No time to make breakfast? You can make this the night before, or just before you leave, and just pop in the blender for a fast, tasty and healthy breakfast.
Overnight Blueberry-Oat Smoothie
- ¼ cup dry toasted oats
- 1 cup Calafia Farms toasted coconut almond milk beverage
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 squeeze of Sweetleaf sweet vanilla drops*
- ¼ cup blueberries
- ¼ cup strawberries
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions: Place all ingredients in a sealed glass jar, shake and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, shake jar, and pour into your blender and blend. You can also make and drink it right away.
*This is a zero calorie sweetener that I love. Here’s where I get it from: https://thrivemarket.com/p/sweetleaf-sweet-drops-vanilla-1-7-oz-bottle?utm_source=google&utm_medium=pla&utm_medium=pla&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Shopping_40_Decile&utm_content=716123128230&utm_term=na&ccode=THRV20&ccode_force=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjMupyJjx3wIVfh6tBh0ZlA4oEAQYAiABEgIwofD_BwE
Weight training is the best modality for muscle growth, but lifting weights shortens muscles and makes us less flexible. Oddly enough, flexibility and strength work together. “With extremely poor flexibility, strength is not gained as quickly compared with individuals with normal flexibility.” Research has shown that if an opposing muscle group has limited flexibility, like tight hamstrings, it also hinders strength and size, of the quads.
If you have trouble gaining muscle mass, and are eating sufficient nutrients, calories and protein, are changing-up and progressing your workouts, are sleeping 7-8 hours a day, a lack of flexibility might be what’s killing your gains.
If you have limited flexibility, make sure to gently stretch at the end of every workout for 5-10 minutes, holding each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. You don’t need to as flexible as Gumby to get stronger, so don’t stress out if you can’t do a backbend.
Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 311-312.
We know that foods like coffee and chocolate are a great pick-me-up because they contain caffeine, but protein is also a great energizer. A breakfast with eggs and coffee or green tea, skip the bagel, will help wake you up, unlike waffles, donuts, or pancakes, which will spike your blood sugar, and drag you down.
To help you sleep, try eating a low-protein, high-carbohydrate meal like a quinoa bowl.
Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 146.
I see guys at the gym pushing heavy weights on the bench press with incorrect form all the time. Not only does this look silly, using improper form sets you up for shoulder injuries, pec tears, pain, and limited strength.
Here’s what not to do:
- Don’t lift your head up as you push the weight up.
- Never lift your butt off the bench as this puts stress on the spine.
- Don’t use partial reps on a consistent basis as this causes limited range of motion, tightened muscles, limited muscle growth, and shoulder pain.
- Don’t use a thumbless grip! Approximately five people each year drop the weight on their throat or on their head, and die from using this dangerous grip.
On bench press, do the following:
- Arch your back and push out your chest
- Pull your shoulder blades together; keep them retracted with each rep
- Keep your wrists straight with your thumb around the bar
- “Keep your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width apart,” with your feet back a bit towards your head to allow you to press down from your legs to stabilize your body, which assists in the lift
- Tighten your abs for stability
- For very heavy lifts, breathe using the Valsalva maneuver
- Lower the bar slowly and push up with power
- Warm up with push-ups or light weights
- Film yourself bench pressing so you can see and correct your form
Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 205-207.
I’ve had people tell me they don’t have time in the morning to make a smoothie so I came up with this recipe that you make the night before, and then just add ice, and blend for a quick, tasty and healthy breakfast.
Overnight Banana-Oat Smoothie
- ¼ cup dry toasted oats
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- ½ banana
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions: Place all ingredients in a sealed glass jar, shake and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, shake jar, and pour into your blender and add ½ cup of ice and blend. If you want it sweeter, or if you want a more filling breakfast, add a whole banana instead of just a half of a banana.
- Calories: 315
- Carbohydrates: 32 gross grams
- Protein: 28 grams
- Fat: 9 grams
Eating nutritious, calorie-dense whole foods; keeping a healthy weight, and exercise are the three main elements for good health. The minimum amount of moderate-intensity exercise everyone should do is 2 ½ hours each week, which equates to just 30 minutes a day.
I don’t want to be heathier, I want to be the healthiest I can be! For extensive health, shoot for 5 hours of exercise a week. For additional health benefits, exercise more than five hours a week.
If you have high blood pressure, excess body fat, stress, high blood sugar, depression, osteoporosis, arthritis, and/or aches and pains, exercise is especially important for you.
(1) Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 23-24.
High-fat, low-carb diets, like the Ketogenic Diet, are problematic since they can increase bad cholesterol, cause dehydration and digestive issues, and increase the risk of cancers and diseases due to the diet’s restrictions (2). These types of diets are bad for the bones too. High-fat diets decrease bone density because they slightly increase blood acidity, which speeds the breakdown of bone (1).
Any diet that you can stick to, that reduces the amount of calories you have been eating, will work for weight loss. You don’t have to go on a Ketogenic diet, or a vegan diet to lose extra body fat. What’s good and bad, is that having extra body fat, in the realm of 18-30%, increases bone density (1). In contrast, being very lean “…promotes fractures and bone loss” (1). That’s not an excuse to avoid losing excess weight, but it certainly drives home the point that high-fat diets and being skinny have detrimental health effects that just aren’t worth the risks.
Photo: fatty, grilled pork ribs (try to avoid these!)
(1) Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 55.
(2) Risher, Brittany. “10 Things to Know Before Trying the Ketogenic Diet.” Blog Post Type. My Fitness Pal Blog. Received Aug. 12, 2018.
Getting chicken pox as a child is usually not a big deal, but can be deadly for an adult. I was infected with chicken pox when I was in college (I think I caught it from a contagious child that was brought to the office). I became extremely ill and was in extreme pain. Shortly thereafter I started losing weight and muscle, and my eyes would burn. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic required to take insulin injections for life. A nurse in endocrinology told me what probably caused my pancreas to malfunction, was the chicken pox virus, which attacked my pancreas and damaged it permanently.
While no one knows for certain what causes Type 1 diabetes, it is theorized that viruses are the culprit. If I could go back in time to get the chicken pox vaccine called Varicella, I would, and I might not be an insulin-dependent diabetic today.
If you’ve never had the chicken pox, definitely get the vaccine. When I turn 50, the first thing I’m going to do is to get the shingles vaccine called Zostavax. People have gone blind and had permanent nerve pain from shingles. The Zostavax vaccine reduces the chances of the chicken pox coming back for round two to attack.
Additional notes: Since Type 1 diabetes is a autoimmune disease, where, in many cases, the body attacks itself, my case was not so, which supports the theory that the chicken pox virus is what caused my pancreas to stop performing at full capacity.
Are you skipping the warm-up before lifting weights? Do you neglect the cool down and stretching after a workout? The warm-up and the cool-down have important functions and should be a part of your fitness routine.
Your 10-minute warm-up shouldn’t exhaust you, it’s performed to raise the body’s temperature; it also increases the rate at which muscles contract, increases electrical activity, increases the amount of weight you can lift, increases the amount of time a muscle can contract, reduces injury, and improves connective tissues ability to work (1).
A 5-10 minute cool-down is important too. A cool down of light aerobics removes lactic acid, minimizes microtrauma, and reduces muscle soreness (1).
Tight muscles are more prone to tears so don’t to forget to stretch after your workout!
(1) Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 224-225.