Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 12/28/14

Is 2015 the Year We All Sequence Our Microbiomes?– So this article is not as much about how one should practice health and fitness as it is about what is new and upcoming in terms of technology for the upcoming year. Blocks of vegan cheese, a device that measures how much vitamin D you are getting daily, devices where you can swab yourself for bacteria and send in to get analyzed, to even a posture shirt. It will be interesting to see if any of these take off in the next year or if they stay as little niches.

Exercise to Lose Weight, Stay Warm– I think the statement of working out in the cold burns more calories then working out in warmer weather is one we have all heard. I of course never researched it, but figures it must be true. This study actually shows the opposite. “Over all, the volunteers felt more ravenous after working out in the cold and loaded their plates with more food than when they had been warm during their workout.But they had not burned more calories during the exercise session in the cold. In fact, the researchers’ data showed, they had expended significantly fewer calories then than when walking while warm.”

Make Your Resolutions Stick Finally– It is that time of year again for New Years resolutions. I for one am admit that they can work if you set your mind to it. For me it was NYE 2011 I  made a commitment to lose weight. I started with an achievable goal, to lose 20 lbs. Once I started and I saw how good it felt I kept going. I really like this article because it is straight forward and tells you like it is. I think it gives great advice for setting goals and sticking to them. I in fact have a new goal for the year I am just getting ready to start. Cant wait!

No Phones In Bed– “When subjects read on the iPad as compared to the paper books (hereafter referred to as “books”), the people reported feeling less sleepy at night and less alert the following morning. Of course, this is not a blinded study, the kind with a placebo—the participants could have been biased in reporting how they felt. But, empirically, they also took longer to fall asleep on the iPad nights and spent less time in the REM phase of sleep. And the blood tests showed that on average, the brain’s melatonin secretion on those nights was delayed by an hour and a half.”

Hit the Weights, not the treadmill, to reduce belly fat– “Results showed that the men who increased the amount of time they spent lifting weights by 20 minutes a day had a smaller waistline gain during the time period (-0.67 cm), compared with those who increased their aerobic exercise by 20 minutes a day (-0.33 cm) or who increased yard work or stair climbing (-0.16 cm).”

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Photo from Huff Post

 

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Things I am Liking This Week-Christmas Edition

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My favorite way to kick off the holidays is by getting my Christmas Tree. It does not feel like Christmas officially until the Christmas Tree is in hand, lights are on setting a comforting glow, and it is dressed up in it’s finest ornaments ready for the weeks ahead.  I had always had an artificial tree my entire life, until 4 Christmas’s ago when I met Dustin and he insisted we get a real one. That first holiday together we had big plans to go down to a tree park, walk around while sipping on hot cider or coco while picking out the perfect one for our first holiday together. In reality what happened was we got lazy and ended up going to Lowe’s, which has now become our yearly tradition. Usually we go for a much bigger tree, but this year the smaller one seemed to be giving us the eye. Her shape was perfect and when we both saw her we knew, this was our tree this year.

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I like all other 7 year old girls am in love with the movie Frozen. Is it because I am a big kid at heart or because I am engulfed with Toys all day for work? I am not sure, but either way this Elsa ornament was one of the best gifts I received this year. She was combined with Christmas yoga leggings and homemade champagne jam. How my dear Jaclyn knows me so well.

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This time of year my favorite treat in the morning is coffee. We have had an over abundance of rain this year and it has made weekend mornings more dreary then usual. I have found the best way to perk up the day is after a great sweat session making my way to a new place and ordering something in. I typically get my coffee to go, but there is something so comforting about drinking coffee from a giant mug.

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We all know I already have an obsession with shows. I don’t know what it is, but getting dressed up, going out for a nice dinner, followed by a show screams the holiday season for me. I have been blessed over the last couple of months to attend almost a dozen different shows. They have ranged from live music, to comedians, and to musical’s my all time favorite. However the highlight has to be going to see a Christmas Ballet with one of my closest girlfriends. I have a fascination with ballerina’s. Their thin, yet muscular bodies moving in beautiful patterns across the stage just memorizes me. So of course once you add in bright red costumes and the song “Santa Baby” I am in pure Christmas heaven.

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One of my favorite Christmas traditions is driving around looking at Christmas lights. It amazes me the time and energy people put into making their houses Christmas statements and bursting with light all for others to see and enjoy. This year now being blessed to live in a neighborhood where walking is my preferred means of transportation I found myself taking my beloved golden retriever on longer walks just to explore the lights. This was by far my favorite house I came across.

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This time of year my two favorite past times are reading and going to see movies. Both are so comforting and relaxing. Right now I am engulfed reading “Wild” with a goal to finish it before the movie leaves the theater. Why not combine my two favorite past times? Add in Cooper and this is a dream night.

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We all know I have an obsession with beer. Not just any beer though, really good beer. I love dark, creamy, sweet beers. Stouts, barley wines, porters, dubbels, browns, you name it. Every year the anticipation of coming home to Colorado always starts to build when I think about all of the new amazing beer I will get to try. New breweries are popping up constantly and last night I was able to try a new one in my hometown. Although none of their beer was on my drink again list, the place felt like Christmas just sitting by the fire.

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Christmas is about spending time with the people you love. I feel as we get older,  your family starts to grow and blend, Christmas becomes about carrying on your family traditions while also creating new ones. Today my longest and best friend Kristen started a new Christmas Eve morning tradition. A brunch of healthy, homemade, and delicious food paired with beer mimosas, and topped off with homemade cookies. I have to say this by far has been one of my favorite moments this holiday.

I wish all of you a happy and healthy Christmas!!!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 12/21/14

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Running– Now I tend to not post a lot of articles from popsugar as mainly I don’t know the validity of their pieces. However after reading this one and being a runner myself I thought the tips were actually pretty good. My biggest advice for someone who is just starting to run, especially longer distances. Buy nice running shoes! Yes it is a big investment to spend over $100 on a pair, but if you get an injury that will end up costing you way more in the long run.

Eating At Night Does Not Make You Fat– “When you have your meals does not directly influence weight gain. Don’t misunderstand that message. If skipping breakfast causes you to binge the rest of the day, then breakfast is the right option for you. Or if more food at night sends you straight to your snack panty, you want to be mindful of your late night eating. These are both behavioral triggers and dependent on your reactions to eating patterns. Just as you can be perfectly healthy and skip breakfast every day, you can also be lean, fit, and energized by having your biggest meal at night.”

What’s Tylenol Doing to Our Minds?– I for one have probably taken more then my fair share of over the counter pain medications over the years. I was raised if you have a pain just pop a pill and get rid of it. This new research is intriguing, but also a little scary considering how many people take Tylenol. and “New research this week found that Tylenol altered the way subjects passed moral judgments. The way people pass moral judgments is not necessarily indicative of their level of existential anxiety. But acetaminophen indeed appears to be affecting people’s perspectives, which further muddies our already complex relationship to the drug. ”

 The Myth of Comfort Food– The short story of this article is comfort food really does not make you feel better when compared to other foods.  “Let’s not say we’re allowed to eat something because it will make us feel better about whatever we’re suffering,” she said. “People are looking for a justification to eat something unhealthy. Just eat the ice cream! It’s not magical. But it is yummy.”

You Can’t ‘Turn Fat Into Muscle’– It is funny, having gone through a big weight loss I never paused to stop and think about where all of the fat was actually going. It looks like metabolized mainly into carbon dioxide, and some water that goes into urine. Who knew?

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Photo from Huff Post

 

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

A Lack of Bacteria Can Make You Overweight– Probiotics is becoming a new buzz word in healthy eating, just like gluten free was a couple of years ago. I for one of course am fascinated by the subject of gut bacteria and what it does to our body. I found this article to be one of the best I have read on it so far. “There has been an explosion of research into how bacteria affect human health, and body weight is one of the most intriguing areas. There is growing speculation that rising rates of obesity may be due in part to increased use of antibiotics, which may be wiping out bacteria that help humans convert food into energy efficiently. ”

Attention, Employers: Millennials Have Made Their Demands– Ok so this might not technically be a health or fitness article, but I am a big believer that everything affects your well being, especially work which is part of your day to day life. I have been to several conferences of late and the subject is the same. There is no longer the distinct separation between work and home life like there once was. With the new age of social media the line of work life seperation is becoming more and more blurred. “Millennials do not believe that productivity should be measured by the number of hours worked at the office, but by the output of the work performed. They view work as a ‘thing’ and not a ‘place.’”

Weight Gain Carries Risks, No Matter Your Weight– This is a really short article and a fast read. Essentially it boils down to this ” Study found that increases in B.M.I., even within the normal range, led to extensive adverse metabolic changes, while modest weight loss led to multiple favorable changes. ”

Should You Train When Injured– I think this article is very good at laying out how you can work through an injury and still be safe.  “If you’re doing something in your workouts that’s making your injury worse — you’re doing too much. But there’s no reason (unless you’re told by a medical professional) to let all of your hard earned progress go to waste! Training doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Sometimes we have to take some steps backward in order to continue moving forward, and finding that right balance is the key.”

Can High-Fructose Corn Syrup Make You Hungrier?– “In a series of studies we have found that when compared to glucose, the simple sugar, fructose, is a weaker suppressor of brain areas that help control appetite and the motivation to eat,”

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Photo from Huff Post

 

Nothing Pure about Pure Barre

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Over the last year I have tried a lot of various barre classes from coast to coast. What can I say, when I love something on the verge of slight obsession I try to get my fix in whenever and wherever I can. Barre is different from other workout classes though. Unlike a spinning class where even if an instructor is just ok or the music is not as motivating as you would like you can still always manage to get a great workout in. The same is not true for barre.

A barre class can range from feeling like a slight warm up where you leave feeling relaxed and stretched or it can be a full on sweat heart pounding session. If barre is going to be my primary workout for the day then I prefer the later. However after a cardio session a more mellow class can be preferred. For myself there are very few barre studios out there where the class feels like a truly hard workout. However it has happened. I can now say I have finally found my match and its name is Pure Barre.

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I have wanted to try Pure Barre for a while, but since the only two locations in the city have never been the most convenient to where I live I just never got around to doing it. A couple of month’s ago I decided it might be time to try one out. I had gone to a spinning class in the morning and after a stressful day at work I thought why not do a barre class to help me relax and unwind before heading home. I picked Pure Barre based on the time and figured it would probably be a mild workout at best so my body would not be too exhausted from what I had already done. Wow was I wrong.

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Unlike most barre classes where you focus on a set of work and then follow it by stretching the muscles you just used, Pure Barre just keeps you moving through sections one after another, after another, after another. Essentially the class is “Pure Barre.” Just when you think you are going to get a break from a hard sequence and be rewarded with a nice downward dog or leg stretch you are hit with another set. Every part of my body was shaking and quivering throughout the hour session. By the time the cool down hit I was truly worked, but in a way that brings a giant smile to your face.

I have now been to Pure Barre over a handful of times at both locations. Each time I leave happier then when I entered. Their studios are not as posh as some of the other barre studios in the city, aka Pop Physique in Russian Hill with the hard wood floors and floor length windows overlooking the lush trees in the back or The Bar Method in the Marina with the glitzy chandelier and velvet couches in the main lobby. However there is something I appreciate about a place that holds itself up on the content of what it has to offer. A truly hard, fun, and uplifting workout. Just writing this makes me want to sign up for my next fix.

 

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 12/07/14

Ask Well: Eating Fat to Boost Vitamin D and Calcium-I have recently started to see a natural medicine doctor in order to get my body back in line. Now after going to her for almost 2 months I have really learned the impact vitamins, minerals, and herbs can have on the body. This article is short, but shows an interesting study on how vitamin D is absorbed better with fat. “At the end of the day, it was clear that dietary fat made a difference for vitamin D levels. The researchers found that the subjects in the fat groups had 32 percent greater absorption of the vitamin than those in the fat-free group.” Just a good reason to add some avocado to your morning toast in my opinion.

Prescribing Vegetables, Not Pills– I love this idea. It is essentially letting families get farmers market produce with credits like food stamps. It is not only helping to decrease BMI’s across families in the program, but is also helping the farmers as they are in turn selling more produce. A win-win strategy in my mind.  “Instead of drugs or admonishments to lose weight, which typically fall on deaf ears, doctors provide families in the FVRx program with a “prescription” to eat fruits and vegetables. The families also are given nutritional education, recipes and, most important of all, so-called Health Bucks that are redeemable for produce at a local farmers’ market — at twice the amount that the families could purchase with food stamps alone.”

Can You Ever Exercise Too Much? I for one ponder this question quite often as I have a tendency to push myself a little more then most people. It looks like the verdict is still out on this one. “There may well be an upper limit of exercise for a subset of exercise junkies. The problem is, research hasn’t identified that threshold, likely because it varies for each individual.”

Too much protein in middle age ‘as bad as smoking’– “Two new studies conclude that low protein intake may hold the key to a long and healthy life, at least until old age. They also emphasize the need to examine not only calories when deciding what constitutes a healthy diet, but also where those calories come from – such as whether protein is animal or plant-based.”

The Leftovers We Toss– All I can say is WOW, I had no idea how much we wasted with food. “According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps make up 20 percent of our landfills, and each year Americans toss 35 million tons of uneaten groceries. That’s nearly enough to feed the population of California.’

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Photo from Huff Post

 

December Book Review- Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food

 

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It was a couple of years ago when  I first heard the concept of mindful eating. I was over a year into weight maintenance and was starting to think of new ways to be able to incorporate back foods I loved without binge eating them. One of my closest girlfriends has an amazing ability to listen to her body. She is thin, beautiful, and never deprives herself. If she wants French fries she has them. If she wants a kale salad, then that is what she eats. What she does better than anyone else I know is feeds her body what it craves, she stops the moment she gets full, and puts her fork down never to look at it again. She truly embodies the concept of mindful eating. It was from my admiration for the way she lives her food life that I started to see how I could incorporate it into my own life.

For those who are not familiar with the concept of mindful eating, it is pretty simple.  Essentially it is not about limiting what you can eat, it is not dieting, it is being more mindful of what you are feed yourself and listening to your body’s internal hunger cues. I find this concept truly inspiring and have wanted to make it a way of life for myself over the last couple of years. I have to say when you can get into the groove and zone of mindful eating, it is by far the best relationship you will have with food and your body. I find the trouble is being able to stay in the zone when life starts to get stressful and chaotic.

I have read quite a few articles on the subject along with various books so when I came across “Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food“ by Susan Albers I knew I wanted to read it. Susan Albers is able to lay out very simple ideas that are easy for people to grasp and understand. As Susan describes on her website “Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes. It is being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience when you eat, and the thoughts and emotions that you have about food. It is more about how you eat than what you eat.”

Overall I did enjoy the book. The concepts are very basic and easy to follow.  This book would be especially good for anyone who wants to lose weight, learn to appreciate food more, or to help get rid of emotional feelings associated with food. It is all very common sense and the ideas are straightforward for anyone to follow. My only criticism is it was a little repetitive for my liking and did not bring a whole lot of new ideas that I had not already read before. However in the end I am glad I read it and would recommend it out to others, especially those just starting their weight loss journey!