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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.

Interview: Liza Rohn

September is National Yoga month! So we thought you might want to learn a little bit more about our Ann Arbor Barre Bee Fit yoga instructors, and their insights on this form of exercise. First up: Liza Rohn.

The Lovely Liza

The Lovely Liza

Liza has been practicing yoga since 2008, and teaching since 2010. She has been teaching at the Ann Arbor Barre Bee Fit studio for 5 months, helping us learn (and sweat) in the hot room. Here are some of the insights gleaned from talking with her:

How & why Liza got started: Liza began running more, and began yoga to stretch more effectively. She was hooked from her first yoga class, and really appreciates how much yoga has helped her get in tune with her body. One thing that she has found fascinating and helpful is that if a certain muscle is very tense, it is sometimes better to stretch the muscle opposite to the tense muscle.

Think yoga’s not for you?

If you have taken a yoga class, but did not feel that it pushed you, or would work for you as an exercise regimen, it is possible that all you need to do is try taking a class with a different teacher. Liza fell in love with yoga immediately, and attributes this positive experience to being lucky enough to have had the right teacher, for her.

Liza’s favorite pose: Extended Side Angle

Another great pose is downward dog, which works the entire body, and is very beginner friendly!

Sharing dirty secrets – what yoga poses are your least favorite?

For Liza, it’s the balancing poses.

What instruction does Liza find herself saying often while teaching hot baryasa?

“Breathe” – Breathing is important in all exercises, but in yoga, you really focus on the breath. This focus helps you think about your body and your form, strengthening your mind-body connection.

“Take a break if you need it” – Your body is different every day, and it is important to pay attention to what your body needs rather than competing with the other students in the class. In fact, the toughest class that Liza ever experienced was one in which she pushed herself too hard, resulting in her waking up the next morning feeling more sore than if she had run or lifted weights.

Watch your form!

One of the most common form issues Liza sees is misalignment of the hips and knees. Pay attention to these areas while doing yoga, and if you are not sure if your form needs to be corrected or not, ask your yoga instructor!

Advice: 

Try a lot of different teachers. All teachers have different styles, and these different styles will result in your having a different experience. Whether you love a certain teacher’s class and teaching style or hate it, make sure to continue seeking out those new experiences.

And ask questions!

Fall’s Almost Here! Let’s Talk Cider

Those of you who have been coming to our 7:30 a.m. classes or getting up early for another reason have felt the cool, almost crisp air that hints at fall. For me, fall conjures up images of leaves turning brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow, of light jackets, of warm apple pie, and of trips to the cider mill.

Fall!

Fall!

As it turns out, that cider might have been better for your health than you realized. Since cider includes the skin of the apple (part of what makes it cloudy in appearance), the drink contains a greater amount of polyphenols, which have many health benefits. Simply eating an apple is the healthiest way to consume these polyphenols, but if you are going to drink them, then grab a glass of cider.

Derive the benefits of those polyphenols by eating an apple or indulging in a glass of cider!

Derive the benefits of those polyphenols by eating an apple or indulging in a glass of cider!

One way that apple cider can be preferable to the fruit itself is to help ward off the chill in the air. Apple cider can be warmed, spiced, virgin, or liquor-enhanced*. In fact, if you are thinking of heating it to warm yourself up, make sure to add cinnamon. Cinnamon is both delicious, and helps prevent blood clots and regulate blood sugar.

Mm... hot cider.

Mm… hot cider.

On a related topic, apple cider vinegar also has a myriad of health benefits.

You can use apple cider vinegar for homemade spa treatments, helping everything from your hair to your skin to wart removal! Really, make sure to grab a bottle if you do not already have apple cider vinegar in your arsenal, and check out this link for pampering tips.

Apple cider vinegar - 1 small bottle = health and pampering benefits!

Apple cider vinegar – 1 small bottle = health and pampering benefits!

Apple cider vinegar also has some healing possibilities. Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to water or apple juice could help with:

  • stopping hiccups
  • an upset stomach
  • preventing indigestion
  • alleviating congestion
  • lessening leg cramps in the evening

And my favorite:

  • alleviating exhaustion and acting as a remedy for lactic acid after a good workout!
Get that heart rate racing! You have apple cider vinegar to help assuage the lactic acid buildup.

Get that heart rate racing! You have apple cider vinegar to help assuage the lactic acid buildup.

Do you know of any additional benefits of apple cider or apple cider vinegar? Please share it/them in the comments below!

*If you are of legal drinking age, of course.

It’s All About the Attitude

Your attitude has a large impact on your health and fitness, but possibly not in the way that you think.

How does my attitude affect my health?

How does my attitude affect my health?

Let’s begin by talking about stress. I know you have heard before that stress negatively impacts your health. Yet that is not always true. Have you heard of oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a stress hormone. Sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is important when a woman gives birth or breastfeeds. Recent studies also indicate that this hormone plays a role in social interaction, bonding, and orgasm. So oxytocin is a stress hormone that we are glad we possess, and that we certainly would not want to will away.

Yay, oxytocin!

Yay, oxytocin!

And while some of us do feel stress in a negative way more often than we would like, thinking about how unhealthy the stress we are feeling is actually makes it more unhealthy. If you take barre classes, you know how important the mind-body connection is; stress provides another example of how powerful our minds are. A 2012 study indicates that people who think that stress is bad for them can die prematurely as a result of that belief.

So being stressed about stress... is bad.

So being stressed about stress… is bad.

As the example of oxytocin makes clear, not only is stress not always bad for us – sometimes, it’s actually good for our relationships and health. In addition, the recent study cited earlier makes it clear that worrying about being stressed can only result in further deterioration to your health. While we should not necessarily seek out ways to increase our stress, we also do not want to fear it. Viewing stress as something that is the body’s natural response, arising from a situation that you can handle, is a healthier way to handle the response than simply trying to get rid of it.

For example, some of us need stress to help us with punctuality.

For example, some of us need stress to help us with punctuality.

Just because stress is not as bad for us as we might have previously thought, however, does not mean that you should strive to be positive about absolutely everything. The problem with optimism? When you only look on the bright side, you usually do not ever think about the possible negative effects of your actions. For example, ice cream is awesome, and if you don’t think about the consequences, and eat ice cream for 3 meals each day, there are likely to be negative effects to your teeth and health.

People who are optimists tend to have more unhealthy habits, because they think that they will be okay, in the end. Thus, people who are optimists and only consider positive outcomes are less likely to take care of themselves. And without the preventative medicine of regular healthy diet and exercise, those people are more likely to have health problems later.

Smiling & being happy is great - but limit your cake intake.

Smiling & being happy is great – but limit your cake intake.

So stress is not as bad as we think it is, and being optimistic could negatively impact our health. What do we take away from this? Attitude, like many facets of our life, is all about balance.

How could I resist?

How could I resist?

Healthy Eating: Make Your Own Guacamole

While there are fairly inexpensive and healthy pre-made guacamoles available for purchase, guacamole is very easy to make on your own. It only requires a few ingredients, and is more tasty and healthy if you use fresh ingredients. It also does not take very much time – once you have the necessary ingredients gathered, it should only take sometime between 5 – 10 minutes to make. So there is really no reason why you should not be making your own guacamole, once you are confident about how to do it.

What you will need:

  • Cutting board

Կտրատելու_տախտակ

  • Knife

Paring_Knife

  • Spoon & Forkspoon and fork
  • Small mixing bowl

Mixing_Bowl

  • Avocado

avocado on black

  • Tomato

Ripe Tomatoes

  • Shallots

Shallots

  • Salt & Pepper

salt&pepper

One of the most important aspects of making your own guacamole is the ability to discern when an avocado is ripe, or being willing to ripen it, yourself. First, you want to test avocados with skins that are dark green or black. Then, pushing gently on the skin, check to see if the avocado flesh beneath has any/much give. If it barely moves at all under pressure, then the avocado is not ripe yet. You can purchase these avocados and leave them on the counter for a couple of days to ripen, doing the pressure check again to make sure it is ripe before using it for guacamole. If, on the other hand, you are really craving guacamole, and absolutely cannot wait, then you need to make sure that the avocado does move fairly easily under soft pressure. If the avocado moves fairly easily, however, there is another problem: it could be overripe. An easy trick to make sure you are not going to open the avocado to see unusable brown flesh is to flick off the small, dry stem at the end of the avocado. If this removal reveals the green avocado color you desire upon cutting into the fruit, then this avocado is ripe and ready to be used right away! If, on the other hand, the removal reveals brown, you do not want to purchase that avocado.

Now that you have lovely, ripened avocados, you are ready to begin!

  • Using the knife, slice the avocado in half.
  • Grab the spoon, and edge the avocado flesh from the dark skin, then drop the avocado flesh into the bowl.
  • Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Dice the tomato, and add to the bowl.
  • Dice the shallots, and add to the bowl.
  • Using the fork, mush the avocado flesh, and then mix all of the ingredients together.
  • Grab a bag of your favorite tortilla chips, and you are ready to eat!

Since avocados taste best if eaten very soon after opening and cutting, it is recommended that you only make a small amount of guacamole (this is why I only put 1 avocado in the list of necessary items and ingredients). I also did not  list a specific amount of tomato or shallots to add, because it is a manner of taste. I like a lot of tomato, and generally add an entire tomato to the guacamole, but a lot of people might find this amount a bit too much, and want to add only half a tomato, or 3/4 of a tomato.

If you have never used shallots before, they are a type of onion that have a bit of a garlicky taste to them. Shallots are also strong, however, so a small amount has a large impact on your guacamole. I usually dice two small slices of shallot to add to one avocado’s worth of guacamole. If you are a huge fan of garlic and onions, however, you may find yourself wanting a little bit more.

Guacamohl

See? Very easy, and very quick! Make sure to let me know if you have any questions about the recipe in the comments! Also, please share any additional tips, or other easy, favorite, end-of-summer dishes.

Pinterest: Being Aware of the Unhealthful Aspects of Its’ Motivational Fitness Pins

Do you Pinterest? We do! Pinterest can be a great way to keep your interests and relevant links organized and find inspiration. Sometimes, however, Pinterest might be fueling unhealthy habits.

  • Pinterest can be addictive. Like any interactive website with a social media sharing aspect, users might plan on stopping at the site for a couple of minutes to get updated, and find themselves still on the site an hour later. Or, users may find themselves stopping by the site for short periods several times within the same hour. Kind of funny, right? The problem is, if you’re finding yourself becoming obsessive with Pinterest (or any other site), you are spending more time at the computer that you could spend getting some fresh air and/or being active.
Don't let Pinterest trick you into a sedentary lifestyle!

Don’t let Pinterest trick you into a sedentary lifestyle!

“But wait,” you object. “I primarily use Pinterest to motivate myself to work out and eat healthier. That does the opposite of keeping me sitting down longer!”

Which is awesome! There are still a couple of things to look out for, however:

  • Images. Have you ever noticed that a lot of the time, when you’re looking at fitness & health related pins, there are these young, sexy, very thin female bodies in the background? Seeing these images can sometimes affect us in an unhealthy way. It’s great to be motivated to be the best, most healthy you attainable. But the emphasis should be on health, not on being skinny, getting a six pack of abs, etc. We all have different bodies, and when we are healthy, we all look beautiful and we all look different. Another issue with the images that are often in the background on Pinterest is that many of them cut off the tops and bottoms of the model’s body. So instead of a person, we are seeing a stomach, a butt, etc. Such imagery reinforces the idea that women need to look a certain way, because you’re not viewed as a person, you’re viewed as an object. But you are not an object, you are a person. You are more than your waistline, you are not a display to set up in the window of a department store; your health is more important than fitting some image that was created by marketing departments, and never intended to reflect very much of reality.
Don't let images like this one corrupt your healthy mindset!

Don’t let images like this one corrupt your healthy mindset!

  • Pain Threshold. This issue can be related to group fitness classes, as well. In the prior point, we talked about the face that everyone has a different body. It is important to remember this fact when exercising. Everyone has a different body, with different strengths, different weaknesses, and different abilities. Not only do your abilities differ between you and other people, however – your body is different every day. You will have days when you are stronger and more flexible, and days when the opposite is true. The best judge of your body is you. So when you read or hear someone say something along the lines of “No Pain, No Gain,” or “If It’s Not Hurting, It’s Not Working,” you need to take that with a grain of salt. Yes, when you exercise properly, you should feel that tingly, exercise-burn sensation. If something legitimately hurts, however, that is your body telling you to stop. Sometimes, you don’t need to stop completely, but maybe just modify the exercise to take some pressure off of an area that needs a little bit less pressure today. The idea that you have to be in extreme pain in order to become fit, however, is simply wrong. Discomfort? Yes. Pain? No.
Listen to your body.

Listen to your body.

  • Form Issues. Not everyone who posts on Pinterest, or on the internet in general, is a fitness instructor. Sometimes, some of the pictures on Pinterest show improper form, or the pinner or author of the site pinned to writes how to do an exercise incorrectly. If a pin does not link to a creditable source, it is worth a quick Google search to ascertain that you have a proper understanding of how to perform the exercise correctly to avoid hurting yourself.

While these issues are ones to be mindful of, we are not saying you should not use Pinterest. Pinterest can be great! And there are a lot of safe, helpful fitness and health tips, tricks, and recipes on the Pinterest site. Just make sure not to spend so much time on it, you cannot enjoy the beautiful, sunny days left of summer. And always make sure that it is your health being promoted from (or confirmed by) an authoritative source.

Do you have any favorite Pinterest fitness and/or health boards? Let us know in the comments!

Aside

Mindful Breathing

Breathing. You do it every day. But are you utilizing the mind-body connection to ensure maximum benefit from your breathing during appropriate times?

While exercising, you want to breath deeply, exhaling on the most exerting part of the movement. While doing crunches, the exertion is when you lift your shoulders off of the ground, so that is when you exhale. When performing push-ups, both the lowering and lifting of the body require concentration, but it is the lifting movement that requires the most exertion.

An exception to the exhale on exertion rule is while running. In the case of running, inhale for 3 steps, exhale for 2 steps.

An exception to the exhale on exertion rule is while running. In the case of running, inhale for 3 steps, exhale for 2 steps.

Deep breaths helps prevent dizziness while exercising, and burns more fat.

To maximize your fat-burning potential, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water!

To maximize your fat-burning potential, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water!

Another time to really focus on and control your breathing is during times of stress. Focusing on taking slow, deep breaths not only helps calm you down, it also prevents the immune system from becoming compromised, lowers your blood pressure, and literally changes your body. Utilizing deep breathing can actually alter your gene expression, changing the manner in which genes act during times that you are experiencing stress.

Talk about a mind-body connection!

Talk about a mind-body connection!

In addition, utilizing controlled breathing in conjunction with meditation can increase your brain size. Becoming adept at meditation is a skill that requires practice. A lot of practice. Here’s a pretty good site to provide an introduction to mindfulness and meditation, meant to be explored over the course of 5 – 6 weeks.

Take time, and continue practicing meditation. Don't beat yourself up too much if it's not perfect immediately.

Take time, and continue practicing meditation. Don’t beat yourself up too much if it’s not perfect immediately.

By being mindful and concentrating on your breathing, you can benefit your health and often perform activities and exercises in a more effective manner. So breathe deeply, exercise effectually, and react to stress more productively.

breathe