Monday, June 28, 2010

Chocolate Is Sexy (And Healthy)

A lady I know says you won't get fat eating chocolate. She has a chocolate store and may have a bias, but I believe there is truth in that statement. I encourage my clients to eat chocolate, even those wanting to lose weight, because I believe it to be an aid in weight loss. Besides tasting good and curbing appetite, check out these benefits of chocolate.

1. Lowers Blood Pressure. Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University recently found that hypertensive people who ate 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day for two weeks saw their blood pressure drop significantly, according to an article in the journal Hypertension. Their bad cholesterol dropped, too.

Antioxidant and Improves Cholesterol. Studies have shown heart benefits from increased blood flow, less platelet stickiness and clotting, and improved bad cholesterol," says Mary B. Engler, Ph.D., a chocolate researcher and director of the Cardiovascular and Genomics Graduate Program at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing. These benefits are the result of cocoa's antioxidant chemicals known as flavonoids, which seem to prevent both cell damage and inflammation.

Improves Skin. German researchers gave 24 women a half-cup of special extra-flavonoid-enriched cocoa every day. After three months, the women's skin was moister, smoother, and less scaly and red when exposed to ultraviolet light. The researchers think the flavonoids, which absorb UV light, help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, improving its appearance.

Improves Brain Power. Preliminary research at West Virginia's Wheeling Jesuit University suggests chocolate may boost your memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. Chocolate companies found comparable gains in similar research on healthy young women and on elderly people.

Mood Enhancer. According to the research of Dr. Stephen Warren, M. D., dark chocolate is loaded with key neurotransmitters like tryptophan, serotonin and dopamine. These nutrient chemicals in cocoa can lower the risk of depression, as well as suppress one's appetite and block the pathway that leads to food cravings. Additionally, phenyl ethylamine (PEA) improves mood, which in turn decreases food cravings. Food addiction is like drug addiction; consequently, cocoa can minimize food cravings and addictions by delivering the right chemicals.

Better Sex. Italian researchers wanted to know whether chocolate truly is an aphrodisiac. In a survey of 143 women published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, those who ate chocolate every day seemed to have more sex drive, better lubrication, and an easier time reaching orgasm.

"Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food. "
Michael Levine, nutrition researcher

Now not just any chocolate will do. I recommend high quality chocolate with a cacao content of 70% or more. I also like to find chocolate that has "whole" sugar in it (i. e. evaporated cane juice, raw cane sugar). My favorite is Green & Black's 85%. They also have a 70%. Theo is another favorite brand. Both are available at Fred Meyer. The Co-op has Equal Exchange and a large variety of other brands if you want to experiment with something new.

"All of the evil that people have thrust upon chocolate is really more deserved by milk chocolate, which is essentially contaminated. The closer you get to a pure chocolate liquor (the chocolate essence ground from roasted cacao beans) the purer it is, the more satisfying it is, the safer it is, and the healthier it is." - Arnold Ismach, The Darker Side of Chocolate

Friday, June 18, 2010

Take a HIIT or "What is a Boot Camp?"

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere."
-Frank A. Clark
At Fitmania we have been pushing Boot Camps. I can't speak for all programs but let me tell you what they are and why they are so good at Fitmania.

First, a little about HIIT or high intensity interval training. A HIIT session consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by six to ten repetitions of high intensity exercise, separated by medium intensity exercise or rest, and ending with a period of cool down exercise. The high intensity exercise should be done at near maximum intensity. There are a lot of approaches to HIIT, including Tabatas and what is sometimes called the Little Method. A typical HIIT session would not be longer than 20 minutes. HIIT is much more effective than an hour of cardio because it increases metabolism and burns fat faster. It also increases both anaerobic and aerobic thresholds, which makes it the rare workout protocol for both sprinters and endurance athletes.

Another kind of exercise is resistance training (weight training) which builds muscle and also increases metabolism, burns fat and increases strength. Body core and balance exercises are a critical part of this training.

Our Boot Camps use strength training to create a HIIT workout so you get the benefits of both at the same time. Three workouts a week for less than an hour, including a warm up and stretching, gets maximum benefits. This is why I often say it is the most amount of fitness for your time.

Additional facts about our Boot Camps:

  • You will learn exercises you can do anywhere
  • Every workout is a little different and never boring
  • Workouts are held outside if at all possible
  • The sessions are three weeks and then one week off
  • We have 6:15 am, 9:00am and 6:00pm. While you are enrolled you can attend whatever times you want and as often as you want
  • While enrolled you have free use of Fitmania's gym
  • While enrolled you are encouraged to attend the stretching/yoga class which is free to you
  • All Boot Camps are for men and women
  • Each workout you attend enters you to win a free 7 day cruise
  • Because chocolate can be a health food we have chocolate tasting the last day of each session
  • Each three week session is only $99
New sessions starting:
  • 9:00 am Monday the 21st
  • 6:00 pm Monday July 5th
  • 6:15 am Monday July 12th
For more on HIIT see
For more on metabolism see
For more on the benefits of muscle see
"Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow."
-Mary Anne Radmacher