Friday, January 26, 2018

Six Surprising Benefits of Strength Training #1

When we think about the positive benefits of strength training, we usually focus on what we see: build muscle, burn fat, improve posture, and strengthen bones. But recent research has shown there are system-wide benefits for your body and mind, inside and out. This week and next, I will share six surprising benefits of strength training.

1. Strength training keeps you healthy.

Strong muscles fend off some of the most prevalent chronic illnesses. Muscular strength provides measurable protection against heart disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Studies have shown that strong people aren't just healthier because they're leaner. They are healthier because they're stronger. Researchers believe that the more you strength train, the more oxygenated blood you push through your system. That's one of the ways your body removes waste, lowers stress and delivers nutrients to the body. It's a head-to-toe housecleaning that makes every system in your body work better.

2. Strength training helps you age well.

Muscle mass peaks at about age 25. The gradual erosion of muscle adds up so that by retirement age, most of us have substantially less muscle than we had in our youth. This muscle loss disproportionately targets fast-twitch muscle fibers. These are the ones responsible for strength and power as opposed to the smaller, slow-twitch fibers which are more enduring.

This explains why older people may still be able to walk, even after they've lost the ability to run. It's also why falls can be so debilitating for those over 70. Fast-twitch fibers help you catch yourself when you fall, so you might bruise but not break. Any exercise is good but strength training, especially, helps people avoid falls and fractures, and stay vigorous in general, as they age.

3. Strength training balances your hormones.

Several factors influence the delicate balance of our hormones: aging, stress, nutrition, body composition, and insulin resistance, to name just a few. One of the most common imbalances involve testosterone and estrogen. This can result in low energy, low mood, and low sex drive among other symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) uses pills or injections to try to create balance but this treatment has been linked to serious side effects.

Weight training creates hormonal changes that help both men and women burn fat while maintaining or gaining muscle. Strength training stimulates the release of HGH, which aids in building muscle and burning fat. It has been shown to stimulate production of testosterone and estrogen and help re-balance them for both men and women. Weightlifting can bring balance without drugs, even independent of lifestyle and nutritional changes. The hormonal effects can produce the changes and the look of a healthy, fit physique.

Check back next week for three more reasons to add strength training to your workout week.

Stay active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, January 19, 2018

Adios, Sad Office Lunch

Put in some time in on Sunday and you won't wind up reaching for that pre-made Caesar salad at lunchtime. Roast chickpeas, veggies and seeds; cook some quinoa, and whip together a quick dressing. With these building blocks on hand, lunch becomes a grab-and-go affair.

1. In a lidded container, lay a base of quinoa, then a mix of greens like baby kale, arugula or radicchio.

2. Layer in roasted vegetables. Try carrots, sweet potatoes, or cauliflower. Or slice fresh radishes or fennel.

3. Top with roasted chickpeas, toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and fresh herbs.

4. Pack dressing separately so the salad stays crisp.

Roasted Chickpeas
Preheat oven to 400°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss 2 cans drained chickpeas, 2 tbsp. avocado or olive oil, 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp. chili powder. Roast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 35 minutes.

Avocado Caper Dressing
In a food processor, whirl 2/3 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 avocado, 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp. drained capers, and 1/2 tsp. each salt & pepper.

Feel free to swap leftover chicken for the chickpeas. Shred and store in broth until it's time to pack lunch.

Stay Active Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, January 12, 2018

Energy For Change

As the new year arrives, lots of us make resolutions to change a habit or two. One 2015 U.K. study showed the main reason people were unable to make a change was that they were too tired to focus. Use these three simple steps to find energy for change in the new year.

1. Keep a Fatigue Diary

Once you pinpoint the time of day you feel draggy, you can make adjustments. For example, if you're tired in the afternoon, you may need to rethink what you eat for lunch or try to drink more water.

2. Make a To-Don't List

After you write out your to-do list, ask yourself which tasks really need to get done - and which are not realistic or important. The latter constitute your to-don't list. Drawing a line through them removes energy-draining clutter from your mind.

3. Pencil In Bedtime

Most of us don't think of sleeping as actively doing something, so we don't plan it. When you put it in your calendar, it becomes a priority, the same way your gym time and work meetings are priorities. Set a reminder to alert you a half hour before you plan to hit the sack.

Reboot your energy and find the focus you need 
to choose a healthy-lifestyle habit for 2018.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, January 5, 2018

Get-Smart Snacks

It's the new year and everyone is back on track with healthy eating. But sometimes we all get tired of carrot sticks. Try these fresh, healthy treats for the next time the munchies strike.

1. A soft-boiled egg with "everything" seasoning
 2, Half an avocado with sea salt and smoked paprika
 3. Coconut yogurt with fresh fruit and shaved dark chocolate
 4. Sliced cucumbers doused with rice vinegar, pepper and sesame seeds

The key is to have healthy foods ready to eat and in plain sight. 
Keep hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced veggies and fruit in the front of the frig. Put nuts, jerky and dried fruit on the middle shelf in the pantry. With nourishing foods handy, you won't wind up resorting to junky snacks.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food