About Me

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.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cross Train to Avoid Injury and Boredom

Cross training is the best way to train if you want to lower your risk of injury, and keep boredom out of your exercise regime.  I have covered this topic before, but like everything I have written about, it is worth revisiting.  Basically, cross training is using a variety of training methods to achieve your fitness goals.

I believe that you must do cardiovascular exercise along with strength training, and stretching to have a complete fitness program.  In some forms of exercise you can achieve more than one of these objectives by performing one exercise.  For instance, if you are hiking in an area where there is steep terrain, you will not only receive benefits for cardiovascular exercise, but you will be getting strength training for your legs and butt as well.  You can find a spot to do a few sets of push ups along the way, and you have worked much of your body with this one hike.

Perhaps the next day you will decide to do some weight training, and cardio on the treadmill, concluding with a few yoga poses.  The following day you take a fast pace walk interspersed with a little jogging, followed by a stretch.  Then the day after that you take a bike ride, come home and do several minutes of plank exercise, and then a floor stretch.  Then you decide to take a kick boxing class at your local gym the day after that.  This is what cross training is.

Cross training not only helps you to avoid injury and boredom, it will help the body to keep from acclimating to, or getting used to doing one activity over and over by using fewer calories and energy to do it.  Cross training confuses the body more and doesn't allow this acclimating process to happen as easily.

As a fitness trainer for thirty years I can tell you that variety is the best way to train.  However, I also understand that there are only so many ways to train your biceps, or train your shoulders safely.  Sometimes we have to be O.K. with a certain amount of repetition when it comes to training the body.  People come up with weird things all of the time in the fitness world, but many of the "old" standard exercises that are a safe,  are better way to train then some of the new and different ways created just to be different.

I love to ride my bike, sand run, hike, race walk, and jog.  Strength training for me involves free weights, weight machines, the exercise ball, and resistance exercises like the plank.  These are the types of exercises that I use to cross train.  I have never used swimming for exercise, but it is a great thing to add in to your cross training program if you like it.  The key is to "like" the exercises that you are choosing.  If you are doing something that you really hate, you won't want to do it.  Find the things that you enjoy to create your cross training program.

I tend  to exercise by myself most of the time, but I do like to ride bikes, or hike with a friends.  Actually, I recommend that you always hike with a friend, or friends, as it is safer to do so.  Many people are more motivated to exercise with somebody, rather than go it alone.  Find out what works for you and follow through with it.  If you need a work out buddy, find a partner that is not going to flake out on you.  Make the commitment together to get into shape, and then keep each other accountable to your fitness schedule.

Cross training can make your exercise program much more enjoyable.  Lowering your risk of injury is a great plus.  This happens because your body is using different muscles, in different ways, which allows the body to not be over used by doing one type of exercise .  Elite athletes sometimes experience injury due to the fact that they are performing the same sport or exercise over and over again, creating fatigue and weakness in areas of their bodies.  They must do this to be the best at their particular sport, but most of us do not need to over use our bodies in this way.

So create a cross training program for yourself to avoid boredom, and lower your risk of injury.  You will have better results and enjoy your workouts more when you add in variety.  It all adds up to being fit, healthy, and looking great! 

Till Monday,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Exercise for Stress Relief

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to exercise.  There are numerous studies to support this claim that come by the way of the Mayo Clinic, the C.D.C., and the American Heart Association just to name a few.  It does not matter what type of exercise that you choose to do as they all support stress reduction.

There are different types of stress, but all forms of stress can be a negative to your physical and mental parts of you.  You might be stressed out by having to meet a deadline, or stressed by a relationship, or feeling stress from needing money.  Whatever the reason is, you can help relieve it with exercise.

I have always said that the main reason that I have exercised my entire life was to feel better and relieve my stress.  Whether it was stress over emotions, or stress over meeting the needs of survival, I learned early on that I felt calmer and more relaxed if I got out and exercised. 

The reason that stress is relieved after exercise is that the body releases sedative like endorphins into the body when it is in a exercise state.  It is far better than reaching for alcohol or drugs as many people do to find stress relief.  You will not have the harmful effects with exercise as you do when you engage in using drugs or alcohol to numb yourself from the pain of your stress.  In fact, exercise gives you nothing but positive effects along with the reduction of stress.

Many times when we are stressed out, the last thing we feel like doing is exercising.  That is an unfortunate fact, but if you can remember how good you always feel following a workout, it may help you to begin to exercise when you are feeling stressed out.  Even if it is just to go outside for a walk, once you get going you will begin to feel better.

There is a saying, "Stress Kills".  This is so true, but before it kills you it will reek havoc in your body and in your mind.  Many people believe that stress creates disease of all kinds.  I am one of those people.  If you understand that your immune system is compromised by stress, then it only makes sense when you are stressed out a lot, your immune system will not be able to protect you from sickness and disease as it does when you are stress free.

It does not matter if you are doing an aerobic exercise like running, biking, or walking.  They all lower stress levels.  It does not matter if you are weight training, doing Pilates, or practicing Yoga, they all lower stress.  Moving your body with any form of exercise helps reduce stress.  Add in meditation and you will have the tools you need to manage your stress levels for life.

In many ways exercise is like active meditation.  I have always used my cardio for that purpose.  When I ride my bike, I am in a zone of active meditation.  Walking or running works the same for me in that regard.  Not only do I receive the benefits of stress reduction, I gain the positive results of active meditation.  I always feel great after any of these types of exercise sessions.

So remember when you are feeling stressed out, whether it be anxiety, anger, fear, or worry, exercise of any kind can help you to feel better.  At the same time you will be doing wonderful things for your body like fat reduction, oxygenating your blood, lowering blood pressure, reversing the aging process, lowering cholesterol, strengthening your body, and too many other positive things to mention.  Exercise is a win win any way that you look at it.

Practice using exercise to lower your stress level.  The reward will be how great you will feel, and the side effect of it will be that you will look fantastic! 

Till Monday,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Being in Gratitude

I decided to veer off my path of talking about exercise this week, and talk a little bit about gratitude.  Given the events of the past few weeks with the Middle East turmoil, and now the horrific disaster that has taken place in Japan, I believe that many of us can reflect on the life that we have and feel gratitude for it.

There are many scientific studies that have shown people who practice gratitude in their daily lives, are happier and healthier for it.  Rather than focus on what it is in our lives that we don't like, we need to focus on the things in our lives that we are grateful for.  Watching what is happening around the world has shown me how truly blessed I am to live the life I live.

I may have my struggles, as most of us do, but they pale in comparison to the struggles of many.  I found myself feeling gratitude for my warm and cozy bed last night as I watched the earthquake and tsunami victims on the news.  I felt gratitude for the roof over my head, and the refrigerator in my kitchen full of food and drink.  I fell asleep to quiet and calm, instead of bombs and gun fire as many do in the war torn countries around the world.  I felt gratitude for this.

When I woke up this morning I was grateful for my warm house and the ability to have a hot cup of tea as I got ready for my day.  The fact that I could take a warm shower and have water and electricity was more than so many people are able to do, again I was grateful.  As I began my day of work I felt gratitude for the wonderful people who come to me and pay me to help them work out.  How lucky I am to do what I do....more gratitude.

Then later in the morning a dear friend of mine gave me a gift that was so generous and thoughtful, it brought me to tears.  How grateful I felt to have someone like her in my life who is so special.  I literally swelled up with so much gratitude that I thought I would burst!

I am blessed in many ways, even if it is to just acknowledge my little cat who brings me joy and comfort, or the peacocks that visit my house each day.  I am grateful for all of these things.  I have gratitude for my teen girls who take my program for exercise and health instruction.  I feel grateful that I can help them become happier and healthier people, for that I feel privileged and full of gratitude.

I feel such gratitude for my health.  There are many people that can not make that statement, but I am able to....gratitude.  I feel grateful to be able to get in my car and drive where ever I want to go.  That is a freedom  many people do not have.  I have gratitude for my freedom of religion, or the freedom to not believe in religion.  In many places of the world I could be jailed or murdered for that.

I am grateful to be a female in America.  Women are degraded and tortured in so many parts of this world.  They are seen as second class citizens, or even worse than that.  I have gratitude to be a woman in the United States where we have a voice and are closer to equal rights than anywhere else on this planet.  More gratefulness....

I have gratitude for my daughter who is wonderful, bright, loving, caring, and intelligent.  I have gratitude for my brother who has come out of the darkness and is becoming the person he always could have been.  I have gratitude for my friends and family who support me and love me unconditionally. 

If you want to feel better, and actually be healthier, practice being in gratitude every day.  I feel fantastic just by writing this blog.  Make "your" list of what it is you are grateful for, and you might find your list growing as mine did.  It is more productive to focus on what we are grateful for, rather than where we find lack.  I also believe that when you focus on gratitude, more good things will fill up your life, just as I believe that focusing on the negative will bring you more negative. 

So be in gratitude as often as you can.  Make your gratitude list and read it everyday.  Focus on what is right with your life, instead of what is wrong.  Happy people are healthier people.  Remember it is always a choice in what you want to focus on....make yours Gratitude!

Till Monday,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Moving Our Bodies

I have been going over the mindfulness training, and nutritional guidance information for the past couple of months.  Now lets talk more about exercising our bodies.  We want to remember our mind training, and how we can use it to get ourselves off the couch, and into exercise.

Having trained people in exercise for thirty years, I can tell you that exercise is not something most people like to do on a consistent bases.  Typically, people come in and out of it, or never get into it at all.  If you want to be healthy, reverse the aging process, feel your best, and look your best, exercise is vital for those results.

As I have stated before, I do not always like to exercise like people think I do.  There are many days that I would rather not, but I know the benefits of it, and how good I always feel when I am done.  Just the other day a friend e-mailed me a study from the N.Y. Times all about how exercise slows down the aging process.  In our vain society, that ought to motivate us to get moving and stick to it!

There are many, many, articles that I have done in this blog about exercise and its benefits.  Along with proper nutrition, it is key to being healthy and fit.  One thing that needs to happen is to lose your resistance to doing it.  This is where you can use your mind training to reprogram yourself.  Just in the same way I talked about choosing to eat healthy using your mind to make good choices, you will do the same when it comes to "choosing" to exercise.

I spoke about the association of foods to making good choices, like associating junk food to being fat, diseased, and unhealthy.  You can associate exercise to being lean, fit, and feeling the best that you can.  Associate no exercise to being unhealthy, overweight, and feeling crummy.  If you are one of those people that is always wishing that you had a fit body, stop wishing and do what it takes to get there.

The two kinds of exercise that are important to incorporate into your fitness program are cardiovascular training, and strength training.  Both are important, and come in a variety of ways to accomplish the task.  I have known many people that prefer one to the other, but I recommend that doing both be part of your agenda for becoming fit.

Straight from the Mayo Clinic....Cardiovascular exercise improves your mood, combats chronic diseases, helps manage your weight, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, improves your sex life, and can be fun!

I will add to that a little detail....lowers blood pressure, lowers body fat, lowers resting heart rate, lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease, lowers cholesterol, reduces stress, releases sedative like endorphins, and reverses the aging process.  These are all things that can help you to have quality of life, not just quantity.

Cardiovascular exercise can be done by walking, running, biking, hiking, roller skating, skiing, swimming, some game sports, exercise machines like treadmill, elliptical, stationary bikes, aerobic classes, and anything that keeps your heart rate in your aerobic zone, which is 60 to 85% of your maximum heart rate for a period of time.

Strength training is important for increased muscle strength, increased strength in tendons and ligaments, improves range of motion in joints, reduces body fat and increases lean muscle tissue, decreases blood pressure, positive changes in cholesterol, builds bone density, improves blood sugar, and improves strength and balance in ones body.

There are many ways to strength train.  You can weight train or resistance train with free weights, machines, and Pilates.  Using an exercise ball for core stability training is a great way to train.  Doing standard push ups, triceps dips, lunges, and abdominal exercises, can also keep you fit with strength training.  Again I have many articles in this blog going back to January 2010 that can help you find what is right for you when it comes to strength training.

What do we need to be consistent in cardiovascular and strength training exercise?  We need the commitment, the focus, and mindfulness to stay on track to what it is we want in this life.  If you want a "rockin" body that is healthy and fit, if you want to feel better than you ever have and stay that way for life, "You" will need to do cardiovascular and strength training exercise on a consistent bases....starting now!

Spring is almost here and summer is just around the corner from that.  The days are getting longer and warmer, it is the perfect time to commit to your life long exercise program.  Don't be one of the statistics that is becoming more of the norm in our country....65% of the population that is overweight or obese, nearly 26 million people who have diabetes, 787,000 people who have heart attacks each year, over 630,000 people die each year from heart disease.  These are diseases that are life style related and could be wiped out if people would choose to eat healthier and exercise regularly.

So how are you going to live your life?  Are you always going to be whining about how you wish your body was different, or are you actually going to begin to practice the life style habits that it takes to get the results that you want?  Eating healthy, exercising, and guarding your thoughts are the way to getting what you want our of life.  Make it your life!

Till Monday,