All Posts By

Matt

Beware: Tips on reading labels and ingredients

What is healthy for my body? Who should I trust with my health? Do I know what digests cleanly through my system? Do I have any allergies or sensitivities that I am unaware of? How can I decipher between naturally-nourishing and no-nutrient foods? These are important inquiries to address when looking to improve your health. Yet how should we go about finding the answers? Being proactive kids, we knew we had to get down to the nitty gritty on these nutrition questions. This set us on a path to creating our own nutrient dense workshops, wee (and free) eGuide, and even specialty foods to sell.

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We’ve been creating nutrient dense Happy Dough (clean, easily digestible energy bites to fuel your sport, travel & proactive lifestyle) concoctions. After sharing the dough with family, friends and trusted community influencers and receiving positive feedback, we feel it is time to introduce these tasty and hearty treats to YOU! 

We want top quality food products that the human body recognizes, absorbs, and digests. Simply put – we create food that is organic, non-GMO, plant-based, unrefined, dairy/gluten/soy free, and free of common allergens (minus tree nuts and peanuts because we can’t deny the health benefits and taste of them!).

Organic-vs-Natural03

Want to avoid being sick, feeling fatigued, achy in your joints or craving sugar and other stimulants like coffee to get energy? It’s a safe bet to stay away from chemicals, additives, processed “void of nutrients” junk (sugar being the main culprit), most forms of dairy, and genetically modified organisms (e.g. soy, corn, etc.) that are in a majority of grocery stores and restaurants. Stay natural, whole, fresh, clean, local, raw (if possible) and real. This is the short of it.

A good place to start is asking yourself: How many whole foods do I eat compared to denatured (i.e. processed) foods throughout the day? For example, a whole food would be an entire apple. A denatured version of that would be the apple juice you buy at the store. Whatever the percentage may be, can you add one whole food item into your day? We like to think of the positives. Don’t freak about cutting foods out. Simply add a whole food item (e.g. vegetable, pseudograin, legume, fruit), which will increase your daily nutrients. The more nutrients you consume (and absorb), the less you’ll crave the “other stuff”.

Below is a list of some common ingredients we have found in various energy, protein, “healthy” balls or snacks during our research along with general information on what we term (un)healthy. While these balls & snacks aren’t close in mass production to their counterpart of the protein / energy bar industry, there’s a common theme of unnatural, less nutrient and highly (chemically) processed crap put in products. It is rather disturbing (understatement). When someone tells you an energy bar is healthy and it’s great for athletes – shouldn’t it, in fact, be healthy and free of chemicals? Doh!

This is our condensed and to-the-point list of not-so-awesome items you might find in today’s energy bars, powders, and supplements:

  • Natural flavors – just as Carl’s Jr. and Burger King advertise their burgers as “All-Natural”, when you see “Natural flavors” on the ingredients list, be suspicious. The US, unfortunately, allows the labeling of Natural flavors, which can still be artificial and modified. (refer to USDA chart above)
  • Whey Protein isolate & concentrate – a big hit within the protein market and sports community, Whey is an animal by-product. It goes through a chemically, heated process to breakdown the protein, thus losing a majority of nutrients along the way. Is this a natural 8-15 grams of protein per serving? Does your body recognize and digest this easily? Don’t think so.
  • Soy Protein isolate & concentrate – similar to Whey. 90% of soy is GMO, the most of any food in the US. Yikes.
  • Any Corn Syrup, Canola Oil, and many other oils – highly processed and GMO. Organic is better, but check with a trusted google search / site. Corn products are in abundance with all types of foods, preservatives, oils, etc. Corn is highly modified and denatured these days. 
  • (Nonfat) Milk powder – processed with chemicals and heat. Long shelf life and cheap to process. Doesn’t seem natural at all…maybe hold off until the zombie apocalypse.

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  • Ingredients label – as you read each product’s label, make sure you recognize each ingredient. Does it sound real? For example, Organic Almonds vs Fructooligosaccharides. Hmm, which one would you choose? Why risk putting something in your body you can’t pronounce or know its origin? 
  • Go for the least amount of ingredients. This is typically a great rule of thumb. But again, if you recognize the ingredients, you’re on the right track.
  • GMO or genetically modified organism – there is still a big debate on the processing of GMO foods. We have not seen any unbiased studies out there to sway for or against the GMO industry. Safe bet – stay away, simply because we don’t have the facts to prove (or disprove). One major fact, GMO foods are NOT natural. 

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  • Most animals in the US are raised in insanely tight living quarters, injected with hormones, anti-biotics and eat GMO food. Look for grass-fed, humanely-raised, organic meat when purchasing. Meat (and poultry for that matter) ain’t the same as it was years ago…
  • Sensitivities…you don’t know, until you know. Two great options to check if you’re sensitive to certain foods or allergens. One option is to get a (blood) test or Nutritional Muscle Activation Technique done with a doctor qualified and experienced in either area. Secondly (something we can speak from experience) is to take a specific food completely out of your daily diet (e.g. dairy, gluten, meat, etc) for at least 2 weeks. Re-introduce this particular food back into your diet and see if you have any stomach, head or body reactions. Be on the lookout for bloating, cramping, headaches, foggy-head sensations, even skin rashes. You might be amazed at how you react to a food that you’ve been eating your entire life!
  • Don’t believe everything you read or hear. Look into it yourself, experience it for yourself…then see what’s best for you.

Do you think chemicals, genetically modified, isolated, pesticides, processed, refined, denatured “things” are what your body craves? Hmmmm. KEEP IT REAL, my friends. As with our Happy Dough ingredients, look for these labels:

usda-organic-label-in-black-537x442Certified-Gluten_Free-Logo300 non-gmo-product-certified
icon-soy-free icon-non-gmo icon-free-dairy

Matt’s experience with a Weight Loss program

Ok, I admit, I’ve never been on a weight loss program. But a recent trip to Lindora with my dad and wife, Jaime, opened my eyes to these types of programs (e.g. Jenny Craig, Slim Fast…are they still around?). My dad signed up for Lindora’s 10-week program earlier this year, with an emphasis on a structured meal plan, shed 15-20 lbs and lower his cholesterol. Side note: my dad was told he was obese at 6’6″, 235 lbs when he first walked into their clinic. This perked the ears of Jaime and I. And kept me awake last night for easily over an hour…I took this personally.

I hopped online to use Lindora’s BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator, which they use to gauge if you are of a “healthy weight”. I was on the edge of being labeled overweight at 6’7″, 200 lbs. Hmm, that’s odd. Achilles Imperial - Personal Travel Photography

Here’s a picture of me, you can be the judge of whether I am nearing overweight or not. This got me thinking, how do these weight loss programs work? What is their business plan and strategy? And most importantly, what type of accurate education do they provide?

Matt's BMI result

Matt’s BMI result

Lindora’s program is great for placing people on regimented plans. There is a big market to pull from and bring in as clients, as two-thirds (67%) of the US population are overweight or obese. Sounds like a good business strategy.

 

BMI rating

BMI rating

What’s it actually made of?

I was extra curious about Lindora’s products they sold to their clients (which are quite expensive I might add), particularly the ingredients within each packaged product. Oh boy, quite the shocker! I was horrified that a National weight loss brand would be supplying their clients with such processed, genetically modified, chemically-enhanced crap to get them “healthier”. A box of 7 protein bars for $15 with little nutritional value?? Hmmm, I was beginning to see where some of the convenient profits were being made. Here’s my two cents on the nutritional contents found in most Lindora products (based on what I saw in their shop and on their website):

Lindora's Peanut Butter bar

Lindora’s Peanut Butter bar

Peanut Butter bar ingredients

Peanut Butter bar ingredients

  • Artificial flavoring in ALL products I saw.
  • Soy Protein Isolate – dry powder food ingredient that has been separated or isolated from the other components of the soybean, making it 90 to 95 percent protein and nearly carbohydrate and fat-free. (fyi, up to 95% of soy produced in the US is genetically modified).
  • Whey Protein Isolate – dietary supplement and food ingredient created by separating components from milk. Whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process. Isolates go through more processing than concentrates, thus stripping most, if not all, original nutrients.
  • Casein – the main protein present in milk and (in coagulated form) in cheese. It is used in processed foods and in adhesives, paints, and other industrial products.
  • (High Fructose) Corn Syrup – syrup made from cornstarch, consisting of dextrose, maltose, and dextrins. A sweet, thick liquid made from corn.
  • Vegetable Oil – processed seed oils like soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil. High in Trans Fat, it increases inflammation and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Polydextrose (fiber additive) – a polymer of dextrose containing small amounts of bound sorbitol and citric acid that is used to mimic the texture and bulk of fat or sugar in low-calorie foods.
  • Maltodextrin – any of various carbohydrates derived from the partial hydrolysis of starch (e.g. corn or potatoes) and used in prepared foods especially as a filler and to enhance texture and flavor. A white powder often used in processed foods since it’s fairly inexpensive, as well as in pharmaceuticals as a binding agent. You’ll find it in canned fruits, snacks, cereal, desserts, instant pudding, sauces, and salad dressings.
  • The list goes on: Each box of pancake mix, orange icicle bars, or nacho cheese pasta had a list of ingredients as long as the chemical combinations within. When looking at nutritional labels – the less the better – especially if you don’t understand what the heck they are. Look at the example below.
Berry Creme Smoothie ingredients

Berry Creme smoothie ingredients

Nearly all products contain dairy, gluten, soy, additives, preservatives, artificial flavoring, etc. Many of which are common allergens. WTF! Food sensitivities are a big influencer to our health, weight gain, energy level, skin quality, digestion, etc. Shouldn’t a weight loss program educate on this?

Why should you care?

Processed foods (foods that have been chemically processed and made from refined ingredients and artificial substances) generally have very little nutritional value, are high in sugars, high fructose corn syrup and refined carbs, contain a lot of artificial ingredients, high in trans fat / processed vegetable oils and do become addictive. Why is this important for you? Well…eating processed foods does decrease energy levels, increases constipation, stores unnecessary weight in your body (adding fat), will make you more susceptible to sickness, and more bluntly – destroy your insides. Sound appetizing?! Didn’t think so…

Back to my dad – he has lost more weight than anticipated. This is another positive “success story” for Lindora. I asked my dad what education they provided him about the foods he had been consuming on his plans. He said none. A main point that he did mention they promote was…eat more protein and less carbs. How can a client take away knowledge learned from this program and apply it in their daily lives, sans Lindora products? Answer: Simply look at the nutritional value of things high in protein, low in carbs? Probably not a good idea (if you truly want to make a difference from the inside out).

My takeaway from this brief investigation

Lindora is great for programming (and a good starting point), allowing people to follow specific guidelines and hopefully resist cravings. If a person signs up for a program, they’re in it to lose weight. They have the mindset to follow a plan, weigh in every week and see their progress. We don’t know what other changes each person makes during their program, like being more physically active or less stressed. However, it seems most clients are not provided the education on the nutritional facts and ingredients. High Fructose Corn Syrup, anyone?

Fortunately in my dad’s case, Jaime and I have been sharing the differences between GMO vs non-GMO, Organic vs non-Organic, processed vs natural, enhanced, etc. Some of which he knew already, but like many, its a gradual process to invest your time and effort to learn about what is good vs bad, healthy vs unhealthy. It is your body and a pretty important piece to your livelihood. Many adults have grown up strictly on processed diets, some have suffered tremendously from poor diets and many don’t have the proper education behind foods they consume on the daily.

Please let me know if I’m being ignorant or naive to things I’ve mentioned above. I know I didn’t dive into other topics within this whole weight loss / diet program industry, I’m still learning! Some other questions to think about if you’re thinking about or on a meal plan or diet could be:

  1. Am I losing weight in a healthy, effective manner?
  2. How much movement, how active am I throughout the day?
  3. How is my body reacting to the foods I’m consuming?
  4. Why do I care about the ingredients + how do I find out more about them?

*Bonus – I have been using Thrive Market the past month, a newer online marketplace for healthy living. Great products, solid pricing. Check them out!

Thrive-Logo

Local produce Farmer’s Markets & are a great way to find fresh and natural fruits and veggies to spice up your meals.

 

Healthiest team in Professional Sports?

We, too, couldn’t pass up this title from a local online newspaper and share with you. Who’s the team and how are they trying to be the “healthiest” team on the market?

It’s great to come across articles like this more often, as athletes are becoming more self-conscience and educated on how much nutrition plays a role on their everyday lives, not just on the field, in the pool or gym. Athletes train or compete a couple hours a day, and like we preach here at AYT, that’s a whole lot of extra hours during the day to help the body recover and rejuvenate.

The LA Dodgers have made a proactive stance – starting this Spring Training season – to provide their players with – more natural, organic, no preservatives or chemicals – types of foods to eat throughout their training. Cutting out white sugar, processed foods and soft drinks. We’ll second that!

“One of the things we’ve talked about is becoming the healthiest organization in professional sports,” said Gabe Kapler, hired as the Dodgers’ new director of player development this winter, echoing a boast that appears at the top of the menu board daily. “We are devoted to that. We will be relentless in becoming that.”

It won’t end in spring training, where the menu has featured items such as free-range, herb-seared chicken, organic sauteed asparagus, nitrate-free pork links, a do-it-yourself juicer with locally sourced fruits and even organic coffee. Kapler has spearheaded a move to an all-organic, healthier-choice menu at the training complex with plans to carry through during the season at every level of the Dodgers’ organization.

From player, Scott Schebler speaking about Kapler: “He talked about how our choices now can affect us 10 years down the road,” Schebler said. “I thought, ‘Well, I’d like to be playing this game for a long time.’ That really made an impression on me.”

We encourage you to read the rest of the article from the Orange County Register. And hey, why not get your team on board!

LA Dodgers healthy LA dodgers

Photos courtesy of the OC Register

Own It 365: Daily Proactive Tips to Empower Your Lifestyle

Now you didn’t think we forgot about you, did you? How could we, you are the reason why we’re here!

For some time, we’ve been pondering how we can bring you reliable, fun, insightful and relevant information in a consistent format. Should we send you to our YouTube Channel (@theMATmovement)? Should we continue to post blogs? How about a weekly newsletter? How can we help to empower your lifestyle – whatever your lifestyle may be?

If you’ve been to our website since the new year, you will have seen a new addition, the answer to our pondering…

Own It 365: Daily Proactive Tips to Empower Your Lifestyle

Every day, we post bite size, easily digestible pieces for you to consume (yum). We talk about nutrition, movement, training (which is different from movement), mind and body balance, mindset, goals, motivation, and any other area that could improve our well-being in a proactive and preventative manner. 

These tips are designed to wet your appetite, get the ball rolling, put the power in your hands, invoke thoughtful questions, get you curious and be inspired. We are sharing from our own personal and professional experience, as well as highlighting the resources and experts that we respect and are inspired by.

Where can I see and share Own It 365?

For now, we are sharing select “Own It’s” through our social media outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (see links at bottom of page). The full portfolio of Own It 365 is solely on athleteyogitraveler.com at this time. Yep, that means you’ll have to come back for a visit to see our most recent tips. If we make any changes to how we post these, we’ll keep you in the loop. In fact, please comment below if you’d like to receive weekly or monthly notices with our most recent Own It 365’s.

What do YOU want to hear about? 

What are you curious about and would like to hear more of? Leave us a comment at the end of the blog to share you questions and requests!

Does this mean that the AYT Global Goods is no more?

Say what?! Of course not, we could never cease and desist our Global Goods (GG) – this has been our spot for sharing special moments, random finds, and spontaneous learning experiences. We will keep the GG online and post from time to time (and be consistently inconsistent). AYT’s consistent resource is and will be Own It 365. Because it’s our own responsibility to Own It, 365 days of the year. It’s February 9th today, how are you proactively empowering your lifestyle?

*click photo to go directly to our Own It 365 page!

OwnIt365 photo

AYT lifestyle videos…GO!

As our first wave of complimentary videos are being uploaded (thanks YouTube for sharing!), we welcome you to take a look and hop in for some educational goodness led by Jaime. These videos are a compilation of our background and experience within the Sports, Health & Wellness industries. You’ll notice Jaime pays a good amount of time into alignment and activation of key muscles through each pose. “Let’s focus on how to move, not just what to move.”

Most current videos are breakdowns of postures, within a variety of locations. We do have other videos in the works…you may even see some flows / sequences in the near future. Take your phone, tablet or computer with you on the go and turn on the AYT lifestyle channel to get you moving.

*SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel to get the latest and greatest! These videos will complement your training whether you’re new to Yoga and Pilates or on your mat everyday.

Please share with friends and athletes too!

Olympic Day Success…in Rwanda!

Kids Play International and Olympian Jaime Komer Celebrate Olympic Day in Rwanda
Annual day of commemoration encourages people to get active around the world.

Press Release from Kids Play International (June 20, 2014, Park City, Utah) – Kids Play International (KPI) and Olympic Silver Medalist Jaime Komer, former goalkeeper for the US Women’s National Water Polo Team, will celebrate Olympic Day 2014 in Rwanda with more then 100 boys and girls who are part of KPI’s flagship sport-for-development program in the rural village of Gatagara. Komer will lead a day of special activities for the participants, aged 7-18, and join millions of people in more than 160 countries around the world who commemorate Olympic Day annually every June 23rd. Komer, a lead Athlete Ambassador for KPI, will incorporate her passion for yoga into the opening and closing structure of the day, sharing with youth participants the importance of being active.

KPI, a nonprofit organization started in 2008 by Tracy Evans, 3-Time Winter Olympian and former National Champion in Freestyle Skiing, and was founded around the core values of the Olympic movement: Excellence, Friendship and Fair Play. Komer is one of more than a dozen Olympic athletes who support KPI’s efforts and has led a number of volunteer trips to Rwanda over the past few years.

“One thing I hold close to my heart is the impact of a child’s smile and seeing the joy on these kids’ faces when we play sports together on the field” said Komer, reflecting on previous KPI trips she has been a part of. “A light just illuminates inside of them.”

To learn more about KPI, please visit: http://www.kidsplayintl.org/travelwithapurpose/

Here are some photos from Olympic Day!

Olympic Day #5Olympic Day #3Olympic Day #2 Olympic Day #1

About Kids Play International

Founded by 3-time Olympian Tracy Evans, Kids Play International (KPI) is rooted in the core values of the Olympic movement: Excellence, Friendship and Fair Play, and the belief that sport can be a powerful catalyst for social change.  KPI operates the only sport for development program in the rural community of Gatagara, Rwanda, 90 minutes outside of Kigali. The organization’s year round Let’s Play Fair (LPF) program and curriculum brings boys and girls together in a safe environment using sport and interactive discussions to teach positive values.  Volunteers will be immersed in the program, sharing their love of sports and Fair Play with the LPF participants.

AYT Workshop 11.9.13

For those who are around the Orange County area this Saturday (11.9), swing on by to Escape Pilates in Costa Mesa for an AYT Workshop! All levels are welcomed and we even have a deal for this particular workshop if you bring a (man)friend. Here’s what to expect for this 1.5 hrs session…please join us if you want the following:

a) Get a solid core workout
b) Dig a wee bit deeper into your pilates & yoga form (no experience? Don’t worry, that’s what Jaime is there for!)
c) Learn some fun & helpful exercises to take with you through the holidays
d) All of the Above

*Extra love provided by Vega. We’ll have samples and nutritional information to pass out and chat about after you sweat!

The nitty gritty:

Price: $60 each; or for this one time AYT deal…book as a couple or pair (men welcome!) for $90 total
*Already signed up for an AYT Experience with us? Receive a discount price of $30 for this workshop.

When: November 9th, 12:30 – 2pm

Location: Escape Pilates, 234 E. 17th St., #106, Costa Mesa, CA 92627 (for map click here)

Sign up: escapepilates.com or email info@athleteyogitraveler.com

If you would like to schedule your own AYT Workshop, click here

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CamelBak All Clear Bottle

With upcoming travels to countries where water is not advisable to drink or even brush your teeth with, we added another Camelbak product for our adventures. Nicaragua, Rwanda, and then some!

CamelBak All Clear

The All Clear bottle seemed simple enough to use. Put water in, turn UV light on, shake for 60 seconds and make sure you get the UV check mark when complete. Easy peasy…worked every time like a charm.

While the 750ml can be a bit small when craving mass amounts of H2O at one time (which we tend to do on a daily basis), we had to put things in perspective of where we were at and why we were using the All Clear in the first place. You are saving a ton of plastic, on top of saving you money buying water in the first place. This All Clear bottle is a great product, easy to use, and backed by a reputable company that has your “BAK”, lifetime guaranteed!

CamelBak 60 seconds

Click on one of the CamelBak images if you’re interested to learn more about and/or get your hands on the All Clear bottle…AYT recommended!

Rwanda

 

What’s your AYT Experience?

Here at AYT, we have recently opened up a new door that will inspire every Athlete, Yogi and Traveler. We ALL love to travel, yet we often find excuses not to book that trip we’ve been talking about for ages. AYT’s goal is to share Yoga and ways to Sweat around the World; one main facet is to help you visit and experience new places, cultures and connect with amazing people.

A couple ideas to help stir your thoughts and get out of your town (or more bluntly, your “bubble”):

*The AYT Experience: We have more retreats in the works, stay tuned or get in touch with us for the latest. This summer will be packed with our Nicaragua retreat partnering with Papaya Wellness, Rwanda Yoga Volunteer Trip with Kids Play International, and researching various European countries.
*Private AYT Retreat: Looking for an exclusive retreat for your group, company or team?
*Volunteer Trips: Itching to get a Volunteer trip in, using sport to promote gender equity? Kids Play International is an Olympian founded and led non-profit organization that we work closely with and support.

latest and greatest from the Olympics

Check out the Olympics ’12 tab on the homepage for daily updated links and photos from London Town!

Couple Olympians you may recognize!
@ USA House with Carl Lewis – Track & Field
Genai Kerr – Water Polo

Highlights from the sidelines  the first couple days in London have been quite entertaining, fancy?  (7/31/12)

chelsea gang by the bridge

London Calling  my first lululemon Olympic blog – finally in London Town today! (7/27/12)

London Town in 24 hrs!  lululemon athletica blog from their Chelsea store guru (7/26/12) – – PLUS follow me live during the Games on twitter @lululemonlive

One Day and Counting!  myHealthyOC.com pre-game for London ’12 article (7/26/12)

#TeamOC  myHealthyOC video blurp on #TeamOC Olympian support!

Olympism, the foundation of Kids Play International  KPI post about the connection between their company and the Olympics (7/17/12)

the dream after the olympic dream  lululemon athletica blog post (1/16/12)