Damaging Free Radicals and Super Hero Antioxidants


untitledIn cells, oxygen is constantly involved in chemical reactions in which electrons are shifted around. This process, called oxidation, creates highly reactive, unstable, harmful particles known as free radicals, which combine quickly with other compounds. Free radicals cause damage and many experts believe damage from free radicals is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and many chronic diseases. Free radicals can cause LDL cholesterol to oxidize, increasing cardiovascular risk. They can also damage genes in ways that contribute to the aging process. The damage to cells caused by free radicals, especially the damage to DNA, may play a role in the development of cancer and other health conditions.

We are exposed to free radicals through normal cellular processes, the effects of ultraviolet light and sun exposure, air pollution, trauma, excess heat, and smoking or when the body breaks down certain medicines. Our bodies also produce free radicals during exercise because we inhale more oxygen and use more energy and through by-products of normal processes that take place in your body (such as the burning of sugars for energy and the release of digestive enzymes to break down food). To generate energy, our cells remove electrons from sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids and add them to other molecules, especially oxygen. All this creates free radicals.

 Antioxidants to the rescue. Antioxidants are the heroes of the complex world of biochemistry. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Thus, antioxidants may play a role in the management or prevention of some medical conditions, such as some cancers, heart disease, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and some arthritis-related conditions.

It takes a variety of antioxidants and lots of them to help successfully deactivate the different kinds of free radicals. The body’s natural antioxidant defense system is partly fueled by the antioxidants we consume. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein, lignin, lycopene, and other carotenoids, and selenium. In general, the best dietary sources of antioxidants are vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, seeds and other plant-derived foods.


Deliberate Practice to Reach Your Fitness and Health Goals



Written by: Callie Parry, Intern

The long standing rule has been that it takes an accumulation of 10,000 hours to be considered a master in something. In the premise of change, those 5 big zeros are daunting and discouraging. If only there was a way to cut down those hours even to just 1,000.

Recent findings have countered this statement by suggesting that quality trumps quantity. Those zeros can be cut back by focusing more on about how we are practicing rather than how long we are practicing. The type of practice I am speaking of is that of deliberate practice. Deliberate practice can be applied to all facets of life but is especially helpful in health and fitness related goals. Deliberate practice is utilizing mindfulness to ensure that workouts are all they can possibly be. It is a process-focused approach rather than outcome-focused. When individuals focus merely on the results they want they find themselves often getting discouraged because the results don’t come right away. By shifting ones attention to the method, progress is more quickly observed leaving people with a better sense of accomplishment. Practicing with intent and focus is not necessarily easy, it takes concentrated effort and commitment to work.

There are lots of ways to become more deliberate in one’s practice, but I would like to specifically touch on the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness seems to be the new craze these days and it may be for good reason. Do not fret. I am not speaking of meditating for a half an hour every morning, although that is never a bad idea. I’m thinking more of being mindful and present in your daily health and fitness efforts. First, mindfulness comes from utilizing the breath. Taking deep breaths in and out during exercise and simply throughout the day will keep one capable of focusing on the moment.

After establishing breath, take time to engage all the senses. For example, when performing a weight training session notice the feeling of the weights in your hands and the contraction of your muscles. Pay close attention to your form and address any unwanted aches or pains. Staying present in the body is just as important as the breath and will help you get more out of your physical exertion.

The most effective way to stay mindful and present is to remove distractions. Those who practice deliberately hit the gym or the trail with the intention to do work. Their workout is more important than gossiping with their workout buddy or the movie on the screen. I’m not saying that working out with a partner or watching something while you workout is bad, but make sure that those aspects are not distracting you from the work you are aiming to perform.

Lastly, the best way to engage in deliberate practice and reap its rewards is to refrain from any trace of negativity in the dialogue that runs through your head. Letting negative thoughts about yourself and your journey only leads to discouragement and hinders your ability to put forth that hard work.

Now that you know how to step up your workout game, give it a try. Breathe, engage your senses, remove distractions and ward off negativity. Be deliberate in your practice no matter what it may be and you will be encouraged by the progress in the process.


Sunday Healthy Meal Prep Plan









I’m writing this blog as I am eating one of the delicious bowls of food that I prepped yesterday. I like to prepare food on Sundays so I have healthy food that I can quickly reheat for the week. On busy days, it is so nice to know that in the three minutes time it takes to reheat in the microwave I can have a satisfying meal.

My meal plan yesterday that I came up with by perusing the fridge and pantry:

Here is how I did it: pre2

I tossed delicata squash half moons with olive oil and kosher salt.

I tossed baby carrots with olive oil and dried dill.

I tossed potato chunks with olive oil and McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple seasoning.

I cut thick chicken breasts in half, seasoned with olive oil and Spike seasoning.

I wasn’t sure how long each vegetable would take to roast so I placed each vegetable on their own piece of foil, placed those on cookie sheets and put them in a 400 degree oven. After 15 minutes I pierced each vegetable with a fork to test for tenderness and removed each piece of foil as they got done. The squash was first, then the potatoes and the carrots ended up needing the most time.

While the vegetables were in the oven I prepared the black beans and barley  and grilled the chicken.

I then cut up the chicken and portioned each food into bowls.