Fitness & Nutrition Blog

Probiotics Part 1 - Benefits

How Gut Bacteria Improves Immune Health

One of the most well-known non-digestive benefits of good gut bacteria is a stronger immune system. This happens in a number of ways, but generally is the result of our microflora’s ability to prevent pathogenic organisms from taking hold in our bodies.
As a natural byproduct of their own metabolism, the microbes living with us produce substances that our bodies use to fortify our defenses against bacteria, yeast, and other invasive organisms. Research has shown, for example, that the bacteria lining your intestines reinforce the barrier that prevents pathogens from seeping out of your GI tract and into the body. This is particularly important in your large intestine, where fecal matter accumulates before being excreted. Without a strong barrier in place, toxins from your feces can be reabsorbed, placing an additional burden on your immune system. (This is often referred to as leaky gut syndrome.)

This protective mechanism depends on a fatty acid known as butyrate (or butyric acid), which is produced by the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species of gut bacteria. One of butyrate’s main functions is to promote the growth of the mucus membranes that line the intestines and to increase their production of “mucking.” Mucking is a component of mucus that lines and protects the walls of the intestines. The mucus constantly sloughs off and carries pathogens with it.

Gut bacteria also support immune health by keeping the digestive tract at a pH level where it’s difficult, if not impossible, for undesirable bacteria, such as salmonella (which causes food poisoning), shigella(which causes diarrhea), and E. coli (which can cause intestinal disease and chronic kidney failure), to take root and grow. Healthy gut flora also produces a volatile fatty acid which, along with other byproducts, makes it difficult for fungus and yeast to survive.

Finally, good gut bacteria also help keep you regular. The shorter your bowel transit time, the less opportunity there is for toxins to be reabsorbed into your blood stream.

How Gut Bacteria Improves Mental Health

If you don’t believe that there’s a connection between our gut and our mood, try describing how you felt the last time you were nervous, afraid, or angry. If you use phrases like “butterflies in the stomach” or a “stomach tied in knots,” you’ve just proven how true this is.

Within the body, we actually have a “second brain” called the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS controls and regulates our intestinal tract and senses environmental threats. It reports information to the brain via the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in the body. The vagus nerve links a number of organs with the brain, but about 90 percent of the signals passing along it are traveling from the gut to the brain.

It may seem strange that there is a neurological connection between the gut and the brain, and that you can treat the brain with antidepressants and see improvement in bowel problems. But what’s even stranger is that until recently, conventional medicine never considered directly treating bowel problems to improve mood disorders. It’s a two-way street between the brain and the gut, after all. If you change one area, it makes a difference in the other.

Depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders are just of few of the more common problems that have been closely linked to intestinal problems. As to which came first—the gastrointestinal disorder or the psychiatric illness—it’s hard to tell. But based on trends over the past few decades, we can’t help but think the constant assault on our intestinal flora is the underlying cause of many of the psychological problems we’re now experiencing.

How Gut Bacteria Boosts Energy Levels

When your body is absorbing nutrients and ridding itself of toxins more effectively, it stands to reason that you will feel an overall improvement in your energy level. But this is also supported by science, which has shown us that probiotics can be an effective way to fight fatigue—particularly chronic fatigue.

Blood and saliva samples were taken for one month in eight athletes who had fatigue and declining performance. All were shown to have a reduced secretion of interferon, and most were found to be infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). (Most adults are carriers of this virus.)

When the athletes were given a probiotic supplement (Lactobacillus acidophilus) for a month, not only did their interferon levels improve to levels found in healthy individuals, but only one was found to exhibit EBV shedding in the saliva. Also, the fatigue disappeared, and athletic performance noticeably improved. 

How Gut Bacteria Improves Cholesterol Levels

Much of the cholesterol produced by your liver is converted into bile acids, which are stored in the gallbladder and used to help digest fats. Ultimately these acids end up in the colon, where they are either destroyed or excreted in bowel movements.

People who don’t eat enough fiber (one of the habits that damage gut bacteria) often have too much pathogenic microflora in their GI tract. One of the things those unwanted bacteria do is attack bile acids. Specifically, they break the acids down into several substances, including a toxic product called lithocholate. Lithocholate causes the liver to convert less cholesterol into bile acids.

From here, a couple of things happen. When less cholesterol is converted to bile acids, it begins to accumulate in the blood stream, and levels rise. Also, less cholesterol reaches the colon where it can be excreted in bowel movements. This is especially dangerous because bowel movements are the body’s main method of ridding the body of unwanted cholesterol.

Eating a high-fiber diet effectively supports the good bacteria that leave passing bile acids intact. As a result, your body excretes more cholesterol, and in effect is “tricked” into creating more bile acids.

How Gut Bacteria Regulates Hormone Levels

I could write a book on this topic, but it would probably put us both to sleep—so I’ll keep it short.

Normally, as much as 60 percent of the estrogen circulating in the blood is picked up by the liver and "deactivated." It is then dumped into the gallbladder and released with bile into the intestines for excretion. In the GI tract, an enzyme produced by our good gut bacteria, called Beta-glucoronidase, reactivates the estrogen so it can be reabsorbed into the body.

When the bacterial flora is out of balance, the estrogen is neither reactivated nor reabsorbed. Instead, it is lost in the stool. Low estrogen levels have been linked to osteoporosis, PMS, water retention, breast soreness, severe menstrual cramps and heavy flow, slow menstrual cycles, migraine headaches, etc.—all problems that women (and the men they live with) want to avoid.

A similar process occurs with many other hormones, as well as folic acid, vitamin B12, bile acids, cholesterol, and vitamin D.

How Gut Bacteria Reduces Yeast Infection Occurrences

Apart from residing in the intestinal tract, beneficial bacteria also reside in the vagina and urinary tract, where they deter the growth of pathogenic bacteria and yeast. 

They are a primary defense against urinary tract infections (UTIs) and acute cystitis. Approximately 60 percent of women in the United States experience UTIs or acute cystitis during their lifetimes, and 30 percent of those women have multiple occurrences.

We know that the beneficial bacteria reach the vagina by migrating from the colon, out of the body, and into the vagina and urinary tract. Although there are multiple species residing in the vagina,Lactobacillus is the most prominent. As it does in the gut, the lactic acid that these bacteria produce help to keep the pH level of the vagina and urinary tract slightly acidic, which reduces the growth of yeast and harmful bacteria—including E. coli, one of the chief bacteria that cause UTIs.
If we look at women’s genitourinary health from this perspective, it’s easy to understand why some women experience recurring problems with UTIs. If the balance of bacteria is off in some way, pathogens are more likely to adhere to the bladder wall and cause infection.

Though antibiotics will effectively clear up the symptoms of a UTI, they also will kill off the friendly microflora that is needed to protect the urinary tract in the first place. This sets the stage for an ongoing cycle of infection.

The most effective way to break this cycle is not additional medication, but rather re-establishing healthy flora by eating fermented foods and/or taking probiotic supplements high in the Lactobacillusspecies. Once restored, it’s reasonable to assume that subsequent infections will be much less frequent.

How Gut Bacteria Improves Oral Health

The primary benefit of probiotic flora in the oral cavity - the mouth, throat, and by extension, the nose, sinuses, and ear canals—is in support of our immune system, since often our first exposure to viruses and bacteria comes through the mouth and nose.

More than 600 species of bacteria have been identified within the oral cavity. Most of those species probably play a lesser role in health, but researchers have found that higher numbers of the more prominent beneficial species directly correlate to a reduced incidence of everything from bad breath and dental caries to ear infections, strep throat, and tonsillitis. 

The most effective way to increase the number of good bacteria in the oral cavity is through the use of probiotic lozenges, particularly those which contain the species Streptococcus salivarius. Tests have shown that using a lozenge that incorporates the K12 strain can help restore the natural bacterial flora of the mouth and throat. These bacteria produce compounds referred to as “bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances” or BLIS, which act as natural antibacterials and help control the growth of invasive microorganisms that cause infections.

How Gut Bacteria Supports a Healthy Weight

More and more research is emerging that draws a direct link between our weight and the health of our gut flora (including its role in the success of gastric bypass surgery), but this shouldn’t be a surprise. The connection has been known, and manipulated, for years by the agricultural industry.

Antibiotics—which kill the natural bacterial flora in the human body that influences how we break down and absorb the nutrients that help keep us lean and healthy—are known as growth promoters. Farmers have been using antibiotics for more than half a century to fatten cattle, pigs, and chickens. With the use of these medications, animals gain more weight more quickly, on less food. I’ll say that again: antibiotics stimulate growth with less food.

How Gut Bacteria Contributes to Longer Life

The more diverse our bacterial flora is, the more effective it is and the better our overall health tends to be. To see this, you need look no further than a study that examined gut microbes in the elderly.

When researchers looked at the gut bacteria of 178 elderly individuals over the age of 65 (average age 78, none of whom were being treated with antibiotics), they found that the microbes varied extensively depending on where the individual lived and the state of their overall health.

The people who lived independently in the community had the most varied microbacterial flora and were the healthiest. People who lived in long-term assisted living homes had less diverse microbacterial flora and were frailer.

Foods That Fight Inflammation

Foods that fight inflammation

Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.

However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That's when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's—have been linked to chronic inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects.
Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

Foods that inflame

Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:
refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
French fries and other fried foods
soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
margarine, shortening, and lard

Inflammation-promoting foods

Not surprisingly, the same foods that contribute to inflammation are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats.

Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation. It's not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.

Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation. Yet in several studies, even after researchers took obesity into account, the link between foods and inflammation remained, which suggests weight gain isn't the sole driver. Some of the food components or ingredients may have independent effects on inflammation over and above increased caloric intake.

Foods that combat inflammation

Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:
olive oil
green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
nuts like almonds and walnuts
fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

Anti-inflammation foods

On the flip side are foods and beverages that have been found to reduce the risk of inflammation, and with it, chronic disease, in particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.  Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Anti-inflammatory eating

To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you're looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health. A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life.

Fitness Trends 2018

1. High-Intensity Interval Training

 High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) took the top spot in this year's survey (it was also number one in 2014). A HIIT training session involves bursts of maximum-effort, very hard work (typically about 20 to 90 seconds), followed by a period of low-intensity recovery. The goal is to recover enough that you can go hard again during your next work interval. If you're a beginner, you might have longer rest intervals, or work intervals that are challenging but not at maximum effort.

The ACSM says HIIT workouts are typically 30 minutes or less, although they can be longer. But while they may be short, they definitely aren't sweet. As the name suggests, HIIT workouts are designed to be high intensity, and a major part of the appeal is that they're an incredibly efficient and effective way to get your cardio in and burn lots of calories (if that's something that matters to you) without requiring a ton of time.
That said, because they're so intense, you shouldn't be doing HIIT workouts every day. This can lead to overtraining and an increased risk of injury (which survey respondents expressed concerns about, according to the ACSM). 

2. Group Training

Group training (or group fitness classes) didn't make the top 20 trends until 2017, but their popularity is rapidly rising. The ACSM defines group training as a workout for five or more people led by an instructor, designed to be motivational and effective for people of different fitness levels. This could be anything from trendy HIIT classes like OrangeTheory Fitness, to dance cardio classes, to old-school step classes at the YMCA.

No matter here are plenty of benefits of group fitness classes. They can be a great way to try a new workout or mix up your routine (many boutique fitness studios offer free or discounted first classes, as a bonus). There's also a social aspect—classes can be a fun way to sweat it out with friends or meet new people. Plus, when you sign up for a class, you're committing to your workout, which can help you stay on track with your routine.

3. Wearable Technology

Activity trackers smart watches, and heart rate monitors are as popular as ever—if you're into seeing your workouts by the numbers, wearable technology can give you interesting feedback about how you move. Many estimate your steps, sleep, standing time, calories burned, and time spent working out.

Heart rate monitors in particular can also give you objective information about how hard you're actually working during a sweat session, which can be helpful if you're training to be in a specific heart rate zone. (How you feel isn't always an effective measure of how hard you're working—factors including the room temperature and how much you like your workout can also influence how hard a workout feels to you.)

Wearable tech is going beyond the Fitbits and Apple Watches people wear on their wrists, too, the ACSM says. The sleekn Motiv Ring was recently released, which tracks activity via your finger. Smart fabric and textiles are also on the rise, says the ACSM—Wearable X just introduced the Nadi X yoga pants, which delivers vibrational feedback to the wearer to encourage good form and alignment. The ACSM also notes that smart eyeglasses are gaining in popularity.

4. Bodyweight Training

While bodyweight training has been around for a long time, it's been re-popularized by the fitness world over the past several years, says the ACSM. Bodyweight training is popular thanks in part to its convenience. There's no equipment and minimal space required, so bodyweight exercises are great for anytime, anywhere workouts. Most bodyweight exercises are accessible for any fitness level, and they're often easy to modify, too.
Plus, your own body really is an incredible resistance training tool in its own right. Using your bodyweight during exercises including push-ups, squats, planks, lunges, and more can be an incredibly challenging and effective way to work your muscles. 

5. Strength Training

Strength training has been a strong trend since the first year of the survey, according to the ACSM. And with good reason: Strength training is an extremely important element of any fitness routine. Strength training helps prevent the age-related decline of muscle mass, keeps your bones and heart healthy, and helps prevent pain and injury in everyday life. Muscle mass also plays a role in maintaining a healthy metabolism (although it won't drastically increase the number of calories your body burns at rest).

6. Educated, Certified, and Experienced Fitness Professionals

While this might not seem like a particularly glamorous trend, it is an important one. According to the ACSM, there's been growth of educational programs and certification programs that have been accredited through legitimate organizations (such as the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences.) Certification standards differ by organization, but in general, a certification means that a trainer has taken a standardized test to demonstrate knowledge of gym safety, exercise form, and training principles.

There's also an increased interest in more regulation of the industry, according to the ACSM. Overall, it's important that fitness professionals know their stuff to lead clients and classes in a way that's safe and effective.

7. Yoga

While yoga has landed on the trends list for many years, it moved up one spot in 2018. The ACSM credits yoga's consistent popularity with being refreshed and reinvented every year—there's no shortage of styles to choose from, including Iyengar yoga, power yoga, Bikram yoga, and more, and each come in and out of popularity.

Devoted practicers credit yoga with mental clarity and stress management, and it's also a great workout for improving flexibility and balance (which are important to an overall fitness routine). Depending on the style, it can also help build muscle strength and endurance.

8. Personal Training

Personal training has been in the top 10 trends since this survey began, according to the ACSM. Getting one-on-one time with a trainer can help many people reach their goals in a safe and effective way that works for them. Of course, personal training isn't the only way to have an efficient and individualized workout routine—it can be pretty expensive, so while personal training can be helpful, it's also not realistic for everyone.

Part of this trend is also in making sure personal trainers are educated, notes the ACSM—in fact, recent legislation has been introduced in several states to establish licensing of personal trainers (although none of it has been adopted yet). 

9. Fitness Programs for Older Adults

According to the ACSM, there's a growing market for fitness programs that are tailored to older adults. After all, staying active is a great way for people to maintain bone and muscle mass with age, in addition to overall health benefits. In 2018, there may be more specific classes and fitness programs designed for retired people looking to make fitness a priority.

10. Functional Fitness

According to the ACSM, "functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform activities of daily living." For example, a squat is a functional exercise because it also works the muscles you use to squat down to grab the phone you dropped.
Think of functional training as training for life, whether you're hauling boxes into a new home or reaching up to grab a suitcase from the overhead bin on a plane. It's about feeling strong and capable in all areas of your life—not just at the gym.

A Psychologist's Secrets To Making New Year Resolutions Stick

1. Clearly define your goals. Many people in the spirit of New Year’s loudly proclaim, “This is the year I’m going to finally get in shape.” But what does that mean? Do you intend to lose a certain number of pounds? Reach a body-fat percentage goal? Run three miles without rest? Bang out 10 pull-ups? Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). The first step to behavior change is to clearly understand what “it” is.

2. Track your progress. “If you can measure it, you can change it” is a fundamental principal of psychology. These measurements will be a source of motivation as you reflect on where you started and where you are. They will also help you to identify plateaus or “sticking points” in your progress so you can adjust your efforts.
3. Have patience. You must set realistic goals and realize that progress is never linear. Some people will see rapid gains only to hit resistance later in their efforts. For others, initial progress may be painfully slow but then they suddenly achieve rapid breakthroughs. Making lasting changes takes time.

4. Publicize your goals to friends and family. As embarrassing as it might be to announce your specific resolution to the world, social support is critical. Yes, it takes some personal courage and vulnerability to share something that you might actually fail at, but to dramatically increase your odds of success you’ll want support from those around you.

5. Put it on your schedule. How often do you hear people say they can’t “find the time” to do something. Nobody finds time. We all choose to spend our time the way we do—whether that’s eating junk food or going to a spin class. Make your new goals a priority and actually schedule them into your calendar. If you have a fitness goal schedule time for your workouts. If you want to declutter, schedule time to clean out your closet on your calendar. If you want to save money, put in a weekly budget review onto your Sunday afternoons. Think of these time blocks as important appointments—just like an appointment with a doctor. Don’t automatically schedule something else over them. That which is scheduled gets done.

6. Stop “all or nothing” thinking; it’s better do something than nothing. Are you guilty of “all or nothing” thinking? Do you ever think, “Well, I might as well get dessert since I already ate those French fries?” And then, “I blew my diet last night so I’ll just restart it next week.” The difference between doing something rather than nothing is huge. If you don’t have a full hour to workout at the gym, just decide to make it the best 20-minutes you can. If you have a slight cold or minor injury, decide to just walk the track for a couple miles. If you have a financial emergency and can’t save your full 10% this month, just save what you can. The bottom line is, any effort towards your goal is better than no effort.

7. Get up, when you slip up. None of us are perfect. As the great Vince Lombardi said, “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” Resiliency is the key. Don’t turn relapses or temporary failures into total meltdowns or excuses for giving up. Instead, just acknowledge the mistake and recommit to the path.

Achieving our goals isn’t about willpower. It’s about developing the right skills and strategies that, with patience, will lead to success. Keep these seven secrets in mind in 2016, and you’ll join the elite 8% who will be celebrating their success later in the year.

Boost Your Fiber Intake

Consume as many fruits and veggies as possible. 

The superstars for fiber content include berries (raspberries #1), snow peas, apples, canned tomato products, pumpkin, cauliflower, avocado, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, okra and winter squash.

Eat more beans – strive for one serving daily. 

Measure for measure, beans provide more fiber than any other food (about 3-4x more than fruits/veggies). All of them are fiber superstars so choose what you enjoy the most. Don’t forget about bean dips like hummus which are delicious!

Make a high fiber cereal (at least 5 grams per serving) a part of your daily breakfast. 

There are at least 30 varieties/brands now available that fit the bill. Personally, one of my breakfasts of choice includes 1 cup mixed – fruit usually berries/apples (7 grams fiber), ½ cup high fiber cereal (5 grams fiber), ½ cup of Greek-style plain yogurt (2 grams fiber) and 2 tablespoons of wheat germ (2 grams fiber).

Eat physically intact whole grains– brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, farro, etc vs. their refined, processed white counterparts.

Substitute 100% whole grain bread, crackers, etc., for their refined counterparts.Numerous brands are available. Check out the newer 100% whole grain crackers – Multigrain Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Ak-mak, Kashi Heart to Heart etc. Many provide 3 grams of fiber per serving.

Choose multigrain pasta over regular. I love the taste of Barilla Plus.

Include more physically intact whole grains—brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, farro, black rice, etc.  To get the most health and metabolic benefits from the fiber you eat, you need to have an abundance of good bacteria residing in your colon. Here are the key strategies for establishing and maintaining a robust supply of fat-fighting beneficial gut bacteria.

Eat an abundance of plant-based, high fiber foods as noted above. 

Good bacteria “feed” off of fiber and the more real–food fiber you eat, the more good bacteria you will have in your gut. This is THE MOST POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE of all five of these strategies. Honestly, if you do not eat an abundance of fiber, success is IMPOSSIBLE.

Include probiotic foods regularly in your diet. 
Yogurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and any other “fermented” foods that contain live bacteria.

Do not take antibiotics unless medically indicated. 

And if you must take an antibiotic, be sure to take a daily probiotic supplement as directed (they are over-the-counter) while you are on the antibiotic and for two full weeks thereafter.

Get out in nature and get dirty. The soil contains an entire ecosystem of good bacteria. Gardening is highly recommended, especially vegetable gardening!

Consider a regular, daily supplement of a high quality probiotic.

Probiotics are measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units). This number should be prominently displayed on the front of box or bottle you are looking at. You want to find a probiotic that has a range between 3-50 billion CFUs that specifically fits your unique digestion.

The lower end of the range, 3 billion CFUs, is what we would call a daily maintenance product. This potency would be well suited for a person with an otherwise healthy digestive system that needs to replenish the probiotics lost daily due to modern living.

Keep Your Health In Check During The Holidays

While, yes, it’s extremely hard to resist piling a little bit of everything onto your plate, try to be a bit more thoughtful about what you choose. Do you really want that sweet potato casserole? If your taste buds don’t light up at the thought, then skip it, move on to the next dish and ask yourself the same question. If you fill your plate with only the foods you love, your meal will be all-around more satisfying and less shame-inducing.

The holiday season isn’t exactly the kindest to our bodies. Between helping ourselves to endless desserts and nonstop trays of finger food, it’s no wonder that our stomachs feel bloated. To combat the gluttony, we recommend serving a refreshing yet healthy cocktail. 

- 1 oz Skinny Triple Sec
- 1 oz Tequila
- Juice of half a grapfruit 1/3 cup
- Juice of half a lime
- 1/2 cup sparkling water
Your guests definitely won’t complain about going back for seconds.

Right now, your usual workout probably feels stale, which makes it that much harder to stay on track. So sign up for something new instead. In addition to helping you work off all that pie, a challenging exercise that requires a lot of focus will clear your mind and put you in a better mood.

In an effort to increase your digestive health (and boost your immunity), take a probiotic supplement. All the good bacteria from the probiotic will balance out the bad and keep your gut in good shape. And, given all the excess food, we welcome these little guys with open arms.

Between hosting and parties and presents, we often put ourselves second to friends and family. While totally honorable, your selfless nature can take a toll on your mental and physical health, so make it a point to do at least one thing that brings a quiet smile to your face each day. Take a solo walk around the neighborhood or bring your favorite book to a local coffee shop, just for an hour. You deserve a little me-time.

Massage Therapy Can Relieve Headaches

Since many tension headaches and migraine headaches are accompanied by neck pain, headache sufferers find that manual therapies such as massage offer relief from headache pain and related symptoms. Because massage therapy relaxes tense muscles, relieves muscle spasms, improves blood flow and aids relaxation, it can be helpful for relieving the pain of both tension and vascular headaches.

Types of Headaches: Muscle Tension and Vascular Headaches

The most common types of headaches are muscle tension and vascular headaches. Muscle tension headaches produce dull, constant pain on both sides of the head and may also involve an aching neck or sensitive scalp. They generally start slowly and can last from hours to days.
Muscle tension headaches are sometimes called muscle contraction headaches because it is the tightening of the muscles of the head, face and neck that causes the pain. This is why tension headache sufferers often describe their pain as a “vice-like grip” at their temples or as tightening bands around the forehead or along the base of the skull.
Vascular headaches are the ones many people describe as “pounding” or “throbbing.” They occur when the blood vessels that supply the brain and the muscles in the head swell and constrict. Vascular headache pain intensifies with physical activity and typically lasts from 4 to 72 hours. It may be associated with other symptoms such as vision problems, extreme sensitivity to light, and nausea. Migraines, cluster headaches and headaches that result from high blood pressure are all examples of vascular headaches.

How Does Massage Therapy Relieve Headaches?

Massage therapy helps to relieve both types of headaches by easing muscle tension, relieving muscle spasms, releasing shortened muscles and relaxing tension held in the muscles of the head, shoulders, and neck. When muscle tension eases, there is less pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that supply them. Oxygen-rich blood circulation improves, which also relieves pain. Massage therapy not only helps the muscles of the body to relax but also effectively reduces the anxiety and mental stress that can cause or exacerbate headaches. Regular, ongoing massage therapy can also help to prevent headaches by helping to reduce overall stress and the muscle tension that can trigger headache pain and by helping to maintain emotional balance.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is a form of bodywork. It is “touch,” or manual, therapy in which various parts of the body are rubbed, pressed, kneaded, stroked and tapped. Massage has a demonstrated ability to help relieve physical and emotional tension and stress and to improve circulation throughout the body.

Different Types of Massage for Different Types of Headaches

Because headaches often result from or involve pain referred from problems associated with the bones and muscles in the neck, shoulder, and back, massage focusing on the cervical spine (the vertebrae in the neck behind the skull) can help to relieve headache pain. Shiatsu massage, a Japanese technique in which pressure is applied with the fingers, thumbs and palm to acupuncture points, also may help to reduce headache pain. Another therapeutic touch technique that seems to help headache sufferers is known as the Trager Approach. It uses massage to stretch muscles and joints and promote relaxation.

Some tension headaches may be relieved by a specific form of massage therapy called trigger point therapy (TrP). Trigger point therapy is the application of pressure to specific points such as along the trapezius muscles (the muscles extending from the base of the skull to mid-back located along the spine) and sternocleidomastoid muscles (muscles on either side of the neck). This pressure interrupts the nerve signals that not only cause the headache pain but also create the trigger point. This therapy aims to relieve pain and to re-educate the muscles so they assume healthy positions and postures that do not generate pain.

What Causes Headaches?

In general, it is difficult to pinpoint the precise cause of an infrequently occurring muscle tension or vascular headache, but sometimes the anatomy of the headache—how it starts, where the pain is felt, and how long it lasts—provides valuable clues about its source.
It was once believed that there were only two simple origins of headaches. Vascular headaches, such as migraines, occurred when blood vessels that supplied the brain and muscles of the head and neck dilated or were constricted. Tension headaches were thought to result from the tensing and contracting of muscles of the head, face, and neck in response to physical stress, such as injury or emotional distress.

Today, it is understood that there are complex chemical changes in the brain associated with headache pain. Tension headaches are associated with neurochemicals in the brain —varying levels of serotonin, endorphins and other chemicals that serve as neurotransmitters (substances that nerves use to send messages to one another) helping nerves to communicate.
These chemical changes observed in headache sufferers may cause, or be caused by, muscle tension. It is possible that tensed muscles in the neck and scalp may trigger a headache in someone with altered neurochemical levels or, on the other hand, the neck and scalp muscles may be tensing in response to these neurochemical changes. The rise and fall of these chemicals are thought to not only activate pain pathways to the brain but also interfere with the brain's own capacity to suppress the pain. Massage therapy can effectively ease the muscle tension that causes headaches.

Benefits of Pilates

Athletes are constantly striving to find the appropriate balance within their bodies so they may continue to progress in their training. Injuries and mental burnout can inhibit the athlete’s ability to consistently train and progress, resulting in a loss of precious time towards improvement. Athletes of all walks of life are turning to Pilates to offset these challenges by balancing strength, flexibility, and mental prowess.

Physical Benefits
Athletes work their bodies, very often strenuously, through specific planes of motion depending on the sport. The repetitive motions of many sports very often puts the body at risk for muscular imbalances, which could eventually result in injury. Pilates encourages an individual to utilize both the superficial and deep muscle groups, resulting in appropriate balance in strength and flexibility. Overall body awareness and balance can improve with a better sense of where the body is moving in space-an important skill to have for appropriate technique in any sport.

Mental Benefits
An important component to both training and performance that all too often can be overlooked is the mental component of the sport. A large range of sports take an incredible amount of focus, persistence, patience, and adaptability. An athlete can be in the best shape of his or her life, but if on race day their head is not it, neither will their body be. Pilates improves mental focus by utilizing both the breath and the body as an anchor for the mind. The practitioner becomes more aware of their own thoughts as they improve their ability to be fully present with their body and breath. Pilates teaches the individual to stay calm, focus, and breathe and athletes can certainly take these skills with them into their sport when the going gets tough.

The safest way to take the body into a more intense range of motion is through supported stabilizing strength. Athletes in particular should support any deep stretches with strength, as there may already be vulnerable muscular imbalances resulting from the repetitive nature of their sport.

Ways To Show Your Gratitude

Send a holiday care package to a soldier abroad

Our service men and women who are out of the country during Thanksgiving often long for the comforts of home. By sending a care package through Any Soldier, you can show them your gratitude for their duty and make them feel loved. Any Soldier has provided care packages to 96,371 service members and has an extensive list of popular products  that have been requested by soldiers if you need ideas for what to include in your package.

Deliver a Thanksgiving meal to housebound neighbors

Don’t forget seniors or the seriously ill during this holiday. By volunteering with a local Meals on Wheels Program to bring a hot dinner to those who may not be able to join family or friends. They’ll appreciate the food and, more importantly, the time you share with them at their homes.

Feed families with pocket change

According to a recent government report, 49 million Americans went hungry last year, so you can bet that many families are facing slim pickings for Thanksgiving this year. Help change this by participating in Feeding America‘s Thanksgiving Feast for 9 Million. By donating $1, you can provide seven meals this holiday, and $50 will provide 350 meals for hungry families.

Run a “Turkey Trot”

All over the country this Thanksgiving, companies and nonprofits are hosting 5k races to benefit local charities and good causes. San Francisco’s fun run will benefit a local high school’s Track & Field team and Ann Arbor’s will benefit local animal shelters and community groups. The bonus? Most of these races are Run/Walks that encourage full family participation and you can work off some of dinner before you even sit down at the table. Runs are planned for on and around Thanksgiving day and some require advance registration, so be sure to mind the rules specific for your area.

Pledge to Give 29 Things Away

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to sign up for the 29-Day Giving Challenge, a commitment to give something away each day for 29 days. It can be a tangible object or something as simple as a compliment. The goal is to make giving a habit and share your stories with others who might be inspired. Each month, 29Gifts features a different cuasef, so if you get stuck one day there are plenty of ideas ready to go.

Serve Thanksgiving Dinner at a Homeless Shelter

All the donated food that is raised during Thanksgiving time has to have willing hands to help cook it. Lend yours by volunteering this thanksgiving at a homeless shelter to prepare and dish up a meal with all the trimmings for those who don’t have a home to go to this Holiday. The National Coalition for the Homeless has a searchable directory to find homeless shelters in your area.

Sponsor a Family in Need

Thanksgiving is only one day out of the year that U.S. families go hungry. Why not do a little to help one family a lot during the whole year? can help you connect with individual families that you can help by providing food, clothing and other necessities throughout the year. Or, open a family-to-family branch in your area.
For more information on how to sponsor a family in your area, you can watch a step-by-step “How To” from Create The Good

Tweet your thanks on Tweetsgiving

Between November 24 and 26, Epic Change encourages social media users to share their gratitude both on and offline by participating in TweetsGiving. Share what you’re thankful for via Twitter, your blog, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, or with the #tweetsgiving tag and a $10 donation. This year, they hope to raise $100,000 to build an educational facility in Arusha, Tanzania, and fund future Epic Change projects.

Sign the Charter for Compassion

In February 2008, former nun Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and asked for the help of others to create, launch and promote an international Charter for Compassion. Thousands of people contributed to the creation of the multilateral Charter to promote compassion across cultural and religious boundaries. By signing the online document, you agree to live by and encourage the “golden rule” by treating everyone in this world with compassion and respect.

Foods To Pack On Muscle

The Perfect Protein 

How they build muscle:  The protein in eggs has the highest biological value—a measure of how well it supports your body's protein needs—of any food, including our beloved beef. Calorie for calorie, you need less protein from eggs than you do from other sources to achieve the same muscle-building benefits. 

But you have to eat the yolk. In addition to protein, it also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. (And no, eating a few eggs a day won't increase your risk of heart disease.) 

How they keep you healthy: Eggs are vitamins and minerals over easy; they're packed with riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, B12, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc. 

Muscle Medicine 

How they build muscle: Crunch for crunch, almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E—the form that's best absorbed by your body. That matters to your muscles because vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy workouts. The fewer hits taken from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover from a workout and start growing. 

How many almonds should you munch? One to two handfuls a day should do it… as long as you stay within your caloric range for the day. 

How they keep you healthy: Almonds double as brain insurance. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who consumed the most vitamin E—from food sources, not supplements—had a 67 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those eating the least vitamin E. 

The Growth Regulator 

How it builds muscle: It's swimming with high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3's can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery.  This is important, because to build muscle you need to store new protein faster than your body breaks down the old stuff. 

How it keeps you healthy: By reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that when overweight people added 1.8 grams of DHA—an omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil—to their daily diets, their insulin resistance decreased by 70 percent in 12 weeks. 

The Golden Ratio 

How it builds muscle: Even with the aura of estrogen surrounding it, yogurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth.

Buy regular—not sugar-free—with fruit buried at the bottom. The extra carbohydrates from the fruit will boost your blood levels of insulin, one of the keys to reducing postexercise protein breakdown. 

How it keeps you healthy: Three letters: CLA. Yogurt is one of the few foods that contain conjugated linoleic acid, a special type of fat shown in some studies to reduce body fat.

Carvable Creatine 

How it builds muscle: More than just a piece of charbroiled protein, beef is also a major source of iron and zinc, two crucial muscle-building nutrients.  Plus, it's the number-one food source of creatine—your body's energy supply for pumping iron—2 grams for every 16 ounces. 

For maximum muscle with minimum calories, look for "rounds" or "loins"—butcherspeak for meat cuts that are extra-lean. Or check out the new "flat iron" cut. It's very lean and the second most tender cut of beef overall. 

How it keeps you healthy: Beef is a storehouse for selenium. Stanford University researchers found that men with low blood levels of the mineral are as much as five times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with normal levels. 

Liquid Energy 

How it builds muscle:  The monounsaturated fat in olive oil appears to act as an anticatabolicnutrient.  In other words, it prevents muscle breakdown by lowering levels of a sinister cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor-a, which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness. 

And while all olive oil is high in monos, try to use the extra-virgin variety whenever possible; it has a higher level of free-radical-fighting vitamin E than the less chaste stuff. 

How it keeps you healthy: How doesn't it? Olive oil and monounsaturated fats have been associated with everything from lower rates of heart disease and colon cancer to a reduced risk of diabetes and osteoporosis. 

The Muscle Bath 

How it builds muscle: Whether it's in your shins or your shoulders, muscle is approximately 80 percent water. Even a change of as little as 1 percent in body water can impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery. For example, a 1997 German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well hydrated, compared with dehydrated cells. English translation: The more parched you are, the slower your body uses protein to build muscle. 

Not sure how dry you are? "Weigh yourself before and after each exercise session. Then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost.

How it keeps you healthy: Researchers at Loma Linda University found that those who drank five or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drank two or fewer. 

The Repetition Builder 

How it builds muscle: Fueling your workout with caffeine will help you lift longer. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that those who drank 2 cups of coffee a few hours before an exercise test were able to sprint 9% longer than when they didn't.  It is believed the caffeine directly stimulates the muscles. 

And since sprinting and weight lifting are both anaerobic activities—exercises that don't require oxygen—a jolt of joe should help you pump out more reps. Skip it if you have a history of high blood pressure, though. 

How it keeps you healthy: Harvard researchers found that coffee drinkers have a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson's disease than nondrinkers. 

Staying Fit Heading Into The Holidays

No matter who you are, the weight-gain cycle can easily continue throughout the winter months, and by spring you can have 5-10 lbs to lose. Hold that pace for a decade and you will have gained 50-60 lbs. This is the way weight gain occurs - slowly, over the years.

The good news: While it can take a few to several years to gain 50-60 lbs, it can only take 6-12 months to lose it. So, when I feel the urge to write the annual "Holiday Weight Gain Article," next year, perhaps I can feature the success stories of last year instead of trying to scare people into exercising and eating from healthy food plans.

Without a lifestyle change, including daily exercise and proper food habits, the annual 1-2 lbs of weight gain can lead to obesity, which gives you a higher chance of contracting other related health problems such as hypertension, stroke, and diabetes.

So how can people avoid adding holiday weight? Healthy food choices and more exercise - and a few extra tips:

1) Walk More
When safety is not an issue, try to walk further than normal when going about your normal routine. Burning a few more calories by walking is one of the easiest ways to take off that extra weight. Just twenty minutes of brisk walking can burn over 100-150 calories. That equals a cookie or soda in calories!

2) Get a Jump on Training
Resistance training will add muscle mass that in turn will burn more calories throughout the day.  Get a jump start on your RT before the holidays start.  A great idea is to include one more extra day of training a week to your regular training schedule.  Including HIIT training will also be very beneficial… it burns a great amounts of calories in a short amount of time. 

3) Continue to Drink Water
Water is going to naturally help you avoid eating as much if you drink a large glass 20-30 minutes prior to having a large dinner. Plus, water will keep you hydrated and help you burn fat more efficiently. Some people confuse hunger with dehydration. If you just drink a glass of water, that will often take care of the food yearning. This is not skipping a meal - just a way to work through temptation. An optimal level of water per day - as stated by the National Institute of Health - is 1/2 to 1 gallon a day. Add one extra glass (8oz) of water per every 10 lbs over weight too!

4) Eat Slowly
Eat very slowly and enjoy the flavors. Try to chew your food at least 30-40 times per mouthful.  It works and will allow the "hungry- full" response from your brain to tell you are satisfied. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to let you know you are full. Stay away from buffet tables at parties and use smaller plates when selecting foods.

5) Brush Your Teeth after Meals
Right after eating a meal, especially dinner, go straight to the bathroom to brush, floss, and mouthwash so that your mouth is feeling nice and clean - this makes it less appealing to eat more (especially before bedtime). Ever try to eat or drink something after brushing your teeth? Not tasty!

6) Cardio Ideas
You can do cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rowing any day and it only takes 20-30 minutes to receive a good cardio-vascular benefit. Keep the heart rate at about 50-65% of your maximum heart rate. A good way to determine maximum heart rate is the theoretical formula - 220 - age = max heart rate
The best thing about this part of your workout is that you can do your cardio exercise around your neighborhood, on a treadmill at home, or at the gym if you choose. So on days when time is critical, get your cardio done or make those days one of your rest days (1-2 per week).

Powerful Benefits of Pumpkins

Health Benefits

Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene. 

Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant.  It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. The body converts any ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A.
Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration.

Many studies have suggested that eating more plant foods such as pumpkin decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality. It can also help prevent diabetes and heart disease, and promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and a healthful body mass index (BMI).

Pumpkins are also a powerful source of fiber.
They have demonstrated the following health benefits.

Regulating Blood Pressure

Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.

Studies suggests that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Decreasing sodium intake involves eating meals that contain little or no salt.
Increased potassium intake is also associated with a reduce the risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, and preservation of bone mineral density.

Reducing the risk of cancer

Research has suggested a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta-carotene and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Beta-carotene has also been shown to hold back the development of colon cancer in some of the Japanese population.

Pumpkins contain a wealth of antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
A cross-sectional study of older African-American women showed that eating 3 or more fruit servings per day was associated with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. It also led to slower progression of the disease.

Combating diabetes

Pumpkin helps to control diabetes.
The plant compounds in pumpkin seed and pulp are excellent for helping the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines, as well as balancing levels of liver glucose.  They may be associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, but this effect is not consistently demonstrated.  However, the compounds have such an impact that researchers suggest that they could be reworked into an anti-diabetic medication, though further studies are needed.

Daily fiber content

Pumpkins are a fantastic source of fiber. People in the United States (U.S.) do not consume enough fiber, with an average daily intake of just 15 g. The recommended daily fiber intake of is between 25 and 30 g.
Fiber slows the rate of sugar absorption into the blood, as well as promoting regular bowel movements and smooth digestion. A healthful fiber intake can also help reduce the risk of colon cancer. 
With nearly 3 grams (g) of fiber in cooked, fresh pumpkin and over 7 g in canned pumpkin, adding a serving of pumpkin to the daily diet can help supplement the fiber shortage in the average American diet.

Immune health

Pumpkin can protect immunity.
Pumpkin pulp and seeds are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene. These offer a boost to the immune system using a powerful combination of nutrients.
Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A. This triggers the creation of white blood cells that fight infection.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains: 
1.76 g of protein
2.7 g of fiber
49 calories 
0.17 g of fat
0 g of cholesterol 
12.01 g of carbohydrate
This amount of pumpkin also provides: 
more than 200 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A
nineteen percent of the RDA of vitamin C
ten percent or more of the RDA of vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese
at least 5 percent of thiamin, B-6, folate , pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus

Preparing fresh pumpkin at home will deliver the most benefits for your health, but canned pumpkin is also a great choice. Pumpkin retains many of its health benefits it the canning process.
Steer clear of canned pumpkin pie mix. This is usually placed next to the canned pumpkin in grocery stores, and is sold in a similar can. It contains added sugars and syrups.
Canned pumpkin should have only one ingredient: Pumpkin.

Powerful Benefits of B12 Shots

#1. Increases your energy levels & fights fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency is increased fatigue or lack of energy levels. 
What's interesting is that we know why this happens:
Vitamin B12 (along with other B vitamins) is required for proper energy production in your mitochondria.
Recall from basic biology that your mitochondria produce "energy" for your body in the form of a molecule called ATP  (adenosine triphosphate).
The number of mitochondria in your cells and muscles and how effective they are working determine your subjective sense of "energy". 
Anything that lowers energy production in the mitochondria may manifest as fatigue.
In addition it has been shown in studies that supplementing with B12 can increase energy levels.
This is why vitamin B12 is put into "energy drinks" and other supplements that are meant to boost vitamin B12. 
But here's the most important part: 
One of the main reasons for Vitamin B12 deficiency is due to malabsorption of vitamin B12 in our GI tract. 
So basically you can be consuming B12 in your diet (or even taking supplements with B12) but not actually absorbing it. 
This is why one of the main benefits to taking B12 shots is increased energy levels. 
By taking a shot you are bypassing the GI tract and allowing for 100% absorption into the body straight into the cells (which is where B12 has its action).
If you are taking Vitamin B12 supplements and not feeling any different than it may be due to a lack of absorption.

#2. Improves your metabolism

Another very important benefit of vitamin B12 supplementation is an increase in basal metabolic rate or metabolism. 
Your metabolism is the most important factor when it comes to determining your weight.
Your metabolism represents the amount of calories that you burn while at rest and represents around 90-95% of all calories that you burn in any given day. 
The problem here is that most of you are walking around with a slower than normal metabolism due to a variety of factors.
Low vitamin B12, low mitochondrial energy production, low thyroid hormone, a history of recurrent dieting, etc. have all been shown to slow down your metabolism.
So instead of burning, let's say, 2,000 calories per day - you may only be burning 1400-1500 calories per day if your metabolism is only functioning at 75% of normal.
Obviously with a metabolism that slow it will be VERY difficult to lose any weight.
Vitamin B12 is one of those nutrients that can affect your metabolism and here's how:
We've already established the importance of normal mitochondrial energy production in the first section, but what you probably didn't realize is that your mitochondria also help set your basal metabolic rate. 
The amount of energy that you produce in your mitochondria helps set your metabolism for your entire body. 
More energy production = more energy available for use = higher energy burn = more heat production and more calories burned overall
So if you have sub optimal Vitamin B12 levels or high levels of fatigue your metabolism may be slower than normal. 
If this reduction in metabolism is due to low levels of B12 then B12 shots can improve your metabolism.

#3. Helps with weight loss

B12 shots don't directly result in weight loss but they do in an indirect way. 
Let me explain:
Some of the benefits (including those we've already discussed) of B12 shots include:
Better sleep
Higher metabolism
More energy
Increased mood
What's interesting is that all of these "lifestyle" factors influence how and if your body will lose weight and burn fat mass. 
For instance:
Lack of sleep has been shown to increase your risk for developing obesity by increasing your blood sugar.
Likewise a slow metabolism can help predict weight gain long term (especially after weight loss). 
Low energy levels make exercise difficult and it has been shown to increase your risk for gaining weight.  
Low B12 is also associated with depression which is directly associated with weight gain and obesity.
All of these are intuitive and shouldn't come as a shock to you, so it also shouldn't come as a surprise to know that if you can improve these factors then you can help your body with weight loss.
Make sense?
Vitamin B12 shots can help improve your sleep, increase your energy, normalize your metabolism and improve your mood.
ALL of these factors may indirectly influence your ability to lose weight and may explain why patients who use vitamin B12 shots usually report some degree of weight loss. 
Vitamin B12 shots can also be combined with lipotropic supplements to further help boost weight loss.
Lipotropic vitamins and nutrients directly help your body burn fat and break down adipose tissue which results in fat loss.
But this effect is different from how vitamin B12 itself is working to help with weight loss in your body.
The lipotropic that can be combined with B12 shots include: Methionine, Inositol and Choline.

#4. Helps improve sleeping patterns & circadian rhythm

Another VERY important, and often under appreciated benefit of methylcobalamin is how it affects your circadian rhythm. 
Your circadian rhythm is the process that helps regulate the quality and depth of your sleep (among other factors) which can directly influence your mood, energy levels and weight.
Studies have shown that methylcobalamin (NOT cyanocobalamin) can improve this rhythm.
It should be noted that this study compared the effects of cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin and found that methylcobalamin is the only form of vitamin B12 to have this effect. 
Both cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin are forms of Vitamin B12 but they are not created equal.
Cyoanocobalamin is considered the cheaper and less effective form of B12.
Compared to methylcobalamin which comes premethylated and ready for processing in your body and mitochondria.
If you get B12 shots make sure that you are getting methylated B12 for best results.
If you are having sleep issues including: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, problems getting tired at night or low energy levels then you may be experiencing problems with your circadian rhythm. 
Taking methylcobalamin B12 shots may improve this rhythm and help increase your energy and (as discussed above) help with weight loss. 

#5. Increases concentration & mood

Is your mood down? or are you feeling more "depressed" than usual?  You aren't alone.
We have record numbers of patients taking anti-depressants for "depression" in hospitals and in the community.
Depression by itself isn't a diagnosis but a sign of something else going on in your body.
This may include nutrient deficiencies, high levels of inflammation, lack of exercise, weight gain, etc.
No matter how you look at it there are at least 50+ known causes of depression out there.
One of the main, and most well known, is low levels of Vitamin B12.
It has been shown that vitamin B12 can help increase your mood and fight off depression.
What's great is that B12 can be used in conjunction with other therapies for B12 and can augment your results to help increase your mood quickly.
Likewise B12 has also been shown to increase concentration  which may reduce symptoms such as inability to focus on projects and tasks. 

#6. Boosts your immune system

Vitamin B12 also plays a critical role in your immune system. 
Supplmentating with methylcobalamin (not cyanocobalamin) has been shown to restore abnormalities in the CD4/CD8 T cell ratio.
These factors are very important for fighting off viruses and bacteria that come into contact with your body. 
Changes in this ratio increase your risk for developing certain infections and may reduce the ability of your body to effectively get rid of this infections.
This may result in patients who get sick frequently or who stay sick longer than normal.
The exact mechanism of how B12 interacts with the immune system isn't well understood but it has been shown that low levels impact the body's ability to fight off various infections.
If you have issues with immunity then it would be worth evaluating your B12 levels to see if they might be contributing.

#7. May increase hair growth or stop hair loss

It turns out that there are several nutrients that required for optimal hair growth and Vitamin B12 happens to be one of them. 
If you are having issues with hair loss or your hair is thinning then read on...
In order for proper hair growth to continue and be optimal you need hight enough levels of Vitamin B12, ferritin and hemoglobin.
Deficiencies in any one of these nutrients may result in a reduction in hair growth or even hair loss.
While it is true that many factors (including hormones) influence your hair growth/hair loss, it is worth noting that vitamin B12 plays a special role.
I would never recommend that you take only B12 if your hair is falling out, but taking B12 with other supplements to boost hair loss is a great idea and can be very beneficial.

If you want to use B12 shots you need to make sure you are getting high quality, pharmaceutical grade B12 in its methylated form: methylcobalamin.
You will also need to make sure you get a high enough dosage and make sure the dose isn't watered down or lower than normal.
That generally means at least 5,000mcg of methylcobalamin taken once per week.
Some places will dilute the concentration or use cyanocobalamin because they are cheaper, so make sure you get high quality ingredients.

Taking Vitamin B12 is very safe. 
There is a small risk of developing redness at the injection site but it can be minimized by using proper techniques and making sure to use an antiseptic prior to application.
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin which means that high levels in the blood will be urinated out.
There is no real risk of developing Vitamin B12 toxicity unless you have chronic and severe kidney function (meaning your urination isn't normal).
Outside of these issues vitamin B12 shots are very well tolerated.

Most patients will need 1 shot every 7 days.
In some cases supraphysiologic dosages may be necessary.
That means some patients may need an injection every 5 days instead of every 7 days.

Taking B12 shots may result in a dramatic improvement in your symptoms and can help in a variety of ways. 
The most common benefits of taking B12 shots include:
Increased energy
More weight loss
Better mood and increased concentration
Better sleep
Hair growth
Better metabolism
These are not the only benefits of B12 shots, but just some of the more common. 
It's also important to realize that B12 shots provide more benefit than taking oral supplements alone.
This has to do with various issues regarding absorption of B12 in the gastrointestinal tract.
Taking B12 shots allows for 100% absorption directly into the tissues. 

What Your Personal Trainer Wishes You Didn't Do

Read on for the six biggest faux pas that are could be driving, your personal trainer crazy but are also hampering your fitness progress.

1) Withholding Health Information
Are you on any medications? Did your recent bone scan reveal thinning bones? Did you injure your knee or have back surgery five years ago? Even if your health care provider has cleared you to exercise, your trainer needs to know these important health facts to keep you safe. Medications can affect your heart rate; doing certain moves when you have osteoporosis can make your condition worse; and prior injuries or surgeries can also affect your workout prescription. Even if your trainer hasn't asked, it's up to you to fess up and tell-all when it comes to your health. Don't worry: Like health care providers, trainers must abide by codes of conduct and keep your health status confidential.

No one likes a complainer and, including a personal trainer. You see, to a personal trainer, complaining doesn't make sense. If you're paying someone to work you out and push you, then you have to expect to be worked out pretty hard. And why would you want to complain and impede your progress? In fact, complaining takes up precious time that a trainer can use for explaining proper form for an exercise or for general dietary advice. You wouldn't want to miss that important information, would you?

3) Making Excuses
Many people are busy and have trouble fitting in exercise. But once you commit to working out with a trainer, refrain from making excuses for missing a workout or overeating. Be honest as to why you missed a workout or what drove you to overeat. If a trainer doesn't know the full scope of your situation, then how can he or she help you? And, for most of us, let's be honest - excuses are what has kept us from reaching our full potential. It's really in your best interest to fess up as to why you did or didn't do something. It's all part of the learning process.

4) Lying
This point is closely related to "making excuses" except instead of saying that your dog ate your workout plan, you fib that you skipped a third glass of wine after dinner or you really did squeeze in that circuit workout—when you didn't. Personal trainers get it. No one wants to look bad or let down their trainer, but it's essential to tell the truth.

A good trainer is constantly modifying your workout plan to fit you. And if you're not telling the truth about your workout or eating plan, then a trainer isn't going to be able to adapt your fitness plan accordingly. And at the end of the day, you're paying a trainer to help you reach your goals, so by lying, you're the one you have to face at the end of the day.

5) Talking Too Much (Or Not Enough)
A trainer can only design your workout based on the information you give them. If you're as closed as a clam in chilly waters, then it's darn near impossible for a trainer to help you set goals that really matter to you. On the flip side, if you're a total chatty Cathy or gossipy Glen, then you really need to make sure that your conversations with your personal trainer stay on track and are about fitness, your goals and your health. A session with a personal trainer doesn't come cheap, and you need to make sure your time is being spent discussing your weight loss—not the neighbors down the street.

And, for the record, trainers can get frustrated when they have to keep redirecting you to the task at hand (read: working out).

6) Not Following Your Plan
Personal trainers create a workout plan for you for a reason. It may seem random, but they have a method to their cardio and strength routines. Trainers are not expecting you to do more than your plan calls for—or less. If you work out more than called for or eat less, it can really mess with your results. And, if you do too little, then you can't expect full results. Simply put, if you believed in a trainer enough to purchase their services, then believe in them enough to follow their advice!

7) Wearing Overly Baggy Clothes
This may seem like an odd point to make, but it's an important one. To properly correct form when lifting weights, a personal trainer must see the angles of your body. In a lunge, they need to make sure that your knee isn't going over your toes, and, if you're doing a triceps extension, they need to know that your chin is level. However, if you have on big, baggy sweatpants or a hooded sweatshirt, then they won't be able to tell if your form is as it should be. I know that you want to be comfortable at the gym, but for your safety, a personal trainer really appreciates when you have clothes that show your full form. Spandex isn't necessary, but a big oversize T-shirt isn't helping you—or your trainer!

To get the most out of your personal training sessions, fix these faux pas and you will be on the right path to reaching your goals—and get on your trainer's good side in the process!

Yoga Poses To Alleviate Back Pain

Find a quiet space with minimal distraction. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Use a yoga mat if you have one, but any flat, firm surface will work. Begin by sitting in a comfortable seated position for a couple of minutes. Close your eyes and simply pay attention to your breath, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.


Cat-cow is an effective way to relieve tension in the lower back, especially if you've been sitting or standing for a long period of time. It's also a great way to warm up the body. 
Kneel on all fours with shoulders directly over the hands and hips over the knees. The spine is in a neutral position. Inhale, tuck the toes under and arch the back. Keep the arms long as you lower the belly toward the earth, gently gazing upwards. As you exhale, untuck the toes, press the palms into the earth and round the back, gazing toward the navel. Repeat for five cycles and then return to a neutral spine. 


Bird-dog is an excellent way to build core strength. Begin on all fours. Extend the right leg directly behind you with the toes and hips pointing downward, keeping the spine long. Gently extend your left arm in front of you with your thumb pointing up to the sky. Inhale deeply. As you exhale, round the back, touching the opposite elbow to knee. Inhale and extend the arm and leg long. Repeat five times and then switch to the other side.


Downward facing dog stretches the spine, hips and hamstrings all at once. From all fours, tuck the toes under and lift the hips toward the sky, moving the body into an inverted "V" position. Allow the spine and legs to lengthen as you reach the heelstoward the ground (the heels don’t need to touch the ground). Make sure your legs are at least hips-width distance apart. If the hamstrings are tight, you can bend the knees. Hold the pose for five cycles of breath.


This is the perfect place from which to enjoy low back muscle relief. From downward facing dog, walk the feet up to the hands. Keep a bend in the knees (listen to your hamstrings!) and allow the torso to hang heavy over the legs. Hold opposite elbows with your hands and gently sway from side to side, keeping the core engaged. Hold the pose for five cycles of breath.


One of the best ways to increase stability in the back is to strengthen the core muscles. From forward fold, place your hands on the ground and walk the legs back into plank pose (the top of a push-up). Engage the leg and glute muscles while slightly tilting the pelvis under. To modify this pose, gently place the knees on the ground, keeping the spine long. Hold the pose for five cycles of breath.


Now it’s time to get serious about firing up those core muscles. From plank pose, press the left palm firmly into the earth. Pivot onto the outside edge of the left foot and inside edge of the right foot; reach your right hand toward the sky. Keep the hips lifted away from the ground. Hold the pose for five cycles of breath. Return to plank pose. Repeat on the other side. To modify, keep the bottom knee on the ground.


Strengthening the muscles around the back and glutes can also improve back stability. Gently lie down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hips-width distance apart, walking the heels in toward the bottom and keeping the arms by the sides. As you inhale, scoop the pelvis under and peel your hips up to the sky while pressing the feet and arms into the ground. As you exhale, roll the spine down, vertebra by vertebra. Repeat three to five times. 


Twisting can help to create more mobility in the spine. While lying on your back, bring the arms out into a “T” position, palms facing down. Gently lift the feet off the ground until the shins are parallel to the ground. As you exhale, let the legs fall over to the right side, doing your best to keep the left shoulder grounded, and turn your head to the left. Relax the legs completely. If you are experiencing a lot of tightness, slide the knees closer to your feet or place a yoga block, pillow or rolled up towel between your thighs. Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths. Inhale, engage the core and return the knees to center. Repeat on the other side. 


Opening the muscles around the hips can assist in low back pain relief. From a supine position with feet lifted, knees bent, and shins parallel to the floor, cross the right ankle over the left knee. Make sure the right ankle is flexed. To progress, thread the right hand through the space created between the thighs and clasp your hands behind your left thigh, opening the right hip, energetically pressing the whole unit of the legs away from you. If your hands do not reach to clasp, use a strap or towel between the hands. Hold for five breath cycles. Release the pose and switch sides.


Bringing the legs up the wall not only increases blood flow to the legs; it also allows the lower back muscles to completely relax. Lie on your back with your buttocks as close to the wall as possible and place your legs up the wall, relaxing your torso. If the hamstrings feel tight, move your buttocks away from the wall until the pose feels more easeful. Breathe and relax for one to five minutes.
To come out of the pose, scoot your buttocks away from the wall and roll onto your right side in a fetal position. Slowly make your way up to a seated position. Place your hands together in front of the heart, take a deep inhale through the nose, and a slow exhale through the mouth to complete your practice. Namaste!

Incredible Results You'll Get From Walking

1. Your mood will improve.

You know how sometimes it takes a glass of wine or a square (or three) of dark chocolate to blunt the edge of a rough day? Well, going for a walk is a zero-calorie strategy with the same benefits. Research shows that regular walking actually modifies your nervous system so much that you'll experience a decrease in anger and hostility. What's more, when you make your walks social—you stride with, say, your partner, a neighbor, or a good friend—that interaction helps you feel connected, which boosts mood. Finally, walking outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which can help stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—making it a potential antidote for the winter blues. 

2. Your creative juices will start flowing.

Whether you're feeling stuck at work or you've been searching for a solution to a tricky problem, research shows it's a good idea to get moving: According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can spark creativity. Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters.

3. Your jeans will get a little looser.

This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly. As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much. That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat. Walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition.  Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older. 

4. You'll slash your risk of chronic disease.

The statistics are impressive: The American Diabetes Association says walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes. Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee found that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%. One of the most cited studies on walking and health, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, found that those who walked enough to meet physical activity guidelines (30 or more minutes of moderate activity on 5 or more days per week) had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly. The physical benefits of walking are well documented. With impressive results like these, there's a good chance you'll get a pat on the back from your doc at your next checkup. 

5. You'll keep your legs looking great.

As we age, our risk of unsightly varicose veins increases—it's just not fair. However, walking is a proven way to prevent those unsightly lines from developing.  The venous system includes a circulatory section known as 'the second heart,' which is formed by muscles, veins, and valves located in our calf and foot. This system works to push blood back up to the heart and lungs—and walking strengthens this secondary circulatory system by strengthening and preserving leg muscle, which boosts healthy blood flow. If you already suffer from varicose veins, walking daily can help ease related swelling and restlessness in your legs, says Navarro.  Also, if you are genetically predisposed to have varicose and/or spider veins, walking daily can help delay the onset.

6. You'll start to get more "regular."

If you currently praise coffee for keeping your digestive system going strong, get ready to start thanking your morning walk instead. That's because a regular walking routine can greatly improve gastric mobility. One of the very first things an abdominal surgery patient is required to do is to walk because it utilizes core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in our GI system.

7. Your other goals will start to seem more reachable.

When you become a regular walker, you will have established a regular routine—and when you have a routine, you are more likely to continue with the activity and take on new healthy behaviors. We firmly believe that walking regularly can help you to accomplish other goals you set your mind to!

Secrets to Self Control

When it comes to self-control, it is so easy to focus on our failures that our successes tend to pale in comparison. And why shouldn’t they? Self-control is an effort that’s intended to help achieve a goal. Failing to control yourself is just that — a failure. If you’re trying to avoid digging into that bag of chips after dinner because you want to lose a few pounds and you succeed Monday and Tuesday nights only to succumb to temptation on Wednesday by eating four servings’ worth of the empty calories, your failure outweighs your success. You’ve taken two steps forward and four steps back.
With this success/failure dichotomy in mind, I give you six strategies for self-control that come straight from new research conducted at Florida State University. Some are obvious, others counter intuitive, but all will help you eliminate those pesky failures and ensure your efforts to boost your willpower are successful enough to keep you headed in the right direction for achieving your goals.

Self-Control Secret #1 – Meditate

Meditation actually trains your brain to become a self-control machine (and it improves your emotional intelligence). Even simple techniques like mindfulness, which involves taking as little as five minutes a day to focus on nothing more than your breathing and your senses, improves your self-awareness and your brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses. Buddhist monks appear calm and in control for a reason.

Self-Control Secret #2 – Eat

File this one in the counter intuitive category, especially if you’re having trouble controlling your eating. Your brain burns heavily into your stores of glucose when attempting to exert self-control. If your blood sugar is low, you are far more likely to succumb to destructive impulses. Sugary foods spike your sugar levels quickly and leave you drained and vulnerable shortly thereafter. Eating something that provides a slow burn for your body, such as whole grain rice or meat, will give you a longer window of self-control. So, if you’re having trouble keeping yourself out of the company candy bin when you’re hungry, make sure you eat something else if you want to have a fighting chance.

Self-Control Secret #3 – Exercise

Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. If you’re having trouble resisting the impulse to walk over to the office next door to let somebody have it, just keep on walking. You should have the impulse under control by the time you get back.

Self-Control Secret #4 – Sleep

When you are tired, your brain cells’ ability to absorb glucose is highly diminished. As I explained in Secret #1, your brain’s ability to control impulses is nil without glucose. What’s worse, without enough sleep you are more likely to crave sugary snacks to compensate for low glucose levels. So, if you’re trying to exert self-control over your eating, getting a good night’s sleep—every night—is one of the best moves you can make.

Self-Control Secret #5 – Ride the Wave

Desire has a strong tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. When the impulse you need to control is strong, waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control. The rule of thumb here is to wait at least 10 minutes before succumbing to temptation. You’ll often find that the great wave of desire is now little more than a ripple that you have the power to step right over.

Self-Control Secret #6 – Forgive Yourself

A vicious cycle of failing to control oneself followed by feeling intense self-hatred and disgust is common in attempts at self-control. These emotions typically lead to over-indulging in the offending behavior. When you slip up, it is critical that you forgive yourself and move on. Don’t ignore how the mistake makes you feel; just don’t wallow in it. Instead, shift your attention to what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.

Putting These Strategies to Work

The important thing to remember is you have to give these strategies the opportunity to work. This means recognizing the moments where you are struggling with self-control and, rather than giving in to impulse, taking a look at the Six Secrets and giving them a go before you give in. It takes time to increase your emotional intelligence, but the new habits you form with effort can last a lifetime.

Benefits of Infrared Saunas

As you might know, sweating is a great way to burn calories and rid your body of unwanted toxins. But how do you sweat when you’re injured, or unable to exercise?

Infrared saunas are a great way to sweat! Infrared saunas help your body release a number of toxins, including heavy metals like mercury and lead, and environmental chemicals. The benefits don’t stop there. With infrared sauna technology, you can also lose weight relax, relieve unwanted pain, increase your circulation, and purify your skin.

6 Benefits of Infrared Sauna Therapy

1. Detoxification

Sweating is one of the body’s most natural ways to eliminate toxins, making it a crucial part of detoxification. When compared to traditional Swedish saunas, infrared saunas allow you to eliminate about seven times more toxins.

2. Relaxation

Infrared sauna therapy promotes relaxation by helping to balance your body’s level of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. The heat generated by the sauna will also help to relax muscles and relieve tension throughout the body, allowing you to relax and de-stress.

3. Pain Relief

If you suffer from muscle aches or joint pain, infrared saunas can relieve this form of inflammation by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscles.

4. Weight Loss

The heat generated by an infrared sauna will cause your core temperature to increase, which can also lead to an increased heart rate — the same increase in heart rate that you experience when exercising. When your body has to work harder to lower your core temperature or keep up with an increased heart rate, your body will burn more calories, resulting in weight loss. An article, titled Effect of Sweating, in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that a 30-minute infrared sauna session could burn roughly 600 calories.

5. Improved Circulation

As the heat from infrared saunas increases your core body temperature, your circulation will increase along with it. Consistent infrared sauna sessions, especially in the middle-infrared level, can stimulate blood flow, improve muscle recovery, and decrease pain and inflammation after intense exercise.

6. Skin Purification

Infrared sauna technology can help purify your skin by eliminating toxins from your pores and increasing circulation, resulting in clearer, softer, and healthier-looking skin.

Infrared Levels

Infrared sauna treatments may be available at different levels: near, middle, and far.
These different levels represent the different sizes in infrared wavelengths and refer to the intensity of the treatment. Most people find that:

near-infrared levels are best for wound healing and increased immune function
middle-infrared levels are ideal for increasing circulation and promoting muscle relaxation
far-infrared levels are used primarily for detoxification purposes


If you’re new to infrared saunas, we would recommend starting out with 4-minute sessions at 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit and slowly working your way up to 15- to 30-minute sessions.

If an infrared sauna is not available, but you have access to a regular sauna, you can still achieve some degree of detoxification with 10- to 20-minute sessions at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit.  Our downtown Fitness With A View location has a sauna in both the men's and women's locker rooms!!!

Morton's Foot - Easy Detection

Morton’s Foot vs Morton’s Neuroma

Two conditions originating in the feet, but very different. Also, they were named after different doctors, yes, with the same last name. Both born in the 1800’s. Morton’s foot was named after an American orthopedic surgeon Dudley Joy Morton (1884-1960) while Morton’s Neuroma was named after US surgeon Thomas George Morton (1835-1903). 
This article explains Morton’s Foot and how to detect it.

What is Morton’s Foot?

The condition where a major supporting bone in the foot is shorter than it should be. There is a tripod structure in feet that provides even balance. The tripod consists of the top of a bone that lines up with the big toe, the top of a bone that lines up with the little toe, and the heel.  In the picture, these bones are yellow. They are called the metatarsals. The foot skeleton labeled with a number 1 has Morton’s Foot and the tripod is anchored off balance by shifting the support to the metatarsal head below the second toe. The number 2 skeleton has a balanced tripod. Morton’s Foot is a condition that one out of every four people are born with. 

Detecting Morton’s Foot

Morton’s Foot is easy to detect.  First, support the ball of your foot with your hand or another object the size of your fist that you can use to press the ball of your foot up and against your metatarsal heads (tops of the metatarsal bones). Second, curl your toes down. The metatarsal heals will show like your knuckles do when you make a fist.    
Now, look at the bones and see if they are in line with each other or if the metatarsal bone below the big toe is short. If it is, you have Morton’s Foot.

Correcting Morton’s Foot

Morton’s Foot is easy to correct.  The way to correct it is by slightly lifting the head of the short metatarsal bone underneath the big toe. One DIY method is to purchase Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Padding and cut out a quarter to a half dollar (depending on the size of the head of the metarsal) size piece of moleskin. Purchase Dr. Scholl’s Work Insoles or something similar and attach the moleskin to the underside of the insert right where the metatarsal head presses down. Be careful to not overlap the metatarsal head next to it. Don’t forget to use inserts with your sandals (Target has some inserts that are clear) and slippers, too.

Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is one area of heart health that needs to be regularly checked and regulated. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be affected by your overall weight, especially once you reach a body mass index score of 30 or higher. This score is classified as obese. Excess fat increases the work your heart has to perform to pump blood throughout your body. The harder your heart works, the more pressure is placed on the walls of your arteries, which can increase your risk for blood vessel damage. Lowering your body weight by even as little as 5 to 10 percent can lower your blood pressure and increase your heart health.

Cholesterol Levels

Controlling your cholesterol also plays an important role in heart health; it decreases your risks for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. The two main kinds of cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein -- LDL or the "bad" cholesterol -- and high-density lipoprotein -- HDL or the "good" cholesterol. The LDL cholesterol is found in foods high in saturated fat, especially animal proteins. When consumed in high levels, LDL cholesterol can build up in the bloodstream and calcify into hard plaque. This plaque makes it difficult for blood to circulate through the affected arteries, increasing your risk for cardiovascular damage.


Taking care of your heart also affects your circulation. Good circulation is needed to transport oxygen and nutrients to the many different cells in your body. Without proper circulation, tissues begin to die, which can result in amputations or even death, depending on what tissues are not getting enough oxygen. High blood pressure, cholesterol plaque and other heart diseases can all affect your body's ability to transport blood efficiently throughout your body.

Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

To keep your heart healthy, your body needs adequate amounts of exercise accompanied by a heart-healthy diet. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. A heart-healthy diet consists of the majority of your calories coming from vegetables, fruits and high-fiber foods like legumes and whole grains. These foods are accompanied in moderation by lean proteins, especially fish, as well as low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds.

Fitness Benefits of the BOSU Ball

Balance training
When the BOSU ball is positioned with the domed side facing the floor, it becomes an unstable surface, perfect for balance training. Using gym equipment during workouts usually means that you are constantly pushing or pulling on handles. Using the BOSU ball however will force you to stabilize your muscles as you go through the routine. This will improve balance while working the core muscles throughout the entire routine. This is a great way to make workouts more challenging.
Many people find it hard to stand up while balancing on the ball. This is one of the reasons why the BOSU ball is also used during rehabilitation treatment. The ball is a great piece of rehab equipment to help those with ankle injuries, post-op hip surgery, and back pain.
Flexibility training
When used dome side up, the BOSU ball can help improve flexibility. It’s a great way to perform stretching exercises. Laying face-up or face-down on the dome will allow the user to relax and stretch at the same time. Turn the ball dome-side down and use this slanting position to stretch your calves. Using the ball while kneeling or standing will provide a more challenging routine along with enabling a range of motion to standard stretching exercises.
Strength training
Because the BOSU ball is unstable when it is used dome-side down, users are forced to use more muscles, thereby improving overall strength. The use of this unstable platform works muscles that are usually unused during typical workouts. Routine exercises such as lunges, squats, lifts, and push ups can also be more intense when the ball is used. This result is more challenging workouts. along with more effective strength training.
The challenges and added intensity to workouts while using the BOSU ball will make your body adapt to new stimuli and keep workouts from being repetitive. So, if you are looking to strengthen your muscles while adding a little variety to your workout, give the BOSU ball a try today, or contact us to learn more about how we use it in our classes.

Benefits of Resistance Bands During Exercise

1.Incredibly Cost-Effective
Resistance bands are inexpensive and can be purchased for under $10. Even more extensive kits, which may include DVDs and other exercise equipment, can be found for under $40.

2.Adaptable for Multiple Fitness Levels
Whether you're a beginner or an expert, resistance bands are for you. They come in a variety of resistances, including light, medium and heavy, and you can further adjust the intensity of your resistance-band workouts by giving the band more or less slack. You can even use multiple bands at once to increase the challenge.

3.Used with Familiar Exercises
You can often use familiar strength training moves with resistance bands, which means you don't need to learn a complicated new routine. For instance, resistance bands can replace the weights you use for biceps curls, or can increase the intensity of your push-ups. 

4.Whole-Body Exercises
Resistance bands can be used for a comprehensive, full-body workout that challenges virtually every major muscle group in your body.

5.Save on Storage Space
Resistance bands take up virtually no space to store them, which means you can use them at home even if you have very little extra space. When your workout is done, simply stash them in a drawer until your next session.

6.Excellent for Traveling
Resistance bands are lightweight and easily portable. You can stash them in your suitcase when traveling and use them to get a good workout right in your hotel room.

7.Add Variety
Your muscles quickly adapt to movements you do often, which is why adding variety to your workouts is key for challenging your muscles. Resistance bands can be alternated with free weights and exercise machines for ongoing variety.

8.Easy to Use Alone
It's not a good idea to lift heavy weights without an exercise buddy, but resistance bands can be safely used on your own. They're ideal for exercising any time, at home or on the road.

9.Can Be Combined with Other Equipment
Resistance bands are so versatile that you can even use them along with weights, allowing you to get the benefits of two types of exercises at once.

10.An Effective Workout

Resistance bands are incredibly simple, but they're also extremely effective at working your muscles. Additionally, resistance-band training can help you boost stamina, flexibility, range of motion and more.

6 Causes of Fatigue

1. Diet
A balanced diet of real, whole foods plays a huge role in maintaining proper energy levels. The most common dietary issues that cause fatigue are:
Food sensitivities
Histamine reactions
Caffeine and sugar 

To optimize your diet and identify the foods that are triggering your fatigue, I recommend completing an elimination diet to determine which ones you are sensitive to.

2. Nutritional Deficiencies
Iron-deficiency and B-12 deficiency are fairly common causes of fatigue.
You can combat these nutritional deficiencies with a diet high in quality animal protein and colorful vegetables. I also recommend adding in iron or  B-12 supplements.
Furthermore, if you have one or more MTHFR mutation, your ability to convert B12 to its active form is reduced, I recommend a Methylation Support supplement. 

3. Infections
Gut infections such as Candida, parasites, and SIBO can all be underlying causes of fatigue. Other systemic infections, including reactivated Epstein-Barr or Lyme disease, can suppress the immune system and interfere with energy levels. If you have or suspect that you have one of these infections, you should treat them as soon as possible. 

4. Hashimoto's or Thyroid Dysfunction
Your thyroid powers every cell in your body through the hormones it produces and plays a huge role in your energy levels, body temperature, and metabolism.
So, as you can imagine, if you are low in these all-important thyroid hormones, you’ll experience fatigue and low energy.
The most common form of thyroid disease is Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks your thyroid, causing it to underproduce its hormones.
If you know or suspect Hashimoto’s may be causing your fatigue, check out the 4 Secrets to Beat Hashimoto's Symptoms that Your Doctor Will Never Tell You. 

5. Stress
In stressful situations, your body releases cortisol and a cascade of other hormones in order to help you overcome the stressor.
However, if you experience chronic stress you can deplete your stores of these hormones, putting you in a state of adrenal fatigue. And a side effect of adrenal fatigue, is actual physical fatigue.
To combat the effects of stress and adrenal fatigue I recommend practicing daily stress relief techniques, whether it’s meditation, yoga, or simply going on a walk or taking a relaxing bath. I also recommend taking an adrenal support supplement to relieve your symptoms while you restore healthy adrenal function.

6. Toxins
Having a high toxic burden is a strain on your body period, which can cause fatigue.
Here are four steps you can take to minimize your exposure to toxins on a daily basis:
Filter your air
Filter your water
Buy clean food
Buy clean body products (or make your own!)

Hit A Training Plateau? Try Negative Training

What Is Negative Training?
Negative rep training focuses on the negative, or eccentric, part of an exercise. It's the phase of the move where you are lowering the weight, not pressing it. An example is the stage of a squat when you're bending your knees and coming down to the bottom of the move or after you've pressed the barbell up in a bench press and are lowering it to your chest. This phase of the exercise should be slower and more controlled as you should being supporting and resisting the weight and not pushing it.

Build Mass
Negative rep training is useful for those who want to increase their muscle mass.  The technique overloads the muscles, helping to achieve hypertrophy. By overloading a muscle, you create small tears in its fibers and they rebuild larger each time, building up bigger and bigger muscles every time you challenge them.

Build Strength
When you use negative training at the beginning of your workout, you take advantage of your existing strength and rested muscles by pushing them to lift more. In his book on muscle and strength, James Stoppani notes that a lifter can resist 130 percent of his 1RM (the maximum amount of weight he can lift in one rep) when using negative rep training. By challenging your muscles in this way, you'll call upon more fast twitch muscle fibers to work through the lift. Your muscles will respond by rebuilding more and stronger fast twitch muscle fibers so that it can meet the challenge next time, building up your strength overall -- including the positive and concentric phase, not just in the negative portion of your exercises.

How to Negative Rep Train
If you want to give negative training a try, do it on the days when you have a lifting partner, someone who can help out during the positive phase of your exercises and be there to spot you during the negative phases. Typically negative training is accomplished by 1) adding manual resistance on the lowering phase of any lift 2) adjusting the weight lifted and lowered when using a selectorized plate machine (lighter when lifting and change to heavier when lowering), or 3) assisting your lifting partner through the concentric (lifting) phase with an amount of weight they could not lift on their own, and allowing them to lower the weight during the eccentric phase without assistance.  
You should do three or four sets that include negative reps, then perform two more sets of the same exercise reducing the weight to 75 percent of your 1RM while completing 10 to 12 reps.


Negative rep training is extreme, providing an intensity that you'll enjoy but also one that you'll feel in the days following your training. Give your body the rest it needs both between sets and between negative training days. Between sets, allow yourself about three minutes of rest before hitting the weights again. Rest periods between negative training workouts should be a full week -- that's right, an entire seven days. Be prepared for the muscle soreness you'll experience from negative training to be just as intense as the workouts are. You will eventually get used to them and the severity of the discomfort will decrease, Also, don't push yourself to train if you're not feeling 100 percent. Negative training after a viral infection can compromise your health, too.

Benefits of Superset Workouts

What is a Superset?
A superset is simply the action of performing two exercises back to back with no rest period in between. This increases the intensity of your workout since you’re going from one move to another without resting first. You might choose to do two exercises that work opposing muscle groups (biceps/triceps, hams/quads) or exercises that target the same muscle group. There are also “giant sets” which typically involves doing 3 exercises back to back. 

The Benefits

1. Speed up workout time. While not the most important benefit, it is nice to be able to speed up a workout, particularly when you’re crunched for time. Supersets allow you to get through your workout very quickly without skipping exercises.

2. Burn more calories. When doing supersets, you’re essentially doing double the work in the same amount of time that it would take you to do a straight set but you’re working through the usual rest period. With supersets you rest only after the superset is completed (not in between 2 straight sets). The intensity of your workout is increased which will help you burn more calories.

3. Raise growth hormone levels. Women do not carry as much testosterone in their bodies as men. This is the biggest reason why men typically have more muscle mass and why women tend to have more body fat. Men and women rely on growth hormones for muscle growth and recovery though women rely on them much more heavily. Increasing muscle mass is what will help your body to burn more fat and get lean. The GH levels increase following a weight training workout and actually increase even further following superset workouts. GH will trigger the release of fat cells which then travel to the muscles to be burned and used as energy. The perfect recipe for fat loss.

4. Great for cardiovascular health. While supersetting during strength training workouts shouldn’t be a replacement for cardio, it definitely brings the cardio into weightlifting!

Tips for Successful Superset Workouts

To get even more from your superset workouts there are some important things to know. These tips will help you get the most from your supersets.

You may need to drop the weight. If you’re used to lifting heavier, you might need to decrease the weight used if you’re doing supersets. Your muscles are going to tire more quickly and may not be able to lift as much as when you do straight sets.

Increase rest period. Although you aren’t going to rest until a superset is completed, you’ll need to rest a bit longer than you normally would. This will give your muscles the time they need to replenish the energy required to perform the supersets successfully. Aim for no more than 1 to 2 minutes of rest.

Change the order. It’s important to change the order in which you do the superset exercises. For example, if you’re doing a superset with opposing muscle groups (say, the hams and quads), don’t always do the hamstring exercise first.  Alternate and do the quadriceps exercise first from time to time to balance things out a bit.

Minimize time. When you’re performing a superset you should move from one exercise to the next with no rest. The only “rest” time you’ll experience is the time it takes you to go from one exercise to the next. After you’ve completed the superset, then it’s time to take a little rest. The faster you’re able to switch from one exercise to the other, the more benefit you’ll get from utilizing the superset training technique.

Adding supersets into your workout not only gets you out of the gym faster (saving you time) but you’re also upping the intensity and benefits to your cardiovascular health at the same time.

That’s a win-win!