Hoop Health

Welcome to NBA FIT Hoop Health, your new blog where you’ll find useful information on lifestyle and wellness. Here we’re all about helping you be the healthiest, happiest person you can be. We’ll share powerful information on nutrition, exercise, family life, career, and spiritual practice. All aimed at helping you make positive choices for your life.

Be sure to check back regularly for Ed's latest blog post. He'll respond directly to your questions.


Ed Genece
Edwin Genece is a Certified Holistic Health Coach who counsels individuals and consults on workplace wellness for New York area corporations. He is also the Founder and President of EG Bodywork, which provides Licensed Massage Therapy services in the Tri-State area. Ed's mission is to help people lead healthier, happier, more balanced lives. Learn more about Ed’s services: www.edwingenece.com; www.egbodywork.com

The views expressed here are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA.


Breathe to be Well
Posted by Ed Genece on January 19, 2012
NBAE/Getty Images
Breathing is one of the easiest and most accessible things you can do to improve your health. Yet it is so often overlooked. Want to relax your mind and body? Breathe! Want a quick energy boost? Breathe! Want to burn calories? Breathe!

Proper breathing techniques can bring you many benefits, like:

Heightened energy.

Reduced mental and physical fatigue.

Reduced need for artificial stimulants and many harmful prescription drugs.

Strengthening of the life force, emotional stability and mental clarity to feel more energetic, strengthen coping skills, increase positive energy, and strengthen sense of self.

Improved blood circulation.

Increased supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body.

Easing the strain on the heart by increasing oxygen to the heart.

Helps increase the supply of blood and nutrients to muscle and bones.

Relax deeper.

Look more rested.

Feel nurtured and accepted.

TRY THIS The 4-7-8 exercise. When you’re feeling tense or challenged, try this stress-busting breathing exercise. Borrowed from Dr. Andrew Weil, you can practice this technique anywhere and any time: Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens - before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.


Holiday Cooking!
Posted by Ed Genece on December 19, 2011
Welcome back to Hoop Health! With the holidays fast approaching, and the NBA season starting on Christmas Day, we all look forward to enjoying our favorite foods. Right now, I am anticipating some great desserts in particular. Eaten in moderation, and prepared with healthy ingredients, you can enjoy desserts without packing on the calories. Here are some tasty and healthy recipes of my favorite desserts you can prepare for--and with--your family. Enjoy!

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies- Food.com

Ingredients:
o 1/2 cup brown sugar
o 2 egg whites
o 2/3 cup applesauce ( unsweetened)
o 1 teaspoon vanilla
o 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
o 1 teaspoon baking soda
o 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
o 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
o 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
o 1 1/2 cups old fashion oatmeal
o 2/3 cup raisins
o 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Preparation:
1. Mix brown sugar thru vanilla together
2. Add flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg
3. Stir in oatmeal, raisins& walnuts
4. Drop on cookie sheets which have been sprayed or I use parchment paper
5. (flatten with fork) Bake in 350 oven for about 10 minutes
6. Yields 24-30 cookies

Nutrition: 82 calories, 0.5g fat, 0.1g saturated fat, 18.1g carbohydrates, 61.2mg sodium, 6.9g sugar, 2.1g protein, 1.6g fiber


Healthy Apple Pie- ThatsFit.com

Ingredients:
Filling:
4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1 medium jicama, peeled and shredded
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Crust:
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
4 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons baking powder

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Combine the apples, jicama, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Mix well to coat the fruit and put aside until crust is ready.
3. To make the crust, combine the pastry flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is soft and crumbly. Add water until mixture forms a ball.
4. Divide in half and shape into a ball. Roll dough on a floured surface. Line pie plate with half the dough.
5. Fill pie plate with the apple mixture.
6. Cover with the second crust. Cut slits in the top and brush with egg whites if desired.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 F and continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Serves: 12

Nutrition:
235 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 47 g carbohydrates, 16 g sugars, 9 g fiber, 5 g protein, 186 mg sodium


Whole-Wheat Scones -eatingwell.com

Ingredients:
• 4 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces
• 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
• 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
• 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup currants
• 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
• 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk, divided

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet or coat it with nonstick spray. Place cream cheese and butter in freezer to chill, about 10 minutes.
2. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut cream cheese and butter into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Add currants and orange zest and toss to incorporate. Make a well in the flour mixture. Add 2/3 cup buttermilk, stirring with a fork until just combined.
3. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and knead gently 7 or 8 times. Divide dough in half. With floured hands, pat each piece into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. With a floured knife, cut each circle into 8 wedges. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk.
4. Bake scones for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden and firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.
5. Yields 16 scones.

Nutrition:
Per serving : 87 Calories; 2 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 0 g Mono; 6 mg Cholesterol; 14 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 261 mg Sodium; 28 mg Potassium

Get Those Kids OUT!
Posted by Ed Genece on May 23, 2011
NBAE/Getty Images
One of the most important things you can do for your kid’s health is to get them outdoors, and moving.. If you haven’t heard the recent news, obesity is a major problem among today’s youth. Some of the stats are scary. According to the Centers for Disease Control:

-Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.

-Obesity is the result of caloric imbalance (too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed) and is mediated by genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term health impacts:

-Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

-Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

-Obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Not a pretty picture., eh? So how did we get here? One clear factor is the abundance of processed food in the American diet. Our lifestyles have changed such that grabbing convenient, fast food has largely won the day over preparing meals with fresh whole foods. Another factor, which I think is equally important, is the impact of our generally sedentary lifestyle. Kids don’t play the way they used to., so they’re not using up those calories As a child and teenager growing up in Queens, New York, having fun was all about playing some game or sport outside. By far, the four words my parents heard from me most often were: “can I go outside?” It’s all I, and my friends wanted to do. “Outside” is where we always wanted to be. That’s where we could…PLAY. We played tag, hide and seek, catch, punch ball, dodge ball, stick ball, wall ball, hand ball, hopscotch, basketball, soccer, and touch football. We also climbed trees, ran races, and rode our bikes endlessly around our neighborhood. All these activities required movement and exertion. Of course we didn’t think about that. It was just fun to us. A lot more fun than anything that was happening “inside”.

Now kids have fun playing video games, surfing the web, and watching a seemingly endless number of cable channels. That’s all cool, except that, until Wii and Kinect came out, none of these activities involved movement. The calories are accumulating in their bodies instead of being burned. We don’t see kids playing games in the street like we used to, but it’s more important than ever to encourage them to get regular physical activity. Enroll your kids in a sports league, martial arts or dance studio. Encourage them to get out to your local park. Whatever activity makes sense for you and your children, just get them up and GET THEM OUT.


10 Ways to Lose Weight!
Posted by Ed Genece on April 15, 2011
NBAE/Getty Images
Hey FIT fans, Spring has sprung, and it’s a time when many of us focus on losing weight. We want to look our best when we hit the beach, right? Often the main question my clients have is: “how do I lose weight and keep it off?” Many have tried trendy diets and pills, eat nothing but “low-fat” foods, obsessive calorie counting, or starving themselves, and still can’t keep the pounds off. Well, what they and many others have found is that those temporary fixes are not the answer for long-term weight loss. Here are ten tips to help you lose weight and feel great.

1. Feed your soul. Friends and family, physical activity, spirituality and a satisfying career feed us. Lack of balance in these areas creates over-reliance on edible food.

2. Drink water. Most people are chronically dehydrated. We often mistake thirst for hunger. If you feel hungry between meals, drink a glass of water before giving into cravings. Limit liquid calories from soda and juice.

3. Eat a plant-based diet. Plant foods are typically lower in unfavorable fats and calories and higher in filling fiber than meat, dairy and processed foods, while providing loads of essential nutrients.

4. Chew your food well. Digestion begins in the mouth. By thoroughly chewing your food, your body will better assimilate nutrients; you will also slow down your eating. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that it is full. By slowing your eating, you’ll feel full and satisfied on less food.

5. Eat real food. Avoid products with high-fructose corn syrup or a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. They tend to be highly processed, lacking the nutrients your body needs, and are often loaded with empty calories.

6. Eat breakfast. Skipping meals causes your blood sugar levels to peak and dip, affecting your energy and moods. It can also cause overeating later on because you’re so hungry.

7. Eat mindfully. Turn off the TV. Get away from the computer. Sit down and savor the food you are eating with no distractions.

8. Get moving. Do any type of physical activity every day. Find movement or exercise you enjoy.

9. Sleep, rest and relax. When you are sleep-deprived or stressed, your body will crave energy, causing cravings for sugary snacks and caffeine as an energy boost.

10. Schedule fun time. Boredom and stress can lead to overeating. Make sure to take time to laugh, play and participate in activities that bring you joy.

Source: Integrative Nutrition


Meditate to Feel Great!
Posted by Ed Genece on February 23, 2011
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In my work as a health coach and massage therapist, I’m often asked for advice on reducing stress. One of my favorite recommendations is meditation, an effective way to calm body, mind and spirit.

Recent research indicates that meditating brings about dramatic effects in as little as a 10-minute session. Several studies have demonstrated that subjects who meditated for a short time showed increased alpha waves (the relaxed brain waves) and decreased anxiety and depression.

Meditation offers many benefits, including:

Decreased muscle tension
Increased blood flow
Lowered blood pressure
Improved focus and concentration
Easier, intentional breathing, improving air flow to lungs
Increased serotonin level, affecting mood and behavior
Decrease in restless thinking
Less worrying
Deeper level of relaxation
Heightened awareness, and attention to the present moment

The physical act of meditation generally consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one's breath, a word or phrase. However, a meditator may also be walking or standing. The goal is to quiet the chatter in the mind and spirit, which comes from everyday life. There are many traditions and countless ways to practice meditation, often causing new meditators to wonder whether they are doing it correctly. According to Roger Thomson, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice in Chicago and a Zen meditator, there is one way to know for sure: "If you're feeling better at the end, you are probably doing it right."

"It is a very effective stress-reducer, which is a way into the practice for many people," says Thomson, who sometimes refers clients to meditation. "If someone is struggling with feelings of anxiety, he or she may benefit from its calming aspects. And it's absolutely facilitative of mental health because it brings about a higher level of self-acceptance and insight about oneself."

Meditation is a way of change. It is a process of gradual development, understanding and growth. Some beginners will find it challenging. Remember that you set the boundaries and the pace for your own progress. Like any discipline, meditation requires practice. To get the most benefit, try not to focus on the outcome. Just be present in your journey.

I like to be in a quiet, comfortable place, free of distraction. Stretching helps me to center and start deep breathing. I then find a rhythm in my breath, and focus on it throughout my practice. Find your own space, and try it a few times. See where it takes you, and feel better!

Sources: Psychology Today, “How To Meditate”—Lawrence Leshan, Ph.D.


Say Yes to Yoga
Posted by Ed Genece on February 16, 2011
Looking for a way to raise your game? Check out yoga. An ancient tradition, which dates back over 3,500 years, yoga is now at the height of its popularity in our culture. Yoga, which means to yoke or unite, offers practitioners the opportunity for physical, emotional and spiritual transformation.

Historically, yoga was primarily a spiritual practice, a pathway for practitioners to deepen their meditation skills and be immersed in their divinity. Today, in Western culture, people often turn to yoga to alleviate pain. Rehabilitation from injury, or chronic physical and emotional challenges can be the catalysts. Back in the day, the asanas (yoga poses) and corresponding breathing techniques helped prepare yogis for the rigors of meditation practice. Today, yoga may prepare the practitioner’s body for the challenges of basketball, ballet, or the stress of everyday life.

Usually, we focus on the many physical benefits we receive from yoga: improved flexibility, strength, posture, and stamina. Fortunately, yoga is about much more than the physical body. It also affects the physiological body, the emotional body, the intellectual body and the spiritual body. So, though your intention may be to lose weight, or tone up, or relieve nagging back pain, doing the asanas over an over can also have a powerful effect outside of yoga class. Applying the gifts of flexibility, strength and stamina to our relationships at home and at work, cultivating an open heart and mind. These can be the most significant benefits of yoga.

There are many types of yoga, including:

Hatha
Vinyasa
Anasura
Bikram
Sivananda
Integral
Ashtanga
Kundalini
Jivamukti
Ayengar

As always, I encourage you to explore the various approaches, and experiment with what helps you most. As a beginner, it’s best to start slow, and build your practice gradually. Yoga is a great way to tap into your power, and helps keep you in balance. Try it, enjoy it, and see what good things happen for you--inside and out.


Feeling Rundown? Address Your Adrenals
Posted by Ed Genece on February 08, 2011
NBAE/Getty Images
Daily living can cause much stress, which is not easy on the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamine, including cortisol and adrenaline.

When the adrenals are tired, the body may experience a number of different symptoms. The most common symptoms caused by tired or worn-out adrenal glands are:

  • Excessive sweating or perspiration from little activity
  • Lower back pain and/or knee weakness or pain, especially on the side
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Low blood sugar
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sensitivity to light, or difficulty seeing at night
  • A craving for salt
  • Low stamina for stress, easily irritated
  • Excessive mood responses after eating carbohydrates such as pasta, breads and sugar
  • Chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Light-headedness on standing up
  • Tired but wired feeling, poor sleep
  • Cravings for sweets and carbs, intolerance to alcohol
  • Premature aging
  • Dry, unhealthy skin with excess pigmentation
  • Lack of libido
  • Cystic breasts
  • Tendency to startle easily
  • Negative response to thyroid hormone

If you suspect you might have tired adrenals, address it right away. Adrenal glands are extremely important to a healthy immune system. They are necessary for proper thyroid function.

Natural Ways to Support Your Adrenals

  • Get some sleep. You must rest if you are going to help your adrenals get stronger. That means going to bed every night by 10 p.m. Make this a priority and stick with it. Your adrenals need their beauty sleep!
  • Eliminate sugar and processed carbohydrates. Sugar and processed carbohydrates (junk!) put stress on the adrenals. Adrenal glands help to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Eat clean animal protein foods, organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans and grains.
  • Quit the coffee habit and drink plenty of fresh filtered water every day.

Sources: Nutri-meds.com, Integrative Nutrition


Get Up on Your Greens!
Posted by Ed Genece on February 02, 2011

Green vegetables are the foods most lacking in our diets today. This is a sad fact, because learning to cook and eat greens is essential to maintaining health. Greens help strengthen the blood and respiratory system, and bolster your immune system. When you nourish yourself with greens, it helps you naturally crowd out empty, unhealthy food choices.

Greens are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are packed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.

When we eat dark leafy greens, we get huge benefits, including:

Blood purification
Cancer prevention
Improved circulation
Strengthened immune system
Promotion of healthy intestinal flora
Lifted spirit and elimination of depression
Improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function
Cleared congestion by reducing mucus, especially in lungs

When you think of leafy vegetables, there’s a whole lot more out there than the pale iceberg lettuce you may get at restaurants. At home, be adventurous, and experiment with a variety of greens, like bok choy, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens broccoli rabe, parsley. Cabbage, arugula, endive, chicory, mesclun and wild greens are generally eaten raw, but can you can enjoy them in many creative ways.

When cooking greens, you may want to steam, boil, sauté in oil or water, or pickle. Choose the method that works best for you, but get into the habit of adding dark leafy greens to your daily diet. Try it out for a month. Trust me, you’ll feel better!

Garlic Steamed String Beans

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Yield: about 4 servings

Ingredients
1 pound string beans, rinsed and ends removed
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons tamari
4 tablespoons tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

1. Place beans in a steamer basket.
2. Add about 2 inches of water into the pot.
3. Bring to a boil, cover and let steam for 10 minutes.
4. Mix tahini, garlic, and tamari.
5. When beans are tender, place in a bowl with garlic mixture.
6. Squeeze with lemon juice, combine and serve.


Beat Those Winter Blues
Posted by Ed Genece on January 25, 2011
NBAE Getty Images
During the winter months, many of us may experience periods of fatigue, low energy, and even sadness or depression. These symptoms, commonly known as “the winter blues”, are attributable to less hours of light during the day, and more time spent indoors than during warmer months. Feeling the winter blues often leads to cravings for high-carbohydrate “comfort foods”, and sweets. An increase in these foods, combined with less physical activity, can lead to unwanted weight gain and irritability.

Want to keep the blues at bay? Here are 10 tips to increase your energy, and help keep you in balance:

1) Reduce or eliminate caffeine.

  • The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar ups and downs, making mood swings more frequent.
  • 2) Drink water.

  • Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Before you go to sugar or caffeine, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see what happens.
  • Caution: Soft drinks are now America’s number one source of added sugar.
  • 3) Eat dark leafy green vegetables.

  • Green is associated with spring, the time of renewal and refreshing, vital energy.
  • Greens are full of vitamins and nutrients and great for improving circulation, lifting the spirit, purifying the blood and strengthening the immune system.
  • Broccoli, collards, bok choy, kale, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, arugula and dandelion greens are some of the many to choose from.
  • 4) Use gentle sweets.

  • Avoid sugar and chemicalized artificial sweeteners.
  • Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and stevia.
  • Also eat sweet vegetables such as yams, carrots and beets.
  • 5) Get physical activity.

  • Start with simple activities, like walking or yoga—start with 10 minutes a day and increase.
  • 6) Get more sleep and rest and relaxation.

  • When you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy.
  • These cravings are often a result of being sleep-deprived, going to bed late, waking up early, for months and years on end.
  • 7) Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat.

  • Eating too much meat, dairy, chicken and eggs can lead to low energy. So can eating too little! Experiment. Respect your body’s individuality.
  • 8) Take time for yourself.

  • Find activities that restore your energy, such as a walk, a bath, a museum, a movie or whatever you enjoy, and schedule a weekly date with yourself to do these things!
  • 9) Get in touch with your spirituality.

  • We are spiritual beings in a physical world.
  • Find ways to get in touch with your spiritual side, be it meditating, dancing, drawing, going to church or temple or being in nature.
  • 10) Get rid of relationships that drain you.

  • People can drain you of your energy. It doesn’t mean that they are bad, but it is good to notice who drains you and why.
  • See if you can transform those relationships by communicating and setting boundaries, or end the relationship.


  • pH Balance
    Posted by Ed Genece on January 20, 2011
    NBAE Getty Images
    When it comes to maintaining wellness, it often comes down to numbers. From calories and weight, to blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, we manage many aspects of our health by measuring numbers. One important number, which is often overlooked, is pH balance.

    pH balance indicates the level of acidity and alkalinity in the body. The lower the pH, the more acidic the blood. The optimal blood pH is between 7.35 and 7.45. Various factors affect blood pH (including lung and kidney function, endocrine function), but the main factor that we can control is diet. Knowing your pH will help you make better food choices to keep you in balance.

    Most people who suffer from unbalanced pH are acidic, or in a state of acidosis. This condition can cause the body to borrow minerals—including calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium—from vital organs and bones to neutralize the acid and safely remove it from the body. Because of this strain, the body can suffer ailments and prolonged damage due to high acidity—a condition that may go undetected for years.

    Acidosis is quite common in our society, mostly due to the typical American diet: high in acid-producing animal products like meat, eggs and dairy, and far too low in alkaline-producing foods like fresh vegetables. Processed foods like white flour and sugar, and beverages such as coffee and soft drinks, are also big acid producers. Mild acidosis can lead to conditions such as:

    slow digestion and elimination
    low energy and chronic fatigue
    weight gain, obesity and diabetes

    You can easily check your pH at home with the use pH testing tape, which you can find it at the local health food store. Follow the instructions to test your urine and/or saliva. The result will tell you where you are on the scale, and help you make choices to get more balance.

    To regain balance, eat more alkaline foods. It is generally recommended that we eat 80 percent alkaline foods (green leafy vegetables, fruits), and 20 percent acid foods (meat, fish, grains, legumes). Experiment, and find the ratio that works best for you.


    NBA FIT Live Healthy Week
    Posted by Ed Genece on January 12, 2011

    During NBA FIT Live Healthy Week (Jan. 4-12), each team in the league has held clinics and other activities showcasing the importance of fitness and making healthy choices. I had the pleasure of conducting two exercise classes for NBA employees in NY/NJ. I also had fun assisting the Knicks' Toney Douglas with a fitness clinic for kids at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in New York. Check out the video below, and be sure to share the many NBA Fit videos with the kids, family and friends.


    FIT Tips for 2011
    Posted by Ed Genece on January 07, 2011
    NBAE Getty Images

    HAPPY NEW YEAR to all you FIT fans!  Best wishes for a year of good health, abundance and prosperity.  Now is the time when many of us make resolutions for the coming year.  It is rewarding to meet one’s goals, and can be demoralizing to fall short.  Here are a few tips to help turn your intentions into reality in 2011.

    1. Write down your intentions and keep them in a visible place, like taped to your bedroom mirror or the dashboard of your car. 

    2. Get to the source of whatever is keeping you in a rut. Are you in a stressful relationship that causes you to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night? Are you stressed at your job and feel too tired to exercise after work?  If you don’t tackle the root of the behavior, it will be much harder to accomplish your goal. 

    3. Be clear about what your life would look like once you achieve your goal. If you resolve to go to the gym more, how will this benefit you? Get connected to the result of your action, and you will be more likely to stick with your plan.

    4. Share your resolutions with friends and family. Hold each other accountable for achieving your goals. If you want to go to the gym more, have a friend call you two or three times a week to check on you or invite them to join you. 

    5. Reward yourself with every little accomplishment. If your intention is to lose weight and you lose 1 pound a week, pamper yourself with a massage.

    Food Focus: Sea Vegetables

    In traditional Chinese healing, sea vegetables correspond to the winter season and to the kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder and reproductive organs. The strengthening, balancing and cleansing properties of sea vegetables are known to help these organs as well as the hair, skin and nails. Sea vegetables (or seaweeds) provide a variety of minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron and iodine, and can help balance hormone and thyroid levels in the body. Eating too many processed foods or foods grown in mineral-depleted soil can result in a lack of minerals in the body, leading to cravings for salty or sugary foods. Adding sea vegetables to your diet can help balance your energy levels and alleviate cravings.

    Source: Integrative Nutrition


    Staying Healthy With Basketball
    Posted by Ed Genece on January 03, 2011
    NBAE Getty Images

    Dear Ed,

    I came across your blog while I was Google-ing for more information about how to stay healthy with basketball. I'm in my late 20s, and I haven't played basketball since I got cut from the girls' varsity team back in my sophomore year of high school. I've done plenty of sports since then, from cross-country to rugby, but lately I'm looking for a team sport that's fun and will keep me in shape for the long run. I'm thinking basketball is the ticket--it's cheap, and there are public courts pretty much everywhere you go. But I have a concern: how long do you think I'll be able to play? I've heard about people's knees giving out as they age, and I don't want to do anything to increase that risk for myself. Do you think basketball is a good bet as a lifetime sport, or would I be better off getting into something low-impact, like swimming? (The problem is I don't like swimming very much.) Also, if I go with basketball, what are some good ways to stay motivated? I'm starting from a place where I'm not such a hot dribbler, so it's a little demoralizing.

    Thanks,
    Maddy, Chicago, IL

    Hey Maddy, thanks for writing. I’m glad to hear you’re active in a variety of sports, to keep life interesting. I think there are few team sports that match basketball for a well-rounded, and balanced workout. The constant movement involved makes it a challenging and fun way to get your cardio and strength training at the same time. As with any fast-paced, impact sport, injuries can happen, so here are my suggestions on how you may minimize your chances of being sidelined.

    1. Wear the right shoes. Basketball shoes which are comfortable and provide strong support will help cushion the shock of jumping, quick stops, and pivots.

    2. Stretch before and after playing... Be sure to warm up your joints before stretching... Jumping jacks or running in place are effective ways to get the blood flowing.

    3. Play within your cohort. Competing with people of similar age and skill level helps guard against over exertion.

    4. Listen to your body. Avoid playing through pain. Resting and/or treating minor injuries can prevent larger problems down the road.

    5. Pace yourself. Start gradually, then build intensity and frequency of play.

    To stay motivated, try not to focus too much on outcomes, but on the experience of playing the game and staying fit. Also, continue to check out NBA Fit for videos on skill drills.


    Energy
    Posted by Ed Genece on December 21, 2010
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    When we think of energy, it’s easy to find it all around us. From your cell phone and PDA, to the TV, computer, and other appliances around your home, it makes things work. It powers cars and subway trains, elevators and streetlights. All things we take for granted in daily life.

    What about the energy inside you? How often do you think about it? In addition to tissue, bone, and fluids, our bodies are composed of dynamic energy. In eastern medicine, this energy is called qi (pronounced “chee”), and the approach to maintaining health and treating disease is about balancing one’s qi or life force. Imbalance can cause blockages in energy flow, leading to physical and emotional ailments. Many factors can affect your qi, from the types of foods you eat, to insufficient exercise or rest, and stress. The premise behind treatment modalities such as acupuncture, Reiki, and yoga, is to help the body release blockages and move closer to a state of balance.

    You can help yourself by focusing on your qi through deep breathing, quiet meditation, and being mindful of how different foods affect you. Strive to feed your life force with positive, healthy choices. Aspects of qi are organized in a carefully designed system of opposites, known as Yin and Yang. The chart below lists some Yin/Yang lifestyle qualities, and foods.

    YIN QUALITIESYANG QUALITIES
    CoolHot
    DarkLight
    Moon/nightSun/day
    IntuitionLogic
    UpDown
    FemaleMale
    SensitiveStrong
    ExpansiveContractive
    FuturePast

    YIN FOODS YANG FOODS
    “Yoga foods”“Weight lifter foods”
    RawCooked
    FruitsChicken, eggs
    SweetenersSalt
    AlcoholMeat
    Makes you light, happyGrounded, focused
    Can make you spacey, scatteredAggressive,forceful

    Balanced Foods

    • Whole grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, oats
    • Vegetables: squash, carrots, parsnips, onions, broccoli, mushrooms
    • Dark, leafy greens
    • Beans and legumes

    Sources
    Integrative Nutrition
    Food and Healing, Annemarie Colbin
    Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford


    Hoop Health Mailbag
    Posted by Ed Genece on December 14, 2010
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    Hey FIT fans, thanks for following the blog and for your interesting questions and comments. Please keep them coming!

    What is your favorite kind of exercise?
    –Holly, Austin, TX

    Since I was a kid, I’ve loved playing sports. Little League baseball, soccer, stickball, touch football, pick-up basketball, relay races, handball… You name it, I was always outside playing in some game. My love of sports continues to this day, and I still prefer some form of competition to working out in a gym. I do workout, however, and try to mix up my activities as much as possible. For cardio, I play in a weekly basketball game, jump rope, do wind sprints, and climb steep stairs in my neighborhood. For strength, I like push-ups, pull-ups, and dips.

    What do you do to avoid over-eating during the holiday season?
    –Tom, Hartford, CT

    I love holiday foods, especially at Thanksgiving. Because everything tastes SO good, it’s very easy to overdo it, and be sorry afterward. I do a few things to help keep me in balance:

    -Leading up to the holiday, I increase or at least maintain my physical activity.

    -On “game day”, I make sure not to starve myself, in an attempt to save space for all the goodies. This can lead to overeating during the main event. A healthy breakfast and snacks help stave off binging. When dinner is served, I make sure to have plenty of vegetables. The fiber stimulates digestion and helps me feel full longer.

    -Lastly, portion size is always important, so I keep from piling my plate too high by having one layer of food on my plate at a time. Double or triple layers is for wedding cakes!

    How do you suggest splitting my time between lifting weights and doing cardio?
    –James, Richmond, VA

    It depends on what your workout goals are, and your body type. For example, If burning fat is your mission, research indicates a combination of high-intensity cardio and resistance training yields the best results. In general, weight training helps retain and build the muscle you already have, while cardio helps burn more fat. We are all different, so there are no absolutes. I would suggest experimenting with time intervals, intensity, and varying your exercises to see what works best for you. Also, remember that diet can also account for about 70% of your results, so it’s important to keep an eye on your nutrition as well.

    Have your own question for Ed? E-mail him at: nbafit@nba.com.


    FAT: Friend, not Foe
    Posted by Ed Genece on December 8, 2010
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    Yes, you read correctly. I say fat is our friend, and that it has gotten a bad wrap in our culture. It may seem logical that eating fatty food makes one fat and overweight. So, if you eat “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods you should lose all the weight you want to, right? But it’s not that simple. While there seems to be a low-fat or “lite“ option for every food on the market, the premise for these products leads people to believe that all fat is bad. The fact is our bodies need fat to create energy and nourish our brain, heart, nerves, and hormones. Indeed, every cell in our bodies needs fat to thrive. Fat is not our enemy. It is vital to every aspect of our health. What we must focus on is the types of fats we consume. Eating sensible portions of healthy fats can actually help you lose weight, increase energy and boost your immune system. Oftentimes, people remain overweight, even though they take the “low-fat” or “fat-free” approach in their diet. They don’t lose weight, in part, because their body still is not getting the nutrients it needs. In many cases, favorable fats are what is missing. Our bodies need nutrient-rich, whole foods to function properly. The “low-fat”, “fat-free” approach deprives the body of what it needs for good metabolism.

    Saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods clog arteries and contribute to inflammation in the body. Favorable fats like olive oil, avocado oil, fish oil (Omega-3, Omega-6), and oils from seeds and nuts, contain essential fatty acids which nourish the body, helping to keep its systems balanced and running well.

    So where does the fat in your diet come from? Are you eating mostly processed foods? Is your diet mostly plant based, or meat and potatoes? Whatever is true for you, experiment with different whole foods, and remember to include good fats in your diet. Below is a simple recipe to get you on your way.

    Crab with Avocado Recipe

    Ingredients:

    • 6 oz of crab meat
    • 1 medium avocado
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed
    • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
    • Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • Pinch of paprika
    • Spring onions, for garnishing

    Preparation Instructions

    • Mix together the lemon juice, crushed garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.
    • Peel the avocado and remove the stone.
    • Mash the avocado flesh together with the mixture.
    • Gradually mix in the crab meat.
    • Chop the spring onions and add as a garnish.
    • Serve as desired.

    Winter Squash Stew
    Posted by Ed Genece on December 2, 2010
    NBAE Getty Images

    Getting those holiday blues yet? It happens to a lot of us, and often we'll turn to food for comfort. No problem, unless it's too much of the processed, empty foods and drinks that come with the holidays. There are many healthy, soothing alternatives that will feed your spirit as well as your body, AND help keep off those extra pounds. Try preparing the recipe below. It also serves as a fun activity to share with the kids.

    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cooking Time: 15 minutes
    Yields: 4 servings

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely minced
    • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
    • 1 winter squash, seeded, peeled, chopped (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, delcata)
    • Veggie or chicken stock
    • 2 teaspoons curry powder
    • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin

    Directions

    • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until onions become translucent.
    • In a pot place squash and fill with stock until just covered.
    • Add curry powder, cumin, onion and garlic.
    • Boil until squash becomes tender and remove pot from heat.
    • With an immersion blender purée squash until smooth.

    Notes: Add chopped fresh cilantro or parsley and/or toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish.


    Hoop Health
    Posted by Ed Genece on November 30, 2010
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    Welcome to NBA FIT Hoop Health, your new blog where you’ll find useful information on lifestyle and wellness. Here we’re all about helping you be the healthiest, happiest person you can be. We’ll share powerful information on nutrition, exercise, family life, career, and spiritual practice. All aimed at helping you make positive choices for your life.

    Wellness is not one size fits all. Your personal choices will be different from your neighbor or co-worker. What matters is that you find what works for you as an individual. We will discuss food here a lot, but the choices you make to maintain your personal and family health go beyond the foods you eat. Your wellness also encompasses the experiences that feed your spirit, reward your soul: movement, leisure, relationships, creativity, community, the arts, relaxation, prayer, fellowship, laughter, adventure, purposeful work. Here we’ll take a holistic approach, exploring all the facets of wellness, by sharing great recipes, healthy restaurants, exercise techniques, bodywork, green markets, etc.

    So join me in this space each week for ideas and tips to get NBA FIT. Whether you’re in a weekly pick-up game or coaching your kids’ basketball team; a ball room dancer or ballet fan; enjoy eating vegetarian or “chez Macdo”, the topics we cover will enlighten and help add balance to your life.

    Have a question for this author? Send comments here: nbafit@nba.com.