Let's Get Moving ~ Stability Ball

Just had to write about one of my most favorite pieces of equipment: the stability ball (aka the physio ball).

There are a VARIETY of exercises that can be done using the stability ball to work out your ENTIRE body. And the investment cost can run you as low as $10 for the ball!
(And $3 per hand weight if you don't have any.)

For the beginners
Sit on the ball & "walk your feet" infront to where your knees are 90 degrees, your back is straight, and your toosh is half on the ball. Once form is correct try these exercises: bicep curls, tricep overhead extension, overhead press, chest fly, and chest press.
Lay on the ground, knees bent, with feet on the ball. Try to strech out your legs while moving the ball forward (legs still on top) and then move the ball by bending your knees in towards your body. (Targets lower abdominals & works legs). Leave legs on the ball & try to to complete a crunch with your legs at 90 degrees. This targets your upper abdominals; throw in a twist to target your obliques.

For the more advanced:
Balance on one leg, the other leg have bent with your shin resting on the ball. Try bicep curls, tricep overhead extensions, chest fly, chest press, and overhead shoulder press.
To target the abdominals: assume plank position, but rather than having your toes on the ground, stabilize & put them on the ball. Try to hold for 15 to 30 seconds then break & bring knees to ground. To build on this, try bending your knees while in plank & bringing the ball in towards your body, then stretching your knees back out to roll it away.
To target legs even more, try a lunge with your back leg on the ball as opposed to your foot being on the ground for stability.

Something that I have yet to master, but continually trying to achieve is balancing on the ball with my knees bent & no part of my body touching a wall or the ground. Goals are good!

Holy Heat

Summertime, so fun yet SO HOT! I was encouraged yesterday though ~ on our drive home we passed at least 10 runners, walkers, and bikers in the course of 3 miles! I figured I would give some precautionary tips for outdoor exercising in warmer climates in this post.

First, STAY HYDRATED! Hydration is so very important year round. Be smart about what you're hydrating your body with. Try to drink primarily water throughout the day. Gauge how hydrated you are by the color of your urine. If it's the color of apple juice, drink more water! You want it to be the color of pale lemonade, if not clear. (For those prone to being grossed out, sorry for the correlation to popular drinks!)

Second, know when to use sports drinks. Sports drinks like Gatorade were meant to be a sports enhancing drink & a recovery drink. They are not meant to be used in a leisurely fashion. If you are sweating, that means you are losing electrolytes. Electrolytes are the key ingredient in sports drinks (notice the amount of sodium levels on the nutrition facts label). Sports drinks help to "re-stock" your body on electrolytes when engaging in heavy activity. Drinking them leisurely causes sodium levels in your body to spike, due to the increased intake of sodium, which ultimately leads to water retention. You'll definitely go well beyond the recommended intake of 2500mg of sodium a day if you are drinking these leisurely. (And that 2500mg is not suggested for people with high blood pressure, the number is 1000mg lower.) Personally, I suggest that anyone exercising outside during the summer in warmer climates (like Florida & Texas), consume an electrolyte supplement or sports drink after or even during activity.

Third, pay attention to the heat index!! This is so important. Heat exhaustion & heat stroke can creep up on you when you least expect it. Living in Florida, I've learned the hard way how imperative it is to pay attention to the heat index. I worked as a trainer with young kids who played football in July & August. All that gear on top of not staying hydrated, wreaked havoc on those young bodies. The first step of prevention is knowing your climate, knowing the elements, and knowing when to stay inside. Some important elements to consider are humidity & pollution when exercising outdoors. Both impact the respiratory system in such a way that you are working harder, & often not in a good way. Living in Florida (or rather the south), humidity is an everyday occurance 10 months out of the year. (If we're lucky!) In humid weather you sweat & can really gauge the amount of water loss. In dryer climates like Nevada, where humidity isn't an issue, it's harder to gauge the sweat loss since the dry heat wicks it away almost as soon as your body releases it. I can't stress enough, know your climate! Exercising inside is always a good option during the summer months. I know that when training for runs, terrains are always important; but your health is far more important. Dress accordingly if you do decide to exercise outdoors: wear clothes that are lightweight, that absorb sweat in a way to help cool your body, and use sunscreen.

Last, be sure to carry water or a sports drink with you while you are outdoors. It's recommended to drink something every 10 to 15 minutes. I know how cumbersome it is to carry a water bottle with you, so maybe consider a hydropack that you wear on your back, or a water bottle belt. You may look odd, but at least you'll be able to make it through your run, hike, bike ride or whatever activity you choose! For those that are able to exercise indoors, keep that same mindset! Drink water every 10 to 15 minutes! Gauge the need for a sports drink or electrolyte supplement by how hard you're working out & the amount of sweat lost.

One last thing I do before I engage in exercise: I weigh myself before & after each workout. The weight that is lost is water weight & should be replenished. Last week I dropped 4 pounds after a 60 minute workout. I had to replenish that fluid loss. You will see spikes in weight loss during workouts over the hotter months (and living in dessert & tropical climates like Arizona, Florida, & Texas).

Fueling Your Body ~ Fruits & Veggies

Originally, it was recommended to eat 5 servings daily of fruits & vegetables; but now that recommendation has increased to 8 to 13 servings. Have you taken the time to check out the latest food pyramid guidelines? If you haven't already, check it out at http://www.mypyramid.gov/ (which is a great website, so take the time to look into all the different areas of information this site boasts).

Ever wonder how your fruit is grown? That sticker that comes on it from your produce stand or grocery store has a 4 or 5 digit number.
A quick way to identify how it's grown is:
* if it's 4 digits, that means it's conventionally grown
* if it's 5 digits that begin with a 9, that means it's organic
* if it's 5 digits that begin with an 8, that means it's genetically modified

You can always look up any number on the site http://fruitsticker.com/

With fruits & vegetables color variety is KEY! Here's a quick guide to colors & the benefits they boast!
Orange: high in beta-carotene, which some researchers believe that helps cells communicate more fluently & increases the body's ability to avoid cancer. The carotenoids also help with vision; and the deeper orange foods give us Vitamin A. (Good sources include: carrots, sweet potatos, cantaloupe, & mangos.)
Yellow: provides Vitamin C which can help manage stress (Most citrus foods fall in this category)
Purple: contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that help prevent against heart disease. Also known to contain resveratrol which is a type of plant antibiotic that has antiaging, anti-inflammatory, and bloow-sugar-lowering effects. (Good sources include: eggplant, berries, grapes, olives, beets, & prunes.)
Red: contain the phytochemical lycopene which is a cancer fighting antioxidant & also stops the oxidative stress that leads to LDL particles hardening & blocking arteries. One of the richest sources of this is the tomato (which is also a good source of fiber). (Other good sources include: red pepper, apples, strawberries, watermelon, & red cabbage.)
Green: beneficial for the circulatory system. Contain B-complex vitamins, mineral, and phytochemicals that pack cancer fighting properties. (A great source is broccoli.) The leafy greens play a role in decreasing the risk of diabetes (possibly linked to their fiber & magnesium levels). They also help thyroid hormone secretion, metabolism, and overall nerve / muscle function. (Great source is spinach.) Leafy greens also contain Vitamin C (like romain lettuce & turnip greens). Leafy greens have been found to prevent inflammation, reduce arthritis pain, & blood clotting. Leafy greens even contain omega-3 fats (also found in salmon & some eggs).
White: contain a variety of phytochemicals, one in particular (found in onion & garlic) is allicin. Allicin has been dubbed as the "poor man's antibiotic" because of it's anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. Another source, celery, has been known to keep the fluid in the joints healthy.

Try to incorporate more colors in your diet. An easy way to start is by eating more salads (using romaine, arugula, or spinach leaves...not iceberg) & tossing in lots of veggies and / or fruits. Try not to use only canned produce, instead buy fresh! (And keep the croutons to a minimum!)






Let's Get Clean ~ Corn Syrup? What happened to just maple?

How many times have you read "high fructose corn syrup" on the ingredients label of the food or beverage you are consuming?

Do you know what high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is?

HFCS is used as a sweetener, as well as a preservative. It's produced by taking the glucose (sugar) in cornstarch & changing it to fructose; thus creating a fructose/glucose mix. It's an inexpensive sweetener, mass produced by the processed food industry to increase their profits by stretching shelf life of foods you probably eat on a daily basis.

Maybe all that sugar doesn't really bother you, but think about this: production of HFCS has gone from 3,000 tons in 1967 to over 9 million tons in 2005. Ultimately, our consumption of HFCS here in the US has increased over the past forty years, drastically. The processed food industry knows what they are doing, & they also know that the majority of the population doesn't read the ingredients label to discover all the preservatives that are being put in their food.

A study at the University of Pennsylvania, found that fructose doesn't suppress the hunger hormone (ghrelin) like glucose does. Women who ate fructose instead of glucose (table sugar) had higher ghrelin levels throughout the day. This means that they were constantly hungry. Ever notice that a carbonated beverage doesn't leave you feeling full?

One big difference between glucose & fructose is that glucose is metabolized by all your cells; whereas fructose is metabolized in the liver. HFCS affects the body being able to release insulin & leptin (which are the hormones released when you're done eating). Since HFCS does nothing but increase the ghrelin hormone, you will end up consuming more calories than you would have, since you're left feeling hungry. HFCS also increases triglycerides which block leptin from working in the brain....so your brain can't tell you to stop eating!

HFCS is everywhere. Just because a label says "all natural" doesn't mean it is. The term "organic" however, has much higher standards to live by & more often than not, does not contain any HFCS.

So here's a Get Clean Challenge, try to eliminate as much HFCS from your diet as possible (if not all HFCS). Read ingredients labels, and see what it is you're consuming. The first ingredient is the one that is most used in the food you're eating & the last one is the least. Hershey's Chocolate Syrup has HFCS listed as THE FIRST INGREDIENT! Sad day for me, I love chocolate milk! But I have found an organic, natural, healthy alternative. While I definitely pay more, I know I'm not consuming something harmful. You'll be surprised to see everything that has HFCS listed as an ingredient (yogurt, applesauce, salad dressings, ketchup, sodas, fast food, & the list goes on). Take the time to read.

OT....

Totally off topic, but would you vote for me? :)

http://blueflyclosetconfessions.com/contests/5/contest_entries/349

Cardio Shmardio

I love cardio....and you should too!

WHY?

It gets your heart pumping...and when your heart is pumping, that means you are burning fat! Isn't that incentive enough to do some sort of cardio? I think so!

Do you know what your age predicted heart rate max is? Here's the equation if you don't:
220 - Age = HR max

Now, take that number times it by .20 & .30....keep those numbers handy. Your heart rate, during cardio should be between those 2 numbers in order to be assured you're burning fat. (Of course there are always exceptions to the case, but for most people, this applies.)

When you first begin a cardio session, your body is burning sugar, not fat. It's not until you reach about 20 to 30 minutes that your body starts burning fat. And when your HR (heart rate) reaches that lower number you calculated above, that's when you know you're definitely burning fat!

Cardio is like extra credit for your body. Your body naturally burns calories...which is known as, your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Throwing in a 30 minute jog, walk, or run just adds to that BMR, allowing you who love food, to eat more :)

Here's a quick example:
Sue weighs 160 pounds & is not an active person. 160 pounds x 10 calories = 1600 calories that Sue should consume each day in order to stay the weight that she is currently. That's also the rough estimate of her BMR. Calories in = calories out. If Sue were to throw in a 30 minute jog, in which she ran about a 10 to 11 minute mile, she'd burn roughly 270 to 310 calories. Add those calories to her BMR and that gets her close to 2000 calories. If Sue is eating right, and counting calories, she may see that deficit of only having consumed 1600 calories but burning 1870 to 1910 calories. Creating that deficit is how you lose weight.

There are more tailored equations that would give each individual a much more accurate number than by simply taking your weight & timesing it by a number. For simplicity's sake, I chose to use the less cumbersome calculation.
Take your weight times:
10 for sedentary
12 for moderately active
14 for very active
Those figures will give you a rough estimate on calorie consumption & burn.

So what now?
Challenge yourself to cardio 4 times a week! If you are currently on a cardio regimen, maybe kick it up a notch once a week & slowly progress to more frequent bursts of all out effort. For you beginners, find 30 minutes in your day where you can take a walk, maybe in your neighborhood or even in your office. Just get moving!
Optimally shoot for 4 days a week, 30 minutes each day, of doing some sort of physical activity...it could be walking, jogging, swimming, tennis, basketball, etc. As long as your heart rate is up, you're working!

Let's Get Moving ~ The Plank

The plank is a great move that targets your core (abdominals & lower back).

To properly execute the plank...
1. Get on your hands & knees (your hands should be positioned under your shoulders, not out wide as in a push up)
2. As if you were to go into a push up, extend your legs to where you are now balancing on the tips of your toes
3. Keeping your body in line (neck & spine neutral, bottom down, back not arched), focus on tightening your abdominals to hold the position
4. Don't forget to breathe

If you are a beginner, try to work up to holding this position for 10 seconds. Once you master 10 seconds, move on to 20 & so forth.

For those of you that need more of a challenge:
~ Try holding this position for 1 minute
~ Do toe taps (start on the right side & bring your leg out to the side, tap the ground with your toe, return to starting position, & tap with your left leg...do 10 reps / 5 on each side)
~ Try "rolling T's": begin with a plank and "roll" to your left side, while keeping your body up, don't drop to the ground. The left arm & left leg will be touching the ground, stack your right foot on the left & reach to the ceiling with your right arm; return to plank; "roll" to other side.

Don't get discouraged, the plank is a very challenging move. Try to work up to a higher level than where you began. As long as you stick with it, you will see progression & be amazed at what your body can do!

Let's Get Clean ~ Refine my diamonds, not my grains

In comparison to whole grains, refined grains refer to grain products that have been severely modified from their natural form. Grains are termed as 'refined' when the bran & germ of the grain are removed, which in turn strips the grain of all fiber, vitamins, & minerals that make it so nutritious. The process does call for the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, & folic acid) as well as iron, that were removed, to be 'restored'....hence the term 'enriched'. By using refined grains, the food industry is able to increase the shelf life. Refined grains like white rice, white bread, and white pasta, are missing the healthful nutrients of whole grains, which ultimately make it so easy to digest. The easy digestion causes blood sugar & insulin levels to spike. It's the repeated spikes that lead to insulin resistance & diabetes over time.

Have you ever noticed that when you're scarfing down a bag of potato chips, you really don't get "full"? You only stop eating when your hand hits the bottom of the empty bag. Or when you're eating white pastas (or white bread even, hello Macaroni Grill!), & it's so easy to just keep eating & eating, but without getting "full"? Or maybe you get full temporarily, but hungry soon after? That's because these refined grains are nothing like whole grains...even when they are enriched, they are still not 100% back to what they were when they had the germ & bran. On top of that, once they become refined, they never have the fiber back that they started with...which shows why you never really feel satisfied when eating them. Fiber is what leaves you feeling full.

Here are some scary numbers: the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that people who eat refined grains, compared to those who eat whole grains, have 40% higher levels of C-reactive protein. This C-reactive protein is a sign of chronic, low-level inflammation in the blood vessels that is linked to heart attacks & strokes. Furthermore, people who never eat whole grains have a 30% higher risk of developing diabetes than people who aim to eat just 3 servings of whole grains a day.

So what now? Here's a Get Clean Challenge for you: try eliminating foods from your home that contain processed grains. Look for the words "enriched" or "refined" & toss that food! Another thing to make note of, if the first ingredient does not say "100% whole _____"...tell it good-bye!

Don't get me wrong, I love potato chips, mainly Tostitos with a hint of Jalapeno...but I definitely do NOT consume them every day, and I make it a point to limit myself to ONE serving size. Ever look at that? Most chips, for 1 single serving, it's only a mere 8 to 15 chips...yikes. I think we've all over eaten a bit in that area! (Of course I kill myself in my next workout, but that's another blog!) Try incorporating whole grain bread into your sandwiches rather than using white bread, as a jump start.

Happy Monday

If you need membership information to any of these sites, let me know!

RueLaLa ~ no sales really struck my interest for this week...

Ideeli ~ currently they have some red sale apparel & shoe items...worth checking out, various brands; they also have BCBG sales going on that expire tomorrow.

Beyond the Rack ~ currently: men's Lacoste & Melissa Beth Designs (cute diaper bags). Starting today there is a Swarovski sale & a bebe sale (which, I don't understand that one...).

Billion Dollar Babes ~ CHANEL vintage handbags sale starts today! On Thursday there is a Sweet Pea sale

HauteLook ~ currently: Walter. On Tuesday there is a Beirn sale (shoes & bags), & Wednesday there is American Apparel sales (men & women)

Gilt Groupe ~ Marc Jacobs swim wear starts today. There are JetSetter sales ending today for NYC & Peru...upcoming sales: Mexico, London, & Napa Valley.

Row Nine ~ ehhhh

If anything else pops up during the week, I'll be sure to post the goods!

Editor's Closet ~ ehhhh

Let's Get Moving ~ The Squat

A squat is an exercise move that targets the quadriceps (muscles on the front of your thigh) and the glutes (muscles in your rear).

To properly execute a squat:
1. Stand with your feet hip width apart
2. Bend at your knees, ensuring that your knees do not go past your toes & engage your core (abdominals & lower back)
3. Bend as if you are going to sit down in a chair, spine straight & neck in line with your spine...really push your rear back as if you were going to sit
4. Return to standing position

Beginners: during commercial breaks, while cooking dinner, or any other time, try to do 3 sets of 12 repititions

Intermediates: hold in squat position for 10 seconds, then release. Try to bring your thighs parallel to the ground & then hold. Do 1 set of 12 reps, hold, and then continue on to your next set following the same pattern. You can progress this move by adding on a leg lift after your hold to really work your core & improve your stability!

Advanced: incorporate free weights while you squat by doing bicep curls or over head presses. Begin with a lighter weight & work up to a resistance that is challenging but yet something you can complete. When you're up for it, try these combined moves while standing on a Bosu ball!

Let's Get Clean ~ Hydro-what?

I don't know about you, but I am constantly reading nutrition facts & information labels, especially the ingredients list. I find it rather amusing trying to pronounce most of the words that are listed; but I also find it extremely scary! In my opinion, the United States has been on a track of unhealthy living for the past several decades. We live such busy lives, that 'fast & easy' has become our motto. Set aside the fast food industry, even our grocery stores carry "5 minute meals", in a box!

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with a "5 minute meal" if you know what in fact you are eating. Take for instance the common ingredient in most processed foods: hydrogenated fat. These fats allow foods such as crackers, cookies, pasta & rice mixes, breads, and chips to sit on a shelf & still retain their "freshness". I don't know about you, but eating a cracker years after it is produced just does not sound appetizing!

Hydrogenated fats are produced when regular fat (like corn oil or palm oil) is injected with hydrogen gas at a high heat & then ultimately mixed with a metal catalyst (like zinc, nickel, or copper). What this does is alter the regular fat's chemical structure, turning it from a liquid to a semi-solid structure. The ultimate result of this process: trans fat.

So what does this mean for your health? Well hydrogenated fats increase your LDL (bad cholesterol) & your triglycerides, while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol). This combination of increasing LDL's & lowering HDL's could lead to coronary heart disease. Regular consumption of trans fats could ultimately lead to hardening of your arteries, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, & Alzheimer's.

Here's a Get Clean Challenge for you: begin eliminating foods from your diet that include ingredients with the word "hydrogenated". If you already avoid these foods, then kudos to you! I'd love to hear about your experience.

Tip: If your favorite food lists a 'hydrogenated' ingredient, try checking in the organic section of your grocery store. Most times there is an organic version. The cost may be more, but wouldn't you rather pay $2 to $5 more now, rather than pay $1000's in doctor & medical bills later having to correct / stabilize the damage done to your health?

Welcome

I am so glad that you have stumbled across my 'Fashionably Healthy' blog!

No matter your fitness level, or health consciousness, I hope that you will find useful information & the keys to developing (or maintaining) a healthy lifestyle!

Fitness is my passion, and I love sharing the skills & tools to leading a healthy life.

Please feel free to leave comments, send messages, or ask questions you may have. I'm happy to help in any way possible!
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