Surefire Strategies to Stay Fit From Thanksgiving to New Years

Surefire Strategies to Stay Fit From Thanksgiving to New Years

Between pies and more pies, it can be pretty tough to stay active during the holiday season. A cornucopia of family obligations, work parties, and last-minute shopping means that hitting the gym often gets delayed or crossed off the schedule altogether. Not this year! There are 35 days between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, so be determined to make the most of them. Here are some smart strategies, tips, tricks, and motivational techniques to make fitness part of the celebration all holiday season long:

1. Get out there
Snuggling under the blankets with a mug of hot chocolate is fine and dandy, but it probably won’t help you out in the fitness department. Instead of baking cookies or playing board games, pass the time with an active pursuit like snowboarding, hiking, or even building snowmen (if it snows, of course)..

2. Make it official
Sign up for a race, competition, or fitness-y vacation like a hiking or bike trip in January or February so you have a good reason (and plenty of motivation) to stay in shape over the holidays.

3. Find a workout buddy
Rolling out of bed for a 6am gym sesh is much harder to skip when you’re one half of a dynamic workout duo. Enlist a fitness-minded friend or family member (especially if you’re traveling) to be your holiday exercise buddy. Encourage each other to lace up the sneakers for pre-dinner workouts and post-shopping trip runs.

4. Treat yourself
No, not to that extra slice of pumpkin pie. If it’s within your budget, indulge in new workout clothing or fitness equipment before Thanksgiving to boost motivation throughout the holiday season.

5. Include everyone
Working out can often be a solitary activity, which may explain why many people skip the gym when friends and family are in town. Make it a group activity by inviting visitors to join you at the gym or a favorite exercise class.

6. Find a promotion
Many gyms and exercise studios offer deals and specials during the holidays. Do some snooping and sign up if you find a sweet deal. If you’ve recently joined a gym, take advantage of a free consultation with a personal trainer (most fitness facilities offer this perk) to learn some new moves.

7. Act like a kid
Childhood winter favorites like sledding, snowball fights, and ice-skating get the heart pumping. Head outside for a sneaky (and super fun) workout.

8. Be a mall rat
With a mile-long to-do list before the big holiday get-together, there’s just no time for exercise, right? Wrong-o: Simply lace up your sneakers and powerwalk between errands. (This is especially doable at a mall or shopping center.)

9. Do some DIYardwork
Whether it’s raking leaves or shoveling snow, yard work is an unexpected way to get the heart rate up and work out major muscle groups.

10. Watch TV
Yep, sometimes hanging out in front of the tube can be good for you. If the weather outside is truly frightful, pop in a workout DVD (or for a cheaper version, pull up a YouTube fitness video) and get sweaty. Or, use TV time to work on mobility and recovery by foam rolling, icing, or stretching out with straps.

11. Work towards a goal
Set a specific, tangible goal to accomplish during the holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is the perfect amount of time to really nail that push-up form, learn to do Crow pose, or master an 8-minute mile.

Whats the secret ingredient to your winter work out routine?

Adapted from Greatist
How To Cure Diabetes Naturally Continued…

How To Cure Diabetes Naturally Continued…

There are two main kinds of diabetes: Type 1 occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 2 occurs when insulin is produced, but the body doesn’t respond to it the right way. What causes Type 1 is often hard to pinpoint. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly common — some have estimated that a third of Americans born in 2000 will develop the disease — and a lot of the time, it can be prevented. How? Let’s talk insulin sensitivity.

Eating carbs too often (especially simple ones, like sugars), can make us less sensitive to insulin (or more “insulin resistant”). When that happens, we need to produce more insulin than we should need to in order to keep blood sugar stable.

That’s bad. If insulin sensitivity becomes poor, we have trouble digesting carbs and absorbing nutrients, and we gain weight. If it’s really bad for a long time, the pancreas needs to make more and more insulin because we’re so insensitive to it. Eventually, it gets exhausted and stops being able to release the hormone properly — and that’s when Type 2 diabetes occurs.

But, insulin resistance doesn’t just increase the risk of diabetes. It ups the risk of thyroid problems and several kinds of cancer, and it also makes it a lot harder to control body fat. So if we want to burn fat, we want to be sensitive — even the big, tough guys! Fortunately, we know plenty of ways to make your insulin work for you.

The following are three out of several ways to improve insulin sensitivity. More details will be included in the…

 

  1. Exercise regularly
    Exercising 3 or 4 times a week can improve nearly every health marker there is, and insulin sensitivity is no exception. To maximize the insulin-related benefits, make the workouts extra intense with high intensity interval training or depletion workouts.
  2. Get plenty of sleep
    Lying down’s never been so healthy! Getting adequate sleep is crucial to keep the body functioning smoothly, and that includes hormone production.
  3. Eat fewer carbohydrates, especially simple carbs
    Eating lots of carbs makes us produce a lot of insulin, so it’s best to follow a diet that’s low in simple and processed carbs, especially sugar, to maximize our sensitivity to the stuff.  An exception is after you exercise — a blood sugar spike is a good thing post-workout, because the insulin helps to quickly send nutrients to exhausted muscles.
Adapted from Greatist
How To Cure Diabetes Naturally

How To Cure Diabetes Naturally

The United States has the highest rate of diabetes in the world. That’s more than 30 million Americans. And, no, this is not a goal worth achieving.

The UnitedHealth Group anticipates that 50% of Americans could have diabetes or prediabetes by the year 2020. As much as 95% of these cases are predicted to be Type 2 adult-onset diabetes, a condition highly correlated to obesity, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. In some cases, the condition can lead to kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke.

However, you do not have to be part of that projection. So, how do we undo this well-known, yet unpopular disease? We have got to establish the root cause, which is SAD…The Standard American Diet!

If you are wondering what it will take to reverse this trend, the answer is simple and based on one principle — live healthfully! Researchers anticipate that by combining a healthy diet with regular exercise, one can live diabetes-free.

To really get in depth about what you should eat and what you can do to move your body, stay tuned for information on the next upcoming fall detox program. You will learn, in detail, the exact exercises, times and meals along with recipes to get your body back to its ideal weight and ideal function within a short period of time.

The importance of a healthy lifestyle includes good nutrition and physical activity. There are no shortcuts, but there are some secrets, and I will be sharing that with you in the program.

To be continued…

What So Sweet About Chocolate?

What So Sweet About Chocolate?

Maybe the reason it is the favorite flavor of America is because it tastes so good…chocolate, that is.

According to the National Day Calendar, the process of chocolate goes something like this:

Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia, is grown in Mexico, Central America and Northern South America. The earliest known documentation of using cacao seeds is from around 1100 BC.  The cacao tree seeds have a very intense, bitter taste that must be fermented to develop the flavor.

Once the seeds have been fermented, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted.  After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The cacao nibs are then ground into cocoa mass, which is pure chocolate in rough form.  The cocoa mass is usually liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients. At this point in the process, it is called chocolate liquor.  The chocolate liquor may then be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

But, here’s the sweetest part of it all – chocolate, in its purest form is actually good for you. Many think it’s an unhealthy guilty pleasure. However, if eaten without all of the additives that most manufacturers like to include in the ingredients, chocolate can actually be a health food. It’s high in iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, B, C and D.

Here are some facts:

Antioxidants: chocolate contains flavanol, a naturally occurring antioxidant with many heart healthy benefits including lowering blood pressure and reducing blood clotting. Besides flavanol, chocolate also contains many more powerful antioxidants, and according to health experts, may contain up to fifteen times more of these cell-protecting antioxidant compounds than blueberries!

Essential vitamins and minerals: Cacao beans are loaded with many essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to thrive. These include vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E along with magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

When compared to other foods, cacao contains one of the highest amounts of magnesium—an essential mineral required by the body to maintain healthy muscle and nerve function, build strong bones, and keep our immune system strong.

Mood boosting propertiesThere’s a reason chocolate makes us smile. Resveratrol, an antioxidant found chocolate among other products contains mental health benefits including boosting levels of endorphins and serotonin in the brain helping to improve our mood.

So, this National Chocolate Day, you can have your chocolate and eat it, too! Go ahead…indulge. Just do me a favor…

Remember that it’s best to avoid overly processed chocolate that contains artificial flavoring and sweeteners. It’s easy to find them, especially around certain holidays of the year, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Opt for organic dark chocolate, whenever possible.

Cold and Flu-Fighting Breakfast…with a Twist

Cold and Flu-Fighting Breakfast…with a Twist

Maybe you are not sniffling, as yet, but cold and flu season is upon us. Just over 2 percent of Americans have had the flu so far this season and nearly 7 percent have caught a cold…typical numbers for October, according to Gallup. More like 8 to 10 percent of people will be sniffling come December and January.

However, you don’t have to be one of those Americans. Some extra-diligent hand washing and sufficient shut-eye can go a long way in keeping you healthy all season long. What’s more is an immunity-boosting diet. Simply start the morning off right with a tasty cold and flu-fighting breakfast.

First up…Citrus Fruit

Vitamin C is still a nutrient essential to staying healthy coming specifically from citrus fruits, such as the orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime. Papaya and kiwi pack even more of the crucial vitamin. You may even consider tossing in some cantaloupe, too.

Second…Red-Pepper Omelet

A cup of chopped red bell pepper contains 190 milligrams, which makes it a good source of vitamin C, as well – more than twice as much as an orange. They’re also rich in vitamin A, which aids the growth of mucosal cells, the first line of defense against bacteria trying to invade.

 

Last…Top It Off With Tea

Upping your liquid intake in general (although not from sugary drinks) can help thin mucus and a little steam is sure to bust congestion. Opt for a green variety of tea and you’ll have the added benefits of more concentrated antioxidants, in particular EGCG, which seems to fight off viruses for a stronger immune system.

4 Reasons to Celebrate Non-GMO Month

4 Reasons to Celebrate Non-GMO Month

Did you know that October is officially Non-GMO Month? For almost a decade this month, retail stores nationwide will celebrate the consumer’s right to be informed of foods and products that contain genetically modified organisms, aka GMOs.

What exactly are GMOs again?

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are products of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE), which creates new combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes by combining DNA from one species with DNA from another. The result: new organisms that do not occur in nature.

GMOs are often not labeled as such. In many developed nations, GMO products are heavily restricted or banned altogether because they have yet to be proven safe for people’s health and the health of the environment. However, in the U.S. there is a dearth of public awareness of the potentially harmful repercussions of GMO products.

Here are four more reasons why you should celebrate Non-GMO Month this October and empower yourself to make the right decisions for you and your family.

1. Human Health

Currently, seed companies prohibit independent research with their products, leaving very little empirical data available.

2. Environmental and Animal Health

Genetically engineered crops can cause a variety of destructive problems on the surrounding environment. Farmers who use GMO crops can spray their fields to kill everything growing in the area except the specific GMO food crop. The increased use of pesticides and herbicides often leads to superweeds, which then become resistant to the same pesticides, creating the need for stronger, more toxic pesticides (that can leach into our food and water sources!).

3. Moral and Ethical Concerns

Some people question whether genetically altered crops and species threaten and violate the natural order of an environment. Also, genetic modification may involve the creation of foods that are prohibited by certain groups (e.g., the use of animal genes may conflict with some religions, as well as the diets of vegetarians and vegans).

4. Labeling Concerns

Whether you decide to limit or restrict your consumption of GMO products, the right to know what is in our food is important. Research has shown that many Americans would choose not to have GMO products if aware and given the choice.

When shopping for food, it’s a valuable practice to stop and ask yourself the basic question: Where does it all come from? It’s time for us to be food detectives.

Here are a few ways you may be able to consume fewer GMO products:

  • Buy produce and other food items from farmers’ markets.
  • Start conversations with the people selling your food to get more information.
  • Grow your own food in a garden at home or join a community garden.
  • Join a corporate garden or co-op to know where items are coming from.

To help you choose the right foods, look for the butterfly on your favorite products when you go shopping at your local grocery store. You may, also, download the Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide iPhone App.

How will you celebrate Non-GMO month?

Adapted by Joshua Rosenthal, IIN
Don’t Do Away With the Yolk

Don’t Do Away With the Yolk

Egg whites and not the yolk, huh!?!?

For too long there has been a stigma that the yolk of an egg is high in cholesterol, even though skipping it skimps on the most nutritious part of the egg. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines allows eating up to one egg a day, yolk and all, within a healthful eating plan.

It is true that the egg yolk – with about 213 milligrams (mg) per serving – is one of the most concentrated sources of cholesterol in the diet. Recent studies show that the relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood levels of cholesterol, the type that causes heart disease, is very complex and highly individual. Research has failed to provide conclusive evidence that one egg a day can raise your blood cholesterol or risk for heart disease. Studies show that eating eggs may cause a small rise in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in some people – though the increase is in a subclass of larger LDLs, which are less likely to contribute to plaque in the arteries – and an accompanying rise in “good” HDL cholesterol. Still, the American Heart Association advises that if you have high LDL levels, you should cut your dietary cholesterol levels to 200 mg per day.

But there’s a lot more to egg yolks than cholesterol. Yolks contain high quality protein and essential vitamins and nutrients. One of the most powerful benefits of the yolk is the concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids responsible for its rich, golden color. They are key components in the human eye, and eating foods that contain these nutrients preserves good eyesight and prevents vision loss. High levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet are associated with the lowest incidence of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly. Tossing the yolk in favor of the perceived healthier egg white tosses out 100 percent of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D and K, as well as most of the calcium, iron and folate in the egg.

While spinach and some other foods are excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lutein in eggs is three times more available to your body, compared with an equivalent amount of cooked spinach. What better reason to get cracking on the budget-friendly, accessible egg? Just be sure to shy away from less healthy pairings, such as eggs fried in vegetable oils or served with bacon, and partner moderate amounts with vegetables in omelets, quiche and stir-fries. It is, also, more beneficial to opt for pasture-raised or organic.

Adapted from Environmental Nutrition
5 Superfoods To Taste This September

5 Superfoods To Taste This September

August is gone, and September brings in the feeling of the last of what summer has to offer. So, get excited for the freshness of fall. The following superfoods below will help you savor refreshing warm-weather flavors and look forward to the comforting tastes of autumn.

Sweet Potatoes
What Makes Them “super”: These complex carbs with four grams of fiber in each potato make this a healthy choice. The vitamin A will help build up your immune system. Plus, the beta carotene can repair your skin by boosting skin cell production.

How To Enjoy: You may bake them, however steaming them avoids heating up the entire home with the oven. You may, also, purée two of them and put it in bean dip — sort of like hummus — with cashew butter. And, you can eat them all week and it stores well in the fridge, as part of a dip.

Broccoli
What Makes It “super”: It’s a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium. The cruciferous vegetable also packs anti-cancer properties, and could possibly prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. Adding to its nutrition are folate, beta carotene and calcium which give this veggie the power to promote eye health, protect against heart disease, strengthen the immune system and build strong bones.

How To Enjoy: This versatile vegetable can be added to just about anything — grilled, roasted or eaten raw. Be careful not to overcook it, as some of the potassium and vitamin C can be lost with heat.

Beets
What Makes Them “super”: Beetroot is very high in antioxidants, calcium and potassium. The betanin and vulgaxanthin, which give the beets their deep hue, have anti-inflammatory properties as well.

How To Enjoy: Beets can be mixed into smoothies or dips to create a beautifully bright dish. They can be roasted, steamed, grated and eaten raw, or made into a dressing using a food processor.

Grapes
What Makes Them “super”: This small fruit is a good source of vitamins C and K. Plus, they’re hydrating because of they’re water content. The skin contains resveratrol (famous for giving red wine its health benefits, as well as preventing premature aging of cells) and other compounds that may reduce allergy symptoms.

How To Enjoy: They’re so convenient to eat like popcorn, but they can, also, be frozen for a delicious dessert on a warm night.

Lima Beans 
What Makes Them “super”: These beans are a good source of soluble fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer. One cup of lima beans adds 13.4 milligrams of iron and 38.2 grams of protein to your diet. All beans pack protein, but unlike meat sources, they have little to no fat and are cholesterol-free.

How To Enjoy: It’s common to buy frozen lima beans, however you may make them into a soup or dip. You can also steam limas and add them to meat dishes, or mix them with veggies for a nutritious side dish.

What in-season produce do you like to indulge in? Let us know in the comments below!

6 Steps To Reset Your Sleep Patterns For Fall

6 Steps To Reset Your Sleep Patterns For Fall

While Monday, Labor Day, is known as the unofficial end of summer, many people find it more difficult to adjust their sleep schedule back to what it was before the laid back summertime schedule began. Although it is especially true for children who go back to school in August or September, adults can also suffer the consequences from shifted summer sleep schedules.

Once fall arrives, in about three short weeks, we might find that we are still doing many activities in the evening and nighttime, making it more difficult to fall asleep at the earlier desired time. I, for one, can attest to this. And, I will have to wean my way back into the school/work schedule. Some fortunate people find that they can just change their sleep timing to go to bed earlier and wake earlier without any issue. If you’re one of those people, the sooner you start keeping a steady sleep-wake schedule seven days per week, the better! If you aren’t one of those people (my hand raised), here are some suggestions that can help:

1. Power Down
Avoid any screen time (i.e. computers, cell phones, TVs) at least one hour before your new desired bedtime (but ideally two hours before). Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced in our brains and it comes out when the sun starts to set. Melatonin helps to induce sleepiness and keeps us asleep throughout the night. Bright light can limit melatonin production, and blue light (especially from all the electronics screens) is an even bigger offender.

2. Wind Down
Practice winding down your body and mind as well. Find relaxing activities and hobbies that are calm, quiet and soothing. This is not the time to return emails, finish work and be active. Sleep isn’t an on/off switch — it is more like a dimmer switch where you turn down the lights and your body.

3. Light Bright
Do the opposite in the morning. When you wake up, get up and open all the curtains in your house. Get as much natural light as you can. Eat breakfast in front of a window. Bright light stops melatonin production, wakes us up and helps us keep a more consistent bed and wake schedule.

4. Stay The Course
Keep a steady sleep-wake schedule seven days a week. For some, this may be a challenge. However, our bodies don’t have a “weekday” switch and a “weekend” switch. We need to keep things steady. If you sleep in on the weekends, you may only make it harder to go to bed at a more normal time come Sunday night.

5. Slow And Steady
If you’re really struggling with adjusting, some people find that gradually adjusting to a new schedule can help. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier (and wake up 15 minutes earlier) every day until you reach your target bed and wake times. This also means that you should dim the lights and wind down at home 15 minutes earlier every night.

6. Eat For Sleep
Get back on a healthy overall diet. We often loosen up our diet rules over the summer in favor of the ice cream and pie. Limit sugar at night, and avoid anything with caffeine (soda, coffee, tea, chocolate) after noon. Avoid alcohol within three hours of bedtime since it can disrupt sleep even further.

If you’ve tried the above suggestions and you are still struggling with sleep issues, talk with your doctor or a sleep specialist since there are other treatment options that can be quite useful.

What This Does for Your Head AND Your Heart

What This Does for Your Head AND Your Heart

We drink it, we swim in it, the steam from it eases congestion and the conversion to ice reduces swelling. Water is all around us (and even in us). “Water makes up about 2/3 of who we are, and influences 100 percent of the processes in our body,” says CamelBak hydration expert Doug Casa, PhD. That probably explains why we feel better when we’re drinking enough of it. Here’s why you should go hydrate right now because of what it does for your head and your heart:
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