Archive of the Category ‘General’


Paleo Dinners!

Eating Paleo for dinner is probably the easiest meal to adjust to when “going Paleo.” Although many of us are accustomed to having rice, pasta, potatoes, or bread with our dinners, I assure you that you will not finish a Paleo dinner and still be starving. Include a protein source, some fat, lots of veggies, maybe a little fruit, and you’re good to go! This may sound boring (it’s not), but get creative! Just because you’re cutting out the bread, doesn’t mean your whole meal should be tasteless. Don’t be afraid of fat, either, as this will keep you full the longest. Here are some awesome ideas for dinner:

  • Ok, first of all just look at this website: The pictures alone will erase any doubt that Paleo is boring.
  • Second, nom nom Paleo is an amazing resource for recipes. Also check out Health-Bent, FastPaleo, and The Clothes Make the Girl.
  • If you want a steak, look for grass-fed beef. It does have a different flavor, but it’s still delicious! Plus it is lower in calories, has more omega-3 fatty acids (the good kind of fat!), more vitamins, and more antioxidants. However, since grass-fed beef does have less fat, you can’t cook it like a “normal” steak or it will get really tough. DO NOT overcook grass (which can be easy to do!); make sure the internal temperature of the beef is between 145°F and 155°F for the best moisture and tenderness. Click here for a more detailed article on how to cook grass-fed beef, and here for information on where to buy grass-fed meat.
  • Don’t feel as though you have to throw every recipe you know out the window. Many recipes are already Paleo, or can easily be adapted.
  • Need something sweet? High quality dark chocolate is your best bet (or fruit of course!).


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Stick with your New Year’s Resolutions

 Many of us vowed to hit the gym more often in 2012. Now that the excitement of New Year’s resolutions has died down and reality is setting in that going to the gym can be a little bit of work, I thought I’d offer some tips to keep you motivated!

  • Buy health/fitness magazines and find body types that you admire—this can help give you a more concrete goal to work for! Follow the people you admire on Facebook for extra tips and motivation
  • Get new workout clothes/shoes/accessories… this is one of my favorite ways to motivate myself! I use this as a reward instead of food, too. I’ll set a goal (ex: “For the next two weeks I will work out 5 mornings a week for 1 hour.” When I reach my goal, I’ll get a new top to wear for my next workouts!
  • Find a new Pandora station that gets you pumped up while you’re working out. One of my favorites is the Afrojack station.
  • If possible, go to the gym first thing in the morning. This will keep you energized the rest of the day and that way nothing will magically pop up that you have to do instead of going to the gym after work. By the end of the day I usually just want to go home, so it’s great knowing my workout was done first thing!
  • If you can’t work out in the morning, take everything you need for the gym with you to work (here’s an excuse for a cute new gym bag!). Go to the gym straight from work so you don’t have time to get comfy on the couch until you are done!
  • Get a gym buddy!!! Even if you don’t do the same workout, not only is it great to meet up with a friend, but also makes it a lot easier to get to the gym.
  • Think about how good you look and feel after you’ve worked out!
  • Set reasonable, attainable goals for yourself. It feels great to reach a goal, and then you can reward yourself with a massage, workout gear, etc.

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Irisin… the “fat-burning” hormone

 You may have seen recent news about a new “fat-burning” hormone called irisin. Exercise seems to stimulate production of the hormone from proteins that regulate metabolism. Once irisin is released, it is thought to help convert white fat into brown fat, which is healthier and burns more calories. Not only this, but it increases glucose sensitivity, which means it can be metabolized more efficiently and possibly help with diabetes. Scientists are now wanting to find out if irisin can be injected into the individual and still produce the same benefits as exercise-induced irisin. In an initial study, mice did seem to reap the benefits of irisin injections without any exercise at all. Although irisin won’t replace exercise completely (it doesn’t have any affect on muscle growth), it may be beneficial for treatment of obesity and diabetes in the future. Check out these two articles for more info: Brown Fat and Irisin.More on fat…

I already mentioned there are two types of fat (brown and white). White fat mainly just stores calories (energy) and sits around, while brown fat actually helps burn calories in the body like other tissues do. It is actually more closely related to muscle cells than the “white” adipose tissue we think of when we think of “fat.” Humans are born with brown fat as a kind of internal thermostat, but this disappears quickly after birth (unfortunately!).

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What are your holidays really about?

After talking about holiday stress, I thought about why we stress at this time of year when we should be happy to spend time with our family and friends. This article from Psychology Today talks about with how many holidays there are, between Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Muharran, etc it is so easy to get caught up in the gifts and parties and pressures that we forget what these are really about. It is so easy to say, “Just don’t stress this year,” and to forget all of the hype, but it’s impossible to just forget about it. You can go to the parties and buy gifts and do all of the things you normally do, but make a special effort this year to be more mindful. These holidays “refer to light in the darkness.” When you are running through the mall frantic to find that last gift, be thinking about how lucky you are to have that friend you are buying the gift for. Don’t groan that you have to go to that boring office party, be thankful you have a job when so many people don’t. Think of little things to do with your family every day to keep you grounded. Every morning my roommate and I play “Feliz Navidad” while we eat the little chocolate from our Advent calendars; it’s so silly but we start our day with a smile. Enjoy the little and big things that make this time of year (and life in general) special!

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Sleep better this holiday season!

As much fun as the holidays are, for many of us our quality of sleep starts to suffer. Between travel, changes in eating and drinking habits, and higher stress levels, it’s no wonder we end up tired!

Chances are you are going to bed and waking up at different times than you are used to. Try going to bed close to the same time every day. If you can’t fall asleep at your normal time, don’t stay in bed! Get up and read or do another relaxing activity and try again when you are tired.

Eating and drinking too much can also affect sleep. Although alcohol can make you sleepy, more than 1 or 2 glasses will adversely affect sleep quality later in the night. Big changes in blood sugar are not good either, so skip dessert or just have a few bites.

When traveling to different time zones, try going to bed a little early or later several days before flying, so that when you get there your body is closer to being on the right time. Stay well hydrated, reset your watch to the new time zone, and sleep in a room that is between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just because the holidays are here, it doesn’t mean you can skip out on physical activity. Exercise helps sleep quality, digestion, and stress, so try to at least take a 30-minute walk several times a week. Just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime, since this can also keep you awake.

Unfortunately, stress is also a major contributor to seep problems. There is a lot going on during this time of year, but remember to take breaks! It’s ok to relax and do things you enjoy—no one expects you to be going nonstop for months straight. Workout, get outside, read, do yoga, walk the dog, laugh, play with your kids; whatever gets your mind off of your worries is fine as long as you make time for yourself!

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Curious about barefoot shoes?

Have you guys heard of barefoot running shoes? The Vibram brand (pictured), especially, seems to becoming more popular every day, so I thought I’d give you some information about them and whether or not you should wear them.

Barefoot shoes promote a different foot strike than a traditional running shoe. When wearing a traditional shoe, the runner will strike the ground first with their heel and roll forward onto their toes. With a barefoot shoe, the foot lands flat or with the ball of the foot first. If you go outside with no shoes on right now, your foot will naturally land flat or with the ball of your foot first.

People are wearing shoes that allow them to run in this “barefoot” style for several reasons. First, striking with the mid or forefoot is actually a way to run with lower impact, which may mean less knee, hip, or other injuries that are common to runners. Barefoot running is also more efficient, strengthens foot and ankle muscles, and allows the runner to have a better connection with their surroundings.

There are also risks that come with this new craze that you should be aware of if you want to try barefoot running. The sole of barefoot shoes is often extremely thin, so if you run over glass or a rock, your feet are going to be in trouble. It is extremely important to slowly transition into barefoot shoes, and I highly suggest finding a coach to teach you the proper way to run with a mid or forefoot strike. If you do too much too soon, it is easy to injure your Achilles tendon or even break your foot. Also, your calves will be extremely sore in the beginning (I found this out the hard way and could barely walk for 2 days!).

There are benefits to barefoot running, so if you are curious, just make sure you do it the proper way. If you aren’t interested in dedicating time to really working on changing the way you run, stick with your traditional shoes–they are comfortable, provide cushion, stabilize the foot, and there isn’t any great research yet that shows any real reason to switch to barefoot running!

Want more info? Check out this link:

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Nervous System Health and Performance from Dr. Tuzzolino

Lance Armstrong has won the Tour de France seven consecutive times.There are many reasons for his victories, but a major influence is a 100% functioning nervous system.How is it that a man dominated the race this perfect?It is my opinion that one of his greatest assets is a healthy nervous system.Gray’s Anatomy states that the nervous system is the master controller of the body, which controls every gland, organ and tissue in the body.Any interference in the nervous system will decrease the function of the body therefore causing abnormal function.On tour Dr. Jeff Spencer, D.C. was Lance’s and his teams personal Chiropractor. (more…)

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Posture- the importance of thoracic mobility and scapular strengthening

Posture is a major contributor to our overall health as proper posture represents muscular balance. We are all familiar seeing people who have rounded shoulders and a forward head posture. This represents chronic tightening of the chest and anterior (front) shoulder muscles, along with weakening of the shoulder blade muscles (mainly the trapezius muscle group). Chronic poor posture will cause stress and fatigue which can affect our mental health.

An area that is often neglected when it comes to posture is thoracic mobility. Your thoracic spine runs the length of the rib cage, hence there are 12 ribs and 12 thoracic vertebrae. Due to the stiff nature of the ribs, the thoracic vertebrae do not have much room to move. However chronic overuse of the crunch exercise along with too many upper body pushing exercises will promote thoracic kyphosis.


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Dr. Tuzzolino on Posture!

Mirror, mirror on the wall…who has the best posture of them all? Through an old fairy tale I try to bring together what we may not notice in the mirror and a better health experience. Every day when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we look at our posture. Our posture, whether good or bad, is the window to our health. As part of my daily life, I enjoy looking at people’s posture. Depending on his/her posture, I am enlightened to the health of the patient. (more…)

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Special Guest Bloggers!

As promised, Iluminar is going to have 2 guest bloggers for the next few weeks! Graham Jaeggi and Dr. Thomas Tuzzolino are going to give us their insight on some really great topics! To start off, they both want to give you guys an intro to who they are and what they do:

Graham Jaeggi

Hi, I am Graham Jaeggi, the Strength and Conditioning Trainer for Foothills Sports Medicine on Tatum and Bell. I have trained individuals for over 6 years, with 4 years here in Phoenix. Corrective exercise and functional exercise are key areas when it comes to effectively exercising. Corrective exercise involves using appropriate movements to restore muscular balance, reducing the likeliness of injuries associated with sports and exercise.

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