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14 Beautiful Fruit-Infused Waters To Drink Instead Of Soda

via Melissa Harrison – BuzzFeed

1. Strawberry, Lemon, and Basil

A classic trifecta. Get the recipe.

2. Orange and Blueberry

Orange and Blueberry

To fully fuse the flavors, combine the ingredients in a pitcher and let them sit for up to a day before drinking. Get the recipe.

3. Watermelon and Mint

Watermelon and Mint

I been drinkin’ watermelon. (And also mint.) Get the recipe.

4. Citrus and Cucumber

Citrus and Cucumber

Get the recipe.

5. Strawberry, Lime, and Cucumber

For a stronger fruit flavor, muddle the strawberries instead of slicing them. Get the recipe.

6. Citrus and Cilantro

Citrus and Cilantro

Not a cilantro fan? Find other variations here.

7. Rosemary and Grapefruit

Rosemary and Grapefruit

Get the recipe.

8. Raspberry, Rose Petal, and Vanilla

Raspberry, Rose Petal, and Vanilla

This combo steeps for a day, and the berries and petals are strained out before drinking. Get the recipe.

9. Blueberry and Lavender

Blueberry and Lavender

Haven’t you heard? Edible flowers are everywhere. Get the recipe.

10. Cantaloupe Agua Fresca with Honey and Mint

Break out the blender: It’s agua fresca time. Get the recipe.

11. Kiwi and Cucumber Agua Fresca

Kiwi and Cucumber Agua Fresca

Agua frescas typically call for added sugar, but feel free to adjust the sweetness depending on your taste. (Or leave it out entirely.) Get the recipe.

12. Honeydew & Raspberry Agua Fresca

Honeydew & Raspberry Agua Fresca

Chunks of honeydew are blended until they’re liquified, then balanced out with water, fresh lime juice, and sugar. Garnish of choice? Tart raspberries. Get the recipe.

13. Watermelon Coconut Agua Fresca

Watermelon Coconut Agua Fresca

Coconut water gives this version a lightly sweetened base. Get the recipe.

14. Champagne Mango and Lime

Champagne Mango and Lime

Champagne mangos bring the party. Get the recipe.

Drink up!

14 Beautiful Fruit-Infused Waters To Drink Instead Of Soda

“Weighing In” On Diets & Supplements

via Marcus EdwardesAVAC

Americans apparently spend $60 Billion annually trying to shed a few pounds and feel better about themselves. From Jenny Craig to GNC, we seem to be willing to fork out an increasingly insane amount of money every year to feed the weight-loss industry  – an industry by the way, that is more than happy to be cashing in on our insatiable appetites for the promise of a fitter, leaner, younger self!
Better watch out though! There is so much misinformation out there circulating about diet and consumables– I think it’s time for me to weigh in:)

Let’s first consider the type of food that we (and our children) are relentlessly sold…

Fast food first. Whilst there is no escape from the mass marketing of your favorite little drive through snack (Triple Whopper anyone? 2100 calories, 105g fat), at least you pretty much know what you are getting (…in addition to the coronary). We know it’s bad for us, but for the most part, we are not eating it every day.

Next up, the supermarket. The best advice is to stick to the perimeter, where they sell all the fresh veggies, chicken, fish and dairy that you need. Start roaming the inner lanes and you are bombarded with the less requisite sugary cereals, carbo-licious breads and pastas and most deceptively, swathes of processed products with low fat and fat free labeled packages. (I deliberately skipped mentioning ice cream because it’s a crucial part of any serious cyclists diet!)

It’s actually the low fat/fat free sector of the food business that bothers me most. These labels imply “more healthy” than their full fat counterparts but there is nothing healthy about these products at all. Since these “foods” have had their fat removed and would subsequently taste disgusting – they are reprocessed with gobs of high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial sweeteners and other unnatural flavor enhancing chemicals. Yuck!

Here’s the thing. Sugar is bad. Fat is not. So don’t be fooled.  If it’s labeled low fat/fat free, it’s almost certainly worse for you than it’s regular counterpart so stick to the real thing!

There’s a bunch of other food marketing baloney out there too, terminology which also doesn’t necessarily guarantee a healthier product, including trans fat free, gluten free, carb-free and whole grain, so “caveat emptor” – read the label carefully, they are just trying to sell you stuff!

What about supplements?

So many pills, powders and potions…

And whilst I am sure some of them might help or enhance your efforts toward a healthier lifestyle – I am also convinced that most of the aisles of GNC are stuffed to the gills with pointless placebos and puffed up panaceas. I reckon a few florets of steamed broccoli include more nutritional value and health benefits than most of these products combined!

Dieting. Well it’s astonishing to me that so many people buy into so many systems, methodologies and programs, when the answer to this whole obesity conundrum (68% of Americans) couldn’t be simpler and barely takes a paragraph to resolve, let alone a page or a whole book!

Here goes, off the top of my head, no charge whatsoever:
• Drink more water. Much more.
• Eat loads of chicken, fish and fresh veggies.
• Cut back on sugar, sodium and simple carbs (bread, white rice, cookies).
• Slow down and only eat about a quarter of what they give you at The Cheesecake Factory.
That’s it!

So, what about exercise?

Well, my committed and fearless Spinning friends – I don’t have to tell YOU again about all the benefits of the best Cardio activity ever invented – you know it already and you can’t get enough!

But – I do love a good inspirational quote, so I’ll end this week’s newsletter with one of the very best quotes pertaining to exercise:

Sweat is Magic. Cover Yourself in it Daily to Grant All Your Wishes!

Talk about getting to the heart of the matter…brilliant stuff!

Cheers, Marcus

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Ahhhh, My Aching Back

via Becky SmothermonAVAC

becky back

Research tells us that at least 80% of the American population will have some type of back problem during their life. Complaints of uncomfortable back pain are the most common musculoskeletal issues brought to physicians.

Does this resonate with you? Have you had back pain, tightness, has your back felt weird? Do you have an existing chronic back issue? Have you seen a Doctor, Chiropractor, Physical Therapist or Masseuse for your back, or any combination of these practitioners?

I have had a “BAD BACK” for quite some time. Many years ago after the birth of my first child, he’s 33, and before the birth of my second, she’s 29, I threw my back out for the first time. Now I know that “Threw My Back Out” is not actually what happened but that’s what it felt like. I was teaching a high impact aerobics class, remember those days? One minute I was doing jumping jacks and high kicks and the next I was on the floor in agony. I could not move without excruciating pain. Not only was I in pain but I felt fragile and physically vulnerable.

Now, I have been somewhat of an athlete all my life. I have had confidence in my physical being. So, the feeling of fragility was new and very scary to me.

My class participants tried to help but I couldn’t even handle them touching me. Eventually, by totally admonishing myself I was able to crawl to the stairs and inch my way down. My husband had been called and due to the advice of others I went first to a Chiropractor. That turned out to be a huge mistake as the person I saw treated me without doing an X-ray and made the problem much worse.

Aside here: this is not the practice of most Chiropractors, especially today 32 years later. Most Chiropractors are very knowledgeable and safe.

Moving on, I healed fairly quickly and continued my not so safe work-out: racquetball and lots of high impact cardio, aerobics, and running.

I threw my back out again and a few years later again. This was just not good. I was also told I would have to be adjusted weekly for the rest of my life.

On Christmas Day about 15 years ago, I did it again. There I was crawling to my bed with my grown son crawling with me. He wanted to pick me up but that just wasn’t happening. I made a decision that day to learn more about backs in general and my back specifically. I read everything I could get my hands on and changed my own work-out considerably.

Bottom line was I had to take control. I learned so much about a balanced work-out and CORE, CORE, CORE work.

I still have a bad back and I still have days with pain. I have not had a major episode though in a long time and I work daily to be sure to not ever have one again. It has been a journey.

MaryAnn Smith, AVAC’s Wellness Director, and I will be presenting “Better Back Basics” on June 7th at AVAC’s Absolute Family Fun Day. This work-shop is free and I would love to help you learn more about your back. From my experience, the more you know about your body, the better it will work for you.

Becky Smothermon
AVAC Group Activities Director

14 Exercises You Can Do While Lying Down

via Jessica Probus – BuzzFeed

It’s rest-ercize. Halfway between yoga and a nap.

1. This Butt-Sculpting Lift

This Butt-Sculpting Lift

The movement is incredibly small but effective. Directions here.

2. These Leg Spinners

These Leg Spinners

Work those abs. More here.

3. The Locust

The Locust

Liiiift! Then rest forever. See how here.

4. The Peddler

The Peddler

Bonus: This leg toner also helps prevent varicose veins! Directions here.

5. The Side Kick

The Side Kick

Works your legs, core, butt, hips and thighs. And you don’t even have to get out of bed! See more here.

6. The Leg Twist

The Leg Twist

It’s also a stretch for sore backs…which you can get from too much lying down. Instructions here.

7. Do the clam.

Do the clam.

This exercise targets your outer thighs, and you can even do it while you’re watching TV! Full directions here.

8. Prone Leg Lifts

Prone Leg Lifts

Strengthens your Paraspinal muscles. Sounds important. See how to do these here.

9. The Side Leg Lifts

The Side Leg Lifts

Minimal effort. Maximum gluteal strength. Instructions here.

10. The Back Extension and Rotation

The Back Extension and Rotation

Tightens your abs. See how to do it here.

11. The Cobra

The Cobra

Stretch and arm workout in one. Directions here.

12. The Lying Arm Circle

The Lying Arm Circle

It’s pilates that even you can do. Lean how here.

13. This Entire Workout

This Entire Workout

Perhaps your in-bed workout routine can be your “bridge” to fitness. See the video here.

14. And of course, Horizontal Running.

14 Exercises You Can Do While Lying Down
Brownstone Productions / Via renewedfitness.org


4 surprising reasons women can’t lose weight

Via Jennifer Benjamin, Health.com

If you're doing everything "right" and can't seem to lose weight, you may have a hidden health condition.
If you’re doing everything “right” and can’t seem to lose weight, you may have a hidden health condition.

(Health.com) — Most of us already know that eating less and moving more are the keys to dropping extra pounds. But if you’re already doing everything “right” and can’t seem to lose weight — or are even gaining it — you may have a hidden health condition that’s sabotaging your efforts. And the symptoms may be so subtle that even your doctor can miss them. Here, some possible weight-loss blockers — and how to get the help you need.

A Sluggish Thyroid
Your thyroid gland makes hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) disrupts your metabolism, as well as many other aspects of your health. Some estimate that as many as 10 percent of adults have hypothyroidism, which is more common in women and is most often diagnosed in the 40s and 50s.

Could this be you? Besides weight gain or an inability to lose weight, you may notice fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, joint pain and muscle weakness, heavy periods, increased sensitivity to cold, even depression. Many people with low-grade hypothyroidism just feel “off,” with no obvious signs of being truly sick.

How to get tested: Ask your internist to run a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) screening. In general, the higher your TSH level, the slower your thyroid is. “While traditional ‘normal’ values are between .45 and 4.5, if your level is above 2, you might still struggle to lose weight,” explains Dr. Jamie Kane, M.D., medical director of Park Avenue Medical Weight and Wellness in New York City. Your doctor may also want to check your levels of T-3 and T-4, the two main thyroid hormones. But hypothyroidism isn’t always a straight numbers game; more and more doctors are now treating the symptoms, not just the blood-test results. “If a patient isn’t feeling well, it’s often because her thyroid isn’t functioning as well as it should for her body,” says Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D., an internist in New York City.

How it’s treated: Your doc will usually start by prescribing a low-dose T-4 thyroid hormone like Synthroid. If your symptoms don’t improve, discuss upping your dosage or switching to a combination of T-3 and T-4.

Out-of-Whack Hormones
As many as 1 in 10 women of childbearing age have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which a woman’s ovaries produce an excess of male hormones. In addition to causing ovulation problems and infertility, PCOS may go hand-in-hand with insulin resistance, a glitch in the way your body processes blood sugar, which is often associated with excess fat storage, especially around the waist. Left untreated, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Could this be you? You may have irregular periods, excess facial and body hair, acne, some male pattern balding, and trouble getting pregnant, along with unexplained weight gain (though not everyone with PCOS has weight issues).

How to get tested: Your gynecologist or internist can test your levels of sex hormones for an imbalance of testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen, says Dr. David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. She may then test your blood sugar and insulin levels or perform an ultrasound to check for cysts on your ovaries.

How it’s treated: Lifestyle changes are usually the first step. If you’re already eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you may have to kick it up another notch to see results. If you have insulin resistance, Katz says, you’ll also want to cut out refined carbs and added sugars. If you’ve made these changes and still don’t notice a difference, your doc may prescribe a drug called metformin, which is used to treat insulin resistance as well as assist with ovulation (if you’re trying to get pregnant).

Trouble-Making Foods
Most people know if they’re allergic to certain foods like nuts or shellfish, but many aren’t aware of food intolerances. While a true food allergy results when your immune system mistakenly identifies a food as harmful and mounts an immediate response, food intolerances can have a variety of causes, including lack of a certain digestive enzyme (as with lactose intolerance) or sensitivity to food additives, and tend to manifest over time, says Dr. Elizabeth W. Boham, M.D., R.D., a family practitioner at The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Eating a “trouble food” — the most common being dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, corn and nuts — can lead to bloating and water-weight gain, among other symptoms. Experts estimate that food intolerances affect as many as 1 in 10 people.

Could this be you? You may regularly have bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation — as well as seemingly unrelated symptoms like mild asthma, eczema, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.

How to get tested: An internist or gastroenterologist can help you diagnose the problem, but you can begin to figure it out for yourself through an elimination diet. Boham suggests that you start by removing gluten and dairy (these are the biggest culprits) from your diet for two to three weeks. If you don’t notice a difference, also eliminate eggs, corn, soy, and nuts, and consider nixing additives such as food coloring and preservatives. After a few weeks, slowly reintroduce the possible culprits, one at a time, noting any reactions.

How it’s treated: If the reaction is severe, you’ll need to cut the offending food from your diet. For mild reactions, try a daily probiotic supplement, which restores the good bacteria in your gut necessary for digestion and can help prevent bloating and water weight gain. Boham recommends one with at least 10 billion live bacteria per pill.

Pills That Pack on Pounds
Weight gain can be an unwelcome side effect of some drugs, including antidepressants, steroids, and, more rarely, birth-control pills (due to a temporary increase in water retention).

Could this be you? You may notice weight gain within a few weeks of starting a new medication, though it could take several months before you see any effects, Kane says.

How to get tested: No special test is needed; you know if you’re gaining weight.

How it’s treated: Talk to your doctor, who may be able to prescribe an alternative. In the case of anti-depressants, bupropion has been shown to cause less weight gain and possibly even lead to weight loss. With birth control pills, switching to a version with a lower dose of hormones might minimize weight gain. But remember, treating the condition you’re taking the drug for is your biggest priority, so you should never go off any meds on your own.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011