Stretching & Recovery

Stretching and recovery are important in health and fitness, no matter what your goal is. The benefits of stretching are endless and are especially essential in recovery and injury prevention. Yet so many people skip out on stretching and don’t allow their body time to recover. A few of the most important benefits of stretching include: 

  

  • Injury Prevention 
  • Release Muscle Tension 
  • Increase Range of Motion 
  • Reduce Soreness 
  • Improve Muscle Imbalances 
  • Increase Blood Circulation and Energy Levels 

  

After exertion, studies show that your muscles need anywhere from 24-72 hours to recover. You’ll notice this need in fatigue, soreness, fitness plateau, or even in your mood. Rather than pushing through and ending up burnt out, follow these steps to ensure you are allowing yourself adequate recovery:  

 

  • Listen to your body – notice the signs and allow yourself a day or two off activity. 
  • Schedule rest days – try to get at least 2 rest days in a week. 
  • Practice active recovery – engage in light exercise and movement on recovery days, such as stretching.  

  

To some, fitness and activity can be all about pushing yourself to your limit. The body is capable of amazing things when you break outside of your comfort zone, but it also needs these tactics of stretching and recovery to build back stronger than ever. Make a habit of incorporating stretching into your daily routine. Set aside just a few minutes to start your day, before a workout, after a workout, or to end your day. Give yourself room for recovery as well, and you will realize what you are truly capable of! 

 

Healthy Eating for Busy Families

 

Is it even possible? In today’s modern world, many families have either two full-time working parents or a single parent doing it all, so the thought of whipping together a healthy, home-cooked meal certainly does feel daunting. If I can offer any encouragement to you this month, it’s to know that eating healthy at home is possible, if you start by shifting your mindset and keeping it simple.

 

Let me start by introducing myself. I am a full-time health coach and the new Wellness Director here at AllOne Health. My husband and I have five small humans at home, ranging from 2 – 16 years old so it’s a bit of a circus. Do I cook homemade meals every night? Not a chance. Do I have a backup plan and rules in place at all times? You better believe it!

 

First, make eating together a priority. Your family will always eat better when you eat together. I remember growing up, we had to sit down every single morning with my mom and start the day together. It certainly cut into my hair crimping and bang curling priorities but it was one of the best habits my mom ever instilled in me. Make dinner time a priority at your home. Kids who regularly eat meals with their families are not only healthier, but they also do better in school, develop more advanced language skills, and are less likely to drink alcohol or experiment with drugs as teenagers (Fiese and Schwartz, 2008).

 

If your kids are picky, don’t give up! Remember, you are still the parent and get to set the ground rules. Give them the chance to help at the grocery store or in the kitchen. Always give them choices at dinner but don’t cook separate meals for them. Start with the fruits or vegetables they will eat and expand from there. And always, lead by example. When kids see you eating a side salad first at dinner or cutting up fresh fruit for movie night, they will follow suit.

 

Plan meals ahead of time. The chances of coming home after a long day of work, deciding what to make for dinner, and then finding all the right ingredients are slim to none. Avoid this problem by spending an hour coming up with a menu for the week. Consider creating a family calendar that includes everyone’s activities, as well as the planned menu for each day. Everyone will know what to expect, and you can maximize the chances you’ll be able to quickly put together a healthy family meal.

Remember that a healthy dinner consists of 3-4 food groups, or according to www.myplate.gov, half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. This should feel encouraging because instead of thinking you have to become the new Kraft Mom or Pinterest guru, you can rely on a turkey sandwich with tomato soup or macaroni and cheese with broccoli and grilled chicken. Oftentimes, we put so much pressure on ourselves to create beautiful home-cooked meals when really it’s just about variety and recycling throughout the week. Somedays, we eat pancakes with fruit and yogurt for dinner. Other nights, we have chicken veggies pizzas. Ultimately, you want to have one source of lean protein, 1-2 veggies, and 1 complex carbohydrate for dinner.

 

Create an emergency list. You know those nights when you are driving home from work or jumping off your last conference call and you have absolutely no idea what to make for dinner. We’ve all been there, myself included! Create an emergency list of meals that you can rely on, especially when you fail to plan. We are much more likely to eat healthy at home than we are if we choose take-out options. Your emergency list contains 4-5 meals that are quick and easy to prepare, as well as always stocked in your freezer or pantry. For example, our family emergency list includes the following:

 

Spaghetti Night

Omelette Night

Cauliflower Fried Rice Night

Tortellini & Spinach Soup

 

This list is kept on the inside door of my pantry. When I go to restock groceries at the store, I make sure all of the ingredients for these meals are always on hand or added to the grocery list. This gives me a handful of meals to rely on, especially when I don’t feel like cooking or fail to plan entirely!

 

Eating healthy takes intentional effort each week. Whether you are cooking for one or cooking for seven, if you make nutrition a priority within your home, you’ll learn through practice. If anything, just take action and choose one of these ideas today. Discuss it with your family and get their input. A goal on your own is harder to sustain but if it is a goal for everyone to adapt together, you’ll be surprised how much easier it can feel long term. You got this!

Choose Hard

Choose Hard.

 

90% of Americans are complacent in life.  Why?  It’s easy and it’s what is being pushed on us.

 

We live at the warp speed of our smart phones (not sure they are really all that smart but we can’t leave home without them.)  We hear a “ping” and our entire mindset is distracted.  It’s actually been proven to be addictive, more so than drugs.

 

We are surrounded with choices that provide instant gratification and can help us feel better in the moment.  Feeling stressed?  Overwhelmed?  Angry?  Choose Amazon, choose the local drive thru, Grub Hub or Shipt shopper.  We actually never need to actually leave our house anymore- it can all be done online and at the click of a button.

 

Easy is what our culture wants us to buy into.  We have unlimited access to processed foods, frozen pizza, candy and alcohol.  Why cook when you can just nook?  Why meal plan when you can just hire a mail delivery service to do it for you?  Why outfit plan when you have Stitchfix to do it for you?  (Okay, I digress, but you understand, right!?)

 

Living healthy is HARD.  It is the hardest thing you will ever do. 

 

You will have to make a grocery list.  You will have to figure out what meals you need for family dinners and lunches during the day.  You will have to physically go to the store, pick out colorful veggies and put them in plastic bags.  You will have to then go home, take them out of plastic bags and chop them up for the week ahead.  You will have to spend a few hours on the weekends getting your meals set up, whether that be chicken, soups, salads or snacks.  You will have to have difficult conversations with your kids or spouse about why there is no longer junk food in your pantry.   You will have to carve out time each day to move your body when you feel exhausted from work.  You will have to keep drinking water when you are sick of going to the bathroom all day long.  You will have to go to bed when you want to watch just one more episode on Netflix or scroll social media to numb the pain of feeling alone.

 

You will have to keep choosing hard when that damn scale gives you zero feedback.  When you did all the right stuff but you still feel ugly, tired or alone.

 

And why?  Why choose hard, when it’s so much easier to just give in and go with the flow of those around us?

 

Because we only get one shot at this thing called life. 

 

And you only get one chance to the be the best version of you. 

 

When you choose healthy, you choose hundreds of options in front of you.  When you choose easy, you choose to be mediocre and fit in with everyone around you.

 

Why not be different?  Why not make a difference?  This world certainly needs people who are kinder, happier, healthier and more confident.  And I guarantee your world of humans needs someone who is kind, happy, healthy and confident too.

 

Choose hard.  Choose healthy.  Choose YOU.  One day at a time. 

SUSTAINABLE WEIGHT LOSS TIPS

Sometimes, we need a kick in the butt to get ourselves moving again.  A 30-day program, a 12-week challenge, you name it.  But once we lose the weight, how do we keep it off….forever?  You see, the statistics are pretty disheartening in the industry.  While the health and wellness industry continues to boom to over $10 Trillion per year, the number of individuals who lose weight and keep it off one year later?  Only about 1-2%.  We want to help you go from program to lifestyle.  We want you to keep the weight off and embrace new habits for life!  Check out these practical tips to live by, especially as we head into the busy holiday season ahead:
1.  Self-Monitor.  Every individual who keeps the weight off long term will monitor their weight and their food, at some level.  Whether that be an app like Myfitnesspal, Weight Watchers or measuring our portions of food once a month, you have to get back to basics.  Weight loss is about taking in less calories and expending more so find a system that can give you honest feedback from month to month!
2.  Watch your home environments:  Hard but necessary.  Even if you have kids at home, don’t use them as an excuse to bring junk food into the house.  30% of success is a product of your environments so control what you can and don’t let temptations surround you at night.
3.  Hire an accountability coach:  Based on multiple research studies, individuals who met with a weight loss coach, once a month, were 3x more likely to keep the weight off and stay on track.  It’s good to have fresh perspective and someone to report your goals to!
4.  Stay active!  The BEST way to keep the weight off is through exercise; specifically, strength training.  Even just 2-3 times per week of lifting weights, body weight or active yoga will help keep lean muscle on your frame (and your metabolism strong from year to year!)
5.  Create a strong social army!  Your attitudes, behaviors and thoughts will be the most like the five people you spend the most time with.  Add people into your social circle who value health and will be a positive influence in your life.
6.  Establish non-negotiables!  No matter the day, what is ONE thing you can stick with no matter what?  64 ounces of water before drinking anything else?  A healthy breakfast every morning?  What can you commit to and feel great about for the rest of your life?
7.  Master your bookends:  People who keep the weight off tend to have an earlier start to the day and go to bed earlier.  They take the time before work or at night to practice self care….exercise, meditation, journaling, personal development.  Which bookend can you improve over the holidays?
8.  Invest in your health.  Yes, you DO have to keep investing in yourself….sign up for big goals like a 5K, a gym membership, a running club, a cooking club.  How you spend your time and money shows what you value most in life.
9.  Be realistic.  Don’t allow one bad day or one bad meal to throw you completely off course.  It’s not about perfection.  Allow for some splurges and fun in life but then get right back on track, or BALANCE it with an extra hard workout or great food the next day.  One day at a time!
10.  Stop viewing health as an obligation.  It’s a gift we have been given.  Change your perspective from “have to” to want to…..move because you can and be grateful for the health you have, every step of the way!

Healthy Eating on the GO!

By Kendra Bylsma

Whether your job takes you across the country or your kids take you across town with extracurricular activities, we all must eat. With school sports starting back up for our kids and getting back from two weeks of vacation travel, I know first hand how hard it can be, even as a health professional.  Eating a balanced and nutritious diet on the road is one of the biggest challenges faced by those who spend considerable time traveling.

The “road warrior” lifestyle is one that can create major health issues over time. In a recent study done by Harvard University, researchers found a strong correlation between the frequency of business travel and various health risks, especially those who traveled more than 14 days a month. From higher BMIs, increased depression and lack of physical activity, traveling creates real barriers when it comes to sustaining healthy habits on the road. One of the biggest challenges is eating out.  Choosing healthy foods in an airport, drive through or five-star dining can feel impossible.  But… still possible, with a few key strategies in place:

  1. Power up with protein. Start your day with a protein-packed breakfast that will keep you from being hungry and making less-than-desirable choices later in the day. Whether that means making breakfast at home before hitting the road or enjoying a hotel breakfast buffet, be sure to make healthy, hunger-fighting protein the focus. I love to make an egg sandwich to go or sit down with a scrambled egg veggie hash.  Other options could include a greek yogurt with granola or whole grain toast with peanut butter.
  2. Pack snacks. Snacks have actually come a long way. You can ditch the bag of salty chips for healthy, delicious and filling snacks that aren’t loaded with empty calories. Plan ahead and pack nuts, granola bars, fresh fruit, low-fat cheese sticks or veggie and hummus packs.  You may pay a little extra for things to be “pre-packaged” but it’s worth it if it keeps you on track and cuts down on prep time.  I love the individual hummus containers for my kids’ lunches or my afternoon driving/  Plus, I love Larabars, pre-cut fruit cups, apples with sharp cheddar cheese slice or walnuts and dried cherries in a baggie!
  3. Don’t fear fast food. Fast food or fast casual restaurants are inevitable in life. At Allegro, we don’t believe you can eat clean and wholesome 100% of the time.  It’s all about balance and a nutrition plan that you can live with long term.  When faced with that as your only option, don’t fear the menu. Instead, break it down by entree/sandwich, side and drink and make the best choices in each category. Choose grilled over fried, salad over fries, water over soda, and steer clear of value meals that are only valuable to your pocket book but detrimental to your waistline!

Embracing the Darkness

Embracing the Darkness

by Emma Szczepanek

July first marks the beginning of the second half of the year. For those who are goal oriented, or even for those who are not, this can sometimes spark a new beginnig similar to New Years Day. I always aim for my writing to be uplifting and inspiring, and I wanted to bring you something about fresh starts, but as July carries on, I have realized that a fresh start is not my current experience. I want my writing to be a space of authenticity, and with the veil of social media, it’s easy to make our lives look effortless and perfect, but that’s not real life. We all experience hardship, and to compare our hardships to others “perfect” social media posts makes life a lot more difficult. This space doesn’t need another New Year, New Me post, #MondayMotivation or #lifegoals post. This space we call the internet needs something real.

I have, for a long time, and still do, struggle with my relationship with food and a very distorted body image, and unfortunately, this summer has not been an exception to those emotions. This summer has been hard. I’ve struggled with my body, I’ve struggled with anxiety, and I’ve spent a good majority of my time at the lake or pool worrying more than I have enjoying, but as I explore my emotions, I come to understand that they are exactly what I need to feel.

Five years ago I would have handled these emotions very differently. I would have used self harm and other destructive behaviors to cope. Today, I choose to sit with my feelings, and experience them. I no longer restrict my food intake, I don’t turn to self harm. I pick myself up and try to keep myself in the moment, focus on the facts of the situation, and turn to gratitude, because I know those are the healthiest choices I can make. As I reflect on my 27 years, I understand that my summer experience may not be picture perfect. It may not be Instagramable (is that even a word?), but it is the exact experience I need to continue growing on my journey.

With mental illness and hardships, there are always days where it may feel as though you’re slipping back into old patterns or behaviors. Some days it feels like the mountains you’ve climbed to “recovery” were only small hills, but in those times it’s important to dig deep, and to reflect on those emotions, because in doing so, you’ll realize that you’ve come a lot further than you have given yourself credit for. The simple act of recognizing that old patterns and behaviors are surfacing again, is growth within itself. Recovery is truly a journey and not a destination (sometimes really cheesy sayings are just true, ok?). Five years ago I was lost, ill, and completely unsure of myself. I was willing to follow a well built path to society’s ideas of success, at the expense of my own happiness. Today,  I have a clear vision of what I want. Today I have started to build my own path to the success that I’ve imagined for myself, and that is something that I would have never thought I would do. While yesterday’s emotions may have seemed similar to 22 year old me, my reaction to those emotions was completely different. That is where growth lies. That is what recovery is about. Recovery is not about the emotions you feel, recovery is about the way you deal with them.  

So, yes. New month, new you. New week, new Monday, new morning, new minute. Make the changes you feel you need to make in order to live up to your highest potential, but when things get dark, when old emotions surface, embrace them. Dive into them head first, sit with them, experience them, and then, let yourself grow.

You Need a Day OFF!

You Need A Day Off!

By Tiffany Karger

Raise your hand if you walked out of a class or workout and didn’t take the time to stretch. Now raise your hand if you do not take one or more off days per week. I know most and possible maybe all of you reading this do at least one or the other. As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I can say with confidence that one of the biggest faults in the fitness industry is the lack of knowledge with recovery and its high importance.

To be holistically healthy in all areas of life we need a balance of exercise, nutrition, meditation, and recovery. If one of the four are not met, we will not see results. Being in the fitness industry for the past three years, I noticed that recovery is always forgotten. I teach 14 classes per week and rarely do I see anyone take the time after class to properly recover (i.e. Stretching, self-myofascial release, etc.). When we are taking a class, weight lifting, or running, we break down and create micro-tears within the muscle. For the muscle to repair and grow stronger, recovery needs to happen. Taking time to the stretch and rest helps with blood flow, increase muscle strength/size, and prevent injury. The “No Days Off” lifestyle halts muscle repair and therefore the body never heals properly. We wear fit bits and apple watches to track steps and count our calorie burn for the day. Getting so caught in the numbers, we lose sight in what our body really needs… a day off.

My Top 4 Recovery Techniques (I promise no burpees!)

  1. Rest: Now we are talking about actual rest, sleep. This is one of the most important ways to get your body to quickly recover from the physical and mental demands of hard training.
  2. Hydration: No not alcohol. We need to consume at around eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. That number goes up when our activity increases. Drink up!
  3. Self-myofascial Release: Foam rolling!!! Taking at least 10-15 minutes per day to give your muscles a little TLC. Don’t know how to foam roll? I am at the studio 24/7 so ask me about tips and tricks to foam rolling. I am more than happy to help.
  4. Fuel Your Body: Your muscles need to eat so feed them well. Focus on whole nutrient dense foods to give your body what it needs.

Treat yo self and your body too.

What I Learned From Detoxing Digitally

by Emma Szczepanek

Last month after watching a very convincing Ted Talk I decided that I needed a break from social media. I’d thought about the idea many times before, but watching that video was the catalyst that made me decide it was time. I’ve always had a mostly hate relationship with social media (90% hate 10% love). It seemed like a chore, something I had to do to stay present in a social circle, the make or break of my career. Facebook always seemed like a constant stream of negativity, and Instagram, the ultimate highlight reel felt inauthentic. I never truly felt connected to anyone when I posted on Facebook or Instagram, but the idea of leaving these platforms made me nervous that my career would fail and my life would fall apart (I’m generally a worst case scenario thinker).

Once I made the decision to leave my social media platforms, and step away from the constant connectedness of the world, I actually learned a lot, and thrived without constant Instagram scrolling and Facebook nonsense. I benefited mentally. It felt like my brain changed. Here are a few things that happened:

I became more focused

Recent studies have shown that regular multitasking can reduce our ability to effectively complete tasks. Our brains can only handle so much information at one time and when we consistently bombard our minds with endless streams, it’s forced to switch between everything we’ve given it, putting less focus on individualized tasks.* I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I found myself trying to read an article while watching a YouTube video, or the number of hours I spent scrolling through Instagram while Netflix played in the background. These seemingly small bouts of multitasking have a huge effect on our ability to focus when we really need to. Once I eliminated the temptation of mindless scrolling I was able to sit down and truly dedicate time to one specific task. Over the course of 30 days, I noticed that the amount of time I was able to really focus became longer and longer. I went from only being able to work for 30 minutes without a break, to sitting down and focusing on something for an hour or longer. I felt motivated by the amount of work I was able to get done.

I actually LIVED the life I wanted

This was something that only the 30-day detox could help me realize. I spent so much time on social media following influencers and other people that were living the life I wanted. Waking up early every morning, working for themselves, traveling, committing themselves to a regular yoga and meditation practice. These were all things that I wanted to do, this was the life I wanted to live, but I wasn’t doing it. I was getting an odd complacency about the life I wanted because I was almost able to live it through other people. Living that life in my imagination through their feed. I got satisfaction from seeing them do all of these things and didn’t actually try to do them myself. Once I gave up social media, I was able to sit down and take a true audit of my life. I was able to tune into the things I truly wanted, and I started to do them. I woke up early, did my meditation, did yoga, spent time on my business, all of the things that I had for some reason been avoiding but coveting in others. During these thirty days, I felt more like myself than I had in a while. I didn’t have other influencers, bloggers, trainers or coaches to compare myself to. I was doing my work the way that I wanted to do it, not being influenced by the things that were popular on social media at the moment. I was able to live my life in that same way. Without stepping away from the people that I envied so much, I think it would have taken me much longer to realize that I was letting them live my life for me.

I was able to create

When I was really able to be with myself and spend time figuring out what I wanted out of life and my career, without the influence of what the “successful” social media influencers were doing. I felt like my creativity was at an all-time high. I came up with new concepts to write about when I had been stuck for months, I came up with an entirely new project that I would have never thought to create before. For a long time, I thought that social media was inspiring to try new things and do something different, but it turned out that it was really holding me back, and instead of standing out, I ended up blending in.

Overall, the past thirty days has truly changed not only my relationship with technology but also my relationship with myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the digital world because we’re constantly told that we can’t do things without it, but that’s not true at all. Technology and social media have made many things a lot easier, but it’s also taken a lot away. Our ability to connect to our authentic selves, to take chances and do things that may not get likes or follows. Being able to see the world on our phone or computer screen is a wonderful advancement, but being able to see the world with our own eyes is still possible, we just have to lift up our heads.

*[The Essential Digital Detox Plan – Orianna Fielding]

Creamy Vegan Queso!

 

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, so why not whip up a non-dairy vegan queso for your next party?
This creamy vegan queso from Pinch of Yum is SO tasty! It’s made with just three ingredients: cashews, green chiles, and taco spices.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup water
4 ounce can diced green chiles (or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon taco seasoning (add a pinch of salt if it’s unsalted)

INSTRUCTIONS:
Blend on a high setting until you get a very smooth and creamy texture. Taste and adjust to how you like it.
Use it as chip dip, a sauce for roasted vegetables, or just smother it on your tacos, burritos, and crunchwraps.