Meditation

In the June issue of Women’s Health magazine, I found a great article called “Your Body on Meditation”. WHM has done this type of article before, my personal favorite being the one about running, but I thought this was too cool not to share.

Brain: Research shows that meditation can increase alpha and theta brainwave activity, which is linked to relaxation. What’s more, practicing meditation every day for two months can beef up some parts of your gray matter!

Mood: Slipping into a meditative state can light up the area of your noggin that controls complex thoughts and positive emotions. Some kinds of meditation can also build mental muscle in the brain’s other hubs for compassion, empathy, and fear, allowing you greater mastery over your emotions and helping you feel closer to others.

Willpower: It sounds too good to be true, but practicing daily meditation can lower your blood sugar levels (high ones can lead to diabetes) and may cut cravings for salty foods.

For the full article, be sure to pick up your copy of Women’s Health Magazine today!

In other news, it’s hotter than HECK outside! I mean every year  I get ready for it, and every year, I’m still surprised when I’m slowly melting while running on the trail. The only good thing is that it makes me push myself a little harder so I’m sprinting through the un-shaded areas!

What do you think is harder: summer or winter running?

6 Reasons to Start Running

Women’s Health Magazine is my go-to for great tips, routines, and just about anything else you can think of pertaining to health and wellness. I saw this link in one of my daily email updates I receive from them and thought it might serve as some motivation for getting me back on track. Enjoy!

1. It’s so easy

True, some high-tech gear will make your run more fun, but really, all you need is a good pair of shoes, and a supportive sports bra. It couldn’t be simpler.
And everyone knows how to run. You may not have perfect form yet, but you already know how to place one foot in front of the other and settle into a comfortable pace.
No new skills to master, no equipment to buy–just get out there and run. If you’ve never laced up before, be sure to check out our run/walk plan to injury-proof your transition into running.

2. Yet so hard

No other exercise matches running for its ability to soak that sports bra. The stair-stepper, bike, and other gym staples work you hard, but running blasts the most calories: In a study done by the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center, the treadmill (used at a “hard” exertion level) torched an average of 705-865 calories in an hour. The stair-stepper (637-746), rower (606-739), cross-country ski machine (595-678) and stationary bike (498-604) were all lower in overall caloric burn.
Running also gives your ticker a world-class workout. When your legs hit their stride they squeeze blood toward your heart, which in turn forces it to pump the blood right back. The faster you run, the harder your heart works and the stronger it gets.

3. Your knees will thank you

Contrary to what your mom says, running doesn’t wreck your joints. Osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis), occurs when joint-cushioning cartilage starts to break down. The biggest osteoarthritis risk factor besides age? Body weight. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that obese women had nearly four times the risk of knee osteoarthritis than non-obese women; for men, it was five times the risk. Runners are much more likely to be at a normal weight than members of the sedentary population, significantly decreasing their risk of osteoarthritis.
It goes further than just the benefits of weight loss, too. Running bolsters your cartilage by increasing oxygen flow and flushing out toxins, and by strengthening the ligaments around your joints. Hitting the trail also gives your bones a boost, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Though it’s important to treat all running injuries and to replace your shoes often, in the end, running will build your joints up, not tear them down.

For the complete list of reasons visit:  http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/health-benefits-of-running

Why did I start running? I started 3 ½ years ago to lose weight, but stopped after three or four months. It wasn’t until July 2011 that I decided to start back up again. This time, I ran for my health and well-being. (And so I could eat fatty mcfat foods once in a while without feeling horribly guilty.)

What about you? Why did you start (or plan to start) running?

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

This is a Women’s Health magazine recipe that popped up in my email a few weeks ago. I thought this might be a great morning-after recipe for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

· ¾ cup organic whole wheat flour
· ¾ cup organic spelt flour
· ¼ teaspoon sea salt
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
· ¼ cup agave nectar
· ¼ cup maple syrup
· ¼ cup apple juice, almond milk, soy milk, or filtered water
· 2 teaspoons lemon zest
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
· 1 cup organic blueberries

Crumble Topping

· ¼ cup raw almonds
· ¾ cup organic spelt flour
· ¼ teaspoon sea salt
· ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, fresh ground is best
· 2 tablespoons and 1 to 2 teaspoons grape seed oil
· 1 tablespoon agave nectar
· 1 tablespoon maple syrup
· ½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. Line mini muffin pans with unbleached paper baking cups, silicone baking cups or brush muffin pans with grape seed oil.
3. In a mixing bowl: Whisk together flours, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl: Beat together grape seed oil, agave nectar, maple syrup, apple juice (or almond milk, soy milk, or filtered water), lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.
4. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix just until nice and smooth. This can be done by hand or with a mixer.
5. Fold in blueberries gently.
6. Fill muffin cups half full with batter.

Crumble Topping

1. In a food processor, grind almonds into a fine meal. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon and chop until well mixed. Add grapeseed oil, agave, maple syrup, and lemon zest, and pulse just until mixed and crumbly. The texture should be like pebbles and sand. If it is too moist, add a bit of flour. If it is too dry, add a touch more oil. Distribute topping evenly over muffin batter.
2. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each muffin comes out clean. Let cool before serving. Makes about 24 mini muffins.

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