Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Laying Off the Salt

With the cold weather still lingering around us, nothing sounds better than making a nice cup of hot soup for lunch or dinner to warm you up. Not to mention that the food companies make it very convenient for you to heat up a quick cup of soup in the microwave or stove. 

Have you ever had a minute to take a look and see what is in your soup? Most cans of soups tend to be jam packed with a mineral called sodium. Sodium (also known as salt) is an essential mineral for our bodies but if we consume too much of it then it can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, or heart disease.

Many foods that we eat contain sodium because it is naturally present. Other foods such as processed foods have added salt in them to preserve the food item. An example of this would be canned soup or frozen dinners you find the freezer aisle at the grocery stores. Sodium is needed in our body to help maintain the balance of body fluids and help nerves and muscles work properly. We do need to get our sodium intake but in moderation. Aim for no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Some people may even need to consume less than that. If you are middle aged or older or have high blood pressure then you should aim to get at the most 1,500 mg of sodium per day. 

Here are a few tips to help you lower your sodium.

-          Buy fresh, frozen, or no salt added canned vegetables

-          Choose foods labeled low sodium, no salt added, or sodium free

-          Do not add salt to the water when cooking beans, rice, pasta, or vegetables

-          Cut back on meats high in sodium such as ham, hot dogs, and sausage

-          Cut back on consuming canned soups unless they are listed as low sodium

-          Fill your salt shaker with a mix of herbs and spices to use instead of salt to help give your food some flavor

Remember that we still do need to consume sodium so don’t cut it off your menu completely. It is all about the moderation!

Blog post by Krista Post.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yoga: Where to Begin

I love introducing yoga to beginners but I also know that starting any sort of new fitness routine can be intimidating if you don’t know what to expect! 

Here are a few tips for making it to and through your first yoga class.

Find the Right Class

There are many different types of yoga, so before you head out to a class do a little research and make sure you find the class that’s going to be best for you.  

While most classes can be modified to be suitable for any level, if you’re totally new to yoga you’ll likely feel most comfortable in a beginner or foundations class where the pace will be a little slower and the teacher will break down each pose step by step.

What to Wear

You want to be able to use your full range of motion in yoga, so be sure to wear something that allows you to move freely but isn’t so loose that it’s getting in your way during your practice.  Yoga is traditionally done barefoot, so be prepared to leave your socks and sneakers at the door!

What to Bring

Many yoga studios and gyms have yoga props such as mats, blocks and straps that you can use, but if you’re going to be practicing regularly I’d suggest looking into getting your own mat.  Mats vary in their cushioning and “stickiness” (non-slip feature), so it’s helpful to find one that works best for you.

You may also want to bring a towel (especially for hot yoga!) and a water bottle to stay hydrated during your practice.

Talk to the Teacher

When you arrive at class, be sure to let the teacher know this is your first time or that you’re new to yoga – it’s helpful to know when there are new students to make sure the class is paced correctly and the poses are appropriate.

Also be sure to let the teacher know about any injuries you may be working with so they can suggest modifications or alternatives to poses that may not be right for you to practice.

Make it your own

Instructors will often offer modifications or different versions of poses as they are teaching – make sure to find and practice the version of the pose that is appropriate for your body and your experience level – remember, it’s more important to make sure the alignment of the pose is correct rather than trying to do the deepest expression of the pose!

Incorporating yoga into your fitness routine offers many benefits as long as you listen to your body and make your practice right for you!

I’ll be teaching at Mashpee Fitness at 8:30am on Thursday mornings – hope to see you there!

Blog post by Danielle Nardi.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Top Foods for a Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the number one killer in the US but is very preventable through different life style changes such as nutrition. A healthy diet is one of the best precautions you can take to help prevent heart disease. 

In honor of American Heart Month in February, here are a few foods that are sure to keep you heart healthy:


Eating this type of fish can provide you with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are known to lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk, reduce irregular heartbeats, and reduce inflammation. No wonder salmon is so heart healthy! Try to eat about 8 ounces of salmon per week. If salmon isn’t your thing then try a different type of fish to get the omega-3 fatty acids that you need.


Oatmeal is packed with fiber that helps regulate blood sugar levels and get excess cholesterol out of the body. To achieve this benefit, try to eat about 3 grams of soluble fiber per day. This would be about a cup and half of oatmeal in the morning.


Walnuts are full of omega-3s, fiber, Vitamin E, and folate all of which promote a healthy heart. Not only that but they are rich in polyunsaturated fats. These kinds of fat have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Be careful though cause nuts are high in calories. Serving size for walnuts is about 15 walnut halves.


Spinach is rich in potassium which can lower blood pressure levels. It is also low in calories and a great source of fiber.


Blueberries are one of those super fruits! They are filled with antioxidants that are beneficial to lowering blood pressure.

These are just some of the foods that can help you maintain a healthy heart. Keep in mind that physical activity works hand in hand with a healthy diet to prevent heart disease. 

Blog post by Krista Post.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beat the Winter Blues with Physical Activity

To maintain well-being, it is important to stay physically active in the winter. During the cold, winter months there is less sunlight, shorter days, and more perceived barriers and as a result it is common to stay inside more than usual. This can lead to less vitamin D, less physical activity, decreased Serotonin levels, and the Winter Blues.

Being physically active does not mean you must perform vigorous exercise to get health benefits.

Moderate activity, such as housework, brisk walks & gentle yoga is beneficial.
  • Recommended: moderate aerobic activity 30 min./day; 5 days/week (all Americans)
  • Recommended: resistance/strength training 2x/w (all Americans) 
However, the more active, the more health benefits! You can do this by increasing the frequency, duration and/or intensity of the activity safely.

Consistency is key!

It may be harder to find motivation during winter, but these simple tips below can help you stay happy and healthy year round!

Common Causes & Risk Factors

  • Genetics- Seasonal Affective Disorder, (SAD), about half million Americans diagnosed/year
  • Lack of sunlight= less vitamin D= less serotonin, (“feel good” chemical, released during exercise. controls appetite, mood & sleep. dark winters decrease levels of it)
  • Lack of physical activity- cold, short, dark days & other perceived barriers (time, gym location, fatigue, etc.)

7 Tips & Solutions

GET OUTSIDE- vitamin D: errands, gym, short walks
  • Will connect to nature; appreciate seasons/warm house 
  • “Even on cloudy day, 1 hr. exercise=2.5 hrs. light treatment!” (Bates College SAD study)
  • Recommended vitamin D: 10 min/day, unfiltered

INDOOR GROUP EXERCISE CLASS-  Zumba, yoga, pool classes & more!
  • Motivation, fun, relaxing, group support, rewarding, warm pool water 

TRY A NEW ACTIVITY- challenge yourself
  • Automatically feel accomplished, confident, more happy

GRAB A FRIEND- consistency & fun
  • Plan future spring/summer race together
  • Hold accountable

TAKE ADVANTAGE- winter activities
  • Pond hockey, pond fishing, ski, snowboard, cross country ski, snow tubing, snow shoe hikes, trail run, walks, skating, curling, shoveling, yard work, play with kids/grandkids in snow

PREPARE- plan spring/summer goals: getting in shape for summer
  • Hire personal trainer: help support/motivate you, achieve your goals safely & effectively!

FROM HOME- redecorate house interior/ clean out your space
  • Buy small heat lamp
  • Make bucket list- physical activities to try in future & hang up on wall

Blog post by Erin Tollios.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Yoga Pose of the Week: Plank Pose

Plank pose is a staple to any yoga practice or workout routine and while it may seem simple, it works many different muscles groups and it’s important to make sure you’re doing it correctly!

Benefits of plank include strengthening the arms, core and lower back and doing this pose regularly can help lengthen the spine and improve posture.

Plank Pose



  • Begin on hands and knees making sure your hands are aligned directly under your shoulders, fingers spread wide.
  • Engage your core and keep your head in a neutral position.  (Don’t allow your chest or stomach to sink down!)
  • Step back one foot at a time, toes curled under and pressing back through your heels.
  • Your body should be in one straight line from the top of your head down to your heels.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths, lower down and repeat.

Modified Plank

If you are working with any wrist issues, this pose can be done on the forearms.  In this variation your elbows should be lined up under your shoulders – it’s also a great shoulder stretch!

If you are working on building up your core and back strength, a good place to start is a plank variation with your knees on the ground – if you’re knees are sensitive place a folded towel or blanket under them.

Challenge Yourself

To add some additional strengthening to your plank pose try some crunches! 

Begin in a plank position, lift your right leg a few inches and bring your right knee towards your nose.  Extend it back to the starting position.  Bring your right knee towards your right elbow, extend it back and then bring your right knee towards your left elbow.  Extend it back, lower it down to the original plank position and repeat on the other side.

Planks are a simple pose, but done correctly and regularly it offers tremendous benefits and is a great addition to any workout routine!

Blog post by Danielle Nardi.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Eating Right on a Budget

Eating healthy is something that many of us try to do but sometimes we lack the resources we need to do so. Healthy food can be expensive compared to more convenient foods that are available. Saving money at the supermarket does not mean giving up all nutritious foods. Here are some tips to help you shop for healthy foods on a budget.

Make a list and stick to it.

When you go to the grocery store, make sure you make a list of all the foods you need. This will help you stay on track and stick to your budget. If we don’t have a list we often end up wandering and getting food that we don’t need.

Have a snack before you hit the food store.

Going to the food store on an empty stomach is always a bad idea! It makes everything in the store seem appetizing and will potentially lead to you buying more food that you do not need.

Look around the perimeter of the food store.

This is where you will find most of the fresh food that needs to be refrigerated such as fruits, vegetables, and meats.


You can find coupons almost anywhere now a days even on grocery store websites. Go online or check your local newspaper for coupons that you could use at the store. Also try to remember to only coupon for items that you usually buy or may need.

Check local grocery store ads.

This is a great place to find deals on food. Stop and Shop and Shaw’s supermarkets even have coupons listed right on the front of their ads. You will often find that there are some great deals on fruits and veggies throughout the week.

Visit your local farmers market.

Check out farmers markets nearby to get the best deals on fresh foods. provides a list of local farmers markets depending on your location. (Bonus: You will also be supporting local farmers and businesses!)

But generic store brands.

Store brands are just the same as other brands. Sometimes they can be better.

Check high and low.

The least expensive foods are most often on the bottom and top selves. Make sure you are looking at all selves to get the best price.

Try buying high nutritious and low cost foods.

Beans, eggs, peanut butter, oats, brown rice, frozen fruits/ vegetables, lentils, and sweet potatoes.

Follow your favorite brands on Twitter and Facebook.

Often these brands will post deals, coupons, or free samples for you to try out.

Just remember to go to the food store prepared and write out what you want to buy so you do not end up overspending on food that you do not need.

Blog post by Krista Post.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Desk Yoga

Unfortunately many of us spend hours each day sitting at a desk, which can have negative effects on personal health.  In addition to just getting up and standing or walking around periodically, there are some great stretches you can do sitting right at your desk!

Hold each of these poses for 10-15 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Desk Downward Dog

Place hands on your desk in front of you shoulder width apart.  Push your chair back until you feel a gentle stretch in your shoulders and back. 

Seated Twist

Begin seated in your chair with both feet firmly placed on the ground.  Twist at the waist in one direction placing your opposite hand on your upper leg to assist you in the twist. 

Seated Pigeon

Begin seated at your desk and cross one leg over the other ankle to knee as show in the picture above.  You should feel a gentle stretch in your hip and piriformis.  To deepen the stretch, gently fold forward. 

Seated Triangle Forward Fold

Move forward towards the edge of your seat.  Keep one leg bent with your foot planted on the ground and extend the other leg out straight with your heel on the ground and toe pointed up.  You should feel a gentle stretch in the hamstring of your straight leg.  To deepen the stretch, slowly fold forward.

Eagle Arms

Sit straight up in your chair and cross your arms placing the elbow of one arm into the bend of the other arm as show in the picture above.   If it’s comfortable on your shoulders, bring the back of your hands together and lift your elbows for a stretch across your shoulders and upper back.

Don’t let sitting at a desk keep you from staying healthy and active!  Get up and take a short walk and get in a quick stretch with some desk yoga!

Blog post by Danielle Nardi.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Power Up With Breakfast

As we all know, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Not only does it provide us with the fuel and energy we need, but it also a known fact that those who eat breakfast every day have healthier weights and cholesterol levels. Making time to eat breakfast is one of the best nutrition goals we can set for our day especially if you are someone who doesn’t typical eat breakfast due to a busy schedule.

For most people, the biggest obstacle with eating breakfast is finding the time to make it in the morning.  Here are a couple tips to help you avoid that morning rush:

  • Set up the night before – If you plan to have cereal or yogurt then put the bowl and spoon out. If you are planning to make a smoothie then get the blender set up and cut up any fruits you may want to put in it.
  • Keep it simple – If time is a constraint, keep your breakfast simple by just having a bowl of whole grain cereal or a cup of yogurt with granola or fruit on the top. You do not have to make a gourmet breakfast to fill you up!
  • Take a breakfast to go – If you don’t have the time to eat while you home, grab a yogurt and some fruit and take it with you to work or school.

What should you include in your breakfast?
For the most part, you want to make sure you are getting carbs and proteins in this meal.

  • Carbs will energize your body and brain for the busy day you may have ahead of you. Carbs can be found in whole grain cereals or even in bread such wheat toast.
  • Protein tends to be left out when most people put together their breakfast menu. Protein is going to keep you fueled up until your lunch time. You can get protein from a slice of low fat cheese, a slice of low sodium deli meat, a cup of yogurt, an egg, or even by adding a tablespoon peanut butter to your meal.
  • Lastly, don’t forget the fruit! Try to eat a cup of fruit with your breakfast every day. It is a great way to get your vitamins in.

Make sure you eat your breakfast in the AM and you will be on your way to a healthy and energized day!
Blog Post by Krista Post.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Yoga Pose of the Week: Bridge Pose

Not only is bridge pose a wonderful part of any yoga practice, but because of it’s many strengthening and stretching benefits we often see it used in physical therapy and as part of exercise routines!

One of the nice things about bridge pose is that there are many ways to modify it to make it either accessible or more challenging for all levels.


·         Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat hips distance apart
·         Arms should be along your side
·         Engage your core and press in to your feet and arms to lift the hips
·         Hold for 3-5 breaths and lower down in a controlled motion


This modified version of the pose allows you to experience the benefits of a bridge in a more relaxed, passive way.  To do it, place a small block or folded blanket under your sacrum and allow your pelvis to relax on the prop.  A restorative bridge should be held for at least 5 minutes.


To add some additional strengthening to your bridge pose, begin with your heels on a physio ball.  Keeping your legs straight and your core tight, raise your hips off the ground, hold for 3-5 breaths and lower controlled.  

Blog post by Danielle Nardi.