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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Take-A-Break Snack Mix Recipe

Here's a yummy snack recipe from the American Heart Association.  For more yummy heart-healthy recipes, go to the AHA website by clicking here.

 

Ingredients

Cooking spray
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups whole-grain oat cereal with yogurt-flavored coating
2 cups whole-grain wheat and bran flakes with raisins
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1/2 cup dried unsweetened blueberries

 

Cooking Instructions

Put a piece of aluminum foil about 12 inches square on a platter or baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
 
In a small nonstick skillet, dry-roast the almonds over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly golden brown, stirring occasionally.
 
Stir in the brown sugar, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the almonds are coated with the mixture, stirring constantly. Transfer to the foil. Let cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients.
 
Add the cooled almonds to the cereal mixture, stirring to combine. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Cook's Tip

For variety, substitute different nutrient-dense dried fruits, such as cherries, apricots, and plums, for the cranberries and blueberries. Cut them into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces before adding them to the cereal mixture.

Nutritional Analysis

Per 1/2 cup serving: 
 
Calories Per Serving - 139
Total Fat - 2.0g
Saturated Fat - 0.5g
Trans Fat - 0.0g
Polyunsaturated Fat - 0.5g
Monounsaturated Fat - 1.0g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 124mg
Carbohydrates - 28g
Fiber - 4g
Sugar - 15g
Protein - 2g

Dietary Exchanges

1 fruit, 1 starch

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Which Is Better for Losing Weight: Cardio or Weight Lifting?

If you're looking to lose weight, you might be wondering:  Should I focus on doing cardio or should I weight train?  The answer, for those of you not interested in hanging around for the "why" part of the answer, is both.  What matters most is the way you train, the system you train under, and your lifestyle.

The cardio vs. weight lifting question stems from the days when "cardio" usually meant going to a low-level aerobic class and "weight lifting" meant spending a couple of hours in the “free weight room,” chatting with your buddies between attempts at "out-benching" each other.
These days, most workout programs incorporate both, often during the same workout. Most "cardio" work has an element of resistance training, either in the form of added weight or plyometric movements, while most "weight lifting" work has a cardio element because it's done in circuits.


There are two myths inherent in this age-old question. The first is that weight training will make you bulky. The second is that cardio doesn't build muscle. Let's dispel these once and for all.



Myth 1: Weight Training Will Make You Bulky
Gaining bulk is hard. I wish I had a nickel for every time I've seen a hardcore gym rat who's been lifting for months, desperate for a few pounds of lean muscle mass, blow his stack when he hears a woman say, "Weight training will make me bulky".  It takes a ton of energy for your body to add muscle. During the initial stages of any kind of intense training, especially one you're not used to, your body releases excess amounts of the hormone cortisol, which causes your body to retain water.  Some people think this means they are bulking up when, in reality, it's just the body adapting to the training.  It happens whether you are trying to gain or lose weight and has nothing to do with gaining actual muscle mass.  Once your body adapts to the new training, the cortisol release ceases and your body flushes the excess water.


Myth 2: Cardio Doesn't Build Muscle
This second myth is trickier. Low-level, steady-state aerobic training will atrophy muscle, so it can be true. But "cardio" hasn't meant aerobic zone training since Richard Simmons' heyday in the 80s.  Cardio is a catchall term for any training that elevates your heart rate for the entire workout. These days, since almost all weight training is done circuit style, your heart rate remains elevated during both cardio and weight training workouts. Modern cardio training is almost always an offshoot of interval training, which means it's a mix of aerobic and anaerobic training. And this builds muscle.

What Is the Best Way to Lose Weight?
The best way to lose weight is to follow a solid training system that targets weight loss. A system takes into account your entire lifestyle, workout, diet, sleep, and supplements. Why? Because all of these things affect your body's ability to change.


The key to weight loss is to change your metabolism. While it's easier to alter your metabolism through weight training than cardio, both will do it if the workouts are well designed. The word you're looking for to make this happen is intensity. By that, I mean you need to force your body to work in the anaerobic realm. Because your body depends on air to live, forcing it beyond its ability to breathe causes it to release performance-enhancing hormones to survive. When done consistently, these hormones change your metabolism.


Of course, you'll die if you stay in the anaerobic zone for too long, which is why you only do anaerobic work in short intervals. In between these intervals, your heart is working out aerobically to recovery. As long as the breaks between your anaerobic sets are strategic, you get a powerful cardio workout during every anaerobic workout. For example: circuit weight training—consisting of many sets to failure, with short breaks—is not only a great anaerobic weight training workout, but also a very effective workout for your cardiovascular system as well.
 

The next factor when it comes to boosting your metabolism and losing weight is recovering properly between workouts. This is why having a system is so important. Intense anaerobic training is stressful for your body. You need this stress to change your hormone balance, but if you over stress yourself, it will lead to problems in the form of overreaching and, if you do it too long, overtraining (both responsible for maladies from lack of results to injury or illness). A proper exercise program takes this into account by scheduling different styles of workouts next to each other to create a balance between intensity and recovery.

Your nutrition and lifestyle are very important for proper recovery. The better you eat, the faster you recover. Ditto for sleep. (I don't care how many episodes of Game of Thrones you need to catch up on.) Sleep is when your body produces its natural PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). So get your shuteye!


All of this is why PROMATx never sells individual workouts that aren't attached to a program—or system—for your training. It's not that doing random exercise isn't good for you...because it can be. However, we design workout systems that synergistically combine aerobic and anaerobic training (along with sundry other types of training, not to mention proper nutrition) to give you results. That way, it's much easier for your body to change its metabolism, and for you to lose weight.


To recap, whether your exercise routine is focused on cardio or weight training has very little to do with whether you'll lose weight. The best training programs have elements of both aerobic and anaerobic training and the important factors for weight loss are: pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone (aka intensity), eating enough to recover (but not too much), and resting enough between your workouts. Balance these factors correctly and your metabolism will shift and the pounds will melt away.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tips For Getting Through Your Toughest Workout

I'm battling a set of depth jumps on minute 36 and I'm getting my butt handed to me. I'm breathing heavily, sweat is dripping onto the rug, and my wet-noodle legs might not allow me to clear the next invisible gap Tony Horton insists I leap over.  I want to quit and do something—anything—else instead of finish what is left of the workout.  But I don't.  For some reason, it's important that I prove to you, a stranger, that I'm no quitter!

Trouble is, that's not entirely true.  Although I stuck this one out, I bail on my workouts more often that I'd like to admit.  I'm too tired.  I'm too pressed for time. I'm already too ripped.  Okay, that last one's an overstatement, but you get the idea: I manufacture reasons as to why stopping makes more sense than continuing.


I'm not sure why I do that, or more importantly, how to reverse the process. Thankfully, sports psychologist Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, author of Sports Psychology Coaching for Your Performing Edge: Mental Training for Performance in Sports, Business, and Life, does. Dr. Dahlkoetter has worked with handfuls of top-level athletes—including five Olympic gold medal winners—as well as countless people who simply want to live healthily and look halfway decent naked. She also won the San Francisco Marathon in 1980.  She knows a thing or two about how to make it through your toughest workouts.

1. Mentally Prepare
"People can fail from not being in touch with their bodies," she says. Some PROMATx workouts will wipe you out.  But understanding, embracing, and anticipating that you've signed up to tackle a ball-busting workout can help you size up the challenge and muster the fortitude required to overcome it.


2. Find a Workout Buddy
If during a grueling workout you find yourself taking a break from taking a break after you just got finished taking a break, consider recruiting someone to train with you. Researchers at Kansas State University found that people who train with a more skilled workout partner, who doesn't cheerlead you through the workouts, worked out for longer periods of time.  That's because this competitive attitude supposedly makes you not want to feel like the "weak link" and encourages you to work harder.


3. Get into a Routine
Make your workout session as much of a priority as you would other important daily activities, like brushing your teeth, getting to work on time, or DVRing America's Got Talent. "Build a routine so you're doing [your workout] at the same time each day", Dr. Dahlkoetter suggests. "If you don't have a routine, the workout becomes a low priority that might get overlooked."


4. Make Your Goals Specific
Instead of saying you want to "lose weight" or "look better," come up with specific goals you want to accomplish, like "losing six pounds," or "finally fitting into my wrestling singlet from college."  Those details will offer you something tangible to strive for.  The S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted) goal technique has proven to be popular and effective for constructing a plan of attack, whether you're tackling work projects or getting through a workout.  Click HERE to read about how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals.


5. Use the 3 Ps
It sounds pretty hippie, but Dr. Dahlkoetter has "Three Ps"—Positive Images, Power Words, and Present Focus—that can actually help.  Studies show that athletes who visualize themselves winning are more likely to succeed.  Visualize the whole process, from going to bed at the right time to finishing your workout, and you'll be more likely to get through it, improving your overall concentration in the process.  Then, create some "Power Words" to help you push through those super-tough moments. I'm usually spewing four-letter words after about 25 minutes of most of my workouts.  Instead, try this exercise: On a piece of paper, write all of your excuses, self-doubts, and negative thoughts about the workout on the left side. Then, on the right side, write what the opposite of that would be. For example: If you write you're "too tired" on the left side, write your "mind and body are stronger and healthier each day" on the right. When you're lagging, tell yourself those things you've written on the right side of the paper. And, finally, focus on the present. 


From worrying about work to your kids to whether the Kentucky Wildcats are going to make it to the Final Four (go Big Blue!), we all have plenty of daily stresses to contend with. But your workout shouldn't be one of them; in fact, it might be the only hour of the day you get to focus entirely on yourself. To do that and offer your best effort, you need to be present from beginning to end. That said, during your wall sits or another difficult move that doesn't pose a high risk of injury, feel free to let your mind wander to your "happy place."

Monday, January 20, 2014

When Should I Listen to My Cravings???


Cravings can be intense—and often they go way beyond minor hankering. Surely, it can't just be that you want chocolate. There must be some reason that you need chocolate. Come on, please! Just a taste. 
Unfortunately, you probably don't. In most cases, cravings aren't a physiological function telling you what you need. In fact, it's much more like that that they're a dysfunction.  
You might be aware of an infographic floating around the internet featuring foods that people typically crave, along with micronutrients that (supposedly) trigger those cravings. If you desire bread, toast, or pasta, the graphic suggests you need more nitrogen in your diet. Salty foods mean you need chloride, chocolate suggests a need for magnesium, etc. You may notice a complete lack of references at the bottom of this chart. That's probably because there's no science backing up these claims—whatsoever. While the craving might stem from something more obvious—sugar, for example—it's highly unlikely that your "need" for chocolate means you need more magnesium in your diet.  
Why Do I Crave Chocolate and Other Foods That Aren't Good For Me?
Cravings are far more complex than this cause-and-effect chart suggests. While a subtle nutrient need may be partly to blame, cravings arise for several reasons and tend to include a tangled web of psychology, hormones, and other physiological issues.  
Let's go back to the chocolate/magnesium connection. By the time chocolate gets to the milked-down form most Americans consume, there's not much magnesium left. One ounce of milk chocolate contains just 4% of the recommended daily value for magnesium. Dark chocolate has 16%.  Why would the body seek out a food for a specific nutrient when that food has very little of that nutrient? Wouldn't it make more sense that your body would crave foods richer in magnesium, such as nuts, leafy greens, or beans? Your chocolate cravings probably exist for more insidious reasons. Some research shows similarities between chocolate cravings and alcohol addiction, in that both alcohol and cacao contain similar neuroactive alkaloids (chemicals that tweak your melon). In other words, research suggests that chocolate is addictive.  
Another reason you could be craving that brownie is because of your emotional history with it. It's one of the great American comfort foods. We're brought up identifying chocolate with birthdays, Halloween, post-soccer game ice cream outings, and all those magic moments when you were a good little boy or girl who deserved a reward. If you can't see how that would etch a positive association neural pathway deep into your gray matter, we need to get Dr. Freud on the horn, stat.  
Furthermore, unless you like chewing on cacao nibs (and some people do!), the chocolate you consume is filled with sugar—and sugar cranks up the "feel good" hormone serotonin (among other chemicals) levels in your brain, giving you a feeling of mild euphoria. When it's gone, you want more. Combine this sugar hit with the emotional issues and you've got one powerful craving.  
We're not ruling out the possibility of a causal relationship between cravings and micronutrients—but the key word here is possibility. For instance, when first beginning an exercise program, you might find yourself with an irresistible craving for potato chips or salty carbs. By adding a little sea salt to a recovery drink that those cravings my pass. Similarly, pregnant women often crave foods that are high in nutrients they need. For example, she might crave cheeseburgers—an obvious source of calcium and iron.  
If you're convinced that your particular craving stems from a micronutrient deficiency, there's an easy way to test this: supplement the vitamin or mineral you have in mind. Getting back to chocolate, if you buy into the magnesium thing, try supplementing Beverly International UMP. Another angle would be to embrace the psychology aspect of cravings so that you can indulge yourself, but in a healthy way.
Maybe sometimes. With all this talk of micronutrients, we've overlooked another possible root cause for your craving—a macronutrient deficiency. You could be craving certain foods—or certain food types—because your balance of carbs, protein, and fat is off. While it's a stretch to assume your body desires a food because it contains trace amounts of a certain mineral, the causal link between foods and macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) is obvious. Eat a piece of carb-heavy cake and you're going to spike your blood sugar.  
If you think this may be the case, feed the craving with healthy food. If you're craving sweet things, increase your fruit and veggie intake. If you crave greasy foods, increase your raw nut or avocado (good fats) intake. If you find yourself craving meat and cheese, increase your lean protein intake with chicken, fish, eggs, and legumes. If you do this and it doesn't work, odds are that your cravings are more psychologically based.  
If you're deliberately eating at a calorie deficit, this method can be a problem. Ultimately, you're not getting enough of any macronutrient. In these situations, it might be useful to adjust the balance of carbs/protein/fat in your diet.
Cravings suck. And when you're trying to lose weight, they suck even more, as calorie deficits tend to increase cravings. In our most frustrated, "give-me-the-donut-before-I-kill-someone" moments, we'd all like a simple solution. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist. Finding your way around cravings requires a little patience and experimentation. It's just a matter of finding a healthy substitute, a little willpower—or some combination thereof.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are You Sabotaging Your Weight Loss?


If you just started an exercise plan or are getting your butt in gear by working out more consistently, you may need to change how you fuel your body to get the most out of it. Common nutrition mistakes such as drinking your calories or eating too much post workout may be the reason why you can't lose weight (or inches) even though you're giving it your all. Although getting fit isn't just about the scale, it's still an important factor, so we'll break down 5 common problems—and how to fix them—to get you back on the path to results. 
 
Problem 1: You have no idea how many calories you're really eating

It's common to think more exercise = more calories. But if you're trying to lose weight, you may be adding on as many calories as you're burning—or more. "Think about the food that you're eating to fuel your workouts and ask yourself how it fits into your total calorie allotment for the day," advises Felicia Stoler, MS, RD, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist. Just because you hit the cardio hard today doesn't automatically mean you can supersize dinner. "Most people have no idea how much they're really eating." To get honest with yourself about your calorie needs, write down everything you eat for a day (yes, even that handful of nuts you're holding right now) or use a site like MyFitnessPal®. You'll probably be surprised by your final number.

Problem 2: You're hydrating with a sports drink

If you're doing a hard, prolonged workout, then hydrating with a sports drink can be a good thing, but for your standard, at-home program, you're usually better off with water. Sports drinks contain about 50 calories per 8 oz., and 14 grams of sugar (about 3.5 teaspoons). Your body will probably burn though that in an hour-long workout, but then you won't be mobilizing fat stores as much. As for the electrolytes, yes, an hour-long program depletes them, but it's nothing a good recovery drink can't fix.
Problem 3: You're addicted to that pre-workout snack

As long as they're getting enough balanced calories in their diet, the average person should have all the glycogen stores they need to get through an hour-long workout, even first thing in the morning. Eating something beforehand might give your performance a little boost, but if you skip it you're better off—teaching your body how to mobilize fat stores for energy (just like in Problem 2). The exception to this is if you "bonk" or run out of glycogen and blood sugar partway through your workout. When this happens, you don't just feel a little pooped; you feel as though you've just run into a brick wall. If this happens, 50–100 calories of simple carbs, 10 minutes before you start, should fix it. Half a banana would be ideal. If you're looking for a boost with minimal calories, Beverly International Up Lift and Fast Up  or a strong cup of coffee are three great ergogenic aids.
Problem 4: You're eliminating all carbs

So many exercisers try to eliminate starchy carbs—including whole grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn—when they're trying to lose weight. But it's water weight you're losing, not fat. Not only that, the strategy can backfire. Depleting carbs from your diet means that you have to tap into your lean protein stores for energy, which ultimately can decrease your lean muscle mass. Muscle is critical for upping your metabolism—and burning more calories even while you sit around—so you may see your weight plateau. The lesson? Don't be afraid to incorporate some whole grains and starchy veggies into your daily diet.
Problem 5: You're not working out hard enough

If you notice you come home from a run only to find that you're noticeably hungrier, consider upping the intensity of that run. A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity looked at sedentary, overweight men who either worked out at a moderate pace for 30 minutes or completed a high-intensity interval workout for the same amount of time.1 Those who did the intense interval exercise ate less at a subsequent meal, as well as the next day. Not every workout should be an intense interval session, but fitting in one or two a week can help turn the dial down on your appetite.
Eliminate these problems and see if your weight loss gets back on track.  If you still need help, consider making an appointment with one of our nutrition specialists here at PROMATx Health Club.  Get your life back on track!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Grilled Tilapia with Tomatoes and Kale Recipe


(Makes 1 serving) 

Make flaky, delicious tilapia in minutes with this easy recipe and save the seasoning blend to use in other recipes for chicken, fish, and vegetables.

Total Time: 17 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 7 min.

 





Ingredients:
1    1 (4-oz.) raw tilapia fillet
2    ½ tsp. Italian Seasoning Blend (recipe below)
3    Nonstick cooking spray
4    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
5    2½ cups chopped fresh kale
6    1½ cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped)
7    1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil


Preparation:
1.    Season both sides of tilapia with Italian Seasoning; set aside.
2.    Heat large nonstick skillet, lightly coated with spray, over medium heat.
3.    Add garlic and kale; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes.
4.    Place tilapia fillet on top of kale mixture; cook, covered, for 1 minute.
5.    Gently turn tilapia over. Top with tomatoes; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tilapia is cooked through and flakes easily when tested with a fork.
6.    Place kale, tilapia, and tomatoes on a serving plate; drizzle with oil
 

Tip: The Italian Seasoning Blend can be stored in an airtight container for use in the future.
 

Italian Seasoning Blend
1    4 Tbsp. dried parsley, crushed
2    4 tsp. dried onion flakes
3    2 tsp. dried basil, crushed
4    1 tsp. ground oregano
5    1 tsp. ground thyme
6    1 tsp. garlic powder
7    1 tsp. sea salt
8    ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
9.    Place all ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well.
 


Nutritional Information: (per serving)
Calories - 279

Fat - 8g
Saturated Fat - 2g
Cholesterol - 57mg
Sodium - 195mg
Carbs - 27g
Fiber - 6g
Sugar - 6g
Protein - 31 g

Monday, January 13, 2014

Beat the Second-Week Slump

Last week, you were feeling gung ho and ready to tackle your weight-loss goals head-on. This week? Not so much. You're tired, you're hungry, and you're aching in places you didn't even know existed. But before you lose all motivation, take heart—the second week is supposed to suck. In week two, your body is generally in a state of severe breakdown. After all, you're eating less, going hard, and your body needs some time to adapt to your new lifestyle. Here are a few slump-proof strategies for pushing through Week 2.

Don't Panic if You Plateau

You've busted your butt all week and been downright virtuous about your diet. So when you hop on the scale, you're ready to see the results of your hard work. But here's the rub: During Week 2, it's not unusual to get stuck or even gain a pound or two. "As your body adjusts to exercise, cortisol—a performance-enhancing stress hormone—is released," says Edwards. "Part of cortisol's function is to promote water retention as a defense mechanism for survival. This causes you to feel puffy and gain some weight."

So, let's recap. You're achy, you're starving, and the number on the scale is now moving in the wrong direction. It's no wonder you feel discouraged and are tempted to bail altogether. But hang in there, because your body will eventually get the memo. It's a necessary part of the process. Sometime between Weeks 3 and 6, once you adapt to your exercise program, you stop producing cortisol and flush the excess water, which leads to you feeling and looking fitter, and losing some weight.

Track Progress, Not Just Weight Loss

While there's plenty of science behind your plateau, that doesn't make it any less frustrating. So when the number on the scale isn't budging, how can you tell if you're still on the right track? Start recording your healthy habits—whether that means keeping a workout log or posting Instagram shots of your meals—so you can see all the changes you've made. "Track the behavior, not the outcome," says Joshua Klapow, PhD, Chief Behavioral Scientist for the health incentive company ChipRewards and author of Living SMART: 5 Essential Skills to Change your Health Habits Forever.  According to Klapow, “track the food you eat, the steps you take, and the calories you burn, and make those your markers of success." Seeing these changes can give you just enough motivation to power through this week's plateau, and Klapow says that's all that matters: "Think of motivation like a tank of gas. The tank doesn't need to be full to move, but you can't run on empty."

Focus on the Process

Sure, your biggest motivation might be squeezing into smaller jeans. But this week, it can help to focus on all the touchy-feely stuff instead. "Reframe the way you think about working out so it becomes your escape, your path to wellness, something you do for you," says Kim Chronister, PsyD, a health psychologist and author of The Psychology Behind Fitness Motivation. "Our thoughts can powerfully affect our ability to tackle a new weight-loss routine." If you're too focused on the scale, a second-week plateau may feel like a huge failure; if you focus on the "me time" you get while working out, you'll achieve that no matter what.

If that doesn't help, just acknowledge that this week won't be your favorite, and keep on trucking. "Belief in the process helps at this stage," says Edwards. "You cannot make a total body composition change without suffering through a period where all of your goals seem like they are going backwards." He compares it to scaling a mountain or running an Ironman—miserable while you're in the thick of it, but insanely rewarding once you're done. So hang in there, because it'll be next week soon enough.