Category Archives: Exercise

More Isn’t Necessarily Better

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If your goal is to lose weight and maintain optimal health and fitness, the quality of your exercise and diet regimen matters more than the quantity, says Skidmore College exercise scientist Paul Arciero.

And he has the results to prove it.

In a paper published by The Journal of Applied Physiology, Arciero and several colleagues report the clear benefits of a multi-dimensional exercise regimen that includes resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, stretching (including yoga or pilates), and endurance exercise. Add moderate amounts of protein regularly throughout your day, and you’ll be well on your way toward decreasing total and abdominal fat, increasing lean body mass, and achieving optimal levels for blood pressure, blood glucose, and insulin.

Dividing his subjects randomly into three groups, Arciero conducted a 16-week trial in which all subjects consumed the same amount of whey protein — 60 grams daily — but exercised differently. One group was sedentary, another was called on to perform intense resistance training four times per week, and the third followed a multidimensional regimen that included resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, stretching led by a yoga instructor, and endurance exercise.

When the trial ended, Arciero found that those who had followed the multidimensional regimen showed the greatest health improvements, including the greatest reductions in body weight, total and abdominal fat mass, waist circumference, and blood glucose. In addition, this group experienced the greatest increase in percentage of lean body mass.

Interestingly, all groups showed improvements, even those who maintained a sedentary lifestyle during the period and simply ate the assigned daily regimen of 60 grams of whey protein. That finding supports an earlier study by Arciero’s team that found increasing the amount of protein in one’s diet to as much as 35 percent will tend to decrease total and abdominal fat.

More independent research that supports the Take Shape For Life/Medifast program I coach for. That’s why I am such a strong proponent.

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Shake That Booty

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New ways to get and stay healthy are always in the spotlight as more than 30 percent of Americans are classified as obese, according to the CDC. “Functional fitness,” or workouts that incorporate strength training to make activities of daily life easier, has been around for years but is becoming more and more prevalent, especially marketed towards older adults. While lifting weights or going for a run can be a great workout, they focus on working muscles independently. Therefore, you may be able to run six miles but still throw your back out when lifting a suitcase into the overhead compartment. Functional fitness helps muscles work together in tandem, incorporating balance and coordination and can also help promote weight loss.

There are gyms that offer such training but you don’t have to leave your living room to begin a functional training routine. Check out the videos for exercises for beginners that will work out your muscles and increase your stamina and extend your life.

Important Habits of Happy, Healthy, and Successful Individuals

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Why are some people better at life than others? they seem to have it all, wealth, healthy, and a bounty of other blessings.  What’s their secret?
It’s no secret. These individuals simply follow a set of habits that positively affect their lives in all areas.   Want to know what those habits are?
Happy, Healthy, Successful people:
1. Don’t hold grudges.
2. Think outside of the box.
3. Go by a routine and make exercise a part of it. It takes practice to develop healthy habits and stick with them. Once you do, your internal foundation will be strong.
4. Have a support system, thereby not wasting time with negative or toxic people.
5. Don’t care about what other people think. Does a tiger lose sleep over the opinion of sheep?
6. Don’t people please.
7. See difficult and challenging situations as opportunities for personal growth.
8. Consider handling rejection a skill and are resilient.
9. Make time for themselves. Whether it’s getting eight hours of sleep every night, finding 15 minutes to read the newspaper in peace or an hour to go to the gym, they make it a priority — just like everything else. When you take care of yourself, you have a bigger impact on others.
10. Are spiritual. They set aside time each day for reflection through yoga or meditation.
11. Practice deep breathing.
12. Know there isn’t such a thing as “having it all,” and they’re happy about that. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place for them otherwise?
13. Don’t permit Fear to hold them back. They’re ready to take risks.
14. Know how to say “NO,” and don’t hold back. These people have learned to set boundaries. Plenty of them.
15. Learned a great deal from other people whom they admire. Either they had a great mentor, or they took note of how those they aspired to be like handled various situations.
16. Follow their inner guidance. Not only do they have a vision, but they follow it.
17. Give without expecting anything in return.
18. Aren’t pretentious or conceited.
19. Authentically believe in what they’re doing. Passion is what drives them.
20. Don’t complain.
21. Live by their core values in both their professional and personal lives.
22. Are happy to swim against the tide.
23. Finish what they start.
24. Don’t compare themselves to other people.
25. Make health a priority. This includes physical, mental, emotional health and how they treat their bodies.
26. Advocate for their own health.
27. Put God or a higher power first in their lives.
28. Focus on relationships. If you aren’t right with those you love and who love you, then nothing else will compensate for that lack.
29. Spend time enjoying nature.
30. Want everyone to succeed, too.

 

When Exercise Goes Horribly Wrong…

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Occasionally, we fail to listen to our bodies as we exercise and we develop an injury.  A fast, effective, non-toxic way to heal is through essential oils.  Here are just a few oils and what they do in regards to sports and exercise related injuries.

Basil: muscle spasms, carpal tunnel

Birch: cartilage injury, muscle aches, tendonitis, inflammation, joint pain

Clary Sage: muscle fatigue

Clove: muscle aches, muscle pain, scrapes

Coriander: muscle tears, muscle tone, stiffness

Cypress: carpal tunnel, varicose veins, muscle fatigue

Eucalyptus: overworked muscles, tennis elbow, inflammation, poor circulation

Fennel:  bruises,blood clots

Frankincense: infection

Geranium: bruising

Helichrysum: bone bruise, bleeding, cuts, tennis elbow

Lavender: blisters, inflammation, itching, open wounds

Lemongrass: frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel, sprains, muscle strain, tissue repair, open wounds

Marjoram: muscle aches, muscle fatigue, muscle spasms, muscle tone, sprains, tendinitis, muscle tension

Melaleuca:  inflammation, rash

Oregano: muscle aches

Peppermint:  cramps/charley horse, muscle ache, muscle fatigue

Roman Chamomile: muscle spasms

Rosemary: fatigue , inflammation

White Fir: cartilage inflammation, muscle fatigue, muscle pain, overexercised muscles, sprains

Wintergreen: joint pain, muscle tone, pain, rotator cuff issues

 

 

The Ins and Outs of Exercise

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The best way to keep your body and mind in top shape is to be physically active. Almost everyone, no matter what his or her physical condition, can engage in at least some form of bodily exercise. To be most efficient, your exercise regime should follow the guidelines for your age and overall health status.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. This includes exercising. Some of the benefits of exercising include:

Builds aerobic power

Reduces blood pressure.

Lowers Type 2 diabetes risk.

Maintains immune functioning.

Keeps bones strong.

Builds muscle mass.

Improves breathing. 

Boosts your energy. 

Reduces the risk of arthritis.

Improves sex life

Brings about better sleep

Improves mood.

Lowers anxiety.

Boosts memory

Lowers dementia risk.

There is a downside.  You can exercise TOO much and this is not at all beneficial. Certain activities carry increased risks for heart attack, especially among habitually sedentary persons with known or hidden heart disease who engage in unaccustomed vigorous physical activity.  Some other dangers that can occur with over-exercising include:

Increased heart issues

Increased gastrointestinal distress such as heartburn or diarrhea

May develop gastrointestinal bleeding

Musculoskeletal injury

Exacerbation of Arrhythmia

Sudden cardiac death

Myocardial infarction

Rhabdomyolysis

Bronchoconstriction

Exercise is vital for good health. Be smart and be safe while exercising.  Follow these 11 guidelines for any exercise regime or event.

  1. Take five to 10 minutes to warm up and cool down properly.
  2. Plan to start slowly and boost your activity level gradually unless you are already exercising frequently and vigorously.
  3. Be aware that training too hard or too often can cause overuse injuries like stress fractures, stiff or sore joints and muscles, and inflamed tendons and ligaments. Sports prompting repetitive wear and tear on certain parts of your body — such as swimming (shoulders), jogging (knees, ankles, and feet), tennis (elbows) — are often overuse culprits, too. A mix of different kinds of activities and sufficient rest is safer.
  4. Listen to your body. Hold off on exercise when you’re sick or feeling very fatigued. Cut back if you cannot finish an exercise session, feel faint after exercise or fatigued during the day, or suffer persistent aches and pains in joints after exercising. These are indications that you are over-exercising and are in danger of developing an exercise injury or health condition.
  5. If you stop exercising for a while, drop back to a lower level of exercise initially. If you’re doing strength training, for example, lift lighter weights or do fewer reps or sets.
  6. For most people, simply drinking plenty of water is sufficient. But if you’re working out especially hard or doing a marathon or triathlon, choose drinks that replace fluids plus essential electrolytes.
  7. Choose clothes and shoes designed for your type of exercise. Replace shoes every six months as cushioning wears out.
  8. For strength training, good form is essential. Initially use no weight, or very light weights, when learning the exercises. Never sacrifice good form by hurrying to finish reps or sets, or struggling to lift heavier weights.
  9. Exercising vigorously in hot, humid conditions can lead to serious overheating and dehydration. Slow your pace when the temperature rises above 70°F. On days when the thermometer is expected to reach 80°F, exercise during cooler morning or evening hours or at an air-conditioned gym. Watch for signs of overheating, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, faintness, cramps, or palpitations.
  10. Dress properly for cold-weather workouts to avoid hypothermia. Depending on the temperature, wear layers you can peel off as you warm up. Don’t forget gloves.
  11. Exercise with your gender, age, health issues, and physical capacity in mind.  A child can run for hours and not tire. A 50 year old man cannot. A mature male body can jog 10 miles and not tear chest muscle. A mature female body cannot. Be aware and exercise accordingly.

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E=mc² : the Health Equation

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We all know the formula E=mc².  Did you know it applies to your success at losing weight, gaining muscle, and reshaping your body?

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Let’s break it down.

m= Manipulation of muscle, or exercise, is great but it can’t stand alone as a means to reshape the body.  Muscles need food to grow, stretch, and define.  Not just any food either. It has to be the RIGHT food building blocks, particularly lean proteins.  Carbs won’t do it, fats certainly won’t do it, and sugars…well, we all know that those are useless for anything other than a quick energy burst followed closely by a dramatic plunge in your blood sugar levels and a drop in your energy reserves. No, muscles NEED lean proteins and they need them immediately BEFORE you tax those muscles in order for the protein to be put to optimal use. Additionally, your muscles need fuel RIGHT AFTER you tax them.  They will use the protein you consume to get through a tough workout or labor intense job, but once the work is over, those muscles need MORE food.  To keep those muscles working long after you have actively stressed them, they require fiber, at least 1 1/2 cups of healthy fiber. The fiber feeds your muscles and continues to fuel them as they recover from the workout you’ve given them.

Here’s what happens inside that muscle you are working so strenuously.

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You need protein to provide energy to the muscles as you tear them apart in exercise and fiber to fuel them as they begin the repair process.  ** Not only does fueling immediately before and right after a workout aid your muscles during exercise but it keeps your muscles from pulling vital resources from other parts of your body like your internal organs or brain.

c²= Consumption squared is the foundation of a healthy body. What goes in should be sufficient to effectively feed and fuel your brain, your blood, your muscles, your bones, and your internal and external organs. Yes, you need to feed your skin (the largest organ of the body). That being said, quality and quantity are important in this equation. Foods high in sugar, fat, and simple carb construction are not good for your body as a fuel source.  They burn off too quickly and the body only manages to use a small portion of them before they are expended. Foods low on the GI (Glycemic index), i.e. lean protein, dark green veggies, complex carbs, high fibers, are great for the body as they pack a whole lot of fuel and energy into a small package. These foods also take longer to get through the body, thus allowing the body to use the majority of these fuel sources to build muscle, repair the body, and strengthen organs. A diet high in low GI foods produces much less waste (urine and feces) than a diet high in simple carbs, sugars, and fats. But you can go overboard here as well.  The body is only capable of extracting a certain percentage of what it needs from what it is fed at any one time.  Eating too much of a good thing (low GI foods) results in the body having to store what it can’t use right away.  That means the fat cells and the liver (the body’s storage units) receive the excess. When you are trying to lose weight, feeding your fat cells is the LAST thing you want to do. So watch those serving sizes!

Let’s end our equation and talk about the results of Manipulation of muscle PLUS Consumption squared.  The result is…

E= ENERGY. Sufficient energy to build muscle, trim your waistline, strengthen bones, and increase mental acuity. The result is not just sufficient energy but an excess of energy which increases “m” exponentially. You will feel better, move more, be capable of achieving more physically and mentally, when you apply the principle of E=mc² to your health.

Exercise to a Slimmer You? I Think Not!

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And now science is backing me up…

An increasing body of research reveals that exercise does next to nothing for you when it comes to losing weight.  It sounds faintly heretical, if not downright facetious. And it’s a scientific discovery that most health professionals are, naturally, keen to downplay. After all, exercise is still good for us. It’s just that, in defiance of decades of New Year resolutions, it’s unlikely to make us slim.

Your weight is determined by the number of calories you eat each day minus what your body uses. Everything you eat contains calories, and everything you do uses calories, including sleeping, breathing, and digesting food. Any physical activity in addition to what you normally do will burn those extra calories.

Balancing the number of calories you expend through exercise and physical activity with the calories you eat will help you achieve your desired weight. The key to successful weight loss and improved overall health is making physical activity a part of your daily routine. But beware of the law of compensation.  Too many of us believe that we can reward ourselves with a delicious goody after putting in time at the gym.  This backfires on us all the time as most of those “goodies” are over the daily caloric allotment needed to help us slim down or keep us from gaining weight.no_dessert

Getting in top shape is not necessarily about a restrictive diet or endless workouts. Yes, it’s important to eat right and train smart, but in reality, it’s about consistency and attention to detail. In addition, the body has very different metabolic needs at different times of day and under differing circumstances.

Here’s a breakdown of what is going on in the body throughout the day, what it needs at that time, and what food combinations will address those needs so fat-loss and muscle-building efforts are optimized.

BREAKFAST

Metabolic State

The body is in a fasted state after up to 12 hours without food. This being the case:

• Carbohydrate energy reserves (glycogen) are low.

• Muscles are in a mild catabolic (muscle-wasting) state.

• Fat stores are also slowly being mobilized and burned.

Metabolic Goals

• Halt muscle catabolism.

• Support ongoing fat metabolism.

• Replenish glycogen reserves.

Nutrient Composition

This will be one of the most important meals of the day. Many of the calories will go toward replacing glycogen reserves and halting the catabolic activities in the body.

• Protein: Use a fast-acting protein that will be absorbed easily and quickly, providing available amino acids.

• Carbs: Try a mix of simple and complex carbs.

• Fat: It is important to get a good dose of essential fatty acids (EFAs—mono- and polyunsaturated fats) in this meal. You can use flax seed oil or canola oil to cook in or add to any of your other foods. Having some walnuts, soy nuts, or sunflower seeds can boost essential fatty acid intake.

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Sample Meal

Scrambled eggs (2-3 eggs) and one cup slow-cooked, whole-grain oatmeal topped with 1-2 walnuts, sliced strawberries, and berries.

On the run? Try a protein smoothie made with EAS® Lean 15™ protein powder. Blend 2 scoops with skim milk or water, frozen berries, or a banana, and some ice cubes.

Morning Snack

Metabolic State

At this point, the body will be rebounding a bit from its muscle-building breakfast.

Blood sugar levels are probably trailing off.

Hunger is increasing.

Metabolic Goals

Provide muscles with enough energy and sufficient protein to keep them out of catabolism.

Support a moderate and even blood sugar level.

Nutrient Composition

This is a small, balanced snack that focuses on providing enough fuel to keep muscles fed and blood sugar well-balanced.

Protein: Try a mixed protein source that will provide some quick amino acids and additional ones over 2 to 3 hours. Milk is a good choice, as it contains both casein and whey. Or, try a balanced meal-replacement shake providing a mixture of proteins, preferably casein and whey.

Carbs: Focus on getting a moderate amount of low glycemic index carbohydrates The meal-replacement powder and milk will provide the carbs you need.

Sample Meal

EAS Lean 15 protein powder blended with skim milk or water, some ice cubes and a frozen banana

LUNCH

 Metabolic State

The body should be pretty well in equilibrium by now; however:

• The mid-morning snack may have worn off.

• Sustained energy may be needed for afternoon activities.

Metabolic Goals

• Provide muscles with enough energy and sufficient protein to keep them out of catabolism.

• Continue to support a moderate and even blood sugar level.

Nutrient Composition

This is the second largest meal of the day.

•Protein: Try a mixed protein source with more emphasis on the fast-acting proteins such as chicken, fish, whey, or egg. Wilting muscles need to be fed a solid dose of amino acids. But you also want to have some protein to carry over until your next snack.

•Carbs: Focus on low-glycemic carbs, without a whole lot of sugar.

•Fat: This is another opportunity to get in a good dose of EFAs. If you eat fish at this meal, you will naturally get some EFAs. If not, add EFA-rich foods, just like at breakfast.

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Sample Meal

A skinless, grilled chicken breast; ½-1cup cooked brown rice (amount varies depending on overall energy requirements; ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese topped with berries.

Afternoon Snack

 Metabolic State

At this time in the afternoon, there is a good chance the body is experiencing an energy slump. This will be the result of a combination of the following:

• Blood sugar levels have gotten a bit low in a rebound response to the calorie dose at lunch.

• Muscles are likely to be slightly catabolic.

Metabolic Goals

• Ease blood sugar levels back up.

• Halt muscle catabolism.

Nutrient Composition

This is a small, balanced snack that focuses on providing enough fuel to keep muscles fed and get blood sugar back on track.

• Protein: Use a fairly slow-acting protein. Casein is a good choice because of its slow rate of digestion. There are many nutrition bars that are casein-based (eg, milk protein concentrate) that would work well.

• Carbs: Focus on carbs that will mildly elevate your blood sugar. Look for a nutrition bar with low sugar content.

Sample Meal

EAS® AdvantEDGE® Medifast™ nutrition bar

DINNER

 Metabolic State

This meal is important, since it is the last food the body will get for the next 12 hours or so. Here’s what’s happening, and will be happening overnight, in the body:

• Overnight your body will be mostly anabolic (muscle-building) up until about midnight to 2 am. Then it typically turns catabolic, burning glycogen, muscle, and fat.

Metabolic Goals

• Turn muscles from catabolic to anabolic.

• Sustain the overnight anabolic state as long as possible.

• Help your body focus on using fat for energy versus muscle protein or glycogen during the later catabolic stage of sleep.

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Nutrient Composition

This is when it pays to keep the carbs low and pack in the protein. Also include a moderate dose of fat in this meal.

• Protein: You want to focus on slow-acting protein because in order to help fuel muscles all night, you want a protein that will release amino acids into your bloodstream throughout the night. Three good choices for the slow-acting protein are lean red meat, fish,  and casein.

• Carbs: Focus on fiber-rich, low-sugar sources of carbohydrates

• Fat: Add good sources of fat to this meal. Examples of these fats include canola oil, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

Sample Meal

Lean sirloin steak; spinach salad topped with diced tomatoes and mushrooms and balsamic dressing (olive oil and balsamic vinegar); half a baked sweet potato topped with a tablespoon of lowfat cottage cheese.

BE SMART

Eat wisely and often, watching your caloric intake and GI index selections. Some foods are healthier than others and that means you can have a larger (but not too large) portion. Exercise daily but be moderate.  A 30 minute brisk walk is more effective than a 90 minutes weight lifting session. And don’t forget that 7-8 hours of sleep and plenty of water during your day, round out the weight loss equation.

You CAN lose weight, just not through hard exercise!