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Cold Weather Benefits

Yes, there are some benefits to cold weather, mainly that you can burn more calories.

winter-96376_640

Due to the colder temperatures, your body burns calories simply by trying to warm your body to its’ ideal temperature. In addition, however, executing cardio circuit training in frigid temperatures stimulates brown fat (if you are not aware what brown fat is, check out next week’s blog!), which results in greater caloric conflagration.

In addition to burning more calories, working some outdoor exercise time in during the winter is beneficial because it results in getting more sunlight, breathing fresh air, and possibly increases the number of endorphins released. Exercising in winter also might boost your immune system, making it less likely that you will become ill.

Aid your seasonal depression by getting some winter sun!

Aid your seasonal depression by getting some winter sun!

Now that we have addressed why you would want to take advantage of the cold climate, let us discuss how to properly exercise in the cold.

One of the most important aspects regarding exercising in the cold is how to dress.

To ensure that your body begins and is able to remain at an appropriate temperature, dress in layers. Of course, make sure to wear a supportive sports bra. In addition to this support, the first layer of clothing should be composed of moisture-wicking material. Since you are wearing pants made of moisture-wicking material, you do not have to, but you can, wear underwear. For your next layer, try wearing a fleece or wool sweatshirt. Then, the third layer should be waterproof and mesh. Finally, top all of your layers off with a scarf, gloves, and hat.

Wear layers!

Wear layers!

As far as the workout itself is concerned, make sure to warm up well before slipping into more strenuous movement.

If you are a fan of running, running in colder temperatures will help you learn how to breathe more efficiently, and likely increase your speed.

The best way to burn calories, however, is via cardio circuit. If you are not certain where to start, jump roping is a great beginning point, and can be utilized for the warm-up and workout itself.

Workout. Be happy.

Workout. Be happy.

Of course, it is also perfectly fine to work out indoors, if that is your preference. If so, try to push yourself to workout outdoors occasionally to gain these benefits and keep your exercise routine interesting via variation.

Picture Sources:

Winter sun: Ian .Capper [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Laughing kid: By http://www.flickr.com/photos/vatobob/ [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Aside

Health-Conscious during the Holidays

With the holidays approaching, encouraging you to be thankful for things that you often take for granted, one thing that you need to be conscientious of is your health.

happyholidays4

The holidays tend to attack two of the most important facets of your health: diet and exercise. The wide array of foods and desserts while spending time with your family encourages larger portions, and often the time spent with family involves a lot of sitting.

To avoid letting your health slide, here are 5 tips for the upcoming weeks:

  • Concentrate on eating fruits & vegetables.

Make sure not to neglect, and possibly even increase, your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Some great fruits and vegetables to eat in the fall are:

-apples

-cranberries

Eat your fruits & vegetables!

Eat your fruits & vegetables!

-figs

-kiwis

-pears

-pomegranates

-beets

-brussel sprouts

-cabbage

-cauliflower

-rutabaga

-squash

-sweet potatoes

In addition, try to eat the fruits and vegetables as naturally as possible, avoiding spices, cheese, etc.

  • Be careful with portion sizes!

Read through our former blog about portion control to review what your portion sizes should look like.

Consider purchasing products that will help you avoid over-eating, such as the plate-topper, the calorie-counting wine glass, and a meal measure plate. These products will help you plate portions, feel comfortable stashing leftovers in the fridge, and keep track of the amount of liquids you are consuming, as well.

Watch those portion sizes!

Watch those portion sizes!

  • Staying hydrated.

A glass of wine contains vitamins and antioxidants that are good for you. After one glass, however, it is a better idea to switch to water rather than indulging in another glass. Drinking water helps you provide your body with the cleanest form of hydration and helps you avoid overeating.

Drink enough water!

Drink enough water!

  • Fit in the exercise.

It is possible to do group fitness activities, such as signing up for a 5K walk or run with your family, or playing a dance game on the Wii.

If it is not possible for you to exercise with your family, however, bring a yoga mat. Exercise for ten or twenty minutes before hopping in the shower. New to yoga? Bring your laptop, and try these videos from DoYouYoga.com.

You can also take a class at a gym – just make sure to check the gym’s schedule beforehand, and make sure to register, if possible, so the fitness personnel know people want to attend the holiday classes (otherwise, classes might get canceled)!

Yoga is a great form of exercise that you can do in a class or by yourself in your room.

Yoga is a great form of exercise that you can do in a class or by yourself in your room.

  • Take a walk after dinner.

Even fitting in small physical activities is helpful – suggest a walk after dinner with the family. You might end up with stimulating conversation in addition to some exercise, and maybe even start a new, healthy family tradition.

Family walks are a great way to bond!

Family walks are a great way to bond!

Please share your favorite health-conscious tips & tricks for the holiday season in the comments below!

Resources:

http://greatist.com/health/healthiest-fruits-and-vegetables-fall

http://www.fitsugar.com/Portion-Control-Products-23227273?slide=9&image_nid=23227278

By Tomtheman5 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By johannrela (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Fir0002 (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By ThorPorre (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeremy Keith from Brighton & Hove, United Kingdom (Cauliflower  Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By pin add (Swede (The Vegetable)  Uploaded by nesnad) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Holloway from Birmingham, United Kingdom (Supersize paella  Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Photo taken by de:Benutzer:Alex Anlicker using a Nikon Coolpix 950. (Own work Source: [1]) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Hellogreenway (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Halloween Health Hazards

Costume Cautions:

  • Using cat’s eye or red contact lenses?

Make sure you treat these contact lenses just like prescription lenses. If you normally wear glasses/contacts, visit your optometrist to ensure the proper prescription. If you are not in the habit of wearing contact lenses, it is recommended that you visit an optometrist to ascertain a pair of lenses that fit well, as well as a proper comprehension of how to care for the lenses and your eyes. A follow-up visit is also recommended.

Using one-size-fits-all lenses can lead to eye disorders and infections, so either eliminate the crazy eye colors from your costume, or take proper precautions.

Careful with the Contacts!

Careful with the Contacts!

  • New makeup?

Be wary of possible allergens! Before putting your makeup on on October 31st, test a small amount of the makeup on your skin first.

Make sure you're not allergic to crazy makeup before you use it!

Make sure you’re not allergic to crazy makeup before you use it!

Trick or Treaters (or anyone who is going to be walking in the dark):

  • Make sure drivers can see you!

A lot of costumes are very dark, which makes it more likely that drivers have difficulty seeing you (especially if it becomes rainy/snowy outside). Try to wear at least one stand-out, brightly colored (neon, if possible) item. Or, if you cannot make that work, place reflective tape on your jacket.

Wear brightly colored costumes or use reflector tape - getting run over is not fun.

Wear brightly colored costumes or use reflector tape – getting run over is not fun.

  • Your costume should fit like a glove.

This caution does not necessarily mean the costume needs to be tight, just that it should fit properly. Costumes that are too large can lead to tripping.

Avoid tripping as much as possible by wearing a costume that properly fits.

Avoid tripping as much as possible by wearing a costume that properly fits.

  • Avoid masks

At least while walking. Masks often obscure your vision, so if you’re trick-or-treating, try to wear make-up (testing it first to avoid possible allergic reactions). If you really must wear a mask to a house party, carry the mask by hand or in a bag, and only put it on when you get to the party. Also, if you can, avoid buying overly large masks.

Masks can obscure your vision.

Masks can obscure your vision.

Time for candy!

  • Check the candy for allergens

Even if a particular type of candy does not usually contain a specific allergen you need to look out for, it might be manufactured near a candy that does, creating the danger that it will contain this allergen, as well. Check the packaging carefully to make sure your chocolate craving is not going to result in an allergy attack.

Sure, you can keep the Epi-Pen around, in case. But wouldn't it be nice not to have to use it?

Sure, you can keep the Epi-Pen around, in case. But wouldn’t it be nice not to have to use it?

  • Avoid bingeing.

Before going out for Halloween festivities, make sure to eat a meal to avoid more snacking than you want. After Halloween, try to ration out any candy or other goodies.

Pizza is one of the most popular Halloween meals - though you're free to make & eat something more healthy!

Pizza is one of the most popular Halloween meals – though you’re free to make & eat something more healthy!

  • Care for your teeth.

You know to brush and floss, but if it has been awhile since you visited the dentist, you might want to schedule a cleaning!

Dentist_chairs

Do you have any more Halloween health tips and tricks? If so, please let us know in the comments!

Resources:

Underwear & Health

Along with exercise and healthy eating, another facet of your health regards what you wear – including your under-clothing. Following are some questions for women to consider about their underwear – including some exercise-specific advice:

  • Of what fabric is your underwear composed?

You want to wear breathable fabric, which means you should be wearing cotton underwear. Lace, satin, etc., might be pretty, but these materials can trap in heat and moisture, which can make you more prone to infections.

The Touch... The Feel... The Lack of Infection

The Touch… The Feel… The Lack of Infection

  • How often do you wear thongs?

While many of us don this smaller piece of under-clothing to avoid the dreaded VPL*, you probably do not want to wear thongs very often, and you definitely do not want to wear them while working out. Thongs can create extra friction while working out that can lead to discomfort outside of the gym, as well. In addition, thongs often move around more than full underwear, which can result in additional bacteria being deposited in the vaginal area. Finally, thongs may prolong infections.

lingerie-160612_640

  • Do you need to wear underwear while working out?

In general, it is a good idea. Working out, if you are pushing yourself the way you generally want to, is going to result in a lot of sweat, and moisture in your underwear area is attractive to yeast and bacteria. An easy way to avoid this is to wear underwear. However, if your workout pants are made out of material that wicks the sweat away, then underwear is merely a matter of preference.

Wear underwear or moisture-wicking pants while exerting yourself via exercise.

Wear underwear or moisture-wicking pants while exerting yourself via exercise.

  • Training for a long event?

Long events mean a lot of sweat and damp, so make sure to bring clean changes of underwear. Changing into a dry pair of underwear is recommended, if possible, between events, if participating in a triathlon-type event. Even if your event consists of a single activity, such as a marathon, bring a clean change of underwear and change after the event before going to get food or celebratory drinks, etc.

Be ready to change your underwear a few times when engaging in long exercise activities.

Be ready to change your underwear a few times when engaging in long exercise activities.

These are some common concerns to consider when evaluating the health benefits and detriments of your underwear. Any additional questions? Let us know in the comments below!

*Visible Panty Lines

Resources:

Baby weightlifter – By User:Siva sathish (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Health(ier) Baking

A few weeks ago, we posted about apple cider and apple cider vinegar. Today, we’re posting about a fall-inspired dessert: Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies.

Yes, they are just as delicious as they sound.

Yes, they are just as delicious as they sound.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp clover
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In one mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg).
  2. In the second mixing bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and honey, using the electric mixer*. This mixture should become very light, which will take between 2-3 minutes.
  3. To the butter mixture in the second bowl, add the pumpkin puree, large egg, and vanilla extract, mixing well.
  4. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the butter-pumpkin mixture, mixing the ingredients together.
  5. Cover the cookie dough with a cheese cloth, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  6. If you plan on baking the cookies asap, preheat the oven to 350 degrees soon after placing the dough in the refrigerator. In addition, line the bottom of your baking sheet with baking powder.
  7. Once the dough is chilled and the oven is preheated, spoon tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets.
  8. Depending on how large you want your cookies, cooking time is probably sometime between 8-14 minutes.

If you want sweeter cookies, try topping them with cinnamon-sugar or cream cheese frosting.

*No mixer? No problem! I made these cookies via stirring by hand, and while the process is not as easy, the cookies were delicious (with the added bonus that I got an arm workout).

(This recipe was adapted from greens&chocolate.)

Interview: Amanda Rausch

To close up our National Yoga Month blog posts, here is a post about our other hot room yoga instructor, Amanda Rausch.

The Amazing Amanda

The Amazing Amanda

Amanda has been practicing yoga for approximately 5 years, and teaching since 2010. She has been teaching at the Barre Bee Fit studio for just over a year. Amanda really enjoys the heat of the hot room, because it feels cleansing and promotes stretching.

How and why Amanda got started: Amanda has always been interested in yoga, but did not seriously begin to practice this form of exercise until her senior year in college. She was prompted to begin seriously practicing yoga because she suffered a severe surfing accident, and was unable to perform other types of exercise. Yoga aided the healing process, and she has continues to regularly practice yoga ever since. She particularly likes that yoga has physical and emotional benefits, both keeping a person fit, and helping that person remain calm and centered.

Itching to practice yoga outside of a classroom? Amanda enjoys doing yoga on her Stand Up Paddle Board on lakes and rivers. This practice provides an interesting change in setting, and results in the practitioner really focusing on balance.

Amanda’s favorite pose: Tri-pod Head Stand

(Take her class and she will teach it to you!)

Sharing dirty secrets – what yoga pose is your least favorite? For Amanda, it is Standing Head to Knee pose.

What word/phrase does Amanda find herself repeating while teaching? Amanda is always saying “Happy [day of week];” she loves her job and truly thinks every day is a happy one! While in the midst of the class, Amanda often finds herself correcting alignment by reminding students to “Make sure those toes are pointing right at the barre.”

Watch your form! Speaking of alignment, Amanda often finds herself correcting the hip alignment of her students. Paying attention to your toes, and making sure that those toes are facing the correct direction, can avoid hurting your hips!

Advice: Be careful while doing chaturanagas – your stomach, hips, and pelvis should never touch the ground. A recommendation if you find yourself falling onto your stomach is to get on your knees to build up the triceps until you can properly hover halfway down.

Think of your yoga class as yoga practice, not yoga “perfect.” You do not have anything to prove. Listen to your body, and move at your pace (not your neighbors’).

Also, ask questions! Your yoga teacher is there to help you.

Yoga Poses to Help You Stretch

Continuing yoga posts for National Yoga Month, here are a few stretches to help you release stress and tension throughout your body.

Remember, yoga is all about the mind-body connection, and your body is different every day. If you feel pain during these poses, stop. Either do as much of the pose as feels comfortable, or modify it.

yoga pose

  • Fish Pose – Stretches the neck, chest, and throat.
  1. Begin lying on your back, with your  hands beneath your lower back.
  2. Arch your back off of the floor (in order to do this, you will be pushing off of your forearms. Make sure that the majority of your weight is in your pelvis, so that you are not placing much weight on your head.
  3. Hold for approximately 30 seconds.

Click here for a visual aid.

  • Reverse Prayer – Stretches the shoulders, forearms, wrists, & fingers.
  1. Begin sitting comfortably on your heels, with your arms out to your sides.
  2. Bend at the elbows, pressing your palms together behind your back (fingertips up).
  3. Gently reach your prayer-position hands up your back until you feel a comfortable stretch.
  4. Hold for 5 breaths.

Click here for a visual aid.

  • Half Frog Pose – Stretches the chest, abs, hips, thighs, groin, & ankles.
  1. Begin on your stomach.
  2. Come up on your forearms, lifting your upper torso. Cross the left forearm in front of your body.
  3. Bending at the knee, reach your right heel towards your seat.
  4. Release your right arm off of the floor and behind you, grasping your right foot.
  5. Move your arm so that your elbow points towards the ceiling, and your fingers curl over your toes (your palm should be pressing into the top of your foot).
  6. Gently press down on your foot so that the foot lowers towards the ground, aiming to bring the foot to the side of your seat, rather than directly towards your seat.

Click here for a visual aid.

Do you have another pose you really enjoy? Please share it in  the comments below! Or let us know how these poses worked.