Tag Archives: Health

Is running a magic pill? The pros and cons of running.

runner girl

We have all seen those fit, agile people pounding the pavements in all weathers with their monitors strapped to their hands and the ever present bottle of water in their hand. Those who love running hail it as the greatest thing since cut bread, those who don’t shudder at this sight and carry on strolling along. Running is one of those Marmite exercises; you love it or hate it, but is it a magic pill in terms of fitness? Here are few pros and cons of running.

Built to run

As with all sports there are those who have the natural physique to run and those who don’t. This may sound patronising but think about it. Athletes tend to be wiry as the aim is to get the foot on and off the pavement, road, track as quickly as possible. Those who are overweight or unfit who take up running as a way to get fit barely achieve their objective as they are simply the wrong body type to be able to run far enough without being out of breath to make a difference.


Even the most expensive shoes in the world cannot protect your joints from impact injuries if you should not be attempting running. Every your foot slams down on that pavement you are putting stress on your ankles, knees and hips. Even top athletes suffer injuries to their joints, so why should you be any different? These injuries can be very painful and if it would mean you have to take a long time off work to recover, is it really worth the risk? UK based personal trainer Adam from Adam Wilson training, who offers PT for all sorts of sport’s people in Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks advised us, “A good pair of trainers with a quality in-sole is a necessity, particularly if running on roads or pathways. The human body is not built for such surfaces”.


Running enthusiasts claim there isn’t a feeling in the world like it, but there is. Adrenaline and other feel good endorphins are naturally released into the body whatever exercise you are undertaking if you go at it full on. So if you prefer swimming, badminton, cycling you will still get that buzz.


Running is free; there are no memberships to pay. And the freedom of the road is yours; literally. However, the shoes needed for road running that offer the maximum resistance to impact injuries don’t come cheap. You can wear whatever else you like to run in as long as it as comfortable and lightweight as possible, but if you want to look the part there are shorts, top, monitor and maybe a watch that incorporates a stopwatch if time is as important to you as distance.


Running has always been thought of as a solo sport; just you against the clock. It can also be very sociable too however as there are running clubs right across the length and breadth of the UK. Over in Europe it is not unusual to see packs of runners streaming down the huge cycle lanes attached to main roads, but as this is sadly lacking in the UK, you are on your own once you actually start to run. The socialising will be at the beginning and the end of the run, not during the actual run itself.

Challenge Yourself

Do you ever get so snug and warm inside your comfort zone that, at some point, you feel like you can’t get out of it? Sometimes you don’t even realize it until you’re in a full-blown rut and you wake up one day and realize, if you have to do that same workout one more time, you’ll probably yank out all your hair.

Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to push your limits a little. Pushing yourself will make you stronger, not just physically, but mentally and you’ll go back to your old workouts with a fresh perspective and a new appreciation for how strong you really are.

Take the Challenge

I’d like to offer you a challenge. This week, I’d like you to push yourself at least one time. How you do it is up to you – it can be a big challenge or a small challenge but, either way, do something new and see what you’re really capable of. Some ideas:

  • Try a new activity. If you tend to do the same exercises all the time, try something new this week – a class at the gym, a machine you’ve never tried, an exercise you never thought you could do.
  • Try heavier weights. When strength training, many of us don’t lift as much as we could. If that’s the case with you, for just one exercise, pick up those heavy weights and see if you can really fatigue your muscles. Make that last rep difficult, but not impossible. Always make sure you’re safe and have good form, of course.
  • Add a burst of intensity. At the end of one of your usual workouts, tack on some high intensity exercise – run up and down the stairs, do as many pushups as you can, sprint as fast as you can for a minute or try a full minute of squat thrusts. Do something that really gets your heart rate up, even if it’s just for a few seconds.
  • Set a new goal. If you’re really ready for a challenge, set a new goal for yourself – sign up for a 5K race or join a local cycling or running club. You could even set a goal to be able to do a certain number of pushups or chin ups – whatever it is, make it something you’ll really work for.

Obviously these ideas don’t cover every situation and each person has to decide what’s challenging for them. For some, just taking a walk for 10 minutes is a challenge. For others, signing up for a marathon might be a good challenge. Wherever you are, make your goal to challenge yourself this week to see just how far you can go when you put your mind to it.

RUNNING CLUB UPDATE – The Trick to Staying on Track

It’s easy to get motivated to run in the first month of the new year, but how do you keep it going the other 11? Start now by setting goals that guarantee you’ll stay moving throughout the months ahead.

Bribe yourself. Set a mileage goal and treat yourself when you reach it. Vow to run 10 miles per week, perhaps, or 40 miles in a month. Then get yourself a new pair of running tights when you hit the mark.

Combine (running) business with pleasure. Pick a race at a fun destination this spring and make it a minivacation. Register (and request the time off from work) now, so you won’t forget to follow through. One of my favorites is the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon (held this year on May 10). But even making a weekend out of a run in a nearby city can be motivating, too.

Be progressive. Want to build up to running a half-marathon by the end of the year? Train for a 5K this spring and a 10K in the summer. Setting (and reaching!) successive goals of increasing distances will help you keep plugging away throughout the year. Find races near you at www active.com.

Say spa. As the year draws to a close, get away for a recharging run-spa weekend. Choose a spa that offers challenging trails, a wide variety of treatments, and yoga classes to keep you limber. My favorites: the Stepping Stone Spa in Vermont (www.steppingstone spa.com), Red Mountain Spa in Utah (www.redmountainspa .com), and Red Rock Spa in Nevada (www redrocklasvegas .com). Or create the same effect closer to home: Spend a relaxing afternoon at a day spa with a friend after knocking off a long run together.

5 Slimming Secrets

  1. READ FOOD LABELS. At the supermarket, instead of just throwing items into a basket, take a minute to read the labels. Look for high-fiber cereals, granola bars, popcorn, crackers, chips, and pasta. They will fill you up and digest more slowly than foods with less fiber.
  2. WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU EAT. Nothing stops me from over-eating faster than looking at a list of everything I put in my mouth that day. It reminds me that things like drinks and peppermints count. Everyone thinks they don’t have time to keep a food log, but it’s pretty easy to throw a journal and pen into your bag. No matter where I am, I can just pull it out and take a couple of seconds to jot down what I’ve eaten.
  3. SET SMALL WEIGHT LOSS AND EXERCISE GOALS. When I first started jogging, I would aim to increase my time by just 10 minutes. At the start of my exersice program, I set a reasonable weight goal. Once I met my goal, I rewarded myself with things like new workout clothes. And then I was able to make a new goal. This allows me to continue to challenge myself long after I acheived what I never dreamed possible!
  4. DON’T CUT OUT ALL HIGH FAT, HIGH CALORIE FOODS. I know that if I deny myself too long, those cravings will just become stronger. Instead, I allow myself to eat the foods I love: muffins, cookies, and ice cream. But I decrease the portion sizes and make sacrifices in other areas of my diet to compensate for the calories. I mentally plan ahead if I know I’m going to be faced with my favorite cheesecake over the weekend. If I decide in advance how much I’ll eat, then I am able to enjoy every bite without feeling guilty afterward.
  5. EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FIRST. I treat meats and starches like the side dishes. The end result is I consume fewer calories and still feel very satisfied. If possible, I buy fresh produce instead of canned or frozen. My body thanks me for the fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants – and I feel great!

Good Nutrition and Your Kids : A Parent’s Responsibility

In today’s world of fast foods, packaged and processed snacks, and sugar laden soft drinks, teaching your children about healthy eating habits can be a real challenge. But while it’s true that temptation is all around, it’s still possible to instill a healthy nutritional foundation in your children. In fact, now more than ever parents need to take responsibility to help their children avoid the obesity trap. The key: the earlier you start, the better.

The foundation for teaching kids about good nutrition should be laid when they are babies. Medical editor Dr. Michael Breen in Chicago suggests that parents should expose young children to new foods regularly, but separately.  For example, one week you might introduce your toddler to broccoli, and the next week black beans. Breen also recommends introducing a new food alongside a child’s favorite food.

Children Do As You Do, Not As You Say

Another finding, which may not be what some parents want to hear, is that if you want your kids to eat well, you need to practice what you preach. A March 2000 study presented by the American Heart Association found a strong connection between parents who exhibited impulsive eating and obesity in their children. It’s important for parents to realize that children are being influenced by their own eating habits even if the child is not participating directly in it.

Take for example, a mother who eats a pint of ice cream out of the container while watching television with her 5 year old.  While the child did not eat the ice cream them self, and in fact may only be allowed moderate portions of ice cream on occasion, the behavior of their mother is still indirectly influencing their attitude, opinions, and eventually their own eating habits.

Another interesting point brought up by this study is that parents who scored highest on the dietary restraint scale (which is a scale that measures an individual’s effort to restrict food intake) had children whose body fat was consistently higher than parents who scored lower on the scale. This suggests that parents who attempt to exert too much control over their child’s eating (I.E. “Finish all your pasta before you play” or “No dessert until you clear your plate”, etc.) may cause the child to lose their ability to regulate and recognize their own hunger cues.

So besides starting early, practicing what you preach and introducing new foods regularly, what else can you do as a parent to help foster a healthy nutritional foundation in your child? Here are some other simple tips to get you on your way:

  • Limit soda to special occasions only, and instead offer water and no sugar added juices to drink. One really healthy and fun snack for kids is real fruit smoothies. They pack in the nutritional punch as well as taste so good!
  • Use milk containing no more than 2% milk fat, 1% or skim is preferred
  • Don’t completely restrict foods (unless of course your child has an allergy to that food). Restricting and banning certain foods tends to backfire and cause the child to seek the forbidden food even more.
  • When introducing new foods, don’t force your child to eat it. If they taste it and express dislike, don’t make them finish the food. Instead, put it aside and re-introduce it in a few months, perhaps prepared differently.  For example, if they didn’t like cauliflower the first time around, in a few months make it with a tasty sauce.
  • Breakfast is important! If you have a child that isn’t particularly fond of traditional “breakfast foods”, a small portion of leftover dinner will do the trick. The goal is to get the metabolism going and prevent overeating at lunch or snack time from excessive hunger..

Optimize Your Health With Vitamins And Diet

It’s common knowledge that ideally, for optimum health, people should eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. But the reality is that most people fall short of that ideal, leaving them with a diet that is severely lacking in essential vitamins and minerals. Luckily, there are ways to compensate for a less-than-perfect diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements are a great way to fill the gaps left by your diet, or to provide a potential boost in the vitality and health of anyone.

Most dieticians and doctors will agree that it’s best to consume most of your vitamins through the foods you eat rather than through a pill. One reason for this is that vitamins in healthy foods work in conjunction with other elements in the food that are not found in supplements alone. In other words, the combined effect of the vitamins with other nutrients hold a stronger punch than vitamin supplements alone. But that’s not to say that supplements hold no value, of course.

In certain groups, in fact, vitamin supplements are imperative. It is recommended that all pregnant women, for example, consume folic acid supplements regardless of their diet to help prevent debilitating birth defects like spina bifida. Doctors also suggest that dark skinned people and people lacking regular sunlight should take vitamin D supplements. Senior citizens should take B12 complexes, and the list goes on and on.

While their potential to improve health is great, too much of a good thing can be wasteful at best, dangerous at worst. Certain supplements, like vitamins E and A for example, can be toxic in high doses so care must be taken to keep track of your supplement regimen.

While there are still naysayers who dispute the benefit of taking vitamin supplements when the diet is balanced, the fact is that when taken in appropriate doses, vitamin supplements carry little true risks, yet offer great potential benefits, such as reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.

Proper Nutrition Is A Vital Aspect To Any Athlete

Most physical activity requires a lot of time and physical demand on your body, so taking in the proper nutrients is of the utmost importance. Whether you are Mr. Universe or an MMA champion consuming the proper amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates will give your body the energy to get through those grueling workouts and, in addition, grant you a healthy lifestyle in the long run.

So what about the different nutrients that your body takes in? Why is it so important? How much and when should you be eating? When devising your daily meal plan always divide up all your nutrients that you should be taking in over the course of 5 meals. You want to feed your body every 3-4 hours. Giving it the nutrients that it needs throughout the course of the day will maximize energy levels and consumption of vitamins and minerals.

Let’s start with protein. Everyone knows the common cliché that protein is only meant for bodybuilders who want to gain muscle. This is totally untrue. The rule for protein intake can stretch across all athletes, particularly MMA fighters. Protein is the one type of calorie that your body does not store for energy. Lack of protein throughout the day will cause you to feel sluggish, weak and in the long run you will lose overall muscle on your body. General rule for protein is that it should be taken in with every meal. Great sources of protein are chicken and turkey breast, lean red meat, fish, eggs and protein shakes. All of these sources are very low in saturated fat and will help you complete your daily protein needs.

Consumption of fats in your daily meal plan is also important and essential. Fats are needed to sustain energy levels in the body and to help in muscle repair after a
grueling workout. Try and stay away from foods that are high in saturated fat such as fried or fast food, really fatty cuts of beef and corn oils. These are the fats that will make you fat and that can raise your cholesterol levels, potentially giving you heart problems. The fats that your body needs to sustain high levels of energy are low in saturated fats but higher in mono-saturated and poly-saturated fats. These fats help you get through your training and in addition will actually help your cholesterol levels. Great fats to eat are nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts or cashews), fish (salmon, tuna, tilapia and cod), eggs, lean cuts of beef (sirloin or fillet), peanut butter, and olive oil. These fats should be used moderately throughout the day with almost every meal to sustain your performance levels.

Carbohydrates are also very important to the body because it replenishes the body of the simple sugars and starches that it needs to function at optimal performance. The two best times to take in starches are in the morning and after you workout. In both cases your body is depleted: in the morning from sleeping from 6-8 hours and not eating and after a workout when your body’s blood sugar levels have been drained from intense exercise. In both instances, carbohydrates are needed to replenish the body and to get it out of a catabolic effect, when your body burns muscle. Great carbohydrates to eat during these times are oatmeal, sweet or baked potatoes and white/brown rice. All of these sources are slower to digest and your body will utilize them throughout the day.

Carbohydrates to stay away from are breads, fast foods, pasta and refined sugars such as cakes and other desserts. These sources will spike your sugar levels in the body, making you feel very lethargic and will be stored in the body as fat. Fruits and vegetables also play an important part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Vegetables such as salad, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus give your body lots of vitamins and nutrients. Fruits such as apples, oranges, berries and bananas also provide the body with antioxidants to fight off any sicknesses.

Two of the highlights of this article above are on protein and carbohydrates. Protein is mentioned as a necessity with every meal and carbohydrates are mentioned as a necessity after a work out. For those who are familiar with a smoothie, it is all fruit and juice which is primarily carbohydrates.

A smoothie or protein shake from MixStirs is exactly what is needed after a good workout.

High-Protein Diets for More Fat Loss

While the media focus on low-carb vs. low-fat diets, they tend to miss the point about high-protein diets. It’s well known in the fitness industry that higher protein intakes help with fat loss. For one thing, protein helps control appetite.

Most bodybuilding nutritionists recommend that 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is effective for building muscle and burning fat in normal-weight men and women. But overweight individuals should have more.

A study published in The Nutrition Journal tested the effect of supplemental protein intake on weight loss in 100 obese men and women. All of the subjects received two protein-enriched meal replacement shakes per day. But half received a total of 1 extra gram of protein per pound of lean body mass per day. And the other half received a total of 0.5 extra grams of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.

At the end of 12 weeks, both groups had lost approximately 8 to 9 pounds of weight, but the higher-protein group had lost more fat (3.6 pounds vs. 1.32 pounds).

You can get protein from nuts (a few grams per ounce), beans, tofu, peanut butter, lentils, peas, bananas, apples, oranges, sesame seeds, the list goes on.

If you want to lose fat, a little extra protein can go a long way.

Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think!  Remember, it’s the overall pattern of your choices that counts.

Make the simple steps below part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.

Use up at least as many calories as you take in.    

Start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. Don’t eat more calories than you know you can burn up every day. Increase the amount and intensity of your physical activity to match the number of calories you take in. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week or — best of all — at least 30 minutes every day.  Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness. If you can’t do at least 30 minutes at one time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day. more

Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.
You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories. To get the nutrients you need, choose foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products most often. more

  • Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber — and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure.
  • Unrefined whole-grain foods contain fiber that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout, and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease. 

Eat less of the nutrient-poor foods. 

The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you’re trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. You could use your daily allotment of calories on a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you probably wouldn’t get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients, and limit how much saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Read labels carefully — the Nutrition Facts panel will tell you how much of those nutrients each food or beverage contains.

As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:

  • Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.
  • Select fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
  • Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day.
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
  • Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Also, don’t smoke tobacco — and stay away from tobacco smoke. more

(Source : American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations)