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Boot-camp workout: A pumped up version

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 in workout routines | 0 comments

Boot-camp workout: A pumped up version

It’s autumn already and luckily we still have some beautiful weather to enjoy. Get the most out of the clear and sunny days left by exercising outdoors, whenever you can…even if it’s just a fast walk at lunchtime. An outdoor boot-camp workout need not be limited to the beach on summer days. When you can, get outside before it cools down and starts to get dark (around 6 pm). A fast track to fitness is to combine classic strength training moves, such as body weight exercises (back-to-back with limited rest) with short aerobic intervals to keep your heart-rate elevated for about 20-30 minutes, a variation of the traditional boot-camp workout. To minimize fatigue, alternate upper and lower body moves. Not only are there dozens of body weight exercises to choose from, but they are effective and require no equipment or accessories. Focus on choosing compound strength training exercises or moves that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Big movements that involve large muscle groups burn more calories. Think of a boot-camp workout taken up a notch. The goal is to keep your heart rate elevated (peaks and valleys) throughout the workout by performing 3 to 5 ‘sets’ of exercises in rapid succession. For example, one ‘set’ might start with walking lunges (the full length of your back yard). Before you turn around to walk back, perform 10 to 12 crawl out straight leg push-ups. From a standing position, with straight legs, touch your palms to the ground in front of you and, keeping your legs straight, inch your straight arms out and away from your toes, until you are in a plank position. Perform a full push up, crawl your hands back to your toes, stand erect and repeat. After performing another set of walking lunges, proceed straight into a cardiovascular set. Do a full minute of kettlebell swings or try incorporating challenging “burpees” into the set. To perform a “burpee,” begin in a standing position. Quickly drop down into a squat with your hands on the ground and kick your legs back into a push-up position. Perform one push-up and jump back into a squat position to complete the movement. Of course proper form and positioning is key to ensuring a safe and effective boot-camp workout. Squeeze in at least a few of these workouts before the really chilly air sets...

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Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in eat smart | 0 comments

Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Health Observances calendar,  September is the month to remind yourself to increase your intake of fruits and veggies! This health observance is sponsored by the ‘Produce for Better Health Foundation.’ The significance of the health benefits gained by consuming a diet, rich in a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, is often underestimated. You cannot get the same benefits from pills and powders. How are Americans doing? One in three adults eat the recommended number of fruit servings daily and only one in four consume the recommended number of vegetable servings daily. When you discount potatoes and fruit juice, the picture is grimmer. So let’s dispel common myths on…fruits and veggies: Fruits and Veggies: Too Expensive? They are NOT too expensive! Choose fresh (on sale) or frozen fruits and veggies (in bags without sauces or added sugars). Last choice: canned as they are processed and usually contain higher amounts of sodium and/or sugars. Plus there is the nutritive value to consider. Peaches, apricots, plums and apples (with skin) are good sources of soluble fiber, a type of dietary fiber that helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. Tips to save $$$: shop in season for best taste, texture, quality and value and buy ‘bags’ versus by the lb. or ‘each.’ Such as? Bagged fruits and veggies such as avocados, apples, oranges, potatoes, sweet bell peppers, carrots, etc., are a better value and go farther in meals/snacks. Fruits and Veggies: I don’t like ’em Try them raw, cooked, plain, ‘doctored,’ and prepared in every way (including grilled) before you make that statement. Maybe you don’t like them mushy and overcooked…who does? Eating well-prepared and seasoned (especially for veggies) makes a huge difference in flavor and texture. Like smoothies? Invest in a high-quality blender that can turn even the toughest raw veggies and fruits into a creamy, delicious, filling drink. Just watch the sugar and calories. Investigate recipes online that balance the amount of fruits and veggies in the drink and keep calories at about 150 – 200 calories (snack) and 450 – 500 (meal). Fruits and Veggies: No room in my diet!! Not enough room in your diet for fruits and veggies? You just might find some extra room if you decrease the amount of full-fat ice cream, cheese, bread, bagels, pizza, pasta, cookies, wraps, scones, paninis, muffins, monster sugary coffee drinks and granola bars you consume. Consider this: In 2010, Americans consumed (and likely still do)about 109 lbs. of flour…that’s not much less than the average consumption before the low-carbohydrate diet craze, which was about 116 lbs. Remember those huge low-fat bagels?! Stay tuned to upcoming posts for easy tips on how to increase your intake of fruits and...

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Childhood Obesity Prevention: Healthier School Lunches

Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in family health | 0 comments

Childhood Obesity Prevention: Healthier School Lunches

Childhood Obesity: Significance There are several national health observances for the month of September. Of these, childhood obesity awareness may be among the most significant and timely in our society today. In terms of numbers, or prevalence of childhood obesity, one in three, or approximately 1/3 of American children fall into an overweight or obese (weight) category. Unfortunately, malnutrition is common in the U.S., includes both over- and under-nourishment. The most common form of malnutrition (‘mal’ means ‘bad,’ ‘wrongful’ or ‘ill’) is obesity. Malnourished children are not necessarily ‘thin.’ In a world full of extremes, there are many children, of all shapes and sizes, not eating well enough for optimal growth, development and disease prevention. Childhood Obesity: Awareness and Education A First Lady must have her cause … for Michelle Obama it’s childhood obesity prevention. By drawing attention to the topic and being a self-nominated spokesperson, she can use her influence to encourage funding/program development. Her claims to fame include the “Let’s Move” and “We Can!” campaigns. Childhood Obesity Prevention: Healthier School Lunches The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is making some strides. Schools across the country are incorporating vegetarian meals (more veggies in general) into their lunch menus. The San Diego Unified district started a ‘meatless Mondays’ program. They offer garden veggie burgers, sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh salads. In 2012, the USDA introduced new standards for American school lunch offerings to combat malnutrition and childhood obesity. School lunches should now feature whole grains, low-fat milk, more fruit and a healthier mix/selection of vegetables. Based on results of a survey from 2005, serving more fruits and a healthier vegetable mix did slightly increase students’ vegetable consumption, although total consumption was still too low.  Availability of alternatives (choices) mattered in this survey – students at schools without à la carte options and those with only healthy à la carte options, had higher intakes of dark green vegetables. Other good news: the percentage of school districts that allowed soda/soft drink advertising dropped significantly, 13%, from 2006 to 20012. In addition, the percentage of districts that prohibited junk food in vending machines (over the same time period) increased by about 14%. Soft drinks and junk foods in schools are less prevalent nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amount of nutrition-related information sent home to parents (on caloric content of foods available to students, etc.) is up as well as the overall nutritional standards in schools. Perhaps not ‘groundbreaking’ but certainly good news in the fight against childhood obesity....

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Body Weight Exercises for Legs

Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in resistance training | 0 comments

Body Weight Exercises for Legs

Body Weight Exercises for Legs: Significance Let’s move on to your lower body, specifically, to exercises for legs. We will cover body weight exercises for the hips, buttocks and core separately. Alternate upper– and lower-body moves to minimize rest periods, keep your heart rate elevated throughout your workout and save time. Engaging in resistance training and doing body weight exercises for legs regularly makes performing activities of daily living easier. General recommendations call for choosing effective exercises in a meaningful sequence (work largest muscles first). Working toward developing balanced strength amongst major leg muscles (quads and hamstrings, for example) may protect you from common injuries, such as pulled muscles. There are dozens of effective body weight exercises for legs, for maximum efficiency, choose compound moves or those that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Best results come from working out smarter, not necessarily longer. Body Weight Exercises for Legs: Specifics You don’t need exercise equipment to get an effective, tough workout, even if you are already in great shape. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), squats, step-ups/downs, split squats/lunges and hamstring curls (standing or on all fours) are among the most effective body weight exercises for legs, in fact, for your whole lower body. First…squats. Start with a basic squat and build from there. Deep squats, self-assisted squats, one-legged squats, walking lunges and squats – the variations are virtually endless. Always challenge yourself and vary your exercise choices. Advanced exercisers may progress to plyometrics, power exercises that involve explosive but controlled jumping movements. Golden rule for standing leg work: Never extend your knees beyond your toes, keep your weight mainly over your heels. Don’t neglect your calves when performing exercises for legs. Best choice: calf raises (2-legged or 1-legged, balancing or assisted). Remember, if you are relying on body weight alone (for resistance), you must concentrate on really contracting the target muscle, imagining you are trying to move against resistance, such as water. Exercises for Legs: Last Words… Warnings: avoid over-training and using inconsistent, poor form. Always stop if you are experiencing unusual or sharp pain. Do not rely on exercise ‘lists.’ Watch them performed by a professional on exrx.net or YouTube to read descriptions and view proper form through the full range of motion (video). Do step-ups on a box of an appropriate and realistic height. Step-up from behind a box/bench or from the side. Always push through the heel of your working leg to lift your body upwards while contracting your butt. Last word: don’t forget to do a warm-up and post-workout...

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Greek Yogurt Information and Recommendations

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in dairy products and substitutes | 0 comments

Greek Yogurt Information and Recommendations

Do you love Greek yogurt (Greek-style yogurt)? It’s all the rage these days…pushing regular yogurt to the back of the shelf. In fact, it accounts for 1/3 of the yogurt in a typical grocery store. It’s thick and creamy, satisfying and, if you choose wisely, a very healthy snack choice or meal accompaniment. That said, don’t go crazy just yet – there is a huge difference among brands. Educate yourself before you buy. Greek yogurt brands are NOT all equal when it comes to taste, quality or nutritive value. Greek Yogurt: Traditional versus ‘Faux’ Greek yogurt is traditionally made by straining regular yogurt to remove some of the liquid whey, leaving behind the thick, concentrated solids. This process increases the protein content significantly (15 to 20 grams per 6-oz. serving) but slightly decreases the calcium content (15 to 20% of the Recommended Daily Value or 150 to 200 mg of calcium per serving). Strained Greek yogurt is very similar to Icelandic-style skyr. Faux Greek-style yogurt is made by adding thickeners to regular yogurt, such as inulin, cornstarch, gelatin and/or pectin. Manufacturers may add whey protein concentrate to bump the protein content up. If not, it will offer the same amount of protein as traditional yogurt, about 6 to 8 grams per 6-oz. serving. More protein per serving is one of the main benefits of choosing Greek yogurt! Unstrained yogurt with added thickeners also contains the same amount of calcium as regular yogurt (25 to 30% of the Recommended Daily Value or 250 to 300 mg per serving). Greek Yogurt: General Nutrition Information Greek yogurt can vary in calories, particularly depending upon whether or not you choose sugar-sweetened. Personally, I recommend steering clear of artificially sweetened Greek yogurt, which tastes a bit ‘too’ sweet. Most light varieties are usually made with a combination of artificial sweeteners. These days, folks are second-guessing whether loading up on artificial sweeteners is wise as new research emerges. You can stay conservative on calories, without limiting yourself to only light Greek yogurt varieties. Most Greek yogurt varieties range from ‘bite-sized’ 3.5-oz servings all the way to generous 8-oz servings. Therefore they range in calorie content, starting at 90 calories and going all the way up to 280 calories. Per serving, Greek yogurt also varies in saturated (bad) fat content, ranging from 0 to 12 grams; a protein content of 6 to 20 grams; a calcium content of 100 to 350 mg and a sugar content of 1 to 4 tsp (includes natural and added sugars). In general, Greek yogurt is lower in carbohydrate than regular yogurt (comparing plain, non-flavored varieties). Stay tuned for ‘Best Picks.’ Our ‘Best Picks’ piece will include a review of dairy-free, lactose-free Greek yogurt substitutes, made with cultured almond, rice or soy milk. Drawbacks? For those who do not like Greek yogurt and prefer traditional yogurt, particularly more exotic flavors as well as ready-to-eat puddings, etc., may be in a bind. Companies, such as Danone (makers of Oikos) and Stoneyfield Farm are being forced to limit production and eliminate less popular flavors of traditional yogurt to keep up with the Greek yogurt craze…to read more on this in an article published online (Wall Street...

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