Count Your Blessings, Not Calories!

picCrunching numbers instead of doing actual crunches, measuring every food up to the exact serving size, rounding up numbers, and reading more nutrition labels than you do books. All of these concepts contribute to what some consider the “catalyst to weight loss” that is, calorie counting. This topic is one that is really important to me and has taught me a huge lesson in regards to nutrition and I’m excited to give my two cents on the matter. At the same time, I can’t help but cringe a little bit while I gather info on extreme calorie counting because I made a lot of mistakes while I calorie counted to lose weight. Without further or do, I learned a lot from my personal experience so I wanted to share it with you all!

What happened after I calorie counted

I lost forty pounds. Let me be clear, that statement was not my successful weight loss testimony. For many reasons, one being that I should have lost only half of what I did.  I eventually began to lose muscle, go below the average BMI for my age group, and overall became obsessed with keeping track of what I ate each day. All of this resulting in needing to gain some weight back anyways!

Why calorie counting can be dangerous 

It all comes down to quality vs. quantity. Both quality and quantity should be put into consideration when constructing a healthy diet. However, quality is the half of the deal we sometimes ignore especially when calorie counting. For instance sure my granola bar, almonds, and Nutella sandwich (I’m cringing) fit in my daily calorie quota but a lot my food choices certainly weren’t the right calories. As Dr. Frank Lipman an internationally recognized expert in the field of integrative medicine states, “All calories are not created equal. Thinking that all calories are the same is an antiquated notion. Granted by definition calories represent units of energy provided by a particular food, but thinking they’re all alike is like saying a diamond and a rhinestone are the same because they both glitter. With Calories, as with diamonds, it’s the quality that matters most and enhances their value.”

Your body resorts to burning lean muscle tissue as a source of energy ideally when losing weight we would want our body to burn body fat not muscle. But when you put your body in crucial conditions, it will resort to any source of energy. Therefore it will pull from stored energy anywhere, this can be fat, muscle, or a combination of them both.

Nutrition deficiency Sure you can lose weight by eating packaged food that is labeled with your necessary calorie count. But if your diet is only composed of what has almost zero nutrients the processed food will create a chemical reaction in your body that will work against weight loss and good health. Following that, eating too much sugar results in an overproduction of insulin which promotes weight gain.

Can it be done right? Will it hurt you to be aware of how many calories are in your meal? Certainly not! Knowing the calorie amount can sometimes be utilized as a rough estimate or criteria for our daily food intake. However, the fault in calorie counting is the obsession and taking it to the extreme. Keeping a journal of your calories, or keeping a record of it in your phone will make you eventually addicted. In my case, it almost became a sort of game and every day was a chance to beat my record of how little calories I consumed that day.

Although I am not proud of my diet mistake, I’ve learned so much. Now I eat a lot of the right foods, and know better than to get sucked into the obsession of extreme calorie counting. Do not avoid foods like fruits, veggies and other produce that do not have a nutrition label on it, and when there is a nutrition label, read more than just the calorie amount! The best part of the alternative to calorie counting is that you can eat way more! As long as you are eating wholesome, natural foods, you can eat more and frequently throughout the day to keep your metabolism going. Eat right, not less and you’ll be on your way to a content, happy, and healthy life!

“It’s a good day to have a good day!”

-Alena Purpero ♡

Gladiator Assault Challenge

picGladiator Assault Challenge

All my life I’ve been pretty mediocre at sports. That’s probably not the best way to start a fitness blog, but it’s the truth. Everything I tried seemed to not be a fit for me, so I started running. Running is the ultimate body workout where I never have to worrying about getting hit in the head with a ball. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of friends and families get into not just running by themselves, but doing races. The color run, Tough Mudder, Glow Run, these are all races I’d like to do… but getting the courage to actually sign up took a lot longer then I expected.

Two weekends ago I finally completed my first 5k. No, it wasn’t a marathon, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? I chose to do the Gladiator Assault Challenge, which is by far not your average 5k.  With 30 military style obstacles interlaced into the run, there is something surprising around every corner.

The race took started on top of a ski hill. Yes, on top of a ski hill. At the top, there was a DJ and loud music playing to pump you up and get you going. When the horns went off, myself and 50 other people in my heat headed down the hill and into the woods. Right off the bat we were met with a pile of mud that we had to crawl through while a military official sprayed us down with a hose. It was at this point I realized that this run was going to be a dirty dirty 5k. We climbed up wooden structures, over rope walls, through mud up to our ears, and under barbed wire. We jumped through fire, ran off a 15-foot structure into a lake, and crawled through black tubes. This race was intense.

Although the race was nothing I’d ever experienced before, the whole time I was more excited to complete an obstacle than worry about getting dirty. With each challenge, I felt stronger and more confident than the last one. I kept thinking, if I can complete this I can complete anything. After running up and down the ski hill countless of times, the race finally came to a finish. There to greet our muddy and soaking wet bodies were loud music and volunteer workers handing out beer and fruit. They also had a gear tent where you could buy different t-shirts and athletic gear at the finish line. The weather that day was in the high 50s, so after running a race in mud and water, our main mission was to dry off and change clothes. Once dry, we ate a banana, finished our beer and headed out. Although the weather didn’t allow us to stick around for very long after the race, with our participant medal in hand we marched proudly to the car.

Over all I think that the experience of doing a mud run is something you cannot describe. It is dirty and challenging, but once in the moment all that is going through your mind is “I can do this.” I felt more accomplished after running those 3 miles than I did running any of my runs over the last year. If you are someone who wants to start challenging yourself to a race more intense than just running, I strongly recommend a mud run. There are plenty of different options to try out!pic 2

Another recommendation is running the race with a buddy. Not only does it keep the race fun, but also having someone there to help push you along the way makes the whole race seem easier. Plus you can laugh at each other as you’re trudging through mud.

If you have any more questions or comments about the Gladiator Assualt Challenge check out their website!

Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.

Mary Marren

Why you can’t Skip Leg Day

pic for blogIf you’re anything like me, then the one day of the week that you resent is leg day. It is an essential day in the workout routine for many more reasons then people, including me before researching this, know. Personally, I knew of some of the benefits, but really researching this topic has made me realize even more how important it is to make sure you incorporate leg day into your workouts. Lets go over the obvious ones first.

You don’t want to look like the guy who has a huge upper body and chicken legs. Seriously, you don’t want to be that guy or girl. Having a well-balanced body not only looks great, but also has many benefits that we’ll go over.

You get better abs by lifting legs. You use a lot more core than you think while doing leg workouts. There are people who never have to do specific abs workouts and can still have abs better than most because doing large compound lifts such as; squats, dead lifts, and Olympic lifts engage huge numbers of core muscles that can’t even be touched with doing abs workouts.

Your upper body gets stronger. By working your lower body, you are increasing your balance, your bench press, explosiveness and upper body as a whole. You can’t have a tree without a trunk, and people don’t realize how important it is for you to have a base with your workouts.  A tree without its trunk would topple over and the same goes for you. When trying to stand and do too heavy of curls you can topple over and this makes you more injury prone. Also, when you are benching you should plant your feet and drive with your legs and if you don’t have enough leg strength you can strain your quadriceps.

You burn large amount of calories. Because you are working such big muscles your heart rate raises higher than most other lifts and that causes you to burn a high amount of calories. You also most likely will sweat a good amount, and therefore increase the lean muscle mass in your legs, which will increase your metabolism.

Many back problems start with your lower body. Having uneven or non-existent lower body muscles is the root for a lot of posture and back problems. Weak glutes put more work on the lower back and hamstrings, leading to tight hip flexors that pull on the lumbar spine creating an anterior pelvic tilt, protruding the abdomen. The Williams Center has personal trainers who specialize on finding where your muscles are lacking and can help you fix problems like these.

Even though leg day may not be the most fun or ideal day of the week, it is one that we all have to power though. If you don’t believe me, do a simple Google search of why you shouldn’t skip legs day. The reasons are endless. If you need some simple exercises to start out with here are a few.

-Yesterday you said tomorrow

Eric Hess

Who do you run for?

Do you ever think while running outside, on a treadmill, riding a bike, rollerblading, etc., about how lucky you are that you have the ability to perform that activity? Sometimes we even say “go do that for me” because we are too lazy to perform activities ourselves. Can you imagine wanting to go for a run and not being able to. Not being of time, work, or for lack of motivation, but because you were PHYSICALLY unable to?

pictureHave you ever heard of the “Who I Run 4” program? It is a program where you sign up to dedicate your workouts to individuals that aren’t physically able to perform the activity themselves. They become your “Buddy”, someone you have never met, but will instantly start sharing a bond with. Here is how you can get involved:

  1. Join the Facebook group I Run For Michael at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/irunformichael
  2. Send a friend request to the matchmaker page  so we can contact you to connect you with someone!!
  3. Fill out one of the two forms below to be matched

▪       If you are a runner and want to be matched with someone please CLICK HERE and fill out the form.

▪       If you would like for your special needs child/adult to be matched with a runner CLICK HERE and fill out the form.

  1. Wait PATIENTLY to be matched with your buddy!

 

Some of the members of the Warhawk Fitness Family (past and present) have already been matched with their Buddy and here is what the program means to them:

“I believe a lot times that I take for granted that I have the ability and the ease to do so much, such as working out. As someone who works in the fitness field, this organization opened my eyes to the number of people who may not have the physical ability to do what I do on a daily basis. By being matched with a buddy, you create a relationship with a family who helps educate and motivate you as well. My buddy has what is call CDKL5 and it is a chromosomal defect, which has left her unable to walk, and/or speak, and she also suffers from seizures. By being matched, I feel my workouts now have a greater purpose. Knowing that I have the physical capabilities to do something that she can not, makes me want to help her live the experience through me. Being matched has made me realize that there are days I may not want to do something, and I then think about the constant struggles she endures and that pushes me to get up and work harder for her.” –Stephanie Punda

“I think it’s great to be paired with my buddy, Harlum who is 9 and is diagnosed with a disability without a name, which affects him mentally and physically. It’s referred to as SWAN (syndrome without a name) disability. I think the most rewarding part is having him know that others out there look up to him for the way he deals with his everyday challenges that you and I take for granted. The constant reminder of how fortunate I am to be healthy and be independent is a great way to gather extra motivation for not only the gym, but with all aspects of life.” –Jared Ward

“I joined the IR4 movement because it’s a chance to be part of something bigger.  Working out is something I love to do in order to better myself, and when I found it I can help others and give someone else strength through my workouts I realized it was a great fit!  IR4 is a great organization that helps you create a unique bond with someone who you would not have met otherwise.  Being a part of this, I hope to gain a broader perspective on life and appreciate what I have.  Most importantly I hope to help my buddy work through whatever battles they are struggling with. It’s great to hear from them on good days, but when harder days do come I hope that my support goes a long way for them and their family.” –Renee Lenda

“The IRun4 program is a great opportunity for exercise enthusiasts to dedicate their work outs towards someone in need. Sometimes we take for granted the ability to work out, play sports, or even walk to class. IRun4 is a program that changes your perspective on exercise and in life. I was paired with a 3-year-old boy from the UK who has GDD, Autism, hypermobility, and is non-verbal. I get to communicate with his mother on a daily basis and see some of his struggles and greatest moments. At the beginning of this adventure, I thought I would be doing something good for another person, but didn’t realize the good it would be doing for me. I am truly inspired by Ethan and his family’s persistence and grace and I highly recommend anyone who runs or works out to think about signing up for a buddy.” –Julia DiMonte

Never take for granted the abilities that you have. Instead, dedicate your abilities to those that don’t have the same opportunities as you! Follow the steps above to begin the journey to being paired with your buddy. Not only will you be creating a healthier you, but also you will be making a difference in someone else’s life.

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”

~Kenzi Weidman

Dear Freshman

PicNotebooks, check. Shower caddy, check. Mini fridge, check. Backpack, check. You’re all ready for your first day of your college career as far as your check list goes, but if you’re anything like I was last year when I was a freshman there’s much more that you’re concerned about than if your futon is going to fit under your loft bed. You might be worried about classes, meeting people, and what the dorm life will be like. Through all of the first day jitters, you’re most likely too busy to worry about being healthy or thinking “how can I stay healthy while on campus?” So as a welcome to campus gift from me to you, I’ll do you a favor and do all of the thinking and question answering for you. By doing so I will reflect on my freshmen year and list some health related mistakes I’ve made and what I should have done instead.

What I did: Decided to wait out doing an intramural sport until next year in case it would be too much on my plate with classes and other clubs.

What I should have done: Tried it out! See how it worked with my class schedule, and if I rather do a sport than the other clubs I was in. Seeing as I ended up not staying in the clubs I picked over intermural sports anyways, giving it a shot would have been worth it. Not only do you have a steady way to be active, but you meet people and get to have a lot of fun! Get info on each sport and sign up deadlines, here!

What I did: Thought that Ramen was actually a good idea for dorm living.

  • Ramen is famous for being a staple to a college kid’s diet because it’s affordable, and filling. However, instant ramen noodles contain Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) which is used to preserve cheap, processed foods, which makes digestion a drawn out process. Not only does it make breaking down the food difficult but it contains a lot of sodium, 875 mg to be specific, 35% of your daily value.

What I should have done: Not thought that Ramen was actually a good idea for dorm living.

  • Instead get some minute brown rice and flavor it with salt and pepper, soy sauce, or whatever you’d like!

What I did: Freshmen -15

  • After a few days of eating at the dining halls, trying UNO’s deep dish pizza, and basically anything you’d categorize as “college food” I was already missing my exotic array of fruits and vegetables, and health food that I spoiled myself with at home. I stuck to my picky standards and couldn’t find anything good and healthy to eat on campus. So I actually experienced my own twist on the freshmen fifteen, which was the freshmen negative fifteen. Although at least it wasn’t fifteen plus pounds I wasn’t looking to lose weight due to the lack of food I thought was acceptable.

What I should have done: Open my eyes to all of the options at the dining halls, and get creative making my own food in my dorm. Which I eventually did, because there really are great options at the dining halls, and I actually looked forward to making my own salad and seeing what the vegetarian options were that day (Esker’s wild rice and broccoli was my favorite). Also, like I said I got creative and found ways to eat like I would at home in my dorm, like by making instant oatmeal with almonds, honey, and cinnamon. Still unsure about what to pick while at either of the dining halls, UNO’s, P-Street, or any other venue? You can see what’s on the menu and the portion sizes along with calories of each menu items, right here! Also, for other tips on nutrition and eating healthfully here’s some advice from the experts at the University Health and Counseling Services.

 

What I did: Discovered how fabulous group fitness classes are too late!

What I should have done: Tried them out sooner! I have to give props to Warhawk fitness’s group fitness classes, because of these class’s existence I am the yoga enthusiast I am today. During my second semester me and my friends made it a regular routine to go to yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays, and my only regret is not going as much my first semester. So for goodness sakes, get into it! You don’t need to depend on having a buddy with you to do it (although it is a blast to go with a friend, but when everyone’s too busy I’ll rock it out by myself) and it is not an intimidating environment AT ALL. Seriously! No reigning international yoga sports champion is rollin’ up to a group fitness class at Whitewater, trust me. We are all falling over and collapsing together. I talk up yoga a lot just because it’s my favorite, but Warhawk fitness offers insanity, core complete, turbo kick, cycling and more! Check out the fall 2014 schedule here!

College can either be A.) The unhealthiest years of your life, complete with the freshmen 15…every year. Or it can be B.) Your healthiest and happiest years, with maybe the freshmen 15… in muscle! With all of the options to stay healthy on campus, option B is certainly achievable. With these tips in mind, the worst of your worries will be how to get through those awkward icebreakers. Have fun, stay healthy and enjoy your first year of college!

“It’s a good day to have a good day!”

-Alena Purpero ♡

So You Want to Run a 5K?

picMaybe you’ve run multiple 5k’s and want to improve your time. Maybe you ran your first 5k and now you are addicted. Maybe you’ve never run a day in your life and want to try your first 5k. No matter what your story is, training for a 5k is always beneficial. Personally, I have ran more 5k’s than I could count and I have trained for almost each of them, whether it be with a team or on my own. And I’ll be the first one to tell you, that the most painful and worst 5k’s were the ones where I had no previous training.

Each person is a different skill level and that makes it hard to say where you start training. If you need help finding a training program to help you achieve your goals, this would be a good place to start. But finding the training program isn’t the hard part. The hard part, in my opinion, is sticking to the training plan and eating the part.

If you’re serious about wanting to do a 5k and do it well these are the tips I’d have for you:

Get a pair of running shoes. Before you start training, I would get a good pair of running shoes. Check out this website to see what type of shoe you should be wearing. A lot of running injuries result from wearing shoes that aren’t meant for your type of foot. The last thing you want to do is get a running injury before you even get the chance to do your run.

Get a running buddy. Now this may not be for everyone, but if you like having someone to help push you and talk to on your runs, then I would highly suggest finding someone who will do just that.

Get new music or running gear. Having new stuff helps you get the motivation to take the hardest, first step out of the door. The new music will help you keep going once you get out there. Try and make a running playlist that has more upbeat music that will keep you going at a good pace and keep your focused. Having music playing will also help you from hearing how hard you’re breathing and will keep your mind off of how tired you actually are.

Make friends that are running the 5k with you. If you surround yourself with people that also are going to train, it will make finding a running partner that much easier. Not to mention that when you two hang out you probably won’t be going out for unhealthy food and beer. The hardest part of staying in shape for races for me is eating healthy. If you have friends that want to eat healthy too you guys will be good influences on each other. Hopefully.

Post Running Routine. If there were anything that I truly learned from running, it would be the importance of caring for your body after running. The general rule of thumb is to stretch each muscle for about 45 seconds, deepening the stretch as you go. Here are five great stretches for runners. Another thing I found out the hard way would be to ice. If it hurts, ice it. 15 minutes on 15 minutes off. I’m not a doctor so I can’t tell you that it will work for everything, but in my cases most of my injuries would have been prevented if I stretched properly and iced more often when I felt pain. After you’re putting mile after mile on your legs, your muscles develop scar tissue and tension that need to be taken care of. If you’re starting to feel pain and don’t know what to do, here is a good website.

I hope that I have had a positive impact on someone to try a 5k or better their time in a 5k.

Also, if you are from the Whitewater area, I would highly recommend this run, September 21st. Whitewater does a wonderful job organizing this and has multiple options for races including the half marathon, 5k walk/run, and fit kid shuffle. I partook in the 5k last year and will be doing in again this year. I hope to see some of you there.

-Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Eric Hess

Fruit: What’s the point?

picFruit is in season! There is nothing that tastes better than sweet, juicy, cold fruit when it is super hot outside. The question is though, is fruit healthy for you? So I decided to research into a few of my favorite fruits to see what I am gaining in nutrients when consumed. Here are my top 4 favorite fruits:

Apples: We all know that phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The antioxidants in apples promote health and prevent disease in the human body. They are low in calories and contain zero grams of saturated fat and cholesterol. Apples also carry a small amount of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Apples are a good fruit, so stick to that phrase and try and eat one everyday!

Bananas: They are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Bananas are an intriguing fruit in terms of their carbohydrate and sugar content. Even though bananas are a fruit that tastes quite sweet when ripe, they only contain about 14-15 grams of sugar per banana. They are also a great quick carb after working out to help your muscles from cramping. Moral of the story, bananas are a good fruit!

Watermelon: It is the perfect fruit for a hot summer day. Although it does lack a lot of nutritional value, but the amount of water it contains helps keep your body hydrated. Watermelon is the top fruit source of the carotenoid antioxidant lycopene, which is important for your cardiovascular health. The hardest part when it comes to watermelon is finding a ripe one that is ready to eat. Some tips: choose a dull color, make sure the surface is firm/hard, and make sure it has a uniform shape. Typically when I make sure those three tips are followed, I always find the best one!

Raspberries: They are a rich source of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. When included in your daily diet, they can help lower your risk of cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Raspberries have also been known to enhance fertility. The sweet taste and the soft texture make them the most craved fruit, especially for me. They are also low in fat and calories but very high in fiber. This makes them a great treat for someone that is trying to lose weight. One of the greatest facts about raspberries is that the antioxidants in the berries help aid in treating depression. So a raspberry is a fruit that makes you happy? Eat away!

Although there are many health benefits of consuming different fruits, there is also one big thing to consider. Many fruits are high in sugar. Yes, that sugar is natural, but either way it packs additional calories into your diet. What I like to do is save my fruit for after a meal. I treat it sort of like a dessert, because not only is it sweet and delicious, but it should also be consumed in moderation!

Are my favorite fruits not the same as yours? The article 31 Favorite Fruits and the Nutrients they Contain gives you the nutritional value of every fruit you have probably consumed. Take a look and see what you are gaining from eating your favorite fruits!

 

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”

~Kenzi Weidman

Protein in a Bite

Pic 1Recently I’ve started to look for different ways to take in protein. My everyday diet normally doesn’t include a lot of meat, and eating Greek yogurt all the time was starting to get old. Knowing that protein is key for muscle recovery after a workout, I was trying to find a quick way to take it in, but chugging protein shakes didn’t really appeal to me either.  A friend of mine suggested that I try to make protein balls, so after some extensive research (Pinterest) I found the perfect recipe to give me that little protein boost throughout the day I was looking for. I really enjoyed this recipe and thought it would be the perfect addition to our blog site.

Before I dive into this delicious recipe, I think it’s important to know exactly what proteins are and what they do for us. Proteins aid in supporting your entire body from cells to organs. Bones, hormones, antibodies, keratin are all made up of proteins. To get a further in-depth break down of each specific role each protein plays, check out this website. Proteins play a bigger role in our nutrition and health than I originally had realized, so I was thrilled to find out about protein balls.

On average it is said that woman should take in about 46 grams of protein a day, and men roughly 56 grams. Now for some this isn’t a hard feat, but as I mentioned before I tend to struggle with that. Protein balls are simple, easy, and you can alter them to your own liking. I went with a cranberry almond banana protein ball. I altered the recipe only slightly to cater to my own taste buds.

Active Time: 15 minutes     Serving Size: 1 ball

Total Time: 15 minutes       Makes: 14 balls

Calories per serving: 98   Fat per serving: 5 grams

Fiber: 2 grams. Protein: 5 grams. Sodium: 39 mg. Saturated fat: 1 gram. Sugars: 6 grams. Carbs: 9 g.

*The nutritional facts may be varied differently than the original recipe (http://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/sunflower-seed-protein-balls/) because I used almonds instead of sunflower seeds. *

Ingredients

  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • ½ cup seven seed butter (found at Sentry)                                                           
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 4 scoops vanilla soy protein powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, preferably fruit juice sweetened

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The execution itself is fairly simple. Mix together the banana, seven seed butter, and honey in a food processor (I did it by hand because I didn’t own one). It should form a paste like consistency.

Pic 3

Next, add the protein powder, coconut flour, cinnamon, almonds, and cranberries. Mix together. The consistency will be slightly drier than before, but don’t worry this is supposed to happen.

Pic 4

Then take the mixture and form into balls. Put in the refrigerator.

pic 5

The end product was delicious and now I have a quick snack to eat before or after a workout! You can even snack on them throughout the day for a quick protein boost!

Stay healthy. Stay strong.

Mary Marren

Spice, Spice Baby

picYou know that feeling of dissatisfaction when you’re either at home or out to eat and you’re ready to indulge in that first bite of food of which looked full of flavor but instead after that first bite you mutter “pass the salt”? And oh hey! While we’re at it, let’s talk about the even worse feeling when the food still tastes so plain that you gotta pull a “pass the pepper”. Before you know it your food is covered in more salt and pepper than George Clooney’s head! You try to boost the flavor as much as you can but you realize it’s a lost cause. Your food was most likely plain from the start due to the lack of variety in ingredients and spices, so next time this happens to you at a restaurant pass some oregano, cayenne and basil the chef’s way because he needs it! Actually, so do you! Not only do spices add flavor but they add nutritional value and can boost your metabolism! Here’s some of the top few spices that are used to enhance your meal’s nutritional value along with how to consume it/what it goes good with.

1.) Cinnamon: This is one that I personally utilize the most and consume pretty much every day, in fact I had a little cinnamon shaker in my dorm room. It’s very easy to pair with, I add it to my oatmeal instead of brown sugar, and also to tea, coffee, and if I want to fight a sweet tooth I’ll cut up a banana and top it with honey and cinnamon. I am a big fan of the honey and cinnamon combo because it’s so tasty but turns out it also fight arthritis pain! Cinnamon is a natural remedy to headaches and migraines! It also stabilizes blood sugar, which is great for weight loss!

2.) Oregano: Another easy one to pair, I use this for eggs, pasta sauce, salad, tofu, quinoa, grilled tomatoes and much more. You can pretty much trust that oregano with pair nicely with any savory or salty-like dish. Nutrition expert Dr. Bazilian says that “one teaspoon has as much antioxidant power as three cups of chopped broccoli (but don’t ditch the broccoli- have both!)” It’s among the highest in antioxidants of dried herbs!

3.) Cayenne: This one is a hit or miss for some people, because spicy food is not everyone’s cup of tea. But did you know that this spicy food can be a cup of tea?  Combined with lemon juice and honey, it is an excellent morning beverage for a total detox. But besides that if this spice is too spicy for you try adding a pinch of it to similar foods that you would combine oregano with, such as eggs. Also, it goes great with avocado! I personally love Cayenne, I try to sneak it into foods as much as possible to get all of the many benefits that it obtains. Studies show that those who had cayenne pepper in their breakfast had less of an appetite and therefore less caloric intake throughout the day. Cayenne is also a great metabolic booster, and aids in burning excess amounts of fats.

4.) Sea salt: While salt should not be over used, it has many health benefits! Sea salt even more so than table salt, since it is obtained directly through the evaporation of seawater. It is usually not processed so it still has minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and other nutrients! It is effective in reducing inflammation in the respiratory system. Most surprising of all, sea salt can also help you lose weight by creating digestive juices so the foods you eat are digested faster.

So next time you are cooking and you come across a step in your directions that says to “add salt to taste” don’t stop there! Think of all of the benefits you can get from just a pinch of one of your favorite spices! Also get creative with it and think of all the ways you can incorporate these spices and what you can replace with spices such as salad dressing, sugar, and table salt! Make a habit of using these super ingredients and spice it up!

“It’s a good day to have a good day!”

-Alena Purpero ♡

Sweet or Salty?

picWe have all heard of the expressions, “ I have a sweet tooth,” or “I crave salty foods” from time to time, but have you ever stopped to think about what exactly that means? I have plenty of friends who crave burgers and French fries, but those things never really appealed to me. On the other hand, put a cookie in front of my face and I’m hopeless. After thinking about this for a little bit it got me to think that maybe it’s a little bit more that just different taste buds.

Salty Cravings.

Craving salt can come from a few different sources. One reason why you may crave salt is because you have a mineral deficiency. Our bodies do need salt (About a Tsp. a day) so if it is not getting the normal dosage of natural salt you will begin to turn towards salty foods such as chips or French fries. I also found a study in my research that suggests that salt cravings could be due to lack of calcium in your diet. According to Michael Tordoff, Ph. D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, “Sodium temporarily increases calcium levels in the blood, which tricks the body into thinking the problem is solved.” The study also goes on to saying that lack of potassium, calcium, and iron may also be the cause for all those salty cravings! Another reason you may be craving all those French fries is because you are dehydrated. If you are someone who needs salty foods after an intense workout, you may have lost too many electrolytes from sweating. Try replenishing your body with a Gatorade or another electrolyte booster drink.

Careful! Although our bodies need salt, too much salt could lead to trouble. An excessive amount of salt could cause you to feel dizzy, or dehydrated. Even worse, over a long period of time eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and a higher risk of a heart attack.

Sweet Tooth

Now on to the “sweet tooths” of the world, such as myself. When I looked up the cause of having a sweet tooth, the word serotonin came up a few times. For those who aren’t quite sure what that is (me) here is the textbook definition:

“Serotonin is a chemical created by the human body that works as a neurotransmitter. It is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.”

So for short, serotonin is a chemical that makes you feel good. One food that is known for releasing serotonin in the brain is chocolate. So every time you need a quick pick me and want to feel good, reaching for that chocolate bar wouldn’t be surprising. Even though dark chocolate is actually good for you, chocolate donuts, chocolate ice cream, or chocolate cookies are not. Unfortunately. Another reason for sugar cravings is sleep deprivation. Since sweets usually have a lot of sugar in them, eating a cupcake will give you a quick sugar spike that will make you temporarily forget you’re sleep deprived.

Whether it is salty or sweet food cravings can come from all over the place, and the best thing to do when they strike is know how to handle it! Make sure your body is always properly hydrated and well rested. Stop rewarding yourself with a cookie when you do something good! Thinking that sweets are a reward just tricks our body into the cycle that good=sweets, which ultimately equals bad. Cravings can also come from your sensory to foods. Don’t give into eating ice ream because it’s cold and feels good on a hot day.

Just incase you need a little bit more on good foods to turn to when those cravings hit, check out this chart provided by MindBodyGreen:

What are you Craving?          Examples                                       Try instead…

Chewy                                      Cookies, brownies                          Oatmeal bars, dried fruit

Crunchy                                    Chips, crackers                              Crisp veggies like carrot

Cold                                          Ice cream; Milk shakes                  Frozen bananas

Creamy                                     Pudding; Creamed soups              Greek yogurt, avocados

Tangy                                       Salad dressing; Ketchup                Lemon, salsa

 

Stay Healthy, Stay Strong.

Mary Marren