Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let's Dance

Fitness and exercise should include components we enjoy for other reasons, in addition to health benefits. Having fun makes it easier to continue exercising. I like dancing, so I dug out some videos from back in the day when only Europe listened to electronic music.

Christopher Walken's dancing lessons have finally been put to use! And David Guetta's mix of breakdancing, ballet, parkour, gymnastics, and modern dance. Moving muscles through their full range of motion has never been better.

Fatboy Slim's documentary on evolution. What does the last 10 seconds mean? Is this where humans are currently. We've been swimming, crawling, climbing, swinging, running, walking since life began. Now, we're chillin' on a bench, and "#1 So why try Harder?"
The answer is "No, see first two links."

Cartoons, Fitness, and Philosophy

Some friends referred me to these thought provoking cartoon videos...which I thought were written by the same person. However, apparently narrating while sketching is a "thing" these days.

23 and 1/2 hours Reiterates the benefits of exercise, and how lifelong exercise has the greatest impact on health, quality of life, death etc.

The High Price of Materialism I found this to be really thought provoking and it has inspired me to think about what motivates me intrinsically. I've found that by thinking about what my actions mean in relation to my personal values has made me happier, just over the past week :) I do think that "materialism" may be better (although long-winded) restated as "putting more importance on impressing others, rather than focusing on what's important to you." This frequently tends to mean material possessions, but it can mean a number of other things. It can mean trying to be the best parent on your block, rather than the best parent you can be; The fastest runner on your team, rather than the fastest runner you can be.
Life is a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Other people's opinions will always have some influence over us, we are social creatures. It seems that we can all be happier by focusing more of our intentions and actions on our intrinsic values.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Run Don't Jog

As a lifelong runner, I take it personally anytime anyone starts talking about jogging. Jogging is to running as shuffling is to walking. We may jog during a warm-up or cool-down, just as we may shuffle when drunk. But this does not make us joggers and our sport of choice is not jogging, it is running.
Unfortunately, some people are jogging far more than they should. 430,000 Americans ran a marathon in 2005 and the average finish time was a shuffling 4:45. In 1976, 25,000 Americans ran and the average men's finish time was a brisk 3:32. No wonder runners are constantly injured; most of them today are hardly running.
I encourage anyone who wants to take up a new sport, be it running or rockclimbing, to compete at your level. Race your race, don't just try to finish. If you can only push yourself for 3 miles, enter a 5k race, don't aim for a near death experience in a marathon. There is far more satisfaction to be gained from being a competitor rather than just a participant.

I'll be delivering a webinar on Tuesday on Injury Prevention Strategies for Runners (Live Webinar) , and ran across this rant that I wanted to share with all of you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quinoa!

I've had quinoa on the brain for the past few weeks and thought I'd share its history! Below is Karen Railey's history of quinoa and why it's not only the best thing since sliced bread, but way better!

While following recipes can make for amazing meals, you can also simply prepare quinoa similarly as you would rice. Rinse, then boil 1cup quinoa to 2 cups water until fluffy and delicious.

Quinoa from the Andes

by Karen Railey
A
uthor of the popular "How to" guide, How to Improve Fading Memory and Thinking Skills with Nutrition.

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient food that is not yet well known in North America. It has been cultivated in South American Andes since at least 3,000 B.C. and has been a staple food of millions of native inhabitants. The ancient Incas called quinoa the "mother grain" and revered it as sacred. Each year at planting time it was traditional for the Inca leader to plant the first quinoa seed using a solid gold shovel! Quinoa was used to sustain Incan armies, which frequently marched for many days eating a mixture of quinoa and fat, known as "war balls." Beginning with the Spanish conquest in the 1500s, there was a 400-year decline in the production of quinoa. It became a minor crop at that time and was grown only by peasants in remote areas for local consumption.

In Peru, Chile and Bolivia, quinoa is now widely cultivated for its nutritious seeds, and they are referred to as "little rice." The seeds are used in creating various soups and bread, and also fermented with millet to make a beer-like beverage. A sweetened decoction of the fruit is used medicinally, as an application for sores and bruises. Quinoa has been grown outside of South America for a relatively short time. It is grown in Canada and has been grown in the U.S., in Colorado since the 1980's by two entrepreneurs who learned of the food from a Bolivian. They developed test plots in high arid fields in the central Rockies and began test marketing in 1985. Quinoa can be found in most natural food stores in the U.S.

Technically quinoa is not a true grain, but is the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant. It is used as a grain and substituted for grains because of it's cooking characteristics. The name comes from the Greek words, chen (a goose) and pous (a foot). This is due to a resemblance of the leaves of the plant to the webbed foot of a goose. The leaves are lobed or toothed and often triangular in shape. The succulent like plant grows from 4 to 6 feet high and has many angular branches. The flower heads are branched and when in seed looks much like millet, with large clusters of seeds at the end of a stalk. The plant will grow in a variety of conditions but favors a cool, arid climate and higher elevations. Beets, spinach, Swiss chard, and lamb's quarters are all relatives of quinoa.

Quinoa grains range in color from ivory to pinks, brown to reds, or almost black depending on the variety. There are over 120 species of Chenopodium, but only three main varieties are cultivated; one producing very pale seeds, called the white or sweet variety; a dark red fruited variety called red quinoa; and a black quinoa. The seeds are similar in size to millet but are flat with a pointed oval shape and look like a cross between a sesame seed and millet. Quinoa has a delightful characteristic that is all it's own: as it cooks, the outer germ around each grain twists outward forming a little white, spiral tail, which is attached to the kernel. The grain itself is soft and delicate and the tail is crunchy which creates and interesting texture combination and pleasant "crunch" when eating the grain. Quinoa has a fluffy consistency and a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor that borders on bland. The leaves of the Goosefoot (quinoa) plant are also edible and make a pleasant vegetable, like spinach. A quinoa leaf salad is generally more nutritious that most green salads.

Before cooking, the seeds must be rinsed to remove their bitter resin-like coating, which is called saponin. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use to remove any of the powdery residue that may remain on the seeds. The presence of saponin is obvious by the production of a soapy looking "suds" when the seeds are swished in water. Placing quinoa in a strainer and rinsing thoroughly with water easily washes the saponin from the seeds. In South America the saponin which is removed from the quinoa is used as detergent for washing clothes and as an antiseptic to promote healing of skin injuries.

The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa's protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a childs protein needs for one day. The 6-7% fat of quinoa is relatively high when compared to other grains, but it boasts a low sodium content and also provides valuable starch and fiber. Quinoa also contains albumen, a protein that is found in egg whites, blood serum, and many plant and animal tissues. The seeds are gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative grain for those with gluten sensitivity. Quinoa would be a worthy addition to anyone's diet, supplying variety as well as good nutrition. The seed is also excellent feed for birds and poultry and the plant itself is good forage for cattle.

Cooked quinoa is excellent in hot casseroles and soups, stews, in stir-fries, or cold in salads. The seeds cook very quickly, in only 15 minutes. Uncooked seeds may be added to soups and stews as you would barley or rice and quinoa is often substituted for rice in rice dishes. Dry roasting quinoa in a pan or in the oven, before cooking will give a toasted flavor, and it can be cooked in fruit juice to add character to the flavor for use as a breakfast cereal or in desserts. Cold salads consisting of quinoa and chopped vegetables or cooked beans make a quick, easy, and nutritious dish. Quinoa flour is used in making pasta and a variety of baked goods such as pancakes, bread, muffins, and crackers. Quinoa seeds can be sprouted and eaten as raw, live food for snacks or in salads and sandwiches. To sprout the seeds, soak about 1/3 cup seeds in a jar for 2 to 4 hours, then drain and rinse the seeds twice a day for 2 to 4 days. When the sprouts are about 1 inch long, place them near a window for chlorophyll to develop, which will give them a vibrant green color. Another fascinating way of using quinoa is to "pop" the seeds in a dry skillet and eat them as a dry cereal.

Due to the relatively high oil and fat content of quinoa, the grains and flour should be stored in glass jars in the refrigerator. Use the grains within a year and flour within 3 months.

Quinoa can be found in most health food stores or quinoa, and many other relatively unknown grains such as teff, can be found at Gold Mine Natural Foods. Visit their web site by clicking here.

Toasted Quinoa Salad

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley or cilantro
2 sliced green onions
juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime (or 1 - 2 tablespoons of each)
1-1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
1 teaspoon chili sauce (tobasco) (or use a pinch of cayenne, a few red pepper flakes, etc.)

Rinse quinoa and drain. Put in a pot and dry toast until a few grains begin to pop. Add 1-1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool.

Mix carrot, red pepper, parsley and green onion in large bowl. Add cold quinoa and toss to combine, Whisk together lemon and lime juices, tamari, garlic and chili sauce. Pour over salad and combine well. Chill until serving time.

This recipe can be fun. Try throwing in a few fresh raw peas, some fresh raw corn, fresh sliced raw green beans, etc.

Walnut Rosemary Quinoa

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 small onion
1-1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed in boiling water and drained
1 small red bell pepper, diced
3 cups water
1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in a medium saucepan; add onion and quinoa. Sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Add red bell pepper and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add water, soy sauce, rosemary and peas (if using fresh peas).

Bring to a boil and cover; simmer 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Meanwhile, roast walnuts in 350 oven for 5 to 10 minutes. When quinoa is cooked, turn off heat and mix in walnuts and frozen peas (if using frozen peas). Let sit an additional 10 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Alcohol

The consumption of alcohol, while enjoyable in moderation, has detrimental effects on your health goals. These next two articles go over the caloric and metabolic cost of alcohol, demonstrating that alcohol is not only empty calories, and can affect fat storage and muscle maintenance. We should make a strong effort to decrease alcohol use as much as possible for best health.


Caloric cost of alcohol

Alcohol and Metabolism

Monitoring exercise intensity

This next article discusses different ways of monitoring cardiovascular exercise intensity in order to make training most effective.

Heart rate and exercise intensity

Why do muscles tighten up?

I recently wrote this post for the American Council on Exercise discussing muscle tightness, whether it be due to limited range of motion, cramping muscles, or muscle soreness. It's my first publishing with ACE, so I am ecstatic.

Why do muscles tighten up?