10 Effects of Low Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important to the care and maintenance of many areas of the body. When I was growing up I always heard that it was important to go out and play in the sun, but only now am I realizing the validity of that statement.

When my doctor told me that my vitamin D level was very low and that I should start taking supplements, I began doing some research as to how Vitamin D affects the functionality of the body. I was truly surprised at the findings.

Here are 10 of the most common symptoms associated with Vitamin D deficiency:

  1. Weakened Immune System – Prone to illness or infection
  2. Fatigue
  3. Back Pain
  4. Bone Loss
  5. Hair Loss
  6. Muscle Pain
  7. Depression
  8. Reduced Cognitive Function – including Dementia
  9. Tooth Decay
  10. Difficulty losing weight

Research is also being done to learn more about how vitamin D plays a role in prevent or protecting against heart failure, diabetes, cancer, respiratory tract infections and autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Who is at risk?

  1. Anyone who does not get enough natural sunlight.
  2. People with dark skin as the pigment of the skin does not allow for the absorption of the sun in the same way as lighter skin.
  3. Those who do not consume enough foods that are rich in Vitamin D
  4. People with kidney disorders or older kidneys. The kidneys may not be able to convert vitamin D to perform effectively.
  5. Anyone with digestive issues – the impeded digestive process is not as capable of absorbing Vitamin D from the food.
  6. Obesity as it causes the fat cells to block the Vitamin D in the blood, not allowing it to be properly processed within the body.

What can I do to increase my vitamin D levels?

Start by regularly getting a safe amount of sun and follow up with consuming foods rich in vitamin D. You can use supplements as well, but before self-diagnosing or self-medicating, it would be best to have your doctor perform a simple blood test to properly diagnose your Vitamin D levels.  There are repercussions to over supplementing with vitamin D that include nausea and vomiting as well as long term damage including reduced bone density.

Some foods that can help to increase your intake of Vitamin D:

  • Oily Fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna
  • Egg Yolks
  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cereals, orange juice and margarine that have been fortified with Vitamin D

Vitamin D and weight loss?

No, vitamin D is not the magic weight loss pill we are all searching for, but there are a number of studies showing that having normal levels of vitamin D in the body can improve the results of a proper diet. This means that if you are following a proper eating and exercise plan with low levels of Vitamin D, you may not have a lot of success, however, if your Vitamin D levels are in the “normal” range, you may increase your weight loss success.

It also appears that Vitamin D has a direct effect on hormone levels. If your hormone levels are out of balance, there is a tendency to gain weight and belly fat or have increased difficulty losing it. By balancing your Vitamin D, you can help to balance your hormones which could aid in the success of any weight or fat loss plan.

Reality Strikes

I was listening to one of my coworkers this week and noticed that she was talking quite a bit about the calorie and sodium content of various foods.  Although she is now eating meat due to medical requirements, she was vegan/vegetarian/pescetarian for over 15 years and is very well versed in food attributes, but she seemed suddenly overwhelmed.

This woman is one of the most self-confident people I have ever met.  She is always dressed well and her hair is always perfect.  I have never seen her struggle with her appearance so I found this new diet and weight loss focus very intriguing. When we were alone in the office we found ourselves in a conversation about weight loss and how we were looking to find ways to get back to the size we once were. It turns out that what triggered her sudden obsession with weight loss was a photograph that someone had taken of her.  Although she is a frequent selfie taker, she saw a full body shot and was very surprised by the image.  She found her scale and stepped onto it, only to further the shock.  She had never seen a number this high on the scale. Suddenly she became very aware of her lifestyle and how food played a major role in all of her social engagements as well as her day to day life.

She decided that she had to start paying attention to the choices she was making.  She has no intention of becoming a recluse or starving herself, but instead she intends to seek out the best options for work lunches and at family parties, as well as reducing the portion sizes that she puts on her plate.

I recalled that many years ago she was a big fan of hot yoga and used to attend classes a few times a week.  She also loves to walk.  She has already begun walking more frequently and is now considering returning to yoga.

All programs or processes start with awareness and desire. You have to know what you’re doing and where you want to be. The steps to get there should be logical and feasible. Expect to lose slowly and steadily while changing your lifestyle to include good food choices and portion sizes, while incorporating some activity into your routine.   This will get you on your way and the results will be worth the wait.

 

Does Depression Cause Weight Gain?

Apparently, this is a good question.  Everything I have read indicates that yes, depression can cause weight gain, but also that weight gain can cause depression.  This circle means that until we take charge of either the depression or the weight, both have the potential to intensify.

When someone is depressed they often seek comfort in food.  That sugar rush or carb load gives us a temporary mood elevation, but ultimately the sugar crash  and the weight gain that follows brings us down, sometimes to a lower level than where we started.

How do we stop the cycle?  A good place to start is exercise.  Getting outside and going for a walk will help with both the weight and the mood.  I have always heard that exercise is a mood elevator, but by taking control of your activity levels, you are also taking control of one part of your life.  This small amount of control can change the way you feel about your weight. It will help you to feel happier and more successful and may encourage you to  increase your activity level.  Once a routine is established you may begin to make a move toward changing your eating habits as well. Hopefully, this will reverse the cycle and start you on a healthier, happier path.

NOTE:   If you suspect that you have any signs or symptoms of depression, seek professional medical attention immediately.  You should never self-diagnose or self-medicate.

Lessons learned…and still learning!

I’ve been away from the computer for a while, but I haven’t been away from my education about the value of eating properly.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.

I have been discovering just how important it is, not only to exercise and eat well to maintain a healthy weight, but I am learning about the importance of the quality of food and the combinations of vitamins and minerals that my body requires to function properly.

Several months ago I was diagnosed with a condition that, in the most basic terms available, is causing the discs in my neck to deteriorate.  This was initially caused by a minor car accident several years ago and not by poor eating habits, but it seems that there are several ways that getting the proper nutrients from food and consuming a consistent amount of water daily as well as proper exercise and sleep could have helped to prevent the progression.

Due to the development of further symptoms, a number of tests were run.  At first I thought these new symptoms were brought on by my neck issues but it was discovered that I have borderline low levels of both Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.  It appears that the years of concerning myself with “eating light” as opposed to “eating right” have possibly resulted in a negative physical response.

I have changed a number of things in my daily diet and I have added some supplements.  These supplements should only be taken on the advice of a medical professional as you can actually cause yourself harm if you take anything your body does not require and can’t process. Having said that, it’s always best to get what you can from a proper diet. I am hoping that when (if) my levels return to a stronger position, I will be able to stop the supplements and maintain with better meal choices and combinations of foods that work together to optimize their values. Spend a little time researching the nutritional value of the foods you eat.  It will be interesting to see what you are getting a lot of, and what you are missing.

It is equally important to make sure that you exercise regularly and that the exercises you are doing are performed properly and safely. Rushing through a workout or pushing yourself when you are too tired could cause you to perform the moves incorrectly and you can do more damage than good.

If you are doing at exercise program at the gym, ask one of the employees to confirm that you are using the equipment safely.  If you are doing an exercise video at home, make sure to pay attention to the directions they give regarding posture, positioning and safety and follow them.  If you have the opportunity, use a mirror to be sure you are performing each move the same way as the instructor.

These will not only keep your muscles and bones safer, but it will also allow you to get the most benefit from each exercise.

Finally, make sure to get proper sleep.  I know it’s difficult to make time to rest, but your body will remind you (the hard way) if you don’t find a good balance.

Hopefully, the changes I have made will help me to return to my former self.  I have learned a valuable life lesson.  I hope to pass this lesson on and prevent others from making the same mistakes.

Stay healthy. Stay fit. Stay safe.

What Motivates You?

I am always looking for sources of inspiration and motivation to help keep me on track. We all know the positive health benefits, and the mirror is usually another good source of motivation, but some days I need a reminder. There are times when it just seems like an awful lot of effort. I guess it comes down to why it is that you are doing this.

I have taken to watching infomercials for exercise products or weight loss programs and listening to the stories of the people they interview. Many have medical reasons for getting into shape, others just want to look and feel better, but something in every one of their stories inspires me, and reminds me of my reasons for wanting to succeed. I absolutely do not want to wind up as one of the medical stories, and I definitely want to look and feel better.

I recently spent a lazy Sunday afternoon watching a program called My 600lb Life. I was fascinated by the stories of how these people got to be in such an incredible and sad situation. I am not criticizing, as I have been well over the 200 mark myself. I just don’t know how we let ourselves get that far. I heard some of them making excuses for their gaining weight over the months they were being monitored and I was frustrated with them, but quickly realized that I have (and still do) made the same excuses to justify my weight. I also noticed that one of them was eating the allotted 1200 calories a day, but was choosing to eat 2 Tater Tots and one fish stick as part of what comprised that 1200 calories. It may add up to the right number, but it’s definitely not conducive to weight loss or good health! This was definitely something I would try to justify, but really, who am I hurting??

There was one woman who was trying to lose it all for her daughter. She wanted to be able to play with her and do things with her because she felt her daughter was embarrassed by her, and that her daughter would eventually be teased or bullied because of her mother’s appearance. Although I loved that this gave her the inspiration to start, I was relieved when she began losing the weight and started to include herself as part of the reason she was determined to reach her goal.

It is my personal opinion that everything you do in life can be inspired by someone else, but ultimately you have to be doing it for yourself before you will succeed.

Goals

Setting goals is not as easy as it might sound.  As we flip through magazines, we are led to believe we are supposed to look like the 102 pound models with the perfect abs and tight tushies. The reality is that very few people are meant to be or are physically capable of being that size and shape.

The first step to setting goals is to be realistic.  There are many factors that we must take into consideration including body type, whether or not we have had children, and age.  At 46, having had 2 children (ok, 21 years ago but the effects never went away!) and being a solid 5 foot 2.5 inches, I am never going to look like the 24 year old,  5 foot 9 inch fashion model who has never been pregnant and who spends her days in the gym!  It’s just not feasible.  Instead, I choose to look at myself in the mirror and envision me, but in smaller jeans or a cute little black dress. Then I decide, using the mathematical calculations as a guildeline (but not the gospel) where I would like to set my FIRST goal.

In my case, the math says I should be between approximately 120 – 125 pounds.  Although that sounds fantastic, and maybe someday I will get there, I am going to add 10 pounds to that and make 135 my starting goal.  When I achieve this level I will look in the mirror, try on my jeans and try on some little black dresses.  If I like what I see and I am feeling fit, then I will be happy and work to maintain this level.

If I still feel there are some trouble spots I will set my goal down another 5 pounds to 130. I will adjust my workouts to focus a little more on the “problem areas”, and continue with a healthy eating plan until I reach my second goal. I will repeat the assessment at 130 and decide whether to continue on at that point.

I find that taking the last 10 – 15 pounds in increments reduces the chance of being frustrated and discouraged in the final stretch.  It’s all a mindset.  If you feel like you have already achieved your goal, then you are less likely to give up.

 

Remember – dieting is one of the few things in life where being a LOSER means you are successful!

The Scale – Use it Wisely

The scale is my guide and my disciplinarian although at times it may feel like my worst enemy! There are mixed reviews as to how often you should weigh yourself. Some say daily, some say weekly, some even say the numbers on the scale are irrelevant as long as you are healthy and in good shape. I believe you have to choose which of these works best for you.

I am partial to two of the above options. I am a daily-weigh-in kinda girl, but it’s not to see what the actual number is, it’s to see if there is movement in the right direction. If it says 125 today and it was 135 two months ago, I am happy. If it says 185 and I was 215 four months ago, then I am happy. It’s all about the progress. People get very hung up on the NUMBER they are trying to reach. This can be discouraging as we are not all built to be the “ideal weight” set out by some mathematical equation we read in the latest women’s magazine. When you get close to your goal, and you are eating right and exercising regularly, there will almost inevitably be a major slowdown in the weight loss. Your shape will usually continue to change but the numbers don’t necessarily. This is when trouble starts. People tend to give up and slowly go back to old habits, or they tend to go to the extremes of dieting which will only result in illness.

I always use the scale as a guide. If I lose a little – great, if I gain a little I will be aware of it and it won’t let it go any further. It gives me the opportunity to assess and adjust my current plan and continue to work toward healthy goals. How I feel physically and how I feel when I look in the mirror are the best guides to my “ideal weight”.

Trying New Ideas

It’s been a much better week.  I think I may be getting back into some sort of routine, both with my food choices and with my mini workout plan.

I am trying what I call the Many Mini Meals plan, where I have several small healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.  I am not convinced that this is the long term plan that is going to take me to my goal, but it is a way to get into choosing healthy foods and never feeling deprived.  Eventually, even if I remove a couple of the little snacks I might be able to continue to choose more appropriate foods and eat at regular meal times.  The benefit of the mini meals is that the insulin levels in my body stay constant and my metabolism doesn’t feel the need to store food, as it knows there will be more coming soon.  That way it can process and dispose of the unwanted fats and toxins leaving me only with the fuel I need.

I saw an infomercial for an eating plan called Food Lovers that made a lot of sense to me.  It puts specific foods together that work with one another to make your metabolism work for you.  The concept made sense and it claims you can eat any food you want.  I realize that doesn’t mean I can eat 8 slices of pizza, or burgers and fries every night, but the idea that I can incorporate these types foods into my very real, on the go, crazy busy routine without feeling like I have messed things up, is an idea I think I am willing to try. I plan to do a little more leg work on the plan itself and the people who have tried it, but it has definite potential. In the meantime, I will focus on what I have been doing and I may add a few more stretches (maybe a little bit of yoga) and some low impact cardio to my workouts.

I hope everyone is having a successful time with your personal goals. If you haven’t started yet, but you are ready to give it a try, good luck and remember that we all understand how difficult it is. Just take the first step and build a little more each day.

Keep up the good work!

Mulligans

The Mulligan.  The do-over.  The second chance. This is what I need.

I have been stopping and starting for weeks now.  I can’t seem to get into the zone, mentally, that I need to be in to change my routine. Every morning my scale reminds me and by mid-afternoon the temptations are too strong.  Maybe it’s because it’s summer, but it seems like everyone is bringing tasty treats into the office.  I know, that is no excuse, but it seems that my will power is faltering on a daily basis.

It has not been a complete disaster.  I have not gained.  In fact, I have lost 2.5 pounds so it is moving in the right direction, but not quite as quickly as I had planned.  I am being MORE careful with my food choices than I had been, but not as much as I could be.

I have also managed to start a little bit of daily exercise.  Only a few stretches, push-ups and a few ab, leg and glute tightening moves.  I am hoping to add a little more intensity and more in the way of cardio in the next little while.  I decided to start slowly by doing about 10 – 15 minutes a day on the living room floor in front of the TV in an attempt to create a habit.  From there I can escalate to a full 30 -45 minute routine and it will just evolve as a part of my daily routine.

I hope you are all having success with your goals.  Remember, every move toward a healthy lifestyle is successful, whether it shows on the scale or not.

The Moment of Truth

On Thursday morning I stepped on my scale. After the shock wore off and I finished throwing a few unpleasantries in its general direction (you know you’ve done it), I realized that my once successful weight loss program was slipping into the abyss. It was time to get serious again.  I was going to get back to eating right and working out – RIGHT AFTER THE WEEKEND!!!! 

Why do we do that?  I personally think we look at it the way a groom looks at his bachelor party.  It’s our one last chance to do everything we will NEVER be able to do again. 

WRONG!!!   

Eating right and staying fit doesn’t mean we can never eat a carb again, or never indulge in a bite (or two) of chocolate, it just means that we have to have them in moderation. We will slip and we will be put in situations where we are unable to make the choices we should. It’s inevitable.  The trick is to focus and get back to the plan.  No need to punish ourselves or feel badly about what happened, we just need to continue on and try to make these occurrences as few and far between as possible. I think that’s the part I have been forgetting lately. OK, so now it’s time to get back on track.

Ready???  Here we go!