Hot yoga: Is it just a fad?

You’ve probably heard the illusive term “hot yoga.” What comes to mind?

Do you envision a crowded room filled with artificial light and sweaty people simultaneously engaged in poses that stretch convention?

Or do you envision something more private — perhaps a small group that practices in a low-light sauna, each bead of sweat produced a testament to their commitment to health?

Om.

Om.

The truth is, there are many different ways to engage in hot yoga. You can do it in classes with more than 200 people; you can do it with 10 people. The lights can be recessed lighting or candles — the options are endless.

But one fact remains constant: hot yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Doing hot yoga in a room that’s anywhere from 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit increases your pulse and metabolism. This, in turn, allows for better circulation throughout the body.

So when you sweat a lot, that means you lose more weight, right? Not necessarily! Studies have shown that the fact that you sweat more in hot yoga does not mean you will lose more weight than you would at standard room temperature. However, more harmful toxins are released during hot yoga through the greater amount of sweat than with yoga done at standard room temperature.

By far the greatest advantage to doing hot yoga is the fact that your body will surpass the expected level of flexibility that currently defines how you pose. The heat loosens up tight muscles and knots, also lubricating joints that would normally inhibit your body from reaching its full potential.

However, while there are many advantages to doing hot yoga, you still need to take certain precautions. Staying hydrated is essential! It’s recommended that you drink at least 2-3 liters on top of the required eight glasses of water daily if you plan to commit to hot yoga as a fitness routine.

Also, food intake needs to be monitored. It’s recommended that you eat a small snack before doing hot yoga — too empty or too full of a stomach is detrimental to the hot yoga experience.

But, the most important thing is to listen to your body while doing hot yoga, and be careful not to overexert yourself. Oftentimes, you want to ignore the minor things you feel in a workout routine, but with hot yoga, the risk of passing out is higher than normal. It’s vital to take breaks when needed.

But, holistically speaking, hot yoga is a great fitness routine to get into. Not only will you burn calories and increase your flexibility, you will also put your mind at ease and keep your mental health in check! So, the verdict has been passed. Hot yoga is not just a fad. It’s arguably the best way to practice yoga because of all the added benefits. So get out there! Grab a buddy and sign up for a hot yoga class. The experience will be unforgettable, and your body will love you for it!

The Health Behind Spa Days

At this point during the year, a lot of students and professionals yearn for some sort of excuse to just kick back and take a break from the swamp of work piled up around them.

Treat yourself!

Treat yourself at Hotel Palomar’s Repose.

The vision of the spa atmosphere might seem extravagant to some — candles, aromatherapy, oil massages? Who really needs all that?

But the truth is, there are health benefits behind that luxurious visit to the day spa. Everybody needs a break, and a spa day is the ideal way to spend your day off.

So, how exactly do spa treatments benefit your health? Well, the explanation is actually quite predictable.

Many of the massage options at day spas release knots in your back that can worsen your posture and soothe sore muscles and inflamed joints by targeting areas that are tight or swollen. Additionally, services like bath soaks, mani-pedis, facials and other skin services can alleviate a lot of stress and tension that is built up throughout the school or work day.

It ultimately boils down to the “power of touch.” It’s been proven by multiple psychologists that being touched is essential to our sanity! Being touched releases endorphins which ultimately make you feel happy.

The following locations are full-functioning spas that include facials, wax options, makeup application, hair design and mani-pedi stations.

The Roose Parlour and Spa: Nestled in the historic district of downtown Phoenix at 918 N. Sixth St., this location is known for its charming, friendly staff and hip feel.

Repose Spa and Salon: Tucked inside CityScape between Washington and Jefferson streets and First Avenue and First Street, this location is affiliated with the Hotel Palomar and is known for its upscale, unique lay out.

Inner Radiance Spa: Though it’s not downtown, this spa at 4503 N. 32nd St is close to the esteemed Biltmore Hotel. This location is known for using all organic products and specializes in skin care.

Downtown Salon Phoenix: At 101 E. Monroe St., this location mainly caters to hair care but also offers massage, nail, and skin services.

The Spa at Pilgrim: Again, a bit outside downtown, but right off Jefferson Street, this spa at 1401 E. Jefferson St. focuses on massages, including Swedish and hot stone massages. But for “total indulgence,” the Caribbean Therapy Total Indulgence package is a must. It’s comprised of a bath soak, body scrub and body cleanser all done in flower water with candles.

As you can see, there are some pretty nifty places downtown or nearby where you can really treat yourself after a long day. So do it! The next time you’re extremely stressed out or just need a breather from whatever is going on, go to the spa! You won’t regret it.

Not only will you have the ability to completely unwind, you’ll also benefit your physical and mental health through various spa treatments. It really is a win-win situation. An investment in your comfort is an investment in your health. Don’t delay!

Fall is Here!

All over the country, leaves are turning from green to orange, temperatures are dropping, boots are rocking the runway, the flu shot is available everywhere and the holiday season is upon us. Fall is here!

If you think morning runs are limited to open skies, you're wrong. Run next to skyscrapers and get on a whole new level.

If you think morning runs are limited to open skies, you’re wrong. Run next to skyscrapers and get on a whole new level.

What are you doing to gear up for fall? The activities you can do downtown now that it isn’t a scorching 105 degrees outside are infinite. Go outside! Explore your options!

Here are some ideas of ways to stay active and explore this fall:

  • Healthy Picnic in Civic Space Park: Here’s an idea — actually go to Civic Space Park with your gym buddies, and chow down on some healthy sandwiches and fresh veggies after that morning workout. I mean, what’s there to lose?
  • Morning Run Around Downtown: Instead of painstakingly forcing yourself out of bed and onto an elliptical somewhere, put on those running shoes and trek around downtown Phoenix before 8 a.m. You won’t regret it.
  • Phoenix Public Market: Walk to get your groceries! Go to the Phoenix Public Market instead of driving to your local grocery store. The walk to and from the market will do you good, and you’ll have locally grown, healthy food in your pantry.
  • First Fridays: No longer does makeup have to run on the first Friday of the month. It’s officially fall, and the sweat glands that ruin your makeup job are inactive upon stepping outside of air conditioning! Take advantage of the exercise you can get from all the walking around while you’re not collapsing onto the sidewalk from the heat.
  • Shopping: When I go to the mall, the two places I spend the most time at are Urban Outfitters and Charming Charlie. So if you’re like me, don’t drive to some crowded mall! Walk to CityScape, shop ‘till you drop, and walk back to your abode. You’ll get cute clothes and you’ll feel even cuter in them with the added bit of exercise. Also, use those walking shoes to explore a few local shops downtown, like some of the vintage stores recently featured in Downtown Devil’s A Tailored Place.

Seriously though, now that it has cooled off, you have no excuse! Staying active and healthy is so much easier. Going to an indoor gym is no longer your only way to work out. Switch it up. Go for a long bike ride, walk to breakfast with a friend or do my favorite and go for that early morning run with the skyscrapers towering over you. Take advantage of this cool weather before the heat is upon us again!

Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen

It’s that time of year again. Students from all over the country are starting one of the most exciting, transformative and memorable times of their lives — college!

To drink? Or not, to drink? With so many delectable options- the decision is a tough one.

To drink? Or not to drink? With so many delectable options, the decision is a tough one.

By the end of their high school senior year, most people are ready for the dramatic change that awaits them in the fall. But are they really, truly prepared for it?

The truth is, most people aren’t. Most people underestimate how much of a lifestyle adjustment they have to make to successfully get used to college life.

So what are these changes that are so vital to consider when starting college? While academic and social changes are important to consider, health needs just as much attention, if not more.

What sort of image is painted in your mind when you hear the dreaded words “freshman fifteen”?

Do you see the prom queen slowly descending from her glory days after each subsequent shot taken at a party, the mixture of tequila, salt and lime slowly contributing to the muffin top she’ll have in December?

Do you see the valedictorian chugging coffee and scarfing down a lemon loaf while feverishly studying for that first chemistry exam, food calories being of the least importance when compared to memorizing how many calories are required to raise the temperature of 25 grams of water from zero degrees Celsius to 100?

The point is, we picture different things when it comes to the freshman fifteen, and we should, because there are an infinite amount of scenarios that can result in the freshman fifteen.

So booze? A major source of the freshman fifteen is alcohol abuse, and rightfully so, because most people are so enamored by the elusive “college party” experience. If you are going to drink, do yourself a favor and drink with moderation! You and your midsection will thank me later.

Free and unlimited food! There is free food everywhere. With the enticing free food at college events and a meal plan that satisfies your every need (unless you’re at Taylor Place … shhh), you’re bound to pack on few pounds if you don’t control yourself.

Sleep? Huh? If one thing is guaranteed to change in college, it’s your sleeping habits. College is literally a year-long slumber party with academics conveniently built in. While this may seem amazing (and it is), it’s a huge detriment to your metabolism. With less sleep, the metabolic breakdown processes in your body are affected and could sharply increase the number you read on the scale.

Shoot, I can’t eat like I used to! There comes a point somewhere in our late adolescence that marks the horrid change in our metabolisms. As we mature, metabolisms slow, even if food intake doesn’t change. So, essentially, if you don’t monitor the changes in your metabolism and adjust eating habits accordingly, the freshman fifteen could be heading your way.

With all the changes you will encounter your freshman year, it’s vital to remember this key piece of information: if you don’t work out and/or eat moderately healthily, you will gain weight. It might not be 15 pounds, but some weight gain will happen.

So, make good choices! But really — work out, control your drinking habits and eat a salad rather than a burger when you use your next meal plan.

Sleep it off: Fighting stress

With finals looming around the corner, we all try to find ways to keep the stress at bay. Whether it’s eating, exercising, music, meditation, yoga or cooking, everyone tries to find a way to keep stress levels low and stay sane in these last few days. To all the seniors graduating in a couple weeks, kudos! You’re almost there.

Although this might seem counterintuitive, my best recommendation for keeping stress at a manageable level is sleep. Sleeping is the best way to reduce the effect stress has on our body. Of course, eating healthy and being as active as possible help immensely too!

First off, stress. What really is it, and how does it affect me? In reality, a certain amount of stress is actually healthy — it keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. However, experiencing continuous stress without enough relaxation or rest can be extremely harmful to the body.

Image via www.today.ttu.edu

Image via www.today.ttu.edu

Stress can cause headaches, upset stomach, fatigue, chest pains, skin conditions, high blood pressure and sleeping problems. Apart from effects on the body, stress can also affect a person’s mood and behavior. Anxiety, restlessness, lack of focus, irritability and even sadness are common effects of stress.

This is why sleep during these last couple of weeks is imperative to anyone’s health if they’re experiencing higher levels of stress. There are a multitude of benefits that come from sleep. Sleeping can help improve memory, reduce inflammation across the body by reducing inflammatory proteins in the blood, spike creativity, help stamina, sharpen attention and improve your mood.

A couple interesting facts about stress, according to WebMD:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a workplace hazard. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

When going to the doctor, many people think they are treating the cause — but in reality, it’s only the symptoms they’re curing. It’s a never-ending cycle!

Being smart about your sleep has so many benefits, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t do it. Napping and getting your eight hours of sleep during finals will help you tackle these last days successfully.

Don’t forget, stress can be dangerous if it goes unchecked. Make sure you’re sleeping, drinking plenty of water and being as active as possible to ensure you make it to graduation — or simply just summer break — in one piece!

Fight the stress and stay healthy, Devils!

Going Raw

While being on the search for the next healthier option I came across something I’ve heard of before but wasn’t really ready to try: going raw, meaning changing my diet to consist of at least 80 percent raw foods — meaning fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, roots and anything that is cooked at temperatures below 115 degrees.

This concept is definitely nothing new but it has been on a steady incline, being more and more “mainstream.” There is a plethora of resources, blogs and websites designed to provide recipes, resources and information about a raw diet.

Image via www.rawmazing.com

Image via www.rawmazing.com

Raw vs. Cooked 

Medical literature on a raw-food diet is scarce. However, the few studies that have been done have shown that a raw diet helps reduce the risk of multiple types of cancer. Research has also made people aware that cooking foods lowers their nutritional value, stripping them of many of the vitamins and minerals they possess. Heating food above 118 degrees causes the chemical changes that create acidic toxins, including the carcinogens, mutagens and free radicals associated with diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

It has been found that raw diets are full of nutrients, rich in fiber and low in fats and sugars. But medical professionals warn that raw foodists need to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin B12, calcium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, most of which are found naturally in animal products. Studies done on people who followed a raw diet showed they had a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be harmful.

The Benefits 

The studies that have been done about a raw diet have shown there are health benefits associated with eating more raw foods such as fruits and vegetables. Some of these were reducing the risk of oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal and gastric cancers, s well as improving or reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity-related health issues.

Since the studies on the benefits of a raw diet are still scarce in the medical world, I took it to the blogs. Searching through the web you find a multitude of blogs describing the benefits and changes, the before and after of people going raw. Many bloggers going raw have described benefits such as:

  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Clearer and healthier skin
  • Reduces health risks
  • Weight loss 

Should You Go Raw?

Many people deem the raw diet as extreme or unhealthy. There are concerns about vitamin and nutrient deficiencies and detoxification side effects. However, if one is truly interested in going raw, there are websites that outline a healthy way to ease into this diet. Studies show great health improvements by going raw for just 30 days.

While searching for the next healthy option and improving my overall health, I’ve found that doing things in moderation is what has yielded amazing results. Going completely raw is, I admit, quite difficult. But there is something that just made sense to me about eating higher quantities of raw foods.

Image via www.keepitmovingfitness.com

Image via www.keepitmovingfitness.com

So just by consuming raw foods, meaning fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds in higher quantities than normal, it’s already shown amazing health benefits for me, including clearer skin, more energy and better sleep! Eating a bigger portion of veggies a day sounds a lot better than it used to when I was a kid.

Don’t be scared to push yourself and try new things.

Stay healthy, Devils!

Resources: Educate Yourself About Going Raw

Raw Food Diet
30 Day Trial – Going Raw
Zen Habits – 10 Reasons Why
Rawmazing – Why Raw?
WebMD – Raw Food Diet

The happy yoga lifestyle

I know there are some people out there who may think yoga is another health trend, but from my experience, that couldn’t be more wrong. Yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years and has spread with many different varieties and sub-types all throughout the United States.

Ever since I discovered yoga and the benefits of how it made me feel, there was no turning back. Being a beginner at yoga can be a little difficult, but yoga comes with a multitude of health benefits. There are a variety of yoga classes, studios in the downtown area and a huge amount of options online.

Image via chakrasreflexologyspa.com

Image via chakrasreflexologyspa.com

After starting with yoga myself, it took about two weeks of practicing for me to really start feelings its effects. I started feeling a little soreness in new muscles I had never really stretched out before, my flexibility increased with each session, my breathing deepened and I was filled with a general feeling of goodness and tranquility.

Research on yoga and its health benefits are still in its early stages but it has had a promising start. It has been shown to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and heart rate, heighten metabolism rates and for those who reported to have insomnia, help with sleep. Yoga has demonstrated to alleviate specific kinds of pains as well such as migraines (something I suffer from frequently), lower back issues and even arthritis.

Yoga was designed to bring together the different disciplines of the mind and the body through slow, controlled movements and breathing.  Those are the two main focuses of any type yoga and will be in any yoga class. I found breathing the hardest. It’s not something people usually focus on, and while doing new yoga poses is more easily overlooked. Remember to always breathe.

Image via notsalmon.com

Image via notsalmon.com

This is not the type of exercise that is mastered in a short amount of time, and it’s not one with lighting-fast results.

But that’s the purpose of yoga. It’s to teach us how to take things more slowly, to take a pause in our everyday life and find peace within ourselves.

Don’t let this discourage you! Yoga isn’t some trend exercise; it’s a lifestyle change. You may do as many sessions as you want per week or as few as you want. Take your time, find the time to make a small pause in your busy schedule and I’m sure you’ll see the results.

Practicing yoga, despite it being a safe non-aerobic exercise, does come with a few risks. If you do decide to try it out, you should remember to:

  • Warm up before every session. Cold muscles increase the chance of injury.
  • Know your limits. Before beginning any new type of exercise be sure to know what it demands of your body to avoid harm.
  • Take it slow. Yoga is an exercise for the mind and the body, helping to ease stress and condition your physique. Remember, it is not competition. Learn the basics of how to maintain proper balance and breathing before going headfirst into any session.

Stay healthy, Devils!

Bone Marrow Donation: Raising Awareness

A few weeks ago, I came across a blog post that made me stop and think about my existence. I’m alive. I’m healthy. I may have a bad day every once in a while, but overall my life could not be any better.

And through reading this post about a college student in California who is in need of a bone marrow donor, I realized how quickly life and vitality can be stolen away with absolutely no warning.

For Leukemia and Lymphoma patients, this is their reality. For anyone with a life-threatening blood disease, finding a bone marrow match doesn’t always lie within their own family. A bone marrow match is based on genetics, not blood type, and with so many mixed racial patients, a match is not easily made.

Think about becoming a bone marrow donor. You have the potential to save someone’s life with a small sacrifice of your own. Learn more about the bone marrow donation process on the Mayo Clinic website.

If you decide that you’d like to donate, sign up on the BeTheMatch.org website to receive a registration kit and you’ll hopefully be connected with a patient in need.

Be the Match Bone Marrow Donation Kit via oncallrn.blogspot.com

Within a few weeks (mine arrived in a week), you’ll receive a kit with 4 cotton swabs and stickers unique to your information. Follow the instructions to swab a sample of your inner cheek to see if your cells will be a match for someone.

Photo via BeTheMatch.org

Be an angel and seriously consider becoming a donor to help save someone’s life, Devils.

All you need to know about calories

Calories. We all secretly pay attention to them, right? But did you know that they are not only important to losing weight, but also to maintaining and gaining weight?

Caloric intake levels are different for every person and lifestyle. If you’re inactive, your body does not need as many calories as someone who exercises a lot. Think of Michael Phelps when he was training; he needed more than 12,000 calories because he burned so many in the water. The average adult needs about 2,000 calories a day. Can you imagine what would happen to your body if you had a 12,000 calorie diet?! Let’s hope that never happens.

Photo from Seriouseats.com

Calorie basics

Calories are the amount of energy supplied by a food. Energy can come in many different forms such as protein, carbohydrates, fats and sugars. The goal is to find what your body needs in order to perform to its maximum capacity, whether that’s maintaining your weight, building muscle and gaining weight, or losing weight.

Tips and tricks

  • Low-fat and fat-free doesn’t mean that there are less calories in what you’re eating.
  • Be sure to watch out for extra sugars or sugar substitutes. They have calories too.
  • Low-calorie isn’t always what you need. A healthy diet has a mix of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins and dairy.

Exercise and calories

How much energy are you using when you exercise? It depends on the type, your body weight and composition and the level of intensity at which you are working out. Here are a few examples for someone 150 pounds:

  • Playing basketball for an hour on a half-court burns approx. 405 calories
  • Biking on flat land for an hour burns approx. 441 calories
  • Dancing (depending on the type) burns approx. 370 calories an hour
  • Jogging burns approx. 675 calories an hour
  • Sleeping burns approx. 45 calories an hour (who knew?!)
  • Playing soccer for an hour burns approx. 468 calories
  • Swimming burns approx. 608 calories per hour

Listen to your body and find out what it needs. If you’re starving after a workout, you’re allowed to eat! It’s encouraged. A great post-workout snack is a lean protein that will fill you up and help you build muscle. If you’re going to have a hard day at the gym, make sure you’ve gotten enough fuel and water before you head out. It’ll take a little time to figure out what’s going to work best for you, but be patient and have a little faith!