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After Dinner Snacks

So you had a nice healthy dinner, but a while later you are feeling hungry again. Here a few snacks that you can enjoy that won’t ruin all your hard work and healthy eating you did the rest of the day.

Coconut Mango Cream

 Coconut Mango CreamThis dish is super easy to make, which is always good when you are ready to just sit down and relax for the evening.
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Frozen Mango Chunks
  • 1/3 cup of Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Hemp Seed Hearts
  • 2 scoops of Protein Powder

Directions:
1. In a blender, add the frozen mango, coconut milk, hemp seeds and protein powder.
2. Blend until pudding consistency. Add water to get desired consistency, if needed.
3. Pour in a bowl and enjoy.

http://www.livestrong.com/recipes/coconut-mango-cream/


Oatmeal Peanut Butter Balls

http://www.nutritiouseats.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/PB-Balls-1-1.jpgLike me and so many others, we love a little sweetness at the end of the day. This is a great way to treat your sweet tooth, but still keep it somewhat healthy.

Ingredients:
-2/3 cup peanut butter
-1 cup quick cooking oats, uncooked
-1/4 cup pure maple syrup
 -2 full graham crackers, finely crushed
-1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir well with spoon. Once mixture starts coming together, use your hands to work the mixture until it’s all combined.

2. Divide peanut butter mixture with your hands into four equal sections, there will be three balls per section for a total of 12 balls. Spoon out a large Tablespoon and roll in hands to form a 1.5” ball. Place all peanut butter balls on a plate, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Store in refrigerator.

- To keep the peanut butter from sticking to your hands, spray your hands with cooking spray.

http://www.nutritiouseats.com/the-perfect-snack-oatmeal-peanut-butter-balls/


 Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Quinoa Polenta

http://media4.onsugar.com/files/2013/07/08/848/n/1922729/8a9db5395ecaf14c_quinoa-not-cooked.jpgHere is a great recipe for those who love pizza, but hate all the calories that come with it.  This one is even gluten free.
 
Ingredients:
1 tube of quinoa polenta
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
½ cup shredded mozzarella
3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped

Directions:
1. Pour the oil in a pan and heat on low.
2. Cut the polenta into 15 quarter-inch-thick slices
3. Place the polenta in the pan and cook each side until slightly golden brown, about 10 minutes each side.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
5. Place the polenta on foil on a cookie sheet. Top each piece with a slice of tomato. Sprinkle with cheese and fresh basil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Healthy-Late-Night-Snacks-Low-Calories-18872289#photo-18872311

 

Baked Kale Chips

Sometimes you just have a craving for some salty chips; here is a great alternative to those bagged potato chips.

 

Easy Baked Kale Chips Recipe #kale #healthy #fall #vegan #paleo Ingredients:
2 bunches of kale
2 heaping tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the kale and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Pull the leaves off the center ribs in large pieces, and pile on a baking sheet. Discard the ribs.
2. In a small bowl mix the nut butter, oil, spices, and salt.  Pour over the kale. Use your hands to massage the kale leaves until each one is evenly coated with the spice mixture. You don’t want any of the leaves to be drenched in the mixture, so take your time doing this. The more evenly the kale leaves are coated, the better they will bake.
3. Lay the kale leaves out flat on 3-4 full sized baking sheets (work in batches if necessary.) Do not overlap. Bake for 10-11 minutes until crisp, but still green. Cool for a few minutes on baking sheet before moving. If some kale chips are still a little flimsy or damp, remove the crisp chips and place the damp chips back in the oven for a few more minutes. Store in air-tight container.  

http://www.aspicyperspective.com/baked-kale-chips-recipe/

 

Flourless Fudge Cookies

Last but certainly not least are these yummy cookies.  Sweets are my biggest obstacle when it comes to being healthy, so to find this flourless version was amazing.
http://cf.ihearteating.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Flourless-Fudge-Cookies-600-wm.jpgIngredients:
3 cups powdered sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Spray mats with nonstick cooking spray. You can also line with parchment paper. 
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar with cocoa powder and salt.
4. Stir in the vanilla and egg whites.
5. Whisk just until the batter is moistened.
6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
7. Scoop the batter by the tablespoonful onto the baking sheets.  Leave enough space between each cookie for them to spread out.  (About 2 ½” of space between each cookie)
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked.
9. Let the cookies cook completely on the baking sheet, and store in an airtight container.

http://www.ihearteating.com/2012/06/03/flourless-fudge-cookies/


Don’t Just Sit There

The average American is only active for three hours a day. That means the other 21 hours are spent on sedentary behavior, which can have some troubling side effects including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The majority of us spend our work day sitting at a desk, which makes it harder for us to be active throughout the day. This epidemic is often referred to by medical professionals as “sitting disease.”

Risks

Sitting disease can lead to increased risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer. Dr. Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, says that sitting disease presents the same risk of heart attack as smoking.  In fact, a study done by Dr. David Alter found that participants who spent most of their time sitting were 24% more likely to die during the study.

If that doesn’t scare you, maybe this will: the negative effects of sitting all day cancel out the positive effects of regular exercise. That’s right, even working out can’t prevent sitting disease. The only way to avoid it is to quit sitting so much.

Prevention

Even though sitting disease can lead to some serious health problems, it’s easy to find ways to reduce the risks. If you cut your sitting time in half every day, it can add up to two years to your life expectancy. And there are plenty of ways to get out of your seat during the day.

The most obvious solution is to just stand up more. Standing burns 30% more calories than sitting. That might not seem like much, but it adds up when you spend hours every day at your desk. The American Medical Association recommends standing desks for people who normally sit all day. There are all kinds of standing desks on the market, so it’s not hard to find one that fits you and your budget. Wirk, Stamina’s new line of office fitness equipment, includes the Linea, a fully-adjustable stand-up workstation.

office

Even better than standing is walking. Park your car further away so you have a longer walk to the door. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Instead of sitting while you talk on the phone, get up and walk around. Don’t send an email to a co-worker when you can just walk to their office and tell them in person.

Still can’t manage to pull yourself away from your desk? Don’t worry, you have other options. Replace your desk chair with an exercise ball. Even though you’d still be sitting, you have to use your core to stay balanced and engage muscles you normally wouldn’t have to in a chair. If that doesn’t work for you, you can use more discreet office fitness equipment that fits right under your desk, like the Wirk Orbit Strider.

https://resources.staminaproducts.com/products/85-1000/85-1000.5.jpg

If you really want to up your activity level at work, you should check out a cycling workstation like the Wirk Ride. These are especially great for people who work at home. They let you pedal while you use your computer, going beyond just avoiding sedentary behavior and actually allowing you to get a workout in.

https://resources.staminaproducts.com/products/85-2221/85-2221.6.jpg

Sitting disease and its long-term effects are certainly scary. The good news is that it’s one of the easiest diseases to prevent! Just get out of your chair and on your feet.

Sources:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288333.php
http://www.juststand.org/
https://sitless.com/
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/do-you-have-sitting-disease?page=1
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/sitting-disease/bgp-20056238

 

Healthy Lunches to Bring to Work


Pomegranate and Pear Salad Recipe
Who doesn’t love a refreshing green salad for lunch? A great idea for packing a salad is to use a mason jar. How do you store all of those ingredients together and keep it from getting soggy?  Layering is your answer. Start with your dressing, this salad has simple sherry vinaigrette. Next add your grain, protein or anything else that is chunky (in this case add your pears). Then add your fixings (for this salad it will be pecans, pomegranate seeds and blue cheese). Last, but not least, add your greens.  
Pomegranate and Pear Salad | Fake Food Free
Salad
1 pear, cored and thinly sliced.
3 cups of spinach leaves, divided
½ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup roughly chopped pecans
2 ounces crumpled blue cheese
3 tablespoons Sherry Vinaigrette
1 quart-size Mason jar
Sherry Vinaigrette
2 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
Whisk Together the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking, until dressing thickens.

When you are ready for lunch, just open the jar and turn it over. The greens will be on the bottom and the dressing will be on top.
http://www.fakefoodfree.com/pomegranate-and-pear-salad-recipe-from-mason-jar-salads/

Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper and Olives
 If you need a little more than greens in your lunch, try out this recipe.  Not only is it tasty, but it will allow for less time waiting in line at the microwave and more time enjoying your lunch break.  
[itsausagepastasalad_kalynskitchen.jpg]Ingredients:
2-3 small zucchini, cut in fourths lengthwise.
4-5 turkey Italian Sausage links
1 can sliced black olives
1 jar (12 oz) roasted red bell peppers
½ cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup of bottled Italian Vinaigrette
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon dried basil.
Instructions:

  • Cut zucchini lengthwise into fourths, then cut into pieces about ¾ inch long. Cook zucchini about 5 minutes in boiling, salted water, then drain well and cool. While the zucchini cooks, wash fresh basil and chop finely. Mix fresh and dried basil into dressing.
  • Drain the zucchini well, then put zucchini into small Ziploc bag with about ¼ cup of the dressing and let it marinate on the counter until you are ready to assemble the salad.  1 to 2 hours would be best, but 20 minutes will be enough to get the flavor.
  • Sauté sausage in small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan until it is firm and nicely browned on all sides. Once cooked let cool and cut into slices about ½ inch thick.
  • Cook pasta until it is slightly al dente; you do not want to overcook your pasta. Rinse with cold water.
  • Drain olives, and red peppers. Cut peppers into bite-sized pieces. Once pasta has cooled mix pasta, sausage, olive and peppers. Add zucchini, remaining dressing and parmesan. Mix gently.
  • Chill for at least one hour.

http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2007/05/pasta-salad-recipe-with-italian-sausage.html


Rustic Pesto Tomato Tart
You will need to make this the night before, but it will be worth it. My cherry tomato plants are finally ripe, so what a perfect way to enjoy some fresh veggies from your garden. This lunch you can eat on for days or maybe bring some for your favorite co-worker. They will love you for it.  It’s best served warm and reheated in the oven, but for lunch just microwave it for a minute or two.
 easy tomato and Pesto tart recipeIngredients:
1 puff pastry sheet
2 tablespoons pesto
10 large cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Dash of olive oil
Directions:
-Pre-heat your oven to 390 degrees.
- Roll out your puff pastry on parchment paper and spread pesto over.
-Place halved cherry tomatoes and red bell pepper strips over pesto. If you’re feeling a little wild you could add zucchini, or crumbled tuna.
-Add a dash of olive oil, sprinkle with grated parmesan and bake for30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
http://www.eatwell101.com/rustic-tomato-tart-recipe

 

Rye Bread Madder with Cottage Cheese, Herbs and Vegetables

If you hit the snooze button one too many times, and need to get your lunch fixed fast before running out the door, this is a perfect quick fix for lunch.  The best thing is it’s so much healthier than having to grab fast food or going to the dreaded vending machine for food (that never ends well). This recipe is so easy there isn’t even measurement involved, just use as much as you want of each ingredient.
Cottage Cheese Madder
Ingredients:
Two slices of rye bread
Cottage Cheese
Chopped chives
Diced tomatoes
Diced cucumbers
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Mix cottage cheese, chives, tomatoes, cucumbers, salt and pepper to taste. Place in container. When you are ready for lunch just spread the mixture onto your two slices of rye bread and enjoy.

http://cooking-books.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/rye-bread-madder-with-cottage-cheese.html


Turkey-Brie Sandwich w/ Peaches and Arugula
This recipe had me at Turkey-Brie. We can’t have a list of lunch favorites without a good old sandwich and this is anything but your regular turkey sandwich, it’s got some sweet, spice and everything nice.  This one you will probably want to have everything separated and put it together during your lunch break to the bread and greens from getting too soggy.  

Turkey-Brie Sandwich with peaches, arugula, & spicy mayoIngredients:
1 ciabatta roll
3-4 turkey slices
2 whole (round) peach slices
4 slices of brie cheese
¾ cup Arugula
For Mayo
¼ cup mayo
1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce
¼ tablespoon of chili powder

Instructions:
-Slice ciabatta roll; top with turkey slices, peach slices, and brie cheese.
-Cook open face until cheese is melted.
-Top with arugula and spicy mayo.

http://www.lemontreedwelling.com/2014/07/turkey-brie-sandwich-wpeaches-arugula.html

 

Green Exercise: A Better Way to Work Out

As the weather warms up, you may want to consider cancelling your gym membership and moving your workouts to the great outdoors. “Green exercise,” or exercise done outside, has some pretty amazing health benefits, both physical and psychological.

A Better Workout

When you exercise outside, you don’t have the luxury of smooth, flat terrain. Running up and down hills will help you burn more calories and can’t be replicated on a treadmill. When you run on a treadmill, you aren’t getting the same benefits as running outside, since the machine is always doing a certain amount of the work. Since you have to do all the work when you run outside, you end up getting a better workout.

Wind resistance is another factor that makes green exercise a better option. In fact, it can increase your workload by 2-10% when running or biking. As your speed increases, so does the air resistance, making you work harder and leading to a more effective workout.

Having a variety of weight machines at your disposal in the gym might seem great, but when it comes to staying in shape, body weight exercises are just as effective. While exercise machines usually isolate the muscles you’re working out, body weight exercises tend to engage your entire body. You can even ramp up your green exercise regimen with some outdoor equipment. This equipment is built to weather the elements and can help you get the best outdoor workout possible.

Vitamin D

Our bodies need Vitamin D to help absorb calcium and maintain phosphorus levels. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia (softening of the bones), as well as kidney disease, lung disorders, diabetes, stomach and intestine problems, and heart disease.

Our bodies can’t produce Vitamin D naturally, which means we need to get it from other sources. The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. As little as 10 minutes of exposure to sunlight every day can be enough to prevent deficiency in adults.

Even better, getting out in the sun can help improve your mood. Some studies suggest that getting enough Vitamin D is the key to preventing seasonal depression.

A Better Mentality

Spending some time in nature can also have a positive effect on your psychological well-being. Being outside is relaxing and helps restore focus. In fact, moving your workout outdoors can reduce your rating of perceived exertion, meaning that you’ll be able to work out harder and longer without feeling like you’re doing more work.

Exercising outside is generally more enjoyable than working out inside. It adds variety to your workout and can help you have a better attitude about exercising. People are more likely to want to work out when they do it outside, as opposed to going to the gym. It’s even been found to increase self-esteem and reduce stress and mental fatigue.

Now that summer is quickly approaching, there’s no reason not to switch up your workout routine and enjoy the great outdoors. Your body and mind will thank you.

Sources:
http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/2046-7648-2-3.pdf
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacy-berman/outdoor-exercise_b_1423925.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204130607.htm
Focht, B. C. (2009). Brief walks in outdoor and laboratory environments: Effects on affective responses, enjoyment, and intentions to walk for exercise. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 80(3), 611-20.

 

Fuel for the Race

Pre-Race
Make sure you stick to something you know you like. It’s never a good idea to experiment with new foods on race day.
A great and easy pre-race meal is a smoothie.

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

Peanut Butter & Banana SmoothieIngredients
10 ounces skim milk or plain soy milk
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1 medium banana

Directions
In a blender, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.
Use 6 ice cubes for a thicker consistency.

*Some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation.  So I would add .5 tablespoon of chia or flax to this smoothie. This could help alleviate some post-race soreness.      

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipe/desserts/peanut-butter-banana-smoothie/

 

PB2 Protein Power Balls

PB2 Protein Power Balls These will take a little more work, but are easy to snack on anywhere.
Ingredients
1/3 cup PB2
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons agave (or honey)
½ cup of oats
½ cup of crisped rice
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
24 chocolate chips

Directions
1. In a small bowl mix together PB2, water, and agave and stir until combined.
2.  In a medium bowl, mix together oats, crisped rice, flaxseed meal, and protein powder.
3. Pour the PB2 mix in the dry ingredients and mix until combined evenly.  
4. Divide dough into 8 portions and roll into balls.
5. Stick 3 chocolate chips into each ball.
http://littlebitsof.com/2015/01/pb2-protein-power-balls/

During the Race
It will be important to keep your energy level up. Some mud runs will have water stations that also have bananas and other snacks, but you may need energy at other parts of the race. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a snack with you during the race.

PowerBar Mixed Berry Blast Energy Bar


https://www.powerbar.com/sites/powerbar.com/files/powerbar_bars_large_11_11_performance_mixed_berry_blast_0.png For a quick energy boost get a bar with maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a quickly digested carbohydrate that supplies the body with a lot of energy.  Power Bar’s Mixed Berry Blast Energy Bar is a great source for this. 

https://www.powerbar.com/Products/performance-energy-bar-mixed-berry-blast

Honey Stinger Honey Waffle

Organic Honey Waffle
For a more organic energy source, try a bar with honey. Honey is known to deliver fast and long-lasting fuel. It contains two types of carbs, which allows for an increase in the amount of energy your muscles can use and will help improve performance.   The Honey Stinger Honey Waffle may not be a bar, but it will still give you the energy you need to push through the rest of the race.  

http://www.honeystinger.com/organic-stinger-waffles/organic-honey-waffle.html

Post-Race
Congratulations on finishing the race! Your body has been through a lot, so it’s a good idea to give it the nutrients it craves. After the race your snack should follow the general rule of 4:1 carbohydrate: protein ratio. There are many great pre-made products that will help, but if you live close by, or have a cold place to store food, try one of these two snacks.

Berry Smoothie

4 Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss
Ingredients
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
½ cup water
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 scoop whey protein powder
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon of honey.
 

http://www.shape.com/blogs/weight-loss-diary/4-smoothie-recipes-weight-loss

Turkey and Swiss Sandwich
This sandwich is another quick and easy post-race snack that follows the 4:1 ratio.  You could also add a little cranberry sauce, it will add vitamin C which in known to assist in recovery after a hard run.
Media: Bagging It
 Ingredients
Lean Turkey
 Swiss Cheese
Leaf Lettuce
Tomato
Onion
Whole Wheat Bread

http://m.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/bagging-it?page=single




 

Train in the Elements: Preparing for a Mud Run      

Summer is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to get serious about training for that upcoming race. If you’re tired of the usual 5k’s and marathons and are looking for something more challenging and exciting, a mud run may be just what you’re looking for.

A mud run isn’t your typical race. Each one is different, but they all include a daunting combination of long-distance running and challenging obstacles. Training for a mud run is different than training for a 5k or a marathon. Not only should you build endurance by running regularly, but you also need to build strength and agility to get through each obstacle.

It’s not just about your physical endurance, though. Whether you’re preparing for a Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, or any other mud run, keep in mind that in addition to physical fitness, you must also build mental fitness.

Mental Fitness

They’re called mud runs for a reason. You won’t be running on a nice paved street, so it’s vital that your training not take place in ideal conditions either. You’ll be facing difficult, hilly terrain in a mud run, so train the same way. Training in similar conditions to the ones you’ll be facing is the best way to mentally prepare yourself.

If your race is in the summer, train outside in the heat. Run in the rain. Get dirty. Whatever you do, don’t confine yourself to running on a treadmill or lifting weights in a nice, air conditioned gym. It’s pointless to spend all that time getting into great shape if you’re just going to crumble when faced with the mental challenges that come with a mud run.
Many races stress camaraderie and teamwork. It’s important that you’re able to encourage your teammates and help each other through each obstacle. Training with your team or just with a friend is an excellent way to prepare for this part of the race. You can hold each other accountable, push each other to work harder, and keep everyone’s spirits up. Doing this will make the training process more enjoyable while helping you achieve more effective workouts.

running 3.jpg

Physical Fitness

Like any other race, endurance is vital to finishing a mud run. Races span anywhere from three to 26.2 miles, so once you know how long your race is, it’s easy to start training for that part. Run often, focusing less on distance and more on intervals. Mud runs involve a lot of starting and stopping between obstacles, so interval training is a great way to get your body accustomed to that.

The fun part of a mud run is the obstacles. Training for them can be tricky, though, because you obviously can’t build every obstacle in your backyard to practice on. You could train in a gym, but as mentioned earlier, that doesn’t do anything for your mental toughness. That’s why the best option is outdoor fitness equipment.

Outdoor equipment allows you to keep your entire workout outside, avoiding the gym and providing a complete workout regimen. Many of the obstacles you’ll face, like wall climbs, monkey bars, and rope climbs, require training that includes pull-ups, tricep dips, push-ups, and well-developed grip strength. Outdoor fitness equipment allows you to incorporate all of these into your workout routine without ever having to step foot in a gym.

Stamina’s Power Tower and Multi-Station are ideal for outdoor obstacle training. They have everything you need for a complete upper-body workout and are built with a solid steel frame that supports up to 300 pounds. This equipment is made specifically for use outdoors and is weather resistant. The innovative paint protects the equipment from UV rays, chips, and corrosion and gives it a vibrant color.
Using outdoor fitness equipment combined with a vigorous cardio routine, you can build the ideal training plan for any mud run. Keeping your workout outdoors simulates the conditions you’ll face on race day and helps strengthen both your body and your mind.




Tried and True Fitness: The Exercise Bike

There’s a reason exercise bikes have been around so long. Many people finding using an exercise bike much more enjoyable than running on a treadmill. Additionally, it’s easier on the joints, more convenient than going to the gym every day, and allows you to multi-task while you work out.

Cardio

Although it isn’t doesn’t burn calories as efficiently as running on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike still has plenty of cardiovascular benefits. Biking for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, can help strengthen your heart, lower high blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar.

It’s great for people who are just starting to improve their fitness and need something a little less intensive than jogging. Beginners can start out slow and increase their speed and resistance as they progress to increase the benefits of their workout. In addition, exercise bikes are easier on the joints and provide an excellent low-impact cardio workout.

Recumbent bikes are a type of stationary bike that allow the rider to sit in a reclined position while they exercise. This is perfect for rehabilitation or for people with back problems who would not be able to use a treadmill or an upright exercise bike.

Legs

Exercise bikes can also provide an effective lower-body workout. By adding resistance, you can strengthen your quadriceps and hamstrings while you get your cardio in. Combine a rigorous bike workout with upper-body and core exercises to complete your exercise regimen.

While adding resistance is a good way to strengthen your legs, you never want to add too much resistance, as this could lead to injury. Never increase the resistance so much that you can’t move the pedals anymore, and always use proper form when you’re using your exercise bike.

Convenience

The convenience of exercise bikes explains why they’ve stayed popular for so long. Unlike using a treadmill, you can read, work, or watch TV while you exercise on a stationary bike. Since you remain seated and don’t bounce nearly as much as when you run, you can multi-task while you work out.

Nowadays, many bikes have programmable features that can help you get the most out of your workouts. They can track your speed and resistance, the distance you’ve biked, heart rate, calories burned, and more. This is a great way to keep track of your progress and create a personalized workout routine.

Exercise bikes are perfect for at-home fitness because you can use them in all weather. They take up less space than most treadmills, and are easy to store when not in use.


Proper Use

While biking is a safe, low-impact exercise, it’s important to always use proper form in order to avoid injury. There are three important components to correct form on an upright bike: the seat’s height and position, your foot position on the pedals, and the handlebar height.

Before getting on the bike, stand next to it. The seat should be even with your hip. If it’s not, adjust it up or down. When you sit on the bike with your feet in the pedals, your knee should still have a slight bend at the bottom of the pedal’s rotation and never be locked. If your knee is locked, that means the seat is too high. If you’re using a recumbent bike, the same rule applies. Adjust the seat so that your knee has a slight bend when it is fully extended.

You may also need to adjust the seat’s position. When you’re on the bike, your knee should be directly above your foot and at a 90-degree angle at the top of the pedal’s rotation. If it’s out in front of your foot, you should slide the seat back.



Your foot position is also important. Keep your feet parallel to the ground while you pedal, with your toes flexed back toward your shin. Never point your toes.

Lastly, you should adjust the height of the handlebars to prevent shoulder, neck, and back injuries. Your handlebars should be a little higher than the seat so you aren’t hunched over.

If you follow these steps to ensure proper form and safety while using your exercise bike, you will get the most out of your workout.

 

Sources:

http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-bikes-a-low-stress-work-out
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/fitness-basics-exercise-bike-is-back
http://www.wellnesswatchersmd.com/exercise/articles/treadmill_bike.php
http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-bike-setup-and-precautions




 

Healthy Spring Recipes

 

Spring Salad with Mixed Berries, Candied Almonds & Honey Citrus Vinaigrette

 

 

Here is a great recipe with everything made from scratch. If you don’t have the time to make the almonds and vinaigrette, just make the salad of mixed greens, fresh raspberries and blueberries, and add your favorite store-bought vinaigrette and nuts.

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/03/19/spring-salad-with-mixed-berries-candied-almonds-honey-citrus-vinaigrette/  

 

Directions

For Candied Almonds:

1. Preheat oven to 300oF. Line a 13-by-18 inch sheet pan with aluminum foil. Pour on 3 tablespoons of melted butter and spread out so that the pan is evenly coated.

2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat 1 egg white (at room temperature) and 1 teaspoon water until stiff peaks just start to form. Blend in ¾ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Fold in almonds and spread mixture in a single layer onto prepared pan.

3. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring and flipping almonds every 10 to 15 minutes. Watch nuts very closely during the last 10 minutes of cooking time, removing them from oven sooner if they are getting too dark. Nuts will be done when they are mostly dry and golden brown.

4. Allow almonds to cool on pan until they are completely dry and crunchy, stirring occasionally to break them up. You can store them in an airtight container for two to three weeks.

 

For Honey Citrus Vinaigrette:

1. Add ¼ cup of orange juice, ¼ cup of honey, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of poppy seed to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until mixture is well blended.

 

For each salad:

1. Place your desired amount of mixed greens on a plate.

2. Arrange berries and candied almonds over top.

3. Drizzle with vinaigrette, to taste.

 

 Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

This salad would be perfect as a side dish for a spring BBQ.

 

http://www.abigmouthful.com/lemon-orzo-salad-with-asparagus-and-tomatoes/

       

Directions

1. Bring 2 large pots of water to boil. Add a big pinch of salt in each.

2. To one pot, add 1 bunch of fresh asparagus and blanch about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.

3. Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them green.

4. To second pot, add 12 oz. of orzo. Cook per package instructions. When tender, drain and place in a large bowl.

5. Add blanched asparagus and 1 pint of grape tomato halves.

6. Mix 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon zest and lemon juice from one lemon, 1 clove of minced garlic, salt and pepper (to taste) in a small bowl.

7. Stir sauce into orzo and vegetables.

8. Stir in 2 Tbs. of parsley and grated Parmigiano Regiiano.

7. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. 

Arugula Skirt Steak Salad with Caramelized Pears, Pecans, and Gorgonzola

 

If you need a little more substance out of your salad try this one.

This hearty salad has a great combination of sweet and Salty.

http://bakerbynature.com/arugula-skirt-steak-salad-with-caramelized-pears-pecans-and-gorgonzola/      

 

Directions

For Salad

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 Tbs. of olive oil to skillet.

2. Salt and pepper 1lb. skirt steak, and trim excess fat.

3. When oil begins to simmer, place 1lb. skirt steak in skillet and let it cook for 5 minutes. Turn it and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

4. Transfer meat to a large cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Prepare the rest of your ingredients while it’s resting.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add ¼ cup of light brown sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

6. Add 2 large pears that have been cored and cut into medium-sized chunks, stir, and then cook (stirring occasionally) for about  5 minutes, or just until the pears have released their juices and softened up.

7. With a slotted spoon (leaving behind as much sauce as possible) transfer the pears to a clean plate.

8. Add ¾ cup of chopped pecans to the same skillet the pears were cooked in (keeping the pear juices and caramel in the pan), and toss them in the caramel, cooking over medium heat for just 1-2 minutes.

9. Remove pan from heat and, working quickly, transfer pecans to a plate covered in wax or parchment paper.

10. By this time it has probably been ten minutes, so you can now slice the steak against the grain into 1” strips.

11. Scatter 4 cups of baby arugula onto a large serving dish or platter. Arrange steak strips across the top then add pears, pecans, and 4 ounces of crumbled gorgonzola cheese evenly around the platter.

 

For the Mustard Vinaigrette

1. Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon of sugar, 1/3 cup of Olive and salt and pepper to taste to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until mixture is well blended.

2. Drizzle vinaigrette on to salad, to taste.

         

  Pink & Green Fruit Salad

 

If you’re a fan of fruit salads you’re going to love this one.

http://prettyyummyfoods.com/pink-and-green-fruit-salad/

   

Directions

1. Dice up half a watermelon and put it into a large bowl.

2. Wash a bunch of green grapes, put those into the bowl.

3. Wash and slice up a container of strawberries, put those into the bowl.

4. Wash and dice up a couple of granny smith apples, about two or three, and put those into the bowl.

5. In a small sauce pan combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of white wine.

6. Whisk and boil this for about 5 minutes until all of your sugar is dissolved and it has thickened up a bit.

7. Let your syrup cool completely, and then pour it over your fruit.

8. Chop up a handful of fresh mint and stir it into your salad.

 


Healthy Road Trip Snacks

Eating healthy while you’re on the road can be tough, especially when there’s a convenient fast food restaurant at every exit. Instead, stay away from the greasy fast food and bring your own healthy options to snack on while you drive! We’ve found some quick, nutritious snacks to bring with you in the car that can be prepared in minutes and will help you avoid pigging out on junk food.




Frozen Yogurt Bites


http://www.justusfourblog.com/2012/04/pinterest-projects-frozen-yogurt-bites/

These are the perfect alternative to a messy ice cream cone! Put yogurt in a plastic bag, cut a hole in the corner and squeeze small circles on to a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes. They will melt fast so make sure you keep them in the cooler.


Celery and Peanut Butter in a Jar


http://homesweetroad.com/healthy-snacks-gluten-free

Fill the bottom of a jar with about an inch of peanut butter and add sticks of celery on top. Kids can just dip away and screw the lid on to prevent a mess when they’re all done. You could also do this with veggies and hummus.


Banana Peanut Butter Bites


http://www.eat-yourself-skinny.com/2013/01/post-workout-banana-bites.html

This is a convenient twist on the classic peanut butter and banana combo, and they couldn’t be easier to make. Just take two slices of banana and put a dab of peanut butter between them.

 


Trail Mix


http://thestir.cafemom.com/food_party/139205/5_easy_road_trip_snacks

Trail mix is one of the most versatile snacks and is perfect for those picky eaters. Take your kids’ favorite nuts, like almonds, cashews and pistachios, mix them all together with some dried fruit, and maybe even throw in a few chocolate chips. Allow the kids to make it to their own liking, but hopefully they won’t just make a bag of chocolate chips!



Zucchini Chips


http://thehealthyfamilyandhome.com/lemon-dill-zucchini-chips/

This crispy snack is much less salty than other chips and easy to make. All you need is a slicer, cut them super thin for extra crunchy chips, and then place them on a dehydrator. Try adding lemon juice, spices, or a dash of salt for extra flavor.



The next time you’re planning a big road trip, use these ideas to plan out healthy snacks ahead of time. By bringing good, nutritious food with you in the car, you’ll be far less likely to hit a drive-thru.




10 Ways to Stay Motivated

Setting a goal is easy. Sticking to it and keeping yourself motivated is the hard part. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to stay focused with just a little effort and creativity. Here are ten effective ways to spark your motivation and help you stay on the path to achieving your goals:

 

Tell your friends

If your friends and family know about your goal, they can help motivate you and provide helpful encouragement. Also, you’ll be more reluctant to give up if you know that you’ll disappoint your friends!



Find a role model

Find someone who’s already met the goal you’re working toward and use them as your motivation. Figure out how they got there, and ask them how they overcame their challenges. Seeing their success, or more importantly, the path they took to success, can inspire you to do the same. Whether it’s a pro athlete or your best friend, being able to see an embodiment of your end results reminds you that you can do it too!


Provide an incentive for yourself

Give yourself a reward for working toward your goal! For example, if your goal is to be more active, then only allow yourself to listen to the new episode of your favorite podcast if you’re on the treadmill. This is a great way to create positive reinforcement.

Find a partner

Everything is easier with a friend! Find someone who shares your goal and work together. On those days when you’re really having trouble staying motivated, it’s great to have someone there to give you that extra push. In addition, a partner can bring out your competitive side and give you the drive to keep going.


Make your progress tangible

Your goal may not always have tangible results, which are vital to keeping you motivated. When the process to achieving your goal is gradual, it’s harder to tell how much progress you’ve made. But with a little creativity, you can fix that! If you’re trying to lose weight, use two jars, one marked “Pounds to Lose,” and one marked “Pounds Lost.” If you’re trying to lose 20 pounds, fill the first jar with 20 marbles, and move a marble to the second jar for every pound you lose. This can help create a more visual representation of your goal and is extra helpful when you don’t feel like you’re seeing any results.


Visualize

It’s important that you always have the end goal in mind. Visualizing your results daily serves as a frequent reminder of what you’re working toward. Change your desktop wallpaper to a picture that represents your goal or keep a motivational quote on your car’s dashboard. Being able to keep the end in mind will help you see the big picture and keep working toward your goal.

Use someone else as motivation

You’re more likely to stick with your goal if you’re doing it for someone else. If you’re trying to quit smoking, do it because you want to set a good example for your kids instead of just for the personal benefits. You are more likely to stay motivated if their goal benefits someone they love.


Celebrate the little things

Every accomplishment matters on the path to meeting your goal! If you’re trying to eat better, then celebrate your first week without junk food. Reward yourself if you make significant progress toward your goal. It’s ok to be proud of yourself, even if you haven’t reached your goal yet. 


Forgive yourself

Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to acknowledge that you messed up and move on. Dwelling on your mistakes will only create a negative mindset and prevent you from achieving your goal. Instead of concentrating on the mistake you made yesterday, focus on what you’re going to do today to get back on track.

Stay positive

No matter what, it’s crucial that you view your goal as something positive. Don’t treat it like a chore, and only talk about it with a positive attitude. Even on bad days, you have the power to change your attitude and adjust your mood. 



Staying motivated is undoubtedly the hardest part of achieving a new goal. But following these tips will make the process much easier and help ensure your success!       






How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

 

Every year we make a New Year’s resolution, and every year we end up either forgetting about it or losing hope and convincing ourselves we can’t stick to it. Make this year different by following these tips to keeping your New Year’s resolution:

 

Be Reasonable

Don’t doom yourself from the start: make a New Year’s resolution that you can actually accomplish in a year. Biting off more than you can chew will only lead to a failed resolution, so make sure you decide to take on a challenge that is reasonable and achievable.

 

Aim for Something Positive

Instead of vowing to quit something or stop a certain behavior, try to put a positive spin on your resolution. For example, turn “quit eating junk food” into “eat more vegetables.” If your resolution seems negative, you’re less likely to want to do it. But a positive resolution puts you in the right mindset from the beginning.

 

Be Charitable

Put a generous twist on your resolution! If you want to get organized, clean out your closet and donate the clothes you don’t need to charity. If you’re trying to get in shape, participate in 5k’s that benefit causes you’re passionate about. No matter what you resolve to do, find a way to give back to those in need. You’ll not only help out your community, but you’ll also feel even more rewarded for sticking to your resolution.

 


Be Specific

            Your resolution should be something specific and measurable. Pin it down to one thing instead of something that’s too broad or vague. Something like “Drink more water” could be changed to “Drink eight glasses of water a day.” Don’t just resolve to lose weight. Ask yourself exactly how much you want to lose. Are you trying to fit into a smaller pant size or just be healthier in general? Being specific with your resolution allows you to have a distinct goal in mind. Unless you can clearly visualize what you want to change or achieve, you won’t know how to get there!



Set Milestones

Take it one step at a time. If your resolution is to run a marathon by the end of the year, but you’ve never run more than a mile, start small. If you try to tackle something huge from the start, you’ll be overwhelmed and give up. Instead, start with smaller goals and work up to your big one. For instance, run a 5k, then a 10k, then a half-marathon before taking on a whole marathon. Meeting these smaller goals will keep you motivated and also help you work toward your resolution.


Set Deadlines

A year can seem like a long time. If you find yourself thinking, "I've got a whole year. That's plenty of time!" then you'll keep procrastinating and never reach your goal. Set specific deadlines for each of your milestones that encourage you to get things done and not waste any time.


 Keep Track of Your Progress

By keeping careful track of your progress, you can visualize it as you go. Keep a calendar or a chart that tracks how far you’ve come since January 1. If you’re trying to lose weight, use a nutrition-tracking app to count calories, carbs, and protein for you. Take “before” and “after” pictures weekly or monthly to see your results throughout the whole year. Halfway through the year, look back at your progress so far and use that motivation to keep going.


Remind Yourself

Give yourself daily reminders so you can’t possibly forget about your resolution. A simple but effective way to do this is to change your computer’s log in password to an inspirational phrase that can serve as a reminder. For example, if your resolution is to get fit this year, your password could be “w0rkOutTod4y!” Since you have to enter your password numerous times every day, it will be impossible to forget your resolution.


Every new year comes with the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Take advantage of that opportunity this year by using these tips to keep your resolution. With a little determination and willpower, you can stick to it and accomplish what you set out to do on January 1!




Stamina Products Confirms AeroPilates Program Has Proven to Reduce Weight and Improve Health for Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome


Due to the unique Cardio Rebounder, AeroPilates Reformers allow a Pilates fitness program that, when combined with nutritional intervention, has been clinically proven to result in significant weight loss and improved health status for overweight or obese individuals at risk of Type II Diabetes and heart disease.


Stamina Products, Inc. today announced that company representatives have verified their AeroPilates Reformers remain the only line of residential Pilates equipment complete with the patented Cardio Rebounder, which combines cardiovascular exercise and Pilates training into one uniquely effective fitness program. As indicated in a clinical study published in the Journal of Fitness Research, the combination of an AeroPilates program and dietary modification can result in marked improvement in health and significant weight loss for individuals with metabolic syndrome.

The purpose of the clinical research involving AeroPilates was to explore the benefits and effects of Pilates, low-impact cardiovascular exercise and nutritional intervention for individuals whose obesity has progressed to metabolic syndrome—the clinical name for the group of risk factors that can lead to Type II Diabetes and heart disease. Led by Denver Center for Health & Sport Science Medical Program Director Neil Wolkodoff, PhD, the six-week study involved ten intervention subjects and four control subjects, all of whom met the criteria for metabolic syndrome and were verified as “previously sedentary subjects” prior to the the study. As Wolkodoff stated after first publishing the results, the “patients made significant improvements in physiological measures and health status” after just six weeks of a balanced calorie-deficit diet and the combined strength and aerobics fitness elements AeroPilates offers.

Statistically Significant Results with AeroPilates

Published as “The Physiological and Health Effects of a Pilates Program combined with Nutritional Intervention on Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome,” the study indicates the AeroPilates Reformer helped lead to statistically significant (p<.05) benefits for intervention subjects:

  • Total weight decreased by 16.1 pounds
  • Body fat decreased by 2.58%
  • BMI decreased by 2.5
  • Waist and hip measurements decreased by 3.65 inches and 2.33 inches respectively
  • Systolic blood pressure decreased by 10 millimeters
  • Muscular endurance increased by 19.7%
  • Blood markers improved, including decreased total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose levels, Homgebin A1 c, Plasmas Inhibitor Type 1 (PAI) and Leptin

Additional Compelling Indications from AeroPilates Study

The published Pilates Metabolic Syndrome Study results included several indications that AeroPilates is more efficient than similar forms of exercise. For example, the journal article stated that investigations with the intervention group “indicated that rebounding, or the trampoline-like jumping motion with the Pilates carriage was slightly better in energy expenditure per minute compared to elliptical, treadmill and recumbent cycling exercise at the same rate of perceived exertion.” Because that rate of energy output “is not found in other Pilates devices,” Wolkodoff theorized that it [the Cardio Rebounder] is “a factor in the physiological changes the subjects made in the short period of time.”

Wolkodoff also called attention to the importance of the results, given that the population being studied “has traditionally been resistant to weight loss.” Researchers appeared to be particularly encouraged because the amount of weight loss experienced “can reduce the risk of Type II Diabetes by 2/3.” With an estimated 30% of the U.S. population measuring as overweight or obese, embracing effective and comfortable exercise options is widely considered critical to fighting both Type II Diabetes and heart disease.

AeroPilates Co-Founder Marjolein Brugman, a renowned Pilates and fitness expert, notes that Wolkodoff’s findings reflect the evidence she has seen first hand during nearly ten years spent training clients with various AeroPilates Reformers: “Even clients who suffer through obesity and other debilitating issues can achieve noticeably better health and fitness through AeroPilates, because the complete, low-impact exercise program lets them burn calories, lose weight, get strong and become heart healthy—all while lying down, without hurting their joints.”

Brugman added that no matter how many times she sees it occur, “it is powerfully moving and inspirational to witness the transformation as people go from listless and often depressed to healthier, active and energetic.”

For more information on AeroPilates Reformers, the Cardio Rebounder or Wolkodoff’s research, contact Stamina Products at 417.889.7011 or by email at presscontact(at)staminaproducts.com.

Reference
1. Wolkodoff, N.E., Andrick, R., Lazarus, E., Braunstein, B., and Patch, T. “The Physiological and Health Effects of a Pilates Program combined With Nutritional Intervention on Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome.” Journal of Fitness Research. 2013; 2: 17-29.

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