The Importance of Flexibility

The Importance of Flexibility

Flexibility is the third pillar of fitness next to cardiovascular conditioning and strength training.

Common behaviors like hunching over a computer can shorten muscles, along with the natural loss of elasticity that occurs with aging.

When you stretch a muscle, you lengthen the tendons, or muscle fibers that attach it to the bone.  The longer these fibers are, the more you can increase the muscle in size when you do your strength training.  Therefore lack of flexibility can limit your overall muscle strength.

Flexibility can help your body reach its optimum fitness level, prevent injury, and help prevent arthritis and more serious illnesses like diabetes and kidney disease by improving your circulation and increasing your blood flow to muscles.  So be good to your body and yourself, and stretch!

Watch For Too Much Sugar!!!

We get so many questions on sugar but we hate to make sweeping assumptions that one food or substance is the root of all evil!  I usually leave the nutrition talking to Tiffany, our weight loss director, however, you can’t watch the news or read a fitness or health magazine and think that sugar isn’t at least contributing to America’s Obesity epidemic!  So, let’s take a look!

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To clear this up a bit let’s look at some science!  Blood Sugar is a sticky substance that coats the red blood cells. If left in the bloodstream (instead of being burned as energy) the particles will start to stick to the cells interfering with blood circulation. Naturally occurring sugars are broken down and used for energy. However too much  “added sugar” can lead to:

Suppression of your immune system: Free radicals can cause a lot of damage in healthy cells and lead to many illnesses of the body. Research has shown that white blood cells are less efficient at fighting illness when exposed to sugar.

Diabetes/ High blood pressure: Due to the interfered blood circulation this causes high blood pressure (forcing the blood through the body at above normal levels of pressure). Your body will also become less efficient at regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels due to spikes and drops in insulin release. These conditions can lead to: heart attack, stroke, eye conditions, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

Excess Weight:  Sugar in the blood that is too much for the body to consume completely is stored as fat. Too much fat in the body can lead to obesity, and obesity is known to trigger diabetes and heart disease.

Wrinkled skin/aging: Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and other white flour products are high in sugar and will cause an inflammation of the skin. This in turn creates high levels of free radicals which attack the collagen that keeps the skin stay firm. Without enough of this collagen, you will start to notice wrinkles. When we eat too much sugar, the process called glaciation can occur. When this happens, some of the sugar we consume sticks to the proteins in our body, causing our body tissues to lose their elasticity. It is not just our skin that is affected, but also our internal organs. The faster that the body loses its elasticity, the faster aging occurs.

Attached is a great handout we use at Ellipse to help clear up some of the questions on sugar. (Click this link to download attachment)  I think the most important thing to watch is ADDED sugar, like in soda or juice.  Naturally occurring sugars in fruits, etc wouldn’t get such a bad wrap if we were controlling our consumption in other areas!  Let me know if you agree, or what you do to regulate the added sugars in your diet!

I’m not sure how scientific this picture is, as I saw it on Facebook, BUT—it does make you think of a FEW ways to cut back on the white stuff!

Sources for Blog:

 

Summer Chicken Saute From Ellipse Fitness

Summer Chicken Saute

2 Cups Fresh Green Beans, cut into 2” long pieces

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Lb. Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves, cut into 1” pieces

1 Tbsp. Oregano, chopped

2 Cups Sliced Yellow Summer Squash (or Zucchini)

1 Can (15 oz.) Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

¼ Cup Reduced- sodium Chicken Broth

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1 Tbsp. Basil, chopped

¼ Tsp. Kosher Salt

¼ Tsp. Black Pepper

 

Directions:  In a covered medium saucepan, cook green beans in a small amount of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Drain; submerge beans in enough ice water to cover and let stand to cool.  Drain again and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a very large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  In a large bowl, toss chicken with oregano.  Add chicken to hot oil in skillet; cook for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink.  Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Add squash to skillet; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken, green beans, cannellini beans, chicken broth, and garlic.  Bring to boiling.  Add tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper.  Cook about 1 minute or until heated through.

Serves:  4

Exchanges:  3 Extra Lean Protein, 1 Vegetable, 1 Fat, 1 Carb

Almond Strawberry Salad from Ellipse Fitness

Tip:  Kraft Reduced Fat Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad dressing makes a terrific dressing for this colorful salad!

 

Almond Strawberry Salad

3     Cups Fresh Baby Spinach

1/2 Cup Fresh Strawberries, sliced

1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds

1     Tbsp. Cider Vinegar

1     Tbsp. Honey

1     Packet Stevia

 

Directions:  In a large serving dish, combine the spinach, strawberries, and almonds.  In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, honey, & Stevia; shake well.  Drizzle over salad and toss to coat.

Serves:  4

Exchanges:  1 Carb, 1 Vegetable, 1 Fat

 

 

Muscle Weighs More Than Fat?

I can’t tell you how many times over the past 9.5 years I’ve heard this statement. 🙂

Let’s clear this up.

Muscle DOES NOT weigh more than fat.  5 lbs is 5 lbs.

The amount of space and the function they serve in your body is different.  When a person loses 5 pounds of fat and gains 5 pounds of muscle, that darn number on the scale doesn’t budge.  Don’t be disappointed!  You’ve increased your metabolism, you’ve probably adjusted your belt loop by about one notch and you’ve even decreased your risk of heart disease!

5 pounds of bricks and 5 pounds of cotton balls, both weigh 5 pounds.

Please don’t let the scale dictate your happiness.  Granted, it’s one tool we use to see if we’re getting the results of our labors.  And the scale helps us to determine if we’re gaining musculature when we do a body fat analysis!  However, your pant size, how your clothes fit and the strength you’re feeling in daily life are a much better indicator of a great result from your effort!

Continue your journey, step on the scale a little less and rely on your clothes a little more, you’ll be a happier person.  AND—they say happy people have a higher metabolism! YEAH!  🙂

Avocado Salsa from Ellipse Fitness

Tip:  This recipe is perfect to take to a party and serve with whole wheat pita chips.  It will give you a guilt-free option to snack on vs. eating guacamole that is loaded with fat and calories!

Avocado Salsa

1      Medium California Avocado, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped

1      Small Tomato, finely chopped

1/4  Red Onion, finely chopped

1      Clove Garlic, minced

1      Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Juice of 1 Large Lime

1/4   Tsp. Ground Cumin

1/4   Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

Directions:  In a large bowl, combine the avocado, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and pepper. Lightly toss. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Serves:  4

Exchanges:  1 Vegetable, 1 Fat