Sunday, September 2, 2012

The CrossFit Craze

 
You may have heard of CrossFit lately. CrossFit is "preparing the body not only for the known, but also the unknown." It is currently one of the fastest growing strength and conditioning programs.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that is used by many police, tactical operations teams, the military and professional athletes around the world. CrossFit describes its program as "constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement." Types of activities range from lifting sand bags to jumping rope and gymnastics to kettlebells.

CrossFit combines strength training, explosive plyometrics, speed training, body weight exercises, Olympic and power lifting, and endurance exercises. CrossFit targets cardiorespiratory fitness, stamina, muscular strength and endurance, power, flexibility, speed, balance, agility, coordination and accuracy. Training requires you to workout 3-5 times a week. The workouts are short, but very intense. The exercises are usually done in a circuit format and involve the whole body.

There are CrossFit games that have been held for several years, with participation increasing rapidly with the program's spread of popularity. The CrossFit games are used to determine who is "The Fittest on Earth." The games include men and women each person that comes in first place gets $250,000. In these games, athletes learn the workouts only a few hours before and sometimes surprise elements are thrown in. The games are composed of a broad range of functional movements.

The CrossFit program or CrossFit-style classes are offered at many gyms. So if you are healthy and can endure a grueling workout, see what the CrossFit craze it all about!

Sources:
Esco, Michael PhD, HFS, CSCS. "CrossFit Review." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2012. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/crossfit-review.

www.crossfit.com

Monday, August 27, 2012

Motivation Monday!


I love this quote. Complaining about things won't make them any better. This quote applies to every part of your life. If you are sitting on the couch eating ice cream out of the carton, don't complain that you are overweight! Get up and go do something about it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why is it Easier For Men to Lose Weight Faster Than Women?

Man Holding Woman On His BackWe've all heard a story about a couple that sets off to lose weight together. All the man does is cut out a late night bowl of ice cream and loses 15 pounds in a month, while the woman exercises an hour everyday and counts calories and loses 5 pounds in a month. Doesn't seem fair does it?

The results aren't always this drastic and each individual is different. In general, it is easier for men to lose weight than women. There are several reasons for this.

Muscle Mass Differences
One of the main reasons that men lose weight faster than women is because they have more lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass one has, the more calories they burn, even at rest. Since men have more calorie-burning muscle, they lose weight faster.

Hormonal Differences
Men and women have different hormones. Women are "programmed" to store and retain fat. Women have higher levels of estrogen, a hormone that keeps fat on the body so it is easier to get pregnant.

Men have higher levels of growth hormone and testosterone than women do. These hormones have a large impact on rate and efficiency of the body's metabolism. Growth hormone and testosterone also has a huge impact on the rate and speed of fat loss. Higher levels of these 2 hormones are associated with increased muscle mass, which leads to an increased metabolism therefore greater body fat loss.

Body Surface Area
In general, men are taller, bigger and longer than women which means that they have a greater surface area to lose body heat from. The loss of heat results in an increase in a man's metabolism because their body has to work harder to regulate their body temperature. The metabolic spike related to body heat loss is another reason why it is easier for men to lose weight than women.

Losing weight for women (and men) can be very frustrating. So women, when you are frustrated that your man is losing weight faster than you, remember that you have many odds against you.

It is important to remember that it is not a competition. Losing weight is about lifestyle choices and not how fast you get there. Don't compare yourself to others and remember that everybody loses weight at a different rate.

Sources:

Harms, Craig; Rosenkranz, Sara. Sex Differences in Pulmonary Function during Exercise. Med Sci Sports & Exerc. 40(4):664-668, April 2008. Tarnopolsky, Mark A. Sex Differences in Exercise Metabolism and the Role of 17-Beta Estradiol. Med Sci Sports & Exerc. 40(4):648-654, April 2008.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Motivation Monday


Everyone feels great after a workout. That's because exercise releases endorphins, which are the 'feel good' chemical in the brain! So get your heart pounding to get yourself feeling great!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top Reasons to Smile

Photo Courtesy of: http://betohappy.blogspot.com

Feeling down in the dumps? A simple solution is to smile! Yeah, it's not going to completely solve all of your problems, but it will help you feel better and offer health benefits.

Boost Your Mood
When you are in a bad mood, smiling may seem like the last thing you want to do. But studies show that even just making an effort to smile can improve your mood. Researcher Dr. Michael Lewis, PhD, of Cardiff University says that "emotions are felt through the whole body, not just in the brain." A study led by Dr. Lewis looked at participants who recently had botox injections. The participants were physically unable to frown due to the injections. They reported feeling happier and having less anxiety, probably due to their inability to frown. Smiling can trick your body into helping change your mood.

Makes You Look Younger
You don't need to waste your money on a face lift, just crack a smile! The muscles that are used to smile lift the face, which makes you look younger.

A recent study that was published in the journal of Psychology and Aging in which researchers asked people to guess the age of adult strangers in pictures.  People underestimated the age of the people who had a happy expression. Their age was more likely to be guessed of those who had a neutral expression on their face.

People Who Smile Are More Successful
Research has shown that people who smile may be more successful in the workplace and in relationships. People who smile appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted and are more approachable. When you smile, you will see that people act differently toward you. People are most likely to be successful due to their happiness.

Smiles Are Contagious
Our brains look for and respond to smiling faces, before we are even aware that we have responded. When someone smiles at you, you most likely always smile back. The opposite is also true, people usually distance themselves from people that frown or are unhappy.

Be Unforgettable
If you want to make a lasting impression, smile! The journal of Neuropsychologia published a study that shows that our brains are programmed to pay attention to people that are smiling.

Smiling Makes Us More Attractive
A study published in the journal of Emotion proved that a smiling face is more appealing, at least for women. Participants were shown pictures of face with many emotions and the smiling women were consistently rated more attractive. It is thought that smiling women appear to be more feminine, increasing attractiveness. Another thought is that smiling makes women appear more receptive, sexually.

On the flip side, smiley men do not have the same effect on women. Females were more drawn to the serious, brooding type of man. Either way, a smile draws people in.

Relieve Stress
When we are stressed, it shows in our faces. Smiling can help you from looking tired, worn out, and overwhelmed. So if you are stressed try to put on a smile, you should notice that your stress level is reduced.

Smiling Is A Natural Drug
Studies show that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. The three of these will leave you feeling very good.

Sources:
Stibich, Mark. "Top 10 Reasons To Smile." About.com Longevity. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2012. http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongbeauty/tp/smiling.htm.

Vann, Madeline. "10 Healthy Reasons to Get Your Smile On." EverydayHealth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2012. <http://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health-pictures/healthy-reasons-to-get-you-smile-on.aspx?xid=tw_weightloss_20120221_smile>.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Motivation Monday!


Just because you spend some time in the gym doesn't mean that you can eat/do whatever you want for the rest of the day. A healthy lifestyle is important at every hour of the day!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fitness Tips From Olympians

Photo courtesy of www.olympic.org


Olympians are in top shape and the best athletes in the world. With Olympic fever going around who wouldn't take advice from them? Even though they are professional athletes, you can definitely apply these tips to your daily life.

1. Get a workout partner.
"After spending so much time by myself on the ice in the past, I love working out with friends now," says Nancy Kerrigan who is a former professional figure skater and two-time Olympic medalist. For Lauren Wenger, a current member of USAs women's water polo national team and Olympic silver medalist, working out with a friend motivates her to work harder. She says, "When I see a teammate working hard, it pushes me that much more."

2. Write is down.
Often you can't remember what you did in the gym last week. Heather O'Reilly, a member of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team and two-time Olympic gold medalist says, "if I don't bring a sheet with my workouts on it, I end up wasting time and not being as efficient." You can write down before you go to the gym what you plan to accomplish and track it as you go along. O'Reilly says that she gets a sense of accomplishment when she sees that she has completed a workout.

3. Schedule it.
When you are an elite athlete, there is no choice but to schedule workouts. Krisit Yamaguchi, a former figure skater and Olympic gold medalist, says that it is important to schedule exercise. She says, "As a busy mom I can find 100 different things to do instead of working out. If I don't say, OK on this day, I will work out for at least 20 minutes, it won't happen." Exercise should be treated like a priority and if you schedule it into your day, you can't make excuses.

4. A boring diet is OK.
"Every single day, no matter where I am, I always eat one pack of instant oatmeal with a huge scoop of peanut butter for breakfast. It keeps me fueled and gives me enough energy for morning practice," says Wenger. Why fix something if it isn't broken? If it works for you, stick to it.

5. Rest doesn't always mean being a couch potato.
Just because you are taking a day off from working out doesn't give you an excuse to be a couch potato. "Staying active on down days actually makes me feel better the rest of the week," says Erin Hamlin who is a two-time luge Olympian. "Doing something low key, like going for a walk or taking a light yoga class, gets the blood flowing and results in more productive training days." Chellsie Memmel, a former Olympic silver medalist in gymnastics says, "Walking on the treadmill or outside helps my muscles relax and loosen up."

6. Set goals.
"I always think of the goals I am working towards, like a gold medal at the Olympics, and it motivates me," says Angela Ruggiero who is a four-time ice hockey Olympic medalist. She says, "If you don't have something to work for, it's easy to get side-tracked." And she's right, you need something to work toward. It gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end and allows you to track your progress. Your goals don't have to be as high as winning an Olympic gold medal, make them realistic, such as completing a 5K. Tell someone who can hold you accountable and keep you on track. Going public can push you harder because who wants to be embarrassed by not accomplishing them?

7. Discover what works for you.
You need to enjoy what you are doing. If other people think it is weird, but it works for you, who cares!? "When I was training, I would take a 15-minute hot bath with a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of apple cider vinegar," says Kerrigan. She says that even though it may sound strange, it helped her bruises heal faster and muscles feel better almost instantly. O'Reilly wears recovery sleeves for an hour or two after she works out and sometimes at night because she says it helps with the swelling.

8. Take vitamins.
When traveling to different countries, food options can vary drastically. "I recently started taking a variety of vitamins like vitamin C, calcium and fish oil, because fresh, nutrient-rich foods are hard to come by in some places," says Hamlin. Multivitamins can be a good back-up plan, if you think you diet may be lacking in nutrients, but make sure to talk to your doctor first.

9. Keep hydrated.
Obviously water is essential for survival, but it is also important to keep yourself energized. O'Reilly says, "I wind up drinking more throughout the day when I carry around my water bottle, which keeps me going." For Natasha Hastings, a USA Track & Field athlete and Olympic gold medalist, water is important to her for more than just hydration. "Other than drinking water for sports, I've always admired my grandmother and mother's great skin and I swear it's because they drink a lot of water!"

10. Diversify you fitness regimen.
You may think that Olympic athletes spend all of their time focusing on one sport, but adding another active hobby can be beneficial for them. "I've dabbled in golf and am always up for trying anything new," says O'Reilly. She plays badminton and squash, for a bit of a change in her usual routine. Wenger gives credit to her once-a-week yoga practice to her improved weekly training. She says, "it strengthens my muscles and loosens my joints." Changing up your usual habits can also make exercise more exciting, it is supposed to be fun after all!

Source:
Cuffey, Abigail. "10 Fitness Tips from Olympians." Woman's Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2012. <http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/10-fitness-tips-from-olympians-124486>.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's On My Workout Playlist..

Photo Courtesy of www.bestofyoutoday.com

I have to have music when I workout. There's nothing like the perfect music to get me through being stuck on the treadmill. Music can motivate us and set our workout into high gear. There is actual research to support this.

Here are song on my current favorite songs on my playlist that I workout to..

Fun - "Some Nights"
Pitbull - "Back in Time"
Timbaland - "Hands in the Air"
David Guetta, Flo Rida & Nicki Minaj - "Where Them Girls At"
Kanye West - "Mercy"
Nicki Minaj - "Starships"
Nicki Minaj - "Pound the Alarm" 
Lil Wayne & Drake - "Right Above It"
Kanye West & Jay Z - "H.A.M."
Don Omar - "Danza Kuduro"
Pitbull - "Shake Senora"
Pitbull - "Bon Bon"
Skrillex - "Bangarang"
David Guetta & Nicki Minaj - "Turn Me On"
Skrillex - "Kyoto"
Dierks Bentley - "5-1-5-0"
Toby Keith - "Beers Ago"
Luke Bryan - "Shake It For Me"

The Science Behind Music

Let's face it, sometimes exercise can be boring. If you put on some good music it can totally change your attitude! Instead of watching the clock, you could be picking up your pace.

There is scientific evidence that listening to music while exercising can improve your results. This is because it is motivating and also distracts us from things like fatigue. Music helps people exercise longer and more vigorously. The same can be said for it being the other way around. If someone is feeling anxious, listening to music that is soft or slow can calm down and relax the mind and body.

There is even evidence that one song may be more effective over the other. Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an associate professor of sport psychology at Brunel University in England, has studied how music effects physical performance for more than 20 years. He says that one of a songs most important elements is tempo, which should be between 120-140 beats-per-minute (BPM) for an average workout. This tempo corresponds to the average persons heart rate during a workout.

For a leisurely walk around 3 miles per hour, shoot for 115-118 BPM. If you are wanting a power walk, aim for 137-139 BPM. For running, the BPM should be around 147-160.

So update your playlist to take your workout to the next level!

Sources:
Kurutz, Steven. "FITNESS; They're Playing My Song. Time to Work Out." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2008. Web. 24 July 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/fashion/10fitness.html?_r=2.

"Using Music To Motivate Your Workout." The Benefits of Using a Variety of Treadmill Programs. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2012. <http://www.treadmillbynet.com/articles/treadmill-music.html>.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Motivation Monday!


Everybody always feels better about themselves after a workout, including myself. After each workout your self-confidence is increased. So, if you make exercising a habit, then your self-confidence will increase after each workout. Over time you should be feeling great about yourself!

Each work out, no matter how short in duration, is a step in the right direction!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Truth About Gluten



A few years ago, many people didn't even know what gluten was. Now, "gluten-free" seems to be the latest trend. The market for gluten-free products is exploding because many people believe that gluten-free means healthier. But what is exactly behind this gluten-free trend? Before you hop on the bandwagon, you should know this..

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite that can be found in grains, barely, wheat and rye. It gives dough elasticity, helps it rise and keep its shape, and can give it a chewy texture.

A gluten-free diet does help people that have celiac disease which is a chronic digestive disorder that affects about 1% of Americans. To people that have celiac disease, even a small amount of gluten makes that body think it is an invader which prompts an immune response. This immune response ends up damaging the small intestine. This causes severe gastrointestinal distress and nutritional deficiencies. If celiac disease is left untreated, these responses can lead to intestinal cancers, nutrients being unable to be absorbed, and other complications such as infertility and osteoporosis.

The hype...
Gluten-free diets have become very popular recently. With the rise in popularity, many people are using gluten-free diets as a means to cure other ailments such as fibromyalgia and migraines.

Many people also believe that a gluten-free diet will lead to rapid weight loss. Mark DeMeo, M.D., director of gastroenterology and nutrition at the Adult Celiac Disease Program and Rush University Medical Center located in Chicago says "There's nothing magical about a gluten-free diet that's going to help you lose weight." Most likely the cause of weight loss from the gluten-free diet is that it drastically reduces what foods that you can eat. So when you have less to choose from, you are less likely to overeat.

There is another side to this. Gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean low fat or low calorie. Gluten is used to bind food together and without it manufacturers usually add more fat or sugar. Gluten-free foods are also significantly more expensive than it's counterparts.

Should you go gluten-free or not?
Yes, if you have celiac disease. If you are wanting to try the diet, know that it is very hard to find foods that do not contain gluten. Gluten is in more foods than you would think. A gluten-free diet can also leave you with nutritional deficiencies. There is very little reason to take this risk unless you genuinely have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten. If you are wanting to eliminate gluten, you constantly have to pay attention to what you are eating. There no point to eliminating just some gluten.

Many people feel better after going gluten-free because they are eating whole foods instead of processed packaged foods.

Basically, if you think you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, get tested.

Sources:
Ansel, Karen. "GLUTEN FREE DIET." Womenshealthmag.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2012. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/gluten-free-diet.

Jaret, Peter. "The Truth About Gluten." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 22 July 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/truth-about-gluten?page=1>.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Link Between Television and Kids' Waistline and Athletic Ability

Photo courtesy of www.Allinfodir.com
    

     Children's health has always been an important issue for me. Childhood obesity is rising quickly and attention needs to be brought toward this epidemic. It makes sense that the more that children watch television, the larger their waistline will be. Now, there is a new study to describe more accurately what the association represents.

     Researchers at the University of Montreal found that each hour of television watched by two - four year old's contributes to their waist line and their muscular fitness level by the end of fourth grade. This is the first study to show how time in front of the television affects a specific measure of fitness, explosive leg strength. In the study, parents were asked about their children's television habits and then were examined by trained professionals. The child's muscular fitness was measured by administering a standing long jump test.

     The standing long jump is a good indicator of muscular fitness and athletic ability. The standing long jump measures explosive leg strength, very important in sports such as football, basketball and soccer. Researchers were able to translate hours in front of the television into centimeters around the waist and performance. It was found, for example, that each weekly hour of television watched at 29 months of age corresponds to about 1/3 centimeter decrease in the child's ability to long jump. By age 4.5, a child's waist size increased about 1/2 of a millimeter for every extra hour of television that was watched per week.

     These numbers may seem small, but to a child they are important. Also, considering that children watch a lot more television than one hour a week, the fractions start to add up quickly.

     There were 1,314 children that participated in this study and at the beginning parents reported, on average, 8.8 hours of television watched per week. This number increased by an average of 6 hours over the next 2 years which led to and average of 14.8 hours of television watched per week by the age 4.5

     Over time there has been a change in our habits and standard of living. We prefer pre-packaged or easily prepared foods that are high in calories and/or fat. In general, we are preferring sedentary activities. If children are watching television they are missing out on educational and recreational activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over the age of two should not watch more than two hours of television per day.

     Establishing unhealthy habits as a child can stick with them into adulthood. So it is important to enforce healthy lifestyle habits early. Parents need to serve as role models for their children as well. When parents watch an excessive amount of television, their children's television habits are more likely to exceed the AAP's recommendations. Parents should enforce activities that are educational or recreational.

     Although childhood obesity is not solely cause by television watching, it is a major risk factor. All risk factors for childhood obesity must be reduced.

Sources:
GANN, CARRIE, and ABC News Medical Unit. "Study: More TV Linked to Larger Waists, Weaker Legs for Kids." ABC News. ABC News Network, 16 July 2012. Web. 19 July 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/kids-tv-habits-linked-waist-size-athletic-ability/story?id=16774293.

Universite de Montreal. "TV habits predict kids' waist size and sporting ability." ScienceDaily, 15 Jul. 2012. Web. 19 Jul. 2012.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Motivation Monday!


Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Change has to be made it order to see change!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How To Curb Your Sweet Tooth

Photo courtesy of divavillage.com

Do you always feel like you are craving sweets? If yes, then you are not alone. There are many reasons why we crave sweet things. One reason  humans prefer the sweet taste from birth. Carbohydrates release serotonin which is the brain's "feel good" chemical, and sugar is a form of carbohydrates. Registered dietitian, Susan Moores, says that the taste of sugar releases endorphins that calm and relax us and offer a natural "high."

Having sweets every now and then is not a problem. It is when we over-consume that it becomes a problem which is easy to do because sugar is added to so many processed foods. So here are some tips to help curb your sweet cravings.

Have a little. Eat a small amount of what you are craving. This will help you to not feel denied at the end of the day and hopefully prevent you from over indulging.

Combine foods. If a small amount of a sweet food won't seem to satisfy you, then combine it with a healthy food that will. For example, strawberries dipped in chocolate.

Opt for fruit. If you are craving sugar, try eating a piece of fruit. You will get some sweetness along with nutrients and fiber that will keep you full.

Chew on gum. Research shows that chewing on gum can reduce food cravings. This may help reduce your sugar cravings all together.

Get moving. When you get a sugar craving, get moving. For example, take a quick walk or do yoga. This will help you take your mind off of the cravings.

Eat regularly. Eating every 3-5 hours can keep your blood sugar stable and help make good food decisions. If you wait too long between meals, you are more likely to make bad food choices and over indulge.

Source:
Feature, Wendy C. FriesWebMD. "How to Stop Sugar Cravings: 13 Tips to Control Your Sweet Tooth." WebMD. WebMD. Web. 09 May 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/13-ways-to-fight-sugar-cravings>.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Motivation Monday!


You need to challenge your body in order to see the change that you want. Mix up your workouts and add difficulty.

What do you do to challenge yourself?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Foods That Are Good For Your Teeth

Yes, we all know that brushing, flossing and rinsing are all essential for healthy teeth. But did you know that eating certain foods can also be good for your teeth? Make your dentist happy be eating these foods.

Milk. Drinking milk can promote healthy teeth and bones thanks to the calcium. If you do not drink milk, use a toothpaste that can remineralize your teeth.

Green tea. Green tea has the reputation of providing many health benefits. One of these benefits is that it may promote good dental health because it contains polyphenols. Polyphenols help clean plaque from the teeth. Green tea has natural antioxidants that prevent plaque from accumulating, therefore reducing the risk of cavities and bad breath.

Cheese. Cheese has similar properties to milk. Cheese also make the mouth nonacidic and raises calcium levels. It also helps produce more saliva, rebuild tooth enamel, and kill the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease.

Crunch fruits and vegetables. Crunchy fruits and vegetables get saliva flowing in your mouth. This creates an alkaline environment which protects teeth from exposure to acid.

Yogurt. Harmful germs in the mouth can cause dental problems. Yogurt can help decrease the bad bacteria and promote the growth of healthy, protective bacteria.

Water. Water is a essential part of our lives, but is also good for our teeth. Water cleans out your mouth, hydrates you gums, and help wash away food particles that can cause plaque.

Eat/drink these along with a healthy balanced diet and your body will thank you!

Sources:
Dental.net Staff. "Dental.net." What Foods Are Good for Your Teeth? Dental.net, 27 July 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dental.net/dental-nutrition/foods-good-for-teeth/>.

Stewart, Kristen. "Good-for-Your-Mouth Foods." EverydayHealth.com. 21 Dec. 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/good-for-your-mouth-foods.aspx?xid=tw_everydayhealth_20111222_teeth>.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Germiest Places In Your Life


Germs are very common in our lives. They are at home, work, the gym, your car etc. However, there are several places that are host to large amount of germs. Many of these places you wouldn't expect to be covered in germs. So clean them more regularly, sanitize them or avoid them all together. Here they are..

The TV remote. Remotes are touched by so many people, especially in hotels. You don't know who has stayed in the hotel room before you and they could've left you some germs. So wipe off your TV remote with an antibacterial wipe at home every couple of days. Or if you are in a hotel, wipe it off immediately. While you're at it, wipe off the door handles, light switches and faucet handles. Also put on socks/slippers and throw off the bedspread (urine and semen have been found on both), these will not make you sick - it's just gross!

You phone. Germs from your hands and they outside world end up on your phone then by your mouth, ears and nose. Phones can have more than 25,000 germs per square inch. Make sure to wipe off your phone everyday to get rid of those germs.

Your bathtub. It is ironic that the place you go to get clean can be so dirty. Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., found the staphylococcus bacteria in 26% of bathtubs that she tested. This bacteria can cause serious skin infections. Bathtubs contain around 100,000 bacteria per square inch. This is because we wash the germs and viruses off of our body and into the tub. The tub is a moist environment in which bacteria love to grow. Scott says to apply a disinfecting cleaner to your tub once a week. You will need to scrub, wash the germs down the drain and then dry with a clean towel.

Gym mats and machines. Sweaty people that you don't know have been using this equipment and you don't know what is on them. Wipe down machines before you use them with an antibacterial wipe that they gym should provide. Bring your own yoga mat or cover the one at the gym up with a towel. Shower immediately after a work out to wash away any bacteria that you may have been exposed to.

Playgrounds. Kids often have bodily fluids dripping from them and then they get spread around. Blood, saliva, urine and mucus (just to name a few) have been found on many playgrounds. Then kids often put their hands in their mouths and noses, giving them direct contanct to these germs. What you can do is carry sanitizing wipes or gel and sanitize hands and couple times while at the playground. Then definitely wash your hands with soap and water when you leave.

Your purse. If you are like me, your purse goes everywhere with you including the bacteria you come in contact with. Purses can have up to a million types of bacteria on them, including salmonella and E. coli! Reduce your risk by putting your purse on a hook or chair instead of on the floor. Do not put it on the kitchen counter! You do not want those germs getting in contact with your food. Also, wipe your purse down every few days.

ATM buttons. When I go to the ATM I expect to get cash, not germs. However, most of those buttons have more germs on then than door knobs in a public bathroom. ATMs are not cleaned often, but they are touched quite frequently. Carry hand sanitizer to use after visiting the ATM or handling money which also carries a lot of germs.

Shopping cart handles. I know the first thing I do when I walk into the grocery store is grab a sanitizing wipe BEFORE I even touch the shopping cart. I wipe off the handles and the seat where my purse goes. Saliva, bacteria and fecal matter have all been found on the handles. Put raw meat, fruits and vegetables in a bag to keep these germs away from your food.

Public drinking fountains. Drinking fountains can contain anywhere from 62,000 to 2.7 million bacteria per square inch on the spigot, says Robert Donofrio Ph.D. To avoid these germs, carry your own water bottle with you like I do.

A load of wet laundry. Really? This was a surprise to me, but it makes sense. "Anytime you transfer underwear from the washer to the dryer, you're going to get E. coli on your hands," Dr. Gerba says. Reduce your risk by running your dryer at atleast 150 degrees F for atleast 45 minutes. Also, transfer your laundry quickly so that germs do not have the chance to multiply. Wash your hands after handling your wet laundry.

Airplane bathrooms. Yes, bathrooms carry many germs, but airplane bathrooms especially. This is because there is only about 1 bathroom for every 50 people and they are cramped and overused. When the toilet flushes, whatever germs were in there will literally cover everything in the bathroom. Protect yourself with a toilet seat cover and using a paper towel to flush, turn on the water and open the door so your skin does not come in direct contact with these surfaces.

The kitchen sink. The typical sink contains 500,000 bacteria per square inch. Clean the sink every few days with an antibacterial product or everytime after you prepare raw food. Sponges are also covered in bacteria so run them through the dishwashers drying cycle to eliminate them.

Source:
"The Germiest Places in America." - MyHomeIdeas.com. Web. 26 Apr. 2012. <http://www.myhomeideas.com/healthy-home/healthy-solutions/germiest-places-america-10000001870168/>.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sea Salt Vs. Table Salt - Which Is Better?



Sea salt has boomed with popularity lately as being a healthy alternative to table salt. The hype around sea salt is the claim that it is "natural" and contains minerals that table salt does not have. With all the marketing around sea salt it is hard to understand the difference between it and table salt, if there is much a difference.

Sea salt is produced through evaporation of seawater, usually with little processing, which may leave behind trace amounts of minerals. The truth is that the minerals are in such low quantity that they don't make a difference to your health. Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and is more processed, to give it a finer texture.

By weight, both sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium. According to a survey done by the American Heart Association, 61% of respondents believed that sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt. Sea salt does contain a more intense flavor so you may end up using less of it.

There are no health benefits of using sea salt over table salt. The only difference between the two is taste. Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends limiting your sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day. Most people consume far too much sodium, so no matter which you choose, use it lightly.

Source:
"Sea Salt Vs. Table Salt." Www.heart.org. 26 Aug. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Sea-Salt-Vs-Table-Salt_UCM_430992_Article.jsp>.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Motivation Monday


I love this! What you do today does affect your future. So go for a walk, put down the soda, take a class or make a healthy meal.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why You Should Be Strength Training

Many people think of strength training as a guy thing, but strength training needs to be for everyone. If you are omitting strength training, you are missing a key component of health and fitness. Everyone, no matter how young or old, should be doing some sort of regular strength training program. There are many benefits that come with a regular strength training program.

"Use it or lose it."
As you age, muscle mass naturally decreases. "If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body," says Edward Laskowski, M.D. "Strength training can help you preserve and enhance you muscle mass, at any age." You lose about 5-7 pounds of muscle every decade after age 20. Strength training can help prevent this loss or rebuild what you have already lost.

Weight control.
Muscle helps burn calories which can result in weight loss. The more muscle mass that you have, the more calories you will burn. It works out that every pound of muscle that you gain you will burn an extra 35-50 calories a day. This boost in metabolism is essential for long term weight loss.

Strengthen bones.
Strength training stresses your bones which increases bone density and reduces your risk of osteoporosis. This is especially important for women.

Reduce injury risk.
Muscle protects joints from injury.

Reduce blood pressure.
Strength training strengthens your heart and allows it to beat more efficiently.

Increase stamina.
You won't fatigue as easily as you get stronger.

Manage chronic conditions.
Strength training can reduce signs and symptoms of many conditions including; arthritis, diabetes, back pain, depression, osteoporosis and obesity.

Women's weight training myth.
Weight training for women will not make them bulky/masculine looking. Women do not and cannot naturally produce as much testosterone as men can. Testosterone is what is responsible for producing bulky/masculine looking muscles. It is impossible for women to get huge amounts of muscle mass from weight listing

The basics.
You don't need to head to the gym to do a strength training workout. Body weight exercises such as push-ups and lunges are effective and can be done anywhere. Resistance bands and dumbbells are another great option and are easy to store.

Don't forget a 5-10 minute warm-up prior to strength training. You will want to choose a weight or resistance level that will tire your muscles after about 12 repetitions. Remember, over time you will need to gradually increase your resistance.

Do 2-3 strength training sessions a week for about 20-30 minutes.

Give your muscles recovery time. You will need one full day of rest for each specific muscle group. It is during recovery when muscle mass is increased.

Remember to always get a doctors approval before starting a new workout program.

Sources:
Mueller, Jen. "Why Strength Training Is a Must for Everyone." SparkPeople. Spark People. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=364.

Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 30 June 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/strength-training/HQ01710>.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Surprising Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda



It is common knowledge that soda is not good for you. However, many still drink it. Here are some surprising reasons why you may want to put down that soda can.

Speed up aging. Soda contains phosphates (phosphoric acid) which give them their flavor and long shelf life. While phosphates exist naturally in some whole foods, too much phosphoric acid can lead to heart and kidney problems, muscle loss and osteoporosis. Also, a study published in the FASEB journal found that the high phosphate levels in soda caused lab rats to die 5 weeks earlier than rats that had normal phosphate levels. This is troubling because soda manufacturers have been increasing their phosphate levels over the past few decades.

Toxic cans. Not only does soda itself cause problems, so do the cans! Almost all aluminum soda cans are lined with bisphenol A (BPA). This is used to keep the acids that are in soda from reacting with the metal from the can. BPA is known to interfere with hormones and cause infertility, obesity, reproductive cancers, plus much more. The Centers for Disease Control has labeled soda cans as a major source of BPA.

Tooth decay. The acid in soda erodes tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.

Cravings. Aspartame, found in diet sodas, is known to increase carbohydrate cravings and promote weight gain. Also, aspartame leads to an increase in cravings for sugar or sweets.

Adverse effects. Sodas adversely interact with antacids which can lead to nausea, headaches, constipation and kidney damage.

Water pollution. Artificial sweeteners that are used in diet sodas do not break down in our bodies or water treatment plants. This means that these chemicals are entering into waterways and interfering with nature.

Thirst. If you are thirsty, a soda will not do the trick. It may actually leaving you thirstier than you were before.

Source:
"30 HEALTH REASONS NOT TO DRINK SODA OR DIET SODA." Creating Extraordinary Lives. Hccua. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. <http://www.hccua.org/health/healthandwellness.cfm?id=311>.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Health" Foods That Can Make You Fat

We all know that french fries and potato chips are not good for us. However, there are some surprising health food imposters that are actually not good for us at all. These foods with a healthy reputation can actually be worse for you than vending machines and fast food.

Dried Fruit. Cup for cup, dried fruit had 5 - 8 times more calories than fresh fruit. This is because the dried fruit has been hydrated and therefore is much denser. There are many brands that add extra sugar to add sweetness, but it also adds (a lot of) extra calories!

Granola. Granola does contain healthy nuts and oats. However, to make it taste good there is oil and sugar added. A bowl of granola can actually have more sugar than a can of coke.

Juice. Most juice is essentially water and sugar. A serving of juice can actually contain more calories and sugar than a can of soda.

Wraps. The surface area of a wrap is huge, more than 2 slices of bread. Therefore, if you add mayo and dressing, you will end up adding a lot more than compared to a regular sandwich.

Bottled Teas. Most ready-made store bought teas are packed with sugar, honey or sweeteners that add a lot of calories. This brings the calorie count almost to a bottle of soda.

Rice Cakes. While rice cakes are fat-free and low in calories, they do not contain fiber or protein - important ingredients that curb hunger. This goes to show that after your snack, you still make be craving something of substance. In addition, the flavored varieties are likely packed with sodium and sugar.

Salads. Yes, salads can be healthy. It's the cheese, croutons and dressings that can make salads unhealthy. This is when you salad sky rockets with calories and fat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why You Should Be Doing Yoga


What is yoga?
Yoga is a mind-body experience that some even use as a form of alternative medicine. Yoga is a physical and mental discipline. Through yoga you can achieve peacefulness, relax, and reduce stress and anxiety. There are many different styles and forms of yoga, so you can find the one that suits you best.

Health benefits of yoga.
  Flexibility: Stretching your body in new ways can increase flexibility, range of motion in the 
  muscles and joints.

  Strength: Poses in yoga require you to support your body in new ways. This challenge provides a
  "shock" to your body which results in increased strength.

  Muscle Tone: As a result of increasing strength, you will see an increase in muscle tone. Yoga 
  helps shape long, lean muscles (which also helps reduce cellulite.)

  Reduce Stress: Yoga distracts you from your busy life and can calm you down. Instead of focusing
  on your chaotic day you are concentrating on the precise movements in a quiet atmosphere. Yoga 
  provides a break from your stressors and helps put things in perspective. Yoga teaches you to be in 
  the moment and not dwell on past events or worry about the future. Physical activity alone reduces
  stress.

  Pain Prevention: With increased flexibility and strength pain can be reduced. Yoga helps with your
  alignment which helps your pain even after your workout.

  Better Breathing: Most people breathe very shallowly into their lungs, not using their lung's full 
  potential. Most of us don't put much thought into how we breathe. Yoga breathing exercises bring
  attention to your breath and teach us how to use our lungs more efficiently. This helps your entire 
  body. Better breathing has both physical and mental benefits.

  Calmness: While you are concentrating so intently on what your body is doing, your mind and
  body become calm.

  Body Awareness: You often need to make small, precise movements to improve your body
  alignment. As you continue with yoga, you will continue to grow more comfortable with your own
  body. This will lead to increased posture and self-confidence.
  Weight Loss: Yoga can encourage a healthy lifestyle and promote weight loss. Yoga increases your
  metabolism and control hunger.

  Slow Down Aging: Yoga stimulates a detoxing of the body which slows down the aging process.

  Blood Pressure: Through regular yoga practice blood pressure can be reduced due to better
  circulation and oxygenation of the body.

  Other: Yoga also promotes better sleep, increased mood, decreased anxiety and depression, and an
  improved memory.

As always, consult your health care provider before starting an exercise routine.

Source:
Walker, Meredith. "77 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga." Nursing Schools : LPN RN BSN MSN : Online Nursing Degree. Nursing Degree. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/24/77-surprising-health-benefits-of-yoga/>.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Defend Yourself From Food Cravings


No matter what time of day, we all experience food cravings. From salty, to fatty or sugary. These food cravings can really throw your diet off course. Food cravings can be both psychological and physiological, which makes trying to ignore them very difficult. Follow these tips for a few easy ways to defend yourself against the temptation.

Don't skip meals.
Skipping meals or going longer than 5 hours without eating will cause your blood sugar to drop and your cravings to rise.

Eat breakfast.
Research has shown that people who eat breakfast weigh less than those that do not. People who skip breakfast are more likely to make poor food choices later on in the day.

Stay hydrated.
Dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger. Water can help you feel full and keep your mind off of food cravings. It is important to drink water before you get thirsty. By the time you are thirsty, you are often already dehydrated.

Pick protein.
Eating every meal with a source of lean protein will help you feel fuller, longer and suppress your appetite. Protein also helps control blood sugar.

Brush your teeth.
So simple. Once your mouth is squeaky clean, you aren't going to want to mess it up. Wash those food cravings out of your mouth.

Distract yourself.
We crave food when we are bored, stressed, anxious etc. This is how food cravings become psychological. Find a way to distract yourself to get your mind off the cravings. Read a book, call a friend or go shopping to give yourself something to do. Make it something that you enjoy.

Chew on gum.
Recent studies have shown that chewing on gum can reduce food cravings. Make sure it is sugarless with few, or no, calories.

Exercise.
Exercise gets your mind off food cravings and can help suppress them. Also, after a workout, you aren't going to want to have it go to waste by eating unhealthy. You are more likely to make healthier choices after a workout.

Eliminate refined foods.
Research has shown that people can become addicted to refined foods. White bread, white sugar and white pasta are all examples of refined foods. When this happens, the more you eat, the more you crave. If you eliminate refined foods from your diet, you can reduce your cravings. Replace refined foods with fiber and whole grains.

Eat fiber.
Fiber keeps you fuller, longer and is great for digestion.

Clean out your cupboards/desk.
If you don't have unhealthy foods around, you can't eat them.

Avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
HFCS is a popular sweetener in foods because it is inexpensive and has a long shelf life. Consuming even a small amount makes you want more.

SOURCES:
Katherine Tallmadge, MARD, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman. Ruth Patrick, PhD, LDN, food science communicator, Institute of Food Technologists. Fergus Clydesdale, PhD, distinguished professor and head of food science department, University of Massachusetts. Lisa Dorfman, MSRD, LMHC, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman. WebMD Weight Loss Clinic article: "Are You a Midnight Muncher?" by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, published Sept. 12, 2003.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Your Target Heart Rate During Exercise


To get the most out of your workout you need to be working in your target heart rate zone. It has been shown that you need to get your heart rate up to a certain level for a certain amount of time to make sure that your heart is getting an efficient workout.

What is your target heart rate?
Your target heart rate is a percentage of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is the fastest that your heart can safely beat for your age. If you want to improve your fitness level, your heart rate needs to be in this zone for at least 20 minutes. This is the minimum level for health and weight loss.

Importance of your heart rate
Your heart rate determines how hard your heart is working. Failing to get your heart rate up to your target heart rate zone can lead to a less effective workout. Getting your heart rate too far above your target heart rate zone can lead to fatigue, injury or even death.

How to determine your target heart rate
There is an easy formula that applies to the general population:
(using a 20 year old as an example)
1. 220-your age = max heart rate (ex. 220-20 = 200 max heart rate)
2. 60-80% of your max heart rate = target heart rate zone
3. ex. 200 x .6 = 120 beats per minute
    ex. 200 x .8 = 160 beats per minute
4. Target heart rate for the average 20 year old = 120-160 beats per minute.

Heart rate monitors are also a great, easy way to determine your heart rate.

How to find your heart rate
1. Take your pulse by lightly placing your first 2 fingers over blood vessel either..
  - On the under side of your wrist (by your thumb) or..
  - On either side of your neck next to your Adam's apple
2. Then count the number of beats for 6 seconds
3. Multiply that number by 10
This way it gives you your beats per minute without having to stop exercising for a full minute. Take you pulse after you have been exercising for at least 5 minutes.

If you reach this intensity 3-5 times a week you will be on your way to success!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Does Creatine Supplementation Effect Your Workout?

If you are looking to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance, you may have heard of creatine supplementation. Creatine supplements are very popular among body builders and athletes. American's spend around $14 million per year on these supplements. Many turn to creatine in hopes of increasing lean muscle mass and enhancing athletic performance.

What is creatine?
Creatine, a naturally occurring amino acid, is a protein building block. Creatine is found in fish and meat and is also made by the human body. It is later converted into phosphocreatine and stored in ther muscles and used for energy. Creatine is useful when it comes to high-intensity, short-duration activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. This is because phosphocreatine is converted into ATP, which is a major energy source within the body.

Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sports.

How it works.
Creatine gives muscles the energy they need to work. Muscular contractions depend on ATP and how quickly it can be regenerated. Therefore, the increase in creatine is thought to increase the force of muscular contractions.

Positive effects of creatine.
Creatine is beneficial for increasing lean muscle mass, muscle power and strength, muscle glycogen accumulation (for increased energy storage and utilization capacity). Creatine is also beneficial for decreasing lactate production, fatigue, recovery time, inflammation and muscle soreness. Creatine also helps people with congestive heart failure, Parkinson's disease and gyrate atrophy (an eye disease).

Negative effects of creatine.
Creatine can lead to gastrointestinal stress and diarrhea. Creatine may be associated with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat. When taken in high doeses damage to the liver, kidney or heart may occur. Many people gain weight with creatine. This is because creatine causes muscle to hold water, not because it actually builds muscle. There can also be dangerous interactions with caffeine and certain medications, always consult a healthcare provider. Other side effects include; muscle cramps, muscle strains, upset stomach, dizziness and high blood pressure.

Is creatine effective?
Most research suggests creatine can be effective with exercise. Evidence suggests that creatine can improve athletic performance of young, healthy people with sport, high-intensity exercise (ex. sprinting). It does not seem to help with those over 60 years old or highly trained athletes. Creatine does not help with aerobic exercises. However, not all human studies show that creatine improves athletic performance. Also, not everybody responds the same way to creatine supplementation. If someone already has a high stores of creatine in their muscles, then they do not get the extra benefit from supplementation.

Sources:
Boone, Tommy, ed. "Creatine and Exercise - Strong Evidence for Stronger Heart Muscle?" Journal of Exercise Physiology 15.5 (2011). Web. 3 Apr. 2012.

Hall, Jenni. "Creatine Supplementation - Is It Effective?" School of Physiotherapy. 2001. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. http://physiotherapy.curtin.edu.au/resources/educational-resources/exphys/01/creatine.cfm.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Motivation Monday



It may seem hard to reach your goals. It may seem like it takes a lot to get there. Keep sticking to it!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chocolate For Weight Loss?

Photo Courtesy of ScienceDaily.com
Chocolate for weight loss may sound too good to be true, but is it? According to a new study, people who eat chocolate frequently actually weigh less than those who eat it less frequently. Good news for chocolate lovers! However, before you go running for the closest king-size chocolate bar, make sure to read below.

The study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who ate chocolate five times a week had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who ate it less frequently.

The study also showed that frequent chocolate eaters actually reported eating more calories and saturated fat than the people who ate chocolate less frequently. This is interesting because this may show that the calories in chocolate may be offset by its other ingredients that may boost your metabolism.

Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego says, "With modest amounts of chocolate, may have the effect of being free calories of even better than free - at least, the associations look that way." Dr. Golomb stated that the weight difference between the two groups was modest, but interesting given that more calories and saturated fat were consumed.

Dr. Golomb says that chocolate contains antioxidants that other research shows to possibly boost the energy-producing elements of the body's cells. She also states that chocolate appears to have favorable metabolic effects because fewer calories end up as fat deposited in the body. Chocolate contains polyphenols which can improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar. Other studies link eating chocolate to lowering your risk of a heart attack, boosting weight loss and protecting your skin from sun damage.

Before you go overboard with your consumption of chocolate, it still needs to be eaten in moderation. Try limiting your portions to a one ounce piece of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is the better way to go because it has a higher concentration of antioxidants and has less sugar than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is bittersweet, which suppresses the appetite, whereas sweet stimulates the appetite.

Eating chocolate is not the only thing you need to do to lose weight. Eating chocolate needs to be partnered with exercise and a healthy diet. Remember, a one ounce portion of dark chocolate a day is recommended.

Source:
Goodman, MA, Brenda. "Eat More Chocolate, Weigh Less?" WebMD. WebMD, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20120326/eat-more-chocolate-weigh-less.

Mandal, Dr. Ananya. "Chocolate for Weight Loss: Study." THE MEDICAL NEWS. 27 Mar. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. <http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120327/Chocolate-for-weight-loss-Study.aspx>.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sneaky Ways to Add Exercise Into Your Day

When it comes to exercise, every little bit counts. So finding ways to add extra activity into your day can really add up! All of the extra calories you burn mean the more pounds you will lose.

Step it up.
Instead of using the elevator to go up four flights of stairs (or even one!), take the stairs instead. Climbing stairs is a great workout, especially for your butt!

Take the farthest parking spot.
Instead of going on the prowl for the closest parking spot, grab the spot furthest away. You will burn extra calories walking to and from your destination. Unless it's raining and you forgot your umbrella, maybe then you can make an exception.

Lunch break walk.
Have a quick lunch at work and use your extra time to take a walk. You can get some fresh air and burn extra calories. Also, that walk can increase your productivity at work.

Pace while you talk.
Instead of plopping down on the couch while you are on the phone, walk around your house.

Set down your car keys.
Instead of driving down the street, walk to your destination. Help the planet and yourself!

Carry your groceries.
Instead of using the cart to carry a couple bags of groceries to your car, carry them instead for an upper body workout.

Get busy.Yes, having sex burns a ton of calories! It is a workout for two and it is good for your relationship.

Work your workout into family time.
Instead of watching a movie for family time, choose to do something more active. Go for a walk, ride bikes, play a sport or go to the park. It's exercise for the whole family.

Shake up cleaning day.
Cleaning burns a lot of calories, but if you dance while you clean you can burn even more. Plus, it is more fun!

Squeeze please.
While standing or sitting you can squeeze you gluteus maximus (butt muscles). These isometric exercises will get your tush toned just in time for swimsuit season. Squeeze and hold for a couple seconds, release, then repeat.

Commercial break tone-up.
Instead of going to the kitchen during a commercial break, do crunches or push-ups. You save calories on snacks and you burn more with exercise. If you are really determined, work out during the entire show.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

How 30 Minutes Can Make You Happy For Life

Photo
We have all experienced low times in our life. What do you go for to make yourself feel better? Sleep, alcohol, food or do you go for something else? To some, exercising may seem like the last thing they want to do when they are down, but it might be a good idea. Exercise is actually a great way to get yourself feeling better. Physical activity reduces anxiety and improves your mood in many ways.


Release of endorphins. As Elle Woods on Legally Blonde says, "Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy." It's as easy as that. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body and they are stimulated during exercise. This gives us a natural "high" and leaves us feeling happy. The release of endorphins also reduces the perception of pain.

Fun. Who says exercise has to be boring? Exercise is a great way to meet new people, try a new sport or spend time with friends. Go for a bike ride, try a dance class, take your dog for a walk, or anything that you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you will stick with it longer and be happier.

Sleep well. Exercise actually helps you get a better night's sleep. Exercise helps you get into a deeper state of sleep, as long as it's not done 2-3 hours before bed. A good night's sleep, leads to a better mood in the morning.

More energy. As you move, oxygen and nutrients are deliver to your brain and muscles so your body works more efficiently, giving you more energy. More energy means an improved mood.

Relieve stress. Exercise provides a distraction from your day to day problems and relieves stress.

On your body. Exercise increases your body temperature, which may have calming effects. You also gain confidence when you get in shape and start feeling better about yourself. Who doesn't want that? Physical activity can also lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Do I need to say much more to convince you to get moving?

Source:
Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 01 Oct. 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043>.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Often to Replace Your Running Shoes

Running or working out in old or worn out shoes is one of the most common injuries. As your running shoes get used more they lose shock absorption, support and cushioning. This causes an increase in stress and impact on your legs and joints, leading to overuse injuries.

Photo courtesy of: www.time.com
So when do you know it is time to replace your running shoes? It is best to replace them every 300-400 miles. If you have been feeling muscle fatigue, shin splints or pain in your joints, it is good sign to replace your shoes. If you think it is expensive to buy a new pair of shoes, an injury can be more expensive. The cost of doctors visits, tests and time off work could be several new pairs of shoes (without the pain!)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Health Controversy: Israel Puts a Ban on Models That Are 'Too' Thin


The fashion industry has long been on blast for using models that appear too thin, too young, that appears unhealthy and promote an unrealistic body image. Israel is choosing to do something about this controversy.

Israel passed a law last Monday that requires models to have a body mass index (BMI, calculated by dividing height and weight) that is no less than 18.5. The World Health Organization states that a BMI below 18.5 is indicative of malnutrition. If their BMI is less than 18.5, they need to get a note from a doctor saying that they are not underweight or malnourished before they can be hired. This law also requires that advertisers must state if Photoshop or other programs were used to alter the image to make models look thinner. This law does not apply to foreign publications that are sold is Israel.

To put this in perspective, a six foot tall model with a BMI of 18.5 would weigh around 136.5 pounds. Or a 5 foot 8 model must weight no less than 119 pounds. According to the Daily Mail, this law would disqualify famous model Kate Moss who has a BMI of around 17.


This new law will require models to provide a medical report that states that they are not malnourished at every shoot that will be used on the Israeli market. This report must date back no more than three months.

Israeli lawmakers are trying to fight the spread of eating disorders. The fashion industry has long been accused of encouraging eating disorders and idealizing extreme thinness. Supporters hope that this law will encourage advertisers to use healthy models and to shine a light on the use of digital image enhancement that can make models body appear unrealistic.

"We want to break the illusion that the model we see is real," said Liad Gil-Har, assistant to the law sponsor Dr. Rachel Adato. Adato says "On the one hand, maybe we will hurt a few models. On the other hand, we will save a lot of children." She also says "You don't need to be underweight to be beautiful, or successful."

Critics of this law say that the legislation should be focused more on health and not weight. They say that models are naturally very thin.

What do you think about this? Is it a good or bad idea?

Source:
"Israel Trying to Ban Too-skinny Models in Ads; Law Would Require Doctor's OK That Model Is Not Malnourished ." NY Daily News. 20 Mar. 2012. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/israel-ban-too-skinny-models-ads-law-require-doctor-model-malnourished-article-1.1047443>.

Setting Effective Exercise Goals

As people start a new workout routine, many set goals. Goals are a great way to keep you on track, if they are done right. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success.

Personalize your goals. Set goals that are just for you. Don't set goals based on others. What is good for one person, may not be so good for you.

Set realistic goals. Healthy weight loss happens slowly. This means losing about 1-2 pounds a week. If you set a huge, unrealistic goal you will feel disappointed and discouraged. Setting unrealistic goals may lead to you becoming frustrated and then giving up.

Be specific. "Exercise more" is too general and can be hard to follow, and easy to give up on. Set a measurable goal like "exercise 4 times a week." A more specific goal can be easier to follow.

Make short term and long term goals. If you just set one big long term goal, it may seem impossible to hit and leave you feeling discouraged. If you set many short term goals, they can lead you to your long term goal. Instead of making you goal "I want to lose 50 pounds", try something like "I want to lose 5 pounds each month."

Document. Writing your goals down can give you a reminder and keep you thinking about your goals. Also, you won't forget them!

Tell others. Telling others about your goals can give you more encouragement. This can leave you accountable to achieving success.

Set a date. Set a date to when you want to achieve your goals by. If you say "I want to lose 10 pounds", you could spend the next 20 years trying to lose 20 pounds. Instead, say "I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of May." This will give you a timeline to keep you on track.

Evaluate. It is important to evaluate your progress. Think about what worked and what did not. Your goals may need adjusted if they are not realistic or you need to take on greater challenges.

It feels great when you accomplish a goal, so make smart ones!

Friday, March 23, 2012

How to Beat Your Exercise Excuses

We all know that exercise is very important. So why do we always find an excuse not to do it? Well I'm here to turn your excuses into motivation.

Excuse #1: I don't have enough time
Not too many people that I have met say that aren't busy at one point or another. It comes down to setting priorities, you need to MAKE time to exercise. Do what I do and schedule it into your day, make it an appointment. Physical activity actually increases productivity. So by exercising, you may get other tasks done faster than you had originally planned. Take time to reflect on what you are making time for, is it something like watching TV?

Excuse #2: Exercise is boring
Exercise does not mean you need to spend an hour on the treadmill. I haven't met too many people that thinks that is fun. Instead, take your run outside, try a new sport or Zumba class. The key is finding something that you enjoy. One of my favorite things to do is walk my dog, a workout for both of us! Exercise does not need to take place in a gym. Also, switch up your workout routine every couple of weeks to keep things fresh and for other benefits.
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Excuse #3: I'm in pain
Exercise can actually help you manage pain. Exercise strengthens your muscles that support your joints. Strong muscles also keep your bones healthy and strong. Yoga has been found to manage back pain better than conventional methods. If you have arthritis you can try swimming. It is a full body, low impact activity that won't place stress on your joints.


Excuse #4: I don't have enough money
Yes, gym memberships can be expensive, but you don't need a gym to be in shape. Gyms haven't been around forever after all, so there had to be a way that people stayed in shape back in the day. There are many free or low cost ways that you can exercise. Activities like walking, dancing, exercise videos, buying a few dumbbells for your home can all be great ways to get active.
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Excuse #5: I'm too out of shape to exercise
I say it over and over again, IT'S NEVER TOO LATE! In fact, this excuse should be the reason that you do exercise. It is understandable that many who are overweight are afraid to even step foot in a gym with a fear of being judged. First of all, most people aren't paying attention to what others are doing at the gym anyway. However, if you are still discouraged, find a more private spot to work out until you feel more comfortable. (Refer to the previous excuse for ideas).

Excuse #6: It's too hot/cold
I will admit, this is an excuse of mine occasionally. When exercising in the heat it is imperative that you stay hydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that you drink at least 1 pint of fluid for each pound of body weight lost. There are some heat related illnesses that can be acquired, but staying properly hydrated and wearing breathable clothing are the best way to prevent these. For exercising in cold weather ACSM says, "For the most part, cold weather is not a barrier to performing physical activity." Make sure that you are wearing cold weather gear and as exercise intensity increases, you can reduce your clothing insulation.

Excuse #7: I don't want to mess up my hair
I am also guilty of this excuse. However, I have found that dry shampoo products can work wonders as a touch up. Sprinkle some of that on your hair and blow dry it and it will look post-shower fresh.

Excuse #8: I'm hung over
Calling all partiers!! Being hung over is not an excuse to not go workout. Working out may seem like that last thing you want to do, but physical activity can actually help your hangover. When you get moving you get blood flowing to your muscles and oxygen to your brain. Just remember to stay hydrated.

Excuse #10: I'm tired
Exercise actually helps you feel more energized and alert. As a group fitness instructor, there have been many times that I did not want to go teach because I was too tired. However, after my class was finished, I felt great! Exercise gets your blood flowing and when your body has the oxygen and nutrients that it needs, you will have more energy.
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Excuse # 11: I'm not seeing any changes
This is a common one. many people get discouraged because they are not seeing any changes in their body. Change in your body do not come overnight, it takes time. It takes up to 12 weeks to start seeing changes in your body. However, the health benefits start immediately.

Do you still have excuses? Tell them to me and I will come up with a solution!

Source:
Whaley, Mitchell H., Peter H. Brubaker, Robert M. Otto, and Lawrence E. Armstrong. ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006. Print.