Channel Islands Insight

“Lean back and stow your paddles,” I bark out as our kayaks approach the narrow sea cave entrance. Sunlight reflected in the water, lights the cave from below and creates a majestic emerald glow that glistens off of the volcanic rock ceiling. We’re in the “Green Room.”

Our kayaks enter the main chamber where more than 20,000 years of winter waves have beaten the more erosive rock away. This is one of over 200 sea caves at the Channel Islands National Park, one of the best places in the world to explore these types of rock formations. “Oooohs” and “Ahhhhs,” are all I hear as the kayakers glide through the chamber and back to the exit.

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The Struggle of Self-Control

Food cravings – we all get them. But why are some so hard to control? While the answer to this question may seemingly be that we crave the foods we love most and cannot get enough of them simply because they taste so great, the science behind cravings is actually much more complicated. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), published a study in 2002 that investigated the neurological connections between food-addiction and dopamine, one of the brain’s neurotransmitters that help to control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. She found that when people were presented with their favorite foods, but not allowed to eat them, they experienced dopamine surges through the part of their brains involved with wanting and craving called the striatum area. In addition, the dopamine traveled through the areas of their brain that is involved in habit and addiction.

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Breakfast: The First and Best Meal of the Day

Eating breakfast everyday is one of the top diet tips recommended by scientists and nutritionists. Eating a balanced meal every day, within the first hour of getting out of bed poses a huge challenge to many Americans. Unfortunately, the nation’s failure to attend to the importance of breakfast has led to the overwhelming amount of obese people, heart attack patients, and diabetics. By putting a spotlight on breakfast as the most important meal of the day, we may one day see a more healthy, youthful, and energized population. There are three tips that are predominantly important when considering how to start your day off right. Buying healthy and easy foods, consuming nutrient-packed foods, and keeping this pattern consistent every day will energize you throughout your day and will help you to achieve your long-term health goals.

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Why Women Should Lift Weights

Alright ladies, we know when you hear the term weightlifting you think of bulging biceps or thunderous thighs that make you look freakishly ripped. But unless you are consuming pounds of protein or large doses of hormones on a daily basis, this will not be the case. Weightlifting has a lot of benefits for women that often go unnoticed. Instead of thinking of it as weight training, think of it as strength training. Research shows that completing two strength-training sessions a week can help you burn more fat overall and sculpt those lean muscles that you are striving for. So take a break from your usual cardio routines and opt for a strength-training exercise a few times a week. Here are some reasons why you should start today!

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Lightened Liquids

It seems that the mindfulness we use when considering the caloric value of the foods we eat is completely forgotten when it comes to consuming liquids. Despite their seemingly harmless nature and the tendency to feel as though drinks “don’t really count” in your daily calorie count, liquid calories can add up dangerously fast if you are not aware of exactly what they contain. The surplus of calories from liquid intake sneaks up on you and can derail your health and fitness efforts packing unnecessary calories, sugars and carbs into your diet. The good news is small changes can yield a great deal of health benefits and even the most indulgent of drinks can be traded for a lighter alternative. The key to smart sipping is to be knowledgeable of what you are putting in your body. Knowledge is power and when armed with the proper knowledge, you have the power to make wiser decisions that will benefit your body inside and out. We will examine some great low calorie drink options as well as some unhealthy but popular picks and easy ways to lighten them up!

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The Bitter Truth About Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

You’re midway through your workday, and you start to crash. Water won’t cut it, so you reach for a soda at the nearest vending machine. The sugary drink will put the pep back in your step, but do you know how it will affect your body in the long-term? Studies show that these drinks can lead to increased risk of obesity and other serious health issues.

There have been countless studies on the topic of sugary drinks, and lately with the addition of the new My Plate food pyramid, awareness has increased about the health risks of sugar consumption, resulting in a push for the avoidance of sugary beverages.  This issue is so prevalent that the first tip on My Plate’s “Tips For Healthy Eating When Eating Out” page reads: “As a beverage choice, ask for water…or other drinks without added sugars.”  With diagnoses of diabetes and obesity increasing exponentially–especially in children–the war on sugar seems to be stronger than ever.

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Healthy Breakfast Recipes

Whether it is the media, doctors, friends or family, it seems we are continually bombarded with “new and improved” ways to get fit or new nutrition fads to follow. These latest and greatest fads tend to come and go, yet even as other nutritional trends are abandoned the importance of eating a well-balanced breakfast is a nutritional encouragement that has consistently maintained its status as an essential eating habit over the years. While many often assume that forgoing breakfast may be an easy way to cut out calories, multiple studies have shown that skipping breakfast is linked to the development of obesity and can actually make controlling your weight more difficult. Those who consume a vitamin-filled breakfast are less likely to over-indulge throughout the rest of the day and are more likely to fulfill their daily-recommended value of fruits and vegetables.

One of the most common excuses alleged by those who tend to skip their morning meal is that they don’t have time in the morning to prepare anything and because of this lack of time end up skipping the meal altogether. A nutritious breakfast fuels your body and brain and sets you up for success for the day ahead. Even if you find yourself pressed for time in the morning, it is crucial that you set aside a few extra minutes to whip up a quick meal, or think ahead and make something in advance that you can take to go and just grab on your way out the door. Read on for four delicious breakfast recipes that are packed with essential vitamins and can be made in minutes!

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Healthy Snack Foods

Everyone strives to find those healthy snack foods to hold them over for their next meal without turning to the typical junk food choices that fill you up fast and leave you hungry soon after. The trick is to find meals that are high in both fiber and protein, which allows for a slower digestion. As a result, it leaves you feeling fuller longer.

Snacking is all a part of following a healthy balanced diet, however it is important to stick to low-calorie snacks and to plan them accordingly between meals. It is logical to believe that cutting calories will often leave you still feeling hungry, but with the right choices it is possible to pick foods that substitute the lack of caloric value with higher protein content. When you choose baked snacks such as potato chips, you are adding empty calories to your daily requirement instead of gaining any nutritional value. You are fooling your body that you are filling up when in reality you are eating snacks that will leave you feeling even hungrier afterwards. Oftentimes these poor chosen snacks may even have more calories than a full healthy meal.

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Music and Exercise: A Love Story

Music characterizes many of our modern day activities. We listen to music when we watch television shows and movies, when we eat dinner at a nice restaurant, and when we are relaxing by the pool with our friends. Most vibrantly however, we tend to make a conscious effort to listen to music while we exercise. We all may have different personal justifications for our desire to listen to music while working out.

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