Friday, 22 June 2007

Why you should eat locally

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First there was the whole foods diet. Then there was the low-carb craze. Then eating organic was all the rage. And I'm sure you've heard of cage-free, free range and grass fed. Now there's eating locally. Well, eating locally isn't exactly a new concept--after all, farmer's markets have existed probably as long as farms, but it finally seems to be catching on as a dieting trend.

So what exactly does it mean to eat locally, and what are the benefits? I mean, we've all seen farmer's markets, perused their offerings and even occasionally indulged in some of their maple syrup candy and apple cider but what does eating locally really translate to?

"Local" is defined as anything within a hundred miles. That makes for a lot of possibilities in terms of food options, depending on where you live.

To me, farmer's markets were always the opportunity to get a little something different than what you'd find at a local supermarket. I know the one in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn used to house a woman we referred to as the Cheese Lady who always had THE BEST cheeses anywhere. She had this one spicy white cheddar with horseradish in it that was TO DIE FOR. Sadly, at some point she took her wares elsewhere.

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Fit Factor: Staying with it ... for life!

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One of my pet peeves is people who say things like, 'I can't wait until I'm off this diet so I don't have to go to the gym anymore ... ' and 'when I'm done this diet, I'll eat an entire large pizza on my own ...'.I mean, kudos to them for sticking to their plan temporarily, but don't they realize that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a life-long thing? It's not about vanity, about losing the pounds, about fitting in to those college jeans. At least it shouldn't be, anyway. It should be about your health -- because really, that's the most important thing.

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Daily Fit Tip: Hot weather precautions

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Heatstroke is a very real issue during the hot summer months, and although the very old and very young are at the greatest risk everyone needs to be careful. Heatstroke happens when a person's body temperature goes over 104º and symptoms usually include dry hot skin, inability to sweat, muscle cramps, and shallow breathing. Tips for avoiding heatstroke are to stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day, drink lots of water, wear light loose-fitting clothing, eat small meals, and limit your alcohol intake.

Working in the workouts: Beyond the workouts

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Owen and mommyEach week, Debbie will share her goals, challenges, successes and tips on how to fit in fitness when caring for a rambunctious toddler.

I've been pondering my lack of results I mentioned last week, and I guess if you look at it differently, it is not really a lack of results at all. I am more fit, more toned, stronger and happier. All of those things count far more than what my tape measure says, right?

But, if I really do want all of my toned muscles to show through this five-to-ten pound layer of fat, there must be something else I can do.

So I thought about what is different, besides my being less active than I used to be. I have never had to watch my weight or my portions before, but when I took a good, hard look at what was going into my body every day, I realized that I was eating enough for two linebackers, even if it was all healthy food.

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Receive a reimbursement for using the gym

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Did you know that your insurance company may reimburse you for staying healthy? Sadly, most people aren't aware of this, and that means you could be missing out on some well deserved cash.

Yes, companies like Oxford Health Insurance will give you $100 per six month period ($20 per month) back if you stay active and belong to a gym that encourages cardiovascular health. If you belong to a club like Bally's ($19 per month), you basically receive a free membership. If you have a personal trainer ... think of it as getting 3 to 4 free sessions per year.

If you are 55 or older there may be no need for a reimbursement because many providers (not just Oxford) offer the SilverSneakers program at no additional cost to individuals who belong to participating Medicare health plans or Medicare Supplement carriers. This program, however, requires that the gym is a participating facility and that it has customized SilverSneakers classes designed exclusively for older adults who want to improve their strength, flexibility, balance and endurance -- this is a fantastic program, it's just not offered at all gyms.

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Monitor your heart rate and train more effectively

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If you're going to spend valuable time exercising, make sure you do it right. Did you know that heart rate training could help you reach your fitness goals faster? Here are some facts:
  • In order to reach your fitness goals, you need to exercise at the right intensity.
  • Heart rate is the only accurate measurement of your intensity or your exertion level.
  • A heart rate monitor is the easiest and most accurate way to continuously measure your heart rate.
A heart rate monitor is a tool that will help pace you at your suggested target heart rate and it can be easily used by anyone. If you exercise too hard, you will most likely quit before you get the real benefit. On the other hand, if you work out too lightly you won't get the exercise benefit either. So using a heart rate monitor during your workout can help you set and maintain the proper pace. It's like having a personal trainer telling you to slow down or speed up ... it's an excellent motivational tool.

So to get started, check out this article from About.com -- they list the top 5 monitors from the most basic model for beginners to the most complicated models for athletes and coaches.

Sandskrit basics: Yoga class terms and their meanings

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Most yogis have a pretty good knowledge of the Sankrit words for their favourite poses. That's because most yoga teachers (a least I've found) use both the original and western names of the poses. It's a good lesson for people like myself who don't know Sanskrit or much about the history of yoga -- now that I've been going regularly, I know that Adho Mukha Svanasana means downward dog, Tadasana means mountain post and Utthita Trikonasana means extended triangle pose.

Fitsugar has together a short tutorial on Sanskrit in yoga ... you probably won't need to worry about memorizing the names of poses unless you're becoming a teacher, but it can't hurt, right?

What's your favourite Asana?