February is American Heart Month. In an effort to promote cardiovascular health, I have decided to share my personal dietary and exercise choices.!
Low Acid, Organic Coffee
Oatmeal is a whole-grain powerhouse that has been packing serious nutrition and hearty flavor into breakfast for generations.
To get the most out of this superfood, be a bit picky. Some packets of instant oatmeal, for example, are loaded with sugar -- as much as 8 teaspoons per serving -- and high in sodium. Always check the label to see what you're getting.
Great oatmeal starts with plain rolled oats, or steel-cut oats, cooked in a little water or milk, and topped with wholesome ingredients. It's a feel-good start to the day, and if you make it a habit, it can do your health some favors.
Oatmeal’s claim to fame is its proven ability to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Chalk that up to a type of soluble fiber called beta glucan.
Eating oats is linked to an average 7% drop in LDL cholesterol, research shows. Many other things also affect your heart's health (like what else you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke), but oatmeal is a simple heart-smart start.
Lowers blood sugar levels
Promotes healthy bacteria in your gut
Helps you to feel full to manage your weight
Relieves skin itching and irritation
Lowers your chance of colon cancer
The Fitness Doctor Way
Add chia, hemp, and flax seed, almond milk, walnuts, cinnamon, tart cherries, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, and fresh blueberries.
Pre-Workout Snack: Apple
Intra-Workout: Lemon water
4 Day Split Program
Back and Biceps
Shoulders and Triceps
Cardio everyday for at least 20 minutes
Core integrated between sets
I don't necessarily take a rest day. Leg day gives my upper body an opportunity to recover.
Each workout can be performed in under an hour.
Salad and Greek Yogurt
Combination of vegetable, whole grain, and lean protein source. Mostly plant-based proteins. Red meat is not part of my diet.
Dark chocolate or frozen yogurt
It’s time to load up on spinach, kale, collard greens and other dark, leafy greens. Dark leafy greens are a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients, including fiber, micronutrients and bioactive plant compounds known as phytochemicals. These nutrients presumably protect against cardiovascular disease by various mechanisms, including altering gene expression, regulating blood pressure, and lowering inflammation in the body.
Olive oil consumption, specifically the extra-virgin, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk. Olive oil is rich in healthful antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins, and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. To get the most benefits from olive oil, avoid heating the oil and instead use it in a salad or add it to a homemade hummus!
Berries and avocados are high in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, all of which work to lower oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. These processes improve blood pressure, vascular function, and fight free radical formation. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats increase our LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) clearance rate, meaning our body gets rid of them faster. Higher LDL levels can be detrimental because LDL brings cholesterol to the heart.
Beans are a heart healthy food which consist of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They improve the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and promoting digestive wellness. Beans are rich in soluble fiber, which acts as food to beneficial gut bacteria to promote a healthy gut flora.
Salmon contains omega-3 fats which have been shown to significantly reduce the risk for sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias and all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary heart disease.
These essential fats help by reducing inflammation in the body. You may get the same benefits from a supplement based on a meta analysis that found fish oil omega‐3 supplements lowered risk for heart attack and death from coronary heart disease.
What To Eat If You Are Hungry Before Bed
In an ideal world, we would all eat a hearty, healthy dinner. It would be followed by something small and sweet, like a square of dark chocolate (see above) and then a few hours later, we would curl up in bed and sleep all night, our stomachs perfectly full until the next day.
The reality is more complicated. Whether we stay up later than we should, eat a small dinner or we’re hungry without a good reason (it happens), a lot of us end up craving a bedtime snack.
Although we’ve long heard that eating before bed is associated with weight gain, this is (thankfully) mostly a myth. That being said, what you choose to eat before bed could impact your weight over time, along with your ability to sleep soundly.
So if you know that skipping a bedtime snack will leave your stomach rumbling, what should you reach for?
The nutritional profile of a walnut is plentiful, contributing to calcium, magnesium, vitamin B, protein and heart healthy fats like plant-based omega-3s. Because walnuts hit on so many helpful nutrients, research has found that consuming walnuts can help stave off Type 2 diabetes and other cardiometabolic risk factors.
Greek yogurt with almonds and berries
This is a great option because it has a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Having something carb-based, something protein-based, and something fat-based before bed helps to keep blood sugar balanced and keeps your body from waking during the night due to the need for glucose.
Rice cake with peanut butter
Peanut butter has protein and fat and rice cakes have carbs. As mentioned above, that trio is great for keeping blood sugar balanced throughout the night. Just do your best to skip the sugary peanut butter options.
How to avoid that bedtime hunger in the first place
While eating a bedtime snack is perfectly fine, if you don’t love eating before bed, there’s a lot you can do to prevent hunger from striking. I recommend consuming a sufficient amount of calories earlier in the day. Don’t wait until dinner to eat two-thirds of your food. Aim to have 25-30 grams of protein at your main meals, and three to five servings of cruciferous or high-fiber vegetables at lunch and dinner.
Tips To Enhance Your Workout
This training hack makes every move a core workout!
Kneeling turns exercises like curls and shoulder presses into ab builders. You know all about crunches and sit-ups and planks, the typical ways to train your abs. But what if you could hone your six-pack without ever doing a dedicated abs exercise at all?
Get ready for the ab workout you never saw coming. Meet the “kneeling” stances, a series of underrated positions that will help you carve your core and hone your posture, without ever forcing you to do a single sit-up -- or to even flex your abs, for that matter. Instead, they turn exercises like dumbbell curls and shoulder presses into workouts for your core, too, forcing you to be more conscious of body alignment than you’ve ever been.
Slight flaws often occur in your core, and they’re almost impossible to avoid when you’re using kneeling positions. Why? With your lower legs out of the equation, if your abs, glutes, and lower back muscles (just to name a few muscle groups) aren’t firing correctly, you’ll lose your balance.
Tall Kneeling Stance
The tall kneeling position is simple, sit on your shins, with your knees just wider than hips-width apart. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the ground. Simple right? Except when you’re doing reps, of, say, biceps curls from this posture, your abs, glutes, and hamstrings will have to continually fire to keep your torso from tipping back and forth. The tall kneeling stance is ideal for perfecting your biceps curl form.
The half-kneeling stance is exactly like it sounds. Instead of kneeling on both shins, you kneel on one, with your other foot on the ground. Work to maintain a 90-degree angle at both knees in this stance, and fight for a vertical shin as well. You’ll get plenty of core work, just as you do in tall kneeling stance, but now there’s added focus on your glutes and smaller hip stabilizing muscles; these muscle groups must work overtime to help you stay level.
To get the maximum benefits from these positions, follow these rules.
Don’t get overly dynamic. Sure, a tall- or half-kneeling kettlebell clean is worth trying. A tall kneeling barbell shoulder press near your max weight, however, isn’t.
Focus on your breathing
The kneeling positions give you a great chance to hone your breathing. Focus on breathing into your belly when using them; don’t let your ribcage flare out.