Monthly Archives: March 2015

TRX – Fitness Anywhere

LaurenLauren began her wellness journey shortly after having her daughter in 2008. After gaining over 70 pounds with her pregnancy and spending a year working off the baby weight, she decided on a career of helping others reach their fitness goals. Lauren is currently a Wellness Instructor at Rex Wellness Center of Garner. She is an ACSM certified personal trainer and an AFAA certified group fitness instructor.

TRX on the beach

Over the past few years I have been doing quite a bit of business and leisure traveling. With little access to a gym on my trips, I was forced into workouts that usually involved running. As much as I like the versatility of running, it’s not my favorite thing to do. I usually ended my workouts with sore knees, feet, and hips. In addition, my workouts were becoming boring and repetitive. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a TRX suspension trainer and I have taken it with me on my trips. It has allowed me the freedom to work out on my own terms with the ability to tailor my workout to the intensity that I desire. I can workout for 20 minutes or an hour. I can push myself to the limits or take a leisurely pace and scale it back to a easy to moderate level. I can work out in my hotel room, at a park, or even on the beach. I recently purchased the TRX door anchor which allows me to utilize my suspension trainer just about anywhere that has a framed door.

TRX (Total Resistance eXercise) was born from Randy Hetrick, a former Navy SEAL. It is a full body training system utilizing body weight for a practical, functional, and versatile workout. TRX is literally fitness anywhere. When I travel for business I am able to pack my TRX in my carry-on bag. No more than 1.5 lbs and taking up less space in my bag than an iPad, I was making a promise to myself that I would work out while I was away from home. Without a gym, I was able to ensure that I could have a fun, fast, effective workout by bringing my TRX along with me.

In a nutshell, TRX uses bodyweight exercises to provide anyone at any fitness level a full body strength training and cardiovascular workout. One of the most common questions I get about TRX is “can I really get as good of a workout with TRX as I get with free weights or weight machines?” My answer is simple: yes, you can. TRX provides you with an opportunity to work your body as an interconnected chain of muscles the same way you do in all of your daily activities. Allowing your body to work as a unit allows you greater functionality and provides you with greater performance in just about any activity.

TRX works the core relentlessly: improving flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and balance. One of my favorite things about TRX is its versatility. I love incorporating different formats to create a new type of workout. TRX allows me to combine movements used in ballet, Pilates, boxing, and yoga generating an even more intense workout. I recently began working on a vinyasa TRX routine that incorporates yoga poses and flows with the TRX suspension trainer. This has challenged my current students and has intrigued those who have not tried it in the past.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try TRX yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you’re new to working out, it provides a great way to initiate yourself into weight training. You control your pace and you decide how hard you’re going to make it. For those extremely conditioned individuals, TRX will take your performance to the next level. If you have any interest in trying TRX, check out our Group Exercise Schedule for upcoming classes at our wellness center locations. There is a small fee for these classes, but members and non-members are both welcome!

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Conquering Sleep Problems


If you’ve been accused of getting up “on the wrong side of the bed,” is it because you didn’t get much sleep on any side on the bed? Some simple changes in your daily habits may be effective in helping you rest easier.

Exercise early. Activity too close to bedtime can wind you up and make it difficult to relax. Try to exercise in the morning or early evening—regular exercise at these times may even help you sleep better.

Watch what you eat and drink. Eating a large meal or drinking caffeinated beverages before bed can keep you up, and alcohol, even if it initially makes you feel sleepy, may make it difficult to stay asleep.

Help your mind stop racing. Have too much to think about when your head hits the pillow? Make time earlier in the evening to write down worries and possible solutions or make a to-do list for the next day.

Stick to a sleep schedule. If possible, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day—even on the weekends. This can help your body set its biological clock for regular sleep.

Make your bedroom comfortable. Many people sleep best in a room that is cool, dark and quiet. A comfy bed is also important. A fan or white noise machine can help block out distracting noises or help lull you to sleep.

Focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths—you may even want to count them. Relax the muscles in your body—slowly working your way up from your toes to your head.

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Comparing the DASH and the Mediterranean Diets

Jennifer OzkurtJennifer Özkurt is a Dietetic Intern at the Rex Wellness Center. She currently attends Meredith College.


According to the CDC, hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 70 million Americans. It’s a condition which can lead to weakening of the arteries, stroke, and heart and kidney disease if is not controlled. High blood pressure is a measured blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Shockingly, one out of three American adults has prehypertension, which is blood pressure higher than normal between 120/80 to 140/89 mmHg. Many American do not have this condition under control, increasing their chances of developing hypertension.

The typical American diet of over processed foods and eating on-the-go affects one’s chances of developing hypertension. Research has shown that healthy lifestyle changes such as a low sodium diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, along with moderate physical activity, can lower and prevent the development of these conditions. Here we will compare two of the most proven dietary approaches for preventing hypertension and improving ones dietary health, the DASH and Mediterranean diets.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH Diet was developed as a dietary approach to lower blood pressure without the use of medication and has been proven useful for weight loss. It reduces sodium consumption, and promoting an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. These foods provide an abundant source of nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which have lowering effects on blood pressure.

The Dash Diet plan was developed with everyone in mind, and it is a therapeutic meal plan that can be easily adapted for a lifetime of healthy eating. The overall goal of this dietary approach is to encourage lifestyle changes which promote healthy dietary behaviors. You can choose from two plans based on individual need. Version one allows for 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. The second is for 1500 mg of sodium per day and is promoted by the American Heart Association. It’s the recommended diet for adults 51 years of age or older, African Americans, or for those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Mediterranean Diet

In the 1970s, it was concluded in the landmark Seven Country Study that a so called “peasant diet” consumed throughout the Mediterranean had a beneficial effect on heart health and other co-morbidities. It was determined that dietary fats, such as saturated fat, contributed to the development of heart disease. The traditional Mediterranean diet was introduced in 1993 by the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organizations as a lifestyle change to be used as a prevention strategy for heart disease, in addition to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Like the Dash Diet, although its distinction includes the title of diet, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle change, which encompasses healthy eating patterns. It encourages eating more whole foods packed with nutrients and less of heavily processed and refined foods. Due to variations among countries throughout the Mediterranean, recommendations include multiple versions from the traditional plan to the new Mediterranean pyramid.

Side-by-Side Comparison

When looking at a side-by-side comparison of the Mediterranean diet compared to the DASH diet plans they vary slightly in whole grains, fruit and vegetable servings per day. However, the Mediterranean diet differs greatly in the amount of fish, lean meat, and sweets consumed. Red and processed meats come with the lowest serving recommendations per week of two or less, or in some cases, these meats are only recommended at one to two servings per month. In addition, two or more servings of fish, the use of olive oil in food preparation at each meal, and a daily serving of nuts are encouraged on a Mediterranean diet plan.

Benefits of Adherence to Either Diet

  • Reduces hypertension as much as seven to 12 points, over time.
  • Improves weight loss outcomes
  • Reduces hypertension by four points with every 10 pounds of weight loss.
  • Reduces primary and secondary cardiovascular risk
  • Reduces the inflammation response in the body
  • Helps lower risk for osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Take Home Message

Both the DASH and Mediterranean Diets promote healthy lifestyles, which includes both physical and nutritional health. If you have hypertension, talk with your doctor or a dietitian to explore your current diet and lifestyle.

Do your homework! There are many books and online resources for you to learn more about these diets and recipes.

Remember, when making a change to your diet, start with one behavior that you would be willing to change. Change should come gradually to allow for the behavioral modification to take place. For instance, you may have considered switching from white bread to whole grain breads. Give yourself a start date and an end point to reassess your ability to make this change. Ask yourself what barriers kept you from meeting your goal or expectation. More importantly, forgive yourself if and when set-backs occur, but analyze why the setback occurred and then continue where you left off.

For more information or if you are having trouble making dietary changes, make an appointment to talk to a registered dietitian. A dietitian can provide counseling and tips to help guide you on diet strategies and maintaining a healthy diet long-term.

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‘Got To Be NC’ Competition Dining Series (Triangle) Champions

Competition Dining Champs

Congratulations to Chef Ryan Conklin and teammates Chefs Steve Pexton and Collin Jennings for winning the ‘Got To Be NC’ Competition Dining Series (Triangle) competition!

They battled their way through four tough rounds against the talented chefs at Top of the Hill, Midtown Grille, Faire and Curt’s Cucina.

Now they move on to the ‘Battle of Champions’ to cook against the winners of the Competition Dining ‘City’ and ‘Triad’ competitions. Stay tuned for more info on the ‘Battle of Champions’ which will take place later this year.

If you weren’t able to attend the battles, be sure to check out these articles from ABC 11 and WRAL Out and About for a full recap of the action.

Want to try their winning recipes at home? Here’s your chance to try their Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper-Horseradish Rubbed Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin and Uno Alla Volta Hay-Smoked Mozzarella Logan Turnpike Grits.

Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper-Horseradish Rubbed Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin


  • 1 ea. Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin
  • 1 c prepared horse radish
  • Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Trim all fat and silver skin off the strip loin
  • Cut the strip in half-length wise
  • Season with the smoked salt and pepper
  • Sear the meat on all 4 sides, then run the horseradish thinly over the strip loin.
  • Roast in a 325 degree oven until an internal temperature of 125 degree is reached
  • Let the meat rest for 15 min then slice in to 3oz medallions

Uno Alla Volta Hay-Smoked Mozzarella Logan Turnpike Grits


  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coarse Logan turnpike grits
  • 2 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 oz UAV hay smoked mozzarella shredded
  •  2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic


  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy sauce pan, add shallots and garlic. Cook 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock, 1 1/2 c milk, salt and bring to a boil.
  • Add grits gradually, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  • Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer, covered, stirring frequently, until water is absorbed and grits are thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup milk and simmer, partially covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep grits from sticking to bottom of pan.
  • Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and grits are thick and tender, about 35 minutes more.
  • Add shredded mozzarella and stir in. (Grits will have a soft, mashed-potato-like consistency.)
  • Stir in pepper and remaining 2 tablespoon butter
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Fitness Trackers: Which One Should I Choose?

AllyAlly Setliff coordinates and leads the group exercise and health promotion programs for Rex Wellness Center of Raleigh. Ally graduated from East Carolina University with a B.S. Health Fitness Specialist degree. She is also an registered clinical exercise physiologist through American College of Sports Medicine and has experience with cardiac and pulmonary rehab. She holds her primary group exercise certification through AFAA, and personal training certification through National Strength and Conditioning Association. She loves to share her passion for exercise and creativity in every class that she teaches. Her main goal is to make others enjoy exercise as much as she does. Ally enjoys every type of dance, sprint triathlons, running, road cycling, and barre is her newest passion.


Technology is a great way to keep us on track with exercise and healthy eating. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular activity trackers, mobile apps and websites that monitor your workouts and can help boost your motivation.

  • Fitbit: This is the most popular fitness tracker on the market. Fitbit offers different types of trackers that can be worn as either a pedometer, activity wristband, or even embedded into a high-fashioned bracelet. Depending on which device you purchase, you may be able to track steps, distance, calories burned, or sleep patterns. You can set daily goals, earn badges, and challenge friends. Newer Fitbit devices have GPS capabilities that track elevation, pace and heart rate. Some also have music capabilities. Be wary! A few trackers that attach to clothing may be easily forgotten and accidentally laundered. I’ve done it at least 5 times already. I recommend purchasing a wristband style instead. Other options in this style include the Jawbone© or Nike + FuelBand. These devices are very comparable to Fitbit, with similar aesthetics and capabilities.

Don’t want to spend the money on a device? There are several free apps or websites that also measure progress and keep you motivated.

  • MyFitnessPal: This is one of my favorite mobile apps. If you do not own a smart phone, you can track your information through their website at The app makes it super easy to track daily calories, water consumption, exercise and weight. There is also a social component that allows you to challenge and encourage friends. Progress is shown in easy to read charts. The app and use of this website are free. You need to take time to enter your food intake each day. Research shows that those taking the time to track their food intake are more successful in their weight loss/healthy eating journey than those who do not track their food. Be as accurate as you can about portion size when tracking your calories for each meal. You’ll be surprised how quickly calories add up! Other free apps that have similar capabilities as MyFitnessPal are Fitocracy, Challenges, Fleety, and Lose it!
  • RunKeeper: Training for a race? The best tracker I have found for racing is RunKeeper. Whether you are training for a 5k, sprint triathlon, or marathon, this app does a great job with goal setting and providing training plans. It has GPS capabilities to track distance traveled, pace, and speed for running outdoors. It also has capabilities to track indoor workouts on the treadmill. You can track other non-running activities that you do during the week such as Zumba, Barre, or strength training. The app also helps you motivate your friends. It alerts you when you have reached a personal record and it sends push notifications if you have gotten off track that week. Another personal recommendation: Be smart about free training plans provided for long distance races. If you are inexperienced in long-distance running, don’t forget your rest days! You don’t want to suffer an injury by pushing too hard, too fast. It is also important to include core and strength training in your weekly running plan. Other popular apps for race training are Mapmyrun, Nike + running, and PUMATRAC.
  • Heart rate monitors: Your heart rate can provide a more detailed measurement of exercise and can be monitored in several ways during your workout. How do you know if you are working hard enough during exercise? Exertion and heart rate are the main ways to measure how intense a workout it. Some may be familiar with the “talk test” and RPE scale as common ways to assess how hard you are working. You can always track heart rate by manually taking your carotid pulse, but there are several devices that will track heart rate for you. Polar Heart Rate Monitors come with a sports watch that shows current heart rate, max heart rate, and also summarizes your workout. Some devices go as far as telling you how many calories were burned during your workout. There is a free app that can measure your heart rate on smart phones now called Instant Heart Rate. With this, you just touch your finger to the camera lens on the smart phone to gauge pulse with real-time charts. How cool is that?

Bottom line? There are several different ways to track important info from your workout, and you don’t need to get top of the line equipment to do so. Finding something that gives you a way to measure progress is the biggest factor in staying motivated and seeing results.

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