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.
These brownies are soft, sweet, chocolatey, chewy and healthy. They are super easy to make, and don’t require any cooking. They are also oil-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. If you want to make them vegan, just use maple syrup in place of the honey. You can also skip the honey and the maple syrup completely by adding more dates and more strawberries.
- 3/4 cup dry-toasted almonds (raw almonds work too)
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- 1 cup packed pitted Medjool dates
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 5 frozen strawberries
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes (no sugar added)
Place the almonds and the cacao in a large food processor until it resembles flour. Add dates and honey until incorporated, but not solid. Add maple syrup, strawberries and walnuts just before it turns into a dough ball. Put 2 tablespoons of the coconut flakes on the bottom and inside a glass bread baking dish; this becomes the base and prevents the dough from sticking.
Break apart pieces of the dough, and distribute evenly over the coconut flakes. Use the tines of a fork to compact the dough, and to spread the dough out evenly. Sprinkle the remaining coconut flakes evenly over the top. Cover with aluminum foil, making sure not to touch the food with the foil. Put in the freezer. It should be ready to cut into squares and eat in 6 hours. Keep frozen.
P.S. Don’t eat too many. These are very delicious but also very dense.
While a lot of people exercise mainly for weight loss, we all need to exercise to keep our bodies functioning at full capacity. Walking is great, but it’s not enough. In fact, if all you do is walk, you’ll become weak, more prone to accidents and broken bones, and being forced to live in a nursing home.
“Adults who are less active are at greater risk of dying of heart disease and developing diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure” (1). If you don’t do enough exercise, this negatively affects your sleep habits, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Do you consider yourself active? “…More than half of all older adults believe they get enough exercise through minimal walking and routine activities. In truth, more strenuous activities provide greater fitness gains and more preventative benefits” (1).
Don’t you want your independence? Don’t you want to stay in your home for as long as you can? You can make your future bright, by following these guidelines to stay “young.”
- Do bodyweight and weight lifting exercises with low to moderate intensity twice a week for 30 minutes. Exercise every muscle (not just the ones you like) with a full range of motion, and do 15 repetitions of each exercise. Give yourself two full days of active rest from these workouts to let your body recover and get stronger.
- Do standing exercises. If you sit for every exercise, like on a bike or seated machine exercises, your core and your stabilizing muscles will get weak. Weak stabilizers means poor balance and high probability of falling, so do standing exercises every workout.
- Do 30 minutes of cardio three times a week. Don’t just walk! To get stronger, you can’t do what’s easy. You don’t want to exercise just on the bike either. Do different exercises; ie: treadmill, bike, stepper, classes, rowing machine. This prevents boredom and overuse injuries. Can’t afford a gym membership? You can buy a few sets of light weights and work out at home. There’s also free exercises videos on different TV networks. My favorite light aerobic video is a 22-minute program called Classical Stretch, Eccentrics by Miranda Esmonde-White on PBS, Monday through Friday at 5:00am PST (record it and watch later).
- Stretch for flexibility. It’s much easier to hurt yourself if you have tight muscles and muscle fibers so stretch after cardio and weight training. The old ways of stretching before a workout led people to get injured so make sure you’re completely warmed up before stretching.
“Dr. Herbert Devries at USC has shown that men and women in their 70’s and 80’s can achieve levels of vigor associated with people 30 years younger,” so skip that wrinkle cream and plan your youthful routine today (1).
(1). Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 619-623
The holidays are coming fast! I’m trying to get all my shopping done this week. Here’s a gift idea for that special someone who wants to eat healthy food and has a sweet tooth, but wants to stay away from sugar, flour, wheat, gluten and dairy.
The difference between this and other dairy-free and gluten-free cookbooks, is that most of those desserts are high in calories and contain sugar and alternative flours that readily turn into fat. Many desserts also contain a lot of oil; even coconut oil in large quantities, isn’t a good idea.
Recipes include banana-coconut pancakes, toasted coconut chocolate crumble, fudge with peanut butter filling, creamy pudding, chocolate candy, chewy cookies, refreshing smoothies, lemon oat muffins, and coconut bars. These are easy to make, and many don’t even require cooking. You can now satisfy your sweet tooth, guilt-free!
I never heard of partials until recently, but I’ve seen it a lot at the gym. It is when someone does a partial rep, instead of using full range of motion. Some examples are a bench press, where the person only lets the bar go down halfway, or part of the way down; or a push-up where the person doesn’t go low to the floor; or a shoulder press, where the arms bend only part-way down.
People use this technique because it’s easier to do pulses, and they can lift more weight with partials instead of moving the weight all the way down, and all the way up. Some people just don’t realize they are doing this, and other people don’t know what correct form is. There are also experienced body builders that do partials, commonly performed on a bench press, to allow the central nervous system and connective tissue adapt to using heavier weights, and to go above and beyond their present lifting weight (1).
Since partials are very demanding, don’t do “…partials more than three weeks in a row without a…” break, or perform those exercises with less intensity. It’s okay to use partials, but don’t do them every workout (1).
If you are only using partial reps, you’ll only have limited range of motion, partial development, and have less flexibility (1).
(1). Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 455-456.
Stretching is supposed to be good for us, but if done before adequately warmed up, or done improperly, they can cause injury. Three popular stretches are the straight-leg toe touch, standing or seated on the floor, and the hurdler stretch, stretching one leg at a time. The problem with these stretches are that they “..can severely weaken the spine…” since they are pulling the “…spinal ligaments, not the hamstrings.”
Every time I try either of those stretches, my lower back hurts. If you still want to do these stretches, use a straight back, not a rounded back, don’t bounce, and just go to the level where you feel the stretch; a stretch should never be painful. Pain is a signal from your brain that you shouldn’t do that.
(1). Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 349.
There really is a shortcut to losing weight! We know that just because a specific diet works for one person, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. There’s three different body types, I types, V types and O types, and each type does better in terms of strength, energy, and maintaining a healthy bodyfat ratio based on the percentage of fats, carbs and protein they eat.
Find your body type below to see the ideal percentages of carbs, protein and fat best suited for your build.
- Type 1 ectomorph: thin, small bone structure. 55% carbs, 25% protein, 20% fat
- Type V mesomorph: medium-sized bone structure, athletic build. 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat
- Type O endomorphs: large bone structure and gains fat easily. 25% carbs, 35% protein, 40% fat
So, if you’re Type 1 and thin, but maybe have some extra bodyfat, aka skinny fat, or maybe you want to gain some muscle, and you’ve looked up your suggested calorie intake from an app, or got this info from your diet coach, and have found that you should be eating 1500 calories a day, take 1500 x 55% = 825. The 825 represents the amount of calories from carbs recommended for your body type. For protein, take 1500 x 25% = 375 calories of protein daily. 1500 x 20% = 300 calories of fat each day. 825 + 375 + 300 = 1500 calories.
The easiest way to do this is to put in the amount of calories, the percentage of carbs, protein and fat into whatever on-line application you like, and then log all your meals. Check the percentage of the macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) throughout the day to help you. For instance, if I eat five meals a day and notice that I’ve reached my limit for carbs already, I’ll just eat protein and a salad for dinner.
Keep in mind that these are just recommendations and don’t need to be exact. Try it out for a few weeks and tweak it to best suit you.
(1). Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 609-611.
This warming soup tastes like a healthy, creamy pumpkin pie, with a bonus of protein from garbanzo beans; the chopped cashews give it additional sweetness and a wonderful crunch.
- 2 T lemon juice
- 2 T maple syrup
- 2 T tahini
- 15 oz can drained garbanzo beans
- 15 oz can pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- ¼ cup chopped cashews (raw or toasted)
Pulse all ingredients except for cashews in a food processor or blender until smooth. You can eat it cold or heated. Top with chopped cashews.
Photo: I added chopped red bell pepper and pumpkin seeds; either way is good
I don’t like to discourage people who exercise just once a week, but this small fraction of exercise is not going to give you the benefits you want, whether it be strength, more muscle, fat loss, or flexibility.
There are seven granddaddy laws of training, one being the General Adaptation Principle, which states that a once a week full body workout, and/or training a body part once is a week “is generally not advised as it is far too infrequent and too much rest has expired (1)”. If you are too exhausted from that one workout to exercise again 2-3 days later, maybe because you’re new to training, or you worked out really hard, that’s normal; it’s your body’s built-in mechanism protecting you against injury.
You don’t need to push through the pain, that’s never a good idea. What you want to do is switch up your workouts, so that some are high-intensity and others are low-intensity, and do different types of exercises. For instance, two days a week I lift heavy for an hour each; two days a week, I practice yoga or do cardio between 30-60 minutes depending on how I feel; and two days a week I do moderate-intensity bodyweight and/or band exercises. I take Sundays off to recover and rest.
In conclusion, exercise all muscles twice a week with varying intensity for maximum results. With consistency and variety, those workouts will get easier, you’ll get stronger, and you’ll have to make it more difficult to progress to the next level.
(1). Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 417-419.