Whether you need music to fuel your workout or just to chill to, we’ve got you! Here’s this month’s mega hit mix featuring all the tunes you need to fill the soundtrack to you life.
Total Stretch Time: 5 minutes
Perform stretches after cardio and strength training workouts.
Scissor Hamstring Stretch
Easy to do anywhere and safe for injured backs, this hamstring stretch is great if you’re really tight.
- Stand with your feet together. Step your right foot back about two feet and bend forward from your hip joint, keeping your back and both legs straight. After holding for 30 seconds, switch sides.
Easy Pose with Forward Fold
Benefits: Stretches back, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
- Sit on the edge of your mat, crossing your legs in front of you at the shins. Option to stack your legs. Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones. Align your head, neck, and spine. Lengthen your spine, but soften your neck. Relax your feet and thighs. Reach your arms up overhead, lengthening your spine.
- On an exhalation, slowly bow forward with your arms still extended. Rest your arms, hands, and forehead on the mat. If your forehead does not touch the mat, bend your elbows, stack your hands, and rest your forehead on your hands.
- To release, use your hands to walk yourself back to an upright, seated position. Change the cross of your legs and repeat the pose.
Forward Bend with Rounded Back
This stretch targets both hamstrings as well as the lower back.
- Sit on the floor, extending both legs straight out in front of you, legs together. Fold your torso over your thighs, gently rounding the back but keeping the legs straight. Hold here for 30 seconds and then sit up.
- Option: Try sitting up tall with both arms overhead. Flex your feet. Start to lower torso, keeping back flat. Reach for the toes and hold. You should feel a deeper stretch within the hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds then sit up.
Reclined Hamstring Stretch
Here’s a relaxing way to stretch one hamstring at a time.
- Lie on your back. Raise your left leg as high as you can, keeping your pelvis flat on the ground. Hold your lower thigh and encourage the leg to move toward your head. Flex your foot to stretch your calf too.
- To deepen the stretch, place a yoga strap or towel on the ball of your foot and use your hands to pull the strap toward you. After 30 seconds, switch legs.
- This stretch can be performed with opposite leg bent or straight.
This pose is perfect for tight hips because it stretches the hip rotators (the buttocks area) and the hip flexors (the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs and pelvis).
- Bring your right knee between your hands, placing your right ankle near your left wrist. Extend your left leg behind you so your kneecap and the top of your foot rest on the floor.
- Press through your fingertips as you lift your torso away from your thigh. Release your tailbone back toward your heels. Work on squaring your hips and the front side of your torso to the front of your mat.
- Draw down through your front-leg shin and balance your weight evenly between your right and left hips. Flex your front foot. Press down through the tops of all five toes of the back foot.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
Static Quadriceps Stretch
This can be performed in either standing, or laying on your front.
- Stand on one leg with your knees touching. If you need to, grab hold of a chair or wall for support.
- Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull toward your butt. Do your best to keep your chest upright, and don’t worry about how close your foot is to your butt. Keep your focus on getting a good stretch in your quad.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
Wide Second Plie
- Start in a standing position, heels together, toes apart. Step your right foot out into a wide stance with toes pointing outward. Bend your knees deeply, keeping chest lifted and knees pushing back.
- Remember to rotate from the hips and not the knee. Lower your tailbone towards the floor while lengthening the spine upward. Straighten the legs and step the right foot back in to the meet the left.
Benefits: Hip opener, stretches hamstrings and hips, strengthens core, improves balance.
- Start with an athletic stance of about two times your regular shoulder width with toes pointed forward. Hands clasped in front of body for balance.
- Begin the movement by dropping your hips into a squat, making sure to keep toes pointed forward. Then slowly redistribute your weight onto left leg, straightening the right leg. Flex your right foot and point the toes to the ceiling. Remember to keep the left knee facing directly toward the toes. Make sure to keep the chest up, maintaining a neutral spine alignment.
- Then slowly shift your weight to the center, and onto the other leg. One repetition is when both the right and left leg have performed the movement.
Improve mobility and posture through your lower back with this spinal stretch
- Start seated with legs stretched out in front of you. Bend right leg and cross it over left leg, placing right foot on floor near left knee. Twist from the hips and place left elbow on the outside of right knee. Push into the knee to deepen the twist (you’ll feel it along the outer side of right thigh). Repeat on the other side.
Seated Heel Stretch
- Begin seated with legs stacked on top of the other. Lengthen through your spine as you balance on your sitz bones. Grab onto your right heel and pull your leg up to your chest. Keeping your knee still extend your leg to the side (turned out). Be mindful to keep you right hip pressing towards the floor. Bend the knee and stack right on top of left. Repeat on other side.
Daily stretching through splits will help to deeply stretch the thighs and open up both the hamstrings and quadriceps.
Half Split Stretch
- Begin in a low lunge with right leg forward, knee stacked over ankle. The left knee releases to the ground in a kneeling position, bring hands lower to frame right foot. The hands move back until they are even with the hips. The hips move back as the front right straightens with the toes pointing to the sky. The upper body then folds forward over the thigh. Be mindful to keep hips and shoulders square. Hold for 20 to 30 secs.
- Shift back into low low lunge. Bring right knee under right hip. Step left foot forward into low lunge to repeat on opposite side.
- Begin in a half split. Slide your front foot forward, lean back, and slowly lower yourself to the ground, using your hands for balance as you get lower. Keep your hips squared and your toes straight.
Side Straddle Spilt Stretch
- Sit in a straddle position, extending your legs as far as you are comfortable. Reach toward your right leg with your left arm, stretching your right arm toward your opposite leg. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat to the left side.
Center Straddle Split Stretch
- Sit in a wide straddle position, legs extended as far as is comfortable. Without bending the knees, reach to the center. Stretch as far as you can while maintaining a flat back. Try to lay your body on the floor, using your hands as support. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 secs.
Big thank you to my models and my friends…
Emily Devine @goldemstateofmind
Jean Schroeder @jeanschroeder
Devin Holliman @dev.insta.gram
Maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) system helps your body properly digest and absorb the nutrients from the food and drinks you consume. Regular consumption of probiotics can be beneficial in maintaining a healthy, functioning digestive system. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live beneficial bacteria and yeasts, which confer a health benefit when consumed.
Your GI tract is home to the human microbiome, the genome of all our microbes. The human microbiome is composed of a community of bacteria that serves a critical function in developing immunity, defense against pathogens, production of short-chain fatty acids essential in energy metabolism, and synthesis of vitamins and fat storage. The microbiome is considered an essential organ of the body, without which we could not function correctly.
It’s important to note that not all probiotics are created equal! Each probiotic strain has its own effectiveness level; this effective dose is determined by clinical research. It would be wise to consult with a registered dietitian or your PCP before choosing a probiotic supplement. Looking for a more convenient option? Yogurts and kefirs contain probiotic strains that are dairy-free probiotic yogurt – which I love. And because gut health is so important, we used @califiafarms dairy-free yogurt, a probiotic powerhouse w/ only 1g of sugar per serving. The base of this bowl is pretty simple, so boost the nutrient power of the smoothie by heaping on toppings like hemp, chia, and flax seeds, extra blueberries, and crushed pistachios— blueberries contain antioxidants, chia seeds and oats are packed with fiber, and flax seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Don’t forget the granola to get fierce with fiber! Yup, we’ve got you covered with our “Damn It’s So Good!” Homemade Granola.
Did you know Americans only average 15g of fiber per day, when the recommended daily amount for women and men is 25-38g, respectively? One cup of raw oats contains approximately 8 grams of fiber, making it an excellent fiber source, including the powerful fiber beta-glucan, a soluble fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fiber help bulk up your stools and can be used as a food source for good bacteria in your large intestine. A 2017 study found that fiber’s importance is intimately tied with the importance of our gut microbes.
So what are you waiting for? Add this probiotic-packed, fiber-fierce smoothie bowl to your meal prep schedule and boost your gut health! #LiveNourished
Probiotics are the good live bacteria that support the gastrointestinal system and provide a health benefit to the body. There are over a 100 trillion good bacteria, and over 1,000 different species. Probiotics help the body extract nutrients from food, improve the body’s immune function, and support the intestinal wall’s integrity. Probiotics are commonly found in yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
- 1 large banana sliced and frozen
- 2 c blueberries frozen
- 1 c probiotic dairy-free yogurt unsweetened, blueberry
- ½ c almond milk unsweetened, vanilla
- ¼ c old-fashioned oats gluten-free
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup pure, Grade A
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- pistachios crushed
- coconut toasted and sliced
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- banana sliced
- blueberries fresh
- Place frozen banana, frozen blueberries, yogurt, oats, almond butter, maple syrup, chia seeds, and flax seeds into a food processor or high powered blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes. If needed, scrape down the sides of the processor/blender.
- Scoop into two bowls and garnish with toppings of your choice.
#Sponsored | Fiber plays an important role in maintaining a healthy digestive system by fueling healthy gut microbiota and helping regulate bowel movements, keeping them soft and regular. Sadly enough, 95% of Americans fail to meet the daily recommended target of 25g of fiber for women and 35g for men and for men and women over the age of 50, its 21g and 30g respectively (PMID: 30202317).
ICYDK, dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that mostly passes through your digestive system without breaking down or being digested. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is the main type of fiber found in grains, legumes, nuts & seeds, fruits & vegetables. When digested it pulls in and absorbs water, partially dissolving into a gel-like substance, which may help slow down digestion to help provide a slower supply of blood glucose.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and passes through the digestive tract pretty much intact, adding bulk to our stool. Insoluble fiber can help improve various digestive symptoms associated with irregular bowel movements.
Get fierce with fiber by including fiber containing foods such as complex carbohydrates and fruits into your morning meal. Certain @PepsiCo products can help people incorporate fiber into their diet while helping support their digestive system.
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber, which can help slow the absorption of glucose. Given its viscosity-producing properties, beta-glucan from a bowl of oatmeal also helps promote satiety by slowing the rate that food leaves the stomach to increase feelings of fullness (PMID: 22187640).
Level up your bowl of oatmeal, while also increasing your fiber intake with these Chewy Oat Bites. These delicious bites can be made in a snap, and consumed at any time throughout the day. Enjoy!
The soluble fiber in oatmeal is associated with various health benefits, as it may help lower blood cholesterol levels to support heart health*. It also may help slow digestion and the release of blood glucose into the bloodstream. *3 grams of soluble fiber from oatmeal daily in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce this risk of heart disease. This cereal has 2 grams per serving.
- cooking spray
- 2 large brown eggs free range organic
- 1 ½ c almond milk plain unsweetened
- ½ c applesauce unsweetened
- 2 tbsp plant-based butter melted
- ¼ c maple syrup grade A
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 c old-fashioned oats
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt finely ground
- ¼ c pumpkin seeds
- ¼ c dried cranberries unsweetened
- Heat oven to 350°F. Coat well of a muffin tin (3.5 oz) very well with cooking spray.
- Mix wet ingredients. In a bowl, mix the eggs and plant based milk together first. Then mix in the applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt until combined.
- Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold with a rubber spatula until combined.
- Fill the muffin tin by dividing the mixture among the muffin wells. The wells will be filled to the top without overflowing.
- Top the muffins with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, pressing toppings into the batter.
- Bake until golden-brown, 25-30 minutes.
- Cool in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins to finish cooling on a wire rack.
So you’ve finally decided to make some positive lifestyle shifts by eating better, exercising more, and taking care of your mental health. Excellent! These long-term behavior changes may help improve your health and increase your longevity, especially if you can make these behaviors part of a regular and consistent routine.
Maybe your new routine looks something like this:
You start by stocking your fridge with nutrient dense foods and start meal prepping and cooking daily. Then you decide to join your local run club, put up some serious cash for those fancy sneakers and start putting on those miles. Finally you decide to manage your stress with daily meditation and breathing techniques.
Despite your best efforts (and fierce determination) you find yourself slipping into bad habits – grabbing last minute take out for dinner, skipping your morning run club meet-ups, and letting stress get the better of you more often than not. Not long after you’ve started, maybe a couple of weeks, you fully give in to your old ways and resolve to start again next week.
So what gives? Why can’t we stick to healthy lifestyle behaviors?
To answer this question, let’s first look at how habits are formed.
Habits are defined as actions that are triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance (1). In other words, new behaviors should be repeated with the same context (think, location, time of day, etc.) until they become routine/automatic.
For example, if you are trying to start a new workout routine, you’ll want to start by deciding what type of workout you want to do and what time of day you want to do it. So you set a goal to take a 30-minute cycling class, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 am. This S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goal provides an opportunity for this behavior to become automatic, if you can stay consistent with the behavior.
Three Phases of Habit Formation
Habits are formed in three phases: initiation, learning and stability phases (1).
In the initiation phase new behaviors are chosen (e.g., meal prepping and batch cooking). Initiation requires that you figure out what motivates you to perform these new behaviors. It’s important that you are sufficiently motivated to begin a habit-formation attempt. During this phase you will select the context in which these new behaviors will be completed – event or time of day/week (every Sunday).
In the learning phase, driven repetition of this behavior facilitates automaticity – [noun]: working by itself with little or no direct human control. Repetition reinforces and establishes the association in the memory to perform the new desired behavior.
Create healthy habits by repeating a chosen behavior with the same context until it becomes automatic and effortless.
Habit formation culminates in the stability phase. In the above example, meal prepping and batch cooking every Sunday will eventually lead to this behavior being triggered automatically, without awareness, conscious control, mental effort, or deliberation. Behavior performed in consistent settings tends to persist even in the face of motivational shifts.
Building a solid foundation of healthy habits will help in avoiding pitfalls and making you more resistant to lapses. Eating behaviors, physical activity, and daily self-care all have a habitual component. Employing a habit formation approach to health behavior change would be conducive to increasing success in making such lifestyle change permanent.
Steps to Starting A New Healthy Habit
- Decide on a goal that you’d like to achieve for your health.
- Translate this decision into a simple action. This action should be performed consistently on a daily basis.
- Choose a time and place where you will do your chosen action every day of the week.
- Every time you encounter that time and place, do the action.
- Behavior must be repeated, which typically requires continued motivation. Such repetition should occur in a fashion conducive to the development of automaticity.
- It will get easier with time, and within 10 weeks you should find you are doing it automatically without even having to think about it.
How Do You Break Unwanted (Unhealthy) Habits
Habits become hard to break because they are deeply wired, by constant repetition, into our brains. Because habits are patterns of behaviors, breaking the patterns is key to breaking the habit itself. An obvious way to break unwanted habitual behavior is to remove yourself from the environment where the cues (trigger) exists by changing the larger pattern.
On your way to work you pass by a patisserie with the most yummy tasting pastries. You’ve been told by your endocrinologist that you are pre-diabetic and need to monitor your blood sugar levels by eating more nutrient dense foods. The route you typically take to work passes by a patissiere and prior to your diagnosis, it was a frequent stop on your way to work. You built a habit around stopping into this patisserie before work everyday. One way to break this habit… take another route to work. In other words, remove the trigger.
Another approach is to attach the negative unwanted cue-response to new behavior. This solution is more about substituting rather than stopping the behavior. Let’s go back to the example above. On your way to work, you still have a morning ‘treat,’ however, this treat is one that you prepare at home. Maybe you prepare chewy oat bites which are sweetened with applesauce and also a good source of fiber. This new behavior replaces the cue-response to the unwanted behavior. The key here is mapping this out before that triggers have a chance to kick in.
You’ll have to employ some self-regulation here. Start to build awareness around the cues which trigger unwanted responses. Begin to self-monitor behavior to reveal those situations where unwanted habitual behaviors exist. In other words, start to understand yourself and recognize your triggers.
Allow yourself some grace as you navigate this change in behavior; in other words, go easy on yourself if you have a setback. You didn’t develop these behaviors overnight, so it may take twice as long to unlearn or break these habits.
Steps to Breaking a Unwanted Habit
- Define the concrete behavior you want to change.
- Identify the triggers.
- Deal with the triggers.
- Change the larger pattern.
- Develop a substitute plan.
- Allow yourself grace.
Keys To Success
It’s important to aim for small behavior changes initially. Setting a goal to run a marathon when you’ve never run a long distance before can be daunting. A more realistic goal to begin with is to jog three times a week for 15 minutes to build endurance, strength and stamina. When achieving success within small behavior changes, you increase self-efficacy and increase confidence for working toward other health promoting habits.
Lally, P., & Gardner, B. (2013). Promoting habit formation. Health Psychology Review, 7(SUPPL1), S137-S158. DOI: 10.1080/17437199.2011.603640
Gardner, B., Lally, P., & Wardle, J. (2012). Making health habitual: the psychology of “habit-formation” and general practice. The British Journal of General Practice, 62(605), 664–666. http://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp12X659466
Looking to become plant-based, but don’t know where to start? Embracing plant-based can be as easy as incorporating one plant-based meal into your day. A plant-based diet can help reduce your risk of a list of body ailments and increase your stamina, energy levels and metabolism. Start with replacing one meal a week with a plant-based dish. You will be amazed by how good you feel.
Listen, you do not have to be vegetarian or vegan to live a healthy life. In fact, both of those eating patterns take some work to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need (vegans have to be mindful of protein, vitamin B-12, iron, vitamin D, choline, zinc and calcium levels). It’s important to know, you don’t have to restrict what you love in order to be healthy.
We know many of you love meat and are not entirely wanting to give it up. If you love meat, then continue to eat what you enjoy. However, try to purchase wild-caught seafood, organic poultry and grass-fed beef. Animals fed more grains tend to have higher fat levels and reduce omega-3 content than some organic meat and poultry.
Mushrooms are known to be swapped out for steak and chicken because of the tender and moist texture. The Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burger will have you shocked by how good the mushrooms taste. Start with this inspired mushroom burger and experience the multiple flavors of a plant-based burger. It has a sweet and savory taste. The balsamic vinegar adds a velvety texture and explodes with tantalizing aromas. This vegan burger will leave you wanting more and is a great introduction to plant-based foods.
Mushrooms can benefit the body by providing B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, iron and pantothenic acid. They are known to protect heart health, contribute to a healthy digestive system and the iron content helps to enhance the formation of red blood cells.
Portobello mushroom marinade
- ¼ c balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp grade A maple syrup
- 3 large garlic cloves (minced)
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper (freshly ground)
- 4 whole portobello mushrooms (stems removed; scrubbed clean)
- 1 large sweet yellow onion (diced)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ c apple cider vinegar
- 1 c vegan mayo
- 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
- 3 tbsp agave
- ¼ tsp celery seed
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 c shredded veggies (carrots, broccoli slaw, red & green cabbage, etc.)
- 4 soft pretzel burger buns
- 2 c sweet baby lettuces
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Place portobellos in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in marinade, seal bag, and toss to coat mushrooms thoroughly. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Place mushrooms onto a foiled lined sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Drain liquid from the pan, flip mushrooms and continue to roast for 10 additional minutes.
- In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add onions and stir to coat with oil. Spread onions evenly in the pan and cook on low-medium heat for 35-40 minutes until browned. Sprinkle with salt and remove onions from pan.
- Mix shredded veggies. In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, mayo, mustard, agave, celery seed, and salt. Toss veggies with slaw dressing.
- To serve, slice open a pretzel bun. Layer sweet baby lettuces and portobello mushroom on top of the bottom bun. Top portobello mushroom with slaw and caramelized onions. Enjoy!
With the fall season in full swing, it is a great time to take advantage of all the vegetables and fruits this season provides. In fact, the fall season is full of fruits and vegetables that are considered superfoods.
What are superfoods, really? Although the term ‘superfood’ is not defined within the field of nutritional science, Merriam-Webster defines the term as “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.”
The term is readily used by the billion-dollar health and wellness industry to market any popular or trendy health food – typically these foods have been ‘forgotten’ and are thrust back into the spotlight as the new ‘it’ food of the moment. While it’s nice to want to eat foods that are ‘super,’ remember that there are numerous foods that are bursting with nutrient density.
This Fall Superfood Salad is packed with some of these ‘superfood’ players, which also have to be in season. Let’s rundown the lineup:
Sweet potatoes (often sold as “yams”) are available year-round from local sources in warmer climates and from late summer through winter in other areas. They possess anti-inflammatory benefits and are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of iron.
Brussels sprouts are typically available year round, with the peak season occurring between September and mid-February. Brussels sprouts are full of phytonutrients (natural plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) and are a very good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, iron and fiber.
Pomegranates only ripen in warmer climates are available from October through December. The seeds and arils of the pomegranate are bursting with antioxidants called punicalagins. Pomegranates have potent anti-inflammatory properties, which are largely mediated by the antioxidant properties of the punicalagins.
Pumpkin Seeds – pumpkins are the most common winter squash and come into season in September in most areas. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, minerals and a small amount of omega-3 fats.
Embrace plant-based with this salad and enjoy all the amazing superfoods Fall has to offer!
Portobello mushroom marinade
- 1 c quinoa (makes 3 cups)
- ½ c pepitas
- 1 tsp sunflower oil
- ¼ tsp cumin
- 1 lb sweet potatoes cubed
- 1 tsp red pepper crushed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 4 c mixed greens
- 4 c Brussels sprouts shredded
- 1 avocado
- ½ c pomegranate seeds
- 3 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 c pomegranate juice
- ½ c olive oil extra virgin
- ¼ c maple syrup Grade A
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp salt Kosher
- ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Once all of the water is absorbed and the tails are showing, remove quinoa from heat and scoop into a bowl and refrigerate in an airtight container.
- Prepare pepitas. Preheat oven to 325° F. In a small bowl, toss pepitas with 1 tsp of olive oil, paprika, cumin, and sea salt. Spread pepitas on a foil lined sheet tray and place in oven. Toast pepitas for approximately 10 minutes or until pepitas are slightly golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Increase oven temperature to 375° F. Scrub sweet potatoes to clean and chop them into cubes, approx. 1” in size. Drizzle cubed potatoes with 1 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle chili flakes, cinnamon, coriander, sea salt and ground pepper over top. Toss potatoes to evenly distribute spices. Place potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and fork tender. Cool to room temperature.
- Add all ingredients in a glass jar and whisk together to combine.
- In a large bowl, toss together mixed greens and shredded Brussels sprouts, quinoa and pepitas. Add cooled sweet potatoes.
- To save time, buy sweet potatoes already cubed and Brussels sprouts already shredded.
- Dressing can be stored in a glass tight container, refrigerated for up to two weeks.
- Nourished Tip: Level up this recipe by adding a protein of your choice.
Navigating the impact of the global pandemic on our daily lives has caused many of us to experience significant amounts of stress. Stress can stimulate a heavy toll on your physical and mental well-being.
Many of us have tried different avenues to relieve the burden of stress, such as meditating, disengaging from social media, and exercising in your converted living rooms to home gyms. The impact that stress has on your overall health and wellness cannot be understated.
Stress can contribute to the breakdown of the intestinal walls allowing bacteria to slip through and cause inflammation. An interruption of nutrient absorption can occur causing an increase in gas production and discomfort. While short term (acute) stress can slow digestion, long term (chronic) stress can cause GI distress such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion or upset stomach. Chronic stress can lead to more serious issues like irritable bowel syndrome and other GI disorders.
The Gut Microbiome
Your gastrointestinal tract is home to the human microbiome, the genome of all our microbes. The human microbiome is composed of a community of bacteria which serves a critical function in the development of immunity, defense against pathogens, production of short-chain fatty acids important in energy metabolism, and synthesis of vitamins and fat storage. In fact, because of the impact the microbiome has on the human body, it is considered an essential organ of the body, without which we could not function correctly (1).
Factors That Shape the Gut Microbiota
A healthy human gut can host up to at least 1000 different species of bacteria, viruses and fungi. This complex ecosystem is influenced by numerous factors including age, genetics, drug use, stress, smoking, and diet (2). In fact, the composition of your microbiome gains it’s diversity and complexity starting at birth – exposure (or non-exposure) of bacteria in the birth canal during vaginal birth, being bottle fed or breastfed – and is further developed as we age and interact with our environment – living with a dog, cat, or close to farm animals, the number of antibiotic treatments administered, and environmental toxin exposure.
Stress and Its Effects
In response to physical and mental stress, the body, specifically the adrenal glands, release a hormone called cortisol (3). Cellular cortisol receptors help to regulate blood sugar and metabolism, reduce inflammation, and formulate memory. When you experience stress, your body shifts into a “fight or flight” response, triggering the sympathetic nervous system. Cortisol helps to limit any functions that aren’t essential in a fight-or-flight situation. Instead of crumbling under the weight of stressful moments, tasks or events, our body’s built in response helps us to cope with the stress and eventually return back to homeostasis.
When experiencing constant state stress as you might be now during this pandemic, your cortisol levels can remain high which may lead to adrenal fatigue, gastrointestinal distress and premature aging. In fact, specifically in regards to digestive health, short term (acute) stress can slow digestion, long term (chronic) stress can cause GI distress such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion or upset stomach. All of this stress can weaken the intestinal barrier, allowing gut bacteria to enter the body causing inflammation.
Additional signs and symptoms of high cortisol levels include:
- Rapid weight gain around the face, abdomen and chest
- Flushed face
- High blood pressure
- Changes in skin – thinning skin, easy bruising, acne
- Slowed healing
- Muscle weakness
- Severe fatigue
- Irritability and mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
What Can We Do?
Well, being more mindful of our digestive health can help. Digestive health represents vital physiological processes which are central to overall well-being and quality of life; it’s important to help keep us feeling our best.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Reduce stress by taking breaks from upsetting content coming from the news, social media or a close friend/family member. Just turn it off and turn on something that brings positive energy into your life. Try some gentle yoga, mediation or going for a walk to help to relieve your stress and create more mindful, restorative moments. Reduce tension and relieve stress with breathing exercises. Breathe deeply to relax and bring more calm to your day.
Move Your Body
Regular exercise releasing endorphins – yup those feel good hormones – that help to boost energy levels and help you to maintain a positive attitude. Do exercises that you love, whether it’s lifting weights, running, playing tennis or football tag with the family. Keeping your body moving will help support your energy levels and reduce stress. Aim for both 150 minutes of aerobic moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (4).
Consume Prebiotics + Probiotics
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are living microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts, must confer a health benefit (5). Probiotics work with your gut microbiota (the trillions of bacteria living in your intestine) to break down non-digestible components of your diet to produce beneficial substances (such as vitamins or short-chain fatty acids), help with nutrient absorption, and out-compete the potentially harmful bacteria (6).
Regular consumption of probiotics can work together with your gut microbiota to help support digestive health, improve the bacteria makeup in the gut microbiome and create the ideal environment for more good bacteria to flourish and support digestion. Probiotics are commonly found in dairy and plant-based versions of yogurt + kefir; some fermented foods (kombucha, kimchi) and supplements. Simply check the label for LIVE CULTURES.
Prebiotics are the nutrients in food that nourish the microbiome in your body. They are commonly found in complex carbohydrates, such as apples, oats, beans, bananas, and peas. Consuming prebiotics will help stimulate the healthy bacteria and maintain gut health.
Up Your Fiber Game & Hydrate Like A Boss!
Be sure to hydrate and get enough fiber in your diet to further improve digestion.
Hydration plays an important role in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract. Drinking water and ingesting fiber helps to dissolve nutrients so that they may be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the cells. Insufficient hydration will slow the digestive process and chronic poor hydration can lead to constipation.
Making an effort to drink more water can help make your bowel movements easier to pass, keeping you regular. Daily fluid requirements vary by age, but generally, otherwise healthy adults should aim to drink 25-30 ml per kg of bodyweight to remain hydrated daily.
Fiber plays an important role in gut health by fueling healthy gut microbiota and helping regulate bowel movements, keeping them soft and regular (7). Dietary fiber is the part of plant-based food that mostly passes through your digestive system without breaking down or being digested. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is the main type of fiber found in grains, legumes, nuts & seeds, fruits & vegetables. When digested it pulls in and absorbs water, partially dissolving into a gel-like substance, which slows down digestion. Conversely, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and passes through the digestive tract pretty much intact, adding bulk to our stool. Insoluble fiber can help improve various digestive symptoms associated with irregular bowel movements.
The daily recommendation for fiber is 25g of fiber for women and 35g for men. Get fierce with fiber by including non-starchy vegetables, complex carbohydrates and fruits into your daily meals. One easy way to include fiber is to level up your breakfast by adding chia seeds and berries in your oatmeal.
Managing stress is important in maintaining a healthy gut and improving our overall health. Daily stress is inevitable, but you can utilize techniques to help minimize the effects of stress on our gut health. Staying hydrated and consuming probiotics/prebiotics, and high-fiber foods will improve gut health by aiding in digestion and supporting regular bowel movements. Reducing stress by practicing relaxation techniques and getting regular exercise will also keep your digestive system running as it should. Remember, you can’t always avoid stress, but you can take steps to deal with stress in a positive way.
“Feel The Burn!” | The Science Behind the Barre Burn
Have you ever been in barre class, and during the workout your muscles start to burn and your legs begin to quiver and shake? Well, you my friend, you have experienced what is known in the barre community as the “barre burn”.
If you haven’t had the chance to take a barre class, you are missing out! Let’s find out why.
What is a Barre Workout Anyway?
The barre class workout technique was developed in the 1950s by Lotte Berk, a German-born modern dancer. After injuring her back, Lotte combined ballet barre routines with rehabilitative therapy to create a fitness system. This technique is inspired by elements of ballet, yoga, and Pilates, and focuses on low-impact, high intensity movements designed to strengthen and tone your body in ways that few other workouts can.
With barre, you have the opportunity to work your slow-twitch (Type 1) muscle fibers to build strength endurance. The muscles in each group are fatigued via small targeted movements, high repetition, and light weight or resistance. Interspersed throughout the class are moments of stretching and core work. The class is also designed to boost endurance, improve balance, increase range of motion, promote better posture, and help with weight management.
The Difference Between Slow- and Fast-Twitch Muscles
So you may be asking yourself, what are slow twitch muscles? Skeletal muscle is made up of fibers that are bundled together and work simultaneously to contract and provide the movements that we need to function throughout our day. These fibers are categorized into two types called slow-twitch (Type I) and fast-twitch (Type II), and the difference lies in the way they create energy for their contractions. Type I fibers are more efficient and can contract for longer periods of time, whereas Type II fibers are better for short bursts of speed and strength and fatigue more quickly.
Slow twitch muscle fibers are mainly used for activities that require efficiency over time such as maintaining posture or endurance exercises like running a marathon. These fibers have a low threshold meaning they are activated first before fast twitch muscle fibers, but aren’t as easily fatigued. They are highly vascularized and have many mitochondria, mini energy producing cells, which utilize aerobic (with oxygen) respiration for energy. Aerobic respiration is a long process involving many different steps to create energy in the form of ATP from amino acids, carbohydrates and fatty acids. Although it may take longer, aerobic respiration provides a larger, steady stream of energy increasing stamina and oxygen capacity of your muscles allowing them to keep going for long periods of time (1).
Fast twitch muscle fibers are generally built for exercises that require short, explosive, powerful bursts of energy such as heavy lifting or football. These muscles have a high activation threshold and are activated when the slow twitch muscles cannot meet the strength or force requirements of the activity. Their ability to contract quickly with a great amount of force comes from the anaerobic (without oxygen) respiration process of creating energy. Since there are significantly fewer mitochondria in these muscle fibers, ATP is formed quickly from energy stored inside of the contracting muscle cells in the form of glycogen (2). This process will provide much less energy and also begin to build up lactic acid. There are two types of fast twitch muscle fibers including Type IIa and Type IIb. Type IIa, fast oxidative-glycolytic, utilizes some oxygen to help convert glycogen to ATP. Type IIb, fast glycolytic, has the fewest mitochondria and therefore utilizes no oxygen relying on glucose to produce energy (1).
Think of muscles fibers as a spectrum with Type I slow twitch at one end and Type IIb fast twitch at the other end. Type IIa fast twitch muscle fibers will lie somewhere in between having the ability to utilize some oxygen to create ATP necessary for the fast, short term intensive exercises while recovering slightly quicker than Type IIb (1).
So What’s The Deal with the Barre Burn?
So you’re in barre class and suddenly: uncontrollable shaking – check! legs on fire – check!
We have all experienced this burning sensation in our muscles, but why does this happen?
There are three pathways the body uses to create energy: phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative. All three systems work simultaneously to a degree, but parts of the system will become predominant depending on what the needs of the body are.
During short term intensive exercise your fast twitch muscles, which are anaerobic (without oxygen), use energy that is already present in your body along with glucose. These intensive exercises activate an ATP-PC energy system also known as the phosphagen system. This process synthesizes ATP from a high energy phosphate called phosphocreatine (PC) which is stored in your muscle cells.
According to studies, this phosphagen system can only create energy for about 10 seconds of high intensity effort which is when the glycolytic system takes over (3). This system quickly compensates for the lack of ATP using glycolysis for energy lasting only a few minutes and can ultimately result in an accumulation of lactate and hydrogen molecules. This build-up of hydrogen ions decreases pH causing a state of acidosis interfering with muscle contractions through a number of ways which is why you feel that burn and discomfort. This is now when the oxidative system kicks, which relies on energy derived from fats and carbohydrates.
What’s the Takeaway?
It is beneficial to understand the science behind how your muscles react and contract during different types of exercises. This knowledge can help you integrate the right workouts into your routine to help you reach your goals.
Remember, slow twitch muscles use oxygen to create energy for contractions providing a long steady stream of energy. Both barre and pilates exercises engage these slow twitch muscle fibers using low-impact movements to the point of exhaustion. These types of workouts also increase cardiovascular endurance and metabolism, which helps to quickly burn calories. Other benefits include: a lifted bum (oh hey!), improved core strength (flat tummy!), increased flexibility (yup – you too can do a split!) and improved posture.
Barre workouts are a definitely must add for anyone who is looking to vary their resistance/strength training workouts, build flexibility and core strength and improve strength endurance.
Fast twitch muscles use very little to no oxygen (anaerobic) for energy and provide those short, powerful, quick bursts of energy. These muscles are initiated during workouts such as powerlifting, sprinting and high intensity interval training (HIIT) but will also contribute to that lactic acid build up causing that burning sensation. Similar to aerobic exercise, studies show that anaerobic exercise can help increase the reduction in non-esterified fatty acids (2). This study showed the benefit of an aerobic workout followed by an anaerobic workout resulting in the release of triglyceride stores and a reduction in BMI.
It comes down to finding the exercise that you enjoy the most while listening to your body and being aware of how these exercises are making you feel. Determining your goals and utilizing the knowledge of the different muscle fibers can help you create an exercise program that includes the right training strategies to maximize efficiency and enjoyment.
Is the burn experienced in barre class the ‘bad kind of burn’? Not at all. The burn might trigger some discomfort, but it is definitely an indication that your muscles are being challenged, which makes them stronger. Barre workouts are a definitely must add for anyone who is looking to vary their resistance/strength training workouts, build flexibility and core strength and improve strength endurance. Happy shaking!