July 16, 2012

Why is our food killing us?

This is a new kind of post for me, but a topic I'm obsessed with.

I've recently embarked on a journey to get into the best physical/mental shape of my life.  Why?  Well for one, there is no better time than right now, two, it's part of my job, and three, I am frustrated by some physical "problems" that I couldn't ignore any more.  The mental fog, lack of energy, blood sugar highs and lows, cravings, having breakouts in my late-er 20's.  I couldn't help but notice that my physical "problems" always were made worse or better by the foods I put into my body, but there is so much misleading information out there that I didn't even know what's good for me anymore. Organic, natural, gluten free, Paleo diets, South Beach Diets, Atkins diets, preservatives, antibiotics, chemicals...does it even make a difference?  Ah, it's all enough to make your head explode. So, I've made a huge effort to figure this out. I have read about 15 books in the last few weeks, met with a nutrition counselor, three doctors and took a nutrition course and spent a lot of $$ to get to the bottom of it. What I learned changed my life, and I feel it's my duty to share what I learned!  I will quickly write about the biggest changes I have made that offer a solution to my healthy journey.

Two of my biggest personal problems were keeping my skin clear (while piling on tons of makeup for my job) and keeping my blood sugar stable so that I don't have so many ups and downs in my mood. Most of us have swinging blood sugar, but we are so used to it that we think it's normal.  We drink coffee to compensate or reach for sweets when we crash.  That was me.  I met with a dermatologist and two doctors to find the answer to my problem.  One doctor's solution was "Oh, you have  ADHD, we should put you on drugs to keep your brain "balanced and normal" like everyone else.  Oh great, so now I am not normal? One doctor said, "You have a hormone imbalance, so lets put you on synthetic hormones (birth control), but there are some serious side effects, but don't worry". Sure, add more hormones (synthetic, foreign unnatural ones) to an already unbalanced problem... right.  The dermatologist suggested the last two antibiotics that I hadn't yet tried over the years... which to my own personal experience only makes more problems.   Nothing was ever mentioned about my diet... in fact one doctor flat out denied my diet had anything to do with my moodiness.  I did not fill any of the suggested prescriptions.  Drugs were a band-aid to cover up the real problems that have been plaguing me for years... which prompted me to my next move.

Deeply frustrated, I met with Darline Kvist , founder of the Nutritional Weight and Wellness Center in St. Paul.  Darlene is a licensed nutritionist specializing is complex health problems, a book author, the host of a popular radio show on nutrition and a nutrition educator.   Lots of people in my shoes come to her when they are fed up by conventional medicine. More than any other doctor I have seen, Darlene has actually, truly helped me.  She talked with me for an hour and a half (she stayed an extra half hour when she didn't have to) and asked me all the important questions: about my family history, what I eat, what I don't eat, what kind of drugs/supplements I currently take and what kind of stress I have in my life.  She concluded that I do not have ADHD, nor is there such a thing, I simply was intolerant to a lot of the foods that I thought were so good for me which caused the mental fog (ADHD).  One doctor was right, I do have a hormone imbalance, but in order to fix it, the body would need to balance on it's own... not by use of pumping more synthetic hormones into it. My hormone imbalance was brought on by my sugar and carbohydrate consumption and some other avoidable mistakes.  The best part is, all of this can be fixed...without drugs.  My diet got me here, my diet can get me out.

The first thing Darlene told me is that I have a gluten sensitivity.  I needed to cut it out.   Little did I know, cutting this out of my diet would be the most significant change I've made for my health in my life. In fact, many of us need to cut it out of our diets, but no doctor will ever tell you this. What is gluten?  A naturally occurring protein found in the wheat grain.  So why is it so bad?  Because the wheat we consume today is nothing like the wheat our great-grandparents used. Modern wheat has been so genetically alerted that it is nothing like original wheat grains- it's a whole new species of overly processed, nutritionally void, super-carboydrate. Modern wheat is such a simple carb that it rushes into your bloodstream faster than pure white table sugar.  Yup.  It is true, my slice of so-called "healthy whole grain" bread was spiking my blood sugar twice as fast as a Snickers bar... ultimately sending my insulin levels through the roof creating hormonal imbalances, stress on every organ in my body and showing physical signs in the form of a pimple right before a photo shoot.  Consume wheat products regularly, and your body is on a constant roller coaster making it impossible to stay focused, lose weight or control cravings.  And, wheat (gluten) is in EVERYTHING, so our bodies are having to process an excess amount of this simple-super-carb when it wasn't made to handle this.  If you want an EXCELLENT read on what wheat is doing/does to our bodies, read Wheat Belly.  Darlene recommended this and it changed my view on food forever.

Another killer, which most of us know, is sugar.  High fructose corn syrup, sucrose, "raw sugar", honey, etc.  It's all the same.  It spikes your blood sugar and it is inflammatory in every organ of your body.  It's a foreign substance that the body has a hard time processing.  Sugar is in everything, too. Carbs turn to sugar in your bloodstream, as most of us know, but this fact is interesting: for every four grams of carbohydrate you consume, it equals to one teaspoon of sugar in your body.  Unfortunately, much of the modern American diet seems to consist of mostly processed carbs and sugars which is why the obesity and diabetes epidemic running parallel to our diets.  We need to change this.

In my particular case, I have chosen to cut out soy, dairy, gluten and sugar, but I believe that the gluten and sugar were the two most evident health killers.  If there is anything most people should change in their diets if they want to lose weight, feel better and look better, it would be these two things above all.  Sugar of all kinds, all processed foods made of any kind of flour and even diet sodas are killing us a slow, fat death.  

So why, even though people have more access to healthy food and unlimited resources to educate ourselves, are we still poisoning our bodies with the bad stuff?  Well, for one, I think advertising has much to do with it.  We are confused.  Take McDonalds for example.  They quickly adjusted their menu to offer "healthier" versions of their consumable product. And, it's cheap! At the end of the day, it's still a bad product loaded with simple carbs, bad fats, sugar, highly processed and low quality meats, but those fluffy billboards and cheery commercials help us to associate McD's with something better than what it is.  Another thing that gets me is when a product slaps the label "natural" on it.  The USDA does not regulate the word natural (so that places like Wal-Mart can label their processed foods with a healthy claim) and you can be tricked into thinking it's organic and healthy.  Read the ingredients label and make sure everything is natural. To be truly natural or organic, a product must include this official seal:
If there are any two things you choose to buy organic, it should be your meets and eggs.  It's better for you and better for the animals. If you choose to consume dairy, buying this without added hormones and antibiotics is wise.

As for me and my new journey?  Well, I am not a doctor and I don't have scientific evidence to prove this, but what I am experiencing right now is truly incredible.  I'm talking, life changing incredible. It's been two weeks since I have switched to a high protein (free range eggs, grass fed meats) and veggie diet with lots of good fats (nuts, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil etc).  I've also supplemented my diet with Omega 3,6 and 9, good bacteria, a multi-vitamin, zinc for my skin and vitamin D, per Darlene's request. Within three days of removing gluten, a mental fog I'd been living with for years went away.  I am sharper, more creative and have so much more energy than coffee ever gave to me.  Two weeks later and physically I can see my body changing more rapidly than ever before. I was at a physical plateau before, but just this little diet change has made the biggest impact on my physical appearance- the stubborn "problem areas" melted away.  I have much more endurance when I run and I recover twice as fast. The puffy feeling I had from eating wheat carbs was no joke!!  My eyes are brighter, skin is better, I sleep better and I have zero mood swings or sugar/carb cravings.  Why did I ignore this for so long?  Because I, like many other people, was tricked into believing I needed my "whole grains" as a healthy part of my diet.   

So why would we keep manufacturing food products that are killing us, but market them as healthy food product? Financial gains, for one.  Kelloggs would be out of business if people knew that buying Trix is no different than buying Wheaties.  If we want to manage our health crisis (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc) we need to stop tricking our people into eating poisonous foods that doom their chances for health, but we know this isn't going to happen. We need more education programs about making healthy food choices. Our doctors need more education on nutrition, not drugs, because I truly believe they just don't have enough education on nutrition. It seems like an impossible task, I know.  Share this post if you're on the same page.

Education is key.  These are great reads that will change your lifestyle:
The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, PhD
Sugar Nation, Jeff O' Connel
Medication Madness, Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
Wheat Belly, William Davis, M.D. 

July 12, 2012

New Cover, a TV Show and a new agency!

I am keeping optimistic about what's about to happen in the next couple months! I am looking forward to elevating my modeling career by adding a new agency very soon!  Once contracts are in place, I will tell you which agency I sign with.  I had to make some changes to my representation this year (which was hard to because I truly loved my old bookers), but necessary to keep moving forward.

I am also so excited about a t.v. show concept that I've been in the midst of working on over the last couple months.  I've kept it quiet until now, but things are coming into fruition which means I can mention it!  I am working with the very talented group of people at Match/Cut Productions in Minneapolis who are best known for their work producing the popular show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri.  The show concept we are working on was actually their awesome idea, and all I can tell you is that is is a meaningful docu-series. It is willfully entertaining at my expense but mostly aiming to be inspirational and empowering.  We filmed the sizzle and it's being pitched soon. Fingers crossed!

On the art side of my world, I am working on having another big show at the end of summer.  This time I am bringing it all back to my home state of Minnesota.  I'd love to have any of my blog followers come as well as all of my fellow Minnesota friends.  Location is still being locked down, but it will be in Minneapolis. I am trying to think of a great charity or foundation tie-in right now.  Thoughts on your favorites?  

Lastly, if you happen to be near a newsstand this week, look for me on the cover of First Magazine again this month (wink)!  I also have some new photos peppered into in my "model book" page on my blog.

July 2, 2012

Random Acts of Kindess

Every once in a while, a complete stranger restores my faith in how there are really good people out there in this world. When someone does something nice for me when they didn't have to, it gives me the duty to then return the favor to someone else out there.  Here's a recent story about a stranger who was exceptionally nice to me, which in turn began a chain reaction.

A brilliant young writer, Casie (follow her @KaceeMaree) reached out to me from my blog and asked to meet with LittleOldMe to write a piece about my artwork.  Of course, I would be happy to meet with her and talk about my artwork (duh). We sat at a coffee joint and had the most pleasant conversation- I started by warning her she could stop me if I began rambling on too much.  As I was about to leave, she handed me a box with a gift.  Wow! She actually took the time and thought of giving me a gift in exchange for listening to me blabber on forever about myself.  Who does that?  I was blown away. The gift itself was even more special... she saw from a recent tweet that my favorite coffee shop was the Bad Waitress in Uptown, so she stopped and bought me a gift card (which I promptly used).  Thoughtful and unexpected!

Casie didn't have to give me a gift. But because she did, she filled me with a renewed desire to do good to strangers in my life as well.  Gifts and good deeds are truly genuine when the giver expects nothing in return and aren't seeking recognition for what they did.  Often, the best gifts are anonymous.

I believe, the best gifts you can give don't even have to cost you anything: letting someone in a hurry go ahead of you in line at the airport, complimenting a stranger on how much you like the way their style, calling someone just to tell them you miss them, a hand-written note, emailing someone to tell them you admire their work. It just feels good in your soul.  Think about it, you can make yourself feel good by making others feel good!  Don't be afraid to do it.  What's to lose?

Lastly,  I just received the draft from Casie, and I am thoroughly impressed.  I'll post her article when it's published.