Fitness Tips

HEALTH HACK | Stretches for the Zzzz’s

One of the key ingredients to fitness, wellness and overall happiness? A good nights sleep!

In this day and age it’s hard to find people who aren’t living what they would consider a fast-paced life or one that encounters stress in the day-to-day. Sometimes unfortunately these things can make it hard to wind down and fully rest to get a good nights sleep that will restore and replenish your energy. It’s helpful, before bed, to get your circulation moving while also making your body relax. Here’s 5 easy stretches to make you calm and ready for a restful night of sleep. 

Child’s pose - 30 seconds

Upward dog - 20 seconds

Knees to chest - 20 seconds

Left side twist - 20 seconds

Right side twist - 20 seconds

HEALTH HACK | 5 TIPS FOR YOUR BEST LIFE

As we all try to live our best and healthiest lives, it is always helpful to learn new tips to help us achieve that! So whether your goal is to eat better, work out more or feel less stressed, we are here to motivate you and push you toward your goal(s)! Here are 5 healthy life hacks for you to incorporate in your daily routine:

1) Start your morning with lemon water to help flush your system of toxins.

2) Take a moment in your day to press pause, clear your mind, and meditate. 

3) Always travel with a water bottle so you stay hydrated throughout the day.

4) Leave your cell phone on the bedside table at night to ensure a good night's sleep.

5) Meal prep healthy lunches to avoid poor meal choices. 

HEALTH HACK | POWER UP

How have you been faring with your New Years resolutions so far? Have you been keeping up a good fitness regime? We can help with that! One key tactic of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is eating right. Eating snacks throughout the day is crucial to ensuring you have enough energy to power through a good workout. Something like a power bar is a perfect morsel of energy to fuel you for the day. Try out these 5 DIY power bar recipes:

1. Dark Chocolate Coconut Protein Bars. See recipe here.

2. No Bake Apricot Oat Protein Bars. See recipe here.

3. Peanut butter Maple Almond Bars. See recipe here.

4.Super Food Energy Bars with Cacao. See recipe here.

5. Paleo Nut Energy Bars. See recipe here.

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HEALTH HACK | NEW YEAR, BETTER YOU

HAPPY NEW YEAR! As we reflect on what a year 2017 has been--how much we have grown, learned and changed--and take all the positives from the previous year into the new year, it is even more important to establish new goals and ambitions. For many, these new objectives revolve around fitness and a stronger, healthier body. And to that, we say YES YOU CAN! Maintaining and elevating your fitness is a continued process and can't be attained in one day. Sustainable change takes time and if you push yourself little by little each and every day, you will see transformation. In this new year, we challenge you to implement these 5 diet/fitness tips in your routine so that you achieve your best self this 2018:

1) Eat breakfast EVERY DAY. 

2) Carry a healthy snack with you wherever you go! 

3) Drink your recommended daily serving of water (it will depend on each person, but the general recommended daily amount is 64 ounces).

4) Take your time when eating!

5) Start your meal with a soup or salad.
 

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HEALTH HACK | DECEMBER DESSERTS

We are in the thick of holiday season folks! That means festive music, twinkling lights, comforting soups and decadent desserts. Don't be afraid that indulging in a bit of dessert this season may derail your fitness regime--you can whip up a number of winter-inspired desserts that are delectable and not detrimental to your diet! Try out these 5 scrumptious recipes this December:

1. Date Sweetened Brownie. See recipe here.

2. Pear and Quinoa Apple Crisp. See recipe here.

3. Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies with Cranberries and White Chocolate. See recipe here.

4. Candied Ginger and Orange Icebox Cookies. See recipe here.

5. Caramel-Pear Pudding Cake. See recipe here.
 

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HEALTH HACKS | MEAL PREP TIPS

Meal prepping is one of the best ways to ensure you are eating a healthy, nutritious diet even when you have a demanding schedule. Preparation is the ultimate key to weight loss and fitness--making your food in advance so that you have an easy meal later can save you from giving into guilt-ridden bad takeout. Stocking your fridge with healthy options means less impulsive calories throughout the week and time saved from cooking many separate meals every day! See 5 tips for meal prepping here:

1.  Schedule . Plan one day of the week when you will do your cooking (Sunday tends to work best for most people).

1. Schedule. Plan one day of the week when you will do your cooking (Sunday tends to work best for most people).

2.  Freezer Friendly.  Incorporate food that is better suited to freezing and reheating.

2. Freezer Friendly. Incorporate food that is better suited to freezing and reheating.

3.  Overlap . Use recipes with ingredients that overlap to maximum efficiency.

3. Overlap. Use recipes with ingredients that overlap to maximum efficiency.

4.  1+1+1 . Keep in mind the rule of 3:  one protein, one starchy carb, and one produce per meal!

4. 1+1+1. Keep in mind the rule of 3:  one protein, one starchy carb, and one produce per meal!

5.  Sauce Boss . With different sauces and a little creativity, you can transform the same food into various tasty meals.

5. Sauce Boss. With different sauces and a little creativity, you can transform the same food into various tasty meals.

HEALTH HACKS | Tips for Dining Out

Eating healthy and eating out do not usually go hand in hand. When you dine out, you are more likely to encounter unhealthy food (what with the ubiquitous fast-food restaurants on every corner and devilishly persuasive dessert menus in most restaurants).  But just because you are watching your diet and effecting a healthy lifestyle does not mean you should not head out to eat! Though preparing your own food can ensure a nutritious meal, there are tips you can follow to make dining out a healthier experience. Try out these 5 on your next meal out:

1. Drink water throughout the meal.

1. Drink water throughout the meal.

2. Order salad before anything else.

2. Order salad before anything else.

3. Skip the bread basket.

3. Skip the bread basket.

4. Opt for the fish option for your entree.

4. Opt for the fish option for your entree.

5. Box up half your entree.

5. Box up half your entree.

HEALTH HACKS | Lifestyle Hacks

A healthier, happier lifestyle is not usually effected by one swift, monumental transformation--in most cases, it is the small, incremental shifts that lead to a lasting change. Take it one day at a time and strategically tweak various parts of your routine. A handful of clever fitness tricks can really bring about a big, positive change. Don't believe it? Try these 5 lifestyle hacks and see for yourself:

1.   Buy a nice water bottle to accompany you throughout the day.  This nifty trick will aid you in reaching that elusive recommended daily water intake...in style.

1.  Buy a nice water bottle to accompany you throughout the day. This nifty trick will aid you in reaching that elusive recommended daily water intake...in style.

2.  Sit/stand up straight.  Not only is good posture better for your neck and back, but it can boost your mood. 

2. Sit/stand up straight. Not only is good posture better for your neck and back, but it can boost your mood. 

3.  Eat mindfully.  Instead of scarfing down your food (we all do it), take a moment to inhale, exhale and chew thoroughly before swallowing. This simple hack can deter you from eating more food than you need and improve your digestion. 

3. Eat mindfully. Instead of scarfing down your food (we all do it), take a moment to inhale, exhale and chew thoroughly before swallowing. This simple hack can deter you from eating more food than you need and improve your digestion. 

4.  Turn off your electronics.  Shut down your laptop, TV and phone at night. These devices emit light that disrupts sleep, so power them down for a better and more revitalizing snooze. 

4. Turn off your electronics. Shut down your laptop, TV and phone at night. These devices emit light that disrupts sleep, so power them down for a better and more revitalizing snooze. 

5.  Smell an orange.  Try eating/smelling an orange every morning for breakfast or dabbing orange oil on your wrists. Studies have found that the scent of an orange can boost mood, decrease stress and make you feel more alert!

5. Smell an orange. Try eating/smelling an orange every morning for breakfast or dabbing orange oil on your wrists. Studies have found that the scent of an orange can boost mood, decrease stress and make you feel more alert!

HEALTH HACKS | Catch more Zzz's

It's easy to see that we perform better in life when we are well rested.  Getting enough sleep can sharpen your memory and creativity, lower stress levels, regulate metabolism and much more!

Here are some quick tips for sleepier nights and brighter days:

Try to set a sleep schedule  Going to bed and waking up at the same time will help set your body's internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep.  We mean weekends too!  If you must nap, try to make it a quicky; 15-20 minutes only.

Stop scrolling and unwind Put away the screens 1-2 hours before bed.  The blue light that is emitted from your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive to that precious sleep clock.

Workup a sweat  People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day.  The more vigorous the workout, the more powerful the sleep benefits!  But even light exercise, such as a 10 minute walk, improves sleep quality.  BE PATIENT: it can take several months of regular activity before you experience the full sleep-promoting effects. 

Sweet dreams!

 

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Guilt-Free Holidays

Happy Holidays everyone! Whether you are celebrating a holiday or simply spending time with family and loved ones, this time of the year can be a stressful time for some of us. We all know that the holidays usually revolve around two things: food and family/loved ones–both of which can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Well, I can’t really help you out with the family part–you are on your own dealing with your annoying uncle/aunt–but food should never be a source of stress. EVER! I have found it quite common to hear that people tend to feel guilty around the holidays because they ate too much, or ate something they usually don’t eat, or simply because maybe they didn’t get to work out as much as they would have liked to. I just wanted to tell everyone: that’s ok!

Remove the guilt and we will all be happier people. Eat what you like at your gatherings. Eat foods that make you feel good while you eat them and even afterwards. Hopefully, you’ll aim to choose the whole, real and nourishing foods that don’t come in bags but that are actually grown on (or inside) this earth. Have that piece of pie if you want it. Chew it. Savor it! Eat your meals slowly, as if you were on a megaformer (hey Lagree peeps!): slow and mindful.  You’ll probably find that by eating in a slower and more mindful manner, you will feel full quicker, since you are giving your stomach enough time to signal your brain that it has had enough.

After you’ve eaten that piece of pie–and really enjoyed it–let it go! Remember this moment with fondness and not guilt. Guilt leads to stress and stress provides us with the very things that so many of us are stressed out about in the first place. When we are stressed there is an increase in our levels of cortisol–the stress hormone–, primarily our fight or flight hormone which, when elevated, causes an increase in blood-sugar levels which, in turn, causes our bodies to store more, unwanted fat. Isn’t that what caused the guilt in the first place? CUT THE GUILT OUT! It’s useless and does way more harm than good. Come to think of it, it does absolutely no good.

The moral of the story, my lovelies, is to enjoy your food, chew it, savor it, and, much like when you are at Motivate on the beloved megaformer doing a spider kick (an elevator lunge or a serve the platter) remember to do so methodically and mindfully–”piano, piano si van lontano” (slow goes a long way).

Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

HEALTH HACKS | 5 Tips to Help Maintain That Healthy Diet

The task of transitioning to a healthy diet, or even maintaining one you have already effected can be a difficult undertaking. You can remind yourself of the long-term benefits the future you will reap (a shining individual with robust health and rockin’ abs), but that doesn’t make the day-to-day discipline any easier. You are definitely not alone in your struggles—many have stumbled, some have fallen by the wayside, some have taken inadvertent detours (to a pile of glazed doughnuts). The goal is to maintain an overall healthier diet in a way that is feasible and not prone to regression. As with most life’s ventures, there are tactics you can employ to make your daily journey a little less bumpy, a little more focused, and hopefully a little more fun. Here are 5 healthy eating tricks to try out this week: 

1.  Make snack jars to enjoy at your discretion.  Don't leave yourself at the mercy of bad snacks. Instead, prepare combinations of vegetables or nuts in single portions so that you always have healthy alternatives ready to eat.

1. Make snack jars to enjoy at your discretion. Don't leave yourself at the mercy of bad snacks. Instead, prepare combinations of vegetables or nuts in single portions so that you always have healthy alternatives ready to eat.

2. Roast a variety of your favorite veggies to incorporate into meals throughout the week.

2. Roast a variety of your favorite veggies to incorporate into meals throughout the week.

3. Befriend the SPIRALIZER.  This ingenious mechanism transforms various foods into noodles! Read  here  to learn more about how you can use this fun gadget to make delicious, yet nutritious dishes.

3. Befriend the SPIRALIZER. This ingenious mechanism transforms various foods into noodles! Read here to learn more about how you can use this fun gadget to make delicious, yet nutritious dishes.

4. Eat more food with high water content. Not only will this help you fill up (leaving less room for health-harming foods), you are also supplementing your daily recommended water intake. See what foods are the most hydrating  here .

4. Eat more food with high water content. Not only will this help you fill up (leaving less room for health-harming foods), you are also supplementing your daily recommended water intake. See what foods are the most hydrating here.

5. Add fermented foods to your diet.  Healthy meals don't have to taste bland. Try incorporating fermented sides dishes to give your tastebuds a kick, while simultaneously aiding your digestion. Read more about the health benefits of fermented foods  here.

5. Add fermented foods to your diet. Healthy meals don't have to taste bland. Try incorporating fermented sides dishes to give your tastebuds a kick, while simultaneously aiding your digestion. Read more about the health benefits of fermented foods here.

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Get out of that rut, take care of your gut

We’ve all heard the phrase “we are what we eat” but evidence shows that this phrase should be more like “we are what we digest”. So, what’s the difference? If we are eating all the right foods but aren’t actually digesting them properly, our bodies aren’t absorbing or assimilating the nutrients our food provides us and we aren’t able to reap from these benefits.

More often than not I encounter frustrated people who claim to be eating nutritious foods and yet they frequently feel bloated (“Ugh, I want to show-off my hard-worked-Motivate abs but damn, my lunch is doing a number on my stomach”). Some have mood swings, some spend hours on end on the toilet, and some have skin issues, among many others. Now, the reasons behind these may vary: from food sensitivities to intolerances, from hormonal problems to autoimmune diseases, to simply a poor diet (e.g. high in processed foods, or low in vegetables and fiber) that is hard for your body to metabolize.

There is one common denominator behind each and every one of these issues that I always find important to address: if you want to get out of that rut, first you have to take care of your gut. 

Our poor guts don’t get even half the attention they deserve; they are so under appreciated. I know that they are not too glamorous but neither are those old pajamas you wear every Sunday that make you feel more comfortable that any other outfit in your closet. (Or is this just me?) For example, are you aware that 90% of serotonin–important for our happiness–can be found in your gastrointestinal tract? Let me repeat that. Ninety percent. Serotonin is a chemical manufactured in our bodies that helps neurons talk to each other–this is why it’s called a neurotransmitter–and 90% of the body’s serotonin is actually produced and lives in our gut! Wow! Does this mean that our moods can be affected by our gut health? In a simple answer: yes, that is what research is telling us. Those guts of ours do a lot of work and we must do what we can to facilitate its ongoing and ever-so-demanding job.

Before we talk further about practices that aid the process of regulating our gut function and flora, we must first understand what’s going on down there. Think of your gut as a garden where little creatures play, where everything is connected and in perfect balance. Without this balance everything would be a disaster. In our gut, particularly in our large intestines, we have “little creatures” like good bacteria and bad bacteria. There are trillions of these little buggers in all of us. You read correctly people: trillions. We have about three pounds of bacteria in our gut. They must live in balance (symbiosis) with us in order for them to be able to perform their many jobs properly: help us with our digestion, absorb nutrients, produce vitamins; more on this later.

Bacteria survive and thrive on what we feed them. A diet high in real, whole, high-fiber food (some known as prebiotics) and fermented foods (probiotics) will feed the good bacteria and create new populations of good bacteria in our gut (aaah...unicorns and rainbows). A diet high in processed foods and sugar will feed the bad bacteria and can lead to overpopulation of the bad guys; this imbalance is called dysbiosis (black clouds, death metal, explosions...armageddon).

But wait Gina, I’m not feeding my bacteria, I’m feeding myself! Who cares about bacteria?!  As a society we’ve been taught that all bacteria are bad, to fear them, hence the constant use of antibacterial hand wash and soaps. But while some bacteria can be nasty, not all bacteria are bad for us.

Let’s think of the good bacteria as badass little soldiers that fight the evil forces–the bad bacteria–from invading, getting cozy, and making more little evil baby bacteria in our gut. Good bacteria play an important role in our immune systems: they protect us from pathogens and parasites, can influence our weight, help our digestion, they manufacture several B vitamins and vitamin K, can increase mineral  absorption, help prevent infection, alleviate eczema and allergies, break down toxins, and manufacture good-for-you-short-chain fatty acids which reduce intestinal inflammation, improve (and help prevent) irritable bowel syndrome and even constipation, I could go on forever; but I wouldn’t do that to you. The point is WE NEED THEM and we need to keep the good bacteria happy, safe and healthy.   

Unfortunately, these little guys, more often than not, get killed off by antibiotics (in antibiotic medicine, certain foods–ugh!) and while some of them practically build homes and live in our gut, others simply vacation there. This is why we must remember to constantly feed our gut with good bacteria so we can keep these good guys/gals (if they were to have a gender I bet they would be female ;) fighting the good fight.

But how, Gina? How?! Enter fermented foods. Fermented foods are rich in good bacteria–probiotics. Hello (raw) sauerkraut, kimchee (stinky but good), kombucha, coconut yogurt or kefir, and miso. Now, you don’t need to eat an enormous amount (2-3 TBSP of sauerkraut is more than enough) to reap from the benefits of probiotics. Over eating them will probably give you a stomach ache so ease into these foods and try to have a variation of them as well–variety is the spice of life, I always say ;) You could prepare many of these if you have the time. If you don’t have the time, fear not, little kittens; we live in Los Angeles and all of these items are available for you to buy at your local farmers market, health-food stores and supermarkets.

(Note: I am not mentioning supermarket dairy yogurt as a reliable source. If you want to know why, please feel free to ask me.)

If you want an even bigger boost, and/or if none of those foods rock your boat or you can’t stomach them–pun totally intended–then incorporating a probiotic has the possibility (in my humble opinion) of changing your life! Yeah, I said it! You are very likely to see a quick and rapid improvement in your digestion, your skin and much more by incorporating probiotics in your life. Do some further research (you can ask me for more details) and check out different types of probiotics and see which are the right fit for you–we are all biochemically different at the end of the day. I am not trying to endorse any of the following but they have worked for me and may be a good introduction to probiotics to some of you. My favorite probiotics are (and again, I am by no means trying to market these) the Health Force brand, and Dr. Ohhira.

So now you know. Don’t be afraid to add some bacteria in your life. Oh, jolly good.
Every two weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.