My dish on red meat

Red meat photoA little over a year ago I started limiting my consumption of beef and pork. Since then, many people have asked me why I chose to cut these meats from my diet. The answer: processing and sodium nitrite.

Now, I want to clear one thing up before I go any further. In no way am I suggesting you should make the same diet choices as I have. It worked for me to stop eating these foods, mainly because I don’t like eating a lot of meat anyway, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Back to sodium nitrite! The stuff scares me to death! This chemical compound is a carcinogenic ingredient, which means it is capable of causing cancer in living tissue. This compound can be found in various processed foods such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and virtually all red meat used in frozen meals.

Aside from sodium nitrite, the entire development of processed meats can be hazardous to one’s health. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, there is a link between diets high in processed red meats and colorectal cancer, in particular. The AICR states, “….[E]very 50 gram serving of processed meat (roughly equivalent to 1 hot dog) eaten per day increases colorectal cancer risk by 21 percent.” I know it seems ridiculous to assume someone would eat a hot dog every single day, but my purpose was to prove that there are dangers associated with the regular consumption of processed meats.

Again, I’m not suggesting to completely cut processed foods out of your life. We live in a culture full of red meats and pork. I think the AICR put it best in a brochure titled “Guidelines for Cancer Prevention” when it said, “So try to think of processed meats as something you save for special occasions – maybe a modest serving of ham at Christmas or a hot dog at a ball game.”

I encourage you to take everything stated above with a grain of salt and a hint of skepticism. I’m not saying all the facts are 100 percent accurate. I just know as someone who has a family history of colon cancer, I’m not taking my chances!

Also, as mentioned before, I really don’t like red meat, so it was easy as pie to cut back. Of course I still have it from time to time, but moderation is key! That’s my main purpose for writing this post.

If you have anything you’d like me to add or if you’d like to refute anything I said, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at

~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~
Abbey :]

Fighting the Winter Blues

Flu PhotoBy: Mary Marren

Getting into a regular fitness routine can take a lot of work. You put your dedication and time into making yourself healthy and happy and there is nothing worse than something stopping you on your journey. Now that winter is here, I like most people, try hard to take every measure not to get sick. It seems like every other week someone you work with, a close friend, or even just the lady standing in front of you in line at the grocery store is sick. No matter how hard you try, beating flu season may just not be in the cards for you this year. So, if you are like many people that are looking for a quick turnaround to get healthy and back into your workout routine, here are some tips you may find helpful.

First and foremost, something you should know about working out when sick is that it can actually lead you to feeling worse. According to Lewis G. Maharam, MD, a New York City-based sports medicine expert, “The danger is exercising and raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, because that can make you even sicker.” So if you have a cold, feel free to continue on with your workout while being careful not to overdo it, but if you have a fever stay home and rest.

Vitamin C is one way to help ease your cold and help you get better quicker. says, “The vitamin may be useful for allergy control by reducing histamine levels. By giving the immune system one of the important nutrients it needs, extra vitamin C can often shorten the duration of the cold as well.” So although it may not prevent you from getting sick, it could help you get better faster.

Along with vitamins, drinking plenty of liquids will also help your body recover faster. The water can push toxins along through your body as well as keeping you hydrated. Someone once told me to imagine my organs as a sponge. When your organs don’t get enough water they shrivel up and don’t work properly, but when they do your organs stay hydrated and healthy.

Believe it or not, chicken noodle soup may also be a fighting factor against a cold or the flu. The mayo clinic says, “…it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.”

So along with rest, here are some ways to make a quick recovery and get back into your workout routine! Remember to wash your hands frequently and also maybe consider taking vitamins on a regular basis as well.

Stay Healthy, Stray Strong.
-Mary Marren

Exercise for book worms

Exercise for Book Worms PhotoBy: Abbey Bowen

This is probably one of the sillier posts I have ever written. But while reading a book this morning, I found myself wondering if there’s a way to combine two of my favorite pastimes: exercising and reading.

I Googled, “Exercises and stretches to do while reading,” and I was surprised to find several search results.

Obviously, recumbent or upright bikes and elliptical machines are ideal for people who want to read while doing cardio, but I wanted to get some ideas for when I’m not at the gym.

If you’re looking to tone your abs, it’s beneficial to lie on your back, hold the book away from your face and lift your legs into the air. Hold them parallel to the floor for a few seconds or minutes (depending on your fitness level).

For the most adventurous, a plank sequence can be an effective way to tone while reading. Try holding the pose pictured to the left for 30 seconds at a time. Place a book in between your forearms and focus on the text, instead of your discomfort.

Hold the pose for a page and then lower and rest for a few pages. Repeat as desired.

This plank sequence will help tone your arms, abs, leg muscles and more! Just remember to always suck your belly button into your spine at all times.

If you’re looking for a lighter, more gradual workout, try replacing your office chair with an exercise ball. By doing this, your body learns to rely on the increasing strength of your back and abs, not the support of a chair.

For those looking to tone their arms, try raising five to 10 Ib. dumbbells into the air repeatedly as you read.

If you’re really crazy, try doing all the exercises I mentioned above. :]

Again, I know this post may seem a little goofy, but I truly believe making small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in the long run. Incorporating exercise into our daily routines is one of the easiest ways to become healthy and fit.

~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~
Abbey :]