Friday, February 17, 2017

Make Your Promise Stick

I love this advice from Jen Widerstrom. She is a trainer on The Biggest Loser and has some great motivation tips. Here are two important principles from Jen for busy people in all walks of life:

Acknowledge Your Importance
Why are the promises you make to yourself the easiest ones to break? Is it because the only person you'll disappoint is yourself? Or that you've prioritized others over your goals? Either way, you deserve better than that. Think of a promise as a powerful muscle - like the glutes or lats - that can affect how your body looks, moves, and feels. Just like a muscle, you can strengthen your promise over time and develop it into one of your assets. The stronger your promise becomes, the more probable it is that you'll be able to commit to reaching your goals, whether that's to move more, eat better or finally sign up for a race. 

Train the Power of Your Word
 I (Jen) first experienced this concept when I promised myself that I wouldn't eat dessert in restaurants. I focused on one dinner at a time. It felt a little low impact in the moment, but looking back, it was the just-right start: a small, clear goal that was surprisingly hard for me to accomplish. I told no one about this, which forced accountability and strength to come only from me. I made it through that week. And I used this small exercise to prove to myself that I could trust myself. This dessert challenge marked the end of my empty promises. My confidence grew every time I kept a promise I made to myself. Whenever I failed, I used that as information about where my system was faulty and applied it to the next opportunity.  

I (Ann) really appreciate that Jen uses the word "opportunity". When you fail, you often feel guilty or discouraged. When the challenge presents itself again, the tendency is to try to avoid the situation, be intimidated by it or give up. I prefer to look at the next challenge as another opportunity to try again.

When I was taking tennis lessons, I was not successful many times. Each time the ball came to me, I attempted to look at it as another opportunity to try again. I got another turn; another chance. The more turns I got, the more I improved.

See opportunity in each choice you make this week. Work that promise muscle. 
Make your promise stick. 

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, February 10, 2017

Enjoy Your Lunch

I almost always end my blog with the phrase "enjoy your food". As John, my husband, was indulging in a large portion of "splurge" foods, he said, "I'm just doing what you said. Enjoying my food!.  I thought maybe I should be more clear on what I mean by enjoy your food.

The idea is to choose healthy foods that give you pleasure and enjoy them in moderate portions. So, for example, if you despise carrots, you would not choose carrots and hummus as your mid-afternoon snack. You could slice a cucumber instead and then you would enjoy your mid-afternoon healthy snack in a moderate portion.

Another example of enjoying your food would be to include a "treat" food in your entire day or entire week of meals. When you sit down to eat your splurge, you enjoy each bite without feeling guilty or worrying about each calorie. Your conscious choice is part of your healthy lifestyle plan.

Enjoy Your Lunch - Here are a couple of healthy lunchtime choices.

Lunchtime sandwiches can have hidden calories and sodium. 
*Choose deli meats that are sliced from the whole turkey or ham rather than the processed meats found in the refrigerator case. Ask for low-sodium meats.

*Swap mayo for smashed avocado or white beans to add healthy fats and fiber to your lunch.

*Include lots of lettuce, tomato, red onion or other veggies.

*Choose bread with "whole wheat flour" as the first ingredient. Take note of the hidden grams of sugar and sodium in bread, too.

Granny Smith apples may be your best lunchtime choice. Scientists found that this variety contained the highest amount of non-digestible compounds, including fiber and antioxidant polyphenols, that promote growth of "good" gut bacteria. These bacteria may help decrease inflammation and prevent obesity. Add an apple to your lunch this week.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Healthy Food in Moderate Portions

Friday, February 3, 2017

Recovery Day or Rest Day?

I've talked about recovery before in my 2016 posts on June 17 and June 24 (click on the links to find those posts). Today I'm highlighting more information on how crucial recovery is for your body's health.

Recovery is designed into a workout program to speed the vascular system's ability to help remove waste products and to repair and rehabilitate damaged tissue into stronger, faster and more powerful neuromuscular units. Techniques such as active exercise recovery, thermotherapy and manual therapy are designed to stimulate vascular pumping. It is beneficial for total health to avoid passive recovery, meaning rest only, during your workout week.

An active recovery workout on the day after a challenging workout can enable exercisers to continue their training and keep contributing to aerobic capacity. It reduces lactate levels and acidosis in muscles. It is most effective when combined with other methods. Low-intensity exercise has been shown to reduce chronic inflammatory markers. Additionally, the hydrostatic effect of water immersion with a swim recovery day helps to increase the blood-pumping mechanism needed for metabolite clearance.

Thermotherapy can consist of cold and hot compresses, cold and hot ointments, and cold or warm baths. Cold therapies primarily rely on acute effects that decrease metabolic activity, reduce swelling and inflammation and alleviate pain through nerve analgesia. Heat therapies increase metabolic activity, and increase muscle pliability. The combined effects most likely speed the vascular shuttling process for the removal of muscle damage byproducts and the addition of tissue repair agents. Contrast therapy is the combination of cold and heat therapies.

Manual therapy is a good partner to heat therapy. Heat has the ability to reduce perceived pain and increase muscle pliability and length. Manual therapy is applied with foam rollers and massage balls (self massage) or by coach/trainer massage. Assisted stretch can be beneficial in addition to manual therapy to assist in reducing lactate levels.

Sleep is the ultimate recovery to help your body repair itself. Sleep enhances the muscle-building effect of exercise by increasing protein-synthesis and allowing the nervous system return to a para-sympathetic state. Sleep boosts the levels of human growth hormone and reduces inflammatory chemicals. Arrange your workout week to allow for 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night.

Stay Active, Recover Wisely and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, January 27, 2017

Surprising Exercise Benefits

Need more workout motivation this month? Research shows that regular exercise not only makes you fit and healthy, it has some surprising wellness benefits, too.

Your Brain Grows
Exercise increases the size of the brain's hippocampus, an area that regulates emotion and memory formation, by 2%. This is related to better recall and decision-making. Strength training can boost BDNF by 77%. This protein promotes the development of neurons and brain tissue.

Your Skin Gets Smoother and Healthier
Doing cardio regularly can take 30 years off your skin. When you work out, your body produces a protein called IL-15 that encourages the growth of mitochondria cell structures that revitalize your complexion. Working out can ease skin conditions like psoriasis because it releases anti-inflammatory compounds to calm the reaction.

Your Vision Gets Sharper
The workout-triggered spike of BDNF, brain-derived neurotropic factor,  helps your eyes. Your retina is actually part of your brain, so BDNF benefits retinal cells. Research shows that regular exercisers are less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.

The body was made to move. Your muscles, heart, lungs, brain .... everything benefits from moving.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, January 20, 2017

100-Calorie Food Swaps

Small changes can create healthier eating patterns. Try these simple 100-calorie food swaps. If you do one food swap per day, you could lose a pound a month.

Change up the bagel routine
Swap a 3 1/2 inch bagel with 1 Tbsp each cream cheese & fruity jam for a whole-wheat English muffin topped with a Tbsp of peanut butter and fresh strawberry slices.  Super-sized bagels can contain more than 300 calories and 400 mg sodium. 

Flip-flop your breakfast portions
A generous pour of calorie-dense granola is easy to lose in a deep-bottomed bowl of low-fat milk. Instead, portion out a moderate 1/4 cup over protein-packed non-fat Greek yogurt. Try lowfat granola and get 75% less grams of fat than regular granola.

Go for the whole thing
Peel, segment, chew, enjoy. A 12 ounce bottle of orange juice ideally would be split into three 4 oz. servings. One cup of OJ has 24 grams of sugar - double the amount in an orange. Eat a fresh orange instead and get fiber, too.  

Rebuild the main event at lunch
Pile sandwich fixings on one (8 inch) 100-calorie whole grain wrap, rather than two slices of hearty multi-grain bread. A bonus benefit is that there will be more room for low-calorie veggies in your wrap.  

Start your year off right with simple strategies and healthy choices. 

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Resolve To Move!

This year resolve to move your body everyday. Moderation is the goal here. Intense exercise everyday won't do your body any favors but couching it for your two rest days a week will sabotage all your hard work.

Rest tired muscles
Devote two or three alternate days a week to intense training. The following day, plan to rest the muscles that worked the hardest. For example, if you pushed yourself to crank out an extra set of push-ups one day, the next day work your legs with an uphill hike.

Recoup on the go
Low-intensity exercise can help your body repair itself, thanks to increased blood flow to damaged muscles. Your alternate day can be a restorative yoga routine, a slow 30 minute bike ride or a low-intensity swim.

Say "Yes" to something new
You need consistency in your workout routine but try switching it up at least one day a week with a random act of fitness fun. Work on your tennis rally with a friend. Sign up for an intramural sport. Hike somewhere new. Stave off boredom and a body plateau. Have you played badminton lately?

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Breakfast Breakthrough

We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but many find it a challenge to eat first thing in the morning. This easy habit change can have positive, long-term effects. An early meal is important because:

1. A healthy morning meal will stoke your metabolism and get the calorie-burning machines in your body firing.

2. Research shows that breakfast eaters tend to move more and eat less throughout the day.

3. You have the most will-power in the morning so you're more likely to make smart choices.

But I'm not hungry......

You should wake up with the desire to eat because you have been fasting for the whole night. That's why the morning meal is called Break Fast. If you do not, perhaps you either ate too much at dinner the night before or ate too close to bedtime.

Try this to reset your appetite clock: Skip dinner for just one night or eat earlier in the evening (no TV snacks). The next morning you won't be able to resist a healthy breakfast!

Jump-start your appetite clock and create a habit of eating a healthy breakfast every day.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food