If you haven't noticed from the bone-chilling cold, remaining balance on your Visa statement or the lack of colour pigment on your skin we are in FEBRUARY. The forgotten month, where New Year's resolutions fall to the way side, people shutter at the thought of leaving the house and shun the Hallmark holiday that put this month on the map.
February, besides being sponsored by Cupid is also heart health month. The heart being one of the most important organs in the body requires you to have all forms of nutrition in check. Why not take this month as an excuse to give your heart a little love; emotionally, nutritionally and physically.
Emotional Heart Love:
Stress is considered one of the main contributors to illness. It is important to appreciate how other emotions can affect specific areas and organs of the body.
Hindu tradition focuses on chakras as energy centres in the body. These energy centres correlate physical illness in specific areas of the body and the emotions that are associated with these illnesses. The 4th of the chakras, heart chakra, is located in the middle of the chest. When traumas such as death or divorce happen and emotions of rejection, grief, or betrayal occur this can cause the heart chakra to become closed or out of balance. When the heart chakra is closed it will leave the individual feeling withdrawn, jealous and hard on themselves. If any of these emotions ring true to you or you have a heavy feeling on your heart, here are some small changes that you can do to reopen your heart chakra.
• Wear the colours green or pink
• Use the essential oil rose oil
• Visualize a green glowing light around your heart
• Give yourself a compliment: write down one reason a day why you love yourself and say it out loud in the mirror.
• Pay it forward: giving selfless love to someone else opens you up to receiving love into your life.
• Smile with your heart
Nutritional Heart Love:
Proper nutrition plays an integral role in maintaining optimal heart health. Lucky for us the heart loves a hefty serving of all of my favourite foods.
• Salmon: when purchased from an organic and wild source will not only satisfy your taste buds but also fulfil your hearts need for low blood pressure. You can thank salmon's high content of omega 3 fatty acids for the extra loving.
• Tomatoes: this heart shaped fruit contains the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene served on a combo platter with Vitamin C (which tomatoes are high in as well) aids in decreasing inflammation and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
• Kale: what kind of a nutritionist would I be if I didn't throw KALE into the mix? Kale being the nutrition power house that it is goes to work for our little tickers in many ways. Kale is high in fibre which will help remove the build up of plaque and toxins. This green leafy vegetable can also make your heart skip a beat with its high content of the phytonutrients lutein. Lutein has been found to lower the risk of heart disease. Kale=LOVE!
Physical Heart Love:
Show your heart that you love it by getting your sweat on. Daily exercise will aid in lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress on the heart, improve circulation and help you maintain a healthy body weight.
Looking for a heart approved sweat sesh? Focus on incorporating a yoga practice into your weekly routine. Poses such as camel and cobra will aid in opening up the heart, calming the mind and strengthen the body at the same time. Looking for something to really get your heart pumping? Try interval running. This involves alternating running at speeds that require 95 per cent of your maximum effort between periods of moderate to low (50-65 per cent) effort. Your heart will thank you.
As we approach Valentine's Day filled with hope that Cupid will sting us with his love arrow, lets shift the focus to loving ourselves first. February forces us to take stock of our heart. So eat a kale salad, go for a run, hold the door open for a stranger, smile because it's worth it. Lay in shavasana for an extra minute and be open to all of the ways love shows up in your life.
While the American College of Sports Medicine has listed certified fitness pros as their number one trend for the past six years, the number of accredited trainers, coaches and others continues to surge. And with <a href="http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2012/11000/Worldwide_Survey_of_Fitness_Trends_for_2013.5.aspx">so many beloved trainers emerging on Twitter</a> to join the national discourse, it's no surprise that accredited fitness professionals will continue their rise. What's more? Those pros are getting out of the gym and<a href="http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2012/12/20/wellgoods-14-fitness-and-wellness-trends-of-2013/#wellgoods-14-fitness-and-wellness-trends-of-2013-13"> starting their own businesses</a>, reports Well + Good NYC.
About 38 percent of the health apps that smartphone users download are fitness-based. And that number is only going to get bigger -- one estimate from market research company Abiresearch suggests that the fitness apps market will grow to $40 million by 2016 -- up from just $12 million in 2010. That means we'll total nearly a billion downloads over the next three years. And given how effective those apps can be, if used correctly, doctors may start recommending them for increased fitness -- that'll particularly help the baby boomer generation, who are <a href="http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/08/13/bisc0813.htm">more likely to download a health-related app</a> that has been recommended by their doctor.
Self-monitoring -- formerly the purview of data nerds and navel-gazing techies -- will go mainstream this year, thanks to an increasing number of smartphone apps that help you easily store data on your own behavior -- and a collection of wearable devices, from <a href="http://nikeplus.nike.com/plus/what_is_fuel/">Nike Fuel</a> to <a href="http://lark.com/products/larklife/experience">LarkLife</a>, that do all the work for you. What is self-monitoring? It's keeping track on the minute data of your day -- things like what you eat, how well you sleep and how much you move. Download the data and analyze your own behavior on a spreadsheet.
Mobile, portable classes are the wave of the future -- thanks to the rise of beloved celebrity teachers who can't be everywhere at once. Set up your iPad for a yoga class with the simulated feeling of individualized attention. Open up your laptop and decide what kind of class you'll do that day -- on your own time.
Gluten-free foods are necessary for the one percent of the population who suffer from Celiac disease and the estimated 10 percent with a non-specified gluten allergy. But somehow, thanks to highly visible gluten-sensitive celebrities and fashionable, charming gluten-free bakeries like Babycakes, eating without gluten is all the rage. While it may not lead to weight loss, it does have a side benefit of increasing demand for a gluten-free options that make eating easier for those with Celiac and other sensitivies. But you don't have to go to a specialty shop for your pastries sans gluten any longer: now <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57429388-10391704/dominos-new-gluten-free-pizza-crust-not-recommended-for-people-with-celiac-disease/">giant, national chains like Domino's Pizza</a> are offering specifically gluten-free fare. They might be the first, but they won't be the last.
The kind of juice that won't stay shelf-stable for a year? That's the stuff that will invade your supermarket, your mall court <em>and</em> your Starbucks, if it hasn't already. With $5 billion in revenue this year and projected growth of four to eight percent, healthful, all-natural and raw fruit and vegetable juices (think Organic Avenue, Cooler Cleanse -- but also Jamba Juice) will explode onto the mainstream market. And that growth projection may even be conservative: Starbucks' CEO Howard Shultz vowed to sell juice "in the same tonality that we have reinvented, over the last 40 years, the basic commodity of coffee," <a href="http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111904346504577531063244598398.html#articleTabs_article%3D2">reported Barrons</a>.
While <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/24/i-heart-powerlifting-and-im-not-bulky-or-masculine_n_934453.html">previously on the fringe</a>, mainstream gym goers are now getting hip to the practice. There are many reasons for women to get into heavier weight lifting -- among them, <a href="http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2012/12/03/7-reasons-women-should-lift-heavy-weights/#7-reasons-women-should-lift-heavy-weights-3">healthier bones, greater muscle definition and cardiovascular health, according to Well + Good NYC</a>. And now the practice is gaining popularity, thanks to CrossFit and boot camp classes that encourage heavier lifting.
Everyone from HuffPost blogger and gym owner Jeff Halevy to New York Times' resident sports science writer, Gretchen Reynolds, are talking about the power of the short, intense workout. Using HIIT -- high intensity interval training, gym rats can reach their fitness goals in less time than it takes to whip up a raw protein smoothie. But beware: HIIT isn't right for everyone and low impact exercise is just as great.
While the majority of gym goers have a regular membership and central location, there remains a proliferation of boutique specialty studios -- yes, the traditional yoga and pilates studios, but also CrossFit, FlyWheel, Soul Cycle, Refine Method and Physique 57. What's more, third-party companies are growing to help you manage, purchase and organize your a la carte choices. Want to mix pilates with yoga, CrossFit and FlyWheel? No problem, according to places like FITist.
If you haven't tried this equipment-less form of weight training, <a href="http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2012/11000/Worldwide_Survey_of_Fitness_Trends_for_2013.5.aspx">you certainly will in 2013</a>. The American College of Sports Medicine listed it in the top three trends they are anticipating for 2013 -- thanks to its effective, no-fuss approach and cheap execution.
Most people will admit that they work out in the hopes of looking good and achieving the vague goal of better health. Functional fitness is a little more specific: <a href="http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20121029/top-10-fitness-trends-2013">as WebMD explains</a>, it employs strength training to "improve balance, coordination, force, power and endurance to perform activities of daily living." That's especially great for seniors, who need a bit of extra training to maintain their daily physical abilities.
<a href="http://www.runforyourlives.com/info/the-zombies/">Zombie</a> runs, <a href="http://thecolorrun.com/">color</a> runs, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/tough-mudder-women-spartan-race_n_2257878.html">mudders</a>... if you're paying attention to the amateur race circuit, you have no doubt noticed the proliferation of themed events -- and that will only keep growing in 2013, if <a href="http://greatist.com/fitness/best-themed-running-races/">the popularity of such events is any indication</a>.
Those who are opposed to genetically-modified organisms in their food -- everything from grains <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/12/genetically_modified_salmon_aquadvantage_fda_assessment_is_delayed_possibly.single.html">to fish</a> -- aren't known for staying quiet. Just recently, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/12/cheerios-gmo-facebook_n_2284387.html">anti-GMO activists hijacked Cheerio's Facebook page</a>. But following <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2012/11/13/with-california-prop-defeated-gmo-labeling-proponents-look-to-farm-bill/">the defeat of California's Proposition 37</a>, which would have been the first legislation to require GMO labeling, the community is bound to get louder than ever.
Follow Melody Quinlan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MelodyQuinlan