Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Does Your Body Need Cleansing?

In the world of health and fitness, cleanses/detox plans/resets are being touted all over as the way to get you healthy and help you lose weight. But are they actually necessary? As with pretty much anything you search on the internet, you can find compelling evidence to support and refute claims regarding these types of programs. So what is the average consumer to do? First of all, investigate your sources. A reputable source will provide scientific evidence to support claims rather than general claims and anecdotal testimonials. Secondly, medical sources concur that the body has it's own detoxing system in place and doesn't need help from a bunch of supplements or time off from digesting food to to it's job. Your liver is very effective at removing unwanted substances from your body.

But why do people report losing weight on these detox plans? Most likely because they are consuming a very low calorie diet for the duration of the program. This will provide short term weight loss (and perhaps other perceived positive effects), however, the weight will likely quickly return when the consumer returns to their previous habits.

The real key to improving health, fitness, and achieving/maintaining ideal weight is to develop a lifestyle that incorporates exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep. For many, making small changes works best for lasting results. Others may feel the need to "jump start" into healthier habits. For those that prefer to dive in, or perhaps need a push back into previously created healthy habits, designating a few days to a week of focused effort can be effective. I prefer this approach to a cleanse because you are building habits that you will continue to incorporate into your daily life. There are times when I have fallen off the wagon in terms of eating for the best nutrition. Eventually I decide, that's enough. Eating poorly makes me feel bad physically and mentally. And I put a plan in motion to reestablish better habits.

My plan usually looks something like this:
Start the day with a smoothie - greens (spinach, kale), frozen fruit, fresh lemon juice, and water
Breakfast - eggs, piece of whole grain toast, fruit,sometimes coffee with a small spoonful of coconut oil
Snack - nuts, Larabar, Kind Bar, piece of fruit, similar items
Lunch - big salad including avocado, almonds, and some cheese along with lots of veggies
Snack - Shakeology, yogurt with granola, or one of the previously listed snack items
Dinner - more veggies (raw, steamed, or roasted), protein such as grilled salmon or chicken or sprouted tofu, small serving of whole grain pasta or other grain/starchy item

Of course, my diet is more varied than the above list as these are just a few examples to give an idea of how I break the cycle of eating too many sweets, portions that are too big, and foods that leave me feeling not great. Staying focused on eating as many whole, unprocessed foods for about a week is usually enough to bust my cravings. Once I'm back on track, my food choices remain similar to those above, but with a little more wiggle room. I might enjoy a few squares of dark chocolate after dinner, or snack on some corn or sweet potato chips, but mainly, I try to keep it simple! A complicated plan can be overwhelming and set you up for failure. Stick to the basics and expand as you learn more about nutritious, whole foods that you enjoy.

For people who need more structure to get them out of a rut and get these healthy habits going, Beachbody just released a program called 3 Day Refresh. It requires the user to focus for 3 days on getting the best nutrition possible and helps build lasting habits. The 3 Day Refresh will be my go to the next time I feel I've fallen into poor eating. It will be my first time ever trying a program like this and I'm excited to give it a shot as it seems to fall in line with the beliefs about nutrition I've written here. It will be nice to have a plan laid out for me so all I need to do is follow along.

Bottom line opinion: ditch the cleanses and detoxes. Focus on building habits that make your body feel good and function well. Use tools if desired, but be sure you're still getting the nutrition you need!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Healthy for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is next week, followed by over a month filled with celebrations and indulgences. For many, fitness takes a vacation during this time and then a snap back to reality comes January 1. But with a little strategic planning, holidays and treats can be enjoyed without feelings of guilt and regret. Here are some tips to help you through the season without stressing over having to start your fitness program all over in the new year.

- Schedule workouts and treat them with the same importance as any other appointment. Even if you have commitments that reduce the number of workouts you can get in a particular week,  scheduling and sticking to those you can fit in will help keep stress at bay and keep your energy high.

- Focus and push yourself during the time you have for exercise. The holidays can be chaotic and stressful. Pushing yourself during workouts will help clear your head while you focus all your energy into the task at hand. And, you'll burn tons of calories!

- Offer to contribute food items for parties and special holiday meals and bring something you feel good about eating. There will always be plenty of indulgent dishes available at celebrations. Adding something nutritious to the spread will show others your commitment to staying healthy and your family and friends will probably be happy to try something new.

- Consider revamping some of your traditional holiday dishes. There are so many ways to prepare traditional holiday fare and highlight your favorite ingredients. Try following healthy food blogs and Facebook pages for inspiration.

- Partner up with a friend or accountability group to keep you on track to meet your goals. Having someone to report your progress (or slips) to can work wonders toward helping you get past the urge to overindulge or skip a workout.

- Choose indulgences wisely. Avoid going to a party and filling up on cheese and crackers and then continuing on to all the special holiday food. Decide which items you're most looking forward to (those that are special for holidays, items you don't make for yourself) and enjoy a reasonable portion.

- Focus on people rather than food at holiday gatherings. Yes, there are food items you may have been looking forward to all year. Go ahead and have some. BUT, holidays are (should be!) about giving your time and companionship to the people you love, not just devouring a giant feast.

- Invite others to exercise with you. Physical activity accumulates and several small bouts can add up to a full workout. If you can visit with a friend while going for a walk or some other activity you both enjoy, you kill two birds with one stone.

These are just a handful of ideas to get you on track for celebrating the holidays while keeping your fitness in check. Plan ahead and you'll be ahead of the weight loss/fitness/health resolution pack
for 2014!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Avocado Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

Egg salad. I love it! But, I'm not a big fan of mayo. So this summer, I had the idea to make egg salad with mashed avocado. And boy is it good! I revisited my summer genius idea today and made my avocado egg salad and ate it on large butter lettuce leaves with a couple tomatoes and slices of cucumber.

This is so easy to make! 

1 large avocado, mashed
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
large lettuce leaves
grape tomatoes
sliced cucumber (I cut mine in strips so it's easier to wrap)

Combine avocado and eggs in a bowl. Season with mustard, salt, and pepper to your personal taste. Spoon mixture onto large lettuce leaves and garnish with slices of cucumber, tomatoes, and whatever vegetables you like. Wrap it up like a burrito and eat! Makes 2 servings.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Cozy Orange Yoga Gear

Recently I tried a new brand of yoga clothing, Cozy Orange. As part of Cozy Orange's "Glam Squad", I received the Gemini Tank in True Teal and Gemini Pants in Raven Black and True Teal, to review. I was so excited to try some new yoga gear! Right out of the package, the fabric of both the tank and pants was super soft. The fabric has retained this softened after multiple washes, and both pieces have retained their shape and stretch as well.
Ready to teach class
When I tried the pants on, the first thing I noticed was how comfortable and flattering the waistband is. It doesn't dig in at all and it looks smooth under whatever top I wear with it. The Gemini pants have a good amount of stretch, giving a feeling of light compression without being too restrictive. The only thing I would change about these pants is to have them available in multiple lengths as they are a few inches too long (as usual for me!).

The Gemini yoga tank is another very nice piece. The seaming gives a flattering shape and again, the fabric feels great on. An interesting feature of this tank is that it has an adjustable shelf bra. I didn't find this to be especially helpful as it didn't feel super supportive and I would always wear a sports bra under the top anyway. However, for anyone who doesn't require/desire strong support, it is nice that you can adjust the band to make the fit more custom. I do like the True Teal color. It's colorful without being overwhelming. 

Overall, I really enjoy wearing both of these pieces of clothing and look forward to trying more of the Cozy Orange line!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Workout

After a couple days off workouts due to a bad cold, today was the day to get back to it. Core Speed from T25 was my workout of choice. Actually, once I finished Core Speed, I decided to double up and popped Rip't Circuit in the DVD player.

I really like these workouts because they're short - only 25 minutes each - and they're intense. You feel as if you've done a longer workout when you're finished. And if you have days like I did today where you've missed a couple workouts and you want to come back with a bang, doing 2 still only takes 50 minutes! Because of the high intensity of T25, doing 2 workouts in a day isn't a frequent thing...only once per week to avoid overtraining. 

Here are a couple of clips from both videos. The first section is the last push in Core Speed, featuring every exercise from the whole workout combined and each exercise is only performed a couple times in this section. Then, a few exercises from Rip't Circuit are shown. It's been a few weeks since I've done these workouts, so I'm probably going to be sore tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Short and Effective

Ever feel like you have to exercise for at least an hour for a workout to be effective? Hour-long workouts are great if you have the time and enjoy working out. But sometimes, it's nice to have a sweaty, butt-kicking workout in a short time. If you focus and work at a high intensity, a short workout can be just as, or even more, effective than a longer workout. This goes for both cardio and strength sessions. 

I planned to do some lifting this evening before teaching Insanity, but ended up a little behind schedule, leaving me only about 15 minutes to fit it in. With 6 exercises, each working multiple muscles, I knocked out 2 sets with heavy weights, followed by a few minutes of plank work. A couple of hours later, and I'm already feeling that work in my body! The key is to have a plan and move quickly between exercises with minimal rest between. Using heavy weights helps burn out the muscles with few repetitions. If I had a little more time, I probably would have done the circuit a third time, and still would have been under 30 minutes for a complete strength workout.

As far as cardio, I've been teaching a 30 minute version of Insanity a couple times per week. Those 30 minutes are super intense and leave me burning calories at a higher rate for hours after I'm done. I've also been using Shaun T's T25 here and there on days when I don't teach or can't make it to the gym. The same rule applies, focus and push through at a high intensity and you get an effective workout in a short time. 

Short workouts are not only convenient, they're a great way to mix up your routine and keep your body guessing. Throw in an extra short workout into your routine to help break through a plateau and push your fitness to a higher level!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Workout of the Day

Today I didn't have any classes to teach or a set workout planned. Having taught a combo of  INSANITY and PiYo the night before, I didn't feel like I needed a really long or intense workout, but I wanted to do something. I trained a client in the morning and thought I'd do a quick workout with some of the exercises I chose for her, using a medicine ball for resistance.

I was already warm from demonstrating exercises for my client and climbing up the stairs in the gym a few times. I chose 3 exercises that combined, worked all my major muscles. Not resting between exercises and doing multiple sets got my heart rate up and my muscles were feeling it by the end! Try it out and enjoy!

Walking Lunges with Rotation
Hold medicine ball in front of chest with arms extended. Step forward with the right foot and bend the knee to 90 degrees, keeping knee over ankle. Keeping arms extended, twist to the right, rotating through the waist. Come back to center and step forward with the left foot, come into a lunge and repeat.

Sumo Squat with Side Bend
Stand with feet together, holding medicine ball overhead. Step out wide to the right and sit into a low squat, keeping chest tall and tailbone tucked. Crunch obliques on the right, bringing elbow toward the thigh. Step together and repeat on the left.

Rear Extension with Overhead Lift
Stand with feet together, tall posture, holding medicine ball in front of the thighs. Shift weight onto the right foot. At the same time, lift the left leg with knee extended and lift medicine ball overhead. Lower leg and medicine ball together then repeat. Complete all repetitions on the right side and then repeat on the left.