How Your Body Rebuilds Muscles During Sleep

This month I have a guest blogger, her name is Samantha Kent from  The title is How Your Body Rebuilds Muscles During Sleep.

Ever tried to go to sleep with a throbbing thigh or a swollen ankle? Muscle strains and sprains are painful, which can make it hard to fall asleep. However, sleeping seems to affect the speed at which your muscles recover. If you want to get back on your feet faster, your best solution may be to go back to bed for a few hours.

Many athletes can’t make time for sleep between a busy training schedule or other responsibilities. However, sleeping less than seven hours per night has been linked to multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes and depression. In the short term, it can make you irritable and less happy about training. Also, sleep deprivation may impede your ability to recover from injuries.

Of course, if you increase your hours of sleep each night, the improvements in your athletic performance can be immediate and dramatic.

More Sleep, Improved Performance

The benefits of increasing the number of hours that you sleep may extend beyond healing your muscles faster. In one study, a basketball coach added a new requirement to the training regimen – sleep at least 10 hours each night. Well rested basketball players had faster reaction times and reported less fatigue, as expected. More surprising, their shot accuracy improved and those surveyed said that their physical and mental well-being was better after the sleep extension.

Why Sleep Is So Essential

Everyone knows that sleeping makes your muscles feel better after a while, though the feeling of lying in bed may be uncomfortable. However, scientists are now hypothesizing about the chemical processes that occur during sleep. One study suggests that certain chemicals, like growth factor 1, aren’t released as much when you’re sleep deprived. Since these components have a role in regenerating muscles, sleep loss may lead to muscle loss.

So, in addition to eating your protein (which has been demonstrated to help muscle recovery), make time for a few more hours of rest when you’re trying to recover from a hard workout or injury.

How to Rest Better

Aching muscles can keep you awake at night, but they need sleep to recover. You can overcome this situation by focusing on improving your sleep habits and comfort level in bed.

First, keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. Your body calibrates its internal clock using many mechanisms, but it likes consistency. If you go to bed at 9 p.m. each night, your body will learn to start releasing sleep hormones, like melatonin, at that time. Even if you’re in pain from a rough workout, the melatonin release will help ease you into slumber.

Second, make sure your bedroom is comfortable. People need different firmness mattresses depending on their body weight and preferred sleeping position. Check mattress reviews to see if your bed is a good fit for the way that you sleep. Another way to make your room more restful is to minimize distracting light and sounds. Blackout curtains and a white noise machine may help.

Lastly, don’t exercise right before bed. In the summer, it can be tempting to wait for the cooldown of the sunset before working out. However, the rush of hormones from exercise can make it difficult to fall asleep afterward. If you must do some activity in the evening, keep it light, like easy yoga or stretching.

These tips should help you get the sleep you need to recover from tough workouts and feel better soon.

Guest Blogger @




The Benefits of Calcium

It is that time of the year again in the Garden State!

Delicious fresh veggies and yummy fruit. And the perfect time for a healthy smoothie too! Today I chose a green one, however, I love the fresh berry ones too. But first, I want to discuss the benefits of calcium in your diet and how to get it with fresh local produce.

Calcium is so important, your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart muscles and nerves need calcium to function properly too. The exact amount of calcium you need depends on your age and other factors. Growing children and teenagers need more calcium than young adults, while older women need plenty of calcium to prevent osteoporosis and bone loss. People who do not eat enough high-calcium foods should take a calcium supplement, but before you consider a calcium supplement, make sure that you understand how much calcium you actually need, learn the pros and cons of calcium supplements and speak to your physician. This is a great article for more information on calcium from the Mayo Clinic/Calcium

It is best to try to get calcium in the food you eat daily. I personally cannot take a calcium supplement because I find that they bother my stomach, so I make sure to get the daily amount in the food and drinks that I choose. Some of my favorites include edamame, figs, almond butter and fresh fruit sandwiches on organic calcium fortified bread.

Other foods rich in calcium include:

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you are lactose intolerant, choose the veggie options.

Leafy, green vegetables, spinach is my favorite, I put spinach in smoothies, salads, soups and omelettes too.

Choose fish with soft bones, such as canned sardines and salmon. Salmon is healthy and easy to buy and prepare.

There are many calcium-enriched foods such as breakfast cereals, fruit juices, orange juice, soy milk, rice drinks and tofu. I buy little edamame packages in the frozen food aisle and defrost them for snacks.

I always feel that greens are a great way to get your daily calcium and help defend those beautiful bones. Here is one of the ways I get my calcium daily, it is so easy to make and take with you in the morning. I use a Nutra-Bullet RX it is affordable and works amazing for smoothies and makes hot soups too.

My Perfect Green Smoothie:
Just place one banana, one cup of low-fat milk or coconut water, 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, one full cup of kale or spinach and one tablespoon of organic local honey in a blender and mix until it’s smooth and you have a very delicious bone defending smoothie. If you like a thicker shake like smoothie just add 1/2 an avocado. Yummy!

Cheers to good health!

Healthy choices

The Vegetarian Diet and Protein

There are so many misconceptions about the vegetarian diet and getting enough protein, most people think that after giving up meat it becomes close to impossible to meet the suggested guidelines for daily protein intake. But there are plenty of delicious and actually healthier ways to get protein without meat. When I gave up eating anything with “eyelashes” as I like to say, I found it very easy to get enough protein and stay lean and fit, it just takes a little research and adding the right things to your diet!

The USDA recommends that women get about 46 grams of protein a day and men get about 56. Of course athletes as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women require more.

With new programs like Meatless Monday, Americans are expected to eat 12 percent less meat and poultry than they did five years ago as reported by USA Today. Check out the recipes at

Protein is essential to human growth, building muscle, keeping our immune system strong and our hearts and respiratory system healthy, meat-free protein has the benefit of generally being lower in calories and fat than the animal variety. There are other ways to get the protein we need in our diets.

Here are a few of my favorite vegetarian sources of protein:

Quinoa- My personal favorite, the perfect non-animal protein source in my opinion. It contains 9 essential amino acids that the human body needs.  I make salads with cranberries and nuts with a fresh ginger dressing, Yummy! Protein in 1 cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) contains 8.14 grams of protein.
Spirulina- This powerhouse is packed with protein, 65-71 percent complete protein, beef is only 22%.

Hemp- This plants proteins supply you with all the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own, these acids help build muscle and create more protein in the body. Protein in Hemp Seeds, 6 g per ounce.

Chia Seeds- Not as high in protein as the others, but Hemp is very rich in fiber. Fiber is filling so it creates a feeling of being full making you eat less. Protein: 4 g per ounce

Eggs (Non Vegan) You have heard it before and with good reason, the incredible edible egg! 6 grams of protein in each egg. My Personal Tip: Try to find a local organic farmer with a smaller flock that are well cared for, fed good diets and healthy happy birds! Studies show less contamination of salmonella in smaller flocks of chickens.

Other great sources for the vegetarian diet and protein are:
Almonds- a healthy handful is about 8 grams of protein
Beans- one cup is about 15 grams of protein
Lentils- one cup is about 18 grams of protein
Plain Greek Yogurt (Non Vegan)- 15-20 grams of protein per 6 ounces
Vegetables, Kale, Spinach, Green Beans and Peas, to name a few.


Healthy Bones and Exercise

Healthy Bones and Exercise go hand in hand. Your strength truly comes from within when it come to your bones! Your bones keep you standing tall and moving in proper alignment. Did you know that your bones also store essential minerals and protect your vital organs too? That’s right not only do they keep you in motion they keep you safe and protected too!

There are over 10 million people effected by osteoporosis in the United States alone! It is important that you are doing everything possible to keep your bones healthy and strong. The key to healthy bones is prevention.

My number one tip is, weight training! Weight training is not just for toning up your muscles, there is just nothing better than picking up a set of dumb-bells for increasing and maintaining bone density. Strengthening your bones is the best line of defense in the prevention of osteoporosis. With so many trendy fitness programs many people are being drawn to everything BUT weight training, while cardiovascular exercise is healthy for the heart we are talking healthy bones here and weight training is the way to go! If you’re not sure how to properly train with weights and dumb-bells consult a personal trainer or fitness specialist. If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis and are being treated for it, you can talk to your doctor and physical therapist about exercise and a referral for a certified personal trainer that has experience with this population of clientele. May women who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis have reported an increase in balance and a reduced fear of falling after starting a weight training program, furthering the benefits with a reduced fall risk. You should aim for 30 minutes of weight training, three times per week. As with any new fitness routine, you should speak to your doctor before starting a new program that requires physical activity, once your doctor clears you, don’t wait, get started on the road to healthy bones and exercise for a better lifestyle and a healthier future!

Calcium and Vitamin D play a key role in bone health. Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. The added benefit of vitamin D is that it can help some people with depression and mood swings, which is why it is commonly called the “sunshine ” vitamin.

For women who are experiencing peri-menopause, menopause and post menopause the bone building process slows down at these stages in life, so talk to your doctor about getting tested for vitamin D levels and supplementation. This stage in life is a celebration not a negative as society likes to make it seem, which makes many women misunderstand the process of menopause. Though the term “menopause” is often used as a blanket statement referring to all the stages of menopausal transition the transition can actually start as early as a women’s 30’s. I find that educating yourself on this important stage in life along with daily exercise, an organic, whole food, natural diet and a healthy mindset is your best line of defense!

For more information on how you can keep your bones healthy and strong~

healthy women


Strength Training Is Back

There is a growing trend and I LOVE IT! Strength training is back! Although for me personally, it never left! I have been strength training since my early 20’s and find it to be the absolute best way to stay in shape, look and feel fit, be more flexible, maintain weight and feel strong.

Strength training is finally getting the well deserved recognition it deserves as one of the BEST ways to get in shape and stay in shape with a toned, fit and healthy body!

Strength training is the most important type of exercise you can do for better overall health. Most people have the misconception that you need to run, jog or do some sort of cardio to be fit, lean and healthy. Cardiovascular training absolutely has it’s place with heart pumping benefits, just not as the only exercise that you are doing in your routine.

After years of people following fitness trends with many of them stepping away from their weights and dumb bells, they are now realizing the best way to “get fit” and “stay fit” is to maintain muscle mass with a good strength training program.

The number one complaint that I hear from people about their body is loss of muscle tone, followed by physical weakness, belly fat, poor posture and balance.

We all know that weight training increases bone density which lowers the risk of osteoporosis, but it also builds muscle mass and increases your overall strength while burning fat. The best part of picking up your weights is that you will keep burning calories even after your fitness session is finished!  The ideal strength training program will increase your lean muscle mass as it reduces body fat, burns more calories, which will give you the reward of a healthy, toned, fit looking body. Of course you will need a healthy diet with protein and whole foods to fuel your body and get the most out of your workouts too.

For the ladies: The misconception that if women lift weights they will get big, bulky muscles and look like a professional body builder is simply not true. Women need not worry about looking like Mr Olympia since the ability to get huge muscles takes testosterone and women simply do not produce the amount of testosterone that men do, so in reality women cannot build the same muscle size as a man. So relax and pick up those dumb bells!

On a personal note; I once volunteered for hospice and worked with many aging adults in nursing homes and hospitals. The one thing that I noticed as I watched these people go about their daily lives was that the majority of them lacked strength and mobility. I truly believe that if they had lived more active lifestyles with strength training and daily exercise that they would not have been so immobile, stiff and arthritic in their daily lives as they aged.  Strength train now for a healthier, vibrant and more active future!

If you are looking for a fit, toned, healthy body, that will treat you well as you age, it is crucial for you to begin a fitness program with more strength training for increased strength, muscle mass and bone density along with the required amount of cardio training for cardiovascular health, stretching for flexibility and balance training too. Start light and build up your strength slowly. If you can, hire a certified personal trainer to guide you on proper form and a program designed just for you and your fitness goals in mind.

The following is an article from the Mayo Clinic on strength training and getting leaner and stronger, check it out at Mayo Clinic-Fitness.

Personal trainers in Ridgewood NJ

Personal trainers in Ridgewood NJ-Strength Training