Body Image, Diet, Exercise, General Health, Motivation

How to Hack Your Hormones for a Better Mood

This year it seems World Mental Health Day got a lot more press in America. That’s a good thing because its really time to lower the stigma and thereby encourage everyone to get the help they need to to feel good.

So many of us have been affected by lifestyle changes brought about by Covid and I’ve seen many tip lists and articles about how to lower anxiety and increase happiness but some of it is dense and hard to remember so I created this handy dandy chart compiled from some of them. See if you notice what I did:
OK.  Technology wasn’t on the list.  
Did you see how often EXERCISE was on the list?!?

Exercise has multiple physical health benefits. AND it can have a positive impact on emotional well-being.Regular physical activity can increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, making it a great option to boost your happy hormones. In addition, you’ve probably already heard of the ‘high” that many feel from endorphin release intense exercise triggers. 

According to one article focused on using food to boost mood, here’s how to  Maximize the Mood Boosting Power of your workout:

To see even more benefits from exercise:

Include a few friends. A small 2009 study (of men) found evidence to suggest group exercise offers more benefits than solo exercise.

Get some sun. Move your workout outdoors to maximize your serotonin boost.

Time it. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a time. Any amount of physical activity has health benefits, but research associates endorphin release with continued exercise rather than short bursts of activity.
Diet, Exercise, Fitness Goals, General Health

Just One Thing..

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Just One Thing…

The most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and get into shape or tone up.  

If getting into shape is your goal, and you actually want to change your shape-say from a pear to an hourglass or from an apple to an hourglass or from a brick to an hourglass, or from a stalk of wheat to something that won’t blow over in the wind, cardio isn’t the best way to try and get there. Cardio is a great choice for heart health and stamina and we need to do it a few times every week but its not a top choice for maintaining a healthy weight and for actually changing your shape.

With resistance or weight training, we can build you some shoulders to give those of you with a pear shape a more balanced look and we can tighten and firm your glutes and use high reps on your thighs to give them a longer leaner appearance. Will that make you an hourglass? Technically no, because bone structure and genetics are what they are, but we can get you closer to balance and proportion you might have in mind.That said, there’s nothing wrong with any of those body shapes and many people do find them attractive despite the singular message about beauty standards the media seems to offer. From a health and longevity perspective weight training is great for you.

Those with more voluptuous bellies or booties may also be dealing with another big issue: hormones. Those of us in our mid to late 40s or 50s with bat wings who may be dealing with age-related loss of muscle.Muscle also gives a more youthful firmer appearance. Muscle tone helps you lose fat because it takes calories just to sustain itself.  Even if weight loss is your goal, resistance training, and especially resistance training in midlife is the way to go.

Muscle is metabolically active tissue…which means you don’t need to starve yourself and run marathons to maintain your physique. In fact, muscle tissue needs calories to stick around or it will waste away- which means you can eat good nutritious food without worrying so much that it will turn to fat. Isn’t that good news?

So if starting the new year with an exercise program means loving your body, that’s fantastic. If it means beating into submission, can you believe you’re less likely to succeed at weightloss? Yes the scientific data says loving your body with enough hydration, rest, nutrient dense food, an occasional unhealthy but so yummy treat and the healthy hormones released when you exercise with intensity are fabulous for your health and better for weightloss.. Starving your body, over-working it and telling yourself about how your various bits aren’t up to par is horrible for your body and your emotional health and actually inhibits weightloss and may even foster illness.

This year, can we resolve to work out smarter instead of harder and be kind to our bodies? I’m ready. So here’s my challenge to you: This year don’t join a gym, and blow it out on the treadmill and dry ryvita crackers for 3 weeks and give up by March.. Just pick one thing. ONE small thing you could commit to for the rest of 2019 that might make a difference and stick to that one thing.

Here are some examples: (Feel free to come up with your own…but only ONE..and make it small and achievable)

  • I will drinking a glass of water every day before breakfast.
  • I commit to walking for 10 minutes every day.
  • I commit to a one minute meditation or mantra of gratitude every day.
  • I commit to learning to do something besides a bicep curl with dumbells
  • I will learn to do one pushup.
  • I will join a workout group and attend each of my 6 sessions (okay I had to throw that in there) as a way to kick start making fitness part of my lifestyle.

 

Diet

Drink Up!

10406497_815382911871386_1382414466723659507_nFor camels like me who know they should be drinking more water…Try an infuser like this set from Costco $25. Put your fruits inside, pour water in and refrigerate overnight. I’ve got raspberry lime water. Still technically zero calories but a lot more interesting. This one is made of plastic by Takeya but there are probably glass ones to be found elsewhere. One more tip- if you fill a personal drinking bottle with fruit-infused water, I find my bottle gets moldy faster because of the fructose.. So use a straw bottle brush right away. Don’t just rinse and refill or use a bottle that doesn’t have a straw for easier cleaning

Diet, Exercise, Fitness Goals

Planning to go on a diet and exercise plan after Passover?

Consider the following things a personal trainer can do:

  1. Improve Your Overall Fitness by monitoring your progress and fine-tune your program as you go, helping you work your way off plateaus.
  2. Reach or Maintain a Healthy Weight by helping you set realistic goals and determine safe strategies, all while providing the encouragement you need.
  3. Learn to Stick to It by helping you overcome your biggest obstacles to exercise.
  4. Focus on Your Unique Health Concerns such as low-back pain, rehabilitation from injury and pre/postnatal training.
  5. Find the Right Way to Work Out, by learning  the correct way to use equipment, and appropriate form and technique for cardiovascular work and free-weight training.
  6. Stop Wasting Time. Get maximum results in minimum time with a program designed specifically for you.
  7. Learn New Skills.
  8. Enhance Your Mind, Body and Spirit by showing you potential you didn’t realize you had.
  9. Benefit From the Buddy System, individualized attention and support.
  10. Finally find the exercise program that works best for you.
Diet, Fitness Goals

Cleansing for Passover

You have probably heard all the gossip about the latest fad diet or juice cleanse or whatever and at this point the only thing you really matzo deserves a good cleanse is the back of your refrigerator from any chometz.

Some of us, fear that Passover with all of the matzo balls or macaroons, oddly timed meals and family stressors will ruin the waistline we worked so hard to achieve.  I think Passover can be a great time to institute some good nutrition for yourself and your family. The market shelves are already brimming with boxed specialty latke mixes for Passover, Passover candies, Matzos of every variety and we are carefully checking labels to insure they meet our high standards. We may also start getting concerned about the higher costs of all of these specialty items.

I’d like to invite you to also use this time of preparation to take a look at the junk we puff ourselves up with on the outside and begin fresh this spring by taking the holiday as an opportunity to simplify, and cleanse the body with un-packaged, simpler and self-made goodies that nourish us on the inside in ways that will make us glow as well on the outside.  You can choose to “simplify with ore packaged foods and mixes..or you can choose to simplify and actually save money by using more fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables.  You can make your own convenience foods such as carrot and celery sticks, or melon slices pre-portioned and ready to go in baggies in the fridge. You can even nibble on these while you clean. Soups can be a wonderful addition to your meals because they make you feel more full and (assuming you aren’t using bullion) contain no artificial colorings, flavorings, unhealthful oils either. You can even be your own sous chef and slice all the veggies and separate them into portions all on the same day for different uses-for sides or soups or for steaming all at the same time to economize on time.  Salads are another great option with a lean protein like a poached chicken breast makes a great lunch to keep your blood sugar stable (and your mood) while you are preparing and during the holiday as well.

If there is one area–besides the Matzo not to spare expense–it would be oil. Grapeseed, Walnut oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut are all better choices for your health than the cottonseed and palm oils which will be readily and more cheaply available. These more healthful oils are worth the extra expense!

Make sure to stay hydrated while you are scrubbing and organizing too and re-charge your emotional and physical battery as you prepare to leave Egypt! Take time to tune in to how you are feeling. Do you need a break? Do you need some you-time. Maybe as we get closer you can’t get to the gym or class because of the time crunch but can you do some bodyweight exercise at home or a video? Maybe try to do 3 burpees or pushups between cleaning each shelf of the fridge or turn on some music and dance each time you finish cleaning an appliance.

If you are already using free software like MyFitnessPal.com to track your calories, Do Not vacation from that during Passover. Continue to log- before or after Yom Tov too. Just the act of logging keeps you on track to staying within your caloric requirements.

Finally, choose Chol HaMoed activities which allow you to enjoy the great outdoors and get some exercise. Plan a family hike, take a tour, go vegetable picking at a farm but stay active. You should be blessed to come out more free and energized with your cleaning.

Those are my tips. Do you have tips for thriving and using this prep time to tune up your nutritional cleansing and pantry cleansing?

Diet

Veggetti

1455987_743692369040441_7586790813147492486_nMy friends give me a sly look when I tell them I bought myself a veggetti at Bed Bath n Beyond..I’m not saying it won’t help in the bedroom but its for the kitchen..to make spaghetti spirals out of your zucchini. Just top with sauce and you should be good to go…(minus all the extra calories and refined white flour in regular high-gylcemic pasta.) Now everyone can be happy. Sshhh..don’t tell the marketing folks who wrote “without the carbs” on the package that vegetables are carbs.

Diet

How To Skinny Up That Latte

Now that the coffee shops are brimming with holiday treats…This article has some great tips on how to skinny it up at Starbucks. All good to know, but you still can’t out-train a bad diet! (Organic coffee and milk or nut-milks are also healthier options because of fewer pesticides. Also drip coffee won’t raise your cholesterol the way espresso can-yes u read that right). Also, let’s skip the NSA crap. Studies show it slows your weight-loss efforts. Keep it real. http://www.starbucks.com/blog/how-to-skinny-your-beverage

Diet

Do you ever CHEAT?

chocolatecakeMy newest client this week was having a really productive session.  She was working hard, breaking through mental barriers about what she could physically do and doing great.   Then she looked at me incredulously and asked, “Do you ever cheat?”  I was taken aback.  I have found people share all kinds of personal info during a good sweaty workout, and not wanting to make any assumptions, I asked her to clarify what exactly she meant by cheat.

“I mean, eat cookies, cake, ice cream, chips, things like that…You know, cheat on your diet.”  Totally relieved she wasn’t confiding about her married life,  I answered “Oh, of course I eat cookies, cake and ice cream sometimes. In fact, I ate so much vanilla ice cream with each child, my husband exclaimed how astonished he was each one was born without a cone.”  “It was just about the only thing I could tolerate without gagging from morning sickness,” I confided.  We chuckled.  Then I got serious.

The thing is, I don’t consider it cheating.  I don’t even like the term “cheat food.”   If you live life on and off of a diet all the time then you have to make these kinds of black and white, good and bad distinctions and call eating high calorie nutrient-poor foods “cheating.”   The goal though is to make a healthy lifestyle, where you can incorporate all kinds of foods without having to feel like a bad person.  You simply work the food into your calorie allowance…and it can be done even if you don’t like to count calories.
For instance, I try to fill my days with a combination of proteins and carbs at each meal to keep my blood sugar stable throughout the day so I don’t crave sugary, salty high calorie foods.  When I want to eat a high calorie food like a piece of cake, I go ahead and enjoy some; a reasonable portion and I eat lower calorie more nutrient dense foods the other days.  For instance, a kale salad and tuna for lunch, instead of pizza on that day…and I do a little more exercise.  I try to keep it in balance.
That said, I’m not trying to look like a swimsuit model.  If I had to do that for my career, I would need to be a little more stringent in my diet and probably need to cultivate the ability to live with more deprivation.  For me and most of my current clients, we just need to live life in balance is all.  No cheating.
Diet, Exercise, General Health

Are You Skinny Fat?

fatIt has been a colorful 2 weeks since I last posted.

I have been substitute teaching PE at an all-girls private High School.  When I took the 9th graders, split them into groups to do resistance exercises circuit-style, one group assigned to do sit-ups couldn’t execute a single sit-up with proper form.  One pretty young thing just lifted her head up and down while laying on her back. It was so sad.

I explained to them the many health benefits of exercise.  I don’t think they were incredibly impressed.

I explained how 65%+ of Americans are overweight – which puts them at all kinds of health risks from diabetes to heart attacks and cancer.  They could even quote back the statistics to me…and nobody seemed to think these numbers had anything to do with them.  If you look around, its usually like a carnival house of mirrors with all kinds of distorted bodies peering back at you – distended bellies and all, but this group was actually relatively thin looking.  From all outward appearances, you would assume they are a healthy bunch.  So I think the girls figured they don’t really need to exercise.

That’s simply not true!  There’s something called Skinny Fat – medically, the term is metabolically obese, normal weight (‘MONW’).  Not enough lean muscle.  Or your ratio of muscle to fat is off-kilter.  For instance, a body-fat of 24-39% is high by medical and health standards, but with good genes and bone structure you might appear thin.  Yes, its also true that if you fit into a size 2, but you still jiggle while you wiggle and your skin feels spongy…there’s a good chance you fit the definition of skinny fat.

Actually, a Skinny Fat person can have the same health risks as someone overweight/obese—or worse.  The shocking news published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is that nearly 1 in 4 skinny people have pre-diabetes and are metabolically obese.   Skinny people diagnosed with diabetes have twice the risk of death than heavy people with it.  Could be that having some extra muscle from lugging around that extra weight is protective?

In other words, a heavy fat person with a good amount of muscle might be healthier than you, Miss String-Bean!  Yeah, fit people come in all shapes and sizes is what I am saying.

Why am I so passionate about this subject?  Because I have been Skinny Fat myself.

Thanks to genetics and bone structure, I appear taller and slimmer than I actually am.  Many years ago, after the birth of my second child, I went for my annual physical.  The doctor looked at the results of my blood tests and asked what I did for exercise.  I told him “I chase toddlers. ” He went on to tell me that although I was active and exhausted from all the chasing of my kids all day long, I was actually 33% body-fat.  I was obese.  I gasped – but I’m not that heavy according to the scale!  He said if I were older, he would have put me on a statin drug because of my cholesterol numbers and that I should start an exercise program (I had not done regular exercise since High School) and eat oatmeal for breakfast.  I joined a gym and attended classes religiously, ate my oatmeal for breakfast, backed off on the fancy coffee dessert-drinks, and within 3-6 months I had lowered my cholesterol 13 points.  This was the start to my journey of becoming a fitness professional.

There are a number of tests your Doc can run to see if you are Skinny Fat, including a fasting glucose tolerance test, HDL, triglycerides, blood pressure, NMR lipid particle test.

So how to fix it when you are Skinny Fat?  Pair a lean protein with a healthy low GI carb at every meal in order to keep blood glucose levels steady.  For instance, an apple with some almonds, a hard boiled egg and oatmeal, celery and peanut butter, rice and beans, chicken breast and bell pepper.  Don’t drink your calories.  Get enough sleep.  Do resistance training with cardiovascular intervals…just like I have been doing with all of the classes I have been teaching at school this week.

Don’t worry – if you lift more than 2 lbs you aren’t necessarily gonna bulk up and look like a female version of the Hulk!  If you would like more help finding a fitness program to help you avoid being Skinny Fat, drop me a line or take one of my classes this week!