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.

Working Out While Traveling

Summer is getting closer and with all the vacations, graduations, weddings, and other trips planned how are you going to stay on track to meet your fitness goals. Not to mention avoid all the traps for putting on pounds? Here are some ideas to help you plan to stay active on your vacation this season.

The best thing about vacation is getting your out of your routine so it is expected that your fitness might not follow your regular plan either, but to help make sure your vacation doesn’t pack on more pounds than days you’ll be gone try some of these tips.

1) Pack along rubber tubing. Easily packable and versatile this simple exercise equipment piece can be used in your hotel room for a complete strength workout.

2) Plan activity into your events. Can you walk, run, rollerblade, bike, swim, etc as part of a fun adventure for the family. For example try viewing the town by bike instead of car or walking to restaurants and shopping. Check out local outdoor, bike, guide, and sports shops to find the best places for local hiking.

3) Local the park and enjoy chasing and playing with your kids or grandkids.

4) Think about your vacation meals. I know, I know, – you are on vacation but… thinking about them ahead of time will help you plan for potential high calorie meals you want to have and make smart choices earlier in the day.

5) Pack healthy snacks. If you can find a local organic foods store (or other grocery store) and purchase some healthy snacks you can take along – like cut veggies, beef jerky, fruit, fat free yogurt / cottage cheese / jello cups, deli salads, soups, etc. If you spend a some pre-trip time checking out possibilities in the store now you’ll be able to whip in, grab what packs well for your trip, and get out quickly but still keep your eating on track.

6) Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time make smart eating and movement choices while on vacation and then relax and enjoy yourself the rest of the time guilt free knowing you have a plan to stay on track and moving forward.

Muscle Soreness

Many of us have experienced muscle soreness at one time or another. Here are some things you can do to relieve muscle soreness after exercise so you can keep working out toward your goals!

Delayed onset muscle soreness is common after asking our bodies to do more than they are used to. Whether you were hiking through the forest, had a hard lifting session, or were touring while on vacation. The hard part of muscle soreness is it’s potential to derail your fitness goals.

Many get sore and give up – especially when the soreness is rather painful and sitting on the toilet is a constant reminder to ask yourself, ” Tell me again why I am doing this?”

Here are some things you can do to lessen or eliminate your soreness:

1) Take a long hot bath
2) Walk or move a bit and stretch
3) Ice
4) Rest that body part & workout another
5) Apply heat
6) Try yoga or another stretching type activity

Don’t forget regular exercise and flexibility training are important parts of your fitness routine so don’t let muscle soreness keep you from reaching your fitness!

Try Something New

I’m still riding high after finishing my first triathlon! I am totally hooked and it got me thinking.

As I was setting up the day of the race I took extra time to look at those around me. They were all shapes and sizes, men, women, and the youngest participant was 12. This got me thinking why aren’t more people trying new things everyday? My best guess … Fear.

I know fear can be an enormous thing to overcome. But what if you started today? What if you just did something different than normal today? What if you just made a small adjustment in your routine today?

What if you decided to try the salad instead of the same old sandwich? What if you left a little bit on your plate instead of eating way past full?

What if you parked further and walked in? What if you ran? What if you signed up for that race? Or told your best friend you were going to become more healthy … and mean it?

The destinations are endless and you are the driver. Try something new today.

Good Cardio Exercise

 

Many people are strapped for time. Adding a workout in may be more stressful on the short term so what is the health conscious person to do when they want to workout but circumstances are preventing it?

It’s not often I let the words “circumstances are preventing” but lets face it – life happens. We all have situations that pop up unexpectedly and throw off our best laid plans. One way to deal with life is to have a plan to deal with unexpected situations. Think through your goals, your routines, and possible obstacles. Think about how you will work around those twists in your fitness routines. If after the best planning you are still thrown for a loop try using METS.

METS stands for metabolic equivalents. These are units of energy used to measure how much “work” our body is doing. Work can be anything from vacuuming to sleeping to running a 5k. Each activity is assigned a MET. This MET value lets you know approximently how hard you are working. By tracking your METS you may find you are able to add cardiovascular work into your daily life activities without adding more time to your day.

Here’s a link to a MET activity chart and explanation of how a MET is calculated.
http://healthfullife.umdnj.edu/archives/METsTbl.htm

*NOTE: METS are based on a VO2MAX value for most people. Because it is a value for most people it is an estimate of work for you. Also, if you have specific goals in mind METS may not be the right way to accomplish them. See a personal trainer or your health care person for more information on what is right for you.

 

Products to Support Your Health Journey:

Try tracking your movement and exercise to make sure you are on track to meet your goals.Fitbit

To Join or Not To Join The Health Club

Joining a health club used to be a luxury but now with obesity rates rising finding ways to stay in shape are no longer for the rich and famous. The problem becomes to join or not to join especially in this economy.

Joining a health club can be one way of keeping your fitness goals. In fact according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportclub Association a health club membership can up your chances of reaching your fitness goals but joining means paying a fee to use the facility. So the question becomes – should I join or is my money better spent another way?

In full disclosure I used to own a fitness center. I understand the need for fees and contracts and member commitments, however I also have been a member at various clubs and understand the decision to keep or toss a membership card. Here are some thinks to about when you are deciding to join or not to join.
Will you use the facility – Number one reason I hear for dropping a membership is “I just don’t use it”. Yet the person had get ideas to start a program and fronted the enrollment fees, monthly dues, and sometimes more to begin. Why pay anything if you won’t be using it. Be honesty with yourself.

Do they have want you are looking for? Classes, personal trainers you trust, supplemental services, i.e. towels, lockers, massage, tanning, juice bars, etc

What is the cost? If you can’t afford it look for something less expensive that still meets your needs.
Where is the room in your budget? Are there other monthly fees you can let go of to take on the club membership without strapping your cash flow?

Is it close enough? The average person will not commute more than 5 miles to a facility. If you are further ask yourself if you will still get there when its cold, hot, rainy, your tired, other errands need to be done, the house is a mess, etc. If you can’t answer a resounding YES you may want to consider another spot.

Will you exercise outside of the club? Many people have trouble staying focused if they are working out at home, outside, or in different places each time. If you need the routine and ritual of walking through the club doors to keep fitness a priority – become a member!

It’s a great idea to explore and “try out” different clubs. There are many styles from everything included to bare bones facilities out there. Each has its own personality, membership base, and offerings. Finding one that really fits with you is as important as finding a great pair of jeans. It’ll keep you coming back over and over – which might be why most people have more fitness success when they are members.

Exercise on The Cheap

Many of us want to stay fit but as the economy becomes tighter we are beginning to question how we can. Check out these ideas so you don’t let your fitness slide along with the stock markets.

Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. Truly all you need to move is you. Exercise can be accomplished using things you find in your everyday life. Are you looking ideas to keep working out but need something a little less posh? Try these out.

Use your body weight – push-ups, squats, pull-ups and all their variations can add overload without any fancy equipment.

Look in your pantry. Canned food and gallon jugs can effectively add resistance similar to a hand weight. Empty milk (or other liquid) jugs can be refilled to your needed weight so you can add more as you get stronger.

Use broom handles and a couple of chairs to create a modified pull up bar. This will allow you to lift only what you can rather than your whole body as in a traditional pull-up. In addition couches, chairs, ottomans can become “benches” for better range of motion.

Look for stairs around your house – they don’t have to be “real” stairs. Stools, rocks, stumps, etc all count if you have to step up to get on them. *safety note: you don’t want to be stepping too high – no more than 18 inches is plenty or so your knee and hip are perpendicular to the ground.

Kids are good for something! If they are small use them as weight – backpacks, strollers, and simple play can help you build your muscles. If they are older let them lead you in a fun game of tag or obstacle courses they love being the leaders. Teens may be willing to take a healthy lifestyle challenge with you with the bonus of building a closer relationship.

Invest simply in fitness equipment – rubber tubing, hand/ankle/wrist weights, a step, a ball, etc are versatile and inexpensive pieces that give a bit gain for little cost. The trick on equipment is – IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW CHEAP IT WAS IF YOU DON’T USE IT!

There are many ways you can continue fitness on the cheap. The trick is to get creative, think outside the box, and make sure you are being safe. As always discuss your new fitness routine with your healthcare person and remember to have a great time!

If you decided to build a home gym, comment below and tell us what you decided to use? What was your essential must have piece of equipment (it’s ok if that’s a milk jug!)

Like this article – read more: Try planning home workouts or Cardio Workouts Indoors for more ideas on working out at home.

Exercising Sore Muscles, Using Active Rest

We’ve all had those days when we wake up and know we did something active the day or two before. Delayed onset soreness isn’t uncommon but can affect how you feel about exercise, your body, and your fitness accomplishments. Exercising sore muscles can help. If you injured yourself during an activity but don’t need immediate medical care active rest can help, too but first some basic first aid can help.

The best thing is to train ahead of time. If you have failed to practice or train ahead of time there are some things you can do to get over those aches and pains with relatively little couch (whine) time. According to physical therapist Jim Rauzi, of the Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy in Superior, WI, “go for ice. You can usually do right by ice. Many people reach for heat because it feels good, however, heat keeps the injury bleeding which can cause more damage. You are better off to reach for ice if you need something right away. “

Follow R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is important to understand how your injury is affected by movement. “Once you are able, you’ll want to follow immediate treatments with active rest,” says Rauzi.

Active rest means find movement you can do which does not affect the injured areas. If it feels ok, there is a school of thought and some research to support moving in the same pattern which created the soreness. In other words, if you are sore from walking, walk some. Use a slower pace and include stretching. Sorry, but it sounds like laying on the couch may not be the best alternative. You should get up and move, possibly do a little bit of stretching.

Whatever you decide to do it should not hurt more. It should help you feel better, and remember, this is not to treat or take the place of doctor’s advice, make sure you communicate with your health care professional.

Steps To Train For An Event

Are you one of those people who decides to do an event and spends the next few days on the couch whining about sore muscles and poor performance? We’d call you a weekend warrior! See last posting for more info on that, but if you want to feel great about your performance and know you did you best keep reading.

If you are preparing for an event think about what movements you must do to perform well in your activity. Maybe it is a 5k run, hit a home run, or par for the course. Maybe it’s a walk around your block, playing with the grandkids, or hiking with your children.
It is a great idea to train ahead of your event, outing, or race. You’ll be less likely to injure yourself and spend following days on the couch. Come to terms with where you are today in relation to where you were and move according to your current level.

Ø Practice movement patterns required by your event – break down your golf swing, run/walk, practice swimming strokes, etc

Ø Build up your endurance and speed – figure out how much time you have to train and incrementally increase your training to reflect how much time you have and how fast/long you want to complete the event at.

Ø Eat well – training isn’t just about exercise and movement. Eating right for an event gives your body the energy it needs to perform well. Hint: Eating right doesn’t just happen the day of or night before an event.

Ø Take breaks – your body needs time to rest while you are training. Make sure to take a day or two off (with active rest) each week.

Ø Be realistic in your goals – use your current fitness level and length of training time to determine realistically where you should finish. Choosing your high school track meet times may not be in your favor.

It is totally possible to compete at great levels as we age. Training and practice are a must – so once again I am telling you, “Get active, get in the gym, and get living”.

Tips for Weekend Warriors

Are you a weekend warrior? You know, the people who go all out each weekend as if they were as nimble as they once were. Yet, they are the ones on the couch nursing (or should I say whining about) their aching back, hip, arm, shoulder, elbow, head, whatever for the next two days!

Are you a weekend warrior? You know, the people who go all out each weekend as if they were as nimble as they once were. Yet, they are the ones on the couch nursing (or should I say whining about) their aching back, hip, arm, shoulder, elbow, head, whatever for the next two days! My former professor wrote a book on retiring from athletics gracefully, a tough but necessary rite of passage. We try to hang onto former levels of activity, however, we are no longer practicing at the same level, which means we are no longer at the same level. A hard realization, I know.
According to Jim Rauzi, physical therapist with the Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy in Superior, WI, the first part of understanding the pains associated with weekend warrior type activity is to accept that you are experiencing a little (in some cases a lot) more activity than you are used to. No matter what you used to do, you no longer work at that level and accepting that you cannot jump into activity the same way is crucial. Ideally, you should be training for your events. Train for golf outings, sports leagues, 5-Ks, and other activities you know are taxing. Many people feel this is overkill, however, those who train feel much better after the race and are much less likely to suffer a debilitating injury.

For those of you with time before the big event consider training to help you perform your best. The biggest mistake I see is overestimating what the body can do based on old memories of what it did. Yea, you used to be able to run, skate, tumble, row, ride that fast or further. Unfortunately, you haven’t been training and at one time you practiced those activities.

More on training for an event next time.