Category Archives: exercise

Winter Fitness Tips

eat more fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C
Winter is here.  For many people that brings an urge to practically hibernate;  you just want to stay cozy and warm.  Cozy and warm is great, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in shape. Here are five fabulous tips for staying healthy during the winter months.

Sleep Smart – A recent study from BYU shows that if you go to bed and get up at the same time every day you are less likely be overweight. It’s believed that your metabolism functions better with stable sleep patterns. Remember to avoid caffeine and alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime as these stimulants can prevent you from getting good sleep.   A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm, and a dark space will also help to promote healthy sleep.  How much do you need? Aim for between 6.5 and 8.5 hours a night.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C is essential for normal body function. Although there is conflicting research about whether or not Vitamin C can prevent or shorten cold symptoms, it appears that higher levels of vitamin C are a good marker for health according a study from the University of Michigan. Dr. Mark Moyad, the study researcher, suggests taking 500 mg as a supplement in addition to eating 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C.  The best fruit and vegetable sources  are:

Oranges and grapefruits
Kiwi fruits
Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries
Cauliflower and broccoli
Green and red peppers

Exercise – It is very hard to stay motivated during winter, so get your workout in first. Don’t put if off. The short winter days make this even harder, so try to exercise before it gets dark out. This can be a real challenge in the winter time. Ideally it would be great to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine, but winter conditions don’t always allow for that.  If you can’t be outside head to the gym or try a workout DVD or YouTube video and exercise in your living room.  Home gym equipment can be purchased inexpensively and used for fitness year-round.

You can even go to the mall and walk some laps; the key is to keep moving as much as possible. Even walking just 15-30 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your fitness level. According to the American Heart Association, walking as exercise is enough to prevent heart attacks and extend life expectancy.

And as soon as there is a break in the weather, get out and move that body. Bored of walking? Why not try dancing lessons? This can be a fun way to get out and stay fit in the winter.

Avoid Alcohol – Winter time is full of parties and festivities. Alcoholic drinks are full of “empty” calories meaning that they provide very little nutritional benefit. Too much alcohol is a sure way to get out of shape during the winter. Try to stick to one glass of beer or wine a day or less.


Avoid Carbohydrate Loading – Winter makes you crave carbs. Less sunlight means lower serotonin levels which cause hunger.  Less sunlight can also be a trigger for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Instead of loading up on carbs enjoy different meal choices.  For lunch, make sure you get plenty of protein, veggies and dairy products to lessen afternoon hunger pangs. Healthy carbohydrate choices are sweet potatoes and oatmeal. Check out these other eating tips for SAD.  Try to get as much sunlight as possible since this stimulates serotonin release and suppresses hunger. If needed, there are even special sun lamps that you can buy to get enough light during wintertime.

Just because it is cold, wet and dark doesn’t mean you can’t stay in shape. Follow these ways to keep fit and you will be full of energy come springtime.

Joe Alter is a fitness buff, writer, and the CEO of Yowza Fitness, a leading manufacturer of home fitness equipment, including treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes. He is on a mission to lead the home fitness industry to a new era of innovation, with biomechanically superior cardiovascular fitness equipment.

photo: Fæ

5 For Fitness On Twitter

Living a healthy and fulfilling life is a major goal for most of us. This is why many people continue to seek advice and suggestions about health and fitness from specialists.  Someone who can support your health goals by providing simple and applicable tips. With the advent of the internet, there are now large numbers of health and fitness experts available at the push of a button.  Twitter is just one place where you can find the latest updates on health and fitness methods to improve your health and help you get into good physical shape.

Five fabulous twitter accounts to follow for up to date health and fitness tips:

1.@CrossFit – this tops the list of top-class Twitter accounts to follow for updates on health and fitness tips. The administrator of this account provides continuous updates on healthy living tips that are well laid out to ensure that you do not miss a single point. It is widely believed that @CrossFit is one of those Twitter accounts that updates their feed every half an hour providing regular inspiration and information.

2. @BornFitness – new on the twitter scene, this feed is emerging as a reliable source of health and fitness tips. The coverage on this feed goes further by giving suggestions on some important weight loss programs without the use of diet pills. These natural ways of improving your health makes this Twitter account one of the reliable health and fitness accounts you can get on this social media platform.

3. @TakeaChallenge – the tips are of more practical procedures are aimed at ensuring that you maintain or improve on your health status by participating in exercises that are important to ensuring that you live a healthy life.

4. @greatist – another Twitter account with tips that are aimed at improving on your health and body appearance. The suggestions on this account are very professional and straightforward to ensure that you are not lost or confused while focusing on your body health.

5. @actionhapiness – one of the most popular feeds, this account not only gives updates on health and fitness tips but also has suggestions on how to improve on your life by living happily. The main aim of this feed is to support you in creating your happy life.

It is important to note that these twitter accounts provide health and fitness tips that are aimed at ensuring that you live a healthy life that is not only enjoyable but also free from illness. Filled with  practical tips geared toward encouraging an exercise, fitness, health, and wellness routine which should help those looking to make  changes in their life and their physique. With the ideas and suggestions found on these accounts, there is regular encouragement to lead a healthy and fulfilling life as you embark on putting the ideas shared in these feeds into practice.

This article was provided by Carl Shaw of


Exercise For Weight Loss

Many people spend a lot of time worried about their weight. Focused on the number on the scale. While that certainly can be important, what is more important is to be healthy and to keep moving. We are more than the number of pounds we carry.

Having said that it’s also important to recognize that we need to stay active in order to be fit and healthy. There’s a popular image which has been making it’s way around the internet, facebook, pinterest and more. It shows an overweight person walking and the caption reads, “No matter how slow you go you are still lapping everyone on the couch.” How very true. Get up, get moving, keep your body active. Weight loss It’s not easy, but it is simple — eat right, stay hydrated, be well rested, and move your body.

Activity can help you lose weight but even better than that it will make sure your body stays strong, flexible, and limber.  A variety of activities is best for overall fitness and health.

Bill Fryer and his infographics can be found at My Fitness Boutique.

children seasonal affective disorder

Helping Children Overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression occurring at certain times of the year. SAD usually occurs during the late fall or winter months. It is believed to be caused by lack of sunlight since it occurs in higher frequencies in latitudes farther from the equator, where hours of sunlight are less during the winter. It may also be related to a drop in serotonin levels. Even young children can suffer from SAD.  Here are the top three things you can do to help support your kids and keep them feeling great during the winter months.


Because SAD is believed to be connected to limited light exposure, make sure that your children spend some time outdoors during winter daylight hours. Yes, it will be cold, but bundle them up properly and the sun exposure will do them good. Encourage them to get light exposure directly into their eyes (in other words, forgo the sunglasses). This is because light exposure, particularly bright light, through the eyes boost serotonin activity. You may want to make a point of having your children go out on weekends during the winter, as they will likely be shut in at school during the weekday daylight hours. If desired you can also buy special lights that are meant for treating SAD. Light therapy has helped many people who suffer from SAD.


While it may be difficult for your children to play outside in the winter, the activity and sunlight will be very beneficial. This is because exercise and physical activity is a great way to fight depression, even SAD. You may find it effective to provide a space in your house for your children to be physically active. A partially finished basement or a room that you don’t need to keep in the best shape is perfect for this. You could put a small basketball hoop in this room or provide other activities that will encourage your children to be active. If provided with space and encouraged to be active, many children will jump at the opportunity.


Lastly, proper diet is important in the treatment of SAD. As with all depression, make sure your children limit the amount of sweets and simple carbs that they eat. Eating a healthy, whole-food diet, low in processed food and artificial ingredients, can help to address nutrient deficiencies that may be exacerbating SAD symptoms.

Consuming foods rich in Vitamin D and DHA may be particularly helpful in treating SAD. Vitamin D is produced easily in the summer sun by our bodies, but is limited in the winter, due to the angle of the sun and the reduced hours of sunlight. Fish and other types of seafood are high in both Vitamin D and the essential omega 3 fatty acid DHA. Both are commonly consumed by certain cultures who have a lower prevalence of SAD, despite living in latitudes far from the equator. Vitamin D can also be found in dairy products (be sure to choose organic in order to avoid added hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals), eggs, and mushrooms (especially portabellas which are raised under appropriate conditions – these are sometimes found in the grocery store under the label “sun-bella”).

If you feel that your kids may not be getting the Vitamin D they need through their diet, you could ask your doctor to have their levels checked. Your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement for the winter months.

Try some of these ideas to help keep SAD away from your household and to get your kids through the winter blues. Don’t forget to smile and take time to relax so you can your family can enjoy a healthy and happy winter.

Josiah Garber enjoys studying and pursuing health and nutrition. He works as Manager of Technology at Medical Support Products an online respiratory equipment and supplies company.

On My Mind Monday 12.3.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies – Our food system is broken/breaking down as corporations pursue ever greater consolidation in the race toward profits. This however squeezes out the farmer and isolates us further from our food. I believe everyone should read this report. It’s important that we understand where our food comes from, why costs are rising, and why we need to know our farmer.

Changes ahead for sugar – (starts at 2:40 on the video) US prices 50-70% higher than the rest of the world? Wow that’s a huge jump. Combined with the fact that processed sugar can be as much as 4 times more addictive than cocaine and we have a very expensive health crisis on our hands (in more ways than one). We could all pay attention to the label and eat less sugar.

eFarmony – I love this idea…putting those with land together with those who want to farm it. Sounds like a win-win-win with consumers getting more fresh local produce.

Allergic to spice – We hear a lot about the common food allergies, dairy, peanuts, shellfish, etc. We also hear about food sensitivity conditions the severe celiac disease to a less harmful but still challenging lactose intolerance (a lack of the digestive enzyme lactase). But many people tend to forget that food sensitivities can be to any food substance. While food sensitivities are different than a life-threatening allergy, they are no less severe for their impact on health. If you think you have food sensitivities consider working with a nutrition professional to see how you can identify what may be overwhelming your system.

Horrible Diet Ideas – With the New Year just around the corner many people begin to resolve to lose weight. Unfortunately many of them are seduced by fad diets and celebrity endorsements. Just because someone is famous does not make them an expert on nutrition. Many of these ideas are highly dangerous. If you want to lose weight it needs to be done in a healthy, supportive fashion.

Asparagus for blood sugar control? – Like asparagus? It turns out that asparagus may be useful in stabilizing blood glucose levels. More and more readily available at the grocery store it’s tasty and easy to cook.  I love the fact that I’ve got some in my garden, we just finished moving it to it’s new dog-free garden bed. Now to wait and see if it transplanted well.

Looking for a good gentle yoga routine?  Here’s one I like that’s very relaxing and, most importantly, reminds you to breathe deeply.

What am I reading this week?  Truthfully, nothing because I’m still busy at work on my book, The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what’s really in your food.  Want to learn more about the book?

Head on over to Facebook and join The Pantry Principle page.  You’ll be able to stay in touch as I start posting healthy tips and news articles.

On My Mind Monday 11.19.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Read what’s on my mind.

High Riboflavin Linked to Low Lung Cancer Risk – This study was done as part of the Shanghai Women’s Health Study, the participants were non-smoking females.  Not sure what the implication is for those who used to smoke but it sure can’t hurt to make sure you eat foods high in riboflavin. These include:  venison, yogurt, milk, crimini mushrooms, and spinach.

Rooftop Hospital Farms – This is a great way for hospitals to utilize the space on top of their building, create healthy menus for the patients and staff, and help to contribute to a growing eco-friendly environment.  I can also envision this as a potential park-like area for inner-city patients (those able to be ambulatory), and staff to be able to spend therapeutic time in a green environment.

Fat loss odds stacked against you – It’s a never-ending battle of the bulge.  Portion sizes, especially when eating out, are out of control.  Fats and sugars and salts are packed into foods to make them more tempting and convince us to overeat.  It is not in the best (profit-driven) interests of corporations to have consumers who don’t overeat — read overspend on food and then the attendant pharmaceutical/healthcare bills that come along with obesity.  We need to become more aware and more proactive in managing our health and our consumption.

Exercise Your Sperm – Turns out men who exercise not only improve their own health, they also improve the quality of their sperm.  Important for those who want to have children.  Interestingly enough the study found that endurance athletes, such as triathletes, did not have this benefit as they suffered from reduced sperm quality.  Rather it was moderate exercise which promoted the best value of sperm health and hormone levels.

One Can Equals 22 Aerobic Minutes – How hard do you have to work to burn off that cola?  And don’t forget about the immune suppressing effects of all that sugar.  Drinking sugar free?  You’re still taking in toxic chemicals and damaging your health. Do we really need a “calculator” to tell us that soda is not a healthy beverage choice?

I know you hear me on Facebook frequently encouraging alkalizing. Here’s a great video that shows a good explanation of the acid-alkaline balance.  If you’re not already participating, sign up or “like” my Facebook Fan Page to stay connection and be part of the conversation.

photo: mconnors

On My Mind Monday – 11.12.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Food: An Atlas – It’s an interesting project to map food in a number of different ways; production, distribution, security, and cuisine  Should be fascinating to look at and see where your food is really coming from.

Factory Farms May Raise Blood Pressure – We know factory farms are bad for the animals that are raised there.  Overcrowding and filthy conditions are not good for any living being.  The environmental impact of CAFO’s is huge.  Now it turns out that it may not be healthy for people living nearby either.  While the study is small and the results not firm, it points to another reason why CAFO’s may not be the best way to raise meat.

Meat Inspections Are Down – And speaking of meat, it turns out that our government is inspecting less and less of the meat coming in to this country from other countries.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is instead relying more and more on those countries to self-report any issues.  Another good reason to buy local and get to know your farmer.

Women Who Exercise Still Sitting Too Much – Whoops, that would include me.  The health results of sitting are known to be bad for us.  The more we sit the more challenges we face to our health.  I try to be as active as possible but when I added up my hours spent sitting, either at work or at home, it came to far more than I thought it did.  Time to bump up the activity program and try to find ways to be more active during the course of a day.

Sports Drinks Overhyped – “There isn’t much evidence that sports drinks improve athletic performance.”  Truthfully not many people work out enough to need a sports beverage.  Not only that, most sports drinks are filled with garbage ingredients.  Consider drinking water, a great hydrating beverage.  Need electrolytes (and I mean really need them), then try coconut water, a perfectly balanced electrolyte beverage.

If you’re going to add more exercise to your routine, don’t forget to add in stretching.  And to do stretch properly as demonstrated in this video.

photo:  mconnors

On My Mind Monday 09.24.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Before we get into the collection of news for this week I wanted to let everyone know that the Cookie Naming Contest is still going on.  Naming suggestions have been collected for a week.  It was great fun seeing all of the responses coming in.  Entered in submission order they’re available in the online survey for you to vote for your favorite cookie name which will go in my book, The Pantry Principle.  The person who submitted the winning name will also receive a batch of this cookie personally baked by me.

Placebo or not acupuncture helps with pain – A lot of people turn to acupuncture for help with a variety of issues including pain.  Because it is considered an alternative medicine practice it is not always well accepted.  However in studies covering 18,000 people it appears to have a positive benefit.  California is looking at passing legislation that would make acupuncture a required-to-be-covered health benefit.  Stay tuned to see how this treatment option may become more accepted and more available.

The benefits of middle age fitness – Just as it is with dietary changes, when making changes to your physical activity level, it’s never too late.  Obviously the more you take care of your body, keep it active, feed it healthy choices, the better it will work for you.  But if you’ve stopped those things and want to start again…right now is the best time.  “Moving out of the least fit category [only requires] 20-30 minutes of walking on most days of the week.

Your Dental Hygienist Will Be Happy – It turns out that in addition to making them look good and helping us to have clean smelling breath, regular dental cleanings (or scalings) appear to help reduce the incidence of  strokes and other heart diseases.  Another study looked at regular brushing habits and found a positive correlation with reduced rates of dementia.  Looks like keeping those pearly whites in good shape is a significant part of your self-care health plan.

Non-vegan Bananas? – It doesn’t exist yet but there’s a possibility that it will.  Apparently a new coating has been developed which may extend the shelf life of fresh produce.  It’s made from chitosan which is a product from the shells of shrimp and crabs.  For those people who have life threatening allergies to shellfish this is highly problematic.  Not only will it remove their ability to eat anything coated with this product.  I have to wonder about the transfer factor.  If another shopper touches that product and then touches something else will there be a transfer of the coating onto the supposedly uncoated product?  Chances are high that the answer is yes.  Given that an allergy to shellfish is one of the most common allergies in the United States, this could potentially be quite problematic.

Fall is here and in many parts of the country that means apple picking season.  Here’s a fun video with a good looking recipe.  Most people think of farm to table as meaning meat products.  But it also applies to produce, herbs, and other foods.  Anything that you take straight from the producer to your home and your table.  I love the use of dates in the crust of the crumble.

Photo: mconnors

On My Mind Monday 09.10.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition and holistic living.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Meditation in the corporate world – According to this article more major corporations are recognizing the value of having employees take a break — to meditate.  Meditation is known to have a variety of health benefits including lowering blood pressure as well as allowing the mind to refocus.   While we don’t teach meditation techniques (and there are many) in the US, it may be something that becomes more and more common in response to this sort of corporate acceptance.

A new twist on urban gardening – in Chicago city lots are not just being used for urban farming.  Some are being converted to orchards where heirloom varieties will be grown.  The time investment to plant, nurture, and eventually harvest an orchard is significant.  The hope is that residents and even restaurants will be able to use and eat these heirloom fruits.  This will be an interesting project to watch, it could be a novel way for other cities to make use of public spaces.

Corn syrup in what? – This very cheap sugar finds it’s way into an amazing array of foods, even those that would not necessarily be thought of as sweet (such as pizza).  The only way to avoid it in your food is to read the label.  Another important thought to remember, corn is one of the most highly genetically modified crops in the US.  So any products with corn in them (unless marked organic or non-gmo) are quite possibly genetically modified.

National Yoga Month – is September.  And there are lot of different kinds to choose from.  Yoga is a great form of exercise for people who cannot do impact exercises all the way up to those looking for a vigorous workout.  It also offers a wide range of health benefits.

Calorie restriction may not extend life – starving mouse studies seemed to indicate that mice fed 30% less than “normal” lived as much as 40% longer.  There are a number of people who follow calorie restriction in the hopes that the results will be the same for people.  Recent studies appear to indicate that it doesn’t work for Rhesus monkeys.  However the monkeys did have a better quality of life with lower rates of diabetes and cancer.  I wonder what would happen if results were examined again to look at the quality of the food that the monkeys ate.

It’s back to school time.  Unfortunately for a lot of teens and older kids that may mean a temptation to reach for energy drinks to try to stay on top of their hectic schedules.  Unfortunately this is not a good choice.  Here’s a video from my friend Karen that talks about energy drinks and their effect on the adrenal glands.

photo:  mconnors

On My Mind Monday 7.30.12

news | photo: mconnors

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  It’s what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition and holistic health.  Read what’s on my mind.

Non-fermented probiotic milk and juice – As I’ve talked about before on this blog, fermented foods and probiotics are especially beneficial to our health.  This new functional food is not yet on the market so I can’t get a look at a label to give you information about it.  However it does appear that alginate, a seaweed, is being used for the thickener.  For some this will be a problem. In the meantime, if you are interested in adding healthy probiotics to your diet, it is easy to add fermented dairy such as yogurt and kefir as well as fermented beverages such as kombucha, kvass, and water kefir.

NY trans-fat ban has cut consumption – Mayor Bloomberg received a lot of flack for this initiative back in 2008.  Not necessarily, as I understand it, that much from consumers (who were still somewhat confused by the whole trans-fat issue) but from food producers.  They all claimed that it wouldn’t work, that the consumers would be unhappy because of the changes, and that it would be difficult to do.  Four years later it appears to be working.  Trans-fat consumption is down.  Although saturated fat consumption bumped up modestly, it was not nearly to the degree of reduction in trans-fats.  Although there are no specific numbers that I could find, given the link between trans-fats and cardiovascular disease, this reduction most likely also reduced cardiovascular disease levels.

Put the apples where the chips are – I have to admit that I give Mayor Bloomberg a lot of credit.  It’s difficult to get people to change the way they think about food.  His latest campaign is to try changing the eye-level and check-out locations of foods, replacing the unhealthy options like chips and candy with whole foods like apples and bananas.  It’s a voluntary pilot program being run in the Bronx, which apparently has an obesity rate of 70%.  While some people are against this proposal it does not seem to be drawing nearly the same ire as his soda ban.  I’m not sure that this will change the way people shop, but perhaps it will encourage them to reconsider the choices they are making.  I’m very sure that the grocery stores and the junk food manufacturers are not going to be happy with this as grocery placement is a science and this will potentially be a huge hit to their profitability.

And one more for Mayor Bloomberg who wants to put baby formula under lock and key at the hospital.  This is part of the Latch On Initiative which aims to convince more mothers to breast feed their babies.  I have written about breast feeding here and here; long time readers will know I am a big proponent of it.  Not only is breast feeding best for the health of your baby (they have reduced incidence of allergies and infections and increased support for gastrointestinal health) it’s also good for mom helping to reduce her lifetime risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers.  While some women are unable to breast feed I am happy to see that they are at least encouraging it and hopefully more will choose to do so.

GMO apples – I’ve written about this a few times, mostly on my Facebook page.  The purpose of this apple is to keep it from oxidizing (turning brown) when it’s cut open.  The company claims this will also prevent minor bruising from showing up.  As readers to this page will no doubt already have figured out, I am opposed to this.  First of all I do not believe we need to be producing any GM food.  Secondly I believe this is a really silly thing to GM as a squeeze of lemon juice accomplishes the same purpose without the need to interfere with the food.  The document showing where to write or call to share your opinion on this product is located here.

High Intensity Training for both weight loss and cardio – Many people don’t like going to the gym or the amount of time they think they have to spend there in order to lose weight and/or get in shape.  High Intensity Training can significantly reduce your cardio time.  And for those who don’t want to even go to the gym you can do it at home if you have an elipse machine, a treadmill, or even an X-iser. Here’s a video of how to use an X-iser at home.

Not reading anything this week as I continue to work on the campaign to publish my book.  Yes (happy dance), a book. It’s called The Pantry Principle:  learning the read the label and understand what’s in your food.   This book not only talks about different categories of additives, but also covers the concepts of making different choices at the grocery store that will allow you feed yourself and your family better.  There are even a number of tasty and delicious recipes included in the book.  Currently I’m pre-selling The Pantry Principle in order to raise the funds I need to hire a Copy Editor and a Layout Design Artist.  I want to get this book off the presses and into your hands.  If you are interested in knowing what you are eating, in making healthier choices for yourself and your family, please contribute to my campaign and help me publish the book.