Fit Tips

How to Grow a Couch Potato

I grew up at the dawn of the computer age.  Atari was the latest craze and kids still went outside to play in the afternoons when they got home from school.  However, I have this great mom that taught me things like fast food is a delicacy, dessert comes with every meal, and sports and rigorous physical activity are meant for athletes.  It’s not surprising that I tipped the scale at two hundred pounds by the time I turned thirteen.

As I reached my early twenties, I realized that my weight was making me very unhappy.  I began a strict diet and exercise program.  I would lose the weight and then return to my regular lifestyle of fast food and inactivity.  Needless to say, I would quickly gain the weight back and add on a little more for good measure.  Soon, I realized that I needed to make a lifestyle change.  Having no idea what that meant, I returned to college and pursued a degree in Health Promotion.  Today, I manage my weight with a much healthier lifestyle and daily activity.

I now own a personal training business at the YWCA and I use my personal experiences to help other people learn how to make some of these same lifestyle changes.  However, I do believe that the root of my problem was that I never learned how to be healthy when I was a kid.  Having grown up overweight, I now see this problem all around me.  When I was in school I was the one who was different because of my weight.  Today, kids everywhere are sedentary and overweight.  Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2001 indicated that 25% of all white children are overweight and 33% of all African American and Hispanic children are overweight.  Those numbers are even higher today. Furthermore, the number of overweight children increased by 400% between 1982 and 1994.  400%!  So, my question for you is this…are you growing couch potatoes?!  We must remember that our children learn by example.  Exercise alongside your children.  Teach them healthy eating habits by practicing them yourself.  Enroll them in group sports and encourage them to participate in an active lifestyle.  This summer, choose experiences for your child that will help them to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle and how great it feels to be active.  Remember, it is paramount that you lead by example!  Do it for your health and theirs.

Industrial Strength Certified Personal Training offers a variety of training options for both adults and children.   Call Joe Montgomery at 704-996-0411 for more information.

Horizontal Body Weight Pull Up

Here’s a great exercise that with benefits that include:

  • – Integrated closed chain pulling strength and improved scapular rhythm.
  • – Hypertrophy of the Rear Delts, Rhomboids, Traps, and Lats (relatively).

Pre-Requisites :

  • – The client must display adequate shoulder flexibility and strength to perform this exercise with proper scapular rhythm.
  • – Common weakness can be seen in elevation and protraction during the movement.

Preparation :
Place hands on Smith Machine bar with palms facing forward. Your grip width should be at least shoulder width apart with entire body hanging straight down.

Movement :

  • – From the start position, draw your belly button inward toward your spine.
  • – Maintaining optimum spinal alignment, in a controlled manner, pull your body upward towards the Smith bar.  The shoulder blades should move downward and in while the arms follow.
  • – Only move as far as you can control core stability and return to the start position.
  • – The return motion must include shoulder girdle upward rotation and elevation under CONTROL.  Note: The return motion should be stopped just before the muscles relax.
  • – Do not allow head to “jet” forward.
  • – Relax arms as much as possible, placing the emphasis on back muscles.
  • – Do not round back!
  • – Common mistakes to avoid:  Raising the legs to help start the pulling motion, rotating the shoulders forward, hunching up the shoulders by the ears (indicating possible weakness in lower-mid shoulder girdle musculature), arching low back and rocking body.

Click here for step-by-step photos of the Horizontal Body Weight Pull-Up

10 Benefits of Personal Training

Source: Healthworks Fitness

With summer right around the corner I begin thinking shorts, tank tops, sun dresses and bathing suits!  These thoughts are often enough to get someone stepping back into the gym.  But, how many times have you set new fitness goals for yourself only to lose interest in a couple of weeks?  We all need a little help sometimes.  As a trainer, I sometimes struggle through the same flux of motivation and feelings of unfulfilled fruitless efforts as the average gym goer.  And it is for this reason that I capitalize on the tremendous benefits of working with a personal trainer.  Personal trainers are not just for stars and athletes.  Every single person can benefit from working with a trainer.  Personal training is truly an investment in one’s own health and well-being. Let’s take a look at the reasons why all people, including myself, achieve more working with a personal trainer.

ACCOUNTABILITY & MOTIVATION- Trainers are experts at holding you accountable. You have a set, paid appointment. Your trainer will be there waiting for you with a smile on his/her face each and every time you show up. They help you to not only develop your own personalized goals but to also develop a realistic and achievable plan to attain these goals. Trainers have the ability to believe in you even when you are feeling at your lowest and don’t believe in yourself. “CAN’T” is not in a trainer’s vocabulary.

DEVELOP A ROUTINE- Sure, it’s easy to get to the gym and hop on the elliptical, but then what? Trainers are educated on the most effective ways to help you get to your fitness goals. They will work with you to develop a routine that makes since and is realistic for you. If you haven’t worked out in months and are just returning to the gym, a trainer will not expect you to begin a fitness regimen consisting of 60 minute routines 5 days a week. A trainer will help you to figure out what makes since in your life that will maximize your time in the gym but not overwhelm you. They will work with you to develop an exercise routine that takes you on the path to achieving your personal goals. All along the way holding you accountable and providing motivation!

FRESH NEW PERSPECTIVES & IDEAS ON HEALTH, NUTRITION, AND FITNESS- There is an overwhelming amount of fitness, nutrition, and health information available. It is impossible for the average person to have time to sift through this information for what is most valid, accurate and up to date. It is the job of the trainer to stay on top of health trends and continue their education in order to provide you with the safest and most accurate information in the industry. Is that new fad diet really effective? Will I really get a bikini body by doing that popular workout? Is it true what I read in this fitness magazine? These are just some of the questions trainers deal with on a daily basis. Trainers are able to use their education, knowledge and experience to provide you with tips and tricks to help you develop a healthier lifestyle. We are constantly sharing recipes and ways to contend with obstacles in your nutrition such as “candy in the office”, or how to manage menu’s when dining out with friends. Often trainers are the first to say, “Hey, you’ve been complaining about this for a little bit. Maybe you should go see a doctor, massage therapist, nutritionist, etc.” We see you on a regular basis and are able to recognize if something is different or just not right and are happy to point it out and refer you to the appropriate expert. We care about your health and well-being! And we will hold you accountable to taking care of yourself nutritionally, physically, and with your overall health!

SOLID, CONSISTENT, NON-JUDGMENTAL SUPPORT- Not everyone has your best interest in mind. Your trainer, though, only cares about you and your success. Your trainer will be there. Each hour you spend with your trainer is an hour to focus on you and only you! They will provide consistent feedback to help you better yourself and achieve your goals. Most importantly, the trainer is able to do this without making you feel inadequate or judged. We have all gone into the gym and worried about what we look like doing an exercise or compared ourselves to someone else. Trainers don’t judge or derogate. They help you to see all of your successes, big and small, even when you can’t see them yourself. Through this support, trainers will hold you accountable and motivate you, despite your feelings about yourself!

PROPER TECHNIQUE & FORM- Watching all the you tube videos in the world and reading all the fitness magazines, does not substitute having a person by your side providing you immediate feedback on form and technique. It is very easy to hurt yourself in the gym. Trainers pay attention, cue both your mind and your body and help you achieve your goals more quickly by making sure you are doing each exercise correctly. They can help you develop better running form, improve your posture, and increase your strength by teaching you to recruit the proper muscles and making a mind body connection. With each exercise trainers will hold you accountable to proper form and technique preventing injury!

INJURY PREVENTION and/or INJURY REHAB- Often people shy away from equipment in the gym because they are afraid of hurting themselves. Likewise, one may stop attending the gym due to an injury. Trainers will teach you how to use equipment properly so that you do not injure yourself. Trainers will also work with you to prevent injuries in everyday life by helping you increase your balance, flexibility, and core strength. They are able to focus on specific exercises that will benefit you based on your activities of daily living. And in the chance that you have suffered an injury, trainers are able to work with you to safely exercise, keep your range of motion, and get your strength back. Just recently, I broke my leg. My trainer did not let me stop working out. After communicating with my physical therapist, we were able to develop a plan for me to keep up my upper body strength and begin rehab on my leg. A personal trainer will not let you use an injury as an excuse to not workout!!

SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING- Are you an athlete? Even a recreational athlete can get better at their sport. Trainers have studied body patterns and movements. They know the best exercises to help you develop strength, endurance, speed, and agility for your sport. A trainer will know if you have been keeping up your routine through your performance and will hold you accountable to the sports specific exercises in your program!

MAXIMIZE WORKOUT/MINIMIZE TIME- You will burn more calories in less time when working with a trainer. A trainer develops a program that is efficient and allows you to get the most in, in the shortest amount of time. Time does not need to be lost at the gym. If you are finding it hard to find time to workout, not only will a trainer help you to get the most out of your work out, but they will teach you how you can do that on your own. Each week trainers will follow up to see if you achieved our workout goals for the week, holding you accountable to exercise on your own time and make tweaks to the program to help you be successful!

PERSONALIZED PROGRAM- Personal training is just that, PERSONAL! A trainer will develop a program that is specific to you and your goals. If you have an injury, if you want to climb a mountain, if you want lose weight to become pregnant, have lower back pain… The program will be specific to you and only you! A program your trainer takes the time to develop and teach to you. You know they are going to hold you accountable to achieving the goals of that program!

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING- Some of my favorite time during the week is with my clients. You develop a relationship with your trainer like no other. Your relationship is very personal. There are not very many people whom you share your goals so specifically, who in turn will work so diligently to help you achieve them. Often that hour (or two, or three) a week you spend with your trainer, is the only time in your week that is truly devoted to you, your goals, and your successes. I have had sessions in which my client is angry and just wants to workout. There is no talking for the hour. I have had sessions with clients who have recently lost a loved one and their hour with me is their time to escape. I also have sessions with clients where they are so excited to share with me their personal successes and how what we are doing in training is translating into their life outside the gym. Often times intimate details of life are shared in sessions and I am so grateful that people trust me enough to allow me these details. It is these personal relationships and the intimate knowledge of who you are that helps the trainer work specifically with you and to hold you accountable to your goals!

Although this post is titled 10 Benefits of Personal Training I thought it was important to emphasize the eleventh. The one that is reoccurring through each bullet point. The benefit that above all is most important.

RESULTS- Working with a trainer will allow you to achieve the results that you cannot achieve on your own. Each person’s goals are extremely personal. Whether it be weight loss, injury rehab, or companionship. A trainer is going to develop goals that will lead you down a path to success. As a trainer, I work diligently with each of my clients to help them recognize their results, tangible and intangible, as well as results they never anticipated having. It is these results that not only hold you accountable to me, but they hold me, your trainer, accountable to you!

Fitness & Nutrition Tip: Worst Foods You Can Eat

If you want to stay fit and healthy, keep these foods off your plate!

20. Worst Fast Food Chicken Meal
Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips from McDonald’s (5 pieces) with creamy ranch sauce
830 calories 55g fat (4.5g trans fat) 48g carbs
The only thing “premium” about these strips is the caloric price you pay. Add a large fries and regular soda and this seemingly innocuous chicken meal tops out at 1,710 calories.

19. Worst Drink
Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo’d Power Smoothie(30 fl oz)
900 calories10 g fat 183 g carbs (166 g sugar)
Jamba Juice calls it a smoothie; we call it a milk shake. In fact, this beverage contains more sugar than two pints of Ben and Jerry’s Butter Pecan ice cream.

18. Worst Supermarket Meal
Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie (whole pie)
1,020 calories 64 g fat 86 g carbs
The label may say this pie serves two, but who ever divided a small pot pie in half? Once you crack the crust, there will be no stopping. Pick a Better Pie: Swanson’s pot pie has just 400 calories.

17. Worst “Healthy” Burger
Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger
1,145 calories 71 g fat 56 g carbs
We chose this burger for more than its calorie payload: Its name implies that it’s healthy.

16. Worst Mexican Entree
Chipotle Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito
1,179 calories 7 g fat 125 g carbs 2,656 mg sodium
Despite a reputation for using healthy, fresh ingredients, Chipotle’s menu is limited to king-size burritos, overstuffed tacos, and gigantic salads —all of which lead to a humongous waistline.

15. Worst Kids’ Meal
Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni ‘n’ Cheese
1,210 calories 62 g fat 3,450 mg sodium
It’s like feeding your kid 1 1/2 boxes of Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese. Your Best Option: The 390-calorie Grilled Chicken and Broccoli.

14. Worst Sandwich
Quizno’s Classic Italian
1370 calories 86 g fat 4490 mg sodium
A large homemade sandwich would more likely provide about 500 calories. Cut the Calories: Isn’t it obvious? Order a small — or save half for later.

13. Worst Salad
On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef
1,450 calories 102 g fat 78 g carbs 2,410 mg sodium
This isn’t an anomaly: Five different On the Border salads on the menu contain more than 1,100 calories each. The Salad for You: The Sizzling Chicken Fajita Salad supplies an acceptable 760 calories. But remember to choose a non caloric beverage, such as water or unsweetened iced tea.

12. Worst Burger
Carl’s Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger
1,520 calories 111 g fat
Carl’s brags about this, but also provides convenient nutrition info on its Web site —so ignorance is no excuse for eating it. A Simple Solution: The Low Carb Six Dollar Burger has just 490 calories.

11. Worst Steak
Lonestar 20 oz T-bone
1,540 calories 124 g fat
Add a baked potato and Lonestar’s Signature Lettuce Wedge, and this is a 2,700-calorie blowout. Choose with Your Head: The golden rule of steak restaurants is this: Limit yourself to a 9-ouncer or smaller. After all, that’s more than half a pound of meat. You won’t walk away hungry.

10. Worst Breakfast
Bob Evans Caramel Banana Pecan Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes
1,540 calories 77 g fat (9 g trans fat) 198 g carbs (109 g sugar)
Five Egg McMuffins yield the same caloric cost as these sugar-stuffed flapjacks. Order This Instead: The Western Omelet has 654 calories and 44 grams of protein.

9. Worst Dessert
Chili’s Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
1,600 calories 78 g fat 215 g carbs
Would you eat a Big Mac for dessert? How about three? That’s the calorie equivalent of this decadent dish. Clearly, Chili’s customers get their money’s worth. Don’t Overdo It: If you want dessert at Chili’s, order one single-serving Sweet Shot; you’ll cap your after-dinner intake at 310 calories.

8. Worst Chinese Entree
P.F. Chang’s Pork Lo Mein
1,820 calories 127 g fat 95 g carbs
The fat content in this dish alone provides more than 1,100 calories. And you’d have to eat almost five servings of pasta to match the number of carbohydrates it contains. Now, do you really need five servings of pasta? Pick Another Noodle: P.F. Chang’s Singapore Street Noodles will satisfy your craving with only 570 calories. Or try the Moo Goo Gai Pan or the Ginger Chicken & Broccoli, which have 660 calories each.

7. Worst Chicken Entree
Chili’s Honey Chipotle Crispers with Chipotle Sauce
2,040 calories 99 g fat 240 g carbs
“Crispers” refers to an extra-thick layer of bread crumbs that soaks up oil and adds unnecessary calories and carbs to these glorified chicken strips. Switch Your Selection: Order the Chicken Fajita Pita: At 450 calories and 43 grams of protein, it’s one of the healthiest entrees you’ll find in a chain restaurant.

6. Worst Fish Entree
On the Border Dos XX Fish Tacos with Rice and Beans
2,100 calories 130 g fat 169 g carbs 4,750 mg sodium
Perhaps the most misleadingly named dish in America: A dozen crunchy tacos from Taco Bell will saddle you with fewer calories. Lighten the Load: Ask for grilled fish, choose the corn tortillas instead of flour (they’re lower in calories and higher in fiber), and swap out the carbohydrate-loaded rice for grilled vegetables.

5. Worst Pizza
Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza
2,310 calories 162 g fat 123 g carbs 4,470 mg sodium
Downing this “personal” pizza is equivalent to eating 18 slices of Domino’s Crunchy Thin Crust cheese pizza. Swap Your Slices: Switch to the Sausage Flatbread Pie and avert deep-dish disaster by nearly 1,500 calories.

4. Worst Pasta
Macaroni Grill Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce
2,430 calories 128 g fat 207 g carbs 5,290 mg sodium
This meal satisfies your calorie requirements for an entire day. Downsize the Devastation: Ask for a lunch portion of this dinner dish (or any pasta on the menu, for that matter), and request regular tomato sauce instead of meat sauce. You’ll cut the calories in half.

3. Worst Nachos
On the Border Stacked Border Nachos
2,740 calories 166 g fat 191 g carbs 5,280 mg sodium
The only way you should ever consider eating these is if you’re rolling with a crew of eight. Turn away: You won’t find a decent option on the appetizer menu. Instead, turn to the Chicken Tacos on the entree portion of the menu; at 250 calories a pop, they make as good a start to your meal as you can hope for.

2. Worst Starter
Chili’s Awesome Blossom
2,710 calories 203 g fat 194 g carbs 6,360 mg sodium
Hard to believe that a single onion can wreak so much nutritional havoc, but batter and fry anything and serve it with a rich dipping sauce and your bound to do some damage. Start properly: At Chili’s, take a detour to the “Sides” menu and try the Garlic & Lime Grilled Shrimp. 4 shrimp will only cost you 160 calories.

1. The Worst Food in America
Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing
2,900 calories 182 g fat 240 g carbs
Even if you split this “starter” with three friends, you’ll have downed a dinner’s worth of calories before your entree arrives. Follow this up with a steak, sides, and a dessert and you could easily break the 3,500 calorie barrier. Front-load: Start your meal with a protein-based dish that’s not deep-fried. A high-protein starter helps diminish hunger without putting you into calorie overload. At Outback, that translates to either the Seared Ahi or the Shrimp on the Barbie.

Motion is Lotion: How exercise helps to protect your joints

There are many reasons why people exercise, but have you ever thought about how much exercise helps your joints?  Many people tend to think that when a joint hurts we need to immobilize it so it will get better. However, research shows that this simply isn’t the case.

Our joints are comprised of two bony surfaces that articulate with each other. These surfaces are covered by cartilage so that the hard surfaces of the bone don’t rub together. The entire joint space is surrounded by a capsule filled with synovial fluid which further helps to lubricate the joint as well as act as a shock absorber and nutrient source for the cartilage. A very important lubricating component of synovial fluid is hyaluronic acid (HA) which lowers its viscosity so that it can better protect your joint. Guess what helps the joint produce more HA? MOVEMENT! Guess how your cartilage gets its nutrients so that it doesn’t deteriorate? MOVEMENT!

Doctors at the University College London showed that by immobilizing the knee joint patients’ HA levels decreased by more than 50%! Another study in Pain Journal reported that increased HA levels lessened pain signals from the joint to the spinal cord. So the loss of HA actually leads to increased pain! This tells us that keeping that painful joint from moving isn’t the best idea after all. Even passive movement can increase the lubricating properties of your joint as well as keep your cartilage from deteriorating. Passive movement can be performed by any qualified health or fitness professional.

So the next time your joint starts to hurt, don’t keep it locked up. Remember that “motion is lotion”, and contact your personal trainer, massage therapist, and/or physical therapist to help you get through the rough patch so that both you and your joints are happy and healthy.

The Importance of Eating Breakfast

You hear it all the time. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…but many of us often skip breakfast. With busy work schedules, getting the kids to school on time or just not being hungry, we don’t place an importance on it.

Breakfast…and the right breakfast foods, can help you concentrate, keep you focused, give you energy and help boost your metabolism for the day.  According to WebMD, a healthy breakfast refuels your body, jump-starts your day and may even benefit your overall health, and studies show that eating a healthy breakfast (as opposed to the kind containing doughnuts) can help give you:

  • A more nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals
  • Improved concentration, performance, and productivity
  • The ability to stabilize hunger and cravings later in the day, preventing binging and eating high-fat, high-sugar snacks
  • More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels

So what does this all mean for your health and your waistline? According to Lauren Conrad, your metabolic rate slows to its lowest levels when you are sleeping, then rises as you get up in the morning. Since your metabolism is directly related to your energy levels, the higher your metabolic rate, the more energy you have and the more calories you burn. Eating breakfast will control your appetite while also revving up your metabolism, which will help burn more calories throughout the day. In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that those in the study who ate breakfast had a lower body mass index and ate more micronutrients than those who didn’t eat breakfast.

“People skip breakfast thinking they’re cutting calories, but by mid-morning and lunch, that person is starved,” says Milton Stokes, RD, MPH, chief dietitian for St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City. “Breakfast skippers replace calories during the day with mindless nibbling, bingeing at lunch and dinner. They set themselves up for failure.”

The Research Shows

There’s evidence that eating breakfast is a big part of losing weight. According to The Mayo Clinic, eating breakfast is a daily habit for the “successful losers” who belong to The National Weight Control Registry. These people have maintained a 30-pound (or more) weight loss for at least a year, and some as long as six years.

“Most — 78% — reported eating breakfast every day, and almost 90% reported eating breakfast at least five days a week – which suggests that starting the day with breakfast is an important strategy to lose weight and keep it off,” says James O. Hill, PhD, the Registry’s co-founder and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Sources: WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Lauren Conrad

Muscle v. Fat

Did you know that 1 pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day, while 1 pound of muscle burns 100 calories a day? A pound of  muscle  occupies less space than a pound of fat.  In addition, because a pound of muscle burns more fat than a pound of fat, even at rest, by increasing your lean muscle tissue mass, you’re helping your body burn  more calories.

Exercise can make you happy!

Exercise can make you happy! Yes, that is just one of the many benefits of exercise including losing weight and staying toned. According to U.S. News & World       Report, exercise does many things, with these seven topping the list:

1. It reverses the detrimental effects of stress and may even work on a cellular level.
2. It lifts depression.
3. It improves learning.
4. It builds self-esteem and improves body image.
5. It leaves you feeling euphoric.
6. It keeps the brain fit and active, fending off memory loss & keeping vocabulary strong.
7. It may keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

The impact of exercise is great and a personal trainer can make it better. Call  us today at 704.996.0411 to schedule a health assessment and get started on your personal training!

Snack Time!!

Snack Time!! Remember, when it is snack time, grab something that has carbs, protein and fat. This keeps the body’s metabolism functioning optimally and will help you avoid the energy roller coaster. Try string cheese and low fat wheat things, low fat yogurt and granola, a balance bar, or a piece of fruit with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Eating less, more often keeps your fire burning!

A Week in the Life of a Pound of Fat

A Week in the Life of a Pound of Fat

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times…”why can’t I lose any weight?!” While our metabolisms may differ, the truth about fat loss is universal. A pound of fat has 3500 calories and in order to lose that pound, you must create a deficit of 3500 calories. It’s as simple as an accountant’s balance sheet-eat more calories than your body uses and you will gain weight. Eat less calories than your body uses and you will lose weight. Remember…all the good eating and working out during the week can be undone in just a weekend of not-so-healthy eating. If you are frustrated about your progress, you have two choices: 1) Get Serious. I mean really serious…weight loss is hard work. OR 2) Learn to enjoy your body as it is and be happy with maintaining your body weight. Since you started working out, you have gotten stronger, healthier, and happier. As a side benefit, you are able to occasionally eat the foods that you really enjoy without the weight gain. Remember, it’s all up to you!

The Real Reason You Can’t Lose Weight

The Real Reason You Can’t Lose Weight
“When eating out in a restaurant, people grossly underestimate how much they eat and drink by about 50%”– Brian Wansink, Cornell University & author of “Mindless Eating”

Those of you who have known me anytime at all have seen me skinny and not-so skinny.  I have all of the tools in my toolbox but sometimes I forget where I put the key to the darn lock!

Recently, I went out to this great Italian restaurant and they brought me this ginormous plate of pasta.  I thought (just before inhaling every last morsel of it) “I wonder just how many servings this really is…”  As I left the restaurant, feeling fat and happy, I thought this is something I need to research and report on to my clients.

In a recent study done by Harvard Medical, two-thirds of  participants underestimated the amount of calories they were consuming.  They also found that the heavier the person, the more they would underestimate what they were consuming.  Wow!  Maybe this IS the key to why you can’t lose any weight.  Did you know that a serving of medium sized french fries is 10-12 fries??  Or that a serving of red wine is 4-5 fluid ounces?  Tell me…when was the last time you ate 10-12 fries or drank 5 ounces of wine?!

Here’s an experiment for you…pour that glass of wine or bowl of cereal, don’t try to be “good”…just be normal.  Then pour it into as measuring cup and see just how much you are over-estimating your portion size!  Spend some time this week measuring out the portion size of your most frequently consumed foods and beverages.  Those calories really add up!!  Have a great week and look for “The Real Reason You Can’t Lose Any Weight Part Two” very soon!


Ask the Experts: Healthy Fats

Wow! What a relief this one is! The jury is in on “no fat” diets…they don’t work! This is really no surprise considering the US population has gotten 10% more obese since the arrival of all the low fat/no fat products in the 1980s and 1990s. Take a look at the following Q&A article from Harvard.

Harvard School of Public Health asked Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health and Amy Myrdal Miller, M.S., R.D. of The Culinary Institute of America to explain why it’s time to end the “low fat is best” myth—and to provide ideas for how to use healthy fats in the home kitchen.

Should I ditch a low-fat diet?

Walter Willett: If you’ve been able to keep your weight, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose under good control while eating a low-fat diet, this type of diet may be working for you. But for many people, low-fat diets don’t work. In fact, dozens of studies have found that low-fat diets are no better for health than moderate-or high-fat diets—and for many people, they may be worse.

Low-fat diets are usually high in carbohydrates, often from rapidly-digested foods such as white flour, white rice, potatoes, sugary drinks, and refined snacks. Eating lots of these “fast carbs” can cause quick, sharp spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, and over time can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. High-carbohydrate, low-fat diets also have a negative effect on the fats and cholesterol in our blood: They raise “bad” blood fats (triglycerides) and they lower the “good” blood cholesterol (HDL), both of which can increase the risk of heart disease. These diets also tend to increase blood pressure.

For many people, low-fat diets are not satisfying. People finish a meal and within a few hours, they are hungry again, seeking more low-fat fixes for their hunger. This vicious cycle leads to weight gain and, in turn, to the conditions associated with excess weight (such as blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes).

Are “fat free” foods healthy?

Amy Myrdal Miller: Some foods in their natural state contain little or no fat—for example, most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dried beans. And of course these are healthy choices. But processed foods billed as “low fat” and “fat free” are often higher in salt, sugar, or starch than their full-fat counterparts, to make up for the flavor and texture that’s lost when food manufacturers slash fat. So they are not necessarily “healthy” choices. For example, low-fat and non-fat salad dressings are nearly always higher in sugar and salt.

Will eating fat make me get fat?

Willett: No, it’s a myth that eating specifically high-fat foods makes you fat. Eating or drinking more calories than you need from any source, whether it’s fat, carbohydrate, protein, or alcohol can lead to weight gain. Over the past 30 years in the U.S., the percentage of calories from fat has actually gone down, but obesity rates have skyrocketed. Sugary soft drinks don’t contain any fat—yet the billions of gallons of sugary beverages that Americans drink each year have been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.

Can I lose weight on a low-fat diet?

Willett: It’s possible to lose weight on any diet. But carefully-conducted clinical trials find that following a low-fat diet doesn’t make it any easier to lose weight or keep it off. In fact, study volunteers who follow moderate- or high-fat diets lose just as much weight, and in some studies a bit more, as those who follow low-fat diets.

Calories are what count for weight loss, so it’s important to find a lower-calorie eating plan that you can follow—and a lower-calorie plan that’s good for lifelong health. Low-fat diets raise triglycerides and lower good cholesterol, so for many folks, they’re simply not the best choice for health. For some people, high intake of carbohydrates, particularly if they come from refined rather than whole grains, can make weight control more difficult.

Are all kinds of fat equally healthy?

Willett: Some types of fats are healthier than others. Unsaturated fat is the healthiest type of fat. Plant oils, such as olive, canola, corn, peanut and other nut oils; nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and pistachios; avocados; and fish, especially oily fish such as salmon and canned tuna, are excellent sources of unsaturated fat. Eating unsaturated fat in place of refined grains and sugar can improve blood cholesterol profiles and lower triglycerides, and in turn, lower the risk of heart disease.

It is essential to include a special kind of unsaturated fat, called omega-3 fats, in the diet; good sources include fish, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil. Keep in mind that omega-3 fats from marine sources, such as fish and shellfish, have much more powerful health benefits than omega-3 fats from plant sources, like walnuts and flax seeds. But omega-3 fats from plant sources still are a good choice, especially for people who don’t eat fish.

Source: Harvard School of Public Health:

How Much Water Are You Drinking???

Back in March, I wrote a Fit Tip about VitaminWater. The truth is that you only need to use an electrolyte replacement beverage like VitaminWater or Gatorade if you exercise continuously for 60 minutes or more.

However, your body does need a lot of H2O! Here’s the basic formula for determining your hydration needs:

1. Drink 1 ounce of water for every 2 pounds of body weight.

2. Drink an additional 8 ounces of water for every fifteen minutes of exercise.

3. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol have a dehydrating effect. Drink 1 ounce of water for every ounce of caffeine or alcohol consumed.

So Mr. Smith weighs 200 pounds. On Monday, he worked out for 45 minutes and he drank 3 six ounce cups of coffee. Mr. Smith would need 224 ounces of water to meet his hydration needs. That’s A LOT of water! I suggest that you get a pretty bottle that you can keep with you all day…determine how many ounces it holds and how many times you will need to fill it to meet your hydration needs for the day. For obvious reasons, I try to consume all of water before 6:00pm on any given day.

You want me to do what??

Question Mark GreenI grew up without a dad and when it came to learning about various and sundry “guy stuff,” I was mostly on my own.  One thing that my mom never explained to me was just how to perform a “Testicular Self Exam.” And for that, I’m eternally grateful…thanks Mom!  No really, I mean it…Thanks Mom!  I don’t think I could’ve handled that discussion!

Over the past couple weeks,I’ve seen these great commercials that depict people in restaurants or retail stores and they are asking all kinds of goofy questions.  Then it segues to the character at a routine doctor visit and the doctor asks them if they have any questions.  Of course, they say “oh no, everything’s fine, thanks.”  Of course, they probably had a million and one questions for the doctor but were too embarrassed or afraid to ask, just like we all are.

Isn’t that just the way it is?  When we get into a setting where we need to ask the important questions and get all the facts, we chicken out and leave without getting the information that we not only want but really need to know.

So!  That’s the purposeof this fit tip.  To help us all learn the why’s and how’s of Testicular and Breast Self-Exams.  The two links below will take you to the Mayo Clinic’s web site page on both of these topics:

When I searched on Google, I even found YouTube videos on the topics!  But I wasn’t sure that all of our clients were ready for that! So, I’ll let you go find those for yourself.  I have been on the dark and scary journey of a cancer diagnosis and treatment with many clients and friends over the years. One thing always holds true, their accelerated fitness level helps them to endure the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery with a whole lot more strength and endurance.  Not to mention with confidence and purpose.  The absolute most frightening thing in our lives is the unknown.  So start these self-exams today, you’ve got nothing to lose! If you do find something, I (or we) will be right here by your side to walk through the darkness with dignity and strength. 

Something in the Water…

Photo courtesy of flickr user Like_the_Grand _Canyon via CC license

Last weekend I had a coupon for a free VitaminWater from Harris Teeter. I was surprised to see all the different kinds and quickly picked the Power-C Dragonfruit flavor. The next morning, I grabbed it out of the fridge and chugged it on my way to work. Wow…it was some pretty amazing stuff! Tasted great, had a full days worth of vitamin C and a slew of B vitamins. I thought I had found a new favorite….then I started thinking, this stuff tastes pretty sweet?!? Wonder how many calories it has. As I looked at the nutrition label, I saw that it had 50 calories and 13 grams of sugar. Not bad, I thought….my diet can handle one of these tasty drinks every now and again. But then I looked a little closer….one bottle has two and a half servings!! No wonder it tastes so good! That means a bottle of VitaminWater actually has 125 calories and 32.5 grams of sugar!! That’s the equivalent of 6+ teaspoons of sugar…in other words, every one of those 125 calories is a calorie of sugar! Not a healthy food at all. Bummer.

As I searched around the web to learn a little more about this VitaminWater, I found that there have even been lawsuits against the Coca-cola compnay for false marketing. Well…their false marketing sure worked on me! I also found that Americans are currently consuming 25% of their daily calories in fluids. Just imagine how easy it would be to replace that VitaminWater or that Coke or that (drat!) glass of wine with a glass of good old water…you know the kind with nothing in it! Just for fun…if we held all else equal and only eliminated 250 calories of fluids from our diet for 60 days….we could lose over four pounds!

I guess the moral of this story is…sometimes things that seem too good to be true, really are!! Read those labels and be an educated consumer. Have a great week!!

Start your New Year with Massage!

January 2011

Massage therapy and bodywork is a great way to help us feel pampered, yet gives us a therapeutic experience that lasts long after the massage is over.  Massage therapy is powerful.  It helps reduce stress, lowers anxiety, and helps us sleep better.

Staying healthy is challenging in this cold and flu season, and massage helps us stay well by improving our immunity, stimulating lymph flow, the body’s natural defense.  Massage also improves the condition of the body’s largest organ, the skin.

Helping to keep our spirits renewed, massage lessens depression and fatigue, it lowers blood pressure and improves circulation.   Few things make us feel older than stiff muscles and joints, but regular massage lessens stiffness and improves joint flexibility.  Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness, and women with premenstrual syndrome show decreased water retention and discomfort with regular massage.

Bodywork and massage helps athletes of any level prepare for and recover from tough workouts.

About the only thing massage doesn’t do is clean the floors!  Massage is often thought of as a treat, and it is a wonderful gift, because it feels like pampering, and is still therapeutic.

Ask your trainer or call for more information.  Have a blissful and blessed 2011!

The Politics of Fitness and Weight Loss …

November, 2010

I must admit that I am a politics junkie.  I spend countless hours watching and listening to all of the various pundits lamenting about our government and its parties.

During this last election cycle, one of the big debates was whether our country has a “spending” problem or a “revenue” problem.  It got me to thinking about my work and how this really relates to many different areas of our lives.  In fitness, for example, “spending” is a good thing…it’s the amount of calories you expend each day through daily activities and exercise.  “Revenue,” on the other hand, is the amount of calories we consume through food and drink.

SO!  Do you have a spending or a revenue problem when it comes to your fitness program???  When it’s time to make a change, which one comes first…spending or revenue?

For me, the easiest place to put my energy is with increased spending. I know that if I put in the time at the gym or on the pavement, I can definitely change my body composition.  However, I also know that the ONLY way I can be ultimately successful is to look at my “revenue” or my diet.

I guess the point is that we have to find a balance…we can’t depend solely upon spending or revenue to make the changes we want.  So take a look at your fitness and nutrition balance sheet and see where you might be willing to make a change!

Little Baby Fat Bombs!!

Candy Corn and PumpkinsIt’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of October and the holidays are upon us! I hope everyone is ready for a Happy Halloween and won’t partake in too many little baby fat bombs…

“So what are little baby fat bombs” you ask?!? They are those innocent, little bite-sized pieces of candy that you supposedly bought for the trick or treaters but proceeded to eat yourself. It is really hard to believe how quickly these tasty little morsels can add up! Here’s a look at the calorie count of just a few…

~Twizzlers- 1 treat size pkg.= 45 calories
~Almond Joy- 1 snack size bar= 90 calories
~Milk Duds- 1 treat size box= 40 calories
~Butterfinger- 1 snack size bar= 100 calories
~Milky Way- 1 snack size bar= 90 calories
~Reese cup- 1 minature cup= 36 calories

So…I ate seven minature Reese cups(among other things!!) That’s 252 calories! That’s more than two full-sized cups…which I never allow myself to have! No wonder I had such a Halloween hangover on Saturday!  That’s what I get for buying the candy early!  Next time I’ll know to buy something I don’t like!

Sometimes when I’m gorging myself…I visualize a gas pump display ticking away the calories in my stomach…just like it does the gallons of gas in your car tank. Then I begin to wonder just how much am I going to have to move to work all of those calories off…and is it really worth it?? In this instance, it really was worth it! But I bet we’ve all got a little bit of extra cardio work to do this week! See you at the gym!!

OH and by the way, if you’ve still got any of those little baby fat bombs lying around after Sunday 10-31-10 … unwrap and place in outdoor trash can … FAST!  Better it go into the trash than become trash in your body!!

Joe’s Wake Up Call!

September, 2010

It finally happened!  I was turning left onto Providence Road during morning rush hour and BAM! I got T-boned by a Prius!  Thank goodness no one was hurt and after a few weeks driving a Yaris (OH NO!), I’ve got my car back good as new.

But I’ve got to be honest…I was talking up a storm on my cell phone when the accident happened.  Who knows if it even would have occured if I had been giving my full attention to what I was doing.  In fact, I had two close calls in the weeks prior to warn me, once while turning left and the other while texting (I know!). So I’m ready to make a behavior change.  But I need to tell all of you to make it stick!  From now on, I am going to put my cell phone in my briefcase in the trunk while I am driving…that’s the only way that I will stop.  I’ve even decided to sign “Oprah’s Pledge”!
Here’s how this fits in with health and fitness…somebody is going to get killed talking or texting!  So I think that qualifies!  In fact, I think we all should commit to make this change!
If you’re willing and I hope that you are….go to our Facebook page and say so!  I want to see how many people we can get to commit to letting go of this dangerous habit!  You’ll also find a link to Oprah’s pledge there so you can make it official.  Who knows…maybe making this change will help us make some other ones too!  Such as exercising daily or giving up soda or whatever.  The sky’s the limit! 

Is 30 Minutes Really Enough??

July 2010

Our clients ask us all the time if thirty minutes is really enough time to put in at the gym.  The answer is both yes and no.  Yes, it is enough time to spend in the weight room or working with a trainer.  But NO, it is not enough time to include ALL of your exercise for that day.  The Surgeon General recommends that you get “one hour of physical activity most days” … so, that’s double the time that you are spending with a trainer and that’s usually only two or three times per week … not  “most days.” 

 The reason we do thirty minute workouts is so that you have to take responsibility for your fitness program.  Let’s do a little math … let’s say you see a trainer two times per week, that’s about one hour.  There are 168 hours in a week, so that means your commitment to personal training is equal to about  .5% of your week.  Doesn’t really sound like enough to effect much change, does it?!  That’s where you come in! 

Now let’s bump that total number of hours exercising to 6 hours per week … that’s equal to about 3.5% of your week.  Now we’re getting somewhere!  If we compare that to some of your other weekly activities…you spend about 10.5 hours at meals (6.25%), 40 hours at work (yeah right … like we  believe that! 24%), and 56 hours sleeping (33.3%).  This kinda puts the whole exercise commitment thing into perspective.  Six hours is a minimum! 

Let’s start thinking of exercise as movement … so this just means we need to move more!!  All kinds of movement counts: walking the dog, cleaning the shower, mowing the lawn (triple points in this heat! Just kidding).  But two of your six hours must be higher intensity exercise that is done for the sake of doing exercise.  Let’s all start keeping a log of our exercise week.  We’ll break it down into minutes.  So we have to get 300 minutes this week with 100 of those minutes being higher intensity.  And let’s sweeten the pot a little bit … your Saturday night glass of wine or your piece of chocolate cake is conditional upon your success.  Let’s all go get moving!  If you need help knowing what “intense” means, ask your trainer for help.

Let me know if there’s a topic you would like me to discuss in my fit tips.

Joe Montgomery
Owner, Personal Trainer
Industrial Strength Inc.

The Dirty Dozen

April 2010
Everytime I go to the grocery, I get perplexed about which fruits and vegetables to buy …do I
have to buy the organic ones at their inflated prices or is it just as healthy for me to eat the
conventional produce?!? So I did some searching around on the web and found that the folks at
Good Morning America had the same issue.

They found that a single serving of some fruits and vegetables have as many a NINE different
pesticides in them! Wow! I definitely don’t want to put that into my body. So they compiled a list
of the twelve produce items with the highest levels of pesticides on them…the number one
offender?? Peaches! Seems that peaches require a lot of pesticides just to grow… so organic is
definitely the way to go when buying them. Here are the other eleven top offenders that you
should steer clear of and spend the extra bucks on organic:

Apples, Bell Peppers, Celery, Cherries, Nectarines, Strawberries, Kale, Lettuce, Imported
Grapes, Carrots, Pears

I also found another list on the web entitled “The Clean Fifteen.” You guessed it…it’s a list of the
produce items that contain the least amounts of pesticides and therefore purchasing conventional
is OK. Here they are:

Onion, Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Mango, Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Kiwi, Cabbage,
Eggplant, Papaya, Watermelon, Broccoli, Tomato, Sweet Potato

Let me know if there’s a topic you would like me to discuss in my fit tips.

Joe Montgomery
Owner, Personal Trainer
Industrial Strength Inc.


March 2010
I think that pretty much sums it up! I honestly don’t not know of a way to lose weight without
actually having to feel hungry…at least some of the time! So if we’ve got to do this thing, let’s
establish some ground rules…
1. PROJECT…On a scale of 1-10, don’t let your hunger go over a 7…if you do, your metabolism
is probably slowing down anyway and that’s counterproductive. You should also be sure that no
more than four hours pass between feedings in order to keep your metabolism revved up.
2. PLAN Ahead…novel idea huh?? In my business, I plan for the day, for the week, for the
month, etc, etc…funny that I rarely think about what my next meal is going to be until my stomach
reminds me that it’s time for me to figure something out. By then, I’m usually too hungry to make
the best choices for my goal.
3. PORTION…this is a biggie. You know biggie fries, biggie drink…just kidding. In order to be
successful at this thing, I’ve got to learn how to “eyeball” an appropriate portion size. There are
tons of tools online. But the best way is to get out the food scale and measuring cups and
spoons…then measure everything for one solid week. After that, you’ll know what a portion looks
like and you’ll feel much more in control of your consumption.
4. PRAY…hey I needed another “P” word and it sure can’t hurt!
Hang in there! Let me know if there’s a topic that you would like for me to discuss in one of my
weekly fit tips.
Joe Montgomery
Owner, Personal Trainer
Industrial Strength Inc.

Swimming is for Everyone

February 2010
Low-impact and fun to do, swimming is a popular activity for all ages. Add swimming to your exercise regime and enjoy its numerous benefits. Learn more about the aquatics programs offered at the YWCA.

Health Benefits
Because the human body is 90% water, its density is very similar to the density of water. That’s why you feel weightless when swimming. And why swimming is a great form of low-impact exercise, making it extremely popular with people who are elderly, pregnant, recovering from an injury, disabled or overweight. Swimming is also a great cardiovascular workout that elevates the heart and respiratory rates, improving overall health.

When you swim, you exercise all of the muscles in your body. However, your upper body and arms get more of a workout than your legs. If you want to use your legs more, try doing the breast stroke, which generates greater leg movements than the front crawl. If you are supplementing your swimming with exercise on land, where the legs are used more, do the front crawl to give your arms an additional workout.

Burning Calories
When you swim breaststroke or backstroke, you burn about the same number of calories as you would by walking fast or jogging slowly. More vigorous swimming will burn more calories. Doing the front crawl vigorously for 30 minutes will burn about 350 calories.

Swimming During Pregnancy
Swimming is a completely safe and excellent exercise for expectant mothers. Be sure to check with your doctor before you jump into the pool. If you swam before your pregnancy, you should have no problem. If you didn’t exercise at all before your pregnancy, start slowly with gentle stretching, go easy and listen to your body. Stay out of the hot tub or sauna. Extreme heat can sometimes slow the development of the fetus.

Swimming as Rehabilitation
Swimming is a great way for athletes to quickly bounce back after injuries. After suffering an injury to her Achilles tendon, professional runner Mary Slaney, trained only in the water for 3 weeks. A week later she set a world record in the 1000 meters.

Aqua fitness and Aquaerobics
Aqua fitness and aquaerobics are both excellent aerobic workouts without high impact. Incorporating many movements seen in dry-land aerobics with specialized equipment for deep-water workouts, many people, including expectant mothers and the elderly, use aqua fitness to stay healthy and improve or maintain their cardiovascular fitness.

Mix it Up
Swimming is undoubtedly good exercise, but it doesn’t use the leg muscles as much as exercising on land. Because it is low-impact, swimming is not good for maintaining bone density or preventing osteoporosis. Make sure to include exercise on land, such as lunges, running, walking, or cycling, plus weight training 2-3 times a week to help ensure total fitness.

Stay Active During the Holidays

December 2009

Trying to fit exercise in to your holiday to-do list can be stressful. But, staying active will give you energy, lessen holiday tension, and work off some of the extra calories you’re most likely eating.

So, how do you find time? These quick tips will help you stay active the holiday season.

Plan Ahead

If you’re traveling, take time to figure out what your options are beforehand so you’re ready for anything. A few ideas:

  • Find out about walking or park trails nearby
  • Find out if your hotel has an exercise room
  • If you’re staying with family, ask if they have fitness equipment
  • Find out if there’s a nearby gym and if there is a fee for visitors
  • Talk to your family in advance and suggest an activity together
  • If they aren’t into fitness, tell before you visit that you want to squeeze in a workout. Ask what they recommend so that you don’t interfere with family plans or hurt their feelings if you take time away from them.

Get Prepared

Plan for the worst-case scenario. That may be staying in grandma’s basement with no equipment and only 10 minutes to yourself. Try these quick tips for squeezing in a workout when you only have minutes to spare:

  • Plan a 10-minute routine…10 exercises, each for 1 minute (squats, lunges, pushups, jumping jacks).
  • Bring resistance bands. They travel well and you can use them for quick strength exercises.
  • If you have a laptop, bring along a workout DVD or try streaming workouts online such as
  • If guests are staying with you, move your equipment (weights or bands) into your bedroom so you can sneak in some exercise at night or in the morning.
  • Wear your running or walking shoes as much as you can. You may find a 20-minute window when people are napping or before dinner for a quick walk or run.
  • Invite family members for a walk.

Use Every Opportunity

Get creative and find ways to move your body any way you can:

  • Walk as much as possible. Take extra laps at the mall, use the stairs, volunteer to walk the dog.
  • If you’re hanging out with kids, set up a game of football, tag or hide and seek.
  • Offer to help with the housework, vacuuming or raking leaves.
  • If everybody’s sitting around watching football, get on the floor for some situps or pushups. If that’s too weird, try isometric exercises — squeeze and hold the abs, the glutes or even press the hands together to engage the chest.
  • Pick up full water bottles or soup cans for quick lateral raises or overhead presses.

Doing something is better than doing nothing! You aren’t always in charge of your schedule during the holidays so remember that the holidays are about enjoying yourself and your family. Relax and get your mind and body ready for the new year.

Alcohol and Exercise

November 2009

It’s finally Friday and you just got off work. You’re thinking about going out and having a few drinks with your friends. You worked hard all week and you certainly deserve a little fun. But… if tomorrow is a workout day, here are a few things to consider before heading out to the local pub.

We know about liver disease, drunk driving, hangovers and things we did that we don’t want to talk about, but what about the actual effect on our body?

Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causes dehydration, and therefore impairs the body’s cooling system. Dehydration in general causes overall fatigue. So if you enjoy a cold one even the night before you exercise, expect to not be at peak performance, to feel tired and have muscle cramps while exercising.

The diuretic effects of alcohol deplete the body of valuable electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium and potassium, as well as B vitamins and minerals such as zinc. So the hangover cure is not more alcohol…contrary to popular beliefs, but to drink as much water and Gatorade as possible to replace fluids and electrolytes and eat foods high in B vitamins and zinc.

Do your joints hurt more after a night out drinking? Alcohol will not only dehydrate you and keep you from sleeping well, but it will also increase swelling around your soft tissues. It will delay your recovery if you have been injured. So don’t sulk in your misery, do your physical therapy instead.

Why did you eat so much at that party last night? Alcohol weakens your body’s ability to convert food to energy (which is why we eat) and reduces your blood sugar levels causing you to feel hungry. Alcohol has no nutritional value AND has seven calories per gram so excess consumption can lead to weight gain as well.

If you’ve made the time and effort to improve your physical conditioning and your overall health with exercise, why take steps backwards and impede your improvements? If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation – men, 2 per day – women, 1 per day.

Watch that salt!

October 2009
The food choices we make each day affect our blood pressure, especially those foods with a high salt content. On average, American men consume 4200 mg sodium each day with women close behind at 3300 mg. 90% of us will develop hypertension by age 75, so it’s important to learn what preventative measures you can take. Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because your blood pressure can be high without having any symptoms. The current recommendation for sodium intake is 2400 mg per day, with encouragement of only 1500 mg by the Institute of Medicine.

Why lower the sodium recommendation? You probably know of sodium’s close connection with high blood pressure. But studies also find high sodium intake can lead to heart and kidney problems, as well as osteoporosis and other bone disorders.

Surprising fact: Only 25 percent of your daily supply of salt comes from the saltshaker. Most of the rest comes from processed and packaged foods. Manufacturers add loads of sodium to food, both for flavor and to keep it fresh.

What is blood pressure (BP)? BP is composed of 2 numbers. The first is the systolic BP, which is the force that is exerted on the artery wall when your heart beats. The second is the diastolic BP, which is the force between heart beats (the time when the heart is filling with blood and resting). Normal BP is 120/80. Best BP is 115/75. Hypertension is BP over 140/90.

Tips to reduce sodium and lower blood pressure:

  • Lose weight (blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol will decrease too)
  • Limit alcohol
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid using table salt, garlic salt, onion salt
  • Avoid buying canned vegetables, processed and packaged foods
  • Say no to sports drinks unless you are an endurance athlete
  • Choose unsalted nuts, low fat milk, low sodium cheese
  • Buy fresh, frozen or low sodium canned vegetables
  • Use spices and herbs rather than salt to enhance flavors
  • Check food labels. Buy foods with less than 480 mg of sodium per serving. Also check for non-salt sources of sodium (Na, monosodium glutamate or MSG, sodium citrate, baking soda, baking powder, and sodium bicarbonate).

Going green: Tips for eco-friendly exercise

September 2009
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just trying to shed a few extra pounds, this month’s tips will help you go green while getting fit.

Get outside. On a nice day, instead of hitting the gym take your workout outdoors. The only energy required is yours. Walking, hiking, biking and jogging are all great cardiovascular activities. Along the way, stop to strength train by using your body weight for resistance with lunges, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, dips and step-ups.

Not only will you get a great workout, you’ll also have lots of fun connecting with the natural world and your community. You can go it alone, enlist a workout partner or even start a workout group in your neighborhood.

  • Walk or bike to work, to the gym, to school, etc.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Weed your garden.
  • Go for a hike. Pick up trash along the way.
  • Take your dog for a long walk. Use biodegradable bags to pick up after them.
  • Chase your kids around the yard.
  • Join a group that clears trails in local hiking areas.

Unplug. If outdoor exercise is not an option, try using equipment that requires you to generate the power. Some examples: dumbbells, tubing, kettle bells, jump ropes and self-powered cardio machines such as spinning bikes and rowing machines.

  • Buy used exercise equipment on Craigs List.
  • Give the power generated treadmill or stair climber a break. Run up and down the steps in your home or office.

Dress the part. When choosing your workout clothes and accessories, consider those made of organic cotton, bamboo or other natural fibers — even coconut shells! You could also look for clothes and shoes made of recycled materials, such as sneakers with recycled rubber soles.

You also can shop for eco-friendly fitness products such as yoga mats made of natural rubber and yoga mat bags made of hemp.

When you’ve worn out your clothes, recycle them. Patagonia has a program that allows you to recycle old workout clothes and turn them into new ones. Nike has a recycling program that turns old sneakers into basketball courts, running tracks and playgrounds.

  • Use a reusable water bottle.
  • Buy workout clothes made in the USA

Don’t forget to fuel your body with local and organic foods before you exercise, and have fun!

Surviving The Salad Bar

August 2009
Summer is a great time for salads. Make a light meal without turning on the stove and take advantage of heart-healthy summer produce. Be smart about your choices or your salad can be worse than a fast food burger and fries. Here are some tips for what to keep and what to toss at the salad bar.

  1. Choose high folate and vitamin C dark leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce. Choose spinach, endive, mixed “baby” greens containing multicolored lettuces and romaine.
  2. Choose colorful vegetables: red radishes, peppers and tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and broccoli, yellow peppers, purple cabbage, orange carrots, and tan (fresh) mushrooms. Eat smaller quantities of canned veggies such as artichoke hearts and olives, because they are high in sodium. (Olives are a source of monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats and can be enjoyed in moderation.)
  3. Choose colorful fresh fruit:  they contain vitamin A and C, carotinoids, fiber and potassium. Most have 0 fat as long as they are not bathed in syrup. Just be mindful of the serving size.
  4. Add beans: 1/2 cup of chickpeas or kidney beans add about 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. This will help fill you up.
  5. Choose lean meats and fish such as chicken (not breaded), turkey, tuna without mayo, or shrimp. Cured meats, such as bacon, ham, and salami, are high in salt.
  6. Use just a sprinkling of highly flavored cheese like parmesan, feta, or blue, otherwise you’ll be adding a lot of fat calories and salt. Choose low-fat options if they are available.
  7. Avoid creamy sides, like pasta salad, tuna with mayo, coleslaw, or potato salad.
  8. Limit toppings such as croutons, nuts & seeds, and fried noodles & onions.
  9. Avoid creamy dressings. Choose vinaigrette, Italian, reduced calorie dressings, or lemon, vinegar and olive oil. Use only 2 tablespoons.
  10. Choose a whole grain bread to eat with your salad, increasing your fiber and B vitamins.

Spark Your Metabolism!

July 2009
Here are some really simple ways that you can keep your metabolic fire burning strong:

1. Eat breakfast

2. Eat small meals frequently

3. Weight train

4. Do cardio

5. Eat after you workout

Did you know:

* a pound of muscle requires 50-100 calories per day to maintain

* a pound of fat only requires 2 calories per day to maintain

After the age of 20, your metabolism slows by about 3% per decade. You also begin to lose muscle mass at a rate of 1/2% per year. These 2 factors greatly impact your ability to maintain a healthy body weight. For example, imagine that you have 50 pounds of muscle mass when you are 20 yrs old… by the time you are 40, you have lost more than 5 pds of muscle and your metabolism has slowed by 250-500 calories per day! Wow! No wonder it’s so much easier to gain weight as we age!

In addition, low calorie diets cause the body’s metabolism to slow significantly. By shocking your system with a sudden, dramatic shift in caloric intake, the body responds by turning the metabolism down by sacrificing your precious muscle for fuel. Remember, muscle burns 50-100 calories per day so the body reasons that if it has fewer pounds of muscle to fuel then the lower caloric intake will balance out. So there you have it! You actually taught your body to survive on LESS fuel. Then you go off the crash diet and you gain the weight back twice as fast… and the bad news is that it isn’t muscle this time.. IT’S ALL FAT!

But there is hope! Here are some really simple ways that you can keep your metabolic fire burning strong:

  1. Eat breakfast – even if it’s something small… you have to let your body know that it’s not starving or that metabolism goes down the tube.
  2. Eat small meals frequently – the best way to keep a fire burning bright is to throw several small logs on it periodically instead of a HUGE log once or twice per day.
  3. Weight train – you can reverse the effects of aging on the metabolism by weight training 2-3 times per week.
  4. Do cardio – increase your daily caloric expenditure by moving more
  5. Eat after you workout – it is a fact that the body’s metabolism slows after exercise if it is not refueled properly. Your window of time to refuel is about 1 hr.

Remember… if you’re starving, your body will react opposite from the results you are striving to achieve. Keep that fire burning and don’t work against yourself.  Good luck!

How to Stay Motivated… One Step at a Time.

June 2009

1. Start with SHORT TERM goals.

2. REWARD yourself for meeting those goals.

3. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. Keep POSITIVE ENERGY going.

4. VISUALIZE yourself at your happiest and healthiest.

5. Have CONSEQUENCES. Be accountable for sticking to your plan.

6. Track your SUCCESSES. Write everything down.

  1. Start with short term goals. Keep your commitment to your workout EACH WEEK instead of “for the month.” Stick to your diet for the next THREE DAYS instead of saying “I’m going to be good through the summer.” If you take it by baby steps you’ll feel successful more often and it will keep you optimistic.
  2. Now REWARD yourself for those significant goals! Please do not use this as an excuse to reward yourself with ice cream! How about that new magazine at the grocery store? Or the latest Bestseller! Then bring that new book or magazine to the gym and try out the recumbent bike. The time will FLY by! For your more long term goals, maybe a new workout outfit or a few new tunes for your iPod?
  3. You are not “perfect” so do not beat yourself up if you are not as successful as you want to be. The trick is in the small goals. Make them attainable so that you keep that positive energy going! If you slip up and eat that (insert goodie here), enjoy it and then make a new goal for yourself tomorrow!
  4. VISUALIZE yourself at your happiest and healthiest! Sit quietly and imagine yourself somewhere you enjoy (beach, woods, lake, mountains) and begin to see yourself where you want to be when all of these small goals begin to take shape. I bet you are smiling wherever you are and remind yourself of this visualization if you begin to wonder if you want to go to the gym tonight or not.
  5. Have CONSEQUENCES! If your child doesn’t do his/her homework, there are consequences! Ask your trainer or a friend or family member to help keep you accountable and/or take away something good if you do not stick to your plan. Take away the TV or your favorite book if you do not hit the gym after work tonight. Make yourself dust a room full of baseboards instead!
  6. Track your SUCCESSES! Buy one of those cute or funny calendars you’ve always wanted and write down EVERY DAY you do something you feel good about! Whether it was getting to the gym for a 2 hour long workout, sticking to your eating plan for the day, or simply taking the dog for an extra long walk. Chart EVERYTHING, because EVERYTHING is important!

Are you really healthy?

April 2009
Mind-Body-Spirit may seem like the new trend in exercise and fit­ness, but the truth is, it is nothing new, simply the old basics of health. Overall health involves five dimensions: emotional, intel­lectual, physical, social and spiritual health. So often we focus on just one aspect of health and completely neglect the others. All dimensions of health are equal and a balance among them leads to optimal health.
Emotional health: The understanding of one‘s emotions and knowing how to cope with everyday problems and stress. Enjoy­ment in life and optimism are key aspects of this dimension.

Intellectual Health: The part of the mind which contributes to sound decision making. Critical thinking and decision making are important aspects of this dimension. Intellectual health and emo­tional health are very closely related.

Physical Health: This is the condition of the body and its re­sponses to damage and disease. Adequate exercise, maintaining normal body weight, regular health care check ups, and balancing work and rest are important aspects of this dimension.

Social Health: The ability to perform one‘s role in life as a son/ daughter, parent, spouse, friend, neighbor, or citizen comfortably, with pleasure, and without harming other people. Maintaining healthy relationships and effective communication is important in this dimension.

Spiritual Health: The feeling that one‘s behavior and basic val­ues are in harmony. It may include a sense of awe with nature‘s beauty and majesty, a deeply held religious faith, or a sense of inner peace in regard to one‘s life. With this dimension, it is the development of a meaningful relationship with the universe and life itself, regardless of the method used to find it.