It’s Stone Fruit Season!

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Whether you prefer a soft, deliciously sweet peach, a few tangy plums or a bowl of fresh red cherries, now is the time to enjoy stone fruits. July and August are season for stone fruits — and orchards, local markets, and grocery stores alike are practically bursting at the seams with them.

Stone fruits are ones where the seed is hidden in a hard, stone-like pit like those in the Prunus family (like plums, apricots, and nectarines etc).  These yummy little summery gems are packed with nutrients and unexpected benefits, so with peak season upon us, let’s take a look at all they have to offer.

Obviously they are a great snack material in the summer as not only are they juicy and refreshing but can help replenish water and vitamins during the summer heat. Also, they are small and don’t require peeling or preparation so they are handy to carry around for easy consumption.

Let’s take a look at the health benefits of stone fruits.

They help create collagen and fight off cancer

A cup of sliced apricots or plums has 25 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C helps the body form collagen—the main protein in connective tissue—in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. It also increases iron absorption. When eaten in its natural for or applied topically, can reduce wrinkles, improve overall skin texture and help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution.

As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C, peaches can also help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. While an adequate vitamin C intake is necessary and very beneficial as an antioxidant, the amount necessary to consume for treatment purposes for cancer is thought to be beyond oral intake (mediacalnewstoday.com)

They are high in potassium and Vitamin K

Two small peaches have slightly more of this essential mineral than a medium banana. Two plums contain about one tenth of your daily vitamin K, which helps maintain strong bones.

Contain Fibre 

Eat peaches and nectarines with the skin. It contains insoluble fibre that helps prevent constipation and ensures gastro-intestinal health (www.besthealthmag.ca). It also helps reduce appetite and hunger which is a great help for weight control. High fiber intakes from all fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.

When it comes to ways of incorporating them into your diets, there are many uses. Obviously you can snack on them raw but have you considered making a smoothie, juice or add them to your yoghurt, cereal or dessert? Furthermore, many world cuisines use dried or cooked peaches and apricots as well as plums and prunes in savory dishes – with meats and in stews etc.

Best Sports Bras – How do I choose?

Ladies, let’s talk about “the ladies”, shall we!?

The fact of the matter is we women have 2 friends on our chest that can make working out,well, difficult. No, not all women have to find a place for their large breasts when it comes to working out, but all women have to wear a sports bra big or small. I think we can all agree that sports bras are super comfortable and these days are looking super cute, but the question is how do you choose the correct sports bra for YOU!?

A sports bra provides additional support to boobs during physical exercise. Sturdier than typical bras, they minimize breast movement and discomfort, as well as reduce potential damage to chest ligaments. Many women wear sports bras to reduce pain, and physical discomfort caused by breast movement during exercise. Some sports bras are designed to be worn as outerwear during exercise such as jogging. Larger breasted women may be prevented from taking part in sports or exercise when their breasts move excessively.

We know that comfort is the key when it comes to exercise. Many of us ladies don’t feel very comfortable whether it’s our first time at the gym, or we are regulars due to issues such as being larger size, having large breasts, or generally worrying about how we feel and look during exercise. A good sports bra will not only reduce the risk of injury and take stress of off your back, but they will give you a boost of confidence and serve as a fashion accessory.

For larger breasted ladies, we suggest a sports bra with firm cups for that extra support, a think elastic band, and large straps. We recommend the INCREDIBLE by Victoria’s Secret Front-Close Sport Bra. The front closure will give you that extra support you need.

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For ladies with less firm or saggier breasts we recommend a full coverage sports bra with a thick elastic waist band and cups for the extra shape. We recommend COOBIE sports bras for their foam cups and center rushing for that extra lift.

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For ladies with smaller breasts you are definitely at an advantage when it comes to fitness. Since any sports bra will serve it’s purpose when it comes to smaller breasts, we suggest you pick one for its fashionability! We recommend LULULEMON

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Hopefully the guide will help you select the right sports bra for your next workout!

Lifestyle: How Health Friends Support A Healthy Lifestyle

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For many of us it’s hard enough to stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to healthy habits and diet. But are your friends or your social life completely clashing with your personal goals? Of course, I’m not going to tell you to ditch everyone you know and join a fitness cult, but let’s think about it for a moment. From a personal experience, most of  health and diet mistakes are made during social encounters (drinking, smoking or fast food binging). Unfortunately it has become a popular thing to be a ‘social’ smoker or drinker. But how does that affect your life when you look at the bigger picture? Isn’t it like taking one step forward and then two backwards, every weekend? Why does spending time with family and friends have to sabotage your good habits?

Try talking to your close friends and family, and let them know that maintaining a healthy diet and consistent exercise routine is important to you . You will be surprised how receptive people are if you just share your goals or concerns with them. If you come across someone trying to ridicule you or tempt you with bad choices – then they are not a true friend with your best interest or happiness at heart. Move on from such people, you don’t need them. But on your way, you will find people who will listen, encourage and maybe even follow in your footsteps. And then it will all be worth it.

Also note that you have friends and colleagues for different reasons. As soon as you know how to classify the people in your life then you will know and respect their purpose. So if your besties from when you were younger do not care about an active lifestyle it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friends; it simply means that you should make additional friends who love to go to workout like you do so that you can enjoy your active lifestyle with others.

Find a role model or a person who shares your beliefs and dreams. Try to make friends with them, they will support and inspire you.

Like everything else in your life, fitness is a goal and a ton of hard work, if you let being surrounded by the wrong people ruin it, you will never achieve the healthy and happy life you want.

Unlike other goals in your life, being fit and healthy can, and will save your life from sickness, disease and premature aging. Your true friends and loving family will see how good your healthy habits are for you and they will support you. Should this not be the case, you need to avoid their company as they will always bring you down.

There is more to life than drinking, clubbing and eating out, so find ways to spend time with your friends in more beneficial ways. Go for a smoothie, a walk,  or a workout session. Having a healthy lifestyle will go in favor of finding real and supportive friends, just be patient.

Eating Healthy: When carbs are good carbs

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Everyone loves carbs! Because really what is not to love? After all what would life be like without a bag of potato chips, girl scout thin mints, movie popcorn, cheese pizza, and sour patch kids? Recent years have brought carbohydrates a very bad name, blaming illnesses and conditions such as diabetes and different cancers on that particular food group. Furthermore, people completely blame their weight gain or attribute their weight loss to carbohydrates. But are all carbs truly bad for you?

What are carbs?

Carbohydrates, next to protein and fats, are a main type of nutrient. They are claimed to be the most important source of energy for your body and definitely the most easily accessible one. Your digestive system processes carbohydrates into glucose which your body uses for energy, all life processes and to sustain vital organs. It stores any extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it is needed and the rest is stored as fat.

Depending on their chemical structure, carbs are divided into simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Complex carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes. Many of the complex carbohydrates are fiber rich.

Which carbs are good for me and when?

It may be confusing to start with but choosing the healthiest carbs is not so difficult. While it is important to read the food labels and pick foods with the highest amounts of fiber and lowest amounts of sugar (this means your body will process the carbs for fuel in a slow and beneficial manner), here are some simple rules to stick to.

  1. Eat as few processed foods as possible. Shop organic and cook. Know what goes into your mouth. Processed foods such as most breads and fast foods contain added sugars and preservatives.
  2. Fruit is NOT bad for you! Incorporate fruits into your diet instead of refined sugars.
  3. Learn about foods with low GI (Glycemic Index). These are the foods that release sugar slowly without spiking your insulin levels and not only reducing risk of obesity but also limiting risk of the diseases mentioned earlier. Some examples include wholegrain products, oatmeal, quinoa, farro, brown rice, and spelt breads.
  4. Eliminate all added sugar such as in your tea, coffee, sodas etc. Use natural sweeteners such as Stevia.  Remamber that most cereals and yoghutrs as well as dairy in general are high in sugars and generally not very healthy for you.
  5. If you consume high carb meals or simple carbs, do it around a workout or physical activity time, it will increase your body´s ability to use it in a constructive manner (muscle building, energy), rather than storing it as fat.

Sometimes it may be good to try and introduce a low carb day to let your body regulate its insulin management but generally sticking to wise choices should help you remain healthy.

Ways To Add A Workout To Your Daily Routine

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Life gets busy and sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day! Some days are good while others are bad. Plans will always changes, things will always come up last minute and life will always get in the way, but we MUST find time to give back to our bodies for at least 20 minutes everyday. Our bodies are ours and we only get one so let’s take good care of them. After all they take a beating from us day in and day out!

The key to finding the time to work out is to make is part of your daily routine. If you incorporate exercise and fitness into your daily life then eventually it will not feel like a chore, but instead it will feel as though something is missing from your day if you skip your daily workout. But more and more studies show that even a small amount of physical activity each day can save and prolong your life! This fact alone should be reason enough for your to spend time on you! Consider exercise to be just as essential as water and oxygen.

Here are a few tips to help you incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

  1. Use time wisely: take the stairs instead of elevator, walk instead of driving. These are smart ways to get some exercise without going out of your way.
  2. Devote a small part of each day to exercise, even if it’s just 20 minutes. Whether it’s in the morning or before bed time, maybe during your lunch break – simply put: move. Try some yoga, walking, jogging, dancing or cycling. If you go to the gym, stick to a time efficient but consistent training plan. Tip for the more advanced gym goers: Use supersets to save time and get that extra pump. For example alternate a set of bicep exercise with a set of tricep, it will reduce the amount of breaks and save you time!
  3. After meals try to go for a walk around the block or even just down the stairs and back up again. Moving after meals aids in digestion.
  4. Take advantage of weekends or days off, plan for a relaxing activity. Kayaking, cycling, yoga, a dance class or whatever you like, but keep it regular.
  5. While watching TV work on your abs: crunches, planks, bicycles, etc.
  6. Parking – park as far away from the entry so that you have to walk further to and from the door
  7. While on work calls do bicep curls with a water bottle
  8. While at the computer sit on a stability ball to engage your core and work on your posture
  9. Clean the house!
  10. The dentist says brush your teeth for 120 seconds – try doing a wall squat while brushing.

Best Stress Relievers

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We live in an extremely stressful environment and whether it’s work, home, money, partner, children or other things stressing us out it turns out that many health problems are related to stress. Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. According to one study, even though there is no evidence that stress is a direct cause of cancer, there is evidence of a correlation between stress and developing certain kinds of cancer, as well as how the disease progresses.

Hundreds of studies have measured how stress impacts our immune systems. At Ohio State University, researchers concluded that students under pressure had slower-healing wounds and took longer to produce immune system cells (http://psychcentral.com/lib/stress-a-cause-of-cancer/). Other studies show that women who experienced traumatic life events or losses in recent years, had significantly higher rates of breast cancer risk.

Now you’ve had your dose of science, are you really stressed about…being stressed?

It shouldn’t be the case! A psychological study found that the group of people that cared the least about both potentially stressful situations, as well as stress itself, were the healthiest and most relaxed individuals.

What is the solution to this vicious circle of stress? This solution may not be easy to start with but it is 100 percent effective, tested, cheap and fool-proof.

Our bodies as well as minds have been designed to be active. That’s why exercise is an essential part of good body function. The problem is that we have become so brainwashed into sedentary lifestyles where we drive to the gym only to exercise, that we convince ourselves that we have no time or ability to be fit and healthy.

Physical activity keeps our cardiovascular system healthy and prevents obesity but also enables depletion of stress hormones (lowers cortisol) and even releases mood-enhancing chemicals (commonly known as endorphins), which help us cope with stress better. When it comes to combating anxiety, not only endorphins, but also finding a new focus in exercise as well as the sense of accomplishment can become your antidepressant. ‘Throw’ some mediation and healthy diet into the mix and you’re on the certain path to general wellness and happiness, not to mention looking your best.

Know what you eat, be aware of you macronutrients and how they affect your body and mind. Eat clean, organic and unprocessed foods and learn to meditate. Sit, stand or lie in a basic position, close your eyes and try to focus on ‘now’. Forget all the ‘what ifs’ and switch off. Feel your body, the air on your face, relax. As trivial as it may sound, try it – it really works!

It may take some effort to learn this holistic approach to health and wellbeing but your determination will pay off!

Superfoods

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‘Superfoods’ is a popular term often used by the media recently. But what exactly does it mean and how can it help you improve your health?

The Macmillan Dictionary defines ‘superfood’ as a food that is considered to be very good for your health and that may even help some medical conditions. The Oxford Dictionary definition states a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Some health organizations define the term itself as a marketing ploy, but they also promote a healthy diet as a main prevention tool for many diseases. So it’s reasonable to think that superfoods may be a great addition to your diet, with little to lose (even if they are half as effective as their marketers claim, you still benefit from them). Cancer Research UK warn that superfoods are often promoted as having an ability to prevent or cure diseases, including cancer; they caution, “you shouldn’t rely on so-called ‘superfoods’ to reduce the risk of cancer. They cannot substitute for a generally healthy and balanced diet.” We can therefore conclude that superfoods as part of a healthy diet are definitely the way to go! Drinking five gallons of cola and hoping a superfood will fix the damage later is a whole different approach!

Here are some superfoods worth adding to your diet:

Algae 

Chlorella and Wakame – they are full of protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. According to some studies, a diet supplemented with chlorella may reduce high blood pressure, lower serum cholesterol levels, accelerate wound healing, and enhance immune function. Other recent studies have found that fucoxanthin present in wakame can help burn fatty tissue.  It has high levels of sodium, calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin.

Fruits 

Berries – Acai berry, Blueberries, Strawberries, Goji berry (wolfberry), Citrus, Coconuts. Berries are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflamatories and vitamins A, C, B1 and B3.

Vegetables 

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, kale, watercress, spinach, sauerkraut – they are high in vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients and phytochemicals. Sauerkraut is a source of vitamins C, B, and K. The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut high in calcium and magnesium. It’s a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese. Not to mention low in calories!

Legumes 

Beans, lentils, peanuts, raw cocoa, and sweet potatoes (yams): Raw cocoa, for example, has anti – aging properties and promotes cardiovascular health. It can be consumed as a yummy bar of organic chocolate.

Fatty fish 

Mackerel, salmon and sardines – great sources of healthy fats essential for wellbeing and youthfulness.

Seeds and whole grains

Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, amarantus, quinoa – they are excellent sources or good carbs and seeds in particular, are high in fiber and have anti cancerous properties.

Oils

Coconut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil – similarly to fish they provide healthy fats and have anti-cancer properties. Be careful with this one and use sparingly!

How To Take Care Of Your Skin During The Summer Heat

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Many people, especially women like to believe that a youthful, healthy skin is a result of using the best anti wrinkle creams and potions.  Marketing and advertising specialists create images of creams nearly as powerful as surgery. But what is the real key to a youthful and glowing skin? Protection from the sun!

It is scientifically proven that the biggest and most significant contributor to skin aging is sun damage. The UV rays don’t only cause cancer but more commonly damage and age the skin.  Take these few points into consideration, all year round but especially in the summer.

Always use sunscreen of at least SPF 15 

It is vital to use creams of foundations with UV protection all year round. Just because it’s not hot outside doesn’t mean there are no UV rays. Of course this is even more crucial in the summer when the rays are stronger and we spend more time outdoors. As tempting as it may be, try to avoid spending much time in the sun and wear a hat.

Have a healthy diet

You are what you eat – this is absolutely true also in this case. Your skin is a reflection of your diet. For a beautiful, healthy complexion eat unprocessed food, lots of fruit and vegetables, HEALTHY FATS, avoid sugar and most of all, HYDRATE!

Stay clear of smoking and drinking alcohol

Smoking can speed up the aging process of your skin, contributing to wrinkles. The more and the longer you smoke, the more damaged and old your skin will appear. It is likely to cause wrinkles and dry skin not only of your face but for example upper arms (you wouldn’t like these wings, would you?).

Why does smoking damage your skin so significantly? Nicotine shrinks blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin. The blood flow to the skin is decreased and so is the intake of the vital oxygen and nutrients.

Chemicals present in tobacco smoke also damage collagen and elastin – fibers responsible for your skin’s strength and elasticity.

Alcohol’s detrimental influence on health and looks is so obvious and often discussed that I don’t need to tell you about it. But have you ever wondered what it does to your skin specifically? When you drink alcohol, your body and skin can become dehydrated, leaving the skin looking older and tired.’ That’s nothing’ – you may think. But is that all? Along with increasing the risk of liver, pancreatic and breast cancer, alcohol increases the risk of skin cancers. Alcohol weakens the immune system and impairs adequate nutrition, reducing the body’s natural defense against skin cancer. Acetaldehyde, the main metabolite of alcohol is a carcinogen – it damages your DNA. Also, the negative effects of UV rays may be reinforced by alcohol in your system.

So does all that mean that you can’t enjoy a cocktail in the sun while on holiday or a glass of wine with your friends in the summer? Be reasonable. When you drink, stick to the recommended limits and drink plenty of water in between.

Cleansing Routine

In the summer, when your skin produces more sebum and oil, you sweat more and you spend more time outdoors, your skin will simply get dirty. Don’t go to town with antibacterial and alcohol based products. Choose mild soaps, tonics and cleansers and opt for light moisturizers. As much as we all hate too much shine, don’t obsessively try to keep you skin completely matte, it needs a little bit of oil for protection.

A light moisturizer with UV protection or a BB cream (moisturizer, UV screen and foundation all in one) will protect and nourish your skin.

In the evening, stick to a short cleansing routine, cleanse, tone and moisturize.

If you work in an air conditioned environment and you feel your skin needs this, give it a quick cleanse and moisturize mid-day.

Sleep and exercise

Don’t let a summer holiday trip or other activities ruin your sleep and exercise pattern. Sleep and rest in general are very important for our bodies to regenerate, including the skin. Exercise to keep the blood pumping and flush toxins and your skin will reflect that.

Enjoy your summer responsibly and don’t neglect your skin and it will pay off!

Veggie Sandwich

grilled-vegetables-and-goat-cheese-sandwichesWant an easy (and hearty!) way to get lots of nutrients in one meal? Try this sandwich. It’s digestible enough to give you energy for the rest of the day (rather than feeling weighed down by heavy meats and oils) but the large amount of vegetables, nuts and grains will definitely still leave you full and satisfied.

Pair it with a large glass of fresh squeezed citrus or watermelon juice for a more complete nutritional profile. The fruit will also help curb that after-lunch sugar craving!

Ingredients:
Sprouted Grain Bread
Grilled veggies (you can buy pre-sliced vegetable mixes at whole foods)
Hummus
Pesto
Sprouts
Spinach
Black Pepper

Sauté the vegetables (we used zucchini, squash, onions, bell peppers and spinach) in a pan with a little olive oil until the spinach cooks down. Toast the bread, then spread with hummus and pesto (we did one side of each). Add the sprouts and sprinkle with black pepper. Enjoy!

How A Fit Girl Faces Surgery: My Fit Recovery and the Jade Infrared Sauna

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My previous two posts walked through the healthy steps I took to prepare my fit bod for surgery, highlighting preventative ways to shorten the healing process, reduce muscle loss and weight gain, keep my digestive system functioning and maintain high levels of energy and immunity. Fast forward to post-op. I was completely off of all pain killers – ibuprofen included – in less than a week’s time, thanks in part to one very effective therapeutic treatment: the Jade Infrared Sauna.

Unlike typical saunas, this sauna is a pod you lie in. It’s similar to a tanning bed in size, but your head is actually out of the sauna so you’re breathing fresh air the entire time. No claustrophobic lid 4” from your nose, no dizzying bazillion-degree air. The infrared rays (a combo of near and far, if you’re an infrared guru) penetrate a couple of inches past your skin’s surface to heat the body from within, activating the actual cells inside your bod. This translates to mind-boggling cardiovascular stimulation, detoxification, relaxation and healing. As someone who experienced a rare and life threatening blood clot at the age of 20, keeping my blood circulating during a time of lessened physical activity was a major priority. Just 30 minutes in the Jade sauna has the cardio-impact of a 6-mile run, which, I might add, also torches major calories … a must for someone cut off from her daily Bodybar routine. The increased blood flow and cell stimulation expedited my recovery, reduced pain and inflammation, and also helped to rid my system of the heavy meds used in surgery.

Even when I’m not in recovery mode, I use the Jade sauna regularly. It’s one of the most effective ways to stay de-stressed and detoxed. Aside from post-op healing, I’ve experienced clearer, tighter skin, digestive relief, lessened “puffiness” and increased flexibility. It also happens to be possibly the most relaxing way to spend 30-40 minutes of my day.

Just over a 5 minute drive from our Travis location, The Phit Studio, where I go for my sauna fix a few times a week, is located at the corner of Mockingbird and Greenville, inside the Total Nutrition store. Visit their website for more information, and mention that you are a Bodybar Studios client to receive a special promo when you book your first session.