Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Epsom Salt Baths…Who Knew?!

Your body is tired; your legs are sore; you are stressed; and you have a race coming up. What should you do? Try an Epsom Salt Bath. Runners swear by them and lots of others are becoming fast believers. I mean, if you can’t trust a runner who is taking a bath mere hours before the biggest race of his or her running career, who can you trust? Below, I’ve included a few other tidbits as to why soaking in a hot bath full of Epsom just may do the trick. (You can alternate between ice baths and Epsom Salt baths; just leave some time in between so there is no chemical burning of the skin from the temperature change!)

  1. Most know of the importance of iron and calcium for our bodies, but what about magnesium? It is the second most abundant element in human cells and the fourth most important positively charged ion in the body. Magnesium helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. And most of us are deficient in magnesium, so soaking in a bath with Epsom salt, which is high in magnesium, is one of the easiest ways to get a quick lift.
  2. Epsom salt, known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate, is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath with Epsom salt! Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants.
  3. Researchers and physicians suggest these health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels, as listed on the web site of the Epsom Salt Industry Council:
    • Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
    • Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
    • Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
    • Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
    • Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
    • Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
    • Improved oxygen use.
    • Improved absorption of nutrients.
    • Improved formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.
    • Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.

Directions

  • Measure 2 cups of Epsom salt into a standard bathtub. Instructions on the package will provide dosage for smaller baths, bowls and foot-soaks.
  • Fill the tub with hot water, checking the temperature to make sure it is safe and comfortable for soaking in. Swish the water around to dissolve the Epsom salts.
  • Soak the sore muscles or body in the Epsom salt bath for 15 minutes or so. The recommended minimum time is 12 minutes, three times each week, according to the Epsom Salt Council.
Sources 
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/health-benefits-of-epsom-salt-baths.html#ixzz1uU0zmgHX

 

Tips To Improve Your Running

Jason Fitzgerald

I just read this great post by a marathoner, coach and blogger at StrengthRunning.com. I’ve pulled out some of my favorite tips courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald, but feel free to read the entire post here.

Don’t want to read on but want your own specified 5K beginner training program, click here.

  • Do a long run! It doesn’t matter if you’re training for a 5k, triathlon, or ultramarathon – the long run is one of your most important workouts of the week. Aim to run anywhere from 20-30% of your total weekly mileage during your long run, depending on your fitness and goals. The long runs boosts your aerobic capacity and allows you to run faster for longer. It helps you become more efficient, creates more mitochondria (the energy producers of your cells) in your muscles, and strengthens your cardiovascular system. (Melissa: I personally have trouble getting in long runs on my own so I schedule them for Sunday and plan to run with my running group (SouthFloridaRuns.com). Oh, and I get them done early! Before I can change my mind and before the sun gets too brutal. Remember the purpose of the long run isn’t to do them so fast. It’s to get in the mileage at a good, solid pace. Meaning – don’t go too slow or you won’t get the benefit and you’ll be out there all day!)
  • Run twice a day. Running twice a day is an advanced strategy for reaching the next level of performance. I only recommend it for runners who have at least two years of consistent training behind them. In addition to adding volume to your schedule, which will help increase your aerobic capacity and running economy, adding an easy morning run will help you prepare for afternoon workouts. After you’re comfortable running easy twice a day, a morning run will help you shake out the kinks and increase blood flow before an afternoon fast workout. This was a staple in my college years and something I continue to practice today. (Melissa: Common in college, running twice a day is the easiest way to get in extra mileage – especially if you are expected to hit upwards of 70-80 miles per week. It’s amazing how an easy 3 miler 5-6 days a week can add nearly 20 miles to your total.)
  • Dynamic Stretching and Core Strength: The warm-ups prepare your body to run by increasing your heart rate and blood flow to your legs. Isn’t that what a “warm-up” is supposed to do? (Melissa: Both we hardly did when I was in high school but since then Coach Rothman has added them to the routine. It turns out static (or sitting) stretching before you run isn’t that good. Save it for after the run. Before the run – keep yourself moving.)

Benefits of Massage

I am a big fan of massages. I go for them pretty regularly – well at least I try to. I know I should go more and am told that by my masseuse each time I show up. The knots in my back and shoulders seem to get worse and I am reminded that de-stressing, more water, stretching and more regular massages are the only answers. Each time I smile and promise I will schedule more but it is tough to get there with such a busy schedule. I mean it’s not like I don’t want to go! If I had my way – I’d be on the massage table at least twice a week!

But back to the purpose of this post. Lots of massage locations are offering special packages and discounts for summer and specifically Mother’s Day. So regardless if you are a mom or not, take advantage and get one! I personally recommend the amazing massage team at the Boynton Beach Chiropractic & Sports Rehabilitation Institute. I’ve had personal experience there and the experience was fantastic and most importantly RELAXING! They are offering 25% off hour-long massages just in time for Mother’s Day so call the office today and purchase one for you or the “mom” in your life. They are located in the Canyon Town Center shopping area in West Boynton Beach (Boynton Beach Blvd, just west of the Turnpike). The office number is 561-364-4111 and the website is DrDavidRudnick.com. Tell them I sent you!

And if you still need a reason to go for a massage, check out this great article written by Madeline Vann, MPH for EveryDayHealth.com:

Massage And Emotional Wellness

Massage can provide stress relief for just about anyone, from preterm babies to the elderly. Yet the benefits of massage go beyond stress relief. Moderate-pressure massage for as little as 15 minutes may offer relief from depression, anger, and anxiety.

“It’s never fun to let stress bring you to your breaking point! Just as we take our cars in for regular tune-ups, we too need maintenance,” says massage therapist Kristen Sykora, LMT, owner of Harmony Healthcare Associates and Hands Down Physical Arts, Inc. in Wantagh, NY. “Massage therapy decreases the amount of stress in the body by [relaxing] muscles, flushing out the waste products from the muscles, and increasing the ‘feel-good’ hormones.”

Massage Therapy and Stress Relief: Emotional Health Benefits

If you’ve been in the hands of a good massage therapist, you already know how your body responds with stress relief. But the physiological response goes deeper than blissful relaxation.

“Massage therapy can improve a person’s emotional health by reducing stress and stress hormones; by increasing serotonin and thereby reducing depression and pain; and by enhancing immune function and thereby reducing bacterial and viral illnesses,” explains Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Fla.

Field’s research team has shown that massage relieves stress for preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Three 15-minute full-body massages each day for five days lead to a significant reduction in stress-related behaviors in this vulnerable population. Massage has also been shown to help preterm babies gain weight faster.

Research has also shown that:

  • Six 30-minute massages over a two-week period can ease pain and improve mood among people with advanced cancer.
  • Massage can help reduce depression in both children and pregnant women. As little as 15 minutes of massage on a regular basis may be beneficial to mood.
  • Massage therapy is helpful for trauma victims. “Aside from physical pain, victims of trauma, past or present, will often hold memories of such events in their muscle tissues. By receiving massage from a trained professional, one can get back in touch with their body and be able to access the held emotions,” says Sykora.

Massage is not just a way to gain stress relief — you can reduce many of the other unpleasant emotions in your life as well. “Many studies show that massage therapy reduces negative mood states like depression, anxiety, and anger and their associated stress hormones,” says Field.

Massage Therapy and Stress Relief: Finding a Massage Therapist

Most massage therapists can provide the kind of massage you will need to help with depression, anger, anxiety, and stress relief. “Moderate pressure is the key factor for massage therapy to be effective. Any type of massage therapist who uses moderate pressure should be able to help with mood management,” says Field.

“We often go through our day without any recognition of how our bodies are responding to the stress we experience,” says Sykora, who advises regular massage sessions as well as a meditation practice for optimal stress management. “Massage treatments give us a time-out in order for us to access the deeper layers of our well-being, allowing the therapist to unwind the holding patterns in our tissues.”

So don’t be afraid to indulge in a massage every now and then — it’s good for your emotional well-being and your physical health.

Direct link to article here.

Are You At The Right Racing Weight?

I recently read an advertisement for a new diet program and thought I had to share…

As a runner or athlete, you know that every extra pound you carry costs time, wastes energy, stresses your joints, and affects your performance.

And you know that “dieting” doesn’t help much, either. Diets only leave you feeling weaker by starving your body of vital energy and choking off the nutrients you need for muscle growth and training improvement.

What’s worse: With diets, you run the risk of undernourishing your body and losing muscle along with fat. So what’s the answer?

Burn off excess fat, get lean and finally get to your RACING weight.

The ad happens to be for a new book by a Triathlete selling his nutrition program…It goes on to ask, could 5 or 10 lbs be standing in the way of your personal best?

WELL, the book brings up a good question and something that’s important for all athletes and especially runners. In high school, prior to my junior year, I never thought about weight. As Coach Rothman said, do the workouts, eat well and the weight will be at what it needs to be. It seemed so easy then. Junior year, however, I started packing on the pounds. I was growing up you could say. All of a sudden, I found that I needed to pay attention to what I was eating. No more sharing pints of Ben & Jerry’s with one of my teammates in the local Publix parking lot after every long run. It was during the winter of my junior year – between cross country and track – that I got my eating schedule under control. I was on a nutritional program that told me what and when to eat. It was a perfect balance of carbs, protein, fats, etc. I was eating enough that I felt energetic, yet not too much so I kept my body lean. Later on the in the spring, I ended up winning the Florida 6A Track & Field 1600m and 3200m State Championships. So you could say the program worked.

But was it easy from there? No, I definitely went through phases again through my senior year and through college of eating too much again, and then eating too little. My energy was low and my races suffered; or I was carrying an extra few too many pounds and my races suffered. The balance is tough for a lot of us. I am the first to admit it, and that’s why a program that tells you what and when to eat has always been ideal for me. It ensures that I am not eating too much and that I am most importantly not restricting too much! It also allows me to live my life and not worry about what I am eating and if I had too little or too much. Because who wants to spend their life thinking about what’s next on the menu?

Now, 12 years later since that junior year of high school, I am back on a program and enjoying it once again. I am seeing the results and I am feeling good. If you or someone in your life needs that guidance, I recommend the AdvoCare program. It’s a complete nutritional and eating plan that keeps you on schedule and on target to be strong and lean. More details here.

Still not believing me? See some of the results!

AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge

As mentioned in the Diet and Health section, I decided two weeks ago to get my eating schedule under better control, clean up my food (less oils, fats, sugars) in and effort to improve my skin/reduce acne breakouts, and improve my energy levels with less coffee and more vitamins! I started the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge after it was recommended by numerous friends and business colleagues and promised I’d share updates on how the program was treating me. Well here is my first update – on day 11 of the program and right after the first 10-day cleanse:

  • The first ten days went by very quickly and I felt satisfied. I did not have any coffee (for those of you that know me – this is a huge win in itself!); stocked up my fridge with organic vegetables, fruits and meats (chicken, eggs and salmon): and felt pretty comfortable following it all. After a few days – you get used to the schedule of when to have foods, vitamins, supplements, etc. and it becomes the norm.
  • My exercise routine remained the same as it was prior to the start of the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge. (I will add that I ran a comfortable 65 quarter on the track half-way through the 10-days but I can’t really attribute that to the diet!)
  • I lost a total of 5 lbs; 5 inches on my belly; and a quarter inch on my hips. I was in pretty good shape before so didn’t have a lot to lose but I can 100% see my abs better – which is always a trouble spot for me. I need to get my body fat percentage measured again so that I can report that accurately.

And here is the proof! (Please ignore the awful tan lines from running!)

Let me know if you want to also try out the 24-Day Program as I’m a new distributor! Or visit my AdvoCare website here.