Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

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Portobello Mushroom

GRILLED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM BURGERS

Ingredients:
4 large portobello mushrooms (1 cap per sandwich)

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Rock or kosher salt and pepper to taste

4 oz. low-fat mozzarella

4 large pieces roasted red pepper (roast yourself, or if you go with the ready-made stuff, pat it dry with a paper towel.)

4 whole wheat pitas or 8 slices of light bread

Greens (arugula, iceberg, whatever you like!)

Low-fat mayonnaise or store-bought pesto, if desired

Instructions:

  1.  Remove and discard mushroom stems. Brush top of mushroom caps with a bit of the olive oil. (You really do not need to slather it on.) Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Lightly coat your grill with cooking spray. Grill mushrooms, covered, for approximately four minutes; turn and grill another three, or until tender.
  3. Place flat side of mushroom up on the grill, and top with a thin slice of mozzarella and a nice juicy piece of red pepper. Cover and cook one minute more, until the cheese is melted. At same time, toss your roll, pita or light bread onto the grill until lightly toasted.
  4. Put a layer of greens on the bread (or in the pita) top with a mushroom cap and add a bit of low-fat mayo or prepared pesto sauce.

Serves 4

Utter Failure: Why we should Embrace It!

Summer is here, high school and college graduations have passed for 2014 so I thought I would share a few tips from a commencement speech that really got me thinking. DJ Patil performed the commencement address to the 2012 graduates of The University of Maryland.   DJ received his PHD in 2001 from The University of Maryland. The topic he chose to speak about was Utter Failure.

You might be wondering why I have chosen to discuss failure.  Most “glass is half full” people don’t like to discuss failure, but we are all products of failure.  He points out that life starts out with failure after failure, from trying to roll over, to standing, to potty training.  We don’t consciously realize it at the time but with each and every failure the same thing occurs.  We try again, and if we fail again we try harder the next time.  We don’t even think about.  We just do it.  Most of these early failures are physical.  Trying again makes us stronger.  Tenacity and failure go hand and hand. A transcript of his full speech is Here.

The term failure has been used in the weight room for years and we never think of it as a negative.  In weight training, training to failure is repeating an exercise to the point of momentary muscular failure, i.e. the point where a repetition fails due to inadequate muscular strength. Training to failure is only performed by experienced weight lifters and adequate recovery is needed following workouts of such high intensity.  When fully recovered the body is stronger.  In an aerobic exercise, such as biking or running failure is sprinting until we can no longer continue.  Challenging your body at this high level will increase your cardiovascular fitness and burn the most calories possible in the least amount of time.  After adequate recovery the next time you sprint you will be faster.

Let’s take your workouts to a new level!   Fail as often as you can, but never stop trying!

May Tennis Tip of the Month – 4 Hip Strengthening Exercises to Help Prevent Shoulder Injuries

As promised here are your tips for preventing shoulder and wrist injuries using hip and core strengthening exercises.  I won’t bore you with the biomechanics of the body this time.  Let’s just remember that foot bone is connected to the ankle bone and so on up to the top of your head.  When a weakness in one muscle is present typically another muscle or group of muscles will have to work harder to compensate for this weakness. Often times during this compensation injuries occur.  If the weaknesses are not addressed the injuries can become chronic and very difficult to resolve.  Don’t just play tennis!  Prepare for it!

Bottom Line:  Everything is connected –You Are Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link!

Here are some definitions to ensure that you understand the movements.

Lunge – A quick movement in one direction and then returning to the starting position.  It can include a reach and can be a small or large step.

Lateral – Means moving to the side.  Either left or right.

Same Side Rotation – Means to rotate your upper body in the same direction as the foot you are stepping with.   For example, if you step with your left you will turn your trunk towards the left.

Bilateral – Using both hands during your rotation.

Side Bending – Flexing from the waist and moving towards the sides.  It is a lateral movement of your upper body.

Below are 4 exercises which I believe are the most effective at keeping your hip rotators and spinal rotators strong and flexible.  Please follow some simple rules to reduce the risk of injury while doing something new.

  1.  The exercises should be done initially without any weights.
  2. Be certain to have warmed up your legs and upper body before you perform these movements.
  3. Perform one set of each lunge and then move on to the next one.
  4. Once you have performed all 4 then repeat the circuit 1 or 2 additional times depending how you feel.
  5. The routine should be done a minimum of twice per week to be most effective in strengthening your legs and hip rotators.
  6. Perform each exercise 10 -15 repetitions on each leg.

Overhead Bilateral Side Bending with a Stretch Cord:  Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.  Hook a stretch band on a bar at your head height or above.  Grasp the band with both hands together and reach your hands straight over your head as high as you can.  The band should be taught.  While keeping your arms straight, bend from the waist to the side increasing the tension on the band.  Move as far as you can to the side without rotating and return to the starting position.  A less stressful modification is to do the exercise holding the band at head level instead of overhead.  To view a video of this movement click here.

Lateral Lunge with Single Arm Same Side Rotation:  Standing with your feet facing straight ahead and together step to the right with the right foot.  Both feet should continue to point forward while stepping.  The distance you step is completely up to you.  I would start with a small step of about 12 inches the first time you try this.  As you get more comfortable doing this pain free you can increase your stepping distance.   As your step foot is about to hit the floor you should begin your rotation in the direction you have stepped.  Your right hand should reach behind you as your shoulders turn towards the right. As you finish your rotation begin to push off your right foot and return your trunk to facing forward as you return to the start position with both feet facing forward.  Concentrate on using the leg muscles to keep your knee in place.  To view a video of this movement click here.

Rotational Lunge with Single Arm Same Side Rotation:  Standing with your feet straight ahead and together step back and to the right.  The direction of your stepping foot when you step should be diagonally over your shoulder.  Be sure to keep your knee over your foot.  The foot should be pointed in the direction of your step and your stationary foot should not slide or rotate.  When your moving foot hits the ground you should rotate your upper body in the same direction as you are stepping.  Your hip rotators will need to work very hard to help decelerate this movement.  Be very careful the first time doing this exercise because you can over rotate and put too much stress on your knees and or your lower back.  Start with a small step and a very slow rotation.  As you feel comfortable and pain free you can increase your stepping distance and trunk turn.  To view a video of this movement click here.

Forward Lunge with Bilateral Arms to Opposite Side Rotation:  Stand with feet about shoulder width apart. Step forward with your left foot into a lunge position.  Be sure to keep your knee over your left foot; don’t twist at the knee.  From your torso, twist your upper body to the right with both hands. Then, reach across your right side with your arms out-stretched. (Think of pointing to the right from your belly button).  Maintain a slow and controlled movement throughout the exercise.  To view a video of this movement click here.

If you have any questions feel free to Email me at info@4-everfit.com.  I am always happy to assist you.

Tips for Setting and Achieving Goals

A Few Tips for Setting Goals and Achieving Them

In the book “How Children Succeed”, Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character the author, Paul Tough mentioned a study about setting and achieving our goals. Gabriele Oettingen, an NYU psychologist discovered that people tend to use three strategies when they are setting goals and two of those strategies don’t work very well.
Optimists use a strategy they call indulging, which means imagining the future they would like to achieve and vividly envisioning all the good things that will go along with it. He found that indulging feels really good when you’re doing it but it does not correlate at all with actual achievement.
Pessimists tend to use a strategy he calls dwelling, which involves thinking about all the things that will get in the way of their accomplishing their goals. Not surprisingly, dwelling does not correlate well with achievement either.
The third method is called mental contrasting, and it combines elements of the other two methods. It means concentrating on a positive outcome and simultaneously concentrating on the obstacles in the way. Oettingen wrote in a recent paper that “doing both creates a strong association between future and reality that signals the need to overcome the obstacles in order to attain the desired future.” He explains that in order to get a successful outcome one more step is needed. A person must create “implementation intentions” – specific plans in the form of if/then statements that link the obstacles with ways to overcome them. Positive fantasizing about achievement alone will not work, without first listing the obstacles that might get in your way of achievements.
The key message I took from this is that without a plan and a written list of what might be a barrier to completing your plan you will have a difficult time accomplishing your stated goals. I find that it forces you to make small changes in your routine to get the job done. In order to succeed you need to create specific rules for yourself. As David Kessler notes in his recent book “The End of Overeating”, rules are not the same as willpower. When you make yourself a rule you can sidestep the internal conflict between your desires for foods that will make you gain weight and your willful determination to resist them. Kessler explains that rules “provide structure preparing us for encounters with tempting stimuli and redirecting our attention elsewhere.” Before long the rules have become as automatic as the appetites they are deflecting.
Here are some of my favorite rules for losing weight and keeping it off.
1. Eat Less Sugar – Limit yourself to no more than 72 grams per day.
2. When eating out – Ask for sauces and salad dressings on the side.
3. The 20 minute Rule – Wait 20 minutes before going for seconds. You most likely will not want it.
4. Do intervals – Burns fat much faster when you alternate sprints with steady cardio.
5. Work out with Your Partner – Couples who train together are 34% more likely to stick to their workouts. Schedule it and keep it. No Exceptions.
6. Skip the elevator – Take the stairs and burn 100 calories for every 10 minutes of climbing.

Two Exercises for Preventing and Rehabbing Tennis Elbow

TENNIS ELBOW – HOW TO PREVENT IT AND WHAT TO DO IF YOU START TO FEEL MILD ELBOW PAIN

The Washington Post Health section did a story last year about steroid injections and tennis elbow.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science.  It mentioned a recent study stating that steroid injections were not effective in treating tennis elbow vs. Physical Therapy.  In my experience tennis elbow can become a chronic problem very quickly and nag you for long time until you finally have to stop playing due to the pain.  My best advice is to do some simple steps to prevent it.

Below is a brief overview of Tennis Elbow and some simple strategies to prevent it, or to treat it if you have it.

So what is Tennis Elbow?  Lateral Epicondylitis is medical term aka inflammation of the lateral epicondyle of the ulnar or tendonitis of the wrist extensor muscles.  The painful spot is the near the elbow joint.

Tennis Elbow Details

THE BEST WAY TO FIX YOUR TENNIS ELBOW IS TO AVOID GETTING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!

How to prevent it!

The two closest joints to the elbow are the wrist and the Shoulder.   That’s where we must start.  Most treatments attack the wrist extensor muscles.  They are usually weak and must be strengthened to prevent Tennis Elbow from recurring.  Additionally the shoulder and or hip complex on the hitting side may also be weak.

Let me explain how the hip is connected to the elbow.  All movements of body parts and of the whole body both conscious and unconscious are three dimensional.  These three directions of movement are

  1. Forward/backward
  2. Left/right
  3. Rotational.

This is especially true during sports and increased force generations.  Let’s look at what happens when you hit a tennis ball.  As the ball approaches and you get ready to hit a forehand, depending on the type of shot you are hitting you square your body to the approaching ball and if you are right handed you right rotate your body during the back swing.  Notice I did not say you right rotate your trunk.  Multiple joints are being rotated to allow for R trunk rotation during the back swing.  One key to creating force will be your ability for your left hip to internally rotate and your right hip to simultaneously externally rotate allowing your trunk to turn right while you retract your scapular as you bring your arm back for that forehand shot.  Just before you make contact with the ball the opposite must occur as you generate force in the direction of the ball.  Once contact is made your body must then create forces to slow down the rotation.  If you did not create force in the opposite direction to slow down you would end up spinning around like a top and be unable to get ready for your next shot.  The point I am trying to emphasize is the lower body and core are vital in creating force for you shot and for your follow through.  If any weakness is present in either the hip, trunk, or lower body muscles that are assisting in slowing the body down after a shot extra stress can be placed on the forearm muscles.  I can’t stress enough how important for elbow and shoulder health to have strong core, hips, and lower leg muscles.

Performing eccentric contractions are the best way to increase a person’s ability to slow the body down during the follow through in sports.   What is an eccentric contraction?  Eccentric Contractions:  The simple definition is a muscle that is actively lengthening.  Eccentric contractions are vital in your wrist strengthening exercises.  The average player hits the ball 100-200 times per tennis set.  Our elbow must have adequate strength to absorb this contact repeatedly throughout the match.  The ability to absorb this force is our eccentric strength.  The common sense approach would be to perform eccentric contractions to help prevent and rehab from tennis elbow.

Below are my two favorite exercises for tennis elbow.  They should both be performed EVERYDAY.  In addition to being done during your injury recovery they should be done to prevent the trauma from occurring in the first place.

The first exercise is done using a Thera Band flex bar.  It can purchased from Paul or online by clicking the http://www.optp.com/Thera-Band-FlexBar/?FROM_CART=TRUE#.U0SKK_ldXTo   The yellow or red bar will be adequate for most tennis players.  This eccentric exercise should be done up to 3 sets per day and for 15 repetitions.  If you can complete 1 set of 15 pain free then you can advance to a second set of 15 and the same for the third set.  No more than 3 sets should be done per day.  The exercise is shown below.

Thera Flex Bar Eccentric Wrist Exercise

The instructions for using the Thera Flex Bar are listed below since the instructions above are difficult to read.

Step 1. Grasp FlexBar® exerciser in front of you with the injured side and extend your wrist.

Step 2. Grasp the upper end of the bar with your other hand facing away from you

Step 3. Twist the bar with the top hand as you stabilize with the bottom hand

Step 4. Hold both wrists steady as you extend both elbows in front of you. The wrist on your injured side should be extended and the other wrist flexed.

Step 5. Slowly release the bar with your injured side while maintaining tension with the uninjured side.

You can watch the movement at the following https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsKGbqA9aNo 

Repeat 10-15 times up to 3 times a day. Begin with the red FlexBar and progress to the next color when you can easily perform 3 sets of 15. Use ice or Biofreeze for any soreness.

The second exercise for your wrist muscles is a straight arm wrist extension.  This exercise should be performed at a minimum of 1 time per day every day.

Start by kneeling to the side or a workout bench, chair or the corner of a table with your elbow as straight as possible.  With your palm facing the floor and using a 1 pound weight in your effected side slowly lower the weight down as far as it will go.  It is vital that you do this extremely slow and move through a complete range of motion. The downward movement should take a minimum of 4 seconds.   When you have fully lowered your hand towards the floor (flexion) the wrist, pause and then slowly move it towards the ceiling (extension).             Wrist Flexion and Extension Description

Repeat this movement until you not able to perform it with good form or you reach 25 repetitions.  Good form means moving slow and controlled without any elbow bending.

Straight Arm Wrist ExtensionWrist Extension Exercise

If you have tennis elbow then it must be treated.  Below will help you navigate the beginning stages of tennis elbow.

Treatment for Tennis Elbow, either acute or at the chronic stage is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).  Resting and inflamed tendon is vital to returning it to a properly functioning muscle/tendon.  Ice is the best way to reduce inflammation and should be done immediately after stressing a muscle or tendon.   Ice should be applied for a minimum of 20 minutes and can be done multiple times per day.   When the elbow pain has subsided to a level which is not painful during normal daily activities then you can start strengthening the forearm muscles.

Use the exercises described above and you can definitely prevent and once the initial irritation subsides performed them daily will keep you pain free and happy.

Next month I will go over my favorite core/hip exercises for hip rotation which will help prevent shoulder and wrist injuries.

 

Balsamic Green Bean Salad

Balsamic Green Bean Salad

Making this salad is very simple, and because you are only actually cooking for 2-3 minutes, this recipe is easy to put together in a hurry. It can complement almost any entrée, and is also good served cold. In fact this can be made ahead of time, say in the early afternoon, and store it in the refrigerator to take out at dinner.

Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut to 3 inch long pieces
  2. 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 tbsp olive oil
  4. 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  5. 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  6. Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 2-3 minutes. The beans should be just barely cooked through and still crisp. Prepare a large bowl of ice water while the beans are cooking. Remove beans from hot water and place into ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain.
  2. Place the green beans and red onion in a large bowl. Toss in the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle in the balsamic and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with chopped walnuts to serve.

By Rebecca Bohl (PaleoGrubs.com)

March is National Nutrition Month

 NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

 At 4 Ever Fit we are not only here to help you with you workouts but to guide you in the right direction for healthier eating habits.  Since March is National Nutrition Month I thought it would be a good idea to focus this month’s blog on eating and nutrition.  According to Jennifer Cohen the President of and CEO of fitness and wellness brand NGR – No Gym Required  “About 80 percent of your ability to reduce excess body fat is determined by what you eat, with the other 20 percent related to exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits such as sleep and stress reduction.”  This does not mean we should cut our workouts by 80%.  It is meant to remind us that what we take in is much easier to control than how much we can burn in a single exercise session.

Below are two links with tips on Smart Snacking and Eating on the Run provided by www.eatright.org - The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  I have included a few points from each link which I thought to be valuable.

http://www.eatright.org/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=10832

Smart Snacking Tips

  • Snack only when you’re hungry. Skip the urge to nibble when you’re bored, frustrated or stressed. Feed the urge to do something by walking the dog or working in the garden.

A great post workout snack is

  • Trail mix: Mix 20 almonds, miniature box of raisins, and ¼ cup sunflower seeds

http://www.eatright.org/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=6442451052&libID=6442451048

Eating on the Run Tips

  • Think about your food choices for the entire day. If you’re planning a special restaurant meal in the evening, have a light breakfast and lunch.
  • Boost the nutrition in all types of sandwiches by adding tomato, lettuce, peppers or other vegetables and stay away from cheese.  The cheese is extremely high in calories and will add very little nutritional value to your sandwich.

Low Calorie Recipe of the Month

Low-Calorie Chicken Parmesan

 

Ingredients:

 4-5 ounces skinless chicken breasts

1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 cup shredded low fat mozzarella cheese

1 cup homemade (or store-bought) tomato sauce

Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, mix together whole wheat bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic and basil. Spray each chicken breast with non-stick cooking spray. Dip each chicken breast into the bowl to cover with breadcrumb mixture. Place chicken breasts into a glass casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Pour tomato sauce over chicken breasts to coat evenly. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over chicken breast. Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees. Serve warm along with vegetables and whole grain pasta if desired.

Prep time: 10 minutes                  Cooking time: 30 minutes             Serves 4

Tennis Fitness Tip of the Month

The 3 Minute Stretch to help Prevent Tennis Injuries

Tennis players who experience aches and pains often blame the hard surface of the courts. However, the root of those muscular-skeletal aches in the lower back, groin and knee is most likely from misaligned hips.

The hips connect the upper and lower body and provide strength, stability and flexibility to both halves. Misaligned hips create incorrect movement, causing other joints, such as knees or ankles, to compensate and in turn, create new dysfunctions.  Misalignments in other load-bearing joints add to the problem.

This snowball effect can eventually lead to a shoulder strain, tennis elbow, or more serious injuries. Your shoulders should be positioned directly above the hips. If your hips are misaligned, the shoulders will compensate and end up in an off-balanced position that could cause problems to develop in your shoulders.  Misaligned shoulders can also lead to problems in your elbows and or wrists.

This can be problematic for tennis players because the repetitive movement of hitting the ball on a misaligned shoulder can put stress on surrounding muscles and tendons.

The hip symmetry needs to be in all three planes: front, side and at the same height level. An imbalance in any plane will bring impurities to your posture, which over time will bring more injuries into your tennis game. It’s crucial to take good care of your hips by strengthening your glutes and stretching the glutes and hips.

A good groin stretch will add to your hip health. This supine stretch of your thighs and groin muscles will align your hips in a more neutral position to allow proper flex and extension. It’s a passive and relaxing stretch, which should make it easier to do on a regular basis.

Groin Stretch Instructions

Lie on your back and spread your arms comfortably to the sides. Bring your feet toward your torso, the soles together and the knees falling to the sides. Pay attention to your feet and make sure they are perfectly centered.

It’s not important for the lower back to be flat on the floor, just feel comfortable in the stretch. Don’t push your knees with your hands or force them down with your legs muscles. Let the gravity work for you and gently get deeper into the stretch. Hold the stretch for two to three minutes and use this time for relaxation, meditation, or visualization.

The supine groin stretch is such a simple and non-exerting stretch that you also can perform it in the bed at night so your hips are nicely aligned while you sleep. Functional hips will improve your movement and speed on the tennis court, decrease the risk of injuries and your tennis game will reach higher levels in a short time.

References:  http://www.active.com/tennis/articles