Friday, February 27, 2009

5 Reasons to Try a Protein Shake

The concept of drinking a protein shake may have you conjuring up images of big, overly built body builders, with their muscles and veins popping in every direction as they chug some goopy, raw egg mixture.

Protein shakes, however, aren't just for the Arnolds of the world. They have come a long way in the last five to ten years and can be a great supplement to any individual's diet, even those who aren't looking to 'beef up'. Personally, I have become a huge fan of Whey Protein, and have a Whey Protein shake every morning after I exercise. Granted, it is always better to eat 'real' foods as opposed to shakes, but here are a few good reasons to give them a try:

Time Saver: The Protein shake is a great way to get some nutrition into your day without a lot of preparation. Most protein shakes, whether Whey, Soy, Egg or any other type, requires two ingredients: Milk or Juice and the protein powder.

It's Cheap: At first glance, protein powders might seem very expensive, but in reality, they aren't. Once you actually divide the number of servings into the price, you will see that one serving costs anywhere from $.50 to $1.00. If you add a serving of milk, you are paying a total of around $1.50. C'mon now, if you bought a muffin at Starbucks, you'd be spending at least $2.50.

Muscle Repair: Even if you aren't a body builder, protein shakes are good for helping repair your muscles after a work out. Why is this good? It allows your muscles to recover faster, which allows you to to build muscle more easily, to reduce injuries and soreness related to working out, and to feel better during your workouts.

Great Tasting: As noted above, today's protein shakes are a far cry from Arnold Schwarzenegger's body building days. Is a matter of fact, a lot of the protein shakes out there are mighty tasty. They come in yummy flavors like chocolate and vanilla.

Healthy Alternative to a Mickey D Shake: No kidding. If you have a craving for a chocolate shake from McDonald's you can BET that a protein shake is much healthier for you.

If you decide to give it a 'shake', make sure to use one that is natural. Avoid those that either have a lot of sugar, artificial sweeteners or artificial flavors in them. Products using stevia are safer and healthier options.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Okay, Listen Up Ladies! For real this time!

I have always been an advocate of drinking wine, a glass here and there, for a number of reasons. I even did a college report on red wine and its benefits. However, just yesterday, The Today Show did a report on women and alcohol. New evidence shows alcohol use (even ONE glass a day) can increase a woman’s risk of getting some cancers.

Please tune in to the report here:

Monday, February 23, 2009

I have a new favorite site...

I had blogged about as a great tool to track food intake. However, I have found another one that deserves a mention.

Obviously, it is the Lance Armstrong Foundation site, but that is NOT why I am passing this site along. If you have the time and are able to comfortably navigate through sites that have way more information than you need, give it a shot.

They have a place to track your meals, and their database is the best out there. You can retrieve articles and videos on nutrition, fitness, and even join and view a forum.

Check it out!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I have it once, but I will say it again, and again, and again....

Eat to fill and thrill!

by nutritionist 1/8/2009 9:47:00 AM

While losing weight, you need to focus on eat­ing foods that are not only healthy but will also fill you up, satisfy you and keep you from crav­ing foods you’re trying to avoid. The more satis­fied you feel, the less you will go searching for the candy bowl.

What are the first foods that come to mind when you think about dieting? Salads, fruit, rice cakes and water, lots of water, right? But do any of these really satisfy your appetite? Not a chance!

While eating a large plate of steamed veggies is great for your health, it doesn’t make much of a dent in your appetite.

How and what should you eat to lose weight? Dare I say it: Eat FAT!

Would it surprise you to learn that peanuts could be good for weight loss? The latest research shows that people who eat them are more suc­cessful at both losing weight and keeping it off. In a Harvard study look­ing at two groups of dieters (Mattes and Voisard 1998), the first group included an ounce of heart-healthy peanuts, peanut butter or mixed nuts once a day. The other group did not get the heart-healthy daily snack. A year and a half later the peanut group had lost the most weight and kept it off, while the non-peanut snackers had gained back 5 pounds.
The researchers reasoned that the fat in peanuts kept the snackers fuller longer, thus staving off food cravings for as long as two hours when com­pared to other snacks. Similar findings have surfaced for olive oil, another heart-healthy fat. Dieters who included it in their diet also stayed fuller longer and avoided unhealthy snacks (Chiavacci, 2002). Don’t forget that, although this oil is good for you, a little, at 100 calories per table­spoon, goes a long way.

Here are some simple food combos that can keep you fuller longer:

Add a tablespoon of peanut butter to an apple.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of olive oil on steamed veggies, or sauté veggies in a tablespoon of it.
Eat a small handful of trail mix with your non-fat latté.
Add a small can of tuna or salmon to your green salad.

I would add almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower butter, soynuts and soynut butter, and avocados!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Be Heart Smart - Target Heart Rate

Regular cardio vascular exercise makes your heart stronger and more efficient, burns calories, lowers your blood pressure and helps keep you mentally sharp. However, it is important to exercise properly to get optimum results and help you achieve your goals. With today's busy schedules, no one has time to waste on ineffective or inefficient exercise.
Performing cardiovascular work at the correct level of intensity is essential. Exercise too hard and you risk injury and exhaustion or you may burn out and stop exercising altogether. If you don't work out hard enough, you may not get the results you want. The best way to measure intensity is to watch your heart rate as you exercise.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, your predicted maximum heart rate can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220. This is the maximum number of times your heart can beat in a minute. Then multiply that number by .55 and by .9 to find the range that is your heart rate training zone. For example, if you are 35 years old, you have a predicted maximum heart rate of 185 beats per minute (220-35 = 185). Your lower limit is 102 beats per minute (.55 x 185), and your upper limit in the zone is 166 (.9 x 185).

If you are just starting a workout routine, 55 percent may be an effective place to begin your workouts. A more conditioned person should work closer to 70 to 85 percent of her maximum heart rate. Depending on individual goals, most people who typically follow a regular exercise program should sustain at least 70 to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate for 20 to 60 minutes. There are several ways to monitor your heart rate: Manually checking your pulse, using a heart rate monitor, hand sensors on fitness equipment. Checking your pulse can be done by using the first two fingers of one hand to apply light pressure at the carotid artery on the neck or to the wrist. Measure the beats for 10 seconds and multiply by six to get your heart rate for one minute.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cross Training


These pilates moves strengthen the diaphragm, stretch tight muscles, and improve posture to help you run with less effort.

From the January 2009 issue of Runner's World

These three Pilates moves strengthen the diaphragm, stretch tight muscles, and improve posture—all of which help you run longer with less effort. Practice each exercise two or three times a week before you run.1) THE HUNDREDLie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms at your sides, palms down. Inhale and lift your head, neck, shoulders, and arms off the ground. Lift your knees and extend your feet so your legs are straight and at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Take five short breaths in and five short breaths out. While doing so, pump your arms, moving them in a controlled up and down manner. Do a cycle of 10 full breaths—each breath includes five inhales and five exhales. After you do 10 complete breaths, you will have completed 100 arm pumps.The Payoff: Teaches controlled breathing, so that your inhales and exhales are balanced. Bonus: Builds strong abdominals.

2) THE SWANLie face down with your palms flat under your shoulders (as if you were going to do a pushup). Look down so your neck is in line with your spine. Inhale and slowly lift your head, neck, shoulders, and chest as you press your hands into the ground. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. As you exhale, slowly lower yourself back down, chest first, then shoulders, neck, chin, and head. To avoid discomfort in your back, concentrate on pulling your shoulders back to open up your chest. Repeat 10 times.The Payoff: Opens up the chest and deepens your lung capacity to correct shallow breathing.

3) STANDING CHEST EXPANSIONStand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your arms at your sides. Inhale and sweep your arms out and up so that your biceps are near your ears and your palms are facing each other. Exhale and lower your arms back down to your sides. Repeat four times, concentrating on breathing deep and opening your chest. The Payoff: Stretches the intercostal muscles (which lie between the ribs), relaxes the shoulders, engages the diaphragm and pelvic floor, and helps balance breathing between the left and right lungs.

4) THE ROLL-UPLie on your back with your arms extended over your head and resting on the floor. Lift your arms and the head and roll upward, bending forward over your legs. Do this movement slowly and carefully with control. Each vertebra of the spine should lift off the ground one at a time. Take at least one full breath to roll up. Then on another breath, reverse and roll down with control, returning one vertebra at a time. Repeat five times.The Payoff: Loosens up and elongates the lower back, hamstrings, and calves. Also improves core strength.

5) THE SAWSit up with your back straight back and your legs open wide (about the width of your shoulders). Extend your arms out to the sides of your body at shoulder height. As you inhale, twist your torso to the right. As you exhale, reach your left hand to the outside of your right foot. Then as you inhale again, return to the center. Exhale, and repeat on the other side. Try to keep your legs straight. If you can't, bring the legs closer together and work to widen them over time. Do this exercise four times on each side.The Payoff: Stretches the hamstrings and the quadratus lumborum muscle, which is responsible for lifting the hip as you swing forward into your stride.

6) THE ONE-LEG KICKLie face down on the floor with your legs and feet together. Lift your upper trunk, neck, and head while resting on your forearms for support. Your chest and head will be lifted and you should be looking forward. Tighten your abdominal muscles so that your belly is off the ground. Lift your feet off the ground. As you inhale, bend your right knee and bring your foot back toward your glutes. As you exhale, straighten your leg. Switch back and forth, repeating the exercise on each leg six times. The Payoff: Stretches the quadriceps, opens the chest, and improves posture.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Interesting Article about Wii Fit

(None of the BSP trainers have this game, nor do we suggest that you should or should not play. Just wanted to pass on an interesting article :)

The Truth About Wii Fit And Weight Loss

Fitness videogames might be able to keep players in shape--but not if they don't play them.

By Bonnie Ruberg, Forbes

BURLINGAME, CALIF.--Nintendo's exercise game Wii Fit is still flying off retail shelves eight months after its U.S. release last May. The all-in-one instructional tool, weight tracker and fitness coach advertises itself as a painless way for the whole family to get healthy thanks to the game's "balance board," which measures players' movement. Offering a selection of activities--from running to push-ups to yoga--Wii Fit is now in almost 1.5 million homes across the country. But is anyone actually using it?

Not really, says Brian Crecente, managing editor of the popular gaming blog Kotaku. Despite optimistic predictions that Nintendo had unleashed a new era of videogames, Crecente calls Wii Fit little more than an exercise fad that's bound to come and go like any other. "I don't know a single person who has bought the game who uses it routinely after a month," he claims, stressing that getting results from the game requires dedication and real physical exertion. "What Nintendo did is they tapped into that desire people have to be healthier... Everyone wants to work out, but nobody really wants to put the effort into it."

One of the things that's made Wii Fit so popular is the excitement Nintendo has stirred up with people who don't normally play. For Crecente, that excitement--and the let down that often comes with it--hit home. "My mom and step dad both tried Wii Fit before it came out," he says, "and like every other middle-aged American, they loved it." In fact, they loved it so much they went out and bought a Wii of their own. Months later, though, when Crecente stopped by for a visit, he didn't need to ask if they'd set foot on their balance board. Their Wii had never even been set up. So much for physical fitness.

Don't blame Nintendo for people's sloth, observers say. The company has marketed its new cash cow brilliantly, and it's not responsible for whether consumers play the game or not. Nintendo declined to comment for this article, but Wii Fit creator Shigeru Miyamoto has previously gone on record and said that the game is less about people losing weight and more about broadening the videogame market. Still, it seems a little disingenuous for Nintendo to heavily market a fitness tool that's sitting in more than a million American living rooms collecting dust.
That's not to say Wii Fit doesn't work--if you play it. Brian Ashcraft, another Kotaku editor, tried the game out faithfully for a month when it was first released in order to review it. The results: He enjoyed the yoga, and started to feel more in shape. But the novelty wore off, and Ashcraft admits he hasn't picked up the game in a long, long time.

Not everyone, however, is prepared to give up on Wii Fit. Instead of relying on anecdotal evidence, Scott Owens, a professor of exercise science at the University of Mississippi, has started a six-month study to uncover whether placing Wii Fit in a home will actually improve a family's physical fitness. By donating the game to local participants for three months at a time, then taking it away for another three months, Owens will be able to observe how the game impacts cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and balance. How often families use Wii Fit will be up to them.

Of course, the overall goal of Owens' study isn't to question Wii Fit's effectiveness--it's to provide more insight into the American obesity epidemic. Right now, Owens speculates that playing traditional videogames might be a contributing factor because it's a sedentary activity. Results of his study are expected to come out this June.

In the meantime, gamers like Crecente remain skeptical about the Wii Fit hype, predicting that this, too, will pass into fitness fad history. When a neighbor mentioned heading out to buy a Wii Fit recently, Crecente's advice was simple: Don't do it. "I have to keep reminding people," he sighs, "even though it's a videogame, it's still exercise. It might be fun a little bit, but it's work."