All Posts by Kenzie Presnell

The Best Dark Chocolate Bar – Our Favorite

We must have chocolate on the brain.  So, what is the best dark chocolate bar out there?  Since last week's post about the health benefits of dark chocolate, we have received quite a few questions about our favorite dark chocolate bars.  So, today we are going to share our favorites with you.

We understand that many of you might not have a local, gourmet chocolate shop (we certainly don't), so we have included brands that are easy to find at most grocery stores or online.  To make things more interesting, we did a blind taste test (with our kids) to find out which chocolate bar really is the best based on taste.

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Burpee Medley: 12 Variations To Challenge You

Happy Halloween!  Today, we don't have treats, but we do have a killer burpee medley for you.  No tricks here either.  The burpee medley includes twelve burpee variations to take your burpee game up a notch.

Warning.  If you hate burpees, you need to do this workout.  It won't make you hate them any less, but this workout is a great challenge.  The burpees combined with some running make for a killer cardio workout.

No excuses.  You don't need any equipment.  Have you had your hand in the Halloween candy?  Trade that candy for some burpees, and get busy.  Trouble staying away?  Read this.

The Burpee Medley

Make sure you watch the video above with the exercise demos for this workout.  Many of the burpees might be new, or we might use a different term than you are used to.

Please note that this workout is not for beginners.  If you are new to fitness, check out one of our other Wednesday workouts, such as the Anywhere Workout.  If you are not efficient at burpees, I would suggest cutting your reps to 12 on this workout to speed it up. 

REPS = 15

  • .30 Mile Run
  • Burpees
  • Chest to Floor Burpees
  • 2-Count Burpees
  • Broad Jump Burpees
  • .30 Mile Run
  • Double Burpees (2 Push ups)
  • Jump Lunge Burpees
  • Dive Bomber Burpees
  • 8-Count Burpees
  • .30 Mile Run
  • 2-Count Double Burpees
  • Squat Jack Burpees
  • Plyo Burpees
  • Plank Up Down Burpees

Get Going

Don't delay, and definitely don't think about this workout before you start.  If you do, chances are, you aren't going to get started.  I hope that you find this workout challenging but slightly fun (in a scary way).

Get this done before you head out trick-or-treating, or make this your post sugar rush workout.  Either way, you won't regret it.

Happy Halloween!

~KP

6 Surprising Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Oh, the sweet tooth.  I have a strong one.  Last, week, I gave you some tips on ways to keep your hand out of the Halloween candy.  Today, I want to give you an option to eat instead.  Let's talk about dark chocolate.  Note...we are not talking about milk chocolate or Hershey's Special Dark chocolate.  We are talking about high quality chocolate that is made with minimal ingredients.

I haven't always been a fan of the dark stuff.  In fact, many years ago, I found dark chocolate (of all varieties) to be extremely bitter.  However, over the years, I have grown to love what I thought was a bitter taste.  

Just a few squares will do the trick.  In fact, I don't even think it would be possible to eat an entire bar because it is so rich.  Not only will dark chocolate satisfy your sweet tooth with just a few squares, it has some great health benefits associated with it.  

#1 - Antioxidants

The high levels of antioxidants in dark chocolate have contributed to its "superfood" status.  Antioxidants help protect your cells from the effect of free radicals.  Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions in our cells as well as toxins that we are exposed to in our environment.  Many of the benefits of dark chocolate come from its abundance of flavanols, which is a type of polyphenol.

Cacao actually contains some of the highest levels of antioxidants found in any food.  This is even in comparison to foods such as the açaí, pomegranate, cranberry, and blueberry. 

The higher the percentage of cacao in your chocolate, the more antioxidant rich the chocolate is.

#2 - Vitamins and Minerals

Not only is dark chocolate rich in antioxidants, it also contains other vitamins and minerals.  These include iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.  

According to the book, Genius Foods, by Max Lugavere, cacao is one of the richest natural food sources of magnesium.  If you don't know much about magnesium, it is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.  And, many Americans are deficient in magnesium.

Eat some chocolate, and get some vitamins?  Yes, please.

#3 - Healthy Fats

The fatty acid profile of cacao is very good.  In fact, cacao butter is one of the healthiest natural fats in the world.  See, dark chocolate is made up mostly of monounsaturated fats (the fat found in olive oil) and saturated fat.  The saturated fat found in dark chocolate is stearic acid, which is a form of healthy, saturated fat.  It contains very little polyunsaturated fat.

In addition to containing a good fatty acid profile, dark chocolate is low in sugar and stimulates minimal insulin production.  

#4 - Brain Health

Dark chocolate can actually increase blood flow to your brain.  This has been shown to improve cognitive function.  The flavanols in cacao have also been shown to reverse signs of cognitive aging.

Having trouble focusing or just in a bad mood?  Try reaching for a square of dark chocolate. You might get a mood boost from the four psychoactive mood boosting chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine.

#5 - Heart Health

Dark chocolate has actually been shown to improve heart health.  The magnesium and flavanols found in dark chocolate help improve the cardiovascular system by promoting improved vascular function and regulating the heart rate.

One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually found that consuming dark chocolate resulted in decreased blood pressure in healthy individuals.  Cacao also boosts nitric oxide production which is associated with increased vasodilation and improved endothelial function.

#6 - Protect Your Skin

Dark chocolate on your skin?  Well, you don't have to actually put chocolate on your skin.  However, the flavanols in dark chocolate can help protect the skin from UV damage from the sun.  In addition, the flavanols can improve blood flow to the skin.  They can also increase skin density and hydration.  Dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones that break down collagen in the skin.

Beware...not all chocolate is created equal.

It's extremely important to buy quality dark chocolate if you are looking for health benefits.  Buy chocolate that contains at least 75% cacao or higher.  The higher the percentage, the better.  Ideally, I try to buy 85% or higher.

One note here is the difference between cacao and cocoa.  While these two words sound similar, there is a difference.  Check out this article that goes into the the major differences between cacao and cocoa.

Also, take a good look at the ingredients.  You are looking for as few ingredients as possible.  Sugar should come after the cacao ingredients, not first.  Make sure that the chocolate has not been processed with alkali (known as Dutch processing).  This process reduces the bitterness of the chocolate, but it also reduces the flavanols.  

Other things to look for on the label would be 100% organic, fair trade, and soy free.  Many bars contain soy lecithin as an emulsifying agent.

I think I'll grab a square.

Next time you have a sweet tooth, try reaching for that dark chocolate instead of a more traditional treat.  Again, make sure it's the good stuff, not the commercially produced, sugar loaded, fake ingredient chocolate.  As with anything else, moderation is good here.  Nothing is good in excess, including chocolate.

If you want a more deep dive into dark chocolate, check out this article from Mark's Daily Apple.

Next week, we will be sharing our favorite dark chocolate brands, and we will be doing a blind taste test to come up with our clear favorite.  Make sure you check out the post.  You might find a new brand to love.

Enjoy!

~KP

A Weighted Workout Without The Gym

No need to head to the gym for today's workout.  Like all of our workouts, this weighted workout can be done outside, in your garage, or in your living room.  All you need is one weight and a clock.  

This workout was born this week because I had a few people at camp that could not run. I'm pretty sure the non-runners got the harder workout with this one.  This is a great weighted workout to put on your list.  You can modify the rounds based on how much time you have, but you won't need more than 40 minutes to get this done.

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Avoiding Halloween Candy: Tips To Help You Succeed

Halloween candy.  For many people, myself included, Halloween candy is a temptation that can be tough to resist.  It's everywhere.  Between the candy bowl at the office, treats at home, and the post Halloween candy collection, it can be tough to stay away.

Don't fret.  We've got some tips to help you stay clear of the Halloween candy.  So, before you go buying up the candy aisle at Target, read on, and get ready to conquer that candy temptation.

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Tabata Workout: Running Tabata

Running tabata has been a staple at Fixed on Fitness since 2009.  If a tabata workout is not part of your exercise library, make sure you add it.  Tabata is simply a style of workout that includes 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds.  

We love tabata workouts.  You can use any combination of exercises, and you can also incorporate tabata sets into your cardio workouts.  Check out the version that we did this week at FOF.

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5 Family Friendly Activities For Fall

It’s finally fall!  With cooler weather in the forecast, fall is the perfect time to take your family outside.  We all have a basic need to be outside, and when the weather is cool and crisp, there’s no excuse to lay on the couch and binge on the latest Netflix series.

We have two kids, so we are always looking for a few inexpensive outdoor activities for fall.  Here are five family friendly fall activities for you to enjoy.

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Grab a Kettlebell, Work Hard, Get Some Rest

I love any workout that rewards hard work with rest.  This workout has small bursts of intense work, but that work is matched with quite a bit of rest.  You will need a kettlebell and about 36 minutes to complete this workout.  I would recommend going moderately heavy with your weight.  You want the weight to be heavy enough to challenge you, but you don't want the weight to slow you down too much.

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A Great Travel Workout – Count it Down

Sometimes you need a basic workout that you can take on your next business trip, to the gym, or out to your garage.  This travel workout is great for anywhere.  The reps are high, but the exercises are basic.  The structure of the Count it Down workout is very solid.  You can keep the exercises that we have listed, or you can add in weights if you have access to them.  Due to the amount of reps, we would recommend keeping your weight light and exercises simple so that you can move at a fast pace.

Like I said, it's basic.  Don't confuse basic with ineffective.  The best workouts can sometimes be the simplest.  Here we go.

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Fueling Long Runs – Before, During, and After

If you have ever miscalculated your fuel during a long training run or during a race, you know the importance of making sure you have a proper fueling plan in place before your big day.  As marathon season approaches, we get so many questions about how to properly fuel and hydrate during training runs and during a race.

Keep in mind that everyone is completely different.  Are you eating a diet full of real food and keeping an eye on your sugar intake?  Or, are you eating the standard American diet loaded with processed carbohydrates and very little fat?  This makes a difference.  

You must remember that your training or race fuel is not just what you pack to eat during your run.  It includes what you put on your fork up to days before your long training session.  You have to approach your nutrition just like your training schedule.  Look at it as a whole.  

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