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.
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