9 benefits coffee

Let’s be honest, coffee is an integral part of most of our lives. But is your caffeinated habit good for you?

Maybe not for your wallet, but it can, in fact, have a surprisingly great number of benefits. All the more reason to visit and support your local coffee shop. If they used high-quality machinery and roasted coffee beans from Iron and Fire then I would certainly find it hard to stay away! I’m sure you’ve all experienced the mood and energy boosting effects of coffee, but it also has many important antioxidants, too. However, too much of anything is never a good thing. Like every food or drink you consume, moderation is key.

For healthy adults, the recommended caffeine intake is no more than 300-400 mg of caffeine a day, about 2-3 cups of coffee. To get started, you’ll obviously need a coffee machine. I’ve found coffeebitz.com to have some great reviews on the different machines and equipment. Continue reading to discover 9 surprising benefits of coffee!
  1. Decreased Muscle Soreness
    Two cups of coffee can cut post-workout muscle pain by up to 48%.
  2. Protection against cirrhosis of the liver
    Of course, you could just cut down on the alcohol intake. But a recent study showed coffee has liver protecting benefits! Both coffee and decaf coffee lowered the liver enzyme levels of coffee drinkers, which helps keep your liver healthy.
  3. Lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes
    Those who consumed 6 or more cups per day had a 22% lower risk of diabetes.The risk of type II diabetes decreases by 9% for each daily cup of coffee consumed. Decaf coffee decreased risk by 6% per cup, which is good to know since 2-3 cups of caffeinated coffee is best to avoid overdoing it on the caffeine!
  4. Lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease
    There is considerable evidence that caffeine may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Protection against Parkinson’s
    People with Parkinson’s disease are less likely to be smokers and coffee drinkers than their healthy siblings. Drinking coffee can even reduce the risk of Parkinson’s when genetic factors come into play.
  6. Coffee drinkers have less risk of heart disease.
    Korean researchers found that study participants who consumed 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day were less likely to show the beginning signs of heart disease. Other dietary factors should also be noted as Koreans typically have a different diet than do Westerners.
  7. Coffee drinkers have stronger DNA.
    A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that coffee drinkers have DNA with stronger integrity since the white blood cells of coffee drinkers had far fewer instances of spontaneous DNA strand breakage.
  8. Lower Risk of Multiple Sclerosis.
    Recent research showed that at least 4 cups of coffee a day may help protect against the development and re-occurrence of MS. It is believed that the coffee prevents the neural inflammation that possibly leads to the disease developing.
  9. Coffee reduces colorectal cancer risk.
    Even moderate consumption of coffee can reduce the odds of developing colorectal cancer by 26%. This protective benefit increases with more consumption.
Keep in mind, this is coffee we’re talking about, not frappuccinos or other fat and sugar-laden coffee drinks. If you’re looking to add extra flavor or sweetness to your morning brew, try a little stevia, honey, or maple syrup instead of refined or artificial sweeteners. You can also try cocoa powder, cinnamon, or vanilla extract to switch up the flavor! If you like cream, try coconut or almond milk, or even just real cream instead of the artificial creamers! Real food is always better than the fake stuff – not just for flavor, but for your health, too.

Want to try a fun new coffee recipe? Check this one out!

Low Carb Java Jolt – Makes 2 servings

  • 1/2 cup 2% plain Greek or non-dairy yogurt (choose soy for non-dairy protein!)
  • 1 scoop low-carb chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond, coconut or soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons natural plant-based sweetener like Swerve or Truvia
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Cool Brew
  • 6-10 ice cubes
Add all ingredients to blender and blend for 30-60 seconds, until smooth. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 115 calories, 4 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 50 mg sodium, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 14 grams protein.
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

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Whether you are a student or in the working world, most of us don’t have the luxury of preparing and eating lunch at home.

Beyond sandwiches, it can be a bit of a challenge to come up with tasty lunches that are both easy to prepare and travel well. I love making fresh salads, and my favorite way to transport them is with mason jars! They keep all of the ingredients separate until ready to eat without having to carry 5 separate containers.

mason jar saladThe Mason Jar Salad!

There are many great recipes out there and the first one I tried was a Mango, Avocado, and Black Bean Salad. I couldn’t find a ripe mango at the grocery store so I chopped up fresh pineapple instead. The best part is that I was able to pack a few jars on Sunday night, which made getting out of the house on time much simpler.


The trick is to layer the salad so that all the ingredients stay crisp and fresh.

mason jar salad dressingThe basic order of ingredients is:

  1. Dressing – This recipe called for vinaigrette made with lime juice, olive oil, honey and chopped cilantro.
  2. The next step is to create a buffer between the dressing and the salad greens. You can add harder, sturdier vegetables or fruit such as carrots, cucumbers, peppers, or onions. I added some chopped red onion and pineapple so they could mellow in the dressing as it sat for a couple of days.
  3. The next step is to add beans, grains or pasta. I added a layer of black beans, and then a layer of quinoa.
  4. The next layer should be softer vegetables and fruits. I added some chopped avocado that I had coated with lime juice and salt to keep from browning.
  5. Finally, I added some fresh spinach and screwed the lid on tightly. When I was ready to eat my lunch on Monday afternoon, all I had to do was unscrew the lid and shake the salad into a bowl, or just shake up the jar and eat it straight from there! I am pleased to report that it tasted absolutely delicious! I am excited to try some new recipes and maybe add some nuts, seeds or (vegan) cheese to my next batch.


quinoaMango Avocado Black Bean Salad
Adapted from Greenplaterule.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe but firm avocados, halved, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 ripe but firm mangoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped, or 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa

mason jar saladInstructions:

  1. Add the avocado, 1 tbsp. lime juice, mango, and jalapeno to a large bowl and gently toss.
  2. Whisk together 2 tbsp. lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, salt, honey together in a small bowl.
  3. Once those ingredients are mixed well, add olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk. Pour dressing over avocado mixture, add black beans and gently toss. Serve over a bed of spinach with quinoa.

There you have it! Your ultimate lunch on the go.

bench press

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Under VIM’s TRAINER SPOTLIGHT for October: AMY!

[slideshow gallery=”3290,3231,3230″ width=”402″ align=”left”]Read on to get to know her:

Amy received her certification from the American Academy of Personal Training (AAPT). She also graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a BA in English and a minor in dance.

Coming from a professional dance background and after a series of painful injuries (tear in ACL and hip, fractured sesamoid), her training methods focus on proper alignment and body awareness combined with high intensity workouts. More importantly, she emphasizes injury prevention and facilitated stretching. Amy believes that training, or “getting into shape,” should not only include nutrition and exercising, but also developing a positive mindset and outlook on life.

When she’s not teaching or sweating it out in the gym, Amy spends the rest of her time in the studio. She is blessed to be dancing with several Boston and Cambridge-based companies.

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autumn quinoa salad

Autumn Quinoa Salad
Recipe adapted from Blue Zones

It’s finally starting to feel like fall again! Which means I’m getting ready to start cooking warm, fall foods. For me that means cinnamon, root vegetables, squashes and cranberries. It does NOT have to mean you throw away your summer diet! It’s still just as easy to find healthy fall foods as is is to enjoy the fresh fruits and veggies of summer.

What’s in season in Massachusetts at this time of year? Here’s a quick list:

[col size=’4/16′ pos=’first’]
Apples
Beets
Broccoli
Broccoli raab
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celeriac/celery root
Celery
Chard
[/col]

[col size=’4/16′ pos=’second’]
Chicories
Cranberries
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Escarole
Fennel
Garlic
Grapes
Kale
[/col]

[col size=’4/16′ pos=’third’]
Chicories
Kohlrabi
Leeks
Lettuce
Melons
Onions
Oregano
Parsley
Parsnips
[/col]

[col size=’4/16′ pos=’last’]
Pears
Peas and pea pods
Peppers (sweet)
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Radicchio
Rutabagas
Shelling beans
Squash (winter)
Turnips
[/col]


I have no idea how to use escarole, so if you have any ideas, let me know! I’m going to focus today’s blog on an autumn recipe that involves the nutrient-dense, ancient grain: quinoa. Why is quinoa so great? It’s a high protein whole grain, which can actually make you live longer. By eating 90 grams of whole grains a day, you can reduce your risk of mortality by 17%! Crazy!

autumn quinoa saladHere’s what you need to make this delicious autumn quinoa salad:

  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 (15.5-oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

So how do you do it?

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the quinoa and salt to taste. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 12 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the green onions, carrot and peas, and set aside to come to room temperature.
  3. Add the beans, peanuts, cranberries, oil, vinegar and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
    *Variation: Substitute cooked brown rice for the quinoa, or a different type of nut in place of the peanuts.

That’s it! It’s great hot or cold, so feel free to use the extras as leftovers the next day.

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Want more variation in your workout? Exercises performed with kettlebells are a great way to shock your muscles into growth while improving power and explosiveness from the ground up!

Check out VIM’s Kettlebell Video Series – Each week we’ll post a video demonstrating a new kettlebell move. Next move, KB Dead Snatch!

Read more