Archive for July, 2013

Weight Training for Women … to torch those calories!

July 30, 2013

Tired of sweating all over every piece of cardio equipment at the gym and still getting zero love from the scale? You need more iron. Not in your diet—in your hands. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a mere 21 percent of women strength train two or more times a week. What you don’t know: When you skip the weight room, you lose out on the ultimate flab melter. Those two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips. Even better, all that new muscle pays off in a long-term boost to your metabolism, which helps keep your body lean and sculpted. Suddenly, dumbbells sound like a smart idea. Need more convincing? Read on for more solid reasons why you should build flex time into your day.

Torch Calories 24/7
Though cardio burns more calories than strength training during those 30 sweaty minutes, pumping iron slashes more overall. A study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn’t lifted weights. At three sessions a week, that’s 15,600 calories a year, or about four and a half pounds of fat—without having to move a muscle.

What’s more, increasing that afterburn is as easy as upping the weight on your bar. In a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, women burned nearly twice as many calories in the two hours after their workout when they lifted 85 percent of their max load for eight reps than when they did more reps (15) at a lower weight (45 percent of their max).

There’s a longer-term benefit to all that lifting, too: Muscle accounts for about a third of the average woman’s weight, so it has a profound effect on her metabolism, says Kenneth Walsh, director of Boston University School of Medicine’s Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute. Specifically, that effect is to burn extra calories, because muscle, unlike fat, is metabolically active. In English: Muscle chews up calories even when you’re not in the gym. Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle and you’ll burn an additional 25 to 50 calories a day without even trying.

Target Your Trouble Spots
If you’ve ever tried to ditch the saddlebags and ended up a bra size smaller instead, you know that where you lose is as important as how much. As great as it might be to see the numbers on the scale go down, when you’re on a strict cardio-only program your victory is likely to be empty. A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared dieters who lifted three times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Both groups ate the same number of calories, and both lost the same amount—26 pounds—but the lifters lost pure chub, while about 8 percent of the aerobicizers’ drop came from valuable muscle. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at whittling intra-abdominal fat—the Buddha-belly kind that’s associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer.

Just don’t rely exclusively on the scale to track your progress in the battle of the bulge. Because muscle is denser than fat, it squeezes the same amount of weight into less space. “Often, our clients’ scales won’t drop as fast, but they’ll fit into smaller jeans,” says Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California. And it’s the number on the tag inside your bootcuts you want to get lower, right?

Start Pumping
Begin with three weight-training sessions each week, recommends Joe Dowdell, founder and co-owner of the New York City gym Peak Performance. For the greatest calorie burn, aim for total-body workouts that target your arms, abs, legs, and back, and go for moves that will zap several different muscle groups at a time—for example, squats, which call on muscles in both the front and back of your legs, as opposed to leg extensions, which isolate the quads.

For each exercise you do, try to perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps with a weight heavy enough that by your last rep you can’t eke out another one without compromising your form. To spark further muscle building, William Kraemer, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut, suggests alternating moderate-intensity workouts of 8 to 10 reps with lighter-weight 12- to 15-rep sets and super-hard 3- to 5-rep sets. (For a more detailed fat-blasting workout, check out “Do This at Home,” below.)

And remember to fuel your workout properly. Too many dieters make the fatal error of cutting back on crucial muscle-maintaining protein when they want to slash their overall calorie intake. The counterproductive result: They lose muscle along with any fat that might have melted away. Sports nutritionist Cassandra Forsythe, Ph.D., co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, recommends that you eat one gram of protein for every pound of your body weight that does not come from fat. For instance, a 140-pound woman whose body fat is 25 percent would need 105 grams of high-quality protein. That’s roughly four servings a day; the best sources are chicken or other lean meats, soy products, and eggs.

Ready to turn yourself into a lean, mean, calorie-torching machine? Then go get pumped!

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Benefits of Positive Thinking

July 28, 2013

You have probably had someone tell you to “look on the bright side” or to “see the cup as half full.” Chances are good that the people who make these comments are positive thinkers. Researchers are finding more and more evidence pointing to the many benefits of optimism and positive thinking.

Such findings suggest that not only are positive thinkers healthier and less stressed, they also have greater overall well-being. According to positive psychology researcher Suzanne Segerstrom, “Setbacks are inherent to almost every worthwhile human activity, and a number of studies show that optimists are in general both psychologically and physiologically healthier.”

Even if positive thinking does not come naturally to you, there are plenty of great reasons to start cultivating affirmative thoughts and minimizing negative self-talk.

Positive Thinkers Cope Better With Stress

When faced with stressful situations, positive thinkers cope more effectively than pessimists. In one study, researchers found that when optimists encounter a disappointment (such as not getting a job or promotion) they are more likely to focus on things they can do to resolve the situation. Rather than dwelling on their frustrations or things that they cannot change, they will devise a plan of action and ask others for assistance and advice. Pessimists, on the other hand, simply assume that the situation is out of their control and there is nothing they can do to change it.

Optimism Can Improve Your Immunity

In recent years, researchers have found that your mind can have a powerful effect on your body. Immunity is one area where your thoughts and attitudes can have a particularly powerful influence. In one study, researchers found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine. Researchers Segerstrom and Sephton found that people who were optimistic about a specific and important part of their lives, such as how well they were doing in school, exhibited a stronger immune response than those who had a more negative view of the situation.

Positive Thinking Is Good for Your Health

Not only can positive thinking impact your ability to cope with stress and your immunity, it also has an impact on your overall well-being. The Mayo Clinic reports a number of health benefits associated with optimism, including a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular problems, less depression, and an increased lifespan. While researchers are not entirely clear on why positive thinking benefits health, some suggest that positive people might lead healthier lifestyles. By coping better with stress and avoiding unhealthy behaviors, they are able to improve their health and well-being.

It Can Make You More Resilient

Resilience refers to our ability to cope with problems. Resilient people are able to face a crisis or trauma with strength and resolve. Rather than falling apart in the face of such stress, they have the ability to carry on and eventually overcome such adversity. It may come as no surprise to learn that positive thinking can play a major role in resilience. When dealing with a challenge, optimists typically look at what they can do to fix the problem. Instead of giving up hope, they marshal their resources and are willing to ask others for help.

Researchers have also found that in the wake of a crisis, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, positive thoughts and emotions encourage thriving and provide a sort of buffer against depression among resilient people. Fortunately experts also believe that such positivism and resilience can be cultivated. By nurturing positive emotions, even in the face of terrible events, people can reap both short-term and long-term rewards, including managing stress levels, lessening depression, and building coping skills that will serve them well in the future.

Final Thoughts

Before you put on those rose-colored glasses, it is important to note that positive thinking is not about taking a “Pollyanna” approach to life. In fact, researchers have found that in some instances, optimism might not serve you well. For example, people who are excessively optimistic might overestimate their own abilities and take on more than they can handle, ultimately leading to more stress and anxiety.

Instead of ignoring reality in favor of the silver lining, psychologists suggest that positive thinking centers on such things as a belief in your abilities, a positive approach to challenges, and trying to make the most of bad situations. Bad things will happen. Sometimes you will be disappointed or hurt by the actions of others. This does not mean that the world is out to get you or that all people will let you down. Instead, positive thinkers will look at the situation realistically, search for ways that they can improve the situation, and try to learn from their experiences.


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Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Lamb Osso Bucco

July 25, 2013

Healthy Inspirations Coffs Harbour

osso bucco

(serves 4-6)


  • 1.5 kg cross cut lamb shanks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped peeled tomatoes
  • ½ bulb fennel, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Large handful chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Season lamb with salt and pepper and heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. In batches, brown each of the cut lamb shanks well on both sides. Place the browned lamb shanks on a platter and tent with foil.
  2. Place the carrot, celery, onion, tomatoes, fennel, garlic, and thyme in the Dutch oven. Stir and sauté until they begin to soften, and then pour in the white wine and chicken stock. Reduce heat to low, and scrape any bits off the bottom of the Dutch oven.
  3. Once your liquid begins to simmer, add the bay leaf and the browned lamb shanks in an even layer.
  4. Place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven for 2 to 2½ hours or until the meat easily falls from the bone.
  5. Carefully remove the crosscut lamb shanks to a platter and tent them with foil. Remove the fat from the remaining braising liquid if you choose, and simmer it over medium heat until the sauce is reduced by ¼.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, garlic and lemon juice to make a gremolata.
  7. Plate the lamb osso bucco with some sauce and vegetables and top with a light sprinkling of the gremolata.
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Character Traits of Sexy People

July 23, 2013


In an era of public booty-bouncing and other ubiquitous in-your-face expressions of sensuality, it’s about time we had a new standard of sexy.

Real sexiness is so much more than physical shape and form.  It’s more than style and wardrobe, attitude and visible swag.  And it’s certainly more than the lopsided exposed skin to covered skin ratio depicted on today’s popular media channels.

We are increasingly in desperate need of a more enduring standard, one that includes more than face and body – one that includes the shape and form of internal qualities, those that add joy and passion to life, those of heart, mind and soul.

“Sexiness is a state of mind – a comfortable state of being.”
―Halle Berry

Have you ever seen someone across a crowded room you were immediately attracted to, approached them and got to know the person up close and personal, and then couldn’t remember for the life of you how you ever found them attractive?

On the other hand, have you met someone who had no particular appeal at first glance, and then after getting to know them you suddenly discovered pure sexiness oozing from their pores?

Deep, moving sexiness is more than mere physicality and more than swaying hips and pouty lips.  It’s more than broad shoulders and six pack abs.  The most enduring form of sexiness is the most endearing trait and the clearest mirror of the human soul: happiness.

It’s time we elevate happiness to its proper place in the sexiness pantheon by learning and applying these seven character traits of happiness (and therefore sexiness):

1.  Moral Courage

Happy people stand up for what’s right and don’t get pushed around by peer pressure into the newest fad or trend.  They have the courage, conviction and inner strength to do what’s right even while others reshape themselves into ever-shifting expressions of someone else’s standards, becoming shadows of other’s values.

Chameleons are not very sexy creatures.  But real men and real women who know what they believe and value, and stand up courageously for those beliefs and values are tremendously sexy!

2.  Self-Confidence

Happiness requires a degree of confidence that allows us to believe we have value, that we are worthy of love and friendship and success.  Happy people have faith in themselves and in their ability to develop the skills and qualities needed to become highly competent at living life well.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s not the pseudo-confidence that hides insecurities under cocky exteriors that shout their accomplishments and exaggerate their strengths and experiences.  It’s a humble self-acceptance and self-love that genuinely feels comfortable in their own skin.

Not much is sexier than someone who humbly exudes self-confidence.

3.  Thoughtfulness

They say nice people finish last, but that’s just not true.  As a matter of fact, jerks are never completely trusted or respected by people who respect themselves.  Happy people are thoughtful people.  They consider the needs of others.  Making a difference, in fact, takes center stage in their lives; it’s an important part of their self-identity.

Their thoughtfulness is measured in how they treat others, including those they don’t know, and in countless silent acts of kindness.  If you’re not convinced that thoughtful people are both happy and sexy, just ask anyone in a loving relationship with a few years under their belt how sexy thoughtfulness is to them and how thoroughly unsexy its opposite is.

4.  Passion

Happiness at its highest level includes living a life of passion and purpose.  Happy lives are directed lives, pointed at something deeply meaningful.  The happiest amongst us are excited about living because every day offers them another opportunity to do what they love, because truly passionate people have many interests, they are rarely bored, adrift or indolent.

Passion and purpose are ‘sexiness’ personified.  Sexy people love life and love people and love what they spend their time doing.  You may know people who are impassioned by nothing, who sit around and waste ungodly amounts of time.  Are they sexy?  Not at all.

5.  Self-Responsible

Have you ever met a happy person who regularly evades responsibility, blames and points fingers and makes excuses for their unsatisfying lives?  Me either.  Happy people accept responsibility for how their lives unfold.  They believe their own happiness is a byproduct of their own thinking, beliefs, attitudes, character and behavior.

And just as happy people never blame others, external circumstances or the universe for what is or isn’t a part of their lives, sexy people don’t either.  Just think about the epitome of the unsexy: A whiny, sniveling, accusing, blaming, irresponsible victim of life.  Not happy.  Not sexy.

6. Honest

Liars hide from the truth.  They lack the courage to stand up to the reality of their lives.  They hide behind words and camouflage – their hidden agenda behind a web of stories and verbal slights of hand.  Happy people don’t live that way.  Honesty is a hallmark of the happiest amongst us.  It is also a characteristic of the dangerously sexy.

There is no sexiness in a liar.  They breed distrust.  As a matter of fact, lying is one of the quickest ways to ruin a beautiful relationship.  Indeed, trust is one of the sexiest characteristics of the singularly sexy.

7. Self-accepting

Happy people are authentic.  They are real and know who they are and what they like.  They are in touch with their feelings and spend time learning and growing and developing.  Self-accepting people may forgive themselves of their own shortcomings, but they don’t excuse them.

They look their weaknesses square in the eye, accept them as they are, then go to work growing and improving and transforming them into strengths.  Self-acceptance is never used as an excuse for stagnation or laziness or apathy by the truly self-accepting.

Someone with that kind of inner calm, self-awareness and forward momentum is almost universally considered sexy and attractive to others.


Our superficial culture honors the young and thin.  It holds up the tall and full-lipped and big-bosomed as the epitome of sexy.  But that’s a woefully shallow brand of sexiness.  That’s a standard of sexy that is only skin deep, lacking substance and depth; it misses the point of true and enduring sexiness.

After all, youth eventually fades to gray, vertebrate compress, our thin parts plump and our plump parts thin, lips wrinkle and skin sags.

On the other hand, intelligence deepens, wisdom expands, experience informs, character lifts, hearts are softened and intellectual backbones stiffen with time and effort.

Sexiness can therefore no longer be held hostage to a superficial culture addicted to taut skin on bony frames with sculpted faces.  It’s time to take back the very notion of sexiness and recast it in the mirror of more profound and enduring qualities.

It’s time, in a word, to establish happiness as the new standard of sexy.

But a single voice can’t do much to change the cultural ideal.  So please spread the word… to take the message of sexy happiness far and wide.  Like and Tweet and otherwise share this post if you are ready to lift a new standard from the tired ashes of a jaded concept.

Perhaps as a happy byproduct, more of us will be able to look in the mirror with confidence and walk away with a strut, knowing we’re deeply and happily hot.

Your turn…

What character traits make a person attractive in your eyes?  What are the top qualities you look for in a significant other or a close friend?  Share your thoughts with the community by leaving a comment below.

Author Bio:  Ken Wert blogs at Meant to be Happy where he inspires readers to live with purpose, act with character, think with clarity and grow with courage on the way to a life of happiness.  Sign up for his free eBook, A Walk Through Happiness!  Or follow him on Twitter.

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Yoga beats aerobic exercise for instant brain boost

July 21, 2013

US researchers have found that even a short 20-minute bout of yoga practise can immediately enhance brain function.

In a study involving 30 young female subjects, a team from the University of Illinois found that those who participated in a yoga session performed significantly better in working memory and inhibitory control tests immediately post-exercise than they did following moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise of a similar duration.

Study leader Neha Gothe, who was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at the time of the study but who is now a professor of kinesiology, health and sport studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, said; ‘Yoga is an ancient Indian science and way of life that includes not only physical movements and postures, but also regulated breathing and meditation. The practice involves an active attentional or mindfulness component, but its potential benefits have not been thoroughly explored.’

Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley, director of the Exercise Psychology Laboratory that conducted the study said; ‘Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise in the US and it is imperative to systematically examine its health benefits, especially the mental health benefits that this unique mind-body form of activity may offer.’

For the yoga session, study subjects undertook a progression of supine, seated and standing postures comprising regulated breathing and isometric contraction and relaxation of different muscle groups, before ending in a meditative posture. For the comparative aerobic exercise session participants walked or jogged for 20 minutes on a treadmill.

The results surprised the researchers: ‘It appears that following yoga practice, the participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout. The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath. Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities.’

Source: Journal of Physical Activity and Health,

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Steak & Greens

July 18, 2013

Healthy Inspirations Coffs Harbour

Serves 4


  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 500g beef round steak, about 1 cm thick
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 medium green capsicum, sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 bunch bok choy
  • Large handful green beans, top and tailed
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cut steak into slices.
  2. Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and onions and cook until the onions turn slightly translucent.
  3. Stir in the green capsicum, water and garlic salt. Cook another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil and steam the broccoli for a couple of minutes. Add the bok choy and green beans and steam for three minutes.
  5. Season the steak mixture with black pepper and serve on a bed of bok choy with a side of broccoli and green beans.
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What to Eat Before, During, and After Exercise

July 16, 2013

An interview with sports dietitian Christine Rosenbloom.  Whether you’re a “weekend warrior” trying to stay fit or an athlete training for a marathon, what you eat can affect how you perform. Eating right can give you the edge to help energize your workout or reach that 26th mile. But which foods are best for fitness activities, and which should you avoid? With so many sports drinks, bars, powders, and supplements to choose from, how do you know which are best? Or can you skip the expensive supplements and get everything you need from a well-planned diet?

What is the best thing to eat before exercising for energy and endurance?

Fueling exercise requires quality carbohydrates, lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and fluids. Your muscles rely on carbohydrate foods like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables for a quick energy source. Protein is needed to build and maintain muscles and for healthy blood cells. Blood cells deliver nutrients and oxygen to working muscles.

Foods provide the gas to the body’s engine, and fluids provide the water to your body’s radiator. Without these crucial fuels and fluids, your body will have a hard time performing at its best.

Is there an ideal pre-sport or exercise meal?

The ideal pre-sport meal has five characteristics:

  1. Low fat
  2. Moderate in carbohydrates and protein
  3. Low fiber
  4. Contains fluids
  5. Made up of familiar, well-tolerated foods.

The pre-game meal is not the time to try a new food.  A grilled chicken sandwich or a slice of cheese pizza might fit the pre-game meal description, but stay clear of the fried food (including french fries), greasy burgers, and soft drinks.

Why is it so important to drink plenty of liquids during exercise?

Not only does being well hydrated improve your performance, it can save your life. Water acts as your body’s cooling system; without sufficient water during exercise your body temperature can reach dangerously high levels.

The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of fluids with meals and drink about two cups (16 ounces) of water two hours before exercise. Monitor your hydration status through two simple measures:

  • Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace lost weight with 2 cups of fluids for each pound lost.
  • Check the color of your urine. When you’re hydrated, your urine will be a light straw color.

Is it better to stay hydrated with sports drinks or plain water?

Recreational athletes can drink water for hydration. But if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes in hot, humid conditions, sports drinks provide not only fluid, but carbohydrates and sodium. Sports drinks are also a good choice if you play team sports like soccer or football, especially when the temperature and humidity are high.  If you are a heavy sweater, a sports drink might be preferable to water.

Is it bad to exercise on an empty stomach, especially in the morning?

It really depends on the type of exercise — a brisk walk or light jog on an empty stomach is fine; just drink a glass of water before heading out the door. For more intense exercise, eat some easy-to-digest carbs (a packet of instant grits, a slice of toast,  half a plain bagel, a banana, or cup of fruit cocktail washed down with a glass of water) to help provide fuel. After sleeping, the overnight fast can deplete your liver stores of carbohydrate, so a quick boost of carbs before longer exercise is recommended.

Can eating a high-protein diet help bulk up muscles?

The only way to bulk up muscles is to hit the gym and perform progressive resistance exercises. Protein can help provide the raw material to build muscle, but the protein has to be pulled into muscles through exercise. Aim to eat a small amount of protein (10-20 grams, or about 2-3 ounces of lean meat, 2 cups of low-fat milk, or a scoop of most protein powders) after each bout of weight training to give your muscles the needed building blocks.

Why do you need to eat protein or drink protein shakes after exercising?

Muscles need protein for recovery and growth, and the best time to deliver protein appears to be right after exercise. Providing high-quality protein after exercise gives your muscles the fuel and the building blocks needed for both repair and for growth.

Protein shakes and powders carry a certain allure, but your muscles don’t care if the protein comes from a hard-boiled egg, glass of chocolate milk or whey protein shake.  Whatever you choose, more isn’t better — only 10 to 20 grams of protein is needed to provide amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to muscles.

With so many sports drinks, bars, and more to choose from, how do you make the best choices?

A good sports drink contains 14-15 grams of carbohydrate in 8 ounces. It should also contain about 110 milligrams of sodium and 30 milligrams of potassium in the same volume. But if you are exercising to lose weight, stick to water or a “lighter” version of sports drinks with fewer carbs and calories.

Look for energy bars that contain about 5 grams of protein, with some carbohydrate (preferably with more naturally occurring sugars) and very little fat. Many energy bars are just glorified, expensive candy bars, so remember that “energy” means calories and watch out for high-calorie bars. They are helpful for athletes on the go, so if you can’t eat before a long tennis match, an energy bar can help.

Choose protein powders made from whey protein or milk proteins (milk protein contains two types of proteins, both whey and casein). Use them within 30 minutes after exercising to provide needed amino acids to muscles. For weight gain, use a protein drink as an evening snack.

What are gels and what role do they play in fitness performance?

Gels are good for endurance athletes but are not needed by the recreational athlete. Gels are concentrated forms of carbohydrate and can help long-distance cyclists and runners get some quick fuel during exercise. Since they are so concentrated, they should be washed down with water to avoid stomach upset.

How do you know if you’re getting the right amount of calories and nutrients?

To get an accurate assessment of your calorie and nutrient needs, see a registered dietitian or a certified specialist in sports dietetics. For a quick, but less accurate assessment, try to track your energy needs and your exercise.

Are there any benefits to exercising in the morning vs. at night?

The best advice is to just do it. There are no benefits to either time; it’s simply a matter of personal choice.  Some people prefer morning exercise and the satisfaction that it is done without worrying that it will be squeezed out by their daily routine. Others prefer to exercise later in the day, when muscles are warmed up, and it helps revive them for the evening. The only caution may be not to exercise close to bedtime. Some experts believe that the increase in body temperature and metabolism may interfere with sleep. Exercise is great for sleep, and the National Sleep Foundation’s tip for sleep hygiene suggests that in those without a sleep disorder exercise at any time is good for sleep.

Is carbo loading a useful strategy for long-distance athletes?

Carbo loading, or stocking up on carbohydrates before a sporting event, has gone out of favor with most athletes.  Eating adequate carbohydrates during training provides muscles with all the glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrate) that they need.

Athletes who exercise for longer than two hours usually consume some form of carbohydrate during exercise (sports drinks, carbohydrate gels, or energy bars) to provide additional fuel. Carbohydrate loading (also called “muscle glycogen supercompensation”) should only be considered for those performing very hard, continuous exercise that lasts for 90 minutes or more, and should be done under the supervision of a sports dietitian.

What are good, healthy snacks for kids during sport activities or practice?

When it is your turn to bring the snacks, keep it simple and healthy. Let’s face it; young kids don’t burn a lot of calories in a recreational weekly soccer game, so provide healthy snacks in small quantities. Orange or apple slices; peanut butter sandwiches cut into quarters; string cheese and whole-grain crackers; and trail mix made with whole-grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit; along with fruit juice, are good choices.

Can you lose weight without having to exercise?

Yes, you can, but the best strategy is a combination of cutting calories and exercising.  Exercise has other benefits that can help with weight loss. It improves mood and self-esteem, as well as reduces risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Exercise burns fewer calories than you might think. Walking 1 mile burns about 100 calories, and 1 pound of body fat is a storage depot for 3,500 calories. You’d have to walk 35 miles to lose 1 pound of fat.

What changes should you make to your diet if your goal is to lose fat?

If your goal is to lose weight and target fat, you need to follow the same kind of healthy diet as above, but be sure you get enough calories to fuel your physical activity. Cut back on refined, sugar-rich foods and beverages and high-fat and fried foods, and scale back your portions to gradually lose body fat.  A combination of exercise and a calorie-controlled diet will be the most effective way to promote fat loss.



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Not All Calories Are Equal

July 14, 2013

How much do you really know about the calorie? Do you know how to determine your daily calorie intake? How many calories are in a gram of fat? Too many questions?


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Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Beef Bourguignon

July 11, 2013

 Healthy Inspirations Coffs Harbour

Serves 6


  • 750 g topside or round steak, cubed
  • Plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 3 rashers bacon, rind and fat removed
  • Cooking oil spray
  • 12 pickling onions
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 500 ml salt-reduced beef stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 200 g button mushrooms
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Lightly toss the beef in seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Cut bacon into 2cm squares.
  2. Heat large pan over medium heat, spray with oil and cook bacon quickly. Remove bacon and add beef in batches, browning well. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add onions to pan and cook until golden. Return bacon and meat to pan with remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove bay leaves and serve with steamed vegetables.
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Male and Body Image Issues

July 9, 2013


Body image is how you perceive, think and feel about your body. Men can have a poor body image. Poor body image may contribute to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating in men.

Your body image is what you think you look like. This may have little to do with your actual appearance. Around one in four Australian men in the healthy weight range believe themselves to be fat, while 17 per cent of men are on a weight loss diet at any given time. Men also worry about being muscular. A desire to fit the ideal masculine image of lean muscularity means that over-exercising and the use of dangerous and illegal drugs (like steroids) are on the rise.

It’s estimated that about 45 per cent of Western men are unhappy with their bodies to some degree, compared with only 15 per cent some 25 years ago. Gay men, models, dancers and athletes are particularly vulnerable to poor body image or feeling insecure about their bodies. This is because they are more likely to be judged (or believe they will be judged) according to their appearance.

Body image and self-destructive behaviours

A negative body image encourages a range of self-destructive behaviours, including:

  • Fad dieting – around 17 per cent of men are dieting at any given time. Those diets are not always nutritionally sound.
  • Eating disorders – one in 10 people with anorexia nervosa is now male, while 4 per cent of men are purging (vomiting or exercising compulsively, also known as bulimia) and about 3 per cent of men have problems with binge eating.
  • Exercise dependence – around 20 per cent of regular exercisers (approximately five per cent of the population) are addicted to exercise, either psychologically or physically.
  • Steroid abuse – around three per cent of Australian teenage boys use muscle-enhancing drugs (like steroids).

Causes of negative body image

Some of the factors that contribute to a negative body image include:

  • Teasing in childhood and adolescence (for being too thin, too weak or too fat)
  • Peer pressure among teenage boys to be tough and strong
  • A cultural tendency to judge people on their appearance
  • The emphasis on male sports players as role models for boys
  • Advertising campaigns and media coverage featuring idealised male images
  • Promotion by society of the ideal man as always being strong, lean and muscular
  • Well-meaning public health campaigns that urge people to lose weight.

Body image problems in Australian men

Most experts believe the real figures on eating and exercise disorders among Australian men could be much higher. Men are less likely to seek medical help than women for any type of illness. Since worrying about weight and body shape has sometimes been seen as a ‘female’ problem, men are even less likely to ask for help, for fear of looking weak.

Improving body image

A negative body image develops over the course of your life, so changing it can take time and effort. Suggestions on improving your body image include:

  • Reflect on your experiences and try to identify the influences on your body image from childhood.
  • Try weighing yourself less often. Focus on health not weight.
  • Make a pact with yourself to treat your body with respect, which includes eating well and not embarking on punishing exercise routines, or taking drugs.
  • Try to strike a healthy balance between being concerned about how your body looks, rather than the way it functions.
  • Get informed by reading up on body image issues.
  • Develop reasons for exercising (such as stress release or improved concentration), rather than concentrating only on changing your body shape.

Help for body image issues

If you are feeling depressed about your body, or if you are developing destructive behaviours (like crash dieting, binge eating or compulsive exercising), then professional help is a good idea. There are counsellors and psychologists, trained in the areas of body image, who can help you change negative beliefs and behaviours.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Counsellor
  • Dietitians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942
    Coffs Coast Health Club 6658 6222

Things to remember

  • Body image is the way you perceive, think and feel about your body.
  • Poor body image is a male problem too, with around half of all men feeling unhappy with their body shape or size.
  • Figures on male anorexia, bulimia and exercise dependence could be much higher than quoted, since men are traditionally reluctant to seek medical help

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