Eccentric Exercise – More Benefits, Less Time

eccentric exercise, eccentric trainingDoing eccentric exercise can help you build more muscle, lose fat and takes less time. Eccentric training is defined as the active contraction of the muscle along with lengthening of the muscle. For example when you are doing a bicep curl, the eccentric part of the exercise is the lowering motion that occurs after you lift the dumbbell. The movement is done slowly to keep the muscle in a state of contraction for longer. Sometimes this type of training is known as “negative training” because it is the negative part of the movement. There are ways to do this at home and there are ways to do this at the gym. I will post some videos below from YouTube that will demonstrate some of the concepts of eccentric exercise.

Eccentric exercise trades quantity for quality. The goal is to put more of your muscle fibers to work. This means that you can get a better workout in, with better results in less time. This is not to imply, however, that it is easy. In fact, if you do this correctly it will be very tough and you will have some significant muscle soreness.

Examples of eccentric exercise

Push ups – doing an eccentric push up should be called a ‘lower down’ instead. You can do them from your toes, from your knees or against a wall. You start in push up postilion and then you lower yourself down VERY slowly to a count of 10. If your arms are too fatigued from the lowering you don’t have to do the upward motion of the push up. Just get back into position and do it again. Try to do it for a total of 6 lower downs. If you have enough strength left at the lowest part of the movement on the last one you can hold the lowest position for 10 seconds for some extra muscle contraction. Give it a try during your next workout!

This first video is the author of the book The Calorie Myth demonstrating how to do squats with eccentric exercise.

This next video is great for doing eccentric exercise with pull ups. I’m not strong enough (yet) to do pull ups the right way so this is how I strengthen the muscles involved in doing pull ups. I do have a pull up bar but I have also been known to do this on the trapeze bar on my kids’ swingset or on some playground equipment.

This next video shows how you can do a shoulder press, chest press, row and squats using eccentric training.

I’d love for you to try some of these exercises and post in the comments how you did. If you do these right you may find that you experience some significant muscle soreness the next day. Rest and let your muscles build and repair.

 

Beachbody Coach Sneak Peek

coach sneak peekWhat is Beachbody coaching?

I would love to share with you what I do as a coach. Yes, it is a business and yes I love building an extra income by coaching. But the real reason I do it is to inspire and encourage others. There is nothing like having someone thank you for helping them make a breakthrough in their health journey. Another reason I love coaching and helping other coaches is that it helps me stay accountable to continue healthy living. I lead by example and as I watch all of you work hard it helps me to work hard too.

I am not a dietitian or a personal trainer or a salesperson, I don’t hold a business degree and I have not always been the perfect picture of health and fitness. So what qualifies me to be a Beachbody coach? One main ingredient you need to be a successful coach is the desire to be better than you were the day before.

The week long coaching sneak peek involves a small private Facebook group. Each day I will give you a different glimpse into the business opportunity with posts and short videos to watch. Coaching is not a get rich quick deal. To be successful in any business you have to build relationships and that just takes time. But if you take it seriously and make consistent efforts you will have success. If you decide that coaching is for you I will provide free training, encouragement and support along the way.

Don’t forget to shoot me a friend request on Facebook if you aren’t my “friend” already. I’m looking forward to giving you a ‘Sneak Peak’ into what I love to do!

 

Edible Flowers to Spice Up Your Favorite Salad Recipe

salad recipe

Source: Wikimedia Commons, Krista

Looking for a new salad recipe? Are you tired of boring salads? Want to kick things up a notch? Want to take a plain Jane salad and make it fancy? Here are some great tips that might help put some variety into your quest to eat more vegetables.

Add some blooms found right in your vegetable patch.

There are edible blooms that grow in your flower garden but you can also find edible blooms right in your vegetable patch.  Some of these ‘edible blooms’ you actually know quite well, even if you haven’t thought of them as the flowering part of your vegetables. The broccoli and cauliflower we are familiar with are both actually flowers, just as the artichoke is also the flower of the plant.

In addition to the heads of cauliflower or broccoli being edible flowers, you can also allow the flower to flower, so to speak, and enjoy them as well.  The pretty yellow flower of the broccoli can be picked, cleaned, and enjoyed sprinkled on top of a bed of lettuce. The flowering shoots on cauliflower and artichokes can also be eaten. Experiment with the flavors to create a delicious, colorful gourmet salad.

Zucchini and other squash varieties have beautiful blooms that disappear after the vegetable forms. These blooms are delicious. To prepare them you can pick them when they are still small and closed. Wash them and prepare them by dipping in a light batter and fry briefly in a hot skillet. Add the cooked blossoms on top of your favorite mixed green or spinach salad. You can also just add the blossoms to your salad raw. It’s a quick way to make your salad into a gourmet salad.

Herb plants can be more than just seasoning.

You can use fresh herbs to add a gourmet touch to your salad, but you can also add the flowers from many of those herbs. Thyme, basil, fennel and cilantro blooms can be picked and added to your salad, sauce or dressing. I have never used the herb borage but it produces tasty flowers as well. You can also harvest dill flowers as they appear, but before the seeds form. They are great in your salad or in a yogurt dressing.

For a nice, delicious surprise in your salad you can allow an onion or garlic bulb to blossom. Instead of clipping your chives down to the ground, allow the pretty blue flowers to just open, then cut them immediately and serve on top of a spinach salad for a real gourmet look and taste.

A Weed by Any Other Name

Next time you’re mowing your lawn you may want to rescue those pesky dandelions. We consider dandelions a weed but they are actually an herb and they sport edible flowers. If you pick them when they are still closed they taste similar to honey. Once the flower opens, it will be bitter so pick them early when they are young.

Now that you know just how many options there are for finding gourmet ingredients right in your own vegetable garden, herb garden, and even your lawn, maybe it’s time to take a closer look.

Making Nutrition Simple: The Calorie Myth Review

Flickr Commons: Julia Frost

Flickr Commons: Julia Frost

In the book The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better , the author Jonathan Bailor recommends we eat what he calls “SANE foods.” SANE foods are those that trigger body fat burning hormones. Understanding this principle has been key for me in making nutrition simple. The acronym SANE stands for:

S – satiety
A – aggression
N – nutrition
E – efficiency

I will give a more detailed explanation of each category below. But to get you started, some good examples of SANE foods are non-starchy vegetables, lean meats, fish, whey protein, citrus, and berries. These types of foods are foods that we get from the earth, not manufactured in a factory. Bailor calls foods that are not recommended “inSANE” foods. Examples of the foods to avoid are processed food, dairy that has added sugar and fat, starches, sweets, and high-fat meats.

S stands for Satiety.

Satiety is a measure of how much a food fills you up. How much it satisfies you. In this respect a calorie is not a calorie. The fewer calories it takes to fill you up and the longer that food keeps you full the higher satiety value. We want to choose foods with a high satiety value. High satiety foods contain high amounts of protein, fiber and water.

Multiple studies show that if you eat more protein and high quality fat and less starches and sweets you will automatically eat fewer calories and yet feel fuller. This is good news! This means you can eat more nutrient dense, satisfying foods and still take in fewer calories. 

A stands for Aggression

This term refers to how likely the calories you eat are to be stored as fat. When your body is working optimally, the calories you eat are used to repair damage, to fuel you for your activities and then to storage as fat. When the body is overwhelmed by too many aggressive calories at once it gets overwhelmed and stores more as fat. The glycemic index is a good tool to tell how aggressive calories are. The higher a food is on the glycemic index, the more aggressive it is and therefore more likely to be stored as fat. Key point from The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor,

“Body-fat storage is not caused by eating a lot of food. Body-fat storage is triggered as a response to eating food that causes us to have more glucose in our bloodstream than we can use at one time.”

This does not mean that you need to run around checking the glycemic index all the time. If you stick to having most of your foods in the SANE category you will automatically eat more non-aggressive foods and you won’t have much room left for the aggressive starches and sweets.

N stands for Nutrition

Back to the concept that a calorie is not a calorie. For example 250 calories of cake is not equal to 250 calories of broccoli. Calories differ by how much nutrition is provided to our body. It’s important to focus on the quality of our calories.

We hear a great deal lately about how whole grains are more nutritious than other refined grains. That may be true in when comparing grains to grains, but there are better choices. For example if you eat 250 calories of non-starchy vegetables you get about 46 grams of fiber. On the other hand, you would have to eat 2,000 calories of whole-grain bread to get the same amount of fiber. So, if you eat your bread for the fiber, it’s not the best choice. Non-starchy vegetables also pack more protein per calorie than foods like nuts, bread, pasta, oats, milk and beans.

Quoting from The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor,

“Nutrition quality also affects whether we are burning body fat or slowing down and burning muscle. When we eat more water-, fiber-, and protein -packed food, we get more essential nutrients while avoiding overeating or overwhelming the body with glucose. Combine more nutrients with less overeating and fewer glucose spikes and we burn body fat without the negative side effects of starvation dieting.”

E stands for Efficiency

Some calories we eat are more efficient. What that means is that some calories are more likely to be stored as fat.  We want to choose inefficient calories. These are calories that takes work for the body to digest. The most inefficient foods are fiber and protein. Fiber is inefficient because it is not digested and the body burns additional calories trying to digest it. Protein is inefficient because it can’t directly be stored as body fat. It takes 5 steps to convert it to glucose to be stored as fat and each of those steps burn additional calories.  You can read the Calorie Myth to understand more about these steps.

Body fat cannot be stored without the hormone insulin and a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate. Both insulin and glycerol-3-phosphate are produced when we eat inSANE foods like starches and sweets. Eating less of these foods makes it tougher for our bodies to store fat.

So to summarize Jonathan Bailor’s SANE eating guidelines:

“We avoid overeating thanks to high-Satiety.

Calories are released into our bloodstream slowly and they trigger little insulin thanks to low Aggression.

Our bodies benefit from a number of essential nutrients thanks to high-Nutrition.

We burn a lot of calories during digestion thanks to low-Efficiency.”

(The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor)

To summarize we want to eat more of these foods: non-starchy vegetables, lean meats, fish, whey protein, citrus, and berries.

And eat less of these foods: processed food, dairy that has added sugar and fat, starches, sweets, and high-fat meats.

I hope these posts have not been too “science-y” for you. I just really enjoy understanding why I should choose certain foods over others. If you want to dig deeper I highly recommend that you get the book. Jonathan covers all the conventional wisdom and uses evidence-based information to uncover why there is a better way. Then he outlines the simple principles to help you make better choices and move towards optimal health.

 

 

July Clean Eating Challenge

   Do you struggle with clean eating or knowing WHAT to eat? Do you need help recovering from all the summertime BBQ’s and picnics? I am running a one-week clean eating challenge that starts on Thursday,July 18. I will provide the shopping list and the menu to take the guess work out of nutrition. We’ll finish up just in time for the next weekend!

For one week we will be sharing with you meal ideas and grocery lists for your to move towards CLEANER EATING. You will benefit by learning what foods may seem healthy but maybe aren’t that good for you. We’ll take a look at what your metabolism is doing to either work FOR you or AGAINST you in your health/fitness goals. Finally, we’ll make sure you have recipes that will not only work for YOU but for your entire family (especially dinner ideas). Sign up for the challenge using the form below. I’m glad you are joining us!

I last did this right before Memorial Day weekend, and that group was AMAZING! Everyone that put in the work saw results…they lost an average of 3 lbs and 2 inches off their waist and love handles….pretty great stuff!

Quick Fix for Weight Loss?

 

Quick fix for weight loss

Source: P. Kratochvil, Wikimedia Commons

Are you looking for a quick fix in your weight loss journey? I’m going to get a little real in this post today. I love coaching people, educating people and cheering them on along the way. But there are limitations. I am a great listener and I do a darned good  job encouraging people. However, I can’t drag you across the finish line. It’s something you have to do for yourself. You have to dig down deep and do the work. 

If you are the type of person that hops from fad diet to fad diet or is constantly finding the new hot thing that will help you lose weight, you might just find yourself in a lifetime of struggle. You may find temporary success and then find yourself back in the same situation you were in to begin with. Or sometimes You may end up in a worse situation. I know because I was that person. I want something better for you.
I want to help you end all that today. I want to help you learn to take one or two small goals at a time, build an action plan, and conquer it. Then we take the next steps. The compound effect of the small steps result in permanent change. I am encouraging changes that will last, not a quick fix. I hope you will join me in this journey.
Comment below or email me at info@cravingfitness.org if you want help planning a workout, tuning up your nutrition or if you just need some encouragement.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Join me for 30 days to focus on your nutrition and fitness to master the skills needed to:

  • improve your health
  • lose weight
  • and get fit

My next 3o day challenge starts July 1, 2014 but we will start with some preparation the week before so you can be successful. We will focus on exercise – you pick your own workout program or routine. If you don’t currently have a workout program I can help you select one. We will also focus on nutrition. Not a specific diet but concentrating on clean, healthy foods and weeding out the things that don’t serve us well.

During this 30 day challenge we will shift the focus away from the scale and onto daily accomplishments, daily wins. And as you build on your wins you will start to establish good habits and get better at doing what’s right for your body. I will add you to a private Facebook group the week before the challenge starts so we can get to know each other and prepare for a great July. Summer time brings it’s own challenges to trying to stay healthy. I do this in a Facebook group because of the power of group accountability. Studies show that people are more successful in achieving their goals when they are accountable to others. As a group we share tips, recipes, ideas and encouragement. I will post daily encouragement & tips and each day there will be an accountability post where you will share how you’re doing.

Join me in this 30 day challenge to improve your  nutrition, get more fit and lose weight. Quiet all the excuses in your head and fill out the form below or comment below  “I’m in” to join.

Date: July 1, 2014—July 30, 2014
Time:
Event: 30 Day Challenge: Improve Your Fitness and Nutrition
Topic: Fitness And Nutrition
Public: Public

One Week Clean Eating Challenge Starts June 12, 2014

clean eating challengeDo you struggle with clean eating or knowing WHAT to eat? I am putting together a one-week clean eating challenge that starts on Thursday, June 12. I will provide the shopping list and the menu to take the guess work out of nutrition. We’ll finish up just in time for the next weekend!

For one week we will be sharing with you meal ideas and grocery lists for your to move towards CLEANER EATING. You will benefit by learning what foods may seem healthy but maybe aren’t that good for you. We’ll take a look at what your metabolism is doing to either work FOR you or AGAINST you in your health/fitness goals. Finally, we’ll make sure you have recipes that will not only work for YOU but for your entire family (especially dinner ideas). Glad you are joining us!

I last did this right before Memorial Day weekend, and that group was AMAZING! Everyone that put in the work saw results…they lost an average of 3 lbs and 2 inches off their waist and love handles….pretty great stuff!

My Summers with the Fish at Rainbow Falls

Rainbow FallsI spent two glorious summers working at a private fishing resort called Rainbow Falls in Woodland Park, CO. I was a teenager who had grown up on the beach in California and I found myself at age 13 transplanted into the middle of the woods in Colorado. This is the third post in a series titled 5 Random Things About Me. I hope you enjoy this one. It’s bringing back lots of great memories.

We moved to Colorado after my freshman year of high school. It was like moving to another country. I grew up in Southern California near the beach. From a very large high school, traffic, tract houses, plenty of restaurants and stores to a log house in the middle of the woods 10 miles outside of the nearest small town (1 stop light in town). It was wonderful. I made several new friends right away. I’m not an extrovert but this happened because they came and found me and I’m thankful for that. I had spent the last year in a big high school and suddenly I was surrounded by new friends.

Within a short time, my new friends introduced me to a wonderful place several miles down the highway called Rainbow Falls. It was a private fishing resort with trout ponds and several lakes where you could pay to fish. The lakes were all stocked and when you bought a pass to fish there you were guaranteed to get your limit. I fell in love with this place and the people who owned it. I can’t even remember how it happened but one of my new found friends and I got summer jobs there and worked there for two summers. They were some of the best times of my life.

My friend Todd and I worked for almost nothing. We worked for the pure joy of what we were doing. It felt like being paid to have fun. We cleaned fish for the guests, we sorted and fed trout, we stocked the ponds and lakes and we helped run the store. Every day seemed like a new adventure. Some days I would come home. stinking like fish and my mom would have a bath already drawn up for me. I’d collapse into the tub, exhausted and happy. I don’t eat fish (ironic, I know) but I would bring fresh fish home for my parents and sometimes I would bring a bag of fish guts home to feed a raccoon family that would come up onto our porch. Every day we had lunch cooked for us by a German lady who fed us huge amounts and insisted that we ate every bite.

Having this opportunity as a kid was a great experience. I was also able to volunteer at a Lion’s camp for handicapped children one summer. These early work experiences set the tone for my future career. I learned that you could be fulfilled by working in a job that you love. I learned that working hard was a reward in itself. I learned that I loved working with people. Even though these jobs were very different from my eventual career as a nurse, they built a solid foundation.

When I was getting ready to write this post I looked to see if Rainbow Falls had a website. I found that they are now called Rainbow Falls Mountain Trout, Inc. and they are now a limited membership resort.  You can find them at http://www.rainbowfallsmt.com/index.php/about_our_club/fishing_at_rainbow/

Did you have summer jobs as a kid?

Best Protein for Weight Loss and Healthy Living

Best protein for weight loss

Credit: jetalone/Flickr

Macronutrients are the major nutrients required by the human body. There are three types of macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. In this article we will answer the questions:

What is protein?

Why do we need protein?

What is the best protein for weight loss or for all around healthy living?

Protein is a necessary part of our diet. Protein is part of every cell in the body. It makes up the building blocks for our hormones and neurotransmitters. It is needed for muscle health, growth and recovery. A diet lacking in protein will result in illness and breakdown of the body.

Protein breaks down through the process of digestion into amino acids. There are a total of 20 amino acids. 12  of the amino acids can be made from carbohydrates, fats and other acids in your body. The other 8 amino acids are known as essential amino acids and you MUST get them from the food you eat – your body can’t make them.  Symptoms of a lack of protein and therefore a lack of essential amino acids can include:

  • muscle loss
  • hair loss
  • depressed immune system
  • low energy
  • decreased bone strength

There are two categories of proteins. Complete proteins provide all 20 amino acids. When you eat a complete protein the body can absorb 85-99% of the protein. Examples of complete proteins are beef, poultry, fish, milk cheese and yogurt. Sources for vegetarians include soy, hemp, tempeh and seitah. Incomplete proteins lack a variety of amino acids. These are plant-based proteins. Combining incompete proteins can give you all 20 amino acids. Unfortunately, not all of it is digestible so the body cannot absorb as much of this type of protein.

How much protein should I eat?

According to Jonathan Bailor of The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better, “It’s important to aim for a minimum serving of about 30 grams of protein at least 3 times a day.  When we eat 30 grams or more of protein it provides enough leucine to rebuild our muscle tissue. Without adequate levels of leucine we risk losing muscle tissue. 100 – 200 grams of protein a day is needed depending on your body’s needs. A smaller sedentary person needs less protein than the person who is actively bodybuilding.

Best Protein for Weight Loss and Healthy Living

The following are high quality sources of complete protein:

  • Grass-fed, organic beef – Grass-fed beef is cleaner, healthier and more flavorful than beef that is grain fed or grain finished.
  • Pastured chickens – this meat is rich in essential fatty acids and is a great source of protein. This can include any type of pastured poultry or wild game.
  • Pastured eggs – provides Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Omega-3, Vitamin E and Beta Carotene in higher levels than store-bought eggs.
  • Wild salmon is rich in Omega-3 and is a nutritious source of fat and protein.
  • Other seafood – protein in fish and shellfish is very easy to digest and the amino acids are more bioavailable (easier to absorb and use). Rich dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
  • For those that enjoy that sort of thing – reptiles and amphibians are good protein sources and provide vitamins and minerals.
  • Greek yogurt – avoid yogurts with added sugars.
  • Shellfish  – clams, oysters, mussels, snails – rich in iron, zinc, selenium, iodine omega 3, proteins.
  • Whey protein isolate – high protein concentration, good if you cannot get enough protein with whole foods. My favorite brand of whey protein is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Whey because they don’t use any artificial sweeteners or artificial flavors. Vegetarians or people who are lactose intolerant can use concentrated protein from pea protein or brown rice protein such as Now Foods Pea Protein or Nutribiotic Rice Protein
  • Liver (from grass-fed or pastured animals) – a rich source of protein that also provides vitamin A, copper, choline, and B vitamins.

So eat your protein and enjoy eating real food! Stay tuned for future articles on fats and carbohydrates.