Exercise, General Health, Q&A

Is it OK To Exercise When I have a Cold?

(Also appeared in LA Jewish Home 1/12/2022 p.34)

Before the ink dried on my own new year’s fitness resolutions, the universe conspired to give me a one-two punch right back into bed with a cold. That got me thinking about the time back in college when I saw others “push through” a cold with exercise. My try at the same routine, back then, landed me in the infirmary with a case of mono. So, is it a good idea to work out when you’re sick or not?

The answer is clear – yes and no!  Now that fitness is my career, I see a lot of objective differences between “working out” and physically moving the body, and it’s not just because “your workout is my warm-up.” [I don’t actually say that.] Seriously though, intensity is subjective and relative to the individual and also plays a role in the decision of whether you should work out with a cold and at what intensity if you do. Whether or not it’s advisable to work out also depends on your cold symptoms.

A workout that makes you breathe heavily, sweat, and work hard to the point of some discomfort, awakens a stress response in the body. When we’re healthy, it is precisely the adaptation to that stress in a progressive way that makes us stronger. Healthy bodies can adapt to that stress. However, the stress of this intense workout can overwhelm the immune system. This isn’t generally recommended when you’re sick. When you train hard, your body needs to repair the muscles that have been worked and this can further weaken your immune system. 

Some find that lower intensity movement including things like:

  • Walking (preferably outdoors)
  • Leisurely biking or swimming
  • Some types of Yoga or T’ai Chi

…can boost immunity and help you recover faster (unless you are out of shape and/or have other stressors). Let your own perceived level of exertion be your guide in determining what is low intensity. 

What shapes this recommendation is the scientific research which shows that when a healthy person exercises consistently and moderately, it strengthens immunity over time. Unusual, infrequent, sudden high intensity, or long-duration sessions can hamper immunity. Even more so, you should take it easy when sick. 

Besides your current fitness level and consistency, consider what other stressors you may be facing on a given day. Anxiety, relationship stress, financial, career, environmental (hot/cold temperature outside), diet, sleep quantity and quality, age, obesity, and many emotional and physical health issues all play a part in your immunity and resilience.

I typically tell clients: Don’t exercise if you have a fever, widespread muscle aches, or fatigue; if your symptoms are “below the neck”—like diarrhea, upset stomach, chest congestion, or hacking cough.

However, it may be ok to exercise if your signs and symptoms are all “above the neck” — symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, or minor sore throat. If you choose to exercise when you have a mild cold, I recommend that you reduce the intensity and length of your workout so as not to risk more serious injury or illness. Also, be considerate and don’t contaminate others. Avoid the gym or other public places.

Listen to what your body is telling you! If you feel miserable, take a day off or even a week off. The few days won’t really affect performance. 

Be sure to resume your normal routine gradually as you start to feel better. For instance, if you were sick for 3 days, consider taking 3 days to ease back in. Check with your doctor if you’re still unsure if it’s OK to work out.

If you’re healthy and want to prevent getting sick, the good news is that consistent, moderate exercise most days of the week is preventive for illness. Manage your stress and recovery, especially if you exercise with intensity. Wash your hands.

References:

Laskowski, Edward R. M.D. Exercise and illness: Work out with a cold?

(June 18, 2011) Retrieved from:http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01097

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Body Image, Fitness Goals, General Health, Motivation

How Do You Measure Success?

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Long before the scale validates our hard work, physiological changes are actually happening. How do I know this? I suffer from Varicose veins- heavy tired feeling legs and unsightly blue veins in my legs. I had been exercising but the scale hadn’t changed much. Sometimes, it even went up, not down. Prior to getting some surgery to relieve the discomfort, I was required to get an ultrasound of my legs. Some of the  valves in my leg veins weren’t functioning -which caused the blood to pool in the veins and thus the discomfort. The ultrasound tech asked if I’m an athlete. I said no. She asked how often I worked out. I said 4 days a week. She explained that she knew I was a regular exerciser because of the plentiful capillaries in my legs that come from working out over time. These capillaries are so important and can even save one’s life in case of a DVT or cardiac event. Wow. That’s something we can’t see. There are other measures that we can see and feel and its important that we track those non-scale victories because they help us stay motivated. But how do we track and measure them if we don’t have an ultrasound machine?

1. We can measure girth with Myotape.

Measuring gains or losses in muscle size are hard to take on yourself. Every time you move or breathe, the tape measure changes placement. Also where you place the tape might be off by a few cm and completely change the numbers. Myotape is a retractable circular tape measure that leaves one of your hands free and allows you to stand straight to take your measurements. (I put some links on where you can purchase). I recommend taking measurements 3 times at each site and taking an average. This can also help you track your progress over time more accurately. You can use this CHART to keep track.

2. You can measure how much more weight you can lift or how many more reps you can lift for or how far you can walk without being out of breath. You can measure and track your resting heart rate. When your resting heart rate is lower, that means your heart is getting stronger. One way is to take your heart rate first thing in the morning. Before you get out of bed, just sit up and take your pulse for a minute. Track that measure over time.

3. We can chart and track how often we got to the gym, or lifted or took a walk. Consistency is success. It shows you have established healthy habits- the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

4. We can track our sleep- with a notepad or a tracking device like the Sleep Number Smart Bed Smart IQ App  or Oura ring or apple device.

5. What have you ADDED not subtracted? Are you eating more proteins and lean veggies? Track how many fruits and veggies you ate today, all week, all month?

6. Do you feel more confident? Have your friendships changed? Do you go places and try new things or new equipment?

As a trainer, I also know some ladies look better, shrink in size while the scale itself goes up or stay the same!  Some people grow in size and look and feel better when the scale goes up or stays the same. It may matter but its only 1 of many ways to measure the success of your fitness program.

Most of my clients don’t care what the scale says. They just want to feel and move better. (I’m not opposed to physique goals). By shifting our focus off the scale, we’re not just moving the target! We are celebrating all the small victories that lead to our success. We are staying motivated and helping delay gratification and reminding ourselves that our intrinsic worth as a human (remember, created in “H image) has nothing at all to do with that square piece of plastic on our bathroom floor. We are also staying present in the Now, enjoying life today as we are.

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Body Image, Misc, Motivation

Judge, Favorably

“THE JEWS”…and WHAT’S Really GOING ON WITH ANOTHER PERSON.

This week was super-duper busy. November, (pre-pandemic) used to be one of my busiest months. This week even exceeded my busiest pre-pandmic months. It amazes and pleases me that people are back to valuing themselves, experiences, and their health. I’m grateful to all of you who took a class or booked a session for keeping my schedule full and keeping me growing professionally and able to be of service.

Being a trainer means the people I meet often confide in me about their health. Meeting many people means many more stories come out. This past week, one such story came full circle. I lost an acquaintance who never became my client but did become a friend and it taught me an important lesson about judging others favorably.

Nazi, my neighbor, was 52; just two years older than me, so it hit me harder than expected to learn of her sudden passing. She was Persian, and a Mom of 3. She’s probably still on this email list. To be honest,  I really didn’t like Nazi all that much when I first met her. She parked in my driveway, and sometimes also parked her car in the middle of the whole darned street. (We had a chat about that and fortunately she did change and find a proper parking spot). I didn’t understand how someone could be so rude and inconsiderate. She also talked to me about wanting to start training etc. but never actually booked a session.

One day, she recognized me in the locker room at Equinox. She told me she meant to start training with me, but in the meantime at Equinox signed up with one of my colleagues- and didn’t know I worked there too [I left in Aug]. Her trainer (a tall Black man who resembled a super-hero) I assured her, was a fabulous professional and she was in good hands. I wasn’t hurt and I was happy for her that if she found he was a good match to stick it out and she would get good results. We talked about other things- her love for her children etc and I started to feel compassion and warmth for her. 

Many weeks later she confided that she was battling lung Cancer and her weight had gone up and down and she was feeling hopeless. I tried to assure her that I knew many people who had beaten different forms of Cancer and that we know exercise has an affect on the body even if we don’t always see a result on the scale and that there are many studies which show exercise during treatment -if done at a proper intensity even if its a low intensity can be beneficial both for mood and metabolically. In fact, an ultrasound technician explained to me once that when you exercise, your body makes extra capillaries in the legs and these extra pathways for blood can help sustain a person in the event of a cardiac event because it offers alternative pathways.. so she should be assured that good changes are happening even if the clothes fit the same. I offered to pray for her.

Moments later, one of my own clients approached me and made disparaging comments about how Nazi’s weight fluctuated. Meanwhile, this client wasn’t consistent in her own workout routine. Though her own weight may have been consistent, it wasn’t clear if that was due to healthy or unhealthy eating choices or whether her response to stress (which she also had her fair share of) was loss of appetite. I tried to explain that you don’t always know from the outside what’s going on with someone on the inside. There can be many reasons someone gains or loses weight aside from a lack of discipline.

What I didn’t know was that Nazi was battling cancer for 4 years already and the doctors had given her 1 year. This past week, Nazi passed away. I called her trainer to let him know the sad news and encourage him to attend the shiva or memorial. He was heartbroken and as incredulous as I that she was here one moment and she’s not here anymore and it just doesn’t seem real. He asked me, “Kayla, since you are Jewish, what do I wear or what should I expect at the memorial service”. Um, I explained that even though I’m an Orthodox Jew, I have actually never been to a Persian memorial service. In fact, this isn’t an Ashkenazi custom and although we’re both Jewish, this is a custom with which I’m unfamiliar but I would ask a few friends. 

So during the week where sports stars and comedians were all saying things about what you are and aren’t allowed to say about “The Jews” (as if we’re all the same), I found out about a Jewish custom for the first time after living my whole life as a Jew. I learned that sometimes following a Persian memorial they serve a lavish dinner, whereas communal eating wasn’t allowed during the week I sat shiva for my Father…THAT different. Attending her memorial helped me find closure and gave me perspective about my own perceptions of right practice in Judaism.  [I think her trainer and I were simultaneously the lightest and darkest skinned folks in the room too and despite my own insecurity about that, nobody seemed particularly bothered by it.] 

Reflecting back, I had assumed years ago that Nazi was rude and self-centered by parking in my driveway or in the middle of the street. Now I wonder if she was just exhausted from Cancer or its treatment, and needed to park there but didn’t want to tell me all about her woes. I hope my client understands Nazi maybe wasn’t lacking self-discipline in her weight loss. Maybe she was also battling stresses and fears like of dying, or years of a slower metabolism from yoyo dieting? What if the client who was being so disparaging of Nazi really was projecting outside to someone else, her own self-criticism and insecurities? 

This was sort of the theme of the week… assumptions and learning to be kind. One of my new clients trains in her own home. She apologized to me for what she saw as her messy home. She assumed my home was neater. In fact, I had two sink loads of dishes piled way higher than hers when I left to go train her. Another client complained about how difficult it was for her to follow left hand from right hand. Yet another looked pregnant and was not, and another did not look pregnant and was. One woman talked of how her sister recently divorced and as close as they were, she never knew the problems she was having. Another friend told of how she could live with a certain thing and someone else said they could not. One woman appeared to have it all- kids, wealth etc.. and she confided that her husband may not be as religiously committed as it appears.

Bottom line is – be kind. People are more than they appear. Many times they are doing inner battles we know nothing about. We all have insecurities. The creator didn’t make any of us perfect. If we saw the things truly someone else is dealing with, with the skills and flaws they have with which to cope with those things, we might not be able to do it any better. Do the things..the best things you know how, in the best way you can. Even if it seems like it may not be making a big difference on the outside, you may be still making micro changes inside which will ultimately be worthwhile. Its normal to judge- ourselves and others. ..and I’m trying to take this weeks’ experiences as a reminder to try and judge favorably.

Exercise, Fitness Goals, General Health, Motivation

Let’s Get Moving: 5 Tips for Getting Back into Fitness

Help, I’ve Fallen off the Exercise Wagon

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 11.23.11 PM
How to Ease Back Into Fitness

If you just spent the last month like I did: (a) With a piece of honey cake in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, (b) Doing an exercise routine exclusively made up of balancing hot dishes on one arm while walking laps in and out of the house, (c) where regeneration activity included multiple hours seated in meaningful contemplation or reading, or… (d) All of the above, plus sullen concerns about your lack of energy and expanding waistline…Then you will want to read on about how to bounce back into working out.

First: Let’s get real about expectations. You will want to pick up where you left off. This generally means you will want to return to the couch (Remember a body at rest tends to stay at rest from physics class in High School?!?) or, You will want to become the quintessential weekend warrior and jump headlong into intense cardio and double sessions in the gym. I want to take this moment to help you pause and do neither of those instinctive but completely unproductive impulses.

Instead, follow my

5 tips for getting back into exercise and fitness in a sustainable way:

1. Prepare for success. Lay your workout clothes and sneakers out before you go to bed. Schedule the workout in your planner and block out interruptions. Do that workout before you have time to think about it…because thinking during the next two weeks (your break back in period) will only get in your way. We want this on auto-pilot because deciding to work out and actually getting there is the hardest part. Short-circuiting the decision part is key. So stack that workout habit on top of some other firmly established habit (like waking up in the morning) and do it in a way that keeps it front of mind- i.e. having the sneakers in your visual space or the phone appointment alarm.

2. Begin the way you mean to go on. Plan on ONE thing you can stick with consistently FOREVER. Maybe that’s a 10 minute walk. Maybe that’s a 10 minute walk three times a week. Maybe that’s a 10 minute walk plus 20 situps and 10 modified pushups and a stretch. Pick that one thing you could reasonably, easily stick with for the rest of your life… and do it consistently for the next two weeks.

Resist the urge to give 110% these first two weeks. You want to work out to a point where you notice there was something happening but not so sore you can’t move (and sometimes you can’t tell because soreness doesn’t kick in until 24-48 hours after, so it’s ok to do a little less than you think you can that first time.) This is NOT the time to push your limits. You do not want to miss a workout these first two weeks. Consistency IS success. Soreness is not the indicator of success. I’m fairly certain you didn’t plan to go on needing to hold onto the walls easing yourself onto the toilet because …leg day.

3.Figure out your WHY and write that down. Why do you want to get fit? Want to not die so soon? Write it down. Want to look awesome for your niece’s wedding. Write it down. Need to get up the stairs without passing out? Whatever that “WHY” is, figure it out now, and write it down. Read what you wrote down often. Put it in your phone. Make a collage about it. When you have a meaningful reason, you can withstand the discomfort of making space in your life to commit to it.

4. Have Fun. The more fun you have while doing the workout the more you will stick with it. Maybe you fell off the wagon because you were bored. Then try something new- a new class, a new sport, something which used to make you smile but you gave up years ago like dancing in your bedroom like Madonna to show tunes.

5. Get support. Need a sports bra, get it. New sneakers? Need to dial a friend, a counselor, a coach, a trainer? You can’t do this alone. You need support so plan that out. Register for a class or take that walk Wednesday with a friend. Call a trainer or a sports med doc or a physical therapist if needed, so you can move better.

Periods of time off can break a plateau and even help reinvigorate your excitement and desire to exercise. Observing the Jewish holidays practically enforces a degree of moderation, and even regeneration (a key component of fitness), so don’t sweat it. It’s an overall sedentary lifestyle that becomes detrimental for our wellbeing but following these tips will allow you to ease back into sustainable exercise.

—–

Another version of this article appeared in LA Jewish Home October 20, 2022 (a newspaper serving the Greater Los Angeles Jewish Community)

Diet, General Health

Which DIET is BEST?

While I’m reasonably certain of what will work best to keep me mentally sharp, performing well in the gym and emotionally even in terms of my nutrition, I’m an agnositc when it comes to my belief about whether that method is the right one or the best one for YOU.

First, let’s be sure we are on the same page. When I say DIET, most people hear the word restriction. When I say the word diet, I just mean the habitual pattern of what you eat on a day to day basis.

I know there are people who are devoutly Vegan or Low-Carb or Paleo or eat within a specific time window or High Fat or High Carb, Gluten-Free, Keto, Kosher, Hallal, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, or any variety of nutritional lifestyle and many of them think their way is the BEST way.  However, I know from working with real clients over many years that different things work for different people. I actually think any of these could probably work depending on one’s situation.

If you like to cook, or don’t like to cook, have food allergies, have a big or small food budget, have a lot or a little nutrition knowledge, have GENES or diseases that predispose you to gain or lose weight on certain diets or require certain foods be added or omitted from your diet all coalesce into what your perfect diet is for YOU.

You may be wondering how it is that someone like myself who has studied nutrition and fitness could endorse such wildly different and sometimes conflicting diets depending on the person, and how I could even coach nutrition under such circumstances. The answer is that most nutrition programs accomplish certain cornerstone habits which are necessary in a healthy lifestyle.

In other words, when I coach clients in nutrition I don’t prescribe a diet or a particular menu though I may make some suggestions in the way that fits their lifestyle.. taking into consideration things like:

~ Cooking Experience and Knowledge

~ Stage of life (big family, small family, living alone)

~ Time

~ Budget

~ Allergies

~ Genetic variables (For clients interested in high fat or high protein diets I often suggest a DNA test to see if they are good candidates for such a diet in the long-term since some plans can require intense commitments. If a diet could feel overly restrictive given their social and entertaining calendars or those of other family members or their genetics indicate it would yield poor results at the outset they will have the information to make a more well informed decision as a result of the DNA test.)

Speaking of genetic variables, 23 and me is offering 50% off their Health and ancestry kit One of the health kits they offer can help you know if you are predisposed to be successful on a high or low fat diet for your individual metabolism and more.

 please use my referral code   https://www.23andme.com/?utm_source=extole&utm_medium=referafriend&utm_campaign=extole&utm_content=23c_Refer_A_Friend&extole_share_channel=EXTOLE_EMAIL&extole_shareable_code=wiwif&extole_coupon_none=true&sub=ver2

If you would like a FREE tool to help assess if your current diet is actually working for you, click HERE for a questionnaire to help you decide

Diet, Uncategorized

Maintaining Goals During the Holidays

For the client who is panicked about the meal itself and how it will affect her goals:
I’d like to take a moment to remind you that the main foods of Thanksgiving: turkey, sweet potato, green beans… on any other day we would call this diet food or clean eating.. LOL. So usually its not the food itself which is so worrisome but it could be.


Are you worried you are going to over eat?
Are you worried that the food will be prepared differently or will be different than the foods you usually eat?
What do you want your food consumption to look like at this meal? 
How do you want to feel during the meal and afterward?
How could you feel good during this meal?
Can you visualize yourself the way you want to feel after the weekend or gathering?
What could you do to prepare in advance to make yourself have that desired result?


The answers to these questions will be different for each client but these questions are some tools for you to begin to eat mindfully. 


If you are going to be away and not in control of the food and how its prepared or served, what you do have control over is eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full and not eating when you aren’t hungry. Allowing yourself time (20 minutes or so) for your body to register fullness. Or finding something else to do when you want to eat for reasons other than physical hunger.


Worst case scenario: you over-eat..and then you will get back on track and not blow it all out because its not about what you do one day or a couple of days. It is about what you do the rest of the year that determines the outcome of your combined choices. Maybe set the goal or intention to make it through the holiday with joy rather than being sick about worries about the food and definitely come back to training regardless of the outcome.


Here are a few more tricks to help you be able to make stick to these goals:

  1. Bulk up on self-care before the event: get enough sleep, fill up on time with people who “get you, “ meditate or take yoga or pray, work out and get those endorphins flowing get your nails done- whatever it takes to help you feel balanced, good enough and pretty enough.
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Avoid the alcohol- it lowers inhibitions and can lead to poor decision-making and dehydration
  4. Be your own best friend. If you find that you are saying things to yourself which don’t make you feel good, ask yourself if your best friend would talk to you this way. (If she would, it might be time to get a different best friend). Change the internal dialogue into one of affirmation and support. 
[with permission of Trista Eason]
Diet, General Health

Supplements

Supplements are controversial. Some say even with a perfect diet, due to soil depletion we need them for a healthy energetic life. Others ague that nutritional supplements have little to no value, can even be harmful and simply make supplement companies rich while you pee them out. These polarizing views each likely offer some element of truth but the simplicity and polarization often are masking complexity which the average consumer doesn’t have the headspace or qualifications to adequately explore. 

While many of us believe that if a product is on the market, it must be ok to use, that isn’t always true. Countries differ in how they control these substances. The US FDA doesn’t test effectiveness, safety, or purity of nutritional supplements- including vitamins or protein powders and more. Aside from a kosher label, we don’t know if a supplement contains what the labels claims it does.

So I encourage you to ask yourself some questions before investing in and consuming a supplement;

  • How do I know I will benefit from this ie. have I looked at my current food intake, have I done nutritional testing?
  • What objective peer reviewed research demonstrates this supplement does what the manufacturer claims it will– without causing harm?
  • Why do I trust this manufacturer?

Reasons clients sometimes choose various supplements include needs for increased strength and endurance performance and recovery, prevention of deficiencies of micronutrients, convenience, enhance food absorption, reduce digestive issues, enhance fat utilization, reduce inflammation , improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep, support bone and connective tissue.

Sometimes even if a supplement does what it says and is not harmful it needs to be taken in conjunction with other nutrients to be effective. Athletes need to know if supplements are on a banned substance list. Some supplements interact with other foods or drugs you may be taking. That’s why I’m often skeptical when non healthcare providers recommend specific supplements to everyone.

It is true that there’s largely little to no organization or accountability to make sure that the amounts reported on a label are consistent in a supplement, and that food is the best source of nutrients. There are some ways to research it yourself.

For years now, I have consulted with a couple of different Registered Dietitians as well as Joe Cannon who owns the consumer site https://supplementclarity.com 
Consumerlabs.com isn’t free (but they offer a free 5 day trial) They do brand testing and reviews.
Labdoor.com reviews purity and label claims
Examine.com is a site for reviewing evidence supporting specific supplements.
The NSF does comprehensive third-party certification and testing of nutritional supplement for sport. and HFL Sport Science is a drug surveillance lab providing doping control and banned substances. 

For many people, supplements are unnecessary.  Many cannot be processed by the body, even can be harmful. 

Even vitamin D has a variety of forms and might be more effective taken along with certain other minerals or vitamins and harmful taken other ways or in certain amounts. Ask your doc to explain or direct you to resources to help you optimize your supplementation if prescribed.

One client who replied to my question last week points out:
“When I stopped taking vitamins I started being more careful about food.”- Alexandra Blaker 

Do you research, and get to know yourself. It also doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You could supplement on some days and not others. Check with your healthcare provider. Nothing beats the nutrient power of a good diet.

Jan 4-10 Sprouts Market is offering 20% off supplements and bodycare
Some say that Whole Foods offers sales on Fridays.

Some of my personal favorites are below.Check with your Doctor to see if they are right for you before consuming

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Pareve Protein Powder- Pea Protein

Pareve Protein Powder- Hemp Protein

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Dairy Protein Powder

This one is famous for its smooth blending ability and good taste. It contains Stevia as the sweetner. It is a Whey protein.

Blender Bottle

This product is great for on the go blending of your protein powder with water, juice, nut milks or other liquids without a need for electricity. I even froth milk in it for a latte.

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<a href=”http://<iframe sandbox=”allow-popups allow-scripts allow-modals allow-forms allow-same-origin” style=”width:120px;height:240px;” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ src=”//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=getfitwithkay-20&language=en_US&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B094W2N87W&asins=B094W2N87W&linkId=e980a87c809b0af25cc39fd08904ba05&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true”>Dairy Vanilla Protein Powder- Pea Protein Based

Greens Supplement

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Multivitamin for Women

I liked that this one digests well. They do make a women age 40+ which contains Cohosh that probably gave me hot flashes…even though I’m in midlife I still prefer the regular women’s once daily.

Prenatal Multivitamin

These have been around forever.

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Collagen Supplement

Check with your LOR about kashrus since it has questionable certification but some/not all Rabbonim feel supplements may not require the same level of certification under certain circumstances. I use this on occasion with disposables. It adds to my feeling of satiety with coffee and I have noticed a smoother more plump texture to my cheeks.

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You may have noticed a lack of soy protein recommended. Soy is often genetically modified. It is unclear if soy is right for everyone- particularly cancer survivors. It is also not in a fermented natural state but rather highly processed when in powder and there are plentiful alternatives recommended above.

Diet

Fat Facts that Blew My Mind

This week, while I was down with that nasty cold that’s making its rounds, I caught up on studying for my Nutrition Certification with Precision Nutrition. While I have been doing nutrition coaching for a long time already, I didn’t enroll in a professional certification program before, mostly for financial reasons-these courses can top $1,000+, but also because I was skeptical of the value of such programs given the conflicting information out there, the lack of a national standard or international standard in nutrition education (outside the RD track which involves a 4 year degree, an internship and a national exam) and the wide availability of nutritional data in the public sphere which I had already incorporated into my coaching sessions (much of it from Precision Nutrition, among others). Investing in myself however and choosing one of the most reputable and longstanding certifications is proving not only to raise my confidence in the level of service I can be to my clients with the information I already have, but given me the support and resources and education to enhance the level of support I can give to my clients. It also re-energizes and re-ignites my passion as I learn new things -especially ones that bust myths such as the one about saturated fat I learned about recently that I want to share with you today.

Fat is high in calories- about 9 calories per gram.. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but compared to alcohol at 7 grams and protein and carbs at 4 grams each respectively, fat is the definitive winner on bang for the buck. Its part of why eating just a few nuts can provide us with the same or greater amount of energy as a whole plate full of another kind of food. However it does make us feel full longer (it satiates us) and that’s a good thing. You would think the more fat you eat, the more fat you store in the body and jiggle around with- but the body isn’t that simple. As we know from the 1990s Fat-Free food trend, snackwell cakes and other highly palatable but fat-free foods (containing salt, sugar, awesome textures and colors) only increased what we call the obesity epidemic. 

Saturated fat particularly got a bad rap. Saturated fat is in beef, lamb, eggs, butter, cheese, coconut and cacao (chocolate). I was disabused of the notion that they were linked to heart disease quite a while ago because they are high in cholesterol. The thinking (remember, back in the eggs bad era..) was that if we eat cholesterol we raise our cholesterol levels. Raised cholesterol levels lead to deposits in the arteries which for plaque which leads to heart disease and cardiovascular disease- the #1 killer. However, the body is more complicated and we actually make most of our own cholesterol just fine on our own in the liver, and we need cholesterol to do many important jobs in the body like make our sex hormones testosterone, progesterone and estrogen as well as make vitamin D, help the liver digest fats, and insulate our nerve cells. We also know foods like cacao have stearic acid which can be good for us. Yay chocolate. So, we can’t predict a food’s disease risk by how much saturated fat it has.

Here’s where my mind was blown though: A meta-analysis (a study that looks at a bunch of other studies and pulls all the findings together) found there’s no significant evidence for concluding dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”  For instance, a 2013 article in the British Medical Journal points out that, ⅔  of people admitted to the hospital for a heart attack “really have metabolic syndrome-but 75% of these patients have completely normal total cholesterol concentrations.”  “The biggest culprit in many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease is excess body fat, which leads to systemic inflammation and metabolic disruption from things like insulin resistance.

In a nutshell, overall excess energy intake (especially highly palatable processed foods which disrupt our feelings of fullness and cause us to eat more and thus store more as adipose tissue/body fat, upsets the metabolism and increases insulin resistance which leads to inflammation and disease. So, THAT is why we should move more- since movement combats insulin resistance and we should eat more whole, natural, less- processed and maybe more boring foods. It’s empowering though- because now all we have to do is find ways to make getting protein, fats and carbs and movement more exciting- which is about behavior change/forming new habits. This is something completely in my domain as a Personal Trainer, and yours, as a human being who wants to show your body love.

Fitness Goals, General Health, Motivation

End of Summer thoughts

The end of summer/beginning of the school year brings such mixed emotions. 

This time happens to be the Jewish month of Ellul/the pre-High Holiday preparation time. We start to reflect on all of the things we have done and all we wish to accomplish in the coming year. We sometimes create grand goals like this year I will be able to fit into my (spectacularly smaller) outfit. This year I will become more fit (amorphous goal). Or this year I’ll eat healthy (whatever that’s supposed to mean..and often its overly restrictive and not sustainable long-term and will later boomerang back on your body and diminish your self-worth).

There’s a reason we’re not already there in that best bod ever right now. There are habits and skills that need to be established that maybe never have been or the pandemic blew to pieces as we simply coped. I am writing to caution you that as tempting as it is to do an accounting and draft big expectations with the thought maybe you will fall short of those huge goals but still progress will be achieved, you’re likely to be more successful with a different approach.

Let me challenge you to think first about which habits and skills need to be up to snuff in order to accomplish those grand goals and instead of focusing on the outcome, focus on the process- on becoming that version of you who does and thinks and eats like the person who has the outcome you desire.

Consider what baby step could be taken this week that is so small that its barely noticeable but takes you in the direction you want to go. Can you do that just for this month to show the universe this is who you are so the universe (insert your higher power here) can then assist? Would incorporating one vegetable into lunch or drinking a glass of water or simply slowing down to notice the taste of your food (but not all 3) be that thing? Would walking for 5 minutes be that thing? What 1 thing could you do right now and stick with forever? Think small and start..now! Need help? Go to the tab above that says contact me and we’ll make a workable plan.

Fitness Goals, Motivation

the War of Art

Book Review

I read an amazing book which I’m certain will help you overcome inner resistance- when it comes not only to your health and physique goals, but in nearly any endeavor that comes from our higher nature.

Activities which commonly elicit resistance include:

1. Creative endeavors and callings in the fine arts, writing, music

2. A program of spiritual advancement

3. Education of every kind

4. An act of political moral or ethical courage

5. Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals, a diet or health regimen or a course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.

In other words, any act that involves the delay of gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity is likely to be met with resistance.

According to Steven Pressfield, author of the book the War of Art, resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. “It will purjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully cajole.” However, the rule of thumb is the more important a call of action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will face pursuing it. Resistance aims to kill our genius; our unique and priceless gift we were put on the earth to give and when we fight it, we’re in a war.

Sometimes resistance takes the form of drugs, shopping, sex, tv, gossip, alcohol, or all products containing fat, sugar, salt or chocolate.

Fear and the degree of fear we have about an endeavor equates to the strength of resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no fear and no resistance. Yet its the fear that tells us this is what we have to do. This is where our growth is and our potential. Resistance feeds on fear. That is the battle.

Part of overcoming resistance it seems is to acknowledge that its there and prepare for the battle by going pro.. Enlisting help, and also by keeping on the daily task.

Sure we fear failure..but sometimes even more, we fear success. What will we lose on the way to success? It will change our identity. Perhaps success will change our friends. We may become estranged from all we know. Will we end up alone, unmoored? What happens actually is that we do change and we find friends in places we never knew to look, and we become more than we could have imagined.

My takeaway is that this book is about finding and becoming your true authentic self ..and in a city most known for celebrating what’s fake, its something ironically we probably crave the most.

If you are looking for help overcoming resistance and finally achieving the body of your dreams, learning a new fitness skill, or simply enjoying movement, contact me to book a session today.

Body Image, Fitness Goals, General Health, Motivation

Unlimited

Even if right now you are living with pain, obesity, gut disorders, sleep issues, low energy, or simply not feeling strong confident and energized much of the time, that doesn’t have to be how you feel forever. Everyone deserves to feel good in their body.

However, sometimes its FEAR that is holding us back. That F.E.A.R. serves a purpose …that is, until it no longer serves us. F.E.A.R. is an acronym which stands for false evidence appearing real. I’ve also seen it listed as F.A.T. False info Appearing True… What are some of these false beliefs?

  • Aches and pains are a normal part of aging.
  • I can’t afford the time or money to work out regularly
  • I’ve tried EVERYTHING when it comes to exercise but nothing works for me
  • I don’t have good genes for working out so I’ll never be good at it
  • I’m likely to get hurt if I work out and I don’t like feeling pain

Just look at some of these… are they real or have other DECISIONS been made which makes these appear like facts when in reality they are temporary.

For instance, can you really not afford the time or money it takes for an enjoyable workout? Or do you plan and save for other things and not prioritize your health? Could you reframe and exercise in 5-10 minute segments while baby is sleeping if you can’t get in a whole hour at once? Is midlife spread inevitable or a result of unwitting choices made from a lack of information about metabolism in midlife? Have you tried everything? Do you think that genes are destiny or that you can make choices which influence the expression of those genes-choices which can be mirrored by the next generation and become their inheritance?

In what way do beliefs such as these actually serve you? What are your F.E.A.R.S protecting you from? How do they constrain your potential? Do they do both?

I don’t think all limitations or limiting beliefs are necessarily detrimental! Sometimes they protect us from having to face deeper emotions we don’t necessarily want to feel or they allow for comfort. They serve us until they don’t serve us.

Consider unlocking your potential by trying this 7 day Unlimited Challenge. Its 7 days of access to unlimited on-demand classes.

https://getfitwithkayla.on.recess.tv/embed/checkout/explore/packages?
Diet, Exercise, General Health, Motivation, Q&A

Q & A: Can people who exercise “get away” with poor food choices?

My short answer is Yes and No…

In a small study of  two groups of 7 participants, one group exercised for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity or higher at least 3 times a week. The other group worked out less often and less intense than the first group. 

All 14 participants were fed the same high fat 960 calorie breakfast meal. (2220 mg sodium, 48 g of fat, including 16 g saturated fat and 4.5 g trans fat..280mg. cholesterol)

After the high fat meal, they measured obstruction of blood flow in the brachial artery (-the one just above your elbow crease on your arm)..The less active group showed a greater obstruction of blood flow through the artery- it was narrowed,  while the more active exercisers had no change.

Both groups experienced an increase in triglycerides (triglycerides are an ester of glycerol and 3 fatty acid groups. High levels of triglycerides indicate an increased risk of stroke.) The more highly active group’s triglycerides rose by 47% but the less active group increased triglycerides by a whopping 184%

While exercise is protective against disease, and people who exercise may be more able to get away with poor food choices, but not on a regular basis. 

Johnson, B.D. et al. “Vascular consequences of a High-Fat Meal in physically active and Inactive adults.’  Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism, 36, no3. (2011) 368-375