Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Copious Cranberries‏

By Lisa VanWilliams

No doubt about it, cranberries are healthy and packed with vitamin C and nutrients. It's not just a decorative side sauce for the Thanksgiving Turkey, they can be prepared in many ways throughout the year.  This festive fruit that grows on a vine can be dried, juiced, sauced, jammed, and wined. The scarlet red berries are a traditional reminder of fall, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving & Christmas and it is a great time to get some fresh cranberries as harvest is usually over by November.

Massachusetts is the second largest growing region in the world with 14,000 acres of bogs and some of the vines being more than 150 years old. The Cape Cod Cranberry Association states that is takes about 4,400 cranberries to make a gallon of juice.

Why are they good for you?

  • vitamin C and fiber
  • protects against urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • anti inflammatory benefits
  • improves immunity support
  • cardiovascular benefits by decreasing blood pressure & lower cholesterol
  • protects against heart disease
  • anti-oxidant protection
  • anti-cancer benefits that may support breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancers
  • digestive track benefits & helps treat ulcers
  • good for your mouth health (kills bad bacteria)
  • flushes the system
  • improves mental health

So don't just bust out the cranberry sauce for the holidays because they can be incorporated into many dishes and drinks. Coastal Living did a great article called 15 Best Mouthwatering Cranberry Recipes if you need some ideas. http://www.coastalliving.com/food/kitchen-assistant/15-mouth-watering-cranberry-recipes-00414000072665/


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cheat Days

By Lisa VanWilliams
It is the aftermath of the Halloween GMO apocalypse nightmare and if you ate a few Reese's, Kit Kats, or Almond Joys, good for you!  Whether you prefer to indulge weekly or monthly, it's healthy and it's ok to fall off the wagon -as long as you put limits and don't go buck wild buffet style and ruin your weeks hard work.  It is nice to have the option to treat yourself so you don't go feeling deprived of the things you might enjoy. The simple things in life can be so satisfying and sometimes you just have those cravings for your Mom's down home cooking or a slice of pizza and it's ok. Cheers to Cheat Days !
In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires.  ~Benjamin Franklin

Just make sure to get back on your program and don't get derailed:)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wellness - What Does It Mean To You?

By Lisa VanWilliams

Wellness is described as healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. It is a view of health that emphasizes the state of the entire being and its ongoing development. It is awareness and the initiative to improve oneself by making better choices.  Are you the happiest and healthiest you can be? It's a work in progress for most of us. Find your balance to achieve optimal health.

What has a big impact on your wellness? Several factors such as social, emotional, physical, intellectual, environmental, occupational, and spiritual may affect your wellness while in pursuit of happiness.

Social -  the ability to function among others in this crazy place called Earth. Ones ability to establish an maintain positive relationships with people.

Emotional - the ability to understand and cope with the challenges life can bring. The ability to share feelings through the highs and lows of this thing called life.

Physical - the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life that allows one to function. Things like making appointments with doctors, eating a balanced diet, and getting some daily exercise are behaviors that influence your wellness.

Intellectual - the ability to open your mind to new ideas and experiences that can be applied to improve your own life.

Environmental - the ability to recognize our own responsibility for the world around us. The ability to have a positive impact on the environment around you.

Occupational - the ability to get personal fulfillment from your job or career while still maintaining balance in your life.

Spiritual - the ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives. Values and actions. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cool Cukes

By Lisa VanWilliams

Whether you like it sliced up in your salad, tzatziki style for dipping sauce, rolled up with sushi, or just plain for a snack, cucumbers always add that little extra something. They are a refreshing, healthy, and hydrating low calorie snack because they consist of over 90% water. Organic is the way to go if you can, and it's said there is a rich source of nutrients in the seeds if you don't mind leaving them in. This long green fruit is believed to have originated in Nepal. It is a fruit that is commonly mistaken as a vegetable.

China takes the lead by far in worldwide cucumber production. Florida and California are able to provide and produce the U.S. with cucumbers for most of the year with Mexico importing here during the winter months.

Why are cucumbers healthy to eat and not just good at ridding puffy eyes (anti-inflammatory):

  • good for the digestion system -flushes toxins
  • promotes joint health
  • may help fight cancers such as breast, ovarian, uterine & prostate
  • antioxidant nutrients - boosts your immunities
  • keeps body hydrated
  • packed with vitamin k (helps blood clot, great for bone health)
  • aids in weight loss
  • stabilizes blood pressure
  • refreshes the mouth

It's a great snack to have with the kids that you can get creative with too. Mini cucumber sandwiches, hollow them out and fill them with chicken salad, cut them in sticks and dip them in a tasty dill mix, there are tons of recipes out there to attempt and explore. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Get Rid Of The Bricks

By Lisa VanWilliams

Do you know that 5 pounds of fat is equivalent to a stone brick?

If you are not sure what weight range you should exactly be in,  it's all determined by BMI (body mass index) and/or body fat percentages.

The American Council on Exercise gives these recommendations for ideal amounts of body fat:

Percent Body Fat Norms for Men and Women

Description Women Men
Essential Fat 10-13% 2-5%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Acceptable 25-31% 18-24%
Obesity >32% >25%

The CDC also offers a BMI calculator if you prefer a weight range and a BMI average:

Don't carry more bricks than you need, because it's harder to break down a wall than smash a few bricks.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Exercise Benefits

By Lisa VanWilliams

Sometimes it is a good reminder to think of all the reasons your out there putting miles on your sneakers and lifting repetitiously at the gym. Making healthy choices in a world where you are surrounded by temptation every day is not an easy task.

The Mayo Clinic did an article where they list 7 benefits of regular physical activity and they included the following:
  1. Exercise controls weight
  2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
  3. Exercise improves mood
  4. Exercise boosts energy
  5. Exercise promotes better sleep
  6. Exercise puts the spark back in your sex life
  7. Exercise can be fun
So there it is, just 30 minutes a day can help start improving so many aspects of your life. Park a few more spaces away than you normally would at the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or do an extra lap at Costco. Consciously try to make better decisions every day to improve yourself.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Peanuts - Not Just For Elephants

By Lisa VanWilliams

Good ole ball game peanuts.  Peanuts are a great afternoon snack that not only can keep idle hands busy, but they offer protein, nutrients, and they are high in fiber. Peanuts are one of America's basic crops with Georgia being the leader in production for the states.

The traveling circus introduced them to many back in the day when they went cross country by wagon. This nutty tasting snack became popular in America after the Civil War when George Washington Carter played a role in increasing their popularity. Peanuts have been around for over 7,500 years and they are believed to have originated out of South America.

Why are peanuts good for you?
  • lowers risk for cardiovascular disease (resveratrol)
  • lowers cancer risk (resveratrol)
  • fights hunger
  • packed with anti-oxidants
  • lower risk of developing gallstones
  • niacin rich which helps protects against Alzheimer's & it is good for blood flow

Also a few facts from the American Peanut Council:

  1. Peanuts are the #1 snack nut consumed in the U.S., accounting for 2/3 of the snack nut market.
  2. U.S. peanut farmers produce around 1.9 million tons of peanuts annually on approximately 1.44 million acres.
  3. Peanuts and peanut butter are protein powerhouses - providing 15% (7.6 g) of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) level (50 g) of protein per serving (one ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter).

Warning: I feel compelled to warn you that peanut shells will be allllll overrrrrrr your house and/or area of nut cracking. Keep the Dust Buster on hand for anxiety relief.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pineapple - The Tropical Treat

By Lisa VanWilliams

It's not just what Sponge Bob lives in, it is so much more. The main player in the Pina Colada, the top of the Upside-Down cake, sweet topping on your pizza, fruit next to the little umbrella in a tropical drink, grilled or straight up plain PINEAPPLE. Finally something that tastes good and it's healthy.

Pineapples originated in South America and then made their way around the World. They say it resembles a pine cone and that's how it got it's name. Pineapple starts to spoil as soon as they are cut, so back in the early days it was considered a prestigious treat and a rarity because they traveled by ship and it took so long. Hawaii starting planting them in the 1900's and the island pioneered pineapple production with companies like Dole and Del Monte. Today 86 countries produce pineapples with the leaders being the Philippines, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Thailand. 

Why are they good for you?

  • packed with vitamin C and manganese (increases energy)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • digestive benefits
  • anti-oxidant
  • immunity support
  • strengthens bones
  • helps prevents vision loss (macular degeneration)
  • fiber and potassium
  • bromelain packed which is said to have healing powers
Fresh pineapple is the way to go if you want to tantalize your taste buds.  It lasts longer if you store it in the fridge. We even keep some frozen to have on hand for fruit smoothies. Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, pineapples offer some great health benefits.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Soreness From Exercising

By Lisa & Steve VanWilliams

So, we have been increasing our activity levels and intensity lately and boy am I sore. I feel like an 80 year woman after I sit for a while and try to get my muscles moving again. Why does this happen?

It's called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and it happens 24-72 hours after exercise. There is also acute muscle soreness which happens right after the exercise. Your basically contracting and tearing (or rupturing) your muscles and lengthening them causing them to swell. The body is increasing stamina, strength, pain threshold and tolerance levels.  The body is adapting and recovering from the exertion.

This soreness can occur from changing your routine up, increasing intensity or duration, or starting a new exercise. The eccentric portion of weight baring exercises or load baring create the most muscle soreness - which is the lowering phase of an exercise. Some great exercises that you can really concentrate on the eccentric part of the motion include
squats, push-ups, running downhill, lowering weights, and going down stairs. To maximize your workouts your should lower weight slowly, squat slower on the down phase (eccentric) and lift (concentric) a bit faster.

The good news is the more you do it, the less sore your body will be as it adapts. The body recovers in 3-7 days and there are a few things they say that might help alleviate walking like a zombie. Stretch, drink lots of water, progress slowly, and give your body time to repair.

SORE = the most satisfying feeling of knowing you pushed yourself and accomplished something.    

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beef Stew Under Pressure‏

By Lisa VanWilliams

This is a delicious good ole hearty stew fit for a crisp fall night that the whole family will enjoy.  It is bursting with flavor and easy to make in only 20 minutes with only one pot to clean !!  **Pressure cooker required

1 pd beef round cut in chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
1/2 large onion chopped in cubes
5 medium carrots sliced or chunked
4 celery sticks chopped
3-4 potato's cubed
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup corn starch with cold water added & mixed

In your pressure cooker add the olive oil, garlic, beef, onions, salt & pepper and cook them on a high heat until they brown up.  Add in the Worcestershire sauce. Now the carrots, celery, and potato's can be added in and stirred up.  Lastly, add the bouillon cubes and water and give it one last stir before you cover it and let simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes. After 20 mins, remove the lid and pour in the corn starch while stirring to thicken up the gravy. Sprinkle in parsley and stir.  Simple, easy, filling, and they will be coming back for more.

Carrots - Not Just For Bugs Bunny‏

By Lisa VanWilliams
Steaming carrots is the best way to get the most flavor but some people prefer them as a raw crunchy snack.  It's a quick easy healthy snack that is easily transportable, and they have a longer shelf life than other veggies in the fridge.   This root vegetable has been around for thousands of years and they actually did not start off orange. They come in several colors such as white, purple, yellow, and red with each variety offering different amounts of anti-oxidants. Carrots can be bred to produce different colors.
Carrot consumption and production has more than doubled in the past 30 years. China produces the most carrots, followed by Russia and then the U.S. (with California producing 80%). World War II seems to be the start of the myth that eating carrots will improve your eye sight. Rumors were spread by the Britain's Air Ministry that carrots helped pilots see Nazi bombers at night, in reality, they were just trying to cover up that they now had radar.
Carrots might not give you night vision but they do offer a number of health benefits such as:
  • beta-carotene & anti-oxidants
  • lower your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • falcarinol and falcarindiol inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells
  • packed with vitamin A
  • carotenoids are good for eye health
  • good source for immunity support
  • high levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber

So, carrots aren't just for rabbits. They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and they can be incorporated into numerous meals. Look out for our beef stew recipe we will be posting soon and be sure to load up on your carrots and try it out.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Plantain Beef Boats

By Lisa VanWilliams

Hop on the boat to flavor town.  I am definitely going to have add this to my repertoire of delicious recipes.  The cinnamon compliments the sweet plantain in a very flavorful way and they go great together. This recipe will yield two boats !

2 plantains peeled (ripe ones yellow and black -looks like over ripe banana)
1/2 pd ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
dash of olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 any color pepper
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2-3 scallions
Some cilantro
Cheese to sprinkle over (I used Mexican blend)

Line the pan with some aluminum and put the plantains on. Split the butter up between the two.
Cook the plantains in 400 degree oven for 15-20 mins on each side until they turn a gold brown caramelized color.  They should look like this.

In the meantime, add the olive oil and garlic to a pan and start cooking your beef.  Salt & pepper the meat and add your peppers. Once the meat is cooked, drain it and add back to the pan. Add the cumin, cinnamon, and tomato sauce and let it simmer for a few mins. When your just about done add in the scallions and cilantro.

Take your plantains and cut them down the middle and push open the plantain with a spoon so you can fill it up. Split the meat between the two, sprinkle with cheese and put them back into the oven until melted.  DELICIOUS !! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Muscles Burn Fat

By Steve VanWilliams

Clients trying to lose weight always use to ask me, “If I only have a 1/2hour to work out should I do cardio or weights”? The answer is always weights! I have always said that muscle BURNS fat, fat does NOT burn fat. You will lose body fat more quickly and KEEP it off longer with more muscle density. Noticed I said muscle DENSITY, not BIGGER muscles. 

Women tend to shy away from lifting with a miscomprehension that their muscles are going to get huge and bulging and they are going to look like a raging roid head, which is simply not true. YOU NEED to lift weights to KEEP your muscles. If not your ratios will change over time. Meaning your body-fat will increase and your muscle mass will decrease.  

So hit the weights and start converting your fat and pumping up your metabolism!
FACT: Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. Faster in women due to lower testosterone levels. So pick the weights up!! and down!! and up!! and down!! ha!

FACT: You will increase bone density. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

FACT: Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won't fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.

FACT: Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, arthritis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Berry Morning Bramble

By Lisa VanWilliams

This is a good one. Try it out. Easy breezy.

1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
a few strawberries
1/2 or 1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon blue agave
2 tablespoons fat free ricotta cheese
1 English muffin split in half

Put all the berries in a pan and simmer them down in the butter on medium heat for like 10 mins. Add the agave.  Toast the muffin a little..spread the ricotta on each side.  Pour the berry mixture over the muffins and put them in the oven on broil under they get all bubbly...5 mins or so.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Plantains...A Sweet Fix

By Lisa VanWilliams

Craving something sweet? Try a plantain and you'll feel like you should be sitting on the beach under your straw cabana enjoying this tropical treat...it always reminds me of the Caribbean Islands where it is commonly served as a side dish.

It is a staple food for many countries and it can be used as a starch or a fruit depending on the ripeness. When it's very green it's more comparable to a starchy potato, as it ripens and turns from yellow to blackish the pulp gets sweeter than a banana. You can fry them, boil them, bake them, grill them, mash them, and you can eat them raw when they are really ripe. 

Why are they good for you?

  • high in fiber & potassium
  • vitamin A & C
  • a healthy carb
  • boosts metabolism & burns fat
  • natural sugar that is easier for body to digest
  • low in sodium
  • good source of starch and energy

Plantains are an inexpensive option and they offer some great health benefits. Plantain lasagna, ripe plantain boats filled with minced meat and cheese, serve them with eggs at breakfast time, or make some plantain foster for dessert. Search for a recipe and experiment!

I am going to try to bake some plantain chips up shortly, and I will let you know how they come out.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Obesity In Children

By Lisa VanWilliams

Between television, games, and processed foods, we have to monitor our children to make sure they don't get to caught up and that they are getting their 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Gym at school does not count.

The CDC states that over 12.5 million children ages 2-19 are obese in the U.S. and the trend is going up instead of down.  Genetics, family environment, & psychological factors are some things that can all have an influence.

Try to keep healthy food choices readily available for your children. Most kids are not getting the daily recommended amounts of fruits and veggies. Fresh fruit sliced, petite carrots, broccoli, grapes and berries are just a few examples of what to have on hand. I just brought home a carton of strawberries yesterday and between last night and this morning my daughter almost ate all of them. Try to limit the sugar intake (this is easier to do when Grandma is not sneaking them cookies), and encourage water instead of sugar laden drinks.  Skip the whole milk and go for the 2%.

Hopscotch, jump rope, kick ball, fly a kite, roller skate, relive your childhood and get out there and play.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Baked Apple Slices

By Lisa VanWilliams

My husband is going to do a veggie/fruit detox for 30 days starting next week and I need a snack item for him. This is also a healthy snack alternative for your kids besides the over processed fast and easy fixes. I just added some cinnamon but you can experiment and find what flavors you like paired with your baked apple chips.

Cut the apples in thin slices, cut out the core and seeds. Line them up and bake for a few hours at 200 degrees. Flip them half way through. Simple, fast, easy, no fuss healthy whole food that can be packed easily for school or work. The house smells incredible too..my daughter came running in and wanted to know, "What's that smell?".

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Run For Your Life - Sprints

By Lisa VanWilliams

When was the last time you ran all out as fast as you could?   It's good for you for a number of reasons and you should try it once in a while....challenge yourself. 

The definition of sprinting is to move rapidly at a top speed for a brief period, as in running or swimming.*

There's no specified amount of time you need to run, it depends on the individual. You should do it only when your warmed up and stretched out -make it the way you end your workout.  Why might you want to try it?

  • burns calories and speeds up metabolism
  • increases bone strength & density
  • great cardio 
  • builds muscle
  • burns fat quicker
  • increases your endurance
  • improves insulin health
  • better lung function

It's not going to be easy and it does not feel good while your doing it, but after all the huffing and puffing you will feel the difference. Pick a distance to accomplish and try increasing it every time. Pushing yourself helps build confidence in all aspects of your life.  So run like the dickens, use your legs, raise your heart rate in a good way, and flush out those lungs.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Portion Control...Pull Over

By Lisa VanWilliams

If portion control had a police division, I would be getting pulled over and ticketed more times than I would like to admit.  Did you ever have something so good you had to go back for seconds?  It's a daily battle and something I need to be more aware of for my own health and especially with the children watching everything we do.

Portion control is understanding how much a serving size of food is and how many calories or how much food energy a serving contains.*

Experts state that a 2.5 ounce piece of chicken (protein) should measure about the size of the palm of your hand, or the size of a deck of cards. Try to use visual comparisons, it's suppose to help remind you of appropriate serving sizes. Slow down when you eat your food and let your stomach catch up to your brain. Sometimes if you wait a few minutes you will realize your fuller than you thought and maybe you'll be less tempted to back for seconds.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Don't Be A Camel - Drink Your Water

By Lisa VanWilliams

Soda and coffee don't count either. It's like putting oil or gas in your car, your body cannot run without it. In order for your body and metabolism to run effectively and burn calories/fat, it must be hydrated. More than half of your body weight is water.  Water flushes out the toxins and carries nutrients to your cells. Not drinking enough water can make you feel drained and tired and it can lead to health problems.

Keep a filled glass on the counter during the day, throw a 6-pack of bottled water in the car, find a travel cup. Do you like it at room temp? Or chilled in the fridge? With or without ice? What about lemon? There are many options so find which way entices you the most and get your daily fill. 

So how much water is enough?
 "The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day."*

Exercise and warm weather require more water intake. It's also stated that once your over 50, your thirst sensation diminishes and will continue to do so with age.  It's important to drink water every day even if you are not thirsty - no matter what your age is.

  *reference: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kale Krazy

By Lisa VanWilliams

This descendant of wild cabbage is the new potato chip.  Kale is considered a super food because it's packed with nutrients and health benefits.  It can help reduce the risk of getting certain cancers like bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Australian research also showed that eating beta-carotene rich food like this can decrease the risk for skin cancer.

What else makes kale killer good?

  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • detoxes the body
  • cancer preventative
  • lowers cholesterol
  • packed with nutrients -off the charts with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese
  • high in fiber

It's like a little vitamin all packed into one leafy green bundle. The healthiest way to eat kale is steamed but the more popular choice right now is baked kale chips.  A healthy alternative for you and the family -cut up some kale with olive oil and salt, bake them up and try something new.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Corn On The Cob Country Style

By Lisa VanWilliams

We were in Upstate New York farm country this past weekend and we had a hankering for some corn on the cob. The whole family hopped on a Ranger and we took off down the country road in search of some edible corn. We rode past rows and rows of cow corn down to the local farmers homestead. The farmers daughter ran out and she asked us, "Do you want fresh corn off the stalk?". My husband looked at me, and I at him. We never had that option before. Absolutely. She hopped in back and we took off for another mile or so until we got to a small crop of sweet corn.  We must have eaten a thousand ears of corn in our lifetime, but never had the chance to pick it fresh off the stalk. My daughter helped me pick a dozen ears of corn on a beautiful day in the middle of no where out in the country. Both of the kids fell asleep on the ride back.

On the ride home we started talking about corn. Hence, today's article :)

You can boil it in water or roast it on the grill, either way the sweet kernels taste most delicious this time of year.  Corn is a staple food for many countries and it can be made into several different things like tortilla's, corn chips, polenta, and popcorn just to name a few. Corn is also known as maize in different parts of the world. There are several colors of corn and each one provides different healthy antioxidants.

What are the health benefits of corn on the cob?

  • antioxidant
  • good source of fiber
  • blood sugar benefits
  • good source of energy producing vitamin B5
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B3
  • manganese

Finding organic non-GMO corn is a rare find nowadays considering, "70% of all 91 million acres of corn in the U.S. are planted with genetically modified varieties."*  Corn may have a bad rap as an experimental food, but if can find certified organic sweet corn take advantage and enjoy this seasonal vegetable. For info on GMO sweet corn you can go to:  http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/sweetcorn/

*reference: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=90&tname=foodspice

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Turn Up The Volume

So, we want to know what's your favorite song that get's you pumped?


Bust out the iPod with some jamming tunes -maybe some Metallica, Kid Rock, Queen, Eminem, or Van Halen, whatever favorite beat that gets you going and pumped up.

 "Listening to music while exercising has been found in multiple studies to create an increased sense of motivation, distracting the mind while increasing heart rate. Faster tempo music has been found by researchers to motivate exercisers to work harder when performing at a moderate pace." * Reynolds, Gretchen. "Phys Ed: Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?", The New York Times, August 25, 2010

Monday, August 19, 2013

Get Skinny By Eating Spicy

By Lisa VanWilliams

Quick, let's get some Indian food! Several studies have been done on hot peppers. Two done in particular by UCLA and Laval University in Quebec show that capsaicin has proven to burn fat and calories. Capsaicin is what puts the kick in a hot pepper and it can put a little booster on your metabolism as well.

A few reasons why hot peppers are good for you...

  • reduces appetite
  • strengthen immunities
  • speeds up your heart rate
  • increases energy
  • they help break down carbs
  • improves stamina
  • decrease blood cholesterol

Try some hot peppers in different ways and see if you can find one that's right for you. Degree's of heat are different on every pepper - also called a Scoville scale. So every "hot" pepper is not super hot. There are milder versions if spicy isn't your thing. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Secrets of Shea Butter

By Lisa VanWilliams

Every year there is a big Festival downtown on the green in our town. I look for the stand selling this concoction out of these humongous wooden tropical bowls. It's piled high and it looks like a mix of butter and wax and people are incredibly curious about what it is and what it does.  It's called Shea butter and it's from Africa. African healers have been using it for thousands of years. It does not have a smell and it's super duper for moisturizing. I used this to prevent stretch marks when I pregnant and I still use it now. Good for daily use, good for seasonal changes and the harsh New England winters that dry out my hands.

Shea butter is extracted from a nut that comes off a Shea tree. There can be color variations from an ivory to a tan yellow hue and that is due to the soil it is grown in.  Shea butter actually melts like butter when it comes into contact with warm skin and then the skin absorbs it without leaving a coated feeling. It's an ingredient used in many cosmetics, soap, lip gloss, skin products, and lotions. This a healthier natural alternative to use instead of the name brand chemical lotions.

What else is it good for?

  • used as an anti-inflammatory & pain reliever
  • helps block UV rays
  • relieves nasal congestion
  • suppress skin aging
  • helps repair damaged skin
  • hair conditioning
  • great for massage
  • prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

If you can't find something like this at your local fair or market, here's their website:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A good night sleep

By Steve VanWilliams
Having a good night sleep is one of the most important and very over looked building blocks for optimal health. We all need it and most of us do not get it, or enough. While there is no proven scientific data that says exactly how many hours we need, each person is different. The needs are primarily based on two factors. One that is called basal sleep or need. Which mean the amount of sleep our bodies need on a regular basis for optimal health. The other is called sleep debt. The accumulated sleep that is lost due to poor habits. While me may not know what the magic number is for us, we do know that if you do not get a good night sleep it can lead to several alarming health factors.

  • A greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
  • Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression
  • Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information

A few factors may contribute to a poor night sleep. Stress, vitamin deficiencies, lack of exercise, lack of potassium. I am sure there are other, but these are a few you may want to look into. So how do we get a good night sleep? A few ways that have always helped me, especially through very stressful are the following.

  • A nice strong brewed Chamomile tea before bed
  • No carbs at night time or for dinner 
  • Eat 3 - 4 hours before bed
  • Take a walk after dinner
  • On the worst times a melatonin supplement

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tally Me Banana

By Lisa VanWilliams

We eat them every morning in a smoothie. They are easy to grab and go with because they have no preparation and they travel well -just peel and eat!  They are a great snack for the kids, they are easy to take on a hike in the woods, and they provide a great energy boost during a long run or bicycle ride.

The long yellow sweet tasting fruit is a good carb that can provide a whole days worth of potassium in one shot. They are grown in estimated 107 countries and they are a main food crop for the world. For many third world countries, bananas are a crucial staple that gets them through the "hunger season".

What makes them good for you? They are packed with vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and potassium.

  • potassium helps maintain blood pressure & heart function
  • promotes bone health
  • great to eat if you have ulcers -soothing
  • alleviates water retention and bloating
  • acts as a binder to digestive system
  • helps to build healthier bones
  • promotes kidney health
  • supports muscle maintenance

You can eat them straight, try them in a fruit smoothie, or add them to your peanut butter sandwich for a new twist. There are numerous ideas and recipes out there to satisfy all types from the infant to the elderly.  It's a fruit everyone can enjoy.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Recharge; Back to Nature

By Steve VanWilliams

Sorry we have not posted in a few day’s. Lisa and I took the kids away for the weekend for a little family time and to get outdoors. Wow, what a difference a little break can make. I think we all are guilty of spending to much time in the daily grind that we forget we need just to get up, out and back to nature. Even for a day or two. We all feel totally recharged and ready to get back to it. Totally rested and recharged. It does not take much to recharge, just breaking the normal routine was awesome. You do not always need to plan the “big trip”. Just taking a drive out to the country, having a nice picnic, walk in the woods and a little kite flying is a great way to relax and recharge.

Tomorrow is to late!

By Steve VanWilliams

What are you waiting for? The time is NOW! Today, this minute; yes right where you are, RIGHT NOW. If you have not started working out, get up and starts right now! Drop down and give me 20! Ok, well how about 5? 1? Does not matter how many or what, the point is make something happen. Do something. Stop making excuses. Get up off that chair, coach, bed. Stretch, move side to side, jumping jacks, go for a 5 minute walk. Give your-self something. The time is now! You can make all your fitness goals come true. You can have that body you always wanted. There is just one thing standing in your way. YOU! A few things to help you get started.

  • As soon as you wake up try to do something - walk in place, shadowbox, stretch
  • Any thing is better than nothing at all - 5 minutes, 10 minutes
  • You do not have to go to a gym to get in shape -
  • Do something everyday - best time is when you first wake up
  • Keep telling yourself you can do it - YOU CAN

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fat vs Muscle

By Steve VanWilliams
So you want to loose weight. When we say “weight” we really mean that jiggly, ugly stuff called “body fat”. The bad thing is when we weigh ourselves, it does not say what we are loosing. You need your muscles. Muscles BURN fat, fat does not BURN fat. Most “diets” alone only promote muscle loss and not fat loss. Atkins made a fortune off this. Strip your muscles ( which are more dense and weigh more) and hey guess what? You lost weight FAST. As you can see from the picture they are not equal. 5 lbs of fat is 3 times the size and volume of muscle. So here are a few points to help you out and lose that body fat.
  • It takes time! You can’t rush it There is are NO HEALTHY short cuts 
  • 3,500 calories = 1 lbs of fat 
  • You have to burn or eat 3,500 calories less than your  intake to lose 1lbs of fat
  • You can only on average at max eat less than 500 calories per day of your daily intake, otherwise     you will burn muscle and not body fat 
  • Hence why you cant starve yourself to loose 
  • Eat small meal 5 - 6 times a day 
  • Hit the weights! weights build dense, strong muscles, which burn body fat

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Sweet Smell of Eucalyptus

By Lisa VanWilliams

The Aboriginal have used it for thousands of years medicinally. It's a tree that comes from Australia and there are over 700 different species of it. It comes in several forms like oil, tea, dried leaves, liquid and ointments.  Not only will it clear up your stuffy nose, it's often used in cough drops and aids in curing sore throats.  The ointments and creams are good for your typical muscle aches, pains, and soreness.  It is also a common ingredient in mouthwash. 

They say the smell of eucalyptus increases brain activity and it increases energy.  It's a wonderful natural air freshener and we love to keep baskets of eucalyptus around the house and every once in a while we catch the lovely sweet aroma.  They say it has a minty pine scent laced with a touch a of honey. It's a fresh crisp smell that reminds me of a forest.

So whether you prefer to use it as an oil, drink it in a tea, or hang dried leaves around the house, eucalyptus has it's ancient secret cures.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Guess who this fitness & health legend is?

By Lisa VanWilliams
He lived to the ripe age of 96 years old and he died with a hard body. He was called "the godfather of fitness" and he believed that "physical culture and nutrition - is the salvation of America."

His name was Francois Henri "Jack" LaLanne and in 1936, at the age of 21, he opened one of the nation's first gym's in California.  He believed the cause of most peoples health problems were a result of eating overly processed foods.  One of his famous quotes was "if man made it, don't eat it."

LaLanne accomplished numerous feat's throughout his lifetime, at every age.  When Jack was 54, he even beat a 21 year old Arnold Schwartzenegger at an informal bodybuilding competition. He could have escaped from Alcatraz more than once as he did the swim a few times across San Francisco Bay -the second time he did this he was 60 years old!

He's an inspiration and proof that treating your body well and living a healthy lifestyle is beneficial.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another Black Dragon Roll Please

By Lisa VanWilliams

Sushi has come a long way and we don't just mean all the way from Japan. The word sushi means "sour tasting" because originally the Japanese use to ferment the fish and wrap it in soured fermenting rice. Preservation abilities dramatically improved and as time evolved sushi changed to what we order today in the Western world.

Sushi is a specially prepared rice accompanied by other ingredients which usually includes raw fish. Sushi is low in fat, and high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Shape magazine makes the following recommendations for the best and worst sushi for weight loss:

  • go for salmon and tuna because they are low calorie, high in protein & omega-3s, and they are packed with vitamin D
  • Wasabi is packed with antioxidants
  • stay away from the fried rolls
  • get steamed, grilled, or sashimi
  • veggie rolls are the healthiest option
  • brown rice is the better choice
  • a little side of ginger to boost your immunities
  • opt for the low sodium soy sauce - 25% less salt than regular
  • use chop sticks because you will eat slower and fill up faster
  • skip the covered in cream sauce options
  • one roll, or six pieces is a proper serving size

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Just Keep Going

Why Vitamins?

By Lisa  & Steve VanWilliams
Why should you take vitamins? The word "VITA" means life. 

Vitamins are a group of organic compounds that CANNOT be manufactured by the body. They are required in specific amounts for special functions of growth, ,digestion, nerve function, and maintenance and repair of our bodies.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that a majority of your nutrients should be met by consuming foods, but supplementation may be suggested for sensitive populations. If you are not eating all your fruits and veggies you might need some vitamins.  If you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet your body might need more. In total, there are 13 vitamins the body needs to survive, and you might not be getting them all. Many people consume more calories than they need without getting the proper amounts of nutrients.

Review the USDA's recommended daily requirements, and if you are not getting all the food groups covered on a daily basis, you might want to consider making vitamins part of your daily routine.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do the Walk of Life

By Lisa VanWilliams

My husband and I have been taking the kids on a two mile walk every morning this week on a beautiful boardwalk on the beach.  The time flies looking out at an incredible scenery and we don't even realize how far we go.  It's nice to see the same people out there every morning focusing on fitness. 

Walking 30-60 minutes a day 5x a week can change your quality of life. It can help reduce the risks and it can help manage several health issues such as:

  • cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • obesity
  • lower blood pressure
  • increases overall bone health
  • lower cholesterol
  • it may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's
  • help lose weight
  • lift your mood
  • decrease risks of osteoporosis and arthritis

On average, 160 pound person can burn roughly 314 calories an hour walking 3.2 mph. Start with a short term goal like 10 minutes a day and work yourself up more everyday.  Walking comes with tons of health benefits and the best part is it's easy and it's free! It's a great way to spend time with the family or do spend some quality time on your own and do some reflecting. 

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir