Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Scoop on Poop!

You might think it's funny or gross or not something to be discussed in polite company, but what comes out of your body is serious business and can say a lot about your overall health as well as alert you to potential signs of disease. So, let's talk about it!

The chart above is called the Bristol Stool Chart, and it was developed as a quick and handy reference tool. Its creator, Dr. Ken Heaton of the University of Bristol, believes that the form of a person's stool is a useful surrogate measure for the amount of time the stool has traveled through the colon. Types 1-3 indicate that the stool has spent too much time in the colon, and types 6 and 7 point to the stool having passed too quickly through the colon. Types 4 and 5 are considered ideal.

But, while this chart is a great visual representation of the consistency of healthy or unhealthy stool, it doesn't address the other aspects of solid waste.

And, on that count, I'm here to help.

Although there's a pretty wide range for what is considered normal, in general there are signs that you're doing A-OK in this department, and others that may be cause for concern.

If you have children, it's a good idea to share this information with them. Open up a dialogue, let them know that they should tell you if there's a problem in this area. Will they be embarrassed or think it's funny? Probably. Then, they'll get over it. I printed the Bristol Stool Chart and pinned it to the bulletin board in my kids' playroom. Hey, whatever works. I want them to have this important information. 

And that brings this blog post to an end. I hope that you and your loved ones keep a watchful eye on what you're leaving in the toilet bowl, and catch any problems as soon as they arise!

- Tamera

Thursday, January 1, 2015

40 Pieces of Advice Challenge Day 16

It's that time of year again! The time when most people evaluate the last 12 months or so of their lives and decide on the changes they will make to improve their state of affairs.

It has been said, by those whose job it is to know these things, that losing weight is the most popular New Year's resolution. So the gyms will fill up at the start of January, maybe refrigerators and cupboards will be cleansed of junk foods and restocked with only the most nutritious of fare, weekend plans may be altered to avoid activities that involve calorie-dense alcoholic drinks. Some people might even go so far as to explore the option of weight loss surgery. 

With the exception of surgery, I'm all for these behavior changes. 

But, given that almost everyone who makes the resolution to lose weight will most likely be making the same resolution the following year, I'd say there's a hitch in the plan somewhere. And, I think that hitch is that we tend to have an all or nothing mentality. 

Need to lose weight? Ok, I'm going to run 5 miles every morning, eat only fruits, vegetables and lean protein, and so on, personalized to each person's take on the quickest way to shed the pounds. 

But, come on, this isn't how we humans operate. We will almost definitely fall short of the extreme limits we put on ourselves.  And, when the inevitable food "cheat" happens, or we miss a couple of days of exercise, we tend to fall prey to the idea that we've already blown it, so what's the use? 

I say, you want to lose weight? Or, more accurately, fat? Ok, that's great. But, you don't need to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. 

I suggest that you start with small steps. And a great small step to take is to follow this piece of advice: have your biggest meal early in the day, and scale downward from there so that your last meal of the day is little more than a snack.

This will serve you in many ways. By eating a substantial and nutrient-dense meal in the morning, you are giving your body and brain the fuel that they need to function optimally. A smaller meal later in the day will help keep your energy on an even keel. Then, at night, when many people find themselves relieving the stresses of the day by eating mindlessly in front of their TVs (that's another issue we'll tackle another day), instead of downing a lot of potentially empty calories, just choose to have a light snack. 

Then call it a night.

Make the kitchen off limits after this last, light meal. At first, your mind may play tricks on you. It may tell you that you are starving. But, are you actually starving? No. Just remind yourself that you will have a nice big meal in the morning. Also, you are more likely to have a deeper and more restful sleep if your body isn't working hard to digest a lot of food. 

And, with all that evening time that you won't spend eating, maybe you'll have the time and energy to tackle projects you've had on the back burner, or take up new hobbies. The opportunities are limited only by your interests and imagination.

After a week or two of eating lightly in the evening, chances are you will feel so good, you'll wonder why you ever indulged in heavy dinners. 

Take this as your start. Give it at least 60 days to make a real impact in your body, mind and life. And, if you do have a big dinner occasionally, don't worry about it. Just make sure you get back on course the next day. 

So, what do you say? Does this speak to you and your experience? Please share your stories, I'd love to follow your progress!

- Tamera