Archive | August, 2010

Three Easy Ways to Incorporate the Summer’s Plentiful Bounty

7 Aug

1.    Enjoy the thrill of the grill!  Summer provides an opportunity to eat more local fresh foods with an abundance of hearty veggies and stone fruits.  Grilling is a great way to enjoy those summer fruits and vegetables.  Here are some tips for grilling and exploring exotic oils and reductions to compliment your veggies and fruit.

  • Fresh Vegetables: Be sure to grill fresh veggies over medium heat in order to cook evenly and retain some moisture.  Because a lot of the moisture is evaporated during the grilling process, the sugars become more condensed and the flavors become more concentrated.  Add a drizzle of walnut, macadamia nut, or sesame oil to create a more exotic array of tastes.  Top with fresh ground pepper and Celtic sea salt.
  • Fresh Fruit: Grill fresh fruit over indirect heat and remember that a large majority of fruit is water-based, so be sure to let it cool slightly before serving as it’s internal temperature will be quite hot and could burn your mouth!  While grilling, reduce 1/4c of balsamic vinegar over medium-high heat to a syrup-like consistence. Drizzle over fresh grilled fruit for savory-sweet candy-like finish.

2.    Experiment with new greens! Spinach, asparagus, and broccoli are plentiful and pretty common veggies across cultures.  But what do you do with kale? Fennel? Both are excellent additions to grilled, poached, or plank wild salmon or halibut.  Kale is a superfood famous for it’s high content of Vitamin A, which is fat-soluble.  Therefore, Kale requires cooking or finishing in fat in order for the Vit.A to be absorbed.  Fennel is an excellent digestive aid and a natural treatment for anemia.  Here are some tips for cooking Kale and Fennel.

  • Kale is bitter when raw. But once rinsed, stripped of its center spine, and massaged with course sea salt, it is a beautiful base for a salad.  Mix with roasted almonds or pecans, raw goat cheese, dried currants, and raw mushrooms for a nutty summer salad.
  • To enjoy fennel, cut off the frawns and trim the outer layer.  Slice thin, and toss in coconut oil (virgin, unrefined), half-butter/half olive oil, or bacon-fat, with garlic, shallots, carrots, and celery or cabbage and cook over a medium-high heat.  Add salt, pepper, and drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar and enjoy the candied flavor of your veggies!

3.    Learn the art of canning.  Take a little time to preserve your extra summer produce for the fall and winter months ahead.  Plan a day with friends and family sharing the labor and the food!  Be sure to separate the various types of foods prior to the day of canning to ensure the equipment and/or food does not get contaminated.  Want to learn how to preserve?  Ask our friends at Happy Girl Kitchens (www.happygirlkitchen.com) .

For more info or to share your own superfood recipes and ideas, please email analisa@focusedtrainers.com.   Look for our selection of exotic oils, fresh canned goods, and hand-made snacks among F.I.T.’s artisanal food products.

Nutrient Density and Health

7 Aug

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, nutrient-dense foods are foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients with relatively few calories.  Vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats and nuts are considered nutrient-dense foods, while products containing sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol are not.  The opposite of nutrient dense foods is “calorie-dense foods” or foods containing empty calories, such as soda, processed and refined starch (such as crackers or white bread) and beer.

Large population studies looking at dietary habits found higher rates of obesity and an assortment of diseases in people consuming calorie-dense foods.  It has been hypothesized that eating more nutrient dense foods would result in less calorie intake, which would potentially aid in maintaining a healthy weight.  Unfortunately, human studies in this area are lacking.

However, research suggests that a number of diseases involve the uncontrolled destruction of various cells.  This process is referred to as oxidation.  Oxidation occurs whenever oxygen interacts with another cell; it is ubiquitous and never stops 24 hours a day.  Our body is armed with some natural defenses that usually control harmful oxidized byproducts, but it is the uncontrolled oxidation of cells that creates disease and pathologies.  Foods that contain “antioxidants” prevent the likelihood of oxidation, and potentially decrease the risk of certain diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Antioxidants are found primarily in fresh veggies (especially cruciferous veggies), fruits, nuts, meat and fish.  Each food contains its own amount of antioxidants and other nutrients.  Therefore, an assortment of nutrient dense foods is necessary to get the most beneficial array of nutrients and antioxidants.  Nuts in particular have a variety of nutrients, but their nutrient concentrations vary by type.  For example, almonds are high in antioxidants, while walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent cardiovascular disease and regulate blood sugar.  Both nutrients are needed for optimal health.  Because few foods contain all needed nutrients to live optimally, variety is essential to achieve favorable health.

In general, fresh, locally grown vegetables are the most nutrient-dense of all food groups.  Certain nutrients found in fresh food decreases over time when exposed to light, heat, and air.  For this reason, it is better to ingest foods that are farmed locally and require minimal time from harvest to plate.  After vegetables, the next groups of nutrient-dense foods are fish, followed by meats and various fruits.  A diet centered on a variety of these foods will lead to a healthier you now and for years to come.

Exercise for life

7 Aug

Physical activity is one of the vital pillars of longevity.  In fact, studies have found that a well-rounded fitness program can lengthen an individual’s lifespan.  At F.I.T., we recommend an active lifestyle that not only includes low to moderate physical activity on a daily bases, but also incorporates exercises that require greater skill and higher intensity.  An example would be a multi-directional movement where all major muscle groups are being used while completing full range of motion, such as an Olympic-style lift.  This type of movement not only improves muscle activation and coordination, but also optimizes metabolic responses.  The key is to an active lifestyle is to participate in a variety of activities that include all aspects of fitness: cardiorespiratory, muscular, flexibility, speed, agility, reaction time, and coordination.

5 Tips to fit activity into your life:

  • Change Your Lifestyle: Make the decision and then make the change.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, ideally you want to get in 30-90 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine.  This may be challenging with your business, so try prioritizing and scheduling physical activities.  You are more likely to fit in physical activity if it has a designated day and time.
  • Set Goals Big AND Small: This may be the most important activity immediately following your decision to be more active.  Have a big goal, like becoming more physically fit, and then get simple and specific like accomplishing one strict push-up or climbing the stairs without getting out of breath. Create stages for your goals so that you can slowly chip away at them.
  • Get a coach: You might not know where to start or need a little guidance; there are people out there who can help maximize your efforts and help you reach your goals successfully.  Coaches and personal trainers not only assist with developing an appropriate exercise program, they can also be great motivators and provide accountability.
  • Partner train or join a Group: Change up or recharge your routine with a partner, group session or CrossFit! In a group setting, you are surrounded by like-minded individuals who become part of your support system. The group will get you energized, which will create a fun, competitive, yet safe atmosphere where you are working harder than you never thought possible. The camaraderie of people/partners pulling for you and saying “good job” does more than you realize for your motivation and sense of well-being.
  • Play: Make it fun.  Everyone defines play differently, so get creative and get active.  It can be a sport like softball or soccer, training for a charity event, playing with the kids, flying a kite, coaching a youth sport, or even walking/running with your dog.  Try something completely new that your body has never experienced.

Now, get out there, extend your life, and be active!
Disclaimer:  Before you get started in any exercise program, please contact your physician.

References:
American College of Sports Medicine, 1997.  Guidelines for healthy adults under 65.  Retrieved by:
http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home_Page&TEMPLATE=CM/ HTMLDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=7764
Paffenbarger et al, (July 1994).  Changes in physical activity and other lifeway patterns influencing longevity.  Medicine and Science in Sports Medicine, Volume 26, Issue 7.  Retrieved by:
http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/1994/07000
Changes_in_physical_activity_and_other_lifeway.8.aspx

Social Wellness: A Benefit of Group Training

7 Aug

When it comes to physical well-being, exercise is considered an essential part of wellness. In the case of exercise at F.I.T., the contribution of group training to social wellness should not be overlooked.

It was at the end of an hour session during a very intense (remember intensity is relative) workout, and Mike was fighting through “one of those days.” Mike wasn’t going to quit, he never does.  But what I really found inspiring about that day was the other 5 group members.  They stayed after the session to cheer Mike on to the end.  And, after Mike finished the workout laying on the floor exhausted, the group helped break down his barbell and cleaned-up.  That’s CrossFIT at F.I.T.: everyone working as hard as they can, pushing themselves to their individual limit, and sharing the experience.

We’ve all been where Mike was at some point in our training.  And what I love about training with the CrossFIT group is that when I’m not having my strongest day, the motivation and support the group provides will push me through the workout.  Then there are the days that the WOD (workout of the day) favors my skills and I’m able to be the inspiration for others in the class.  It goes both ways and it changes direction daily just like the WODs.

There is inherent competition in the group setting and we welcome it because it
pushes us beyond what we thought we were capable of and allows us to reach our next level of fitness.  But more important than competition, there is a camaraderie that bonds the group, makes the workout enjoyable, and keeps everyone positive and consistent with their training, which is ultimately the key to everyone’s success.

The above example is why we consider the community at F.I.T. to be a key ingredient to the wellness and success of our clients.  Having a connection to the people in a workout group not only increases adherence to an exercise program, but, as we know and studies support, exercise is more fun when done with friends.

Wellness: A Goal for Optimal Health and Longevity

7 Aug

The term wellness has become increasingly popular in the media.  In the health and fitness industry, wellness is considered synonymous with optimal health and well-being.  Interestingly, no one comes into the gym with the stated purpose of improving wellness.  Maybe that’s because wellness has not been well defined.  Or, perhaps it’s because wellness is so complex.  What are we working on when our goal is wellness?

According to Dr. Charles B. Corbin, a professor in the department of Exercise and Wellness at Arizona State University, wellness is defined as “a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.”  Two key ideas: multidimensional and positive or optimal health.  Wellness is multidimensional.  In fact, experts have defined not one, not two, but six dimensions of wellness!  All six dimensions are interrelated and work together to yield greater quality of life and sense of well-being.  Therefore, attention must be paid to each of the six dimensions to attain positive health.

Six Dimensions of Wellness:

•    Physical wellness – is not just over all health or the absence of disease, but includes nutrition, level of fitness, and the ability to care for oneself.

•    Emotional wellness – is the ability to understand and deal with emotions, as well as the ability to share feelings in a healthy and meaningful manor.  For example, identifying triggers for stress, managing anger, monitoring reactions, and finding appropriate responses to situations.

•    Intellectual wellness – is the ability to constantly challenge our minds. Intellectual wellness requires life long learning, and seeking out new experiences and challenges. Additional examples include being open to new ideas, and developing the capacity to question and think critically.

•    Interpersonal/Social wellness – is the ability to develop and maintain satisfying and supportive relationships. Social wellness also requires participation in and contribution to our community, country, and world.  Additional forms of interpersonal/social wellness include developing good communication skills, and having the capacity for intimacy.

•    Spiritual wellness – is not limited to an affiliation with religious organizations, rather it is the sense of belonging to something greater than oneself, and includes a set of guiding beliefs, principles or values that provide purpose and meaning to life.

•    Environmental wellness – refers to livable surroundings, and includes the degree of violence and hazards in the environment.  For example, the availability of clean natural resources, exposure to crime and domestic violence, as well as abusive behaviors all affect environmental wellness.

Interestingly, the six dimensions of wellness are reflected in Buettner’s suggested guidelines for longevity.  For example, physical wellness is reflected in the recommendations to move, cut calories, and make good food choices.   Spiritual wellness is represented in the idea of having purpose in one’s life and a believe system to support spiritual growth; and interpersonal wellness resonates with the ideas of belonging and putting loved ones first.

Positive health and vitality are largely determined by our choices.  When we start to make lifestyle changes that allow us to reach our optimal potential, we are working on wellness.  The key is balance.  All the dimensions of wellness are interrelated, for example a healthy diet will positively affect our ability to be more physically active, and managing stress will improve interpersonal relationships as well as physical health.  This means that improvement is not only possible; it is an essential part of the continuing journey toward a long, happy and healthy life.

Click here to take the Wellness Quiz

Reference:

Definition of wellness http://definitionofwellness.com/

Fahey, Insel, & Roth.  (2009).  Fit & Well. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Buettner’s Quick Reference Guide to Health and Longevity

7 Aug

In today’s busy world, people are always looking for the most efficient way to do all the things they need to do, including taking care of themselves and their families.  We encourage clients to be mindful of their habits outside of F.I.T., whether working toward a specific goal or simply trying to live as healthy as possible.  In the book, The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner compiled data from communities around the world with disproportionate numbers of centurions.  His objective was to discover any commonalities.  Below is a list of common practices that resulted from Buettner’s data, and serves as a quick reference guide to optimal health that F.I.T. endorses.

• Move – Participate in regular, low-intensity physical activity daily.

• Cut calories – Stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full.

• Make good food choices – Eat more vegetables, fewer processed foods.

• Grapes of life – Enjoy a glass or two of wine, beer or spirits per day consistently and in moderation.

• Purpose – Why do you wake up in the morning?

• Downshift – Take time to relieve stress and appreciate life.

• Belong – Create a healthful social network.

• Believe – Forge a spiritual or religious connection.

• Loved ones first – Make family a priority.

Throughout our lives, there are choices to make.  How we choose to age is just one of the many.  It’s never too early or too late to start taking care of yourself.  You will reap the benefits now and in the future by prioritizing the care of your body, mind and spirit in whichever positive ways come naturally to you.

Wellness Quiz

5 Aug

The following quiz provides some general information about your current state of wellness.  Each question has a point value.  Answer each question to the best of your knowledge and add up the points.

1.    I exercise regularly:

a.    I do not exercise  – 1 pt
b.    1-2 times per week – 3 pt
c.    3-5 times per week – 5 pt

2.    My exercise regimen consists of:

a.    I do not exercise – 1 pt
b.    Either cardiorespiratory and resistance exercises, but not both – 3 pt
c.    Both cardiorespiratory and resistance exercises – 5 pt

3.    I perform stretching exercises:

a.    I do not exercise – 1pt
b.    1-2 times per week – 3 pt
c.    3-5 times per week – 5 pt

4.    If you are a male, is your waist size greater than 102 cm or 40 inches?

a.    Yes – 1 pt
b.    No – 5 pt

5.    If you are a female, is your waist size greater than 88 cm or 35 inches?

a.    Yes – 1 pt
b.    No – 5 pt

6.    I feel rested when I awake after a night’s sleep:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

7.    Overall I feel stress in my life:

a.    Every day – 1 pt
b.    Most days – 2 pt
c.    Occasionally – 3 pt
d.    Rarely – 4 pt
e.    Never – 5 pt

8.    I use techniques such as relaxation, exercise, meditation or yoga to manage my stress:

a.    Never -1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

9.    I feel my life has meaning and purpose:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

10.    I generally have a positive outlook on life:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

11.    My mind is sharp:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

12.    I am forgetful:

a.    Always – 1 pt
b.    Frequently -2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Rarely – 4 pt
e.    Never – 5 pt

13.    I follow a set of values or beliefs:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

14.    I consume a diet containing at least 3-5 servings of vegetables and 1-3 servings of fruit a day:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

15.    I am tolerant of others views:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

16.    I feel connected to my community, family and/or friends:

a.    Never – 1 pt
b.    Rarely – 2 pt
c.    Sometimes – 3 pt
d.    Frequently – 4 pt
e.    Always – 5 pt

Scoring:

Total points

80 – 68
Congratulations, you are living a healthy lifestyle.  Keep up the good work.

67 – 52
You are obviously on the path to greater wellness.  Go back to the sections with the lowest scores and consider ways to improve those areas.

51 – 40
Wellness may not have been a current priority.  Consider some changes that could move you toward greater wellness and a healthier lifestyle.

Less than 40
Your current state of wellness is low.  This could greatly increase the risk of illness and decrease your quality of life.  Consider one or two changes that could move you toward greater wellness and a healthier lifestyle.

This quiz is for informational purposes only and is not intended to give medical advice or replace the information given by a healthcare practitioner.

Adapted from Dr. Bruce Forciea’s Wellness Quiz http://www.informationalhealing.com/wellnessquizz.html

American Ninja Warrior-Pre-competition interview with Angelo

5 Aug

I had an opportunity to interview Angelo before he headed out for Venice Beach.

Q. What made you decide to enter the competition?

A. A few years ago, I saw the Ninja Warrior competition on TV (called Sasuke in Japan where it originates) and I was drawn to it immediately.  It looked like a fun and exciting challenge and I just knew it was something I had to do.

When it was announced that American Ninja Warrior was recruiting top athletes to compete in Japan, I couldn’t pass it up.  I’m in the healthiest state that I’ve ever been in my whole life and I think the best thing to do right now is put it to the test.

Q. I understand this is the world’s most difficult obstacle course, what does the course consist of?

A. The Sasuke competition in Japan consists of 4 stages (or 4 different obstacle courses) that challenge agility, strength, speed, balance and the ability to use your body in different ways to get from one point to another.  Every year the obstacles get more difficult.

Q. Will the tryout course be similar to the actual course in Japan?

A. Yes.  At American Ninja Warrior there will be a set up of similar obstacles of those in Japan.   The course will involve such things as swinging or climbing on a rope, jumping and traversing a “tunnel” with  hands and feet (without touching the ground), and running up a 14 foot wall.  I’ve been told that 270 competitors are scheduled to compete this weekend in Venice Beach.  By sending in my video, I was guaranteed a spot to compete at 2pm this Sunday.  They will take the top 30 and have a showdown on Monday, then have another battle to determine the top 15 who will train for a week for the Sasuke competition in September, but only 10 will make it.

Q. Do you have a strategy for the tryout competition?

A. I’ve searched for videos of the American Ninja Warrior competition held last year to get an idea of what it entails and how the previous winners did on the course.  My main strategy is to just take each challenge one at a time, stay in the moment, focus on what I’m doing, and enjoy it as much as possible.

Q. Will the tryout competition be broadcast on cable or web?

A. G4, the TV network that airs the Ninja Warrior and hosts the American  Ninja Warrior competition, will broadcast it on TV at some point.  I don’t think it will be live, but we can find out when it will air.  Also, they may post highlights on YouTube as they have with last year’s competition.

Q. How can we follow your progress?

A. Come down to Venice Beach with me!  I’ll email videos or photos if you like and you can post them.  I’m excited.  It’ll be fun time.

Check back here on All Things FIT to follow Angelo’s progress.  Thank you for taking time out to talk with us Angelo.  We are all cheering for you!

Click here to watch Angelo’s audition video: 

For more information on the competition, check out American Ninja Warrior: http://g4tv.com/americanninja/index/

Dietary fat and Gene Expression

5 Aug

Dietary fat affects gene expression of overweight and lean people differently in this study.

Calcium Supplements Questioned

2 Aug

Taking calcium supplements might increase the risk of heart attack according to a new meta-analysis study.