Shari Duncan

Fitness

Wake up and…. EAT!
Shari

by on Sep.18, 2011, under General Nutrition, Weight Loss

You’ve heard it since you were a kid:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  And if shedding excess weight (and keeping it off) is among your health goals, a healthy breakfast holds one key to success.

You may think that skipping breakfast is an easy way to cut calories when trying to lose weight. A growing body of research, however, indicates that eating breakfast is a successful strategy for lasting weight loss. Data collected by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) showed that over 90% of successful dieters usually eat breakfast. These are people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for a long period of time.

    Reduced hunger.

  • Eating breakfast can reduce hunger later in the day, which makes it easier to avoid overeating. . Some studies have found that those who skip breakfast end up eating more calories through the course of the day compared to those who don’t – and weight gain is the result.1This may be due to increased feelings of hunger which can lead to overeating, particularly higher-fat foods later in the day. Furthermore, people who eat breakfast regularly have better vitamin and mineral status and eat fewer calories from fat.   In addition, the prolonged fasting that occurs when you skip breakfast can increase your body’s insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. In fact, skipping breakfast actually increases your risk of obesity.

    Healthy choices.

  • Eating breakfast may get you on track to make healthy choices all day. When you eat breakfast, you tend to eat a healthier overall diet, one that is more nutritious and lower in fat. When you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to skip fruits and vegetables the rest of the day, too.  Choose foods that you enjoy and that fit your

    What's for Breakfast? You need to eat to lose.

    dietary weight loss goals. Whole grains, fruits, low fat dairy (yogurt) and lean protein, such as eggs.  Proteins provide a feeling of satiety which means you will feel full longer while actually eating less.  High-fiber complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals (like oatmeal) will keep you satisfied. Fiber also increases that sensation of fullness.  Look for breakfast cereals that provide at least 6 grams of fiber per serving, suggests Harvard Men’s Health Watch, but make sure your choice is low in sugar (less than 10 grams per serving). If you are not keen on eggs or cereal, try a high protein smoothie, made with fruit, low fat milk and protein powder, spread some almond or peanut butter on whole grain toast, or melt some low fat cheese on a whole grain english muffin.

    More energy.

  • Eating breakfast gives you energy, increasing your physical activity, which boosts your metabolism and may in turn actually assist in burning more calories.  Consider this: If you don’t eat  in the morning, you are literally forcing yourself into running on empty. If the last time you ate was 8 p.m. last night and you don’t eat lunch until noon today, that’s sixteen hours of no refueling!  Your body is screaming out for fuel so it stands to reason that skipping breakfast is associated with decreased physical activity.  A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply your muscles with immediate energy.   Increased energy levels will allow you to be more active during the day and give you more chances to burn calories. In turn, you are more likely to go for a run or hit the gym if you don’t feel exhausted all day.

Bottom Line:

Breakfast as part of a daily routine is a key strategy to use as part of a lifestyle management approach for long-term, sustainable weight loss. So, if you’re trying to control your weight and you frequently skip breakfast… you may wish to reconsider.

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/whats-for-breakfast-10-morning-meal-ideas-that-can-help-you-lose-weight.html

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Pool Running –Be kind to your joints AND burn more calories!
Shari

by on Jun.04, 2011, under Fitness, Strength and Agility Training

Get your feet wet and get in great shape.

It may look a little weird but pool running is one of the best cross training activities that’s not just for runners.  And it’s FUN!

Do you know someone who HATES to work out because they can’t stand to get sweaty and overheated?  Pool training might be the ticket that can whip them (and you) into shape!   Water resistance offers a no-impact, relaxing workout that still taxes the body, increases heart rate and results in an ideal cardiovascular exercise. Water running tests your endurance and fitness, increasing oxygen consumption and heart rate without putting weight and strain on your joints. We all know that running on pavement is a notoriously high impact activity. But water acts as a giant cushion for the body and is much kinder to joints and tendons than tarmac and other surfaces.  And the deeper you wade into a pool, the lighter your body becomes.
“The magic of the water,” says Jane Katz, Ph.D, a former Olympic swimmer, coach and author “extends the life of your

Burn calories and give your joints a break!

running by providing comfort, safety and a greater range of motion.”  Because the water pressure in a pool is significantly greater than air pressure, exercising in a pool provides two extremes at once–the resistance to stress the body and the liquid density to protect it.  So even when you travel, you can get a good workout from walking laps in waist –deep water in the hotel pool.

Added weight of ankle weights in a pool may be just what is needed to mix up your cardio routine and keep it challenging and interesting! The benefits of using ankle weights under water include enhanced resistance for not only your legs as you run or swim, but provide added resistance for your body in general.  Ankle weights tend to not cause joint damage or stress when used underwater.   If you are overcoming an injury, don’t stop working out… work out smarter!  Under water activities carry a lesser chance of joint strain and low impact and/or pool exercises can still give great results without compromising your routine or setting you back from your health goals.

Water Running:

As with any new workout program, start and progress gradually. Water running may not feel as grueling as running on pavement but it does require a good bit of energy. Studies by Dr Robert Wilder, a physiologist and the director of sports rehabilitation at the University of Virginia, have shown that the added resistance of water – it is 800 times denser than air and provides up to 12 times the resistance you get on land – means that you work harder and expend more energy pool-running than you do on land.   On average a person can burn 11.5 calories per minute running in water.  One study done at New York’s Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine found that walking at 3 miles per hour in mid-thigh water depth burned twice the calories of walking at the same speed on land

The exact number of calories burned are influenced by several different factors:

– your age

For buoyancy during deep water running/jogging

– weight
– fitness level
– water temperature
– range of motion used
– intensity
– time of day
– technique

At first you may find that you fatigue early and fail to sustain an entire workout. Give it time. In water, when you double your speed, your legs encounter a four-fold increase in resistance. While running, your body should be perpendicular to the pool. Your legs, however, should not flow as in typical running. To attain the greatest amount of resistance and smoothness, “sweep” your legs forward, from toes to hips, with minimal knee lift. This form, similar to the movement done on a cross-country ski machine, uses the entire leg to drive against the water.

Training Tips: Any type of training, from tempo runs to speed work, can be replicated in the water. For example, you can alternate faster leg action for 2 minutes with 2 minutes of easy striding (with high knees).  Or you can go hard

for 10 minutes, easy for 5, then repeat. Studies show you get virtually the same benefit as running “on-land” but with less wear-and-tear on the body.

If you engage in deep water running, you will need a special flotation belt known as an aqua jogger to keep you upright and afloat and enables you to run instead of merely treading water.  If you are running where your feet make contact with the pool floor, you should consider some aqua shoes (with rubberized soles) to protect the feet and prevent sliding.

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Rest… And Grow Stronger.
Shari

by on Apr.10, 2011, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Motivation

Active Rest: Because you just can’t train ALL out, ALL the time.

Resting is an essential element of training… as long as it is active.

Active rest is light exercise performed on non-training days at an easy pace with little stress.  The low-intensity assists blood circulation which in turns removes lactic acid, reduces blood lactate and speeds muscle recovery for your next high-intensity session. Active rest is NOT the assigned times in between sets of exercises during strength-training and it is NOT the recovery during interval training during a cardio session.

In the recent past, athletes were encouraged to rest completely after a competition or on a day off.  But newer research shows that engaging in low-intensity exercise during “rest” is better for maintaining fitness levels.  Low-intensity exercise flushes out lactic acid and delivers healing oxygen to the muscles.  Active rest activities are easy recreational movements… so keep intensity at levels lower than regular training.

The guideline for this is to exercise at 65% of your maximum heart rate. To determine that, calculate 220 minus your

Get your Glow on... Active REST makes you FITTER!

age, then times that number by .65. Otherwise, increase your breathing and heart rate to slightly above normal level. Be mindful to work hard enough so your body can exercise effectively, but not hard enough that you produce more lactic acid.  Getting your blood pumping will help flush away waste products like lactic acid that can build up in muscles post exercise.  You won’t be blinded by sweat, but you’ll get a good glow on.

Examples of active rest activities for strength athletes would be yoga, hiking, biking or walking.  If you are an avid spinner, you may try a round of tennis. Swimming, gardening, or tossing a Frisbee with the dog; you get the picture. Leave the stopwatch and heavy weights for training days.  Workouts should be at least 20 minutes in duration.

If you don’t actively rest, you risk burn out: a condition when stressors become too great in relation to your body’s ability to adapt. As a result, your training can be derailed for weeks or months to regain energy due to over-training. That’s why variation within your training week is important. The light days make the heavy days possible. They should enhance your more intense workouts and they should be equally enjoyable. If done right, scheduled active rest days will prevent over-training, injuries and mental fatigue.

Don’t confuse a day of ACTIVE REST with DOING NOTHING or having A LIGHT WORKOUT DAY.

ACTIVE REST days allow you to get your heart rate elevated and blood circulating. Also, remember an ACTIVE REST day is not a day off from good nutrition!

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Perfect Post Workout Pair… Protein + Coconut Water
Shari

by on Apr.08, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Healthy Snacks, Supplementation, Weight Loss, Whey Protein Recipes

Pump up your post-workout protein shake with coconut water!

* When it comes to recovering after an intense workout, coconut water may be the perfect liquid to add to your favorite protein powder. Derived from young green coconuts before they mature, this natural beverage is the water found inside young coconuts and is not to be confused with creamier coconut milk.  Natural coconut water contains five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana. Contrary to popular beliefs coconuts do not make you fat. They are loaded with medium chain fatty acids that are easy to digest and therefore your body doesn’t store it as fat.

Coconut Water Contains More Potassium than a Banana
One of coconut water’s greatest nutrition facts may be its enormous amount of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that promotes healthy kidney, heart, and overall cellular function.

Most often, potassium is associated with bananas, which contain about 450 mg of potassium per serving. However, a serving of coconut water offers your body a whopping 650 mg of potassium.

What’s more, it has no added sugar, fat or cholesterol.

PERFECT Post workout Pair: Protein + Coconut water.

All natural coconut water provides carbohydrates and electrolytes, which are both critical for optimal recovery.  In order to replenish, a lot of people turn to sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced water.  However, sports drinks contain alot of unnecessary  sugars and calories, which coconut water naturally avoids.  It is also fat free, with a taste that is nutty and naturally sweet and a great thirst quencher.  In addition to aiding in hydration, incredibly healthy coconut water contains amazing anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that can help to remove toxins from the body.

Adding coconut water to protein powders such as soy, whey or rice makes a refreshing and nutrient-dense post workout drink. Its high potassium also helps regulate blood pressure, heart function and many other health benefits.

REFUEL YOUR BODY:

For optimal nutrient absorption, consume your post work out shake within 30-45 minutes after training. Mix coconut water with vanilla (or chocolate) flavored protein powder for a post-training meal to feed your muscles and replenish the electrolytes lost during strenuous exercise.

Look for it at your local grocery or health-food store.

“Almond Joy” PWO Meal.

  • 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
  • 1 Chocolate cardio-care Flavor Mix in (or 1 Tsp baking cocoa)
  • 6-8 Oz Natural Coconut Water
  • 4 Oz  Unsweetened Almond Milk

    Adds "tropical twist" to Protein Smoothies

  • 6 almonds
  • Ice.
  • Blend well  in personal blender ( I use a magic bullet) for 30-45 seconds.

TROPICAL BERRY SMOOTHIE:

  • 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
  • 4 -6 oz Coconut Water
  • 4 oz Low Sugar Orange Juice
  • 1/2 container Pineapple-Coconut Flavor Yogurt (Dannon Light n Fit)
  • 3-4 Frozen Strawberries, Mango or any other Fruit of choice.

Blend well.  ENJOY!

To Learn more about Visalus health and nutrition products:

http://sharipronatural.bodybyvi.com/


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See Less, Eat Less. Portion Distortion
Shari

by on Mar.27, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

One of the most important pieces of information in a nutrition label is the serving size.

There is a difference between “a portion” and “a serving”. A serving is a standard or measure on how much food to eat and has been chosen by the manufacturer to describe the nutritional value of that food. For example 1 cup of milk, or a half a cup of oats. A portion is the amount of food someone CHOOSES to put on their plate and eat. Be mindful of portion sizes, for example 1 cup of oatmeal is actually considered 2 servings.

Buyers beware! Packaging can be misleading.  Many foods that come as a single portion actually contain  multiple servings. The Nutrition fact label on packaged foods—on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc. — also informs you of the number of servings in the container.  We may look at the calories but don’t notice the stated serving size. This means we may be consuming more calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc.

For example, look at the label of a 20-ounce soda (typically consumed as one portion), and you’ll see that it has 2.5 servings in it.  So if you choose to drink the whole bottle of Pepsi, you are consuming 250 calories and a whopping 69 grams of sugar!  A 3-ounce bag of chips—which some would consider a single portion—is actually 3 servings.

Buyer Beware: This is 2 1/2 servings & contains 69gms of sugar!

Another example of portion distortion is the bagel.   A typical bagel used to be 2 to 3 ounces, or about 200 calories. Today one bagel is 5 to 6 ounces, which can be well over 400 calories, depending on the type. (This is without any “schmear” on top!)   That same 5- ounce bagel that you might enjoy for breakfast is the equivalent of 5 pieces of bread and comprises the five servings of breads/grains that someone should eat for the entire day.

We live in a world of all you can eat buffets and “supersized” convenience foods. And when food is put in front of us, we will eat.  Restaurant portions tend to be two times or more than is recommended at one sitting, which leads to way too many calories. We can retrain ourselves to eat more slowly and stop eating when we are satisfied…not full. Also, it is healthier to eat several smaller meals, rather than a few large meals a day. This is because it keeps your body in the digesting-food mode, which means it keeps your metabolism up.

One of the easiest ways to cut back on calories and lose weight is by monitoring portion sizes.

A couple of “visual” tips to help with portion control and avoid consuming too many extra calories: In general terms, one hand, cupped = 1/2cup, two hands, cupped = 1 cup. An open palm, or the size of a deck of cards = 3-4 oz, the

Portion Distortion

standard serving size for a piece of chicken or fish,  and a serving of potatoes about the size of a computer mouse, for example.  Get to know the recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods and strive to stick to that as closely as

you can.   Another way to prevent over indulgence is to serve meals on smaller side plates, instead of dinner plates.  Think of meat and pasta as the side dishes and vegetables as the main course.  Fill half your plate with veggies, one quarter with lean protein (meat) and on quarter with starch/carbs (pasta, rice, potato).  Once you get into the habit of monitoring portions, it will become second nature and easier to monitor.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day—enough to help them lose a half-pound a week—and still felt full.

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Stretch your Way to Better Mobility
Shari

by on Mar.06, 2011, under General HEALTH, Strength and Agility Training, Stretching / Flexibility

Spare your low back from stress by improving mobility.  Poor hip mobility leads to poor posture, poor sports performance and chronic pain.

Joints and limbs need to be mobile and have full range of motion to be useful.  Our hip joints especially take a beating all day long and tight hip flexors (the muscles at the front of your hips) are a big problem for lots of us. But, we all need the use of our joints and limbs for everyday activities like picking up groceries or walking up stairs.  And, if you are an athlete, improved mobility equates to improved performance and reduced chance of injury.

The way to improve mobility is through proper stretching.

The benefits of a good warm up before exercise include improved strength, flexibility, muscular endurance,coordination and the correction of major and minor muscle imbalances.  It also increases blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues and increases range of motion, thus reducing chance of injury during exercise.  It is vital to include dynamic stretching exercises your daily exercise routine as it will not only help your major muscles short term but also very importantly long term when our muscles start aging.

Dynamic stretching works by gently propelling their muscles towards their maximum range of motion. It is very important to not use jerky, forced movements to try to increase the range of motion beyond what is comfortable as it can easily cause injury.  A 2008 study in the “The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” determined dynamic stretching a better choice for warm-ups for exercise over static stretches which were found to hurt muscular power output.

Lack of mobility in the hip joints is a very common complaint. This can be the result of a sedentary lifestyle and/or lack of stretching which shortens hip flexors & hamstrings and restricts hip movement. But the hips are designed for a wide range of motion and mobility. We should freely rotate thighs in & out, move them up & down, and pull them to & away from the body. Or at least we should be able to. Persistent pains in knees and/or lower back can be caused by lack of hip mobility.  Incorporating dynamic stretching can help the hip muscles regain their original length and alleviate pain in the lower back and hips.  If your muscles are tight, it is important to stretch every day.  Your hip mobility will improve by doing the exercises correctly and often.

Take it Slowly. Increase speed & range of motion as your muscles loosen. Don’t get injured by forcing the movement from the start.

Lunges are among the many recommended exercises to help stretch out the hip flexors.

Lunges and Leg Swings will help stretch and strengthen hip flexors

Lunges will also improve functional range of motion while also improving strength in the quadriceps, glutes and core.  There are many variations to the lunge that should be incorporated into your program.  (Stationary, front, reverse, lateral, walking, overhead, etc.)

Basic Kneeling Lunge (or split squat)

Kneel with your left knee on the ground and your right leg in front of you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your upper body straight and lunge forward as far as is comfortable and then move back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.

Lateral Lunge (Squats). A great dynamic stretch for your adductors. Assume a wide stance, the wider the easier. Squat side to side with both hands behind your head or across your chest. Point Your Feet Straight ahead. Rotating your feet outwards is trying to compensate lack of hip mobility. Plant your feet into the floor.  Push Your Knees out. This better involves your adductors. Push from the heels and push your knees out.  Stay Tall. Look forward, keep your chest up and shoulder-blades back & down. Don’t round your back.

Leg Swings (Front to Back and Side to Side)

Stand up straight and hold onto something. Move from the hips; flex and extend your thighs, keep your pelvis still and do not allow your torso to rotate. Look forward.  Keep the movement at a steady slow pace, maintaining good posture throughout. 15 repetitions of each for each leg.

Restoring hip mobility will help in several areas. If you don’t already include these exercises in your current training, performing them will make a big difference in your body mechanics. It should reduce or eliminate lower back and/or knee pain stemming from overcompensation. It should improve performance output by allowing you to fully engage in training exercises like squats and dead lifts while making them safer.

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Want Peak Performance? Detox your Body, Naturally.
Shari

by on Feb.13, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

You’ve decided to “clean up” your diet by eliminating fast foods, red meats, pork, junk foods, sugary drinks –  But don’t worry; there’s plenty of good stuff left to eat.

… once you get the junk out of your system and start eating right, chances are you probably will not want to go back to you old habits.

“We are what we eat” is amazingly accurate. Unnatural foods are harmful and tend to accumulate instead of being flushed.  Chances are if you are feeling tired, stressed, are bloated, frequently achy, or have low energy, your diet can be to blame. Ignoring these signs will not make your situation better.  It may be time to detox your body.  Eating natural foods, provided by nature, is the best way to cleanse and revitalize the body and stay healthy. Food is the fuel you feed the body to enable it to achieve peak performance. The cleaner and purer the fuel, the better and smoother the engine’s performance. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Why Detoxify?

Detoxification is one of the basic functions of the human body.  One of the body’s functions is to constantly detox on its own. During this process, the body eliminates toxins through the kidneys, colon, liver, lungs, lymph and skin.  Problem is that our lives are full o stress, pollution, chemicals and many other harmful substances and it is difficult for the human body to cleanse itself the way it was designed to do by nature.

When toxins are unable to be flushed out, they are set aside and surrounded by fat to protect the body from their harmful properties. However, this system of defense can cause even more health problems. Detoxification can also revitalize and eliminate bacteria and viruses.

It is important to keep well hydrated by drinking lots of water and herbal or green tea.   Aim to drink at

least 8-10 glasses of water every day. Packed full of antioxidants, green tea not only washes toxins out of the system through its liquid content, but also contains a special type of antioxidant called catechins, known to increase liver function.  Stay clear of sugary sodas and caffeinated beverages as much as possible.

What we consume every day is an extremely important aspect of detoxification.  Choosing and eating the right things could make the difference between overloading our bodies with toxins or keeping it clean and working properly. There is a wide range of foods to select from that can be incorporated into your diet to help you revitalize and detoxify.  So what foods are best to eat to remove toxins and get rid of that “sluggishness” feeling?

Basically, your diet should consist of foods that can be found in an organic form when possible or

Green tea, fresh fruit, nuts make the perfect "detox" snack

found in nature without preservatives or processing.  After all, it was all those processed foods with all the additives, dyes, added sugars, salt and extra fat that got your body into the state it’s in now.

Here are just a few suggestions that should be incorporated in your diet regularly to help heal your body naturally.

  1. Garlic, Ginger, Cilantro – Potent spices known to boost metabolism and rid free radicals
  2. Green Leafy Veggies- gives digestive tract a chlorophyll boost ridding the body from harmful environmental toxins. (including cabbage)
  3. Citrus (Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit) and other fruits (high in water content and vitamin C. Also fruits provide natural sweetness to help fight off sweet craving while trying to avoid processed sugars
  4. Broccoli Sprouts -stimulate the detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract. High in antioxidants.
  5. Seeds and Nuts
  6. Beans and grains (gluten free) like rice, quinoa
  7. Omega 3 Oils – Avocado, Flax Seed, Olive Oils, helps lubricate the intestinal walls, allowing the toxins to be absorbed by the oil, and eliminated by the body
  8. Asparagus: They are diuretic and prevent water retention. Weight loss while eating asparagus is due to the loss of water and not fat.

Dairy and wheat products are not the best choices while trying to detox.  Substitute instead when possible gluten free grains and almond or soy milk. Avoid fried foods during this period as well. Instead of using butter, chose a healthier canola based or olive oil product. Avoid processed cakes and cookies and other such flour-based products as well.  An area that is tough for most people is snack foods. Instead of snacking on chips, candy and cookies, snack on nuts and seeds as a healthier source, or of course fresh fruits or veggies. Virtually all fruits and vegetables are great foods but those full of color such as dark leafy spinach or bright red tomatoes are optimal.
The bottom line, when it comes to appropriate body detox foods, consider that if a food product is made in a factory and processed in some way (besides simple flash freezing or canning), then it is not the best thing for your detoxifying diet.

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Opposites Attract: Train opposing muscles to achieve muscular balance.
Shari

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

… and build more muscle in less time with supersets.

Strength training is an important component of fitness, but when done improperly it can result in muscle imbalance and result in injury.  The effectiveness of a workout also depends on what you want to achieve in regards to your fitness.  There are many ways to combine muscle groups to get the most out of your workouts. One popular technique is to train opposing (antagonistic) muscle groups together especially if the goal is to improve muscularity (muscle tone) and endurance.

Opposing muscle groups are your chest and back or your biceps and triceps, for example. (Think front/back or inner/outer).  But because the triceps support the muscles of the chest, you could also consider the triceps to be a secondary opposing muscle group of the back muscles and train them together.  Other examples would include training quadriceps with hamstrings, or abdominals and erector spinae. (lower back) in the same session.

work lower back, when training abdominals to prevent muscle imbalance

PRIMARY ANTAGONIST MUSCLE GROUPS

1) Pecs/Lats
2) Biceps/Triceps
3) Quadriceps/Hamstrings
4) Abdominals/Lower Back

Opposing muscle workouts are most effective by doing supersets.

A superset is performing two exercises in a row without stopping (or with very minimal rest) for a prescribed amount of sets. An example of this type of superset would be doing one set of bench press (for your chest) followed immediately by a set of pull ups (for your back). When you first start doing these, you may find that endurance is a problem but stamina will improve with time.

Let’s say you choose to train your chest and biceps during one workout.   Because the biceps are involved minimally in exercises for the chest, you will not be pre-exhausting your biceps. The result is that you will be able to train both your chest and your biceps with the maximum amount of concentration, effort and weight and because each muscle group gets the maximum amount of rest in between sets, you may ultimately be able to lift more, and thus over time, increase strength.

Opposing muscle supersets are a very effective training technique for many other reasons too:

  • Saves Time
  • Offers a greater challenge than traditional workouts
  • Creates variety and encourages new muscle growth
  • Eliminates the natural tendency to rest too long between set

So when you find yourself crunched for time, instead of skipping exercises, or reducing the number of sets or even ditching your workout completely… opt for super-setting for a new challenge.  With super setting, you can complete the same 60 minute workout in 40 minutes… and with increased intensity!  You will recruit more muscle fibers, over different muscle groups, in a shorter period of time.  WOW!

Training opposing muscles may also prevent injuries.

This is because the muscles that work together are in balance with one another rather than one over powering another. Working opposing muscles combined with stretching the muscles that have been worked prevents one muscle from becoming significantly tighter than it’s opposer and thus injury is less likely. When a muscle is worked it becomes tighter and the tendons connecting those muscles to the bone also become thicker and stronger.  When muscle imbalance occurs it is important to strengthen the opposing muscle and also to stretch the tight muscles.  So if you want to prevent injury and keep muscles in balance, train opposing muscles and always stretch after exercise.

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Hey Honey, Pour some Sugar on Me…. or Not.
Shari

by on Jan.30, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

“There are four basic food groups:  milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles”.  ~Author Unknown

No denying it. We all crave something sweet occasionally. So when we indulge in making a dessert, or sweeten a cup of coffee, what sweetener should we reach for? Sugar, fructose, honey? Calories from sweeteners add up quickly though and most sweeteners contain no nutritional value….So what about artificial, no calorie sweeteners?  It’s all a bit confusing.

Let’s focus first on table sugar (Sucrose) versus Honey.

The case for Honey:

Honey actually contains the same basic sugar units as table sugar. Both contain glucose and fructose. Granulated table sugar, (sucrose), has glucose and fructose hooked together, whereas in honey, fructose and glucose remain in individual units. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, which is one of the reasons fructose is used in so many food products today. However, fructose does not convert to energy as efficiently as glucose. As a result, processed

Sugar, Honey, Splenda, Truvia.... Which is best?

foods containing granulated sugar high in fructose convert to fat stores more easily than honey. But, One teaspoon of table sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories.  (Or 46 to 64 calories per Tablespoon, respectively). Since Honey is both sweeter and denser than sugar, people may use less of it which might bring the actual caloric count about the same.  Honey, however is less processed than table sugar and some nutrition experts say that honey contains trace vitamins and minerals that might aide in digestion.  Note that raw honey contains more nutritional value than commercial honey since it is not filtered.  Honey, also is far less processed than pure sucrose (table sugar) where all naturally occurring trace minerals are removed at the sugar plant, leaving nothing but  “empty calories .   Honey also has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) rating than sucrose.  The lower the GI rating, the more slowly the absorption and infusion of sugars into the bloodstream, meaning a more gradual and healthier digestion.

What about Caloric Sweeteners (Sugar/Honey) versus Artificial Sweeteners?

The case for sugar:

Our bodies understand how to handle incoming nutrients. Through the actions of insulin, the body uses or stores incoming glucose for future use, either as muscle or liver glycogen or as fat. The problem is the body can’t handle the high quantities of sugar that most people are shoveling in.  Most of us eat the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a day which is definitely a problem if you are trying to lose weight, have to watch blood sugar levels because of diabetes, or all those sweets are keeping you from eating and drinking the nutritious foods your body needs. With that said, at least the body has a mechanism for dealing with and handling sugar. It doesn’t matter if that incoming sugar is in the form of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, or agave nectar…the body knows that it is sugar and breaks it down accordingly.

The case for Artificial Sweeteners:

Sugar is an empty calorie. Sure, with honey and molasses, you get a few vitamins, but calorie-for-calorie, sugar, in all of its forms, is just empty calories. Sugar sends your blood sugar (glucose) sky high which causes insulin levels to spike, sending you into a hypoglycemic funk, and ruining your insulin sensitivity. And sugar is exceedingly easy to over consume. There may be 20 -30 TABLESPOONS of sugar in one pan of brownies that is tempting you right now.

The main reason people choose artificial sweeteners is because they contain no calories. For dieters, sweeteners like Splenda and Equal are considered a free food. “Free foods” are those not counted as carbohydrates, fats, or any other exchange, says the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, “free foods” will not affect an individual’s blood sugar.

But consider this: as bad as sugar is in terms of processing, artificial sweeteners may be worse. These sweeteners are made in a lab from who knows what chemicals. Further, we have no idea what these chemicals will do to the body with sustained long-term use.

**One product you may have heard of that is gaining popularity is Truvia, which is a zero calorie, all natural sweetener

All natural, zero calorie sweetener extracted from the Stevia Plant

extracted from the Stevia Plant. Many people (including myself) see this as a healthy alternative, being that it’s derived from natural sources and it is FDA approved…..and no calories!

So, which is best?

You are probably not going to like the answer: None of the above.

The best option is to ditch the sweet stuff and opt for whole, real foods.  Fat, protein and nutrient dense foods will curb your appetite and fruit or a good dark chocolate your sweet cravings.

If you must add something to your food or drink, use the least processed that you can get, which would be either honey or evaporated cane juice, or if counting calories… TRUVIA. And if you opt for one of the many artificial sweeteners out there, please use sparingly.

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Tracy’s Incredible Veggie Crust-less Quiche
Shari

by on Jan.12, 2011, under Egg and Main Course Ideas, Fruits and Veggies, High Protein dishes, Recipes, Weight Loss

Simple, versatile and ohh soo good for you….

This is the time of year when people have maxed out on candy, sugar and rich holiday foods and the body screams out: “Feed Me Something Healthy!” Fortunately, Eggs, cottage cheese, spinach all top the “super foods” list!

This protein packed and low carbohydrate, low fat quiche is incredibly healthy and very easy to throw together. It makes for a great tasting party appetizer*, brunch or  meatless supper. Experiment with just about any base you want for this dish. You can use practically any vegetables that are in season or whatever is on hand in your refrigerator which means  a lot of variety with just this one basic recipe.

The base is practically carbohydrate free and very low fat and packs an impressive 25 grams of lean quality protein per serving!  That makes this pie a good meal choice for even the strictest dieters or during contest prep. You can choose to mix in some  low fat cheeses for added flavor.. but this does add to the total calories/fat per serving so be sure to add this in if you are counting your fat grams.

Eggs, Egg Whites and Low Fat Cottage Cheese.. the Protein base for a very healthy meal.

This is how I “tossed” mine together… in less than 15 minutes of prep time:

  • 6 whole eggs plus
    8 egg whites (I used 1 cup of egg beater egg whites)
  • 10 oz  low fat/fat free cottage cheese
  • Herbs – I chose McCormick Mediterranean blend (Oregano, red pepper, Rosemary, Thyme and Paprika)
  • Sea Salt-pepper
  • Vegetable(s) and/or lean meat (s) of choice

Optional:  ¼-1/3 cup fresh shredded cheese – (I used Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan blend) but you can use low fat swiss, chedder, jack, or Feta

  1. Blend eggs, egg whites and cottage cheese, (shredded cheese, if using) with wire whisk until well combined. Add salt, pepper and other spices.
  2. Fill bottom of 9” pie pan with vegetables of your choice.  I used fresh baby spinach, sliced mushrooms,  2 green onions, and 1 diced tomato.

    Use ANY fresh veggies and herbs and bake! EASY !

  3. Pour egg mixture over vegetables.  Bake 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees until center is set and outside edge is golden brown. . Let cool.
  4. Slice “pie” into 4-5 servings:

Can be stored 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

Approximate Per portion. (Without added cheeses): Calories 183, 25 g of protein, 7g fat, and 4g of carbs

*Use muffin tins in place of pie pan if preparing as a party appetizers.

For Meat Eaters… try it with diced Canadian or turkey bacon, ham or diced chicken.

This was my first attempt at making a quiche and I cannot believe how simple and how GOOD this was.  This will definitely become a new staple in my kitchen.  Cannot wait to try it with zucchini!   THANKS TRACY!

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