Activ5 Health Tip: 3 Rules for Healthy Meal Prep


Dieters often shy away from meal prep as they associate it with spending hours in the kitchen cooking. However, your experience can be different once you know the right way to play your meals. By making smarter decisions you can save time, and set yourself up for a great and healthy week.

Planning your meals is important because:

  • It helps you follow your weight-management program
  • It’s efficient and saves time
  • It’s ideal to compliment and help you achieve your fitness goals

Trade in your old habits for new ones by applying these three must-do rules for successful meal prep.

1. Plan Your Meals to Fit Your Workout Program

One of the biggest mistakes dieters make during meal prep is not making smart meal choices that are suited for their fitness program. If your fitness goal is to build muscle strength, then your meals should reflect the appropriate ratio of proteins to carbs for the day. Plan your meals to complement your fitness target. Research or consult with a fitness professional ahead of time. This step does take time and effort, but the results are more than worth it.

Fitness Tip: To get stronger, incorporate at least 10 to 15 minutes of isometric exercises (static training) into your daily exercise routine.

2. Your Oven Saves Time — Use it for Meal Prep

Use your oven to prepare a variety of dishes with less effort than on the stove top. A good working oven lets you stack and time your meals as you carry out your normal activities of the day.

Great options include:

  • Baking casseroles
  • Roasting vegetables and meats
  • Broiling meats and seafood
  • Grilling meats, seafood, and vegetables
  • Steaming custards and puddings

Plan your meals the night before. Cook a large amount of meats and root vegetables, enough to last the week. In a baking pan, lay out your meats and vegetables for roasting, baking or broiling. Sprinkle on any spices you like.

Fitness Tip: Get toned while you wait. Do simple workouts like keeping your abdominals contracted while seated.

3. Divide Your Meals into Portion Sizes

A common misconception among dieters is that portion control is only important if you don’t exercise. Not true. To achieve weight loss, the calorie count is just as important as the type of workout you perform. Portion sizes should be established according to the amount of calories you need per day. This is an essential step in any weight loss plan.

Fitness Tip: Combine a fast workout with fitness technology, like a smartphone app to track your progress and make exercise fun. Together with your meal prep, your fitness goals will soon be realized.

Activ5 Health Tip: Is What We Eat That Important?


Thanks to Rachel de Caen for being our guest blogger and providing this excellent Activ5 Health Tip! You can find more great healthy recipes from Rachel at www.racheldecaen.com.

Is what we eat really that important?

Yes; quite simply it is the most important element in our lives that we can control completely.

Imagine your body is a petrol car. Instead of fuel at the pump you fill up with a different liquid; like water, oil or bleach.  We all know the car might work for a while, but the fuel will start to run out and the car will use the other liquid.  As a result the car stops functioning correctly to the point it no longer works as it did not have the correct fuel. 

Food is our fuel.  Everything we eat has a direct impact on our body and how it performs as a machine.

Our bodies need a certain amount fuel (calories) every day to create enough energy for essential functions.  In addition to these functions any movement we make requires additional fuel.  If we eat too much fuel so we have too much energy available our weight will increase as the body stores it as fat. If we eat too little fuel we use our fat reserves for our energy and we lose weight. If we eat just the right amount our weight remains the same.  This is the uncomplicated secret to weight loss, which is another blog altogether.

So a calorie is a calorie right?

Unfortunately no, not all calories are created equal.

Our bodies are much more demanding than this, they are not satisfied with just with a certain number of calories if we want them to perform at their absolute best. We are not just hungry for calories but for nutrients too.

If we fuel our body with 1000 calories made up of a can of coke, a cheeseburger and chips , or 1000 calories from a selection of fresh organic fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds it is obvious that we provide it with completely different things.  The burger and chip version is pretty poor whilst the fruit and vegetable version is full of a wide variety of nutrients.

Imagine your car has gone for a service.  Oil, brakes and water etc. are checked and “ticked” off a list once attended to.  The vitamins and minerals in the food we eat tick our body’s nutritional requirement list, so our brakes, oil and water are all as they should be.  If we eat the burger and chips on a regular basis we are definitely not servicing our bodies, our brakes might not function properly after a while and eventually these very brakes would fail, and thus we become ill.

So what should we eat?

There are so many different suggestions and the research is ongoing as to what really are the best foods to incorporate in our diet for optimal wellness.

Personally I eat a mostly plant based diet, if asked this is what I would advise. I realise that this is not for everyone so if you aim to work on increasing the volume of plants in your diet; and reducing the animal products then this is great. 

I eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. I would advise anyone taking the plant based route to ensure you research it fully and seek professional advice to ensure you can make the transition sustainable as the same fundamentals reply to ticking all the nutritional boxes when eating this way too !

If you are incorporating animals and animal products in your diet try to ensure these are as close to source as possible, grass fed and organic.  This is not always possible, the same goes for organic vegetables for a whole variety of reasons so just source the best produce that you can.

So if I eat well then my body will be operating at its best?

Not exactly…. Now we have got the food side of things clear, no matter how important it is this alone cannot make for optimal health. 

There are a few other things we need to pay attention to (another whole blog!)  Hydration, stress, sleep, and emotional health. Lastly but my no means least our bodies also need to move on a regular basis, this is what we were designed to do! It is preferable that in addition to general movement we also do some sort of weight training. This can be quite intimidating for many people or there are just too many barriers to doing so.  Activ5 has developed a little tool to help.  It is a mobile gym which works with your smart phone to provide short isometric workouts that really work. Combine three Activ5 workouts a day with some other form of movement with adequate water and quality food you are well on your way to optimal health! 

3 Foolproof Weight Loss Tips


Weight loss can be difficult to accomplish. However, you can increases your chances of lasting weight loss with regular exercise and these three foolproof weight loss tips:

1. Eat Less Sugar

Sugar is energy. You become overweight when you have too much stored energy weighing down your body. If you’re already full of stored energy, why add more?

Any sugar you consume and don’t immediately use is converted into fat reserves on your body. If you don’t add extra sugar, your body is forced to burn that stored fat. In other words, you begin to lose weight.

Give yourself the upper hand in your battle with obesity by consuming no sugar or very small amounts (10 grams or less) of sugar in any given meal.

2. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is helpful for weight loss in a few different ways.

First, it makes you feel fuller faster, so you don’t end up eating as much at each fiber-filled meal. This decreases your calorie intake overall, meaning fewer calories are going unused and being stored as fat.

Second, fiber allows your digestive tract to function at top efficiency, so it’s harder for your intestines to accumulate waste, for you to become constipated or for you to develop a hemorrhoid problem.

When your digestive system is functioning efficiently, your entire body benefits. Nutrients are broken down and absorbed more effectively, making your body less likely to get nutrient-deficient or dehydrated, which can lead to problems like sugar or salt cravings.

3. Guzzle Water

Drinking water is very much like having oil in your car. You can run that engine with low oil for a little while, but you’re going to have problems, and you’ll soon find that you lock the engine up completely.

Without adequate amounts of water, your body cannot function as well. You feel tired, heavy, sluggish and achy. Your skin, hair and nails can suffer, leaving you with uncomfortable, embarrassing problems like hair loss, itchy skin or brittle nails.

Worst of all, being dehydrated feels a lot like being hungry. So, you might grab a burger or a candy bar when what your body is really craving is a couple of bottles of water to drink. Not feeling well or looking good means you’re less likely to exercise, eat healthy and do other things that encourage weight loss.

When we don’t treat our bodies with care, it shows. Being overweight is a clear sign of this. Try using these three weight loss tips every day for a week, and see how much of a difference it makes to your mood, energy level and weight loss.

Activ5 Health Tip: Working Out on an Empty Stomach May Actually Be Better for You


Whether you are meeting work deadlines or looking after your kids, fitting an effective exercise routine into your day can be a challenge. That’s why ensuring your workouts burn as many carbs as possible is vital to making headway with losing weight. However, despite your best intentions, it can feel as if your weight never changes. Fortunately, there is a solution for people who struggle with exercise routines. When trying to stay fit, one of the best things you can do to is to eat nothing before you exercise. Despite what you’ve heard, working out on an empty stomach may actually be better for you!

It Releases Fat

When you eat prior to exercise you have relatively high levels of sugar and energy, which your body uses during the workout. The liver stores any remaining sugars as glycogen. Once the glycogen stores are full, the body makes fat cells.

However, during a fast, the body burns stored sugar and fat instead, while energy levels remain the same. This is why exercising before eating a meal is an effective way to shed fat levels and use up those excess stores. In other words, you burn more calories on an empty stomach, as fat stores are used as fuel to power the body. This simple feat of physiology, when applied to daily exercise, can make all the difference when carb counting and keeping fit. It can be hard at first with decreased energy during a workout. However, the more you do it the more accustomed to it your body becomes and is better able to use fat as fuel. Anyone can include this small change into a fitness routine in order to make a big difference.

Timing Is Beneficial

Working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach produces results.  Recently, researchers from the University of Bath tested the effects of exercise routines in the morning. Overweight but otherwise healthy men exercised each morning, both while fasting and after eating a meal. They found that the men who fasted burned more fat during exercise than those who ate a meal. This finding is significant for anyone who works out regularly but is still having trouble losing weight.

Is It in the Genes?

Another finding from the Bath study was that genes in the fat cells behaved differently depending on whether someone had fasted before exercise or not. In the group that fasted, the genes produced proteins to regulate blood sugar levels. These proteins contribute to a healthy metabolism within the body. By exercising while fasting, muscle cells and even brain neurons regenerate more often. After heavy lifting, energy levels need to be rebalanced in the body, so it’s important to eat after your workout. 

Activ5 can help you benefit from these findings as it is a portable fitness device meaning you don’t have to travel to the gym in the morning and can perform exercises at home. This is a powerful way of integrating an exercise routine into your daily schedule. When combined with fasting, it has the potential to really make a difference. By making the shift to an early morning exercise and working out before your first meal, you’ll exercise more effectively and be better able to maintain a healthy weight and physique.

Three Secrets to Making Fitness Habits


The majority of habits form naturally. Most people don’t go around deciding “I’m now going be into X!” and then magically incorporate it into their lives – especially if it hurts! This is why a lot of us aren’t great at forcing ourselves into a fitness routine.

So, what works? Tricking ourselves into a fitness routine by sneakily easing into it. Here’s how:

1) Do Not Set Goals

Goals are for people who already have the fitness habit. They are powerful things, but if you set them prematurely, goals will become your enemy. Forget the scale, the calories and the inches, and focus on one thing only: did you sweat today?

If so, make a dot on the calendar or use a fitness app to track the exercise – even if it’s just one push-up or a choosing a flight of stairs over the elevator. No minimum or maximum per week.

2) Get Curious, and Read

You’re doing it right now! Sweet.

This is so important: make a point of reading more fitness blogs or articles during your downtime. Read about success stories or the science behind muscle growth – whatever floats your boat. Be curious and interested; get your brain used to the topic before you ask your body to get involved!

Suggestions:

3) Form Mini Support Habits, One at a Time

Numbers 1 and 2 are actually examples of mini support habits. These are super-easy things that nudge you towards adopting a routine at some point in the future.

Succeeding at mini habits creates a little feedback loop in your brain. It proves that you can do a simple thing that’s good for you, and you’ll be more likely to try and do another thing (like sweating once a day). And another thing – and another – until one day you find yourself excited to commit to 20 minutes of cardio three times a week!

Suggestions:

  • Quit some kind of junk food (not your favorite!)
  • Do a simple desk exercise before the day starts at work
  • Make your own lunch when you can
  • If you’re successful at #2, then you’ll find a hundred more ideas on your own!

Try these three things for a month or so. Or, if you’re already keen to start with something a little more hands on, we’ve created exactly the right tool for your new habit. The Activ5 is a portable fitness device that lets you sneak five-minute workouts into your day (through the magic of isometric exercise!)

Good luck, and happy habit forming!

Weekend Recipes for Healthy Eating All Week


Weekend Recipes for Healthy Eating All Week

When faced with the prospect of cooking from scratch or grabbing something from a freezer case or drive-through, many people choose the most convenient option at the expense of nutrition. Set yourself up for healthy eating all week long by doing some prep work on the weekend. Suddenly, pulling something from your fridge or freezer will become the most convenient – and appealing – option.

Jar Salads

Packing salads into mason jars is super easy and will create an instant portable lunch perfect for healthy eating. Jar salads can be the perfect healthy lunch for combating the effects of sitting too long at your desk. Start by pouring a few tablespoons of dressing into the bottom of a clean jar. Add hearty veggies that won’t fall apart in the dressing, layer in your protein of choice, and fill the rest of the jar with leafy greens.

Some combinations to try:

  • Balsamic vinaigrette, carrots, beets, quinoa, goat cheese and spinach
  • Ranch dressing, corn, red peppers, black beans, pepitas and romaine lettuce
  • Peanut dressing, cucumber, carrot, cabbage, shredded chicken, cashews and kale

When you’re ready to eat, pour the salad into a bowl and mix it up. If you want to use perishable items like avocado, add them just before eating.

Soup

A big batch of soup will last you all week, or longer. Plus, you can adjust the ingredients you use depending on what you have on hand. To make your soup easy to reheat, ladle single servings of cooled soup into freezer bags, and freeze the bags on a cookie sheet. Grab a single serving to microwave at mealtime, or heat it up in a saucepan.

A few ideas to try:

  • Use precooked rotisserie chicken to make a quick and easy chicken soup. In a soup pot, pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and cook chopped onion, celery and carrots for a few minutes. Add a few quarts of chicken broth and let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, adding a few cups of shredded chicken in the last minutes of cooking.
  • Simmer chopped broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and onion in vegetable broth until the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to make the soup creamy, and add a handful of your favorite cheese for protein and flavor.

Frozen Burritos

Burritos freeze really well, and they make the perfect delivery system for healthy veggies and protein.

Combinations to try:

  • Scrambled egg, salsa and black beans
  • Turkey, cooked spinach and cheddar cheese
  • Spicy beef, refried beans and roasted peppers

Wrap your ingredients tightly in a tortilla, and then wrap each burrito in foil and freeze. Reheat them in the microwave or oven.

Sources:

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-pack-the-perfect-salad-in-a-jar-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-192174

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/quick-chicken-noodle-soup

http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/how-to-make-frozen-burritos

5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit While Beating the Heat this Summer


5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit While Beating the Heat this Summer

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Happy Summer Solstice everyone! Now that it is officially summer, it can be hard to find the motivation to be active and eat right when it is sweltering outside. Here are some ideas from Activ5 on how to stay healthy and cool during the summer months.

1. Get up early and work out. We realize that this may be good advice year round, but when the temperatures get up there, it is imperative to start early in the day. Go for an early morning run or do some yoga in the morning sun! As an added bonus, morning exercise can leave you feeling energized all day![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3900″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3901″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3902″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]2. Move your workout to the water! If you are lucky enough to have access to a pool, river, or lake, don’t just jump in to cool off – hang out for a while and try one of these water fitness ideas! Exercising in water is a great low impact way to work your whole body and it can be super fun too![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3903″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3904″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3905″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″][vc_column_text]3. Try some no-cook recipes. Is it just too hot to turn on the stove? Don’t go for take out that is low in nutrients and high in artificial ingredients and sugars, try some healthy no-cook dinners instead! If you do need to use some heat, use the grill. It is a great time of year for fresh garden fruits and veggies, but if you don’t have access to one yourself, try your local CSA or Farmers Market. You may be surprised at how inspired you are when you have fresh ingredients to cook with![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][vc_single_image image=”3906″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3907″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3908″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3909″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3911″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3913″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]4. Smoothies, juice and water, oh my! It is vitally important to stay hydrated when it is hot out (and the rest of the time too)! While it may be tempting to grab an iced coffee or a cold beer, remember that those will actually dehydrate you. Try fruit infused water instead! Or some fresh juice is another great option, but make sure that you pick one that is not loaded with sugar. A nice cool smoothie can be a great refreshing breakfast when you are in a hurry and it is much better for you than sugary cereal! Try making individual smoothie baggies with fresh fruit and greens for the whole week and freezing them![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3914″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]5. Be active in your free time! Don’t stay cooped up inside all weekend, get outside and make use of the nice weather! It will be cooler if you get out of the city or go to a park away from the asphalt. Play lawn games or sports with friends. Go hiking – find a waterfall or lake as you destination and as an added bonus you get to cool off when you get there! After work, don’t just camp out in front of the TV, take advantage of the pleasant evenings and go take a stroll with friends or loved ones![vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”3916″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Activbody’s Top Summer Time Recipes & Ingredients


Activbody’s Top Summer Time Recipes & Ingredients

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]As we have mentioned before, fitness is only one part of a healthy lifestyle – nutrition is another vital aspect to overall health and wellness. During the summer, when fresh fruits and veggies abound, it is pretty easy to get inspired in the kitchen! Too hot to cook inside? Take dinner outside and cook it on the grill!

Speaking of grilling, kebabs are a great summer meal! You can load them up with meat and veggies, cook them on the grill to keep the house cool, and there are endless styles and flavor combination just waiting for you to try!

The top foods that just scream summer are, in our opinion, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and watermelon. Here are some of our favorite healthy recipes that incorporate these summer foods![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3879″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]cucumberCucumber
Light, refreshing, and hydrating – cucumbers are a versatile snack or side in the summer.A great go-to summer salad is the Cucumber, Onion, and Tomato Salad (below center). It is super simple and always delicious![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3880″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3881″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3882″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]If you are looking for a light and tasty appetizer or party food, try the Vietnamese Spring Rolls (above left/right). Using a rice noodle wrapper you can fill these with whatever fresh veggies you have (but we highly recommend adding some cucumber), and you can pair them with a variety of sauces (but our favorite is spicy peanut sauce!)[vc_row][vc_column width=”5/6″][vc_column_text]Zucchini
If you have ever tried growing your own zucchini, you know that one plant produces more food than one person and a few horses could eat without bursting. This is probably why there are so many creative recipes for zucchini out there. Here are a few of our favorite things to do with it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][vc_single_image image=”3884″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]Grill it! A great addition to a kebab, you can also just marinate or lightly cover with pesto and Parmesan and throw it directly on the grill!

Bake it! Make a zucchini bread or simple baked zucchini chips.

Pan fry it! Zucchini Fritters might be one of the tastiest ways to use extra zucchini and they make a great party appetizer![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3885″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3886″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3887″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3888″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3890″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Tomato
Well the aforementioned Cucumber, Tomato, Onion salad, of course falls under this heading too, but if you are looking for a full meal, try Tomato, Basil Pasta! Using fresh tomatoes and basil will really make the flavors pop![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3891″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3892″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Watermelon
Like cucumber, watermelon is a juicy, refreshing summer treat! Looking for something cool and light for dessert? Try this easy and delicious Watermelon Sorbet!Another crossover recipe, these Watermelon Cucumber Salad Cups are great for a party combining savory with sweet![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3893″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3889″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]Remember, always try to incorporate as many natural colors into you food, because, when it comes to fruits and veggies, more colors almost always means more nutrients! Eat the rainbow! Here are our two favorite summer rainbow foods that just happen to also be kebabs![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3894″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3895″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]Bon Appétit!