Wednesday, December 23, 2015

 Merry Christmas! 
Thanks to all of you in my private training, group fitness and blog communities who have helped make 2015 a fabulous year for Priority Fitness Burbank. 
I've had a wonderful time getting to know some of you better and helping you prioritize fitness in your lives. It's great to see progress and have fun working out together. 
Anticipating many more times of fun and fitness in 2016. Look for more Saturday Boot Camp sessions in late spring.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Healthy Indulgences

To splurge or not to splurge? That is the perennial weight-loss question, especially at this time of year. Create a mindful strategy and enjoy guilt-free treats this Christmas.

It's important not to use indulgences as a reward for eating healthy. It's better to own the reality that you ate a special food and that it has an assigned place in your healthy life than to justify its consumption because you ate well all week long. It's not about earning a privilege. It's about living a balanced life that fosters good health. Here are a few supportive strategies:

Limit the indulgence to a meal or part of a meal. This way, your day still includes ample nutrition versus having a "cheat day" of indulgent foods and no nutrients. You'll be more likely to follow up the next day with a full routine of nutritious foods and not feel like you fell off your program.

Plan for it. Plan for your special holiday meals and treats. It's something to look forward to. And because its planned, that does away with the guilty feeling. When you plan for an indulgence, it lets you thoughtfully select the food.

Make it worth it. If ice cream sounds good, don't buy a diet or low-sugar brand. Go for the good stuff with a short ingredient list of real foods - not junk and chemicals. The good stuff will truly satisfy and you can relish each bite.

Our everyday nutrient-filled foods are vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains and healthy oils. You can include indulgences in your balanced life of healthy eating. Remember that food is for our pleasure not our punishment. Be mindful with food choices and, above all,

Enjoy Your Food

Friday, December 11, 2015

Four More Survival Tips for Health Under Pressure

Last week, I talked about lifestyle changes that can help our bodies stay healthy in our fast-paced culture. I mentioned eating a whole-foods breakfast, taking vitamins, keeping healthy snacks at work and reserving three minutes in the morning to prepare for the day. Here are a few more ideas for creating a balanced week.

6. Set a timer to trigger 10 to 15-minute breaks every two hours. This will help keep your body's ultradian rhythms on an even keel, priming your body and brain to operate at peak effectiveness throughout extended days.

7. Take a weekly yoga, meditation or relaxation class. The more your sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system is activated, the more you need to cultivate your parasympathetic (rest-relax-digest-and-connect) nervous system for balance.

8. Keep a water bottle with a splash of juice or a slice of cucumber within reach at all times. That little touch of flavor sets up a "return to substance" relationship between your brain and the water. You'll drink more, stay better hydrated and function better as a result.

9. Use your commute to decompress. Meditate, breathe or listen to something calming rather than being in continuous contact with your handheld or to-do list.

Don't Just Survive, Thrive!
Keep Moving and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, December 4, 2015

Staying Healthy Under Pressure

The holiday season has begun. You can feel the pressure. It's the time when we have more to do and more events to add to our already stretched schedules. In the midst of all this, we also have to be thinking about our health. Because, let's face it, once our health starts to go, we've got a whole new set of crises on our hands. So here's the bigger question: How can we safeguard the energy that is so critical to our effectiveness while living in our busy culture? Here are a few survival tips for staying healthy under pressure:

1. Take three minutes in the morning for YOU. Before you turn on the electronics, light a candle, take some deep breaths, say a prayer and set your intentions for the day. Having a few moments of sanity first thing in the morning can change the way you relate to the rest of your day.

2. Make and eat a whole-foods breakfast. Try a smoothie or some oatmeal. Scramble a couple of eggs with spinach. You need fuel for your body for hours. Good nutrition will sustain your brain and body during stressful situations.

3. Take your vitamins. Your body goes through B vitamins at a faster clip when you are stressed. Your mental and physical capacity may be diminished if you are short on essential nutrients. Try a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral, B-complex, vitamin D and an essential fatty-acid supplement.

4. Keep healthy snacks at work. Blood sugar crashes and carb cravings will become a thing of the past. Include protein and your brain will thank you for the extra amino acids.

5. Master a few body-weight exercises you can do anywhere. Planks, pushups, wall squats and lunges target multiple muscle groups, strengthen your core and encourage correct posture.

Prioritize Your Health This Week
Stay Active     Keep Moving!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Practice Compassion for Heatlh

Last week, I blogged about how gratitude can help keep you healthy. In addition, compassion is good for us, altering our physiology to boost not just happiness but well-being.

Compassion - a natural desire to soothe others' suffering - is expressed in the brain and affects our peripheral physiology. Compassion triggers a powerful biological response. It leads to an increase in vagal tone, which is the neuroconnection between your brain, heart, and other organs in your body. This response downregulates your body's sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response) and upregulates your parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-relax mechanism).

Cole and Fredrickson evaluated the levels of cellular inflammation in people who describe themselves as “very happy.” Inflammation is at the root of cancer and other diseases and is generally high in people who live under a lot of stress. We might expect that inflammation would be lower for people with higher levels of happiness. Cole and Fredrickson found that this was only the case for certain “very happy” people. They found that people who were happy because they lived a life of pleasure (sometimes also know as “hedonic happiness”) had high inflammation levels; on the other hand, people who were happy because they lived a life of purpose or meaning had low inflammation levels. A life of meaning and purpose is one focused less on satisfying oneself and more on others. It is a life rich in compassion and altruism.

One of the reasons that compassion may protect against stress is that it is so pleasurable. Motivation, however, seems to play an important role in predicting whether a compassionate lifestyle actually benefits our health. Researchers discovered that people who engaged in volunteerism lived longer than their non-volunteering peers—but only if their reasons for volunteering were altruistic rather than self-serving.

According to James Doty, neurosurgeon, while operating in a compassionate mindset, "you're relaxed, you're open, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, and you are much more creative and open to new ideas. You look at the world in a completely different way. And the ultimate effect is that you are healthier and happier."

Practice Compassion This Week
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Keeps You Healthy

During Thanksgiving week, people around the United States express gratitude for the bounty of their lives, but many may not realize that in doing so, they're also improving the quality of their health and increasing their life expectancies.

Gratefulness is linked with optimism, which in turn is linked with better immune health. For example, a University of Utah study showed that stressed-out law students who were optimistic had more immune-boosting blood cells than people who were pessimistic. We can all use a boost to our immune systems this winter!
Another study showed that appreciation and positive emotions are linked with changes in heart rate variability. This may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and in reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.

Writing down what you're thankful for as you drift off to sleep can help you get better sleep. Specifically, researchers found that when people spent 15 minutes jotting down what they're grateful for in a journal before bedtime, they fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.

Finally, in one study, one group of participants were asked to name five things they’re grateful for every day, while another group was asked to list five hassles. Those expressing gratitude were not only happier and more optimistic, they reported fewer physical symptoms (such as headache, cough, nausea, or acne). Other gratitude studies have shown that those with chronic illnesses demonstrate clinical improvement when practicing regular gratitude.

Here are some simple things you can do to build positive momentum toward a more happy and fulfilling life:

1) Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed.

2) Make it a practice to tell a spouse or friend something you appreciate about them every day.

3) Look in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth, and think about something you have done well recently or something you like about yourself.

Thankfulness feels good, it's good for you and it's a blessing for the people around you, too. It's such a win-win-win that I'd say we have cause for gratitude.

Practice Thankfulness This Week
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Step Up Your Routine

Want to boost the intensity of your exercise? Try adding some stairs to your weekly workouts. When you run on a flat surface, your glutes are basically taking a nap. When you have to climb, those glutes fire up. That's why running up stairs can burn up to 953 calories per hour.

Stairs are unique because the flat landing spot of each step causes you to strike with your mid-foot rather than the ball of your foot. You use your whole leg, not just your calf, to push off. Striking every step requires quick muscle activation, which can make you speedier on your runs. In addition, if you take two steps at a time, your muscles are contracted over a wider range. This requires more power, which can improve your endurance.

Since the steps are tougher, you don't need to dedicate a lot of time. Women who walked up & down stairs for 10 minutes a day five days a week improved their cardiovascular health by 17% within two months. A 20 minute session at this intensity will give you a complete workout.

Here is a simple plan.  Incorporate both sprints up the stairs and climbing two steps at a time. I also like to include a crossover step, moving up the stairs sideways. Make sure you change the lead leg with the crossover step. Do some incline pushups and plank walks on the bottom two steps. Turn around and do tricep dips. Finish with some abs to complete your workout. Of course, I have more ways to mix it up and make it fun but you will have to connect with me in person for that!

Take the Stairs this Week
Stay Active & Enjoy Your Food

Friday, November 6, 2015

Brussels Sprouts - Horrible or Heavenly?

Fall weather is upon us. I feel like I can finally think about roasting vegetables, baking squashes, and preparing big pots of soup. Roasted Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite side dishes in the winter.

Some people have a hard time enjoying Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Despite what your family said, it might not all be in your head. Research reveals that roughly one quarter of us carry a taste-receptor gene that's super sensitive to bitter flavors. Those of us who do not carry this gene eat 200 more servings of veggies every year. If you are in the group that is super-sensitive, try these ideas to mellow the bitterness and increase your servings of vegetables this winter.

Brussels Sprouts
Shred them raw in salads or cook them quickly (the longer they break down, the more bitter they become).  Sear them in a pan until caramelized.

Broccoli Rabe
Boil it 10 seconds, then drain, to tame it's pungent flavor. Or pair rabe with a fat (turkey bacon or sausage) and some heat (think cayenne or jalapeno)

Char it in a cast-iron skillet, then sprinkle with feta or blue cheese. Or saute it until just wilted and combine with a sweeter vegetable like carrots.

Enjoy Your Veggies This Winter
Stay Active & Keep Moving

Friday, October 30, 2015

Don't be a Turkey - Join Us!

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 and stroller-pushers. Costumes welcome! There is a Kiddie Run and Fun Zone for the little ones. In addition, you'll get a wicking-fabric race shirt to exercise in all 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 get their sweat on before sitting down to dinner. It's fun to see so many friends gathered for the event. John and I will be power walking the 5K course with Sadie Mae. Don't miss my turkey feather headband and John's turkey hat! Last year, we even got on the TV news.

 Pre-register before race day to save $5 at

Stay Active, Keep Moving 
Have Fun

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trick or Treat Temptations

Don't eat the whole treat, just go for your favorite part. For example, if you love the tops of cupcakes best, eat just them; there's no rule saying you must also eat the base of the cupcake. It's not a free ride -- you're still consuming calories and fat -- but you're slimming down your totals with the smaller portion.

Get rid of additional servings of Halloween candies. It's not budget-conscious, but it is belly-conscious. For example, if you love mellowcrème pumpkins but can't find them in a single-serving pack, set aside your allotted amount, then sit and nibble at each one, slowly, attentively. Then toss what remains.

Chew gum. Sugarless gum gives your mouth a burst of sweet sensation for very few calories. Studies have shown that gum chewing satisfies a sweet tooth, overcomes the urge to eat candy, and helps manage hunger pangs to hold you over until your next meal.

Sip on a low-calorie beverage. Keep your hands and mouth busy by drinking a zero-calorie cup of hot tea or glass of sparkling water. Light hot chocolate can satisfy your sweet tooth for fewer calories than most fun-size chocolate bars.

Clear candy out of the house when the calendar says November. Give it away to some deserving teenager or throw it away.

Enjoy a Candy, just not the Whole Bag

Friday, October 16, 2015

Is Texting Harming Your Health?

The average person sends or receives 50 texts daily. That doesn't account for the rest of the time we spend on our phones - talking, surfing the Web or using apps. All that fiddling with our phones can have a negative effect on our bodies.

Breathing Issues
Forward-leaning posture can impede breathing. Dropping the head and rounding the shoulders makes taking full, deep breaths harder. The position decreases our heart's and lung's ability to function effectively. In addition, researchers have found that individuals hold their breath or breath shallowly while texting.
Take a break now and then to breath slowly and deeply. Get up and stretch. Set a timer if you need to.

Aching Neck and Sore Back
Texting's habitual head-down posture can put dangerous pressure on the spine. An adult head weighs 10-12 pounds and, as we tilt it forward, it exerts up to 60 pounds of pressure at a 60-degree angle.
Raise your phone so your ears are directly above your shoulders.

Texting Thumb
Gripping and holding a cell phone can constrict our flexor tendons. Because our thumbs do not have the dexterity of our other fingers, excess texting can result in pain. The pain is usually on the outside of your thumb around the wrist. You may also suffer from a decrease in grip strength.
Use your phone's voice recognition feature rather than manually texting. Try using other fingers.

Text Claw
Because texting requires fine-motor activity, it may lead to "text claw". This is habitual clenching that can lead to repetitive stress injuries such as tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Regularly stretch and move hands through their full range of motion. 

Be Aware of Your Body While Texting Today
And remember, never text while driving

Friday, October 9, 2015

Grab a Leash and Get Moving!

This past summer I was devastated to find out our 2-year-old dog, Mattox, had cancer. I was sad to say goodbye to him at the beginning of August. Last week, I welcomed a 5-month-old Black Mouth Cur puppy, Sadie Mae, to my family and have added daily dog walks back into my routine.

Research shows that dogs are actually nature’s perfect personal trainers—loyal, hardworking, energetic and enthusiastic. And, unlike your friends, who may skip an exercise session because of appointments, extra chores or bad weather, dogs never give you an excuse to forego exercising. Consistency is the key with any exercise program and this is where your dog can help.

A survey of dog owners, conducted at the University of Western Australia, revealed that dogs are great motivators for walking because they provide a strong motivation to maintain exercise, are good walking companions, and provide good social support while exercising.

The exercise is beneficial for your dog, too. A fit dog is healthier and a tired dog is calmer for the rest of the day. In addition, daily walks are a great way to bond with your dog. A closer bond will help your dog to be more responsive to your commands. An obedient dog becomes a blessing, not a curse.

How can you include dog-walking in your day? Establish a walking schedule; plan to walk 30 minutes each day. This might include a 10 minute neighborhood walk in the morning and a 20 minute walk in the park in the afternoon. Or maybe three 10-minute walks fit better into your day. Don't count your dog's potty stops as a walk. Make sure these times are exercise for both of you. If dog-walking is scheduled into your day, you'll feel more responsible for sticking to your program. Plus, your dog will get used to the routine and will remind you when "it's time"!

I really enjoy walking in different neighborhoods, exploring parts of Burbank I rarely visit. I like to take advantage of the hills above the city and hike in Stough or Wildwood Canyons. It is fun to have a partner to go with as I explore pocket parks and cul-de-sac neighborhoods I don't usually drive through. After a hard workout, my muscles can get sore and stiff. Walking with the dog is just what I need to loosen up and stretch those muscles a little bit.

Add dog-walking to your weekly exercise program, 
Enjoy your canine companion and 
Stay active.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Your New BFFs (best fiber friends)

Most people are familiar with the fact that fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. You may not know that different kinds of fiber exist, each with different functions.

Insoluble Fiber keeps you regular and stengthens your intestinal muscles. This strong fiber is found in plant cell walls and cannot dissolve in water or be digested, so it passes through while giving you a plethora of benefits. This type of fiber can prevent constipation, reduce cardiovascular and Type 2 diabetes risk factors, help maintain healthy weight, and curb appetite.
brown rice, wheat bran, beets, bananas, apples, pumpkin, all leafy greens

Soluble Fiber helps to regulate blood glucose, lower blood pressure and supports good bacteria growth which keeps your immune system strong. This fiber dissolves in water and swells up, forming a gel that grabs bile and eliminates it. This forces the liver to pull more cholesterol out of the blood, indirectly reducing "bad" LDL cholesterol.
beans, oat cereals, Brussel sprouts, oranges, flaxseed

Resistant Starch resists digestion, quickly passing through while promoting good-bug flora that produce cancer-fighting butyrate fatty acids. This fiber helps the body resist colo-rectal cancer by killing precancerous cells and reducing inflammation that can promote cancer. Interestingly, it is recommended that these foods be eaten at room temperature to reap the cancer-fighting benefits.
cooled pastas, potatoes, legumes, oatmeal, rice, under-ripe bananas

Functional Fibers are isolated and added to processed products. Nutrition labels list insoluble and soluble fibers. Know the function of the fibers you choose. For example, wheat dextrin controls blood sugar but, unlike psyllium, cannot reduce cholesterol. For detailed information:

Fiber supplements are great; food is always better. Isolated ingredients cannot replace the abundant benefits that consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables seeds, nuts and whole grains can give.

Eat Well and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, September 25, 2015

Benefits of Cycling

While on our amazing trip to Vancouver, B.C., we biked through Stanley Park and throughout the downtown areas. Cycling gave us a close-up overview of the whole city while moving our bodies and enjoying the outdoors. Add biking to your fitness plan and reap the benefits.

Easy and Low Impact - Biking can be enjoyed by people of all ages. That makes it a perfect match for family fun or socializing with friends. Once you learn, you always remember how to combine balancing and pedaling. Riding a bike is a great way for beginners to start an exercise program. It is low impact, so there is less stress on achy joints and can be a fun way to ease into moving your body regularly. The low-impact aspect is also great for athletes recovering from an injury.

Fits into your Day - Riding your bike to work can be a great way to fit an exercise routine into your work week. Many people report that the ride home from work is a welcome decompress session that helps them transition to evening activities. Riding to school with your children can be a great way to model a healthy lifestyle. When you cycle to the gym, you arrive having already completed your warm-up and cardio sessions!

Can Vary Intensity - Bicycling is very versatile. You can do a fun family ride, stopping often and talking with your children. Biking can be a relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors on your own and notice details in your neighborhood that you might miss if you were driving. Or cycling can be an intense workout, challenging cardio limits and strength.

Try Cycling This Week! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Blue Mind

In modern life, we all experience chronic stress. Our "always on" lifestyle can eventually result in memory problems, poor judgement, anxiety, depression and over-reliance on alcohol and drugs for relaxation. Current research in cognitive neuroscience indicates that spending time around water shifts your psyche to Blue Mind. Water seems to amplify nature's soothing, healing qualities. A watery environment can provide rest for the brain.

In a natural environment on or near water, there's a high degree of predictability. A body of water is largely the same from moment to moment. This allows our brain to relax. Against this consistent background, the brain continues to search for something that wasn't there before. When the brain notices a disturbance on the surface, like a wave or water bird, there's a sense of novelty and surprise accompanied by a pleasure hit of dopamine. Because bodies of water stay the same and change simultaneously, we experience both soothing familiarity and stimulating novelty. The brain shifts to a state of involuntary attention - essential to creativity and problem solving. This dreamy state is a key characteristic of Blue Mind.

It might be easiest to access Blue Mind at the beach. Near the ocean there is an abundance of negatively charged ions in the atmosphere which have been found to lower blood lactate levels and elevate mood. But there are plenty of ways to interact with water and receive its benefits.

The feel-good effects of swimming are similar to hatha yoga. Muscles are constantly stretching and relaxing accompanied by deep, rhythmic breathing. The combination of cognitive effort and aerobic exercise involved in swimming can provide the brain with the satisfying, stress-reducing feeling of "flow".

One of the huge advantages of water is that you don't need to meditate to realize its healing effects, because it meditates you. Watching and listening to splashing water can produce a quieting effect. In one study, cancer patients experienced a 20-30% reduction in stress hormones after watching a nature video of waterfalls. Even something as modest as a fishbowl or a tiny fountain on your desk can be enough to markedly reduce your body's reaction to stress.

Immersion in water reduces stress, partly by balancing the flux between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. A 2006 study found that spa bathing significantly reduced levels of salivary gland cortisol in college students. Other studies have found that hot tubs and five-minute hot showers can measurably lower anxiety levels. Hydrotherapy was shown to help reduce the psychological stress and physical symptoms of a group of 139 people with rheumatoid arthritis. Add Epsom salts to assist with muscles soreness.

Connect With Water This Week To Reduce Stress
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, September 4, 2015

Protein Shakes for Busy Mornings

School has started and we are all back on our fall schedule. Maybe you are making a protein shake to simplify your busy mornings. While getting nutrients from whole foods is best, protein powder is an easy and convenient way to boost your daytime intake. It can be a viable option fro those who are trying to lose weight or gain muscle. When you scan the shelves, there are so many choices. How can you choose the right one for you?

Whey is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. The body absorbs it efficiently so it is a good option for replenishing muscles after a workout. Sip a smoothie that contains a three to one ratio of carbs to protein after your workout to help your muscles function at their peak.  
123 calories/28 g protein

Your body digests this dairy-based complete protein more slowly than whey. Casein is absorbed steadily and can help you feel full longer. It is naturally high in glutamine, which helps reduce muscle soreness.  
137 calories/24 g protein

This is a plant-based complete protein. It contains isoflavones, which improve bone density and may fight free radicals in the body. The strong flavor is best combined with bananas, peanut butter or cocoa powder. Be cautious - a high consumption of soy protein can increase breast cancer risk among some women. Soy may also reduce the effectiveness of your natural thyroid hormones.  
120 calories/25 g protein

This plant-based protein powder is absorbed slowly, like the casein, and can help keep you from feeling hungry. Check the label to make sure the supplement has at least 2000 mg of leucine, an amino acid that enhances muscle repair and growth. Pea protein is not a complete protein, so eat other sources throughout the day. 
103 calories/23 g protein

This is a near-complete protein with nine grams of fiber per scoop. This combo helps promote satiety and weight loss. Hemp powder contains omega-6 fatty acids, good fats that can reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease. Hemp is more expensive and has less protein per scoop than most others.  
100 calories/12 g protein

Brown Rice
This grain creates a protein powder rich in B vitamins, fiber and iron. As it is easy to digest, it is a good option for those with stomach problems or allergies. The naturally occurring arsenic in rice can concentrate in a powder. Read labels before choosing a brand. 
50 calories/10 g protein

Eat a Healthy Breakfast This Week
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, August 28, 2015

Free Zumba Classes


Zumba classes Saturday afternoons in September

Are you looking for a group to motivate you to maintain your workouts, challenge your fitness level and to just have fun with? 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. Try something new in 2015, add variety to your workout program and meet new people.

September 12, 19 and 26

12 - 1 pm

Bring water, towel, family, friends & kids!

Taught by my friend and colleague JoDee Geryak
AFAA certified and Zumba certified instructor at the Burbank YMCA

Classes are absolutely free!

Classes will be held at St. Francis Xavier Church
Holy Cross Hall
3801 Scott Road, Burbank

Friday, August 21, 2015

Benefits of Massage

We all know massage will ease those sore muscles after a tough workout. Just 10 minutes can reduce inflammation, which can help your body recover. However, the health benefits of touch extend beyond simply soothing aches and pains. Here are just three benefits you might not know about:

It counteracts all that sitting you do
“Most individuals are dealing with some kind of postural stress,” says Aaron Tanason, registered massage therapist and kinesiologist. “More often than not [that stress] tends to manifest in the shoulders and neck.” More advanced forms of postural stress “show up as pain or weakness in the low back and gluteals caused by prolonged periods of sitting.” Massage can counteract the imbalance caused from sitting.
It can reduce stress and pain
In a review of research on the topic, it was determined that massage therapy lowers cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 31 percent. And when cortisol levels decline, serotonin, one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms, increases. In the review, serotonin grew by an average of 28 percent after massage therapy. So by lowering cortisol, you boost your ability to fend off pain.  Research found that a single session of massage therapy has an immediate effect on perceived pain in patients with chronic tension headaches.

It boosts immunity
Studies of women with breast cancer found that when cortisol levels are up, natural killer (NK) cells are down. Natural killer cells are the front line of the immune system. They kill cancer cells, viral cells and bacterial cells, so you definitely want them up. In one study, for instance, women with stages 1 and 2 breast cancer were given 30-minute massages three times a week for five weeks. At the end of the study, the women had lower depression and hostility levels and increased urinary levels of serotonin, dopamine, NK cells and lymphocytes—all of which suggested their immune systems were stronger. Another study found that massage boosts patients' white blood cell count (which plays a large role in defending the body from disease).

Treat Your Body Well and Get a Massage This Week

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Exercise Outdoors

Last weekend, I hiked with my cousin during our Girl's Weekend Getaway in Phoenix. Despite the desert heat, it was great to move our bodies, experience the mountains up close and chat with other hikers on the trail. Exercising outdoors has been shown to be significantly different than indoor workouts.

Science suggests there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill or a track. You stride differently when running outdoors, for one thing. Generally, people flex their ankles more when they run outside. They also, at least occasionally, run downhill, a movement that isn’t easily done on a treadmill and that stresses muscles differently than running on flat or uphill terrain. Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version. In studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.

In another study, volunteers were asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside, usually on a treadmill or around a track, the other outdoors. In virtually all of the studies, the volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more and, on subsequent psychological tests, scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem and lower on tension, depression and fatigue after they walked outside.

Another small study found that people have lower blood levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, after exerting themselves outside as compared with inside. There’s speculation, too, that exposure to direct sunlight, known to affect mood, plays a role.

Take Your Workout Outside This Week
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, August 7, 2015

Smoothies Can Be a Healthy Choice

Smoothies are thick shake-type drinks filled mainly with fruit or vegetables and other nutrient dense ingredients.  They make wonderful options for a meal or a snack when made with natural items. The number of healthy ingredients available for smoothies is practically limitless. After your basic fruits and vegetables, you can add an array of the various spices, herbs, seeds, nuts and more. The possibilities and combinations are endless.

Will drinking a meal make me ravenous?
Studies show that consuming protein, fiber or fat helps you feel full. A drink that packs all three is satisfying. Be sure to carefully choose your ingredients to create a complete meal. Also; blend, blend, blend - up to five minutes. Another study found that incorporating air into the the liquid makes the drink more filling.  

Practice calorie and portion control
Smoothies do provide fiber, as the entire fruit often goes into the blender, skins and all, but they still contain a lot of calories. Choosing a vegetable-based juice in your smoothie is one way to reduce the sugar content. We all crave sweets from time to time. Replace the treat you would normally splurge on with a healthy alternative in a smoothie. But remember, practice portion control. Smoothies are a meal-replacement.

Avoid pre-made smoothies
Don't be fooled by the claims that smoothies made from prepackaged mixes with chemically altered ingredients are a wise health food option and weight loss tool.  These products are purely a marketing ploy to make you think you are living healthfully. 

Try this Apple Pie Smoothie
In a blender, pulse, five raw almonds. Add an apple (leave the skin on), 3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup nonfat milk, one banana, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Delicious!

Drink a Smoothie, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, July 31, 2015

Jogging with a Stroller

As moms, sometimes we struggle to fit in our workouts. Jogging strollers are a great way to keep your little one entertained and get some exercise at the same time. Pushing 25 or so pounds of stroller plus the weight of your child will, of course, slow you down - by about 30 seconds per mile. But pushing the stroller will burn more calories while you run.  Then, when you do run solo, it will feel so much easier.

Be aware of your form.

*Don't hunch over the handlebar, and alternate your right hand and left hands so your other arm can maintain a pumping motion. 
*If you have a double-wide stroller, you'll probably need to keep both hands on the stroller for better control. Similarly, if you're going up or down a significant hill, hold on tight with both hands with the wrist strap secure around one. But in flat areas where you can really go, it's a good idea to alternate hands.
*Make sure you are not leaning into the stroller, especially near the end of a run when you are tired. Rather, stay upright and keep your elbows bent.

Jog with other moms for accountability and fun. 

Connect with a friend from playgroup, from the gym or church and meet up for runs. Working out with a friend guarantees a more consistent exercise schedule and is more fun! Fleet Feet, a running store in Burbank, sponsors a stroller jogging group on Thursday mornings. Click for more information.

Keep safety in mind when out with your jogger.

*The safest strollers have a wrist strap that's connected to the handlebar. Use it. Also, many jogging strollers have a lever that you can flip to lock the back wheels. The stroller will move down the slightest hills if the wheels aren't locked. Don't risk it.
*Remember, you're responsible for two people when you're running with a stroller. Be paranoid about whether the route is safe, if the weather is too extreme, if it's too dark, or any number of other factors. Never let your guard down.

Keep Jogging, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Little One

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hopping Can Lead to Strong Bones

Hopping on one leg can significantly improve bone density. British researchers have used 3D bone strength mapping to reveal remarkable gains.  The men were asked to hop on only one leg and the study compared the density and mass of the hip area of both legs.

Hopped On Leg
Cortical Hip Bone Mass increased by 2.7%
with localized regions of hip neck and shaft gaining 6% in exercised leg

Trabecular Density increased by 6.4%
inferior region of hip neck reached 12% gains in hopping leg

Cortical Density increased by 1.8%

These impressive results were obtained by 70-year old men who would normally experience aging bone loss each year. The gains were from the impact with each hop delivering 2.7 to 3 times body weight ground resistance force. While the study was done with men, there is no reason why women would not achieve the same gains from brief single-legged hopping. Most likely, one would obtain substantial benefits from one-legged hopping even if they did not reach the high impact level used in this study.

Try this plan:
*Warm up before each session
*Begin with low hops and jump higher each week
*Start with just a few one-legged hops each day and work up to 5 sets of 10
*Rest between sets, walking in place a bit
*Hold a chair for balance, if necessary
*As you get stronger, make hops multi-directional. Jump forward/back & side to side.

All of us are concerned with bone density as we age. I prefer to try natural methods to achieve health gains before turning to medication with it's potential side effects. This simple program can help all of us combat age-related bone loss and lead to better health overall. Include single-leg hops in your weekly exercise routine.

Hop Daily, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Battling the Belly Bulge

Women who are chronically stressed tend to have more belly fat than those who aren't. When you're frazzled, your body pumps out substances that encourage food to be stored as body fat. Anxiety also revs production of the stress hormone cortisol, which, in addition to increasing your appetite, causes fat cells to grow in your abdomen.

Here are three ideas to help battle the bulge. 

Take a Power Walk
A 15-minute cruise around the neighborhood right after eating helps reduce the damaging blood sugar spikes that occur after meals. Also aim to get up and walk around at least once an hour. The more time you spend sitting, the bigger your waist size.

Chew Gum
Chomping on a stick of gum is proven to lower cortisol levels. A theory says that the act of chewing may relieve tension and increase blood flow to the brain, so you can better concentrate. Also when you have gum in your mouth, you can't snack on sugary, fatty foods.

Do Dairy
Women who had three servings of milk, yogurt or cheese a day lost more belly fat after 12 weeks than those who had fewer. Calcium and other compounds in dairy help the body burn fat faster. If you can't stomach dairy, try calcium- and vitamin D- fortified orange juice instead.

We know that exercise is essential to burning calories and maintaining health. Be sure to include both cardio and strength training for maximum results. Combine that with sensible portions and healthy food choices and you will be on the road to success in flattening your belly.

Smile, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Swim This Summer

The City of Burbank has a fabulous resource for all of us with its two outdoor public pools. Summer is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity to cross-train and add swimming or aquatic classes to your weekly workouts.

Burbank aquatic programs offer recreational swim, swim lessons, water polo & swim team, lifeguard certifications and even a Splash Pad & waterpark for the kids. For us exercisers, there are Aqua Fitness classes and lap swim.

Verdugo Pool offers both Short Course (25 yards) and Long Course (50 meters) swim times. Long Course is available in the mornings from 5:30 - 8:30am. After that, Short Course is available for most of the day until 8:30pm. Verdugo Pool is open year-round. Once you try adding swimming to your workout schedule, you may really love it. Know that you can continue lap swimming outdoors at this pool throughout the year.

McCambridge Pool also offers the Long Course in the mornings from 9:00 am - 12:45pm and in the evenings 4:30 - 7:00pm. In the past, McCambridge Pool has operated on the school schedule, opening when school gets out for the summer and closing when school starts. This year McCambridge is scheduled to close August 16,

Both pools offer open showers and lockers. Lifeguards monitor the lap swim for safety.

Swimming promotes cardio fitness, flexibility, agility & coordination as well as strength. It asks your muscles to coordinate and work in a completely different way than land-based exercise so it is a perfect complement to what you already do in your fitness regime. Aqua Fitness can provide relief for painful knees while getting your heart rate up and increasing strength.

For specific information,

This Summer 
Swim, Get Wet and Have Fun!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Fit Mindset

The fit mindset can be described as the philosophy that healthy living is not a series of must-dos but instead about curiosity, participation and celebration. When you're in the fit mindset you know that making a 7am yoga class isn't a hassle but an opportunity - for mental clarity and physical well-being. It's not just a task to be crossed off a daily list but a personal reward.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is viewing healthy living from the point of view that there's an endgame: "For this period of time I will give up this food group until I reach this number on the scale." And while goals are important - without them we remain static, frustrated or just plain stuck - when you're in the fit mindset, they shift to being about empowerment, not recrimination.

All of us have some aches, pains and limitations. But there is so much our bodies can do. Celebrate the movement that is good for you and within your ability.  I can park far away and walk into the mall. I can hike up the hill at Stough Canyon. I can bend & stretch and play with my dog.

Enjoy the summer opportunities you have to move this week. A beautiful evening offers the option of a relaxing walk after dinner. An early sunrise is a chance to wake slowly with gentle yoga and meditation. Feel strong & powerful in strength class.

Enjoy the foods you eat this week. Summer fruits are juicy and satisfying. A cold glass of tea quenches on a hot day. Savor a dripping ice cream cone shared with a friend.

In the fit mindset, it's not about what you can't have but what you can. It's living fully and completely and engaging with life. Good food choices and opportunities for movement are a personal reward. Reward yourself this summer!

Focus on the Fit Mindset, Keep Moving and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mind Tricks for Healthy Eating

All of us struggle from time to time with making healthy food choices. Here are a few tricks I use to help me eat moderately.

When you are preparing or eating a meal, promise yourself that you will eat healthy for Just This Meal. It can be overwhelming to think about sticking to your food plan for the entire day, and especially for the entire week. But most of us can adhere to healthy eating for one meal. Once you have success with that meal, often you will be encouraged to continue through to the next. Always give yourself a "high five" for choosing healthy food at a meal.

Another strategy for success can be delayed gratification. After eating your healthy meal with moderate portions, you might still feel hungry. Promise yourself that you will eat more if you are still hungry in 30 minutes.  Usually, at this point, your body will have had time to process the satiety signals and you will feel satisfied. If I have been exercising a lot, sometimes I will still be hungry after the 30 minutes. Then I will have a second small meal.

Many of us like to have something sweet at the end of a meal. A giant bowl of ice cream or a hunk of cake can fill that need but what other options do we have? I mentioned before in my previous blog on Talking Yourself Out of Temptation that the first few bites of any food are the most satisfying. Given that logic, we only need something small to give us that sweet satisfaction. A date is very sweet as is a handful of raisins. Any dried fruit is super concentrated and sweet. A lollipop or a peppermint or a chocolate kiss all give that sweetness without a calorie binge. My daughter makes sweet protein balls with peanut butter & dried fruit. I like non-fat plain yogurt with a drizzle of honey. A sliced banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter is sweet & filling. Being prepared with a sweet option in mind can help you say NO to the ice cream & cake and still enjoy that sweet taste at the end of a meal.

Eat Thoughtfully, Stay Active & Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 12, 2015

Holy Yoga

I have enjoyed a wonderful class on Monday nights called Holy Yoga. It is taught by Allison LaBianca, a certified yoga teacher. Holy Yoga is experiential worship created to deepen people's connection to Christ. The sole purpose is to facilitate a Christ honoring experience that offers an opportunity to believers and non-believers alike to authentically connect to God through His Word, worship, and wellness.

This particular class is Gentle Yoga. Many of the poses are relaxing and stretching. No previous experience required and no fitness level needed. This class can be described as yoga with Jesus. The teacher includes Scripture, prayer, Christian music and meditation. I really enjoy moving my body and opening my heart & spirit for renewal and refreshment. Allison also does a little relaxing touch if the participant desires.

The class I attend is at 6:30pm at Fellowship Church on Angeleno Avenue between Glenoaks Blvd and Third Street in Burbank. There is a suggested donation of $8 but Allison says don't let price bar you from attending. Bring your own mat. Allison teaches other levels on Thursday and Saturday mornings at different locations. You can contact Allsion at and get on her newsletter mailing list. You can find out more about the format at

A healthy lifestyle includes cardio & strength, flexiblity & agility, and also spiritual peace and wholeness. In our fast-paced, high stress world, it's virtually impossible to take time out to let your body and brain rest. Holy Yoga might help you reduce stress, decrease your heart rate and lower the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your blood. The class can help train you to be a bit more accepting of what's happening in your life. You can learn to be mindful of the present moment and aware of the whole range of sensations that reveal themselves when we are not too distracted to notice.

Join me on a Monday night at Holy Yoga!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer Ice Cream Treats

Ice cream and summertime go together. How can you enjoy a sweet treat without overdoing it?

An ice cream scoop is a useful portion-control device. It turns out that most scoops tend to be fairly moderate in size. Scoops are designed small partly because a large one would be difficult to wrestle through a hard-frozen dessert. Most scoops contain less than the 1/2 cup recommended as a serving size. How much you get depends in part on how firm the ice cream is. Keep in mind that light ice cream, which tends to be airy, delivers less fat in 1/2 cup than full-fat ice cream.

Hard Frozen Ice Cream
Average-size single scoop
0.37 cups (about 1/3 cup)

Slightly Softened Ice Cream
Average-size single scoop
0.44 cups (a scant 1/2 cup)

What about using a big spoon? Expect to eat a bigger portion. Testers tended to serve 50% more than the recommended serving size when handed a large spoon.

How much fits in a cone? It depends on the cone. When given a classic cake cone, most testers were happy with a single scoop. When given a waffle cone, the first scoop fell to the bottom, out of sight. Most testers added a second scoop.

Consider another ice cream treat. Instead of choosing a scoop of premium ice cream, why not savor an ice cream sandwich? You'll save 100 calories. Want to save even more calories? Dig into a creamy chocolate fudge pop.

When the temperature soars, you can enjoy a cold creamy treat. Make informed choices and always
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, May 29, 2015

Travel Workouts

It's June and many of us are planning summer trips. We have worked hard all year to maintain our fitness. We don't want to see all that hard work slip away after only a few short weeks of travel. How can we fit exercise into our travel time?

It is easy to be active if you are camping. It can be relaxing to join family or friends on a hike to explore your area or stroll on the beach. Often, people bring bikes to pedal around the campground or on trails nearby. Kayaking, swimming and boating are all ways to get your body moving.

Road trips and sightseeing can be lots of fun. But riding in the car for hours can be tough for lots of people - big and small. Use rest stops as active time. Frisbees, jump ropes and balls of all types can be energy burners for adults and kids alike. Use a low wall for step-ups or power walk the perimeter of the rest stop. Stretch calves & hamstrings on the low wall. When sightseeing, take the stairs when possible. Walk instead of using the tram. Park at the far end of the parking lot before entering the attraction.

Resorts often offer a fitness club and even classes for their guests. Use this opportunity to try a new class or use equipment you are not familiar with. Challenge your body in new ways. I always put on my exercise clothes and get my workout in first. If I don't, I will end up laying by the pool the entire day!

Sometimes you are stuck squeezing a workout in between long drives or family events. Don't despair - you can do a power hotel workout. Even if the hotel does not have a fitness room, you can energize yourself for the day and loosen up stiff muscles. All you need is 20 minutes. Start with a slow jog around the hotel. Then move indoors and power up the stairs until you are breathless. You may have to go up and down a couple of times. Try to run up quietly out of respect for hotel guests. Bonus! - you will use more core muscles. Stop at the bottom, put your hands on the lowest step and do as many push ups as you can. Turn around and do tricep dips. Now turn sideways and put one foot on the lowest step for squats. Turn the other direction and repeat. Go back to the room, lay out a towel and power out cycles. Finish with stretches - don't leave them out. Remember the long hours you will be sitting?!

Have Fun Traveling This Summer. Stay Active and Enjoy your Food

Friday, May 22, 2015

Meditation and Prayer for Sleep

This is the last blog in a four week series on sleep. I have discussed the importance of sleep, sleep strategies and sleep supplements and will conclude with meditation to help you fall asleep and go back to sleep in the middle of the night.

The idea of “sleep” as a period when the brain simply shuts down has been replaced by an increasingly sophisticated understanding of how the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness is necessary for the biological function in every organ.   Not only does this daily “circadian” rhythm play an important role in learning and the filtering of memories in the brain, but it also serves to regulate the energy level of most all cells.  Shortages of cellular energy eventually wear down natural defenses through oxidative stress and abnormalities in protein processing, increasing the risk of disease. How can meditation and prayer help you achieve a healthy rhythm of sleep?

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)
For a believer, the purpose of meditation prayer is to better align with God, to better know God — to stop struggling against God’s will for us and accept things the way they are; to better comprehend that we are held and loved, that we are OK, no matter what we might be walking through. In other words, in a variety of ways, meditation helps us stop trying to play God.

Often stress and a racing mind prevent us from relaxing enough to fall asleep. As we pray and align ourselves with God's will, we relax, knowing that He is in charge. Even without a belief in God, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and positive visualization all help to move the body from a state of wakefulness to sleep.

If you are new to meditation, the idea may seem a bit scary. Maybe you picture strangers sitting around in contorted positions for hours on end, thinking.....what? One app, CALM, takes away those fears and guides you through seven introductory lessons on posture, breathing, etc. In addition, the app offers a number of guided meditation programs, including four specifically for sleep.

A free app that assists with sleep is Pzizz. This program uses guided meditation and calming sounds to help you fall asleep. You can choose any length of time and the voice can be turned off, if you prefer. There is even a Power Nap setting.

Either of these apps and a meditative prayer time can be part of that one hour wind-down time you have before bedtime. If you are frustrated by wakefulness in the middle of the night, one of these apps might be just what you need to ease you back to sleep. Give it a try and see what works for you!

Get Some Sleep, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sleep Supplements

The first blog in this series demonstrated the importance of sleep, then I shared sleep strategies. This week I examine some sleep supplements and next week I will finish by discussing meditation for sleep.

Sleep supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues. Your immune system also relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. For example, if you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections. What supplements can we use to aid us in reaching that deep sleep we need?

None of these supplements have rigorous studies to prove their effectiveness. Many people have tried different options and had success in finding what works for their body. Please consult your doctor before taking any supplement.

Chamomile Tea
This tea is a very mild sedative. In addition, the process of steeping and slowly sipping the warm tea may help relax the body and clear the mind to prepare for sleep. 
This herb is said to be a mild sedative that also lowers the anxiety response. 
Melatonin is naturally produced in your body to promote sleep. A supplement may fill in where your body is deficient or provide an extra boost that will help you relax enough to sleep.
Essential Oils
Young Living Essential Oils can be used to naturally promote a good night's rest and can be applied topically or diffused. Try several drops of lavender oil and Peace & Calming on the back of the neck and bottoms of feet. To quiet mental stimulation and agitation, try adding cedarwood oil as well. A lavender oil and epsom salt bath before bed can also contribute to a very relaxing night. For more information about these and other oils, email Rachelle Howard at
Holy Basil
Do you find yourself suddenly wide-awake at 3am? This herb may moderate the cortisol spike that can wake us in the middle of the night.
The week before your period, progesterone levels plummet. As progesterone assists in causing drowsiness, this drop can lead to restless sleep. Make sure you supplement with progesterone (usually a cream) not progestin. There is a significant difference. Follow the package directions for a healthy cycle.

 Get Some Sleep, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sleep Strategies

Wow! I created quite a stir with the last post. Many people have trouble falling or staying asleep and were dismayed to hear how important sleep is to their health. To help the frustrated readers, I will share a few sleep strategies this week, followed up with a post on sleep supplements and complete the series with a post on meditation. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not sleep well either!

Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity.  For example, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. Sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity in other age groups as well. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested. What are some strategies can we use to sleep well?

Your bedroom should be quiet, cool and dark. Use ear plugs or a white noise machine. Use a ceiling fan or air conditioner. Wear a sleep mask and use light-blocking curtains.  Eliminate the TV and computer from your bedroom. The light from electronic devices can disrupt the sleep cycle. Short wavelength blue light, the exact kind that backlit devices shine into the user's eye, is especially good at preventing the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with nighttime drowsiness.

Go to bed and wake at the same time every day. Reserve one hour to wind down before bed. Avoid electronics and dim the lights during this hour. Practice a quiet hobby, read fiction or try some relaxing stretching. Go to bed when you are tired - avoid fighting sleep to fit in more work and avoid falling asleep on the couch.

Be active in the morning or early afternoon. Even just 20 minutes of exercise a day can make a big difference. Try exercising outside. Exposure to natural light helps maintain a healthy sleep/wake cycle, especially for those whose jobs keep them indoors.

Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can all disrupt the sleep cycle. Skip that mid-afternoon latte and limit yourself to one glass of wine at dinner time. Quit smoking altogether - for multiple reasons! Restrict liquids two hours before bedtime to reduce night-time bathroom trips. Avoid eating before bed as this requires the digestive system to continue to work while you are trying to relax your body.  

Try a couple of these strategies for a restful night. 
Get Some Sleep, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food!

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential to our health. A deficit can compromise your immune system, cause inflammation, lead to memory loss and weight gain, hamper reflexes and decision-making skills. Lack of sleep can increase the risk of chronic diseases and type 2 diabetes. In fact, women who logged six or less hours of sleep had a 62% higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers report that, during sleep, our brains flush out toxins that build up when we're awake. The restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the byproducts of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.

The brain includes a network of passageways between the cells that control the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. These passageways undergo dramatic changes during sleep. Sleep increases the circulation space by 60%, allowing room for unnecessary byproducts to be flushed from the brain.

Nearly every neurodegenerative disorder is associated with a buildup of toxic proteins. Researchers suspect the accumulation of these proteins kill neurons and lead to dementia. Sleep appears to support the brain's innate ability to identify and dump these damaging proteins.

In our fast-paced lives, sleep may be the first thing we sacrifice to "get more done". Prioritizing regular sleep hours can be good for your mind and your body. In addition, when we are well-rested, we are more likely to use positive communication in important relationships. We are nicer when we aren't tired!

Get Some Sleep, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Talk Yourself Out of Temptation

Just because that bag of chips is calling your name doesn't mean you have to answer. Ramp up your willpower with a couple of creative strategies to talk yourself out of temptation.

It's a special occasion. - Special doesn't mean stuffed.   

Don't pass up your own birthday cake! But you don't need a ginormous slice - or two. 
The satisfaction you get from any one food often drops off with every bite. Research shows that small portions can be as satisfying as large portions. So if the situation merits a calorie-packed treat, try eating just a few forkfuls, and give them your full attention. Focusing on what you're eating helps you consume fewer calories.

I've been really good lately. - I've been feeling really good lately, and I want to keep it that way.  

When you use food as a prize, you risk sabotaging your motivation by signaling to yourself that you've reached the end point. This can invite you to return to unhealthy behaviors.
Rather than rewarding yourself for a job well done, focus on how eating healthfully has already paid off. Do you have more energy? Do your clothes fit better? Then take a moment to let the emotions that come with that benefit sink in. The same way you can get addicted to the endorphins your body releases when you work up a sweat, you can get hooked on the feeling of pride or progress, which makes you want to continue down a healthy path.

I'll work it off later - I'll work out now and treat myself later.

It's easier to eat well when you're feeling successful and seeing results than it is when you're trying to compensate for a transgression. 
Get that workout in and see if you still want the treat afterwards. Studies show that women had less of an appetite after exercise, which may lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. In a separate study, a 15-minute stroll cut chocolate consumption almost in half. 

Use these self-talk tips for success this week.  
Enjoy Your Food and Keep Moving!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Employee of the Year

I am honored to be chosen Employee of the Year today at the Burbank YMCA. My friend, JoDee, surprised me with a bouquet of flowers when she announced it this morning. I really enjoy teaching classes at the Y. The members and the workouts energize me whenever I'm there.  I value the community we have created in my classes. It is a blessing to me to know some of our members' stories and be a part of their fitness journeys. I am fortunate to have the Y in my life.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cardio Circuit Class

I am offering another weekend workout session! This will be the last Saturday session until the fall. Get ready for summer,  rev up your workout and feel strong.

I am also considering a mid-week session in June. Interested? Let me know. Your interest level will help me determine whether to offer this mid-week class.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Foam Rolling Basics

You've seen the 3-foot-long cylinders of hard, industrial foam in sporting goods stores and at the gym. What are they and how are you supposed to use them? Foam rollers are the least expensive massage therapist in the world for your tight muscles. Place it on the floor, position your body on it and roll out your knots. It can also assist with amazing stretches.

Foam rollers can be remarkably effective: A 2013 study found that rolling the hamstring muscles can substantially improve flexibility after just five seconds without adversely affecting strength or performance. Exercisers should spend five to ten minutes rolling out major muscle groups. Key areas include the fronts, insides, and outsides of each thigh; the calves, hamstrings and glutes; and the sides and back of your torso.  Take 10 to 20 seconds in each muscle group and focus on areas that feel exceptionally tight. Foam rolling can have the same "hurts so good" feeling you get with an intense massage. Breathe deep and relax as much as possible. As you loosen up, the discomfort will lessen.

I have seen white, blue and black foam rollers in the stores. The colors indicate firmness of the foam. I prefer the black. The softer blue roller did not give me the massage I needed. There are also lots of knobby rollers, some with handles, etc. I have not tried all of them, but have found the smooth roller most effective for me.

Often the IT band, a strap-like connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, can get very tight. Roll this area to guard against knee pain and injury. I feel this is one of the most important exercises to do and delivers amazing benefits. The picture above shows how to start foam rolling the IT band. Travel from hip to knee, but avoid rolling on the knee joint.

Take time for yourself, foam roll your tight spots and Keep Moving!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Should I eat my Easter eggs this weekend?

Eggs are have cholesterol in them so they are bad for you, right?

Eggs are high in HDL cholesterol
HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. It is often known as the “good” cholesterol. People who have higher levels of HDL usually have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and various health problems. Eating eggs is a great way to increase HDL. In one study, 2 eggs per day for 6 weeks increased HDL levels by 10%.

Eggs turn LDL cholesterol from small & dense particles to large particles
LDL cholesterol is generally known as the “bad” cholesterol. It is well known that having high levels of LDL is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. But what many people don’t realize is that there are subtypes of LDL that have to do with the size of the particles. There are small, dense LDL particles and then there are large LDL particles. Many studies have shown that people who have predominantly small, dense LDL particles have a higher risk of heart disease than people who have mostly large LDL particles. Even if eggs tend to mildly raise LDL cholesterol in some people, studies show that the particles change from small, dense to large LDL… which is a good thing.

Enjoy your Easter eggs this weekend. And Keep Moving!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Free Zumba in April


Zumba classes Sunday afternoons in April

Are you looking for a group to motivate you to maintain your workouts, challenge your fitness level and to just have fun with? 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. Try something new in 2015, add variety to your workout program and meet new people.

April 12, 19 and 26

12 - 1 pm

Bring water, towel, family, friends & kids!

Taught by my friend and colleague JoDee Geryak
AFAA certified and Zumba certified instructor at the Burbank YMCA

Classes are absolutely free!

Classes will be held at St. Francis Xavier Church
Holy Cross Hall
3801 Scott Road, Burbank

Friday, March 27, 2015

Treatment for SUI

Last week, I blogged about reasons an athlete might leak when jumping rope or running. Stress Urinary Incontinence, or SUI, is common but preventable. What options do we have?

The gold-standard option is to visit a physical therapist that specializes in women's health. It can be difficult to locate and contract the pelvic floor or the ab/core muscles. The therapist can help you think beyond kegels and move into functional work for the pelvic floor creating a fitness program that will help the diaphragm, the TA, the pelvic floor and the multifidus to work together as a dynamic system for complete core health. The therapist should assist the client in identifying the pelvic floor muscles and teach the client to coordinate the abdominal muscles in exercises as well as bring awareness of the core to functional activities, such as lifting, jumping and sneezing. Biofeedback might be used to help the client identify the pelvic floor. The American Physical Therapy Association has a Women's Health section that can be helpful in finding the correct therapist or you can ask your gynecologist for a recommendation.

You also might want to check out Julie Wiebe's blog at She has some informative videos. I learned a lot from Jen Sinkler on this post

In the meantime, there are other options to try:

* Strengthen the glutes and hamstrings - weakness here can contribute to the workout pees

* Kegels - make sure you are tightening the correct area

* Lifestyle Changes - lose weight; make regular bathroom visits; avoid caffeine, soda, citrus, spicy foods and alcohol

* Pilates - learn how to coordinate the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles

Training the muscles and developing core health for functional fitness are the best options. If you need help while strengthening those core muscles, panty-liners, such as JustGoGirl pads, are available. As a rule of thumb, it takes three to four weeks to notice small changes in urinary continence. For additional options ask your gynecologist about medication, vaginal pessaries, vaginal weights, and, as a last resort, surgery.

Knowledge is Power
 Strengthen Your Muscles and Make Them Work Better For You