Put Your Money & Your Energy Into Your Health

It is too hard, you grumble. The media sends to many messages at me to drink pop, eat out, and buy things. Work takes all my time and I cannot find time to work out.

Well, you are responsible for you. It is no one’s fault if you fail to plan meals and end up eating un-healthy meals. Notice I did not say eating out. We have many choices when we eat out, but are you making smart choices? Do you choose salads, put your dressings on the side, eliminate extras like cheese, mayo, or additional meats that don’t do much for the sandwich in the first place. Many times just asking for them on the side can cut a bunch of calories. Most restaurants put much more than a serving on.

It is no one’s fault if you choose to work long hours and never take a break. A work out does not have to be long. Study after study show employee productivity goes up when employees are healthy, absenteeism goes down, and morale gets better. If your boss is not interested in any of those things, you may want to re-think your place of employment, it may not survive the economy or the increasing healthcare costs and obesity rates.

It is no one’s fault if you choose to spend money on clothes, cigarettes, poor food choices, and other sedentary activities. Invest your money and energy into things that will help you reach your fitness goals and watch your life shine!

Move More Everyday

Movement burns calories, helps you feel stronger, gives you energy, helps you sleep, the list goes on. There are a million reasons why you should move more. Begin by adding more movement into your day everyday and then go from there.

Imagine picking up your grandchildren with out wincing in pain, or walking a whole round of golf. Imagine running after your children on the trail and catching them – not that you wouldn’t let them win. Imagine playing a game of backyard football and not hurting so bad the next day you are confined to the couch. Imagine having the strength to get the milk off the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and reaching up for a glass without worry. Imagine sleeping through the night, or life with less stress. You can do these things and more. You just have to want to move!

Begin by adding in activity all day long – park and walk, run your errands literally, plant a garden, spring clean the house, etc. Then begin adding activity with more intensity. Walk with purpose, add intervals into your regular cardio routine, add strength training (or cardio) if you don’t already do one or the other. It is a good idea to meet with a personal trainer who can help you determine what your exercise routine should look like to reach your fitness goals. (See 5 Reasons to Hire a Trainer from a previous post).

Set your sights on what type of healthy life you’d like to live. Are you looking to add strength, lose weight, gain endurance, reduce stress? Let your vision be your guide to moving more every day!

Vacation Snacks

Its just about summer time and if you are like me you like to travel but don’t always know what to snack on along the way. With some simple guidelines it can be easier to choose healthy and still pick quick. Below is a list of ideas for choosing healthy snack foods when on the go.

Snacking isn’t necessarily a problem. It all depends on what you choose, how often you eat it, and how much you eat. Vacation does not have to equal unhealthy eating. Follow the 80/20 rule on vacation and choose wisely so you’ll feel better and have more energy to enjoy your time away.
Juice – look for 100% juices and less additives. Notice if they have enhanced color, sugar, flavor, sodium, water etc.

Milk, Coffees, Teas, Meal Replacements Drinks – Look for low fat and purer products. Stay away from lots of additives – which includes what you may add yourself – and other unnecessary calories. Flavored Waters – Although a good alternative to plain water for some, check the label. Do the vitamins and minerals outweigh sugar, sodium, artificial flavors, colors, etc. Some brands do, some brands don’t.

Sandwiches, Salads, Burritos, etc – As is the theme – what has been added. Is it something you would’ve have added if you made it yourself? Did they dump in extra sugar, salt, artificial flavors, preserving chemicals, or other stuff you can’t name or don’t want to know what it really is?

Beef Jerky – Again look at portion sizes and additives, but this can be a great low fat high protein choice.

Fruit & Vegetables– Fresh, dried, canned in its own juice, or frozen. You must consider portion sizes and what else has been added. Dried fruit can be sweeter, so be leery if sugar is added.

Pretzels, Trail Mixes, Chips, etc – sometimes its what you crave. Look for 0 trans fats and how they were cooked. Baked are typically more healthy than fried. Also, what is added? Colors, flavors, artificial stuffs, I don’t consider cheese flavor and yellow no. 5 really dairy. So it comes down to knowing what you are choosing and being ok with putting that choice in your mouth.

Nuts, Seeds, Cereal/Energy Bars, etc – Can be great choices or not. Again, what is added, how much is a portion size, what are the benefits (i.e. vitamins, nutrients, minerals of the food choice) and do the benefits outweigh the costs (fat, calories, fillers, sugars, etc) – sometimes the addition of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats are worth it, sometimes a Snickers Bar is a better choice!

Cookies, Candies, Pop, Energy Drinks, Juice Type Drinks, Donuts, etc – Bottom line on these – do the benefits of eating outweigh the costs. Rarely, but if its your last resort try and make better choices – i.e. peanut/almond M&Ms rather than plain or the donut without all the extra filling, frosting, sprinkles, and choose the drink with less calories and sugars.

80/20 rule means 80% of the time you eat healthy and get daily exercise. 20% of the time do you chuck those habits out the window in favor of less healthy eating or activities. This is a quick way to reference your behavior and create a healthy lifestyle.

I am not a nutritionist. If you are looking for specific information or have a condition, take medication, or need more than a general overview you should see a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Exercise and Your Vacation

So what are you planning this Memorial Day? Here’s me and 2 of my kiddos finding space to do yoga during a back country camping trip.

Putting a small about of effort in before you leave will ensure that your vacation is active (or not), fun, adventurous, and wonderful with memories to last a lifetime without breaking your fitness routine you’ve worked so hard to keep.

Planning a vacation workout is really no different from working out when you are home. You are just in a new place with a slightly (ok largely) different daily schedule. What facilities will be available to you? A hotel fitness center, pool, beach, rocks, water, snow, trees, day trips can all be places to get a workout without taking time away from vacation. Many guides or local shops will have gear available for the activity. When booking your reservations ask about renting or using gear so you can book that at the same time.

Think about how you can add weight to your body, i.e. backpacks, children, shopping bags, golf gear, or pack some exercise bands.Kbands Training

These lightweight, flexible options are easy to pack, carry, and use no matter where you are. I had a client who would bring one on hikes and at intervals pull it out, loop it around a tree, rock, or branch complete a strength set and continue her cardio work. By the end of the hike she was completely done with cardio and strength for the day, not to mention exhilarated by the beauty around her! Most bands come with basic exercise instructions so your workout packs inside your workout shoes.

Let us know how you stay active on your vacation in the comments below.

If you liked this one, try 3 things to bring on your summer workout or fitting fitness around your day.

Plan for Your Vacation in Your Regular Fitness Routine

Vacation is not necessarily a time to let go of your fitness routine instead think about it as an opportunity to help you live an active lifestyle. If you plan for vacation in your routine your hard work preparing your vacation body doesn’t have to end on the day you leave albeit you may chuck the hard work for a few days.

Once you’ve got all the pre-planning preparation down it will be time to start looking at your current workouts so you’ll be ready to tackle your greatest adventure. Whether it be marathon shopping, lounging by the pool, hiking the boundary waters; you need training.

Where is your stamina going to come from? How are you going to stay focused? When I work with clients who have a large event looming ahead we plan their training accordingly. I cycle through the time prior to the trip so they are prepared for whatever they find on vacation.

Even lying by the pool for solid days takes work and it is especially sweet when you know you’ve earned the cycle down week by training hard the weeks before your trip. You can enjoy umbrella drinks, sunshine, and great meals 100% guilt free (remember life is about balance)!

An Endurance Workout

climbing the stairs

Check out the last blog post to review what endurance is then add it to your routines. To add endurance into your regular fitness routine begin by increasing distance, time, or intensity. Each can be added into your cardio routine.

A sample cardio program may look like this:

3-5 min warm-up

1 min walk

2 min run

1 min walk

2 min run

1 min walk

2.5 min run

1 min walk

2.5 min run

1 min walk

2 min run

1 min walk

2 min walk

1 min run

3-5 min warm-up

Continue to add 1:2 min intervals as you add time to your workout

Or

Make the run portion longer in each interval

Eventually, you‘ll increase the run time and decrease the recovery time until the entire workout is a run. Then begin to add walking intervals at the end to bring the total workout time closer to 45min.

Over time you’ll find that you can go longer and faster. Maybe you want to walk on your own from the car to the building, or you’d like to chase your children through the park, maybe you want to swim, walk, or run, maybe you just want to enjoy this beautiful thing we call life. Endurance will get you there.

As always – don’t forget to talk with your health care professional before beginning any workout program.

Endurance

Those of you getting ready to run marathons know this little term. You chase it incessantly. Those who are trying to go further find it elusive and those who’ve got it feel on top of the world. What is it? How do I get it? Where can I find it? What is it? … Endurance!

Some people are made to run long distances but endurance doesn’t just come to those with good genes. We can train for it and build upon what you already have. Endurance is a term we use to describe how far you can go. Strength tells us what we are strong enough to move and endurance allows us to perform movement over extended periods of time.

When you ask your body to perform over an extended period of time, your body must effectively create energy. There are different systems to energy, and I won’t bore you, but when we ask our bodies to go longer we have to dip into our fuel sources. That is why it is so important to eat right. Your body will use what you put in. If you are trying to lose weight it is important to eat well and train long enough to ask your body to dip into your fat (fuel you’ve saved) stores. If you are planning to complete an endurance event it is important you fuel well so your body has what it needs to finish strong. Your brain also needs energy to function well, too. Endurance is physical and mental performance.

Food is Just Fuel

Do you have trouble deciding how to feel about food? Do you wonder if you should be adding or eliminating a food group based on the most recent diet craze? Help your relationship with food by reframing how you think about it. Food is just fuel…

Let’s talk about fat. Its not an evil three letter word as some may think, its really just about fuel. I like this analogy:
You live next to a gas station, right next door. Every day you back out of your garage and drive your car the long way to the station (around the block), fill up the tank, drive the long way home and put the car back in the garage. What happens? You haven’t driven far enough to refuel each day and your gas tank would overflow, right?

What’s so different about that and the way you may be eating? Food is fuel. Overeating and under working cause your body to overflow. Unlike a car, your body places excess fuel in storage as fat. Now the really cool part: Carbs have been on the bad list for awhile, but finally starting to get out of the doghouse, yea, Carbs are your bodies first choice for energy because they are easily accessible and they burn fast. Protein is next, but it takes longer to convert, and finally fat comes on board. Wanna know why? Because your body is smart. Very smart. Instead of storing everything as the macro nutrient it originally was, it stores it as fat because fat gives us more bang for our buck. When we convert these fuel sources we are turning calories into energy and fat gives us more than twice the amount protein and carbs do per gram.

So when you consume more calories than you burn your body says, “hmmm, I don’t need these now, but maybe I will soon, so I’ll save them.” Just like a little kid with candy, your body puts the extra in its pocket., however unlike the child, your body doesn’t use it until it is needed. Absolutely amazing!

Bedtime Routines

For some hitting the hay comes easy. For others it becomes a struggle night after night. Here are some ideas on how to get to bed easier.

From the time we are babies the experts preach bedtime routines. This doesn’t change as we get older – I think we just quit listening as closely.

Enjoy Mario, He’s pretty funny and has some good things to add to your routine!

Routines help us adjust to our activities of daily living so we can trigger physical responses without too much thought. Think about how you respond to a favorite song, a smell, or your drive to work automatically. Creating a bedtime routine can work wonders for those trying to get enough sleep on a consistent basis.

Here are some ideas:

  • Dim the lights around the house
  • Play restful / soft music – music effects our heart rates – think group x class – that’s why they keep the tunes pumping. Not what you want at bedtime. Pick something that soothes you and slows you down.
  • Light candles
  • Use a calming scent – lavender, chamomile, etc – in linen sprays, candles, or sachets
  • Take a warm bath
  • Read
  • TURN OFF THE TV & COMPUTERS – the screens are actually moving in ways your eyes and brains have to keep up with. So even when we may feel it is unwinding us, too close to bedtime it keeps our brains working hard making it harder to transition to sleep.
  • Drink calming or herbal teas
  • Invite your family to participate in the routine by reading together, sharing quiet stories about the day, or just being quiet
  • Practice yoga or other breathing / stretching activity

Whatever you choose to do use the same routine each day – creating a pattern of your behavior allows the body to become more in tune to it. This allows the body and brain to shift into the pattern easier. If you want to be able to shift into sleep easier try using the same music, smells, and activity routines each night to create a pattern for your bedtime.

What’s Sleep Got To Do With It?

So I’m a little behind this week! I was traveling and I needed rest when I got home. What’s so important about sleep? How does a good nights rest help your weight loss efforts?

Not only does getting enough sleep help your body restore as needed it can help you maintain a positive outlook on life. When your body gets enough rest you are more likely to make better food and exercise choices to support your health goals. It has also been shown that when the body is sleep deprived it tends to crave more high glycemic carbohydrate foods.

High glycemic foods are those that quickly impact your blood sugar levels. This is no surprise considering simple carbohydrates are our bodies quickest energy source. However, these are also the energy sources which may be short circuiting your diet. Things like white bread, sugary drinks, and candy may help you feel more energy for the short term but leave you more tired after the “crash”. Typically they contain less nutrients and cause you to consume more calories in order to meet your caloric needs.

Less sleep also contributes to the grand ole’ excuse of “I’m just too tired to exercise”. If you are too tired and choose watching TV on the couch over a brisk walk outside often enough – the pounds are going to pack on. A solid exercise program can help you get good sleep, too.

When we exercise our core body temperature rises. If it goes up it must come down. Research has shown as the body temperature comes down it is a trigger for sleep. By adding cardiovascular exercise (aerobic) in 5-6 hours before bedtime you may help your body prepare for and fall asleep easier and for a more restful sleep. Be careful in choosing your exercise times, as too much vigorous exercise too close to bed can have the opposite effect causing you to stay up later and shorten your sleep time. Because we are all different some may benefit from a morning exercise routine and others afternoon or evening.

We haven’t even talked about the hormonal effects of sleep or lack there of on the body which can impact how full we feel and how our body signals to eat. Both having direct effects on our caloric consumption, our waistlines, and our ability to exercise.

Bottom line – get your zzz’s for optimal health. Next time we’ll have some ideas to help set the stage for bedtime success.