Monday, May 31, 2010

Toning Shoes

There is a lot of hype going on regarding toning shoes. Many claim that they will work you out while you wear them. Fit Flops claims the following: “Get a workout while you walk”, “Firm your legs and bottom”, “You can reduce stress on your body”, “You can re-energize your feet”, and “Wearable relief for sports warriors everywhere”. Another company, Sketchers, has Shape ups. “designed to help you strengthen your muscles, including your back, abdomen and calves”, “will help you lose weight and improve your circulation, creating a healthier you”, and “Get in shape without setting foot in a gym”. And MBT the Anti-shoe “ the body's entire musculoskeletal system is activated and exercised, the muscles in the buttocks, stomach and back are strengthened, posture and gait are kept relaxed and upright; and stress on the joints;and back is relieved. Not only does the anti-shoe increase the fitness levels of its wearer with every step, it also has sustainable health benefits.”

I have worn all three. Of the three the MBT’s seem to me to be the most beneficial and scientifically built. While I feel a slight “workout” mostly I feel better postural alignment and stress reduction on my low back and knees. I enjoy teaching in these as well as taking walks. These are definitely worth the investment and live up to their promises.

As far as flip flops go. Flip flops in general are the worst shoes you can possibly wear. They offer no arch support or shock absorption and cause a great deal of pain in the body after wearing them for long periods of time. That being said both the Fit Flops and the Shape ups are the most comfortable flip flops I have ever worn. They offer great arch support, lots of shock absorption, and I actually feel good after wearing them for a good deal of time. However, they aren’t going to tone my gluts, things, and hamstrings; cause me to lose weight, or keep me out of the gym or from doing actual exercise. These are not a quick fix or a replacement to proper diet and exercise, sorry to tell you. They do feel great though after a long run or workout!

My advice is don’t go firing your personal trainer or giving up your gym membership. But if you’re looking for a comfortable pair of flips flops or shoes that will help ease your pains and help your posture you should definitely give them a try.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do you Kettlebell??

Kettlebells? Have you heard of them? I love them! They are my favorite way to get Cardio and weight training done at the same time. In only 25 minutes I burn somewhere between 300-450 calories. Woo-hoo!! Exercise multi-tasking at its best. So what are these magnificent bells that I speak of?

Kettlebells are bowling ball-sized cast iron weights with a single looped handle on top, that range in weight. Kettlebells are a functional strength workout that engages the entire body, specifically the core. The exercises challenge both strength and stability at the same time. Because the kettlebell's center of mass is extended beyond the hand, it allows for swinging movements that are impossible to achieve with traditional dumbbells.

Kettlebell workouts focus on form and stability, which is probably why so many of my Pilates and Yoga friends are drawn to them. Like any form of exercise I recommend taking a few sessions with a professionally certified Kettlebell trainer to learn the basic exercises and watch your form. I bought a 12 pound Kettlebell, which came with a great 25 minute dvd at Target for under $20. Love the dvd and am planning on purchasing another one from the same company. I also am ready to purchase a heavier one and incorporate two Kettlebell movements into my sessions.

Have you tried Kettlebells? What are your thoughts about them?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Juice start your diet!

There are lots of quick fix diets and fasts out there. The Master Cleanse allowing you to drink as much cayenne pepper,maple syrup and lemon water as you like for a minimum of a week. Atkins, eliminating all the Carbs from your life. I don’t know about you but somehow when I try one of these strict fasts or diets the inner, rebellious child in me comes out. All of a sudden I will eat things that I never even liked just because I am not supposed to. Plus how in the world is eating a cup of cheese (fat) on Atkins, better than eating a cup of carrots (carbohydrates)? And how is a body suppose to survive and function on sugary, lemon water? Sure you might lose the weight quickly but what does this actually teach your body? And are you really able to keep it off once you go back to eating normally?

I’m going to share a little secret with you. When I am looking to shed a few pounds in a timely manner, I turn to juicing. I load up on all the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that I want for two meals of the day and have a healthy protein based meal for my third meal. Try to juice at least two of your meals. I suggest always starting the day with juicing for breakfast and then based on your schedule and your day you can decide if your second juice meal will be lunch or dinner. In between, snack on fresh fruit/vegetables or a handful of nuts throughout the day. Your body gets all the nutrients it needs (probably more, since you will be meeting your fruit and vegetable quota), you still get the satisfaction of actually eating, and the regular meal feels like a reward that you get everyday. You will find your body making healthy choices and wont feel deprived along the way. By juicing you will get a variety of fruits and vegetables, find new tastes that you may not have ever tried, and be able to tolerate fruits/vegetables that you may have disliked before.

The best way to jump start your body into losing weight and teach your body to use food in the most productive way, I believe is through juicing . As Amanda Cross states in THE MIRACLE JUICE DIET “when a person eats nutritionally depleted food, not enough food or is putting extra pressure on the body through overwork, during illness or following surgery or when you are undergoing high levels of stress”, juicing is the answer.

Here is a breakdown of some fruits and vegetables and their benefits. I have also included a few hints and recipes. Try to get fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables first. Second best would be flash frozen. I prefer to water down my juice for a lighter, less pulpy consistency.

Melon highly nutritious, natural diuretic, powerful cleansers and detoxifiers, great for rehydration, orange melon (i.e. cantaloupe) high in beta carotene, watermelons have anticoagulant property, all are antiviral and antibacterial
Kiwi packed with vitamin C and fiber, excellent for immune system, lowering blood pressure, and heart health known in traditional chinese medicine for healing effect on stomach and breast cancer (called Chinese gooseberries)
Bananas best source of potassium (mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function), contain pectin; help normalize movement through the digestive tract and ease constipation rich in pre-biotics that nourish probiotics in the colon, help to decrease the risk of colon cancer
Berries antiviral and antibacterial, fabulous for the bloodstream
blueberries and blackcurrents help diarrhea and any urinary tract infection, raspberries contain a natural aspirin and help menstrual cramps, strawberries help the cardiovascular system as a whole
Avocados lower blood cholesterol and block carcinogens, high vitamin E content excellent for maintaining healthy skin, healing wounds and bolstering the immune system, help the body digest and metabolize fats
Cranberries deodorize urine and prevent bacteria in the bladder, prostate, and kidneys, can prevent kidney stones, very sour and may need to be combined with sweeter fruit in juices and smoothies
Citrus Fruits contain carotenoids, bioflavonoids and huge amounts of Vitamin C which are key in the fight against cancer, lower blood cholesterol and arterial plaque, antiviral and antibcterial
Papaya tops when it comes to aiding digestion as it helps to break down protein, protects against cancer and replenishes lost levels of Vitamin C, making it a good choice for smokers
Apples antioxidants, reduce cholesterol, cleanse the digestive system and boost the immune system, aid in the digestion of fats, small amount with soften the taste of a stronger vegetable blend
Plums help increase the absorption of iron into the body, great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, B2, dietary fibre and potassium
Pineapples anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial, help to dissolve blood clots, contain bromelain, which is essential in the digestion of protein
Mangos high in beta-carotene and full of potassium, perfect to replenish energy after heavy workout
Tomatoes lower the risk of cancer and heart disease, fight off free radicals
Broccoli high in antioxidants and Vitamin C, vital intake will help guard against lung, breast, and colon cancer, on low carb diet will help to regulate insulin and blood sugar, has been reported to deactivate cancer cells
Cabbage leading cancer fighter, can regulate estrogen metabolism and discourage formation of polyps, best raw and should be included in the diet 2-3 times per week
Sweet Potatoes help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, good source of Vitamin A, C and manganese, copper, dietary fibre, B6, potassium, and iron, anti-inflammatory, can help in reducing the severity of conditions where inflammation play a role (i.e. asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis)
Peppers Vitamin C, guard against macular degeneration and respiratory infections, help to keep arteries decongested and helpful with asthma, bronchitis and even the common cold, help keep nails, skin, and hair glossy and healthy
Green Leafy Vegetables full of lutein and beta-carotene and will battle cancer and regulate estrogen, try to have a couple green juices per week even if you favor sweeter juices
Celery and Fennel great at cleansing the digestive system of uric acid, high potassium content and therefore great for lowering high blood pressure, If you hold onto excess fluid and suffer from regular bloating, their diuretic effect is very powerful and should be the basis of the juices you create
Carrots nutritional power houses. when cooked=high on carb scale, high beta carotene content, fight cancer, protect arteries, battle infections and boost immunity, said to eliminate putrefactive bacteria in the colon and facilitate elimination of intestinal parasites

Also think about adding in supplements like milk thistle (liver function) , flax seeds (omega-3 and omega-6), Psyllium Husks (colon health), Yogurt (probiotic enzymes), Brewers Yeast (metabolism), ginger (immune system), and raw garlic (antibiotic) to name a few.

Hope you will share some of your favorite recipes. Here is one of mine. Red seedless grapes, cucumber, lemon, ginger root, and mint leaves. Great for digestion, bloating and water retention. Perfect for a day in a bikini.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Belly Flat?

How do you feel after you eat a meal? Energized or ready to take a nap? I usually feel the latter. And on top of it I tend to experience a lot of bloating and abdominal discomfort especially after eating certain foods. This is what initially lead me to a predominately Vegetarian lifestyle. First giving up red meat, pork, and chicken. Still the discomfort and bloating continued. I also tried eliminating certain foods from my diet, like milk. I never was a milk drinker to begin with even as a child, so this was very easy to give up. Switched to Soy milk and then due to the estrogen in soy, switched to Almond Milk. Tried acupuncture, going Vegan, colonics, you name it. Still no remedy.

Then I started thinking about how allergies develop over time, which prompted me to do some research and this is what I found.

"Eighty percent of our body’s energy is expended by the digestive process. If you are run down, under stress, living in a very hot or very cold climate, pregnant or a frequent traveler, then enormous quantities of extra enzymes are required by your body. Because our entire system functions through enzymatic action, we must supplement our enzymes. Aging deprives us of our ability to produce necessary enzymes. The medical profession tells us that all disease is due to a lack or imbalance of enzymes. Our very lives are dependent upon them!" The Healing Power of Enzymes, Dr. DicQie Fuller

The body is progressively losing its ability to produce enzymes with major drops occurring roughly every ten years of life. Symptoms of this include heartburn, gas, constipation, bloating, bowel disorders, food allergies, ulcers, lack of energy and reduced functioning of the immune system.

Have you noticed that you cannot tolerate or enjoy certain foods like you did before? Enzymes are needed for the digestive system to work. They are necessary to break down food particles so they can be utilized for energy. The human body makes approximately 22 different digestive enzymes which are capable of digesting carbohydrates, protein and fats. Raw vegetables and raw fruit are rich sources of enzymes. While all raw foods contain enzymes, the most powerful enzyme-rich food is sprouted seeds, grains, and legumes. Sprouting increases the enzyme content in these foods enormously.

Now as much as I love my fruits and veggies, I am not ready to live a Raw food lifestyle, yet.The following digestive enzyme supplements aid digestion:

AMYLASE works to breakdown carbohydrates i.e. starches, sugars
BROMELAIN taken from pineapple plant, helps break down proteins
HCL hydrochloric acid stimulates pancreatic secretion, activates pepsin and sterilizes the stomach from bacteria and parasites
LACTASE needed to break down lactose found in milk products
LIPASE works to break down fats into fatty acids and glycerol
OX BILE improves fat digestion, stimulates bile flow, aids gallbladder
PANCREATIN contains protease, amylase, and lipase, functions in the intestine and in the blood
PAPAIN extracted from papaya fruit, aids in protein digestion
PEPSIN breaks down proteins, function depends on availability of HCL
PROTEASE works to breakdown protein into amino 

The more food that you can eat raw, the better. That said, I have added a Digestive Enzyme supplement to my diet and have noticed quite a difference. I take one capsule either before or with every meal. I chose Source Naturals Bio Align Daily Essential Enzymes, which I purchased at my local Whole Foods. Many other brands are available. Now when I eat I feel energized and that the food is actually moving through my body the way it was intended to.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iphone Apps for working out

As many of you are, I am addicted to my Iphone. I want to use it for absolutely everything I possibly can. There are a few noteworthy Apps that I have found and use that I want to pass on to you.

The first is for all of you runners, cyclist, and rollerbladers. Its called Runkeeper. I downloaded a FREE version and love it. It works primarily off of a GPS system. Basically it computes how far you have gone in what amount of time and figures out your miles/hour and calories burned based off of your age, gender, and weight. You can save all your activities to see your progress as well as share info via twitter and facebook. The Ipod application will work while running this App, so never fear you can still listen to all your favorite tunes. This is a great application. One complaint I have is that the calories burned are only computed based off of the GPS distance and does not take into consideration resistance from winds or hilly terrain. I started wearing my heartrate monitor as well, since I am a bit anal about my calories (see my next favorite App) and found that it differed about 300 calories in my favor. And when you are counting calories, we all know every calorie counts.

The next App that I am addicted to is Lose It. Also FREE. I love that!! Lose it allows you to easily count your calories in and out. Many of the foods and exercises are already programmed into the software and their comprehensive database. However, you can also easily edit and add your own foods and exercises. On lose it you can set your goals by weight and date that you would like to reach it. It calculates the calories that you should take in per day based on removing the calories to lose the desired weight. Being the anal, overachiever that I am, I always try to stay below the goal number and input every bite and nibble. You can also track your nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fats by day and week. There is a graph that charts your progress as well and lets you know above it exactly how much you have lost to date. If you are trying to lose weight I highly recommend this App. Very user friendly and you will see the results. This truly works if you are diligent about inputting.

Do you have a health related IPhone App that you like?