Category Archives: Fitness

How to Keep the Calories off This Easter

Though Easter may have originated as a Christian holiday, it has been thought of as a time for family gatherings and feasting.  Feasting on chocolate, feasting on candy, feasting on ham, feasting on macaroni and cheese and sweet potato casserole, feasting on…OK, we get the point.  The typical Thanksgiving meal is around 4,500 calories per person: nearly twice the daily recommended allowance. The New York Times’ Tara Parker-Pope wanted to test this theory so she created a virtual Thanksgiving feast that would sit with even the most insatiable eater.

  • 6 oz. of turkey, with skin: 299 calories
  • sausage stuffing: 310 calories
  • dinner roll and butter: 310 calories
  • sweet-potato casserole: 300 calories
  • mashed potatoes and gravy: 140 calories
  • green-bean casserole: 110 calories
  • cranberry sauce: 15 calories
  • brussels sprouts: 83 calories
  • pumpkin pie: 316 calories
  • pecan pie: 503 calories
  • whipped cream: 100 calories

total: 2,486 calories

Your family probably makes a ham for Easter and substitutes banana cream pie for pumpkin pie but the point is that the meals are very similar and probably have the same caloric value.  Parker-Pope says you could push your calorie count higher by downing a few glasses of wine or pre-dinner snacks (or, adds NewsFeed, by using a Paula Deen cookbook). But at some point, the body just says no: “After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea.” Still, it may be possible to overcome your gut reflexes and stuff like a champ. ‘You can stretch your stomach’s capacity (normally about 8 cups) by regularly overeating over time,’ according to Lawrence Kosinski, committee chairman of the American Gastroenterological Association.

Replace your Heavenly Ham with lean meat choices in the form of pork, lamb, veal, poultry or game at 3 g of fat and 55 calories per ounce; just make sure you don’t exceed six ounces or there will be no point in choosing a leaner meat.  These meat choices are also recommended for diabetics in the family who will appreciate the fact that you kept them in mind while cooking.  As disappointing as it might be, serve bowls of mixed fruit topped with light whipped cream to your guests instead of pie: you won’t feel as guilty the next morning when you step on the scale.  Limit the amount of chocolate/candy the ‘Easter Bunny’ puts in each basket and hold a challenging ‘post-dinner Easter Egg Hunt’ outside to walk off calories as you race each other to find eggs.  The use of incentives such as money or gift cards in random eggs is helpful in motivating just about everyone to get off the couch and join the hunt.

HAPPY EASTER, HEALTHY EASTER!

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Protein Powders Exposed

Muscle Milk and Jack3d: two of the most popular creatine powders used among the population’s young athletes in the past decade.  Creatine—typically bought in flavored powders and mixed with liquid—increases the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly. With more energy, you can train harder and more often, producing faster results.  It’s this simple: “If you can lift one or two more reps or 5 more pounds, your muscles will get bigger and stronger,” says Chad Kerksick, Ph.D., assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Oklahoma.  Research shows that creatine is most effective in high-intensity training and explosive activities. This includes weight training and sports that require short bursts of effort, such as sprinting, football, and baseball.  Read more…

Why should you consider taking or not taking a creatine powder?

  • If you take creatine, you’ll gain weight at a rapid pace, guaranteed
  • While the initial gain is water (about 2 to 4 pounds in the first week of supplementation), subsequent gains are muscle due to the increase in the workload you can handle
  • Studies in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that muscle fibers grow when a person takes creatine
  • The catch: This only happens if you take advantage of the boost in energy and hit the gym. Otherwise, it is just water weight
  • Creatine doesn’t seem to improve strength or body composition in people over 60
  • In addition to improving athletic performance, creatine is used for congestive heart failure (CHF), depression, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, diseases of the muscles and nerves, an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, and high cholesterol. It is also used to slow the worsening of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease), rheumatoid arthritis, McArdle’s disease, and for various muscular dystrophies.

Who uses creatine?

  • Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports
  • The NCAA no longer allows colleges and universities to supply creatine to their students with school funds; students are permitted to buy creatine on their own and the NCAA has no plans to ban creatine unless medical evidence indicates that it is harmful
  • Creatine use is widespread among professional and amateur athletes and has been acknowledged by well-known athletes such as Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and John Elway
  • Vegetarians and people associated with illnesses previously listed
  • Americans use more than 4 million kilograms of creatine each year

Look and Dress for Success

There’s no better way to show off a hard-earned body than with this season’s latest fashion trends.  Express is kicking the spring line off by mixing tribal details and floral prints.  “Embroidered shorts, beaded sandals and breezy tops transport your state of mind to someplace tropical.”  The way you dress is a reflection of yourself and can say a lot about you to peers and prospective employers.  A great way to make a bold statement that reflects your personal style is to dress in a way that reflects your cultures and different heritages in a modern fashion.  I have Cherokee Indian in my bloodline from both sides of my family so I could easily incorporate feathers, leather and beads into my clothing and jewelry.  

Evidence suggests that society tends to attribute to those who are physically attractive the added qualities of sociability, friendliness, and competence. The appropriate standards for appearance are measured and dictated by societal norms, for which white culture often serves as a reference. Those who don’t measure up to society’s norms of aesthetics, appearance, and grooming are often perceived as ‘lazy, incompetent, and less productive’. Not only do these implicit biases affect social interactions, they also affect one’s ability to obtain employment. Employers often use appearance as a signal of an employee’s qualifications and even after hiring decisions are made, they continue to regulate the appearance of their employees through dressing and grooming policies.

Here’s a few tips for the next time you leave the house ready to take on the world:

  • Keep your hair looking natural.  You aren’t limited to the hair color you were born with but streaky, broken-off, grown out color is distracting and unpleasing to look at when talking to someone.  Keep all exposed areas clean, hydrated and shaved.
  • Always check magazines, social media sites, idea sites like Pinterest for the latest trends and styles.
  • Make sure the makeup on your face matches the current skin color of your neck and hands (or as close of a match as you can) and avoid overuse of tacky colors in eye makeup choices.  Follow makeup artists on YouTube to correctly apply a fresh and vibrant look.

 

Bring Back the Wii!

Remember when the Nintendo Wii first came out and everybody had so much fun playing the virtual games and sports? The Wii popularity seemed to die down with the rise of Play Station 3 and the XBox 360, shifting the role of millenium video games from physical activity immersion to strategy building and problem solving.  I still use my Wii to watch Netflix but hardly play my Wii Sports or Wii Fit games anymore.  My roommates and I decided to play some Wii boxing and bowling against each other before going out this weekend.  I was so absorbed in my first boxing match that one round turned into about 15.  I was uppercutting, jabbing, throwing right hooks and ducking from my opponent with as much force as I  would have exerted in a real fight.

The next morning I woke so sore and weak that I could barely lift my cellphone off my nightstand to silence my alarm clock.  I felt every muscle in my back, neck, shoulders, arms and abs sore and throbbing from my boxing match.  The Wii Fit games are actually targeted to weight loss and physical activity goals; you can choose a personal trainer to instruct you as you perform yoga, balance, running, etc moves on your Wii Fit board.  Wii Fit weighs you at the start of your personalized program and helps you plan your activity and weight loss each week over the course of a month or however long you expect to shed the weight.

The Wii console, unlike the PS3 or XBox games that use headsets to keep the players connected during online play, requires that players be in the same room with each other using their own remotes to compete against each other on the same TV.  Playing together in person creates actual bonding time between players who are usually close friends or acquaintances in real life.  Do you even know who your closest comrade ‘Commander Eagle Eye’ is in actuality when you play Call of Duty with him on PS3 or what he looks like?  I suppose it’s all preference but I think the Wii makes for a more entertaining and personal video game experience.

Prevention During Spring Break

For you few lucky college students who are traveling in a few weeks for spring break, the goal is to have fun and keep your bodies nourished and protected while you do it.  The number one rule of going anywhere warm and sunny is obviously SUNSCREEN.  Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.  In a rigorous study of more than 1,600 adults over the course of a decade, researchers determined that subjects applying sunscreen with an SPF of 16 daily reduced their risk of melanoma by 50 percent (Sunscreen Safety: The Reality).

My second rule to laying out in the sun all day and for that matter, performing any physical activity under the hot sun, requires drinking extra water and eating lush foods like fruits and vegetables that contain high percentages of water.  Dehydration can cause problems like swollen feet, headaches or life-threatening conditions like heat strokes.  I suggest wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect delicate facial skin from sun spots, wrinkles and leathery skin down the road.

Sticking to your workout routine over any kind of vacation can be very challenging once you’re faced with all the sweet cocktails, good food, beach merriment and night clubs on your vacation but it’s possible to avoid any extra weight gain.  Wake up early and eat the good kinds of carbs and protein like eggs, bacon and whole wheat toast before going on an inspirational run on the beach for 30 minutes.  In addition to your cardio run, here’s a powerful 30 minute workout from Health Magazine you can do without gym equipment; a perfect vacation solution to keep the weight off while you party.

  • 2 minutes of jumping jacks
  • Side lunges w/ 5-8 pound dumbbells for 24 reps, each leg
  • Dancing squats w/ 8 pound dumbbell for 24 reps, each leg
  • Line hops or jump rope for 2 minutes
  • ‘Tipsy’ Bridge and Lift for 24 repps, each side
  • Biceps and Arm Circles w/ 5-8 pound dumbbells for 16 reps, each arm
  • Fast Feet for 2 minutes
  • Triceps w/ a Twist using 8-10 pound dumbbells for 24 reps, each side
  • Supermans (aka Roll Over and Sit Ups) for 16 reps back and stomach
  • Cross Crawl for 2 minutes

Stretch it out and you’re done, ready to relax and carry on with your festivities!

The Start of Insanity

I’m not referring to how I’m going to feel in the next two weeks before spring break…I’m talking about the break-through fitness program that I begged my parents to get me for my last birthday that sat in my closet for a year. Well I’ve decided this spring is going to be different. I’ve been casually exercising for three months now in order to build up enough stamina to keep up with the program. Insanity is a 60 day program (yeah, just two months) that is said to be the hardest workout put on DVD.  If someone who weighs 160 plus pounds can push through their exhaustion and mental block for 45 minutes everyday and turn their fat to lean muscle, then I’m ready to hop on that train too. Insanity has you work flat out in three to five minute blocks and take breaks “only long enough to gulp some air and get right back to work”.

MONTH ONE (includes 5 max interval workouts)

  • PLYOMETRICS for insane legs and glutes
  • UPPER BODY RESISTANCE for upper arms, shoulders, chest and back 
  • PURE CARDIO for crazy fat burn
  • CARDIO ABS with intensive core work
  • RECOVERY gives your body a break after an “insane week”

MONTH TWO (includes 4 new workouts)

  • MAX INTERVAL CIRCUIT for toughest interval workout
  • MAX INTERVAL PLYO will have your legs crying for mercy
  • MAX CARDIO CONDITIONING for extreme cardio burn
  • MAX RECOVERY to build strength for a whole new round

After using the rather lengthy formula provided to figure out my necessary caloric intake to maintain weight loss goals, I concluded that I need 1,569 calories each day of this program. Because I paid a lot of money for the program, I won’t disclose the 30 some pages of food recipes provided but I will tell you that Shaun T. recommends eating 5 meals a day: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch time, afternoon snack and dinner. If I send my before and after picture to the BeachBody Production company, I receive the official Insanity t-shirt with the “I earned it” slogan on the back. So keep an eye out for my results in two months!

A Walk in the Park

There is nothing I love more about the first signs of spring than knowing I get to spend my free time at a park, basking in the sunshine.  Spending time outdoors makes me feel so at peace, one with nature, care-free and above all, healthy.  There are so many benefits to spending time outdoors that people aren’t even aware of because of convenient technologies and indoor facilities that soak up free time.  An article from the National Wildlife Federation explains that the average American child spends as little as 30 minutes outside each day.  Child obesity rates have doubled and the U.S. has become the leader in prescribing ADHD and depression medications because they are missing that vital connection to the green world.

I remember when I was a young child, it took all my willpower to listen to my mother to return inside after dark.  I wanted to play outside with my sister and neighbors all day long, never wanting to return to the boring house.  Today, when I start feeling the stress of school or peer relationships, the first thing I do is drive to a park so I can walk around and breathe deep instead of taking my frustration out on other people.

The green outdoors doesn’t just have to be limited to walking around and staring at the trees.  You can meditate, go on a run or a jog, take a friend to a picnic and even bird watch if that’s your thing.  My dog loves when I tell her we’re going on a walk because she knows she can sniff around for a good hour or two and investigate the mysterious smells of other animals while I inhale the fresh air and finally get a break from my computer or television screen.  Go to the beach, go to a zoo, a park, a walk down the street or wherever you prefer that’s outside with someone you love because face-to-face communication is lacking in today’s world and being outside is a great way to reconnect.

Helpful Hints to Track Your Progress

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Making a change in your life can seem like it’s taking forever to notice progress and stick to the ritual.  But if you push through the long hours, annoyances and in some cases, the pain, the changes become routine.  After something becomes routine and habitual in your life, you barely even worry about why you wanted to make those changes in the first place!  As this Huffington Post article explains,  something as simple as making your bed every morning can kick-start positive changes in other aspects of your life: “first the bed, next the world.”  In the case of working out and eating clean (unprocessed foods with no chemical additives), I have found several strategies to be especially helpful.

  • Join My Fitness Pal online and download the app on your smart phone to keep track of what you ate, when you ate it and the nutritional facts as they pertain to your weight loss goals.  The app even has a barcode reader so you can scan items for instantaneous answers.  Medical studies show that maintaining a food diary doubles your weight loss and this online tracker is free and easy to use.
  • Use a separate calendar for tracking and staying on top of your fitness.  It’s nearly impossible to squeeze a description of the day’s workout and meal plans in the same box that you scribbled your [school]work obligations.  Referring to separate calendars for different types of schedules and goals will help ease the stress of balancing the already-busy life you have with your new ‘fit and healthy’ life.
  • If you get discouraged looking in the mirror day after day, tape newspaper over your full-length mirror so you won’t be tempted to obsess after your shower or workout and complain that you can’t see any differences.  Take a ‘before’ picture on the first day of your routine and only take the newspaper off the mirror every 30 days to take monthly progress pictures.  Compare the pictures after three months and I guarantee you will be much happier with what you see.

It takes a lot of time to get that beach body but stick to a plan and repeat to yourself, Just Do It!

Hair’s to Change!

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As the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2014, millions of people lifted their glasses and toasted to a new year with new resolutions to which they swore to follow. “One drink/piece of chocolate/cookie/a million other things won’t hurt me.”  But giving in one time turns into ten times and before you know it, you are no closer to reaching your goals and in fact, you may be further behind than before.  This scenario has already played out for me twice thus far; but for the past week, I have pushed past temptation and ignored ailments and negative thoughts.  The hardest hurdle for me to jump over when working out and eating healthier is reaching four days in a row.  If I can push myself on day five to work out and avoid unhealthy foods, I look forward to extending my willpower to day six.

I ombred my roommate’s hair last night for four long hours, applying dark brown to the crown of her head and bright red from the chin down.  Over these four hours, I felt productive and skillful which inspired me to write about how something as simple as dying your hair a different color or several colors can be exciting and refreshing, helping you accomplish resolutions and goals that the old you couldn’t/wouldn’t.  You can also use this tactic to motivate and reward yourself; once you have worked out for x days/months in a row, treat yourself with something that you have been craving or wanting to do.  Try using these tips to push yourself closer to your resolutions:

  • Reward yourself to frozen yogurt instead of ice cream at the end of every successful workout week.  Frozen yogurt has a load of healthy benefits but use caution with size and toppings! http://bit.ly/1bKZWek
  • Get a manicure or pedicure–What could be better than a stranger massaging your hands, legs and feet making them soft and beautiful?
  • Buy a new form-fitting top to show off your progress at the gym and your newfound abs

Whatever you are working for or toward, just keep your imagined result in mind and repeat to yourself, “I am the only one who can make this vision a reality”.