Archive for May 2014

Friday Fitness: Office Fit – 7 Exercises to Do at Your Desk

During the week, how much of your time  is spent sitting?

The answer is probably too much.

For some, getting up early to work out or trying to find the time after work, with family or household commitments, is challenging. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually get some of your workout in during the day at your desk and leave more time after work for family or other activities? These exercises won’t take the place of a regular cardio or strength training program but they will help to keep muscles toned and relaxed. Here are 7 exercises that can be done right at your desk with no equipment needed.

1. Shoulder circles – to relieve stress that can result from hunching over your keyboard:

Sitting tall, roll shoulders up by the ears and slide the shoulder blades down your back 10-12 times.  Then do the same with a forward motion, trying to open the space between your shoulder blades.

Shoulder

 

2. Knee raises – to tone your thighs and stabilize your core:

Pull knees up to your chest, alternating legs.  Try to pull up with the quadriceps and stay sitting tall to keep the core muscles activated.

KneeRaises

 

3. Leg extensions – to strengthen thighs and stretch hip flexors:

Sitting in your chair, keep knee bent and raise your right foot up a few inches from the floor. Extend the leg straight out in front of you, thigh in line with your hip. Return to start for one repetition.  Aim for 10-12 on your right leg and repeat with your left leg for one set.

LegExt1

 

4. Tricep dips – (in your chair) to strengthen the back of the arms:

Put your hands on the arm rests of your chair and raise your body up and off the seat, pushing through the backs of your arms. Raise and lower without coming all the way down to a seated position for one repetition. Repeat 10-12 times for one set.

Tricep

 

5. Knee to elbows – alternating side to side to work the obliques:

Sitting tall, rotate to the right side and bring your left elbow toward your right knee. Rotate to the other side bringing your right elbow towards your left knee for one repetition.   Aim for 10-12 repetitions on each side for one set.

Knee2Elbows

 

6. Spinal stretch:  to alleviate back tightness and enhance spinal flexibility.

Sitting tall in your chair, rotate to the right by lightly placing your hands on the right arm or the back of your chair. Then turn to look over your right shoulder, keeping shoulders down and relaxed while rotating through the waist.

Spinal

 

7. Neck and ankle circles:  to enhance ankle and neck mobility and alleviate tightness.

Sitting tall with your shoulders relaxed, slowly rotate the head all the way around 10 times and repeat in the other direction. The same can be done with the ankles, keeping the foot and ankle relaxed.

Neck-Ankle

 

Extra Office Fit Tip: Try to walk around every two hours or so to not only get more steps in but prevent blood pooling in the lower extremities and be sure to keep hydrated during the day. Just these few changes and exercises can keep you happier and healthier at work.

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Coaching Corner: 10 “OLD-FASHIONED” Eating Habits to Bring Back

OldFashioned5-29

If you haven’t heard of Michael Pollan, I would highly recommend purchasing one of his books or watching his videos on Youtube.  He has a passion for food and comes up with helpful rules or suggestions when it comes to a healthy eating lifestyle.  One in particular, “don’t eat what your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”, makes a lot of sense—the following habits elaborate on this Pollan suggestion:

  1. Eat your meals at a table.  We are more mindful with our eating if we have the table set, napkins on our lap and are engaged in what we are putting in our mouth.
  2. Eat as a family.  I know it is 2014 and everyone has a busy life, however, communicate with your loved ones about the importance of having a set time for dinner.  Studies show families that dine together consume more vegetables and have a healthier diet.
  3. Cook the majority of your meals.  The more control you have in your kitchen, the more confident you feel about what you are putting in your body.  I’m pretty sure my great-great grandmother never knew about free refills, happy hour and buying 3 courses for $20.00.
  4. Calorie counting?  What’s that?  Not until recently did we know what calories meant in regards to being the energy in our food.  At H3, we stick to a very structured caloric plan yet I still find it very helpful for certain individuals to avoid diligent calorie counting and just focus on portions, whole foods, dive into the H3 recipes and trust it’s keeping them on track.
  5. Farm to table.   Eating from your garden, purchasing foods from a local farmer’s market, connecting with the community and eating as seasonable as possible can keep your meal plan interesting while adding a huge flavor boost to every fruit and vegetable you buy.
  6. Smaller plates.  The average plate is anywhere from 12-14 inches in diameter.  We recommend using a 10-inch plate at home.  Those that use smaller plates typically serve themselves 22% less food on a smaller plate.  Portion control at its finest.
  7. Taking lunch breaks.  I remember having conversations with my grandpa about his life working at the family farm.  They would take two 15-minute drink breaks as well as a full hour for lunch.  I guarantee those that take a lunch break, instead of skipping, are much more efficient compared to those that work through their lunch.
  8. Slow food.  What do I mean by this?  Check out this awesome organization:  SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT
  9. Eating with the seasons.  It is easy to buy strawberries in the middle of winter and spinach whenever we want.  It’s great we can rely on these being in our stores; but the more seasonal approach we take with our meals the better for our bodies, the more variety we consume and we tend to make more local purchases.
  10. Real food.  This is probably one of the most important things to bring back. I get overwhelmed walking down the cereal and dairy aisle, I know you must too.

Stick to the real deal, avoid the processed and always ask yourself if your great-great grandmother would have recognized it as real food.  

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Wellness Wednesday: Can Your Marriage Survive Dieting?

I know there is no research to support this statement, but I am fairly certain that diets must be one of the leading causes of divorce in this country. Okay, that’s clearly an overstatement, but I can tell you from both personal and professional experience that diets often create conflict between couples.

It starts out innocently enough. With a wellspring of enthusiastic motivation, you stock the fridge with fresh produce, clear the pantry of trans-fatty/ highly-processed/food-like substances and you rejoin the gym. You enlist your spouse’s help by giving them permission to remind you of your commitment as they notice you slowly going off the rails. It’s a much accepted recipe for success. That is until your newly empowered spouse cautiously utters the words,

“Are you sure you want to eat that?”

just as you pull Ben & Jerry’s from the freezer.

Ben&Jerry

Emerson’s famous phrase, “The shot heard round the world” refers to the first shot of the American Revolution. Questioning someone about their food intake, however, can be met with the same call for battle and resonate just as loudly. It really doesn’t matter how it’s said; it’s almost never welcome and usually produces whopping resentments. The room becomes thick with bitterness the second those words escape the poor, unsuspecting, well-meaning partner’s mouth.

I could write an entire blog on why you should never diet with a spouse, or enlist your spouse’s help with your weight-loss plans, but it will most likely fall on deaf ears. This is a marital mistake destined to go on for eternity despite all my good efforts to obliterate it. So, I’m going to keep it brief for now and just offer one brilliant tip that Sherri Schmick, an H3 guest, had suggested to another guest.

Instead of giving your spouse permission to call you out when you’re straying from your food plan, call yourself out. Sherri suggested:

  • Take a piece of paper and use your own hand-writing to write something like, “Remember Your Goal!” or “Will you regret this?” Laminate the sign and give it to your spouse.
  • If he or she needs to give you a gentle nudge they can do so using your words in your hand-writing.
  •  Just for safe measure, you might also put something on the back of the sign like, “Don’t be mad at the holder of this sign. You gave them permission to do this.”
  • You might also implement a rule or two for how often the sign can be flashed. If your spouse is flashing it five times a day then chances are, you aren’t committed to the weight-loss journey or they are just trying to annoy you. Either way, the sign becomes ineffective.

DietSigns

In the interim, ask yourself if enlisting your spouse’s help in your weight-loss journey is really a healthy decision for your relationship. If you are not committed to the effort then nothing anyone else says or does can fix that problem. Whether you realize it or not, weight-loss is an inside job.

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Nutrition: How Much Is Too Much?

HersheysDrops

We are eating more than ever, studies suggest that we are consuming 200 to 400 calories more than 20 years ago.

The result: we have reached the highest rates of obesity in history.

Managing portions might be the most important thing you can do to more effectively manage your weight. But it’s not quite as simple as saying to yourself, you’re are going to eat less. Motivation and discipline are not enough. We have to understand why we are eating more before we can develop effective strategies to manage our caloric intake. There are many factors but according to Brian Wansink, Ph.D., professor of Psychology at Cornell University and author of the book, Mindless Eating, changes in our “food environment” such as: large portions in restaurants, easy and constant access to food, the increased size of plates/glasses/bowls that we put food on, as well as, bigger bags and boxes we buy food in all have contributed to us losing control over what reasonable portions should look like.

Here are a few strategies that can help you take back control of your food environment resulting in effective portion management.

Orson Wells once said, “My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for 4, … unless there were 3 other people.” Little did he know how relevant his quote would become.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate the average restaurant meal is more than 4 times larger than in the 1950’s.

Not only are they serving us far more food, we are eating far more often than in the past. For some, cutting back on the frequency of eating out might be a good place to start. Restaurant meals tend to have 2 – 3 times the calories of home cooked meals; home cooked meals tend to be more nutritious, as well. For those who must eat out often or choose to,  here are a few tips that might help:

  •      Split entrees and desserts with your partner or friend.
  •      Ask that all sauces and dressing be brought on the side. That puts you in control of the quantity.
  •      Look on the menu for “small” or petite” portions.
  •      Ask for “half to go”. The server brings half of the meal to the table and boxes the other half for you to take home.
  •      Pay attention while eating. Focus on eating slowly and mindfully. Mindful eaters enjoy their food more and are satisfied on smaller portions.
  •      Eat your calories, don’t drink them. Caloric soft drinks and sweet tea add up, especially with “free” refills.
  •      Have a healthy snack – a piece of fruit, small salad, etc. – an hour or so before you go out. It will take the edge off your hunger and make it easier to manage portions.

1. Invest in a new set of dishes. Plate size has increased significantly over the years. Dr Wansink’s research shows that people serve themselves 20 – 30% more food on larger plates than smaller. By having smaller plates (Wansink recommends 10 inch diameter plates,) you will  serve yourself less and not even know it. Bring out the fashionable larger plates if you want to when have guest over but for use your smaller plates for day to day use.

2. If plate size is important, not surprisingly, glass size is as well. We tend to pour more beverages into larger glasses than smaller ones. Use smaller glasses for juice and other caloric drinks. You can always pour a second glass if you really want one.

3. Buy snacks and treats in smaller containers. We tend to eat until the box or bag is empty, regardless of the size of the container. If you are snacking on one of your favorite treats, it’s easier to stop when a 1 ounce bag is empty, than to eat only 1 ounce out of a 6 ounce bag. While it might be a bit more expensive to purchase in smaller quantities, it will be worthwhile if it helps manage your portions more effectively.

3. Remember the phrase “out of sight out of mind”. How many times have you opened the pantry, refrigerator or freezer not thinking about a treat until you see it, then you can’t get off your mind? Keep those treats hidden away until you really want them.

4. When reading labels, pay particular attention to the serving size. If you just look at calories, fat, sugar, sodium and etc., without looking at serving size you can get far more than you bargained for. For example a typical convenience store may have 200 calories per serving but you may not realize that there are 3 servings in the muffin. It ends up being 600 calories not the 200 you assumed it was.

A box of candy at the movies might seem a good choice with only 150 calories per serving but unless you look, you might not notice that that are 6 serving in the box – a total of 900 calories.

5. When considering a treat,  ask yourself the question “Do I really want this?” or “Is it worth it?”.  To help you make an informed choice, keep in mind that we burn about 100 calories for every mile we walk .

That muffin referred to earlier would be the equivalent to 6 miles, the box of candy would be 9.

Recognizing how much effort is involved in expending calories might give you a little added incentive to limit those treats to a minimum.

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Healthy Recipes: Chateaubriand

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day! Savor your memories and this special recipe.

photo

INGREDIENTS

10 oz. Beef tenderloin, center cut

1 tsp Rosemary, freshly chopped

1 tsp Thyme, freshly chopped

¼ tsp Salt

¼ tsp Crushed black pepper

¼ tsp Olive oil

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Preheat grill, cast iron skillet, or sauté pan. (If searing the tenderloin in a sauté pan then place heat on medium high, spread ¼ olive oil when hot.)
  • Season tenderloin on both sides
  • Once heat source is hot, place tenderloin on cooking surface.
  • If grilling or using a cast iron skillet with ridges, make cross hatches by placing filet on surface for about 4 minutes, then turning the filet 45 degrees on the same side.
  • Flip over and repeat.
  • Next place on baking sheet or pan and cook until desired internal temperature… 135 for medium rare and 145 for medium to medium well.
  • Cut into thin slices, about 3 ounces per serving.

NUTRITION

SERVINGS: 3

SERVING SIZE: 3 ounces

CALORIES: 145

FAT: 5 grams

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Fitness Friday: Fun & Fit – The Beach Body Guide

When the sun’s shining and you want to be nowhere else but the beach, try this workout to get some Vitamin D and a banging beach body. Who says you can’t enjoy some sand and sun and get a great workout, too! Check out these lower body, upper body, and core exercises to do while at the beach!

  • Legs:

1. Side Leg lifts (Outer Thigh):

Holding on to a beach chair, lift and lower your leg, keeping your toes pointing in the same direction you are facing.

(Do 3 sets of 20 on each leg)

 

SideLeg

2. Squat (Quad/Glutes):

Sit your butt back to your beach chair and stand right back up. Keeping your knees behind your toes, lower your butt back first and then down to the chair, either sitting all the way down or just tapping the seat and standing back up. Keep your weight on your heels and your chest up as you lower yourself to the chair.

(Do 3 sets of 10)

SquatGood

 

3. Rear Leg Lift (Hamstrings/Glutes):

On hands and knees, extend one leg and extend it straight behind you until it hits the sand. Then lift your leg straight to the sky with your heel pointed up and lower down to the sand.

(Do 3 sets of 20 on each leg)

RearLift

 

4. Lunge & Knee Balance (Hamstring/Glutes):

Holding a towel overhead, split your stance, keeping both knees at 90 degrees, lower your back knee toward the sand. Push off your front heel to stand up on one leg with a knee lift. Then lower your knee back to lunge position.

(Do 3 sets of 10 on each leg)

Lunge

 

  • Upper Body:

1. Chair dips (Triceps): With finger tips facing you, bend your elbows and lower your bottom close to the chair then extend and push through the palms of your hands. Keep hips close to your hands. To make it more challenging: extend your legs straight and do the same movement.

(Do 3 sets of 10)

Chair

 

2. Push-up (Chest): On your mat, place your hands just outside your shoulders and in a plank position – lower yourself toward the towel (an inch above the towel) and push back up to the starting plank position. Modification:  Lower knees to the towel.

(Do 3 sets of 10)

ActualPushUp

 

  • Core:

1. Plank (Abdominals): Holding in the top of a push-up position, create one straight line from your tailbone to your head. Pull your belly button to your spine and keep your hips in line with your spine.

(Do 3-30 to 60 second planks)

PushUpGood

 

2. In and outs (Abdominals): Pull both knees together and using a towel for additional support, put the towel behind your hamstrings. Then extend your legs away from you, holding for 2 seconds and then bring your knees back to the chest.

(Do 3 sets of 10)

To make it more challenging: place the towel on top of your legs and then reach overhead as you extend your legs, then return back to starting position.

(Do 3 sets of 10)

InandOut

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Coaching Corner: Plateau Pitfalls – The Scale

 

WhnUDontQuit5-22

You’ve been eating good, clean food for weeks and meticulously recording every bite. Evidence of your commitment to daily exercise is a hamper full of sweaty, workout clothing. Despite your commendable efforts, the scale (otherwise known as the tyrant overseeing your success), refuses to budge. It’s infuriating and disheartening all at once.

The word used to explain the unfortunate scenario above is one dreaded by all dieters – plateau. You have reached a plateau. The problem with that word is that it only applies to one measurement of success. It only applies to the number on the scale. When the scale gets stubborn, crossing its arms in defiance, we explain the mechanical temper-tantrum by admitting we have reached a weight-loss plateau.

A plateau is dangerous territory for people trying to lose weight. The frustration and discouragement inherent in reaching a plateau, despite all your best efforts, results in many people saying, “Screw this!” I apologize for the indelicacy, but honestly that’s the PG-13 version of what’s more likely to be said. A plateau is a trigger that at a minimum causes us to get sloppy with our food, but more frequently leads to giving up on our weight-loss efforts altogether.

Because of plateau pitfalls, it is essential that you find other measures of success in your weight-loss journey. The number on the scale really doesn’t say all that much. The photo below is evidence of that. Each of the women below weighs the same amount, 154 pounds. Clearly that number doesn’t say anything about how healthy or thin they are, or even how they are shaped.

154lbs

When the scale goes on strike, turn your attention to the following alternative measures of success:

  1. Notice how your clothes fit, and purposely try on a piece of clothing that you know has become too large.
  2. Notice how strong you feel or begin to increase your strength training so that you can measure your success by how much weight you are able to lift.
  3. Notice how much more productive or energized you have become.
  4. Set other weekly goals that have nothing to do with weight-loss, like increasing your water consumption, or walking 5000 more steps a day. Each new victory secures your motivation.
  5. Take out unflattering, old pictures to remind yourself of how far you’ve come and where you refuse to return. In other words, when you feel like quitting think about why you started.
  6. Remember that the longer you engage in healthy behaviors the more likely you are to sustain them for a lifetime. The plateau is a test of your long-term commitment.
  7. Look in the mirror and admire the progress. Remind yourself of how much better your body looks and feels than it did at the start of your journey.
  8. Find inspirational quotes and mantras and paste them everywhere!

When the dreaded plateau descends, remember — it’s the journey that counts, not the destination.

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Warm Up then Work Out: The Best Moves

It is not uncommon for a person to skip a warm-up and jump right into a workout. That may not be the best way to go. Warming up is essential to having a quality workout. The purpose of a warm-up is exactly what it sounds like, to warm up your body.

Warm muscles are less likely to get injured than cold muscles. This concept doesn’t just apply to your muscles. If you were to freeze a rubber band, it would lose some of its flexibility; it would take much less effort to snap it in half. It’s the same with your muscles. Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury at the same level of intensity as a warm muscle.

Your body warms itself up by redirecting its fluids to the working joints and muscles which allows for more mobility and energy efficiency during your workout. You could think of your body like it’s a machine – the joints need lubrication to perform their job most effectively. Warming up does not have to last very long. A quality warm-up can be done in 5 minutes.

So, what are some elements of a good warm-up?

  • LIMBER UP

1. Dynamic Exercises: Dynamic exercises are exaggerated movements that take a joint through its full range of motion (ROM). This is a great way to “apply oil” to your rusty joints in preparation for a workout. These movements should be done at a comfortable pace. Moving through these too fast is called ballistic stretching, and is counter-productive. Below are some examples of different dynamic exercises.

JumpJackGood

 

KneeHugs

 

BearHugs

 

FowardLunges

 

TinSoldiers

 

LateralLunges

 

(Note:These positions should not be held for very long. Performing 1-2 sets of 10 repetitions of each will get the job done.)

2. MyoFascial Release (MR): More commonly known as massage, MR is a great way to increase blood flow to your working muscles. MR also loosens up a connective tissue called fascia which allows for increased ROM. If you were to think of fascia as a wrinkly shirt, MR irons it out and makes it more “presentable” for the workout setting. Below are a few examples of ways to perform MR on yourself.

Plantar-Quad

 

Upper-IT

 

Upper-Shoulder

 

(Note: These exercises will feel uncomfortable. That’s okay… the pressure you apply now results in tension released later. )

How do I know what “the best” moves are…?

  • SPECIFICITY

1. Muscle Groups: Make sure that your warm-up relates to your workout. For example, if your workout is focused around running/walking, you will want to focus on loosening up the muscle groups around your hips, knees, and ankles.

2. Activity: It is also a good idea to include a low intensity version of the exercises you will be doing in the workout. For example, if you are doing a strength workout that includes bench pressing, it would be a good idea to do a couple of sets with just the bar first. Likewise, if you are doing a cardio workout that involves sprints on a bike, it would be a good idea to start off biking at a casual pace.

How do I know when I’m warm and ready to go?

  • BREAK A SWEAT

A good rule of thumb to know when your body has transitioned into workout mode is when you have broken a sweat. This does not mean that you have to be dripping fluids off your body. It could simply mean that you feel some moisture on your forehead.

Lastly…

If you don’t already, plan your warm-ups as a part of your workout. Not only does it make your workouts safer, but it also gives your body more potential for a better workout.

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Nutrition: A Bunch of Berry Benefits

Other than tasting absolutely delicious, berries of all shapes and sizes are extremely nutritious fruits. I know this is not new information for most people. In fact, one may be thinking, “I already knew berries were good for me.” I want to dive a little deeper and give you some fun facts about berries as well as different ways to incorporate the different varieties.

Super-Smoothie5-20
First, a berry is botanically defined as a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. They are typically without a stone (e.g., an apricot has a stone) and may have seeds in its fleshy pulp (e.g., a banana). Yes, a banana is actually a BERRY!! Same goes for pomegranate—it is actually a berry from a botanical point of view. Pretty cool, right?!

Here are the varieties of berries we see in our grocery stores and farmer’s markets:

  • Strawberries 

My favorite. A natural spring season fruit capable of transforming any tart or bland smoothie into something sweet. Incorporate strawberries into salsas, salads and sauces to add some additional fiber, vitamin c and potassium.

  • Blueberries

Antioxidant power house. A large cohort study out of the US, UK and Singapore found that people consuming 3 servings of blueberries, grapes, raisins, pears or apples per week decreased their risk of Type II Diabetes by 7%. 

  • Raspberries (golden, black, red)

Try the different raspberry varieties with Chef Karla’s recipe:  MIXED BERRY COBBLER

  • Blackberries

Rich in anthocyanins – the phytochemical that gives berries, beets, tart cherries and rhubarb their wonderful color – can help neutralize toxins produced in our bodies. Good thing ALL berries do this!

  • Gooseberries and Currants

Check out this currant recipe– KALE SALAD WITH PINENUTS, CURRANTS AND PARMESAN

  • Goji Berries

Mostly available as dried fruit; these berries are high in fiber, vitamin C, and richer in iron compared to other berries. These goodies pack a nice flavor punch to yogurts, homemade granolas, oatmeal, smoothies, salads and more.

  • Boysenberries

Boysenberries taste very similar to a blackberry. During the Great Depression, Rudolf Boysen planted this fruit in the Napa Valley region of California. Eventually, berry expert Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farms used this berry to create the amazing jam we all love.  You now have an interesting trivia question answered!

  • Cranberries

Try to incorporate the fresh, whole cranberries as much as possible. Dried fruit, such as goji berries, are higher in sugar content because they are so concentrated. Use sparingly to incorporate different textures and flavors to your whole foods.

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Healthy Recipes: Easy 3 Step Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese

Liven up that head of Iceberg lettuce sitting in your fridge with this 3 step gourmet wedge salad recipe!

WedgeSalad5-19

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole Iceberg lettuce, rinsed and chopped into quarters

¼ cup Blue cheese, crumbled

¼ cup Tomatoes, diced

½ cup Cucumber, with skin, sliced and diced

½ ounce Bacon, baked and diced

1 T. Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

STEPS:

  • Cut the lettuce head into quarters and place each wedge (on its side) onto individual plates.
  • Drizzle H3 Buttermilk Ranch Dressing on each wedge.
  • Top each wedge with 1 T. blue cheese, 1 T. diced tomatoes, 2 T. cucumbers, and 2 tsp. diced bacon

NUTRITION: 

SERVINGS – 4

SERVING SIZE – 1 wedge salad

CALORIES – 87 kcal

FAT – 5.5 grams

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