Your Personal Trainer and Nutrition: Benefits of Quinoa

As much as a personal trainer can help you with exercise, your exercise regime will benefit you more if you also fuel your body with the proper nutrients.  While there are lots of diet fads at any given moment, there are some “superfoods” out there that really do provide significant benefits.  Included in this group is quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).

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Quinoa is an ancient seed (it’s actually not a grain) that was cultivated by the Incas over 5000 years ago.  It is related to leafy green vegetables, such as chard and spinach.

Quinoa is packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients.  When compared with wheat, barley and corn, quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc.  Because of its nutrients, quinoa is said to protect cardiovascular health, prevent migraines, and help with diabetes.

Quinoa is gluten-free, and does not feed fungal or bacterial infections. Quinoa is high in protein.  In fact, the protein in quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.   It is an especially good source of lysine, which is necessary for tissue growth and repair.

Quinoa is quick and easy to cook:

1.  Always make sure you rinse the seeds well as something called “saponin” coats them, and can make them taste bitter when cooked.

2.  Using a ratio of 1:2, quinoa to water, bring to boil in a saucepan, with a pinch of salt.

3.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).

A quick search on the internet can produce lots of yummy quinoa recipes – one of my favorites is quinoa tabouli.

To make it, you need the following ingredients:

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tomatoes, diced (and seeded if you want)
1 cucumber, diced (and seeded if you want)
2 bunches green onions, diced
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cook the quinoa, and let cool; then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Eat as a stand-alone dish, or serve with hummus and pita bread, and maybe some grilled chicken.

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Have it ready in the fridge to chomp on after your next workout!

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4 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Going Strong

Maintaining a healthier lifestyle and losing weight are popular New Year’s resolutions. In fact, on the list of top New Year’s resolutions on the USA.gov website, five of the 13 most popular goals have to do with better fitness and health. What’s more, according to a study mentioned on WebMD, around 30% of resolutions involve weight loss and 15% cite wanting to start working out. If you have set a health-related goal for the new year, here are some easy tips to help you see it through to completion.

1. Set Specific Short Term and Long Term Goals

Losing weight and eating healthier are worthy resolutions, but if that’s as specific as you made them, chances are you’re having trouble seeing them through. Make your goals specific, like a particular weight, a certain time for running a mile, or a set number of reps for your strength training. Then, set several benchmarks between the day you start and your end date so you can track your progress.

2. Start Small

You don’t have to change your entire routine overnight. There’s nothing like a complete shock to your system to make you lose motivation fast. Start small like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or a walk at lunch instead of sitting at your desk for the entire time. Replace one of your salty snacks with something healthier or start packing your own lunch. Build towards your first benchmark and increase your workout tasks or dietary changes as you get more comfortable with your new fitness program.

3. Mistakes are OK

Just because you skip a workout or splurge on dessert does not mean that your resolution has gone out the window. If you’re maintaining a healthy routine and have stuck to the benchmarks you set for yourself, chances are you’re still progressing towards your goal. Allow for a few setbacks along the way and don’t use them as an excuse to throw in the towel.

4. Keep Yourself Accountable

The easiest way to let your resolution slip by is to keep it to yourself so no one will know if you started or stuck to it. Tell your friends and family your goals. Chances are, you’ll find others with similar resolutions. What’s more, like-minded people make a strong support system to help keep your determination and perseverance going strong.

Whether you’ve already started towards your 2012 goals, or are still working on getting going, we hope these tips help you see your resolutions through.

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7 Things You Should Know About Cold Weather Running

Despite the chilly temperatures and adverse weather conditions, running outdoors in the winter is still a great option for staying fit. However, it’s important to remember that running in cold weather is different from warm weather cardio. Here are some useful tips for cold weather running to keep you healthy and safe.

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1. Wear thin, portable layers. Long sleeves and pants are generally a must for cold weather running, but be sure not to overdress. Running in the cold still generates a lot of body heat and you don’t want to be caught with a thick puffy coat when a thin, sweat-wicking long sleeve would suffice.

2. Consider a hat and gloves. Keep your head and hands warm, but stick to what’s comfortable. There are several choices for head coverings like beanies, ear-warmers or hoods, but if you start to overheat, don’t feel you have to wear it for the entire run.

3. Focus on your breathing. Don’t let the snap of cold deter you from your workout. The burning sensation in your nose or lungs will go away given time. Take this opportunity to breath more deeply and try to control the urge to shorten your breaths.

4. Run in the early afternoon. The morning and evening are the colder times of day, so schedule your run for the heat of the day– early afternoon.

5. Protect your exposed skin. Cold air can wreak havoc on your skin. Remember to wear sunblock if the sun is out, and use moisturizer to avoid wind-chapping.

6. Hydration is still important. Drinking water is vital to a strong cold weather run. Be sure to hydrate before and after you exercise.

7. Don’t run on ice.  Ice is slippery and increases the chance of injury. Given the choice, opt for snow, as it has better traction.

And remember, it always depends on the conditions of the day. Use your best judgement to gauge your environment before setting out.

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Trainer Spotlight: Jennifer Cepeda, Zumba Instructor

The national Zumba craze might have been slow to reach the Pacific Northwest, but it is alive and thriving in places like Seattle. Zumba started in 2001 and is described on its official website as an “exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party.” Zumba uses the entire body and is a great alternative for people who are tired of everyday cardio and generic gym workouts.

If you want to know what makes Zumba so special, just ask West Seattle Zumba Instructor Jennifer Cepeda.

source: Jennifer Cepeda

“It’s fun to see people react, people are shocked when they first attend,” says Cepeda, a former performing hip-hop dancer. She’s referring to the emotional factor unique to Zumba.  She touts it as a “workout for your mind and body.”

But a Zumba workout isn’t just an hour of fun. Cepeda gauges her classes as a fairly intense workout with choreography at an easy to  medium level of difficulty. And the best part?  It saps pounds from her students. Regular members of her class have reported going down a dress size or two, and one in particular used Zumba (coupled with a healthy diet) to lose roughly half her bodyweight over a period of several months.

Cepeda completed the required Zumba one day certification, and is part of the Zumba Instuctor Network (ZIN) that helps keep her current with the latest music and choreography for her classes. She also enjoys creating her own choreography and keeping her classes fresh with popular music. She currently teaches three times a week at All Star Fitness in West Seattle, and has recently added three new classes at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, also in West Seattle. For additional information on her classes and perspective on Zumba, check out her website hellosparkfit.com.

Cepeda encourages everyone to give Zumba a try. No prior dance experience or coordination is required to enjoy or excel at a Zumba workout.

For those who are interested in becoming a certified Zumba instructor, Cepeda’s recommendations are to study your favorite classes, and put your own spin on what you learn. Find a mentor in the Zumba community, and always continue your education to push for the highest quality both for yourself, and to pass along to your students.

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Food for Thought: If you could take one supplement, what would it be?

A naturopath I know was once asked this question by a friend of mine, and his answer after giving it some thought?  Salmon oil.

The benefits are many:

  • Salmon oil is important for brain development and memory; it also helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Studies show that HDL (good cholesterol) increases by 10% if you eat a high salmon diet for 20 days.
  • Salmon oil has been shown to help reduce high blood pressure.
  • Salmon oil protects again heart attack and prevents cardiovascular disease.
  • Salmon oil helps in improving eyesight and protects against macular degeneration.  It also prevents dry eyes.
  • Salmon oil reduces the pain, discomfort and inflammation from arthritis.
  • Salmon oil reduces symptoms related to menstruation.
  • The Omega 3 fatty acids in salmon oil reduce joint pain and stiffness from osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Children who consume salmon oil every day have a lower risk of asthma.
  • Salmon oil reduces the symptoms of various diseases, including arthritis, atherosclerosis, psoriasis and gallstones.
  • Salmon oil reduces depression symptoms.
  • Salmon oil can be helpful in treating diabetes.

And the list actually goes on.

The benefits of salmon oil on brain function give a whole new literal meaning to the phrase “Food for Thought”!

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Drew Manning and his Fit2Fat2Fit Journey: Will You Join Him?

If you haven’t heard about Drew Manning and his Fit2Fat2Fit journey, you should look it up immediately. Manning, a part time personal trainer, chose to take the last six months off from his healthy lifestyle and gain 70+ pounds, to experience what it is really like to be overweight.

PHOTO: Personal trainer Drew Manning, 30, has purposefully gained weight in order to lose it again.
source: fit2fat2fit.com

On such national platforms as Good Morning America and The Tonight Show, Manning has explained his experiment, his goal of understanding the real challenges of being overweight, and how he hopes to inspire other people to join him on the “2Fit” part of his journey back to a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Starting on Saturday, November 5th, (according to the countdown clock on his website), Manning will start towards his objective of returning to his healthy 193lb weight, and is encouraging anyone interested to join him. For the next six months, he plans on chronicling his meal choices as well as his 45min -1hr workouts (5 days a week) to demonstrate how the everyday person with a full time job and real life commitments can achieve what may otherwise seem like an impossible fitness goal.

Manning’s word of choice to describe his “2Fit” process is “reasonable.” He is married and the father of two with a full time job in addition to his career as a personal trainer. He is quick to point out that he does not have unlimited time to spend at the gym and hopes this will further encourage people who think they are too busy or beyond help to try the return to a healthy lifestyle with him.

We wish Manning the best of luck, and look forward to reading about his triumphs and challenges in the coming months. Go get ‘em Drew!

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4 Ways to Maximize your Energy Daily

It goes without saying that in order to be healthy, you need to give yourself the right fuel to keep your body at the top of its game.  Here are four easy reminders to make sure you’re giving your body the best chance of a full, energized day.

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1. The most important meal of the day. The best way to maximize your energy for the day is to start by actually eating something. That’s right, eating breakfast. By giving your body fuel at the beginning of the day, it will set you up to be energized and alert for the tasks ahead. The American Dietetic Association recommends including carbohydrates for energy and protein for endurance in your morning meal.

2. There are such things as Good Carbs. Eating a combination of complex and simple carbs daily will help give your body the slow burning fuel as well as the short pick-me up bursts it needs. For complex carbs, think whole grains, and starches like potatoes and carrots. Simple carbs like sugar fructose from fruits, veggies and honey are a great alternative to caffeine or “bad” sugars from candy or soda. Also, don’t forget to get your fiber in with the good carbs. Fiber helps with the slow and steady burn of energy to keep you from midday slumps.

3. Drink water. Then drink some more. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of lack of energy, says this webmd article. Keep a water bottle with you all the time. Try replacing your morning coffee or afternoon energy drink with a few glasses of h20 and see how your energy level improves or at least maintains without those pesky caffeine or sugar crashes.

4. Punch up your diet. No, this doesn’t mean start counting calories and cutting snacks. It means adding in foods that are known energy boosters like oats, lentils, bananas, almonds and chocolate.

So there you have it, four easy ways to give your body the energy it needs to do what you want.

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