Break Up with Sugar

Last weekend I went to Pop Physique’s nutrition talk with Miriam Jacobson, a registered dietician. The talk was mainly about sugar and why we eat so much of it–here’s what I learned:

Our sugar addiction is mostly related to our emotional health–it’s a behavioral response.

What is sugar?
Bread. Quinoa. Squash. Sweet potatoes. Legumes. Edamame. Black beans–all in addition to those small packets of sugar found at every coffeeshop, fruit, and of course–candy and donuts.

Eating legumes is better than eating a donut because it takes the body longer to break down and doesn’t cause as much of a spike in blood sugar (which can lead to weight gain). After eating a donut you have a blood sugar spike and then a dip. This is when we crave more sugar–which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Our bodies need sugar but when there’s this dip in blood sugar, we go for the crappy/unhealthy sugar options.

Carbohydrates
A diet that’s high in refined carbohydrates causes your body to crave more sugar. When you choose to eat more simple carbs, it actually takes nutrients to process the carbs. When you eat a piece of white bread, your body needs to use chromium to metabolize that white bread. And when you have a chromium deficiency you crave more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle.

Protein
Protein causes us to be satiated. Not having enough protein with every meal leads to sugar cravings. Eating it in the morning is essential because it helps prevent that 3pm sugar crash (have 12-15 grams for breakfast e.g. 2 eggs or a protein shake). It helps stabilize that blood sugar response. Protein in combination with carbs such as legumes and sweet potatoes makes us feel more energized and mentally acute.

Fake Sugars
Sugar alcohols make our bodies crave more sugar because they create a false response. Our bodies/brain expect a sugar high that it doesn’t get–so it secretes hormones that causes us to crave more sugar. These fake sugars are often 600x sweeter than actual sugar so they desensitizes our taste buds and train our bodies to crave more sweet things.

Stevia
When it comes to stevia, look at how you’re using it. If you feel like you need it, then cut back.

Candida
Candida is a yeast and a fungus that grows inside all of us (it decomposes our bodies when we die). It’s opportunistic–when we have a bad diet, when we’re stressed out or on antibiotics–it tends to over grow. Since it feeds off of sugar, it causes us to crave more. It also feeds off of alcohol and stress. An overgrowth can create a lot of havoc in our bodies–bloating, digestive pain, reflux, brain fog, joint pain, yeast infections, etc.

It’s a conditioned response.
We train our bodies to crave it. For example, “Every day after lunch, I’m going to have some chocolate.” The anticipation of enjoying the sugar is more rewarding and satisfying than the fleeting moment of the dopamine hit. It hits and then goes away.

Sugar is rewarding and has a big effect on our brain health–it is classified as a drug. In studies with mice, they will choose sugar over cocaine–that’s how addictive it is. Sugar secretes endorphins and dopamine (FYI–working out also secretes endorphins) which makes us feel really good. When we’re sad it’s an easy pick me up.

The hit needs to become bigger over time–it’s like a drug. The receptors in our brain start to desensitize so you need to eat more sugar to get the same pleasurable response that you had, for example, the day before.

How are you using it?
You have control over your diet. “Is this what I want to be eating right now? Or is my body addicted to it?” Build awareness. Look at your food with the question: “Is this nutrients or anti-nutrients?” “Am I really hungry or just bored at my job? Stressed?” Is it habit or is something more emotional going on? You have to step back and ask yourself these questions and then choose a better option like meditation, taking a walk, listening to music, etc. Separate from the world a little and process that stress.

What do we do?

Diet
A diet that’s high in starch causes our body to crave more sugar because of the blood sugar response. Think about a plate as your hands put together and one palm should be a piece of protein. For example, pasture raised eggs. It’s important to look at where your food comes from. If your food was fed corn and grains, it’ll lead to inflammation (this inflammation will manifest as a digestive imbalance, joint pain, foggy brain or it might even be silent). Wild salmon is another great addition to reduce cravings. Chia seeds are another option that are high in Omega-3’s and protein. Other options: pasture raised chickens, grass-fed beef.

Anti-inflammatory fats are important. One serving would be a tablespoon of oil, 1/4 of an avocado, some raw almonds, raw cashews,  pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia or flax. Fried foods and roasted nuts are off-limits. When they heat nuts the fats get damaged and that leads to inflammation in the body.
Vegetables is where people usually fall short. A whole hand (on your metaphorical hand plate) should be non-starchy vegetables (2 cups). Vegetables have fiber which help that blood sugar response. Cruciferous vegetables are the best option–broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, etc. They help boost the liver’s detoxification efforts which helps the liver process hormones (estrogen, testosterone, insulin). Green juices are a good addition to your diet but don’t rely on them for your vegetable intake.

The best carbohydrates are the complex ones: sweet potatoes, quinoa, lentils, hummus–not toast.
It’s important to not overdo it with fruit. You shouldn’t exceed 2-3 servings per day. Bananas, mangoes, dates and dried fruit have way more sugar than apples, peaches and berries. Acai bowls are a sugar bomb.

Alcohol
If you’re going to drink, stay away from grain based alcohols (like whiskey). So tequila and red wine would be good options.

Digestive System
90% of serotonin is created in the gut. It’s important to eliminate yeast and add in healthy bacteria like probiotics. It helps the gut heal and elevates our mood. An imbalance of bacteria can lead to depression.

Rewire your brain
We aren’t born with habits, we make habits. We can rewire our brains. Connect to you “why?” If you have weight goals, ask yourself why–is it to feel energized? About keeping a promise to yourself? Understand your purpose and what drives you. When things get hard, it’s easy to cheat. It’s important to connect to your higher purpose–it makes the decision much easier. Create an intention when you decide what to eat and how you’re going to eat. Set a place setting at a table–don’t eat while watching TV (this leads to overeating).

Creating new networks in our brain takes work. We often make associations in our brain–e.g. “every time I sit down to watch a TV show, I eat popcorn.” You start to associate watching a TV show with eating popcorn. Ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” It could be because of habit, stress, or even just a way of unwinding. “What’s a different and healthier decision?” It could be a protein shake or tea with almond milk. Changing the habit makes it an easier switch than just going cold turkey. The more you repeat these new habits, the easier it gets. You begin to adopt them into your every day life. It only takes 14 days without sugar to retrain our taste buds.

Dealing with Depression

Social media platforms present the concept of euphoric lives filled with champagne brunches, outfit photos and the latest turmeric matcha recipes. But in my experience, behind the confines of a screen, bloggers have been among the unhappiest people I’ve encountered. I have struggled with depression my whole life. And by “depression,” I don’t mean sadness. I mean that hollowed out, empty and numb feeling that gnaws at the core of your being. This online world used to be a safe haven for me–a place to express myself freely. But for some reason it’s now a competition of who is having the most fun and lavish digital mirage of a life.

This illness took over when I came to college and has led me in and out of multiple psychiatrist and psychologists’ offices. I will go into more detail regarding my struggles in the future but to sum it up–I have tried an arsenal of medication and therapy techniques (most to little or no avail) to realize that the only person that can help me is myself.

A psychologist, Dr. Martin Seligman, conducted a study involving a dog, a bell and a shock. After the dog realized the ringing of the bell meant that a shock was going to be delivered, the dog became afraid of the ringing bell. Next, Seligman placed the dog in a large crate that only delivered shocks on one side. The dog had the ability to jump to the other side but did not do so. Seligman called this “learned helplessness.” When we attribute failures or setbacks to an internal cause (“I’m not good enough” “I’m dumb” “I always make mistakes”), we don’t grow as individuals—we don’t move on. We remain stuck on the shock delivering side of the crate.

In the first two years of my twenties I have learned that everyone is just trying to survive. We can’t expect too much from others (e.g. empathy, sympathy) because everyone is dealing with something. “Oh, you and your boyfriend broke up? Well I just lost my job.” It’s not that it’s some sort of competition of who has the worst problems but sometimes it feels that way. I’m not saying that your friends don’t care, it’s just that we’re all treading water in an effort to stay afloat. So when you find yourself back in a depressive state, as I have time and time again, you cannot give into learned helplessness. No one is going to come to your bedroom, drag you out of bed, push you into the shower, brush your hair and clothe you (except maybe your mom).

You have to act opposite to your emotions. The pull of depression is alluring for many reasons. It can be comfortable. When you stay depressed, you don’t have to struggle to work your way out of it just to deal with the anxious thought that your happiness is temporary and can be snatched at any moment. Reject this idea. A depressed mind plays tricks.

A boy won’t make you feel better, a party won’t do the trick but a sense of mastery or completion of some task–any task—will. Make a small change every day: sign up for a pottery class, read one chapter of a book, clean one corner of your bedroom, eat one healthy meal, walk one mile on a treadmill. Celebrate these accomplishments, don’t minimize them. Over time, you’ll start to feel like yourself again.

BBS vs. ModelFIT

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(ModelFIT NYC)

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(ModelFIT LA)

Health and wellness isn’t something I talk about on the blog often but since succumbing to Instagam Stories, I’ve discovered that I have a passion for it. I’ve probably tried every healthy restaurant and trendy work out class in LA and I’m here to share my thoughts.

1. Body by Simone (BBS) ($28 – West Hollywood)

BBS is tough. I’ve tried Trampoline Cardio and the Full Body work out classes. I mistakenly chose Trampoline Cardio my first time at the studio which is apparently their toughest workout class. I was dripping in sweat by the end of it (see above photo). For this class, it helps if you’re not super tall. The moves require staying low and keeping your core tight while keeping up with dance steps…while on a trampoline. It’s low impact but the trampoline doesn’t provide as much support as I thought it would. But this class was easier on my joints/back than jogging on a treadmill. There are short sprinting bursts during this class that I wouldn’t be able to do on a treadmill so I’m sure that torched a ton of calories. It also requires a lot of coordination and there’s a bunch of quick movements. If you’re not a dancer and have two left feet like me, you’ll feel silly and won’t be able to keep up at first. In my experience, no one laughs at you. So that helps. The morning after this class, I woke up looking super toned. I’m not sure if that was due to loss of water weight (via sweating a TON…sorry, TMI) or if it was the fact that this class burns around 500 calories.

The Full Body class was a little easier since all of the dance steps are carried out on solid ground. There’s more sculpting in this class (ab work, ankle weights, etc) than cardio. But if you go on Monday nights you just might run into Lori Loughlin looking gorgeous and not breaking a sweat at all.

2. ModelFIT ($32 – LA) ($40 – NYC)

ModelFIT is a trendy place. The LA studio has a cactus theme (very ~chella) while the NYC studio has huge windows overlooking Bowery.

I’ve taken 3 classes at ModelFIT: Sculpt, Dance Cardio and Cardio Sculpt. I took the Dance Cardio in LA and to my dismay, it was terrible. The instructor told us to “strut” and “pose” during this 8 am session. I was expecting to be out of breath but at the end of it, I hadn’t even broken a sweat.

I took the other two classes at the NYC location. I took the Sculpt class twice with the same instructor–Lilli Van Hall. She was great. She derives her moves from Jane Fonda work out videos and incorporates Katonah Yoga moves. She taught me moves I’ve never seen before and really isolated the muscles — small movements using your own body weight=lean model-esque muscle.

Lastly, I did the Cardio Sculpt class which ended up being more like a bootcamp. It was set up like a circuit training gym class. The instructor, whilst wearing fuzzy at-home socks, told us to act like adults and do the moves properly (???) after the ostensibly disappointing first round. The moves involved dead lifts, froggers and running in place — not really what I would’ve expected.

Verdict: These two studios aren’t my favorite but BBS wins over ModelFIT. When searching for studios that’ll help you achieve a sculpted body — check out Pop Physique or Pilates+DTLA (which uses the megareformer just like SLT in NYC) instead. If you’re trying to push your body to the limit to see results quickly, definitely give Body by Simone’s Trampoline Cardio a shot.

SS17 TRENDS Pt. 2

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PINSTRIPES. BOW DETAIL SHOES. RAINBOW JEWELRY/STRIPES. RED EVERYTHING. PLEATED SETS. EARLY 2000s PUNK BELTS.

  1. Forever 21 Palazzo Pants 
  2. Reformation Marlon Pant
  3. ASOS Bow Mule Shoe
  4. Zara Striped Palazzo Trousers 
  5. 3×1 Tabby Crop Flare
  6. Miaou Tommy Jean
  7. Free People Rainbow Stone Choker
  8. Free People Rainbow Band Ring
  9. By Far Lada Boot
  10. Lisa Says Gah Set
  11. ASOS Bardot Crotchet Top
  12. Free People Studded Heart Belt
  13. Zara Sash-Style Belt

New York, Leandra Medine & Making Changes

Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed talking about my distaste for Los Angeles. But as graduation approaches, I’ve started seeing this city in a different light. I appreciate the laid back lifestyle with the equal amounts of inclusivity and exclusivity. LA is a place of acceptance and rebirth. As easy as it would be to continue on in this city, I want to pursue a legitimate career in fashion. So, I’m planning on moving to New York City this summer. The “fashion” in Los Angeles is beach and trend based: Revolve Clothing, Planet Blue, Free People…aka not real fashion.

Over spring break, I visited New York in the midst of Storm Stella. I was using this trip as a test to see if I could tolerate the city during winter (I’ve never lived anywhere cold). I asked the universe for a sign (cheesy AF, I am aware) if I should pull the trigger and move. On my last day in the city, I stepped into Creatures of Comfort in SoHo. I was donning my newly purchased Man Repeller hat and roaming around the store to kill some time before my flight. One of the girls that worked at the store asked me if I worked at Man Repeller. I chuckled and responded, “I wish.” She then said that Leandra Medine, the founder, just walked out of the store. I was like “holy shit” and ran out to track her down (For what exactly? I do not know. It was an knee-jerk reaction). I randomly chose to turn to the left and literally ran down the street until I spotted her navy coat, brown hair and cropped leggings. I stopped her and told her how much she’s inspired me in terms of giving up daily make up use and growing into my weird self. She was extremely kind and we took a selfie which I won’t post because I look like an eager puppy. That encounter made my day/trip/week/month and I couldn’t have even imagined such a clear sign that I should make the move across the country.

My friends and family have had mixed reactions to my decision to move though I haven’t even locked down a job yet. I’ve heard “friends” say stuff behind my back along the lines of “Sonum at a 9 to 5 job? HA” and “I don’t think you could handle New York.” (I’m pretty sure fashion jobs are like 7 am to 10 pm, not 9 to 5…but whatever LOL). But I’ve also had people tell me that they think I should do it in order to avoid regret and “what ifs.” I honestly have no ~fricken~ idea about what I want to accomplish in the fashion industry right outside of college. I do know that I want my own business one day but I’m not about to half-ass anything. I need to learn everything possible about the industry and businesses in general before I try to pull off something like that. My industry knowledge is limited to what I’ve experienced at two NYFWs and from The Devil Wears Prada. I’d honestly be happy working as an assistant to an assistant at a fashion house, magazine or publication as a first job after graduation. It will be difficult and I know I will be ridiculed about everything from my appearance to my abilities and creativity but honestly, what great accomplishment has been easy? To the people that have questioned my decision to enter this field I’ve asked, so what else should I do? They have no answer for me.

People like Leandra Medine and Iris Apfel are the reason I love fashion. In Iris’ documentary she said something along the lines of, “who am I to tell someone what to wear?” And: “There’s no road map to style, it’s all about self expression and, above all, attitude.” This type of mentality is what I see in manrepeller.com. This is the type of fashion I love. I’m so sick of the elitists that don’t experiment with style and look down upon everyone that does (e.g. the type that only wear structured pieces, neutral tones, leather jackets, and only shop at stores like COS and Acne). That’s not the type of environment I could thrive in which sucks because that describes the majority of the high fashion industry. They make a living off of judgment and criticism and are probably among the most unhappy people. I also think that the more famous you are on social media, the less creative you tend to be (LOL at when bloggers ask their followers to help them decide what to buy/wear). The creatives don’t resonate with the masses until someone takes their idea and waters it down for mass appeal. But anyway, I digress.

It’s incredibly important to make the most of your 20s. I recently read The Defining Decade by Meg Jay and it changed my mindset. People keep saying that the 30s are the new 20s when in reality we shouldn’t be acting like we have a ton of time. People pay for the mistakes they made or opportunities they didn’t take in their 20s when they’re in their 30s. We get comfortable in less than ideal situations. One of my friends recently went through a break up which made her realize she was settling for so many things in life. She took a 180 and is now pursuing medical school. These are the types of decisions we are terrified to make. We need to break up with less than ideal significant others (people you couldn’t see yourself marrying) and break ties with jobs that don’t provide any room for growth or valuable experience. We need to try new things even if that means dealing with the possibility of failure. This is something I struggle with—I mean, who likes failure?—but we can’t remain stagnant. I’ve heard that people regret things that they didn’t do, opportunities that they didn’t take, way more than mistakes they made. I only get one opportunity at being 20-something and relatively responsibility-free and I’m going to make the most of it. If New York City kicks my ass and sends me crying back to the more comfortable LA lifestyle—so be it. At least I tried.