Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2011

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ten for today BY REBECCA JONES FUEL FOR PRACTITIONERS 1. No amount of coaxing, pleading, or pedal pumping could get the engine in the rental car to turn over. It was going nowhere. The travelers had filled the car with unleaded fuel, but it had a diesel engine. It had been able to run a little way on the wrong fuel, but not far. And when it finally stopped, it stopped for good. Sometimes cars and humans aren't so different. Both need the right fuel to run at maximum efficiency. Put too much of the wrong stuff in, and a breakdown may be unavoidable. That's especially true for those in a profession like massage therapy. The physical demands of the work are far greater than for many jobs. Thus, massage therapists need to be especially intentional about fueling up the right way to ensure a long, busy, and healthy practice. Here are some tips to keep your body humming along like a well- tuned engine, full of energy. BE SNACK SMART You already know how important a healthy, low-fat diet is, and you're conscientious in meal preparation. You eat lots of lean protein, avoid sugar, and resolutely pile on the fresh fruits and vegetables. You avoid snacking—but should you? Actually, strategic snacking can be a good way to smooth out dips in your energy level and avoid hunger cravings that can lead you to overeat when you finally do sit down to a full meal. So go ahead and snack. Just be as choosey in your snack selection as you are in meal planning. 2. AN ENERGY BAR BY ANY OTHER NAME Don't fall for the fiction that all so- called "energy bars" are unpalatable but good for you, while candy bars are delicious but bad. "A lot of energy bars are filled with chemicals and with sugar," warns Alexis Florio, spokeswoman for Larabar, an all- natural snack bar consistently rated by consumers as among the tastiest in 3. the market. "You may get a temporary boost from the sugar, but then you crash." So read labels, and look for high fiber, high protein, and limited carbs. IT'S HARD TO BEAT BASIC INGREDIENTS Nuts are among the best choices for healthy, pick-me-up snacks, nutritionists say. Nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, and hazelnuts are all loaded with magnesium, a mineral whose health benefits are legendary. Among other things, magnesium not only improves heart health, it decreases the risk of diabetes, is known to reduce stress, improves muscle functioning, and can even reduce insomnia. Another super snack food is dark chocolate, which is rich in heart- protecting antioxidants. Studies show dark chocolate can improve blood flow, which will energize flagging muscles. Even milk chocolate gets a thumbs up because it provides calcium for the bones. So enjoy it—in moderation. It's true what dieters have been rationalizing for years: in its original form, chocolate is a plant, and it's difficult to go wrong snacking on plants.

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