Energize Naturally

How many times have you thought to yourself that you are more tired lately than you used to be? Or you simply don’t have the energy to do the things you love? Or things would be so much easier if you weren't tired all of the time?

While this does accompany aging, have you ever noticed that you seemed to have more energy back when you were more active, maybe it was due to being active all the time? There are many natural ways to energize from foods and exercise. Instead of drinking 3 pots of coffee before 9 a.m. let’s discuss some more natural  and healthy ways to stay energized throughout the day.

Energize with Morning Workouts

You may not like the idea of waking up 45 minutes earlier in order to workout before beginning your day, but it can help power you throughout the entire day. Taking 45-60 minutes extra to get in a quick workout will get your blood flowing, wakes you up faster than coffee ever would, and gets your endorphins flowing which can help make you feel happier, have a greater sense of well being, and be more energized after the workout is over (exercise in general is a great way to increase your energy levels). This can equate to a day full of energy and determination!

Eat for Energy: Top 5 Foods to Keep You Energized

1. Eggs –Eggs are an incredible source of protein and vitamins including B-vitamins and vitamin D. Vitamin D can help to keep your immune system running smoothly while B-vitamins help convert food into energy; instant energy. Grab some eggs and basically grab some energy!

2. Sweet potato – As with all good carbohydrates, sweet potatoes are loaded with energy. Carbohydrates help to fuel the body by providing glucose which energizes the brain, central nervous system, and bunch of other functions (there are GOOD carbs out there). The high load of vitamin A and C in sweet potatoes will help you stave off fatigue any time of the day. This makes sweet potatoes (think sweet potato fries) a perfect snack for energy.

3. Honey – This may be the first food that comes to mind if you want to get an energy rush. Honey is basically nature’s energy drink. Feeling sluggish, grab a spoon full of honey! Honey can help to refuel and replenish muscles during and after a workout. It does this by acting as a time released sweetener.

4. Bananas – You have got to love bananas they are full of natural sugars, which can provide us with a boost of energy. Not only are they full of fructose, sucrose, and glucose, they also have a high fiber content which can equate to a sustained energy boost.

5. Apples – Like the banana mentioned above, apples are also full of glucose. They are also full of antioxidants, fiber, and a ton of vitamins. This means that apples provide a convenient energy boost in a small package. Plus their high fiber content means that they provide us with a longer pick-me-up as well!

Just missed the list: spinach, beans, almonds, yogurt, and salmon, so keep these all in mind too!

Wrap-Up

There are many natural ways to energize yourself instead of reaching for a sugar laden cup of coffee. From exercising to natural foods, there is always a more natural way to stay energized and kick that sluggish feeling!

SEE ALSO:  Are Carbs Really That Bad? Nope. and Healthy Energy – Who May Benefit from a B-Complex Supplement?

Guest Blogger: Josh Anderson ~ For more of the latest at-home fitness and nutrition advice visit Always Active Athletics: “Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness.”

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Celebrity Encounters in the WLS Community: Tim Gunn

A few years ago, I was contacted by ABC to appear on their program "The Revolution."  They wanted me to do a segment with Tim Gunn on shapewear.  As soon as I heard Tim's name I jumped up and down like a lunatic.  I absolutely adore him.  I've watched nearly ever episode of Project Runway and have always loved his very thoughtful candor when his job was to critique.  I also think he has mad style and always looks amazing.  I was very, very excited to meet him.
 
I got to New York on the morning of the show and as I was walking up to hair and makeup, Tim Gunn was walking down the stairs.  With his usual zeal he said, "Taunia! It's so nice to see you!  I'm looking forward to our segment together."  He hugged me and we parted ways.  

Now, I know that those of us who are not celebrities generally question the authenticity of a celebrities actions, but I assure you:  Tim Gunn is one of the nicest, sweetest, warmest people I've ever met.

Now forward to wardrobe, who had clearly NEVER styled anyone who was post-op with extra skin.  They put me in the most ridiculous dresses.  Anything I loved on, they hated.  Anything they loved on me, I hated.  But still, I had very little say in what I was wearing.  

Oh, and did I mention that I was packed in like a sardine into probably a minimum of 6 shape-wear pieces?  

Many were from Slimpressions, but I wasn't allowed to say that on air.  I also wore Spanx and some Bali pieces.  My body was sculpted into something pretty damn amazing.  Never mind that whole not being able to breathe thing.
 
 
When I went out to the set to start to segment, he was very calming and sweet and joked that even HE wore shapewear.  He made it so easy to be in front of a group of people talking about my body and all the ways I strap it in.  The audience was really great too.  And I have to admit, I loved the gasp the audience made when Tim told them I had lost over 150 lbs.  

 
 

Being able to stand up there, proud of the choices I made, and having people support those choices with their applause was a pretty great moment for me.

 
After the show, Tim and I chatted for a bit and I got a quick photo with him. We talked a lot about weight loss surgery, and he is very supportive of people who chose that option to better their health.  Even though he deals with supermodels on a daily basis, I think he has a heart of gold for those who struggle with anything personal, probably because of his own personal struggles growing up.  I know I am kind of mushy about him, but he truly is one of the kindest, most genuine people I've ever met, and I'll always be grateful that I was able to work with him for a few brief hours.
 
 

This guest post was written by Diva Taunia, an award-winning Los Angeles musician and almost 7 years RNY Gastric Bypass post-op.

 
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Matcha Chia Pudding For Strength and Energy

Matcha and chia together make this a superfood super-pudding!

In only 1 oz. of chia seed you get:

  • 10 g of dietary fiber
  • 4.7g of protein
  • 17% of your daily calcium
  • 23% of your daily magnesium

Cool, creamy, and packed with antioxidants, this chia seed pudding starts with a milk and cream (dairy or non-dairy) base. To that I add, matcha and Wellesse Liquid Iron to help restore your body’s energy levels and reduce fatigue. You can also add in a serving of Wellesse B-Complex Complete for a comprehensive boost of metabolism support!

Matcha Chia Pudding

  • 1 Cups Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream (or full-fat coconut milk, chilled)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Wellesse Liquid Iron supplement
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Matcha Powder
  • ¼ Cup Chia Seeds

Mix all ingredients, except matcha and chia seeds, until well combined, use a food processor or blender for convenience. Whisk in matcha, and then fold in chia seeds. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until thickened.

SEE ALSO:  Tropical Protein Powerhouse Smoothie

GUEST POST by Blogger, Recipe Designer and Test Chef Brittany Angell.  Visit her at www.brittanyangell.com and sign up for Club Angell to receive amazing Paleo, Gluten Free, Grain Free recipes.

 

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5 Edible Ways to Increase Your Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular disease (encompassing both ischemia heart disease and stroke) is the leading cause of death in the United States. Even though this is the case, there are some simple ways to help protect your heart and decrease your risk. Minus the obvious ways to improve your cardiovascular health (decreasing your sugar and hydrogenated fats), let’s break down 5 tips to naturally eat your way towards improved cardiovascular health!

More Fruit

There have been several studies in the past that have depicted how eating more fruit can actually improve your cardiovascular health. One very recent study helped really drive this idea home. The study out of China found that those that ate fruit every single day had a 40% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease than those that never ate fruit. The simple act of eating fruit daily greatly improves your heart health. Not only that, but the more fruit you eat a day it seems the more heart health benefits you may receive.

Eat Breakfast

Improving your heart health may be as simple as eating breakfast every day. One study found that men who habitually skipped breakfast and instead ate larger meals later in the day had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who ate breakfast every day. It was hypothesized that this was the result of metabolic stressors interrupting repair processes, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease when you don’t eat breakfast.

More Legumes - No, jelly beans don't count...

A 2014 study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal found that eating one serving  (3/4 cup) of legumes a day can lead to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease by improving cholesterol levels. In fact, legumes are able to help lower your cholesterol levels so greatly that it can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 5%!

Coconuts

If you have high cholesterol you may want to add more coconuts into your diet. It was found in a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition that along with a proper diet and exercise you can considerably lower your bad cholesterol and reduce your overall cholesterol when you include coconuts to your diet. This is because of their high content of medium-chain triglycerides that are found to be heart healthy!

More Almonds

Want a simple, convenient, tasty way to improve your cardiovascular health? Look no further than almonds. Adding a handful of almonds a day (50g) can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and help improve your blood vessel health (seems to go hand-in-hand). Almonds are a great snack to boost your anti-oxidant levels and therefore improving blood pressure as well!

Wrap-Up

There are many natural ways to improve your heart health. With cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of death in the United States, we all should be aware of these easy edible options. Add some of these foods into your daily diet to help keep your cardiovascular system running smoothly for years to come!

SEE ALSO:  Got Fiber? Digestive and Heart Health Depend on It! and  Plant Sterols and Your Heart

Get the latest at-home fitness and nutrition advice by visiting Josh at Always Active Athletics: “Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness.”

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Overcoming the Hormone Connection to Weight Loss and Toning

It sure is hard to fight one's own physiology!

Especially as we get older, not only does our metabolism start to slow down to a mild crawl (unless you one of the lucky ones) but our hormones can start to become out of balance. This hormone imbalance can lead to a lot of wacky things and one of them is weight gain in our problem areas.

You know the problem areas I’m talking about. The ones that no matter what you do or how well you  eat they just don’t go away. For men this usually occurs around the waistline and for the women this seems to always be the hips and thighs (back of the arms/triceps occasionally too).

What Causes Weight Gain in Problem Areas As We Age?

Why is it so hard to get rid of? You can thank your own body in part for that one. For the ladies, as you get older estrogens cause fat to be deposited in these problem areas, while cortisol (commonly referred to as the stress hormone) causes fat to be deposited around the waist in men. This also means that as we lose weight, because of these hormones, we lose it proportionally more throughout the remainder of the body (although we do lose it from our problem areas as well).

Busting Those Problem Areas

So does this mean that we are always destined to have these problem areas and they will never go away? While it seems incredibly cruel that our body is making fat deposit in these areas we are striving to rid ourselves of, you still can work to remove these areas.

It all comes back to the basics: deficit, balance, and determination.

Deficit

Weight loss is all about creating a caloric deficit to where you are consuming less calories then you are using (not to an incredible extent, we still want this to be sustainable). It has and will always be about creating a calorie deficit.

Through proper nutrition and exercise regime you can create this deficit. Remember that it takes a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to burn one pound. That equates to a 500 calorie deficit a day to burn one pound in a single week. This equals 4 pounds a month (…that doesn’t seem like much…) or 48 pounds a year (WOW…it adds up if you take your time). Even if you were to have a calorie deficit of half that you would still lose 24 pounds a year; that’s like losing the weight of a toddler.

Balance

As I mentioned above, hormones have a lot to do with weight loss and weight gain as we age. One thing to consider is whether you have a hormone imbalance. Are your cortisol or estrogen levels off? If so you can see a physician and together you can determine how to balance your hormones.

Determination

Lastly, you must have determination to remove these problem areas. They wouldn’t be called a problem area if they weren’t hard to remove. Because your metabolism may already be lower and your hormones are doing cruel things to you, it will take time and patience to reach your goals. But trust me it is doable. Just work hard, give it time, and you will achieve the results you want!

Discussion

Cortisol and estrogen can definitely play serious hardball with our bodies, but by understanding the underlying problem we can tackle it and make great strides. Remember to create a sustainable calorie deficit, try to balance your hormones (if that is the case), and have the determination to see it to the end and you will achieve your goals!

SEE ALSO: Six Ways Stress May Cause Weight Gain and  When Will I See Diet and Fitness Results?

If you want more workouts and fitness tips that can be done at-home or on-the-go check out Always Active Athletics: “Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness!”

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When Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Are Necessary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is now widely accepted that good nutrition starts with a healthy diet.  The USDA food pyramid, now a food plate, outlining the proportion of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fats that make up a healthy diet is the clearest  visual description of the best way to provide your body with proper nutrition.  But...

What if your body is struggling to use the nutrients in food you eat?

What if your diet is restricted due to food allergies, medical or financial conditions?

Certain circumstances make getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals from food next to impossible.  Nutritional deficiencies are a common concern among those with a consistently poor or unbalanced diet, and for those with conditions that do not allow for the body's full use of nutrients from food.  Many factors can contribute to nutritional deficiencies and multiple reasons can come together in one person to greatly restrict healthy food intake and a body's ability to use available vitamins and minerals.  A vast array of medical and lifestyle conditions can restrict proper food intake or lead to an inability to absorb proper nutrients from food. 

  • Food allergies

  • Obesity

  • Continual use of antacids

  • Weight loss surgery

  • Celiac disease

  • Advancing age

Quality supplementation of essential vitamins and minerals is one key component of good health.  Continuing to eat a well-balanced diet, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein is essential as well.  But faced with absorption hindering conditions, keeping a close eye on essential nutrient levels through regular blood panels and adding supplementation to offset deficiencies is very important.

Many supplements can present challenges for those trying to increase their vitamin and mineral intake.  Pills can often be too plentiful and too large to be comfortable swallowing what is needed.  There may be a lack of stomach acid needed to break down pills into their useful nutrient parts.  

Liquid supplements offer an easy alternative to pills.  The important nutrients are already broken down into a form your body can readily absorb.  The nutrients in quality liquid supplements are in their most bio-available form, making it quick and easy for your body to best use what it needs.  Do the research to find a reputable company manufacturing high-quality liquid supplements, and staying healthy will be that much easier.

SEE ALSO: Celiac Disease and a Gluten Free Diet - Watch for Nutrient Deficiencies in Both  and  Vegetarians and the Elderly & Risk of Developing B12 Deficiency

 

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Celebrity Role Models in the Weight Loss Community

CELEBRITY SERIES: CARNIE WILSON
 
Last night I was watching one of my favorite television programs, "Chopped," and it was the all-star celebrity series featuring someone we all know:  Carnie Wilson.
 
A few years back, Carnie Wilson had a reality show called "Unstapled."   I was admittedly not a fan, and I think that it's ok to not like something if it isn't your cup of tea. It's even ok to not like it when the show involves a topic so close to home and features a celebrity that many of us post-ops consider a pioneer in the field since she so openly and bravely had weight loss surgery and it was very publicly televised.  Her "Unstapled" reality show was just not for me.  
 
Instead of just not watching and keep my negative thoughts to myself, I decided to create a video blog about my opinions, and that was not ok.  And guess what I forgot when I made that video? Celebrities are people too.  People with feelings.  People who sometimes watch things on the interwebz.  
 

And yes, she did watch the video blog.  And then she called me.  SWEAR. TO. GOD.

 
She called me because she wanted to talk directly to me, without a camera in her face, without television editing, and wanted to connect on this common bond of surgery that we share.  At first I was freaked out that it was her (many people asked if it really WAS her, and believe me, it was).  After I talked to her a bit and realized some of my fairly harsh review comments hurt her feelings, I felt awful.  
 

But I apologized and she accepted.  

 
She was incredibly sweet to me despite my being a total jerk to (about) her.  I even made an apology video to which she responded all was cool with us.  Instead of  ignoring me as some type of internet troll, or even holding a grudge because of the mean things I said, she genuinely accepted my apology.  It truly humbled me.
 
After that, she appeared twice on my radio show, and we finally met in person in Las Vegas at the WLSFA conference.  She was once again very gracious, and we took some photos together.  After that, she spoke about her life after weight loss surgery and she was funny and sincere and talked about things we could all relate to. She made me laugh and made my cry, and after her speech I realized what a truly amazing person she is.  Yes, sometimes she can be loud, boisterous, and maybe even a little crass, but then again - so can I.  :)
 
(SPOILER ALERT)  During her episode of Chopped, she talked candidly about her love/hate relationship with food.  After she had the surgery, she realized that she needed to learn to cook so that she could be putting the nutrition she needed into her body, and also have the skills to make dishes that tasted great, but were still healthy for her.  She won and became a Chopped Champion.  And to me, she is also a champion of making the choices that she needs to make for herself, and having the grace to continue to work and grow.  And that's something we can all look up to.
 
 
This guest post was written by Diva Taunia, an award-winning Los Angeles musician and almost 7 years RNY Gastric Bypass post-op.
 
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Swim To Boost Joint Health

When an athlete gets injured, they often end up doing a lot of rehab work in a pool. The water’s buoyancy reduces stress on joints and bones while providing resistance to help build muscle. And continuous movement increases fitness and burns calories. Warm water therapy also helps ease many types of muscle and joint pain.

If you are considering diving in, here’s how you can get the most out of your pool workouts:

Drink Up 

Even though you are in water, you are still sweating. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of fluids before you go to the pool and eveb put a water bottle on the side and sip on it throughout your workout. Don't forget to drink plenty of fluid after you are finished too. There are even liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for joint health to give your drinking water an extra helpful element.

Join A Class 

If you aren't quite sure what to do in the water, consider joining an aerobics class. Check out your local public pool, gym or YMCA for a variety of classes that can challenge beginners and advanced swimmers alike.  Getting in the water with other participants can even help make exercise more enjoyable.  

Bonus: the instructor should be able to help you correct movement patterns (so you prevent injury or work around a current injury) while challenging and motivating you. 

Try Bands

Many band workouts can be adapted to the water. If you aren’t comfortable figuring out which band workouts you should do, talk to a personal trainer or aquatics instructor.

Challenge Yourself

If you want to increase fitness and burn more calories, it’s important to continually challenge your body. In addition to swimming, consider running in the water.

If you are a beginner, start in water that you can stand up in. Stand upright with your stomach tightly tucked (engage your core muscles), shoulders and head back (and chin in) and arms slightly bent by your sides. Now run!

Once you’ve mastered the movement, you can increase resistance by wearing hand paddles or gloves (make sure your shoulders stay upright). Or, move to the deep water with a flotation belt (or for a real challenge, don’t use a flotation belt!).

When you are ready, challenge yourself even more by trying intervals. Run as fast as you can for 20 – 60 seconds, take a 20 – 60 second break (ideally the break should be long enough for your heart rate to come down) and then repeat this pattern for several minutes.

Working out in water offers many of the same advantages of land workouts – there are several types of workouts you can do, you’ll burn calories and increase muscle strength without putting undue stress on your joints. 

SEE ALSO: Understanding Metabolism - Positive Changes to Rev Yours Up!  and   Tips for YOGA H20: Great Summer Poolside Exercise

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Water Soluble Vitamins for Everyday Health

Vitamins have several important functions, including helping the body produce energy, transporting oxygen throughout the body, supporting bone health, synthesizing and repairing muscle tissue. If you have a deficiency in any vitamin your body won’t function as well.

There are two main categories of vitamins:

Fat-soluble vitamins - stored in the body’s fat tissue  

Water-soluble vitamins - excreted in urine (with the exception of one – vitamin B12 - which does stay in your body longer) 

Because our bodies must use water-soluble vitamins right away and we excrete any that are not used, it is important to consume them every day.

 How can you make sure you are getting enough? Focus on eating a diet that includes the foods below:

Vegetables (including beans and lentils) & Fruits

Vegetables contain fiber, minerals (minerals help build your body including your bones, teeth, hair and more), and they are important sources of folate (folic acid), vitamins A and C. Fruits are also an important source of fiber, minerals, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). Folic acid helps the body form new cells including red blood cells. Vitamin A supports eye and skin health while also protecting against infections. Vitamin C is necessary for tissue growth and repair, would healing and keeping gums and teeth healthy. Plus it helps the body absorb iron from plant foods.

Whole Grains

Grains are not only a source of fiber and minerals but they contain the water-soluble B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate. The B vitamins are necessary for metabolism – they help your body use the energy in food. And the B vitamins are also essential for a healthy nervous system.

Fortified Dairy Foods

Milk is the top source of calcium in the diets of Americans over the age of 2. Yogurt and cheese are also calcium-rich. In addition, fortified milk and fortified yogurt also contain vitamin D, which supports bone health, the nervous system, and muscle functioning. More than 90% of Americans do not consume enough vitamin D from foods alone. So, take a look at your diet and add dairy or other foods fortified in calcium and vitamin D. Or, consider a supplement.

People who cut down on their calorie intake, follow restrictive diets (such as a very low carbohydrate diet), eliminate one or more food groups, or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are more likely to fall short on their vitamin and mineral needs. The best thing you can do is eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods (more different, healthy foods means you are more likely to consume more nutrients) and, consider dietary supplements and fortified foods to help fill any nutrient gaps.

SEE ALSO: Healthy Energy – Who May Benefit from a B-Complex Supplement?  and  Why do Water-Soluble Vitamins Need to be Replenished Every Day?

References:

Fulgoni VL. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr 2011;141(10):1847-54.

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Summer Hydration from Water and Foods

Staying Hydrated This Summer

We are currently dealing with some of the hottest days of summer, so it is very important to stay well hydrated especially if you are outside working, hiking, jogging…etc. We all know that we need to stay well hydrated throughout these types of days (and everyday in general) but how do you know if you are well hydrated? How much water should you drink? Can’t you get a good deal of water through your food?

While I have discussed the amount of water that individuals should consume per day, I think it is a good idea that we go back other this issue especially with the oppressive heat some of us are dealing with. Likewise, let’s cover some hydrating foods that you can also add to your diet!

How Much Water?

We know it is vitally important to stay properly hydrated. Our digestive system, brain, and muscle efficiency are all related to how hydrated we are! There are two methods to determine how much water you should drink per day. There is the old adage of drink eight, 8oz glasses a day, for a total of 64 ounces. While this is really not backed by science it has become an easy way for people to remember to drink enough water and is what most doctors will tell you.

Another method which is more personalized to your body weight goes like this: take your body weight and divide it by 2. Whatever number you get is the number of ounces of water you should consume per day. This would basically mean that a 130 pound person should consume at least 65 ounces of water a day. This is a good method because it is correlated to that specific person’s bodyweight. Both of these methods are for average days though; you should try to consume more if you are dealing with high heat and sweating profusely

What are Some Hydrating Foods?

You can get a good deal of water and fiber form many of the hydrating foods out there. In fact, a recent Livestrong article indicated that the Institute of Medicine found that foods make up about 20% of your water intake! One thing that hydrating foods have in common, besides the obvious water content, is that they are high volume and full of fiber which can help fill you up and keep you full! Foods such as cucumbers (maybe the most hydrating food; 96% water), celery (94-95% water), tomatoes (94-95% water), broccoli (91-93% water), strawberries (92% water), watermelon (92% water), cantaloupe (90% water), and peaches (85-87%)are great choices when it comes to hydrating foods!

If you already take vitamin supplements like a multivitamin or a dietary supplement like glucosamine, look for it in liquid form.  That way, you can mix it in your morning smoothie or even your water bottle to give it a little more flavor, and motivate yourself to not only take your supplements, but to get all the fluids you need.

Conclusion

While it is important to remember to drink your 8 (8oz) glasses of water a day during the summer (as through the rest of the year as well) it is also important to remember that a good deal of your hydration actually comes from the things you eat! When it’s hot outside, make sure you and your loved ones are staying well hydrated!

SEE ALSO: Playing in the Heat - Staying Safe On The Hottest Days of Summer

For more nutritional tips and at-home weight loss workouts visit Always Active Athletics: “Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness.”

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Is There Any Difference Being an older Athlete - The Intimacy Talk

Hello blog Fans and older athletes!  I was at the gym this week (of course) and ran into an athlete over 48 who was complaining of a couple of issues:   First, pain in his fingers from arthritis.  Well that was an easy fix - he is now taking liquid glucosamine and chondroitin!

The second issue was not so easy for me to solve. He mentioned that his wife “has about had it with his weekend warrior competitions and the trips to athletic supply stores for gear, when he should be at the home repair store to fetch supplies to fix the back porch and the fence;  plus they never see their friends for dinner anymore.” 

I asked, “Jim, what part is she really not thrilled with?  The time you are gone doing other things not for the house?  The time you are not with her, or is there really something else? “   Jim responded, “Prata, yes, both, and then there is the intimacy issue;  but Prata, I am so tired after training that I just want to sleep and she wants to cuddle and play.” 

Sound familiar? This is a true story that happens to many of us athletes.  Years ago I read an article about the high divorce rate among athletes who are in a committed relationship due to the fact that they were too tired for sex or simply appeared not to prioritize intimacy in the eyes of their partners.    Obviously I am over-simplifying but you get the point.  That said, the topic is real and gritty and it is being written toward the end of this Older Athlete series for a reason.   

I have written about the perceptions of being an older athlete, the medical and financial impact and how they can affect a relationship but this wraps it all up! 

Often, the time commitment is something our mates can adjust to or accept; provided we are equally supportive of their endeavors – even the financial issues can be negotiated better than potential intimacy challenges.  The reason intimacy is often avoided as a topic, is because it is so difficult to talk about.   Nobody really wants to say

“Sorry honey, I just ran 26.2 miles and I need food and sleep and NOT SEX.”    

Often, the topic is avoided, skirted around and animosity builds.  When this topic is not discussed misconceptions happen such as:   the non-athlete partner thinks they are no longer attractive to the other, perceptions of rejection then anger builds or the non-athlete partner thinks that there is a hormonal change or other cause that makes intimacy challenging and thus avoided by the athlete.    

Emotional infidelity is common.  Humans need human contact emotionally and otherwise and if there is a commitment where this understood need is being avoided – basically nothing good comes of it and breakup/divorce has often been a by-product.

Before I say anymore, these sentiments just mentioned are absolutely equal gender opportunity perceptions. 

A female athlete who swims 3 miles, cycles 10 and runs 6 miles and has to cook for the family is in a no different place than a male who runs 26 miles and has to fix the family fence.  If  the woman is fixing the fence and the man is cooking, same story.   

Athlete families/couples have all sorts of different roles – partnered or married Olympians often make many trade-offs as a family to achieve their goal. 

That said, time and energy for intimacy for an athlete can ironically be challenged on several fronts.  In addition to being too physically tired, depending on the level of competition, there can be times where one’s head is more in a different game of life than courting and romance.  The animosity builds not just because of the lack of human contact or affection, but also the appearance of selfishness on the part of the non-athlete.  Distance creeps in and a wedge is created.  Disdain for the sport by the non-athlete is certainly one potential by-product.

Just for the record – if there are two athletes in the family and they are both too tired for intimacy all the time, then this will come to a head eventually too.  Emotional infidelity can also rear its head here. 

This is a delicate topic, yet an important one.  As an athlete myself – I know all about the rejection a partner can feel from my mental focus or my physical exhaustion, not to mention an injury or surgery that precludes intimacy while healing, broken bones, torn ligaments can be managed around and then again as an athlete, you sometimes are so worn out that you just want to heal, not hurt, and go to sleep.  You do not want or have the emotional bandwidth let alone the physical energy to go with family or friends for dinner and eat weird stuff (not in your training diet);  then  try to get some sleep and sacrifice a day or two of being “off”  in training.  It can feel and be very selfish. 

 If you are an athlete, check yourself at the door, or in the mirror; the people in our lives do support us.

At the end of the day, there comes a time in life where the training will likely be second to the relationship, so try to not burn out the relationship which is a long term investment, and we do know that long term investments in the game of life are far superior to a short term gain!  

SEE ALSO:  Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Medical Impact  and  Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Financial Impact  and  10 Tips for Healthy Aging - Don't Act Your Age!

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Playing in the Heat - Staying Safe On The Hottest Days of Summer

There are several factors that can increase your risk of dehydration and heat illness. 

Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling tired while also decreasing your motivation, neuro-muscular control, accuracy, power, strength, muscular endurance and overall performance.

Severe dehydration can leave you overheated by increasing core body temperature, and also strain your heart while possibly even leading to stroke and death. It is therefore very important to stay mindful of the environmental conditions you are training in and adjust your exercise routine, clothing and equipment accordingly so you can play safely and enjoy your favorite activities this summer.   

Exercising in the heat and humidity or at altitude can all increase your risk of dehydration and heat illness, though your body can adapt to these environmental conditions over time.

Experts recommend adjusting your training routine until you become acclimated. If you’re traveling to compete in a hot, humid environment or at altitude, make sure you go there several days early to give your body time to adjust. Also, exercise in the shade as much as possible and early in the morning or late afternoon or evening. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am – 4 pm and therefore, you should limit your time outside during these hours.

Keep in mind that clothing and equipment can increase your risk of dehydration, but can protect you as well.

  • Exercise in light, yet tightly woven (for sun protection), clothing
  • Be mindful of how much time is spent exercising in equipment
  • Protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun with a hat (try a lightweight one that has UPF – UV protection factor) and sunscreen with a SPF of 30.
  • Use a broad spectrum lip balm
  • Wear Sunglasses that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements.” 

Sunscreens with a higher SPF protect you from UVB rays – the kind that burns your skin. However, the SPF doesn’t tell you anything about protection from UVA rays, the kind that age your skin and contribute to skin cancer. Look for the term “broad spectrum” which means the sunscreen helps protect against UVA and UVB rays. Also, the following ingredients help protect from both UVA and UVB rays: avobenzone (Parsol 1789), ecamsule, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide.

Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or more often if you have been in the water, sweated or wiped your face or body. For more information, check out the American Cancer Society’s website by clicking here.

Guidelines for staying hydrated during exercise:

Before Activity

Drink 0.08 - 0.11 oz of fluid per pound body weight at least 4 hours prior to exercise. If you are dehydrated (as noted by not having to go to the bathroom or not peeing very much), sip on an additional 0.045 – 0.077 oz of fluid per pound of body weight 2 hours before exercise.

During Activity

For short duration activity lasting less than one hour, you can meet your fluid needs with water. However, when exercising for more than one hour, drink 3 – 8 ounces of a chilled sports drink that contains sodium and other electrolytes every 10 - 20 minutes. Sports drinks help hydrate, replace electrolytes and provide carbohydrate for energy.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children weighing 40 lbs should drink 5 oz. of cold water or a flavored salted beverage every 20 minutes during practice and adolescents weighing 132 lbs drink 9 oz. even if they do not feel thirsty. Make sure kids try this in practice first, before competition, since that’s a lot of fluid.

After Activity

After exercise, fluid and electrolyte losses should be completely replenished by having athletes consume 20-24 ounces of fluids for every pound of body weight lost within six hours after training. Athletes can choose a sports drink or plain water alongside foods that contain sodium chloride (or they can salt their foods). If you don’t weigh yourself before and after exercising, just be sure to consume enough fluid so your urine is very light in color and plentiful.

SEE ALSO: Sunshine, Sunscreen and Vitamin D - What's most beneficial?

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Three Recent Studies to Shape Your Health Perspective

Our views of fitness and health are constantly evolving as we find new and more effective ways to get fit and stay healthy. Many times we are guided by the science that comes out in the fields of nutrition and exercise physiology in order to make more informed decisions. Here are three very recent studies that should help shape your health perspectives by enabling you to live healthier and smarter.

Study #1: Exercise Doesn’t Have to Be a Marathon

Get this; you don’t have to exercise for a long duration multiple days of the week in order to experience the amazing health benefits of exercise. In fact, you don’t even have to vigorously exercise for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended 75 minutes a week to see amazing benefits.

Recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology a study was published that indicated that short burst of exercise, multiple times a week (even totaling fewer than 60 minutes a week) on a persistent basis is just as effective in improving your health than long duration exercise!  For instance, just by habitually running in general you have an overall 30% less risk of mortality. But it was also found that people who ran less than 60 minutes a week received the SAME health benefits as people who ran 3 times more over the course of a week. It all came down to doing it persistently; running on a persistent basis for 6 years or more was the largest factor. Now you literally have no more excuses of “not having enough time to exercise”, this study tells us that there is basically always enough time to get the benefits of exercise!

Study #2: Keep the Bad Foods You Love in Your Diet

How many times have you heard fitness or health professionals say that you have to quit eating those high caloric foods no matter how much you love them? While moderating the consumption of these foods is a good idea, cutting them out cold turkey usually leads to overeating later on which is never sustainable.

A recent study from Vanderbilt University tells the opposite actually. The study found that in order to train your brain and convince yourself to eat healthier you must keep these foods you love. The study found that the individuals that were best able to convince themselves to eat healthier were there ones that kept these “vice” foods in their diet. While they did keep them in their diet they actually started to eat less while increasing the portions of healthier foods. So when it comes to keeping the foods you love in your diet, if they are unhealthy make sure as with all things nutrition to eat them in moderation while also increasing the consumption of healthier foods!

Study #3: Your Workout Doesn’t Have to Be Complex

Literally all of the workout routines out there nowadays seem to be getting more and more complex. From pyramid sets to complex resting intervals, whatever happened to the traditional strength training routine? Sometimes the old saying “Keep It Simple Stupid” (KISS) really works and it very well may be the case when it comes to increasing your strength.

A very recent study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that a simple workout routine performed at a high-intensity was just as effective as a complex workout (with intricate resting periods and order of exercise) in building strength. The researchers claimed that when it comes to adding complexity to your workout like varying resting intervals that was up to the user’s discretion because as long as you perform the workout at a high-intensity you will still see results!

Wrap-Up

Science can teach us many things but is not always the final word. Science and research are great at guiding us on the right path to make things easier for us when it comes to fitness and health but it really all comes down to what works for you and your own personal preference. Use these three recent studies to help guide you on your path to a healthier you!

SEE ALSO:  Strength Training to Combat Osteoporosis

For more at-home fitness, nutritional tips, and recipes visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness!

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Rec-League Summer Sports Safety

Adult recreation league sports are a great, fun way to get a little exercise while enjoying your friends. Every time I've played in a league I find it a nice break from my competitive sports days. And even though you may not feel the need to go all out to dive after a softball, chase a soccer ball or block a shot during a basketball game, you still run the risk of getting injured.

In adults, injuries typically come from overuse. As adults, are bodies aren't quite as limber as they were when we were kids. And, previous years as a competitive athlete may mean you have more wear and tear on your joints than some of your sedentary friends. Also, excess body weight can take a toll on your joints. Combine excess weight with athletics and you will definitely stress your knees, back and other joints.

So, how can you stay limber and lower your risk of injury?  

1) Keep trying to lose excess body fat (rec-league sports are a great start!) In addition to putting you at risk for a variety of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, being overweight or obese stresses your joints. In fact, those who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis (wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions joints). Osteoarthritis can cause painful, stiff joints and limit your activity.

2) Talk to your physical therapist or physician about glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.  They may be right for you, and can help make an active lifestyle more comfortable on your joints.

3) Warm up. Dynamic warm-ups (as opposed to just sitting and stretching) help get your body ready for activity.

4) Wear the right equipment, safety gear, clothes and shoes that fit properly. Also make sure you are wearing the right type of shoes for the sport you are playing.

5) Cool down to get your heart rate down gradually when you are finished.

6) Build up your exercise routine or training gradually. And, if you are in pain, stop.

If you have nagging injuries, consider going to a physical therapist that specializes in sports and can help you correct muscle imbalances, areas you are tight, poor bio mechanics and more. Poor movement patterns can increase your risk of developing an acute or chronic overuse injury. And finally, see an orthopedist if you are hurt. “Toughing it out,” can lead to a bigger problem than you started with. For more information about preventing and treating injuries, click here

SEE ALSO:  Concentrating on Long-Term Joint Health

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The Joint Health Equation, Equal Parts Exercise and Nutrition

Its pretty well known that low impact and resistance strengthening exercise is critical to joint health, whether you're in preventive/maintenance mode, or actively working on joints already in distress.  Activities like swimming, yoga, walking and other low-impact resistance exercises are regularly recommended.  But did you know that while exercise is essential to healthy bones and joints, its only half of the equation?

Great nutrition, quality food and sometimes additional supplementation make up the other, equally critical part of keeping joints and bones in good working order.    

There are important nutrients that contribute to keeping your joints healthy.  Minerals such as copper, calcium and mangenese, naturally occurring quercitin, omega-3s, vitamins D, C, and E all contribute on a structural and cellular level to keeping joint tissues strong, flexible and healthy.

Look to the following foods (among others) to increase your intake of these joint-focused nutrients:

Wild Salmon - good source of Omega 3s and Vitamin D

Apples - Unpeeled, quercitin concentrates strongest under the skin and is essential to the formation of collagen in joints

Black Beans - Loaded with mangenese and a full panel of amino acids 

Kale - Healthy bone go-to vegetable, supplies calcium, copper and mangenese, which activates enzymes needed for tissue repair

Broccoli - An alphabet soup of important vitamins and calcium

Ginger - possible anti-inflammatory properties

Lifescript.com has more in-depth information about these foods and their links to good joint health.

And if you want to do further research on other supplements thought to promote good joint health, take a further look into these ingredients. The NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the Mayo Clinic websites both have search functions for easy research.

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin
  • Collagen
  • Aloe
  • Tart Cherry Extract or Concentrate

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements likely have the most scientific studies behind their use to promote joint health.  But as we know, everyone's body different, and you never know what may work best for you!

SEE ALSO: Concentrating on Long-Term Joint Health

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Have You Considered Probiotics Yet?

Probiotics are one of nature’s super foods. These tiny microorganisms found in foods such as yogurt, sour cream, and sauerkraut can truly help us in so many ways. By simply consuming probiotics with a high CFU (colony forming units; shoot for at least 109 CFU) on a regular basis, you can possibly help prevent asthma/skin reactions to allergies, treat/repair stomach ulcers, and prevent the flu and the common cold! Let’s break down these benefits of consuming probiotics in more detail:

Helps Prevent Allergies

One common cause of asthma is food allergies ~ probiotics have been found, in some studies, to be able to calm the inflammation associated with these foods reactions. This helps to prevent and reduce the symptoms of asthma such as coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. Probiotics are able to do this because they help ramp up and regulate our immune systems reactions to allergens in general, therefore reducing some of the symptoms of asthma.

Another common symptom of allergies is skin reactions or eczema (this often occurs more in infants and toddlers). One study looked at the effect of probiotics on eczema by having pregnant mothers regularly consume probiotics. The infants (from birth to 3 months old) of the mothers who consumed probiotics compared to a placebo group were half as likely to have eczema.

Helps Treat and Repair Stomach Ulcers

Research has found that probiotics may be more effective than traditional antibiotics at treating stomach ulcers induced by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Research has illustrated that the long-term consumption of probiotics can actually help reduce ulcers caused by H. pylori and in fact reverse some damage (this research was conducted on mice). Even if you don’t have ulcers, the regular consumption of probiotics can help maintain a healthy intestinal and digestive health.

Helps Prevent and Reduce Colds and Flu

Besides the fact that probiotics can help increase the health of our digestive system, they can also help prevent and reduce the effects of other common illnesses like colds and flu. Probiotics can help boost our immune system so much that it allows our body to fight off these kinds of attacks and also contributes to our ability to recover from these illnesses more quickly!

Wrap-Up

All-in-all probiotics should be a welcome addition to your diet. They can provide you with a plethora of benefits from improving your intestinal health to helping your immune system fight off the common cold! One thing to make sure when choosing a probiotic is that it contains multiple strains of clinically tested bacteria and that it has a 109 CFU count. Whether you get your probiotic fix from yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, or a supplement it’s amazing what a tiny microorganism can do!

SEE ALSO: Why You Need a Healthy Balance of Intestinal Bacteria and  6 Secrets to Better Digestive Health

For more at-home fitness, workouts, and nutritional tips visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness. 

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The Healthy Way to Road Trip This Summer

Last summer I decided I would drive 20 hours round trip for vacation. And because I try was trying to make each part of my drive as short as possible, I made 2 brief stops during each 10-hour drive. As a dietitian I had plenty of healthy snacks with me but there are two things I neglected – moving my body and better posture while driving. As a result I ended up at a rest stop in one of the Carolinas bending over to stretch my back, hamstrings and butt muscles that seemed to be stuck in a sitting position. Needless to say I’m better prepared this year after finding a few solutions to a more comfortable drive: 

Better Posture

When I get lazy, I slump. So, I have to remind myself to sit up straight or wear an intelliskin, which prompts me to maintain better posture. Also, it helps to make sure I’m close enough to the steering wheel so I’m not reaching and so my shoulders are square against the back of my seat, my head is against the head rest and the creases at the back of my knees are not flesh with the end of the seat (this may cut off blood flow). For more information on sitting posture (including pictures), click here. Also, if your car seat doesn't adjust to meet your needs, consider checking out removable back supports, butt cushions and neck supports to make it more comfortable.

Food & Drinks

Staying well hydrated will make you feel better, ensure you can focus and concentrate, keep your body from overheating and make you get up every few hours to go to the bathroom (and therefore, walk around). How do you know if you are well hydrated? You should need to use the bathroom every few hours (at least) and your urine color should look like dilute lemonade (though some medications, B vitamins and supplements may make urine bright yellow, so if this is the case, just ensure that you are producing a good quantity of urine). Caffeine is okay and will not dehydrate you but keep it to a minimum – you shouldn't need to constantly sip on caffeine in order to stay awake.

I keep snacks with me when I travel and I like having smaller meals (or mini meals) every few hours rather than big meals that can make me tired. I love snacking on:

  • Apples (though a little messy), bananas, grapes
  • Baby carrots
  • Protein bars
  • Nuts (un-shelled of course)
  • Cheese sticks or mini cheese snacks (if individually pre-packaged these can be left un-refrigerated for hours)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches

More Breaks

And finally, this year I’ll take more breaks. Sitting all day makes my body stiff. Not to mention sitting for hours is hazardous to your health

SEE ALSO:  Staying Cool this Summer While Exercising

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The Art and Practice of Staying Active

Calling it an art may be an overstatement, but staying active every single day can be hard! I’m constantly telling my clients that the main thing about getting the fitness and weight loss results they want is simply staying active (nutrition is a completely different subject which will be saved for another article). Apart from strength training at least 3 times a week, on the so called “off” days you need to stay active as well. 

It’s amazing how much staying active for 45 minutes on your off days will do to your weight loss goals because it is all about creating a caloric deficit every day. I’m not talking  about a 2000 caloric deficit everyday but just small steady deficits over the long run will result in sustainable weight loss and this can all be done be staying active along with proper nutrition aside.

5 Tips for Staying Active

Three Strikes and You’re Out 

Many people need to log their activities in order to fulfill their fitness obligations. If you are one of them get a blank calendar and for everyday you stay active (weight training session or 45+ minutes of activity) place a big black “X” in that box and for everyday you skip place a big red “X” in that box. As with baseball you never want to get three large strikes. If you do get 3 strikes it will motivate you to get active the next day!

Get Someone or Something Involved 

You know how it is easier to do things when others are going along as well? Well get a partner and go for hikes, swims, walks, or jogs together. Or if you got a pup just lying around doing nothing, leash him/her up and take them for a walk or a run. You will both get the benefits of being outside and enjoying each other’s company!

Be Spontaneous 

Only walking for your activity can get boring, make sure to change it up and keep it fresh. Try swimming laps or rock climbing or even kayaking to get a different experience and keep things unique. Boredom and being mundane can lead to days of sitting on the couch instead of being active.

Book It 

Listening to nature as you walk is a great way to pass the time but can be boring for many people. One great way to overcome this is by listening to audio books while you are staying active. It’s amazing how fast times goes when you are deep within an audio book and completely hooked; you won’t even realize you have been walking for 60 minutes instead of your typical 45!

Change Your Outlook 

Losing weight and fitting into last year’s swimsuit are some good goals don’t get me wrong, but sometimes they seem too far away therefore causing us to not truly give it our best every day. What does skipping today have to do with fitting into that dress next summer (that mentality is rampant)? One way is to change your outlook and rephrase your short term goals. Try staying active and working up a sweat just to feel better after you are done. There is nothing better than that endorphin rush you get after a good workout. Workout to feel better today as well as to lose that weight in total 5 months down the road!

Wrap-Up

It really can be difficult to stay active every single day, but that is the key to weight loss (along with nutrition) and sustainable weight loss at that! Implement these 5 tips in order to be a healthier you! Plus, who wouldn't want that endorphin rush after listening to a great audio book while walking your dog on an amazing summer evening?

SEE ALSO: Good Health and Good Habits go Hand in Hand

Need more tips for staying active and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet? Visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness!

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Are You Making Sense of Supplements? Let Us Help!

In some ways medicine seems so advanced. In other ways, medical science is still in the beginning stages of discovering the big picture of how our body uses nutrients and how they all interact in our bodies. There are so many little components and processes that haven’t been completely explored, and many that cannot be directly observed.

Nothing works in isolation in our body. Identifying all of the processes one antioxidant or nutrient is part of or responsible for is an incredibly difficult task. 

Add to that the physiological differences in every unique human body and we are left making healthy decisions using general guidelines and recommendations rather than hard numbers.


To figure out what levels of any nutrient, dietary supplement or food may be best for you given your health status, activity level, current dietary intake and goals, it is important to sit down with a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in your area of need or type of goal. If you want to lose weight, go to someone who specializes in this, if you have Type 1 diabetes and you are an athlete, go to a RD who works with diabetic athletes.

 

There really is no substitute for a thorough analysis, including laboratory tests of existing nutrient levels that can then be integrated into a specific diet and supplement plan to get you on the right track to a balanced, nutrient-rich body.

 

Following the general guidelines is a good place to start, if you don’t feel a full nutrient-by-nutrient workup is in order. Recommended Daily Intake values for common vitamins and minerals are in most retail brands. 

 

Be sure to check the brand out thoroughly though, so you know you've picked a quality brand that uses quality ingredients.

 

As always, the type of supplement you choose should depend on personal preference and compliance – what will you continue to take on a regular basis. Because, after all, if you don’t continue taking it regularly, there’s really no point in buying it to begin with!  

 

If you are tired of swallowing yet another pill, try taking liquid supplements instead.  It does make taking your essential supplements each day a little easier, and the quality of ingredients tends to be higher grade in order to make them work well in liquid form.  They’re easy to mix into protein shakes, morning smoothies, or to take as a straight shot!

 

SEE ALSO:  Three Easy Ways to Get the Best Ingredients For a Healthier Lifestyle

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The Endless Possibilities of Planks - Why You Should Love Them Too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In days past, the go-to exercise for the abdominal muscles was sit-ups which then turned into the crunch. Over the last couple of years the newest abdominal go-to exercise, or fad as you might call it, is the plank. The plank involves holding yourself in a push-up position (or resting on your elbows) for a predetermined period of time while keeping your body as straight as possible during this time.

For an easier or modified position, you can rest your knees on the ground while in the plank position to make them easier for beginners. The main point is to have your midsection off the ground and straight as possible. How can this be so effective you might ask?

Why Planks Work

Holding yourself in a static (isometric exercise) for an extended period of time can help strengthen the core muscles. The plank position really helps the body work on your stabilizing muscles and this is exactly what the core muscles are mainly used for; stabilizing the spine (keeping it from moving) and therefore your posture. Why planks work so great at doing this is because they make you hold that position/posture for an extended period of time.

While crunches and sit-ups really only hit the abs, a plank will work the entire core form your lower back muscles to your obliques. This makes it a really a great core exercise and this of course has caused its rapid increase in popularity!

The Planks Endless Possibilities

When it comes to performing the plank exercise there is literally an endless variety of possibilities. You can basically be your own plank master! One common alternative to the normal plank include the side plank which helps strengthen a different part of your core, lower back, and the deep inner abdominal muscles.  To perform the exercise rest on one elbow while your feet are laying sideways on the floor and hold your midsection off the ground by contracting the core (see below).

 

 

 

 

 

          Other alternatives involve raising one leg up at a time to exercise the glutes and also work on your stability as well! Finally you can also bring one knee at a time up to your side or elbow during the plank to tax the abdominals even more!

Integrate Planks!

Do not be scared to throw the plank into your exercise program! The modified version is a great way to help build your core strength. Start by trying to perform a modified plank for 20 seconds and progress from there each day. You can progress by 5 second at a time until you reach 1 minute or until you are ready to move up to a normal plank. Planks can be one of the best core exercises you can possibly do and having a strong core can really increase your quality of life! Start strengthening your core with the plank today! 

SEE ALSO:  Get Physical For Free! Body Weight Exercises for Top Fitness

GUEST BLOGGER: JOSH ANDERSON  Josh is a fitness professional who runs Always Active Athletics where he provides sustainable at-home fitness and nutritional tips to help you get in the best shape of your life! 

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