Basics

Why You Gorge on Junk Food and Not Broccoli

Why is it so easy to cruise through a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, but when you get to pile of broccoli, cucumbers, or chicken, it’s hard to eat more than a cup or so? Well the truth is, it’s a little more complicated than not having self-control or even because chips or ice cream “taste so good!”

The food industry is one of the most competitive markets and there are tons of companies all clamoring for your business. Go into the center area of any grocery store and you are inundated with boxes and bags of processed food screaming for you to buy them with bright colors and million-dollar logos! Each one touting low-carb, fat-free, vegan, organic, etc all claiming to be just what you need and want. But are they?

Let’s talk about the lures of “junk food” and why it’s so easy to overeat.

Whole foods are harder to overeat because they contain more filling fiber. Whole foods usually also require more physical chewing than their processed counterparts, and this is huge! Chewing actually sends signals to your brain which help you feel more satisfied and full. Perform your own experiment! See how many chews it takes to eat a piece of carrot, chicken, or broccoli and compare that to your favorite processed food.

Beware! According to Precision Nutrition, there’s a major restaurant chain that injects chicken with sauce to flavor and tenderize it so it requires less chewing…allowing you to eat more than you need!

Money – most everyone likes to save a buck. You can walk into most fast food restaurants and pick a numbered combo meal that delivers a pile of food to munch on. To get the same volume of food in a vegetable and protein meal (like a salad or buddha bowl) you will likely pay twice as much! Even at restaurants the most healthy options on the menu are often the most expensive. But the trick is, you probably don’t need the same amount of food as that double burger with fries and soda!

Pro Tip: Creating healthy meals with veggies and lean protein at home is extremely inexpensive! In-season produce can often be picked up for fifty cents a pound, and 4 servings of organic chicken breast is likely to cost you less than $10, so get in the habit of preparing! Don’t get caught without a plan and forced to meander through the nearest fast food drive-thru.

When it comes to processed foods (something that doesn’t grow from the ground, walk, swim, or fly) a clear majority of health claims do little more for us than the traditional “junk food” brands. When grabbing that processed food with the halo, compare the label to the equivalent “not so healthy” box. Understand what you are buying. Evaluate your pantry and stick with whole foods that don’t need labels. Organic Macaroni and Cheese is not so different from the blue box brand…

Trigger Warning! Find your trigger foods, slow down your eating, and be kind to yourself! Jumping on the latest “crash diet” is not a good long-term plan. Try being honest with yourself, with how you perceive yourself, and then find a supportive environment. Look for triggers to your food choices. Are you stressed, tired, or anxious when you turn to food? When you feel the urge to overeat, from stress or otherwise, try going for a walk, spending time with a friend or pet, exercising, reading, listening to music, or anything else that will positively distract you.

Have you ever noticed it’s easier to overeat at a buffet? When “trying a little of everything” you expose yourself to more flavors and textures that your body will be more inclined to consume more. This same phenomenon applies to mix snack packages with things like pretzels, cheese crackers, etc all mixed together.

Stick with fewer food choices on your plate if you want to keep your waistline in check. A rule of thumb is to stop when you feel 80% full, because it takes time for your brain to get the signals that you have had enough to eat.

Get even more info like this from our friends at Precision Nutrition, and as always remember to…

5 Fitness Essentials from Ellipse Fitness

Whether you have been at Ellipse for some time or are newer to the fitness world, there are a few things you’ll want to do your homework on.

Get a good water bottle.

Find something that will encourage you to stay plenty hydrated and is convenient, keep in mind that if it is a burden to you – you will drink less. You can even find double-insulated bottles that are easy to fill, clean, and keep everything cool for up to 24 hours!

Get the right shoes!

This is a big one! Sometimes when our ankles, knees, etc bother us, it could very well be related to the shoes we wear. Make sure you do your homework on the best shoe for you. Many appreciate the feel of barefoot shoes, some feet need support for over pronation, supination, etc.
Next, you’ve got to acknowledge when those things are worn out! Be sure to replace your shoes regularly enough. The average running shoe needs to be replaced about every 400 miles for instance…watch the wear on the bottom and sides. Don’t wait until you are in pain. Also, be aware that it’s a myth that shoes need to be broken in!

Recovery

Set yourself up to recover properly with enough water, sleep, and movement! This last one can often be neglected. We finish a workout, give ourselves a job well done and then proceed to sit around for the rest of the day, but this will only lead to more soreness!
Your movements may include recovery tools such as a foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball, or even a TENS unit (electric pulse massager). Try not to only use the foam rollers at the gym. It’s a great investment to use at home as well, and they are pretty cheap. Tennis balls can help with those hard to reach areas and so can specialty rollers, like a Rollga, can help with different pressure points. Ask your trainer for the best recovery tool/process for you!

Back to your feet again…Socks!

It’s not something we usually invest in as much as we may want to, but a good pair of socks can go a long way to keeping your feet healthy! Too small of a sock and your ankle can rub on the back of your shoe. Too big of a sock and you can cause blistering.
Try some of our favorite brands like Darn Tough (yes, they make a sport line AND they have a LIFE-TIME guarantee! No BS), Smart Wool, and/or socks made of a sweat wicking material.

Gloves!

Still have that same set of boxing gloves from 3 years ago? It may be time to purchase a new pair! When the padding wears down in your boxing gloves, your hands can begin to ache. Just like your shoes, you should replace your gloves when they start wearing unevenly.

*Side note: Lifting Gloves – Although your grip can be impacted, some people don’t appreciate the calluses that can occur from regular strength training due to occupation or personal preference. For those situations, find a proper fitted lifting glove and keep packed in your gym bag with your boxing gloves, water bottle, sweat towel, and shoes!

What fitness equipment can YOU not live without?? Leave us a comment with your favorites and why!

Concerned with the aesthetic side-effects of working out? Well, a few months ago we went over the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant. Find a deodorant that helps neutralize your underarm bacteria. Each body responds to ingredients differently. What works for your friend may not work for you! You may need to experiment with a few to find the right one for you. At the gym, as a courtesy to others (especially with asthma), avoid heavy body sprays and perfumes/colognes. Have to run to an appointment after a workout? Keep baby wipes, or your favorite microfiber washcloth, in your gym back for a last minute freshen up.

Ellipse Member FAQ

Welcome to The Ellipse Fitness FAQ Sheet! We get a lot of the same questions from people interested in our studios and from members alike and we got to thinking…you might not realize just how much you have in common with our members who workout here everyday!

1. What should I bring?

• A good pair of clean tennis shoes
• Sweat towel
• Water (we sell bottles of water too, but go ahead and bring your favorite water bottle if you’d like!)
• Appropriate fitness gear, a t-shirt that covers the abs and fitness pants/shorts.
• We have foam rollers and boxing gloves, but if you have a roller or gloves that you love, feel free to bring them.

2. Will I be the only one who..?

There is probably a 98% chance that someone your age, with your condition, and/or your concerns HAS done this before and was successful doing so! You are not alone! We have levels suitable for almost everyone. Fitness can be intimidating initially, but we will set you up for success, going over the basics, breaking down the movements and only adding things in once you are ready.

3. My [fill in the blank] hurts, I had surgery, etc…

First, make sure you have filled out a medical history form so we know exactly how to work with you during your Ellipse training sessions. Our certified trainers are experienced to offer suitable adjustments or alternate exercises as needed.

4. My schedule is tough! How long are the workouts and what does the schedule look like?

Ellipse Fitness programs the sessions assuming that everyone has a variable schedule and in some cases can never make it on a certain day. Our behind the scenes programming has you covered! Get a complete, full-body workout attending as little as 2-3 days/week. Our sessions run 45 minutes and include foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up.


Group Personal Training (5am, 6am, 9am, 12pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm – no 6pm on Fridays. Ask your local studio for the Saturday schedule.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are strength based with Monday and Friday offering a little more heart-pounding metabolic component.


Kickboxing/Team Training (5am, 6am, 9am, 12pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm. Ask your local studio for the Saturday schedule.)
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday have a kickboxing basis with a variety of twists to keep it fresh.


We respect your time and make a practice of starting and ending on time. Don’t forget, we have showers available as well if you need to make your getaway even quicker!

5. I’m nervous

That’s totally normal and you are not alone! Taking the first step into the studio is always the hardest. If you can make it into the front doors, we promise to take good care of you and help you feel as comfortable and welcome as possible! If you have any injuries, bodily limitations, or just want to test the waters as opposed to jumping right in, our trainers will work with you. Not sure what a deadlift is? No problem, we’ll walk you through a hip lift and work to progress you toward the next step.

6. I won’t know anyone.

First, request a medical history form and login from your local studio. Call, email, or stop in to set up an initial Get To Know You session to help us guide you toward the program best suited to you. Short on time? Just fill out your medical history form and we can email or call you our recommendation and best way to get started.

Your first session we’ll have you come in about 15 minutes prior to get your orientated and ready for the session. After your first session, arriving 5-15 minutes prior will allow proper foam rolling and warm-up time.

7. In the past, I’ve gotten bored.

For over a decade, Ellipse has been known for our variety and fitness expertise. Let us show you variety like never before!

8. How do I get started?

First, request a medical history form and login from your local studio. Call, email, or stop in to set up an initial Get To Know You session to help us guide you toward the program best suited to you. Short on time? Just fill out your medical history form and we can email or call you our recommendation and best way to get started.

Your first session we’ll have you come in about 15 minutes prior to get your orientated and ready for the session. After your first session, arriving 5-15 minutes prior will allow proper foam rolling and warm-up time.

9. How can I stay connected?

Make sure you are getting our emails! On Tuesday’s you’ll find our “Lunch N’ Learn” series to keep you informed and motivated. Keep up with your local studios with our Friday studio update and notes. If you haven’t received an email yet, be sure to reach out.

Follow the Ellipse Fitness corporate Facebook page and your local studio Facebook/Instagram pages for another method of staying “in the know”.

Finally, when you join as a member, you will be invited to be a part of your local studios private Facebook group; a place to interact with other members and ask health and fitness related questions.

10. What else should I know?

Our training team and Ellipse Fitness community are here to ensure your success. Without you, your results, or your positive experience, Ellipse Fitness wouldn’t be here. So, we are grateful and HIGHLY motivated to make sure you have the best fitness experience EVER!

Our members are encouraged to book their sessions at least 4 hours prior to help the trainers provide the best service possible. Your situation doesn’t allow for a 4-hour window? Just check with your local studio as most have processes in place for those situations!

Life is about balance, and so is Ellipse Fitness. As mentioned before, you’ll get a great workout in, and we won’t ask you to do things you can’t. Our coaches will make sure you have options, if needed.

11. But, I am a [runner, swimmer, yogi, etc.]

Functional strength training is a proven method of injury prevention. Cardiovascular exercise, like kickboxing, relieves stress like no other form of exercise. All our formats boost energy, improves confidence, promotes optimal health, builds muscle, AND burns fat too!

The hardest part is taking the first step, so what are you waiting for!? Sign up for a $10 session here or our 21-Day Training Camp here!

Self-Improvement Must Reads!

This week we share some books that we think everyone should read or at least be aware of. Self-improvement books can inspire us to make better choices and enhance our lives. Whether you are humming along in life, going through a transition, or are just a continual learner, we challenge you to check out some, or all, of these books. Keep learning. We may not always have time to sit down and read a book. A few ways to keep learning, on the run with tools like these:

• Blinkist
• Audible
• iTunes University/iTunes
• Podcasts (like Optimal Health Daily on Spotify or Precision Nutrition’s Eat, Move and Live Better podcast on iTunes)

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The Four agreements offer a code of conduct that can bring about a feeling of freedom and happiness: 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Don’t take anything personally. 3) Don’t make assumptions. 4) Always do your best.

Think you’ve heard all you need to hear? Think again – Ruiz’s insight is the stuff of legends!

On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary

After suffering burns on 100% of his body as a child, not to mention amputated fingers and more to boot, John O’ Leary learns that we might not be able to choose what life throws at us, but we can choose how we live our life. Get ready to be inspired!

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

You hear this often at Ellipse Fitness, “what is your WHY?” In order to achieve a goal, the WHY needs to be deeply personal and it needs be a driving force, or else this will probably be just another one of those goals we fall short of without ever really giving it an honest try. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” The WHY might be, I want to be healthy so I can keep up with my grandkids or be there to take care of my spouse as we age! Almost as difficult as discovering your WHY in life is staying true to it and keeping it alive.

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone

Think BIG! In this book Cardone discusses how to invest 10x more and reach 10x further. Success always requires more effort than we anticipate. Be obsessed with your goal. Find direction on how to shift your goals and focus to reach for more by working harder, building your commitment, and finingd inspiration to accomplish it!

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Gary encourages you to prioritize your to-dos by importance, become disciplined in what you want by creating a habit of it, do NOT multitask, visualize the steps to get to your goal, and never compromise your personal life for your professional goals…instead prioritize your work time to perfection!

What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter

Negative programming prevents individuals from becoming and doing exactly what they want. Any amount of inspirational reading will only provide us with techniques that could work if put into practice. This book explains the principles of self-talk – a unique way of reversing negativity, optimizing outlook, focusing plans and achieving success. The key is in affirming, telling yourself the right things which then reflect in a more positive lifestyle. Sometimes it really can be that simple!

What are you waiting for??

If Not Sugar, Then What??

Last week we talked about some of the harmful effects of added sugar. BUT, if you are going to have sugar, which kind is the right choice? This week we’ll look at honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar, raw vs white sugar, and even stevia. We have to realize there isn’t a simple answer when it comes to added sugars/sweeteners. Added sugars is where the clear majority of health issues lie. Watch your labels and start playing sugar detective to know what you are eating!

Honey

Honey contains a few more calories than table sugar but unlike stevia or table sugar, it contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants making honey more like a food than a sugar. Unfortunately, most non-raw honey has been filtered, heated/pasteurized and processed thereby negating many of the health benefits in an attempt to prevent crystallization once on a store shelf.
(Caution: If you are allergic to bees, raw honey could potentially cause reactions!)

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar (not to be confused with palm sugar) is made from the sap of coconut trees and is less processed because the sap is extracted and then placed in heat to dry. It has a couple minerals and antioxidants and a lower glycemic index than table sugar thanks to inulin (a type of fiber). Coconut sugar contains the same number of calories as table sugar, but the amount of nutrients is negligible unless large quantities are consumed so it should really not be consumed for its “nutrition” – it is still ultimately added sugar.

Raw Cane Sugar

Raw cane sugar (also called turbinado sugar) is extracted from the sugarcane plant and not refined. Although in large amounts, no sugar is “good”, raw sugar would be a better alternative than white table sugar since it retains some minerals. Raw sugar includes unrefined cane juice or powder (Sucanat and Rapadura) and date sugar.

Beware: White sugar can be labelled in disguise as refined or dried cane juice and refined cane sugar!

Stevia

While all of our article has been designated to explaining different types of sugar, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge a natural sweetener that appears to be in good standing. Stevia is a sugar-free and calorie-free South African herb made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has a glycemic index of zero so it doesn’t raise blood sugar. It appears stevia COULD be your best choice for a sweetener without the additional calories of local honey, etc BUT be careful of overly processed stevia products as in general the word “processed” often means “processed with chemicals”.

Also, be aware of overuse as it can cause you to develop more of a taste for sweets. According to Livestrong.com “crude stevia extracts and whole-leaf stevia are not approved, the Mayo Clinic notes, because there are concerns about their effects on the kidneys, cardiovascular system and blood glucose levels.”

In summary, granulated white sugar/table sugar is the most chemically processed and refined of sugars. Brown sugar is just white sugar with added molasses, thus containing even more calories and sweetness. Choosing artificial sweeteners vs a “better” sugar is a choice you have to make based on the information available to you. There is no simple answer it seems. Our advice? Watch your labels, know your sugars, and choose what is best for you while exercising moderation!

Step Up Your Snack Game!

Healthy Eating can be quite a challenge. Nearly anyone who has tried to make positive changes to their diet can admit this. As you start to build new habits however, you might find that meals are more manageable, but what do you do when hunger strikes in between meals? For many of us, our workplace has a room similar to this one that begs to answer the question…

The word “Snack” is most often associated with something less healthy, or natural, than a small meal, but keep thinking about how you can form your days around small meals, whether that is 3 or 5 times a day. No matter what though, sometimes you need that fast snack. Here are some great options for you:

Be prepared!

Keep It Simple

Roll a piece of cheese or a pickle in some lunch meat to get a quick protein boost. Look for natural meats without added nitrates and a short ingredient list.

Chia Pudding

Whether for a breakfast or for a snack, chia pudding can fit the bill! Simply combine chia seeds with coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
Get creative by adding protein powder, fresh fruit, cocoa powder…you name it!
Check out the recipe here!

Ellipse Breakfast Muffins

Need a quick breakfast that can be eaten as is or jazzed up? Check out our Classic Ellipse Breakfast Muffins with just oatmeal, egg beaters, applesauce, and baking soda.
Add-On’s: nut butter, yogurt, etc
Add-In’s: fresh or dried fruit
Add-With’s: cottage cheese and fruit!

Need Something Salty?

Try roasted chickpeas! Toss drained chickpeas with olive oil and salt/garlic salt and bake 30-40 minutes at 450 degrees until browned and crispy. Want a little kick? Add a dash of cayenne pepper!

Apples A New Way

Apple Snack

Have a sweet tooth that NEEDS to be tamed NOW? Try slicing an apple all the way across to get full flat circles slices. Spread nut butter on the slice and add toppings like chopped nuts, unsweetened coconut, or even a few dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs.

Make a "Small Meal"

“Crack Slaw” has a great combination of protein, vegetables, and seasonings! The recipe calls for Dole Coleslaw mix but consider using broccoli slaw for an extra vitamin boost! Find it here!

Sweet Craving?

Get your sweet fix by mixing peanut butter (or powdered peanut butter) with plain greek yogurt and maybe even a dash of sugar-free pudding mix to make a great fruit dip!

Multivitamins have NO effect on Heart Disease, Cancer or overall Mortality??

According to the medical journal “Annals of Internal Medicine”, there is no evidence that multivitamins have any effect on cognitive decline, heart disease, cancer, or overall mortality. Wait what??

However, adequate intake of vitamins/minerals from food and/or supplements IS necessary to prevent deficiency, promote optimal health, improve nutrient partitioning and promote fat loss and muscle gain.

Ditch The Multivitamin or Not??

Ideally, just supplement the specific nutrients you are deficient in. Avoid supratherapeutic doses of vitamins – doses greatly in excess of recommendations. And know what you are working with: low-fat diets for instance can inhibit adequate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Perhaps your diet just needs a little tweaking; all of your vitamin and mineral requirements CAN and arguable SHOULD BE met from actual food intake by eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you struggle with medical ailments, check with your healthcare provider to see if specific vitamins or nutrients may need to be supplemented.

Taste The Rainbow!

…can we say that?

Vitamins are “any of a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.”

We have overwhelming access to a variety of fruits and vegetables all year round, and there truly is no reason outside of a medical complication or deficiency that one should require a daily multivitamin.

If you use a vitamin/mineral supplement, look for one providing nutrients derived from whole foods. Be sure this includes natural forms of vitamin E rather than the synthetic versions. Vitamin A should come from precursors like carotenoids and not preformed retinoids for instance. Labdoor.com is an independent company that creates a quality score for label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety, and projected efficacy!

**Check with your healthcare provider as special populations often need special consideration with supplemental vitamins. Those on blood thinners need to take precaution before adding in supplemental vitamin K. Those on a plant based diet might benefit from supplementing with iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Those suffering from malabsorption syndromes will need to adjust their micronutrient intake accordingly. Always check with your healthcare provider before supplementing your diet.**

Vitamin D: The not-really-a-vitamin Vitamin

“Vitamin D” is actually the one vitamin your body is capable of synthesizing on it’s own! All you need is sunlight. Because of this you may meet your requirements for this vitamin with no effort at all in the Summer, but come Winter you may be totally deficient! (Especially for those of us in the North experiencing extended periods of below freezing temperatures and reduced daylight hours).

Getting adequate vitamin D can improve mood AND provide long-term protection against cognitive decline and bone deterioration. Many studies show that deficiency in vitamin D is also associated with increased susceptibility to infection and immune dysfunction!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

What to Eat, When to Eat, and What it Means for Your Workouts

Thankfully, it seems the era of fad-diets, fat-free, no-carb or other diets that entirely slash a whole category of macronutrients is coming to a close! But with that said, it is still difficult to find reliable information on proper nutrition! Let’s take a look at how eating factors into the effectiveness of your workouts, and maybe we can make sense of some of this.

“What should I eat before/after my workout?”

For most of us who exercise for health and not training for a high-level competition, our meals will contain some combination of high quality protein, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and some fruit and vegetables 1-2 hours before and/or after your workout to get the maximal benefit. Whether it is “and” vs “or” will partly depend on the intensity/duration of your activity, daily caloric intake and what is on the menu for the rest of your day

Break it down for me: What’s important – and Why?

Protein can help maintain muscle size, reduce muscle damage, provide your bloodstream with amino acids when it needs them most, and helps you adapt to your exercise over the long term! But most people are at least somewhat aware of the importance of protein for strength training – what about carbohydrates?

Pre-Exercise carbs fuel your workout and help with recovery/muscle retention with even shorter, intense workouts. Post-exercise carbs however should come from whole foods like fruits and vegetables because these are better tolerated by the system than insulin-spiking refined carbohydrates and are just as good at restoring muscle glycogen over 24 hours.

Alright…but tell me more about “When”.

If you ate a normal-sized, balanced meal a couple of hours before training (or a smaller shake closer to training), then you have 1-2 hrs after training to eat your post-workout meal and still maximize the benefits of workout nutrition.

But if you are like many who work out early in the morning or directly after leaving work, and you ate only a small meal within the last 3-4 hours before your workout, or you are in a fasted state, then you should consume a meal within one hour after your workout to prevent a slowed recovery. A whole food meal pre/post workout provides many things including important phytonutrients that build muscle, supply energy, decrease inflammation, and boost recovery.

Ya know, it just isn’t the same for me!

You might be right! In the end, the total amount of protein and carbohydrate consumed over the course of the day is far more important to lean mass gain, fat loss, and performance improvements than any specific nutrient timing strategy. If you are a high-quality eater (you are only looking to tweak minor things) check out this infographic that further breaks down your meals by body type!

When in doubt, keep it simple and fill each nutrient slot:
Protein – Scrambled Eggs with veggies
Fat – 1 “thumb” of cheese
Carb – 1 slice of Ezekial toast or fruit

Now we’ve got some recipes to help make finding a well-balanced, complete meal a little easier for you!

Asian Scrambled Eggs:

Shake up your eggs with a few new elements like some incredibly healthy ginger root and nutritious snow peas!
Check the recipe here!

Classic Protein Pancakes:

Rolled oats, eggs, cottage cheese, fruit – these pancakes have everything you need to call them a complete meal!

Find this recipe and more on our previous blog post here!

PB & Chocolate Banana Shake:

1 scoop choc protein powder, 1 fistful of spinach, 1 banana, 1 “thumb” of peanut butter, and 8 oz choc unsweetened almond milk. Blend and enjoy!

Need even more ideas? How about Banana Cream Pie Oatmeal?? Peaches and Cream Omelet?? You can find those and MORE in Precision Nutrition’s Gourmet Recipes List!

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!