Tune Your Body

Our body is designed to move. A complex scaffolding of muscles and bones allows us to achieve remarkable feats of coordination and balance.

Our sedentary lifestyles have made modern life much more comfortable, but our bodies have become sluggish and lazy.

Regular exercise has multiple benefits. It strengthens muscles and bones, keeps the joints flexible, reduces fat deposits, stimulates the brain, and reinforces the immune system to protect the entire body against diseases and the effects of aging on a long term basis.

Due to it’s many positive effects, regular exercise is the true fountain of youth. Studies show that middle-aged people who have never exercised on a regular basis appear up to 20 years older physiologically than their active peers.

Exercise is fun, free and offers an array of benefits. Some forms of exercise like stretching, yoga and Pilates increase flexibility. Others, like weight training, build healthy bones and joints and improves muscle strength. Aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jumping rope, running and dancing increase endurance by helping the heart work more efficiently.

Tune your body as you would a fine instrument and see how far it takes you.

These words were taken from an informational poster at Boston’s Quincy Market where the exhibit Body World’s Vital is currently on display. I had the pleasure to view the exhibit on a recent visit to Boston with a friend. The bodies on display are real people who gave their consent to use their bodies so others may learn more about our functions. The bodies are preserved using a process called plastination, by which the fluids in the body are replaced with plastics such as silicone rubber, polymers and resins to then permanently preserve these specimens. The skin is removed and the muscles, tendons, bones and organs are revealed. It was amazing to see how our muscles are attached to ligaments, attached to bones. The human body is an amazing machine.

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Besides exercise, your body needs the proper fuel. Eat a well balanced diet that consists of an abundance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins. Drink plenty of water and limit dairy to two servings a day. Use healthy oils like olive oil or canola oil and avoid trans fat. A proper diet will give you all the energy you need to get out and move your body.

Take care of your body! It’s the only place you have to live!

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The Mighty Cooked Tomato and Bicycle Commuting

Tomatoes lose some of their vitamin C when they’re cooked, but heating, processing, or crushing boost their antioxidant power. Cooked tomatoes are a good source of a carotenoid called lycopene – a strong antioxidant that may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease,  some types of cancer and macular degeneration. It’s the lycopenes in tomatoes that gives them their bright red color. You won’t get as many of them if you eat sliced tomatoes. A drawback of eating canned or jarred tomato products is getting a high dose of sodium. To avoid the additional salt try cooking your own tomatoes or buying a low sodium version.

I’m absolutely thrilled that cycling season is in full swing here in the north east! I even bicycled to work one day this week! I’ve promised myself that, weather permitting and a with warm enough temperature in the AM, I will ride to work three times a week. Monday morning I set out for the 15 mile trek at 6:45 and arrived at my place of employ with a few minutes to spare. The rack and commuter bag worked well but I’m going to be leaving the laptop at work as often as possible. That weight along with my lunch and change of clothing made the back of the bike a bit heavy.

The Monday morning ride plus 23 miles after work today gives me 54 miles so far for the week. Bicycling with my husband this weekend will put me over 100 miles. I should be hitting my 100+ miles per week goal now though the summer months.

I am passionate about cycling and consider myself in training for my yearly trek across the state of Massachusetts during the first weekend in August; the Pan Massachusetts Challenge. The PMC is a challenging two day 192 mile ride beginning in the south central Massachusetts town of Sturbridge. Saturday morning at 5:30 AM we start by traversing 40 miles of grueling hills right from the start. The route then flattens out considerably for the remaining 72 miles and ends in Buzzards Bay, at the western entrance of the Cape Cod Canal, where we spend the night at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

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Day 1 Sturbridge to Buzzards Bay 112 miles

Off to an early start Sunday morning beginning with the long climb over the Bourne Bridge at sunrise. The view of the rising sun reflecting off the ribbon of the Cape Cod Canal is a sight to behold and well worth the early wake up call.

 

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The Bourne Bourne Bridge spanning the Cape Cod Canal

But is it ever hard to sit on that seat the next day. Our route takes us down the length of scenic Cape Cod. Through quaint towns, along fishing inlets and over dunes. We will witness many breathtaking ocean views. Still, that 80 miles does NOT go quick. Cape Cod is hilly. Long rolling hills winding along highways, back roads and bike paths and finally through a five mile stretch through the sand dunes of Provincetown signaling the finish is near. At last we arrive at the Provincetown Inn. The bike goes on a truck. I pick up my backpack and head to the shower tent. Clean and refreshed and wearing something other than spandex, I join some friends for lunch in the food tent. After a bite to eat we stroll the mile long Commercial Street of Provincetown, which is mainly pedestrian traffic, to the wharf. There we will board a ferry for the 3 hour trip to Boston where my bicycle, my backpack and my ride await me. I live for this weekend every year.

 

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Day two Buzzards Bay to Provincetrown 80 miles

This year will mark my 11th ride with the PMC. Over the last 11 years, to date, I have raised $51,345 for cancer research and care at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute. My goal this year is to raise 10K. I join 5,500+ other cyclists who, like me, are dedicated to funding a cure for cancer. Together our goal for this year is to raise 40 million dollars. If you would like to consider sponsoring me, this link will take you to my fundraising page. http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126

Thanks for reading my blog and have a great weekend!

Ride on!

100 + Mile Week, Kids and Fitness and Beets!

I have so much to talk about this week! Spring cycling is just about in full swing. My bicycle and I spent quality time together four times this past week and for the first time this year I rode over 100 miles in a week.  With late afternoon temperatures high enough to allow for it, I logged 20.5 miles Thursday and 19 miles Friday. To bring the total way up my husband and I cycled together Saturday for 35.5 miles and today’s total was 30! Total for the week, 105 miles! My bike-a-thon, The Pan Mass Challenge is three months away and one of my goals is to ride 1,800 miles prior to the event.

I didn’t blog last week because I was busy hanging out with my daughters, son-in-law and grandson. We did a 5K together last Sunday; a charity event raising funds and awareness for childhood cancer. My three-year-old grandson tagged along in his red wagon with Mommy getting a monster work out on the hills! He’s not quite old enough to participate on his own legs. I did notice he watched intently when kids, not much older than himself, ran by. Maybe next year!  He really loves playing outdoors and at his age, that’s how kids get their exercise. I feel it’s really important to start them young. Sure it may be easier to keep them in. Parents have so many obligations and it’s not always easy to carve out time to get outdoors with the kids. I commend my daughter and son-in-law for making the time. He plays ball, rides a scooter, goes to the playground and they participate in so many activities with him that he is getting exercise, whether he realizes  it or not. It’s important to start good habits at an early age. Childhood obesity is a growing problem. With so much entertainment available indoors, kids don’t get out and play now as previous generations did. It’s resulting in heavier kids, childhood diabetes and other health problems. Encourage your kids to get out and play!

jr on the run

My grandson on the run at the zoo

I thought I hated beets. My parents made me eat them as a child and I didn’t like them. As an adult I never tried them again, until recently. I’ve found that many of the vegetables I didn’t like as a child, appeal to me now. I looked to my favorite online recipe website to see if I could find a recipe that appealed to me, and I did. I made this tonight and have plenty to take with my lunch this week.

Garlicky Beet Delight

6 medium beets

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cloves minced garlic

salt to taste

Remove beet greens, wash the beets and boil until tender (about 30 minutes) Remove the skins by running cold water over the boiled beets , then slipping their skins off. Slice the beets and toss with the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt.

Delicious!

Six health benefits of beets

  1. Beets are natures Viagra. Yup, that’s right! Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
  2. Beets are high in potassium, magnesium, fiber,iron,  phosphorus, vitamins A, B & C, beta-carotene, and folic acid. They can help lower your blood pressure, fight inflammation and cancer.
  3. Beets cleanse the body. They are a tonic for the liver and purifies the blood.
  4. Beets help your mental health. They contain betaine, the same substance that is used in certain treatments depression. It also contains tyrtophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well being.
  5. Beets are a stomach acid tester. If you’re eating a lot of beets and you pee pink, you have low stomach acid.
  6. Beets are a high source of energy. At the same time they’re low in calories and high in sugar (the sugar is released into your system gradually) Beets are very beneficial in this regard.

My fundraising for the Pan Mass Challenge is going well. With three months to go I’ve already raised $1,800! I’m committed to raise $4,300. My goal is $10,000.  One hundred percent on the rider raised funds go to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The money is used for cancer care and research. With over 5,000 riders participating, our aim is to raise 40M. This link will take you to my fundraising page where you can donate with a credit card http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also “Text to give to my ride” by texting PMC JS0126 to 20222 to donate $10 to my ride. You must reply “Yes” to the confirmation text message. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone and the donation will appear on your cell phone bill.

Let's go

Have a great week and thanks for reading my blog!

Massachusetts Bike Laws for Riders and Motorists

I had two great weekend rides with my husband and a first for this year; an evening ride! Saturday was a 32 mile very windy ride. With a northeast wind we headed out in a southwesterly direction keeping that stiff wind to our side. Riding 15 miles in that direction we did an about face and headed northeast. Now the wind came from the other side. It’s not possible to ride a 32 mile loop and not go directly into the wind at some point but we managed to keep it to a minimum.

Sunday was cooler with a light east wind off the Atlantic. We rode 33 miles around the reservoir; our typical Sunday ride.

With today’s afternoon temperature reaching 73 and a light workload, I managed to get it done a little early and had time for a 23 mile ride after work/before supper. My first of the year! PMC training is nearing full swing!

I am often surprised at how close vehicles come to us while on our bicycles. Seriously, who is in such a hurry that they’d risk running down a bicycle because they don’t want to wait until it’s safe to pass? I knew my state had laws established but never took the time to look them up and see exactly what they say. Here’s what I learned:

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On a bicycle in Massachusetts you have these rights

  • You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bikes have been posted. 
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding. 
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or other device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.

On a bicycle in Massachusetts your responsibilities are

  • You must obey all traffic laws and regulations of the Commonwealth. 
  • You must use hand signals to let people know you plan stop or turn.
  • You must give pedestrians the right of way.
  • You must give pedestrians an audible signal before overtaking or passing them. 
  • You may ride two abreast, but must facilitate passing traffic. This means riding single file when faster traffic wants to pass, or staying in the right-most lane on a multi-lane road. 
  • You must keep one hand on your handlebars at all times.

In a motor vehicle in Massachusetts your responsibilities are

  • Motorists and their passengers must check for passing bicyclists before opening their door. Motorists and their passengers can be ticketed and fined up to $100 for opening car or truck doors into the path of any other traffic, including bicycles and pedestrians. 
  • Motorists must stay a safe distance to the left of a bicyclist when passing. Motorists are also prohibited from returning to the right until safety clear of the bicyclist.
  • Motorists must pass at a safe distance. If the lane is too narrow to pass safely, the motorist must use another lane to pass, or, if that is also unsafe, the motorist must wait until it is safe to pass. 
  • Motorists are prohibited from making abrupt right turns (“right hooks”) at intersections and driveways after passing a cyclist. 
  • Motorists must yield to oncoming bicyclists when making left turns. The law expressly includes yielding to bicyclists riding to the right of other traffic (e.g., on the shoulder), where they are legally permitted but may be more difficult for motorists to see.
  • Motorists may not use the fact that bicyclists were riding to the right of traffic as a legal defense for causing a crash with a bicyclist.

http://massbike.org/resourcesnew/bike-law/

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And there you have it. Motorists must pass at a safe distance. If they are unable to they must wait until there is opportunity to pass safely. This does not mean if there is oncoming traffic on a narrow road that it’s ok to squeeze by in a rush to get home say what? five seconds earlier? Please folks, share the road!

PMC 2014 is less than three months away. I’ll soon be mailing, emailing and handing out fundraising requests. PMC is a two day 192 mile bike-a-thon raising money for Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund. Over 5,000 cyclists participate each year. I am required to raise $4,300. To date my total is $1,446. Last year I raised over $8,000. My goal this year is $10,000. Would you consider sponsoring me in my 11th ride with the PMC? You can do so by going to https://www.pmc.org/egifts and my ID is JS0126. You can also “Text to Give to My Ride” which means donors can text PMC JS0126 to 20222 to donate $10 to my ride. You must reply “Yes” to the confirmation text message. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone and the donation will appear on your cell phone bill.

Thanks for reading my blog. Ride and drive safe!

How Can I Keep my Cholesterol Low?

I rode my bicycle both Saturday and Sunday for a total of 62 miles! Saturday was a 34 mile ride of challenging hills. My legs were tired at the end! They recovered for a 28 mile ride around the reservoir on Sunday. It is our favorite route and will do that one most Sundays. 

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Sunday around the reservoir

Monday brought warm enough temperatures but a very strong wind. I’d considered a ride after work but the thought of that headwind changed my mind. I opted for a 7 mile walk instead. I’ll get my miles in one way or another!

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Monday walk

I’ve been asked by a friend to do a blog on cholesterol. Considering her 60th birthday is a mere month away, she should be concerned (heehee…sorry Joanne)! I say that in jest but the truth hurts because I’m not far behind! Cholesterol builds up in your blood stream over a long period of time. Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle as well as family history can all contribute to a rise in your low-density lipoprotein, LDL, or bad cholesterol. So how to lower it?

Diet plays a key role in lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. Here are four foods that, when eaten on a regular basis, will help keep those levels down.

  1. Oatmeal – contains soluble fiber, which reduces your bad cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber per day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you’ll add about 4 more grams of fiber.
  2. Fish and Omega 3 fatty acids – eating fatty fish can be good for your heart because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil – Omega 3’s, reduces the risk of sudden death. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and halibut. I’ll add that flax seeds have small amounts of Omega-3s. I add these to a smoothie. Recipe to follow.
  3. Not a fish fan? How about nuts? Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid and also help keep blood vessels healthy. 
  4. Olive oil – olive oil contains a mix of antioxidants that can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol but leave your good (HDL) cholesterol untouched. To add olive oil to your diet, you can saute vegetables in it, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread. Olive oil is high in calories, so don’t eat more than the recommended amount. Two tablespoons a day will do it!
  5. EXERCISE! Being overweight tends to increase the amount of LDL in your blood. Thirty minutes 3-5 times a week is beneficial to lowering LDL cholesterol. 

My cholesterol level has never been high and my goal is to keep it that way. I’ve recently added flax seed to my diet.One tablespoon has 1.8 grams of Omega 3s. I tried eating them plain but they’re rather small and somewhat sticky and I found I was picking them out of my teeth. Eeww. Now I put about a tablespoon in a smoothie. You can’t even taste them. I make this smoothie after working out and while I’m cooking supper. I’m hungry after my workout and this keeps me from picking. 

  • 1/2 cup plain non fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 frozen mixed strawberries and blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed

Blend for a few minutes to ensure the frozen fruit is completely pureed. This smoothie also provides 35% of the RDA of calcium, 24% RDA of protein and only 180 calories. A fitting reward after my 7 mile walk!

As the days get warmer and longer and I’m able to spend more time on my bicycle, my mind goes more and more to the first weekend in August when I’ll ride for the 11th time in the annual Pan Massachusetts Challenge. This 192 mile bike-a-thon raises millions of dollars every year for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes to Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund. My goal this year is to raise $10,000. Would you consider sponsoring me with a donation? I’ve already raise $1,500 and I haven’t even sent out one letter! You can learn more about the PMC here http://www.pmc.org. If you’d like to consider sponsoring  me you can do so at www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. If you’d like to send me an old fashioned check send me a message and I’ll provide my address.

Thanks for reading my blog!

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Do You Take Vitamin Supplements?

I’ve taken a few vitamin and mineral supplements over the years in an attempt to fill in the gaps in my diet. Over the last few weeks while writing this blog I’ve learned much about food and ways to get my daily nutritional requirements naturally. With the changes I’ve made in my eating habits I’m down to two supplements I’ll continue to take.

The first one is calcium. I’m concerned about my bone density and osteoporosis. I’m not worried about it now, my bones are fine. Keeping them strong into old age is my goal. My grandmother has osteoporosis. At my full adult height she and I were the same height. Before she passed away she was six inches shorter than me, had a hunched back and suffered back pain. One calcium tablet a day will still be part of my daily intake. I’ll get the rest of my daily requirement through food.

Glucosamine and chondroitin is a mineral complex that protects and comforts sore joints by lubricating and cushioning them. Due to many miles pedaled around the rolling hills of central Massachusetts I’d developed knee soreness particularly during the warm months. This supplement really helps. My husband has osteoarthritis in his knees and it has also decreased his knee pain somewhat.

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I recently stopped taking a B Complex supplement. I think I’ve got these bases pretty well covered in my diet. There are eight B vitamins;

  1. B1 aka thiamine helps your body break down carbs. Wheat germ and oysters contain high levels of B1. I might have to work on this one.
  2. B2 aka riboflavin helps convert food to energy and aids in producing red blood cells. Mushrooms, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and green leafy vegetables are rich in riboflavin.
  3. B3 aka niacin aids digestion, metabolizes food and produces the good kinds of cholesterol. Fish, chicken, liver, potatoes, peanuts, beans, fortified cereals and whole grains are high in niacin.
  4. B4 aka panothenic acid is found in most foods. It breaks down proteins, carbs and fats. To increase intake eat more eggs, chicken, potatoes, peas, avocados, oranges, mushrooms, tomatoes and oats.
  5. B6 aka pyridoxine is necessary for nervous system functions. Green leafyvegetables, asparagus, watermelon, organ meats, fish, chicken, watermelon and wheat germ are high in B6.
  6. B7 aka biotin helps your body synthesize glycogen, amino acids and fats. It also is linked to tissue maintenance and skin care. Oats, nuts, soybeans, potatoes, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower are high in biotin.
  7. B9 aka folic acid is required for cell growth and maintenance. Many foods are high in folic acid, including beans, peas, broccoli, beets, asparagus, turnip greens, spinach, mushrooms, cantaloupe, wheat bread and fortified juices.
  8. B12 aka cobalamin is vital to red blood cell production. It is primarily found in foods from animals. Vegetarians and vegans may need to take vitamin supplements to get the recommended daily allowance of B12. Look for other foods rich in vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, seafood, milk and yogurt.

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And yes, I rode my bicycle Sunday! This shadow picture make me look a bit chubby around the middle. No very flattering! Oh well, I like shadow pictures! I had to leave the hubby behind Sunday. He was down and out with a nasty stomach bug that he caught from me. After a slow recovery from that same bug I felt up for it Sunday and did 26 miles. It was great. Sunny, 50’s and a bit breezy but I bundled up and off I went. It felt so good. I turned over 200 miles for the year so far. Not bad considering we’re just getting over a pretty cold winter. I’ll soon be cranking out over 100 miles a week. I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to ride after work. My goal for the year is 3,000 miles.

I have another goal; To raise $10,000 for Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through their Jimmy Fund. Every year during the first weekend in August over 5,000 cyclists take part in the annual Pan Massachusetts Challenge. We are pedaling toward a goal of raising $40M this year and I’m excited to be riding for the 11th time. You can learn more about the PMC here http://www.pmc.org. If you’d like to consider sponsoring  me you can do so here  http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. If you’d like to send me an old fashioned check send me a message. One hundred percent of your donation goes to the charity – not one cent is used for administrative costs.

Thanks for reading my blog!

A Handful of Nuts

Spring is finally here in New England! Though not every day is warm enough or dry enough for bicycling, we’re able to get out more often than “once in a while”. Saturday was one of those days. Temperatures were in the low 50’s and rain threatened for the second half of the afternoon. After giving the morning a bit of time to warm up we set out on our bicycles around 11:00 AM. My husband is always the navigator. With a pretty good northeast wind he chose a route heading north for the first few miles. We rode a 29 mile loop that, for the most part, wasn’t into a headwind. With a coffee stop at the halfway point we got back around 2:45, just as it started to sprinkle. My average speed wasn’t my best but that will improve once I’m on the bike regularly. I’m looking forward to warmer days so I can start riding to work. I’m thinking in about a month I’ll be able to do just that. 

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Only four months until the 2014 Pan Massachusetts Challenge. This 192 mile, 2 day bike a thon takes place every year on the first weekend in August. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through it’s Jimmy Fund. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes straight to DFCI. I personally have set a goal to raise $10,000. I feel confidant that I can attain this goal. Would you consider helping me? Online donations can be made here http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. You’ll get a confirmation text to which you will have to reply to in order for the donation to be processed. A $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone. If you’d like to know more about the PMC and it’s work, check it out at http://www.pmc.org.

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So, about nuts. It seems that eating nuts is good for your heart. They contain many compounds that promote heart health:

  • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – the “good” fats – lower bad cholesterol levels
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.
  • Fiber – All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. 
  • Vitamin E – helps stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them.
  • Plant sterols – Some nuts contain plant sterols, which can help lower your cholesterol. These are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
  • L-arginine – a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

Something to keep in mind is that nuts are as much as 80% fat. Though it’s the healthy type of fat, nuts do pack a lot of calories. The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Raw or dry roasted are better than those cooked in oil. A serving is a small handful, 1.5 oz., of whole nuts. But again, do this as part of a heart-healthy diet. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products won’t do your heart any good.

Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat? Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some more so than others. Walnuts contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy. Peanuts – which are technically not a nut but are actually legume – like beans, seem to be relatively healthy. Keep in mind you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a happy, healthy week!

 

More on Protein – Have You Tried Quinoa?

I have to admit I was a bit of a slacker in the exercise department today. I spent last night at the home of my middle child and who happens to be the mom of the world’s most darling grandson. We did have a nice walk and fun exploring part of Borderland State Forest. Quality time with him trumped and big workout today! I’ll make it up this week.

While most adults get adequate amounts of protein from their diets, vegetarians and vegans may have trouble eating enough protein rich foods to meet minimum daily requirements. Protein is found in the following foods;

  • meats, poultry, and fish
  • legumes (dry beans and peas)
  • tofu
  • eggs
  • nuts and seeds
  • milk and milk products
  • grains, some vegetables, and some fruits (provide only small amounts of protein relative to other sources)

What is quinoa? Pronounced keen-wah, quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, but is actually a seed. Of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Cholesterol-free and a low-fat source of protein, one cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein. To put that in reference, the recommended daily protein intake is about 56 grams for most men and 46 for most women. That same cup of this super food also packs;

  •  220 calories (70 percent carbs, 15 percent fat, 15 percent protein)
  • 40 grams of carbohydrates (13 percent daily value)
  • 3.5 grams of fat (5 percent daily value with no saturated fat
  • 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of daily value)
  • 20 percent of daily value of folate (various forms of Vitamin B)
  • 30 percent of magnesium daily value (beneficial for people with migraine headaches); 28 percent daily value of phosphorous; iron (15 percent); copper (18 percent); and manganese (almost 60 percent)
  • All eight essential amino acids

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Vegetarians would do well to incorporate quinoa into their diet often. It’s difficult for vegetarians to get all eight essential amino acids and an adequate source of protein from one food source. Usually, vegetarians and vegans need to combine foods like beans and rice to acquire all the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

There are a lot of recipes out there for quinoa. This link will take you to a site that has some very interesting sounding breakfast recipes for quinoa.

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/breakfastrecipe1/tp/Breakfast-Quinoa.htm

I haven’t made any any of them yet but they are on my list of recipes to try!

I’m really itching for spring weather to give me more opportunities to spend time on my bicyle and start training for my 11th ride with the Pan Massachusetts Challenge. This 192 mile, 2 day bike a thon takes place every year on the first weekend in August. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through it’s Jimmy Fund. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes straight to DFCI. I personally have set a goal to raise $10,000. I feel confidant that I can attain this goal. Would you consider helping me? Online donations can be made here http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. You’ll get a confirmation text to which you will have to reply to in order for the donation to be processed. A $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone. If you’d like to know more about the PMC and it’s work, check it out at http://www.pmc.org.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a great week!

 

 

Cutting back on meats? Alternative protein sources.

Monday, 1 hour on the cross trainer. Tuesday, 1 hour Spin class. Wednesday, 1 hour on the cross trainer. Thursday and Friday, no workout. Saturday, 29 miles on my bike (yippee!). Sunday, 5 miles cross country skiing. Yes, that’s right. It was warm enough at 53 degrees to bicycle on Saturday and below freezing Sunday. Only in New England. At least if it had to be below freezing, there was still enough snow around to ski on. I’d rather be outside any day and soon enough the weather will allow it more and more. Hooray for spring!

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I’m trying to cut back the amount of meat I eat and get protein from other sources. A good alternate source of protein is beans. Soybeans are one of the richest plant-based protein sources. You’ll get more than 28.5 grams of protein from 1 cup of boiled soybeans. Cooked navy beans have nearly 16 grams of protein per cup, while pinto beans offer closer to 15.5 grams of protein for the same serving size. Prepared kidney beans and black beans each have a similar protein content, providing about 15.25 grams in a 1-cup portion. Garbanzo beans – the type used to make hummus – give you 14.5 grams of protein in a cup. 

But, beans aren’t a complete protein. One thing they lack that we get from meat is amino acids. If you’re going to rely on beans for protein, you’ll need to add another plant based protein on a daily basis to get these essential amino acids. My suggestions would be brown rice, oatmeal or a handful of nuts, 

Beans are comparable to meats in the calorie department but they have the added benefit of high fiber and water content, two ingredients that make you feel fuller, faster. Adding beans to your diet helps cut calories without feeling deprived. The difference in fiber content means meat gets digested more quickly. The beans are processed by our bodies slower resulting in feeling satisfied longer. When you substitute beans for meat in your diet, you get the added bonus of a decrease in saturated fat.

And that’s not all. Beans have something else that meat lacks, phytochemicals, compounds found only in plants. Beans are high in antioxidants, a class of phytochemicals that incapacitate cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Free radicals have been implicated in everything from cancer and aging to diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Hey, sounds like the perfect food, huh? I made a black bean and cucumber salad tonight tonight that is absolutely delicious! I found it here http://allrecipes.com/recipe/black-bean-and-cucumber-salad/detail.aspx. It’s going to be a big part of my lunches this week!

I’m registered to ride in the 2014 Pan Mass Challenge on August 2nd & 3rd. This 192 mile bike a thon raises much needed funds for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One hundred percent of the money raised by the over 5,000 riders goes straight to Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund. This will be my 11th time riding the PMC and my goal is to raise $10,000. If you’d consider sponsoring me click here https://www.pmc.org/egifts and my ID is JS0126. Another way to donate is “Text to Give to My Ride” means donors can text PMC JS0126 to 20222 to donate $10 to my ride. You must reply “Yes” to the confirmation text message. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone and the donation will appear on your cell phone bill.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a great week!

 

 

 

An Apple A Day

My hubby and I did have an opportunity to ride our bikes this weekend, though the conditions weren’t the best by any means. Saturday’s high temp reached 50, which is eminently warm enough to ride. However here in central MA we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground, and it’s melting. We thought the main roads might be pretty much dry…..not so. From water blown up by cars and coming off my back wheel I managed to end up pretty wet. Add to that a line of muddy sand right up my backside to my shoulder blades. But it didn’t matter because I rode my bike this weekend! 

Today was considerably colder and we resorted back to cross country skiing, because after all, there’s still plenty of snow in central MA! While skiing alongside the Wachusett Reservoir I sighted a rare bald eagle! The American bald eagle is such a majestic bird. We only have a few of them Massachusetts. I spent several minutes watching it glide and soar on the air currents. 

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We’ve all heard the saying “An Apple A Day keeps the Doctor Away”. Have you every wondered why they say that? We all know that fruit is packed with nutrition, but specifically what is it about apples that keeps the doctor away? 

Bone Protection

Phloridzin, a flavonoid that is found only in apples, may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and may also increase bone density. Another component of apples, boron, also strengthens bones.

Asthma

A recent study showed that children born to women who eat a lot of apples during pregnancy have lower rates of asthma than children whose mothers ate few apples.

 

Cholesterol

The pectin in apples lowers LDL, bad cholesterol. People who eat two apples per day may lower their cholesterol by as much as 16 percent.

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Lung Cancer

After studying 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer. It is believed this is due to the high levels of the flavonoids quercetin and naringin in apples.

Alzheimer’s

The flavonoid quercetin was also shown to protect brain cells from degeneration in laboratory rats. It is believed this also holds true with humans. 

Breast Cancer

In a study of rats who ate one apple per day their risk of breast cancer was reduced by 17 percent. Rats fed three apples per day reduced their risk by 39 percent and those fed six apples per day reduced their risk by 44 percent. 

Colon Cancer

Research shows that the pectin in apples reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Diabetes Management

The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body’s need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes.

Weight Loss

A Brazilian study revealed that women who ate three apples or pears per day lost more weight while dieting than women who did not eat fruit while dieting

All in all, an apple is a healthy snack packed with flavonoids and antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, cancer, aid in digestion and protect brain cells. But you must also eat the skin! The skin of an apple is loaded with fiber and aids in digestion.

PMC 2014

My blog wouldn’t be complete without a blurb about the Pan Mass Challenge. This year is the 35th anniversary of the PMC and my 11th ride with this group of like-minded individuals from many walks of life who have taken it upon themselves to eradicate cancer. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through it’s Jimmy Fund. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes straight to DFCI. I personally have set a goal to raise $10,000. I feel confidant that I can attain this goal. Would you consider helping me? Online donations can be made here http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. If you’d like to know more about the PMC and it’s work, check it out at http://www.pmc.org.

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Thanks for reading my blog!