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

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.

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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

Fitness Goals, General Health, Motivation

Decide, Commit, Succeed

If you just think about something, if you merely try, it doesn’t usually happen. However, when you decide and commit and have a plan of action, that’s when you succeed.

It is when you don’t leave room for doubt that you’re most likely to succeed. 


Once you DECIDE, cement it as a priority in your daily, weekly and long-term goals so you can visualize it and realistically achieve it. 

Work BACKWARDS

The Fantasy: If anything were possible, what would that look like?

The Long-Term: In 5 years what would that outcome look like?

In A Year: What would the achievement look like a year from now?

Weekly: What is a realistic goal for this week

Daily: What can I do right now to get me toward my weekly goal.

Once you make that commitment, whatever it is; to create a happier life, to work out more, to take the weight off, to invest in clothes that are more flattering, to surround myself with emotionally healthy people…Put It In Writing.

So often, potential clients have their priorities out of whack. They are waiting for motivation to work out yet they want results NOW. I tell them, perspiration before inspiration.

Nothing is more motivating than success!

Think about this.. the Psychiatrist who sends her client to the gym before prescribing antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication doesn’t wait until her patient feels Motivated to work out. She sends them to me, a trainer, or to the gym FIRST.  The prescription to work out comes FIRST and then the motivation will follow.  (There are many studies that show exercise is sometimes more effective than medication….and still sometimes medication is necessary so speak with your own doc).

Think about it, in starting a new habbit, we understand intellectually what changes we want to make and why but if we wait until we’re inspired every single time we will likely never change. It is taking that step that causes the next one to be easier and more rewarding.

Another thing a lot of clients miss is to focus simply on the outcome on that fantasy goal and forget the daily and weekly goal that will get them there.. and a lot of the time, the focus is on an unrealistic outcome. Sometimes this is influenced by influencers on social media who are using filters on their photos and really painting an unrealistic picture that they themselves aren’t even living up to. 

Once you have mede a intellectual decision, a mental commitment, you will need to protect that sacred space by drawing a fence and a gate and a protective wall around it so you can nurture it to fruition. Want to know my BIGGEST tip last week to my 1:1 clients who are starting to see some doubts creep in?


To Get out of your own way. 
Cleanse and purge
 …your social media!!!

Surround yourself with supportive people and if you don’t have people in your life to support you, nurture yourself with podcasts, books, classes, and images which do support you – things that make you feel valued, energized, happy, supported…and be very wary of the FB and instagram algorithm. If you have not yet heard, the social media giant is purposely manipulating what you see in ways that are sabotaging your mental and physical health and that of your daughters. An inside whistleblower showed that if you’re already feeling crappy about yourself and look there for inspiration you’re likely to be fed more that makes you feel worse.. (see this article among others if you need proof) so guard your health and your heart please and stay the course -focus on the small daily goals and prune your social media accordingly.  

If you would like to be on my email list to receive all the latest updates on classes, training and fitness news, you can signup or change your preferences HERE

Diet, General Health

Probiotics to Prevent Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is one of the most frequent cancers in women. One in eight women who live to age 85 years will develop breast Cancer over the course of their lifetime.2 

The reality is that Breast Cancer Awareness strategies have done little if nothing to decrease the incidence of diagnosis. The mammogram can be a useful tool for detecting a breast tumor, however, the cancer cells may have have already spread. Wouldn’t it be great if we could prevent and/or reverse unhealthy breast tissue before it becomes cancerous? 

Um, Yeah! That’s why I’m on the lookout for the latest and greatest in research to arm us with just that sort of tool. While researching information on foods and health and weightloss, I stumbled across this mind-blowing info:

A 2019 review of the studies from Oncology Review indicates some promising research about the efficacy of probiotics to alter the but bacteria to prevent the growth and development of breast cancer by modulating the gi bacteria and systemic immune system. 

Probiotics (bacteria or yeasts) are live microorganisms which when given in the right amounts in food or as a supplement provide health benefits. The most commonly used bacterial strains for probiotic purposes are the lactic acid bacteria, which are mainly consumed as fermented dairy like Kefir and yogurt. There are others as well including Kimchi, fermented saurkraut, Kombocha, and there are also tablets. Each type of probiotic is somewhat different and it may take some research and experimentation to find out which one(s) are right for you. Gastrointestinal bacteria is affected by diet, alcohol, and cholesterol metabolism, and vice versa… and these all have an effect of the amount of estrogens in the body. In short, several small-scale studies reported lowered cholesterol on using probiotics, which may support their benefit in blocking the hypercholesterolemiaestrogen cancer mechanism.44,45In summary, in addition to regular exercise, stress reduction such as including mindfulness meditation, adding fruits and veggies to your diet (specifically the cruciferous ones like broccoli and cabbage) it seems probiotics can be another tool to improve your odds preventing and beating disease including Breast Cancer (-specifically, estrogen positive cancers).
I’m trying to incorporate probiotics like this fermented cabbage into my daily diet. Its ok to start with a small amount even a tablespoon to see how you tolerate different kinds. Do your research and consult with your doc to see which might be right for you.

Read the latest research that got my attention: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6775487/
Body Image, Diet, Exercise, General Health

Is Obesity a CHOICE?

Trigger Warning: 

This post involves discussions of Weight. If such topics are distressing or triggering to you please consider employing self-care tools and strategies which may include not reading this.

A February 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association reveals how the pandemic has led to unwanted weight gain.42% of US adults gained unwanted weight during the pandemic.52% of Gen Z adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 28 pounds.48% of millennials report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 41 pounds.Yet despite these statistics, for better health and a longer life span, exercise is more important than weight loss.

 An interesting new scientific review of the relationships between fitness, weight, heart health and longevity found that obese people typically lower their risks of heart disease and premature death far more by gaining fitness than by dropping weight or dieting.

The review adds to mounting evidence that most of us can be healthy at any weight, if we are also active enough.

Glenn Gaesser, a professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University in Phoenix (My alma matter, BTW), found overweight and obese people with significant health problems, including high blood pressure, poor cholesterol profiles or insulin resistance, a marker for Type 2 diabetes, showed considerable improvements in those conditions after they started exercising, whether they dropped any weight or not. The studies show that even if no weight is lost, obese and formerly sedentary individuals can  lower their risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent or more.

And now, because the science needs to also explain that water is wet:

“Some past research shows that people who start to exercise rarely lose much, if any, weight, unless they also cut back substantially on food intake because the exercise they are doing burns too few calories and because they compensate for some caloric burn during exercise by eating more calories afterwards.”

This information begs the question: Is Obesity a Choice?

This short answer is..not usually. Sure genetics and bone structure, genes and upbringing play a part. However, some of us eat more and/or move less when stressed or anxious or depressed.. and for others its just the opposite! Some of us find sweet foods satisfying in some situations and salty in others (hint: there are actual biological reasons for craving salty in some situations and sweet in others–and its part of the glorious way or bodies are pre-programmed for survival).

Sometimes people are making choices, but they are only semi-conscious of them-for instance out of self-harm as a trauma response. Other times we don’t even know we are making choices because we are simply unaware of alternatives or we have never been educated about the way that stimuli such as emotions and specific foods trigger different responses within the body that set us up for a cascade of effects that are displayed visually or on our bloodwork results…

Information like how to combine which foods to achieve stable blood sugar and lower insulin response. A sensitive balanced insulin response can increase your sensitivity to feelings of hunger and fullness. That is necessary for true agency in one’s health outcomes (and visual outcomes). Listening to one’s body only works well when the body is working to give us those signals otherwise the whole system is rigged against us succeeding from the start (if our goal is to “listen to the body”).

There is a whole science behind options including which foods to combine or eat and when if you want to decrease cravings overall. Or which foods can make you feel fuller longer or think more clearly or have more energy.  Which type of exercises performed which way for how long will make you hungrier and which will enable you to feel more full after the workout. If you would like to know more about those things, so you are more empowered to make changes smarter not harder,  it is something I coach my 1:1 Private clients on.

Some people say, I can’t train with you Kayla, you’ve never been overweight like me. I have never been you, but there have been times I was overweight (5’5″ 172lb not pregnant, and 175 when pregnant) and I have also been mocked for appearing underweight (young teen), Fortunately I have mostly been in the normal range. I have discovered ways to hack the system both from reading and studying and talking to pros about it to be more stable over time and some of it has to do with hearing relatives who do have a good relationship with their bodies and food while growing up-which helps me reflect back to my clients when something seems off track.  I’ve survived illnesses, injuries, and other setbacks. I’ve had a few pregnancies too…and struggled sometimes there too.  Its important to select a trainer and coach (sometimes a counselor and/or RD) who does get you and who you are comfortable with and have the conversations so it can become more of a choice that your body is rigged to help you with instead of fighting with your body.

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.
General Health, Misc

Thankfulness

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Recent studies indicate gratitude can help strengthen your immune system, lower your blood pressure, reduce symptoms of illness, and even reduce your everyday aches and pains. So during this season of joy and giving, I’m wishing everyone more joy and gratitude attitude with 5 suggestions to help incorporate more gratitude into your life:

1. Start saying blessings over your food, over nature or have more intention and focus when you are saying them.

2. Have a gratitude journal where you write about someone or something that you encountered each day which was good. Use these things as affirmations or mantras when you may be feeling down.

3. Volunteer

4. Pay it forward– offer to pay for something for someone else that you have abundance in that they are lacking in (even if its paying their parking meter) or handing out a snack to a homeless person.

5. Take a walk in nature and focus on all the sights and smells you are appreciating.

Gratitude makes for improved physical health, happiness, enhanced sleep, improves self-esteem and better relationships. Gratitude is self-care

What are the ways you incorporate gratitude into your daily life? Tell me about it in the comments below.

I’m grateful for all my wonderful clients and the many ways they enrich my life by bringing their best to session and sometimes by bringing their worst but showing up anyway. Thanks for sharing the journey.

Exercise, Flexibility/Stretching, General Health, Injuries, Personal Trainers, Q&A

Muscle Cramps During Exercise?

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 7.19.43 PM Why Do I Get Muscle Cramps When Exercising and What Can I do about it?

You’re really jammin’ on your workout and then suddenly it happens, your muscles just cramp up and you can’t go on. Maybe a charlie horse hamstring or a calf pulsation ..What gives? Well there are many factors that could cause it and that’s why I often ask my clients if they have eaten recently and I also review their training program and ask about their activities between training. Aside from medications (like those for high blood pressure and cholesterol) and nerve issues, there are many factors which can cause cramping including overexertion, dehydration/electrolyte imbalances, inadequate nutrition, or chronically tight muscles.

When someone is new to fitness, deconditioned, or working out harder than they usually do, muscles are subjected to forces much stronger than that which they are accustomed. As a result, they may go into a spasm as a protective mechanism to prevent injury. Isn’t the body marvelous! Okay, it may not feel maahvelous at the moment. If this is the situation the obvious solution is to get more fit- gradually. Things like interval training will build up your endurance: both cardiovascular and muscular.

Another factor which often leads to cramping is dehydration. Potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium in and out of the muscle and surrounding tissues maintain an electrical charge which allows it to do its work. When the levels of these minerals aren’t adequate or in the right amounts or the fluid which carries them in your body-H2O-water isn’t adequate, the muscle either can produce a weak contraction or make a contraction that fails to let go-a cramp.

Most people do get enough sugar and salts in their diet. Unless you are a serious athlete your issue is likely to be dehydration rather than inadequate salt intake. Make sure to hydrate before, during and after your workout. Consider avoiding caffeine and diuretics.

However, some people are sweating so much in their workout and having water but are not replenishing their sodium fast enough and water alone won’t relieve the issue. Typically this isn’t something happens in a one-hour training session but more of a marathon training of 90+ minutes of moderate to intense exertion. Researchers at Brigham Young University found that salt inhibits the message the brain sends to nerves which cause muscles to cramp. (It was a study where they made athletes cramp and then fed them pickle juice and it worked to stop the cramp within seconds). So you could try having something salty to relieve the cramping.

Low Potassium levels can contribute to cramping. Try eating potassium-containing foods such as banana, avocado or oranges at least once a day.  Calcium and Magnesium found in dairy and nuts can also help reduce cramping events. .

Some clients think that carbs are the enemy. However carbohydrates are the primary fuel for aerobic activities. The muscle can only store so much glycogen to fuel the workout and at a certain point it can become depleted. It takes about 60-90 minutes to deplete the glycogen stores but if we’re working very intensely it could become depleted in 45 minutes. Muscles need energy to contract and to relax.. So adequate fuel in the form of complex carbohydrates like whole grains and fruits can totally be part of your healthy lifestyle and may help performance.

Some researchers hypothesize that shortened/tight muscles- like shortened hamstrings from prolonged chronic sitting are more likely to cramp. The solution then is to become a regular stretcher. Things like standing toe touches, down dogs from yoga, lunges or similar modifications against a wall or using a chair etc can stretch the calf and hamstring area.

At this point you may be wondering why am I writing to you about cramps just after Passover?

I always think of cramps during Passover because while pregnant in 2002 or 2003,  I got the worst cramp that would not go away. I turned to Rabbi Blumenkrantz’ Passover book for a remedy in 2002 and on page 486 he writes, “ Vinegar is high in potassium and low in potassium levels;may cause some cramping, For best results, drink a mixture of 2tsp vinegar and one tsp of honey in a glass of warm water.”  Worked like a charm.

If you have fitness questions that need answers, write to me Kayla@getfitwithkayla.com

 

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.