Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two Food Habits That Age You

Nutrition, not age, determines the body's internal chemistry, affecting the quality and resilience of virtually every organ, cell, and system in the body. The condition of your skin, and quality of your bones, brain and connective tissue are all influenced by your diet. Your eating habits play a big role in determining how quickly you see and feel the effects of aging. Here are two habits to avoid.

Giving in to a serious sweet tooth
Excess sugar in your diet loiters in the blood and causes trouble by glomming onto protein molecules. This process, called glycation, causes cellular aging in several ways.
1. It slows the body's repair mechanisms. In the skin, sugar molecules gum up the collagen making skin less elastic.
2. It creates oxidative stress. Oxidation eventually leads to build up of toxins called AGEs. AGEs damage the mitochondria, your body's cellular engines. This can give rise to loss of memory, hearing, vision, and stamina. It is also related to Alzheimer's, arterial plaque and Parkinson's.

THE FIX - Cut back on processed sugar as much as you can. Choose naturally sweetened foods as they tend to contain other whole-food ingredients beneficial for reducing sugar load. Use less sugar in recipes at home. Add less to coffee or tea. Don't swap sugar for artificial sweeteners. They can do as much or more damage to your health in other ways.

Waiting to eat until you're famished
When the stomach is empty, its secretion of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, doubles. Going for a long period without food and then gorging is the textbook way to gain weight. Crashing & spiking blood sugar can create hormonal havoc.
1. When you gorge, you eat more, your blood sugar spikes higher and your body stores more calories for later. Blood sugar spikes are linked to insulin resistance and inflammation.
2. Insulin resistance adds to aging. Over time, we get metabolically less flexible, meaning our bodies have difficulty using insulin to shift micronutrients from the bloodstream into cells. This hastens aging by zapping a person's vitality, strength and sex drive.

THE FIX -Tune in to your body and get to know what it feels like to be moderately hungry. This is your sweet spot. Eat a healthy mix of proteins, fats, and nonstarchy carbs for long-lasting energy. Try hummus & veggies, nut butter & apple slices, or nuts mixed with a little dried fruit.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food  

Friday, May 20, 2016

Which Workout Is Best For Me? #3

I am completing a three-part series to help you determine how much exercise you really need. News headlines tout the seven-minute workout. Another study stated we need to exercise one hour a day to prevent premature death. The truth is, what's best depends largely on your goals and how hard you are willing to push yourself. Use this three week guide to tweak your routine to match your goals.



If your focus is to stay out of the doctor's office and in decent shape, 150 minutes of moderate steady state exercise a week can help you reduce you risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and other health problems.

Do a few higher-intensity intervals during your cardio sessions to make your heart stronger, help your muscles utilize oxygen and glucose and make your blood vessels more elastic so blood flows more easily. You don't have to be gasping for air, just pick up the pace at points throughout your workout. 

One 30 minute resistance total body workout is all you need to sustain strength. Cover all the major muscle groups using body weight, bands or dumbbells.

The key is how you spend those other 23 hours in the day. Reducing overall sedentary time is your goal. Prolonged periods of sitting can increase your risk for metabolic disorders and it even raises your risk of developing cancer. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up from your desk. When watching TV, move during commercial breaks or DVR fast forwarding. Stand, walk a little, do a few stretches, hold a tree pose. Get creative and move your body. Park at the far end of the parking lot, use the stairs, play with the dog.

As I end this series, use these ideas to personalize your exercise routine and get the results you are working for. Remember, the most important aspect of any of these routines is compliance and consistency. The best exercise is the one that you DO. Avoid movement that makes you unhappy or stressed. Choose a workout that gives you energy and life.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food


Friday, May 13, 2016

Which Workout Is Best For Me? #2

I am continuing a three-part series to help you determine how much exercise you really need. News headlines tout the seven-minute workout. Another study stated we need to exercise one hour a day to prevent premature death. The truth is, what's best depends largely on your goals and how hard you are willing to push yourself. Use this three week guide to tweak your routine to match your goals.



Strength training can change your shape even if you haven't lost an ounce. People who did a twice weekly total-body strength routine gained three pounds of lean muscle after 10 weeks. A 72-hour recovery seems to be the best time frame for maximizing muscle development. If you maxed out a muscle on Monday, wait until Thursday to train it hard again. Strength training triggers microscopic tears in muscle cells, which, when repaired days afterward, make muscles stronger. It's important not to shortchange the recovery process.

Do eight to ten different moves to target the major muscle groups (shoulders, chest, back, arms, abs and legs). Start with one set of 12-15 reps. That one set will deliver maximum muscle gains in beginners. As you get stronger, add sets and mix it up with higher reps/lighter weight and lower reps/heavier weight. You need heavy loads to elicit the muscle changes that deliver definition and build strength.

Cardio is key for burning the fat that hides the muscles. Mix up your routine by adding intervals and moderate steady state workouts. Give yourself 48 hours of rest between HIIT and strength training to maximize recovery. To understand more about High Intensity Interval Training, check out my past blog at HIIT Training


Friday, May 6, 2016

What Workout Is Best For Me? #1

I am beginning a three-part series to help you determine how much exercise you really need. News headlines tout the seven-minute workout. Another study stated we need to exercise one hour a day to prevent premature death. The truth is, what's best depends largely on your goals and how hard you are willing to push yourself. Use this three week guide to tweak your routine to match your goals.



Research has shown that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will trim more flab than steady state cardio and save you time. Alternating short periods of exercise at your highest effort with an easy pace allows you to log a 20-minute workout and net roughly the same calorie burn as a 30-45 minute workout at a steady pace. You get a boost during the intervals and also during the rest periods, because your body uses the extra energy to return to normal. Plus you get a nice 10% bonus after-burn.

During an interval, you run on fast-acting glycogen, or carbs, but recoveries are fueled by fat. Don't skimp on the recovery time. Run, cycle, swim - the undulating pattern matters more than the activity you are doing.

One of your HIIT sessions should focus on body-weight moves (burpees, squats, push-ups) to build muscle as well. Those who combined cardio and strength training lost more fat than those who did only cardio. Resistance training protects and builds the lean muscle which is your body's calorie burning furnace.

Add another day of weight training, making sure to hit all the major muscle groups and use weights heavy enough so you're spent with the last rep.

The key to weight loss is consistency.  On alternate days, walk, bike, play tennis. Do something active.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Can Exercise Make Your Skin Look Younger?

Exercise not only keeps your skin youthful but it also helps reverse aging. As you workout, your muscles release all sorts of proteins to start the domino effect of your body's response to exercise. One in particular, IL-15, stimulates the skin's power centers, or mitochondria. The pumped-up mitochondria in turn make skin cells perform better, whether they're cranking out plumping collagen or triggering the cell turnover that renews your complexion. IL-15 makes skin cells' mitochondria fitter and healthier, and that makes skin look and act younger. This priceless youth potion is free: Exercise is the only way to get it.

Scientists created a study to compare exercisers and sedentary adults. The exerciser's skin looked 25 years younger - amazing! Even better, when the scientists put the sedentary adults on a moderate exercise plan, the aging of their skin was reversed in as little as three months. They saw the deep layer of skin become firmer and the top layer being replenished with new cells more often.

Getting your heart pumping faster boosts your circulation. That means more oxygen and nutrients reach your skin cells. Each cell is improved when you exercise and you further ward off the aging process. At the same time your IL-15 is spiking, your muscles are releasing similar interleukins that stimulate the body's immune system, which in turn can reduce whole-body inflammation. That is crucial because inflammation breaks down collagen and is a key driver of aging. When your body is fighting inflammation, it cannot focus on its regular functions that keep skin strong & healthy.

Cardio exercise generates IL-15. According to the study, the specific type - running, swimming, cycling - doesn't matter and moderate intensity gets results. Don't worry about stressing your skin's elasticity with running or impact. The small amount of g-force actually stimulates repair mechanisms in your skin and triggers collagen growth. If you do your cardio outside, apply SPF 30 every two hours. Exercise can temporarily lower the skin's protective antioxidant levels. Take advantage of this free youth potion this week.

Keep Moving, Stay Active and
Enjoy Younger-Looking Skin

Friday, April 22, 2016

Are Avocados a Forbidden Food?

Avocados have become even more popular recently with the trendy debut of avocado toast (being sold in hip restaurants nearby at exorbitant prices) Should you include avocados in your diet or are they a "forbidden" food?

Many people tend to stop eating avocado due to its high calorie content, thinking that it may add to their weight. Much of the fat content comes from unique sources, like phytosterols. This special group of fats has been shown to provide important anti-inflammatory benefits to our body systems, including our cardiovascular system.

The addition of avocado to already well-balanced diets has been shown to lower risk of heart disease, improve blood levels of LDL, and lower levels of oxidative stress in the bloodstream. In one particular research study, participants in two groups all consumed a diet with the same overall balance, including 34% fat in both groups. But one avocado per day was included in the meal plan of only one group, and that was the group with the best heart-related results in terms of blood fat levels.

Eating mono-saturated fats can contribute to satiety. You feel fuller and get less hungry when you include healthy fats in your meal plan. Satiety is an important factor in weight management, because people who feel satisfied are less likely to snack between meals.

Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an anti-oxidant as well as related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene and tocopherol (vitamin E). Avocados also help you get more of these nutrients from other foods. Anywhere from two to six times as much absorption was found to occur with the added avocado! But in addition, avocados also improved conversion of specific carotenoids (most importantly, beta-carotene) into active vitamin A.

Salad greens—including romaine lettuce—and mixed greens like kale, chard, and spinach are great examples of very low fat, carotenoid-rich foods that might be eaten alone but would have more of their carotenoid-richness transferred over into your body with the help of some added avocado. 

Add avocados to your daily diet to improve cardiovascular health, contribute to satiety and improve antioxidant absorption. Enjoy your guacamole this Cinco de Mayo!

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy our Food

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Secret Workout Weapon

Music is powerful. We intuitively know this, but now, thanks to functional MRI scans and new research on the way music affects the body, scientists have a better understanding of how tunes can make a big difference in your fitness achievements.

Motivation can be as simple as listening to a song that you've conditioned yourself to associate with energy and positivity. The goal: train your brain to know that when you hear a particular song you're going to work out. What you're doing is forging a connection between the song and your drive. This happens in the brain's limbic system, which helps regulate emotions, stores memories, and controls hormonal releases. Try cuing up to three energizing picks at the beginning of your workout to keep your motivation cranked.

Listening to song while you sweat can rev your heartbeat so much that it mimics the effect of a legal performance enhancing drug. Music can improve your endurance, strength and power while making you feel as if you're not working as hard. Music drowns out your stream of consciousness, which can be especially helpful during uncomfortable anaerobic exercise. Music decreases the production of lactic acid, which creates the burning sensation in your muscles, so listening to tunes lets you exercise at a higher intensity for longer.

The right playlist can help you form and maintain an exercise habit. Participants who listened to music worked out 20% more regularly than those who exercised without music. Plan out your playlist. If you typically hit a wall 20 minutes into your workout, save a high-octane song for that point. Consider tempo - your running playlist will be faster than your strength training playlist. Build an association between music and a great workout.

Exercise tears down muscles, recovery is when you rebuild them. The faster you get to a resting heart rate, the faster your muscles recover (you'll feel less sore in the 24 - 48 hours after). Parasympathetic activity rose in those who listened to calm music after a workout and they recovered 10 - 15% more quickly than those who did not. Cooling down helps flush lactic acid out of your system, regulate circulation and prevent blood from pooling in muscles. Use this time to foam roll and stretch to prepare you for your next successful session.

Music can boost your strength & endurance, amp your motivation & drive, and speed your recovery. Put together a powerful playlist this week.

Stay Active, Enjoy Your Food and 
Keep Moving