Monday, March 30, 2015

Desk Yoga – Part 2

Since I got some great feedback on my Desk Yoga post a couple of months I figured I’d share some more great stretches you can do right at your desk!  Today we’re going to focus on shoulders.

Strap Shoulder Stretch


For this pose you can use a yoga strap if you have one, but let’s assume you don’t – you are sitting at your desk after all!  A towel, or sweater will work just fine!

Bring your right arm up overhead holding the strap/towel/ sweater and bend your elbow so that your hand comes behind your head.  Begin with your left arm at your side and bend your arm so that your left hand comes to your mid-back, reach for and grab the strap/towel/sweater and allow the weight of your left hand to gently pull and open your right shoulder. 

Hold for 3-5 breaths and repeat on the other side!




Desk Dolphin


Clasp your hands together in front of you and place your elbows on the desk shoulder distance apart.  Fold forward and lower your head keeping it in a neutral position until your back is even with your upper arms.  For an added stretch drop your clasped hands behind your neck.

Hold for 3-5 breaths and repeat.




Seated Half Locust


Clasp your hands behind your back keeping your neck in a neutral position and your spine long.  Inhale and lift your hands off your back opening through the chest and front of the shoulders.  For an added stretch keep the palms of the hands together.

Hold for 2-3 breaths then change the clasp of the hands (opposite thumb on top) and repeat.



Just because you spend much of your day sitting at a desk doesn’t mean you can’t give your shoulders a good stretch!

And if you can get away from you desk I hope you’ll join me on the mat for yoga at Mashpee Fitness Monday and Thursday mornings at 8:30am!

Namaste
Danielle


Blog post by Danielle Nardi.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fresh, Frozen, or Canned: What is best for your Fruits and Vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are good for you no matter what. This is something that we have known for quite a while. What is the actual difference between fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and veggies? Is there a difference? 

Of course fresh fruits and veggies are going to be the best for you but we all know that they can be more expensive and they don’t last as long as canned or frozen items.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of what you buy no matter what form it comes in.

Canned fruits/veggies:

-    Cut out the salt – look for cans that are labeled “low salt”. Salt is added to these types of foods to try to preserve the item. Many times companies will reduce the salt in the can which makes it a much healthier choice.
-    Avoid added sugars – many cups of fruit or veggies will come in little cans that will say “with fresh fruit juice” or “with added syrup”. Try to stay clear of the syrup since it has more sugar. The fresh fruit juice would be the way to go. Also look for “no sugar added” or “unsweetened” cans. The less sugar the better!
-    Nutritional value of canned fruits and veggies tends to stay fresh up until you open the can. Make sure you eat your canned fruits or veggies right after you open it to get the maximum nutrition value and taste.
-    If you have dented or bulging cans throw them out or return them if they were just purchased. This could decrease the nutritional value and quality of the food.

Frozen fruits/veggies:

-    Check the label to make sure there is no added sugar in the packaging. Also make sure you opt for the “sugar free” or “no sugar added” packages.
-    Frozen fruits and veggies should be eating within 8 months of purchase.
-    Try to avoid the veggies and fruits that have the added dressing or sauces in them.

Bottom line: Fresh is always better but any fruits and vegetables is better than none!


Blog post by Krista Post.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Yoga: Make it Your Own

If you’ve taken one of my yoga classes you’ve probably heard me say that I love looking around the room and seeing everyone doing something different!

It’s not that I don’t want people following along with the poses and sequences that I’m offering, but I know that not every pose works for every person and if something doesn’t work for you then you shouldn’t do it!  We each come to our yoga mat with different expectations, backgrounds and limitations and we need to respect those and work within our own comfort zone.

One of the most important, and often most difficult, things yoga students need to learn is to listen to your own body and do what’s right for YOU (which may not necessarily be what’s right for the person on the mat next to you!).  Most yoga teachers will offer different variations of poses giving the student the power to choose what’s right for them whether it’s a modification or taking a pose to it’s fullest expression – and just because you may have practiced the fullest expression in class last week doesn’t mean you need to do it again today! 

And don’t forget if you ever need a break, child’s pose is always there for you!  (I promise no one is judging you if you take a child’s pose in the middle of class, in fact, I silently applaud those that do because I know they’re listening to what their bodies need!)

One of the things I love about yoga is that between the many different styles, the modifications available and the use or props, it really can be accessible to everyone.  So listen to your body, listen to the options the teacher is offering and make your practice your own!

I hope to see you soon in my Monday and Thursday 8:30am classes at Mashpee Fitness!

Namaste
Danielle
Blog post by Danielle Nardi.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to Fuel Up for your 5k Race

Tis the season! With spring around the corner and nice weather ahead, some of us are looking forward to signing up for a 5k or another type of fun run. Nutrition is especially important when you are looking to run a long distance. You want to make sure your body is well balanced and replenished before, during, and after the run.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your energy going this running season:
  1. Keep hydrated to replace sweat losses. Dehydration can cause fatigue and impair your performance. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after your run.
  2. Start with a full tank: Plan your meal for the night before as well as the morning. The meals before your race are the most important because this is where most of your fuel is going to be coming from.
  3. Make sure you include plenty of protein and healthy carbs into your pre run meals or snacks. Protein helps rebuild and repair your muscles. Carbs help provide you with the fuel you need to last prior and post run.
  4. Do not run on an empty stomach.
  5. If you are planning on eating during your run or race, choose foods that are easily digestible such as a banana or a granola bar.
  6. Don’t try any new foods on race day. You never know how your body will handle it especially when you may be running long distance.
  7. Fuel after your workout – Drink plenty of water. You also may want to consider getting a sports drink to replace the vital electrolytes you just lost. If you can, make sure you have a meal shortly after that includes plenty of protein to rebuild those muscles.

Not everyone is built the same so every nutrition goal is individualized. If you need help with your fitness or nutrition goals, schedule an appointment with a trainer or nutrition consultant.


Blog post by Krista Post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Avoiding Fad Diets

A fad diet is weight loss plan that tends to promise fast results in a short period of time. Many people will turn to a fad diet in hopes of getting the quick results that they are promised. Unfortunately there is no food or pill that will magically make us burn fat. It would be nice though! Many of the claims, testimonials, and images on a fad diet product or menu may be deceiving to the consumer and sometimes can confuse them even more. 

Here are a few tips to help you steer clear of any diet plans or products that may be considered a fad diet.

Avoid claims for a rapid weight loss: The average healthy weight loss per week should be about 1-2 pounds. Slow and steady weight loss is more likely to last then rapid weight loss would. If you lose weight quickly you will most likely lose muscle, bone and water. You will also be more likely to put the weight you lost back on after the diet is finished.

Avoid diets that focus on certain foods or food combinations: For example the cookie diet or the cabbage diet. Focusing on one type of food is not a healthy way to lose weight. You want to make sure you are getting a mixture of all the food groups and not avoiding any.  It can be dangerous to eliminate a certain food group such as carbs. It also gets boring to eat the same food over and over again!

Avoid rigid/ complicated menus: Life can be complicated at times so why should your food have to be too. We have too many other things going on in our life then to sit down and strategically plan certain foods to eat at certain times. Think to yourself “could I eat this way for the rest of my life”. If the answer is no, then that diet is not for you.

Avoid diets that say you don’t need to exercise: Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. If you are looking to lose weight then you need a healthy combination of both nutrition and fitness. It also is essential that you get exercise in for good health. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.

Keep in mind these simple steps when identifying whether or not a diet is considered a fad diet. Just remember that quick and easy is not always the solution.

Blog post by Krista Post

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 Quick Exercises to Help Correct Poor Posture

Look Familiar?


We all know that we should all sit up straight with our shoulders back and our feet under our knees, so why don’t we?

The effects of poor posture can include but are not limited to:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Arthritis
  • Decreased Range of Motion
  • Nerve Entrapment
  • Spinal Disease/Dysfunction
  • Inability to Perform Daily Functions

Here are 5 quick exercises to strengthen the core and help correct poor posture.

Pelvic Tilt

This exercise helps to flatten your lumbar spine to help keep you from hyperextending your back while strengthening your lower abdominal muscles.



Supine (Glute) Bridge

This exercise practiced with a pelvic tilt, keeping a flat back, will ensure that you feel this in your gluteal muscles rather than in your back from hyperextension.



1/2 Roll Thoracic Mobilizations

This exercise is used with deep breathing so when you bring your elbows down and toward the table, exhale and get as much stretch across the front of your chest and try to flatten your upper back. This is where most individuals have rounded shoulders.



Back to Wall Breathing

Stand 8" away from wall. Set your core by doing a pelvic tilt then hinge your butt back to the wall, flatten back up the wall from pelvis to shoulders one back bone at a time, take a big breath in through the nose then exhale as if you were blowing up a balloon in one try. You should feel a good contraction of you core muscle if you maintain a flat back against the wall. 




Scapular Squeezes

By squeezing your shoulder blades straight across this will help flatten out the rounder shoulders and help improve the forward head posture that is caused by it.



Blog post by Craig Moody.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Yoga: Hamstring & IT Band Stretch

Tight hamstrings and IT bands are an issue for many people (especially athletes!), so today I’m sharing a great way to take care of those areas with a simple stretch you can do right at home!

For this stretch you’ll need a yoga strap if you have one, if not a belt, dog leash or rolled up towel will work perfectly fine.  As always remember to listen to your body and only go to the point where you feel a gentle stretch, if you feel pain you went too far.

PROPS

  • A yoga strap, belt or towel


HAMSTRING STRETCH


  • Begin laying on your back with both legs extended out on the ground
  • Bend up your right leg and place the strap, blanket or a rolled up towel around the ball or arch of your right foot
  • Extend the leg with the strap straight up towards the ceiling keeping the foot flexed and leg active
  • Hold and take 3-5 breaths here to lengthen and stretch the hamstring muscle



IT BAND STRETCH

  • Move the strap to your left hand and slowly cross the right leg towards the left side of the body until you feel a gentle stretch on the outside of your right leg (that’s your IT band!)
  • Hold and take 3-5 breaths here to stretch the IT band

  

Repeat the sequence on the other side.

Done regularly these simple stretches can do wonders for that pesky hamstring and IT band tightness!

Don’t forget you can join me on the mat Monday and Thursday mornings at 8:30am at Mashpee Fitness!

Blog post by Danielle Nardi.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Combat Cabin Fever

Starting to feel a little cooped up?  Physical and psychological well-being go hand in hand. Not only can the winter weather put a halt to many of our regular routines, but it can also be extremely stressful. You might be re-arranging your schedule due to nasty commuting conditions, straining to keep the driveway and walkways shoveled, salted, and sanded or simply cooped up indoors with anxious pets and energetic children. Regardless, you are feeling the stress and stress is harmful to your well-being.

Too much stress can expedite the aging process and increase your risk for heart conditions.

Regular exercise is an extremely effective way to reduce stress. Not only does regular exercise decrease stress but it increases the oxygen supply to your brain, stimulating that “feel good” sensation that seems to be missing right now. For some, getting away from the cramped quarters and finding 30 minutes of time to take a walk, do some cardio, or see your personal trainer is exactly what you need to relieve the tension. For others, escaping from the seclusion of your snowed-in house and meeting a friend or simply enjoying the social interaction of others while enjoying group-exercise is what you need. For many of us, the thought of doing anything outdoors is unbearable, but that doesn’t mean you should huddle up and let the stress take over.

Don’t let yourself stress about fitting exercise into your routine when the weather takes over.

Reduce your stress and plan ahead for your visit to the gym.

Step one in stress reduction: Be prepared.

Pack

Don’t plan on exercising in your boots. The night before, grab a gym bag, backpack, or plastic bag. If you want to do some land exercise pack your sneakers, a t-shirt and your favorite pair of yoga pants or shorts. If you want to enjoy the heated indoor pool (88°), pack your suit, towel, and flip-flops. Don’t forget that water bottle! Packing before will decrease your worries about “having enough time” and increase your likelihood of following through with your commitment.

Call Ahead

Less people outdoors means more people indoors. Don’t let yourself miss out on that SPIN, YOGA, or WATER INTERVAL class. Call ahead and reserve a spot on the list and you can check another stressor off your list.

Leave Early

The roads may or may not be plowed, salted, or sanded. Some people are in a rush, but you don’t need to be! Everyone knows that travel conditions are poor; don’t take the blame but don’t let it stress you out either. Leaving just five minutes early can make all the difference in the world and there is no guilt in arriving early to the gym.

Step two in stress reduction: Take care of yourself.

Be Mindful

Leave work at work and home at home. Let yourself slip away into the oasis of the pool, listen to the beat of your feet on the treadmill or your favorite music-mix, or simply focus on your breathing. Being mindful decreases anxiety and depression. Focus your mind inward, bringing your attention to your body and the sensations of the moment. Feel the stress leaving your body as you exercise. You deserve this.

Rest & Recover

Finish off your routine with a little stretching, a hot shower, or sitting for a few minutes in the pool jets. Hydrate and fill up on a nutritional winter meal. I recommend crock-pot meals for stress reduction (easy prep and clean-up). Try spaghetti squash with meat sauce in the crockpot – one of my personal favorites! For a low calorie hold-the-guilt beverage try  adding cut up fruit to your water (strawberries, kiwis, or lemons).

Step three: Relax.

Congratulate yourself on sticking to your commitment and taking a little time for yourself. Take a deep breath and kick back your feet. You earned it!

Blog post by Gladys Hester.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Nutrition Labels 101

March is National Nutrition Month. What better way to celebrate it then by learning about how to read a food label. Have you ever wondered what the term “low fat” or “calorie free” actually means? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers strict guidelines on how foods must be labelled. The food label may seem complicated when looking at it but once you understand what you are looking for and what you are reading, you will be on a track to picking out healthier foods.

Here are a few label terms that are important to know:

Low calorie: 40 calories or less per serving size

Low cholesterol: 20 mg or less and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving size

Reduced: At least 20% or less of the specific nutrient or calories than the usual product would have

Calorie free: Less than 5 calories per serving

Fat free or sugar free: Less than a ½ gram of fat or sugar per serving

Low sodium: 140 mg or less of sodium per serving

High in: Provides 20% or more of the daily value in a specific nutrient per serving


On the actually nutrition label, you will see that on the top it says serving size. The serving size is the amount of food that the nutrition label is based on. For example if a cup of soup says a serving size is half a cup then the nutrients listed are based on half a cup. Underneath the serving size, it will list servings per container. This is how many servings are actually in a container. If you eat the whole container of the food product then you want to multiply all the nutrients/calories by the servings per container number to get the total intake.

Underneath the serving size and servings per container, the label will list the amount of calories that the serving contains as well as the fat, cholesterol, vitamins, and minerals. It will give you the amount as well as a percentage.

The percent daily value or the %DV is the percentage of your total daily nutrient requirement that the particular nutrient gives you. For example if the %DV for sodium is 35% then you are consuming about 35% of your daily intake of sodium in that one food item.

Last but not least, make sure you take a look at the ingredient list on the bottom of the label. It is listed in order of abundance from greatest to least. If sugar is the first ingredient listed, then it is the most abundant ingredient in the food item.

With these tips, you should be on the right path to being able to read these labels with ease. Remember practice makes perfect!

Blog post by Krista Post.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Yoga For Your Feet

We spend so much time on our feet, yet ironically we don’t usually think to stretch them at all!

Here are a few simple yoga poses that can help keep your feet healthy and pain free!

ARCH STRETCH


Begin on your knees with your toes curled under.  Slowly sit back on to your heels until you feel a gentle stretch in your arches.  Hold for 3-5 breaths and then uncurl your toes. 


*It is very important in this pose to listen to your body and find the variation of this pose that works best for you – you should feel a gentle stretch, NOT pain!


ALTERNATE ARCH STRETCH


If the above stretch is too much you can start off with a less intense version.  Begin seated on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, feet flexed.  Using your hands or a strap reach around your toes or the ball of your foot and gently pull back until you feel a stretch in your arches.



TOP OF THE FOOT STRETCH


Now that we’ve stretched the bottom of our feet, let’s not forget the top!

Begin kneeling with the tops of your feet flat on the floor.  Slowly lift your knees and rock backwards until you feel a gentle stretch on the top of your feet. 


To help alleviate arch tightness you can also roll your foot on a tennis ball or golf ball using your own body weight to control the pressure.  Make sure to roll out all parts of your foot working from your heel to the ball of your foot.

What better way to keep your feet happy than incorporating these simple stretches into your daily routine or yoga practice!

Don’t forget you can join me on the mat at Mashpee Fitness Thursday mornings at 8:30am!

Blog post by Danielle Nardi.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Inverted U Theory

Mental arousal plays a significant role in achieving optimal performance and results through training. Sports psychologists have devised a theory revolving around the relationship between arousal and performance. It has been hypothesized that every individual has his or her own “optimal” level of arousal, which is necessary for peak performance.

The Inverted-U Theory image below displays the parabolic curve representing pressure/arousal vs. performance.  As you can see this theory supports that there is a point in arousal level that warrants optimal performance. Although this differs from person to person there are still small factors that influence performance levels.  

According to the model, peak performance is achieved when people experience a moderate level of pressure. Where they experience too much or too little pressure, their performance declines, sometimes drastically.


There are ‘Four Influencing Factors’ that determine the optimal level of performance. These factors include:
  1. Skill Level
  2. Personality
  3. Trait Anxiety
  4. Task Complexity

1. Skill level greatly determines the level of success an individual will experience with a given task. The higher skill level individuals will have more experience and therefore will have less stress, anxiety, and pressure during the task. For example this could be a NFL Linebacker performing a barbell back squat. The high skill level people will find exercises like this to be second nature and will require little thought and more focus on execution. Find your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

2. Personality affects performance by extroverts tending to perform better in high-pressure situations while introverts tend to perform better during a low-pressure situation. Those extroverts are able to focus on performing the task even though there are many on-going distractions. An example would be any professional performing on a big stage. How would you respond?

3. Trait Anxiety is the level of self-approval the individual experiences during the situation. For example, people who are confident tend to perform better under pressure while those who are too concerned about failing a task are more apt to fail. Confidence is key and is associated with more positive thinking individuals.

4. Task Complexity is the level of attention and effort necessary to complete a task successfully. It tends to be that most people perform basic activities more efficiently in high-pressure situations and better perform complex activities in more low-pressure situations.

So how can this be used in your daily life?

For exercisers; exude confidence, focus on improving your skill level, and choose your tasks/exercises wisely. Although many factors can influence your performance, try to monitor your arousal levels during exercise and see what works best for you.

Blog post by Evan Healy CSCS.