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, April 25, 2011

Keeping Your Mind as Fit as Your Body

This is another reminder to make sure you are training your mind, as well as training your body.  If our thoughts are not in alignment with what we are wanting, such as a fit and healthy body, our goals may never be met.  If our minds are telling us that we are too tired, too busy, or too over whelmed to work out and eat right, our minds usually win.  When that happens, our goal of being healthy and fit can not be reached.

I have found that there is always something that we can use as an excuse to not work out or eat right.  Life will always present us with reasons why we should be doing something else other than taking care of ourselves.  In actuality, it is our underlying desire to not be uncomfortable and give the effort it takes to work out and eat properly.  It is always easy to grab fast food, or processed food, rather than make the effort to choose something healthy.  It is always easier to put off the workout for tomorrow because you may have a list of things to get done today.  It is a game that many of us play with ourselves constantly.

These are the times that it is important to remind yourself what is it that you really want out of this life.  If you want to feel good, be more productive, ward off disease, and look your best, than not doing your workouts and choosing to eat poorly are not good choices for you.  I realize that some people just do not care about their health, or how they feel.  Being inactive and eating badly support their goal of not being fit and healthy.  However, I believe that most people do want to feel and look their best, therefore this article is for that group of people, not for people who do not care how they feel, or how they look.

In the archives of this blog there are many articles about mindfulness and choosing your thoughts.  You can find them easily when you click on the individual months of each year in the blog archive category to the right of the blog.  I recommend that you go back and read them to reinforce "mind" training to benefit your choices and goals in life.

We choose every thought that we have in a day, over 60,000 of them to be exact.  Many are benign and are not thoughts that make huge differences in our life, such as a thought about the way a bird is flying, or how the hillsides look greener than usual.  The thoughts that we need to be a guardian over are the ones that shape and define who we are, or who we want to be.  Thoughts like, "I need to work out today, but I am too tired or busy to do it", or "I need to lose twenty pounds, but I'll start my diet tomorrow so I can have this cupcake today".  Those thoughts and choices do not support what it is you really want, yet they seem to have greater  power over the thoughts that will get you to your goals.

Begin to train your mind by becoming aware of the thoughts that you have that are sabotaging the outcome of what it is that you want.  You can not blame anyone but yourself when you make choices that do not jive with your goals.  Think of yourself as a ship at sea, and you are the captain of this ship.  Your ship is on a journey to certain destinations and ports.  If the captain does not make the right choices, the ship can never reach the right destination of its plotted course.  Your life is a course that you plot.  Without "You" the captain mapping out the right decisions to get you to the ports that you want to get to, you could end up never reaching the destination that you want to be at.  That is how many of us live our lives, not mapping out any course, but just wandering around in a big ocean not knowing where we are going.

Remember that you have the power to reach what ever destination that you want to, if you take charge of your thoughts and actions to plot the right course.  Can you imagine a captain of a big ocean liner waking up in the morning and saying, "I am too tired today to deal with the navigation of this ship today.  I'll do it tomorrow".  Tomorrow the ship would be so off course that a greater deal of work would have to be done to correct its course.  That is the same thing that happens to us when we allow our thoughts and choices to take us off course.  It becomes harder and harder to get back on track.

Become the captain that takes charge of its ship and destination.  Become the guardian of your own thoughts  and the course that they take.  Don't let yourself wander around at sea without the navigation that will get you to the ports that you want to be at.  It is all up to you....it is always a choice....a choice that you make each and every day of your life.  Train your mind as you train your body with daily and consistent workouts.  Keep vigil on how you are thinking and how you are putting those thoughts into action.  Do not be a victim of your own thoughts.  Be in charge!  Take control!  Sail into the life you want with thoughts and actions to get you there.

Till Monday,

Monday, April 18, 2011

What is the Best Exercise?

A friend of mine sent me an article from the New York Times today titled, "What's the Single Best Exercise".  It was very interesting, and peppered with different opinions from different experts, but something that struck me about this information is that many of us don't need to know what the best exercise is, we just need to exercise at something. 

Knowing that more than half of our population does not participate in any exercise at all, finding the best one is interesting, but more importantly, we should make sure we are doing something, even if it is not the "best".  

The "Butterfly" stroke in swimming was noted as one of the best exercises, as it "burns more calories, demands larger doses of oxygen, and elicits more fatigue than other activities".  However, swimming every day is not a choice we all have, or want.  This article is full of great information on different types of exercise, and cites studies that prove their effectiveness.  It was published on April 15th, and I recommend reading it if you are interested in understanding how different types of exercise work on the body.

Finding the best exercise for you is more important than knowing what the most effective exercise is for all.  Everyone is different in their needs, whether it is about time, location, body type, age, fitness level, and so on.  As I have stated in the past, using a cross training program is a good way to avoid boredom and lesson the risk of injury.  Also, finding an exercise that you enjoy is key to being consistent and sticking with it.  No matter how effective the exercise is, if you don't like it, you won't continue it.

Some people use walking as their only form of exercise.  This is a great way to get your exercise in, and the fact that it might be the only way that you exercise is perfectly fine.  You are at least moving your body, getting some fresh air, and being consistent in exercising. 

Another form of exercise that was noted in the article as being one of the best was running up stairs.  If you have a stair case in your home, you have a built in gym!  Run up and down your stairs several times a day, and you will be doing one of the best exercises there is according to the experts in this article.  I have done stadiums steps at a local college for years, and I know they are effective.  It definitely is a powerful way to exercise, and you don't have to do a lot of them to get results. 

Bike riding is another way to be effective while exercising.  This is my favorite way to exercise.  Cycling brings out the "kid" in you, and it also burns a higher amount of calories than many other types of exercise.  Peddling at 10 miles an hour will burn an average of 500 calories in a 60 minute ride, and it is a whole lot of fun.  Riding at a higher speed will obviously raise that caloric burn.

We are experiencing an epidemic of obesity in our country today.  Everyone should be doing some form of exercise a minimum of five days a week if we are to turn this situation around.  Of course the main source of our obesity is not just the lack of exercise, but exists in the type of foods that people are choosing to eat.  You can go back into the archives of this blog and find article, after article about this problem of processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, white flour, and white sugar foods, which are the culprits of why over 65% of our population is over weight or obese.  Adding in exercise is vital for your health, but choosing a diet that is mainly from natures foods, and avoiding processed foods is paramount to having quality health.

So find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that you can be consistent with.  Couple that with a diet rich in fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, lean sources of protein, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.  Practice portion control.  Stay away from processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, white flour and white sugar products.  This is the recipe for optimal health.  There is no short cut, or magic pill that will ever take the place of participating in a daily exercise routine and eating a healthy diet.  If you want to be healthy, feel and look your best, it will take exercise and a healthy diet to get there.

Till Monday,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Muscle Up!

Working with your body to create muscle is an important part of staying fit and healthy.  Muscle helps us to stay young, strong, and vital.  There are many myths about having muscle that I would like to address.  First off, creating large muscle takes a lot of work, focus, and effort on ones part.  You will not build big muscle by lifting weights a few days a week, unless you are a genetic freak!

Throughout my thirty years of teaching fitness, I have heard hundreds of times from women, "I don't want to have big muscles."  Unless you are going to devote your life to "body building", trust me, you will not get that big.  It takes commitment to proper nutrition, daily workouts, and getting enough sleep to even get close to building big muscles.  Some people have certain areas of their bodies that have the propensity to grow faster and bigger, but for the most part it takes quite a bit of effort to build big muscle.  Body builders spend much of their day devoted to building muscle, whether it is in their training, their diet, or their sleep.

Another thing that I have heard over and over is, "When I stop working out, will my muscle turn into fat?"  No it won't.  Muscle is muscle, fat is fat.  They do not turn into each other.  What does happen when you stop working out after you have built muscle, is your muscle will atrophy and you will probably gain more fat from not working out.  It is simple and logical.  Working out creates muscle and keeps you lean, not working out will cause you to lose muscle and gain fat.

What muscle does do for you is all positive.  When you develop muscle in your body you will speed up your metabolism, build bone density, reverse your aging process, burn more calories at rest, tone and define your body, become stronger, and feel better all around.  Having muscle is a win win no matter how you look at it.

I have spoken before about the "Blue Zones" in our world.  These are areas in the world where people live into their hundreds without disease and medications.  They are active up until the day they die.  One of the things that the Blue Zone people have in common is that they build muscle throughout their lives on a consistent bases.  It might be by doing gardening, or other household chores, but they are always active in some kind of way that builds muscle.

Creating muscle can be done with free weight, weight machines, resistance training, palates, push ups, pull ups, lunges, squats, and ball exercises.  Many cardiovascular exercises help develop muscle for certain parts of the body such as running and biking for the butt and legs, and rowing for the upper body. 

It is important to understand that the body needs protein to create muscle.  Protein is the main nutrient that helps the body build and strengthen muscle.  Without proper amounts of protein, it is difficult to create or keep muscle on your body.  Most women need a minimum of 50 grams a day, and men need at least 65 grams for optimum health.

Your posture and balance is improved with muscle.  Your body's appearance is better with muscle.  You will live longer and healthier with muscle.  Muscle is key to having a lean and healthy body.  What's not to like?

When you are creating your fitness program, make sure you include muscle building activities to insure a balanced regime.  If you are lifting weights, a minimum of three days a week is recommended.  Make sure you know proper form when doing weight training to avoid injury.  There are classes and of course trainers to help you with this process.  Proper form is a must when weight training.

So don't forget your "Muscle Building" activities in your workouts.  It is an important part of being healthy and fit.  You will look fantastic as well, which is always a good thing!

Till Monday,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fighting Obesity with Diet and Exercise

There has been a lot in the news lately about the obesity epidemic in our country.  With 65% of our population over weight or obese, something needs to be done to reverse this unhealthy situation or we will end up having to build more hospitals to house all of the sick people dealing with obesity related diseases.

It is difficult for me when I hear Doctors or Health professionals say that surgery is the answer for people who are obese.  Just last week I heard a doctor say that it is the only answer to this problem.  What ever happened to eating correctly and exercising regularly?  I understand that when a person becomes obese that there is obviously more of a challenge to eat right and exercise, but it certainly should not be ruled out as an answer to the problem.

If an obese person began to eat healthy foods, healthy portions, and add in exercise on a daily bases, they would be able to lose the weight and become healthier for it.  I also realize that people that gain a large amount of weight by eating white flour and white sugar products can become addicted to those types of foods which will make them obese over time.  This addiction is just like being addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other type of substance.  It will be difficult to break this addiction, but not impossible.  Surgery is not the only answer, it is "a" answer if one so chooses.


With any addiction therapy can be very helpful, and in most cases should be a part of the treatment.  Usually when anyone has an addiction, there are issues inside that need to be dealt with.  Many times  addiction is used to numb or ignore what is really the problem.  Therapy is vital to stopping addiction.

Age is another factor.  The older the person and the longer they have had the weight on, the harder it will be to get it off.  But, it is still not impossible to do it with proper diet and exercise.  The thing that will be required is self discipline, focus, and commitment to sticking with your resolution to get the weight off and be healthy.

Self discipline is something that many people forget about.  Like these doctors that I hear promoting weight loss surgery's....they never talk about what really needs to be focused on like eating correctly and exercising regularly.  They just announce that surgery is the only way that these people can lose the weight.  Really?  It  may be one way to create weight loss, but if that person does not begin to eat right and exercise regularly, guess what...the weight they lost with surgery, will be back in time.  

We need to stop acting as if being obese is not in a persons control.  It has to do with unhealthy lifestyle choices like eating processed foods, fast foods, and junk foods, in large amounts as the main source of dietary choices.  It has to do with not moving their body with exercise on a regular bases.  It is a choice to be obese whether anyone wants to hear that or not.  We choose what we eat.  We choose whether we exercise or not.  It is all a choice any way that you look at it, irregardless of what the source of our pain is.

We wouldn't tell an alcoholic or drug addict that it is not in their power to stop their addiction, and that the only way to do it would be to have a surgery.  It is "only" in their power to stop their addiction, and it will be difficult, challenging, and maybe the hardest thing they have ever done, but it can be accomplished if they truly want to change and live a healthy life.  The same thing applies to anyone who is obese.  They can choose to stop doing the things that have created their situation, just like a heroin addict can choose to shoot heroin or not.  I am not saying it is an easy thing to do, but breaking an addiction is never easy.  There are many addicts that have over come their addictions, and many who have not.  It is a personal choice to do so, and a food addict is no different.

I hope that people stop thinking that food addicts are any different than any other addict.  They aren't. They need support, love, and help like any addict does, but our society acts as if obesity is not that big of a problem. Why?  Well most of our population is overweight, so most of our population believes it is not that big of a deal. With 65% of our population heading in that direction, it is a huge problem.  We could rid ourselves of most of the heart disease in this country along with most of the type 2 diabetes, 50% of some cancers, most of the stroke victims, and more.  

The money that could be saved on taking care of obesity related disease could be put to better use like our children's education that has been raped of funding.  There a billions of dollars every year that go to caring for sick people that are dealing with obesity related diseases.

I have people in my life that I love dearly that deal with obesity.  It pains me to see them suffer with this issue.  I know that it makes them unhappy and miserable to have that weight on them.  I know they hate it more than anything else in their lives.  I understand how hard it is for them to stop their food addiction, but the answer is not to say it is impossible.  The answer is to begin to live the lifestyle that will reverse their situation.  Their answer is to get therapy, and have a support system that helps them reach their goal of being leaner.  Maybe surgery is part of that answer, but it is certainly not the only part of that answer, learning to make better choices is the most important part of the answer, and dealing with the core reasons why they use food to numb their issues. 

I pray for anyone who has this "monkey" on their back.  Addiction of any kind takes away the quality of life that we should be living.  Remember that "food" is just like any other drug when it is used for an escape.  We need to find solutions to our obesity epidemic.  Using surgery as the only solution...is not the answer.

Till Monday,