Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White Bean Dip with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Red Peppers

White Bean Dip with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Red Peppers

1 TBSP  extra virgin olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and halved
1 can (15ozs) white beans, rinsed and drained
10 marinated sun-dried tomato halves, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 TBSP low fat mayonnaise
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chili powder or pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Parsley sprig, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450.  Spread half of olive oil over baking sheet; spread other half of oil evenly over skin sides of pepper halves.  Place peppers in single layer, skin side up, on baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, until soft and lightly browned on top.  Remove from over and cool.  Pull loose skin off peppers and discard; coarsely chop peppers.  Place in food processor or blender and puree.  Add beans, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, mayonnaise, oregano, cumin and chili powder or cayenne.  Process to smooth consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerated 1 hour before serving.  Garnish with parsley and serve with fresh, cut up vegetables or whole grain pita.  Keeps up to 3 days, tightly covered, in refrigerator.

Makes 2.5 cups.  Per serving (1 TBSP):  18 calories, <1g fat, 3 g carbs, 1 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 22 mg sodium.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to Carve out Time for Exercise

How to Carve out Time for Exercise

In a world with endless chores, meetings, committees, full e-mail in-boxes, kids activities and volunteering, it's no wonder people find it difficult to make time to exercise. Recommendations for adults stand currently at at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week (CDC), and two days of muscle-strengthening activity. That is equivalent to approximately 20 minutes per day. But, less than 2/3 of American adults are actually getting that amount of exercise (ACSM).  So, if you are not getting enough, you are in good company.  How do you change your habits to include exercise, and start getting what your body needs for optimal health?
  • Be Flexible: Split your exercise into two shorter sessions, or do a "home program"; an exercise video or set of exercises you can do with your body weight or simple equipment like a band or stability ball.  And if you can only fit in 10 minutes, do it, and do a couple of longer workouts on your days off when you have more time 

  • Add Workouts To Your Calendar: You should plan your workout for the day just like you map out your work day with business or family events. This allows you to prepare mentally and physically to start and complete the workout of your choice.
  • Have a Plan B: Have your alternative plans ready and on-hand, just in case you can't make it in time to your fitness class, or the weather forces you to skip your cycling outdoors.  And then see #1 regarding home workouts. 
  • Change Your Way of Thinking: Exercise isn't optional for you health.  You need to change how you think about it.  This is your time to focus on yourself and your quality of life.  You reap the benefits of the hard work by feeling better, having more energy and fitting into the clothes you love.  Your blood pressure decreases, as do your bad cholesterol levels and your health and vitality increase.  This is your insurance policy against some very prevalent chronic diseases.  Take advantage of it. 

  • Do What You Enjoy: The reality is, not everyone enjoys the same activities.  So forcing yourself to run for an hour if you hate it probably isn't a prescription for compliance long term.  Choose activities that you love, particularly those that you have a deep interest in (tennis, martial arts, cycling), or those that you loved as a child (dancing like Zumba).  This will help you stick with exercise because you will look forward to it.

  • Develop an Attitude:  I want you to be offended when someone asks you to skip your workout.  I want you to feel like they are taking something valuable away from you.  And they are.  So insist that the people around you understand how important this is to your overall health, and even try to enlist their help in your compliance by including them in your activities.  Your spouse could try a tennis lesson with you.  Your teen could attend a Body Pump class with you.  Put your baby in a stroller and get out there and walk!
It easy to forget how important this is in the dizzying array of tasks we do from day to day.  But a body in motion stays in motion, so keep moving!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Staying younger longer

This week, I've been reading articles, and learning a great deal about exercise, anatomy and all things work related.  I thought I would share a couple of the most interesting tidbits with you.
The first comes from a book I read several years ago called
It's a really interesting book about how metabolism works and how to maximize it for yourself.  But one of the most interesting bits was about research that was done on longevity.  Why do we fall apart as we get older?  It happens because the cells you are making are weaker than the cells they are replacing.  But, it isn't inevitable.  We can change this process by teaching our bodies how to make better cells.  And if you make 300 billion better cells today than you did yesterday, you are in essence getting younger, right?  Consistently done, you can improve your appearance, your strength, your stamina, immunity, sex drive, memory, mood, and attitude. 

So how to accomplish this?  Apparently a team of Italian gerontologists tried to find the answer for why some people seem to be healthy and active into their 80's and beyond.  Was it just luck?  Did smoking, diet, social class, marital status or any other factors play a role?  Turns out, no matter the other factors, the one thing keeping those folks acting young was muscle mass.  "In a study of 84 men and women aged 90-106 years, muscle mass was the most consistent longevity factor.  Biochemically, that's reflected in one thing:  anabolic metabolism." (G. Ravaglia et al., " Determinants of Functional Status in Healthy Italian Nonagenarians and Centenarians:  A Comprehensive functional Assessment by the Instruments of Geriatric Practice,"  Journal of the American Geriatics society 45, no. 10 (October 1997):  1196-1202.

When you increase your anabolic metabolism, you have more energy, burn fat, and gain muscle.  The muscle creates energy and makes the exercise easier and more enjoyable.  This creates an upward, rather than downward, spiral.  The operative word here is strength.  Strength enables us to survive--it's hardwired into our brains--fitness=survival.

Consider this:  "Whereas clinicians scratch their heads and wonder why osteoporosis (progressive weakening of the skeleton) cripples or kills more than a million Americans each year, the evolutionary biologist points out that bone strength is maintained by anabolic metabolism.  Lose anabolic drive and you lose more than bone density.  You lose strength and flexibility in joints, tendons and ligaments.  The loss of muscle mass starts the catabolic breakdown of all connective tissue."

So, what is the answer to stalling the aging process?  Exercise to maintain and increase muscle mass, thereby increasing anabolic metabolism, and keeping your body working at peak efficiency as long as possible.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Last night in my Body Pump class, a participant asked about an article regarding squats.  She said that the article said that squats were dangerous, and shouldn't be done, particularly for young athletes.  This is just as we were beginning the squat track. Oy.

So, I decided to look the article up today, to see what it actually said.  It talks about pars interarticularis stress fractures caused by squat presses.  Particularly, it speaks about young athletes, and how these can be exceedingly hard to heal. 

We have long known that any exercise can cause damage, so form is crucial, but the article states that even with perfect form, these can cause lifelong problems in young people.  But the paradigm in training, at least for my 12 year tenure, has been that weights with young people should be approached with extreme caution.  Body weight exercises are considered superior for training kids, and weights should be light, utilizing more reps and lower resistance. 

She did mention that the article said no one should do squats.  Well, no, that's not what it says.  It states the following:  "Rao, a professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, would not go so far as to say squats should not be done at all, but athletes, especially younger ones, need to be cautious, he said.  Doctors said doing a similar type of exercise without weight is much less likely to cause pars stress fractures."

So, what do I think of the squat press as an exercise?  I think it works, and this is why it continues to be done, even though there is some risk involved in any exercise.  Having a bar on your upper back does add to the force on the spine, and if you have spinal stenosis or disc issues, you should have the bar in front as support (like a third leg), and not on your back.  Same goes for holding the bar in front--it still increases the force on the spine, so for those with back issues, use your body only, and have a professional assess your form. 

Proper form for a squat:  feet at shoulder width or slightly wider, with weight in your heels, shoulders down and back, abs braced.  Slowly lower your body down, your bottom does shift back, the back stays straight, and your knees stay behind your toes.

Making modifications is a crucial part of making exercise a part of your life!  Make the modifications necessary to make the exercise work for you.

For the original article here is the link: