4 Inspiring Ways to Get Your Family to Be More Charitable in 2018

by Amanda Henderson

4 Inspiring Ways To Get Your Family To Be More Charitable in 2018

Between soccer games and Sunday suppers, your family has plenty of opportunities for quality bonding time — but if you’re not already incorporating charitable acts into the agenda, there’s never been a better time to get started than right now. In fact, statisticssuggest that America currently doesn’t have enough volunteers to support the demand for help. Teaching your kids how to give back is perhaps one of life’s most important lessons, so make it a point to make volunteering a regular part of your family’s routine. 


1. Contribute To A Community Garden

A cooperative gardenis an opportunity that can involve the entire community, not just your family. If such a green space doesn’t already exist in your area, assess local interest and spearhead the project yourself. Benefits include: encouraging healthy eating by growing fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs; bringing people from all backgrounds, races, ages, and abilities together for a good cause; strengthening the bond within the community; and helping kids to be more enthusiastic about eating healthy by getting them excited about the growing process. Take it a step further by donating produce to area shelters that are less likely to have access to fresh goods. 

2. Protect The Environment

While 74 percent of Americanssay that the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, only one in five individuals are actually doing something to make a difference. Environmental issuessuch as climate change, air and water pollution, deforestation, species extinction and biodiversity loss, and soil degradation are serious threats to our society, so find an organizationin your area that needs help with tasks such as beach cleanup, habitat transformation for wildlife, tree planting, and much more. 

3. Take A Family Volunteer Vacation

Show your kids what life is like beyond the pearly gates of a luxe resort by taking a volunteer vacation. There are numerous organizations in the States and overseas that offer low-cost trips in exchange for volunteering. Some examples include: caring for animals at the country’s largest no-kill sanctuary, helping out at a shelter in Mexico, bringing happiness into the life of a sick child at a “resort” for ill kids, and helping to rebuild homes in areas where there was a natural disaster. Some of these programs are affiliated with large hotel/resorts and some are independent, so there are options for everyone. 

4. Contribute Financially

While you may not have time every single month to invest the time to volunteer, it only takes a few seconds to drop some money into a piggy bank. Teach your kids how to budget their allowance, to include putting aside a percentage for charity. In order to make this truly effective, you should do the same with your paycheck. Create a family donation kitty where everyone can share their contribution. Then, at the end of the year (or a shorter period of time if you prefer), decide as a family which organization you’d like to donate your money to. If you have a hard time deciding, split the funds between two (or more) places. The important thing is that everyone feels as though they are donating to a cause they believe in. 

The world is moving at a faster pace than ever before, so it’s important that your family turns off their electronics in order to turn their attention to other people, places, and things in need. Volunteering is a humbling experience that is likely to leave a lasting impact while providing valuable perspective. Just make sure you ask your kids what organizations mean something to them so the process feels natural, not forced. 



11 Health Benefits of Sleep

11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep

July 21, 2013

 by Alyssa Sparacino 

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.

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Go ahead, snooze!

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles.

Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.

"Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning," says David Rapoport, MD, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program.

Not anymore. Here are some health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep.


2. Improve memory

Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or "practice" skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).

"If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice," says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. "But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better."

In other words if you’re trying to learn something new—whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing—you’ll perform better after sleeping.

3. Live longer?

Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan—although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns too.)

In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.

Sleep also affects quality of life.

"Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep," says Raymonde Jean, MD, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. "If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear."

4. Curb inflammation

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep—six or fewer hours a night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.

A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.

People who have sleep apnea or insomnia can have an improvement in blood pressure and inflammation with treatment of the sleep disorders, Dr. Rapoport says.

5. Spur creativity

Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the easel and paintbrushes or the pen and paper.

In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well.

Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.

6. Be a winner

If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep.

A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.

The results of this study reflect previous findings seen in tennis players and swimmers.

7. Improve your grades

Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep. This could lead to "significant functional impairment at school," the study authors wrote.

In another study, college students who didn’t get enough sleep had worse grades than those who did.

"If you’re trying to meet a deadline, you’re willing to sacrifice sleep," Dr. Rapoport says, "but it’s severe and reoccurring sleep deprivation that clearly impairs learning."

8. Sharpen attention

A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids, Dr. Rapoport says.

"Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do," he adds. "Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive."

A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages seven and eight who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.

"We diagnose and measure sleep by measuring electrical changes in the brain," Dr. Rapoport says. "So not surprisingly how we sleep affects the brain."

9. Have a healthy weight

If you are thinking about going on a diet, you might want to plan an earlier bedtime too.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat—56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)

Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep.

"Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain," Dr. Rapoport says. "When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite."

10. Lower stress

When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same—and both can affect cardiovascular health.

"Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure," Dr. Jean says. "It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease."

11. Avoid accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2009 that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance—even more than alcohol!

"Sleepiness is grossly underrated as a problem by most people, but the cost to society is enormous," Dr. Rapoport says. "Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making."

Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.

12. Steer clear of depression

Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability.

"A lack of sleep can contribute to depression," Dr. Jean says. "A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety. You get more emotional stability with good sleep."

If you think the long hours put in during the week are the cause of your anxiety or impatience, Dr. Rapoport warns that sleep cannot necessarily be made up during the weekend.

"If you sleep more on the weekends, you simply aren’t sleeping enough in the week," he says. "It’s all about finding a balance.


Is Halo Top Ice Cream actually healthy?


by Brandon Hall  - www.stack.com

I can confirm that Halo Top ice cream does indeed taste amazing.

After hearing hype for months about this low-calorie, high-protein "healthy" ice cream, I finally caved and bought a pint of their Black Cherry. I devoured it in minutes and was amazed at how much it tasted like traditional ice cream. If I went to a scoop shoppe and someone served me a bowl of Halo Top, I wouldn't think twice. I would think it was some pretty great ice cream.

But there's a common saying in the nutrition world—if it's too good to be true, it probably is. Just because a product's low in calories doesn't necessarily mean it's healthy. Heck, zero-calorie diet soda has its own set of issues. So, is Halo Top ice cream actually healthy? Here's your answer.

Getting The Facts Straight

Before we dive into the ingredients in Halo Top, let's discuss its nutrition facts.

In short, they're spectacular—at least compared to the nutrition facts for traditional ice cream. Halo Top is currently available in 17 flavors. Each flavor falls in the range of 240-360 calories per pint. Let's focus on the chocolate variety, since it's fairly simple.

One pint of chocolate Halo Top ice cream contains:

280 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 160 mg of cholesterol, 440 mg of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, 20 grams of protein, 40% DV calcium, 16% DV iron.

Now, let's compare that to one the most popular traditional ice cream brands in the world—Häagen-Dazs. The nutrition facts for one pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs ice cream:

1,040 calories, 68 grams of fat, 40 grams of saturated fat, 360 mg of cholesterol, 180 mg of sodium, 88 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, 76 grams of sugar, 20 grams of protein, 32% DV calcium, 32% DV iron.

There's really no contest—Halo Top blows traditional ice cream out of the water in almost every important nutritional category (especially for those concerned with weight management). The calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar totals for Halo Top are a fraction of what's inside traditional ice cream. Halo Top does this while being just as high in fiber and protein as the traditional brands (if not more so). It's still ice cream, so it can't replace veggies, fruit, whole grains, etc. in your diet. But you'll be hard-pressed to find a delicious dessert with more impressive nutrition facts than Halo Top.

The next question is how the heck do they do it?

Ingenious Ingredients

One reason Halo Top is able to keep their calorie count and sugar totals so low is because, unlike traditional ice cream manufacturers, they actually use a trio of sweeteners in their product.

The most prominent is erythritol, an all-natural sugar alcohol that looks and tastes like sugar yet contains just 0.24 calories per gram. The second most prominent is organic cane sugar—which is basically a fancy way of saying plain ol' sugar. Sugar contains 4 calories per gram. A pint of Halo Top contains 20 grams of sugar, so 80 of those calories can be directly attributed to its sugar content. The third sweetener is stevia, a plant native to Paraguay that's long been used as a low-calorie natural sweetener. It contains no calories and is roughly 250 to 300 times the sweetness of sugar.

Let's crunch the cumulative calorie numbers for these sweeteners:

  • Stevia contains no calories.
  • The 20 grams of organic cane sugar contribute 80 calories.
  • The 20 grams of erythritol (it's listed under "sugar alcohols" on the nutrition facts panel) contribute about 5 calories.

So Halo Top is able to sweeten their ice cream on a level that tastes similar to traditional ice cream but do so while adding just 85 calories per pint. This is a far cry from the calorie totals traditional ice cream makers rack up with their sweeteners.

Let's go back to that pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs. Häagen-Dazs uses just five ingredients in their chocolate recipe (compared to the 12-13 ingredients used in Halo Top), and only one of them is a sweetener. That sweetener is sugar. A pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs contains 76 grams of sugar. Since a gram of sugar contains 4 calories, that's a total of 304 calories per pint. Obviously, 304 calories is a lot more than 85.

But the sweeteners alone cannot fully explain why Halo Top's calorie count is so dramatically lower. That's because there's another major factor at play—weight. Halo Top's ice cream is significantly lighter than Häagen-Dazs, even though you may not necessarily notice that fact when you eat it.

A pint of chocolate Halo Top contains a total of 256 grams of ice cream. A pint of Häagen-Dazs? 408 grams. By weight, that's about 37 percent less ice cream. If you removed all the extra grams of ice cream you get in a pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs versus a pint of chocolate Halo Top, that would bring the calorie count of the Häagen-Dazs down to about 655 calories. If Häagen-Dazs used the same blend of sweeteners as Halo Top instead of just plain sugar, it would bring the calorie count down further to 436 calories per pint. Suddenly, the 280 calories in that pint of Halo Top doesn't seem so unbelievable. It's not that Häagen-Dazs ice cream is super heavy, either—for example, a pint of Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream (the company doesn't make plain chocolate) contains 428 grams of ice cream.

The remaining caloric difference can likely be attributed to additional differences in ingredients. Here's the full list of ingredients for a pint of chocolate Halo Top:

Milk and cream, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, high fat cocoa, vegetable glycerin, sea salt, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia.

Here's the full list of ingredients for a pint of chocolate Häagen-Daazs:

Cream, skim milk, sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, egg yolks.

There's certainly enough variation between those ingredients to find the extra 150 calories or so that Halo Top managed to shave off. Perhaps they use less milk, cream or eggs in their recipe, which might explain why they turned to other ingredients to achieve the desired texture. Glycerine is a common thickening agent in low-fat foods, and the same goes for guar gum and carob gum. The inclusion of milk protein concentrate could also have been done to make up for the missing protein that comes with having less cream, milk or eggs.

The Verdict

So, is Halo Top actually healthy?

In terms of ice cream, yes. I wouldn't go as far to say that it's healthy in general, but downing a pint of Halo Top is a smarter choice than downing a pint of traditional ice cream. However, you have to understand that you're likely getting less ice cream (in terms of weight) in that pint of Halo Top than you are in a pint of traditional ice cream.

Halo Top uses several low-calorie sweeteners and a fine-tuned recipe to mimic the taste and feel of traditional ice cream while keeping key nutrition facts (calories, saturated fat, sugar, etc.) much lower. Justin Woolverton, Halo Top's founder, revealed in an interview with LAist.com that the process of creating the company's recipes took considerable trial and error.

"There was a ton of experimentation at that point in scaling up the recipe—which ingredients worked and didn't work, how to replace the sugar in the ice cream (which not only sweetens, but provides body and texture), et cetera. Honestly that period alone took months," Woolverton said. "It certainly was (always) intended to be a health food in the sense that I made it in order to have an ice cream that didn't have a ton of sugar and some protein for satiety." Halo Top also uses many high-quality organic ingredients in their recipes, which might help explain why their ice cream tastes so much better than other low-cal offerings. It's also great that you can eat an entire pint of Halo Top without feeling super guilty, since ice cream is one of those foods with wildly unrealistic serving sizes.

The sweeteners and thickeners used in Halo Top to mimic the taste and texture of traditional ice cream are all fairly safe. The biggest concern seems to be indigestion issues, but if your stomach can handle them okay, there's not much reason to worry. If you prefer Halo Top to traditional ice cream, there's no reason why you shouldn't keep eating it. Just make sure to approach it like a dessert or an occasional treat—not a staple of your diet.



5 Reasons Why Women Should Train Jiu Jitsu (That are self defense)

by: Averi Clements

The number-one reason women are usually given for why they should train jiu jitsu is “because it teaches you how to protect yourself.”

There’s a good reason for it: jiu jitsu is designed for weaker, smaller opponents to dominate larger ones using technique rather than strength. Being as a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds and has a 1 in 5 chance of being raped in her lifetime, it would make sense that jiu jitsu would be a recommended form of self defense for a group of people that is (usually) smaller and weaker than the people most likely to assault them.

As someone who started jiu jitsu after nearly being sexually assaulted by a taxi driver about four years ago (and has since used it to get myself out of another sketchy situation), I’m a huge, huge proponent of anyone learning BJJ to protect themselves. 

That said, jiu jitsu has so much more to offer than just self defense. You’ll get in shape, develop lifelong friendships, and have a lot of fun – and that’s only the beginning! 

If you know a woman or are a woman who’s been thinking about stepping onto the mats, there are plenty of reasons to do it that don’t involve choking out would-be rapists.

  1. It teaches you to love your body for what it can do rather than for what it looks like.

Both genders deal with the frustration of not having the “perfect” body, but the numbers are clear that women are much more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than men are in their lifetime. 

Blame it on the media, society, whatever you’d like, but it’s clear that many women live their lives focusing on how small their waist is or how big their bust is or how their body doesn’t look like that body. 

Jiu jitsu erases a lot of those insecurities by showing you all the awesome things your body can do. Do you have any idea how cool it is to choke someone out with the help of the thunder thighs you once hated? Do you know what it feels like to find out that you have ridiculously flexible shoulders that make you virtually un-kimura-able? 

Jiu jitsu will show you, and it’s a lot more satisfying than any number that could show up on the scale. As an added bonus, all that exercise will get you closer to the hot bod you’ve always wanted, but by the time you make it there, you’ll be way more invested in your abilities than your appearance.

2. You don’t need to be big and strong to be good at it.

Yes, there are lots of women who are stronger, heavier, or taller than lots of men, but the vast majority of us are not. It can be really intimidating to walk into a martial arts gym and see really fit dudes beating the crap out of each other, but jiu-jitsu allows anyone to beat the crap out of anyone else. Isn’t that beautiful?

A lot of my non-BJJ friends think I’m lying when I tell them that I, a girl who is 5’2” on a tall day, can submit people who are literally twice my weight, but jiu-jitsu is all about technique overcoming brute strength. You don’t need to be a former championship wrestler or a beefed-up weightlifter to dominate your opponent. While that’s certainly good from a self-defense viewpoint, it’s also great for those of us who have lived our lives thinking that only large, muscly dudes can be successful in contact sports.

3. The sisterhood is like no other.

The people you train with in jiu jitsu are bound to become your non-biological family. It’s hard not to become close with someone when you’re sweating all over each other and place your safety in each other’s hands. 

College sororities ain’t got nothin’ on the sisterly bonds that form on the mat.  

Because there are so few women in jiu-jitsu, the closeness that forms between jiujiteiras is even stronger than most friendships that are created in the gym. It’s rare to find women who are into what is unarguably a very masculine sport, and there’s something about the struggles of being female in a sea of testosterone that tends to bring women together. 

It’s not just the ladies in your own gym that will grow to be your sisters, either. You’ll form an instant connection with female BJJ practitioners from other gyms and even the ones you compete against in tournaments. 

Women in jiu-jitsu don’t tear each other down, they lift each other up – sometimes literally, if they can get the leverage just right.

4. It smashes ideas about what a woman “should” or “shouldn’t” do.

I’m not the type who burns bras (those things are expensive), but my blood pressure does go up a little every time I hear someone restrict an activity or behavior to a specific gender.

It blows my freaking mind that in the year 2016, women all across the globe are still being told either by the law or by society that regardless of their physical capabilities, they can’t or shouldn’t do certain activities that are traditionally “masculine.”

Jiu-jitsu is a giant middle finger to every time someone has scolded you for being unladylike or tried to put you in your “place” as a woman.

On the mats, everyone is equal; there is no gender. You will get your butt handed to you just as much as the men do, and you’ll also dish out a fair bit of butt-handing yourself.

As an added bonus, most of the men I’ve been lucky enough to meet in jiu-jitsu are also all about gender equality. Some of the newer guys might be weird about rolling with women, but those who have been around for a while will generally be good about treating you just as they would treat a man your size.

Whether or not you actively label yourself a feminist, gender equality should be something that we work towards all over the world. And luckily, jiu-jitsu is something that is practiced all over the world.

5. It makes you a positive role model for younger girls.

Throughout her childhood, a little girl will encounter all kinds of women that she will potentially look up to. When you’re a woman who does jiu-jitsu, you’re providing her with a role model who practices healthy habits, is disciplined, and can handle herself. 

Jiu jitsu comes with plenty of benefits, and when you have a daughter, a niece, or any other young lady who wants to be you when she grows up, you pass on a lot of those benefits to her just by showing her what you do. You can give that little girl a head start on loving herself and making friends who genuinely care about her well-being. 

Who knows? You might even convince her to get an early start on training!

While all of these are also great reasons for men to train BJJ as well, I know first-hand how intimidating it can be as a girl to take your first jiu-jitsu class surrounded by a bunch of tough dudes.

If you’re a woman facing the same situation, don’t back out due to fear. Jiu-jitsu has made me a better human being since I started, but more specifically, it’s made me more capable of facing the challenges that women are subjected to on a daily basis.

Whether you’re motivated by self defense or something completely different, it’s never a bad idea to put on that gi and take your first steps on an unforgettable journey.



The 9 Worst Things About Processed Foods

by TC Luoma

What Exactly is a Processed Food?

Nutrition writer Michael Pollan has famously written, "Don't eat anything your great-great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." That's a pretty good way to think about processed foods.

Clearly, your great-great-great mee-maw would take one whiff of the contents of a can of Cheeze Whiz, muster up a huge phleghm ball, and hawk it at the mangy redbone hound that keeps snuffling through her pile of potato peelings.

Neither would she likely have much regard for most breakfast cereals, anything made by Hostess, the meat and organ slurry that constitutes chicken "nuggets," or little of anything that came from outside the produce and meat aisle of the average grocery store.

Benignly Processed vs. Malignantly Processed

Still, we need to pin down exactly what a processed food is because there are, health-wise, benignly processed foods and malignantly processed foods. For example, roasted nuts are processed, but the degree of processing is so slight as to be insignificant or non-existent.

On the other end of the spectrum are things like the aforementioned Cheeze Whiz, Hostess products, or the perverse avocado-free guacamole that's made of modified food starch, corn syrup, and green food coloring. Ice cream, too, is processed, but the best of the bunch are minimally so, containing only cream, eggs, and sugar, as opposed to the chemical United Nations of crap that are most ice creams.

For the sake of clarity and accuracy, let's focus on those foods that are malignantly processed.

The 9 Worst Things About Processed Foods

In a recent editorial published in JAMA Pediatrics, pediatrician Robert Lustig argues that processed foods have hurt Americans in several ways, from increasing their intake of refined carbs to causing the rate of diabetes 2 to skyrocket.

I'll go even further. Processed foods are to blame for most every nutritional problem humans have, along with a good percentage of any medical problems they might have. Lustig went on to outline a number of ways processed foods differ from unprocessed foods, all of which are undesirable. Here are some of the things he pointed out, including a few things he missed.

1 – Not enough fiber.

When food manufacturers process a food, they often rip out most or all of the fiber because it's indigestible (which is the whole point of fiber) and can affect taste or consistency and hinder them from shaping the food into cute little shapes that blur the line between food and a child plaything, which must be particularly egregious to people who come from places where starvation is routine.

The trouble is that you need fiber. It feeds beneficial bacteria and it slows the absorption of food so that insulin levels are modulated. It also gives form to your feces so they can torpedo through your bowels quickly and efficiently.

You need between 20 and 30 grams of fiber a day, but most of us don't eat half that much, thanks to processed foods. To get your dosage, you need to eat the ultimate unprocessed foods: whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Barring that, load up with Metamucil.

2 – Vanishing caloric density.

If a food seems to melt in your mouth, it's deemed to have "vanishing caloric density." Foods with this characteristic fool the brain into thinking that it hasn't ingested any calories, so the biochemical impulse is to keep snacking away.

It gets worse, though. Foods with this characteristic are digested rapidly – faster than sugar – thus eliciting an insulin tsunami. Performed often enough, this insulin tsunami ultimately carries away your waistline, your metabolism, potential girlfriends, and your health. Ditch the processed foods and consider taking cyanidin 3-glucoside to repair your crippled insulin sensitivity.

3 – Too few omega-3 fatty acids.

Food manufacturers rip out omega-3 fatty acids from their foods with malice because omega-3's go rancid much faster than other fatty acids. Unfortunately, we need omega-3 fatty acids to curb inflammation.

Have you ever experienced tendonitis? That's simply chronic inflammation. How about muscle soreness? Same thing. A certain degree of inflammation is essential for healing, but chronic inflammation, often caused or exacerbated by malignantly processed foods, is at the root of most of human maladies. And much of that can probably be linked to ingesting too few omega-3s.

To remedy this, step one is to stop eating processed foods. Step two is to eat more cold water, fatty fish (non-farm raised), or take a smartly designed omega-3 supplement like Flameout®.

4 – Too many omega-6 fatty acids.

It's bad enough that processed foods contain too few (if any) omega-3 fatty acids, but replacing them with cheaper omega-6 fatty acids (which also gives them longer shelf life) is really flicking the poor-nutrition scab.

Humans originally consumed a natural diet of a 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Unfortunately, largely because of extreme food processing, the modern ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is a disaster. The half-time score is now 20 or 30 to 1, and omega-3's quarterback has dislocated all four limbs and suffered a displaced head.

To have any chance of evening up that ratio, you need to do a nutritional hail Mary and throw most processed foods into the wide-open garbage pail.


5 – Too many trans fats.

Food manufacturers often need fat to be more solid, so they created a process whereby extra hydrogen is added to liquid omega-6 oils. These are identified as "partially hydrogenated oils" on the labels of processed foods. They're also known as trans fats and, because of their molecular configuration, the body can't break them down.

The trouble is, most of these fats are generally inflammatory. They also have the nasty habit of gumming up your arteries so that every time your heart beats, it sounds like a sweaty fat guy peeling off a rubber wetsuit.

You may have heard these fats were banned. It's true, they were banned, but manufacturers have until June 2018 to comply. That leaves us with plenty of artery-clogging, liver-inflaming months to go.

6 – Too few micronutrients.

We all know that processed foods contain precious few vitamins and minerals, save those that were perversely added back in after they were initially ripped out during processing. The trouble is, it's unlikely that vitamins work in a vacuum. More likely they require all the other hundreds or even thousands of other nutrients and micronutrients found in whole foods as teammates or co-factors.

Adding in, say, just some vitamin C or E is just nutritional cherry picking. It's like giving someone just an engine when they need a car. The engine is crucial, but you also need a chassis, a drive train, a transmission, wheels, and a place to sit your bum. Same thing with individual vitamins; you probably need all the nutritional micronutrients or phytonutrients that are present in whole food.

In another example of food processing gone awry, consider fat-free milk. When they take the fat out of the milk, they remove all the fat-soluble vitamins like A and D, which are then added back in. The trouble is, since the milk is now fat-free, the gut won't absorb the fat-soluble vitamins. It's like giving a castrated man birth control.

7 – Too many emulsifiers.

Manufacturers often add compounds to their product in order to extend shelf life and keep foods from separating into a gloppy mess. Great, but these compounds, known collectively as emulsifiers, appear to be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and inflammation in general.

What they do is muck up the gut's protective layer, in addition to disrupting the bacteria normally present in the gut. Something about the emulsifiers reacts negatively with the microbiota and how they interact with the digestive system. Sending in some counterrevolutionary troops in the form of probiotics like sauerkraut would help fortify the bacterial Maginot Line, but you won't win the battle until you ditch the processed foods.

8 – Too much salt?

Yeah, processed foods contain a lot of salt to preserve and tasty-up their abominable foods. While the average American needs about 500 mg. a day, processed foods are largely responsible for escalating the American average to 3400 mg. a day. The net effect is that we're more salted and pickled herring than we are human.

While the old school medical community blames salt for contributing to high blood pressure and heart disease, more progressive medical types are starting to think the association might be tenuous if not downright bogus. Still, no one needs 3400 mg. of salt a day, so we'd be wise to chop away at that salty number.

Less discussed, though, is the fact that the salt used by food manufacturers is non-iodized. That's a problem because the main sources of iodine are seafood and iodized salt. If you don't get much seafood and you don't use iodized salt, you're vulnerable to iodine deficiency, which results in goiters, thyroid nodules, a malfunctioning metabolism, and poor health in general.

If you depend on a lot of processed foods, you should consider taking an iodine supplement or start using iodized salt on whole, unprocessed foods that require seasoning.

9 – Too many artificial ingredients.

There are an estimated 6000 different chemicals commonly used in the processed food industry. They're used to give food color, to stabilize its structure, to give it texture, to bleach it, to soften it, to preserve it, to sweeten it, and even to hide unpleasant odors. Oh yeah, they're used to add flavor.

While the average ingredient label of some of the most highly processed foods will scare the bejesus out of most of us, chances are that the food in question contains more artificial ingredients than indicated on the label. Because of the way labeling regulations are written, a term like "artificial flavor" is deemed a proprietary blend and could encompass ten additional unrevealed chemicals.

All of these ingredients are allegedly tested for safety, but who the hell knows what the long-term effects are? Who the hell knows whether these chemicals, when combined, exert drug-like effects, and not fun kaleidoscope, Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds effects, but grow-a-huge-honkin' tumor effects?

It doesn't take a great leap of faith to figure that all these chemicals must, ultimately, damage the body in some way, and that it'd be best to avoid them when possible.

Minimally Processed Vs. Highly Processed

The pitfalls of processed foods are obviously many, but again, keep things in perspective. Your cup of coffee qualified as processed because the beans were ground up. Your protein drink wouldn't be possible without some processing, although, hopefully, the manufacturer did its best to keep it free of most horseshit additives.

The point is to think twice about the wisdom of a convenience-based lifestyle that revolves around heavily processed foods. It's probably unrealistic to avoid them all, but at least leaning in the direction of home-prepared whole foods could be a game changer for your health and your appearance.



4 Ways to Stop Feeling Jealous of Other Women

Article by Erin Brown, Girls Gone Strong

Remember high school? The social politics were ridiculous. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait to be an adult!

I knew that I would grow up, and all of that “popular kids” vs “nobodies” stuff would go away. Somehow, though, “grown-up life” ended up feeling like more of the same. Except now the comparisons were of new homes, jobs and designer diaper bags!

The thing is, that as long as you are looking for it, you will always find someone who has something that seems better than what you have.

There is always a woman who just seems to have you beat in some way. She seems more successful. She seems to have her life together, is smarter, more charming. More whatever.

It’s totally human to find jealousy rearing its head. Here are four way you can turn it into a productive emotion, instead of one that leaves you in the dumps.

1. Give yourself a break.

First off, jealousy is a normal emotion. It can even be helpful, illuminating our own desires and insecurities. There’s no reason to beat yourself up because you find yourself turning a little green. You are not your feelings, and you get to choose how you react to them.

Sometimes it’s more subtle. A backhanded compliment like, “I’d love to have legs like hers, but I’m not eating rabbit food and running all day long. I have a life.” Regardless of your intention, voicing these kinds of judgements about others serves no one, least of all you. Instead, take a pause and move to #3.

2. Stop yourself from going negative.

So often when we feel jealous, we are putting someone else on a pedestal. The most common reaction then, is to knock them down. We’ve all experienced these conversations, right? One woman makes a comment about another’s amazing body (or significant other, or life choices, etc.), and the others join in, ripping her apart.

3. Become curious about it.

All we see in the world are reflections of our own perception. Jealousy is a powerful indicator of where we’d like to go. Where are your feelings coming from? If you find yourself envious of someone else’s job, for example, are you dissatisfied with your own? Do you secretly want to change professions? Is it really her schedule and freedom that’s appealing to you?

Instead of directing that energy outwardly, shine that light back unto yourself. Explore where your feeling is coming from. Not only is this less negative, it’s productive! It can help you explore what you want for yourself and drive you forward!

4. Clap your hands.

Yes! Clap your dang hands for what you see in the world that you’d like to have! Being supportive and caring toward other women serves all of us. This takes practice, but it’s so gratifying once you get in the habit.

Does that woman have an amazing deadlift? BRAVO!

Does your neighbor seem to have a super supportive relationship? Good on her!

Is that lady on the talk show doing something you’d like to do in the world? High-five, talk show lady! High freakin’ five!

I truly believe the sooner you start applauding those ahead of you, the sooner you’ll join them. But if every time you see someone doing something you’d like to do, you give them a big, nasty thumbs-down, you sure haven’t indicated that’s what you want for yourself. You are literally saying “no” to your desires.

Clap your hands! Your positivity will not only impact your day, but may be the thing that connects you to your goal or the people who help you get there.

There’s room for all of us.

Women are taught that we are in competition against each other. For significant others, for the perfect body, for being the best Mother, and on and on. Rarely does this elective competition actually serve us. When it comes to having what you want in life, there is room for all of us. One person’s success doesn’t keep you from it. In fact, that may be just the person to help pull you along.

Jealousy is a normal, human emotion. What we do with it will either keep us playing small and picking others apart, or can propel us toward our own desires.

I vote the latter.

Do you find yourself feeling jealous of other women?

From the time we’re little girls, we’re not only taught that our looks determine our worth, we’re constantly reminded that no matter how hard we try (at anything), we’re never quite good enough.

It’s no wonder we struggle to feel confident in so many areas of our lives—our bodies, our relationships, our intelligence, our contributions to the world. It’s frustrating and stifling to feel like your voice doesn’t matter, like you don’t measure up to arbitrary and ever-changing standards, or like everyone else’s preferences and needs come before yours.

What if you could feel confident in every way? What if, instead of wondering how it would feel to be good, worthy, and deserving enough… you already knew? What if you truly believed that losing a few more pounds or squeezing into a smaller size dress had nothing to do with how amazing, powerful, and valuable you are?


Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies


  • 1.5 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 can pure pumpkin (15 ounces)
  • 4 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • A splash of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: Chopped nuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Use a cookie scoop and pile about 20 onto a lined baking sheet.
  4. Let them bake for about 18-20 minutes.
  5. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  6. Eat them. Stay ripped.

By: Dani Shugart


Don't Earn Your Food By Lisbeth Darsh

I heard this saying recently: “Don’t Earn Your Food in the Gym.” It’s haunted my ears since. So many of us think this way, like we’re eight years old again and if we do our work, then we get a cupcake.

The concept of food as a treat is baked into our society. I’m not immune to this concept and, before I learned to love lifting iron for the sake of how it made me feel (versus the way it made me look), I was much more of an outcome-motivated gal. I was in that gym thinking that an extra set of this or more time doing that allowed me to eat more. I was earning my food in the gym.

But those days are gone now. Why? Because I do what I love and I let those old proverbial chips fall where they may. I’m deadlifting and squatting (and doing all sorts of other things) because I love how strong and powerful these movements makes me feel. The fact that those deadlifts work my glutes and make my butt look firmer? Icing on that cake that I’m not eating. (I’m not a big cake fan. Go figure. Chocolate chip cookies, however, have taken my virtue many times.)

Back to earning/not earning your food, though. The road to an invincible mindset that can lead you to success in nutrition and exercise and so many areas of your life? That road starts in your mind, as well as your body. You need to get your head and your butt in gear. Clear thinking plus movement is the road, and you need to get on that road.

So, reorder your thoughts. Earn your strength in the gym. You don’t have to earn your food. You’re not a dog dancing for treats. You’re an independent badass uncovering even more awesomeness inside you. If you want a sustainable lifestyle that will unlock your potential and supercharge your happiness, then you need to prioritize your mind: fuel your body to increase your performance, instead of increasing your performance in order to fuel your body.

Some other things I’ve learned that I wish I’d known sooner:

1.) I’m happier and more focused when I’m not starving.

Who can concentrate when your stomach is rumbling and all you can think about is getting something to eat? These are the weak points in your day, when you’re distracted by hunger. Better to eat smartly and keep your body fueled. Now your mind can stay on the task in front of you.

2.) Food is the original “5-hour Energy.”

I didn’t come up with this saying, but I’m a believer. So many products out there that you can buy, but they’re all variations on the basic stuff our bodies need: food for fuel. Plan your day, plan your meals, and set yourself up for success, not failure. Be smart.

3.) Most of us are not eight years old anymore, so we don’t need motivation designed for that age.

Food is not a treat for being a good girl or boy. This is tremendously freeing when you really think about it. If you have to propel yourself with the treat mentality (because you like it or you’re used to it), just pick something else. Run a mile and your treat is back squats. Finish your workout and your treat is a nap. Learn to pick different treats, and rewire your own thoughts. You’re not eight years old so you get to set the rules (and the treats) now!

4.) Naps are more useful than cupcakes.

Who doesn’t like naps? Plus, sleep helps repair your body and get you stronger. Win win. Next time you’re faced with the choice of cupcakes or naps, pick the nap. It will do far more for you than any cupcake ever could.

5.) Guilt helps no one, and it definitely does not help your deadlift.

If guilt built strength, we’d all be lifting 900 pounds. But it doesn’t. Stop beating yourself up about what you’ve done. Just do better now. Your last decision may have been poor, but this next one? It could be spot on. Make it so.

6.) Life is more fun if you’re not miserable.

There are enough things in life that will beat you down. You can’t control everything. So control what you can: your attitude. Set yourself up for success by adopting a mindset that will lead to success. Make smart, healthy choices. And if you veer off your path? Correct your course, and get back on the right path. Don’t earn your food in the gym. Perform in the gym. Fuel your body for life, and go kick some butt.



Barbell Tabata Complex (4 Exercises)


Barbell Tabata Complex (4 Exercises)

Pick four barbell exercises that you can easily transition between.

  • Perform the first exercise for as many reps as you can in 20 seconds.
  • Rest 10 seconds.
  • Perform the second exercise as fast as possible for 20 seconds.
  • Rest 10 seconds.
  • Repeat this process for the following two remaining exercises.

Once you've completed all four exercises you're only half way done, because you'll only be two minutes into the Tabata. Go back to the first exercise and repeat the entire complex again without ever dropping the bar.

Barbell Tabata Complex Example:

  1. Reverse Lunge (alternating legs) (rack position
  2. Shoulder Press or Thruster
  3. Romanian Deadlift
  4. Hang Clean
  5. Reverse Lunge (alternating legs) (rack position)
  6. Shoulder Press or Thruster
  7. Romanian Deadlift
  8. Hang Clean


Eggplant Lasagna Recipe

I've found some enjoyment out of trying out new recipes that are healthier for us. Comfort food tends to be a go-to for many during the winter months. But unfortunately a lot of the comfort foods that we are love are also heavy in sodium, trans fats, calories and carbs. Don't get me wrong, these things are bad but one meal typically puts you over in each category.

Try this Eggplant Lasagna recipe for a healthy but delicious substitution to regular lasagna.


Prep Time: 5-10 minutes | Cook Time: 25-30 minutes | Servings: 6


  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce or marinara of choice
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • ½ lb fresh mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, rough chop
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400° degrees F. Cut off stems and butts of eggplants and slice lengthwise 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Place on a baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Salt and pepper, as desired. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and set aside.
  2. Reduce oven temp to 350° degrees F.
  3. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt oil. Add diced onions, garlic, mushrooms, and lightly brown. Add ground turkey, cook through and add desired seasonings (oregano, salt, pepper). Pour in jar of sauce and reduce heat to low.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, cottage, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses. Add egg and stir to combine. Gently fold in fresh spinach.
  5. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Layer the bottom of the pan with cooked eggplant slices. Top slices with ½ of cheese mixture. Top cheese mixture with ½ of sauce mixture. Repeat eggplant, cheese, and sauce.  Sprinkle the top with extra shredded cheese (if desired) and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is lightly browned.

How to Stop Overeating

Why do most diets fail? It's not because we're lazy or lack willpower. Almost every time, the reason diets backfire is because we restrict too much. 

When you dramatically reduce your caloric count, your body instantly perceives danger. Your inner alarm system that protects you from starvation kicks in and slows your metabolism. You go into starvation mode and overeat. And inevitably when you stop dieting, you regain your former weight plus some. 

Think about what happens when you skip breakfast, work through lunch, and finally return home in the evening. You eat everything in sight, right? You feel stuffed, sick, guilty, and regret ever entering the kitchen in the first place. 

Why does this occur? After all, you are a reasonable person. You know you shouldn’t overeat. 

You are neither weak-willed, morally corrupt or self-destructive. You don’t need years of therapy to overcome this problem. 

The answer lies within your genetic programming: your body was designed to put on weight. Not coincidentally, your body doesn’t like it very much when you don’t provide sufficient calories. 

We all know overweight people who say, “I don’t really eat that much, and I still can’t lose weight.” Their diet usually fails, and they usually regain weight. If they constantly diet, their bodies have been through this process many times. 

I often hear that the obesity epidemic is a matter of personal responsibility. People should exercise more self-control. They should avoid overeating and reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food. Science suggests otherwise: Processed, sugar-, fat-, and salt-laden foods — foods created in a plant rather than grown on a plant — are biologically addictive


Almost nobody sits down and eats four bowls of broccoli, but you might be able to polish off four bowls of ice cream. These behaviors arise from primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal willpower. In the case of food addiction, these behaviors overwhelm the ordinary biological signals that control hunger. 

Nobody chooses to be fat. Instead, we are biologically wired to crave sugary, processed foods and eat as much of them as possible. 

7 Strategies to Stop Overeating and Lose Weight

Fortunately, you have the power to normalize eating — and none of these strategies involve counting calories. To lose weight, keep it off, and reduce risk for diabesity, I use these seven effective strategies with my patients: 

1. Eat real food. The single most important thing to lose weight and avoid overeating is to include real, whole, unprocessed foods in your diet. That means switching to vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, organic, range, or grass-fed animal products (poultry, lamb, beef, pork, eggs), and wild, smaller fish such as salmon. 

2. Always eat breakfast. Skipping a morning meal means you eventually feel famished, and throughout the day you eat much more food than you need to feel full. A recent study of 3,000 people who lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for six years found that most of them ate breakfast regularly. Only 4% of people who never ate breakfast managed to keep the weight off. 

3. Eat mindfully. You need to be relaxed for your gut’s nervous system to work properly. If you're stressed, you don’t digest food properly and your stress hormones slow metabolism. When you eat quickly, you also overeat, since it takes your brain 20 minutes after you start eating to know it's full. 

4. Journal. Writing down everything — what you eat, but also how you feel after you eat — becomes an excellent way to break mindless eating and other bad habits. A diet of words and self-exploration often results in weight loss. You metabolize your life and calories better. 

5. Get sufficient sleep. Always get eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night. You will reduce cravings and normalize fat-regulating hormones. One studyfound even a partial night’s sleep deprivation contributes to insulin resistance, paving the way for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. 

6. Control stress levels. Demanding jobs, marital tension, lack of sleep, too much to do, and too little time to do it create chronic stress, which makes you overeat. Learn to actively relax with de-stressing techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. 

7. Exercise. The right exercise will help you lose weight, maintain weight loss, and control your appetite so you don’t overeat. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking every day. Many people often require more vigorous, sustained exercise to reverse severe diabesity and normalize eating. Make it fun: Run, bike, dance, play games, or jump on a trampoline.

Article by Dr. Mark Hyman


Chocolate Peanut Butter Batter Bars


Alright here's the low down people, I'm a HUGE sweet tooth and often have a hard time fighting cravings. That's why I've learned to make healthier treats that satisfy the craving but don't blow my macros or calories out for the day. YES, you can totally still eat some treats and not feel guilty! That being said, you need to make sure you don't go HAM on the Christmas cookies or pie but instead make your own alternatives that you can feel good bout.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Batter Bars


-1/2 Cup Chocolate or Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Powder

- 2 cups Oat Flour

-1/2 Almond Flout

-2 tbsp Stevia

-1/4 Cup Peanut Butter

-1 tbsp Vanilla

-1/2 Cup Calorie-Free Syrup

-3tbsp Unsweetened Almond Milk

- 1 pinch Salt

- 1 pinch Sprinkles


  1. Mix the flours, protein powder, salt, and Stevia together in a bowl. 
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter and syrup. Microwave until melted (about 30 seconds). 
  3. Add the syrup mixture to flour mixture and combine. Add the vanilla and almond milk. 
  4. Stir the mixture until combined. Expect it to be thick! 
  5. Press into a 9x9 parchment-paper-lined pan and top with sprinkles

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 bar. Recipe Yields: 8 bars

Calories: 211, Fat: 10g, Carbs: 21g, Protein: 11g.

Is it ok to train when you have a cold?

This always seems to be a question that I get from clients and is a prevalent situation for many during the winter months. I myself just was sick for about a week and had to really think about my condition and to note how my body felt. There were a few days that I felt fine getting a light workout in but other days I could barely walk without aches and pains in my muscles. It's best to take care of our bodies and give it what it needs.

 Here are some suggestions from Dr. Edward R. Laskowski at the Mayo Clinic. 

Mild to moderate physical activity is usually OK if you have a standard cold and no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion.

As a general guide for exercise and illness, consider this:

  • Exercise is usually OK if your symptoms are all "above the neck." These signs and symptoms include those you may have with a common cold, such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or minor sore throat.

    Consider reducing the intensity and length of your workout. Instead of going for a run, take a walk, for example.

  • Don't exercise if your signs and symptoms are "below the neck," such as chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach.
  • Don't exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches.

Let your body be your guide. If you have a cold and feel miserable, take a break. Scaling back or taking a few days off from exercise when you're sick shouldn't affect your performance. Resume your normal workout routine gradually as you begin to feel better. And check with your doctor if you aren't sure if it's OK to exercise.

Remember, if you do choose to exercise when you're sick, then reduce the intensity and length of your workout. If you attempt to exercise at your normal intensity when you have more than a simple cold, you could risk more serious injury or illness.