Archive for: diet

Gut Check

Gut Check Obstacle Course

Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”?  Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.”   For those of you in combat situations or as first-​​responders, you may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”.   The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.”  Merriam-​​Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.”  It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations.  You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.  

Peak Your Performance…Now!

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Have you ever enjoyed a summer day that you wish would never end?  Labor Day was one of those days for us here in Maine.  Usually, by this time of the season, the crisp chill of autumn has set in and I’m reaching for my fleece.  Instead, this week has ushered in steamy, hot weather and brilliant sunshine.  So, you guessed it, I’m spending as much time as possible outdoors to soak up every ounce of warmth before it becomes a fleeting memory in a few short months.  Last week we talked about peaking your performance with a better approach to sports nutrition.  Whether you’re at the gym, on a bike, in the water or at home, this week we’ll continue to shed the light on overcoming inflammation to keep you moving. 

Sports Nutrition — A Game Changer

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)

As summer winds down, I’m noticing an interesting trend that has developed over the past few months — my pension for all things water-​​related.  From swimming to kayaking to paddle boarding, I’ve been on a mission to stay on or in the water as much as possible.  I now officially have the SUP (stand up paddle board) addiction!  Put me on the water with a paddle in my hand and I’m content for hours.  If you haven’t checked it out, SUP-​​ing is an awesome full body workout engaging your core for balance, increasing flexibility, upper & lower body strength and decreasing stress…seriously, is there anything more calming than dipping your paddle into a clear, tranquil lake or the invigorating rush of catching the surf?  My newly discovered passion has made me even more aware of how to tweak my nutrition to keep me on the water as long as possible this year. 

Crushing Cortisol

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Last weekend I returned to my parent’s home for a reunion with my mom’s family.  We spent our days relaxing by the lake, talking up a storm and laughing until our sides were about to split!  It took a couple of years for my mom to pull off this reunion as everyone’s schedules and circumstances were decidedly chaotic and stressful.  I’m sure my family will agree that it was one of the most fun times we’ve had together in a long while. In fact, any stress we may have carried into the weekend was quickly diminished.  When I left on Monday, everyone looked relaxed and happy.  It made me realize that stress can take its toll on all of us and yet there are simple ways we can all crush it.  

What Does It Matter?

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I am an unabashed space nerd — galaxies, black holes, matter and anti-​​matter — you name it, I’m in especially when it coms to science fiction.  From reruns of Star Trek to my ongoing obsession with the Star Wars super saga, the whole idea of “Space, the final frontier…to boldly go where no man has gone before” blows my mind.  Whether you love to geek out over sci-​​fi, or not, isn’t it fascinating to imagine space travel?  If we could get to the moon and back on the equivalent computing power of a tiny little hand-​​held calculator, imagine what we are capable of when we tap into the “strange new world(s)” between our ears!  

Forget Something?

Brain

Has this ever happened to you?  You’re about to walk up to a friend you’ve known for a long time and suddenly your mind goes blank.  You’ve forgotten his or her name — I’m talking deer-​​in-​​headlights blank.  While at first you are mortified and embarrassed that you’ve suffered what feels like a complete brain dump, you then begin to wonder what exactly is wrong with you.  No matter your age or health, everyone experiences a mental gap once in a while for numerous reasons.  This week I met with CogSports Group who specialize in cognitive testing for Navy SEALs, corporate leaders and sports teams.  Their focus on mental toughness got me thinking (yes, I said that) about how to keep our brains as healthy as we keep our bodies.  Over the next few weeks we’ll explore tips and tools for the proper care and feeding of your gray matter.

A Berry Good Summer

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I’ve been in a really good mood lately.  It may be the long summer days, the post-​​vacation relaxation or just the fact that it feels good to feel good, right?  Even in the midst of a hectic work schedule, I still feel pretty darn good.  A little bonus that put an even bigger smile on my face was when I saw the sign at my local farm stand shouting “You Pick Raspberries!”  Now that’s what I call a great summer message.  It got me thinking about how fun super foods can be to add to your day.  Here are three simple ones that will have you kicking up your heels and whistling a happy tune.  

Optimal You

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When I was a little kid, I was convinced if I concentrated hard enough, I could take off on a magic carpet and fly around the world.  Dragging my brother along for the “ride,” we laid one of my mom’s area rugs out on the front driveway, sat cross-​​legged, closed our eyes and visualized ourselves lifted off the ground.  As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for my brother to lose interest and my mom to demand her rug back!  Fortunately, I’ve managed to channel that misguided imagination and adventurous spirit into other endeavors along the way.  Although I have yet to levitate anything, I have learned a lot about defying gravity in other ways.  A recent article by my friend and colleague, Tina Van Horn, shines the spotlight on a superior you and a truly “magical” formula to help you soar.

Sun Secrets Revealed

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Yesterday I spoke with my friend Louise and found out that she just celebrated her 90th birthday by zip lining in South America!  When she was 79 she realized that she felt old and didn’t like it so she decided to make some changes.  By 80, she had taken up jogging again after a 40 year hiatus.  At 85, she started a lecture series and wrote a book.  It’s no surprise that everyone wants to know her secret to living such a long, youthful and energetic life.  Our conversation got me thinking about the choices we make every day, both good and bad, and how the accumulation of those choices will dramatically affect us in the future.  I know it feels lame for some to talk about prevention, but stick with me. You may learn a thing or two that will help you keep pace with Louise…that is, if you can catch her!

A Cool Trick to Redirect Calories to Muscles Instead of Fat

glut4Want a cool trick to help your body decide how to use those calories you just ate? Exercising right before and shortly after a big meal can help to activate a protein inside your muscle cells called Glut4. GLUT-​​4 is a protein that, when increased, tells your body to put calories into muscle tissue, instead of fat cells.

Heal Faster, Go Farther

Fitness Center

After a couple of days soaking my foot in epson salt and sporting flip flops until the swelling diminished, my foot injury from last weekend is healing up remarkably well.  It’s a good thing, too, since my list of outdoor projects and activities is growing as long as the days are this summer.  Since I’ve never been one to rush to the doctor post-​​injury or minor accident, I hobbled to the web instead to find some home remedies and explanations for my throbbing foot pain.  While I don’t advocate that you should always seek your own medical advice especially when many sources are unreliable, there are some homegrown staples and supplies that may help heal the bumps and bruises that often accompany an active lifestyle.  

How to Know if Your Diet is Plotting to Kill You

diet coke dangers

This guest post was written by Michael Volkin, inventor of Weight Loss Stack 52 (currently undergoing crowdfunding), the most unique and fun way to lose weight.

Is your diet actually bad for your body? It’s possible! Diets that restrict calories, and even some fad diets, can be harmful to your health in many ways. Don’t let the appeal of quick weight loss take trick you into harming your health.

A Klutz-​​Free Summer

National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic

Did you know there are about a million ways to break a toe?  Well, maybe not a million but I can tell you that a door frame, an asphalt driveway, or a box of National Geographic magazines will usually do the trick.  To say I was accident-​​prone when I was a kid is pretty much an understatement.  From broken toes and arms, to endless bruises, abrasions and sprains, I was always sporting a cast or a splint of some sort.  I wish I could blame it on some right of passage into adulthood, but, alas my klutzy nature has landed me in more than one painful situation over the years, like the heavy wedge I knocked into my foot while splitting wood with a sledge hammer this past weekend.  If you find yourself exceptionally attractive to accidental incidents, it’s time to learn some simple ways to go from clumsy to carefree this summer. 

Busted! 6 Weight Loss Myths that will Make You Cry

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This guest post was written by Michael Volkin, inventor of Weight Loss Stack 52 (currently undergoing crowdfunding), the most unique and fun way to lose weight.

Are you tangled in the web of weight loss fads and endless contradicting information on the web? Hopefully you haven’t fallen victim to one of these fads, wasting money and time with the hopes to lose a few pounds, only to gain more back in return. I know, it’s frustrating and millions of people share your pain.  Below I explain several myths that you might be doing right now to try and lose weight. If you are, then stop wasting your time and money.

Toxic Tilapia?

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I was thinking a lot about my grandfather this past weekend.  He was a WWII Veteran so it was fitting to pay tribute to him as we memorialized all of the brave military members our country has lost in war.  My grandfather never talked about his military experience but he always shared stories of his fishing adventures.  You see, he and my grandmother were avid fishers in their retirement — give them a fishing pole and a bucket of bait and they were happy!  Last Friday, my husband, Mark, enjoyed a day of fishing with his dad and our neighbor, Randy, a Maine Guide and decorated Veteran from the Vietnam War.   After a day of telling lies and dropping lines, Mark returned with a beautiful fresh-​​caught salmon for dinner.  From war stories to fish tales, a good day of fishing is worth its weight in memories.  There is also something really cool about catching a fresh fish and cooking it for dinner in the same day.  It also reminds us to do our diligence when it comes to adding fish to our diet.  

Not So Fishy

A river otter enjoys the bounty of fish along the Chesapeake watershed.

Summertime, when it finally arrives in Maine, is gorgeous around here.  The evidence of our love-​​affair with summer is apparent when every little corner shop along the backroads and highways turn into ice cream huts and clam shacks.  Our coastal waters are a seafood lover’s cornucopia with every imaginable delicacy from huge, sweet sea scallops, to succulent lobster, and fresh haddock.  Other delights like crab, clams and mussels make it hard to choose what’s for dinner!  Are you jealous yet?  Well, maybe you should be if you can’t get here for the one week in July we can officially call summer.  For all of the other weeks, the good news is that you can enjoy great health benefits from other foods if you find yourself far away from our rocky coast. 

Spring It On!

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron

Whether it’s due to deployment, PCS travel or a family vacation, we’ve all found ourselves in an airport lounge more than a few times, I’m certain.  Rather than slumping down in my seat with my eyes transfixed by my smart phone or tablet, I prefer to look up and observe my surroundings.  Life tells a story when you take a moment to really see what’s going on around you, doesn’t it?  A few years ago, I observed a group of tall young women likely off to a team sports event as they had their warmup suits on and duffles full of gear.  When their flight was called for boarding, one decidedly petite member of the team got up and turned to get in line.  I noticed how small she was and wondered if she had what it took to compete.  Doubt turned to certainty when I read the back of her jacket:  “Speed is good…Trample the Weak. Hurdle the dead.”  Okay, so maybe you’re not that ruthless, but at least willing to take it up a notch.  What better time to see what you’re made of than right now?  

Eggsceptionally Good

Easter eggs

Easter is the one time of year that I wish I could borrow my niece & nephews to help me dye hard-​​boiled eggs, fill baskets full of plastic grass and candy, and then enjoy the simple thrill of watching them race all over the house Easter morning searching for that last illusive egg — did we hide 11 or 12?  Unfortunately, for my husband, he ends up being the one who patiently humors me while I make him do the Easter egg hunt.  This year I ran out of time to hard-​​boil the eggs so he got off easy!  Unfortunately, I’ve found myself missing the colorful bounty that typically resides in the refrigerator long after Easter Sunday.  For most people, especially those watching their fat and cholesterol, eggs are off-​​limits even during the holidays.  If that’s you, you may enjoy some news to put you on the sunny side of eggs.

The Avenger in You

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Did I ever tell you about my dog, Loki?  Actually, I’m pretty sure I have but since the tales of my wonder-​​pup grow more profound with each passing year, she’s definitely worth mentioning again.  Loki was a fiercely loyal Siberian Husky and although small for her breed, she packed a wicked temper and a penchant for chasing all perceived foes off of our property including unsuspecting postal workers.  Much like her Norse god namesake, she was as mischievous as my siblings and I were growing up.  Our adventurous and fearless nature made us all quite a handful.  When I finally watched The Avengers movie, I was shocked to find my super dog was perhaps named for a super villain!  Whether friend or foe, superhero or super-​​villain, we all tend to be more powerful when we’re part of a team.  The same is true when it comes to pairing up super nutrients to keep you in S.H.I.E.L.D. shape.  

Are You a Captain America?

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I consider my sister-​​in-​​law, Dana, a real sister to me.  She is kind, compassionate, fun, wonderfully opinionated and loves me unconditionally.  I always welcome her advice and recommendations and she has never steered me wrongly.  Last summer she said I must watch The Avengers movie.  What a fun ride!  It was cool to see so many of my favorite characters like Thor, Ironman, and the Hulk joining forces to fight evil.  The only challenge was that I knew nothing about Captain America.  Friday night, I finally watched the first Captain America movie and can’t wait to see the sequel that apparently was a blockbuster at this past weekend’s opener. What caught my attention was the desire this scrawny little guy had to serve his country and sacrifice for the greater good of mankind.  Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far to find those willing to raise their shields to protect our country.  From our incredible service men and women to every day difference-​​makers, we all have a little bit of Captain America in us.