Vitamins are important, too!

I work for a vitamin company, and I like it. I like it a lot actually, because I get to help people become healthier and get to hear these amazing stories about how vitamins saved them from a life of drugs with horrible side effects and so on and so forth. So I thought I would toss out the top few supplements I think everyone should be on, whether they're fat, thin, old, young, whatever.

Not that I'm endorsing LEF's products, but let's face it, you're going to hear about them cuz that's what I deal with for at least 8 hours a day, five days a week. So smile, read about it, and make an educated decision.

Daily Vitamin - a daily vitamin is the foundation to healthy supplementation. It gives you a good base with the general A's, B's, C's, D,s, some antioxidants, calcium, the regular junk your body needs. There are two typical ways to take your daily vitamin, the majority of companies have a tablet or two, like LEF's Two-Per-Day. Then there are your more comprehensive daily vitamins, which are the same A's, B's, C's, etc., multiplied a few times, along with a much larger selection of antioxidants, minerals, and other ingredients to help optimize your body. These vitamins typically have several capsules/tablets. The LE Mix, for example, is 14 capsules. I personally take the Two-Per-Day, but when I'm in middle age territory (about another 13 years) I'll switch over to something more comprehensive.

Fish Oil - Fish oil, or your omega-3 fatty acids in general, are extremely beneficial to the body in several ways, and are also very cheap. Fish Oil is excellent for the brain, the cardiovascular system, the liver, the prostate, skin, hair, nails, and has some really good results when it's used as an aid to regulate cholesterol/triglyceride levels. Confused about what to take? See if the brand you're taking/considering has been rated by IFOS, or International Fish Oil Standards. They have a star ranking of 1-5 and is a completely non-biased organization. Also, if you're worried about the mercury content, try to get something molecularily distilled, like LE's Super Omega 3.

CoQ10 - CoQ10 (also known as CoEnzyme Q 10) is an extremely powerful and potent antioxidant that especially helps the cardiovasular system. Its function is to assist the cells' mitochondria to produce cellular energy (ATP) so the cells can repair themselves from damage. CoQ10 has a tendency to perform best within the heart, mainly because the heart is such a dense muscle. One thing to beware, CoQ10 comes in two forms, (the older) Ubiquinone and (the newer) Ubiquinol. Ubiquinone CoQ10 is a very low absorbing form is CoQ10, and the formula that the majority of companies carry, especially those who sell in stores like WalMart, Walgreens, GNC, etc. The Ubiquinol form is broken down from the Ubiquinone form, and is therefore the much more absorbable, bio-available form, up to 66% higher than the Ubiquinone form. Most companies do not carry this form as it is generally more expensive to purchase and produce, but it's still out there. An example, of course, is LE's Super Ubiquinol CoQ10.

Resveratrol/Antioxidants - When it comes to maintaining your health, antioxidants are a very important part of anyone's diet or supplementary regimen. They help protect your cells and tissues, they help your body repair itself, and they also fight free radicals, therefore slowing the aging process dramatically. Antioxidants are in all sorts of fruits and vegetables, especially dark-coloured berries like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc. The problem with getting antioxidants in this way is that you would need to eat a LOT of these fruits and vegetables in order to get your daily recommended value of each, which would be a lot of calories and sugar. Most vitamin companies now have different forms of antioxidants, the most popular one being Resveratrol, which is found in the skins of Red Grapes, also notorious for being in Red Wine. I have personally tried all sorts of antioxidants throughout the past six months, but I've been continuously using Optimized Resveratrol, which is 250 mg of Resveratrol and 60 mg of Quercetin, which is an excellent antioxidant that helps recycle any unused Resveratrol in your body. Resveratrol is extremely good for the cardiovascular system too, so paired with CoQ10 and Fish Oil, you'll get a myriad of great cardiovascular benefits.

Calcium/Vitamin D - Calcium isn't just for women, although women are more prone to Osteopenia/Osteoporosis. But people are not getting enough calcium in their diets, especially with the increased rate of fast food that people have eaten since the 70s. On average, people should get around 1200 mg of Calcium a day, preferably broken up into smaller doses throughout the day. Vitamin D, as well, has been linked to better bone density and improved immunity, and should be supplemented with 1000 IUs a day. LEF's Bone Restore has both of these necessary vitamins, along with Magnesium, Zinc, Boron, Manganese, and Silicon, all good for optimal bone strength and density.

So there's my list of Top Five Supplements. These will give you a good balance and a great foundation to start with.


Sneaky and Healthy Recipe #1 - Whole Wheat Pasta w/ Chunky Garden Veggie Sauce

Compared to my friends, I was lucky growing up when it came to food. My grandparents and my mom all grew gardens with fresh fruits and vegetables...peppers, beans, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, and even odd things like kohlrabi, asparagus, dill. Now that I'm an adult, I REALLY appreciate that, because now I don't have to struggle with myself over whether I want to eat a plate of vegetables vs. a bag of chips and dip (although sometimes the chips [or fries, in my case] win).

Every week I prepare a huge meal and portion it out into smaller portions so I can bring it to work, grab it out of the fridge for dinner, freeze it, whatever I choose. And for me, one of the most important things is to add as many vegetables, fruits, whole grains to whatever meal that I can. I not only do this for myself but I do it because my roommate, whom I love immensely, is borderline terrified of vegetables, although I will say (even though he'll never read this) I'm VERY proud of him as he's been eating a LOT of fruits and veggies lately.

Last night I made a cheap staple, pasta and sauce, and the batch will last about 12-14 meals. But I didn't just get a can of sauce and dump it on some spaghetti that I found in the back of my cupboard. I planned my meal, spent very little money, yet made a very good meal with lots of vitamins, whole grains, antioxidants, and fiber. Here are the costs of the ingredients, the recipe, and the nutritional information stats:

3 15 oz. cans Hunt's Pasta Sauce ($.78x3=$2.34)
2 14.5 oz. boxes 100% Heartland Whole Wheat Pasta ($1.25x2=$2.50)
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed ($.89)
1 14.5 oz can DelMonte diced tomatoes ($.89)
2 large (or 3 small) zucchini, chopped ($.67)
1 large (or 2 small) yellow summer squash, chopped. ($.50)
2 medium onions, diced ($.50)
2 green peppers, chopped ($1.00)
2 red peppers, chopped ($1.50)
16 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms ($2.00)
Oregano, Parsley, Basil, Salt, Pepper, Chili Flakes, Diced Garlic to taste (minimal cost)

In a large pot, combine onions, garlic, and cook on medium until onions begin to sweat. Add mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, squash, spinach, and canned tomatoes, raise heat to medium high, stir until mixed well. When mushrooms look like they’ve begun to sweat, add sauce and spices. Turn heat up to high, cover, and bring to a boil. Let the pot boil for ten minutes, then bring it down to simmer, and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. While sauce is simmering, prepare pasta as box specifies.

I use one cup of pasta and one cup of sauce per meal, which equates approximately 12 servings per batch. Each serving is 297 calories, and consists of only 3 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, and 63 carbohydrates, which 12 grams are fiber. Fiber! The average person eats 12 grams of fiber a day, but NEEDS 25-35. And the cost? All twelve batches cost $12.79, or $1.07 a meal. Those diet dinners you get in the frozen section of your grocery store cost around $2.50 a pop, are half the size, and comparatively, well, you may be getting only 270 calories, but you’re also only getting 4 grams of fiber, 9 grams of fiber, and a whole lot of empty calories (compared to Lean Cuisine’s Penne Pasta With Tomato Basil Sauce).

Now, if you’re sitting here thinking, “Okay, sounds good, but where’s the beef?” then feel free to add it. But I implore you to try substituting the ground beef with ground turkey. Per 4 oz, lean ground beef has 300 calories and 23 grams of fat, whereas lean ground turkey has 160 calories, and only 8 grams of fat. So give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised. As for me, I now prefer the turkey over the beef, I think the consistency is much heavier and leads to a much heartier meal. But overall, one of the big keys to weight loss and living healthy are making smart decisions, but making decisions you can stick with.

OK, so it's been more than a day...

Sorry guys, I got caught up in life and such. Good news...it's SUMMERTIME!!! OK, maybe not REALLY...but the pools and hottubs opened in my condo complex and the water was BEAUTIFUL...about 80 degree water, maybe more. So I sat in the hottub yesterday and it was FABULOUS.

So after doing some thinkwriting, I've come up with a lot of insight into my weight problem. I've decided that I've given food the distinct label of Happy Maker, and that is NOT a healthy platform to have food on.

So I need to come up with things that MAKE me happy that DON'T involve food. This is hard for me because cooking is one of my favourite hobbies. But this is what I've come up with...

Pottery - there is a pottery place somewhere in Vegas that allows you to throw on a wheel, fire, and paint your own pottery. This is something I REALLY loved doing back in HS, so I'm going to explore this as an option now, too.

Writing - I really love to write, especially off-the-wall funny stories and farce. It helps keep my mind strong, too, so I don't get so bored so easily. Cuz when I'm bored...I eat.

Playing with my dog - pretty self-explanatory, really. I love my dog more than anything else in the world...which is funny because I never thought of myself as an animal person. But now I have a Baxter, and he's my world.

Hanging out with friends - I have the BEST time hanging out with the people in my life I call "friend". That's why summer is so important to me, we get together and hang out in the pool and talk and play games and plan our futures. The main problem with Friend Time is it usually means Food Time, AND can be pretty expensive. But this year we are doing it Potluck Style - which means it's cheaper for the host (me) and we can also do it healthily.

Explore a new part of the city - I live in Vegas, so there's always something to explore out here, mountains around us, hotels on the strip, the old strip (which is also considerably cheaper if I want to blow a little money), other parts of the city, etc. But even when I lived in tiny little Rochester, NY, there was still a lot to explore, and I wish I'd taken advantage of it. Feel stuck in your area? Check out nearby towns, museums, parks, whatever. Just get off the couch/out from in front of the computer/out of bed and do something!

I'm sure there are more things I can list, but I thought I'd start out small. The main point is that I need to find something BESIDES food to be my Happy Maker - and after I attain this, maybe I will start to achieve my goals...AND maybe one of my newfound hobbies will lead me somewhere new!


Let's get this thing rollin'...

I hope that at some point this blog becomes something that is read by a lot of people, both people I know and don't know, and becomes a melting pot for people's who want to share, ask, or just make a comment of their own. If not, that's fine, as I also hope this is a way for me to keep track of my own progress and to inspire me to continue on my quest to physical, emotional and financial health.

I've decided to write this blog as if I were already talking to an audience of 500 people, giving some (hopefully) good-tasting, healthy and cheap recipes, provide some easy money-saving tips, inspire some people out there who need the inspiration, and just give some information on things that have helped me along with way immensely. Have anything you want me to add/discuss? Throw me a comment, and I'll see what I can do. Since I live in Las Vegas, I'll be posting some pieces of local interest as well.

To give you my background, I am a 27 year old woman living in Las Vegas, although I grew up in Western NY. I have two siblings, a barely younger step-brother in NY and a sister who's my junior of six years in KY, both of whom I'm very proud of. I live with my best friend of eight years, and together we have a dog (Baxter, whom you'll hear a LOT about), a Beta fish named Toby, and two Dwarf Hamsters named Jasper and Julian. I work for a non-profit Vitamin/Research company called Life Extension, which I enjoy a lot, even though I'm still Low Girl on the Totem Pole. But my company has a LOT of great information about health and wellness in general, not to mention the best supplements you'd be able to get on the market. Not that I'm using my blog to promote the company, but I may mention our products from time to time. Hey, it's what I know! I also have a part time job as an assistant for an arbitrator/Realtor who also happens to be my cousin.

My dream would be to own my own pastry bakery or healthy eating restaurant, a place that people could confidentally get healthy, good-tasting food without worrying that they're eating stuff that is will taste like grass or dirt OR will be two days of their calorie allotment in one meal. I'm still sketching out my menu.

I will try to update this once a day, as long as time allows. With both of my jobs, and then Baxter and our constant stream of visitors, I may not hit it up. But I'll try, and if you subscribe, well, I can 99% guarantee that you'll be entertained and educated. Unless you have no personality or sense of humour, and in that case, well, hopefully you'll at least be educated. =)

So here goes...