- 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.
Friday, April 30, 2010
There is a carnival in town. It happens every year at the same time. Everyone loves the rides that twirl you upside down and backwards. You can try your luck at the game booths to try and win a stuffed animal or toy trinket. Or you can satisfy your hunger at one of the food booths.
Lets talk about those food booths and discover what it is that you are ingesting while you are enjoying the fair.
There are typical foods at fairs, such as corn dogs, cotton candy, nachos, funnel cakes, curly fries, pizza, snow cones, and fried Twinkies. I am going to give you the low down on each of these carnival treats....and hopefully it will persuade you from wanting to put this so called "food" into your body.
Lets start with the corn dog. Corn dogs are very traditional fair food. Most of us have had a few of these in our life time if we ever visited a carnival or fair. An average corn dog has 375 calories, 1170 mg of sodium, 75 g of cholesterol, and 21 g of fat. Yikes! That is a very unhealthy snack!
Cotton candy seems innocent, not much in it. That is correct! The only thing in it is sugar, and one cotton candy can have the equivalent of 10 and 15 teaspoons of sugar in it. That is a lot of sugar, more than you should have in a day!
Lets talk nachos. A nine inch plate of nachos has 860 calories, 59 g of fat, 70 mg of cholesterol, and 1800 mg of sodium. This is half your daily intake of calories, nearly a total days worth of fat, and enough sodium for a full day. Nice treat, if you are hoping for heart disease!
How about the funnel cake? They smell delicious, but are really the devil in sheep's clothing. An 8 oz cake has approximately 760 calories, 4 teaspoons of sugar, 40% of your daily value of fat, and if you add any toppings to it like sugared strawberries or candies that are offered, this treat can soar to over 1,000 calories. Is it good enough to disrupt your journey to being fit and healthy?
A 7 oz cup of curly fries has 620 calories, 30 g of fat, and over 1500 mg of sodium. If you add ketchup to it you will be adding more calories and sugar to the already unhealthy snack.
A 7" pizza has about 700 calories, 24 g of fat, 41 mg of cholesterol, and 1085 mg of sodium. If you get one that has pepperoni or ham and pineapple on it, your totals of calories and fat sky rocket.
One serving of a snow cone will get you about 270 calories. That is not the horror of snow cones though, it is the amount of sugar in them that is scary. Each snow cone has the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar in them. Yuck! No nutritious value there.
And last but not least, the fried Twinkie. First of all, why would anyone want to take an already unhealthy snack and make it ten times more unhealthy? Well, I guess a lot of people who do not have much concern for their health, if you did care you would never eat one of these. One fried Twinkie has about 450 calories, and 35 g of fat. Again there is zero nutritional value in one of these.
Okay, I know I sound like a downer on the carnival food thing, but there is power in knowledge. Think about it....if you were to have a corn dog, some nachos, and a fried Twinkie as your carnival meal, you would take in about 1685 calories and 115 grams of fat! That is almost a whole days worth of calories and two days worth of fat.
It is no wonder that half our population, 150 million people, are overweight, obese, and candidates for a host of obesity related diseases. Many of these people already have diabetes, heart disease, and have experienced strokes, but continue to eat this kind of food.
If you care about your health I would advise you to watch you intake of carnival food. Have a bite or two if you must, but understand the consequence of what this food will do to your health. Have fun at the fair, but do it moderately if you are trying to be healthy and fit. This kind of food will definitely throw you off your course of losing body fat and feeling better.
Enjoy the rides, the games, the animals, the flowers, the music, and all that goes with being at the fair, but choose wisely when you are eating that unhealthy fair food!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I have written several blogs about the importance of stretching, and gaining flexibility in your body. I want to focus this blog on how important it is to keep your leg muscles stretched and flexible.
Through the many years that I have worked with people in fitness, it is common to have tight hamstrings and calves. Most of the people that I have worked with do not have tight quadriceps, but occasionally a client will show a tightness there too.
Did you know that you can have back problems when your calves and hamstrings are tight? Did you know that if your calves are tight, they can pull on your hamstring and cause a tightness to travel all the way up to your back and neck?
Many people experience this, but there are several very simple stretches that you can do that do not take much time to avoid this type of tightness and possible injury.
First off, our calves are the work horse for our body. Think about it...they have to lift your body every time you walk, run, or step in anyway. They are very strong, working, muscles, and need attention when it comes to flexibility. Keeping your calves flexible will help keep you from experiencing problems in your hips, back, and even your neck.
Here are a few calf stretches you can do to avoid getting injured:
Our hamstrings are where most of us are tight. Some people are born limber, but most of us have to practice stretching to keep these muscles flexible. Our backs will suffer if these muscles stay tight and inflexible. These should be done at least once a day, and multiple times would be better.
Here are a few hamstring stretches to keep you flexible and to avoid back issues:
Stretching our quadriceps is important too. Although many of us do not have tight quadriceps like we do tight hamstrings, it is still important to keep these muscles flexible to avoid body injury and discomfort.
Here are some quadriceps stretches to add to your stretching routine:
So make sure that you are doing these stretches on a daily bases, particularly if you have exercised, but doing them is important even if you are not exercising every day. Hopefully you are though! Exercising each day will get you to your goal of being fit, and feeling fantastic....just don't forget to stretch!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Exercise is an amazing thing. It is shown to do so many positive things for your body. It reduces the risk of many diseases like, heart disease, stroke, or any obesity related illness. It causes the body to create new cells, therefore helps to reverse the aging process. Exercise also helps our bodies to look better by lowering body fat and toning and defining our muscles.
What you may not know is how it effects our brains. Many studies have shown that exercise helps our brains to think better, remember better, and feel better.
Exercise is known to help people who are depressed to get out of their depression. This is one of the main reasons that I began exercising in my youth. I was always depressed, and I found that when I exercised I felt much better. After I would finish my run or bike ride, I would almost feel as if I had taken a tranquilizer. There was a calmness and peacefulness that had not been there before I exercised.
When we are exercising the brain releases certain neurotransmitters and endorphins that alleviate pain both mentally and physically. This is why I always felt better. It would help to change my mood and became the way that I dealt with my depression.
Exercise also helps the brain to create new neurons in the hippocampus, which is the center of memory and learning in the brain. Studies have shown that if you exercise prior to an exam, you will most likely score higher. What a great thing to know!
When you engage in exercise you create more blood, oxygen, and glucose to the brain, as well as the whole body. Aerobic activity also increases your heart rate and breathing which gives you more energy and improves the cognitive memory function of your brain.
It is proven that exercise helps to clear your head and helps to enhance positive thinking. I can attest to this! It will help to boost your self esteem and give you more confidence. Exercise also helps with job performance and productivity, which gives one a feeling of accomplishment and self satisfaction.
Recent studies have shown that exercise may help prevent degenerative mental disease like Alzheimer's and dementia. What a great thing to know and practice now. Being consistent with cardiovascular exercise can keep you from experiencing many awful illness's as you age.
Basically doing aerobic exercise not only helps you to look great and feel great, it can make you smarter, more productive, better at what you do, and keep many diseases from ever entering your body.
If you want quality of life....you need to have exercise in your daily schedule. Eating healthy is obviously extremely important as well, but exercise is the best medicine for your body, mind, and soul!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Have you ever noticed that when you have given of yourself to someone else in a kind way that you feel good. It is in the "giving" that we receive true joy.
When ever I have said a kind word or done something for someone else without expecting something back, I have been the beneficiary of joy and good feelings.
There are health benefits to giving. People who give of themselves, whether it is service or monetarily, are happier and healthier people. Studies have been done on people who perform community service, and they have found that these kind of people live a life with more joy than those who never give anything to others.
The Dali Lama says that, "If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another."
Albert Einstein said, "The value of a man resides in what he gives, not in what he is capable in receiving."
Saint Frances of Assisi was quoted as saying, "For it is in the giving that we receive."
A Hindu proverb states, "They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing."
Barbara Bush has said, "Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their lives blood, but everyone has something to give."
Henry Drummond a Canadian poet in the 1800's wrote, "There is not happiness in having or getting, only in giving."
Dale Evans stated, "Every time we love, every time we give its Christmas."
John D. Rockefeller said, "Think of giving not as a duty, but as a privilege."
Thornton Wilder said, "Money is like manure; its not worth a thing unless it is spread around encouraging young things to grow."
So you can see some very wise and successful people understand the importance of giving. If you are feeling down, blue, stressed out, or just bored, try to giving to someone else of your time or just a kind word or two. You will feel better and be healthier for it.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The warm weather months are nearing, and we are entering the time of outdoor activities and summer fun. Swimming is one of the most popular exercises for those hot summer days. It is also known for being one of the best ways to exercise for several reasons.
One of the reasons swimming is a great way to exercise is that it is non impact and supports weightlessness for the body. People who are overweight, pregnant, or injured will have an easier time exercising in the water, as opposed to an impact exercise such as running or walking.
Some of the things you may not know about swimming are surprising. Studies show that if you submerge your body in water colder than your body temperature on a consistent bases, you will have more body fat than that of an athlete that is a runner, bike rider, hiker, or any other sport done out of water.
The reason for this is your body basically uses fat to insulate itself from the cold water it is constantly submerged in. It is a protection from the cold. However if you use it as part of your cross training program (see blog on cross training), this should not be an issue.
Another thing that happens to us when we are in cold water for long periods of time is it will increase our appetite. Many of us who swim will feel very hungry after wards and will replace all of the calories burned during the exercise, and them some, by overeating after our swim. This makes it harder to get the fat loss that we are trying to attain.
If swimming is not the only way you are intending to exercise, neither of those issues should be a problem for you. Swimming is still a great way to get fit and have fun at the same time.
Swimming works the whole body. You can tone and define most muscles during a swimming workout. You will also have less stress and on your joints, due to the weightlessness in the water, so your body will feel more comfortable during the exercise than that of an impact sport.
Ocean swimming is a bit more challenging, but can be very invigorating and will give you amazing results. If you can deal with all that goes with the ocean; sea weed, fishes, salt water, cold temperatures, currents, and rougher waters, you will have a fantastic workout.
You can burn anywhere from 250 to 900 calories per hour while swimming. It will depend on your body weight, ability, and effort, that will determine how many calories burned. Obviously the more effort, the more calories you will burn.
So go to a pool, lake, or ocean to get a good workout in now that our warmer days are upon us. Don't forget your sunblock!!! Enjoy and have fun!
Friday, April 23, 2010
This week has been a celebration of Earth Day. I have seen articles, television programs, and local events that were focused on the many ways we can take care of our earth for future generations to come.
When you are young, there is a feeling that it will be a long time before you get old. You feel as if you will be alive forever. Worrying about aging or your environment is not usually a priority in your teen years.
Having been young, and now in my fifty's, I can tell you that it does not take a long time to leave your youth, in fact I feel like my life is on fast forward and going faster every day.
This is the time to be conscious of your environment. This is the time to develop habits of being "Green", and earth conscious. Make it a lifestyle, just like learning to eat healthy and exercise daily. All of these practices will help keep you healthy and the generations that follow.
While we are hear on this earth, we leave what is called a carbon foot print. A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact that our activities leave on the environment, and particularly climate change. It is the relationship to all of the products your have, the activities you do, and how you live, to the greenhouse gasses that come from those things.
There are many ways to help our environment, and you can participate by doing some of these things in your own life.
1. Turn off your lights at home when you aren't using them.
2. Use metal or glass bottles for your water, instead of plastic.
3. Don't leave the water running in the sink for washing dishes, brushing teeth, or washing hands and face.
4. Take shorter showers.
5. Recycle anything that can be recycled like plastic, cardboard, paper, and electronics.
6. Ask your family to change to energy efficient light bulbs.
7. Try and purchase products that are environmentally safe.
8. Pick up litter if you see any when walking and dispose of it properly.
9. Plant flowers, trees, or a garden in your yard to increase the green.
10. Share all of this with your friends so that you can spread being "green" to all you know.
Make an effort to be kind to our planet. Leave a smaller carbon footprint so the next generation won't inherit a earth that is weakened by our lack of consciousness. Take responsibility for how you live, not only with exercise, healthy eating, and mindfulness, but with how you treat this beautiful earth that we call home!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Did you know that if you are 16 to 19 years old that you are in the age group for having the highest rate of car accidents? The number one cause of death for teens is automobile accidents. In 2008 nine teenagers ages 16 to 19 died each day from car accidents. That is nearly 3,300 senseless deaths per year for this age group.
Those are the teens that died, there are thousands more that are seriously injured each year. Many are paralyzed for life. Many are brain damaged. Many live, but kill a passenger and have to live with that each day for the rest of their life. Remember that making one mistake can be with you a forever.
There are many reasons why teens are more susceptible to car accidents. One of the biggest reasons is the lack of experience behind the wheel of a car. Teens do not have the ability to judge a dangerous or hazardous situation and make the proper decisions to avoid a collision.
Teens are also more likely to use risky behavior while driving. Because of their lack of driving experience they do not understand the consequences of taking such risks.
Male teens have a higher rate of accidents than females, nearly two times the rate of female drivers. Male teens have more of a need to show off, speed, and drink while driving. They also are more apt to not wear their seat belts while driving, or being a passenger in a car.
Teenagers also use excessive speed while driving. Their ability to handle a car at those speeds, or dealing with a dangerous situation while driving at high speed, is not there.
Then there is the whole texting thing. Teens have no idea the importance of being focused while driving, nor do they have the reflexes to handle an emergency situation as those of a seasoned driver. Texting is a ridiculous thing for anyone to do while driving, let alone an inexperienced driver like a teenager. No one should text while driving!
Three out of four teenage deaths from car accidents were alcohol related. When alcohol is involved with teen driving, seat belts are rarely used. This makes the accident even more dangerous and likely to cause death.
Many teens feel infallible to death. They do not realize the risks they take can end their life in an instant, as well as the passengers who are along for the ride. Car surfing is an example of their lack of understanding of how easy it is to risk their life for a momentary thrill.
Car surfing is where one teen rides on top of the car while another teen drives at high speed, performing risky maneuvers, and braking radically to try and force the teen who is riding on top to fall off the car. Not a very bright move for anyone involved with this activity. It is ignorant, stupid, and immature, at best.
There are laws in place that state that a new driver at age 16 can not have an underage passenger in the car with them without an adult present for the first year of driving. This only works if teens pay attention to the law. Unfortunately not all do.
So if you are a teenage driver, pay attention to the law. Focus on your driving and not any other activities while driving. Never drink and drive. Never get into a car as a passenger when the driver has been drinking.
Drive defensively, responsibly, and with caution so that you will not be one of the statistics of teenage automobile accidents.