Archive for the ‘fitness’ Category

Chilling at Bedtime

July 21, 2014

 

d4jm9-331.jpgI love to sleep in a cold bedroom at night. I prefer to burrow under the covers, rather than have the room warm and toasty. While it can sometimes be a bone of contention , this article in the New York Times gives another, perhaps more compelling reason to turn the thermostat down at night.

Sleeping in a cooler room can alter the amount of brown fat our bodies carry.
Brown fat, which has been discovered in tiny amounts in the upper backs and necks of adults, is thought to have be metabolically active.  This healthy fat aids in   burning calories, maintaining core body temperature, and taking sugar out of the bloodstream.

Studies performed on healthy men showed that sleeping in a room cooled to 66 degrees, allowed their bodies to double their stores of healthy brown fat in just four weeks, and improved their insulin sensitivity.  When the same men slept in an 80 degree room for four weeks, their brown fat levels fell lower than they were at the onset of the study.

While the effects of these findings were minimal, it is interesting to note that subtle tweaks in temperature could offer small metabolic health boosts.

The original article can be found here.

photo: glasshouse images

Chic Trackers

July 16, 2014

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Fitness tracking devices have been gaining prominence, and it seems many of the chicest women are sporting rubber wrist bands, to record their activity, calorie expenditure and even sleep cycles.

It certainly comes as no surprise that Fitbit, one of the early adopters of fitness tracking bracelets has teamed up with designer Tory Burch to create a line of fashionable jewelry with tracking technology.

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From colorful printed bands with Burch’s signature logo, to gold caged bracelets and pendants, these pieces are designed to house Fitbit’s “core”, which pops out of the original bracelet.

While Tory Burch is not the first to merge fashion and fitness, she certainly is the most high profile.
Watch for a flurry of activity around this concept as fashion firms and tech firms begin to collaborate on this type of product. It’s only a matter of time before Apple steps in and blows the competition out of the water.

pictures courtesy of Tory Burch.

Rev Up Your Metabolism

June 2, 2014

It seems every few years, there is a diet trend that is later found to be unwarranted. Remember high carb, low fat? How about high fat and low carb?
Right now it’s all about juice cleansing, and being gluten free. Thanks to the new film “Fed Up,” sugar free eating is gaining momentum, and will be the next big thing in dietary deprivation.

While some of this advice is valid, we spend so much time hip hopping between the latest diet and exercise crazes, that we often sabotage our metabolisms in the process.

A fit young man runs on a beach trail in sand dunes.

Metabolism is defined as the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. Revving up your metabolic functions can result in weight loss and increased energy. Yet, so many of the things we do actually have a negative effect on our systems.

Some of the first things we think of when trying to lose weight are eliminating calories and hitting the gym. While those things will impact weight loss, going about them in the wrong way can have adverse implications.

The more you move, the more you burn.

Recent research states that sitting all day at a desk can be hazardous to your health. Even exercising for an hour per day can’t offset the sedentary lifestyle of a desk jockey.

To alleviate the problem, try to get up every hour or so to stroll around the office. Use your breaks to take a walk, and hit the steps instead of the elevator. Getting up and getting the blood flowing keeps the metabolism active.

Iron deficiency can also be a metabolism-slowing culprit. Menstruating women and some vegetarians can easily become anemic. Add a supplement, or simply increase your intake of iron rich foods, such as beans, spinach, shrimp, lean meats and artichokes.

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Extreme dieting may initially get the scale moving in the right direction, but long term and frequent yo-yo dieting can wreck havoc on your system. When you deprive your body of essential nutrients and the calories it needs to function properly, you trick it into “starvation mode”, causing your metabolism to slow down to conserve energy, resulting in a lower than normal calorie burn. Alcohol can also be a culprit in slowing down the metabolic process. Avoid fad diets and cleanses, and instead adopt a well balanced diet, full of healthy proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and eliminate unhealthy processed foods.

Dehydration can be another metabolic roadblock. The body needs water to run properly, and without it, it works less efficiency. Drinking more water also helps escort excess fluid from the body, flushing out toxins and bloat.

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Your body needs adequate sleep in order to function at its optimum level. When deprived of sleep, we perform much more slowly, and our metabolism follows suit. Sleep deprivation is also linked with unhealthy food cravings. Try to get 8 hours of shuteye each night, and step away from the empty calorie foods, like cookies and chips.

Good health revolves around a consistent program of well-balanced eating, physical exercise, and adequate rest and recovery. Taking care of your body will help it function at its peak level. Try cleaning up your diet, and getting up and moving, and see how positively it responds. You will look and feel better in no time!

photos: Glasshouse Images

Surfing USA

May 12, 2014

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I have fallen into a bit of a fitness rut. I have been traveling non-stop, and the truth is, hotel gym workouts are great for short term maintenance, but they aren’t great for a long term situation. At home I walk everywhere (weather permitting),weight train, run, and take several cycling and conditioning classes each week to round out my repertoire of exercise. The boredom, and lack of facilities were taking a toll on my body and my mind. I started noticing a small fitness studio that just opened somewhere between my hotel and office in Quincy, Massachusetts. When I went on line to book a spin class, none were available, but something new and innovative caught my eye: Surfset.

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Surfset is an indoor surfing class, that uses an unstable surfboard-like apparatus mounted on 3 inflated balls to simulate the real deal. Best of all, I didn’t even need to get wet.  I couldn’t wait to try it!
With a mix of excitement and trepidation, I showed up for my first introductory class.
The first few minutes on the board were a little shaky, as I tried to get my bearings and stabilize the board. Thighs shaking, toes cramping, and arms out for balance, I quickly found my center of gravity. Once I got the hang of it, we performed a series of exercises on the board, including planks, squats, step ups or jump ups, burpees, pushups and crunches. Some moves actually simulated swimming and paddling. Only the lunges got the better of me, but the second set proved easier than the first.
I am happy to report that I did not fall off the board, or do anything that incited uncontrollable snickers from my fellow surfers.
Surfset challenges your thighs and core, as they work extra hard to stabilize your body and the board during the workout. Pushups, when done on a wobbly surface add an extra edge to the movement. While only one exercise incorporated weights, and I hope once people get comfortable on the board, the studio will ramp it up a bit, including more weighted and compound movements.

Living in a neighborhood of boutique fitness studios focusing on everything from cycling, pilates, barre, bootcamp, rowing or yoga, everyone is looking for a niche. Surfset could be the big next big to come our way. Soul Surf anyone?

Photos taken at Shred Pilates and Spin

How To Be A Morning Exerciser

April 24, 2014

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Working out in the morning has it’s perks. It’s energizing, it starts your day off right, and there are no excuses when work and life get in the way later. The downside: you need to actually get your butt out of bed and do it!
Becoming a morning exerciser is possible; even for those of us who like to press “snooze” more than we like to get our sweat on. Trust me, once you get going, you will be so grateful that you did. And it only hurts for a few minutes, before the adrenaline kicks in.

Here are a few ways to get yourself going in the morning:

1. Schedule your workout (whatever time of day you do it) as you would a meeting or a doctor’s appointment, and show up!

2. Book a class, a trainer or a training buddy to ensure that you really do show up.

3. Commit to your rest days in advance. This keeps me accountable. I can decide in advance when I am not going to work out, so I don’t just make the call when the alarm goes off and I don’t feel like getting up. Just deciding not to go in the morning is a non-negotiable.

4. Plan ahead. Lay out your gym clothes the night before. Pack your gym bag if you shower there to make sure that you have everything you need when you get there. Getting out of the shower and realizing you have no clean underwear is not fun.

5. Plan your pre-workout breakfast. Whether it’s a glass of water or juice, or a light breakfast, decide in advance what it will be to avoid wasting time in the morning. Make it enough to fuel your workout, and keep you hydrated, but light enough not to weigh you down or cause stomach upset.

6. Tell yourself you just have to do a certain amount and you can quit. Set a minimum amount of work, such as run a mile, do one set of a circuit, or put in 10 minutes on the bike. Chances are, once you get past that small amount of exercise, you will be pumped up to do more. Getting to the gym is half the battle. Once you are there, you are highly likely to workout.

7. Congratulate yourself on your diligence. Working out every morning is no small feat, but you will be so much better off for it. Pat yourself on the back, give yourself a treat and keep up the good work!

8. Don’t give up! Studies show it takes 21 days to form a habit, and 66 days to make it permanent. Push through it. You will thank yourself in the long run.

photo: glasshouse images

 

Exercise Your Way Young?

April 17, 2014

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We all know that exercise benefits our health in many ways, but a new study shows it might also help us look younger too.

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that mice became ill when sedentary, but thrived when given access to a running wheel. The theory was then applied to humans, with positive results.

A group of  men and women ages 20-84 were split into 2 groups; the first exercising vigorously for 3 hours per week, and the other less than 1 hour per week. It was discovered that after age 40, those who got more exercise also had thinner and healthier status cornuems and thicker dermis layers, a skin composition more similar to those aged 20-30.

They also studied a sedentary group of people over the age of 65. After three months on an exercise programs, the participant’s skin was found to be similar in make up to that of 20-40 year olds, and they looked visibly younger.

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Instead of investing in costly lotions and potions to battle the visible signs of aging, perhaps it’s time to start working out. You heart, lungs, bones and skin will thank you.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Sports Beer

February 21, 2014

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Generally speaking, drinking a beer after your workout is not the best choice. It’s dehydrating, bloating, and has enough calories to negate the effects of the workout. Unless it’s a Lean Machine Ale that is.

Canada’s latest entry into the world of breweries, is not only a healthier option to traditional ales, but it also marketing itself as a sports drink!

Aside from having a low alcohol content, it contains antioxidants and electrolytes that aid in recovery, and replenish vital nutrients often lost during high intensity exercise. One 77 calorie can,contains 7 grams of protein, and 7 different vitamins. It is shown to boost the immune system, and is gluten free.

For those of you in the states looking to give it a try, the company is offering a 24 pack, for $150, which comes with shares in Lean Machine, a hat and tee shirt, and an invitation to a local launch party. Why not give it a try?

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Cutting The Mustard

February 12, 2014

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Athletes often use sports drinks and energy gels to refuel and prevent muscle cramps during strenuous activities. These costly and high sugar aids can easily be replaced by a simple fast food staple: mustard packets.

Muscle cramps are often caused by a deficiency in  acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that simulates the muscles during work. When consumed, mustard triggers the body to produce more  acetylcholine, due to it’s high acetic acid content.

Turmeric, which gives mustard it’s rich yellow hue, is thought to have beneficial properties as well. Often touted as an anti-inflammatory and a natural arthritis aid, turmeric is thought to reduce muscle stiffness and joint swelling.

Vinegar, found in prepared mustard, is another home remedy which is effective in  relieving muscle cramps. Just one packet of mustard contains the same amount of sodium as 8 oz. of Gatorade Endurance. The combination of vinegar, sodium and turmeric packs a big punch in supporting athlete’s quick nutritional needs.

If your artificially flavored sports gels and drinks aren’t cutting the mustard anymore, it might be time to try the real deal.

photo: Glasshouse Images

What We’re Buzzing About This Week

February 6, 2014

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It’s been a full week,and people across America are buzzing about the turn of events.

First up,the newly crowned winner of this season’s Biggest Loser dropped 155 pounds in just 14 weeks, triggering an outcry that she may have gone too far. At 5′ 4″, Rachel Frederickson weighs 105 pounds, just shy of a healthy BMI. While most professionals consider 1 to 2 pounds per week healthy and sustainable weight loss, Frederickson shed 1.5 pounds per day! Did she go too far?

Discussing the weather has moved from banal small talk to a hot topic. We have been bombarded by snow, extremely low temperatures and tornadoes, with no sign of it letting up. Is Mother Nature mad at us, or is all the buzz about global climate change really not just a political issue? Discuss.

Facebook is celebrating it’s 10th birthday by offering it’s loyal followers a personalized memory video. The cheesy retrospective, set to muzak, is based on your photos, most liked posts and profile pictures generated during your time on the social network.  It could move you to tears, make you cringe and at the very least lead you to re-evaluate what you share with the world.

Sports journalists are arriving in Sochi, Russia, in anticipation of the upcoming Olympics. What they are finding is accommodations that are well below sub-standard. Broken toilets, group toilets, and brown water are among the highlights of the hotel rooms they are staying in. One reporter found a large insect preserved for eternity in the packet of honey he opened at breakfast. Between the squalor and the terror threats, this is going to be an interesting Olympics. Let the games begin!

New York Fashion Week gets underway today, so again,  let the games begin!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

How Much Should I Eat?

January 24, 2014

January is the most popular month to start a diet and exercise regime, as many resolve to get in shape in the coming year.
While it may be widely known that cutting calories is the key to weight loss, most of us don’t know how many calories we need in the first place.

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Each of us has our own magic number: the number of calories our body needs just to exist. Even if you lay on the couch all day long, you need energy to keep your body functioning. That amount is called your basel metabolic rate, or BMR. This can be calculated using the Harris-Benedict equation for women:

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BMR= 655+ (4.35 x current weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years). By plugging in your height, weight and age, you will determine the total number of calories you need to exist. Next, multiply your BMR by your activity factor, as estimated below, to get the total number of calories needed per day.

Sedentary: minimal movement: multiply by 1.4

Minimal: office work or 1 hour of moderate activity per day: 1.5

Moderate: Light physical labor during the day, such as light housework, and an active lifestyle: 1.6

Very Active: Athlete, active military personnel, or heavy laborer: 1.9

This new number is amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight.
To lose weight, you need to eliminate calories through consuming less, and/or burning more through activity.

You need to eliminate 3500 calories to lose one pound. With a healthy goal of losing one pound per week, that means you must eliminate 500 calories per day. Most doctors and nutritionists caution against eating less than 1200 calories per day, to maintain good health.
It is a good idea to use a food and activity journal app to help accurately estimate the calories you are consuming, and how many you are burning through exe

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photos: Glasshouse Images


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