calories.  Ditto for any salad dressing or sauce. Drink water all the time.  Accept that you'll never sleep through the night again and most meetings will be torturous. Drink lots of water. You'll be uncomfortable but won't be fat or have heart attacks. 
  7. Some foods are better than others. Almonds are less fatty than cashews. Avocado's are fattier than...anything. Get good glasses and study the labels.  
  8. Track your habits and improve them.  Think and talk about nutrition all the time. Of course, it's going to bore a lot of people to tears.  Find other people who care and be nerdy with them about nutrition and calories.  You can also use a service like FitnessPal. It has no personality but lots of info. And is available on the web, on your phone, and on your tablet. You can give your trainer access and she can point out what a job you are doing.  
  9. Hang out with people who eat sensibly. At night, don't eat. Hungry? Drink more water.
  10. Plan to eat well. Spontaneous meals are nearly impossible to manage. Don't be spontaneous. Don't drink.
Fun fun.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Staying Fit Over Fifty, Recent Challenges

Here's the recent story of challenges, successes, and initiatives in getting and staying fit.

When 2012 opened, I was going to the dojo three to four times a week and also doing some running and spending time at the gym. While I was planning to go earn my third degree, I was losing ground due to recurring back spasm crisis which would force me to spend seemingly every third week in recovery time.  I was seeing a chiro regularly but I was unable to exercise maybe 40% of the time.  BTW, I turned 54 in March 2012.

In the summer, I reduced my karate time and decided to improve my fundamentals.  I started doing hot yoga for increased flexibility and core strength. And to improve my cardio, I started training for a set of triathalons down in Miami. I made it two of the tris but, after a nice long bike ride one Sunday, I had another big back spasm.  One of the worst yet. I backed off the additional training and stayed in that messy pattern of recurring problems until March 1, 2013 (when I turned 55).

Once the birthday crisis passed, I decided to try again to break the pattern of recurring back problems and started intensive physical therapy which I did through the spring. I did all the exercises that they asked and I stopped with the dojo and chiro.  By the summer, my back felt a lot stronger and I started searching for some new sports while I continued to rebuilt. I went back to swimming, working out at the gym, and started playing some tennis.

Tennis, sadly,seems to leave my back pretty stiff and sore. So I'm limiting myself to twice a week. But overall, I'm still losing ground. I'm losing fitness, strength, and flexibility. I'm putting on weight.  At this point (Nov 2013), I have pretty much put on one pound per month over the last year taking me up to 205. Big Problem. Need a Massive Action Plan to resolve.

Nicole Hollar Focus Studio
Add caption
1.  Face up to learning about proper nutrition and becoming a disciplined eater.  Something that I had hoped to avoid since I love to eat but, to stop the trend, I'm shifting to studying nutrition and watching what I eat.
2.  Weight training and cardio to rebuild by muscle mass and get rid of the fat buildup.  Once I get back to a much better balance, I might not have to be quite so disciplined.
3.   Build better basics for weight training and posture to build muscles that should help me avoid future back problems.

I'm not going about this on my own, I'm working closely for the rest of this year with Nicole from Focus Studio. She has turned me on to MyFitnessPal, an app and website for tracking nutrition and exercise. I'm thinking of trying to hook its reporting into this blog.

And I've decided to be obsessive about it both in terms of watching my consumption and building the level and techniques of my workouts. Hopefully, I'll get back in a groove so that in Q1, I can return to exercise regimes that are driven by my sense of fun, not duty.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jon Bones Jones is still the Champ

I had a great night watching UFC 165.  The truly great match last night was Jon Jones title defense against Gustafson.  Great fight. Perhaps Fight of the Year. Five rounds of drama and action. Virtually all stand-up. Some creative and great stuff.

They're both huge, both young (26) and it was the first time we've seen Jones struggle.  The web is full of people calling the match fixed and misjudged and all that nonsense but to my eye, Jones won it.  Even if he wasn't the champ, he won it.  But this could be the start of  a great long term rivalry.

Gus probably won the 1st and 2nd rounds. The 3rd was debatable. Jones won rounds 4 and 5. Gus almost got finished in the 4th, another 30 seconds and he was done.  I think round 4 might have been the only 2 point lead round. And while I gave the 2nd to Gus, Jones did get in a pretty solid head kick to Gus in round 2. I would have scored, 1 point to Gus for each of 1-3, 2 points to Jones for 4, and 1 point to Jones for 5.  So I would have had it a draw.

The judges scores were 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46.  Whomever said 49-46.... bad judging.

But overall, there are rules of thumb for these matches.
 1. To beat the champ, you must BEAT the champ.
 2. Don't leave it in the hands of the judges.
3. Finish with momentum.

Jones hung tough, came back, won it. He earned his stripes last night. But the big point is: REMATCH!!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cream Cheese Versus Nutella

Hi Everyone. Or Nobody. It's been awhile. I'm going to try a series of updates. Today's update is answering a simple question that my son asked today while we prepared a snack.

The question wasn't about which was more delicious. It was about which was more nutricious or more precisely, which one was worst for us.

For me, this is always a tough question. First problem, I need to find some glasses so that I can see the labels.  This is often tougher than it sounds.  Today, after some searching, I got lucky and found that they were on my head.  Really.

Then, I go to the harder part. What matters to my healthy? Is it the same as matters to my sons health.  He's 14 and skinny as a rail.  I'm 55 and struggling to maintain a certain look.  Here's the labels, lets compare.   Both define a server as 2 tablespoons.

First line is about fat. Probably bad for both of us. Cream Cheese has 7 grams of fat, Nutella has 11 grams.  Score one for cream cheese.

Cholesterol:  Cream Cheese has 20 mg, Nutalla has none.  Score one for Nutella.  One to one.

Tie breaker: Sodium  I think that means salt.  There's 125 mg of sodium per serving in cream cheese.  Only 15 mg in Nutella.  Nutella wins, two to one!

Of course, there is that second column dealing with carbs and proteins.  And somewhere, it says something about overall calories. But I'm pretty sure that those are less important to us than the amount of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

There is the nuance of what type of fat, saturated or note.  They both had about the same percentage of their fats as saturated. I'm pretty sure saturated fats are worst type of fats.

There's also the question of whether we are eating in the morning, when carbs are probably more OK rather than at night, when I should probably be staying away from deserts, sugars, and carbs.   But who knows?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Four Months Without a Crisis

Just a quick update to tell me that I do intend to getting back to updating this blog.

On the last day of February, I had my sixth major back spasm in about 7 months which was when I decided enough was enough. The last one was caused by carrying my gym bag.  I made some major changes and so far, I'm a solid four months without a twinge or a spasm.  The big thing that I did was go into physical therapy focusing on building some flexibility in my hamstrings and my core intrinsic muscles. Basically, a lot of plank and bridges and leg lifts.  I also stopped with the martial arts (which I really miss) and switched to swimming, going to the gym, and I added tennis.

I'm now wondering if I should focus on tennis or whether I should give martial arts another try.
PS - I'm 55.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Back Problems

back problemsA New and Improved...Me!
Over the last four years, I've had a a frustrating recurrent cycle of back spasms, hip problems, and muscle pulls making it difficult to train and causing a steady downhill slide in fitness.  I've been going regularly to a chiropractor and following his suggestions of applying heat and moderating exercise. I did check out whether the orthopedists felt any surgery was in order (they didn't).

Much time in Jacuzzi and heat
Last week, I marched into a physical therapist, plonked down my credit card, showed them my MRIs, and told them my story.  The story simply is that I'm 55 but I don't just feel 5 years older than when I was 50, I'm losing my fitness and health at an alarming rate.

Chiropractic treatment included electrical stimulation,
ultrasound, roller table, and  adjustments.

They conducted a few basic tests as in push this way, pull that way, and bend thisaway.  Their verdict: it's easily fixed in 8 weeks.  I'm thrilled.  They found some dramatic deficits in some core areas and some areas that badly need a lot of stretching.   I wish I had tried it sooner.

What's odd is that I have had two previous experiences with PT and both were very very positive.  And there's a friend of mine who's a trainer who  had told me that I could, with a little focus and work, be put back together but somehow, I didn't step up to it. Frankly, I got too wrapped up in my day-to-day busyness and missed the forest for  the trees.

What finally got me into it was that I had to take my son to PT weekly and as long as I was there for an hour, I started asking about what they could do for me.  This is pretty much exactly, BTW, how I first got involved in the martial arts. Stay tuned!

Here's my list of exercises (so far). They add new ones at each session:
- warm up on bike 10 minutes (at studio)
- lay on back, on knee bent, the other leg mostly straight.  Stretch it vertical with a band around it for 30 seconds x 3 for each leg.
- lay on back. Arch. Hold for 2 seconds.  Three sets of 15.
- lay on belly. Arch up onto elbows. Press down with abs.  Hold for 2 seconds.  Three sets of 15.
- lay on back. 15 leg lifts with 5 lb weight. Three sets on each leg.
- lay on side. 15 leg lifts with 5 weight. Three sets on each leg.
- lay on belly. 15 leg lifts with 5 weight. Three sets on each leg.
- Get on all fours like a dog.  Arch back so butt is up. Raise hand to horizontal. 15 times, 3 sets each arm.  Try hard to maintain posture.
- Get on all fours like a dog.  Arch back so butt is up. Raise leg to horizontal. 15 times, 3 sets each arm.  Have no idea how to keep position while doing this.
- Get on all fours like a dog.  Arch back so butt is up. Raise leg and opposite leg simultaneously to horizontal. 15 times, 3 sets each side.  Have no idea how to maintain position while doing this.
- ice afterwards

In PT studio, squat leaning back against big ball against wall.  How many?
In PT studio, lay on back, hold ball between knees, push heavy weight with legs. How many?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two Man Kata

Here at Elite Force Martial Arts in Ft Lauderdale, the big news (well my news) is that I'm back! After a three month hiatus where hopefully, my hip and back issues have settled down, I made it back to class last night.  A number of people said: "Heh, we really need some help. You've got to get the Two Man Kata up online so we can learn it"

Gee, it's great to see you all too. In any case, here are three videos.  The first one with Niki is the offensive side of the Two Man Kata, done slowly for us to learn from.

Here is the defensive part of Two Man. 

And this combines the North and South, offense and defense, of the Two Man Kata.
Write-Up.  Offensive side of the Two Man Kata,
 Start: Legs together, hands in a diamond together low.
1. Step right with right leg, backfist with right hand,  left hand open facing right at right shoulder.
2. Step forward with the right, parry parry.
3. Step forward and then back on the 45 with the left with an inward horizontal chop.
4. Step on the next diagonal with the left with a downward block and chamber.
5. Hard bo and left punch
6. Reverse hard bo with downward and upward blocks.
7. Cross over step to the corner while hands do trap and backfist.
8. Step forward with the left so you're facing sideways and upper cut with the left with a pull back on the right.
9.  Upward and inside horizontal block with the right.
10. Jump so that you face the same way but with the left leg forward, neck punch with the left.
11. Jump spin back and inward block with the right.
12. High back fist with the right
13. Inward block on the horizontal with the right.
14. Elbow to the right with the right while leaning.
15. Step with right to the horizontal while pushing forward with the left.
17. Reverse hard bo with downward and upward block.
18. step up and side kick with the left and spin 180 to your left
19. End in reverse hard bo, upward and downward block, hands open.

This Two Man Kata as practiced by Elite Force, Team X-Treme Martial Arts Academy,  New Era Martial Arts, New Life Martial Arts, Team Andrello, Team Creek, Impact Martial Arts and Fitness of Syracuse NY, and other derivatives of the Lavallee-system.  Actually, I don't know if this kata is practiced by all these schools but I thought it would be fun to put the list of them together. Are there other schools largely using the same kata?  If so, tell me in the comments.


lastly, dear readers, how about some comments to encourage me ....
Here are two interesting reads, one of them cites me....