Staying Fit on the Road

Whether you love to exercise, hate it, or fall somewhere in between, it’s likely that it is a constant challenge to dedicate time and energy to fitness in an already busy life. Routine and familiarity are known advantages towards your fit lifestyle and regular exercise. But what happens when you travel and your established regimen flies out the window?

Suddenly you’re battling new accommodations and time zones, jet lag, busy work schedules, or enticing vacation relaxation, and you need time plus research, planning, and perhaps a little extra ingenuity to get the job done? Ugh, already fatigued. But exercise could be just what you need to get revved up to make the most of your day.

So here are my suggestions.

1.     Buy an inexpensive exercise band with handles and a door anchor that you can slip into your suitcase. It travels easily and is always available. You can work your arms, legs, and back from any door along your travels.

2.     Download one of the many great exercise Apps onto your phone or tablet. I use P90X and TRX. P90X requires nothing more than your workout clothes and sneakers, and TRX straps with a door anchor can be taken on the road. Both are made by BeachBody, which offers a variety of home DVD exercise programs that often have coordinating mobile Apps. Both programs can be enhanced by free weights and worked through in almost any room, or outdoors.

A few other great exercise Apps to consider:

a.     Nike Training Club – a full suite of workouts that can be customized or selected by time, body part, or intensity. Complete with how-to videos, the app records what you’ve accomplished and can be optionally set to music - either Nike’s set list, or a playlist of your own creation.

b.     Run with Map My Run – perfect for the travelling runner. Enter a time or distance goal and the app sets a local course wherever you’re located. It also tracks your pace and progress.

c.      Yoga Pro for iPad – sadly this one doesn’t have a mobile phone counterpart, but if you have an iPad and are into yoga, it’s awesome. For the experienced yogi, you can create your own routine. For the rest of us, the app includes a lot of ready-made routines sorted by difficulty or health goal. The “Personal Yoga Teacher” feature lets you fill out a fitness profile and generates a routine customized for your needs. The app tracks your progress and explains every pose.

d.     Yoga Studio – formatted for both mobile and tablet, this yoga App features “classes” that can be customized to your level and needs.

3.     Take advantage of the free trials yoga and Pilates studios offer to new students. Nearly every city now has a multitude of studios. Most offer free sessions or weeks to get new customers into their studios. Try multiple during a weeks travel. The trick here is to do your homework. Scope out the local studios, call in advance for policies and to make sure the studio provides or rents mats.

4.     Take advantage of reciprocal memberships. Many national gyms as well as the YMCA or JCC will honor out of town memberships.

5.     Make the most of your hotel fitness center. In today’s world, nearly every hotel and resort has some kind of exercise center. They’ll likely have a varied selection of machines, free weights, and mats. Some even offer classes.

Bottom line . . . . the only thing keeping you from exercising is yourself.

Staying fit on the go can come with extra challenges, but it is far from impossible and the rewards come back in spades. Jet lag will disappear quicker, you’ll have more energy for the real reason you traveled, and you’ll make better food choices by not wanting to undo all the hard work you put in exercising. Plus, it balances out the treats and extra calories travel always brings.  

So, keep fighting the good fight, and happy travels!

Our TED pick: Mark Bittman

Acclaimed New York Times writer and author, Mark Bittman, is a well respected and widely followed authority on eating better. We constantly follow his work and consider his advice, and have occasionally quoted or referenced his articles and recipes here on the AthleticFoodie blog. In 2007 he gave one of our all-time favorite TED talks on how we can interact with food better. We promise it will be twenty minutes well spent. 

Should I eat organic foods?

There has been a lot of debate over whether to eat organic foods over the past few years.  It is well known that organics are more expensive than their non-organic counterparts, however, there are certain instances where choosing organic may be a better option.  There is a lot of confusing labeling out there as well.  The terms "natural," "free range," and "hormone free" don't mean that the product is organic.  There are three terms certified by the USDA to be "organic."  A food can be "100% Organic," in which there are no synthetics in the food.  Foods labeled as "organic" must be 95% organic. Foods can be labeled "made with organic ingredients" if they have at least 70% organic ingredients. As far as what foods to choose to eat organic, I typically tell my clients to buy organic meats, eggs, and dairy (animal products).   I believe that if you're going to spend money on organics, choosing to use it on animal products ensures that the products are humanely raised, no hormones, and less likely to have food borne pathogens due to the processing. I've also noticed personall that organic milk last longer in the fridge!  Beyond that, many people have heard of the "dirty dozen" as labeled by the Environmental Working Group.  These foods include the following:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The cleanest fruits and vegetables (which you might not want to spend money on organic varieties) are:

  • Papaya
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocado
  • Onions

Choosing organic has not been extensively studied on health effects.  Personally, I believe if you can afford to buy the organic version of dirty dozen and your meats/animal products, you will be benefiting your health by ingesting less chemicals and pesticides.   Overall, choosing a healthy variety of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and heart healthy fats is the best diet regardless of whether it is organic or not.

Scratch Granola - Two Ways

We’re all constantly on the go. Whether you’re navigating a busy career, family, kids’ activities, school, or all of the above, it’s an endless challenge to stay healthy amid the chaos of everyday life. And snacking and breakfast can be the greatest pitfalls. It’s so easy to fall of the health wagon when you’re trying to get out the door in the morning, or looking for a quick burst of energy mid-day. 

Enter granola. Everybody loves it, whether on top of yogurt, as a cereal, or in bar form. It’s both kid and adult friendly, usually packed with flavor, and commonly thought of as a smart, healthy choice. Certainly that can be true. But store bought varieties can also be packed with extra sugars and salt that sneak in and ruin your healthy good intentions. So, we made two of our own varieties, from scratch, to ensure they stay healthy through and through.

The first, our Toasted Fruit & Nut Granola, has a subtle nutty flavor with lots of hidden superfoods that pack a serious energy punch. The second, our Orange & Coconut Seed Granola, is actually grain free but still packed with those superfoods.

Cut them into squares to take on the go, or crumple atop your favorite yogurt or as a cereal. Either way, get in the kitchen and feel the satisfaction of taking charge of your health. Happy cooking and stay healthy!

Toasted Fruit & Nut Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup ground flax
  • ½ cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
  • ½ cup dried goji berries
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Cook quinoa - 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, cook until water is absorbed. Be sure to drain any excess water. Spread cooked quinoa onto a sided cookie sheet.
  3. Combine oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and pistachios. Spread onto a sided cookie sheet.
  4. Toast both cookie sheets in the oven for 15-20 minutes until oats and nuts are lightly golden and quinoa is lightly crisped.
  5. In separate bowls combine the following:
    a. chia seeds, flax, cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries, and goji berries
    b. honey, peanut butter, and vegetable oil
  6. After removing the cookie sheets from the oven, add contents from both to the bowl containing the dried berries and mix together.
  7. Pour the honey mixture into the dried ingredients and stir to combine well.
  8. Line one of your cookie sheets with parchment paper and press the granola mixture in the pan down flat.
  9. Return to oven and toast for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, let cool, and then place in the fridge for 2-3 hours to allow granola to set.
  11. Cut or crumble and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to eat.

Orange & Coconut Seed Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup chopped macademia nuts
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 2/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Combine all dry ingredients plus orange zest in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Melt your coconut oil, then add honey and stir to combine.
  4. Pour honey mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and press the granola mixture in the pan down flat.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool, and then place in the fridge for 2-3 hours to allow granola to set.
  8. Cut or crumble and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to eat.

Injuries Caused from Overuse in Young Athletes

sports graphic.jpg

Injuries caused from of over-use of joints, muscles and even bones are now responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries that occur in adolescents athletes from middle school through high school. Recently, there has been a big push for youngsters to focus all their attention on one sport.  A recent report from Loyola University in Chicago, found that “kids are twice as likely to get hurt if they play just one sport as those who play multiple sports.” In my experience as a physical therapist for the past 18 years, I see and treat many more injuries due to repetition of a single sport.  The physical demands and stress associated with practice time and game time never seems to end.  The emotional stress and the pressure to perform, from parents, club coaches, high school coaches and even colleges in summer camp programs can often lead to poor management of those nagging pains.  Minor injuries or simple nagging pains can quickly develop into a more serious season ending injury or worse, college altering plans.  I’ve been witness to both. I personally believe as both a medical professional and a Dad that kids need to play as many sports as they can until about age 13 to 15 and then decide to specialize.  Playing many sports develops fundamental movement patterns that help to prevent injuries.  Research strongly supports that the best athletes in their sport, perfected their skills by playing multiple sports.  This is one of the best ways to develop a well- rounded and powerful athlete.         

A great resource for the educating parents and young athletes is the website….www.stopsportsinjuries.org.

Some sobering statistics:

30 million children and adolescents participate in youth sports.

3.5 million children under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year.

2 million U.S. high school athletes suffer some sort of injury every year and 500,000 visit a doctor for these injuries.