Friday, March 31, 2017

Gym Myths Exposed #2

New gym myths seem to pop up overnight. Do all your exercises standing on one foot! Eat all the carbs you want before a 5k! Strength training makes you bulky! Your workout partner says one thing. The internet says another. A celebrity trainer says they are both wrong.

For the next couple of weeks I am sharing information from top experts in nutrition, exercise, weight loss and athletic performance to rank each concept and set the record straight. You will not only know if the idea is true - you'll also know why.

You need to load up on carbs before a race - FALSE - eat a balanced meal before a race.
It's true that aerobic activities like running are fueled by a combination of carbohydrates (in the form of a readily usable energy source called glycogen) and fat. There's a limit to how much glycogen we can store, though. And even a long race doesn't burn nearly as many calories as you might think. Eating a normal-sized meal, balanced in protein and fats, and high in easily digested carbs is sufficient.


Exercise makes you smarter - TRUE - working out has many positive effects on the brain.
Science has proven it: what's good for the body is good for the brain. Regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus. Exercise stimulates the release of growth factors that promote the formation of new neural pathways, brain cells and blood vessels. Exercise initiates changes in body chemistry, such as reduced inflammation, improved circulation and improved sleep, that support healthy brain function.

Fasting before exercise burns more fat - FALSE - exercising after a small meal may burn more fat than a fasted workout.
A 2014 study found that women who exercised after an overnight fast lost no more fat than a second group who had a meal before their cardio sessions. Another study suggests that eating a small meal pre-workout may lead to greater excess postexercise oxygen consumption or EPOC (the bump in metabolism in the hours after a workout) than eating nothing at all. Aim for a light, easily-digestible meal before your sweat session. That said, if you're not hungry and your energy doesn't suffer, don't force yourself to eat. Your body's intuition may be more useful than studies.

Check in next week for three more gym myths exposed!


Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, March 24, 2017

Gym Myths Exposed #1

New gym myths seem to pop up overnight. Do all your exercises standing on one foot! Eat all the carbs you want before a 5k! Strength training makes you bulky! Your workout partner says one thing. The internet says another. A celebrity trainer says they are both wrong.

The next couple of weeks I will share information from top experts in nutrition, exercise, weight loss and athletic performance to rank each concept and set the record straight. You will not only know if the idea is true - you'll also know why.

Machines are safer than free weights - TRUE - but free weights are still the better option.
Resistance training machines may look like medieval torture devices but dumbbells cause more weight-training injuries. Machines support your whole body and encourage motion in one plane with one joint. Free weights force you to control a weight in all directions and they teach you better movement mechanics and body awareness. These skills translate readily into the functional movements of everyday life. Studies found that barbell squats stimulated significantly more beneficial hormones than the same number of machine leg presses. Barbell bench presses were found to activate more muscle tissue than a machine equivalent.


You don't have to be "thin" to be healthy - TRUE - body fat is just one measure of health.
Lifestyle is one of the best predictors of long-term health. Four basic healthy habits minimize the impact of a high BMI.
        * exercise regularly
        * eat five servings of vegetables and fruits daily
        * refrain from smoking
        * drink alcohol in moderation
A person who has more body fat but less stress, who sleeps well, lifts weights and eats fruits and vegetables is often healthier than someone with low body fat who doesn't have the same healthy habits. Strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health and healthy hormonal levels are influenced as much or more by what you DO than what you weigh.


Running is bad for your knees - FALSE - bad running form is bad for your knees.
Perfect running form should be painless. the human body was designed to move far more than we do now. These days people often jump into the sport too quickly and too intensely after years of sedentary living. A new stimulus on the body with that intensity is asking for trouble. Pain in the feet, knees, back and hips is the common outcome. Your knee should track over your foot, not inside or outside of it. Your toes should track forward, not in or out. You should feel equal pressure in the inside and outside edges of your foot each time you stride. Strive for quality form over mileage. Don't increase your mileage more than 10% per week.


Check in next week for three more gym myths exposed!

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, March 17, 2017

Eat Green for St. Patrick's Day

I enjoy celebrating the holidays and am making corned beef and cabbage with whole-wheat Irish Soda bread for a special celebration.

What naturally green foods can you enjoy this St. Patrick's Day?

Kale is trendy right now. It is a powerhouse of nutrition, rich in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron and fiber. Add some to salads or soups. I enjoy the bagged kale salad from Costco.

Green Tea has been linked to protection against diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It might slow the growth of cancer. I brew a gallon of green tea at a time and enjoy it all day long. I have developed such a taste for it that I crave it over most other beverages.

Kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange and is also rich in the antioxidant lutein. You can actually eat the skin but if you prefer not to, you can peel and slice it to eat as is or to add to salads. Another way to eat a kiwi is to slice it in half crosswise and scoop it out with a spoon.

Basil is an amazing herb. It has fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and B6 as well as calcium, zinc and iron. You can add basil to your salad for a flavor punch. Try topping your whole-wheat veggie pizza with slivers of basil. What about including it in whole-wheat pasta along with broccoli & a few artichoke hearts? Since basil can be pricey, I like to buy the basil plant and have it available in my kitchen for a few weeks.

Cabbage is economical and and low in calories. It contains sinigrin which has shown unique cancer preventive properties. Cabbage also has cholesterol-lowering benefits which are enhanced when it is steamed. Add cabbage to your winter vegetable list along with butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Green Food

Friday, March 10, 2017

Grow Your Brain

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be amazingly beneficial for our mind, spirit and body in many different ways. A recent study shows that meditation can even change the size of your brain!

Researchers have shown that mindfulness meditation practice leads to structural changes in a region of the brain related to experiencing stress. We know that meditation can provide cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. Changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and show that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.

A study at Massachusetts General Hospital included sixteen adults in an 8-week program. All underwent MRI imaging of the brain before the study and spent an average of 27 minutes a day practicing mindfulness exercises. They did some gentle yoga as a group, learned about stress & its consequences and were taught mindfulness skills.

Data analysis showed increased concentrations of gray matter in the brain in the left hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporoparietal junction and the cerebellum of those who had practiced meditation. Study authors noted that the affected regions of the brain are involved in learning and memory, emotional regulation, self-referential processing and perspective-taking.

Include mindfulness work in your workout week. Try yoga, breathing exercises or meditation. Your brain will actually get bigger! A healthy body and a healthy spirit can lead to wholeness and peace.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food