- 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.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I think it is a good time to remind ourselves of the six components of getting to a "healthy whole self". Throughout this blog I have written over and over about these six components. If you are serious about being healthy in a whole sense, you should revisit my blogs beginning from January 1st up until today's date to find more on these topics.
The first, and I believe to be most important thing to begin your health journey, is to learn how to control your thinking. I refer to it as mindfulness, being conscious and deliberate about your thoughts. As I have stated many times, many of us are victims of our thoughts. Our mind chatter runs rampant with negative, fearful, thoughts that are never a help or benefit for us. It is key to understand that no one is in your head but you, and you are the one thinking those things. You are the one that can change how you think, and become in charge of any thoughts that you have.
Becoming mindful of our thoughts, actions, and emotions, will put you in the power seat, instead of being controlled by them. We can choose how we think, react, or emote to anything....in actuality we already do choose all of those things, but most of the time it is in an unconscious manner. So practice your mindfulness by choosing how you think, react, or feel, and most importantly, stay in the present time. Be mindful of this moment, it is all you really have you know, and that can set you free of past and future torment.
The second most important component for total health, is nutrition. It is very simple to understand how you should eat. I have said this over and over as well....Eat natures food for the bulk of your diet, and you will be healthier for it. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins, are what you want to eat. These are the foods that come from nature, not a factory where humans have disturbed natures balance.
Stay away from processed food, fast food, high sugar, high fat, foods. Stay away from foods laden with chemicals, artificial ingredients, and ingredients that you can not pronounce or know what they are. All of those things are found in processed foods. They have little to no nutrition in them, but are full of things that do not promote health. Stick to what nature has provided for you....that is how you stay healthy and lean.
Third on the list is exercise. You must move your body and involve yourself in cardiovascular exercise, as well as strength training to build muscle. A healthy body has a strong heart from doing something aerobic on a regular bases. Run, walk, bike ride, roller blade, swim, hike, or participate in any aerobic exercise at least five to seven days a week for optimal health.
A healthy body has muscle from doing strength training exercises for it to be strong, beautiful, and youthful. Building muscle is a must for health. Muscle increases your metabolism to help burn more fat even while you are at rest. Weight bearing exercise is crucial for a healthy body, and it will keep you looking great too.
Fourth on my healthy whole body to-do list, is making sure you are doing stretching exercises each day. You must stay flexible to reduce risk of injury and keep your body feeling good. Stretching or Yoga exercises open up your energy flow, reduces stress, and helps you to relax. This is a great thing to do when you are stressed or feeling anxious. Many people who practice yoga find it to be very meditative as well. Flexibility is a must for over all health.
The fifth component for a whole healthy self is meditation. I am not listing these in matters of importance, for I believe that meditation is of utmost importance for a healthy self. I have written several blogs about meditation which you can find in the archives. This is a tool that can change your life for the better on all levels, mental, physical, and spiritual. Meditation is a practice, it is not something you will master right away. It is something that will be of great benefit to you body, mind, and soul, for your entire life.
Last but not least, you must get your rest to be healthy. Without rest nothing will function properly for you. Sleep is where your body heals, restores, and rejuvenates itself. I have written blogs on rest and sleep that will help you to understand why it is so important. If you do not get at least eight hours of sleep a night, you will be sleep deprived. A healthy body gets its sleep!
So there you have the six most important components for a healthy whole self. Begin to incorporate these practices into your daily life if you are wanting to be at your best and feel your best. Your life will change for the better, I promise you that!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Shopping in grocery stores can be tricky if you are wanting to buy healthy foods. The first thing that you need to know is that grocery store owners make most of their profits on the processed food items. They make the least amount of money on the fresh fruit and vegetable isles, the foods that are the best for you.
Keep in mind that the number one reason we eat is to give our bodies nutrition. We have turned eating into outlets for pleasure, stress, boredom, or any other emotional reason you can think of, but nutrition is still the most important reason we need to put food into our stomachs.
If nutrition is the reason we eat, then eating a diet largely made from processed foods completely ignores the crucial and most important component of why we eat. There is little to no nutrition in most of the processed foods that grocery stores stock their shelves with.
Since the largest profits come from processed foods in a grocery store, it makes sense that those are the items that will make up the bulk of what is in the store. Not to mention, processed foods have a shelf life that sometimes lasts for years, so the store owner does not have to worry about their expiration dates as he does when it comes to fruits and vegetables that are perishable.
So given the information that many of the grocery stores carry mostly processed food, and that is what makes up most of its inventory, how can you navigate through the store without getting trapped by the sale of processed food?
I said it before, but it is worth repeating, your most healthy non-processed foods are found in the perimeter of the grocery store, not down the center isles. Your fresh produce, meats, poultry, and dairy, are all kept towards the outer walls of grocery stores. It is when you start filling up your cart down the center isles that you can get into the unhealthy, processed foods.
Some stores now carry healthier items in their processed food isles like cereals that are made from whole grains, no chemicals, or high based sugars. You must read the labels to make sure you are getting a processed food that is not full of preservatives, sugar, bleached flours, chemicals, and such.
I find that staying away from brands that are coming from huge conglomerates , like General Mills, Kellogg, and Kraft, and looking for food that is made by "natural" manufacturing companies like, Nature Made or Nature's Path, helps to insure a healthier product. If you do not know what the ingredients are on a package, or cannot pronounce them, don't buy it.
Some people argue that healthy food is more expensive than most processed food. I disagree with that. Many people eat way too much food. If they ate the portion amount that they should, buying fresh fruits and vegetables can be just as economic as buying bulk processed food that they eat too much of.
I would rather eat smaller amounts of food that will give me the nutrition I need, than to eat large amounts of non nutritious food that does nothing for me except make me full, fat, unhealthy, and wanting more of it because of its addictive qualities.
Another thing to remember when you are going into a grocery store to shop, is to not go when you are really hungry. No doubt you will grab things that you don't need or really want when your hunger is driving you. Best to shop when you are not hungry so that you can making healthy choices.
So stay out of the center isles as much as possible, don't shop when you are hungry, and read your food labels on all processed foods! Take control of what it is you are eating.....remember that "we are what we eat". It is your choice to be healthy or unhealthy by what you ingest....choose well!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Now that I have gotten into the twenty-first century, I finally have a DVR. I am able to tape shows that I would not have normally been able to watch during the day because of work. I now record the "Oprah" show each day, and watch it when my work day has finished.
Yesterday she had Tyler Perry on the show. For those of you who do not know who Tyler Perry is, he happens to be the second most successful man in Hollywood, James Cameron being the first. Tyler Perry made the movie "Precious", among many other films, which was about a young girl who suffered unbelievable verbal, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her mother and father. This movie was some what autobiographical for Mr. Perry, and mirrored much of what he endured during his childhood.
I was touched by the fact that Mr. Perry was brutally beaten, verbally abused, sexually abused by three men and one women before the age of ten, and against all odds, made a huge success out of his life. He was able to not let his "circumstance" take power over how he chose to live his life. He chose not to be a victim of his circumstance, but to become empowered by it and live a life that he created no matter what had happened to him.
This outcome of an abused person is not the norm. I love hearing stories about people who have been able to transcend their abusive past, and turn their lives around. Many people that live with abuse will continue that cycle throughout their lives, choosing to be destructive to themselves, and others around them. There are those like Mr. Perry who have chosen to find a better path, and overcome what has happened to him. He took his power back.
This shows such strength and character to be able to rise above what was truly evil behavior, and live a life that is compassionate, caring, loving, and successful. I have great respect for anyone who can make that journey.
We all have a story to tell about our life. Many of us experience abuse. Whether it is verbal, physical, or sexual, it is rare to meet anyone who has not experienced some kind of abuse from someone in their lives. In my training career I can tell you that many of my female clients had been sexually abused. Many of my friends and clients in the past thirty years had dealt with verbal abuse from their parents, and some had physical abuse as well.
Ultimately it is up to us how we are going to deal with what has happened to us. Are we going to give the abuser our power and let them destroy our lives? Many people do and suffer decades, if not their whole life, after the abuse has stopped. They are unable to take their power back and create the life that they really want. Destroying your life allows the abuser to keep winning, long after the abuse has ended.
We must understand that when someone is abusing us, particularly as a child where our choices are limited, it is never about us. It is always about the abusers insecurities, dysfunctions, mental disorders, or anger problems. They just project them onto whoever is weaker and unable to protect themselves. They dump all of their abuse onto those that are close to them, many times it is the small, innocent children that become the target. They are bullies, cowards, and broken individuals who are not able to transcend their own abusive past.
We always have choices, no matter what our circumstance might be. We can always choose to overcome our abuse if we are conscious, and mindful of it. It is not easy, but then living a destructive, downward spiral of a life is not easy either. I do not know why some of us experience a life of abuse, and others may not. I do not know why some of us have to struggle more than others do, or why some of us experience challenges more than others.
I do know that we are all on our own journey, and it is not to be compared to anyone else. We are handed a certain set of circumstance when we are born. Some of us get a childhood that has loving, supporting parents, and some of us don't. Whatever your circumstance is, you can make it what you want by not giving any abuse you might be experiencing the power to destroy you. Find counseling, discover the strength inside you, choose to understand that any abuse that you might have experienced, is never about you....it is always about them.
It is not easy to find strength when it has been physically and mentally beaten out of you. It is in you though. There is a wonderful, strong, capable, being inside of you that can shine through all of the negative that has crossed your path. Tyler Perry is living proof of that. His story gives many people the hope that they too can thrive and become a successful, compassionate, loving, person, regardless of their past. He is an inspiration to all of us.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Fall has definitely arrived where I live. It is now getting darker earlier, and the temperature has dropped. We are no longer able to be active outside in the evening hours. I do love that about the summer....riding bikes at eight o'clock at night is always great fun.
We tend to have a natural slow down when this time of the year comes around. Pretty soon it will be dark at 5:00 p.m., and much of the time that signals us to stop being as active. We also have the tendency to eat more during this time of year, perhaps it is similar to storing up for hibernation.
For these reasons it is important to be conscious of how much we are eating, and what kind of activity we are engaged in during the holiday and winter months. If we are not careful, five to ten pounds can be added to our bodies without us being aware of it.
Make sure that you are exercising even though the days are getting shorter. Make sure that you are choosing to eat mostly natures foods, even though holiday treats, and rich foods are much more available. Most of us are not happy gaining weight, for a few moments of over indulgence.
Choose to be moderate in your "fun" food eating. Take tastes of things, rather than eating full servings of something that is full of sugar, white flour, and fat. Eat slowly and chew slowly so that you can enjoy the flavor of your decadent foods while eating smaller amounts.
Find time to exercise earlier in the day so that the day won't get away from you and you run out of light. Choosing to exercise indoors with a gym membership, home equipment, or exercise videos, are ways to keep your fitness program going when the day light has ended.
It is all in the planning. Make a goal not to put on those winter pounds. Keep your exercise and diet in the healthy zones. Your body does not like it when you gain and lose weight, but rather likes to be at a steady healthy weight. It is not good for your heart to gain and lose pounds, particularly if those pounds start to be thirty, forty, or fifty pounds or more of weight. Best to find a healthy weight and stay there.
I love this time of the year. The leaves are beginning to turn, and the air is a little chillier, football is being played, and the holidays are coming. All we need to do is to be aware of our choices, and then choose the healthy ones!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Perception is everything. It is how you feel about any situation, person, or thing. Perception can make the difference in being happy, or miserable. It can make the difference in being scared, or confident. Perception can make the difference in all that you think about.
What is perception? A psychology web page defines it this way; "Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli, and actions in response to these stimuli. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about properties and elements of the environment that are critical to our survival. Perception not only creates our experience of the world; it allows us to act within our environment."
So what exactly does that mean? Well to put it in simple terms; perception is what you think about your experience and interaction to the world around you and all that you do and see.
Two people can have the same experience but have completely different perceptions of what happened. I have seen it with my clients over and over. I have trained married couples many times, and one of them will tell me about an experience that they had, and the other one who had the same experience had a completely different perception of what that experience was. Same experience, different perception.
How you perceive of any situation can make the difference in you being happy with it or not. For instance, if your boyfriend breaks up with you, you can perceive this in several ways. You might think that you weren't good enough for him, or you might think that you are a loser. A better way to perceive it would be to think that he wasn't the right one for you, and now you have the opportunity to find a boyfriend that is.
Lets say that you have failed a test in school. You could perceive this that you are stupid and not capable of learning. Or you could perceive that you did not study like you should, but you are very smart and capable of getting a good grade by giving your studying more effort.
Have you ever heard of the saying, "A glass half empty, or a glass half full"? What this means is that some people look at their situations in life as a glass half empty, which means they see things as less than what they could be. For instance; if you have an old car that has a bad paint job and a few dents in it, you could perceive this as a bad thing. Or you could look at it as a glass half full, and you are lucky to be able to have a car at all. Perception....
I have told this story before, but it is worth telling again. When the fires in Santa Barbara burned down over 300 homes a few years ago, the local television station had a reporter interviewing two families who were neighbors, both had lost everything they owned, and their homes had burned to the ground.
The first family interviewed was distraught and emotionally broken. They talked to the reporter through their tears and expressed their grief in sobs and words of desperation. I do not want to make light of this situation, it would be an awful thing to have happen, but the fact is it did. Being so distraught would not change the fact that this horrible thing happened.
The second family who lost everything as well, announced without tears, that they had wanted to re-model their home anyway, and now because of the fire they had the opportunity to do so. They were accepting what had happened and knew they could not change it, but they could move forward. Perception.
Two families, same situation, different perception. Which one would feel better to you? Many times in our lives things happen that are traumatic and horrible. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as how we deal with those situations that matter. Your perception of any situation will make the difference in how you feel and what the outcome becomes.
So when you are going through your day, be conscious of how you are perceiving things. Did that person say something mean because of you, or was it really all about them. Did you feel jealous because of something that was real, or were you imagining something that really did not exist. Remember that we take a lot of things personal, when they never are.
We create more upset in our lives by perceiving something incorrectly, when we could avoid it by thinking about it in a better, healthier way. Take a look at your perceptions, you may be surprised how you can view your life differently. Its all in the perception!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Here I go again talking to you of the importance of eating your vegetables. I can't help myself....eating vegetables will help to keep you healthy and lean, it is one of the most important foods that we need for a healthy body and mind.
Cruciferous vegetables are the ones that help to fight cancer and help to build and protect your immune system. They are filled with vitamin C and K, potassium, folic acid, iron, calcium, and fiber. Some of the cruciferous vegetables include, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. You can eat these raw, which is where you will receive more of the nutrient value, or lightly steamed.
Dark green leafy vegetables are high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotinoids, and vitamins B, C, E, and K. Some of the choices for these are Kale, spinach, collard greens, parsley, turnip greens, and Swiss chard. You will be sure to get your allotment of vitamins and minerals eating a diet that includes these vegetables.
I have always heard that carrots will help with your eyesight. This is true. Carrots are high in carotinoid's and vitamin A. They are also a source for vitamins B, C, and K. Carrots give you fiber, potassium, magnesium, and folate, all are essential for good health.
Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, and lycopene. Lycopene is a carotinoid, and carotinoids act as an antioxidant in the body. Remember that antioxidants are the soldiers that work on ridding our bodies of free radicals that disease and age us. To think that vegetables help to slow down our aging and keep us from getting sick....what a deal!
Asparagus is another great vegetable which gives us potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and B complex, especially vitamin B6 and folic acid. Our B vitamins get depleted with stress, so this is a great way to give the body back what it needs. Asparagus can help us to lose weight, reduce inflammation, and help us with depression.
Bell peppers, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, and peas, are also full of healthy nutrients, fiber and all of the things that help to keep us disease free and energized. Eating all vegetables raw or lightly steamed is recommended for keeping the nutrient value intact. If you cook them to death, you will not be getting the vitamins and minerals that you are looking for. The less they are cooked, the better.
Thank you for indulging me in another vegetable blog! Now go and make yourself a big salad packed full of raw vegies! Enjoy!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
This is a heavy conversation to have, but in light of the recent events where a young man jumped off a bridge to his death because he felt there was no alternative for him, I feel the need to talk about this subject, "Teen Suicide".
I found out that it is the third leading cause of death for young people the age of 15 to 24. Thousands of young boys and girls take there life each year feeling too lost, lonely, broken, and shattered to stay here in their human bodies. The majority of these suicides are male.
It is hard for most people to go through their teenage years. Hormones are at peak levels, social and peer pressure are intense, and finding your own self amidst all of this is at best, difficult. I had suicidal thoughts as a teen. My home life was difficult and I felt that suicide could be an alternative to dealing with it all.
What I see now looking back on it, was that I was being pretty dramatic and was not looking at the big picture. I remember my girlfriend and I were writing notes back and forth to each other at school about it. We would talk about how everyone would feel bad when we were gone. How our suicides would make an impact on all of those that hurt us, or treated us badly. They would all feel horrible when we were gone.
The thing that we forgot to think about, was that we would be gone, never to come back. The finality of it was not in our thoughts. The truth about suicide is that it is final. I know a little about this because my brother committed suicide. It was one of the most painful things that I have ever experienced.
I loved my brother so much. He never talked about killing himself. He was not a teenager, but much older when he took his life. It has been nearly eleven years now, and the pain of his loss is still with me. It was final....shocking....no going back....no changing the outcome. I miss him every day. Suicide is final, and devastating for anyone who loved that person. I felt helpless and excruciatingly sad for the pain he must have felt to have taken his life by hanging.
Nearly four years ago a 17 year old girl from a school near where I live, hung herself from a tree on a cold winters night. Her mother discovered her after finding her car off a rural road. She was an only child. I can not imagine the pain and suffering that this mother must be enduring still. I do not know how a mother could survive this. It is said that this girl did this because her boyfriend left her for someone else. Tragic and completely unnecessary.
I tell all of my teen students that no matter how sad or unhappy they might be about any situation, things always change, and your feelings do as well. You must love yourself before you can love or be loved. There is no one you can not live without. There is no situation that you can not survive and thrive from. There is nothing that is worth taking your life for. This is your life and it is a journey of many experiences, ups and downs, and twists and turns.
This is what life is; good, bad, fun, sad, hard, easy, magical, difficult, joyful, challenging, interesting, boring, and all of the emotions that you can think of. When you think that life is horrible, something will happen and suddenly it can turn around and be spectacular. You never know what tomorrow will bring. I have heard so many peoples stories of how they were on the brink of destruction and suddenly something showed up to bring support, help, and positive change. This has happened to me numerous times.
If you are practicing mindfulness, and all of the ways I write about to take care of yourself, you will have a much better outlook towards your life. If you are experiencing depression or having suicidal thoughts, find someone you trust to talk to. Reach out to a counselor, teacher, friend, family member, or anyone that you can feel comfortable with. Find an agency in your area through the internet that helps with teen suicide. There is always someone to talk to and someone to help.
I know the feeling of wanting to commit suicide. Aside from my teen years, I have had those thoughts in difficult times in my life. I know that it is never an option for me, even though it is a thought. I know that things always change and tomorrow is a new day. I practice my mindfulness and stay out of negative thought more now than ever. I practice what I preach.
If you know of anyone who is feeling depressed or suicidal, offer them your ear and help them find the support that they need. Suicide is final, the drama around it, is not. Any life is precious..... and yours is no exception.