Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 10/26/14

Let the Body Rest, for the Sake of the Brain–  This article does not present anything ground breaking per say, but I think is a good reminder on why sleep is so important. “Getting less than five hours of sleep a night makes people dumber and less able to concentrate, and it can make people more susceptible to false memories, according to a new study published in the September issue of Psychological Science.”

Milk Choice May Affect Vitamin D– This is a quick read, short and sweet.  “Researchers found that children who drank only milk from sources other than cows were almost three times as likely as those who drank only cow’s milk to have vitamin D levels below 20 nanograms per milliliter, a level generally accepted as normal for children.”

The Dangers of Eating Late At Night– I for one do it, I eat right before bed. I try to avoid it however life gets busy and you just end up eating late or needing a little something before bed. This article lists some good reasons on why people should move up their eating times and why it is important to not eat at least 3 hours before bed time. “Many of my patients find that eating earlier alleviates their allergies,sinusitis, asthma, sleep apnea and diabetes symptoms.”

 Is Exercise Bad for Your Teeth?– “Over all, the more hours that an athlete spent working out, the more likely he or she was to have cavities. The researchers found no correlation, however, between consuming sports drinks or any other elements of the athletes’ diets and their oral health.”

Over 35? You’re Screwed – I really liked this guy’s point of view towards fitness and how he talks about the way younger vs older athletes approach it. My favorite quote in the article was  “The body is a collection of systems – skeletal, muscular, circulatory, digestive, etc. — none of which operate in isolation from the other. In short, you can’t redline it in some areas and expect the others not to be affected. In our case that means doing stuff that supports recovery from heavy training. Get to bed earlier. Practice good sleep hygiene. Meditate. Practice gratitude. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy good food. Enjoy some bad food. Stop stressing about bullshit. Maintain good cardio function.”

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Photo from Huff Post

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TRX- Not Just For The Boys

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Three years ago when I first started dating my main squeeze, we used to spend a lot of time walking the streets of Russian Hill where he lived at the time.  I had always lived in Potrero Hill, which I loved for its amazing views, sunny disposition, and all while having a small neighborhood feel in a big city. However getting to know Russian Hill was like getting to know the heart of the city. There was constant hustle and bustle, bars and restaurants galore, and young people as far as the eyes could see. We would walk everywhere on the weekend, just getting to know each other all while exploring what the neighborhood had to offer. For me it was not only a chance to get to know this new amazing guy, but also learn a part of the city I never even knew existed. One place we would pass by consistently on our walks was the TRX Training Center. I would walk by and stare in the window amazed at what these strong and fit athletes were doing. I remember thinking to myself how intimidating it looked and how I would never be so intense to try such a thing. Well I was wrong…..

I have done TRX a handful of times over the last year, but not enough to feel 100% comfortable in the workout yet. When looking at places to try with my Class Pass account I stumbled upon the TRX Training Center and thought what a better time then now. So I signed up for this last Sunday’S class at 9:30 am.

Upon waking up in the morning to go I felt nervous and excited. I went on a quick 3 mile run to get my body loosened up before heading into class. Once in there I was impressed by the lay out. It was a large, bright, space, which just felt legitimate. The instructor was great, he pulled all of the new people together to give them a quick run down of the studio and the workout ahead. After he finished explaining everything a 60 minute timer mounted on the wall was set to start timing down and the fun began.

The class started with 2 minutes of jumping rope and then moved into more boot camp drills like mountain climbers, high knees, and butt kicks. From here we moved onto a TRX circut where we used the machine along with other various tools around the studio and we would alternate between stations. After every 10 minutes or so we would stop the circut to do more jump roping. I had no idea how hard jumping rope was! This format continued like this through the rest of the hour and by the end of it I felt pretty good! The only thing I didn’t like about the class was you are so busy trying to figure out what you are going to be doing next that it made it hard to really focus in on what you are doing.

Overall I liked the workout and the studio. I would not say this is one I am dying to go to every week, but will be nice to through into the mix every so often.  At the end of the day though I am proud of myself for trying something I thought I never would do. It is nice to push yourself sometimes.

Ride Oakland- Spinning in the East Bay

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Friday night I had the pleasure of being able to spend the night in Oakland at one of my close girlfriend’s new house for a girls night. We made homemade pizza, drank wine, watched classic Halloween movies like The Craft and Hocus Pocus, all while wearing witches hats. Which as you can imagine made for a fabulous night! You can never be too old for slumber parties in my book. Something about reliving nights from your youth just makes you feel rejuvenated. Just to be able to leave behind the stress of adult like and reenact adolescence. Knowing that I had this amazing night ahead of me and since I was going to be staying the night in Oakland I decided had to try a new studio in the East Bay.

Of course with working out in a new area I had to start my research process early. Fist I looked on yelp to find a place close to my girlfriends place and found Ride Oakland, a spinning studio only a few minutes away. Perfect! Next I checked my Class Pass site, yep it was one of the studios featured. Yes! Then it was about selecting the times. To my despair the 8:30 am class was all booked and only the 7:00 am or 10:00 am were open, both not ideal times. I looked at the studio website and saw you could try your first class for free there. I gave the studio a call hoping I could get on the wait-list. Sure enough I was able to and got a confirmed spot later in the day.

Saturday morning with a slight headache and only 5 1/2 hours of sleep I got up, threw on my gear, and made my way over to the studio. Parking was super easy, something I am no longer accustomed to in my new neighborhood.  It felt like a luxury to not have to drive around the block several times before finding a space. Walking into the studio I could immediately picked up on the neighborhood vibe, however the studio also felt new, modern, and up to par with some of the nice mainstream studios in the city.

The crowd was slightly older then what I am used to in the city, however Helen the instructor had great energy and definitely kept us all on our game for the full hour. The music was great and the class utilized weights, which I am a big fan of in spinning classes. It creates an extra added benefit. By the end of the ride I was sweaty and quite pleased with my overall workout. Also my headache was gone! I would highly recommend this studio out to others. I don’t know if I would ever make my way to the East Bay just for this studio, but if I happen to be over in the East Bay I would go again!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 10/19/14

This May Prevent Some Damage With Weight Gain– This study focused on a group of people who were asked to eat 4 additional muffins a day so researchers could gauge the effect of polyunsaturated fat vs saturated fats. It is interesting to see the findings and also to see what an additional 4 muffins a day can do. “This small study highlights what we already know about saturated fats, and how quickly a relatively small amount of saturated fat can cause health disturbances.”

Should Your Workout Kick Your Ass– I really liked this article. The author emphasizes the importance of nutrition along with exercise to really see results. I for one can back this up from personal experience. I worked out everyday for 5 months with no results, mainly because I was not focusing on what I was eating as well. It is important to look at both variables. “The take-home is that exercise isn’t nearly as important as diet for pure fat loss, so no matter how hard you work, you won’t see results until you’re eating smarter. (However, exercise is still an important part of the equation.)”

The Dangers of Thinning Bone as Men Ag– “In fact, 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 years will sustain a fracture due to osteoporosis in their lifetime.” This is in contrast to 1 in 3 women over 50 who will have  an osteoporosis-related fracture.”

Whats Your Fitness Age– This article just makes sense. Also the test is fun. I am proud to say I have the fitness age of a teenager. What is yours? “A new study of fitness and lifespan suggests that a person’s so-called fitness age – determined primarily by a measure of cardiovascular endurance – is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age.”

The Exercise Cost of Soda vs Juice– I really like this idea. When I was learning about calories having something tangable to measure against helped me. So for every mile I ran was one more additional glass of wine. “In the study, researchers posted signs next to the soda and juice in Baltimore corner stores that read: “Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running?” or “Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about five miles of walking?” (And, long as those distances and times may seem, they may even underestimate the magnitude of the metabolic insult of liquid sugar.) The signs were a proxy for an actual food label, but they made the point. They effectively led to fewer juice and soda purchases, and to purchases of smaller sizes (12-ounce cans instead of 20-ounce bottles).”

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Photo From Huff Post

A New Love, Perhaps an Obsession….

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Yes it is true, I have a new love, well maybe more of an obsession. I might even go as far as to say it could become an addiction. What is it? Well my first hint is it deals specifically with group fitness classes, however before I reveal  I am going to be honest here. There was a small part of me that was debating on whether to share this new amazing site out with everyone. I felt this small inclination of protectiveness with what I had just recently found and a small part of me that wanted to be selfish, to keep it all to myself. I felt like I had this special secret no one else had, I wanted to protect it.  After some quick internal debate however I decided this is something too good to not share with my fellow health and fitness enthusiasts. Plus anything that will help others to be more active needs to be shared.

So again what is it? Well it is a website called Class Pass which for $100 a month you can go to a huge variety of different fitness studios in your area and try all sorts of various types of workout classes. As the website says “ClassPass is an alternative to a gym membership. With ClassPass, you get access to the best boutique fitness classes in your city. There are over 1,000 classes available to ClassPass members, including cycling, pilates, yoga, strength training, dance, martial arts, and more.  For $99 a month, ClassPass members get unlimited classes to use at studios in the ClassPass network. While a member can take as many classes per month as they’d like, they can only visit the same studio 3 times per month.”

At dinner with a girlfriend last week she told me about the site and I of course went home, slightly tipsy, and immediately joined. My girlfriend had warned me that when you ask to join they will first do a little teaser where there is no open spots and you have to get on a “wait-list.” Once they have space they will let you know. Well then a few days later you get in. You have 48 hours to accept the invitation and join. Once you do, then you get to let the fun begin. I got my invite to join Monday morning and of course by the early afternoon I was already signed up for a yoga class to try. Had I already been to a spinning class that morning, yes. Was I going to let that stop me, no. Of course I also had my workout’s planned and already booked for most of the week, but how could I pass up going to more classes for free? What is a girl to do. Well this girl ended up doing a little bit of double dipping, one class in the morning and one at night. I made sure to focus my night classes on more stretching and less vigorous activity. It needed to compliment what I was doing in the morning, not add on a lot more working out, otherwise that would not be sustainable.

So far I love the concept although I will be honest their website has a few little flaws. The one I find the most annoying is it is not mobile optimized, so you cant actually book anything from your phone since they have a pop up you have to click to confirm and on your phone the screen is too small and the pop up does not shrink down. It is the E-commerce side in me coming out.  I also ran into a little issue with canceling one class to re-book another and had to e-mail the customer service. They got back to me the next morning, which was great. However I then ended up not being able to sign up for the class I wanted as it was full. I ended up actually calling that studio directly since you can try your first class for free with them anyways and got added in that way.

Now my plan is to report out on all of the different studios I try out and give the scoop on the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not going to lie, it is a little intimidating the idea of trying so many new places and different types of workouts. But I am all about pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. This morning it was spinning in Oakland and tomorrow it is TRX in the city. Stay tuned!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 10/12/14

Dating While Formerly Obese– This article hit home to me. I had done online dating for years, but after losing 80 lbs it was very different. I remember going out on dates and still having to watch what I was eating and how much a drank in order to fit within my calorie budget for the week. I remember being so afraid to tell anyone about the “old” me in fear of some sort of rejection. Before one date with a guy who was coming over to my house for dinner I remember frantically going to Walgreen’s to print new pictures of myself with friends to put into frames so I could hide who I used to be. The question is do people really care? “She found that potential suitors said they would hesitate to form a romantic relationship with someone who used to be heavy.”

Chain Restaurants Cutting Calories– Finally restaurants are starting to get it! Little differences can lead to big changes. “New research shows that newer menu selections at many large chain restaurants in the United States now average 12 percent fewer calories than traditional dishes.”

The real reason you binge eat–  I have talked before about my struggle with binge eating, so of course seeing this article I had to read it. Whether it is true or not, I find it comforting that it may all be in our control. “What’s beyond doubt is that humans have a sweet tooth, but it’s the pleasure of eating, not the neurochemical activity of sugar, that drives this”

You May Change Bad Fat to Good After Cold Exposure– With the weather starting to turn across the US I thought this article seemed fitting. “Cold temperatures may prompt unhealthy white fat in the thighs and belly to turn into brown fat that burns calories for body heat, a new study says.”

 The Massive Fitness Trend That’s Not Actually Healthy At All– I typically try not to post opinion articles, but I really liked this one. I think he talks about a topic that is very prevalent in our society and for myself this was very relateable. I like the question/challenge he poses at the end.  “Any serious athlete knows that rest, recovery, and periodization (smartly modifying intensity based on goals, performance, and ability) are absolutely crucial to optimal performance (aka kicking ass). There is a massive trend in the fitness industry to glorify exercise as an all-out war on the body. I call it the militarization of fitness—all the boot camps, Marine-inspired workouts, ridiculously intense body building routines, and general glorification of pain.”

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Photo from Huff Post

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew Recipe

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Let me put it out there, I read a lot of magazines. Something about opening up your mailbox, seeing the cover photo of your favorite guilty pleasure, new and staring back at you,  just  makes you feel like a special present has just been sent soley to brighten up your day. I always felt like I officially was an adult with my own place when I started to subscribe to every magazine I had ever wanted.  One of these magazines was one of my all time favorites from  Martha Stewart’s publications called Whole Living.

This magazine always seemed to capture what I loved about so many of my separate reads into one beautiful master monthly publication for my liking. It had the comforting home segment like Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living, but mixed in with the healthy living and fitness aspect like Fitness and Women’s Health. I found out of my 8 subscriptions this was the one magazine I held onto way too often as there was always just too much goodness in it to throw out.  Alas what happened to my beloved, well it was discontinued in 2013 and I found my magazine subscription life had to move on without it.

I still have a few of the best issues tucked away in my wicker magazine basket and the other day when the weather starting to turn a little cold I knew exactly what recipe I wanted to make and where to grab it.  The recipe was part of a 3 week detox plan in the 2013 January edition. I attempted to try the whole detox and made it through the first week before jet setting off to New York for a week of work and fun with friends. Obviously once the plane hit the ground the detox was off, but I found I came back for weeks after trying all of the various recipes upon returning home.

One of my favorite was the Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew. This dish is filling, healthy, flavorful, and hits the spot on a chilly night. It says it makes 4 servings, but really I found it to make about 6. The other night we paired it with a little brown rice, which added a little more girth to it. It is really easy to make, quick to cook, and only gets better after a day or two. My only complaint, it is not very photogenic. So I apologize for not having a great glamour shot of this one. However I included the link to the recipe at Whole Living so you can see a more mouthwatering rendition.  I hope you enjoy!

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Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

Whole Living, January/February January/February 2013

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp coconut or extra-virgin olive oil (I just used cooking spray to save a few calories and it worked well)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 diced large onion
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 minced cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 1 diced (stemmed, seeded) red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups rinsed red lentils
  • 6 cups vegetable broth

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook cumin, turmeric and curry powder until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion with a few pinches salt, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and bell pepper and cook 1 minute.
  2. Add lentils and Broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 10/5/14

Food Color Trumps Flavor– Had anyone else heard about the new black burger at Burger King in Japan? This story starts with an introduction to this product, which I find very intriguing. It pulls you into the article and makes you want to know more.  “Researchers have known for some time how powerful color is in influencing our perceptions and desires for food. Studies have shown, for example, that when it comes to our experience of food, color is more important than product labeling and even taste.”

How Exercise May Protect Against Depression– This article is a little technical and focuses on research done on mice in regards to depression and exercise. Essentially the research found that exercise does help curb symptoms of depression.  So moral of the story if you start to feel stressed exercise will be your best way to combat depression symptoms.

 Sense of Humor Changes with Age– It is interesting because even now at 31 I see my humor has changed slightly from where it was a decade ago. How does our sense of humor change? “What the authors found was that older adults were much less likely to be fans of the aggressive style of humor—laughing at the expense of others. Young adults were also more likely to smirk at the clips that showed self-deprecating humor, while The older participants, meanwhile, liked affiliative humor—the kind of jokes that bring people together through a funny or awkward situation.”

How to Manage Sore Muscles and Joint Pain– I for one have frequent sore muscles as I tend to switch up what I do for exercise or push my intensity limits. I find even taking more than one week off from strength training will cause my muscles to get worked when I start back up again. I am a big believer that you can work through sore muscles as long as you are doing a different exercise then what caused the soreness in the beginning. So after a barre class that leaves my legs a little shaky, the next day usually a run will make me feel better. This article is quick and walks you through what causes muscle soreness and how you can help it.

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Photo from Huff Post

A Weekend of Food in Pictures

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What does someone do after they have spent all week on a rotation diet, well I can answer that. You go and enjoy food and drinks all weekend. Which is exactly what I did!

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The weekend started at a restaurant called Bar Crudo in my new neighborhood, which has an amazing happy hour.  Also can I say happy hour is genius in my opinion. You get a deal just for starting your night off early, why would someone not want to participate. I have also found now living in an area closer to a college campus that happy hour is very prominent at most of the neighborhood establishments.

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Bar Crudo is a great seafood spot, but can be a little pricey. This is why the happy hour specials are so killer. They have $1 Oysters, $1 mussels, $10 for 2 fish tacos, and $6 for a healthy pour of wine. The food and wine was all delicious and I recommend to anyone to check out this hidden gem.

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The following day after one of the hardest spinning classes I have ever been to and then a hike with some girlfriends, it was decided brunch was needed.  We made our way to a neighborhood spot called Sparrow Bar and Kitchen. I have been here only once before and found their food to be a little hit or miss. However the atmosphere is quite nice. They have a huge outdoor back patio where we enjoyed our breakfast in the rare San Francisco sun. I ordered the smoked salmon quiche with maple crème fraîche.  It was yummy, just the right amount of food, and was accompanied by a small green salad. Pair this with a cup of coffee and it totally hit the spot!

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After brunch Dustin and I went to see the musical Pippin, AMAZING! If you have the chance to see it you should. Afterwards we had to go to one of our favorite brewery restaurants in the city Mikkeller Bar. Of course when you go here you have to order a bratwurst. I ordered the muffuletta bratwurst and replaced the french fries with a salad. I paired it with a Dubbel beer, which made me a little buzzed afterwards. All in all it was a great weekend of food! Of course this week I have been back on track making all my meals for the week. However I am getting ready to enjoy the weekend again!