Icelandic Fitness

diet

You’re Sick – Should You Work Out or Not?

 

We’re smack in the middle of cold and flu season. And one of the questions my clients are asking – should I work out, even though I’m feeling under the weather?

The answer – it depends.

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was diagnosed with the flu, and believe me, it hit hard. I was out for a good week and certainly did not feel like doing much. It set me back a bit and I’m just now getting back into my regular workout routine.

 

So if you’re sick and wondering about working out – one of the first things to consider is – what are your symptoms? Most viruses make themselves known with a combination of things – fatigue, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, fever; maybe even nausea and vomiting. Obviously, with the more severe symptoms, you’re not going to feel like doing much. But, with the lesser symptoms, if you have the energy, then go ahead.

 

That being said, keep these things in mind: if your nose and ears are stuffed up, your balance may be off and it will obviously be harder to breathe. If you have a fever, you will be more prone to dehydration.

 

The bottom line – take it easy and rest if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Fever over 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe muscle fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Feelings of dizziness or faintness when you stand

 

If you are feeling just a bit off, it’s probably safe to proceed with your workout but it’s a good idea to lower the intensity. This is really a time to listen to what your body is saying.

 

Some trainers suggest that you do what’s called a “neck check.” Basically, are your symptoms above the neck – are you sneezing, do you have a sore throat, a runny nose? If so, then it’s probably okay to work out. Keeping in mind that you probably can’t do your regular workout. Remember – it’s going to be hard to breathe.

 

If your symptoms are below the neck – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea – it would be better to take it easy. Rest. Recuperate. Take a few days off. Get well.

 

Regular exercise can do wonders for your immune system, but, when you’re sick, working out can make you feel worse and slow down your recovery.

 

Just listen to your body and know that if you decide to rest, you can get right back to it when you’re well.

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Expired Supplements: Throw them out or keep them?

In the midst of doing some spring-cleaning, I found a half-empty economy size bottle of multi-vitamins in the medicine cabinet. According to the label, they expired just a few weeks ago. The question- keep them or throw them out?

 

I really didn’t want to throw them out- it seemed pretty wasteful. So, I did a little research to answer a couple of questions- are expired supplements harmful? And, if not- are they still beneficial?

 

What I found answered both questions, and I decided to keep the vitamins. Let me share the details with you.

 

First, let’s start with the expiration date. The expiration date is the last day (or month) an item will be at its highest level of potency. This is essentially an assurance from the manufacturer that the quality and strength of their product is guaranteed up until the expiration date. That doesn’t mean that the product loses any benefit or becomes harmful the day after it “expires.”

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require supplements to have expiration dates. But, most manufacturers voluntarily list dates partially because it gives their consumers some piece of mind.

 

Most expiration dates are conservative, whether you’re dealing with supplements or prescription medication. Both start breaking down the day after they’re manufactured, so the fact that the product has “expired” mainly means that its lost strength, and may not have the same affect that it did when it was fresh.

 

Vitamins deteriorate at different rates, so manufacturers often times “beef up” the strength of some vitamins that deteriorate faster, in order to assure that they will be at the listed strength at the time of expiration.

 

One thing you should take a look at is they way you store your vitamins. It can have a big impact on how long your supplements will retain their strength. Be sure to check the label to see what the manufacturer advises on storage. Some folks keep their vitamins in the refrigerator, but you shouldn’t do that unless the instructions say so.

 

Most likely, the manufacturer will suggest that you keep your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark place and in their original containers. Some vitamins come in dark glass bottles or opaque containers to help preserve their potency. You should also store them away from heat and humidity, which makes the medicine cabinet one of the worst places for storage. I’ll be moving my supplements to the hall linen closet and putting them on a high shelf to keep them away from the kids.

If you store them properly, vitamins can last four or five years. And, taking “expired” vitamins is generally safe- they just won’t be as potent. It will take me about two more months to finish off this bottle of multi-vitamins, which means I’ll take the last few around three months after they “expired.” Perfectly safe.

 

Next time, though, I’ll be keeping better track of where I store my supplements so I can be sure to take them everyday. That’s how I ended up with this half empty bottle in the first place.

 

Jason Stone

Performance Coach, Icelandic Fitness, Denver, Colorado

Should you be taking Probiotics

Probiotics- Pros and Cons

 

A few of my clients have been asking me lately about probiotics- what are they and what can they really do for you. Well- if you eat yogurt, you’re already taking one kind of probiotic. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system.

 

Most think bacteria is a bad thing, but our bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are considered good bacteria because they keep your gut healthy by helping food move through your system.

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By the end of next year, the global sales of probiotics are expected to top $42 billion- that’s how popular they’ve become. Probiotics can come in tablet, capsule, powder, lozenge and gum form, and also in foods like yogurt.

 

Doctors often suggest patients take probiotics to help with digestive problems. And because they’ve become so popular, you can even find probiotics in chocolate.

 

How do they work? Well, researchers are still trying to figure that out.

Here are some of the ways they may keep you healthy:

 

  • When you lose “good” bacteria in your body, like after you take antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them.
  • They can lower the amount of “bad” bacteria in your system.
  • They can help balance out the “good” and “bad” bacteria.

Quite a few types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They have different benefits, but mostly come from two groups. Your doctor can tell you what might be best for you.

Lactobacillus. It’s in yogurt and other fermented goods. It’s probably the most common. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.

Bifidobacterium. You can also find it in some dairy products. It seems to help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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There is also research that shows probiotics can help with non-stomach related problems, like:

 

  • Eczema and other skin conditions.
  • Urinary and vaginal health.
  • Preventing allergies and colds.
  • Oral health

 

Probiotics are regulated like food, not like medications. The FDA does not require the makers of probiotic supplements to prove their products are safe or that they work. So, that’s why it’s very important to talk to your doctor about the correct product and dose.

 

In general, probiotic foods and supplements are thought to be safe.  But you could have mild side effects like an upset stomach; diarrhea, gas, and bloating for the first couple of days after you start them. It’s possible they could also trigger allergic reactions.

 

The bottom line is that probiotics could be very helpful in making you feel better and stronger. But, before you shell out the cash, ask your doctor whether putting “good” bacteria in your body is what’s best for you.

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Lose weight, clean out your refrigerator

stateofslim

One of my clients is trying to lose 15 pounds by May for her trip to the Kentucky Derby with the Colorado Diet. She cleaned out her fridge this week and gave me all her temptations. That’s one way to rid yourself of temptation.

What’s the Colorado Diet? It’s an easy to follow program that’s aimed at resetting your metabolism.

The diet is outlined in the book “State of Slim,” written by two doctors at the CU Medical Center. The plan is pretty simple- eat healthy and exercise more. It’s a sixteen-week program that promises to help you lose around 20 pounds.

The book includes recipes, sample menus and an exercise plan that will have you exercising 70 minutes a day by the end of the four months. If you’re just starting out, that might sound like a lot of activity, but the plan slowly ramps up the time you spend working out.

The authors don’t really want to describe the Colorado Diet as a diet, but a lifestyle change. Colorado is the leanest states in the nation. And, it’s not necessarily because we eat better (at least not all the time), but we hike, bike, swim, run, ski- we move. The mountains and our open spaces are great incentives to get outdoors almost any month of the year.

Still- what you put in your mouth matters. That’s why my client cleaned out her fridge. The Colorado Diet advocates what I’ve been telling the clients I work with for years- eat smaller meals more often, eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and have the right carb and protein mix at every meal.

Whenever I work with someone new, I always ask them to keep a food diary for a few days so they (and I) can see exactly what they’re eating. Making a few small adjustments, such as, high-protein Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt, will make a difference.

The bottom line, with diet or exercise, it’s better to start out slowly than to try and make all the changes all at once. That’s a recipe for failure.

You can check out the Colorado Diet here: http://www.stateofslim.com

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Why Athletes Eat Like Caveman

Why Athletes Eat Like Cavemen

LeBron James, Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Flintoff. They’re all athletes, but what else besides sports does a basketball star, two pro golfers, an NFL quarterback and a British boxer have in common? They’re all losing weight while eating like cavemen, and getting better and faster. Mickelson, for instance, says his new diet has helped him lose 20 pounds and increase his club head speed by 10 mph. And, as the pro-golf season gets underway, that could be a big advantage.

Jason Dufner before Paleo, gluten and sugar free

Jason Dufner before Paleo, gluten and sugar free

 

Jason Dufner after losing 20lbs in 2015

Jason Dufner after losing 20lbs in 2015

 

It’s the Paleo diet, basically, a low-carb, sugar free, higher healthy fat diet. It’s called Paleo because its set up to mimic what our caveman ancestors ate back in the Paleo era – meats, fruits, veggies, nuts, whatever they could hunt or gather. That means no processed foods, no fast foods.

 

Lebron James before and after pics

Lebron James before and after pics

For athletes, the approach is not really that new: two years ago, Dr. Cate Shanahan helped the Los Angeles Lakers make the switch from high-carb to low-carb, and in the process, become so-called fat burners, meaning their bodies burned fat as a primary fuel, instead of carbohydrates. It’s how you can lose weight while keeping muscle, extremely important for players, and for everyone else.

Dr. Shanahan says the best way to make the switch is to do it slowly, over the course of a month. You can find her four-week plan on her website at: www.drcate.com.

The three guiding principals:

1. 50/30/20: Aim to get 50 percent of your calories from healthy fats, 30 percent from protein, and 20 percent from healthy carbohydrates, ideally whole fruits and vegetables.

2. Embrace healthy fats: Going low carb means going high fat, and you have to know the good fats from the bad. Avoid Canola and other vegetable oils. Eat walnuts, almonds, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon and sardines. But, don’t be afraid of saturated fats from whole food sources like poultry, butter, and meat, especially grass-pastured.

3. Don’t snack: Lots of folks suppress their appetites by having frequent small meals throughout the day. But Dr. Cate says that keeps your insulin levels elevated, and interferes with your switch to fat burning. The key is not starving yourself, which may be tricky at first.

Some meal suggestions:

Zero Carb Breakfast. Example: two eggs scrambled in extra-virgin olive oil, topped with avocado. Or cold leftover chicken.

Pack your lunch. And, make it low-carb: try a salad with chicken, tuna, steak, or even a hardboiled egg, plus walnuts, avocado, extra-virgin olive oil.
Low carb dinner: roasted, pan-seared, or grilled lamb/chicken/steak/fish, with sauce; heaping helping of vegetables or salad, add some cheese; fresh fruit dessert; but skip the rice/bread/pasta/chips.

Professional athletes depend on their bodies to make a living, perhaps the biggest argument for them to eat like cavemen. For the rest of us, being able to feel better, look better, and perform at the highest level we can should be reason enough.

If you are an athlete looking to improve performance try the New Athlete Paleo Diet.

 

Jason Stone

Sports Performance Coach at Icelandic Fitness

5 Common Garden Herbs

5 Common Garden Herbs

 

Every year I plant a vegetable and herb garden. Getting outside provides great health benefits, and by planting an herb garden I bring those benefits into the kitchen all year long. Five of the most common herbs you can grow yourself are basil, mint, cilantro, dill, and chives. Each herb provides different health benefits.

Garden Herbs

Garden Herbs

 Basil

Basil for instance, has flavonoids that help prevent damage to our cells from radiation and oxygen-based damage. Basil helps prevent more common illnesses too. The volatile oils in provide protection against unwanted growth of bacteria in our bodies, preventing bacterial infections. Basil has also been found to be an anti-inflammatory, so if you have arthritis or IBS try including more basil in your diet – you will feel better! One extra use for basil is as a solution to rinse the rest of your fruits and vegetables with.

 Mint

We all know mint for the wonderful taste it can provide. There is more mint can provide you though. Mint can be mashed with oil and applied to your forehead to relieve a headache. Mint can also serve as a decongestant, so you definitely want to keep some on hand for your next cold. For ladies, mint is a great natural way to deal with menstrual cramps. Finally, mint is anti-bacterial, so if needed you can rub it on wounds.

 Cilantro

Cilantro is one of the best tasting herbs – just try it on a taco! There’s more than just taste to cilantro, though. Studies show it may help prevent cardiovascular damage. Cilantro can also help cure diabetes. Cilantro may improve sleep quality because it is also believed to have anti-anxiety effects. Cilantro can even clean your teeth and gums.

 Dill

Dill is similar to basil. Dill has properties that help prevent body damage from harmful environmental agents, particularly those found in all types of smoke. Dill also has bacteria regulating effects like basil. In addition, dill can aide in preventing osteoporosis.

 Chives

Chives are a great low-calorie flavor addition to your meals like the rest of these herbs. Chives also have a lot of fiber too, which is an important part of a healthy diet. The high sources of vitamins A and K in chives make it a great resource for preventing cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are pregnant, chives are also a great source of folic acid, a key to preventing defects in newborns.

 

My favorite part of including herbs in my diet is that they are a low-calorie taste provider. So there is no guilt about using them. How do you enjoy herbs?