We all know sugar tastes yummy. Sure it can add excess calories with no nutritional value. Sure it can rot your teeth. But there are far graver consequences to be aware of when we consume too much sugar.
Consumption of refined sugar has skyrocketed. Our genes were developed in an environment where one person consumed at the most 4 pounds of sugar a year. In 1830 human sugar consumption rose to 11 pounds a year and by the end of the twentieth century it was up to 150 pounds a year! Yikes!
When we eat sugar blood levels of glucose rise rapidly. The body immediately releases a dose of insulin to enable the glucose to enter cells. The secretion of insulin is accompanied by the release of another molecule called IGF (insulin-like growth factor), whose role is to stimulate cell growth. In short, sugar nourishes tissues and makes them grow faster. They have another effect in common: They promote the factors of inflammation, which also stimulates cell growth. Sugar, therefore, acts as a fertilizer for cancer tumors.
Today it is well known that the peaks of insulin and the secretion of IGF directly stimulate not only the growth of cancer cells, but also their capacity to invade neighboring tissue. The moral of the story here is to not only fear the short term effects of sugar consumption, but the long term effects which are much scarier!
The surgeon general recommends you strive for 10,000 steps per day to maintain a healthy fitness level. This is approximately the equivalent to 30 minutes of activity. Remember, though, that if you want to lose weight, you would need at least 15,000 steps per day.
So how do you go about accomplishing this goal? First you need to determine how many steps you actually do take during the course of a normal day. Purchase a pedometer or a fitness tracker (I recommend FitBit) and track your number of steps each day for one week. At the end of the week figure out your average number of steps per day. Now add 20% more to that total. For instance, if you average 7,000 steps per day, add 1,400 step to equal 8,400. You now have your first daily goal! Once you reach that goal, add another 20%.
You may be surprised at how little activity you typically get in a day. A sedentary person only gets in about 1,000 – 3,000 steps. There are many ways to increase your steps. Use the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from stores, or better yet, walk to the store! During the course of the work day, get up and walk around the building. Get creative, you’ll be feeling more energetic and looking leaner before you know it.
We are constantly hearing that we should be eating greens. Yes we all know that vegetables are good for us but do you know why greens in particular are recommended?
Calorie for calorie, greens are probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals including A, C, K, E, folate, calcium, potassium, and iron as well as fiber and phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage. There aren’t many foods out there that will provide you with all of this! They even have a little omega 3 fatty acids!
Here is a list of few leafy greens you can stock up on. Try them in a salad, a wrap, or stir fried. Because most these vitamins are fat soluble your body will need a little dietary fat to help absorbs them. So, add a little olive oil to the stir-fry or flax-seed oil to your salad but avoid using butter which is loaded with saturated fat. You can also add them to soups or steam them.
- Collard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
We all know stretching is important and can feel the ill effects of not stretching in our daily lives. So why is it that this is the most neglected component of physical fitness? Maybe because we can’t see flexibility? Or maybe because we are so focused on losing body fat? Whatever the reason, we need to bring flexible to the fore front. Without the ability to move your muscles through a full range of motion, you are more susceptible to injuries, and balance and coordination are impaired. If you’re looking to build muscle, you’re muscles will only grow as large as your fascia will allow (sheath of connective tissue covering your muscles). If your fascia is tight it will hinder muscle growth. One way you can squeeze some stretching into your day, is take a few minutes to stretch while sitting at your desk. As trainers we see more often than not, clients whose anterior deltoids and pectorals are shortened as well as their hip flexors. This is due to extended periods of time sitting and leaning forward. Stretching by Bob Anderson is one of my favorite books on stretching. Below is a quick routine for stretching at your desk. I highly recommend you add this book to your library! Title Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net