Friday, April 17, 2009

Tips For Effective Interval Training

Posted by Bootcamper

You don't have to be a professional athlete to reap the benefits of interval training, where you alternate between bursts of intensive effort and slower recovery periods. In fact, by doing interval walking for a mere 20 minutes every other day, you can boost your metabolism into high gear so that you burn more calories and fat in less time than if you were working out at a steady pace.

And there's another benefit: With interval training, the higher the intensity of the exercise, the longer the afterburn; that is, you will continue to burn more fat and calories even while at rest! Below are eight tips to help you get the most out of your interval training session:

  1. Wear shoes that will give you proper support: walking shoes, cross-training shoes, or running shoes. And choose synthetic athletic socks over cotton ones because they wick away moisture and keep your feet dry and blister-free.

  2. Begin each session with a short walk at a slow or moderate pace. This allows your muscles to warm up before you start doing your intervals.

  3. Be mindful of maintaining good posture while you're walking.

  4. Hold your abdominal muscles in tight.

  5. Keep your chest lifted and your chin parallel to the ground (leading with your chin while walking can result in neck and back pain).

  6. With each step, strike the ground from heel to toe and feel your buttocks(glutes) contract. This will help strengthen your buttocks and the backs of your legs as you walk.

  7. Wear a watch or carry a stopwatch to keep track of time so that you can complete the designated number of intervals per session in about 20 minutes.

  8. Remember that doing a little is better than nothing. Do what you can at first, and then gradually increase your periods of intensity and total distance.

Once you've mastered interval training and enjoyed the results, you may be tempted to push yourself to do even more. Don't do so, as your body needs to rest and recover on alternate days of the week.

On the days that you're not doing higher intensity interval training, be sure to do a 15- to 20-minute recreational walk when you have the time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Food / Bad Food?

Now that you have figured out what this whole boot camp thing is all about, it is time to tighten up on your diet. But some of you may not know where to start. This is where your wellness instructors, the nutrition blog, and some helpful hints come into play.

We have suggested that you clean out your kitchen of “bad” foods and go shopping for “good” foods, but what is good and what is bad?

Recently Michael Pollan, a food author, gave a lecture to scientists at the CDC. He shared with them his seven rules for eating and the seven words that sum up those seven rules. He believes that you should “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

So what does that mean? Well, it means to eat real food – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and meat. And to avoid “edible food-like substances”.

So here are his Seven Rules for Eating:

1) Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

2) Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

3) Stay out of the middle of the supermarket. You should shop the perimeter of the store where you find the fruits, vegetables, and meats.

4) Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. There are exceptions to this rule, as in honey, but avoid things that never go bad…like Twinkies.

5) It is not just what you eat, but how you eat. When you are eating a meal, stop eating before you are completely full. You should be satisfied, not stuffed.

6) Enjoy meals with the people you love. Eat your meals at the dinner table, that is what it is for! Avoid eating meals in front of the TV.

7) Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.

Is this all you need to know about how to eat right? Probably not, but it is a good start. You should also remember to eat 4-5 smaller meals through out the day instead of 2-3 large meals. And remember to drink a lot of water.

You can check out the Rialto Nutrition Blog on a daily basis for recipes and tips. Also, for more information on Michael Pollan and his nutritional guidelines, read this article.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why Buy Local?

We hear a lot these days about buying local food from farmer's markets and other "home grown" sources. But what are the true upsides to it and what exactly does it mean?

A recent survey by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture found that more than two-thirds of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that local food is better for their health than food that has traveled cross-country. Eating locally grown foods has become the latest trend in our battle to eat better and live healthier lives. So what is this movement all about?

What is the concept of eating locally grown?
According to Erin Barnett, director of, "Eating local' means different things to different people, depending on how 'local' is defined." Some define locally grown as within a 100-mile radius of where they live. But the overarching concept is that you purchase and eat foods produced close to home. "You might be able to get eggs raised just five miles down the road, but cheese from the state next to yours. Both choices take the food's geographical origins into account, and that is the decision-making tool at the heart of eating locally grown," says Barnett.

Why buy local?
"It often means getting fresher food," says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., senior scientist and policy analyst at the nonprofit Consumers Union. The main reason, according to Rangan, is that it hasn't been trucked thousands of miles so there's less time for food to spoil. But there are even more advantages to local food production. It saves on gasoline and reduces pollution from transporting food (which can help to reduce global warming), and, in many cases, it supports smaller-scale farmers, says Rangan.

Is it difficult to eat locally grown foods?
Variety and balance are two key elements of a healthy diet. Trying to eat 100 percent local is difficult, impractical and can limit or eliminate some whole nutritious foods," says Laura Pensiero, R.D., a chef and nutritionist in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Her approach: Eat local when possible.

Is it easier to buy locally grown foods in particular areas?
Certainly it is easier to buy fresh local produce in areas of the country with long growing seasons. But even in your region's off-season, you may find an excellent variety of pasture-raised meats, or milk from family-owned dairies, or honey, or particular nuts, or seafood. Also, there are many crops that can be stored and/or grown in the winter.

Are there studies that show that locally grown foods are more nutritious?
Not exactly, as a study like that would be difficult to do. Absolute nutrient content has so many variables, such as soil fertility, ripening times, etc. However, research does show that produce picked at its peak has the highest nutrient content. Once picked, fresh produce will gradually start to degrade.

Isn't eating local restrictive, repetitive and boring?
Not necessarily. According to Rangan, the varieties of any one kind of local produce can be even more diverse than what you would find at a typical supermarket. In fact, people who buy at the supermarket get the same selection 365 days a year. It gets boring to look at that same array. You end up eating the same spuds, broccoli, apples and pears.

What about my morning coffee?
Well, coffee is not grown in the continental United States. However, there are other labels you can look for to support sustainable farming practices, says Rangan. She recommends looking for coffee and other products with the words organic and fair trade on the label.

Is it more expensive to eat locally grown foods?
Typically, you can join a food cooperative or a Community Sponsored Agriculture program (where you support a local farm and get shares of the produce), and the costs are very reasonable. Also, if you shop at your local farmer's market (straight to consumer from the farm), the food may be even cheaper than in the supermarket because you are buying direct, without the middleman.

Does eating locally grown take an enormous amount of time?
Greenmarkets and Community Sponsored Ag programs offer easy ways to access locally grown foods. Also, how about sharing a program with neighbors and alternating pickups? You can start a cooking club, alternating cooking nights with friends and neighbors. If you're interested in sustainable food production, conserving oil, polluting less, and supporting local farmers, then the effort to do those things may be worth it to you.

Does locally grown mean better quality?
According to Susan Moores, M.S., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, "It can, but much hinges on growers and their farming/production practices." Local can and does mean wonderful things, but it's not an assurance.

Does locally grown mean organic?
No, these are two separate concepts, says Barnett. Some local food is organic, but certainly not all. However, according to Moores, "Many farmers producing great foods have opted not to become certified as organic, yet their practices are stellar." Still, the best combination appears to be both organic and locally grown foods.

How do you get started eating locally grown?
Take a look at, which offers a national online directory of farmers who market their goods directly to the public. Other resources: (CSAs) (4,385 farmers markets) (fresh food listings) (information and news) (recipes and tips)