Fitness & Wellness

Don't Forget Your Water Bottle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

A Low Carb Diet For Beginners

A Low Carb Diet For Beginners

I always recommend a healthy diet that is filled with natural whole foods. It’s just easier to cut out processed foods and sugar laden food and drink without the need to count carbs or calories. However, I do provide information on a low carb diet for beginners, for those that want to investigate whether they get better results. You’ll find that it isn’t that much different from eating a whole food diet without processed and sugary foods.

There are a lot of health benefits from a low carb diet.

If you have problems with bad cholesterol, a low carb diet can help. It not only lowers the LDL levels, it boosts the HDL levels, the good cholesterol. It improves triglycerides and also aids in stabilizing blood sugar. Diets that are lower in carbs are higher than traditional diets in proteins and healthy fat. That can mean improved protein and fat intake. Both make you feel fuller longer and increased protein can even boost your metabolism.

Let’s talk more about boosting your protein and healthy fat.

The percentages will vary based on your body, but traditionally a low carb diet contains 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fats. Most Americans eat a diet where the calories come from 50 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent protein, and 35 percent fat. The fat in the American diet isn’t normally healthy fat, either. Low carb diets force your body to get calories for food from body fat. It also helps reduce the risk for insulin resistance—the precursor of type 2 diabetes—by lowering insulin levels.

There’s a lot of hub bub about special KETO foods, but eating healthier is the key.

Strict low carb diets put you in a state of ketosis. When you’re in ketosis, your body burns fat as its source of food. You don’t have to get that severe. In fact, there are drawbacks to this type of diet, since a low carb ketogenic diet can cause heart palpitations, lethargy, headache, constipation and irritability. Just cutting out some of the foods you normally eat, like anything with sugar added, even artificial sweeteners, processed food, vegetable oils and soft drinks not only is an effective way to lose weight, it’s far easier on your body and can be maintained for a lifetime.

  • One of the big difference between healthy eating consuming a low carb diet is the elimination of pasta and bread on a low carb diet.
  • When you increase protein in your diet, get animal protein from free range animals and grass fed beef. The meat and animal products contain far more omega fatty acids and two times more CLA—conjugated linoleic acid. Those help lower body fat and boost heart health.
  • Even if vegetables and fruit are filled with carbs, they’re a healthy type of carb called complex carbohydrates. These take longer to get into your bloodstream, so your blood sugar level doesn’t spike.
  • When you eat a low carbohydrate diet, make sure your plate is a rainbow of colors from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It makes certain that you get all the nutrients that you need.

Does Exercise Help You Lose Fat?

Does Exercise Help You Lose Fat?

If you’re a client in Alexandria, you’re already aware of the benefits of exercise, which includes helping you to lose fat. Unfortunately, exercise alone won’t make the biggest difference. You need to eat healthy, too. In order to shed one pound, you need to eat 3500 calories less than you burn. Exercise increases the amount of calories you burn and provides other benefits, but for the best results, changing your eating habits is necessary.

Besides burning calories, exercise also helps balance your hormones.

An imbalance of hormones can make you gain weight. If you have an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone, you’ll gain weight easier and it will pack on around your hips. Too much cortisol—the stress hormone—puts fat on your abdomen. Weight gain over your entire body indicates low thyroid. Luckily, exercise can help regulate all those problems and get your hormones back into balance. It also can trigger the creation of hormones that make you feel good, and when you feel good, you look good.

Build muscle and boost your metabolism.

The right type of workout can burn fat and build muscle tissue. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn even when you sleep. That’s because muscle tissue requires more calories than fat tissue does. Aerobic exercises, such as running, won’t do it. That’s because when you run, you’ll burn calories from all sources, lean muscle tissue and fat. Strength-building exercises builds muscle tissue while burning huge amounts of calories, even after the exercise ends!

You’ll look thinner, even if you don’t lose one single pound, when you workout.

As noted before, exercise builds muscle tissue, burns calories and makes it easier to keep weight from returning. It also makes you look thinner even if you don’t lose a single pound. That’s because muscle tissue weighs more per cubic inch than fat tissue does. One pound of muscle tissue would fit into a much smaller container than one pound of fat tissue. The same holds true for your body. If you weigh 130 pounds and you have a high percentage of muscle tissue, you’ll wear a smaller clothing size than someone who has a higher percentage of fat tissue.

  • You can lose weight easier when you combine exercise with a healthy diet. Just cutting out processed food and sugary products—including soft drinks—will give you a great start on the road to weight loss.
  • HIIT—high intensity interval training—that varies the intensity of an exercise from pushing yourself as hard as possible to moderate recovery and back—can get the best results, particularly when combined with strength training.
  • Two hormones that affect how much you eat are ghrelin and leptin. They’re the hunger and satiety hormones. Exercise and reducing sugar helps regulate them and gets you back on the road to weight loss.
  • When you workout, you’ll boost your energy after just a few weeks. That extra energy means you’ll be more active and that burns more calories, too.

Improve Balance And Coordination

Improve Balance And Coordination

Almost all types of complete workouts improve balance and coordination. There are some created specifically to do that, though. In Alexandria, VA, I create workouts for clients that improve all levels of fitness, strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. There’s no need to add additional balance exercises unless there are extenuating circumstances. Here are some of the exercises I use to improve balance and coordination.

Test your balance.

While you might feel quite planted just standing with feet shoulder width apart or side by side, take it one step further. Rather than walking toe to heel, the most common technique to test of inebriation and lack of balance, just stand still! That’s right. Start with feet together, standing straight, then move one of your feet in front of the other with the heel touching the front of the other foot’s toe. Hold that position for a count of 30. If you’re still finding it easy, now close your eyes. Almost everyone who doesn’t workout and even some who do wobbles when they do this one, so don’t worry if you do.

Improve your sense of self when you workout.

Your sense of physical self is your proprioception. It’s what lets you move freely and do things without having to check if your arms and legs are in the right place. Muscles, joints and tendons send the signals to your brain from everywhere in your body. Building that awareness can help you improve coordination and even balance. Try closing your eyes and focusing on muscle movement when you exercise. Focus on the movements your body makes. Being more aware of how your body moves helps build coordination and sense of self.

Balance exercises can be simple or more complex.

Standing on one foot with the other knee raised to a 90 degree angle and holding for 30 seconds and then putting it down and doing the same lifting the opposite knee. Now try it with your eyes closed. For more challenge and exercise for your body, try a one-legged squat. Start with fee hip-width apart, point one foot out in front and lower yourself into squat position, balancing on only one foot. Hold and rise. It’s tough!

  • Tighten your abs and your glutes with this one. Bend over and pick up a five to ten pound weight. Wait, there’s more. Do it on one leg, lifting the other behind you to maintain balance and then return to starting position.
  • Exercising on a balance ball is definitely good for your balance and your core muscles. That’s why they’re called balance balls.
  • Include strength training in your workout. It helps improve body awareness and your balance. Core muscle workouts are also good for balance. Kettlebell workouts help all types of fitness, including coordination and balance.
  • There’s been more and more use of exercise to help people with MS improve their balance. Often, it starts with simple flexibility exercises like stretching. It shows how all types of fitness work together to make you healthier, more coordinated and balanced.