Fitness & Wellness

Get Relief From Back Pain

Get Relief From Back Pain

If you’re in San Antonio, TX, and seeking back pain relief, consider alternatives to painkillers, both prescription and OTC ones. There are many reasons to avoid taking them, even if they’re nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. Daily use takes a toll on your body. Frequently using ibuprofen can cause diarrhea, stomach issues, heart failure, kidney damage, liver issues, stroke, and gastrointestinal bleeding. More potent prescription drugs have even more side effects. It’s better to find the cause of the pain and address it. It can be as simple as strengthening core muscles.

Try a massage and a hot shower.

For quick relief, a massage works well. Using essential oils like peppermint, clove, and lavender also helps. They relax the muscles so you can get a sound sleep. Taking a hot shower or floating in a heated pool can also help relax back muscles. Your body is more buoyant in water and that, combined with the heat, reduces the pressure and relaxes the muscles. Both massage and heat improve circulation, boost endorphins, and reduce the tension in your back.

Take a walk in nature.

Whether you walk in a wooded area, one that’s filled with flowers, or along a seashore, you’ll get relief from back pain. Take it slowly at first. The walk boosts circulation and helps stretch the muscles to relieve tightness. Being next to nature is relaxing. Sunshine also provides another benefit. It helps the body create vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D can lead to back pain.

Stop back pain before it starts by building core muscles.

Improving your core muscle strength does several things to reduce back pain. It helps improve your posture. Poor posture is often the cause of pain. It also strengthens the larger muscles that hold your body erect. By doing that, it reduces the pressure on smaller muscles that were never meant to handle the task. That often causes the pain. Our trainers can develop a program to help build your core muscles and reduce back pain. If you’re experiencing pain, they modify the workout so it doesn’t exacerbate the problem.

  • Do a hamstring stretch to reduce lower back pain. Lay on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding one end of a rolled-up towel in each hand. Loop the towel around one foot and pull, attempting to straighten that leg.
  • Learning relaxation techniques can help with back pain. It’s not easy to do if you’re in pain at the time, so practice it when you’re not in pain. Combine the relaxation techniques with the use of a heating pad.
  • Stretch frequently, especially if you’re in a sedentary job. If your job keeps you seated, constantly looking at a computer screen, it creates poor posture. Every 20 to 30 minutes, stretch and focus on your posture.
  • Make sure you have adequate nutrition. Vitamin E helps build muscles and magnesium keeps muscles relaxed. Lack of manganese impacts disc health. Eat a healthy diet to improve back and total body health.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

Healthier Alternatives To White Sugar

Healthier Alternatives To White Sugar

Once you start reading labels, you’ll notice almost everything contains sugar. There are healthier alternatives to white sugar when you want something sweet. You can choose the simplest, yet healthiest option, like eating fruit. Berries, apples, bananas, or a smoothie containing fruit can be a sweet treat that’s a healthy alternative to baked goods, candy bars, or cereal covered with sugar.

Sugar is in everything today.

We’ve drastically increased our sugar consumption. About 200 years ago, the average person consumed about two pounds of sugar a year. By 1915, the amount rose to 17.5 pounds. Today, the amount consumed by each person is approximately 152 pounds. That’s just white sugar and doesn’t include alternatives like high fructose corn syrup.

Some people want a healthier option and opt for honey, agave, or maple syrup.

Both maple syrup and honey are alternatives to white sugar, even though they are nothing more than sugar. They do have some advantages sugar doesn’t have. They have some nutritional benefits. Honey, agave, and maple syrup have more calories and carbs than white sugar. Agave and maple syrup have a lower glycemic index and help control blood sugar better. Maple syrup is a source of manganese, while honey has trace amounts of vitamin C and B vitamins. Agave has trace amounts of B vitamins and Vitamin K.

Monk fruit and date paste are natural sweeteners.

Monk fruit is 100 to 150 times sweeter than sugar. While it contains fructose and glucose, it gets most of its mogrosides V, an antioxidant that gives it its sweetness. It boosts the immune system, aids the digestive tract, and improves the respiratory system. Most people use date paste to sweeten baked goods. Date paste contains copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6. It improves gut and heart health, keeps blood sugar level, and reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. It’s high in antioxidants. It improves brain and skin health.

  • Tagatose is a new sugar substitute that is made from lactose. It has a low glycemic index and may benefit type 2 diabetics. It’s prebiotic and increases short-chain fatty acids that reduce gut inflammation.
  • Stevia is a sugar alternative that may also help lower blood pressure and prevent metabolic syndrome. Make sure it’s not mixed with anything else, like erythritol or it could increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Manufacturers turn chicory root into a sugar substitute that doesn’t contain empty calories. It has vitamins and minerals and virtually no calories. Make sure it isn’t mixed with other sweeteners.
  • A sugar substitute can be made from the Yacon plant. It may help in weight loss and prevent constipation. Tea from the leaves of the plant has antidiabetic properties.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

Food Staples For A Healthy Home

Food Staples For A Healthy Home

If you’re constantly stopping at the grocery in San Antonio, TX, to pick up odds and ends to make your meal, consider stocking up for a while. You’ll have a healthier home if you stock up on nutritious food staples. It can be comforting in these crazy times to have several weeks of healthy meal ingredients available. It also can save money when you purchase the food on sale, especially with increasing prices.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are healthier than fresh and canned are almost as nutritious.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and immediately frozen, unlike fresh ones that are picked early, shipped, and then set on the shelf for a while. They don’t have the long shelf life of canned goods but do have a far longer one than fresh produce. If you’re purchasing canned goods, buy fruits and vegetables without any additives like sugar or salt. Fruit packed in its own juice is one example. If you find a great deal on canned green beans but notice they contain salt, you can rinse them before you use them. Pour the beans into a strainer and rinse well with water. You can save money and always have the ingredients for healthy meals ready.

Keep a vegetarian source of protein always on hand.

Vegetarian protein sources, like beans and lentils, are convenient with a long shelf life. They’re a budget-friendly alternative to meat, poultry, and fish. If you’re storing them longer than three months, use Mason jars for three years, vacuum sealers for five years plus, or mylar bags or freezer storage for up to 25 years. Date your jars or bags and rotate the new supply to the back, using the older options first. They’re a good protein, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B source.

Have a source of whole grains on hand like brown rice, oats, and quinoa.

If you store whole grains in tightly sealed containers, like Mason jars, they can last approximately a year. Store them like dried beans, away from heat and moisture. Quinoa is a good protein source used in salads or as a main dish. Choose brown rice or wild rice as the healthiest options. Also, nuts and seeds are stored best in the freezer, vacuum-packed, or in Mason jars.

  • Have canned mackerel, salmon, or tuna on hand to use in a pinch. Choose the water-packed options. Nut butter is another good protein source that has a longer shelf life. Make sure it only contains one ingredient—nuts.
  • Keep herbs and condiments on hand, particularly apple cider vinegar for salad dressing and pickling. Distilled vinegar makes excellent cleaning products.
  • Use the freezer to store leftovers and fresh meat. Pack it properly, store it for up to a year. You can store fresh fish for up to five months. Date any food you freeze.
  • Hard cheese freezes well and has about a 6 to 9-month shelf life before you notice a change in taste and texture. Soft cheese does not due to the high moisture content. Shredded lasts three months in the freezer.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

Are Artificial Sweeteners Really That Bad?

Are Artificial Sweeteners Really That Bad?

People often use drinks with artificial sweeteners to reduce their calorie intake, but some studies show that using them may be bad for health. There are few long-term studies on their effects on humans. Most studies that show they don’t affect health are animal studies. Of the few studies, one indicates that artificial sweeteners may cause an increase in belly fat, while other studies indicate an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and death.

There are a plethora of artificial sweeteners.

Not all artificial sweeteners react the same in the body. The FDA approved six types of artificial sweeteners marketed under different names. Acesulfame potassium is Ace-K or Sunett. Aspartame is Equal, Sugar Twin, or NutraSweet. Advantame has no brand name. Saccharine is Sweet Twin or Sweet’N Low, to name a few. Sucralose is Splenda and Neotame is Newtame. Stevia, a natural sweetener, hasn’t been approved by the FDA in its raw form—as a leaf—a highly processed form has been approved. Another natural sweetener is monk fruit. It’s expensive and some people find the aftertaste unpleasant.

Each of these sweeteners are 100s of times sweeter than sugar.

The chemical formulas vary, so each sweetener reacts with the body differently. Some affect the brain and how the taste buds interpret sweetness, while others affect the gut microbiome. That can cause digestive issues like diarrhea and gas. It can interfere with gut-brain communications or cause you to crave even more sweets. One study found that people who drank diet drinks had bigger waistlines than those who didn’t.

There are limited studies on the effect of artificial sweeteners on diabetes.

Many of the studies are conflicting. Some show that artificial sweeteners cause the body to increase the release of insulin. That increase in blood insulin levels increases the potential for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the precursor for type 2 diabetes. Other studies show that drinks with artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame increase insulin levels, while other types like stevia don’t. Most studies showed the more sweeteners consumed, the more potential for problems.

  • One issue with artificial sweeteners is psychological. People often drink diet drinks and feel they can consume something sugary, like cookies since the drink has fewer calories.
  • One of the benefits of using monk fruit as a sweetener is that it has antioxidant properties and reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. It also has no impact on blood sugar.
  • Stevia may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke if it’s mixed with erythritol. Aspartame is linked to a higher risk of stroke. Acesulfame and sucralose are linked to a higher risk of coronary artery disease.
  • One study showed that people who consumed artificially sweetened soft drinks regularly had a 67% increased risk of diabetes and those who drank more than 24 ounces had a 23% increased risk of stroke.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

How To Beat A Weight Loss Plateau

How To Beat A Weight Loss Plateau

At one time or another, everyone has hit a wall and not progressed toward a goal, even though they worked hard. It happens with fitness, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. You may have worked out like crazy and stayed loyal to a healthy diet, but you still hit a weight loss plateau or even gained a pound or two. Instead of giving up, identify the problem and solve it. Plateauing often occurs when you’re losing weight. The less you weigh, the fewer calories you need.

You may not be losing weight but inches.

Weight loss plateauing isn’t necessarily as bad as it sounds. You may be gaining muscle tissue. Muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue does per cubic inch. As you convert fat to muscle, you may lose inches but not weight. If you compare a container containing a pound of feathers with one containing a pound of iron, the one containing the feathers will be bigger. The same is true if you compare your body with a high fat composition to your body with a higher muscle content but also at the same weight. You’ll look thinner the more muscle you have.

Losing weight isn’t consistent.

If you’re expecting exact results each week, you’ll be disappointed. One week, you may lose four pounds, but the next, you won’t lose any weight. It may be from water retention or other anomalies. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at other factors. As you lose weight, your calorie requirement also diminishes. It takes fewer calories to maintain weight, so you have to adjust your diet or increase your effort during your workout.

Plateauing can occur if you don’t change your workout regularly.

When you first start an exercise, your muscles have to work harder. As it becomes more familiar with each movement, muscles become more efficient, and your body burns fewer calories. It makes sense if you’re foraging for survival but not if you have food readily available. The efficiency can interfere with weight loss or even cause weight gain. Change your workout or increase repetitions, sets, or intensity to offset that efficiency.

  • If you aren’t losing weight, maybe you’re unaware of the extra calories you consume by grabbing a handful of candy or having a soft drink. Keep a food diary and write down everything you consume, even if it’s just a bite of something.
  • Your workout program may be too limited. If you’re just doing aerobics, your body burns both fat and muscle tissue for energy. Muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain and boosts your metabolism. Add all types of exercise, especially strength-building.
  • You might be overexercising. If you’re always tired or don’t have the strength you had before, your body may need a rest. Rest your body for 48 to 72 hours between strength training sessions to allow muscles to heal.
  • Are you hydrating enough or getting enough sleep? If you’re retaining water, hydrating more can help. Lack of sleep slows you down and causes your body to produce more hunger hormones and fewer satiety hormones.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

How Fitness Helps With Mental Health

How Fitness Helps With Mental Health

Many people in San Antonio, TX, are discovering that they feel better the more they get into shape. Some experience an immediate improvement in their mood right after a workout. For other people, the fitter they get, the more their mood improves consistently. Fitness can boost mental health for many reasons. One reason is the boost in energy and strength. If you feel stronger, you have the energy to overcome the obstacles you face. That will make anyone’s day a little better.

Exercise mimics running or fighting.

The fight or flight response serves a purpose. It helps you run from danger and boosts your strength if you have to face it. Everyone has heard the story of a parent going to heroic measures to save a child. That’s adrenaline, part of the fight or flight response. It has a purpose, but there’s also a downside. Today most stresses don’t involve real danger but social stress. If you’re late for an appointment and there’s a traffic jam, that causes stress. Exercise mimics the fight or flight response and burns off stress hormones. That leaves the person exercising relaxed, happier, and mentally healthier.

When you exercise, you stimulate blood circulation throughout the body.

Exercise boosts circulation throughout the body, including to the brain. That oxygen and nutrient-laden blood improves mental functioning. It helps cognitive abilities and eliminates brain fog. It causes people to take a clearer look at any situation. Exercise reduces inflammation and stimulates Brain-derived neurotrophic factor—BDNF. BDNF regulates the neuroimmune system which is crucial for mood regulation. The more you exercise, the more improved your mood control will be.

Psychologists and psychiatrists recommend exercise for anxiety and depression.

Many mental health professionals use exercise as an adjunct therapy instead of medication. Some studies have found it helps as much or more than some prescription drugs. Best of all, the only side effect is better physical health, a toned body, and possibly an occasional sore muscle. Moderate exercise three to four times a week can speed up recovery and help you become mentally and physically stronger.

  • Some people get crabby without enough sleep, and others feel insecure and off-kilter or allow little things to send them into an emotional frenzy. Exercise helps you sleep better at night.
  • Exercise can make you feel more confident and less vulnerable. Lack of confidence affects your mood. It can make you feel inadequate, depressed, and anxious. Exercise improves your posture and gives you a confidence boost.
  • Exercise and a healthy diet can improve your gut microbiome. The microbes in your gut play a vital role in your mood. Studies show that you increase beneficial gut bacteria the more you exercise.
  • Exercise can provide a mental escape and give your mind a rest by taking it off the problems you’re facing. Always get professional help if you’re facing severe mental issues.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

Why Are Grains Unhealthy?

Why Are Grains Unhealthy?

It doesn’t matter where you get your nutritional information, grains are always part of a healthy diet. What makes grains unhealthy is how they’re processed. There are compelling reasons that grains without proper processing can cause a world of woe for your digestive system. If the grains are highly processed, they’re nothing more than empty calories. Some people have problems with gluten in certain grains. That can also cause gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Grains are vital for heart health and help prevent stroke, chronic inflammation, and diabetes, but eating the wrong type can contribute to those problems.

Grains are seeds and Mother Nature has ways to protect them.

Reproducing the species is a driving force of any living entity, whether it’s plants or animals. Each type of plant has a way that ensures seeds are spread far and wide and they only sprout when conditions are prime. One way seeds ensure this is the method of spreading the seed and precautions taken. Animals and birds eat grain seeds. Their hard shell protects them from digestive juices, allowing animals to excrete them in another area, complete with fertilizer. If conditions aren’t right, the enzyme inhibitor in the seed prevents it from sprouting. The enzyme inhibitors also affect the body by blocking digestive enzymes, which slows or stops digestion.

Grains contain phytic acid, lectins, and complex proteins.

Grains contain lectins which are natural insecticides to protect the infant plant from insects. It can cause digestive issues. They also contain phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient that blocks the absorption of phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. Grains also contain complex proteins that are harder to digest. They can cause glycation that leads to AGEs—Advanced Glycation End Products. AGEs can cause several health issues, including chronic inflammation and diabetes.

It’s all about how they’re processed.

Whole grains are better than processed grains. Whole grains contain bran, the germ, and the endosperm. When it’s highly processed, the healthiest parts, the bran and germ, are removed, leaving only the endosperm. The endosperm lacks nutrients and is primarily starch. Whole grains are more nutritious but not necessarily the healthiest option. The grain should be soaked, sprouted, or fermented before grinding to eliminate phytic acid, lectins, and enzyme inhibitors.

  • Using heirloom varieties of grain or pseudo-grains can also help reduce or eliminate gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Heirloom wheat varieties contain far less gluten than the commercial wheat used today.
  • Enzyme inhibitors protect the seeds to such a point that thousands of years old seeds found in pyramids still sprouted when planted and watered.
  • One type of processing that also affects the benefits of grains is bleaching and additives to increase shelf life. The empty calories of the highly processed grain combined with any added sugar can create food with few benefits and many detriments.
  • Not all types of grains create issues. If you have problems with modern wheat, consider sorghum, millet, amaranth, oatmeal, brown rice, kamut, or barley.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

Top Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

Top Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

Anyone who comes to Iron Fit in San Antonio, TX, knows how good they feel after a heart-pounding session of HIIT—high intensity interval training—or traditional strength training. That’s due to the stress relief that exercise provides. Many don’t realize that yoga poses can also provide the same benefits but in a more serene way.

Let your muscles heal by doing active recovery with yoga.

Your muscles need at least 48-72 hours to heal after a tough workout. If you don’t provide that healing time, it’s counterproductive. You don’t have to worry about doing two days of intense workouts in a row to get that exhilaration and stress relief. Just using the breathing techniques of yoga can offer quick results with little effort. You can calm your body by focusing on breathing and slowly inhaling through your nostrils and exhaling through your mouth.

A child pose is one of the most relaxing.

You’ll feel your stress drain away with the child pose. It starts with your body weight on the palms of the hands and knees. Fold your legs so the front of the lower legs rests on the floor. Exhale as you lower your bottom until it touches your heels. Slide your hands forward, extending your arms until your chest touches your thighs, with your arms fully outstretched and your forehead on the ground. Hold the pose as you breathe deeply, feeling your stress melt away with each breath.

Moving like a cobra helps relax the muscles in the back while bringing relief from stress.

Start this pose by lying flat with the top of your feet on the floor and your hands under your shoulders. Your elbow should be bent with your fingers pointing forward. Keeping your elbows close to the body, press down your lower body from the ribs down as you push your upper body upward. Exhale as you do this. Lift your upper body off the floor by straightening your arms, arching your upper body, and holding your head as high as possible. Hold the pose for 30 seconds as you do focused breathing.

  • The cat-cow combination of poses brings back and stress relief. Start on your hands and knees and raise your head as you drop your stomach for the cow pose. Move to the cat pose where you lower your head and arch your back.
  • The corpse pose doesn’t sound very inviting but it does help calm the mind. Lie on your back with your feet to the side edges of the mat and arms open to the sides, with your palms up. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and relax.
  • The garland pose looks like a deep squat with your feet pointing outward and knees spread. Your upper arms are inside your knees with your elbows bent and palms together. Lower your bottom as you squat, pressing your elbows into your thighs.
  • Do three-part breathing. Breathe in through the nose. Fill your lungs and belly. Hold and release the air by exhaling.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

Resistance Bands Vs Free Weights

Resistance Bands Vs Free Weights

There are times you can’t make it to the gym or you just feel the need to workout to destress. That’s when you need an at-home workout. You can use bodyweight exercises but if you want equipment, resistance bands or free weights can be purchased. Which is the best to buy? Is there a difference in the results? Which fits your lifestyle best? One advantage of resistance bands is they’re lightweight and easy to pack if you travel. The same isn’t true of free weights.

Your budget, experience, and needs can determine the choice you make.

Resistance bands are the most budget-friendly strength-building equipment. You can get a variety of resistance levels for around $10. While one set of dumbbells can cost about the same or slightly more, they’re just one weight, so as you get fitter, you have to purchase more weights. Some free weights require a spotter. Kettlebells require more extensive training. Free weights also use gravity as their resistance. Focusing on proper positioning and form is imperative. Resistance bands create tension by stretching. You can change the angle and direction and work muscles on the horizontal or vertical plane.

If you want bulk, free weights may be the best.

Resistance bands work great for building strength but they aren’t necessarily the best for building bulk. While resistance bands work well to achieve most people’s goals, it doesn’t work as well for bodybuilders who want to look their best for competition. It requires far more planning and modification of the moves to get the same progressive overload. It’s simply easier to do with free weights.

Free weights are still the gold standard for building muscle.

Both free weights and resistance bands build muscle tissue, but it’s quicker with free weights. Part of the reason is how people use resistance bands. You won’t get the most benefits from resistance bands if you don’t stretch them to the maximum capacity. When you lift weights, you get the resistance the minute you lift them and that resistance is consistent throughout the entire workout. Each movement using resistance bands can vary the resistance.

  • If you’re only using home equipment occasionally and use the gym at other times, the best option may be resistance bands. They’re easy to store and don’t cost much. If you use them infrequently, they’re the best option.
  • Some people may have a problem with resistance bands due to a latex allergy. There are non-latex versions. Like free weights, always check bands for nicks, wear, and tear to stay safe.
  • Just like kettlebells, resistance bands can provide a full-body workout. You get strength and flexibility training, too.
  • Resistance bands can provide an alternative to keep you interested in exercise. It’s easier to vary your workout at the gym, but it becomes more limited and difficult at home. Resistance bands help break the monotony if you’re only doing bodyweight workouts.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

Build Muscle Fast

Build Muscle Fast

At Iron Fit Strength and HIIT, we help you build muscle fast. We provide strength training, HIIT strength training alternatives, and nutrition counseling so you have the nutrients to build muscle and have a speedier recovery. Nutritional counseling also helps show off your muscles. If they’re buried under a layer of fat, how can anyone see them? You don’t need supplements to create muscle or dangerous drugs. You need the right training designed specifically to match your fitness level, lifestyle, goals, and special needs.

It all starts in the kitchen.

You need a diet that boosts the potential for muscle gain to give you speedier growth. What you eat makes a huge difference in whether you’ll be as successful as possible or fail. High-quality protein should be part of your diet, as well as healthy fats and carbs. Consider a pre-workout and post-workout snack to give you the energy to do your best and boost recovery. Our Macros Coach will provide the right plan for you that’s customized.

You won’t get quicker results by putting in long hours.

Some people want quicker results so they do an intense workout daily, exercising all muscles in their body for several hours. That’s counterproductive. Your muscles need some rest to heal. When you do strength training it causes micro tears in the muscle tissue. They need a day or two to heal and become stronger. Working out smarter is the best route and we provide that. Using HIIT—high intensity interval training—can keep your workouts shorter while being more productive. Don’t work the same muscles every day. Keep your workout under 75 minutes, especially if it’s intense.

Circuit training builds lean muscle mass.

You can get your desired results in one-hour sessions three times a week. Our circuit training will help build muscle and improve endurance with a high-energy workout that provides accountability. We focus on compound movements using kettlebells that provide whole-body training for a more efficient workout. Strength-building requires a multi-pronged approach that uses weights and bodyweight workouts to achieve desired goals.

  • It takes the right type of exercise and combinations of exercises to get faster results. That’s why using all types of strength-building programs gives faster results.
  • We modify the workout to match your fitness goals. People of all fitness levels benefit from the program. If you want to build muscles faster, change your workout and make it more difficult frequently as you become fitter.
  • Stay hydrated during workouts. Drink plenty of water an hour or two before you start. Sip water throughout your workout. Lack of hydration can drain your energy and make your efforts less efficient.
  • Getting adequate sleep is vital to building muscle tissue. Your body repairs all tissues when you sleep. Since building muscle starts by repairing muscle tissue, lack of sleep can limit muscle building.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio