Tips for beginning cyclists

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Millions of Americans, myself included, ride bikes.  And that number is growing all the time.  If you’re thinking of joining the growing number of people joining the cycling movement, here are some tips for beginner cyclists, taken from a great post I read on the site active.com:

 

Protect your skull

Every year, head injuries are responsible for nearly 60% of cycling deaths in the US, and many of these could be avoided by wearing a helmet.  Many states have bike helmet laws, but law or no law, you should always wear one.  And if you’re cycling with your kids, make sure they do too.  

 

Use your gears

When climbing hills, shift into a gear that will keep your cadence in the right range of rpm’s, so that you can make it without putting undue stress on your knees.  

 

…and avoid pedaling in high gear for too long

A good rule of thumb is to try and keep your cadence between 70 and 90 rpm’s.  When you pedal in a high gear, then it puts added strain on your knees.

 

Get the right saddle

The right saddle makes a huge difference when you’re riding.  The thickest padding won’t necessarily give you the most comfortable ride.  Generally the best type of saddle is a longer seat with a cutout.  

 

Change position while riding

If you keep your hands, arms, or rear in the same position for too long, then they risk getting numb.  To avoid this, make sure you mix things up.  Move your hands around on the bars, and move your rear end around on the saddle.  

 

Don’t ride with your headphones on

A lot of people enjoy listening to music or podcasts while they’re working out.  But that’s not something you want to do when you’re riding a bike.  If you can’t hear an emergency vehicle or other commotions behind you or off to the side because your music is playing too loud, then that can be extremely dangerous.  If you do want music, try for a small clip-on radio with a speaker that you can attach to your jersey.  

 

Know the rules

Ride with traffic and obey all road signs.  They’re meant for bikes just as much as cars!  Keep a close eye on all cars in front of you so that you can try and anticipate what they’re going to do.  

 

Keep your head up

Keep your helmeted head up in front far enough so that you’ll be able to react to any obstacles in the road, or on the shoulder in front of you.  You want to be aware of what’s coming ahead; something like a storm drain grate is very bad for skinny road bike tires.  

Three ways to bring yourself out of a fitness lull

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There is an old adage that is commonly applied to the process of getting and staying in shape: “the best way to get in shape is to never fall out of it.”

This observation is simple enough, but as any seasoned fitness addict can likely attest, it can be a hard one to constantly apply to your daily workout routine. Every fitness-based schedule, whether it is rooted in weight training, cycling, running, or yoga, is bound to come with its lulls, or periods of time where you feel drained, out of it, or less motivated. These moments are natural, but they can be daunting depending on their severity.

If you are currently stuck in a fitness lull, here are a few quick tips to bring yourself out of it.

 

Shorten your workout

There are many potential contributing factors to a fitness lull, but one of the biggest culprits is overtraining. If you are a runner or a cyclist, for instance, you may have added too many miles too quickly and are now paying for it as your aerobic endurance fights to catch up. In situations like this, a great remedy is to simply shorten your workouts for a few days (or even a few weeks, depending on your exhaustion levels). Cut back a few miles, a few reps, or a few minutes, or simply take a day or two off completely. Then, slowly add intensity and duration to naturally and healthily get back to where you had been prior to your lull. In most cases, you should return to form feeling refreshed.

 

Change your scenery

Whatever your fitness endeavor may be, there is an accompanying environment in which you likely pursue it on a regular basis (weight lifting in a specific gym, doing yoga or cross training in a specific room of the house). If you find yourself lagging with the same old routine in the same old location, revamp the latter by completing your workout with different scenery. This approach is almost entirely mental, but it can potentially perk you up and give your workout a new appeal. You will be surprised how much difference a slight change in surroundings will make.

 

Find a partner

The benefits of a workout partner are almost too obvious to list, yet many people still prefer to do all their workouts alone. Though there is nothing wrong with an occasional solo effort, a partner-based workout system is scientifically proven to jumpstart your motivation. Your partner will be completing the same physical challenges as you, and this comradery alone is motivating as the two of you push each other to the same endpoint. Furthermore, keeping a steady conversation can be asset to making otherwise tedious runs and rides pass by quickly.

More ways to make healthy eating affordable

mark-dziuban-healthy-eating-affordable

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

mark-dziuban-diet-or-lifestyle

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 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.

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).

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.

Healthy Substitutes for Guilty Pleasure Foods

Adhering to a strict diet is tough, and many people do not realize how difficult it is to stay the course until they have already committed to it. The benefits of a healthy diet are well documented, but there are always cravings that pop up. By making health-conscious substitutes, it is still possible to enjoy your guilty pleasure foods without neglecting your diet.

Black Beans for Flour in Baking

Most people could benefit from consuming less flour in their diets. If you have any type of gluten insensitivity or are following the Paleo diet like myself, then flour is not an option in your diet. Luckily, black beans make a great flour substitute for baking. Swap out a cup of all-purpose flour for a cup of washed and pureed black beans the next time you are craving brownies. Aside from eliminating the flower, you also add extra grams of protein to the mix.

Spaghetti Squash for Noodles in Pasta

There are plenty of pasta substitutes on shelves in the grocery store, but the best one I’ve found so far is a baked spaghetti squash. Cut the squash in half and spread a layer of oil on the open halves along with some salt and pepper for taste. Lay them open-half up in a baking pan with some water and cover the pan with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the inside of the squash is easily removed with a fork.

Coconut Oil for Coffee Creamer

Most coffee creamers are packed with sugar and dairy, both of which can be detrimental to your health. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee in the morning and blend it to get a smooth, velvety consistency. Research has also shown that MCTs in the coconut oil help provide longer lasting energy that creamer cannot match.

Avocado for Butter

Someone somewhere had the idea to swap a 1:1 ratio of avocado for butter in baking, and that person should receive a medal. While butter is not awful, it cannot compare to the nutritional benefits of an avocado. Next time you are craving chocolate chip cookies, try swapping out the butter for avocado, and I bet you won’t even taste the difference.

Sticking to a nutritional plan should not make you miserable, and you should be enjoying the foods you are eating. By making these healthy substitutions, you can stay the course and enjoy every meal.

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been gaining popularity in the health and wellness world over the past decade due to its seemingly unlimited uses. Originally marketed as a cooking oil, coconut oil has since grown into a universal product that you’ll find in the cupboard of most health-conscious people. While it is still a popular cooking oil, it is also used for much more around the house.

Beauty and Health Uses

Skin Moisturizer

Coconut oil has been proven to be as effective as many store-bought moisturizers without any of the added chemicals or dyes.

Lip Balm

While coconut oil is a great skin moisturizer, it is also an effective lip balm. A thin layer can protect your lips from the cold and wind all winter long.

Oil Pulling

Swishing or “pulling” coconut oil in your mouth has been shown to improve teeth and gum health, eliminate bad breath, stop tooth decay, and kill unwanted bacteria.

Toothpaste

Mix coconut oil with baking soda and a drop of peppermint oil to create a gentle toothpaste that will leave your breath fresh all day.

Deodorant

The natural antibacterial properties of coconut oil make it great at fighting body odor. If you don’t like the consistency of an oil as a deodorant, combine it with a little baking soda to thicken it.

Shaving Cream

For many men, including myself, shaving causes a number of problems including razor burn and the occasional ingrown hair. Try a layer of coconut oil after a hot shower as your shaving cream to eliminate those issues.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Coconut oil is a great substitute for an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner. It also works wonders on dandruff!

Cooking Uses

Toast Topper

Instead of spreading butter on the top of your toast, reach for the coconut oil. The consistency and flavor will have you wondering why you never tried it before.

Coffee Creamer

Throw a tablespoon of coconut oil in your coffee in the morning and blend it to create a velvety morning drink that will pack a punch.

Popcorn Dressing

Toss your freshly-popped popcorn in a bowl with coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt for a healthier alternative and a new taste.

Energy Drink

Most sports drinks are jam packed with sugar and unwanted additives. Add coconut oil and some fruit to a glass of water to create a delicious pre-workout drink.

Around the House

Gum Removal

There are plenty of guides online on how to remove gum from the couch or from your hair, and coconut oil is up there as one of the most effective. The oils will break down the gum and make it easier to remove.

Shine Your Shoes

Shoe shining kits can be expensive, and you may only use them once or twice before they sit in your closet collecting dust. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to your shoes to get them shining while protecting them at the same time.

Slow Dust Accumulation

Speaking of collecting dust, it seems as though dusting is a chore that you could do daily and the dust keeps coming back. Spread some coconut oil on anything made of wood or plastic that collects a lot of dust and let it dry.

The versatility of coconut oil is impressive, and people are finding new uses for it every day. Make sure you find a spot for it in your pantry, in your medicine cabinet, in your broom closet, or all three today.