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Be Your Board!

Creating a vision board is a creative and powerful tool for future success. A vision board is a carefully constructed assembly of images (like a collage) that is meant to depict your desired future. 
If you need inspiration in your life and/or career, a board can help you visualize your dreams and, essentially, make your dreams a reality.

Start by cutting out pictures and words that you're passionate about and that represent the life you want. Paste these visual aids on a poster board or canvas and feel free to add handwritten meaningful quotes. Once complete, be sure to display your vision board where you can see it daily and Be Inspired!

Be Fit and Be Focused!

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Stress is a commonly-used term to describe some of life’s “ups and downs”. Less commonly known is how large of an impact stress has on our bodies and minds. Stress can be defined as ANYTHING (e.g. toxins, trauma, emotions) that disrupts or challenges the balance in one’s body. Prolonged stress can affect the heart, blood vessels, and the immune system and can increase symptoms associated with certain disorders, including but not limited to:
- Asthma
- Constipation
- Lupus
- Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.)
- Eczema
- Depression
- Migraine Headaches

Even if you don't suffer from any of the disorders listed, stress can still have a negative impact and may cause symptoms such as:
- Muscle tension
- Anxiety
- Angry Outbursts
- Fatigue
- Irritability 

In order to combat these symptoms, it’s important to identify common sources of stress in your life. Stressors can vary from person to person and will likely change over time. 
Common external stressors include:
- Marital Separation
- Work or School
- Personal Injury/Illness
- Financial Status
- Change in Sleeping Habits
Common internal stressors include:
- Negative self-talk
- Pessimism 
- Lack of Assertiveness
- Fears
- Excess Worry

Understanding the influence that emotion has on thoughts and actions is crucial to combating the effects of stress. A few simple and no-frill methods of stress reduction include:
~ MEDITATION: spend at least 10 minutes a day on quiet reflection
~ EXERCISE: schedule a routine of daily movement (dancing, walking, lifting weights, etc.)
~ MASSAGE: studies show that as little as 10-15 minutes of relaxation massage can reduce the effects of stress
~ NUTRITION: eat a balanced diet, low in fat, sugar, and caffeine, to reduce unnecessary stress reactions in the body.
~ THOUGHT: become aware of how emotions influence your actions, then improve upon it. 

When riding this roller coaster of life, remember that you can control your responses to most challenges. Stress is a SERIOUS entity and should be considered and treated as seriously as any other condition of the human body. Commit to improvement today for a better ride tomorrow! Be Better. Be You. Be FIT!

 

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Sleep Better = Feel Better

 

Reported incidences of sleep disorders have increased over the last 10 years. In fact, studies have shown that only 35% of adults in the United States consistently get the recommended 7- 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep problems consist of difficulty getting to and/or staying asleep and can cause impairment during the day. The quantity and quality of sleep have a powerful impact on memory, health conditions and a person’s general well-being. Insufficient sleep has been linked to:

  • Colds/Flu

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Heart Disease

  • Decreased Brain Function

 

Here are a few things you should (and shouldn’t) do to help improve how long and how well you sleep:

  • Jot down details of your days and nights to try to pinpoint some sources of your sleeplessness. There may be patterns that you’re unaware of.

  • Keep your sleeping area cool, dark and quiet. Noise, light and warm temperatures can make you tense and affect your ability to relax.

  • Exercise regularly. While working out increases energy during the day, it can also reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

  • Turn off the TV and put down the phone an hour before bed. Electronic devices stimulate the brain and can, therefore, prevent you from falling and staying asleep.

 

Sleep better and Be Fit!





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Cinnamon Sweet Potato Recipe

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INGREDIENTS (Serves 5)

-- 3 sweet potatoes (approx. 5 long)

-- 1/4 cup maple agave syrup

-- 1 teaspoon cinnamon

-- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

2. Cut potatoes into 2" pieces and mix in agave and vanilla extract. Liberally sprinkle cinnamon on top

 

 

 

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Quinoa w/Tomato, Spinach and Garlic

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INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

-- 1 whole garlic head
-- 1 tablespoon olive oil
-- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
-- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
-- ½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
-- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
-- 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
-- ½ cup baby spinach leaves
-- ⅓ cup chopped tomato (1 small)
-- 1 tablespoon shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
-- ¼ teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Remove skin from garlic head. Cut garlic head in half, breaking apart the cloves. Wrap half of head in foil and bake for 1 hour, cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves, squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

3. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat and add shallots and red pepper (1 minute). Add rinsed quinoa to pan (2 minutes) and stir constantly. 

4.  Add wine and cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in garlic pulp, spinach, tomato, cheese, and salt. Serve immediately.

 

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Cauliflower Mashed "Potato" Recipe

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INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

-- 1 medium head cauliflower

-- 1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened

-- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

-- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

-- 1/8 teaspoon chicken base or bullion

-- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

-- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

-- 1/2 teaspoon chopped or dry chives, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1. Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.

2. Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water (6 minutes or until well done). Drain well and do not let cool. Carefully pat cooked cauliflower between several layers of paper towels to dry.

3. In a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken base and pepper until smooth.

4. Garnish with chives and serve.

 

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Whole Wheat Stuffing Recipe

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INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)

-- 6 tablespoons butter

-- 1 onion, diced

-- 1 green bell pepper, diced

-- 4 cloves garlic, minced

-- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced or diced

-- 4 tablespoons whole wheat flour

-- 1 cup low-fat milk

-- 1 cup chicken broth

-- ½ teaspoon salt

-- 6 pieces of whole wheat sandwich bread, cut into 1" cubes

-- 2 eggs, beaten

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

 

2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the diced onions and bell peppers and cook while stirring occasionally until soft but not brown (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.

 

3. Sprinkle the flour over top and stir vigorously while it gets absorbed by the mushrooms and browns (about 1 to 2 minutes). Be careful not to let the flour burn. Pour in the milk, broth, and salt and cook while scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan until the liquid thickens to the consistency of gravy (about 1 to 2 minutes). Turn off the heat and fold in the bread cubes until evenly coated.

 

4. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for a few minutes. Stir in the eggs and then transfer the whole mixture to a rectangular baking dish (or stuff it inside the turkey). If cooking as a separate casserole, bake until golden brown on top (about 40 minutes).

 

 

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Turkey Day Tips

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Thanksgiving is only a few days away! For some of us, that means a lot of quality time with family and a lot of “quantity time” with the dinner table. Here are a few easy ways to enjoy your holiday dinner without extending your waistline:

- Carb Spacing: Spread out your carbohydrate consumption throughout the day. For example, avoid eating mashed potatoes, cornbread AND a dinner roll in the same sitting. Instead, have the potatoes with turkey and veggies and save the roll and cornbread for next-day leftovers!

- Party Planning: Arriving hungry to an event increases your chances of overindulging. Plan ahead and eat a small meal before heading out to a holiday or dinner party!

- Pour It Up: Drinking water throughout the day can keep you hydrated and prevent unreliable cravings. Since your body’s signal for thirst is similar to the signal for hunger, staying hydrated can help you distinguish which craving is which!

- Pour It Out: Portion control is so important when consuming alcoholic beverages. One serving of alcohol can have the same number of calories as a couple cookies. Replace a few drinks with water to reduce your calorie and sugar intake!

Be Better and Be Fit! xo

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Choosing colorful ingredients is a great way to keep your meals interesting and nutritious! Add fruits, veggies and beans to your salad. Sweeten your smoothies with cantaloupe, raspberries and blueberries. Cook cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet peppers with dinner. Eating a colorful variety of  foods is a great way to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs! Be Fit and Eat Your Colors!

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Need to burn calories during your workouts? Try this routine to work major muscle groups and strengthen your core. Feel free to look up any exercises that are unfamiliar. And stay tuned for our exercise library coming soon to befitbrooklyn.com! (As with any workout, proper form is key. Do your research and check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.) Enjoy and BE FIT!

 

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Look around any gym or health club and you're likely to see the BOSU ball in use. Members and trainers use this unique tool to enhance a functional or balance workout! The BOSU ball, named from the acronym "BOth Sides Up", can help users increase right/left balance in both the body and the mind. Since the BOSU is an unstable surface, it's thought to help participants engage core muscles to maintain balance and improve muscular control. 

Here are a few basic exercises that can be done with the Bosu:
- SQUATS: Try putting one foot on the BOSU and one on the floor

-PUSHUPS: Hold the outside of the BOSU with the Blue Side down (See photo)

- CRUNCHES: Sit on the top of the BOSU with the Blue Side down for a challenging abdominal workout.

Remember: Do your research and check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Enjoy and Be Fit!

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An informative, albeit lengthy, article from ace fitness.org! Ladies, don't be afraid of the weight room! 
http://www.acefitness.org/blog/5040/4-myths-about-strength-training-for-women/
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4 Myths About Women Strength Training

It seems as if there’s a lot of information about exercise for women that is based on unfounded myths and even some outright lies instead of fact or scientific evidence. To help clear up the confusion surrounding strength training for women, ACE is launching the strongHER campaign to help educate the public on what is factual and what is not when it comes to strength training for women.

In this particular blog, I’ll be discussing the most common myths and explain why they are far from the truth. While it’s easy for me to write about the science behind the myths, I lack the proper genetic make-up to give a first-person perspective on how weightlifting has influenced my fitness program. That’s why I asked a few strong women to share how strength training has influenced their lives, and their observations are included throughout this blog.

Myth 1: Women should not lift any weight heavier than 3 pounds.

This myth has resulted in many women avoiding resistance training due to an irrational fear of becoming overly muscular. The reality is that women have the ability to lift a tremendous amount of weight, but do not increase lean muscle mass at the same rate as men.

Due to the physiology of the female body, compared to men women produce much less testosterone. That means that adding two days of resistance training to a weekly exercise regimen can increase lean muscle mass, but it won’t add pounds of “bulky” muscle. Strength training can cause women to produce more somatotropin (otherwise known as human growth hormone), but when you consider that growth hormone helps metabolize fat and is considered an important part of reducing the effects of the biological aging process, this is not a bad thing.

“My grandmother, suffering from osteoporosis and extreme kyphosis, told me that she wished that women of her era knew the benefits of strength training. Not only is weightlifting emotionally empowering for women, it can help us become better athletes, prevent injury and offset the risk of developing chronic medical conditions such as osteoporosis.”
-Shana Verstegen, ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Myth 2: Women should avoid using weights because it will make them big and bulky.

In more than 15 years of working in the fitness industry, I have heard this repeated many, many times as the primary reason why women are not interested in exercising with heavy weights. There are numerous media images of female bodybuilders or actresses with highly muscular physiques. It should be noted that it can take years of training, proper nutrition and "supplementation" to achieve the muscle-bound appearance of a Xena: Warrior Princess.

It can take lifting weights five or six days a week, plus a lot of eating, for women to increase their levels of lean muscle. Simply adding an extra day of strength training or grabbing the heavier dumbbells will not automatically cause a woman to become a muscle-bound she-hulk. 

“I have fallen in love with power lifting and at 43 I am healthier, happier and in better shape than I was back in college. I may weigh more than I did a year ago, but I AM 4 sizes smaller.” 
-Candace, a former college classmate

Myth 3: Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to burn fat.

During low-intensity physical activity, fat is the primary macronutrient utilized to fuel muscle activity, so the idea of exercising in the “fat-burning” zone is based on science. But keep in mind that you're in the so-called fat-burning zone right now while you're reading this. Traditional aerobic exercise like running, cycling or using common health club machines can be effective for expending energy and the body will metabolize more fat for energy at lower intensities. However, exercising at a higher intensity or performing short, high-intensity work intervals can lead to a greater total amount of calories being expended during a workout.

The body burns 5 calories of energy for every liter of oxygen consumed. During most traditional aerobic training, the legs are the primary muscles being engaged. Performing a full-body, strength-training circuit with exercises for both the upper and lower body can involve a tremendous amount of muscle tissue, which results in more calories being burned during a workout. When more total calories are burned from strength training, a greater amount of calories are metabolized from fat when compared to only exercising in the “fat burning” zone. Aerobic training can be an efficient way to burn calories, but it often doesn't provide enough stimulus to increase levels of lean muscle, which are metabolically more efficient because they burn calories even when the body is at rest. In addition, circuit training with heavy resistance can increase the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which means your metabolism stays elevated for a period of time after exercise and you continue to burn calories hours after the end of your workout.

Jen Sinkler, a former women's national team rugby player, is recognized as one of the most influential fitness bloggers by Shape Magazine. She responded to a question about her workout program by simply stating: "I lift weights." When asked what she does for cardio, Sinkler replied, “I lift weights faster.” Jen has turned this simple phrase into a whole platform for exercise that she promotes on her eponymous blog Thrive with Jen Sinkler.

Myth 4: A combination of light weights and high repetitions is the best way to “tone up.”

Ugh. Nothing could be further from the truth. Light weights can be useful for improving the strength-endurance of muscle tissue. However, neither light weight nor aerobic endurance training is effective for stimulating the muscle fibers responsible for growth and definition. The most effective way to create muscle growth and definition is to activate type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers using heavy weight or explosive movements.

There are different types of muscle fibers in the body: slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow-twitch fibers produce energy using oxygen and are used to sustain long periods of muscle work, such as maintaining good posture or performing endurance training. Fast-twitch fibers are capable of producing more force in a shorter period of time because they produce energy anaerobically. When it comes to muscle definition, a common goal for exercise, the fast-twitch fibers are responsible for that response. (For an in-depth understanding of how to increase lean muscle, follow this link.) Light weights can be used to train for definition if (and only if) the muscle is worked to fatigue (meaning you can’t perform another single repetition). Lifting 5 pounds for 12 reps is not enough to stimulate the fast-twitch fibers if you are capable of doing a 13th repetition.

“Strength training helped me gain confidence because I would achieve gains in appearance while losing weight. When other women find out I lift, they become curious and I love sharing the benefits. Putting the gloves on, hearing the plates stack together and lifting heavy things is one of the things I look forward to the most when I exercise.”
-ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor Teresa Ma

Disillusioned by elusive results from hours of cardio training, women are discovering the weight-loss benefits of strength training. It's not clear exactly what is responsible for this surging popularity, but one thing is clear—women have been adding more resistance training and high-intensity exercises to their workout programs.

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Proper posture is vital to our health and overall comfort; and it isn’t just about standing up straight! Posture is important while sitting, standing, walking and running. 

Poor posture is typically the result of muscular imbalances throughout the body. One such imbalance in the neck area can cause Forward Head Posture (FHP), where the muscles in the front of the neck (cervical flexors) are short and “tight” while the muscles in the back of the neck (cervical extensors) are over-lengthened and weak. With FHP, you'll notice the ear is positioned in front of the shoulder instead of directly above it.

Studies have shown that for every inch your head moves forward, it gains approximately 10lbs in weight, causing the muscles in the neck, shoulder and back to work overtime! This condition is very common since many of us spend hours sitting improperly at a computer, driving without using the headrest, or carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. Over time, FHP can cause chronic pain, nerve damage, intense headaches and even breathing problems. 

Here are a few ways to improve your Forward Head Posture:
- AWARENESS: Pay closer attention to how you are sitting at your desk at work. Be sure to have your computer monitor or tablet at eye level to avoid looking down for prolonged periods
- MOVEMENT: Set an alarm to remind you to get up and walk around every hour. Sitting for an extended period of time can increase the pressure on your neck, shoulders and back
- STRETCHING: Be sure to extend your chest and shoulder muscles upon waking and several times throughout the day. 
- : Position your car’s headrest an inch or two away from your head to increase neck support while driving
- INVEST: Meet with a reputable fitness professional who can teach you more about alignment and corrective exercises. Pay for prevention now instead of paying for treatment later!

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Resistance Training for Bone Health

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Recently, strength training tips and tricks have been popping up all over the internet. The obvious benefits are increased strength and muscular definition. It’s important to also understand that these resistance exercises will also increase the density of your bones. Better bone density increases the body’s calcium stores and decreases the chances of developing osteoporosis. Some examples of resistance training workouts include:

- Strength training machines

- Resistance band exercises

- Body weight movements

- Dumbbell exercises

 Pick things up and put them down!! Your bones are getting stronger each time!!

-afiya

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Yoga IS for You

 

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The ancient practice of yoga has become increasingly popular over the years. But I still hear people say, “I can’t do that.” Or “I’m not flexible enough.” Nonsense! There are numerous benefits to practicing yoga and anyone can do it! According to the American Osteopathic Association, some physical benefits include:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved respiration, energy and vitality
- The maintenance of a balanced metabolism
- Weight reduction
- Cardio and circulatory health
- Improved athletic performance
- Protection from injury

So what are you waiting for? Join a class, get an app, watch a video! Try something new!! #Namaste#fitfam!

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Fall Eating

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As the temperature cools and the days grow shorter, some of our healthy habits may take a backseat. Studies have shown that people increase eating, especially carbohydrates, during the fall months. Luckily, there are many nutrient-rich foods that flourish in the fall months! Start planning meals that incorporate apples, squash, pears, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and cauliflower. These, and many other fall foods, are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and can easily be found in your local grocery or farmer’s market! When you need hearty, rich meals, cook soups with broth instead of cream; stews with lots of veggies and less potatoes; pies with egg whites and low-fat milk. And don’t forget to move!

Take advantage of the moderate weather and talk long walks or ride your bike in the park. Let’s Fall into healthy habits, #fitfam! -afiya

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