Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Sleep well, live well

Our days are typically filled with meetings, work projects, school activities, chores, exercise, family time, etc.  We have no problem putting all those things on our schedule, but the one thing we often neglect is sleep. 

We all have too much to do, so be sure to derive the greatest benefit from your time in bed,” stated Andrea Herman, director of the Better Sleep Council. “How well you sleep at night can make all the difference in how productive and stress-free you’ll be the next day, whether you’re scrubbing the bathrooms before house guests arrive or rushing to the grocery store to stock up.”

Sleep is vital for you to feel your best.  Because everyone wants to be healthy and fit, it’s important to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible.

Five tips to consider:

1) Give yourself “permission” to go to bed. As hard as it may be to put away your “to do” list, make sleep a priority. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

2) Take care of yourself. Cut back on alcohol, caffeine and smoking, all of which can make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Regular exercise can help relieve tension and stress.

3) Unwind early in the evening. Finish chores and run errands early in the evening so you can clear your mind and relax before bedtime.

4) Keep regular hours. Go to bed around the same time each night and wake up close to the same time each morning to keep your biological clock in check.

5) Create a restful place to sleep. Be sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and dark, and that you are sleeping on a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundation. A bed that’s too small, too soft, too hard or too old can rob you of sleep.

Whats more, studies are beginning to show that more sleep can help us control our weight.  Lose weight while you sleep may sound to good to be true, but a panel of experts says sleep may help us do just that.  Read the full article at webMD.com.

Start the day off right

What is your typical morning like?  You wake up a few minutes too late, spend a few too many minutes in the shower, and end up with little to no time for breakfast.  Maybe you make time for a bagel with cream cheese (empty carbs and fat), or an Egg Mcmuffin (empty carbs, cholesterol, and fat), or a pastry (empty carbs and sugar).  As delectable as you may find these options, they aren’t the best way to start your day. 

Starting your day with a poor breakfast, or in many cases, no breakfast at all puts your blood-sugar level dangerously low.  What that means is, 4 hours into your day you need an instant sugar fix which will typically come in the form of a donut or pastry or some other unhealthy choice.

Not to mention, getting a healthy meal in your stomach first thing in the morning is a great way to jump start your metabolism for the day.  A higher metabolism means your body will burn more calories at rest, while you are sitting there typing at your desk.  An elevated metabolism that is sustained at high levels is key to weight loss.

The 10 options below are just a few ideas, but there are obviously many more to choose from.  Aim for high protein without the saturated fats.  Look for whole-grain over white breads.  Look for low-fat, low sugar, and high in fiber.

Egg white and turkey breast omelette.  High in protein, low in fat.  Add some vegetables for some extra nutritional value.

Fresh berries, yogurt, granola.  Opt for low-fat yogurt over non-fat (non-fat often makes up for its lack of flavor with sugar).  Soy yogurt is another great option.  Cut up some berries, or other fruit and add some granola cereal, like Kashi Golean Crunch.

Grapefruit with whole-wheat toast & almond butter. Add a little sugar on top of the grapefruit, and it’s actually pretty good. The almond butter is healthier than peanut-butter, with lots of good protein to fill you up.

Fresh fruit salad. Cut up some apples, melons, berries, oranges, pears, bananas, grapes … any or all or whatever your favorite fruits are. Add a little bit of lime or lemon juice. Perfect.

Protein shake with extras. I use soy protein powder, but whey works well too. Blend up with low-fat milk or soy milk, some frozen blueberries, and perhaps some almond butter or oatmeal. That may sound weird, but it’s actually pretty good, and pretty filling. A little ground flax seed works well too.

Eggs with peppers. I’m not a fan of eggs, but many people love them. Egg whites are healthier than whole eggs. Scramble with a little olive oil, red and green bell peppers, maybe broccoli, onions, black pepper. Goes well with whole-wheat toast.

Cottage cheese and fruit. Get low-fat cottage cheese. Add any kind of fruit. Apples, citrus, berries.

Oatmeal, flaxseed, blueberries & almonds. To me, this is the perfect breakfast. Steel-cut oatmeal is probably the healthier choice, but if you are in a hurry, the instant kind will do fine (it doesn’t have as much fiber, but the other ingredients make up for that). After microwaving the oatmeal, add ground flaxseed, frozen blueberries, sliced almonds. You can add a little cinnamon and honey (not a lot) if you’re using the non-instant oatmeal. That’s four power foods, full of fiber and nutrients and protein and good fats, with only a couple of minutes of prep time. And very tasty!

Kashi Golean Crunch. Actually, any whole-grain, high-fiber cereal is a good choice, but I mention this particular one because it’s a favorite of mine. It has a high amount of protein and fiber, low sugar. Add low-fat milk or soy milk (which has 1/3 the saturated fat of 1% milk), perhaps some berries if you like.

Gibb’s muffins & jam. While most muffins you buy at a coffee shop or grocery store are just empty carbs with lots of fat (basically, cake), this is a delicious recipe with lots of fiber and nutrition. (Note: the recipe in the link doesn’t mention it, but it’s actually a recipe from Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James — it’s her husband Gibbs’ recipe). Bake them the night before, and they’re perfect in the morning (and for days to come). A little honey or jam makes them perfect.

How do you make time?  Get yourself up 15 minutes earlier so you can start your day off right.  A small price to pay for starting the day out on a healthy foot.

Via zenhabits.net

Yes….this is real..people actually buy this…

…while we are on the topic of bogus fitness products….I give you, the shake weight.

Butt-toning shoes really work?

To put it bluntly, no, they don’t work.  Apparently, thousands of women think they do. 

From the NY Times:

“To support the claims, the shoemakers each offer company-financed exercise studies suggesting that the shoes produce a higher level of muscle engagement, at least in a controlled research setting.But the studies don’t show whether more engagement leads to meaningful changes in muscle tone or appearance over time. Nor is it clear whether the high level of engagement continues once the walker becomes accustomed to the shoe.”

 

Further, the claim that the shoes offer muscle toning is backed by a single, unpublished study involving just five people.

In fact, it looks like the most effective thing these shoes do is act as a placebo:

“The real effect may come from simple awareness that they are wearing a muscle-activating shoe, causing them to walk more briskly and with purpose.”

The health and fitness field is filled with products like these, making promises that they very obviously have no way of keeping.  Keep your head on straight and don’t fall for the short-cut approach.  You want a great butt?  It’s going to take work in the gym.  Great lower body routine to be posted soon…stay tuned.

Myth Busters

Myth 1: Running on a treadmill is lower impact than running on asphalt.

Running is a high-impact activity.  It doesn’t matter if it’s on a treadmill or asphalt; it’s all the same.  For low impact activities try biking, swimming, or an elliptical machine.

Myth 2:  Doing crunches or using an ab-machine will burn belly fat.

Completely and utterly false.  So many people believe doing ab exercises will give them that six-pack they’ve always wanted.  Truth of the matter is you must burn the layer of fat covering your abdominal muscles before that six-pack becomes visible.  Focus on a healthy balance of cardio and core exercises for optimal results.

Myth 3:  If you aren’t sweating, you aren’t burning calories.

Sweating is not a necessary indicator of physical exertion.  Sweating is the bodies’ physiological response to an increase in body temperature.  It’s completely possible to burn a large number of calories without breaking a sweat.  Walking or light weight training are two great examples.

Myth 4: Machines are safer than free weights.

Not necessarily.  Machines can be set to various settings accounting for height and weight differences.  If you are working out at an awkward angle or setting, you could be doing serious harm to your body.  A coach or trainer would be a great person to decide exactly what setting a machine is best set at for you.

Myth 5: No pain, no gain.

While it is true you should expect at least a little soreness a day or two AFTER working out, you should never experience serious pain WHILE working out.  Pain while working out is an indication something is wrong and you should stop immediately.  Take a little rest, stretch it out, and resume activity.  See if the pain is persistent.  If it is, or increases, get yourself to a doctor for a check-up.

Safe, cheap, effective, natural steroid….

Keep reading…

There is a safe, effective, and natural muscle builder lying within your very own body.   That’s right… it will help your muscles grow faster while increasing muscular tone.  It’s there just waiting to be used, it is just up to YOU to tap this source.  Want to know the secret to this muscle building fuel?

LIFT LEGS.

Many of you out there absolutely despise lifting legs.  It is however, a medically proven fact that lifting legs is essential to reap the biggest rewards from your workouts.  Reason being is that the muscle group in your legs are some of the largest in your body.  When you work this large muscle group (that is often neglected), your body begins producing and releasing more TESTOSTERONE to other muscle groups, thereby allowing you to grow everywhere.  For those of you that have always shunned the idea of lifting with your legs, give it a try for a month or two and watch how your gains respond in other areas.  You don’t really want to be the guy with 18 inch biceps and chopstick legs, do you?  Get out there and give those legs a workout!

Dying to look like that cover model? Think again…

So many women (and to a lesser degree men) look at the cover models on men’s magazines, or fitness magazines, or any other type of publication and allow them to form their thoughts of perfection.  Not only is this potentially damaging from a mental health standpoint, it also sets an individual up for failure.  You do NOT need to look like these people on the magazine to enjoy a happy and healthy life.  Actually, even the people on the magazine don’t look like the people on the magazine in real life.  So much photoshopping and editing has gone into these images that the real-life proportions are completely warped.  Check the video above and let that be your motivation for the day.

On the road? Don’t let that stop you from exercising…

“Hotel Room Workouts” are a great way to keep to a workout plan and stay motivated on the road.  They are almost exclusively body-weight exercises that target your entire body.  The above video is a quick workout plan that gives some basics on these type of exercises.  Feel free to contact us for a more detailed plan.

Don’t fall into that New Years Resolution crowd….

You know the type.  January 1st they are so gung-ho about staying healthy, eating right, keeping fit.  They go all out for 3 weeks, are feeling good about themselves, then all of the sudden, BAM.  Out of nowhere comes the first inkling of burnout, de-motivation, and downright laziness.  These are natural human emotions, however, it is COMPLETELY within your power to overcome them.  Some tips to avoiding the burnout and how to turn the  annual new years resolution into a life-long plan…

1.  Set goals.  Start with goals that are more easily accomplished, then progress on to long-term goals.  Positive reinforcement is a great motivator, so keep a goal sheet handy and continually check off your accomplishments.

2.  Start slowly.  Rushing into fitness is a sure fire way to experience worlds of pain, frustration, and possibly injury.  Take it slow, build your strength up, shake off the rust, and then go full-force.

3.  Variety.  Instead of making a goal such as, “I want to run 3 miles everyday”.  Try thinking along the lines of, “I want to do 45 minutes of cardio everyday”.  This will give you the option to run, bike, swim, play tennis, etc.  Keep variety up to keep burnout low.

4.  Have fun.  It’s commonsense that if you like what you are doing, you are more likely to do it.  Find activities you actually like.  If you hate swimming, don’t force yourself to swim.  There are plenty of exercises out there to keep you in shape and sticking to your resolutions.

5.  Make physical activity a daily routine.    There are always a million and one reasons not to do something.  Not enough time, too tired, something else came up, etc.  Schedule your workout as you would schedule a hair appointment, or doctor’s visit, or business meeting.  Put it on your schedule and STICK TO IT.

6.  Put it on paper.  Write your goals down and put them on a piece of paper than you can look at everyday.  If you ever feel the urge to skip that day’s exercise, just look at the paper and remind yourself how you felt when you first wrote those goals down.  Don’t disappoint yourself.

7.  Seek Support.  Invite a friend along.  Join a club.  Join a team. Take a class.  Fitness is more fun and engaging if you are doing it with a partner, not to mention there is also another level of accountability when you are working out with a friend.

8.  Track your progress.  People who see the fruits of their hard work are more likely to continue with that hard work.  Write your weight down, note your decreasing waist line, chart your strength increases, do whatever you have to do to make your progress be known.  Knowing that progress is being made is the greatest motivator of all.

9.  Reward yourself.  Take the time to relax after your workout sessions.  You should feel tired, yet cleansed.  Congratulate yourself on doing something for the positive; something that will help you live a long and healthy life.  This is your life, you deserve to live long, happy, and healthy.  External rewards are also effective.  When you reach a milestone, reward yourself with a new pair of shoes, Ipod, or any other item you have been wanting.

10.  Be flexible.  The number 1 thing that kills a person’s desire to add health and fitness into their lives is their reaction to road bumps.  Everyone will hit a period where they don’t want to go to the gym, or they get sick, or work is just too much, and they have to take a week off.  Taking an extended period like this off will often kill even the most determined individuals.  The key is to realize you are not perfect, nor do you have to be.  Be flexible and realize that you will need a break like this every now and then BUT it does not mean you should give up on your goals completely.  Force yourself to get back into the gym after an extended break and things will get back to smooth sailing once again.

Improving Athletic Performance with Plyometrics

Plyometrics is an exercise type that is useful in producing fast-twitch muscle fibers, powerful movments, and improve the functions of the neuro-muscular nervous system.  Simply put, they help you achieve better in sport.  In short, plyometrics load and contract a muscle in rapid sequence.  They require strength, elasticity, and innervation of the muscle to jump higher, throw farther, run faster, or hit harder.  Plyometric training can increase the speed at which a muscle contracts, thereby increasing athletic performance on the field. 

A training regimine that incorporates weight training AND plyometrics has been shown to be the most successful for athletes.  Try working some of these plyometric exercises into your workout plan today and watch how quickly your body begins coverting strength to speed. 

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