BBQ Side Dishes and Summer Salads!

It is Summer time and BBQ season, so this week we have several recipes for you using the fresh produce you should be able to find at your local markets!

Green Beans

Green beans are in season! Like other legumes, green beans contain high fiber to keep you full longer. 1 cup of green beans has just 44 calories plus offers a good source of vitamin K, C, and folate. Eating green beans fresh or with a quick steam method will retain the most nutrients. Store fresh green beans unwashed in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer for up to 7 days.

Try this marinated bean salad to bring to your next BBQ: it combines green beans, kidney beans, and lima beans (swap out if you are not a lima fan!), tomato, and fresh herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice. That perfect “Fresh” salad for the summer!

Tomatoes

Keep ripe tomatoes on the counter away from sunlight. When the tomatoes become (too) soft, toss in the fridge. Keep in mind at the end of the season that green tomatoes can be placed stem side down in a paper bag to ripen (give it time though, it usually takes a while!). Tomatoes are full of water and fiber as well as a good source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, and folate.

Serve yourself up a simple fresh side dish: 1 chopped cucumber + 1 chopped tomato + olive oil and salt. Delish!

Potato Salad

Going to that BBQ and need a dish to pass? Potato salads can be laden with heavy dressings and little nutrition. Add some extra veg and pull back on the heaviness with this potato salad makeover!

Tri-Colored Pepper Potato Salad uses red potatoes, sweet peppers, onions and a lighter sauce of white wine, chicken broth, lemon juice, garlic, dijon, and salt/pepper! TIP: Make it extra colorful with purple, red, and golden potatoes. You can find a 5# bag of cute little fully washed rainbow baby potatoes at Costco. Just cut in half and you are ready to go!

Berries and Melons

Blueberries and melons are coming into season! Find a local blueberry picking patch by searching Google for “Pick your own blueberries” and local patches will pop up. Blueberries are loaded with fiber and antioxidants (one of the highest antioxidant foods actually) plus low in calories. Melons are also a good addition to your diet with their high-water content, vitamin C and other great nutrients depending on the melon choice.

Bring the best of both worlds together with this Melon Berry Fruit Salad. Combine melons and berries with honey, lime juice, and mint. A perfect summer side dish to bring to your next BBQ/picnic. TIP: Store cut melon for about 3 days. If you find yourself with extra, freeze on a cookie sheet before tossing into a container for easy use.

Carrots

Carrots are coming into season! Did you know baby carrots have a lower nutritional vitamin quantity than full sized carrots? BUT WAIT! Baby carrots are actually a small carrot/carrots not allowed to fully mature, NOT the carrots we typically think of in bags (called manufactured baby carrots).

Bagged “baby” carrots are typically carrots that are grown closer together to have a narrow shaft but grow 8-10 inches long. They are then chopped apart and tumbled. The peels go to compost or are used as cattle feed. These carrots have similar, if not the same, nutritional quantities as their standard counterpart. When baby bagged carrots were first “invented” they were shaved down “ugly” carrots.

Summer Squash

Summer squash includes yellow squash, zucchini, and cute little different squash like the pattypan (looks like a little flying disc with scalloped edges) or ball squashes.

With both green beans and summer squash coming into season, there’s no better combination than the Summer Chicken Sauté from our own blog!

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!

Start the Harvest Season Off Right!

The Early Summer Harvest!

Ah summer! Mid-June is when several vegetables are starting to be harvested. Nothing tastes quite as great as freshly harvested veggies! Although many factors are at play, the nutrients and vitamin content of fruits and vegetables start decreasing after they are harvested. In some cases that can be as short as 24 hours and others within a week.

If your produce makes a long trip from a field, to a processing area, to a supermarket, you have already narrowed that window significantly! If you can’t grow your own produce, consider a local farmer’s market or CSA to get your produce from the field to your table in a shorter amount of time to retain the most nutrients. (Check out this past blog post about CSA’s and local markets!)

Depending on the spring weather, typically just coming into season mid-June are: beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, scallions, and kohlrabi. You’ll also find lettuce greens, arugula, kale, peas, radishes, and rhubarb are already in (and perhaps almost past) season!

Beets!

Did you know? Swiss chard is a bottomless beet! Standard small beets are best for roasting or steaming. Try grating beets and sautéing in a pan with some butter or olive oil. Use the leaves too like you would kale. Beets can be bagged and stored in your crisper drawer for 7-10 days.

Salad Greens!

Salad greens are high in nutrients and low in calories which make them great if you are watching your diet. There are many varieties of greens so mix and match for a variety of tastes, textures, and nutrients.

PRO TIP: If you are not using your salad greens immediately, after the greens have been washed and dried, line a container with paper towels and loosely place the greens on and cover with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Click here for a ranking of the most nutritious greens. HINT: number one is NOT spinach or kale…and certainly not iceberg lettuce!

Want more? Learn how to construct the Perfect Salad!

Broccoli!

Broccoli heads are the unopened flowers of the broccoli. When stored too long the green head of “buds” start to turn yellow and lose their nutritional value. Do NOT store broccoli in a sealed container or plastic bag. If in a plastic bag, make sure the bag is open or has holes poked in it; it needs to have air flow. It should be misted lightly or unwashed and then wrapped loosely in damp paper towels and refrigerated. Consume within a couple days or 1-week max.

Try this recipe to get more broccoli in your days! Combining zucchini “noodles”, traditional spaghetti, broccoli, peas, and pesto sauce. Toss in some chicken/protein and you’ve got a meal ready to serve! Love zucchini? Double the amount of zucchini and reduce the amount of traditional spaghetti…or fully replace it!

Bok Choy!

Bok Choy is a great source of fiber as a cruciferous vegetable. It also contains healthy amounts of vitamins C, K, and A (beta-carotene). Store bok choy in a zip bag and remove any extra air. Toss it in the crisper and serve within about a week.

Pick up some bok choy and serve it up with this classic Ellipse Ginger Chicken Recipe! This tasty meal combines chicken breast, bok choy, ginger, leeks, orange, lentils and curry!

Kohlrabi

Stock up now! The bulbs do great in the refrigerator for quite some time, but you’ll want to use/process the stems and stalks right away as they will get limp otherwise. Kohlrabi is in the “brassica” family which is the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts. Kohlrabi stems can be used raw in salads like kale, but more commonly the kohlrabi bulb can be peeled and eaten raw (tastes great with hummus or ranch too!) or shredded into a coleslaw.

Try roasting kohlrabi! It’s fantastic! A simple recipe can be found here.

What are you waiting for?? Go shopping and get to eating!!

100 Workout Challenge 2019!

100 WORKOUT CHALLENGE STARTS JULY 1!

Get 100 workouts in before 2020 and win big!

Not only do we offer a little incentive, but you will win big results, heaps of confidence, and a newfound drive to be your best self!

So many of our veterans started out with a 100 Workout Challenge and they are STILL going strong years later! Sound Unattainable?

*At just 4 workouts per week you will hit your 100 by New Years – with a couple of slush days to spare!*

*Are you a “first or last” competitor?? At 6 days a week you can crank out 100 workouts before HALLOWEEN! Think you’re up to the challenge?

Green Bay area:  SIGN ME UP NOW!

St. Louis area:  SIGN ME UP NOW!

 

Members need only pick up a card at the front desk.

See yourself in the mirror the way you dream to see yourself in your head!

What is “Activated Charcoal” Anyway?

What is activated charcoal?

Today, activated charcoal is “trendy” and can be found highlighted in health and beauty products from toothpaste to body wash. It can also be purchased in capsule or powder form that can now be found in many retail stores as well as online. It’s a form of carbon that is porous that allows for chemical reactions and has most commonly been used for water filtration and as a treatment for poisoning. This week we’ll look at how it works, if it’s safe, and more!

Is It Safe?

You might think to yourself, “is it carcinogenic?” No.

This is different than burned food type charcoal or the charcoal lumps you use in your grill (above). Activated charcoal is created from a variety of wood, bamboo and/or coconut shells; which is burned anaerobically; without oxygen. Hot gas is used to convert it into charcoal. Hot air/oxygen is then used to blow out the gases and leave a porous charcoal.

How Does It Work?

Charcoal becomes “Activated” when steam or hot air is used to erode its internal surface. This increases its ability to bind to other things.

Vocab Word! Adsorption – This is when toxins/elements bind to the surface of the charcoal. Activated charcoal has a porous surface that is negatively charged. Positively charged toxins bond to it and it aids them in safely leaving the body. It’s been said that charcoal can attract 100 times its weight in actual toxic material! (according to www.beatcancer.org).

What Are The PROs & CONs?

PRO:

Activated charcoal has been used for years to absorb toxins from drug overdoses and poison ingestion. Some suggest activated charcoal can ease digestion, reduce gas (like beano before a gassy meal), lower cholesterol, prevent/treat stomach bugs and eliminate diarrhea. They have also long been used as water filters. The “extras” in water attach to the porous surface of the charcoal to clean up your water. Just be sure to replace your filters…it’s not just a suggestion! Once the porous surface is filled with toxins, it can’t hold any more and the filter is no longer working.

CON:

Just like activated charcoal can absorb toxins, it can also absorb other things you may not be aware of, like medication. It has been seen to limit the effectiveness of birth control, and some other vitamins/nutrients. In the pros, it was mentioned that activated charcoal can ease diarrhea, but it can also possibly cause vomiting and constipation at high doses.

No matter the dose, be sure to consume plenty of water if you choose to supplement with activated charcoal, and as always – solicit an opinion from your Primary Care Physician!

Summary

Like anything, do your homework and make an informed choice. Science hasn’t had a chance to dive deep into activated charcoal yet to prove its pros and cons outside of poison treatment.

Want to try it out? You can try to using it to whiten your teeth! Check out this link below to learn how to use an old toothbrush and a capsule of activated charcoal – which will absorbs the plaque! Just keep in mind – charcoal is black, so it looks a little funny at first!

https://www.mamanatural.com/charcoal-teeth-whitening/

National Hamburger Day, National Olive Day, and MORE!

This week in addition to Memorial Day we had some very strange national holidays that we thought it’d be fun to talk about and offer some nutritional suggestions with! First let’s talk about the one we are probably all familiar with:

Memorial Day

Today we honor those who died in active military service. By 1890, every former state of the union recognized Memorial Day, but just those that died in the Civil War. This didn’t start to change until after World War I. While remembering the real reasons for today’s holiday, many will kick off the summer and picnic season. Don’t let your goals fall by the wayside.

Give some of your picnic classics, like potato salad, a twist! Instead of a mayo-based potato salad, try swapping out plain Greek yogurt. Check out this link for a great potato salad recipe made with yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and fresh dill to get that classic flavor.

Want more? Here’s 8 things you might not know about Memorial Day!

National Hamburger Day

Now of course, this plays off Memorial Day nicely as the picnic season has jumped into full gear. Hamburgers CAN be a part of a healthy diet. Consider what parts may derail you, like a huge doughy bun, perhaps a slew of condiments, that slathered cheese, or maybe it’s the side dishes.

Find the biggest offender and make a healthy swap. Small changes can lead to big results. Change out the bun or consider eating it open-faced. Can’t toss the bun quite yet? Try a sprouted grain bun. Looking for something a little new? Check out Smart Baking Company for some low calorie, low carb bun and snack options.

*BONUS*
Here’s a review by our very own Heather Trevarthen:

“First – Buns. I tried the sesame seed buns. I tried a bite just plain. They definitely have a different taste. I wasn’t sure I would love it with a burger so played it safe by toasting it. Toasted, I thought it was a great alternative!

Second – snack cakes. OMG…these are delicious. Low cal, low carb, low glycemic index, and protein from their main ingredient of egg whites! These are light, fluffy, and full of flavor. Loved them. Kids loved them too! I gave them a bite and then hoarded the rest for myself. LOL!”

So, here’s a purchase link that will get you 10% off when used with promo code: EllipseAllouez

If you try them, please let us know your review!

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

Many of us have a “senior” in our lives and all of us want ourselves and our loved ones to age gracefully. Reportedly, 86% of hip fractures occur in men and women 65 and older, and after a hip fracture general life expectancy diminishes. (Source)

Seniors can protect themselves from injury by incorporating good nutrition, aerobic training, strength training, and balance work into their daily life. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Encouraging simple things like balancing on one foot for x amount of time or squatting to a chair (for safety) will help make these movements a part of their routine. Encourage good nutrition by sharing your healthy picnic sides, from this week, to introduce easy nutrition transformations.

National Olive Day

Rejoice olive lovers, olives have a laundry list of health benefits! Olives contain only 4-6% carbs which is almost all fiber. Olives are an unusual fruit (yes a fruit since they grow from a tree and have a pit; they are a stone fruit like a plum) with their high fat content. The fat in olives is heavy in oleic acid which has been shown to decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. Go ahead and spread that olive tapenade on your wrap or toss some olives in your next picnic side dish!

It’s Picnic Season!

It’s picnic season and you may be looking for some picnic salads or a dish to pass without sabotaging your nutrition goals with another fruit fluff dessert or mayo laden salad! Do your research and find a couple recipes that are a “Safe bet”. Bring a dish that you know you is a healthy option and load your plate up with that one first and choose wisely among the rest.

Not sure where to start? Give this salad recipe a shot: red potatoes, onions, and sweet peppers tossed with a delicious sauce of apple cider vinegar, white wine, chicken broth, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Picnic ready!

For even more search the blog for a bunch of great recipes! Simply search for an ingredient or even the word “salad”. Search for Cabbage and you’ll find a great Kale and Cabbage Slaw recipe: kale + green and red cabbage tossed with a delicious sauce. Yum!

Shake the Afternoon Slump!

During our onboarding process, we have found that many people indicate the termed “afternoon slump”.

You know, that tired feeling like you would just love a quick nap to be able to finish out the day. There is good news! For the most part, this is normal, but there are things to consider and ways to help combat it. This week we’ll chat about afternoon slumps!

Get Some Sunshine!

You might be able to cure this simply by listening to some upbeat music and/or getting out in the sunshine for a few minutes for a quick boost!

Was it my lunch?

Maybe, maybe not. Research has shown that the slump can even happen without having eaten lunch. However, keeping a level glycemic load in the body can help offset a natural afternoon slump. You need a proper balance of carbs, protein, and fats. A high carb lunch can set you up for a quick drive in energy, but you will quickly find the drop that follows it. Also, make sure you stay hydrated! Even a 1.5% drop in hydration can cause drowsiness.

Was it a poor night’s sleep?

Could be! CHRONIC afternoon slumps or general sleepiness could indicate a medical condition (like a metabolic disorder, PCOS, or sleep apnea) or medication side effects. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have chronic fatigue.

Medical conditions aside, a poor night’s sleep can come back to bite you in the afternoon. Adult bodies need 7-9 hours of QUALITY and UNINTERRUPTED sleep to allow it to run through its full recovery process (mentally and physically!). A quick 10-minute power nap can help with that afternoon slump, though. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into a longer nap which can interrupt a normal night’s sleep.

I had a healthy lunch – what’s wrong with me?

You’re human! The human body runs in a circadian rhythm. By nature, the body naturally dips in energy between midnight and daybreak, then again, a smaller dip between 2p and 4p. Just like near bedtime, your core body temperature drops signaling to your brain that it’s time to sleep – a smaller version of that happens midafternoon. This will typically result in a quick drop in energy, alertness, and focus. As you age, the mid-afternoon slump will likely be more noticeable than in younger years.

TIP: Your body associate’s stillness with sleep. Been sitting a long time? Get up and move around!

It’s the afternoon and it hit me! Now what?

Well maybe we should start with what won’t work? A quick sugar high like a Mountain Dew, candy bar, or a triple shot of mocha in your coffee. These will simply exaggerate your energy very briefly before causing an even bigger dip/low point.

Caffeine can certainly offer some aid, remember to try and keep a full day’s caffeine load to 400mg or less.

What else CAN help? A short bout of exercise like going for a walk or jog. Exercise can produce endorphins and release tension which can offset fatigue.

In the end, get a good night’s sleep, eat well, exercise, and listen to your body! Or, go work for the Huffington Post where they offer “The Oasis”…sleep pods for their employees!

I work shift work. What about me?

Night shifts and swing shifts are tough on the body in regard to circadian rhythm (mentioned above). “Afternoon slump” aside, non-traditional job hours still require a good 7-9 hours of sleep each day otherwise you will fall into a sleep-debt mode that needs to be fulfilled as soon as possible to prevent the increased likeliness of disease.

With night shifts, do not delay going to bed when you are tired! The longer you delay, the more alert you will become. Still try to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, putting your phone on “do not disturb”.

Some other tricks are to eat a small snack before bed and making sure your sleep environment is quiet, dark, and cool.

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!

Chronic Pain: What We Know And How To Manage It!

Chronic Pain

It’s important to note that all pain is real! Chronic pain is not “all in your head.” It is pain that persists beyond the acute stage (greater than two months). It often occurs independent of actual tissue damage, meaning that there is no damage to muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, etc that is causing the pain.

Chronic pain involves changes that occur within the brain in response to pain that lasts for long periods of time. Areas in the brain that are not associated with perceiving pain begin to perceive signals as pain – meaning that activities that should not cause pain are now painful! This can significantly affect the quality of one’s life.

Chronic pain affects almost 1 in 3 people worldwide! The cost in the US is about $600 billion annually for medical treatment, lost wages, and lost work time. Chronic pain is the most common reason to seek treatment and the most common reason for disability and addiction. The cost of treatment for chronic pain in the US is even greater than those for cancer, heart disease, dementia, and diabetes care.

Currently, chronic pain is not managed well by healthcare providers. A common treatment is the use of opioids. Opioids (e.g. codeine, morphine, hydrocodone (Norco), oxycodone, fentanyl) are meant for short term management of acute pain. They are not meant for long term management of chronic pain. Medication alone cannot treat chronic pain. When other treatments are added in addition to medication, outcomes are shown to be better. Some people on long term opioid treatment actually experience the side effect of hyperalgesia (or hypersensitivity) which increases pain!

How to Manage

There are several other ways to manage chronic pain in addition to medication.

Exercise – start with light, painfree activities and increase as you are able

Reduce stress as stress causes increased inflammation which can lead to increased pain

Learn more about your condition – learn how others manage to control their pain and maintain their function

Keep up with normal activities as much as possible

Improve your overall health

Avoid bed rest and inactivity – Bed rest will not improve your pain and may make it worse, as it leads to other problems such as weakness, weight gain, and poor circulation.

Consume an anti-inflammatory diet
– Emphasizes plant-based foods and anti-inflammatory spices: turmeric, ginger
– Nutrient deficiency is common in chronic pain and can be worsened by long term use of analgesics (common deficiencies include vitamin D and magnesium)
– Make sure you have the correct intake of omega 3 fatty acids

Make sure you are hydrated
– Dehydration can amplify chronic pain symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, joint stiffness, and fatigue
– Proper hydration is key in managing pain and improving our body’s function
– Caffeine intake to address loss of sleep, fatigue, and headaches can contribute to dehydration
– The recommendation for appropriate amount of water varies but 64 oz is a great place to start

Make sure you are getting enough sleep
– Position modification
– Stretching before bed
– See if there are other factors other than pain that are contributing to loss of sleep
– Caffeine intake
– Stimulants such as light or noise
– Use of cell phones or other electronics prior to bed

Physical therapy or occupational therapy to increase strength, increase mobility, and improve function as well as to address pain

Be your own advocate when seeking treatment. Only you know what you are feeling and how it affects you. Work to find the treatment that is best for you!

This blog was specially written by our friend and guest writer Rachel Zimmerman, DPT.

Rachel is clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy in Green Bay, WI. You can find out more about her clinic or find a location near you at ATIpt.com!

The Selfish Reason You Should Volunteer!

Life is busy. It is for everyone. BUT…our community wouldn’t be a community at all without everyone doing their part and chipping in! Not only is volunteering important to make our community a better place, but volunteering can have a slew of health benefits. Check this out!

Volunteering can can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, provide a sense of purpose, connect you to others, add fulfillment to your life, and even be FUN! This week we are going to dive more into the health benefits of volunteering and where you can volunteer and how to get started!

The Selfish Case For Volunteering

1. It Makes You Happy!

By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering increases self-confidence. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals!

2. It Preserves Your Health!

Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death in the U.S.!

3. It Keeps You Moving!

Tough Schedule? Instead of volunteering for an organization, you could always do something yourself like take time to go pick up trash from a park or by a river or on a beach. Set up some garbage or recycle bins on places that might not have them like walking trails or outdoor places.

4. It Fosters Connections and Purpose!

Volunteering can help you make new friends with similar interests! Not ready to go at it on your own? Grab your family, kids, friends, etc! Set an example for others. Change drives change!

Find something that works for you and something that will provide a sense of purpose, something that resonates with your soul. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries and add a sense of purpose and value.

Now What?

How do I get started?

ASK! Ask your friends, schools, work, do some research online, etc.

For our members in Northeast Wisconsin, you can look into: The NEW ZOO, the CP center, Botanical Gardens, Golden House, Paul’s Pantry, St Vincent de Paul, or in St Louis The Ronald McDonald House (www.rmhcstl.com/‎) and so many more! The possibilities are endless.

Check out The Volunteer Center of Green Bay. https://www.volunteergb.org/ or Volunteer Match in St. Louis www.volunteermatch.org/St_Louis/Volunteering‎.

Your local United Way is also a great resource. United Way of Brown County or United Way St. Louis.

Additional Resources

We have a good list of suggestions to begin with for you here, but of course there are incredible numbers of organizations doing good for your local community, and they almost all could use a helping hand!

Do you love to garden? Check out the botanical gardens. Green BaySt Louis or check out The Farmory in Green Bay or the Food Bank in St. Louis.

Have a passion for cooking? Help prepare food at the homeless shelter or drive for meals on wheels. You can check out other opportunities through the county Aging & Disability Resource Center.

Perhaps consider contributing to a better world on a small scale, by being a mentor to children by partnering up with a “little” through Big Brother’s Big Sisters. Or in St Louis at the Crisis Nursery!

Prefer a “Hands On” approach? Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity! One of the many jobs at the Habitat for Humanity store is lifting and carrying items to and from the customers car and merchandise preparation. On a build site, volunteers lift, climb, and walk during construction tasks staying very active! Take a look at www.habitat.org to locate opportunities to help in your area.