Recipe Roundup – Smoothie Edition

May 19th, 2014

Welcome to recipe roundup!  Here we will feature some easy, healthy recipes from around the internet that don’t require a long list of ingredients, and total prep time clocks in at under 30 minutes.

This week, we will feature smoothies!  Smoothies are a great way to get a decent serving of fruits, and even veggies.  Smoothies are an excellent meal or snack in summer as well, as they are easy to digest and are a nice cool, refreshing source of nutrients.

Also, here is a fantastic resource for smoothie and shake creations from Precision Nutrition.  These nutritional powerhouses will make sure you get adequate protein, veggies and fruit, and a healthy fat to boot.  Oh yes, and they taste great.

Consider giving a smoothie or shake recipe a try this summer to see if you don’t fall in love with this concept.

Spring Has Sprung Workouts!

May 14th, 2014

Spring has sprung!  How nice it is to see the temps warming up and the sun shining.  You might feel your energy increasing, and we have some daylight hours outside to let us get some extra time in outdoors after our workday.  What a better way to get a workout in than one in the sunshine and fresh air?

Here are three workout ideas that will put a little “spring” in your step:

1.)  Pick two trees in your yard, ideally the farthest two away from each other.  Begin at one, and do one “springy” jump squat and one push-up.  Sprint or jog (depending on how intense you want your workout) to the other tree.  There, do two jump squats and two push-ups.  Sprint or jog back to the original tree and complete three jump squats and three push-ups.  Continue this pattern until you have done 10 jump squats and 10 push-ups.  Rest as little as possible, but as much as you need to to keep your form intact.  You can make this easier by slowing your pace during the sprint/job portion or even dropping to a walk.  You could also ladder up only on odd numbers, and skip the even numbers.

2.)  A second workout option, using those same two trees in your yard, would be to skip from one tree to the other.  Then, drop down and hold a plank for as long as possible.  Skip back to the tree you started at, and complete 10 jumping jacks.  Repeat this process for as long as you’d like, or as long as you can continue holding the plank.

3.)  Head out to your local county park and hit the trail.  Walk or jog until you find the first large rock you can lift.  Pick it up, and perform 10 squats.  Put the rock down, and walk or jog to the next large rock.  Pick it up, and squat it and powerfully launch it as far as you can.  Repeat the launch three more times.  Move on, and keep walking or jogging until you find a flat space where you can complete 10 push-ups..  Walk or jog until you find something like a tree stump or large rock that you can step up onto, and complete 10 step-ups per leg.  Repeat this process until 30-45 minutes have passed, or your desired workout length.

There you have it!  Three “springy” workout ideas that will get you fresh air, sunshine, and do not require any equipment other than your own body weight and a little help from nature.  Give them a try.

Strength Training for Older Adults

May 9th, 2014

As we age, our bodies begin to decline functionally and structurally, even if we don’t have an illness or disease.  Sounds fabulous, right?  We have made it up there in years, and now get to look forward to a decline.

Well, there is some good news, actually.  Regular strength training can help slow the decline and even keep those pesky things like arthritis and joint pain at bay.  Just two to three strength training sessions per week can set you up for many benefits.

Following is a list of benefits of regular strength training from the Centers of Disease Control:

  • arthritis relief
  • improved balance and decrease in falls
  • increased bone density
  • healthy weight management
  • improved mental outlook
  • sleep improvement

These are just a few benefits of regular strength training.  There are many more.

Many people believe that only healthy individuals should participate in a regular strength training program. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Individuals that have an injury or condition that doesn’t allow them to move as well as a healthy individual should still consider strength training.  In this instance, it would be beneficial to work with a fitness professional to determine which types of movements and exercises are safe to perform with their condition.

As always, when beginning any new activity, it is best to consult with your medical professional.  It is also a smart practice to begin a new program slowly and taking the time to ease your body in, rather than force it to do something too often, too soon.


The Importance of Rest

May 5th, 2014

You know the drill.  You’ve been killing it in the gym.  Day after day after day of pushing it hard.  You are maybe a little (or a lot) sore, but workout endorphins make you feel amazing, so you are going to hit it again the next day.  Because continually killing it in the gym is necessary, right?


Turns out, your body thrives when you provide it adequate rest.  Wait, what?  So it isn’t awesome to continuously plug miles on the treadmill, lift weights, and plank your way to awesome day after day?

We need rest.  Everyone is different, and some need more than others.

So, let’s talk about the different kinds of rest.  Let’s start with the most obvious one.  Rest days.  Rest days are those days you stagger in between your workout days.  Rest days are when you allow your muscles a break and let them recover from what you did to them the day before.  Rest days are when you don’t beat yourself up.  Rest days might mean a slow, relaxing walk after dinner, but not doing it to burn the calories.  Rest days might mean a bubble bath after your kids go to bed.  Rest days might mean a lovely yoga class.  Rest days are actually when you are getting stronger (when we think we are getting stronger while doing the training).  This type of rest is vital.

Alright then, let’s chat about the not so obvious rest category.  Sleep!  We need sleep!  Guess what happens when we sleep?  A lot!  Critical functions in our body happen when we are sleeping.  And yet, we have a hard time shutting off the tv/phone/computer and get to bed.  So we stay up late, rely on coffee or another caffeinated substance the following morning, and do it all over again.

Stress levels play a big role in how much rest you need as well.  Think about it, your body sort of thinks as stress as a really fast tiger chasing you.  Workouts are actually stress on your body, so wouldn’t that be like continuously being chased by a tiger, and on workout days a tiger AND a grizzly bear?  Sounds exhausting. It is!  It will eventually catch up in the form of over-training, adrenal fatigue, injuries, and other unpleasantness.

Please take rest seriously.  Your body will thank you.  Please also pay attention to yourself and learn the difference between needing a rest day and just not ‘feeling like a workout.’  Pay attention to yourself.  You will learn the difference.  Paying attention to your body is a very useful skill.

Just One Change

April 28th, 2014

So often when we embark on a journey to “get healthy,” we change many things at one time in our life.  Maybe we clean out the junk from our cupboards and refrigerator, set up a new workout program for a minimum of five days a week, and give up pop…..all in the same week.  Our intentions are good, this is for sure.  The first week might seem new and exciting, so these changes are easy.  Week two isn’t so bad, but it isn’t so good, either.  Week three…..well….it becomes easy to say “What changes?” and forget it all and go back to our old habits.

What happened?

Well, change takes time.  Building new habits, lasting habits, takes time.  Change can be overwhelming for some, and changing too many things at one time can end in disaster.  The old adage of “it takes 21 days to create a habit” isn’t lying.  You can’t create 21 new habits in 21 days, just one habit.

So, if you find yourself wanting to change something, start small.  Let’s use the example of a person trying to quit drinking pop.  Sure, this person could go cold turkey.  Or, this person could start small.  Let’s assume this person drinks three cans of pop per day.  By starting small, this person could commit to drinking just two cans per day, until drinking two cans is easy.  When two cans is easy, this person could commit to drinking just one can of pop per day.  Once one can is easy, this person can drop to no pop per day.  This person gradually changed his or her habits until it was effortless and a true habit.  Now, this person is ready to begin another habit.

See the difference?  Instead of trying to make 100 changes, it might be easier to change just one thing.  Do that one thing until it’s a habit, and then do one more thing.  Tiny changes over time turn into incredible, powerful change.