Monday, October 18, 2010

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Is that even possible? You know, to not gain any weight over the holidays?  Well for some people it is. They are the ones who can easily say no to the sweeter things in life or have the metabolism of a 12 year old.  Just so you know, I'm not one of them. For some reason, holiday baked goods just taste so much better between November 1st and January 1st.  It's like comfort food for the soul.  Except the only thing getting padded around here are the hips, waist, back, legs and arms.  

But seriously, why is it that we require food to enjoy the holiday season? And it is a requirement I tell you.  I've conducted an experiment and invited friends over for coffee and the first thing they say is, "what can I bring, I can make cookies or a quiche?" Hmmmm, that sounds yummy! I have to admit that the first thing I think about is "what should I make?" you know, to serve with the coffee because it would be a sin to have JUST coffee.

Well, this is who we are and this is what we do.  We are trained to celebrate everything with food and there's no better time to "get away" with over eating like the holiday season.  The average weight gain has been recorded at about 5 lbs.  That's 5lbs that we tend to keep and over time, 5 becomes 25,  OUCH!  They say from November to December, more accurately it all begins on Halloween, October 31st and ends on New Year's day, January 1st.  So, even though we know this to be pretty accurate, we still manage to fall into the trap of the holiday weight gain.  We eat the tasty treats, the delicious foods, and sip the drinks and begin the process of putting off fitness as a new year's resolution. We simply give in to the fad.

So what do we do now?  The "weight gain season" quickly approaching. Do we just stay on this slippery slope and start our healthy habits next year OR is it possible to avoid becoming a statistic? Of course it is. Anything is possible if you really want it to be.  I have tips, you have wants, so lets put it all together and see how we do.

1.  Start moving NOW!  Why wait until after you've gained the weight to realize you need to get back in shape.  Start now!  

Exercise: Measure out an area that is safe for you to walk from your home and back.  Invite some neighbors to join you after dinner, early in the morning or middle of the day.  Do the math.  Walk two miles a day, times seven days a week-- that is just over a marathon in 2 weeks.  Challenge yourself and add a mile to your walk OR cut back on the time it takes to walk 2 miles. As you can see, you don't have to join a gym or hire a trainer. Make it fun for the entire family and take the kids for a bike ride, roller skates, or a hike. However, if you feel inadequate about walking alone or working out alone, then by all means join a gym, hire a trainer, start taking classes.  Arm yourself with a fitness routine that does not allow you to cheat yourself out of enjoying special holiday treats.

2.  Eat well, everyday! If you haven't already started, spend a couple of days logging everything you eat before making any changes.  This will help you identify problem areas with your current nutrition plan (because we all know we have one right?)  

Nutrition: Ask yourself, am I eating enough fruits and vegetables? Five a day is what they say. Make them fresh or frozen, raw or cooked.  More is best.  To keep the fresh vegetables from going bad in the fridge, eat them within a few days or cook and refrigerate or freeze them so that they are ready to be used in soups and stews.  

Speaking of soups and stews, stay away from creamy soups that only add on the pounds.  It's OK to have them in moderation. But if you don't think you can have just one serving then stick with the less creamy soups loaded with vegetables, legumes and lean meats.  Best to choose good carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain, sweet potatoes, etc.  Low fat dairy, lean meats and fish are also important in your diet as they provide you with well needed protein your muscles will crave. Take this opportunity to teach the kids what a serving is and what's in that serving of food. Lead by example.

3. Rest, de-stress, sleep! I am so bad at doing any of these.  It seems I'm alway running somewhere (and I don't mean that literally, otherwise I would have nothing to worry about if I was really running,) cleaning, taking kids from one place to another, and staying up late for no good reason.  

A lot of women do this in search of quiet, meditative time and that's great if #1 we can still manage to get enough sleep and #2 if we use that time wisely, i.e. meditating, stretching, etc. I'm back to putting meditative time on my schedule.  We don't need a lot all at one time, 10 - 15 minutes of being with oneself, in our thoughts, in our minds, and revisiting our soul is all. There are opportunities, we just fail to seize them and instead go to bed with a mind full of junk we can't resolve in our sleep.  So rest your mind, sleep and the result will be = controlled stress management. Again with the family, take some time to read to your kids or with your kids; teach them how to be silent for one whole minute - make it  a game and then ask what they were thinking when they were still.  You'd be amazed at the stories you get. 

4. Drink Water.  Oh yes, this is a biggy.   

Hydration.  Every organ in your body needs water to function more efficiently.  So why do we avoid water so easily.  I am guilty of eating something or drinking something other than water when what I really need is simply water.  Take to work, the store, they gym of course, and drink it all day long.  I find that my kids don't drink nearly as much water as they should - I think sometimes they skip it all together, so new rule:  when they say they are bored or hungry I offer them a glass of water instead.  They really don't like that, they'll have to get over it :-)   
The Challenge:  To avoid any weight gain over the holidays.  Go ahead, challenge yourself to be different this year.  Don't bother making a resolution to get healthy next year, do it now.  Get in the best shape of your life starting right now.  Get the family involved in getting and staying active, even if you don't have weight to lose, living a healthier lifestyle IS the new fad.

Something to keep in mind: If you want to lose weight, PLEASE keep in mind that this process takes time, it's not going to happen over night, it's not going to happen in ONLY 10 minutes a day.  However, with a little determination and motivation, it will happen as you burn 500 calories a day exercising, cleaning, chasing the kids around.  As you eat 300 less calories a day replacing junk food with good-for-you food.  It will happen as you burn off 1-2 lbs a week and replace body fat with lean muscle mass.  It will happen if you want it bad enough!

What are you waiting for?  Tell me, how will you avoid the holiday weight gain in 2011? I want to know!

Stay Well!

Photo source: Unknown

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to School - Sleep, Eating & Physical Activities

For many of us whose children attend school outside of the home (public or private) this is a time of year when we are rushing to get school supplies, school clothes & shoes, the new back pack and that really cool pencil pouch.  OK maybe not rushing, some people actually plan ahead and all this done early in the summer.  I'm not one of those people, I confess.  Stress and pressure are my friends.
While it is important to prepare all the material stuff needed, apparently, on the first day of school, we also have to focus on the child and making sure they are prepared mentally and physically.  
I have to digress here and say something about the school suppliesReally? She's in third grade, she needs all that paper to write on?  She better be working on a dissertation or some long physics problem to be using so much paper in one school year.  Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm shopping for others as well.  Don't get me wrong, that's cool, I don't mind donating school supplies, I just wish I was given the option and not feel pressured to buy and send in a 24 pack of pencils, a dozen glue sticks, six composition notebooks, a two inch binder and 2 packs of loose leaf paper for my 3rd grade kid. Anyway, it seems I took off in a new direction for a moment.  
But as a parent we need to place to focus back on the child's health.  It is extremely important to discuss nutrition, sleep (seems teens need to stay up late and get up late which doesn't fit in with their current school schedule-oh shucks!), physical activity AND personal hygiene.  I don't mean their daily bath and brushing their teeth - that's a given or it should be anyway.  I mean the hand washing before eating, not drinking from other people's drinks and washing those grubby hands as soon as they walk in the door.  Kids touch everything.  Ugh!
About nutrition.  Boy in my house new habits have to be established.  Not because they eat poorly, I think in general my kids eat pretty healthy.  I don't really buy junk food.  I mean we usually have chips and salsa, crackers to eat with cheese or in soup and our fantastic friends might bring over their most delicious brownies.  But none of these things are eaten in excess so I don't worry about it.  The new habit is getting up at the crack of dawn and eating a healthy breakfast before 6:30 in the morning.  
Apple pb tower 
Photo by TowerGirl
Some ideas we like to share - 
Hot breakfast - oatmeal, cream of wheat, pancakes and waffles, eggs and toast.
Cold Breakfast - High fiber, whole grain cereal with low fat or no fat milk, yogurt with granola, fruit & yogurt, mini bagel with peanut butter, hard boiled egg
After school snacks - apple with peanut butter, cheese stick and green apples, hummus and vegetables, fruit or fruit smoothie
The biggest concern, however, might be lunch time.  Most or many kids bring lunch to school, some buy the school lunch and that's fine if they make the right choice. I was able to make them pack lunches until the first two hit high school years then it was just embarrassing to carry around a lunch bag. Well forgive me, mam/sir for wanting you to eat a good meal.  Appearances mean a lot more I guess. However, that's only one meal in the day and although they may not have too many "good" choices to make, they need to know how and why to choose healthier options.
Listen here, this is important stuff --
With the rate of childhood obesity growing in the United States, it is up to us parents to help kids make better choices in any situation, stay active and live a healthier lifestyle.  You can't expect one child to be on a diet while everyone else enjoys the goodies.  It's not happening and it's not fair to the child to be singled out.  So what do you do?
You (the entire family) should adopt new healthy eating habits because everyone should be eating healthy.  You limit sedentary time and go do something fun and active TOGETHER.  You encourage everyone to live healthier.  Yes, that includes you - the one that makes the meals, serves the meals and buys the groceries.
That's my rant on nutrition for now because I can go on for ever.  I hate to sound like we live this perfect life, like we never eat junk food or indulge in a most delicious ice cream or brownie cake.  Oh we do. Trust me on that.  We enjoy eating the food we like, but moderation must be taught and exercised, and as the parent I also encourage (enforce) portion control.  There's a time and place for everything.
So now the kids are going back to school, we're done shopping for supplies they probably wont ever use and clothes they'll outgrow by the fall and the shoes they'll wear out before Christmas.  Let's go shopping for the food they WILL consume at home and put your focus on those meals.  If they eat at school for lunch, again, it's one meal of many.  Think about it, the more you enforce healthy eating at home, the more likely they are to choose healthier meals at school.  But if they don't, again, one of many meals in the day.  
Stay Well

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wellness on Vacation or After

Let me be completely honest here... it is hard getting back to the gym after a vacation! Plain and simple truth.  Ideally we want to exercise on vacation.  We even look up nearby facilities, attempt to use nature as form of exercise and even plan to eat well. We know we don't work nearly as hard at any of this while we're vacationing... ok maybe it's just me, but if you're with me and agree, tell me about it.

In February of 2010, after moving to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba I started working at the gym teaching five classes a week.  Spinning(r) and one I named "TBC" or Total Body Conditioning.  Later my regulars called it "Terie's Boot Camp," how appropriate.  The classes became intense, sometimes, insanely difficult but each time we knew we were getting stronger, faster and our endurance had more than doubled from when we started.  Then school let out and everyone started planning vacations "off island."  As we planned we discussed all the things we were going to eat because we don't have those available here and each time we followed that with "I will exercise so I don't lose all that I've accomplished." Good intentions. Did you follow through? Did you really work as hard and eat as healthy as you planned?

I walked on the wet sand and felt it the next day, on two separate occasions we did a mini beach bootcamp. It was fun but not nearly as hard as if I was leading a class.  We rode tandem bikes on the boardwalk for an hour.  OK that was a challenge, it was a workout.  Other than that I battled the waves once or twice and the rest of the time we spent walking in the mall, on the boardwalk, on the beach or to and from the beach, etc.  Seeing the family was awesome, seeing Josh, our first born now in college was amazing. Our vacation was truly great and I loved seeing my friends as well.  With all the people seeing that was going on there seem to be a lot of food involved and mostly food I don't see on a regular basis or better yet, food I don't have to prepare--yeepee!!

So I was active but no real TBC or Spin workout to speak of and more food than usual....ahem and more wine, which translates into some endurance and strength loss.  Five months to trim the fat, get faster, go further and in 10 days you feel like you're starting all over again...ugh, that stinks!!

I decided to jump into my classes the day after we arrived on island.  Yes I thought I was crazy too, but there's no point in postponing the inevitable.  If I wasn't teaching I would still be in that class because I need to get back what I lost.  Spinning(r) was a little difficult, TBC was hard but I made it through and now I know exactly where I am and what I need to do to make improvements.  I am also teaching two additional classes in the evenings for the next two weeks so that should really give me a boost or knock me down for good :-)

We're back to eating healthy meals, drinking lots of water, getting plenty of sleep/rest, and of course, getting in shape with all our physical activities.  Can't wait to finish my Dive certification this weekend and hopefully, going Kayaking early Sunday morning.

There's a moral to this story, I promise.  When you go on vacation plan to eat well and get in some exercise because if you don't plan chances are you will do absolutely nothing and eating healthy will go right out the window, you know, until after vacation. So plan and if you do at least half of that then you're in better shape than not doing anything at all.  Planning establishes accountability and that alone will motivate you to try harder to move and eat healthier while you're away.  After the vacation jump in feet first. Get back in the routine, get back in the gym and the healthy lifestyle you had before.  Don't let the tired days that follow a vacation keep you from what you already know works.

I'm glad to be back and excited to see my hard work deliver the same amazing results!!

Stay Well,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Recovery Mode

Photo credit: on vacation

For the last few months I have been more active then I have ever been in my entire life, except maybe when I first joined the Marine Corps 20+ years ago. My focus has been more on what I can do to give the people in my class a good workout, balancing what we do from one day to the next and from week to week to ensure that we work every muscle and to include every aspect of fitness into every class, including flexibility, endurance, strength, etc.

While focusing on what to give them I have been giving myself that and then some.  I am in the process of getting my Dive certification, I spend a lot of time in the pool or the ocean with the kids and I've been Kayaking at least once a week.  There there are the walks/runs with the dog and playing soccer.  WOW.  Reading all this seems overwhelming but I have truly enjoyed everything I've been doing.

Until the day before my departure to the states-- on VACATION -- I was in high workout mode.  Teaching 7 classes a week, swimming, diving, running, walking and biking with the kids. It's been one heck of a ride.  One would think I was already on vacation with all the activities going on in our lives.  But no, that's just everyday life.  I kind of like the idea of feeling like I'm on vacation when I'm just living life one day at a time, sort of like feeling like my job is not really work because I'm having fun.

So this week I have been on super recovery mode and this came at a perfect time.  I usually plan to continue my workout routines when I'm on vacation but I chose this week to not exercise at all.  In fact the only exercise consisted of cooking, eating, drinking, and chasing down my toddler.  Not overdoing it and definitely keeping it as healthy as one can but enjoying every bit of every day.  Just before leaving I was experiencing a pain in my left forearm, not sure what it is or was because while resting the pain has gone away.  Same thing with my right and left knees.  Over training? Possibly. I need to re-evaluate what I'm doing and when so that I can avoid these issues.

I strongly recommend recovery time for everyone, not only because it's good for your body and mind, but also a good way to reassess the current routine and make adjustments that will improve ones physique without injury.

Everyone, go exercise, eat well and recover!

Stay Well,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"You're lucky I'm here!"

This will probably sound like a bit of rant on my part but I have to write or I will explode.  By now just about anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I love teaching my indoor cycling and boot camp classes as well as helping people reach their potential in physical fitness.  I get up at 5 am Monday to Friday to do this because I love it.  It's my job, but really, I can't call it a job, it's too much fun to be work.

There are days when getting up is more of a challenge but I know that there are people expecting to be motivated, pushed, guided and complimented on their physical fitness progress.  Feels good and that's what I bring to them.  On days when my mood is off by a few hormones I begin by listening to uplifting, fun music before I even get there and hopefully my spirits will lift and all will be well or I'll just fake it because it's not about me.

Today there were a few women in class who shared the mood and demonstrated their distaste for anything active throughout the entire class.  I approached them and tried to guide them to ensure they were performing what little they were doing, properly and maintaining adequate form. I felt like I was showing my daughter how to do the dishes and she was doing them wrong hoping I would just give up on her.  Except these are professionals in the military and pouting is so unbecoming.  Exercise is an issue for them on good days, then why go to the gym when you're feeling crappy? Oh I know, to make sure everyone knows you're having a bad week and maybe we should feel pity.

Well, everyone comes to class expecting to be motivated and a lot of the motivation comes from other members of the class.  If two people are pouting, whining, and not performing then it's likely that the others will follow (or push them out of the way), therefore it is counterproductive to go to a class you know is demanding and act like a five year old about to throw a tantrum.  I don't force anyone to come to class. I don't call you or your boss if you don't show up.  You, as an individual, are the only person responsible for taking that first step but if you don't feel well then stay home and rest, let your body recover and try again another day.

The point of my title is to say that one of the ladies insisted she could not do knee repeaters on the floor for 30 seconds and I said "of course you can, here lets do them together!" To which she replied, "NO I CANT! (yes, she shouted), my ovaries are on fire, you're lucky I'm even here!"  Really? No, I'm not. While I enjoyed having a lot of people in my class and really love seeing my regulars, the presence of one particular individual over another has no bearing on what I am there to do, which is to help you, guide you, and motivate you, but obviously that was not going to happen with this lady.

I think everyone should take note of their own attitudes when they know they will be in a social situation.  No one benefits from you being there doing partial workouts, doing the exercises wrong, acting grumpy, whining, and complaining.  If your mood is one that can only contaminate then please, stay home, rest, meditate, pray, whatever you need to do to help lift your mood before you have to face society.

I am lucky that I have an optimistic outlook on life and once I write or discuss an issue that bothers me I pretty much just let it go because my goal is to not let others dictate my mood or quality of my day.

Stay Well,

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Never stop moving

Do you think you need to be in the gym to get a good workout?  Why? Because the magazines, your friends, the local trainers tell you so?  Well that's wrong.  The gym is a great place to find structure, motivation, gain knowledge, and of course, get a great workout using someone else's equipment.  If the gym is free to you, even better.  However, you don't need to walk into any facility to get and stay physically fit. 

Physical fitness means that you are able to perform physical activities outside of the norm.  Cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition are all components that have to be worked on to improve and/or maintain a certain level of fitness.

If you've been off the workout wagon too long or just never really started it is extremely important that you begin, NOW! There's no time like the present.  Leave the excuses behind.  I've heard them all and barring an illness that keeps you off your feet or specific Doctor's orders, there really isn't much you can't do to stay active every single day.  You don't have time? Well, then maybe later you'll have time to be ill, how about that?  You're tired? Hmmmm, maybe it's because you need to become physically active and give your nutrition an overhaul.  Are  you sleeping? Do you drink enough water?

One excuse I've heard often is "I'm so out of shape, I don't want to walk into a gym the way I look."  Well guess what? Going to the gym is what will change the way you look. You're not there to impress anyone, you're there to get healthy.  However, like I said earlier, you don't have to go to the gym to get started. 

Try this:

1.  Walk.  Free, easy, don't need transportation, enjoy music or digital books.  The benefits are endless with walking.  Start by walking away from home for 10 minutes and see how far you go, then turn around and come back.  There, 20 minute walk, DONE!  Next time try to get to the same place in less time.  When you cut that time in half walk at the same fast pace for 10 minutes and see how much further you go...and so on. You get the idea.  Before you know it you are walking an hour at a moderate to fast pace and getting a great workout.  It wont be long before you find yourself jogging that walk.

2. Bike.  Like walking, it's free and easy, do it any time of day.  All you need is a bike, helmet and a reflecting belt or vest (for safety).  Follow the same walking program, hit some hills and watch yourself go further and faster each time.

3. Kids.  Yes I know, when you have kids things are a little more complicated. Or are they? Kids are little energy machines.  They just go, go, go.  So take them to the pool or beach and play WITH them, don't just watch them play. Go to a park and play WITH them, get dirty. Take them on a walk or bike ride. Go play basketball, volleyball, soccer wherever, you don't need a special field or equipment.  Have you tried WiiFit? Believe me, it's quite the workout. With kids, anything active goes and that is your chance to get in a workout and spend quality time with the children.

4. Home Fitness. Finally, I know this is difficult, use the library or go to FitTV, or purchase videos with structured classes to get you started at home.  Sometimes it's hard to get motivated to exercise at home but all you need is an hour and sometimes less time to do a cardiovascular workout. Start with a short class and move up from there.

I have to mention ACCOUNTABILITY here because I believe it is important to be accountable for what we do or say we're going to do.  Either get a buddy to do this with or share your progress with your family and friends.  You will get lots of free motivation, exercise tips (take them or leave them), and most important, you will have the support of those around you.  Getting back to fitness doesn't have to be some secret.  The more people know the more likely you are to continue doing it because you feel accountable to someone other than yourself.

Keep in mind that physical fitness is not about being a size zero; it's not about getting a six-pack or even about fitting into a 2 piece bathing suit.  It's definitely not about burning off that "momma pouch" just below the belly button or getting rid of your God given hips.  Some things are there to stay and you just have to learn to work around them (no pun intended.)  So get moving and don't stop. Invest time in you now and later you'll be able to invest more time in others.

Stay Well,


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Starting Fitness...again!

You know it's been a long time since you worked out if you can't remember where you last saw your workout shoes or clothes for that matter. How about that old water bottle? Many of us have a huge list of good excuses reasons for why we stop a perfectly good workout routine and that's perfectly OK to do. After all, life does happen and sometimes it happens to interrupt whatever we have going on at the time.

I'm not a big fan of making resolutions because I feel sort of paralyzed after a few weeks. It's like I make this decision to do the best ever and then if I can't meet that huge goal I feel like a complete failure. Instead I just jump right in and get started with what was working before or at least adjusting what wasn't working.

So how do you get started?

First - you need motivation. Only you can make the decision to start a wellness program and only you can determine the reason. To lose weight, to maintain weight, to be more active? for your kids? Whatever the reasons, write them down and let that be your motivation to START!.

Second - gather up your gear & put it on the schedule. Get everything ready the night before - find that old gym bag and fill it up with a bottle of water, towel, exercise shoes and clothes. Be prepared and eliminate any potential pitt-falls. On your family or personal calendar, write your workout plans. Make this an appointment with yourself, your family or your friends.

Third - where are you going? are you going to the gym? calling a friend to join you on a walk? going for a run or bike ride? working out at home? Choose your activity. It really doesn't matter what activity you choose, but choose one and go with it. Be prepared to do that activity and several others throughout the week.

Fourth - Clean out your fridge and pantry. The last thing you need are temptations to ruin a good workout. You don't have to toss the goodies, although not having them is the best way to go, just tape up the boxes and bags and place them up high or low - you don't want those treats to be easily accessible. Instead, load up on fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks such as nuts and high fiber protein bars and of course, water. Yes, plain old water. Keep the water bottles ready to go in the fridge or on your counter and drink water throughout the day.

The first workout might be the hardest but it will be the beginning of a much healthier you!

Stay Well,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Water or Sports Drink?

Is anyone else feeling a bit overwhelmed with the variety of drinks being offered? How about those sizes? There was a time when a small was actually only eight ounces, now you’re lucky if you can get away with a liter. One good example is at the theater. Their small is 16 oz, while the large, well they should just pour that baby into a bucket and wheel it to your seat. While they’re at it, they should also provide you with a port-a-potty so that you don’t have to miss any part of the movie.

But closer to home I am talking about the different types of water available at the market, each offering something “good” such as vitamins and antioxidants, others are invigorating, energizing, relaxing or calming, etc. etc. The list of goodness goes on for miles. I guess these are the things that the market thinks we want and NEED. A simple quick-fix to all our problems bottled up for us to enjoy at home or on the go.

What they don’t tell you is that they are also filled with sugar, calories, and sodium. If you open a bottle you are most likely to drink the whole thing even though each bottle holds two servings, sometimes, two and one half servings. This is where reading the nutrition labels carefully comes in handy. Not everyone truly understands nor reads these valuable labels. Some people know how to read them and understand them but sometimes choose to be in denial and believe in maintaining ignorance. This is especially true when they really enjoy each bite of sinfully delicious…whatever they’re about to eat. Believe me, I know!

I don’t see anything wrong with changing up your water and trying something with flavor or fizz, just for fun. As a fitness professional I recommend water 90% of the time, the other 10%, sports drinks, which is reserved for those who engage in vigorous exercise lasting more than 60 minutes. Sweating causes the loss of water and salt which can lead to dehydration. Sports drinks contain electrolytes that help you recover faster than water.

For the average person who engages in moderate exercise (60 minutes or less), your best option is definitely water. No additives, no sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, artificial anything, added vitamins, calories, etc. If you provide your body with healthy nutrients throughout the day, you will have armed yourself with all that you need to make it through a hard workout. But if you decide to take in something other than water, read your food labels and then measure the calories burnt against the calories you are about to drink—then ask yourself, is it worth it?

Stay Well!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick fix diets DO NOT work

As I stood in line at the grocery store, I found myself perusing through dozens of magazines, each with a headliner aimed at people looking for the ultimate weightloss plan. One craze that has been thrown in our face is Alli, the FDA approved wonder pill. One of my favorite lines on their website is"What makes alli different? FDA approval and a sensible approach that focuses on your long-term success." Really, FDA approval makes it different? How about safe, lets shoot for safety. Does FDA approval make it SAFE!

In doing my research about this and other diet pills I found this very interesting post on Read it here.

Before you pick up a bottle of whatever diet pill is on the market, turn that bottle around and read the label. Look for key words such as "must follow a sensible diet and regular exercise plan." Alli, for example, clearly states that you must "Commit to a plan" and cut fat out of your diet--ok maybe not completely, but drastically. Then the pill forces most of what little fat you eat out of your body in a not-so-pretty way. Others clearly state that they cause dizziness, headaches, and dry mouth to name a few. They also suggest you avoid caffeine or you will be bouncing off the walls. Furthermore, most diet pills suggest that you follow a low calorie and/or low fat diet and exercise program.

Ok so let me sum this up:

1. When taking diet pills you must consume 8-10 glasses of water each day
2. You have to cut fat and calories; you have to include nutritious foods in your diet
3. You have to exercise on a regular basis

My suggestions--- go ahead, do what they tell you to do, but don't take the pill and see what happens. The first thing you'll notice is that you wont have to worry about what you just put into your body, or what might be coming out.

A little known fact about fats from WebMd: "We actually need fats -- can't live without them, in fact. Fats are an important part of a healthy diet: They provide essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel." For more on the types of fats to avoid Read the entire article here...

I have to go back to saying that changing the way we fit food into our lives and fitting in physical activity is more likely to provide results long-term, without the nasty side effects. You have to drink water to stay hydrated, you have to control your portions and eat more raw foods which will help cut back on added fats and empty calories, but you also have to consume fats and calories--it's fuel and nutrition. You also have to be physically active and you have to be realistic. Challenge yourself to live a healthier lifestyle without the aid of fad diet. Do your research and let me know your thoughts on the "Quick-fix" diets you've encountered.

Stay well!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Go out and play - it's fun!

Often, many of my friends say that I have enough energy to power the base and "where do you get all that energy from?" they ask. Well, believe it or not, more often then not, I would like to just sit on a back porch swing (that I don't have) and just chill. I visualize myself watching a really good movie or TV show without interruptions. I even see myself taking mid-afternoon naps (HA!). But that doesn't happen, ever! I do get a little frustrated sometimes when I really want a break and I can't seem to get it until 10 pm when everyone is already in bed and I should be as well. But such is the life of a busy mommy of four.

In my mind I already know that inactivity is not an option I should consider. So I to stay busy and active. The minute I sit to enjoy TV or to read I start to fall asleep and that's just aggravating. Since the move and because of the move to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba I gained a few pounds, loss some muscle mass, and my cardiovascular endurance was way off the charts-- ok not that bad but it wasn't where I left it back in December, just before the move.

Since I arrived on island I've been introduced to walking JPJ as in John Paul Jones road; basically a very steep road up to the windmills -- it is treacherous but such a great workout. I walk a lot because everything is close by and I have a dog who needs/loves walking/pulling my arm out of my socket, and biking. I started teaching a Boot Camp class 2 days a week and spinning 3 days a week - so I think I have all my bases covered when it comes to exercise.

Recently I was approached by Marcella who invited me to join the soccer team. I was immediately intimidated. I'm not a runner, that's been established and I've never played, not even for fun. She said in her Dominica accent, "it's OK we have lots of new people, it's just for fun but we do compete against other teams on base." I didn't know we had enough people on base to have teams. Well, OK then, I'll do anything if fun is a part if it. Not only will I be playing and having a great time but I will continue to be a great role mode for my kids AND they said my oldest daughter can join the team as well. Icing on the cake!!

When I go out and play like a kid and they get a kick out of it even if they wont admit it right now (I'm sure I embarrass my teen which is OK, she just doesn't realize we're so much alike hee-hee!). Someday they'll be the ones bragging "... when my mom was playing soccer..." I am so not ready but I went to practice last night and found that we have a great, fun, energetic team of women who really play to win but have fun at the same time. I can't wait to play my first game on Friday.

As a result of my playing, my younger daughter wants to play as well, however we don't have a team so I think I'll be starting something for the kids who want to play "for fun" and practice real soon. This really should be a year-round sport where we spend the off-season time just playing to have a great time and to keep kids active and out of the house. We don't need a season for that right?

So go out there and play. Find yourself an adult sport to join. You'd be surprised at what you can do and your kids just might want to be as active as you. If you can't find a team, league, group-- make your own. Invite your friends to play whatever --volleyball, soccer, baseball, football (that's not just for guys), basketball, tennis. Look at the winter sports and water sports too. So much can be done to make staying physically active and fit enjoyable.

I would like to know, what physical activities do you do that are outside of the norm? Right now for me is Soccer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Lent Diet- Give up WHAT?

Photo: harrys-brownies-ahero

It seems people these days spend way too much time talking about miracle diets and fast weight-loss. My favorites are the ones that give up something for Lent in hopes they'll never crave it again or in hopes they'll lose weight in the process. Like that's ever going to be a permanent thing. They spend 40 days out of the year avoiding certain foods, this is the big sacrifice. The real sacrifice is to those of us who have to hear them whine on a daily basis. Don't tell me you gave up chocolate or coffee or potato chips because the more you talk about it the more I will be tempted to always show up with all three in my hands, just to get a rise of out you ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a really good effort and what better time than Lent, when you feel you need to be accountable to God, to give up something you probably shouldn't be 'over'eating to begin with. I respect what you're doing; keep up the good work beyond Lent. But please, quit whining about it. Must you salivate at the site of chocolate brownies and behave like an unfed lion because you have not been able to eat chocolate in the last 30 days? Whose fault is that? Not mine? Then, please, back off and let me enjoy my brownie and "fat-free" milk in peace. And wipe your mouth, you're still salivating.

Personally speaking, I eat what I like to eat and I also eat what I crave, all in moderation (sometimes not.) But because I eat nutritious foods most of the time, I exercise and rehydrate my body regularly, I do not crave much on the junk side of foods. When I do eat my share of 'junk' I don't feel one bit of guilt, I simply enjoy the blissful moment.

It is very important to understand what your body really needs when you are craving something. Thirst is often confused for hunger and this often results in eating too much of a good, and sometimes bad, thing. The problem is that your thirst will linger until you give it H₂O. Other times we eat out of boredom and again we find that food will not satisfy that feeling, so if you are bored go for a walk or go to the gym- guaranteed you won’t be bored there.

Balanced nutrition, plenty of exercise, and H₂O --it's no miracle!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Super Workout in under an hour

Today in class we did a super workout in under an hour -- 43 minutes to be exact but if you're working out alone this could take less time. Use fast paced music to keep you motivated. Have a towel and water available and if you don't have the equipment mentioned here, do it on the floor and improvise, but don't skip a thing!!

So here's what we did for cardio:

1- jog w/ high knees

2-jacks to the four walls (8 count then turn right until you go all the way around) then plyo jacks to the front only (touch the floor and jump up-explosive)

3-football drills to the four walls

4-like in turbo kick- jab right high/low 8 counts then zig-zag torso side to side 8 counts and switch to the left 4X each side

5-squat & reach then plyometric squat & jump

6 - slow knee then speed up for fast repeater knee using Abs to pull knee to the chest

7-push up slow count of 8 then four-count push ups 4X

8-shuffle right for 4 counts and add 2 plyometric jumps at one end then return to other side 8X total (four each side)

9-mountain climbers slow knee tuck 8X then fast 16X

10-flip to work triceps- like reverse push up or reverse plank

Quick recovery- drink water, dry sweat... move on to partner work if you have a partner. If not, just switch on your own - do each for about 30 seconds.

Partners work- this was focused on muscles but heart rate still up - interval training.

1- partner1 wall squat w/chest squeeze using medice ball; partner2 burpees

2-p1 triple squat on bosu; p2 upright row/military press

3-p1 lunge off bosu with bicep curl; p2 jacks/push ups

4-p1 squat jump over bosu; p2 push up with side plank

5-p1 squat kick; p2 plank hold

Abs - criss cross or bicycle, single leg & double leg stretch, crunches, flip for a plank hold of 30 seconds. DONE!!

Stretch every muscle, drink lots of water and you are set for the day!!

Have fun! We did :-)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Consistency = long term benefits

Over the last, oh I don't know, eons, I have tried every diet, fitness routine, quick fix pills and several equipments, and even several diet products that promise to make me skinny in no time flat. Some worked short term then I had to get back to reality, others just didn't work at all and for sure I figured it was the crappy product or diet plan I was on. It couldn't be me right?

I have become a little bit smarter about all the dieting and quick fix programs and their false promises - basically I don't believe in strict diets nor do I believe that diet pills or quick-fix equipment work in the long run. Strict diets only work if you do them consistently for the rest of your life and that's not an easy thing to do.

I learned, the hard way, that the #1 key to success is consistency. Once you have a plan that includes eating healthy and exercising then all you have to do is follow through and keep doing what you planned to do. The best laid plans are nothing if we don't follow through.

So buying a journal, a gym membership, cute workout clothes and new running shoes and paying a trainer will not increase your ability to lose weight or get in shape or even improve your health if you don't use them. You still have to watch what you eat (and I don't mean watch it go in your mouth, I mean be aware of what's good and bad in what you eat each every meal). The gym membership is just a waste of money if you don't actually go to the gym; cute workout clothes and new shoes are pointless if you don't ever break a sweat in them. Go ahead, make them stinky - that is the smell of a hard workout.The Personal Trainer still gets paid regardless of your progress - he/she is there to lead you, teach you, motivate you and guide you - but you have to want it more than the trainer. Show up, work hard!

I'm sure, in fact, I know I have not reached the MY personal fitness goals. Not for lack of motivation, know-how, or consistency but simply because I set goals for the long term and I know that it can take as long to get there as it did to get where I am now. Funny how my body just didn't bounce back after baby number 3 and 4. What was I thinking? Regardless of the changes in my body as I age, umm get wiser, I can't give up and blame it all on my "maturity," in fact, I work harder because it takes longer to achieve the same results. Add to that the added stress of raising kids, added stress of packing out and moving every 2-4 years due to military orders, school, work, etc..etc.

With a well laid out plan and taking into consideration holidays, kids getting sick, family visiting, etc.What can possibly keep me from getting a workout in today? Well, first my attitude can get in the way of things. If I get up looking for an excuse not to go to the gym or for a bike ride or a walk then, believe me, I will find a way and a reason why I can't exercise today. Secondly, preparation. If I don't lay out my clothes, pack my gym bag, fill my water bottle AND write on my calendar what my next day will be, it's very likely that it will be filled with a lot of things, none of which include my fitness routine.

To avoid these potential interruptions in my fitness routine I first fix my attitude, before I even get to bed. I write down what class I'm taking or how far I plan to walk/run/ride, etc. When all else fails, I call someone and tell them what I'm doing. Now there's one more person I'm accountable to. Second, I plan to succeed the next day by preparing everything the night before - gym bag, food, water bottle, clothes, etc.

OK so I have control of these two issues in my life. I can fix that. But what about the others, the unexpected or even expected events that come up. I have those days. Believe me, with four kids and a husband whose not always here, the last minute cold, tummy issue, and food spill rests on me to clean up. No matter how great a plan I had to go to the gym at 9:30 am, things happen.

It's OK to stop and do what needs to be done. Deal with the situation and move on. I can't beat myself up about it, I can't beat my kids up either -- that would be counter productive. So I have to go to plan B. We all should have one. Options: Once all the clean up is done and the child is settled or asleep, workout at home, use FitTV, ExerciseTV, YouTube, and the million and one blogs out there with easy, no equipment required fitness programs that can be done at home in a short period of time. The idea is to keep moving, do something, don't just give up for the day and call it quits.

The last minute visitors...they have a place in my healthy heart too. Either come with me to the gym or wait here, I'll be back shortly. Many of my friends already know to show up prepared, just in case we go for a long walk or in case we go to a Spinning Class. When I have overnight visitors coming and I know they're coming I tell them in advanced that I plan to go to the gym and I would love for them to come along. But if they don't want to, that's OK. Mi casa es tu back shortly. I know there are times when you have company coming and you have to prepare, clean, cook, etc.... that's different, but not so. This is a great opportunity to get the workout in around that particular visit - very early or late on the day of, or the day before or after. No one ever said we had to be working freakishly hard 7 days a week. But we can certainly plan to exercise and eat healthy before a party.

It is not difficult to be consistent with matters of the heart and health. We can consistently find time to do a great deal of things in our every day life, except taking care of #1- that usually goes to the bottom of the list. Maybe it's time we reset our priorities and put YOU back on the list as #1, permanently.

Stay Well,