Sunday, May 29, 2011


I AM LEGIT!  That's right, as of May 26th I am a NCSF Certified Personal Trainer. Because of that, the vast majority of my time this week was spent studying to take my Certification Exam. Luckily I'm through with studying but ever since then I’ve had facts, numbers, stats, calories, exercises, etc… whirling around in my brain. It seems I overdosed on all the information and now I’m detoxing from it :-)
Actually it’s a good thing, because now I get to pass on some of that information. Here's a few facts that have been on the hamster wheel in my brain.

1. After the age of 35, females lose as much as 1% of bone mineral density a year. 40% of women over the age of 50 develop Osteoporosis because of that. The good news is that adequate nutrition and strength training can significantly reduce bone density loss and the risk of developing Osteoporosis.

2. It is estimated that a person’s genetics can determine up to 40% of uncontrolled factors that affect physical fitness. That being said there is 60% of controllable factors that can be manipulated or improved. That means you don’t have to “become your family” you can excel beyond that if you work at it.

3. When you are under constant stress, the hormone Cortisol is continually produced. This leads to significant muscle wasting in the body. High levels of Cortisol in the body can also suppress the immune system and make a person more susceptible to infection.

4. Adaptations to stress only take place when the stress is eliminated. That means that after a workout (which stresses the body) you need adequate rest so that your body can make the positive adaptations you are working towards.

5. If you don’t have time to fit in a 30 minute workout, exercising for 10 minutes 3x’s during the day will be equally beneficial.

6. When you hold onto a machine or lean on a machine while you are exercising you burn 30% fewer calories than if you didn’t hold on. So, let go and stand up – even if you have to slow your pace some.

7. If you gain 2 lbs of muscle and lose and equal amount of fat you will be smaller even though you weigh the same amount. So don’t fully rely on the scale, notice how your jeans fit or take some measurements.

8. You are more likely to become dehydrated when you exercise in high humidity rather than in dry climates. The reason is that the body cools itself by the evaporation of sweat. When the humidity is high the air around you is so moist that it makes it almost impossible for your sweat to evaporate. Therefore your body keeps producing sweat in an attempt to “cool you” and so you lose far more water.

9. The perfect ratio of nutrition is: 55% Carbohydrates (grains, beans, vegetables, fruits) 30% Fats (healthy fats: nuts, avocado, vegetable oils – NOT ANIMAL FATS OR PROCESSED FATS) 15% Protein (meat, beans, nuts).

10. Water plays a major role in fat metabolism so make sure and drink LOTS of water. Active males should drink at least 3 liters per day (100 ounces or 12 cups) and active females should drink at least 2.5 liters per day (84 ounces or 10 cups).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You're on the SAME team!

Often the pursuit to loose weight turns into a “body-battle”. It’s easy to begin separating yourself from your body. This is especially evident when you step on the scale and the number you were hoping for does not pop up – you become frustrated with your body for not losing the weight, you plan to attack your body more the next week so that YOU win this battle with your body.

Even though you must struggle with your body in order to loose weight REMEMBER that your body is not the enemy. You and your body are on the same team. So berating your body or self-loathing are not the answer to loosing weight. If shame and self-loathing ever worked to promote weight-loss, we’d be a nation of thin people by now.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Call me Google, ‘cause I’ve got answers

*this week's article from my column in the local newspaper

Every once in awhile my husband finishes my sentences for me. I get halfway through my brilliant comment then he pipes in and blurts out the ending. I’m not gonna lie, it irritates me. Which I make very clear when it happens. Since my irritation has nothing to do with my well-meaning husband, and everything to do with the fact that I am female, I don’t feel too bad mentioning this area of contention in our marriage. Don’t worry, I’ll get over it and stop believing that when I’m interrupted halfway through my monologue I’m being slighted.

I’m convinced that Google must be male, because it has the audacity to finish my sentences for me as well. I type no more than two words and up pops three ways of saying exactly what I’m trying to say. Out of pure spite, I ignore all three correct options and finish typing out my search for myself. I realize the lack of efficiency involved with that. I could save myself five seconds and just click on what I’m wanting. Any normal person would be glad to see that Google guessed their “search” and saved them the time of typing the whole thing out.

With that in mind I’m going to assume that you are more normal than me, and that you’ll be pleasantly surprised as I attempt to “guess” your health & fitness questions/searches. So today I’m going to act like my husband and Google and answer what I think you might want to ask about exercise, nutrition, or overall health.

Google Guess #1 – “When is the best time of day to exercise?”

Answer #1 – There actually is no “magic hour”. The best time to exercise will be different for every person. It depends on your schedule, location, circadian rhythm, and temperament. There are pros and cons for every exercise time. If you workout first thing in the morning you get it done and over with. If you are a procrastinator morning workouts may be best for you. A morning workout also kick starts your metabolism and may make you burn more calories during the rest of the day. Exercise releases endorphins, so morning exercise often makes a person feel better about the rest of their day. On the flip side, in the morning your muscles are more rigid and tight and you’ll need to take time to adequately warm-up before you can really push yourself hard in a workout. You’re body is also low on fuel first thing in the morning and you could easily lack intensity in your workout without eating something first. Afternoon or evening exercise is often a great de-stressor. Your muscles are also warm which makes injury less likely. A con of evening exercise is that if you are working out too close to bedtime it may leave you amped up so you don’t get a good night's sleep. Also, as you go through your day and responsibilities pile up, working out is more likely to get pushed off of the to do list. So really the best time to workout is the time that works best for you.

Husband Hypothesis #2 – “Should I exercise if I am sick?”

Answer #2 – Here are the facts: Exercise, psychological stress, physiological stress, and immune function are all intertwined. The body can only handle so many demands at one time, and when it is laboring in response to exercise and stress it suppresses immune function. Likewise, when the body is fighting off illness, the physical effort of exercise is negatively impacted. Other stressors such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or mental stress can magnify this impact. My advice is that stressing the body in too many ways at once is unwise. Since you’re ability to exercise is greatly hindered by being sick and it may weaken you’re immune system by over stressing your body it’s best to take a few days off and fully recover before you workout again.

Google Gander #3 – “Do I really need to warm-up before exercise and cool-down after?”

Answer #3 – YES! - to both. Warming up greatly reduces the risk of injury and improves your athletic performance. A warm-up or cool-down typically involves doing your activity at a slower pace and reduced intensity for five to ten minutes. The main purpose of warming up is to increase your heart rate slowly which then raises your core body temperature and increases the blood flow to your muscles. This prepares your body for more vigorous physical activity. Some people equate stretching with warming up, but really stretching should be done at the end of a workout, not during a warm-up. A warm-up may include things like walking, light jogging, jumping jacks, jumping rope, or light aerobics. When you are finished with your workout it is important to cool down. Many people skip this phase, but cooling down is another way to prevent injury. The cool-down reduces your heart rate, and it helps the extra blood in your extremities return to your heart in order to rid the muscles of lactic acid. If you stop suddenly, the blood will pool in your legs instead of returning to your heart. Dizziness, nausea, and a "worn out" feeling are common symptoms of an improper cool-down. Slower walking is a great way to cool-down along with stretching at the end of your workout.

Husband Hunch #4 – “Why do I get a side-stitch, and how can I make it go away?”

Answer #4 – There isn’t one clear cut explanation as to why people get that painful burning sensation near the upper part of the abdomen or side. But, there are a few potential causes of a side-stitch. It could be caused by a jarring and pulling on the ligaments that attach the stomach to the diaphragm. It may also have something to do with your breathing. Taking deep full breaths during exercise typically helps in avoiding a side-stitch. Eating too soon before exercise can also cause a side-stitch. A few ways to relieve side-stitch pain are to reduce the exercise intensity level until the pain subsides, focus on taking deep full breaths, tightening the abdominal muscles while bending forward, always doing an adequate warm-up, and waiting at least two hours after eating to exercise.

I realize I’m not as proficient at the “sentence-finishing” as my husband or Google, but hopefully I did ok. If I didn’t answer a question you have, or if like me, you’re annoyed at having words put into you mouth; then email me at and tell me what health, fitness, or nutrition related questions you need answered. You may just get lucky and read your answer in my next article!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

physical follows mental

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how connected the physical and mental are.  They just can't be separated.  I notice this a lot with running.  When I'm not in a good place mentally then I'm not a very good runner.  I run slower, or shorter, or NOT AT ALL.  On the flip side when my mind is in the right place and I believe in myself, I do better than I even think I can. 

So many things affect our mental state - health, rest, achievements (or lack there of) others comments (or lack there of) family, friends, daily stress or struggles....the list could go on and on.  In every situation there is a chance for our mental status to be encouraged, or there is a chance that it could be wounded.  Whenever we are wounded mentally it transfers over to our physical body.  That means we could feel tired or sick, or do poorly at a workout, or lack self-restraint or motivation.

It's easy to immediately blame the physical without taking into account the metal stressors that may play into the physical problem. 

If you are feeling depleted physically consider that mental stressors in your life and work toward changing them.  Maybe you are doubting yourself, based on someones comment or the # on the scale.  Maybe you are mentally drained from work or family and so you don't have the physical energy to really push yourself. 

You're challenge this week is too concentrate on being in a good place mentally so that it transfers over to everything physical in your life. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

invisible VICTORIES!

The world we live in is all about external success or achievement.  We are taught to look good, be good, achieve more, We measure our worth and others worth by their "external achievements"  These are the things you list on your resume...I graduated from college with a 4.0, I got a promotion at work, I pulled myself up by my own boot straps and get the idea.  All of those things are important, however there are also INVISIBLE VICTORIES that we would NEVER list on our resume and which often never get celebrated. 

In your journey to becoming healthier or  fitter there or make any positive change in your life there are many of these invisible victories.  You may even feel a pang of injustice when someone praises your new body size but never once recognizes all the hard work you've put into achieving it.  Every day that you choose to eat the right foods or the right amount of food or workout it is a victory.  Every time you make a healthy choice, no matter how small it is worth recognizing and celebrating!

This week, notice those INVISIBLE VICTORIES and share them with someone you love, or tell me about them (I'll get stoked for you) or treat yourself for them (not with food - you already know that)  Let the parties begin!