Archive for February, 2015

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Cinnamon Curry Steak

February 26, 2015


Is Your Smartphone Making You Depressed?

February 24, 2015

phoneuseIt’s been estimated that the average mobile phone user checks a device 150 times a day, and nearly a third of smartphone users admit that they’re addicted to their devices. Everyone knows that having your nose in your phone is a pretty unhealthy habit, but new research suggests that it could even be a sign of depression.

According to new Baylor University research, people who check their phones constantly could be trying to improve a negative mood.

The study, published in June in the journal Personality and Individual Differencesand recently revived by the Daily Mail, investigates the link between phone addiction and personality, finding that excessive use may go hand-in-hand with emotional instability.

The researchers asked 346 college students to complete an online survey measuring smartphone use, Big Five personality traits (conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and extraversion), materialism and need for arousal.

The data revealed that those who use their smartphones more frequently are more prone to moodiness, materialism and temperamental behavior, and are less able to focus their attention on the task at hand. (These two things may in fact go hand-in-hand, as a tendency to mind-wander has been associated with unhappy moods.) Unsurprisingly, people with impulsive personalities were also more prone to addictive smartphone use.

And despite stereotypes of introverts as being the ones at the party who sit in a corner fiddling with their iPhones, introversion was one quality that the researchers found not to be associated with smartphone addiction. Conscientiousness was also not associated with smartphone addiction.

“Much like a variety of substance addictions, cell phone addiction may be an attempt at mood repair,” the study’s authors wrote. “Incessant checking of emails, sending texts, tweeting, and surfing the web may act as pacifiers for the unstable individual distracting him or herself from the worries of the day and providing solace, albeit temporarily, from such concerns.”

Pervious research has also linked addictive smartphone behavior with loneliness and shyness, poor sleep and less engagement at work.

Article sourced here:

For Women Only – The 3 Weakest Muscle Groups

February 22, 2015

1. Your Chest

One of the most common weight room stereotypes: That pecs are a “guy thing.” Women naturally have a smaller ratio of muscle-to-fat in their chests compared with men. Unfortunately, this means that many women get frustrated with chest-strengthening exercises and either forgo them entirely or do them with improper form, according to Montenegro.

Think about it: How many times have you collapsed mid push-up and thought, “I’m strong! Why can’t I do this?” It’s because most women actually have to train in order to do what, for men, may seem easy.

Strength Training For Women

Strengthen It: The Eccentric Bench Press and Push-Up

To master this move, prepare to slow down and put the emphasis on the eccentric (downward) motion rather than the press upwards. (You can even have someone else raise the barbell for you.) This actually works your chest more intensely than a standard bench press, since your muscles get stronger moving eccentrically than concentrically. Plus, it trains your underlying core muscles (more on that later), and your triceps, which are naturally small and tend to tucker out even before your larger chest muscles do.

How to: Lay flat on a bench, holding a barbell just above your chest, elbows positioned near the sides of your body. Your palms should be facing up, hands chest-width apart. Press the barbell directly upwards until arms are fully extended (or have a spotter help you lift it), and then slowly lower it back down to your chest for a count of four to five seconds. Perform three to four sets of eight to 10 reps each week.

For a bodyweight-only option, push-ups are another complex movement that will hit the chest muscles (in addition to the shoulders, arms and core). Complete the standard variation, or try incline (hands elevated) and decline (feet elevated), Montenegro suggests. That will help you train multiple areas within your pectoralis muscles. Once a week, complete three to four sets of as many reps of as you can manage with proper form.

2. Your Hamstrings

Many women are all about leg extensions, squats, lunges — and, of course, spinning —when they work out. And while they can all help strengthen your lower body, they emphasize the quadriceps more than they do the hammies, Montenegro says. “Women’s quadriceps actually tend to be about twice as strong as their hamstrings,” she says. Add in high heels and things can get more uneven; wearing pumps transfers your body weight forward, so your quadriceps work harder with every step.

This imbalance can make women vulnerable to knee injuries — especially since their knees are already under a lot of pressure. Women’s pelvises are naturally wider than men’s, meaning that the femur, which attaches to the pelvis and knee, doesn’t go straight up-and-down, but slants so that body forms an “X” shape, she explains. Add that to the fact that monthly spikes in your estrogen levels can make joints more flexible, and there’s no option but to strengthen your hammies in order to protect your knees.

Strength Training for Women

Strengthen It: The Dumbbell Single-Leg Deadlift

“One of the best exercise to work the hamstrings is the dumbbell single-leg deadlift,” Montenegro says. As you progress, you can perform barbell deadlifts to further train your hamstrings while also strengthening your lower back and glutes.

How to: Stand with feet together, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in the right hand. Keeping your back flat, begin to lean forward, hinging at the hip. Squeeze your left glute and hamstring and extend your right leg straight out behind you for balance. Your right arm will be perpendicular to your right leg. Return to starting position, switch sides. Shoot for three to four sets of eight reps on each side every week.

3. Your Core

Women’s bodies are built to be able to squeeze out a baby, meaning that the ligaments and tendons in your hips are more elastic and loose than those of the average guy, Montenegro says. Plus, ladies have a larger lumbar (low back) curve. So, to maintain correct posture, you need a killer core.

Unfortunately, most women don’t have the strong midsection they need. While there may be plenty of “core-sculpting” of the (look at me!) abdominal muscles (often through crunch and crunch variations), these movements don’t give their deep, stabilizing muscles the attention they need, she says. Those internal muscles are what is going to keep you upright and help you power through everything from running to kickboxing.

Strength Training for Women

Strengthen It: The Plank (left) and the Bird-Dog (right)

Your core is so important, we’ve got two moves for you to try. Plank it up with side and front variations of the core-strengthening exercise, or try the bird-dog, which is awesome for your back, Montenegro says.

Plank How-to: For the plank, support yourself on your forearms, keeping your shoulders over your elbows, knees up, butt down and back flat. Want to hit all areas of your midsection? Add in the side plank, where you’ll support yourself on one forearm, body angled to the side and knees lifted. With your chest open, raise your other forearm raised straight above your body. Once per week, complete each plank variation three times, holding the position for 30 seconds and working up to 60.

Article including pictures sourced from:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Baked Trout

February 19, 2015

baked trout

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Knee Pain

February 17, 2015

Knees up Mother Brown – as they use to say.  What? Can’t get your knees up? Why not?  Is it an old netball injury flaring up, are you carrying too much weight, have you become stiff and ‘arthritic’?  Whatever the situation is with your knees having problems with them will have a major impact on your day to day activities.   Don’t take pain in your body as part and parcel of ageing regardless of its origin.  It doesn’t have to be that way and often we are told that’s what you should expect now you are (insert your age here)!

Whether you see your doctor, physiotherapist, acupuncturist, masseur or other integrative therapist it doesn’t matter, get it checked out.  Living with pain and discomfort will zap your energy and patience and wear down your motivation.  Getting the problem addressed doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to continue with some sort of activity, in fact often you may just need to adjust what you are doing while the offending issue is sorted out.  You can always do upper body exercises,  non weight bearing activities or just different activities while your knees convalesce.

If on the other hand the aches and pains only occur after you’ve done your exercise or chosen activity then perhaps there is a problem in what or how you are doing whatever it is you do.   In this case modification of the activity may be necessary short or long term or just some technique adjustments.  Think how great it would be if you could move without pain and you didn’t have to be constantly reminded that your knee niggles when you step forward or you stand up and your sleep isn’t compromised because of the endless aching from your legs.

I’m not a medical professional but I am a movement professional and I hate seeing people not moving well or who are in pain.  So those of you out there and you know who you are, go and get it sorted out.  Find out what’s going on and get it addressed and who knows this time in a few weeks or months you may be reading your Saturday Advocate with a grin on your face because you got some advice  and those aches and pains are a distant memory!

Remember I am always happy to talk with you via phone, email or in person at Coffs Coast Health Club.  Give Glen a call on 66586222 or email

Boost your Thinking Skills with Exercise

February 15, 2015
New evidence shows tai chi has the potential to enhance thinking skills in older adults.

New evidence shows tai chi has the potential
to enhance thinking skills in older adults.

Moderate-intensity exercise can help improve your thinking and memory in just six months.

You know that exercising is necessary in order to preserve muscle strength, keep your heart strong, maintain a healthy body weight, and stave off chronic disease such as diabetes. But exercise can also help boost your thinking skills. “We know that exercise behaves like medicine to improve thinking skills. There’s a lot of science behind this,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.

How it works

Exercise boosts your memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. Direct means include physiological changes such as reducing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, and stimulating the production of growth factors, which are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. McGinnis.

Exercise can also boost memory and thinking indirectly by improving mood and sleep, and by reducing stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Is one exercise better than another?

We don’t know the answer to this question because almost all of the research has looked at walking. “But it’s likely that other forms of aerobic exercise that get your heart pumping might yield similar benefits,” explains Dr. McGinnis.

He points to a study published in the January 2014 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that found that an exercise called tai chi showed the potential to enhance cognitive function in older adults, especially in the realm of executive function, which regulates, controls, and manages other cognitive processes such as planning, working memory, attention, problem-solving, and verbal reasoning. That may be because tai chi, a martial art that involves slow, focused movements, requires learning and memorizing new skills and new movement patterns.

What you should do

Dr. McGinnis recommends establishing exercise as a habit, almost like taking a prescription medication. And since several studies have shown that you can reap the cognitive benefits of exercise in six months, he reminds you to be patient to get results, and then continue exercising for life.

Aim for a goal of exercising at a moderate intensity—such as brisk walking—for 150 minutes per week. Start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount by five or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal.

Does mental training improve thinking skills?

Look for programs that teach strategy skills and use some computerized training.

Exercise isn’t the only way to keep your mind sharp. The evidence is clear that you also need to challenge your brain in order to keep using it, with activities such as reading or crossword puzzles. But what about training intended to improve your thinking skills, called cognitive training?

A study published in the January 2014 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that as few as 10 cognitive training sessions helped older adults improve their reasoning ability and processing speed, which translated to less difficulty in performing important everyday tasks. The training sessions were largely strategy-based—such as tricks to remember word lists—and there was some computerized training. The benefits lasted as long as 10 years.

So should you sign up for cognitive training? “I do recommend it, but only programs that tailor treatment based on a person’s goals, strengths, and weaknesses,” says Harvard Medical School psychology instructor Dr. Kim Willment. She advises that you look for programs that teach strategy skills and use computerized training to improve certain cognitive functions, such as attention and concentration.

Article sourced from:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Chicken Enchiladas

February 12, 2015


Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Keeping Cool in the Summer

February 10, 2015

Keeping Cool In Summer

Keeping cool when temperatures reach record highs isn’t just about comfort. Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The following tips can help you keep cool all summer long.

  1. Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of cooler times (early morning or late evening). If you can’t change the time of your workout, scale it down by doing fewer minutes, walking instead of running, or decreasing your level of exertion.
  2. Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light colour.
  3. Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.
  4. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.
  5. Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.
  6. Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet.
  7. Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.
  8. Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sources of electrolytes when profusely sweating.
  9. If you’re wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.
  10. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.
  11. Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer fare including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low fat dairy products. As an added benefit, you won’t have to cook next to a hot stove.
  12. If you don’t have air-conditioning, arrange to spend at least parts of the day in a shopping centre, public library, movie theater, or other public space that is cool. Many cities have cooling centers that are open to the public on sweltering days.
  13. Finally, use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, as they may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Don’t forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses too.

One final thing is that we can always head down to the water for a dip to stay cool. Whether we head to the Jetty, A patrolled beach or a river/creek to stay cool and have a splash around. You will enjoy remaining cool after a dip in the early hours and again in the late afternoon.

Stay cool and safe, for any more information call Glen Barnett at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222.

Social Media, Selfies & Eating Disorders

February 8, 2015

The following article was sourced from The Glow:

If there’s one thing the internet isn’t short on, it’s selfies.

Although they can be irritating to scroll through en masse, these photos are usually quite innocuous – a fun way to capture a fleeting moment or mood. However, there’s one breed of selfie that has eating disorder experts increasingly concerned.

In a Huffington Post report this week, a UK specialist explained that selfies documenting weight loss progress could be contributing to eating disorders, especially when they’re shared among people who suffer from, or are at risk of developing, these illnesses.

“Some people will take repeated pictures of themselves at various stages of their illness, and send them to others,” Dr Alex Yellowlees, a consulting psychiatrist for the Priory Group, said.

The incredibly common eating disorder that nobody has heard of.

“They want to keep a record of their illness and see for themselves, as it were, the progress they think they are making towards anorexia, but they will also transmit the images to other sufferers on occasions.”

According to Dr Yellowlees, the competitive nature of these images, and the judgement they invite from others, can create psychological pressures that exacerbate eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa.

Christine Morgan, CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, agrees these so-called “skinny selfies” can have damaging effects on people, depending on their attitude to their own body.

“Selfies focusing on body shape and size imagery can drag some people backwards, and I worry it may be reinforcing that size and shape still matter,” she says. “When a person has negative thoughts and feelings about his or her body, body dissatisfaction can develop and sometimes lead to an eating disorder.”

Selfies and eating disorders

This imagery can also be triggering for people struggling to overcome illnesses like Anorexia or Bulimia, Ms Morgan adds.

“Posting selfies of the body can be problematic because those in recovery from an eating disorder are encouraged to change their size, shape and the physicality of the body.”

Although the internet’s many social platforms are home to positive support communities and messages surrounding mental illness, Ms Morgan says they’re also used in ways that can have “immediate and devastating impacts” on vulnerable people. Selfie dieting “diaries” are just one aspect of behaviour; images promoting thinspiration (a portmanteau for ‘thin inspiration’) messages and mantras are equally concerning.

“How my teenage sister’s anorexia affected me”

“Dangerous photos, images and information … can cause individuals with a negative body image to descend even further, and lead them to believe that their success or acceptance is dependent on having a particular body shape and size,” Ms Morgan explains.

You may be aware that in recent years, there’s been a crackdown on thinspo and “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” websites and social media pages, which often serve as hubs for people with eating disorders to share their weight loss progress and dieting advice.

As a result of pressure from users and eating disorder associations, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft are some of the major companies that have worked to delete, ban and discourage this kind of content. Unfortunately, their efforts haven’t always been successful – without hashtags it can be difficult to identify and moderate thinspo images and posts as they go live.

“These sites are definitely still active. They may not as prevalent as they were, but they are still an active form of communication,” Yellowlees tells the Huffington Post.

“I used to work out to the point of injury or fatigue – here’s how I overcame it”

Considering how much time young women and men spend on social media platforms and the net more generally, this is alarming; particularly as body image is the top concern for people under the age of 25 here in Australia.

“Since the advent of social media the pressure to look a certain way has increased dramatically. For teenage girls, body image and weight are now portrayed as very important issues in their lives, making a young girl believe that she must be thin, rather than healthy,” Christine Morgan says.

“We live in an image saturated world where we are all visually literate. [Images promoting weight loss] can be dangerous when they normalise unrealistic and unattainable bodies and shapes.”

Have online images ever impacted the way you feel about your body?

For free help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or at

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week -Sprout Salad

February 5, 2015