What’s IN & What’s OUT (of season)

So, clearly it’s full on summer at this point. Everybody (hopefully) has been having bbq’s, enjoying the beach, and picking farm fresh berries…. or have you not been taking advantage of all the delicious, fresh foods that are currently ripening up perfectly this “in” season? 

Do you even know which fruits and vegetables are in season right now?

Do you know even what it means for a product to be “in season” or not?

For you to take full advantage of this delicious, ripe season, you need to know what I’m talking about here!

A food that is “in season” means that product is being harvested naturally and can be bought fresh in markets. A product can be bought out of season, but that would mean it’s not being bought within its natural harvest season.

Does that matter? Yes, on several levels!

First and foremost, eating what’s in season is more cost effective for you. Naturally harvested products tend to cost less than products harvested out of their natural seasons due to artificial growing methods or shipping costs.

Additionally, taste matters! A product bought in season tastes fresher than one bought out of season. An out of season product is either grown at a hothouse, which is a mostly glass building specifically used for growing out of season foods, or shipped from somewhere around the world. Both of these methods can affect the taste since Mother Nature didn’t get a chance to properly nurture the food, and the food must be frozen ASAP to prevent rotting.

Finally, by eating what foods are in season, you are provided with tastier variety all year long! Most people don’t even realize that the fall and winter seasons yield natural crops, just as the spring and summer yield a nice variety. 

Some examples of foods that are IN season at different times throughout the year include:

Fall – cranberries, squash, apples, garlic, grapes, figs, mushrooms, celery, cauliflower.
Winter – citrus, kale, radishes, turnips, leeks, celery, cauliflower, kiwis.
Spring – grapefruit, green onions, kiwis, lemons, onions, scallions, strawberries.
Summer – chickpeas, corn, gooseberries, green beans, pea greens, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, most berries.

So go ahead! Eat some berries this week! Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are bound to be bright, juicy, ripe, and delicious because they’re all IN season right now!

I’ll be sure to post some DELICIOUS berry recipes for you to enjoy, so check back later this month 🙂

Advertisements

Running on the Beach

Let’s be honest, the only place we really want to be in the summer is on a beach. For you fitness freaks out there, that doesn’t mean you have to just lounge lazily in the sun and snack all day long. You can get a great workout by running in the sand, and it can be as relaxing or challenging as you want!

Running on the beach provides a couple of options for your workout. Running closer to the water’s edge, especially during low tide, offers wetter and more compact sand to run on. This makes it easier to navigate along your run and offers an enjoyable, smooth ride for you to enjoy on the ocean’s edge.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, running in the softer, looser sand provides more resistance. In fact, it takes more energy and work to navigate through looser sand as your tendons and muscles adjust to the unnevennes of the terrain. Running in looser sand is a bit like running hills, requiring you to generate more force and work harder overall.

Running in sneakers versus running barefoot also allows you to control the intensity of your run. Running in shoes on the beach is perfectly fine, especially if you’ve had injuries like plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis. The sneakers will continue to provide your feet the support they need on the unpredictable terrain sand offers.

While running barefoot allows your feet to follow through their full range of motion, it can irritate the chronic conditions mentioned above, since the muscles are stretched more and are not being supported by the proper shoes. If you choose to go the no shoes route, beware of doing too much mileage, too soon. The harder surface could result in injury if you aren’t used to it. Additionally, beaches are typically littered with sharp shells and often times, glass or other litter. Beware of this risk if you decide to run barefoot.

Harder sand or softer sand, in sneakers or not – either way, if you’ve never run on a beach before, start slow. Begin with a short 15 minute jog and slowly increase your time as the weeks progress. Your legs and feet will need to adjust to the work they’ll be doing in the sand, and your body as a whole will have to adjust to the higher energy demands running on sand requires.

For me, running on the beach is the most relaxing workout there is. Waking up early before the crowd arrives while it’s still silent but for the sound of wind and waves is one of the most peaceful times to appreciate what your body can do. So give it a try! Go for a quick little jog on the coast and see how renewed you feel after running behind such a glorious canvas!

Exercising in the Heat

Is warmer weather finally approaching? Is it time for a tropical vacation? Do you still want to get some exercise in and stay on top of your routine? If so, here are a few things you should understand about exercising in the heat to stay safe and maximize your workout.

Various body adaptations occur as we adjust to warmer temperatures during exercise. Some things happen immediately, while other adaptations occur over time as you continue to get used to exercising in warmer temperatures. Here are the basic, major adaptations that occur.

HEART RATE, STROKE VOLUME, & BLOOD VOLUME

Short Term: Initially, your heart will work harder when you begin exercising in the heat as it attempts to maintain homeostasis. You may feel more sluggish exercising at the same intensities in the heat than you do at lower temperatures. This is because your body is working harder to stay cool and fuel your muscles in the heat.

Long Term: Once you adapt to the higher temperatures, your heart will be under less stress. Your heart rate will actually decrease but you’ll still be able to work at higher intensities. This allows you to perform better because as your heart rate decreases, your stroke volume, which is the amount of blood sent out with each contraction of your ventricles, increases.

Additionally, with an increased plasma volume, your body will be able to send more blood to the skin’s surface to cool you down, and also more can be sent to the muscles to allow them to work at their best.

BLOOD VESSELS, SKIN, SWEATING, & IONS

Short Term: Your body will immediately begin to sweat more in the heat, as your core temperature rises. Sweating is how your body tries to maintain homeostasis. In this case, homeostasis looks like your body attempting to stay within the ideal core temperature range. To do this, your body will sweat more as it tries to cool itself down.

In order to sweat, your body will increase skin and muscle vasodilation. This means your blood vessels widen, or dilate, in order to allow more blood to flow near the skin’s surface, where heat can be lost via convection, evaporation, and radiation.

Initially, sweating more than normal leads to a lot of water loss, which can lead to dehydration. You can lose more than 3 liters of water per hour while exercising in the heat, depending on duration and intensity. If you aren’t careful about drinking a lot of water or another beverage containing some electrolytes before and after a workout, this dehydration can lead to hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is a serious issue wherein your body is unable to cool itself. You might become dizzy, faint, and nauseous.

Long Term: Sweat is a mixture of mostly water and some salt. As your body adapts more to exercising in the heat, your kidneys will get better at holding onto the salt and excreting mostly just the water. This is a good adaptation because if you sweat a lot and lose too much salt, it can cause ion imbalances which can lead to cramping in your muscles.

The temperature at which you begin to sweat will lower as well. This allows your blood vessels to dilate sooner and your body to begin sweating, and cooling itself, sooner. This maximizes the benefits of sweating and lets you cool faster.

OTHER THINGS TO NOTE

If you are competing in higher temperatures that you are used to, you might want to give your body a week or two to adjust so that you can perform safely at your best. Your body makes most of these important adaptations in just one week, then results begin to plateau around two weeks.

Wear appropriate clothing that is light or designed to aid in evaporation, like compression clothing.

Additionally, wearing sunscreen will protect you in the sun and help prevent cancer and other skin issues. Wearing sunglasses or a hat is also a good idea to minimize squinting in the sunlight, which can cause headaches and wrinkles if done for a prolonged period of time.

And of course, if you know you’ll be exercising for a while in the heat, be prepared and pack plenty of fluids!

REVIEW

Short & Long Term Adaptations:
1. Blood volume and plasma volume increase
2. Heart rate decreases
3. Vasodilation of blood vessels
4. Sweating more, sooner
5. Retaining salt

Things to Remember:
6. Sun screen
7. Sunglasses/hat
8. Light weight/compression clothes
9. Water/gatorade

Next time you jet off on a tropical vacation or summer comes around and you want to exercise, you need to be smart! Think of how your body works to keep you safe and at your best in warm weather, then respect those limitations and needs, and take care of yourself.