Supplements

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Supplementation is not a must, but I highly recommend it. In this article I will be sharing the supplement that I take and love.

 

#1. Protein

 

Protein is often thought of as a meal replacement, and it can be used that way. I prefer to use my protein shake as additional protein my muscles need to support my exercise regimen. There are thousands of types of proteins to choose from out there, and it’s very important to know the main difference in proteins. There are two primary types of protein which are whey and casein, both come from parts of milk. Whey is considered a fast protein because it quickly digest, and provides your muscles with the necessary protein at a rapid pace. Casein is a slow release protein because it digest over several hours. Both are effective ways to hit your protein macro, but you need to determine which works best for your digestive system. If you have a sensitive stomach then casein is probably your best option. Also if you’re taking your protein shake before bed then casein is going to be the best. It will feed your muscles all night long.

There are so many protein brands on the market. They all range in price, and cost varies depending on where you purchase your supplement. When you are choosing your protein be sure to take a look at the nutrition facts. Different brands have different amounts of carbs, sugars and protein. My favorite protein right now is Forza Pro, which comes is a large variety of flavors. Here is a link to purchase a tub. Forza Pro

 

#2. BCAAs

 

Branch chain amino acids are one of my absolute favorite supplements! They help your muscles recover quicker, not to mention the taste great! Branch chain amino acids are the build blocks of protein, and they aid in building and restoring muscle. BCAAs come in a variety of brands and flavors. You can take as many servings as you would like in one day, but I would recommend one serving. They are simply added to water, so they can count toward your total water intake for the day. They help break up the monotony of plain water. My favorite BCAAs are Amino Links and here is a link to purchase them. Amino Links

 

#3. Yohimbine

 

Yohimbine is somewhat disputed as a supplement, but I really like it. It’s known for a variety of effects, but I take it as a cortisol blocker. I am a highly stressed person, most of which is self induced. When we get very worried or our body is in stressful conditions we release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is known to not only cause you to maintain stubborn fat, but to even cause you to gain weight. In order to better manage my cortisol levels I take yohimbine in the mornings. So what is this supplement? Yohimbine is extracted from yohimbe, which is the bark on a tree found in Africa. It is rather inexpensive, and I really recommend giving it a try. Here’s a link to purchase it.

Yohimbine

Extra info about Yohimbine

Plantar Fasciitis and Shin Splints

5a7de604-fc35-4a43-95d9-f9ebb4032c88This article is going to discuss some of the most common injuries the running community faces, plantar fasciitis and shin splints. I have had my fair share of dealing with both of these issues, and believe me they are far from pleasant.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It is the inflammation, irritation or tearing of the plantar fascia tendon. The plantar fascia tendon is a thick band of connective tissue that runs the length of the foot to connect the calcaneus and the proximal phalanges. This band is responsible for supporting muscles of the foot and the arch.  It continually contracts and lengthens as the foot moves and helps the foot absorb forces. The main symptom to watch out for is stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heal. The pain is typically the most intense with the first few steps after rising. The acute pain can be triggered by extended periods of standing. The cause of plantar fasciitis is repetitive stretching and tearing of the tendon. Under normal circumstances, the plantar fascia acts as a bowstring, supporting the arch and absorbing shock. When overused it can become inflamed, irritated and even slightly torn.

There are risk factors for plantars fasciitis. Long distance running, ballet dancing and aerobic dancing are very common contributors. Being flat-footed, high-arched or having abnormal walking patterns can affect weight distribution resulting in increased stress on the plantar fascia. To diagnose plantar fasciitis doctors will examine the foot to pin-point the source of the pain. Typically there is no need for further testing, but in some cases the doctor may order an X-Ray or magnetic resonance imaging. The most common treatment is rest and over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which also reduce inflammation, along with icing. I’m very flat footed, so my plantar fascia is easily inflamed, and typically results in painful charley horses. I really recommend rolling the ball of your foot with a lacrosse ball or a foam roller. Of course having supportive shoes are a must. I love wearing either Chacos or Brooks running shoes to make sure I am getting the support I need.

Shin splints is an umbrella term used to describe all leg pain below the knee, and can be confused with other conditions. Shin splints are very common in athletes, runners and dancers. They usually occur when you change your regimen such as adding extra mileage, speed training or changing training surfaces. The concept is simply too much too fast. If not taken care of shin splints can develop into stress fractures over time, which will put you out of commision for a while. To treat shin splint you are going to need to rest, and allow your body to recover. I recommend icing them, and trying to steer clear of any high impact exercise. Instead of running try biking or hopping on the elliptical for a lower impact cardio workout.

The main point is listen to your body! If you’re hurting badly then stop! I cannot stress the importance of not pushing through high intensity pain. You will eventually have an injury that could likely have been prevented.

Here are some links if you want to read more about either of these conditions.

Shin Splint: Runner’s World

Plantar Fasciitis: Mayo Clinic

Obesity Epidemic

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Photo From: Slim Genics

To go along with my diabetes article, I want to discuss the obesity epidemic. Obesity— a word we hear over and over again. We know the complications involved with it, yet we continue to do nothing about this nationwide condition.  In 1990, only 15% of the adult population in the United States were considered obese. Now almost 78 million adults and 13 million children are struggling with obesity.  “By 2010, 36 states had obesity rates of 25% or higher, and 12 of those states 12 of those had obesity rates of 30% or higher.” (1) Roughly two out of three adults are overweight or obese, which is 69% of the population. Obesity rates have stayed pretty steady since 2003, but the childhood obesity is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. One out of three adolescents ages 2-19 are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity increases the likelihood of adult obesity, heart disease and type two diabetes. Unanimously, the scientific community the causes of obesity is simple: overeating and under exercising.

 

Our body sends signals to our brain that says, “hey, we’re hungry.” Once you eat your brain will receive signals that will giving you the feeling of being full, and consequently you will stop eating. This system that sends and receives these critical messages is called the homeostatic system, and it is responsible for causing hunger at certain times during the day and preventing them during the night when we are asleep. We also have the reward system, which too can stimulate the feeling of hunger regardless of the last time you ate. This system is triggered by the smell or sight of food.

 

We have all experienced the reward system when you walk by an ice cream or donut shop after a big dinner. Despite moments earlier feeling stuffed, you all of a sudden have room to get a sweet treat. When people allow this reward system to win over self discipline too often they find themselves constantly overeating, which by no surprise leads to being overweight or obese. Being born and raised in the South, I understand how food is seen as love. My grandmothers are known for both their country cooking and baking, and they love to feed you when you visit. It’s okay to splurge every now and again. The issue comes when you overindulge on a consistent basis. In the society we live, fast food, processed and refined junk is an easy way to feed a family. The “crap food”, if you will, is cheap, and an obvious choice for those on a budget. Consumers can’t afford to pay outrageous prices for fruits, vegetables and lean meats. On the other hand, it cost much more for producers to make healthy, wholesome products than it does to turn out the bad foods. Prior to just a few generations, refined carbohydrates, genetically modified organisms and sugar added food simply were not popular. Americans were eating home cooked meals. Yes they may have been high in fat content, but their foods were fresh. People lived off the land, and bought local vegetables, fruits and meat. They didn’t rely on prepackaged or canned food sources.

 

Not only is our food market different than years past, but our daily task are changing as well. Previous generations had much more intensive physical labor, and exerted more energy on a daily basis. They didn’t have machines to do the work for them, and many of them didn’t have the forms of transportation that we do today. The did manual labor as opposed to computer work. They walked and biked to and from work instead of driving or taking the subway.

 

How can we make the change we desperately need to see? It’s rather simple, eat less, eat better and get active. I’m a strong believer in baby steps because quitting things cold turkey often leads to failure. Begin to incorporate more fruits as dessert and try to cut down on the ice cream. Look into making fresh kale chips as opposed to each bagged potato chips. A big one is cutting down and eventually cutting out sodas, and drinking more water. Another biggie in regards to changing your diet is limiting the eating out. Yes, it’s quick and easy, but you don’t know what all is in your food. You don’t know where their meat and veggies are from, and you don’t know what all they are adding to that food. You are almost always given far more than just one serving, and as a result unconsciously overeat. No matter how hard you workout you cannot overcome poor eating habits, but adding some form of physical activity is always good. Start with something reasonable like walking. There is no need to over do it on your first few weeks of a new exercise regimen, which will usually lead to an injury or getting burnt out. If you like dancing try a zumba class and modify to meet your ability level.

 

When working on your weight loss, remember that you didn’t put the weight on overnight, so don’t expect it to come off overnight. Be patient and keep working to reach your goals. Set realistic short term goals, and once you meet them then make new goals.

 

 

1.Obesity Epidemic: Harvard University

2. Obesity: American Heart Association

3. Obesity Epidemic: WebMD

4. Controlling Global Obesity Epidemic: World Health Organization

1 Reason Why I Exercise

03bf0d73-7bc0-4b0a-9d10-201ef7914a58There are countless reasons why people choose to exercise, but one of the biggest ones for me is for my health. I have a family history of type two diabetes, and I want to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent the development of the disease. In this article I hope I can inform you of what type two diabetes is, and hopefully give you some extra motivation to keep pushing in your fitness journey.

 

Diabetes Mellitus: Type Two is a growing issues both in the United States and globally. As of 2012, 29.1 million American or 9.3% of the population had been diagnosed with type two diabetes, and approximately 1.4 million Americans are being newly diagnosed every year. This condition is growing at an alarming rate, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

 

So what is this common disease? Type two diabetes is a condition in which the body becomes resistant to insulin or the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. It’s unknown why this occurs, but it is thought to be related to genetics and environmental factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. In order to better understand type two diabetes it is important to understand the role of insulin and glucose. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted from the pancreas to the bloodstream. It enables sugar to enter your cells, and in turn lowers your blood sugar levels. Glucose is a primary source of energy for cells, and can be obtained from food or secreted from the liver. When your blood sugar levels are low, such as during intermittent fasting, your liver breaks down glycogen into glucose to help maintain homeostasis. Diabetic individuals do not properly move sugar from the bloodstream to the cells, and as a results have elevated blood sugar levels. To combat the high blood sugar levels the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas secrete more insulin, but eventually these cells will become exhausted and can no longer meet the body’s insulin needs.

 

Symptoms of type two diabetes develop rather slowly. You can have the disease for years, and never notice any issues. Classic signs of type two diabetes includes increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing wounds, frequent infection and areas of darkened skin. Diabetes can be diagnosed rather easily with one of three different types of test. One test option is an A1C test, which indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. A fasting blood sugar test is another common evaluation used to determine if you are diabetic. The final test option is a random blood sugar test in which a blood sample is taken at a random time of day. The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening for type two diabetes beginning at the age of 45, and possibly earlier if you are overweight.

 

There are risk factors for type two diabetes you need to be aware of. The primary risk factor is being overweight. Excess fatty tissue causes your cells to become more resistant to insulin, and the more fat around the abdomen increases risk. A sedentary lifestyle can increase risk. Physical activity helps control weight, and uses up glucose as energy so hit that gym. Family history along with ethnicity can cause a predisposition for the disease. It is unclear why, but people of races including: black, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian-American are at a higher risk for developing diabetes.

 

There are numerous treatment options for those diagnosed. Commonly those diagnosed with diabetes are prescribed Metformin, which works by improving the sensitivity of body tissues to insulin so it can be used effectively and lowering the liver’s production of glucose. While this medication can be helpful, it is important to make lifestyle changes to better treat diabetes. Weight loss and increasing physical activity are highly recommended to overweight and obese individuals who are suffering from diabetes. Additional weight training is good to incorporate. Muscle burns fat, which will help with fat loss goals. Along with exercise, diabetics need a diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. There is no specific diet for patients with diabetes, but avoiding sugary foods and refined carbohydrates is important.

 

Diabetes Mellitus: Type Two is a common disease, but should not be taken lightly. If it is not treated and monitored you can have serious complications including limb loss, diabetic coma and even death. The most effective way to treat type two diabetes is prevention. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition and exercise is the key.

 

Type Two Diabetes: Mayo Clinic

 

American Diabetes Association

How to take your food from 0 to 10

40202693-6bed-4e04-953f-f62a70913321Let’s be honest when you’re on meal plan foods can get bland… really quick. There is only so much chicken, rice and sweet potatoes you can eat until you need to spice it up. There is no reason to sacrifice you plan with sugar filled condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce or ranch dressing. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that I’m going to pass on to hopefully help when the time comes and food gets old.

 

#1. Spray Butter

Yes I said butter! Who knew you could have butter right? Well it isn’t exactly butter, but it sure taste like it when it’s been awhile since you’ve had the real stuff. I prefer the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter brand of spray butter. It comes in a yellow bottle, and cost around $4.00 a bottle. Parkay also has their version of spray butter that you might want to try. Both products are calorie free, and basically only contain a little bit of sodium.

So what to use it on? Honestly you can use it on anything! I really like using spray butter on my ezekiel bread, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and vegetables. The best is toasting your ezekiel bread spraying on some butter, and sprinkling on a little cinnamon and Truvia. Who knew cinnamon sugar toast could be healthy?

 

#2. Walden Farms Condiments

I am convinced Walden Farms was made, packaged and sent down straight from heaven! If you haven’t, you absolutely have to try one of their many condiments! I love, love, love condiments! I am one of those people who always ask for extra dressing at a restaurant, so obviously Walden Farms is right up my alley. I’ve really talked up this product, so I guess I should explain what it is. Walden Farms provides consumers with sugar free, fat free, gluten free and calorie free condiments. Yes people calorie FREE! Now when you think condiments you probably think ketchup, salad dressing and that’s about it. Good news, they have way more to offer! You can pick anything from salad dressings, coffee creamer, jellies and jams, chip dip and even syrup! They have tons of flavors, so you are almost guaranteed to find one you will like.

I will admit Walden Farms is a little pricey, and not many store carry their products. Your best bet of finding it in stores is Walmart, but if you’re willing to wait I would purchase it online. There are a few website I would checkout for price, and see where you can get the best deal. I will leave links at the end in case you’re interested.

So how do I use Walden Farms? I love use some of their salad dressings such as the Honey Dijon and the Raspberry Vinaigrette on my chicken. The coffee creamers are terrific, especially the mocha flavor! If you really want to try something out of this world, pick up a bottle of their pancake syrup, and drizzle that over your ezekial bread or sweet potato! You’ll feel like you’re splurging, but the best part is you’re not!

 

#3. Mrs. Dash Seasoning

For those of you watching your sodium intake then Mrs. Dash is for you! The seasoning brand has a variety of flavors, so you’ll be sure to find something that meets your fancy. Mrs. Dash products are all salt-free, and unlike some spices, calorie free as well. Since you aren’t worrying about blowing your sodium intake, you can use as little or as much as you would like. They are great for seasoning your chicken, ground turkey and ground beef. I always add some Mrs. Dash while I’m cooking, and if it’s not enough I’ll throw some on while I’m eating. The good news is that these seasonings are relatively inexpensive costing around $2.60 per spice.

 

#4. Cayenne Pepper

For those that love spicy, like me, then you’ll love this! Cayenne pepper is far from something new, and can be found at any grocery store. Its very inexpensive, and really heats up your food. I would only recommend this if you really enjoy spicy foods, and use it sparingly! There are some benefits to using cayenne pepper such as its antibacterial properties, antioxidant properties and  it helps support weight loss. If you would like to know more about the health benefits of cayenne pepper here is a link to an article written by Dr. Edward Group. Benefits of Cayenne Pepper: Dr. Edward Group

 

#5.Cinnamon

Again an old spice that has been used for hundreds of years. Of course you can find it at any grocery store, and it too is not an expensive item. Cinnamon, like cayenne pepper, has some health benefits. It has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It can help lower your bad cholesterol and might have anti-carcinogenic properties. Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory, and can help treat chronic headaches and arthritis. If you’re interested in how cinnamon could help you here is a link to better understand the special properties of this spice. Special Properties of Cinnamon

 

#6. G Hughes BBQ Sauce

I love barbeque sauce! I mean LOVE! Unfortunately, barbeque sauce has a high sugar content, which you want to avoid. Thankfully I have many friends in the fitness world who have much more experience than I do, and they have given me a few of their secrets, G Hughes being one of them. G Hughes is a sugar free and gluten free BBQ sauce that was created by an award winning pit master. It does have ten calories per two tablespoons, but that isn’t enough to worry over. It comes in three flavors: hickory, maple brown sugar and honey. Walmart carries the brand, but they no longer sale it in stores. You can order it off their website by single bottles or in bulk.

 

There are other condiments that are meal plan approved such as reduced sugar ketchup and Taco Bell hot sauce, both of which can be bought at walmart. I hope the ones I highlighted give you some delicious options to change thing up. Below I have included links to purchase some of the featured products.

 

Spray Butter

 

Walden Farms

This is the Walden Farms official website, but I would recommend Googling the product you want, and compare prices.

 

G Hughes BBQ Sauce

Half Marathon Training

image (2)Taking on the challenge of training for a half marathon is a daunting task. With so many different opinions of how to train and when to start it’s easy to get bogged down when trying to determine the best path for yourself.

From my personal experience from running three half marathons, I think the most important thing is to not underestimate 13.1 miles. Unless you are a natural, experience, long-distance runner, 13.1 miles will feel like an eternity. You need to really understand that this race will not just challenge you physically, but mentally too. There will be points in the race and training plan that you will question why you’re even doing this. You will hit walls that will knock you down, but you’ve got to get back up. With that being said, I want to encourage you to get a training partner. In the picture featured I am with my training buddy Hannah. She pushed me to limits I never imagined possible, and I enjoyed every step we took together. It helps to have someone to motivate and encourage you when things begin to get difficult.

Moving on with the not underestimating point, don’t expect to be ready for the big race day over night. It will take time to train up to 13.1 miles. I have tried extensive training plans that take around three months, and I’ve tried the ole winging it method. DO NOT wing it people! When I was in high school playing lacrosse, a spring sport, I tried training for a half marathon in April. My “training” consisted of very few long mileage days. I was running around five to six miles about two days a week, and only for a few weeks. I was relying on my stamina from my half marathon in February to pull me through. Needless to say when I made it to race day I was not prepared. I also did not take into account the change in geography. I was use to training in rolling hills with few flat stretches. My race location was far from that. My race was in Jackson, TN which is flat… I mean completely flat! I had no idea how to pace myself, and ultimately did rather poorly with my time. Learn from my experience, train consistently for an extended period of time, and take the location of your race into account when you are training at home.

There are loads of training programs that are easily accessible. There are programs for beginners to advanced levels. These different plans take into account where your current ability is, and aim to help you grow as a runner. My personal program is rather long. When I begin to train for my usual half marathon in February I start my plan around the end of November. I keep up my normal running throughout the week, which is usually three to five miles a day, and then I slowly up my Saturday mileage. Saturdays are perfect days for me to get in a long run since I don’t have school or work. I typically start with five or six miles as my long run, and begin to add one to two miles on each week. The maximum milage I run before the race is usually eleven to twelve miles. I do recommend that you incorporate some strength and core training. It is very helpful to have strong muscles to maintain an upright positions without slumping. Posture influences breathing.

Ultimately you have to decide what will work for you, your goals and your schedule. I am including some links to half marathon programs from credible running sources.

Beginner Plan from Runner’s World

Intermediate Plan from Runner’s World

Advanced Plan from Runner’s World

Meal Plan

 

I’ve been on my journey of meal plan for a year. It has had its ups and downs. Some days staying strict is so easy, and other days all I think of is pizza and donuts. Here are a few tips for success.

#1. Persevere through the first 3 weeks.

Based on my experience, and the experiences of some of my close friends in the fitness world, the first three weeks of any type of meal plan are the most difficult. This is when you are going to face the greatest cravings, which for me was pizza. You will have times that you feel very restricted because you’re use to choosing your food for each meal, and now you already have your menu set in stone. While the old 21 days to break or make a habit theory does not have scientific evidence, many scientist do believe there is truth in that plan. Everyone has a different brain chemistry, which does play a role in how you respond to changing stimuli, so it does take every individual a different amount of time to adapt to a new behavior.Here’s a link to an article regarding the 21 day theory. 21 Day Theory. My advice is when those thoughts of doubt or cravings hit think of your end goal. One of my favorite sayings is, ” A moment on the lips. Forever on the hips.”

#2. Buy a scale!

A food scale is such an important tool when meal planning. It is crucial to know the weight of your food in order to determine if you are hitting your macros. I use my scale EVERYDAY! I recommend a digital scale that will measure to the 100th decimal place. You can get a scale at Walmart, and it will cost anywhere between $20.00-$25.00. Here’s a link to buy a scale exactly like mine. Walmart.com

#3. Do not deprive yourself.

No cheating everyday will likely not give you the results you’re seeking. With that being said, you do need to reward yourself after a few weeks of meal plan. I prefer to have my cheat meals on Saturday evenings. I enjoy a meal followed with numerous desserts. The day after your chest be sure to hop back on the wagon, and get back to clean food.

 

#4. Find what macros work for you.

EVeryone’s body processes different macros in different ways. What I mean by this is some people do very well with higher carb and lower fat diets, and others see success with low carbs and high protein. for example, I do really well with higher fats and proteins. My body doesn’t effectively use carbs as energy. My mom on the other hand takes carbs and burns them. When she incorporates high fat she usually gains unwanted weight. So find what works for you and your goals.

#5. Don’t discuss your plan with others.

The main point I don’t recommend discussing your plan of action with others is simple: avoid conflict. Everyone has different opinions and theories of what works. There is paleo, carb cyclers, intermittent fasters and the list goes on. All of these different theories have passionate followers, so I find it best to just keep your plan to yourself.

#6. Change up your foods.

It’s always good to switch up your foods. Instead of eating chick try ground turkey. Drop the brown rice, and have some kidney beans. Along with changing food, change the way you cook them. I have recently changed from eating oven baked chicken to grilled chicken. This small change has made a drastic change in how I feel about my meals. The grilled chicken is much more flavorful, and that keeps me from straying to unhealthy food.

#7. Don’t go to extremes.

Like I said before, this isn’t a quick fix, so going to an extreme is not the answer. When we take extreme measures like cutting out all carbs we set ourselves up for failure. We need to make a lifestyle change that is maintainable. On the other hand, don’t go to the extreme on the other end. When you do decide you’ve earned a cheat meal, don’t make that into a cheat week. Remember it’s much easier to gain than to lose in regards to bad weight.

#8. Water!

Water is one of the most life sustaining substances for humans. It is so important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and to help your body’s cells to receive the nutrients they need. Water help purify our body by removing toxins. Water helps our body metabolize fats and carbohydrates. I try to drink one gallon of water a day, but a good equation to determine how much water you should drink is to consume half of your body weight in ounces. Here are two links for more information on water.Water Article 1     Water Article 2

#9. Eating out is possible.

No you don’t have to choose between meal plan and going out with friends. You can still eat clean at a restaurant. Order plain grilled chicken, fish or a small steak, and pair it with a side salad or steamed vegetable. As far as dressings, I would lean toward a vinaigrette, and ask for steamed veggies without butter.