Tag Archives: #health

5 Food Choices to Make You a Happier, Healthier Person

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In an age where more and more people are looking to take the easy way out when it comes to health and nutrition, poor eating decisions have led to serious health problems, because bad eating can kill you just as starvation can.

People are trading “shelf life” for freshness, “cheap” for nutritious, and “quantity” for quality without ever really knowing what they are putting in their body.

Here’s a list of 5 food choices that can change your life from Women’s Health Mag:

There is a solution to this very complex and far-reaching problem: you. By making small changes to your own diet, you can not only improve your health but also become part of the collective force needed to re-create a healthy food system that feeds the world well. Start here.

1. OCCUPY YOUR KITCHEN
By deciding how much and exactly which types of salt, sugar, and fat we will use to make our fruits, veggies, meat, dairy, and grains taste delicious, we reclaim control over our health and our weight. Cook as often as you can.

2. WHEN YOU BUY GLOBAL, THINK FAIR TRADE AND LOW IMPACT
Global certification programs like Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Marine Stewardship Council ensure that foods are grown sustainably. They also reduce the impact of chemically intensive growing practices.

3. USE WORD OF MOUTH
School gardens are cropping up, which is encouraging kids to ask for veggies at home. Millennials are teaching their parents the joys of kale and the tastiness of a veggie burger. The next time you host family or friends, serve them a grass-fed burger on a whole-grain bun along with a plateful of local vegetables. Let them see firsthand that eating in a way that changes the food system for the better can be delicious—and fun.

4. GROW SOMETHING EDIBLE
City dwellers can plant herbs in pots on a windowsill. Suburbanites can cultivate garlic and asparagus, a perennial vegetable that keeps producing for decades. Encourage your kids, neighbors, and friends to do the same. Odds are, you’ll feel more connected to your food and to your community (many food banks accept fresh produce donations from individuals and farmers’ markets).

5. REMOVE HIDDEN CORN FROM YOUR DIET
It goes well beyond high-fructose corn syrup—processed corn ingredients include dextrose, corn syrup solids, and corn-based sweeteners, as well as meat, milk, and dairy from corn-fed cattle. Nixing those products from your kitchen may encourage manufacturers to find healthier alternatives, and it’s also a great way to remove junk foods from your cabinets and make room in your wallet and home for natural, whole foods.

15 Minute Total Body Workout

So, as promised in my last article, here is a 15 minute body weight, do anywhere workout! If you want to start off slower, shoot for ten minutes. Do 10 reps of each exercise and see how many sets you can get in during the allotted time. As you get better at it, push for a longer time, or more reps of each exercise!!

1. Body Weight Squat

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How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, and slowly stand back up.

2. Judo Push-up

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How to do it: Begin in a pushup position but move your feet hip-width apart and forward, and raise your hips so your body almost forms an upside-down V. Lower the front of your body until your chin nears the floor. Then lower your hips as you raise your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Now reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

3. Sprinter Sit-up

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How to do it: Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides, keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees. As you sit up, twist your upper body to the left and bring your left knee toward your right elbow while you swing your left arm back. Lower your body to the starting position, and repeat to your right. That’s 1 rep.

Good luck and remember this is just a general outline of how you can fit a full body workout into your hectic schedule. Feel free to switch up exercises, increase reps and time, or add extra exercises in!! Do what feels good for you, the important thing is that you get up, get out and DO IT!!!!

Much love,
Shannon

How to Break the Cycle of Excuses, Over-Eating, and Falling out of Your Fitness Routine

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I totally understand, I’ve been there myself. Since I’ve started training others full time, teaching classes, and running out of time by the end of the day, I have found it incredibly difficult to stick to my healthy lifestyle. It’s so easy to say “push through”, “stick with it”, “focus on your goals”. At the end of the day, however, sometimes those motivational messages just aren’t enough. Here is how I have managed to stick with my routines (despite falling off more than once, it happens) and if this article helps even just one person then I’ve accomplished my task!

1. “I just don’t have any time”
I am a HUGE believer that you should exercise when you will get the most out of your workout. This, unfortunately, isn’t always possible with the hectic lives we all lead! No need to fear! Instead of saying “well I missed my normal workout time, that’s it, it’s all ruined for the day.” Encourage yourself to get in 15 minutes of something low intensity right before you shower (post on super quick full body exercises to follow shortly). Even though it may not be the same as killing it in the gym, it will still boost those positive, feel good chemicals in your brain, and soon enough it will become a habit!

2. “I have no time for a healthy meal”
I am a huge advocate of prepping food out once (or twice) a week. If that still is too much for you to fit into your schedule it takes approximately three minutes (and I have TIMED this) to create a healthy fulfilling salad, with a yummy healthy dressing that will both be filling, nutritious, and will make you feel good about the decision that you made!! (Recipes for healthy quick meals to follow shortly!!)

3. “I have no motivation, I feel like I just can’t do it anymore”
This is probably one of the biggest reasons people fall out of their routine, lack of motivation. I cannot emphasise enough, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP!!! I’m a personal trainer, it is my job to make others fitter, healthier, and feel better about themselves, but, I’m getting ready to go back and see my mentor (check out @trainingaspects – they are the absolute best!!) for one month to up my cardio, strength and get myself to that next level. Find encouragement where you can! Whether it be from family, friends, a trainer, a blog, or wherever you can! Dig deep! You have it in you and you can accomplish whatever it is you want to. Always keep your eye on the prize and don’t be too proud to accept help from others!! Even Ghandi had a spiritual mentor, if he needed it, I’m sure the rest of us can admit to the fact that sometimes we just need that little bit of extra help!

I hope some of these tips helped, if you have questions, comments, feedback, I would absolutely love to hear it!! Please remember, you are doing this for YOU! For YOUR health, YOUR mental wellbeing, and sometimes we need to take a step back and focus on ourselves a bit more and remember, we can’t help others until we are the best person that we can be!!!

Much love,
Shannon

Exercise of the Day! Stability Ball Knee Tucks!!

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Start in a push-up position with your feet up on the ball.

Make sure that you engage your core and raise your hips so your back is flat before you begin.

Keep your back flat and try not to raise you hips as you draw your knees into your chest.

Extend both legs back out to the starting position and repeat.

Recipe of the Week!! Banana Tea Bread!

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I made this recipe the other week and it turned out so good I just couldn’t not share it with you all! All credit goes to the simple veganista.  This banana bread has a great texture, is not too sweet, and is super healthy!! I added some flaxseed to mine and it didn’t seem to affect the recipe whatsoever, I also chose to use whole wheat flour and opted for the coconut oil instead of grapeseed which gave it a subtle yet delicious flavor.  I definitely recommend trying this out when you have an extra hour to spare.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups spelt flour, or flour of choice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup grapeseed or warmed coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup organic pure cane sugar or finely chopped dates
4 small or 3 large bananas (preferably overripe), mashed

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium/large size bowl and set aside. In a small bowl mix oil, sugar and vanilla. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients and mix briefly, set aside. Mash bananas, you should have approx. 1 3/4 cups, add to batter and mix until combined. Pour or spoon into a well greased loaf pan…I used coconut oil to grease mine. I don’t use vegan butters, margarine’s or sprays as I don’t care for them. Bake for about 50 min to an hour. With my oven it only goes for 50 min. You can also do the toothpick test in the center of the loaf, if it comes out clean it’s about ready. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 min.

When is the Best Time to Train?

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So, when is the best time to train?  It’s a loaded question that if you asked a number of professionals you would probably receive a plethora of different answers.  There are a lot of different variables to take into consideration, one being that sometimes psychology wins out of physiology when it comes to dragging your butt to the gym. Bottom line is, don’t let the time it says on the clock hold you back from getting your sweat on.  Here are the top five times of day to train.

1. When it Fits Best into Your Schedule

Thank you captain obvious, surely this is the first one that comes into everyones mind.  The majority of us lead hectic, busy lives, which leaves us little time for much else.  The great thing about our bodies is, they adjust.  Sure, you may only be able to fit in a half an hour at the gym right after work, and it will be hard the first few weeks, but after that you will fall into a routine and staying with that consistent time will help you stick to your workout regimen.  

2. When You Feel the Most Energy

Thanks to our circadian rhythms which control our body temperature, blood pressure, alertness and metabolism, among other things, some of us are morning people and some of us dread the thought of opening our eyes before 11am.  I don’t think this is something that should be ignored.  The good news is that research done by the University of North Texas, Denton found that even though circadian rhythms are inborn, we do have the ability to reset them.  If the only time you can work out is early mornings, keep setting that alarm, once your system resets itself you’ll have no problem rising to the sound of chirping birds. 

3. When Your Nutrition Meets Your Goals

If you’re looking to be stronger, faster and improve performance, your body needs to be properly fueled.  Muscles have big reserves of a complex carb called glycogen.  Muscles convert glycogen into energy that your body utilizes throughout the day.  Glycogen stores are usually at their lowest in the morning, which is not ideal for performance. 

4. First Thing in the Morning on an Empty Stomach

If you’re trying to drop pounds and lose fat, working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is probably the best time for you.  If your glycogen stores are depleted, your body is forced to utilize its fat stores for energy.  If you find you lack energy before your morning workout, have something light like a protein shake. 

5. At Night Before Bed

Can exercise improve sleep quality? Yes, and no.  Exercise increases core body temperature, heart rate and prompts your system to release epinephrine (adrenaline) none of which are ideal for sleep.  On the other hand, exercise reduces stress hormones such as cortisol, which can leave your body in a more relaxed state for sleep.  Try to wait and hour or two after a late workout to allow your body time to return to a rested state.  

Don’t forget some other key points, such as the fact that morning exercisers are more likely to be consistent with workouts according to research.  As far as afternoon workouts are concerned it has been shown that injuries are less likely to happen during mid-day because we are most alert and our body temperature is at its highest, so our muscles are warm and flexible.  Also, according to research, body temperature is at its highest between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and at its lowest just before waking.  You will find that your strength is the greatest in the afternoon.  Studies show strength output and anaerobic performance, such as sprinting is 5% higher in the late afternoon, as well as endurance being approximately 4% higher around the same time of day.  

I hope this helps some people to decide and stick to a plan of when they are going to get their workouts in.  Remember, getting a small session in is better than nothing at all, and making a habit of breaking a sweat everyday could be the best thing you do for your longevity.  

 

 

Exercise of the Day! Reverse Lunge Knee Up!

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This is a great exercise to help work on your speed and strength.  Begin by standing on one foot, then step the opposite foot backwards into a reverse lunge. Powerfully push through the front foot and bring the opposite knee towards the chest. Quickly step back into a reverse lunge and repeat! Complete 10-12 reps on each side and try for 2-3 sets. 

Recipe of the Week! Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies with Sea Salt

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These bars are healthy, vegan, and totally yummy.  Try experimenting by mixing in other fruits or nuts for a completely different type of flavor!

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, almond butter, or your favorite nut butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips
Sea salt, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8 × 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips. Process until batter is smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and spread batter evenly in prepared pan with a buttered spatula. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chocolate chips over top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and edges are very light brown.

Let cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with sea salt and cut into 16 squares.

Enjoy!

Recipe Thanks to The Comfort of Cooking

Recipe of the Week!! Roasted Yam and Kale Salad!

Roasted Yam and Kale Salad

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Here is a quick and easy dinner salad that is quick to prepare and full of healthy vitamins and minerals. Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

2 Jewel Yams, Cut into 1-inch cubes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Onion, sliced

3 Cloves garlic, minced

1 Bunch kale, washed well and torn into bite size pieces

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 Teaspoon chopped fresh time

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Toss the yams with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and arrange evenly onto a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until the yams are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion and garlic until the onion has caramelized to a golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the kale, cooking until wilted and tender. Transfer the kale mixture to a bowl, and cool to room temperature in the refrigerator.

Once all the ingredients have cooled, combine the yams, kale, red wine vinegar, and fresh thyme in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and gently stir to combine.

 

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

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Dark chocolate has recently been discovered to have a number of healthy benefits. While eating dark chocolate can lead to the health benefits described below, remember that everything must be done in moderation, including eating this good for you, yummy treat!

1) Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart

Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

2) Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Brain

Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke.

Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.

Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.

3) Dark Chocolate Helps Control Blood Sugar

Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

4) Dark Chocolate is Full of Antioxidants

Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.

5) Dark Chocolate Contains Theobromine

Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel. That means that dark chocolate, unlike most other sweets, lowers your risk of getting cavities if you practice proper dental hygiene.

Theobromine is also a mild stimulant, though not as strong as caffeine. It can, however, help to suppress coughs.

6) Dark Chocolate is High in Vitamins and Minerals

Dark chocolate contains a number of vitamins and minerals that can support your health. Dark chocolate contains some of the following vitamins and minerals in high concentrations:

Potassium
Copper
Magnesium
Iron
The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.