Five Stretches You Shouldn’t Live Without!

Five Stretches You Shouldn’t Live Without!

…and sometimes – it is that simple!

Flexibility and “warming up” are two of the most highly underrated fitness principles around. Sure, many people warm up before an intense workout, but what about the rest of your day? As soon as you wake up – what has your body been doing for the last several hours? Lying still.

As soon as you step foot out of bed you begin placing demands on your body to lift, bend, and hustle around to keep up with your day. Start your day with a bit of injury prevention and increased blood flow, and you might be amazed at how it makes you feel.

Start from the ground up!

Plantar Fasciitis and other foot issues can make stepping out of bed painful or challenging due to the foot being in a pointed position through much of the night. Try flexing the foot up towards you and holding for 20 seconds 3-5x/foot. This can be done by sitting on floor and using a towel to pull the upper foot toward you. Or sit on your heels with shins and feet flexed under you. Sit back on your heels for the same amount of time. If you have a step nearby, you can also let your heels hang off of it like you would a calf stretch. All these movements bring your toes closer to your shin in a flexed position, stretching the foot fascia, and helping you get ready for the day!

The World’s Greatest Stretch??

We didn’t name it, but with a name like that it has some serious expectations to live up to, and it does a decent job! This awakens all the major muscle of the body. Hold each position for a few seconds and perform 3 movement patterns per side. This stretch is great to utilize throughout the day since it also stretches out the main muscles affected by sitting for long periods of time!

Watch the video to see what the buzz is about!

Wake up your spine!

The Cat/Cow Stretch can help relieve tension in your spine, morning or night, by opening it up and decompressing vertebrae. Set up in a quadruped position (all-fours: wrists under shoulders, knees under hips) and inhale while gently moving the chest/belly toward the floor so the spine is in extension. Exhale as you press into your hands, tuck the tailbone under, pull the chin toward the chest and round the back upward allowing the shoulder blades to move apart. Perform 10 reps or as many as you have time for.

You’ve got a litte tension in the those shoulders…

Wake up the spine and shoulders in the morning by simply standing and standing tall & reaching the arms overhead as if trying to reach the ceiling. Then work into a reverse shoulder stretch – clasping the arms behind you and lifting hands gently toward the ceiling near your edge and hold for 20 seconds.

Get off my back already!

Several statistical analyses have put the number of Americans suffering from chronic back pain above 10%. Our spine is the root of basically all movement, so we are driving home the importance of maintaining mobility and joint health in your back!

The Cobra stretch awakens the body with full extension of the spine, neck, shoulders, and chest. Lay on the floor, belly down. Place your hands under your shoulders, press into the floor, and lift the chest. Keep the abdominal muscles turned on, and draw the inner thighs towards each other to avoid hinging at the low back.

Watch the video for a demonstration!

Instant Gratification in the Kitchen!

Maybe one of the trendiest gifts last year was The Instant Pot!

Did you receive one and feel intimidated to get started? Have you been looking at these things wondering whether you should add another gadget to your kitchen? Well this week, we’ve got some tips and recipes that might just have you falling in love with it!

Why make the switch?

“But I love my crock pot!” Well, maybe the most important reason is the difference between cooking with pressure vs conventional methods.

Pressure-cooking retains much more of the nutrients from your food! Boiling only retains around 40-75% of nutrients vs 90-95% with pressure! The higher the temperature and cooking time, the more nutrients are lost.

Still not convinced? Pressure cooking also reduces cooking times, reduces energy costs of cooking and makes cleanup easier! With this tool, whether you can stand the heat or not – you won’t need to spend all day in the kitchen.

No Soak Chickpeas!

If you’ve ever made beans from dry, the time it takes from soak to complete can be more than you want to take on vs just resorting to buying in cans. Chickpeas seem to be especially challenging to get right. These Instant Pot beans will change your mind! Check it out:

Rinse and drain 1# pound bag of dry chickpeas and toss in Instant Pot. “Pressure Cooker” setting on HIGH and adjust to 35 minutes. Naturally release pressure for 15 minutes and then quick release the rest. Voila! Refrigerate or flash freeze any extras.

Hard Boiled Eggs!

Now admittedly – hard boiled eggs aren’t all that hear, so why have we included them on this list? Have you ever had a hard time peeling eggs when their fresh? The Instant Pot has you covered! Toss 1 cup of cold water in the pot. Place eggs (however many fit comfortably) on the trivet in your pot. Set to “Pressure Cook” on HIGH for 8 minutes. Quick release your pressure and submerge eggs in cold water. Enjoy easy to peel hard boiled eggs in a hurry!

Whole Chicken??

Oh it’s fast…Save yourself a trip to the store, a few dollars and a whole mess of sodium by cooking up a juicy, tender chicken in about 30 minutes!

Place 2 cups of water, 1 medium onion, 2 large carrots, 4-5 cloves of garlic, and 3 stalks of celery chopped in the Instant Pot. Add the trivet. Separate the skin on the breast of the chicken and shove in some salt, thyme, and oregano. Place the chicken breast down on the trivet. Set the pot pressure to “Meat or Poultry” and set time to 25 minutes. Naturally release the pressure and the chicken falls right off the bone!
*(Note, the bigger the chicken the more time this takes to come to and down from pressure. You may need to allow for up to 1.25 hrs of pot time to be safe)*

Chicken Stock/Bone Broth!

Health gurus everywhere are raving about bone broth these days, and for good reason. Google “health benefits of bone broth” and you might be surprised – there are a lot!
It’s good for digestion, hair, skin, nails, liver, and more! Chicken stock can be intimidating to think about if you’ve never done it, but really it is simple.

Grab your chicken carcass from yesterday’s whole chicken and some assorted veggies like onion, carrots, celery, and fresh herbs (these veggies can be the left-overs from other choppings including leaves, skins, etc.). Toss it all in your pot with 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp salt. Add water until your pot is filled 2/3 of the way. Select “Soup” set the pressure to “Low” and time to “120”. Let the pressure come down naturally and strain the liquid. Done! And that is a tiny fraction of time it takes on the stove-top.

Chuck Roast In A Flash!

Place a 3-4 pound roast in your instant pot and cover with 5 wedged potatoes, 1 small bag of baby carrots, 2 quartered medium onions, and 2 cups of water combined with 3-4 beef bouillon cubes.
Place the lid on your pot and set on Pressure Cook (normal pressure) and set time to “60”; letting the pressure naturally release after. Prep for about 90 minutes of “pot” time, and you’ve got a wholesome meal that couldn’t be easier!

Hypoallergenic Ingredient for Face, Hair, Skin and more!

You may or may not have noticed the presence of “glycerin” or “vegetable glycerin” in all sorts of products you use from protein bars to skin care products. But what is it?

Vegetable Glycerin
is produced from vegetable oil and is odorless, colorless, contains no animal products and is hypoallergenic! Vegetable glycerin can be used in cosmetics, body products, as well as food.

You can find 100% pure vegetable glycerin at some natural food stores, general stores or online. Look for “USP” to be food grade.

Vegetable Glycerin is in many body products because it attracts moisture, thus hydrating it, softening it and lubricating the skin. For its most basic use, massage a few drops of vegetable glycerin on dry skin as needed.

Exfoliating/Moisturizing Face Wash!

Mix 2 T glycerin, 3 T honey, ½ C green tea, and a few drops of lavender oil. Mix in a blender and store in a sealed container – voila! Quick and easy face wash that’s great for your skin!

Skin Care for Eczema!

Not only does vegetable glycerin hydrate but it also has antibacterial properties. Using a typical store product that contains it as just one of many ingredients will not have the same effect.

Dry, Brittle Hair?

Used on hair, with a carrier oil like coconut oil, glycerin can alleviate irritation plus it strengthens the hair and makes breakage and split ends less likely.

Invigorating Foot Moisturizer!

Soften and freshen your feet by massaging them with 1 oz carrier oil (like coconut oil), ½ oz glycerin, and 5 drops of lemon, tea tree, and eucalyptus oil.

Glycerin is used to keep foods moist and helps mix oil/water ingredients, is a natural preservative, and sweetens food! Glycerin does have more calories than sugar, but it has a low glycemic index which means it does not cause the insulin spike which is why it is found in numerous protein bars.

Here’s how you can make your own!

Easy Protein Bar Recipe!

Combine granola, whey protein, oil of your choice, food grade glycerin and water. Roll into to ½” thick, or less, and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. That’s it!

Play around with different ratios for different nutrient make-ups and bar consistency

The Year of YES!

Maybe 2018 should be deemed The Year of YES!

I think we have all had those days …

  • I walked by the dog the other day thinking I should take her for a quick walk, but I kept going to the couch. Have you ever done this too? I wonder if my tail would wag as happily as my dogs’ at the invitation to go on a walk.
  • My kids wanted to go to the park, but I tried to talk them out of it. I don’t want to just sit there when I could be getting things done.  They talked me into it anyway.  They wanted me to play with them.  I was tired so I sat on the bench and waited mindlessly scrolling on my phone.
  • The kids are glued to their iPhone or iPad so often that I can hardly get their attention. Suddenly I have two notifications pop up on my phone and immediately log in to check.  I’ve read about having technology blackout times to refocus on important things in my life.
  • I have friends that are always inviting me to one run or another. Most recently it was a mud run.  I was afraid I would make a fool out of myself, having them wait for me or even hurting myself.
  • My significant other comes home and asks almost nightly if I want to go for a walk. I’ve turned them down citing a long day, rain, cold, smog…
  • I turned down my neighbors invite to come over to swim in their pool because I was worried that I would actually have to show up in a swimsuit.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’m alone here.  All these scenarios can be and are often very real.  What if we said yes just a little more often?

Fitness isn’t some crazy lifestyle requiring hundreds of hours in a gym, extremes in food or special equipment that costs thousands of dollars.

Fitness is a hundred simple choices a day that we have to make anyway.  Walk the dog or kick back on the couch? Throw the ball around with the kids or scroll a small screen?

Eat an apple or eat a cookie? Drop into the gym a few times per weeks with a friend or make an excuse not to go?

The foundation of fitness can be easy. We simply do the stuff we have to do anyway everyday a little differently.  We have to eat, so let’s eat some good food instead of pulling through that drive-thru on the way home.

The kids will do what we do. If we move, they move. If we sit, they sit.  Let’s set the tone for an active life that will propel them into adulthood.

Simple walks a few times a week with our spouses can at least give us time to communicate uninterrupted or at its best assist us in earning a few more quality years together.

Fitness can be easy. Just move every day until you can’t.

And if you move every day you will most likely have many more days in your life to spend with your loved ones and to do that “when I retire”.

Let’s make 2018 the year of YES!  SURE!  I’M IN!

Spice Up Your Life With What You’ve Already Got!

It happens often, we’re ready to throw a quick dinner together and DOH! We’re out of this spice blend or packet. Most mixtures you can make yourself! Worst case scenario, do a quick google search and improvise. Let’s go over some of the most common blends. Feel free to print and keep handy in your pantry!

Scroll to the bottom for some super quick and easy recipes to try these out on!

DIY Italian Seasoning:

– 1/4 C Basil
– 2 T Thyme
– 2 T Marjoram
– 2 T Rosemary
– 2 T Oregano
– 2 T Coriander
– 2 t Garlic Powder

DIY Taco Seasoning:

– 1/4 C Chili Powder
– 1/4 C Cumin
– 1/4 C Sea Salt (Optional)
– 1 T Garlic Powder
– 1 T Onion Powder
– 2 t Paprika
– 1 t Oregano
– 1 t Black Pepper

DIY Ranch Seasoning:

– 1/2 C Parsley
– 4 T Onion Flakes
– 1 t Paprika
– 1 t Garlic Powder
– 1 t Onion Powder
– 1/2 t Cayenne Pepper (Optional)

DIY Fajita Seasoning:

– 1/4 C Chili Powder
– 2 T Sea Salt
– 2 T Paprika
– 1 T Onion Powder
– 1 T Garlic Powder
– 1 T Cumin
– 1 t Cayenne Pepper (Optional)
*use about 2 – 3 t per pound of meat

DIY Chili Seasoning:

– 1/2 C Chili Powder
– 1/4 C Garlic Powder
– 1/4 C Oregano
– 1/4 C Cumin
– 3 T Onion Powder
– 2 T Paprika
– 1 T Thyme
*1/4 C of mixture = 1 packet

DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice:

– 3 T Cinnamon
– 2 t Ginger
– 2 t Nutmeg
– 1 1/2 t Allspice
– 1 1/2 t Clove

RECIPES

Quick Taco Salad

• Brown 1lb ground turkey
• Add your taco seasoning with ¼ c water, bring to a boil and then simmer until the water is absorbed.
• Serve over a bed of lettuce greens, tomatoes, ¼ cup cold or cooked black beans, and topped with cubed avocado.

PROTEIN Ranch Dip

• 1 T Ranch Seasoning
• 1/2 C Cottage Cheese
• 2 T Plain Greek Yogurt
• 1 1/2 T Unsweetened Almond Milk

Ranch Dressing

• 1 T Ranch Seasoning
• 1/3 C Plain Greek Yogurt
• 1/4 C Coconut Milk

Quick Fajita Dinner

• Toss 2 C cooked brown rice with 1-2 tsp fajita seasoning and ½ C salsa.
• Sauté 1 lb roasted chicken, 1 small sliced onion, and 1 sliced bell pepper (and salt as desired) for 4-5 minutes.
• Serve chicken/veg mixture over rice mixture.

Precision Nutrition’s “Chili in a Flash”

• Brown 1 lb lean ground beef with 1/2 a chopped onion until cooked through.
• Add 1 chopped yellow bell pepper and 1 can drained kidney beans for 1-2 minutes.
• Add 1 C V8 spicy hot vegetable juice, 1/2 C raw cashews, and 1/4 C Chili Seasoning.
• Bring to a boil then simmer.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

• 1 frozen banana
• 1/2 cup Vanilla Greek yogurt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/2 cup skim milk
• 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
• 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
• 1 cup ice

Add the ingredients in this order, blending along the way.

Check out the full recipe here!