Category: Health and Fitness
Fitness. A simple word whose meaning is far-reaching and occupies almost every corner of our lives. Be it physical, emotional or mental, our fitness dictates how we function, and all aspects of it are intertwined – with one consistently affecting the other.
Physical fitness is about more than just losing weight or gaining muscle – it’s about laying down a foundation upon which your life can be built. A body in a positive physical state becomes a tremendous asset to draw from both inside the gym and out when it comes to issues such as alleviating stress, the promotion of healthier personal and professional relationships, learning how to better manage your time (and follow through on commitments) by way of scheduled activity, and an overall sense of mental clarity.
The “why” of fitness and its importance is easy to answer – but the “how” can be arrived at in a number of ways. You might enjoy participating in a sport-related activity (tennis, squash, golf), or you could get together with your friends to take part in a group class (aerobic, yoga, spinning). Of course, there are also individuals that prefer to simply grab a pair of dumbbells and have at it or jump on a treadmill and run the day away. Everyone is unique in how they pursue their fitness goals – but we all share a common purpose: to make tomorrow better than yesterday.
Let us help you with your fitness goals – however you choose to pursue them. We know that you will come to realize the Ottawa Athletic Club is more than a fitness centre – it will ultimately be the center of your fitness.
Related: View more fitness secrets
The people who are thriving and will continue to thrive in this era are those who are agile and skilled at changing easily and elegantly in response to their changing environment, and as they proactively create more of the life they want. So here are some tips to help you become more agile:
Accept yourself exactly as you are
I know that sounds totally counter-intuitive, but the paradox is that when you try to change yourself from a perspective of negative judgment of yourself, your self-criticism will make you feel bad, which will have a negative impact on your motivation.
Attacking yourself with self-criticism will also activate your stress response, which actually changes the biological functioning of your brain and body and reduces the flexibility and quality of your thinking. This in turn uses up more of your energy, makes you think and behave defensively rather than proactively, stresses your body out and makes you tired and even ill.
When you accept yourself, you stop fighting yourself and your relaxed state will improve your motivation and the flexibility and quality of your thinking. This makes it much easier for you to make your changes – and to enjoy the process of making them. We think and perform much better when we’re in a state of love, rather than fear. Love opens our hearts and minds and we change much more easily when we have open hearts and minds.
Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want
We have a natural tendency to focus on problems and sources of stress in our lives. And, this makes sense – we do it because we want to “keep an eye” on potential threats so that we can respond more quickly, and ensure our survival. This usually is a good strategy for ensuring survival but it’s not a good strategy for thriving.
Focusing on what you don’t want will elicit your stress response and close down your thinking, making it more difficult to think creatively when you respond to the threat. Knowing, and focusing on what you want, rather than focusing on what you don’t want is also important because it’s the beginning of getting familiar with what you want.
Get familiar with what you want
We move towards what’s most familiar, and we resist what’s unfamiliar. If you’re familiar with how your life has been or is, but the way you want your life to be is unfamiliar and vague, then a part of you will resist going towards the unfamiliar and you will seek to repeat your current habits.
Because you’ve survived by doing what’s familiar, a part of you assumes that familiar is safe, even if it doesn’t make you happy. Guess what, if we ever feel that we have to choose between safe and happy, we’ll usually move towards what’s safe. So, to dissolve your own internal resistance, get familiar with being the way you want to be by going their mentally, and filling out the detail even before you start making your changes.
Focus on changing your thinking, rather than focusing on changing your behavior.
Our behavior flows from our emotional state, which is informed by our thinking patterns and the stories we tell ourselves. So discover the thinking patterns and stories you’ve been using that have prevented you from already having the life you want and being the person you want to be. You can do this by asking yourself,“What have I been assuming that’s prevented me from having what I want?” And then question those assumptions, ask yourself what other assumptions are possibly true in that context, and choose to operate under those liberating assumptions instead.
Focus on the feelings
Ultimately, it’s feelings we want and we only want other stuff because of the feelings we think it’ll give us. So become aware of the feelings you’re seeking. This will have two great results: first you’ll have what you ultimately want right now rather than having to wait till you’ve changed your circumstances. Second, by feeling the way you want to feel, you’ll be getting familiar with the changes you want to make, making it easier to make those changes without your own internal resistance.
Break your change into small, achievable steps you can take on a daily basis
It’s much easier to make change incrementally than it is to make major changes in a few areas of your life all in one go. This is because more change means more unfamiliarity and the greater the unfamiliarity, the more likely that a part of you will resist the changes and try to go back to what’s familiar.
Focusing on big changes can also cause overwhelm and stress, which closes down your thinking, causing de-motivation and making it harder for you to make your changes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the changes you want to make, break your changes into small steps and focus on doing only the next step that feels achievable and liberating.
You are so excited! After months of hard work, you finally fit into those jeans you couldn’t button not too long ago. You can see those muscles that you always knew were hiding under that fat. You finally finished your first half marathon! No matter what the goal, it’s a great feeling when you put it in your sights and actually accomplished it.
During those months, you were diligent with your workouts (never skipping), prepared your meals in advance (so you wouldn’t make bad impromptu choices). But you decide to go out and “celebrate” for a drink. Then two. Then you say, “What the hell, bring on some nachos!” –you deserve it, right? After that, you have to satisfy that sweet tooth, right? So, you take the “Willy Wonka” train to the nearest frozen yogurt café and load it up with all the fixings!
You say, “Oh, there’s nothing wrong with one night of celebrating.” Except, you wake up the next morning and before you even realize what you’re doing, you find yourself rummaging through the cupboards for that box of Pop-Tarts you bought three months ago,. Once you find yourself staring at the bottom of an empty cardboard box that once was home to “God’s gift to the breakfast pastry” and say, “What did I do!? Well the day is shot, might as well go out with a bang, and start fresh tomorrow! Chinese for dinner!”
Bad move! One day leads to two…then a week. Then a month. Those jeans begin to get tighter. You get aggravated. You start to go in a downward spiral and you lose the motivation to work out and prepare your foods. Everything you worked so hard for and that made you feel so good isgone, and for what? A quick fling with some sweet tasting treats?
Here’s the thing…every day makes a difference. You cannot train hard and eat right only three days out of the week and expect to see a positive change. There is no five days on, two days off (more commonly known as the weekend) schedule that you can follow and still expect to see results. Fitness is every day. It doesn’t need to be 100%, but it should be close.
Though, one isolated cheat meal won’t affect you, what’s really going to get you in trouble is if you extend that meal through the weekend. Repeatedly. Then slowly let it leak into Monday, Tuesday, and the rest of the week. Pretty soon, your weight is creeping back up. Little bites are nothing, but added together they become something big. Just because I may steal a few of my kids M&M’s (please, don’t call DCYF), it doesn’t mean I’m not consuming calories. They add up, and, especially if I do it repeatedly, it can easily equal a whole bag.
Again, being fit is a lifestyle; it should be made a habit. Do you brush your teeth? Why? The answer isn’t because it so much fun and tastes delicious! It is because of the consequences of not doing it. What are they? Let’s see…gingivitis, bad breath, cavities, stained teeth, and ultimately decaying, loose teeth that might need to be pulled out.
Exercising is the same thing. Hopefully, you enjoy it more than brushing your teeth. But, more importantly, think of all the great things you get from exercising. Exercise makes every aspect of life better. And what are the consequences of not exercising? Let’s see…osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, tendinitis, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, decreased metabolism, lethargy, and weight gain.
There have been so many healthy developments at fast-food restaurants, it can be hard to keep track of ’em all! I’m making it easy with this list of new additions that make it worth hitting the drive-thru…
Chick-fil-A’s Superfood Side with Kale
Just 140 calories for this blend of broccolini, kale, dried cherries, roasted nuts, and maple vinaigrette. Ummm… Yummm! This actually replaced the extra-fatty coleslaw on the menu. (No word on how the coleslaw-loving regulars feel about this switcheroo.) And the latest from Chick-fil-A? The chain is test-marketing gluten-free buns. Nice!
McDonald’s Breakfast Bowls (Southern California Only)
Mickey D’s is currently testing out two b-fast bowls. One is made with eggs, chorizo, cheese, and hash browns; skip it. But check out the egg white & turkey sausage bowl: It features spinach, kale, Parmesan cheese, and a slim 250-calorie price tag. Here’s hoping this baby goes nationwide soon. In the meantime, let’s all enjoy an Egg White Delight McMuffin (250 calories).
Chipotle’s Getting Into the Burger Game
The company behind the mix-n-match Mexican chain is looking to enter the burger market. The brand recently filed a trademark application for the name “Better Burger,” which gives a pretty good idea as to what angle they’re working — and I’m all for it. Plus, if they offer a nutritional calculator as helpful as the one on the Chipotle website, that’ll be a huge bonus!
Taco Bell Revamps Dollar Menu: Now Featuring Breakfast!
Fast-food breakfast and dollar menus are both places where you need to beware of fat traps. But Taco Bell actually has a few solid Dollar Cravings b-fast items! The Mini Skillet Bowl has just 180 calories; You get egg, potatoes, cheese, and pico de gallo. Think of it as an on-the-go version of my egg-mug recipes! And the Breakfast Grilled Taco isn’t a bad choice, either – order it without cheese, and it clocks in at 210 calories.
The cabbage soup diet is generally considered a fad diet. As the name suggests, the diet requires that you eat large amounts of cabbage soup for a week. During that time, you can also eat certain fruits and vegetables, beef, chicken and brown rice, according to a set schedule.
Proponents of the cabbage soup diet say it’s a good way to quickly lose a few pounds. You may lose weight on the diet because it drastically limits calories. But it may not be fat that you’re losing. It might be water weight or even lean tissue, since it’s hard to burn that many fat calories in such a short period.
Because the cabbage soup diet is low in complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, you shouldn’t stay on it for more than a week at a time.
The cabbage soup diet has other disadvantages. Depending on the recipe for cabbage soup, the diet can be high in sodium. The large amounts of cabbage also can make you more prone to flatulence. Because you’re not getting proper nutrition, you may feel weak or tired while on the diet. And once you stop the diet, it’s easy to regain any weight that you lost.
Fad diets like this one may be tempting, but keep in mind that long-term weight loss depends on making lasting healthy changes in your eating and exercise habits.
Alcohol use can be a slippery slope. Moderate drinking can offer some health benefits. But heavy drinking can have serious consequences.
It sounds like a mixed message: Drinking alcohol may offer some health benefits, especially for your heart. On the other hand, alcohol may increase your risk of health problems and damage your heart.
So which is it? When it comes to drinking alcohol, the key is doing so only in moderation. Certainly, you don’t have to drink any alcohol, and if you currently don’t drink, don’t start drinking for the possible health benefits. In some cases, it’s safest to avoid alcohol entirely — the possible benefits don’t outweigh the risks. Here’s a closer look at the connection between alcohol and your health.
Health benefits of moderate alcohol use
Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits. It may:
— Reduce your risk of developing and dying from heart disease
— Possibly reduce your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)
— Possibly reduce your risk of diabetes
Even so, the evidence about the possible health benefits of alcohol isn’t certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks.
Guidelines for moderate alcohol use
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
Examples of one drink include:
Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)
Moderate alcohol use may be of most benefit if you’re an older adult or if you have existing risk factors for heart disease. If you’re a middle-aged or younger adult, some evidence shows that even moderate alcohol use may cause more harm than good. You can take other steps to benefit your cardiovascular health besides drinking — eating a healthy diet and exercising, for example.
Myth: Energy drinks have “high” or “dangerous” amounts of caffeine.
Fact: The vast majority of energy drinks consumed in the United States – including Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, AMP, Full Throttle and NOS – have similar or lower levels of caffeine than home-brewed coffee which many Americans enjoy on a daily basis. And many contain about half the caffeine of a similarly-sized coffeehouse coffee. A 16 fluid ounce energy drink typically contains between 160 and 240 milligrams of caffeine, while the same size coffeehouse coffee contains around 300 to 330 milligrams. Moreover, caffeine has been safely consumed around the world for hundreds of years.
Myth: With the recent growth of the energy drink category, Americans are getting dangerous amounts of caffeine in their diet.
Fact: The FDA commissioned an in-depth analysis of caffeine consumption among the U.S. population in 2009, which was then updated in 2010. This report concludes that, despite the growth of energy drinks in the marketplace, the average amount of caffeine consumed by the adult U.S. population remains consistent with past FDA estimates – at approximately 300 milligrams of caffeine daily.
The report also found that coffee and tea remain the primary source of caffeine in the American diet. Furthermore, that same report indicated that teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 years consume, on average, approximately one-third the amount of caffeine as people over 21 – about 100 milligrams per day – and that most of their caffeine consumption is from beverages other than energy drinks.
Myth: Energy drinks aren’t regulated.
Fact: Energy drinks, their ingredients and labeling are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)— even those that are labeled as a dietary supplement using a Supplement Facts panel, instead of a conventional food using a Nutrition Facts panel. And, as with most consumer products, energy drink advertising is subject to oversight from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Myth: Youth are major consumers of energy drinks.
Fact: A report on caffeine consumption among the U.S. population commissioned by FDA in 2009, and then updated in 2010 and again in 2012, indicated that teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 years consume, on average, approximately one-third the amount of caffeine as people over 21 – about 100 milligrams per day – and that most of their caffeine consumption is from beverages other than energy drinks (Somogyi 2012). Importantly, the 2012 report also showed that the average amount of caffeine consumed has remained constant.
Myth: There’s no way for a consumer to know how much caffeine is in an energy drink.
Fact: There are several ways to find out exactly how much caffeine is in an energy drink. Most mainstream energy drinks voluntarily list the total amount of caffeine from all sources right on the label. In addition, this information is readily available on company or product websites, as well as through their toll-free numbers.
Myth: Taurine is a stimulant.
Fact: Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally found in the human body, as well as in common food items such as seafood, scallops and poultry. Because taurine exists naturally in breast milk, it also is used as an additive in infant formula, one of the most researched products sold.
Myth: Guarana is a dangerous drug.
Fact: Guarana, another ingredient found in some energy drinks, is a nut-like seed from plants native to South America and is a natural source of caffeine. Guarana contributes caffeine to beverages – just as coffee, tea, cocoa, yerba mate or other natural sources of caffeine do.
Myth: Energy drinks are a new product about which too little is known.
Fact: Energy drinks have been enjoyed safely by millions of people around the world for more than 25 years, and in the United States for more than 15 years.
Myth: Energy drink companies target children.
Fact: Energy drinks are not intended for children. The leading energy drink makers have voluntarily pledged not to market these products to children or sell them in K-12 schools. In addition, these companies voluntarily display an advisory statement on energy drink packaging, stating that the product is not intended (or recommended) for children, pregnant or nursing women, and persons sensitive to caffeine.
Myth: Because of the caffeine content, combining energy drinks with alcohol is more dangerous than consuming alcohol alone.
Fact: The United Kingdom’s Committee on Toxicology (COT), an independent committee of experts that provides advice to agencies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA), was asked by FSA to conduct an in-depth review of alcohol and caffeine. In December 2012, COT published a report which concluded that “the current balance of evidence does not support a harmful toxicological or behavioral interaction between caffeine and alcohol.” Nevertheless, leading energy drink makers have voluntarily pledged not to make claims that consuming alcohol with energy drinks counteracts the effects of alcohol.
Myth: Energy drinks are driving an increase in emergency room visits.
Fact: Although a recent government report showed that of the more than 136.1 million visits made to emergency room facilities, 20,783 involved energy drinks – either as the alleged reason or a contributing factor for the visit – in fact, as the FDA itself acknowledged, no conclusion about causation can be drawn from these reports.
This statistic is of concern as our industry is committed, first and foremost, to the safety and integrity of its beverages. Unfortunately, it is difficult to draw hard conclusions about the role of energy drinks in these hospital visits because the report did not provide information on the general health of the people involved or other circumstances which may have contributed to their hospital visit.
Nonetheless, our industry takes this information seriously and will continue to safeguard consumers through voluntary steps such as listing caffeine content on our product labels and displaying an advisory statement reminding consumers that energy drinks are not intended for children or recommended for pregnant or nursing women or other people sensitive to caffeine.
Caffeine is a safe ingredient. In fact, caffeine is safely consumed every day, in a wide variety of foods and beverages. It has been consumed by BILLIONS of people around the world – and has been for HUNDREDS of years.
Most energy drinks contain significantly less caffeine than a similarly-sized coffeehouse coffee. In fact, many contain about half. A 16 fluid ounce energy drink typically contains between 160 and 240 milligrams of caffeine, while the same size coffeehouse coffee contains around 300 to 330 milligrams.
Energy drink products first appeared in Europe and Asia in the 1970s, and became available in the United States in the late 1990s.
While energy drinks are a growing category they remain a niche product accounting for just under 2 percent of the total U.S. non-alcoholic beverages market (Beverage Marketing Corporation)
A report on caffeine consumption among the U.S. population commissioned by FDA in 2009, and then updated in 2010 and again in 2012, indicated that teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 years consume, on average, approximately one-third the amount of caffeine as people over 21 – about 100 milligrams per day – and that most of their caffeine consumption is from beverages other than energy drinks. Importantly, the 2012 report also showed that the average amount of caffeine consumed has remained constant.
Energy drinks, their ingredients and labeling are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, as with most consumer products, their advertising is subject to oversight by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Many of the common ingredients found in energy drinks occur naturally in other foods that we enjoy regularly such as seafood, poultry and grains, as well as plants.
Taurine, a common ingredient in energy drinks, is an amino acid that is naturally found in the human body, as well as in food items such as seafood, scallops and poultry. Because taurine exists naturally in breast milk, it is also used as an additive in infant formula, one of the most researched products sold.
Guarana, another ingredient found in some energy drinks, is a nut-like seed from plants native to South America and is a natural source of caffeine.
Leading energy drink makers voluntarily:
display total caffeine amounts – from all sources – on their packages;
display an advisory statement on their packages indicating that the product is not intended (or recommended) for children, pregnant or nursing women, or persons sensitive to caffeine; and
do not market energy drinks to children or sell or market them in K-12 schools.
These labeling and marketing guidelines, among others, are included in the American Beverage Association’s Guidance for the Responsible Labeling and Marketing of Energy Drinks.
For most healthy people, a high-protein diet generally isn’t harmful, particularly when followed for a short time. Such diets may help with weight loss by making you feel fuller.
However, the risks of using a high-protein diet with carbohydrate restriction for the long term are still being studied. Several health problems may result if a high-protein diet is followed for an extended time:
— Some high-protein diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that they can result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber, which can cause problems such as bad breath, headache and constipation.
— Some high-protein diets include foods such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, which may increase your risk of heart disease.
— A high-protein diet may worsen kidney function in people with kidney disease because your body may have trouble eliminating all the waste products of protein metabolism.
If you want to follow a high-protein diet, choose your protein wisely. Good choices include soy protein, beans, nuts, fish, skinless poultry, lean beef, pork and low-fat dairy products. Avoid processed meats.
The quality of the carbohydrates (carbs) you eat is important too. Cut processed carbs from your diet, and choose carbs that are high in fiber and nutrient-dense, such as whole grains and vegetables and fruit.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting a weight-loss diet. And that’s especially important in this case if you have kidney disease, diabetes or other chronic health condition.
Finally, keep in mind that weight loss may be temporary, especially if you return to your previous way of eating. The best eating plan is one that you can stick to long-term.
Could a low-carb diet give you an edge in losing weight? Help you keep weight off permanently? Here’s what you need to know about the low-carb diet.
A low-carb diet limits carbohydrates — such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables and fruit — and emphasizes foods high in protein and fat. Many types of low-carb diets exist. Each diet has varying restrictions on the types and amounts of carbohydrates you can eat.
A low-carb diet is generally used for losing weight. Some low-carb diets may have health benefits beyond weight loss, such as reducing risk factors associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Why you might follow a low-carb diet
You might choose to follow a low-carb diet because you:
Want a diet that restricts certain carbs to help you lose weight
Want to change your overall eating habits
Enjoy the types and amounts of foods featured in low-carb diets
Check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
As the name says, a low-carb diet restricts the type and amount of carbohydrates you eat. Carbohydrates are a type of calorie-providing macronutrient found in many foods and beverages.
Many carbohydrates occur naturally in plant-based foods, such as grains. In natural form, carbohydrates can be thought of as complex and fibrous such as the carbohydrates found in whole grains and legumes, or they can be less complex such as those found in milk and fruit. Common sources of naturally occurring carbohydrates include:
Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
Food manufacturers also add refined carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of flour or sugar. These are generally known as simple carbohydrates. Examples of foods that contain simple carbohydrates are white breads and pasta, cookies, cake, candy, and sugar-sweetened sodas and drinks.
Your body uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Sugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. They’re then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they’re known as blood sugar (glucose). Fiber-containing carbohydrates resist digestion, and although they have less effect on blood sugar, complex carbohydrates provide bulk and serve other body functions beyond fuel.
Rising levels of blood sugar trigger the body to release insulin. Insulin helps glucose enter your body’s cells. Some glucose is used by your body for energy, fueling all of your activities, whether it’s going for a jog or simply breathing. Extra glucose is usually stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to fat.
The idea behind the low-carb diet is that decreasing carbs lower insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately leads to weight loss.
Typical foods for a low-carb diet
In general, a low-carb diet focuses on proteins, including meat, poultry, fish and eggs, and some nonstarchy vegetables. A low-carb diet generally excludes or limits most grains, legumes, fruits, breads, sweets, pastas and starchy vegetables, and sometimes nuts and seeds. Some low-carb diet plans allow small amounts of certain fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
A daily limit of 60 to 130 grams of carbohydrates is typical with a low-carb diet. These amounts of carbohydrates provide 240 to 520 calories.
Some low-carb diets greatly restrict carbs during the initial phase of the diet and then gradually increase the number of allowed carbs. Very low-carb diets restrict carbohydrates to 60 grams or less a day.
In contrast, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calorie intake. So if you consume 2,000 calories a day, you would need to eat between 900 and 1,300 calories a day from carbohydrates or between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.