Lent Wellness Challenge

Genevieve’s Wellness Commandments for Lent 2016

February 10th-March 24th
Move Daily: It doesn’t have to be an hour in the gym, but make a point to participate in some form of exercise.
Drink half your bodyweight in water everyday
Cut out all refined carbohydrates: Pasta, bread, white rice, baked goods, waffles, pancakes, crackers, snack foods.
Say no to dairy: Try your best to cut out all dairy. If you do well on dairy, you can leave Greek yogurt and organic milks, but I challenge you to try going dairy free! No cheese.
Make vegetables the star: Focus your meals around vegetables. Adding healthy fats like avocados and lean proteins like fish and chicken.
No added sugar: Read the sugar content on all your snack bars, yogurts and other packaged foods. Keep it under 10 grams if it is natural sugar (ie:dates, dried fruit, coconut sugar). Load up on fresh fruit instead!
Have an apple a day: Eat fruit between meals to keep full.
No booze
Pick a kryptonite and say goodbye: If you have a snack food or bad habit that holds you back, say goodbye for 6 weeks. For example, if you cannot control yourself with a bag of corn chips, cut them out.
Have a treat every once in awhile: You are working hard and using a lot of willpower, so treat yourself to a small treat from time to time. Be conservative, for example, a piece of dark chocolate or a bowl of popcorn.

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Heal Your Whole Body: The 12-day Plan to Flush Toxins & Balance Hormones


Today I started a cleanse alongside many of my clients, friends and family members. The cleanse is not what you may think of when you hear “CLEANSE”. It is not about starving yourself, or overdosing on sugary juices. This is 12 days of clean eating paired with milk thistle supplements and dandelion root tea. The diet is centered around promoting healthy liver function. Our liver is what sifts all the toxins we consume in our diets and all the chemicals we breath in everyday. When our liver is working optimally, we feel more energized and hormonally balanced. This diet has been seen to decrease inflammation, bloating, headaches, help with arthritis, clear skin, improve mood and decrease sugar cravings.  This clease requires you to move. Inorder to feel your best I reccommend you exercise daily.  Your overall daily movement should increase.  You do not have to exercise vigorously.  I reccomend lots of yoga and walking.  Go outside and feel the sunshine on your face.

The cleanse involves lots of vegetables, spices, healthy fats, pre and probiotic foods, sulfur and lemon water.  To be successful you will have to cut out dairy, gluten and all processed foods.

I used the past week to prepare guidelines, sample grocery lists as well as tips to help all participants cleanse with ease! My cleanse is based off of Frances Murchison’s book “Heal Your Whole Body”. Click the below link to read an overview of the cleanse:

http://www.rodalenews.com/foods-your-liver

If you are interested in feeling better you can join my support group on Facebook. Here you can find links to a sample grocery list, a quick guide to the cleanse as well as recipes for other cleansers and myself. If all goes well with this first cleanse, I plan on repeating the same diet post holidays!

Join my Facebook group to stay updated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/874533072564308/

Hydrate with Antioxidants

My new favorite way to drink water = Ice Cold H20 + Splash of Pomegranate Juice We could all use a little extra hydration in the summer months, but sometimes tap water is…unexciting. I keep a bottle of Pom Wonderful at … Continue reading

A Video Review: Get Extremely Ripped & Chiseled with Jari Love

It has been a while since I did a workout video other than YogaDownload.  In the past month I have picked up a new weight lifting routine which includes heavier weight and lower repetitions compared to my past circuits.  Being … Continue reading

The Muscle Confusion Debate

This week I had a great conversation with a client and it led me to writing this blog post.  We were talking about the principle of Muscle Confusion.  Which States that muscles accommodate to a specific type of stress and … Continue reading

The Best Detox: Exercise

This past weekend I went to Las Vegas to “celebrate life” with my best friends.  After two full days of ongoing alcohol consumption, very little sleep and no exercise (dancing excluded) our bodies were wrecked.  Our raspy voices, under eye bags and off kilter digestive systems proved it.  Today I am feeling a little inspired by our distressed physical state and would like to share how I rid my body of toxins after vacation or in our case a bender…a juice cleanse is not the answer.

detox)Lately cleanses and detoxes are everywhere: “Drink this sugary green juice for three plus days and detoxify your body”.  Everyone who knows me has heard me rant about how pointless and counterproductive juice cleanses can be.  I have advised clients and friends against them.  But all the skinny celebrities do it and they look good, so I am ignored.  This leads them to go through with the cleanse; depriving themselves for a three to fourteen day period followed by a fat and carbohydrate binge.  In the end you are just putting more stress on your body and creating more toxins.

The thing is, your body is naturally designed to detoxify. It is in a constant state of detoxification (or ridding of waste).

  • Ever heard of poop? pee? I don’t mean to be vulgar, but your colon and kidneys do a pretty good job if you let them.
  • Our lungs serve as a  filter.  Debris and toxins are removed before delivering oxygen throughout the body.
  • The lymph system picks up any unwanted substances to filter through your lymph nodes.
  • Our skin rids our body of toxins through perspiration.

Did you know your body detoxes 8 times faster when in motion versus when sedentary? So why does exercise aid in detox?

  • You get your blood flowing, which prompts your organs to do work (liver, lymph nodes, digestive system).
  • You breath deeply and circulate oxygen to through the body, giving off carbon dioxide (a waste product).
  • You sweat, washing out waste and toxins in your perspiration.
  • You move and fire up lymph to circulate through the body.  The lymph system has no pump like the circulatory system, so to activate, you must be in motion.
  • You reduce stress, which has a toxic effect on the body.

In order to be successful in detoxifying you must be drinking plenty of water to help flush out  waste products.  So before you start your exercise, make sure your pee is clear.  When you are looking to rid the body of toxins engage in  aerobic exercise at a low to medium intensity.  This allows you to breath evenly, delivering oxygen to the body.  By getting your heart rate up, blood begins pumping through out the body, activating your detoxifying organs.  You don’t want to be gasping for air, instead you should try the talk test.  If you are able to talk comfortably while exercising, you are at the right intensity for detoxification.  Low Intensity Steady State (also known as LISS) exercise can be performed through briskly walking, running, cycling, swimming and yoga.

Do you exercise with a hang over? It’s sort of my M.O.  I usually roll and of bed, chug water until my pee is clear and get out the door on my run before the worst of it even hits.  It’s usually pretty miserable, but by the time I finish and rehydrate I am ready for my day.

So next time you wake up after a night of drinking or over eating, skip the fad cleanse.  Run long and slow, or engage in a Vinyasa flow.  Drink tons of water before and after to flush toxins.

Below is 30 minute detox flow yoga video. It will help to heat up the body and wring out toxins with twists.  The instructor Clara Roberts-Oss is one of my favorites. I hope enjoy!

For more information on exercise as detox click here.

Product Review: Smart Bar

1001555_611192732307519_882851334_nIf you don’t live in the Virginia Beach area, you have probably never heard of Smart Bars.  I only came across these hand made bars while scanning through WordPress myself.

Being a personal trainer means I am always on the go,  my dinner often consists of protein bars, green smoothies or whole fruit.  Over the years I have become very picky when it comes to the protein and snack bars I chose.    Many products marketed as healthy are filled with sugar, chemicals, and non food ingredients with a name more than 3 syllables long.   I have my “go-to” snacks, but I am always looking for something new–for myself and to recommend to clients.

When I am looking for a nutritious snack, I look  at the ingredients first.  You want to make sure you can pronounce everything on the list.  In addition I like to keep sugar under 8 g when choosing a snack or protein bar.  If the sugar is relatively low and the bar is made with all natural ingredients, you are usually in a good place.  Protein is always a plus. One sneaky nutrition fact to be looking out for is Sodium, which fills so many “health” foods.  I don’t worry about the fat content. If the bar is filled with healthful and natural ingredients like almonds and walnuts, it’s good fat and will keep me full through all my evening sessions.

Lets talk about Smart Bar now.  Smart Bar is created by Matthew May, a chef in Virginia Beach.  He makes the all natural granola bar by hand with whole food ingredients.  The round granola bar uses only 9 ingredients and contains no preservatives.  It’s also gluten free! The snack bar is advertised as “perfect for breakfast”, “perfect for lunch”, for “before or after your workout” and as an “anytime” snack.  Take a look at the label here:

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I had half of a bar this morning and it is very tasty.  You can pick out all the ingredients as you nosh.  It is a chewy vs. crunchy granola bar, like a bowl of steel cut oats without the nuisance of dishes to clean.  I had a bowl of fruit around 8 am and half a Smart Bar around 9:30 am and I was full and satisfied until 1:00 pm.  All the ingredients in this product are things I enjoy on their own (dried fruit and chocolate are my weaknesses), so it is no surprise that I enjoyed the flavors and texture of Smart Bar.

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I love the round shape, you trick yourself into thinking it is a cookie

I was a little surprised by the sugar content.  This all natural snack bar has 2 g more sugar than a snickers bar.  I would like to see honey  further down on the list of ingredients.  However, dried fruit is pretty high in sugar as well, so that could be another culprit.  I would not recommend this bar for anyone who is watching their carbohydrate intake.  On the other hand, this is a great pre workout snack for endurance athletes.  I will probably save the rest of these bars for a snack prior to a 10 miler.

1510987_619496081477184_148302298_nOverall, this is a tasty all natural snack or meal replacement.  I love that you are not ingesting any sketchy hidden preservatives.   I would recommend Smart Bars to endurance athletes (runners, cyclist and triathletes), who have the need for the 45 g of carbohydrates that his product pacts.  While the bar is very wholesome and delicious, I don’t think I could recommend it to my everyday clients who are looking to lose and maintain weight.  I would love to see a lower glycemic version of this product with less honey and maybe some more nuts.

I absolutely love the packaging.  Each bar is individually hand wrapped in wax paper.  I can tell the labels have been put on by hand.  It is refreshing receive a quality product from a small business. If you are in the Virginia Beach area I recommend making an order for pick up, just to give them a try.

If you are interested in purchasing Smart Bars you can do so here.

In addition, I want to share with you my current “Go To” Bars.  You can find them all at most grocers.  Chia Bars by Health Warrior are a little new to the mainstream grocery market but I saw them at Harris Teeter recently and I know you can get them at Whole Foods.  Chia Bars are great for in between meals.  They contain just 5 g of sugar and only 100 calories.  This is great for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight.

A good tip is to avoid anything that tastes like dessert.  If it is low sugar and tastes like a snickers, it is probably packed with unnatural, non food ingredients.

What is your “Go To” snack/meal bar? Leave a comment, I am interested!

 

 

Take Your Workout Outside

In honor of Earth Day, today I am going to give you 5 reasons to take your exercise routine outside.

After a harsh winter we are all a little low on Vitamin D.  So why not get your tan on while you are shredding those abs and sculpting those glutes? On a beautiful day I take my body weight circuit to the soccer field across the street, along with my workout buddy when she is free.  Ordinarily I would be logging miles on these beautiful spring days, but a running injury has me wising up and trading my 8 milers into burpees while I heal.   If you are #blessed enough to live by a beach, take a body weight circuit to the sand.  This past Saturday I created a 45 minute plyometric circuit to complete with two friends on the beach.  By the time we were finished our quads were screaming, we had plenty of spectators and some sand in our pants.

As seen on my runs:

I can understand a long treadmill run (and sometimes engage in them) when we have 8 inches of snow,  ice storms and unbearably low temperatures. But why in the world would you choose a stagnant treadmill over the great outdoors this spring?  Unplug the headphones from your Netflix and go gadget free outside, it will leave you feeling revitalized and probably a little more exerted! Read on:

More Dynamic Workout

  • Studies have shown that running outside expends more energy than the treadmill when covering the same distance
  • Outdoor running requires you to battle hills, wind and the change in terrain (proprioceptive gains)
  • If running is not your thing, you better bet that squat jumps and lunges require more effort in grass, sand or other surfaces less predictable than your gym floor

Vitamin D Boost

  • Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D
  • Aids in preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation
  • Strengthens your immune system

Catch Quality ZzZz

  • Natural sunlight helps set your internal clock
  • It helps with normalizing hormones and tells us when to eat and when to snooze
  • Increases overall quality of sleep

Lower Stress Hormones

  • Studies have shown that blood levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) are significantly lower after outdoor exercise versus indoor exercise
  • Study participants score higher when measuring vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self esteem after outdoor exertion when compared to it’s indoor counterpart

Decrease Boredom

  • Florescent lights and dull walls sound miserable compared to a blue sky and birds chirping
  • Inclement weather creates an interesting challenge
  • Make it social by exercising with a buddy every now and again, or better yet on a regular basis

 

“Prehab”-How to Avoid Running Injuries

Being an injured runner this spring has not been easy on my spirit but it is probably doing wonders for my body.  On the first nice (warm) day of 2014 I decided to go out on my 8 mile loop.  It was a great run followed by a not so great stretch, dinner and bed.  The next day was beautiful so I decided to repeat the same 8  mile run.  Right around mile 6 I felt a twinge in my right knee (that was new), at about mile 7 it was a shooting pain.  As someone who has never had a knee injury, I panicked.  I shunned running for the next two weeks.  I was doing mostly HIIT, plyometrics, kettlebells and some yoga here and there.  My knee pain was almost gone until my friend called me on a gorgeous Monday and asked me to join her on a run.  I had just walked my dog three miles with zero pain so I accepted her offer and headed home to meet her.  About 3 miles in the pain was back. UGH.   Frustrated and desperate I made an appointment with my physical therapist that Wednesday.

Long story short, I have damaged the surface of my meniscus.  Apparently it is not bad, but It was 100% preventable.  I was NOT practicing what I preach to all my clients: RECOVER RECOVER RECOVER.

I have made myself a human experiment and I am using every means I can to rehab my knee.  So I am icing after use and applying heat during the day.  I am not running.  I am doing plyometrics sparingly.  I am having orthotic inserts made.  I am stretching thoroughly and I am participating in PREHAB exercises.

Pre-habilitation is the proactive way to prevent running injuries.  I know how a runner’s brain works.  We want to log miles and improve; not stretch, roll and do leg lifts with the time we allocate to our workouts.  It took me a long time to learn that in order to be a better runner, I have to take care of my body. When I am injured, I feel almost depressed.  Every race posting I see on Facebook has me disgruntled.  I am beyond jealous.

So here is how you can PREHAB your body as a runner

  1. Stretch well after every run:  When your IT band, hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves and quads are tight they are more prone to injury.  Don’t limit yourself, stretch whenever you have a free chance.  You may look like a weirdo in the grocery store line but at least your hamstrings will feel good.
  2. Buy a foam roller and actually use it:  A foam roller is like a massage at home.  Myofascial release is so key in recovery.  I try and dedicate time after almost every workout.  If I don’t have time I bring a lacrosse ball to work and roll it over tight muscles. Roll while you watch TV or during your evening downtime.  If you have time to get on Facebook and Pinterest, you have time to roll.
  3. Strengthen your glutes: Your Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius are often weak in runners which can lead to injuries in other lower extremities (commonly the hamstring).  There are a number of exercises that can be performed to strengthen your Glutes.  This article from Runner’s World has some great exercises to try.
  4. Strengthen your hips: Your hips don’t lie.  They need to be strong and flexible when you are logging miles. See the video below for a 6 minute workout that activates your hips and glutes.  It requires no equipment.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lW6uFHrHbDU
  5. See a specialist:   If you have unusually high arches or flat feet you may benefit from seeing a podiatrist.  They will mold or scan your feet for orthotic inserts to place in your running shoes.  Over time high arches get higher and flat feet get flatter, so this is a great way to prevent any future muscle imbalances that could occur as compensation for your less than ideal foot physique.
  6. Attend a Clinic:  Running clinics are held all over the country to help runners fix their form and prevent injury.  I am yet to attend one myself, but It is my goal to complete one by the end of the summer! Find one near you here!
  7. Recover: Allow time for your body to heal weekly.  Plan to rest on a day that is already busy with errands.  This will give you less free time to think about your lack of exercise on that particular day.  I do gentle yoga on my off day.  Below is a short yoga recovery to try

 

What To Eat Pre-Workout

One of my clients recently asked me what and when she should been eating before our sessions to keep her from feeling exhausted and/or nauseous. So hear I am, singing the praise of carbs carbs and more carbs.  You cannot efficiently burn fat and build muscle without adequate carbohydrate intake.

One of my favorite quotes actually came from my NASM text book.  I memorized it when studying but find myself using it as a reminder in my own nutrition choices.  It goes like this: “Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame”

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Basically, maximal fat will not be utilized without enough carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates serve as our most vital source of energy for all bodily functions and muscular endurance.  This is because our bodies depend on muscle glycogen during exercise.  But enough with the scientific blabber, what you need to know is that without sufficient glycogen stores available, you may hit a wall during your workout, burn less fat and build less muscle.  As an athlete, you want to save your protein for building muscle, rather than use it for energy.

2-4 hours prior to working out, you want to consume a carbohydrate rich meal with some protein as well.  A common carbohydrate to protein ratio is 2:1 when exercising for an hour or less.  If you are an endurance athlete you can up your carbohydrates to a 3:1 ratio.  If you workout in the mornings, just get something in your system that will cause little distress on your belly and will digest easily.  Read this short article highlighting the importance of pre and post workout nutrition  from Equinox’s blog.

In order to recover and replenish those glycogen stores after a workout you need to eat at minimum a small snack within 30 minutes of completion.  If you are able to consume a full meal within 30 minutes of working out, you can do so with a carbohydrate and protein rich meal.

Now this does not mean you should eat pasta for every meal.  Sometimes we forget that fruits and vegetables are also carbohydrates.  Also stick to whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or oats.

Here is what I suggest my clients consume before a heart thumping session to avoid early exhaustion:

  • Banana or apple with nut butter ( I prefer Raw Unsalted Almond Butter)
  • Steel cut oats with half a banana, some blueberries or raisins (get creative and use what you have)
  • A hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit
  • Whole wheat crackers with hummus (I love Mary’s Gone Crackers)
  • Carrots and Hummus
  • A bowl of quinoa (Ideas here: I’m dying to try the “bagel bowl”)
  • Brown rice cake(s) with avocado (I need more than one, but I have a lot of body to fuel so keep your personal needs in mind)
  • Baked Potato with salsa and a sprinkle of black beans (so good and such a great endurance carbohydrate)
  • Baked Sweet Potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some ghee or coconut oil

Post Workout I usually grab a banana and a handful of nuts or make a protein shake if it is not meal time. If I am running around I also really like Zone’s Perfectly Simple line.  You can find them at most large grocers and target too. They are not as pricey as some other brands on the market, and they are gluten free!

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GF oatmeal with blueberries, half a banana and half a handful of almonds

Most days I time my workouts to come before a balanced meal.  If it’s breakfast time, try an egg and vegetable hash or a bowl of breakfast quinoa with Greek yogurt (which when combined is a complete protein). If you want some egg and vegetable ideas, check out my blog post Green Lunches.  When it’s dinner time, have nutrient dense veggies, whole grains and proteins.  I am not a big meat eater, so I combine foods to create whole proteins and incorporate eggs into meals.  For example, rice and beans when combined create a whole protein and provide you with adequate carbohydrate replenishment!  Above is my post workout breakfast from this morning, this is also a great pre-workout meal, especially for those long runs during spring training.

Just keep in mind I am not a nutritionist and everyone has slightly different needs depending on their body, exercise habits and dietary restrictions.