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refer a friend promo

Thankful for your friends this November?

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sleep is vital for fitness

Too tired and drained of energy to get a good workout in? Sleep is VITAL for fitness!

Turns out, getting enough SLEEP will not only improve how you feel DURING your workout – it also helps you reach your fitness goals WHILE YOU SLEEP!

Check out ‘The Intimate Relationship Between Fitness and Sleep’, written by Ashley Mateo, published on Everyday Health. It is full of reasons why sleep is so important when it comes to fitness and working out. Here are a few of the main takeaways from the article, but if you’re not too tired, it’s definitely worth reading it in its entirety!:

  • 1. Sleep is required to reach goals such as improving cardiovascular health, increasing lean muscle mass and improving endurance, because sleep is when our bodies produce growth hormone to rebuild, repair and recover!

  • 2. Regular exercise helps us sleep by producing more adenosine in the brain.

  • 3. Getting adequate sleep will help you maximize your workout, and not getting enough will make your workouts feel harder.

Tempted to hit snooze in the AM and not sure if another hour of sleep or a workout will benefit you more in the long run?

Well, this article answers that question as well – read it to find the answer!

Need more convincing? See these other related articles:

1. Why Sleep Is the No. 1 Most Important Thing for a Better Body

2. Importance of Sleep in Fitness

3. What You Need to Know About Sleep and Physical Fitness

diets don't work

Adapted from Victoria Myers of Nourishing Mind Nutrition

On a daily basis I have strangers, friends, family and co-workers share with me the new scheme they are going to use to lose weight.

A new diet. A new food group to avoid. How few calories they are going to eat. How many shakes they are going to drink instead of enjoying a meal.

Maybe even a magical weight loss pill they are going to try. I bet you are even still thinking that you’ll do one more diet, just one last time, and then once you lose the weight you can go back to normal eating.

Keep reading if that is you…

After years of using the same techniques of cutting calories and following diets (unfortunately the techniques we were taught in school to use), I consistently saw that it never, ever worked. Weight loss and “success” would occur at first. For probably the first month, maybe even a few months. Eventually though, it would stop working and there would be no more “willpower” and the weight would come back.

The reality after dieting is that most people gain the weight back and an alarming 40% regain more weight than their initial starting weight. Going on a diet is likely going to increase your chances of gaining weight, not losing it.

Your weight is not calories in versus calories out. It is so much more complex than that.

Today I want to show the SCIENCE behind why diets don’t work. Let’s start first with the largest misconception with diets, that you stop dieting because you lack willpower.

Guess what? In terms of dieting, willpower doesn’t exist.

It is a man made, ego-driven, media-promoted idea that when you stop dieting it was because you are lazy and lack willpower or that you are not strong enough to keep eating your carrot sticks and bland chicken breasts. You do not lack willpower if the ice cream is calling your name at midnight after you have only eaten a diet shake for breakfast, salad for lunch and chicken breast for dinner.
Why doesn’t willpower exist? Because your body has a biological and psychological response to dieting. Studies show that after you diet your body changes in the following ways:

1. Your metabolism slows, taking longer to burn off calories.
Your body is wicked smart. It needs a certain amount of calories just to maintain your organ functions, breathing and bodily functions. Because your body is wicked smart, your metabolism will slow down and your body will learn to live off of fewer calories per day because it wants to STAY ALIVE. Your body doesn’t hate you, it loves you. It is doing what it must to keep all the organs and bodily functions working. Unfortunately, the first bodily functions that stop working properly with calorie restriction is your reproductive system and digestive system. Both are VITAL in a healthy body.

The Biggest Loser study is a new research study that shows how the body and metabolism changes after calorie restriction and dieting. The clients followed a very strict calorie restricted diet and exercise routine and even years after participating in the show, their metabolism was slower than what it should be.

2. Your hormones will change. You will likely still feel hunger after eating.
Studies have shown a hormonal backlash occurs in defense to calorie restriction. Your “hunger hormone” grelin is increased after following a diet. While leptin, the hormone associated with hunger suppression and increasing metabolism, was suppressed. Another 20 hormones associated with hunger levels were also altered after following a diet compared to pre-dieting levels (read more in this study).

3. Food becomes more tempting.
Food preoccupies your mind, becomes more tempting and you cannot stop thinking about it. Your dopamine response to food alters and eating becomes more rewarding. From a biological standpoint, this is how your body fights to stay alive. Your body has a natural response (through the mechanisms described above) to keep working. This is how thousands of years ago we survived states of starvation. In today’s world, we have chronic starvation because we are constantly restricting or calculating how many calories we are supposed to eat (rather than have our bodies tell us how much we need).

From a psychological response, diets don’t work because restriction and deprivation never work. How many times have you told yourself that you are not allowed to eat the cookie? And once you “gave in” you ate at least double the amount you had planned on eating? Restriction leads to deprivation which leads to overeating which leads to guilt and then the restriction begins again. You have to stop placing foods off limits and stop restricting in order to stop overeating.

Your genetics play a large role in your size and weight. You have a set point (of about 15-20 lb range) that your weight will stay, no matter your conscious feeling of what you feel you should weigh. Instead of fighting our set points, let’s celebrate them.

Let’s normalize all body types, sizes, shapes and forms. We are all uniquely different, which makes of us each so beautiful- don’t you think?


If you have a go-to lunch, feel free to share it in the comments!


VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

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skyr

On my recent visit to Iceland, I was able to survey many of the traditional Icelandic foods.

Icelandic lamb or fish stew was offered everywhere for lunch, but I preferred the vegetable option with unlimited homemade bread. The breads, pastries and coffee, all clearly labeled when vegan friendly, kept me full and energized. However, one of the most delicious traditional Icelandic offering was skyr.

Icelanders are wild about skyr—pronounced “skeer,” not “sky.”

They eat it for breakfast, grab one for a quick snack, or use it as the base of decadent desserts with local berries. The Vikings brought skyr to Iceland more than 1,100 years ago. This fermented dairy product was once popular throughout Scandinavia, but in Iceland, it has become one of the nation’s most treasured foods and cultural icons. The writers of the Icelandic sagas mentioned skyr in their myths, and an ancient jar with residue from a batch thought to be more than 1,000 years old is displayed in the country’s National Museum.

Initially, however, the skyr itself wasn’t the goal of the fermentation of the milk—it was the whey the Vikings were after. This acidic liquid was used to preserve meat, but the creamy, filling skyr soon became star of the process. Though first made with raw sheep’s milk, much of the skyr found on shelves today is made with cow’s milk. Since the original recipe involved separating the fat out of the milk for butter before making skyr, most producers today use skim or low-fat milk to make skyr naturally low in fat.

The fruit flavors are the most popular today, but some people still prefer plain. Traditional skyr is definitely more sour than the fruit-flavored ones, but it’s lower in sugar and an excellent source of protein. Like Greek yogurt skyr is thick, but it’s actually considered a fresh, acid-set cheese, like quark or fromage blanc. One of the differentiating factors between the two foods is bacteria. The label “yogurt” applies to products made with either Streptococcus thermophilus or Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus, whereas skyr is made with a wider variety than just these two bacteria. The other difference is the straining step. Yogurt is good to go after fermentation is complete, but to finish a batch of skyr requires straining it through a cloth or using a centrifuge to separate out the whey and concentrate the protein. This straining is what makes for such a thick result. The resulting skyr is virtually fat-free, low-calorie and high in protein.

Whether it’s called cheese or yogurt doesn’t change skyr’s place in the hearts of the Icelanders.

From cameos in the sagas to the present-day invasion of Whole Foods’ dairy cases, despite some of the exotic foods visitors associate with Iceland (putrefied shark, anyone? smoked puffin?), the most Icelandic cuisine of them all is a humble dish of skyr.


If you have a go-to lunch, feel free to share it in the comments!


VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

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elimination diet food intolerance

Adapted from Amy Shah, M.D. Greatist.com

Since everyone and their cat (literally) is on a special diet, you might wonder if you, too, have a food allergy or intolerance.

After all, you do sometimes feel a little bloated when you eat dairy, and gluten, and vegetables… It feels like everything is off limits!

Luckily there is a relatively easy way to figure out if you have a food intolerance. You can try out this plan before resorting to expensive blood tests or extreme cleanses.

But Should You Try This?

• Before beginning any restrictive diet, it’s important to have an idea if you have a food allergy or a food intolerance. If, immediately after eating certain foods (in even microscopic amounts), your throat tightens, you get hives, or you experience anaphylaxis (a type of total-body shock), consult a board certified allergist, as that may be a food allergy—and that’s not something to self-diagnose.

On the other hand, symptoms like constipation, headaches, heartburn, fatigue, bloating, or difficulty swallowing may be a food intolerance. Sometimes this will get worse one to three hours after consuming a food, but often the timing makes it unclear if it’s diet or something else causing your problems.

Food challenges—where you take out a food out and then add back in to see if it causes symptoms—are considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing intolerances. Blood and skin testing can often give false or confusing results, so after those, sometimes doctors recommend a food challenge to confirm the sensitivity.

elimination diet food intoleranceThe Easy Elimination Diet

The plan below is a little different from a full elimination diet, where you remove 8+ food groups at the same time. For most people it’s almost impossible and of course cumbersome to avoid so many foods at once. This modified version is a lot easier because you eliminate three or four food groups at a time for 21 days since it takes about two to three weeks to notice any difference in your symptoms.
After those first 21 days of avoiding certain foods, you should feel better. That’s when you reintroduce the foods one by one, allowing at least three days before you reintroduce the next one so you’re able to notice any changes in how your body reacts to the food. If you add back all the eliminated food groups and have no symptoms, move on to the next step of the plan, when you’ll take out new foods. Continue doing this until a certain food group causes symptoms—that’s likely your trigger. You can stop the diet then, or continue if you think more than one food is at fault.
You’ll start by cutting out the statistically most common offenders, then move to less common ones, which should mean you can figure out your culprit faster. During each phase, make sure to read food labels to see if packaged goods contain any ingredients you are avoiding. These foods are hidden in a lot more things than you think! When you eat out, ask the restaurant staff what’s in dishes. (For example, are the vegetables cooked in butter or is peanut oil used for that stir-fry?)
You won’t have to worry about being hungry since you’re only avoiding some foods, and you can always chow down on lot of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Vitamin deficiencies aren’t a concern either, since each phase is only 21 days.

Your Post-Plan Plan

Let’s say you found out gluten is a problem for you. Then you should avoiding eating it and anything using it as an ingredient so you don’t have to suffer from symptoms. Yes, this means asking about meals at restaurants and reading labels, but you don’t have to cut out foods “processed in a facility with gluten” since a trace won’t throw you into allergic shock. And you may even be able to enjoy some wheat on rare occasions without many issues—for those without celiac disease, once you give your immune system and gut a break from the food and it heals, small amounts will be tolerable for most. Hello, birthday cake!


Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver


VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

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anti-inflammatory food

Inflammation has a bad rap, but it’s not inherently evil.

It is a natural response to illness, a critical defense mechanism that helps to heal damaged cells and fight viruses and bacteria. But there are two types of inflammation.

Acute Inflammation might be a cut that turns red and becomes inflamed. This is your body’s natural response to help heal the cut. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a continuous inflammation with a slow onset, typically resulting from poor diet, physical inactivity, overactive immune responses, or invaders the body cannot get rid of. This is where someone may look to get treatment as we as start a better lifestyle. They may look into using products like hemp to help them. Click this link if you’re questioning “what is hemp?”

Whether you are already living with chronic inflammation or doing everything in your power to reduce your risk of disease, you can include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet to help ease inflammation!

1. Dark-Green, Leafy Vegetables

According to many experts, dark-green, leafy vegetables are considered the healthiest foods on the planet, as they offer the most nutrients per calorie. Greens are associated with the strongest protection against chronic diseases, including 20% reduction in risk for heart attacks and strokes for every daily serving. Plus, they are rich in antioxidants that restore cellular health, as well as anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

2. Turmeric

There has been a lot of information about turmeric and its health benefits. In recent years, more than 5,000 studies have been published on turmeric. Turmeric’s primary compound, curcumin, is its active anti-inflammatory component and is considered one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory components in the world. There is so much research regarding turmeric and its benefits, it can’t fully be explained here! To give you a little taste of how amazing turmeric is, research shows turmeric can beneficial in preventing or treating:

  • Lung Disease
  • Brain Disease

  • Variety of Cancers, including: multiple myeloma, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Lupus

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • …and more!

3. Flaxseed

The word “superfood” comes to mind every time we consume flaxseeds. Why? Because they are an excellent source of omega-3s (anti-inflammatory!) and phytonutrients (cancer fighters!). Specifically, flax contains the phytonutrient lignan, which is a chemical compound protecting blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Another thing we love about flaxseeds is they have been found to lower LDL (“bad) cholesterol and therefore reduce your risk of heart disease.

4. Oats

Oats contain a unique class of antioxidants called avenanthramides which is found to lower blood pressure and have anti-inflammatory properties. Avenanthramides have also been shown to relieve skin itching and irritation effects.

5. Berries

Dark-green, leafy vegetables may be the healthiest vegetable on the planet, but berries are are most certainly the healthiest fruits. This is because berries rank as some of the highest foods in terms of their antioxidant power, which is measured in units. For reference, apples contain about 60 units, whereas bananas contain 40 units of antioxidants. But the Aronia Berry contains much more! Also, per cup, strawberries contain 310 units, cranberries 330 units, raspberries 350 units, blueberries 380 units, and blackberries 650 units! The tremendous amount of antioxidants and phytochemicals in berries is what makes these fruits powerful against inflammation.


Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver


VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

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DNA sweet tooth

If since your early days, you’ve found yourself drawn to sweets, your DNA may be behind it.

(I personally, didn’t need a DNA test for this one, everyone in my family knows I’m a chocoholic!)

Ignoring these cravings and blaming your lack of self-control is likely not the answer.

So what is?

It could be that you have a FGF21 gene variant. A study published in Cell Metabolism shows that if you have a variant of this gene, you are 20% more likely to enjoy and seek out sugary substances.

You may not be a “super-taster.” Other research has shown that some people (25% of the population) are what are called “super-tasters,” and these people are extremely sensitive to bitter foods. Super-tasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes simply because they have more taste papillae and taste receptors on their tongues that make them more sensitive to bitter tastes. They’re also more sensitive to sweet, salty and umami tastes, but to a lesser extent. They tend to have a reduced preference for sweet and high fat foods. (Super-tasters also tend to consume more salt then non-tasters because salt masks bitter flavors.)

But don’t get down! Remember, it’s always possible to learn to like healthier, less sugary sweets, even if you have a deep-rooted sweet tooth – no matter what kind of taster you are! Super-tasters, non-tasters and everyone in between have one thing in common; their taste buds regenerate in about 10 days. So if you notice sugar cravings start to subside after a few weeks on a whole-foods diet, this could be why!

The great news is that none of us are doomed by our sweet- tooth genetics. By eating a diet rich in plant-based foods and opt for naturally sweet foods instead of those with added sugars, you’ll soon find your sweet cravings subside!


Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver


VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”https://vimfitness.com/nutrition/” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]

 

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marathon fuel

It’s finally April in Boston, which means the Boston Marathon is right around the corner!

If you’re one of the brave souls toeing the line on Monday, you don’t want nutrition to undo your hard months of training! Be smart in the days leading up to the race, and make sure you follow these simple ‘Marathon Fuel’ tips the day-of to ensure smooth running!

  1. Top Off the Tank.
    Midrun fueling will help maintain your energy levels over the course of 26.2 miles, but your pre-run meals are crucial. For the two to three meals before your race, choose high-carb, moderate-protein, and low-fat and fiber options.
  2. Don’t eat anything new.
    You know your body best, so in the days leading up to the marathon stick to foods you’ve eaten before and that you know your stomach can easily digest. For some runners that could mean avoiding high-fiber foods, high-fat foods, or dairy. Eating high-carb foods, such as pasta, rice, and potatoes, will ensure your glycogen stores are stocked for race day, but don’t consume a new food just because it’s high in carbohydrates.
  3. Stay hydrated during the race.
    A good general guideline is to drink 3 to 6 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. This averages out to grabbing a cup every other mile. Since the first water stop in a race is often very crowded, skip it and get a drink at the second stop.
  4. Take heat into consideration.
    The ideal marathon racing temperature is in the mid-50s, but if the temperature soars into the 70s or 80s on race day as it has in the past, you must drink more. Increase your fluid intake by sipping sports drinks, not just water. The carbs in sports drinks help restock spent energy stores. Most sports drinks will also replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat, helping you avoid hyponatremia (low blood-sodium level caused by excessive water intake).
  5. Develop a race-day nutrition and hydration plan.
    When you’re tired and miles from the finish, you can’t always make the best decisions about refueling. Develop a plan ahead of time so you know what and when you’ll eat and drink. Be sure that plan includes drinking and consuming calories within 45 minutes to an hour after the start. If you wait too long, you might become dehydrated or run out of steam early in the race.
  6. Know Your Mid-Race Fuel
    Trust me, you will need fuel. But make sure you stick with whatever gel, chew, or energy food you have been using in training runs. Whether you use gels or chews, make sure you chase them with a few sips of water. Try taking gels when you’re approaching a water stop. It may also be helpful to consume a gel slowly, over the course of a few minutes. Another way to fuel-up without GI distress, try splitting packs of six chews into two fueling stops. If you decide to have a sports drink at the water stop, try alternating water and sports drink at each fluid stop to avoid consuming too much sugar.
  7. Start your recovery early.
    Refueling after the marathon is essential to help your body recover quickly. Eat or drink about 200 or 300 calories of carbohydrates and some protein within an hour of finishing the marathon. The carbs refuel your muscles with glycogen, and the protein will help repair your muscles. Eat a full meal as soon as you are able to continue the recovery process. And remember to slowly drink fluids to rehydrate after you cross the finish line.

marathon fuel


Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver


VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

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