Thursday, May 30, 2013

2nd most preventable cause of death

Smoking is the #1 preventable cause of death.
Do you know what #2 is?
Top Nine Preventable Causes of Death,
Journal of American Medical Association, 2004
Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise!
Of course I'm a big running advocate, but heck any type of physical activity is better than nothing at all. The American Heart Association promotes any physical activity - walking up the stairs, vacuuming, gardening, heck - even dusting is considered a physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine encourages exercise - specifically 150 minutes of exercise per week, or 300 minutes of exercise per week for an increased benefits, like losing weight. 
I think this can be daunting to someone who has never exercised. 
If you think this is daunting, here is the secret to success:
Make weekly goals, and make these weekly goals really, really small and manageable - don't worry about how small they are - you can build on these goals, every other week. So, if 150 minutes of exercise seems like too much, start out with two 10 minute sessions per week. After doing these 10 minute sessions for a couple of weeks, increase the time to two 15 or 20 minute sessions per week. After a couple of weeks, and a bit of confidence that you can do these two sessions every week, add a third session in, and so on and so forth. Of course, if you have any health problems you should always consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
The BIG question ...
The one I get asked a lot:
Is running better than walking?
Well, I just read an article in the Times about this.
I'm a big Gretchen Reynolds fan, but I hafta admit, at first, I was a little disappointed that Ms. Reynolds would pit running and walking against each other. My philosophy is if you're moving, it's better than nothing at all (Re: Chart pictured above). If this means walking - keep walking, baby! If this means running, I'll see you out there!
Anyway, turns out running and walking both have some great benefits. 
I knew Ms. Reynolds wouldn't let me down!
Running has some interesting benefits, especially for those looking to lose weight. The differences were really noticeable amongst the 55 years and older age group. Interestingly, it wasn't that the runners were burning more calories than the walkers - because the study kept this as constant to compare apples to apples. So why did the runners have a lower BMI and a smaller waist circumference?
Hormones!
Runners had higher blood levels of a hormone, peptide YY, which suppresses appetite.
But don't abandon your walking routine. 
Both running and walking can equally diminish risk of age-related cataracts. Just remember to wear those sunglasses when you're out there walking and running because they help block the sun's rays, which also helps lower risks for cataracts.
AND ...
Both running and walking can help reduce the risk of 
high blood pressure, cholesterol, 
diabetes, and heart disease.
So,
Don't become a statistic
Get up and move!
Train Smart Today!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May's Grain of the Month: Amaranth

I just bought some amaranth. 
I'm experimenting with different grains after learning about the website, Whole Grain Council. This past winter, I found out about the Whole Grain Council Website after doing some research for Heidi Skolnik, a Sports Nutritionist. Heidi did a one, two, three part series on Dr. Oz highlighting different grains used around the world. I announced some of those grains on my blog, as they were celebrated during each month by the Whole Grain Council. There was barley in February,  quinoa, in March, and Teff, which is celebrated in November, but I shared it in February - I was trying to show the directors interviewing me for the dieteic internship position that I was working with Ms. Skolnik. Do you believe  they would not take a direct letter of recommendation from her because I had already completed my on-line dietetic applications, and already had four recommendations? Apparently four is the legal limit!
Well, May is the month that the Whole Grain Council celebrates amaranth!
So, I bought some.
Amaranth has a nutrition profile sort of similar to grain, but like quinoa and buckwheat, it is a pseudo-cereal. Amaranth, and all pseudo-cereals, are great to use if you are sensitive to gluten, or have a gluten allergy and suffer from Celiac Disease.
This makes celebrating and buying amaranth in May
even more worth it!
Some cool things about amaranth is that it contains about 3X more calcium and fiber, and 5X more iron than other grains. It is also the only grain known to contain vitamin C! 

Amaranth is full of protein, about 13-14%. This is not just any protein. Amaranth contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it only second to soy, as an excellent source of a complete plant protein! For nearly the same calories as brown rice, you get double the protein with amaranth. I bought amaranth because I liked that it was a plant version of a complete protein - that demands a little respect!

I thought it was cool that amaranth contains lysine, an amino acid that is usually missing from traditional grains. Lysine helps strengthen collagen fibers. Tendins are made from collagen - and with my problematic tendinosis - which has de-railed my competitive edge since late December - I need to vary my grains and add in some that will work for me.
I think these can work for me!
Dulce de Alegria/Amaranth Bars
Yummy!
Amaranth also contains a special cancer-preventing molecule, a lunasin-like peptide, which is currently being studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are trying to see if these anti-inflammatory properties can help people suffering from hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. So far, research has identified amaranth as a cholesterol-lowering grain.
So what am I going to do with it?
I found a Toasted Pilaf recipe for amaranth on the Dr. Weil site, 
and I'm going to try it.
Looks tasty!
Do you have any amaranth recipes?
I heard it can be heated, and popped, like corn? 
Have you done this? If so, would you recommend doing this?

Train Smart Today!

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Symbolic Moment

On Friday, May 10th, 
the spire topped 
One World Trade Center 
bringing this new iconic structure 
to a total height of 1,776 feet!
This height, 1,776 feet, is the year USA became a country (Why did my kids look at me like I made that up? Don't they know this?). This makes One World Trade the tallest building in the western hemisphere, and the third-tallest in the world. The tallest building, Burj Khalifa, is located in Dubai, UAE and is an amazing 2,717 feet tall! The second tallest building, Makkah Royal Clock Tower, is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and is an astonishing 1, 971 feet tall!
One World Trade,
Awaiting her spire
The spire is 408 feet tall and weighs 758 tons. 
Spire hoisted up for placement
Talk about pressure!
Everyone is watching,
and all of One World Trade is glass!
Plus, this guy is counting on you!
Just keep taking deep breaths!
The tower has LED-powered lights that can be seen from miles away, and it will serve as a "World-Class" broadcast antenna and a permanent symbol of our country's strength.
Makes you want to chant, "Go, go, go, go!
One World Trade, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is expected to open for business in 2014. The LED lights will be activated in the next few months, and will be able to be seen for tens of miles away. The Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler stated that the lights will change color, and will "be a beacon of hope just like the Statue of Liberty."

Almost there!
When One World Trade was being donned with its beautiful spire, it was definitely a symbolic moment. There were many men and women who worked tirelessly to build this as a tribute for the people who were killed on 9/11. I read that they were crying watching the spire positioned in place.
Can you imagine, iron workers crying? 
These guys walk fearlessly on small I-beams a thousand feet in the air. 
Wow!
And, thank you!
I do believe it's a symbol of resiliency, and hope in freedom for all ...
Ready?
Set.
Go!
BUT ...
I cannot help think there's something else. Okay, maybe just a little Cee-Lo-Green-ish. Okay, I'm just gonna say it ...no filter: Let's call a spade a spade, and stop sugar coating this ...
It's definitely
THE biggest middle finger ...
ever!
Our new skyline: 5/13/2013
Train Smart Today!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma

Sometimes you wonder if anyone is in charge up there?
Not to be disrespectful, 
but the massive amounts of natural disasters suffered by our country, 
as well as the horrific terrorist attacks, 
just turns my brain upside down.
Not Quite Getting It.
My heart goes out to the families suffering in Oklahoma.
I saw this report by the Huffington Post and decided to pass it on. 
It lists ways you can help the people of Oklahoma:
How To Help Oklahoma After Tornado Devastates Area
Aerial View of a Neighborhood
Praying for the people of Oklahoma.

Train Smart Today!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hot Coals!

I spent some time on the track yesterday. Not what I expected, but I pushed out eight quarter miles at a sub 7 minute pace. If I weren't so congested, I think I would have felt better running ...I was really out of breath. Weird thing, though, it didn't affect my heart rate - just my perceived effort.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of training next to Speed Racer (notice how I did not say that I was training "with" Speed Racer). Speedy past me laughing because I was coughing and sounded like an old man who smoked for years.  She, of course doesn't even need to breathe when she is running.
I'm not joking! 
She looks like a gazelle when she runs - like there's no effort, it's simply a walk in the park. Same with the man who past me as if I were standing still.
Talk about a blow to the old ego.
Anyway, even though my strides were about two seconds off, my interval pace was a little better. All in all, I'm really glad the congestion is finally breaking up. Afterward, I did 100 squats, 100 walking lunges, 50 jump squats, 50 push-ups, and some fast feet drills. I think that's why my legs feel a bit stiff and heavy, today.
Even so, 
I still managed to push out 4 miles today.
At a decent pace, I might add!
I really shortened my stride going up that one hill that's been killing me. If you've been following me, you know that I've had no strength going uphill. It's all part of this tendinosis/proximal hamstring strain. Today, I did something different. I read it somewhere, I think it was an Active.com suggestion, to help step lighter, and increase your pace, run like you are stepping on hot coals, or like a stone skipping across the water.
Yeah, I was just imagining hot coals to go faster,
this person is actually on hot coals.
Q: Why does it look like he's walking?
Anyway, going up that hill, I kept thinking that I was stepping on hot coals. I concentrated on feeling lighter, a little bouncier sort of like ....a gazelle!
Well, the hot coals seemed to work. 
I shaved about 30 seconds off my time on my dreaded hill!
Don't you love when something you try, actually works?
Do you use any mental images to help you run faster, better, stronger?
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Training, and more training!

Two more finals on Monday, and I'm done with my post grad certification in dietetics!
I can't wait to start my dietetics internship in September!
In the meanwhile, I've been getting stronger and working toward entering some 1/2 marathons come June. I got my 100 meter sprints down to 18 seconds. So, since starting this new training routine, I have officially shaved 8 seconds off my sprint time! Woohoo!

I still have problems going up hill. I'm about 30 seconds slower overall - on a good day - on a flat road. As soon as I hit a hill, forget it. I slow down like my sneakers were dunked in thick molasses.
Ech!
And the other day, on the track, I had speed, but no speed endurance. I could feel my legs slowing down. It was like going uphill. IDK. I've been doing an insane amount of squats, jump squats, lunges, jump lunges, and burpees. Maybe my legs are a little tired? At least my butt is ready for the summer & bikini-wear!
There is one exercise I really do not like.
I do it, but keep the weight light.
The dreaded ...
Deadlift!
Not a fan!
I do it because it was prescribed as a way to help reduce my problems with hamstring tendinopathy. I can feel it in my upper glutes and my lower back, but for like a day or two, my lower back is really sore. Maybe this is the underlying problem - a weak link from low back to foot strike?
Do you have a dreaded exercise?
Or any recommendations for me?

Anyway, tomorrow is Mother's Day, and I am looking forward to a nice slow run. Right now it's teaming rain, so I hope it washes away all the pollen, cools the temperature down a bit and brings on a nice crisp, non-humid sunny Mom's Day! I hope the same for you, too!
Happy Mother's Day!
and
Train Smart Today!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Food Facts: A winning recipe!

About 5 months ago, I bought a juicer, the Vitamix 5200. 
One of the RD's at work brought in some freshly made spinach, banana and blueberry juice. It was pretty good. I got to thinking that maybe this wouldn't be so bad for me. When my Crohn's acts up, I'm supposed to eat a low residue/low fiber diet - so there's less pain, cramping, less pooping - better yet no diarrhea (there, I said it)!
This means avoiding things like fruits and vegetables, 
which I absolutely L-O-V-E!
So delicious!
Not to change the subject, but one of the students in my class the other day gave a presentation on her "counseling experience". We all had to counsel a volunteer for 5-weeks, and depending on their goals and their nutrition habits, we made suggestions. Anyway, this one student had a volunteer/client that had never eaten carrots or cucumbers! Isn't that sad? Could you imagine?

Anyway, with the juicer, I got to thinking ...
'If I juiced some fruits and veggies, 
with some yogurt, 
maybe it would be easier for me to digest them.'
Then, no pain, no gas, no big "D"
It's been working out great! After my long Sunday runs, and work outs, the juice is a great source of whey protein (yogurt) and I get all my electrolytes. I've even used my juicer when I've been too busy to eat lunch, and I find myself starving in the middle of the afternoon. At that point, if I ate lunch, I would be doubled over. Now, I juice, and I'm fine!

I know it's not for everyone. Even my kids are like, "I'm sure it tastes fine, Mom, but I'll pass." Well, at least they know what a carrot and cucumber tastes like!

So, I've been playing around with recipes, but this is my all time favorite:
My Winning Recipe
1 Tbs ground flax seed
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup rasberries
1/2 cup coconut water
3/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
2 cups baby spinach
1 beet
1 banana
1 navel orange
2-3 carrots
1.5 cups ice

Then, today, I read that beet juice may help lower your blood pressure. The report stated that "consuming vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, like leafy greens (aka spinach) or beetroot, is a lifestyle approach that could easily improve cardiovascular health." That's because our body's take the nitrate and convert it into a chemical called nitrite, and then to nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide is a gas that widens blood vessels and aids blood flow! 

This winning recipe would even be a great pre-race drink! 
But, if you plan on doing this, keep in mind that the effects were shown to be most pronounced 6 hours after drinking the beet juice. Even so, the effects were found to still be present after 24 hours!

Apparently, the healthier you are, the less nitrates you need to cause the blood dilating effect. If you are suffering from high blood pressure, the report advises drinking the juice of 2 beets per day, or eating (or juicing) veggies high in nitrates. 
Don't forget the USDA recommends 5-A-Day.
That's 5 servings of fruits & vegetables per day. 
For more information 
And
Train Smart Today!