Archive | May, 2012

Simple Health and Fitness: A Life Approach

24 May

What sells?  Magazine covers that read “5 minutes to a better body.”  Cookbooks that are titled “Eat what you want and lose weight.”  Diet plans that advertise “Take this pill and get fit and firm”.  That sells because it’s an easy fix, but the reality of getting the body you’ve dreamed of and the level of health and fitness you desire is simply not a quick fix.

So, with that said, the first thing you need to decide is do you really want to achieve this?  I’m going to give you some very good reasons why your answer should be yes.

While it’s very challenging to begin, in the long-term you will feel better about yourself, be more productive and able to navigate life more effectively.

Being healthy is not only a positive change for you but also for your family and friends. 

Being fit and healthy helps boost self-esteem which paves the way for success in other areas of your life.  It’s not just a matter of how you look; it’s your ability to realize you are stronger than you think.

Eating better makes you feel better.  We were not designed to eat fast food and chemicals.  Eating healthy and clean allows your body to function more properly.  When your body does that so does your mind.

There are plenty of reasons to work on achieving health, so why aren’t you doing it?  It comes down to this: We live in a faced paced society that has encouraged you to do everything quickly.  We attempt to accomplish ten tasks at once, we go till exhaustion thinking we will get ahead in doing so.  We eat on the run and fitness easily drops off our priority list.  We fall into these patterns and at some point usually step back and say “I’m not sure I’m really happy.”  True happiness is achieved through balance, mindfulness and purposefulness.

If you have read this far you probably agree with what I am saying and want to change this pattern.  You want to live healthier, be happier and more productive.  If you are going to make a life-long change for the better you are going to have to do it in small steps, period!  Here are ways in which you can move forward in achieving this:

  • Stop eating fast food.  Give yourself license in the beginning to keep all your old habits but just stop eating fast food.
  • Change one eating habit per week.  Swap out a product for something healthier; eliminate something from your diet that isn’t good for you.
  • Begin an exercise program that requires you to do ten minutes of cardio at a time.  Ten minutes, that’s it.  You can make ten minutes a day.
  • Simplify your life.  Life gets cluttered and clutter takes up a lot of space.

Example 1: Clutter in your home.  That actually pulls your attention from other things.  It’s hard to manage life when you are surrounded by things, and piles of paper and undone tasks.  Change that pattern and de-clutter your home, car and office space.  This will help you focus.

Example 2: Clutter in your life.  This comes in the form of people, activities, and commitments.  Sometimes less is more.  We tend to give of our time to so many things that then we really are not offering anyone anything much of value.  Or, we are offering a lot to others but in the process neglecting ourselves.  Simplify commitments.  Pick your top 5 priorities and do those!  Make fitness one of them.  Pick the people who you want in your life and make time for them.  You can’t make time for everyone.  The reality is that some individuals are actually a drain on your productiveness.  Begin to recognize that and make the necessary changes.

People often think health and fitness is basic.  You exercise, eat right and achieve it.  That is the foundation, but taking a closer look at what prevents us from doing that is the way we can actually achieve these goals.  Fitness and wellness is a life approach.  It’s a philosophy.  It is less about an act and more about a mindset.  If you can get to that mindset, the rest will come easy.

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Running Tips: Creating Your Own Beginner’s Luck

22 May
Photo Copyright Drew McKenzie

Photo copyright Drew McKenzie http://drewmckenzie.com/

Ask any runner and chances are if they haven’t been running from a young age they will respond “I didn’t like doing this when I started”. Beginning to run can be challenging but it can provide great benefits over time. When you get started don’t think of running as winning races. Think of it as moving your body just a little faster than you usually walk around the mall. Anyone has the potential to do that. Decide today that you are going to incorporate it into your routine.

To Get Started:

1) Commit – just decide this is something you are going to do. Don’t think too much about it or you will talk yourself out of it. Put on your tennis shoes and just head out.

2) Pace Yourself – When you begin run as far as your body will allow. When you reach a point where you can’t go anymore stop and walk for a bit. Pay careful attention to how your body reacts. Don’t try to overdo your training the first month. If you start slowly you are more apt to continue.

3) Improve – Each day you run go just a bit farther than you did before. Maintain this pattern until you are running greater distances with ease. Don’t think about the entire run as you get started; just convince yourself to go for one more minute.

To Keep Going:

1) Schedule – Figure out what the best time of day for you to run is and stick with that. For many it’s early morning. Getting it done early ensures that you make time.

2) Fuel Positive Energy. The “I think I Can” attitude is always what allows us to accomplish our goals. Make a point to put quotes on your bulletin board, read success stories of runners, and subscribe to blogs. These things will keep running fresh in your mind and help you stay focused.

Overcoming Challenging Days:

1) There will be days when you struggle to get going. Just commit to five minutes and allow yourself to stop if you can’t make it. Generally once you get started you will keep going until you get to the end.

2) Enlist a support group. Join a running club, find a partner or become part of an online accountability group. These will foster support and motivation.

3) Reward Yourself. Set goals and when you achieve them do something nice for yourself. You might decide to treat yourself to a new running accessory every time you reach a certain distance. 4) Use mantras. Positive self-talk while you are running is critical. You CAN do this! Use phrases such as this:

Every day I get a little stronger and a little faster.

 I will not see results immediately but that doesn’t mean I am not making progress.

 I am worth it. I can do this.

I am improving with every step.

Want to read runner’s tips? Check Runner’s World Magazine at http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267–14131-0,00.html  for more info. Good luck in your journey. Remember, once you get started, you’ll never look back!

Exercise of the Week: Activate Those Glutes!

10 May

It’s been said that one of the things that can help you go from a good athlete to a great athlete is developing your glutes.  Working with resistance bands is highly effective in helping you achieve this goal.  This exercise, if done properly, can produce excellent results.  Beginners should start with one band around their ankles.  Advanced individuals can add another band just above the knee for added resistance.

Step #1: Start with your feet hip width apart .  Place the band accordingly, squat down and ensure your toes stays inward.

Step #2: Push through the heel and take a step.  Alternate sides.

Everytime I do this exercise I feel my legs and glutes building muscle!  As a runner, I tend to lose a good deal of my glute muscles and this exercise helps to maintain and build.  In addition, come race time it also helps me develop the strength to power through those last miles in a race.

Thank you to Scott Keppel and Kelli Michelle from Scott’s Training Systems http://www.scottstrainingsystems.com/  for demonstrating this exercise.

What’s Holding You Back? How to Get Fit, Achieve Your Goals and be Simply Amazing

5 May

Do you have goals to get in shape yet fail to achieve them?  Better yet, do you have goals in life that seem overwhelming and unattainable?  Why is that and what are you doing to do to change it?  Getting fit requires dedication and persistence; there is no arguing that fact.  However, many people are aware of that and willing to dedicate time to improving their health.  The greater issue that holds some of us back might just be the fear of failure.

What does this look like?  Consider this example.  Including strength training in your routine is beneficial for a multitude of reasons and just spending fifteen minutes on the weight room floor at some point during your workout can produce positive results.  So do you do it?  If not, why?  The why for some of you could be:

1)      You feel uncomfortable on the weight room floor because you don’t know how to use the equipment well.

2)      You worry people will stare at you.

3)      You mostly feel like you will look like a fool up there because you have no idea what you are doing. (You know this is true!  I feel like this all the time.  To this day I still feel uncomfortable on the weight room floor by myself).

At the root of this is that you worry how people will perceive you.  You fear you will be judged negatively.  So, what I say to this is who cares?  What if you were willing to risk judgment and hit the weights?  Do it wrong, ask for help, jump in like you were meant to be there.  Chances are things would turn out much better than expected.  You might even find you like being there and enjoy the results you achieve.

Let’s take this same scenario when it comes to running and racing.  There are a lot of people who say “I can’t run.”  I’m just going to call you out on that and say in 90% of the cases I’m not buying that.  I will agree with the fact that maybe running a marathon in less than four hours for you is not in the cards.  However, running takes all different forms.  You can do intervals of running and walking.  You can do short jogs, you can trail run which takes some of the pressure off your joints.  As a matter of fact, you can even run in a pool if you wanted.  Have you ever thought, maybe I should run a race and then decided it was a bad idea?  Why did you do that?  Maybe it’s because:

1)      You thought you were not fast enough.

2)      You worried you might not finish it.

3)      The training scared you off.

4)      You were worried people might look at you because you are not a good runner.  They might say, “Why is she running this?”

The reality is that simply by showing up you have achieved something far greater than you could have imagined.  You have conquered your fear and said I am willing to fail.  This line of thinking doesn’t only relate to physical fitness, it relates to everything in life.  People succeed because they are willing to try.  Those who have achieved great things did it because they didn’t listen to the voice inside their head that said “It might be too much work, you might not succeed, and people will judge you.”

We can learn a lot from children about success and happiness.  Think about when you were a young child and how you perceived world.  What did you think was possible?  Did you ever say I want to be the president of the United States, or an astronaut or a professional baseball player?  You probably did and were completely serious.  When did we stop doing that?  Think about that.

Be willing to risk, try something different.  You are amazing.  People might tell you that you are not but the minute you start believing that you’ve failed.  You have to risk achieving your goals.  It requires being scared, being judged and being vulnerable, but in doing so the rewards are plentiful.  You HAVE to be willing to look like a fool to be amazing.

In the words of Seth Godin, “You become a winner because you are good loosing.”  Get comfortable with loosing, being the dumbest person in the room, looking like a fool, being out of your league and trying things that others don’t believe are possible.  Surrounding yourself with people who think this way as well helps.  Find people who say “yes you can.”  Pay little attention to the critics that say it can’t be done or doubt you.  Find those individuals that you can call up on a whim, share your accomplishments and they will cheer for you.  Be that person for others as well!  I promise if you begin to think this way you will achieve greatness, and even better yet, you will likely inspire others in your journey.

Keeping Your Gym Smell Under Wraps

2 May

Smelling at the gym is a necessary evil.  While it might not be appealing to those around you, it’s actually the body’s way of keeping you cool as your temperature rises and riding your body of the toxins you produce on a regular basis.  When the body sweats in produces acid in various sweat areas.  This acid is secreted and when it makes contact with the air and dries is produces a sour smell.  Sweat is also considered a food source for bacteria living on the skin; thus, when it reaches the top layer of your skin bacteria begins to feed off of it producing an unappealing smell..Obviously we are not going to prevent sweating, especially for those who make exercise a regular practice; however, there are steps to take that help mitigate smell.

Practice Good Hygiene:  It goes without saying that showering on a regular basis is critical for controlling smell.  Many people underestimate the value of using a loofah when showering.  A loofah exfoliates and removes the outer layer of dead skin.  Its added benefits include increasing circulation and making skin softer, smoother and cleaner.  Loofahs can be purchased at any local drug store and should be replaced every 3 months for optimal effectiveness.  Wearing a deodorant designed for high activity levels is imperative.  Consider trying Degree Men’s Sport Deodorant.

Care for Gym Clothing and Equipment: Always wear clean clothing to the gym and wash items as soon as possible after exercising.  The best way to clean exercise clothing is by washing in extra hot water with a sport detergent (Consider Pro Wash Active Wear Detergent).  In addition, adding a cup of baking soda to the wash can help rid gym clothing of smells.  Keep your gym bag smelling fresh by leaving it open every night to air out and using products such as Febreeze Sport Extreme Odor to help prevent smells. An effective way to control odors from tennis shoes is by placing fabric softener dryer sheets in them after your work out.  Caring for your gym bag is essential and investing in a washable bag is helpful.  If you change clothing after the gym, particularly if your clothing will sit in a gym bag for any length of time, placed soiled items in Ziploc Sports Bags to control the smell from seeping into your bag.

Focus on Lifestyle: Diet plays a major role in body odor.  Certain food, particularly spices such as garlic and curry, can produce ill-smelling sweat.  In addition, certain studies indicate caffeine consumption can actually produce sweat and increase excessive odor.  Consider what you consume and how you might regulate that.  Stay hydrated and avoid consuming high levels of alcohol.  Finally, wear clothing made of natural fibers such as cotton and silk to prevent sweat from being trapped against your body.

Keep in mind that you are less likely to smell your own odor and women are actually better at recognizing body odor.  There is nothing worse than being next to someone at the gym who smells bad.  Using the tips above will help you keep yourself clean and fresh.   If you have taken steps to control body odor and are still suffering consider seeing your doctor or dermatologist.  Sweat and body odor, while normal, in certain cases can be indicative of illness or vitamin deficiencies.