Monday, November 27, 2017

Benefits of Pilates

Athletes are constantly striving to find the appropriate balance within their bodies so they may continue to progress in their training. Injuries and mental burnout can inhibit the athlete’s ability to consistently train and progress, resulting in a loss of precious time towards improvement. Athletes of all walks of life are turning to Pilates to offset these challenges by balancing strength, flexibility, and mental prowess.

Physical Benefits
Athletes work their bodies, very often strenuously, through specific planes of motion depending on the sport. The repetitive motions of many sports very often puts the body at risk for muscular imbalances, which could eventually result in injury. Pilates encourages an individual to utilize both the superficial and deep muscle groups, resulting in appropriate balance in strength and flexibility. Overall body awareness and balance can improve with a better sense of where the body is moving in space-an important skill to have for appropriate technique in any sport.

Mental Benefits
An important component to both training and performance that all too often can be overlooked is the mental component of the sport. A large range of sports take an incredible amount of focus, persistence, patience, and adaptability. An athlete can be in the best shape of his or her life, but if on race day their head is not it, neither will their body be. Pilates improves mental focus by utilizing both the breath and the body as an anchor for the mind. The practitioner becomes more aware of their own thoughts as they improve their ability to be fully present with their body and breath. Pilates teaches the individual to stay calm, focus, and breathe and athletes can certainly take these skills with them into their sport when the going gets tough.

The safest way to take the body into a more intense range of motion is through supported stabilizing strength. Athletes in particular should support any deep stretches with strength, as there may already be vulnerable muscular imbalances resulting from the repetitive nature of their sport.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ways To Show Your Gratitude

Send a holiday care package to a soldier abroad

Our service men and women who are out of the country during Thanksgiving often long for the comforts of home. By sending a care package through Any Soldier, you can show them your gratitude for their duty and make them feel loved. Any Soldier has provided care packages to 96,371 service members and has an extensive list of popular products  that have been requested by soldiers if you need ideas for what to include in your package.

Deliver a Thanksgiving meal to housebound neighbors

Don’t forget seniors or the seriously ill during this holiday. By volunteering with a local Meals on Wheels Program to bring a hot dinner to those who may not be able to join family or friends. They’ll appreciate the food and, more importantly, the time you share with them at their homes.

Feed families with pocket change

According to a recent government report, 49 million Americans went hungry last year, so you can bet that many families are facing slim pickings for Thanksgiving this year. Help change this by participating in Feeding America‘s Thanksgiving Feast for 9 Million. By donating $1, you can provide seven meals this holiday, and $50 will provide 350 meals for hungry families.

Run a “Turkey Trot”

All over the country this Thanksgiving, companies and nonprofits are hosting 5k races to benefit local charities and good causes. San Francisco’s fun run will benefit a local high school’s Track & Field team and Ann Arbor’s will benefit local animal shelters and community groups. The bonus? Most of these races are Run/Walks that encourage full family participation and you can work off some of dinner before you even sit down at the table. Runs are planned for on and around Thanksgiving day and some require advance registration, so be sure to mind the rules specific for your area.

Pledge to Give 29 Things Away

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to sign up for the 29-Day Giving Challenge, a commitment to give something away each day for 29 days. It can be a tangible object or something as simple as a compliment. The goal is to make giving a habit and share your stories with others who might be inspired. Each month, 29Gifts features a different cuasef, so if you get stuck one day there are plenty of ideas ready to go.

Serve Thanksgiving Dinner at a Homeless Shelter

All the donated food that is raised during Thanksgiving time has to have willing hands to help cook it. Lend yours by volunteering this thanksgiving at a homeless shelter to prepare and dish up a meal with all the trimmings for those who don’t have a home to go to this Holiday. The National Coalition for the Homeless has a searchable directory to find homeless shelters in your area.

Sponsor a Family in Need

Thanksgiving is only one day out of the year that U.S. families go hungry. Why not do a little to help one family a lot during the whole year? can help you connect with individual families that you can help by providing food, clothing and other necessities throughout the year. Or, open a family-to-family branch in your area.
For more information on how to sponsor a family in your area, you can watch a step-by-step “How To” from Create The Good

Tweet your thanks on Tweetsgiving

Between November 24 and 26, Epic Change encourages social media users to share their gratitude both on and offline by participating in TweetsGiving. Share what you’re thankful for via Twitter, your blog, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, or with the #tweetsgiving tag and a $10 donation. This year, they hope to raise $100,000 to build an educational facility in Arusha, Tanzania, and fund future Epic Change projects.

Sign the Charter for Compassion

In February 2008, former nun Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and asked for the help of others to create, launch and promote an international Charter for Compassion. Thousands of people contributed to the creation of the multilateral Charter to promote compassion across cultural and religious boundaries. By signing the online document, you agree to live by and encourage the “golden rule” by treating everyone in this world with compassion and respect.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Foods To Pack On Muscle

The Perfect Protein 

How they build muscle:  The protein in eggs has the highest biological value—a measure of how well it supports your body's protein needs—of any food, including our beloved beef. Calorie for calorie, you need less protein from eggs than you do from other sources to achieve the same muscle-building benefits. 

But you have to eat the yolk. In addition to protein, it also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. (And no, eating a few eggs a day won't increase your risk of heart disease.) 

How they keep you healthy: Eggs are vitamins and minerals over easy; they're packed with riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, B12, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc. 

Muscle Medicine 

How they build muscle: Crunch for crunch, almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E—the form that's best absorbed by your body. That matters to your muscles because vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy workouts. The fewer hits taken from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover from a workout and start growing. 

How many almonds should you munch? One to two handfuls a day should do it… as long as you stay within your caloric range for the day. 

How they keep you healthy: Almonds double as brain insurance. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who consumed the most vitamin E—from food sources, not supplements—had a 67 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those eating the least vitamin E. 

The Growth Regulator 

How it builds muscle: It's swimming with high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3's can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery.  This is important, because to build muscle you need to store new protein faster than your body breaks down the old stuff. 

How it keeps you healthy: By reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that when overweight people added 1.8 grams of DHA—an omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil—to their daily diets, their insulin resistance decreased by 70 percent in 12 weeks. 

The Golden Ratio 

How it builds muscle: Even with the aura of estrogen surrounding it, yogurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth.

Buy regular—not sugar-free—with fruit buried at the bottom. The extra carbohydrates from the fruit will boost your blood levels of insulin, one of the keys to reducing postexercise protein breakdown. 

How it keeps you healthy: Three letters: CLA. Yogurt is one of the few foods that contain conjugated linoleic acid, a special type of fat shown in some studies to reduce body fat.

Carvable Creatine 

How it builds muscle: More than just a piece of charbroiled protein, beef is also a major source of iron and zinc, two crucial muscle-building nutrients.  Plus, it's the number-one food source of creatine—your body's energy supply for pumping iron—2 grams for every 16 ounces. 

For maximum muscle with minimum calories, look for "rounds" or "loins"—butcherspeak for meat cuts that are extra-lean. Or check out the new "flat iron" cut. It's very lean and the second most tender cut of beef overall. 

How it keeps you healthy: Beef is a storehouse for selenium. Stanford University researchers found that men with low blood levels of the mineral are as much as five times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with normal levels. 

Liquid Energy 

How it builds muscle:  The monounsaturated fat in olive oil appears to act as an anticatabolicnutrient.  In other words, it prevents muscle breakdown by lowering levels of a sinister cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor-a, which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness. 

And while all olive oil is high in monos, try to use the extra-virgin variety whenever possible; it has a higher level of free-radical-fighting vitamin E than the less chaste stuff. 

How it keeps you healthy: How doesn't it? Olive oil and monounsaturated fats have been associated with everything from lower rates of heart disease and colon cancer to a reduced risk of diabetes and osteoporosis. 

The Muscle Bath 

How it builds muscle: Whether it's in your shins or your shoulders, muscle is approximately 80 percent water. Even a change of as little as 1 percent in body water can impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery. For example, a 1997 German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well hydrated, compared with dehydrated cells. English translation: The more parched you are, the slower your body uses protein to build muscle. 

Not sure how dry you are? "Weigh yourself before and after each exercise session. Then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost.

How it keeps you healthy: Researchers at Loma Linda University found that those who drank five or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drank two or fewer. 

The Repetition Builder 

How it builds muscle: Fueling your workout with caffeine will help you lift longer. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that those who drank 2 cups of coffee a few hours before an exercise test were able to sprint 9% longer than when they didn't.  It is believed the caffeine directly stimulates the muscles. 

And since sprinting and weight lifting are both anaerobic activities—exercises that don't require oxygen—a jolt of joe should help you pump out more reps. Skip it if you have a history of high blood pressure, though. 

How it keeps you healthy: Harvard researchers found that coffee drinkers have a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson's disease than nondrinkers.