Five Fitness Trends That Might Actually Be Worth Trying

 

(Guest Post)activities in Chicago and beyond

For many of us, finding ways to stay active starts with getting motivated to actually embark on the journey of getting back into shape. This often times is one of the hardest part, especially if your previous workout experiences left you bored and exhausted. If you’re tired of monotonous exercise routines that follow the same order and routine, break away from videos and one-option fitness guides and try something new.

In this article, we will explore five fitness trends which are gaining in popularity which will not only leave you in much better shape, but get you there in new, revitalized ways which yield higher motivation to stick with it! If you haven’t tried these new fitness trends yet, consider giving them a whirl. Some may require memberships to facilities that have the appropriate equipment or trainers, but in this list there should be something for everybody.

  1. Obstacle Course Racing

While obstacle course races have been around for quite a few years now, they are becoming more popular than ever. From mild resistance races like the Warrior Dash (typically 5k) to grueling races such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race (upwards of 12 miles with over 20 obstacles), there is a growing variance of these races which allows for beginners up to fitness gurus to all have opportunities to grow. These races encourage training regiments that focus on high-level cardio exercise, as well as strength training as both will be required to successfully complete these obstacle races. If your daily run is stagnant and you’re hoping to find an end-goal to train for, consider signing up for an obstacle race coming near you. If you are not already at the level of fitness required for such a race, allow for at least 12 weeks to train (and many of these races even provide training modules for you to utilize).

  1. Aerial Fitness

Aerial fitness is a newer trend gaining in popularity. By utilizing a hammock by which you hang, your body is able to take on shapes and exact maneuvers that otherwise would not be possible. Aside from a tremendous core workout, because of the unique nature of this equipment, you will have the opportunity to utilize both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle building to deliver even more effective gains. A simple online search should help you find if any locations that offer this fitness movement are near you. Variations including yoga and other forms of movement can be incorporated, as well.

  1. High Tech At-Home Fitness

If that stairclimber you bought five years ago serves solely as a clothes rack in your basement next to the washing machine now, we have good news. At-home fitness is stepping into a higher level of technology to ensure that you have the opportunity to stay fit and motivated from your own house. If your work schedule leaves it difficult to get to a gym or a 24 hour fitness building isn’t in your town, working out at home can feel like your only option. Enter Peloton. Peloton is an at-home fitness bike that streams live classes from the New York studio and even includes the fitness data of other class participants so you can compete from home. By utilizing this technology, Peloton not only operates on your schedule, it provides the motivating factor many of us need to push ourselves when, otherwise, no one would be looking.

  1. Trampoline Fitness

Similar to the idea of aerial fitness, this movement seeks to introduce a level of spontaneity into your fitness regiment through the atypical workouts trampolines provide. While this fitness trend has had a worldwide following for a few years now, it is only beginning to take hold in the United States. Luckily, while the first official Jumping Fitness gym isn’t slated to open for a few more months in New York City, there are numerous online routines which you can utilize on your very own trampoline. Now you can turn your kids’ toy into your next workout and the continual movement is excellent at torching calories, allowing for a high-speed set of exercises that utilize less impact than typical jump-based movements.

  1. Competition Based Fitness Courses

If you haven’t investigated competitive fitness classes, now is the time. Programs like the most well-known program CrossFit not only introduce a variety of workouts which allow you to stay mentally engaged while physically pushing yourself, the courses very purposefully rely on your competitive nature to push you to work harder than you would in a tradition, partnerless workout routine. Through competition based courses you not only find yourself working harder, you also create accountability with others to stay the course. Between the ever-evolving exercises and the communal sense of teamwork, your likelihood to drop out diminishes.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who is trying to be healthier this year. She currently writes for AEDs Today, a leading supplier of automatic external defibrillators.

A Few Gifts For Christmas

I adore gifts that involve health and this December I have come up with the following ideas to assist with your seasonal shopping.

SERVICES

Nutrition Counseling – It would be (silly) hard not to list the idea of buying a voucher for a loved one to visit with a dietitian, such as myself. Depending on their current health status, anyone can benefit from conversing with an RD about getting the most out of their nutrition and understand what diet is best for their health goals. In the least, treat yourself. Your health should be a priority and no one is a better advocate than yourself in taking charge of your quality of life. Along with one-on-one counseling, I host a 4 week Pledge (via a private Facebook forum) and coach you along the 28 days to reach a set health goal and learn clean eating techniques, as well as, work with a local personal trainer conducting a Clean Eating Bootcamp, which will launch the second Monday in January!

Spa – give the gift of relaxation with a spa package. This is a perfect service around the holidays when everything is hustle-bustle.

Fitness Programs – give the gift of fitness. If in Chicago, I recommend Fit Girl Studio‘s monthly package of unlimited classes. They have everything from Barre to spinning. Throughout the month you can mix up the routine and stay inspired to keep on coming back for more. If you do the Paleo Infused Pledge, you get a massive discount. As well, I am affiliated with a great personal trainer in Chicago, who I can connect you with at a discounted price. Email me with interest. Other options include packages for yoga, pilates, Crossfit or barre classes. I am huge fan of barre. You work muscles you didn’t know you had and leave the classes feeling accomplished.

FOOD ITEMS

I love gourmet food, especially those hard to find gems that are clean of unneeded preservatives and flavor enhancers. Below are some of my top picks.

Hemp Seed – looking to increase your protein and fiber intake? This may be your go-to ingredient. It’s nutty delicious flavor marries well with salads, soups, smoothies and more. I often eat 3-4 T of Hemp Seed Hearts with some almond milk or coconut milk in the morning.

Organic Coconut Oil – use in place of butter and olive oil, adding an extra dose of nutrition to your meals. Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil here.

Dark Chocolate – Lindt dark chocolate 85% and above is one of few commercially found chocolates that does NOT contain soy lecithin (which is a huge plus!). Buy one for mom and one for yourself!

Bars – I do not want to categorize this gift as “granola bars” because my recommended bars lack grains and are gluten free. So therefore, we will stick with bars. However, with many of my clients who need something on the go, or have in the gym bag for a time of need, I recommend a few bars including Lara BarsKind bars, and Zing bars. As a health professional I am able to sell Zing bars at a discounted rate, compared to retail. If interested, feel free to email me ([email protected]).

Grassfed Meat/Cheese – high quality protein sourced from grassfed animals is one of the best fuel sources we have. I love US Wellness Meats and their broad offerings including sugar free, nitrate free bacon.

Looking for more food ideas? Feel free to review my collected list on Amazon by clicking here.

BOOKS 

There are a number of great books out there right now and a few of my favorite include: Wheat BellyPrimal Body, Primal MindEat Fat, Lose Fat, Practical PaleoGood Calories, Bad Calories and a few more.

A few fellow dietitian friends have also recently published some interesting eBooks including:

GADGETS

I am afraid this list could go on forever, but beyond the iPhone and accessories, these items are appealing:

FitBit Aria Scale – Aria is a high performance scale, tracking weight, body mass index (BMI) and % body fat over time. After easy, wireless set-up, your Fitbit aria scale taps into your home wireless network and uploads your information automatically to fitbit.com each time you step on the scale. Automatically recognizes up to 8 different people in your home, sending their info to separate accounts at fitbit.com.

FitBit One & Zip trackers – track your movement with this little device.

Nike + Sports Watch and GPS – Tap the screen to mark laps and activate the backlight during your run, and personalize the data that you want to see during your run. For direct connect, USB contacts are built into the watch strapjust plug the watch directly into a USB port on your computer to upload run data and recharge the battery.

Camelbak Water Bottle – I love my camelbak water bottle, and the lid/straw helps me stay hydrated. When you see me, I am sure you will see me with my Camelbak.

There are numerous fun gadgets on the market right now. Everything from sound-proofed headphones to high-tech shoes. If I come across anything that I think is a must-have for the holidays, I will update this post. Until then, please let me know what you are eyeing for the holidays.

Enjoy the season, and try to stop and smell the pine once in awhile.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

The “Modified” 100 Workout

There was an image floating around on Facebook that caught my eye, which also inspired me to do. It was called the 100 workout. Doesn’t the words itself sound interesting? Well I did the workout and it was fun and tough. However, I was wondering where the push-ups where? Therefore, I did a little modification, enabling me to do the original workout, as well as, my modified version in the same week, targeting varying body parts.

This is what I came up with:

100 Jumping Jacks

90 Pilate Hundreds

80 Lunges

70 (Split the 70 between 35 push-ups and 35 Leg Extensions)

60 Jumping Jacks

50 Pilates Hundreds

40 Lunges

30 (Split push-ups and Leg Extensions)

20 Jumping Jacks

10 Minutes of biking

See You Later Hypertension

Last fortnight I was asked to participate in an online interview (article originally published on: http://www.bloodpressurecharts.net/kelly-o-connell-interview.html) about natural ways to manage high blood pressure. Not only was this request interesting but it is a topic that needs more coverage. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a silent killer. I hate to be so blunt but there is no way around it – one in four adults (US data) have hypertension. Untreated hypertension can get ugly causing kidney damage, stroke, heart disease, dementia and more. However, with most things related to health, you can turn it around for the better. If hypertension is something you deal with personally, consider the below to incorporate with your daily routine. As always, if you need some help, feel free to contact me.

  • What supplements/foods do you recommend people with high blood pressure try, to help lower their blood pressure?

Before advising someone on what to eat and what to supplement with, I first need to understand if there is anything else going on with their health, such as diabetes, kidney disease, etc. I also want to know what medication they are taking.

Generally speaking though, I advise eating a moderately high protein and fat diet, with moderately low (less than 150 grams per day) carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be mainly sourced from vegetables, legumes/lentils, tubers and fruit.

Important foods to consider are those rich in potassium (bananas, avocado, herbs, cocoa, nuts, and tomatoes), magnesium (pumpkin, squash, cocoa, nuts, fish), vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, celery) and vitamin E (almonds, herbs, olives), omega 3 fatty acids (fatty fish like salmon or sardines) and flavonols (red wine, grapes, cocoa). Do you see a trend? I am a believer in dark chocolate/cocoa nibs and consume cocoa in one shape or another daily.

However, more important than knowing what to eat is knowing foods to cut back on, including foods high in fructose and processed foods (chips, deli meat, bread, pastries, cookies, desserts, etc).

Fructose, simply put, is a type of sugar. It is under a lot of scrutiny causing detrimental things to our health including hypertension. While the jury is still out, there is a true consensus that fructose does more harm than good. The important take away is to know what foods are high in fructose i.e. candies/lollies, cold breakfast cereals, desserts such as ice cream, cake, muffins, salad dressing, breads, pizza,crackers, canned fruit and juices with added sweeteners and more.

My recommended supplements include high-quality fish oil, a strong probiotic, magnesium twice a day, Himalayan sea salt and CoQ10. Food always comes first.

  • What are your thoughts on salt and high blood pressure? Should we be limiting salt intake or is the salt thing all blown out of proportion?

You may be surprised to hear that I do not stress salt restrictions. Processed foods should certainly get more vigilance in this space. I think overall sodium claims are blown out of proportion and certainly, I strongly advise the use of Himalayan sea salt. Overall, individuals need to self-assess how salt makes them feel. If the consumption of salt makes someone retain fluid or make their heart palpitate/speed up, then a reduced salt intake should be implemented. However, I think there are far more important actions to take than demonizing salt. Focus should zero in on stress levels, adequate sleep, exercise, eating whole foods (this does not include whole grains) and maintaining a healthy weight.

  • Not necessarily specific to high blood pressure, but what are your top 5 healthiest foods we should all be trying to eat more of, and why?

Grassfed/free range meat – protein is essential and free range meat, ideally, beef, has an optimal fatty acid ratio, up to 6 times more omega 3’s compared to the grocery store variety. Certainly, omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in every cell and system in our bodies. Beyond the nutrient profile grassfed/free range beef offers, it is a great tool for optimal health. It is satiating, protective against cancer and cardiovascular disease, has low insulinogenic properties and more.

Coconut – whether it is coconut oil, flour, cream or milk, I welcome it all. I consume this functional food daily, reaping one of the thousands of benefits it offers. In traditional medicine, coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems and it is so versatile to use. I make pancakes from coconut flour and milk, I cook with coconut oil, especially with eggs and coconut cream is delicious with berries.

Pumpkin – is loaded with healthy starches and it is absolutely delicious. Pumpkin is nutrient-rich, easy to make and can satisfy a sweet or savory craving. I have learned to cook pumpkin in a variety of fashions from pumpkin soup (with coconut milk and cinnamon), roasted pumpkin salad (with pine nuts, spinach, feta and homemade balsamic dressing) to pumpkin porridge (mixing puree pumpkin with eggs, nuts, and raisins).  Pumpkin can also serve as a dessert by garnishing it with spices and honey.

Free range eggs – they are one of few foods that naturally contain vitamin D and are far superior to caged eggs when it comes to nutrient content. They are rich in vitamin A and E and omega 3 fatty acids, among many other important vitamins and minerals.

Fermented foods – I am all about gut health and a happy gut, makes a good immune system. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, etc provide probiotics to our intestines. There are plenty of benefits to adding probiotics to our bodies, including protection from colon cancerrelief from lactose intolerance and diarrheareduction in cavities, and more. Improved digestion means more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are absorbed, making you an overall healthier being.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel
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Monday Movers – Journaling

If you frequent my site, you may be aware of some of the food logs I have posted, predominately in the beginning of 2012. Since sharing my meals on my blog, I often track my food intake and health goals with traditional pencil and paper. What have I realized with both methods? Keeping track of what I eat is a SUPER easy way to stay motivated and it facilitates making the right health decisions.

The best thing about a diary is it does not have to be all about what you eat. Just logging some personal thoughts can go a long way. As mentioned above, I make weekly goals and write them down – if I do not write them down, I find I do not stick to them. Certainly I have learned to phrase my goals in a positive light as self-talk is nearly as important as laying out a personal goal. For example instead of saying, “do not eat nuts this week,” I phrase the goal to say, “seek out meals and snacks that include good protein, vegetables, fruit and good fats.” Other things I jot down include intentions to do some fitness classes during the week or no caffeine for better sleep on school nights.

The benefits of keeping a journal are extensive and can include the following:

–        May help with self-intuition and stress management.

–        You may realize that some of your staple snacks/meals may not be making you feel your best. I just realized this with nuts. I love macadamia nuts but lately I have been making my way around them and found I feel better and have more stable blood sugars.

–        It can help build self-esteem. Once you make goals or write down anything you have overcome, it is as if you are patting yourself on your own back. Start with small goals and slowly make bigger ones, week by week.

–        May help keep optimal health in check. Whether you are looking after your weight or nutrient consumption, logging information is making you attentive and cautious of what you want.

–        If you decide to jot down some notes in a journal or on some scrap paper, make sure you do not stress over keeping a perfect record. This diary is to help you, not to fuel more strain.

What weekly goals do you intend to make for yourself? Do you have any good experiences with journaling?

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

Dear Food Log – 12/12/11

Today, Monday, I ate:

Gym: 6AM, stairclimber, abs, push-ups

Breakfast: 7:20AM
2 poached eggs
Mushrooms and herbs
1 large strawberry, sliced
Water
Fish oil
Probiotics

Lunch: 2PM
Leftover fish taco meat and vegetables
Water

At work today we had a guest speaker discussing how to make the most of our lives. It was an interesting talk and motivational. I have been brewing up some NYE resolutions but have not necessarily thought of my goals for 2012. Have you? I know I have traveling in mind, health as a focus, maybe write a book, continue on blogging and more. I would love to hear what you all are pondering. Have any suggestions or ideas? Please share.

Walk: 5PM, walk home from work – 4.5 miles

Dinner: 7:30PM
Saganaki
Raw beef with truffle oil, rocket, parmesan cheese and potato
Water
Sauv Blanc

 

Merry Fitness

If you fall within the average American, there is a good chance that the holiday parties are not favoring your waistline. However, do not fret. Come the night before Christmas, reward yourself or your partner something for fitness..

Fitness Gift Ideas:

  • Bike
  • Running Watch
  • Vibrams
  • Kettlebell
  • Garmin watch – tracks distance, elevation, calories burned and heart rate
  • Books – on running, yoga, Paleo, the list goes on…
  • Water bottle – I like the ones with a straw. It makes me drink more water throughout the day.
  • Workout clothse – feeling good in the outfit you are sweating can make you want to push harder and last longer.
  • Sunglasses – polarized on both sides, protecting your eyes from the sun and water reflection
  • Tent – who said camping is for kids??
  • Yoga mat
  • Bosu ball

Food Gift Ideas:

  • Tea
  • Tea pot
  • Fruit deliveries – delivered monthly to your door step
  • Juicer
  • Food processor to make your own nutbutter, baby food, almond milk…
  • Fair trade coffee
  • Vouchers to awesome and wholesome food places, i.e. Chipotle, Mad Mex, Trader Joes, etc

Misc. Health Gift Ideas:

  • Bio-dynamic grocery bags
  • Fitness calendar
  • Gym membership
  • Running socks
  • iPhone apps to rev you up for workouts and health goals
  • Body lotions made of natural, glutenfree ingredients
  • Gym bag
  • Exercise package or running bib
  • Cooking classes

And the list goes on. What is your favorite health gift/reward?

Cheers to you and good health!

I did it!

Last week I reached an amazing personal goal. I ran the Disney World half marathon and I beat my boyfriend! Kidding aside, my focus was not on beating my boyfriend (even though it felt pretty good), yet, I was determined to push myself beyond my mental ability.

Orlando, Florida hadn’t seen snow for decades but on this given weekend, 9th of January 2010, it snowed like it was Chicago. Not only did pretty snowflakes come down and covered the course, but there was rain and hail. My limbs were nearly numb running and it did not help having to be at the race 2 hours before the start. It had me shivering to all ends.

So the race started and I ripped off the trash bag I was wearing for warmth and my legs were moving faster than I was thinking. After the second mile mark and my continuous celebratory fist punch in the air (which I did at every mile mark), I told myself I wasn’t going to stop until I past the finish line.

I wasn’t doing this all for myself but in my head I told myself I was doing it for all the type 1 diabetics who feel or have felt held back by their disease to reach physical goals.

I was once one of those diabetics, but I am proud to say I’ve enrolled in 4 half marathons, a dozen of 10k’s and many many more races in the last few years. I will admit, every race I have fear of going low or skyrocketing high, yet, I know how to react to these occasions if they arise and I do my best to be my best and to keep my glucose levels in goal range.

So I was right around mile 5 and there it was, the shriek of pain in my left leg. My IT band, as expected, was acting up. But in my head I told myself to run through the pain to prove myself that I can reach this half marathon goal and that this pain was only the beginning of what is to come. I was and am determined to give back to the diabetic community and reach every goal I set for myself.

The next milestone was right around mile 8. Wow, eight miles. I’ve never ran this much without stopping for a stretch or a water break in my life! But I will admit I wanted to crawl up in a warm bed more than anything. Again, I told myself, “there is no pain, no gain, I am keeping to my goal.”

It is not easy getting through the last few miles of a half marathon. I focused on positive things and I mostly thought of the lessons and morals my parents and peers have taught me.

I heard my dad echoing in my head to always strive to be the best person I can be and to live my dream. I kept recollecting how well my mom and dad raised us four kids and that we are so fortunate for the bond we have and much more.

I guess these races really break you down right?

After the race my dad and mom were the first people I wanted to call to tell how well I did! I called them as soon as my hands warmed up enough to move and my determination to reach more goals hasn’t stopped there. I plan to become a more solid player in the diabetic charitable and research community starting…yesterday. I turned down a great position on the Chicago Dietetic Association board to spend more time with another passion: JDRF.

Two-thousand- ten (2010) is going to be a good year and it took a 13.1 mile race through hail and rain to prove it!

Have a healthy and fit day!

Would you rather — walk for 20 minutes or hike all day?

What’s Better?

You’re busy, and that daily 15- to 20-minute walk doesn’t seem to stand up to your weekend exercise marathons, right? Not so fast — the truth may surprise you! It’s pretty much unanimous among health experts: The daily walk, even for 10 or 20 minutes, is better than the all-day weekend hike. Daily exercise is superior to being a weekend warrior. Couch potatoes Monday through Friday who become vigorous athletes Saturday and Sunday can easily end up with both acute and overuse injuries.

Not only that, but if you have the time to walk 15 minutes each day, the consistency is better for your health and fitness — and according to Michael R. Bracko, Ed.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine, these short walks can be the start of bigger and better fitness and health efforts and could ultimately change your life.

Reference click here

Have a healthy and fit day!