Is Organic Food Worth The Hype

Is Organic Food Worth The Hype

If finding organic food is part of your normal dietary process, you know it’s not always easy and next to impossible if you eat in a restaurant. It also costs more. You may wonder if organic food is really worth and if all the hype is true. First, some studies show that organic food isn’t more nutritious than other conventionally grown food, so why would you spend extra? The Dirty Dozen List and the Clean Fifteen might be one convincing.

What is the Dirty Dozen?

The Dirty Dozen is a list put out every year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, organization that helps protect health and the environment. They test a lot of things from cosmetics, GMOs and even how much pesticide is in the food we eat. Each year they shop for conventionally grown produce throughout the country and test it for pesticides and other contaminants. Those with the most pesticides found make it to the Dirty Dozen list. Those with the least are on the Clean Fifteen.

Consider buying organic if the fresh fruit or vegetable is on the dirty dozen list.

While you might scrub some of the Dirty Dozen, you won’t get rid of all the pesticides. Some grows into the plant itself. On the dirty dozen list, the worst offenders had multiple pesticide residue. Spinach had two times the pesticide when you considered weight, than any other crop tested. Of the massive number of fruits and vegetables tested, some tested positive for pesticides in over 98 percent of the samples.

Why is this list important?

Not all conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are laden with pesticides and other chemicals. So even if they’re grown organically or conventionally, they’re relatively safe. That means you can save money by buying conventionally grown, often less expensive produce from the Clean 15 list and stick with organic for the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen includes strawberries in the number one position—the worst, followed by spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes and this year, number 13, hot peppers was added, so it’s actually a baker’s dozen.

  • The Clean 15 includes: sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, sweet peas frozen, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.
  • While research shows that organic food may not contain more nutrients, other research shows that it may. That might be to the type of fertilizer used for conventional growing, compared to the nutrient rich compost used in organic growing.
  • There’s a lot of talk about GMO foods and their safety. Eating organic foods can avoid worrying about GMOs in your food.
  • Some of the food on the Clean Fifteen list may be GMO foods. The EWG noted that a small amount of the papaya, summer squash and sweet corn on the market may be from GMO seeds. You might consider going organic on these foods, too.

Benefits Of A Workout Partner

Benefits Of A Workout Partner

Lots of time I find that I’m the first workout partner my clients in Baltimore, MD ever had, which is sad because there are huge benefits of a workout partner. Just like working with a personal trainer, you have a commitment to the partner to show up at the gym or where ever you choose to workout. That keeps you accountable and keeps you going on those days when you’d rather just stay home and watch TV or check the tweets or FB posts. One study showed that a phone call every two weeks to check on exercise boosted the average person to workout by 78 percent.

You’ll workout harder when someone is watching you.

You may feel like coasting downhill on that exercise bike, but if you know you’ve got a partner watching, you’ll keep pedaling. Sometimes, it’s just that little competitive streak in you coming out and being motivated to do better than your partner does. Nobody wants to be the low person on the line that can’t finish an exercise, so being challenged by a workout buddy can help you keep on going when you’d really rather quit. One study showed that people worked longer when they were exercising as a team, as much as 200% longer, even if the partner was virtual.

You’ll have a safer workout with a buddy, especially if you press weights.

You need a spotter for those exercises that involve weight lifting. A workout partner can also help identify areas where your form is less than stellar. Doing an exercise incorrectly can minimize the benefits, while also boosting the potential for injury. If you’re a jogger or runner, find a fellow jogger to make your trips, particularly in the winter months if you’re going out after dark. It’s safer for a number of reasons, but the most obvious is that there are two of you in case there’s a danger or an injury.

You’ll tackle more complicated and new workouts with a friend.

When there’s two of you, it’s not as intimidating learning new things. Whether it’s learning how to use the kettlebells, trying free weights for the first time or even going to a yoga class, it helps when you have a friend to join you. Exercise buddies can also bring new ideas and workouts to you, so you have more variety.

  • If you’re feeling bummed about not progressing as fast as you should or shedding the unwanted pounds, a workout partner can provide support and encouragement.
  • A workout partner won’t let you rest on your accomplishments, but keeps you pushing toward higher and higher goals.
  • It’s more fun to share a workout with a friend. Exercising isn’t often boring, but it isn’t always fun either. Having someone to share it with makes it more fun. You get to share your accomplishments, too.
  • If you’re learning to eat healthier, your workout partner can help you in that area. Whether sharing ideas for snacks or a healthy recipe that’s positively delicious, you’ll benefit with a better diet that’s tasty.

Staying Hydrated

Staying Hydrated

A healthy lifestyle includes a number of things you need to do and also shouldn’t do. Eating healthy, exercising, getting adequate sleep, enjoying friends and the outdoors and staying hydrated should be on your to do list. Your body is about fifty-five to sixty-five percent water, based on your age and sex. It’s necessary for a number of functions and if you’re dehydrated, those functions go awry. Seniors are particularly prone to dehydration. The percentage of water varies from organ to organ, with the heart and brain containing 73 % water, lungs 83%, muscles and kidneys 79%.

Water is necessary for carrying out many functions.

You need water to keep your body temperature normal and water as a building block for cells. Water is necessary to help break down food and transport those nutrients throughout the boy. Water helps eliminate waste and keeps the joints lubricated. It protects the spinal cord and brain by acting like a shock absorber. Achy joints can occur without adequate water since it lubricates them.

Drinking more water can help you lose weight.

Sometimes, when you think you’re hungry, you’re really thirsty. Try drinking a glass of water before you reach for a snack and you might be surprised at how much better you feel. A glass of water before meals can also help fill you up, so you’ll eat less. Water has no calories, so foods heavily laden with water are often lower in calories, too. You can eat quite a bit without gaining weight. Sipping on water throughout the day can also keep you going at top speed and help control your appetite

Are you dragged out and tired? Try a glass of water.

One of my favorite tricks is to drink a glass of water when I’m tired, rather than heading for the pot of coffee. While coffee does contain caffeine, it also is a diuretic that can deplete your body of water even further. Muscle fatigue is caused by inadequate fluids and that can cause poor athletic performance, so drinking about two glasses of water two hours before exercising helps keep you going.

  • You’ll look better if you’re adequately hydrated. Dehydration affects the skin and makes your skin look older. It won’t bring miracles and turn back the clock, because once you’re hydrated, the rest of the water is expelled in urine.
  • Adequate water over time helps prevent kidney stones. It also prevents constipation.
  • Carry a bottle of water with you and sip on it throughout the day. Leave your coffee cup at home.
  • Eight 8-oz glasses of water is recommended per day on the average. Larger people should drink more. People who workout should replace the fluid they lost through perspiration.

Favorite Healthy Breakfasts

Favorite Healthy Breakfasts

One of my favorite meals of the day is in the morning. I love healthy breakfasts. Not everyone is Baltimore, MD agrees with me or feels they have the time for anything but a donut or bowl of cereal. It may be easier than you think. If you’re not a morning muncher, making a breakfast snack for midmorning might be a good option. For others that like breakfast, but don’t feel like they have the time, there are some quick healthy breakfasts that will do your body good, but won’t get you off schedule.

Weekend breakfasts are the best.

On the weekend, you normally have more time and breakfast actually turns into a brunch. One of my favorite weekend breakfasts, one that takes a little time to make, is Mini scrambled egg muffins. While it’s easy, it does require 8 to 10 minutes baking time and that means you have to warm the oven first. Plus cutting and cooking some of the optional ingredients. Just mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper then add the fixings for the frittata style muffin. I also add small pieces of steamed broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms, onions and bits of lean meat. Sometimes, I use ham, sometimes turkey and sometimes grass-fed beef. You can also tear spinach leaves and put it directly into the egg mix.I cut these in small pieces and precook the mushrooms, onions and meat. Pour into muffin cups and serve with whole grain toast and fruit.

Quick breakfasts that take only a minute but are super healthy.

If you have time over the weekend, make some healthy banana or pumpkin bread. There are a number of recipes online that are excellent. Spread nut butter on it. I used to use nuts when I made the bread, but found this is also a great way to get the benefits of nuts and flavor. It gives a boost of protein and some carbs. I love pecan butter and cashew butter!!!! Grab a hard boiled egg and spread mashed avocado on toast. It’s all good and it’s all fast.

Take a slice of bread, a small jar of nut butter and a banana to work.

If you’re not a morning eater, maybe you’re a midmorning one. You can satisfy your hunger easily by packing a snack-like breakfast. A small jar of nut butter to spread on a slice of bread and top with slices of banana is a healthy treat even Elvis would love. A plain hard boiled egg is another option. That healthy banana bread mentioned earlier, pumpkin bread or zucchini bread topped with nut butter is also handy and easy to transport without heating or refrigeration. Apples and natural peanut butter are one of my favorite snack treats.

  • A filling breakfast that’s good for you is oatmeal topped with almond butter or peanut butter. Some stores that sell bulk nuts have a nut butter machine where you can make your own. Drizzle a little maple syrup or honey if you want it sweet.
  • Scramble eggs with mushrooms, spinach and onions and top it with a slice of fresh tomato or feta cheese. Fruit on the side, sprout toast and/or kefir can add to the feast.
  • Plain Greek yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and some granola is filling, yet healthy.
  • Grab a smoothie. You can add almost any ingredients, just make it something you like. On hot days, use frozen fruits. Coconut milk or plain yogurt could be the base. Throw in some ground flax or chia seeds. (Flax seeds need to be ground to get the benefits. Do it right before you use them.)

The Importance Of Muscle Mechanics

The Importance Of Muscle Mechanics

In order to know how to get the most benefit of each workout, you have to know the importance of muscle mechanics. That’s true no matter what your age, whether it’s 16 or 60, where you live, whether it’s in Baltimore, MD or Paris, France or what your physical shape, which varies from couch potato to competition perfect. It encompasses not only how the muscles work and what movements do to each muscle, but also how they work in synergy during each movement.

You start with the basics first.

The basics include getting all muscles to a level of fitness that allows you to move on to the second level. While you might want big guns, you need to work on your whole body first, because it takes a variety of movements that involve other muscles to get the results you want. If those other muscles aren’t ready to cooperate, you have an imbalance that can cause injury if you aren’t careful. Getting a solid foundation is important, whether you’re building a house or building your body. Step one is always to ensure you have a solid foundation.

You need to move each muscle in a variety of ways.

Your muscles contract two ways. In one type of contraction, the muscle remains the same length. That’s an isometric contraction. In the other type of contraction, the muscle shortens. That’s an isotonic contraction. In isotonic exercises, the joint is involved because there’s a lifting and lowering phase. This type of exercise is best for functional fitness. In isometric exercises there’s no joint movement. Both are good to build muscle size, endurance and strength.

You need to include both types of exercises in your workout to get the maximum benefit.

To get the maximum benefit from your workout, you have to do more than just focus on isolated muscles. Starting with a strong core is an excellent way, while also working all the muscles in the body. Having a strong core can help prevent injuries that occur doing everyday movements and create a stronger you to go on to building the body parts, like upper arms, that you want to improve.

  • Isotonic exercises include exercises like leg extensions or may involve more than one joint and be compound isotonic exercises, such as lunges that involve more than one joint.
  • Core exercises are often isometric exercises, such as planks and abdominal vacuums.
  • When you’re exercising, even if you want to build strength, you need to work on flexibility at the same time. It increases your range of motion and helps prevent injuries as you build to lifting higher weights.
  • Including all types of exercise in your program, isometric, isotonic, endurance, balance, flexibility and strength, builds a stronger base and a fitter you.

The Importance Of A Balanced Diet

The Importance Of A Balanced Diet

You hear it on the TV, from your personal trainer, your health care provider and maybe even from your mother, “to be healthy, you need a balanced diet.” It’s not just a matra said to make you feel inadequate, it’s true. Your body needs not only a balance of healthy fat, protein and carbohydrates, it also needs all the nutrients, phyto or macronutrient that are contained in a variety of foods. While tomatoes are good for you, if you ate only tomatoes, you’d eventually get sick. That’s because you would be deficit of many of the important nutrients that help build your body and keep it functioning at its best.

A colorful platter is the start.

While it sounds simplistic, a message that was drummed into our heads in the mandatory home economics class every middle schooler had to take was that a rainbow plate kept you healthy. By a rainbow plate, it doesn’t mean a bowl of M&Ms or Skittles, like some of my then classmates suggested but foods with a variety of colors. Vegetables of different colors have different pigments from carotenoids, flavonoids and chlorophyll. The carotenoids provide the yellow and orange veggies with color. The flavonoids make them red, white and blue. I guess they’re patriotic pigments. The chlorophyll make veggies green. Each of these colorful pigments provide extra benefits for the body. Of course, add a protein source, which is often cream colored or brown and a fat source, which can range from yellow to the pale cream green of avocados and you have a rainbow of colors that’s a healthy meal.

Your body needs protein, fat and carbohydrates.

People often freak out when they hear the word fat, but your body needs it. Healthy fat helps your body in a number of ways. It’s actually heart healthy and vital for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, plus has many other functions. Foods like nuts and avocados provide healthy fat. Trans fats are the unhealthy fats. Carbohydrates provide the body with energy, but like fats, some carbs are better than others are. Sugar is a carbohydrate that can be eliminated from most people’s diets. Protein is important to building muscle tissue and every cell in the body.

Don’t forget vitamins and minerals.

The healthy platter that’s colorful, not only provides a wide variety of phytonutrients, it provides a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, too. Fruits and vegetables of different colors offer different types of vitamins. The carotenoids in yellow and orange vegetables converts to vitamin A in the body, as an example. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for almost every function of the body. They boost your immune system, help build bones, repair cells and aid in wound healing.

  • What you drink make a difference too. If you’re drinking a soft drink, diet or not, with your meal, you’re missing out on the benefits of water, plus many new studies show that carbonated soft drinks may be unhealthy.
  • Eating a healthy well balanced diet can also help you lose weight.
  • Whole foods, rather than highly processed foods, should be the core of your healthy diet. Processed foods often contain unhealthy additives.
  • Read labels when shopping for food if you’re not buying whole foods. Foods with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, dextrose or other synonyms for sugar aren’t nearly as healthy.

 Summer Workouts

You don’t have to go to the gym for some summer workouts. As a personal trainer, I often tell people to get as much outdoor time as you can in the summer. As the motto of the House Stark (for all you Game of Thrones fans) says, “Winter is coming.” We all know what Baltimore winters are like. They can be cold wet and windy, making you want to witness them inside the house, rather than venturing outdoors. Getting out in the sun helps boost your vitamin D levels, too. Do it wisely and build up gradually. You need some sun to create adequate vitamin D, but you can get too much of a good thing.

Communing with nature as you get exercise helps the spirit.

Not only does it do your body good to have an abundance of fresh air, but it also adds a touch of serenity to your workout. One study showed that people who worked out in the great outdoors often found their enjoyment and satisfaction greater. Whether you’re taking a brisk walk along a trail or simply doing your regular workout in the backyard, you’ll get a huge benefit from these types of summer workouts.

Split your time between the gym and the great outdoors.

Come workout with us in the gym and get the benefit of using a personal trainer, but also spend some time hiking through a park or enjoying a backyard workout. Unlike the gym floor that’s level, the terrain outside is far more challenging. If you’re taking a hike, you’ll find it’s a bit more difficult on the uneven terrain than it is if you’re walking on pavement or working out in the gym. That works your core muscles harder to maintain balance and helps you burn even more calories.

You can share your workout time with the kids when you have a summer workout that’s outside.

Whether you head for the beach to go swimming, take a hike through one of the local parks or just enjoy exercising in your backyard, you can make it family time. Not only will you be getting exercise, you’ll be creating memories for years to come and teaching your children how to live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, you don’t have to set apart a special time to workout. It can be as simple as walking the kids to school or walking to the grocery instead of driving. It’s time well spent with the family.

  • Using your time away from the gym to do other activities can not only boost your weight loss, but also add more enjoyment to getting fit.
  • If you’re hiking a distance or taking the kids along, make sure you have adequate hydration available. Hiking together can also be super fun if you take along a healthy snack or lunch to eat in the middle of the hike.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to get more exercise. Walk up the stairs, rather than riding the elevator and on these nice summer days, park further from the store so you can walk more.
  • Don’t quit your summer workout program just because fall arrives. There’s lots of comfortable days to workout outside throughout the year.

 Workouts For Mind And Body

If you’ve tried to lose weight before and found you were depressed and feeling deprived after just a short time, you probably weren’t exercising, too. As a personal trainer, I emphasize that the exercises are workouts for mind and body. You see, exercise is the great stress buster. No matter who you are, there’s stress in your life. Not all of it has to be earth shaking to take its toll. Sometimes, just being in a super noisy room can create a lot of mental stress that translates to the body the same way as a wild animal chasing you would.

Stress causes many changes that used to serve a purpose.

The body undergoes changes when you’re stressed. That’s because at one time, stress meant danger, where you had to run or fight. It’s called the flight or fight response. It changed the blood flow to help you run faster and sent adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine through your body. Those make your heart pound faster, your muscles tense and you breathe faster and maybe even sweat. These hormones also shut down some of the non-critical immediate functions in the body, such as the immune system, digestive, growth and reproductive system. If you’re continuously under stress, hormones like cortisol can affect the immune system, increase blood pressure, lower the libido, throw blood sugar out of whack and has the potential for developing visceral fat, the most dangerous kind around the abdomen.

Exercise actually creates some cortisol.

While you’ll burn off cortisol levels during exercise, it does boost the cortisol levels for a short time. That enables the body to burn fat. If you exercise regularly, your body will produce less cortisol on a day to day basis. That’s because regular exercise helps reduce the amount in your bloodstream. You’ll have fewer signs and symptoms of stress…and even exercise away some of that belly fat that’s so hard to burn.

Your body will start to look fabulous, but you’ll also find your spirits lifted.

You don’t need any explanation of how exercise helps you look great. It helps you shed fat and tone and firm muscle tissue. Exercise also boosts your level of “happy hormones,” such as endorphins, which act like morphine, without any potential for addiction. Exercise has been found beneficial for treating many different mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, stress and even dementia.

  • You’ll love how you look after a few months of exercising and all the energy you’ll have. It boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem, which is another way it helps your mind and spirit.
  • You’ll feel good and sleep better at night. There’s no doubt about it, both help the body and mind.
  • When you exercise regularly, it helps regulate blood sugar levels. The super highs with the scary angry lows will disappear and your mental state will level out nicely.
  • Exercise helps you think clearer and improves cognitive functioning. Not only does that help you at work, it makes you feel better about yourself and helps you get tasks accomplished quicker.