Carbs, or carbohydates, have gotten a pretty bad rep recently. Low carb and no carb diets have become the new go-to for anyone looking to lose weight. But have we gone too far in our quest to eliminate carbs from our diet?
Carbohydrates provide energy that fuels Your body. Carbohydrates are just glucose, (sugar), molecules that are strung together. These molecules break down in the body to provide energy.
Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates have fewer molecules of sugar and break down quickly in the body. Think of simple carbohydrates as a match that burns bright and quick. When we consume simple carbs, our energy levels spike quickly and then drop fast.
Complex carbohydrates break down more slowly and provide a more even energy. Like the light of a candle, complex carbs provide energy at a steady rate for a longer period-of-time than simple carbohydrates.
Should simple carbohydrates be totally eliminated from our daily nutrition?
The problem with vilifying any type of food whether it is simple carbohydrates, fats or protein is that there is no perfect nutrition plan that provides all the nutrients we need to thrive and a one size fits all plan does not take into account individual variations based on size, gender, age, culture, activity type and level or geography.
A good general recommendation is to consume more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates make us feel full, aid in digestion, regulate our blood sugars, can help us maintain a healthy weight, as well as provide protection against developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
However, some simple carbs are good for us. Examples of foods that contain simple sugars and provide us with nutrients that we need are milk and fruits. Milk contains lactose, a simple sugar. Milk also contains calcium which helps in the development and maintenance of strong bones. Fruit contains fructose, a simple sugar, but also provides the body with fiber and vitamins. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar in the body and helps keep our digestive system healthy.
Why we need Carbs
How Can I tell a simple carb from a complex carb?
Peas, beans whole grains, legumes, nuts, fibrous fruits and vegetables are the primary sources of complex carbs. Simple carbs often hide in foods. The best way to tell if you are getting simple carbs you do not need are to read food labels. The ingredients in foods are lists by amount from the highest to the lowest. The higher sugar appears on the ingredients list, the more sugar there is in that food.
Food manufacturers can also hide the amount of sugar in a product. A good way to detect sugar on a food label is to look at all the words that end in “ose”. Sucrose, fructose, high-corn syrup fructose, dextrose and maltose are other names for sugar. Also look for the words syrup, (Cane syrup, tapioca syrup), nectars, juices and other sugars, (brown sugar, molasses). The total amount of all these forms of sugar are the total amount of sugar in a product.
Another way to look at the “good” versus “bad” carbohydrates is to define your carbs as refined versus non-refined. Non-refined carbohydrates contain natural sugars and fiber. Refined carbohydrates have been processed until little or no nutritional value remains.
Moving up the Food Chain
Listed below are some simple carbohydrates and healthier alternatives. Improve your nutrition and health by substituting healthier alternatives in your daily nutrition.
Use Less of These
Add More of These
Water flavored with lemon or orange
Baked treats – cakes, cookies, low-fat snacks
Fruit Juice Concentrate
100% Fruit Juice
Refined Grains – enriched flour or products made with whole grains
100% Whole grain products
Foods in their natural state
Bread made with Whole grains – Barley, rye, oats, whole wheat
Beans, peas and lentils
Level 1 – Decrease the amount of sugary drinks you consume each day. Switch soda for water or carbonated water.
Level 2 – Add some complex carbs in the form of vegetables to your dinner each day.
Level 3 – Remove all added simple sugars from your daily nutrition.
By Lauren Rothfeld
In today’s society, it is inevitable that each person will deal with their fair amount of stress. How each person deals with their stress is different. Most turn to fairly unhealthy habits like eating junk food, playing video games and watching Netflix. What I am here to tell you today is that there is a healthier and more beneficial way to relieve the stress in your life.
Whether your stress is from your job, your family or even financial problems there is a simple solution. EXERCISE! It is simple. Exercise has countless benefits to help relieve some of your stress. One of the main benefits is that while you exercise your heart rate increases and you start to release more endorphins, your feel-good neurotransmitters. The more endorphins your body produces, the happier you become and the less stress you have!
Another way exercise helps reduce your stress is straightforward. Exercise simply takes your mind off all the other stressors in your life. There are so many things that you need to have your attention on while you exercise. You have to make sure your form is right as well as counting your repetitions and sets. There is no way that you would be able to do all of that and remember that your boss needs all this work on his desk by tomorrow, it’s just not possible.
By exercising you are ultimately improving your health. As your muscles get bigger your confidence grows as well. You also make great connections and friends through working out that will also help relieve some stress and take your mind off other issues.
So, after a long day being cooped up at work lift some weights, do a conditioning or boot camp class, go for a run, do some yoga, or even go to a spinning class. Get your heart rate up, release some endorphins and feel good about yourself. What I like to say is before entering the gym check your baggage at the door, meaning leave everything that is bothering you outside the gym walls and just relax!
Most nights, it’s the same pattern. I come home from Strength for Life, check the mail, make something for dinner and sit down for the evening. I might do a little work and watch some television and then it happens. Just like clockwork, without even thinking of it, I am back in the kitchen grabbing a snack. Before I know it, I am sitting in front of the TV munching mindlessly.
I know that I am not really hungry and the snack, (or two, or three), is not needed but I continue to eat anyway. Late night eating for me is just a habit that does not support my fitness or nutrition and needs to go.
Many of us eat when we are bored, stressed, sad, lonely, have relationship conflicts, or as a way to deal with unpleasant emotions or just out of habit.
That is bad enough, but what is even worse is that the food we eat does not make us feel better. As a matter of fact, we often feel guilty for overeating. We feel bad, we eat. We feel guilty, we eat again. We may have filled our stomachs, but we have not filled the emotional need that caused us to reach for food in the first place.
Emotional hunger is different from physical hunger. Emotional hunger is often impulsive. There is an urgency to eat something, often less healthy, comfort foods. Emotional hunger is not satisfying and is often done thoughtlessly as though we were on automatic pilot. We often feel regret or guilt after a bout of emotional eating.
Stress, boredom, loneliness, trying to bury our emotions, conflicts with relationships, fatigue, being unhappy with the way we look, health or financial issues, social situations, going out with friends can trigger emotional eating. Emotional eating can soon become an unwanted habit.
There is good news. We can change our relationship with eating and change the emotional habits that derail our health, weight and fitness.
The trick is to recognize and understand our triggers, deal with the emotions that cause us to eat and find alternate ways to deal with our triggers. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Knowing what to do and finding ways to stop emotional eating can be a difficult process.
Here are six practical tips to curb your emotional eating habits.
What are you feeling at this moment? Is it related to your craving? Ask yourself: What do I really want? Do I really need food, or something else?
Wait for a few minutes before giving in to the craving. Often delaying action is enough to get your brain out of the craving mode. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you are having.
If you are craving food because you are trying to bury or suppress your feelings, allow yourself to feel angry, sad, lonely, bored, or stressed. Giving yourself permission to feel may not be easy but can lead to a greater self-awareness about what you really need and want. It is better to deal with your feelings than to bury them down with food.
Follow these steps to cut down on your stress eating.
For the next 30 days:
Level 1: When you feel a craving to eat, write down the event or emotion that triggers your craving.
Take a timeout of a few minutes every time you feel a craving to eat. Hit the pause button.
Level 2: When you have a craving, instead of heading to the refrigerator, get up and do an activity like walking up and down the stairs, doing laundry or a crossword puzzle.
Level 3: Take time to write down a plan to deal with your triggers. Track each time you have a craving and the alternate activity you used to avoid or derail the craving.
Write down the emotion you are feeling when you have a craving and allow yourself to feel that emotion. Write down how you can deal with that emotion in the future.
Last Saturday, I turned 62 years old and decided to see what new perks came with turning another year older. When I looked online, I found that I can receive 75% of my social security benefits, and get discounts to restaurants. I can stay at a Holiday Inn or Candlewood Suites for 15% off. Hyatt will give me 20-30% off for staying at their hotels. Kohl’s offers 15% off of clothing and goods.
I can get a lifetime senior pass to our National Parks for only $10. Senior living housing is also available. Most of these things I can pass on for now, although the National Parks pass looks very good.
The benefits to aging that would interest me would be to continue to be fit and healthy, have even more time with my family and friends, continue to help others on their fitness journey and pursue my personal hobbies, photography, gardening an guitar.
There are some negatives to aging as well. My eyesight and hearing keep getting worse. I wake up often in the night and there is always some slight ache or pain, I call them “dings” in my body. I do consider myself fortunate that I am healthy, have a wonderful family, have a career that I love, and can be part of my two grandchildren lives, Roz and Dalton.
Jack LaLanne, one of the best-known fitness trainers of all time would perform great feats of strength and endurance every year on his birthday. On his 70th birthday he towed 70 boats filled with 70 people for a mile while handcuffed and shackled.
Closer to home, we ask our clients to “Challenge Yourself to Excel.” Earlier this month, one of our clients, Kate Williams, challenged herself and completed six – 6K runs on her 36th Birthday.
Several other clients completed their first Spartan race. These clients motivate us on a daily basis. So, this year I decided to “Challenge Myself to Excel” and do my own birthday challenge.
My personal challenge was to complete six different exercises for 62 repetitions in 62 minutes. The exercise includes Squats with 225 pounds, Bench Press with 185 pounds, Deadlift with 225 pounds, Bent Row with 95 pounds, Pushups and Bodyweight dips.
My Grandchildren, Roz and Dalton
This Monday, July 24, 2017, after a good warmup, I started the challenge. My strategy was to knock out sets of Squats, Bench Press and Bent Rows first. The repetition range would be from 6-10 reps for each set. Knowing I would need to complete multiple sets with little rest, I pushed myself but never went to failure on any one set.
I felt good through the first 45 minutes of the workout, breathing hard between sets, but had plenty of energy to keep going. At that point the cumulative effect of the weight, sets and repetitions started to be felt. Finishing the deadlifts took some effort, but were done within the 62 minute limit. Even though I felt pretty fatigued, I decided to keep going and finish the dips and pullups. Eight minutes later, I was able to squeeze out the last pushup.
I completed all the lifts, but did not meet my time criteria. The entire workout took a little under 70 minutes instead of the predicted 62.
Although I fell short of my goal, I feel pretty good about the Challenge. Over the course of the workout I lifted more than 45,000 pounds or 22.5 tons. That equals 646 pounds per minute not counting warmups or the bodyweight exercises, (pushups and dips).
Here is a condensed video of my Birthday Challenge Workout.
My takeaways from the Birthday Challenge:
Personal Trainer Spotlight: Jim Gallagher, Co-owner of Strength for Life
Area Servicing: Servicing the surrounding areas of Springfield, PA
Experience: Over 30 years in the business, Master’s degrees in Exercise Physiology and Special Education, cardiac rehab specialist, exercise specialist, personal trainer, fitness director, wellness coordinator, director and COO in both the medical fitness and commercial fitness industries.
At Gym Source, we value the expertise of personal trainers. That’s why we regularly spotlight local trainers who have a passion for fitness. This month we are featuring Jim Gallagher, Co-owner of Strength for Life, who feels it is important to take a comprehensive approach to create the most successful exercise programs.
The studio’s name says it all: “Strength for Life”
Jim, and his business partner Ed Winfield, focus their fitness programs on both physical and mental health to help their clients live their highest quality life possible.
“We feel it is important to develop strength in all aspects of your life,” Jim says. “We want our clients to develop physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to really improve their lives.”
His passion for empowering people to believe in themselves began while working in special education with developmentally disabled adults. “This experience taught me that early intervention was very beneficial to people. It guided my perspective. It taught me we need to work towards total wellness.”
So, how do they do it?
“First, we start with a consultation to understand any challenges or obstacles (physical, emotional, or intellectual) that have previously held you back in the past,” Jim says. “Only then do we move on to assessing your current fitness levels.”
Next, is a robust assessment to match clients with the right wellness program for their goals. “Our three part process covers posture, gait, movement patterns, muscle strength, and muscle endurance. We also feel it is important to cover dynamic warm-ups and proper form.”
“Before we add even the first weight, we design individual programs to empower each client to individually build a belief in themself. We feel it is the only way to make a lasting change in behavior,” he says.
Now comes the time to break a sweat. “Our exercise programs are crafted to create strong bodies that enable our clients to do anything they want in life, from getting off the floor pain free to beating personal records.”
Because the team focuses their workout programs on strength, functional conditioning, and movement patterns (such as squats and twists) they incorporate a variety of fitness tools into their training. “Kettlebells, dumbbells, and the TRX Training System to name a few. We want to teach our clients to use everything. Luckily, Gym Source acts as our partner here. We can find a wide variety of equipment, and accessories, in-store.”
Gym Source equipment expert, Brian Lange, who works with the Strength for Life team is always up to the task. “Jim and his team consistently look for new ways to challenge their clients, and I enjoy discovering new fitness equipment solutions to accomplish this.”
“We also place a high value on providing the tools needed to overcome previous obstacles. To do this, we offer a combination program comprised of exercise training and time with mental-health coaches. The program’s goal is to help clients work through negative past experiences or behaviors that sabotage progress. We want to empower people to learn through fitness training how to focus on the positive, to accomplish their goals.”
Yes, the foundation of Strength for Life’s fitness programs may be different than your average fitness facility, but their best tip to reach your goals is very conventional: consistency.
“You can modify and customize any workout program, however, unless you stay consistent with the work – you won’t see results,” he says.
Want to learn more? In the Springfield, PA area and Interested in sports conditioning, online fitness training, corporate wellness opportunities, personal training, or group training classes? Visit the Strength for Life website at www.strengthforlife.us or request a free consultation here.
Need help finding the right home fitness equipment solutions to reach your goals? Connect with one of our equipment experts at your local Gym Source fitness equipment store. Test, touch, and try a wide variety of fitness equipment in store to find what fits you.
How often have you heard someone say, “I don’t understand why I can’t lose weight. I only eat healthy foods.” Eating high quality, nutrient-dense food is only part of the answer. Controlling the amount of calories through portion control is another factor in losing weight.
Controlling food quantity is a herculean task in these days of super-size servings. Everywhere we go, we are tempted by extra large servings. Eating too many calories of even healthy nutrient-dense foods can cause us to gain unwanted weight. Keeping our portions in control can help us maintain a proper weight, gain muscle and lose fat.
Although there is no magic or secret portion to portion control, here are a few tried and true tips to help you choose the right portion size every time you eat.
by Mike Steck
In my previous nutrition post, I talked about the importance of maintaining consistent, adequate water intake. However, I did not address how sweating affects our hydration needs. As it turns out, when we sweat, we lose more than just water. We lose critical nutrients called electrolytes. One of these electrolytes is vastly more important than the others, critical to numerous metabolic processes. It also happens to be a nutrient that most people know little more about other than if they consume too much of it, it is bad for them. But even that widely accepted notion needs more explanation. The nutrient of which I speak is the positively charged ion known as sodium.
Sodium resides primarily in the body’s extracellular fluid, which is the fluid that surrounds all of our cells. One of its primary functions is to help potassium regulate the body’s fluid balance. Without it, our blood pressure would plummet, sending us into shock, eventually resulting in death. If we take in more than the body needs, our blood pressure can rise. Chronic hypertension, as you may have heard, is considered a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, two of our nation’s leading killers. But sodium doesn’t just affect our blood pressure, it is also involved in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and the lactate buffer, among many other things. But the three I mention are all especially important during exercise.
One thing pretty much everyone has come to believe about sodium is that if we consume too much of it, we are setting ourselves up for a high blood pressure problem. But it’s not quite as simple as limiting sodium intake. As I will explain, other factors come into play. An inactive body needs a minimal half a gram of sodium to function normally, but most of the generally sedentary population in the U.S. regularly consumes 4-6 grams of sodium daily. Highly active individuals require more sodium. So how much should you take in? Allow me to share with you five salty facts that may help you answer that question.
Most of us get the majority of our sodium from processed foods. This is not conducive to good health. Processed foods like commercial breads, snacks, deli meats and yes – sports and protein bars – are loaded with substances our bodies simply are not wired to assimilate. This includes processed sodium, which I will address below. Sodium from processed food sources is harmful to our health. We’ve been told for decades that things like salt and fat are the culprits behind our nation’s slew of health problems, but it is much more likely that these issues are due to our diet of processed foods that have been so far removed from nature that our bodies simply can’t handle the onslaught of synthetic agents.
2. Not all salt is created equal.
In recent years, we have seen a rise in popularity of sea salt as a healthy alternative to “table salt.” But is it actually healthier? And if so, what makes it healthier? As it turns out, like many food choices, picking healthy salt is a matter of, once again, processed versus unprocessed. That salt shaker on your kitchen table, full of finely granulated crystals, would be an example of processed salt. It is composed almost entirely of sodium chloride, and what’s left are man-made chemicals that do your body no good. Sea salt, on the other hand, is an example of unprocessed salt. It is considerably lower in sodium chloride, free of harmful chemicals and actually contains minerals that are beneficial to health. But some big companies sell processed salt that they market as real sea salt. So shop wisely. I personally use pink Himalayan sea salt.
3. Most whole foods naturally contain sodium.
Palatability aside, from a purely health perspective, there really is no need to be dousing everything we eat in salt. Almost every natural food that exists has naturally occurring sodium. Seafood, meat, poultry, and vegetables all contain sodium, but in relatively small amounts. This sodium is produced by nature, not processed by man, and thus is better for our health. So we can meet our sodium requirements simply by sticking to a diet of whole foods – the kind that enter our bodies in the same form that they were created in by nature.
4. Upping your potassium intake may be more important than cutting sodium.
Sodium and potassium work together to maintain the fluid balance between the inside and outside of our cells, so it would make sense that if we consumed more of one without also increasing our consumption of the other, then problems might arise. And that happens to be the case. It turns out that hypertension may not be caused by high sodium intake alone, but rather because we aren’t consuming enough potassium. Potassium can offset the negative effects of high sodium intake, so eating more foods that are rich in potassium may be just what nature ordered to keep hypertension at bay. And it just so happens that pink Himalayan sea salt naturally contains potassium, another reason to swap that for the typical salt shaker.
5. The more you sweat, the more sodium you need.
If you are a highly active individual, you will need more sodium due to the simple fact that you sweat a lot. More sodium is lost in sweat than any other electrolyte, so during these hot summer months, paying attention to your sodium intake might be a good idea. Low sodium levels can result in muscle cramps, nausea, and dizziness during exercise. In an ideal world, one would remedy this problem the old-fashioned way – by dissolving salt in water and drinking it. But I get it. Nobody finds that appealing. So this is where drinking something other than pure water can be beneficial. Enter sports drinks. If you tend to cramp up or get light-headed during intense workouts, bringing along a bottle of Gatorade to your next sweat session may be good idea.
By Mike Steck
Summertime is here, which means lots of fun in the sun! It also means higher temperatures which means more SWEAT. That being said, adequate hydration becomes even more important than it already is, especially if you are highly active. Water is the single most abundant component of our body composition, making up at least 60 percent of any individual, and is involved in just about every metabolic process. Many factors can affect your water requirements, including body type, diet, activity level, and even where you live. Many individuals don’t get as much water as they should on a daily basis, and this may very well be a compounding factor in many of our nation’s health problems. However, there is also something to be said for drinking too much water, which can also be dangerous to our health. The key to hydration – as it is with many things in life – is balance.
Although water balance is maintained through fluid intake as well as food intake, there is no substitute for good old fashioned water when it comes to hydration. Here are five tips to make sure you are getting the right amount of water every day!
1. Pay attention to your urine.
The color of your urine is the classic indicator of hydration. If it is a pale yellow color, you are well-hydrated. If it is bright or dark yellow, it might be time to drink another glass of water. Note, however, that your urine can sometimes be bright yellow even if you are adequately hydrated. If you take supplemental vitamins, these will cause your urine to be yellow even if you are hydrated. That being said, how frequently you go is another thing to keeps tabs on. A normal frequency for a healthy hydrated individual is about once every 2-3 hours, which comes out to 7-8 times a day. If you are running to the bathroom every hour though, you may very well be overdoing your fluid intake.
2. Drink water, not just water-containing beverages.
As I mentioned above, nothing can replace nature’s most precious source of nourishment (besides air) – plain, simple water. Coffee, soda, and sports drinks don’t have quite the same effect on our bodies as pure water. For one, coffee has diuretic properties which actually cause us to eliminate water, contributing to dehydration. And the concentrated sugar content of soda and many sports and energy drinks requires that our bodies use extra water to dilute and digest that atomic bomb of sweet goodness. So if you’re thirsty, opting for a glass of water might be the better option for restoring your body’s water balance.
3. Wake up and smell the coffee, but drink water first.
The first thing many of us do when we wake up in the morning is go to the bathroom and release a moderate amount of yellowish urine. Then we go straight to the coffee maker for that euphoric first cup of high-octane diuretic nectar. Can you sense what I’m getting at? When you wake up in the morning you are actually mildly dehydrated. Think about it, you’ve been asleep for the last 8 or so hours without a sip of water. Your body, however, has continued carrying out various processes, including tissue repair as a result of the previous day’s workout. These processes all require water. So a better thing to do first thing in the morning is pour a glass of water. I personally down 24 ounces as soon as I wake up, then I have my coffee.
4. Utilize mobile technology.
If something exists, chances are there’s an app for it. And that happens to be the case with hydration. There are numerous smartphone apps that help you track your water intake by sending you reminders throughout the day to drink up. I personally use “My Water,” which determines your water needs based on your gender, weight, and activity level. It also let’s you input any type of fluid you take in and calculates what percentage of a given beverage actually contributes to your body’s water balance.
5. Be consistent.
One of the biggest downfalls of many people’s attempts to live healthily is lack of consistency with both training and nutrition. The key to maintaining health and wellness is consistent, daily habits, not the least of which is adequate water intake. Many people don’t stay consistently hydrated, but instead are intermittently hydrated, with many dry spells. This is not conducive to good health and, as I mentioned above, could be exacerbating many common health issues. Making sure you are getting the right amount of water on a daily basis is one of the most important habits you can adopt for your health. So drink up!
Meal Planning Tips
Meal Planning is a great way to keep on top of your nutrition. Whether you are counting calories, tracking your macros, watching your portion size or just trying to choose healthy foods, meal planning can help.
The thought of finding time to plan and cook meals ahead of time can be daunting. Meal planning is a great way to set yourself up to be successful with your nutrition.
The best part of meal planning is that you cannot fail! There are no rules, just do what works for you and your family. You can plan breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can use meal planning to make sure you get enough protein, limit simple sugars or even for planning your snacks for the week.
Our philosophy is always start simple and look for ways to incorporate healthy habits into your busy lifestyle. Meal planning should reduce your stress and free up time, not become another chore on your to-do list.
Here are some of our favorite tips to help you get started on meal planning:
Did you know that the average human body is made up of 50-65% water? We lose water each daily in normal bodily functions. If we’re not adequately replenishing with fresh water throughout the day, we can become dehydrated. One obvious sign of dehydration is when the urine is very yellow. Physical symptoms of dehydration can include fatigue, dizziness, dry skin, and headaches. It is so important for our overall health and performance to make sure we are drinking enough water each day.
This month we challenge you to increase your water intake. Try drinking enough water to make your urine a very pale yellow. It doesn’t have to be completely clear, but as it gets lighter in color, that’s a good sign that you’re adequately hydrated. A simple general rule to follow for your water intake, is to take the number of your weight in pounds, divide that by 2, and aim to drink that many fluid ounces of water. So for example, if your weight is 200 lbs, you would set a goal to drink 100 oz of water a day. One cup is 8 ounces, so you would drink 12 ½ cups of water throughout the day. If you’re not already drinking enough water, you can start by simply increasing your intake by a few cups a day. To help you stay on track, carry a reusable water bottle with you as you go about your day.
Visit our Facebook group, Strength for Life Monthly Challenges for tips, advice and accountability.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.