Exercise makes you feel and look great. It releases endorphins and dopamine which give you a sense of accomplishment and reward when it is over. So why is it so hard to take that first step and get moving? Your head has a lot to do with that. When you don’t work out and your body is used to saving energy and resisting fat loss, your brain will also believe that exercise is not needed and you cannot fully involve yourself in the activity.
If it is easy to subconsciously allow your body and brain to think that way, it is just as easy to reverse those thoughts. Cues throughout your day such as your sneakers, gym bag or even a short walk at lunch can help remind you that your workout is waiting.
Another great way to start and stay motivated is having to be held accountable. Checking in or logging your workouts to a website, diary or blog will give you motivation as well as reminders when you do or do not workout. Exercising with a partner who is at your same fitness level will help you set realistic goals, maintain motivation and give a little competition.
Changing up your workout is always beneficial to beating boredom but doing something like high intensity interval training will also give you a quick blast of energy and feel good hormones while being done in a shorter amount of time. A workout like this may include sprints or hills to help spike the heart rate, and then give you a natural recovery.
Once you become acquainted with the gym and your exercise habits, teach someone else a few moves, skills or workouts. This will help to push you harder while also allowing you to feel proud and accomplished with your hard work!
We all struggle to find the time to exercise. Life is busier now than it has ever been and with this strain on time one of the first things to go is exercise. But what if I told you that it doesn’t always have to be a minimum of 30 minutes, or even 15 minutes. What if an effective exercise session could be as little as 5 minutes? Certainly, we could all find 5 minutes somewhere in our busy day. Even those of you who say that you already wake up to early and adding more time to your day is not possible. Well it’s time to put the excuses away and get down to business.
A new study published in the The Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that as little as 5 minutes a day of running lowers an individuals mortality rate. This held true regardless of the actual running pace that was achieved, although those individuals running at an increased speed seemed to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.
While further research is still needed to see if this holds true for other forms of exercise, the study indicates that running had better mortality benefits versus moderate activities such as walking. Time to put down the excuses, lace up the shoes, and hit the road…at least for 5 minutes.
Perfect for a summer day, this salad combines vitamin A-rich carrots with tasty avocado; a perfect combination according to a recent study (see PLC’s previous blog post for details)
1 lb carrots
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 firm-ripe avocado
- Halve carrots lengthwise, then cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Cook carrots in boiling water until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Let stand 5 minutes, then drain again and pat dry.
- While carrots cool, whisk together cilantro, onion, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Quarter avocado lengthwise, then peel and pit. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and add to dressing along with carrots. Toss to combine and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Nutrition Facts: 190 caloires, 14g fat (2g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 6g sugar, 2g protein
A study conducted by The Ohio State University (published in the June 2014 edition of The Journal of Nutrition) found that combining certain foods with avocado can enhance the absorption of certain nutrients. This research investigated if fresh avocado, when eaten with either an orange-colored, high beta-carotene tomato sauce or raw carrots, would promote the absorption of provitamin A carotenoids and the conversion of these carotenoids to an active form of vitamin A. The researchers found that when avocado is eaten with raw carrots or orange-colored tomato sauce, the absorption of vitamin A was in fact increased. Vitamin A helps to support skin health, immune function and vision. Specifically, the study found that:
- Eating avocado with tomatoes or carrots significantly increased absorption of beta-carotene 2.4 times and 6.6 times respectively compared to eating tomatoes or carrots without avocado.
- Eating avocado with carrots more than quadrupled the absorption of alpha-carotene when compared to eating carrots without avocado.
- Eating avocado with tomatoes or carrots significantly increased the conversion of provitamin A, the inactive form to vitamin A , the active form more than eating tomatoes or carrots without avocado.
You can read more about this research here.
By John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC
A recent publication [June 2014] in the British Journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has reported that the presence of several specific gene mutations associated with a reduced metabolic synthesis of plasma vitamin D showed a causal relationship between low levels of vitamin D and high blood pressure [hypertension].
For every 10% increase in the blood concentration of vitamin D there was a small but real associated decrease in resting blood pressures and also 8% decrease in the odds of developing high blood pressure in the future. However as with all ‘observational’ investigations, a formal large study including use of vitamin D supplementation will need to be performed but is it possible that vitamin D supplementation may be effective in combating some cases of hypertension.
Another study recently published in February 2014 also noted increasing BMI [body mass index] as a causal factor in vitamin D deficiency. Increasing BMI is associated with obesity and at least ‘central’ obesity is associated with what is called a ‘metabolic syndrome’ commonly associated with abnormalities in cholesterol, high blood pressure, and abnormal blood sugar control. The later condition is commonly related to an ‘insulin resistance syndrome’ [pre-diabetes] and apparently low vitamin D levels contribute to the process.
We correctly avoid over exposure to the sun and freely use high SPF skin products; but this then reduces the amount of vitamin D produced in our sun exposed skin. Unfortunately, dietary sources of vitamin D [commonly ‘fortified’ in cereal, milk, orange juice, etc.] are poor and thus vitamin D deficiency is more common in the US than in the past. Vitamin D deficiency is a well-established factor in abnormal bone densities but it has also been suggested as a ‘modifiable’ risk factor for a variety of diseases including breast cancer, colon cancer, and even multiple-sclerosis.
Both hypertension and visceral obesity are important ‘risk factors’ in the development of heart disease.
Dr. John A. Rumberger comments: These two studies re-enforce my own experience in linking lowered bone densities and vitamin D deficiency with the increased incidence of coronary artery calcification and heart plaque formation.
Fish Tacos with Watermelon (Yield: 4 servings)
The fish in this recipe is grilled and a great source of lean protein. Extra virgin olive oil and avocado contribute some healthy fats to this dish. This recipe also includes a watermelon salsa which is a great way to not only get more fruit into your diet, but to get in more vitamin C, magnesium, fiber, potassium and lycopene! This recipe is perfect for a warm weather cookout or picnic.
• 4 cups diced seedless watermelon
• 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
• 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
• Juice of 2 limes, plus lime wedges for serving
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
• 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
• Kosher salt
• 1 pound of skinless wild striped bass fillets
• 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
• 1 romaine lettuce heart, thinly sliced
• 8 corn tortillas
• 1 avocado, sliced
1. Make the watermelon salsa by combining the watermelon, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and jalapeno in a bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt and set aside.
2. Preheat a grill to high. Drizzle both sides of the fish with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sprinkle with chile powder. Brush the grill with olive oil, then add the fish and grill until marked and cooked through (4-5 minutes per side). Transfer the fish to a plate and break into bite-sized pieces.
3. Toss the lettuce with 2 tablespoons of the juices from the watermelon salsa. Warm the tortillas on the grill and fill with the fish, watermelon salsa, avocado and lettuce and serve with lime wedges.
Nutritional information (per serving): 437 calories, 18 grams of fat (3 grams saturated), 25 grams of protein, 45 grams total carbohydrate, 6 grams of fiber
By: Staci O’Connor
Tips to Staying Better Hydrated
As the temperature rises with the summer months, drinking enough is important whether you are playing a sport or going for a hike with your family, traveling for work or pleasure, or just sitting outside enjoying the warm sun (it certainly feels good after the winter some of us had). Water is critical to your health and it makes up 60 percent of your body weight. When you think about it, every system in your body depends on it! The lack of water can lead to dehydration, which can lead to headaches, and even life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.
What are my total fluid (water) needs?
You can either use the “8´8 rule” which is to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water per day (about 1.9 L). You also could state the rule as “drink eight 8-oz glasses of fluids a day,” because all fluids count toward the daily total. (Though this approach is not supported by scientific evidence, many people use this basic rule as a guideline for how much water and other fluids to drink.) Or you can use what the Institute of Medicine recommends which is: men consume 3 L (about 13 C) of total beverages per day and women consume 2.2 L (about 9 C) of total beverages per day.
Be sure to modify your total fluid intake from these recommended amounts depending on how active you are, what the climate is, your health status, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Try to make a conscious effort to stay well hydrated this summer and try to make water your beverage of choice! Try linking water with each meal and snack and even try to take a water break instead of a coffee break!
How can I naturally flavor my water?
1. Add citrus fruit: lemons, lime, oranges and even grapefruit.
2. Add ginger: Steep slices of ginger in hot water and then pour over ice.
3. Add cucumber slices and lemon: Just cut up and add to water.
4. Add some mint: Break apart the leaves and add to water.
5. Add a splash or two of unsweetened 100% fruit juice.
6. Try adding any fruit that you like for a different flavor each day of the week: strawberries, pineapple, peaches, apples, etc.
7. Let a sprig of lemongrass steep in a glass of water for a few hours.
8. Mix items up, for example: add ginger and lemon one day, add cucumber and lemon slices another day, or even try strawberries and mint for something completely different.