I like to think of food, especially breakfast as FUEL. If I am a high-performance vehicle (a guy can pretend), I need to put high-quality fuel into my engine so I can run more efficient. If I put poor fuel into my system I will probably not run as smoothly, won’t utilize the fuel as efficiently, and probably have build up in my system. Good fuel for our body is the food that gives us positive energy, sustained energy instead of the blood sugar highs and lows, and makes our bodies feel nourished. Signs of poor fuel in our system are gas, bloating, inflammation, fatigue, hyperactivity, occasionally skin conditions, or other physical symptoms.
The hard part for most people when it comes to nutrition is knowing what to eat. The food industry has made this difficult since it is highly marketed, and they understand what “buzz words” to place on their products. Here is one of my favorite lines when it comes to thinking about food. “If your grandma’s grandma wouldn’t recognize it as food, it is probably not food.” Shopping the perimeter of a store is where you will usually find foods that are in their whole form and less likely to be processed. If you start with a whole food and add it to other whole foods, it is easy to know what ingredients are in your food.
Keep it simple
Another good tip when it comes to nutrition is to plan your meals in advance. We typically make worse choices when we don’t plan ahead and then just grab something quick. Quick meals typically equal less healthy meals.
Let’s keep this simple and start with the most important meal of the day…BREAKFAST! I will fully admit that I use to barely eat breakfast, and if I did it was cereal or something quick. Breakfast, or Break-the-fast, is a great time to put some good fuel back into our system after it has spent the night resting, repairing, and recovering from the day before. To recover it uses a lot of protein to rebuild broken down tissue.
Replenish The Body
Breakfast is a great time to replenish the body with protein, healthy fats, and typically less carbs. Most people eat carbs for breakfast (toast, cereal, bagels, fruit, etc) and have no protein or fat. Carbs break down quickly, produce a quick rush of energy (blood sugar spike), and are short lived. This leaves us with uneven energy in the morning, and typically makes us hungry earlier in the day. Protein and fat break down more slowly, are better at balancing our blood sugar, keep our energy more consistent, and keep us full longer into the morning.
Here’s my typical breakfast in the morning. I know there are protein shakes, but I like to eat my food rather than drink it. I also like a hot breakfast. This takes me about 20 minutes, and I also pack my lunch while I am cooking. Keep in mind that I have 3 little kids that I am cooking this for too every morning and can still be out the door by about 7:00 AM. If you are trying to come up with excuses why this isn’t possible…if I can do it, you can too! If you don’t like that challenge, how about the idea of just feeling better in the mornings because you are more nourished.
My Breakfast Foods
I am not that creative, so I tend to have similar breakfast food but I just add different things to it to change it up slightly. We usually try to get the foods that have minimal ingredients and are nitrate/nitrite free for meats. I usually make 4-6 eggs (PROTEIN/FAT-feeds 4), and sausage, or bacon (PROTEIN/FAT). The bacon I cook in the microwave on this fun pan we have (no smoke in the house, no grease splatter, it collects the grease under the meat, and it’s done in 5 minutes).
I add different things to the eggs such as goat cheese, ground hamburger, ground sausage, chipotle Tabasco sauce, vegetables etc. I will also cut up some apple slices, bananas, or a small cup of berries. The fruit and carbs are typically only offered after the main meal is gone. Slices of avocado are also good to start the day with due to the healthy fat. Another option would be goat yogurt with berries. Goat milk/yogurt is usually much easier for most people to digest compared to cow milk/yogurt. What are your favorite breakfast foods? Comment below and let’s share with each other our breakfast favorites!.
It’s been a warm summer here in Minnesota! August is off to a warm start, as well. This week let’s talk about exercising in warm weather. It can be pretty dangerous if you aren’t adjusting for the heat.
Some consequences are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Both are possible when your body gets overheated. When I was an athletic trainer, we were always working with athletes during the summer season to make sure they were taking measures to keep their bodies from overheating.
Find shade! If you are outside in activity, find the trees when you can. Either stay in the shade when you’re active or take breaks frequently. If you’re running, chose a path that’s more covered. Sometimes there are covered areas at sports centers, so look for places to get out of the sun.
Cooling as you go! For athletes more so than runners, you can have a bucket with ice water and towels handy. Take the towels out and cool yourself down by wearing it on your neck while playing, or using it during a break to cool down. Sometimes I even put it over my head when I am on a break.
Proper clothing! Moisture wicking clothes can help by taking the sweat off your body. Breathable clothing is key to ensure your body temperature doesn’t continue to rise. Wearing a hat blocks the sun, as well.
If you know you are going to be outside in the heat and exercising or prolonged activity, start hydrating the day before. Of course, you’ll want to continue to hydrate and take water breaks during the activity. I like to do the “free pee” test. Your urine color is usually a good indication for how hydrated you are. If it is dark yellow or orange, you are dehydrated. If it is clear to a light yellow, your hydration is okay. Make sure to check in when you do to the bathroom and monitor, especially when you have been exposed.
Re-hydrate when you’re done! This ensures that if you did get dehydrated, you are replenishing your body with the needed fluids. I like to use Nuun electrolyte tablets (https://nuunlife.com/). All you do is put the tablet in water and drink the mixture. Some people eat bananas or salty foods. What ever you choose, make sure you are taking steps to replenish your fluids.
Here’s to everyone staying healthy for the remainder of the summer. Let me know what tips you follow when exercising in the hot weather.
For the runners out there, racing looks quite different this year. Some races have gone virtual, while others have been cancelled completely. This hasn’t stopped dedicated runners from putting in the miles. I’ll be sharing some tips on post-race (or post-long run) recovery with you this week.
After a long run, the legs often feel tight. Here are some things I like to do to support recovery with my foam roller:
Hip stretching directions:
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended, the foam roller positioned underneath your hip.
Lift your body up so your weight is resting on the foam roller. Cross your left leg over your right for extra pressure.
Begin to slowly roll your right hip back and forth on the foam roller, navigating your body forward and back with your arms.
Spend as much time as you like to, depending on how sore you are.
Switch legs and focus on your left hip.
Hamstring stretch: Same as hip, but reposition the roller to your hamstring, starting on one side.
Calf stretch: Continue with the same directions above but reposition the roller to one calf. I like to adjust and roll the side of my calves out, as well. Just reposition the roller to the side of the calf (inside and outside) after you finish rolling straight on.
Quad stretching directions:
Start in a forearm plank position with the roller under your quads.
Bracing yourself with your upper body and core, begin to slowly roll down the roller until it reaches just above your knees. Then, roll in the opposite direction until you reach your hip flexors.
Spend as much time as you like to, depending on how sore you are.
When you hit a tender spot, hold yourself there for a few breaths.
IT band stretch: There are mixed opinions on whether or not rolling out the IT bands is actually beneficial. I will leave that up to you; if you feel better after rolling them out, go for it!
Hip flexor stretching directions:
Start by lying down, facing the floor on the foam roller, once again in a forearm plank position. Make sure the foam roller is underneath your left hip flexor and your right leg is bent comfortably to the side.
Resting on your forearms, begin to roll slowly up and down and side to side on the foam roller to target the hip flexor, paying close attention to trigger points.
Switch and repeat on the right hip flexor.
Upper back stretching directions:
Begin by lying on your back with the foam roller positioned underneath your upper back. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor and your arms can either be down by your sides or crossed in front of your chest.
Brace your core and lift yourself up into a shallow bridge position.
Slowly start to roll up and down between your lower neck and mid-back, stopping at tight areas along the way.
Repeat as long as you like.
Please note, we aren’t trying to get aggressive with these, as our muscles are sore. Go gentle when working through each rolling sequence.
It is interesting to note some of the benefits of foam rolling:
reduces inflammation that occurs during the muscle repair process
aids in muscle repair recovery
helps injury prevention by maintaining muscle length and remedying tension and tightness
increases blood flow and elasticity of muscle tissue, joints, and fascia — the body’s connective tissue — which helps with mobility, overall well-being, and a smoother appearance of fat underneath your skin
These are some things I like to do to recover from a race or long run. What do you do to recover? Comment below!
Do you sit at desk for most of your day? Is your current workstation set up for proper posture? Are your shoulders, back, and neck stiff? Do you find yourself in a hunched over position often?
I see many patients who suffer from postural stress (or desk work). It’s a common problem that leads to upper back, neck, and headache problems. Most of this is preventable by trying to change up your daily routine at your desk.
Therefore, let’s talk about the desk position. Many times, when working in a stationary position, we get tired and may slouch. The upper back and their postural muscles get tired, we lose our posture, rounding forward to a slumped position and our neck strained out. We might be in an unfriendly chair, or the desk set up isn’t comfortable for us, contributing to the muscle tension. In addition to back and neck strain, our chest can get really tight because of the strain to our back.
Think about your head being about 8-10 pounds, similar to a bowling ball. (I like to call this the bowling ball effect.) Imagine holding a bowling ball straight out in front of you – your neck, back, and chest are going to get sore. There will be less impact if the head (that 8-10 pound bowling ball) is held close toward your body.
Hopefully all that helps you understand why your body ensures postural stress at a desk.
Here are some tips for opening up your shoulders, upper back and neck area.
Begin by addressing the low back. Sit up straight in your chair and make sure the curvature is correct. Sometimes placing a pillow, specifically a lumbar pillow, for support can help.
Similarly, adjust your monitor so that it is higher, so you aren’t tempted to slouch down to see it, putting stress on your low back and neck.
Be aware when you start to slouch your head forward. Bring it back to an upright position – move the “bowling ball” closer into your body.
After that, find a friendly chair, one you are comfortable sitting in for extended periods of time.
In addition, take breaks throughout the day – usually every 30-45 minutes.
Try playing what I call “The Game of Opposites.” If you are in a seated position looking forward most of the day, practice the opposite of that position. Stand up, open your hips, stretch your back and neck to the rear of you, and roll your shoulders to open them up.
Lean into the doorway to stretch your chest muscles by putting your arms out at a 90-degree angle and gently pressing into a door frame.
Do chin tucks by pulling your chin back toward your spine, pulling your head in. These a just a few tips for helping relieve postural stress due to desk work. Above all, if you have persistent issues, call me and schedule an appointment at the clinic. I’m here to help!
We are in winter now. With another couple of snow falls under our belts in 2021-22, and the end of year holidays… There’s no turning back now! The winter can be a difficult time to think healthy. In Minnesota, lots of us want to hunker down for the season. It can be tempting to give in to all the comfort foods, especially around the holidays. That’s why I thought it was important to talk a little bit about healthy snack options. My big advice for healthy snacks is to keep it simple. There’s no need to go out and spend a ton of money on snacks or ingredients in order to eat healthy. Here are a few simple ideas that are go-to snacks in our house:
Plain nuts are healthy snacks
These are a great option, if you aren’t allergic. Look for these raw nuts, and make sure they aren’t loaded with salt or sweeteners: almonds, cashews, pistachios. Nuts are good fats, and a great source of protein. They are actually better for balancing your sugar levels so you won’t get quite as hungry as quickly after eating them.
Homemade granola snacks can be healthy snacks
These are simple to make and most people have all the ingredients on hand. Just take oats, peanut butter, and honey (you can add your favorite nut in, too) and roll them in a ball. Then, let them sit in the fridge to set-up. Sometimes I even add a little chocolate! We like to make these in our house – they are easy, delicious, and healthy.
Vegetables are healthy snacks, too
Yes, this is an obvious choice. We like to cut up carrots, but you can really use any vegetable you have available. Hummus is widely available these days and it’s a great addition to your veggie snack. Some veggies pair well with peanut butter, like carrots or celery. You can even make “ants on a log” with celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
As adults we may think some of these snacks are just for kids, but they are actually easy, healthy alternatives to the other junk out there marketed to adults. I’d love to hear your go-to healthy snacks. Comment below!