Is The Grass Greener On The Other Side?

People have asked me about my take on wheatgrass, especially when used in a smoothie.  First off, wheatgrass is simply wheatgrass the prepared cotyledon of the wheat plant; it is usually found in powder form.  Whether or not you believe that it is as great as people say it is, wheatgrass is proven to be a good source of important nutrients such as vitamins A,C,E, iron, calcium, amino acids, etc.  So from that stand point, it can’t hurt to ingest wheatgrass (in moderation of course).  However, there are many additional claims on the benefits of wheatgrass including managing cholesterol and high blood pressure, losing weight, promoting digestion, detoxing, etc.  It is also used in alternative healing methods to combat cancer, arthritis, and diabetes.  These additional claims, while a possibility, have not been rigorously tested by scientists.  Despite this, wheatgrass is still good for you and if you can stand the taste, you should try it.

Now for the preparation of ingesting wheatgrass, it is commonly used in its juice form or in powder form.  The powder form is used so that you can mix it with other liquids/smoothies.  Personally, I prefer just mixing wheatgrass powder with water.  It is simple and effective as you don’t have to pull out a blender and other ingredients.  Be warned, people I have talked to don’t like the taste of wheatgrass and try to mask it with other items (such as putting it in a smoothie with other fruits, vegetables, etc).  However, this process introduces a lot of calories that could have otherwise been avoided.  Calories are not bad but excess certainly is.  On a personal note, I find mdownloadixing other flavors with wheatgrass to be worse than straight drinking wheatgrass with water as the combined flavors leaves a very strange aftertaste in my mouth.  As i said before, that just a personal opinion and I urge you all to try different methods of ingesting that works for you.  I drink wheatgrass usually on an empty stomach especially first thing in the morning and before dinner.  This helps my digestive process start working and thus helps digest later meals.

That is all on my take on wheatgrass!  I would love to hear about your experience with wheatgrass or any other form of supplement so please leave a comment below.

 

***As always, please like and subscribe (top of the page on the right hand side).  I am trying to build a community that supports a healthier lifestyle so tell your friends and family to visit.  If you would like an article about a specific topic or if you want to offer critique please feel free to post a comment.  Thank you.***

BMI in Shape?

Hello all, today we will talk about our weight, specifically our Body Mass Index (BMI).  Whenever we go in to the doctor, they take our height and weight, consult a chart, and define us as “normal”, “overweight”, etc. Now I am by NO means bashing on our medical professionals (they work really hard by the way) but I do have to disagree with their cut and dry analysis on this matteBMI-chartr. The reason I put the previous words in quotation marks is because the result on the chart is such a one dimensional answer to a truly complicated question: Am I Overall Healthy and Fit?

Body weight alone is not a good indicator of overall health and fitness.  Total body weight alone does not show the ratio between lean body mass (non fat components such as muscle, bones, etc) and fat mass (essential and non essential fat).  Rather than use the BMI chart, use body composition instead.  First off, having fat mass, especially essential body fat, is important.  This fat protects delicate organs, provides insulation, and helps nerve conduction.  In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that optimal health males should have 10-18% of the body weight as body fat, and females have 15-23% body fat.  Now you ask how do you determine your body fat percent? First off, you will need to by andownload (4) Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) device ( seen to the left…it can be bought on amazon for a fair price).  The BIA device well help give you your body fat percentage without being invasive or requiring skills or training.  Once you have the device, follow these steps:

  1. Weigh your self.
  2. Use the BIA device before you eat and smoke and avoid vigorous activity 24 hours prior to the test.
  3. Do this test multiple (2-3) times to ensure an accurate measurement.
  4. Take the percentage and multiply against your body weight to get your body fat weight.
  5. Take your body fat weight and subtract it from your body weight; this will get you your Lean Body Mass

See pretty simple!  As a rule of thumb, you want to increase your Lean Body Mass while reducing your Body Fat Weight.  So, if you decided to diet and see a rapid loss of body weight, you are probably just losing water weight and lean body mass; that is NOT healthy in the long run.  Remember, body weight does not reflect how in shape you are.woman-weight-loss-comparison

To round everything off, the best way to increase your Lean Body Mass is to do a combination of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and a healthy, well rounded diet (carbs and all).  So they next time you step on a scale ask your self, “Am I ACTUALLY in Shape?”

 

***As always, please like and subscribe (top of the page on the right hand side).  I am trying to build a community that supports a healthier lifestyle so tell your friends and family to visit.  If you would like an article about a specific topic or if you want to offer critique please feel free to post a comment.  Thank you.***

“Abs”olutely wanted, Hard to get

As the temperatures start to increase and our thoughts turn towards water-based activities, what else do we think about? Abdominals! It may not be that direct of a connection rather how are we going to look in a swimsuit, bikini and/or other abdominal showinabsg summer outfit. Most of us are familiar with the six-pack ab term and look and strive to achieve that look or at least a 4-pack. However, to truly achieve that look of cut and definitions, we must strengthen and address all the major muscles that comprise the abdominals. That is – the rectus abdominals (6-pack), internal obliques, external obliques, and transversus abdominals. Simply put, the transversus ab lies deep in the body and is critical for maintaining proper posture especially as we age. Internal and external obliques allow us to flex and rotate our spine side to side. Rectus ab flexes our spine and is probably the most revered of the group – especially when it looks like the 6-pack featured in magazines and videos. My favorite is the transversus ab because of its behind the spotlight attitude and importance. It supports the body in all that it does yet doesn’t require lots of resistance or attention, just awareness.

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Now you ask “how do I get washboard abs or at least better definition”?  The simple answer is to work out ALL of you abdominal muscles.  Many people think that if they do 100 sit-ups it is good enough. WRONG! Granted the ability to do 100 sit-ups is fantastic but as mentioned above, there are many different abdominal muscles.  The following are some simple exercises to getting better definition for your abs.

Exercises:

Belly Fat layer: First and foremost, you have to lose the layer of fat over the muscles.  You can do abdominal exercises forever but it still won’t show up if you have the fat over them.  The best way to get rid of that layer of fat is cardio.  Something as simple as walking/jogging or as complex as interval training will help with the belly fat.

 Transverse Abdominals:  The transverse abdominal muscles lies beneath the six-pack muscles and performs a vital role. It supports your internal organs, increases abdominal pressure so you can lift more weight, and enhances the muscular definition of you abs.  Some simple exercises to train your transverse abs are: “The plank” and “The stomach vacuum”. In “The plank” exercise: assume a push-up position, except keep your forearms on the Plank-exercisefloor rather than just your hands. This insures that you do not inadvertently do yoga’s “downward dog position”. Balance on your toes and draw your stomach in, flex your core as
much as possible, and hold the position for as long as you can. If you find that it is too challenging to begin, you can balance ona25416da967584a1bb1d07ac1d96c100 your knees rather than your toes.  Next up is the “stomach vacuum”.  It is exactly what it sound like; we all do it when we take pictures.  It is done by standing upright and exhaling completely. Suck in your stomach as much as possible and puff out your chest and hold the position for as long as possible.

Rectus abdominals AKA (6-pack): This you need to do sit-ups…lots of them.  However a key point to keep in mind is to not use your body momentum to lift you up and then slam back onto the surface.  Do slow, even, controlled movements.  One thing I found that helps is to put your hands face down on your thighs while in the standard sit-up position.  As you come up, keep your hands on your thighs until they touch your knees. STOP and slowly lower your torso back down.  This methods helps control you movements.

 

Internal obliques and external obliques:  I recommend two exercises for these muscles.  First off, do oblique twists.  Get into a standard sit-up position. Kettlebell Workout 3.indd Raise you torso and feet off the ground like until only your butt is touch the ground.  With or without weights, rotate your torso in an even and controlled manner.  Rotate until you feel the muscles in your sides start really working and then rotate to the other side.  If you are holding weights, rotate until a part of the weight touches the ground like in the picture.  The next workout is the “side jackknife”. To do this, lay down on your left side and keeping your right leg over your left one, place your left hand in a comfortable position and clasp your right sidejacknife12x8__landscapehand behind your head.  Then, bring your torso and right leg toward each other as you pull with your obliques. Squeeze and then return to the resting position.  Don’t forget to do the other side as well.

 

Summary: This was a pretty long article so let me do a quick summary.  To get better definition for your abs, just doing sit-ups is not enough.  You got to lose the layer of belly fat and work out ALL of your abdominal muscles (see above) for examples.  This in conjunction with health eating and health living will help you tighten up and provide definition to your midriff.

***As always, please like and subscribe (top of the page on the right hand side).  I am trying to build a community that supports a healthier lifestyle.  If you would like an article about a specific topic please feel free to post a comment.  Thank you.***

Warming up to warm ups

As I age, I find and strongly promote the warm-up phase as a must-do before any physical activity or workout.  Regardless of age and fitness level, the warm-up allows the person to respect their body before demanding more from the different systems.  As the name implies, a proper warm-up increases the body and muscle core temperature which unnamedfacilitates a more complete unloading of oxygen from the blood to the muscles.  And oxygen is needed to burn fat and calories.  Another important effect of the warm-up phase is to prepare the nervous system for action.  It is the neurons that provide the signal for the muscles to contract.  Knowing this, (which is not all the benefits of warming-up) why would one ignore warming up?

Now lets looks at some examples of some warm ups:unnamed (1)

Before a workout, why don’t you jog a few blocks or walk 10 minutes on a machine like the treadmill, elliptical, or the bike.

 

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If you do not want to jog or use a cardio machines, you can also do some high knees or high kicks.

 

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If the top two options do not interest you, you can simply do stretches.  Remember to stretch all your major muscle groups and use proper form when stretching.

 

***As always, please like and subscribe (top of the page on the right hand side).  I am trying to build a community that supports a healthier lifestyle so tell your friends and family to visit.  If you would like an article about a specific topic or if you want to offer critique please feel free to post a comment.  Thank you.***

Get Off Your Butt

Sedentary behavior is defined as time spent sitting or lying down (and an energy expenditure of less than 1.5 METs).  Sedentary activities are on top of the Physical Activity Pyramid – similar to the fats and oil category placement.   2615really-fat-guy-on-computerResearch has identified that sedentary behavior is associated
with greater risk for at least 35 chronic disease and health conditions.  And even those who exercise regularly cannot escape the effects of sedentary behavior (if engaging in such behavior while not exercising).   Guidelines for how long people should sit and stand are being published and one such prescription states that for every half hour working in a office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes and move around or stretch for 2 minutes.  I believe that this can be applied to any environment or situation where sitting for long periods of time occurs.  I look forward to a paradigm shift in the academic setting, business environment and other communities that will embrace, accommodate and advocate physical activity over sedentary activity.

However, while the guidelines for how long people should sit (stated above) are ideal, it is not practical in an everyday office job.  In the following, I will recommend some practical ways to avoid complete sedentary behavior.

  1. Go to the gym during your lunch break.  I know that sounds horrible and adownload (1)re wondering why would you go to the gym instead of relaxing.
    Well the truth is that your lunch break might be the only time you have to go workout.  During this time, it is not necessary to work up a huge sweat or extremely sore muscles.  Simply walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes is good enough to get your blood flowing and your body moving.

2. Stand up and stretch.  This one is simple and would require zero effort to do.  unnamed (5)Every hour or so, stand up and stretch.  Whenever you stand up, add a little stretch.  See, very simple.  A simple stretching routine is to stand up, interlock your your finger, pull your hands and arms up until your body in taut, and continue pulling up until you are on your toes. This routine would take at most 5-10 seconds.  If you suffer from your feet falling on you, you can do the following stretch to help prevent and alleviate the problem.  With your feet flush against the ground, slowly raise your feet while keeping you heel to the ground,  Stretch as far as you can and when you are there, hold that position for 2-3 seconds and begin slowly lowering your feet back to the ground.  Do this 3-4 time every hour and it will keep your feet from falling asleep.

 

3. Squats.  Like the stretch, you do not have to leave your desk to do this.  unnamed (4)Simply, whenever you stand up, try to do so without your hands and just use the muscles in your legs.  When you sit back down, do not just fall into your chair.  Just do a squat and when your butt touched the chair, gently sit down.  That said, there is no real need to do the arm raising part of a squat as that will garner you some weird, inquisitive looks from your coworkers.

 

***As always, please like and subscribe (top of the page on the right hand side).  I am trying to build a community that supports a healthier lifestyle so tell your friends and family to visit.  If you would like an article about a specific topic or if you want to offer critique please feel free to post a comment.  Thank you.***