Monthly Archives: May 2017

What if I don’t like fruits and vegetables?

It cannot be ignored that fruits and vegetables are such a vital part of our diet.  They provide us with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.  And they are so colorful and delicious!

Phytonutrients (also known as phytochemicals) are compounds produced in plants.  They are found in all edible parts of a fruit or vegetable but are often concentrated in the skin.  Each phytonutrient has “different proposed effects on and benefits for the body.”  Research suggests that there are thousands of phytonutrients!

Fruits and vegetables give us energy, keep our bodies working properly, and help us feel healthy.  They also may reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

Most people know the importance of including a variety of fruits and vegetables in our daily diets.  A rule of thumb is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal or snack.  Also, try to eat a variety of colors.  But, what do you do if you don’t like fruits or vegetables?  (a question asked by my husband!)

The nutritional value of plants is hard to replace.  Yes, there are multivitamins and daily greens pills, but our bodies prefer real, whole foods and supplements are not a replacement.  For optimal health, these foods are a necessity!

If you don’t like fruits or vegetables, here are some helpful tips:

Keep trying different types.  There is always something new to try as the variety of fruits and vegetables is endless.  You aren’t limited to apples, bananas, and carrots.  Go to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and pick out something new to you and give it a try.  Have a goal to try something new each week.

Hide them.  Remember the cookbooks “Sneaky Chef” or “Deceptively Delicious?”  You can puree fruits or vegetables and “hide” them in certain dishes.  You can blend them in soups, sauces, chili’s, or casseroles.  In the past, I’ve added shredded carrots to spaghetti sauce or shredded zucchini to lasagna.

Bake them.  Who doesn’t love a good banana or pumpkin bread?  You can bake shredded carrots, apples, or zucchini into muffins or bread.  I’ve made Green Monster Muffins that have spinach in them and are delicious!

Smoothies.  Add greens or just about any fruit to a smoothie.  In most cases, you can’t even taste the greens.

Find the right texture.  There are many ways to cook vegetables.  Grill, roast, sauté, bake, stir fry.  You can even make veggie “chips” or “fries.”  Using different cooking methods will bring out different flavors.  I love just about any vegetable roasted!

Add flavor.  There is no reason to eat bland veggies.  Add some spices, olive oil, garlic, lemon, fresh herbs, or balsamic vinegar.  Add some fruit to your cereal or yogurt.

There are endless ways to prepare fruits and vegetables and chances are you will find one that you like.  Don’t give up!  Knowing the health benefits of plants should be reason enough to find a way to get them into your daily diet.

I’ve slacked off lately, but it’s time for me to be a “sneaky chef” and include more phytonutrients in my husband’s (and kids) daily meals!

What’s your favorite fruit and vegetable?

Do you ever “sneak” plants into your family’s meals?


Strength Training Program for Kids

When my 11 year old daughter asked me to set up a strength training program for her, I wasn’t sure if she was serious.  Several weeks later, she is still asking when she can start her program!  Her goal is to become stronger so she can do an overhand volleyball serve.  She plays soccer and basketball, but volleyball is something new.  I appreciate her determination and willingness to work to achieve her goals!

I’ve talked about the importance of strength training and several myths of strength training, now let’s go over some guidelines for youth resistance training:

  • Kids should be properly supervised at all times and be in a safe environment
  • Always begin with a warm-up
  • Focus on proper technique
  • Breath properly during the movement, no breath holding
  • Vary upper and lower body movements
  • Perform up to 15 reps
  • Train 2-3 days a week (non-consecutive days)
  • Always cool down afterwards
  • Drink plenty of fluids

Strength training for kids can improve their bone density and has been shown to enhance motor skills and sports performance.  There isn’t a minimum age when kids can start training, but they should be old enough to follow directions and understand the benefits of the exercise.

Our plan is to use different forms of resistance.  Light dumbbells, resistance bands, and body weight, as it’s good to mix it up and helps with boredom.  The exercises should take 20-30 minutes.

Body weight routine:  Warm up for 5-10 minutes (jog, jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.)Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps of push ups, squats, and calf raises.  For the plank, wall sit, and supermans, hold for 20 seconds, 40 seconds, 60 seconds.  If this is too much, stick with the lower reps and holds.

Dumbbell or resistance band routine:  Warm up for 5-10 minutes.  Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps using light weights or resistant band.  (lay on the floor for chest press)

*if you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises, do a quick google search*

I have 1 lb., 5 lb. and 8 lb. dumbbells for my daughter to use.  We will start light and progress from there.  Proper form is key in preventing any injury.  Always cool down and do some stretches for each major muscle group after each workout.  Drink some water and eat a healthy snack!

Strength training for kids. Summer is a perfect time to get started! Click To Tweet

Some other fun options would be to set up an obstacle course or go to a playground or park.  Getting kids outside and moving is always encouraged!  Playing hopscotch, jumping rope, tug of war, climbing a tree, and riding a bike will strengthen muscles and bones.  It is recommended that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

With the last day of school quickly approaching, it will be a great time to get started. Creating a special workout calendar, chart, or workout log may be something fun to do and to show progress!

Do your kids play sports?

Do you think strength training is good for kids?

Hydrating for Exercise

Sixty percent of our total body weight is water.  Water carries nutrients to cells and helps maintain our body temperature through sweat.  Staying fully hydrated helps our heart and muscles work more efficiently.

With the temperatures rising and summer running approaching, I thought it would be fitting to talk about staying hydrated before, during, and after exercise.  Drinking only when you’re thirsty should not be your goal.  Thirst occurs when we have already lost 1-2 liters of fluid!   So, to stay properly hydrated, it’s important to drink fluids regularly, rather than relying on thirst.

When we lose just 2% of body weight due to dehydration, our aerobic performance suffers.  In order to perform our best and feel our best, we should be fully hydrated before, during, and after exercise!

Prior to Exercise

The majority of people begin exercise fully hydrated.  It is recommended to drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before exercise and another 8 oz. about 20 minutes before beginning.  (If the color of your urine is dark yellow, more fluids are needed).   I always have a cup of coffee before running as I’m sure many runners do!  The good news is “caffeine intake has little effect on hydration status with exercise.” 

During Exercise

The purpose of fluid intake during exercise is to prevent dehydration (decreased body fluid) and hyponatremia (low sodium level in the blood).  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Try to drink the same amount of fluid that you lose in sweat.  An easy way to determine this is to weigh yourself before and after exercise.  Everyone is different and has different sweat rates but it is advised to drink 8-16 oz. per hour.  (Compared to men, women have lower sweat rates and reduced electrolyte losses).
  • During exercise sessions lasting 90 minutes or longer or if heavy sweating occurs, fluids with sodium are recommended.  Sports drinks are very helpful in replenishing sodium loss.  Another alternative is to consume extra sodium with food before a long exercise session.
  • To minimize fatigue during exercise, consume a sports drink that contains carbohydrate.  Also, if you plan on exercising for longer than an hour, it is recommended to take in carbohydrate with your fluids.  Muscle glycogen stores are depleted with prolonged exercise.  To sustain performance levels and prevent tiredness, you should try to get 30-60 grams of carbs that are quickly absorbed for every hour of training.  Sports drinks come in handy during endurance exercise, as they can replace fluids, sodium, and glucose.  There are many different types of sports drinks and it’s best to use trial and error to figure out which brand you like and see that it doesn’t cause stomach issues.  Most races have a sports drink available during the event. If you plan to take advantage of this, then you should find out what brand is being used and practice with it during training to make sure it works for you.

Post Exercise

After exercising, your goal should be to make up for any fluid imbalance that occurred during your training.  This includes water to restore hydration, carbs to restock glycogen stores, and electrolytes to boost rehydration.  Symptoms of severe dehydration are nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.  If this occurs, you may need to have fluids replaced intravenously (put directly into a vein).

Most athletes can fully rehydrate with their usual meals, snacks, and fluids.  If you plan on training within 12 hours or less after your session, you should try to drink about 1.5 liters of fluid for each 2 pound lost.

How much should you be drinking to perform your best? Hydrating for Exercise. Click To Tweet

It’s important to note that the human body is able to tolerate substantial changes in fluid intake while exercising and at rest with little or no effects on health.  Because of this, most recreational exercisers will never experience hyponatremia or severe dehydration.  Prolonged or intense exercise in extreme heat does increase health risk.

To be safe, feel good, and perform your best, it is essential to drink water throughout the day and try to maintain body water stores.  Don’t just rely on thirst.  Make water easily available, bring a water bottle with you when your on the go, or even set a reminder on your phone.  Take charge, have a plan,  and drink up!

How do you make sure you’re drinking enough fluids?

Do you like sports drinks?  What is your favorite?