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.
Photo courtesy of www.askthefitnessdude.com


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.
Photo courtesy of www.pehub.com


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.
Photo courtesy of www.fr2day.com

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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quick, Easy Tips to Get Ready For Swimsuit Season

Summer is just around the corner, it seemed to have snuck up quickly! That means we have to break out the swimsuit. Follow these easy steps to get ready.

Posture. Improve you posture and instantly improve the way you look. Improving your posture is the easiest way to look great and several pounds thinner. Bad posture takes inches off of your height while making your stomach look bigger. So keep your back straight and shoulders back.

Get moving. Start today! Every time you get moving, the results add up. Use the stairs instead of the elevator or park further away in the parking lot instead of going on the prowl for the closest spot. Every calorie you burn brings you closer to your goals.

Easy Exercises. To help get swim suit ready try these at-home exercise moves.


Push-ups.
They are a great multi-tasker. With push-ups you target 6 major muscle groups at once: triceps, biceps, deltoids (shoulders), pectorals (chest), abs and gluteals (butt).
Photo courtesy of www.byetofats.com







Squats.
Great for you butt and thighs. Keep your feet hip width apart,
keep your abs drawn in and you back flat for the perfect squat.
Photo courtesy of www.eastbaytrainer.com
                                                               




Lunges.
Another great exercise for your butt and thighs as well as your core. Make sure your knee stays behind you toe while you are lunging to prevent knee injuries.
Photo courtesy of www.byetofats.com
                                                         Planks.
Hold yourself in a push-up position
to get a killer core. Hold your plank
for as long as you can.
Photo courtesy of www.eastbaytrainer.com

Watch what you eat. That order of fries might sound good to you now, but it will not be so good to your waistline later. Go for a side of vegetables or fruit instead. You are not going to get swimsuit ready if you do not pay attention to what you eat.

Salads. While you are watching what you eat, you may opt for a salad. Salads can sometimes be deceiving though. When you add dressings, oils, bacon, cheese and croutons you are also adding a ton of extra calories and fat. Ask for dressing on the side and get healthy vegetables instead.

Reduce bloating.
  - Eat fiber. While fiber curbs you appetite, it also reduces constipation and bloating. Whole grains, 
    fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber. Be careful not to add too much fiber to your diet
    too fast.
  - Skip salt. Salt makes you retain water and will leave you bloated for days.
  - Pass on the beer. Beer is bad news for your weight loss goals. Find out more.

Get glowing skin. Exfoliate to get glowing, smooth skin. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and leaves it looking (and feeling) soft. Moisturize everyday to fight off dryness.

Get a tan. No, this does not mean visiting your local tanning salon. Self tanners give results just as good as a tanning bed, without the health risks! My favorite is Jergens Natural Glow tanning lotion. It gives you color naturally, without looking fake.

Get a pedicure. This means guys too! It does not mean you have to spend money at a salon, you can give yourself a pedicure at home. Nobody wants to look at ugly toes.

Your swimsuit. Find the perfect swim suit for your body type to flatter your figure.

Have confidence. If you think you look good in your swimsuit, everyone else will too.

By taking these steps, your body will thank you.

Tips For Allergy Sufferers

The warmer temperatures lately have been wonderful! However, if you are like me, you are noticing one draw back. Allergies. Yes, these warmer temperatures are causing allergy season to come earlier this year. According to The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, approximately 40 million Americans suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies. Often, the symptoms of seasonal allergies can leave you feeling quite miserable.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?
Symptoms can include sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy nose and post-nasal drip. Not everybody experiences all of these symptoms, sometimes there may only be one occurring. It can be hard to tell the difference between a cold and allergies. Typically, if your symptoms last longer than a week, it could be allergies.

Reducing your exposure to allergens.
Just by simply reducing your exposure to the things that trigger your signs and symptoms (allergens), you can significantly reduce your symptoms.

  - Stay inside on dry or windy days. It is best to go outside just after it rains because the rain helps
    clear pollen from the air.

  - Let someone else be in charge of the yard work such as mowing the lawn and gardening.

  - Remove clothes that you have worn inside and put them directly in the washer to prevent the
    allergens from floating around inside. Showering may also be a good idea to remove pollen from
    your skin and hair.

  - Don't hang laundry up to dry outside because pollen can stick to it.

  - Check the news for pollen levels and avoid being outside when the pollen levels are high.

  - Start taking medication at least 2 weeks before your symptoms start to give it time to work.

  - Keep windows closed in your car and home, use your AC instead.

  - Avoid early morning outdoor activity when pollen counts are the highest.

  - Try different OTC medications if one is not working for you.

Knowing when to seek help.
If none of these remedies are working, it may be time to see an allergist. They will do skin testing or blood work to see exactly what you are allergic to and prescribe a treatment that is right for you.

Sources:
More, Daniel. "Seasonal Allergies." About.com Allergies. About.com, 06 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. http://allergies.about.com/od/allergies101/a/seasonalallergy.htm.

Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Springtime Allergies: Nip Them in the Bud." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/springtime-allergies/AA00060>.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Importance of Water

Water is the main component of the human body. About 2/3 of the body is water. Important tissues and organs are primarily made up of water. Water plays a very important role in the body. Without water your body can not function properly.
  - Muscles consist of about 75% water
  - The brain consists of about 90% water
  - Bone consists of about 22% water
  - Blood consists of about 83% water

Many of these functions of the human body require water to take place:
  - Transport nutrients and oxygen into cells
  - Moisturize air in the lungs
  - Protect vital organs
  - Boosts metabolism
  - Assists organs in absorbing nutrients
  - Regulates body temperature
  - Detoxes the body
  - Protects and moisturizes joints

There are many benefits of drinking water. Some of these are:
Banish headaches. Headaches can be a symptom of dehydration, so by staying hydrated you may be able to keep your headaches away.

Lose weight. Water is a natural appetite suppressant and increases metabolism. So by drinking water you can reduce hunger cravings. Water also helps flush out the by-products of fat loss and aids in the breakdown of stored fats in the body.

Great looking skin. Drinking water helps to replenish skin tissues, moisturize and increase skin elasticity.

Increase productivity. Since the brain in mainly made up of water, by staying hydrated you can be more alert and increase concentration.

Reduce muscular injury. Water keeps your muscles and joints lubricated. By staying properly hydrated you can reduce muscle cramps and injuries.

Relieve fatigue. Water flushes out toxins and waste products from the body. If your body is craving water your body will need to work harder to carry out its functions, in turn making you feel fatigued.

Improve digestion. Water breaks down the food that we eat.

How much water should you drink?
It is hard to know exactly how much water you should be drinking each day. An easy way to estimate is to multiply 0.5 oz with your body weight in pounds. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs you should drink a minimum of 75 oz a day. That is about 9-10 glasses a day. There are many factors that contribute to a fluctuation in your need for water such as exercise or illness.

Sources:

17 Health Benefits of Drinking Water." Health Cave. 12 May 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://healthcave.com/17-health-benefits-of-drinking-water/>.

Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 12 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Portion Distortion: How Big Should Your Portions Be?

Many people tend to underestimate the amount of food that we eat and overestimate the recommended portion sizes. It is hard to know exactly what a "portion size" is. So I will give you an easy way to visualize what a portion is for popular foods that you may eat everyday.


A serving of fruit or vegetables
A woman’s fist or baseball
A serving of meat or poultry
A deck of cards or the palm of your hand
A serving of dried fruit or nuts (1/4 cup)
A golf ball
A serving of ice cream (1/2 cup)
A tennis ball
A serving of cheese (1 ½ oz.)                     
3 dice
A serving of fish (aprox. 3 oz.)   
The size of a check book
1 small baked/sweet potato
The size of a computer mouse
1 bagel
Small 6 oz. can of tuna
A serving of cereal or pasta
A baseball
A serving of cooked rice (1/2 cup)
A light bulb
A serving of lunch meat (1 oz.)
A compact disc
Butter, margarine,mayo or salad dressing (1 tbsp)
A poker chip
Brownie
A package of dental floss
A slice of cake (3 ½ oz.)
A deck of cards
1 cookie
2 poker chips
1 muffin
A hockey puck
Chili or soup (1 cup)
A baseball


Source:
"Portion Size Plate | Recommended Serving Sizes for Portion Control." WebMD. WebMD. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-portion-size-plate>.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Is Organic Food Worth Spending Your Money On?

What is the difference between organic and non-organic foods? Is organic better for you? I'm here to help you sort out the difference and make a healthy, informed choice. Get the facts before your next grocery store trip.

Organic and non-organic foods differ in the way that they are farmed. Organic farming is designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Organic farmers do not use chemicals to fertilize, control weeds or prevent disease. These are some of the major differences between organic and conventional farming.

Conventional
Organic
Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth
Natural fertilizers are used to feed soil and plants like manure and compost.
Use herbicides to control weeds
Rotate crops, hand weeds or mulch to manage weeds
Spray insecticides to reduce pests and diseases.
Use beneficial insects or birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease
Animals are given antibiotics, growth hormones and medication to prevent disease and promote growth.
Animals are fed organic feed and allow them to be outdoors. Preventative measures are used to minimize disease like rotational grazing and clean housing.


How can you tell if a product is organic or not? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an organic certification program. This program requires that all organic food meet strict government regulations like how the food is grown, handled and processed. Any product that claims that it is organic must be USDA certified. With the exception of producers who sell less than $5,000 a year, but they still must follow the regulations.

Products labeled "100% organic" are either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients. Labels that say "organic" are at least 95% organic. Products that are labeled "made with organic ingredients" contain at least 70% of organic ingredients, but do not have the seal.

Is organic food more nutritious? There isn't a clear answer yet, but there are other reasons why people may choose organic food over conventional food.
     - Pesticides. The pesticides that are sprayed on the produce leave a residue lingering. This
       may be a reason that people choose organic, to reduce their exposure to these chemicals.
       Organic food contain far fewer pesticides than conventional produce. Studies have linked
       pesticide exposure to cancer, neurological damage, birth defects and possibly the early onset of
       Parkinson's Disease.
     - Food Additives. Organic regulations restrict the use of food additives, processing aids or
       fortifying agents. This includes preservatives, colorings, artificial preservatives ad flavorings.
     - Environmental Reasons. Organic farming is designed to benefit the environment. This is
       done by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.

What are the negatives to buying organic? The most common concern with buying organic is the cost. Organic food can be 50-100% more expensive than conventional food. They may also spoil faster because they do not contain chemicals or preservatives.

What are the foods that you should buy organically? Certain foods are more susceptible to pesticide residue than others. With cost in mind, it may be beneficial to know what foods are most important to buy organically:
     - Apples, nectarines, pears. Unfortunately the peel is where most of the pesticide chemicals
       accumulate, the healthiest part.
     - Bell Peppers. Have one of the highest concentrations of pesticide residues.
     - Celery.
     - Grapes.
     - Spinach and lettuce. 57 different pesticide chemicals have been found on spinach and 51 on
       lettuce.
     - Potatoes and carrots.
     - Milk and beef. The cows are not given antibiotics or hormones.
     - Baby foods. Kids' immune systems are not fully developed.
     - Strawberries. Pesticide residue accumulates within the seeds.

Foods that have the least amount of pesticide residues and not worth spending your money on:
     - Mangoes, kiwi, pineapple, avocados and bananas. Wash the skin, even though it is not edible,
       to reduce contamination on your skin.
     - Broccoli.
     - Cabbage and onions. Once the outer layer is removed.
     - Peas.
     - Asparagus.
     - Corn. The pesticides get absorbed in the husks that are removed.

Source:
BONFILS, DARCY. "Organic vs. Nonorganic: What Fruits and Veggies Should You Buy?" ABC News. ABC News Network, 08 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/JustOneThing/organic-nonorganic-buy/story?id=13310727>.
    

    

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Keeping Your Waistline In Mind On St. Patrick's Day

With St. Patrick's Day around the corner, many are heading to the bars to celebrate. Green beer sounds good to me, but not to your waist line. Alcohol negatively affects your fitness program in almost every way. Alcohol adds excess calories, increases your appetite, changes the way you burn fat and can add excess fat.

Many people forget about the calories that they drink, which can be dangerous when you are trying to lose weight. Alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram, which is almost twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein and almost as much as fat (9 calories per gram.) All of this is providing little or no nutritional benefit.

Alcohol increases your appetite and lowers your inhibitions and reasoning, which can make that late night stop at a fast food restaurant seem like a good idea. Alcohol increases insulin levels which causes your blood sugar to take a significant dip, in turn making you more hungry. Research has shown that people consume 20% more calories at a meal when alcohol was consumed before, as opposed to when no alcohol was consumed. That results in a total 33% increase when the calories from alcohol are taken into account.

Also, alcohol changes the way that you burn fat. The calories in alcohol don't get stored as fat, they are converted into acetate. Acetate is burned off before any fat that you are trying to work off does. If you are tired or hungover the next day, you probably won't be going to the gym to work off the calories you packed on the night before.

Worst of all, alcohol causes you to make more fat and directs it to the fat stores located around the middle of your body. This fat is less proportionately distributed on your body, therefore more noticeable causing the infamous "beer belly." Also, excess weight around the abdomen is a contributing factor to heart disease.

Tips to help you have a good time, while still keeping your waistline in mind:

- Have one nonalcoholic drink between each alcoholic drink.
- Eat before you drink.
- Keep water on hand to quench your thirst, instead of guzzling your alcoholic drink.
- Sip your drinks to make them last longer.
- Avoid the high calorie drinks such as long islands or margaritas.

It is perfectly fine to have alcohol, in moderation. Moderation is two drinks a day for men and one drink for women. Drinking alcohol in moderation actually may have health benefits. When you consume alcohol regularly or binge drink, it may be counteracting all of your weight loss efforts.

Source:
"MedicineNet.com." MedicineNet. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. http://www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_and_nutrition/page3.htm.

Waehner, Paige. "Alcohol and Weight Gain." About.com Exercise. 10 Nov. 2009. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <http://exercise.about.com/od/healthinjuries/a/alcoholandweightgain.htm>.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy Ways To Live Healthier

Now, if you read my previous post about how do healthy right, do you want to do it better? Read the list below to find out how to live even healthier, and it's easy!

Fight Cancer
Eat the peel. Most of the benefits of the apple are in the skin. The skin's of apples have the ability to inhibit growth of breast, liver and colon cancer cells.

Get a Good Night's Sleep
Smell lavender or rosemary. These scents can help you sleep better and lower your levels of stress hormones by up to 24 percent. People who smell lavender or rosemary are better at getting rid of free radicals, molecules that can accelerate aging and disease. I spray a lavender scent on my pillow every night and it does help me fall asleep faster!

Get a Healthy Smile
Kiss your partner. Kissing increases saliva in your mouth. Saliva cleans your teeth and gets rid of the bacteria that causes cavities.

Increase Muscle Strength
Stretch. You will increase flexibility as well as building strength. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine studied leg strength among 30 adults. The study showed those who did a series of stretches 5 days a week loosened up tight muscles and increased their joint range of motion. Also their hamstring and quadricep muscles became much stronger.

Keep Your Eyes Sharp
Eat eggs. Eggs are even better for your eyes than carrots. They are a better source of carotenoids that are eye-healthy antioxidants that benefit your retina which is crucial for central vision.

Keep Headaches Away
Have good posture. Forward head posture is when your neck protrudes forward and you have to lift your head up to see. This commonly happens while sitting in front of a computer. This compresses the nerves and muscles at the base of your skull which causes headaches. Sit up tall and make sure your ears are in line with your shoulders to prevent headaches.


Source:
Health & Weight-loss Breakthroughs 2010. Rodale, 2010. Print.



Monday, March 12, 2012

Signs That You Will Live Longer

Who doesn't want to live a longer, healthier life? Below is a list of signs that suggest you may live longer.

Your mom had you young. If your mom had you before the age of 25, you are twice as likely to live to the age of 100 as someone who was born to an older mom. Scientists at the University of Chicago suggest that, moms' best eggs go first to fertilization, that leads to healthier offspring.

You drink tea. Black and green tea to be specific. They both contain catechins that help your blood vessels relax and protect your heart. Just 1 or 2 cups a tea will do good things for your heart. However, bottled tea's that are ready to drink do not offer the same benefits. When there is water added to the tea, the catechins degrade.

 You floss your teeth. Only 5-10% of Americans regularly floss their teeth. Flossing your teeth every night removes bacteria that causes inflammation. Inflammation in the gums can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Floss your teeth every night to add 6 years to your life.

You skip soda. Yes, even diet soda! Drinking even just one soda a day doubles your risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions such as high blood pressure, excess fat around the waist, and elevated insulin levels. All of these your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Have sex. Regular sexual activity may lower your blood pressure, help you sleep better, boost your immune system, and protect your heart. Also, it helps with a healthy marriage and can burn up to 200 calories! Add 3-5 years to your life.

You eat purple foods. Foods like blueberries, red grapes, blackberries, even red wine all contain polyphenols. Polyphenols keep your blood vessels and arteries healthy. These reduce the risk of heart disease and may protect against Alzheimer's disease.

You were a healthy weight as a teen. Being overweight by the age of 14 increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes when you are an adult, according to a study in The Journal of Pediatrics. Those who have diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease than those without.

You pass on the burgers. A few serving sizes of beef, pork, or lamb every so often is not a big deal. It is when you eat more than 18 ounces of red meat per week when it becomes an issue. Consuming this much red meat increases your risk of colorectal cancer, the third most common type of cancer. It is unclear why red meats are harmful, but it is suspected that carcinogens form when the meat is cooked.

You have good friends. Having people close to you can reduce your stress. Having people to support you keeps you healthy, both mentally and physically. Chronic stress suppresses your immune system and ages cells more rapidly. All of this shortens your life by 4-8 years.

Source:
Health & Weight-loss Breakthroughs 2010. Rodale, 2010. Print.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Surprising Health Food Imposters That You Should Avoid

Chances are that if you are reading this article you want to make healthy food choices and you care about your health. The list below contains some foods that are perceived to be healthy, but that is not the case. Just because marketing may make it seem like something is healthy does not mean that it is!

Baked Potato Chips:
While they are lower in fat, they are still high in calories, low in nutrients, and do not fill you up.
Smarter Alternative:
Popcorn. You will still get the crunch and saltiness, with 65% fewer calories. Just do not load it up with butter or oils. Go for air popped brands.
Health Bonus:
Whole grains that are good for your heart and your waist line. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association stated that adults that eat popcorn take in 2 1/2 time more of whole grains than people who do not.

Gummy Fruit Snacks:
While some fruit snacks may contain a little juice, for the most part they are usually nothing more than candy that has had some vitamins added to it. They also contain high fructose corn syrup, which is linked to obesity. As well as partially hydrogenated oils, that are NOT good for your heart!
Smarter Alternative:
Fresh or dried fruit. They both have fiber to keep you full and countless health benefits that you will not get with the fruit snacks.
Health Bonus:
Real fruit contains nutrients that boost your immune system. As well as antioxidants that fight cancer.

Light Ice Cream:
Light Ice Cream can have fewer calories, but it is not always for sure. Sometimes the lighter version has more calories than the regular version. The light version often lacks the flavor that is in the regular version. This may leave you unsatisfied and therefore tempt you to over-indulge. People tend to think that if it is "light" then they can eat more and it will equal the dietary equivalent as the regular version.
Smarter Alternative:
Dairy-free ice cream, it may save you calories.
Health Bonus:
It contains fiber that is good for digestion. Some are made with chicory root which is a natural source of inulin. Inulin is a prebiotic that increases healthy bacteria in your gut and helps your body absorb nutrients.

Diet Soda:
Research has linked drinking even just one diet soda a day to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms such as belly fat, putting you at a higher risk for heart disease. Diet soda may contain caffeine and other artificial ingredients.
Smarter Alternative:
Flavored fizzy water. It has zero calories, with the carbonation and flavor you are used to. Watch out for ones containing artificial sweeteners.
Health Bonus:
You are getting water that is essential for almost every part of your body, without the chemicals.

Non-Fat Salad Dressings:
Non-Fat salad dressings are often loaded with sugar to make up for the lack of taste from not having any fat. This results in extra calories.
Smarter Alternative:
Oil-based salad dressings such as olive or vinegar. You get the fats that are good for you, without the saturated fats. Also, get the dressing on the side.
Health Bonus:
You need a little fat on your salad to be able to absorb all of its nutrients.

100-Calorie Snack Packs:
Studies have shown that people may eat more food and calories if they are in smaller portions. People often eat more than one portion until they are satisfied.
Smarter Alternative:
A small portion of almonds. The contain protein and fiber to keep you full.
Health Bonus:
Many healthy nutrients including magnesium that gives you strong bones.

Source:
Health & Weight-loss Breakthroughs 2010. Rodale, 2010. Print.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

In Case You Run Out of Motivation

The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body

Almost every mom I see pushing a stroller is holding a cup of coffee. The lines at popular coffee shops are often very long. In most book stores and libraries there are coffee shops. Caffeine has become an important part of most of our lives.

In my last blog post I talked about the effectiveness of 5-Hour Energy shots. Now I think it is important to talk about the effects of caffeine on the body.

For the average, healthy adult moderate doses of caffeine are safe and not harmful. This means about 200-300 milligrams (or two-four cups of coffee) a day. Caffeine can stimulate your central nervous system, eliminate fatigue and make you feel more awake.

It is when you consume more than 500 mg a day of caffeine a day that you may start to see problems. Some of these include; insomnia, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, depression, upset stomach, tachycardia (rapid heart beat), and muscle tremors.

These numbers are not set in stone, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Some people, myself included, can be susceptible to these unwanted effects in just small amounts. Your sensitivity to caffeine may correlate with how much caffeine you are used to drinking or other factors such as body mass, age, medications or health concerns. It has also been suggested that men are more susceptible to these effects than women are.

Using caffeine to make up for lost sleep can create a viscous cycle. The average person need 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you only get 4 hours of sleep one night, you may rely of several cups of coffee to keep you alert the next day. Then that night you are restless and can not sleep because of all of the caffeine you drank during the day and you may only get 3 hours of sleep the next night. See where I'm going here?

Since I work with kids, I hear moms all the time talking about how they "need" their coffee and wish they could give it up. I overheard a mom talking about how she gave caffeine up recently and she feels so much better ever since she has gotten rid of it. If you feel the need to decrease or eliminate your daily caffeine consumption, it is important to do it gradually so you do not get any withdrawal symptoms.

For most adults caffeine is not a health problem, when used in moderation. If you have any concerns about your daily caffeine intake you should contact your doctor.

Sources:
National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis -- 2008. Washington, DC.
Escott-Stump S. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Truth Behind 5-Hour Energy

The popular 5-Hour Energy shots are everywhere. At the counters of gas stations, college students dorm rooms, the teacher's desk or stashed in the car. The makers of 5-Hour Energy claim that you feel "awake and alert for hours" and that it contains as much caffeine as one cup of coffee. Energy drinks have rapidly increased in popularity recently as many people are looking for a "quick fix". They are hoping for an enhancement of daily activities or sports performance. However, is this really the case?

A study published in The Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise researched whether the shot can enhance short and long-term cognitive function. It was found that there was no statistical significant increase in short or long-term cognitive function when compared to the placebo. Interestingly, those that took the shot believed that it was working effectively as compared to the placebo.

Research has not found that 5-Hour Energy's ingredients go above and beyond the effects of caffeine. Even on the 5-Hour Energy website it says that "the key ingredients in 5-Hour Energy are also available in every day foods - like broccoli, avocado's, bananas, and apples - or already in you." However, the ingredient that creates a sense of energy, caffeine, is not in any of these foods. The manufacturer's also claim that there is as much caffeine in on 5-Hour energy as the leading cup of premium coffee. There is actually about 15 percent more caffeine in one shot than just a "short" cup of Starbucks coffee.

Source:
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
May 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 5 - p 644
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000401782.26505.a8
D-40 Free Communication/Poster - Supplements II (Caffeine and Energy Drinks): JUNE 2, 2011

What Comes First - Cardio or Weights?

I get asked a lot, "Should I do weights or cardio first?" It is not such a simple answer. The answer depends on what your fitness goals are. Your goals depend on whether you should do cardiovascular exercise before or after weight training.

Cardiovascular exercise (cardio) is aerobic activity that uses oxygen at a rate in which the respiratory system can replace oxygen to working muscles that places consistent demands on the heart, lungs and the cardiorespiratory system. Some examples include; walking, running on the treadmill, or riding a bike. Cardio exercise is done at a sustained pace over a long period of time. Blood glucose, stored glucose and fat are the main fuel source.

Weight training exercise is anaerobic activity which is activity in short bursts in which the muscles demand for oxygen is exceeded. Stored muscle glucose and phosphocreatine and the main fuel sources.

Now that your know the difference between the two exercises, let's go over some different scenarios that answer the question which exercise you should do first.

Weights before cardio. If weight training is done before cardio, you have a lot of energy to focus on weight training. Many people do not want to spend too much time doing cardio before weights because they believe that they will not have enough energy to lift well. However, doing 45 minutes of moderate level cardio is not enough to significantly deplete your energy sources.

Doing cardio after weights also may allow you to burn more fat. This happens because during wight training your body will deplete some carbohydrate stores that will put you in fat burning mode.

Cardio before weights. If cardio is done first thing, you will be able to do this more efficiently. A tired body after weight training does not yield a higher aerobic fitness outcome. If you want to lose weight and maximize aerobic fitness, it is essential that a quality cardiovascular exercise is done to maximize output.

A study from the Human Performance Research Center at Brigham Young University tested these different scenarios.
- EPOC, which is the measure of after burn, or energy output, after exercise is stopped is the greatest when cardio was done BEFORE weight training.
- Cardio AFTER weights is more difficult, which has implications for efficiency and safety.
- It is recommended that cardio be done BEFORE weights when combining them into one workout.

The answer? It is quite complex, but it is recommended that cardio be done before weights for the general population. If weight loss is not your goal and you are a body builder, cardio and weights can be done on different days. If increasing muscle mass in your goal, it is important to not skip cardio! Your body is unique, listen to it and do what you think is best.

Sources
Drummond MJ, Vehrs PR, Schaalje GB, Parcell AC. Aerobic and resistance exercise sequence affects excess postexercise oxygen consumption. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 May;19(2):332-7.

Miyachi M, Kawano H, Sugawara J, Takahashi K, Hayashi K, Yamazaki K, Tabata I, Tanaka H. Unfavorable effects of resistance training on central arterial compliance: a randomized intervention study.Circulation. 2004 Nov 2;110(18):2858-63.