Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Healthy Food You’ve Been Told to Avoid

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OliveOil

Fats have had a bad reputation for too long. It’s time to understand the importance of fat in the diet and how to make sure you’re eating the right kinds.

Why are fats so important? First off, fats are an essential nutrient for the metabolic processes of our bodies, such as our ability to absorb nutrients and metabolize energy. Healthy fats support brain, skin, and joint health as well. Including fat with your meals will help you stay satiated longer by helping to control abrupt changes in blood sugar levels which is key for long-term health and weight loss.

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating medium chain triglycerides, such as coconut oil, before your workout will increase fat oxidation during the workout. This means that consuming healthy fats will actually help you burn more body fat as a fuel source, therefore improving your overall body composition.

So what are some healthy fats? Fats found in natural foods are always healthier than processed fats. Eat plenty of natural fats from avocado, coconut oil, nuts, olives and olive oil, fish and fish oil, as well as grass-fed organic dairy products.

If you’re currently on a low-fat diet, chances are you’re eating too many carbohydrates and setting yourself up for failure rather than long-term success. Increase your good fats and you’ll soon see and feel the difference.

Short Workouts Have Their Advantages Too

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How much time must you commit to exercise for it to be effective? This is obviously dependent on your goals, but a recent study found health benefit in as little as 5 minutes a day. Now, I’m not suggesting you cut all your workouts down to 5 minutes, but if you constantly talk yourself out of exercise because you’re short on time, it seems anything is better than nothing.

Our workouts at Push Fitness are 45 minutes, but much of the exercise homework we prescribe to our clients is typically 30 minutes or less. The following is a sample workout we’ve prescribed that should only take you 15-20 minutes and uses minimal equipment for increased proficiency.

Warm-up. Begin your workout with a 5 minute warm-up protocol. This could be anything from walking to jumping rope. Steadily increase your heart rate for the first 3 minutes and then stabilize or bring it back down slightly for the final 2.

The following 4 exercises should be completed circuit style – perform all 4 in a row and then repeat for 3 total rounds. For the first round you’ll perform each exercise for 20 seconds, the second round for 30 seconds, and the third round for 40 seconds. Rest when needed but push yourself to keep moving.

Squat to Dumbbell Press. Hold of a set of dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing together. With feet shoulder width apart, squat down to a comfortable depth while making sure your heels stay planted on the floor. Stand up, exhale, and press the dumbbells overhead. As your arms near extension, pull your shoulder blades back and together to stabilize at the top. Bring the dumbbells back down to shoulder height and drop back into your squat position. Repeat for the appropriate time.

Squat_to_press

Plank Hold. Assume a plank positon with elbows bent 90 degrees and positioned directly under your shoulders. You are looking to maintain a straight line from your ears, through your shoulders and hips to your ankles. Maintain a slight natural curve in the low back and keep your knees unlocked. Tense your abdominals inward towards your spine and continue to breathe as you hold the position for the desired time. If this basic plank is too easy, raise one leg or extend one arm out in front of you.

Lunge with Arms Overhead. Grab a set of dumbbells and press them overhead and lock out your arms. Step back into a staggered stance but keep about 60% of your weight on the front leg. Bend both knees equally as you inhale and let your hips drop straight down, pausing when you have a 90 degree bend at each knee. Tighten your legs and hips as you exhale and step back to your starting position. Repeat on the other leg and continue alternating legs for the desired time.

Overhead_Lunge

Pushup. Assume a pushup position with hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Tighten your core, and make sure you have a straight line from shoulder to ankle. As you inhale, slowly bend your elbows and let your body drop down until you have a 90 degree bend at each elbow. Exhale as you push back to your starting point. Repeat for the appropriate time. You can make the pushup easier by elevating yourself on a bench or pushing off from your knees rather than your toes.

After your third round, recover for a minute and then perform at least two minutes of cool-down stretching. The following 3 stretches will target tight areas of the hips, legs, back, and shoulders.

Back Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Lying Hamstring Stretch

So if your schedule is tight and you’re short on time, even 15-20 minutes of exercise is time well spent.

 

 

5 Foods You Should Never Eat Again

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White_Bread

 

1)      White Bread. From a nutritional standpoint, white bread is nothing more than a filler. Bleached, enriched, and highly processed, there isn’t much left but a simple carbohydrate that’s ready to spike your blood sugar and cause you to store fat.

2)      Margarine. Okay, wasn’t this touted as a healthy alternative to butter? Problem is, trans fats are far worse than any natural saturated fats you might find in butter. Many processed foods use margarine as a key ingredient so beware.

3)      Artificial Sweeteners. Designing a food that tricks your body into thinking its sweet may seem like a good replacement for sugar but in reality it just makes the problem worse. These false sweeteners can still have a negative effect on blood sugar levels and cause you to crave more sweets. And on top of that, some are loaded with chemicals that may cause brain damage.

4)      Soy. Unless you’re consuming organic soy that’s in its natural state, you’re probably better off avoiding this food. Much of the soy used today is genetically modified and chemical laden. Processed soy can have negative effects on natural hormone levels and cause a myriad of problems.

5)      Low-Fat Yogurts. Many low-fat yogurts are nothing more than whipped fruit syrup and are very high in sugar. In addition, many contain filler ingredients and chemical additives. If you can’t live without yogurt, you’re better off with a natural full-fat or Greek style yogurt.

Stretch Relief

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If you’re sitting most of the day, you know how tight and fatigued your body can become. Being slouched in front of a computer or stuck behind the steering wheel for hours on end is not an ideal posture for the human body to be positioned in. Our bodies are meant to move!

In addition to consistent physical activity, the following 5 stretches will help you feel more energized while helping to alleviate muscle tightness and stress. Take 5 minutes a few times throughout the day and recharge with this stretching routine. These stretches are intended to work with your natural range of motion, so you should feel a stretch when you perform them, but never push it to the point of discomfort or pain.

Standing Shoulder Stretch. Stand upright with your arms extended out in front of you with your palms down. Reach your fingertips as far forward as you can and allow your shoulders and upper back to round a bit. Swing your arms out to your sides in a controlled manner while you squeeze your shoulder blades together. You should feel a slight stretch across the fronts of your shoulders and tension between your shoulder blades. Continue to controllably swing your arms front to back for 30 seconds as you take deep breathes.

ChestShoulder_Stretch

Hip Flexor/Abdominal Stretch. From a standing position, take a large step forward with your right leg. Allow both knees to bend slightly but keep 60% of your weight on the front leg. Slowly reach your left arm up towards the ceiling while keeping your right knee bent. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

HipFlexor_Stretch

Neck Extensor/Flexor stretch. Rotate your head 45 degrees to the side. Slowly drop your chin towards your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly tilt your chin upwards and look towards the ceiling while still keeping your head rotated 45 degrees. Hold for another 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Standing Side bend stretch. Place feet hip width apart while standing with arms extended overhead. Reach your fingertips upwards and sideways to your left while pushing your hips sideways to the right. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

SideBend_Stretch

Kicking Hamstring stretch. Stand upright with both legs straight. Kick your right leg forward and upward in a controlled manner while keeping your left foot tight to the floor as an anchor. Your right leg should act as a pendulum swinging front to back. Don’t let your kick get too high or out of control but aim for a comfortable stretch in the back of the leg every time the leg swings forward. Continue for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.

So if you find yourself in a sedentary workplace, take 5 minutes a few times every day to give your body a break from the stress associated with physical inactivity. Give it a try and you’ll feel the difference immediately.

 

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