Nutritious and Fit

Diet, Fitness, and a Healthy Attitude

The Gym Box- Group Fitness at Home

Instead of going to the gym, I prefer to run/walk outside and do yoga and strength training DVDs at home. It’s just more convenient and less boring than driving to the gym to run on a treadmill and aimlessly wander around the weight rooms. However, sometimes I need a change, and I would love access to group fitness classes like kickboxing, plus running in the winter isn’t always appealing since I’m not a fan of the bitter cold. While reading Shape Magazine, I came across a blurb about something called The Gym Box. It’s basically a cable box for your TV that lets you stream hundreds of different gym-inspired fitness classes for only $10 a month! That’s MUCH more economical than a gym membership, especially if the only thing you want out of it is access to classes. It’s also less repetitive than using the same DVDs all the time. I went to the website to check it out, and it seems really easy! If you want to watch on your computer, you don’t need to purchase the box, but if you want it for your TV, you have 2 box options. One is more expensive than the other, but both of them allow access to the classes for the monthly fee AND you can use them for Netflix, Pandora, MLB, and other channels. If you don’t want to spend money on the boxes, you can even hook your computer to your TV. I haven’t tried it out yet because I’m still paying for the rest of my basic (meaning no group classes) gym membership for the next couple months (which I hate and don’t use), but it seems like it might be a good investment. Go to the website to get started (www.thegymbox.com) and if you do, PLEASE tell me how you like it! 🙂

09/14/2011 Posted by | physical activity | , , , , | Leave a comment

Skim vs Whole Milk

Even with the nutrition facts label being right on the containers of milk, there seems to be a lot of confusion about which is healthier because of the differing opinions of  “experts” in the media, so I decided it was time to shine the light of truth on the subject.

Skim milk is the MOST nutrient dense of the milks, which means that there are more good-for-you nutrients per calorie (such as calcium and protein). In other words, by drinking skim milk instead of whole milk, you will be getting all of the good nutrients you need for much less calories and NO fat. On the nutrition labels to the right, you can see that both have 8g protein, but almost twice the calories in whole milk plus lots of unhealthy fat. This makes skim milk better for your heart AND your waistline. To also illustrate how bad whole milk is for you,  keep in mind that there is the same amount of saturated fat in 1 cup of whole milk as there is in 5 strips of bacon.

In addition, I recently heard that someone well-known in the media (not mentioning names for liability purposes) said that skim milk will make you fat vs whole milk because there is more sugar in skim milk. This is NOT TRUE. Notice on the labels above that there is the same amount of sugar in both types of milk (12g), so it’s a fact, not my opinion, that they have equal amounts of sugar. For that matter, I would also like to dispute the fact that this person also stated you should “stay away from fatty vegetables like corn and peas.” First of all, STARCH and FAT are two different nutrients that play two different roles in the body. These vegetables are considered starches because they are high in carbohydrates and should not be counted as your vegetables for the day, however they are not fatty. As long as you count them as carbohydrates in your daily intake and not your vegetables, they can definitely be included in your healthy lifestyle!

To eliminate further confusion about whole milk vs skim milk, I have listed the general guidelines for what type of milk is the most appropriate for each age group as stated in The Dietary Guidelines for Americans written by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA:

  • Infants 0-1 year =NO cow’s milk (will cause iron deficiency)
  • Toddlers 1-2 years= whole milk
  • Ages 2+ years= skim or 1% milk

09/08/2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Preventing Injury

Unfortunately, I recently hurt myself during a workout. I don’t even know what I did or exactly when, but I definitely pulled or strained a muscle. The pain starts near my shoulder blade and radiates up to my neck and around to my chest, and it feels paralyzing. You don’t realize how much you use a muscle until it hurts everytime you do! I feel that I may have over-stretched during yoga because my upper back and shoulder areas are normally tight which makes them more prone to injury, so this was definitely a red flag to pull back a little. You can also get the same injury by not stretching enough though, so it is really important to stretch properly.

How to Prevent Injury:

  • Never stretch a cold muscle: warm up before your workout using something called “dynamic stretching”. This means that you are moving your muscles to warm them up and mildly stretch them. For example, crossing your arms in front of you, back and forth repeatedly to stretch your shoulder and chest muscles. Another warm-up stretch you could do is called high kicks. You hold your arms out straight to the sides at shoulder-height and alternate kicking your feet straight out while bringing the opposite hand to meet it. This warms up your hamstrings, so it’s good to do before a run.
  • Always stretch after your workout, when your muscles are warm. These stretches are called “static stretches” because you’re stretching without movement. An example of this would be sitting in a straddle and leaning towards each leg, one at a time, for 30 seconds on each side. Don’t bounce when you do this, and pay attention to your body. When you start to feel the stretch, stop and hold. Click here for a website that has beginner stretches.
  • Make sure to balance out your muscles with strength training. For example, don’t work out your core and not your back. This leaves your back weaker and more prone to injury. Same thing goes for hamstrings (back of thigh) and quads (front of thigh).

What to do Post-Injury:

  • The two most important things are to 1) stop working out the muscle so you don’t further aggravate the injury, and 2) see your doctor. Your doctor will examine you to make sure it isn’t something more serious than a pull or strain, so it is very important that you go if your pain is anything more than a typical post-work out ache.
  •  I recommend taking Ibuprofin/Advil/Motrin while you are waiting to see your doctor because they are anti-inflammatories and will help to calm down the muscle. If your doctor gives you something else, make sure to talk to them about continuing use of the over-the-counter meds. Likewise, if you feel for any reason that you shouldn’t be taking the anti-inflammatories (such as allergies or other medical conditions), don’t! Also be sure to follow the directions on the bottle, and to read the warnings.
  • While you don’t want to continue working out the muscle, you also don’t want to stop all workouts unless you have to so that you can prevent weight gain while you’re healing, and so that it’s easier to get back to your old workouts once you are healed. You actually can get around an injury in many cases. Shoulder injuries like mine are the most difficult to get around, so I’m pretty much just going for walks.  For other upper body injuries, continue to do cardio by walking or biking (maybe jogging depending on the injury), and you can continue to do lower-body workouts such as squats and lunges. For lower body injuries, you can continue your upper body work outs. Cardio may be tricky with these injuries, but you can use a hand-bike if you have access to one. In some cases, you may still be able to walk or swim. However, before doing any exercises while injured, consult your doctor.
  • For further pain-alleviation, try icy-hot or a heating pad.

09/03/2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment