It all starts around the Thanksgiving time and, well, does not end until a few days after the New Year. Season parties, sometimes two a night, all the frenzy of gift-buying, sending the cards – be it by the snail mail or in their electronic version – while trying to manage our usual daily lives and duties… Our days have not enough of hours, our nutrition slacks and the first thing to “go” and not happen is your daily visit to the gym or your daily walk.
A recipe for physical and mental disaster.
Did you know that the stress hormones, which peak when we stress and also, as a result of sleepless nights, can contribute to the expanding waistlines? They have this sneaky way of working in a way that, in January, as a result, we wake up and notice this additional muffin top which was not there in November! Apart from the weight issue, stress contributes to heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, back pains, migraines, headaches, cancer, diabetes and, generally, weakens our immune systems big time.
Time to get an upper hand over this mess!
First things first: Make sure you get 7-8 hours of the shut eye every single night. Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon hours and try not to drink alcohol, as well – typically, when we drink, we feel relaxed and might fall asleep, but after that first cycle of sleep, lasting about 90 minutes, we will wake up and lie and toss from right to left, not being able to fall asleep again. This is a case of a secondary insomnia, triggered by our body’s response to metabolizing the alcohol and its by-products. You might try some relaxation techniques before going to bed, or have a few drops of lavender essential oil diffused in your bedroom. Make sure the bedroom is quiet, quite cold (this promotes good sleep) and do not watch TV or use electronics for about one hour before your bed time: the light of the screen might cause you having trouble relaxing and fall asleep. Try meditation instead. Some 15 minutes just before your bed time should do the trick.
Second: Nurture yourself. I know, easy said, while in reality, you have to run from one party to another and simply cannot walk in there and… refuse to eat! Make sure you eat really well while things are in your hands, i.e. at your home or at work. Prepare lunch box for the office to minimize the damage. Before any party, drink two glasses of water or, even better, have a glass and a small healthy snack. This way, you won’t be ravenous once arriving at the party. If it is not a buffet, but a seated affair, eat little, comment how you really, but really love the dish and ask the Hostess to give you some more to bring home with you – somehow, you are not too hungry now. It will make the Hosts happy that you like the dish and you will relax as you won’t feel obliged to eat all that turkey.
Third: Prioritize, be it in terms of which party you go to, where you shop for the gifts, and also, in terms of keeping that daily appointment with yourself to exercise. It is your time and you deserve it and your body will thank you for it by being healthy and fit for years to come! You even might want to mark your walk or gym time in the calendar, just like any other “obligation” or appointment of the day, and stick to it.
Fourth: Smile! And smile often! Approach things from the positive point of view. See the good things about any situation you are in and try to minimize the negatives. Just this should make you more relaxed!
Good luck and have a great Holiday Season!
So, you want to lose 10 pounds!
What to do? Well, notwithstanding the Holiday Season, there is plenty you can do to achieve your goal. You just need to allow yourself some time for implementing the first couple of changes and make sure you do not lose more than 1-2 pounds per week. Any faster than that, and your weight might be back sooner than later! If you “shed” fast, you do not build healthy life habits, you do not change your daily actions for a time long enough to imprint the new way of acting as your “usual” from now on.
To lose about one pound a week, you just need to create a 500 calorie deficit every single day of the week. You can do it in two ways: by exercising and/or making better food choices. The best approach is to combine both of them: making sure you burn some additional calories each day by simply walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, playing out with the kids, and weight lifting at your local gym or with a trainer, and also eating “cleaner”, leaner and meaner foods. Sometimes, a little change such as abandoning your soda-drinking habit can result in a loss of many pounds over the year! Many Americans drink literally hundreds of calories, due to the “soda habit”. Drink water, sparkly water with lemon, or 1%-2% milk, but, please, give up that soda! Apart from all the calories it contains, it is also full of chemicals 9all these ingredients which are hard to pronounce). You might try to say, well, I will drink a zero calories soda from now on. I’d not do that, either; the sweeteners used in these are so sweet that they challenge and permanently change your taste! This is why today’s kids do not taste the sweetness of an orange, their taste buds are used to so incredibly sweet taste that nothing natural would do!
Also, you might want to try to eat that breakfast, after all. I know, many of you would say that you do not even ‘feel” like eating in the morning, or perhaps this is the meal which is the easiest to skip during the day – in the afternoon, temptations are too many! Well, if we do not front-load with food for the day (so to speak), we will crash and be hungry and attack that vending machine later on. Surely enough. We will also make worse food choices, because we will be hungry. If we happen to shop for food, we will load the cart with many unnecessary and fattening items, because we will be on the “hungry edge”. So, make sure you do eat breakfast every day and that you eat lots of proteins for your breakfast. They make us feel satiated for much longer than the carbs or fats, and they also tend to be good food choices, lean and healthy. Think along the lines of scrambled eggs with kale or spinach or Greek yoghurt or milk, maybe even with some protein powder in it. I personally eat about 5 times a day, sometimes 6. As a result, I am never hungry and I feel energetic and happy. I’d eat some healthy fare every 3 hours or so, just to make sure my metabolism keeps churning. Now, I am aware there are nutritionists who say we should, actually, eat three times a day, point. And then, there are those who promote the way I eat. You have to see what works for you, there is no simple, single answer for all of us. What makes you eat healthy and feeling energetic is the right answer for you.
Keep some notes regarding what (and how much) you eat. We all tend to underestimate the calories ingested, especially if they come in form of a drink. Somehow, the more fluid the food is, the more we think of it in terms of a low-caloric fare- while that margarita can and will set you back by 500 calories plus!
Then, there are little things that, if applied religiously, will add up and result in weight loss. For example, did you know that spicy foods tend to burn more calories? So, go ahead and have some jalapenos and pepper in your food, because hot peppers can burn an additional 20 calories while being digested.
And, in case you head for that party tonight, gulp one-two glasses of water before you open your door, this will make you feel fuller and more satiated and will reduce your chances at overeating. Some people also say that they succeed by simply having a healthy snack before they go out, so they don’t jump on the buffet table like a mad dog on a mission.
Just be consistent and never-ever give up! In no time, the pounds will start melting, no matter that it is the Season of eating and partying and indulging to the brim! Good luck!
So, we all sort of start feelin’ this pre-Holiday rush… Soon, it will be one party here, another there, two over the same weekend… And all this can easily result in pounds accumulating all over our bodies! We can do many things to stop them from creeping on our (Fit-Fit) physiques.
First, it is all in planning. Bring your own food to the parties! Prepare a clean, lean and mean food item, bring it in and eat it!
Second, at the buffets, make sure you scan all the food available, and only then hit the few (lucky) items you really, but really want/must/need to eat. Research says this’ the method to eat the least and the healthiest at any buffet! I also use this method while on the cruises: scanning the buffet for the best food available, then hitting these hot (and, usually and unfortunately, not busy) spots!
Third, DRINK! And I am talkin’ water here! Drink water before and during the party. Ask for sparky water with lemon instead of the booze. Or get one glass of wine and flush it with two glasses of water. Your waistline and your hangover will thank you for this.
Fourth, think STRATEGY in case you are visiting with an uncooperative member of your family or an ever-sitting-and-eating friend. Warn them in advance you will get out and walk/run/visit the local gym daily, even on the Holidays days, because you simply have this urge and you must. Basically, what it is, you become unbearably grumpy if you don’t, so it is indeed in their own interest to let you go… Just for a while, and you will be back, even happier and… healthier!
Fifth: Even for those of you stuck in the guest bedrooms or basement rooms of your relatives, who refuse to train: Think along the terms of the “body weight exercises”. You have your body, which normally weighs anywhere between 115 and 250 pounds, right? So, USE IT! Planks, squats, back, front, side lunges, push-ups, burpees, pull-ups on the un-expecting-anything doors of the bedroom you are stuck in – all this, you can do without the equipment! Also, position yourself under a solid table, any table, hands on its edge, face up, legs straight for the advanced and at 90 degrees for the beginners, and pull up towards that table! See if it is really solid!!! ;-) Then, if you travel to your relatives, you have to have some luggage with you, right? So, USE it! Do back rows and swings using it! Take a bottle full of water and do deltoid exercises, extending those hands in front of you for 12 times, then to the sides… Opportunities are endless…
Sixth: Over the whole year, pray a lot that the family/friends you are visiting with do own a dog (or at least a horse or a donkey). So, if you are lucky enough that they do own a dog, walk them. Tell them how much you love this particular animal and how much you desire to be a part of making them happy, daily! Walk them with purpose, try to challenge the creature so they are also out of breath, their waistlines might depend on you! ;-)
Seventh: Do not overindulge. If you do, just start calmly over the very next mornin’…
Happy and Fit-Fit Holiday Season to you! Keep me posted how you are doin’!
I was today at the natural store checking out my items and the cash register girl commented on the amount of various berries I buy and how much they must be costing me.
Surely, berries are not the necessity and our survival is definitely not based on them. However, they are so nutritious and healthy that I have been buying really lots of them year after year. If they are truly not in season, then, worst to worst, I get them frozen. I do spend lots of monies on them, but I think they are really worth it, as they contribute to the health of my whole family big time.
First of all, it is very important to buy them organic, possibly from a local source, such as a Farmers’ Market. They are small, we eat them in a whole, with the skin, and any residual pesticides and other horrible chemicals would easily get on them into our bodies. By eating organic, we assure berries’ only ingredients are themselves, not a non-pronounceable list which would make a chemical factory proud.
Second, why should we eat them, after all? Well, they are yummy, they are full of stuff preventing us from getting sick and also, they contribute to a healthy weight loss because they contain all this fiber. They burst with antioxidants, phytochemicals, which play a major role in preventing the cell damage, and flavonoids. They taste sweet, but are full of fiber, so this is, actually, the type of sweetness you want to eat. They won’t spike your sugar levels as candy would.
Moreover, consumption of berries diminishes the risk of suffering from Parkinson’s disease and anthocyanidins in them slow down the cognitive deterioration. Cranberries in particular seem to help with prevention of urinary tract infections. All berries are also anti-inflammatory and seem to help in prevention of cardiac diseases, high blood pressure, colon cancers and make us feel full, thanks to the above-mentioned fiber content.
Go for a rainbow of colors – like in the case of veggies, the more colorful your plate, the more benefits to your health. Eat them non-processed, fresh and without any added sugars or whipped cream. They are tasty and sweet enough!
Stroke is a life-altering event which comes unexpectedly and leaves its survivors and their families and friends in shock and disbelief. Oftentimes, it also attacks the younger population, which is often thought of as almost immune to this devastating disease: they are not, especially given the raised numbers of obesity, diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure in this group. More than 6 million of the US men and women suffered from a stroke - almost 3% of the US population!
Depending on the severity, type and exact site of the event, as well as depending on how quickly you reached the hospital once you realized you suffered from a stroke, the recovery might take shorter or longer time. 10% of survivors recover almost completely and 25% with only minor impairments.
Apart from the emotional and physical recovery, the survivor also needs to focus on their physical well-being and restoration of the physical functions, which are, oftentimes, lost or impacted as a result of the stroke. This might take months or years. Once you get a go-ahead from your physician, make sure that you communicate the type of stroke you suffered from to your personal trainer. The trainer also needs to know which types of activities your physician wants and does not want you to participate in, and why. This usually gives a trainer a great idea where to start.
Starting your training after an event is slow and takes lots of emotional courage. The first time you decide to exercise, the first longer walk, the first time you step in the gym… Committing to fitness after a stroke has to be a life-long habit. Most likely, at least in the beginning, you will work on your progress in a slightly different way than you were before the event. However, the most important is that you will work on your physical well-being (and, by the same, at prevention of any further strokes) – step by step, starting from some easy stretches, balance exercises, moves on the Pilates Reformer, and progressing towards body weight exercises, lifting some weights and using, pretty much, all the equipment available at the gym. There are plenty of ways to get you going again!
Think in terms how far you can progress and how much you can improve and take it one day at a time. Train safe and have fun – again! I believe in you!
I write this blog after coming back from a long bike ride, half of which happened to be in the pouring afternoon monsoon rain. I set out for a nice afternoon of biking without a cloud in the sight. OK, perhaps it was scorching hot and quite windy (you know, the kind of wind that does bring the rain…), but if you want it, you can do it, right? So, being really eager to go for my ride, I just made sure to have two bottles with water and electrolytes with me and went off!
Many miles into my ride, the wind picked up, and the clouds came from nowhere (even if – when I think of it – they came from behind that mountain over there!). The heat stopped being that scorching, and it was quickly replaced by heavy rain and, at one moment, hail. The wind picked up to the point I felt like it wanted to throw me off my bike.
Well, I had to get back home somehow and I decided the weather is not going to spoil my lovely afternoon biking experience. After all, what does not kill us, makes us stronger! I even have a bracelet with these words on it. So, bring on the hail and the head wind!
The rain cooled me down in, actually, a very pleasant way, and I kept imagining how the strong wind makes me stronger and my legs more powerful and efficient. I, actually, enjoyed the ride. There were almost no cars on the road, as everyone who could was waiting till the rain passes.
I reached home completely soaked, but with a big smile on my face: mission accomplished!
Then, I thought, it’d be a great topic for my blog: how to see situations which easily might become obstacles on our path to fitness as something that can, actually, help us becoming fitter. I think it applies to both the rain and heat, running in snow (which I did plenty of while leaving in Quebec) and swimming in the outside pool in December rain.
If we think of these situations as opportunities rather than obstacles, we will remove one more objection from our path to health. So, don’t let that Arizona heat keep you at home! Go out, relax and simply enjoy the nature and the fact that you can exercise! Stay Fit-Fit.
We are all so busy. It is hard to find time for exercise, even if all what we need is some 30 minutes a day, five times a week. If you can fit in more exercise, go for it, but, oftentimes, I hear how hard it is to get even this minimum of half an hour a day.
What is a gal or guy to do in order to train despite the lack of time?
Well, we need to prioritize and organize and stick to our plans! First, create a plan: which days you are ready to train, what time is the best each of these days, and write down what you are going to do, in terms of the exercise. Is it going to be a cardio or a weight lifting session? Is it going to be at a steady pace or include intervals? And then, “just” stick to your plan!
It is always good to hire a trainer. You might want to do it for the first few sessions only, or to see a trainer on a weekly basis, or, if you know your form and are familiar with the gym, you might hire them to create a training plan specifically for you. Then, in a couple of weeks, get another session, get re-evaluated and get a new training plan. Might work wonders!
While you are at this, make sure that the trainer sees your form ad that it is the correct, safe form. Last thing you want is to eagerly start a program and get injured!
Remember to make things convenient: you want to exercise at a place which is not too distant from your home. Reduce the commuting time: it will result in more visits to the gym! Find a gym which meets your expectations and standards and is not too far from your home or workplace. Only then, when you feel comfy about the distance to the place, buy the membership. Also remember: if you are into CrossFit and your gym is all about Pilates and yoga, it might not work! ;-)
While training, exercise every muscle and part of your body, but limit exercising your jaw and finger muscles! In other words, the gym is for training, not talking! Also, limit the use of your fingers: forget that phone for one hour. Leave it in the locker room. You would not believe how many people render their session ineffective by simply training – stopping to check the phone – doing a few movements more – stopping again… There is no rhythm ad there is no intensity to your session with the phone! Just give yourself a chance to exercise properly for the time you are ready to spend at the gym: be it 30 or 60 minutes or anything else. Otherwise, just stay home and keep clicking the phone buttons: do not lose your time to come for a session which won’t bring benefits to you.
One last thing, make sure to vary the intensity of whatever you are doing: strength training, cardiovascular training, anything. By varying the intensity, you increase the metabolic rate, at which your body burns calories over the 36 hours following your session. It will be, momentarily, hard, but it will result in multiplied benefits – worth to go for it!
BTW, when you train, please consider adding the weight training part: it will do wonders to your body! Just trust me!
Hi All! J I kept being asked what I am eating for the breakfast. I am being asked about all the meals, but, somehow, the breakfast attracts the most interest. Perhaps because I always say that this is the most important meal of the day, which fills us up and keeps things churning as we go with our daily activities!
OK, so, first of all, never skip your breakfast! I say this from my experience, until I was 18 years old, I was on the chubby side and my teen-mind reasoning kept directing me towards skipping the breakfast. All in hopes of weight loss, of course. Which, of course, did not happen as a result of skipping my meals!
Having said that, I have to tell you how monotonous my breakfasts are… But I really love them like this, because I like the taste a lot and they provide me with all what I need to start my day well.
Every evening, I spend a few minutes in our kitchen, preparing what my husband calls our “breakfast kit”… I get a bowl for each of us, and put some walnuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds (whole are better and this is what I put in my Better Half’s bowl, but I personally go for sliced, because I have weaker teeth than him!!!), three Brazilian nuts (enough to meet your daily requirement of selenium!), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds (for energy). All in small amounts, a few of each. At the same time, I put some steel-cut oats into a pot and pour water over them, covering overnight.
In the morning, as I bring the oats to the boiling point (and not more: the less mushy they are, the better for us!) – I mix the pre-prepared nuts with several tablespoons of 0% fat organic “Wallaby” Greek Yoghurt, and mix it all with warm oats. Then, I add some blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries of top. If I run out of them, I’d add a peach or a kiwi (with the skin) or some banana. Yum! And it keeps me full in a healthy way and satiated, so I do not start my day from feeling hungry, deprived and low-energy.
In life and in competition, we do not win at the finish line. We win as we proceed towards the finish line: by persistently taking steps towards our goals, by making daily decisions to do something healthy for ourselves rather than sleep in one hour longer, by sticking to our resolutions of eating healthy and “clean”. We win over the weeks, months and years, as we steadily progress towards our goals. We win if we are at it 24/24 and 365/365.
Sometimes, it is just so tempting to find an excuse not to exercise, not to eat healthy, and not to drink that glass of sparkle water instead of a glass of wine. As a winner, you, actually, think how to find time for exercise, you plan to shop for healthy food and you plan your healthy menu for the week. And you plan to have the wine twice a week, but not daily. You also plan for unforeseen circumstances: oftentimes, we hear an excuse about travel: “I travel, therefore I cannot eat healthy.” Yes you can. You can, if you only plan for it. If you travel by car, buy yourself a large cooler, prepare what you can at home and start from there. These days, pretty much all hotels and motels have a fridge. Or, you can keep fresh ice in your cooler and keep your foods in the cooler. If you run out of healthy foods, buy them at a local store at your destination, replenish your cooler and continue on the road! If you travel by plane, become a master at getting roasted chicken breasts past the Security, have steel-cut oats and ask the flight attendant for hot water to dilute them. Have nuts and fruits with you. Or, for those of you who use it, have your protein powder – so easy to create super healthy shakes, even on the road! I have been using all of the above tricks while I travel – from a simple overnight trip to a triathlon race to 3-week-long intercontinental endeavors. If we want, it can be done. You just need to want, set your mind at it, and… do it! Good luck, I believe in you!
No, you are not stuck with the diagnosis of hypertension for life! You do have control over what is happening to you and your body and, in many cases, you can become hypertension-free again! As I train with the hypertension-suffering trainees at my Studio, I have witnessed dozens of them lowering the doses of their anti-hypertension drugs and, actually, weaning off them (under close medical supervision of some great physicians we have in Sedona and VOC).
Usually, guys would develop high blood pressure some 10 years earlier than the gals (typically, at 45 years of age and, respectively, 55). Some of us will have a hereditary predisposition to it (thanks, dad and mom!) or are African-American, which increases the risk, too. However, the hereditary aspect is pretty much the only one you cannot control in here. The other risk factors fully depend on you and your life style:
If your body mass index indicates you are overweight, you have increased risk of high blood pressure and all the diseases which come with it. Same with your nutrition: if you do not eat clean, meaning you use processed foods, which come in colorful boxes, accompanied by an endless list of “ingredients” which sound like a list of necessities belonging rather to a chemical factory than to your kitchen, well, you run an increased risk of hypertension. Clean up your nutritional habits. Reduce your drinking habits (we talk alcoholic beverages here, not water…). Do not smoke. Exercise. Walk. Move vigorously for at least 30 minutes a day: “vigorously” meaning vigorously for you, not for Usain Bolt. All of the above will help! If you suffer from metabolic syndrome or diabetes, you are already at an increased risk of high blood pressure – and if you suffer from both, your chances at suffering from heart disease quadruple.
So, take your destiny into your own hands: once you lead a healthy life style, exercise and eat “clean”, you have a great chance to get your blood pressure under control, back to normal! This will significantly decrease the risk of heart diseases in the future, as well. Stay Fit-Fit!