The best cycling apps

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Like most aerobic fitness endeavors, cycling requires hard work in a variety of ways: commitment to training, planning routes and loops, developing a weekly schedule that works with your unique employment routine, and making sure your bike is regularly maintained for optimal performance.

With so many variables constantly at play, a biker’s life can occasionally be as hectic as it is relaxing and addictive. Luckily, there are a variety of technological resources available to make cycling an easier and smoother process, namely a long list of useful smartphone apps dedicated to the sports’ most crucial fundamentals.

Here are a few of the best cycling apps.

 

Strava

Strava has risen as a household name in fitness-based smartphone app technology. Aimed mainly at cyclists, runners, and walkers, the app records periods of activity and allows users to simultaneously log them and share them with other Strava users. For cyclists, the app is a great tool for monitoring rides and recording time over set segments.

 

Bike Gear Calculator

Simply titled, but infinitely useful, the Bike Gear Calculator app “is a quick way to compare different gears on your bike and on setups you’re considering, and for seeing how fast you’ll be travelling in a given gear at a particular cadence (pedal revolutions per minute).” The app serves as a great measuring tool and foresight resource for upcoming rides and races.

 

Cyclemeter

Cyclemeter’s main strength is its ability to use past and current experiences to contribute to future training approaches. The app implements GPS ride data to store your progress, focusing primarily on speed, distance, and overall time.

 

Garmin Connect Mobile

Like Strava, Garmin Connect Mobile stands as a popular resource among many different types of aerobic athletes. Specifically for cyclists, the app provides an advanced ride logging system through the Garmin Connect database, which can also be shared across Strava, MyFitnessPal, and other leading fitness-based apps. By using this app, cyclists will also have access to other Garmin features such as LiveTrack, which allows others to track you in real time during a ride.

 

Fill that Hole
Fundamentally different than the other apps on this list, Fill that Hole is a unique and quirky app designed to let cyclists report potholes and other road hazards to local authorities. The UK-based service strives to make the hazard reporting process easier and less micromanaged in terms of communication. After all, a roadside direct line of communication is a lot easier to navigate than a weekly municipal government meeting.

The miracle drug for health

mark dziuban, miracle drug for health

If I told you I have found a pill that has been scientifically proven to slow down the effects of aging, improve your mood, reduce chronic pain, lower your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, slow down or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, prevent diabetes, improve your sex drive…all while helping you lose weight and improve your overall physique, would you want to start taking it? How about if I told you it was absolutely free, would you want it even more? What if I told you this one pill, when taken regularly and in the correct dosage would also help you get off most, or all of your prescribed medications saving you potentially hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year when meeting health insurance deductibles and co-pays.

If this drug did in fact exist, would you want it? Well it does exist and it’s called *exercise*!

Let’s dig a little deeper.

It’s a scientific fact exercise improves the health of your cardiovascular system by increasing the strength of your heart. This enables your heart to pump more efficiently, therefore creating better blood circulation throughout your body delivering fresh oxygen to your now busy muscle groups and removing nasty toxins out of your body. Not only does exercise increase the size and strength of your muscles but it also increases the density of your bones. This is critical as we age.

Most recently exercise is now linked to overall good brain health providing better memory, less depression, improving comprehension and is now considered one of the best ways to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

So, what types of exercise are beneficial? Basically there are two types of exercise. First let’s talk about Aerobics. Think Jane Fonda. Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and breathing but not to a point of exhaustion. A brisk walk, a bike ride, raking leaves or mowing the lawn all require an increase in our heart and breathing rates. You can even take a slow paced jog through your neighborhood, run at a pace that allows you to have a conversation with a running partner.

Secondly, strength training or anaerobic exercise. Many people associate this type of training with sweaty gyms filled with sweaty guys pumping several hundred pounds of weights-not necessarily true. Strength training can be quite simple and easy to incorporate into our daily routines. Body weight exercises, done regularly such as push-ups, planks, and air squats can provide a challenge while promoting weight loss and improved, but not necessarily bigger, muscle tone. An inexpensive set of resistance training bands provide enough resistance to achieve noticeable results, and they pack easily into your suitcase so you can continue your workout regimen while traveling, no sweaty gyms required here! Pilates, Yoga, and Tai Chi are also great forms of body weight exercise promoting overall good health.

It’s recommended most adults exercise 150 minutes each week, (in addition to what you may already be doing), and also incorporate 2 sessions of resistance training each week will provide appreciable results. Remember, consistency is key.

The benefits of exercise are simply too numerous to list. 45 minutes, 3 times each week of easy aerobic work and 2 sessions of your choice of strength training every week is all it takes.

In the mid 1600’s an English doctor was quoted saying, “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

So, let’s take advantage of this miracle drug and get started!

Remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it!”

Five foods that might seem healthy, but are not

mark dziuban, foods that may seem healthy but are not

Since the United States first launched into its health craze about a decade ago, countless brands have been advertising that their foods are now “all-natural,” “gluten-free,” and/or “organic.”

Unfortunately, these claims are rarely ever true, as this presumably healthier food is often packed with saturated fats, toxic sugar substitutes, and high levels of carbohydrates.

Here is a list of five foods that might seem healthy, but actually are not:

 

Granola

It is important to note that not all granola is unhealthy, but many brands add unnecessary sugars and oils to their products during the cooking process, giving them a higher fat content. If you are craving granola, opt to make it at home instead. After all, there are plenty of savory recipes that are healthier — and more satisfying — than the usual store bought brands.

 

Flavored yogurt

No matter how lofty yogurt brands’ claims are, their flavored yogurt is not, in fact, a healthy breakfast option. Instead, these small cups are often loaded with more sugar than you would expect, leaving you feeling hungry shortly after tossing the plastic cup into the recycling bin, Make it a point to incorporate plain Greek yogurt into your diet. You can add fruit or spices to give it more flavor and it will leave you feeling more energized for the day ahead.

 

Margarine

Although it boasts a lower level of saturated fat than its classic butter counterpart, margarine is far worse for your body due to how many synthetic ingredients are added during its production. As a matter of fact, margarine is not even naturally yellow like butter is — it is more of a grey color, but it is bleached to emulate butter and steamed to remove any chemical odors. Perhaps it is time to pitch that container of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! and switch back to butter or a real natural alternative.

 

Instant oatmeal

As unfortunate as it is, packets of instant oatmeal hold little to no nutritional value, especially if they are flavored. Flavored oatmeal has been proven to contain too much added sugar, which, similar to the aforementioned flavored yogurt, will only leave you rummaging around for more food within an hour or so. Instead, opt for the classic instant oats and add in fruit, spices, and other items to add flavor and texture to your morning bowl of oatmeal.

 

Gluten-free foods

This is likely the most shocking item on this list, as gluten-free foods are presumed to be inherently better for you. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as gluten-free foods contain various rice flours, additional sugar, and starches that are not as nutritionally beneficial in comparison to whole grains. So, if you do not have a legitimate gluten allergy, it would be best to avoid gluten-free foods as much as possible.

Exercise habits to avoid

Mark dziuban, workout habits

No matter how long you have been actively pursuing a better fitness routine, it is possible that you have one or more bad exercise habits that are deterring your efforts. In order to fully reap the benefits of your time in the gym, be sure to avoid the following exercise habits:

Skipping gym days. It is no secret that exercising is sometimes a greater test of your mental willpower than your physical abilities. After all, it is rare to find a person who genuinely desires to go to the gym and work out — especially in front of others who may or may not be in better shape than they are. However, it is better to find a way to will yourself to get up, lace up your sneakers, and go to the gym anyway. Such persistence will benefit you in the long run.

 

Taking long rests between exercises. Although it may be tempting to sit down and take a long water break after an especially difficult set of weightlifting or a sprint, it is much better for you to take shorter breaks — anywhere between one and three minutes — as they give you the opportunity to catch your breath without losing momentum or drastically lowering your heart rate.

 

Eating and/or drinking too much. Indulging in full meals or drinking too much water before a work out can lead to nausea, cramps, and other painful side effects. It is better to eat a small, healthy snack — such as Greek yogurt, fruit, or granola — and drink no more than two glasses of water prior to your next trip to the gym, as this will give you the energy you need to follow through with your exercise plan without any additional pain.

If you do choose to eat a full meal before heading to the gym, be sure to do so about two to four hours beforehand.

 

Working out aimlessly. If you go into the gym without at least an outline of your regimen for the day, it is unlikely that you will gain much from your efforts, as you will be more prone to getting distracted or giving up mid-exercise because you are not totally sure of what you are doing.

 

Make it a point to write down your exercise plan, whether on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone. This will not only give you direction at the gym, but help you to familiarize yourself with your gym’s range of equipment as well.

Ways to make healthy eating affordable

Mark Dziuban, affordable healthy eating

A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden. Here are three easy ways to make healthy eating more affordable.

 

Change your way of thinking

You must possess the proper mindset if you are going to pursue a healthier diet, and this includes the financial end of this pursuit. It is no secret that many Americans resort to fast food, unhealthy frozen meals, and other quick answers to daily meals in an attempt to balance both their time and budget. A big step towards healthier living is coming to the realization that not all healthy meals require large amounts of time and money — you must break away from the conditioned association of unhealthy meal options and affordability. Once you have reached this point, you will be able to better focus on “good deals” that are also good for you.

 

Make a meal plan

If you are concerned about how healthy meals will impact your budget on a long term scale, it is wise to plan out your meals in advance. Use Sundays to make a meal list for the upcoming week, basing the list off of a predetermined meal budget. Estimate how much each meal will cost and use these figures to balance your plan to your liking. You can never have too much foresight in this field, and keeping these habits will give you a better natural perception of the meals you can and cannot make on a regular basis. Plus, if nothing else, a meal plan will add another component to your organization throughout a busy work week.

 

Relish the leftovers

Do not be afraid to make too much of a healthy meal — unless you are extremely picky about repeating specific courses, you may be able to use meal leftovers to get you through multiple days of eating, saving more money in the process. This way, you will at least ensure that you are eating something you know is healthy while saving time otherwise spent on new meal preparations. Additionally, you can use leftovers to craft other healthy dishes (stir frys, salads, and burritos, for example).

The best apps for dieting

Mark Dzuiban, dieting apps

Dieting can be difficult. For many people, a total change in eating habits can take a lot of time and effort as they strengthen their willpower and overall discipline.

Luckily, modern diets can be complemented by a variety of supplemental resources that aid dieters toward their goals. Dieting apps now stand as an obvious technological advantage for dieters owning a smartphone or other app-ready device.

Here are some of the best dieting apps (for both iphone and android).

 

MyFitnessPal

Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app is a go-to resource for nearly every type of dieter (though it is generally marketed towards those who are also active). The app allows users to easily enter foods and beverages they have eaten throughout the day to keep track of calories and crucial macronutrients (proteins, fats, sugars, etc.). The app then stacks these numbers up to predetermined calorie and macro totals based on your unique body type (weight, height) and your lifestyle (very active, moderately active). Additionally, the app is able to factor in calories burned during physical activities, which can also be logged in a similar manner.

 

Diet Point – Weight Loss

Diet Point – Weight Loss is a handy dieting app that provides users with over 130 different diet plans, each tailored to a different lifestyle and starting point. This wide set of options gives users the convenience of avoiding guesswork in terms of figuring out how to get started. Furthermore, users can enjoy close to 500 preloaded tips to improve their individual weight loss plans and achieve their goals. The app also comes with a BMI calculator, which always serves as a helpful tracking resource for those dedicated to losing weight.

 

My Diet Coach

My Diet Coach is aimed primarily at women, but it features a motivation-heavy theme focused on inspiring users to continuously reach for their weight goals. A big staple of the app is its reminder feature, which allows users to set daily reminders personalized to your regular dieting needs or responsibilities (users can set alarms to drink more water or prepare a healthy lunch, for example). Other helpful features include a diet diary, a motivational photo album, and a list of perseverance tips.

 

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has existed as a dieting resource for many years now, and its mobile app is a testament to its continued relevance amongst dieters nationwide. The app follows Weight Watchers classic “PointsPlus” system, which goes beyond typical dieting management by grading users through a points system (rather than through calorie counting alone). The app does require a paid subscription after prolonged use, but with a variety of food and weight tracking features and a 24/7 chat option that links users to weight coaches, your money will be well spent.

 

Let’s lose some fat

You’ve heard the advertisements on TV and have read the ads in your favorite magazines, “Use our product and turn your unwanted body fat into muscle.” Sounds easy and simple doesn’t it? Here’s a fact, it can’t be done-it’s just that simple. Fat can never be converted into muscle. In order to achieve the “turn fat into muscle look” you must lose the fat and build your muscle. So, let’s lose some fat.

Glucose, or sugars, are our bodies only source of energy. We can not change that, our bodies need sugar to expend energy. What is in our control however is where our bodies pull that energy from. Carbohydrates are sugars. If we eat too much food in the form of carbohydrates, our body naturally converts excess carbohydrates into triglycerides which get stored in our adipose fat tissues for future requirements. So, if you continue to eat, and not expend enough energy to meet your food intake, into the “ole storage bin” those excess triglycerides go. If you’re like me, that’s right to your midsection.

Our bodies hold a supply of glucose, ready for immediate use in our bloodstream and in our liver. When we exercise and elevate our heart rate above 50% of our maximum heart rate, (MHR), our bodies burn the glucose that is the easiest to get to, the glucose in our bloodstream and liver. Slow your heart rate down and your body will go to your adipose fat tissue and convert your stored triglycerides back into usable glucose. If you exercise at a heart rate below 50% of your MHR, you will “burn fat”-it’s that simple. SLOW DOWN and “burn fat”.

So, let’s find where the ideal heart rate range is so you can monitor your heart rate while performing low level, or steady state aerobics.. We’ll need to calculate your maximum heart rate, (MHR), and your resting heart rate, (RHR). Calculating your MHR is quite simple using this formula:

208-(0.7 x age) = MHR. So a 42 year old would simply calculate as follows:

208-(0.7 x 42) = MHR, 208-29.4 = 178.6, let’s round up to 179 beats per minute, (BPM).

Now that we know your MHR let’sget your RHR. The best time of the day to check your RHR is before you get out of bed in the morning. Simply find your pulse, count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. Let’s say you came up with 60 BPM. Now we have all the information we need to calculate 50% of your MHR.

((MHR-RHR)/2) + RHR = 50% of MHR
((179-60)/2) + 60 = 50% of MHR
(119/2) + 60 = 50% of MHR
60 + 60 = 120.

Now, per this example, if you were to exercise while keeping your heart rate below 120 BPM, you will convert “fat”, (in the form of triglycerides), back into usable energy or blood glucose.

Be patient, once your body realizes your heart rate has increased it will immediately begin to use your blood glucose but after 15-20 minutes of maintaining an exercise heart rate below 120, your body will begin to convert stored triglycerides back into a usable energy source.

So, go exercise and keep your heart rate down! You’ll finally lose that unwanted fat easier and faster than if you exercised harder!!!

Remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it!”

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 3-Activity Expenditure

From my previous posts, we have learned the calculation for daily total caloric expenditure. Let’s review:

Total Caloric Expenditure = Resting Metabolic Rate, (RMR), + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure.

We learned how to correctly calculate our Resting Metabolic Rate for our current body weight. We could have taken that formula a step further by first calculating our Lean Body Mass, or our body’s lean weight which is comprised of the combined weight of our bones, muscles, organs, and water mass, but we can save that for a future post as it is not entirely necessary to get you started.

We have also learned that our bodies use energy to digest and process the food we eat. Energy, in the form of calories, and how to calculate that.

So now let’s move on and discuss the third and final value of our equation, Activity Expenditure. According to the National Federation of Professional Trainers, (NFPT), the average adult burns approximately 500 calories per day performing normal daily activities. If you consider yourself a little more or less active than most you may consider adding or subtracting 100 calories from the 500 calories per day average.

Going back again to our example 34-year-old female from previous posts, we have determined her Resting Metabolic Rate to be 1,380 calories, her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories, and her average daily Activity Expenditure to be 500 calories.

1,380-Resting Metabolic Rate + 230 Thermal Effect of Food + 500 Activity Expenditure = 2,110 total required caloric intake to maintain her current 142 pounds.

Note per this example, to maintain her current weight of 142 pounds she should be taking in 2,110 calories per day but we see she is actually consuming 2,300 calories per day or an excess of 190 calories per day. Knowing that one pound of fat “weighs” 3,500 calories we can determine with a great degree of certainty, our 34 year old female will gain one pound in just under three weeks! How do we know that? Well let’s do the math”

Current daily caloric intake (2,300) – current daily caloric expenditure (2,100)=daily caloric surplus (190)

3,500 calories per pound divided by her daily caloric surplus of 190 calories per day equals 18.42 days! In theory every 18.42 days our 34 year old female will gain one pound of unwanted weight!

What does she need to do to stop this weight gain? Diet….right? Well, not necessarily. Why give up something she may enjoy. The thought of dieting, or restricting caloric intake, carries a negative connotation. So, rather than restrict 500 calories per day let’s burn 500 calories per day! Go for a walk! Your kids and dog will love you! If our example 34-year-old female walked 1 hour each day at a brisk pace, she will burn approximately 450 calories she currently does not burn. So instead of having a surplus of 190 calories, she will now have a calorie deficit of approximately 260 calories per day! (450 calories burned walking less 190 daily caloric surplus equals 260). Knowing a pound of fat weighs 3,500 calories, she will lose one pound of fat every two weeks! (3,500/260=13.46).

You say you don’t have time to walk, how far do you walk to your local coffee barista? 1 mile each way and you are half way done. There is no better time to appreciate the benefits of light exercise as immediately following meal time. After every meal, our bodies either store or use the most recent calories consumed so no better time to put those calories to good use as just after taking them in! Remember to walk slightly faster than your comfortable pace to achieve good results. On those rainy days, pull out and dust off that old exercise equipment you bought a few years ago and rarely used.

Now that you understand your Caloric Expenditure you are finally armed with the basic knowledge to start becoming a healthier you!

And remember, “I you want it, you’ve gotta go get it!”

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 2-The Thermal Effect of Food

Mark Dziuban - Thermal

In part one of this series, we learned how to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, which is how many calories your body burns to provide for all it’s necessary bodily functions. You now know how many calories your body requires before you do anything more than lay in bed all day.

Now that we understand and have calculated your resting metabolic rate, we have a little more work to do. Before we do that, let’s look at the equation for Total Caloric Expenditure.

Total Caloric Expenditure = RMR + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure

The Thermal Effect of Food is the total number of calories required to digest your food. Yes, your body burns calories when processing, or digesting the food you eat. Your body burns calories absorbing and distributing those nutrients throughout your body. No, you cannot eat more food to burn more calories and lose weight. While that would be a fun way to lose weight, the fact is our bodies burn far fewer calories digesting the food we eat than the total number of calories contained in that food. We are going to use a very simple method to determine your Thermal Effect of Food. Remember that this figure varies depending on the types of food ingested. Simply calculate 10% of your daily caloric intake. The answer is the approximate number of calories required to digest and process our food. So, using our example 34-year-old female from our previous post, let’s say she consumes 2,300 calories per day. So, multiplying 2,300 calories by 10% or, 2,300 x .10 we determine her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories. Her RMR we previously calculated to be 1,378.13 or let’s around up to 1,380 for easier math. Her Thermal Effect of Food is 230 so we know she currently burns 1,610 calories per day, 1,380 + 230 = 1,610.

We are well on our way to having a good idea how many calories we burn in a single day.

Before we move on any further, let’s talk about the three categories of metabolism. There are the Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and the Endomorph. Do you have a friend or family member who seemingly can eat anything at any time and never gain a single pound of weight? That lucky person is an Ectomorph, or is better identified as having a very high metabolism. A Mesomorph is one who has a normal metabolism and an Endomorph has a difficult time losing weight. You’ll need to determine which category you fit in to you will need to be honest with yourself. So, when calculating your Total Caloric Expenditure, or TCE, add 500 calories if you are an Ectomorph. If you are a Mesomorph, do nothing and for an Endomorph you will need to deduct 200 calories once you determine your daily caloric intake.

For sake of our example, let’s assume our 34-year-old female is a mesomorph and requires no change once we determine our new daily caloric intake requirements.

In part three of this series, we will talk a little bit about lean body mass, (LBM), and try to help you determine your activity expenditure.

As a side note: For those of you who are considering weight loss supplements: There are many weight loss supplements available in the store or online which have key ingredients that are not scientifically studied. Check on the internet to find if your “miracle product” references any scientific studies on humans-you may be surprised.

Until next time, always remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Mark Dziuban - Bone Broth

Bone broth has been a widespread remedy for sickness for years, but before it was a remedy, it was a staple of our ancestors’ diets. Since no part of the animal could be wasted, our ancestors would boil down anything that could not be directly consumed (bones, ligaments, etc.) into a broth that was much easier to digest. Research is now showing that bone broth has multiple health benefits, and it could make its way back into our diets as more than just a cold remedy.

Joint Health

The natural aging process of humans results in wear and tear on our joints. This wear and tear is more evident in athletes as they often put more stress on their joints. This wear and tear causes cartilage to break down and degrade. Bone broth is quite possibly the best resource of natural collagen in the world. The simmering of bone broth causes the collagen from the bone to bind to the broth and become easily absorbed into the body where it can repair and restore damaged collagen. Bone broth also contains high concentrations of gelatin, which is the body’s natural lubricant allowing bones to glide and pivot freely without friction. Researchers at Penn State University ran a 24-week study on athletes who consumed bone broth regularly, and the majority of those athletes saw significant improvements in bone and joint comfort resulting in greater athletic performance.

Gut Health

The same gelatin that helps lubricate your joints has also been found to be beneficial to gut health while having a positive effect on wheat and dairy food allergies. These allergies are usually associated with intestinal inflammation that causes the symptoms associated with allergies like Celiacs Disease and Lactose Intolerance. The gelatin combats these allergies by restoring the gut lining, helping with the growth of probiotics, and most importantly regulating and supporting healthy inflammation levels.

Skin Health

Collagen is the main building block of the compounds that are responsible for a youthful, radiant skin. Studies have shown that the presence of high quality collagen, like that found in bone broth, reduces the sign of wrinkles, decreases swelling, and maintains the elasticity of skin. When women between 35 and 55 years old supplemented with 2.5-5 grams of collagen, they found an increase in elasticity and moisture along with a decrease in transepidermal water loss and skin roughness.

Immune Health

Bone broth has been found to be the best natural remedy for Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut is caused by undigested food particles seeping through tiny openings in the weakest parts of the intestinal lining. The particles make their way from the intestines into the bloodstream causing the immune system to overreact in two ways: inflammation and the release of large amounts of antibodies into the bloodstream. These antibodies end up attacking healthy tissue, which in turn wreaks havoc on the immune system. The collagen, gelatin, and amino acids in bone broth strengthen the intestinal lining, which can ultimately cure Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Along with the above mentioned benefits, bone broth also contains many key micronutrients giving it the title “nature’s multivitamin.” Add bone broth to your diet once a week to capitalize on all of these great health benefits.