Are you healthy?

So I couldn’t help but post twice, but I promise this will be short. You see, I recently got a message from the CEO of a program called Inside tracker. Pretty cool right? Especially considering Tara Mardigan, Red Sox RD hello!, is their lead Dietitian. Anyways I will be leading my peers at Sports Club/LA to bring this science-driven individualized program to our clientele. This will be a very exciting partnership and opportunity for me!

The way it works is you first have to get your blood drawn and then Inside Tracker gives you recommendations and an optimal eating plan. All InsideTracker recommendations are based on scientific evidence and tailored to you. You can get your blood drawn at any time by your doctor and it might tell you that your vitamin D levels are in the healthy range…but that’s not individualized to YOU and your habits. If you exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, etc. this will tell you what part of the healthy range you should be in based upon your habits.

For example, a few months ago I got my HDL (good cholesterol) checked and it read 48..not bad my doctor said- “you are perfectly healthy!” My response: “are you kidding me? I am a Dietitian who works out 1-2 times a day AND I eat healthy! Optimal and heart protective is at least 60 mg and you are telling that this is okayyyy?” You see she didn’t know any better and based upon my habits my HDL was not in my healthy range or where it should have been. Let’s just say I spent the next 4 weeks eating tablespoons of olive oil and flax seed atop bowls of oatmeal and logged extra miles at the gym..okay not that extreme but you get the point.

Fortunately, Inside Tracker tells you where you personally should be. It also allows you to consult with a Dietitian (me in this case at the Club) to allow you to get your nutrient levels to where they need to be. Worried if you have iron deficiency or Vitamin D deficiency? This test is a great way to find out! It allows you to see if you are obtaining enough nutrients from real food and where your diet can be improved.  You then meet with an RD to discuss what foods you should consider adding to your diet to increase your nutrient levels or if a supplement is necessary.

What I love about this program is its focus on whole health and not body weight!  Many of us simply do not know if we are obtaining enough nutrients so why not get a simple measurement?

The InsideTracker can also test you for bone and muscle health, strength and endurance levels and minerals. It takes about 10 minutes to get your blood drawn and then you send your blood vials in.

They also offer a home kit to test blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides but you have to draw your blood yourself ( just a few drops no worries!).

At the end of all of this you get personalized recommendations to help you improve your health and then I recommend going back to re-test and see if the recommendations you (hopefully) implemented made a difference!

Homemade Low cal Paleo Pasta!

Happy Almost-Monday!

This weekend was a complete whirlwind and diet disaster for me. Saturday I attended Reebok’s Fitness Instructor networking event, complete with brunch, mimosas, and one sweaty kick-butt workout. Elspeth Polt flew in to teach the class, which consisted of a 45 min circuit training workout! The class completed plank-ups, burpees, lunges, jumps, and reverse-crunches to name a few. I don’t think any of us expected to sweat as much as we did. Not having had any time before to grab something to eat, I nonetheless was tempted by the assortment of bagels, potatoes, quiche, and fresh fruit. Ugh- major downfall!  The class was intense and I was craving something starchy, but definitely knew I should have eaten a little something before the class to prevent that. Bai, Hint, and Motto were also kind enough to provide refreshments for the event, which helped us all cool down and wash down our bagels and quiche 🙂 I adore healthy thirst-quenching beverages.

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Post-class, I was invited to brunch with a good friend at L’Andana, out in Burlington, MA. L’Andana is quite similar to Sorrelina and Mistral and Boston, but resembles an old-school Tuscan farmhouse that is luxurious and warm. The restaurant was serving light fare to the public, and a huge fan of Mistral, I could not pass up the opportunity. We arrived around 130pm to a room full of people!  L’Andana fortunately has a large space as they primarily serve as a wedding venue, because boy was it packed! The lines moved quickly though and we were soon greeted with smells of their famous pasta bolognese, steak tips, caesar salad, and charcuterie and crudités. If you ever make it up to Burlington, stop by this place and PLEASE order the bolognese. I never eat pasta ( and I’ll talk about that more below), but their bolognese is the best I’ve ever had.

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L’Andana does offer gluten free options and has quite the selection of wood-fire dmeats and fishes. The prices are a little on the steep side, and needless to say we were the youngest ones there, but the dining is meant to be upscale, decadent, and unsurpassed.

Naturally, I tried everything, with a glass of prosecco, and of course left feeling fuller than full and even more guilty than my morning fare left me. It was a lovely meal though and a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Attempting to make up for the larger part of the day, and be healthy and “good,” I decided it was time to make one of my favorite meals: Spaghetti squash pasta! My inspiration actually came from my mom because she makes a delectable squash with heavy cream and butter. Not wanting to go that route with my squash, I chose to season it with pasta sauce, shrimp, and mushrooms, with a side of broccolini. It’s real simple to make and low calorie! I add in a touch of salt, pepper, and olive oil, and you have one of my favorite dinners! Spaghetti squash “pasta,” is such a great alternative to regular pasta, is loaded with nutrients and provides about 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates not to mention fiber. I love recommending it to those looking to watch their weight but still need their “pasta and sauce.”

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So have you ever tried spaghetti squash?  If so, how do you like to season it?

Shit you Should Know: The truth about sugar

Excuse my language for this title but I will explain in a sec. I recently took a much needed trip to my PT (physical therapist) as my shoulder pain was acting up per usual with all of the athletic activity I partake in (hello cross fit). My PT is located out of Reebok Crossfit Back Bay, and even though I am unsure if he actually works on cross fit patients, I seem to feel like he gets me and what my body goes through on a daily basis. Perhaps he does simply due to the sheer sounds that echo through the walls into his office during workouts. Or, perhaps because he is a PT genius (or so I think), he understands what I need. Regardless, we always end up on the topic of nutrition and on this particular day he had informed me that he recently switched up from his usually breakfast routine of two pieces of fruit in the morning to 2 eggs and some fruit. He couldn’t believe how much better he felt throughout the day! More energy, less hungry, not as cranky..etc. The difference here: The added protein! He then proclaimed ” this is simple shit people should know!” And of course the wheels started spinning…why not write a post on shit you should simply know about nutrition? Stuff that bothers me as a Dietitian that people don’t get. 

So here I am writing to you about what you should know about sugar. Agave, coconut, truvia, brown rice syrup, honey, you name it. Sugar is a hot topic right now and it maddens me sooooo much when people think they are being oh so healthy, when in actuality they just consumed a half cup of sugar without even knowing it! 

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Lets start with agave: the sugar flying off of the shelves last year because it was “the next best thing.” What is agave? Agave is a natural sweetener with a pretty low glycemic index compared to some other sugars. Touted as having health benefits, it is widely used in our food industry now, but do not be fooled! The term “natural” just so you know, is not legally defined by U.S food regulators, so you better hope the manufacturer is telling the truth. Additionally, nutritionally, agave is not that much different that high fructose corn syrup. Agave is mostly fructose!

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Next- maple syrup: Sugar made from the sap of the sugar maple. If we are discussing real maple sugar (not the processed junk you put on your pancakes as a kid), this isn’t such a bad choice. HOWEVER, maple syrup is still sugar! Supposedly, researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that maple syrup is filled with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. It also contains zinc and potassium.  But liquid sugar is still sugar and too much sugar increases your risk of diabetes and weight gain. Think about 14-20 grams of sugar per tablespoon 

Truvia: Oh good ol Truvia. Truvia is a “natural” sweetener made with erythritol, rebiana, and natural flavors. Now while erythritol is a naturallyoccurring sweetener found in many fruits, in nature it is present in such small amounts. So the erythritol is made by chemically converting genetically modified corn and then it ferments to create glucose and then processed further to create erythritol. That is not to say you can’t find a non-GMO erythritol, you can! And erythritol has almost no effect on blood sugar- making it a good substitute for diabetics. However, just be wary of how “natural” this product is. 

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Coconut Sugar: I always save the best for last and Coconut sugar is by far the hottest sugar out there right now. Let me break it down for you. Coconut sugar essentially comes from the sap of the coconut plant. Similar to maple syrup, it contains zinc and potassium, and is honestly natural! It also has a lower glycemic index than table sugar, hence minimally impacting blood sugar. However, I have a difficult believing this considering it is 70% sucrose. 

All in all, while I recommend cutting back on refined sugars, there isn’t much difference between white table sugar and other natural sugars including coconut, honey, and maple syrup. To the body they are all sugar to be converted to glucose! So it really comes down to preference and if you prefer things more in their natural state but please people, remember sugar is sugar! At the end of the day don’t think you can go out and eat all of the “natural peanut butter cups” or maple syrup candies from whole foods just because it is natural! Oh yeah and this applies to KIND bars too ( which I also believe have too much sugar). Start looking for added sugars in ice creams, nutrition bars, yogurt, cereals, chips, low-fat products, sauces, and even tea! You might be shocked at what you find..

Bloggers Wod at Crossfit Coolidge Corner

Hey hey!

It’s that time of the year when everyone is sick and lucky ol’ me just happened to catch what’s going around. Which means I have been slacking big time when it comes to the gym. A runny nose+coughing doesn’t equal a very good workout. So when the opportunity presented itself to attend a workout at Crossfit Coolidge Corner this sunday for bloggers- I was in! Every so often I get invited to these blogger events where we are provided with the opportunity to try out new products/new services and have fun connecting with fellow  bloggers! 

So,  Crossfit Coolidge Corner invited us to try a Crossfit style workout in their brand new facility on beacon street. I have to say, spending an hour or so working out, specifically cross fit, was not a bad way to start my week. For anyone that knows me, I’m a tad bit obsessed with this high energy, fat-burning, killer workout. 

When we arrived we were taken through the basics of foam rolling. For those of you unaware of the benefits of foam rolling, I wrote all about it not too long ago here. We then went into some basic mobility and movement prep work. I thought it was really neat that even after 2 years of cross fit, I am still learning new ways to prep for a workout! I don’t do much mobility work, but know the importance of it, so I appreciated the instructor taking the few extra minutes to walk us through this and explain it to us.

Then- came the warm up! Hello sprints, high knees, sled pushes, broad jumps! Still sick with a slight cold, this definitely got my heart rate up faster than expected. We managed the sled pushes in team though and ended up having a really fun time with it. Unlike many other Crossfit gyms, this one had a turf, which I found neat for a CF facility and obviously highly versatile! What a great tool to diversify workouts even further. 

Of course no workout would be complete without the actual workout itself! It was an a Strength of strict press 5X5 and ring rows 10 reps 4 sets and then an EMOM (every minute on the minute) on 3 burpees and 2X down and back on the turf with a med ball  (20,14). I enjoy when Cf facilities program this way- first with a strength and then with a higher intensity workout. I find that it really helps prep me for the workout and allows me to work on both systems- cardiovascular and strength. 

Once we started, about the 3rd round in, my legs and arms were definitely burning. This was a tough one, tougher than I thought it would be going in, but it left my lungs smoked and my body sore. Fortunately, with my CF background (at Cf southie) I was able to push through until the end. Probably not the best workout to do post-cold but nonetheless it was highly functional! The instructors were all super friendly and paid close attention to our movements and corrected when necessary. Coach Brett taught the class and he was just fantastic! He was smart about choosing a workout that anyone could do really and go at their own pace. I think it would have been way too difficult for some of the newbies if it was a snatch day or thruster day! Overall it was a safe and effective workout that I think portrayed to some of the other bloggers what cross fit is all about.  One of their core beliefs is that “the real joys of fitness come from the achievement of proper functional movement; learn to move well and you will start to live well.” I think they held firm to this belief through their attention to proper movement. 

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After our sweaty session, the event concluded with a goodie bag (how cute is that saying!) filled with a CF coolidge corner T. some yummy matcha sparkling drinks, hint water, and a sweet green (coming to Chestnuthill soon!) headband to keep your hair out of your face. It was super sweet of everyone who contributed to provide us with one incredible workout and the thoughtful goodie bag!

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You can check out  CF Coolidge Corner at 1285 Beacon St in Brookline. 

http://www.crossfitcoolidgecorner.com

So go check it out! Post below letting me know which workout or Crossfit movements you love the most! 

Boston Bloggers gather at Drybar: A “premier” blow-dry bar

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Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to gather amidst blogger friends at the new Drybar location in Chestnut Hill. A fellow CNH employee, I’ve driven past this shop full of hair styling mavens frequently enough. It’s constantly abuzz with the 40+ females of the area who just left the gym and are prepping for their next soiree. Boy do I wish I had the time! I take every single extra minute of sleep I can get during the week before I absolutely must roll out of bed in order to make it to work on time. This often results in many days with my hair quickly thrown up into a bun and I’m satisfied and good to go.

I consider this service quite a luxury and reserved for special occasions only, so, when the opportunity presented itself- you betcha I was in! Someone else styling my hair while I get to sit back and relax?!  What a great concept!

In all honestly, I have gotten my hair styled before at BeStyled, just cross the street. The concept of the Drybar is a tad different though in that they pride themselves on their simple concept: Just blowouts! No makeup, no hair cutting, simply blowouts to perfection. For $40 you pick your style, such as Mai tai, the Cosmo, and then your stylist gets to work!

In contrast BeStyled is a tad cheaper, around $35. I don’t think however that BeStyled offers products, whereas the Drybar had this gorgeous display of their products, which is a wonderful thing if you like the product that the stylist used on your hair. Drybar also offers a membership so that if you are a regular it makes scheduling and paying for services easy. An example of this would be the “Barfly:”

The Barfly:

  • 4 Blowouts + 2 free Floater (head/neck massage)
  • 10% off all products (in-shop only)
  • $140 per month (save $20)

Anyways, upon arrival I was greeted by an attentive staff who were so sweet and offered me my choice of wine, champagne, coffee, or tea! Hmm..wine please! I was then seated in their plush waiting area..everything about the place was adorable! They had petite snacks for you to munch on, and while I was getting my hair styled someone came around and served us these adorable pretzel appetizers. We were also served flat bread and mini desserts from Seasons 52. Needless to say I was quite impressed with how much they went out of their way to make this a fun event for us. This would be such a fun and cute idea for a birthday party or girl’s night out.

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So what look did I go with? I went with the Mai Tai- which is supposed to be sexy, beachy, waves. Let’s just put it this way- the sex part of sexy wouldn’t be a lie as I look like I got pummeled during the act or I just walked out of a nightclub with a fro on top of my head. #fail. Seriously disappointed in these so-called “mavens.” I get it- my hair is extremely difficult to work with- but no one should ever walk out of there with hair that looks like this: Image

Somehow this translates into sexy beach waves?? Perhaps we need a new definition then. I pretty much ran straight to the bathroom and almost cried (not really) I just pulled my hair back up. I attempted to grab the curling iron out of my stylist’s hands before she could do more damage but was unsuccessful so I let her and the assistant manager attempt to remedy her god-awful mistakes. Let’s just say I won’t be going back.

So if I were to compare BeStyled to DryBar this is how they match up

Price: BeStyled- $35 DryBar- $40

Overall Style: BeStyled wins on this one

Decor and Design: DryBar definitely was more chic and pleasant. I also liked how they had mirrors in front of you.

Staff: Drybar was way friendlier and attentive.

Overall experience: Meh- It was neat and fun to do but honestly was difficult to interact with the other bloggers while we were all getting our hair done. Obviously that was the focus, and point of the event was to relax and be spoiled a little, but I left feeling like a lion with a mane yet to be tamed. Hey- at least the food was enjoyable, a lot of thought clearly went into this event, and good conversation was had by all in between the blowouts.

Thanks Drybar! Better luck next time with my hair!

Know your Protein! Tips on buying a protein powder

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You maybe have heard somewhere along the road that protein drinks post workout enhance muscle synthesis. So, naturally you reach for a protein shake. 20 grams, 30 grams, heck 60 grams of protein and gulp- down it goes! Many of us consume protein shakes post workout with very little understanding of the type of protein we are consuming and just how much we need. There are so many different types out there and purposes so let me provide you with some clarity on your quest to optimal protein ingestion. 

How much do I need? According to one study, the muscle protein response in both young and older adults was found to plateau at approximately 10 grams of indispensable or essential amino acids. As muscle protein synthesis plateaus, the “extra” amino acids are simply being burned for fuel. In contrast, according to another study, consuming 20 grams of high-quality protein will optimally maximize the stimulus of muscle protein synthesis.  

In my own research it has been suggested that 25-30 grams of protein be consumed post-workout- no more! You will either use it for fuel or pee it out. Protein powders are expensive so don’t use more than you need!

Okay- whey, casein, pea, rice, egg white, hemp, soy? How do I choose which is best for ME? Are they different? Why yes they are! Here I break down a few of the most popular for you:

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the liquid part of cow’s milk that separates from the curds- think cheese for example.  Whey is highly bio-available, digestible and rapidly absorbed by our body. It therefore, digests quicker than most proteins, allowing it to be an ideal protein post-workout when your muscles are itching for protein and quickly to begin the repair process asap. Whey is rich in amino acids, such as lysine, tryptophan, cysteine, and isoleucine with the benefit of muscle gains being primarily related to leucine. Remember, high doses may cause some side effects, such as GI issues, nausea, thirst, swelling, cramps, appetite reduction, and fatigue. 

There is also no guaranty of the purity and security of supplements available in the market.
 
Casein
Casein is a milk protein extract and is slowly digested by the body.  This means you want to consume this protein at night or before bed so that your body continues to repair muscles overnight. If we are trying to build muscle, switching over into a catabolic state is not advised and therefore casein helps prevent this process. Casein also tends to have a neutral flavor and can be easily tolerate by most. Because it is more slowly digested it tends to cause a feeling of satiety and can also be used as a weight loss supplement. But the biggest reason for use of casein would definitely be to prevent catabolism. 
 
Rice and Pea protein
These are considered your vegetarian proteins and are less bioavailable than whey and casein. Rice protein powder is created by isolating the protein from the brown rice grain. If dairy protein powders cause discomfort, these may be a great choice!

These protein powders also have a more distinct taste that whey and casein and will not mix into water quite as well. Rice protein is high in cysteine and methionine, but low in lysine. Pea protein, on the other hand, is low in cysteine and methionine but high in lysine. Therefore, the amino acid profile ends up comparable to dairy or egg proteins when mixed together, but without the potential for allergies. 

 
Great option for vegetarians and vegans who may not consume enough protein!
 
 
Resources:
Hall WL, et al. 2003. Casein and whey exert different effects on plasma amino acid profiles, gastrointestinal hormone secretion and appetite. Br J Nutr. Feb;89(2):239-48.
 
Cuthbertson, D., K. Smith, J. Babraj, G. Leese, T. Waddell, P, Atherton, H. Wackerhage, P.M. Taylor, and M.J. Rennie (2005). Anabolic signaling deficits underlie amino acid resistance of wasting, aging muscle. FASEB J. 19: 422-424.

Paleo Dinner: Stuffed Acorn Squash

I love acorn squash like looooovveee it. Nothing tastes more like nature’s candy to me than acorn squash. It is sweet and nutty and has comfort food written all over it. And when you have a bf that eats paleo, you have to get creative with your “comfort” foods. 

I don’t often share what I eat or post recipes and honestly it’s because I don’t know how to cook. 🙂 I find a cool recipe and pass it off to my boyfriend to try to make “paleo friendly.” (Which he is super good at!) So here we ventured down acorn squash lane and I must admit he did quite a great job turning it into a pretty darn good dish. After discovering this incredible food, I think I’ll be craving acorn squash again in the very near future.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash Serves: 1-2
  • Ingredients
  • 1 acorn squash, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/4 c sliced mushrooms
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Dash of salt
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the acorn squash that has been cut in half open side down on a baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until fairly soft
While acorn squash is baking, boil shredded chicken in a pot until cooked through.
Let acorn squash slightly cool and scoop out seeds. Then scoop out the some of the squash from the skin and place in the bowl with the cooked chicken, carrots, and mushrooms. Mix together and scoop back into the squash.
Sprinkle on cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pop back in over for about 5-10 minutes
Enjoy~

 

Healthy Bar Finds – yes they do exist! #Jerryremys

Have you ever been out at a sports bar and wondered to yourself, what can I possibly eat?  Whether you eat 100% Paleo or not paleo at all you probably value a healthy meal from time to time. And more likely than not, you have been out with friends at a bar and felt like the options were anything but conducive to feeling good about your food choices the next morning.

Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill agrees that sports bars need to offer healthier options.  Therefore their chefs have committed to creating healthier menu options for CrossFitters.  They believe that you can enjoy both a spring Red Sox game and a delicious, Paleo meal.

They will be working on creating healthier options for all but have already taken huge steps with their vegan and vegetarian menu. They also offer gluten free pasta and rolls! Did you know that you can get a fresh apple crisp and kale salad? At a sports bar of all places! I am looking forward to seeing what other healthy, paleo friendly options pop up on the menu!

Credit given to Tamara Wyzanski, crossfitter and yoga instructor, for writing part of this post and for collaborating with JerryRemy’s!