nav-left cat-right
cat-right

Articles

What is Tempo Training?

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in resistance training | 0 comments

What is Tempo Training?

Have you heard of it? Tempo training, once popular in the weight lifting circuit, took a back seat for a while and now is back in serious strength-training and coaching circles. Tempo training is not a new concept. It’s basically controlling and varying the speed and rhythm of each repetition of a set of strength training exercises. Tempo Training: Basic Components There are two essential ‘main phases’ to strength training exercises and, of course, to tempo training, the eccentric and concentric phases. The eccentric phase involves lowering a weight whereas the concentric phase involves lifting the weight (contracting the target muscle). If you use momentum to ‘hoist’ up your weight and then rapidly drop it, you are minimizing benefits, wasting time and risking injury. Two other components of tempo training are isometric ‘holds’ or short pauses that should be included when the weight is down/stretched and when the weight is ‘up’ or the muscle is contracted. With tempo training, you are purposefully using different speeds or ‘counts’ for each main phase depending upon your fitness goals how you wish to effectively target your muscles. Generally speaking, it’s best to work with a certified personal trainer to develop a basic routine, customized for you while perfecting your form. Mix and match cadences (tempos) to create multiple lifting variations. Imagine biceps curls. You start with straight arms. Consider curling up on a count of two, pausing for one second, lowering on a count of four and pausing for another second. As you lower the weight, you are engaging both target and ‘helper’ muscles, maximizing results. That’s tempo training! Always avoid using momentum or ‘swinging’ to help you hoist up the weights. If you can’t lift in a controlled manner, try using lighter weights. Tempo Training and Muscle Fiber Engagement There are two categories of muscle fibers: type I and type II. The speed or tempo you adopt when performing strength training exercises determines which type of muscle fibers are most engaged. Type I or slow-twitch fibers are working during low-intensity, sustained activities whereas type II or fast-twitch fibers are engaged during short, high-intensity bursts of activity. Lift a weight in a slow and controlled manner during the concentric phase and you’ll target mainly type I muscle fibers. Fast, powerful concentric phases, like a quick push (pushing weight away from your body) stimulates (and grows) type II muscle fibers. In general, super-fast concentric phases aren’t appropriate for most strength-training exercises. Increasing the speed increases the likelihood that you’ll use proper form, taking the work emphasis off of the target muscle and potentially placing undue stress on tendons and ligaments. Think of going from slow and to faster…but always very controlled. Tempo Training: Next Steps You’ll want to switch up your cadence, or tempo, depending upon your training goals, desired results; even the exercises you choose. In an upcoming post, I’ll delve further into the three main ‘cadences’ in tempo training: slow, normal and fast and list specific exercises appropriate for each category....

read more

Top Food, Weight Loss and Nutrition ‘Apps’

Posted by on Oct 11, 2014 in technology | 0 comments

Top Food, Weight Loss and Nutrition ‘Apps’

Whether you have an Apple or an Android phone … it’s hard to do without ‘apps.’ A mobile application, (mobile app) is a software application designed to run on mobile or portable devices such as smart phones, tablet computers, etc. They are usually operated by the owner of the mobile operating system, such as Apple, Google, Windows (think Apple App store, Google Play and Windows Phone store). There are free apps and those that must be purchased. After downloading the software, you can use the ‘app.’ Initially designed to increase general productivity and enhance information retrieval, apps now cover games, music, banking, etc. There are dozens of food, nutrition, weight loss and fitness/exercise apps designed to help you live a healthier life. Before downloading anything that looks interesting consider that doing so means info overload. Interested in knowing which are the best according to registered dietitians (RDs)? Check these picks out for October and look for regular bi-monthly updates for new options: SparkRecipes: Easy-to-use, offers thousands of healthy recipes that you can categorize and organize according to various criteria, such as cuisine, occasion, dietary needs…you can save favorite recipes and convert common cooking measures. Cons: nutrition facts for recipes are user-generated and may not be correct/reliable. Platform: Apple, Android & Blackberry iCookbook Diabetic: Summary: from the editors of Diabetic Cooking (and the original iCookbook app), contains over 500 recipes sorted by category (30-minute meals, vegetarian, slow-cooker, low-carb, etc). Offers a tool to scale ingredients to change recipe yield (portions), also offers  nutrition analysis and dietary exchanges for each recipe. Platform: Apple Fooducate Nutrition Scanner: Summary: Perhaps not a stand-alone app for overall better nutrition but a nifty tool nonetheless and a great companion to a nutrition plan. Fooducate allows you to scan a food’s UPC and it will tell you the nutrition facts (and more…such as if the sodium level is dangerous, for instance). It ‘grades’ the food relative to its alternatives and even helps you to pick a healthier selection (say, for a protein bar). Overall, you can improve your food choices. Platform: Apple, Android Calorie Counter MyNetDiary: Summary: Weight loss/management involves tracking what you take in calorie-wise. Apps are useful tools for taking some of the work out of calorie-counting. This app is a useful nutrition aid as it tracks your calorie intake, AND your exercise to help take the guesswork out of your calorie balance for better weight management. Charts and graphs provide feedback on your progress. Like Fooducate, you can scan the bar code of packaged food OR type the first few letters of the name of a specific dish to search from over 420,000 foods contained in the database. Platform: Apple, Android Food Tripping: Summary: A great food finder for your vicinity….locates everything from small business food artisans to national food and market chains. Customizable search results based on categories such as  farmers markets, coffee/tea, juice joints, microbreweries and vegan/vegetarian options. Businesses are searchable by name, location and category. Platform: Apple, Android...

read more

Holiday Eating…low-calorie appetizers

Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in meal planning, recipes | 0 comments

Holiday Eating…low-calorie appetizers

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, literally. Every year it comes around the same time…yet we seem to be surprised and unprepared. The plan was to get into better shape and lose a few pounds before the holiday season…right? It’s not just about one particular day or meal… it’s the whole season, which is full of goodies and leftovers. Combine that with less than optimal weather for a majority of the U.S. (discouraging outdoor exercise) and the result is weight gain. Average holiday weight gain is 5 to 10 lbs. It’s no myth! It takes 3,500 calories beyond what your body requires for weight maintenance to gain 1 lb. That might sound like a lot but it’s not…Did you know that a full holiday meal, with appetizers, cocktails, a loaded main plate and dessert can weigh in at over 3,500 calories? Grab a couple of ounces of cheese and a handful of butter crackers and you’re taking in roughly 300 calories. Add two heavy-handed Scotch cocktails and 1/2 cup mixed nuts and you’re looking at up to 800 calories … and you haven’t sat down for that big meal yet. It might be a little late to change the whole meal or put in a special request with your favorite aunt … but you can be proactive. Bring or make low-calorie appetizers and swap out a cocktail for sparkling water with a fruit wedge. You’ll end up taking in fewer calories overall. Appetizers – Low-calorie suggestions Remember, appetizers are small ‘bites’ of food that are meant to tide you over until your meal. Of course, you can skip them altogether but you don’t have to do so. Weight-friendly options include, of course, raw veggies/fruits with light dip but will that entice a crowd? Keep in mind that the key to calorie control is portion control. If the flavors are bold and satisfying, you’ll be happy with less. How about grilled shrimp or scallop and cherry tomato skewers or grilled or roasted shiitake mushrooms with a soy dipping sauce? Buy a ready-made soy dipping sauce or create your own with a base of 2 parts (1/2 cup) low-sodium soy sauce to one part (1/4 cup) rice wine vinegar, minced garlic cloves and diced scallions (to your taste), a couple teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. This easy option offers tons of flavor but fewer than 100 calories per serving. Staying with the seafood theme…thin slices of smoked salmon on a platter topped with diced onion and capers…paired with wheat or rye crackers is healthy and low in calories. A great crunch alternative to puff pastry is using layers of phyllo dough. It’s easier to work with than you think. You can set the sheets into mini muffin cups and fill them with everything from fruit compote to soft cheeses. Another idea is to whip up a light tasty filling for hollowed out sweet bell peppers made from light cream cheese, onion and chives. If you buy it ‘commercially prepared,’ this type of spread offers about 40 calories per tbsp. but you’ll get a huge burst of color and flavor in one little serving. Remember, they are appetizers…keep the calories...

read more

Coping with post-Halloween candy madness

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in family health | 0 comments

Coping with post-Halloween candy madness

Halloween is only one day out of 365…so what’s wrong with a few pieces of candy? Absolutely nothing…and this is coming from an unofficial ‘food cop.’ Halloween is fun – for children and adults. A few sweet treats won’t do much harm. The problem isn’t just about ‘one day.’ It’s about the days after….when all of the leftover candy you have in your home is staring you in the face – from the stash you doled out to neighbors to the bucketful your little ghost brought home. If you are like most American adults, you buy what you love…just in case there are a few pieces of candy leftover. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with candy you don’t like! These strategies work great for kids but also can be modified for ‘adult children…’ The best strategy when it comes to dealing with your child’s Halloween ‘earnings’ is to have him/her pick out their absolute favorites. Of course, you should have a (limited) quantity in mind ahead of time. These treats can be doled out carefully, prudently and sparingly after meals over the next few weeks. Just limit the quantity. If you have generous neighbors that gave out large candy bars, unwrap them, cut them into small pieces and freeze them. They’ll last and defrost in a lunchbox. In general try to avoid hard nougat, toffee and taffy candies that grind into teeth and are ‘sticky’ as they are prime cavity-causers. Best bet: dark chocolate pieces which offer some antioxidant benefits and less butter-fat than milk chocolate. Just because your child doesn’t like all of the candy he/she was given doesn’t mean they’ll part with it easily! Offer something better. This might even work with the beloved candies. Use pieces as ‘currency.’ Set a price (pieces of candy) to purchase or trade in for a new game, toy or even an outing (such as a bowling party with friends). If your child wants a treat for a treat…have him trade in a few pieces for a better choice that you buy, such as a Nabisco 100-calorie packs® (portion-controlled). Oreo Thin Wafer Crisps™, Honey Maid Cinnamon Thin Crisps™ and Chips Ahoy! Thin Crisps™ are reasonable options. Make sure to serve a snack pack with something healthy, like a glass of milk or a piece of string cheese. To keep things in perspective, all of these treats (in quantity listed) provide approximately 100 calories: 15 jelly beans/22 jelly bellies® 1-oz licorice 25 plain M&Ms® 1 Kudos® 100-calorie bar 2 Tootsie pops® 5 Werther’s Original® candies 13 gummy bears® 10 York Peppermint Patty® bites 16 pieces of candy corn 4 bite-sized 3-Muskateer® candies When planning your ‘treat’ (or your child’s treat) keep calories in mind, and in...

read more

Pear: A Lucious Fall Fruit

Posted by on Oct 26, 2013 in fruits and vegetables, in season | 0 comments

Pear: A Lucious Fall Fruit

In case you missed the chill in the air, the abundance of seasonal autumn produce – crisp apples, colorful squash, and pears should tell you that winter is just around the corner. Why pears? Why now? They are a truly versatile, luscious, flavorful and healthful fall fruit. Most North American pears are grown in Oregon and Washington. Though you can find some variety from August through May as some type is harvested year-round, true ‘pear season‘ begins in September/October. That is when they are most abundantly available, less expensive and flavorful. In case there is any doubt – just look at the range of skin colors among pear varieties. They match the gorgeous hues of the fall leaves: gold, russet, mauve, pale green, ginger, crimson and more. Pear Varieties Not a fan? Perhaps it’s because you’ve always eaten canned pears or rock hard, out-of-season green Anjou pears which are available almost year-round in supermarkets. It’s time to broaden your horizons and enjoy new varieties…as there are many. The first pear varieties to explode on the scene in September are Bosc (russet-colored and firm even when ripe), Bartlett (green and red, ultra juicy) and Comice (green with brown flecks, firm flesh). By October you can find Anjou (red and green), Concorde (pale green), Forelle (green skin spotted with red flecks) and Seckel (shiny skin, often mostly a muted green color with a patch of reddish-orange) appear…and that’s hardly a comprehensive list! Some varieties might be harder to find in your region than others but make it your goal to try at least one new variety this season. You’ll find in-season pears to offer a firm but juicy texture and flavors that range from very sweet to tart. Use this as a guideline, but keep in mind most pears, as with many fruits and vegetables, can be eaten raw or cooked (except Bartlett). Eating versus Cooking Best for eating raw: Bartlett (soft, lose their shape when cooked), Comice (also juicy, very sweet, may not cook well), French butter, Anjou and Asian (‘crisp’ flesh, like an apple, good for dicing and adding to salads or using in tarts or crisps) Best for cooking: Bosc, seckel (tiniest variety, very firm, slightly acidic) and forelle (sweet-tart, snacking or cooking) Pear Nutrition and Health Benefits The pear is a relatively low-calorie fruit. One medium-sized fruit, or about 175 grams, offers about 95 calories. Calories per fruit vary according to variety and size. They are fat, cholesterol and sodium-free but high in dietary fiber, providing roughly 6 grams per medium-sized fruit. Pears (and apples) contain an appreciable amount of soluble fiber, which may help to lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels (slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream). Selecting and Storing Choose firm, blemish-free, stem-on pears with unbroken skin. They ripen quickly and bruise very easily so handle with care. Store them at room temperature until they reach desired ripeness. Though you can store them in the refrigerator for a couple of days to ‘hold’ them at a certain ripeness, pears are best, and juiciest, when eaten at room temperature. They are ripe when the flesh ‘gives’ gently when pressed at the neck of the...

read more