Friday, December 27, 2013

Beware of New Years Resolutions

The new year is just days away and many of us are excited to shake off some of the gluttonous habits we've developed over the holidays and start living healthier lives again, but I just want to caution people about going too hard out of the gates on January 1st.

I have always been a big fan of setting goals but I fear some people don't do the goal setting process justice when they set a weak resolution for something they would like. If it is only a mere resolution or a wish then you are bound to fail.

In order to make the goal setting process a positive experience with power behind it, I suggest you review the components of SMART goals which I have addressed previously.

One of the big problems people have is that they are gung-ho for the first couple weeks but just can't maintain the pace and keep things up indefinitely. As a result, they give up on their goals after a short time. This is why the gym is packed in January but then back to normal numbers in April. I am a bigger fan of taking baby steps and making weekly or monthly improvements and building on prior successes.

In the past I have made the mistake of going too hard out of the gates at the beginning of each year. This year I am going to ease up slightly in January and make weekly improvements that I know I can maintain and then slowly build on those until I am at peak performance in July.

If you'd like some motivation, I really enjoyed the messages in this clip. The principles don't just apply to sports or getting into shape, but carry over into other challenges and aspects of life.

I wish you the best with your 2014 goals and remember if your goals are really important to you, then it is worth taking the necessary time to plan them properly as well as remembering the daily motivation to keep you going until you hit your goals.

If you'd like some accountability for your goals, feel free to write a few of your most important ones for 2014 in the comments section. Committing publicly to do something is one way to help you follow through.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Leg Day

The Internet has officially been over run by Memes about leg day. Move over Chuck Norris. Here is a small sampling of what I'm talking about.

Ok, I know exercising your lower body and not neglecting your lower half is important, but I am starting to get tired of all the leg day stuff. One does not simply post tons of memes on the Internet without expecting people to get tired of it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Get Back Up!

I thought I'd share a short inspirational video. This is a short race and really worth watching. Watch the lead runner trip and fall on the final lap. As a result, her opponents open up a large lead over her with just seconds remaining in the race. What would you do?

I love how this runner immediately gets up and keeps going. Remember this the next time you think you have blown it. Did you eat poorly or skip exercising or mess up on your fitness goals? You can still get back up and get going and win!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

To Weigh or Not to Weigh? That is the Question

Weighing is yet another topic where the experts disagree. There are pros and cons of regularly weighing yourself. Your weight can fluctuate up to 3 or 4 pounds over the course of the day, so when you weigh yourself, it is best to do so at the same time each day, with the same amount of clothing, and preferably on the same scale. I prefer weighing myself in the mornings before getting in the shower.

The Pros: One of the advantages to daily monitoring is that it keeps the weight from creeping up on you. Those who do weigh themselves regularly are less likely to have a jaw dropping experience of seeing they have gained 10 pounds since they last checked. It is easier to improve something you monitor and are aware of than something you are clueless about. It can be difficult to fine tune a weight loss program if you are not getting any feedback as to the progress you are making. It's also important to keep in mind that you are looking for trends and moving averages. There are many software applications that help you track and graph your weight to recognize these trends. Weighing can also serve as a daily reminder and motivator to eat right.

The Cons: The disadvantage to regular weighing is that it can make people stressed out, discouraged, or even neurotic. Some people want to give up if they don't see immediate weight changes, but the body doesn't always respond immediately to our behavior. I've had some clients who worked out hard and ate right, and the scale went up. I've been shocked when others confessed a week of gluttonous eating, yet they maintained their weight or it even went down! There are many variables that affect our weight besides our diet. I do not recommend regular weighing for teenage girls who are already at a healthy body weight. I would hate to be a contributor to someone obsessing about their weight and developing an eating disorder.

Your weight is just one of many feedback factors you can use to indicate how you are doing. Although I think weekly weighing is important, there are some people in excellent shape and in good health who have not stepped on a scale in years and could care less how much they weigh. They are most likely the exception.

I think a more important area to focus on is body composition as opposed to how much you weigh. If you lose ten pounds and it's mostly muscle, then that's not a good thing.  It is possible to transform your physique by losing fat and gaining muscle yet weigh the same as when you started. Other useful feedback mechanisms besides the scale are how you look, feel, and how your clothes fit you. One of the best compliments you can get is when people ask you if you have lost weight. That type of positive feedback is more rewarding than just reaching a number on the scale.

So should you weigh yourself regularly or not? I do, but I think it depends on the person. The feedback is valuable, but it is not for everyone. It is crucial for some people but some personalities do better focusing on other factors as long as they don't kid themselves and deny the obvious. I recommend doing what works best for you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Spartan Beast Race Recap

Last December I must have been going through a mid life crisis  because I signed up for the Spartan Beast Race at Soldier Hollow in Utah. It is a 12 mile trail running course that includes 25 obstacles along the way such as climbing walls, wading through mud pits, carrying buckets of rocks, climbing up ropes, hauling sand bags, dragging concrete blocks, flipping large tires, crawling under barbed wire, and jumping over fire, just to name a few.

Despite having six months notice, I hadn't done much specific training aside from running so I was a little nervous about how I would do. I had never done an obstacle course before so this was new to me. One thing that makes training for a Spartan race difficult is the element of surprise. Although they typically use many of the same obstacles in their races, they never let you know the details about the course in advance so you have to just deal with it as you come upon each challenge.

Since there are thousands of participants, they are released in groups of 200 runners every 15 minutes to space things out over the course. The elite runners start first and this year Hobie Call who has dominated the event for years won again with a time under 1 hour and 30 minutes which is ridiculous.

My biggest concern was dehydration since the temperature was 99 degrees and I chose not to run with a camelback. The race started with a run up the mountain and within a minute or two we came across the first obstacle which was a chest high mud pit that got you dirty and wet right off the bat. Every several minutes, a new obstacle would challenge the tired runners.

Before and After
One thing that really slowed me down was having to wait for the runners in front of me on the trails in the mountains. The trails were very steep and narrow which made it difficult to pass the slower runners, especially on the descents. There were several times when things came to a complete halt. There was also some waiting in line at some of the obstacles, but it was also nice to be able to rest a little.

Another difficulty was the condition of the course after several hours of runners going through. The mud pits kept getting even more worn down and were very difficult to climb out of. I felt bad for the participants who would be starting later in the day and would experience even muddier and more slippery obstacles and an even hotter course in the afternoon sun.

When you fail to complete one of the obstacles, you are required to crank out 30 burpees (squat thrusts) before proceeding with the race. I failed on 3 of the 25 obstacles. On the spear throw I hit the target, but it just bounced off and did not stick. I also slipped off of the mountain climbing wall and the monkey bars because I couldn't hold on with a muddy slippery grip.

The course really favors trail runners. I saw many people with impressive physiques who were strong enough to do the obstacles with no problem, but most of them were gassed out at the 8 mile mark. People who could run long distances had a definite advantage. Even so, the mud was thick and would pack into your shoes and as soon as you started to dry out you would come across another mud pit so for people used to running on clean pavement it could be very frustrating.

Overall, I felt the Spartan Beast Race was a fun challenge and I really enjoyed it. It's really a giant party. I ended up finishing the course in 3 hours and 28 minutes which was much longer than I wanted, but I was just happy to survive without any major injury of dying of heat exhaustion. If you decide to do one of these races, you will get dirty, scraped up, and tired, but you will probably have a good time unless you are completely unprepared.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Exercise Variety

Sometimes I find myself getting into an exercise rut. I frequently do the same routine of lifting weights, playing basketball, and running. These activities are effective and I enjoy them, but I know it would be beneficial to occasionally incorporate other activities and have more variety when I exercise.

Last year I finally talked my wife into running her first 5K race. She did great and took second place  in her age division. A couple weeks later she filled in for an injured friend and ran the Ragnar Relay. She had previously told me how much she hated running, but after participating in these activities she has experienced the "Green Eggs and Ham" syndrome. I think she's hooked now.

Seeing her excitement for running has made me wonder how many of us would really enjoy or even excel at other activities we have never tried. Variety in our physical activities can be just as important as it is for our nutrition. You don't have to do activities you don't enjoy, but don't knock them until you at least try them once. I used to make fun of yoga until I tried it and realized how challenging it can be.

I recently did a quick poll of Facebook and asked my friends what their favorite activities were for exercise.  Here is what they came up with. I've listed them in order of how popular each response was.

Running (16)
Weight lifting (12)
Hiking (12)
Biking (9)
Walking (9)
Dancing (8)
Basketball (6)
Martial Arts (6)
Swimming (5)
Yoga (4)
Volleyball (4)
Racquetball (2)
Ultimate Frisbee (2)
Tennis (2)
Pickle Ball (2)
Elliptical Machine (2)
Zumba (2)
Workout Videos
Aerobics Class
Horseback Riding
Jump Rope
Wall or rock climbing

I was surprised to see how many different activities they listed and there are still so many other activities that didn't even make the list.

Exploring new sports and physical activities can spice up your exercise efforts and keep you from getting bored doing the same old thing all the time. I challenge you to try a new activity the next time you exercise. You might even find  that you are really good at it and end up loving it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Deceptive Food Labels

Food labels can be a helpful tool to help you determine the value of your food. For people trying to watch their weight and for those with food allergies, they are critical. The problem is that they are often deceiving. I can't really blame advertisers for trying to make their products appear better than they really are, but some food labels are blatantly deceptive. Here are some ways that expert marketers manipulate us on a daily basis.

The word light and lite could mean weight, color, texture, calorie content, or a host of other things. Many people see this on a label and assume it is low calorie or healthier.

If a manufacturer ever wants to turn their high calorie food into a low calorie version all they have to do is to decrease the serving size on the package by half and now you have 50% fewer calories per serving! Speaking of servings sizes. I saw a Granny B's Cookie at the store the other day and checked to see how many calories it had. I was shocked to see it was only 125 calories. After closer examination,  I realized they considered a serving to be 1/4 a cookie. It was really a 500 calorie cookie.

I always get a kick out of some food products that are riding the current dieting or health trends so they label their products with phrases like no "trans fats, low carb, no caffeine, no cholesterol", etc. even though many of these products never contained some of these items in the first place. That's like bottled water bragging that it has no cholesterol or fat. 

Sugars are frequently disguised by calling them a variety of other names like high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, granulated sugar, dextrose, fructose, etc. The more of these you see listed in the ingredients the more sugar your product has. It's common for most products to have more than one sugar source but you may not know it if you are just looking for the word sugar.

Many breads sold as "wheat bread" use the same highly refined flour used in the white bread, but they have added dyes to make it look darker even though it is essentially the same product. You have to watch for "whole wheat bread" on the label if you want a less refined product.

It's always fun to look at labels and see what kind of tactics advertisers use to make you think a food is healthier than it really is. In closing I'd like to refer you to an old blog post by Tornado Paste when he wrote about the family recipe and fresh ingredients that go into a Totinos Pizza.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Top 10 Most Common Fitness Mistakes
(and How to Avoid Them)

Having a regular exercise program is an important part of staying fit, but people frequently make mistakes that sabotage their hard work and keep their efforts from being as effective as they could be. Below is a list of ten of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to working out.

      1)  Not having a specific plan or goal.  Just going to the gym for the sake of working out may help you blow off some steam or burn some calories, but not having a specific plan is a recipe for failure.  You’ve probably seen some of these indecisive people at the gym who appear to be just hanging out.  

The Solution-Determine your goals and objectives first so you can develop a program that will address those issues and help you accomplish those objectives.  Then you can get in and get out without worrying about what you should do once you get there.

      2) Having an incomplete fitness program. Your workout program should address strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, and stress management.  These different components don’t need to be incorporated in every workout, but you will want to make sure you are not completely omitting any of these areas from your program. You don’t want to be the muscle guy or gal who can’t run for a minute without getting winded or the cardio fanatic who can’t do 10 pushups.

The Solution-Take a closer look at your workout and assess if there are some aspects of fitness you are completely neglecting.  Incorporate those components of fitness into your daily activity so you can get more balanced results.

      3)  Overtraining. This is especially common when someone is just starting a program and is gung ho. If you go too hard and overdo it on your first few workouts, it can be discouraging and painful.  I really messed up my knees by training for a marathon for just over two months, as opposed to allowing sufficient time to build up my exercise load gradually. Overtraining is also common among serious athletes who exercise too frequently or too hard without giving their body the needed time to recuperate and recover.

The Solution- Give yourself time to build up and ease into a new program by making gradual progress.  You don’t want to burn out or get injured, so allow your body time to adapt to the new stresses you are placing on it.  You also need to remember to get enough rest.  If you are overtraining or putting too much stress on your body, skipping a workout and giving your body enough time to heal can actually be beneficial.

4)  Underestimating the Importance of Nutrition. You can’t exercise your way out of poor nutrition.  Intense exercise breaks the body down, and you need to eat a healthy diet that will give your body the building blocks required to become even stronger.  What kind of fuel are you using to run your body? If it’s empty calories coming from junk food or highly refined food, then you are asking your body to perform an impossible task.

The Solution- Many people work so hard exercising but sabotage their efforts with poor nutrition. Give your body the nutrients it needs. Remember that nutrition is even more important than your physical activity, in fact, many fitness experts believe the results you get are 70% nutrition and 30% exercise.

      5)  Having Unrealistic Expectations. Are you trying to lose 35 pounds in a month? It took you time to get out of shape, and it will take you some time to get back into shape.  We live in a society that tells us that we should look like fitness models and have six-pack abs. That is simply not realistic for most people, but we can all make improvements and be our healthiest selves.

The Solution- You need to take into account your current condition, genetics, commitment level, and other factors when setting goals and determining expectations. Having realistic expectations will keep you from getting discouraged. Gradual or slow progress is still exciting as long as you are going in the right direction. 

      6)  Not Being Accountable. It’s way too easy to talk yourself out of previously set goals when things gets difficult, but you are much more likely to stick to your program when you are accountable to someone else.  The single most important service a trainer provides is accountability.  If you are going to make lasting changes, then you have to be determined to change, and this is accomplished much more easily and faster if you have others supporting you in your efforts.

The Solution- Enlist the help of a workout partner, friend, or trainer.  Having someone who is willing to support you in your efforts and hold you to what you said makes a huge difference. Sharing your goals and commitments with others can be very motivating, but just make sure you don’t share your goals with people who don’t believe in you or who don’t care if you succeed.

      7)  Failing to Periodize Your Workout. Your body adapts quickly to change, so if you are in an exercise rut and do the same routine every time you workout, you will stop making progress.  Not only does doing the exact same exercise all the time keep you from getting ahead, it is also monotonous and can make exercise a dreaded experience.

The Solution- Change the variables of your workout occasionally by adjusting to the duration, intensity, frequency, and type of exercise. Instead of always opting for the treadmill, do some cardio work on a stair stepper, bike, or jumping rope instead in order to add some variety.  Doing so will allow your body to continue to progress and will make your workout more interesting.

      8) Not Warming Up or Cooling Down. The warm up and cool down part of an exercise program may not seem as glamorous or fun as actually working out, but don’t ignore them. They are important to help your body adjust prior to exercise and to help you avoid injury.  These activities obviously help your body prepare for a workout, but they also help your mind get focused and ready, too.

The Solution- Spend a few minutes before you exercise warming up and remember to cool down afterwards. Remember that stretching is most effective after a workout when your body is still warm and pliable.

      9)  Using Improper Technique. Using poor form will not isolate the muscles you are trying to focus on.  Bad form can be dangerous and may also cause injury.  I used to think you could learn proper form by watching what others are doing at the gym, but lots of people have horrible form when working out. Although you can still get stronger and get results with poor technique, doing so with proper form will be more effective, safer, and make your efforts more productive.

The Solution- Invest in several sessions with a trainer to make sure you learn safe and effective form.  Once you learn the basic habits you will be much better off.  Remember, the mirrors at the gym aren’t just there for the narcissists to check themselves out. Observe your form as you perform exercises to make sure your technique is correct.

      10)  Kidding Yourself. The 11th commandment is “Thou shalt not kid thyself.”  Most people underestimate the amount of calories they consume and overestimate their activity level. When I feel like I’m doing everything right but not getting the results I want, usually after closer examination I find I have just been going through the motions and have not been very strict with my program.

The Solution- Be honest with yourself.  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator will not burn off the cupcakes you had at lunch, and ketchup and fries don’t count as two servings of vegetables! Be honest and accurate with what you are doing.  We all know deep down inside if we are giving our best or just faking it.

I know these 10 mistakes are real and can make a big difference because I have been guilty of making all of these mistakes over time and still struggle with some of them today.  Identify which of these things may be holding you back and work on improving them. Remember not to beat yourself up or get discouraged, but just keep on making more improvements each day so your workouts will be much more effective.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hungry For Change Movie Review

I enjoy watching documentaries about fitness and nutrition. I recently saw Hungry For Change and I thought it was one of the more entertaining films I have seen about how to improve your health.

This movie highlights the problems with the average American diet and tells how most of us over eat yet are under nourished. There is not one particular star or celebrity in this movie, but it features over 10 health and nutrition experts and their thoughts on the subject of nutrition. They all seemed to agree that people consume too many processed foods and they suggest we eat less sugar, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, aspartame, and junk food.

One reason I liked this movie is because it provides simple solutions. They all promoted a basic common sense approach to improve our health by making better food choices. Their solutions include eating more vegetables and fruits with the idea that if we introduce more healthy food into our diet it will crowd out much of the addictive junk food and empty calories that we frequently consume.

One concern I had was that mid way through the program it felt like it was turning into an infomercial for juicing. That would usually bother me more if there was one particular product or diet they were specifically trying to get the viewer to follow, but they only promoted basic principles so it was not like they had an agenda to sell us on any specific product. I may not have agreed with everything that was said in this film but I still think people would be healthier by following the ideas they presented and their messages are worth hearing.

The movie also emphasizes the importance of stress control, exercise, visualization, and self acceptance which I thought was helpful since these things are frequently over looked by some people who are trying to lose weight. Hungry For Change does not talk about how to drop 10 pounds fast or lose inches, but rather it takes a more meaningful inside out approach and focuses on taking care of your body and living a healthier life so those external benefits can happen down the road.

I give Hungry For Change 7.6 stars and suggest it for anyone who is looking to improve their dietary habits and live a healthier life.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

New Website and Services

I am very excited to announce that I will have a brand new website which should be live very soon. In the future when you go to you will be directed to a brand new site with a very different look. I will continue to maintain this site but it can be accessed under the "blog" section of the new website. In the mean time, here are some of the services and packages that I offer.

Nutrition Services

Kitchen Clean-Out  Package includes all 5 services below for $249

* Menu Make-Over -- We go over 2 weeks of what you actually eat and teach you how to substitute healthier choices. We look at your specific nutritional needs and tastes and make sure you are never hungry! (an $89 value)
* Shopping Support -- We go to the grocery store with you and show you how to substitute healthier choices. We teach you how to compare brands and labels so you can make informed decisions without having to think too hard. We begin at the practical foundation of your nutrition - where you buy your food.
* Ready Refrigerator -- If you don’t have it easily available, you won’t eat it! We teach you how to have your refrigerator at the ready, with time-saving tips and practical points.
* Pantry Purge -- We go through your pantry, again teaching you what to substitute for what is already there. We go in depth with the glycemic index so you know the chemical and metabolic significance of what you put in your body.
* Kitchen Clean-Out on a Budget video -- Most people notice it can be more expensive to eat healthier. We give you suggestions and tricks to maximize your budget while actually eating much, much better. (soon to be released)

Menu Make-Over $89
* Private Consultation
* 2 weeks of menu substitutions for what you’re eating using foods you actually LIKE.
* A healthy lifestyle is 30% exercise and 70% nutrition. We go in-depth on the importance of nutrition to your fitness goals.

Shopping Support $89
* Private Consultation
* How to read a label
* Be less overwhelmed by all the choices at the grocery store
* Learn to speak the language like a pro!

Pantry Purge $89
* Private Consultation
* Practical working understanding of glycemic index vs. glycemic load
* Whole Foods
* Macro nutrients (relationships between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats)
* Metabolic and chemical processes of the body.

Ready Refrigerator $89
* Private Consultation
* Time saving tips for food preparation
* Fruits and Vegetables!!! It’s all about how you prepare them!
* Convenience, convenience, convenience!

Training Packages

Package #1
·         1-month training package
·         10 sessions
·         Newsletter
·         Free Consultation
·         $495 package total (a $115 savings)

Package #2
·         3-month training package
·         30 sessions
·         Newsletter
·         Free Consultation
·         1 nutritional service of your choice (Menu Make-over, Ready Refrigerator, Pantry Purge, or Shopping Support, a $89 value) 
·         $1395 (a $404 savings)
Package #3
·         6-month training package
·         60 sessions
·         Newsletter
·         Free Consultation
·         Complete Kitchen Clean-Out (including Menu Make-Over, Ready Refrigerator, Pantry Purge, and Shopping Support, for $249 (a $356 value) 
·         Gym in a Box 
·         $2695 (a $1,019 savings)

Package #4
·         1-year training package
·         120 sessions
·         Newsletter
·         Free Consultation
·         Complete Kitchen Clean-Out (including Menu Make-Over, Ready Refrigerator, Pantry Purge, and Shopping Support, a $249 value)
·         Entry fees waived to all Your Fitness Quest events
·         Free Kitchen Clean-Out on a Budget video
·         Gym in a Box 
·         $4680 (a $2,179 savings)

Ala Carte
·         Individual 1-Hour Session     $65
·         Initial Consultation/Plan         $55
·         Gym In a Box                       $200
·         25% discount for groups of 2 or more
·         Free training session when you refer a friend who starts training

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

America's Weight- Time for a Reality Check

A few years ago I saw a survey in USA Today which indicated Americans are too optimistic when it comes to their health. The survey stated that 30% of overweight Americans actually think they are in the healthy weight range. Here is the link to the story. I have to admit that in the past when I was in the overweight category I felt normal and healthy, so I can see how this could happen to other people.

One reason why people may have a skewed perception of their body weight is probably ignorance. Most of us don't have height and weight charts memorized and are not familiar with the healthy ranges. I think these can be beneficial for the masses, but using BMI tables doesn't work for everyone. A body builder with 6% body fat, could be categorized as being obese since these charts only look at weight and height and don't factor in body composition. For that reason, I try not to put too much stock in BMI numbers when I'm working with my clients.

Another reason why so many people may think they are not as overweight as they really are is because weight gain happens over time and creeps up on you. You don't wake up one morning to find you got fat during the night. Gradual changes over time are not very noticeable. It reminds me of the analogy of putting a frog in a pot of boiling water vs. putting it in warm water and slowly turning up the heat. What kind of sick person started the live frog cooking experiment anyway?

Weight gain creeps up on us as individuals, but it has also done so to us as a society. Some time ago I was trying to explain what hippies were to my kids, so I Googled some images to show them. I was surprised when I couldn't find any overweight people in all the group pictures from the 60's that I looked up. These days we eat larger portions and more calories than we used to. Our activity level has also decreased due to technological advances and our sedentary lifestyles only compound the problem.

Another factor contributing to the confusion is the fact that many clothing manufacturers have fudged a little when it comes to clothing sizes. Their sizes today are more generous and often have more elastic or stretch to the material. Maybe they'd rather have someone happy thinking they still fit into size 34 waist pants rather than make the consumer uncomfortable. I guess 34 is the new 36.

If you suspect you are one of those people who might be in denial, then it may be helpful to do regular fitness assessments to keep things in check. Weighing yourself and taking your measurements on a regular basis is one good way to catch the creeping weight before it sneaks up on you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finding the Fountain of Youth

For some time now I've noticed that my body is not as resilient as it used to be. During college I could get by with minimal sleep while eating junk food, but I can no longer pull that off without suffering the consequences. When I get injured, I also take longer to heal than I used to. The aging process creeps up on all of us. Some people seem to age gracefully while others are not so fortunate.

Rob Lowe plays a health and fitness enthusiast in the series Parks and Recreation, and they did a good job casting him, since he is almost 50, yet he looks like he could be in his thirties. I don't know if his secret is healthy living or cosmetic surgery, but he seems to have aged well.

As I've been thinking about the inevitable aging process and trying to identify what people can do to slow it down, the easiest thing we can do is to identify those things that accelerate the aging process and make sure we are not doing them. Here are some of the biggest factors that affect how we age.

1) Genetics- Some people will just look younger than others as a result of their genetics. I've seen some high school students who looked like they were in their 20's and some adults who could pass as teenagers. There is not much you can do about genetics, so I'm not going to go into detail here, but just acknowledge it.

2) Disease- Being sick with a disease or illness can take a big toll on your body and can accelerate the aging process. People may be predisposed to disease, but so many diseases are caused as a result of our lifestyle. That is why prevention and developing healthy habits are so important.

3) Stress- There is good stress and bad stress. We all experience varying degrees of stress, but any time someone is under constant stress over a long period of time, it will negative impact their body and wear them down.

4) Smoking- Smoking speeds up aging. The hands and face of a smoker suffer from exposure to the heat, smoke, and toxins.

5) Alcohol and drug use- I'm sure you've seen what drugs can do to a person over just a few short years as the attached photos show. I've never seen anything speed up aging as quickly as meth does.

6) Excessive sun / tanning- A tan can look nice on many people, but apparently some people think the more the better and end up looking like a baseball mitt. Sunshine is good for you, but overdoing it can make you look much older than you are.

7) Lack of sleep- Your body will be under increased stress if you do not provide it sufficient time to rest, renew, and recuperate.

8) Poor Nutrition- Many of us eat too many high-calorie and highly processed foods that are rich in sugar and sodium but lack actual nutrients. A diet rich in nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can keep you from looking old prematurely.

9) Pollutants- It's possible to be exposed to toxins in the air, water, our environment, and even the food we eat.

10) Lack of exercise- People who don't exercise are more likely to have problems with strength, flexibility, and endurance. The phrase "use it or lose it" is very true when it comes to physical activity and exercise.

The more of these areas you struggle with the more likely you are to age your body faster.You can see that a big part of the solution is healthy living. In addition to the items mentioned above, it's my personal opinion that the following things also help someone look and feel younger.

*Good mental health
*Regular recreation
*Socializing with others and having a support group
*Spending time with younger peers
*Working towards a goal or a cause and being purpose driven
*Occasionally pampering yourself

It's also important not to put too much emphasis on appearance. Some people with gray hair and wrinkles are more energetic and vibrant than their younger peers. There may be no fountain of youth or way to stop aging, but if you are living a healthy life, you will fair much better when it comes to the aging process. I'd encourage you to identify the things you are doing that make you feel old, then work at changing those habits.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Nutrition and Your Workout

Nutrition is a topic that many health and fitness enthusiasts are passionate about. Some are eager to offer advice about how and when to eat, but before you start listening to recommendations, it is helpful to first determine what your goals are. It is important to differentiate between eating for weight loss and eating for peak performance for a particular athletic event.

Before you blindly do whatever you hear someone recommend, remember that people react differently to certain foods and what works for one person may not work for another. When I was in high school, I could not eat for at least 4 hours before a basketball game, but I had a team mate who could somehow eat a big meal an hour before the game with no negative affects on his performance.

What is your goal? If you are eating to fuel your body for peak performance, then you will go about it differently than you would if your main goal is just to lose weight. I know some people prefer to work out in the morning on an empty stomach in an effort to burn more fat, but if an endurance athlete were to take this same approach before a race, it could be disastrous for their results.

Pre-work out meals- These usually consist of simple carbohydrates like cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit, etc. A person may be a healthy eater and consume whole grains and high fiber foods on a regular basis, but simple carbs and higher glycemic foods may be a better choice if you are looking for an immediate fuel source just prior to running. They may not be as healthy as whole grains, but they are absorbed into the blood stream faster and are less likely to cause gastro-intestinal problems which is never fun when you are exerting yourself. If you are involved in high endurance activities that will take several hours to complete, then it may be wise to carb load prior to the event since carbs are the primary fuel source for endurance activities. If you are running a marathon you will probably deplete your glycogen stores so you will want to be prepared. Just don't wait to do the carb load until you are at the starting line like Michael Scott.

During exercise- Most people know the importance of pre and post workout meals but it is also important to remember nutrition during an athletic event. For an event that doesn't last very long it's not such a big deal, but if you are doing any sort of endurance event like running a marathon, triathlon, or all day tournament, then nutrition during the even is important.

While you are exercising, the most important thing to consider is hydration. Drink plenty of water and if you are exercising for over an hour and sweating profusely, then a sports drink may be beneficial to help replenish electrolytes. Gels, bars, and fruit might also be helpful and are convenient ways to eat while running or biking. The most important thing is to get familiar with what works for you and what doesn't. You don't want to start experimenting with new foods right before or during an event.

Post workout nutrition is important to help your body to refuel and repair itself after exercising. What and when you eat will depend on how intense and how long your exercise session was. Many body builders recommend eating carbs and protein within half an hour of training for optimal recovery.

Most of us know that it is important to have a healthy diet, but it is also important to know how to best eat  before, during, and after working out. It may take some practice and experimenting to learn what works best for you, but figuring this out can help you optimize your performance.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Personal Training Survey

I am doing some market research about personal training and would love to get some feedback from women in their 30's and 40's. This is a short anonymous 10 question survey through survey monkey. Thanks.

Personal Training Survey

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Motivational Videos

Earlier this month at a goal setting event I shared the following videos that I think are very inspirational. Here are three videos that I have not previously posted that I really like. The first one is a short one from the Canadian Paralympic Commitee. It is inspiring to see what kinds of adversity and setbacks some people have fought through in order to get where they are.

This next video came out during the Summer Olympics and I just don't get tired of watching it. Whoever did the editing for this did an amazing job with the Muse soundtrack and the footage of so many different Olympic events. This video always gets me pumped.

I have always felt that those who end up winning and accomplishing things are simply those who want it the most. This video shows how a burning desire and sacrifice can overcome less than ideal circumstances.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gym Etiquette

This morning while I was at the gym I noticed that it's getting busier as many people have returned with a renewed commitment to get in shape. I thought it would be appropriate to share a couple reminders about gym etiquette that make going to the gym a more pleasant experience for everyone. I'm sure you've all experienced things at the gym that bother you. I know I've seen plenty. Here are some basic gym etiquette guidelines I think more people would do well to follow.

1) Rack your weights when you're done lifting. I hate cleaning up after other people at the gym! I've noticed a correlation between strength and memory loss. The bigger and heavier the dumbbells, the harder it is for them to remember to put them away... or they are just lazy. Why is it always the 110 pound dumbbells they leave lying around? Put your stuff back where it goes.

Please rack those when you're done.
2) Don't drop weights. Let me first make an exception for people doing power lifting or using weights that were meant to be dropped on an appropriate surface. I'm talking about people who think it's cool to drop all their weights (even metal plates.) I once saw a guy THROW his dumbbells with a disgusted angry look as he finished his set. They bounced about 6 feet and nearly hit a girl.

3) Don't hog the exercise equipment. Let people work in with you if they are waiting. This is especially helpful if you are doing 8 set of 25 reps and are going to be on the same equipment for half an hour. On the other side of this issue, some impatient exercisers feel they need to work in even though you only have one last set left.

4) Wipe down any equipment you may have "moistened". Occasionally someone who is drenched after an intense cardio workout will then lift weights and slime the benches. Nobody likes getting other people's bodily fluids on them. This is a photo I took this morning at the gym. Luckily I spotted the sweat/hair gel/mystery substance before I sat down.

5) Keep the noise level down. I understand that grunting is likely to happen with heavy lifts, but I'm talking about the extremes. I once saw a guy curling dumbbells and screaming at the top of his lungs. He was seriously screaming like his leg was being amputated. He got plenty of attention, which I'm sure was his reason for going to the gym, but he irritated everyone else. Also, the music being played at the gym is usually bad enough, so we don't need people sharing their karaoke skills with us while working out.

6) Taking up other's space. This is my biggest frustration. I always find people who decided to do their barbell curls directly in front of the weight racks so nobody can get weights or put them back while they are working out. It's also common to see people doing arm curls in the squatting racks.

7) Extreme clothes. There is a guy I see at the gym who has a purple and red full body spandex outfit. If he had a cape he'd look like a super hero. It's also common to see people wearing immodest clothing (it's especially awkward when a very out of shape person is dressing like they are ready to go on stage for a figure contest). 

Those were just my top 7 peeves, I could have gone on with details about the items listed below.

* excessive posing
* creepy pick up artists who think they are God's gift to women
* walking at a snails pace on the treadmill while watching an hour of TV
* dudes who walk around completely naked in the locker room (usually old guys)
* people spending more time on their phones than they do working out
* people filling up water bottles at the fountain oblivious to the long line behind them
* those who hack up nasty throat debris then spit in the fountain for everyone to see

Sorry for being so critical and picky, but I feel a little bit better now after venting. My hat is off to everyone who has good gym etiquette and makes going to the gym a good experience.