Fitness & Wellness

Commit To Drinking More Water This Year

Commit To Drinking More Water This Year

It’s never too late to start a new good habit or to make a resolution. If you find that you seldom drink water, maybe it’s time to include more water in your future. Severe dehydration has dire effects, but even mild dehydration can take its toll. Your energy level drops, you might get a headache or even search through your refrigerator for something to eat, since the body often mistakes thirst for hunger.

Instead of getting ibuprofen for achy joints, drink a glass of water sans the pill.

If your joints are aching, it might come from dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, it can cause inflammation which settles in the joints. Dehydration also causes other problems that can create that ache, like low lubrication. When you have adequate hydration, your body functions at its best. It has the appropriate blood volume and good circulation that sends oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, including the joints. To avoid aching joints, stay hydrated throughout the day by sipping on water frequently.

Drinking more water can help you lose weight.

The extra energy water provides can help you move more and burn more calories. The water also fills you up without adding extra calories. Ironically, drinking more water can help you lose water weight. Your body retains water when your sodium level is higher. When you drink more water, you help flush your system, lowering that sodium level. When the sodium level is lowered, your body ceases retaining water. Drinking more water can also boost your metabolism by up to 30%. One study showed that consuming two liters of water a day caused an extra 96 calories to be burned.

Keep your teeth white and your brain and digestive system functioning properly.

You need ample water to create saliva and moisten the eyes, mouth and nose. That saliva not only helps remineralize teeth and clean them, but it also prevents tooth decay and gum disease. Flush your mouth with water after you eat acidic foods or sweets, instead of brushing immediately. The acid in the food softens the teeth, making it easier for the toothbrush to cause abrasion. The water also helps keep your breath fresh.

  • You can lose focus and concentration if you aren’t adequately hydrated. Water not only cushions the brain, but it also helps create neurotransmitters and hormones. It’s necessary for brain functioning.
  • To increase your water intake, have bottles of water ready in the refrigerator. You’ll be more likely to drink it when it’s cold and easy to access. If you don’t like plain water, try infused water.
  • Dehydration can cause either high blood pressure or low blood pressure, depending on the individual. It causes lower blood volume, which makes the heart work harder.
  • Instead of grabbing a soft drink, drink a glass of water. It saves calories. Teach your children healthy habits by giving them water instead of juice or soft drinks.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness


How Do You Lose Weight During Menopause?

How Do You Lose Weight During Menopause?

You might feel like it’s an impossible task to lose weight when you’re going through menopause, but it’s not. Even if you’re doing everything right, it’s still a bit harder than it was when you were in your twenties. During menopause, sex hormones are out of balance and HGH is lower. Muscle mass is also dwindling, making weight loss even more difficult. The hormonal changes can also affect how weight is distributed.

Start simple.

A few things can help that take very little effort. Eating more fiber is one of those. Fiber fills you up and helps you eliminate it easier. Drinking more water is another important part of weight loss, like fiber, it can fill you up so you eat less. Your body also dehydrates faster, so you’ll rehydrate, boosting your energy, while making your skin more youthful. Getting adequate sleep is important. When you don’t get enough sleep, it interferes with the balance of the hunger/satiety hormones, while reducing the potential for insulin resistance.

Choose a low carb or keto diet to help maintain blood glucose levels and reduce insulin resistance.

Choose foods higher in protein, which also helps keep you feeling full, while aiding in building muscle mass. If you’re still having problems with weight loss, give up all foods with added sugar or restrict consumption or try intermittent fasting, where you reduce the window where you consume food. You start by eating later, say starting at 11:00 a.m. and don’t eat after 7:00 p.m., narrowing your food intake to an eight hour window.

Exercise, exercise, exercise!

Your body needs all types of exercise. You need flexibility training, endurance, balance and strength training. Strength training is particularly important for preventing bone loss. The more muscles you have, the more they tug at the bone and the more calcium the bone uptakes to maintain strength. HIIT—high intensity interval training—is also exceptional for weight loss.

  • Try yoga and meditation. The simple stretching of yoga can also build strength. The breathing exercises and meditation can help reduce stress, which can cause weight gain by increasing insulin resistance.
  • Cut out the alcohol and switch to water. Alcohol is notorious for weight gain. It’s digested first and eliminated from the body, leaving the other calories to go to fat. Get rid of processed snack foods and opt for fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch out foods that are inflammatory, such as highly processed foods or foods with added sugar. Inflammation can lead to oxidative stress, insulin resistance and weight gain.
  • Find active pastimes you enjoy and do them. Getting exercise isn’t all done at the gym. Just walking more can be a big benefit to your body. Find ways to add steps to your days.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness


How To Meal Prep Healthy School Lunches

How To Meal Prep Healthy School Lunches

Not all school lunches in Alexandria, VA, are healthy, which is why many people include them in their meal prep plans. By making the lunches at home, you can ensure that your child will at least be given a healthy option, even if he or she doesn’t eat everything. You can boost the potential by creating healthy options for kids that taste delicious and are fun. You also can make ones the whole family will love.

Planning the meals is a step toward success.

If you preplan all the meals, you’ll be using food more effectively with little or no waste. Leftover chicken can be a chicken salad or a salad in a jar. Did your child love the meal? You can use leftovers for school. Make roll-ups for a unique option. Use the protein source, such as chicken, turkey or beef roast and if dice it fine. Mix with some chives and cream cheese and spread on whole wheat bread that had the crusts removed. Put a midget or baby gherkin at one end and roll the bread around it, making a log. Put in toothpicks about an inch apart and slice the log for pinwheels. It’s a fun meal and you can vary the recipe to suit your child’s taste.

Always include a container of fresh fruit with nuts, cheese or peanut butter.

Keep it simple and let them assemble a healthy lunch. It makes it more fun. Include the utensils for spreading peanut butter or cream cheese on sliced fresh fruit or veggies. A plastic spoon works well. If you want to assemble something fun for a treat, make ants on a log. Fill the center of a piece of celery with peanut butter and top with a line of raisins, to look like ants crossing a log.

For older children, assembling tacos is a treat.

Include all the fixings and several soft taco shells. Include leftover taco seasoned meat in one container, chopped lettuce, tomatoes and onions or other taco fixings mixed in others. Include a spoon and it’s ready to assemble. You can make healthy muffins that contain all the nutrients of a meal, which include veggies. A hard-boiled egg, hummus dip, fresh fruit and veggies can all be the basis to build a meal. You can even include salsa and chips for scooping.

  • To keep fresh cut fruit like pears and apples fresh, toss in a 1:1 mixture of lemon juice and water. Then store them in an airtight container. Topping sliced avocados with lemon juice can also prevent it from browning.
  • You can make sandwiches ahead, but always seal in the freshness of the bread, so it doesn’t get soggy. Use a fatty spread like butter or mayonnaise. Toast the bread lightly before assembly, add the spread and assemble,
  • If your sandwich tends to be wetter, with ingredients like saucy condiments or tomatoes, store it in parchment paper wrapped deli-style to prevent it from getting soggy. If it’s a drier sandwich, make it ahead and store it in a plastic bag to prevent drying out.
  • Make lunches fun. Include pita pockets and containers of ingredients to stuff them. Flat bread roll up sandwiches are also more fun. You’ll be amazed at how your kids will eat a salad with chicken bits when it’s stuffed in a pita pocket.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness


Will I Lose Weight As A Vegetarian?

Will I Lose Weight As A Vegetarian?

People choose to become a vegetarian for a number of reasons. I always tell people at Team Worx Fitness in Alexandria, VA, that the best way to lose weight is to eat healthy and don’t make any specific recommendations on diet. However, when asked if you can lose weight on a vegetarian diet, the answer is simple. Absolutely! That is as long as you aren’t supplementing that diet with vegetarian options of junk food and food with added sugar. It’s a bit harder to balance a vegetarian diet, but if you do, and stick with healthy principals, it might even be easier.

Is a vegetarian diet the same as a vegan diet?

Those words are often mixed, and they don’t mean the same things. Vegans don’t consume ANY animal products, including eggs or dairy. Many don’t even use products containing anything from animals, like wearing leather shoes. A vegetarian diet is a lot easier to stick with and balance, since it has both plant and animal protein. Eggs are a great source of protein. Vegetarians simply refrain from eating the flesh of animals, not all animal products.

It’s all about making healthier choices when you select food.

If you’re eating a vegetarian diet and it includes pastries and candy that’s not healthy. Sure, it doesn’t have animal meat, but it has added sugar, which comes from a plant. Too often, I’ve seen meat substitutes that are far less healthy than the original. Take Impossible Burgers for instance. They’re higher in sodium than the real thing, and they still come on a bun, with condiments galore. Choose wisely and don’t be fooled by imitation products that substitute for meat. They might not be as healthy as you think and far more fattening.

It may be easier to lose weight as a vegetarian.

Red meat has lots of calories compared to a boiled egg. Filling up on salad can actually reduce your calorie intake. Be aware that it’s not about the label you choose to call yourself, it’s about the food you eat and the calorie and health benefits or hazards it contains. Sugar comes from plants but is toxic to the system and can cause you to gain weight. Studies show vegetarians and vegans actually tend to be leaner, but it’s a generalization that depends on the food you eat within that category.

  • Nuts are a source of protein often consumed by vegetarians. However, if you opt for nuts with a thick coating of sugar, they cease being healthy and definitely won’t help you lose weight.
  • One way that vegetarianism can help with weight loss is that it increases fiber in your diet, as long as you opt for unprocessed vegetables and fruit. They help you feel full longer, so you eat less.
  • Some vegetarian options, like avocados and nuts that contain healthy fat or protein options like beans, also keep you feeling full longer. They also contain fiber that slows the release of glucose in your blood stream to aid in preventing insulin resistance.
  • No matter what your choice of diet, including vegan and vegetarian, losing weight is all about making the smartest possible choices and eating healthy.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness


Healthy Sugar Alternatives

Healthy Sugar Alternatives

People want to be healthy, and often cut out foods with added sugar, but instead choose those with honey or maple syrup, which is healthier, but still sugar. There are some alternative sugar alternatives that don’t have the same effect, but may have other complications, like explosive diarrhea and gas. Still, there are times when the desire for something sweet that isn’t fruit can become important and for those times, a healthy replacement for sugar may help.

Tagatose is a new sugar substitute that may actually help diabetics.

Tagatose or D-tagatose is made from lactose, milk sugar, but it normally doesn’t affect those who are lactose intolerant. A very small minority reported gassiness and bloating. It has some health benefits, too. It has a low glycemic index is very low in net carbohydrates. In fact, it has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in people, even if they have type 2 diabetes. One trial study showed after six months of low doses, it helped reduce insulin resistance. It’s also been shown to be a prebiotic and increase short-chain fatty acid production that reduces inflammation in the gut. It may increase uric acid or lower blood sugar too much if you’re on medication for diabetes, so if you have a history of gout, kidney stones or are taking medication, discuss it with your health care professional.

Use fruit to sweeten your food.

Instead of just eating fruit, you can use it in cooking to sweeten other dishes. Figs and date paste are often used as sweeteners. Ripe bananas can add sweetness especially when mixed with yogurt. You add no extra sweetener but get the sweet taste you’d have from added sugar. Applesauce has always been a substitute for sugar and fat, but you still have to use some sugar. It can replace half the sugar or fat in baked goods. If you want a sweet cold treat on a hot summer day, freeze fruit chunks then blend it for a sorbet without any added sugar.

Monk fruit came from Southeast Asia and has been used in Chinese medicine, but now is a sugar substitute.

Monk fruit, like many alternatives to sugar, is far sweeter. In fact, it’s between 100 and 250 times sweeter than sugar, which means a little goes a long way. It’s made from the flesh of the monk fruit and has both fructose and glucose, but that isn’t what makes it sweet. It’s the antioxidant mogrosides V that it contains. It has health benefits, like immune system, digestive tract and respiratory tract support. Manufacturers often combine it with other types of sugar, so beware when you buy it that it doesn’t contain other sugar, like corn syrup or sugar alcohol.

  • Stevia, from the leaf of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, not only is an alternative sweetener that’s beneficial for diabetics, it may lower blood pressure, but only if it’s high. However, it can upset your digestive system.
  • Chicory root can also be turned into a sugar substitute that also has vitamins and minerals. It isn’t no or low calorie. Just like monk fruit, you have to be careful, since it’s sometimes mixed with other sweeteners.
  • Many companies use sugar alcohols as substitutes for sweeteners. Xylitol is one and it may actually help improve bone density and prevent cavities. One drawback are digestive issues and gassiness it causes.
  • The diet potato or yacon plant tastes like a pear but got its nickname because it looks like a potato. It is a sugar substitute that may aid in weight loss and help prevent constipation. Tea made from the leaves have anti-diabetic properties.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness


Foods That Make You Feel Good

Foods That Make You Feel Good

When someone mentions foods that make you feel good, you might automatically think of those comfort foods, like a pint of ice cream, mashed potatoes and gravy or double chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. That’s not the type of food that really changes your body to help lift your spirits, but the type of food associated mentally with feeling better. There are actual foods that can help improve your mood in the long run. In fact, if your comfort food is a sweet, it’s probably prolonging your misery, since sugary processed food causes fluctuations in your blood sugar level, with lows leaving you sad and miserable.

Look for foods high in vitamin B6, tryptophan and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Nuts are a great food for lifting your spirits, particularly cashews, Brazil nuts and peanuts. Flaxseed also joins that group. The vitamin tryptophan in cashews converts to serotonin, which helps stabilize your mood and makes you feel happier and more relaxed, and the vitamin B6 helps with that conversion. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps make you less angry and happier. A study focused on changing the diet at a prison with a higher amount of violence and found it reduced the incidences dramatically.

Boost your brain power, fight cancer and improve your mood with berries.

Berries, particularly blueberries, have loads of phytochemicals that fight free radicals that come from our environment. Anthocyanin that makes blueberries blue, is one of the flavonoids that provide brain protection and also helps you feel good. One study compared the effects of drinking a placebo, to drinking a drink made of wild blueberries. The wild blueberry drink improved the mood for people, no matter what their age. Other fresh berries, particularly those that are deep red or purple, also have a similar effect. The same is true for vegetables that are deep red or purple.

Eating your greens helps you body and your mood.

If you have a bowl of leafy greens, you’ve got a bowl of fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6 and folate. As noted previously the B6 helps convert tryptophan to serotonin, increasing the amount the body gets. Serotonin is similar to antidepressants, so the more you have in your body, the lower the risk for depression. You’ll also find B6 in carrots, green peas, sweet potatoes and legumes. The folate (not folic acid, which people often confuse it with) in leafy greens also helps regulate the serotonin and magnesium has been used to treat depression for years.

  • If chocolate was on your feel good list, you may be on the right track, but it has to be dark chocolate with a high amount of cacao, very little if any milk or sugar. It’s the polyphenols in cacao that make it good for your mood.
  • You need foods high in vitamin C to produce neurotransmitters that are necessary to make hormones like dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin, which make you feel good. Red bell peppers and citrus fruits and good sources.
  • Many Americans have a deficiency of magnesium, which can cause depression. Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds each day can help replenish the magnesium.
  • Increasing blood circulation can occur when blood vessels dilate. That can improve your mood. A cup and a half cups of coffee each day can help do that. The caffeine also increases the production of dopamine.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx


Is Cheese Sabotaging My Weight Loss?

Is Cheese Sabotaging My Weight Loss?

Many clients at Team Worx Fitness in Alexandria, VA, have come to me confused. They’ve eaten dairy all their life, including cheese, thinking it was a healthy option and one good for weight loss, only to find they might be mistaken. One reason for the confusion is the variety of cheese you use and the amount. Too often people don’t consider serving size, but instead, slice the cheese thick and eat several servings at once.

There are healthier cheeses and unhealthy ones.

Read the label. If it says cheese food, prepared cheese or processed cheese, it’s not real cheese. For instance, in 2016, manufacturers of Parmesan cheese had to remove their cheese from the grocery shelves because the FDA noted that many of them were nothing more than grated cheddar and cellulose—which is made from wood pulp and used as an anti-clumping agent. Highly processed cheese food, disguised as cheese, can destroy your diet and health, particularly cheese food like nacho cheese. Unless the label reads pasteurized processed cheese, it’s not 100% cheese. If instead reads pasteurized processed cheese product or cheese food, it’s only 51% cheese.

The fat in cheese can fill you up, but too much of it can fill you out, too.

If you’re shopping for the best cheese for a diet, don’t immediately head for the low fat, no fat option. In fact, that might even make you gain weight. Like yogurt that’s had the fat removed, when they remove the fat from cheese, they add other things to improve the flavor. Your body also needs fat to burn fat, so it’s important to have healthy fat in your diet. Cheese also is high in protein, which is also filling. One study in Australia found that people who increased the amount of dairy eaten, which included cheese, also lost more weight than the control group who didn’t increase it.

Not all cheese is the same.

Some types of cheese are healthier and better for weight loss. You might not immediately think of cottage cheese when you think of cheese, but it’s a good source of protein and good for dieting. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is a healthy cheese that’s also good for diets. Feta cheese is another good option and naturally low in fat, but high in protein. Goat cheese, gouda, blue cheese and cheddar are also good.

  • No matter what type of cheese you choose, be aware of portion size. One ounce of hard cheese is the size of a pair of dice. A half cup of cottage cheese or ¼ C feta contains almost the same calories but is more filling.
  • One of the biggest problems with cheese is often how it served, like on top of a pizza or burger. It’s more the burger and pizza that are blocking your weight loss efforts.
  • Cheese offers many health benefits. It’s a good source of amino acids, Vitamins B2, B12, D and A, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s even better if it’s from grass-fed cows, since that cheese contains nutrients that boost your metabolism.
  • You can actually use cheese to lose weight by using it as a replacement for higher calorie options. For instance, replacing mayo with cream cheese or substituting cottage cheese for whipped cream with fruit.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx


What You Don't Know About OTC Vitamins

What You Don’t Know About OTC Vitamins

I encourage people to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise. Some clients at Team Worx Fitness in Alexandria, VA, have asked me if OTC vitamins—over the counter vitamins—offer benefits. It’s easy to understand how you might think they help, since Americans purchase over millions of dollars worth each year, and even more if you include other types of supplements. Is it really healthy or is it just good advertising that drives those sales?

Supplements may not offer the benefits you hoped.

There are three studies recently completed at John Hopkins that looked into whether supplements were beneficial or not. They were all large, with the biggest study following 450,000 people. That large study showed OTC multivitamins didn’t reduce the risk for cancer or heart disease. The same was true of one of the smaller, yet significant studies. The last smaller study, which had only 5947 subjects, looked at multivitamins use and the potential for reducing mental decline. The study followed these people for 12 years and found they didn’t have any effect.

OTC products may not be bioavailable.

No matter how dedicated you are to taking your vitamins, your body may not get the benefits. That’s because it can’t absorb the nutrients it offers. Even if it’s a pure form of the vitamin, your body may not be able to use it because it’s not bioavailable. Lots of things determine bioavailability. How quickly the vitamin breaks down is one. If it breaks down too easily, it doesn’t have a long shelf life, but if it has a longer shelf life, you may find it in your toilet amidst the corn and peanuts that also don’t digest. Some drugs taken with vitamins limit their availability and some forms of the vitamin do too.

Taking too much of anything is not necessarily a good thing.

If you’re taking high doses of a vitamin, it can be toxic. While it may not kill you, if you take more vitamin C than you need, you’ll end up with diarrhea and urine rich in vitamin C. The real dangers come with fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin E, D or A. High amounts of vitamin E increase the risk of stroke. People who smoke and take high amounts of vitamin A or beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer.

  • Taking calcium supplements, particularly if you’re a senior, may actually be dangerous. It can cause calcium to build up in artery walls. You’re better off doing weight bearing exercises to help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Taking multivitamins and thinking you’ve got your basis covered is just as dangerous. You need many of the phytonutrients to work in synergy for more effective benefits or even any benefits at all.
  • Not all forms of the vitamin are bioavailability, meaning it doesn’t allow your system to use it. Many of the vitamin forms used in multivitamins are less expensive, but also less effective and harder to break down.
  • Some vitamins may be important. For instance, vitamin D is extremely important, but many people have a deficiency, since they get little sun and it’s hard to get in food. Always ask your health care professional before you start taking any supplements.
  • For more information, contact us today at Team Worx

Will Working Out Help My Depression?

Will Working Out Help My Depression?

Whether you’ve lost a job, a loved one or had any other rough spot in the road, depression is natural. In most cases, it’s short-lived or relatively mild. For those cases of depression, working out can help. However, for severe depression that keeps you in bed, not willing to continue, you need professional help. Even if you’re getting professional help, exercising may provide an adjunct therapy and is often used instead of medication by counselors.

Stress hormones can create stress and stress can create depression.

When you’re under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered. However, it was meant to handle the stress that occurs when a wild animal or warring tribe is the threat. It wasn’t meant for the stress that comes from a job loss. Fight or flight prepares your body to run or fight, neither of which are suitable in most cases. When you don’t burn off the hormones of stress that prepare the body, it can lead to anxiety and depression. Exercise helps you do that and even triggers the production of hormones that make you feel good. It increases the potential for neurogenesis, which is part of the process for creating new brain cells. That can help prevent mental decline.

Strength training can help build the body and also help relieve the brain.

Several studies show that using strength training can provide benefits to reduce depression. One study was of stroke survivors, who often suffer from depression. When the group studied did strength training for ten weeks, they had a significant improvement in the signs of depression. Scientists hypothesized that some of it was attributed to the feeling of control gained through strength training. The also added that getting more control improved their mood, while minimizing anxiety.

You’ll improve your circulation.

Aerobic exercise, especially when it’s vigorous, gets your blood circulating. Studies show that vigorous aerobic workouts are probably the best for fighting depression. It may not even have to be that vigorous, but requires constant movement, like a long walk. The more intense the aerobic exercise, the more endorphins and other happy hormones are released. Those hormones act like natural morphine to deal with pain, but they also give you a sense of well-being that can lift your spirits and minimize depression.

  • Less strenuous movements, like the slow movements of tai chi or yoga, not only improve your flexibility, they also can reduce depression according to many studies.
  • If you find yourself depressed, but aren’t ready for a formal workout, take a walk or turn on happy music and dance. If the song is happy and motivational, the combination of movement and lyrics can provide relief.
  • One of the biggest problems that occur with depression, is that you don’t feel like doing anything, especially exercise. If that’s the case, force yourself to go for a walk and increase your walking speed and distance bit by bit.
  • Severe depression is a serious problem. Don’t delay getting the help of a professional. You can add exercise to your program even if you’re working with a professional. If you have a bad day, you can always exercise a little extra or get out your walking, dancing or running shoes and start moving.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx