Sunday, May 30, 2010

The World Cup Obsession

Some of us may actually need to get fit for this World Cup. Yelling at that TV screen is not going to be easy. I was simply watching friendly matches last week on the treadmill talking to the TV screen and sweating like I was playing the match myself. Trust me, others at that gym did not find it cute. That’s when it hit me. Oh boy, this is going to be an interesting ride.

If you’re like me and all the madness around the World Cup has actually gotten to you, you need to build up your stamina and keep up your energy just to survive this season. And since football nights always involve beer, chips, popcorn, wings, and whatever else we can lay our hands on, it’s also time to build our knowledge of substitute finger food so we can stay healthy, and keep our arteries unclogged.

Wheat Crackers: Let’s throw out the chips for some whole wheat crackers this season. Wheat Thins are my favorite, but there are several other options like Kashi and Special K.
Air-popped popcorn: Popcorn is a whole grain, so as long as we don’t smother it will butter, sugar or excess salt, we can substitute it for our chips.
Nuts: Contrary to popular belief, nuts are not all bad for you, especially if you’re trying to build muscles. So this is better mixed with other items (like popcorn) because it’s rich in protein. The nuts that are highest in protein and lowest in calories are pistachio nuts, chestnuts, and palm kernel seeds.
Fruits and vegetables: So this one will be hard to pull off, but it may be fun to have some fruits and vegetables with crackers. Maybe some celery, some carrots, even some berries might be fun. People love to pick at things so if you lay out some fruits and veggies, people will definitely eat them.
Baked chicken: Rather than have that deep fried chicken or buffalo wing galore, settle for some baked chicken. Even suya (non-fatty beef without the healthy dose of oil) is a better option than fried chicken. I was once at an event where they served liver cocktails in place of shrimp cocktails and I loved it. This is just an idea, so if you hate liver, don’t shoot me.
Light beer: Well, the best thing to do is stick to water or wine. But if you must drink beer, try to stick to the low calorie stuff. There are so many beers being sold right now that are low in calories like Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) 64 or Budweiser Select. For a listing of the amount of calories in various beer brands, click on this link: Beer100. You may want to stock up before your friends come over, or when people say BYOB, actually take your own beer.  

Heck, at the end of the season, we want to actually look and feel like the footballers, right?

Just as a side note, if you are thinking of going all out and supporting your team, there are some T-shirts you may like by Allen and Fifth (go to for how to order). The picture below is an image of one of the shirt patterns I stole from the designer. I thought I’d get you guys a little sneak preview to the T-shirts coming out soon. They’re not on the website yet, so I’m just hooking you up ;) Although they are not meant to be solely for the World Cup, they surely satisfy my craving for team spirit! So if you see someone running in the park with these, that’s probably me…

Do you have any other healthy tips you plan to apply this World Cup season? Leave a note and tell us what it is.

Have a lovely week!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nigerian Blog Award Nominations

Hi readers,

The Nigerian Blog Awards are coming up, and it is time to nominate for the Best Health, Sports and Fitness category. Go to today to nominate. Nominee selection ends tomorrow at noon EST so do it tonight! The five nominees with the highest votes in this category will be selected tomorrow, and then on Monday May 31st, we can begin voting for the winner out of the 5 nominees chosen.

Your support is much appreciated.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Drop Dead Diva? I Want It and I Want It Now!

We live in a time where we can get almost anything we want in the drop of a hat. The fat can be sucked right out of you for the right price; you can have food delivered to your door if you don’t want to step outside; you can even access Facebook from your cell phone if you don’t want to wait till you get home. Because of this diva mentality, it frustrates us when we can’t control our health in the drop of a hat as well. Websites, sales people, and even pharmaceutical companies have preyed on this fact abundantly. To test people’s response to the quick health fix, I Googled the words ‘how to lose weight fast’ and came up with about 22 million responses. That’s how much we are being preyed upon. I found everything from diet pills to one-week boot camps.

Amidst the weight loss panic, people forget that too much of anything is not good for you. This includes dropping weight too quickly. Shedding pounds fast is a sudden change that can be too much for your body to handle. It can leave your heart and other organs too weak to handle the dramatic change, and as we talked about in a previous post, it can make you lose muscle as well. People with more toned muscles maintain a healthy weight more easily because muscles help burn fat.

But health is not all about weight, right? Even if you successfully shed those pounds quickly, and somehow manage to not damage your body in the process, your attitude towards food might change. For example, if you are on diet pills, you may think you’re invincible and eat whatever you want. I don’t need to tell you that eating everything every time is not good for you. There are so many foods out there that can harm your body when consumed on a regular basis. Another example is that if you cut everything out, you could begin to look at food as the enemy, and not get the nourishment that you need. And the arguably most important example is that if you work out stringently and cannot maintain the routine, you would probably fall back into your old lifestyle.

So what is the crux of the matter? Let’s set our diva attitudes aside when it comes to our bodies. If we consider our overall health, not just how we look, we will begin to understand that health is a process, not a target. Just as sudden changes in our situations and environments can have an effect on our blood pressure, sudden changes in our bodies can have a negative effect on our overall health. Plus, to be brutally honest, you can change the outside, but you can’t change your inside in the drop of a hat.

Please check out my other fitness articles on 360Nobs. Leave comments and suggestions.

Till next week!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Water - The Source of All Things Good?

Yep. All humans know that water is good for you. Water is one of the greatest creations because it’s everywhere, it’s cheap, and we all need it desperately. So why do we need it, and how much do we need to stay healthy?

Water replenishes the body and makes you less tired. Most of us know that. But there are other positive benefits that may not be so obvious. One of them is the fact that drinking adequate amounts of water may help you eat less. The thirst and hunger sensations are usually triggered together, so thirst can be easily mistaken for hunger. If you keep your body well hydrated, it may reduce the frequency of your vending machine visits.

Water also helps to lubricate the joints, and regulate body temperature, thus contributing to a better athletic performance. So if you play sports or exercise a lot, it is essential to stay hydrated to reach your maximum potential. Plus, since water gives you more energy, that can’t hurt your performance either.

As you drink more water, you’ll also notice improvement with your skin. Water keeps the skin moisturized, more elastic, and radiant. Drink tons of water to keep your skin looking younger.

How much water should we drink to stay healthy? A rule of thumb is to drink about 8 glasses of water a day. However, I would use this as a suggestion because there are so many other factors that affect the amount of water we should be drinking. Weather is one major factor. Because we lose water when we sweat, individuals usually need more water in the hottest months of the year. On the other hand, our bodies expel water simply by breathing. And when it is really cold, our bodies expel even more water when we breathe. So we also need more water in the coldest months of the year.

Because men tend to sweat more than women, and usually have larger muscles, males usually need more water than females for better physical performance. If you exercise though, you need more water than someone who does not because you sweat much more.

Other sources of water besides water
We also get a lot of the water we need from the food we eat. But because we have begun to rely on TV dinners and other packaged foods, we may need to make an effort to eat foods that keep us hydrated. Fresh fruits are a very good source of water because most fruits are made up of more than fifty percent water. Other liquids like milk, sports drinks, and juices contain a lot of water as well. But please be cognizant of the other contents of the liquids you drink. Sports drinks are good for people who work out because they not only replace the water, they also replace the sodium you lose in your workout sweat. As for juices, they may be hurting you more than helping you if they contain more sugar than fruit. As a side note, alcohol does not help with hydration. It actually dehydrates you. I just thought I'd mention that little fact :)

This week, try to drink more water to increase your energy and your workout performance. Don’t always wait till your really thirsty!

Thanks for your support! Check out my other columns at 360Nobs and Style House!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spot Reduction

A major question asked by most people starting an exercise program is “Can I just work on my problem area?” Spot reduction is really the notion that we can focus on that one problem spot in our bodies, and reduce the fat in that region only. Well, I am afraid to burst your bubble, but spot reduction does not work. You can reduce fat all over and tone certain areas, but you cannot necessarily control where you lose fat (well, unless you visit a plastic surgeon).

So what should you do? Focus on burning fat all over your body by doing cardiovascular exercises and controlling your diet. To further concentrate on those problem areas, do some strength training that heavily involves those parts of your body. If your stomach is your problem area, there are so many toning exercises for the stomach that you can add to your workout, but it is also important to improve your posture while doing other exercises like push-ups. When we get our posture right, we also work our core muscles with most exercises.

Understanding spot reduction is simple. Muscles are separate from fat. Fat appears where it wants to on the body, and this cannot really be controlled. Women generally gain fat more easily around the thighs and butt, while men generally gain fat more easily around the stomach. However, though this is usual, it is not true for all people. Even where an area may be the first to gain fat in the body, it does not mean that it would be the first area where fat would be lost. Fat is burned throughout the body by physical activity. You can work on your muscles, but if there’s a layer of fat covering it, you need to burn off the fat. And weight training does not burn a lot of fat. To lose the fat, you need cardio exercises.

As you structure and follow your fitness program, I encourage you not to be convinced by late-night infomercials or commercials on websites where they claim they know the recipe to lose stomach fat or thigh fat or whatever specific area it is. Stick to your exercise plan of cardio and strength training to lose fat all over and tone specific areas.

If you recently started a diet or exercise program, I would love an update on your progress. Feel free to let us know how you’ve been doing!

Also, please check out my columns at 360nobs and Style House.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

For the Runner in You...

When I hear people talk about running like it I the most restful and zen thing in the world, I get confused. I start asking myself all sorts of questions about whether I'm doing it wrong or paying too much attention. You need to concentrate, you’re breathless, and you have to keep moving. How is that zen? Running is hard, especially if you’re trying to get the most out of it. But you deal with it because it makes you feel good after.

I was fishing around for running tips, and I came across a few that I thought were pretty interesting so I thought I’d share. By now, you probably know that I love lists :)

Run on the treadmill sometimes: Running outside or “pavement pounding” as I like to call it, is great because you actually feel more worked out, but the cement is so hard it can actually hurt your ankles if you do it constantly. I suggest taking a break for a couple of days a week, and running on the treadmill or in the middle of the street (if you dare). The tar is better than the cement.
Get running shoes: This is coming from someone who has had to deal with some ankle bruises from exercise. When you run in bad trainers or sneakers, you risk hurting yourself, and you may not be getting the most out of your workout. Comfy running shoes have soles that are made for the surfaces you run on, so they actually help you perform better. They also last longer. Invest in some great shoes, and you’ll notice the difference.
Don't forget to breathe: Watch your breathing when you run because how you breathe can affect your performance and your concentration. Also, don’t hold your breath. It’s funny how many of us actually forget to breathe when we run. You would think that we have lived long enough to figure out that air is good for you by now. But sometimes, we are concentrating so hard on left-right-left-right that we forget the in-out part.
Hydrate: Drink water before and after you run to stay hydrated. It is also recommended to drink water while you run, but not everyone likes to drink water while they workout. For some individuals, drinking water during the workout actually slows down their motion because they feel fuller. So try before, after, and during, and see which works best for you. But whatever way you chose, make sure you stay hydrated.
Posture: Try to stand straight while you run or hinge forward slightly if you’re going up a hill. But posture is important during running because if you always bend too far forward, you could hurt your lower back or damage your normal posture. This is especially true for those who like to hold the rails when running on a treadmill.
Lift your feet off the floor: Raise your feet so your knee is somewhere around a 90 degree angle. This way, you’re working on your bum, your legs, and your thighs.Way to multitask!
Eat: Please don't starve yourself. Starving yourself and exercising don't go hand in hand. You need energy to run like you mean it. Where do we get energy? Duh! Food!

If you have any more questions about running, please leave a comment here or on the Facebook link on the right.

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