Do you Deadlift?

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Deadlift_1

When it comes to getting the most value from a particular exercise, there aren’t too many movements that can beat the deadlift. This total body exercise demands strength, power, cardiovascular efficiency, and postural control. When performed correctly, the deadlift works the entire posterior chain – including the hamstrings, glutes, low, mid and upper back, as well as muscles of the quads, core, shoulders, and arms.

The deadlift is great for total body strength and conditioning as well as improving your muscular and cardiovascular endurance. A set of deadlifts may leave you more winded than a 100 yard sprint and the muscle overload and fatigue will elicit gains in strength and muscle density.

To Perform

Step up to a weighted barbell with shins nearly touching the bar and feet hip-width apart. Squat down and lean toward the bar as you keep your heels firmly planted while maintaining a natural posture through the back. Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder width and tense your body. As you lift the weight, push your feet into the floor while exhaling. Be sure to keep the bar close to the body as you lift. Maintain your posture throughout the lift, keeping tension through your shoulder blades as you rise to the top position. Control the weight back down to the floor and repeat.

Mistakes to Avoid

The most common mistake with the dead lift is not getting the hips fully involved. If you are rounding forward over the top of the bar rather than squatting down to the bar, you are compromising your low back as well as missing out on all the benefits of efficient biomechanics. A forward rounded posture further accentuates common muscle imbalances, but proper form will help to improve these imbalances and minimize your chance for injury.

How to Incorporate

Include the deadlift in your weekly workouts by treating it as a total body exercise. If you’re doing a split routine, include it as either a leg or a back exercise. By sticking with light to moderate weights and high reps you will greatly improve your muscular endurance and cardiovascular efficiency, while heavier weights will help build muscle density and overall strength. Try light to moderate weights one week and perform higher reps (10-20), then follow it up the next week with a heavier load and less reps (3-8).

Once you realize all the benefits of the deadlift, you’ll be ready to include it in your weekly workouts.

 

Nutritional Support to Boost Your Workouts

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Sports nutrition

A great workout starts with great nutrition. The positive stress from strength training builds muscle and burns fat, but, the negative stress can actually cause more harm than good if you’re not properly fueled.

Pre and Post workout nutrition are a must if you want to maximize results and improve overall health.  Pre-workout nutrition gives your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to get through the activity of the workout. Post-workout nutrition gives your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to repair and recover from the effects of the workout.

The following tips will keep you performing at your absolute best.

Don’t overlook the importance of water. If you’re dehydrated, your workout performance will suffer and you will feel exhausted. Dehydration increases your chances for headaches and head rushes, muscle cramps, nausea, and poor overall performance – not the recipe for a healthy workout. Try drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water a day. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you need 80 ounces of clean filtered water daily.

Timing of calories and nutrients before and after each workout is key. A pre-workout snack should be consumed about 30-90 minutes prior to your workout depending on the complexity of the food consumed. A meal or snack will take more time to digest than a simple liquid shake. A post-workout snack should be consumed immediately after or up to 45 minutes after the workout is completed. Your body is a sponge during this time and has already begun the recovery process – so nutrient ingestion is a must.

The types of foods consumed will affect your results.  A great option for pre and post workout nutrition is to bracket your workouts with a simple liquid shake.  Add the following ingredients to a shaker bottle: 3 oz orange juice, 3-6 oz coconut water, and 1 scoop protein powder, along with 1-2 fish oil capsules. This will ensure simple carbs for energy, electrolytes, protein for muscle repair, and healthy fats to combat inflammation. Another option could be 1-2 hard-boiled eggs and a piece of fruit. The goal is to get a balance of healthy macronutrients but not to consume so much that you feel bloated or too full.

Listen to your body. If you’re feeling weak or you find yourself shaking or you sometimes have a headache during your workouts, chances are your blood sugar is too low. Try changing the timing and types of foods you’re eating before your workouts so you feel more energetic. If your stomach feels bloated during your workouts you may have to lighten your snack or allow more time for digestion. If you feel ravenous after your workouts, ensure that you’re getting enough sustenance in your post-workout snack and that you’re consuming it as soon as your workout it completed.

So prepare yourself for a great workout and feel the difference it makes.

Spring Clean Your Diet

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Box with fruits and vegetables

With spring finally here, it’s time to give your diet a thorough cleaning. Changing the types of foods you eat can help your body rid toxins and absorb new nutrients – giving your cells and systems a much needed recharge.

The first step is getting rid of ‘dirty’ foods. This list seems to be never-ending but includes most processed foods, fast foods, sugary foods and drinks, foods containing enriched flour, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. Non-organic foods also contain chemicals that can slowly poison the body and put added stress on the liver, kidneys, and other vital organs. These foods make the body dirty by causing inflammation, digestive problems, inadequate detox, weight gain, dehydration, and lack of energy.

Once you throw out the dirty foods, you can bring in the ‘clean’ replacements. Eating more of these foods will actually aid in your body’s natural cleansing process. These clean foods include raw organic vegetables and fresh fruits, omega-3 fats, green tea, and filtered water. Organic foods provide valuable nutrients without all the unwanted chemical disruptors.

By eating more raw vegetables and fresh fruits you are increasing fiber intake and plant nutrients. Fiber will capture toxic particles in the body and improve bowel movements. Other foods like lemons, spinach, and olive oil will help to support a neutral pH balance. Maintaining a neutral pH will help minimize many problems that exist in an acidic body, such as fungus and bacterial growth, which could lead to allergies, fatigue, and even obesity.

Increasing your water intake will help flush your system of toxins and accelerate fat loss. A general recommendation is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. So a 150 pound person should aim to take in around 75 ounces. This is much easier when you eliminate or minimize other fluids such as colas and juices and make water your beverage of choice.

All these factors will help your body do its job of absorbing the good and eliminating the bad. So make the effort to improve your body’s ability to keep itself clean and healthy. You’ll see and feel the difference!

 

PUSH RECOMMENDS

REMOVE

LIMIT

INCREASE

 

Fast Foods

Sugary Drinks

Sugary Foods

Gluten

Processed Foods

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Added Sugars

Artificial Sweeteners

Genetically Modified Foods

 

Non-Organics

Caffeine

Alcohol

 

 

Organics

Raw Vegetables

Lemons/Limes

Grapefruit

Berries

Garlic

Olive Oil

Green Tea

Filtered Water

 

 

Improving Kids Nutrition

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Happy family preparing a healthy dinner at home.

As alarming as the obesity epidemic has become in America, children are especially vulnerable due to the poor nutritional habits of many parents as well as the abundance of affordable and convenient processed foods.

Clients often ask us, ‘What should my kids be eating?’ Fortunately, since a lot of the problems that lead to weight gain in adults also lead to the same in children, improving the diets of parents usually leads to a healthier upbringing for kids.

Here are the most common nutritional issues we find with the kids we work with and how we fix them.

Eating the same foods every day. As a general rule, try to give your kids as much food variety as possible. This ensures a wide array of nutrients and minimizes their chances of getting burned out on a particular food. Think of getting variety within each of the three macronutrient groups – protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Protein foods include meats, eggs, fish, and dairy. Healthy fats include nuts and natural nut butters, avocado, oils, seeds, olives, and natural cheeses. Carbohydrates include all fruits and vegetables, along with beans, potatoes, rice, cereals, and breads.

Missing out on nutritional density. Along with variety, pick foods that are the most nutritious. Nutrient-dense foods will give your kids more of the things they need and keep them satisfied longer. In general, natural foods are more nutritious than processed foods. Natural foods are minimally or totally unaltered from their original state, such as fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and nuts. Processed foods include cereals, crackers, cookies, hot dogs, and frozen dinners, just to name a few.

Eating too much sugar. Get a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates with each meal. Although a banana is healthy, it’s all carbohydrates, so pair it up with a hardboiled egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter to balance it out. This will give variety, but will also help control blood sugar levels so they don’t spike too high or drop too low – an effect of eating pure carbohydrates that is sure to make your kids feel hungry again a short time after eating.

Drinking too many empty calories. Finally, be aware of the calories your kids are drinking. Cut out soft drinks and minimize processed fruit juices. Drinks containing sugar or caffeine will again spike blood sugar levels and alter energy levels and appetite. Replace these types of drinks with filtered water, coconut water, milk, and natural juices.

Teaching kids healthy eating habits while they’re young will increase their chances of maintaining those habits well into adulthood.

Kids Nutrition Chart (2)

 

Resistance Training for Weight Loss

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DB Thruster

Although many people realize the importance of diet and exercise, few fully understand the value of resistance training and how it may be one of the most important types of exercise for long-term weight loss. Adding just 2-3 workouts per week can have a dramatic effect on your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn fat.

Don’t be one of the many who spend hours on the treadmill every week but see minimal results. Instead, implement the following workout designed for overall muscle toning and fat loss. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds using a moderate weight. Your goal is to get through all five exercises with minimal rest time – then recovering for 1-2 minutes before starting back at the first exercise. Repeat this series for a total of 3-5 rounds.

Dumbbell Thrusters – Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with feet placed shoulder width apart. Squat down slowly until upper leg is near parallel to the floor then rise up out of the squat forcefully as you press the dumbbells overhead. Repeat.

Pushup – Assume a pushup position with hands placed shoulder width and feet placed hip width. Your body should be in a straight line from shoulder to ankle, making sure to keep your abs engaged. Bend your arms and drop down to a challenging depth before pushing back up to the starting position. Note: Pushups can be performed from the knees to decrease the resistance if needed.

Plank – From a pushup position, bend your elbows to 90 degrees and rest your weight on the underside of your forearms. Focus on holding your body in a straight line from shoulder to ankle, while tightening your abs and maintaining a neutral posture. Hold for 30 seconds.

Kettle Bell Swing – Grip a kettle bell with both hands while standing with feet shoulder width apart. Drop into a partial squat while folding forward at the waist and let the kettle bell swing down and back between your legs. As soon as the kettle bell reaches its lowest point, stand up forcefully as you push your hips forward and swing the kettle bell upward to shoulder height. Drop back to the starting position by moving with the momentum and repeat.

Mt. Climber – Assume a pushup position with more of your bodyweight shifted forward onto your arms. Now, bring your right knee forward and rest your right food on the floor while the left leg is still straight. With a light hop, quickly switch your foot position. Continue switching back and forth as you focus on driving your knee forward and engaging your abs.

So make resistance training an integral part of your workouts and start seeing results.

2016 New Year’s Resolution

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Woman Thinking

As 2015 comes to a close, now is a great time to reflect on the past twelve months and look ahead to 2016. For many, the New Year brings new hope, new adventures, and New Year’s resolutions. If your resolution has anything to do with losing weight or improving your health, keep reading.

Setting a New Year’s resolution isn’t necessarily the challenge, but implementing it can be. Following through to the end can sometimes be harder than expected and lead to failure. The following tips will help you put together a resolution that will have you moving in the right direction in 2016.

Set Realistic Goals. ‘I want it all and I want it now’ is not a practical theme for long-term weight loss success. Pick a resolution that’s challenging and requires focus, but not one that burns you out in the first month. If you have a weight loss goal of 30 lbs for example, break it up into three manageable goals of 10 lbs. Give yourself adequate time, and set secondary goals along the way to you keep you consistently moving forward.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Pick out your three strongest qualities and incorporate these into your game plan. For example, if you’re well organized, use that to your advantage by mapping out a schedule to keep you on track. On the other hand, do your best to avoid known weaknesses. If you have no self-control around sweets, keep them out of sight. Breaking a bad habit is tough, even when you’re fully committed. So, give yourself a better chance by knowing what to use and what to lose.

Have a Support System. Your New Year’s Resolution starts with you, but it can be supported by friends and family. If you show how important your resolution is to those around you, they will support you and motivate you along the way. Also, by making your intentions clear to others, you will feel a sense of accountability around these people. Another great option is teaming up with a friend or family member who has a similar resolution. This team effort can add much needed motivation and accountability.

Don’t Give Up. So it’s been two months and you’re not quite where you expected to be. That’s okay! As long as you’re making progress and you’re staying motivated, things will happen. If it wasn’t challenging, it wouldn’t be as rewarding in the end. This resolution holds personal importance to you, but you may have to remind yourself of why you’re doing it from time to time.

Reward Yourself Without Sabotage. As you create your resolution, incorporate some rewards into your plan ahead of time. If you hit your secondary goals, for example, go out to dinner at your favorite restaurant for a ‘cheat meal.’ This positive reinforcement only adds to the feeling of accomplishment and can give you a break from your diet. But, remember not to sabotage your overall progress by going overboard with too many rewards.

With the right tools, you can be on your way to crushing your 2016 New Year’s Resolution. Find the motivation and get the results!

How to Finish Strong in 2015

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Helping-Hand-Small

As the weather turns colder, you may feel your energy levels dropping with the temperature. This causes many people to abandon their workout routines until New Year’s Resolutions come around in January. Don’t be one to let things slip at the end of the year. Practice the following tips to keep your health on track through the remainder of 2015.

Set a new goal. The ‘lose 10 lbs to look good in my swimsuit this summer’ goal is now expired, so it’s time to get creative again. Maybe you’d like to run a 5K with a co-worker or you’ve always wanted to try kickboxing. Now is a great time to set a goal that forces you to try something different – something that challenges you mentally as well as physically. Forget about the pressure of trying to reach a certain weight or pant size and instead, take up a new activity.

Re-evaluate your diet. Just as fresh food options change with the seasons, your diet should never be the same year round. Getting tired of the same old foods day after day? Now is a great time to introduce some new foods into your diet. Get creative and find ways to make the meals of the holiday season fun and healthy.

Keep a journal. Numerous studies show that keeping a food or exercise journal supports positive changes. Sometimes we don’t realize what we eat until we write it down or we’re just too embarrassed to write down some of the things we do eat. As far as exercise, how can you progress if you can’t remember your workouts from last week? Keeping track of all this keeps you moving in the right direction.

Get a friend involved. It feels great to inspire someone to lead a healthier lifestyle, but the unexpected outcome is that while you’re inspiring others, they are inspiring you as well. Support and accountability from those closest to you is a great way to build your relationship while keeping each other on track. Getting a friend involved in that 5K or new exercise routine will be helping you as much as it helps them.

Have fun with it. If exercise seems like a chore, it won’t take long for you to make excuses on why you don’t have time for it. If you hate doing traditional cardio on the treadmill, get into a sports league or join a martial arts class. Exercise should be an enjoyable part of our lives, not something we feel like we have to do. Active people understand that exercise is just part of their lifestyle and they make it as enjoyable as possible.

So while others are making excuses on why they can’t exercise as the year winds down, don’t lose sight of how important a consistent routine is for your body and mind.

Tips For Healthy Travel

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traveling-woman

We hear it all the time – My traveling work schedule is destroying my diet. How can I eat healthy when I’m on the road?

Being out of your element can definitely hinder your attempts at eating healthy. But, with a sensible game plan, you’ll find that you can do a pretty good job of eating healthy even when you’re away from home for days or even weeks at a time.

Try the following tips to stay on track on your next trip.

Do your homework. Once you know where you’ll be traveling, go online and check out restaurants and grocery stores in that area. Many restaurants have healthy options if you know what to look for. Ask your waiter how your food is prepared and request modifications if necessary. Stay away from sauces, breading, and heavy dressings. A chicken thigh and a side of vegetables with water or iced tea is obviously a better choice than a combo meal at the fast food drive thru. Many grocery stores also have a salad bar or hot bar for grab and go lunch and dinner options.

Be prepared. If you want to eat healthy you must have food options available so you don’t skip meals. Poor planning and skipped meals during the day will increase your chances of eating too much or the wrong kinds of foods at night. Once you get settled into your hotel, do some grocery shopping and pick up some breakfast and snack options. Oatmeal, nuts, fruit, and protein powders require no refrigeration and can be taken along in your bag or purse. If you have a small fridge in your hotel room, you can pick up some Greek yogurt or sliced deli meat to have around for breakfast or snacking. You could even pack a cooler and take options like this or a salad with you during the day if you know you’ll only have a small window for lunch. If you just go through your day without a food plan, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Hydrate. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Staying hydrated will keep you performing at your best and will make you less likely to reach for a coffee in the middle of the afternoon or a cola as you walk by the vending machine. Drinking a bottle of water and having a balanced snack will help control your blood sugar and allow you to make rational food choices throughout the day.

Avoid temptations. Many traveling clients find options like bagels, doughnuts, and other pastries available when they walk into their early morning meetings or someone may have ordered pizza for a lunch meeting. If you go into these situations on an empty stomach, it’s hard to resist these unhealthy foods, especially when everyone else is eating right in front of you. If you stick to your plan and eat healthy foods every 2-3 hours, you’ll be less affected by these unhealthy temptations.

Don’t skip the workouts while traveling. Studies show that people who exercise consistently also eat healthier. An early morning workout puts you in the right frame of mind which will keep you focused throughout the day on what’s best for your body. If your hotel doesn’t have an exercise room, get outside for a 30 minute walk or jog. A healthy body craves healthy foods.

So don’t let traveling sabotage your diet. Plan accordingly and have a great trip.

Avoid That Afternoon Slump

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Tired young businessman in office

Have you ever felt like taking a nap mid-afternoon? Maybe you lose focus and can’t seem to concentrate on your job or task at hand. If you find yourself in a daze or just feeling lazy during those afternoon hours, your body and mind need a reset.

When you feel that afternoon slump coming on or want to avoid it altogether, give the following tips a try.

Get outside. If you work indoors, just getting out in the fresh air can awaken your senses. Studies show that getting closer to nature has a positive impact on health. So, if you work near a park or trail, go for it. Even if you work in a highly urban area, a simple 5-10 minute walk around the block that exposes you to the elements has been shown to be more beneficial for mental health than the same walk indoors. So, if the weather permits, get outside and soak in Mother Nature.

Grab a healthy snack. One reason you might be feeling sluggish in the afternoon has to do with declining blood sugar levels. If you ate lunch around noon, by 3pm, your blood sugar may be getting low enough to affect your productivity. This would be a great time to recharge with a snack that will hold you over until dinner. A great option would be a Greek yogurt with a few blueberries and crushed walnuts or even a small salad with chicken and avocado. Whatever you choose, make sure it includes a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Breathe. Sitting in a car or slouched in an office chair can hinder deep diaphragmatic breathing. Shallow chest breathing can limit the amount of oxygen you take in and carbon dioxide you expel. To improve your breathing, try this: Stand up, place your hands on your abdomen, and take a deep breath through your nose as you feel your hands and your abdomen pushing outward. Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth for 7 breaths. You should feel an instant improvement in energy.

Stretch. While you’re standing up and breathing, you may as well go ahead and stretch. Extend your arms toward the ceiling and reach your fingertips as high as you can. Continue reaching upwards for ten seconds and slightly tilt to either side. Next, fold your body forward and reach your fingertips towards the floor as you push your hips back until you feel a stretch along the backside of your body. These two simple stretches will improve blood flow and release tension from tight muscles, both of which will give you a refreshing boost of energy.

Laugh. It’s amazing how a sincere laugh can instantly make you feel better. Laughter releases endorphins which improve your sense of well-being and just make you feel good. Everyone’s sense of humor is different so find things to do that make you laugh. It could be a conversation with a co-worker, a quick phone call to a spouse or friend, or even watching a funny video clip. Learn to laugh more and you’ll be better off.

So get out of that slump and get back to doing what you do best.

Digestive Health

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Healthy Gut

Digestion is something we usually take for granted until it gives us issues. Cramping, upset stomach, bloating, etc. can cause quite a bit of discomfort and annoyance. Rather than taking a tablet to cover up the symptoms, listen to your body and try to prevent these issues from occurring in the first place.

The following tips will keep your digestion working efficiently and your health in check.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes numerous problems, one being impaired digestion. Drinking more water could be the simplest way to improve digestion! To maximize the water you are drinking, add a pinch of sea salt and a wedge of lemon to your water bottle. This will help pull more water into your cells and hydrate you at the cellular level.

Eat the right foods. Yes, this may seem obvious on the surface, but the perfect food for one person may be a bad choice for someone else. Some common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, and eggs. If you think you might have a food intolerance, there are many tests out there that can identify your body’s response to common foods. In addition to cutting out any disruptive foods, you’ll also want to increase your intake of fibrous foods. These include plenty of organic fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts such as apples, berries, broccoli, and walnuts. Consuming clean organic foods and staying away from chemical additives will also put less stress on your system.

Exercise and lose weight. Even if you’re not overweight, the simple act of exercise can improve and aid in digestion. A strong abdominal wall will support a healthy GI tract and contraction of those muscles can help stimulate the GI tract. If you’re carrying extra weight around your midsection, it could be causing extra pressure on your abdominal wall and causing issues that would otherwise not be present.

Supplement with probiotics. Introducing healthy bacteria into your digestive system can have a positive impact on the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut. Studies have shown a decrease in digestive related issues in those who consumed probiotic-rich foods. A decrease in healthy gut flora could happen after a round of antibiotic medication, anti-inflammatories, and acid blockers. Consider eating real yogurt, kombucha, kefir, or taking a reputable probiotic supplement.

Chew and enjoy. Digestion begins in the mouth so chewing your food properly can really help initiate healthy digestion. Too many people eat on the run – while driving or working on the computer for example. Multi-tasking is great, but when it’s time to eat, slow down and enjoy your meal. Your brain needs to relax so it can better facilitate digestion.

So take a proactive approach to improving your digestion rather than trying to cover up the symptoms once they occur.

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