Category Archives: Tips

Tips to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

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I do believe I had previously posted something on the topic of preventing holiday health havoc and holiday weight gain (weight is irrelevant but it gets people to pay attention unfortunately) or for a client whaaaatever, but here you go again! This was requested by someone new so a new post and new add ons it is. (Sorry for the different text but I copied and pasted part of this from my clients sheet to here and wrote the rest ON here :p)

At the end of the day, it is your overall regime that matters not just a day or two or even maybe a week :p so don’t stress about it and do enjoy because the benefits of laughing, fun and friends/family time, will far outweigh “damage” I promise you 😉 Balance and moderation sure, but if you have a goal, some sacrifices you just choose to make and that’s ok too!

Since the holidays are here again, here are some basic tips and GUIDElines that might help you maintain your goals while still enjoying your holiday festivities:

1. Look for grilled, baked, broiled or steamed avoid creamed, glazed, often sautéed

2. Tell them you are gluten intolerant/have gluten allergies so you would just like salad, various veggies and some unbreaded meat with any sauces just on the side to be safe. Always get sauces on the side so you can control the portion ie. 1-2 tbsp. and ideally avoid creamy sauces. I am not pushing the whole glute-free thing it is just easier to get less overall calories in this way.

3. Avoid the bread basket. Not because bread is “bad” but it is far to easy to overeat it because let’s face it, those bread baskets they bring are delicious! Than you might feel bloated and lethargic which really sucks 😦

4. Soups and salads are great starters as they fill you up so you eat a bit less at dinner. Avoid creamy soups and sauces.

5. If at a “burger joint”, just ask for the burger on a lettuce bun (many places do this) or just ask for it without a bun and with a salad/veggies. 

6. Don’t order caloric drinks. Have spa water or water with lemon or Perrier, teas, coffee but juices and such are just sugar in a glass that you don’t need and other drinks are just empty calories.

7. Ask how the food is prepared and again you can just say it is due to allergies or just a taste aversion/dislike. If it is prepared in heavy oil and salt just ask them for a lighter option by using words like those above.

8. For meats look for salmon, skinless chicken breast, turkey, flank steak or filet mignon.

9. For starchy carbs if you have them, look for baked potato, sweet potato, squash, steamed rice or quinoa, keep portions small ie. just eat half of what they serve and double up on the meat and veggies. A good guide for portions for women is two open hands for veggies, 1 fist size for starchy carbs (potatoe, rice etc), and a palm size for protein (fish, steak, tofu, chicken etc). Ideally when you are eating out it is best to just stick with a protein source and veggies especially if you have already had 2-3 carb servings already during the day. Just GUIDELINES 😉

10. If you are ravenous going in to the place, order an appetizer like a plate of grilled veggies or a chef salad (if you can get a little bit of protein and fat added to it like a hard boiled egg or small piece of chicken with a tsp of vinaigrette awesome!) to help subdue your hunger before you meal comes and your hunger hormones really tell you to devour your meal and than some.

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When alcoholic drinks are in your plans, here are some tips:

1. Avoid fancy drinks and cocktails and go with basics like vodka and water, rum and diet coke, red wine (wine is high in health promoting flavanols and antioxidants which if you drink TOO much will eliminate that benefit but I digress) and don’t go overboard. If you do, just own it and get over it the next day by hitting the gym for some moderate cardio, hydrating yourself, and sticking to healthy nutrient dense eating. Because you are testing the gluten-free thing, avoiding beer and sticking with the basics above will help too 😉

2. Alcohol is basically 7 calories of emptiness and can negatively affect your muscle building, strength, fat loss and performance long term for many reasons. Just know that and also know that moderation in life is key so don’t stress too much about it but keep the above in mind and don’t get discouraged or down on yourself if you feel heavier, slower. Fat loss, muscle building, any of this all, is a life long thing so one weekend or even two out of a month, is not going to permanently destroy your goals. Just keep your eating in check and stay on top of your workouts. It is also a good idea if you know you are going to be drinking, to be more mindful on the surrounding days of keeping your carb intake to maybe 1 fistful of starch/fruit in the am or pre-workout. This may help to minimize your overall caloric intake without having to think about it. Focus on protein, veggies and a bit of healthy fats the rest of the time.

3. Doing a little extra activity when you know you are going to be adding extra empty calories can help to minimize fat loss damage. You may have some extra time right now so take advantage and try some new classes while also maintaining your lifting schedule. A lot of people like to do a pre-drinking-going-out-wanna-look-good workout, and that is an awesome idea. You will feel better and probably want to keep that feeling aka not drink too much because how good you look and feel from your workout, is far better than the feeling of getting sh*t faced 😉 You may just be so confident from your workout too that you pick up and get some action that night too and therefore are, without even thinking about it, doing even MORE extra activity 😉

4. Have only one drink per hour, for every drink you have have some water, and be sure to eat before going out not only to help decrease your chances of drunken stupordom, but also to help you from being ridiculously hungry and doing what just about everyone does after a night of drinking, eat a bunch of high fat, high sugar, high calorie foods. Even better is to stick a snack like a bar in your purse/jacket pocket (or fannypack, hey I don’t judge ;D ) to help manage your hunger for better decision making until you get home and can eat something better suited for your goals.

5. Sleep! The combination of alcohol and no sleep from a late night will whack out your hormones and will make you want to binge or just make poor decisions. Don’t over plan so you can chill out. You are on holidays so take advantage and catch up on sleep.

Again, I want to reiterate that these are just tips and guidelines. Do what is best for you and your goals whatever that means and while you can indulge here and there, your body, your life and your goals are ultimately up to you. Feel free to enjoy and just own it, or use some of these tips to help you on you quest. Regardless of the option, just be happy 🙂

 

Indulging in Treats and Napping Just May be Your Key to a Healthy Holiday Season

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The holiday season is full of celebrations. From office parties to family events, everyone gathers to spread a little extra cheer. While people may be wary of what all of the holiday treats will mean for their health, avoiding all of the revelry could cause more harm than good.  Creating a balance between restraint and indulgence will help sustain physical, mental and emotional well-being. Come out of the holiday season feeling just as good as you did when you went in with these easy tips.

Choose wisely.

During the holidays there are tempting treats everywhere you turn. From cookies at the office to fondue at the holiday party, your favorites can be hard to resist. But if you choose your treats wisely, you can guiltlessly enjoy every bite.

Browse the buffet line for healthy options like veggies or fruit, shrimp cocktails or chicken skewers so you won’t have to skip dessert. You can always share a sweet treat with someone else to keep you accountable. And if you’re worried about not having the will power, it’s a good idea to eat 1.5 ounces of healthy protein before an event to keep you feeling satiated.

Don’t deny yourself.

Food is connected to family, culture, tradition and celebration, and it should be a source of enjoyment. Avoid creating a list of items you cannot have. “When it comes to tempting foods, forbidding them only makes you want them even more,” says Debbie Swanson, registered dietician, and nutrition and healthy-cooking tips instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Colorado. She suggests eating smaller portions of your favorites, such as a bite of pie instead of the whole piece. “My friend makes the best apple pie. I always have two bites,” Swanson says.

Work it off.

The best way to prevent the extra pounds from sneaking up on you is to engage in a regular exercise routine. Doing something as simple as parking farther away from the office or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help increase the number of steps you take each day.

Individuals typically gain around two pounds during the holidays, according to the Mayo Clinic. “The problem is that we don’t lose the weight,” Swanson says. Rather than adding weight that you have to work off later, maintain a workout regimen or find other ways to burn the calories you consume throughout the busy day.

Make “me” time.

Research over the past two decades has begun to demonstrate the strong connection between mental health and the strength of the immune system, which affects overall physical well-being, according to Jim Wasner, dean for the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University | Schaumburg. Wasner says that the strength and resilience of everyone’s overall immune system, feeling depressed or overly anxious, often correlates with poorer physical health and vulnerability to illnesses. “Relax and schedule time for yourself,” he says.” Go easy on the alcohol and sugar. Catch up on your sleep.” Maintaining this overall balance will keep you physically and mentally healthy during the holiday season.

Allow yourself to enjoy the celebrations, just maintain the balance between health-conscious and indulgent decisions so the holidays don’t get the best of you.

Seriously though, be more like this otter images (omg this little guy is so cute and really just wanted a reason to put this somewhere lol) and just chillout a little. The effects of stress and stressing out about a pound or two or and inch or two :p will do you more harm than the laughter and enjoyment you will experience from the little bit of indulgence with good friends and family 😉

Four Flu Fighting Foods

As the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. In terms of your health, this means prevention  prior to treatment. With the cold and flu season upon us, you want to arm yourself with the right arsenal of weapons to ward off the ills and blahs.

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To get your immune system warriors on their guard, incorporating some of the following foods may help to fight off what could mean a week or two of feeling sluggish, stuffed up wheezy:

1. Whey Protein – the benefits of whey go far beyond simply helping you to build and maintain muscle mass (along side training of course!). Quality whey protein may help to reduce inflammation by means of reducing cytokine secretion (1) which is a major factor in health.  Whey is rich in substances called immunoglobins like bifidobacterium and lactoferrin,  and is an excellent source of the amino acid cysteine which is a precursor to the powerful antioxidant glutathione (3).

2. Stank foods aka Garlic and Onions – These two foods (or spices if you may) may act as natural antibiotics due to their compounds called allium cepa L, antioxidant (flavonoid) called quercetin, and allium sativa (4,5). Basically, the horrible stink that these foods give your breath is actually really good for your gut health and immune system. Bite in and ward off vampires AND cold and flu 🙂

3. Hard boiled eggs – I don’t know why foods that stink have to be so good for us but they just are! Whole eggs are rich in fatty acids, choline, B vitamins and sulfur (hydrogen sulfide). Sulfur (which is one of the reasons hard boiled eggs stink) is something often overlooked as being of importance in our diets. This nutrient can actually help to boost our bodies ability to fight off inflammation as well as to help produce the health promoting vitamin/hormone D and the ridiculously powerful immune promoting n-acetyl-cysteine (6,7) .

4. Sprouts – Whether it be alfalfa, clover or soybean, this family of food or herb, is a great addition to soups, salads and sandwiches for their immune promoting, cell protecting polyphenols, antioxidants and flavones. We often get sick in the first place because of too much mental, physical and oxidative stress and this group of foods may help to battle that damage off (8).

Summary

This can be a tough time of the year for many in terms of colds and flu. If you start incorporating these foods into your diet now before getting fully into the sickness season, you just might be able to fully enjoy the holidays this season with your loved ones instead of with a box of tissues and prescriptions. Seriously though, punch sickness in the face!

References:

1. Cross, M. L., & Gill, H. S. (1999). Modulation of immune function by a modified bovine whey protein concentrate. Immunology and cell biology, 77(4), 345-350.

2. Kau, A. L., Ahern, P. P., Griffin, N. W., Goodman, A. L., & Gordon, J. I. (2011). Human nutrition, the gut microbiome and the immune system. Nature,474(7351), 327-336.

3. Keri Marshall, N. D. (2004). Therapeutic applications of whey protein.Alternative Medicine Review, 9(2), 136-156.

4. (ok so we are not chickens but I digress) Goodarzi, M., Landy, N., & Nanekarani, S. (2013). Effect of onion (Allium cepa L.) as an antibiotic growth promoter substitution on performance, immune responses and serum biochemical parameters in broiler chicks. Health, 5, 1210.

5. Dash, P., Yadav, S., & Sahoo, P. K. (2014). Immunoadjuvant effect of garlic (Allium sativum)–mineral oil suspension on immunity and resistance to Aeromonas hydrophila infection in rohu, Labeo rohita. International Aquatic Research, 6(3), 167-173.

6. Santus, P., Corsico, A., Solidoro, P., Braido, F., Marco, F. D., & Scichilone, N. (2014). Oxidative Stress and Respiratory System: Pharmacological and Clinical Reappraisal of N-Acetylcysteine. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

7. http://www.elizabethpavka.com/nutrition-articles/nutrient-articles/NAcetylCysteineforDepression,Fibromyalgie,IBS,Cancer%20Prevention,DetoxificationandMore.pdf

8. Sharma, G., Prakash, D., Gupta, C., Prakash, D., & Sharma, G. (2014). Phytochemicals of nutraceutical importance: do they defend against diseases?. Phytochemicals of Nutraceutical Importance, 1.

Ass to Grass Squats, Hybrid Half Squats and You

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In terms of many things, on a grand scheme level, there are not necessarily any rights or wrongs, just different approaches. This is within reason of course, but for the most part it stands to be pretty legit. I have decided to use the squat as a way to highlight this today. My goal is to help you consider if what’s hot right now is what works for YOU and your goals in the safest, most effective, time-efficient manner.

Many might also tell you that to do any type of squat that doesn’t break parallel is a waste, a joke. No, no that is not true. In fact, these can actually help you progress, depending on what your goals are. The important thing to know though, is that they are not the ONLY way you should be squatting or the only thing you should be doing. On either end of the spectrum of ATG or half squats, vary things over time for ultimate progress.

The trend of ass-to-the-grass squats quickly came and to be honest seems to already be fizzling out, or at least balancing out. The case for this is probably because most people are not equipped for that and have either gotten injured or not made progress as quickly as they would with other methods. That doesn’t mean that type of squat is wrong, it just means that for some it may not be right 😉

Yes, it is cool and impressive to be able to do that under high loads if your greater trochanter is a certain size and sits a certain way in your joint socket, your pelvic tilt is perfectly managed, tendon/ligament strength or recoil ability, Q-angle, ankle and hip mobility, flexibilty yet stability in the right areas, proper reciprocal inhibition, sufficient core strength…are you getting the picture here? It is “cool” but is it the best way to reach your goals in the safest, most efficient manner or are there far too many things that are getting in the way of you just getting a better butt, building metabolism boosting muscle, and pretty much being healthier and adding to your already jacked up levels of awesome?

If you want to have the goal to be able to squat A-T-G, wicked cool! By no means is there anything wrong with that, BUTT (<—- see what I did there lol) if you just want to make progress in terms of disease prevention, health, performance, aesthetics or otherwise, you do not NEED to do these to make great strides and in fact, incorporating some half squats aka hybrid deadlift/squat/goodmornings into your program might just be what you need to literally leap and power forward in your goals.

If you are looking for ways to mix up your training to develop more power and shape and you have beaten the regular squats into the ground but cannot safely go ATG, try the hybrid half squats between reps or your normal squats. For example, if you are doing 5 sets of 6-8 reps try this:

-First 2 reps are regular, slow and controlled, followed by 3 powerfully exerted half squats, followed by the remainder as regular slow and controlled reps.

The moral of the story is, kids don’t do drugs, friends don’t let friends wear puffy paint sweaters, and don’t try to fit square pegs into round holes. Seriously though, What I am trying to say here is that there are many ways to reach your goals. Try not to look at things so black or white and that you must do xyz or you will never get there. We are all different and just because a particular exercise or whatever else is not working for you, it does not mean there is anything wrong with you or that things are hopeless. Just keep plugging away to find your fit.

-To perform this hybrid half squat, if you are performing a high bar squat, lower the bar so it rests across your upper back. Create tension throughout your entire body,especially your butt and upper back and bracing your abs. With a slight bend in your knees, shoot your hips back so you are angled at about 45 degrees. On the way up, power your hips up and forward while being sure to catch a quarter in your butt cheeks at the top but not hyperextending your lower back. Basically, it is somewhat of a deadlift but with the bar on your back.

Also, if you would like to learn more about the benefits of “partial movements” or want to just check on if I am BS’ing you 😉 read more here: http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2014/11000/The_Efficacy_of_Incorporating_Partial_Squats_in.2.aspx

The Future of Health and Fitness

I have such a love-hate relationship with how health and fitness has been going the past few years. I think it is ridiculously awesome that there are so many apps, gadgets and other scientific tools to help track, monitor and improve ourselves. Whether you are simply a busy exec trying to manage your stress levels to prevent a heart attack or aneurism :p, an athlete looking to improve performance, or just someone looking to look and feel optimal, there is officially an app for ALL of that! I think the only reason I hate this at all is simply because they can be darn pricey and can be hard to grasp for those less technically inclined.

Fit Bit– This is one of the currently most popular gadgets. There are different items that you can use to track and monitor your activity, sleep and eating behaviours. The most popular seems to be the wireless band and app download. The average price is $99.95 th

Healbe– This is a new and seemingly cool concept that was tweeted to me. It is still in the process of being fully launched so you can grab it before it really hits the market at $299.99. I am a little skeptical about this one as it’s FLOW technology seems a bit farfetched. You do need to know though that algorithms are not my forte so this just may be fully legit. I am not sure about paying that much without really knowing feedback but the concept is pretty cool. It says it measures calorie intake and output, hydration levels, stress, heart rate and sleep.

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Push – This is a device and app that I was introduced to. I have not yet had the privilege to fully experience it but I did get to mock trial it at their facility. This is a gadget geared towards lifting that measures reps, sets, tempo, power and so on. It seems to be one of the easier and definitely more accurate ways than many straight up apps you can download to your phone. You can currently pre-order it for $149 before it too hits the market.

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Polar– The Polar brand is one that I have used and trusted for a long ass time. I have typically gone for just the cheap-o basic model of HR measure as I did my own calculations. They have come out with some pretty cool features and no doubt to the validity and reliability of the applications and such as they have been doing this stuff for decades. You can now track the various training aspects related to heart rate and training zones, calories, training load and most importantly, recovery status (this is probably utilizing something along the lines of heart rate variability)

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There are hundreds of apps and gizmos out there and it can be so overwhelming. This is yet another reason that I both love-hate this (current) yet futuristic state of the health and fitness industry. I say just do a bit of your own research, ask around and find the best fun tool to help you with your goals. Be sure it has a warranty and technical support. Also be sure that it offers you just what you need and not too much as that can needlessly raise the price as well as your confusion.

Happy training ya’all and a woooooh 2 YOU!

PS If you want some help figuring out what is best for you hit me up below in the comments box 🙂

When Your Belly Fat Grows and Your Mind Blows, Who You Gonna Call? Stress Busters!

I don’t know about you but stress sucks. Wait, too much stress sucks. From creating sleep disturbances to overeating or just not utilizing food properly, poor workouts and recovery, depression, memory loss and fatigue, chronic stress is a killer.

Even if you are following a healthy eating plan and regularly exercising, too much stress can still damage your mind and body. There are many lifestyle factors (saying no, mindfulness or movement meditation, laughter, sex, lighter workouts, nutritious foods etc.) to reduce this killer in your life and those should be addressed first, but what if there were some other things to help you along?

Everything starts and ends with your brain and your nervous system. Physical stress or breakdown is nothing in comparison to mental burnout. Couple these two and you are in serious trouble. The thing is, if you prioritize the mind, the physical will follow. It may take years if you let it get too far so let’s nip things in the bud and call upon these additional stress busters.

Citicoline. This seems to be a promising supplement that may offer cognitive enhancing effects like memory retention, reduction of depressive symptoms and oxidative damage to the brain (1,2). Adding this to your lifestyle overhaul just might be worth trying.

L-Theanine. This is a no-brainer (lol pun intended) as this is not really a new discovery. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and has both calming effects on your body as well as protective effects on the brain (3,4).

Fruit and Veggie Supplements. There are many “greens” products out there and some really can make a difference. Yes, absolutely you want to eat a ton of produce but supplemental extracts just may be of benefit after all (5).

PUFA’S. This will be of no shock to you maybe but PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids) like those found in fish oil, have great benefits to your brain and body’s responses to stress (6,7).

Summary

Every body is different and will respond differently to the above but if you are under chronic stress and want to try something additional to lifestyle modifications, you just might want to call on these stress busters.

PLEASE watch this:

 

References:

  1. Xiaonan, Y., Qiyi, M., & Nengrong, P. (2007). A control study of citicoline in the treatemnt of dysmnesia due to MECT [J]. Journal of Clinical Psychosomatic Diseases, 4, 009.
  2. Hatcher, J. F., & Dempsey, R. J. (2002). Citicoline: neuroprotective mechanisms in cerebral ischemia. Journal of neurochemistry, 80(1), 12-23.
  3. Juneja, L. R., Chu, D. C., Okubo, T., Nagato, Y., & Yokogoshi, H. (1999). L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 10(6), 199-204.
  4. Kimura, K., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L. R., & Ohira, H. (2007). L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological psychology, 74(1), 39-45.
  5. Joseph, J. A., Shukitt-Hale, B., Denisova, N. A., Bielinski, D., Martin, A., McEwen, J. J., & Bickford, P. C. (1999). Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 19(18), 8114-8121.
  6. Ferraz, A. C., Delattre, A. M., Almendra, R. G., Sonagli, M., Borges, C., Araujo, P., … & Lima, M. (2011). Chronic ω-3 fatty acids supplementation promotes beneficial effects on anxiety, cognitive and depressive-like behaviors in rats subjected to a restraint stress protocol. Behavioural brain research, 219(1), 116-122.
  7. Ochoa, J. J., Quiles, J. L., Huertas, J. R., & Mataix, J. (2005). Coenzyme Q10 protects from aging-related oxidative stress and improves mitochondrial function in heart of rats fed a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)-rich diet. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 60(8), 970-975

Free Music and MOVEment

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I am spending most of my day today working from home and am currently updating my playlist. Home work is great because my breaks can consist of whatever the eff I want such as random outbursts of loud music and flailing myself around the room. Yeah I know right, good times 😉 I just got back in after doing some running around and was chatting it up with this super cool guy.

Why am I telling you this? I tell you this because our conversation consisted of discussing music and movement of all kinds. Ok the majority of the movement we pigeonholed on was in regards to lifting but REAL movement like martial arts/combat sports and dancing came up too. FYI those are four of my favorite things with the 5th being something I plead the 5th on (yup it is totally what you are thinking of womp wommmmp).

Oh geez sorry I still have yet to get to the point of this random post and the title’s correlation to the randomness ramblings at hand. I just wasted your time to lead up to this little gifty-gift for you…this dude hooked me up with a free way to get tunes for when you are doing MOVEment (bowel or orchestral not presumptively included lol). I apologize to the artists out there, I really do and this is not meant to be a form of disrespect for your craft but I like to share things that make me happy to help others be happy too. I have also learned from one Will-I-am that that is not how you make your moolah anyhoo 😉

To get some tunes use this site http://www.youtube-mp3.org/ . You find the jam on youtube, copy the link and paste it in the box. You than convert it, download the mp3 and copy it to your Ipod, android or other device. Magical ain’t it 😉

I can survive without music sure, but I cannot thrive nor truly LIVE without it. Still just doing what I can in terms of my loves (MRI comes soon and will give me some answers. This damn ankle and foot thing is yet to be determined than watch out lol) If you are like me and feel the same way, try this out and get your swerve on my beautiful freaks geeks and weirdos ;D Woooooh to you!