It’s All in the Hips!

By: Andrew Goring, CSCS

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s all in the hips,” but you may find yourself asking – what does that really mean? Whether running, jumping, throwing or even golfing, hip extensions are the most powerful human movement in athletics. Most fitness programs train hip extension through a combination of hip hinge exercises like squats, deadlifts, hip bridges, and kettlebell swings, but many struggle to perform the proper hip hinge movement altogether. If you can’t hinge at the hips properly you’ll reduce the amount of power output you are able to transfer to hip extension and your faulty movement pattern will also put you at a greater risk of injury.

The hip hinge movement is often confused and performed as the squat movement. In a proper hip hinge, we move primarily through the hip joint, pushing the hips back while keeping a neutral spine and the knees slightly flexed. In contrast, a squat has a relatively even ratio of knee and hip movement. This limits the stretch reflex of the glutes and hamstrings which reduces their contribution to hip extension.

Before you practice your next hip hinge exercise – use this simple 3-Point Hip Hinge Guide to make sure your hip hinge posture and movement is correct. Simply by using a PVC pipe with the below movement, you’ll get instant feedback on correct form. Common errors like squatting or rounding your back will make the PVC pipe lose contact with one of the three points. This lets you know whether you’re doing it right or wrong.

• Grab a PVC pipe and hold it vertically behind your back with one hand behind your head and the other behind your lower back.
• Hold the PVC pipe in a straight line, touching the back of your head (point 1), your upper back (point 2) and the top of your glutes (point 3).
• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
• Tighten your abs and glutes and tuck your chin.
• Slowly push your hips back and lower your chest toward the floor, making sure the PVC pipe stays in contact with the back of your head, mid-back and glutes.
• Lower yourself until your torso is near-parallel to the floor or until you can’t keep your back straight. You should feel a stretch in the hamstrings as you lower your torso.
• Reverse directions by driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes.

 

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Vegetable Pita Pizza

In honor of Cancer Prevention Month, transform your next pizza night into a tasty cancer-fighting meal with this savory pita pizza recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
1 cup butternut squash, cubed
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 (6in) whole-wheat pita breads
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion                                                                                                         1 medium tomato, sliced
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

In medium bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with 1 tsp olive oil. Spread evenly on a baking sheet. In same bowl toss butternut squash with remaining oil and spread on the baking sheet. Place in oven and roast for about 20 minutes.

While veggies roast, slice the pitas in half and spread 2 Tbsp ricotta on each pita. Spread the tomato slices evenly among the pitas.

Remove the vegetables from oven and spoon evenly onto pitas. Divide onion and pecans evenly and sprinkle on pitas. Then, top each with Parmesan cheese.

Place pitas on a baking sheet or directly on the oven grill and heat for 5-7 minutes

Per serving (4 servings): 320 calories, 10g fat (3g saturated fat), 10mg cholesterol, 49g carbohydrate, 13g protein, 8g dietary fiber, 430mg sodium, 130%DV Vitamin A, 60% DV Vitamin C, 15% DV Calcium, 15% DV Iron

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NEARLY HALF OF STATIN CANDIDATES CAN SAFELY AVOID DRUG TREATMENT

By John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC, FSCCT
Director of Cardiac Imaging at The Princeton Longevity Center

Computed Tomographic (CT) Calcium Testing Facilitates Informed Patient Choices

 A new study was published in the October 13, 2015 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 1 This study – involving CT calcium testing in a large patient population – has potential to significantly refine conventional wisdom regarding long-term statin therapy for cholesterol, as well as favorably impact and lower medical costs and provide more flexible treatment options for high cholesterol.

Statin prescription medication [e.g. Lipitor, Pravachol, Crestor, etc.] for high cholesterol has been shown to be very beneficial in broadly lowering cardiac risk across a number of populations; but the issue is that the medications may not be appropriate for all patients with high cholesterol.

The most recent American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for cholesterol management have essentially significant expanded the numbers of potential candidates eligible for statin therapy.  This has stirred a lot of controversy in medicine with primary care doctors in particular not sure who to advise or prescribe statin therapy to or to advise on diet and lifestyle alone.  The study noted above has found that nearly half of persons with risk high enough to merit statin treatment (according to current guidelines) can be reclassified to a level where they are not recommended for such therapy after a non contrast cardiac CT coronary calcium scan [a.k.a. – a HeartScan]

These new data in a very large cohort confirms CAC also to discriminate those at a low risk of events, potentially allowing for de-identification of therapy. Experts suggest that this will reduce costs and potential downstream side effects of medical therapy in patients highly unlikely to benefit from such treatments using statins.

The study’s primary author, Khurram Nasir, MD, MPH of the Healthcare Advancement & Outcomes, Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, Baptist Health South Florida), commented “this study could significantly impact the physician-patient shared decision process regarding statin initiation for managing cardiovascular risk. Since the majority [of such individuals] are already candidates for statin therapy according to guidelines, the need to identify additional individuals for testing and preventive treatment becomes less compelling. Informed patients place high value on information that potentially reduces or eliminates unnecessary medications. The study results will facilitate patients to engage in shared decisions with their physicians and make informed choices as to optimal risk-reducing treatments individualized to their clinical risk. We believe these risk-guided approaches can limit overtreatment at the population level.”

Dr. Nasir continued by stressing that “perhaps the most profound finding of this study is the realization that in 2015, the true value of CAC testing can be unlocked by emphasizing more of the power of zero. Importantly, for providers reading this report, most of their patients will have no CAC, i.e., a score of zero. We welcome further discussion on the pros and cons of this pragmatic approach, with the goal of empowering our patients through a much better understanding of their underlying risk and subsequent treatment options.”

To summarize the studies major findings:

  1. Nearly 2/3 of adults aged 45-75 years are either recommended or considered for statins by current guidelines.
  2. Almost half of these candidates have no coronary artery calcium, and their actual risk is much lower than the threshold suggested by the guidelines to consider statin therapy.  The greatest reclassification was noted in those at intermediate level of estimated risk by traditional risk factors.
  3. The knowledge of significantly lower reclassified risk with absence of coronary artery calcium can be valuable in better informing patients of choices, who may consider avoiding statins to focus on prudent lifestyle changes.
  4. From a societal prospective, the estimated number of individuals to treat in order to prevent one cardiac event is very high. This finding should stimulate dialogue on best strategies for appropriate resource allocation in the healthcare system.

Dr. John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC, FSCCT – Director of Cardiac Imaging The Princeton Longevity Center comments:

At the Princeton Longevity Center we feel that it is necessary to define absolute cardiovascular ‘risk’ in a given person/client/individual.  That is why all patients at least get a non-contrast CT CAC [coronary artery calcium] scan to estimate their individual coronary ‘atherosclerotic plaque burden’.  We use this information to then determine if further testing [such as Cardiac CT Coronary Angiogram – also available] is necessary and to design the prevention and lifestyle plans and whether statin therapy is appropriate.  The above study further emphasizes the use of CAC scanning to assist physicians in counseling their patients on risk versus benefit.

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Dip Recipes

by Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CDN

Here are some dips that you can make on the weekend, portion out ahead of time, and have for a snack in the afternoon.  Just throw all the ingredients into a food processor, give it a whirl, portion out, and have a healthy go to snack.  Healthy dippers include:  baby carrots, radishes, celery sticks, sliced peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, jicama, or sugar snap peas.

 Happy Hour Hummus

Serves 13 (serving size: 1/4 cup)        Total time: 5 Minutes

Ingredients

5 tablespoons water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Place first 7 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Spoon hummus into individual containers. Sprinkle with paprika, parsley, and pine nuts, if desired.

 

Easy Guacamole

This easy guacamole is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Leave the seeds in the jalapeño for heat or seed the pepper for a milder guacamole.

4 Servings (1/4 cup serving size)              Total time: 20 Minutes.

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped red onion

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove

1/2 small jalapeño pepper

1 ripe peeled avocado

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

Preparation:

  1. Place first 5 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 5 times or until finely chopped. Add avocado; process until smooth. Sprinkle with cilantro.

 

Black Bean Hummus

Instead of chickpeas, you can use black beans to make this Middle Eastern dip. And for a bit of extra flavor, stir in jalapeño pepper and lime juice.

Serves 8 (serving size 3 1/2 Tbsp hummus & 3 pita wedges)      Total time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

2 tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained

1 garlic clove, peeled

1/2 small jalapeño pepper, seeded

3 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Place 1/4 cup cilantro, tahini, and next 8 ingredients (through jalapeño) in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro.
  3. Cut each pita into 8 wedges. Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 6 minutes, turning once.

 

Roasted Garlic, Poblano, and Red Pepper Guacamole

Ingredients

Guacamole:

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 medium red bell pepper

1 medium poblano pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed

Chips:

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, each cut into 8 wedges

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cooking spray

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. To prepare guacamole, wrap garlic cloves in foil; bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until soft. Let cool slightly; remove skins. Place garlic in a medium bowl; mash with a fork.
  3. Preheat broiler.
  4. Cut peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened, turning frequently. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and finely chop. Add peppers, onions, and next 4 ingredients (through avocado) to mashed garlic; stir well.
  5. Reduce heat to 425°.
  6. To prepare chips, combine tortilla wedges, 2 teaspoons juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Arrange the tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned, turning once. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with guacamole.

 

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The Benefits of Snacking

by Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CDN

Many people avoid incorporating snacks into their day because they are afraid that snacks will contribute to weight gain.  However, when snacking is done correctly, it can offer several health benefits.  Snacking allows you to add to your intake of essential nutrients and to stick to a moderate amount of food when you get to your next meal. Snacking can also help keep blood sugars level, energy steady, and increase performance at school and work.  According to the American Dietetic Association children are able to comprehend and retain information at a higher rate when their bodies are fueled consistently.  You may find that incorporating a small snack in the afternoon may help you get through a task more quickly and efficiently. So make your main meals smaller in size and stock up on healthy satisfying snacks that you can incorporate halfway between your meals.  Choose a snack that has about 100 calories with a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Try 1 ounce of raw almonds between meals (Blue Diamond 100 Calorie Snack Bags of Almonds) and consider adding in some raw vegetables
  • Try nonfat Greek yogurt (Fage 0%, Oikos 0%) with fresh or frozen berries
  • Try raw vegetables with hummus or dipped in low-fat cottage cheese
  • Try a piece of fruit or raw vegetables with natural peanut butter
  • Wasa Light Rye with a spread of guacamole, hummus, natural peanut / almond butter or salsa
  • Dried Chickpeas (nuts.com)
  • Kind bars (kindsnacks.com)
  • Low-fat string cheese or Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge
  • Dry roasted soy nuts
  • 100 calorie container of low-fat cottage cheese
  • Kale Chips
  • ½ whole wheat pita and fresh vegetables with a hummus spread
  • Air popped popcorn or 100 calorie bag of low-fat popcorn
  • Ounce of dark chocolate (at least 70 percent pure cocoa)
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Heart Rate Based Workout

This work out can be completed with your choice of cardio.  First, determine your maximum heart rate by using the equation 220 minus your age.  Once you have that number you will use the percentages below to determine the zones you should be in throughout the workout.   The intensity can be changed with speed, incline or both!

Stage                                                                     Time                                                                      Percentage

Warm Up 5-10 Minutes 50-70%
Interval One 2 Minutes 70-80%
Interval Two 30-60 Seconds 75-85%
Interval Three 2 Minutes 70-80%
Interval Four 30-60 Seconds 80-90%
Interval Five 2 Minutes 50-70%
Interval Six 30-60 Seconds 85-95%
Interval Seven 2 Minutes 70-80%
Interval Eight 30 Seconds 80-95%
Cool Down 5-10 Minutes 50%

 

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5 Products to Help you Carry Out Your New Year’s Resolutions

As you know, making improvements to your health and lifestyle can be challenging. So, we are highlighting some products that may help to make some of your health-related New Year’s Resolutions easier to carry out and maintain.

  • A Salad-to-go kit: If you have committed to bringing lunch to work or adding more vegetables to a take-out lunch meal with homemade salads, a Salad-to-go kit is a convenient, stylish way to transport your veggies! Each kit comes with a bowl, lid, dressing cup and insulated sleeve. Available at the Container Store.
  • Fruit/Vegetable delivery: Eating more fruit and vegetables is easier when they are shipped directly to your home or office every week! Check out Door to Door Organics where you can choose the perfectly sized box of fruit, vegetables or a combination of both for you and your family.
  • A Glass Water Bottle: Drinking more water is actually one of my New Year’s Resolutions! To help me do this, I purchased a dishwasher safe, BPA-free glass bottle that I can refill throughout the day. Life Factory offers 3 different sizes and a variety of colors to choose from.
  • Sleep Cycle app: Most of us wish we could wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a long day. With the help of Sleep Cycle, your wish and resolution to have more energy may be possible with very little effort! The Sleep Cycle app analyzes your sleep cycles and wakes you up in your lightest sleep phase, which the company claims “feels like waking up without an alarm clock-a natural wake up where you feel rested and relaxed”. Check out the Sleep Cycle website for more information.
  • Fitbit Flex Activity + Sleep Wristband: This thin band tracks the calories you burn, the steps you take and your sleep cycle. You can set goals for yourself, sync your stats to your computer or phone to track your progress and pair it with a variety of calorie-tracking apps to create a complete diet and exercise tracking program. Read more on the Fitbit website.

 

 

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