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, May 30, 2011

Exercise is a Solution to Feeling Lethargic

It is Memorial Day here in the United States.  A day where we remember all of the men and women who have lost their lives serving our country.  I wrote a blog on May 31st of 2010 that gives some shocking numbers of how many lives have been lost in wars throughout history.  Take a look back into the archives and have a look.  It seems to me to be a horrible waste of life, but I honor and respect those who have given their lives for others freedom.

Memorial Day has also become a day to enjoy family, friends, and food.  Some people engage in physical activity, but for the most part it has become about the Barbeque's and picnics filled with yummy things to eat.  I personally had a plan to do a bike ride, or a run, but found myself feeling lethargic and lazy.  I could not get myself up out of my comfortable funk to exercise.

Ever been there before?  If you haven't, you are a rare human being, one that I have never met.  I believe that comfort zone is that feeling that keeps people from being consistent with exercise.  After all, if you are sitting in your house feeling comfortable and lazy, why would you want to go out and get your heart rate up, start sweating, and breath hard?

I will tell you why because it just happened to me one more time.  I can not tell you how many times in my life that I have had to talk myself into exercising when I did not want to do it.  Everyone always thinks that I always want to exercise...not true!  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't, but every time I make myself get off my butt and get out of my lethargic coma, I change my attitude for the better, and feel as if someone has drained the stress right out of my body.  It is such a great solution for the "lethargic blues".

I actually feel more relaxed and calm due to those natural sedative like endorphins that are released during a cardio workout.  I am feeling more positive about my day.  My attitude is out of the doldrums and back in a more up beat place.  All because I did about an hour of running.  What a great return on my investment of time.

It doesn't matter if you run, bike, walk, hike, or just jump around in your house to music.  It is all about getting that heart rate up, getting more oxygen into your system, and moving that body.  Just push that lazy, lethargic feeling to the side and choose exercise.

I often wonder about all the people who are on anti-depressants today.  I realize that they help many people who need this kind of medication, but I also know people who take them simply because they are going through a difficult time.  If you are alive and breathing, you can be sure that difficult times will be a part of your experience.  Maybe exercise would be a better tool for some people instead of taking a pill.  It certainly has worked for me in my lifetime when I have dealt with difficulty's and stress.  I can't imagine how I would have survived without it.

I am feeling gratitude for all of the people who have sacrificed their lives for others today.  I am also feeling gratitude for that fact that I can put on my shoes and go outside and change my attitude from lazy and lethargic, to energized and upbeat.  Anyone can do this.  All you need is a place to exercise whether it is outside, in a gym, or in your home.  It is empowering knowing that exercise can change your life for the better, and it is always your choice.

I hope your day has included some attitude changing exercise fun!  If not, there is no time like the present to get it done.  Enjoy!

Wishing you Health and Happiness,

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important things that you can do for your self, especially if you are wanting to be healthy.  Without enough sleep, your body and mind will not, and can not, function properly.  More and more, I hear people talking about how difficult it is to get a good nights sleep.  Whether it is about waking up in the middle of the night and letting the mind go off into worry land, or that your life gets in the way of allowing enough time for it, eight hours of sleep is not what most of us are getting these days.

Without the proper amount of sleep, and this varies in the age of a person and their basal sleep need, our bodies can not rejuvenate and restore as they are meant to do while we are at rest.  Babies and children require much more sleep than adults do, but every individual is different when it comes to how much sleep they need.  However studies show that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep for optimal health.  There are people that can be healthy on 5 to 7 hours a night, but most of us need more. 

Studies from the University of Chicago state that there is laboratory evidence that short sleep durations of 4-5 hours have negative physiological and neurobehavioral consequences.  Many individuals who think they can function on 4-5 hours a night should rethink this and try for an hour or two more if they want their body's to function in a healthy manner.

A study out of Harvard claims that getting enough sleep is required for learning and memory.  Sleep helps the brain to remember new information in a process called memory consolidation.

Chronic sleep deprivation can also cause weight gain and obesity.  It effects the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and alters the levels of hormones that effect appetite.

Lack of sleep can also cause more traffic accidents due to drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel of a car.  We have also seen a rash of Air Traffic Controllers falling asleep while at work due to long hours and lack of sleep.  This could be the cause of a major accident in the air.

Sleep loss can be the cause of mood changes like, irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness.  It can also cause fatigue and tiredness.

Serious sleep deprivation can cause hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.  It can also alter our immune function including the activity of the bodies killer cells. 

Studies also show a link to living longer with better quality of life when we get more than 6 and half hours per night.  Proper sleep will also reduce body inflammation which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging.

Enough sleep can improve your creativity, athletic performance, attention span, and lowers the risk of depression.  Let's face it, sleep is vital for optimal health in many areas of our life.

Many people brag about getting just a few hours of sleep a night.  It is really nothing to brag about.  It is similar to bragging about not drinking enough water in a day.  You may seem alright, but your body needed and would have functioned much better had you drank enough water.  Sleep is the same.  You may think your O.K., but you will function much better with the right amount of sleep.

There are ways to prepare for a good nights sleep.  It is important to turn off the televisions, computers, and other things that create light and noise in your sleep environment.  You should not eat right before you go to bed, especially sugar.  Do not watch stressful or violent movies and television before you sleep.  Try to meditate for fifteen or thirty minutes before bedtime.  Stretching is also good to do before going to sleep.  Think of good thoughts.  Still your mind chatter.  Make sure you have a comfortable sleep space, i.e. clean bedding, mattress, etc.

If you are wanting to be at your best, get the sleep you need.  Sleep is one of the most important things in your life if you want health of body and mind.  I personally love, love, love, my sleep!  If I could get nine hours every night....I would!  So get your sleep and have Sweet Dreams, your body and mind will love it.

Wishing You Health and Happiness,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Finding Peace and Tranquility

How can we find peace and tranquility during times of what appears to be upheaval and chaos?  With the media primarily covering what is wrong in the world, it is hard some times to remember that there is a lot of good going on as well.  Economically people all over the world are struggling, and good news seems hard to come by.  All that said, there are many things that we as individuals can do to find peace and lose the stress.

One of those things is to begin to take charge of your own thoughts.  If you are having fearful, worrisome, doomsday thoughts, you may want to choose to have thoughts that make you feel better.  As I have repeatedly said over and over again, we choose every thought that we have, and we can choose the thoughts that help us to feel better, or thoughts that keep us stuck in fear and worry.  

You might want to choose not to watch the news, or read  newspapers that are full of stories about war, death, lack, and fear.  You can choose to not watch movies or read books that are based on a negative or violent story's.  What you choose to put into your daily consciousness is how you will perceive your world.  If you fill your mind with information that is negative and fearful, You will begin to feel that way too.  

If you are looking for peace and tranquility, fill your consciousness with positive information.  Watch movies and read books that are uplifting and help you to feel good.  There are many authors of "self help" books that can be found on CD's.  I have many of these and listen to them often to keep reminding myself of a positive focus.  Be in conversations that are about what is right, rather than converse about everything that is wrong.  Stay in positive communication as much as possible, which means staying away from gossip too!

Another thing that you can do to reduce stress and fear, is to exercise.  Again a topic that I talk about repeatedly!  Exercise releases sedative like endorphins into your body that will help you to feel relaxed and tranquil.  It is the main reason that I have always chosen to exercise.  Not only will you be doing your body a whole lot of good in areas of anti aging, lowering risk of disease, improving your cardiovascular system, and reducing body fat, but you will feel better immediately with these endorphins.  Exercise is a fabulous stress reliever.

Yoga, or stretching is yet another way to find peace and calm.  Just by doing fifteen to thirty minutes of stretching exercise, you will begin to de-stress.  Yoga is sublime for getting into that peaceful zone.  Doing a daily practice of flexibility or Yoga exercise will help to reduce your anxiety and stress levels and help you to feel more peaceful.

If you are choosing to eat a diet of primarily natures foods, i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins, you will feel better for it.  Foods can effect your moods and behavior, particularly if they are processed, white flour, white sugar foods.  These types of foods can spike your blood sugar, and then drop you back down, possibly leaving you feeling depressed or sluggish.  

Natures foods do not do that, unless you have an allergy to a certain food.  Eating processed food, fast food, white flour, white sugar foods, can cause weight gain and may lead to obesity.  Obesity leads to depression, and you will find yourself in a vicious cycle of unhappiness where peace and tranquility are hard to find.  A healthy diet will help you to feel better, which will help you to feel less stress.

Of course I would be remiss if I did not include "meditation" as a tool for finding peace and tranquility.  Meditation is all about finding inner peace, connecting to the source, and stilling the negative mind chatter.  Meditation is a practice, and is never easy when someone is new at it.  With consistency it can become a vehicle to connect to peace and tranquility.  No matter what is going on in the outside world, meditation can keep you peaceful and tranquil.

So lets take a count of all the things that we can do to find a more peaceful existence....First, we need to control our thoughts and keep them in a positive place.....Second, we need to have daily exercise to keep our bodies and minds healthy and stress free....Third, we need to stretch and do flexibility exercises to reduce our stress levels....Fourth, we need to choose a healthy diet to support healthy moods and a healthy body....And Fifth, we need to practice a daily meditation to find inner peace and stop our negative mind chatter.

Choosing to do these five things will change your life for the better in so many ways.  I have numerous articles  on each of these topics back in the archives of this blog.  I invite you to take a look back and become better informed on how you can find more peace and tranquility in your life.  Enjoy!

Wishing You Health and Happiness,

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't Be a Victim of Your Own Thinking and Actions

In recent days, I have had several conversations with people about being a "victim" of our own thoughts.  If you have been reading this blog, you know that I believe that we choose every thought that we have, consciously or unconsciously.  If we have thoughts that are counter productive to becoming who we want to be such as, "I am choosing to eat this bad food, even though I want to lose weight", or "I am not going to exercise today because I am too tired, even though I want to be fit", we then become a victim of our own thoughts.

I realize that many people do not want to believe that they "choose" every thought and action that they have, because that would make them responsible for all that they are.  They could no longer blame anyone for their lot in life if they were the ones responsible for it..  We can all sit around and blame our parents, spouses, or others that have had great impact on us for what we consider abuse or negativity in our lives.  "I eat bad food because my parents didn't love me", or "I do drugs because I had an abusive childhood".  Whatever it is that you believe has caused your pain can be valid, but how you choose to react to it, is always "your" choice.

Many people have had abusive lives, and out of that abuse came choices.  Choices in how to think and react to the abuse. Choosing to do drugs, over eat, drink alcohol, or engage in any kind of behavior that destroys your health and your life, is a choice that makes you just another victim....a victim of your own thoughts and choices.  I know this, because I was a victim of my own thoughts and choices for a big part of my life.  Being a victim of myself has never been a benefit to me, it only made things worse.

It is not easy to choose healthy thoughts and actions, if you have come from a background of unhealthy thoughts and actions.  But, you do have the choice to not be a victim anymore if you want to live a life that benefits the health of your body, mind, and spirit.  It is also not "easy" to keep choosing unhealthy thoughts and actions and to continue the cycle of abuse, it is just more familiar because it has become habitual.

One of the most important things to remember when we keep engaging in unhealthy behavior, is to put discipline back into our vocabulary.  It amazes me how many people, especially our youth of today, do not discipline themselves in anything.  "I am too tired to exercise today", "They had donuts at class today, and I couldn't stop myself from eating them", "I just can't exercise and eat right because it is too hard".  These are the comments that I hear constantly from people.  Well if you put a little "discipline" back into your life, you can accomplish anything that you want.  Without discipline, reaching any goal would be impossible, unless that goal was to be overweight, lazy, and unproductive.

It is not easy to break old habits....but it is possible with discipline.  Its not easy to think more positive when you are used to negative thinking, but it is possible with discipline and focus.  It is not easy to react in new ways that will benefit you, when you have been used to reacting unconsciously in dysfunctional behavior, but it is possible when you use discipline and are conscious of your behavior.  All of this takes effort, discipline, and being conscious of how you are thinking and acting. 

So if you are wanting to have a healthier, happier, life, but feel at a loss of how you can turn your own dysfunctional thoughts and actions into more positive choices.....begin by being responsible for how you are thinking and acting.  No one else is to blame, no matter what has happened to you.  You still get to choose every second of every day how you want to think and act.  If you choose to be a victim, then you will continue to suffer.  If you choose to take responsibility for where you are at in life, then you will be in a power position and able to take charge of how your life unfolds. 

You get to choose how your life turns out.  Stop being a victim of your own thoughts and actions.  Choose thoughts and actions that benefit you.  It is all up to you to think and act in a way that is going to give you the life you want, or it will keep giving you the life that you are a victim of. 

Let me know your thoughts on how this works in your life.  If you have been practicing "mindfulness" then you understand how this works.  If you have not been working with mindfulness, you now have a tool that can radically change your life for the better.  Let me know if mindfulness has had an impact on your life....would love to hear your experiences with it.

Wishing you Health and Happiness,

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Power of Meditation

There is so much going on in our world today that is stressful and hard to deal with, whether it is our natural disasters, or political upheaval, we can find fear and stress everywhere.  Meditation is a tool that everyone should be using, not only to cope with all that there is, but to help change all of the negative in this world into positive.

As I have said before, the Dali Lama has stated that if every child alive today at the age of five and under began to meditate on a daily bases, we would have world peace in two to three generations from now.  That is a powerful thing....and it could be a reality if everyone began to participate in meditation.

Meditation is not about religion.  It does not matter what your religious beliefs are, you can meditate by connecting to your source, what ever that is for you.  When you are meditating, it is not so much about emptying your mind of thought, as it is emptying your mind of thoughts that are about the past or future.  When you are focusing on your breath, or being present in this very moment, you are unable of thinking about past or future thoughts, which is where a lot of our fear and pain comes from.

When you have emptied your mind of all of your thoughts of past and future, you will no longer be torturing yourself with that which is not here anymore, or that which has not happened yet.  What you will be thinking about is what is here in this moment, which is your breath and the quiet space that you are meditating in.  That is where you are able to find your inner peace and rid yourself of worry and fearful thoughts.  Remember that we choose all of our thoughts, and in our meditation we are choosing to not think of anything that has come before our meditation, or after it.

Meditation is place of peace and non judgement.  It is a time to let go of all of the mind chatter and negativity.  Meditation can leave you feeling  relaxed and refreshed.  It is a vacation away from worry, stress, and fear.  As you become more adept in your meditation, you can find answers to your problems, and guidance for your life.  It happens when you learn to quiet the mind chatter and listen to your inner being, or your source as some call it.

I have written many times on meditation that you can find in the archives of this blog.  Please re-read them if you are looking for more information on meditation.  There are many different forms of meditation, and I suggest that you find one that resonates with you.  I personally practice several types, such as focusing on my breath, visual meditation, or guided meditations.  Some days I am better at it then other days, but I know that being consistent with it is what is important.

Many people I have worked with in meditation express that they can't stop there thoughts from coming in, or clear their mind of thinking.  I have heard the analogy of thinking about your thoughts as a cloud passing by....Say to yourself, "Oh, I am having a thought", and then let it go, just like a cloud passing through, and then go back to your breath.  Don't let your thoughts control you....instead, control your thoughts.  As in our mindfulness practice, we "practice" controlling our thoughts on a regular bases.  Meditation is the same.  It is a practice...a daily practice to become good at it.

Don't be discouraged if you can't get it right away.  Just keep practicing, and it will become a tool for you to find inner peace and tranquility.  You are not only helping your mind when you meditate, but you are helping your body to be healthier as well.   There are scientific study's that show very positive effects on patients who meditate.  It helps to lower blood pressure, stress levels, and assists in many other healthy results.  There is nothing negative about meditation....just positive.

You will also be helping the world to be a better place by practicing meditation.  Our thoughts are tangible things that create the world around us.  When we practice peaceful meditation, we are helping the world to be more peaceful.  If every human being on this planet stopped right now and meditated on "peace and love" for all of mankind for the next thirty minutes....I guarantee that we would see incredible changes in what happens around the globe....and they would be peaceful, loving, and amazing!

We are in a very interesting time, and taking care of our body, mind, and spirit, will be essential to being happy and healthy during a time of what can appear to be scary and stressful.

I hope that you are meditating, and if you are not, I hope that you begin to.  I would love to hear from you about any topic that you want to discuss.  Please leave me a comment or request information that you are interested in.  

We can create a world of peace and tranquility with our thoughts and beliefs.  With meditation this can happen.  

Wishing You Health,