Prioritizing Exercise In Your Life

If it’s important to you, you will find a way to do it.
If it’s not important to you, you’ll find any excuse not to do it.”

~ Anonymous

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that exercise and a healthy body are important. Believe it or not, most people still find it difficult to fit exercise into their daily lives.

There is always some sort of excuse to prevent people from breaking a sweat–whether it’s not enough time, lack of motivation, or you fill in the blank. Whatever the excuse, staying inspired and motivated to start and then keep exercise in your life is not easy.

Even I’ve been guilty of neglecting exercise. That’s right… San Diego’s “healthy aging coach” and poster boy for a healthy lifestyle is not perfect. The truth is, no one is perfect.

You can lose weight, get fit, and live a better life, by just changing your eating habits. When I started out, I lost 35 pounds by eating right alone. Of course, that took over 2 years, plus it’s hard to maintain that weight loss over the long term without regular exercise to keep my metabolism up.

I learned early that in order to lose weight and then control it, I had to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. A big part of that was to make exercise a priority.

You, me, everyone wants to look our best. Exercise certainly helps. That’s just one reason. There are other reasons why exercising on a regular basis is a good idea. Here’s just 5 reasons—besides losing weight—that exercise is important.

1. Exercise Increases Energy

When you exercise on a regular basis, you improve your muscle strength, increase your endurance, and help your lungs and heart work more efficiently. Just ask your health care professional. All this adds up to more energy to tackle your day.

2. Exercise Reduces Stress

We all have our good days and our bad days. Have you ever felt overwhelmed at work? Did you know that a quick workout—say 20 to 30 minutes—can help you relieve stress? It doesn’t even have to be anything strenuous—just take a brisk walk. It could make all the difference in your outlook for the rest of the day.

3. Exercise Helps You Sleep Better

Exercise, along with plenty of fresh air, can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Just be sure you don’t exercise to close to bedtime.

4. Exercise Puts Spice Back Into Your Sex Life

It’s a simple mathematical formula…

Increased Energy + Reduced Stress + More Sleep = Yowzer!

5. Exercise Improves Your Mood

  1. Exercise reduces your stress
  2. Exercise increases your energy
  3. Exercise enhances your sleep
  4. All this means you’re sex drive is better

I don’t know about you, but that would put me in a good mood!

I think those are 5 pretty convincing reasons to include exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet… a lot of people still don’t exercise—even a little. So I started asking people what stops them from exercising. Would you like to know the top two reasons people don’t exercise?

They Don’t Have The Time

This is the number one excuse most people use for not exercising. I can understand and sympathize. We all live busy lives. I also know that when something is a priority, then we will make the time. That’s why I wrote the quote at the top of this post.

They Don’t Have The Energy To Exercise

Again, we all live busy lives. Our daily lives are stressful with responsibilities of home, work, family and social obligations, and friends. All that stress can disturb our sleep, making us tired from lack of proper rest. Generally, life can suck the energy right out of you. When you figure in the lack of exercise, it’s no wonder people are always sick and tired.

However, if you’re tired of being sick and tired all the time, exercising on a regular basis will give you more energy. Sometimes you have to give of yourself. That additional push can get you started. Once the ball is rolling, believe me, it does get easier.

How To Commit To Exercise & Make It A Priority

Starting a new habit will be not be easy. People are creatures of habit and don’t like getting out of their comfort zones—or off the couch in this case. Yes… it’s going to be difficult and uncomfortable at first. There will be setbacks. Even I find it difficult to fit exercise into my life. You’re probably wondering, “If it’s going to be difficult, then why bother?” I know from personal experience, plus the experience of all the people I work with on a daily basis, that when it’s really important for long term weight maintenance, then we make it a priority in our lives and just keep trying, never giving up. Here are some tips that have helped my clients and me in the past.

Be Realistic; Start Slow

My personal weight loss and fitness story has been a long one full of twists and turns, leaps forward, and setbacks. On a daily basis, it appears to move at a snails pace. I’ve learned that anything that works quickly never lasts long. It’s true what they say, “anything that lasts takes time.” I advise my clients to begin by setting small, achievable goals. When you set a goal where you can already see the end result, for instance, you’ll find that it’s easy to achieve. Small victories lead to more small victories. Several small victories add up to a larger victory. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m going to run on the treadmill everyday“, I’ll set a smaller goal of running twice.

Keep your personal goals realistic so they’ll easily fit into your lifestyle. For exercise to work, it needs to fit seamlessly into your life. If you have to rearrange your whole life just to work out more, it probably won’t happen.

Here’s another scenario: In January, most people who join a gym as part of a New Years resolution, only go once or a couple times, then never again. Their excuse is that after work the last thing they want to do is spend another hour of their already crowded life working out. Each year, thousands of people try to convince themselves they can make it work, but it never does. So they stop working out all together. Exercise needs to be an activity that fits around your lifestyle.

First, Get Exercise Onto Your Calendar

For many busy professionals, if something isn’t on their calendar it doesn’t exist. When you make an appointment—or date—with yourself and physically add it to your calendar (along with the time to get there and back), you have made an “intentional” decision to do it. Make it a priority. Hold yourself accountable. It’s a lot harder to just forget about exercise when the auto-reminder pops up.

Plan Ahead

Now that exercise is on your calendar, it’s much easier to plan ahead. Let me give you an example: If you’ve scheduled your exercise for Tuesday mornings, you know you have to put out your workout clothes, sneakers, and other exercise supplies (water, towel, etc.) the night before. Your time is valuable. You don’t want to keep yourself waiting while you search around for your sneakers. Just as you’d prepare properly before meeting with a client, you’ll be more likely to plan ahead so you can keep your goals moving forward. And business is not an excuse for skipping either. Clients understand if you’re booked between 8:00 and 9:00 on those Tuesday mornings. It’s none of their business what you’re doing, and they will respect you more and work within your schedule of openings besides the time you are working out. You wouldn’t cancel another client to accommodate another’s schedule would you? Why are you any less valuable than your customers?

Get The People In Your Life Involved

This is huge. It’s especially important for busy moms. There are honestly times where setting time aside for strength or cardiovascular training is very difficult or downright impossible.

When kids are involved, get them included in your exercise. When a traditional workout is not possible, another way to get a good sweat is to put on your favorite music and dance. Trust me, kids will love this; especially if you get them involved, too. You can do more than just dance. Try doing jumping jacks, squats, sit-ups, running in place, anything that gets the heart pumping, and do it to the rhythm of the music. If weather permits get everyone outdoors for a walk, a hike, or to play kickball or soccer. It’s great for spouses, kids, pets, friends, everyone! The point here is to be active.

Get Creative With Inexpensive Equipment

In my studio, we often make the equipment we need by getting things from the hardware store and building it ourselves. We make our own mix tapes. If you can’t hire a fitness professional, join a gym, or don’t have a designated workout room in your home; don’t make that an excuse not to exercise.

Playing music to dance to costs you nothing. Rhythmic movements to the beat of the music can potentially help you burn hundreds of calories. You can purchase used exercise equipment if you have the space for it, but it’s not really necessary.

Maybe you’ll find exercise videos inspirational. You can find lots of them for very little expense at thrift stores, garage sales, or even on Amazon.com. Some public libraries might even have exercise videos you can borrow for free. There are also millions of workout videos on YouTube.

You might even get a good laugh with some of those homemade YouTube videos. The point is, you are only limited by your imagination.

What tips do you have to prioritize exercise?

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Foods To Help Curb Diabetes

 stop-diabetes

When diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes, most people think it’s the end of the world or at least a boring life of limited and restricted foods. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you have Type-2 Diabetes, you can still lead an ordinary life, you just have to include the right food choices.

Once someone has contracted Type-2 Diabetes, other ailments will develop. Diabetes affects every organ in your body, including your heart, eyes, and kidneys. These are just some of the reasons to avoid the disease. If you already have it, you will need to learn how to control it. Just like with a lot of things, proper exercise and diet can make a big difference in controlling diabetes as well as any other complications brought on by the disease. It’s important to remember that the main thing that can lead to the onset of Type-2 Diabetes is a poor nutrition program along with a sedentary lifestyle.

Below are some foods that can help you to curb diabetes and it’s complications. As always, you should consult your Health Care Provider before making any changes in your food intake, exercise, or supplementation. The information below is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a treatment or cure for this or any other disease.

Beans

Containing vitamins, minerals (like magnesium and potassium), protein, and fiber, beans can be ideal for everyone and especially for people with diabetes. That’s because most people (and not just diabetics) are woefully lacking in fiber. Fiber makes you feel full longer, making it ideal for controlling appetite and controlling your weight. Cooked beans can be eaten alone, served in salads, or boiled in soups. Some types beans to consider:
•    Garbanzo
•    Navy
•    White
•    Pinto
•    Lentil
•    Black

Green & Leafy Vegetables

As if you need another reason to eat your veggies, here’s another… Green and leafy vegetables contain useful nutrients that make them great for diabetics. Vegetables are low in calories. They contain insoluble fiber, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C, all factors that have been shown to lower the risk of contracting Type-2 Diabetes. Five to seven servings (5-7 cups) of these veggies is the usual recommendation. Green and leafy vegetables to include in your nutrition program include:
•    Spinach
•    Mustard greens
•    Collard greens
•    Chard
•    Kale

Berries

Fruit contains lots of sugars (fructose). Berries, on the other hand, contain lots of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, plus natural sugars that surprisingly don’t have a big impact on your blood sugar levels. They can help you control your blood sugar levels. I like to utilize berries in the preparation of desserts because they reduce the calories, while satisfying the need for sweets. You can also include berries with your breakfast, eat them as a snack, or add them to side dishes like salads. Some of my favorites include:
•    Strawberries
•    Blueberries
•    Cranberries
•    Blueberries

Try to eat berries when they are in season, but you can substitute frozen berries for a sweet treat when they are out of season.

Fish

Fish have many benefits when included in a healthy eating program. They contain Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) and are a good source of protein. You can substitute fish oil supplements if you can’t get fresh fish, don’t like the taste of fish, or are concerned with mercury or other toxins that some fish may contain. Cold water fish is your best bet. Try some of the following:
•    Salmon (wild Pacific varieties)
•    Sardines
•    Herring
•    Tuna
•    Mackerel
•    Halibut

Avoid fried fish. Healthy fish recipes include those for grilled, poached, or baked fish. Serve over brown rice or whole-grain pasta, and include it in salads.

Whole Grains

Speaking of whole grains, whether or not you have diabetes, you still need to include carbohydrates in your diet. Stick to products that contain the whole grain, like whole-grain or sprouted grain breads, brown rice, wild rice (a grass), or whole-grain pasta. Keep portions small, and you can enjoy these foods every day because they contain complex carbohydrates, which do not affect blood sugar levels suddenly. Whole grains contain folate, magnesium, chromium, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Some research indicates that they may also help to reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The use of whole wheat flour, instead of all-purpose flour, as an ingredient in baked goods will allow you to include those items (albeit small portions) in your diet on occasion.

Nuts

Besides EFAs and fiber, nuts contain vitamins (like vitamin E), minerals, magnesium, and other nutrients that can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels. In general, diabetics are recommended to eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks. By including small amounts of nuts (usually 1 oz. per day), you can eat healthy and still enjoy a variety of food options. A little trick I learned from one nutritionist when eating nuts is to soak them in water overnight to help to release any enzyme inhibitors they may contain.

Olive Oil

What would any diet be without Olive Oil? I’ve researched all the oils and none compares with this ancient elixir. Olive oil is great for using in cooking, straight from the bottle/can over salads, and yes, even topically on your skin! Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, to decrease your risk for heart disease, maintain blood sugar levels, and reduce insulin resistance. Olive oil is a healthy choice for diabetics and anyone interested in controlling their weight. Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to contain more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Cinnamon

This spice is great for diabetics. Cinnamon improves your insulin sensitivity by controlling your blood sugar levels, plus it helps reduce cholesterol levels. Add 1-3 tsp (depending on your taste for it) per person of cinnamon powder to tea, oatmeal, chicken, or fish recipes. Of course, cinnamon is a healthy ingredient in many dessert recipes, too. It increases your insulin sensitivity and that helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady and reduce the incidence of diabetes.

Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know about you, but I was taught that diabetics should avoid starches in their diet. I have since learned that some starches are better than others. Sweet Potatoes contain beta carotene, an important antioxidant. They are also rich in vitamins like A and C, plus contain lots of natural fiber. They are low on the glycemic index, which makes them a carbohydrate food that in small portions, should be safe for diabetics. Sweet Potatoes can be baked or grilled with just a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Like other potatoes, most of the nutrients are in the skin, so leave it on. Serve it mashed, in salads, casseroles, soups, or whole as a side dish.

Onions

Onions are high on my list of meal ingredients. Their benefits include the trace mineral chromium, which makes insulin usage more efficient in your body. A chromium deficiency has many times been attributed toward the cause of diabetes. This can easily be solved by including onions in your regular diet. I like to use onions in most of the foods I cook. I personally like them cooked in stews and soups, or added raw to burgers and salads. Raw onions can affect your breath, so be sure to avoid raw onions if you’re going to be around people afterwards!

Tomatoes

This is one of the few fruits (yes, tomatoes are actually a fruit!) I recommend to people. Tomatoes are a source of iron, vitamins C and E, and fiber. I like tomatoes because they are beneficial in every form, from raw in salads, to pureed in a sauce. Diabetics can include generous amounts of this nutritious, low calorie food.

Beets

The beetroot is one vegetable that is not only colorful, it’s also good for you. It’s benefits include high in vitamin C and folate. Prepare them by roasting in the oven to bring out their natural sweetness. After roasting beets, let them cool before peeling the skin away. Add roasted beets to salads, stews, or alone as a side dish.

Brussels Sprouts

I saved my all-time favorite for last. Brussels sprouts are often miss-categorized as a smelly, mushy, foul vegetable. I think they are just misunderstood (as well as mis-prepared). They can be of benefit to diabetics because they are low in sodium, cholesterol free, and contain healthy phytochemicals. They taste best when sauteed or roasted in a little olive oil. I usually serve them as a delicious, savory side dish, but have been known to put them in soups, stews, and salads, too.

Turmeric Infusion

Turmeric Tea to Warm-up, Fight Cancer, or Build Your Brain

Last year I discovered turmeric and have since learned of it’s many benefits. I originally started using it as a cheap alternative to saffron. It has only been in the last couple months that I learned that turmeric powder and/or fresh turmeric have healing powers. I’ve come to rely on this Asian herb for many thing to enhance food but also as a food ‘medicine’.

Turmeric has been linked to decreased risk of cancer as well as improved brain health. You can cook with it, or create a daily tea. Since I’ve begun drinking turmeric tea (instead of the regular, and probably more traditional, ‘green tea,’ for my health, I believe I have seen a decrease in aches, pains, fatigue, etc. Of course, much of this could be due to other factors like fresh air, exercise, plenty of rest, sunshine, good food (plenty of fresh veggies), and avoiding stress.

Fresh turmeric root is available in many stores in San Diego, but other places might find it more difficult to get. I’ve considered growing some next to my ginger root for double the benefits.

The flavor is unique, but good. You should try it to be sure you will like it before committing yourself. Fresh turmeric has a strong, slightly bitter flavor compared to the powdered form. You can use the powder easily if you can’t get it fresh. I keep the powdered form around to add to curry dishes, rice, and vegetables. I must warn you that it gives everything a vibrant yellow color and it also stains, so be careful with it.

When I make a tea out of it, I create an herbal infusion the same way as I would using any herb or root. I’ve added the simple recipe I use below. If you don’t like it straight, try it as a base for green, black, Earl Grey, chai, or your favorite tea (about half water and half turmeric infusion). This will give you a richer tea with more body. It’s great on cold mornings.

One other thing I’ve started to do is add it to my stock pot when making soup stocks. I peel it and put the peels and little knobby bits in the water with my other vegetable clippings and soup bones. The inner root portion can then be use for teas and as a general cooking ingredient.

You can make a turmeric infusion with fresh or powdered turmeric. It’s a simple thing to make ahead. Make enough so you can easily reheat a cup whenever you want.

Turmeric Infusion

  1. 2-inches of fresh turmeric, sliced thin (or 2 tbsp powdered turmeric) turmeric-and-ginger-double-detox
  2. Optionally, you can add an equal amount of ginger root or 1 tsp of ginger powder
  3. Add turmeric (and ginger if using) to 3-4 cups of water (if using powder, gently stir to combine)
  4. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat
  5. Simmer for 30-60 minutes, remove from heat
  6. Pour into a glass jar with a lid.
  7. Close lid, set it aside over night
  8. Reheat the mixture when you are ready for tea
  9. Dilute the infusion to your taste.
  10. Optionally, you can sweeten your tea with honey and/or lemon.

Pistachios

pistachio-nuts
One of my personal favorites, the pistachio nut contains more than 10% of your daily value (DV) of fiber. It also includes many essential vitamins and minerals. Pistachios are naturally low-fat and cholesterol free.  A research group headed by Bonny Burns-Whitmore, from California State Polytechnic University tested a group of 48 healthy young women (with an average age of 21) and had them consume a diet which included pistachios for 10-weeks. The pistachios comprised 20% of their total daily calorie intake. The findings? Burns-Whitmore’s group reported: “Inclusion of 20% of Kcals as pistachios in the diet does not contribute to weight gain or body fat changes, and may even potentially improve blood lipids and [blood pressure].

Nutrition Facts Label for Pistachio Nuts, Dry Roasted, w/o Salt
Food label source: quitehealthy.com

Another Excuse Bites the Dust

It’s never too late to add years to your life or life to your years. Even if you’re a late bloomer like me, when it comes to good nutrition and proper exercise, don’t let a “couch ­potato” past stop you.

I didn’t.

I found some research done with sedentary adults 65 and older who turned over a new leaf and got moving. They cut their chances of dying from cancer in half and from heart disease by a third. That’s no small potatoes.

If you haven’t moved a muscle in ages, I’d suggest putting yourself on a walking program. First, aim for 30 minutes a day to start, then make an appointment with your health care provider for an exercise prescription. It should cover:

Type: Efficient and proper movement combines aerobic (for stamina), strength, and flexibility exercise. Often, one type may be especially important for you. That’s why you should seek the advice of a professional. 

Frequency: This is often you should exercise.

Intensity: This is how hard to push yourself. Another reason to seek professional advice. Basically, start at a comfortable level and work up from there. You don’t have to get involved in extreme sports or exercises to get fit. If fact, programs like “Insanity” and “Crossfit” can be detrimental to your overall health. 

Time: Sets a guideline for how long you should work out. There are 1440 minutes in a day, surely you can find 20, 30, or 60 minutes for exercise. BTW–did you know that 1-hour is only 4% of your day? Surely there is some room for your personal health and well-being.

Progression: Think of this as creating a plan to help you continue to improve. Set up some step-by-step goals. I can help you with this. 

Benefits: This covers how specific movements can help you improve your health.

If your health care provider can’t set up a workout program for you, then maybe I can help. As a Nationally Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Specialist, I often work with health care providers to not only help you set up a program that is suited for you, but also work with you to help you get the most benefit from it. Bring your health care provider’s clearance to me and I can work within the guidelines set by your provider to create a custom program that will match your current level of fitness, be efficient, and help you to regain some of that youth your former sedentary lifestyle has stolen from you.

You may not be able to turn back the clock… but you can wind it up again! Check our Bodies@Work today!

Diet Soda Can Affect Your Brain

ImageBased on the size of the diet beverage industry, we can figure that millions of people drink diet sodas daily. Most say they drink these no-calorie drinks to control their weight. A study from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 2012, suggested that consumption of artificial sweeteners might actually sabotage those weight-loss plans. It does so by changing how your brain’s reward center responds.

Here’s how the study worked: The UCSD research group took 24 young adults and split them into two groups. Group 1 drank at least one serving of diet soda every day. Group 2 avoided artificially sweetened drinks. Several weeks later, the research subjects had their brains scanned, while they alternately sipped naturally and artificially sweetened water. This allowed the researchers to track how their brains responded to different kinds of sweeteners.

The brains of those who’d been consuming diet soda responded very differently from those of non-drinkers. This was seen in the centers of the brain related to reward and controlling food intake—or your appetite “off switch.” What was significant was the fact that the more they diet sodas they drank, the greater the difference.

Artificial Sweeteners Trick Your Brain

The scans showed decreased activity in the reward center of the brain. For the diet soda drinkers, this suggested that artificial sweeteners were the likely cause of throwing this reward system off. The findings by the UCSD research team was that the sweet taste didn’t always signal incoming calories. The subjects’ brains were trained to ignore a normal response. They concluded that if the brain doesn’t recognize the correct caloric intake, it can get confused, and the diet soda drinkers would then be more likely to consume additional calories—especially later in the day.

How Little Things Can Affect Your Brain

Research is always being done in this area. This particular study provides one interpretation of how our lifestyle choices can influence our brains. Consume artificial sweeteners and your brain responds one way—give your brain positive experiences and it could respond differently.

Other studies have found you can achieve positive brain changes as a result of regular exercise, proper sleep, plus other factors. No surprise there if you’ve been working with me. Today’s take-away lesson is to pick and choose your habits carefully. They could be good or bad not just for your body, but also for your brain!