Health and Fitness Tips and Inspiration

  1. [Recipe] Healthy Guacamole




    You can make guacamole healthy by eliminating sour creams and mayonnaise. Try this yummy recipe today!

    Ingredients:

    • 3-4 Ripe Avocados
    • Fresh lime juice from 1/2 of a lime
    • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
    • Minced onion (purple or red)
    • Fresh garlic - grated or passed through a garlic press
    • Salt & Pepper to taste

    Directions:
    Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Scoop all the flesh out of avocados and place into a bowl. Add lime juice, minced onion, garlic and cilantro into bowl. Mix until combined. Salt & Pepper to taste.

    Try this guacamole on cut up veggies, salads or chicken!
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  2. Motivation tips to get you moving and have FUN!





    The biggest barrier to working out is seeing it as “WORK”. Sometimes all we need is a little fun to keep us going! If you need some exercise motivation, give the following tips a try. Make your workout seem less like work and more like FUN!


    • If you love to read, try reading while riding a stationary bike or on an elliptical. Grab your phone, tablet, or latest gossip magazine. Reading can be a fun distraction while working out – just make sure to keep proper form and don’t slack in your pedaling while catching up on the latest news!

    • Instead of being a couch potato the next time you watch TV, hop on a treadmill or elliptical while you watch your favorite shows! Turn a 30 minute TV show into a circuit workout. Pedal, walk or run during show segments and use the commercial time for crunches, push-ups, or jumping jacks. You can also run the stairs, take a lap outside, or crank up the intensity during those 2 minute breaks. This will give you a great interval workout

    • Call a friend, co-worker, or spouse to help motivate you and keep you on track. Setting a workout time and place to exercise together will both be more fun and keep you from bowing out of a sweat session. Working out with a partner could also spark some friendly competition and they will cheer you on as you go.

    • Make a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs that energize you and keep you moving! Pick out fast paced songs that you love and that will keep your body and mind stimulated. When the music is pumping, you are less likely to slack!

    • If indoor fitness equipment is a challenge, be creative and use the things in your house or apartment to create a circuit. Use chairs for tricep dips, run the stairs, take a lap around your house, use cans of soup for weights, or purchase exercise bands. Resistance bands are a low cost alternative to dumbbells and weights. They can be used anywhere and can easily be packed in a bag or purse for mid-day workouts.
    • Don't let a time crunch be a factor for you. You don't need to dedicate an entire 30-60 minute segment to working out. Try interval training in 10-15 minute "chunks". Warm up, follow with some moderate intensity exercise, followed by 2 minutes of high-intensity exercises. Alternate back and forth of moderate to high-intensity until your time has expired. Remember, breaking a 30 minute exercise routine into 2 "chunks" of time, is far better than not exercising at all.

    • Always remind yourself that exercise has many benefits beyond weight loss. You'll feel healthier, happier, and potentially live a longer life with staying active. If you are looking for weight loss, remember, the weight didn't come on overnight, don't expect it to come off overnight. Stay focused, motivated, and be patient with yourself. Don't get discouraged.

    • Remember, making exercise FUN is a great way to keep you moving and motivated on your fitness journey.
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  3. [Recipe] Roasted Squash Soup




    Make this healthy version of roasted butternut squash soup. Perfect for any cool fall evening!

    Ingredients:
    • 2 large butternut squash
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • Fresh garlic bulb
    • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
    • 2 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
    • Ground nutmeg

    Directions:
    Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Prepare a large roasting pan by coating the bottom with olive oil. Cut the squash into halves and clean out seeds. Place squash cut-size down in pan. Prick the outside skin with a sharp knife. Place onion around squash. Cut the top off fresh garlic bulb and drizzle with olive oil. Place garlic in roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until squash is tender. Remove and let cool.

    Scrape fresh roasted squash into a large stock pot. Add in the onion and squeeze garlic flesh in as well. Add your chicken or vegetable stock and lime juice into pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Either move contents into a blender or use a hand blender in the stock pot, puree the soup until smooth. Ladle the soup into bowls and season by adding nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
    Serve with a piece of high-fiber or multigrain bread.

    TIP:
    Try this recipe with a variety of different squash. They are quite plentiful in the fall season!
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  4. [Recipe] Zucchini Chips


    Make this healthy easy bake snack!

    Ingredients:

    • Zucchini
    • Olive Oil
    • Whichever spices you want to add (I prefer Spanish Paprika and Sea Salt)

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 375F, slice zucchini thin, place on greased baking sheet.
    Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    Enjoy!
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  5. The Benefits of Ellipticals



    Whether you have trained on ellipticals for years or are just starting to fit an elliptical into your fitness routine, elliptical cross training has a variety of benefits that can help a person get into shape and stay healthy. The following list describes some of the benefits elliptical cross training brings!

    1. Elliptical cross training is a low-impact workout that is great for cardiovascular health! Before elliptical cross trainers were made widely available to the public, people who wanted intense cardio activity were limited to high-impact exercise.
    2. Ellipticals can be used by all ages of people and they are easy to figure out. Most allow you to hop on and go.
    3. It is a workout that is easy on the joints. With an elliptical, you can get in a vigorous, heart-pounding workout that doesn’t pound on your joints!
    4. Elliptical cross trainers provide excellent weight-bearing exercise which helps strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. There are also muscle-toning benefits because of this!
    5. You will work your upper and lower body at the same time. With some workouts your focus is either on just the legs, or only the arms. With an elliptical you can work both! Ellipticals also have built in programs that allow you to change up your program and provides some workout variety
    6. Ellipticals do provide for some multi-tasking. If you need to read the latest magazine or catch up on emails, you usually have the capability to get these done while continuing to get your cardio on.
    7. And last, but not least, you can pedal in reverse. There are claims that pedaling in reverse works the calves and hamstrings more than pedaling in forward motion. It's fun to try, so give it a go.
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  6. When is it time for NEW running shoes?



    Old, worn-out running shoes are one of the most common reasons for running injuries. Running shoes lose shock absorption, cushioning and stability over time. Continuing to run in worn-out running shoes increases the stress and impact on your legs and joints, which can lead to overuse injuries.

    After about 300 to 400 miles of use, running shoes should be replaced, depending on running style, body weight, and the surface on which you run. Smaller runners can get new running shoes at the upper end of the recommendation, while heavier runners should consider replacement shoes closer to the 300 mile mark. If you run on rough roads, you'll need to replace your running shoes sooner than if you primarily run on a treadmill.

    Try to mark your calendar when you buy a new pair of shoes so you know when to replace them. If you use a training log, record new shoe purchases on that. Or try writing the purchase date on the inside of each shoe's tongue.

    If you want to make your pair of running shoes last longer, buy a second pair of running shoes about halfway through the life of your original pair. Your shoes will last longer when you allow them to decompress and dry out between workouts. Also, having a fresh pair of shoes as a reference will help you notice when your old ones are ready to be replaced.
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  7. 10 common mistakes keeping you from your fitness goals



    1. Not Having A Plan
    Your primary objective should influence the amount you do, as well as the the intensity and the type (cardio, resistance, stretching) of every workout. Pick a goal such as losing 10 pounds, running a 5K, or improving your endurance and research proven plans. This is a great way to optimize your workout and stay focused!

    2. The All-Or-Nothing Approach
    Research shows that just ten minutes of exercise can provide important health benefits. A ten minute workout is better than a 0 minute workout!

    3. Skipping The Warm Up
    Taking 5-10 minutes to gradually increase your body temperature and heart rate decreases your risk of injury since working cold, stiff muscles can lead to sprains and tears. Warming up also increases circulation and improves range of motion.

    4. Not Switching Up Your Routine
    Once your strength and stamina improve, it's time to upgrade your routine. The same workout week after week will lose its effectiveness and may lead to injury or burnout, as well as becoming incredibly boring. To switch up your routine, you do not need to spend more time at the gym. Simply try to manage your time differently and more efficiently. This is why interval training has become so popular!

    5. Unbalanced Training
    Most people focus only on certain muscles (such as the abdominals or biceps), but it's important to work your whole body and core.

    6. Rapid Progression
    Exercising too hard and too often, or increasing intensity too quickly, can result in injury and/or setback.

    7. Ignoring Heavy Weights
    It can be intimidating, but you aren't gaining anything from avoiding heavy weights. You have two types of muscle fibers: slow and fast. If you don't use the heavier weights, you neglect the fast fibers, which are important for moving quickly, lifting heavy objects and for spine and hip stability. Ladies, if you're worried that you'll bulk up, don't be. Women cannot add much size to their muscles due to low concentrations of testosterone.

    8. Not Protecting Your Bones
    It’s important to do weight-bearing exercises to help protect your bones. While treadmill walking is sufficient to keep the spinal bones strong, your hip bones need more loading. Remember the terms "steep," or "step." Either increase the steepness (incline) on the treadmill or attempt stepping exercises.

    9. Incorrect Machine Set-Up
    Exercise equipment is adjustable. It's important that you set it up to fit you correctly before you use it. Using poorly adjusted equipment could lead to injury and/or setback. If you're unsure about proper set up ask a staff person at your local gym or 2nd Wind Exercise fitness store.

    10. Always Running At A Steady Pace
    Again, we’re back to interval training. It teaches your muscles to burn energy more efficiently so you can go faster. Try starting out with a half or one-mile warm-up, then doing four to six rounds of running faster than your regular pace for a quarter mile and then switching to a slower pace for the next quarter mile. Strive to gradually lengthen the faster-paced intervals, but be careful not to progress too rapidly. Limit these interval runs to a few times a week to help avoid injury.

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  8. [Recipe] Healthy Loaded Oatmeal




    There is no better way to start your day than with a healthy bowl of oatmeal. Mix up your ingredients to keep it interesting and to fuel your body.

    MAKES: 4 servings. Simply divide by 4 to make recipe for one person.

    • 2 cups oatmeal, uncooked
    • 4 Tbsp natural nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew butter or other)
    • 2 cups skim milk (or milk alternative)
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 scoops quality protein powder. Pick you favorite flavor
    • 4 Tbsp Flax Seeds
    • handful of blueberries, strawberries, bananas or fruit of your choice


    Directions: Bring the 4 cups of skim milk and water to a boil in a pan. Add oatmeal, natural nut butter, and protein powder to pan and reduce heat. Gently cook for 3 to 5 minutes until mixture becomes thick. Spoon into bowls. Add flax seeds, cinnamon, and your favorite fruit to the top. Enjoy!
    Calories: Around 500 per serving (varies based on fruit, milk, and nut butter choices)
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  9. Burn More Calories With This HIIT Workout

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  10. [Recipe] Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes



    We love a good cupcake; and if it’s on the healthier side, we’ll take two! These zucchini cupcakes are so delicious and definitely hide the fact that they’ve got zucchini and carrots in the ingredients. For a healthier chocolate cupcake, give these veggie filled treats a try:

    TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling MAKES: 21 servings

    • 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
    • 1-1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
    • 1 cup grated zucchini
    • 1 cup grated carrots
    • 1 can (16 ounces) chocolate frosting

    Directions: In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in zucchini and carrots. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center.
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