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10 Tips to Not Gain Weight During the Holidays

Gaining weight over the holiday season from November through January is a long running tradition that doesn’t have to be in your future.  There are ways to stay on track and keep up the hard work that you’ve been doing throughout the year to lose and maintain the proper weight.  A couple of big meals needn’t completely throw you off track if you plan ahead and stay smart with your choices; here are 10 tips to help you stay svelte and healthy.

1. Keep track of what you eat by writing it down which makes you hold yourself more accountable for eaten items and also helps you to remember exactly what you ate.  Don’t skip putting down the samples that you noshed in the store or the glass of wine that you sipped while decorating the tree!  Every calorie counts.

2. Plan your meals ahead of time.  If you know that you love grandma’s famous sweet potato casserole swimming in butter, sugar, and marshmallows, allow yourself to have some but plan to only eat a little and keep the goal of loading up on other veggies in mind that are a bit more healthy.  By planning out the meal (such as thinking ahead to having a slice of turkey, three scoops of green beans, a dollop of dressing, and a spoon of sweet potato casserole) then you feel more empowered and have something to stick to, instead of just winging it and hoping for the best.  You can look up the calories in the planned foods ahead of time to really let you know where your goal intake should be.  Sparkpeople.com is a great resource to track calories.

3. Keep active!  Yes, running around shopping is a good way to burn calories, but also keep to a fitness schedule such as a workout dvd or 30 minutes on the elliptical.  This way you won’t feel so bad about an extra scoop of ice cream on top of Uncle Henry’s amazing 7-Up cake.  If super busy, write in exercise on your schedule like you would everything else that you are doing and then you may be better motivated to stick to your schedule if working out is actually IN the schedule.

4. Substitute in some low fat/low calorie ingredients to old family classics.  Test out the recipes before hand and see where corners could be cut and a bit of fat could be left out.  Most old school recipes that are passed down were not created with fitness and health in mind, such as creamy homemade frostings or rich home recipe side dishes, but some can be updated for a more health conscious mind-frame, like

5. Watch drink consumption!  This doesn’t mean just alcohol, but all drinks!  A lot of people count calories and completely forget to add in the yummy ginger ale punch from Aunt Ruth or the holiday cocktails that were consumed.  Another reason to keep alcohol consumption low is that when inebriated, you may decide to eat things that you wouldn’t have sober, such as a huge piece of cake because you are drunk and it’s in front of you.

6. Share the wealth!  If you find that there are too many tempting treats in your house at holiday time, take some to work or parties that you are invited to.  Someone gave you a box of chocolate to be kind, but you paying it forward by letting your coworkers intake some (most) of the box is a win win for everyone!

7. Pack healthy snacks while holiday shopping because being tempted towards an ooey-gooey Cinnabon is so easy when you haven’t eaten all day.  Instead, have trail mix, carrot sticks, or an apple in your purse so that you can still snack on something without throwing away all of your hard work.

8. Drink plenty of water so that you stay hydrated and also curb your appetite.  If you drink water before and during a meal, you are less likely to overeat because you will get full faster.

9. Refrain from skipping meals in order to save calories for a later feast where you overeat.  The body isn’t made for that gameplan, so it will only backfire by holding on to calories from a meal that it can’t use as fuel all at once because your metabolism is slow from not eating all day.

10. Slow down, savor the meal, enjoy the friends and family that you are surrounded by.  If you are busy talking and slowly eating to appreciate the full flavors, then you are allowing your body to know when it is full and has had enough.

Happy holidays!

Top 10 Vegetarian Recipes for The Holidays

Celebrating the holidays with vegetarian fare doesn’t have to mean only eating the green bean casserole with a bit of cranberry sauce on the side!  There are sumptuous eats that will make other guests forget that there is no meat involved and allow the vegetarians to feast along with everyone else on warm, hearty food for the holidays!  Here are some awesome recipes to bring to the Christmas table and start some new holiday eats traditions:

1. Baked Polenta with Asiago and Mushoom Sauce

Polenta:
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups polenta-style (coarse) corn meal
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese - divided use

Sauce:
1 (approximately 8-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 pound medium mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (16-ounce) jar fresh-style spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 cup chopped parsley

  1. For Polenta: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Bring the water to a boil; add the salt. Add the cornmeal slowly, stirring constantly. Cook, continuing to stir, until the polenta begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in half of the cheese.
  3. Pour into a buttered 8x8-inch baking pan. Bake until firm, about 35 minutes.* Cool for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese after 25 minutes. While the polenta bakes, make the sauce.
  4. For Sauce: Puree the peppers in a food processor or blender; reserve.
  5. Over high heat, brown the mushrooms in oil. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and reserve.
  6. In the same pan, place the reserved pepper sauce, spaghetti sauce, water, and rosemary. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved mushrooms and the parsley.
  7. To serve, cut the polenta into pieces; serve topped with the sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

2. Cheese and Spinach Soufflé Squares

3 tablespoons grated Wisconsin Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sour cream
7 large egg yolks
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Wisconsin Parmesan cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
7 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  1. Generously butter a 13x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over bottom of baking dish.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook and stir mixture until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream. Heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat again.
  3. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Stir 1/4 cup sauce into egg yolks. Stir yolk mixture back into sauce. Add cheeses, mixing until well-blended.
  4. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid. Stir into cheese mixture. Cover and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar; beat until stiff but not dry.
  6. Stir about 1 cup of egg whites into cheese mixture. Gently fold mixture into remaining egg whites.
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish.
  8. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

2. Deep-Fried Tofurky

1 Tofurky roast
2 Tbsp. melted margarine
3-4 Tbsp. Cajun or Creole seasoning
Peanut oil for frying

• Thaw the Tofurky according to package directions.
• Bake, covered in foil, in a 300°F oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and remove the foil.
• Spread with the margarine and sprinkle liberally with the seasoning. Fry in a deep fryer for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3. Vegetarian Lentil Loaf "Meatloaf" with Oats Recipe

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 10 minutes to prepare and 30-40 minutes to cook.
This version of Lentil Loaf is a classic. It's high in protein, yet free from soy. It is flavourful and has a lovely texture - this loaf is a perfect starter vegetarian dish. Appreciate lentil loaf for its unique taste - it doesn't try to copy the flavour of meat.
Because Vegetarian Meatloaf is smaller than a turkey, there is plenty of room left in the oven for roasting vegetable side dishes like sweet potatoes, turnip, or squash.
Ingredients:

  • 1 (19 oz.) can lentils, drained, rinsed, and slightly mashed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup rolled oats (quick or large flake)
  • ¾ cup grated old cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ – 2/3 cup spaghetti sauce or barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ – 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix lentils, onion, oats, and cheese in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the beaten egg and mix well.
  4. Add the sauce, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour/scrape the lentil mixture in. Even out the top surface with a spatula or fork.
  6. Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes or until top is golden and crispy.
  7. Let cool at least 5 minutes.
  8. Turn out onto serving platter and garnish with parsley, if desired.

4. Vegetable Lasagna

1 package (about 8 ounces) dry lasagna noodles
4 carrots (about 3/4 pounds total), cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 zucchini (about 1 pound total), cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each dry basil, dry thyme, and dry oregano
1 (30-ounce) jar marinara sauce
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 cups (12-ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a large pan, bring 3 quarts water to boil over high heat. Add noodles and carrots; cook for 6 minutes. Add zucchini; continue to cook until noodles are barely tender to bite, about 4 more minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Set noodles, carrots, and zucchini aside, keeping noodles and vegetables separate.
  2. In pan used to cook noodles, combine oil, onion, mushrooms, basil, thyme and oregano. Cook over high heat, stirring often, until onion is soft and liquid has evaporated, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in marinara sauce.
  3. In another small bowl, mix spinach and ricotta cheese.
  4. Spread a third of the sauce over bottom of a shallow 2 1/2 to 3-quart baking dish. Arrange half the noodles over sauce. Over noodles, evenly layer half each of the carrots, zucchini, spinach mixture and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate until next day, if desired.)
  6. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, uncovered, in a 400°F (205°C) oven until lasagna is bubbly and heated through, about 25 minutes. If refrigerated, bake, uncovered, in a 350°F (175°C) oven until bubbly and heated through, about 50 minutes.
  7. Let lasagna stand for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

5. Cream of Pumpkin Soup Topped with Curried Pecans

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
PREPARATION
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion. Cover and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the curry powder and the pumpkin puree, then whisk in the broth until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to develop, stirring occasionally.
2. While the soup is simmering, make the curried pecans. In a small bowl, combine the pecan pieces with the remaining maple syrup and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining curry powder, tossing to coat. Place the pecans in a small baking dish and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot. Otherwise, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Stir back into the pot. Return the soup to the stovetop, turning the heat to low. Whisk in the coconut milk, taste to adjust seasonings. Heat until hot, do not boil. Serve the soup garnished with the pecans.

6. Citrusy Root Vegetable Puree

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds celery root (celeriac), trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 lemon
1 orange
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 teaspoon salt
PREPARATION
1. In covered 4-quart saucepan, place celery root, carrots, parsnips, garlic, and enough water to cover; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 to 18 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Drain vegetables in colander.
2. Meanwhile, from lemon, squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. From orange, with zester, remove as many slivers of peel as possible for garnish; squeeze 2 tablespoons juice.
3. In batches, transfer vegetables to food processor with knife blade attached; puree until smooth. Return puree to same saucepan. Stir in lemon and orange juices, margarine, and salt; reheat. (If you prefer a chunky texture, return vegetables to same saucepan after draining and mash with potato masher until desired consistency.)
4. To serve, spoon puree into serving bowl; garnish with orange-peel slivers.

7. Basmati Rice Pudding

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup white basmati rice
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 1/2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 slightly heaping tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of fine sea salt
PREPARATION
1. Combine 1 1/2 cups water, the rice, and the salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over very low heat 8 to 9 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. Check frequently and stir to make sure it doesn't stick. Add 3 1/2 cups of the soy milk and the sugar. Continue simmering on very low heat for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is soft and most of the milk absorbed. You want a spongy texture, with no bite. Remove the rice from the heat.
2. Pour 1/4 cup of the remaining soy milk into a bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to dissolve. Add the vanilla extract and cardamom. Pour the cornstarch-milk mixture along with the remaining 3/4 cup soy milk into the hot pudding and stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

8. Carrot Pistachio Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 cups chopped pistachios
4 large organic eggs
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup organic milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
PREPARATION
1. Make the batter: Heat oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line an 8-cup muffin pan and set aside. Combine the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a large bowl. Toss the carrots, apricots, and nuts in the flour mixture and set aside. Whisk together the eggs, olive oil, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and add to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Transfer 3 cups of batter to each cake pan and 1/4 cup batter to each cupcake liner. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - about 40 minutes for cakes and 20 minutes for cupcakes. Cool cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Release cakes from pans and cool completely on the rack. If freezing, skip to Step 2. Frost with your favorite icing.
2.To freeze: Double-wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap or place each one in a large resealable plastic bag, removing excess air. Place cupcakes in a plastic container with an airtight lid and freeze for up to 2 months.

9. Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium mushroom broth
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and small dice
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and small dice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 cup whole milk

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, wine, tomato paste, and flour until evenly combined and smooth. Stir in dried mushrooms and set aside to reconstitute, at least 30 minutes. Strainmushrooms before using, reserving liquid.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with heavily salted water by 2 inches. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven on broil and place a rack in the upper third. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 3 to 4-quart Dutch oven (or oven-ready saucepan) over medium-high heat. When it foams, add half the mushrooms and cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside. Repeat to cook off remaining mushrooms.

Return pan to stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add celery root, carrot, parsnip, andherbs, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until browned and softened, about 6 minutes.

Add wine mixture to pan and deglaze by stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Let cook until simmering and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved mushrooms and any juices that have accumulated and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in pan.

When potatoes are ready, drain well. Return to pan and mash until uniformly smooth. Fold in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and milk, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If necessary, keep warm over low heat.

Dot potatoes over vegetable mixture and spread to edges of pan to cover completely. Rough up the surface of the potatoes so there are bits that will get browned and crunchy. Bake until top is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

10. Tofu Peanut Butter Pie

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces soft (silken) tofu
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pre-made pie crust

Preparation:

Combine the tofu, peanut butter, sugar, soy milk and vanilla in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Spoon into the pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve.

We hope that you and your family enjoy the yummy treats shown here today!  Happy holidays and eat well.

6 No-No’s of Dieting

Weight loss is an ever present goal for many people and with that goal in mind, they fall into fad diets, yo-yo diets, healthy lifestyle changes, and many other means to reach that end.  On the road to losing weight, there are certain dieting no-nos that will be detrimental to achieving long-term weightloss and health.  Wonder just what those no-nos are?

  1. NO mindless snacking - people often eat absentmindedly in front of the television or computer and it adds up to over eating!  Snacking without paying attention can equal devouring an entire bag of chips when only 1/4th of the bag was the caloric goal.  As well, eating without hunger as the motivation can wreak havoc on a diet. Bored eating or emotional eating will lead to weight gain instead of loss.
  2. NO sabotage/Have the right team of support for your diet - friends and family around you that will encourage your efforts and won’t sabotage what you are doing.  The right team will try and workout with you, keep an eye on your snacking or “bad foods” intake, and applaud when you reach goals!
  3. NO out of control proportions - when dining out, have the restaurant pack up half of the meal before it even comes to you because proportions at restaurants are too large these days.  Make sure that the dining plates at your own home are small/medium in size so that you don’t overeat and have half of the plate be vegetables.
  4. NO unrealistically strict diet plans - you won’t stick to your diet or make the needed LIFESTYLE changes if you build up a diet that is impossible to maintain.  Figure out a plan that works for your life and then stick to it, with sporadic treats so that you aren’t mentally miserable on the mission to healthy living.
  5. NO starving yourself - trying to starve for weight loss will have the opposite effect and make you gain more rapidly once normal eating commences and your body will hold on to any food.  Keep snacks such as baby carrots, trail mix, celery sticks, peanut butter and crackers, or other healthy treats with you to munch on through out the day.
  6. NO giving up - it didn’t take a month to gain the weight so don’t beat yourself up if it takes more than a month to lose it.  Realistic goals will be key to ensuring that you can go the distance with your diet plan.  Know that you’ll have to workout, you will have to change your eating habits, but most importantly, you’ll have to change your mindset.  Slipping up every now and again is inevitable, but get back on track and your svelte healthy figure will be an amazing reward!

Immune System Booster Foods

With the changing of the seasons from warm summer to cool fall and cold winter, comes the chance for the flu and other sicknesses to create havoc in your body.  Pumping up the immune system with foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants are the best way to fight off colds, protect your body from the flu, and stay your healthy self throughout the season.  Here’s a listing of our top 10 immunity boosting foods that will help you to power through:

1. Oranges...

Are mother nature’s power fruit!  They are rich in immunity boosting vitamin c, potassium, vitamin B6, and flavonoids.

2. Carrots...

are a super helpful vegetable that build up infection fighting cells within the body because of beta carotene.  Not only will they help guard against colds and the flu, eating carrots often can protect against cancer!  They stimulate macrophages which makes it produce a cancer fighting agent.

3. Garlic...

Doesn’t just ward off vampires, it wards off illness too!  The garlic juice has amazing immunity boosting qualities, so have plenty of pasta and soups loaded with garlic and a side of garlic bread.

4. Pasta & Bread...

Wait, what? Yes, speaking of pasta and bread, many grains contain vitamin E that will boost your system's defenses.

5. Broccoli...

Your mom was right when she told you to eat your Broccoli, it really does help immensely with the immune system and can be added to many dishes from salads to omelets.

6. Fat Free Yogurt...

When eaten daily, it can supply your system with a fighting squad of live bacterias and immune boosting nutrients to get you through the cold season.  The vitamin D that it contains can knock a cold right out.

7. Almonds...

They are a great snack to help build up your immunity.  They contain zinc and proteins which will help to fight infection through the white blood cells.

8. 100% Fruit Juice...

Drinking 100% fruit juice will also give you the nutrients that your body needs and makes a great alternative to sodas.

9. Flax seed oil...

It has omega-3 which the body’s immune system loves.  This can be added to oatmeal or smoothies.

10. Ginger root...

It is fabulous not only in cocktails, but also if you have unfortunately come down with a cold. Ginger kick-starts sweating and lowers feelings of nausea.

There you are, the complete arsenal of foods to have that will get you through the flu season.  Keep hand sanitizer around and healthy foods in your belly and you just may achieve a sickness free winter!

Can Back Pain Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Men suffering from both back pain and erectile dysfunction may be surprised to find out that the back pain could be CAUSING the erectile dysfunction.  Our bodies are a complex infrastructure of connected parts that can either work fluidly together or cease to function properly when one area is affected.  Erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of other areas of concern and we’ll touch upon the effect that back pain and medications can have in causing this problem.

The process of getting an erection begins when something sexually stimulating impacts the senses, making the muscles of the penis relax and blood flow increase to the area which then pushes against the veins carrying blood out so that they are blocked and thus an erection is created.  Erectile dysfunction is then usually caused by blood flow being disrupted, slowed, or hindered through out the body.

Back issues can cause erectile dysfunction when nerves or veins are pinched, leading to lessened blood flow to the pelvic area.  Many men who have had a car accident or work injury affecting the back or pelvis region then found themselves facing erectile dysfunction.  When this correlation was first discovered, treating the back injuries was found to cure the erectile dysfunction at the same time.

Exercises that are meant to strengthen weakened muscles and increase blood flow will also help overall health as well as erectile health, so a regimen that includes yoga, therapeutic massage, and normal gym cardio workouts will help.  So, if you have back pain and are experiencing erectile issues at the same time, talk with your doctor (or if you live in Chicago, contact our Chicago physical therapy clinic), so that you can be properly diagnosed and appropriate treatment can be administered.

Impotence is needn’t be a hindrance to a full and happy sex life.  Treating the cause for the problem will lead to a cure for the symptom, so have your back checked and work on leading a healthy lifestyle full of nutritious foods and exercise.

6 (non-creepy) Types of Self-Massage To Do at Work

Work can often be a stressful activity and lessen our productivity throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a personal masseuse to knead the kinks and help us relax? Well we do, ourselves! There are a number of tricks for stress relief that we can execute with our own two hands right in the office. Here are six amazing tips that will not only boost your mental energy but will leave your body in utter peace.

Pitter Patter

Ball up your hands into fists and gently bump your arms and legs. Work from the top of the limb to the bottom. When you’re done, move on to the torso. Repeat the same bumping action, only this time, go from bottom to top. Pitter-pattering the body will increase blood flow and help you to relax. This is a great massage to do when you wake up in the morning because it will energize you and kick start your day.

Belly Rub

Most of us do this anyway, but when you have finished your meal, give yourself a belly rub. Open your palms wide and rub in a clockwise motion. This will help you to digest your food and save energy.

Hand Massage

Massage your hands with lotion. Begin by kneading the muscles at the bottom of your palm with your opposite thumb. Then move to the big muscle where your thumb connects, but be gentle here (this area should be particularly satisfying to massage). After that target the middle of your palm. And to finish it off, give a gentle pinch to all the webbings in your fingers.

Football

Another great way to relieve stress is to target your feet. All you need for this massage is a tennis ball. Take your shoe off and place the ball under the arch of your foot. Apply pressure and roll it around to help stretch out those muscles. Then, move the ball to your heels continuing that circular motion. Last but not least, place the ball under your toes and roll the ball side to side.

Neck Knead

Use your hands to massage the back of your neck. Gently knead those muscles on either side of the spinal column with the heels of your hands. One at a time, rub the muscles on both sides of the neck just below the skull (just in back of your jaw) with your fingers. When massaging the left side, use your right hand and visa versa. This should feel like you are on cloud nine.

Face Time

Another way to relieve stress is to concentrate on certain areas of the face. Start at the bridge of your nose. Use your index fingers to press slowly across your brow line. Repeat this step about ten times. Then, move to you temples. With both your index and middle finger, execute a clockwise circular motion (this one is great for head aches too). Lastly, find the muscles at the corners of your jaw and give them a firm rub down.

Practice these non-creepy self-massage techniques and you will see your energy levels rise (along with your productivity).

Best Sports for Your Child: By Age

Athletic prowess knows no age limit and some children are born athletes, full of energy and practically running a mile with ease barely after learning how to walk.  For those children, parents may become excited at the prospect of having their kids involved in sports, but there are certain age-related factors to consider and different types of activities that will be appropriate according to what age the child is.

Toddlers (1-5)

Energy seems boundless for little ones in this age group!  Jumping, playing, dancing are all fun activities that they enjoy and can’t seem to get enough of.  Actual organized sports at this age can be impractical because the mental attention span simply isn’t always there, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t do athletic activities and put all of that energy to good use!  The best things to get them involved in at this period would be dancing, tumbling, running/racing, climbing on things, and well supervised water fun.

Kids and Preteens (6-12)

Now they can understand the tenets of teamwork and more easily get the concept of structured play and cooperation.  Most sports, done safely and with proper equipment, are an option for kids to play.  Great team games like soccer, basketball, softball are fun to learn how to be a part of a team and cooperate with others, while sports like martial arts, tennis, gymnastics, and golf can teach coordination and discipline.

Teenagers

Teenagers and up of course can participate in all sports if it appeals to them.  There are now even video games such as the Wii Fitness System that will let them combine their love of video games with getting healthy and playing sports!  Biking, hiking, jogging, team sports, and swimming are worthy ideas to get your teenager out of the house and onto being active!  Join them in a game of touch football or ride bikes together to have a great time of family fun.

How to Control Weight During Pregnancy

Gaining weight is completely normal for women during a healthy pregnancy, however excessive weight gain may not be healthy for either you or your little one. This article will focus on ways how to control your weight during pregnancy in a healthy way.

It has been estimated that the average woman gains 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy (this number varies for women who were over or under weight before pregnancy). While nutritional intake naturally increases during pregnancy, women shouldn’t be taking in more calories; 1,800 calories a day is sufficient. Rather, they should be consuming more nutrients. For a healthy baby and a healthy mother, implement this list of food groups and recommended examples into your diet.

Protein…

Is vital for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women are recommended to eat four servings of protein a day. Recommended sources of protein include, 1 egg white, or a 4 oz. piece of chicken or lean steak. Eating high protein foods will not only regulate blood sugar but it will curb your appetite.

Calcium…

Is also a necessary nutrient for pregnant women. Milk, cheese and yogurt are all excellent sources of calcium. If for any reason you don’t eat milk products, then soy and rice milks may be suitable substitutes.

Fruits and Vegetables…

Are absolutely essential as well. It is recommended that carrying women eat 3 to 5 servings of vegetables a day and 3 servings of fruit a day. Broccoli, spinach and other green vegetables are especially good. Also, citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits and are healthy for the baby and the mother.

Fiber…

Is an excellent addition to an expectant mother’s diet. Pregnant women often suffer from slow digestion, which allows fats to be absorbed more easily. Consuming high fiber foods will help you digest your foods more rapidly.

Water…

About eight glasses a day will make you feel better by giving you more energy and depleting your appetite. Try not to drink water out of plastic bottles, but at least for the duration of the pregnancy make it a habit to buy spring water in glass bottles.

Food cravings are completely normal during pregnancy and sometimes it’s completely fine to indulge. However, needless to say, the baby is the priority, so you owe it to her or him to eat healthy because what you eat, they eat. So, eat right and you will not only have a healthy, happy baby but you will have a healthy, happy self.

A Secret to Burning Calories You Will Love

Humans are social beings who enjoy the love and affection of one another.  Part of this socialization includes the act of having sex, which not only feels great but also has the added benefits of being healthy for you and a bit of a workout.  It is an activity that fully engages all of the muscle groups as well as inner workings such as breathing and endorphins; find out below how weekly sexual activity can prolong your health for a better life.

An interesting fact is that around 300 calories an hour can be burned while having sex, sure beats a lot of other workout activities!  While not a complete substitute for other types of fitness, it helps to get the heart going and the breathing heavy for more oxygen flow and great circulation.  The endorphins released carry tides of well-being throughout your system and can help keep you well or heal a headache/migraine.  Doing the deed three times a week could ward off strokes later in life and heart attacks as well!  For men, the chances of prostate cancer goes down with ample activity so that is something to keep in mind.

Studies have shown that sex with a loved partner multiple times a week benefits both mental and physical health while adulterous sex can up the chances for a stroke, perhaps because of the added stress of being caught.  The close connection of stable lovers feeds into the social nature of human beings and the desire to feel connected and close.

New lovers often have intense passion for one another and the increase in sexual activity can help to shed pounds.  Rigorous love-making can burn upwards of 150 calories plus every half hour so making time in the schedule for a passionate coupling can have more benefits than cons.  Switching up positions engages different muscle groups and keeps the magic alive, making sex the exercise that you don’t have to become bored with and therefore will do often enough for it to count as a great form of exercise.  Be creative with your lover and not only will they stay interested, you can prolong your good health.

Secrets to Great Abs

What many don’t know about great abs is that each and every one of us already has a six-pack. The secret is uncovering your abdominal muscle from a blanket of fat. One thousand crunches a day will not get you the results that you want if you have high body fat. Toned abdominal muscles are a product of balanced nutrition and a strict workout regiment. This analysis will provide both nutrition and exercise tips so that you can kick start a healthier, happier, more confident lifestyle.

Diet

The first key to a tight abdominal region is a healthy diet. For men, it’s especially hard to achieve abs definition because the belly area is the first place that fat gets stored and the last place that fat gets burned. However, if you change your diet, wonderful things can happen. The key here is a combination of healthy foods and caloric deficit. A caloric deficit, in basic terms, is when you are burning more calories than you are taking in. When that happens, your body starts utilizing energy storage that is already available in your body, that energy storage is fat. Of course, you need to consult your physician before taking any drastic measures, but carefully reducing your calorie intake for a limited amount of time can work wonders.

How to Change Your Diet

Remember to spread your caloric intake to 4 to 6 meals a day rather than 2 to 3. Spacing out meals in smaller portions regulates blood sugar. Large meals cause blood sugar to spike which leads to more fat storage. With an elongated meal schedule you should be eating small portions. For example healthy daily diet could include oatmeal in the morning, 2 pieces of fruit at mid morning, a salad with tuna at lunch, a salad with chicken and a piece of fruit at mid afternoon, and chicken breast and potatoes for dinner. A diet like this ensures the necessities - a lean protein source like egg whites and chicken breast and natural carbohydrates such as vegetables, potatoes and brown rice. It’s important to remember to avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour and white sugar. And lastly, about a gallon of water daily is necessary for any active person.

Exercise

The second key to toned abs is exercise. Maximum fat burning is achieved when you combine cardio training with weight training. It is recommended that you engage in 20 to 45 minutes of cardio 4 to 7 days a week. Effective cardio workouts include, running, biking, rowing, stair climbing or aerobics. In fact almost any exercise that raises your heartbeat and makes you sweat will burn carbohydrates and diminish fat. Also, like all muscles in the body, there are methods of targeting your abdominals to strengthen and tone the area. A few recommended exercises include hanging leg raises, hanging knee ups, weighted Swiss ball crunches and incline bench reverse crunches. All of these exercises should be done in 3 sets, 15-20 repetitions, 2 days a week.

Increasing the number of daily meals, eating healthy foods in small portions, and engaging in exercise through cardio and abdominal work outs will lead to reductuilow body fat.  So all you non-believers out there, I’m here to tell you the research doesn’t lie. Everyone has a set of chiseled abs in them somewhere. Just remember to stick to the regiment and you too will achieve your goal.

Workouts for Great Abs

Abs Exercises

Superset A:

A1 Hanging leg raises - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

A2 Hanging knee ups (bent-knee leg raises) - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

(no rest between exercises within supersets A1 & A2, 60 sec between supersets)

Superset B:

B1 Weighted swiss ball crunches (or weighted cable crunches) - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

B2 Incline Bench Reverse crunches - 3 sets, 15-20 reps

(no rest between exercises within supersets B1 & B2, 60 sec between supersets)

Calorie-Burning Exercises

Monday: back & chest - wide grip pull downs 4 sets of 6 - flat bench press 4 sets of 6 - low cable rows 4 sets of 6 - inclined bench press 4 sets of 6

Tuesday: shoulders and arms - military press 4 sets of 6 - dips 4 sets of failure - barbells 4 sets of 6

Wednesday: legs - squats 4 sets of 6 - leg curls 4 sets of 6 - leg extensions 4 sets of 6 - Repeat cycle with Sunday rest day

Cardio

Cardio 4 to 7 days per week for about 30 to 45 minutes a day.

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