Clean Eating For The Win

Clean Eating For The Win

If you hate dieting, why do it? Dieting leaves you feeling deprived and hungry. Why not try clean eating instead. What is clean eating? It’s ridding your diet of highly processed foods and foods with a lot of chemical ingredients and preservatives. You’ll eat food that’s closest to its natural state. What you get is food that has more to offer than just empty calories.

You can start by eliminating food with added sugar.

Most people find that giving up food with added sugar is the hardest task to tackle. It seems to be in everything. No matter how natural the sugar is, whether it’s cane sugar, fructose, maple syrup or honey, it’s simply not healthy. In fact, more and more studies are pointing to too much sugar in the diet as a cause of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. It’s known to be a factor in the development of diabetes, cancer, accelerated aging and many other health issues.

Think organic when it comes to most fruits and vegetables.

Two lists that you should keep on hand when shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables that can save you money are the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen.” The EWG tested fruits and vegetables across the nation to create the list. The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and veggies that still have lingering pesticides no matter how much you wash them, such as strawberries and the Clean 15 were those that had little or no chemical contamination, like avocados. Buy organic, unless you’re using a fruit or vegetable from the Clean 15 list.

Skip highly processed foods, particularly processed meats and those with processed flour.

Choose whole grain products to maximize the benefits. White bread made from processed bleached flour has had all the nutrients removed, leaving nothing but empty calories. Whole grains still contain those nutrients. One study showed that eating a hot dog, which is highly processed meat, could take 36 minutes off your life. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you take in other factors, that also shorten your life, they all add up to years.

  • Choosing healthier fats and oils is also part of clean eating, so is using the right type of oil based on temperature. Olive oil is very healthy, but has a low smoke point and isn’t healthy at high heat. Choose butter from grass fed cow milk, rather than margarine or regular butter.
  • Clean eating doesn’t mean you have to eat only fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen veggies and fruit are just as healthy as long as there are no additives. The same is true for canned goods.
  • Consider bread made with sprouted seeds, made from sourdough or one that’s 100% whole wheat, oat, sprouted rye or flax.
  • A big part of your diet is what you drink. Avoid soft drinks and sugary drinks like the plague. Choose water or healthy options like tea. If you don’t like water, try infused water, where you increase flavor by adding fruits, vegetables and herbs.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Atlanta

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

If you’ve ever taken a fall, had a cut that turned red or swollen or had a fever, you’ve experienced inflammation. It’s part of the body’s healing process and fights foreign invaders that can make you sick. While inflammation is a good thing, you can get too much of a good thing. Sometimes, the immune system responds when it shouldn’t. It may start out right, going in and doing its thing, with inflammation as its tool, then continuing for a long period. That’s the cause of chronic inflammation. Choosing anti-inflammatory foods can help.

What foods trigger chronic inflammation.

There are foods that can help relieve chronic inflammation, but some that actually trigger it. That’s why choosing the right food can make all the difference. You’ll probably recognize most of the food that causes inflammation of the body as food that’s also considered unhealthy in other ways. Soft drinks, fried food, refined carbs like donuts and white bread and too much red meat.

Several diseases benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet.

Choosing a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, such as deep green spinach and kale or broccoli and cabbage, can help reduce inflammation, just as red cherries, raspberries and blue or purple fruits and vegetables, like blueberries and deep purple grapes. Anthocyanin, a phytonutrient in blueberries that make the berry blue also is a powerful antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. Beans, nuts, whole grains and fish, particularly fatty fish, are inflammation fighters. You probably noticed by now these are all parts of a healthy diet.

Whether you’re trying to ease the pain of arthritis or just protect your health, here are guidelines.

Make sure you have a minimum of 25 grams of fiber in your diet by eating brown rice, whole grains and vegetables. They have phytonutrients that fight inflammation. Including garlic, onions and other alliums, like leeks in your diet four times a week can also help. Including four servings of crucifers, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or broccoli each week reduces inflammation. Salmon, walnuts and flaxseed contain omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation. So can unsaturated fats from nuts and seeds. Besides turmeric, chili peppers, cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, ginger, sage and thyme also have anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Health issues that are caused by inflammation range from arthritis to Alzheimer’s. Depression can occur from chronic inflammation, so can cancer and heart disease, just to name a few.
  • Making other changes in your life can also make a difference. Stress can induce chronic inflammation and exercise can burn off the hormones of stress. Lack of sleep can also be a reason for chronic inflammation.
  • Adding spice to your life can also bring anti-inflammatory properties. The curcumin in turmeric fights inflammation. In fact, it’s one reason they’re testing it to help Alzheimer’s. Garlic is another anti-inflammatory herb.
  • Avoid all products with added sugar or those with refined flour. You should also limit the amount of saturated fat you eat and cut out trans fats entirely, since it’s a big cause of inflammation.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Atlanta

Eat More Foods Without A Label

Eat More Foods Without A Label

If you ask a nutritionist in Brookhaven, GA, what the best type of food to eat was, he or she would say foods without a label. What does that mean? It simply means you opt for whole foods. Foods that have been processed less. Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t come with an ingredient label, since they are natural. Lean meat, poultry and fish are also examples of whole foods.

What do whole foods provide that processed ones don’t?

The more a food is processed and the more added ingredients to add shelf life, taste or color, the fewer nutrients that food contains and the more chemicals it has. While some of those chemicals are innocuous and don’t harm the body, some may. We don’t always know what’s healthy until later. Think Crisco and cigarettes. The original Crisco was praised as being a healthier option to butter or lard and it was soon added to many foods. What wasn’t known was the partially hydrogenated trans fats, were incredibly unhealthy. Cigarettes were touted as healthy and even television doctors recommended them. You don’t have that problem with whole foods, particularly organic ones.

Whole foods are rich in nutrients.

Many of the nutrients in processed foods have been removed. Some were removed due to the processing, which can destroy nutrients like vitamin C. Some were removed for marketing. Consider low fat yogurt. The fat has been removed, but the fat actually makes you feel fuller and adds flavor to the yogurt. To make the yogurt more palatable, manufacturers add sugar, which is far worse for you than yogurt’s healthy fat. Refined grain has all the nutrients removed, so even though it has a label, choosing whole grains is important.

Whole foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, have nutritional synergy.

What is nutritional synergy? It’s one nutrient boosting the effect of another nutrient. A good example of this is blueberries. Scientists were studying the potential of the antioxidant, anthocyanin, to fight cancer. Earlier studies had indicated this flavonoid that gives color to the blueberry could help fight it. They removed it and tried it without the results they hoped to achieve. Why? It seems the anthocyanin works in synergy with the other nutrients in the berry to provide the cancer fighting effects.

  • Many processed foods are high in sugar. The sugar may come in a variety of names. High fructose corn syrup is one of those. HFCS is in a wide variety of products from candy to cough syrup and has proven to be more hazardous to the health than regular table sugar.
  • Some processing isn’t bad and some food with labels isn’t either. For instance, frozen fruit and vegetables that contain only the vegetables or fruit are as healthy, if not healthier than fresh ones. They’re picked at their ripest and immediately frozen to bring more nutrients to your table.
  • Fresh produce can be cheaper in season than processed foods. Frozen foods and some canned foods also provide more nutrients if they don’t contain additives.
  • When selecting fruits and vegetables for your meal, make your plate look like a rainbow. The more colorful the collection of fruits and vegetables, the more likely you’ll get a wide variety of healthy nutrients.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Atlanta

Can I Target Fat In Specific Areas?

Can I Target Fat In Specific Areas?

It’s impossible to target fat in specific areas, no matter how many exercises you do. If it were possible, some plastic surgery procedures wouldn’t be popular. When you lose fat, you lose it all over your body. The idea of spot reducing has been around for years, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. While exercising a specific area can make it seem like you’ve lost fat, you simply toned it. The area where you store fat is dictated by hormones, insulin sensitivity, genetics and gender. Exercise does burn calories, but they come from all over the body, not just one area.

Your body recognizes it needs energy and starts the process to get it.

During exercise, your body needs fuel. If you’re doing squats, the muscles you’re working need energy. The body doesn’t take that energy from just your legs. That need for energy triggers messages to the brain, via hormones and enzymes, which tells the whole body to provide that energy. It causes you to lose fat all over the body, not just in that particular spot. In some cases, it also causes the body to burn lean muscle mass for that energy, as well.

You can do toning in specific areas with exercise.

Changing the appearance of the body comes from toning the muscles. If you’re doing abdominal exercises to tone the area, you’ll have a more toned stomach, which means it will be flatter, but may still have a layer of fat covering it. Toning your body can definitely change how it looks, but doesn’t change the body’s fat locations.

To see results, you have to lose weight over your entire body.

While toning the muscles makes a huge difference, you need to combine it with weight loss. Most people want a flatter abdomen and smaller waistline. You can work for hours on your abs, but if you’re carrying excess fat, that work won’t show. To get the effect you want you have to lose weight all over your body or all that hard work will never show because it’s covered with a layer of fat.

  • Spot reducing, rather than a total body workout, can actually have negative results. If you only focus on one area of your body, it can lead to muscle group imbalances. Include them in your routine, but don’t exclude other exercises.
  • The vast majority of scientific studies show that you can’t target fat in certain areas. The way the body gets energy when it needs it also contradicts it.
  • Some studies show that what you eat may dictate where you increase body fat. For instance, one study showed that people who drank diet soft drinks had bigger midsections. Simple carbs, trans fats and artificial sweeteners can put on weight around your midsection.
  • You need both a healthy diet and regular exercise to lose weight on all areas of your body. A healthy diet helps you reduce caloric intake and exercise increases the demand.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Atlanta

Oatmeal For Breakfast?

Oatmeal For Breakfast?

At Thrive Fitness Atlanta in Brookhaven, GA, we offer more than just help with your exercise program. We provide nutritional plans that are well balanced and delicious. Some foods in that plan are so simple, it may surprise you. One of the healthiest is oatmeal. It has so many benefits, including keeping you full for hours, so you’re less likely to eat sugary treats and highly processed snacks. When you eat oatmeal, keep it as close to its natural form as possible and avoid the highly processed instant oatmeal.

The fiber in oats helps lower your blood pressure and stabilizes blood sugar.

The fiber in oats creates a thick gel that slows the absorption of glucose in your intestines. That means there’s no glucose rush into your blood stream and better control of blood sugar levels. The soluble fiber also lowers LDL—bad—cholesterol levels. It’s believed that the cholesterol sticks to the fiber in the intestines and doesn’t allow it to be absorbed. Instead of clogging your arteries, it leaves your body when you go to the bathroom.

Oatmeal is high in antioxidants.

Some of those antioxidants prevent the LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. Since oxidation of LDL causes inflammation and tissue damage, oatmeal prevents that and by doing so, lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. Not only does it contain beta-glucan fiber, it also contains manganese, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, folate, B1, B5, some B3 and B6. It has more protein and fat than many other grains.

If you don’t have time to make oatmeal every morning, try overnight oats.

Go for oat groats. Those are whole oats before a lot of processing. If you’re on a time constraint, overnight oats are delicious. Just mix equal parts oats and milk, almond or other milk alternative and store it overnight in the refrigerator. When you’re ready for breakfast, just heat and eat. You can add nuts, chia seed or fruit to suit your taste.

Only oats contain avenanthramides. They help the body increase nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure and improves the mitochondria, the energy producers for cells.

When babies are fed solid foods too early, it can increase the risk of developing asthma. That’s not true for oats, which may actually protect babies from it. One study showed children getting oatmeal before six months old had a decrease risk of asthma.

You can eat oatmeal as a breakfast or combine it with peanut butter and honey as a quick snack. Mix organic peanut butter with just peanuts as the ingredients, with a little honey. Then add enough dry oatmeal until you can form a ball. Roll in excess oatmeal. They will firm up the longer they sit.

Top your oatmeal with Greek yogurt to pack on the protein. Sweeten it with berries, ripe bananas or dried fruit. Add nuts for more protein and nutrients.

Be A Healthier Version Of You

Be A Healthier Version Of You

Do you spend any time trying to be healthier or are you like most people that wait until something breaks? Many people actually take better care of their vehicles than they do their health. Maybe it’s time you took a good look at your health care regimen and not wait until something goes wrong. Your body needs exercise and healthy foods, just like your car needs regular oil changes and the right fuel. It’s time to start being the best version of yourself and that starts with a plan.

Decide what’s really important to you.

Not everyone wants to lose weight. Some people want more energy, while others want to tone and strengthen their bodies. Decide what you want, how you want to feel and look. Being the best version of yourself takes effort and the only thing that will sustain that effort is desire. That’s why it’s important that you decide what your goal should be. It’s very personal, since you’re a unique individual.

You’re important. Treat yourself that way.

Would you put sugar or water in your car’s gas tank? You should at least treat yourself as well as you’d treat your car. Your car won’t run properly if it runs at all if you put the wrong fuel in it. That’s how your body works, too. One difference is that your body repairs itself, so when you embark on a healthier lifestyle, you’ll start noticing the difference quickly. Eating healthier is one key to being the best you that you can be. Many of today’s illnesses can be avoided with a healthy diet.

You need a program of fitness to keep all parts working at peak performance.

The process of aging is more akin to a vehicle rusting out, than wearing out. If you don’t use your muscles, you lose them. If you don’t push yourself to keep moving, your energy level remains low. You deserve to feel good, energetic and ready for anything. Exercising regularly can help you do that. It keeps joints lubricated, prevents the wasting of muscles and the loss of bone. It helps boost the immune system and helps prevent injuries from falls and muscle sprains and tears.

  • Being the best you can also entail staying hydrated. It boosts your energy. Many people fail to recognize mild dehydration that steals away energy. Carry water with you at all times and sip on it throughout the day.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Your body heals itself and organizes the memories of the day as you sleep. Adequate sleep is heart healthy. Lack of sleep can alter the balance of your hunger hormones and cause you to overeat.
  • If you smoke or abuse alcohol or drugs, it’s time to make a change. These three significantly alter your potential for a longer, happier life. It’s easier to make those changes when you’re eating healthy and exercising regularly.
  • We can help you be the best you that you can possibly be by providing guidance and encouragement. Once you reach your goal, you’ll find you’ll want to reset it to improve even more.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Atlanta

The Key Is Balance

The Key Is Balance

Everything you do affects all areas of your life. Your social activities can affect your work and your health. If you’re not healthy, the social you won’t be sociable and the work side won’t do their best at work. It might seem hard to ensure you focus on all aspects. The key is balance and making sure you spend time ensuring every aspect of life receives attention. If one part of your life increases stress, all parts suffer.

Eliminate stress and create a stronger body with exercise.

Exercise burns off the hormones of stress and replaces them with ones that make you feel good. It helps improve posture, so your body functions at its best, as it gives you a look of confidence. Lack of exercise can cut years off your life and negatively affect the years you do have. It prepares the body for stressful situations and physically challenging ones. When you workout, it also improves brain functioning and keeps you younger longer.

Learn to find peace of mind.

Exercising can help burn the hormones created by stress, but sometimes you aren’t in a place where you can exercise and need relief. Doing deep knee bends in the middle of an important meeting isn’t necessarily appropriate and nearly impossible in a traffic jam. Finding ways to rest your brain with breathing techniques can help clear your mind, improve breathing rate, lower blood pressure and help tension disappear.

Learn to appreciate the taste of whole foods.

An important part of being healthy, both mentally and physically, is diet. Diet can affect your mental processes. Too little omega-3 and too much omega-6 in the diet can cause you to be more angry and aggressive. The bacteria in your gut affect your mental abilities and mood. If they don’t get the proper food via your diet, it affects your brain chemistry negatively. Take time to savor every bite. Not only will that make meals more pleasant, you’ll eat less.

  • Nourish your brain with knowledge and learning something new every day. Just like food, what you feed your brain makes a difference. Make sure it nourishes and enriches your life.
  • You need a social life that’s rich and enjoyable. Spend time with people who enjoy the things you do and who are supportive. Studies show that the more social you are, the longer you’ll live.
  • Learn to keep your work worries at work and your home problems at home. If you’re constantly working overtime, you might be able to change that. When you workout, you become more efficient.
  • Get adequate sleep at night. You need to strengthen your circadian rhythms for gut health, immune health, heart health and mental health. Have a sleep schedule and get 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Make sure you get exposure to natural light every day.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Atlanta

How To Prioritize Sleep And Recovery

How To Prioritize Sleep And Recovery

If you’re working out hard, but not seeing the progress you want and even losing the battle in the gym, you may not be giving your body a chance to recover. You have to prioritize sleep and recovery. Working out at top intensity every day of the week is one way you’ll sabotage your efforts. Every time you workout, especially if you’re doing strength training, you’re making small tears in the muscles and those need time to heal. If you don’t take a day or two off between strength training sessions, it could even set you back a few paces.

It’s not always that easy to get the sleep you need.

The average person needs between seven and nine hours of sleep each night with a few people requiring as much as ten hours. Pressures at work to finish projects on time, family obligations and even insomnia can cause you to get less time than you require. Sometimes, your brain keeps working at top speed, reviewing all the problems of the day and solving those you’ll face the next and you can’t sleep. Make sure your room is dark. A quiet environment is important, but you can have background sounds, like a bubbling brook or calming music.

Put sleep on your schedule with a scheduled bedtime and time to get up.

You normally set your alarm to tell you it’s time to get up and get ready for work. Why not do the same for bedtime. Having a scheduled bedtime helps the body and brain to create a pattern and makes it easier to fall asleep. While it’s easy to look forward to sleeping in on the weekend and spending the night on the town, when you’re first establishing your schedule especially, stick with the same weekly schedule on the weekend.

If your mind is still darting back and forth, train it not to do that.

Learn breathing techniques to relax, adopt a mantra or phrase to repeat or create a mental image that can replace those images you see in the back of your eyelids. If you choose a breathing technique, you’ll get a double benefit. It can be used to help calm you down when you’re under stress and can even help you control your blood pressure. If you choose a mantra, phrase or mental image, why not make it a positive one. Focus on success and the achievement of your goals.

  • Learning to take power naps throughout the day can be beneficial and help if you have a sleep deprived night. It’s said that Albert Einstein napped during the day, yet regularly got ten hours of sleep each night.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable and your bedroom is cooler. Being too warm affects your REM sleep, an important part and first stage of the sleep pattern. Keep your bedroom between 60 degrees and 68 degrees.
  • Too little sleep can sabotage your weight loss efforts. It’s important to help balance hormones. Too little sleep increases ghrelin—the hunger hormone—and reduces leptin—the one that makes you feel full.
  • Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones that have been linked with inflammation. Inflammation is a root cause of many serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Performance

Best Way To Meal Prep On A Budget

Best Way To Meal Prep On A Budget

Clients at Thrive Fitness Performance in Brookhaven, GA often ask about meal planning. I tell them that it’s a great way to ensure you stick with a healthy diet. The idea is to plan your meals one day a week, shop one day a week and cook all the meals for the week on the weekend, or when you have a day off of work or when you’re home. You can store the meals for the week and then it only takes a minute to warm and serve. It’s as fast as waiting in line at a drive-through, just as easy as a prepared freeze meal and you’ll know all the ingredients used.

Plan your meals one night a week.

It’s best to plan the meals by checking online to find what’s on sales at the grocery. Use meats and vegetables in a variety of ways. If you need chicken breasts, but find buying the whole chicken is cheaper, plan a meal using the rest of the chicken. Don’t throw out the broth, it makes a great soup. Plan for leftovers. Grilled veggies are great on salads and in Buddha bowls. Double or triple a recipe you can freeze and store it in meal size portions in the freezer to save time and money another week.

Save money with in-season fruits and vegetables.

If you want fresh and cheap, look for sales and low prices on in-season fruits and vegetables. There may be roadside stands you pass on the road to work that might also provide low cost options. Buying local is one way to ensure you’ll get fresher food. There’s not only lower costs for transportation, but also lower time from field to store. You can also include frozen fruits and vegetables, which go immediately from field to processing plant.

Have a meatless Monday or two.

Choosing a cheaper form of protein can be great for your budget and quite healthy, too. Good sources of less expensive protein include beans, eggs and nuts. Sprinkle nuts or add beans or nuts to salads to boost the protein or make a quinoa salad. A meal of rice and beans is nutritious and yet very inexpensive.

  • Save money by choosing the vegetables on the Clean 15 list from the traditionally grown and go organic if the fruit or vegetable is on the Dirty Dozen list. The Clean 15 list has fruits and vegetables that show little or no pesticides when tested.
  • Always check expiration dates when you buy and check them in the cupboard, frig and freezer. Before you plan meals, check freezer, frig and cupboards for foods you need to use quickly.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in bulk when they’re in-season and freeze them. If you want a cheap, low cal alternative to ice cream, buy inexpensive ripe bananas, then peel, slice and freeze them. When you’re ready for ice cream, put them in a blender until smooth and creamy.
  • Don’t snub canned foods. Check the labels to see what the ingredients are. Tuna should be water packed and fresh fruit should not contain added sugar. You can even use green beans that have added sodium if you drain the liquid and rinse them first.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Performance

What Exercises Help Relieve Back Pain?

What Exercises Help Relieve Back Pain?

The easy chair, bed or even laying on the floor looks more appealing than doing exercises if your back hurts. But that’s just what you need to do to relieve back pain. That doesn’t mean you go to the gym and try to do your normal routine, but learn some exercises that can help stretch and relax sore muscles. For most pain, getting mild exercise helps boost circulation, which can also help. If you have back issues, in many cases, it’s due to lack of core strength. Not all exercises are good for back pain. Some, like abdominal crunches, can actually exacerbate the pain.

Choose exercises that address the area of pain and help relieve it.

Mid and lower back pain often responds to stretches. Lay on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grasp one leg with both hands and gentle bend it, pulling it toward your chest. Leaving your knees bent, outstretch your arms to your sides and twist to drop your knees to one side, then raise them and lower them to the other side. Keep your arms outstretched and upper body flat on the floor as best you can. Then do the other. It can help relax the muscle. Wall squats are another way to help the back and improve your posture.

Is your pain in your upper back?

Shoulder, neck and upper back pain can occur for a number of reasons. You can help relieve it by doing a scapular squeeze. Sit with your back straight, elbows at your sides. Stretch, as though you were attempting to touch your elbows together behind your back. Hold that stretch for five to ten seconds. If you’re at your desk, you can twist and stretch. Leave your feet flat on the floor and twist your upper torso.

Back pain exercises may also build core strength.

A bridge is a good exercise to help relieve back pain, but it’s also good for core strength. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your bottom off the floor until your back is straight and at a 45 degree to the floor. Hold and squeeze your buttocks and then slowly lower your body, one vertebra at a time. Doing the cat yoga movement and lowering your body into the cow yoga movement can also help your back.

  • One of the easiest ways to identify which type of stretch to use is to move until you feel the pain. Relax and move the same way again, eventually stretching even further. It can help loosen tighter muscles and acts a bit like a massage.
  • If you’re overweight, you’re more prone to back pain, since it takes more effort to maintain posture. You’re also more prone to joint pain. Start core exercises and focus on weight loss.
  • Be smart throughout the day. Sometimes, injuries occur that can be debilitating. If you’ve ever lifted wrong and felt the body’s revenge, you understand. Always make sure you lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Simple stretches that can help the back include rolling the shoulders, arching the back and twisting side to side. If the pain is horrible, stop. Don’t push it past the point of pain. If pain persists, is accompanied by a fever or extremely debilitating, see your health care professional.

For more information, contact us today at Thrive Fitness Atlanta