Tag Archive for Exercise

Did the dog eat your workout shoes? Scarred from Gym Class?

acroI’m a tough love – no excuses type person when it comes to doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  If you need a kick in the pants and some “how-to’s” to make Daily Workouts a part of your life, this Post is for you.  (FYI: I LOVE kicks in the pants, and make sure I get one most days of the week.  The ability to be consistent doesn’t just happen, you know.)

(That pic is Macy and her boyfriend Will practicing Acro Yoga.  Don’t try this at home without a professional!  Other pics: Amanda and Ian ending summer soft ball season; Shelby and friend Christy just climbed a volcano mountain; Meg doing a handstand; Mark lifting.)

When it comes to working out, the facts are, most of us don’t, and it’s killing us.  Here’s some stats:

* only 1 in 3 children get any physical activity in a day

* less than 5% of adults get 30 minutes of physical activity every day

* the CDC predicts every single chronic disease measured will increase in numbers between now, and 2030.  we’re talking heart disease, diabetes, cancer, auto immune, neurological, everything.  every chronic disease is positively impacted by regular exercise.

* body weight, which has climbed for decades, is predicted to continue escalating through at least 2030.

In other words, it’s time to get serious about making exercise, or movement, as normal and routine as brushing our teeth, because our life, and our children’s lives, depend on it.

Don’t worry, I know you’re busy! I know you have jobs and commutes andmanda ian sb kids and injuries.  I know some of you hate exercising, or getting sweaty, or having other people see you exercising or getting sweaty.  That’s okay!  That’s a little hurdle to jump over, and you can do that!

I had a nutrition client who told me we could never, ever talk about exercise, because she had “exercise induced anxiety”, and the mere mention could send her into a panic attack.

I got her moving, I can get you moving too.

Did you catch the word, “moving”?  Because that was important.  Start using that word, because it’s more important that we move every day than that we do formal exercise.  Our body was created to move and be physically active, not to do Dodge Ball or Hip Hop or run an Ultra, although, if you love doing those things – Good For You!  Keep it up, that’s great!

I brought up Dodge Ball because it’s from Gym Class, and Gym Class creates a lot of nightmares, or permanent brain scarring, for many.

volcano boardingIf that’s you, work on deleting those memories.  Moving every day doesn’t mean shame, embarrassment, and being the last one picked.  Moving’s just moving, and it feels so good!

Here’s some suggestions:

* Buy a Fit Bit, Up band, or any of those great trackers.  It’s so fun to watch your steps accumulate!  If I get towards the end of the day and I’m not at 10,000 steps, my brain clicks on to “solutions to get to 10,000”.  Seriously.  I jog in place while I’m walking my little dog, I water my plants, I walk down the driveway and back, I suggest a walk after dinner;  I’ve even run in place in the bathroom because I’m at 9800 and I have to feel that 10,000 buzz on my wrist before bed.

Apparently, I’m not the only one.  One consistent statistic that’s come from the trackers is that they do inspire people to get up and move more.  I think they’re worth the investment, which at this point, isn’t that big.  The cheaper bands start around $50, which is a lot cheaper than the average Northern Virginia hospital stay, which is around $9,000, or paying for statin or diabetes drugs every month.

* Find something that’s fun. Please, don’t life weights (yet!) if you hate to lift weights.  You do need muscle resistance, but there’s always yoga, pilates, biking or spin, home videos or You Tubes with planks and wall squats.   Does boxing look fun?  Marshal arts? Zumba?  They are fun! You can even do them with your kids – bam!  2 birds with one stone.

* Make a date to workout with a friend.  Call her/him, state a time and a place, and then put it on your calendar.  When we make a commitment to someone else, we’re more likely to follow through.

* Too tired to workout?  Listen:  Working Out Gives You Energy – Honest.  It’s so hard to convince people who don’t workout that this is true, but it is.  Here’s the trick:  find something Fun, and Not Too Hard.  That’s how you start.

Heck, even for fit and trained people, we need to have days of “Not Too Hard”.  What does that mean?  It’s different for all of us, and it’s different for individuals on a day to day basis.

“Not too hard” for a Professional Athlete is completely different for the meg handstandrecreational athlete.   “Not too hard” for anyone can be a day to day determination.  Quit stressing about definitions; it’s not Gym Class and no one’s judging you.  Focus on yourself, and doing what’s good and healthy for your body and mind.

Didn’t sleep last night?  Feel a cold coming on?  Better work out “not too hard”; but don’t skip moving!  A little movement or exercise stimulates our immune system.  Too much suppresses it, which isn’t always a bad thing unless you’re on the verge of getting sick, or you’re exhausted.

Feeling blue? Studies show that exercise is just as effective as medication for Major Depressive Disorder. Bonus?  No bad side effects and no withdraw symptoms.

I finished a great book called SPARK, and the author presents very compelling evidence that for some, depression/anxiety is actually CAUSED by not exercising.  He presents studies that show our brain and body were created to thrive through movement.

* Harness the power of group energy, or in other words, join a gym or a club.  Keep Reading!!  It’s not scary – honest.  I’ve worked in gyms for 28 years now, and I’ve heard it all:  everyone’s looking at me, everyone’s got friends, there’s too many cliques, blah blah blah blah blah.

Stop it.  You’re wrong.  (And if you’re actually right and you’re at the rare Snobby, Unfriendly gym, find another one!)  Here’s the facts:

Most people at the gym are getting in and getting out asap.  There’s a nursery. There’s trainers to teach you how to use the equipment. There’s several activities to chose from.  Some people use the gym as their social scene, but not most people, but so what?  NO ONE is judging you.  Everyone’s there just worrying about themselves, like you should be.

Fear of judgement or looking dumb is a personal insecurity that’ll keep you from doing many fun things in life.   Don’t allow it.

* Group classes or small group training are incredibly beneficial:  you get to absorb and use the energy of the other people and/or the instructor.

I give off a ton of good energy!  So do a bunch of people who take my class.  Energy is very real; we’re made out of protons and electrons which are atoms with negative and positive charges.

Quantum physics tells us – through very real, quantifiable science – that our personal energy is real. Ever walked into a room and known immediately that “something was wrong”?  Or conversely, felt someone’s joy?  Of course you have!

That’s what it’s like in a group fitness room, or in any fun group, even a group in someone’s home or a church or a community center.  Throw off your fear ( you are a grown-up now, right? ) and join in!

* Pack your bag the night before.  For some, this is critical.  Mark and I do this every single night, and we’re dedicated exercisers.  We do it because we know our mornings are busy enough; taking 5 minutes to gather our workout clothes, and anything we need for a shower and to change into afterwords, really makes a big difference.

* Sometimes, my daughters have slept in their workout clothes!  That way they can just roll out of bed and get to it.

* Tell yourself Positive Statements about exercising:  “I can’t wait to feel good and alert and ready for my day.”  or  “That lunch time walk/workout will make me so awake in the afternoon.”  or  “I can’t wait to walk/workout after work today, I’ve been sitting so long, and I’ll avoid the rush hour traffic.”  or “I’m setting a great example for my kids.”

* If you like to “go it alone”, either on walks or stationary machines, then read a book, listen to music/podcasts/radio shows, study, or watch movies or TV series. (We have a guy at our gym who uses bungie cords to strap a DVD player on the cardio machines, and he just goes to town.)  Look forward to the time because you “get” to do these things.

markbicepcurlHere’s the bottom line:  Sitting’s the New Smoking.  Inactivity is literally killing us.  Our kids are predicted to be even bigger and sicker than we are.  Moving, every single day, is undeniably vital to our physical and mental well-being.  We’re grown-ups.  We can make ourselves do what we know we’re supposed to do.  We have a brain: we can make ourselves enjoy exercise if we choose too, so choose to.

If you can fit in something formal, like a class, do it.  If you can fit in walking up and down the stairs in your building 3 times during the day, do it.  If you can take your dog on 2 big walks, do it.  If you need to strap a baby on your back and push more in the stroller, do it.  Just quit letting your days go by without moving.  Pledge to yourself right now, that TODAY, you move.

Mark has a great phrase:  “No one ever regrets a workout.”  That’s so true!

Reasons To Exercise You Didn’t Even Know About, and How To Fit It In.

debbie (27)Who loves to workout?  I do!  I have plenty of friends and family who do, and I work with several clients who do.

Even if you don’t, READ THIS POST.  Exercise, or more accurately, moving, is so crucial to a normal healthy brain and body, that science tells us not moving is probably more unhealthy than smoking.

Exercise balances and normalizes our testosterone and estrogen.  Men, you want more testosterone as you age?  Exercise.  Women: bad periods, rough PMS, menopause?  Exercise exercise exercise.  Moving our muscles and stressing them, reduces the inflammatory conditions of these cyclical changes.  Ever been PMSing, worked out, and then felt so. much. better.?

More benefits: exercise, any exercise that makes our muscle move and feel a little stress, causes the muscle cells to make special proteins that go through our blood, into our brain and GROW IT.

Parents, this applies to kids too.

When our muscles move, they create a protein called BDNF ( brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor).  BDNF literally goes to the brain neurons, and waters and fertilizes them.

When our muscles move, our neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, GABA) are “balanced”.  The percent of studies showing that exercise reduces anxiety and depression better than every single drug on the market?  About 100%.  With no negative side effects.

As a matter of fact, looking at us biologically and ancestrally, we’ve been created to move (forage/hunt for food, shelter, mates) to stimulate productive brain activity.  Moving makes us smarter and better able to cope with life.

Several studies show that if we want to learn new skills or facts, exercise first.  It stimulates pathways that allow us to build memories/learn in our brain.  There’s a caveat though. If you think you’ll do your learning while you exercise, say, studying on the elliptical or treadmill ( one of my preferred methods when I went to Nutritional Therapy school), keep the exercise “steady state”, and not anaerobic.

Exercise that’s too hard temporarily shuttles nutrients away from our learning centers; exercise that’s easily doable increases nutrients to the learning centers.  That’s just a word of caution on learning while exercising, not a warning against hard exercise, because the benefits of hard exercise are numerous.

Or not.  It depends on how you feel about it.

Here we get to exercise and stress.  I said that of the thousands of studies comparing all the drugs on the market to exercise for relief from anxiety and depression, exercise wins every time.  Hands down.

When we feel “stress”, we’re actually feeling the results from a whole bunch of stress “chemicals”.  (we’re a chemistry set, not a math equation).  Whether our stress is real or imaginary, from traffic or a fight with a spouse or an actual threat to our lives, the chemistry is the same.

Our adrenal glands release epinephrine and cortisol to prepare us to physically defend or save ourselves.  Our heart rate increases.  Our blood pressure increases.  Our digestion stops.  Our arteries constrict.  Our muscle cells dump their magnesium (magnesium relaxes us, but the brain thinks we need to be tense), and **** cells become Insulin Resistant.

When cortisol is in the blood, FAT CAN NOT BE BURNED, JUST STORED.  In this state,our body actually tears apart muscle tissue and converts it to glucose/sugar to burn instead of using the fat in our butt.  

We need to manage our stress, and exercise does that! Most of the time.

Unfortunately, some people are so scared of exercise, so adverse to a whole – imaginary – negative scenario they’re created in their minds, that they have “Exercise Induced Anxiety”.  I stole that from one of my clients who used that term to describe herself.

I get it.  Gym class was traumatic for a lot of us.  It left some scars.  But I know former athletes who don’t like to workout anymore either.  Their younger athletic years were formed by coaches and teammates telling them what to do and how.  Independently exercising, which is pretty much Adult Exercise, isn’t appealing, or motivating, so they don’t do it.

The latest stats from the CDC on who exercises show us that only 20.4% of adults over 18 exercise regularly.

No wonder we have 70% overweight and on pharmaceutical drugs in this country!

What to do? Be determined. Set your mind that you’re going to move every day and you’re going to like it.   Honestly.  It’s that simple.  Oh, and have a plan.  Write it down.  Use alarms and calendars and verbalize to friends and family your intentions.

If you already work out every day, you’re golden.  If you struggle with with either fitting exercise in or moving at all, listen up.

1) Pick something that doesn’t sound scary:

-walk with a friend or a kid or a dog

-play a game in the yard with your kids

-set an alarm on your phone and walk up and down the stairs (in your office or home) 4 or 5 times a day

-set an alarm on your phone and do a wall squat or plank 4 or 5 times a day

2) Pick something fun:

-join Zumba

-join a weight lifting class

-join a beginner yoga class

-join a beginner group fitness class

3) Set Your Self Up For Success

-pack your clothes the night before

-pack a bag and water bottle the night before

-pick a sport or a class or an activity that’s appropriate for your fitness level and not something you’re going to be so sore and fatigued afterwards that you never want to come back

-put it on your calendar, and then stick to the schedule. If you have kids that need to be included, either driving them to the gym or having them with you, CONSIDER THAT.  It takes time to get kids in the car – out of the car – into the gym. Learn to become a Time Master, and teach them how to do it too.  That’s a pretty crucial skill to have.

Honestly, we can’t afford NOT to exercise or move.  Our body was designed by God for us to move.

Want a great book to inspire you to get off your butt and sweat a little it?  Spark, by John J. Ratey, MD.  It’s loaded with information that even I’ve never seen before, and I read everything about exercise that I can get my hands on.

One more reason to exercise:  Exercise GIVES us energy, it doesn’t steal it or drain it, it creates it.   Who doesn’t want more energy?

PMS Isn’t Inevitable; Conquer It And Lose Weight Too

moms warpathWhen I meet with clients and listen to their worries, there’s a lot of subjects that come up often:  weight, compulsive eating, bloat/stomach issues, headaches/migraines, allergies, pain,  etc.  Something that doesn’t usually get brought up until I ask is PMS; most women have it, but it’s thought of as so NORMAL, that unless they’re smack in the middle of it, it’s not mentioned.

Just like I say Bloat’s Not Normal, and it’s our body yelling at us that something’s wrong;  PMS is the same situation.  Years of advertising has convinced us that when we have PMS, we’re just low on Advil/Tylenol/Diuretics/Midol.  OMG, that couldn’t be further from the truth!   POOR HEALTH IS NOT A DRUG DEFICIENCY.  EVER. No one needs to suffer from PMS.  I have 5 women in my household; we don’t use those meds (they’re not even in the house anymore), and we don’t suffer with: Cravings, headaches, low energy, cramps, or the low moods associated with PMS.  PMS ISN’T a Medicine Deficiency, it’s a NUTRITIONAL Deficiency, probably because of both diet and poor digestion.

Good news, you can fix this 🙂nervous breakdown

The biggest links with PMS and nutrition is  (1) too much sugar  (2) vitamin B deficiency  (3) magnesium deficiency  (4)  Omega 3 to Omega 6 imbalance.

Thinking that can’t be you because you take vitamins?  Think again, because if you had all the Bs and Mag you needed, you wouldn’t be having PMS.   What’s the link?  The SHORT explanation is that when blood sugar levels are high (use a glucometer, but if you’re eating ANY flour, sugar, or drinking wine, there’s a 99% chance they’re too high), it takes a lot of B’s and magnesium to metabolize those carbs.  It takes 45 molecules of Mag to metabolize 1 molecule of sugar!  That metabolism also burns through your Bs.  Big up and down swings of your blood sugar actually decreases oxygen and blood to your ovaries ( thank you Cortisol). That’s not good!

Remember, getting nutrients INTO THE CELLS takes a LOT of CHEMISTRY.  (We’re a chemistry set, not a math equation).  High sugar diets mess up the acidity of the stomach ( it’s supposed to be very acidic).  Stomach’s that aren’t acidic enough can’t properly digest proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.  That’s why all those antacid boxes have warnings on them about pneumonia and fractures.  Less acidity always means poor digestion and nutrient deficiencies.  Always.

Our body isn’t made from medicines, and it’s sure not made from junk food, it’s made from nutrients in Real Whole Foods that get digested and absorbed.  Period.  When there’s Health Issues, look there.

Here’s some food for thought if you’re struggling with PMS ( follow these suggestions and weight comes off too).

1) ditch ALL grain flour, sugar, and alcohol ( liquid donuts), focus on plenty of good fats, quality meats, TONS of vegetables, some fruit, some nuts, some dairy if you tolerate it.

2) add B6, B12, and a B complex from a Real Food source, NOT SYNTHETIC.  Learn the HUGE differences here.

3) add magnesium citrate or glycinate, 400-600 mgs/day; try to take your minerals in the afternoon/evening because they’re better absorbed, and both vitamins and minerals absorb better with a meal.

4) if you have bloat/reflux/GERD etc, you’re not digesting or absorbing well.  Get in touch with me.

5) exercise; this doesn’t have to be a killer workout (unless you want that), but the links between moving, hormones, and mood is HUGE.

6) take a good Omega 3 fish oil, you don’t need Omega 6, that’s inflammatory and we get plenty of O-6s in our diet.  O-3 is harder to get.

7) evening primrose oil, 2 – 500 mgs daily  (fats need to be taken with meals)

Be a Real Whole Foodie.

PMS, Bone Health, Women’s Issues?

debbie (43)Went to a Woman’s Health Seminar yesterday and it was excellent:)    We heard about PMS, Menopause, Weight Gain, Bone Health, and the (lack) of sexual desire so many women feel  that it’s the subject of a zillion jokes and pretty much accepted as “normal”.

Here’s the facts though:  PMS, bad Menopause symptoms, Weight Gain, Bone deterioration, and lack of sexual desire isn’t normal and you don’t need Magical Pills to help you get past it.

Once again, it’s ALL ABOUT DIET AND LIFESTYLE.  Your health, your mood, YOUR HORMONES, they’re the result of the Food You Eat, How You Manage Your Stress, Sleep, and Exercise.  There were no Big Reveals, Special Programs, or, like I said above, Magic Pills.   That’s okay though, because Your Health Is In Your Hands:  you have power and control over your physical and mental health, you just need to start exerting it!

PMS:  Low B vitamins and low magnesium stores will cause cramps and moodiness.  If you eat tons of carbs, you’ll burn through your B’s and Mag stores just processing/metabolizing the flours and the sugars.  You can supplement, but if your diet is Oatmeal/cereal/bagel forPMS breakfast, Starbucks midmorning, bagel/sandwich/pasta for lunch,  carby snack mid-afternoon, and then pasta/bread for dinner, then WINE,   there’s NO CORRECTING for that level of refined, processed carbohydrate ( whole wheat, whole grain, whatever, they’re reduced to Glucose/Sugar in your stomach.)

Menopause?   Some other countries don’t even have a word for that.  We’re special because we have some of the worst Peri – Menopause Symptoms In The World.  If you’ve spent your whole life eating  processed carbs, trans fats, and chemicals; drinking wine several nights a week, snacking enough that Insulin is never turned off; not managing your stress so that Cortisol is made Constantly – which means Raw Ingredients for other hormones go to Cortisol – then there is no supplement/pharmaceutical protocol that’s going to fix you.  Changing your diet will though.  So will adding exercise, going to bed hours before midnight, and managing stress.  Seriously.

Bone Health?  American’s eat more calcium, take more Vitamin D, more Bone Building Supplements, than ANY OTHER COUNTRY.  We have MORE osteoporotic fractures than ANY OTHER COUNTRY.  You can’t supplement your way out of a Carby Diet, Unmanaged Stress, Wine Every Night, Little Sleep, and No Exercise.   Just like Weight is ALL ABOUT THE HORMONES, so is your mood, your health, and your BONES.  If you have Glucose in the blood stream  ALL THE TIME ( see diet described above), bone health will be greatly affected.

Sexual Desire?  Doesn’t happen when you’re exhausted, adrenally depleted, have a slow thyroid, a liver that’s clogged, an unhappy attitude about your body, and loads of cortisol.  Again, there’s no Pill or Magic Formula to fix this.   But Lifestyle Works Every Time – honest.

We’ve got ESPN on this morning ( If my husbands home, it’s on.  It seems to have a goodbone fracture with drugs calming effect on him as he doesn’t even sit and watch it, he just enjoys having it in the background.)  So far there’ve been commercials for Doritos ( super happy people), Beer (super happy people), Prilosec ( Happy guy in front of a PILE of food;  Warning stayed on the screen for the duration:  Do Not Take More Than 14 Days.  That’s because it RUINS DIGESTION, REDUCES STOMACH ACID, and INHIBITS NUTRIENT ABSORPTION – it says that on the package too.) and then Cialis (happy people).

If you live your life according to Media Advertising,  this morning’s message is this:  Junk food is wonderful and makes you happy,  Alcohol is wonderful and makes your life better, and Drugs will help you with all the problems you encounter from your Junk Food and Alcohol consumption.

But that’s not true, at all.  Not for men, not for women, and not for children.

Your lifestyle choices Every Single Day are what make or break your health,.. every single day.  Take control of your life:  eliminate the processed grains and sugars,  read your labels so that you can avoid trans fats and chemicals too.  Don’t assume ANY FOOD that comes in a box or bag is healthy, even if it’s in the Health Section.   Do you drink Wine or Beer several nights a week?  Think of alcohol as Liquid Doughnuts, quit fooling yourself that there’s some health benefits, because there’s not.  Treat alcohol as a VERY OCCASIONAL treat; did you know that a serving size of wine is FOUR OUNCES????   Alcohol ruins stomach mucas/gut function, destroys the liver (which compromises about 60% of our Total Daily Calorie Burn), influences the body to convert everything consumed with the alcohol to be converted to fat, induces insulin to be released, damages neurons in the brain and I could go on and on and on, but let’s leave it at this:  Alcohol’s not healthy.

Sleep is IMPORTANT, and lack of sleep does a number on your hormones that lead to all kinds of illness and disease.  Make getting to bed and falling asleep – way before midnight – a priority.   Exercise is IMPORTANT,  you don’t have to do Cross Fit, or Interval Training, but you should move EVERY DAY.  Yoga / dance classes /  walking / 10 minutes on a bike and 10 minutes of lifting / whatever… it’s all good and your mind and body NEED it.    Stress Management:  Practice this.  Read about it, learn about it, focus on it.  If you live a life where stress in unavoidable, you need to learn mental and physical tricks to keep your Cortisol from constantly flooding your blood stream.   Think that’s impossible because  your life is so stressful?  Other people manage it, you can too.  It takes forethought, practice, and effort, just like planning/shopping/cooking and eating well.  But it’s totally do-able.

Our health is in our hands, from PMS, to Osteoporosis, to GERD, to Heart Health, to Diabetes, Cancer, Auto-Immune and everything else.    Practice the habits and actions that lead to Good Health, Good Hormones, and a Good Immune System.  Eat healthy fats and proteins, tons of vegetables, some fruit, some nuts and seeds, some whole fat dairy( if your stomach agrees).  Exercise or move every day.  Go to bed at a decent time.  Practice stress management techniques.  Drink plenty of water.  Avoid foods and people that are toxic ( some people need to be “mentally” avoided if you can’t avoid them physically).  Take your power and use it.    You can do this!