Lifestyle

Wait…Chocolate is Good For Your Heart??

Ok, we kind of made you look…even though it is true! But that’s not really what this post is ALL about. We want to talk about heart health this week, and rightfully so! It is STILL the leading cause of death here in the United States and has been for almost 100 years!

What You Need to Know

What happens after your first heart attack?

Within FIVE YEARS of your first heart attack, the mortality rate for men is 36% in 5 years and 47% for women. During heart month, and all year long, love your heart by taking a look at the foods you eat, moving more/being more active, increasing your “good” cholesterol (HDL), reducing your “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and stop smoking if you do!

What role does my diet play?

Trans fats (deep fried foods and baked goods), processed meats, and added sugar and significantly increase our changes for cardiovascular disease. And although not a “food”, limiting alcohol intake will make your heart happier by limiting the weight gain that can accompany it and reduce its effect on blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day and women no more than one according to the American Heart Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Feed your heart some of these heart healthy foods – leafy greens (hey vitamin k!), fatty fish (hello omega-3’s!), berries (hi antioxidants!), beans/legumes (yo resistant starch!), seeds and nuts (thanks healthy fat!) and yes, you were waiting for it…DARK CHOCOLATE (thank you flavonoids, we love you too.)

What about exercise?

Moving more is good for the heart. Do you have an exercise tracker? Take a look to see what your average number of steps per day is. See if you can take on a challenge to increase those steps by 1000 per day. As you find success, try to build up to 10,000 or more steps a day. Find a heart-healthy workout right here!

Well I just have a little high blood pressure…

High blood pressure is a controllable factor and one, without intervention, that can lead to heart disease. Stress can lead to a slew of health conditions, but also affect our heart with hypertension. Although the link between stress and heart disease aren’t fully clear yet, we do know stress affects more than just the heart and we DO have clarity in strategies for controlling stress in a healthy way (AKA not with alcohol). A healthy diet, exercising, yoga, meditation, laughing, connecting with a friend and deep breathing are all proven techniques/tips to lower stress. Try to find the strategy that work best for you and IMPLEMENT it! Your heart will thank you.

PSA

Take care of your heart! Although it takes some effort to eat well, exercise and keep stress under control, it will also increase the duration of your life! A life that someone else may not have had the chance to have…

22 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant and 75 lives can be saved by ONE donor. We do not always have the luxury of choosing our challenges in life. Some of us may never have a great heart no matter how much we exercise. What would you give for one more day with someone you love that has passed? What would you do for someone you love that is waiting?

Don’t wait until you are in need or someone asks you.

Sign up today!

https://www.midamericatransplant.org/register
or
https://www.donatelife.net/register

What the “Sitting-Rising” Test Tells You About Your Life Expectancy

In 2012 a research team designed the “sitting-rising” exercise that seemed to predict mortality in those 51 – 80 years old. Over 2000 adults were tested. Essentially it tests strength as well as hip mobility and how it may be related to mortality.

According to the CDC, over 61% of U.S. residents over 65 died from fall-related causes in 2016. Although there are other factors that can come into play, it’s a good reminder that moving well is just as important as other aspects of health/fitness (like heart-health, body composition, muscular strength, bone density, etc).

What is the sitting-rising test?

Sit on the ground and cross your legs. Try standing up from the cross-leg position without touching the ground. Success? Cross your legs the other way and try again!

Start with a score of 10

Subtract 1 point for each time a body part other than your feet touches the ground

Subtract 1 point for placing hand on the knee

Subtract 0.5 points for loss of balance

Interested in other self-tests? Check out this great article!

I took the test…now what?

Bottom line: if you don’t continue to move and put your body through different ranges of mobility, it will go away. Have aches and pains with movement? Try these tips!

1. Start with your feet!

Go barefoot, roll your feet with a tennis ball, walk on a rock mat, give your feet a daily massage/”gymnastics”. Take care of your feet! They are the gateway to your body.

2. Change the way you sit!

When we sit a lot, we tighten our hip flexors which causes the glutes to lengthen and compensate (which can often result in back pain). Our core strength can also be diminished.

Rather than sitting at a computer or on the couch watching TV, try squatting, using a stability ball, using a tall-kneeling position, using a half-kneeling position, sitting back on the heels and/or a combination of all the above.

Offset tight hip flexors and underactive glutes by adding in single leg hip lifts into your exercise routine a number of times per week.

3. Get more mobile!

Are you mobile enough? Another simple test to check your general strength and mobility is to place your feet next to each other and squat down, keeping your heels on the ground. The movement should be simple and pretty effortless.

Today, RIGHT NOW, add some hip mobility into your day with 5-10 reps of “The World’s Greatest Stretch”.

4. Train the postural muscles!

Try sitting on the edge of your chair to keep challenging your body and core strength. Start with 1 minute, and add an extra minute every day for a month. In no time you will be watching an entire episode of your favorite TV show on the edge of your seat with little effort!

How NOT to Fail at Your New Year’s Resolution

We’re well into the new year. Did you set a new year resolution? Merriam-Webster defines the new year’s resolution as “a promise to do something differently in the new year.”

More than 80% of all New Year’s Resolutions fail. Why? Perhaps they weren’t SMART.

SMART goals are:

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time bound

Let these guide your new year’s resolution or any goal you are looking to achieve this year.

SPECIFIC

Goals look good on paper and tend to be based on norms or societal demands. “Lose weight. Tone up. Get healthy” Set more PERSONAL goals! What do YOU want? Don’t conform. Change! The best way to do this is to ask one very important question regarding your goal…

WHY? Dig deep. Once a sincere, personal goal has been established and the motivation behind it is understood. “I get regular headaches. I will drink an additional 12 ounces of water each day. Maybe they are hydration related?” Once your goal is determined, make sure it is specific and there are steps laid out as to HOW you will achieve it. “I bought a new 12 ounce water bottle that I will fill and carry with me each day until I drink it all.”

MEASUREABLE

A measurable goal ensures that it can be truly attained. Are you going to “drink more water” every day? Being measurable means a goal would be something more like, “I will drink at least 90 ounces of water each day, not including my food, coffee, etc.” Measuring your goal makes it easier to track and know if you have achieved it.

ATTAINABLE

Goals should be reasonably possible, not setting yourself up for failure. Goals should be set to add a positive swing to our lives, not a punishment. If you set a goal of “working out every day”, first that’s not very specific, but also, is it even attainable? Do you have a family, kids, a full work schedule, volunteering, and other commitments? Daily workouts just may not be feasible without causing stress that can lead to other health problems. If you currently work out 3x/week, may your goal is looking at adding in that 4th day, but make sure you have steps in place for how that will look and feel. Maybe that 4th “workout” means you are adding in a 30-minute walk every week to de-stress, walk the dog, or walk with your significant other. Make your goal attainable and relevant to your life.

RELEVANT

Don’t set a goal just because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Set a goal that will make a positive impact on your quality of life.

Do you have high blood pressure? Set a goal that will aid in helping your blood pressure.

Need to lower your BMI for health reasons? Create a nutrition and/or fitness goal.

Ready to finally carve out “me time”? Book your workout sessions two weeks in advance and don’t break your appointment with yourself. Put it on your calendar as a recurring appointment.

TIME-BOUND

One of the biggest reasons New Year’s Resolutions specifically fail so regularly is because you have SO MUCH time to complete them! It’s great to also set long-term goals, but you need short-term steps you can take NOW, otherwise it is likely you will procrastinate to the point of the goal becoming just another thing you DIDN’T do.

In the case of adding water each day, set an attainable time of completing the goal for 6-weeks. You will likely find that it has become a new good habit that you can continue with and build on! Set your SMART GOAL TODAY if you haven’t yet!

What a Decade of Studies Tells Us About Men’s and Women’s Nutrition

Our friends at Precision Nutrition have worked with over 100,000 clients in the past decade. Over the past year, they created a report on the top health nutritional challenges and how to work with them. Here are some things they found…

Women

70.2%
Said their top challenge was emotional/stress eating

52%
Eat 3 or more restaurant meals every week

50%
Get less than the minimum 7 hours of sleep per night

18%
The percentage INCREASE among women snacking when not hungry

60.2%
Say daily life demands keep them from exercising consistently

Men

59.9%
Said their top challenge was eating too quickly

69%
Eat 3 or more restaurant meals every week

50%
Get less than the minimum 7 hours of sleep per night

30%
The percentage INCREASE among women snacking when not hungry

61.4%
Say daily life demands keep them from exercising consistently

While there are some slight differences between men and women, it is clear they struggle over many of the same issues. Most people want to not just lose weight, but also be consistent and have changes that last. Let’s look at our challenges and figure out how to work toward our GOALS and snowball good habits.

What is ONE thing you can focus on improving NOW, in January. On trouble with “New Year’s Resolutions” is that you have too long to put it off! Set a GOAL of January 31 st to form it into a regular habit.

Need Some Help?

Here are some easy-to-handle goals to start with.

1. Drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning before you even eat breakfast.

2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.

3. Get out of bed the FIRST time your alarm goes off.

4. Book your workouts at least 1 week prior and keep your appointment.

5. Eat an extra serving of vegetables every day.

6. Eat more whole foods (fresh fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein) to prevent hunger and reduce over-consumption. If you catch yourself mindlessly eating/snacking, get a change of scenery. Go for a walk, go fill your water, make a phone call, get outside, etc.

7. Cook More! Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or take forever. Learn to make 8-10 basic, yet tasty, healthy meals that you can rotate or rely on.

8. Focus on progress, not perfection. Coming late to a workout is better than not attending at all. Eating right 5 days a week is better than 3 days. We’re all human! If you fail, resolve yourself to try again!

9. Create a bedtime routine that will help you “zone out” and bring stress levels down before bedtime. Try to keep the same bedtime and wake times, even on the weekends, to help solidify your routine. This assists with the circadian rhythm and keep hormone levels balanced, which will ultimately assist with hunger and satiation cues.

It’s Time for Celebration! Recipes and Fun Facts About The Holidays

Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Years…family in town, travelling, parties, and more! We’ve got you covered this holiday season.

Hanukkah!

Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, is the Jewish festival of lights and commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Army. The celebration which begins today and lasts 8 days is in honor of the one-day supply of oil that miraculously lasted 8 days to light the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Also in commemoration of the oil is eating many foods cooked in oil, but! You can still celebrate with a healthy twist to the traditional latkes (laat-kuhz) with

Cauliflower Latkes: Pulse 2 cups of cauliflower in a food processor to turn it into “rice” (or just buy riced cauliflower). Microwave the “rice” for 2 minutes and squeeze out the extra moisture. Saute onion in a skillet until golden brown. Form patties of the “rice”, onions, breadcrumbs, egg, and seasonings and pan fry in light oil. Serve with Greek yogurt and applesauce.

Get the complete recipe here!

Christmas!

Frankly, we have given you lots of Christmas recipes, tips and tricks about surviving the holiday, and more. But if you missed your Christmas Day workout, we’ve got you covered with a classic Ellipse at-home workout right here!

Kwanzaa!

Kwanzaa starts today and goes through January 1. Kwanzaa is an African American celebration of culture, started in 1966 during the civil rights movement. Each day focuses on a different theme: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The holiday is celebrated with food, candle-lighting, symbols placed around the home, singing, dancing and a traditional meal.

Fun fact: Kwanzaa has two a’s. One is kwanza – a monetary unit.

New Years!

New Year’s Eve and Day are just around the corner. New Year’s is often about the party and celebration of the new year coming in. What does 2020 mean for you? What is your goal for 2020? Muddle through the year just like 2019? Or is there something bigger?

Not sure? How about some of these?

• Commit to learn something new every day/week.
• Have an extra serving of vegetables each day.
• Commit to x number of days at the gym.
• Volunteer at least once a month.

Find a goal that resonates with you but is also achievable with where your life is at. Make 2020 a year to remember!

No matter your reason for celebrating, we hope you are sharing with the ones you love! Have family staying with you this holiday week or just looking to get back to some “normal” eating?

Try this SLOW ROASTED Parfait!

Combine black and red grapes with Stevia, or sweetener of choice and spread on a baking sheet to bake at 200 degrees for 3 hours. Remove and cool. Then layer grapes on top of some plain Greek yogurt and top with some walnuts and honey. Serving guests? Make it fancy by adding as layers in a glass serving cup. Full recipe is on today’s blog and searchable with the words “breakfast parfait” – or follow this link!

Menopause: What Are You In For?

Menopause is one of the most common things members ask us about, so we decided to dedicate this week’s blog post to it! As a member once put it…”let’s talk about the miracle of menopause!” (she may have said it with a little sarcasm)

So, whether you’re already there, or just want to know what to expect – let’s look forward!

What Comes First?

Perimenopause is when menopause symptoms begin appearing but is not formally menopause (defined as not having a period for 12 months in a row) and generally happens in the 40s. Menopause can happen really any time between the 40s and 60s and begins at different times for different people.

What Can I Expect?

Menopause has a laundry list of potential symptoms: bladder control/infections, body composition changes, brain fog, change in breast health, changes in digestion, vertigo…and more.

Symptoms like these and hot flashes can lead to poor sleep, which compounds all sorts of issues. If you are not sleeping well, take your exercise intensity down until you are sleeping well so you can recover properly from your workouts. During menopause and in the ageing process, with a lack of sleep, the body likely doesn’t have enough growth hormone or testosterone available to grow muscle. The problem that happens is that until this age, many women find they know how much exercise and intensity their body needs without realizing their needs are changing as they age. Be open to trying new regimens!

Why Is Exercise Important?

As part of aging and post menopause, women are also more at risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis. Exercise, including strength training and high/low impact weight bearing exercises, can help ward off bone loss that happens and reduce the risk for fractures and breaks during a fall.

Aim for 30-minutes per day, 5 days per week, of moderate cardio, strength training, plus deep breathing/yoga exercises to reduce stress and other menopausal symptoms. Too much high intensity work could lead to an increase in cortisol and insulin disruption due to the hormonal changes during menopause. Consider taking a day off here and there (just adjust your calorie intake accordingly).

Flashback to about a month ago when we talked about the different types of strength training. Middle-aged women need a balance of hypertrophy, strength, and power training to offset the muscle loss and fat gain. Women generally gain around 1.5 pounds per year in their 50s and 60s from the disruption of leptin and ghrelin, our hunger hormones, thanks to a reduction in estrogen during menopause. You may need to cut around 200 calories per day to ward off fat gain because of the natural metabolic decline.

What About Diet?

A 2018 study indicated that menopausal women who ate more fruits and vegetables had less menopause symptoms (like hot flashes and night sweats) than those who ate a higher fat and higher sugar diet. The increased vitamins, nutrients, and fiber can aid in preventing the weight increase that is associated with menopause. Keep in mind that this is new territory, with a new hormonal environment. What once worked pre-menopause may not work for you anymore. Be open to guess and check strategies to see what the new normal is for your body, sleep, exercise, nutrition, and weight management.

In summary, help reduce the effects of aging and menopause with quality nutrition, exercise, balancing stress, being mindful of alcohol consumption, and getting enough sleep. Heading into menopause with a healthy body composition and healthy eating habits will help ease the inflammation and hormone imbalance that accompanies menopause, so it is not too early to start preparing for the future!

Think Sleep is Important? Think Again!

We all know sleep is important, but you may not know the half of it! Disordered sleep has an incredible negative impact on all sorts of facets of your health!

Why Is Sleep Important?

A good night’s sleep is essential for our overall well being. In fact, it’s as important as healthy nutrition and regular exercising.

However, our to-do list is becoming longer and longer each day, and sometimes 24 hours just isn’t enough to take care of all our responsibilities! Because of this, we sometimes neglect the importance of sleep, and the question is: how long our body can put up with this new and fast way of life?

Facts About Sleep You Didn’t Know

Did you know that between 50 and 70 million people in the United States have chronic sleep disorders and that the number hits more than 2 billion people worldwide? People suffer from a variety of sleep issues that are either connected to the lack of sleep or some health problems.

More than 35% of the people in the US get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, and about 45% of them reported that inadequate sleep affected their daytime activities.

1. You Can Gain Weight Because of the Poor Sleep

Poor sleep is strongly linked with gaining weight. Sleep deprivation causes changes in hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. In fact, sleep deprivation is one of the greatest risk factors for obesity.

Children who don’t get enough sleep at night are 89% more likely to be obese, and adults are 55% more likely. Furthermore, less sleep lowers your energy and motivation for exercising, which also leads to unwanted weight.

To stay fit and healthy, it’s crucial to get enough sleep at night (between 7 and 9 hours).

2. Good Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity

Sleep has a huge impact on brain functions. These include cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.

A study conducted on medical interns showed that interns who had an extended schedule of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns who had more time to sleep. Another study showed that sleep deprivation could have the same impact on the brain as alcohol intoxication.

On the other hand, enough good-quality sleep can improve problem-solving skills and memory performance in both children and adults.

3. Sleep Improves Your Immune System

Even a small loss of sleep could decrease the strength of our immune system. A two-week-long study showed that people who slept for less than seven hours per night were almost three times more likely to get a cold than people who got eight or more hours of sleep.

The study was done after 14 days when people were given nasal drops of a cold virus. If you often get colds and you’re tired of it, getting more than eight hours of sleep at night could be very helpful.

4. Sleep Has a Huge Effect on Emotions and Social Interactions

Less sleep decreases the motivation for social interactions. One study showed that people who didn’t get enough sleep were less able to recognize facial expressions, happiness, and anger in other people. Researchers believe that sleep deprivation affects our ability to recognize important social signs and process emotional information.

The Bottom Line

Getting enough sleep is very important. It’s not only important for our social interactions, but also for our health. Try getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night and see how your life gets better!

Want more? Check out this infographic here: Sleep Stats and Facts

5 Reasons to Get Fit THIS FALL!

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

1. Fighting the Winter Flu

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

2. Beauty of Autumn

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

3. Resist Fall Comfort Food

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

4. Make Use of an Empty Schedule

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

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

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

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

Is it Self-Care? Self-Comfort? or Self-Indulgence?

Self-care

It’s a buzz word of sorts today, but what is it?

Self-care is about recognizing the needs of your mind, body, and spirit and feeding those needs through physical, mental, and emotional health. Self-care is individual, as it is whatever takes you closer to your goals. For some, self-care might mean getting in their 64-ounces of water a day to ensure they don’t get a migraine. For others it might be finding a quiet place to be by themselves each day to simply hear their own thoughts for 10-15 minutes. Maybeeee…it’s as simple as eating slowly and truly tasting your food!

There are different areas of self-care, and it goes beyond physical:

Physical

Hello! Fitness! But also, getting enough sleep and recovery.

Emotional

How do you deal with stress? How do you show love to yourself?

Social

How do you form meaningful connections with those around you? How do you set appropriate boundaries in your relationships?

Intellectual

When do you make time to try new things or to challenge your brain? Human beings thrive off of novelty! It is important to engage your intellect in new and different ways.

Spiritual

What gives you a sense of purpose? How do you tap into your deepest motivation and gain satisfaction in your life?

Self-Care vs Self-Indulgence

Self-care needs to be separated from self-comfort and self-indulgence. Self-comfort might be choices that do NOT move you forward, or toward your goal, but do make you feel better in the moment…such as skipping your workout or to have “just one more” drink with your coworkers.

Self-indulgence would be going “all in” on self-comfort which often turns into a downward spiral. Instead of that comforting glass of wine, it turns into most or all of a bottle. Wake up groggy, skip morning workout, give into cravings and eat crappy breakfast of simple carbohydrates and regret the rest of your day.

Make sure to distinguish between self-care (good!) vs self-comfort (be careful) vs self-indulgent (destructive).

Ask yourself a few questions to determine if your choices are self-care or self-comfort/indulgent.

1) Does this choice move me closer to my goal/desired outcome?
2) What choices provide self-comfort but just aren’t worth it? Or which ones are?
3) Which choices are probably more self-indulgent and how can I reframe that to be self-care?

Let’s Recap

We’ve heard self-care with regards to scheduling a massage, your workout, etc, but let’s think out of the box for a moment.

Are you always time crunched?

1) Maybe spend the few extra dollars to order your groceries online and let a service like Shipt deliver your groceries or use your free Target/Amazon shipping options to save yourself that time running errands.
2) Are you a part of the “bargain basement” flight deals through Frontier and other airlines? Maybe self-care is literally hopping on a plane for a cheap weekend getaway! It doesn’t always have to be exotic, sometimes “anywhere but here” is just about letting go of your daily responsibilities for a couple days.
3) Or, if you have kids, maybe it’s time to set some family house rules and everyone share in their part of cleaning, organizing, laundry, etc. Did I hear chore chart? Quit doing everything yourself!

Back to School Timesaver Tips and Tricks

The end of Summer brings bittersweet changes for some! Whether kids are going back to school, outdoor activities are coming to an end, work is picking up, etc you will want to have some strategies for keeping up with your fitness routine!

Book Your Sessions!

Let’s start today by booking your sessions for the entire week – or 2 or 3 weeks! Not 100% sure? Bookings can be cancelled up to 15 minutes before via the Ellipse App if need be, so set that intention of coming!

Food Prep!

Plan ahead! For those of you with school-age kids going back to early mornings rushing around to get things ready, start food prepping on the weekend! Go spend $10 on Tupperware if you don’t have enough and pre-package snacks and lunches for the kids – and/or yourself! – so you can quickly grab in the morning and be on your way.

Dress Prep!

What?! Do your kids still let you dress them? Take advantage of it! Step your clothing prep up to the level of your food prep! Lay out clothes for the whole week – maybe place them in a Ziplock bag in a particular dresser drawer with the day of the week labelled on it. Get creative!

Winter is coming! Install some hooks by the door you exit every morning, so coats and jackets are on hand! Think you are too old for this yourself? Give it a shot and see if your morning is a little less stressful with one less thing to do!

Schedule The Coffee!

One of the biggest reasons people skip workouts during schedule transitions? TIME. “If only I had more time!” Save yourself 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there and give yourself a chance for success. If you don’t have one already, there are very affordable coffee-makers that have the ability to schedule ahead! Prep the filter, coffee and water the night before, schedule your time and wake up to fresh brewed coffee. One less thing to do!

Gradually Adjust Your Sleep!

Get back to a regular sleep schedule and maybe even start going to sleep a little bit earlier starting this week so you can get the morning started right! If you really want to free your day up, get in here at 5 or 6 am for that morning work out!

Sync The Family!

Share a Google Calendar to put all the family events on. Stay organized! Especially kids old enough to have their own phone. This can really be a game changer. Get them to put their own stuff on there and help your family stay on track together!