Fiber – it does more than help you p**p!

Dietary fiber is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber can provide other health benefits as well, such as helping to maintain a healthy weight, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Dietary fiber includes the parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike the other components of foods, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.

Fiber is usually classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.

  • Soluble fiber – This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
  • Insoluble fiber – This type of fiber helps food move through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, basically it helps you poop. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Benefits of a high fiber diet:

  • Normalizes and helps maintain bowel health – A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels- Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels –  Soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels in diabetics. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight – High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. And high-fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.

It’s always best to get nutrients and dietary needs from whole foods.  Some people may benefits from supplements if they are constipated, however these supplements do not have any dietary nutrients.  Fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, whole grains and nuts/seeds are all good sources of fiber.

While high fiber foods are healthy, it is best to increase fiber intake gradually to avoid bloating, cramping and gas.  Don’t forget to drink up, fiber works best when it absorbs water.

Vishudda – the fifth chakra

The fifth chakra is called Vishudda or “Throat Chaka”.  This chakra is one of three spiritual chakras, when balanced it allows us to speak, listen and express ourselves on higher level.  The physical areas controlled by this chakra include the jaw, neck, mouth, tongue, thyroid and parathyroid.

A balanced Vishudda allows us to express our authentic selves.  It can be difficult to really express your truth, we fear judgment, upsetting or not being accepted by others.  Our chakras work together, so balancing the lower chakras will help open your throat chakra and make you feel more comfortable expressing yourself.  Balancing the first and second chakras will help our feel more grounded and overcome fear.  Our third chakra helps us to become more confident and powerful.  Our forth chakra allows us to feel what is in our heart.  When all of these chakras are aligned, it is then that our balanced Vishudda allows us to verbalize our needs, desires and opinions.

Yoga poses that help balance our throat chakra are poses that open or strengthen the front or back of the neck.  Try the poses below to help balance and open this chakra.

Plow pose – weight is on the shoulders, not the neck in this pose.

Fish pose – the weight it on the forearms, head is hovering above the ground, no weight on the head.

Cobra pose – be mindful of your low back in this pose, modify with “baby cobra” if necessary.

Baby cobra

Camel pose – this can be an intense back bend, it is a great throat and chest opener – one of my favs!  This pose can be modified by placing the hands on blocks or the low back instead of bringing them to the heels.

Loosen up – those tight hamstrings can be a pain – literally!

Tight hamstrings are, unfortunately, a common problem.  When these large muscles are strained or tight it can lead to pain or injuries in other parts of the body such as the low back, hips and knees.

Tight hamstrings can be caused by foot wear, specifically high heels, running, tightness in the hip flexors, pelvic tilt or can just be from the way we’re built.

Stretching these muscles correctly can help avoid pain and injuries to other areas.  Try the poses below to help lengthen and stretch the hamstrings.  Remember poses should never be painful, but you want to push your edge.  It is also important not to lock your knees while practicing these poses, maintain a soft microbend.

Forward fold

If your hands reach the floor, simply rest them in front of the feet.   If your hands do not reach the floor, grab the opposite elbow and allow the upper body to hang.  Be sure to fold at the hips and not the waist.

Triangle pose

If you cannot touch the floor without bending the knee, Place a block on the floor and rest the hand on the block to modify.

Seated forward fold

This pose can also be modified by using a strap.  Loop the strap around both feet and pull yourself down until you feel a moderate stretch down the backs of the legs.

Reclining hand to big toe

Again, this pose can be modified by using a strap.  Loop a strap around one foot, extend the leg up, knee bent to start, then straighten the leg gently until you feel a moderate stretch down the back of the leg.

As always, listen to your body.  If you are experiencing any pain consult your physician.

 

Talk is cheap!

Most of us have done it, talked about the day we will start our “diet” and made excuses as to why we couldn’t stick to it.  Well, diets have a beginning and an end, this is why they typically do not work.  Eating healthfully needs to be a lifestyle, not something you do until you lose 10 lbs and then go back to how you ate before.

I’ve developed a lifestyle program to help individuals stop talking the talk and start walking the walk.  My 8 week “Walk the Walk” program is a program in which individuals make small, reasonable changes that have a big impact on their health and well-being.

Individuals receive personalized dietary goals each week as well as have access to a private group Facebook page where they can find relevant articles, information, recipes and motivation, all of which are designed to help them reach their personal goals.

Whether you’re looking to live a healthier lifestlye, sleep better, have more energy or lose weight, my program can help!

Check out the pics below of two participants who both lost 20+ lbs with my program.  Follow my link to read more information on the program and how it works, then email me to reserve your spot for the next session which begins May 1st – let’s do it!

http://www.staybalancedyoga.com/walk-the-walk.html

It’s Hot, Be Smart!

For those who prefer to walk, run or bicycle outside, January is brutal!  We find ourselves longing for the warm summer days when we don’t have to put on layers, hats and gloves before our morning workouts.  Not to mention it’s easier to get out of bed when you’re not going out into 27 degrees and trying to avoid icy patches on the roads and sidewalks- brrrrr!  January comes and goes, we have approximately 2 weeks of gorgeous, perfect weather and then BAM,  it’s June, and temperatures have been 95+ for more than a week!.

Since most of us can’t just pick up and move to San Diego to enjoy the perfect weather, let’s talk about the dangers of exercising in extreme heat and how to safely exercise outside.

Under normal circumstances our bodies are warmer than the environment, when this changes, we begin to sweat.  Sweating cools the body, but can also cause dehydration as we’re losing fluids.  As long as you stay hydrated, the body can cool itself, it’s when you become dehydrated that you become susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  When the body can no longer cool itself it begins holding the heat inside, causing the core temperature to rise, which can effect internal organs and the central nervous system.

Heat exhaustion can cause fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness and muscle cramps.  When a person’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees, they experience respiratory distress, the inability to sweat or loss of consciousness, they’re usually experiencing a heat stroke, which can lead to death.

While exercising in the heat can be dangerous, there are some steps you an take to exercise outside safely.

  • Stay hydrated – most doctors agree, this is the most important factor to exercising in warmer temperatures.  To maintain good hydration for a summer workout, doctors recommend drinking 20 ounces of water two hours before exercise, at least 8 ounces of water shortly before getting out in the heat, after you get started try to take a big drink every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.  If your urine is darker than normal or you don’t urinate for periods of 4-6 hours, you’re most likely dehydrated.
  • Dress appropriately – lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat are best when exercising in warmer temperatures. Clothes should also be light in color in order to reflect the sun.  Sunscreen should ALWAYS be worn, in addition to a breathable hat.  If you wear a helmet, try to remove it when taking breaks to let your head cool and breathe.
  • Time and place – try to exercise before 7am or after 6pm, preferably before sunrise or after sunset.  Chose a route that provides shade and has places to pull over and rest.  Avoid routes that are isolated and make sure you have cell service in case you need help.
  • Consult with your physician or pharmacist – there are medications and supplements that can cause dehydration, combining these with excessive sweating will cause an individual to dehydrate rapidly.  Examples include, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Listen to your body – your body will tell you when you’re putting it in danger.  If you notice signs of heat exhaustion, stop exercising immediately, hydrate in the shade and call for help if necessary.

Following these steps can help make outdoor exercise safer in the heat, but know when to say when.  When temperatures exceed 90 degrees, consider taking your workout inside.  We exercise to stay healthy, don’t negate it by risking heat related illness.

Twisted

I always look forward to twisting poses during my practice, I try to incorporate them at the beginning and the end of most sessions.  When I started practicing I fell in love with them, they just “felt good”, little did I know, they have several benefits as well.  Win Win!

Let’s outline some of the benefits and look at some examples of these wonderful poses.

  • Improved flexibility – Yoga twists increase the flexibility of your oblique (muscles around the waist), your abdominal and your back muscles. Many people find themselves sitting, A LOT!  We sit at work as well as live more sedentary lives than our ancestors, this can leave these muscles short and tight which can lead to lower back pain and poor posture. The longer you hold the pose, the more you will improve your flexibility. Try to twist a little more each time you perform your yoga poses, this will help increase your flexibility.
  • Spinal Mobility – Age and inactivity can reduce the range of movement in your joints. Spending long periods seated at a desk or in a car can have negative effects on spinal mobility which can lead to back pain. Twisting poses can help to mobilize the joints of your spine by gently rotating each vertebrae. Try to perform yoga twists in a slow but rhythmic fashion, rotating from side to side.
  • Improve Internal Health – It is believed twisting poses squeeze the internal organs and encourage the flow of oxygenated blood while eliminating toxins and metabolic waste products. The liver, kidneys, stomach, pancreas and spleen are all believed to benefit from twisting poses. Twisting poses can also help reduce abdominal bloating and digestive discomfort. Performing at least one twisting yoga pose a day can improve the health of your internal organs.
  • Help eliminate stress – Twists can help you alleviate tension from deep within your body. Physical tension can show itself as emotional stress. Yoga twists help the muscles of the chest, back and shoulders relax, when combined with slow, nasal breathing, this can help stress to leave the body. These poses are also invigorating and restorative, which can help elevate your energy levels.

Try some of the poses listed below to promote spinal health and to experience the benefits discussed above.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Revolved Head to Knee Pose

Revolved Triangle Pose

Vacation and Maintaining a Good Diet – Totally Doable!

We just returned from a five day trip to the Wisconsin Dells.  Some people like to take a vacation from everything, including their good eating habits.  I like to relax and have fun, but still keep my eating in check – it helps avoid bloating, weight gain, upset gut and guilt.

Our party consisted of three adults and two eight year old girls.  We chose a room with a full kitchen which made eating well much easier and cheaper!

After traveling in the van for 7 hours, we decided to grab dinner at a restaurant, the total cost of the meal was $170.00 – this included 2 beers and 4 drinks.  The next morning we hit the grocery store and stocked our kitchen.  We spent a total of $180.00 on food, this covered 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners as well as snacks and drinks.

We stocked up on meats, veggies and salads for breakfasts and dinner, a lot of fruit for snacks, fresh lunch meats for sandwiches, we also had some misc items such as nuts, popsicles, chips and M & M’s.  While we did have some sweet treats available, filling up on the good stuff really helped stay away from the sugary items.

The resort had a gym down the hall from our room, I made it a point to get up and get my workout in as soon as I woke up, this way it was already done.  I like to workout before my day begins, this helps avoid skipping it at the end of the day if I’m worn out for the day’s activities.  I did skip Friday morning, no guilt though, as I averaged over 13,000 steps a day according to my fitbit.  We made conscious choices to take the steps rather than the elevators and didn’t take short cuts.

I made it easy to make better choices by thinking ahead and preparing.  We ate 10 meals for $10.00 more than one meal at a restaurant, plus we had control over how it was cooked and what was in it.  I didn’t need to analyze every thing I put into my mouth, I ate good, fresh food 90% of the time and had room to indulge in a handful of M & M’s or another treat if I chose.  The price we paid for a suite with a kitchen was more than worth what we saved in restaurant prices and tips, plus we ate good, healthy foods!  I didn’t come home bloated or constipated and this morning I was down 1.4lbs compared to the day we left.

Simple planning can help you maintain a good, healthy diet and save a lot of money, while still relaxing and enjoying your time away!