ashleybensonfitness: March 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spinach, Banana, OJ - OH MY!

I'm so happy right now!

I was NEEDING something sweet.
I set out looking around the house for chocolate
I might have hidden away for myself for just the right moment.

No such luck.
Then I opened the fridge and had a stare down with a large container of organic spinach I bought today at the store.
NOT the same as chocolate,
but I decided to use those leafy greens and turn them into a sweet treat.

DEE-LISH!!! --- I'm serious

1 cup orange juice (or just water)
1/2 banana
a little honey
 a lot of spinach

Put it all in the blender
and BLEND.

This satisfied my sweet tooth, filled me up and awarded me with good amounts of
vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron calcium, vitamin C,
vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6!

Oh, and I also got some
protein, phosphorus, Vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, selenium, niacin, omega-3 fatty acids, and copper!

These are my goodies from the spinach alone!
If you don't believe that this spinach smoothie could taste good, I have proof:  Withholding ALL information about the ingredients I used, I had my husband take a sip.

He said, "Sure, I could drink this.  It is good."
My son responded, "YUMMMM Mom, that is good!"

There you have it.
Go fill your belly with a nutritionally packed sweet treat and share what you did!

A Little Anatomy

I am currently studying for my Physical Mind Tye4® Pilates Certification... the reason for no resent posts lately!  Well, I have been reminded - through my studying - how perfectly complex the human body is.  I am fascinated by this intricate system i.e. the reason I work in fitness!  I love that we have so much knowledge about the body, yet it is totally vulnerable and mysterious.  All the parts are arranged  in such a way as to work together for perfect function.  When one part does not work properly,  other areas WILL be effected.  Every part depends on another.

Simply put:
  • Bones support our body against gravity. We are a lot prettier this way :)  Hehehe
  • Muscles move the bones
  • Tendons connect the muscle to the bone
  • Ligaments connect bone to bone and helps stabilize our joints

Now let's talk ARMS for a minute.

We are able to raise them above our head, easy (considering a healthy shoulder joint).  No big deal- not much thought, right?  Welllll, let's take an inward look to see HOW we are able to perform that "simple movement":
Think about the shoulder blade, or scapula, for now.  It stabilizes our shoulder both at rest and in motion.  As the arm raises upward, the scapula is responsible for range of motion and support for the arm.  It holds the arm to the body so the arm does not dangle!!!

The scapula is an ANCHOR!

As you raise your arm out to the side,
the first 30 degrees is accomplished by the arm alone- moved by the deltoid muscle.
The remaining movement is possible because of the scapula bone.
The muscle that moves this bone is the trapezius in the back.

Raise your arms out to the side and all the way up to your ears.
Now lower them.
Think about the back work that is involved.
Now do the same thing but bring the arms in front of you.
Can you feel your scapula move?

 --- --- --- STORY TIME --- --- ---  
College days at Houston Baptist University
Starting back to practice after volleyball season 
had ended.

So, we were back in the gym after a good Christmas break,
gearing up for training during the off season. We were lifting weight to find our max.  This means that we had to lift as much weight as possible, in one lift, for different muscle groups, to find the maximum amount of weight we could lift.

 This would allow us to find 60% of our max weight to perform  3 sets, doing 10 repetitions or we could lift 40% of our max weight for 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

Ok, so back to the gym.
I was doing the Military Press exercise with a straight bar to find my max.

Military Press Exercise

WEll, it didn't take long to learn that the weight I was lifting was OVER my max when my shoulder dislocated while holding the weight above my head!!! OOOUUUCCCHHHH! That was too much demand for my trapezius, levator scapulae, and serratus anterior.  When they gave way, my shoulder joint lost its support.  The  rotators in my shoulder clearly couldn't handle that load and resulted in dislocation.  Good news for me: I didn't tear anything, but I did stretch and strain the tendons and ligaments of my rotator cuff muscles in my shoulder.  They were stretched good!  For a number of days, I had to support my injured arm with my other hand while I sneezed, coughed, or hick-upped.  If I didn't add that extra support, my shoulder would slide out of joint, and then slide back in.  Yes, that was weird!  I rehabbed my shoulder with focus - determined to fix it and get back in the gym.  After a few weeks and a much stronger shoulder, I dislocated it again :(
The doctor said that if it happened again, I would require surgery.  Well, let's not tell the doctor, BUT I dislocated it 5 more times.  BOOOO  I didn't want the surgery and decided to live with my limitations.
Fast forward 6 years...
At this time I had earned my degree in Kineseology and was working as a Fitness Specialist and Group Fitness Instructor at the Memorial Hermann Wellness Center in Houston, Tx.
My boss and mentor Joetta Dickerson (owner of
The Pilates Studio Houston and Pilates Instructor to the Houston Rockets Basketball team) started teaching me the art of Pilates.  I began studying and practicing TheMethod Pilates. Unknowingly, I rehabbed my shoulder to full range of motion and strength while using the Reformer!  Needless to say this kinda hooked me onto Pilates!

Now in 2013:  PhysicalMind Institute has created the most inventive Pilates system - TYE4® that functions as a reformer!  Reformer classes are expensive and hard to find.  Great news:  now everyone can take advantage of the benefits that come from balanced, flexibility, joint mobility, core strength, long lean muscle and coordination from the large Pilates apparatus.   

Be thankful today for your scapula :)
Pay attention to your movement and enjoy the fact that you have such a cool, complex "earth suit" to wear!

Thursday, March 8, 2012



I want to start by saying "Thank you" to my dog- Apple- for modeling for us today.

When we sleep our body repairs!
  • Exercising:  during resistance training, the muscles actually tear.   While sleep, the muscle rebuilds stronger to adapt to the new load demanded of it.

  • Sickness: during sleep, extra protein molecules are produced that help the immune system to strengthen and mend after being compromised by pollutants and infectious bacteria.

  • Growth:  we can't forget that kids do a lot of growing during those important hours of sleep.

New studys are suggesting that getting the right 
amount of sleep may...
  • improve memory- the brain appears to restructure and reorganize memories- they become stronger
  • improve inflammation- research suggests that people who get fewer hours of sleep—six or less per night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins
I look like I need sleep!
  • improve performance- A study conducted by Stanford University looked at college football players.  Those who got 10 hrs of sleep for 7-8 weeks had improved sprint time.  They also had less fatigue and stamina in the day.
  • improve grades- sleep deprivation impairs learning
  • improve attention- adults get sleepy with lack of zzzz's, but kids get hyperactive, are inattentive and impulsive  (ADHD-like symptoms)
  • encourage a healthy weight- when sleepy, hormones that increase appetite increase in the blood; studies also show that people who were well rested lost more body fat and those who were sleep deprived lost muscle mass
  • and decrease car accidents-in 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car crashes where the driver ran off the road. A higher number than crashes caused by alcohol! Lack of sleep affects decision making and reaction time.
So how much sleep do we need to get these wonderful benefits?

according to

Newborns (0-2 months old)12-18 hours
Infants (3-11 months old)14-15 Hours
Toddlers (1-3 years old)l12-14 Hours
Pre-schoolers (3-5 years old)11-13 Hours
School-aged Children (5-10 years old)10-11 Hours
Teens (11-17 years old)8-9 Hours
Adults7-9 Hours
 So yes maybe I just want to show off my cute kids and my dog, but I also want us to look at our sleep time as HEALTHCARE!
 It's necessary for us to be our best... to be on top of our game!
Apple seems to have sleep figured out.
 Let's take our cues from her and get some!
Sweet Dreams

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Greek vs. Non-Greek Yogurt

I like 

 smoothies. frozen treats. salads. breads. granola. mac & cheese.
-YES.  Sub it for the milk = YUMMY!

I like Stonyfield Organic
so my info about yogurt is specific to this brand.

It is a good source of protein, calcium, fiber, and is gluten free.

 Stoneyfields yogurt has 6 added natural probiotics- awesome for healthy digestion and a strong immune system.

Sooooooo, should I switch from my regular organic yogurt over to greek yogurt?

Here's the difference:

                                  Regular Organic Yogurt
  • good source of protein, calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus & magnesium.
  • low in lactose
  • supports a healthy digestive & immune system
  • restores beneficial bacteria that is killed off when taking antibiotics
  • the body digests yogurt faster and easier than milk
All Good!

             Greek  Organic Yogurt
  • very rich, thick and creamy
  • has 2x the protein compared to reg. yogurt
  • less lactose
  • fewer carbs
So, it is better if you are involved in exercising and losing weight!


  • no toxic pesticides and herbicides
  • no GMOs
  • no Antibiotics
  • no Growth hormones

Go get some yogurt and enjoy.  
Let's be creative in the way we use it and share!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I am ME Because...

In 1980, at age 2, I began having problems with asthma.  By the age of 4, it had gotten really bad.  I had weekly allergy shots and high doses of Theophylline  and Alupent.  I also depended on my rescuer inhaler regularly.  At age 4, I weighed 27 lbs.  When I would get up to 30 lbs, I would get sick and drop back down to 27 lbs.  One pharmacist said that he had never filled such high doses of this medicine for anyone.  This was necessary to keep me alive!  From ages 4-9 we visited the ER every couple of months.  For a long time I had asthma attacks every night.  My parents tell stories of nights that they could not wake me up to take my inhaler.  I remember being stuck in my dream trying to use my medicine while my parents, in reality, were splashing water in my face trying to wake me up so I could actually use my inhaler.
This experience created an extremely insecure child.  All I wanted to do was be normal... to run and play without stopping to use medicine because I couldn't breathe!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Dirty Dozen

This is the 2011 list of the fruits and vegetables that were found to contain the highest levels of pesticides. 
  1. APPLES - always make the list, have been found with up to 40 different pesticides- organic is best with all apple foods (juice, apple sauce,...)

  2. CELERY - more that 60 different pesticides have been detected

  3. STRAWBERRIES - always on the list, frozen contains smaller amounts of pesticides



  6. NECTARINES - imported nectarines test to have much higher amounts of pesticides

  7. GRAPES - especially imported - including raisins

  8. SWEET BELL PEPPERS - all colors

  9. POTATOES - over 35 different pesticides have been found by the USDA- sweet potatoes are a great alternative with far less

  10. BLUEBERRIES - even when they don't make the list, cranberries and cherries are also high in pesticides

  11. LETTUS - including spinach

  12. KALE and COLLARD GREENS  - just in the last 2 years has made the list with a rise in pesticides

Other foods that need to be organic:

  • MILK
  • WINE

Now, the GOOD NEWS:  There are lots of CLEAN foods free from pesticides that you don't need to go organic with!
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe - domestic
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Avocado
  • Onions 
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms

Foods like Avocado have a wonderful protective skin.  
This will keep chemicals from getting into the food.
I always wash the outside of the avocado, for example, before cutting into it so I don't drag any chemical that might be on the outside of the skin into the food.
Read more HERE.