Itchy Muscles? What Does It Mean?

Teen Fitness

I’ve recently gotten into yoga and have noticed that the next morning, I’ll sometimes wake-up with an itching sensation that feels like it’s coming from inside my muscle tissue. I didn’t know whether that was cause for concern, so I started doing a little internet research find out.

What I discovered is that an itching sensation isn’t necessarily a bad thing and that if your itching only happens when you exercise, you likely won’t have any other symptoms.

People complain of itchy muscles especially in warm weather or if it’s been a while since they last exercised. Exercising, especially cardio workouts like running, increase your blood flow and send a lot of oxygen to your muscles. The theory is that the blood vessels in your muscles are stretching beyond what they’re used to, and this wakes up the nerves around them.

And since the nerve signals that communicate pain can sometimes be closely linked with the nerve signals for itch, itching muscles could also be a way that your body is processing stress from working out.

So next time you workout and your muscle fibers start to itch, that’s probably a good sign. Just remember to keep stretching and not to push your muscles to the point of strains or tears.

VarCity Trends: Fitness Fashion

Emily Ratajkowski

Tired of wearing your well-worn T-shirt and old yoga pants to the gym? Make like Emily Ratajkowski and sweat in style—think bold-colored shorts ($45), crop tops ($45) and throwback sneaks ($75). Take your cue from A-list stars that now that what you wear to workout can be just as important as your on-duty uniform. The rule here? Always be ready to make a good impression at the gym.

Click the links below to get the look:



VarCity Wellness Trends: Plant-Based Milks

Almond vs Oat Milk

With the rise in popularity of plant-based proteins, we aren’t surprised that food manufacturers are looking for new ways to get plants into our morning coffee routines. Since 2014, nondairy milk alternatives have grown an impressive 61%, and the market is expected to reach more than $35 billion by 2024.

And while the almond and coconut milks of the world are just going to continue getting more ubiquitous, there’s a whole host of other plant-based options, from beans to oats to bananas, that are ready to join the mix.

VarCity’s pro-tip: when choosing a dairy-free milk, look for an option that has a short ingredient list, is unsweetened, offers a source of protein, and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

VarCity Fitness Trends: Boxing

Boxing

Boxing used to be a grungy sport reserved for people who didn’t mind working out in a dark, damp cave. Then along came boutique boxing studios, and suddenly boxing’s sexy again. It’s now the sport of models and fitfluencers everywhere—and when it comes to a workout that incorporates cardio and toning, boxing is going to make a strong push to supplant spinning as the number #1 workout in 2019.

For starters, slamming away at a heavy bag is a full-body workout that can burn around 700 calories an hour (depending on your weight). But if that’s not enough to get your gloves on, people are also using the workout as an outlet for stress and to build self-confidence. Go ahead—let it all out!

VarCity Wellness Trends: Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll Latte

Step aside matcha, there’s a new drink in the neighborhood. Chlorophyll lattes are here and the health claims are getting out of control. From bad breath to depression to exercise recovery, if you google it, chances are chlorophyll can apparently fix it. While a few smaller studies did find that taking chlorophyll supplements did slightly increase weight loss and lower cholesterol, experts have suggested that we need a lot more research to confirm the “superfood” claims.

Today it’s not unusual to find coffeeshops blending chlorophyll-packed supplements like spirulina and chlorella into your frothy morning brew,. And hey, even if the whipped cream and syrup pumps somewhat nullify any potential health benefits from the superfood greens, at least you’re getting a good ‘gram.

VarCity Tips: Eat This, Not That -- Shaved Ice

Healthy Summer Treats

Fro-Yo still may be king of the summer, but think twice the next time you get a bowl loaded with artificial sweeteners, empty calories and chemical-based flavors. For summer of 2019, try a bowl of shaved ice. Inspired by Japanese kakigōri, Filipino halo-halo, Korean patbingsu, and Taiwanese bao-bing, the icy treats are a low-calorie refreshing alternative. The trend is expected to go mainstream with the help of do-it-yourself topping bars.

VarCity’s tip: Keep your shaved ice refreshing and manageable by adding fresh fruit instead of super-sweet syrups, juices and candies.

The Benefits of Unprocessed Foods

Processes Foods

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that people eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet. The difference in weight gain even occurred when the meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients.

This study considered foods “ultra-processed” if they had ingredients predominantly found in food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers.

Previous studies had shown diets high in processed foods correlated to health problems. But, because none of the past studies randomly assigned people to eat specific foods and then measured the results, scientists could not say for sure whether the processed foods were a problem on their own, or whether people eating them had health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.

This is the first study to demonstrate causality — that ultra-processed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight.

An ultra-processed breakfast might consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast was oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, and skim milk. The ultra-processed and unprocessed meals had the same amounts of calories, sugars, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates, and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

On the ultra-processed diet, people ate about 500 calories more per day than they did on the unprocessed diet. They also ate faster on the ultra-processed diet and gained weight, whereas they lost weight on the unprocessed diet. Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet.

Added Sugar: What Happens When You Cut it Out?

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Knowing exactly what constitutes a healthy diet has never been more difficult. Vegans believe forgoing animal products is best, while keto enthusiasts will tell you to eat anything that has four legs and can’t get away fast enough. But there's one food nearly every dietician suggest you avoid: sugar.

Giving up the sweet stuff is hard as it's even found in veggie burgers, tomato sauce, and crackers. But if you do nix added sugars from your diet, your body will benefit almost immediately.

Within a week you can expect lower blood pressure as well as healthier levels of fat and insulin levels in the bloodstream. Of course, how your body reacts to the absence of sugar depends on how much of the white stuff you eat in the first place–and whether you're eating carbs.

Your body breaks down complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal and fruit, into simple sugars to use as energy.

But what if you cut out all high-glycemic foods, as keto enthusiasts and no-carb, no sugar dieters attempt?

First, you'll probably day dream about donuts, if you're the type of person who regularly grabs a muffin in the morning and ends dinner with dessert. This occurs because you don't have sugar to help stimulate your brain.

You may feel, well, rough, but there's a lot of good stuff going on inside your body.

You won't go through the cycle of sugar highs and crashes, as initially you'll feel tired and lethargic, but that will pass within a few days. Also, adrenaline will increase and help break down glycogen, or sugar, stored in your body.

Within three to five days, your liver will make ketones from fat since there's no more glucose, your body’s main source of energy. That’s when your body enters ketosis, aka fat burning mode.

As a result, you could experience muscle cramps since you're losing a lot of water when you’re in ketosis after cutting out sugar. Some people experience keto flu, associated with headaches, fatigue and cramps, which lasts about a week.

But once that passes, you'll feel more energetic, focused, and calm. It’s common for people to cut out sugar and high-glycemic foods to lose weight for short periods of time. However, doctors still aren’t sure whether this is healthy long-term.

That’s why many doctors recommend eating healthy complex carbohydrates. Although they are broken down into sugar, this is an entirely normal and healthy process.

In fact, omitting added sugars while eating complex carbs keeps your insulin levels healthy. Try if for a week! You won’t get the headaches, you won’t get the crashes and you will get a consistent level of energy.

Mental Health: Bellody

Teen Anxiety

I thought about how to write this article for days. Initially I thought this would be something easy. In fact, I even volunteered to do this. Wellness isn’t just about physical fitness but about mental health too. I’m a brand ambassador for VarCity Studios but how could I, someone who is not at her best, write to inspire others to care for themselves in every aspect?

Even when I was a young child I always loved to sing. I would sing on Sunday mornings innocently thinking that the sound of eggs frying would conceal the sound of my tiny 7 year old voice. Eventually I started to become more self-aware. My ritual sunday morning jam out sessions stopped with time. Finding myself singing became a rarity. If I was lucky, nobody would be at home so then I could sing. But, that’s not the point. Singing is something I love. I always enjoyed myself while doing it. 

Today I broke down in tears while doing my favorite thing, singing. This beautiful melody that I was singing turned into loud sobs that only seemed to grow. All this time I have been trying to just get by the weeks one day at a time. Meals started becoming less important to me. I would eat a bit just to say I ate. Naps were something that helped me pass the time and help me avoid reality. I didn’t want to stop and accept that I was not okay. It felt like I was draining the people around me that I loved. While everybody was excited about Senior class events, everything felt like just another day I had to trudge through. I did not want to even think that I was not okay because it almost felt like the equivalent message I would be sending was that I was being unappreciative of life. I did not want to make my family worried. I wanted to keep thinking that I was okay. However, the fact that this hobby I once enjoyed and looked forward to so much, is something I couldn’t enjoy anymore hit me in my soft spot. I was not the same, I was not okay.

I’m a wellness brand ambassador. The growth here that I tried to show you was small but it was definitely important. It’s important to acknowledge it if you are not okay. As a matter of fact, you can think of it as the first step to getting better. The eggs that I smelled during my Sunday mornings will begin to burn if I don’t acknowledge when it’s almost cooked. Getting through the problem and avoiding the problem are two completely different things. 

Tomorrow is July Fourth. There is gonna be a lot of barbeque smells wafting through the air as many people are celebrating. Holidays are exciting commemorations and typically spent with close friends and family. This might not be a Fourth of July themed article the advertising persona in me would have wanted, but this goes out to those who have been feeling under the weather. It’s okay not to be okay. As Mental Health Advocate Erica Davis-Crump says, “It’s okay to not be okay. It’s even better if you get help”. To the allies hiding here and there, treat others with patience. You never know what they’re going through. Let’s get through this together.



I hate that I love my Peloton bike.

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When I went away to college, my parents expected I would change. Surprisingly, it was the other way around. I was informed via the family group chat that my parents decided to get a Peloton bike- essentially an overpriced spin bike with an iPad attached to it that goes in your house. It was official. We were now one of those families.

I vowed to never use that thing. I was worried that it would become the next FitBit. Yeah, its cool at first, but once the hype is gone, we’re going to forget about it and then we are stuck with this unicycle-type contraption waiting to be sold at the next garage sale.

I became bombarded by messages in the family group chat throughout the rest of the semester. “Have you gotten your daily dose of Pelotonin?” my dad would write, followed up by a selfie of him in Peloton merch. So embarrassing. Its disappointing that I’m too old to emancipate myself.

When I came home from school for the summer everything changed. I did a few rides and next thing you know I am following my favorite trainers on Instagram. I am obsessed, and I am ashamed to admit it. Whether you’re streaming a live class, or taking an old one from their On-Demand library, you feel like you’re a part of a community. Simple things like virtually high five-ing other riders and following your friends keep you connected. There are always news “badges” to reach keeping you motivated to hop back on the bike every day.

Your monthly Peloton subscription also comes with Peloton Digital. You can pull it up in app or on your computer for classes in Yoga, Meditation, Running, Strength, and more. There is also the ability to join weekly and monthly training programs (I am currently doing a 4 week program called “Crush your Core” which comes with daily workout videos).

Yes, the Peloton bike is expensive, but you are going to force yourself to get your money’s worth by using it regularly. It’s an expensive fad, but you are going to want to keep it as a part of your lifestyle.

I hate that I love it. But once you drink the Kool-Aid, you’ll feel the same way. Get ready for this holiday season because I can promise you our Peloton will make it on the Voigt family Christmas card.