Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Let's Talk About Your New Year's Resolution!

Do you make a New Year's resolution?  Many people do and I think the most popular one is to be healthier and workout more.  Why wait till January 1st to do that- start today!!!  Most of us probably had a little too much to eat over Christmas and we probably have a lot of junk in our house right now.  I would challenge you to throw it all out- because if you don't you will just end up eating it or someone in your family will.  I would encourage you to try to get your whole family to eat healthier and to exercise more.  So, don't keep the junk food in the house and then no one will be able to eat it.

Start exercising slowly- don't go at it so hard that you end up disliking it.  You need to find a form of exercise that you enjoy so that you will stick to it.  But, you want to challenge yourself- push yourself to do more.  I don't particularly like all the exercises I do- it's kind of a love/hate relationship- I hate it when I'm doing it but, I love the results and how I feel after! And, that's not the case all the time- I love lots of types of exercising but, there are a few that I really have to push myself to do. As far as pain goes, the rule of thumb is: if it hurts while you're exercising it's okay, unless it's severe joint pain or chest pain.  Exercising is going to hurt somewhat if you haven't done it in awhile. To help alleviate some soreness you can take a hot shower and stretch really well right before you get into bed.  The reason you wake up sore in the morning is because you have laid still all night long sleeping, so your muscle start to get sore from not having movement.  Believe it or not, if you get up the next day and you're sore- go and workout again- it will loosen up your muscles and help them feel better.  It's a hard thing to do if you're really sore!

You can do cardiovascular exercise every day such as:  walking, running, cycling, elliptical, stair climbers, etc.  You only want to do weight training about 3 days a week, and never two days in a row.  Your muscles need to heal in between workouts.  Remember:  weight training is just as important as cardiovascular exercise because the more lean muscle mass you have the higher your metabolism will be.  That means that you will start to burn more calories on an every day basis if you have more lean muscle mass.  Do you watch the tv show the Biggest Loser?  You always see the contestants doing weight training from day one, even though they are extremely overweight, because lean muscle mass is important for weight loss. You also want to remember the overload principal:  you need to "overload" the muscle pass it's normal ability in order to see change.  In other words, if you don't feel like the workout you are doing is a challenge or if you are doing bicep curls and each repetition is easy, then you are not overloading your body.  If you are doing a set of 12 repetitions of bicep curls, you want the last couple reps to be difficult.  If not, get heavier weights.  Or if you only have lighter hand weights you could do a form of exercise called tabata.  Do as many bicep curls as you can for 20 seconds and then rest 10 seconds.  Do that 3 more times, 20 seconds of bicep curls, 10 seconds of rest. I guarantee your biceps will be burning at the end you will have overloaded your muscle.  You can do that with just about any exercise.

Happy New Years to everyone!!!!  Here's to a healthier 2012!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let's Talk About the Benefits of Exercising

With  New Years fast approaching and those resolutions for exercising  about to start, I thought it would be timely to inform you of all the benefits of exercising.  So many times we exercise just to look better or to lose weight when there are so many other wonderful benefits that happen to our bodies.  I hope that knowing these things will help you to keep that resolution of getting healthy this year!

These benefits are not listed in order of importance- so here goes!

1.  Decrease your risk of heart disease
2.  Decrease your blood sugar levels
3.  Decrease your risk of stroke
4.  Decrease your blood pressure
5.  Decrease your resting heart rate
6.  Decrease your risk for certain kinds of cancer
7.  Decrease your cholesterol levels- the bad kind
8.  Increase your HDL- the good kind of cholesterol
9.  Improve heart functions
10.  Improve cardiac output (how much blood is pumped with each beat of your heart)
11.  Improve your overall mood
12.  Decrease stress levels
13.  Improve your quality of sleep
14.  Improve mental focus
15.  Improve flexibility
16.  Decrease risk of osteoporosis
17.  Improve muscle strength
18.  Improved joints due to muscle strength increasing
19.  Strengthens lungs
20.  Increased amount of oxygen pumping through your body
21.  Improves endurance
22.  Improves reflexes and reaction time
23.  Reduces anxiety
24.  Improves self-esteem
25.  Decreases depression
26.  Burn more calories
27.  Decrease weight
28.  Reduces amount of fat in the body
29.  Increases  lean muscle mass in the body
30.  Increases metabolism
31.  Reduces risk of type II diabetes
32.  Helps control type II diabetes if you already have it
33.  Increases energy levels
34.  Boosts immune systems
35.  Improves coordination

I hope you will read this list and realize all the incredible benefits that our body receives from exercising.  And, when you are about ready to give up, or think  you don't have enough time or it's just too hard, I hope you recall this list and keep on exercising!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let's Talk About Nitrates/Nitrites

I'm going to start this one off with this definition from the EPA:  Nitrates and nitrites are chemicals used in fertilizers, in rodenticides (to kill rodents), and as food preservatives.  Now, notice how in that previous sentence which says what nitrates/nitrites are used in you see fertilizers, rodenticides and then food.  I should probably just be done writing today's blog because right there is enough of a case against eating nitrates/nitrites!  Why would we want to put something that is a main ingredient in chemical fertilizers into our bodies.  Well, unfortunately there are many articles on the internet that would try to convince you that they are safe to consume.  Even though, they tested carcinogenic in lab animals.  Now, it may just be me, but, if something gives an animal cancer, I don't want to put it into my human body either and if that something can kill a rodent, I really don't want it in my body!  Nitrates/Nitrites when used in food items are found in:  hotdogs, deli meats, bacon, sausage, ham, etc.  They are used in the curing process of processed meats. There are alternatives though for buying items without nitrates/nitrites such as, Boar's Head deli meats.  They contain no nitrates/nitrites.  They are a little pricey though and are really out of my budget at about $7-10 a pound. They are very good products though.  Being a homeschool mom, we eat lunch here at home every day of the week, so sandwiches are something that we do eat.  I was able to find a great product at Costco under the Kirkland Brand and it is in the meat and cheese cases in the back.  They have whole turkey breasts, fully cooked and ready to slice for sandwiches and the ingredients are:  turkey, salt, water, sugar.  That's it!!!!  And, it tastes delicious- none of that pressed together, pieced together cheap deli meat taste.  And, the best part is that it's only $3.89 a pound!!!  That fits in my budget!  Costco also has uncured (which means no nitrates/nitrites) Canadian bacon- 40 slices for $10.89.  Anyone who eats Canadian bacon knows that it is much more expensive than regular bacon, because it is healthier when it comes to fat and calories, so Costco's price for the uncured variety is great.

I know I say this a lot, but I'm going to say it again:  Read your food labels!!  I think you will be very surprised at how much better you will feel without chemicals in your body.  Uh Oh- I feel a rabbit trail coming on!  Why is it that back in the 80's when I was in high school, it was very rare for us to know someone who had cancer- I mean know that person personally, as in our family.  But, now, I think it's very rare for us to NOT know someone personally who has cancer.  Two thirds of all cancer can be prevented with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes!  Now, I know with some cancers we just don't know how to prevent them.  I have had relatives die of cancer and it's because of watching that happen, that I want to help others prevent the ones that can be prevented.  So, let's start preventing it!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let's Talk About Your BMR- Basal Metabolic Rate

Your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate, is basically the amount of energy, or calories, your body expends just to stay alive.  This number is very helpful when you are trying to lose weight.  We know that one pound is equal to 3500 calories.  So, if you expend an extra 500 calories a day, through a combination of exercise and decreasing your calorie intake, in 7 days you will lose a pound.  There is a pretty complicated formula to calculate your own BMR that looks something like this:  for women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years); and for men:  66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years).  Fortunately, all you need to do is google a BMR calculator and it will figure it up for you.  It will give you the option of saying what your activity level is.  I always use the sedentary option and that way I can add the amount of calories I burn through exercise to that base sedentary number.  For instance, for me to maintain my current weight, I can't eat more than 1800 calories a day.  But, if I exercise and burn 500 calories, that means for that day I can eat 2300 calories and not gain any weight, or I can still just eat the 1800 calories and know that I am in the negative which means, if I burn 500 calories each day, in a week I will lose 1 pound.  If you figure your BMR with, say, a "moderate" activity level, it's not as accurate, because you may not work out every day, and then you're going to end up going over in calories that day, or maybe you are burning more than a "moderate" level.  Once you know your BMR, then you can use some online calculators to enter your weight and the type of exercise you did to calculate how many calories you burned by exercising.  Once you have your numbers it is so very helpful to start keeping a food journal.  Most of us are very surprised by what we end up eating in a day's time.  This is important in trying to find out where your food problems are:  is it too much snacking, or too large of portion sizes?  Measure your food, also.  You would be very surprised by how many servings you are actually eating according to the nutritional information on the food item.

Tomorrow we will discuss what your target heart rate is and why it is so important to hit it when you are exercising.  Until then, happy calculating and journaling!!! As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Let's Talk About Nutrition

So, how do you eat?  Do you eat to live or do you live to eat?  There's a big difference in these two lines of thinking.  I have found that when I have successfully trained a client into the "eat to live" line of thinking, how and what they eat changes.  When we "eat to live" that means we are not focusing or centering our daily life around our mealtimes, but, that we are eating nutrient dense foods to keep our bodies running correctly and at optimum performance.  The other line of thinking, "live to eat", is just the opposite.  We are eating whatever we want whenever we want to satisfy our body's cravings.  And, usually when we are in that line of thinking, our body's cravings are not for healthy foods.  We want to eat foods that are nutrient dense, meaning foods that are filled with vitamins and minerals, good carbs, lean proteins and some fat, for the least amount of calories.  Yes, I said fat!  I am not against fat at all.  Our bodies need fat- it's one of the 6 vital nutrients.  The other five are protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.  Fat insulates our organs, including the brain.  In fact, without enough fat our brain doesn't let our body know that we are full and satisfied.  Here's what happens:  after we eat a meal, glucose, fatty acids, and  amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream.  This absorption causes a state of satiety and your hunger decreases.  So, after a while the concentration of these nutrients fall and our satiety level decreases and hunger signals begin to start again.  Do you remember the fat free craze that hit in the late 80's and early 90's?  What happened was this:  food companies took the fat out of items and then added in a lot of high fructose corn syrup to hold the molecules together with the thinking that it was the actual fat in the food item that made you gain weight.  But instead, you could eat a whole pan of fat free brownies without feeling satisfied at all.  And, it's the calories that get stored as fat when we don't burn them off or use them as fuel.  We need some fat to signal to our bodies that we are satisfied and our hunger then decreases.  Ideally, you want to keep your fat to about 20%-30% of your total calories.  I will be posting this week about the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), which is how many calories your body needs to sustain itself- this will help you to determine how many fat grams you need to eat each day.

Protein is very important for our bodies because it is needed to build and repair muscles.  If you eat too much protein the excess get stored as calories in your body.  Most people, unless they are professional athletes, get more than enough protein each day. Most people need about 20-30% of their daily calorie needs in protein.  Carbohydrates are our main source of energy.  So, you probably know my opinion on carbohydrate free diets- they are not good for you!!!  You will not have enough energy without eating enough carbohydrates.  Our brain needs them to function and focus clearly.  Now, there are two types of carbs:  simple and complex.  White processed sugar and white flour are two examples of simple carbs.  This type of carb is digested very quickly and causes a spike in our blood sugar levels causing our body to start storing things as fat.  Potatoes and whole wheat are examples of complex carbs.  They are digested more slowly and keep our blood sugar more stable.  Complex carbs are the way to go!  Most people need about 40-60% of their daily calorie needs in carbs.  Remember, fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates, also.

The caloric content of foods is determined this way:  9 calories per fat gram, 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates and 4 calories per gram of protein.  Be wise in what you eat.  I don't deny myself having a treat either.  If I did that, I would be more likely to binge and eat a whole bunch of bad stuff all at once, as opposed to allowing myself a small treat when I want one.  Try to choose whole foods- not processed foods.  Lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains are your best bets for making your body feel good.  I have had clients who started eating healthy and then have a day where they just ate a bunch of junk and their body feels terrible- sluggish and sick feeling.  Once you get all the junk out of your system you will feel better!!  Let me know if you need any help in "eating to live" instead of "living to eat"!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let's Talk About That One Thing Filled With Chemicals I Had Trouble Giving Up- But I Did!

I didn't want to say it in the title because I wanted people to read this!!  But, what I am talking about here is beauty products.  And, who wants to give up their favorite beauty products- I didn't!!!  I just never thought about what was in them because it's not like I ate them- I just put them on my body or in my hair.  Then, I discovered what most of you probably already know- what we put on our skin or scalp absorbs into our blood stream faster than if we swallow it!!!  Not only that, but because it absorbs directly into our blood stream, it also gets processed through our liver.  So, let's breakdown what is in these beauty products and why they are so bad for you.

Parabens-  Or I should say, anything ending in the word paraben, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben- these are the most popular.  They are chemicals, synthetically produced in commercial products, that are preservatives.  You will find them in most beauty products such as makeup, shampoos, body washes, body lotions, deodorant, etc.  Here is the real problem with parabens:  they are xenoestrogens.  This means, that they mimic real estrogen in the human body.  Why is that a problem?  Because too much estrogen, whether real or xenoestrogen, according to many scientists and doctors, cause many kinds of female cancers.  Too much also causes conditions such as endometriosis and adenomyosis.  I have the latter of those two.  Endometriosis is basically when the uterus starts to grow outside of itself and adenomyosis is when the uterus starts to grow into itself, causing it to get very large.  Both of these conditions are very painful and usually, the final treatment when all else fails is to get a hysterectomy.  I should add that adenomyosis can't be officially 100% confirmed until the uterus is removed from the body, but using ultrasound and ruling out things such as uterine cancer (which also has symptoms of an enlarged uterus), doctors can give you a pretty good guess.  Just google "problems with too much estrogen" and you will find a whole list of problems that xenoestrogens can cause including:  weigh gain, irritability, mood swings, fatigue depression, heavy periods and the list goes on and on.  And, don't think the problems with too much estrogen are confined to women only.  Men can also have problems including hair loss, prostate issues, weight gain, etc.

SLS or SLES- or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate.  It's that chemical in beauty products that cause things to foam. It penetrates the skin very easily and then builds up in the heart, liver, brain and lungs.  If it is mixed with certain other chemicals it becomes a carcinogen (cancer causing agent).  One of those chemicals is dioxane, and research has found that SLS is commonly contaminated with dioxane.  SLS also makes it easier for carcinogens to enter your body- it sort of breaks down a protective barrier opening the pores up to carcinogens.  Now, read this carefully:  THE ENTIRE EUROPEAN UNION HAS BANNED SLS AND SLES AND ABOUT 1100 OTHER CHEMICALS THAT ARE USED IN BEAUTY PRODUCTS BECAUSE OF THE DANGERS THEY POSE!!!!

I am really only touching on a very small part of why the chemicals in our beauty products are so harmful.  Please do the research and listen to common sense and reason when you do so.  If something is a carcinogen and the FDA says that it's okay to use in small doses, do you really want to put any amount of a cancer causing agent into your body.  So, application time:  what do you do???  We are on a tight budget and these products can be more expensive.  Well, I found a great website called www.vitacost.com.  They have so many wonderful natural products here and they are so reasonably priced.  You still need to read the ingredients because I have found a few products that still have dangerous chemicals being sold on there.  The prices are great though. Take for instance the body lotion I use.  It's called Desert Essence Organics Coconut Hand and Body Lotion.  I found it at a local health food store and it was $8.99 for an 8 ounce bottle, which is actually quite comparable to say Bath and Body Works prices.  But, really more than I wanted to spend, so, I found it on www.vitacost.com for $4.28 an 8 ounce bottle.  And, if you spend $49 or more you get free shipping.  Over the next several weeks I will be highlighting some products that I use from this website.

I hope the tiny amount of information I have presented here on the dangers of the chemicals lurking in our health and beauty products have been helpful and not overwhelming.  We really need to be our own advocate when it comes to what is put on and in our bodies.  If you have any questions please let me know!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let's Talk Aspartame

All you diet soda drinkers may not like this post, but, it needs to be written!!  Aspartame (also known as NutraSweet or Equal) is the artificial sugar substitute that most diet sodas contain.   It's also now in over 6,000 items including: gum, yogurt, diet food products, vitamins, medicine.  If you do a google search you will find out quickly that there is a lot of negative articles on aspartame, but, then you will find the FDA saying that it is safe.  Who do you believe?  I am a researcher- I don't believe everything I hear or read- instead, I take it apart myself and examine it and then I get my answer by seeing what my research has shown me.  So, let's take apart Aspartame!

Aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1981 for use in dry foods.  It was originally approved in 1974, but, findings by a neuroscience researcher put the approval on hold.  There is a list of 92 side effects from the use of Aspartame.  Seventy-five percent of all adverse reactions from food additives reported to the FDA come from the use of Aspartame.  These include:  headaches/migraines, seizures, dizziness, nausea, weight gain, muscle spasms, depression, fatigue, irritability, rashes, insomnia, tachycardia, vision and hearing problems, anxiety, heart palpitations, breathing problems, loss of taste, vertigo, memory loss, joint pain, and symptoms of hypoglycemia.  I know about this side effects all too well, because I experienced many of them.  I used to be a diet soda junkie and have been quit now for almost 6 years.  I started this research originally because I discovered I had Aspartame poisoning.  I quit it cold turkey and within a week, my symptoms started to disappear.

Aspartame is L-apartyl, L-phenylalanine methyl ester.  The three toxic ingredients of it are methanol, which is grain alcohol,  phenylalaine and aspartic acid- the last two are amino acid isolates.  Let me explain that:  Proteins, needed for muscle development and repair,  is made up of many amino acids grouped together.  There are 22 amino acids necessary for normal human growth, with 14 of those that our body can make called non essential amino acids.  Then, there are 8 other amino acids called essential amino acids that we must get from outside sources such as food.  Amino acid isolates have been artificially separated from the protein chain and are now single or dipeptide molecules.  Aspartic acid and phenylalanine are two types of genetically modified or manufactured amino acids.  Because of this our body's metabolize them differently than amino acids that have not been broken apart or artificially made.  You also need to know that the isolates of aspartame are incorporated into a compound containing free methanol, which is a carcinogen and mutagen that breaks down into formaldehyde inside our bodies!  At certain high temperatures, those of which a can of soda experiences riding on a truck to your local grocery store, the aspartame breaks down into methanol and formaldehyde- so just picture yourself drinking a can of chemicals, because that's what is happening.

Regarding Aspartame in diet soda:  it actually can make you gain weight, not lose.  This is because when you drink Aspartame it sort of has the same response as when your body ingests high fructose corn syrup.  It causes your pancreas to start releasing high levels of insulin which then signals your body to start storing things as fat.

Once again, the best thing you can do is read labels!!!!  There are many "diet" foods that contain Aspartame.  I have a problem with these foods because you shouldn't be on a diet, you should be on a lifestyle change.  That's how you stay healthy for the long term- not temporarily changing how you eat to lose weight.  Everything in moderation.  If you are going to have a little something that is sweet make sure it's real sugar, preferably unrefined and organic.  If you're going to have a little fat such as butter- make it the real thing and not the artificial chemical laden margarine.  Seriously- read the back of a package of margarine versus a package of butter- it's crazy!!!  Fifty years ago we didn't have the epidemic of disease and obesity and everyone ate real butter and real sugar- just in moderation and there wasn't many processed foods back then either.  Makes you think, doesn't it?

So, I will end with this:  one of the best things you can do for your health is to stop any ingestion of Aspartame!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let's talk High Fructose Corn Syrup

Ahhh, high fructose corn syrup.  To many of us it is a dirty word- as it should be.  It's in everything- how do you avoid it?  Well, I am here to tell you that you can avoid eating this incredibly harmful food additive.  Let me tell you a little about high fructose corn syrup first though- which I will be referring to as hfcs for the remainder of this post.

Regular table sugar is 50% fructose and 50% glucose, where as, hfcs is 80% fructose and 20% glucose.  As far as sugar is concerned fructose is much worse than glucose due to the way our body metabolizes it.  Yes, they both contain 4 calories per gram, but here is a real eye opener:  If you eat 120 calories of glucose your body instantly stores less than 1 calorie as fat, but, if you eat 120 calories of fructose, your body instantly stores 40 calories as fat!!  Which do you want to eat now?  The reason food companies use hfcs is because of cost- you probably could have guessed that.  From 1970-1990 the annual intake of hfcs increased by more than 1000%.  Excess fructose consumption has been associated with many health problems including:  metabolic syndrome, elevated triglyceride levels (basically fat in your blood), hypertension, non alcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes.

Type II Diabetes.  We hear a lot of talk about this disease that has dramatically increased in prevalence over the last 20 years.  The CDC estimates that 26 million Americans have diabetes and 79 million adults have prediabetes.  In fact, they estimate that if the current trends continue, by 2050, 1 in 3 American could have diabetes.  Type II Diabetes makes up 90-95% of the current cases of diabetes.  Type I diabetes is something you are born with- your pancreas does not produce insulin.  Type II Diabetes is when the cells in your body are no longer sensitive to the insulin that your body produces.  Here's where hfcs fits in.  When you consume hfcs your body releases insulin- too much insulin.  So, basically your pancreas is being used too much and your body, because it has had too much insulin, now becomes insensitive to what insulin you are producing.  In time, your pancreas may stop producing because it has over produced so much.  If that wasn't enough, most of the hfcs is made from corn that has been genetically modified.  GMO foods is a whole other post though!!  Just know, that foods genetically modified are bad news.  Studies also show that hfcs contains high levels of mercury.  Studies conducted just last year found mercury in 50% of the samples tested.

So, what do we do?  READ FOOD LABELS!!!  Thankfully, companies are starting to take notice of families who no longer want to consume hfcs.  You can now find many products that don't contain it anymore.  Mostly, processed foods (anything that is pre made in a box) is going to contain hfcs.  You may have to stop buying some of your favorite foods.  Trust me, it's worth it.  Ketchup, salad dressings, breads, pickles, bbq sauce, cereals, breakfast bars, etc. all contain hfcs. You can find brands now though that don't contain it, you just have to look for it on your store shelves and read the labels.  I have resorted to making from scratch much of our food.  That way, I know whats in it.  It was time consuming at first, but then you just get into your groove and it works.  I meal plan each week so I know what I need to make ahead of time.  A little pre planning goes a long way!!  Below you will find one of my favorite items to make.  My family loves grape jelly.  But, we all know that the first ingredient on the label of 95% of grape jelly out there is hfcs.  So, I was spending a lot of money buying the organic or natural kind.  My kids love jelly on my freshly made english muffins and also on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I discovered a simple way to make homemade grape jelly.  It is so simple.  Because grape jelly doesn't contain the whole fruit, and only the juice, you get to skip that step of squashing grapes.

Homemade grape jelly

1 box of surejell (low sugar variety in the pink box)
2 1/2 cups of sugar ( I use organic unrefined sugar)
3 cups of grape juice (100% natural, no sugar added)

Mix the box of surejell with the 2 1/2 cups of sugar in a medium size sauce pan.  Add in 1 cup of water and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Let boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and pour in 3 cups of grape juice and stir well, about a minute.  Pour into 3 pint size glass jars. Put the lids on and set on your counter top for 24 hours, then put in the refrigerator.  This will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks or in the freezer for up to a year.  There is no need to go through the "canning process" because if you don't use it all up in 3-4 weeks you can just stick it in the freezer.

I am confident you will love this jelly.  It is so fresh tasting, my kids will no longer eat store bought jelly.  And, it literally only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.

I will continue to post more recipes on this blog- so keep on following!!

Let's Talk Exercise

Exercising.  Some of us try to avoid it and others rush right to it.  Why is that?  Studies show that you need to do something for 21 days for it to become a habit, but, when it comes to exercise, that number jumps up to 6 months!!  There are 5 stages of change that a person can go through.  The first is Precontemplation, meaning that you are not even thinking that you need to change your lifestyle to become healthier.  Next, is Contemplation, which is the stage where you are thinking about starting an exercise program in the next 6 months.  Third, is Preparation, in which change is being planned in the next 30 days and some sort of new behavior is being attempted.  Fourth, is Action, meaning that you are fully involved in your new lifestyle of healthy living and exercise.  Lastly, is Maintenance, which means the new behavior has been being done for at least 6 months.  Now which of these stages do you think has the highest failure rate?  Surprisingly, through years of research experts have found that the Action stage has the highest level of failure due to the fact that you need to implement your change for at least 6 months to get it to stick and be a habit.  I tell you this so that you can be extra diligent with your exercise routine to make sure that you get past that 6 month point to make this new habit "stick"!  Now, what stage are you?

Exercise can produce a lot of results or maybe not as many as you had hoped for.  This is due to the type of exercise you choose.  There are several things to talk about here.  First, our muscles have memory.  This is good when you haven't exercised in a while (hopefully this will not be you because you will make it a habit!), and you start again and in a short amount of time you start to see your muscles changing again.  It's because your muscles remember what they used to be like.  Now, muscle memory is bad because if you do the same exercises over and over and over again, your muscles are like,"hey!  I've done that and I don't need to change as much because I've done it over and over".  Basically, your muscles don't respond as well and you experience the dreaded plateau.  Second, we need to talk about the overload principle.  This basically means that unless you overload your muscles past a level that they are accustomed to, you will not see change.  Think about it this way:  you need to push yourself and do those last two reps or kick your treadmill up a few notches to make it hard and uncomfortable.  Sure,  you will improve your cardiovascular health if you don't overload your muscles, but, you may not see the changes in your physical body appearance without it.  

So, let's apply what we have just learned!  If you run on a treadmill or use any  type of cardio equipment such as elliptical, recumbent bike, stair climber, etc. do interval training instead of just setting it at 6.0 and running for 30 minutes.  Try this:  if you normally run at 6.0, do that for 2 minutes and then kick it up to 8.0 for 30 seconds and then do that over and over until  you have run your 30 minutes or however long you are running.  Same with an elliptical- go along at your normal challenging pace for 2 minutes and then really rev it up for 30 seconds.  We can use this same principle with hand weights.  This type of exercise is called Tabata and it is high intensity interval training.  Here's what it looks like:  20 seconds on and 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds.  An example:  Do squats- all out effort as many as you can do, maintaining good form though, for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 and repeat that for 8 rounds.  I guarantee you will feel muscles that you never felt before just doing a few sets of squats!  You can use Tabata, which was invented by Dr. Tabata in Japan after researching how interval training effects the body, with any type of exercise:  lunges, jumping jacks, stomach crunches, push ups and also with hand weights:  bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, shoulder presses, chest presses, etc.  Just use light weights to start with so you can gauge what's too heavy and what's not.  Tabata can be so intense that you can't do this type of exercise every day of the week.  But, I would recommend always doing interval training when you are doing any cardio exercise, as long as you have been cleared by a doctor for exercise!  A good rule of thumb is this:  if you experience muscle pain that's okay, but, if you experience joint pain you need to stop or lighten the load or the intensity.  You can use the Tabata method while running or walking also, meaning 20 seconds on 10 seconds off, but it is a little difficult on a treadmill because you are changing the speed so often. It is easier if you are just running outside and you can speed up and slow down on your own.  

Happy Exercising!!!  If you have any questions, just ask!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Welcome to my new blog- Get Fit 4 Living!  I started a blog because I thought it would be a good way to share with people who are interested in the journey that my family has been on to living and eating in a chemical free way.  I started in the fitness industry in 1989 working at a local health club. I am currently certified as a personal trainer through AFAA. Staying fit was always important to me and eating a moderate diet was just what I did.  Over the years, I have seen more and more chemicals going into our foods.  I started researching exactly what this entailed after my oldest son was diagnosed with a disease of the central nervous system, called Tourette's Syndrome.  The symptoms started to appear after a series of childhood vaccinations.  I know the subject of whether to vaccinate or not is controversial, but, for our family, it became quite clear that none of our children would receive anymore vaccinations due to what happened to our oldest son.  I also started researching the effects of chemicals on the human body, most notably, on the central nervous system. What I found was alarming to say the least.  So, in April of 2010, I started the journey of removing chemicals and anything unnatural from my family's diet, which included:  preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, hormones, antibiotics, msg, etc.  I have also recently removed all beauty and health products that contain parabens, and SLS (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates).  We have the challenge of being on a budget like most Americans are, so I hope you will find this blog useful in helping you learn to start weeding the chemicals out of your home. And, I will also be throwing in some great fitness tips and workouts to get you started on a healthier lifestyle.