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Want to get fit? Exercises that involve things you already have in your house

The weather is extreme in many parts of the country and it’s easy to come up with an excuse not to make it to the gym. Here is a great video that demonstrates exercises you can do at home with things you may have lying around the house. You can string them all together for a great circuit workout. Note that if you don’t have the furniture coasters, you can substitute paper plates under your heels for the hamstring exercise, (or small towels if you are on a hard floor). Get creative and keep moving!

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Want to get fit, but don’t have time to go to the gym? Our fitness expert, BJ Gaddour, joins Studio A with a workout you can do with things you already have in your  house.

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Understanding Protein

If you’re confused about how much protein you need per day, you’re not alone. There’s not a cut-and-dried answer. Everyone has a different “need” depending on gender, weight, activity level and goals.

I’ve been doing a lot of research to try to answer this question for myself. There is a lot of information out there. Here is the lowdown on what I found.

What is the RDA for protein:

The purpose of the RDA guidelines is to inform you how much of a specific nutrient your body needs on a daily basis to function properly. So basically, depending on your weight and activity level, the RDA for protein can be viewed as the minimum requirement to keep you healthy.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein for men is 56 grams per day and 46 grams per day for women.

Chances are you may need more. But how much more and why?

What is Protein?

Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, making up roughly 20 percent of your total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein. Also, protein plays a major role in all of the cells and most of the fluids in your body.  Although your body is good at “recycling” protein, you use it up constantly, so it is important to continually replace it.

Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids. Your body can produce some of these amino acids, but others must be consumed through the diet. Animal products (meat, eggs, dairy) and many plant foods are good sources.

Follow this link to see what’s included in the protein food group:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods.html#

Protein and Weight Loss

When you want to gain muscle and lose fat, eating the right amount of protein is key. Protein and the amino acids that make it up are required for two main reasons.

1) To construct muscle – they are the building blocks

2)  They act as a switch to ‘signal’ that it’s time to start up the “muscle building machinery”.

Leucine is probably the most important amino acid that stimulates this “switch” and is highly present in protein rich food.

Because protein is required to build muscle AND to signal the body to start this process, it’s important to spread out protein consumption evenly throughout the day.

How Much Do You Need?

“When it comes to building muscle and losing fat, research consistently shows that doubling the RDA spaced out throughout the day is the path you want to take to get the best results the fastest”. (BJ Gaddour, “Men’s Health, Your Body is Your Barbell”). This seems like a good rule of thumb in general. Let’s see what other people say.

Nutritionists use a standard to estimate your minimum daily protein requirement.

Multiply the body weight in pounds by .37.

Using this formula, a 150 lb. man would require a minimum of 55 grams of protein per day. This falls right in with the RDA.  And if you’re very active and exercise frequently, professionals agree you can nearly double this requirement. Be advised, though, if you’re shooting for a gram of protein per pound of body weight, or more, you’re probably overdoing it. The extra protein will not necessarily benefit you. Also, that’s a lot for the body to process and the extra calories will most likely end up as fat.

To look at it another way, it is recommended that 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein. This is a rather large range and where you fall in it also depends on your weight and activity level. For a  diet of 1800 calories per day, this means anywhere from a minimum of 45 grams of protein to over 150 grams of protein per day. That 35% is a pretty high number and may be overdoing it for a lot of people. In my diet, I lean towards around 20% protein.

So you see, there are various rules of thumb to figure out the ideal protein for you.

Tracking the Protein Grams you Eat

Many foods contain protein, but at the end of the day, how do you know how much you’ve consumed?

Here is an easy rule of thumb:

Remember the numbers 1, 5, 10, 15, 25 to roughly estimate protein intake.

That’s:

  • 1 gram of protein for every serving of fruit and vegetables
  • 5 for every egg or handful of nuts you eat
  • 10 for every cup of milk or yogurt
  • 15 for every cup of beans or half-cup of cottage cheese
  • 25 for every 3-4 ounce serving of meat

Protein and Exercise Recovery

After a workout your body switches immediately from performance mode to recovery mode. It’s important to rebuild broken down muscle so you can come back stronger in your next training session. It is a great idea to refuel with protein right after your workout. Try a protein shake. Whey is a rapidly digested protein source loaded with leucine that will help maximize muscle recovery and growth.

Nutrient Timing: Exercise Recovery and Carbs

I found an extra helpful tidbit in my research about muscle recovery and carbs.

Nutrient timing is the concept that certain foods benefit your body more at specific times of the day than at others. After exercise, your muscles want to restock their supply of carbohydrates in the form of  glycogen. This is the time that your muscles are primed to take in the carbs you eat. In fact, after exercise is one of the few times carbs are preferentially transported to your muscles and away from your fat cells.

It’s a great idea to plan your starchiest meal of the day within 2 hours of your training. This could be breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on when you workout.

Your other meals of the day should consist of protein and nutrient dense carbs and vegetables.

A Few Last Words…

I hope this helps answer some questions you have about protein or got you thinking more about nutrition. As a trainer I am all about the workout but honestly, 75 – 80% of the weight loss equation concerns what you put in your mouth.

Wishing you much success!

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http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/protein-guide-maximum-muscle#sthash.cEiKJ5O5.dpuf

http://www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/authors/jeff+s+volek+phd+rd/showarticle.aspx?articleid=807

 

 

Germs and the Gym

It’s the end of January. You’ve finally got yourself into a little workout routine and maybe you’re starting to make some progress and see some results. This makes you happy. You should be! This is hard work! And just when you’re starting to believe you will see your goal, BAM, you get the plague.

This scenario is all too familiar to me! And it raises the question, “Should you work out if you’re not 100%”?

I have a definite opinion on this, but only because I repeatedly made the same mistake for years until I learned to listen to my body.

But before you hear from me:

What do the Doctors say?

If you google this subject you will find that doctors generally agree it’s ok to workout if you’re symptoms are “above the neck”. Imagine symptoms associated with the common cold including a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and watery eyes. If you have “below the neck” symptoms, hacking cough, chest congestion and/or tightness, then it’s advisable to take some time off. Also, they advise against working out at all if you have a fever, feel fatigued or have widespread muscle aches.

While this medical ‘guidance’ is helpful it’s really not that cut and dry. People are different. Circumstances are different. You have to know yourself.

What I’ve learned:

The best way to get my point across is to give you an example.

A few years ago I was deep in my training when I got cold symptoms. I know a lot of people who don’t slow down for a cold. I decided to follow their example. The result for me? I believe I was responsible for giving myself pneumonia!

I have asthma, so I’m not like ‘a lot of people’ when it comes to the common cold. I didn’t always have asthma though. I developed it as an adult, so I had a lot to learn!

The first thing I learned is that dangerous illnesses can stem from a simple germ and feed on stubbornness. I didn’t ‘want’ to take a break. Heaven forbid I miss a workout! There were two things I didn’t realize. First, my body was laboring much harder doing a familiar workout because I wasn’t well. Second, my body was already working hard to get better. A lose, lose situation!

A simple cold turned into pneumonia because I refused to rest. I was out for weeks.

If you won’t do it for yourself, think about the other guy.

I truly believe that whenever I get the plague it’s from the gym (or shopping cart handles, but that’s another blog). No one who goes to the gym wants a germ infested person contaminating all the equipment. In my opinion, if your nose is all runny and you’re sneezing everywhere, you should definitely stay home no matter what the internet says.

The final question.

I’ve learned that if you have to keep asking yourself, “Should I work out, I’m not really feeling great,” the answer is “NO, you should not work out.” Give yourself a break. You will probably recover faster with a little rest and may just prevent your fellow gym friends from catching your plague.

Everyone wins!

Enjoy the Journey

One of my favorite things to do is participate in various races as part of a team. I’m not talking just 5k’s, (although with a group these can be fun too). I’m referring to races that are really different, challenging and new to everyone in the group. It’s especially fun when all the participants are a little anxious and scared going in, but everyone overcomes their fear together. Winning isn’t the goal. It’s comradery, recreation and just plain fun!

My first race of this kind was in 2008.  It was the Orange County Adventure Race and our team name was “Pigs Might Fly”. They might have that day! The race was a combination of running, rowing a full mile in a little rubber boat we had to blow up as part of the race, and biking, all the while searching for and deciphering clues of where to go next. By the time we crossed the finish line, half of the other teams had already gone home! But that wasn’t the point. We finished and it was fun! All of us overcame one fear or another. Would any of us have done this  alone? Never!

Pigs Might Fly

In 2010 I signed up for the Irvine Lake Mud Run with my daughter and my friend from the gym.  We weren’t an official team but ran together as individuals. This kind of race was new to all of us. In fact, I can honestly say we all tried to stay as clean as possible. I wasn’t sure I wanted mud in my ears or my nose. I remember getting ‘Booed’ by some spectators because I lifted a rope so I didn’t have to submerge any part of my face. Whoops! People are so serious! Oh well, it was a great first mud run and it wet my whistle for more!

2010 Mud Run

Mud Run 2010 After

In 2012 I did the Irvine Lake Mud Run a second time. Our team was, “Mud Up Wit Dat?’ and consisted of myself, my son, my daughter and her fiancee. I was happy to be part of an official team and to celebrate I had t-shirts made up sporting our name. My daughter and I were “seasoned” mud runners (Haha!) but this was the first mud run for the guys on our team.  Let’s just say they really brought it and made us girls step up our game a little. It brought a whole new element. Everyone got totally muddy! It was super challenging but a ton of fun. Comradery with a little competition is an excellent combination!

Mud Run 2012

Mud Run 2012 Finish

This brings me to 2013! We kept our team “Mud Up Wit Dat?” but added a new member, my husband. He works out consistently but he’s not the type to jump into a race like this. The fact that he did and had a great time proves the point I’m trying to make. Great memories like this are made by going for it; by joining forces, supporting one another and throwing all fear and anxiety out the window.

guys

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I am always a little nervous before every race like this because of the unknown, but I never let it stop me. I think it’s thrilling!

guys 2

2013 Mud Run finish

This was the most challenging mud run yet but we all had a blast doing it. Enjoying the journey, that’s what it’s all about!

What Drives You?

Is there a certain something that adds excitement to your life? That floats your boat? That tickles your fancy? I have a passion for physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.  It wasn’t always that way though. I’ve evolved over the years and it’s been a pretty radical change.

Growing up, physical activity meant recreation: softball, tennis, volleyball and bowling. It was whatever my friends were doing. It was whatever organized activity could fill my Saturday morning or after school. It was social.

As a teenager I occasionally went to the Elaine Powers exercise studio with my mom. It was there I fell in love with movement to music and I discovered aerobics. We also did a lot of doggy type exercises on all fours which I didn’t like as much. Knee up, extend leg out, in and down…up, out, in and down. If you’ve ever done them, or seen them done, you know what I mean. I only did them in class and if people were watching, unlike my mom who did them faithfully everyday at home. She had a different goal than I did at the time. I only did what I liked.

When I was married with children and we were dirt poor, Jane Fonda became my best friend. Well, her VHS tapes did anyway. I was desperate to get the weight off and she was the one who helped me. I actually dressed for the part too. You couldn’t work out with Jane Fonda without a proper leotard, even if no one’s watching. (Leg warmers were optional).

When times got better financially I joined the gym and took every aerobics class I could find. I found it helped me reduce stress. It made me happy. I did high impact, low impact, and then I discovered kickboxing. I loved it all.

My focus changed again when someone in my life got a horrible illness. Watching such a strong personality have to fight for her life made me angry and I released this aggression at the gym. It wasn’t fair! I felt my intensity soar as I imagined destroying the cancer with punches and kicks. Take that! Go away!

After I lost this person my focus changed again and I viewed working out as a gift. I was healthy  enough to do it. Not everyone was. I decided to enjoy this gift and also make myself as strong as possible so I’d be ready to fight anything that might come up in my own life. I began strength training around this time.

Then I lost my mother way too early to ill health. This was devastating beyond belief. I realized that just making myself physically stronger wasn’t enough. I had to help others too. Movement still makes me feel amazing, but there’s so much more to it than that. You can’t change your genetics or your family’s health history, but there are things within your reach that you can control to be a healthier you. In my opinion, diet and exercise are key. They are nonnegotiable!

My love of fitness started out as recreation, then it was for fun, stress relief, weight control, aggression release, then it became a gift and finally a passion for myself and to help others.  I am definitely a product of my experience! I’m driven to help people be the healthiest they can be. That’s what floats my boat!

All About Vitamin A

Vitamin A – How Much Do You Need?

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin. If you’re like most Americans, you get an adequate amount in your diet. Like other fat soluble vitamins, the majority of your body’s vitamin A is stored in the liver and released into the bloodstream as needed. Once you establish your fat soluble vitamin stores, you can go up to months at a time without consuming more.

The RDA for Vitamin A:

  • for males 14 and older – 900 micrograms RAE
  • for females 14 and older – 700 micrograms RAE
  • for pregnant women – 770 micrograms RAE
  • for lactating women – 1,300 micrograms RAE

Why is Vitamin A Important?

Vitamin A is crucial for vision, for maintaining healthy cells (especially skin cells), for fighting infections and strengthening the immune system, and for promoting growth and development, including maintenance of healthy bones.

Sources of Vitamin A

Dietary vitamin A can come from both animal and plant foods.

Vitamin A in animal products

Vitamin A comes from animal food sources in the form of retinoids. These foods include:

  • Liver and fish liver oils (i.e., cod liver oil)
  • Milk fat (as in whole milk, butter, egg yolks and other dairy products)
  • Foods fortified with vitamin A: margarine, some breakfast cereals, reduced fat milk

Your body absorbs about 75% of retinoids consumed in the diet.

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Vitamin A intake comes from fruits and vegetables in the form of carotenoids. The best sources of carotenoids are dark green, yellow-orange and red fruits and vegetables.  The body converts the colorful pigments into Vitamin A once eaten. Carotenoids are called provitamins because they don’t actually become active vitamins until your body absorbs them.

Beta-carotene (the yellow-orange pigment) produces the most vitamin A of any of the carotenoids, about one-third of your total vitamin A. The body absorbs provitamins less efficiently than the retinoids found in animal products.

Some good sources of carotenoids:

  • Sweet potato – baked in the skin
  • Carrots, cooked
  • Collards, cooked
  • Spinach, cooked
  • Pumpkin, cooked
  • Cantaloupe
  • Melon
  • Tomatoes
  • There are numerous others, just think yellow, orange, red and deep green

A few minutes of cooking breaks down some of the chemical bonds in food. This helps release carotenoids and makes them easier to absorb in your system. For example, you will absorb about 2 times more nutrients from a cup of slightly cooked spinach versus 3 cups of raw spinach. Be careful not to cook it too long, however, because the longer you cook it, the more vitamins you lose.

Other Cool Facts About Carotenoids

  • They are antioxidants
  • They boost your immune system
  • They can reduce risk of age-related degeneration of the eye and risk of cataracts
  • They can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Dietary fat, protein and vitamin E enhance carotenoid absorption, but dietary fiber reduces its absorption

So be sure to eat your yellow, orange, red and deep green fruits and vegetables!

Vitamin A Deficiency

Dietary vitamin A deficiency is rare in North America and western Europe, but is the leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. Also, vitamin A deficiency has been shown to slow growth and development and leads to bone deformities.

In the United States, those at risk for vitamin A deficiency include:

  • Newborns (due to lack of vitamin A stores in their liver)
  • Those with alcoholism or liver disease
  • Those who suffer from fat-malabsorption syndromes
  • Those who suffer from anorexia nervosa
  •  Those with an inadequate intake of zinc (which is required for the body to use Vitamin A efficiently)

There are various symptoms of vitamin A deficiency, but if caught quickly they can be reversed.

  • Vision: Night blindness (the inability of the eyes to adjust to dim light or to regain vision quickly after exposure to a flash of bright light) is an early symptom. If the deficiency worsens color blindness and then permanent blindness can result.
  • SkinYour skin cells are the first line of defense protecting your body and they are destroyed and replaced rather quickly. Vitamin A is needed for this rapid cell turnover. Signs of vitamin A deficiency show up early in the skin.
  • Other CellsVitamin A deficiency can disrupt the cells ability to produce mucous.  This particularly affects the mouth, respiratory tract, urinary tract and male and female reproductive processes.  Also, if the affected cells are located near sensory receptors, you can lose your sense of smell and taste.
  • Immune Function: Vitamin A deficiency leaves a person highly susceptible to bacterial, parasitic and viral infections. People with severe vitamin A deficiencies have such impaired immune systems that simple infections can be hazardous.

Too Much Vitamin A is Toxic

It’s highly unlikely that you will overdose on vitamin A through your diet alone. A healthy diet is rich in a variety of foods and by eating many different things you will help keep all of your vitamin levels in check.

The potential for overdose increases, however, as more and more people are taking megadoses of nutritional supplements. (I’m not talking about everyday multiple vitamins, but extreme doses of Vitamin A in supplemental form). Ninety percent of the body’s vitamin A supply is stored in the form of a retinoid in the liver. (The remainder is stored in fat tissue, the lungs and kidneys).  A healthy liver can store up to a year’s supply of vitamin A, but taking large doses of vitamin A supplements can exceed this capacity and lead to toxicity.

Overindulging in vitamin A supplements is dangerous.

Toxicity Symptoms

There are a wide range of symptoms which can be short term or long term, including fatigue, vomiting, abdominal pain, bone and joint pain, loss of appetite, skin disorders, headache, blurred or double vision, eye damage, swelling of the brain, psychiatric changes, osteoporosis, hip fracture, liver damage, coma, and so many more.

Vitamin A and Pregnancy

Birth defects can occur if vitamin A is taken in excess during pregnancy, especially if taken two weeks prior to conception and during the two months following. Pregnant women should take prenatal supplements containing beta-carotene as the vitamin A source and avoid retinol. Even retinoids taken for acne (both topical and oral) should be avoided at this time.  Because even the topical Retin-A absorbs through the skin and accumulates in fat stores, this type of treatment should be discontinued long before pregnancy.

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Source:

Insel,P., Ross,D., McMahon,K., Bernstein,M., Nutrition Fourth Edition. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett, 2013