Well-researched: Your Body and Yoga

30 Jun

A new feature for the site arrives today! “Latest research show” is a common buzz phrase in the news… but how often is it something you can apply to or practically incorporate into your life?

I’m interested in the benefits of exercise, holistic health, complementary/alternative medicine and general wellness. There is a lot of not-so-great research that gets picked up and misinterpreted by media outlets. I want to combat this by interpreting findings fairly and in a meaningful manner. Length of these posts may vary, as sometimes there’s an abundance of fun things to share and review!

Other note… please leave a comment if you encounter something of interest you want covered or if you would like the actual article for an entry.


Click here to continue on to Well-Researched … Hatha Yoga and Energy Expenditures

Milk Mustache: Yes or No?

29 Jun

I must admit this little guy is cute.

Last week Two weeks ago (embarrassingly behind on my blog to-do posts) I posted some links about milk. I’m going to delve into my experiences with milk in the last couple of years, give you a little research to mull over and leave you to make your own conclusions. Or perhaps engage in your own experiment with the foods or liquids you consume.

For the last five years I’ve moved every 12-18 months due to school, work, etc. It took some time initially to adjust to the new environments and I’d have colds or allergy-like symptoms – nothing too serious. I noticed the same pattern when I moved to D.C. in 2008.  However, this time I felt more tired and the cold-like symptoms only worsened over time.

So… what’s a girl to do? I wanted to try to solve it myself before consulting a medical provider. I had a friend who had a holistic health provider help her identify foods she was allergic to and decided to proceed in a less formal manner. I did a little research on common allergens and compared the list to things I was eating. After knocking out meat for a couple of weeks, followed by nuts the symptoms did not diminish. I finally had to face the one I didn’t want to give up, dairy.

As a girl who grew up in the country, I had always been led to believe milk was essential for my health and development. It seemed contrary to defy this notion. I loved my morning cup of coffee with skim milk, string cheese and yogurt at lunch, a good tzatziki or charcuterie plate out… sampling cheese from the local grocer.

You get the picture. Dairy and I had encounters upwards of 4-5 times each day.

Back to the story… I found that for me dairy was the culprit. I’ve since eliminated milk from my diet and feel MUCH better. A little cheese occasionally, such as Parmesan, feta (both are strong cheeses and require a minimal amount for flavor) or goat versions of what I formerly loved. Milk is now solely almond milk and yogurt is infrequent and/or of the plain Greek variety. It’s been almost a year now since I stopped drinking milk, aside from the occasional cup of milk to aide me with the coffee that I can’t drink black. To be certain it was an aversion to dairy products I decided to “re-test” my dairy “wheys” (hee hee) a few weeks ago, for seven days. The exact same reactions and symptoms came back. Symptoms included slightly swollen eyes and an accumulation of mucus. Yuck.

There are many people out there who have had similar experiences. Here are just a few facts that make a compelling argument to not drink milk:

  • If you are of European descent you have a 9 in 10 chance of being lactose intolerant. 
  • Somewhat less than 40% of people in the world retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood. Other nationalities and ethnic groups that experience problems digesting milk: 5% of Asians, 25% of African and Caribbean peoples, and 50% of Mediterranean peoples.
  • No other species on earth continues to drink milk beyond its infancy. Calves stop drinking cow’s milk between the ages of six to eight months. Humans lose the ability to digest lactase, the sugar in milk, between the ages of two and five.
  • An overwhelming number of studies and research on milk are funded by the Dairy Council if you read the fine print (biased results?). The Dairy Council has an excellent marketing campaign to protect its interests ($$), not your health. 
  • Harvard School of Public Health, on the Consumption of Dairy Products (2005): “The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is another step in the wrong direction. … Three glasses of low-fat milk add more than 300 calories a day. This is a real issue for the millions of Americans who are trying to control their weight. What’s more, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and even small amounts of milk or dairy products give them stomachaches, gas, or other problems. This recommendation ignores the lack of evidence for a link between consumption of dairy products and prevention of osteoporosis. It also ignores the possible increases in risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer associated with dairy products.”
     

Now… the Dairy Council would gasp and ask the question “where will you get your calcium?”. I will respond with seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits. The recommended level of calcium for adults age 19 through 50 years is 1000 mg per day. That can easily be achieved through alternative dietary sources (see chart below), especially foods that have magnesium in them, which is an important counterpart to calcium in doing its “thang” on the cellular level. Sunshine’s Vitamin D – which isn’t a vitamin, but actually a hormone – additionally helps unlock calcium for use in the body.

If I ever find myself concerned with my calcium intake … which I’m not given my diet and lack of drinking calcium-leeching substances (i.e. soda) … I have no problem taking a calcium supplement. Calcium has other critical functions aside from maintaining a healthy skeletal system and should not be neglected. As a woman the issue of bone density is important over the span of a lifetime. Bonus: Exercise, specifically weight-bearing exercise, is a big help in maintaining your bone density!

And stemming from my readings on eating raw foods/whole foods I’ve been becoming more and more thankful to have parted ways with milk. It’s a food that RFDD recommends cutting out, especially the mass-produced varieties (Natalia Rose devotes 4-5 pages to explaining her views of dairy… leave me a note if you want the full explanation). Essentially the undigested parts of pastuerized milk stay in the body over time because you cannot fully break down the protein molecules in milk. The undigested proteins stick around and can create a “toxic” situation.

I’m happy to continue discussions via email or comments below. Do you have any food allergies? In particular… dairy? Have you cut anything out of your diet and felt better as a result? Let me know what’s on your mind – looking for some interesting discussion.

Rah, Rah, Ah, Ah, Ah… Raw-mance

28 Jun

I went Gaga… too late to go back now. “Raw, Raw, Ah-Ah-Ah”!

The snarky saying “you are what you eat” resonates in my mind when making food choices. It’s simple and it makes sense. Your body will give you it’s optimal best if you give it optimal fuel. After reading Natalia Rose’s Raw Food Detox Diet (RFDD) this thought and those associated with it are ever more present in my mind.

Disclaimer – I have not fully practiced her raw food diet. I will be doing so in September and documenting the journey.  I know it will challenge me in ways I cannot imagine at this time and I’m thrilled to have great resources, like RFDD, as guidance on this upcoming journey.

I’ve viewed numerous before-and-after photos and read stories of those who committed to raw and most people experience changes anyone would be thrilled to have as results. Clearer skin? More energy? Cravings for fruits and veggies instead of sweets and junk food? Check “yes” for all for me!! I wrote an overview and review of the plan.

Curious to know more about taking a journey to the raw side….?

Fit for the Road – Boston Edition!

27 Jun

Whirlwind Wedding Weekend has come to an end… Congrats to the newest Mr. & Mrs. in our family. Sneak peak of their first dance below. My brother’s wife has been dancing since she could walk (more or less!) and choreographed their first dance.

Yesterday began with an indoor cycling class (facilities can’t be called “Spinning” unless they pay for it), followed by hair, followed by all things wedding… ceremony, photos, reception and a night of calorie-burning booty shaking… a.k.a dancing. Today was a day of rest and travel to Boston.

I settled into a very cute, historic (tiny!) hotel for the next couple of days. First things first… checking in with a few work emails and then onto the very important tasks: finding out when I have time for fitness in my work travels. I try to stay at hotels with fitness facilities, but this was a very last minute travel decision and I took any hotel I could get in proximity to the conference… After realizing Hotel 140’s “gym” consisted of a mat and an elliptical in a small closet-like room it was time for Plan B!

Back to the room to (1) check the weather and (2) find a running route on MapMyFitness.com (3) and finding a nearby gym in the event of rain. Tomorrow will be a quick a.m. yoga to wake things up, 15 minute walk to the convention center and a running route, as pictured and linked below.

MapMyFitness is another handy tool that gives you multiple options for creating your workout and has the added feature of linking to multiple social networking accounts to share your fitness plans. Research shows keeps social networking can help keep you accountable to your plans. Tuesday is going to be an early, early workout… going to check out Revolution Fitness, which has a discount for hotel guests.

Body Pump class at 6:15 in the a.m. before heading to the final day of conference and an afternoon of exploring Boylston/Beacon Street area of Boston.

From Boston tomorrow… a review of Natalia Rose’s Raw Food Detox Diet.

P90/P90X Nutrition Review: Phase I

24 Jun

It’s X-treme… I’ve only watched 2 days of Tony Horton and his “ism’s” are already lodged into the recesses of my brain. I said I would do a little review on the diet and since I’m kind of on vacation/kind of working/kind of doing wedding stuff I’m going to keep it “lite” unless I receive any other comments or questions asking expand on the post. Email me if you don’t want to leave a comment (erin.haslag AT gmail.com).

There are two versions of P90. Take the “X” and go all out… or in my case, when I return to SoCal, simply drop the “X” and integrate more cardio. Cardio is my preferred method of exercise, but as I’m edging closer to the third decade of my life I’m feeling compelled to add more weights, agility and vary my exercises to keep my metabolism where it is (by having increased muscle mass). Listen up ladies, because muscle mass is the key to keeping your killer (or desired) figure.

Enough about the workouts – they’re tough from what I’ve watched. I’ll write more on that when I start the DVD series back at home. One thing I did start this week is the recommended nutrition plan that comes with P90X. This is an overview and review of the first phase ONLY. There are three phases total.

To make life easier, I put the meal plan into an online spreadsheet, so we can share it and not have to rely on flipping through the book for recipes. Simplify your life by taking a few steps of prep if you decide to do an overhaul on your diet.

Here’s a quick view (double-click for a larger view):

To see the recipes behind them, go to the link, and hover over the little triangles in the upper right corner:

Pros:

  • Lots of fresh fruits and veggies are encouraged
  • Snacks are encouraged between meals
  • Portion control (*note – aside from the sauces and dressings these recipes are 1 serving size)
  • No snacking after dinner
  • Cooking at home will be required (prep in advance when you can)
  • Lots of healthy fats are incorporated; fat-laden recipes are tweaked

Cons: 

  • This will be tough for someone who (1) doesn’t cook and (2) doesn’t eat very well to start with – you are, as Tony says, “cutting out the crap”. Not that I think that’s a bad thing… just saying it will take a considerable measure of willpower. 
  • Can be expensive – you’re buying lots of protein and giving your refrigerator a makeover.
  • A little high in the sodium & salt content – be mindful of how much you are using. Turkey bacon is recommended but I prefer to buy butcher-shop, preservative-free bacon for Ryan (I hate bacon… sorry all).
  • Not sure I would want to ingest all of the recommended protein. I like carbs to fuel me through cardio. I am leery of ingesting extracted things – I like to get goodness from whole food sources
  •  It can be vegetarian friendly, but it takes extra work to substitute the recommended protein sources

Bottom line: the meal plan is a solid base for healthy nutrition with a few tweaks. I wouldn’t follow it vis-a-vis. Make it work for you and your lifestyle – incorporate lots of fresh fruits, veggies and a solid blend of carbs and protein. These are your building blocks for muscle energy and repair. Fat has a little place in all of this, too, so don’t completely skimp out on it. And… do NOT skip breakfast! It’s essential for a healthy weight.

For us on modification meant finding something close to the recommended lunch meals – we don’t have the time to prep all of the food between crazy work and travel schedules. It provides the additional lesson of the importance of being conscientious when dining away from home.

That’s what I’ve got for now… check it out – email or comment with questions!

I’m off to run to a bike shop and check out some new cycling shoes 🙂 I’ve busted my Crank Brother/Shimano platform and cleat set one too many times…

Fit for the Road!

24 Jun

I was hoping to post this yesterday, but flights were delayed all around. Traveling to the midwest in the summer = prone to delays due to massive thunderstorms. Once I settled in for an extended layover I was in a battle for electrical outlet use with all the other delayed layover travelers.

I did not win this battle for outlet space.  But I did finish a great read, Three Cups of Tea. Check it out.

When traveling for non-work events (read=fun stuff) I treat myself to research… ahem… fitness magazines.

I must give much love to my youngest brother’s girl, Andria. We had a little chat about working out on the phone a couple of days ago and she invited me to partake in a little “P90X lite” and running when I’m back home. It is so much easier to stick with a plan when you have fit friends – throwback to the motivation entries! Even if we only get to work out together one day of this busy wedding weekend, that’s one day I wouldn’t have to try to go it alone.

Here are some other goodies I love to pack for the road:

  • Running shoes… which will double as “cycling shoes” on the road (I love checking out other cycling venues when I can!)
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Mini-workouts on the iPod/DVD transferred to the iPod
  • Jump rope (doubles as band for stretches and mini weights)
  • A few sets of work-out clothes – I rely on being able to wash ’em out so I can make it through with no extra bags. Let’s be honest, it’s really to make room fore more shoes.
  • Supplies on hand at my parent’s house – treadmill, mat, mini-Bosu disc & weights! 

There are also so many great resources for exercises online to keep you motivated… some of my favorites are:

  • Zuzana @ BodyRock.tv
  • ExerciseTV’s free, full-length workouts
  • Yoga Download – no visuals, but the descriptors for most of the workouts are great. I use this in home to supplement/offset the cost of taking yoga at studios in the area.

Is staying fit on the road important to you? What do you do? What do you bring? (Answer below!)

    When I return I will have this waiting for me! Squealing with elation on the inside! Only a little over a month until my “trainer-training”. Sign up now to be my practice clients!

    Almost Up, Off and Away!

    22 Jun

    I’ll be back to write a little more tonight, but ran across something that might be useful for traveling.

    If you’re planning to spend time in one of these in daylight hours…
    Wear some of this!

    Why? Airplane windows do not filter out UVA rays. At high altitudes UV rays are three times stronger than on the ground. Boarding a plane without sunscreen may not result in a nasty burn in the same way as spending the day outside, but your skin will thank you for a little extra protection when your are in flight. The same rules apply for your office windows, if you are lucky enough to have one!

    Also while flying – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Give your skin the chance to keep its moisture by providing it with hydration from the inside out. Especially while you’re in a closed environment. Many people also recommend lotions or moisturizers. I don’t love the feel of moisturizers, so I prefer to bring an empty 20 oz. or larger bottle of water through security and fill up on the other side. I also like to bring varieties of herbal tea for flights longer than 2 hours. Take a few extra steps when preparing for flights to feel well when you arrive at your destination!