- I have been a teacher of fitness and health for thirty years. In 1989 I was certified for personal training with the National Acadamy of Sports Medicine. I had a gym in Santa Barbara for eight years. Co-owned and created a spinning bike company which manufactured bikes for five years. Also I have worked with nutrition companies for twenty years. Along with many wonderful non famous people I have trained many celebrities, and members of the Royal Family. My own athletic past consists of long distance running, long distance cycling, cross country skiing, down hill skiing, rollerblading, hiking, sand running, track work, and weight training. I have authored two fitness columns in local papers, and have been writing this blog since January 2010.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
If you are interested in losing some weight, or more importantly losing some fat, keeping a food diary might help you out.
Many of us are in denial about what we are eating all day long. I have seen it over and over with clients who want to lose their fat, but think that eating bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, cream sauces, fattening meats, ice cream, well you get the picture, is O.K. if they eat just a little here and there.
It is not O.K. if you really want to lose the fat. If you don't care that you are fat, then eating like that will work for you.
Bottom line, if you want to lose the fat, stop eating the things that make you fat! Stop being in denial about what you are eating. For most of us, it is what we are eating that makes us fat.
Exercise is important for fat loss, but if you are eating badly, don't look for great results in your goal to be lean.
Sometimes the truth hurts, but lying about what you are eating to yourself, will never get you to your goal of losing your unwanted weight.
If it is fat that you want to lose, do not have white flour, white sugar, or animal fat products in your diet. It doesn't mean that you can never have them, but while you are attempting to lose your fat, DON'T EAT THEM!
Keeping a food diary will help keep you honest. You will be amazed at how many extra calories you will eat in a day without being conscious of it. When you do a food diary you must write down every bit of food and drink that you consume. Even if it is just a bite off some one's plate, or a snack that you might have on the run, write it down.
Write it all down. Do this for a month and you will be able to see where it is you need to cut out those extra unwanted calories. You don't have to show your food diary to anyone, it is for you to see what and when you are eating.
If you find yourself eating emotionally, write down what it is you are feeling. Get to the bottom of your feelings and address what it is that causes you to eat. Fear, boredom, stress, anger, guilt, or what ever the emotion might be, it could help you to confront your food issue.
A food diary can give you an honest accounting of what you are eating, and give you an idea of why you may overeat. It might help you stay away from the bad foods because you do have to write them down. A food diary will keep you accountable to your "healthy food" diet.
Even if you do not want to lose weight, it is a good way to see what you are eating. Are you choosing healthy choices? Your diary won't lie if you keep an honest accounting. Give it a try, it will help you on your journey to being healthy and fit.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Researching coffee is interesting. There is evidence that coffee can be beneficial for you and evidence that it is not good for you. It depends on which study you want to read. It is a pro's and con's battle for the truth about coffee.
Here are some of the negative effects that coffee is said to have on your health;
Coffee has high amounts of Vitamin K in it. It will effect the coagulability of your blood, making it bad for people that are at high risk for heart attack and stroke.
Decreases the quality of your sleep, and will aggravate stress in people who drink it daily.
Coffee hampers the absorption of essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, and B vitamins.
Can contribute to tooth decay. Coffee leaches calcium from your bones.
Coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. It is also one of the most acidic things we put into our bodies. Disease and illness happens when we are acidic.
And here are some reported benefits;
Caffeine stimulates intellectual activity when you are tired or bored.
Caffeine speeds up fat metabolism during exercise, while reducing hunger.
Caffeine reduces the risk of creating gall stones.
Caffeine may protect from colon cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.
Coffee may protect against Asthma and Parkinson's disease.
Coffee has four times the amounts of antioxidants than Green Tea.
Coffee enhances performance and memory, and works as an anti-depressant.
Coffee can reduce migraines, but may also cause them...Go figure!
So there you have it...a bunch of conflicting information about coffee. Good or Bad, that is the question. I think the best thing to do is drink it in moderation....anything to excess is bad for you. Moderation is the answer to most things.
Enjoy a cup of coffee, but be careful of the "fattening" special coffee drinks that can add hundreds of unwanted fat calories to your diet. It's just not worth it!
Friday, January 29, 2010
Getting enough sleep is vital to your health. There are so many functions that your body performs while you are sleeping. Yet many people do not get enough sleep, and show pride in the fact that they get by on four or five hours of snoozing time. It is not something to brag about, rather something that you should be concerned about.
I have always loved that sleepy, weepy, feeling when your eyes have a hard time staying open. That is a feeling that I never try and fight. I love sleep, and always have. When I have gotten less than seven hours, I felt off the next day. Five hours or less, I feel spaced out and disoriented.
Sleep is important for the brain to function optimally. Without enough sleep the neurons in the brain begin to malfunction. This can effect your behavior and decision making process. Prolonged sleep deprivation will cause speech to be slurred and an inability to make logical decisions.
Not getting enough sleep will effect your ability to maintain a healthy immune system. Your body will not be able to fight off certain virus's and infections that it would normally be able to with enough sleep.
Learning becomes significantly reduced when you are sleep deprived. Research shows kids who sleep less have a much lower grade average than those who get eight to nine hours. In some studies lack of sleep has proven to be a source of depression and ADHD in adolescent teens. If you want to be at your peak for learning, GET YOUR EIGHT PLUS HOURS OF SLEEP EVERY NIGHT.
Accidents and emotional problems can be exacerbated by not getting enough sleep. Being able to concentrate is radically reduced as well.
Do you want to lose weight? If you are not getting enough sleep, you will have a hard time losing weight, and will most likely gain it instead. Sleep is another key factor in staying lean.
Important hormone production is regulated in sleep. Without sleep your hormones can become imbalanced.
Sleep is where our bodies heal and repair our tissues that have been damaged. For instance, when you work out, it is during the rest and sleep process that the body repairs itself and makes you stronger.
There are things you can do to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. A comfortable bed is important for a good nights sleep. Watching Television or being on a computer will stop your sleep hormone "Melatonin" production due to the light emitted from the screens. So turning off the lights is a good thing to help promote sleep.
Turning off the mind chatter, and worried thoughts is important to for sleep. Many times at night, our minds go off into worry land and keep us awake. Try to "not think" of things you have to do, or things that worry you. Think good thoughts.
If you want to be at your best, be healthy of body and mind, make sure you get eight to nine hours of sleep. There is nothing better than a good nights sleep, except another good nights sleep!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
When I was growing up (yes it was a long time ago) there were no computers, electronic games, cell phones, I Pods, or any of the technology that we have today.
We wrote letters to people that took a week to get to where they were going. We had no e-mail or faxes to communicate with.
Consequently things moved much slower, which gave us more time to do nothing. There are many benefits to this electronic age that we live in, but there are also some negatives that should be addressed.
We have to do more because everything is 100 times faster. Instead of waiting for a letter from a friend for a week, we now receive e-mails or comments on face book by the hundreds in one day. Responding to that many types of communication feels like a full time job sometimes.
Along with all of the current ways to communicate, we live in a society that tells us that if we aren't doing something, we lack drive and ambition. I disagree with this and find it unhealthy to always have to be doing something.
It is important to take action in much of our lives, like education, projects, home and family, but we need to schedule in "Down Time" in our overly busy lives.
Many kids today are ridiculously over scheduled. Five days a week they go to school. Then there are the after school sports, dance lessons, music lessons, and what ever else their over achieving parents want them to do. After that there is homework, and for most schools it is a good couple of hours worth.
The weekends that used to be for relaxing, are now to fit in more scheduled events that couldn't be fit in during the week. Kids are booked weeks in advance! A little crazy if you ask me.
We need to have some down time in our week. Time where you have nothing planned, no time schedule to keep, and nothing to feel pressured about. Time to do nothing.
Doing nothing helps lower stress which helps your body be healthier. It is also shown to improve memory and help with your ability to learn. It allows you to sit in a space where you can unwind and rejuvenate yourself from all the busyness in your life. It will help to give you a different perspective on things when you step back and slow down.
I remember when I was a kid I used to lay on the grass and look up into the sky and watch the clouds float by in their many shapes and forms. I would see them take shape of an animal or a face. It was wonderful and relaxing and the best part was that I didn't have to do it, it was not on the schedule.
I have a rocking chair on my porch that I will sit in during the twilight hours of the day. I love that time because I am just sitting and listening to the birds while the sky begins to turn into the sunset colors. It is one of my favorite things to do. I do nothing and have a wonderful time doing it.
It is not how much we do, but the quality of what you do that matters. You can be busy, busy, busy, all day and not get much done. I know many people that are busy all of the time, but never have much to show for it. Being busy does not mean you are productive.
I believe that down time helps you to be more productive. We need balance in our lives. It is important to do the things that need to be done like school, work, and taking care of our responsibilities. But we also need to relax and do nothing from time to time.
So add a little "nothing" into your week by finding that time to just "Be" and not "Do". You will discover that it will help you when you have to be busy and get things done. Notice I said a "little" nothing. A lot of nothing is not going to get you where you want to go. Everything in moderation....that is the key!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Rather than argue the point that you do have time to exercise, and it is your prioritizing that is the problem, I will share some ways that you can fit exercise in during your day regardless of your schedule.
You can add in simple movements throughout your regular daily routine that will help to strengthen you and add muscle to your body. Remember that muscle will increase your metabolism, burn more calories, and help to sculpt your body to how you want to look.
One exercise that you can add to your normal activity is lunges. If you are walking somewhere like out to your car, or down the hallway of your home, lunge instead of walk. Walking lunges are a great exercise for your butt and legs. They also raise your heart rate which will help to strengthen your heart.
If you are sitting at a desk, or sitting in any chair, it is an opportunity to do triceps dips to improve that part of the arm that wiggles and waggles when we reach up to wave. By sliding your butt off the chair and placing the palm of your hands on the edge of the chair, lower your butt down to the ground by bending your elbows and then raise yourself back up to a straight arm. If your legs are straight out in front of you that is the most difficult position, if you bend your knees and pull your feet towards you it gets easier.
By using a ledge of a sink or desk you can do incline push-ups. Push-ups are a superb way to work your upper body including chest, back, shoulders, and arms. Do three sets of fifteen to twenty push-ups a day. You will see a difference in how your body looks in as little as thirty days.
Laying flat on the ground for a few sets of abdominal exercises can done in just a few minutes. Upper crunches, bicycle abs, double crunches, are just a few abdominal exercises that will work. Doing these when you get out of bed in the morning before you brush your teeth is a good way to remember to do them. Do them again at night when brushing your teeth before bed. Do three sets of fifty reps to start.
Do you have stairs in your home? If you do, go up and down them for five or ten minutes and you will have a good aerobic, leg, and butt work out. Do this in the morning and in the evening. You will gain endurance and strength walking the stairs.
The Plank exercise is one of the most powerful for your core and body. It will strengthen just about everything, your arms, legs, butt, shoulders, and most importantly your core. (stomach and back muscles)
This is simple to do. Lye on the ground face down lifting your body up while balancing on your elbows and toes. Your body must be in a flat position, no butt's up in the air! Hold in your stomach and make sure there is no arch to your back. Hold this for as long as you can, starting with fifteen to thirty seconds. This is the best exercise and only takes a few minutes to complete.
You can incorporated any of these six exercises into your busy schedule by doing them throughout your day. A few minutes here, a few minutes there. This way you don't have to find an hour or two to get it done, and it will still work!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
If you have not been doing regular exercise and want to begin a program to get fit and lose weight, walking is a great place to start. It is a wonderful way to lose some fat, strengthen your heart, and get yourself out in the fresh air and nature.
I think that it is important to know what your heart rate is when walking for exercise. You want to be in the "zone" of burning fat, and if you are not sure of your heart rate, you may not be getting the results that you are after.
To figure out your aerobic fat burning zone, minus your age from 220. That will give you your 100% heart rate range. We do not want to be at that range while working out. That is your maximum range and we want to be between 65 and 85% of that 100% mark.
For instance if you are 18 years old, your maximum will be 202 beats per minute, and your 65% will be 130 beats per minute. Your 85% heart rate will be 170 beats per minute. So staying at a heart rate between 130 and 170 will give you the results that you want as far as losing fat and strengthening your heart.
When we are walking we sometimes do not keep a pace that will get our heart rate up into the zone that will give us the benefits that we want. That is why a heart monitor is a great tool for doing any cardiovascular exercise. It will give you an accurate reading.
Taking your heart rate with your pulse on your neck or wrist will do if you do not have a monitor, but can be inaccurate if not done properly. The best way to do this is to place two fingers on between your neck and jaw bone, count your pulse beats for six seconds and then add a zero to it. Example; if you count 14 beats, your heart rate is 140.
If you are 120 lbs and walk three miles in an hour, you will burn approximately 250 calories. That is a not a fast pace, but would be considered moderate. If you were 120 lbs and were walking up hills for an hour at a moderate pace you would burn approximately 500 calories. Obviously the more intense you are, the more calories you will burn.
Walking is a great way to begin when starting an exercise program. It is also a good thing to add into your "Cross Training" program, where you choose several different modalities for working out. I will talk more about Cross Training later.
So throw on your walking shoes and get outside for some fresh air, nature, heart strengthening, and fat burning, WALKING! Enjoy!!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Do you have those days where you feel crummy and maybe a little depressed and you are not sure why? Or maybe there is a reason that you are feeling bad and you just don't know what to do to get you out of the funk. It happens to everyone, and it will continue to happen if you are alive and breathing.
What you need to know is what you can do to minimize or negate those feelings all together. We always have a choice in how feel and how we react to any situation.
There are different kinds of depression. One type is called situational depression where a certain situation is upsetting to you. For instance if you break up with a boyfriend, or fail an exam, or can't lose the weight that you want to lose, that type of sadness is caused from something that has happened to you.
If you are depressed and sad for no particular reason, and no matter how good things are you are still depressed, that could be a chemical imbalance that would require seeing a Doctor that specializes in that kind of practice.
Most people do not suffer from that type of imbalance, they are instead sad from situations that happen in their lives. That is the kind of depression or sadness I want to talk about.
I feel like I am an expert on situational depression. I have dealt with it a great deal of my life. Most of it was unnecessary and quite frankly a huge waste of my time and energy. I would be depressed about what "might" happen, or what "hasn't" happened. I might be sad about something that I could not change. Looking back on these times I can see that most of my sad or depressed thoughts were exaggerated in my head.
When I began to be more conscious about my thoughts and emotional state, I realized that when I was depressed I also had accompanying physical signs as well. My energy would be low, my chest would be tight, and sometimes my stomach would feel nauseated.
This is now my alarm system that I am not thinking right. I do not like how that feels and will shift myself to a better thought to relieve the uncomfortable physical feelings.
Ask yourself when you are worried or depressed about something "Are you 100% sure that what you are worried about will happen?". Do you have control over what it is you are sad about? If you are not 100% sure of what it is you are depressed about, or do not have the control to change what it is you are sad about, use the tools that I have talked to you about in this blog.
First off, there is "Mindfulness" to practice. "Choose" your thoughts. Don't sit and dwell on all the negative in your life, choose to dwell on the positive things. Everyone has something positive to think about. If you feel like you don't have anything positive going on, think about the positive things that you would like to have in your life. Dwell on that.
No one is in your head but you. No one is making you think anything. It is all you, whether you are having good thoughts or bad, it is all up to you what goes on in your head. You choose every thought that you have good or bad. Why not choose to think thoughts that make you feel good as opposed to one fearful, depressed, thought after another.
If making a conscious decision to choose your thoughts is difficult, and it will be when you first begin working on this, use "meditation" as a tool to clear your head of bad thoughts. Meditation is a wonderful tool for changing your frame of mind. Go back into the archives of this blog and reread the Mindfulness and Meditation posts, they will help you to get back on track.
So when you are having a bad day, feeling depressed and sad, take control of the situation by being in charge of what you are thinking and feeling. You are in charge anyway, you just aren't aware of it most of the time. Don't let it control you. You take control of it.
Remember there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow holds the promise of a new day and wonderful opportunities for you. Lift yourself up, and then do the same for someone else. That will always make you feel good.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Fiber is essential for a healthy body. It helps our body's digestive system to run smoothly. Eating fiber will promote health and will reduce your risk for certain diseases.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help lower the bad cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. Pears, apples, oat bran, legumes, and barley are some examples of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and will absorb water in your intestinal track like a sponge. It can absorb fifteen times its weight in water. It is also referred to as roughage. Insoluble fiber can help you to feel full longer and will speed up the digestion of your food to help avoid constipation. Fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat foods, are some examples of Insoluble fiber.
Fiber helps to prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis. There are also studies that show fiber linked to the prevention of some cancers like colon and breast cancer. Because fiber helps to lower cholesterol, it is a prevention for heart disease. When fiber works to regulate blood sugar, it is known to help prevent diabetes.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that we have between 20 and 35 grams of fiber a day. The average American gets only 5 to 10 grams a day.
Once again I must bring up the importance of eating 7 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Not only will you get the benefit of the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and water content, but you get the huge benefit of fiber! Fruits and vegetables are full of good things for your body to keep you healthy.
One apple has about 4 grams of fiber. One piece of whole wheat bread has approximately 1 to 2 grams of fiber. A serving of Raisin Bran cereal has about 7 grams of fiber. Fruits and vegetables have an average of 4 to 5 grams per serving. As you can see, you need to eat consciously to make sure you are getting your 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day.
When you are choosing what foods you will eat today, make sure they are "fiber full" to keep you on track for being healthy and feeling great!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I just returned from a funeral of a man that I have known since I was twelve years old. He was only sixty-two, and died in his sleep from what appears to have been a heart attack.
Steve was the brother of my best friend in high school. He was a great guy and left so suddenly that the people who were close to him are having a difficult time grasping the fact that he is gone.
It reminded me one more time that "Death" is a normal part of this experience we call life. The longer I live, the more I experience this thing we call death.
The fact is, we all are going to die sooner or later. All things must die, yet many of us never come to grips with this fact. It needs to be a part of our understanding and acceptance of the fate of anyone who lives.
It is very important to grieve. We all grieve in our own way, but we must not be destroyed over the loss of a loved one. We can choose to understand that it is a part of this life cycle, and that our lives must move forward.
Life is precious. It can be gone in an instant, without notice. I was reminded once again of the importance of being present in our lives, being mindful, and having respect for others. Live with integrity and compassion.
Tell the people that you love how special they are. You never know if this is your last chance. Lift someone up instead of finding fault in them. Follow your passion, or as Joseph Campbell said "Follow Your Bliss".
Be grateful for the body you have by eating healthy foods and exercising daily. Be grateful to be alive. Life is a gift and we should value this body that carry's our soul.
It may not seem like it when you are young, but life is short even if you live to be 99. It goes by so fast.
It is not what you have in this life that will define you, it is your character and actions that you will be remembered for. Not one person spoke about the material things that Steve had, but it was his compassion, generosity, selflessness, and sense of humor that was remembered.
I know my friend Steve is somewhere "wonderful". I was lucky to have known him. He was a bright spot in so many peoples lives. Bon Voyage my Friend!
Friday, January 22, 2010
There are studies that show drinking fresh juice is good for your health, but with all of the variables that cause illness and disease it has not been "proven" to be a cure for anything. Although there are many people who claim that juicing has cured them of their illness, in the medical world the verdict is still out.
What we do know for sure is that freshly made juice, either vegetable or fruit, is packed full of wonderful things such as phytochemicals that appear to offer protection against cancer causing substances.
Another great thing that comes from drinking fresh juice is the amount of enzymes you will get. Enzymes are so important to your body's digestion, production of energy, and absorption of food. Enzymes are critical for most of the metabolic activities taking place in your body every second of every day.
Heat will destroy enzymes in cooked food, but juicing will give you a tremendous amount of enzymes in every glass.
Juicing will also deliver many vitamins and minerals to your body in a natural way. Vitamins A, E, and C are abundant in a fresh juice, along with many essential minerals like, iron, copper, potassium, and magnesium to name a few.
When eating a whole piece of fruit or a vegetable many of the nutrients are trapped in the fiber. For instance when you eat a whole carrot you are only able to assimilate 1% of the available beta carotene. By juicing a carrot nearly 100% of the beta carotene will be available for assimilation.
I have talked to you about the body's need for water. When you juice you will get the added benefit of the water inside the fruit or vegetable that you are juicing. It will absorb into your body just as if it were pure, clean, water.
Another wonderful benefit of juicing is all of the "Antioxidants" that will fill your glass. Remember antioxidants keep us healthier by killing the free radicals that disease and age us. Juicing gives concentrated amounts of these wonderful "soldiers" of health.
When you juice, depending on the amount you are juicing, you will be getting multiple servings of fruits and vegetables in each glass. My vegetable juices always consist of seven to nine servings of vegetables in one "large" glass. That is nearly my whole day's quota for what the "American Heart Association" tells us we need for good health. Any other fruits and vegetables that I might eat are a bonus to what I need for optimum health.
This process does require that you have a juicer, unless you are lucky enough to live by a health food store that makes juice for you. I found that the initial investment of around $100 for a good juicer has paid off many times over by making my own juice at home. It was an investment in my health that was well worth it.
It is also recommended that you juice with organic fruits and vegetables, or make sure the other kinds are washed thoroughly. Not a good idea to juice the pesticides into your healthy juice.
Juicing will help your skin look better, give you a stronger immune system, give you energy, and supply you with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs to be at its best.
I hope you are able to start juicing. You will definitely notice a difference when you do!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Many of us think that all carbohydrates are bad for us. They are mostly associated with the "white foods" like bread, pasta, potatoes, crackers, cookies, donuts, chips, and any food that has been processed and made with white flour and white sugar.
Those are the type of carbohydrates that you want to limit or stay away from all together. Those are the evil carbs that have given all carbohydrates a bad name.
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. We need them to live a healthy energetic life. Carbs are our fuel, just like gas is in a car. It is a matter of choosing the right ones that will make the difference in your body being lean and fit.
The best carbs to choose are the ones that come from nature. Here I go again talking about how natures food is always the best choice, but it is!
Examples of natures carbohydrates are fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Anytime these have been processed they will lose their natural properties and will not assimilate the way they were meant to in the body. Nor will they have the nutrients in them that nature had supplied.
There are many studies that show people losing more weight in a low carb diet, than in a low fat diet. But the best way to eat is "NOT" to diet, but to eat healthy all of the time by choosing "Natures" carbs, "LEAN" proteins, eat mostly the "GOOD" fats, and stay away from "WHITE" sugars. Oh yeah, drink lots of water too!
It is very simple, but not easy for most of us to follow a diet consisting of natures food. We live in a processed, fast food world that promotes nutrient deficient foods. It is hard to switch from white flour, white sugar foods when we have made a habit out of eating them. You will feel cravings at first when you stop eating them, but it doesn't take long to get over that.
If you do decide to begin eating a diet that consists of natures carbohydrates as opposed to the processed ones, you will feel better, be healthier, have more energy, and look your best.
It is not hard to choose fresh fruit or vegetables over chips, crackers, or cookies. They all come from the same store....once again it is a choice you will have to make.
Remember there are consequences in choosing the "Bad" carbs. You will tend to gain more fat, have less energy, less nutrient value, and it will all add up to how you look and feel.
If you want to lose weight, feel better, look better, and be healthier choose "Natures" carbohydrates. If you choose to eat the "white" carbs, don't expect great results in your journey to be fit and healthy.
Start today and "Choose" health!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sometimes in our day to day life we forget about the many things that we should be grateful for. We take for granted things that are actually pretty amazing, like the fact that we can walk into our kitchen and turn on a faucet to get fresh running water. Or our ability to get into a warm shower when ever we want to.
I think about how many people on this planet do not have these luxury's. For instance the Haitians. Even before the earthquake, most of the population did not have fresh running water available at their fingertips like we do in America.
If you are reading this blog it means you have access to a computer. That tells me a lot about you. You are in a small percentage of the population of this earth that has electricity, running water, a roof over your head, a refrigerator for food, access to a car, and a school to get an education in.
Be "Grateful" for these things that you might find otherwise normal and mundane. Trust me, they are blessings that should be acknowledged as such. Instead of focusing on all of the things that you don't have, spend time being in gratitude for the things you do have.
In studies from Pepperdine University, being in gratitude can not only improve ones mental state but the physical body benefits as well. They found that gratitude improves cardiovascular and immune system functioning. People that are focused on gratitude had improved heart, pulse, and respiration rates.
Gratitude helps one adjust to life's challenges in a more positive way. They also discovered people who live with gratitude tend to live longer with better health.
If you are always focused on what you don't have or what you feel lacking in, stop and think about the things you do have.
Be appreciative of the ordinary things in your life, like running water, food, clothing, and a house to live in. Be grateful for your friends or family that you may have.
Think of all of the children in this world that do not have the chance to go to school and get an education. What a gift it is that we as Americans always have that choice.
Education is for you to be able to be independent and make a successful life for yourself. Education is a blessing.
Referring back to my blogs on Mindfulness, and remembering that the way we think is always a choice, choose to be grateful.
Spend some time right now thinking of the things you can be grateful for.
Feeling good is always our goal. Thinking of "lack" and "want" never makes you feel good. Thinking of things that you are grateful for will help you to feel good.
All we really have is right now. This moment in time is our reality, so choose to feel good right now by being grateful. Don't waste anymore time feeling bad about things that did happen, might happen, or haven't happened.
Acknowledge your blessings and know that your immune system will be stronger, your heart will be healthier, and your soul will be happier.
Mindfulness Tip for Gratitude:
Start counting your blessings, be in gratitude, and you will begin to understand how much better your life can be.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Water is essential to life, without it there would be no life. The average adult body is 55 to 75% water. 2/3 rds of your body weight is water. Everyday your body must replace 2 and a half quarts of water.
Water is essential for all body functions. It aides in your digestion and the absorption of your food. Water regulates body temperature and blood circulation as well as carries the nutrients and oxygen to the cells.
Without water you would be very toxic for it removes toxins and other wastes from the body. It assists in cushioning the joints and protects tissues and organs.
If you are trying to lose fat, you are fighting a losing battle if you are not drinking enough water. Water is vital in your weight loss program.
The lack of water can cause many ailments and ultimately will cause death. As we are seeing in Haiti, water is the number one concern to get to the earthquake victims. Living without food for several weeks is possible, but without water one can only exist for a few days.
If you think that drinking soda's, tea, coffee, or juice is a good substitute for water, think again. Nothing works like clear water when it comes to hydrating and cleansing the body. The body has to work to filter and digest other liquids that contain anything else in them but water.
If you don't drink enough water you will become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include, dry sticky mouth, sleepiness or tiredness, thirst, decreased urine, muscle weakness, headache, dizziness, low blood pressure, and rapid heart beat.
It is recommended that you have 64 ounces of water a day. That is equivalent to eight 8oz glasses. If you are exercising, and you should be, it is recommended that you add 8 oz for every fifteen minutes of exercise that you do.
You can suffer from "Water Intoxication" if you drink too much water. It can cause the brain to swell, seizures, water in the lungs, and symptoms just like drowning. Ultimately it will cause death.
This sometimes happens with infants that drink bottle after bottle in a day. Athletes sometimes deal with water intoxication by sweating heavily and losing their electrolytes. This is caused by drinking large amounts of water quickly without replacing the electrolytes.
Water intoxication could be avoided by drinking the water slowly allowing the kidneys time to process the water properly. A healthy adults kidneys can process fifteen liters of water a day if drank over a period of time. Water Intoxication happens mostly when large amounts of water are drank in a very short period of time.
Most of us are never in danger of Water Intoxication. It is dehydration that is our concern. So make sure you are getting healthy amounts of water every day. Your skin will look better, you will have more energy, and you will lose the fat that you are trying to lose with greater ease.
Have a glass right now....Cheers!
Monday, January 18, 2010
William Dufty wrote the best seller "Sugar Blues" in 1975. He was ahead of his time when it came to understanding how unhealthy sugar was for the body. Dufty stated that, "Sugar drains and leaches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification, and elimination make upon one's entire system."
Eaten everyday sugar will cause the body to be in a continual acidic state. Your body will not create disease in an alkaline state, only when it is acidic.
More and more minerals are required for the body to rectify the imbalance that sugar causes. In order to protect the blood, calcium is leached from the bones. Along with tooth decay, a general weakening of the body begins.
Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Initially stored in the liver as glucose is returned to the blood in the form of fatty acids, and then stored in the body's inactive areas like the belly, buttocks, breasts, and thighs. Then the fatty acids make it to the heart and kidneys and the whole body begins to be affected.
Sugar ia a source of "Empty" calories, or "Non-nutritious" calories. It lacks vitamins, minerals or any form of nutrition. Proper digestion can not be done properly without minerals.
In the 17th century sugar consumption in Britain went from a pinch of sugar in a beer to a record two million pounds per year. Physicians began to observe a record number of patients that had what they termed "Sugar Blues". They pronounced these people mad, insane, or emotionally disturbed.
Thinking it was a perfect food, they began to feed it to the cattle. The cattle began to get sick and die before they figured out it was not a perfect food.
Sugar is associated with the disease diabetes. Although it does not cause diabetes, it does cause the body to gain weight and 80% of all diabetics are overweight. Once diagnosed with diabetes, sugar can be extremely harmful to the individual.
Candida is another health issue that can come from too much sugar. It is an over growth of yeast in the digestive track that is worsened by eating sugar and yeast type foods. Symptoms of Candida include chronic fatigue, depression, mood swings, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, anxiety, poor memory, skin rashes, and a strong craving for simple carbohydrates and sugar.
Some studies show that children with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) are much better when sugar is removed from their diet. Especially taken off morning cereals that are full of refined sugars.
An average American eats 150 pounds of sugar each year. Way too much! Eating fruit will help with that sweet craving. Also use sweeteners like Stevia or Agave. Both are natural and the body is able to digest them without all of the negative effects.
Artificial sweeteners are as damaging if not worse. They are a bad alternative to sugar with some scientists claiming they cause cancer and auto immune system disorders.
So try and lower your sugar intake. The less you eat it, the less you will want it. Once again you will feel sooooooo much better when sugar is minimized in your diet.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Watching the thousands of people wounded and dying leaves me with such a helpless feeling, but at the same time feeling so blessed for the life that I have, and the choices that are available to me.
I am angered when I hear people disagree with sending money to help the Haitians. They believe we should only help people in the United States. They seem to lack the compassion for other human beings that aren't Americans. Kindness and compassion should not be determined by what country someone is from. We need to be kind and compassionate when others are in such dire need, no matter where they reside.
Did you know that people who practice compassion and kindness are proven to be healthier and live longer? It's true. 60% of all doctor visits are related to stress. Being kind and compassionate to others is similar to meditating. The benefits are feeling euphoric, calm, and relaxed. There can also be a gain in self esteem.
Numerous scientific studies have proven that acts of kindness result in significant health benefits, both mental and physical.
All of these wonderful things happen to you physically and mentally by being nice or helpful to another human being. Its a win win for everyone.
So what can you do for the people in Haiti? You and your friends could organize a bake sale or car wash to raise money and donate it to the Haiti relief fund. You might collect clothing and find an organization that will be shipping clothing to the Haitians. Ask your relatives to donate five dollars each to your Haiti fund. Get the kids at school to give you their change to be donated to this country in need. As little as it might seem, it will make a difference in someones life.
Three dollars will buy a child a blanket and a few cents pays for hydration tablets. Five dollars will help to buy much needed food and medicine. It is such a small price to pay to be able to help someone survive this catastrophic event.
While you are helping improve the life of someone else by giving in what ever way you can, you will be healthier and happier for it.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
What is fat? It is the most concentrated source of energy in foods. Fats belong to a group of substances called lipoids. Fats come in liquids and solid form. All fats are combination of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Fat is one of the three nutrients (along with protein and carbohydrates) that supply calories to the body.
Fat provides 9 calories per gram, more than twice the number provided by carbohydrates or protein. There are different opinions on this subject, but I believe that you should not have more than 25% of your daily calorie intake be fat. So if you are eating 2000 calories a day, only 500 should be of fat.
Fat is essential for proper functioning of the body. It provides fatty acids for growth and development. Fat controls blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation, and other bodily functions. It also assists in healthy skin and hair.
Fat serves as the storage substance for extra calories. Your body can only store 2000 calories of carbohydrates, but infinite amounts of fat. However, I do not believe the plan was to carry an extra "50 plus pounds" of fat for storage. That is excessive and will lead to poor health and disease.
There are different types of fats. Here is a little definition of each one.
Hydrogenated fats are oils that have been chemically transformed from their normal liquid state into solids. It is done by pumping hydrogen atoms into unsaturated fat. This also creates trans fats when they are cooked. This is not a healthy choice of fat.
Saturated fat are predominantly found in animal fats and are associated with higher cholesterol. Oils such as palm and coconut are also saturated. You need to limit your intake of saturated fats by eating the "leaner" portions of meats, chicken, fish, and pork.
Trans fat is a type of processed fat that does not occur in nature. Used in baked goods like doughnuts, breads, crackers, potato chips, cookies, margarine, and other processed goods. It was so bad for us that the government has put a limit on the amounts that can be used in our foods. Thank goodness, because this is the worst kind of fat to put into your body. I recommend NOT EATING anything with TRANS FAT in it EVER!
Unsaturated fat is derived from plants like olive, soybean, safflower, corn. and nuts. Avocados and fish are also great to eat for unsaturated fats. These are the good fats that your body needs, and where most of your daily intake of fat should come from. CHOOSE UNSATURATED FATS!
When you are choosing your foods, remember that the amount of fat and type of fat that you are eating will make a big difference in achieving your goal to be healthy and lean.
It's all about CHOICES.....
Friday, January 15, 2010
Procrastination is a behavior which is defined by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.
For an individual, procrastination can result in stress, a sense of guilt, the loss of personal productivity, the creation of crisis and the disapproval of others for not fulfilling one's responsibilities or commitments. These combined feelings can promote further procrastination. While it is normal for people to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning
I have procrastinated a great deal in my life. Whether it was about exercise, eating right, organizing, making a call, or a work deadline, I have procrastinated.
I found out that after I procrastinated doing a project, I had made a mountain out of a molehill. It was not the monster I had created it to be. I was amazed that it took me so long to get the task done that I was putting off doing. In reality it took very little time and effort compared to the time and effort I gave the procrastination.
When you procrastinate, take the first step of what you need to get done without thinking about the next step. Sometimes a task or a project will appear overwhelming when you look at the entirety of it. If you can scale down your view of it and start with one small action, you’ll find that it won’t feel as daunting as it did when you looked at the big picture.
For instance; when I lived in the mountains it was an annual event in the fall to have three cords of wood delivered to my home for the winter months. After the truck had dumped the wood into huge piles in my yard, it was up to me to stack each piece of wood into orderly rows against the garage wall.
Looking at these enormous piles of wood I felt exhausted at the task before me. As I began to pick up each piece and stack them in an organized fashion, the piles became smaller and smaller until in no time at all they were all in neat and tidy rows. It was not the ordeal I had made it out to be.
So when you are procrastinating on doing a project or a task, think of it as a pile of wood. If you just pick up one piece at a time, deal with one piece at a time, soon your project will be finished. Rather than focusing on the pile of wood, focus on one piece of wood at a time. You will wonder why you kept putting it off when the procrastination was more stressful than getting the job done.
Mindfulness tips for Procrastination:
Practice taking the first step into the thing you are procrastinating. Choose to think about it in a way that is controllable, as opposed to an overwhelming chore. Remember it is always a choice to think the way you want. Choose to think about it as a manageable task, not the horrible monster that you made it out to be.
Deal with it in small increments of time, rather than calculating the full scope of what might be needed.
For instance, you might be overweight and feel it will be too hard, and take too long to lose the weight, so you keep putting off changing your diet and starting an exercise program.
Just think about today. Eat right today. Exercise today. Don't think about the weeks and months ahead. Taking care of today without the thought of tomorrow, makes the task seem easier. When tomorrow comes, think about it then...one day at a time.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Anger is an emotion that comes from feeling a loss of control, perceived unfair treatment, hurt pride, and not getting what we want. It also arises when we have different values and morals than others. Many get angry that others believe differently or have a lifestyle that is in contrast to them.
If you are physically attacked, then anger can serve you by protecting yourself. If you are wronged by someone, then anger could allow you to defend your position. However, it can be a negative in dealing with these types of circumstance as well.
Being angry momentarily is normal and common. It can be a way to vent the emotion you are feeling. Prolonged anger is proven to be a significant cause of heart disease and heart attacks. When anger promotes aggression then you have taken your emotion into dangerous territory.
When you are angry it can cause physical stress. Some of the physical symptoms include headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, back pain, and excess fat in the mid-section.
Anger can also cause mental stress. It might make you feel frustrated, impatient, vengeful, and obsess over the cause of the anger. It is not an emotion to “hold” onto.
I was angry most of my youth. It became the driving force early on in my life. After years of therapy, I realized how damaging it was for me. I was angry for many reasons, but most of it stemmed from childhood and the dysfunctional family that I grew up in. Everyone was angry in my family; it was the emotion that dominated.
I even defended keeping my anger when a Doctor once tried to convince me to work on getting rid of it. I lived with two emotions, Anger and Depression. When I was angry I could function, but when I was depressed I could not do anything. So anger was helpful in my ability to live. Or so I thought.
I learned that anger and depression were not the only two emotions I had to live by. I also learned to examine the situations that angered me and analyze if I was taking it personally (remember nothing ever is), if it was ego driven, and how to take a moment and breath before I reacted.
Another tool to use against unhealthy anger is to be aware of its physical symptoms. When you feel your adrenalin and blood pressure begin to rage, take a moment and look at the situation with a calmer more observing mind. Let your physical body get back to normal before you react.
Anger is a normal emotion. It is not normal or healthy to hold on to it, become vengeful, and obsess over it for lengthy periods of time. We all get angry, but it usually is not beneficial to ourselves or those around us.
Mindfulness tips for Anger:
Choose to stop and think before you react in anger. Stop and breathe to calm yourself down. Ask yourself if you are taking it personally and reacting from ego. Try and not react when you are angry. Wait until you have had some time to think about the situation and then come from a less emotional place. If you find you can’t stop being angry, find a family member, friend, or professional therapist that you can trust to help you move on from it.