Personal Training Kelowna

Beat the Winter Blues

Beat the winter blues

Leigh Carter

Personal Trainer Kelowna

Private Gym

 

It’s that time of year when you just feel like hibernating like the animals. When it’s cold outside all you feel like doing is staying indoors, heating full on and not doing much at all. Well taking care of our health in the winter months is very important. A healthy diet, enough sleep and staying active are all essential to our winter wellbeing. Although, well wrapped up, there’s nothing to quite beat that first walk in the freshly fallen snow, breathing in that fresh air!

Instead of resorting to comfort in foods which are very tempting but usually high in sugar, fat and salt, try warming and nourishing soups and stews full of flavour and healthy vegetables. By making sure your diet includes winter fruit and vegetables such as sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, kiwi fruit, mandarins, bananas, garlic and ginger you will be feeding your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your immune system healthy and fight off all those unwelcome colds.

A good nights sleep (eight hours for an adult) can help keep the body’s immune system healthy. Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking as these can affect the quality of your sleep. Regular, moderate exercise, relaxation techniques and establishing a regular sleep routine may help to promote improved sleep.

It’s always harder to find the motivation to exercise when it is cold outside, but remember that keeping active during winter is essential to support our health and wellbeing. Moving your exercise indoors during winter will help to keep you warm as well as fit and healthy. Be sure to spend time warming up before you start your exercise as it can take a little longer for your joints to loosen up in the cold weather.

Avoiding the exercise as well as the salads during winter can often lead to weight gain. While it may only be a small weight gain you’re not going to feel good about yourself when you try getting into those Spring clothes. By sticking to your healthy diet and exercise routine all year round, you’ll be much healthier in the long run and you will avoid that “yoyo effect” – eating then dieting, never quite getting the weight back to what it was, then the cycle starts again next winter.

The cold weather can affect our skin and contribute to conditions such as dry, itchy skin, chilblains and eczema. This may be due to the reduced humidity, drinking less water than you would during summer. As the weather cools down and our thirst decreases it is easy to forget to drink enough water. You still need to aim for about two litres a day of water during winter as it is essential for our body to function. Also reduced circulation which may decrease the flow of blood and nutrients to the skin and therefore could have a drying effect. Try using moisturisers daily may help to keep the skin moist and supple whilst supplements containing vitamin E or garlic help assist blood circulation. If any of your family suffers psoriasis or eczema, try taking fish oils which provide omega-3 which can help manage these itchy skin conditions.

During winter our hands and feet can often feel cold, as our hands and feet are at the extremities of our bodies this means they are the furthest from the heart which is pumping blood around our body to help keep us warm. By keeping on the move with gentle exercise we can help to improve circulation to the extremities of the body.

Although we can do a lot to support our health and immunity during winter it is not always possible to avoid catching a cold or flu. The viruses that cause colds are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact. It helps to wash or sanitise your hands regularly and avoid close contact with someone who has a cold. If you do catch a cold do be sure to drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol and caffeine and get plenty of sleep. Supplements such as vitamin C, zinc and echinacea may help relieve the symptoms and reduce the duration of a cold.

Stress can have a negative effect on your body, it can lower your resistance to bugs by depressing the immune system. Importantly, stress increases your need for dietary magnesium which is important for muscle and nerve function. Many of the B vitamins e.g. B1, B5, B6 and B12 are also needed for a healthy nervous system.

 

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An Apple a Day

An Apple a day

Leigh Carter

Personal Trainer Kelowna

Private Gym

 

You may have heard the English saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, which apparently originated in Wales at the end of the 19th Century. They obviously didn’t have access to the nutritional facts that we do but seems like even all those years ago they were on the right tracks.

Apples certainly have a good claim to promoting health.

Apples contain a number of phytonutrients in high amounts, and these include vitamin A, vitamin E and beta carotene which suppress the activities of free radicals that can cause serious damage to your body, and they can contribute to the prevention of serious illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma.

Apples are rich in flavonoids which are known for their antioxidant effects which can help to prevent both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Quercetin is a flavonoid that has the potential to prevent many different types of cancer, ranging from breast cancer to lung cancer. It may also be effective in combating free radicals that can cause age-related diseases. It has also been suggested by Cornell University researchers that the quercetin found in apples protects brain cells against neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease.

The high pectin content in apples is a type of soluble fibre that works to maintain a healthy digestive system. It can also reduce “bad” cholesterol and glucose levels as well as blood pressure.

The vitamin C that is present in apples is an essential nutrient that offers numerous health benefits. Its most important function is protecting the immune system, and it can make your body more resistant to a wide variety of diseases, which can range from eye disease to cancer. It is also effective in preventing skin wrinkling.

Apples contain phenols, which have a double effect on cholesterol. It reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. They prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from turning into oxidised LDL, a very dangerous form of bad cholesterol which can be deadly.

The juice of the apples has properties that can kill up to 80% of bacteria that cause tooth decay an infection that seriously damages the structure of your teeth.

A study at the University of Nottingham shows that people who eat 5 apples or more per week have lower respiratory problems, including asthma.

A regular size apple has between 70-100 calories. Eating an apple when craving for sweets or chocolate can make the desire disappear since apple in itself contains sugar, but gives you only ¼ of the calories.

If taken literally, the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” probably means that you will never fall ill if you eat an apple a day. While apples bring lots of health benefits, they cannot prevent all health problems from occurring. However, by eating an apple every day you will certainly be doing your body more good than harm. It is a good idea to include a variety of fruits in your daily diet, you should also try to eat citrus fruits, tropical fruits and berries, which are known to be highly nutritional.

 

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Lentils

Lentils

Leigh Carter

Personal Trainer Kelowna

Private Gym

 

Lentils are good for us. They are pulses and are higher in protein and starchy carbohydrates than most vegetables. Apart from being healthy, filling, quick to prepare and an inexpensive store cupboard ingredient, you can make them even faster by buying them in cans or ready cooked pouches.

Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of seven important minerals, our B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils.

Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. 26 percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. They provide a useful substitute for meat eaters who would like to replace some of their meaty meals, try replacing the meat in bolognese, chillies and curries with lentils to reduce the calorie and fat count, especially the saturated fat in meat that is linked with an increased risk to cardiovascular disease. Try replacing a couple of meaty meals each week.

Lentils are also a good source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Low levels of magnesium have been directly associated with heart disease, so eating lentils will keep your heart happy!

Lentils also count as one of your vegetable and fruit targets, a 60g uncooked portion of lentils will count as one.

One serving of lentils will provide 4g of fibre, much of it being the soluble form that can help to reduce cholesterol, the fibre traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilising blood sugar levels. This can be especially helpful for those with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycaemia.

As lentils have a low glycemic index, it means they produce a slow, sustained rise in blood sugar, helping us maintain stable energy levels and keep us feeling full.

There are different kinds of lentils, the most common being:

Green and brown which have a mild earthy flavour. They retain their shape after cooking so are ideal for warm salads, casseroles and stuffing.

Puy lentils are grey-green lentils, grown in the French region of Le Puy, are often more expensive than other common cooking varieties and are thought to be superior in texture (which they retain after cooking) and they have a rich, peppery flavour.

Red split lentils when cooked form a rich puree and therefore are superb for thickening dishes such as soups and casseroles. They are also often cooked with spices to make the Indian side dish, dhal.

Yellow lentils we quite similar to Red Split lentils, the yellow variety are used in a similar way and are great for adding colour to winter dishes.

Beluga lentils are black, have a rich flavour and hold their shape when cooked.

 

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Personal Trainer Kelowna

Christmas Superfoods

Christmas Superfoods

Leigh Carter

Personal Trainer Kelowna

Private Gym

 

Following on from “surviving the festive season”, you can make the most of some of the festive foods as they could be classed as “Christmas Superfoods”. Perhaps your Christmas lunch could be very healthy after all.

Turkey is one of the healthiest meats you can eat, particularly if you stick to the white lean meat, and avoid the brown meat on the legs. It is the “superfood” of meat, containing almost every nutrient you could wish for: high levels of protein, contains high levels of tryptophan which is a precursor to the hormones serotonin and melatonin, essential for good mood and sleep, explaining that after dinner nap, as well as being a low-calorie food with a low percentage of fat. Turkey is also a perfect meat for diabetics, as it has a low GI count (glycemic index) and can assist in stabilising blood sugar.

Parsnips are a great source of potassium helping to protect from high blood pressure. They also contain good levels of folate which helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with increased risk of heart disease.

Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest vegetables around. If roasted, which keeps the flavour very intense without adding fat, sweet potatoes burst with fibre, vitamin A, potassium, and phytochemicals, which stave off ageing, cancer, and arthritis. Plus, they’re very filling, so you don’t have to overload your plate with them.

Carrots are a highly nutritious vegetable containing an excellent source of antioxidants. Rich in carotenes, they help protect against cardiovascular disease and promote good eye sight and night vision.

Brussels sprouts are a perfect winter vegetable as they are packed with immune boosting properties including high levels of vitamin C. Known as part of the ‘brassica’ family, these vegetables are great at helping the body detoxify potential toxins.

Cranberries are an amazing source of vitamin C and have long been used for their anti-inflammatory protection. Their unique structure makes it difficult for certain types of bacteria to latch on to the lining of the urinary tract helping to fight off urinary tract infections.

Another little powerhouse of nutrition, nuts provide protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals. These are beneficial to both a healthy heart and regulating blood pressure. Good ones to go for are walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, and, perfect for this time of year, chestnuts. Chestnuts have the lowest fat and calories of all nuts and in their raw form are a good source of vitamin C. But, like anything, you can still have too much of a good thing, so nuts should be consumed in controlled quantities.

Salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fats which help protect against heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also helps keep the brain healthy, fighting off depression and protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. Salmon is also a great source of vitamin B12 and selenium, helping to protect against cancer.

Prawns are another good source of protein, essential for growth and development and for boosting energy levels. Prawns also contain high levels of selenium, protecting against cancer and encouraging cell repair.

Nutmeg contains many anti-oxidants essential for optimal health. It contains good levels of minerals such as copper, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium making it a great spice to protect against heart health.

Cinnamon has great anti-inflammatory properties, helping to fight conditions such as asthma and arthritis. It has been used for years as a digestive aid, helping to relieve heartburn, bloating and gas and it also has amazing anti-bacterial action that can help reduce those nasty bugs that can cause food poisoning.

Maybe starting your day with oatmeal is a good way to keep you going as you prepare your Christmas lunch, make you feel replete and help stop you snacking. Oatmeal’s major benefit is a high content of soluble fibre, which lowers cholesterol. It is also quite low in calorific value. But don’t be tempted to add sugar to sweeten it, as this will just ruin the healthy reasons for eating it. If you need a sweet kick, use add a bit of raw honey, molasses, or fresh fruit.

And perhaps finishing off with a glass or two of red wine containing the compound resveratrol, an anti-oxidant shown to protect against heart health, cancer and other diseases however it should not be drunk in an attempt to get health benefits!

 

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Kelowna Personal Training

How to survive the Festive Season

How to survive the festive season

Leigh Carter

Personal Trainer Kelowna

Private Gym Training

 

Well it will soon be that time of year where we throw caution to the wind and risk everything, health, weight, all those hard hours in the gym, to join our friends, colleagues or family in celebrating the Christmas season with a party or two (or more) and this usually involving more than a couple of festive drinks and far too much food.

Whether we like it or not, Christmas will force us to spend, gorge, stuff, bloat, stress, argue and booze your way through an entire month which, if we survive it and are still speaking to our loved ones when it’s over, will be more by sheer fluke than anything.

How can we avoid the January aftermath when we need to exercise like mad and detox to get our bodies functioning again. It’s bad enough dealing with the budget account that reminds you that you overspent in December without the stress of our over indulged bodies to deal with.

Start as you mean to go on. Before going out to the party, plan ways to minimise your alcohol intake and the effect it will have on your body. If that doesn’t feel festive, imagine the headache, nausea and general misery you feel when you overindulge. This should help you stick to your plan.

Alcohol is packed with empty calories and research shows alcohol not only increases our appetite but can weaken our willpower, meaning we’re even more likely to overindulge on festive nibbles. Adding ice to alcoholic drinks will dilute them, choosing lower-alcohol drinks such as spritzers and punch will cut the calorie count.

Try to make your first drink water – or something soft – if you can. It will help if you’re really thirsty. Drink your drinks slowly. Make every second drink non-alcoholic or just water.

There’s only one way sure way to avoid a hangover – don’t drink too much alcohol. But if you do drink a little too much, drinking more water before you go to bed is also recommended and make sure you have water on hand to drink when you wake during the night. Avoiding dark coloured drinks, such as red wine, brandy or whisky, can also help. Limit fizzy alcoholic drinks – it’s true these really do go straight to your head. The bubbles they contain speeds up your absorption of alcohol, so limit the number of glasses of sparkling wine, fizzy cocktails and champagne. Avoid a nightcap – darker drinks especially spirits like brandy or whisky have a higher level of compounds called congeners, which are formed during the fermentation and distilling process. These compounds are thought to make your hangover worse – so if you must have a nightcap try a white spirit instead.

Remember your body is happy for you to have alcohol, but it will wash out the nutrients your body needs to work properly. This is why when you’re hungover you crave junk food, which will only work in the short-term and later will make you feel worse. Now you need more than just water – coconut water, a sports drink or a rehydration drink will help restore your hydration levels. You can make your own rehydration drink by dissolving a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt in a pint of water and sip throughout the morning.

Limit caffeine – you may be desperate for that caffeine pick-me-up but drinking too many cups of tea or coffee will only aggravate hydration levels – so stick to one cup until you’re feeling yourself again. Tuck in to a nourishing breakfast – it’s the best way to replace the vitamins and minerals that your body will have lost as it worked hard to process the alcohol. If you can’t face food, even a bowl of breakfast cereal fortified with folate and iron should help to redress some of the damage and lift your energy levels. Alternatively try B-rich wholegrains like a piece of wholemeal toast with a poached or scrambled egg, some grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and finish with a glass of orange juice.

If you’re going to a party straight after work, missing lunch for fear of overdoing your daily calorie intake will only leave you feeling hungry and hungry people make bad food decisions. Eat a light lunch and then shortly before you head out have a snack such as a yogurt or a couple of pieces of fresh fruit to take the edge off your hunger and stop you gorging. You should never drink on an empty stomach – dairy including milk and yogurt are excellent stomach liners, so if you’re not going to be eating with the alcohol enjoy a small carton of plain yogurt with a banana, a bowl of cereal with milk or some cheese and biscuits before you venture out.

Faced with a buffet, resist the temptation to start filling your plate at one end of the table and continuing to add to it until you reach the other. Portion control at a buffet can be difficult for even the most determined healthy eater. So before you pick up a plate, pause to look at all that’s on offer. Decide on three things you’re going to enjoy most and then help yourself to these and only these.

Once you’ve selected your food from the buffet, step away. When food is within easy reach we’re prone to graze mindlessly, endless crisps, nuts canapés will be your ruination. The saltiness of the crisps and nuts will also have you drinking more, it’s a vicious circle.

Dinner with family and friends often means we spend longer sitting around the table. But the longer we linger, the more the temptation to keep eating even if we’ve had enough, so clear the table when everyone has finished eating and move into another room to continue the conversation.

Listen to your body and give it a chance to feel hungry before you eat, try to make sure you really savour the indulgent things and eat them slowly and mindfully.

Even Christmas shopping doesn’t help with the healthy diet, unless pre-armed with a couple of healthy snacks in your bag – fresh fruit or a small packet of unsalted nuts and seeds, you’ll find yourself heading towards the fat-laden coffee shop options when you need a mid-shop energy boost.

There’s only one thing worse than a bad hangover after a party and that’s a bad hangover with food poisoning thrown in. Beware some party foods are especially risky once they’ve been out of the fridge a few hours – these include soft cheeses (hard cheeses are less risky), meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, salami, ham, seafood, cooked rice, cooked pasta and prepared salads such as coleslaw, pasta salads, and rice salads.

And don’t forget the exercise. Even if you can’t keep your usual exercise routine – which will probably be quite hard, exercise of some sort will help you to maintain your weight during the season of excess. Instead of sitting in front of the TV go for a walk with the family, hit the golfing range with friends, go for a swim or if it snows build a snowman.

Happy partying!

 

Contact Leigh Carter Personal Training Kelowna today for your free consultation

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