Tags Articles tagged with "health"


Salmon Lyon

By Chef Neil Magbnua

Chef Neil Magbnua
Chef Neil Magbnua

When I was first told I would be contributing an article about healthy cooking, I was a bit taken aback. Being from the Midwest, specifically Michigan, my idea of healthy eating is a smaller piece of meatloaf, only one scoop of mashed potatoes, a salad with lite ranch and half of whatever dessert is offered (the other half will be eaten at a later time, likely 30 minutes later).

The dish I am sharing with you is one we did recently for a TroonFIT special. The challenge was to come up with a tasty lunch dish that was also under 500 calories. Quite a task for a chef who believes in the old saying, “Fat is Flavor.”

Salmon Lyon

Rice, portioned as needed
5-ounce salmon filet (thick cut, skin on preferred)
1 ounce red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon minced garlic
3 ounces olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herb of choice
4 cherry tomatoes cut in half
3 cucumber slices cut into strips
A few slivers of red onion to taste
Kosher salt
Cracked pepper

Cook the rice as needed. For us here at Arroyo Grille, that means 1 2/3 cups of water and 1 cup of Basmati rice simmered for 10 minutes. Then take off the heat to rest while still covered for 15 minutes. Fluff the rice immediately after to stop the cooking and cover to keep warm.

Whisk red wine vinegar, minced garlic, olive oil and herb. Add tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. For maximum flavor, allow this to marinate for 1 hour. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Dry the outside surface of the filet thoroughly with a paper towel. Brush a teaspoon of olive oil on the flesh side, season with salt and pepper, and place flesh side down on a very hot grill. The grill is hot enough if you can’t hold your hand over it for more than 2 seconds. Salmon is rich with healthy oils; as those oils are released, some smoking may occur. After 1 minute, check to see if the fish releases from the grill. If it doesn’t, don’t force it. It will release when there is a sufficient crust formed on the surface of the fish. Once the salmon is off the grill, place it in a dry, hot pan, skin side down, and cook to your liking in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. When the fish is done, simply slide a spatula between the skin and the fish. The skin helps to insulate the fish while it cooks, adds flavor and makes the fish easy to remove from the pan.

For best results, prepare in the following order; salad, rice, and then fish. To assemble the plate, place 3 ounces of rice in the center, top with the salmon, drain the salad of extra liquid, and place on top of the fish.

Good luck and good eating.

Neil Magbnua is chef at Arroyo Grille at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

by -
Alliance (c)

With the holidays now upon us, Cenpatico Integrated Care (Cenpatico IC) is offering advice to handle the stress of the season.

While this is usually considered a happy time for most people, the season can be extremely difficult for some. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed because there is so much to do. For others, this can be a challenging time due to economic problems, the recent loss of a loved one or other issues. This time can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness or depression.

Here are some steps that can be taken to help overcome the “holiday blues.”

• Take time for yourself – While you’re trying to get so much done for everyone else this holiday season, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Spend an evening with a good book or quiet music instead of watching television, and give yourself a break from the hustle of the holiday season.
• Don’t worry about how things should be – Comparing yourself to an ideal version of a perfect family or perfect holiday is not realistic. People from all walks of life have stressors to manage.
• Avoid overindulging – Overindulging in sweets and alcohol, will add to your stress and guilt. Try having a healthy snack before your next holiday party, remember to get plenty of sleep and incorporate regular physical activity.
• Volunteer – Many social service programs need volunteers during the busy holiday season. Participating, even if only for a few hours, can be a good way out of the doldrums. Helping people who are in need can be a rewarding experience.
• Budgets are helpful – Plan ahead and make a list before you go shopping for gifts or food. Decide how much you can afford to spend, and then stick to your budget.
• Seek help – If feelings of sadness, loneliness, or depression persist, make an appointment to see your doctor; you could be experiencing a seasonal pattern, or a biological or psychological challenge.  This time of year can be difficult for many, so be kind to yourself.

Cenpatico IC representatives are available at 1-866-495-6735 to speak with callers about their fears and concerns that may be related to a crisis situation. Crisis services are available to anyone in the community at no cost, regardless of insurance or other factors.

The local contracted provider is Arizona Counseling and Treatment Services at 20046 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 106-A.

Vegetable turnover

Vegetable Turnovers

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups cauliflower flowerets, chopped
2 medium-sized carrots, pared and chopped
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
2 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup egg whites
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
One packaged pastry for two 9-inch pie shells

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic. Sauté 1 minute. Add cauliflower and carrots. Sauté 5 minutes. Stir in peas. Cook 1 minute. Set aside to cool slightly.

Combine mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, egg white, salt, pepper and nutmeg in large bowl. Stir in vegetable mixture.

Roll pastry into two 11-inch rounds. Spoon half of vegetable mixture over half of one round. Fold over. Pinch edges together to seal. Crimp edge. Prick turnover with fork. Transfer to greased baking sheet. Repeat with second pastry and remaining vegetable mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Hot Turkey SaladRecipeschopped-turkey

1 cup cooked turkey, cubed
2 cups celery, chopped
1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
½ cup blanched almonds, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp salt
Slices of Swiss cheese
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine turkey, celery, green pepper, red pepper, onion and almonds. Add lemon juice, mayonnaise and salt. Stir well to blend. Spoon into 8×8 baking dish. Top with cheese slices. Combine melted butter and cracker crumbs; spoon over cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and slightly brown. Serves 4-6.

Pumpkin BreadRecipesPumpkin-bread

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 5x9x3 loaf pans; flour well.

In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In smaller bowl, stir pumpkin, oil and water. Add eggs, beating well after each.

In the large bowl, make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour pumpkin mixture into the well, stirring just enough to moisten all of the flour mixture. Pour into loaf pans.

Bake one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rest at least 10 minutes before removing from pans and then cool on wire racks.

Guiltless TrifleGuiltless-Trifle

1 angel food cake
Low-sugar strawberry jam
¼ cup cream sherry
2 small boxes sugar-free instant vanilla pudding prepared with non-fat milk
2 (8 oz) lite whipped cream
1 lb strawberries, sliced
2 kiwi, peeled and sliced
Mint leaves

Cut cake horizontally into ½-inch. Layer into clear glass trifle dish: cake, jam, sprinkling of sherry, pudding, whipped cream, fresh fruit. Repeat. Garnish with mint leaves.

This article appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Are sweet potatoes really healthier that white potatoes?

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange
Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

White v. sweet potato: A nutritional debate fueled by misinformation, baseless claims and carbohydrate fears. Here’s what the evidence says — and why they both deserve a place in your diet during the holidays and beyond.

Both white and sweet potatoes, when eaten as part of a balanced and intentional diet, provide a fantastic array of nutrients while contributing to the fullness and deliciousness of any meal.

Which are really healthier?
Claim 1: Sweet Potatoes are the “superfood.”
If all you want is Vitamin A, then sure, sweet potatoes get the win. But when you pit them against white potatoes for overall nutrition value, it’s a virtual tie.

Claim 2: Avoid potatoes because of the glycemic load.
Worried potatoes will make your blood sugar and appetite spike? Both potatoes and sweet potatoes fall in the middle to high range on the glycemic load scale. Total carbohydrates and calorie intake has a bigger impact on important health markers. Plus, glycemic load is generally irrelevant to health and leanness because your blood sugar’s response to food varies.

Claim 3: Avoid all potatoes because of carbs.
Think the carbs will cause weight gain? Actually, the carbs in potatoes and sweet potatoes are mostly starch and fiber, which help you stay healthy and lean. Potatoes contain beneficial starch, which, like fiber, doesn’t digest at all. Resistant starch and fiber get fermented in the gut, producing short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids may keep you fuller longer, act as fuel for healthy gut bacteria, prevent absorption of toxins, decrease inflammation and decrease risk of colon cancer.

How to eat potatoes and sweet potatoes
Potatoes get a bad rap because they’re often used in high-calorie dishes. In reality, there’s a range of ways in which potatoes and sweet potatoes fit into a healthy diet. Eat more often: Boiled, roasted, baked, olive oil and herbs, topped with salt. Eat less often: Mashed with cream and butter, loaded, fried, chips.

How much to eat
Start with 1 to 2 cupped handfuls of your choice of white or sweet potatoes per meal. Then, adjust portion sizes up or down based on Individual goals such as fat loss or fuel for athletics performance, body size (smaller people need less), individual carb needs (higher for active, lean people) and individual preferences.

Benefits of eating potatoes and sweet potatoes
•    Helps you feel psychologically satisfied and physically satiated
•    Ensures that your diet has “carb variety” and keeps colorful food on your plate
•    Gives you steady, slow-burn energy
•    Helps you get beyond “good foods” vs. “bad foods”
•    Helps you achieve health and fitness goals

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

By Claire Bullivant

Claire Bullivant
Claire Bullivant

Sadly, this is going to be my last article for InMaricopa. Bead & Berry is closing its Maricopa location and hopefully doing something new elsewhere in the near future. In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with a quick guide to staying healthy over the holidays.

Christmas has become synonymous with overeating and drinking – an almost compulsory homage to gluttony that begins months earlier than is reasonable (‘Bah humbug!’). But is it possible to avoid binging and yet still enjoy the holiday?

Here are a few tips:

1) Eat a hearty protein-packed breakfast on Christmas morning, so you’ll be less tempted to overeat at lunch.

2) Plan ahead. Offer to bring a salad or healthy side to the festivities. This way, you’ll know there will be at least one nutritious dish you can munch on.

3) Fill up on the healthiest, low calorie foods first. Indulge in the richer foods once you’re less hungry and put just a small amount on your plate to satiate the palate.

4) As Christmas is no longer a one-day event, avoid getting suck(er)ed into the Christmas ‘feel good’ aisle in supermarkets.  Just because those unneeded calories are dressed up in candy-stick red and white doesn’t mean they need to go home with you.

5) To enjoy the run up to the season, make your own favorite cookie recipes healthier by using these substitutes:

•    Opt for superfood coconut oil to replace margarine and refined oils.

•    Sweeten with unrefined brown sugar or stevia, honey, molasses, maple syrup or bananas instead of refined white sugar.

•    Instead of eggs, use ground flax and/or chia seeds with water – the health benefits of these two super-seeds (ahem) supersede eggs on a myriad of fronts.

•    Replace about half the white flour in the recipe with whole grain flour.

With that, I wish you all a very merry Christmas!

This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

by -

Pinal County Public Health Services District would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Holidays are times we share the kitchen with family and friends. Here are some tips that all cooks can follow this holiday season for cooking a delicious and safely prepared turkey. When preparing a turkey, be aware of the four main safety issues: thawing, preparing, stuffing, and cooking to adequate temperature.

Safe Thawing

Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The “danger zone” is between 41°F and 130°F – the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. As soon as a frozen turkey starts to thaw, bacteria present become viable and can multiply. The best way to avoid a problem when thawing a turkey is to plan ahead and place the turkey in the refrigerator a few days prior to cooking. If that is not possible, other safe alternatives include thawing in cold running water, or in a microwave oven. Never thaw a turkey by leaving it out on the counter or in standing water for an extended period of time.

Safe Preparation

Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw turkey can then be transferred to other foods. Even if you cook the turkey, some of the other foods may not be cooked and may be contaminated. This is called cross contamination. After working with raw poultry, meat or fish always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods. When washing your hands, be sure to use warm water, and lather with soap for 20 seconds. To be extra safe, you can sanitize utensils and surfaces with a solution of one teaspoon of household bleach per gallon of water.

Safe Stuffing

The safest way to prepare stuffing is to cook it outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, many people enjoy traditional stuffing roasted inside the turkey. If you place stuffing inside the turkey, it should be cooked to the same temperature as the turkey itself. Add stuffing to the body cavity just before cooking. Ensure the stuffing is thoroughly cooked using a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F, possibly resulting in foodborne illness.

Safe Cooking

Whether you roast, fry, or smoke your turkey, the best way to ensure it is fully cooked is to check the temperature with a food thermometer. Verify the internal temperature at the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. The turkey and stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Food thermometers not only help us to ensure the food is cooked thoroughly, but also help us prevent overcooking.

Pinal County Public Health Services District has a goal to prevent disease, promote health, and provide nutrition services to the residents of Pinal County. The Environmental Health Services Division conducts inspections of permitted facilities, monitors the community for disease vectors, and investigates public health nuisance complaints. If you would like more information on our programs, or to file a complaint, please visit our webpage at www.pinalcountyaz.gov/ehs or call 866-287-0209.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids come in liquid, powder or pill form. Aim for 10-15 g per hour of training.

P+C DRINK: In some cases you’ll want to use a protein + carbohydrate (P+C) drink during exercise. For every hour of training, you’ll have: 15g protein (1/2 scoop protein powder) + 30-45 g carbs (2 cups juice or sports drink)

Try to select products that contain no sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.

In my last article, we focused on how optimized nutrition can help you recover faster from injury. Let’s now take a look at how nutrition and select supplements can be optimized to assist with getting more out of your training sessions.

With the overabundance of information available on optimal nutrition and supplementation, it’s easy to suffer from paralysis by analysis. Let’s make it simpler. Here’s what to eat before, during and after exercise broken down by body type and goal.

I’m generally lean, with a smaller frame and thinner limbs. I have a fast metabolism and tolerate carbs well. I’m usually trying to gain muscle or support my endurance exercise.


Before Exercise
Eat “ectomorph meal” 1-2 hours before activity.

During Exercise
For weight gain: 1 P+C drink
For endurance support: 1 P+C drink
For fat loss: BCAAs or water
For maintenance: BCAAs or water

After Exercise
Eat “ectomorph meal” 1-2 hours after activity

THE ECTOMORPH MEAL (use your hand to measure)

2 palms of protein-dense foods (e.g. chicken, fish)
2 fists of vegetables (e.g. broccoli, kale, spinach)
3 cupped handfuls of carb-dense foods (e.g. fruits, root vegetables)
1 Thumb of fat-dense foods (e.g. nuts, coconut oil)

1 palm of protein dense foods
1 fist of vegetables
2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
½ thumb of fat-dense foods

I’m generally athletic looking with a medium-sized frame. I seem to gain muscle and stay lean easily. I’m usually trying to optimize my physique or boost my sports performance.


Before Exercise
Eat “mesomorph meal” 1-2 hours before activity.

During Exercise
For weight gain: 1 P+C drink or BCAAs
For endurance support: 1 P+C drink
For fat loss: BCAAs or water
For maintenance: BCAAs or water

After Exercise
Eat “mesomorph meal” 1-2 hours after activity

THE MESOMORPH MEAL (use your hand to measure)

2 palms of protein-dense foods
2 fists of vegetables
2 cupped handfuls of carb-dense foods
2 thumbs of fat-dense foods

1 palm of protein-dense foods
1 fist of vegetables
1 cupped handful of carb-dense foods
1 thumb of fat-dense foods

I generally have a large frame and am heavier than most. I have a slower metabolism and don’t tolerate carbs as well. I’m usually trying to lose fat or support my strength.


Before Exercise
Eat “endomorph meal” 1-2 hours before activity.

During Exercise
For weight gain: BCAAs or water
For endurance support: BCAAs or water
For fat loss: BCAAs or water
For maintenance: BCAAs or water

After Exercise
Eat “endomorph meal” 1-2 hours after activity.

THE ENDOMORPH MEAL (use your hand to measure)

2 palms of protein-dense foods
2 fists of vegetables
1 cupped handful of carb-dense foods
3 thumbs of fat-dense foods

1 palm of protein dense foods
1 fist of vegetables
½ cupped handful of carb-dense foods
2 thumb of fat-dense foods

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

By Claire Bullivant

Claire Bullivant
Claire Bullivant

Hands up anyone who has tried to lose weight, eat healthier and failed. What went wrong?

One of my top three strategies for successful, healthy eating is time management. Any intent to eat well gets forgotten when I have to rush out of the door or meet a deadline. In that mode, I grab anything from anywhere – and it’s usually not good.

That’s why healthy meals in a jar are so brilliant. These jars are airtight so food can usually last three or four days without spoiling, which means you can make food for half the week, put the lid on and not think about it again until you grab it from the fridge – take it to work, eat it at home or make it a healthy TV dinner.

You can prepare food in jars for your kids so they have a hearty meal waiting for them anytime.

You can freeze certain meals. I’ve made lasagne, chili con carne, even chicken and mashed potato. Caution when microwaving the glass jars, though. I only microwave from fridge temperature, and my attempts to heat glass jars in the oven got … well, shattered. And you might have to invest in a mason jar koozie (yes, it does exist!).

What about salads? Until now, the main reason not to pack a salad was the dressing; if you dress the salad, you are later left with a wilted pile of greens. And if you take the dressing in a separate container, the risk of it spilling is off-putting. Not so, the mason jar salad. There’s a plethora of pictures and advice about how to make these salads on the web and I highly recommend taking a peek, so that you can have grab and go healthy food every day.

If healthy, convenient, fast food exists, this is it.

Claire Bullivant is the owner of Bead & Berry Coffee House, which has a grand re-opening this fall.

This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Even at Longevity Athletics – with our professionally supervised, scientifically formulated and individually tailored fitness experience – accidents happen. The question is, when they do, how can you help the body heal?

It’s not an uncommon notion that nutrition can play a powerful role in injury recovery. Yet when injury strikes, very few know how to put sound nutrition strategies together to improve healing.

In this article, I will introduce proven, best practices for using nutrition to speed up the healing process and get you back in the game – pronto.

Recovering from Injury: How the Body Gets it Done

Tissue Damage – whether from surgery or injury, sets into motion a three-stage recovery process.

1st stage: Inflammation

Pain, swelling, redness and heat; brings in healing chemicals to the injured area.

2nd Stage: Proliferation

Damaged tissues are removed; new blood supply and temporary tissue to the rescue.

3rd Stage: Remodeling

Stronger, more permanent tissue replaces the temporary tissue.

Nutrition for Inflammation Stage

Inflammation is critical as it starts the repair process. Too much, however, can cause additional damage. These strategies help produce the right amount.

Eat anti-inflammatory fats including:
•    Olive oil
•    Avocados
•    Fish oil
•    Flax oil or ground flax
•    Fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines
•    Mixed nuts and seeds

Stay away from pro-inflammatory things Like:
•    Processed foods high in saturated fats
•    Vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean
•    Foods with trans fats

Introduce inflammation-managing herbs and spices:
•    Curcumin from turmeric/curry power – 7 teaspoons a day of powder or 400-600mg in supplement form
•    Garlic – 2-4 cloves a day or 600-1200mg of aged garlic extract
•    Bromelain from pineapple – 2 cups of pineapple a day or 500-1000mg in supplement form
•    Cocoa, tea and berries
•    Eat daily or supplement with blueberry or grape extracts, green tea extracts, citrus extracts and bioflavonoid supplements

Nutrition for Proliferation and Remodeling Stages

Getting enough of the right foods is the first priority. Metabolism can increase 15-50 percent, so you will need fewer calories than when training hard but more than when inactive.

With each meal:
1.    Eat enough protein; minimally processed meats, eggs, plant-based proteins and protein supplements.
2.    Balance your dietary fat about 1/3 of fat intake from saturated, 1/3 from monosaturated, 1/3 from polyunsaturated.
3.    Eat the rainbow with a vibrant mix of fruits and veggies.
4.    Eat enough carbs. You will need less carbs than when training hard but enough to support recovery; the less processed the carbs the better with a preference to root vegetables and fibrous fruits.

Supplements to consider

Supplementing with the following for 2-4 weeks’ post-injury may be helpful:
•    Vitamin A – 10,000IU per day
•    Vitamin C – 1g-2g per day
•    Copper – 2-4mg per day
•    Zinc – 15-30mg per day

Other potentially beneficial supplements are:
•    Arginine
•    HMB
•    Glutamine
•    Proteolytic enzymes

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Though still not extremely healthy, turkey bacon can be a substitute for pork bacon. Submitted photo

By Claire Bullivant

Claire Bullivant
Claire Bullivant

Bacon is to savory food what chocolate is to the dessert world.

If you put bacon into a meal, people’s eyes light up. It has much the same effect as adding chocolate chips to cookies. Case in point – would the lettuce and tomato sandwich have made it to fame without the B in the BLT? Most of us agree bacon’s crispy combination of salty, fatty meatiness is delicious.

Nevertheless, opinions on the health properties of bacon vary widely. Some proponents say about half the fats in bacon are healthy, brushing over the fact that the other half is saturated fats and that 68 percent of calories in these strips of pig are fat.

Research shows eating high levels of saturated fats can be a contributing factor to heart disease and stroke.

I’m definitely in the minority of people who don’t eat pork bacon. But I do offer turkey bacon in my shop in various dishes. Turkey bacon, while not being a superfood by any standard, still has the salty meatiness people crave without so much of the bad stuff. And if a slice if turkey bacon makes that gluten-free spinach muffin go down a little easier – why not?

Despite the apparently healthy fats and nutritional value in the meat, there are some people for whom bacon of any kind is a no-no. According to the Gerson Institute, consuming animal fats and salt is part of a killer combination to create a breeding ground for cancer cells. Dr. Max Gerson discovered that by drinking cold-pressed juices and cutting down on salt and animal fats among other techniques, the body can sometimes rid itself of cancer – that’s what propelled us into bottling cold-pressed juices.

So, should we outlaw this undeniable love affair with salty, fatty meat? The sad fact is, most people will be willing to do it only after they get sick.

Claire Bullivant is the owner of Bead & Berry Coffee Shop.

This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Why sleep is so important, and how to get more of it

What we experience and learn during the day is solidified when we sleep.

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange
Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

If your nutrition and exercise are on point but you still don’t feel or look the way you want, poor sleep may be the culprit. Let’s get into how we can make rest a daily priority.

4 Signs Your Sleep Habits Aren’t Cutting it

1. Brain fog

What we experience and learn during the day is solidified when we sleep. Interference with this process causes:
•    Confusion
•    Reduced alertness and concentration
•    Impaired judgment
•    Forgetfulness

2. You are getting sick … a lot

When you don’t sleep enough, T-cells go down and inflammation goes up resulting in:
•    Increased vulnerability to viruses and bacteria
•    Increased risk of heart disease and other inflammatory illnesses

3. You are unhappy

While we sleep, hormone production is regulated. Interference here causes:
•    Emotional instability
•    Heightened stress
•    Worsened mood

4. You are struggling with your weight

Poor sleep is linked to excess body fat, as it can:
•    Disrupt appetite regulation
•    Cause you to feel hungrier
•    Lead to increased food consumption

7 Ways to Prepare for a Good Night’s Rest

As odd as it may seem, your path to great sleep starts first thing in the morning.

1. Rise at the right time

You will feel better and more alert if you wake from a light sleep stage. If you feel groggy, try using a device or app that senses sleep cycles and wakes you at the best time.

2. Get moving immediately

Movement can speed the waking process, whereas hitting the snooze button does the opposite. When it’s time to wake, sit up, put your feet on the floor, and get moving!

3. Be careful of alcohol and caffeine

Consuming caffeine after 2 p.m. and/or having more than 1-2 drinks in the evening can prevent deep sleep.

4. Exercise

Regular exercise helps normalize your body’s 24-hour clock, regulate your fight-or-flight system and optimize your hormone levels.

5. Eat a small to medium dinner

Too much food can make it harder to fall asleep. A blend of minimally processed proteins, fats, and slow-digesting carbs can keep you satisfied until morning and make you feel sleepy.

6. Clear your mind

Whatever thoughts are in your head, get them out and onto paper. This prepares for you for genuine relaxation.

7. Sleep at least seven hours

Most people need at least seven hours of sleep a night. Even adding 30 minutes can make a big difference.

More Tips for Better Sleep

Turn Off Electronics: Stay away from all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. Artificial light interferes with our production of melatonin, which insures deep sleep and helps regulate metabolism.

Unwind: Reading, meditation and gentle movement (stretching, yoga, walking) can release tension and activate relaxation chemicals.

Be Cool: Most people sleep better when it’s cool (around 67° F).

Darken Your Room: To maximize melatonin production, cover your windows and make sure your phone is face-down. Use a motion-sensitive or dim light to illuminate mid-sleep bathroom trips.

Aaron Gilbert, CSC, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

It’s a fact – we all get sick. But it’s not easy knowing what to do about it. Is exercise, or rest, the best medicine? Let’s find out.


When we are faced with a foreign attack, our immune system works hard to defend us.

•    Innate Immunity (natural immunity)
•    Physical Structural barriers (like mucous lining in nasal passages)
•    Chemical barriers (like our stomach acids)
•    Protective cells (NK cells – white blood cells that can destroy harmful invaders)
•    Adaptive Immunity (acquired immunity)

Acquired immune response is the reason for vaccination. Subject your body to a tiny dose of a pathogen, and it will know what to do when confronted with a bigger dose.

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Every day, bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites infiltrate us. It’s a germ nightmare out there. And the most common invaders cause colds, sinusitis, middle ear infections, influenza, coughs, tonsillitis and throat infections.

How Exercise Affects the Immune System

One Time Exercises:
•    Moderate Intensity Exercise Session (20-60 minutes) – Can boost Immunity
•    Prolonged Vigorous Exercise Session (2 or more hours) – Depresses the adaptive immune system.

Chronic Exercises:
•    Resistance Training – stimulates innate immunity
•    Moderate Exercise – strengthens adaptive immunity

Other Factors Affecting Immunity

Stress – It’s a big factor that affects the immune system. Adding the stress of prolonged vigorous exercise to a weakened immune system will simply overload it.

Age – Our innate immune response can break down as we get older. But staying physically active and eating a nutritious diet can reverse many of these changes.

Sleep – Poor sleep quality and/or prolonged sleep deprivation jeopardizes immune function.

Training Age – A higher level of fitness is protective as it may limit the stress response to exercise.

What You Should Do

If you feel healthy and simply want to prevent getting sick, stay moderately active most days of the week. If you participate in high-intensity workouts, make sure you’re getting enough rest and recovery time. Manage extreme stress levels, get plenty of sleep and wash your hands.

If you are already feeling sick, let your symptoms be your guide. Consider all the stress you are managing in your life (e.g. psychological, environmental).

With a cold/sore throat (no fever or body aches/pains), easy exercise is likely fine as tolerated [e.g. low heart-rate “cardio” (100-150 bpm) during the first few days of sickness, such as 20-30 minutes of walking].  You probably don’t want to do anything vigorous, no matter how long the duration.

If you have a systemic illness with fever, elevated heart rate, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain/weakness, and enlarged lymph nodes, get some rest! If you have a serious virus and you exercise, it can cause problems.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.

This column appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

Most people know that regularly engaging in cardiovascular exercise is beneficial to the body in many ways. Some of these benefits include the following: strengthens the heart muscle, increases metabolism, improves lung function, increases energy, and decreases fat. What many people don’t know is the level of intensity they should be exercising at. Typically the intensity of cardiovascular exercise is determined by how many times your heart beats per minute. There is a simple formula to use to figure out if you are exercising at an optimal level.

The first step in determining your target heart rate is to calculate what your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is. This is determined in the following way: 220 – Age = Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). I am currently 44 years old so my Target Heart Rate would be calculated in the following manner: 220 – 44 = 176.

The second step is deciding upon the intensity of the exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) uses the following percentages to assist you in determining your ideal target heart rate. Beginners should calculate their target heart rate at 50 to 65 percent of their maximum heart rate. Intermediate exercisers should calculate their target heart rate at 60 to 75 percent of their maximum heart rate. Advanced exercisers should calculate their target heart rate at 70 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate. It is best to calculate your target heart rate using both percentages that way you have a range to adhere to.

I will use myself as an example again to determine how I would calculate my target heart rate.

Step 1: 220 – age         220 – 44 = 176

Step 2: 176 x .7 = 123 beats per minute (bpm)

Step 3: 176 x .85 = 150 beats per minute (bpm)

Target heart rate = 123 to 150 beats per minute

As you can see from my example this is a very basic calculation. The final step is knowing how to properly take a pulse. Proper location is everything when taking a pulse. The two most common locations for finding your pulse is at the wrist and the side of your neck.

The radial pulse is located at the base of your thumb. With your opposing hand place two finger tips on this area (do not use your opposing thumb) and feel for the pulse. The carotid pulse is located by pressing the finger tips against the side of the trachea aka “windpipe.”

When taking a pulse during exercise it is best to take the pulse for 15 seconds and then multiply the beats time four. Sometimes it can be difficult to get an accurate count when trying to count pulses for 60 seconds and exercising at the same time.

If you find that checking your pulse is too difficult while exercising I would recommend purchasing a wireless heart rate monitor. This takes the hassle out of checking your pulse and these wireless monitors are much more accurate than the hand held monitors found on many cardiovascular exercise machines.

Determining your target heart rate is important for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is to avoid under or overtraining. If you are undertraining you are less likely to meet your fitness goals. If you are overtraining you may be susceptible to injury.


Melone, L. (2012, January 13). American College of Sports Medicine. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.acsm.org/

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College. Contact him at craig.nolan@mesacc.edu.


Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

My fitness tracker is telling me I must burn at least 600 calories during each Longevity Athletics training session this week to lose three pounds! Okay, let’s do this! Hold on there … unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Let’s explore three reasons why daily activity tracking and exercise counts can be problematic.

1) Calorie-burn estimates are not precise.

The calorie burn figures you see in articles, online calculators and fitness trackers are based on averages with large margins for error. Popular methods include:

•    Direct Calorimetry – Scientists use a hermetically sealed chamber to measure energy burned. It’s the most expensive method, and rarely used because of it. Margin of error: up to 3.3 percent.

•    Indirect Calorimetry – Gas exchange measurements are taken to estimate energy expenditure. This is the preferred method behind all of the calorie burn estimates you see. Margin of error: up to 45 percent!

•    Consumer Fitness Trackers – Most are off by about 30 percent for total daily calorie expenditure. For aerobic exercise, popular devices show error rate between 9 and 23 percent. One such device, the MyZone MZ3 Physical Activity Belt, used exclusively at Longevity Athletics, will provide the least amount of error with the accuracy of an EKG monitor.

2) Individuals burn calories uniquely and variably.

Many factors affect the true calories burned during exercise and rest, including:

•    Genes – A single variation in what’s called the FTO gene can cause you to burn 160 fewer calories per day.

•    Epigenetics – External factors affect how are genes are expressed. For example, in mice, when a mother eats more of a specific nutrient during pregnancy, her offspring burn 5 percent more calories a day. Human studies indicate similar outcomes.

•    Sleep – Sleep deprivation for a single night has the potential to decrease calories burned that day by 5-20 percent.

3) What and how much you eat influences how many calories you’ll burn

For example, in response to overeating, your metabolism increases. However, some people’s metabolism will adapt and burn more that others’. In a laboratory setting, a group of individuals consumed 1,000 more calories than they needed per day for eight weeks, and at the end of the study some gained as little as 1 pound while others gained as much as 10 pounds.

You’ll burn more energy digesting some macronutrients than others. For example, by way of digestion, you’ll burn 20-30 percent more of total calories from protein, 5-10 percent from carbohydrates, and 0-3 percent from fats.

Tracking calorie intake and calorie output is unreliable. Until science comes up with a better way, lets keep it simple with committing to eating the right foods, in the right amounts, at the right times, while engaging in the World Health Organization’s recommended 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.

This column appeared in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Ice pops can be made healthier and tastier for your summer cool-down. Submitted photo
Claire Bullivant
Claire Bullivant

By Claire Bullivant

The heat is on!  Here are my tips and tricks for trying to stay cool and healthy in an Arizonan summer.

My next business venture is bottled cold pressed juices. As this magnificent cold press juicer was being delivered, I stumbled over a recipe book on ice pops. I started to get excited. “What if we could have cold-pressed juice ice pops? And how about turning our fresh fruit smoothies into ice pops?”

I’m going to share some of my research so you can create your own and have a ready-made batch of healthy cool deliciousness on hand all summer.

An obvious rule is that the healthier the substance you start with, the healthier the ice pop is going to end up. For freezing juices, the pinnacle would be raw, organic cold-pressed juice, and then home centrifuged juice; all the way down to store-bought juice made from concentrate.

Whatever you freeze, add some simple syrup, honey or agave to it. The more sugar in the substance, the softer the product will be when frozen. If you put too much sugar (or alcohol) in the pop, it will not freeze hard enough.

That brings us on to boozy pops! A whole topic in itself, which I have the awful job of researching over the next couple of months!

If you like a creamier pop you can blend fruit with coconut or almond milk, kefir, milk or cream. Again, the same rule applies – whipping cream isn’t going to have fewer calories when frozen, so choose wisely. Add chia or muesli or whole pieces of fruit. Yum!

If you find a winner recipe, email it to clairejbullivant@gmail.com. If we decide to manufacture it, we’ll give you a prize and try to work your name into the name of the ice pop.

Claire Bullivant is the owner of Bead and Berry Coffee House in Maricopa.

This column appeared in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

I can vividly recall my first encounter with lifting weights when I was 12 years old.

Our family had a weightlifting set in our basement that included a bench, a leg extension, and a curl bar. I always admired athletes and action hero movie stars (Rambo, Rocky, and The Terminator) who had developed muscular physiques through resistance training. My goal was to one day build a physique that would rival theirs. I would work out in the morning before school or in the evening before bed.

Did I really know what I was doing? No, but it sure felt good doing it and over time I started to notice I was definitely becoming stronger, and friends and family members would comment that I was starting to look “bigger.” I assumed I was doing something right.

I never did attain the much admired “Rocky Balboa physique” but I did research and study the topic of youth resistance training while earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I remember reading and hearing the following comments from random people: “Weight training is not safe for kids” and “Lifting weights will stunt their growth.”

As I became more educated on the topic of resistance training, these random statements made no sense to me. I would ask myself, “Why is it safe for adults to lift weights and not kids?” and “How could strengthening muscles and bones stunt one’s growth?” As an educator I tell my students to never accept other’s statements/opinions as fact unless it is supported by research.

Wel,l I am here to inform you that the research does support our youth engaging in a safe and supervised resistance training program – safe and supervised being the key words.

There is no scientific evidence that proves that resistance training will stunt one’s growth. In fact the “prebone,” also known as growth cartilage, will actually become stronger as a result of engaging in regular resistance training. Kids that are engaging in sports or any activity for that matter that includes running, jumping, and landing will experience much more force on the joints than what is experienced in a safe resistance training program.

There was a study that investigated the injury rates among adolescents in various activities. This study supported the fact that resistance training and weightlifting had lower overall injury rates among its participants than other sports such as rugby. When occurrences of injuries did occur while resistance training, it was usually a result of what I term “user error.”

These user errors include the following risk factors: unsafe exercise equipment, excessive load and volume, improper technique, previous injury and an unsafe exercise environment. All of these factors can be remedied if a youth exercise program is designed and supervised by a qualified fitness professional.

The benefits of kids engaging in resistance training far outweigh the possible negatives. The percentage of children aged 6 to 11 years in the United States who are classified as obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. The percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 19 increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over that same time period.

Lack of exercise is a highly contributing factor to these increased rates of obesity. Exercise professionals, educators, and parents should be encouraging our youth to regularly resistance train to attain the following benefits: increase lean muscle mass, decrease fat mass, increase strength, increase energy levels, increase bone mineral density, decrease blood pressure, and the list goes on.

My next article will discuss how to design an effective and safe youth resistance training program.

“Childhood Obesity Facts.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. August 27, 2015. Accessed May 15 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

Faigenbaum, A. and et al. (2011). Injury Trends and Prevention in Youth Resistance Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33(3), 36-41.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Yes! I’ve hit my physical activity goal of 1,000 calories expended today. That means, by the end of the week I should be down two pounds and just 10 away from my goal weight. Right, FitnessPal? Well, maybe not so much…

Let’s explore three reasons why the supposed tried and true method of calorie counting for weight management is a flawed approach and not an exact science like many want you to believe.

1  Calorie counts are not precise.

Food companies use any of the five different methods available to estimate the calories you see on nutritional labels. These methods are derived from research done over 100 years ago. Current research has shown that the true calorie content is often significantly higher or lower.

For example: One medium apple can be anywhere from 83 calories to 116, and one large sweet potato ranges from 231 calories to 705.

The FDA permits up to 20 percent of inaccuracy due to the variation between the methods used for calculating. This translates to 150 calories looking more like 130-180.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle

All factors considered. Expect error to be as much as 50 percent.

2  Our bodies don’t absorb all the calories we consume.

You’ve probably heard before not all the food you eat is absorbed. Some calories pass through us undigested, and this varies as much as there are different things to eat.

Scientists created the formula we use to evaluate food absorption decades ago. The problem with this formula is that it doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, it doesn’t work for nuts and seeds because we absorb fewer calories from them than calculated. With almonds only 68 percent of the calories are absorbed and pecans 79 percent. This formula also is wrong about fiber- rich foods, from which we are consuming an average of 17 percent more calories than reported.

Expect a margin of error around 10 percent due to food absorption variability.

3  Food preparation affects calorie load.

Cooking your food generally makes more calories available for absorption. Additionally, chopping and blending your food increases the calories absorbed as well.

For example, grilling your fist-sized steak takes it from just about 200 calories to almost 250. Parboiling your eggs adds almost 30 calories to each.

Calorie counting is not as perfect and linear as individuals/companies would like you to believe. Count on up to 25 percent margin of error when counting your calorie intake. Yes, it is a method that can be helpful in creating structure and organization when incorporating behavior-focused goals. Yes, it can assist with accountability and goal attainment as many of my clients can attest to. What it is not, is an exacting, precise, and singular means of sustainable weight management.  Think of it as a tool to use in your arsenal along with your hand for portion control.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Try tossing quinoa into a mixed green salad with walnuts and apples like this superfood salad. Photo by Crysty Fiorello Photography

By Claire Bullivant

We’ve all tried it – and it always seems like a good idea at the time – but  ultimately that chocolate bar (or hamburger, or whatever you’re craving) usually ends up as a “wish I hadn’t done that!” feeling.

Here are a few foods to boost mood and energy without the unhealthy side effects. Try swapping them out for those automatic unhealthy go-tos.


Why is quinoa having its moment now? Apart from being a great substitute for white rice and breads, which can cause blood-sugar crashes, quinoa contains a flavonoid (quercetin), which has anti-depressant effects. Try substituting quinoa for flour in gluten free pancakes or toss it into a mixed green salad with walnuts and apples like the superfood salad pictured.


Claire Bullivant
Claire Bullivant

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that elevates mood and stops you feeling depressed. Some studies claim eating serotonin-rich foods increases serotonin levels in the body. Bananas contain serotonin, but walnuts are one of the richest dietary sources of serotonin.


Research demonstrates there is a link between gut microbiome and mood. Probiotics, found in products like kefir, live yogurt and miso paste (aka the soup found in Japanese restaurants), add beneficial microorganisms to your digestive tract. Try adding probiotics surreptitiously to your (family’s) diet. Miso is the hidden flavor in my potato salad. Not only is it a probiotic, but it also contains the ‘fifth element of taste’ that gives your taste buds that lick-your-plate-clean feeling. You can add miso to soups, salad dressings and spaghetti sauces. For a probiotic feel-good smoothie, blend blueberries and bananas with kefir or live yogurt.

Dark Chocolate

Last but not least, eating about an ounce of dark chocolate a day reduces levels of stress hormones. That’s a double-happy right there!

Claire Bullivant is the owner of Bead and Berry Coffee House in Maricopa.

This column appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.

A combination of juice and smoothie, a SmooJuice contains a mix of nutrients and fiber. Photo by Crysty Fiorello Photography

By Claire Bullivant

Claire Bullivant
Claire Bullivant

I said I would be letting you in on a few Bead & Berry trade secrets, and I’m going to share one recipe with you today. It’s a unique combination of juice and smoothie that you won’t find anywhere else.

I love juices, and I love smoothies. Juices have the advantage of bringing all the nutrients of fruits and vegetables directly to your bloodstream. And because juices are so concentrated, you can pack more nutrients from a large quantity of produce into your body in one quick shot that would take hours of equivalent chewing.

Smoothies, on the other hand, keep the fiber from the plants because you blend the whole food, which is great for your body.

Because the effect of juices enters your bloodstream more quickly, your blood sugar levels can spike and then drop. The fiber in smoothies helps your body keep its blood sugar levels constant longer. So I tried to create a drink that would give that quick impact of a juice, but would maintain the fiber for a longer effect. Enter the SmooJuice.

This one is the cherry pepper, and most of the ingredients are known to fight inflammation, especially of joints in the body. Use frozen coconut water instead of ice. Coconut water has five naturally occurring electrolytes that naturally hydrate the body – so everything in this SmooJuice has a good purpose.

Cherry Pepper SmooJuice (20 oz.)
½ red apple
½ red pepper
2 celery stalks
2 oranges (8 oz.)

5 pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)
1/3 frozen organic dark tart cherries
2 drops DoTerra wild orange essential oil
4 coconut water ice cubes

Juice the first set of ingredients using a juicer and citrus press, and then blend with the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy!

Claire Bullivant is the owner of Bead & Berry Coffee House.

This column appeared in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

This is a common question asked by many people who commit to an exercise program, dietary restriction program, or a combination of both.

The answer seems simple: If I expend more calories than I take in I will lose weight. Many people who have lost weight through exercise alone, diet alone, or a combination have been successful. But there are people, and I will bet you know some, that have tried exercise and dieting and have not been successful or as successful as others.

It begs the question, “Why are some people successful at weight loss and others not so successful if they follow the same exercise program and/or diet?”

There are a number of influential factors that can affect the ability of an individual to optimally lose body fat. I will touch on some of the more common reasons as to why some of our bodies seem to want to hold on to that stubborn fat.

Genetics – Overweight teens have a 70-percent chance of becoming overweight adults; this probability increases to 80 percnet if one parent or both parents are overweight or obese (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2007).

Some scientists believe our genes will determine our ability or lack of ability to optimally shed those stubborn, unwanted pounds.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) – This term is defined as the energy required to maintain essential physiological processes in a relaxed, awake, and reclined state. A low RMR can be detrimental to a weight loss program. RMR is highly regulated by the thyroid hormones most specifically thyroxine. If an individual is lacking a specific production of the thyroxine hormone it can reduce RMR by 30 to 50 percent.

Stress – When an individual is under an excessive amount of stress it can make losing weight more difficult. Excessive stress signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol, which is classified as a stress hormone. Studies have shown that excessive stress and cortisol levels can lead to excessive fat accumulation in the abdominal area. Fat in this area is highly correlated with heart disease and strokes.

Lack of sleep – The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends younger adults (18-25) and adults (26-64) acquire at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Studies show that inadequate sleep and sleeping disorders can have adverse effects on a person’s appetite.

Leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone, will decrease in people that are sleep-deprived. Sleep-deprived people are more likely to consume foods that will spike their insulin levels to try and increase their energy levels in order to make it through the day.

There can be many other reasons as to why people struggle to lose those unwanted pounds.

Three out of the four factors that I have discussed can be improved through positive lifestyle changes. RMR can be increased by engaging in regular resistance training exercise. Stress can be alleviated by allocating time in the day for diaphragmatic breathing or meditation. Sleep can be improved by adhering to a regular sleep cycle.

If you’re not willing to adopt these new lifestyle changes and would rather pin the blame on someone else, look no farther than Mom and Dad. The genes that were passed onto you from them are highly influential in determining your body type.

Obesity and sleep. (2016). Retrieved March 31st, 2016, from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/obesity-and-sleep/page/0/1
Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription: 6th ed. (2010). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Murray, R., & Kenney, W. L. (n.d.). Practical Guide to Exercise Physiology. (2010). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

Most adults do not meet the recommended amount of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.  What is the reason for this?  The typical response will vary but will usually include the following:  I don’t have time, I am not motivated, I don’t know how to, I can’t afford a gym membership.  None of these are actual valid reasons for not exercising but rather are excuses.

According to the World Health Organization’s most recent Global Health Risks data (2004) after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, lack of physical activity constitutes the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

When the average person becomes ill she/he will visit their doctor in the hope of finding a cure for what ails them.  More often than not their doctor will prescribe them some type of pharmaceutical medication in the hope that this will remedy the problem.  The problem with this method of “treatment” is many of these medications do not cure the problem but rather mask the problem.  In addition many pharmaceutical medications come with a host of negative side effects which may include the following: itching, rash, dry mouth, drowsiness, elevated heart rate, nausea, and thoughts of suicide.

What if there was one simple prescription that could lower the risk of premature mortality, improve quality of life, and does not come with any of the negative side effects that most prescription medications do?  That prescription is readily available at no cost.  What is this magic pill?  Exercise!

Regular physical activity can achieve the following:  lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent, reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent, lower the risk of stroke by 27 percent, lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent, decrease depression and anxiety symptoms as effectively as medication, and much more.

In 2007, the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine put in motion the Exercise is Medicine initiative.  The objective of this program is to further promote the scientifically proven health benefits of exercise.  This program calls for doctors to discuss their patients’ exercise habits in all of their interactions.  If these patients are not meeting the recommended amount of physical activity they will be made aware of the required recommendation and/or be referred to a fitness professional who can assist them in attaining their health related goals.

Exercise is a free “pill” that can be taken anywhere at any time!  It has tremendous upside with very few negative side effects.  I encourage all of you take your daily dose today and begin reaping the benefits of this wonder drug.

US Physical Activity Guidelines. (2008). Retrieved Feb. 10, 2016, Health.gov/PAGuidelines/
What is Exercise is Medicine? (2016). Retrieved Feb. 10, 2016, ExerciseIsMedicine.org/

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

Aaron Gilbert is the owner of Longevity Athletics in Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The holidays often wreak havoc on diets, but Longevity Athletics owner Aaron Gilbert has a few tips to stay healthy during and after the endless feasting of the season.

“During the holidays, it’s a difficult time to stay fit, so it’s important to find ways to put healthy twists on comfort foods,” Gilbert says. “That way you can still enjoy the food without going too far into the dark side.”

With so much of the holiday season revolving around food, it’s not always possible to adjust what we ingest. However, another useful tip to help keep the weight off is to stay active. According to Gilbert, it doesn’t really matter what activities you do, as long as you keep your heart rate up.

“The temperature restricts people, so take advantage of the evenings with activities you may not usually do,” Gilbert says. “Find something that elevates your heart rate for 20 minutes a day. Walk for 20 minutes or even play with your dogs at the park. It’s important just to get moving.”

Health Tips
1. Put healthy twists on comfort foods (less bread and more onions in stuffing, skim milk in mashed potatoes, remove skin and fat from your meat serving).
2. Keep plate balanced with vegetables and fruit.
3. Elevate your heart rate with 20-minute activities daily.
4. Reduce salt or find a salt substitute.
5. If you’ve fallen off your exercise routine during the holidays (or never had one), get moving!

Tips for losing weight and keeping it off
1. Set a weight goal and learn your body mass index (BMI)
2. Eat less – you decide how
3. Keep track of what you’re eating
4. Add activity – it burns calories
5. Stay motivated
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

About Aaron Gilbert
Owner, Longevity Athletics
Age: 38
Family: Wife, brother, mother and half-sister
Hometown: Phoenix
Maricopan since: 2007
Pets: Chihuahua and three cats
Hobbies: Reading, anything outdoors and table tennis
Like most about Maricopa: I like the small town feel in comparison to other places I’ve lived. You get to know people and there is more of a sense of community.
Like least about Maricopa: Out of all the things, I’d like to see the passageway widened to the I-10.
Favorite Food: Homemade bunless burger
Favorite Drink: Coconut water

This story appeared in the Winter edition of InMaricopa the Magazine.