Archive for February, 2012

Straight From the Headlines: Choosing the Best Oil For Your Colon Health

In a recent animal study, it was found that diets that included canola oil rather than corn oil had less of a chance of growing colon tumors.

One of the reasons that give canola the edge is the high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, where corn oil is higher in omega-6 fatty acids. In the animals tested, researchers charted the size and number of colon tumors and tested their blood for its fatty acid amount. When comparing animals whose diets contained corn oil verses canola oil, the animals whose diet included canola oil had fewer tumors and much smaller tumors on average.

While researchers will next attempt this same study on humans, researchers and nutritionists alike agree that only good can come from including more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

Overcoming Obesity in Today’s Society

Any way you look at it the statistics regarding obesity are unbelievable:

In the U.S., 55% of adults are overweight, nearly 25% are obese.

Each year there are approximately 280,000 deaths in the U.S. that can be attributed to obesity.

There is no longer any doubt that the most widespread and the largest threat to our health is being overweight or obese.

And while these statistics are shocking to most, there are still as many as 80 million people in the United States dealing with obesity.

What experts, like those at Prevention Magazine, are trying to get across to these millions of people who are dealing daily with this disease is that obesity is not going to cure itself overnight. There is not a magic pill that someone can take that will reverse the toll we have taken on our bodies over the years.

We, as a society, need to learn that losing weight and keeping that weight off is a commitment – a lifelong commitment – and something that won’t come easy to many people.

Weight loss is not a short term goal. Instead it is a long term lifestyle change that you must be ready to take on before you start any type of diet or fitness regimen.

Keep in mind there are plenty of support groups out there that will help you get you where you need to be as far as diet and fitness goals and most importantly: don’t give up!

How Fit Are You?

If you are looking to “get fit” in 2012, take these three self tests to find out how fit you are first!

1. How are your muscles? Do some push-ups. A 30-year old man should be able to 35 push-ups while a 30-year old woman should be able to do 45, while her knees are on the floor. For every decade after 30, the amount of push-ups decreases by 5 for each gender.

2. How is your flexibility? Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you, slightly apart. Extend your arms placing your one hand on top of your other hand, fingertips forward and reach for the space in between your feet. Women under the age of 46 should be able to reach at least two to four inches past your feet. Older women should be able to reach the soles of their feet. Men under the age of 46 should be able to reach the soles of their feet. Older men should aim to be within three to four inches of their soles.

3. What’s your heart rate? Begin by exercising for 18 minutes at 80 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate – for men, 220 minus your age; for women, 208 minus .82 times your age. Then exercise all out for three minutes. Check your pulse. Rest for two minutes and then check it again. Your heart rate should have dropped by at least 66 beats. The faster it drops the more fit you are.

Leap Into Leap Year!

Every four years we get to celebrate leap year, so why not leap into 2012 with 29 fun fitness and food tips to stay healthy all year long!

1. Make breakfast happen every day to keep your energy levels up and motivated throughout the morning!

2. Start off your morning with an 8 oz. glass of water before you have your coffee.

3. Snack on raisins to combat drowsiness.

4. Walking sideways burns 78% more calories than walking forward.

5. To increase body toning, cardiovascular fitness and burn more calories, walk uphill.

6. Blend equal portions of nonfat yogurt and your favorite salsa for a fat-free, low-calorie dressing for chicken, fish or salads.

7. One of the best ways to protect yourself during the cold and flu season is to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.

8. Walking on a rough but level track requires 50 percent more energy than walking on a paved road.

9. Your shoes should be replaced every 500 miles.

10. A weight gain of 11-18 pounds increases your risk of heart disease by 25 percent. More than 25 pounds and your risk goes up by 200 to 300 percent!

11. High protein/low carbohydrate diets don’t work in the long run. Instead follow a balanced food plan which includes foods from all of the food groups.

12. Park your car as far away from the entrance as possible so you can get in some extra fitness while running your daily errands.

13. Pack a lunch for work if you can’t find a restaurant that offers whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

14. Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way to your destination.

15. Use physical activity as a reward instead of food. For example, everyone goes ice skating for a good report card instead of out for pizza.

16. Join the local YMCA or health club.

17. Build an obstacle course in your basement or garage on a rainy day!

18. Dig and plant vegetables in a garden. Get your whole family in on the fun.

19. Take a nature hike.

20. Go to a driving range or enjoy a game of miniature golf.

21. Go camping where you can pitch a tent, fish, cut and stack firewood and hike.

22. Visit farms throughout the year where you can pick your own berries, apples and peaches.

23. Take a long walk or a jog on the beach.

24. Have fun in the snow… build a snowman, a snow fort, or make snow angels.

25. Rake up the leaves and then jump in them!!

26. Use a map and map out a course in your area.

27. Take everyone to the grocery store to pick out healthy meals and learn to read nutrition labels.

28. Enter to walk or run individually and in teams in local charity events.

29. Adopt a highway and keep it clean!

Three Benefits of Stability Ball Workouts

No matter what your fitness level, at some point, you are bored with your workout and looking for something new. However, getting a whole new routine or doing something completely different is a big step and takes lots of work. What if I told you that you could up the intensity of your current workout and see more results just by adding a stability ball? That’s exactly what trainers have been doing for years and the great news is that it works!

Anytime you add an element of stability to a workout, you engage the muscles differently and even add engaged muscles to certain exercises. Ever think your abs could get a great workout while you’re doing shoulder presses? The stability ball allows your body to work harder and more efficiently and you’ll end up with a body that is stronger, more balanced and a workout that is fun!

Here are 3 of the benefits of using a stability ball for workouts:

Core Strength

Everyone wants a flat belly but few people use the stability ball to strengthen and tighten the ab muscles. Yes, we know that diet is really what reveals your 6 pack but working the ab and back muscles on the ball can help you to sculpt those muscles so that they are ready to shine! When you do stability ball exercises like bicep curls, shoulder presses, crunches and even squats with the ball, your core muscles have to engage to keep you from rolling off the ball! This means that those muscles that you’d normally skip are getting a workout!

Balance & Posture

Balance and posture are something that we take for granted but you really can improve upon them. Learning to use your core muscles while sitting or leaning on the ball can help your body to learn to activate those stabilizing muscles when they are needed… Ever slipped on a patch of ice?! Proper posture is so boring, I know, but knowing that sitting up tall can make you look 10 pounds lighter is very exciting! Using the stability ball helps you learn proper posture which will make you look and feel better!


Doing the same old exercises can be boring for your brain and your body. Simply taking your existing routine and adding a stability ball to it can help to spice up your workout so you aren’t bored AND you get a harder workout! Remember, adding intensity isn’t always about adding more reps or weight, it can be something as simply as adding a stability ball!

These are just 3 benefits of using a stability ball for workouts. If you haven’t already, I suggest you give it a try. Stability balls are found in nearly every gym and most of the time, you’ll have a friend that has one you can borrow! I’ve been using stability balls for my own workouts, as well as to train clients for years with excellent results! I’ve even included it in Month 2 of the Ten Pound Cut Down workout program because I think it is such a great way to add intensity and achieve great results. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Amy Mac is a certified personal trainer from SDSU and NASM and has a B.S. from Purdue in OLS. She is the founder of, the host of the video podcast, Fit Life, is an Amazon Best-Selling Author and has been recognized by Shape Magazine as one of the Top Fitness Gurus to Follow on Twitter. She is also the co-founder of the health and fitness startup, .