These colorful small bits of fruit pack a big source of flavor and nutrition for us. Berries are tiny powerhouses. There are so many different reasons to eat berries. The number one reason, which you have probably heard before, is that berries are filled with antioxidants. We need and want antioxidants because they are protectors from disease. They include vitamins A, C, and E. Secondly, the beautiful color of berries come from flavonoids. We need and want flavonoids because they help ward off inflammation, cancer, and even heart disease. Finally, berries contain resveratrol, which also fight cancer, prevent inflammation, and prevent clogged arteries. Grapes are packed with resveratrol, so wine drinkers like to use this claim to warrant their drinking.
There are other reasons berries should be on your to-do list. Berries help make new neurons, in a process called neurogenesis. They also clear out the garbage in our brains. They help get rid of toxic proteins. Having too much of these proteins has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Research is seriously looking at the connection between berries and suppressing Alzheimer’s disease. Berries might even help with weight loss. These colorful fruits seems to be linked with a reduction in weight. Strawberries have been shown to lower cholesterol and help fight off heart disease and diabetes. Cranberries help type 2 diabetics stabilize their blood sugar levels. Compared to other types of fruits, berries do have more nutritional value because they are higher in fiber, complex carbohydrates and flavonoids. The different colors of the different berries mean they have different health benefits so it’s recommended to eat a variety. For example, blueberries contain anthocyanins which help with memory. Raspberries contain ellagic acid, which has anti-cancer properties. Goji berries have been linked to stress reduction, better athletic performance, better sleep, and weight loss. Acai berries might slow the aging process because of their high antioxidant content. Bilberries help with diabetes and improved vision. Strawberries contain high amounts of phenols which protect us from disease. Blackberries are very high in vitamins C and E. Cherries contain quercetin and ellagic acid which promote cell and tissue health.
Did you know that berries are very easy to grow? Add some color to your garden and to your diet. A few berries with breakfast, as a nice snack, as a topper for some of your dairy products or cereals, in a smoothie, or used in a recipe, are all great ways to incorporate this fruit into your daily routine. Don’t fall victim to eating too many, because of course they do contain sugar. Stick to a small handful or ½ cup. These tiny power houses get the job done with just a small dose.
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There are 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86400 seconds in one day. That is the same for every single human being. Feelings of being too busy, pressed for time, and in a rush, are felt my so many of us, more than we would like them to. Two people with the exact same work schedule might handle their time very differently. As a trainer, the excuse of time is far too overused. Here are 10 reasons why time can be either on your team or against you.
1. Your wake up and bed time. The morning doesn’t have to be so rushed if you woke up a little earlier. Feelings of exhaustion can fade when you get to bed at a decent time. Hitting snooze only makes the adrenaline rush and stress of getting ready quickly pile up.
2. Lack of organization leads to chaos. Can’t find you shirt, can’t find your keys, can’t find your phone…. all that search time is time waisted.
3. Budgeting your time. Prioritize what must be done followed by what can be further down on the list. Schedule wiggle room for traffic and red lights. Plan for what will take more time than others.
4. Trying to multi task can lead to chaos. The brain just isn’t ready for that. Plus, you feel overwhelmed and distracted by so many different agendas.
5. You want everything to happen fast. Well guess what, the line at Starbucks doesn’t allow cuts so you just have to wait like everyone else. Fast means rushed and rushed means stress and frustration.
6. Procrastination. Cramming too much into too little time is extremely stressful. Then time is the opponent you are trying to beat.
7. You don’t value your time. Being productive when no one else is watching is important too. Get ahead. Don’t let other people dictate you being late or you not meeting your priorities. Your time is valuable.
8. You have a now or never attitude. Sometimes the printer just doesn’t work. Sometimes the internet is slow. Don’t get angry, move on to the next task.
9. You opt for convenient. Well fast food will quickly lead to more trips to the doctor. Take time to cook, meal prep, and nourish your body.
10. Next time. Not today. But tomorrow keeps passing by. Time doesn’t stand still. Pretty soon it’s over and you don’t get it back. Don’t wait. Action defines time.
Can you relate?? Time passes and that is a certainty in life that never changes. Some days it flies and some days it lags, but it ticks the same and at the same rate no matter how we perceive it. What we do with our time has a lot to do with our personalities, careers, responsibilities, and interests. The excuse that we don’t have enough time feels like an attack when we are all given the same amount of time each day. Therefore, you are your time keeper so take ownership of what you do, how you use it, and who you spend it with.
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A common type of pain associated with the sciatic nerve affects may people, particularly in their low back and left leg areas. Sciatica usually affects this one side of the body starting at the low back, running through the thigh, and then all the way down the leg. It can even reach the toes. This pain can be a shooting sensation or tingly feeling. It becomes worse from sitting. Then when the person stands the pain is intensified. It feels best to just lie down or to be walking. This pain choses to either be constant or can be infrequent and come and go. It affects mostly middle-aged adults as it a condition that typically develops over time. It can get worse over time, so attention should be provided when this type of pain arises.
The root of the lower lumbar spine and lumbosacral spine can become irritated. This could be caused by a muscle spasm that took place in the glutes or the lower back. Being overweight, sleeping on a bad mattress, wearing high heels, and not regularly exercising can cause discomfort to the sciatic nerve. It can also be caused by lumbar spinal stenosis which occurs when the spinal canal becomes narrowed in the lower back. A herniated disc can cause this pain. This causes the nerve to be pinched. When the piriformis muscle is irritated, it can pinch the sciatic nerve. This is the muscle right under the buttocks. Spondylolithesis can cause this pain which occurs when one vertebrae slips over another one. Pregnancy can cause pressure to the sciatic nerve. Degenerative disc disease can also be a culprit which is when the discs are starting to breakdown and this wearing leaves less cushion between the vertebrae. Tobacco use can cause increased degeneration.
Most times sciatica will go away over time without surgery. Heat and ice can help the pain. Pain medications can be used to help with inflammation. This can also be done by having an epidural steroid injection. Other treatments include seeking the help of a chiropractor to adjust and manipulate the area to alleviate pressure on the nerve. Acupuncture can also be used. Massage can help too. Stretching, low impact aerobics, and resistance training to help the surrounding area, can all be used to improve sciatica. Physical therapy is another approach.
There are two types of surgery that can be done when the above options have been exhausted. A microdiscectomy can be done to remove the disc that is pinching the nerve. It has been known to be 90% effective for patients. Doctors only consider this approach if the sciatic pain has persisted for over 6 weeks and none of the alternative measures have worked. Lumbar laminectomy can be done when the pain is from lumbar spinal stenosis. In this case, the bone or disc removed that is pinching the nerve.
Living with pain can be difficult, depressing, and hinder your enjoyment of activities you once performed. Pain is your body speaking to you to seek help, so when that one side of the body is talking to you, don’t wait for it to get worse before you allow it to get better. Be proactive for your health, move your body for medicine, and aim to live comfortably in your body as pain free as possible.
We all have our vices. We all have habits we have hung onto forever that we are well aware need to be given up. Somehow along the way, time has flown by, life took over, and we cycle through the stages of giving up our vices then slipping back into our old ways. You can’t deny, “Old habits die hard”. Maybe understanding the implications of these habits on weight gain will be an eye-opening deterrent. So let’s take a look at how smoking cigarettes, alcohol consumption, and drinking soda, can impact our fitness journeys.
A popular idea is that cigarette smoking helps control body weight. For example, cigarette advertisements from the 1930s suggested that women should, “Reach for a cigarette instead of a sweet” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195407/). Furthermore, “Young adults who are trying to lose weight are 40% more likely to smoke cigarettes. Because smoking is often thought of as a way to control appetite and weight, quitting smoking means the absence of this control strategy” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195407). Rather than eat, one might have a cigarette. I read, “Tobacco companies modified cigarettes to give them appetite suppressant qualities as late as 1999, revealed a 2010 study by Swiss researchers, published in the European Journal of Public Health” (http://www.livestrong.com/article/515745-cigarettes-weight-loss/). The fear of weight gain after quitting is why most smokers don’t want to stop, regardless of all the other health consequences smoking causes. Nicotine does speed up your metabolic rate, so quitting would affect this. However, from an exercise stand point, nicotine does affect your cardiovascular performance and output. Therefore, you are not able to perform at your best. The “smokers cough” impairs one’s ability to really step out of their comfort zone and challenge their cardio. As a personal trainer who believes in lifestyle changes that last, smoking is a habit that over time most clients like to eliminate as they start to see and feel the changes in their body towards a healthier self. But let’s not forget the other side effects of smoking that could also impact overall health such as lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and COPD.
Alcohol is a very popular part of our culture and is a social activity many take part in. Alcohol does have an impact on our body composition. Simply put, “Unlike macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, alcohol supplies what nutritionists often refer to as empty calories: calories without nutrition. To make matters worse, it is the first fuel to be used when combined with carbohydrates, fats and proteins, postponing the fat-burning process and contributing to greater fat storage” (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson194.htm). Alcohol has twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein. And of course when our state of mind changes from alcohol, our decision making is impaired and well…. now the entire bowl of tortillas chips is gone or as us southern Californians tend to do – stop and get a carne asada burrito since it’s late and we are intoxicated. Other research goes on to say, “ Further, studies show that alcohol temporarily inhibits “lipid oxidation”— in other words, when alcohol is in your system, it’s harder for your body to burn fat that’s already there. Since eating fat is the most metabolically efficient way to put fat on your body—you actually use a small amount of calories when you turn excess carbs and protein into body fat, but excess fat slips right into your saddlebags, no costume change necessary—hypothetically speaking, following a high-fat, high-alcohol diet would be the easiest way to put on weight” (http://www.elle.com/beauty/health-fitness/advice/a2451/alcohol-calories-does-drinking-cause-weight-gain-410239/). Everything in moderation as they say.
Ok, I know an ice cold soda tastes amazing and totally quenches your thirst, but those few moments on the lips aren’t worth the resulting effects on your waistline. A study by the American Geriatrics Society found that, “People who drank diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda” (http://time.com/3746047/diet-soda-bad-belly-fat/). Extra pounds in the midsection has health consequences: “The kind that pads the abs from the inside, called visceral fat, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease, inflammation and Type 2 diabetes” (http://time.com/3746047/diet-soda-bad-belly-fat/). A lot of people are misled by the low calories these drinks contain, not taking into consideration the artificial sweeteners and chemicals that add taste.
The answer: We have to decide to choose the lesser of two evils. In the long run, the initial weight gain that could occur after quitting smoking, far “outweighs” the long term health consequences. And when one decides to adopt a healthy lifestyle, these pounds will disappear over time with the changes. If we are able to have the self-control and drink on occasion, we are can find a balance with the caloric intake that alcohol adds to our day. Limiting alcohol to weekends is a common tool for this. Finally, I don’t have anything positive to say about soda haha. Just let that one go. SMALL changes ARE changes; so start by cutting back and taking it one day at a time. Better yet, go exercise to distract yourself from wanting to smoke, drink, or have a soda.