Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.


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The season of eating

Hummm, what shall I try first?

I hate to do this to you, but it needs to be done. As I’ve said before, Halloween marks the beginning of the season of eating. It starts with Halloween candy on Halloween and ends with champagne brunch or a greasy hangover recovery meal on New Years Day. In spite of our best efforts most of us end up adding layer of blubber to our winter coats during this period.

Let’s start with Halloween. Obviously the best way to keep from packing on the pounds is to completely abstain from taking a dip into the candy bag. Since I’m pretty sure every one of us (except for me because I’m perfect) is going to sample at least one treat this Halloween, there are a few things to consider.

  • First — My fav, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (5 mini ones) contain 220 calories, 13g fat and would take me 20 minutes to burn off running a 10-minute mile. Yikes! 20 minutes for just 5 baby cups and who can eat just 5? Not me! Is it worth it? No!
  • A better choice — Dark chocolate. Dark Choco contains less sugar and is rich in antioxidants.
  • Go nuts & fruits — Chocolate that contains raisins and or nuts contain a variety of nutrients, healthy fats and fiber that displace some of the total sugar.
  • White is evil — White chocolate is your least healthy option. It doesn’t actually contain any cocoa, only cocoa butter and it’s packed with sugar and added fat from the extra milk products used. Uck!
  • The bottom line — You put the calories in; you must burn ‘em out. You know that. Right?
  • Some math — 4 Mini Musketeers are equal to 94 calories, 4 Mini Snickers 170 cal’s, 1 snack box Raisinets, 150 cal’s and 4 Milk Maid Caramels contain 150 calories. The average 150-pound person will burn off about 115 calories during 30 minutes of cycling or 340 calories running for the same amount of time at a moderate pace. Think about that.

While I really do try to stay away from the candy I understand the desire to indulge. With that, I hope you will simply remember to work a little harder this season to keep from busting out of your holiday gear. Remember, calories in, calories out.

As always I’ll be here with suggestions so we can all stay fit and fine this yummy season.

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Super ch-ch-ch Chia

Chia, not just for fun anymore

Hopefully this is not new news to you, if it is, you may think I’ve gone completely off my rocker. Today’s topic is Chia Seeds. Yep, those seeds you grew on the ceramic figurines when you were a kid. We all had them. Right?

Now a days, eating chia seeds is very much in fashion. Apparently chia seeds rival the ever-popular flax seeds with their nutritional content and health benefits adding them to the list of “superfoods.”

Here’s the lowdown on Chia Seeds

  • First, I should admit that the seeds we’re meant to eat are not the same seeds you grow on ceramic figures.
  • Chia seeds are a nutty tasting whole grain, extremely high in dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • A 1-oz. serving of raw chia seeds contain about 9g of fat, 4g of protein, 11g fiber and 137 calories. The recommended daily dose of chia is 1 oz per day.
  • Chia seeds expand up to 9 times their size in your stomach helping you to feel full faster. Think about that for a second!
  • Whole chia seeds can be added to salads, smoothies and cereal, or where ever you’d use nuts or seeds. Ground chia is used in baking; however remember the daily dosage requirement. I noticed when looking at recipes for muffins that most “chia” baking only includes about a tablespoon of seeds for a recipe that makes 12 servings. If you only get a couple of seeds in a muffin it kind of defeats the purpose.

There’s tons of info out there on the benefits of eating chia. Do some Googling or watch this short video if you want more. As far as I’m concerned, this is enough to get me to try adding some chia to my diet.

P.s. You can buy chia seeds at your local health food store and on-line.


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Cauliflower ain’t no spud!

Cauliflower

A while back it became popular to substitute smushed up, over cooked cauliflower for mashed potatoes in an effort to save calories.

People boiled or steamed chunks of the cruciferous veggie and mashed, blended or electric mixed it to get the consistency of mashed potatoes. Then, they’d add lots of butter and milk and all the other good stuff one would add to make really yummy mashed potatoes. While the cauliflower mush does taste okay, it isn’t mashed potatoes and with all the stuff added it kinda makes the calorie cutting point, mute.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting the kibosh on mushed cauliflower, I’m just gearing up to offer a few options that I feel maintain the integrity of the often under appreciated, very nutritious brainy looking orb.

First — Cauliflower a cruciferous vegetable, in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards. Cauliflower, along with the rest of the cruciferous family is rich in cancer fighting properties as well as lends support to our body’s detox system, antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. For detailed health benefits visit here.

A few of my fav details — One cup of cauliflower contains about 28 calories, 3.5 grams fiber, omega 3’s and 2.5 grams protein.

Personally, I’m not a massive fan of cauliflower. However, realizing it’s health benefits and in an effort to eat a diverse diet I’ve come to appreciate, and actually enjoy it.

Here are my suggestions — Choose a head that’s compact with creamy white florets. An old cauliflower will be yellowish. Whatever you do make sure to rinse the orb well. All those nooks and crannies provide lots of room for fungus to hide. Don’t wash until you’re ready to use.

According to the World Wide Web the best way to prepare cauliflower is to sauté it. I’ve never done that so I can’t say, but I suggest we all give it a try. The second best (for reasons of nutrition) way to cook cauliflower is to roast it, which I am proficient at.

Here is how I roast my cauli

In a large bowl, stir together:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry power
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Take one large head cauliflower cut into florets and toss to cover with the mixture. Bake in a single layer on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until chunks are browned on the bottom and tender when pierced with a knife. Serve hot or at room temp. Very yummy!

Obviously eating cauliflower raw is a very good option, dip it in hummus and put some in your salad. They say it’s good with red onion and feta. Give it a try and let me know what you think.


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Very interesting

I can help you with that!

Well, it’s Friday. I hope you’ve had a fruitful week. I must say I’m very disappointed that only one person responded to last Fridays post. Remember, “Put the hurt on Kelley?” I asked you to help me get out of my comfort zone and challenge me to a little friendly competition. My friend Dawn came through, but the rest of you seem a bit shy. It’s not too late. You can still play.

In my travels this week I’ve learned a few things that I’m quite impressed with. I hope you find them interesting and useful as well.

Endive — According to Dr. Oz, if you eat ½ cup of endive two times per week you can reduce the risk of getting ovarian cancer by 75%. I say, what the heck, eat up! All you have to do it put it in your salad. Super easy and either way, good for you. Click here for additional info on endive.

Muscle Pain Relief — I read this on Basic Training SF’s blog, and then did a little checking on my own. It’s true! Peppermint oil can be used externally for providing relief from pain. It’s believed that the presence of calcium antagonism in peppermint oil aids in removing pain. It also improves blood circulation, which aids in soothing sore muscles.

Basic Training says, “Dilute peppermint oil with water (or body oil) and give your back, shoulders, hamstrings, or IT band a rub down. Instant gratification.” Check out their site for other good ideas.

Write an “ignore list” — Most of us have to-do lists but they never seem to end. Cross one thing off and another few seem to appear. Real Simple Magazine suggests, in order to succeed in today’s distraction-prone world, you should ask yourself: What is not worth doing? Write down what you’re willing to disregard, emails you don’t really need to respond to, posting things on Facebook, the guilt of not doing the things on your to-do list. Make the list and get those things out of your head. Review the list from time to time just to be sure they aren’t getting your undeserved attention.

Okey-dokey, that’s it for me till Monday. Do something to talk about this weekend!


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Fig fun

Yummy figs

I love figs! Squishy fresh figs, dried figs, Fig Newton’s, figs on pizza, figs and prosciutto. You name it, I love the figs!

A few years ago my friend M (better not give his full name) and I rode our bikes from SF out to Nicasio. That’s a 75 mile ride round trip. M & I rode together a lot and we were always experimenting, trying to find the best ride food. On this day, M decided to eat a bunch of dried figs because he’d heard that figs were full of things that would benefit him on a long ride (carbs, sugar and potassium). The only problem is that M ate a whole lot of figs, like dozens of them. He ate them before the ride and stashed them in his pocket to eat all through the ride. He ate nothing but dried figs for miles.  The problem came when he realized that figs are full of fiber. In fact, they contain more fiber per serving than any other fruit. In case you don’t realize, when you eat a lot of fiber you tend to get a little bloated. And, a lot of fiber and sugar in your system can cause a little rumbling. The last thing you want is a rumbly tummy when you’re miles from home trying to peddle your bike up a hill or two. After that ride, M never spoke of figs again. It’s kinda too bad because they’re really good for you. Like anything, in moderation.

With that, here are a few things I know about figs and why you should eat them.

The Basics

  • Figs range dramatically in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety, of which there are more than one hundred and fifty.  Some of the most popular varieties are: Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh.  Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh.  Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh.  Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh.  Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, which has a light green skin and pink-tan flesh.
  • Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure.
  • Figs have nutrients especially important for today’s busy lifestyles. One quarter-cup serving of dried figs provides 5 grams of fiber — 20% of the recommended Daily Value. That serving also adds 6% of iron, 6% of calcium, and 7% of the Daily Value for potassium. And, they have no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. Recent research has shown that California Figs also have a high quantity of polyphenol antioxidants. One medium size fig contains about 40 calories.
  • Figs are harvested in the late summer and early fall.

Some interesting bits

  • In Greece – Figs were used as a training food by the early Olympic athletes, and figs were also presented as laurels to the winners as the first Olympic medals.
  • The Romans – Pliny, the Roman writer (52-113 AD) said, “Figs are restorative. They increase the strength of young people, preserve the elderly in better health and make them look younger with fewer wrinkles.”
  • Figs provide more fiber than any other common fruit or vegetable. The fiber in figs is both soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are important for good health. And remember, fiber has a very positive effect on weight management!

How to Select and Store

Since fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two in advance of when you are planning on eating them. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. Smelling figs can also give you clues into their freshness and taste. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour, which is an indication that they may be spoiled.

There you go. It’s currently fig season so eat up! I suggest eating ‘em fresh out of the basket, or you can put them in salads, oatmeal, on pizzas, all sorts of things. Here are some simple fig recipes if you want to have a look.

Enjoy…


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Making muscle

Doin' Dips

As I mentioned the other day, a pound of muscle takes up more room in the body than a pound of fat. Muscle also burns calories to maintain itself while fat just sits weighing you down.

When I encourage you to gain muscle, I’m not suggesting that you bulk up and enter a bodybuilding contest. I am simply suggesting that you take the muscles that you have and feed them (pump them up) a little bit. When you do this you will not get bigger, you will become toned and smaller as the increased muscle will burn the excess fat.

Think about this, after the age of 40 our bodies start to lose muscle.  As you lose muscle, your strength decreases, increasing your risks of injury from muscle weakness, poor balance and fatigue. Not to mention weight gain. Need I say more?

With that, below is a very basic workout you can do anywhere, all you need is your body. Give it a try.

  • Warm up with a 10 – 15 minute walk or jog. Swing your arms around, across your body and around and around like you’re swimming.
  • 10 Push ups (on your knees, against the wall or boy style, whatever you can manage but is still hard!)
  • 20 – 30 (each leg) Walking Lunges
  • 20 – 30 (each leg) Standing Straight Leg Kickbacks
  • 20 – 30 Tricep Dips
  • 20 – 30 Calf Raises
  • Plank – Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Now repeat the sequence two times for a total of three sets.

Add this basic circuit to your weekly fitness routine. Do it three times per week if you can manage.

Remember, this is just a sampling of things you can do. If you want to come up with your own routine be sure to work everything; chest, back, quads, shoulders, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, calves and abs. You know where to find me if you need help.

P.s. Always suck your navel toward your spine while performing every exercise. Inhale during the easy part of the movement, exhaling during the more difficult half.  Do not hold your breath when performing any exercise.

P.s.s. The basic rule of strength training is: to get stronger, work with heavy weights and perform fewer repetitions. To promote tone and endurance, use lighter weights and complete more repetitions. For the purpose of this post I’m suggesting that you start with building endurance and adding tone (light weight, lots of reps).


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The scale is not your friend

Fat vs Muscle - That's a lot of fat!

Years ago I stopped getting on the scale. Why? Because it’s full of bull and I have no patience for bull. Why do I say that the scale is full of “bull?” Because it tells me things that have very little bearing in reality.

I learned a long time ago that while the scale may tell you that you’re light (and that’s what most of us want to hear), that doesn’t mean you’re fit, strong or healthy. It simply means that you’re light, or starved, or possibly dehydrated on that particular day. Or, maybe you’ve been dieting and you are low in body fat, but can you jog up a flight of stairs without gasping? Got any muscle tone or are you giggly? You might be light but you may not be fit.

In my mind the best judge of fitness is via the way you look and feel, and the best way to judge the addition of girth is through the constraint of your clothing and reflection in the mirror, rather than the vision on the scale.

Here’s my question: Do you want to be light (thin) or do you want to be healthy? I like being healthy  myself. I am not light, I have never been light, I will never be light and I don’t care about being light according to the scales definition. I don’t need to be particularly “light?”  I’m healthy, fit, and look pretty darn swank as well as can put up a hell-of-a good fight when challenged (I mean in a race or fitness challenge not bar brawl…but I’d be okay there too).

If you want to look light, get fit; get regular aerobic exercise and build muscle rather than fat. A large part of the key to fitness is muscle mass, remember that muscle is denser than fat (%18) so it takes up that much less room in your body. Visualize this, one pound of butter is equal in size to one pound of fat. You know what butter looks like; it’s the whole box of butter. Not one stick, all 4 sticks that come in the box total one pound. Now, one pound of muscle is about the size of your fist. Visually much smaller than a box of butter. Plus, muscle burns calories to stay alive so it works with you to burn fat. Fat just sits there looking lumpy until you burn it off.

This difference in fat vs muscle mass is why you can have two 140 lb women, one a size 8 and one a size 12. Not only does the size 8 women look and feel great, most likely she’ll live a healthy, longer life. Plus, she gets to eat more than the size 12 women because she’s full of strong calorie burning muscles rather than lumpy fat. Now isn’t that worth a little sweat a few times a week?

I’ll be back bright and early on Wednesday with some easy muscle-building ideas.