9 Super foods for Ultimate Health

9 Super foods for Ultimate Health

SuperfoodsSuper foods are whole foods that are nutrient dense, provide energy, phytonutrients, and have few negative effects.

1.  Grass fed beef
Properly raised cows have 1/3 less saturated fat and 35 milligrams of EPA and DHA, making them lower in inflammatory fats and higher in anti-inflammatory and brain building fats. It has a higher levels of beta carotene and vitamin E. Buying straight from the farmer cuts costs and ensures quality meat.

2.  Grapefruit
Grapefruit has been clinically shown to teach the body to use food for energy rather than storing it as fat. It contains liminoids and lycopene which are cancer fighting and triglyceride lowering.

3.  Kale
Kale is a powerhouse green. Per calorie, it has more calcium than milk, more iron than beef, and is rich in vitamin A and magnesium. Its nutrients are best absorbed when steamed or lightly sautéed.

4.  Avocado
Called “poor man’s butter” in the tropics, avocado is a rich and creamy fruit. Its fats allow maximum absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K, which are important for immunity, bone building, and to neutralize free radicals. It is extremely satisfying and keeps blood sugar from spiking after a meal.

5.  Eggs
Eggs are known as the “perfect protein” and are rated with the highest Biological Value, which is measured as the absorbability of a protein. Most of the nutrients are found in the yolk, including calcium, iron, vitamin B6, folate, A, E, D, K, and B12. The better raised, the more nutrients it will contain. Choose free range over grade A and organic over free range.

6.  Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a great source of minerals, fiber, protein, and essential fatty acids. Soak in water to extract the gel- like mucilage. Add some raw honey and cocoa powder and you’ve got pudding. They are great binders in vegan baking.

7.  Broccoli
Broccoli contains anticancer compound I3C, which helps the body to eliminate estrogen. It is highly anti-inflammatory and nutrient dense. Lightly steamed broccoli eaten with well-cooked tomatoes creates a synergistic cancer fighting effect that is better than just one or the other.

8.  Cocoa
Cocoa is high in magnesium, a mineral that is lacking in 80% of the population. It is necessary for muscle relaxation and is a cofactor in 300 enzyme systems, along with being essential for bone and nerve function.

9.  Berries
Berries are low in sugar and high in fiber and antioxidants. They include raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and cherries. Frozen berries are more economical and great “ice cubes” in the summer.

Making small changes like exchanging snack foods for super foods will help you gradually improve your diet, control your weight and improve your overall health.  Simple things like replacing chips and pretzels with berries or veggies with hummus; using grass fed beef in recipes instead of highly process brands are small relatively simple changes that can happen at the grocery store instead of at home when cravings hit.  These small changes might not seem like much but when you cut back on or eliminate unhealthy foods while replacing them with good choices each day you’ll notice a huge difference!

Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Mixed messages and information about metabolic rate and the calories and workouts it takes to burn fat make losing weight a daunting task.  In this post I briefly show the difference between weight loss and fat loss and then hope to get you started determining your own caloric needs by defining BMR and calculate your daily energy expenditure.  These pieces of data will help you find a good starting point for weight loss or body composition goals.


Body Weight vs Body Fat %

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The photo on the right is the cross section of three different thighs, all the same size.  The thigh in the middle is made up mostly of adipose tissue (fat) while the photos on top and bottom are made up mostly lean mass.  All these cross sections are of legs that look the same size and while the photos on top and bottom have more lean mass, they will weigh more on the scale.  The man with the very high percent body fat in the middle will weigh less on the scale.   Even though the scale indicates they are “smaller”, the individuals on top and bottom is the same size, is stronger, and has legs that are functionally sound.


The Basics of Losing Weight

When I work with clients who want to lose weight or lose body fat, I always start with BMR.  BMR stands for basal metabolic rate and is the amount of energy you need to maintain basic body function while resting.  An accurate measure of BMR is conducted under very restrictive conditions.  The subject must be completely rested (sympathetic nervous system is inactive) but awake, in a temperate environment, with the digestive system completely inactive. It is under these conditions that your energy will be used only to maintain your vital organs, which include the heart, lungs, kidneys, the nervous system, intestines, liver, lungs, sex organs, muscles, and skin.

Basal metabolism is usually the largest component of a person’s total caloric needs. The daily calorie needs is the BMR value multiplied by a factor with a value between 1.2 and 1.9, depending on the activity level.

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*BMR derived from the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation

BMR only represent resting energy expenditure, to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity level using the Harris-Benedict formula, as follows:

Activity Level Activity Factor
Light or no exercise and desk job
BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active
Light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week
BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active
Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week
BMR x 1.55
Very Active
Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week
BMR x 1.725
Extremely Active
Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job plus training 2 x week
BMR x 1.9

This number shows approximately how many calories you should consume to maintain weight. If your goal is to lose weight, remember that basal metabolic rate varies between individuals. Studies have shown differences in BMR when comparing subjects with the same lean mass to be a whopping 28-32% higher than others.  What this means is that calculating your BMR is a starting point for weight loss but some variables are not accounted for in the equation.  

Estimating daily calorie requirements is challenging. While even the best calculators cannot determine an accurate metabolic rate for every individual, calculators based on research can be a very helpful starting point.  These calculators and equations give you a science-based platform to start with.  From there you must use trial, error and careful self-monitoring to achieve your goals.

The One Habit That’s Killing Us (hint- we ALL do it)

The One Habit That’s Killing Us (hint- we ALL do it)

In his book “Get Up”, Dr. James Levine, obesity researcher and leader at Mayo Clinic makes strong claims about the severity of a common activity that every single one of us does.  Dr Levine feels that the simple act of to much sitting during the day – is killing you.  And to be honest I think he might be right.  With 75% of US health care monies being spent for diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, obesity, depression, cancer, cardiovascular disease care, many of these chronic, degenerative diseases can be directly linked to sitting.

treadmill people

Here are some notes from the book:

1. Losing weight is as much about increasing non-exercise activity as it is about eating right and exercising.
2. Going to the gym does not fix sitting all day
3. Sitting at work is the main problem 
4. Currently our public schools systems have very low requirements for physical activity; this is impacting our countries children by increased percentages of obesity and may potentially be indicated in the increase incidence of ADHD.
5. He advises taking a walk after eating to help control blood sugar levels
6. Walk 10,000 steps a day during your work day.  


10,000 steps  equals approximately 2 to 3 miles.   Walking 10,000 steps each day can be accomplished by setting a FitBit to remind you to stand every hour, or installing a walking treadmill desk.  Other ideas include having walking meetings, walking during your breaks, after lunch and before you hop in the car to head home.

I don’t have a treadmill desk OR a stand up desk so instead of that I try to get up and go for a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood if I am working from home OR I hop on the treadmill at the gym before, after or between clients and walk slowly while I finish emails and send messages to clients.
What’s that you say…”easy for you to say, you work in a gym”…true enough but I’m willing to bet that some or even most of you have access to long hallways, stairs and a treadmill or other piece of equipment near or even in your workplace building.  If you don’t have access and your aren’t the boss…ask the boss!  If you are the boss, then find a spot for a moderately priced treadmill that all employees can have access to!  Healthy employees means fewer sick days and other health care costs for your company.
The main take-away from this book: consistent daily activity is a crucial part of your long term health, well-being and weight control!

What is HIIT?

What is HIIT?

bootcampWHAT IS HIIT?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a short duration (15-60 Mins) exercise regime characterized alternating intervals of intense work followed by rest intervals. It is not uncommon for work intervals to approach 80% to 95% of one’s maximum heart rate (MHR) combined with rest intervals at a much lower effort (eg, 40%-50% of MHR).

What are the benefits of HIIT?
HIIT training has been shown to improve:

  • aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular health
  • insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)
  • cholesterol profiles
  • abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.

Why is HIIT Training so Popular?
HIIT workouts are becoming hugely popular, but why?

HIIT Workouts:

  • Save time by allowing you to achieve similar benefits to endurance training in shorter periods of time
  • Burn as many or more calories during workouts with the added benefit of continuing to burn calories during the post-exercise period (EPOC)
  • Can be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions
  • Can be used in older and at risk adult populations by adjusting intensity levels to stay within 50-70% MHR
  • Can be performed on all exercise modes, including cycling, walking, swimming, aqua training, elliptical cross-training, and in many group exercise classes.

Is HIIT Training Safe For Everyone?
Regardless of age, fitness level, risk factors, or special conditions, the key to safe participation of HIIT training is to modify the intensity of the work interval to an appropriate intensity. At risk populations can increase intensity levels under supervision of a medical professional, as safety in participation is a primary priority. The safety of HIIT is increased tremendously when individuals focus on finding their own optimal training intensities as opposed to keeping up with other persons or following a specific protocol that may push them beyond their own capacity.



  1. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) HIIT Brochure: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf
  2. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: High-Intensity Interval Training –An Alternative for Older Adults; Michael Whitehurst, EdD, FACSM

Representing NuStep and Helping those with Spinal Cord Injuries!

While at Nustep this week I met Tom Hoatlin, he is pictured here on the NuStep with Steve Sarns standing behind him. Tom works out 3 times a week often utilizing the ingenious leg brace attachment on the Nustep which is designed for those who have mobility limitations in their lower body. Tom works for the Christopher Reed foundation as a mentor for those who have experienced spinal cord injuries. Another awesome, motivating individual!

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To Beat Back Pain…Strengthen Your Core


I recently received this question which I thought reflected a general consensus among most people whether postpartum, amateur athlete, or the average joe who spends most of his time in an office chair…

Since being pregnant, breast feeding, and now carrying my baby around all the time I have a lot of lower back pain.  I know it’s important to strengthen my core in order to strengthen my back, but am not sure the best ways to go about actually doing this without needing a heating pad every night.

I can relate to back pain!!!  When I was 19 years old I ran 6 miles about 3 times a week, worked out almost every day, and played in competitive volleyball tournaments on weekends.  One day during a tournament I jumped up to hit the ball, landed, and felt this horrendous pain shooting through my lower back.  I could not stand up straight or lie down without excruciating pain.  I had to go to the emergency room!  I was given muscle relaxers and pain killers but no explanation as to what this pain was!  Later I learned that I had extremely weak core muscles causing extreme stress on my lower back which eventually lead to severe muscles spasms and soft tissue damage.  I’m telling you…back pain is NO JOKE!!!!  Whether an athlete, new mother, or moderately active person… you should aim to have a strong core and learn to engage it properly, protect your back, and keep you on your feet!

An article from Web MD states: About 25% of Americans are affected by back pain in a given year, and they spend more time at the doctor’s office for back pain than for any other medical condition except high blood pressure and diabetes.

Instead of jumping for pills or surgery, says Kelly, people with chronic back pain should first seek out a thorough functional assessment from a qualified trainer with experience in sports medicine.

Some main causes of back pain are:

  • Poor posture and alignment
  • Weak core muscles
  • Improper use of core muscles
  • Structural damage like a herniated or ruptured disk

If there is no structural damage, the keys to alleviating lower back pain are:

  • Posture (during all exercise and during regular life)
  • Core Strength Exercises
  • Training the Nervous system to fire muscles correctly

Why does core strength matter: Your core is made up of muscles ligaments and tendons.  The structure of the back & core is made up of bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.  There are a multitude of factors that can impact these elements to cause lower back pain.

4 exercises to strengthen your core:

Side Plank: The side plank requires alignment and core activation to be done correctly. Lineup ear, shoulder, hip, knee & ankle, draw navel in, and hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. DSC_6010
Side Angle Pose: Side angle pose is a yoga pose requiring balance, leg strength, and core activation. I am not a yoga teacher or expert, just a participant so I have included a link  with instructions to help you do this pose. DSC_6005
Plank Using Exercise Ball: Plank using an exercise ball requires shoulder strength and core activation. Line up ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle, draw navel in, and hold for 30 -60 seconds. DSC_6032
Chest Press Using Exercise Ball: Chest press using an exercise ball requires core stability, upper body strength, and balance.  It’s a great exercise to help you learn to activate the core during strength training. DSC_6053

You should not feel lower back pain during any of these exercises.  If you do, they are too advanced or you are holding them too long.  If you have chronic back pain, I recommend scheduling a session or two with a qualified exercise specialist just to focus on core strengthening exercises, flexibility, and posture.  With the right professional, it can dramatically improve your core strength and reduce lower back pain.  Let me know if you would like more information about this by sending an email to: Jes@jesreynolds.com!