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Incorporating Self-Care Into Your Fitness Routine

Self-care is extra important during change of seasons. Please enjoy this article by our guest blogger Sheila Olson.

Sheila has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.

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Self-care isn’t some new-age construct involving incense, candles, and chanting. It’s actually a critical component to living a healthier lifestyle that includes a balanced blend of fitness and relaxation. Many gyms have even incorporated self-care classes in their efforts to offer a well-rounded fitness experience for their clients. That just goes to show you how important self-care is to your overall health and wellness.

 

Self-Care for Your Fitness Routine

 

The key to a successful fitness routine is scheduling it into your day along with meetings and your kiddo’s dance lessons. Whether it’s a bi-weekly zumba or yoga class, a nightly jog around the neighborhood, or weightlifting and cardio, create a dedicated spot in your schedule to accommodate those activities.

 

When you’re working out, don’t overtrain. Rest days are critical for allowing muscles to recover. Most experts recommend allowing your body one day of rest after every two consecutive workout days. When you find that your body recovers more slowly, take a longer break — about eight to 10 days should do the trick.

 

You should also incorporate variety into your workouts. Mixing up routines also reduces the possibility of overtraining. Have sore legs from lots of running? Try laps in the pool instead. Spend an hour lifting weights five or six days a week? Consider opting for HIIT training or cardio-kickboxing a day or two instead.

 

Top trainers also recommend incorporating breathing exercises during workout sessions. Trainers also emphasize the necessity of warming up and cooling down muscles and hydrating regularly. Keep your mind 100 percent focused on your workout; unplug from social media, work emails, texts, or television shows. Create a playlist of inspirational songs and zone to the beat. Listen to your body’s signals, and treat yourself to a massage or long soak after a sweat session.

 

Find Your Relaxation Zen

 

Everyone benefits from relaxing, and you can do it in any way that feels good to you. For many people, self-care takes on the stereotypical look of a spa day. You can venture out to a nearby hotel or resort, or you can do it yourself at home as Angie’s List recommends. Put on some mood music, brew a cup of tea, and whip up a facial to restore your mind, body, and spirit.

 

Other people love a good hobby like knitting, coloring books, reading, or gardening to destress and relax. And everyone should prioritize sleep, which facilitates healing, reduces anxiety and stress, and improves memory. Treat yourself to luxurious sheets and soft, plump pillows. Add a noise machine and dark curtains. Unplug from electronics an hour before bedtime. Develop your own calming routine to help your body relax into sleep.

 

If you like sweets, have a bite of chocolate. Studies show that the magnesium present in chocolates helps relaxation. The popular treat also contains phenylethylamine — an endorphin-raising neurotransmitter — and anandamide, which fosters feelings of peace. You may also want to indulge in tryptophan-rich foods, like nuts, cheese, poultry, and soybeans. This nutrient raises serotonin levels that elevate moods and melatonin, which facilitates easier sleep.

 

Finally, try spending some time with your loved ones. Hugs and cuddles do wonders to reduce stress by lowering the stress hormone, cortisol.Furthermore, physical contact — with humans and pets — raises the love hormone, oxytocin. The old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine,” holds true here, too. Laughter lifts our spirits and also reduces stress levels.

 

Mindfulness Matters

 

Ultimately, incorporating self-care into your fitness routine is about finding balance. Schedule your workouts, but leave room for chilling out. Push yourself, but rest and relax in between. Commit to moving every single day, but choose activities you enjoy. Above all, remember that overall wellness includes a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

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It's A Resolution Free Year

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!!! 

I wish you a most beautiful 2018 and that you come closer to your goals. If you would like some help, here are some steps to help you set concrete steps to reach them! 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
— Laozi
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It's one thing to set a resolution. Another to get it done, or, at least, get closer towards it. 
We've all heard it, seen it and perhaps even done it (raising hand here) if you go to the gym - you have to wait to get on a treadmill or get into a group class in January and by the time March rolled around, the place is a ghost town. What happened? Most people have a goal, but only about half will set out to write an actual plan and step by step, to reach it.  

I want to share how to take out the guess work by using SMART and behavioral goal setting and planning to rock on forward so we need no more new year resolutions, ever! Because by doing so, we will continue to work on whatever goals and dreams we have, day after day. Consistency is the key!

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Give yourself about 30 minutes to do this. You will need a piece of paper and a pen, maybe a calendar to look at dates and schedules. 

SMART goals 

  • Specific – clearly defined in such a way anyone could understand what the intended outcome is. Detailed description of what is to be accomplished. "I want to reduce 10% of body fat", "I want to do 10 body weight pull ups".
  • Measurable – quantifiable. Establish a way to access the progress toward each goal. If goal cannot be measured one cannot manage it. "Being able to take measurements once a week or bi weekly", "journaling pull up progress from day one".
  • Attainable – right amount of goals that are challenging, but not too overwhelming.
  • Realistic – goals an individual is both willing and able to work towards to. For this one we will give examples of what is NOT realistic: "I want to fly like Superman", "I want to do 100 pull ups in 15 seconds".
  • Timely – have a specific date of completion. Realistic but not too distant in the future so it becomes a dreadful thing (breaking long term goals into short term goals is helpful here). "by March 1st I will have reduced 2% of body fat", "by February 1st I will do 3 pull ups and by March 1st I will do 5." 

A complete example would be -

By June 15th 2018 at 9am, I will have reduced 10% of body fat. Therefore, the first 3 months I will go down 2% of body fat each month. April I will go down 1.5%, May I will reduce another 1.5% and the final 1% in June. 

I will weigh and measure myself bi-weekly and keep a log with progress photos. 

*Note - I have found that if you have an "event" as a deadline, you are even more likely to reach your goal. For example: scheduling a photoshoot for a weight reduction goal or a weight lifting competition for your strength goal. 

 Before - 180lb-ish & After - 135lb-ish (If you are wondering what the wrappy thing is - it's a baby carrier and a fashion trend was set... not.)  

Before - 180lb-ish & After - 135lb-ish (If you are wondering what the wrappy thing is - it's a baby carrier and a fashion trend was set... not.)  

Behavioral goals (BGs)

In my humble opinion, BGs are more important than setting smart goals. If SMART goal is our destination then BGs are the roads and maps for us to get here. 

BGs are all about how you will get to that final achievement. Let's stick with the above SMART goal as an example (also because I'm proud that I came up with a good one!) -

  • I will go to the gym Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after work. 
  • I will train with my trainer on Mondays. Wednesdays I will take a spin class and Fridays I will lift weights and do 15 minutes of cardio on my own.
  • I will have breakfast every morning.
  • I will eat slowly and put down my fork in between bites and eat till 80% full.
  • I will have only one treat a week until I have dropped my first 3% of body fat, then I will revisit this around mid February. 
  • I will sleep at least 7 hours a night, which means I need to go to bed by 9:30pm. 
  • If I stick to my goal of dropping 2% body fat at the end of January, I will reward myself with a pair of new pants. 

You get the point? Break it down as detail as it's needed, HOWEVER, if we come up with a long list, it's better to pick one or two BGs to work on for a week or two. Once we are successful with the new habits, then add in a new one, and so on. Remember to set a reward goal! If we do all of our BGs at once, it is a recipe for failure because we will most likely get smothered and we will feel like giving up. 

BGs are also goals that we revisit often to see if it's working. If sleeping 7 hours a night proves to be impossible, what needs to change? Why not? Are you doing a Stranger Things marathon? Do you need a love one to hide your TV? 

I hope this helps you moving forward in achieving your goals and dreams in greatness. As usual, if you have question, leave us a comment or shoot us an email! Happy new year!!!!! 

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    Holiday Party Survival Tips

    Ahhh, the holiday time! Where the leaves turn yellow and burgundy and gently float down to the ground like weightless feathers. If at least most of us survive through this time of the year without putting on "too much" weight...

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    Well, this year we are shedding light on tips you can utilize when you are at holiday gatherings, and hopefully in turn we will help you shed some stress and worries!

    1. Get your heart pumping before sitting down for that meal - Get a workout in, even if it's only 10 minutes. But make it worth your while. "During an acute bout of exercise, the increased need for metabolic fuel is met by increases in both carbohydrate and fat utilization in the skeletal muscle. Glucose is taken up from blood into the working skeletal muscles." (from humankinetics.com) This translate into the body having better regulation of the energy consumed during that feast and less going into storage VS sub-optimal regulation and directly into storage as fat. 

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    Sample workout (no equipment needed) 

    • Jumping jacks x 30 reps
    • Push ups x 20 reps
    • Mountain Climbers x 30 reps
    • Squats x 20 reps
    • Jumping jacks x 30 reps
    • Plank x 30 seconds
    • Mountain Climbers x 30 reps
    • Perform all of the above without rest in between exercises, then rest for 15 to 30 seconds then perform the whole circuit one to two more times

    2. Eat slowly during your meal - when you eat slowly you give your body time to register the amount of food you have ingested. It takes time for the brain to receive hormonal signals from your stomach so if you are a fast eater, by the time your brain says "STOP, you are full" you have already over indulged. The unused calories then gets stored as fat. Set down your fork in between bites, enjoy several conversations while you are eating are all good ways to help you eat slowly. 

    3. Stop when you are 80% full - this one will require you to recruit tip number 2, eating slowly. Without eating mindfully and slowly, you will not be able to know when is 80% full. This tip may require some practice as most of us in the western culture have forgotten how to gauge our fullness when it comes to eating. If you don't feel satiated after a while, then you can eat a little bit more.  

    4. Go for a light to moderate walk for 20 to 30 minute after your meal - this aids in digestions and will help kicking up your metabolism. 

    5. Be prepared, both mind and body- often times we are used to the idea of "it's the holidays so it's normal for me to eat a lot and gain some weight". But is it really "normal"? Prepare your mindset and remember that you can always save something you enjoyed eating for later or politely ask for a to-go portion. If you are really worried about what foods are going to be provided at the gatherings, it's a good idea to have a healthy pre-party meal or snack so you are less likely to fill up on sugars. Remember, what your body doesn't use, it ends up getting stored as fat. 

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    We hope this helps a bit whether we attend or prepare for holiday parties. This is a beautiful time to come together to celebrate and be grateful of what we have, stressing about how we are going to survive the holiday times really defeat its purpose! Enjoy and please feel free to reach out if we can help you! 

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    How to Eat For Healing and Recovery

    The story goes - 

    In early July of this year I got into a fight (yes, that's right, a fight!). I strapped on my ice skating shoes and got into the rink for the second time ever in my life (my first was when I was 15, which was, like, you know, um, 3 years ago!). Oh, the fun we had! Until I fell freakishly and felt the pain radiating out from my right ankle. I don't know which hurt more, giving birth naturally or spraining an ankle. 

    Except, it was not a sprained ankle. It was a fractured one.

    And the rest, as we say, is history. 

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    Injuries are not uncommon. While I was healing I came across many different others that were injured, so hopefully this article (focused on bone healing) can help you or a friend/loved ones have a smoother road during the recovering phase. Also, when you properly heal your injuries, you will be able to move better and decrease your re-injury rate down the road!

    The quickie on how the body heal when it comes to (bone) injuries:

    1. Inflammation - Pain, swelling and redness (heat). The physical injury leads to cell death. The inflammation is the body sending a cleaning crew to sweep out the dead stuff and replace with new cells. This clean up crew include a host of chemicals, plasmas and blood proteins.  

    Although painful and irritating, we need the inflammatory process for repair. Without inflammation, injuries wouldn’t heal. So any attempt to eliminate inflammation is a mistake in the initial stages of an acute injury. - Precision Nutrition on inflammation

    * Please note that chronic injury is a different story, as prolong inflammation can be harmful. 

    2. Soft Callus formation - Pain and swelling decrease and new bone starts to form. At this point they are weaker than healthy bones.

    3. Hard Callus formation - New bones continues to form and covering the incomplete soft callus.

    4. Remodeling - The injured site makes any adjustment necessary to resemble a healthy bone. This stage can take up to few years to occur and the bone goes through different healing phases. Eventually the healed bone reassembles the strength and shape of the original bone. (Myth: new bones are stronger, which is not true.)

    Now, the fun stuff! What to eat to help with healing:

    For anti-inflammatory - High omega 3 foods such as fish, nuts, and healthy oils. A fish oil supplement is a great option. Fruits such as pineapple and papaya is great because they have proteolytic enzymes. Other foods to include are garlic, turmeric, green tea and berries. My favorite go to for turmeric supplement is from Thorne Research.

    For bone reforming and healing -

    Protein: It is important to have adequate amount of protein as this is the building block of your muscles and cartilage. Meat from healthy sources, legumes, and supplements. 

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    Healthy and balanced fats: 1:1:1 parts of fats in saturated (bacon, chicken), monounsaturated (nuts, avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (fish, flax). 

    Vegetables and fruits: The only place you can get phytonutrients, which support many different functions in your body and will help you to heal like wolverine! (ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration...) Not to mention all the vitamins and minerals you get here as well.

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    Carbs: Choose minimally processed carbs, such as brown rice and quinoa. You won't need as much as when you were training but you still need some. A good rule of thumb is to have a golf ball to fist size of carb with each meal. 

    How about supplements? They can be extremely useful especially in athletes and people that were more active before injury. 

    Arginine - To help maintain lean mass since it' likely you will not be training or training a lot less.

    HMB - To help maintain lean mass since it' likely you will not be training or training a lot less.

    Glutamine - To help with bone healing. (Study from NCBI)

    So there you go! A quick summary of how to eat for healing and recovering so you can get back into kicking asses in no time! Do let me know if you have any questions. I'm here for you. 

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    Essential Advice for Aging Gracefully by Karen Weeks

    September is Healthy Aging Month, Karen Week from www.Elderwellness.net has gifted us with today's article to age gracefully as we grow wiser! Thanks Karen! 


    Age is only a number, right? Well, if we’re being honest, age is much more than that. It is
    wrinkles. It is arthritis. But it is also perspective and acceptance of life’s ups and downs.

       
  
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    Photo via  Pixabay

    Photo via Pixabay

    Aging for most means entering the retirement stage, which is like the pot of gold and the end of a life’s labor. This stage can be marked by a carefree attitude, ample time to spend with friends and loved ones, eye-opening travel, and an acceptance of aging which is nothing short of blissful. To maximise this bliss, it is wise for a senior to take on new hobbies to keep their mind sharp as they enjoy the twilight of life. Whether it means gardening, cycling, concert-going, or the countless other hobbies the world has to offer, keeping busy will help provide reward during life’s later years.

    Eating Right

    It doesn’t matter which stage of life you find yourself in. The first step to staying healthy is maintaining a nutrient-rich diet. The effects of diet on our physical health is well-known. However, as Mental Health Foundation explains, a poor diet can also increase the risk of mental health problems including depression and Alzheimer’s, among other.

    Advanced age is already a risk factor for developing physical health issues, and maintaining peak mental acuity is only possible with a strong diet. The National Council on Aging recommends that seniors ingest plenty of fruits and vegetables as a staple of their diet. In addition, lean meats, seafood, eggs, and beans will provide ample protein to fuel the aging body. Lastly, whole grain foods and low-fat dairy products will serve to create a well-balanced diet for anybody, especially those with some tread on their tires.

    Keep Active

    You know the flip side to diet when it comes to staying healthy at any age: exercise. As the years pass, our bodies impose limits on us when it comes to exercising. We must abide by our bones and joints, so some activities are more suited to the senior exercise circuit than others.

    Healthline cites some examples of light aerobic exercises that cater to an older demographic. Tai chi, various forms of dancing, light swimming, and fast-paced walking will get the aging heart pumping without overdoing it. Depending on age and fitness, sports such as tennis and golf may be a more competitive and fun way to stay in shape.

    One increasingly popular option for exercise which has also been shown to improve mental clarity is yoga. Mind, Body, Green lists some of the anti-aging effects of regular yoga as enhanced balance, flexibility, strength, breathing, and body awareness. For older demographics, it may just be a way to break a sweat, but they will gain these additional benefits as a result of the occasional downward dogging.

    Hobbies, Hobbies, Hobbies

     Hobbies are another way for seniors to keep busy, exercising their mind while finding maximum pleasure during their ample downtime. For seniors who have a past plagued by addiction, aging can make them prone to slipping back into old habits. An abundance of hobbies will help ensure that their mind remains occupied by things other than drugs and alcohol.

    A Place for Mom lists hobbies which are not too strenuous, including card games, volunteering, and arts and crafts including drawing and painting. For those looking for some higher-energy hobbies, gardening may be the ideal activity, as it promotes both mental and physical health and is downright fun. Finding a routine activity that can be truly enjoyed is just one key to aging gracefully.

    Conclusion

    The prospect of getting older is daunting for virtually everyone. Losing the cool factor, facing increased risk of health issues, and the decline of our youthful looks often loom larger than the benefits of getting older. However, the perks of aging can be many, and there is much we can do to make old age great again. If one continues to eat right, exercise, and occupy their time with worthwhile hobbies, the older years can easily become the golden years.

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