Archive for December, 2011

Free breakfast helps learning?

According to The Kansas City Star, kids’ grades, behaviors and attendance levels have improved since the start of the universal free breakfast program.

Why offer breakfast for free?

Lots of research supports breakfast in the classroom.  The results mostly show that children are less likely to be overweight, have fewer visits to the nurse and have better attendance levels.  The Universal Free Breakfast Program was created to take the stigma away from offering school breakfast only to children of low-income.  The program has been shown to increase the likelihood that kids eat breakfast in the morning, regardless of income.

Why offer free breakfast to employees?

We live busy days, some with long commutes, some with long hours.  The least we can do is fill in breakfast for you.  This way, it’s not necessary to think about where or what to eat in the morning.  Luckily, we offer very nutritious foods here – but eating anything in the morning in a small amount has also been shown to help aid concentration, level of alertness and weight.

What are the downsides of eating breakfast?

There aren’t any (unless your breakfast is a smorgasbord of waffles, donuts, sausages and sugar-laden coffees, which are loaded with empty calories).  Lean proteins, high fibers, healthy fats and complex carbs are the way to go.  Easy and simple: mix an egg with oatmeal and microwave.  Top with berries and mixed nuts.  Enjoy 🙂



Nutrition for Skincare

It is true – what you eat can affect the beauty and glow of your visage…

Foods for a healthy glow

According to EatingWell Magazine’s Associate Nutrition Editor, Kerri-Ann Jennings MS, RD, there are certain foods that are more likely to keep skin healthy — especially during the dry winter season.(1) 

The reason I think Jennings suggests these specific foods and drinks is primarily due to each having a high amount of natural Vitamin C (an important precursor to collagen — keeps the skin firm), and a high amount of flavonoids (compounds found in most plant foods, with a high amount of antioxidants).  Usually, oxidation of the skin is caused by a combination of UV damage, environmental dryness/pollution, smoking, and a highly processed food diet (think high salt, sugar, trans-fatty foods).  Therefore, we want to ingest foods and drinks with a high amount of ANTIoxidants to combat any oxidative stress we accumulate in our bodies.

Eat this list!

  • Grapefruit: the pinker the better
  • Coffee: (without sugar) to receive the full antioxidant benefit
  • Edamame: has isoflavones (a subgroup of flavonoids that act like antioxidants) to protect against sun damage
  • Tea: has catechins (natural antioxidant in plants)
  • Carrots: contain beta-carotene, one of the most potent antioxidants around
  • Tuna/Salmon: have omega-3s, which preserve collagen
  • Broccoli: incredibly high amounts of vitamin C
  • Spinach: lots of “lutein” one of the carotenoids, also protects against oxidation
  • Cocoa: epicatechin (a flavonoid) has been found to improve blood flow to the skin

(1) 9 Winter Foods for Beautiful Skin

Creative Salad Ideas

I made some healthy creative salads this week and loved every ounce!  I’d like to share…

The Brusselsprouticus

Instead of using loose greens as a base, I chopped up cruciferous veggies.  This could work well with broccoli or endive, too.  This salad is all vegetarian and the ingredients are as follows:

  • 5 large Brussels sprouts, chopped
  • 7 florets Cauliflower, chopped
  • ¼ Red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup Tabouli salad (bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumber and basil)
  • ½ cup Cottage cheese, low-fat and unsalted
  • 4 tbsps Pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsps Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • Mrs Dash original spice, to taste

Directions: mix ingredients all together, recognizing that it tastes better than it looks 🙂

Add-ons:  The Brusselsprouticus was tasty but needed some sliced almonds or walnuts.  For extra sweetness, I also suggest golden raisins.

Total calorie content: 470 calories

The Salmonator (I’m…a…giant…dork)

Looking for some extra omega-3’s?  Here’s your answer.  This salad is for pescatarians and the ingredients are as follows:

  • 1 can, Wild Alaskan salmon (canned in water)
  • 2 tbsps canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp wasabi
  • 3 tbsp red onions, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • Optional: mush it all together and stick it into a whole wheat wrap

Directions: mix ingredients all together, or place into a wrap.

Total calorie content: 312 calories


Caffeine: The Athletic Boost

Good news for Joe-drinkers — if you like your morning coffee and tea, recent research suggests there are benefits not just for athletes but also for the regular fitness crowd.

Preliminary research

Tara Parker-Pope (blogger in the NYTimes) has been known to provide synopses on her take of preliminary research in the field of nutrition and fitness.  In this case, her Well Blog about coffee and workouts describes how caffeine can help the everyday gym-goer perform better and longer when in the gym.

The study, conducted at Coventry University in England, was small (13 subjects, resistance trained males).  The goal was to ascertain whether or not having a little caffeine prior to working out could help extend the workout.  The researchers say that, as compared to the placebo, caffeine can help people exercise longer before hitting their wall.  Although they tested individuals 60 minutes before (using around 179 mg), they admit they are still uncertain as to whether or not other timing and dosing is more or less effective — especially to prevent unwanted side effects (think: running to the b-room).

The facts…

The fact of the matter is that using caffeine as a performance enhancement is already (very) well-known for athletes, especially endurance athletes (since they have always been the prime subjects to test on with caffeine).  Although the mechanisms are still not entirely understood, we do know caffeine can…

(1) increase alertness

(2) delay fatigue

(3) slow down the muscle glycogen breakdown – which helps stay out there for longer.

For the general population?

For the average individual, this research has demonstrated there is a significant enhancement with just a little bit of caffeine prior to the workout (we’re talking around 179 mg 60 minutes beforehand).  This is equivalent to a cup and a half of coffee.  Try it out!



Adding Fitness When Busy

It is not impossible to fit in a workout when “uber-busy.”  Let me count the ways…

1. Combine Aerobic & Strength Training: The “two for one” deal is the best way to get the heart-rate up in a short amount of time.  Some examples include:

  • A rowing machine session 
  • Bike or elliptical with alternating dumb-bell intervals
  • Running for short spurts, then lifting, and back to running (or another cardio exercise)

2. Short Series of Workouts Throughout the Day: Working out does not need to happen all within one session.  Get it all in by adding bouts of exercise when you can.  Some examples include:

  • Walking or running to and/or from work (if closeby)
  • Playing ping pong for 20 minutes and adding in an uphill treadmill walk for 10 minutes
  • Five minute jump-rope, skipping down the hall, one minute fast jumping jacks (2-3x per day)
  • Strength train in two minutes: crunches for 30 seconds, push-ups for 30 seconds, dips for 30 seconds, crunches for 30 seconds)

3. Heavier Weights with Less Reps. Get in a short strength-training session but boost the lift with a heavier weight.  This burns more calories during and post-exercise.

  • Good rule of thumb: if your muscles tire between 8-12 reps then that is a good weight for you (if you can perform more reps than 12 then the weight is too light)
  • Maybe you are able to use a heavier weight for a bench press but a lighter weight for bicep curls (it is trial and error)

The Healthy App Challenge

The U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT just launched “The Healthy App Challenge,” a competition for software developers to create the best free mobile-health application.  Read on to see how it’s applicable to us.

What’s the contest for?

According to Government Health IT (a newsletter that covers topics on “…how government is driving the adoption of information technology in healthcare” [source]) the purpose of this contest is to drive healthy behaviors among Americans — especially for those who do not have access to personal training, healthcare providers and dietitians.

Should we partake?

Since the deadline for submission is December 30th, probably not…  We’re also highly focused on other mobile endeavors at the moment.  But that doesn’t mean we cannot follow the challenge.  Developers are going to focus on many areas that encompass our human capital investments here at Next Jump such as, fitness (adoption/retention), nutrition (healthier practices) and holistic approaches (overall lifestyle, spiritual health).  It could be neat to see how these developers interpret best practices.

Seasonal Flu Shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  reports that 36% of adults have already gotten the flu vaccine — this is months before the virus normally spreads through the season.  Should you get vaccinated?

It’s a good idea… 

According to the CDC, everyone six months of age and up should get the recommended yearly flu vaccine to protect against the flu virus.  After being vaccinated, it takes two weeks for the immune system to fully respond.

According to the CDC’s website on Seasonal Influenza, the 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against three viruses that you may or may not have heard circulating in the news: influenza A (H1N1), (H3N2) and an influenza B virus.

Those who are considered “high risk” have the most liklihood to develop complications.  Those groups are children ( <5 years old, and especially <2 years old), adults (>65 years), pregnant women, those who are already immuno-compromised and have a chronic illness.

Best time to get it?

Right now!  In the fall through right now before the holidays hit is the best time to get protected.

Side-effects from the flu shot?

According to the CDC, soreness in the arm (since the vaccine is given intramuscular) might occur.  Some low-grade fevers, itching and aches may happen as well.   From my own experience with the vaccine, which I take ever year in October, I never get any symptoms afterwards.

Where can I get the flu shot?

Your doctor should be able to administer the vaccine.  If you do not have a regular doctor, there are flu clinics or stores that will provide the vaccine for free.  Check out, and type in your zip code to find a place near you.