Think Before You Breathe

Have you ever wondered why you get so winded when doing long intervals of cardio? It may not be because you aren’t in shape, but rather that you aren’t breathing properly.

Here is a test: Do something to get your heart rate up, like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or whatever it takes to get you huffing and puffing. Do this until you start to feel winded. When you stop, place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. Take a few breaths and monitor which hand seems to be moving more. If you noticed your chest-hand moving significantly more than your abdomen-hand, then you are like the rest of us chest-breathers out there who have been breathing incorrectly for years. If you noticed your abdomen-hand moving more, stop reading this and go celebrate with a cookie.

Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City, NY says every time you breathe in, “your belly should fill up like a balloon.” She says that chest breathing causes your shoulders to tense up, wasting energy. (I know I chest breathe, because my shoulders and neck are always sore after a run.)

Thankfully, there is a reasonably easy way to tighten and tone muscles, while learning how to belly breathe. The solution: Pilates. This popular form of exercise has been known for helping control the breathing while strengthening the core. Even 2004 Olympic marathoner Colleen de Reuck said her twice a week Pilates routine has led her to better breathing while pounding on the pavement.

Belly breathing can help a runner push through the tough stuff, like hills.

So if you did the test above and found that you are a chest breather, but don’t know if you’re feeling Pilates, try this neat tip posted by a commenter at the bottom of the article.

“I am a clarinet player, and this is how they teach you to breathe (belly breathing, that is) when starting a wind instrument. I carried this over to my running about a year ago, and boy if it doesn’t make a HUGE difference. If you’re having a difficult time belly breathing, practice breathing in deeply “saying” the following vowel sounds: “Ohhh, Ahhhhh, Eeeee”. This helps fill up the lungs form the bottom (oh) middle (ah) and top (ee) and helps you distinguish the difference. I hope every distance runner gives this a shot if they aren’t already!”

Healthy Tip of the Day: If you feel you turn into a total couch potato when you get home from work or school, try slipping straight into a pair of running or walking shoes. You won’t feel as comfortable plopping down onto the couch if you have shoes on and will be more likely to feel like you have something left to do. Don’t forget to put those shoes to good use and head out for a walk, though!

If it helps, keep your shoes right next to the couch so you have to look at them before you decide to sit down.

[For the full article on breathing techniques]

Food Journal

After my mini-vacation, I had decided I would stop using the My Fitness Pal app on my iPad and just start using better judgment. Apparently this was a huge mistake.

Three days into my new calorie counting-free lifestyle, I began to see a dramatic increase in my over-the-sink nibbling habits. I’d grab a handful of granola to munch while I waited for dinner to finish and by the time I’d sit down to eat, I’d be full. Not wanting to waste food, I’d eat the dinner I had prepared and then have dessert! That all being said, I’ve decided to start counting (ahem, monitoring) my intake again, as I’ve learned I clearly can’t be trusted. As I’ve said before, I have decided to up my intake due to my running, but I have to get stop this right now!

What are the benefits of food journaling?

According to Livestrong.com, the following are just a few of the benefits of keeping a food journal:

Track Calories. A food diary provides you with the ability to track your daily caloric intake. Use calorie count charts in books or online to note calories on a handwritten food diary or opt to simply input foods into a program that provides you with nutritional information. You may find that you are consuming too many or too few daily calories for effective weight loss or maintenance. According to Jack Hollis, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s Center for Health Research in the August issue of the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine,” the act of tracking food eaten leads to lower calorie intake.

Recognize Eating Patterns. Include when you ate and how you felt at the time in your food journal. This can help you become aware of and correct patterns of emotional eating, according to 3FatChicks.com. A diet journal can help you to recognize when you eat or are apt to snack or binge. You may also realize that you’re skipping meals or not eating frequently enough.

Track Your Progress. Over time, your food journal can help you to see the positive changes you’ve made in your diet and recognize progress toward goals, recommends WeightLossMoms.com. Use your diary to recognize successes with better food choices and healthier eating habits. If you are struggling with a weight loss plateau, this can provide you with motivation and positive feedback.

Share Information. Share your food diary with your health care provider if you are discussing issues of weight or health, suggests WeightLossMoms.com. This can be especially helpful if you have medical conditions affected by diet, like diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease. If you are struggling with weight loss, a food diary may help your doctor to recognize patterns or suggests appropriate tests.

As much as I’ve fantasized about living a calorie counting-free life, the “food baby” I’ve started to carry around is starting to wear on me. Even though I’m active, it simply isn’t enough for me. Standing just barely at 5’3 ½”, (gotta add the half) my small frame doesn’t know what to do with three extra handfuls of granola, so my thighs have been graciously taking on the load.

In closing, I’d like to salute you tall, slender ladies out there with jack-rabbit speed metabolisms, because even though you may be able to eat more pizza than me, you’ll always have boat feet.

Paris Hilton and her size 11 tootsies. (Photo courtesy of celebrities.ninemsn.com.au)

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Going back to my trusty Fitness Pal application. May it bring me a flat stomach and slimmer thighs.

Repeat Offender

**This post was intended for publication 8-26-11
 This week I’ve not only eaten out three (soon to be four) different times, but after tonight, I will have eaten at two of the restaurants twice! Lira and Muriale’s can have my wallet!

On Monday I met with two of my dear friends from high school at Muriale’s in Fairmont. We spent nearly two hours catching up and somehow managed to turn down dessert. After dinner, I ran to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for an easy cookie recipe I picked up on PB Fingers. I needed a fast recipe because the goods had to be ready for work the next day. I used confetti cake mix and dumped white chocolate chips in to make a ridiculously sweet treat.

Box Cake Cookies:

  • 1 box of cake mix
  • ¼ cup of oil
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 egg

On Wednesday, I had plans to meet one of my other friends from high school at the Morgantown restaurant Lira. She brought a mutual friend, so we decided to get a variety of the tapas style dishes they serve. We got brie cheese purses, cheese fondue, pork tips with brown rice, eggplant parmesan, pierogies, and a large Caesar salad to split. It sounds like a lot, but the portions are perfect. We each had a bite and felt completely satisfied by the end. I also love this place because the menu is so diverse. Where else can you find zucchini ratatouille, Hungarian meatballs, and Belgian-style mussels on the same menu? They also earn points for putting Mint Julep on their cocktails list!

Today for lunch, it was back to Muriale’s to celebrate my birthday with my parents and my boyfriend. They were kind enough to drive up from their home in Roanoke, WV and my bf from Morgantown just to have lunch with me. We pigged out and I went back to work with full gut. Now I’m gearing up for my next big meal back at Lira with the bf solo. I’m not even sure what I’ll get, but I know it will be delicious.

Photo Courtesy of Women's Health via Yahoo.

Since its Friday, I’m not sure I’ll be posting anything new. I’ve got major cleaning to do and hope to have a little time to prepare a delicious Zucchini and Spinach Gratin to have for lunch next week. With you I’ll leave the Yoga Pose of the Week.

Namaskarasana or “Prayer Squat”:

  1. From standing, squat down until your tailbone hovers above the ground.
  2. Place elbows on knees and bring hands to prayer position.
  3. Close eyes, if possible, and breathe 4-8 deep breaths.

This position is great for opening the hips, improves balance, and helps with concentration.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Allowing myself to indulge all day today in whatever birthday treats I want. (Chocolate covered fruit for breakfast, anyone?)

Trail VS Treadmill

When I get off work, I’m usually either plotting a scheme to get out of my workout or I’m trying to decide between the treadmill and the trail. Both are equally close to my house and require equal amount of driving or chatting and outfit changing. I feel like I drive myself crazy trying to decide between the two and almost always end up talking myself out of going all together. This is why I’ve created my very own Decision Tree to aid in the decision-making process. I started by making a handy Pro/Con list (see below) and then completed a detailed analysis of each to help determine which paths to create. It actually took more time than I had planned, but it forced me to think about each route in great detail.

                           Pros                                                                                      Cons
M Trail – nature, fresh air, animal sightings PC Trail – dirt and rocks getting in my shoes
P Treadmill – bathroom/water cooler accessible PE Treadmill – constant 75 degree temperature
TPC Trail – better on muscles for 5K training C Trail – bugs (I’m a mouth breather)
P Treadmill – monitors speed, distance, etc CM Treadmill – crowded at times
CP Trail – less distracting CM Trail – crowded at times
MC Treadmill – television view and iPad friendly CM Treadmill – running in place
M Trail – great for running with a friend T Trail – time constraints (No running after dark!)
P Treadmill – good for working on stride C Treadmill – odorous gym-goers
T Trail – less packing involved E Trail – potential for attacker or creeper encounters
PEC Treadmill – access to other machines/weights EC Treadmill – manual speed/incline adjustments
**E Trail – possible Bigfoot encounter **E Trail – possible Bigfoot encounter

M = mood   P = performance   T = time   C = concentration   E = energy levels

**Can I outrun Bigfoot?

As you can see, I have quite an extensive and diverse list. On top of this list, I had to carefully consider other contributing factors, such as mood, weather (not listed), and energy levels. For example, if the forecast gives me around 30 to 40 minutes before a storm or bad weather is supposed to hit, I must examine my energy levels to ensure I don’t bite off more than I can chew. (This rarely happens since I usually keep my cardio between 30 and 35 minutes.) I also tried to factor in trail location. I usually run on the one near my house, however some days I like to hit my all-time favorite spot on Goshen Road. On these occasions, running plans must be made the day before, as this trail is on my route home from work. This requires changing at my work facility and packing extra water.

So here is my finished product. Maybe it will help some of you decide between a run indoors and a run in the elements.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: My healthy choice today actually doubled as my delicious choice of the day (thus far). I tried an Amy’s Kitchen Spinach and Feta hot pocket and loved every bite. (I had a picture but forgot to save it.) If you find yourself struggling to find healthy, vegetarian options that are quick, easy, and microwave friendly, try anything from the Amy’s Kitchen collection.

“We didn’t set out to become the nation’s leading natural frozen food brand. All we wanted to do was create a business that would allow us to earn a living by providing convenient and tasty natural vegetarian meals for people like ourselves, who appreciated good food, but were often too busy to cook “from scratch.” -Rachel and Andy Berliner of Amy’s Kitchen

Also, if you are interested, their daughter, Amy, has a great blog I follow. Check it out!

Back From the O to the H

Well I’m back from Cincinnati, although this entry would have been a little more interesting had I written it on Monday like I had originally intended, but I digress. I should actually clarify that I wasn’t in Cincinnati, but rather at the Western & Southern tennis tournament in the smaller town of Mason, Ohio, just north of Cin City. (See what I did there?) Silliness aside, I really do love visiting this town every year for the tournament. It’s got a nice selection of restaurants, has friendly natives, and for those who aren’t into tennis, a few other attractions.

  • King’s Island Amusement Park
  • The Grizzly 18-hole golf course
  • Outlet stores within 30 minutes
  • Several pubs
  • Mason Arts Festival (held once a year)
Although these attractions sound great, Alex and I were there strictly for the tournament. We had tickets to Thursday’s night match, Friday’s day and night match, and Saturday’s night match. We enjoyed the night matches much more, as it was far less hot and humid. Plus, we hate the sun! Our first night match was Roger Federer against James Blake.

Roger Federer (3)

James Blake (63)

Federer finished this guy off with a score of  6-4 6-1. The next match we attended was on Friday afternoon. Rafael Nadal went head-to-head with Mardy Fish, but sadly he lost  6-3 6-4.

Rafael Nadal (2)

Mardy Fish (8)

The evening match on Friday was between Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils, which ended with Djokovic winning   3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Gael Monfils (7)

Novak Djokovic (1)

On Saturday evening, we caught  Maria Sharapova beating Vera Zvonareva  2 – 6 6 – 3 6 – 3. Not only was I completely blown away by Sharapova’s power, but that she was so thin. Oh and did I mention practically 6’1″?

Maria Sharapova (4)

Vera Zvonareva (2)

Finally we ended our trip with my all time favorite player, Jelena Jankovic playing Andrea Petkovic. She whooped her butt with a score of  3-6 6-1 6-3.

Andrea Petkovic (9)

Jelena Jankovic (13)

We had a blast in Cincinnati, but I was definitely ready to get home to my babies!

Don't we look like we're having a blast?!

For the rest of my photos, check my Flickr account.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: I loaded up on veggies and hummus at lunch so I wouldn’t snack the rest of the day. It worked!

Heading to Cincinnati

Well today is the end of the week for me. I’m heading off to Cincinnati tomorrow with Alex for the Cincinnati Tennis Tournament we go to every year. This year will be a treat, because the women are playing there as well. It will also be a treat because we got night match tickets, so we won’t have to deal with the heat…unless someone awesome is playing. 🙂

Trip excitement aside, I met my 39 mile goal and have already set up a new distance and date. By September 20th, I’d like to be at 75 miles. This will bring my distance to Rome, NY to 390 miles. I’m falling a little behind schedule, so I hope to pick things up later this fall.

Since today is technically my blogging Friday, I’ll leave you with the Yoga Move of the Week:

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  1. Lie on your belly while your head rests on your lower arms.
  2. Raise your forehead, look upwards and stretch your hands backwards. Let your weight rest on your chest.
  3. The head falls a little backwards towards your back and the backward movement proceeds from the neck and the chin. Move your belly further backward as if someone is pulling your arms. The weight is more and more shifted towards the belly and the lower back does the real work.
  4. If you cannot raise your chest any further, put your hands and arms next to your chest on the mat without losing the bend. Stretch your arms so that they stand perpendicular on the floor and at the same time turn your arms a little inward. Relax your lower back and bear your weight with your arms.
  5. The buttock muscles remain relaxed during the exercise. Move your chest further upwards with every breathing out. Do this in a relaxed way instead of using force. You can tilt your head back. The shoulders are broad in front and the shoulder blades remain low.
This pose helps relieve stress and is great for stretching the shoulders, back, and chest.
My Healthy Choice of the Day: Spending 20 minutes warming up on the elliptical instead jumping right into my strength training.
I’ll also leave you with a picture of my deliciously green lunch today.

Leftover Zucchini and Spinach Gratin with cucumber slices and roasted broccoli left me full and focused.

Give Your Salad Some Love

Salad can be as boring or as exotic as you want it to be. I personally prefer salad with a little more excitement, but that’s only because I’m a dull person who gets her kicks from food. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

  • Greek
  • Tomato Cucumber
  • Ecuadorian Avocado
  • Strawberry and Spinach
  • Caesar
  • Asian Chicken Salad

Like most, I too gag at the thought of choking down dry lettuce with a few croutons and a handful of shredded cheese. I need some substance! So for those of you who are trying to get on board with salads, but don’t know where to start, allow these ideas (courtesy of Women’s Health magazine) to guide you to a better “rabbit food” experience.

Load up your salad and kiss tiny portions goodbye.

  1. Get creative with your base. Lettuce isn’t the only way to go when tossing together a salad. In fact, although healthy, lettuce falls behind dark, leafy greens such as spinach when it comes to nutritional value. In the mood for zesty? Try arugula!
  2. Pump up the protein. Add some lean protein, such as chicken or fish, to your salad to help stay fuller longer. Beans and tofu are also a great source for those who abstain from meat.
  3. “Taste the rainbow.” Get creative and try to incorporate each color of the rainbow. Throw together some spinach, strawberries, blueberries, tangerine slices, purple cabbage, and drizzle with a little lemon juice and some kind of vinaigrette dressing. Yum!
  4. Toss in something soft. Cheese is the perfect way to give variety and texture to your salad. A little goat or feta cheese is a perfect way to add tang to a dull salad.
  5. Fire up the flavor. Spicy, tart, or sweet flavors can really make a boring salad come to life. Short of supplies? Grab the black pepper shaker and let it fly!

For more tips and ideas, http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/salad-tips?cm_mmc=Dose-Newsletter-_-656680-_-08042011-_-readon.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful, EASY recipe I found while searching for a meal to bring in as my Spanish presentation when I was in college. My roommates at the time tried it before I took it in and agreed that it was pretty tasty.

If college taught me anything it was that avocado pits have no place in a garbage disposal.

INGREDIENTS

2 avocados, diced in medium-sized cubes

2 medium tomatoes, diced the same size

*½ red onion, finely chopped

*1 ½ lemon, juice of

1 or 2 tsp of salt

3 tbsp cold water or olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dice tomatoes and avocados and gently toss together. Be careful not to mash the avocado.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the chopped onion, 1 tsp of the salt, lemon juice, and water or oil together. Taste and add additional salt of needed.
  3. Pour mixture over tomatoes and avocados and serve plain or over rice.

*I find that ½ red onion and 1 ½ lemons is too strong, so adjust the ingredients according to your personal tastes. I usually stick with a little more than ¼ of a red onion and 1 lemon.

1 serving has 180.5 calories and the recipe serves 4.

Healthy Choice of the Day: I had 1 cup of broccoli and 1 cup of zucchini for lunch instead of my usual cottage cheese and pita. Immediately negated when I posted the picture below.

A little throwback to my freshman year.

Roasting My Monday Away

As some of you may know, I’m going on vacation very soon, so I need to clear out the fridge. I have a habit of eating the same foods over and over, yet buying new veggies whenever I make a grocery run. Since I go every two weeks, I usually eat all of convenient stuff first and then realize I have fresh veggies rotting away in my refrigerator. Well not this time!

As soon as I got home from the store, I sat down with my receipt and started researching recipes. I found this Zucchini and Spinach Gratin on Simply Recipes and knew I had to make it ASAP. Not only did it look amazing, but required very little ingredients, which is always a bonus for me.

I decided to split this recipe in half so I wouldn't have too much food.

After I finished the zucchini dish, I still had close to 3/4 of the zucchini left. (This is another one of the giants from my neighbor back home.) I cut the remaining half into chunks and roasted them with Parmesan cheese and garlic. Of course I had to have something to go with this dish as well, so I went with some roasted broccoli.

For those of you with kids who despise all things green, roasting virtually any veggie with a little cheese is a sure-fired way to get them to eat up.

Finally, the roasting ended with some delicious almonds. This is probably Alex’s favorite snack I make and it takes less than eight minutes! We’ve tried the pre-roasted almonds from just about any nut company you can imagine and we always find that freshly roasted, plain almonds take the cake.

The smell this snack gives your home is unbelievable.

Joking, obviously.

After the roasting was finished, I sat down to enjoy the last hour of the reality show Bachelor Pad. Sometimes I just need a little trashy television to pick up my Monday. Of course my beautiful cat Karen didn’t find as much pleasure in the show as I did.

I'm so done with Vienna.

Well, sorry this entry is such a bust, but I promise I’ll have something better tomorrow. Here is a hint: Salad. You’re hooked, right?

Healthy Choice of the Day: At the Olive Garden, I opted for salmon instead of ravioli.

Unhealthy Choice of the Day: I skipped my workout to come home and cook.

Healthy Crab Cakes

[Disclaimer for the following photos]

 Well my camera lens is officially busted. A few weeks ago I noticed it sticking a bit when I zoom, so I decided to try to twist whatever was in there out. Unfortunately, by doing so, I ended up knocking a piece of the “guts” of the thing back into the thingamabob. (I’m definitely not technically trained.) So I’m going to try to see if someone can fix it without sending it away. In the meantime, I’m stuck using my Quantaray for a Nikon AF on my Nikon D40X. Perish the thought.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the blog Peanut Butter Fingers. I found it through a recipe on Women’s Health.com and got hooked within minutes. I started back at the beginning of her writings and have only made it to February of 2010 so far. She’s a SERIOUS blogger! From reading her blog, I’ve been inspired to get back to my roots from Living Well’s early days. I used to post photos of recipes I was working on, but moved away from that when I was shifting my focus. Well now, as George Costanza would say, “I’m back, baby.”

The salad that accompanied my sandwich below.

Today I had a leftover crab cake from a meal I recently made and decided to make a wonderful sandwich out of it. I used a PB Fingers inspiration, Arnold’s Sandwich Thins, low-fat tartar sauce, spinach leaves, and a few grape tomatoes to create this perfect Friday lunch. I paired it with some leftover cucumber and tomato salad and some cannellini beans. It was so good and since I used an Ellie Krieger recipe for the cakes, healthy too. My lunch yesterday was equally healthy and delicious. I had a Chobani pineapple Greek yogurt with Kashi Go Lean cereal and two Back to Nature crackers with a Laughing Cow Swiss cheese wedge. A coworker had turned me on to Chobani and highly recommended the pineapple. It was literally one of the best flavors I’ve ever had. For dessert, I’ve been opting for my Stash chocolate hazelnut tea instead of my usual Hershey kiss. So far, I feel good about my choices. I’ve also made the choice to increase the number of calories I’m allowing myself daily. The running is turning me into a bottomless pit and I can’t afford to lose energy chowing down on rice cakes (although I LOVE them) all day.

Everything is better in sandwich form.

Although I linked the recipe for the crab cakes, I’d still like to post it directly.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crab boilseasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 scallion, including green top, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lump crab, picked over for cartilage
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Smarter Tartar Sauce, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl mix together the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning and hot sauce. Stir in the bell pepper and scallion. Gently fold in the crab, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Put the remaining bread rumbs in a shallow dish.

Divide the crab mixture into 8 mounds. Shape 1 mound into a round and coat in bread crumbs. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and flatten the crab cake to form a patty about 1-inch high. Repeat to form the remaining crab cakes.

Bake until golden on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Gently flip the crab cakes and cook until the second side is golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

 

Since it’s Friday…

“Running to Rome” Update: I’m now up to 36 miles since July 4th, leaving me with 429 left to go. Last month, I wanted to have 39 completed before I left for the Cincinnati Tennis Tournament next week, so it appears that I will probably exceed that goal. Now if I could just figure out how to get rid of these shin splints…

Yoga Pose of the Week: The Poorna Titali or the Butterfly Pose is one that helps release fat from the liver and helps control anxiety and stress. Here’s what you do.

  1. Sit up straight and bring the soles of your feet together.
  2. Pull your feet in as close to your body as possible.
  3. Gently push down to stretch the hips and hold for 5-8 deep breaths.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: I made a list of the things in my life that make me happy so I would have a sunny outlook on the weekend.

Charley Horse, You’re Cramping My Style

 Growing up I was an Irish step dancer who often experienced numb toes and horrible leg cramp wake up calls at 3 a.m. Unlike most dancing, Irish step dancing focuses solely (no pun intended) on the movement of the feet. It requires isolated control of the lower legs and is often compared to having a stick hidden in a rather unpleasant location. This isolation, combined with constantly keeping the feet turned out, often leaves dancers with odd-looking calf muscles that appear to wrap around the side of the leg. Without proper stretching, this strain on the muscle can result in cramps or “charley horses,” which is what I experienced quite often. I remember waking up to the sight of my toes curling down, making me look like I belonged in a horror film. I’d fling myself out of bed in an attempt to stretch the muscle, but I was almost always too late. My mother often suggested I eat a banana a day to help with the cramps, but I chose to endure the pain as a badge of honor. (I was a moron.)

Does anyone else experience sleep-awakening leg cramps?

Imagine the cramps this style of dancing produces.

Well, let me just answer that: yes, lots of people do. According to a CNN blog article by Dr. Lisa Shives, sleep awakening leg cramps is a form of sleep disorder and the list of possible causes is quite diverse.

Although I personally think this look gross, get your daily intake of potassium in any form possible.

  • Diabetes (side effect, not prognosis)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Electrolyte imbalance (chug a Gatorade!)
  • Low potassium levels
  • Dehydration (which is probably the most common.)

If cramping is severe and the above don’t seem to be contributing factors, consult a physician to differentiate leg cramping from a more serious condition, such as akathisia (movement disorder characterized by a feeling of inner restlessness), myelopathy (degenerative condition that pinches the
spinal cord), peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous
system), or disorders of calcium imbalance.  

Although these seem like scary outcomes, Dr. Shives believes most cases are from a simple lack of strengthening and stretching of the calf and feet muscles.

To read more about sleep-related issues from Dr. Shives, visit http://nssleep.com/blog.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Sticking to my cottage cheese-filled pita and grapefruit for lunch instead of grabbing a slice of pizza from the break room. Gotta love that willpower!