Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fun Stuff Coming Soon...

It's almost 7pm on a Saturday night and I've been working at a fever pitch all day! I'll be blogging all the details of my cooking marathon tomorrow. A sneak peak of what's to come:

  • Carrot Zucchini Bundt Cake and Muffins ad infinum
  • Refried Black Beans Part Deux for the Freezer
  • Sauteed Mexi-Veggies for Clean Tex-Mex Meals
  • Chicken 3 Ways
There is a glass of wine beckoning me from the kitchen and alas more work to do before snuggle time with my crew. I hope you have had a productive and joyful day.  Be sure to check back soon for details on all of the above.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Healthy Mom Musing #1: Black Bean & Spinach Burritos

I had a high-five, healthy mommy moment this week when I unscrupulously disguised a heaping dose of fresh spinach leaves in my family's after-school snack. Try this tricky recipe with any of the picky eaters in your home no matter their age.

Black Bean & Spinach Burritos

2 cups black beans
1 can mild diced tomatoes with green peppers
3 cups baby spinach leaves
4 Tbs no-fat PLAIN greek yogurt
6 whole wheat small tortillas
Salsa (optional) on the side

Place first four ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Heat tortillas in microwave for 30-45 seconds wrapped in damp paper towel. Spoon equal amounts of bean mixture onto each of the tortillas. Fold on three sides and enjoy! You can make a large batch and freeze the reserve for quick snacks or meals without the extra effort or mess.

I'll be posting more of my kitchen success stories over the weekend. So, stay tuned!

Do you have any healthy tips or tricks to add more vegetables to your meals? I'd love to hear them... Please tell us about them in the comment section below!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Injury Prevention Q&A

Injuries are something that will happen in your fitness journey. Knowing how to prevent them will minimize the frequency and the severity. Enjoy!

How do you prevent injury during exercise?

First and foremost you need to evaluate the activity you are about to engage in. For those of us that do not list "Professional Athlete" on our resumes, ask yourself the following questions:

  • "Have I ever done this type of activity before?"
  • "Does this type of exercise look potentially dangerous? i.e. risk of falling, fainting, etc."
  • "Do I have any previous injuries that I might need to be aware of throughout this upcoming workout?"

These are common sense questions we should ask ourselves before engaging in new physical activities. However, I find that most people fail to ask themselves these seemingly idiotic yet poignant questions. These same people can usually be grouped into one of 2 camps.

  • Chickens: The people in this tribe are afraid to do anything outside of the activities of normal daily living for fear that most exercise might be too strenuous and injury is certain the second they make a minuscule move in a physically active direction. The only injuries these people sustain are those from inhabiting a deconditioned body. You know the type: Aunt Jane who pulled her lower back putting on a pair of pantyhose 15 years ago and hasn't been able to lift a finger since? Ruling out pathological musculoskeletal disorders, Aunt Jane would probably be just fine with a regular cardiovascular exercise program coupled with conservative yet progressive strength training.

  • Rhinos: This group is full of those individuals who seem to have a death wish when it comes to exercise. There is no critical thinking prior to action. A conversation like this might be heard inside the subconscious mind of one of these individuals: "So what if I haven't done anything except sit behind my desk or steering wheel since I played football 30 years ago. I'm going to jump right into a high intensity program like Crazy Fad Workout of the Year and do 500 repetitions of random exercises because I will experience immediate gratification under the delusion that I can reverse 30 years of muscle atrophy in one week!"

I have seen a multitude of injuries over the years associated with many different types of group workout programs. At 360 Fitness, we stress the importance of personalized exercise regimens. Some of our clients may workout together in groups but, modifications are given for the individual to tailor the workout to his/her specific needs. Below are a few more tips for preventing injury during exercise.

  1. Start with baby steps. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a fit, well-maintained body! If you are starting a new activity, be conservative in your approach.
  2. Spend at least 8-10 minutes performing light aerobic exercises to prime your body for action and prevent injury. The warm-up is a vital step in the workout continuum.
  3. Listen to your body. If something hurts, back off or stop.
  4. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. All shoes are not created equal. Doing a Zumba class in running shoes can set you up for knee injuries in the not- so- distant future.
  5. Ask for help! If you are exercising at a club or studio, ask a professional for help. He/She should be able to help you modify your activity.

Do you need to stretch before, afterwards or both?

There has been quite a bit of confusion for several years concerning stretching versus the warm-up for injury prevention. Much of this confusion comes from a misinterpretation of research on warming-up. Several studies found that warming-up by itself has no effect on range of motion, but that when the warm-up is followed by stretching there is an increase in range of motion. Many people misinterpreted this finding to mean that stretching before exercise prevents injuries, even though the clinical research suggests otherwise. A better interpretation is that warm-up prevents injury, whereas stretching has no effect on injury.

If injury prevention is the primary objective the evidence suggests that one should limit the stretching before exercise and increase the warm-up time.

How do you distinguish between just soreness and a real injury?

Moderate or dull aching felt bi-laterally in the muscle tissues following a work-out is typically synonymous with "normal" soreness. Whereas, pain limited to one side or located in or around a joint could indicate injury. After a particularly challenging session involving resistance training, it is not uncommon to experience soreness approximately 48 hours after the workout. This is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Conversely, an injury will frequently cause pain immediately. Thus the injured person feels compelled to swiftly stop his/her activity. Again, that is not the case with all injuries, but is true for a large majority.

If one has been conservative in their approach and performed the PRICE protocol (detailed below) yet is still feeling pain or discomfort after several days, the services of a physician should be retained to investigate the origin of the pain.

What is the best treatment for a strained muscle?

Damage from a muscle strain can range from mild to severe as in the case of a tear. The treatment protocol is much the same for the most cases of muscle strain. Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the PRICE formula) can help the injured tissues heal more quickly.

  • Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
  • Rest the strained muscle. Avoid the activities that caused the strain and other activities that are painful.
  • Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake). Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving agent. Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to the area can help decrease inflammation.
  • Compression can be a gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can provide both support and decrease swelling. Do not wrap tightly.
  • Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling. Prop up a strained leg muscle while sitting, for example.

In addition, consuming a healthy diet chock full of lean protein can help speed recovery. Protein is the foundation for muscle growth and development. So, it stands to reason that it plays an integral role in tissue repair. Grab a high-quality, low-sugar whey protein shake one to two times per day to spur yourself quickly back into action.

If you have a strained muscle, how much time do you need to heal it? Can you continue to do some form of exercise?

Once diagnosed, rest for the affected body part until the pain is gone is the treatment of choice. An ambitious patient who takes on too much activity too soon will pay sorely for it (pardon the pun) by re-injuring the muscle and lengthening the recovery time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions, Make LIFESTYLE CHANGES!

The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are informal plans and changes that occur to us during the few days leading up to January 1st. They are hastily-fashioned good intentions with little or no planning, forethought, or ambition behind them.

There is nothing wrong with a heartfelt notion to make a change in your life and professing it to those within earshot, but what happens when you realize that your resolution is not something feasible in which you could keep steadfast? Is there a back-up plan? How do we figure that out? We find the solution by removing the problem!

Don’t worry. We are not recommending “giving up” or abandoning your quest for self-improvement and personal growth; we are recommending throwing New Year’s Resolutions out the window!

We have compiled some of the simplest tips to start changing your life around. Simplicity aside, these small changes to your daily regimen can have a lasting domino effect on your life, in general. Adding a little bit of movement here and cutting back a little there can have tremendous effects on your physique, mindset, and way of life.

Being fit and healthy, like all things in life, takes time. It’s not one giant leap from inactive and out-of-shape to fit, trim, and sinewy, it’s a hundred tiny steps. 360 Fitness would like to offer ideas for the initial steps to begin your journey to take your life back!:

Add some movement to your life!: If you have an active job and get your fair share of walking, great, but it’s time to ADD some movement to your life. Whether it be taking a moderately paced walked before you get your day started or taking an invigorating cardio class at 360 Fitness, get your butt moving! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. We know you can find 30 minutes a day (in between watching television and other distractions) to walk the dog or take a trip to the gym to lift some weights and perform some cardio.

More protein, more fiber, less carbs: On average, the typical “diet” plan includes eating a ton of salad, fruit, granola, and other dieting staples. While these are all healthy choices, they are not the best choices to revolve a typical diet plan around. A great way to feel satiated while on a lower calorie diet, would be to place the emphasis on lean proteins (ex. tuna, fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef), high quality carbohydrates (brown rice, oats, potatoes, green veggies), and some healthy fats to round it out (ex. a handful of almonds, cashews, or a tablespoon of natural peanut butter or extra virgin olive oil). Having a more protein based diet will help ensure that you do not lose a fair amount of muscle when you are dieting (as is often the case with low calorie diets). The fiber from the veggies and the healthy fats will keep you satiated and help ensure your digestive system is running smoothly.

Cut the junk: Take the time to cook and package your meals AT HOME! When you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Don’t expect the “healthy” menu from Taco Bell or McDonald’s to help you with your dietary needs. The terms “lower calorie” and “low-fat” are often misleading. The menu items may be lower in calories than OTHER items on the same restaurant’s menu, and the term “low-fat” may signify that they added plenty of sugar to make up for the lack of flavor from the fattening agents. So, skip the drive-through on your lunch break, and take out the Tupperware of 4oz. of grilled chicken, ½ cup of brown rice, and ½ cup of squash that you packed last night.

Lift weights (Yes, women, too!): You will not “bulk up” or become overtly muscular unless you eat for that purpose. While on a caloric deficit, you will not “bulk up” or put on any unwanted muscle past the point your caloric level allows. While you will appear more muscular if you lift weights 2-3 times a weight with moderate to heavy weight, it will be more along the lines of the “toned” look. If you diet and perform cardio, you will shrink. You will have that squishy, skinny/fat look. Lifting weights will not only rev up your metabolism but also give you that sleek, athletic look that we all desire!

Relax!: Nothing can put a kink in your diet and workout regimen like stress! We all need to find some stress-relieving activities to keep us grounded and away from the doctor. Stress can have profound effects on health (both mental and physical, all negative). Try to find ways to relieve stress and relax! Stress-relief can come in the form of going for a walk around at the end of the day or waking up 10-15 minutes early so that you may snuggle with your spouse in bed before the day begins. Little stresses can compound and have a huge effect on your health and mental state. Try to find 10-15 minutes a day to just.... let it all go!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Avoid the sugar crash of Halloween candy and STILL have a spooky, fun-filled holiday!

Halloween weekend can wreak havoc on a healthy lifestyle...if you let it. Mounds of chocolate, candied apples, and candy corn paired with very little activity can lead to a disastrous weekend for the health conscious parent.

Follow these Halloween Tricks and Treats to make this weekend a healthy, spooky affair:

- Use sugar-free or low calorie hard candy in your candy bowl.
- Opt for chocolate with 80% or more dark cocoa (studies have shown in aids in lowering blood pressure and raising good cholesterol)
- Make it an active weekend for your kids and their friends. Plan a Halloween dance party for the neighborhood children, a biking adventure, or even a walk around the neighborhood.
- Offer healthy snack alternatives such as trail mix bags, almonds, cereal bars, or protein bars during.
- Limit the amount of candy your kids can eat throughout the day. Make 4-5 pre-packaged bags of 2-3 small pieces of candy. Give them one bag a day to be eaten around lunch time after their whole food meal (so as to avoid binging on candy right before going to sleep).
- After you ration the Halloween candy for 7-10 days, throw away the rest! Having extra candy in the house is an invitation to you and your kids to binge on chocolate. Out of sight, out of mind.

Make this Halloween weekend a healthy, safe, and fun occasion. You may be labeled the “health nut mom” of the neighborhood, but your kids, their neighbors, and their parents will thank you in the long run! It’s not about a weekend of binging on candy; it’s about having a healthy, happy family.

Friday, October 1, 2010

News from my favorite fitness place - 360 Fitness!

Check out the October E-Newsletter from 360 Fitness! Better yet, join the mailing list and have the latest news delivered right to your inbox!