Growing up, fruit was my biggest food group. Until I learned about the importance of variety and moderation, I ate more than my share of fruit every day. Mostly, I was an apple-addict! In school, I learned that fruits are healthy and you’re supposed to eat at least three servings each day, but I never knew just how important they are.


Diets rich in fruits (and vegetables) reduce the risk for heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and can protect against certain cancers. Fruits have no cholesterol and most of them are low in fat, sodium, and calories (USDA).


It’s easy to think that if you need a certain amount of fruit servings, that any kind will suffice. What’s interesting is that each kind offers unique benefits and micronutrients. Sure, all fruits are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (which fight free radicals), but some fruits are actually better for you than others! So what fruits pack the most benefits?


Berries! These little, highly-pigmented all-star fruits contain the second highest-amount of antioxidants, only to herbs and spices food category. These fruits can potentially protect against cancer and have the ability to boost the immune system and lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. Berries are known to be the best fruits for diabetics, as they are super low in sugar and high in fiber, which can improve insulin sensitivity (Greger).


Other amazing fruits include citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, which contain flavonoids and Vitamin C that are antioxidants and can neutralize free radicals and are high in folate and thiamin. Trendy fruits like avocado and pomegranate offer great benefits too. Avocado contains an abundance of potassium, fiber, and healthy fats that lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL). Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C & E, and they have been found to stop growth of cancer cells, protect memory, improve digestion, slow plaque buildup in arteries, and enhance fitness performance by reducing soreness and improving recovery (Ferreira). Don’t forget about my favorite apples too! These fleshy fruits contain high amounts of vitamins, fiber, potassium, and they can increase bone density and good gut bacteria.


According to the USDA, adult men should have two cups of fruit and adult women should have one and half to two cups every day. Of course, this depends on activity levels. Keep in mind that fruit comes in many forms, such as whole, juiced, frozen, canned, dried, cooked and pureed. The best form to eat is whole, unprocessed fruit because it has no added sugars, hasn’t lost fiber, and has low-calorie density and high volume, so you can eat more and feel fuller on less calories (USDA).


So, eat your fruit (in moderation)! All fruits are healthy and some are even healthier. Even though I eat a much more balanced diet these days, I still eat my share of apples, and now I know just how healthy they are for me.



Sources:

1. Ferreira, Mandy and Natalie Butler R.D. “Fifteen Health Benefits of Pomegranates” Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318385.php

2. Greger M.D., Michael “NutritionFacts.org” Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fruit/

3. USDA “Fruit: Nutrients and Health Benefits” Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health


Senior Year of high school 2005. Post-college Summer 2010. Comic-Con Fall 2014.


The first sentence is always the hardest because there are so many places to begin my story. Currently, I’m a 31-year old certified personal trainer, who also teaches ESL to Chinese children, coaches high school volleyball, and battles anxiety and depression. I grew up in PA, fell in love in NY, and now live in Concord NC with my two mini-dachshunds and my very tall boyfriend. My own journey and education in fitness has had many ups and downs. Getting to this point has been a long road. Though it’s difficult to divulge my personal struggles, I know I’m not the only person dealing with mental disorders, the stigmas associated with them, and the added physical stress and obstacles that accompany them. It’s my mission to help everyone achieve fitness goals and healthy, sustainable lifestyles, no matter what the circumstance or struggle.


In high school, I knew something about my thoughts and reactions were different from other students. I had very specific ways that I needed to do things, trouble reading and comprehending what I read, and an overall discomfort or emotional response to overwhelming situations (that weren’t overwhelming to most students). I constantly pressured myself to perform perfectly and try everything to impress an absent parent with sports, music, arts (seriously, everything!). I was constantly fighting to be loved and feeling like I was never good enough. Those feelings and insecurities controlled how I acted, thought, and felt about my abilities and my physical appearance.


By my third year in college, I sought out professional help and received my diagnosis: General Anxiety Disorder with OCD Tendencies and Mild Depression. Symptoms including: trouble compartmentalizing, lack of concentration, excessive worry, racing thoughts, agitation, irritability, panic attacks, feelings of worthlessness, and extreme sadness. Completing school work, choosing a career path, having friendships or relationships, and even dealing with some family members was frustrating, without fully understanding what I was dealing with and why. Each therapy session was an opportunity to learn more, deal with childhood and family problems, and find ways to cope with the insecurities. (Yes, these descriptions of my past problems are vague, but delving deep into every past heartache and obstacle would turn this into a novel. Maybe someday…)


During college, I also dealt with serious self-image issues that led me to try countless ways to look “thinner” no matter what the cost. (I really wish I could have an intervention with my younger self sometimes!) I was taking diet pills and supplements, trying several kinds of trendy diets, drinking shakes and teas, buying workout DVDs, and constantly scrutinizing every inch of my body. From high school to post-college, my weight fluctuated more than my hair color. I scoured the internet and listened to bad advice for quick fixes that only hurt me. I must have spent several thousands of dollars to achieve unrealistic results. Needless to say, some helped me lose weight and others did not. From high school through college, my weight fluctuated more than my hair color. None of them helped me become healthier or stronger.


It took too long to figure out that the problem I thought I had with my physical appearance wasn’t going to be solved by a quick fix. It also took too long to realize there is a connection between anxiety & depression and body composition. I was stuck in a loop of stressing about my body, battling anxiety and depression, trying insane ways to lose weight, not understanding why the efforts weren’t producing results, and repeat. Finally, it clicked, and I knew I needed to get educated in health, fitness, and nutrition to not only help myself, but help others stuck in the same loop.


It’s now been a decade since my first diagnosis and I’m still coping with anxiety and depression symptoms and learning about healthy ways to improve my mental, emotional, and physical fitness levels. One of the most important things I’ve learned over these years has been “consistency”. This is a key to accomplishing any goal and staying on track with progress. Losing the mindset of needing a quick-fix broke the “loop”. Consistency takes time and effort but the results are life-long and gratifying.


Summer 2018 with Riley and Sulley.

I can’t change my past or undo the “get thin quick” mistakes that I made, but I did learn the right ways to help myself, and now, I help others achieve realistic goals too. Today, I stay consistent with my nutrition and fitness training. I use what I've learned about macronutrients and nutrient timing as eating guidelines. For fitness, I utilize variety and progressions of strength training, HIIT cardio and resistance, circuits, and occasional steady-state cardio. I’m excited to share more about my journey and what I’ve learned. In upcoming blog posts, I am going to address how stress affects the body and ways to deal with it. If you’re dealing with a mental disorder and have had trouble controlling weight or achieving weight loss goals, I’m here to help!


SMASH your fitness goals! - Ash


#SMASHFitness #Fitness #Anxiety #Depression #HealthyLiving #CopingwithStress #FitnessandAnxiety #StressWeightGain #StrengthOverStress

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Concord, NC

Tel: 980-494-0258

ash@smashfitnessonline.com

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