22nd August 13
Omega fatty acids are not only great for your keeping you lean, they are also beneficial to keeping your skin, brain, & eye health. Omega fatty acids can be found in multiple food sources for example, fish, ground flaxseed, grass-fed cattle, and dark green leafy vegetables. The latter of the four contains much smaller doses. Below is a short breakdown of Omegas, there origins, and why they are beneficial for fat loss and overall general health.
Fish oil is the single best form of the Omega 3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosa- hexaenoic acid). Research has shown these fatty acids have a host of benefits include the prevention of muscle breakdown, boost fat loss, increase healing of joints, improve brain function. Omega 3’s also enhance cardiovascular function by reducing inflammation in the body and lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. When shopping for fish oil, it is best to find fish oil derived from small fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovy due to the risk of the high mercury levels in larger fish such as salmon.
GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid) is a healthy Omega 6 fatty acid. Not all Omega 6’s are cut from the same cloth. Some Omega 6, in excess, are mediators for inflammation in the body, such as PUFA (polyunsaturated fat), GLA fatty acids act much like Omega 3’s and promote the production of anti inflammation properties in the body, and enhance fat loss, muscle recovery, as well as joint function. Key sources of GLA come from evening primrose oil, black current oil, and borage oil,
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is another healthy Omega 6 found primarily in grass-fed meats and dairy products. Dairy and meat produced from grass-fed animals contain up to 4 times for CLA than grain fed animals. Most known benefits of CLA are lowering of cholesterol and triglycerides, enhancement of muscle growth, increases in metabolism, and lowers your insulin resistance. Unlike it’s relative linoleic acid, CLA actually prohibits fat storage, which allows your body to use it as a source of fuel. Through recent research It is also suggested that CLA assists in the transportation of fat into mitochondria cells where the fat is then used for energy.
Besides eating your share of Omega fatty acids through whole foods, these acids are readily available in pill forms as well. Of course organic is typically best if possible. There are varieties of capsules that include a stacked variation of Omegas 3-6-9 as well.
Photo Credit: jcoterhals
26th July 13
Some, men and women alike, fall into the trap of choosing shoes to train in by esthetics versus functionality. I know I used to fall into that category. I would choose a shoe because they were cute, or shove my foot into a shoe to make it fit, like cinderella’s glass slipper, all in the name of fashion. Disregarding the fact that I may have been causing real damage to my feet, ankles, knees, and hips in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love a really cute shoe. It can be difficult to find a shoe that fits great, keeps my feet inline, and is appealing to the eye. But one of the most common mistakes people looking to get in shape make is that they don’t quite understanding the importance of proper footwear.
Running Shoes vs. Cross Training Shoes:
First off, if you are looking to participate in a cross training program, never buy a running shoe to workout in. Cross training shoes support repetitive movements in several plains of motion such as lateral movements, high impact aerobics, and repetitive weight lifting. Cross trainers generally have more flexibility in the forefoot, supportive heels, light tread, and extra support in areas that receive the highest impact. This allows someone to move from a warm up jog, to weight lifting moves such as lunges, etc. Cross training shoes are not generally meant to be used for a pavement run due to the light tread.
Running shoes are designed for one plane of motion, forward. They are built for a heel strike to toe action. Running shoes have a flexible toe area, thicker heel, midsole, and all around cushion for maximum shock absorption. The front of running shoes are curved as well with a toe that curls upward to assist in forward motion. Running shoes do not offer enough support laterally which can directly affect the impact on your ankles, knees, hips, and back as well.
Underpronator Or Overpronator:
Most of us fall into 2 categories of foot alignment, underpronators, over pronators. Lets start with the over pronators. An overpronating foot is characterized by an ankle that collapses at the arch and rolls inward. Common injuries for unchecked overpronators would be shin splints, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, hip pain, and strained hamstrings. For this type of foot, an athlete needs to pick a motion controlled shoe that provides extra support under the medial arch. This helps combat the internal rotation, helping aline the ankles, knees, and hips.
Underpronation is a lot less common than overpronators. Under pronators have high arches and ankles that roll outward. An under pronating foot is rigid and does not transfer shock easily as well because of this. Common injuries associated with underpronation are tight achilles tendons, knee problems, and tight hip muscles. An under pronator should choose a neutral shoe with extra cushion to assist with shock absorption.
How To Test Yourself:
There are a few ways to check to see if you are an overpronator or an underpronator. First, look at your shoes. Overpronators tend to wear their shoes soles out at the inside of the front big toe first. Whereas underpronators wear their tread out first at the outside and back of the ankle.
The wet paper bag test is something I personally did, and found pretty reliable. Lay down a cut out piece of a dry paper bag on a hard, flat, surface. Wet your feet and step onto the paper leaving a foot imprint. If your foot leaves a wet imprint along the outside of your foot and is dry where your arch would be, your most likely have a high arch and are an underpronator. If the bag has a complete wet imprint of your arch, you are most likely flat footed and are an overpronator.
Another option would be to go to a specialty running shoe store and have a specialist analyze you running on a treadmill. They will tape you while you run, determine if you are an overpronator or underpronator and fit you into the right shoe.
The right type of shoe can make or break your performance, and possibly your body as well. Do not be intimidated to jump around, run around, squat, lunge, whatever you need to test a pair of shoes in a store. You will not look silly, just responsible.
Photo Credit: timtak
3rd April 13
Sometimes I feel like I say only 4 words all day long, butt, core, and back, and knees. I say these words all day because they are all interlinked. The first 2 are very important elements to keeping the 3rd and 4th healthy and strong.
In fact, your glutes are an most important group of muscles that help maintain the alignment of your body, insure proper hip joint movement, and distribute forces evenly to help prevent injury.
Weak butt muscles rob you of power, and set you up for injury especially during whole body, dynamic exercises that require hip extension such as jumping, running, squatting, walking. Your glutes assist your upper leg to be in alignement with your trunk and spine. If your glutes are inactive, your lower back has to work harder to extend your hips. Even your ankles will be effected by inactive glutes.
Many of us are tempted, and I know you all know what I mean, to work the “mirror muscles”. These are the muscles we see straight on in the mirror. Yeah, it’s great to have a strong front side, but if you don’t pay attention to the backside just as much, you get a lopsided body. No thanks. :) What I mean by this is that the front muscles become very strong and tight, while the back muscles become weak and inactive. The front muscles then pull the back muscles forward and “Ta-da!” we now have a recipe for injury. Tendons and ligaments are being pulled in all the wrong direction and the smaller muscles surrounding the glutes take over.
The glutes are made up of 3 muscles, the gluteus maximus (upper butt), gluteus minimus (lower butt), and gluteus medius (hips). For a well rounded butt workout you need to hit your butt from all different angles to strengthen all 3 gluteal muscles equally.
Just a few great glute exercises include lunges, squats, deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, bridges, banded side squats, and step-ups. These exercises can be adjusted to your own level of fitness.
17th March 13
Purchasing ready marinaded meats or pre cooked chicken strips from the store can be expensive and sometimes not as healthy as you think. A much easier solution to this is to purchase chicken breasts from the store and marinade or season them yourself. Then cook, and slice them up yourself. Make a large amount and store them in single serving sandwich bags to easily pull out and add to your salads, legumes, quinoa, sandwiches, etc. Whatever you will not be using within 3-4 days, should go into the freezer.
This tactic saves you time, money, and thought over what to cook for lunch. Some pre marinaded or seasoned meats can be loaded with sodium and and preservatives. You control how much salt, and seasonings are used. And no preservatives.
This works extremely well with lean cuts of red meat as well. I am a carnivore at heart and do love a nice steak once in a while, but don’t typically eat a lot of it. So this works well when I do cook up some red meat. I cut up the left overs for later use.
There are many variations of marinade and seasoning options beside salt, such as fresh herbs, citrus fruits, garlic, and flavored vinegars. Just to mention a few. Be smart and creative.
Photo Credit: FoodMayhem.com
13th March 13
To answer the question, “Can you get an effective workout in 15 min.?” I emphatically say ‘YES!”. Some believe that if they are not spending hours at the gym, they are not getting a great workout. This train of thought is completely false. You can incinerate calories, and create a more effective after-burn, or EPOC, by going all out in a 15 min HIIT or interval training workout than spending 1 hour on a treadmill.
EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) is the energy process your body goes through after a workout to get your body back to resting state. The higher it is, the longer it takes, which equals more calories burned. I personally like that equation. :) High intensity workouts evokes a higher EPOC than slow steady-state exercise.
These workouts can be relatively easy to program for yourself. Simply pick 5-10 exercises that target different areas of the body and complete them in a timed set. The interval times, and how many sets you cycle through is all according to your level of fitness. Mixing timed exercises and rep style exercises in one workout is an option too. For example, perform 15-20 weighted jump squats immediately followed by 30 seconds of weighted burpees.
This type of workout can be performed 2-3 days a week between your resistance training day, or between lower impact cardio days. Sometimes I tack on a 15 high intensity body weight cardio circuit on the end of a resistance training day.
Always be sure to warm up, cool down, and stretch your body before performing any workout to prevent injury, know when you need to rest, drop weight, modify the exercise, or intensity. We all have days when we feel stronger than others. There are many days I have to really force myself to get my yoga pants and sports bra on and start moving. Keeping your body healthy and strong is vital, but more importantly, listen to it.
Photo Credit: Jayel Aheram