Nutrition: The Mid-day Refuel

Lunch is, for many, the first “real” meal of the day, so it’s important to make it healthy and filling. (Also important? Checking out last month’s article, “Make Breakfast Great Again,” to rediscover the importance and benefits of starting your day with a good breakfast!)

The days of brown bagging or lunch pail meals are over. It is time step up your lunches and make them a balanced, refueling part of your day. When to eat your lunch is often dictated by a scheduled break or when consumed your last meal. Going long periods without any kind of food leads to lack of focus or energy and restlessness or anger also known as getting “hangry”.

The first thing you have to do to make your lunch more satisfying is actually setting aside time for yourself to enjoy it. Often times we allow work to take over and neglect to sit down and enjoy our meal. Savoring a meal and taking time to enjoy it instead of shoveling it back in under five seconds will prolong the feeling of being satiated, reducing the urge to eat more between lunch and dinner. Instead of consuming your lunch quickly, spend more time to enjoy it and have the energy to stay focused and put forward quality work.

Buying your lunch every day can add up. The cost of a sub or deli sandwich can easily get you a loaf of bread, lean deli meat, a head of lettuce and a tomato. Below I will outline how to make a great sandwich. You can save yourself a lot of time prepping the night before or on the weekend. Tomatoes have a shelf life of approximately a week and cucumbers 1-2 days so plan accordingly.

The king of lunches, the Sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (after that everything is optional based on tastes)
  • Green leafy lettuce or baby spinach (higher iron, calcium content)
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Mayo, mustard (sweet, classic yellow or spicy)
  • Pickle
  • Cheese (Swiss, cheddar, provolone, Havarti)
  • Avocado
  • Bacon
  • Salt/pepper

To avoid a soggy sandwich line the two slices of bread with lettuce to create a moisture barrier. Stack the slippery vegetables, tomato, cucumber, pickles, avocado, then deli meat and condiments in the center. Fold one-half on the other and bring it in a Tupperware to save on waste. ENJOY!

Don’t Sit on Sedentary Behaviour

It is no secret that in today’s society we are spending more and more time sitting. However, are we truly aware of how much time it is on a daily basis and the health implications that can come along with sedentary behaviour? The phrase “sitting is the new smoking” is catching on as research continues to come out highlighting the dangers sedentary behaviour can present to our health. Increased sedentary behaviour is linked to health risks such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and premature mortality behaviour (Dunstan et al., 2012).

How Inactive Are We?

Sedentary behaviour is not just sitting on the couch at home watching Netflix – it is any time spent being inactive, whether it be sitting at your desk at work, lying in bed, driving in your car, or screen time (time spent watching TV, on the computer, playing video games, etc.). Adults spend on average 7-9 hours per day being sedentary (Dunstan et al., 2012), while children and youth (ages 6-19) spend an average of 8.6 hours per day sedentary (Tremblay et al., 2011).

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) has come out in recent years with guidelines for sedentary behaviour for ages 0-17 years that can be accessed via their website, csep.ca. Much like physical activity guidelines, they provide recommendations for the amount of time youth should be spending sedentary each day. Guidelines have not yet been released for adults, but it is safe to say that the vast majority of us will benefit from reducing the amount of time we spend inactive.

How Can You Change Your Behaviour?

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Exercise: Russian Twists in the Pool

Want a core exercise that you can do in the water?  Try a Russian Twist.

Target Muscle Group:
The primary muscles involved in the Russian Twist are: obliques and rectus abdominis.

Performance Points:

  1. Grab a set of Aqua Dumbbells or place a noodle behind your back for extra support.
  2. Begin by lifting both feet off the bottom of the pool. Engage your abdominal muscles and bend both knees.
  3. Extend both legs to the right, bend both knees through center and then extend both legs to the left.
  4. Continue alternating right and left until you have completed a set of 10-15.  Rest for 30 seconds and then try a second set.

Modifications:

  • Level 1: Russian Twists can be performed by bending the knees in between each one.
  • Level 2: Staying on one side for 10-15 reps rather than alternating back and forth after each one will make the exercise more challenging.
  • Level 3: Keeping the legs straight throughout the entire exercise.

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Nutrition: Make Breakfast Great Again

We partially wake up, get ready, stop to get a cup of dark unleaded to completely wake up then try to beat the morning rush. In a go-go-go lifestyle, we often neglect any form of breakfast because there is a perceived time crunch or breakfast is for kids. The pre-diabetic starter packs we call cereal is heavily marketed towards kids, but there are options on the shelves and even better ones by combining items from the produce and cereal aisles. Most of us are not excited until that rush of caffeine hits our system and we feel mentally alert to start the day. It is time to make breakfast great again, get excited about waking up and preparing the fuel to start your day.

Breakfast is an important of your daily nutrition. Skipping breakfast is associated with other health compromising habits, such as smoking and infrequent exercise[1]. Start by changing the one lifestyle habit at the beginning of your day and stick with it before changing others.

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Benefits of Stretching before and after exercise

Stretching, in general, is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. Incorporating stretching into Susie-Stretch-2your daily routine is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise. It relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles.  There are debates as to whether or not it is best to stretch before or after exercise.  There are also conflicts regarding the best way to stretch and how long an individual should hold their stretches.

Use these tips to help you with your stretching routine:

  • Do dynamic stretches before your workout or activity. The short definition of dynamic stretching is “stretching as you are moving”.  Dynamic stretching can mimic the exercises that you will perform during your workout to help your body get used to the movements.  Dynamic stretching is important to increase core temperature, range of motion and nervous system activity.
  • Static stretches can be done every day and are especially important after a workout. Be sure to stretch out the muscles you used in your workout.  Static stretches require no movement and should be held for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Stretching should not be painful. If you are feeling pain then loosen the stretch slightly.
  • Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture.
  • Stretching exercises have powerful stress-busting abilities. Stretching loosens tight muscles which helps your muscles both relax and increase blood flow. It also encourages the release of endorphins, providing a sense of tranquility.
  • Don’t bounce throughout your stretch. Bouncing the stretch will produce tiny tears within the muscle.
  • Always remember to breathe when you are stretching.

If you’re feeling tired or you feel like your day is dragging, it might be time to get up out of your chair and do a few good stretches.  Muscles tighten when we get tired and stretching will help increase blood flow to our muscles and keep us more alert.

If you’re not sure where to start here’s some sample stretches you could do .

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Exercise- The Proper Plank

Want a core exercise that will target the entire core and require no equipment?  The plank is an excellent isometric core strengthening exercise. plank-400Chances are you’ve done it before, but have you been doing it the right way? Find out below.

Target Muscle Group:

The primary muscles involved in the plank are: erector spinae, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.

The secondary muscles include: synergists/segmental stabilizers, trapezius, rhomboids, rotator cuff, all three deltoid muscles, pectorals, serratus anterior, gluteus maximus, quadriceps and gastrocnemius.

Performance Points:

  • Begin lying on your stomach on an exercise mat with your elbows directly under your shoulders palms and forearms flat to the floor.
  • Lift your hips up off the floor by engaging your abdominal muscles and keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Avoid hiking your hips into the air.
  • Make the plank active by engaging your glutes, locking in your lats at the shoulder, and actively pushing through the floor to keep your shoulder blades separated and flat to your back.
  • As you hold the plank, ensure you keep space between head and shoulders as you gaze at the floor.
  • Attempt to hold the plank in intervals of 20s.

Modifications:

  • Level 1: The plank can be performed on the forearms (elbows directly below the shoulders) and the knees
  • Level 2: Extending the legs and tucking the toes will make your plank more challenging.  You can also come up into high plank (extend the arms, wrists and elbows directly under the shoulders)
  • Level 3: Increase the duration of the plank or try lifting and extending opposite arm to leg or taking your plank onto a BOSU or a stability ball

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Getting the Rest You Need

Sleep is an important part of your wellness that often gets forgotten! Nearly 59% of Canadians aren’t getting enough sleepsleep. Our bodies need sleep to help improve the efficiency and productivity. The average adults spends almost the equivalent of 24 years sleeping, so it must be an important part of your day. During sleep the body repairs and regrows tissue, builds bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system. How much sleep do you need? Research has shown that body and brain function start to decrease with anything below 7-8 hours of sleep a night and people who sleep less than 6 hours a night are 30% more likely to become obese than someone who sleeps 8-9 hours. So use these tips to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Limit the amount of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol you consume during the day. All three substances are natural sleep disruptors.
  • Find a quiet, dark and cool environment to sleep in. Keep computers, TVs and work material out of the bedroom. Your body associates the blue-ish light with daytime, keeping you alert and awake.
  • Establish and stick to a pre-sleep routine every night, easing the transition from wakefulness to relaxation time. Find something that works for you like taking a bath, reading or practicing muscle relaxation.
  • Make sure that you are truly tired when trying to fall asleep and turn the clock face away from you so you are not watching the clock all night.
  • Use your body’s natural internal clock by seeking out natural light, especially during the day and keep a consistent sleep schedule each day to time your body’s need for rest.
  • Exercise! Those men and women who exercise 150 minutes a week at a moderate to vigorous intensity improved their sleep quality by 65%. Just be sure to work out at least 3 hours before bed so your body has ample time to relax before bed.

Getting a good night’s sleep means you can be awake, alert and productive during the day. With school, work, friends, family and all the other activities we jam into our days, it’s important to get the rest we need.

by Erin Wright

Erin Wright is Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Master of Health Promotion graduate and is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Exercise Physiologist. She specializes in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle. She’s worked with high performance athletes and any individual looking to reach their goals in health.

Nutrition Trends for 2017

New Year Resolutions are done and it’s that time of year to kick the tires again on a fresh start. Fads, restriction, and hunger may all cross your mind at some point, but where to start? There will be 100 new tips on every magazine cover, your coworker will tell you they are on this new trend for 2017 or you may consider restricting yourself for better or worse. My suggestion is to start in your own home. Look through your pantry and fridge and pick one thing in there that is not healthy. Remove it entirely or replace it with a healthier option that is sustainable. Prepare yourself to be bombarded with an assortment of new information and new trends for a healthier you.

A quick search on nutrition trends of 2017 turns up the following:

Meat free foods – A movement towards meat alternatives using plant based proteins to emulate the properties of popular meat based food items. An expert in the article used the word “flexitarian” which is a fad word for omnivore. Whatever your choice is finding the right balance of macronutrients is optimal. Being an omnivore, one who eats plant and animal based foods, strikes the greatest balance. Moderation and balance is key.

Functional foods – Stop overpaying for marketing ploys on such “superfoods”. A movement towards foods that have solid evidence based benefits such as turmeric, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, bone broth and manuka honey will all become newsworthy again.

Clean eating and not cleansing – moving away from detox diets based off of juicing is hurting more than it’s helping. Your liver and kidneys do an excellent job detoxifying the body. By juicing you are stripping the fruits and vegetables of the fibrous skin you would normally eat. You not only get the vitamins and minerals from your fruits and vegetables but you also load up on a lot of fructose (sugar) by doing so. ‘Detoxing’ and clean eating spurts should not be something you consider after a bad weekend, week or month of eating. A balanced approach should be consistent and enjoying any nutritional vice should be done in moderation. Take yourself off the rollercoaster ride of good, bad then back to good choices and make healthy eating and exercise a consistent habit.

Make a sustainable change and try not to get caught in up trends or fads that seem poorly supported by evidence. If you can set a goal to maintain your new habits to a goal date, you will have a stronger chance of continuing with your lifestyle change throughout the year and beyond.

8 Ways to Stay Motivated this Winter

It’s not always easy to stay motivated and be physically active during the long, dark winter months in Edmonton. The short days and cold weather might make your cozy bed and delicious comfort food sound more appealing than a healthy meal and some physical activity. But with nearly six months of snow, it’s important to find some motivation to stay active.

  1. Start your workout inside by doing your warm up before venturing into the cold. Cold and stiff muscles can be prone to injuries, so get that blood pumping before you bundle up and go outside.
  2. Find a motivation in a workout buddy. Especially during the winter, having a workout buddy and goal helps ensure accountability. Set a weekly schedule with your workout buddy when you will meet to get active and offer each other lots of encouragement.
  3. Try a new something new. If your workout routine seems to be getting stale, a new exciting workout class or routine can kick start your motivation and hold your interest longer.
  4. We know spring is coming, look forward to it! Set a goal for the spring, like entering a fun run or a marathon. With a goal or event to work toward you’ll be less likely to push winter workouts to the end of the to-do list.
  5. Make sure you have the appropriate training gear for outdoor activities in the winter. Being too cold or too hot is no fun, so layers are key.
  6. Make it a point to get outside during the day while the sun is shining. The sunshine and daylight will provide a boost in energy and remind your body when it’s daytime and nighttime. You will sleep better at night and have more energy during the day.
  7. Take advantage of activities that can only be done in winter, like cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, skating and downhill skiing. Even building a snowman or playing sports like soccer and touch football in the snow are great exercise and a fun way to truly enjoy the winter season.
  8. Program your thermostat to start heating up the house a few degrees before you wake up in the morning. It’s too tempting to stay in bed where it’s warm and cozy and miss your workout when the house is cold.

by Erin Wright

Erin Wright is Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Master of Health Promotion graduate and is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Exercise Physiologist. She specializes in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle. She’s worked with high performance athletes and any individual looking to reach their goals in health.

Exercise: Shoulder Abductions and Adductions

Target Muscle Groups: Shoulders, Lats

Equipment Needed: Water BarbellsBecky-Sholder2-300

Performance Points:

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart on the bottom of the pool, holding the dumbells in your hands and arms extended out to the side.
  • Push the barbells under water and bring the barbells toward your hips while keeping your elbows straight.
  • Slowly, raise your arms back up toward the sides.
  • Complete three sets of 10-12.

Modifications:

  • Use two dumbbells together instead of one to create more resistance.

by Becky Smith

Becky Smith is a Bachelor of Kinesiology graduate and certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology as a Certified Exercise Physiologist. She specializes in water rehabilitation and enjoys using the pool as a way to challenge her clients. She works with a variety of clientele both in the water and in the Fitness Centre.