Healthy Living

Brain Boosting Lunch Ideas


Last week we reviewed some tips for creating ergonomic workspaces and the associated somatic benefits. This week’s blog post is inspired from another Washington Post Article that suggests certain foods that boost brain-power. In addition to making sure you are moving throughout your workday, aslo making sure you fuel your body with foods that provide mental clarity as opposed to fog can create a healthier and less stressful workplace experience.

Foods to Eat More

DHA – Coldwater Fish Oils

Think mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, and salmon. DHAs support brain development, reduce brain inflammation, and may aid stress management.


Think chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, avocado and again salmon! Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, facilitate neurotransmitter activity.


Think blueberries, purple grapes, raspberries, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, nuts, and green tea. Antioxidants strengthen the blood vessel walls in the brain and help mitigate oxidative stress which spikes cortisol levels.


Think more viscous blood flow = less brain fog.

Foods to Eat Less

Sugar and caffeine, which of course are the two things you are most likely to reach for when you are feeling stuck in a rut. Remember these two foods may help very temporarily, but the crash following will leave you feeling worse off than before.


How Posture in the Work Place Effects your Workout


This Washington Post Article provides some great tips for easily creating a more ergonomic work space. Generally, the primary benefit of an ergonomic work environment is that it assists workers in correcting posture which prevents the types of aches pains which tend to nag people, such as neck, back, shoulder, and hip pain. In conjunction with reduced aches and pains, improved posture also facilitates more biomechanical efficiency.

“One of the things that separates elite athletes from the rest of us is that they move efficiently, Fidler says. Top athletes can generate twice the force with the same body. Or they might use half the energy to stand up straight. In other words, they can use the remaining energy for the task at hand, such as winning an NBA title.”

Achieving postural integrity and biomechanical efficiency are two of the core tenets of Pilates. In addition to a Pilates class, You can check their website and try these tips for creating a more ergonomic work environment:

  • Sit/lean back in chair, remind yourself to maintain a lumbar curve.
  • Keyboard placement should allow for straight wrists and elbow at sides while typing
  • Place monitor so that it allows good neck posture, not too high, not too low, straight ahead. Hint, most laptops sit too low, shortening the anterior neck muscles and lengthening the posterior neck muscles.
  • Move around! Don’t stay in one position for too long.

The 5 Primary Roles of Muscles


In my previous post there was brief mention of agonist versus stabilizing muscles. When referring to agonist and stabilizing muscles we are referring to the type of action the muscle performs. When it comes to this level of functionality, there are five primary roles that are referred to:

  • Agonist
  • Accessory
  • Antagonist
  • Stabilizer
  • Neutralizer


Agonists are the primary muscles responsible for movement via isotonic or isometric concentric contractions. Isotonic contractions create a movement, isometric contractions maintain a position. A concentric contractions refers to a muscle that is producing power as it’s fibers shorten versus eccentric contractions where a muscle produces power as it’s fibers lengthen.

Example: The hamstring isotonically and concentrically contracts to flex the knee joint.


Accessory muscles assist agonist muscles.

Example: The quadricep is an agonist knee extensor and an accessory hip flexor.


Antagonist perform the opposite action of the agonist.

Example: If the hamstring is the agonist for knee flexion, it acts antagonistically to the quadricep as it eccentrically slow down knee extension. Think about what it feels like to slowly rise up from a squat.


Stabilizers prevent movement of a joint, usually via an isometric contraction

Example: the quadriceps may stabilize the knee in an extended position of permit plantar flexion of the ankle. While standing, rise up on to your tippy toes, do you feel how your quadriceps work to stabilize your knees.


Neutralizers prevent a motion, so another specific motion can occur. Unlike stabilizing muscles which act on joints, neutralizers act of other muscles.

The example found at is fundamentally important: The biceps can flex the elbow and supinate the forearm. If only elbow flexion is wanted, the supination component must be ruled out. Therefore, the pronator teres, which pronates the forearm, would contract to counteract the supination component of the biceps, and only elbow flexion would occur. Neutralizers act to cancel out an unwanted movement. Try doing some biceps curls in your palms facing up versus facing down, notice the difference.

Stabilizers and Neutralizers both use co-contraction to prevent motion and have an antagonistic relationship.


Pilates not painkillers the best cure for backache


According to the World Health Organization the lifetime prevalence of low back pain is 60-70%. This is significant. Unfortunately, for too many people the first intervention for back pain are NSAIDs. While these drugs may help temporarily, they do little to address the underlying issues that cause back pain. A Sunday Times article recently reviewed a study that suggests that the most effective treatments for back pain are exercise and psychological therapy, with exercise being used to treat the underlying condition and psychological therapy used to assist with pain management.

“Anti-inflammatory pills such as ibuprofen are widely used as a first choice for patients with lower back pain. However, scientists found that they made so little difference that most people would not notice the effect. Exercise is usually recommended instead, which for some patients could include Pilates, yoga or stretching.”

Read more here.

How to Minimize Cramping


Now that the weather is warming up (FINALLY) you might find yourself more prone to cramping, especially if you’re prone to sweating lots, such as myself. Here are some tips to minimize cramping:

  1. Audit your hydration.
  2. Check your electrolytes.
  3. Massage, myofascial release, i.e., get on that foam roller.
  4. Hydrate every 15 minutes; that’s 3 times during and hour long class.

Read more details here.

Tips for exercising in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s



  • “Exercise in intense bursts at 80 to 95 percent of your max, interspersed with recovery pauses to allow your heart rate to return to normal.”
  • “Aim to exercise five times a week with one day reserved for high intensity cardio (at least 45 minutes).”
  • “Your exercise regimen should also include balance and flexibility training.”


  • “Continue training with weights three to four times a week, and up the cardio to five times a week, reserving one day for rest.”
  • “In terms of strength training, remember quality over quantity. Focus on doing the movements slowly and with control.”
  • “Maintaining or improving flexibility will be crucial in the years ahead.”


  • “Focus on saving your back by strengthening your core muscles and keeping good posture. Yoga and Pilates are helpful for both.”
  • “You will also need additional recovery time after a hard workout and a dose of supplements (click over here for details about the latter), so go easy — aim to exercise more frequently but with a moderate level of intensity.”
  • “Ideally, get in a half-hour of cardio every day.”


  • “Weight training is a must, ideally three times a week, alternating between upper and lower body muscle groups and using light weights.”
  • “Incorporate balance exercises and stretch, stretch, stretch.”
  • “Aim for three days a week of moderately intense cardio.”

Read more here.


In case of any emergency situation during exercises call Coast2Coast First Aid/CPR – Scarborough.


Make More Time – Become a Morning Person


In theme with our recent articles on making time for exercise in our busy lives, is a recent Huffington Post article with 6 tips to become a morning person. If unlike myself, you don’t have a toddler who wakes you up between 5:00am – 6:00am, these tips may come in really handy.

  1. Calculate your ideal bedtime.
  2. Identify your stay-awake triggers.
  3. Create a morning to-do list.
  4. Reward yourself.
  5. Exercise
  6. Ask yourself, “Why do you want to do this?”

Read more here.

Seattle, the 8th Healthiest City in the Nation


According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Seattle is the 8th healthiest city in the Nation. Our neighbors to the south, Portland rank just above as the 7th healthiest city and Washington D.C. ranks as the top healthy city in the nation.

According to the index Seattle can improve in the following areas:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Quit Smoking
  • Build more swimming pools
  • Build more rec centers

Read all the index component here

Another Benefit of Mini-Workouts


Exercising can be really intimidating, especially for populations that have poor health habits, lack of exercise aside. However more research is showing that even a little exercise can improve health outcomes for these populations. One such population are smokers. A study that followed nearly half a million Taiwainese smokers over 12 years found that smokers who exercised for just 15 minutes per day were 55% more successful at quitting smoking and 44% less likely to relapse. Just 15 minutes!!

Other similar studies have found:

  • Smokers who are exercises 30-minutes per day increased their life expectancy by 3.7 years
  • Ex-smokers who exercised 30-minutes per day increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years and reduced their risk of death by 43%

Read more details here

30 minutes sessions at Bodytonic range from $40-45 per session.

The Power of 30-minute Work Outs


“We were surprised when we found out that the 71 minutes a week not only prevented a loss of fitness,” Church says, “but it actually resulted in an increase in fitness.”

One of the biggest obstacles to exercise adherence is lack of time. Now that I am mother to an on-the-go toddler I understand this so much more than ever. Juggling family time, work obligations, your children’s health and education needs, plus your own health and self-care needs can sometimes seem like an impossible scheduling dilemma. However there is good news; some researchers have found that your workouts don’t necessarily need to be an hour plus in duration to receive health benefits. The study referenced here followed a group of women who exercised for 25 minutes, 3 times per week.  At the end of this study all of these women saw improved cardiovascular fitness and decreased blood pressure.

Are you among the many people who have a hard time fitting in your work outs. If so, consider trying 30-minute Private Training Sessions at Bodytonic! Not only are these sessions easier to fit into your busy lives, they are also easier on your wallets.

30 minutes sessions at Bodytonic range from $40-45 per session.

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