Sunday, January 25, 2009

3 Good Cereals Full of Fiber and All Natural Foods

The health benefits of Omega-3 and fiber are far reaching and including the two in your regular diet can be challenging sometimes so I wanted to share with you some convienent options. Below are a few cereals that can be enjoyed with skim milk or dry.

Many of you have probably seen Kashi at the grocery store. I don't know if you have had a chance to try Kashi cereals yet but if you have not, then I recommend that you do. Kashi is the 7 grain company that uses all natural whole foods and makes them taste really good. Growing up, I enjoyed eating cereal and a lot of it. My problem was that I would eat cereals high in sugar (high fructose corn syrup) and processed foods such as flour. Healthy cereals are a good choice to start off your day and can be a good snack in between meals.

Recently, I had the chance to listen to one of my friends, Bob Calvin speak at a baseball performance nutrition seminar. Bob is the head dietician at Athletes Performance in Gulf Breeze, Florida and is one of the best sports dieticians in the world. He spoke of the importance of including fiber in your diet. What he said was "if there was not at least 3g of Fiber per serving, then put it back and find something that does."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Make Omega 3's a Part of your Regular Diet

I know a lot of people who are trying to eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of fat in their diets for the purpose of losing weight. The misconception most Americans have is that eating fat makes you fat. Detailed research has shown that the total amount of fat in the diet isn’t really linked with weight or disease. What really matters is the type of fat in the diet. The fact is, eat the wrong fats and you can increase the risk of certain diseases and eat the right fats and you do just the opposite. Good fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated must be included into your diet. A growing body of scientific research indicates that these healthy fats help prevent a wide range of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, depression, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is estimated that over 90% of Americans are currently deficient in Omega-3 fats!

What are Omega-3 fats and where do you get them?
Omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated fats that are essential nutrients for health. Essential means that your body can’t make or produce them so you have to get them through your diet and/or supplementation. Some of the best food sources of Omega-3 are listed below.

Wild Fish (Salmon, Sardines, Trout, Halibut, Tuna, Shrimp)
Ground Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
Nuts and Seeds (Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds)
Boiled Cauliflower and Cabbage(green leafy vegetables)
Omega-3 Eggs

Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fats
Ok, so what’s the big deal about Omega-3 and why are they so important to you? The list of health benefits of Omega-3 could go on for a few pages but here are six of the biggies that will add quality years to your life and make it more enjoyable.

1. Omega-3’s help prevent Cardiovascular Disease
The American Heart Association research has shown that Omega-3 fat intake will decrease the risk of arrhythmias (which can lead to sudden cardiac death), decrease triglyceride levels, and it decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque.

2. Omega-3’s Reduce Inflammation
Fish oil omega-3 fatty acids discourage the development of inflammation in blood vessels that frequently accompanies heart disease. Inflammatory conditions stimulate the production of substances involved in clot formation and make artery disease worse. Inflammation increases the risk of heart failure.

3. Omega-3’s can Lower your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Consuming fish oil omega-3’s is associated with small but beneficial reductions in blood pressure.

4. Omega 3’s Increase high-density lipoprotein levels
High Density Lipoproteins (good cholesterol) levels have been shown to increase and Low Density Lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) have been shown to decrease with individuals who consume recommended values of Omega 3.

5. Omega 3’s and Diebetes
Individuals with diabetes tend to have high triglyceride and low HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL, so people with diabetes may benefit from eating foods or taking supplements that contain Omega 3 fats.

6. Omega 3’s help prevent Osteoporosis
Clinical studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA help increase levels of calcium in the body, deposit calcium in the bones, and improve bone strength.

As you can see, Omega 3 fats are very beneficial to you and should be included in your diet. It is recommended by the American Heart Association that you should consume at lease 500mg per day. Getting Omega 3 fatty acid from foods such as fish and plants is the best option because they have other nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals. But if you are not consuming fish at least 3 times per week then you need to supplement Omega 3 through other means such as an Omega-3 supplement capsule. For a long time fats have gotten a bad rap. Eating the right fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated will help you lose weight as well as help you live longer, healthier and happier lives.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No More Crunches? Here are Four Reasons Why

Walk into any gym and you will see people lying down doing crunches or sit ups. I admit it, until a few years ago; I included a bunch of them into my own workouts as well as my athlete’s workouts. But as I studied and grew to understand the true function of the anterior core muscles (rectus abdominus, internal oblique, external oblique, and the Transverse Abdominus), I began to change my approach to abdominal training. I now do very few, if any crunches or sit ups. As a sports performance and fitness coach, it is my job to do what is most effective, not to do things just to kill time. Here are three reasons why I choose not to incorporate these movements into our workouts.

Reason One: Sit Ups and Crunches Reinforce Bad Posture
It’s amazing how many things your Mom and Dad told you when you were a child end up being true. When they said “Sit up Straight!” they knew what they were talking about! Never in history have humans done so much sitting. Office jobs force individuals to stay seated in a chair most of the day and not only do they sit while at work, many go home and sit on the couch to watch their favorite TV show (mine is The Andy Griffith Show by the way). Almost everyone has a vehicle and drives everywhere they go. I am a great example. Each time I fill up with a new tank of gas, I always restart my timer in the truck to keep track of how long I spend in my truck driving around on each tank of gas. On average, it is anywhere between 10-12 hours per tank and I fill up at least every 2 weeks. That is around 20-24 hours every month! The bottom line is over time our bodies slowly adapt to the seated posture we spend so much time in which causes all sorts of movement compensations and muscle imbalances. This forward posture also causes the spine to constantly be in a flexed position which has been shown to lead to disk injuries in the spine.
Having good posture is a critical part to staying healthy and pain free. Because sit ups and crunches actually cause the spine to flex, they are not ideal for training the abdominals. I have inserted a picture of me doing a crunch and then turned it upright as if I were standing or sitting at a desk. Pay close attention to the position of my spine (yellow line). In athletics or in everyday activities, this position can cause and will cause injuries.

Reason Two: Flexing the Abdominals is not the function of the Abdominals during normal movement patterns
Open any human anatomy book and it will say that the abdominal muscles job is trunk flexion (shoulders towards knees or foward posture). There is no arguing that the abdominals do flex the trunk but in everyday activities or in “functional anatomy”, their main function is to avoid trunk extension and to help stabilize your spine while you reach, swing, grab, kick, push, or pull. During any movement, spinal and core stabilization is very important. You don’t think about it, but the first muscle to fire when you reach to pick something up is the Transverse Abdominus muscle. It works together with the external and internal obliques and the rectus abdominis to stabilize your core so you can pick something up without your spine collapsing. Abdominals should be trained to stabilize the spine to assure that they perform in a timely manner when they are activated.

Reason Three: Doing Sit Ups and Crunches Can Negatively Affect Performance
We established earlier that sit ups and crunches reinforce bad posture and can be downright dangerous is done over time. Because I work with a lot of golfers and athletes it is important to discuss how bad posture affects the ability to perform efficiently and pain free. The posture created when performing a crunch is referred to as “C-Posture” because it is shaped like a C (refer to picture above). C-posture through time causes certain muscles to become tight and other muscles to become lengthened. The lengthened muscles become inhibited and shut down (not a good thing) causing joint dysfunctions and muscle imbalances. On top of the inhibition, C-posture greatly reduces your ability to rotate and create power. If you are sitting at your desk reading this right now I want you to try something. Sit in “C-Posture” and rotate to your right and then to your left. Pay attention to how far you rotate. Then, sit up with a “tall spine” and rotate to your right and left again. Compare the difference. Bottom line here? The ability to rotate your shoulders is greatly deminished if you are in C-posture.” When you have to rotate, your body will compensate by rotating the lumbar (low back region) to gain the range of motion. This can leas to low back pain.

In rotation dominate sports such as golf, tennis, baseball and softball the inability to rotate the spine causes many problems as well. Take the golf swing for example. In a golf swing, the more you can rotate your shoulders over your hips and get separation, the more energy you can store thus leading to a more powerful swing. To initiate the downswing, the pelvis fires first creating a lot of energy which is then transferred to the trunk which in turn transfers that energy to the lead arm and finally to the hands and club through the ball. Any breakdown to this sequence causes “energy leaks” which will lead to a loss of power, accuracy, and consistency. Because of this, it is imperative to train athletes to maintain a stable spine in the presence of movement. Again, sit ups and crunches are not the answer.

Reason Four: Doing Sit Ups and Crunches will not give you a Six Pack
Despite what the late night infomercials try to convince you, lying down on your back and doing abdominal crunches and sit ups won’t give you a six pack in 8 weeks. The fact is, everyone has abdominal muscles but on some individuals, they are not as exposed. Slowed metabolisms, inactivity, and bad diets can play a major role in how well the abdominal musculature is exposed. You can flatten your belly by the way your train your abdominals. Learning to “draw in” or to tighten your abdominals is a great way to flatten your stomach. Imagine that you just pulled up the tightest pair of jeans you have every tried on. The only way you could zip them up would be to draw in your belly button and get as skinny as you can. Tightening your abdominals, or “drawing in” automatically makes your stomach flatter and more importantly, it stabilizes your spine. Once you learn to draw in, make sure you learn how to breathe normally in that position and you will be well on your way to a flat stomach. The key to exposing the abdominal muscles is to lose body fat.

So what is the most effective way to train the anterior core musculature?
I will be posting on that soon! Until then, draw in your belly button and “sit up straight”!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Health Benefits of Fiber

Fiber has been shown through long term studies to have numerous health benefits, including weight loss and weight management. Are you getting enough fiber in your diet or are you like many Americans that are falling short on the recommend daily amount? You don’t have to understand all of the ins and outs of fiber to see the benefits, you just need to know how much to consume and what food provide it. The purpose of this blog is to give you a common sense, practical approach to making sure you are including fiber in your diet so that you can live longer, healthier lives.

What is Fiber?
Fiber refers to carbohydrates that cannot be digested. Fiber is found in the good choice carbohydrates such as all plants that can be eaten. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains are excellent choices to insure you are getting your daily recommended amount of fiber. Fiber can be put into two categories, soluble and insoluble. Good sources of soluble fiber are oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apple pulp. Foods high in insoluble fiber include whole-wheat breads, wheat cereals, wheat bran, rye, rice, barley, most other grains, cabbage, carrots, and beets.

Health Benefits of Fiber
For a long time, fiber has been considered a healthy nutrient and for good reason! A diet full in fiber has been found to have many positive effects on your health. Here are three of the many.

Weight Loss and Weight Management
High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you're no longer hungry, so you're less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. And high-fiber diets also tend to be less "energy dense," which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.

Heart Disease
Fiber also helps lower your total cholesterol levels by lowering your LDL or “Bad” cholesterol.

Americans are developing Type II diabetes at a record pace. Type II diabetes is characterized by sustained high blood sugar levels in which the body can no longer produce enough insulin to lower blood sugar or cannot use the insulin that it does produce. High fiber diets have shown to decrease the risk of developing diabetes as well as to help control diabetes once it is developed by keeping blood sugar levels normal and keeping a long, steady stream of energy throughout the day.

Tips to help you Increase your Daily Intake of Fiber
The average American eats only 11-13 grams of dietary fiber each day but the current recommendations are much higher. The US Dietary guidelines suggestions for women are to eat anywhere between 25-35 grams of dietary fiber each day but the more the better. When you eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, you will be getting most of the fiber you need. Most Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of fiber so here are a few tips to help you increase your daily fiber intake:

1. Eat 100% whole grain bread instead of white. White bread is stripped of fiber during the processing.
2. Try to enjoy fruits and vegetable at each meal and snack on raw vegetables instead of chips or crackers. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber.
3. Choose whole grain cereals high in fiber such as Kashi Go Lean or All-Bran
4. Choose brown rice instead of white rice
5. Add ground flaxseed to yogurt or salads
6. Eat plenty of beans
7. Read food labels and try too avoid anything that does not have 3g of fiber per serving.
8. Use supplements to increase your daily consumption.

Once you have begin to increase your Fiber intake to recommended amounts, you will need to increase your water consumption, especially while you are participating in an exercise program such as Pensacola Adventure Boot Camp. Fiber absorbs water so you will need to increase water consumption to assure you are properly hydrated.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Boot Camp Workouts Burn a lot of Calories!

On December 9, 2008, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's leading authority on fitness and one of the largest fitness certification, education and training organizations in the world, announced that Boot Camp Style workouts are the number one trend for 2009. This is what they had to say about Boot Camp Style workouts:

“Boot camp workouts remain extremely popular because they provide a total-body workout that's varied, fun and challenging. Up to 600 calories can be burned during a boot camp session, which is obviously going to facilitate weight loss. But in addition to a great cardiovascular workout, muscles are strengthened through high- and low-intensity exercises such as pushups, squats and lunges. You don't typically experience significant muscle fitness benefits in other aerobic exercises.”

Pensacola, FL and Escambia County women have been missing out on the women only boot camp experience long enough! Pensacola Adventure Boot Camp is now underway and I want to personally invite you to come experience the fun. Adventure Boot Camp is a proven outdoor fitness program with over 200 locations across America and the World. Over 1,000,000 women have participated in the camps worldwide and now you can too! Once you experience a day in camp you will see why it is so effective in helping the women of Pensacola and surrounding areas lose weight and feel great!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Get Fit and Loose Weight with Wii Bowling Blaster!

I have a confession to make. I played too much Nintendo Wii over the Christmas Holidays (It was a Christmas gift from Amanda’s Parents!) The Nintendo Wii has transformed the video game industry and brought it to a new level. No more sitting on the couch and starring at the video screen hitting buttons on a controller that makes you get cramps in your thumbs from hitting the “A” button too many times. Wii forces you off of your butt and makes you go through simulated movements to make the ball move or to swing the club. Heck, I know of a major Division I Athletic Training Room that has one and uses it for “Wii-Hab” when athletes are recovering from injuries! Pretty fun but very dangerous if you let go of the controller and it almost hits the $3,000 flat screen that you got for Christmas.

The next day after our first big night of playing the bowling game that comes with the consol, I noticed two things. One, that Amanda’s Gluteal Muscle (the king of core stability!) was sore and two, I had done a LOT of squatting from sitting down when my turn was done and getting back up when it was my turn to throw the bowling ball again. We must have bowled 5 games that night and I know I burned more calories playing then I did playing 42 (dominoes) with our family!

Nintendo Wii also has an add-on to their regular consol called Wii-fit. As you can probably imagine, we really want one of those badly. The problem is, I think everyone else wants it too because it is nearly impossible to find one in any store. So, I got to thinking about all the squats I did and how Amanda got sore the next day after we had played the games. With no chance of getting the Wii-Fit any time soon, I decided to turn the bowling game into one heck of a fat blasting, calorie killing, and intense video game! For all of you out there who are like us and can’t find the Wii-fit, here are the rules.

Game Set Up:

Write down 10 or more multi-joint exercises that you can do in your home on 10 separate index cards. Feel free to incorporate as many apparatuses as you can think of such as Jump Ropes, Thera-Bands, Dumbbells, Barbells, Medicine Balls, etc. Beside each exercise, write down how many reps you want to do of that exercise. Example: DB Squat to Push Press x 8 Reps. Shuffle the cards and stack them face down.


A. Strike – Free Pass and go on to the next frame.

B. Not a Strike - Add up the remaining pins and get a total. For example, if the 10 pin and the 5 pin are still standing after your first roll that would be a total of 15. Pull a card from the stack and add 15 reps to the total that you wrote down next to the exercise. Using the example from above, if your total was 15 and you drew the DB Squat to Push Press x 8 card. You would do 23 DB Squat to Press.


A. Spare - If knock down the remaining pins and get a spare, you must draw on card and do the reps assigned to you on the card.

B. If you leave any pins on the second roll, repeat the same steps as the first roll. Add up the remaining pin(s) and add it to the total on the card that you draw.
Try this out and make sure you wear the wrist strap!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Post Workout Recovery, Its all about Timing!

Have you ever wondered what you should be eating or drinking after a long or intense bout of exercise? I would bet that you probably have. As strength and conditioning and personal fitness coach in Pensacola, FL, I get asked all the time about what is the best post workout drink or food. Should it be mostly carbohydrates or protein? Should it be in the form of liquid or food?

When it comes to helping your body and your muscles recover and rebuild from an intense exercise bout, timing is king! When you put yourself through an intensive workout, whether it is a morning boot camp or an off-season workout, you are breaking down your muscles. After the session, there is about a 45 minute post-exercise “Window of Opportunity” to optimally repair, nourish and rebuild your muscles and to restore your glycogen stores. To take advantage of the short period of time, it is best to refuel and replenish immediately after your exercise bout. As the minutes pass buy, the window closes a little bit at a time and you can miss out on many of the benefits of post exercise nutrition.

In order for your body to receive the nutrients you consume after an intensive exercise bout, it must be easily digested and absorbed into your bloodstream. For this reason, consuming a liquid supplement containing a rapidly digested protein and carbohydrate is the best option. Including carbohydrates in the recovery diet enhances glycogen replacement and having amino acids (protein) readily available enhances the process of building and repairing muscles (Ivy 2001, Ivy et al. 2002) and reduces soreness (Flakoll et al. 2004).

Below is a list of Benefits you can expect from consuming a recovery drink (Berardi, 2006):
1. Improved recovery from exercise (including better performance in subsequent exercise sessions)
2. Less muscle soreness after exercise
3. Increased ability to build muscle
4. Improved ability to fight off the common cold
5. Improved bone mass and reduced risk of bone weakening with age
6. Improved fat burning with your next exercise session, regardless of the type of exercise.

In order to get the best results from your exercise program, prepare ahead time and take advantage of the muscle repairing window by packing a post workout recovery drink or a quickly absorbed protein and carbohydrate snack. You're body will thank you!

Recommended Post Workout Recovery Drink