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26 Not-So-Healthy Habits


From magazine headlines to wise words from our mother, we’re constantly bombarded with “tips” to keep our health in check. But before drowning in diet soda and daily showers, reassess some of these behaviors that may be doing more harm than help.


Foods and Eating Habits:

1. Enhanced water. A little faux fruity flavor might seem like a great way to up H2O intake, but flavored water, like Vitamin Water or even Smart Water, can be filled with sugar. Skip the artificially sweetened water and infuse water with actual fruit.


2. Granola and granola bars. Granola is made from whole grains, so it can’t be bad, right? Not so fast. Granola and granola bars are both calorically dense and often contain a ton of sugar. You may as well eat a candy bar…


3. Protein bars. Protein bars don’t fall far from the granola-bar-tree. They are often ultra-high in calories and sugar — not exactly what the body needs after a hard workout. Choose a healthier high-protein snack instead.


4. Vitamins and supplements. Multiple studies have shown that taking vitamins (in pill form) may not have any positive effect on long-term health. Researchers have surveyed the nonexistent (or even potentially harmful) ties of vitamin E and C supplements with heart disease, cancer, and cancer treatment[1][2][3]. Plus, most people get all the vitamins they need from their food, and substituting pills for whole foods may mean missing out on the benefits from other compounds found in the natural sources.


5. Light beer. News flash: Light-beer doesn’t necessarily mean less calories. Instead, many simply have a lower alcohol content. And for those interested in getting a buzz on, the calorie difference may be negated by the need to drink more. Sip a healthier beer instead, and split up the six-pack between friends.


6. “Low-fat” foods. Think twice before skipping the fat-filled salmon. While cutting some fat could help weight loss, we may miss out on some big benefits from healthy omega-3 fats, such as boosting brainpower and lowering the risk of heart disease[4][5][6].


7. Skipping meals. Skipping meals probably won’t save us any calories in the long haul. Forgoing a meal may result in overeating later on, so choose a healthier lunchtime treat instead[7][8][9].


8. Bottled water. Some bottled water may be filled with bacteria or chemicals when bottled in plastic containers[10][11] So grab a water filter and purify tap water instead.


9. Passing on dessert. Don’t deny your favorite dessert. If really craving that double chocolate brownie, enjoy a few generous bites instead of going for seconds at the dinner buffet line — which could rack up even more calories.


10. Diet soda. Diet Dr. Pepper may not be our friend. Scientists suggest too much of these zero-cal beverages could do as much damage as the sugary stuff, potentially leading to weight gain and an uncontrollable sweet tooth[12][13] The solution? Skip the soda completely and opt for a healthier choice.


11. Juice diets. Many of us could use a few more fruits and veggies, but we don’t need to have spinach-apple juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Juice diets may leave out important nutrients and enough calories to stay strong throughout the day.


12. Microwave diet meals. Try making your own meals, without the box and frozen plastic tray. Many frozen meals are packed with sodium, while lacking veggies and enough calories. Short on time? Make a large batch of your favorite meal over the weekend and freeze individual portions to eat throughout the week.


Hygiene and Health

13. Hot tubs. They may be super relaxing, but hot tubs are a one-stop shop for bacteria and germs, and may even cause a rash. Gross.


14. Antibacterial soap. It may not be worth scrubbing down with the fancy stuff: Regular soap and water is just as beneficial when it comes to staying squeaky clean[14].


15. Brushing right after every meal. Just ‘cause dessert was devoured doesn’t mean we should grab the toothbrush and paste. Wait at least 30 minutes after a meal so saliva can neutralize the acid in the mouth and strengthen the enamel on those chompers.


16. Avoiding the sun. While too much sun could cause a nasty burn (or worse!) sidestepping the sun at all costs may lead to a lack of Vitamin D which is essential for proper muscle and bone development[15].


17. Daily showers. Stop the scrubbing! Hopping in the shower too often may irritate and dry out skin. If you really need to freshen up, spray on some perfume or cologne and save the shower ‘till tomorrow.


18. Catching up on sleep. We’re sorry to break it to you, but it’s pretty tricky to catch up on sleep. So rather than skimping on sleep in order to cash them in later, aim for a solid seven to nine hours a night.


19. Sitting up straight. Yeah, we’re surprised too. Sitting up straight may be bad for the back, so skip the seat and try a standing desk at the office[16][17].


20. Cleaning with disinfecting products. There’s some evidence that certain chemicals in disinfecting products could lead to asthma[18][19]. Simply use a regular cleaning product  or detergent without the chemicals instead.


Working Out

21. Only doing cardio. Hitting the roads is great and all, but don’t retire the weights for the running shoes. Make sure to strength train to burn fat, lean out, and look badass in the process.


22. Doing a million crunches. The secret to six-pack abs probably isn’t crunch after crunch. To flatten out and tone up the core, try running some intervals, lifting a few weights, and cleaning up that diet instead.


23. Breathing deeply through the chest. Whether running the final lap or heading down the basketball court, avoid deep breathing with the chest. For a most effective breath to help any athlete’s performance, remember to use the diaphragm!


24. Static stretching pre workout. When warming up, static stretching (aka holding positions for a certain length of time) won’t do much in way of preventing soreness[20]. Skip the still motions and do dynamic stretches, like lunges and high knees, instead[21].


25. Lifting machines. Most lifting machines focus on single joint exercises, which fail to improve muscle imbalance and does not burn as many calories as hitting the squat rack or swinging a kettlebell.


26. Hitting the gym daily. Don’t get us wrong, exercise is important! But spending too much time at the gym leaves little time for muscles — and the mind — to recover. Make sure to get at least one or two days of rest, and dominate those dumbbells the rest of the week.






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Fill ‘Er Up!

English: Dried fruit and nuts on a platter, tr...

Even for the healthiest of eaters, good intentions can fly out the window when your stomach begins to rumble. If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, finding the right kind of foods — healthy foods that will fill you up for the longest amount of time — is essential. High-protein foods, high-fiber foods, and healthy fats are all on the top 10 list of most filling foods.

Snack on Sweet Prunes

The images associated with prunes are sometimes less than flattering, but as a filling food, you can’t beat prunes for a sweet, satisfying snack. They are a high-fiber food which means they help you feel full longer.

Go Crazy for Nuts

Filling snacks, such as pistachios, almonds, pecans, nuts, and seeds, will help you feel full longer because of their fat and protein content. For the same reasons, you have to keep the serving size reasonable, say 6 to 12 nuts.

Fill Up First on Vegetables

Research that shows people eat the same weight of food every day. This factor is crucial to your weight management strategy. When you get hungry, eat vegetables — which are low in calories — in place of higher-calorie food items. These high-fiber foods will help you feel full longer and stay slender.

Get Going With Oatmeal

Nothing says comfort in the morning like a warm bowl of oatmeal, a high-fiber food that can help you feel full longer and manage weight. Oatmeal can be a little bland on its own, but you can liven it up by adding low-fat milk, sliced fruit, and a sprinkling of nuts for an indulgent yet healthy breakfast.

Start Your Meal With Soup

Studies show that if you have soup before your meal you eat less. Opt for a broth-based soup full of high-fiber foods rather than a creamy, salty concoction. Homemade soups are great to make when you have time, and then freeze for a quick meal when you need it.

Go For a Dip

Allow yourself a little savory dip to go along with those carrot and zucchini sticks. The flavor and the fat will keep you feeling full longer and can help your body absorb nutrients like beta-carotene more effectively. Try a little salad dressing, or whip up a batch of creamy, delicious hummus.

Load Up on Lean Protein

Try to include protein in your meals or snacks if you want to feel full longer. A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is an effective strategy to manage weight for some people. Animal and plant proteins all add to your sense of fullness. Savor a meal that combines protein with high-fiber foods.

Count on Beans and Other Legumes

Lentils and chickpeas are more nutritious, filling high-fiber foods that can be included in a number of different types of entrees and healthy snacks. Because beans can add up to a lot of calories if you eat more than a serving or two, you might want to combine them with vegetables and whole grains for a more complex meal that will keep you feeling full longer. And best of all, beans and legumes are inexpensive.

Don’t Skimp on Potato Skins

The humble potato — with its skin on — is uniquely comforting, and also happens to be one of the best sources of potassium you can include in your diet (followed by bananas). Eating the skin is what makes the spud a nutritious, high-fiber food that’s also filling.

Pick Some Fabulous Fresh Fruit

Many fruits are high-fiber foods. They’re also high in water content and flavor — and very satisfying for their low calorie counts. An apple, or a serving of grapes or berries, all make the list of most filling foods. Keep fresh fruit on hand for an easy snack when you’re trying to lose or manage weight, or opt for a lush dessert such as baked apples with dried fruit and walnuts, or experiment with fruit in an entree, such as Fish Veronique with tangy grapes.




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Run A 5K With A Splash Of Mud

A mud run participant takes a tumble and slide...

I have officially completed my first 5K!  Yeah me!  This was no flat terrain, asphalt, train-on-a-treadmill run.  No, no, no.  The venue was situated on country farm land, donned with horse stables (watch your step), and consisted of rocky dirt back roads, 3-story-high hills, obstacles manned with marines shouting, “Go! Go! Go!”  Oh, and MUD…a lot of it.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Aug 13, 2011) Runners nav...

Mile 1:  I paced myself, slow and steady, naive at how easy the first mile had been.  Note to self #1:  You can do this!  Ahead was a seemingly large hill.  I overheard a fellow runner behind me coach his teammates to tackle the hill running up on their toes.  I studiously obliged and conquered the bump in the road on the balls of my feet.  Running down the hill, I hoped that my gasps of air weren’t as loud to my allies as they were to me.  I caught my breath and looked on ahead only to find yet another ghastly huge hill.  Ugh.  This time I walked up, flat-footed, finding any divot I could for moral support.  What was that whole toe thing for anyway?  Extremely hot and exhausted, a girl confided that the hills were the worst part of the race.  I cautiously believed her, using it as motivation to trudge on.  After a couple of standard obstacles, push ups and rope ladders, I noticed the approach of the first mud pit.  Fear brewed in the bottom of my stomach.  I was strategically eying a way around it, perhaps to chicken out.  No dice.  I dove to my knees and climbed under the ropes in the watery mud, paying close attention to keep my mouth tightly closed.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Aug 13, 2011) Runners nav...

Mile 2:  Note to self #2:  Pigs got it right!  Mud does cool you off.  With my new found second wind, I picked up the pace.  Slip sliding my way out of the mud pit I got back on course.  Passing up a group dressed like superman, I reminded myself of the undying determination I possess.  Note to self #3:  I too can be like Superman to get through this….<imagine cape on back>.

Lemoore, Calif. (June 11, 2005) - Participants...

Mile 3:  As I approached the obstacle course in last leg of the race, I started to question my trust in that girl’s affirmation of the hills being the hardest part of the race.  No sooner did the mud dry on my body had I been thrust, yet again, into a pool of mud.  Climbing under ropes, over hurdles and walls, and through muddy tunnels, I breezed through the last course with pure acuity.  I was thoroughly proud of my accomplishment, and as I crossed the finish line, was awaiting the paparazzi to photograph my triumphant finish.  What?  Stirred back into reality, I gracefully and gratefully accepted my much earned dog tags and headed toward the make-shift showers to hose off.  I did it!

Note to self #4, 5, and 6:  Next time don’t wear shorts with pockets as the mud accumulates in them and wears you down;  Don’t wear shorts (no explanation needed); and train, train, train, and train some more.

When I returned home, I showered, took a much needed nap, then bathed in Icy Hot….repeatedly.  Oh, and I found some other mud runs to accomplish.  What can I say?  I’m hooked!



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Caffeine Alternative via Jillian Michaels



Fat-Burning Caffeine?

If you’re interested in caffeine for its fat-burning benefits, try it in the form of a guarana pill or drink. Guarana is a tropical plant native to the Amazon jungle. It contains caffeine, but instead of producing a sudden energy surge and quick drop-off, guarana is absorbed slowly and therefore produces a more moderate energy boost that escalates gradually. Try 5 mg of guarana per pound of body weight, and take it about 40 minutes before your workout.

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