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      ENELL Founder Named Montana Ambassadors Entrepreneur of the Year

      ENELL Founder Named Montana Ambassadors Entrepreneur of the Year

      ENELL Founder Renelle Braaten has been named a Montana Ambassadors Entrepreneur of the Year!

      Renelle created the ENELL bra to solve her own problem of lack of support on the volleyball court, and since 1993, it has been the premiere sports bra for well-endowed women. Today, ENELL bras are available in 500 retail outlets in the United States, Canada, and 11 other countries.

      “Braaten credits her success to three values she holds true in everything she does: creativity, surrounding herself with quality people and always providing the best customer service, Montana Ambassadors said in announcing the award” said the Havre Daily News.

      Learn more about this award, and read the ENELL story here.

      Congratulations, Renelle!

      Feed Your Boobs: 14 Foods That Promote Breast Health

      Feed Your Boobs: 14 Foods That Promote Breast Health

      We’re told there are foods that will boost our metabolism, increase energy, manage heart disease, make us more fertile, and prevent bone loss. And the list goes so much further on. There’s also a body of foods that will, according to research, help prevent or reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Can a food really hone in on a particular body part or manage a niche set of symptoms or metabolic needs?

      food for boobs

      Not in the way we’d like to think they could. Overall, eating a wholesome diet rich in healthful foods will benefit every ounce of our being from the inside out. And Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, a private practice registered dietitian for more than 30 years, agrees that foods don’t necessarily benefit a single body part.

      “What makes a food unique to an organ or disease is that some researcher studied that particular thing and published the results,” she explained. That being said, there are foods that have been linked with fighting breast cancer.

      Whether you eat these foods in an effort to stave-off breast cancer and support general breast health, or just want one more good reason to add more of these colorful bites to your plate, here’s a plethora of fresh foods to enjoy.

      Peaches & Plums — These “stone fruits” were found to have antioxidant levels on par with the super food blueberries. According to research out of Texas A&M, two types of polyphenols (antioxidants) may fight breast cancer cells while also leaving healthy breast cells intact. Hartley says this is true of “all dark purple fruits [that] provide potent antioxidant activity,” and that it’s true whether you eat them fresh, frozen, or dried.

      Walnuts — The anti-inflammatory properties of this nut give it tumor-fighting capabilities. The available research was performed on mice with a human breast cancer, and those who ate two ounces of walnuts daily saw the tumor growth rate inhibited.

      Broccoli — A compound within broccoli called sulforaphane stymies breast cancer cells, according to research from the University of Michigan. They admit you’d have to eat a significant amount of broccoli to ingest that level, so researchers suggest getting as much sulforaphane as possible by eating the broccoli raw, steamed, or lightly cooked in stir-fry. When it is boiled, or cooked in harsh conditions, it destroys the compound. Sulforaphane (related to sulfur giving veggies that funky smell) is in other cruciferous (stinky) vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

      Salmon —Long-term use of fish oil is linked to the most common type of breast cancer, explained Hartley. How to dodge it? With fish oil and vitamin D, “a rare nutrient that enters cancer cells and triggers cell death,” she said. “Salmon happens to be one of the few foods that is high in both vitamin D and fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a omega-3 fat.” To reap all of the vitamin D and fish oil goodness, women should eat about eight ounces of oily fish each week. That can come from salmon, sardines, tuna, or black cod.

      Olive Oil — Get more healthy fats here, with the monounsaturated fats (aka MUFAs) found in olive oil and its antioxidants. That combo works to stop malignant cell growth.

      Parsley — It’s no longer just a pretty garnish. This flavorful herb (buy Italian parsley!) has a compound called apigenin that boosts the body’s resistance to cancerous tumors. Sprinkle over just about any dish to add subtle, calorie-free flavor.

      Beans & Lentils — Beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you reduce your risk of breast cancer! It seems that getting all the fiber you need every day can help reduce your risk. Just a half-cup of beans offers 10 grams of fiber, making it easy to reach recommendations! A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that for every 10 grams of fiber a woman adds to her diet each diet, she reduces her breast cancer risk by seven percent, explained Hartley.

      Sweet Potatoes — Eat more colorfully in general, but especially from the center. Orange and yellow foods are full of carotenoids, which the Journal of National Cancer Institute says will lower the risk of developing breast cancer. So you’re not limited to just sweet potatoes, but carrots and squashes count, too.

      Tea — The right brew for boobs is a fresh pot of tea, especially green tea. Polyphenols, the same antioxidant found in stone fruits, is an antioxidant that works hard to reduce urinary estrogen, a carcinogen that promotes breast cancer.

      Pomegranates — This beautiful fruit inhibits the spread of hormone-dependent breast cancer by suppressing estrogen and preventing growth of cancer cells. It’s the ellagic acid found in pomegranates that’s key, which you’ll also enjoy in raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, and pecans.

      Mushrooms — A mushroom a day could keep the doctor away? Research finds that eating fresh mushrooms each day can protect against breast cancer. Women who ingested grams or more of the fungi each day were two-thirds less likely to develop breast cancer. When they had the ‘shrooms and green tea together, the risk was even lower!

      Eggs — Gone are the days that eggs are getting a bad rap, especially the yolks. The nutrient choline, which is abundant in egg yolks, maybe have a role in preventing breast cancer, according to a report found in the journal Breast Cancer Research. The choline, coupled with an eggs other essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, make this a powerful ally, says Hartley.

      Other sources: FoodForBreastCancer.comEatingWell.comABC News

      You’ve Got No More Excuses to Skip the Weight Room Because Strength Training is Trendy

      You’ve Got No More Excuses to Skip the Weight Room Because Strength Training is Trendy

      Why do we need a top trends list to remind us how important strength training is? That seems to be the case as not enough of us are doing it, but we’ll take whatever it is that gets people in the weight room!

      weight room

      In their annual report of fitness trend predictions, the ACSM names both body weight training and strength training as popular workouts for 2015. So if you’re part of the 17.5% of women who currently strength train — great job, keep it up!

      If you’re part of the overwhelming majority of women who don’t — then it’s time to get lifting. This is not about bulking. This is not about looking ripped. It’s certainly not about stacking your feminine frame with big, bulging man muscles. It’s about overall wellness and health!

      “[Strength training is] not about fitness or being buff, it’s not about that anymore. In fact, that’s the last reason to do it,” said Holly Perkins recently at The renowned strength and conditioning expert, who is set to launch her Women’s Strength Nation in early 2015, echoed lists found across leading health organizations that suggest vast benefits that are derived from strength training. Breast cancer survivors are aided in their recovery when a strength regimen is introduced. Confidence, self-esteem, and empowerment come from lifting weights. Women experience more stamina, greater flexibility, and more functional movement. And those who strength train regularly (which the CDC says is two days per week) experience an optimized shift in hormones; management or prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke; and a host of other health benefits.

      The question isn’t so much “Do you lift?” so much as it is “Why don’t you lift?”.

      How exactly do you get started? There in lies one of the greatest barriers of entry in strength training, especially for women. The weight room, with its free weights, machines, and men, is an impossibly intimidating place for women. No different than the first time you went to yoga, went for a run, or tried a Zumba class, all it takes is that one breath of confidence to move forward. 

      If you truly are new, or haven’t hit the weights in some time, the best thing for you to do is work with a trainer. They’ll teach you how to use the machines and the weights, and in a circuit that’s meaningful, so that you can return regularly with confidence. This will ensure you prevent injury, but also give you the education you need to manage the workouts on your own.

      However, the great part about strength training is that it doesn’t all have to come from a gym’s weight room. The number one trend from the ACSM this year is body weight training, and it provides the same strength benefits without the props.

      “Body weight training uses minimal equipment making it more affordable. [It’s] not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, [and] this trend allows people to get ‘back to the basics’ with fitness,” reported the ACSM.

      It’s more affordable, and more accessible, too! Because body weight training doesn’t specifically require machines or weights the way traditional strength training does, you can effectively do it anywhere. The monkey bars at the park – done. Squats, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups, wall sits — all considered body weight training exercises that require nothing but your body and the space to do it. 

      “Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders,” declared the ACSM. A well-rounded fitness regimen that you’re going to reap the most benefit from includes cardio (or aerobic) exercise as much as it does strength. Together, your body gets all of the functional movement and beneficial stress it needs.

      The CDC recommends that American adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities. 

      In crowd or not, trendy or not, strength training is getting some overdue attention this year. Be sure to listen!

      12 New Workouts You've Gotta Try in 2015

      12 New Workouts You've Gotta Try in 2015

      What’s going to make you sweat this year? It’s sure to be your dependable workout, the one you know works for you. It’s great to have that! But what about those days when you aren’t feeling it? If you reach a point where the same ‘ole feels uninspired, we’ve got the fix. That’s what makes fitness so exciting…the infinite ways you can pursue it! Make a note of these 12 exciting, interesting, anything-but-usual workouts. Not only will they re-awaken your interest in being there, but you could find a whole new love affair you didn’t know you were missing!

      workouts to try

      POUND. It’s being called a “liberating” new workout experience, a group fitness class that has you moving, grooving, and banging around on drumsticks. The club-like group class involves high energy music, free spirit movements, and a focus on strength. You can pound on your own at home with their forthcoming DVD, or take classes at 30+ locations in the U.S. and Canada.

      ROWING. You see the machine, we know you do. Now stop ignoring it! If Francis Underwood on House of Cards can make it look good, we know you can make it look better! This intense total body workout gives you everything, working the legs, core, arms, shoulders, and more with each fluid motion, all the while your rate stays elevated. It’s strength and cardio in one.

      STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING. Known in its inner circles as SUP, this relatively new sport is a thrill. You’ll need access to a body of water — think hot tourist spots near lakes and oceans — and a little bit of patience. It’s surprising how quickly you can take to this core-engaging sport, and much you’ll love the feel, the view, and the power you feel once you’re up.

      HORSEBACK RIDING. Seriously, horseback riding is a legitimate sport and it can provide a legitimate workout. Whether you’re trying to keep a weekend or vacation active, or just wanting to mix things up in your daily routine, a trip to the farm will do your whole body good. It’s way more than just sitting, as you will work your core, balance, legs, thighs, and arms.

      BARRE. Hit the barre, and then maybe you can hit that bar, too! There are a number of ways to explore this ballet-inspired workout. BeyondBarre is intense with a cardio, fat-burning approach. Barre3 feels a bit like yoga meets Pilates. Booty Barre introduces resistance with a focus on toning the rear. Cardio Barre uses light weights for a touch of strength training. So look around, there’s a barre that suits your needs.

      MEDITATION. You may not being doing much physically, but the silence and stillness of focusing your mind can reap healthful repercussions head to toe, body and soul. Check out of the grind of your usual workouts and use a meditation practice to re-focus, re-center, re-balance.

      HIIT. You’re going to see a lot about high intensity interval training this year, and you should definitely join the crowd. Especially for the time-crunched, these fast-blast, 30-minute or less sessions can truly be done anywhere and will give you a total body workout you can feel.

      ORANGETHEORY. Interval and strength training combine in this workout some are calling the best in the country! Studio locations are available across the U.S., giving you a trainer-guided, one-hour workout that takes you through treadmills, rowing, and weights. It’s total body strength + cardio that won’t let you down.

      SWIMMING. Trade your gym shorts for swim bottoms and take your workout to the water. Your options are truly limitless, but not effortless. Whether mixing it up, recovering from an injury, or trying to stay cool, a workout in the pool can provide strength, cardio, and conditioning for upper and lower body. New offerings include aquatic yoga, spinning, and zumba. You can even take your Enell in a non-chlorine environment.

      SKATING. Take it old school and do your workout on wheels. Take the kids to a roller rink or strap-on your old skates and make a few laps around the park. Or blast back to the 90s on a pair of roller blades. Regardless, Harvard says you’re burning nearly as many calories as you would on your usual run! Ice skating counts in that math, too! This sport makes it easy to remember a workout can be fun.

      PLAYING That’s right, just go play. Your kids shouldn’t have all the fun at the playground, and you can get some functional fitness out of the quality time spent with them. Body weight training can be done by pulling up on the monkey bars. Cardio is an easy gain when you’re chasing them around. Glutes and legs enjoy the climbing exercises. And pushing them on the swings (or pumping your own legs) takes care of your upper body. So go have fun!

      CYCLING. Get back on your bike and go for a ride (or several) this year. Especially for runners, cycling is an excellent way to cross train. If you’re not too big on working out at all, it’s an excellent way to get in some activity. Everyone who cycles torches calories, enjoys total body toning, boosts their energy, and so many more benefits. Just don’t ride without the right gear!

      Are you trying any of these this year?

      HIIT 2015 Hard with the "It" Workout of the Year

      HIIT 2015 Hard with the "It" Workout of the Year

      Just before the new year, the ACSM published its annual list of fitness trend predictions. The list itself was rather predictable, citing yoga, exercise for weight loss, and group training amongst some of the “rising” trends in 2015. But the one item that really stuck out as having some weight was HIIT training.


      High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT as it is more commonly referred to, should be the second most popular fitness trend of the year. It was a big deal a few years back, and apparently it’s going to see a resurgence.

      What is it exactly? The ACSM describes HIIT as “short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.”

      That’s what makes HIIT so desirable — that 30 minute timeframe. It’s hard to include time in a list of workout excuses when it only requires 30 minutes. HIIT requires less time, but demands more of you during that time. You blast through circuits with little to no rest between moves or machines. It’s also a total body workout; because you never stop moving, and you’re doing strength training and not solely focused on strength or cardio exercises, you get the best of both worlds in one quick, tidy (very sweaty) session.

      Making time for an hour or longer at the gym, and managing a schedule of cardio versus strength sessions, can be cumbersome at best. With HIIT workouts, you get it all squared away at once. Whose jam-packed, always-busy schedule couldn’t use that? HIIT really is the schedule relief we’ve all needed at the gym.

      Or not at the gym, for that matter. Another great benefit of HIIT workouts is that it doesn’t require that you be in any one place. At home, the park, the gym, a hotel room… it honestly doesn’t matter. As long as you can dedicate that half hour to just getting the job done, then HIIT goes anywhere you do. That means you don’t have to just sit at your kid’s soccer practice or sack out on the couch during a Gilmore Girls marathon… you can use that time and that space to complete a legitimate, meaningful workout.

      A lot of resources exist for getting your HIIT on! Everything from gym classes to books, DVDs, and more are available. These are often free or cheap (eliminating the cost excuse!).

      Jessica Smith’s 2012 book Thin In 10 is one example. The resourceful book, co-authored by Liz Neporent, is hinged on HIIT principles and introduces those throughout its approachable fitness instruction. One of Jessica’s HIIT workouts includes a five-minute warm-up, something as simple as marching in place. You’ll do a series of exercises, and in each set you go all in with maximum effort for about 20-30 minutes, with active rest between moves. Lateral burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knee marches, and squats are some of the moves you’ll do over two or three sets.

      No equipment, no trainer, no certain place to be, and no brainer… HIIT workouts just make sense. Women’s Health Magazine likens HIIT training to a nice BOGO deal, combining cardio and strength training in to one fast-blast workout.

      What Your Personal Trainer Won't Tell You

      What Your Personal Trainer Won't Tell You

      She’s the woman you love to hate the most, but she’s also the one pushing you harder than anyone else toward that goal. The relationship with a personal trainer is a unique and special one, and clients either soar or break under their tutelage. For every tidbit of insight and encouragement your trainer offers you, there’s something she’s holding back.

      personal trainer

      Pamela Hernandez, a certified personal trainer and health coach, recently published a really insightful piece on her blog at ThriveFit. She is regularly faced with clients who complain, “You make it look so easy!” She usually says “Because I’ve had more practice.” What she wants to say but leaves out to those bewildered clients, “I have to make it look easy so you don’t start doubting my ability or yours.” She plans workouts in advance and tries new stuff several times on herself until she’s got it and trusts that she can properly show you. You’ll get it too…with practice!

      We talked with a few trainers who keep a few things to themselves during those sweat sessions. Whether to maintain the relationship, your respect of their position, a level of professionalism, or to not insult, offend, or scare you away, these personal trainers know when to keep their mouths shut!

      “I think I am going to give the high protein diet a try,” said one of Valerie Orsoni’s clients to her. A wellness expert and founder of LeBootcamp, Valerie says she knew what the outcome would be for her client, recognizing that rapid weight loss with an equal or better regain were in the cards.

      “I had already told her several times not to,” recounts Valerie, who this time didn’t say a word. “I let her do it for ten days, and then we looked at the situation and she realized, had I said something at first, she might have wanted to ‘win the fight’ and might have done it on a longer period of time.”

      Lauren Martin, a NESTA personal trainer, will never lie about your progress just to make you feel better. If you ask and she answers, know it’s the honest truth, even if you don’t want to hear it. She’ll also never compare you to another client. Like most trainers, Martin believes in positive reinforcement; and she’s certainly not going to downplay another client’s efforts to boost yours (or talk yours down to someone else).

      “Shut up. You’re wrong,” is bubbling just under the surface for Byron E. Hall, III, a district fitness manager for Portland Sport and Spa who holds a half dozen varied national fitness certifications. He’d never tell you that you need to remember that your trainer is “untangling years of bad information and habits in order to help you work smarter not harder, and we only have a few hours a week to do so.” So listen up. You’re paying him and trainers like him good money to get their expertise. You wouldn’t second guess your cardiothoracic surgeon based on what you scraped together from a few health talk shows, so don’t second guess your trainer based on an infographic from a fitness mag site.

      His other dirty secret? “We eat like [garbage], too!” Yep it’s true. He may have told you to skip the dressing-soaked Caesar, but he did it with a burger and fries on his breath. “We just know that our usual healthy eating habits and consistent workout routines will easily offset that massively calorie dense lunch, and we’re pretty sure that’s the last thing you wanna hear!,” he said.

      Pamela is right there with him, owning up to enjoying homemade ice cream on her birthday![insert shock and horror!!] “A client made a comment about how on my birthday I probably celebrated with hummus and vegetables.” Yeah right! Ice cream fits in with the 80/20 rule she lives by and prescribes to her clients. “I practice what I preach because it makes me feel good.”

      Is Your Job Big Enough for a Sports Bra?

      Is Your Job Big Enough for a Sports Bra?

      When you’re a busty D-cup running sprints and intervals to train for the US Olympic Bobsled Team, the last thing you need is one more thing slowing you down. And for Alexandra Allred, it wasn’t just one, but two things slowing her down. She was one of those poor souls who doubled-down on sports bras. Since her time on the 1994 US Olympic team, she’s discovered Enell, ditched the second set of spandex, and now works as an adventure writer.

      alexandra allred harbor


      She lives in her Enell, something that gives her the support she needs to get through the work day. Test driving a Volvo Gravity Car, doing a back flip over the Sydney Harbor, or playing women’s professional football, these are all places Alexandra has reported to for work, and all instances where the right sports bra has made it easier to do her job. We never would have considered a career as tame as writing to necessitate serious sports gear for the ladies, but Alexandra has taught us a lesson.

      mud race

      And that is…Never underestimate what a woman will put herself through on the job, and never underestimate how a sports bra can be a vital part of the uniform!

      Meet a few more hard working women who never clock-in without locking things down:

      Firefighter — There are roughly 5,000 women working as firefighters in the US. Racing to the truck, climbing ladders, diving in to extreme situations are just a few of the ways these brave women use their bodies every day. A bouncy chest can slow you down when seconds count, but something more than an everyday bra provides the support needed to focus on more important matters.

      Police Officer — Another group of brave women tasked with protecting and serving, but what’s protecting their bosom when the job really gets tough? Women in law enforcement should be wearing a sports bra under their uniforms to give them the support and comfort they need, free of typical bra distractions.

      Construction Worker — Lifting, climbing, digging, hammering, there’s very little a female construction worker isn’t doing with her body during these intense work days. Don’t let a loose bra, too much bounce, or slipper straps get in the way from getting the job done.

      Farmer — There’s nothing glamorous about life on the farm, even if you’re a woman digging in to the dirty work. Moving hay or bags of feed, shoveling manure, and herding animals are just a few of the laborious tasks awaiting farmers. As Terri Jay, a horsewoman, pointed out, this is one job tough enough for a sports bra.

      Horsewomen/Equestrian — Jay was quick to remind that horsewomen, or professional equestrians, heavily rely on sports bras to protect against the jostle of the ride. She says a sports bra is all she wears now, and these well-fitted bras save her and fellow riders from the pain and distraction of the ride. She’s also free from managing bra straps that may slide down her shoulders.

      HVAC — In her day-to-day work as an AC lab test technician, Aimee Tabor wears a sports bra every day. It provides the support she needs to “lift overhead, squat, crawl under/over equipment, and hold my body at odd angles to get to tight spots,” she explained. The bra gives her the compression and security she needs to keep her breasts out of the way.

      Chefs — The hustle and bustle of a kitchen at high noon or dinner time is no joke. Any chef worth her salt is hardly standing still, whether chopping, stirring, baking, or plating. Don’t let a couple of bouncy melons slow you down, suit up in a sports bra before putting on the white coat to reduce unnecessary distractions during your busy day.

      Mail Delivery — Whether driving for one of the big package companies or delivering mail door to door, these women put their bodies through the paces every day. UPS told us their drivers walk 3.5 miles per day, not to mention the lifting, reaching, climbing stairs, and bounce from the road their breasts endure. The extra support and comfort they need comes from wearing a sports bra under their uniform every day.

      Nurses / Hospital Staff — Jillian Thien, RN, a floor nurse in an orthopedic unit, says wearing a sports bra to work makes her “feel extra athletic moving all those joint replacement patients around!” She explained that she generally prefers to wear a sports bra to work, and feels more comfortable on the days when she does. Brittany Hudson has a labor-intensive job as a hospital account liason and relies on the extra support of a sports bra every day. “I move very fast through hospitals and clinics…and have to stock closets and haul heavy medical equipment,” she explained.

      Military Personnel — These most selfless women should take a moment to do something truly selfish, and that is put their bosom first! There’s rarely a slow day at the office when you’re tasked with defending a nation. So let a bra like Enell be your first line of defense in support and protecting your chest.

      PE Teacher — Whether it’s basketball, dodgeball, jump rope, or classic tag, leading a PE class will keep a teacher on her toes, and her breasts going this way and that! Just as a personal trainer wouldn’t go to the gym without a sports bra, you shouldn’t either.

      Pregnant Women — Pregnancy may very well be the most important temporary job you’ll ever had! Ingrid Von Burg, a yoga instructor, advises her prenatal clients to suit up in a sports bra. “I find it super useful to wear a sports bra while pregnant since the chest grows and feels heavy,” she said. This can be especially key for those women in desk jobs; the more support and comfort you have up front, the more likely you are to have better posture. Ultimately saving you from back pain, improving core strength, and avoiding that “exhausted chest” feeling at the end of the day.

      Do you wear your sports bra for work?

      Does the Math Add Up on Popular Wellness Recommendations?

      Does the Math Add Up on Popular Wellness Recommendations?

      Take two of these and call me in the morning is the most infamous prescription line. It’s hardly the only wellness recommendation we know by heart, but do we actually know where any of them come from? From 8 hours of sleep per night to 8 glasses of water each day, “they” are always telling us the numbers by which we can live a healthy life.


      Would you be surprised to learn that some of them are baseless? We looked in to some of the most popular number-based recommendations to learn which are making short cuts and which are overselling themselves. Maybe you’ll feel a little less pressure from now on.

      8 glasses of water per day

      Eight 8-oz. glasses of water is what we’re supposed to drink every day, or so we’ve been told. The Mayo Clinic affirms the recommendation holds because the “8×8” rule is easy to remember. But it’s actually not quite enough! Those 64 ounces are equivalent to 1.9 liters. The Institute of Medicine says men need 3 liters and women need 2.2 liters. So drink up! The good news is “all fluids count toward the daily total,” says Mayo. Water, hot or iced tea, a sports drink, juice, or even a beer count toward your fluid intake. Intense exercisers and breastfeeding moms are just a couple examples of people who likely need even more than the  basic recommendation.

      10,000 steps per day

      This distance is about five miles, or the amount “they” say we’re supposed to walk every day. There’s no specific science or research to back it up. When used against the CDC’s fitness recommendations, they have Americans hitting about 7,500 steps per day. But given how sedentary most Americans are, it’s best that we encourage people to walk as much as they are willing to do. The average American walks just under 6,000 steps every day, so anything you’re walking beyond that is good for your overall health.

      10 pounds gained during the holidays

      That dreaded holiday weight gain that everyone makes such a big deal about? It’s really just about one pound. Yep, just one, according to Dr. Tom Rifai, Reality Meets Science LLC co-founder & Harvard Lifestyle Medicine course director for Nutrition & The Metabolic Syndrome. We recently spoke to him about what happens to our bodies when we overeat and he surmised that while a one- or two-pound gain during the holiday season isn’t that bad, it’s that “we never get rid of it.” Add up a couple of extra pounds year over year and you’ve got a problem.

      60 minutes a day of exercise

      An hour of physical activity everyday? Seems impossible sometimes but certainly not ridiculous. Well, if it feels like too much you’re in luck. The CDC recommends for American adults that we get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. That’s 21 minutes a day, or 30 minutes most days of the week. Plus we need two days’ worth of muscle-strengthening exercises. Kind of like walking 10,000 steps everyday, just as long as you’re doing something it counts! Even the CDC recommends taking it 10 minutes at a time!

      2,000 calories per day

      Apparently this number came about as a short-cut the FDA made to keep food labels short and concise. According to this article by Marion Nestle, an esteemed and respected nutrition professor, author, and all-around expert, 2,350 calories was the more sensible total but it seemed too complicated to put on a label. Anyone worth their low-sodium salt knows that there is no one-size-fits-all calorie prescription. Based on your gender, age, weight, height, and other factors (like menopause and breastfeeding), your calorie needs will vary. A BMR or calorie calculator is your best bet to determine individual needs.

      8 hours of sleep

      Does early bed, early to rise really make you healthy, wealthy, and wise? We aren’t sure what sleep will do for your finances, but we know for certain that adequate sleep is imperative to overall wellness, not to mention the mental acuity to make you wise. The eight hour rule rings true, as the CDC recommends adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The CDC and some research support that there is no magic number though, and much like calorie intake, every body is different and yours may need more or less hours of sleep.

      Do any of these surprise you?


      What Really Happens to Your Body When You Overeat During the Holidays

      What Really Happens to Your Body When You Overeat During the Holidays

      You polished off a second full plate of holiday food, maybe even snuck one more bite of baked mac ‘n cheese. You followed that with a sampler plate of the desserts . And you’ve done your share to deplete the wine supply. The effects are painfully obvious — heartburn, physical discomfort, bloat, maybe even a headache or some nausea. This is overeating at its finest, and nothing brings out the binger in all of us like a holiday meal.


      But what’s actually happening to our bodies when we over-fill a stomach that wasn’t made to hold much more than a liter of food? It’s everything already described and as much as “holiday heart,” a very real health phenomenon that can lead to death.

      Dr. Tom Rifai, Reality Meets Science LLC co-founder & Harvard Lifestyle Medicine course director for Nutrition & The Metabolic Syndrome, walked us through what the body faces when it’s suddenly forced to process several thousand calories of breads, turkey, pies, and casseroles. He best explains this nutrient by nutrient.


      Love or loathe, carbohydrates are an essential nutrient when they come in the form of fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains. We love our refined, liquid sugar, and refined “white” starch sources of carbs though — the white bread, crackers, cookies, and pasta — and Dr. Rifai says that’s where much of our excess holiday calories come from. When we consume a significant amount of these “bad” refined carbs in a sudden instance, Dr. Rifai describes the stress the body undergoes.

      • The body has a significant increase in blood sugar.
      • Insulin’s job is to keep the blood sugar regulated at normal levels, but for non- or pre-diabetic people who are generally inactive or aren’t being active after a meal, an exaggerated insulin surge can occur, then blood sugar may excessively drop.
      • The body immediately spikes into a high insulin state.
      • This increases the blood pressure.
      • For pre-diabetics and diabetics who don’t make enough insulin, the blood sugar can’t be controlled, and rises significantly putting major stress on the eyes, kidneys and nerves. This can also spike blood and vascular pressure, as well as possible respiratory and joint inflammation.


      Now, according to Dr. Rifai, high insulin levels have turned off the body’s fat burning abilities and is storing those fat calories as body fat instead of burning them. The carbs are not being burned very much either; in fact they are also being converted and stored as fat once our body’s limited capacity to store carbohydrates has been saturated. Worse? When carbs convert to fat, much gets converted to saturated fat. You’re both eating and producing saturated fat.

      • The saturated fat being out of balance increases cholesterol.
      • “While the liver would ideally be making and removing cholesterol in balance, the presence of high blood levels of saturated fat impairs this action leading to high blood levels of cholesterol carrying (LDL) particles, which then burrow their way into our artery walls causing plaques and artery inflammation to occur,” said Dr. Rifai.

      What you’ve created within your own body is a “weapon of mass dietary destruction for the sedentary person,” Dr. Rifai grimly described. That WMD is the result of heavy carb + heavy fat + heavy sodium consumption (mostly in the processed foods, not sprinkled on food). He reminded how those concentrated amounts of salt, sugar, starch, and fats act like cocaine on the brain.


      Turning now to how the body processes protein, and Dr. Rifai says many of us are simply not consuming enough (when you hold yourself to the RDA of 46 grams/day for women). He also says, “We don’t eat protein in an optimal way, which should be spread out throughout the day.” Protein doesn’t store in our bodies for future use the same way fat and carbs do. It’s a quickly utilized nutrient, making it ideal for post-workout recovery. And even if the body wanted to store some away, we’ve already stored so much excess carbs that our body is out of room. “So while some of the extra protein in the over-fed state may get converted into muscle, without exercise the quality of that muscle is in question, and much of the rest likely simply gets converted into body fat – and we know the damages of that,” described Dr. Rifai.

      When we do eat protein throughout the day it may help stop or slow muscle loss and improve our feelings of satiety or fullness and energy, versus when we try to cram it all in at one meal. Dr. Rifai strongly urges not to skip eating breakfast and small snacks during the day ahead of a big holiday evening meal (or late eating event). You’ll end up overeating more than what you skipped, since you’ll be hungry and low on willpower. Plus, he cautions that a continued pattern of meal skipping followed by big eating results in a depletion of muscle mass in exchange for added body fat. No, it’s not a concern at just one meal, but it’s the legacy effect and ongoing history of this behavior that has detrimental muscle sapping effects.


      Finally, after bombarding your body with fat, carbs, salt, sugar, and alcohol, your body has a pretty serious way of waving its red flag. “Hospitals staff up their ERs for the statistical likelihood they will get a glut of people the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas,” explained Dr. Rifai. All of that excess leads to:

      • Fluid retention,
      • Which leads to a heart arrhythmia that can trigger atrial fibrillation in the heart.
      • It can also cause a plaque to rupture in a heart artery and then a clot forms around a ruptured plaque, which is what causes most heart attacks and strokes. 

      This is the exact scenario that killed James Gandolfini, right after a heavy meal of fatty and fried meats and alcohol in Italy.

      Dr. Rifai isn’t trying to scare anyone, only to paint a real picture of what’s occurring inside your body when you get more than your fill at the holiday table.

      “Have fun, have your indulgences, just be a better accountant. Pick one thing you really want. When the holiday is over, get rid of the extras. Let’s face it, pie isn’t really food,” recommends Dr. Rifai. Then, he says, there’s no guilt.


      The Fall Food and Fitness Bucket List

      The Fall Food and Fitness Bucket List

      I can’t believe it’s already November! was no doubt whispered by most of us recently. Time really does slip through our fingers faster than we can keep up, which means we can all too easily miss our chance to enjoy those seasonal delights we wait for all year. Make yourself a fall bucket list — we’ve included a few things to get you started — to help prioritize the things that mean the most to you this time of year. Remember to keep those bodies moving, even the fun stuff is an excuse to do something good for you!

      fall bucket list

      Rake the leaves. No joke, this is a serious sweat session. Struggling to fit in a workout and the yard work? Two birds, one stone right here! Save this for arms day and enjoy a roughly 300 calorie burn. Plus, the big pile at the end makes for some great fun and photo opps with the family.

      Sip some cider. Go for the unfiltered, unpasteurized sibling of apple juice and enjoy an earthier, bigger flavor. On a nutrition label, the difference between cider and juice is negligible. So if you’re going to spring for this sweet treat of empty calories, go with the one that’s truer to the whole apple.

      Do a turkey trotThese races happen every weekend through Thanksgiving and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be a part of at least one! Whether it’s a 1 mile fun run, 5K or longer distance, don’t let yourself fall in to the fall fitness slump. It’s not that cold outside…yet.

      Sweat indoors. When it is too chilly to workout outside, try one of those studio classes you’ve heard about. PiYo — Pilates + Yoga — is all the rage and gives your body a serious burn. POUND is totally fun but a serious workout, too. Rock climbing walls will have you stronger by spring. And of course there’s always spin, barre, Zumba, and swimming if the classics are more your speed.

      Eat pumpkin! You can’t hide from the most popular flavor of the season, just make sure it’s real pumpkin when you do indulge. The fake flavor in most treats is just garbage, but real pumpkin has a host of vitamins and minerals. Add pure pumpkin puree to oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt cups, pasta sauce, soup, chili, muffins, and more!

      Eat from a mug. There is just something super cozy about enjoying a cup of soup, chili, or stew from a coffee mug instead of a bowl. Lighten a go-to stew recipe with pork tenderloin instead of beef tips, and cut the fat out of chili with ground turkey instead of ground beef. Whatever you’re making, stock it full of hearty veggies to feel full and satisfied.

      Take a hike. Before the real winter temps move in, dress in layers, pack a light picnic, and head for the nearest trail, hill, or mountain. You’ll knockout your cardio for the day, not to mention take in some spectacular views of the colorful scenery.

      Bake all day. Whether it’s pies, cookies, breads, or other treats, pile in to the kitchen — solo or with your favorite crew — and whip up all of those goodies you’re craving. An indulgence once in a while is totally OK, especially if you plan to share the treats with a local nursing home, homeless shelter, or other place where your generosity won’t go unnoticed.

      Give back. The season of giving is upon us, so consider giving of your time and put your back in to it! Rake an elderly neighbor’s yard, deliver firewood, help winterize a school playground, deliver or prepare warm meals, or pick up a shift at the food bank during their busiest time.

      Resolve to resolve now. Beat the rush and start your resolution now! Why wait two more months when you could have two months of progress under your belt by the time everyone else is starting. What a powerfully motivating way to start the new year.


      Never Too Late

      Never Too Late

      Guest Post by ENELL Ambassador Allison Elliott-Shannon:

      “Allison sucks! Allison sucks!”

      That was pretty much the soundtrack to gym class for me, grades 1-8. In first and second grades I hid from the teacher because I thought jumping jacks were boring. Third grade was the high point of my P.E. career, as we learned the Virginia Reel year and I played on a competitive tee ball team; but I quit tee ball the next year when I found myself the only girl on the team, and was subject to much spitting and stomping of my hands by my teammates. That was the beginning of the downhill slide, and by fourth grade I was living in fear of being picked last for kickball /dodgeball/basketball/softball teams (which happened often).

      Having a sadistic gym teacher, who encouraged kids to bully one another to toughen up the weaklings, didn’t help. By middle school, I would do practically anything to get out of running laps or having to serve in volleyball.

      I had a brief flirtation with badminton, but otherwise I was solidly Not Athletic. My peers thought so, my gym teachers thought so, and I agreed. Add to my general dislike of sports that I was on the short side, with stubby legs and zero upper body strength, and it’s small surprise that my high school varsity letter was from the Academic Team.

      With that background, it’s surprising that at the age of 35 I put hundreds of miles a year on my running shoes. I started running at 33, when my then-fiancé encouraged me to join him on the road. He told me he wanted a running partner, and perhaps I was swayed out of my right mind by love and our upcoming nuptials; I agreed to start training.

      It was slow going at first. I would run to the end of the block then come to a halt, gasping for air. Slowly that block became two blocks, then a quarter of a mile, and so on until I reached a mile, then two miles, then 3.1. Over time, 3.1 stretched out into five, at which point I decided to start working on speed rather than distance. I can now do a heart-pounding 5k in a time that probably beats anything I could do as a thin-but-out-of-shape 20 year old. I ‘m not super fast for a runner, but I’m fast for me.

      Running has been a physical challenge, yes, but even more of a mental one. I have learned things about myself: that I’m more motivated by positive rewards than by punishment, that I can go longer if I don’t know how far I’m really going, and that feeling mentally defeated is worse for me than any fatigue of the body. I have also learned, by talking to more experienced runners (including my fellow ENELL Ambassadors) that every runner has a voice in their head constantly telling them to quit; the secret of running is to say “I will do it” to your brain in an authoritative tone.


      Finally, I’ve learned that running is about working with what you have in terms of your body. I don’t have long legs, my feet underpronate, and my bosom requires industrial-strength support. I look like nobody’s idea of a runner.  But through running, I’ve found a new confidence in my body. I’ve learned that the road is a judgment-free zone, where it’s just me and my heart rate (and often my husband, who slows down his speedy pace to stay with me). On the road there are no taunting peers, no cruel gym teachers, and no boys trying to spit on me. I’ve learned to take pride in my muscled legs. When the pedicurist looks at my broken-off toenails and asks “What happened?” I’m proud to say “I’m a runner.” My body is imperfect, but I’m making it stronger through using it to meet my goals.

      When friends who see my ceaseless flow of social media posts about my latest distances say they are impressed by my running and wish they could do the same, I say with all sincerity “If I can do it, anyone can.” Because it’s true: if the girl who literally ran and hid from gym class can become the women who laces up her shoes and hits the road regularly, there is hope for us all. As the quote popularly attributed to George Eliot says, “It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”

      About Allison Elliott-Shannon: Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest /  Instagram

      allisonAllison Elliott-Shannon became a runner for the first time in her early 30s. Starting with a short run to the end of the block, she built on small successes over the course of about a year, until she completed her first competitive 5k. Now working on moving into the 10k range and improving her speed, she has been a fan of Enell since being introduced to the Enell Sport early on in her running program.

      Allison is a marketing director, writer, and history nerd, and a native of the Kentucky Appalachian Knobs. She now lives in Lexington, Ky., with her husband and stepdaughter. She spends her workdays thinking of ways to help students and faculty engage with a large academic library system. Event planning is part of her day job, and also figures into her volunteer service for the Junior League of Lexington and the historic Bodley-Bullock House in downtown Lexington.

      When she isn’t rambling about the Bluegrass state, Allison enjoys travel further afield. Recent trips have taken her to Charleston, S.C., Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York City. She and her family are big fans of Disney Parks, and she managed to set foot in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland last year. Her current goal is to get back to Europe, to revisit the places she saw while living in London as a college student. She never met a historical marker she didn’t like, and seeks out historical tours of every city she visits.

      Other minor life obsessions for Allison include: retro advertising, vintage jewelry, and the collected works of Jane Austen. Her favorite American novel is All the King’s Men, and she would love to own a vintage Ford Mustang. When procrastinating, she turns to Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and the IKEA catalog for pleasant distraction. She also makes one heck of a pan of brownies.

      Allison runs for her health, to spend time with her husband, and to challenge herself. Someday she will compete during the Disney Princess Half Marathon event.


      5 Tips to Help You Row, Row, Row Your Way to Fitness

      5 Tips to Help You Row, Row, Row Your Way to Fitness

      Guest Post by ENELL Ambassador Jennifer Sader

      Have you noticed how hot rowing has suddenly become? It isn’t as if the rowing machine is a new piece of equipment — most gyms always had one or two, but they would sit dusty and neglected while everyone waited for the treadmill or the elliptical machine.

      What has changed? First off, it was probably time for Spinning to be replaced by something new. As more gyms offer rowing classes, people realize what a great workout rowing offers. Second, Crossfit’s popularity means more people are familiar with the benefits of rowing. Finally, some sources even suggest that Frank Underwood’s basement rowing sessions on House of Cards are responsible for the trend. Whatever the reason, it makes sense to jump in on this fitness fad.

      rowing machine

      Tips for new rowers:

        1. Give it a try! Taking a rowing is a great way to add variety to your fitness routine. It is a low-impact, safe exercise. Even if you think you know how to row, be sure to take a class where the instructor can teach you good form. Proper form is just as important as power. Though you might think rowing is all about arms, rowing is a full-body workout, and the main drive comes from the legs.
        2. Don’t worry if you are a beginner. Though there might be a little friendly competition about who rowed the longest distance or with the most power, the nice thing about stationary equipment is that no one will be left behind. A good instructor will make you feel welcome no matter what your level, and will encourage you to work at your own pace. Because form is so important, you will see improvement quickly if you stick with it.
        3. Wear your ENELL to class. Good support is just as important in a rowing class as it is in running or Spin class. Because your whole body is engaged, your whole body will be moving. You need to bring the rowing handle under your chest, which will be easier if your chest isn’t bouncing all over the place.
        4. Be prepared to sweat. Most gyms will be kept cool so that it is comfortable for exercise, so you might want a light jacket to start out. With workouts burning 400-1000 calories per hour, you will warm up quickly, so wear a tank top or light t-shirt in a moisture-wicking fabric. And be sure to bring a full water bottle and a towel with you.
        5. Have fun! With room-pounding music, class camaraderie, and even a little friendly rivalry, rowing is a great way to get your fit on. Enjoy yourself and keep a smile on your face.

      Have you tried a rowing class yet?

      About Jennifer Sader: Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagramjennifer sader

      Jennifer Sader started training for her first triathlon (Danskin Chicagoland) in the fall of 2001. She was tired of having “lose weight” as her only goal and she decided that she needed something bigger and more inspiring to shoot for. She completed that race in 2002 and has gone on to do dozens of other races, including the Chicago Triathlon in 2004. Though she has continued to battle the scale, injury problems, and a lingering notion that she is not a “real athlete,” she hasn’t lost her love of the sport.

      Jennifer has been blogging since 2006. At “Perfect in Our Imperfections,” she shares her thoughts on trying to lose weight without losing her mind. She shares her training experiences along with recaps of “The Biggest Loser,” book reviews, favorite beauty products and fashion finds.

      Jennifer is a full-time faculty member at a small university. She lives in the Toledo area with her husband and two cats named after Muppets.