Healthy snacking

“Snacking” is healthy. It allows us to avoid overeating (i.e., not starve between meals), allows us to have a small portion to curb our cravings… there are many good things about snacking. However, snacking gets a bad wrap. Most snack foods are easily accessible and not necessarily healthy. We also have to acknowledge the fact that we are snacking, not eating a meal. The portion size should be small enough to not ruin your next meal and not overtake your calorie count for the day. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks so that you can enjoy your snacking instead of feeling guilty. Use it as a jumping off point and get creatively healthy with your snacks !
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Fruits
Apples
Pears
Melon
Grapefruit
Orange
Bananas
Nuts
Pistachios
Almonds
Cashews
Trailmix
Nut butters
Preserved meats (highly processed meats aren’t healthy, but small quantities can be useful for curbing your appetite)
Smoked salmon
Jerky
Sardines
Vegetables
Kale chips
Carrots
Avocado
Celery
Bell pepper
Zucchini
Beans/other protein
Hummus
Edamame
Lentils
Boiled eggs
Beverages
Water
Tea (especially green tea)
Sweet tooth
Dark chocolate
Dried fruit
Mint/herbal tea
Fruits
Organic fruit and nut bars (i.e., Larabar brand)

Happy snacking!
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Love in Fitness – Stephanie
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Dorm Room Workouts

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College life opens new and exciting opportunities for young adults. Leaving the comforts of home for the first time to live with a total stranger in a room the size of a closet; making your own choices about where to go, when to return, what time to go to bed and who to spend time with; assuming more financial responsibility for books, groceries, and entertainment; oh, and there’s that learning thing too. 
 
Most colleges and universities require incoming freshman to live in the dorms, which means a couple things when it comes to your health:
  1. You have little choice when it comes to your food since you’re using ameal plan and usually don’t have access to a full kitchen.
  2. Your space is limited, which also limits your overall activity (three steps to your desk, one step to the fridge and a few steps to the hall bathroom).
  3. What you are able to do in your room, whether staying up to study or waking up early to workout, is somewhat dependent on your roommate’s feelings and schedule.
This combination of limited food choices, small space, and late nights can lead to the notorious “Freshman 15”. According to recent research, the odds are against you after move-in day:
  • Cornell University researchers found that college freshman gain half a pound per week on average. That’s about 11 times more weight than the average 17-and 18-year old will gain, and nearly 20 times more than the average weight gain among adults.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) found that both male and female college students eat approximately 500 additional calories between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. 
  • Research from Washington University in St. Louis confirms that most college students do gain weight. This research team reported in theJournal of American College Health that about 70% of students gained “a significant amount of weight” between the start of college and the end of their sophomore year.
But the dreaded college weight gain is NOT inevitable. Sure, some young adults are still growing in height, bone structure, and weight. But taking a preventive approach (rather than trying to crash diet or over-exercise when it’s too late) is your best bet. Making healthier food choices, getting plenty of sleep, and increasing your daily activity (walking instead of taking the shuttle) will help. But one of the most important things you can do is exercise for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week. Your exercise plan should include three main components:
  1. Cardio (aerobic) exercise burns calories, trains your body to use more fat as fuel, strengthens your heart and lungs and helps relieve stress. Aim for 30-60 minutes, 3-6 days per week.
  2. Strength training helps you maintain and build lean muscle. If you aren’t strength training regularly, you’ll lose muscle (about half a pound per year) and your metabolism will slow down along with it. Fit in a full bodyworkout (about 8-12 exercises) twice per week.
  3. Stretching, or flexibility training, can help you improve your fitness level in other areas as well as reduce your risk for injury and joint problems later. Stretch after every workout and when you need a relaxing break.
You college recreation center will likely have all the options you need to stay healthy and fit: cardio machines, fitness classes, personal trainers, weights, a pool, an indoor track and more. But on those busy days (or late nights) the gym might not be an option. Here’s what you CAN do with little or no money right from the comfort and convenience of your own (little) room.
 
Cardio Options
  • (FREE!) Even though you might feel corny by yourself, you can “design” your own workout for your small place. Try a combination of any of the following low-impact moves, always trying to get both your arms and legs involved:
    • Marching in place
    • Stepping up and down the stairs or running the stairs in your building
    • Side steps (step touch)
    • Jogging in place or high knee running in place
    • Grapevines sideways, forward and back
    • Jumping jacks
    • Kickboxing moves (front kicks, squats, side kicks, punches)
    • Turn on your favorite music and just dance!
  • ($) If space and ceilings allow, jumping rope ($6) can torch big calories. If you don’t have room for a rope, mimic it with your hands and wrists. Jump in place, skip, hop on one foot, etc. to get your heart pumping.
  • ($$) Workout videos or DVDs ($10+) offer a lot of variety for a very low investment. Some workouts can be done in a small space, such as low impact aerobics, kickboxing, cardio Pilates, belly dancing, and more. If you need more room, grab a couple of friends and take your video to the lounge area of the dorm.
Strength Training Options
  • (FREE!) You can use your body weight for resistance to work several major muscle groups. Try these exercises that link to illustrated demonstrations (you’ll find even more body weight exercises in the Fitness Resource Center):
    • Triceps: Dips on Chair or Lying Triceps Lifts
    • Biceps: Isometric Bicep Hold with Towel or Triangle Wall Pushup
    • Shoulders: Isometric Shoulder Hold with Towel or Reverse Plank
    • Chest: Modified Pushups or Wall Pushups
    • Abs: Plank or Chair Knee Lifts
    • Lower Back: Back Extensions or Swimming
    • Obliques: Crunches with Twist or Side Plank
    • Hips: Hip Flexor or Hip Flexor/Extension
    • Thighs: Body Weight Squats or Forward Lunges
  • ($) Resistance bands ($15) offer greater resistance than your body weight alone, plus they’re small, easy to store and have endless possibilities. Learn more by reading No Need to Stretch the Truth about Resistance Bands.
  • ($$) For just a few more dollars, a good set of dumbbells ($20) and even a stability ball ($25) can round out your workout plan, giving you even more strength training options. Put your chair into storage and sit on your ball instead and you’ll strengthen more than your mind while you study, plus it doubles as exercise equipment when you need it.
Flexibility Options
  • (FREE!) Use what you have. Most stretches can be done while sitting or standing, so you don’t need any special equipment. SparkPeople’sStretching Guide will help you get started, whether you want to take breaks at your desk, or use more space and time for a full body routine. Consider using your dorm furniture to help increase your stretching capacity: prop up foot up onto your chair, desk, or bed to stretch the hamstrings more deeply; use the walls for stretching your arms, chest, and calves.
  • ($) Invest in a yoga workout video. This form of exercise not only stretches and strengthens, but it also helps relieve stress and calm that busy mind, preparing you for a more restful sleep or energized day.
  • ($$) Consider buying a yoga mat ($20) or padded exercise mat ($25+). Both can be rolled up or folded away easily, and they will make stretching (and other floor exercises) much more comfortable.
Dorm life doesn’t have to be a doom. For little or no money, the single room that multitasks as a bedroom, study, kitchen and lounge can also become your own personal gym. Leave college weight gain at the door. In just a few minutes a day, you’ll see a toned, healthy, and relaxed body and mind. What better way to experience college life?www.facebook.com/maguirefirefitness
 

Can exercise make you smarter?

 
There are a large number of benefits to exercise, but one lesser known benefit is the positive effect on our brain.  Did you know exercise can:
  • Reduce stress,
  • Reduce or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease,
  • Help protect brain nerve cells.
Reduce stress: Exercising is a natural anti-depressant.
  • “It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.” (Mayo Clinic, Stress Management)
Reduce or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease: ”Through the past several years, population studies have suggested that exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. Physical activity appears to inhibit Alzheimer’s-like brain changes in mice, slowing the development of a key feature of the disease.” (Mayo Clinic, Preventing Alzheimer’s)
 
Help protect brain nerve cells: While exercising, we are improving the heart’s ability to pump blood more effectively, as well as increasing the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. Obviously this includes the blood flow to and from your brain as well.  Immediately after strenuous activity, such as exercise, the body contains significantly higher levels of a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which is known to promote the health of nerve cells. (The New York Times, How Exercise Benefits the Brain) This includes nerve cells in your brain. So go ahead and promote the health of your nerve cells! (Translation: Go exercise!)
Exercising is not simply for your physique, it’s for your health.  It is needed by every part of your body, especially your mind. Whether you use it to de-stress or to keep your mind sharp, exercise is important. So get out there and MOVE IT, MOVE IT!!
 
 

Fitness Apparel, why it is so important.

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Who is overwhelmed by all the different types fitness apparel? Even just looking at sneakers, you have running shoes vs. cross-trainers vs. Vibram 5 finger shoes (the thin shoes with toes). Should you buy the really expensive stuff, is it worth the money?  Or can you save that money, say for a personal trainer!!Here are my suggestions for the importance of each type of fitness apparel:
#1 is shoes, period. Makes sure you have shoes that properly fit your foot.  First of all, that means that your shoes should be the right size. But they should also not rub anywhere such as your ankle, your big toe, your pinky toe, etc.  They should also fit your arch, whether you have a high, low or medium arch. This is where you can ask for help from the shoe salesperson.  If they don’t know how to answer your questions, go somewhere else.  If you’d like to do a complete analysis of what shoe is best for you (called a gait analysis), look for a store like Road Runner Sports in your area. When trying on shoes, at least walk around in them, move side to side, maybe jog in place. Also, you should replace your shoes every 6 months to a year, depending on how frequently you use them. You can look at the bottom of your shoes, if you cannot see the design of the tread in any place on the shoe, replace them immediately!
#2 is exercise pants. Whether you like cropped or full-length, waistband or draw-string, pockets or no pockets, exercise pants are important to look and feel comfortable.  Nobody wants to spend half the time of their workout adjusting their pants, and we’ve all done it. Find pants that are comfortable for all your activities, from yoga to running, or rock climbing to zumba. Your pants should be made of breathable fabric that wicks away sweat and does NOT chafe. Some of my favorites brands are Lululemon, Nike and Champion.
#3 is sports bras. Sorry guys, you can skip reading this one. Sports bras should be supportive.  They should not be too tight or too loose. They should not chafe your underarm.  And they should definitely not be kept long enough to have holes in them! Every brand will fit differently and each brand may have a different size that fits you properly.  Always try on sports bras before buying them.  Many athletic apparel stores will help you find a size and style that is right for you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. This tip also applies to fitted tank tops, especially the ones that include sports bras.
Everything else, including shorts, shirts, jackets, socks, etc, are areas where you can save.  Less is more for these items.  They should still fit properly and I would suggest trying on this apparel whenever possible. However, you don’t need to always go designer for these items. If you’ve bought these items before and know your size, you could also order them online.
Another fun tip for fitness apparel… If you need motivation to workout, buy yourself a new exercise outfit or even just a new shirt. It’s always fun to wear new clothes, including during work outs!
As always, contact me with questions. Happy shopping!