If you are reading this, then you understand how important exercise is to your health and well-being. Exercise is truly Medicine whose side effects are positive. When we exercise we have more energy, feel better and help prevent many lifestyle diseases. Exercise also helps lessen the effects of many chronic conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and even depression.
Exercise and physical activity reduces the risk of Coronary artery disease, hypertension and stroke, diabetes, obesity, back problems, and even some types of cancer. Exercise is an important factor in both losing and maintaining weight loss. People who exercise tend to live longer and have a better quality of life. Regular exercise extends the years that we can remain active participants in life and reduces the period of sickness that many older persons experience before death.
Starting an exercise program can be intimidating, especially if you have not done any significant exercise since your last high school gym class. Infomercials promoting the latest fitness craze often resemble a marine boot camp or feature exercise equipment that could have been designed by the Marquis De Sade. Health club commercials only show young body beautiful people in form fitting spandex. The massage we receive is that we have to get in shape before joining a health club. No wonder people have anxiety about beginning an exercise program.
The internet is full of get fit quick schemes which promise quick weight loss like "Lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks," or "6 days to 6-pack abs." Most of these are just ways to prey on your fears, set unrealistic expectations and sell memberships. The truth is that it takes time,effort and energy to get in shape.
Here is the good news. Living a fit lifestyle does not have to be intimidating. As a matter of fact, your chances of success increase if you start slowly and gradually increase the amount of exercise you do over time. The goal is to develop a habit of consistent exercise, not to try out for the Olympics!
Did you know that just by getting up off the couch and starting a moderate exercise program, you can decrease your risk of death from all causes by about 29%? You do not need to run marathons or do thousand of pushups to improve your health. Over time, you may find that you enjoy exercise and want to increase your fitness level even more. But even if you just stay at the moderate level of exercise, you will feel better and improve the quality of your life.
In this report I am going to tell you what you should do before starting to exercise and give you ten simple ways to start an exercise program. You will also learn how much exercise you will need to do to see improvement.
First, let’s see if it is safe for you to start an exercise program. If you plan to start a moderate exercise program and do not have any existing health conditions like known heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes you can start to exercise without seeing a physician. If you plan to start a vigorous exercise program and are a man who is over 40 or a woman who is over 50 years old, see your physician before starting your exercise program. If you have not been to your physician for awhile and have not had a recent physical, I recommend that you see your physician before starting your exercise program.
How do you know whether to see a doctor before starting an exercise program? Every book or video about starting an exercise program recommends that you should see a doctor before starting. Is exercise really that unsafe that everyone needs an exam by a physician to determine if they can exercise without harm?
The true answer is “No”. For most people, starting an exercise program is very safe and in fact outweighs the risk of not starting an exercise program. A lifestyle without exercise puts us at increased risk for many chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine estimate that lack of regular, moderate physical activity is responsible for the loss of as many as 25,000 lives a year.
Unless you have experienced a major cardiovascular event like a heart attack, stroke or heart surgery, or have known cardiovascular disease, you do not need to see your physician before starting a moderate physical activity program.
The key word here is moderate. This is exactly the type of program that most fitness professionals, including myself, recommend if you are new to exercise or have not exercised in the recent past. There are many good reasons to start with a moderate program of physical activity and progress to more intense exercise as your fitness level increases. A moderate program is easier to follow and will provide the same health benefits of a more intense program. Injury rates are lower with moderate levels of activity and the chances of long term success are better.
However, according to a 1995 article by Russell Pate and Stephen Blair in the Journal of the American Medical Association, if you decide to start a vigorous exercise program and meet any of the following criteria, then you should definitely see your physician for a medical evaluation before starting an exercise program.
• Use tobacco
•Have some form of cardiovascular disease
•Have two or more of the following cardiovascular risk factors
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
A family history of heart disease
• A male older than 40 years of age
• A female older than 50 years of age
• Answer “yes” to any of the questions listed in the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q)
The bottom line is that it is safer to start with a moderate activity program and progress to a more intense program as your body adapts to exercise. See a physician if you have known cardiovascular disease or have experienced a stroke, heart attack, heart surgery or plan to start a vigorous exercise program and have answered yes to one of the questions on the PAR-Q.
The next step is to answer the questions from the PAR-Q screening tool. The PAR-Q or Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire is a list of seven questions that helps determine if you can start an exercise program on your own or if you will need to check in with your physician before you start an exercise program. The PAR-Q is only a screening tool. If you would like a more definitive answer about how safe it is for you to start an exercise program, see your physician first.
A more complete assessment from a personal trainer or fitness center will include tests for mobility, strength, flexibility and balance.
If you answered yes to any of the questions on the PAR-Q, see your physician first before starting your exercise program. Ask your physician if it is safe for you to start an exercise program. Your physician should tell you the type of exercise that you can do and how much exercise is safe. He may recommend that you not exceed a certain heart rate. Even if you are given some restrictions for your exercise program, you can feel good that through exercise most of these conditions will improve.
Think of your exercise program as a puzzle that you put together over time. Each piece is important for the completion on the whole picture. The puzzle is your personal picture of health and wellness. The frame is our foundation for health and fitness and adds structure to our puzzle. By establishing a good frame, we can create a more fit and healthy core of puzzle pieces on our journey to a better you.
Now that you have determined if it is safe to start a moderate exercise program, we will lo
ok at ten simple ways to get started.
Starting an exercise program can be as simple as walking to the corner of your street. You can use some or all of the ten tips below to get you started on your fitness program. Just by taking action, you will have improved the quality of your life. You will feel better, have more energy and be on your way to better health. Here are your ten tips on how to ease your way into exercise.
Take a walk
Walking is one of the best and simplest forms of exercise we can do. Walking is simple, does not take any special equipment and we can walk anytime and anyplace. You can start by walking in your neighborhood. You can walk for time or for distance. I recommend that you start to walk for time first. The distance does not matter as much in the beginning of an exercise program. The goal is to move on a consistent basis. Start with a time where you do not feel exhausted when you finish. If you can only walk for a minute or two before you get tired, that’s ok. You can take smaller walks several times a day and still get the benefits of an exercise program. Gradually increase the time that you walk. Walk every other day until your conditioning level builds. For basic health benefits, increase the time that you are walking until you can walking for 30 minutes at a brisk pace on most days of the week.
I love to walk and include walking in my regular exercise program. I have several routes in my neighborhood that I walk. The routes range from one to five miles in length. When I want to take a longer walk, I visit one of the local, county or state parks and walk one of the trails available.
2. Workout with a buddy
Exercise is more enjoyable when we workout with a partner. Find a friend who is also interested in starting an exercise program.
Most people need a system of social support to attain and maintain their exercise program, especially when starting a fitness program. You can increase your chance of becoming a lifelong exerciser, by having a support system in place.
Even if you have the best intentions to maintain an exercise program, life will interfere at some point and throw you off track. You may become ill or have to take care of a sick child or parent. Work commitments, weather, vacations and holidays may throw your workout schedule off. A good support system will help you restart your program after an unexpected layoff or missed workout.
Support comes in different forms. We each need something different to help us maintain our fitness routine. We may need emotional support, someone to listen to our exercise issues without judgment. We may need someone to praise us for our efforts and when we make progress toward our fitness goals. At times we might need someone who will challenge us when we lapse and to help us achieve higher levels of fitness. People who can give us expert advice and act as role models can also serve as support for us.
Look for people who fit your specific needs when you are setting up your support system. Your support system may include a workout partner, a support person at home, health club staff, friends or family.
A workout buddy can help you stay accountable to your program. Scheduling your workout with another person can help provide that extra motivation when you are not in the mood to exercise. We are more likely to show up for an exercise session when someone is depending on us. Exercise is also more enjoyable with a friend. A friend can help you take your mind off exercise. Exercise can be fun, social and productive at the same time.
3. Set a goal
Starting a trip without a destination in mind will get you somewhere, but it will probably not be the place you intended to go to. Even if you are in it for the pure sake of the journey, having a roadmap can make the journey more enjoyable and rewarding.
Setting a goal gives direction and purpose to our fitness program. Goals should be specific, able to be measured, realistic and time oriented. Goals fall into two categories, long term and short term goals. Long term goals are the end results that we want to achieve. Some examples of long term goals are to run a 5K race in August. Short term goals support the long term goal. Short term goals are the steps we take to achieve our long term goal. Think of short term goals as steps on a ladder. Each step that you take brings you closer to the top of the ladder, your long term goal.
In our example of running a 5K race, the short term goals might include running three days a week, weight training to improve the strength in your legs and upper body, analyzing your running form, getting eight hours of sleep a night, strengthening your core so your back stays in an upright position when you run, following a planned program of increasing the distance you run, and obtaining a certain volume and intensity of your training program.
Remember, your goal must be realistic. If you are only able to run the length of a block, running a 5K race in a month may not be realistic. Shoot for a goal that is achievable like running one mile without walking in 30 days.
Planning for obstacles or challenges that you may encounter while trying to reach your goals will increase your chances of success. Use if/then planning to deal with the inevitable challenges that will pop up. For example; If it rains o snows when I am supposed to do my daily run, then I will go to the gym and run on the treadmill or I will run up and down the stairs in my home.
Health or Fitness? (What are your goals?) The spectrum of fitness is as wide as the ocean and ranges from basic health to elite sports performance. The person who walks 30 minutes a day on most days of the week is considered fit, just as Michael Phelps, who trains at high intensity levels for hours each day and who was able to win gold medals and set world records in more swimming events than anyone else in history. The 30-minute walker has improved their basic health and decreased their risk of death. Michael Phelps has achieved his performance goal of being the best swimmer in history.
Examples of goals
Weight Loss – I will reduce my weight by 10 pounds over the next 5 weeks.
Strength – I will be able to squat my bodyweight ten times with good form in the next 30 days.
Volume – I will exercise three times a week for 30 minutes for the next 4 weeks.
Flexibility – I will be able to perform a squat with my feet flat on the ground and be able to touch the floor with my hands without rounding my back by the end of the month.
Mobility – I will be able to perform a standing lunge without assistance in the next three weeks.
4. Write it down
Keep a journal to monitor your progress. Use a online training log, or make your own hand written notes or an excel spreadsheet. Each has advantages. On-line logs are ready made and set up for easy use. The drawback of an online training log is that the setup may not mesh with what you want to track. Many journals are set up so you can only enter three sets per exercise. If your training calls for more sets per exercise, the log may not be setup to accommodate you.
A handmade training journal offers more flexibility but may make comparisons harder. A daily calendar journal bought from an office supply store makes a great journal. Recording your exercises in itself will provide a boost to your training. The act of writing down your sets and reps will bring an increased awareness to how you are training. Online journals are an excellent way to track your workouts and progress.
In your journal record your exercises, sets, reps, and weights. In addition, rest periods, volume, soreness factor, nutrition and supplements may also be recorded.
5. Join a Health Club
Most towns and cities have a wide variety of health clubs where you can accomplish your fitness and health related goals. If you have never belonged to a health club, the experience of joining can be very intimidating. People often have the perception that health clubs are for those that are already in shape. I often hear people say that they want to join a club, but want to lose a few pounds or get in shape first. Health club members today come in all shapes, sizes, ages and level of fitness. The Health Club is there to help you with your fitness program. The Health Club market today is more specialized than even ten years ago. Each club caters to a different group of people with different goals and needs. There are clubs for young people, family clubs, 24 hour clubs, clubs for bodybuilders and hard core weightlifters, clubs for older adults and personal training studios.
Health clubs today range from low cost, no frills gyms to high end multipurpose health clubs where you can workout, enjoy a healthy lunch and relax with a spa experience. Choosing a Health club that meets your needs can be as confusing as choosing a stock that will make money.
So, how do you find the right health club for you? Here are some tips to help you find the best club for you. Start with the three C’s – Convenience, Cleanliness, Customer Service
Convenience – Believe it or not, this is probably the most critical factor in determining if you will use a club. Health Club operators understand that most people will only drive 10-15 minutes on a regular basis to use a health club. The further you live or work from a Health Club, the more likely you are to not use the club and eventually quit. Look for a club that is near to where you live or work.
Cleanliness – A clean club shows that the staff cares about the club and the members who use the club. A dirty gym is a haven for germs that can make you sick. Cleanliness means that not only the locker rooms, walls and floors are clean but the exercise equipment is clean and in working condition. Many health clubs have anti-bacterial wipes available for members to wipe down equipment after each use. Spray bottles and paper towels are not as effective, but are better than having nothing.
Customer Service – One of my pet peeves is Health Clubs where the staff does not help members. Look for front desk staff that are pleasant and greet members by name. The fitness staff should be walking the exercise area and helping members learn to use the equipment properly and help them with their exercise programs. Look for clubs where the staff is friendly and interacts with the members. Avoid a club where the fitness staff spends their time leaning against a wall or counter or hang out with each other.
Try before you buy - Ask for a complementary workout – most clubs allow you to experience the club before you join. The best trials allow you to workout several times in a week to see if the club fits. Some clubs offer a free trial, after you complete all the paperwork for membership. A membership may automatically start after the completion of the trial. If this is the case, make sure you cancel the membership before the end of the trial period if you decide not to join the health club. Trial memberships or workouts are for first time users only and should be used only if you are truly interested in joining a club.
Avoid Clubs with high pressure sales staff – The sales process for a health club should be based on your needs as a potential member. Sales staff should at a minimum have you complete a Par-Q, which is a physical activity readiness questionnaire. The questionnaire is the standard used by health clubs to determine if it is safe for a person to exercise. The staff should also ask you about your goals for exercise. At the minimum clubs will offer orientation programs to the exercise equipment and a free training session for new exercisers. The best clubs will provide a series of assessments and design a program to meet your needs and goals.
If the sales staff uses tactics like, “this offer is only good for today”, or offers a special deal just for you, or tries to shame or badger you into a membership, you can bet that the club is more interested in the initial sale and the service level will be non-existent.
Check the qualifications of the staff – Most of the staff at better health clubs will have special certifications. The fitness staff should have a minimum of a certification from a reputable organization like the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association or The National Academy of Sports Medicine. Fitness staff may also have obtained degrees in exercise science, exercise physiology, athletic training or kinesiology. Some staff may have specialty certifications in group fitness, yoga, pilates, senior fitness, wellness or life coaching. Look for a club that has qualified staff to meet your particular needs.
Safety – How safe is the fitness center? Is the staff certified in CPR? Is there an AED, (Automatic Electronic Defibrillator) available and accessible in the club? Are the staff trained to use the AED? Does the club run drills to make sure the staff can handle emergency situations? Although the risk of a life threatening event is low, emergency situations do happen and health club staff should be prepared to handle these events. Look for written emergency procedures near phones throughout the Health Club.
How crowded is the club? – Use your trial membership during the days and hours that you would be normally using the club. Typically, health clubs are more crowded in the evenings and at the beginning of the week. Weekends may also be busy, especially in family oriented clubs. January and February are the most crowded months in most clubs due to an influx of new members who have made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape.
Does the Club offer programs for new members? – Good health clubs are sincerely interested in the success of their members. More people quit the club during the first six months of a membership than at any other time. Establishing the habit of exercise is harder than you may realize. Health clubs that want to retain their members will offer programs and activities to help new members establish the habit of exercise and experience success in their workouts. Look for a club that cares about you and not just about the sale.
Parking – Does the club have enough parking spaces? Is the parking close to the entrance of the club? Do I have to pay to park? Are there enough handicap spaces available? Parking can be one of those small irritants that can lead to dissatisfaction with your health club. Covered parking lots are greatly appreciated during inclement or cold weather. Make sure that the parking space fits your personal needs.
Health Club memberships range from a low of $10 per month to over $100 per month. Why is there such a variation? Aren’t all health clubs the same? The answer is a definite “no”. The difference in price is basically due to two factors, amenities and service level.
The most basic clubs like Planet Fitness and Snap Fitness offer mostly cardiovascular equipment and some resistance equipment. The service level is minimal and the clubs are often are staffed by one employee. Prices range from $10 to $20 dollars per month.
The next level of clubs are priced in the $20-$40 dollar per month range. These clubs are often big chains like LA Fitness or small “mom and pop” clubs located in strip malls or warehouse type areas. The LA Fitness type clubs offer good equipment and may include other amenities such as a pool or basketball court depending on location. The “mom and pop” clubs are often clubs for the “hard-core” lifter. Some amenities like basic locker rooms and group fitness classes are often available at these clubs.
The next level of Health Clubs are larger clubs with a few thousand members are either chains or privately owned. These clubs offer a wide variety of programs and classes as well as extra paid services like personal training. These clubs will often have a pro shop and snack area. Prices range from $40 to $60 per month.
High end clubs offer the most variety of programs and services and equipment. These clubs will have towels available to their members for use in the locker room and as sweat towels to use while they exercise. High end clubs offer restaurant and spa services and often have one or more pools available for member use. Basketball, squash and racquetball courts are often available. Indoor or outdoor tennis may also be included. These clubs offer high value and service for the fees they charge which will range from about $80 to well over $100 per month.
Personal training studios and small boutique clubs offer one-to-one personal training and small group personal training and specialized programs like bootcamps, (high intensity interval training), yoga, kettlebell training or Crossfit are also available. Many have limited hours and may cost as much as a mid-range or high end fitness center. These studios often achieve the best results with their clients because of the personalized attention to each member.
6. Take a class
A great way to start an exercise program is to take a class. Today, there are a greater variety of exercise classes available than ever before. You can find traditional aerobic or step classes, mind/body classes like yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates, classes for strength training, and specialty classes like Kettlebell, ballroom dance, Zumba, cycling, martial arts or even pole dancing.
Exercise classes are structured to give you a complete workout in an enjoyable format. Classes are a great way to meet people with the same fitness goals as you. If you decide to take an exercise class, understand that you do not have to keep up with the rest of the group. You may feel like a fish out of water at first. Do the parts of the class that you can. Take a break if you need one.
Introduce yourself to the instructor before the class begins. Let the instructor know that you are new to exercise. Good instructors will be able to teach to beginner, intermediate and advanced exercise levels in the same class.
7. Go to a park or playground
Parks and playgrounds offer many fun ways to start an exercise program. You can walk or ride a bike at many of our local county and state parks. Many parks have paved or dirt trails. Dirt trails are often marked with painted marks or “blazes” on trees. Each blazed trail is a different length. Follow the colored blazes on the trees to complete a trail.
Neighborhood playgrounds are great substitutes for health clubs. Did you know that you can get a full body workout while having a lot of fun at the local playground? Playground equipment can be used for pushups, pull-ups lunges step-ups and even abdominal and core exercises. The playground is a great place for family fun and fitness.
8. Buy an Exercise Video or DVD Exercise videos can be found online, in bookstores, on infomercials on television and even in the local supermarket. The benefit of using an exercise video is that you can watch it anytime you want at home. The drawback of most exercise videos is that the workout is always the same. After a period of time your body adapts to an exercise program and improvement ceases. This works if you are just trying to maintain your fitness level. To improve you need to change the exercise you do.
You will want to purchase several DVD’s over time or subscribe to a service with many online classes, so you have a variety of exercise routines to follow and continue to make progress. Check the qualifications of the video star. Many celebrities cash in on their star status through fitness videos but do not have a clue about designing a safe and effective exercise program.
Another word of caution, be careful about following Fitness videos on YouTube and other social media platforms. Although there are many reputable online trainers, it may be hard to distinguish someone who knows his or her craft from someone who is giving useless and unsafe information.
9. Hire a personal trainer
A good personal trainer will teach you how to exercise properly, motivate you and provide encouragement and hold you accountable with your exercise program. Personal trainers help reduce the time it takes to go from fat to fit by providing safe, efficient exercise routines.
Look for a personal trainer who has a reputable certification, experience and one who fits your personality. Personal trainers can be found at health clubs and personal training studios. Some personal trainers will also provide services in your home.
Personal training options include one-on-one training, couples training and group training. One-on-one training provides the greatest level of personalization of your program, but costs more than other options. Although there is less individualization with couples and group training, sessions cost less. Group training has the added benefit of support from the other members of the group.
10. Play a sport or game
Sports and games can be a great way to get fit and stay in shape. Soccer, basketball, tennis, and swimming are examples of sports that can provide a lifetime of fitness for both the competitive and recreational athlete. Playing games like Frisbee or tossing a football are great ways to add exercise into your routine.
Well, there it is. Your now have ten tips on how to ease into an exercise program. As a special bonus for reading through this whole report, I am going to tell you ten ways to get a good workout at home.
For more free fitness tips and information go to www.Strengthforlife.us
Ten ways to have a good home workout
Many people have exercise equipment available at their home. Even if you do not have any exercise equipment, there are many ways to have a good workout at home. Here are ten ways.
Fats are one of the most confusing areas of nutrition to most people. For years we have been told to avoid and limit the amount of fats that we take in on a daily basis. In recent years, we have learned that some fats are good and even necessary for our health.
A study conducted in the 1960’s revealed that people in Mediterranean countries experience lower rates of heart disease despite consuming high levels of fats in their diets. The type of fats that they consumed was mostly monounsaturated fats from olive oil.
Dietary fats help protect against heart disease, lowers your bad cholesterol, (LDL), and triglyceride levels, provides essential fats that your body cannot produce itself and even reduces risk of death from all causes.
Eating the right kind of fats help to reduce inflammation in the body, helps us to feel full after eating and provide many important vitamins and minerals.
Fats come in many forms but the healthiest fats contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with omega-3 fatty acids. Limit the amount of saturated fats in your diet and fats that contain omega-6 fatty acids.
Evidence shows that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce blood pressure, raise HDL, (good cholesterol), lower triglycerides and may even help prevent heart disease and strokes.
Omega-6 fatty acids are also important to health and can even help protect against heart disease. Vegetable oils like safflower, soy, sunflower, corn and walnut oil are rich in omega-6 fatty acids
The problem with omega-6 fatty acids is the amount that is consumed in the typical American diet. The ration of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids on our diet should be somewhere between 1-1 and 1-4 as recommended by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S. in his book, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.”
A good way to increase your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is to include fatty fishes such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel and sardines in your diet twice a week. Walnuts, flaxseed and eggs from chickens that are fed grains high in omega-3 fatty acids are also good sources.
Nuts, Olive Oil, Avocado, un-hydrogenated soybean oil and Peanut Butter are good sources on monounsaturated fats.
To reduce the amount of omega-6 fatty acids that you consume, limit the sources of saturated fat such as pizza, burgers, processed foods and snacks, sweets and fatty meats.
Be careful of the total amount of fat from calories in your diet. The 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you ingest less than 10 percent of your total daily calories from saturated fat. All fats are high in calories so be careful how many fat calories you take each day.
Stick with fats from vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. Healthy fats are liquid at room temperature.
Another type of fat to avoid is trans fats. Trans fats or hydrogenated vegetable oils are found in crackers, cookies, baked goods like cakes and pies, French fries and many snack foods. Always read food labels to see if there are any trans fats.
Here is a list of some foods that contain healthy fats:
Flax and Chia Seeds
Grass fed Beef
Heavy Cream and Milk
Macadamia Nut Oil
Red Palm Oil
Eat This, Not That!
Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Bottom of Form
The Mayo Clinic Diet The Facts on Fats
The American Heart Association.
The 150 healthiest Foods on Earth; Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.
“But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them.”
Spices have been in great demand for centuries. The spices of India were so valued that Christopher Columbus set out to find a shorter way to travel to India to obtain their fragrant spices for Europeans. Instead, he found the spices of America. Chili pepper, cayenne and allspice are a few of the spices Columbus tasted for the first time in the New World.
Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs
Spices and herbs come from plants flowers, seeds, bark, leaves, roots and even flowers. Spices and herbs are used to flavor foods. In addition, they contain many health benefits including protection against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Many are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, both of which provide health benefits. Herbs and spices help preserve foods and have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Using spices and herbs adds flavor to foods and can help to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and fat consumed while increasing flavor in foods.
Using spices can even help with weight loss. Consuming spicy foods like hot peppers can aid in decreasing appetite. Capsaicin, a main ingredient in hot peppers can stimulate brown fat and increase metabolism, which means you will burn more calories. Capsaicin also causes blood vessels to dilate which may help lower blood pressure and may even help prevent blood clots and prevent bad cholesterol from building up.
Another spice turmeric, contains curcumin, a compound that helps reduce and prevent the growth of cancer cells. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help to lower bad cholesterol and reverse damage to blood vessels. Turmeric is often found in Indian foods.
For antioxidant value, you can’t beat Cinnamon. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve capillary function and lower blood sugar and blood triglycerides, alleviate nausea and to increase sensitivity to insulin and aid in fat burning. The antimicrobial properties of Cinnamon can help extend the life of foods. Cinnamon works as a great addition to savory foods and in curry powders.
Basil has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, can help prevent osteoarthritis and helps with digestive disorders. Use Basil in soups, on grilled vegetables, on meat or directly in salads.
Turmeric is often found in Indian recipes and contains the cancer-fighting compound Curcumin. Turmeric is used to alleviate arthritis and reduce inflammation. Turmeric is also believed to have an anti-tumor effect. Turmeric can be added to many dishes including rice, baked foods, soups, meats and even eggs.
Garlic is commonly found in most kitchens and has many health benefits. Garlic comes in cloves, powder or minced form and provides added flavor to many dishes. Using garlic can help fight the common cold and recent research shows that garlic may help in weight control. Garlic can help reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clots. In laboratory studies, garlic has been shown to decrease risk for stomach and colon cancer. Garlic can be added to almost any recipe but is commonly used in chicken, seafood, rice, pasta, stir fry, tomato sauce and pizza.
Dill has the ability to settle an upset stomach. Dill is best used raw because nutrients are lost during cooking.
Cayenne increases metabolism and circulation, reduces risk for heart issues and can improve absorption of other nutrients.
Mint aids in digestion, inhibits bacteria growth and can help with nausea. Rubbing mint on your body can help repel mosquitos. Mint is typically used in teas, desserts and meat dishes.
Oregano has antiviral, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antibiotic properties. Oregano gas forty-two times more antioxidant activity than apples. Oregano is commonly used in Italian and Greek dishes
Cumin is typically used in Mexican or Spanish cuisine and is known for its antimicrobial properties. In many countries cumin is used as a natural remedy to treat allergies in addition to improving digestion and heartburn relief. Cumin is often used as a seasoning for chili or tacos.
Rosemary is high in antioxidants and may be beneficial in digestion. Rosemary may be helpful in reducing inflammation in conditions like asthma and heart disease. Use Rosemary in soups, with vegetables or in meat dishes. Rosemary was thought to protect against evil spirits in ancient Greece and when placed under a pillow believed to reveal a young lady’s future husband in a dream.
Thyme is part of the mint family, can aid id digestion and contains a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Thyme works well in baked dishes, on cooked vegetables in soups, stews, on eggs and in salad dressing.
We are still learning much about the valuable health and medicinal properties of herbs and spices. Our challenge this month involves expanding your use of spices in your diet.
Level 1 – Add one new spice to your daily nutrition
Level 2 – Combine one or more spices in a new recipe every week this month.
Level 3 – Try at least four spices that you are not familiar with this month in your meal planning.
When was the last time your kitchen had a makeover? Now, we are not talking about new kitchen cabinets or a new floor, but making over the items you keep in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
Eating healthy can be a challenge. Life interferes with our plans. We are often in a rush to get kids to an event or practice, trying to manage a household, care for an aging relative or catching up on work. We are in “grab and go” mode with little thought about good nutrition or we try to use willpower to avoid unhealthy foods.
“Grab and go” and willpower are not long-term strategies that will get us to our goal of health. Our willpower is limited and when we just grab any available food, our choice is often the least healthy option available. Often by the end of the day, we have used most of our willpower and do not have the energy to resist temptation. Instead of relying on willpower, a better way is not to have to make a decision in the first place.
Do you ever find yourself staring into the abyss of the refrigerator and the only choices are ice cream or a piece of fruit? Chances are you will be mindlessly gulping down gobs of ice cream without a thought. A better way is to not have to make the decision between ice cream and fruit in the first place. If the ice cream was not in the refrigerator in the first place, we would choose the fruit and not have to rely on willpower.
The best way to avoid foods that have little nutritional value is to keep them out of our house. If you are trying to eat healthier or lose weight, then why keep foods that do not support your goal in your house?
Food decisions should be simple. The best way to eat healthy is to make your nutrition decisions fool-proof. Kitchen makeovers are a great way to simplify nutrition and make eating healthy easy. Follow these simple steps to makeover your kitchen.
Step 1 – Eliminate any food that does not support your goal. Get a garbage bag and a box. Place your food items into one of three places. If the food has little nutritional value, throw it directly into the garbage bag. If the food has some nutritional value but does not fit into your nutrition plan, place it into the box to give away to a shelter or your local church. The rest of the food goes back into your refrigerator, pantry or freezer.
Eliminate the following junk foods: Foods that look good but are not inherently healthy – processed foods, - check the label for added ingredients like sugar and chemicals. Also beware of condiments, salad dressings, bread crumbs and processed meats.
Step 2 – Organize for success. Make a food list that supports your goals and use this list for your weekly grocery shopping. Make sure to include “go to” foods. “Go to” foods are any food that is available and ready to go when you do not have time to prepare a healthy meal. Fresh or frozen fruit, packaged tuna and foods that you have prepared in advance can be your “Go to” food when you need something to eat right away but do not have time to prepare a healthy meal.
Restock your kitchen. Stick with non-processed whole foods as much as possible. Whole grains, beans, lean meats and fish, fruits and vegetables, skim milk and yogurt should be staples on your healthy food list.
John Berardi of Precision Nutrition recommends:
Pick your 3 favorite:
Be careful of food package labels that say healthy, low fat, no added sugar. Look for items that are as close to their natural state as possible. Shop for fresh unprocessed food.
Once you have restocked your kitchen, prepare your foods as soon as possible so they are readily available to eat. Wash and cut vegetables, cook your grains and lean meats so you can make a healthy meal quickly when you need it.
Step 3 – Prepare the Physical environment. Make sure you have the right tools to prepare foods. A non-stick pan, microwave, food processor, cutting board and a good set of knives are a great start. Clear off counter space so you have room to prepare your healthy meals. Purchase glass or plastic containers and plastic bags to store and freeze foods for easy access.
Step 4 – Make it easy to choose healthy foods. Prepare and freeze meals ahead of time. When preparing meals, make enough to have multiple meals. Freeze and store leftovers. Fill a bowl full of fresh fruit on the counter. If you have foods that trigger overeating or mindless snacking, make sure they are stored in hard to reach places.
Follow these four steps to your kitchen makeover and you will not have to rely on willpower or “grab and go” to eat healthy.
Level one – Remove all sweet snacks and junk food from your kitchen
Level two – Make a standard weekly list of fresh, whole unprocessed foods to buy when you go grocery shopping.
Level three – Plan and prepare healthy meals ahead of time. Freeze or store extra portiins so they are readily available.
Carbs, or carbohydates, have gotten a pretty bad rep recently. Low carb and no carb diets have become the new go-to for anyone looking to lose weight. But have we gone too far in our quest to eliminate carbs from our diet?
Carbohydrates provide energy that fuels Your body. Carbohydrates are just glucose, (sugar), molecules that are strung together. These molecules break down in the body to provide energy.
Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates have fewer molecules of sugar and break down quickly in the body. Think of simple carbohydrates as a match that burns bright and quick. When we consume simple carbs, our energy levels spike quickly and then drop fast.
Complex carbohydrates break down more slowly and provide a more even energy. Like the light of a candle, complex carbs provide energy at a steady rate for a longer period-of-time than simple carbohydrates.
Should simple carbohydrates be totally eliminated from our daily nutrition?
The problem with vilifying any type of food whether it is simple carbohydrates, fats or protein is that there is no perfect nutrition plan that provides all the nutrients we need to thrive and a one size fits all plan does not take into account individual variations based on size, gender, age, culture, activity type and level or geography.
A good general recommendation is to consume more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates make us feel full, aid in digestion, regulate our blood sugars, can help us maintain a healthy weight, as well as provide protection against developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
However, some simple carbs are good for us. Examples of foods that contain simple sugars and provide us with nutrients that we need are milk and fruits. Milk contains lactose, a simple sugar. Milk also contains calcium which helps in the development and maintenance of strong bones. Fruit contains fructose, a simple sugar, but also provides the body with fiber and vitamins. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar in the body and helps keep our digestive system healthy.
Why we need Carbs
How Can I tell a simple carb from a complex carb?
Peas, beans whole grains, legumes, nuts, fibrous fruits and vegetables are the primary sources of complex carbs. Simple carbs often hide in foods. The best way to tell if you are getting simple carbs you do not need are to read food labels. The ingredients in foods are lists by amount from the highest to the lowest. The higher sugar appears on the ingredients list, the more sugar there is in that food.
Food manufacturers can also hide the amount of sugar in a product. A good way to detect sugar on a food label is to look at all the words that end in “ose”. Sucrose, fructose, high-corn syrup fructose, dextrose and maltose are other names for sugar. Also look for the words syrup, (Cane syrup, tapioca syrup), nectars, juices and other sugars, (brown sugar, molasses). The total amount of all these forms of sugar are the total amount of sugar in a product.
Another way to look at the “good” versus “bad” carbohydrates is to define your carbs as refined versus non-refined. Non-refined carbohydrates contain natural sugars and fiber. Refined carbohydrates have been processed until little or no nutritional value remains.
Moving up the Food Chain
Listed below are some simple carbohydrates and healthier alternatives. Improve your nutrition and health by substituting healthier alternatives in your daily nutrition.
Use Less of These
Add More of These
Water flavored with lemon or orange
Baked treats – cakes, cookies, low-fat snacks
Fruit Juice Concentrate
100% Fruit Juice
Refined Grains – enriched flour or products made with whole grains
100% Whole grain products
Foods in their natural state
Bread made with Whole grains – Barley, rye, oats, whole wheat
Beans, peas and lentils
Level 1 – Decrease the amount of sugary drinks you consume each day. Switch soda for water or carbonated water.
Level 2 – Add some complex carbs in the form of vegetables to your dinner each day.
Level 3 – Remove all added simple sugars from your daily nutrition.
By Lauren Rothfeld
In today’s society, it is inevitable that each person will deal with their fair amount of stress. How each person deals with their stress is different. Most turn to fairly unhealthy habits like eating junk food, playing video games and watching Netflix. What I am here to tell you today is that there is a healthier and more beneficial way to relieve the stress in your life.
Whether your stress is from your job, your family or even financial problems there is a simple solution. EXERCISE! It is simple. Exercise has countless benefits to help relieve some of your stress. One of the main benefits is that while you exercise your heart rate increases and you start to release more endorphins, your feel-good neurotransmitters. The more endorphins your body produces, the happier you become and the less stress you have!
Another way exercise helps reduce your stress is straightforward. Exercise simply takes your mind off all the other stressors in your life. There are so many things that you need to have your attention on while you exercise. You have to make sure your form is right as well as counting your repetitions and sets. There is no way that you would be able to do all of that and remember that your boss needs all this work on his desk by tomorrow, it’s just not possible.
By exercising you are ultimately improving your health. As your muscles get bigger your confidence grows as well. You also make great connections and friends through working out that will also help relieve some stress and take your mind off other issues.
So, after a long day being cooped up at work lift some weights, do a conditioning or boot camp class, go for a run, do some yoga, or even go to a spinning class. Get your heart rate up, release some endorphins and feel good about yourself. What I like to say is before entering the gym check your baggage at the door, meaning leave everything that is bothering you outside the gym walls and just relax!
Most nights, it’s the same pattern. I come home from Strength for Life, check the mail, make something for dinner and sit down for the evening. I might do a little work and watch some television and then it happens. Just like clockwork, without even thinking of it, I am back in the kitchen grabbing a snack. Before I know it, I am sitting in front of the TV munching mindlessly.
I know that I am not really hungry and the snack, (or two, or three), is not needed but I continue to eat anyway. Late night eating for me is just a habit that does not support my fitness or nutrition and needs to go.
Many of us eat when we are bored, stressed, sad, lonely, have relationship conflicts, or as a way to deal with unpleasant emotions or just out of habit.
That is bad enough, but what is even worse is that the food we eat does not make us feel better. As a matter of fact, we often feel guilty for overeating. We feel bad, we eat. We feel guilty, we eat again. We may have filled our stomachs, but we have not filled the emotional need that caused us to reach for food in the first place.
Emotional hunger is different from physical hunger. Emotional hunger is often impulsive. There is an urgency to eat something, often less healthy, comfort foods. Emotional hunger is not satisfying and is often done thoughtlessly as though we were on automatic pilot. We often feel regret or guilt after a bout of emotional eating.
Stress, boredom, loneliness, trying to bury our emotions, conflicts with relationships, fatigue, being unhappy with the way we look, health or financial issues, social situations, going out with friends can trigger emotional eating. Emotional eating can soon become an unwanted habit.
There is good news. We can change our relationship with eating and change the emotional habits that derail our health, weight and fitness.
The trick is to recognize and understand our triggers, deal with the emotions that cause us to eat and find alternate ways to deal with our triggers. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Knowing what to do and finding ways to stop emotional eating can be a difficult process.
Here are six practical tips to curb your emotional eating habits.
What are you feeling at this moment? Is it related to your craving? Ask yourself: What do I really want? Do I really need food, or something else?
Wait for a few minutes before giving in to the craving. Often delaying action is enough to get your brain out of the craving mode. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you are having.
If you are craving food because you are trying to bury or suppress your feelings, allow yourself to feel angry, sad, lonely, bored, or stressed. Giving yourself permission to feel may not be easy but can lead to a greater self-awareness about what you really need and want. It is better to deal with your feelings than to bury them down with food.
Follow these steps to cut down on your stress eating.
For the next 30 days:
Level 1: When you feel a craving to eat, write down the event or emotion that triggers your craving.
Take a timeout of a few minutes every time you feel a craving to eat. Hit the pause button.
Level 2: When you have a craving, instead of heading to the refrigerator, get up and do an activity like walking up and down the stairs, doing laundry or a crossword puzzle.
Level 3: Take time to write down a plan to deal with your triggers. Track each time you have a craving and the alternate activity you used to avoid or derail the craving.
Write down the emotion you are feeling when you have a craving and allow yourself to feel that emotion. Write down how you can deal with that emotion in the future.
Last Saturday, I turned 62 years old and decided to see what new perks came with turning another year older. When I looked online, I found that I can receive 75% of my social security benefits, and get discounts to restaurants. I can stay at a Holiday Inn or Candlewood Suites for 15% off. Hyatt will give me 20-30% off for staying at their hotels. Kohl’s offers 15% off of clothing and goods.
I can get a lifetime senior pass to our National Parks for only $10. Senior living housing is also available. Most of these things I can pass on for now, although the National Parks pass looks very good.
The benefits to aging that would interest me would be to continue to be fit and healthy, have even more time with my family and friends, continue to help others on their fitness journey and pursue my personal hobbies, photography, gardening an guitar.
There are some negatives to aging as well. My eyesight and hearing keep getting worse. I wake up often in the night and there is always some slight ache or pain, I call them “dings” in my body. I do consider myself fortunate that I am healthy, have a wonderful family, have a career that I love, and can be part of my two grandchildren lives, Roz and Dalton.
Jack LaLanne, one of the best-known fitness trainers of all time would perform great feats of strength and endurance every year on his birthday. On his 70th birthday he towed 70 boats filled with 70 people for a mile while handcuffed and shackled.
Closer to home, we ask our clients to “Challenge Yourself to Excel.” Earlier this month, one of our clients, Kate Williams, challenged herself and completed six – 6K runs on her 36th Birthday.
Several other clients completed their first Spartan race. These clients motivate us on a daily basis. So, this year I decided to “Challenge Myself to Excel” and do my own birthday challenge.
My personal challenge was to complete six different exercises for 62 repetitions in 62 minutes. The exercise includes Squats with 225 pounds, Bench Press with 185 pounds, Deadlift with 225 pounds, Bent Row with 95 pounds, Pushups and Bodyweight dips.
My Grandchildren, Roz and Dalton
This Monday, July 24, 2017, after a good warmup, I started the challenge. My strategy was to knock out sets of Squats, Bench Press and Bent Rows first. The repetition range would be from 6-10 reps for each set. Knowing I would need to complete multiple sets with little rest, I pushed myself but never went to failure on any one set.
I felt good through the first 45 minutes of the workout, breathing hard between sets, but had plenty of energy to keep going. At that point the cumulative effect of the weight, sets and repetitions started to be felt. Finishing the deadlifts took some effort, but were done within the 62 minute limit. Even though I felt pretty fatigued, I decided to keep going and finish the dips and pullups. Eight minutes later, I was able to squeeze out the last pushup.
I completed all the lifts, but did not meet my time criteria. The entire workout took a little under 70 minutes instead of the predicted 62.
Although I fell short of my goal, I feel pretty good about the Challenge. Over the course of the workout I lifted more than 45,000 pounds or 22.5 tons. That equals 646 pounds per minute not counting warmups or the bodyweight exercises, (pushups and dips).
Here is a condensed video of my Birthday Challenge Workout.
My takeaways from the Birthday Challenge:
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