Is Coconut Oil the Newest Fad or is There Something To It?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that coconut oil is the new ‘must-have’ product in your home. It boasts an array of benefits which span from the bathroom to the kitchen, and it seems almost too good to be true. People have been asking me whether it’s just a fad, but it looks like coconut oil is definitely here to stay!

The truth is coconut oil has been used for thousands of years in other cultures. It is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medical system of India, as well as in many other traditional health practices.

We’re a couple of millennia late to the party, but it’s better late than never! Here are some of the reasons why you should invite coconut oil into your life:

 

It’s Great for Cooking! 

  • It’s a terrific substitute for butter or margarine because it is solid at room temperature.
  • Because of its high smoking temperature, it’s great for baking, stir frying and roasting (unlike olive oil).
  • Unlike butter, it is ideal for vegans.
  • It is extremely stable and resistant to oxidation, which lends itself to a shelf life of up to 2 years!
  • Coconut is classified as a seed or a fruit so people with tree nut allergies generally do not have to worry about allergic responses.

It Keeps You Gorgeous!

  • Dry skin from the winter?  No problem! Coconut oil works wonders as a moisturizer, and can prevent dryness and flaking of skin.
  • It is a great anti-wrinkle cream because of its antioxidant properties. Apply coconut oil directly to your skin to soften the appearance of fine lines.
  • It can be used to treat eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.  This is why it is often the first ingredient in soaps, creams, and lotions.
  • You can use it as massage oil, lip balm, and even to treat diaper rash!
  • It can be used as a hair mask, as it has healing and nourishing properties for dry and damaged hair. It can be heavy, so if your hair is on the thinner side just massage it lightly into the ends, and don’t forget to wash it out!
  • It is an amazing eye make-up remover.

It Helps Keep You Healthy!

  • It can help improve digestion and digestive problems including Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • The saturated fats in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties which can fight various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can cause indigestion.
  • Most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid.  This is considered a healthy
    choice as studies show that lauric acid can raise your ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL)
    and lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL).
  • Coconut oil also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
  • Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are small enough to be absorbed into the cells where they’re quickly converted to energy. Through this process insulin sensitivity is improved as there is no spike in blood sugar or insulin levels.

It Might Even Keep You Skinny!

  • The short and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil can help take off excess weight. These MCFAs are sent directly to the liver and immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as body fat.
  • Even Oprah is behind it! In September 2012 Oprah magazine cited two studies linking coconut oil to weight loss. Here are the specifics:

“A study published in the journal Lipids found that a small group of obese women who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil a day for 12 weeks saw their waistlines shrink, while women who consumed the same amount of soybean oil experienced no such change. And one of St-Onge’s studies, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that overweight subjects who consumed medium-chain triglycerides as part of a diet program lost more weight and more abdominal fat than subjects who consumed olive oil.”

 Coconut Oil: Not Just a Fad!

I only keep two oils in my home; olive oil for salad dressings and low heating,
and coconut oil for everything else.

If you decide to purchase coconut oil, make sure it’s labeled virgin or extra virgin as they are produced from the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut without adding any chemicals.

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Women Who Have Trouble Sleeping May Pack on the Pounds

A study that tracked 68,183 middle-aged women for a period of 16 years found that compared to women who slept 7 hours per night, women who slept for 5 hours per night were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain (an increase of 33 pounds or more) and 15% were more likely to become obese. Women who slept for 6 hours were 12% more likely to have major weight gain and 6% more likely to become obese.

Another study by Finnish researchers that followed more than 7,300 40-60 year olds between 2000-2002 for seven years found was that women who reported they had trouble falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep on at least 14 nights gained weight verus those women who didn’t. At the outset of the study 20% of women reported to having frequent sleep problems and those same women also reported a major weight gain of 11 pounds or more by the studies end.

The most recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, Minnesota Obesity Center and the Mayo Clinic provides a glimpse into the reason why weright gain and lack of sleep may by linked. The study followed 17 healthy young men and women for eight nights with half of the participants sleeping normally and the other half sleeping only 2/3 of their normal sleep time. Both groups were allowed to eat whatever they wished during the experiment.

What researchers discovered was that the group that slept 1 hour and twenty minutes less than the control group consumed 549 additonal calories per day. Researchers also found that the amount of energy used wasn’t significantly different between the 2 groups, suggesting that those who slept 1 hour and twenty miniutes less didn’t burn additional calories.

The focus of the study was to determine whether lack of sleep affected hormone levels of leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you that you are full and to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have LESS leptin. Gherlin is the hormone that tells your body that it is hungry and when you are sleep deprived you have MORE gherlin. More gherlin + less leptin =weight gain.

Even though this was a small study it’s implications are large, especially for people who don’t make sleep a priority or for those people who expereince difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Read some tips here for getting a good nights sleep.

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“Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee”

We were inspired by the importance of Heart and Stroke Month, so we decided to find another heart pumping activity to help get us going and re-inspired. After all, we’re only three months away from one of the most heart thumping events this year, The Tough Mudder.

Since the weather has been somewhat of a fitness foe, we decided to look for another indoor activity that could really get us going. Wow, did we ever succeed – welcome to Ladies Only Muay Thai Kickboxing Boot Camp.

We attended a four week session held every Saturday at an authentic local kick boxing gym. For an hour each week we kicked, punched, crunched and push-upped our way through a mean yet incredibility satisfying work out.  Our fearless instructor was always on hand to ensure we were always in the correct position and maximizing the benefits of each heart pumping circuit.  At the end of every hour, we could always feel the impact of the workout in our arms, legs, core and back.  Our heart rates were up the entire time, and during each workout we burned approximately 600-800 calories! This was extremely motivating and kept us coming back even though we were always sore the next day (but in a good way).

What’s nice about this class is that you can take some of what you learn home with you.

Skipping is a big part of the warm-up; it’s not all about the bag work and you’re sweet left hook.  A 15 minute skipping interval will increase your heart rate and help you burn up to 200 calories. Try incorporating skipping in between your weight circuit or into your daily fitness routine.

 

Another great take home tip was a yoga movement called “the plank”. We’re sure many of you are familiar with this movement. You lie face down on the ground and then raise yourself up onto your feet and elbows. Keep your core tight, hips down and back flat. Stay as tight as possible. You’ll start to feel the effects in your arms, back, core and legs. Add a plank onto the end of your workouts. With each workout, increase the time you can hold the plank position as well as the number of repetitions. The “plank” is a great full body exercise to finish off your exercise routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An added bonus with boot camp sessions is the short commitment of only four classes. At the completion of the four classes, you have the option to walk away or purchase another monthly package. A great format for those who don’t know what exercise they like or get bored easily.

 

 

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Now Qualified to Run Away with the Circus

Struggling to stay committed to your fitness program? If you’re anything like the femMED team, you’re likely starting to get a little bored with your usual routine and find it more difficult by the day to get motivated to work off those extra pounds. That’s why we decided it was time to add a bit more fun to our workout by joining the circus…well, sort of!

Last Friday some of the femMED staffers attended the Toronto School of Circus Arts Drop-In Trapeze class. The gloomy winter weather is a big fitness turn-off, so we knew we needed to do something that would help pump-up our motivation and keep us engaged in getting healthy.

After some initial research, we discovered that the benefits of a trapeze workout are enormous. Generally, most workout routines (such as Zumba, cycling or running) focus primarily on your lower body. Trapeze focuses on the exact opposite, it’s all about developing your arms, back and core. It’s excellent for increasing strength, improving flexibility, posture and toning muscles. Over the course of our first trapeze lesson, which flew by (pun intended), we burned approximately 300-400 calories in just one hour. And, if calories burned aren’t indication enough of a quality workout, the next day we could really feel the impact on our biceps, triceps, upper back and core.

Another perk afforded by this workout is that there are elements you can take home with you. For example, find an outdoor pull bar that you can hang from (most playgrounds have them) and practice your knee hang (it’s exactly as it sounds). Lift you knees up, swing them through your arms and under the bar and then rest them over the bar. When complete, the bar should be nestled under your knees. If you feel confident enough you can let go and hang there or, add a couple of upside down crunches.

Trapeze class was not only a great physical workout; it was also a mental workout. You really had to push yourself to overcome the initial fear of climbing and swinging from a two story platform. Once conquered, we just couldn’t wait to get back up, go again and learn new tricks.

By making exercise a social and fun experience that you can do with friends, we found sticking to our healthy living goals to be a less daunting process.  We’re refreshed and ready to try new things, meet new people and have less fear holding us back.

 

 

 

 

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“Reshape Your Body” Seminar with Dr. Pearlman

On Wednesday night, the ladies from femMED attended Dr. Jennifer Pearlman’s “Reshape Your Body” seminar.  It was the first in a series of speaking events that Dr. Pearlman and her staff have begun to host for clients and those interested in learning about the different ways to improve their overall well-being as they age.

When we arrived, we were greeted by staff, and invited to mingle before being shown to an intimate seating area for the presentation.  There were lots of delicious, nutritious gluten free treats for guests to snack on throughout the evening. We particularly LOVED the caramel popcorn. So yummy! We also loved the gift bag featuring samples from the PearlRejuvenation product line – we just couldn’t wait to try them when we got home.

Dr. Pearlman and her staff covered topics including the affects of different foods on your gut and digestion, the importance of melatonin and better skincare, sleep practices and the impact of fluctuating hormones during major life milestones such menopause.

Our big takeaway from the evening is that it’s never too early to start making long term health decisions about how you will care for your body, and it’s never too late to start making better life style choices.  As well, women need to learn that it’s  alright to start spending time and money on themselves!

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