Believe in Yourself! You are the Greatest!

Have you ever started your day with good intentions but went to bed feeling lousy and emotionally depleted? Have you ever been stuck in traffic and started feeling impatient or sensed you were about to become unglued? As humans, typical responses may sound something like this: “Why me?” “What have I done to deserve this?” “Things never go my way!” “I doubt tomorrow will get any better.”

Unfortunately, life deals us these experiences all the time and characteristically we often respond with adverse feelings. Sometimes it’s so automatic, we don’t even realize it. Having been similar situations, I am convinced that what we ponder becomes a reality. Subsequently, if you find yourself trapped in a mind-set of “never having things go your way”, don’t be surprised if you’re proven right. It’s a form of self-justification for perceived failure… a voice in our head that can also discourage us from eating right, exercising, getting enough rest and feeling our best.

For example, think about some of the things you have said to yourself over the past week. What do you tell yourself when you look in the mirror? “Gosh, I’m getting old.” “Look at my stomach.” “Boy, I look tired and worn out.” “I can’t keep up with anything anymore!”

Luckily, we can turn this all around with confidence in a fundamental truth. Success comes to those who work hard and expect to be successful. “If you can believe it, you can be it.” This thought alone may be an effective approach for overcoming objections and apprehensions associated with exercise and eating. Stat by allowing yourself to maintain confidence in your abilities! See yourself achieving your health and fitness goals! Picture yourself physically fit, healthy and active. When you put your brain in action, overcoming obstacles and motivational challenges becomes easier than justifying failures with excuses.

Expect that you are the greatest you can be, even before you are. It works!

Turning Objections into Successes!

#1        “I don’t have time to exercise.”          “I have all the time in the world!”

Exercise doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You can shorten the sessions, walk in place while watching TV, or do some fast-paced chores around the house. If you are working at a desk, keep a resistance band near by. Stand up, stretch and perform a band exercise for every 20 minutes of sitting.

#2        “I’m too tired.”                                    “I feel great!”

Exercise increases circulation, brings more oxygen to the working muscles and releases feel-good hormones (endorphins) to combat fatigue. If you are felling tired, exercise will pep you up!

#3        “Exercise is boring.”                 “ I love exercise and staying active!”

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Pick activities you enjoy! Maybe it’s gardening, dancing, walking with friends or leisurely riding a bike.  Make exercise fun!

#4        “I never reach my goals.”      “I can do this!”

Sometimes we set our goals too high and expect immediate results. If you establish small, realistic goals, you are more likely to achieve them. Instead of trying to exercise 5-6 days/week, try for 2-3 days/week. If it’s weight loss, plan on losing no more than 1-2 pounds/week, not 5-10 pounds/week.

#5        “I don’t like to sweat.”             “It feels good to sweat and release toxins.”

If you truly don’t like to sweat, try non-sweaty exercises like gentle yoga or stretching. If you have access to a pool, swim laps or join an aqua aerobic class.

#6        “My joints hurt.”          “Exercise can help my joint pain.”

Physical activity is crucial for people with joint pain. Lack of exercise can make your joints even more painful and stiff. It weakens supporting muscles around the joint, ultimately creating more stress and more pain.

#7        “I can’t control my eating habits!”     “Eating healthy nourishes my body.”

If you struggle with poor eating habits, keep trigger foods out-of-sight and out-of mind. Be mindful of portion sizes.  Ask yourself if the foods you choose are going to honor your body or supply you with empty calories, excess sugar and fat.

# 8       “I gain weight just looking at food.” “I’m strong, focused and healthy.”

Your eyes cannot control weight gain. You body burns calories based on demand. If you are eating too much and exercising too little, or eating the wrong types and quantity of foods, you will most likely gain weight. If you stay focused, you can lose weight.

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Whole Body Training – Top Fitness Trend in 2015

The new “buzz” in the fitness industry, and number one trend for 2015, is Body Weight or Whole Body Training. While free weights and machines can certainly make you stronger, your physical assembly can too! Whole body exercises use an individual’s body weight as resistance for muscle development, balance and bone remodeling – an essential component for enhancing bone mineral density and solidity of skeletal structure. As you master exercise technique, you similarly acquire an increased consciousness (kinesthetic awareness) of supplementary movement patterns associated with other activities and recreational sports. Best of all, body-weight exercises make your workouts portable! They can easily be performed in the privacy of one’s home, used while traveling, do not require special equipment, are time efficient and serve as a great alternative to other workout modes.

Eight Simplified Exercises for a Body-Weight Workout

#1        Squat: A squat is one of the most effective lower-body exercises for your legs, hips and behind. Stand with feet slightly greater than shoulder width apart, contract the abdominals, shift body weight toward your heels, bend knees and squat down while keeping your back straight. Imagine you are about to sit in a chair, then return to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions. If your knees bother you, decrease the range of motion.

#2        Push-Up: Push-ups target the chest, triceps and core. Begin on the floor with hands slightly less than shoulder width apart, legs lifted up, back straight and parallel to the floor. Maintain a stable core as you perform push-ups to fatigue. For modifications, lower to the knees or do push-ups against a wall.

#3        Plank: The plank is recognized as an isometric (non-moving) exercise targeting the core, back, and shoulders. Begin in a push-up position or modified position with forearms resting on the floor or chair. Contract the abdominals and maintain a strong core without holding your breath. Hold plank position until you lose form or reach fatigue.

# 4       Lunge: A lunge is one of the best exercises for increasing muscular strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks. Begin by stepping one leg in front as you bend the knee to a 90-degree angle, weight toward the heel. Pull back (don’t push) to starting position and repeat on the other side. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each leg.

#5        Side Leg Raise: This exercise targets the outer thigh, hip and core. Stand up tall or lie on your side while contracting the core muscles. Lift and lower one leg to the side in a flexed foot position without bending or leaning your body too far forward or backward. Maintain a strong core as you repeat 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.

#6        Triceps Dip: Sit on the floor or chair with palms facing the heels. Lift your body weight up and extend arms to full length without locking the elbows. Bend the elbows, slowly lower to a 90-degree angle (the dip) then return to starting position. Continue dips until you reach muscular fatigue.

# 7       4-Count Burpee: The burpee is a very effective, functional exercise targeting several muscle groups. It can also be incorporated into a cardiovascular routine. Start in a standing position. Lower yourself into a squat allowing your hands to touch the ground. Keeping your arms extended, step (beginner) or hop (advanced) both feet backwards. Return both your feet to the squat position and then to standing. Repeat to fatigue.

#8        Abdominal Crunch: For a basic crunch, lie on the floor, bend the knees and keep feet flat on the floor or elevated on a chair. Gently support head and neck with both hands, elbows out to the side. Contract the abdominal muscles as you lift the shoulder blades off the floor. Do not let your back arch – keep abs tight at all times. Variations: Twist the torso to one side and crunch. Raise legs off the floor and crunch. Do reverse crunches by lifting the tailbone off the floor. A starting goal is 3 sets of 15 repetitions per exercise selected.

Back in Action / Maintaining a Healthy Back

Have you ever found yourself complaining of back pain, or describe yourself as “having a bad back?” If so, you are not alone. Current research indicates more than 65 million Americans suffer from low-back pain every year. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctor, and 50% of all individuals who suffer from an episode of low-back pain will have another occurrence within 1 year (American Association of Neurological Surgeons).  Whether acute or chronic, the likelihood of encountering back problems is quite high. To decrease your chance of becoming another statistic, consider what’s best for an aching back.

Causes of Discomfort

Back pain can result from muscle strains or spasms, joint disorders, prolonged sitting or standing, repetitive bending or twisting, muscle imbalances, overuse, dis-use, improper lifting, weight gain or direct trauma. If you injure your back, immediately stop what you are doing. Rest and apply ice to the affected area (15-20 minute bouts) for the first 48 hours. After 2 days, apply periodic sessions of heat.

For general pain, approximately 90% of individuals experience relief with rest, ice, heat, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, stretching and back exercises. To keep pressure off the spine, take a daily back break! Extend the spine to a neutral position by lying flat on your back with a pillow under your knees. Relax!

If you experience intense pain, weakness, tingling, loss of bladder control or numbness running down an arm or leg, you may have a pinched nerve, herniated disc or sciatica. In this case, you should seek medical attention.

Preventative Measures

First and foremost, you must remove the movement flaws that cause back pain throughout the day. For example: when lifting a heavy object, bend the knees and keep the back straight. Avoid unsupported forward flexion (don’t reach by leaning too far forward at the hips or waist). For repetitive lifting and bending, use a “golfer’s lift”. Reach down with one leg extended backward as a counterweight to forward flexion. Pretend you are extracting a golf ball from the cup.

When performing monotonous chores (gardening raking, vacuuming, etc.) use your core muscles for spinal stabilization. Firmly contract the abdominals without holding your breath. Never let the belly sag as it can pull the spine out of alignment.

To promote muscular development, increase circulation and speed the release of “feel-good” endorphins, include walking in your daily routine. Walking is one of the best, non-jarring exercises you can include for back health.

Yoga and Pilate’s exercises promote balance, strength and flexibility. Significant research indicates both forms of exercise provide benefits for individuals with chronic back pain.

To stretch the low-back muscles, give yourself a reclining hug. Lie on the floor or on a firm mattress. Gently pull both knees into the chest while simultaneously bringing your nose up toward the knees. Repeat as often as you like!

Another good stretch is the “Spinal Rock” or “Cat and Camel”. Kneel on your hands and knees. Inhale as you arch your back (hyper-extend), drop the belly and gaze toward the tip of the nose. Exhale as you round the back while pulling the abdominals in and tailbone under. Slowly alternate each position at least five times.

Promising Solutions for Weight Loss Results

The buzz in weight loss these days is to decrease carbohydrates and reduce calories. However, if you decrease carbohydrates too much, blood sugar drops, stress hormones increase (cortisol rises) and insulin levels become imbalanced. When this occurs, the body resists weight loss. A better approach is to modify the types of carbohydrates eaten to allow blood sugar, insulin and cortisol levels to remain stable. Eliminating refined starches and simple sugars is a perfect start.

Next is the selection of quality protein (lean meats, poultry, fish, whey and eggs or egg whites). Increasing protein decreases the potential for weight gain and regain. Higher protein, combined with a lower intake of starch and sugar also has a favorable impact on belly fat.

Fat intake alone will not impact insulin or cortisol levels, but the combination of fat, starch and sugar eaten together spells disaster. The combination of protein and vegetables, however, does not spike hormonal imbalances. Additionally, protein and vegetables sources suppress hunger and increase fiber. This is a powerful punch to enhance fat burning at the cell level.

Obviously some individuals lose weight and burn fat quicker than others, but results are achievable for everyone with a positive mind-set and personal commitment to one-self. Losing weight is a systematic process that takes time. Be patient, results will not happen overnight.

The Fat Burning Plan

A healthy, fat burning plan limits the intake of simple sugar and starch, increases quality protein, vegetables and legumes, includes small portions of low-sugar fruits, advocates healthy fats rich in omega fatty acids and allows for skim or low fat dairy and dairy substitutes. The fat burning plan requires meal spacing and exercise. No skipping these two.

For exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends a minimum of 150-250 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week and resistance exercise at least 2x/week. You can split exercise sessions into 10-minute bouts performed 2-3 times/day, or cut back the intensity and increases the duration to a do-able amount for your body.

When choosing an exercise plan, pick something you enjoy! If it’s walking the dog, gardening, hiking, using in-home equipment, swimming or biking, make it a routine. Set realistic goals and schedule your exercise in advance. Make an appointment with yourself.

I also recommend self-monitoring weekly activity and food intake. When you have a visual, the success rate increases dramatically. There are several aps to help with this or you can journal by hand.

Finally, when attacking fat stores, expect to lose no more than 1 1/2 to 2 pounds per week. This equates to 5,250 to 7,000 calories burned per week! If you are losing more than 2 pounds per week, the additional loss is likely water or lean body mass.

SUPERMARKET SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR 2014

The first step to eating smart and preventing weight gain in the New Year begins with the shopping cart.  From the moment you step in the grocery store, be sure to stock up on power foods before anything else.

1.  Hit the fruit and vegetable isle first.  The is one of the most important choices you can make to maintain your health.  The darker the color for vegetables in general, the higher the nutrient content.  Romaine lettuce, for example, has six times more vitamin C and eight times fore vital A by weight than iceberg lettuce.

2.  Choose beef that is labeled with the words loin, 99% fat free ground beef, leg and round cuts.  Pork should be purchased as tenderloin, leg, shoulder or canadian bacon.  Veal is generally all lean unless it is ground.  Choose poultry without skin, ground breast of turkey/chicken and lean white meat (chicken breast) over dark (legs & wings).  Opt for fresh fish, frozen filets or shellfish over breaded or fried varieties.  Deli meats should be broiled, baked, lean (at least 95% fat-free) and free of injected oils or nitrates.

3.  Choose non-fat, skim or 1% milk fat dairy or non-dairy alternatives.  The calcium content of low-fat dairy products is still equal to or greater than that of full-fat products.  You’ll still get bone-building nutrition but without the extra fat.  If you prefer non-dairy items, almond milk, soy milk and flax milk are good options.

4.  Fats.  The more liquid a fat, the better!  When you are shopping, look for unsaturated fats and oils (olive, canola, safflower, grape seed extract or corn oil) over lard, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated soy bean oils.

5.  Dressings and Condiments.  Look for low-fat or fat free dressings, fat-free mayonnaise, reduced fat peanut or nut butter, low-sugar jams and jelly, low-sugar syrups and sugar-free gelatins and puddings.

6.  An average supermarket has well over 30,000 foods in the store.  The ones they want you to buy are often high in fats and carbohydrate and usually stocked at eye level.  Be on guard for tempting cookies and candies, high-sugar cereals, pre-packaged snacks and chips, packaged baked goods, cake mixes, pies, breads, pastries, sugary sodas, pre-made pizza, fat filled frozen dinners and most boxed foods.

7.  Never, never shop on an empty stomach.  Make a power food shopping list and stick to it.  If you keep it up, your body will love you forever!

 

Boost Immunity, Reduce Stress and Fight Common Ailments with YOGA

Practicing yoga can help unite the mind and body in a way that fosters health and well-being.  Numerous studies have shown that yoga positively affects the body’s musculoskeletal, circulatory, endocrine and nervous systems.  Yoga can also increase muscular strength, balance , flexibility, precision of movement and tonicity while reducing the risk of injury commonly found in contact sports and high-impact exercise.

Additional good news!  Yoga’s influence on health is gaining increased recognition in mainstream medical circles.  Studies from the Harvard Medical School and University of Massachusetts Medical Center conclusively show that yoga and meditative relaxation boost immunity, reduce stress and aid in the healing of many chronic illnesses.  This is why many prestigious hospitals and wellness centers now offer yoga classes to their patients. Powerful proof that yoga is beneficial to our health!  Ready to give it a try?

Yoga for Immunity and the Common Cold – Downward Facing-Dog

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Yoga helps keep the immune system strong on a day-to-day basis using poses, asanas, to lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system.  It also strengthens your resistance to viral and bacterial intruders that lead to infection.  Recommended asanas (like Downward Facing-Dog, Camel Pose, Child’s Pose, Supported Bridge, Cobra Pose, Back Bends, Forward Bends and Twists) also condition the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulate the lymphatic system to release toxins and bring clean, oxygenated blood to the organs.

Yoga for Insomnia – Standing Forward Bend

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If you have difficulty falling asleep, stress is a likely culprit.  Regular asana practice can reduce tension and help you wind down when it is time for bed.  Calming asanas such as forward bends, twists, simple inversions, lying with your feet elevated or up on the wall and gentle breathing can all help with insomnia.

Yoga for Back Pain – Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend

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When it comes to back pain, consistent stretching of the low back and hamstrings are your best bet.  Backaches can result from injury, overuse or mis-use, but the prime culprit often lies in mis-alignment.  A constant tug-of-war between your abdominals pulling the pelvis forward and the hamstrings counter pulling the pelvis back.  Yoga poses like the Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend give the spine and opportunity to lengthen horizontally while the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles lengthen vertically, thus reducing pressure on the back.  Another good way to stretch the low back is to lie down while drawing your knees into the chest and lifting your nose toward your knees (like giving yourself a big hug).

Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Cobra Pose

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Mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can be treated with asanas that facilitate wrist rejuvenation and counteract repetitive movements, stress and strain on the upper back, neck, shoulders, hands, arms and wrists.  A regular practice of yoga can strengthen these areas and reduce overall physical stress by teaching you how to be aware of your posture, alignment and breathing – how to sit, lift, stand and stretch – when performing activities that contribute to CTS.

Yoga for Strained Eyes and Blurry Vision – Corpse Pose

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Blurry vision, distorted vision and stinging dry eyes are common in individuals who sit at a computer or mobile device for more than three hours at a time.  It is also common in individuals who study, read or do paper work for extended periods without a break. The best remedy – dim the lights, lie down and take a break.  If you are in an office setting and you cannot lie down, force yourself to get up and stretch at least once for every hour spent at the computer.  Close your eyes, quiet your mind, practice deep breathing and let your mind relax!

Two Great Suspension Training Exercises

Top Picks for Upper Body Conditioning and Core Strength

1.  Suspended Side Plank:  Lower suspension cables so they hover about 12-14 inches off the floor.  Using your forearms for support, place your feet into the suspended cables.  Move your upper body into a push-up position.  Gradually rotate (spiral) to one side.  Hold  position for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.  You can alternate repetitions between each side or perform multiple sets (8-10 reps each) on one side before switching to the other side.

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2.  Angled Push-Up on One Leg:  Raise suspension cables to armpit height or above.  Grasp the cable handles and move forward into a leaning position.  The greater the lean, the harder the exercise.  Lift one leg keep it elevated throughout the duration of your set.  Perform 12-15 push-ups, or as many as needed to reach a state of momentary muscle fatigue without losing your form.

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