New Year’s Resolution

With the New Year rapidly approaching we all find ourselves thinking about what goals we will set for ourselves. Many of us will go back to I want to lose weight, I want to tone up, or I want to start eating healthier. These particular goals are a good start; however, they are not ideal and are ultimately setting you up for failure. The reason? They are not specific enough!

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When setting goals you should strive for them to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) By setting our goals in this manor we will not only have a goal in mind, but we will have a specific goal that will occur within a certain timeframe. An example of a SMART weight loss goal might look something like this; I will lose 5 lbs by March 1st and will lose 25 lbs by the end of 2016. This goal provides you with a specific goal (5lbs and 25lbs), it is measurable (pounds on a scale), it is attainable as long as you truly have the weight to lose, it is realistic (not to drastic), and it has a timeframe (5lbs in 2 months and 25lbs for the year). By making your New Years resolutions in this fashion we allow ourselves to also set smaller goals within our overall goals.

In order to stick to our goals, fitness goals especially, I encourage you all to try out different modalities of fitness in order to find a few that you love and will enjoy day after day. If you would of told me four years ago that I would love running and compete in marathons I would of laughed in your face; however, running has now become a huge part of my life and a great way to reduce stress. At Pittsburgh Fitness Project we encourage all of our clients to try a free group fitness class to see if you enjoy it and which classes will work best to help you achieve your goals. We have everything from boot camps, yoga, pilates, Barre, strongman(woman), and Olympic style weightlifting. By trying new things we also open ourselves up to be more active and build a larger community and circle.

I challenge each one of you reading this post to set your goals and set them high. If we don’t set our sights to something great, then we don’t have any thing worth chasing. One of my favorite quotes is “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If after reading this post you still have some questions about your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions contact us at Pittsburgh Fitness Project. One of our professionals would love to sit down with you for a free goal setting session and even take you through a personal training session! Email us at info@pittsburghfitnessproject.com with your name and phone number and we will do the rest!

Have a Happy and Safe New Year!
Vincent Camps M.S.

Survive the Holidays

With the holiday season right around the corner, most families are filling their refrigerators with family classics, lots of alcohol, cookies, and pies. If your priority this season is to eat yourself into a food coma and sleep through the Thanksgiving Day football game, more power to you! But what about those of us currently focused on losing weight? After months of hard work you are seeing the pounds coming off, and the holidays present a new, unique challenge. How can we be expected to over come the temptation? The secret is……Moderation!!!!!

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Here are some tips to help you survive the holiday season:
Do not expect to lose weight over the holidays (unless you are on a mission then more power to you!), instead focus on preventing weight gain.
Remember that bodyweight fluctuates throughout the day, so a change on the scale does not reflect instant fat added.
A larger calorie surplus leads to a proportional gain in weight (Yes, vegans can overeat too!). So don’t eat until you can’t move
Don’t completely restrict yourself; Allow yourself to enjoy realistic portions of traditional holiday foods.
Save your calories for the foods you truly love.

SIMPLE WAYS TO CUT CALORIES
Eat on small plates (research shows we eat significantly less when using smaller serving dishes)
Don’t skip breakfast & lunch to save space for a big meal. This will cause overeating, and the meal will be guaranteed to surpass your needs.
Limit beverage intake so you can eat your calories instead of drinking them.
Incorporate lower calorie dishes (Easier when Vegan like us!!!)
Watch portion sizes. Eat slowly and focus on flavor.
Select your preferred carb and fat sources, allocate plate space, and fill the rest in with steamed vegetables!
Eat vegetables first to get the body to fill up more quickly.
Don’t feel obligated to clean your plate
Eat until satisfied not til your stuffed

QUICK WAYS TO BURN CALORIES
Walking, running, stair climbing can be done anywhere and takes 30 minutes.
Body weight exercises can be done anywhere and work your whole body
Sign up for a Thanksgiving 5k walk/run (“Turkey Trot”)
Do an outdoor activity (weather permitting) before the big feast. (Family Football Game!!)

Healthy Ingredient Swaps
Reduce fat by replacing oil with applesauce in baking.
Use a banana as a substitute for oil or butter.
Almond milk can be used to replace milk in recipes. Choose unsweetened for the best calorie savings.
Use ground flax to replace eggs
Make a giant fruit salad for dessert or in replacement of the extra cookie.
Here is one of my favorite holiday dishes (Vegans and Non-Vegans will all love, I promise)
Mushroom Burgers or Nuggets
makes about 22 nuggets or ten burgers (save leftovers in fridge or even freeze them)
spices:
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
a few dashes pepper (to taste)
2 Tbsp salt-free spice blend – any variety you’d like
1/2 cup nutritional yeast + (add more if you’d like more cheezy flavor)
1 Tbsp mushroom powder (optional, I used Dole brand since it adds lots of vitamin D)
liquid:
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp oil (olive, safflower, walnut..)
3/4 cup water (or veggie broth for added flavor – if using broth remove the added salt)
base:
1 1/2 cups TVP or TSP (textured veggie protein)
*if you can’t find or don’t like TVP, you can sub with brown rice – however you may have to add some more dry ingredients to account for the added moisture. Bread crumbs would be an easy fix. Or more nutritional yeast.
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped (any variety!)
1/3 cup diced onion, sweet or white
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
To make:
1. Combine all the spices in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add in the liquids and the base ingredients. Grab a large fork and start mashing well – especially the beans. Try to break them down as much as possible so they provide a sticky agent which binds the patties together. The TVP will begin absorbing the liquid as well to thicken the mix.
3. Next, add in the flour. You can add in a tablespoon at a time until you are comfortable with the consistency. You want the mixture to be like a very wet bean patty. If you need to absorb even more moisture, add in more flour or try bread crumbs. More nutritional yeast could also be added.
4. Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes depending on the size (look for a golden brown)

Have a great holiday and feel free to leave questions or comments!!!
Vincent

When Organic produce is really worth it

In today’s world we all hear the rave about organic and non-organic produce, meats, and snacks; but it is hard to know which are actually a healthier choice. A lot of people think that organic foods are more expensive which is the case most of the time; however, understanding what organic really means can help you understand when we actually need to spend the extra money.

Organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

Each year the Environmental Working Group puts together a list of the dirty dozen (The produce which tests for the highest amount of pesticides) and the clean fifteen (the produce that is least likely to contain pesticide residue). Nearly two-thirds of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues – a surprising finding in the face of soaring consumer demand for food without agricultural chemicals. Pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables tested by USDA, even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

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This year the dirty dozen consisted of apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods tested positive a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items. Some interesting findings from the EWG’s report are as follow:
99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.
In addition to the twelve foods listed above there were a number of other foods that were found to commonly contain traces of highly hazardous pesticides. This group contains leafy greens (ex. Kale and collard greens) and hot peppers. It is recommended by the EWG that these foods also be bought organically.

This years clean fifteen for 2015 was found to be:
Avocados
Sweet Corn
Pineapples
Cabbage
Frozen sweet peas
Onions
Asparagus
Mangoes
Papayas
Kiwi
Eggplant
Grapefruit
Cantaloupe
Cauliflower
Sweet Potatoes
The EWG found these fifteen foods to have low concentrations of pesticides. They also found these to be the key findings of the clean fifteen. Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides. Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues. No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides. Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.

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With the information above it is obvious that your shopping at the grocery store matters. People who eat organic produce consume fewer pesticides than there non-organic counterparts. Although more expensive it is important to at least buy the twelve dirtiest produce items organically. Spend the few extra dollars to buy these organically and your health will thank you later!
Refrences:
http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

Post Workout Recovery

Sleep
Sleep is an extremely important time for recovery and it is completely free. Sleeping allows muscles to heal and hormones to balance out. Logging 7-10 hours of sleep each night is recommended for adults (2). Lack of sleep can cause prolonged muscle fatigue and soreness, and even sickness due to the body not being able to properly produce antibodies to pathogens your body comes in contact with every day. Getting to sleep at a decent time can be tough due to the hustle of everyone’s work and home life. Nightly routines such as reading or stretching can allow the body to relax so you can fall asleep quickly and ensure a proper amount of sleep.

Nutrition
Some protein supplements can be great but eating “real” food is the best way to get your vitamins and nutrients. Eating healthy meals with beneficial carbohydrates and protein after a workout will help replace muscle glycogen stores and aid in protein synthesis to build and repair muscle tissue (1). Building muscle tissue actually requires you to damage the muscle during the workout, The subsequent protein synthesis not only repairs the damaged muscle but also builds more muscle tissue to adapt to the stresses the body is being subjected to during workouts. Good sources of protein included fish, chicken and eggs. These combined with healthy carbs such as rice and sweet potatoes would make a great post-workout meal choice!
Active Recovery
Sometimes the best way to recover from a tough workout is by working out. This can seem quite counterintuitive but I will explain why this is so effective. Exerting your body to levels that cause soreness means that you have inflammation in your tissues and joints. One of the best ways to decrease tissue inflammation is by movement. Light workouts on recovery days such as jogging, mobility sessions, and yoga can help decrease muscle inflammation and therefore muscle soreness. So next time you are too sore to lift heavy or do a long run, do your body a favor and get a light workout in so you can return to your training program as soon as possible.

Foam Rolling
Research studies on foam rolling are sparse but the anecdotal evidence on its effectiveness is quite strong. While foam rolling can be used before working out to increase blood flow to muscle, it can also be used post-workout and on recovery days to help flush inflammation from tissues. Spending 1-3 minutes on each sore muscle will help decrease pain and increase range of motion. Focusing the foam roller in areas of hyperirritability can help release “trigger points” so muscles function better and with less pain.

Chiropractic
As a chiropractor, this was a no brainer to include in my tools for recovery. Chiropractic is a safe and affective means to decrease joint and muscle pain in the spine and extremities. Chiropractic adjustments include a quick and gentle thrust through a joint to increase motion in a given spinal or extremity motion segment. Increased range of motion in a joint helps decrease pain and inflammation so that return to play or working out can happen in a shorter amount of time. Soft tissue techniques such as Active Release Technique (ART®) and Graston® (instrument assisted) focus on releasing myofascial adhesions that get built up from tough workouts or repetitive micro traumas such as everyday low force movements experienced in an office work setting. The combination of chiropractic adjustments with soft tissue techniques is a great way to enhance recovery and should be implemented in everyone’s regular schedule.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/about-post-workout-nutrition
http://www.purepharma.com/us_en/blog/best_recovery_tips/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=post&utm_campaign=speedmusclerecovery

Make time for what matters most

What comes to mind when you are asked to name the most important part of your life? The one answer I rarely hear first; and the correct answer, in my opinion, is exercise, but why not? Obvious answers are family, friends, pets, or maybe even your job; however, I argue that you can’t enjoy the time with all those you love without putting exercise and your overall health as the priority.

Exercise is one of the most important aspects of life because without it you would not be able to live your life fully and experience everything you would like to with family and friends. I do realize that family and friends should come first over exercise; however, I am trying to make the point of how important exercise truly is!

About 600,000 people die of heart disease every year, which accounts for one out of every four deaths! That makes heart disease the number one cause of death in the United States. Think about that statistic for a minute and think about the fact that one out of every four people you know are likely to die from heart disease.

The leading risk factors for heart disease are:

  • High Blood Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes
  • Overweight and Obesity (Which 2/3 of our population now fall into!)
  • Smoking
  • Lack of Physical Activity
  • Unhealthy Diet
  • Stress

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These risk factors can all be be prevented or postponed with regular exercise and a relatively healthy diet.  In clinical studies, exercise has been proven as a more effective treatment for many diseases than the common drugs people take.

So if that information doesn’t show why I believe exercise is the most important aspect of everyone’s life maybe this will.  Exercise strengthens your heart, improves circulation, increases energy levels, increases endurance, decreases blood pressure, improves muscle tone and muscular strength, improves balance and flexibility, strengthens bones (osteoporosis), helps reduce weight and body fat, reduces stress, improves sleep, improves cognitive function, and increases self-esteem.  All of these things sound important right?  Think about all of these things and how many people you know that rely on medication on a day-to-day basis.

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Sure some people seem to cheat the system and eat fast food and drink a six-pack while watching TV every night, all while maintaining a relatively clean bill of health, but these people are the minority.   Most people who fall into these habits show high stress levels, low activity, and very high risk for heart disease.  In order to maximize your life as well as your families life exercise is a crucial piece of the puzzle. If the word exercise makes you cringe then you are not alone.  Many people are nervous, scared, and stressed when they hear the word exercise. New Year’s Resolutions come and go and within those first couple of weeks so does your exercise habits.  However this should not be the case.  Exercise should be fun and energizing; not something you dread everyday.  In today’s world there is a modality of training for everyone. Whether it is yoga, boot camp, crossfit, running, biking, etc. the list can go on and on.  The key is to find the modality you love and stick with it.

Here are 10 easy tips to start an exercise routine today!

  1.     Find a friend: Every activity is more enjoyable when you have a friend or family member with the same goals as you.
  2.     Start Slow: Fitness and exercise is not a race especially if you are brand new.  Starting off by simply walking for 15 minutes, 3 days per week is a great start if you have not been doing anything previously.
  3.     Be open to trying new things: With the various types of exercise modalities out there today try them all until you fall in love with one.  Most gyms and studios would be more than happy to let you try a free class or give you a tour of their facility.
  4.     Create realistic goals for yourself: Without having some sort of end goal such as lowering your blood pressure or running your first 5k then you will be more likely to skip workouts.  Trying to set a goal every single morning when you wake up is a great way to stay motivated.
  5.     Don’t stress if you miss one workout: In today’s world everyone has days where every single thing that could go wrong does.  If that’s the case take a deep breathe and jump right back into things the following day.
  6.     Listen to your body: Sometimes when we start a new exercise routine or working with a trainer or coach we have trouble crawling out of bed in the morning.  If that’s the case sometimes it’s best to take an active recovery day and do things such as go for a walk, stretch, or foam roll.
  7.     Eat better: Giving your body the proper nutrients will not only help fight off heart disease but it will also help with your performance and recovery.
  8.     Get enough Sleep: Sleep is vital for recovery.  Even during the most stressful, hectic days try and shoot for 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
  9.     Hire a coach or professional:  Many times the main reason people don’t exercise is the fear of looking stupid or not knowing what to do.  If that’s the case shop around to find a trainer, coach, or instructor that fits your needs.  If one doesn’t seem like a good fit simply thank them for their time and move on to another.
  10.  Have Fun! : If exercising is not fun for you then it is not going to become an everyday part of your life.  Find something that works for you!