Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for November, 2012

It’s a Good Thing

We celebrated Christmas early, and my son and future daughter in law got us the coolest gift. I see from a bit of a web search that I’m not the only one who is enamored with it. It’s called “Yonanas” and it is a kitchen appliance that turns frozen fruit into an ice cream textured confection.

yonanas  machine

This is the coolest thing!

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I have a spouse who doesn’t share my love of healthy eating. He loves his ice cream beyond reason. I’ve been trying to wean him off it somehow, and up until now could not find an acceptable substitute. The Yonanas made such an impression on him that he went out and bought bananas himself, and they aren’t his favorite fruit. So far we’ve just used bananas and strawberries. I guess there’s recipes, but we haven’t got that far. The texture is amazing, I’d almost say better than ice cream, and while you are stuck with the flavor of fruit, it doesn’t mean you can’t add chocolate, peanut butter or other flavors to it. It isn’t too difficult to use or clean, so in the words of Channel 2, it’s two thumbs up. Anything that gets more fruit and veggies, versus sugar and junk, is good in my eyes.

In Praise of Pumpkin

Pumpkins are a super food. They probably won’t make a list as such, but 100 gr. only has 26 caloriesbeautiful orange pumpkin. They are high in fiber, vitamins a, c and e. Plus, they taste so good, even people who “hate vegetables” will eat them. If you are trying to lose weight, they can your best friend. If you want to talk about hunger in the world, they are prolific and one good sized pumpkin can produce 8 cups of food. Even the seeds make a tasty, healthy snack.

I just got one from a friend, and that’s what prompted this blog. I quartered it, put it in a pan with some water in the bottom and baked it in the oven at 350 until the skin darkened and the flesh was soft. I can’t recommend a time, since they vary so much in size, but I would say about an hour. Then I scooped all the flesh out and threw away the skin, into my garden for  compost. I also scooped out the seeds and put them in a shallow pan. I have an oven over my fireplace, so I dried and toasted them there, with some olive oil and salt. This was a decorative pumpkin. They aren’t supposed to be as flavorful as pie pumpkins, but it tastes great to me. I would recommend pureeing them before eating, if you are used to canned. I was surprised at how close to spaghetti squash the texture was.

First, I pureed some and added it to vanilla ice cream with some of the traditional pumpkin spices, to make a lower calorie desert. Very tasty. I added some to my oatmeal this morning, along with some molasses and spices. Pumpkin is not overwhelming, so you can add it to a variety of things. If you live with people who are used to you trying to make everything healthier, and very suspicious, this isn’t kale, it won’t turn your food green, and it doesn’t announce itself.  You can sneak it into the meatloaf, oatmeal, and spaghetti sauce. You can serve it openly in breads, cakes pies and puddings. It can go savory as well. You can make soup, or stew out of it. You can use it in place of the oil in cake and cookie recipes. You can serve it by itself, either with salt and butter, maybe some sage, or go sweet and add brown sugar and cinnamon. How about a pumpkin smoothie? Just take some pumpkin, milk, molasses and pie spice, and there you go. Add your protein powder and you are all set.

Ok, so could I torture you with all this talk about pumpkin and not throw in some recipes?

Here’s one from my daughter:

Turkey Meatloaf in a Pumpkin
serves 2-4
One 6-inch pie pumpkin (regular pumpkin)
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (I used about 1/4 c minced dried onion because i wanted to use it up)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 small Granny smith apple, chopped (I used half a fuji apple b/c that’s what i had on hand)
1 pound ground turkey (1 lb ground beef)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (1/2 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried cranberries (raisins)
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut a lid off the top of the pumpkin in a zigzag pattern. Clean pumpkin of seeds and stringy interior, replace the lid, and bake on a roasting dish or deep baking sheet for 1 hour in about 1 inch of water. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool. Once cool, coat the inside with the mustard and brown sugar. (Here I just used half of a regular pumpkin. no zigzags 🙂 and i saved the seeds for toasting today.  YUM! )
While the pumpkin is baking, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery and apple (and raisins) and cook until just softened. Remove the skillet from heat and combine its contents with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
Stuff the meatloaf mixture into the pumpkin, leaving an inch of space at the top (I didn’t leave any space on top, in fact, my meat was overflowing out of the pumpkin) . Place the lid on top (Since i didn’t have a pumpkin lid, i used the roaster lid to cover it) and bake at 400°F for 1 hour.
Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
And here’s mine:

Baked pureed pumpkin in a dishPumpkin bake

2 cups pumpkin
1-2T whole wheat flour
1 egg
2T molasses
2T brown sugar
1/2-1 C. milk ( I don’t measure, I just eyeball it)
1 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. each of cloves, allspice and nutmeg. You could also add cardamom and mace, if you like. or just add a hearty teaspoon of pumpkin or apple pie spice.
If you aren’t using canned pumpkin, I would puree the pumpkin first, then mix all the ingredients together. I only made this mildly sweet to be a side dish, but you can increase the sugar/molasses and make it into a desert.
Anyway, bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes till the top darkens. It won’t get too set, it has a pudding consistency.
There you go, one sweet, one savory. Oh, here’s one more for the super healthy, Pumpkin pie Quinoa casserole. Bon appetit!

Exercise-Too Much?

exhausted exerciser

acutely tired is good, chronically tired isn’t.

Don’t exercise more than 2 hours a day- it’s fruitless and possibly harmful.

Most people I know will never be in danger of exercising too much. However, there is a small percentage of people that go overboard. I know a few of them, I can even be one of them at times. There is something called “overtraining”, or overtraining syndrome. It is when you exercise so much that you stop seeing gains, and start seeing negative results- not sleeping well, feeling like you have a cold or flu coming on, getting sick more often, being tired and lethargic, anxious or irritable during the day.

Exercise if vitally important to our well being. I’ve often talked about all the benefits, from the most important-not dying, down to better sleep, better weight, better mobility, better everything. However, as with every other aspect in life, you can overdo it. Most of the people who overdo it are athletes. Most of us would never think to exercise, vigorously and intensely, for more than an hour a day. Training for a Marathon is one example. Elite runners often run for hours every day, up to 6 on the weekend, but they are at greater risk of dying early than the normal population, unlike the 5k’r.  Often, they will have a long recovery period following their season, so rather than take their recovery on a weekly basis, it is more on a seasonal basis.

With resistance training there is an even greater need for recover time.  While you are exercising you are stressing, damaging and tearing down your muscles. During your rest times they are getting built back up, better than ever. Sort of like remodeling your house. You can do more aerobic exercise than you can resistance, because it isn’t tearing your muscles down to the same extant, so you don’t need the same recovery. How often have you been so sore you couldn’t sit down after running? With aerobic exercise you are just doing what your muscles are used to doing, only for a longer period of time.  The general consensus is that you shouldn’t lift every day. For lifting, I would say two hours, 3-4 days a week would be max for most people. Often, lifters will do aerobics on their “off” days, which is fine. I have found at my age, I need at least 2 days totally off. Of course, this is based on doing serious resistance training- where you are using 70-80% of your 1 rep max, and increasing the resistance as you progress. For the uninitiated, this means using a level of resistance where you can’t do more than 10-12 reps, usually in sets of 2-3, with rest between each set. If you can do 20 reps, you need to increase the weight.

This is one of those things that is rather individual. Some people can get away with a lot more training than others. If you are young, healthy, and have been doing your sport/chosen exercise for awhile, you can probably ignore the threat of overtraining for some time. However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, back off and see if it improves. It can also be provisional- If you have a lot of other stress in your life, or are very active outside the gym, you may need to cut back in the gym.

No, for the less than enthusiastic exercisers out there who may be reading this saying, “Oh, that must be me, I’ll back off for awhile”, the minimum amount of exercise to see benefits is 150 minutes a week. That means 30 minutes 5 days a week of moderate exercise.  There’s a world of difference between that and 420 minutes of vigorous exercise. I feel odd cautioning against overtraining, considering I spend most of my effort trying to get people to move at all. However, I’ve met some seriously overtrained people, and they aren’t getting spectacular results, and that prompted this post. So play hard, as hard as you can, then REST.

Why You May Benefit From a Personal Trainer

I know, I know, it sounds self serving, since I am a personal trainer. However, I didn’t just become one because I thought it was a great career move, a became one since I am convinced that taking care of your physical health is crucial to your well being, and that while there is a plethora of information out there, many people are not selecting and implementing the information in their daily lives. In other words, people are not taking care of themselves. Here is an example: If you have a bad back, are you doing back exercises? If you have bad knees, are you strengthening your quads and hamstrings?

I wanted to make a fancy tree diagram, but I don’t have time for that sort of fluff right now. So here it is in simple terms.

  1. Are you currently working out?
    No- You will benefit from direction and information. It is better to have a plan than to randomly shoot in the dark.
    Yes- Do you have a goal and a plan how to get there?
  2. Are you happy with your body?
    Yes- Is your current routine going to be sufficient for the long haul? Are you healthy and strong?
    No- ‘Nuff said.
  3. Do you have any health issues?
    Yes- Are these preventing you from exercising? Are you making excuses or could you benefit from a thoughtful analysis offering you alternative exercises that you could do, or that could even combat your health problems?
    No- Great! Are you doing the basic maintenance to not have health issues in the future?

Most experts agree that 150 minutes a week of moderately vigorous physical activity are optimal. Are you currently doing this amount? Physical fitness is made up of muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance and flexibility. Does your current program address all of these? Are you making allowances for muscular adaptation, changing up your program to counteract it?

A personal trainer can design a program to account for all these factors, making the ongoing changes as you strengthen and grow. Now, if you absolutely refuse, then I would strongly suggest getting some good books, and carefully winnowing through the online information to find the nuggets of truth in the sea of misinformation. If nothing else, take a few classes of different types, finding things to challenge you and broaden your experience. Find a knowledgeable, trustworthy source somewhere and get educated. Of course, this goes back to my pet peeve, since we have mandated health and gym classes in school. Everyone should know this stuff.

Some Thoughts on Sandy

a block of destroyed homes

Is anything going to make this better, anytime soon?

It is truly horrible to see the devastation that Sandy has caused. As with so many disasters, the misery and horror go on long after the water recedes. As we hear of the shortages of basic necessities, the complaints and accusations mount. There will always be those who prey on others in a situation like this. However, I know that most people want to help, are trying to help, are doing what they can to help. I have a few thoughts on the situation.

First, I think that there is nothing that people can do that is sufficient in the face of such adversity. You can’t send tons of people in who will need the same resources, that is, food, water and shelter, as the people they are trying to help. In this case, you can’t get anything in that takes more than a tank of gas to get there, since there is no gas due to the power outages. Right now, the only people who should be there are locals and power company workers. Food and water needs to get places, but realistically, it seems it would be better to get the people to the shelters, at least until power and gas is restored. You can’t be driving around delivering these things with no gas.

I remember the anger of the Katrina victims, echoing the same sentiments. I just don’t think we will ever get so good at dealing with natural disasters that there won’t be extreme hardships for weeks or even months after such an occurrence. I did hear one comment by a tv personality who lived in New York, that he was staying with a friend, “until they cleaned up his neighborhood.” I don’t know who “they” are, but he was an able bodied man, shouldn’t some of that be the responsibility of those who live in the area? When the October surprise hit here in Western New York, every man who could wield a chain saw was out helping himself and his neighbor. I realize the elderly and frail can’t do these sorts of things, and it does seem, at least in the city itself that they have been hit the hardest.

I guess I’m saying, I don’t have any answers, other than blaming and screaming doesn’t make anything better. Of course, if you’re in that situation and you feel helpless, maybe all you can do is yell. I do think that we should all take it upon ourselves, and as part of our communities to plan for ourselves what we would do. Do you keep any water in your house? Do you have a generator? What would you do with no power for a week? Do you have someone you could stay with? What if the roads are closed? You can’t live in a perpetual state of paranoia, but a complete lack of planning is why these disasters are so bad. Did no one think about the fact gas pumps need electricity? At least there was a mandatory evacuation order. Wherever you live, if they say it, do it. Especially if you are less able to care for yourself. If you don’t think you could go live in the wilderness with an ax and a match- get the heck out early. All we really gotten good at is forecasting. So, if they say the storm of the century is bearing down on you, either get gas and water now, or get out. But either way, there will be pain involved, and it will cost money and take time to clean up.

Just to ride my personal hobby horse for a moment- this is also why I am so determined to see people get in shape. You can’t haul the debris to the curb, cut the limbs with a chainsaw, or save yourself from an ebb tide if you are not in shape. Please don’t make yourself into a victim by how you live now. Maybe you’ll never need to hang onto branch to prevent the flood from carrying you away, but if you can’t even do one pull up, will you be able to hang onto that branch? Can you carry a 5 gallon bucket of water? Many people have real disabilities or are elderly. Don’t put yourself in the category of needing help, if, with a little work now, you can be one of the helpers.

Post script: Since writing this yesterday, I saw news clips of neighborhoods working together to clean up the devastation. I hope that news personality who was waiting for someone else to clean up sees that and gets the hint.

picture of a destroyed house from Sandy

How fast can you fix this?

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