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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

How To Stay Well When Everyone Else is Sick!

Sickness is running rampant this time of year. Colds and multiple strains of the flu are just the most well-known. Take your health into your own hands by taking preventative measures.

Step 1: Keep Your Hands Clean!

Washing your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, is the most effective in reducing the spread of germs and bacteria.

Keep hand sanitizer with you for when soap and water aren’t available. Make sure to find sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. If your hands tend to get dried out, be sure to get sanitizer with vitamin E added.

Try this DIY spray: In a 2 ounce spray bottle, combine 2 Tablespoons of witch hazel with aloe or Vodka (!), a few drops of Vitamin E to keep hands from drying out, 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil blends, and top off with distilled water.

Prefer a gel sanitizer? Try ½ c Aloe, 1 tsp witch hazel, 1 tsp vitamin E, and ½ tsp glycerin along with your favorite essential oils.

Step 2: Get Your Beauty Rest!

Who got 7-9 hours of sleep last night? When you fail to get enough sleep, the number of infection-fighting antibodies (called cytokines)
are reduced AND if you do get sick, a lack of sleep can prolong your illness!

If life prevents you from getting adequate sleep, take up to two 30-minute-or-less naps to try to “catch up” and help ward off illness and reduce stress.

Step 3: Eat well!

During these times of sickness floating around, make sure your diet is loaded with vegetables and fruits. Loading up on foods that contain vitamin B, vitamin C, and B6 will help ward off viruses.

Vitamin C is readily found in bell peppers and citrus fruit. Poultry is a great source of B6. Other immune boosting foods include garlic, yogurt, broccoli, and green tea. Build your immune system with a smoothie with these immune-boosting foods: berries, oranges, spinach, honey, and yogurt.

Step 4: What If It’s Too Late?

If you already feel symptoms coming on, all is not lost! Elderberry has been used for centuries to increase the immune system and fight upper respiratory tract symptoms. Sambucol is one brand that has been directly studied and been proven to reduce the duration of symptoms from 6 days down to 2 in many cases! Sambucol is not preventative, but if you’re not feeling great, it may be worth a shot. As always, check with your doctor first!

Use Nature’s Bounty to Fuel Good Health

This week we proud to present another guest blog from MedAlertHelp.Org. They are providing excellent information in helpful, easy-to-read infographics! Follow the link to see the infographic for this post!

It is strange to think of our bodies as finely tuned machines, but that is what they are. They require the right fuel and a fair amount of maintenance to keep them running. Fortunately for us, we live on a planet where the right fuel exists in abundance.

In this post, we will take a closer look at the main vitamins that our bodies need to function optimally. We will go over some interesting facts you have not heard of before.

BASICS

There are two broad classifications of vitamins.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. If you consume too many of those, your body will flush them out. You will notice that your urine is different. Beta carotene, for example, can change the color of your urine to a dark yellow or even light orange. You would have to take large quantities to overdose on it.

The vitamins in this category are:

● Vitamin B1: Is necessary for proper nerve and muscle function and energy production. It will help you recover from a workout. So, make sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts part of your post-workout snack to get your share of B1.

● Vitamin B2: This vitamin powers the muscles. Make sure to get your dose half an hour before a workout. Eggs, salmon, and almonds are all excellent sources.

● Vitamin B3: This vitamin helps clear out bad cholesterol. Without it, the body cannot metabolize fat or glucose. You will feel sluggish and be more prone to so-called lifestyle diseases. Get it from peanuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, or peas.

● Vitamin B5: Feeling stressed out, and you cannot relax? You might be short of vitamin B5. It regulates the adrenal glands. It is also necessary for the formation of new red blood cells and metabolizing fatty acids. Get if from sunflower seeds, mushrooms, eggs, and avocado.

● Vitamin B6: Is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Get it from tuna, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and dried prunes.

● Vitamin B7: Without B7, your body would not be able to metabolize any of the macronutrients. Get it from sweet potato, broccoli, salmon, and eggs.

● Vitamin B9: If you have a weak immune system, and feel fatigued often, you are probably low on B9. Find it in spinach, black-eyed peas, lentils, and asparagus.

● Vitamin B12: B12 helps us metabolize macronutrients and produce new blood cells. You can find it in mackerel, trout, eggs, and tofu.

● Vitamin C: Helps boost immunity and fight infections. Find it in kale, citrus fruits, guavas, and bell peppers. If you feel exhausted and have a weak immune system, or need to recover from a workout, do include more vitamin Bs and vitamin C.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are a different matter altogether. The body will store them in its fatty tissues. If you take more than the body needs, they build up to toxic levels, which can lead to a fatal outcome.

The vitamins in this category are:

● Vitamin A: Is essential for healthy teeth, skin, and skeletal system. Get it from carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, or cod liver oil.

● Vitamin D: Helps boost the immune system and combat fatigue. It is also necessary for healthy bones. Get it from eggs, tofu, mushrooms, and salmon. Your very best source, though, is the sun. Try to get at least 15 minutes of exposure when the sun is at its peak. Expose as much skin as possible and ditch the sunscreen for this session.

● Vitamin E: Is essential for good immunity and regulating cholesterol. Find it in sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ oil.

● Vitamin K: Helps the blood clot and keeps your bones strong. Find it in cooked kale and broccoli or raw spinach.

Do We Need to Take Supplements?

Ideally speaking, no. However, if we want to get the right mix of vitamins, we have to eat a well-rounded diet that includes fresh ingredients. We can chemically recreate the compounds, but if it were that simple, all we would have to do for good health is to pop the right pill.

In reality, the foods that we eat contain hundreds of compounds that work together. We are nowhere near the point of recreating the full nutrient profile of even a simple apple.

Still, if there is no alternative, choosing a high-quality supplement can fill in the gaps. However, always try to get the vitamins you need from food sources first.

As you can see from the list above, some food sources are superfoods in their own right. The lowly sunflower seed, for example, has nutrients that help boost the immune system, fight fatigue, repair muscles, and provide energy. Now that is the kind of supplement we all need.

Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, is a practicing physician who is the Co-Founder and Project Manager of MedAlertHelp.org, a site dedicated to improving your knowledge about health, nutrition, fitness, aging, retirement, and much more. He leads a remarkable team of medical writers, medical alert reviewers, and experts in the realms of life insurance, retirement, and marketing devoted to saving your time and simplifying the process of finding the perfect solutions for everyone.

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!

FAQ: New Guest Tips

Welcome to Ellipse Fitness! First off, we are so excited to be a part of your fitness journey, and PLEASE always feel welcome to talk to our trainers and staff about anything! If we don’t know the answer, we are always happy to point you in the right direction!

Here are some common questions we see that may help you to get started…

1. What should I bring?

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

2. Will I be the only one who…?

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

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

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

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

At Ellipse we program our sessions assuming that everyone has a variable schedule and in some cases can never make it on a certain day. No worries, our behind the scenes programming has you covered! Get a complete workout attending as little as 2-3 days/week. Our sessions run 45-50 minutes and include foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up.

Group Personal Training (5am, 6am, 9am, 12pm, 4pm, 5pm*, 6pm*. Ask your local studio for the Saturday schedule.)
*Allouez – no 5 pm or 6pm on Fridays
*Oakville – no 5pm on Fridays

– Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are strength based with Monday and Friday offering a little more heart-pounding metabolic component.

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

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

5. I’m nervous

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

6. I won’t know anyone!

Most people don’t know anyone the first day, which is why we are here! Let us introduce you to some new fitness friends and trainers. We’re all here for the same positive results, accountability, and community.

7. In the past, I’ve gotten bored

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

8. How do I get started?

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

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

9. How can I stay connected?

Make sure you are getting our emails! On Tuesday’s you’ll find our “Lunch N’ Learn” series to keep you informed and motivated. Keep up with your local studios with our Friday studio update and notes. If you haven’t received an email yet, be sure to reach out.
Follow the Ellipse Fitness corporate Facebook pageand your local studio Facebook/Instagram pages for another method of staying “in the know”.

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

10. What else should I know?

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

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

Life is about balance, and so is Ellipse Fitness. As mentioned before, you’ll get a great workout in, but there will be no exercises that you “cannot do”. Our coaches will make sure you have options, just communicate with us and we will figure it all out!

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!

6 Marvelous “Dishes to Pass” this Holiday Season!

The holidays can be a great time with family and traditions, but for many it brings some fear of falling off the fitness and nutrition wagon. Play it safe by bringing a healthy dish to pass that you know is okay to dig into!

Healthier Strawberry Cheesecake

Need to bring a dessert? Combine 32oz of plain Greek yogurt with a small box of sugar free cheesecake flavored pudding mix. Slice up 2 pounds of strawberries and layer with pudding/yogurt mixture. Layer in a glass trifle bowl, and toss a couple strawberries on top, for a fancy presentation.healthier strawberry cheesecake! Combine 32oz of plain Greek yogurt with a small box of sugar free cheesecake flavored pudding mix. Slice up 2 pounds of strawberries and layer with pudding/yogurt mixture. Layer in a glass trifle bowl, and toss a couple strawberries on top, for a fancy!

Spinach Dip

Going with Greek yogurt and/or cottage cheese over mayonnaise or sour cream adds even more protein punch PLUS nutrients from the spinach! Here’s the rundown: Toss cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth. Combine cottage cheese, pressed/drained cooked spinach, water chestnuts, plain Greek yogurt, a package of dry veg soup mix, onions, and lemon. Chill for a few hours and serve with vegetables!

The full recipe can be found on the blog by searching Spinach Dip – or follow this link!

No Bake Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Add some nutrients to your dessert! Did you know pumpkin is actually a fruit? And a nutrient packed one at that! Add some vitamin A and potassium to your next dessert to pass. Whisk 2 cups pumpkin puree, 2 cup milk (almond milk, etc), 1.5 t cinnamon, 1/4 t nutmeg, and 1/4 t ginger. Add 1 package (5.1oz) sugar free vanilla pudding. Chill. Top with crumbled graham cracker crumbs and a few sprays of whipped cream to make it beautiful!

Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip

A twist on that classic 7-layer dip adds a healthy flare with plain Greek yogurt, hummus, veggies, and healthy fats!

First, create your yogurt mixture: yogurt, garlic, dill, lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Then, in an 8×8 dish, layer hummus, yogurt mixture, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, feta and olives. Serve with whole grain pita chips, celery, or cut fresh veggies.

Get this classic Ellipse recipe here!

Healthier Brushetta

Try a healthier twist on bruschetta! Start by using toasted Ezekial Bread, cut in half, as your base.

Combine 2 cups chopped tomatoes, 1 T fresh chopped basil (or use fresh you may have frozen in cubes from the summer!), 2 tsp olive oil and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (tons of great ones at local olive oil shops!), and 1 clove minced garlic. Top your toast with the mixture and top with some mozzarella.

TIPS: Have extra time? Let your tomato mixture marinate in the fridge for a couple hours. Need more protein? Add cooked, cubed chicken, to your tomato mixture.

3-Layer Mexican Dip

Layer 1: Mashed black beans with seasoning and Greek yogurt
Layer 2: Avocado mixed with yogurt and seasoning
Layer 3: Round it out with salsa!

Protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs ready to serve with vegetables or chips. Find the full recipe on the blog by searching 3-Layer Mexican Dip – 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!