Thursday, February 27, 2014

Exercise for Travel

I am traveling this week to visit my son and daughter-in-law in Oregon. I will have the opportunity to use their gym membership but often when I travel I don't have that option. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your exercise routine while traveling.

Research -
  • Know what fitness options you will have at your destination. 
  • Does the hotel offer classes? Does it have a fitness room?
  • Does your home gym have a location near your destination? Know the visitor policy. 
  • Does the hotel desk offer a running route? Explore the area.

Plan -
  • Pack workout clothes and tools. A jump rope and resistance bands take up very little room in your suitcase. Or take a workout dvd with you.
  • Know your visit schedule. If you have a workshop at 8am, you will need to get up early to workout. Or if you have mandatory dinner meetings, it might be difficult to exercise in the evening.

Be creative -
  • Use the hotel room chair for tricep dips.
  • Slide hand towels under your feet for pike hip lifts.
  • Run the hotel stairs. Use the stairs for incline pushups and lunges.

Healthy eating -
  • Carry nuts and dried fruit so you always have a healthy snack option.
  • If you know the restaurant you will visit, peruse the menu on-line to make a healthy choice before arriving.
  • Decide what you will eat at the free breakfast bar before walking downstairs. Plain oatmeal, yogurt, hard boiled eggs and fruit are usually good options.

Strive for maintenance in your fitness level while you are traveling. Don't worry if you are not working out as hard as you usually do. Take time to enjoy your destination and be ready to get back into your routine when you return.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Little on Strength Training

Many of us are aware that strength training is an important part of a complete workout. What is the best way to begin?

Beginning exercisers should start with foundational strength training performed on well-designed resistance machines. This will provide proper movement patterns, body support and highly stable performance conditions. Examples of this would be a leg extension machine or a lat pull down machine at the gym. A seat provides correct support and the machine positions the body for correct movement.

The next step can be fundamental strength training. The exerciser performs similar movements to work the same body parts but uses free weights instead of machines. This will provide more movement freedom, less body support, and moderately stable performance conditions. The core is required to provide more spinal stabilization for each movement. Multiple muscle groups work together to support the movement. For example, a standing bicep curl not only works the bicep and supporting arm muscles but requires the core and legs to be part of the movement as stabilizers.

The exerciser can then move to functional strength training. A variety of resistance equipment, including medicine balls and stability balls, will facilitate movement freedom as well as unsupported and unstable performance conditions. Integrated body movements will require upper and lower body muscle groups to work together and call on the core to maintain stabilization during the entire movement pattern. This strength training style mimics real-life situations like lifting a sleeping child from an interior car seat or carrying big Costco boxes from the cart to the trunk.

This progression has been found to provide relatively high rates of strength development, as well as, relatively low rates of physical injury and mental burnout. The exerciser should plan to perform 8 - 10 exercises that address each major muscle group using resistance that fatigues the muscle in 8 - 12 repetitions. This should be repeated two to three non-consective days per week.

Include strength training in your weekly workouts and enjoy feeling strong and healthy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Team Motivation

Are you looking for a group to motivate you to maintain your workouts, challenge your fitness level and to just have fun with? Saturday morning Smilers is the group for you.

Smilers is a Burbank community-based walking group. We Smile through the Miles! We walk between 5 - 11 miles each Saturday morning. We meet at a different local location each week at 6:30am. The walks vary from flat sidewalks to canyons to street inclines. Members often stay after the walk for coffee and conversation. At least once a year, the group will train for a half-marathon together, walk longer mileages and encourage each other to walk regularly to prepare. The average pace is a 15 minute mile. It is "power walk" speed.

It is so enjoyable to walk and talk! I don't have to use music to keep my pace, I just keep up with the walker next to me. It is wonderful to chat with different people every mile or so. I enjoy meeting new members and reconnecting with current Smilers. Sometimes, on the longer walks, I will walk with one person for an hour or so. When else do you get the chance to have a good, long conversation without interruptions? The miles fly by when you are talking with a friend.

It's been proven that people imitate the behaviors of the groups they spend time with. What a great idea to spend time with people who model healthy lifestyles. 

If you are interested in participating, contact me using the form to the right of this blog and I will get you the information you need. I hope to see you on a Saturday morning very soon!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Broccoli - a little green miracle?

I just learned some amazing things about broccoli. I never knew it was such a great addition to my diet and actually influences weight gain.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and legumes such as chickpeas and beans all contain oligosaccharides, which protect cells from free radicals that can lead to cancer. In addition, oligosaccharides act as decoy molecules to attract infectious bacteria. The bacteria is locked in and ushered out of the body through the digestive system. One study noted that a diet high in oligosaccharides helps prevent tumor formation.

In order to get the benefits, you do have to eat the broccoli. A typical Western diet free of crunchy plants leads to a unique situation in your gut. The several trillion good bacteria that live inside you will shift from a population of mainly Bacteriodetes, which convert plant matter to food, to a population of Firmicutes, which love sugar & flour. A gastrointestinal tract populated mainly by Firmicutes is associated with quicker weight gain and also makes it harder to get the weight off. Lean people have gastrointestinal tracts that are mainly full of Bacteriodetes and obese people have gastrointestinal tracts that are mainly full of Firmicutes.

What you eat quickly creates an ecosystem inside you, which in turn influences your health. It's been determined that if you start eating crunchy high-fiber vegetables today, your gut inhabitants will start to repopulate in a direction favoring Bacteriodetes in as little as 24 hours.

Add some crunchy veggies to your diet this week. Sugar-snap peas, green beans, cucumber slices and Belgian endive leaves are great options in addition to the other green miracle workers already mentioned.

As always, enjoy your food!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Combining Protein and Carbohydrates

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about how important it is to eat a little protein at each snack or mini-meal. Here are some combinations I enjoy.

Non-fat cottage cheese with sliced grape tomatoes & a little celery salt

Non-fat cottage cheese with canned peaches (packed in juice not syrup)

Non-fat plain yogurt with frozen blueberries

Non-fat plain yogurt with low-fat granola

Peanut butter and apple slices (or banana slices)
(read the ingredient list on the peanut butter - look for just peanuts & salt)

Peanut butter on a rice cake topped with snipped dates

A handful of dates and a handful of walnuts

Mix the dates & walnuts with some non-fat plain yogurt

Mini Babybel Light cheese & baby carrots

Low-fat string cheese & whole wheat crackers (read the ingredient label on the box)

A hard-boiled egg & half a grapefruit

A hard-boiled egg & a handful of snap peas

Broccoli & hummus

Hummus on a rice cake topped with sliced cucumber

Tahini Dip with any vegetables

Here's the Tahini Dip recipe. I make a big batch and keep it on-hand for lunch, snacks or appetizers. So delicious!

1 jar (about 15 oz) of tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 cup lemon juice (fresh is better but bottled OK)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 large bunch parsley, chopped finely

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, stirring until well mixed. Divide into small sealed  containers and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before using.

Another tip: Make sure you put your snack on a plate and sit down at a table. Be conscious you are eating. Try not to eat mindlessly while doing something else. And above all, enjoy your food.