Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Need a quick pick me up??

Put down that afternoon cup of coffee, or sugary treat and stand up and get moving!!!  Exercise releases endorphins that make you happy and give you energy!!!  (Anyone else suddenly picturing Legally Blonde…..exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy and happy people don’t kill their husbands LOL)  But seriously, if you are in a funk, have low energy and need a quick pick me up stand up, go for a walk around the office, smile (ever hear the phrase “fake it til you make it”?)  If you walk around with a smile your mood actually improves!!!  As far as boosting your energy….here are my tips (not all will work for you but pick what does work!!) get outside for your lunch, simply being out in the sunshine and fresh air will give a pick me up to get you through that mid day lull.  If you can, go for a walk after you eat, don’t skip lunch to walk, food also gives you energy, you don’t want to crash at 3pm.  If you can’t get outside, walk around the office, make sure you drink plenty of water and have a healthy snack (greens juices are amazing for a boost as well as nutrients) J 
Some more tips
-Stand up and take a big stretch!!!  Stretching increases blood flow and oxygen to the body, it’s a quick way to wake the body J
-Close your eyes really tight for about 30 seconds, take a deep breath and open them (do it a few times)…..this is great to do if you are sitting at a desk and can’t get up and move around….looking away from those papers and computer screen even for 30 seconds can give you a boost.
-Green Tea….studies have shown that the small amounts of caffeine in green tea can give you a boost without affecting your sleep cycle.
-Have lunch with a coworker, socialization with someone can get you laughing and destress you.  Don’t go to lunch with Negative Nelly though, that will only pull you down more!!!!  Go with someone you enjoy spending time with or would like to get to know….energy is contagious.
-Don’t sit still…..I know when we were kids our parents always said “will you sit still”….sitting in one spot or position for too long actually can make you drowsy!! Move, switch positions…..go ahead and fidget!!!!  What helps me not sit still??  Drink water…..if you drink enough water, you have to go to the bathroom, so you are gonna have to get up often!!!!
-And lastly please, please, please don’t skip meals!!!!  When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs it slows down……

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Get the kids involved!!!

One of the biggest questions I get asked as a fitness professional is how do you keep your child active in a world of convenience and video games……the answer seems simple….keep the video games to a short spurts and go outside and play…….honestly growing up I don’t remember on a sunny day sitting in the house with any sort of computer, TV or video game so how did this become such a habit of our kids???  How did so many American children get to be overweight???  I don’t know that there is one cut and dry solution to this problem but here’s my opinion…..we need to make going out and playing FUN for our kids, make healthy eating FUN for our kids…..we need to make going to McDonalds (dun dun dun) less fun for our kids… do we do this???  My family is by no means perfect, don’t get me wrong, my son eats a happy meal every now and then (he is actually eating a piece of pizza as I write this) BUT I have from the time he was little talked about food choices with him, helping him understand why he should have the apple instead of the bag of chips……we even made a game out of it when he was little, take an apple, a candy bar and a bag of chips put them out on the table and ask them which one is grown by nature….they know….now ask them which is a better choice for a snack, show them the labels, there are even words Mommy can’t pronounce, they will 90% of the time say that is “yucky” or “why would I eat that Mommy?”  Think about it children choose things because of the influences around them, when babies we feed them apples and say yummy apples, right??  So how do they begin to think yummy cookies??  They were influenced to try them…..yes, they will be exposed to things as they grow up BUT if they are taught to make smart choices young then honestly that is what they will do as they get older… son is now 9 and given a choice between the same 3 snacks listed about, he 90% of the time picks the apple……I feel it is our job as a society to give children ALL the education they need to be successful, strong, healthy people so why wouldn't food choices be there as well?  Let them help make dinner one night, let them toss a salad, pick out fruit for desert……make healthy eating fun….going apple picking show them how people can get their food right from the source not a store, plant a vegetable in your house or yard…..I live in Manhattan and we grow our own basil right in the window and pick it to make pesto sauce, take them to a farmers market and play the find something that grows on a tree game (this is a game we used to love…my son had to go around and find 5 things for each category….grows in a tree, grows underground, grown in a field, etc….then I would challenge him to find food made in a factory – which was hard at a farmers market)…..I still take him to all of these places any chance I get J  As far as keeping kids moving…..turn off the TV…..the biggest obstacle with kids getting out and moving is the family dynamic today…some days it is hard because both parents work, single parent homes or the amount of homework that kids get, BUT on days you can get out do it together as a family!!!!  You get quality time plus you are setting an example for them.  My family goes running every Sunday; we take turns running with my son so we can get our full workouts in.  When we don’t go or are running behind schedule my son always asks when we are going, he loves this time we spend and it gets his energy out J  It is our special time, we schedule it out….of course life can get in the way but then we make sure we go for a walk in the park or just something small…..give your kids something to look forward to and of course, after we go for our run we go for brunch J  It’s our little treat …….kids NEED to work off some steam just like grown ups why not channel it into something healthy??  Just my thoughts :)  

Family and friends… system or gateway to failure?

As I watched The Biggest Loser this season it brought some thoughts to mind…..first of all I am always in awe of the transformations but the biggest question that was brought to mind is do our loved ones have our best interests at heart or are they stuck in our habits as well?  I watched the episode where the contestants went home to spend some time with their families and all the families took them to greasy, fatty restaurants and I understand that is life BUT if my family knew I was really trying to lose weight and get healthy for them, I would be truly upset with them for taking me to a restaurant like that while I was so vulnerable.  Thinking back on my journey (and oh what a journey it has been!!  125lbs down the drain) I remember my biggest set backs were always at family events or when I was around my extended family…..not saying I was not to blame BUT if instead of taking me to that Mexican restaurant and eating those nachos what about let’s make a healthy dinner as a family and spend the time cooking to chat and mingle…..I am starting to realize that having support and “having support” are very different……just as in the show I constantly heard, “one little bite won’t hurt” but for some people that one little bite opens a gateway of little bites, which turns into big bites, which turns into entire cakes L  Finding a proper support system is so important, not just someone who says they understand what you are doing, or a spouse who is a “yes man” but someone who will truly be there for you the entire journey even when it gets tough…..this is true for not only weight loss but for everything in life….you want someone who is actually there to support you not just say that and show the opposite….be picky about who you choose…..don’t just go with your spouse, parent, friend, if they don’t understand what you are going through, they can’t help……don’t pick your Aunt Maggie if you are trying to lose weight and she works in a bakery unless you have nerves of steel, don’t pick your friend who is still at entry level after being with a company for 10 years to help you figure out how to get that promotion (she may be the sweetest thing but I’d go to someone who knows their stuff)……don’t be afraid to ask for help!!!  There is always someone out there who knows what you are going through and knows exactly how you are feeling…..I have found many people like this, people that motivate me not discourage me…..our habits are learned from those around us, surround yourself with people who will bring you good habits not those that promote bad ones J

Lift my what???

Want to improve you abdominal workouts??  Make your Pilates/Yoga classes more effective??  Then do what your doctor has been telling you…..practice your KEGELS!!!  Huh???  Kegel exercises work the muscle group called the pelvic floor…the pelvic floor is the muscles that support the bones of the spine and the structure of the abdominals.  In today’s society we are becoming more and more aware of kegels and why they are important during pregnancy but they are also important for everyday life!!! Balance, movement, flexibility and stability of the abdominals all stem from the pelvis, so why wouldn't you want to strengthen that area?  First we must understand what these muscles are and why they are so important……the best definition that I could find to explain the pelvic floor is “You can think of the pelvic floor muscles as a web of interrelated muscles, tendons and ligaments that form a supportive hammock at the base of the pelvis.”  These muscles are there to support everything in the “core”.  So by using these muscles while doing abdominal exercises digs deeper into those muscles by lifting also from the “bottom – up”.  Even when switching positions during yoga classes, lifting in the pelvic floor will help you move with more ease J  Ok, fair enough you say but how do I tell if I am using those muscles??  Practicing you kegels outside of your workouts will help, so then when you get into class you already know what feeling to expect.  If you take a lot of Pilates classes you will often hear the instructor say REPEATEDLY “now lift you pelvic floor” or “engage your pelvic floor” and I know at least 75% of you are thinking WTH is this crazy person talking about…..we want you to help support your spine more!!!  Ok so, lay down on your back (after you are done reading this entire thing LOL), do a couple of crunches, NOW lay still on your back, I like to imagine there is a mini elevator at the base of my pelvis and it needs to go up to my belly button so I must lift in my lower pelvis and pull it up, some people like to think about squeezing their sits bones together and up, there are many ways to imagine it, use what works best for you J  Do a few lifts, squeezes, whatever you decide works best to call it, now do those same crunches again, lifting the pelvic floor as you crunch up…..feel a difference?  Feel like you are using more muscles??  I bet you do!!!  Now try a few planks while lifting in the pelvic floor, for you yogi’s go into down dog, lift the pelvic floor while you step forward into a lunge….different??  These muscles are not just important while pregnant or as you get older they are SO important everyday!!!!  Please, please, please lift your pelvic floor everyday….do it while you brush your teeth, wash dishes, heck, I’m doing it as I type this blog LOL… yourself form incontinence and pelvic prolapse and flatten you tummy at the same time!!!!