More ways to make healthy eating affordable

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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 more easy ways to make healthy eating affordable.

 

Don’t buy it, grow it

When it comes to healthy eating, you cannot beat homegrown foods. Many wholesome items, especially fruits and vegetables, are capable of being planted and grown at home in a garden or greenhouse. Figure out which of these foods you consume the most, then find out how to effectively plant and nurture it so that you can produce it yourself. The process may be slow and a little time-consuming at first, but it should pay off in saved money and peace of mind knowing you are eating as naturally as possible.

 

Buy in bulk

Bulk buying can be a huge money saver in many aspects of grocery shopping, and it is just as effective when applied to a healthy eating regimen. You can buy almost any healthier food options in bulk, including grains, meats, fruits, and vegetables. Namely, items like breads and smaller fruits like berries and apples stand as ideal bulk choices thanks to their larger quantities. This approach will save you time otherwise spent on periodic weekly shopping trips, and it should also cut down on general costs (assuming you effectively divide your high-volume purchases into logical portions).

 

Freeze and refrigerate meals

I previously discussed how meal plans can be a huge asset to affordable, healthy eating, as they allow you to plan out healthy meals and apply them to the constraints of your weekly grocery budget. However, you can take this approach a step further by actually preparing your planned meals in advance and freezing or refrigerating them. Depending on the food in question, you should be able to quickly thaw out your food for an at-home meal or a packed work lunch without the present effort of throwing it together on a time schedule. You may even find yourself less stressed as a result of the latter notion.

Diet or lifestyle

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Commonly, when we want to lose weight we go on a “diet”. We often define diet as a reduction in food intake however, the definition of diet, according to the “Concise English Dictionary”, is “Mode of living, now only with especial reference to food.” So, diet is really lifestyle. When we say we are going to go on a “diet”, that carries a negative connotation that one must starve one self in order to lose weight. In fact, what one really needs to do is to make a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change which promotes healthier eating while improving our physical and, subsequently, our mental well being. Let’s face it, nothing improves our mental and emotional well being as seeing our reflection of our ten pound lighter selves.

Before you start your new diet you need to have a general understanding how our bodies convert food into energy and how it stores unused energy for future use. Glucose, or sugar, converted from ingested carbohydrates, is your bodies preferred source of energy, (or fuel), during daily activity. The average adults cardiovascular system has the capacity to maintain approximately 80 calories of blood glucose. When blood glucose rises beyond this level, insulin is released carrying excess glucose back to the liver where blood glucose is converted into it’s storage form, glycogen. Our liver is capable of storing 300-400 calories of glycogen. Once the liver stores are full, insulin carried glycogen is carried to muscles which require glycogen for repair from previous, strenuous activity. The final destination for excess, unused glycogen beyond this point is adipose fat tissue. So, in short, carbohydrates consumed in excess ultimately get stored INSIDE your adipose, or fat tissues as triglycerides.

Now, before you stop ingesting carbohydrates all together and throw on a pair of running shoes to burn off all that excess adipose fat tissue, let’s slow down and talk about this a little more.

We now know ingested carbohydrates are converted into energy. We also know our cardiovascular system stores approximately 80 calories for immediate energy needs. So, instead of ingesting large amounts of carbohydrates three times daily, we should ingest smaller amounts more often so we can slowly replace our depleting blood glucose levels due to daily activity while preventing excess fuel storage in the form of triglycerides which reside in our adipose fat tissues.

So, don’t go on a “diet” and starve yourself. A prolonged, low calorie diet will lead to a slower metabolism and most likely will contribute to weight gain.

In my next blog I will follow up and explain why resistance training is critical to a successful weight loss program which will improve your overall body composition and increased weight loss.

Until then remember, “If you want it, you have to go get it.”

The best movies for fitness motivation

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Movies are appealing for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons we continually absorb them is the chance to live vicariously through their characters. Nearly all movie characters endure challenges that are reflective of our own lives in one way or another, and this connection can be incredibly motivating in the right context.

This notion is especially true of sports and fitness films, many of which feature protagonists attempting to improve their athletic skills, win a crucial competition, or simply find their place in not only their sport of choice, but the culture encapsulating that sport.

Here are a few of the best films for fitness motivation.

 

Rocky

Often regarded as one of the most uplifting and motivational sports films of all time, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky consistently produces a powerful vicarious effect over viewers. Something about Rocky Balboa’s against-all-odds situation is potent and moving, especially when paired with the brutal chapters of his training to fight heavyweight champion Apollo Creed.

At its core, Rocky is a typical David and Goliath tale, but with enough memorable characters and doses of reality to keep it fresh, it is able to remain one of the most resonant films of all time (and if those factors don’t pull you in, the film’s score will).

 

Remember the Titans

The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Remember the Titans focuses on the true story of African-American football coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington), who helped to bring racial unity to the T.C. Williams High School football team. Though the film is occasionally criticized for following an all too familiar sports film plot, it ultimately succeeds in providing an uplifting message that intertwines themes of tolerance and hard work.

 

Warrior

Warrior exhibits many of the same emotional drawing points as similar films before it (namely Rocky), but it is able to rise above cliche with a series of strong performances and a plot that is full of heart. The fim stars Tom Holland and Joel Edgerton as “two estranged brothers whose entrance into a mixed martial arts tournament makes them come to terms with their lives and each other.” The film is able to remain motivational due to its effective blending of familial turmoil and athletic drama.

 

Miracle

Miracle tells the true story of the 1980 United States men’s hockey team, which stunned the world when it defeated the heavily favored Soviet team to win gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics (aka the “Miracle on Ice”). The film is yet another classic underdog story told in a relatable and inspirational manner.

Kurt Russell’s “again” scene alone is chilling enough to inspire fresh training motivation.

The miracle drug for health

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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.

Exploring popular superfoods

Mark Dziuban

Throughout your dietary endeavors, you have probably come across the term “superfood.” This term is a bit ambiguous in a way; clearly it has a positive connotation, but why?

In reality, “superfood” is a marketing term used to refer to foods that present nutritional benefits. While the term is pretty broad in its most basic meaning, the foods it encompasses do consistently prove to be healthy for a variety of reasons.

Here are some of the most popular superfoods, and the reasons they are seen as smart eating choices.

 

Almonds

While most nuts are known for providing a variety of nutritional benefits, almonds are consistently found to be one of the most nutritionally dense nuts on the market, offering the “highest concentration of nutrients per calorie” of any nut, according to Greatist.com. Additionally, almonds are found to be high in potassium, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.

 

Watermelon seeds

Watermelon itself is sometimes grouped in the superfood category, but the fruit’s seeds appear to be what has the most nutrients. Seeds are commonly spit out or thrown away in favor of the sweet, juicy parts of the melon, but you should refrain from following this approach, as the seeds are found to provide magnesium, amino acids, good fats, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, among other important nutrients (according to Rawguru.com).

 

Avocados

Avocados are unique in a lot of ways, from their distinguishable shape to their specific nutritional value. One characteristic that sets avocados aside from most fruits is that they are high in good fats, whereas most fruits are rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. They also provide 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and C, and actually contain more potassium than bananas.

 

Eggs

The nutritional value of eggs has been debated for a long time, but the latest verdict is that their health benefits outweigh their potential flaws (they are high in cholesterol, but are not found to negatively impact blood cholesterol levels). According to AuthorityNutrition, a single large boiled egg contains a reasonable percentage of vitamin A, phosphorus, selenium, and folate, in addition to a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Eggs are also loaded with protein, healthy fat, and omega-3s (the latter depending on how the eggs are prepared and enriched prior to being sold).

 

Kiwi

An occasionally overlooked fruit, kiwis are loaded with antioxidants. They are found to bring a variety of unique and interesting health benefits to the table, ranging from aiding in digestion to serving as a light sleep inducer. Factor in high amounts of fiber and vitamin C and you are left with a fruit that truly lives up to “super” status.

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!”

3 Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

There has been a stigma around dietary fats as long as humans have been studying nutrition. Whether it was the realization that fats contain more calories per gram than carbs and protein in the 50s, or the influence companies had on advertising in the 70s, people have been scared to eat fat. Science has come a long way in the last 60 years, and we are finding that a diet high in fat is actually beneficial and quite healthy for most humans. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that is designed to put the body in a state of ketogenesis. A ketogenic diet, just like all diets, is not for everyone, but if you are able to try it, you will experience the following benefits.

Appetite Suppression

Most people site hunger as one of the main reasons that led them to give up on their diet. The majority of diets people try do not allow them to eat enough food, which results in them always being hungry. The Ketogenic diet has been a proven appetite suppressant, and it is mainly due to the low-carb aspect of the diet. When you ingest sugars (carbs), your body will constantly crave more sugar. By eliminating that from your diet, your body will be able to run more efficiently without telling you it is hungry every hour.

Eating More Fat Leads to Fat Loss

Yes, you heard that right. The age old belief of cutting fat from your diet will cut fat from your midsection is just not true. The reason people have trouble losing bodily fat is because they’re misinformed on how that fat is stored. Your body stores excess carbs as fat when you do not use them as fuel, and as you eat more carbs, you will first need to use what you just consumed before you can tap into your fat stores. If you eliminate those carbs from your diet, your body will begin converting stored fat to fuel, which will leave you looking leaner and feeling better.

More Energy

One thing almost everyone who goes keto notices pretty early on in the diet is drastically increased energy. Your body is not working nearly as hard to break down sugars, and it will leave you with long-lasting energy all day. Along with more energy throughout the day, most people have shown drastic changes to their sleep patterns. That 2 PM grogginess at your desk will disappear within the first week of switching over to keto, too.

If you are interested in exploring a new diet, you may find that going keto has all of the benefits you are looking for. It’s not difficult to make the switch, and you’ll find it’s easy an easy diet to maintain. Trying it out for a few weeks could end up leading to you making a lifestyle change and going keto for the long run.

How to Prepare for an Adventure Race

Adventure races are quickly becoming a bucket list item for many outdoor enthusiasts across the country. The races resemble a triathlon with tweaks to the woods to add the element of nature into the mix. The most common adventure races include three events: Trail running, mountain biking, and kayaking. Whether you are a seasoned triathlete or this is your first multi-event race, there are steps to take to make sure you have a successful first adventure race.

Start Small

Adventure races are hard, and there is no way around that. Don’t jump into something overwhelming for your first race. There are sprint adventure races with shorter stages that still give you the satisfaction of completing the race without requiring you to train like an olympic athlete. Find a few shorter races to find out what works best for you in terms of events and length. Once you are comfortable with those races, it may be time for you to move on to longer events and multi-day races.

Train Smarter, Not Harder

Don’t confuse the title as an excuse to just cruise through your training plan without pushing yourself. You need to push yourself, but there is a point of diminishing returns. The days of training to exhaustion daily are behind us, and there is plenty of research that shows recovery is just as important as hard training days are. There are plenty of training plans for triathlons, and they can easily be adapted to your adventure race. Find something that’s tailored to a race around the same length as yours and stick to it.

Get Comfortable with your Equipment

One of the biggest issues most people have with their first adventure race is a lack of familiarity with their kayak or mountain bike. You will want to spend a few hours per week getting used to them before you start your training program. Make sure you know how to perform trail maintenance on your bike including changing a flat and replacing a chain link. These two issues alone will keep many people from finishing the bike stage.

Learn the Course

Most adventure races will have course maps available online long before the race starts. If it is close to home, take a weekend to explore the course. It will go a long way on race day. If you cannot get to the course before the race you can always find out what trails you will be on and find YouTube videos from the same trail system. There’s a good chance someone rode the route with a GoPro and posted it online.

Adventure races are a great way to experience nature and challenge yourself both physically and mentally. They’re popping up all over the place. If you want to mix your love for the outdoors with your love of fitness, then these races will be perfect for you.