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, August 29, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Did you know that laughter is one of the best things you can do for your health. Aside from eating well, daily exercise, and a positive mental outlook, laughter can be just another way to keep yourself happy and healthy.

In a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center, evidence showed that people who laugh and have a good sense of humor suffered less heart disease and heart attacks. It also showed that people who had had a heart attack seemed to have less of a sense of humor, and did not laugh much at all.

It might just be that people who laugh more, take things less seriously, therefore do not stress as much as people who see life in a more serious manner. Laughter lightens your load, and relieves stress and worry. We have to be able to laugh at things, or they will become more of a burden to us than they need to be.

When we laugh we are actually getting more oxygen to our cells. Our pulse and blood pressure go up, making laughter similar to a mini workout. In a good belly laugh, you know the kind where you just can't stop, our abdominal muscles get a good work out too.

A pioneer of laughter research, William Frye, claimed that it took him ten minutes on a rowing machine to get his heart rate up to where only one minute of laughter would take it.

Laughter also helps support our immune systems. Reducing stress with laughter allows our immune system to function better. Studies have also shown that laughter promotes better blood flow, better sleep, and can even help diabetics have better blood sugar levels.

Laughter is the best medicine! If we can laugh at most of our trials and tribulations in life, we will be better off. I know that there is nothing better than a good belly laugh with friends. I have also learned in an intimate relationship, laughter and humor must be a strong point of that relationship, otherwise it will not stand the test of time. Once all the initial romance begins to fade, laughter is what helps keep a relationship strong and healthy.

Norman Cousins, a former editor of the Saturday Review, believed that humor therapy helped to heal him from a debilitating disease that degenerated his connective tissue. He did not like the side effects of the drugs that he had to take, so he decided to use humor therapy instead.

Mr. Cousins checked out of his hospital where he was receiving medical treatment and checked into a hotel where he watched funny movies and read humorous books. Over time he experienced a gradual withdrawal of his symptoms, and regained most of his loss of movement. He wrote a book called "Anatomy of an Illness" in which he claims to have healed himself by laughter.

It all comes down to attitude in many ways. Laughter represents lightness, being less serious, and being able to find humor in most things. People who laugh more are people who stress less. That is a good combination for being a healthier person.

So remember to laugh everyday. Find a reason to have one of those good belly laughs where your cheeks begin to cramp up, and your sides start to hurt! Giggle your life away and you will be healthier for it, not to mention happier!

Wishing You Health and Happiness,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thoughts Create Reality

I have become more and more aware of how our thoughts really do create how our lives unfold. It is particularly clear to me during these times of difficulty with the economy and political upheaval. Many people are having a tough time making ends meet, and are feeling scared of what is going to happen in the future.

It is hard to "think" good thoughts when it looks like everything around you is negative. Mostly what I hear from people are their stories of woe and struggle. When this kind of thinking is dominant in ourselves and in the collective population, the harder it will be to turn it around.

I know how difficult it is to stay thinking positive when it all looks so bleak, but what does thinking negative do for anyone? Thinking fearful and negative thoughts will only create more of that. If you are able to believe and think positively during a time that looks opposite of that, you will feel better, and will be able to create a more positive situation for yourself.

I have experienced this many times in my life. Dwelling on fear or lack never made it better for me. Things only ever got better for me when I began to think positively, and took positive action. As long as I talked obsessively about the bad things that were going on, that is what kept happening.

We all have a story to tell, but when that story is always about what is wrong, or how you have been victimized, things will never change for the better. It is when you have thoughts and belief that something good is happening, and you know opportunity is coming your way, that you will be able to shift the negative to a positive.

This takes a lot of practice and discipline to do, especially if you have been a negative thinker and talker for a long time. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Stop telling your friends and family how bad things are. Begin thinking and believing that good things are coming to you.

It doesn't matter when positive change happens. What matters is that you think and believe that it will, no matter the outside circumstance. When you are in a negative mind set, you will not feel good. When you are in a positive mind set, you will feel good. So thinking and feeling positive will always make you feel better right now, and that is all you really have is now.

So no matter what is going on in your life that is difficult, upsetting, or fearful, you can shift those thoughts to positive thinking, and feel better now. If you believe that your thoughts create, like I do, then it only makes sense to practice more positive thinking and believing. If you choose to keep thinking fearful, and negatively, feeling bad will be your only outcome. If you choose to think and believe better things are on their way to you, you can feel hopeful and good right now.

Which way of thinking will you choose?

Wishing You Health and Happiness,

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Six Components for a Healthy Whole Self

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!

Till Monday,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Portion Control!

Obesity is a huge problem in our country.   65% of our population is overweight, or obese.  We have an abundance of food available to us, but much of it lacks in nutrients that are needed for optimal health. We are over fed, and undernourished.  

Our portion sizes have doubled or quadrupled in the past twenty years.  During the 1970's 47% of our population were overweight or obese. That percentage has now grown to 65%.  People who are obese went from 15% to 30% in the same time frame.

A slice of pizza is twice the size that it was twenty years ago. A large movie popcorn average size was 5 cups and 270 calories back then, and now is more than twice the amount at 630 calories. A bagel was three inches in diameter at 140 calories, but today has grown to six inches and 350 calories.

Twenty years ago a cheeseburger was half the size of today's double or triple burgers offered at most fast food restaurants. The calorie count in today’s burgers has gone from 300 to 600 and beyond.

Sodas went from a typical eight ounce 97 calorie drink, to a whopping sixty-four ounce 775 calorie nightmare. Having a drink that gives you almost half of your daily allotment of calories, and is completely non-nutritious may not be a good choice if you are trying to be healthy and lean.

There is another thing that has been super sized in the past twenty years….our plates and dishes. A dinner plate used to be the size of what we now call our salad plates. Our cups were half the size that they are now, and our bowls went from about six inches in diameter to ten inches.  This is a very important reason why Americans are having an obesity epidemic.  We like to fill our plates up.  If they were smaller like they used to be, we would tend to eat less.

Not only are we eating the majority of our diet from non-nutritious foods, we are eating two to three times as much as we did several decades ago. 

To turn this health crisis around, we need to eat more of nature’s foods, i.e. fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins, and stay away from processed food, fast food, and junk foods.  We also need to lower our portion size to a healthy amount.  Use smaller plates, bowls, and cups, to control overeating.

It is never a good idea to “super size” any portion of your food intake.  The more food you put into your stomach at one time, the more you will want to put in at the next meal.  You will be healthier and leaner by eating smaller portions, that I can guarantee you.  

Wishing You Health and Happiness,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Finding the Time

One of the most common statements that people make about exercise is, "I don't have the time".  This may be true for some, but for most people it is not time they need more of, it is how they use their time that would make the difference. 

The average American watches television 28 to 30 hours a week.  That is almost a full time job when you think about it.  Taking three to six of those hours away from T.V. and applying them to an exercise program would get you on the track to healthy body.  Missing those hours in front of a television would create the time you need to become fit, feel great, and add quality to your life.

Between 1992 and 2009 the average number of medical prescriptions that Americans received went up 71%.  They now say that on average each American gets approximately 12 prescriptions a year.  Since the on slot of advertisements for medications, Americans use meds for virtually every physical or mental issue they might have.  Good health does not come in a bottle.  Good health is about taking care of your self with proper nutrition, regular exercise, and conscious positive thinking.  Medications can be life saving and truly helpful when really needed, but should not be a replacement for taking care of yourself with healthy choices.

Finding the time to eat healthy food and exercise can be done creatively.  It is not necessary to do it all in one chunk of time if you have time issues.  No matter what your job is, you can prepare your food in advance by making it at home the night before.  Choose fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, lean proteins, salads, nuts, and whole grains.  This way you will not have to think about what you will eat, and you will not be tempted by unhealthy choices.

There are certain exercises that you can add in here and there during your work day.  For instance, doing a set of incline push ups on the edge of your desk two to three times a day only takes minutes, yet will help to strengthen your whole upper body.  Using the edge of your chair to do a couple of sets of triceps dips can be done in just minutes as well.  If you are not shy, you can also lunge your way around your office to strengthen your legs and butt.  Who cares if it looks different, the goal is to get your exercise in and become fit.  You may even start a trend among fellow workers.

Another favorite exercise of mine is the plank.  This can be done anywhere.  All you need is a floor or the ground.  It literally takes a couple of minutes to strengthen your core along with most of the muscles in your body.  Side planks are a great addition too.  Doing the plank in the morning for one to three minutes can completely change the strength and look of your body.  It is a great return for your time investment.

Always take the stairs when there is an option.  Park your car further from where you need to go so that you can add in more walking.  Using an exercise ball against the wall to do squats is also a great way to tone and strengthen your legs in just minutes.  You can also just lean against the wall with your feet out in front of you just as if you were sitting in a chair if you do not have a ball.  These are stationary squats, and can give you the same results as the ball squats in just minutes.  Remember that all of these exercises can be done throughout your day, and not all at once to save time.

Getting your cardiovascular exercise in will require you to find at least thirty minutes in one chunk of time.  Get up thirty minutes earlier and take a wonderful morning walk.  Drop that time from television or computer time and do a bike ride, run, or walk.  This time can be found if you are truly interested in a healthier body.  You will feel so much better, and as a bonus you will look great too.

We can always find the time if we really want to.  Saying that we have no time is really just a way of finding an excuse to not exercise.  If you can prepare your food in advance, add your strength exercises in here and there, and then find thirty minutes to get your heart rate up in your aerobic zone, you will have achieved your exercise and health goals.  It is not that hard to do, it just takes a little bit of planning.  Your reward for your effort will be ten times what you have given.

We all have 168 hours to our week.  Giving three to six of those hours to the health of your body and quality of your life does not seem to be asking much for what you get out of it.  You will be more productive, healthier, feel great, and look your absolute best by this small investment of time.  Time is of no value if your health is gone.

Wishing You Health and Happiness,