Choose The Write!

A Sunday re-blog. Good thoughts on going with what’s right by you, and not by others would have you do.

Didi Oviatt

I’ve mentioned before that I’m from a small town. What I haven’t mentioned is that its a small “Mormon town” in Utah. That’s right folks I was raised by an LDS family and I grew up having  a certain perception of right and wrong pounded in my head. I however, am one hard headed individual, and somehow developed my own opinion, as many of us “sinners” do… Weird right? lol

To make things worse, not only do I NOT believe in a religion that’s so big on Joseph Smith, but I also like to drink wine and beer, and I write sweary books with naughty scenes in them!  *** Insert Gasp Here***

The point of this post isn’t to show what a rebel I am, or even to encourage those weirdo’s who think its cool to do naughty things merely for the attention. I actually hate that.  There is nothing that…

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Protein Powders

As I related in my “Big Mama” blog, I thoroughly enjoy exercise. While my weight is often a mystery wrapped in an enigma, some things are consistent: cardio, weights, sweat, aches and pains, and nutritional supplements.

I’ve gone through a lot of protein powders over the years. Some I used and repurchased, others I stopped using almost immediately. With each brand I’ve tried, I became a little more savvy in finding my optimal, supplemental requirements. Not all protein powders are created equally. Not by a long shot. It’s shocking how many are sold at top dollar and are little more than fillers.

You have to do the research. Narrowing down the protein madness means understanding what you are trying to get from your powder.

I find it surprising though, my opinion on the subject is almost always sought out by women. For instance, my sister once expressed confusion, stating she only understood men to use protein powders and, “doesn’t that stuff jack you up?” No. No it does not. I mean it can, if I were to consume 4 to 6 times – daily – the amount of protein my body actually needs, and I worked out about 6 hours a day.

Regardless of sex, the human body needs protein, more so if you make physical demands on your body (i.e. exercise, daily hard labor, etc). Protein is needed to repair muscles as well as keep them going –  just in the general sense. The more you demand from them, the more you should consider supplemental nutrition. It seems obvious, but it’s not and for a lot of people.

*General “good” qualities of a superior protein powder:

High Yield (protein) vs Filler (fillers may be good or bad)

  • Very few powders are %100 protein, 96% at most. For better, and sometimes worse, components are added to either enhance the product (amino acids and fiber) or to cheapen the product and for a variety reasons (reducing consumer costs and flavoring are the two big reasons). You need to know what additives are actually beneficial vs the filler crap. That requires research your part…
  • Ex: One serving may breakdown as 75% protein and 25% filler. Filler may be BCAAs / EAAs, or some percentage of fiber (very good stuff) OR that 25% may be sugar fillers, additives and worse, added to make the product more tasty, but ultimately less than nutritious (not good stuff).

The inclusion of BCAAs and EAAs

  • Branch Chain Amino Acids and Essential Amino Acids. These are very important. Higher quality protein powders will include these. You can read up on amino acids and how they benefit the body by clicking on the links above.

Wide range of protein sources offered by one company line

  • The most well known and used source for protein nutrition is Whey, Whey is the protein king simply because it is more readily available. The better companies will offer a range of protein supplements outside of Whey, such as Egg, Soy, and plant-based protein powders. Obviously, Whey and Egg protein powders are not vegan friendly.
  • Here is an excellent list of best animal-based and best plant-based protein powders. They also include a list of the worst.

Digestibility.

  • Some Whey products are better than others. This is the difference between WPI and WPC. Whey Protein Isolate is faster acting and is generally considered superior to Whey Protein Concentrate, which is a larger molecule and slower to digest or burn. The smaller the molecule, the faster the protein is digested and is not a burden on the gut. The larger the molecule, the longer it takes to break down and feels like it’s “sitting” on the stomach. Some bodybuilders prefer the slower acting as their powder works longer, throughout the day, but most people prefer a faster acting protein.
  • Here is an article that breaks down the different source types of Whey.

*General “bad” qualities found in inferior protein powders:

Common Fillers

  • The most common include: SUGAR, flavor additives, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, all of which are counter to the point of being healthy.
  • HOWEVER, small amounts of sugar substitutes are generally okay (truvia, stevia, and the like) The odds of you finding some sugar substitute, even in the highest quality protein powder, is very likely.

Toxic Fillers (people don’t know or aren’t paying attention)

  • Cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and more. These have actually existed in some top selling protein powders.

Cheap

  • On that note, read the first and second points of Simple Truths below.

Ion Exchange

  • It’s garbage. Pick up any container that states it’s a protein powder was made using the Ion Exchange method, do yourself a favor and put it back down and walk away. It will be cheap! But an inferior product. The Ion method basically strips many of the essential sub-components of a quality protein powder.

*There are many factors to take into consideration when investing in a protein powder. YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR RESEARCH. I simply cannot cover all the factors.*

Simple Truths:
1. Higher quality protein will cost you more. The cheaper, the less effective. High quality protein undergoes rigorous treatment in order to maximize – per serving – the amount of protein yielded balanced with necessary sub-benefits like BCAAs and EAAs.

2. On that same note, companies are more than happy to charge you a great deal more for a crap product b/c it is understood by consumers that “the good stuff” costs more. That’s why it is imperative that you know how to read the label. Don’t just buy the first expensive thing you see on the shelf, READ THE F*CKING LABEL. Remember, the labels can be pretty, and slick, and modern but that doesn’t mean that 5-gallon protein bucket has much nutritional benefit to it.

3. So why all that sugar and flavor additives? I’ll tell you – taste. For some reason, people will base their expensive, nutritionally-based decisions on taste. People essentially would like to drink a protein product that tastes like a dessert and are surprised when a month later, they end up questioning the usefulness of their product. A lot of articles on “best” protein powders will factor in flavor as a pro or con – I don’t. It’s non-sense. Taste does not determine the product’s effectiveness. 

  • A good quality protein powder will likely taste awful, or at best, not-that-bad. The more it tastes like a tasty treat, the higher the bad kind of fillers. Get over the flavor factor, people. You’re looking for a healthy, nutritional supplement, not a drinkable dessert.
  • To refer to the ‘bad list‘ again, 3 of the 5 mentioned as “worst” are actually top sellers if for no other reason than brand recognition, and people raving about the “taste.”
  • With a little work, a little trial and error, you can craft some very tasty smoothies. If you’re thinking ‘milkshakes’ you’ve already lost. You need a blender and willingness to blend fruits and vegetables and healthy, base-line fluids to make your protein drink. I’ll tell you later what my current favorite recipes are.

PROTEIN POWDERS I’VE TRIED

Everything I’m about to discuss is strictly my opinion, based on the impression of the product as I’ve experienced it.

I had two goals when I first started purchasing protein powder: to reduce muscle stress as I exercise regularly, and reduce water retention, a lifelong issue for me. I started out completely ignorant on the subject and I made very rookie mistakes from the start.

All products have been consumed at a rate of one serving per day of exercise, not daily.

The first protein powders I’ve used: Now Sports Whey Protein Concentrate and Isolate

now WPC

Let me tell you, I was miserable. That stuff sat on my stomach for hours. I looked it up to see if this reaction was normal and that’s when I learned about Concentrate vs Isolate.

Which led to:

now WPI

Obviously, this was significantly less stressful on my stomach. I bought this label a few times, and the extra protein did reduce my water weight, by nearly 10 lbs as I recall. But, my body was still overly sore between exercise days. I decided to keep looking. By this time I added a third goal: meal replacement.

My next venture was Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard:

on gold

This guy is a top seller on Amazon, it’s in nearly every store that sells Whey products too. It’s good but there’s better. In my experience, it kept my water weight down, and at the start, did act as a meal replacement. Over time, as my body got used to it, I was still hungry after consuming a serving. Muscle recovery was similar. There was improvement in experiencing less general achiness, but that didn’t last.

I found this guy by accident at my local Central Market (H-E-B):

cm protein

By this time I had learned about the importance of BCAAs and this powder was the first product I found that was all organic, non-gmo, and with a robust amino acid profile. I repurchased this particular powder the most and it worked well with me for a long while. It did not meet the meal replacement goal but it did reduce the general feeling of bodily stress from intense exercising. I was happy with this one for a long time.

I tried this one b/c my favorite was out and wouldn’t be restocked at my local store for awhile. I still regret this purchase. The guy who was in the health supplement aisle sold me on it b/c he said all his customers raved about the taste. I wished I had known better, but I did not: BSN Syntha-6

bsn powder

This is powdered dessert in a jar. It did nothing for me and I ended up throwing the remainder away. After basic research, this is a classic “junk” powder. It’s slick packaging, and sells like hotcakes (tastes like em’ too) but the nutritional payoff is not substantial. There’s a reason they offer 9 or so flavors like: cookies and cream, chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate cake, etc.

By this time, I had added a new goal into what I wanted from my protein powder: fiber. My appetite has changed drastically over the past year as my doctor fine tunes my medications for hypothyroid and high blood sugar (non-diabetic type, just a little high). I eat less now, and I had seen for myself how liquids are an excellent way of consuming calories while not feeling overburdened. I needed more fiber, but didn’t want what appetite I had to be strictly dominated by eating greens.

My requirements for a protein powder (today) include: muscle nutrition support, water weight management, meal replacement, and fiber inclusion.

Only this guy fits the bill and to date is my favorite protein powder as it takes care of all four of my requirements: Vega All-in-One

vega

The nutritional profile on this bad boy is breathtaking. Also, I know it’s the best b/c it tastes like sh*t, lol. No, but really though, be prepared to mix this with something…the taste is just…it’s just bad.

I am not a vegan, plant-based protein had never even entered my mind until I started researching protein powders with a fiber component. I am so GLAD I did. I saw real reviewers who were tired of trying to decipher all the sugar-laden monstrosities out there and went plant-based instead. This powder is ALL ORGANIC, NON-GMO, NO SUGAR ADDED, GLUTEN FREE (if that’s a concern for you). But man! Just look at the nutritional profile! And a decent serving of protein per scoop (I wouldn’t want less than 20 grams).

This powder actually inspired a fifth factor in my preferred powders: energy boost. I’ve never experienced “energy boosting” qualities in any powder I’ve ever tried. It never occurred to me look for it either. Vega One, b/c it’s all plant-based, green nutrition, I actually get a little, gentle energy boost from it. It’s mild, but it’s there and it’s awesome, especially before a workout.

To date, I have tried all the flavors of Vega’s All-in-One powders and the ones that are easiest to manipulate via fruits, vegetables, and fluids are the chocolate version and the coconut almond version (my favorite).

A simple recipe for the chocolate version

  • 4 oz water and 8 oz of Silk’s Unsweetened Coconut & Almond (or combination milk, water, or milk alternative) – Vega One is a vegan product, naturally, they are not going to recommend the use of animal milk on their label – and they don’t – but that doesn’t mean you can’t.
  • 1 whole banana
  • 1-2 tablespoons of PB2. You can find this with the protein powders, made for them actually. PB2 is an easy way to offset the less than pleasant taste of some powders. Unless you’re allergic to peanuts.
  • 1 scoop of the protein powder
  • Blend until smooth.

My favorite recipe for my favorite powder, the Vega’s All-in-One Coconut, Almond:

  • 4 oz water and 8 oz Silk’s Unsweetened Coconut & Almond (my favorite milk alternative, very tasty)
  • 1 scoop of the protein powder
  • Shake until smooth. The end. It’s actually very good with just the unsweetened coconut and almond milk.

I can’t stress enough the importance of two things when considering a protein powder:

1) Your willingness to research ahead of time. Understanding the different types and what they do. Knowing what a powder should include vs what it should not include.

2) Understanding what you want from a powder based on that research, and your own personal goals.

Some people do want to bulk up. Others just want to stay lean. Others want to reduce their muscle stress b/c they exercise often. Others might want a little more protein in their diet. There are so many reasons.

I hope this was helpful.

ArmedWithCoffee.com

Austin, Texas

@gnrmuggle

How to understand why female character types are written the way they are — Stephanie Haggarty

A Sunday re-blog. Thoughtful and intelligent. Many thanks.

via How to understand why female character types are written the way they are — Stephanie Haggarty

Unknowable Dads: A Father’s Day Reading List — Longreads

A re-blog. Very interesting titles recommended.

 

For retailers, fathers have simple needs: books, steaks, gadgets. But the dads most of us grew up with, and without, are a more inscrutable lot.

via Unknowable Dads: A Father’s Day Reading List — Longreads

The UK Trip

As I’ve addressed in previous blogs, I was, and am, a voracious reader. There’s very little I won’t consume by way of fiction. It shocks me at times, how I can walk into a bookstore and identify titles I’ve read by shelf, aisle, and section. I’m not saying I’ve read everything, I am saying I’ve read a lot.

When I think about my ultimate vacation, I think about personal enrichment as being more pleasurable than say, a relaxed, do-nothing sort of vacation. I like a fruity concoction on the beach as much as anyone but I’d rather invest in my long-time love of reading by taking an author rich, pilgrim-styled tour than laying about on some beach somewhere. Boring to some perhaps, but for me, paradise.

The UK seems to me the obvious choice for such an author’s pilgrimage and for the following reasons:

Charles Dickens
William Shakespeare
Charlotte and Emily Brontë
Jane Austen
J.K. Rowling
George Orwell
J.R.R. Tolkien
Lewis Carroll
Virginia Woolf
C.S. Lewis
Salman Rushdie
Beatrix Potter
Mary Shelley
Neil Gaiman
John Milton
Graham Greene
H.G. Wells
…just to name a few…

So yeah, the destination seems pretty straightforward in my opinion.

I had meant for this trip years ago, a sort of graduation gift to myself after completing my masters degree. But that was 2008 and the economy had tanked. At the time, being anything but conservative with my funds would have been detrimental. Since then, I’ve relocated cities (Austin to San Antonio), met my future husband and married him (let’s call him “M”), had a kid, relocated cities again (San Antonio back to Austin), had a health scare, bought a house…life gets messy. A good sort of messy but messy even so.

Here we are in 2017 and things seem to have settled, for the moment at any rate. My husband knows how much I’ve “suspended” aspects of my life for the sake of our family, and a year ago M began encouraging me to think about that trip I never took. I’m planning it for the fall of 2018.

It will be a solo trip since this is all about exploring my personal interests. As much as I love the idea *ahem* (polite cough of disbelief) of dragging E, my 4-year old, around the English country side, it would likely be best if she stayed at home.

I started gathering my thoughts around an actual agenda and it looks something like this:

Day 1 & 2 – London. Just two days in London doing all the touristy stuff. Visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral, viewing the Thames, tour the Buckingham Palace, and a visit to the British Museum. The second day would be devoted to the Charles Dickens’ Museum and the British Library.

Day 3 – Oxford University – Tolkien and C.S. Lewis taught their. Some of their works were written while at Oxford. On to Stonehenge in Salisbury, 60 miles from Oxford University.

Day 4 – Bath, home of the Jane Austen Centre. Then on to the villages of the Cotswolds and Shakespeare’s hometown.

Day 5 – Haworth, home to the museum of the Brontë sisters.

Day 6 (a short, 1-hour flight from Haworth) – Back to London, specifically North London, to the Warner Bros studio to take as many Harry Potter tours and add-on’s as I can possibly stand and/or afford. For me, the books will always take precedence over the films but as I very well can’t knock on Rowling’s door for an in-depth chat, surrounding myself with as much material as possible will have to do.

There’s so much more…so, so, so much more I want to do but I must prioritize. I’ve always said: Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was one of the greatest stories ever contributed to mankind. Jane Austen portrayed women fairly rather than trapping them in outmoded ideals. The Brontë sisters provided new perspectives in writing. Tolkien gave us worlds within worlds. Rowling gave us modern wings to fly. And Shakespeare, because he’s MF’ing Shakespeare.

I’m doing my best to squeeze Edinburgh in there, somewhere. Maybe a connection from Haworth? I’m not sure.

All this is subject to change anyway. I just like to-do lists, but all my to-do lists have ever been written in pencil. In this case, metaphorically so.

Where would you go and what would you see?

ArmedWithCoffee.com
Austin, Texas
@gnrmuggle

According to History, Reading in Bed Makes Me Evil

A re-blog. A very interesting history on the “evils” of reading in bed.

ArmedWithCoffee.com
Austin, Texas
@gnrmuggle

Kristen Twardowski

Joseph_Caraud_Am_Morgen_1865.jpg Joseph Caraud, “Am Morgen”, Öl auf Holz, 1865, via Wikimedia.

Reading is more dangerous than I thought. Not only is reading while walking cause for concern, but reading in bed may also be a problem. At least people who lived during the 1800’s thought it was.

Like cigarettes are today, reading in bed was a fire hazard. People needed candlelight to see. If they drifted off to sleep while reading with a candle burning at their bedside, there was always a chance that the house could catch fire.

The Atlantic recently published an article that details how the British came to connect reading in bed first to fire and then to an immoral spirit. People who read this way were considered to be “insolent child[ren]” prone to crime. This kind of commentary seems like an overreaction, but the disapproval of reading stemmed from broader changes to society. By the…

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On Being a Full-Time Parent

First, and I cannot stress this enough, I loved having a career and I cannot wait to jump back into one when E is school-aged. I didn’t go out of my way to educate myself just so I could hang-up my license as soon as I became a “Mrs.” Before I met my future husband, I had my own apartment, bills, and other monthly obligations that I paid for. I did not come from a wealthy family, and absolutely nothing was handed to me. So it came as a shock when one day I, at long last, confronted myself with what I intended to do roughly seven months pregnant.

I had put off the thought for as long as I could: go back to work and leave E to full-time daycare, or stay at home and raise her myself. A lot of women, and I would say some men too, would love to stay at home and raise their children full-time. Unlike some parents, I actually had the luxury to choose. And it is a luxury. To get by in this country, to be considered middle-class, both parents must earn. That is the truth. Maternity care in America is non-existent. I had to cash in all my sick days, and the vacation days I never used, in order to get three months of paid time off. I raised hell about that. Pregnancy is neither a sickness, nor a disease, nor a vacation. Without that cache of time I had the foresight to squirrel away (and no serious illnesses to keep me out of office) I would have had ZERO time off between birth and E’s care. When I questioned my HR office about what I would have done had I not had those earned vacation days, I was told, unsympathetically I might add, I could request early vacation leave, essentially borrowing what I had not earned and would have to payback. This method creates a paid, time-off debt that would take months to payoff, and that’s assuming nothing untoward crops up post-pregnancy that would require a person to request more “borrowed” time-off. The maternity care policies of America are abysmal. We let the employers dictate the terms because its in our capitalistic nature to do so instead of occasionally dipping into the humanistic pool, as though being financially considerate of new parents could possibly destroy our principal, for-profit system. Yeah…right.

So what would I do? Go back to work after my paid three months were up? Put E into full-time daycare, essentially to be raised and to bond with strangers? Or stay at home, losing credibility as a “current” professional in my field for every year I wasn’t working? Compromise between the two? Raise E for the first two or three years and then go back to work? Hoping I can get back in; applying to jobs that are a step or two down from my previous position?

At first I thought, yes, I will raise E for a few years and then jump back into it. And it was hard, man. So. Freakin’. Hard. The needs of a newborn vacillated between nothing, as she slept so much, to full on screaming for hours on end. Being a new mom was demanding if for no other reasons than 1) Babies do not come with manuals, I don’t give a damn how many baby books there are. There is no “one size fits all” baby. 2) Having a vagina in no way guarantees I know what to do either. I would go so far as to say most babies are guesswork / trial and error.

We get passed the worst of the freaky newborn months and head into the more predictable baby months, and I start to get bored. I wasn’t prepared for that, but I don’t know why I was surprised either. I went from an intellectually, stimulating environment – to goo goo, gaga. Raising a child is still demanding, but it’s manageable, like any job or career. Clearly, if offered the choice between raising children professionally, like a nanny, or being a counselor at a university as I had been, I would choose being a counselor. Parenting, as a day-to-day job, is not 100% fulfilling, like no job is 100% fulfilling – the point is – choosing the job that’s right for you means knowing that when you are engaging in the less than fulfilling parts, those parts are still part of the overall career that makes you more satisfied than not. I know there are going to be people out there that will intentionally misunderstand what I’m saying because he or she is hung up on their own bullshit, and that’s fine because I’m not looking for their approval or condemnation. Some people need more than what’s inside the home and I’m one of them, and I don’t apologize for it. I love being E’s mom, but I wouldn’t choose motherhood just for the sake of it either. I wouldn’t have kids just to have kids, and if you think such women don’t exist, you’d be wrong. I’ve met them and they will tell you that before having children, they didn’t have an identity. Damn, that makes me sad. I definitely have an identity, and being a mom is a relatively new fraction of it, a percentage of my overall being.

I remember in college, and as early as high school, teenage girls and young women going on and on about wanting children. They couldn’t wait, etc. And I remember thinking, ‘If that’s true then your future partner doesn’t matter. You could go out and get knocked up right now.’ I never saw having a baby as “having a baby.” I’ve always viewed the prospect of pregnancy as “having a person,” and I believe if more young women did that, they wouldn’t be so keen on having children. At the age of 32, having met and married my ideal partner, was when I was willing to consider bringing a child into the world. Until then, I wasn’t terribly convinced that I wanted any. Having a uterus does not obligate me to use it #TheHandmaidsTale.

In truth, I think, women are sold more on the idea of a wedding than a marriage. Women are sold more on the idea of having babies than raising a person, which in actuality, is what propagating the species is all about.

The pay off in raising my kid directly is that I see the best of myself in her. She questions me when she doesn’t understand a decision. She likes to do as much for herself as she is able; E takes pride in her independence. E is loud when she feels she’s been wronged. I kinda of think of her as a Louise Belcher (Bob’s Burgers) in training. I love these qualities in E and reminds me that the odds of her picking up these crucial qualities, qualities that I take pride in for myself as well as my kid, would have lowered considerably had I been taking her to daycare everyday. It’s not that E would never have learned them, but it would have taken longer and perhaps not learned with the same caliber. Whereas the negatives she’s picked up from me, like social anxiety, can be easily remedied by occasionally taking her to daycare now that she’s old enough to develop social bonds. E makes friends more easily now and demonstrates less stress around new people because of daycare. Her sociability will improve even more when she begins preschool in August.

I struggled so much in the first three years. There were days I resented being at home, feeling trapped with nothing to engage me at an adult level. But then, I decided it wasn’t having a kid that was causing the resentment, nor was it my decision to be a full-time parent – the resentment was a “me” problem. I am a smart person, and just because I was no longer being paid to be one didn’t mean I had to suspend my intellectual abilities all-together. I rediscovered writing. And how. One day, I looked back at my old college writing notes and rediscovered my old “ideas for a book”. With E going to daycare twice a week, I managed to write a book in eight months.

To my delight, I will be pursuing writing full-time when E begins preschool. As I had addressed in a previous blog, I had struggled with the idea of what to study in college and eventually chose psychology. Being a full-time parent allowed me the space to explore writing as I never could while knee-deep in my counseling career, and just didn’t have the time to while in college. I’m so grateful for that. If I had made any other choice, I wouldn’t have known so much reward: raising my kid directly was one, taking up writing was another.

ArmedWithCoffee.com

Austin, Texas

@gnrmuggle

PS – You will note the absence of the term “stay-at-home-mom.” It’s insulting as it is dismissive. “Full-time parent” has the weight and respect the job deserves, minus the assumed sex to boot.

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