Fitness & Wellness

Sugar-Free Snacks Kids Love

I love the holidays and it’s that time of year to start planning for them. I have a lot of clients at The Worx in Alexandria, VA, that want ideas for healthy meals and sugar free snacks kids love. Of course, they also want ones they’ll enjoy eating, too. Let’s face it, even if you made a spaceship out of Brussels sprouts, that wouldn’t encourage kids to eat them. Children have a more vivid sense of smell and taste than adults do, so many of the foods we love, they hate. Here are some ideas that will be healthy options for both kids and adults.

How about turning a veggie tray into a scary scene?

While some kids automatically love veggies, not all kids do. You have to entice them. Get creative with the food and even let them help. For Halloween, you can make spider deviled eggs. Make the deviled egg, placing half a black olive on top for the body and cutting eight slices from the other half for the legs. You can also make eyeballs by cutting cheese and topping with half an olive cut lengthwise to eat plain or put on top of a healthy dish.

Make the turkey the center of attention with creative snacks that are healthy.

A half a pear can be the turkey’s body with edible candy eyeballs and two thin slices of cheese for feet. Create the tail out of other sliced fruits for a colorful display. If you want a veggie turkey, make a healthy dip and top it with the bottom of a three lobed orange pepper. Put two lobes on the bottom for the cheeks and one lobe on top for edible candy eyes. Slice holes for two small yellow pepper slices for a beak and one for a red pepper waddle. Fan out cut veggies for the tail. Healthy pumpkin oat cookies and cinnamon apple chips are easy to do. Coat apples with cinnamon or a cinnamon/sugar mixture and dry in the oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours.

Green grapes topped with a banana slice and half a strawberry make great Grinches.

You just need toothpicks, a banana, strawberries, green grapes and a mini marshmallow for the ball on the end of Grinch’s Santa hat to make a treat perfect for watching the holiday special. Frozen Greek yogurt bark is also a special holiday treat when topped with kiwi slices shaped like a Christmas tree with dried cranberry and strawberry decorations. Spread out the Greek yogurt in a pan, decorate and freeze.

Pecan pie snack bites just takes five ingredients and no baking. Use a cup of medjool dates that are pitted, ¾ cup pecans, ¼ cup rolled oats, ½ tsp cinnamon and 1 TBSP maple syrup. Then use a food processor to mix it, processing the dates first, and form into balls. Chill and store for up to a week.

  • Homemade microwave popcorn just requires a small brown paper lunch bag, some coconut oil and popcorn. You can even add toppings like Parmesan or American cheese.
  • Create your own trail mix and let the kids help. Have nuts, dried fruit and even some dark chocolate bits ready to mix together. Let the kids help with mixing and dividing into individual bags for snacks.
  • Pull open the end of string cheese to create a string cheese octopus. Lay the legs over a slice of apple for a tasty, healthy treat that will boost enjoyment and creativity.
  • Banana ice cream takes nothing more than bananas sliced into small coin shapes and frozen. When you’re ready to make the ice cream, throw it in the blender until smooth. It’s ready to eat.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Best 15 Minute Workouts

Doing something is always better than doing nothing, whether you’re talking about exercise or even getting work done. These 15 minute workouts can be valuable on those days when everything is going to pieces and you can’t stick with your workout schedule. You can still do 30 minutes of exercise by doing two 15 minute sessions. Combine these workouts with 15 minutes of walking, jumping rope while watching videos or any other type of short workout.

Get more done in less time with a HIIT workout.

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It’s not a specific workout, but a way of doing your workout that maximizes the benefits. You start at a moderate pace—also known as a recovery pace—for a few minutes and then switch to a high intensity pace for the same length of time and back to the recovery pace. Switching back and forth not only can cut your time in half, it boosts the benefits by forcing your body to accommodate. You’ll get double the benefit and can cut your workout time shorter. One study showed that doing a cycle of sprinting for 30 seconds with 60 seconds of jogging for recovery ten times, provided the same benefit of 55 minutes of steady state workouts.

Do three sets of the nitric oxide dump three to four times a day for lower blood pressure.

Dr. Zachary Bush created the nitric oxide dump that opens your blood vessels to lower your blood pressure and stimulates the production of HGH—human growth hormone. It’s four simple exercises, one following the other that include ten repetitions of deep squats, tin soldier, snow angel and military press. You can do them anywhere and taking about four minutes each time you do them.

Jog or dance in place or use chores to get fit when your schedule is tight.

Don’t bend over and pick up the laundry, do squats! Turn on the TV and dance around the room as you pick up clothing, sweep the floor or do other chores. Make sure to accent and make each movement count. You’ll be getting two things done at once. Make that walk or stair climbing into a workout by pushing yourself to go faster. Just turn on fast music and enjoy moving to it.

  • For the abs, start with a core contraction, squeezing 30 seconds, followed by 10 small squeezes. Move to a head lift on your back, then wall push-ups and squats. Focus on form as you do each exercise.
  • Push yourself to finish this group of exercises in record time, then rest a minute and repeat three more times. Warm-up for a few minutes. Do up to 20 bodyweight squats, 10 push-ups or modified ones, 10 walking lunges on each leg, 10 dumbbell rows on each arm a 20-second plank and 30 jumping jacks.
  • Here’s a workout you can do anywhere. Do up to 15 minutes of circuits. Warm up first, then do 20 bodyweight squats, 15 incline push-ups using a desk or bed, 10 one arm rows for each arm lifting a heavy object whether it’s a detergent jug or suitcase and 10 reverse crunches.
  • Get a full body workout by combining 10 of each, jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, abdominal crunches, step-ups—10 on each leg, squats, triceps dips, 15-second plank, high knees march, body lunge and a 15-second side plank. Repeat once. Don’t forget a warm-up and cool down.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Is There A Diet For Your Skin Type?

Every part of your health that can be controlled with diet and exercise is important at The Worx in Alexandria, VA. In the past, we’ve focused on weight loss, feeling good, building strength and improving your overall health. It’s time to focus on the body’s largest organ, the skin, and how the food you eat can make a difference. Just like all fitness and dietary programs are different because each person is unique, there’s no one perfect diet for everyone. Instead, you have to find a diet for your skin type.

The first step is to identify the type of skin you have.

You may use lotions and other beauty products on the skin, but beautiful skin starts from within. In fact, all the magic creams may actually prevent you from identifying your skin type. Wash your face thoroughly and don’t use any products. Instead, wait an hour or two and examine your skin. If it feels tight and has some red, flaky patches, it’s probably dry. If there’s oil that is just in some areas, like around the nose, but dry other areas, it’s a combination. If you can put a tissue on your face any place and it shows signs of oil or shiny everywhere, it’s oily. The more visible the pores, the oilier the skin.

Dry skin needs more oil and maybe more hydration.

Are you drinking enough water? If not, you may be adding to the problem of flaky, dry skin. Besides including more water in your diet, increase juicy fruits, like oranges, grapes and watermelon. You need some healthy oil in your diet, too. Add some avocado or salmon for starters. Increase your food with vitamin A and vitamin C, which can add to skin’s dryness, like red bell pepper, broccoli and spinach. It’s not all about what you eat, but also about what you shouldn’t. Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine, both can be dehydrating.

If your skin is oily, don’t immediately eliminate oils.

It’s not always oil that makes your skin oily. In fact, healthy oil can actually help it with anti-inflammatory properties. Again, avocado, salmon and flaxseed are good choices. Avoid refined carbohydrates, especially those with added sugar. Keep fried foods to a minimum or ditch them altogether. Focus on eating whole grains, rather than refined carbs and reduce the amount of red meat in your diet.

For combination skin, taking the healthiest food from both the diet recommendations for oily skin and those for dry skin is beneficial. Processed carbohydrates cause inflammation and contribute to problems with combination skin.

If you have acne prone skin, you have oily skin with inflammation and bacteria. Vitamin C is important, so oranges are great. Zinc can also help prevent acne. Consider adding shellfish, chicken and pumpkin seeds to your diet.

While reducing the amount of sugar, unhealthy fat and dairy in a diet, or eliminating it entirely can help with acne prone skin, Greek yogurt may actually help the skin. Everyone is different, so experiment a bit.

If you want more vibrant skin, increase antioxidants, like lycopene in your diet. Lycopene is found in tomatoes. Eating food rich in collagen, such as bone broth, will slow the development of wrinkles.

Moderation Over Deprivation

Dieting has become a pastime for many people, to the point they deprive themselves so much, they’re willing to go to great lengths to hide the fact they’re cheating, develop a distorted view of food and normally don’t lose the weight they hope to lose. Always choose moderation over deprivation, because moderation helps you attain long term goals. You can’t continue a life of deprivation of certain food groups and be healthy or feel whole.

Moderation is making smarter choices when it comes to what you eat.

There are no foods that are banned from your food list, just foods you eat more frequently and ones you eat occasionally. We’re all human and when you think you’ll never be able to eat something is when you want it most and it floods your mind with visions. You develop obsessions that way, not a healthy attitude toward food. When you finally do break down and have a piece of cake, you binge and instead eat the whole cake.

Permanent change comes when you choose eating habits you can stick with in the long run.

What happens when people who deprive themselves of a certain food and then fall off the wagon? Some people get right back on the wagon, but in many cases, they not only binge, they give up entirely. If you know ahead of time that you can eat smaller amounts of any type of food, you are never a failure and don’t have to verbally reprimand yourself or feel ashamed, then drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Just remember portion control at all times and focus more on eating healthy foods and a balanced diet.

Focus on whole foods.

Fresh fruits and vegetables and plant protein or lean animal protein should top your list as you focus on what you should eat, not what you shouldn’t. For those of you that find you’re addicted to sugar and can’t just cut back, try cutting out food with added sugar for a week or two. Once you clear your palate and break the sugar habit, you’ll find that fruit tastes sweeter and you’re satisfied with a parfait made from Greek yogurt, ripe banana, fresh fruit and nuts. Remember, you don’t have to give up food with added sugar forever, just long enough to break the cycle.

  • Everyone is different. For some people deprivation is the only way, but for them, they still realize that they can return to regular eating habits at some point. If that describes you, when you go back to normal eating habits, keep your focus on healthy food and don’t go back to old habits.
  • The minute food no longer plays such a prominent role in your life that it’s on your mind, whether it’s thinking about the food you can’t have or when you get to eat next, you’ll have successfully transferred to a healthier relationship with food.
  • Most people that deprive themselves often feel they’re powerless when it comes to food. That’s just not true. No food can make you binge. Once you understand that, you’ll no longer struggle to lose weight.
  • Rather than focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on what you should eat and eat plenty of it. It’s hard to eat so many vegetables that you end up gaining weight, Focus on healthy eating and you’ll find it far easier.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Pros And Cons Of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting—IF—is a way to modify the timing of when you eat. It has various pros and cons, like any type of diet or eating regimen. In order to find out if it works for you, you need learn what IF really is and what the negatives and positives are. IF can mean eating an extremely low calorie diet for some days and a regular diet others or eating between specific hours, such as fasting from 6 pm to 10 am and then eating during the eight hour non-fasting time. That sixteen hour break gives your digestion a rest, and normally limits the amount of food you eat.

What are IF benefits?

There have been animal studies since the 1940s using IF. In studies on rats at the University of Chicago, control rats were fed normally and the IF group was fed on alternate days. The rats fed on an IF schedule aged slower and had fewer health conditions. Some believed the pattern of eating more closely mirrored how animals ate in the wild that it benefited them. The rats also had improved blood sugar levels, better metabolism, less inflammation, weight loss, a reduced risk of cancer and improved brain function.

If you want to lose weight, IF may be a huge benefit that works.

We’re just beginning to study the effects of IF on humans, but the studies that are done show it’s beneficial for weight loss. One study found that when overweight individuals used a pattern of IF with no other restrictions, they ate 20% less food than the control group. They also lost 8% of their weight, while reducing insulin resistance and improving asthma.

IF does have some drawbacks.

People with diabetes that requires medication should never undertake IF unsupervised. Your health care provider can guide you on what you should do. If you take blood pressure medication, heart medication, are pregnant or breast-feeding, always consult your health care professional before undertaking intermittent fasting. Anyone with an eating disorder should not attempt it either.

  • Recent studies showed an improvement in brain functioning and cardiovascular health. Japanese studies on humans confirmed the findings of early animal studies, metabolism increased and aging slowed.
  • While studies had no guidelines for what the people ate, if you chose IF for your health or weight loss, you should. Whether you’re eating in an eight-hour window or fasting every other day, the food you need should be healthy.
  • Newer studies show that simply fasting for as little as 16 hours can make changes at a cellular level. It starts the process of cell repair, sends out hormones to burn fat and increases HGH—human growth hormone.
  • Intermittent fasting studies showed the group that fasted reduced their waist circumference measurement by as high as 7%—-they lost belly fat—and had less muscle loss than the group on a calorie restricted diet.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Incorporate Fitness Into Your Kids’ Life

The people that come to The Worx in Alexandria, VA, are the best. They’re varied by age, sex and marital status, but are always giving and sharing. Some have worked hard to instill a love of fitness into their kids’ lives, and they often share with each other what worked and what didn’t. As a mother, I know that it’s important for me to know my child is raised in a home where staying fit is part of daily life. Healthy habits developed early can last a lifetime.

You can leave the legacy of good health to your children.

Have fun with your family doing activities that keep them off the couch and away from technology. Whether you ride bikes together, all have hula hoops and do hula hoop contests or fast dance together in the living room, it makes memories and teaches children being active if fun. Go for walks together or visit parks with nature trails to follow.

Plan healthy meals and cook them together.

So many of my clients find it hard to lose weight because long work hours that entice them to stop at a drive through on the way home. It’s one reason I suggest meal planning and meal prep schedules. Our personalized nutrition planning can help, you just need to pick up the groceries and cook. Most people cook everything for the next week on the weekend or on their days off. You can get your kids involved in this and in the process teach them about the rainbow plate (eating vegetables of all colors) and have fun creating healthy meals and healthy snacks together.

A healthy lifestyle involves more than just healthy eating and exercise.

While staying active and eating healthy are important, so are other healthy activities. Having a consistent bedtime with adequate sleep is also important. Set a regular bedtime and stick with it, even on the weekends. It will be harder with older children who often have activities that end later on weekends. Be a little flexible, but stress the importance of sleep.

  • Children learn by example. Do workouts with your children on your days away from the gym. They’ll enjoy it and you can get in a few extra exercises every week. Kids learn what they live.
  • Teach your kids to love the taste of water, rather than offer them sugary drinks like soft drinks, fruit punch and even fruit juice. If they hate the taste, make infused water together. It’s fun, has minimal calories and is flavorful.
  • If you have pets, exercise them, too. Everyone should take turns playing with Rover or Kitty and the whole family could take puppy for a walk. Obesity plagues American’s pets, too.
  • Being fit means more than being physically fit. Studies show that your mental attitude is also important. Teach your kids to be thankful for all they have and identify one thing they’re thankful for every day. Set a goal for each person to say something nice to someone every day.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Foods For A Healthy Immune System

If you’re working out at The Worx in Alexandria, VA, hoping to improve your health, remember, what you eat also plays a role in your resistance to disease. There are foods for a healthy immune system that also act as building blocks for cells and maintain hormones and other functions throughout the body. The right food in your diet won’t guarantee you won’t get sick, but it will help reduce the potential of it happening. Some foods help fight off colds, others beat bacterial infections and some can help prevent cancer.

Eat foods high in vitamin C.

Vitamin C has long been known to be beneficial for fighting colds. Most people realize citrus fruits, like grapefruit, oranges and lemons are high in vitamin C, but they may not realize sweet red peppers, cantaloupe and broccoli. Consider adding mini sweet peppers and broccoli to your veggie tray to boost your immune system.

Don’t forget the zinc and vitamin D.

Zinc and vitamin D became very popular supplements during Covid-19. Everyone was taking them to boost their immune system. You can get zinc by eating crab, lobster, red meat, pork, oysters, dairy, nuts, beans and whole grains. Vitamin D is a little harder to get from food, but easy to get by safe sunning and sunning a little each day without sun block. Salmon, herring and sardines contain it, so do fortified products. Studies showed that 80% of covid patients were vitamin D deficient.

Herbs and spices can add nutrients to boost your immune system without adding calories.

A bit of garlic in your food or a dash of sage or oregano may improve your health. All three are known antibacterial herbs. Others that are also immune boosters include ginger, peppermint rosemary and thyme. Not only does garlic help boost your immune system, it helps lower blood pressure. Rosemary helps fight infections with its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Add more spices to every dish and you could be improving your health at the same time.

  • Get your greens for a healthy boost. Green leafy veggies like kale and spinach have many different nutrients that boost the immune system. Both are high in antioxidants, which includes vitamin C, beta carotene and flavonoids.
  • Berries are delicious, plus they boost your immune system. Elderberries, one of the less known berries, have antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. Researchers note they actually help fight off the flu.
  • Get healthy fat, fiber and vitamin E when you grab a handful of nuts, such as walnuts or almonds. Fiber has a beneficial effect on your immune system, since it feeds beneficial bacteria.
  • Foods that are fermented are considered probiotics, because they contain beneficial bacteria. Foods that contain soluble fiber are prebiotics, because it feeds the body’s microbes. Beneficial bacteria boosts your immune system, so consume probiotic foods, then follow up with foods that have soluble fiber.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Strength Training After Having A Baby

Times change and so does medical advice. At one time women were relegated to bed rest for days after having a baby, then it changed, and they could get up, just not exercise for about six weeks. Now the philosophy has changed, particularly about strength training after having a baby. It doesn’t mean you can go to the gym and try to press the heaviest weights, but if you feel good enough, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, resuming physical activities within days may be alright.

Using your own judgement, but with moderation.

You know when you’re ready to get back to the gym or on your exercise mat. Do you know how hard you should workout? Right after pregnancy is not a good time to push yourself as hard as you can. Start slowly. Your muscles have all been stretched and aren’t strong enough to support much effort. They leave you vulnerable to injury, so go slow. Even if you worked out regularly, for a few weeks, do a beginner routine.

Building core strength is important and this workout can do it.

You’ll need three to five pound dumbbells to do this exercise. Get on all fours, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your wrists right beneath your shoulders. Raise one leg and extend it behind you. Bend the opposite elbow, bringing the weight toward your ribs. Lower it and repeat that twelve times, then do it using the opposite leg and arm. Do as many as you can at first and as you get stronger, increase weights and reps.

Build strong abs.

Lay on your back with your legs up, bent at a 90 degree angle, directly over hips. Extend your arms at your sides with your palms up. Tighten your abs, pulling them in and lower one foot, pausing before it touches the floor. Raise it back to starting position then lower the other foot slowly and bring it back up to starting position. Stick with ten or 15 reps and build.

  • Carrying your baby will build your strength, especially if you hold baby while climbing stairs. As baby grows, you’ll be lifting more weight. Build your leg strength by taking baby for a walk. The faster you walk and further you walk, the more stamina you’ll build.
  • Be careful not to use weights that are too heavy, initially. If you don’t have barbells or free weights, consider buying resistance bands to start. They’re inexpensive and are great for building muscle strength.
  • Avoid cross=training, circuit training or any exercises that includes heavy barbells behind the head. Even weighted sit-up style exercises should be avoided for several weeks.
  • If you have a stability ball and dumbbells, your ready to go for this exercise. Lay on your back, knees bent and heels on a balance ball or the wall. Raise arms, bent at the elbow with a barbell in each hand.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness

Are There Health Benefits To A Vegan Diet?

If you come to The Worx in Alexandria, VA, you find a friendly environment where people put their all into their exercise routine and achieving their goals. However, losing weight and getting healthy requires more than just exercise. It involves healthy eating, too. It can mean cutting down on carbs, cutting out sugar and for some, eating a vegan diet. Are there health benefits for this type of diet? The answer is yes, if you do it properly.

Weight loss is one of the benefits of a vegan diet.

It only makes sense that if you cut out sugary foods and opt for a plant based diet, you’ll probably lose weight. That’s because most vegetables are lower in calories, particularly low glycemic index ones. Studies indicate that a vegan diet can increase weight loss. One study that lasted 18 weeks showed that the vegan diet produced a ten pound higher weight loss than the control diet. Even an eat-until-you’re-full diet that was vegan outperformed a restrictive low calorie diet. It worked for all those that ate vegan, even for people that didn’t strictly stick to protocol, but cheated a bit in what they ate.

Vegan diets provide high amounts of nutrients.

Fiber is one of the reasons this diet can benefit you. Fiber helps feed beneficial bacteria, slows sugar absorption and helps you go. Plant-based diets contain more fiber, but also contain more nutrients than other types of diets. It contains nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, whole grain and fruit. The nuts, legumes and seeds are a source of protein that contain other nutrients you don’t find in meat. Vegan diets are high in antioxidants, magnesium, folate, potassium and vitamins A, E and C.

If you have insulin resistance, kidney functioning problems or type 2 diabetes, a vegan diet can help.

You can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels when you consume a vegan diet. That improved insulin sensitivity helps lower blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. A vegan diet has been shown superior to the American Diabetes Association—ADA diet, the National Cholesterol Education Program—NCEP diet and the American Heart Association—AHA diet for blood sugar control. In fact, one study showed diabetics using the vegan diet could lower their medication levels more than those on an ADA diet.

  • Not only is a vegan diet good for diabetics, it’s heart healthy, too. The fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and the nutrients in the diet help lower blood pressure. Both affect heart health.
  • You’ll get phytonutrients in a vegan diet that provide benefits beyond the traditional vitamins and minerals Many can help lower the risk of cancer, benefit eye health, reduce inflammation and are anti-oxidants that protect cells.
  • Planning is important when you opt for a vegan diet. It’s harder to get adequate B12, zinc, iodine and calcium on a strict vegan diet. Don’t choose fast food vegan options, but go for whole foods.
  • Besides being heart healthy and good for diabetes, many studies show a plant based diet of raw foods provided prebiotic and probiotic foods that helped relieve the pain, swelling and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis.

For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness