BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are three of the nine essential amino acids including leucine, isoleucine and valine. The essential amino acids can’t be made by the body and therefore must be acquired through the diet. Research studies report that BCAA’s help to promote muscle growth, aids in recovery and reduces muscle soreness.
BCAAs are found in a number of healthy protein-rich foods, including organic grass-fed beef, wild Alaskan salmon, pastured egg yolks, raw grass-fed cheese, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and nuts. One of the best sources, however, is whey protein concentrate, which has one of the highest concentrations of leucine.
The typical requirement for leucine is 1 to 3 grams daily. However, to optimize its anabolic pathway for muscle growth and repair, you need as much as 8 to 16 grams of leucine daily. One 3-ounce serving of whey protein has 8 grams of leucine (compared to just 1.6 grams in salmon or 1.4 grams in egg yolk).
This likely explains why whey protein concentrate has been found to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and has been called the ideal fitness food when consumed just before or after a workout.
Try to get your BCAAs from your daily diet by incorporating salmon, grass-fed cheese, pumpkin seeds, pastured eggs and nuts if possible.
However, consider using a whey protein concentrate if you are short on time or on the go. This can be a convenient way to add BCAAs to shakes, oatmeal, and yogurt for post workout snacks and meals.
Make sure when selecting your whey protein to look for a pure, high, quality product. Many protein powders can contain high levels of lead, arsenic and toxic ingredients. Check the product on the Clean Label Project website:
“Coffee and chocolate—the inventor of mocha should be sainted.” ― Cherise Sinclair, Hour of the Lion
I always look forward to my early morning coffee experience but in the past disliked the time it took to brew and the waste of making too much coffee. I love to start my day with a fresh, hot cup of coffee to get me energized for a quick, morning yoga flow. However, sometimes I’m short on time and don’t have the luxury of time to sip and savor my morning brew.
I was so happy when I discovered the Black & Decker Brew N Go.
It brews delicious, hot coffee in less that two minutes. And to top that off, you can take it with you in an insulated cup that keeps it hot on your drive to work. Although I normally love my coffee black, I experimented with adding some flavor to my morning brew. Here’s what I came up with:
1 heaping tablespoon of Charleston Coffee Roasters Organic Sumatra coffee
A (Black & Decker) Brew & Go cup of filtered water
1 tablespoon of organic hot cocoa
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of organic coconut milk
This recipe is so quick and simple. Put 12 oz of filtered water in your Brew & Go cup and pour the water in your coffee maker. Add one tablespoon of coffee to the filter. Once you’ve added your water to your coffee maker and your brew cup is empty, add cinnamon, cocoa mix and coconut milk to your brew cup.
Now simply place your cup in the coffee maker and brew. Your delicious hot steaming cafe mocha will be ready in less than two minutes. ENJOY!!
Also, if you drink a lot of coffee like I do, check out my article:
Yin Yoga is a practice in which you hold lying and seating poses for three to five minutes. This type of yoga focuses on flexibility and restoration. Try my ten minute practice in the morning to loosen up tight muscles or to help you wind down before bedtime. Focus on breathing slowly in and out through the nose that will help create warmth in the body and promote relaxation. Try to clear your thoughts and focus on a mind body connection as you try to relax in each pose.
You’ll need a mat, water, and an optional blanket for a prop if needed.
Wide Knee Child’s Pose (Hold for 3 minutes)
Sphinx Pose (Hold for 3 minutes)
Swan Pose (Hold for 2 minutes on each leg)
Finish with an optional pose called Legs up the Wall 3 to 5 minutes
Where are you going in life? Are you on the right path? It’s an important question to ask yourself and you may be surprised at the answer. Without purpose or direction we become stagnant and feel empty. Have you considered what you value most in life? If you don’t know, then you may end up on the wrong path.
It can be a challenge in our busy lives to achieve balance when it comes to family life, career, and health. However, if you don’t know where you’re going, you may find yourself at some point in life, full of regrets.
Stop spinning your wheels and write down an action oriented plan with specific goals that will help you live your best life.
One way to think about work-life balance is with a concept known as The Four Burners Theory. Here’s how it was first explained to me:
Imagine that your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner symbolizes one major quadrant of your life.
The first burner represents your family.
The second burner is your friends.
The third burner is your health.
The fourth burner is your work.
One of the most frustrating parts of The Four Burners Theory is that it shines a light on your untapped potential. It can be easy to think, “If only I had more time, I could make more money or get in shape or spend more time at home.”
One way to manage this problem is to shift your focus from wishing you had more time to maximizing the time you have. In other words, you embrace your limitations. The question to ask yourself is, “Assuming a particular set of constraints, how can I be as effective as possible?”
Assuming I can only work from 9 AM to 5 PM, how can I make the most money possible?
Assuming I can only write for 15 minutes each day, how can I finish my book as fast as possible?
Assuming I can only exercise for 3 hours each week, how can I get in the best shape possible?
Consider writing down a small goal for each area of your life that you feel needs improvement. Here are some ideas:
Relationships– Take time each day to tell your loved ones how much you care for them. Set restraints on social media and use that time to spend with your family. Get in the habit of giving hugs more often. Read books, play board games, or put puzzles together with your children each week. Try and set up a consistent schedule to call your parents, siblings, and friends. Create special memories!
Career- This is a biggie! We all need to make money to live but if you hate your job, you will most likely be miserable. Let’s face it, we spend a lot of time at work so it’s vital to find something that is compatible with your family life. Also, if you have small children, you will regret working 60 or more hours a week. That’s precious time away from loved ones that you will never get back. Consider your options for another job with better hours or maybe a work from home option. Set a goal to improve this area of your life by determining the pros and cons of your current working situation and where you can make small positive changes.
Health- This is an area many of us end up sacrificing due to time restraints. However, it’s easy to set just one or two weekly goals that can make a substantial difference in your health. Number one is the food you bring into your home. Learn to make healthier food choices when shopping for groceries. It’s important for your children to learn the relationship between their health and what they eat. Take them shopping with you and let them make their own grocery list of healthy food choices. Restrict splurges on fast food to special circumstances or occasions. Additionally, consider how you can add activity into your day? Ride a bike or walk to work if that’s an option.
Set your alarm an hour early and get your workouts on your calendar. Even a ten minute workout once or twice a day can make a difference. Determine specific days and times each week for physical fitness and stay consistent. You will never regret this.
Consider what you value most in life and make a plan to make sure you take the right path. Because if you don’t know where you’re going than it doesn’t really matter.
I love teaching my Friday weight training class and try to put a different spin on it every week. Class will start with total body weight training and then I plan to finish with this quick and effective ab routine. Do this three to four times per week and tweak your diet with a specific goal to drink more water and eliminate processed foods. You’ll be surprised how quickly you start to see results!
ABS/ CORE CIRCUIT –
Perform each exercise for one minute and try to complete entire circuit 2x
1. Glider Plank Walk & Knee Tuck –This is one of my all time favorite. To work the abs efficiently you need to engage the stability of the core. This is done with gliders but you can use small towels under your feet or your socks will work to allow your feet to slide while performing the exercise.Perform this exercise for 1 minute
2. Burpee + Four Mountain Climbers –I love this exercise. It works the entire body and the mountain climbers really challenge your abs/core.
Perform this exercise for 1 minute
3. Up Down Plank –This exercise is tougher than it looks. Try leading with one arm for thirty seconds and then change lead arms to complete the minute. Modify on your knees if needed.
Perform this exercise for 1 minute
4. Plank Jacks With Knee Tuck-Love this but it’s a tough exercise for one minute. Challenge yourself!
Perform this exercise for 1 minute
5. Pilates Double Leg Stretch– Pilates is an amazing way to get your abs into shape and your core strong. Try this for 30 seconds, hug your knees into the chest and recover for 10 seconds and then finish with 20 more seconds of the exercise.
Avocado Toast- This is one of my favorite breakfast/ snack foods- I love to use Ezekiel bread and then add mashed avocado with a splash of olive oil, red pepper flakes, and top with hemp or flax-seed
2. Protein Oatmeal Bowl- This is another one of my healthy go to meals- I like to use a single serving of organic oats, scoop of your favorite protein, 1 tbsp of almond butter, handful of organic blueberries and top with flax-seed.
3. Spinach and Egg Breakfast Quesadilla – These are quick, healthy, and can be made ahead of time to warm up if short on time. Simple recipe includes – scramble eggs in tbsp of avocado or olive oil , toss in any optional veggies and then place on tortilla. Top with cheese and heat until cheese melted. Delicious!!
If your resolutions are to lose fifty pounds and acquire a six-pack in two weeks, you could be headed for trouble. Or did you set lofty goals and decide to run a marathon or sign-up for a triathlon this year? That could be a problem if you don’t have a clue how to get started and expect to dive right in without a plan.
It’s easy to have false expectations and become impatient when it comes to weight loss and fitness goals. Losing weight and building muscle takes time. Therefore, It’s imperative to set realistic goals and have a well thought out fitness plan.
Learn to avoid setbacks and injuries by following these four tips for success:
1. Hire a professional -If you’re a newbie to working out, it’s important to enlist the advise of a certified fitness professional. It’s vital to set a time frame, realistic goals, and write down specific steps to help you gain progress while avoiding injuries and setbacks. Your health is your greatest asset and well worth the investment.
2. Make sure you always warm-up, cool-down, and stretch before workouts –The warm-up elevates your body temperature and increases blood flow to your joints and muscles to safely prepare your body for your workout. The cool-down and stretching will help your heart rate return to normal and helps prevent muscle soreness and injury.
3. Learn the balance between overload and recovery -Over-training can occur when you don’t recover sufficiently from your workouts. Signs to look for can be an elevated resting heart rate, ongoing muscle soreness, irritability, weight loss, and decreased performance.
Per breakingmuscle.com Recovery Is About Creating Balance : Training is about creating enough of a stimulus to force the body out of its comfort zone, therefore making it get stronger, bigger, or more fit. This happens through a physiological process we call adaptation. As the body starts to adapt to the stimulus, the athlete or trainee has to keep pushing the body more and more in order to keep making progress. Many of those involved in the fitness industry understand this principle, but what gets lost in translation is that in order to create that adaptation to the exercise stress, athletes and trainees need to rest appropriately with proper recovery.
Therefore, always consult a fitness professional if you are unsure how to progress safely towards your goals
4. Have patience and enjoy the process– It’s easy to want to see results overnight or take shortcuts in your training, but patience is key. Your body needs to adapt safely to the overload in your workouts. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts by increasing the weights, reps or intensity of your workouts before your body is ready. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you haven’t done the work. You need to start with short runs and slowly build your mileage each week. Follow a well designed program that is specifically designed to help you reach your goals. Take some time each week to keep a journal of your progress and accomplishments It will be well worth it when you start to see your body transform or run over that finish line.
I’ve officially been calling myself a “snow bird” for the past several years. My husband and I travel to Florida during the winter months each year to escape the cold weather and enjoy some quiet time at the beach.
Although I thought I would be bored to tears and miss home; I’ve learned to embrace this time in my life.
Now that I’ve accepted the fact that I’m considered a “senior” and a snow bird, I’ve found myself reflecting more on the aging process. It blows my mind that in two years I will be sixty!?! Where has the time gone?? I still feel like I’m only in my forties and have to remind myself often that I’m now falling into the DREADED categories of: senior, geriatric, old lady, over the hill etc. Yes, if you live long enough, not only will you have to deal with gray hair and wrinkles, you will most likely be subjected to ageism. Merriam Webster defines
Definition of ageism
: prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly
Becoming older is a privilege denied to many,” the saying goes. But, are you excited about getting older? When I ask my students this question they often say things like, “No way!” and follow with a list of negative stereotypes describing older adults as sick, unhappy, slow, and sexually inactive. How do so many of us, including myself, come to this conclusion?
The aging population (i.e., individuals 65 and over) around the world is growing. In the U.S. alone, one in seven persons is now an older American, and this number is expected to double by 2060. As we’ve previously discussed here at Sociology In Focus with other concepts (seasons, time, etc.) aging is also socially constructed.
It’s no wonder that once we pass the ripe old age of thirty-nine, many of us turn to desperate measures such as Botox and plastic surgery. Therefore, along with our shrinking self-image comes a multitude of other potential issues such as an increased risk for health problems and immobility.
Loss of mobility, which is common among older adults, has profound social, psychological, and physical consequences. “If you’re unable to get out then you can’t go shopping, you can’t go out with your friends to eat dinner or go to the movies, and you become dependent on other people to get you places. So you become a recluse, you stay home, you get depressed. With immobilization comes incontinence, because you can’t get to the bathroom, you can develop urinary infections, skin infections. The list goes on,” says geriatrician Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
The cascade of negative effects that comes with immobility can often be prevented or limited, according to a review in today’s JAMA. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked at dozens of mobility studies published over the years. They discovered common factors that lead to loss of mobility, such as older age, low physical activity, obesity, impaired strength and balance, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Less common red flags included symptoms of depression, problems with memory or thinking skills, being female, a recent hospitalization, drinking alcohol or smoking, and having feelings of helplessness. Individuals with one or more of these factors is at risk for immobility.
A greater risk of health issues and immobility reinforces the importance of optimizing your health as you get older. For this very reason, I’m fortunate to be employed in the health and fitness industry that requires me to stay active and make healthy food choices.
However, along with that comes a increased focus on body image by my peers and clients. It’s common to see images of young, muscular, fit people in health and fitness magazines, fitness infomercials, and television ads etc. Furthermore, most of my co-workers, and clients are in their early thirties and forties. Therefore I’ve begun to question how do I continue to work in the health and fitness industry at this stage of my life. How do I fight to keep up with a society that is consumed with youth, appearance, and selfies?
As a fitness instructor I constantly hear women comparing themselves to others, complaining about their age, scrutinizing their bodies, appearance, and fitness level. Over the years, I’ve seen many resort to plastic surgery for breast implants, liposuction, face lifts, and Botox. I on the other hand have decided against any nips, tucks, or enhancements. I know it’s crazy, but I’ve accepted that I’m getting older and I’m determined to age gracefully the “good old-fashioned way!”
At this stage in my life, I’m surprised that I find myself comfortable with my appearance, my body, and my fitness level. I actually have more self-confidence than I ever had in my 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. My goal is to simply age with style and grace. I plan to take care of myself by simply exercising and making healthy food choices.
Simply put, my goal is to promote healthy aging. I truly believe “age is just a number.” Your lifestyle, food choices, and activity level play a huge part in how you age. The picture below is a picture of me and my dad when I was in my thirties.
Now fast forward twenty years to my current picture below at the age of 58. Yes I have wrinkles around my eyes and I look older but that is a part of life. My point is that many people simply stop taking care of themselves as they get older. It’s typical to slow down once your children are gone and we transition from a busy work career and family life to empty nest and retirement. It’s this sedentary lifestyle and poor food choices that causes rapid aging, weight gain, and increased risk for disease.
Although many experts report that losing weight after forty will make you look older, the truth is weight gain makes you look older. Quite often as we age, weight accumulates in the mid section, which can put strain on the heart, muscles, and joints. Ultimately these lifestyle choices increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes. The key is to maintain a healthy stable weight as you age. It’s the yo-yo dieting and the drastic weight loss that causes the face to look drawn and appear more wrinkled.
So how do we maintain good health and a more youthful appearance as we age? How can we live life in our golden years without filters, Photoshop, and going under the knife? As much as we would like to believe in magic weight loss pills and procedures. There are no tricks; these methods don’t work.
We all age and no amount of liposuction, face-lift, Botox, or weight loss gimmicks are going to make us look twenty again. Learn to love yourself, your wrinkles, your age, and your life experience. The answer to aging with no filter is simple. All you have to do is work hard, eat right, and don’t give up.
This will be my last workout I’ll be teaching for 2018. How can I make it different than all the other workouts this year? I love to combine body weight, cardio intervals, and weight training into all my classes. So hear we go:
Make sure to warm up for 7- 8 minutes. Complete circuit 3-4 times. Take water breaks as needed and finish with final stretch. ENJOY!
Bear Crawl Push-up (12 reps)
2. Wall Sit With Bicep Curl (12 reps)
3. Alternating DB Reverse Lunge With Burpee (12 reps)
4. Burpee Wood Chop Tricep Extension (12 reps)
5. DB Clean And Press Row Combo (12 reps)
6. Standing DB Alternating Knee Crunches (12 reps)
Ditch the resolutions and start the new year off with an easy plan for success. Try my No Resolutions New Year Challenge that will help you improve your health and fitness level in thirty days.
Resolutions often fail because most people don’t fully understand the commitment required to create new habits. Change is often uncomfortable, and when things get hard, it’s easy to give up and revert back to old habits. However, adding small changes to your daily routine can lead to big results. Instead of setting unattainable resolutions for the new year, try this thirty-day challenge that works by adding small steps each week to get you on track to a healthier lifestyle.
Always check with your physician before starting any new diet or exercise program
Try to begin the challenge January 1st.Week one will start with two goals and you will add two new steps each week to help you create new healthy habits. At the end of the thirty days you should feel lighter, stronger, more energetic, and be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Hopefully by the end of the month you will continue some or all of the new habits you developed during the thirty days.
LET THIS NEW YEAR be your turning point to self care and better health! Let me know how you like it. LET’S BEGIN –
DRINK 20 oz of lemon water before breakfast, lunch, and your evening meal.
2. Add exercise each day by taking a brisk walk/ jog 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Or you can try this 15 minute workout video two times per day.
WEEK TWO (Continue week one goals and add these two goals to your daily routine)
Track your sugar grams and keep them under 30 grams per day
Add a green vegetable to your lunch and evening meal each day
WEEK THREE (Continue week one and two goals and add these additional goals to your daily routine)
Add 15 minutes of yoga to your calendar twice a week-