Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful...

It is nice and chilly outside, which means running can be a bit of a pain. Frequently I wimp out and head to the indoor track or the treadmill for my longer runs. But, due to my hate extreme dislike of treadmills and running around a track, I can be seen running outside in the frigid winter. It does take some planning ahead, and you don't want to do it without being prepared. Here are some things to remember when braving the cold:

1. Wind chill temperatures can be dangerous. A good rule of thumb is to stay indoors whenever the wind chill dips below zero degrees.
2. Frequently the worst part of a cold run is the first mile or so, where your body is still trying to adjust. Try running your first mile on a treadmill, or warming up for 15 minutes on an elliptical, then heading out. That way your body has the blood flowing before stepping out in the cold.
3. Be sure to layer! Ideally your first layer should be something that helps keep moisture away from your body. The second layer can be a cotton fabric to take in the moisture, and the third should be something nylon or wind-resistant.
4. Keep extremities warm! Your head and your hands always need to be covered. Also, invest in some warm socks to keep your toes warm while you run.
5. Get out of your running clothes as soon as you get home. When you sit around in sweaty clothes, your body temperature will keep dropping. So take them off and go take a warm shower...it makes the whole run worth it!

Of course, always be smart about running outside. Be aware of snowy or icy conditions that should keep you inside.

                                                     A nice and chilly race day...Oct 2009

*Starting with the new year I will be mixing things up with my blog, making it a bit more personal for you and for me! So look forward to some changes in 2011, and have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Pillars

Have you ever heard of the three pillars to health? Can you guess what they are? Diet...Exercise...and Sleep. The first two are frequently addressed and most understand how a balanced diet and consistent exercise benefit their health. Sleep, however, isn't as accepted and practiced.

Sleep is critical for both the brain and the body. While sleeping, your brain consolidates memory and reduces psychological stress. What does it do for the body, though? It plays a large role in regulating metabolism and strengthening your immune system - two very essential things to health. Furthermore, according to the "Harvard Health News," consistent sleep deprivation causes weight gain by directing the body to store more carbohydrates.
This is because when you get a good night's sleep--at least 8 hours--your body produces the hormone leptin. This hormone helps regulate appetite and allows you to feel full and satisfied after a meal. Adequate rest also regulates the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite. Skimping on sleep is a double whammy...less leptin and more ghrelin...so you feel less satisfied after eating and eat more food more often.
Not enough sleep also effects energy level, which can frequently translate into your workout. When you are consistently not getting enough sleep, you most likely aren't getting much out of your workouts because you are so tired.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night is associated with increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.
So here are some tips for sleeping better:
1. set a regular bedtime and allow time to wind down before that set time so your body is ready to fall asleep
2. turn off the TV and avoid computer screens or doing active things less than an hour before you plan on going to bed
3. keep the temperature a bit cooler - your body does better cool than hot at night
4. encourage other people in your house to go to bed about the same time so there aren't unnecessary noises and stimulation going on

Sleep Tight!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Loosen Up

We talked about doing things to improve our posture, but now let's talk about what to do when you realize you haven't been sitting so straight. During stressful times we tend to hunch our shoulders, stick our heads out and tense our muscles. I especially find myself doing this as I study for big tests or spend hours at my computer writing papers. So here are some stretches to do to help you loosen up! I try to take a break at least once every hour, sometimes more if I find myself really tense, and I do some of these stretches. I promise it makes such a difference!

Back Rotations: These rotations help loosen the muscles around your spine. An easy way to do this is to stand in a door way about a foot away from the door frame, then rotate and grab the frame with both hands. Make sure you keep your feet flat and breathe out as you do it. And rotate to both sides!

Shoulder Rotations: This is probably my favorite. The key is to do exaggerated shoulder rotations in both directions. Be sure to do them slowly and at least 5 or 6 times in both directions. Then when you are done, let your shoulders sag all the way down to really let them relax.

Neck Rotations: To loosen up neck muscles, try this exercise. Sitting or standing tall, lean your head to your right shoulder so your ear is almost touching it. Then sag the opposite arm until you feel a stretch in your neck, and hold it for at least 10 seconds. Repeat this on the other side and you should feel a difference.

There are lots of other stretches to do for your back, shoulders and neck, but these are just a few to start with. Feel free to try some new ones if you are still feeling stiff!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Home Workout Equipment

Treadmills and ellipticals are great assets to your home when you want a good workout without having to go to a gym. But what do you do when you don't have the budget or the space for one of those pieces of exercise equipment? Here are some ideas:
  • jump rope: Jumping rope can burn up to 700 calories an hour! Now, jumping for an hour can be quite difficult. But it is a great idea to jump for 10- 15 minutes, then do some arm weights for 10 minutes (or push-ups, squats, lunges if you don't have weights), then back to jump roping, and so on. Do that for an hour and you will have an awesome workout! ($10-20)
  • resistance tubing: Resistance bands are great for a good workout if you don't have free weights. I even recommend switching between bands and weights if you have the option. You can usually buy different levels or resistance in one pack. From there, all you need is a place to hook the band and you have tons of options for arm, abs, and leg workouts! ($10-30)
  • medicine balls: You can get medicine balls in varying weights, usually ranging from 6 to 20 lbs. These can be used do to all kinds or workouts, targeting your legs and abs especially. ($15-30)
  • fitness balls: These are great for all around body workouts as well. You can use them by sitting on them and doing exercises, holding them, or laying on the ground and putting feet on the ball. They are a great addition to your workout equipment! ($10-20)
These are just a few ideas, but they are all worth the buy. Look into even buying some workout DVDs to go with the piece of equipment you bought. There are lots of workouts involving fitness balls and resistance bands out there. Or just get creative!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Party Tips

If you haven't gone to one already, a holiday party is probably right around the corner! Here are some party tips to keep you from over indulging and regretting it later.

1. Plan Ahead: Don't go to the party really hungry, but also make sure you are packing in veggies and low fat foods earlier in the day
2. Include Exercise Before You Go: Exercise will help you burn off those extra calories before eating them, as well as boosting your metabolism for the rest of the day
3. Mingle Away From the Food: Don't hang out near the snacks! You'll eat while you talk, which always results in eating more than you thought you were
4. Use a Plate: Allow yourself only one plate, and don't cover it and don't reuse it. With those rules, you will only pick the things you really want, and avoid the "okay" foods that just add extra calories
5. Take Half: If you are there with a friend or family member, split a cookie you both like or a certain dessert. That way you get the taste you want, but don't get all the extra fat and calories from a whole serving.
6. Don't Drink Your Calories: Eggnog, fruit punch, beer, wine and soda all are back with calories and sugar. Opt for the water and you'll save 200 calories easily
7. Stop Eating Early: The party might go on for hours, but set a time that you have to stop. If it's a dinner party, say you won't eat the snack in a couple hours after the dinner. By only eating at a certain time, and earlier in the evening, it allows your body to burn it off before you go home and saves you from mindless munching later because you are bored or with friends.
8. Keep Things In Perspective: If you do slip up at one part, recommit, make sure you eat well and exercise in the coming week, and for the next party try a little harder. Don't get down on yourself, but remember how it made you feel and move forward. Being too hard on yourself will hurt more than help!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Banana Nut Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast. It has fiber so it keeps you full, its a good carb, and you can add your own natural sweeteners instead of having added sugar like in cold cereals. Here is a recipe to try:
Banana Nut Oatmeal 
1 banana
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp walnuts (optional)
1 tbsp wheat germ (optional...but it adds fiber!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
Dash salt

Mash banana in a bowl. Mix in the oats; add the milk and microwave for 45 seconds. Add the nuts, wheat germ, vanilla, cinnamon, and honey. Microwave for another 45 seconds, or until oats are cooked and soak up all the liquid. Stir well; add a dash of salt. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Talking Yourself into Your Next Big Breakthrough

I read this article in the Rocky Mountain Running & Triathlon magazine and thought it was definitely worth sharing. Just like it takes training to get ready for a race, it takes training to keep self-talk positive and powerful.

Self-talk can provide affirmation and help athletes stay calm during times of stress such as when waiting at the starting line of a race or struggling through the last two miles of a run. So, then, what should you say to yourself and how should you say it? Lets take a look at two major mistakes and then the best principle I've found.
Probably the biggest mistake athletes make in their self-talk is using negative statements. For example, they may think, "Stop being a moron, I shouldn't be here" or "There are other people more capable than I." In the moment of performance these statements are frustrating and literally add insult to injury. You must never let negative and self-degrading thoughts enter your head. Imagine your thoughts are like a slide projector or a PowerPoint presentation; when a negative comment comes into your self-talk change the slide. Move on and refocus yourself with a more proactive comment such as "I've done the training, I can do this" or "Get to the next aid station."
Another mistake is using a negative word in a statement when it was meant well. A golfer who has to hit a shot over a water hazard might say "Don't hit it into the water, carry the hazard." While this statement might seem like a focused one, the mistake is the word "don't." Hazards, barriers, and other challenging components to athletic competitions are there to distract competitors, and acknowledging the hazard can cause panic or a loss of focus on the task at hand. A better thought would be "make a smooth swing" or "follow through!" These are more useful and impactful statements that require focus on the process and the task at hand. In endurance sports, change the focus from "don't get lapped or passed" to "run within, make good strides".
Some of the most effective self-talk comes in the form of mantras or phrases that athletes can take solace in during hard portions of training or racing. While struggling up a hill during a road race, and athlete might say "calm, cool, collected" over and over to himself. To settle pre-race nerves, a former collegiate teammate of mine would always say "relax, breathe, and believe". These phrases aim to refocus the athlete and help them remain calm and to focus on the task at hand - starting or finishing any race or training session strong!
So remember, next time you self-talk, keep it positive and task-directed. You might be surprised at what you can talk yourself through or into doing.

By: Stephen P. Gonzalez, M.S.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Straighten Up!

Did you know that bad posture can mess with your whole system? It stresses and strains muscles and joints, as well as compressing blood vessels and it can drain your energy. And for any one trying to fight off age related skeletal changes, standing tall helps you preserve range of motion and stay young!
From the magazine Home Journal, here are three of the six most common bad-posture moments in your day, and some quick fixes for each of them!

1. Working At Your Computer: Most people hunch over their keyboard and point their head down, especially laptop users. Get this...every inch your head projects forward puts an added 10 pounds of pressure on your neck! This can trigger headaches and lower-back pain. Here is how you can fix it
  • Sit smart - your thighs and torso should form a 90 degree angle and both feet should be flat on the floor
  • Make your lap off-limits - The lower your computer or laptop, the more you head is pointed down
  • Don't overreach - Elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and wrists in a neutral position
  • Take a breather - every 30 minutes, get up to stretch and walk around
2.  Talking On The Phone: There is such a thing as cell-phone elbow! People tend to cradle the phone between their neck and shoulder even if it is in their hand. This compresses the nerves and blood vessels in the shoulders and elbows which leads to headaches and arm pain. Here are your quick fixes
  • Check yourself out - monitor how you look while on the phone by glancing in a mirror, then make some changes
  • Stretch away tension - stretch your neck out by tilting your head so your ear is near your shoulder and letting the opposite arm hang down
3. Carrying Your Bag: The cute oversize bag trend is still here, and your body is hurting from it. Lugging a heavy bag around on one shoulder can cause misalignment over time. Try these fixes
  • Lug less stuff - if your shoulder or back starts hurting after 10 minutes or you are sore by the end of the day, lighten the load
  • Share the burden - make an effort to switch your purse from shoulder to shoulder to avoid weighing down one side of your body
  • Take a load off - if there are days where you know you need to carry more, give your shoulders a rest and use a wheeled bag or carry more than one bag

Friday, December 3, 2010

Routines

Consistency is key to implementing any new goal in your life. That is why developing a routine that works for your schedule, your fitness abilities and your goals is so important. Even though I have been exercising every day for years, at the beginning of each week I sit down a write out what I want to do each day. I write everything down that I want to accomplish in a given workout. For example, one day would look something like this: 30 minute sprint intervals, 25 minute shoulder and arm lift.

Habits are reinforced and learned through repetition and memory.

This week, sit down and write out what you want to accomplish each day. Maybe one day is a long run, another is 45 minutes of yoga and the next is a full hour of weights. Or start with one day of an alternating walk/run for 40 minutes, another day is yoga and another is 45 minutes on the elliptical. If your body isn't used to exercise, be sure to space out the harder workouts with less impact exercises. That doesn't mean easy, just use different muscles on different days to allow recovery.

Always keep in mind, too, that unplanned things can happen. So if something comes up where you can't make it to the gym that day, switch the workout with one from another day that you do at home. Or maybe you wake up and it's snowing so going for a run won't work. Don't take that as an excuse to not workout. Simply look at your written plan, and mix things up a bit.

Writing things down makes you accountable, and even better...crossing things off a list feels great! So plan away my friends!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In the Zone

How many times have you heard people talk about making sure you are in the "fat burning zone" or the "cardio zone" when you exercise? There are even modes on elliptical and bikes designed for these special zones! What has been assumed is that you have to exercise and low intensity levels in order to burn fat. Lets pick apart this myth, shall we?

First off, there is some truth to it. How many calories you burn during a given workout is directly related to intensity level. Furthermore, fat is the main source of energy during low intensity workouts. That is where people got the idea that they should exercise at low intensity to burn more fat.

Just for your information, when people do talk about fat burning and cardio zones, they are referring to heart rate. You are in the fat burning zone when you're heart rate is below 70% of your max. Then as you exercise consistently above 70% of your max, your body starts using carbohydrates as the primary source of fuel. This kind of exercise burns lots of calories.


 So what's the conclusion? Real weight loss and fat loss comes from expending more calories than you consume. Therefore, you should concentrate more on burning calories than working out at a low intensity. Unless you have a large amount of time, I would recommend just kicking it into gear for a good, intense 45 minutes workout. Or better yet, interval workouts get your body to work in both zones. So mix it up, push yourself, and see the results. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweet Poison

**Before taking any credit for the title of this post, or the majority of the information I have below, I would like to direct you to this link. But I am going to incorporate information I already know, as well as some of the information I got from that sight. 
I love that she calls aspartame sweet poison. To start out, though, what exactly is aspartame? Aspartame is a dangerous chemical food additive. Furthermore, it is most devastating to children and women that are pregnant. But beyond that, it harms everyone, no matter what age you are.
The problem with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame is this: when we eat sugar, our body registers sweetness and comes to understand that very sweet things mean lots of calories. When you drink or eat things with artificial sweeteners (like diet soda), your body thinks “here’s the sweetness, but there aren’t many calories – that must mean I have to eat a lot of sweet things to get my needed calories.” Then the next time you are given something sweet to eat, your body doesn’t recognize how many calories it is getting, so you eat more and your body doesn’t try as hard to burn those calories.

Despite that harmful side effect, what's worse is the fact that aspartame dissolves in solution, so it is carried through our whole body. Therefore, it can effect us in a range of ways that most people would never attribute to eating something with an artificial sweetener.
Here are just some of the side effects:
Eyes: pain, decreased vision, blurry vision or decreased tear production
Neurologic: headaches, dizziness, hyperness, restless legs
Psychological: depression, anxiety, insomnia
Gastrointestinal: abdominal pain, nausea

So a lot of these are pretty generic symptoms, right? I think the main point is that a lot of the day to day aches and pains that we seem to be getting more and more frequently could be a result of what we are eating. Actually, most likely they are. When you are filling your body with things with artificial sweeteners and preservatives, our bodies don't know what to do with it, so it reacts. So next time you don't feel so great after eating, think about what you ate and try to make some changes. Avoid "sugar free" things, or foods that have a long shelf life. Your body will thank you!


*Aspartame is only one of many artificial sweeteners. Take some time to do some research and find out all the names this "poison" can hide behind, so when you look at ingredients you will know!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Drinking Away Your Immune System

I taught a nutrition class a couple weeks ago and the topic of soda came up. To get one thing straight, I think the best thing to do when it comes to soda is not drink it at all, ever. I will explain why below. But further, I understand some people like to have a sweet drink on a special occasion. So I will also talk about a different option that has pure ingredients and is much better for you than regular (or diet) soda.

Why soda is harmful to our bodies:
First of all, drinking soda has been proven to suppress your immune system. So much so, that after just one can, your immune system is impaired for 5 hours after because of the high levels or sugar that impair your white blood cell function. That being said, if you are drinking soda frequently, your body is losing it's ability to fight away disease and illness more and more each time you drink some. Also, soft drink consumption has been proven to be a huge factor in causing osteoporosis. This is because soft drinks have long been suspected of leading to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate levels are high and calcium levels are low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. The phosphate content of soft drinks like Coca - Cola and Pepsi is very high, and they contain virtually no calcium. Furthermore, the relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.
These are only a few of the problems, but to sum it up, in the words of MD Barnet Meltzer:
"But soft drinks are far from soft. High in phosphorous and phosphoric acid, they infiltrate bodily fluids and corrode stomach linings, upset the alkaline-acid balance of the kidneys, and eat away at your liver. Soft drinks also contain hidden caffeine, refined sugar, and artificial chemicals."

So, again, I would ask that you really try to take soda out of your life. It will benefit you tremendously! But, if you need a sweet drink, try Gus Grown-Up Soda. It is 100% natural, with no preservatives or caffeine and not as sweet as regular soda since it is sweetened with natural cane sugar. You can find it at most health food stores. So give it a try!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

So I've already posted a couple recipes using pumpkin, and this time of year pumpkin desserts and foods are quite common. They sure do taste good, but what's even better is that pumpkin has some health benefits to go along with the great taste! However, it doesn't make it okay to eat that second piece of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving...just do you know :)

 
Canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, is full of vitamins and minerals, meets a vegetable requirement and, as an antioxidant-rich vegetable, offers other health benefits.
- Nutrient-Rich: Canned pumpkin is a nutrient-rich food. It is low in calories and fat, and relatively high in fiber. It is a good source of Vitamin A, like other orange vegetables, and also contains two trace minerals, iron and manganese.
- Protects the Heart: Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor responsible for its deep orange color. Beta-carotene offers powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so it's beneficial for heart health.
- Vegetable Serving: Because of hour nutrient dense it is, with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, it definitely counts as a serving of vegetable. But! Beware of eating it with tons of sugar...it can cancel out all the goodness!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cycling

It is getting a bit cooler outside, which for me means indoor cycling classes! When it starts to get chilly, I'm still able to get my runs in outside, but biking is just too cold for me. So I hit the cycling room ready for a killer workout - and that is what I get! If you are looking for something new to do that will really burn calories, and it doesn't involve layers of clothing outside in the cold, these classes are perfect! Here are answers to some common questions:

What is Indoor Cycling?
Indoor cycling is an intense workout done on special stationary bikes that works the lower body while giving you your cardio workout. It focuses on the quads, glutes and hamstrings, as well as the core. Frequently, classes will simulate hills, sprints, and intervals into different rides.
Do I need special shoes to cycle?
Serious cyclists like to have cycling shoes that allow them to clip into the pedal. It allows better work distribution between the hamstrings and the quadriceps. These shoes are nice if you will be biking long distances frequently, but for indoor classes they aren't necessary. Normal gym goes work just fine!
Can I do it if I'm a beginner?
The nice thing about cycling is that all the classes are multi-level, since you determine your resistance and how fast/hard you peddle. Make sure your instructor knows that it is your first time, and take things slower than the rest of the class. Know that you will build up, but at first you might not go 100% and might end a little early. The next time you can try a little more.
How do I prevent saddle soreness?
First of all, if you are a beginner don't go the whole time, and expect to be sore. But don't let that stop you from going again! Also, be sure to engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize the hips as your ride and prevent excess bouncing in your seat. Make sure you are riding on the back of the seat and keep your core tight. And always take time to to a "standing jog" on the bike to give your tush a break through the class. Just remember that if you get sore, the best way to get through it is keep moving and exercising. Take a few days off the bike, but keep running or doing other things to keep your muscles moving.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles

Here is a healthy version of some yummy pumpkin waffles! Enjoy!


Pumpkin Waffles

Ingredients

3 cups whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups milk

Directions

Preheat waffle iron. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with organic brown sugar. Blend in pumpkin, milk, and applesauce. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir just until ingredients are moist. Do not over beat. Bake in waffle iron for about 7 minutes. 
*I got the recipe from here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Beat the Junk


We are well into the holiday season, a time when every occasion is associated with sweets and treats. Although you might be staying on top of your goal to only eat a small treat every once in a while, once you eat one treat your body starts to crave that sugar again. So here are some tips on how to beat the junk food cravings so you don't keep eating those sweets!

1. Check your mood before you eat - If you are extreme on either end, sad or happy, people tend to eat. They either eat to make up for something, or eat to celebrate. Change that and go to a friend, go on a walk, or allow yourself a little more me time instead of eating.

2. Don't skip meals - When you skip meals, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugar more because your body thinks that is what it needs. It really just needs good meals at consistent times

3. Plan ahead - If you know you are going to a party, plan ahead how much you will eat. Once you ate that much, put a stick of gum in your mouth so you don't eat more. Also, tell friends or family about how much you want to eat. Another thing is to not eat as much throughout the day, and definitely pack in the veggies and good fruits and grains during the day, so you aren't over doing it in your calorie intake.

4. Drink lots of water - Any time you are drinking calories or carbonation, it isn't a good thing. So stick with water, and drink lots of it!

5. Improve on the original - If you are really craving your favorite desert, it is better to either make a batch and only eat one, then give the rest away, or try to find a healthier recipe for that dessert. Can you substitute whole wheat flour for white, or substitute honey for sugar, or reduce the fat used? The best thing still though, is to only allow yourself a small portion, and get the rest out of sight!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fit to Run

Running, if not done correctly, can either injure you, slow you down, or just make the whole experience horrible! Here are some tips on correct running technique to consider on your next run.

1. Keep your head and eyes up. Don't watch your feet...they will keep moving without watching them! It helps you relax and increases oxygen uptake
2. Relax those shoulders! This is one of the major mistakes people make, and usually without even realizing it. When your body gets tired or tense, you naturally tense your shoulders. Make a conscious effort to keep your shoulders relaxed, hanging loosely. If you need to, do some shoulder rolls to get our some tension.
3. Don't lean your torso forward. You want to lean your body more forward than back, but keep your torso from leaning forward and bending at the hips. Run tall with your back and torso upright. It keeps your hips in line and prevents tension from going places you don't want it.
4. Keep your arms relaxed and in a good rhythm. Don't bring them up high, just keep your elbow at a relaxed 90 degree angle and move arms back and forth - be sure to not let your arms cross your body. Arm movement helps propel legs forward when done correctly.
5. Imagine yourself gliding and skimming the ground. If you picture yourself moving in a smooth motion with both your legs and arms relaxed and in the correct place, and your legs gliding evenly back and forth, your body will be fit to run! So imagine it, and do it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Debate

So once you make it to the gym, you're warmed up and ready to lift, where do you start? Machines? Free Weights? What are the benefits of each of them? Which one is better for you? Well, here's some info on both. From there, you determine which best fits your workout. Most likely, though, it is good to do both and mix it up!

Benefits of Machine Weights:
Almost all the time when you go to lift with a machine weight, there are instructions on the machine regarding position and technique. This can definitely come in handy when using it for the first time. They also allow for a quicker workout once you know the settings you need. The trick is just remembering! So when you go, write down the weight, height of the seat and other information needed. From there you can hop on and off machines. They can also be convenient when you go to the gym alone and can't do lifts with a spotter - you don't need one with machine weights! Another advantage is that machine weights are better at delivering consistent weight on the muscle through the whole lift.

Benefits of Free Weights:
Free weights do a better job at integrating core conditioning into a strength-training workout, since you have to use balance while lifting. They also allow for a greater variety of lifts and movement patterns. You can work both arms and legs, for example, by doing a bicep curl with a lung. Another advantage is the greater range of weight. As opposed to machines that increase by 10 lbs, free weights allow slower progression and "in between" weights. You can also benefit from free weights because each arm becomes responsible for a given weight, whereas on machines, the stronger arm can take more of the weight designated. 

Clearly, both have their benefits. So mix it up, and figure out what you like best! Just keep working those muscles!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Music Madness

It is a good idea to mix up your workouts. Doing different things benefits both your mind and body.
When you do the same workouts, your muscles become used to those movements and they don't have to work as hard because muscle memory allows them to adjust to the workout more quickly. By mixing it up, your muscles have to adjust to new ways your body is moving, which then allows your muscles to build in different and new ways. It can result in soreness, but make sure to stretch and keep working out...those things are most effective in reducing soreness.
Also, by doing new things, you won't get bored! When you get bored, you don't work as hard and you don't get as much out of your work outs. So mix it up to keep in top shape!

Here is a new workout to try:
Whether you are running, walking or on the eliptical, you can apply this. On an ipod, make a play list of slow and fast songs...about 20 fast workout songs to 7 slow songs. Put the ipod on shuffle, and go! When a fast song is playing, either run, sprint, power walk, up the tension on an elipitcal or increase the incline on the treadmill. You can mix up what you do during the fast songs, but make sure your heart is beating faster than normal, so you are pushing your body to do new things. When a slow song comes on, this is a recovery song. Slow down a bit, but not too much. Let your heart rate come down enough that you can carry on a conversation with someone next to you, but not for a long time. Go through this for 30 - 45 minutes. Have fun!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Cake!

Yes! It is that time of year that pumpkin desserts are abundant! Here is a
yummy pumpkin cake that I made for my family. I found the original
recipe in a Rachael Ray magazine, but changed it a little to make it more
healthy. My family enjoyed it, so you should try it too!

Pumpkin Cake:
1 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. honey
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 eggs separated
5 egg whites at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. canned pure pumpkin puree

1. preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 c honey, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the 4 egg yolks and pumpkin puree. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture until smooth.
2. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the remaining 9 egg whites at medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. With the machine on, gradually whisk in the 1/2 c sugar; increase the speed to high and beat until stiff but still moist, about 2 minutes.
3. Add one-quarter of the egg white mixture to the pumpkin batter, folding with a rubber spatula just until no streaks remain. Fold in the remaining egg white mixture the same way. Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.
4. Let cool in the cake pan for 5 minutes, then take it out and place on a cooling wrack or plate for about an hour to completely cool. Enjoy!

**Instead of making it into cake, I divided the mixture into muffin tins...it made about 24 muffins. On half I put a few chocolate chips on top prior to baking. When you put them on top and not mixed in, you use less and then I left some without for those that didn't want chocolate. I cooked the muffins for about 30 - 35 minutes, depending on your oven.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Got Nutmeg?

I came across this article and thought it was pretty interesting. A lot of times we talk about foods that have health benefits, but not so much the spices we can add to foods. And since it is fall, nutmeg is a nice, warm spice that can be added in lots of recipes. So enjoy this bit of information and add some spice to your life!

4 HEALTH BENEFITS OF NUTMEG:
1. It zaps zits: Got a blemish? Mix a little milk with ground nutmeg to form a paste, then aply it to the trouble spot. Its ant-inflammatory effects will help reduce the redness and puffiness.

2. It soothes tummies:
Sprinkle a little on top of your morning oatmeal--it can can help regulate your GI tract, say experts.

3. It may help you catch more zzzs:
Drink a glass of warm milk with a dash of nutmeg--the perfect sleep-inducing cocktail says Micahel Murray, ND, co-author of The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.

4. It helps relieve tooth pain:
Nutmeg oil on the gums may help reduce tooth aches and sore gums, say experts.

Monday, October 18, 2010

GET IT!

We are coming upon the time of year that is known for consuming calories and eating treats for every holiday and event we attend. Frequently diets are forgotten, weight is gained and people just settle in for the winter. But I have a challenge for you! Don't wait for January to start a new resolution. Start TODAY! That is right, before Halloween, before Thanksgiving, before Christmas and New Years. Start a fresh way of living, including healthy diet and regular exercise. Allow yourself a treat every once in a while, but don't indulge and don't miss a day exercising. It will really make this the "most wonderful time of the year!" You won't stress about gaining weight and feeling sluggish. You will be high energy and feeling great as you spend time with family. Try it...you'll thank me :)

Here are some steps to getting healthy...which remember, you are starting TODAY!
GET IT:
G - goal setting
Set realistic goals that can be broken down into monthly or weekly achievements. Make sure your goal is written down, measurable and realistic. For this time of year, set goals like eating 5 fruits and vegetables every day, only allow a small dessert once a week (or ever 2 weeks is better!!), and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise in 6 days this week.
E - excitement
You have to have emotion tied to your goals. If it allows, give yourself a reward for meeting your goals, such as buying a new workout shirt or going to a movie. (Don't reward yourself with food...ever!)
T - tracking
Tracking your goal is key to reaching it. It gives you the confidence to know you are ready and able for the challenges ahead.
I - information
Information is the key to understanding the best way to get something done. Talk to healthy friends, a personal trainer, or other professionals to know how much you should be eating, what changes need to be made, and new ideas of workouts
T - team
Every winning program has a team of support. Make sure family and friends know your goals, so they can help you and remind you when you want to cheat a little. Don't do it!

Remember you are the only one that can make the changes happen...and you can do it. So start today!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Musclehead, Powerlifter, or Toner


When people think of lifting weights, the big bulky powerlifter comes to mind. You know what I'm talking about...the bulky muscles in tight sleeveless shirts at the gym grunting as they lift 75 lbs. kettle balls.
But I have good news for you! Lifting weights isn't just about building 20-inch biceps. In fact, for most women, it's not about that at all, since resistance training may be the single most effective way to lose fat and look great. Even more than that, the benefits of lifting extend into nearly every aspect of your health and well-being. Basically, you'd have to be crazy not to lift weights—even if bigger biceps are the last thing you want!
Lifting gives everyone the upper edge of everything - over belly fat, stress, diabetes, body image...the list goes on! Here are some ways that lifting helps you look great, stay healthy, and live a full and long life!

1. You'll lose 40% more fat! Muscle burns fat and helps burn the sugars in food. If you weight train as you diet, you'll protect your hard-earned muscle and burn more fat instead.
2. You'll burn more calories! Both during your workout of lifting and for a while after. As your muscle repairs from lifting, it is burning calories.
3. Your clothes will fit better! This is because even if you aren't gaining weight on the scale, as we age, muscle gets converted to fat as we don't use it. Fat is more flabby than muscle, which shows more under your clothes.
4. You'll build stronger bones! Just like muscle, you lose bone mass as you age. But putting pressure on the bone in a normal way, like when lifting, increases bone strength to help prevent injury in the future.
5. You'll shrug off jet lag! Strength training helps your body adjust faster to a change in time zones or work shifts.
6. You'll sleep better! Like other exercise, when you lift hard, your body rests better when it's time to go to bed.
7. You're diet will improve! Lifting weights provides a double dose of fat-loss fuel: On top of burning calories, exercise helps your brain stick to a diet.
8. You'll add years to your life! Get strong to live long. Muscle protects so much in your body, and enables proper growth and movement for the future.
9. You'll handle stress better! Break a sweat in the weight room and you'll stay cool under pressure. Researchers have found that the blood pressure levels of people with the most muscle returned to normal the fastest after a stressful situation, compared to those who had the least muscle.
10. You'll be happier! Not only because your body is looking great, but because any type of exercise increases endorphins, which make everyone feel good.

So get out there and start lifting! Don't forget how essential it is that you do cardio as well, so work your heart muscle and continue to burn calories and increase endurance. But both are so important and so necessary!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is Your Thinking Holding You Back?

How many diets have you tried? Can you count them on more than one hand? If so, there might be more to the problem than just the unrealistic eating schedule they put you on that can never last. (That's why you do something like I talked here!) But here is another hint...your mind has to be ready to diet just like your body does. Even further, just like you need to hit the gym every day and exercise your body, you need to work your mind to be at it's peak to lose the weight. The key? Think like a thin person.
Everyone can admit to starting a diet and then having those thoughts such as "I can't diet when I'm stressed" or "I know I shouldn't eat this, but it's my birthday/Thanksgiving/Groundhog Day/fill-in-the-blank day". Then the diet quickly goes down the drain.

The first trick is to get the idea out of your head that once you are off the diet, you can eat whatever you want. Talk to anyone that has gone through a diet, and for it to be affective it must be a life style change. You might be able to cheat a bit more as long as you take more time in the gym, but never will you be able to go back to your ways prior to losing the weight. Thin people are aware of what they eat at all times, not in an obsessive way, but a way that keeps them in check of not eating too much of the wrong things.

The second trick is to learn to allow yourself to be hungry. Nothing will happen if you don't eat right when you feel hungry. In fact, drink a big glass of water to make sure it is hunger and not thirst. Then wait a bit, plan in your head what healthy snack you will eat once you have spent some time being hungry. This will help distinguish between cravings and real hunger.

Finally, an initial trick when starting a diet involves creating a plan for the first week or two and not changing it AT ALL. Eat exactly what you planned, with the exact number of calories you should eat and the times you should eat. This is when a personal trainer comes in handy to help figure out the number of calories needed and how to get the right calories.

Everyone has the ability to change their life. It is just getting all aspects of the process in line...the body and mind need to be ready and need to work for your benefit. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oh Those Gym-less Days

Let's face it, there are days we just can't make it into the gym for our full workout that we need. That being said, don't just allow yourself to not do anything! Go for a long walk, play outside with your kids or take a bike ride around the neighborhood to get your heart pumping. In addition to that, here are some toning exercises you can do every day right inside your home. Do them whenever you have a second!

For your arms, try push-ups. Everyone cringes at that word, but they aren't too bad. If you can't do them on your toes, move to your knees. Remember though, that if you are on your knees, you need to be going deep into the push-up to get the most out of it. But mix up where your arms are...try some wide arms, standard width and then in close. All of those tone different parts of your arm. Try to do as many as you can for 3 reps.
Chair dips work the triceps on the back of the upper arms. They can be done with one or two chairs, depending on your level. To make it harder, try a chair under your arms and your feet. For beginners, just one chair under your arms. Stand in front of one chair with the other in front of you. Bend down and place your hands on the sides of the chair while propping your heels up on the other chair. Slowly lower and raise your body by bending your elbows. Without two chairs, do the same but with your feet on the ground.



As for your legs...here are a few to try! A leg pull front is an exercise that targets the thighs, back and abs. It is usually seen in Pilates. Sit on the 
floor with your legs straight, hands by your hips and fingers facing forward. Slowly lift your hips off the floor and form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Keeping your arms fully extended, lift your right leg as high as possible and hold for three to five seconds. Slowly lower your leg, repeat with your left leg and alternate back and forth.
Squats and lunges work the quads and hamstrings and glutes, all major muscles in your legs. To do squats, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower and lift your body by bending your knees. Lunges work the same leg muscles as squats, except they are done with your feet in a split stance. Lower yourself down until both knees form 90-degree angles, stand up and repeat. To make these more challenging, add some hand weights. Try to do about three sets of 10-15

Last of all, here are some ab exercises. At home you can do things such as the bicycle maneuvers, scissor kicks, reverse crunches, long lever crunches and crunch ups. To do crunch ups, lie on your back with your legs lifted straight in the air and arms parallel to your legs. Steadily lift your shoulders off the floor, reach for your toes and squeeze your abs forcefully. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat. With abs, do as many as you can until you think you need to stop, and then do 5 more. Take a rest, and try again.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Shin Splint Help

Running is one of the best calorie burners in the realm of exercise. It gets your heart beating fast and gets your body moving. However, it is also very common to get injured running. A frequent complaint among runners, especially those who have just started running after a break or are just beginning, are shin splints. Shin splints occur when the muscles and tendons in the lower leg cause stress and trauma to the tibia bone after extensive running, overuse or exercising on hard surfaces. Here are some tips on how to avoid painful shin splints:
1. Make sure you are running in good shoes. No matter what type of feet you have, if your shoes are old or not supporting your arch the right way, shin splints are inevitable.
2. Always try to warm up your leg muscles a bit before running. This can be done by a light jog or brisk walk for five minutes before your run. Getting blood flow to your legs will help decrease the impact from running.
3. Stretch! If you want to stretch before a run, make sure to do it after a light warm up. The most important time to stretch is after your run. Your muscles are nice and warm, but by stopping quickly after running, your muscles can tighten up quickly.
4. Strengthening your calve muscle and the muscles in front of your leg. You can do this by doing calve raises on stairs.
To strengthen the muscles in the front of your lower leg, have a friend hold down your feet and then lift your toes into the air against this resistance
5. Be sure to minimize impact on your legs as much as you can. If you have the option to do your long runs on a surface other than concrete, try to do that. Asphalt is even a better option than concrete. Also, don't increase mileage too fast, and be sure to do cross-training on your days off of running. Mixing up how you use your leg muscles will help increase strength overall. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Secret


I was reading Reader's Digest the other day and came across an article titled "Foods That Fight Back Pain". It caught my attention, mostly because back pain is a common complaint among people, young and old. In summary, these are the foods that were recommended: vegetables and fruits, nuts, green tea, salmon, and olive oil. They also recommended eating less vegetable oils, margarine, processed foods and foods made with trans fat.
The next day I came across a different article online about foods that help fight cancer. These foods consisted of: fish, broccoli, tomatoes, grapes, cranberries and tea.
This sort of made me chuckle. The lists were QUITE similar. Why? Because those foods are the ones you should eat every day, whether you have health problems or not! Articles are coming out every day about certain foods we can eat to help stop disease, prevent injury, help us sleep better or just give us a boost. The thing is, the foods are all generally the same: good fats, high in vegetables and fruits, whole grains and avoid processed foods and sugars. It isn't a secret! Eating like that every day leads to a healthy life. There is no guarantee for perfect health and no physical problems. But there will be improvements seen if you make the effort to change your eating habits. Decide today to eat better and to live better!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vitamins and Minerals

Are you ever wondering which vitamins you should be taking? Or why you need to? A lot of times people assume they are getting enough vitamins in what they eat, but unless they are extremely diligent in eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, as well as getting outside, it is hard to get everything. Here is a quick overview of some essential vitamins and why we need them.

*Water-soluble: Vitamins that desolve in water. These vitamins are easily destroyed or washed out during food storage or preparation. It's important we get these every day since they are often washed out of our body.
*Fat-soluble: Vitamins dissolve in fat before they are absorbed in the blood stream to carry out their functions.

B-Vitamin: There are 8 different B Vitamins. Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily absorbed in your body. One of its biggest and most important functions is breaking down the carbohydrates from the food we eat and turning them into sugar glucose. Vitamin B also plays a large role in helping the nervous system to properly function. Vitamin B2 or riboflavin, as it is commonly called, is great for breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats and converting them into the energy our body needs. Vitamin B2 and B3 are both good for giving us healthy looking skin. Vitamin B6 helps to promote healthy red blood cells that help fight disease.
Vitamin C: An essential water-soluble vitamin that has lots of important functions. It acts as an antioxidant and can also protect against heart disease by reducing stiffness of arteries. It is also needed to make collagen which strengthens your body (such as muscles), and also plays a role in healing as an antihistamine.
Calcium: A mineral that is crucial in things like neurotransmission, muscle contraction and heart function. It makes up to 2% of body weight, mostly in the bones. It helps build and maintain bones and teeth.
Magnesium: A mineral that is used by the body to help maintain muscles, nerves and bones. It is also used in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It is needed for making new cells, activating vitamin B, and relaxing muscles. Magnesium is also needed for the production and use of insulin.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes absorption and use of calcium and phosphate for healthy bones. It has been called the "sunshine vitamin" because you can get it from the sun through your skin. Recent research has come out to make us aware that the majority of people aren't getting enough vitamin D, and it could be effecting overall health. It is known to help maintain immune system health and cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that adequate levels of vitamin D can help brain function and decrease effects of depression.
Potassium: An essential mineral that is needed to regulate water balance, levels of acidity and blood pressure. It works with sodium-potassium in the cell to transmit messages and regulate the contraction of muscles.

These are just a few of the many we need. We do get some from what we eat, but if you are getting sick frequently or just always feeling sluggish, investing in a good multi-vitamin could help you in many ways. Always look for information regarding what vitamins are best for you to take, how much and how often, before starting new supplements. Make sure when you do find one to try though, that there isn't unnecessary sugar added.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Whiter the Bread...

From the time I was young, one of my dad's favorite sayings has been "the whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead!" Obviously, I've grown up in a house where we eat wheat bread, and I love it! But here are some things everyone should know about the truth of white bread...

1. Understand how the Rate of Digestion Affects Energy

To understand the nature of sugar in white bread and its affect on health, it helps to know the fundamentals of digestion. In essence, some foods digest faster than others and consequently release sugar more rapidly into the bloodstream. This is called the glycemic index of foods.

The more refined and processed a food is, the higher its glycemic index and the faster sugars present in those foods are absorbed. When the blood sugar level is too high, the body reacts by pumping insulin from the pancreas into the system, which leads to a lower energy level after the initial sugar high. For many people who feel fatigue, this is the cause. Over time, it can overstress the pancreas and lead to Type II diabetes.

2. Know the Difference
With white bread, the portions of the wheat grain that would slow digestion--the nutritious, fiber-rich bran and germ--are removed in processing, causing the starchy, sugary part to get absorbed most quickly. The much better alternative is 100% whole grain bread, which also contains full portions of native nutrients that are diminished or removed from white bread: calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and Pyridoxine.

3. Read the Label
For years, people eating "wheat bread" were misled into thinking that they were getting something nutritionally superior to white bread. In fact, those breads were processed flour missing the bran and germ but enhanced with brown food coloring. The words "100% whole grain" should appear on the product package. Since 2005, baking companies have begun marketing "white whole wheat" breads, creating some confusion in the marketplace. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed suit with one manufacturer that in fact is using refined white flour in combination with whole grain. "The intent is to confuse consumers, who are denied the nutrition they think they are paying for," says CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner.

4. Other Benefits
In addition to a favorable glycemic factor, whole grain breads, pastas and other baked goods provide benefits to diabetics and anyone interested in generally good health and weight management. The dietary fiber creates a feeling of fullness that is non-caloric, something referred to as energy density. Eating foods with lower density (whole grain foods, as well as fiber-rich fruits and vegetables) digest more slowly so the urge to eat again happens later rather than sooner.

5. Switching can Spell a big Difference
An Australian study found that people who ate the most white bread (average: 17 slices per week) had the highest risk of diabetes. Tellingly, people who still had high sugar consumption via fruit had a lower risk. "Changing bread type may be a more acceptable dietary change than one requiring a whole new eating pattern," researchers wrote in Diabetes Care magazine (November 2004).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Breakfast of Champions!

I actually made this dinner for my family, and it seemed to go over well. I got the recipe for the pancakes from my friends blog which I love to read. Then the rest I pieced together based on things I can eat and are healthy, but still taste good. We had German pancakes, a veggie omelet and a green smoothie. Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?!

German Pancakes:
2 tablespoons butter
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Directions
Preheat oven to 400*F. Melt butter. Pour half of butter into 9"x13" baking pan. Using your washed hands, spread butter over bottom and sides of pan. This works better than cooking spray. In a separate bowl beat eggs well. Then add four and mix well with. If you don't do this before adding the other ingredients it will not mix well! Add the remaining ingredients including the second half of the butter and mix well. Pour into the greased baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy with honey, fruit, or light syrup! (They pop up on the sides of the pan in the oven, as seen in the picture, and then they will go down.)

 Veggie Omelet:Chop up as many veggies as you want and the amount you would like. I used tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. Add those to a hot buttered pan on the stove and let them cook for a couple minutes. Then add your beaten eggs on top (I used 5). Let it sit until it starts to bubble, then flip it over. The second side always cooks faster. When it's done, put it on a plate and sprinkle with a little cheese. Serve it in slices!
 
Green Drink:
We have lots of frozen fruit, so I used frozen strawberries in this drink, along with a banana. It is best to use frozen spinach, but we only had fresh, so earlier that day I filled up a gallon bag of spinach and stuck it in the freezer for about 3 hours until it was slightly frozen. When it is time to eat, first blend the frozen spinach with about a 1/2 c. of water. Once that has gone down, add the frozen fruit, and blend again. Then add the banana and a little milk if you'd like, or a bit more water (depending on consistency you'd like). Then serve and enjoy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Healthy Tips and Tricks to Live By


- keep sweet treats and salty snacks out of sight today. They don’t have to be forbidden foods, but occasional foods that will only turn into everyday foods of they are in plain sight!
- brush your teeth after dinner to keep you from eating more
- don’t say anything negative about your physical shape or size today, only think of your positive attributes
- make sure that every serving of food you eat today can fit in the palm of your hand
- Listen to your body: make sure you are actually hungry when you eat, and stop when you are only SATISFIED. If you aren’t sure if you’re hungry, have a big glass of water and then see if you are still hungry
- only eat healthy fats : in fish, nuts, olives, avocados, natural peanut butter
- Take the long way: ditch the escalators, elevators, remote controls, and parking close to stores
- Pick a goal and write three reasons why you want to accomplish it. Post the list somewhere that you will see it every day
- eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day, preferably in a 2 to 3 ratio
- eat six small meals each day instead of three big ones. That way when you are eating, don’t indulge in anything you can find…just tell yourself you can eat again in a couple hours
- eat some black beans today! They are full of protein, fiber and carbohydrates
- don’t ever skip meals! Especially breakfast
- don’t buy the food that tempt you, and don’t make the foods you know you shouldn’t eat or that you will eat too much of
- get at least seven to eight hours of sleep as many nights a week as you can
- when you get sore from working out it means your body is changing, and guess what…the best way to get rid of that soreness is workout again!
- remember that your body does not determine your character

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Nothing White Diet

For a time I have been fascinated by the diets people decide to go on. I think it can be ironic how people aren't willing to just take a few things out of their diet and be more active, but they are willing to totally cut out carbs, get injections, or only eat Special K products. I understand people are just trying to find what works, but I can promise you that what DOES work for EVERYONE is moderation and a little more activity in their lives. For some it needs to be more extreme for them to get their desired outcome. All that means, though, is a little more time in the gym and a little less time in the kitchen. 
While browsing livestrong.com I found this diet that they recommend. I think of all the diets I have learned about, this one seems the best. So, if you are the type that really needs a DIET to live by, and not just a LIFESTYLE, then you might want to give this one a try! (even though this diet should turn into a lifestyle!)

As you might expect, the nothing white diet prohibits white foods--but not all of them. White foods tend to be refined and higher in sugar, and higher in white flour with the nutrients and fiber stripped away through processing. The diet is described in detail in the 2007 book "No White Diet" by Paul Array. It does not require portion sizing, calorie counting or an exercise program. Food choices in a nothing white diet may be relatively easy to make, as noted in "No White Foods Diet" in Nov. 23, 2009, issue of "International Business Times."
Banned
In the nothing white diet, you'll avoid all white plant-based foods, as these are usually high in sugar or starch, explains the "No White Foods Diet" article. The main culprits are foods containing white sugar or white flour. Other foods to avoid include potatoes, white beans, white pasta and white rice. The only animal products you should limit are butter and cheddar cheese, which are white until the manufacturer adds food coloring.
Permitted
You're allowed to consume some white foods on the nothing white diet. You may eat eggs, including the egg whites, as well as milk, white meat chicken and white fish. Two white vegetables are acceptable--cauliflower and parsnips, according to "No White Foods Diet."
Colorful Foods
A wide variety of other foods is available for you to enjoy on this diet. Eat whole grains, such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-grain bread. All colorful vegetables and all types of fruit are allowed. Meat and seafood also are acceptable.
Advantages
The nothing white diet has several advantages, as noted by DietsInReview.com. It does not have a complicated set of rules, does not require equipment and does not eliminate carbohydrates or all animal products. It is not difficult to follow when eating at a restaurant. In addition, unlike many weight loss diets, the nothing white diet is a healthy way of eating. White foods typically have the highest glycemic index, which tends to make people retain weight, particularly around the midsection. These foods also can eventually lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Disadvantages
The nothing white diet does not address portion control, a major problem with this diet, as noted by the "No White Foods Diet" article. For instance, the diet would allow several servings of whole-wheat pasta along with a large steak for a very high-calorie meal. In addition, some people may have a hard time giving up nearly all white foods for a long time. 
Also, no diet is as successful as it could be if it were paired with an adequate amount of exercise. So remember that when gauging your results.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/228807-the-nothing-white-diet/#ixzz0yNK0DeIQ


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brain Power

School has started, so we are all looking for a little more brain power. How often do you walk into a room and then realize you have forgotten why you walking in there in the first place? We could all use help memorizing, remembering and thinking more clearly. Here are some things you can do to help trigger more brain neurons, which will help your brain grow stronger in the long run.
1. Volunteer!
Stimulates: The prefrontal cortex, which analyzes, plans, and problem-solves
2. Work out
Stimulates: The hippocampus, which forms memories
3. Learn a skill
Stimulates: The intraparietal sulcus, which directs hand-eye coordination
4. Keep the weight off
As the number on the scale creeps upward, it's hard to imagine that anything's getting smaller, but extra pounds can actually shrink your brain.
5. Wiggle your eyes
Can't remember where you stashed your glasses? Try looking from side to side. Rapid horizontal eye movements cause the brain's two hemispheres to interact with each other more efficiently
6. Take a snooze
Here's why: New facts enter your brain like e-mails arriving in your in-box. And as your in-box can overflow over the course of a day, so can your brain. During sleep, your brain shuffles recently received data into storage, creating space for fresh info.
7. Eat brain foods—rich in B12, antioxidants, or essential fatty acid
Tomatoes, blueberries, salmon, kale, bananas, apples

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take the Effort Out of Eating Less

Whenever you start a diet, it not only takes a lot of physical energy since you usually start an exercise program as well, but it takes mental energy to plan meals and make an effort to NOT eat the things you know you shouldn't. It can be hard, and quite often diets go down the drain because of a lapse in your judgment.
According to Brian Wansink, PhD., author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, we can eat less without even realizing it. Here is how!
1. Serve meals on nine- to ten-inch plates. Any smaller and you'll be going back for seconds; larger, and you'll pile on more to begin with.
2. Take the serving bowls off the table! The only exception: the ones containing vegetables.
3. Drink from a skinny glass. Your mind perceives height more readily than width, so you'll think you had more.
4. Choose a small serving spoon: In one Cornell study, participants ate 11 percent less ice cream when they used a petite scoop.
5. Control your environment—if the room in which you eat is too bright and loud, or too dark and quiet, you'll tend to eat more because you become overstimulated or linger too long at the table.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beat the Afternoon Slump!


This probably sounds familiar: 4pm roles around and your body is tired, your head hurts and you feel like you should be getting into bed instead of putting in another hour of work or running your kids to soccer practice. When body temperature decreases, many mental and cognitive skills wane as well. "Body temperature rises in the morning, peaks around noon or one o'clock, and then, in the afternoon, drops slightly," says Michael Smolensky, Ph.D., director of the Center for Chronobiology and Chronotherapeutics at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Typically, between 5 and 7 P.M. your temperature and energy peak again; from there they gradually decline, dropping you into sleep at night.
There are much better solutions to this problem than to reach for sugar or caffeine. Here are a few:
- Get a good night's sleep: eight hours a night is the recommendation...so make an effort to get than in as often as you can.
- Eat small, nutritious meals: if you aren't eating breakfast, that is definitely playing a part in your fatigue. Also, if you are eating too big of a lunch with too many carbs, you will get tired in the afternoon. Try keeping it a moderate size and getting some good protein with minimal carbs. That will help keep you energy up
- Take a little walk: exercise energizes you, even if you think you are too tired to do anything. Especially going outside and getting some sunlight can help
- Manage your tasks: Try to organize your to do list so you do the things that require the most mind and energy strength in the morning, and the less demanding tasks in the afternoon.

No one likes the afternoon slump, but there are things we can do every day to help increase our productivity during that time. Take a power nap if you need to, and do your part to enhance your energy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

After School Snack

Summer is coming to an end and school, if it hasn't already started, is right around the corner. And going back to school brings the ever famous after school snack. It's a time to relax, a time to talk with your kids and fill their growling tummies! But more than that, it can be an opportunity to help your kids eat the stuff that is good for them too! Here are some snack ideas that your kids are sure to love, and you might even find yourself sitting down and snacking with them too.
Pizza bagels: Coat a mini bagel with tomato sauce, shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of garlic powder and oregano
Green Drink: In a blender, mix together 3 handfuls of frozen spinach, a handful of your favorite berry, a sliced banana and low-fat milk. (The more milk you add, the thinner it will be)You'll get some veggies AND it tastes delicious!
Yogurt Parfait: In a small glass, layer plain yogurt, some berries and a little granola. Go easy on the granola, because it is calorie dense. This is a great snack because it is packed full of good protein and carbs from the berries.
Mini Cracker Snackers: Use your favorite whole grain cracker and top it with a small slice of cheese and turkey! They are fun to eat and so tastey
Chips & Salsa: Whole grain chips and a fresh salsa! Always a great idea. Or you can even make your own fresh salsa, that way you control how hot it is and which veggies are in it
Fruit & Peanut Butter: With either a sliced banana or apple, have a little peanut butter to dip them in. Try to eat the natural peanut butter, or you can even try almond butter, which is a great substitute for peanut butter.
Trail Mix: Mix together your favorite nut (or more than one), some dried berries, crunched up pretzels and some toasted granola. Delicious!
Ants on a Log: Cut up slices of celery, fill them with peanut butter and top with some raisins (the ants). Fun and yummy!

These are just some ideas. Try to think of some of your own, and just incorporate a fruit or veggie and some good protein to keep them full. Kids like to use their hands and eat mini things, so think about that when coming up with some ideas. Happy snacking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Combat Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is rising at an astounding rate each year. There are severe problems developing with over eating and obsessing with food. How do we fix this? The best way is to prevent it. Here are some tips for both you and your kids, to make sure you're both on track for the healthies eating lifestyle.

- When it's time to eat, eat. Don't play games, watch TV or talk on the phone when it is time for a meal or snack. When you are preoccupied, you either don't eat the things you should because you are busy thinking of other things, or you eat way too much
- Don't lick the plate. Some times parents tell their children to clean their plate, or they think they have to. This is opposite what should be happening! Both parents and children should always eat their veggies, and after that just listen to their body, they know when they should stop
- Food is something to give you energy, not something to reward you or someone else with. When it turns into a reward, all it does is teach your body to eat when it isn't hungry
- Parents should be a role model. If they are snacking on fatening snacks all day, drinking soda and not eating veggies, they can't expect their children to.
- Don't ever ban a food. When you make a food off limits to your kids, most likely as soon as they aren't at home, they will eat as much as they can of that food. So have treats occasionally, but make sure it isn't constantly around
- Remember your child shouldn't eat like an adult. That is, they don't need a huge steak for dinner. They should have bigger servings of fruit and vegetables with a moderate amount of protein and carbs. Nothing like adults eat
- I made a mistake...the one thing you can ban is sweet drinks. There is no benefit from soda, all it does is add inches to your waist and damper your immune system with each drink. Encourge your kids to not drink it outside your home either, and make your house a no soda zone. Milk and water should be your best friend
- Still have a sweet treat after meals, like apples and a little peanut butter to dip them in, or any other fruit with some yogurt and granola. Have treats, but make them healthy!
- Be an example by being active every day, and encourage family activities that are active. When your kids have fun while moving, they will remember that and want to be active more.

Let's all do our part to combat this epidemic of childhood obesity, and instead raise a generation of healthy, happy kids!
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