Health-a-bet: B

B is for… Balance!

Balance is one aspect of fitness that gets completely overlooked.

We have all seen the guy who skipped leg day, and we all know the person with the six-pack but know back muscles to speak of. Not only does this not an impressive look, but it puts us at an increased risk of injury too.

It’s all about that relationship of muscle length and muscle strength. Hence the importance of flexibility exercises. Ligaments, which attach muscle to muscle, and tendons, which attach muscle to bone, must be flexible enough to withstand both loading and torque on the joints.

Simple dynamic stretching before a workout, or some beginners AM/PM yoga can be a super benefit to the workouts we are already doing. Here are a couple YouTube clips that provide examples:

Dynamic warmup:

Yoga for beginners:

There is no “exact ratio” for strength training, but here are a few good rules of thumb:

  • For every two abdominal exercises, so one low back exercise.
  • When you work the shoulders, work the upper back too.
  • Remember to use proper form- if it’s a hamstring exercise but you’re quads are doing all the work, something is wrong.
  • If you work biceps, work triceps too.
  • Keep an equal ratio of quad to hamstring exercises on leg day (which you’ll never ever skip, right?!).
  • A little junk in the trunk is OK, but don’t neglect the booty!
  • Calf raises are not for wimps, they’re for people who want strong calves.
  • The amount of time you spend lifting should ALWAYS exceed the time you spend checking yourself out in the mirror.


Health-a-bet: A

A is for… Active!
How to turn a popular fall activity into exercise.


Autumn in Iowa brings more than just crisp fall leaves, but crisp fall apples. Local orchards provide the perfect place to pick up healthy and delicious snacks, while getting exercise. You can even bring the kids!

To make apple picking a workout, skip the hayrack ride and walk to each destination. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a couple of sturdy tote bags. Your bags will get heavier as you fill them, therefore giving you an arm workout of increasing resistance. Reaching for the apples at the top is a fantastic flexibility exercise, and all the tiptoe work is ideal for toning your calves.

If you have small children, pulling them in a wagon provides some extra work on your walk. Lifting them onto your shoulders to pick the apples that are higher up is a resistance workout for you, and it gives your little ones a chance to help out too!

Nutritional Spotlight:A Healthy Alternative to Traditional Caramel Apples

What is fall without caramel apples? Less fattening! Traditional caramel dip contains calorie heavy cream, saturated fat laden butter, refined sugar, and no nutritional benefit whatsoever. Luckily, you can still indulge without paying such a price. This alternative caramel dip has no saturated fat, natural sugar, and contains fiber and protein.


2/3 cup almond milk, rice milk, or another non-dairy milk.caramelapple
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (or another nut butter)
1/2 cup honey (may also use pure maple syrup or raw sugar)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Blend milk and peanut butter until very smooth (you may want to use a blender)
2. Stir honey into mixture
3. Heat mixture slowly on stove-top, stirring often
4. Reduce heat when mixture comes to a gentle boil
5. Stir constantly for nine or ten minutes
6. When the caramel is finished it will be thicker and stretchy, but still fairly thin
7. Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla extract
8. Allow to cool for an hour or more so the caramel can thicken
9. Drizzle caramel on whole apples, or dip slices in the dip and enjoy!


Use a heavy bottomed pan to avoid scorching
Have patience, the slower you go the less it will scorch
Spray measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring peanut butter, it will slip right out!
Longer cooking time yields thicker caramel dip
Sprinkling caramel coated apples with your favorite type of nut increases the protein and fiber content!