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.


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


Cardio Shmardio

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


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!