Monthly Archives: July 2014
Eating a variety of fresh foods is a great way to ensure your body is getting well-rounded nutrition. What better food than vegetables to deliver many of these much needed nutrients? But wait, aren’t vegetables boring, tasteless, and unsatisfying? If your vegetable preparation relies on the microwave, it’s time to expand your options to get more out of these powerhouse foods.
Use your blender. Smoothies are a great way to make a quick breakfast or snack. A fruit and vege smoothie tastes great and is even better for you. If you’re new to smoothies, add the following to you blender: 2 cups fresh spinach, ½ banana, ¾ cup frozen mixed berries, ¼ cup sunflower or flax seeds, and 1-2 cups of water or coconut water. This nutrient dense shake packs more punch than any breakfast bar or cereal. Enjoy the smoothie by itself as a snack or have it with a side of eggs or lean meat for a well rounded breakfast.
Include a vegetable in at least one of your daily snacks. Cherry tomatoes, snow peas, baby carrots, celery, and peppers are great grab-and-go snacks that add nutrients without adding extra calories. Pair them up with some hummus, Greek yogurt, or almond butter to add more flavor.
Have a side salad with your lunch. Rather than having a typical appetizer or bread before lunch, have a fresh salad with a variety of vegetables as a healthy alternative. Cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, onions, arugula, spinach, and romaine taste great in a fresh salad. Choose a healthy dressing such as a balsamic vinaigrette or just add olive oil and spices.
Double up your vegetables for dinner rather than having a starch such as rice or potatoes. Two servings of veges along with a quality protein source is a well-balanced meal that doesn’t load you down with calories at the end of the day when you’re least active. When choosing your two vegetables, pick two different colors – such as broccoli and parsnips. The more color variety, the better.
Learn how to cook and be creative. It’s amazing how many great dishes include vegetables, you just have to take the time and learn the skills to create healthy options. Foods such as meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, and casseroles can have grated zucchini, chopped spinach, or diced peppers baked right into them. Baking and grilling vegetables can really bring out the natural flavors and make for a great meal. For example, asparagus and chopped peppers grilled on a cedar plank with a bit of coconut oil and spices will really wake up your taste buds. Pair with a grilled salmon filet and you have a meal that will truly satisfy.
So start adding more vegetables to your diet and move one step closer to taking control of your health.
Try this tropical smoothie recipe for a taste of summer.
2 cups kale, fresh
2 cups water
2 cups pineapple
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Blend well and enjoy.
Any exercise is better than no exercise, but if you’re taking the time to work out, make sure you’re choosing exercises that will truly improve your health and fitness.
The following exercises are too commonly performed in hopes of measurable results but often lead to injuries or disappointment.
The crunch with hands behind the head. The crunch is a staple exercise in many people’s abdominal routine, but there are just so many better options out there. Lying on the floor and pulling the head forward while rounding the torso a few degrees may create quite a muscle burn if done long enough, but it does not strengthen the core as many may think. Crunches performed incorrectly can actually strain the neck and accentuate poor posture, which is all too common in today’s population.
Instead of the crunch, try any version of the plank. The superman plank is a great exercise as it strengthens many layers of the abdominal wall along with the stabilizing muscles of the back and hips while helping to improve posture. Set up in a plank and slowly reach one arm forward until it is fully outstretched. The goal is to elongate your body without shifting your center of gravity. Return to the starting point and then alternate with the other arm. Perform for at least 30 seconds and increase time as your strength improves.
Lying or seated chest press machine. This is the machine where you lie on your back and push a weight away from your chest. This is great if you want to add size to your chest, but lying on your back and moving a weight doesn’t involve much functionality. There are many more practical toning exercises out there for the typical person trying to tone up, lose weight, and get healthy. Using a fixed machine can actually limit your body’s natural range of motion and lead to tight joints and muscle imbalances.
Rather than performing a chest press on a machine, try any version of the pushup. With a pushup, you are moving your body through space and requiring more total body recruitment. To perform a quality pushup, you must engage your core and stabilizing muscles – you’re in charge of how your body moves rather than the machine allowing you to move a certain way. If a traditional pushup is too difficult for you to perform, elevate the surface you are pushing from or try a pushup from your knees. If a traditional pushup is too easy, there are numerous options for progression.
Seated hip adduction/abduction machine. This is the machine you sit on with knees bent 90 degrees and either push your knees outward against resistance or pull them inward against resistance. This machine can target specific muscles of the hip, but it’s awkward at best. Trying to tone these areas won’t necessarily tighten and shrink the hips as many may think. These machines often lead to tight hips and imbalanced muscles.
Ditch these hip machines and try a lateral lunge instead. This lateral movement will work the muscles of the hips and upper leg while improving balance and range of motion. Stand with feet wider than shoulder width apart and toes turned slightly outward. Shift your weight sideways as you bend one leg and lunge down. The opposite leg should remain straight. As you near the bottom, make sure your heal stays planted on the floor and push your hips back. Return to your starting point and repeat on the other side.
So, encourage proper movement and overall results by avoiding exercises that are likely to hold you back.