The Fitness Guide

Rosie Gomez's Guide to Getting Fit!


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4 Healthy Winter Produce for Your Cold Weather Menu

Winter is rough for many reasons. The weather is cold and uninviting, the amount of light diminishes, and we respond to these stressors by binging on carbs, sweets, and other unhealthy foods.cold weather vegetables

So what’s the solution? While much of it centers on maintaining a certain level of self-control and willpower, a portion of the answer may lie at our local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Fresh and healthy produce is not only limited to the spring and summer months. Wintertime harvest offers up a great deal of tasty options that are fresh and healthy.

Revamp your wintertime menu with these healthy and tasty items, and prepare to chase those cold weather blues away.

1. Potatoes

The humble potato is often dismissed outright due to its high level of starch, but these vegetables are not only tasty but they also bring a number of essential vitamins and minerals to the table. Potatoes are high in potassium, folic acid, and magnesium, and even boast a fair amount of protein. The sweet variety boasts a great deal of beta carotene as well. Whether you choose the sweet ones or the plain white kind just eliminate the butter and cream that you might be tempted to add and you have a versatile and healthy dish for your winter table.

Parsnips2. Parsnips

For the uninitiated parsnips might be passed over as slightly anemic carrots, but these long, white veggies offer a vitamin punch and they’re quite tasty as well. They are at their peak during the fall and winter months and come loaded with fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.

Parsnips lend themselves well to purees and soups, so the possibilities are endless. Some home chefs like to roast the parsnips with some crisp, fall apples until they’re both tender and combine them into a sweet and savory soup. Add some homemade bread and you’ve got a wintertime meal to remember.

3. Squash

Almost everyone is familiar with the most famous of the fall and winter squash — the pumpkin — but this type of winter vegetable comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each has a number of unique aspects, but the health benefits are all very similar.

Squash boasts an impressive amount of beta carotene, as well as fiber and potassium. Additionally, the recipe possibilities using squash are endless. Butternut squash is delicious when baked with olive oil and garlic, and acorn squash that is roasted, cubed, and tossed with radicchio, lentils, and goat cheese results in a wonderful winter salad. Take your pick of any of the squash recipes you come across and you can’t really go wrong.

4. Pomegranates

Pomegranates are a strange fruit, but one of the most unusual things about them is the fact that they are harvested in the fall and winter. As one of the oldest-known fruits in the world, they are among the healthiest, as well. While getting the seeds out of the fruit might be quite a task, those seeds are packed with heart-healthy antioxidants and are high in fiber too.

If extracted seeds aren’t your thing, find some fresh pomegranate juice at your local store or farmers’ market. Just make sure it’s sugar free and you can still reap the health benefits.

It’s perfectly normal to want to hibernate during the winter and eat all of those foods that you’ll regret in the spring. However, reach for some of these winter veggies during your next grocery visit and find more to love about the season.


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Saddle Up: Why Horseback Riding Is Great Exercise

riding a horseAlmost everyone has ridden a horse at some point in their lives, whether it was a trail ride during a mountain vacation, hopping on a friend’s horse during a visit, or a riding lesson at a local barn. Almost everyone is familiar with the day after that horse ride, as well: the aching thighs, the sore abdominal muscles, and the stiff back and shoulders.

Many people might eschew horseback riding as a serious workout. Those same people might think that the horse does all the work while the rider is just, well, along for the ride. This could not be further from the truth. Horseback riding requires serious muscle control, balance, and coordination in order to stay on the horse’s back and maintain control.

If you’re a horse lover and would like a new and unique way to work out, learn more about the incredible physical benefits of a day in the saddle.

Strength

Staying atop a 1,200 pound animal and making it go where you want it to go is no easy feat. It requires incredible balance and muscle control at all times, the likes of which some athletes didn’t even know they had.

To maintain the proper position in the saddle the rider must engage the entire lower body. Abs, hips, glutes, thighs, and calves must all work together to ensure that the rider stays in place even if the horse has other ideas.

Add activities like jumping or barrel racing to the mix and the workout becomes even more intense.

horseback riding is funFlexibility

Moving with a horse instead of against it is one of the cardinal rules of riding, and it has the added benefit of increased flexibility for the rider. Stretching and flexing while riding comes naturally after a while, but for the beginner it can be as intense as some yoga workouts.

Stretching before you climb aboard is key to prevent muscle soreness, but stretching while in the saddle helps as well. Many trainers will ask that their students perform specific stretches while they are warming their horses up at the beginning of a lesson.

Cardio

One of the best health benefits of horse riding is the cardio workout that you’ll receive. Wear your heart rate monitor during your next lesson and you’ll be convinced. Holding your muscles in place while bending and stretching for an hour is an intense workout. Kick your feet out of the stirrups or ride bareback for an even bigger cardio blast.

Don’t end your day when your lesson is done; helping in the barn is a great cardio workout as well. Cleaning stalls, carrying hay and sacks of grain, cleaning saddles and bridles, and thoroughly grooming the horses will get your heart and lungs pumping, as well.

If you’re looking for a fun and different way to work out then you should definitely consider horseback riding, but don’t expect it to be easy. Learning to ride a horse requires hours of practice and hard work, and a great deal of physical effort. However, the reward not only lies in toned muscles. You’ll also get to connect with a magnificent animal and learn a fun and rewarding skill.


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Child’s Play: 5 Ways to Have More Active Kids

children exercisingIt’s no secret that obesity is an epidemic in the United States, but perhaps the most frightening aspect of that statement is how it applies to children and teens. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control now states that at least 1 in 3 children and teens in the U.S. is overweight or obese.

The causes of this epidemic are many, but the main culprits are a more sedentary lifestyle and diets consisting of more processed foods. There are many other contributing factors, however, and for each family struggling with obesity their issues are unique and personal. Unfortunately, the fact remains that the health and physical fitness of children in the United States is poor, and that needs to change.

If you want to make some changes in your family’s lifestyle and exercise habits, and give your kids the gift of health in the process, read on to learn more about great ways to encourage physical activity in your kids.

Get the Gadgets

If you’re going to restrict your child’s computer time in favor of exercise then you might want to sweeten the deal. Apps for smart phones can encourage your kids to keep track of their fitness level, and they can share their progress with their friends on social media.

You can also consider a video game system that comes with exercise and fitness games. These can encourage your kids to get moving and you can join the fun, too.

Take a Class

girl horseback riding

Fitness classes for kids and teens are popping up at gyms all across the country, so take advantage of these opportunities. Yoga, spinning, and parkour can all inspire your kids to get moving and have fun in the process.

Other classes and lessons that might interest your kids are horseback riding, snowboarding, or cross country skiing. Find out what your child is interested in and make it happen.

Do Chores Together

We all know that it’s almost impossible to get kids to do chores without a fair amount of complaining, but there are ways to make it more fun. Arrange a race to see who can bring all of the laundry downstairs in the least time. Practice squats with your kids when you’re unloading the dishwasher. There are a number of ways to encourage your kids to help with chores and move more in the process.

Ditch the Car

If you live in an urban or suburban area, why not ditch your car sometimes? Take your kids along for a walk to the grocery store, and burn some calories carrying your groceries home. If your child’s school is nearby and you have the time, then walk with them to school and walk to pick them up. Not only does walking together burn calories but it also gives you a chance to talk with each other with no distractions.

Explore the Science

While some younger children might not understand the science and the health risks of obesity, your tweens and teens very much can. Make an appointment with your doctor so that he or she can explain some of the serious complications that can arise from obesity.

Encourage your child to do independent research, as well. The more they know about their condition the more active they might become in changing it.

Obesity in children is a serious medical condition, but it’s one that can be changed. Work with your healthcare provider and your kids to become a healthier and happier family.


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America’s Best Cities for Urban Trail Running

trail running

Running is one of the best and most popular ways to stay fit. It’s free, it’s easy, and, assuming that you’ve been given the okay from your doctor, it’s one of the best methods of exercise available to improve your overall fitness level.

While running on a treadmill at home or in the gym is fine and will certainly help you achieve your fitness goal, it can become more than a little mundane and boring. Unfortunately, when you get bored with an exercise program it can become more difficult to feel motivated.

Luckily, there are many places around the United States where runners can enjoy the outdoors and a variety of beautiful scenery while utilizing well-maintained urban trails and the more rugged dirt paths that can accompany them. Not only do these trails serve as a way for you to ditch the gym when you want to run, but using them is great way to meet other like-minded runners in your area and embrace the health benefits that come with trail running.

Here are a few of the best places in the country to take advantage of amazing urban trails.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The runners who call Minnesota’s largest city home have a lot to be excited about. The beautiful trail called Grand Rounds is more than 50 miles long and is also recognized as a National Scenic Byway. One of the most popular parts of this trail is known as Chain of Lakes. This portion of the trail is just a little over 13 miles in length and offers runners exceptional views of the lakes. It has the advantage of abundant, natural shade. Purchase one of the many heart rate watches available to keep track of your fitness while running on this beautiful trail. Visit the Minneapolis Parks website for more information.

San Diego, California

San Diego is located on one of the most crowded areas of the California coastline, but as a very active and health-conscious city, San Diego also offers some amazing places to run. The Silver Strand trail begins in Coronado and ends at Imperial Beach. As a 15-mile round-trip journey, this trail hugs the coastline the entire way and provides some incredible views. The abundant hotels, restaurants, and shops along the way make the Silver Strand trail perfect for those times when you want to take a break, cool off, and enjoy the scenery.

trail runnerPortland, Oregon

Known around the country for its outdoorsy lifestyle and its fair share of unique and eccentric citizens, Portland is a beautiful city perched on the banks of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

Active residents of Portland have a number of running trails to choose from, but the best and most scenic of these is the Wildwood Trail. Located to the west of downtown Portland, the Wildwood Trail is 28 miles long and features both paved and dirt paths. Open year-round, this trail is at its most beautiful during the fall when the local trees show off their beautiful colors.

Austin, Texas

Any city with a young and vibrant population is bound to have abundantly available outdoor activities and Austin is no exception. The city is rife with beautiful parks and scenic areas that just beg to be explored. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of the most popular areas in Austin and is hailed as an urban oasis. With only a little more than 7 miles of trails, Barton Creek Greenbelt makes up for its lack of distance with a number of activities along the way. In addition to running the trails people can swim in the creek and test out their climbing skills on the number of rock overhangs.

Whether you live in an urban area or a small town, there are always great ways to leave the gym behind and exercise in the great outdoors. Consider trail running if you’re looking for a fun and interesting way to burn calories and get fit.


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Are You Ready? How to Prepare for a 5K

5K startWhen many people make the decision to get off the couch and become healthier, they do so with a goal in mind. Typically that goal is weight loss and increased health, but many people also begin training with a more competitive goal in their sights.

5K runs are very popular in the United States, and upwards of 8,500 of these races are held each year. Some are fun races with costumes are not just encouraged but required, some races allow the participants’ dogs to join in, and almost all of them involve a worthy charity. While any race is ultimately a competition, entering a 5K is a fantastic way to assess your own personal best and to reap the rewards of all of your hard work. 

If you’ve been thinking about focusing on a 5K as your fitness goal, check out these great tips to help you get started.

See Your Doctor

You’ve likely heard this advice from everyone once you’ve decided to begin training, but it just might be the best advice you’ll ever get. Not only can your health care provider make sure that you’re healthy enough to start a fitness program, but he or she can also give you tips on diet and specific exercise strategies that can help you succeed.

Additionally, if you sustain an injury while training it can be very beneficial to your healing if your doctor is already well aware of your exercise regimen.

Choose Your Race

Even if you’ve just begun your fitness program, do some research into upcoming 5K races in your area. Choosing a race and registering for it gives you a goal to strive for and a w

ay to hold yourself accountable. Filling out the registration forms and marking the date on your calendar gives you a tangible reminder of the reasons you’ve decided to get fit in the first place.

Additionally, consider a charity race that asks you to solicit sponsors and donations. When your friends, family, and coworkers have donated money and are cheering you on, you’ll be more likely to fulfill your commitment.

Train Hard and Train Smart

Arguably the hardest part of training for a 5K is, well, the training. You’ll need to be focused on and dedicated to your goal to make it all happen. There are many online resources that outline training schedules that are specifically tailored to the first-time competitor, so browse several of them and choose the one that works for your schedule and your fitness level.

Purchase the gear you’ll need as soon as possible. While proper running shoes are the most important part of this equation, make sure that you buy adequate exercise clothing that fits well and provides support where you need it. The sight of your new running gear in the closet can serve as a powerful motivator.

Get a Training Partner

5K finish

Lastly, consider recruiting a friend. Training with a partner has proven to help beginners train more often and for longer durations than training alone. The constant motivation that you give to each other can go a long way when you’re both focusing on the same goal. Also, when you’re feeling tired and you lose your focus, having a partner can remind you why you began this fitness journey in the first place.

A fitness goal is one of the best things that you can give yourself when you begin a workout program. If that goal happens to be a 5K race then there are many ways to achieve it. Get a health assessment, choose a race, and implement a training program. Before you know it you’ll be crossing the first of what will hopefully be many finish lines.


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Change Your Diet to Jumpstart Your Fitness Goals

grocery shoppingSo you’ve made the commitment to become more fit and healthy through exercise! Congratulations! While we certainly don’t want to take anything away from your amazing accomplishments, there might be a few things that you’re missing.

Mainly, your diet.

Changing one’s attitude toward health and fitness is not a quick process; it takes time to make any type of significant change. However, while adding an exercise program to your life is wonderful, you won’t see the results that you want unless you alter your diet as well.

Calorie counting can make a difference, but it can often feel so complicated that people get frustrated and give it up altogether. A better approach to a diet change might be a whole lot easier than you think.

Here are some fantastic suggestions to help you make better and healthier food choices, without giving up all of the things that you love.

Reduce or Change Animal Protein

One of the single greatest hindrances to your diet may be the animal protein that you eat. Beef can be especially crippling to your diet. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that you can never eat steak or a big, juicy burger again; you’ll just want to make different choices.

When you buy beef you’ll want to be aware of the cut that you choose and the part of the animal it comes from. Rib-eye steaks are juicy and rich in flavor, but it’s the high fat content of that particular cut that makes them that way. The next time you buy beef, choose a sirloin tip steak instead of the rib-eye. With a little bit of tasty marinade this cut can taste great and you will save approximately 200 calories and 30 grams of fat per 6 ounce portion.

asian foodThink Asian

Many people who live in countries in Asia enjoy more longevity and a much healthier lifestyle than we do in America. Why is this? Many researchers point to healthier eating habits and greater physical activity as major contributing factors. Before you pack up your suitcase and head to Tokyo, why not incorporate healthier, Asian style food into your menu?

Asian food focuses heavily on vegetables, fruits, and lean protein, often in the form of tofu or fish, and rice. You can combine any or all of these ingredients with some Asian flavors to make a tasty and healthy meal. Sauté your fresh veggies with a little sesame oil and ginger, and add any lean protein of your choice. Chicken or shrimp works well, or you could choose a fried egg. Serve this over a bed or healthy, brown rice and you won’t even miss the potatoes that you might have become accustomed to.

Also, use chopsticks to help you take smaller bites!

When you’ve just started a fitness program it’s important not to skimp on protein. You are trying to build muscle, after all! However, if you choose your proteins more carefully and combine leaner cuts with an abundance of vegetables and healthy carbs, you will feel full and your body will be getting the essential nutrients it needs to get fit.

While it might feel worrisome to think that you’ll never have a rib-eye again, don’t worry. That’s what the occasional cheats are for!


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Exercise for Newbies: Tips to Get Fit

Getting Fit The world that we live in places a great deal of emphasis on health and fitness. We’re constantly bombarded with television ads that make sure that we’re all aware of the fact that we’re woefully out of shape. Images of fit and happy people parade across our television and computer screens, which often make us feel worse about our fitness levels as opposed to feeling inspired.

The good news is that exercise comes in many forms and it’s easy to begin a fitness program that suits your needs and level of activity. Of course, you should always check with your personal physician or healthcare provider for a full checkup before you dive into any exercise regime. However, once you have your doctor’s okay, it’s time to get started on the road to health and wellness.

Self-Assessment

You know your body better than anyone, so a self-assessment of your physical capabilities is a great place to begin. Take a reading of your resting heart rate, then take it again after you walk one mile. A personal heart rate monitor from HeartRateMonitors.com can be an invaluable resource as you begin on your fitness journey.

Assess the time that it takes you to walk one mile and keep track of this time over the course of a few weeks. You can also begin to measure your waist circumference, and keep track of this number as well. Often it’s easier to focus on inches lost rather than pounds.

Choose Your Activity

One of the hardest parts about exercising is feeling motivated to do it on a regular basis. If you’re stuck in an exercise routine that doesn’t make you feel good or one that doesn’t feel like very much fun, you’re more likely to avoid it altogether.

Think about activities that you particularly enjoy. If you’re fond of nature why not find hiking trails and hiking clubs in your area? For those who are fond of the water, swimming is a fantastic exercise that works almost all the muscles in the body and is easy on the joints. Even a set routine of walking around your neighborhood or town is a great way to get started and to make sure that you stick with it.

Personal TrainerThe Trainer Dilemma

When you start on your new fitness program it might seem that hiring a personal trainer at your local gym is a good idea, and for some people it is. However, before you make that decision you should establish that working out in a gym is something that is within the realm of possibility for you.

If you’re interested in working out in a gym, be sure to visit a few of the locations in your area. Set up an appointment with the various personal trainers and ask lots of questions, not only of the trainer but of yourself. Are you motivated enough to maintain a rigorous gym schedule? Is this trainer someone that you can work with? Are you able to take direction and criticism when you’re at your most vulnerable? While working with a trainer can be a great way to get in shape quickly and to learn ways to maintain that fitness, it’s not ideal for everyone.

Deciding to embark on a fitness journey is one of the best choices that you can make for your health. However, we all know that even the best laid plans can go awry. When you’re ready for your personal health and exercise plan to begin, it’s important to start off right. Visit your doctor, do an assessment of your physical condition, choose fun and interesting activities and investigate your local gym.

Once you take that first step toward health you’ll be so glad that you did!