Basics

5 Reasons to Get Fit THIS FALL!

Let’s be honest, there’s always a million and one reasons to get in shape, but this week we’ve got 5 major reasons to get fit THIS Fall!

1. Fighting the Winter Flu

Are you one to catch that winter cold? Is this then your excuse to not stay active when it gets cold? Exercising in cooler temperatures helps strengthen your immune system and decreases your chances of getting a cold during the wintertime. The cells in your immune system will love you for that and better fight off all bacteria!

2. Beauty of Autumn

Even though temperatures are dropping, it is also such a beautiful time of the year! Don’t waste these days sitting around and doing nothing. Enjoy that beautiful autumn weather by going for a walk or run. Maybe even take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing!

3. Resist Fall Comfort Food

Turkey, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate…there are many unhealthy temptations during this time of year. However, if you stay active this season, your body will start to naturally crave healthier foods. Resist excuses. Resist temptations. Await results!

4. Make Use of an Empty Schedule

Did you have a busy summer and no time to work out? Then this is one less excuse you can use. Make the most of your time by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Invest time on your fitness now, and avoid Spring/Summer regret!

5. Get a Head Start on your New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show it takes about 4 weeks for the body to adapt to new lifestyle changes. If you start your workout routine now, you’ll not only be one step ahead of your New Year’s resolutions but also more likely to meet them.

Have a Fit Fall by building your immune system, health, and nutrition by being consistent in your workouts and sleep schedule, getting outdoors, using the extra “indoor” time to cook/prep, and ultimately setting yourself up for a strong start in the new year!

What You Need To Know About Your Muscles

MUSCLES!

You have 642 of them, you use them every day, but what do you really know about them? Knowledge is power if every aspect of life and training is no different – read on!

Opposing Muscle Groups

When talking about muscles sometimes it is easiest to think of a really simple one for starters, so let’s begin with those biceps being shown off up above! When you bend your arm, your bicep contracts and your tricep does the opposite (elongates) in order to let your elbow bend.

These are called “opposing muscle groups”. Our workouts need to cover all aspects of muscle training from the composition of muscle to how they perform.

Muscle Fibers

Muscle fibers are long and cylindrical; only about the size of a strand of hair! These fibers determine how much weight you can lift and for how many reps (think a bunch of hairs tied in a ponytail make up what a muscle looks and acts like).

There are two types of muscle fibers:

Slow Twitch

Slow twitch fibers are used for aerobic exercise and are very resistant to fatigue and are good for things such as longer distance running. The downside is, they don’t move very quickly (like if you suddenly need to sprint to the finish line). You train slow twitch fibers with higher repetitions, at a slower tempo, and with short rest times.

Fast Twitch

Unlike slow twitch muscle fibers, fast twitch fire very quickly but also fatigue quickly. Fast twitch fibers are used for things like sprints and heavy lifting. You train fast twitch fibers with explosive movements like the push press, kettlebell swing, and box jumps. This type of POWER training needs more rest and recovery time.

Are We All The Same?

NO! Every person has a different percentage of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers, which is why some people tend to be naturally better at running distances than sprinting, or better at longer sets than short ones. Even within each person different muscles may be various ratios of fast and slow. For instance maybe your hamstrings are 60% slow twitch, but your biceps only 30%.

So, Why Bother Training?

You are born with a certain number of muscle fibers so you can’t increase the number of them, but you CAN increase their overall mass and strength.

Remember when we said there were TWO muscle fiber types? Well…technically that’s correct, but within “Fast Twitch” there is the potential to train for more short bursts of power or more endurance. Muscles literally change based on your activity and these hybrids will shift more toward slow or fast depending on your training. Train for your goals!

TRAINING GOAL CHEAT SHEET

Determine if your workout is designed to gain muscle size (HYPERTROPHY), strength, or power.

Hypertrophy training aims to fatigue the muscle fiber, which after proper rest will cause the muscle to grow larger. 6-12 Reps and rest 30-90 seconds. The focus is more about the process vs the actual load.

Strength (vs muscle size or power) requires a slower speed and lower reps (like 6 or less) with heavier load/weight.

Power training is similar to strength training, but speed of contraction becomes a factor as we want to generate as much power in as short a time as possible.

As you have seen this week, to get a fully balanced program to build muscle strength, size, and power takes a fine balance and a deeper understanding of how the body works. At Ellipse, you see Tabata, Declining Hypertrophy, Eccentric Training, Pause Training, and so much more. All the different formats and styles are to achieve RESULTS! If you can step through that front door and work to YOUR best, we’ve got the rest covered 😊

Sugar? Starch? Carb? What’s The Difference!

Last week we talked about forms of sugar (words ending -ose) and how they are different or alike. In many cases the sugars broke down to, in at least part, glucose. Glucose is used by your muscles to perform work. Sugars are SIMPLE carbohydrates. COMPLEX carbohydrates are what we call “starches”.

Why Do I CARE??

GLYCOGEN! Glycogen is why you care.

Glycogen is one of TWO forms of energy storage in the body:

1. Glycogen stored in muscle and the liver.

2. Triglycerides (i.e. FAT) stored in adipose tissue.

So, let’s get to the point…Your body can store 1-day’s worth of glycogen. The trick is, your body will use your “one day” stores of glycogen BEFORE relying on the stored energy in your fat cells. Meaning, you MUST exercise off your daily stores before you can mobilize the energy stored in the fat cells. Keep your energy/food intake in check!

Why Complex Carbohydrates Matter

All forms of sugar, and starch, break down into glucose. Starch is a COMPLEX CARB (i.e. 3-10 sugars linked in a long COMPLEX chain) vs sugar being a SIMPLE CARB.

Starch/complex carbs break down slower than simple carbs/sugar. Since complex carbs break down slower, we stay “full” longer. Complex carb examples include peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Stick with complex carbs in your diet vs simple carbs for overall health!

Starch come in the forms of digestible and resistant starch. Digestible starch is quickly turned into fat if we don’t use it right away. Resistant starch doesn’t get digested in the small intestine like digestible starch, instead many types ferment in the large intestine and act like fiber! Resistant starches are not broken down into glucose in the stomach, so they have a lower calorie content, also improve insulin sensitivity/lower our blood sugar levels and keep us full longer (thanks to the slow digestion). Although there are various types of resistant starch, some examples are grains, seeds, legumes, potatoes and unrefined rice.

WAIT: White rice is “refined”, which means it’s been processed, and the fiber has been broken down making it a SIMPLE carb. Brown rice however is a whole grain – fiber intact – so it is a complex carb. Purchase whole grain rice!

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs??

Why are the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs” floating out there? GOOD carbs can be considered those that not only contain energy/glucose (i.e. refined sugar) but also vitamins and minerals (i.e. vegetables – more bang for your your calorie-buck).

EXERCISE improves how our body moves sugar/glucose into our muscles, eventually causing you to require much less insulin than someone who is physically inactive.

You NEED This Head-to-Toe Healthy Overhaul!

We’ve got some simple tips, revelations and suggestions to share with you this week so take a quick read, and give yourself the tools to live your healthiest life!

Let’s Start At The Beginning!

With your feet! The first things to hit the floor every morning (if all goes according to plan…) There are 26 bones, 30 joints, and 100 muscles in your feet. We should probably take care of our feet as much as possible with that much going on in there.

Take your shoes off and try squatting while pretending you have a ladybug under the arch of your foot. Don’t squish it! Your range of motion is limited. That is exactly what happens when wear shoes with arch support! Even .5mm off in an arch support, from what you may need, can throw off your whole skeleton.

Try massaging your feet each day to increase circulation and mobility. Tip: Sit cross legged and put one leg on top. If you are mobile enough, use your elbow to massage the arch of your foot. If not mobile enough, use your knuckle. You might be surprised and find that your knee, hip, or neck may even start to feel better! It’s all connected!

Healthy Feet: Part II

Because they are that important! When you go to the gym, you wear loose clothing to be able to move and bend, right?

So why do we cram our feet into rigid shoes? When we break an arm, you put your arm in a cast and the muscles atrophy because the joint is stiff. The same thing happens with your feet when they are bound and unable to move naturally. Your ankle is meant to be mobile. When we hold it in place with a shoe, it will take mobility from the next joint, the knee – which is not built for lateral mobility especially. Certain shoes can be appropriate of course but maybe not for all day long.

Healthy Muscles

Muscles make up close to 40% of our body, give or take. We stop growing NEW muscle cells as a baby, so our only option to get stronger is to increase the SIZE of the muscle cells we have. When we strength train, we create tiny tears in our muscles and when we recover those tears are rebuilt stronger and/or longer (depending on the type of training that was utilized).

Sometimes we shy away from strength training because of soreness, BUT the best way to reduce soreness is active stretching and more exercise – light exercise – which allows the body to move out lactic acid, smooth out knots and bumps, get blood flowing, etc.

Our bodies can become stressed from the food we eat, work, family…even exercise! You heard that correct, exercise. Exercise is great, but we also need to recover properly! Listen to your body. Maybe after 4 days in a row it is saying it needs a day off, or recovery exercise like a leisurely walk, yoga, or shooting some hoops with the kids. If your muscles are screaming or you’re excessively tired, listen up and recover so you can get back to the grind sooner than later.

Healthy Heart

Our heart is a MUSCLE that we need to strengthen just like our other muscles. We often hear “I hate cardio” or a certain exercise is the ONE that works best for me. Sometimes we forget about the benefits we don’t directly see.

Cardiovascular exercise (aka relating to the HEART) like brisk walking, kickboxing, cycling, jump rope, and more are the heart-pumping/aerobic exercises needed to strengthen our hearts. Cardiovascular exercise reduces the risk of plaque build up which can reduce blood flow to the heart and cause damage. Ultimately this can cause a heart attack. A balance of strength and cardio is important for overall health!

Healthy Mindset

Exercise has a natural benefit on mindset by reducing stress. Still stressed afterward? Try reducing your sugar consumption and increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit. Sounds simple? That’s because sometimes, it is!

Other outlets for a healthy mindset include meeting up with a close friend and/or finding friends that have similar challenges that you can talk with. Finally, find your happy place to recharge: read a book, take a walk, hang out with your dog/cat, meditate, head to the lake…what is YOUR happy place?

Healthy Environment

Finally, your environment plays a big role in your health. This could be from looking at the chemicals you use in your home and trying to give them a makeover (swap out that bleach based cleaner for vinegar and baking soda!), to opening the windows and allowing the outdoors in, to organizing, to having some plants inside that naturally filter the air. What is one way YOU create a healthier environment in your home?

A Dish To Pass: Healthy Version!

Ready to shop the farmer’s market? Read on and you’ll have dishes for the rest of the summer to bring to your cookouts and parties! Heading to a party, with a dish to pass, it’s a good idea to bring a healthy option that you know is “safe” for you to load your plate up with at a meal time that is often loaded with heavy/creamy salads and desserts. Come prepared!

Mango Avocado Salad

2 mangos + 2 avocados + juice of 1 lime + 1 seeded hot pepper + 1 bunch of chopped cilantro + garlic and salt to taste. Serve along with chicken and a few tortilla chips! Checkout this original Ellipse recipe here!
You’ll be the star of the party.

Skinny Broccoli Slaw

Combine broccoli florets, shredded red cabbage and carrots, sweet onions, and raisins and then top it with a dressing of plain Greek yogurt + apple cider vinegar + lemon juice and just a little sugar to offset the bitterness of your cruciferous vegetables. Get the recipe here!

Plan ahead as you’ll want this to sit and “marinate” for a couple hours for the best result. TIP: Make it even easier by purchasing a bag of “Broccoli Slaw” mix with the broccoli, cabbage and carrots all cut up for you!

Chunky Southwest Quinoa Salad

Quinoa, black beans, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and avocados. Toss with a light dressing of lime, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey and spices. SO YUM! Full recipe here!
TIP: Throw a whole bag of dry black beans in the instant pot and fill water about 3x the height of the beans, set timer to 26 minutes. Perfect to flash freeze and keep in a freezer bag for salads like this one!
TIP2:
You can freeze quinoa too!

Slow-Cooker Balsamic Chicken

In a large slow cooker, add brussels sprouts and potatoes in an even layer and place chicken on top. In a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, brown sugar, mustard, dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour marinade over chicken and vegetables. Scatter all over with garlic. Cover and cook on high until chicken is fall-apart tender(4 to 5 hours). Garnish with parsley and serve with the juices. Recipe here!

Cucumber Feta Greek Yogurt Dip

Greek yogurt, English cucumber, crumbled feta, garlic, fresh dill, scallions, lemon juice. Mix everything together and put it in the fridge to cool and then you’re all set to bring it your next party or for your next snack or lunch! Recipe here!
TIP: Cut up some veggies or try it with crackers for dipping!

Healthy Spinach Dip

That’s right – a healthy version of the beloved spinach dip that you will love! This recipe includes cottage cheese, spinach, water chestnuts, plain Greek yogurt, dry vegetable soup mix, onion, and lemon juice! Serve it with an array kohlrabi, carrots, celery and other cut vegetables, melba rounds, and/or with bread chunks. Recipe here!

MUST SEE Breakfast Recipes for Whole Nutrition!

Breakfast can be on the most challenging meals to keep healthy, get protein in, and maybe even more so include vegetables in! Some will say they just don’t have time for that first meal of the day, but we have some quick and easy recipes that are sure to prove you wrong!

1. Classic Breakfast Burrito

Scramble eggs with veggies, add 2 T of salsa, and wrap in a sprouted grain/whole wheat tortilla! Need a little more healthy fat? Add some avocado!

TIP: If you need a quick healthier snack for later in the day, grab one of the tortillas and spread some peanut butter on it and roll up a banana inside!

2. DIY “Just Crack an Egg”

If you haven’t seen the Just Crack an Egg containers at your grocery store, it’s a quick and easy way to get a healthier breakfast in. (justcrackanegg.net). Peel the lid off the container and you’ll find a packet of cheese, a packet of sautéed veg, and a packet of a meat. You open all packets and combine with an egg or two and follow the microwave directions. They have 4 varieties and one is even keto friendly.

Try one or DIY: Use your Just Crack and Egg container, combine 1/4 c sautéed vegetables (like peppers, mushrooms, potato, onions), 1-2 T shredded cheese, and 2 T meat like turkey sausage or ham (one breakfast turkey sausage chopped is just about perfect!) plus your 1-2 eggs and follow the directions for microwaving.

TIP: Make your sautéed veg ahead and scoop out 1/4 c at a time and have your sausage/meat chopped/cubed.

3. Egg White Oatmeal

Mash a banana. Place in a larger bowl (so the oats don’t cook over) and combine with 1/2 c oats, 1/2 c milk or milk substitute, 3/4 c liquid egg whites, and 1/2 t cinnamon. Microwave 75 seconds, stir and continue microwaving :30/stir until fully cooked.

TIP: Make it your own! Add vanilla, walnuts, berries, flax seed, etc! (Find more here!)

4. Avocado and Egg Toast

A super easy and simple breakfast but you get everything you need in it! Get some bread (try oat nut bread or Ezekiel bread, but any bread will do) toast it, then mash up an avocado on the toast! Add either scrambled eggs on top or perhaps and over easy egg and then put whatever else you like on top! Cheese, salt, pepper, tomatoes, salsa, or spinach! You get carbs, protein, and some healthy fats!

5. Quinoa and Fruit Salad

Cook 1 c of dry quinoa. Toss with 1 c of each:
• sliced/diced strawberries • blackberries • blueberries • mango

Top with a choice of dressings: 1/4 c honey, 2T lime juice OR combine 1/8 c olive oil, 1/8 c apple cider vinegar, lemon zest and juice and a dash of honey or sugar.

TIP: Make it your own…Top with your favorite herbs like mint, basil and/or chopped walnuts, pine nuts or more! Too non-traditional for breakfast? Bring it to your next summer BBQ!

6. The GO-TO smoothie

Add some GREEN veggies and some extra phytonutrients to your favorite smoothie for a vitamin boost. Not sure where to start? Check out Precision Nutrition’s guide of how to build the perfect super shake/smoothie that guides you through picking a liquid, protein powder, veggie, fruit, fat, and topper.

BOOKMARK this important link!

Muscle Prep and Recovery Basics

First off, this article is a follow-up to our Ellipse Movement Basics 101 blog post last month. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, please do! It is one of the most informative and important articles for those of you who are working out or looking to get started.

We’ve spent a good amount of time talking about various movement patterns. To move better we also need to prepare our bodies and help them recover.

Just as important as the movement itself is getting the muscles healthy enough to progress. Foam rolling increases blood flow, increases the temperature of the muscle, and works out adhesions. After foam rolling, do your body a favor and run through some stretches/movements of areas that cause you problems or anything that a Physical Therapist or Orthopedic Doctor has told you to do.

Use the time in the gym before your workout vs just standing or sitting around waiting to begin! What are the odds that you’ll do specific stretches or movements at home or at any other time? Make it a routine and your body will thank you!

Not sure what stretches/movements will help you the most? Ask your trainer. They can not only answer your questions but likely know areas that could use some TLC based on your form throughout your sessions.

Recovery

Your recovery will also impact your movements and the ability to perform at your highest level. Make sure to get enough shut eye (7-9 hours/night), drink enough water (4-6 cups PLUS, but this varies a lot by body, temperature, and activities), and eat a balanced diet (more vegetables, more vegetables, more vegetables).

Other Tools

In addition to a foam roller, try using a tennis ball for those spots a roller just can’t hit. Need a new approach? Stand near a wall and use the tennis ball and/or foam roller in a standing position to put pressure on the right spot. Use a Theracane for more focused areas or hard to reach areas on the back. On a really sore day, ice your sore muscles for 20 minutes to speed up recovery.

Move better, recover better, and perform better!

Ellipse Basic Movements 101

There are several foundational movements that our training program is centered around here at Ellipse Fitness, and we want to take a moment to break these things down for you. It is ALWAYS most important that we clean up our movement patterns and move functionally BEFORE we consider adding heavy loads.

STRENGTH TRAINING

Packing The Shoulders

Kickboxing, presses, pushes (whether it’s push ups or even while lying down for a chest press) are all better, more stable, and safer when the shoulders are packed.

Try this when standing: push your shoulders as far down and away from your ears as you can, tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Packing our shoulders is easiest to feel and perfect with a farmer’s carry. Roll them back and down as far as you can.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are a dynamic and explosive hip hinge. There are no arm-lifts or squats in a kettlebell swing. Keep the kb swinging through upper thighs; somewhere above the knees. As it drops toward the knees the back becomes at risk and there is more squatting involved. For single arm? We are not looking for rotation, but maintaining alignment with an offset load.

Shoulder Press

A Shoulder Press and Push Press are DIFFERENT! A push press is started by a “push” from the legs; creating momentum. The point of a push press is to push past a “sticking point”.

When a shoulder press is called for, do a shoulder press…maybe just that last rep that you can’t quite complete can be assisted with a push. Shoulder press, also called an overhead press, should be completed with core engagement.

Squats

Squats are best performed when thinking about the feet first and work up. Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Grip the floor, putting pressure on the outside of the foot, but also driving through your big toe. Drop your torso between your hips. Come out of the squat by pushing through the outer heel, driving the knees out and tucking the tail (think pointing your belt buckle toward your chin) and breathing into your lower back.

Split Squat

Although there are similarities to a squat, a split squat requires more balance, stability, coordination, and single leg strength. Try this! Start is a kneeling position. Your legs will have two 90 degree angles. From there, stand! Come back down to just a hover or feather touch to the ground. Too intense? Stack a pad or two under your kneeling stance to reduce how deep you have to go.

Pushups

Love them or hate them, Push Ups strengthen our chest, shoulders, triceps, and core (when properly engaged). Not sure you are engaging your core during a pushup? Try a Hand-Release Push Up. Start your body on top of a stacked airex pad or two (or 3!). Hands on either side of the pad, elbows at 45 degrees.

Step ONE: LIFT the hips/engage the core. Then and only then, push through the hands to your full pushup position. Reset each time to perfect your form.

Hollow Body Hold

The hollow body hold is a foundation movement patterns from kickboxing, to squatting, to slamming balls on the floor. Knowing how to properly hold the hollow body position will stabilize your core and not only improve your performance, but also keep you much safer (especially your back) along the way! TIP: When fully contracted, your upper torso will lift upward slightly, but it’s only from the flattening of your lower back. You do not crunch. Imagine a strong, engaged position hanging from the pull up bar.

Bicycles

Start with the contraction of a hollow body and THEN begin your bicycle movement. The shoulder blade will peel off the floor. The upper body movement comes from that “peeling”, NOT the reaching of an elbow. Keep the elbows wide and drawn back. Your bicycle legs should move more like stairs than a bike.

KICKBOXING

Boxing/Guarded Stance

Start your boxing strong with a proper guarded stance. You can test your strong stance by having someone giving you a little shove from each direction…you shouldn’t tip! Try it on your friends – with a warning! Your shoulders are packed in guarded position, and hands fisted by the cheek bones.

Pivots

Pivoting in boxing is crucial from a safety standpoint! Pivot your foot so your hips are squared to the bag. Your ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder will all be in alignment and you’ll be fully facing the bag. In the end, this not only keeps you safe, but you’ll also get the full power of your hip into your punch and engage more core muscles. Make sure to come back to the guarded stance after each punch and kick!

Round Kick

A round kick starts with the upper leg elevated and the lower leg parallel to the floor; the chambered position. The foot on the floor is turned out slightly. Aim with your shin, not your toe. It’s the snap the gives the most power to the kick. A repeating roundhouse kick will demonstrate the amount of balance and control needed for a well-developed kick. Chamber your leg and fire!

Boxing Punches

You hear the cues in almost every boxing class, but have your punches improved over time? Do they feel more stable, powerful, controlled? Go for an ALMOST full extension. Tighten your fist (pretend you are actually punching someone), turn the palm of your hand down toward the floor, and strive to connect with the pointer finger and index finger.

Visualization in boxing works wonders. If there was someone in front of you and you were punching, would it be with a loose hand? You can get as much or as little as you want out of a boxing workout based on what you put into it, and we don’t mean faster speed!

5-Minute Hacks that Can Change Your Life!

Let’s say you sleep 9 hours a night and work 8 hours a day – that doesn’t seem like you have much time left huh? Only 7 hours in fact, and for most of us we are taking kids to school or sports, cooking food, cleaning, etc to boot!

But let’s break this down into usable units…you have EIGHTY-FOUR 5-minute chunks left of your day. Right now we’re going to ask you to use only SIX of them to better your health and quality of life. Think you are up to the challenge?

1. Listen to Your Favorite Song

Music activates just about every area of that brain that has been mapped so far. If you are looking to calm down, a slow-tempo song that soothes you will help the most. Make sure it’s also in a calm environment where you can hear and focus on the music, maybe put some headphones on and dim the lights. Looking for a mid-day pick me up? Get in the car and crank up the volume on that up-tempo song that makes you want to sing your heart out!

2. Declutter One Small Area

Being organized helps save time in all areas of your life…not searching for those lost keys, documents…appointment reminders! Knowing things are organized also improves your mental focus and reduces stress.

Have 5 more minutes? Take a look at your calendar and organize a busy day. Planning ahead can make sure you don’t miss your child’s basketball game…or your favorite workout!

3. Call a Friend or Loved One

Social connection reduces the incidence of depression, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. The bad news? Social media and text messaging don’t count for as much.

Now we all have that person who we know will NEVER let us off the phone in 5 minutes, save that conversation until you are ready to settle in or maybe schedule a date to meet out for coffee. Call someone you know will understand that you have only 5 minutes and just want to connect for a moment. Watch your mood lift as you hang up the phone!

4. Go to Bed 5 Minutes Earlier

Not tired yet? Read, meditate, pray, or try some light yoga to bring your body into a peaceful state for sleep. Turn off the phone and TV! Getting 7-9 hours of sleep helps prevent heart disease, inflammation (i.e. during recovery from your workouts!), obesity, depression, and stress. Try setting your alarm to actually remind you that it’s time to go to bed!

5. FLOSS!

It is never too late! Your gums may bleed for a couple days but that will subside as your gums heal. Not flossing/cleaning the gunk out between your teeth will cause plaque build-up which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If that isn’t enough, flossing can drastically reduce bad breath…a win-win for everyone!

6. 5-Minute Workout

For starters, just making the decision to work out even for only 5-minutes will ignite the motivation for more! Start with 5-minutes, whether it be stretching, a quick jog, or holding a few planks. When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing.

Here is a simple 5-minute workout: Choose a higher intensity move, like speed squats, and run through it in Tabata format. 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 8 rounds. 1-minute rest or cool down/stretch. BAM! 5-minute workout that will boost your energy, and make you feel accomplished.

Seriously everyone, I just read this entire article aloud. It took me THREE MINUTES!

So Here’s #7 – Read This Blog Post Every Day!

Until you know it by heart anyway, and you have fully integrated these 5-minute fixes into your life.

6 Must-Haves to Deck Out Your Kitchen!

Have you ever wondered how those celebrity chefs always look overjoyed to be running around the kitchen cooking??

Look closer and you’ll notice they have all the proper tools, things are organized and measured out, and you probably haven’t ever seen them do the dishes!

You might have to enlist a friend, spouse or kids to take care of that last one, but this week we’re helping you deck out your kitchen to make sure you have what you need to enjoy cooking and food prep!

Start Simple: Get the Basics

1. Sharp Knives

Make sure you have sharp knives to work with! If you don’t have a good knife sharpener at home, go and get one. There’s nothing worse than trying to cut a tomato with a dull knife – you might as well use a hammer. Preparation time can be cut in half with the right knives!

2. Silicone Cookware

Do you have silicone cookware in your home? If not, it’s a must! Silicone utensils have become fairly commonplace, but now it comes in the form of muffin, loaf, and cake pans – even parchment! The non-stick capability is unbelievable AND it’s dishwasher safe!

Silicone bakeware can go straight from the freezer to the oven, and utensils won’t scrape your cooking surfaces!

*Not sure if it’s 100% silicone? Give it a pinch test. When you pinch the silicone material, if it changes color, stay away. If it looks the same, you are good to go

3. Quality Pots and Pans

Have you ever tried to cook with a wobbly pot on a cooktop? Not only is it annoying, but you’ll get uneven cooking. Still working with scratched up teflon pots and pans you’ve had for 10 years? It might be time for an upgrade!

There are some that swear by cast-iron skillets (*be careful of scratching a cooktop) and there is a “Cadillac” of pans, the carbon steel option is what most restaurants reach for – like cast iron for heat retention, but a fraction of the weight.

Have you ever used a “Chef’s Pan” AKA “Saucier Pan”? With their higher edges they can not only work for standard frying, and sautéing, but also take the place of a soup kettle for smaller batches and are excellent for “one-pan” type dishes.

4. Baking Sheet

Did you know a cookie sheet is defined as a sheet without sides, or just a small lip, and a baking sheet has a rimmed edge? The rimmed edge can be helpful to contain juices and oils for general cooking.

Look for a pan with a 10-18 gauge rating (the lower the gauge, the thicker/more durable the pan) to avoid warping and thus more uniform baking. A good quality sheet with uncoated aluminum can provide a, surprisingly, non-stick environment! You can use baking sheets to make full meals with one sheet a million different ways – just check out this Roast Chicken and Veggies Recipe!

5. Box Grater

With a high quality 4-sided box grater you can make food prep a breeze! The largest setting is perfect for the most common, cheeses of course but also vegetables like zucchini, apples, carrots, onions, cabbage, and more! Even tomatoes if you are using for sauce!

There is the side for smaller shreds. The prickly side for grating things like hard cheese and zesting citrus. The slicing side can take the place of a mandolin in a pinch.

TIP: Freeze cheese for a short time to making shredding easier.

TIP 2: Save your knuckles by purchasing Food Grade Cut Resistant Gloves!

6. Measuring Cups

Did you ever wonder why you need one of those glass type measuring cups for liquid? Why can’t you just use a regular measuring cup?

Standard measuring cups are meant for solids where you can just scrape along the top to get a precise measurement. Liquid measuring cups indicated 1C = 8 oz but it means one cup = 8 FLUID ounces.

Dry ingredients differ in weight, i.e 1C of flour = 4.5 ounces, not 8oz. If your recipe calls for ounces of dry ingredients, make sure to weigh it!

TIP: Yogurt should be measured in a liquids cup.