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The Salty Side of Things

Salt, so much more than the box in your Oma’s cupboard! Not only that, it comes in various forms now too. How do you know which one is best? Which ones are for cooking? And, which ones have benefits outside of the realm of food?

 

Everyone is familiar with table salt. Most will be familiar with sea salt, and a number of you will have heard of Himalayan salt. All of these are options to flavour food, create a scrub or to gargle with warm water to aid a sore throat.

 

The added bonus of sea and Himalayan salts is they have not been treated and cleaned to the level that table salt has. In the process of making table salt, all the minerals aside from sodium and chloride are stripped from the salt, and as well, it is bleached and refined to look like it does as it comes out of its box. Since 1924, table salt has had iodine added to it as a preventative of iodine deficiency, which is a known cause of hypothyroidism.

 

Salt is often perceived as unhealthy, especially in large amounts, because it can bind water in the bloodstream and raise blood pressure. The daily recommended intake of sodium for Canadians is 2300 mg. This equates to approximately a single teaspoon amount. A very high percentage of sodium found in the Standard American diet comes from processed foods, so be mindful. You may not be adding it to your food, but eating a lot of processed and packaged foods will already contain it. If you make sure the majority of your foods are wholesome, homemade and unprocessed you should have no problems with taking in too much sodium.

 

Sea salt is made by evaporating sea water. It too is mostly sodium and chloride. One thing we need to remember however, is the oceans have become quite polluted so sea salt can also contain trace amount of pollutants, such as lead. Sea salt is often less ground than table salt so therefore provides a more granular texture and more flavour, and can contain small amounts of minerals.

 

Himalayan salt is harvested in Pakistan. It contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, and lower amounts of sodium than regular salt. Some will notice a difference, as the flavour is often a bit milder. The main difference is noted in the colour. The pink hew that you see is a from the trace amount of iron oxide.

 

There appears to be no scientific evidence that shows Himalayan salt provides more health benefits in comparison to either table or sea salt. It does however, contain several minerals, though the doses are small and therefore some believe it is unlikely to bring any notable health benefits.

 

Both sea salt and Himalayan salts are wonderful for a nice soak, regardless of what part of your body is soaking in it!  Feet, hands, or all of you! Epsom salt as well is a great option. Here’s a fun fact….epsom salt isn’t actually salt at all! It’s a mineral found in water that contains high levels of magnesium and sulfate, which is what is primarily made up of. Any of these above options create a wonderful relaxing at-home spa experience. They will help draw out toxins, cleanse the skin and most importantly, help you relax. Add some essential oils or bubbles to have a wonderfully scent filled experience! Not much beats a hot soak with a good book and a glass of your favourite beverage to sip on! Self-care at its best!

5 Strategies to avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Tis the season of cheer and good will towards men! But with beckoning desserts and snacks around every corner, it’s easy for healthy eating habits to get lost in the shuffle. Pair that with cooling temps and hectic holiday schedules, and exercise plans often take a hit, too. However, it’s possible to survive the holidays with your wellness intact.

1 START YOUR DAY WITH PROTEIN
We recommend eating a protein-rich breakfast. Add in some complex carbohydrates, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. This approach will help you feel full longer, stave off unhealthy snacking and give you more energy to outlast the day. You’ll be pumped to exercise and feel satiated enough to just say “no” to holiday sweets.  OKAY OKAY…. maybe not NO… how about just a few less holiday sweets???

2 FIND EXERCISE IN EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES
If you don’t have time to hit the gym for a workout, look for creative ways to work exercise into your everyday activities. Choose the farthest parking spot away from the store when holiday shopping, that walk is not just for avoiding door dings….  Even common chores can make a dent in your calorie count. A person who weighs 155 pounds can burn around 140 calories raking leaves for 30 minutes. The movement and resistance help tone all the major muscle groups. Cleaning windows for 30 minutes burns around 90 calories. The key is to keep moving and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

3 Be Selective, Not Rigid
Don’t declare all party food off-limits. It’s a strategy that’s bound to backfire. If you decide to deprive yourself of all treats, you may end up overindulging out of frustration and rebellion. Instead, be honest with yourself about which foods you’re really looking forward to, and enjoy those in moderate amounts. At the same time, cut back on unhealthy snacks and fillers you really can live without.

4 SET GOALS
Instead of making the New Year the starting point of future fitness goals, consider it a mile marker. Perhaps you have a favorite outfit you’d like to don on New Year’s Eve — this can be one of many effective motivators. “Write your goals down, share them with a buddy, review the goals often and implement a plan that will get you to that goal by the deadline,” suggests fitness and exercise specialist Kelli Calabrese. Make sure your goals are realistic and that you have a plan for achieving them. With a strategy in place and a buddy to be accountable to, your fitness plan through the holidays can be very effective. You just have to follow it.

5 BE MINDFUL
Remember why you don’t want to overindulge on sweets and fall behind on workout schedules. That piece of apple pie with ice cream might be calling your name now, but are you going to feel the wrath of the sugar crash later? Come New Year’s Eve, are you going to feel sluggish from skipped workouts and unhealthy eating? Try to stay focused during the holidays so that you don’t lose track of your end goal. When faced with a sweet temptation, pay attention to hunger cues. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or if you’re just being lured by a momentary delight. When you’re tempted to sit on the couch in front of the TV instead of putting in time at the gym, remember how accomplished and great you’ll feel when your workout is done.

You will have better SEX…….

Now that I have your attention..

We have been told over and over that exercise is good for us.

Here are 10 VERY good reasons why..

 

 

 

  1.  You will improve memory: feel like you think a bit more clearly after a good workout? Not only is your brain getting more energy and oxygen, but many studies have shown that exercise can boost your memory and help you learn better
  2. You will improve your posture:  one of the best ways to fix your posture is to exercise the muscles holding you back
  3. You will boost self confidence: exercise can improve your appearance which can improve confidence, but there’s more to it than that. Exercise can also help you feel more accomplished and social. Even if you don’t see immediate results in your body, that effort will make you feel better
  4. You WILL dE-StReSs: studies have shown that exercise is a great way to combat it. Not only are those endorphins natural stress-fighters, but getting yourself into that exercise groove helps get your mind off the things stressing you out
  5. You will sleep better: have trouble falling asleep at night? The National Sleep Foundation says at regular exercise can help you sleep better. The best time to work out is in the morning or the afternoon.
  6. You will have MORE energy: regular exercise can actually make you feel more energized throughout the day. In fact, one study found that exercising in the middle of the day can leave you feeling more energetic and productive for the rest of the afternoon
  7. You will have better SEX: Yes, studies have indeed shown that regular exercise can increase arousal and decrease men’s risk for erectile dysfunction, likely because exercise improves circulation
  8. You will get sick less often: A recent study found that people who exercised regularly were half as likely to get a cold than people who didn’t
  9. You will LiVe longer: It’s no secret that healthy living will keep you alive longer, but you might be surprised at how much. One study found that exercise improves life expectancy as much as quitting smoking. It really is true that sitting all day is killing you
  10. You will simply be HAPPIER: the University of Bristol found that people’s mood significantly improved on days they exercised, so find a way to fit a quick workout into your daily routine

 

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You are better off NOT warming up at all

Should you warm-up before you workout?

A warm-up gets your muscles ready for activity. Without warming up, you not only risk injury but you also get less from your workout. How many times have you walked into your workout just on time or a few minutes late and had to get right to loading the muscles?   And how tight and unprepared did everything feel? That’s because your muscles are spending that time trying to turn on. A warm-up takes care of that, making you feel stronger and faster right from the start.

• A warm-up gets your muscles to activate via the stretch reflex, an automatic response your body has when a muscle is lengthened.

• When the muscle lengthens, the muscle spindles (sensory receptors located in the muscle) are activated. The muscle spindles then send a message to your spinal cord, which responds with its own message for the muscle to shorten.

When you exercise, either in the morning or after a day of sitting at work, your muscles are tight  and some might be completely shut off. A warm-up activates the stretch reflex telling your muscles they need to turn on and be ready. Your workout requires lengthening and shortening of muscles under load, and a warm-up gets your body ready for that. The stretch reflex protects your muscles from being pulled too far and tearing, so in addition to optimizing muscle performance, you are also helping prevent injury.

Warm-Up Mistakes to Avoid

A proper warm-up will prepare your body for activity by hitting all your muscles in a systemized way. For example, you want to use dynamic movements to stretch and get tissue ready prepared for intended work.  If you are to be working legs that day you want to get those hips, glutes and hamstrings to wake up before you go right into a heavy loaded squat or deadlift. A few functional movements will get this job done for you.

DO NOT address muscle tightness first. If you are really tight like most of us, it can be difficult for you to do a proper warm-up. Addressing these muscles first with a foam roller or mild active movement will loosen them up and allow you to reap the benefits of your warm-up.

DO NOT use static stretching as a warm-up. Stretching should be done after activity as part of your cooldown. It sounds a little counter intuitive however stretching before a workout show that static stretching pre workout can actually decrease performance as well as increase risk of injury. In other words, you are better off not warming up at all than warming up with stretching.

Imagine you are pulling a rubber band. When you let go, the band snaps back quickly with a lot of force, but if you pull it too far, it either breaks or is so overly stretched, it can’t snap back. Avoid static stretching, and go for a functional warm-up involving exercises that lengthen and shorten your muscles.

What makes a good functional warm-up? A good warm-up should be based more on your body’s specific needs. For example, if your shoulder blades are in an upward position, use an exercise to force your shoulder blades down, or if you are really tight across the chest, start with a few movements to release the pecs and anterior delts before moving on to bench.

So, should you warm-up before your workout???  The short answer is, yes. The longer answer is, yes. The medium answer is take advantage of your gym facility and use the treadmill, rowing machine, bike, skip rope or even the elliptical, and get your blood flowing.

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Tight Calves?

Got a set of calves that are a little on the tight side?

Have you been doing a LOT of running or simply missing out on doing some full range of motion calf stuff.

 Tired of the same o’l calf stretches?

Here is one that might get those things to loosen up for you.

If this doesn’t do it you may need a big hammer and just start pounding on them.

OLD School for NEW Gains

This month much like others we will have picked a movement to make things “interesting”.

The Drag Curl….
This month I will be using the Drag Curl to pick on that bicep peak….

A lot of you know I am a fan of most of the Old School movements that have seemingly been put aside or forgotten in lieu of things that are, well…. simply easier..
A return to the Golden Six may be in order for the last quarter of the year.

Drag Curls are going to be a little interesting, the burn and involvement of the biceps feels very different than a usual preacher or barbell curl. Even more so than the squeeze the triceps at the bottom variation we worked on a few months ago,,,,, and that some are still ummmmmmm remembering to this date. 🙂

Here is how we are going to get it done.

A GUIDE TO B VITAMINS

A Guide to the B Vitamins

 

This family of vitamins is made up of eight separate B vitamins. Although they are usually recognized as a group, and often work together in the body, each separate B vitamin performs its own unique and important functions. To help better understand each of the B vitamins, I have broken them down individually to explain each one’s value.
Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, is needed to help produce cellular energy from the foods you eat, and also supports normal nervous system function. Some of the best sources of B1 coming from lentils, whole grains and pork, but can also be found in red meats, yeast, nuts, sunflower seeds, peas, milk, cauliflower, spinach and legumes.

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, supports cellular energy production, and is found in a variety of foods such as fortified cereals, milk, eggs, salmon, beef, spinach and broccoli.

 

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, also supports cellular energy production. When in the form of nicotinic acid, it helps support cardiovascular health. Food sources of niacin include beef, poultry and fish as well as whole wheat bread, peanuts and lentils.

 

Pantothenic Acid, also known as vitamin B5, as well supports cellular energy production.  It is widely available in plant and animal food sources such as organ meats (liver, kidney), egg yolk, whole grains, avocados, cashew nuts, peanuts, lentils, soybeans, brown rice, broccoli, and milk.

 

Pyridoxine, also known as vitamin B6, is involved in over 100 cellular reactions throughout the body, vitamin B6 is instrumental in keeping various bodily functions operating at their best. It is also needed to metabolize amino acids and glycogen (the body’s stored form of glucose), and is necessary for normal nervous system function and red blood cell formation.  It also supports adrenal function. Vitamin B6 is usually abundant in the diet and can be found in foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, bananas, fish, fortified cereal grains and cooked spinach.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, supports carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. Biotin may also help support healthy hair, skin and nails. It is commonly found in foods such as brewer’s yeast, strawberries, organ meat, cheese and soybeans.

 

Folic Acid, also known as vitamin B9, is most commonly known for its role in fetal health and development during pregnancy, as it plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system. This important developmental stage occurs during the first initial weeks of pregnancy, so insuring adequate folic acid intake is especially important for all women of child-bearing age. Adequate folic acid may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a neural tube defect. Good food sources of this B vitamin are dark green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and spinach as well as brewer’s yeast, liver, fortified orange juice, beets, dates and avocados. Breads and cereals are fortified dietary sources of folic acid.

 

Cobalamin, also known as Vitamin B12, plays a critical role in the pathways of the body that produce cellular energy. It is also needed for DNA synthesis, proper red blood cell formation and for normal nervous system function. Individuals who follow vegan or vegetarian diets may benefit from a B12 supplement since it is predominantly found in foods of animal origin such as chicken, beef, fish, milk and eggs.

 

B vitamins can be taken individually or, combined in a B complex supplement. B vitamins are water soluble, which means they will dissolve and absorb in water, and, that any excess you take in will likely exit your body via your urine. This results in a minimal concern of taking in too much of it. If you are on any medications or have a current health condition, it is always recommended that you consult your doctor and/or pharmacist before you begin supplementing.

 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is also a powerful antioxidant. It is involved in reducing inflammation by fighting against free radical damage in our bodies. Vitamin A plays a critical role in maintaining healthy vision, neurological functions and healthy skin. It is also responsible for building strong bones and supporting immune function.
Vitamin A is found in two forms, active Vitamin A and beta carotene. Active Vitamin A comes from animal-based foods and is referred to as retinol. This form of Vitamin A can be used immediately by the body, so it does not need to first be converted. Beta carotene is the other form of Vitamin A. We can obtain this from colourful fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene needs to first be converted into active Vitamin A in order for the body to be able to utilize it.
It is recommend that we try to obtain our Vitamin A primarily by a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods whenever possible, rather than from supplements. Some of the best sources of Vitamin A include eggs, milk, liver, yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash. It is also found in spinach, and other leafy greens.
High doses of vitamin A may actually do more harm than good. Consuming too much Vitamin A from supplementation alone, or in combination with other antioxidants, has been associated with birth defects, lower bone density, and liver problems. If you are planning on supplementing with this, first consult your doctor or pharmacist to insure that it is a safe supplement for you to consume and that it won’t conflict with any current medications you may be taking. Be sure to take lower doses and use supplements from food based sources.