Friday, December 2, 2016

Take A Hike

Winter is the perfect time to hike in Southern California. The weather is cooler, the sky is clearer and the snakes are hiding. It doesn't take a lot to get started. You really only need two items: proper footwear and a water pack. No matter how challenging or easy your trail, every hike has it's perks.

Even a moderate one-hour hike can burn around 400 calories, while sculpting your core and lower body. As the elevation goes up, so do the benefits. Our local hikes here in Burbank all involve climbing a big hill and then coming back down, a combo that's a great workout for your legs. Going up is like doing lunges over and over, which is great for your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. But traveling downhill is what really sculpts your legs. To go downhill, your glutes and quads need to do a lot of slow and controlled work to stabilize your knees and hips so you don't fall. These types of contractions (eccentric) benefit muscle fibers the most because you're resisting the force of gravity against the weight of your body. This means that while you probably won't get short of breath on the descent, your muscles won't get a second to slack.

Research shows that experiences like gazing from atop a mountain or watching a burbling stream benefit your state of mind. People who spent 50 minutes walking through nature reported less anxiety and more happiness than people who walked near traffic. Exercising outdoors offers a wonderful combination of less stress and more happiness.

Hiking with others and working toward a unified goal - like making your way along an unfamiliar trail - strengthens relationships and builds bonds. Hiking usually involves solving little problems together, like "Which way to we turn?" Appreciating beauty in nature and sharing it with fellow hikers increases the communal mood-booster.

Whether you're a runner or love your Spinning class, scheduling some hikes can improve your fitness level in ways that up your running and cycling game. Cyclists tend to have strong quads but underdeveloped hamstrings and runners tend to have weak hamstrings and glutes. Hiking helps strengthen these muscles to eliminate those types of imbalances. A single hike won't have much of an effect. Consistency is the key.

Start a hike habit this winter!
Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, November 18, 2016

Post-Workout Fuel

You make time to exercise, you work hard and you want to fuel your body in a healthy way. Here are a few fat-blasting combos that supply the nutrients you need to refuel your muscles, plus they amplify your after-burn.

Oatmeal and Eggs
B vitamins help you convert the food you eat into energy, which stokes your metabolism. It's tough to get all your B's from one food, so pair these two power sources. Oatmeal topped with a fried egg will give you not only a wide range of B's but also a hit of muscle-making protein.

Turkey and Hummus
The resistant starch in chickpeas, combined with protein, may increase your ability to burn fat, according to a study in Nutrition Journal. Roll up sliced turkey and a few tablespoons of hummus in lettuce leaves for a snack or pair the two in a sandwich if you're working out before lunch. 

Nuts and Fruit
Thanks to their protein and fiber, nuts may actually boost your metabolism as well as help your body blast fat. Eat about an ounce of almonds - the amount that fits in a shot glass - and have them with a piece of fruit, like an apple or pear, for some carbs to replenish your glycogen. 


Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, November 11, 2016

Streak From Thanksgiving to New Year's!

The holiday season is a perfect time to ditch your workouts with excuses of too little time, lack of energy, and no motivation. That doesn't have to be you! More and more people are turning toward a “running streak” to stay motivated, running at least one mile every single day, from Thanksgiving until the New Year

Isn't running every single day bad for you? Running hard and long every single day will certainly lead to burnout or injury. However, you only need to run one mile every day to keep this streak alive, and that mile can be as slow and easy as you want it to be. 

The streak is portable. You can do it at Aunt Bertha's house, in a hotel gym or on a tropical beach - if you are lucky enough to be there for the holidays.   

Prevent Injury 
Angie Spencer, a registered nurse and running coach, said alternating between pairs of shoes for runs during the streak can be a good idea.   

It’s good both mentally and physically to switch up the distances and routes to maintain the streak. Try the treadmill one day, a hilly route one day and flat sidewalks another. 

If you’re streaking temporarily mainly for the calorie-burning benefits, be sure to pump some iron, too. “Folks who are running to lose or keep weight off should also be strength training to maintain lean muscle mass,” says Jason Fitzgerald, a USA Track & Field certified coach. 

Listen to Your Body 
Your health and wellness should be the most important goal above and beyond your streak. If illness strikes, runners can continue through above-the-chest symptoms like a headache, sinus congestion or a runny nose. “If there’s a fever, then it’s best to focus on recovery and rest for a few days,” says Fitzgerald. 

Stop if you’re injured. It is recommended that potential streakers should have been running on a regular basis for at least six months. “I think (the streak) can be a great way to keep your motivation going,” Spencer says. Just don’t get to the point where you’re obsessively maintaining the streak and it's not fun. 

Like Priority Fitness Burbank on Facebook, if you have not already. You can post your progress and encourage others to maintain their streak all the way to the New Year. 

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, November 4, 2016

Get an Exercise High

Next week we will be asked to vote about legalizing marijuana in the State of California. Your vote is your personal choice but did you know you can get the same kind of high in a totally healthy way without endangering other drivers and without any brain-damaging effects?

The feeling you get after a great workout is a unique mix of euphoria and Zen that's simultaneously motivating and relaxing. It puts you in a great mood, makes you proud of the session you just aced and gets you psyched to tackle the next one.

Scientists have found that the blissful feeling is not just about endorphins, the pain-killing hormones proven to bring on pleasure. Recent studies show that other compounds contribute to the buzz. One compound, endocannabinoids are lipid molecules that help regulate pain and mood. Your brain processes this molecule in almost the same way that it does cannabinoids, the chemicals that cause the marijuana high. 

While our levels of endorphins and endocannabinoids are higher after endurance exercise, endocannanoids have a more powerful effect on how we feel. This compound is believed to produce the stress-busting effects of exercise. Endorphins have been shown to contribute to some of the other aspects of the exercise high.

The study found that the body releases endocannnoids only when you push your intensity level into the moderate zone. Cardio is what counts: anaerobic exercise like weight lifting doesn't activate the endocannanoid system. The sweet spot is 70 - 85% of your maximum heart rate. Using the RPE, aim for 5 or 6 on a scale of 10. If you can barely speak, you are pushing too hard. Ease off a little.

Exercise with others. Social bonding activates the same endocannanoid system that exercise does. So you're scoring even stronger perks when you workout with friends. Group workouts or classes will reap the same benefits.

This week choose the ultimate post-exercise buzz.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, October 28, 2016

Enjoy Pumpkin This Fall

It's pumpkin time! From the Pumpkin Spiced Latte at the coffee shop to pumpkin "everything" at the market, we notice the flavor everywhere in the fall. Most of the processed foods touting pumpkin flavor contain too many sugars and the wrong kind of fats. Do we have to skip our favorite fall flavor? Not at all.

Pumpkin not only tastes good, but it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Just 1 cup of mashed pumpkin contains 200 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Not only that, but it’s low in calories, rich in fiber and a great source of beta-carotene, one of those antioxidants touted by the medical community.

Try a Pumpkin Parfait for breakfast. Combine canned pumpkin with cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg. Layer with Greek yogurt and granola.

Add pumpkin to pancake batter. (Reduce the liquid a bit.) Top with bananas, cinnamon & walnuts.

I love to use hummus as a veggie dip, wrap filler with greens or instead of mayo in a sandwich. Try this one!

White Bean Pumpkin Hummus

  1. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  2. 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini (large white) beans, rinsed and drained
  3. 2 tbsp. tahini
  4. 2 ½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from about half of a large lemon)
  5. 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 1 tsp. cumin
  8. ½ tsp. smoked paprika, plus extra for serving
  9. Kosher salt, to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add a pinch of kosher salt, then blend again and taste. Add more salt if desired. Serve in a bowl with extra smoked paprika sprinkled on top.

Enjoy the flavor of fall with pumpkin!

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's Time to Register for the Turkey Trot

Did you know? More Americans participate in races on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year! Join the crowd and start your holiday on the right foot by participating in the Burbank Community YMCA Turkey Trot. This family friendly 5K/10K race is open to runners, walkers, stroller-pushers and pets. Costumes welcome! There is a Pre-Race Expo for all and Kid's Fun Zone for the little ones. In addition, you'll get a commemorative race T-shirt to wear around town throughout the year. Everyone will know you did the race Thanksgiving morning.

The Turkey Trot is a great Burbank community day with people from all areas of city life coming together to move their bodies before sitting down to dinner. It's fun to see so many friends gathered for the event. John and I will miss this year, but we will be doing a Family Turkey Trot on-board a cruise ship. (Yes, I make people exercise on their vacation!) I have costumes for all twelve of us!

Don't miss this year's Thanksgiving morning fun! Save $5 and pre-register now at

Stay Active, Keep Moving 
Have Fun

Friday, October 14, 2016

Are Gym Machines a Good Workout Choice?

Your gym is probably full of shiny machines designed to hit every muscle in your body. Most weight machines do that in two ways: limiting your range of motion and isolating a muscle group. This format is great for bodybuilders and those recovering from an injury.

If you are not in one of those two groups, which is unlikely, choose a workout that uses multiple muscle groups at the same time. Our bodies are meant to jump, crawl, dance, sprint, squat and lift. Plus, using multiple muscle groups at the same time will raise your heart rate and burn more calories in less time. Here's a few overall workout principles:

Dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and medicine balls are far more versatile than machines. They help you build functional strength because they require you to move in all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal and transverse) whereas a machine moves you through only one at a time. And, with free weights, you're more likely to eliminate weaknesses and imbalances because you can't compensate with your dominant side the way you can when lifting on a fixed-path machine.

There are endless ways to use your body as resistance - yoga poses, push-ups & burpees, planks, etc. - and most such exercises have you moving naturally, the way you were meant to, while engaging tons of muscles. To continue getting fitter, simply increase your reps, sets or pace or make your moves more challenging by adding instability.

When you do cardio, make your workout more efficient by heading outside. Run. Take a hike. Ride a bike. The change in terrain as well as the weather - wind, heat, humidity - provide added challenges that can result in better fitness gains. 

Step away from the big, clunky machines and move your body using integrated exercises and natural movement for a more effective workout that burns more calories in a shorter amount of time.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food