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