All posts by jmbranum

Incredible bloodwork results at the end of HealthKwest

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Before sharing the big news, I want to share a bit of background on why this is such a big deal to me (but if you want to skip down to the charts to get the big news, go for it.)

The background: My wife is a medical doctor so as you can imagine she cares a lot about my health. She can’t be my doctor (generally a bad idea for a doctor to treat their own family) but she can’t help but worry about my health, especially since in her medical practice she sees the real impacts of the choices we all make about diet and exercise.

I’ve tried hard to live in a healthy way since getting married (3-1/4 years ago), but it hasn’t been easy. I have type 2 diabetes which causes a lot of related health issues, and hence requires a lot of regular monitoring. So in December of last year, I got some bad news on my blood work. While my blood sugar levels were under control, I was seeing some very bad things when it come to the composition of the cholesterol in my blood. My total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides were all too high and my HDL (“good”) cholesterol was to low. Based on this information, my doctor decided to put me on a statin. I was not keen on doing this, but I understood that the risk factors for heart disease are much higher for diabetics, so I agreed.

And then a few weeks later I got word that I was chosen to be a finalist in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest. I decided to push hard in the contest to lose weight but didn’t expect the diet to make a real dent in these numbers. Despite this, I decided to get another round of bloodwork done so I could compare my “before” and “after” numbers from HealthKwest. (this would be the February numbers in the charts below)

Then I did (and am still doing, until tomorrow) HealthKwest. I restricted my calories (at first 1800-2000, later 1500-1800 per day) and exercised a lot (normally ranging from 1-3 hours per day). I of course ate at Genghis Grill every day, but was strategic in how I built my bowls:

1. Ration meats (4-5 oz. per bowl) or use tofu and beans instead of meat.
2. Ration or eliminate carbs – At first I did half serving of brown rice, later I went with cabbage instead of rice.
3. Load up on the veggies and fruit – I aimed to make my bowls at least double the size of my bowls in the past, which took some careful stacking.
4. Use the regular portion of sauce, but go with some of the lower calorie choices.
5. Use soy sauce and spices freely to boost the flavor.

And then for my other meals of the day I went with the same approach. All of the veggies and fruits I wanted, limited meats and carbs.

As for beverages, I mostly drank water, unsweetened iced tea, hot tea and coffee. And on most days I enjoyed a 4 oz glass of wine.

In other words, this is a very healthy doable diet, full of fresh and tasty foods.

And I’ve seen results. I have lost weight, but I’ve also had increased blood sugar control (enough that I’m now off of my diabetic medicines). And I’ve felt great.

But it gets better.

The Big News:

Today I got my new blood work results from this week. Here are the charts that show my results over the last few months, followed by the American Heart Association’s Guidelines for the particular cholesterol level in question:

:Total Cholesterol Chart

Less than 200 mg/dL Desirable
200-239 mg/dL Borderline-high risk
240 mg/dL and above Very High risk

 

Triglycerides chart

 

 

Less than 150 mg/dL Desirable
150–199 mg/dL Borderline-high risk
200–499 mg/dL High risk
500 mg/dL or higher Very high risk

 

 

LDL Chart

LDL Cholesterol Level Classification*
Less than 100 mg/dL Desirable
100–129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal
130–159 mg/dL Borderline high
160–189 mg/dL High risk
190 mg/dL and above Very high risk

*Risk factors for heart disease include: family history of early heart problems (before age 55 for men, and before age 65 for women), smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, being male and over 45 or female and over 55, and having HDL levels below 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women.
HDL Chart

 

HDL Cholesterol Level Classification
Less than 40 mg/dL for men; less than 50 mg/dL for women Major heart disease risk factor
60 mg/dL or higher Gives some protection against heart disease

 

 

Conclusion: After getting today’s results, my doctor is now pulling me off my statin prescription (and of course I’m also off all of my diabetes medicine). Instead she wants me to continue eating and exercising like I have on HealthKwest. I think this is a prescription I can follow.  Such incredible news!


My Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.healthkwestjames.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmbzine
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jmbranum
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jmbzinedotcom/videos
Blog: http://health.jmbranum.com
Tumblr: http://jamesmbranum.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbranum
BlogSpot: http://jmbranum.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jmbranum.com

And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

Bike report – Sunday, March 29

I had an awesome day on the bike.

After church I had my wife drop me off at the Taco Bell parking lot (near NW 23rd & Broadway in OKC). I then rode from there to Full Circle Book store (at NW Expressway & Penn) to see some old friends at a Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz book signing event. After that I had some late lunch and then took off on the bike on NW 50th west to Villa Ave, then north through Nichols Hills to Greystone Avenue. I stayed on Greystone/Ridgeview for several miles working my way through the cities of Nichols Hills and The Village, until finally I wound through the remaining residential and industrial streets to get to Quail Springs Mall and then on to Genghis Grill (at the NW corner of Penn & Memorial Road). Then after supper I head straight west on Memorial Road (aka the northbound frontage road of the Kilpatrick turnpike) to Macarthur, then north on Macarthur and then finally winding my way through the neighborhoods back home.

The weather was lovely, the grass is greening up and many trees and flowers were in bloom. It was absolutely glorious!

So, here’s the stats for the day of riding: 20.2 miles (about 3 hours of riding)

I know for serious cyclists this number isn’t at all impressive but for me (260+ pounds) it is a lot. According to the Bicycling.com calorie calculator, I burned 1442 calories from biking today! Bam!

On the bike… updates from my time on the road for week of March 22-28

I had hit a bit of a plateau in my weight loss after the midpoint weight-in, so I decided to boost my exercise levels to try to speed up my weight loss. (I also tried to cut more calories but that was harder).

While I’m still not seeing the results at the scale that I was hoping to see (I’m only around 40-50 pounds down — it fluctuates some from day to day, not near enough to be competitive with the pace maintained by last year’s winner) but I am seeing lots of other benefits. My blood sugar control has been fantastic (I’m now off all of my diabetic meds), my cardiovascular fitness level is improving (I’m now regularly spinning out — pedaling too fast for my gears on the pedicab —- this only happens when I’m on level ground but still this has never been the case before) and my mental state is really good. I just love being on the bike.

So, from here until the finish I’m going to be posting updates on my cycling. Partly to brag (I know it feels weird to say this up front, but I will feel better about my lack of humility if I own it), but also to keep my motivated by being accountable to all of my readers.

So here’s what my riding was like last week…

Sunday, March 22 – 8.6 miles (about 2 hours) on the pedicab – this doesn’t sound impressive until you know that I often was carrying 2-3 passengers

Monday, March 23 – 17 miles (about 2.25 hours) on my regular bike, riding from the library at Oklahoma Christian University to Genghis Grill then back home.

Tuesday, March 24 – 2.6 miles (46 minutes) on the pedicab, doing the tail end of the after game rush for an OKC Thunder game. After I got home I did another hour on the stationary bike.

Wednesday through Friday (March 25-27)- Rode 1-2 hours daily on the stationary bike each day

Saturday, March 28 13.2 miles on the pedicab (about 2 hours) – An awesome ride from Bricktown to Midtown, then to the Plaza District, then to Deep Deuce and then to downtown.

Weekly total (March 22-28): 17 miles on the bike, 24.4 miles on the pedicab, approximately 5 hours on the stationary bike

Day 48: Fitspiration

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Today’s #HealthKwest social media challenge: We are all busy and sometimes we only have a few minutes to exercise. Write a blog on a short and quick cardio workout that could be useful to someone that is always on the go.

 

To lose weight you have to get enough exercise. There’s no way around this, no magic 5 minute exercise that will do the trick. For me to lose weight, I need to be exercising 1, 2 or even more hours per day. It stinks but that is just the way it is. Obviously that is a challenge when you are busy (something I’ve really struggled with over the last 48 days), but what has worked best for me is to find ways to incorporate exercise into my daily schedule.

My primary exercise activity is bicycling, so I’ve had the best luck by simply using my bike to get from point A to point B for my daily errands. Doing this enables me to get in a little bit of extra exercise, but also to a accomplish an errand that needs to be done. A short 5 mile trip to the post office can be done in a car quickly but you get no exercise, while a trip by bike accomplishes the same chore but also gets your heart rate up.


My Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.healthkwestjames.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmbzine
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jmbranum
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jmbzinedotcom/videos
Blog: http://health.jmbranum.com
Tumblr: http://jamesmbranum.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbranum
BlogSpot: http://jmbranum.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jmbranum.com

And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

Day 47: My Health Kwest Exercise Playlist

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Today’s #HealthKwest social media challenge: Make a playlist of your 10 favorite songs to exercise too during your Health Kwest. Share the name of your songs and artists on your blog and what exercise you like to do to each song.

 

My exercise routine has changed over the course of the Health Kwest. When I began I did a mix of cardio (both bike and treadmill) and weight-training, but over time I realized that weight training wasn’t super-helpful to me, since this contest is judged based only on percentage of body weight lost (not factoring in changes in my body composition, converting fat to muscle).

So I’ve instead focused on the biking, but have tried to vary it up a bit to keep engaged with it. On bad weather days I ride a stationary bike (a recumbent at home or a regular one at the gym), but on good weather days I try to use my regular bicycle to run daily errands. And on some nights, I also drive a pedicab in downtown OKC.

picture: me on a pedicab
me on a pedicab

Music does help me to stay motivated. In the gym headphones work great, but on the road I much prefer to use a small set of speakers that clip to my handlebar (and work with my ipod) so I can hear my music but also hear the traffic around me.

So for my playlist, I’ve picked a few songs (sorry I couldn’t limit it to only 10) that fit my different cycling moods. Some songs are nice chilled out for lazy riding in the sunshine. Other songs are melancholy for riding on rainy days. And many songs are fast, providing a good beat that matches my pedaling rhythm. And finally some songs I just chose for their inspirational value.

So without further ado, here’s my list of songs (with youtube videos when I could find them)…

1. Matisyahu – Walls Melt Down

Driving beat, lots of horns, encouraging message – makes for great steady cycling

2. Matisyahu – Live like a warrior

A great song to remind me not to let my negative thoughts from my past rob me of my joy and confidence in the now! A great motivational song – “Today, today, live like you wanna. Let yesterday burn and throw it in the fire, in the fire, in the fire… live like a warrior”

3. Dave Carter & Tracey Grammer – Gentle Arms of Eden

A joyous chilled song for easy riding on country roads.

4. Maccabeats – Brave

Another inspirational chilled out song by my favorite Jewish acapella singing group (a cover of a song by Sara Bareilles), a good reminder that we can all tap into our brave selves if we really want to.

As a plus, the bonus is that the song has a nice chilled rhythm for a leisurely pedaling cadence.

5. Maccabeats – Candlelight

A good inspirational song for riding up hill.

6. Five Iron Frenzy – Zen and the Art of Xenophobia

I could have picked many of the old classic FIF songs (especially their older ska-oriented work), but I chose this one from their new album for its excellent cycling-friendly rhythm and its delightfully sacrilegious themes.

7. Flobots – Stand Up

I chose this song for its inspirational value (a good reminder that every trip I take by bicycle is a little bit less petroleum being used to fuel our world’s destruction) but also because it has a good steady beat for cycling.

8. Greatful Dead – Box of Rain

This song (along with the rest of the American Beauty album) makes for a mellow afternoon on the bike.

9. Guster – Do you love me

A fun song to sing along to while cycling.

10. K’naan – Wavin’ Flag

Triumphant! A great song to play after having conquered a monster hill.

11. Seth Martin – Fireweed Mountain

A gloriously chilled song of hope.

12. David Rovics – The Bicycle Song

A great song to inspire us all to ride our bikes!

13. Queen – Bicycle Race

The video (vintage 1978) is not for the easily offended (as it involves a lot of naked people riding bicycles). But it is hard to find a better match for my life than the chorus of this song: “Bicycle! Bicycle! I want to ride my bicycle!”


My Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.healthkwestjames.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmbzine
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jmbranum
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jmbzinedotcom/videos
Blog: http://health.jmbranum.com
Tumblr: http://jamesmbranum.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbranum
BlogSpot: http://jmbranum.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jmbranum.com

And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

Day 46: National Nutrition Month

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Today’s #HealthKwest social media challenge: It’s National Nutrition Month! Write a short blog post about some things you’ve learned about Nutrition during the Kwest!

 

Over the years, I had done a fair amount of reading on issues of nutrition. As a diabetic, I understood well the effect that carbs had on my body (and the importance of consuming them slowly over the course of the day). And I also knew that a good diet is one that is as natural as possible, with most of my food coming from fresh sources and less being processed. And of course I knew the dangers involved with our industrial food supply and why it is better to eat organic food as much as possible. This was all good information but I was lacking two key components: first, how to integrate this knowledge into my daily life and second how should my diet change so that I could lose weight in a healthy manner.

During the last 46 days I’ve had the chance to work through some of the issues. The most important lesson I learned is that losing weight is largely a matter of math – namely that I need to burn more calories each day than I am taking in.

Day 46 of #Healthkwest
Day 46 of #Healthkwest

To be able to do this, I first had to calculate my maintenance calorie count – this is the number of calories I burn in a day by simply being alive and doing my basic normal activities. There are several formulas on how to calculate this number (and a slight variance on the results depending on which formula one uses — all of our bodies are metabolically different, so these formulas are just rough estimates), but the easiest way I found to do this was to use the Calorie Maintenance Calculator tool from acaloriecounter.com (scroll down towards the bottom of the page for the calculator tool)

With this data in hand, I now know that I can maintain my current weight by eating precisely this amount of calories, or I can lose weight by eating less or burning more — in fact the math is easy for this, a reduction of 500 calories per day will result in one pound of weight loss per week.

When I began the HealthKwest I weighed 302 pounds and was only “lightly active,” so my maintenance number was 3227 calories. So dieting wise I sought to reduce my caloric intake down to 1800-2000 calories per day (a reduction 1227-1427 calories per day) and then to boost my exercise, starting at a goal of 45 minutes to one hour of heavy exertion per day (which at my current weight meant burning 500-750 more calories).

This formula worked well for the first half of the contest, as the weight came off fast, but now it is not working as well. My weight loss has slowed down which is frustrating to me. I have a few theories on how I can fix this and do well for the last couple of weeks…

1. Since I have lost around 40 pounds (when I last checked), my maintenance calorie count has gone down a bunch – to 2977 (a reduction of 250 calories), but I have not adjusted my target calories. Ideally I need to drop my goal calories (1800-2000 at the start) down by 250 calories, to around 1550-1750 per day. This will be hard but since I only have two weeks left, I think it is what I need to do. Obviously over the long haul, I don’t think I want to keep my calories down this low, but I’m hoping that I can push my weight loss into a faster rate of loss for these next two weeks.

2. When I started the HealthKwest I tracked my calories very methodically, logging every single thing I ate into an app on my phone. But now I’m much more complacent, not tracking everything and instead just trying to keep a running guestimated total in my head. I suspect I’m probably underestimating my calories, so I need to go back to careful tracking and recording of all calories.

3. Obviously I can always exercise more. I’ve been shooting for at least 2 hours per day lately, but I may need to do a lot more during these last two weeks.

4. I need to continue to make fruits and veggies the primary focus of my diet.

5. I need to continue to substitute cabbage for the starch in my bowls, but also should work on reducing my calories in other ways – rationing or eliminating the meat would be smart, but also need to do a better job with the sauces, trying to make that part lower calorie too.

Those are my thoughts for right now. There are of course as always some challenges ahead. My family normally celebrates Passover and Easter (my family is bi-religious) but both fall during the closing days of HealthKWest. I don’t want to miss out on these holidays (both of which are very food-oriented) but I also don’t want to lose any ground during the closing days of HealhKwest. I’m also struggling to stay on track of everything else in my life (work, seminary and family) while maintaining the appropriate level of intensity in the HealthKwwest, but I’m just going to have to do my best and press on during these last 14 days.

Anyway this was wordier than I meant it to be, but that’s what is going on for me.

As to the original question – mostly I think I would say that the key to losing weight while staying health is lots of fruits and veggies. It really is that simple. I suspect that one could even not count calories, but just eat nothing but fruits and veggies and lose weight. I’m not ready to give up meat, dairy, etc. but I am convinced that eating a veggie-centric diet is the way to go.


My Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.healthkwestjames.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmbzine
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jmbranum
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jmbzinedotcom/videos
Blog: http://health.jmbranum.com
Tumblr: http://jamesmbranum.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbranum
BlogSpot: http://jmbranum.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jmbranum.com

And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

Day 39: How has the HealthKwest changed me?

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Today’s #HealthKwest social media challenge: Write a blog about any physical and emotional changes you have felt during Health Kwest so far. Post it a blog about it along with any photos.

 

This is a difficult question for me to answer because I’m right in the middle of this epic contest — and I don’t think I’m overstating it at all to call it “epic” because that is the effect it has had on my life.

Day 38 update- 40 pounds of weight lost - 13.2% of body weight
Day 38 update- 40 pounds of weight lost – 13.2% of body weight

I began the contest with high hopes but also a good bit of cynicism about myself and my abilities to see this through. I have a lot of history of negative self-talk but also a lot of bad experiences with dieting that made me convinced that this would likely not end well.

But I also knew that my old lifestyle wasn’t working. Over the previous three years as a newly married man, I had made many changes — I seek to prioritize my family over everything else, even work and the activism causes I hold dear. Yet I hadn’t changed the way I treated my body. I still ate more than I should and I often dealt with the stress of my very busy life by way of emotional eating. And so I decided to enter Health Kwest and to try hard to make the cut for the finals.

I knew that I needed to appear optimistic to have a chance of being picked, so I spoke out on social media about my hopes to compete and my plans to win. I felt foolish saying this out loud, but I decided it was what I had to do to get picked… and then something happened… something wonderful… I started to believe my own spin. I actually started to think I could do this and it changed everything.

Healthkwest Poster
Healthkwest Poster

It hasn’t always been easy but it has been much easier than I thought it would be. Here are some of my happy discoveries/changes:

1. I can eat a restricted calorie diet and not be continually hungry, as long as I load up on healthy fruits and veggies.
2. I can eat at Genghis Grill every day and LOVE it! (I’m already dreading the end of this contest)
3. I can cook good food at home, especially when I embrace the GG approach of lots of veggies and spices, flavorful sauces and a thoughtful use of healthy proteins.
4. When I eliminate most refined sugar from my diet, fruit suddenly becomes as sweet as candy!
5. It is possible to still have a daily glass of wine on a diet if I want one (and have properly allocated my calories throughout the day).
6. My clothes are fitting better. I’m finding old clothes that I had given up on wearing and am looking forward to being able to shop for clothing outside of the “big man” section of the store.
7. Sex is better. Way better. I won’t say much more out of fear of embarrassing my wife, except that I think it is a combination of changes to both my body and my mind.
8. I am type 2 diabetic and took 2 daily meds to control my blood sugar. Since starting this contest, I’ve found my blood sugar levels getting too low. My doctor has already pulled me off one of my meds and I probably will be going off of my other med soon. This is unbelievable yet it is reality.
9. Losing a lot of weight stirs up a lot of emotions, both good and bad. I’m learning (thanks to an awesome counselor) that I can accept that these emotions are being stirred up but then show myself compassion and love.
10. Today I rode 17 miles on my bike, most of it during moderate to heavy rain. The day before I rode an hour on the stationary bike. The day before that… you get the picture. I have never been so consistent in exercising in my life. I think out of 39 days in HealthKwest, I have only missed 1 day of exercise. And for the many of those days, I have exercised for anywhere from 1-3 hours. This is pretty awesome.

Biking on a very rainy day
Biking on a very rainy day

11. My son is proud of me. How cool is that?
12. The uncertainty of this contest is driving me nuts. I wish I knew how my fellow “khantestants” were doing on weight loss and whatnot. But another part of me says that I just need to embrace the uncertainty, to know that this is part of the experience.
13. I am nervous about what happens after the contest. I kinda would like to continue this more aggressive approach to weight loss for awhile longer, but I know at some point I will need to settle into a slower steadier level of loss to get me to my goal (200 pounds or less). Yet I am reminded that I never imagined that I would be able to lose 40 pounds (so far) and that I just have to trust that the next stage of my weight loss journey (after day 60) likely will go much better than I would have otherwise imagined.


My Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmbzine
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jmbranum
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jmbzinedotcom/videos
Blog: http://health.jmbranum.com
Tumblr: http://jamesmbranum.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbranum
BlogSpot: http://jmbranum.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jmbranum.com

And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

Pressed for time for working out? – Try interval training

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Today’s #HealthKwest social media challenge: We are all busy and sometimes we only have a few minutes to exercise. Write a blog on a short and quick cardio workout that could be useful to someone that is always on the go.

 

I am trying to get a significant amount of exercise every day while in this contest (1-2 hours per day) but I have had a few days where I just couldn’t get in that much time, so what I’ve done is on those days is to instead do interval training on a stationary bicycle.

So if I only had 20 minutes to exercise, then I would start pedaling at a moderate rate of resistance and moderate speed (maybe resistance of 4 and RPM of 70) while monitoring my heart rate. After a few minutes and my heart rate is up a bit (maybe around 100 or so), then I will boost the resistance and speed of pedaling by a lot (maybe resistance up to 10 and shooting for 100+ RPM on pedaling speed) and then push hard for a minute or two, ideally until my heart rate is somewhere between 130-140. Then I lower speed and resistance but keep pedaling for a few minutes. Once my heart rate is back to down to maybe 100 or so I’ll crank it all up again for a couple of minutes with a high-intensity phase and then keep repeating the cycle as time permits, so for a 20 minute session I will end up having maybe 2-3 high intensity bursts of activity, which provides a fast hard workout.


My Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmbzine
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jmbranum
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jmbzinedotcom/videos
Blog: http://health.jmbranum.com
Tumblr: http://jamesmbranum.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbranum
BlogSpot: http://jmbranum.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jmbranum.com

And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

Brown Rice and other fiber rich choices

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Today’s #HealthKwest social media challenge: Try brown rice with your bowl. Take a photo of you and post it on your blog and write out the benefits of choosing brown rice/whole grains in a diet. BLOG: TUMBLR/BLOGGER/ WORDPRESS ETC.

 

picture: Me and my brown rice bowl
Day #28 Bowl

This was an easy challenge because I have been using brown rice as one of my two choices for the starch part of my bowl (the other one being to substitute cabbage for the starch, which lowers the calorie count even further but is not as satisfying as the brown rice).

picture: Me and my brown rice bowl
Me and my brown rice bowl

I choose to go with brown rice so often because…

  1. It tastes good – Plain white rice is too boring, while brown rice has a bit of a nutty taste and a nice texture.
  2. Brown Rice retains more of the vitamins and minerals of rice. White rice is often enriched with vitamins to make up for the lost vitamins of processing, but some vitamins are not replaced (most notably magnesium — one cup of brown rice contains 84 mg of magnesium while white rice contains only 19 mg).
  3. Brown rice has more fiber than white rice. A 100 gram serving of cooked brown rice contains 2 grams of fiber, while a 100 gram serving of cooked white contains only 1 gram of fiber. This is important to me, as increased consumption of dietary fiber appears to possibly be connected to increased chances of success in losing weight.

 


My Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmbzine
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jmbranum
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jmbzinedotcom/videos
Blog: http://health.jmbranum.com
Tumblr: http://jamesmbranum.tumblr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbranum
BlogSpot: http://jmbranum.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jmbranum.com

And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

Tea!

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX

For today’s social media challenge, I’ve been asked to write a blog post about the health benefits of Green Tea. I’m going to do this, but also talk some about the health benefits of black tea as well because both are super-healthy drinks. But first I want to speak a bit about my love of tea generally.

I have long been a fan of tea. I have most loved black teas but over they years I’ve come to appreciate the more nuanced flavors of green and oolong teas, as well as the interesting combinations of herbal and flavored teas.

tea-1

I am not alone in this love. Tea is arguably the second most popular beverage on earth (second only to water itself) and has played a major role in history and culture. Of those who have written about tea, probably the most poetic and thoughtful was Okakura Kakuzō, a Japanese man who wrote The Book of Tea in English in 1906, introducing many westerners for the first time to the profound importance of tea in many Asian cultures. (FYI, The Book of Tea is thankfully out of copyright can be read for free online at Project Gutenberg)

PHOTO: Okakura_Tenshin (photo from Wikipedia)
Okakura_Tenshin (photo from Wikipedia)

Here are a two of my favorite quotes from this book:

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.

There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea which makes it irresistible and capable of idealisation. Western humourists were not slow to mingle the fragrance of their thought with its aroma. It has not the arrogance of wine, the self-consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa.

Of course Okakura would likely be aghast that my favorite way to drink tea is iced (iced tea only started to become popular in the Americas in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair, just a couple of years before Okakura’s book came out), but I love it hot too. Iced tea is my everyday drink, while hot tea is a treat for when I have the time to sit and relax.

OK, on to the health benefits.

picture: Genghis Grill's new Green tea drinks
Genghis Grill’s new Green tea drinks

Quite a bit has been written about the health benefits of tea, so I thought I would just focus on the positive ways that tea consumption (both Green and Black) can have on weight-loss.

From the brochure “The Legendary Health Benefits of Tea” (from the Tea Council of the USA) – PDF Download:

Obesity is a major public health concern in the US, and few strategies provide long-term success. Several studies suggest drinking calorie free tea may aid weight management, helping people meet fluid requirements without the added calories of some other drink options.

Preliminary research suggests that tea flavonoids may help increase metabolism and fat oxidation and improve blood sugar control.

Tea catechins (a type of flavonoid) may also provide modest shifts in metabolism that may promote weight loss and maintenance.

• In a meta-analysis of six tea research studies, 24-hour energy expenditure increased by 4.7 percent or 102 calories over 24 hours with a catechin-caffeine mixture. Fat oxidation increased during the same period, revealing that tea may aid weight loss.

• Japanese researchers found that in a 12-week, double-blind and placebo-controlled study, green tea catechins led to a reduction in body fat, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol compared to the control group. The authors suggest green tea catechins may help prevent obesity and reduce risk for cardiovascular disease.

From another report from the Tea Council of the USA (PDF download), I found some very interesting bits of information about the potential power of tea to boost weight-loss:

Several studies suggest drinking calorie-free tea may help with weight management. Preliminary research suggests that tea flavonoids help elevate metabolic rate, increase fat oxidation and improve insulin activity. Tea catechins can also provide modest shifts in metabolism that may improve weight loss and maintenance.

And there tea has more health benefits beyond just more than just helping weight-loss. According to the same summary of tea-related medical research, tea consumption may have positive effects in preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer, DNA damage, neurological and cognitive problems, kidney stones and osteoporosis. Tea consumption may also help diabetics to control their blood sugar and help us all to have better oral health and immune function.

In short, tea is very good for you.

So, I will continue my habit of drinking tea with most of my meals at Genghis Grill. I’m still partial to the old-standby of traditional black iced tea (unsweetened of course— I’m having good success by avoiding both refined sugars and artificial sweetners during HealthKwest) but my wife loves the new Green tea drinks. She has had all three and says she is torn which she likes better. Either way, tea is a good choice.


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