vegetables

Might We Suggest a Side Order of…Perception?

NEWSFLASH: Sensations of hunger and satiety may be linked to how we PERCEIVE a meal, far more than simply being based on how many calories we actually consume! In a couple different studies, British researchers served a 3-egg omelet for breakfast – but told the volunteers the first meal had 2 eggs and the other group was told the meal had 4 eggs (Idea Fitness Journal Feb 2018). When people thought they had eaten LESS they reported feeling hungry sooner and then ate more throughout the day than the group that thought they had eaten more. Now intuitively this sounds a little obvious, but just think of the implications! The PERCEIVED amount that you eat, may be even more important than the ACTUAL amount that you eat! Try adding larger volumes of less calorie dense foods (*cough cough* vegetables) to trick your brain into thinking you are consuming more overall.

How Can We Use This Info?

• Try serving your meals and/or snacks on smaller plates or in smaller bowls to give the visual appearance of a larger volume of food. Sounds kinda stupid right? After a little while you will get used to the size and feel satisfied that you piled your food high and still hit your goals!

• Do you eat straight out of the bag or box? This is a huge no-no for conscious consumption! Make sure to parcel out a serving in a separate container or palm of your hand and step away from the bag! Eating straight out of full size packages will give you little to no feedback of how much food you are consuming!

• Start your meals or snacks with a fist sized serving of vegetables and then add some protein from there.

Step up your snacks! How would a “snack” be perceived if it was a full side salad or serving of soup? What would that do to your perception of your next meal? Would you eat as much thinking you had just had a small “meal” snack a couple hours ago? If you struggle with eating too much, consider eating 3-5 small(er) meals, instead of thinking of them as snacks, and see what happens!

• The next time you are eating, stop for a moment and be present! Realize WHAT you are eating: the quantity, the taste, the look, the feel or texture, pay attention to your hunger cues, and be MINDFUL of your eating. Each day try to increase the amount of mindfulness you bring to your meal times, and even increase the amount of time spent on your meals and see if that helps to bring balance to the quantity of food being consumed.
(Hint: IT WILL! And you will feel much more satisfied afterwards)

Recipes to Help Get You Started!

A Light and Powerful Combo
– Dice up a whole cucumber and tomato
– Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
– 3 ounces of diced chicken or turkey (optional)
The perception of this light meal/snack will really surprise you at only around 250 calories and 26g of protein!
*Cucumbers are only 8 calories!

Simple Chicken Salad
– Diced chicken or turkey
– Finely chopped cauliflower, sweet peppers and really any veggies!
– Plain Greek yogurt
– Dry ranch seasoning to taste.

Mix it up and serve by itself or wrapped in a lettuce leaf!

CSA – Do You Get It??

It’s come to our attention that many people are still unsure what a CSA is and why they are such a great thing to be a part of! So…what is it?

Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)

A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Shares typically consist of a box of produce, but other farm products may also be included like jams, baked goods, eggs, soaps, herbs, and more! Many farmers will team up with other local farmers or businesses to provide the largest selection of fruit, vegetables, animal, and/or dairy products they can.

Now is the time to get signed up! Typically farmers take a survey from their pledged consumers before the planting season so they can be sure to provide as much of the things you want as they can. Let your voice be heard by signing up before seeds are in the ground!

How does it all start?

Interested consumers purchase a share/membership and in return receive a box, bag or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Although half shares are available, a full share will range somewhere between $400-$700 per season for weekly deliveries often from June through late fall. Not bad at all if you compared the same amount of produce with your grocery store, and you get MUCH fresher and generally more sustainably produced food!

Feel good about your place in the food chain!

With a very large amount of produce in supermarkets being trucked and/or shipped in from other regions or countries, a great deal of farmers have turned to monoculture (growing one crop in massive quantities) in order to turn a profit. You can help keep traditional farming alive and provide a reliable income for small farmers by sharing in a CSA program!

CSAs provide the freshest of local produce and sometimes the opportunity to try produce that you may never have known existed! That is super exciting for those bored with the same old selection at the store. Many CSA farms have a couple of events throughout the season which allow its members to visit the farm and see where their food comes from! Some farmers also provide newsletters/communications sharing with their members ways of preparing the vegetables they received and different recipes to utilize their weekly bounty.

It sounds great! What’s the catch?

Well as we all know, growing anything outdoors poses potential problems due to weather, pests, and other conditions beyond our control. Every year farmers take the same risk and, although they take preventive measures to prevent as much loss as possible, sometimes full crops can get destroyed. But turn this around in your head; CSAs provide the chance for the community to support the farmers and share in that risk! Understand that sometimes you may get less of your favorite crop or it may be less than perfect, but on the flip side when crops are abundant you can find yourself with more produce than you ever could have expected! This usually makes you the favorite neighbor on the block when you have to offload extra produce or share a dish you made extra of!

Check out the local CSA options at www.localharvest.org and search based on your city or zip code.

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!

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!

Christmas Workout

As we wrap up another year, we could not ask for a better group of people to call our Ellipse family/community.

Although Ellipse Fitness isn’t open today, that doesn’t mean you can not get a great workout in today (if you want!).

Below is our gift to you. A Christmas workout!

So, grab your mom, dad, sister, uncle, cousin, significant other, niece, nephew, and do this holiday workout together or stash it for a snowy day!

70 Speed Skaters

60 Jacks

50 Speed Squats

40 Pogo Jumps (think fast jump rope feet)

30 Lower Body Mountain Climbers

20 Pushups

10 Burpees

1 Turkish Getup

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Holidays!

Set Yourself Up For Holiday Success!

Here at Ellipse Fitness Training Center we wish you and your families a very happy holiday! As this season comes to a close we have a few last minute tips, tricks and reminders to help you stay on track with your goals!

Maintain a regular schedule – Try to not to veer off your normal sleep, eat, and workout schedule during the busy holidays! Illness is opportunistic with large jumps in nutrition, sleep, and/or workout routines, so remain consistent to lessen your likelihood of getting sick. If you know you will be feasting at dinner, have a lighter balanced lunch like a salad with grilled chicken.
During busy times, try to schedule your days out ahead of time to maximize your time and keep those important appointments with yourself too!

Give to others – The holidays can be, for some, a stressful time. One thing that can put the holidays back in perspective is gratitude and giving to others. Let’s all find a way to help others this holiday season! There’s still time to ring bells for the Salvation Army, help out at a soup kitchen, cook a meal for a shut-in neighbor, shovel someone’s driveway after a snowstorm, and rekindle that feeling of doing something good. Remember all the blessings that are bestowed on our own lives.

Eat your meat (protein) – Our friends over at Examine.com concluded a recent analysis with this sentiment: “Since you’re going to splurge on food, focus your overeating on protein-rich foods. Not only does this have the greatest likelihood of minimizing fat gain during the overeating itself, but protein’s well-known satiating properties might help reduce overeating to begin with. As a bonus, if you are looking to manage blood sugar levels, eating protein before starchy carbohydrates has been shown to reduce post-meal blood glucose and insulin responses.“
Check out the full article here: https://examine.com/nutrition/meta-minimizing-fat-gain/

Seek out the better alternatives – Instead of the spinach and artichoke dip, think guacamole and salsa with vegetable crudites (remember? Bite size cut up veggies!). Instead of the pigs in a blanket, seek out the shrimp cocktail or meat kebabs. Bring your own healthier dessert! Here’s a super simple one:
Baked Apples
Core 2 honeycrisp apples and fill with stuffing (Mix 1 T walnuts, 1 T raisins, 1 T dried cranberries, ½ t cinnamon, ¼ t nutmeg).
Place apples in a loaf pan w/ ¼ c water on bottom and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until apples are tender!

Bring a dish to pass – Plan ahead! Ask if you can bring a dish to your next outing. Bring something that you know you can eat that is still a healthy option. Try some of these appetizers from previous blog posts:

Spinach dip made with cottage cheese and greek yogurt

Fresh Fruit dip made with applesauce and yogurt

Ellipse Classic cottage cheese ranch dip

Relax and recharge – As the hustle and bustle picks up in these last days before Christmas, give yourself permission to relax. Sit back with your kids, significant other, pets – whomever – and watch a movie, play a board game, or simply enjoy each other’s company. Give yourself permission to do something non-productive for a while to re-center and recharge. When you are feeling at your best you are at your best for those around you too. Thank you for taking time for yourself and recharging with Ellipse Fitness! Happy Holidays!

Rock Thanksgiving With These Drinks and Apps!

Well Thanksgiving is nearly here, and if yours is anything like most friends and family will descend upon an agreed upon location, all hauling heavy, over-the-top dishes that almost universally contain extra sweetness and a higher-than-usual volume of carbohydrates!

It’s a celebration meal designed for giving thanks, but instead we often find ourselves crying, “uncle!” at the hands of a feast low in quality nutrition and very high in sugar and calories. Either that, or you find yourself getting inquisitive stares from across the table as they notice your plate isn’t piled high enough to block your view!

BUT NOT THIS YEAR WE SAY! Start planning now to freshen up the variety and the quality of the meal, and most at the table will probably thank you for it!

Appetizers!

Time to get your appetizer vocabulary up to speed! Crudites (kroo-dee-tay) is a French word that means a vegetable that can be cut into sticks, thin slices, or bite size pieces and served with a cold dip. Try this easy, healthy, avocado hummus dip! Blend 2 avocados, 1 can drained chickpeas, ¼ c lemon juice and olive oil, and 1.5 TBSP tahini (optional). Salt/Pepper to taste.

Prep double the veggies and double down on another dip with this excellent version of spinach dip! No Mayo, no cream cheese or sour cream!

Check out the recipe here!

Baked Blooming Onion! Who can resist snagging a piece of a blooming onion?? Try a healthier version by baking and plating with a greek yogurt based dip. Cut the base off an onion, cutting into 12-16 sections (not cutting all the way through) and “flower” the petals, dredge in 2 egg white wash, and coat with ¼ c panko + ¼ c ground almonds + 1/8 c parmesan and spices. Bake 40-45 minutes at 375.
Find the recipe here!

Want a dip with a kick? Combine 8oz plain greek yogurt + 1 tsp sriracha sauce + 1 tbsp parsley.

Drinks!

Add 1 shot of vodka over ice, mix 16 oz water with an “on-the-go” packet of Crystal Light or Similar powder. Pour half the mix over the vodka/ice and add a splash of lemon-lime or ginger ale soda. Toss in a blender for a blended drink! Get creative with your favorite flavors. Only about 110 calories: Cheers!

Combine a packet of Swiss Miss 25 Calorie hot chocolate mix, 3/4 Cup Hot Water and 1 Peppermint Stick. Ready to kick back with something a little more? Add a quick shot of vodka, but keep in mind that will set you back an additional 100 calories. You decide what it’s worth!

Leftovers!

Are you hosting Thanksgiving? This year, buy a BIGGER turkey and rock those leftovers (or snag unwanted leftovers from the host)! Check out these great Ellipse Fitness recipes to use that leftover turkey!

Turkey Enchiladas

Turkey Tortilla Soup

All About Herbs!

Last week we talked about a lot of unusual produce you might find at the Farmers’ Market or grocery store (read here if you missed it!), but herbs are another great item to source from your local market or store. When it comes time to discuss vitamin and mineral content of foods or antioxidant rich sources herbs are often forgotten, but they can be a great source of all three!

Some herbs are perennial, some biennial or annual, but for the most part they tend to offer their best harvest in the summer and early fall. Even with herbs that will survive a snowy winter, it’s important to harvest before the frosts start to settle in. You can extend the life of your herbs by freezing them on the stem or chopping and placing in a bag – or even freezing in ice cube trays with water! Usually it is suggested to make use of them within 2 months, but to extend their freezer life a little try freezing them in olive oil! This ensures preservation of their flavor up to 3 or 4 months and makes them very convenient to use in soups or while sauteing vegetables.

MINT

Mints are incredibly hardy perennial herbs which make them very easy to grow. They spread so willingly, in fact, that many people choose to plant them in a large pot, and then plant that pot in the ground so they don’t take over an area!

Mints have one of the highest antioxidant capacity of any food! Try adding fresh mint to salsas and salads or toss it in your water for a refreshing flavor! You can also steep the leaves for 5 – 6 minutes in hot water for fresh mint tea.

Click here for a fresh Summer Roll recipe containing fresh mint!

OREGANO

Oregano is another perennial that is easy to grow (and split to share with a friend!). It’s known not only for its common use in Italian foods and on pizza, but also for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties! Oil of Oregano is a fantastic natural immune booster when antibiotics are not available or necessary.

Try this different take on classic pesto using oregano and spinach!

BASIL

An annual herb, basil is best harvested by pinching off a few leaves from a few different stems to encourage the plant to fill out vs getting tall and spindly. Traditional basil uses include pesto, marinades, bruschetta, and soups. Basil is another great addition to fresh spring rolls or tossed into a fresh greens salad. Try steeping 3 basil leaves in 1 cup of boiling water to create a tea to relieve an upset stomach or digestion!

Here’s another Summer Roll (*not fried spring roll) recipe to try – so fresh you can even cut out the dipping sauce if you’re concerned about the extra calories!

CILANTRO

This annual herb is often confused as a perennial because it reseeds so easily. Cilantro, in addition to being abundant with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, is also known to combat heavy metal toxicity in the body and aid in digestion. Unfortunately however, about 15% of the population has a gene that causes them to detect aldehyde chemicals which are found in both cilantro and soap. If you find that you fall into this group and you dislike cilantro, swap out parsley in any of your favorite recipes that include cilantro. Those in Wisconsin will even find, with the heavy frosts, cilantro can sprout up on it’s own from the prior season. When growing, the green leaves can be harvested as cilantro. Let it flower and go to seed and you have grown spicy coriander seeds! Cilantro is used in many Mexican or Asian dishes such as guacamole, salsa, and cilantro lime rice.

DILL

Like Cilantro, dill reseeds easily, but is a biennial since a plant will only live two years. Toss seeds just about anywhere, and you’ll have fresh dill available readily for years to come. Dill tastes great in fresh in salads, greens, and as flavoring for roasted or grilled vegetables!

Click here for grilled carrots with lemon and dill!

There are many, many herbs out there worth mentioning, but some easy perennials that have a wide variety of uses are Rosemary, Thyme and Sage! Plant all kinds of herbs and try using something brand new to you – your tastebuds will thank you!