Exercising Outside In The Heat

We’ve recently experienced extreme temperatures in Alexandria, VA. Those high temperatures combined with the humidity made it feel like 110 to 115 degrees outside. That’s just too hot for anything. Exercising outside in the heat requires more caution and some extra care, just as exercising in extreme cold does. While many clients prefer to stay in an air conditioned gym during excessive heat, if you’re going to workout when the temperature’s turned up, you need to follow some precautions.

Plan your exercise for the coolest part of the day.

Get up early, before the sun has time to warm it up too much or start working out later in the day as the sun sets. Whatever you do, don’t try to workout midday. There’s an old satirical song by Noel Coward that starts with, “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun.” While it was a comment on the British not taking a break in tropical areas, it brings a point home. Timing your workout is important.

Adjust your workout to the weather.

Your body already has to work hard to stay cool and working harder than normal. When it’s hot and humid, you simply can’t do what you normally do in cooler, more comfortable weather. Heat and high humidity can wear you out, so rather than running miles, try jogging, walking briskly or alternating to pace yourself. Hot weather is definitely not a place to try a new workout or push yourself to new limits.

Stay hydrated.

Water is your best friend in hot weather. In fact, this should be at the top of everyone’s list, even if they aren’t taking their workout program to the outside. Sip on 8-10 ounces of water throughout every 20 minute session. Stick with water and finish your workout with some juicy fresh fruit to provide the electrolytes necessary. Skip the higher calorie sports drinks if you’re trying to lose weight.

What you wear is also extremely important. Wear light weight clothing that’s light-colored. It should breathe and be loose, which allows the air to circulate, sweat to evaporate and cool you.

If you have a medical condition or taking medication, ALWAYS check with your health care professional first before starting any type of new workout program, especially if the temperatures are extreme.

Hot and humid weather is even worse than hot and dry. Because the sweat doesn’t evaporate, you get even hotter than you would otherwise. Pay close attention to both the humidity and the temperature.

Know the danger signs. Weakness, dizziness, headache, muscle cramps, paling of skin, light-headedness, nausea/vomiting and rapid heart beat tell you that you have a problem. Keep your workout shorter and safer to avoid them.

Want to Learn More?

If you’re ready to take the next step, contact me today here or call me at 540-421-8527.

Make Lunch The Night Before

While there are many healthy restaurant options in Alexandria, VA, there may not be ones near your work. That means you either have to carry your lunch or opt for an unhealthy option. You might consider the second choice, especially if your morning is hectic. However, my suggestion is to make lunch the night before to avoid the hassle in the morning and stick with your program of healthy eating. Most of these can be made on the weekend for the whole week and even stored in the freezer for those super busy weeks.

Mason jar lunches don’t take a lot of effort and can be perfect when you’re on the go.

If you have an air fryer, you’re in for a treat. You can make rotisserie tasting chicken that’s super low in calories. You do need a little oil, seasoning salt and of course, a chicken. It tastes like rotisserie chicken but with fewer calories and the best part is that you can shred in pieces and use it for Mason jar lunches. Use wide mouth jars. Put your favorite dressing on the bottom layer, then to with the layer like tomatoes, peppers, onions, beans, cheese or chicken, making sure that the “wettest” ingredients are the closest to the bottom. Top it off with a layer of greens. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar and pour it in a bowl. Lunch is served!

Wraps can have the ingredients made the night before to assemble when you eat it.

Get everything ready to put in the wrap and take those ingredients in a bowl, with the wrap or pita bread separate. I love chicken salad and I thought only the real mayo type would do, that is until I found out you could make it with Greek yogurt and avocado and it tasted delicious. My recipe varies, since I add a bit of this and that to season it. It uses one small avocado, a half cup Greek yogurt, two cups of shredded or finely chopped chicken and the juice from a small lime for starters. From there I add a bit of garlic powder, chopped red onions, a little salt, pepper and even some onion powder occasionally. It stores well for two to three days in the refrigerator. Fill the wrap when you’re ready to eat.

There’s nothing better than a hearty soup on a cold day.

Sure, it may be hot as ever right now, but that heat doesn’t last forever. It won’t be long before you’ll be looking forward to a warm meal. Soup is always a great go-to that saves money and time. You can use left over veggies before they go bad and make a batch that will provide weeks of lunches. Some of my favorites are stuffed pepper soup, Zuppa Toscana and hearty chicken vegetable soup—which uses some of that air fried rotisserie chicken.

  • You can use leftovers from the night before to create an entirely new lunch. Use chopped pieces of steak or chicken on a bed of spinach, tossing a sliced boiled eggs, some pecans, tomatoes and feta cheese on for a salad that’s delicious, filling and nutritious. Top with a balsamic vinaigrette.
  • If you want to make your wraps even lower in calories, wrap the ingredients in a large lettuce leaf. The Greek yogurt chicken salad is delicious that way.
  • If you’re vegetarian and want something more filling, put some chickpeas in your salad or kidney beans. I also have tried salads with a small amount of sweet potato gnocchi added and it’s delicious.
  • Make all your friends at the office envious by bringing your favorite pasta—vegetable spaghetti! Make it any way you wish the night before for dinner and then top the leftovers with a different sauce for lunch the next day. Just heat and serve.

Don’t Forget Your Water Bottle

Water is the magic elixir for health. In fact, in my family, we call it healthy water, our good luck elixir or our super duper energy boost—even though it’s just plain tap water. Luckily, we have pure well water that’s absolutely delicious. If we didn’t, I’d buy bottled water, because it’s that important to my health and the health of my family. So when you’re working out, don’t forget your water bottle and don’t forget to sip frequently.

Water comes with weight loss benefits.

Besides quenching your thirst, water is a great aid in losing weight. The first reason has to do with thirst. Thirst doesn’t always make you feel thirsty. Some times you’re tricked into feeling hungry, even though you’re simply thirsty. That’s when you go through the refrigerator looking for that special something to please your appetite and it’s usually something like watermelon, Popsicles or sherbet ice cream. The main thing all three have in common is they all contain a lot of water. The next time you feel hungry, grab your water bottle and take a long cool drink. You might find you were only thirsty, not hungry.

Your whole body benefits from adequate hydration.

Consider this, your body is sixty percent water, with the blood being 90 percent, heart and brain 73 percent and lungs about 83 percent water. You can see that dehydration, loss of fluid, can create some problems. Dehydration can cause wrinkling and skin disorders. Since cartilage is about 80 percent water, it can also cause joint disorders. It’s necessary for the production of hormones and neurotransmitters and lack of it for lengthy periods can affect how the brain functions.

Drinking plenty of water flushes out toxins.

Not only does water flush out toxins, it’s a good diuretic. If you’re retaining water, you may think drinking less is the route to go, where in reality, more is often the route. (Green tea also works well.) We call water the energy booster because it does carry oxygen throughout the body, via the blood. It also can end the fatigue caused by dehydration, making the heart work less hard while pumping more oxygen throughout your body. When you’re hydrated, you’re energized. So if you’re in sports, keep a bottle handy. Did I mention it was lucky, too?

  • As you age, the more important it is to focus on drinking water. Signals for thirst become less as people age, medications may be diuretics and incontinence problems may cause less intake of fluid. The results can range from dizziness and difficulty walking to dementia-like symptoms and rapid heart rate.
  • Water helps the boy regulate its temperature via sweating. It also boosts circulation so nutrients get to all cells.
  • Pitch that bottle of cola if you want a thirst quencher. Instead, grab a bottle of water. Cola has plenty of sugar that helps mask the salt, which makes you even thirstier. It also will save tons of calories.
  • Put a stop to kidney stones by drinking more water. It can even help your digestive system by preventing constipation and too highly acidic stomach acid.

Move It Or Lose It

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Move it or lose it”? It can take on many reasons, depending on how it’s used, but at the gym in Alexandria, VA, clients know that it means that if you don’t workout, you’ll lose muscle mass, energy and strength. That’s why they stick with a workout schedule. Staying active is important throughout your life, especially the older you get. That’s when the body loses muscle mass, energy and cardio functioning more quickly. It doesn’t mean you have to have a formal program of working out, but it does mean you have to do activities regularly that improve your flexibility, strength and endurance.

Moving it will help prevent obesity and improve longevity in other ways.

Studies show that those who move more, have improved metabolic and cardiovascular function. Not only does inactivity lead to obesity, the number one cause of preventable death, it actually holds the number four position of preventable deaths. Even if you workout regularly, studies show that people who sit the longest amount each day have an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Sitting for six hours straight can actually wipe out all the benefits from working out regularly.

There are ways to increase the amount of time you are active, even if your job demands otherwise.

It’s pretty hard for a truck driver to take a break every 50 minutes to take a walk or move around, which may be why obesity is so prevalent in that industry. In fact, it’s such a risk, many insurance companies have programs to help drivers get more activity. That program is ten to fifteen minutes of working out briskly when they stop and a mandated rest. Moving briskly when you can is important. So take advantage of those times you can walk faster, climb stair or walk to a destination rather than driving.

A consistent program with strength building can prevent sarcopenia—muscle wasting.

When people reach their mid thirties, losing muscle mass begins, which eventually can lead to losing bone mass—osteoporosis. It doesn’t have to occur if you workout regularly. In fact, it’s never too late to slow, stop or reverse the process, but it is definitely harder the older you get. Studies show that to get the same results as someone younger, a person over 60 has to do strength training more frequently.

  • If you have a sedentary job, get up and move for five minutes every hour. It doesn’t mean you have to do an exercise, just briskly walking across the room helps prevent the damage of prolonged sitting.
  • Getting your blood circulating, which can come from walking briskly, can help improve health. It’s all about an active lifestyle, not just hitting the gym.
  • Find a quick routine you can do when you have a few minutes. There are several four or seven minute workouts you can do during work breaks. One called the four minute nitric oxide boost can be done anywhere.
  • Studies show that walking more frequently not only helps prevent obesity, it can reduce the risk of death for the obese and for smokers.

Hormones, Health And Illness

Not all illness comes from injury or invasion by microbes. Some illness is caused by an imbalance of hormones. Hormones affect more than your sexual characteristics and drive, they play an important role in overall health. They affect your weight, all bodily functions and even how much energy you have. Hormones influence not only how much fat you store but where you store it. A healthy brain depends on the right balance of hormones.

Hormones are messengers.

Hormones are part of the endocrine system and act as catalysts to stimulate chemical reactions in the body. They can make you hungry or affect your mood. The hypothalamus creates hormones that affect the body temperature, cause other glands to secrete hormones and control sleep and sex drive among other functions. Hormones from other glands, like the thymus, parathyroid, pancreas and thyroid control the immune system, the amount of calcium in the body, calorie burning, heart rate, blood sugar levels, sleep and many other functions. If there’s an imbalance of hormones, it can cause a domino effect in the system that means other functions will be compromised.

Insulin is an important hormone.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or stay healthy, insulin affects your body. It plays a role in metabolism and signals the cells to prepare to take in glucose. That helps keep blood glucose levels normal. Consistently over consuming sugar has the effect of high insulin levels being released. That can cause insulin resistance over time. That means the cell receptors don’t intake the sugar and more insulin is produced. It leads to type 2 diabetes, causes weight gain and can create many other physical problems including affecting eyesight and circulation.

Too much stress causes stress hormones to build.

Stress hormones play an important role in survival. They prepare the body to run or fight, in the event of danger. Unfortunately, the stresses of today aren’t solved by running or fighting, so those hormones are not burned off and can cause unhealthy changes in the body. One of the changes is the accumulation of visceral fat—the most unhealthy type of fat that accumulates around the middle. One option to getting hormone levels back to normal is to workout and burn off the hormones. Another is through meditation, which helps prevent the reaction to stress.

  • Some hormones keep you more youthful. HGH—human growth hormone—helps build muscle tissue, but its production slows as you age. It also helps with a multitude of other functions, including weight control. Exercise increases it naturally, so can a healthy diet.
  • Serotonin affects your sleep cycle, memory, weight gain, mood and muscle functions. A low level of serotonin causes insomnia, depression and weight gain.
  • You might consider testosterone as strictly a male sex hormone, but women have it too. It helps boost the creation of muscle tissue and increases the metabolism.
  • An imbalance of estrogen or low production of hormones from the thyroid can cause weight gain. Exercise and diet can help regulate those hormones.

Best Workout For Your Body Type

There are three different body types with different needs. That’s why getting a workout for your body type can be important. One of the many things we take under consideration before creating a workout for clients in Alexandria, VA is their body type. Ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph are the three body types. Each stores its fat differently and builds muscle tissue faster or slower. Ectomorph people are those who are naturally thin, with very low body fat and thin extremeties. Mesomorph people put on muscle fast and have broad shoulders, strong legs and arms with a narrow waist. Endomorphs may have muscle tissue, but it’s often hidden under a layer of fat. They are rounder or pear shaped.

If you’re an ectomorph, you’ll want to build muscle tissue, but it could take a while.

Endurance training is beneficial for everyone, but if you’re trying to build muscle tissue, it’s your undoing. You need to conserve calories, while also building muscle tissue. Use heavier weights to train and rest in between sets. Take it slow. Do five but no more than ten repetitions and between six to eight sets with two minutes between them. Brisk walks and bike riding are great cardio workouts. They don’t burn as many calories, but still make you feel great and enhance your endurance.

If you’re a mesomorph, lucky you.

You build muscle tissue more rapidly than others and tend to have more muscle tissue than fat tissue. If you’ve been out of shape for a while, it won’t take long to get back into shape. Almost any type of exercise will help. Vary your weight training by your fitness level and use basic exercises with as many reps as twelve. HIIT training and circuit training work well for you. Traditional cardio is also in order.

Poor pear-shaped endomorphs have the hardest time of all getting in shape, but it’s worth it.

Use moderate weights and total body workouts to get the best results. Lower or moderate weights with eight to ten repetitions in three to five sets works best for your upper body and up to twenty repetitions for your lower body. Weight loss is often the goal for endomorphs, so strength training is the best way to do it. It builds muscle tissue, while burning fat. Cardio, which is important, shouldn’t be overdone. Cardio burns both fat and muscle tissue, making it even harder to lose weight, since muscle tissue requires more calories. Do mild cardio like biking, swimming and walking three times a week for twenty minutes.

  • You may never be able to change your body type, but you can make it the best it can be. For ectomorphs, building rippling muscles will be hard, but with extra work, can be done.
  • Endomorphs may have a hard time losing weight, but they still build muscles more easily than ectomorphs. To make sure they show, without a layer of fat covering them, a healthy diet is important.
  • If you’re a mesomorph, you’re a natural athlete. You have a high metabolism and build muscle tissue quickly. Train like there’s no tomorrow with high weights and low reps, doing power moves like vertical jumps.
  • While both the mesomorph and ectomorphs are often envied by the slower metabolism endomorphs, it was the endomorphs that were the survivors in caveman times. They build muscle quickly, but it doesn’t show under the layer of fat. That fat helped them to survive.

Light Weights Vs. Heavy Weights For Toning

Some personal trainers feel there’s no difference between light weights vs. heavy weights for toning. Others say there’s a huge difference. What is the general consensus? Most personal trainers tend to agree that if you do as much work by doing more repetitions on lighter weights and fewer reps on much heavier weights, you’ll build muscle tissue and boost your strength. However, it’s not just the amount of muscle tissue you build, but the type of muscle tissue you build.

The amount of weight you use determines the type of muscle you’ll build.

Heavier weights enhances the amount of muscle-growth hormones released and the amount of fat-burning hormones. While light weights help burn off fat and toning muscle, heavier weights help build them. It’s even better when you use explosive movements. While it’s nearly impossible for women to build those bulging muscles men have, since hormones prevent it, you’ll get toned and more defined muscles when you lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions.

It’s the twitch that counts.

Muscles have two fiber types, one is slow-twitch and the other fast-twitch. The amount of exertion in your workout makes the difference in which type of fiber you activate. You need more explosive power for heavy lifting and that is done with fast-twitch fibers. The slow-twitch fibers are activated for muscle endurance, like lifting more repetitions at lower weights. You need both types of muscle tissue, but the amount of each, depends on whether you’ll build bulk or just tone.

If you want to burn more fat to expose those beautiful toned muscles, do fast-twitch workouts.

The heavier your weights, the more body fat you’ll burn, not only during the workout, but for hours afterward. They require more calories to lift because they have a heavier load. These types of workouts access fat stores in the body by boosting the fat-burning hormones. Those hormones continue for as long as eight hours after done. Slow-twitch continue to burn calories, but for only about an hour.

  • If you’re a woman, don’t worry. You won’t change into the hulk, so either type will get you toned fast, but fast-twitch and heavier weights will help burn more calories, too.
  • Lifting heavier weights can help you when you’re doing quicker movements, like jumping or sprinting where more explosive power is necessary. Slow-twitch, from light weights, help with cycling and long distance running.
  • You’ll build more muscle tissue in a shorter period of time with heavier weights, which means you’ll boost your metabolism. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you need for maintenance.
  • When time is short, heavier weights might be your go-to workout. It takes less time, since you don’t do as many repetitions.

Working Out Alleviates Anxiety

Do you have that feeling of impending doom for no reason? Do you fret and stress about things that probably won’t happen? You probably suffer from excessive anxiety and maybe even mild depression. I have clients in Alexandria, VA, who tell me that while they initially started to workout to help them lose weight or become fitter, they found that working out alleviates anxiety, too. It’s a win-win situation and comes from the other benefits of exercise.

Knowing the causes of anxiety can help you understand how exercise helps it.

The body has a primitive response to danger. It’s called the fight or flight response. In order for the body to be prepared to do either, the brain sends out hormones that make changes. It sends more blood to the extremities, slows the flow of blood to organs that aren’t necessary for running or fighting, increases the heart rate, raises the blood pressure and even dilates the pupils. You’re left with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and sometimes trembling and muscle tension. That describes both the changes in the body during the fight or flight response and the change that occur during an anxiety attack.

To make things even worse, the dangers don’t have to be real.

People who suffer from anxiety often have a trigger that stimulates the attack. It can be anything from a smell to a familiar situation. The danger doesn’t have to be real, it can come from some threat real or imagined. In fact, the trigger didn’t have to happen to the person with the attack, it can be a vicariously experienced situation. The brain doesn’t care, it still sends out the hormones. The only way to reverse the hormones of stress and replace them with ones that make you feel good is to run, fight or simulate running and fighting with vigorous exercise.

If you’re a pacer, you know that moving around makes you feel better.

For me, there’s nothing worse than having to sit still when I’m in pain or worrying. I’m a pacer that feels better when I move. I think it’s because pacing mimics exercise, even though it’s not as physically demanding. It helps keep the blood circulating and aids in burning off stress hormones. While it’s not as good as a tough workout, it’s far more appropriate in most stressful situations. When you’re stressed, there are some things you can do that may help relieve the anxiety. A brisk walk, running up and down stairs or doing any brisk activity that will make you breathe harder and maybe even sweat a bit.

  • Some therapists combine exercise with therapy for those clinically depressed or anxious. It’s an accepted complementary form of therapy. You can do it on your own by starting a program of exercise and track your episodes of anxiety before and after you started.
  • Focused breathing and meditation are also helpful for anxiety. They’re a viable alternative for times that exercise is totally out of the question.
  • If you have serious anxiety or depression issues, always seek out professional help first and use exercise and healthy eating as a complement to it.
  • Working out helps decrease anxiety in another way. It puts your focus more on the exercise rather than the problem that caused the anxiety.

Exercise Improves Body Image

Finding someone that loves everything about their body is tough. Even if they feel that way, people are often reluctant to say it, for fear the other person will help them out with pointers about their shortcomings. While hating your body is counterproductive, that doesn’t mean you can’t change how you look and in the process, change how you feel about yourself. Exercise improves body image and helps boost your self-confidence.

You are not your body, but that doesn’t mean loving your body isn’t important.

If you have a special piece of clothing you love, you take care of it by removing stains quickly, keeping it clean and storing it in a safe place. If it’s a piece of clothing you hate, but still wear, that care is far less likely. The same is true for caring for your body. When you love it, you’ll take better care of it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the perfect weight or grossly over or underweight, it’s the only body you’ll ever have so you need to treat it right so it serves you for years to come. That means giving it the proper nutrition and plenty of healthy exercise.

Your body is a beautiful machine.

When you think about all the things the body does, it’s simply amazing. It replicates cells, heals itself, gets you from place to place and does hundreds of chemical reactions. It can’t do those things without the proper fuel and fluids. Healthy eating provides those things. It’s like making sure you have the right fuel in your vehicle. Think about this. What happens when you put sugar in a gas tank? The car won’t run properly if at all. While the body can tolerate sugar better, it still takes its toll. Getting the right fuel is the start on taking care of your body. Regular exercise and other lifestyle changes add to that.

You’ll burn off stress when you exercise and make your body healthier and more attractive.

Looking healthy is the new beautiful. Not only will you start looking better when you workout regularly, you’ll burn off the hormones of stress. Both of those help you improve your body image. Stress can make you unsatisfied with many areas of your life, including the body. Exercise and healthy eating can make dramatic changes to the body that will make you feel better and more confident about yourself.

  • Never compare yourself to others. It’s one of the reasons people often have negative body images. You’ll never look like many of the people who grace the covers of magazines, because you can’t airbrush a body in real life. You are who you are and that’s beautiful.
  • Studies show that people who start a workout program improve their body image, even before they see changes. It’s the attitude of taking charge that may be what makes the difference.
  • Consider what feeling self-conscious about your body image says. It means you feel like you’re the center of attention, the most important person in the room. You may not have considered that. One way to change that self-consciousness is to focus on making others comfortable and at ease.
  • Every time you workout, remind yourself while you’re exercising how great you look and how much the workout helps. You can even create a bit of a mantra to do it.