3 Ways to Prevent Weight Gain While Traveling

03/04/2014

A mini-getaway is great for some rest and relaxation, but it can also test your willpower.  Luckily, there are some simple steps that you can take to avoid a diet meltdown, whether it’s a weekend trip or weeklong vacation.  Several weeks ago I took my daughter on a weekend trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  Initially, I was worried about my food choices:  Would I eat enough vegetables?  Skip desserts? Woman-drinking-fruit-drink-668x375

Another question loomed in my mind: How am I going to fit in a morning walk without acting like a rude guest? 

The answer to these questions came in a not-so-obvious way.  If weight loss is your goal, or you just want to prevent the inevitable extra pounds that happens during vacations, read on.  Practice these easy tricks to for staying healthy while still having a blast.

Tip #1: Eat a Little, Talk A LOT.  Of course this goes without saying, but in order to stay on the straight and narrow amongst friends, you have to scale back on portions and increase your storytelling.  When you’re among friends, it’s easy to let your guard down a bit and have more of that dinner roll or dessert than you would normally allow.  In fact, the subtle pressure to eat more is supported by research.  In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study showed that overweight youth tend to eat more when they’re with friends.  This research is similar for adults, too.  Think about the last time you had dinner out with a friend.  Perhaps you tried too much of that dip or indulged in a high-calorie dessert.  Be sure to keep the conversation going so you're too busy recalling your latest run-in with your grumpy neighbor to overeat the spinach-artichoke dip.

If you need additional support during a trip, use my online favorite food journal My Fitness Pal to stay focused.

Tip #2: Tweak Your Workout Routine.  It's hard to get up early for power walk when you can snooze in a comfortable bed? A vacation is meant to help you relax, so it's OK to scale back a little bit on your exercise routine. The key is to simply stay active.  Opt for a nightly walk as a way to catch up with friends or continue the post-dinner festivities.  When you have some privacy do a mini-workout.  Try this 5-minute routine: 25 jumping jacks, 15 squats, and 15 push-ups.  Do this routine three times every other day and you’ll feel the difference.   Remember, there’s no need to toss your fitness out the window when you visit friends.  Be creative about how to get moving and do it!

Tip #3: Wait a Few Days Before Stepping on the Scale.  It’s not uncommon to experience slight weight gain after a trip.  Give yourself a full week to assess how much weight you’ve gained before you do damage control.  Hormones and water retention can be the culprit, especially if you’ve been eating out regularly.  Sodium levels in most restaurant food exceed your daily allowance, so drink lots of water to help flush it out of your system.  By the end of the week you should have a more accurate weight to get your game plan together.

Close friendships can keep you grounded and nurture your soul.  However, in getaway mode you have to be mindfully aware of your nutrition and activity.  Use these tips to come back from your vacation without any extra baggage in your midsection.

More on Fitness:

3 Bogus Fitness Myths

How to Fit in a Cold Weather Workout

Apply These Hair Care Tips to Your Exercise Routine (Seriously!)

 

How to Deal with a New Year Fitness Slump

01/21/2014

By all appearances, it seems easy to gear up for the New Year. With the onslaught of fitness commercials, gadgets, and push from clothing retailers you may have that extra motivation to reach your fitness goal. There’s another side to this picture though. You may find it difficult to get things going. An unexpected illness or family situation can set you back in a heartbeat. If you haven't gotten in the groove of things for the year don't despair. There are ways to get through your fitness slump and still make progress toward your goals in 2014. Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Tip #1: Re-work your goals. Did you start the year with an unrealistic goal? If you've been a coach potato for the last year, aiming for five plus days a week to exercise may actually set you up for failure. Studies show that setting small, achievable goals work best. Let's get back to your weekly workout goals. Start by walking 10 minutes a day for three days per week. Sound too easy? That's okay. The key is to stick with your goal for that week. If you achieve your goal, increase your time by just five minutes at a time and then try it for another two weeks. By week four you'll be up to 60 minutes a week!

Tip #2: Avoid stress eating. This is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. It's important to realize that getting back to normal after the holidays can be a stressful event itself. The back-to-school routines along with getting the house together can be tiring to say the least. No wonder why it's so easy for snacking to get out of control. As a general rule your snacks should be just enough to stave off hunger, not fill you up until the next meal. Some best bets include a cup of red bell peppers, a nonfat yogurt with fresh fruit, or a one-ounce serving of nuts.  

Tip #3: Celebrate your success. This is an area we don't do often enough. For example, you eat out without filling up on tortilla chips. Guess what? That's worth celebrating. Making better choices everyday sets you up for greater success. Other ways to celebrate is to pub yourself a bit. Record your workouts on Facebook or share your run stats with your friends via text message. The little things matter and it's the little wins that make the entire journey more successful.

Studies show that people start to abandon their New Year goals within the first six weeks of the year. Avoid this pattern by making the necessary tweaks in your lifestyle now. Doing this now will keep the mid-year slump at bay.

3 Fitness Myths to Ignore in the New Year

12/23/2013

Some fitness tips sound good on the surface but in reality they are just hype with no shred of truth. As you think about your New Year fitness resolutions be sure to toss these myths out the window.
These are my top three fitness myths to ignore in the New Year. iStock/Thinkstock

Myth #1: All exercise shoes are created equal. When it comes to exercise, the wrong footwear can sideline you. If you walk regularly, you need shoes that have plenty of support and cushioning and if you run, your footwear may warrant some specialized attention. For example, if you have flat feet, plantar fasciitis, bunions, or corns, it is vital to have your feet measured regularly and to try on different styles of shoes. A “fitness” shoe means nothing if it doesn’t work for your type of feet. Do you remember the Tone-up shoes? The science behind the shoes couldn’t hold up and eventually they went away. Fitness shoes cannot tone your legs – ever. As you plan your activities for 2014 make sure you have at least two to three pairs of shoes and rotate them regularly. Write the date you purchased the shoe on the inside sole and replace every nine to eighteen months.

iStock/ThinkstockMyth #2: As long as you wear a bra, you’re okay. There are plenty of articles out there about how to select a sports bra but unfortunately many women still wear their everyday bras during exercise. Wearing your everyday bra during exercise can cause chaffing and increase wear and tear. Most importantly, the support you need will be minimal at best. When it comes to sagging breasts a recent study showed that the lack of proper breast support was the culprit, not nursing a child. While sports bras are not perfect, according to a recent study wearing one is better than wearing your everyday bra. There are many sports bras on the market so try a few out to find the right fit for you. I personally like the brand Champion.

Myth #3: Your body needs more calories when you exercise. Picture this. You have a long run and strength training session and you know you burned at least 500-plus calories. So what do you do? You load up at lunch and dinner. In other words you earned a 500-calorie deficit but added another 1500 calories through post-workout meals. While it’s true that you need a little more protein after a strength training session, consuming high calorie foods will set you back too. Here’s the rule of thumb: whenever you burn more calories than you eat, any splurges must be chosen wisely.

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For example, if you go out to eat, enjoy a portion of your favorite appetizer or share a dessert. What you absolutely cannot do is go all out after every exercise bout. If you’ve had some challenges with losing those stubborn inches, this is the one area where a few tweaks can make all the difference.

If you want to get a stronger, more toned body in 2014, make sure your goals are rooted in science, not fiction. One way to tell if you encounter a fitness myth is to see what the research says and then wait. If it’s legit, it will stand the test of time but if it’s hype, it won’t last. With the New Year around the corner, be sure to stay on top of your fitness game by doing what really works in 2014.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

 

5 Hair Care Tips Applied for a Better Body this 2014

12/09/2013

Pick up any women’s magazine and you’ll read an article on hair care. There are tips from choosing the best hair color to how to get the right haircut. If you read every article one tip will be consistent across the board – consistent maintenance is the key to healthy hair. If you read closely, the tips for healthy hair are close to if not identical to tips for a healthy body.

Read on to learn some basic treatments for your hair that work for your body, too! iStock/Thinkstock

Healthy Habit #1: Keep your body in top condition. Most stylists recommend investing in quality products to care for your hair and it shouldn’t be any different for your body. To keep your body in top condition what you put into it is more important than ever, especially as you age! In fact, some dieticians claim that your fitness success is 70 percent nutrition and 30 percent exercise. Healthy eating is by far the best way to keep your body in top condition. As you prepare for the New Year gear up with a tool such as the myfitnesspal website (also available as an app on your phone) to improve your food choices and increase your likelihood for success.

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Healthy Habit #2: Give yourself a rest.
Too much bleaching can strip your hair of its natural luster and so can too many workouts. While it’s important to be active on a regular basis it’s also important to take the necessary breaks for your body to recover and refuel. Listen to your body and take notice of any after-workout aches or pains. Any nagging problem calls for a doctor’s visit. Otherwise, if you feel too tired to go all out, opt for a low intensity walk.

Healthy Habit #3: Change things up. The right haircut can reduce root stress and give you a new look. Changing your workout has the same effect. If you walk the same route, reverse it. If you jog up the same hill, try walking down the hill to work your quads more. As you age you might find that the workouts that you did in the past don’t give you the same results now. Don’t despair! Change things up every 2-3 weeks to keep things fresh.

Healthy Habit #4: Consult the experts. It pays to consult with an expert. When it comes to your hair and your body, avoid the temptation to skimp. A certified trainer is a great investment that will give you the tools to avoid injury and see results. Organizations like the American Council on Exercise have a wealth of capable trainers to choose from, or you can consult with the management at your local gym.

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Woman with her personal trainer.

Healthy Habit #5: Avoid anything extreme. Changing your hair color from light to dark or vice versa is like going from a couch potato to Cross Fit – not a good idea. If a Cross Fit workout is something you want to try in 2014 start now by building up some endurance. Increase your walk time five minutes every week until you reach the one-hour mark. Afterwards, perform jogging intervals; jog for two minutes and walk for one minute for a total of thirty minutes.

Taking care of your body is important so use the same schedule you’d use for your hair. All the little things you do will make a difference for a healthier you in 2014! 

5 Tips to Get In Your Cold Weather Workout

11/25/2013

Think that you want to blow off exercise until the New Year? You may want to think again.

A new type of fat, called brown fat, has been discovered to be the primary fuel used during cold-weather workouts. This means that when you brave the cold to get your exercise in, you’re burning the right kind of fat.

Read on to learn 5 tips that will get you in shape, or keep you in shape, this cold weather season.

Tip #1: You Finally Have an Excuse to Spend. iStock/Thinkstock

The best way to get yourself to the gym or running outside is to get the proper gear (and hey, it’s allowed to be cute, too!) to bring you there.

And lucky for you, cold weather workouts require a different set of gear. It may seem like an obvious tip but you’d be surprised how much your workout gear can help or hinder your exercise.

During exercise, your body loses heat especially around your head. As a rule of thumb whenever the temperature is below 45 degrees you have to adjust your fitness wear (such as adding a hat, like this one here).

At low temperatures, you run the risk of muscle cramping, frostbite, or falls due to variables such as black ice and snow. Remember that it is best to layer your clothes so that if you do get hot you can shed a layer at a time.

For cold weather running/outdoor gear, try checking out the Under Armor website (or look to Amazon for discounts) and be sure to accessorize your workout for extra warmth and protection!

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Tip #2: Update your playlist.

Beats per minute are not just for group exercise instructors. If you’re still running to the same tunes it is time to change things up. Pick a group of songs with a faster tempo and you’ll increase your exercise intensity or effort. Anytime you change intensity, your body will respond accordingly.

Make it a habit to rotate your playlist, keeping your music (and your workout) fresh and your body challenged.

I like to frequent different runners forums or check Spotify to check out which songs others are listening to to boost their workout mojo.

For some classic ideas, see here.

Tip #3: Choose a better morning brew. iStock/Thinkstock

Your morning coffee can help or hinder your efforts. For example drinking a sugary Frappuccino before your run isn’t a good idea. Studies confirm that caffeine can speed up metabolism but adding extra sugars can sabotage your results. If coffee doesn’t move you, try a metabolism boosting beverage like Dr. Oz’s recommendation of two packets to one cup of green tea. I recommend another cup of tea afterwards to increase antioxidant benefits and help your body recover faster.

Not a tea drinker? Take your coffee black and forgo the extra calories and sugar that may weigh you down on your run.

Tip#4: Get the At-Home DVD

Don’t like tips 1 through 3? Try getting a new workout DVD and put it to the test in the comfort of your own home.

Be wary, though, it’ll be tempting to quit with your couch and shower so close by, but force yourself to get back into a routine (like the one you might’ve had during bikini season) and make a deal with yourself. Tell yourself: ‘I will wake up early every morning for a month and use this DVD and if, and only if, I’m still not seeing results, I can think about an alternative.’

The importance of movement (as it relates to simple inertia) cannot be emphasized enough. In the colder months it will be tempting to stay on the couch but I promise you, the more and more you give in, the harder it will be to change the cycle!

For motivation, check out this list of the 10 Best Fitness DVDs.

Tip #5: Hit the Gym

If you’re already a member of a gym, or if there is one that you’ve been meaning to try – now’s the time to sign up!

Check out all the gyms in your neighborhood and ask about the free or discounted trial period. Most gyms offer a special deal for new members, during the New Year, or for friends of existing members.

Remember people, where there’s a will there’s a way. Be sure to tell yourself this the next time you’re thinking about skipping out on your cold weather workout!

To learn about the benefits of changing your workout when it gets cold, see here.

5 Tips to Keep Off that Pesky Post-Holiday Weight

11/11/2013

If you’re like most moms you want the holidays to be memorable but unfortunately those family memories can turn into weight gain for you. In order to avoid adding those extra pounds to your waist, work these tips in on a regular basis. A few tweaks here and there will help you to minimize weight gain and give you a jumpstart to a healthier New Year.

Tip #1:"Begin with the end in mind" ~ Stephen Covey. This quote can be applied to your workouts especially when you're not feeling it. If you feel tired but know you need to workout, change your thinking and say to yourself: istock/thinkstock

I'm tired but after my workout, I will feel better, have more energy, and get the benefits of some quality me-time.”

Focusing on the positive aspects of your workouts can be a game changer and help you push yourself to get in that workout.

Tip #2: Keep close tabs on your sleep schedule. Sleep is often the overlooked area of your total fitness. If you get less than seven hours of sleep per night, you may feel tired all the time.

The easiest way to track your sleep is by keeping the same daily sleep schedule. This means going to bed at the same time every night and within one hour of this time on the weekends.

If this is not possible for you, you can try ‘tracking’ your sleep. This can be accomplished with a variety of fancy gadgets, or if you’re on a budget, there are inexpensive apps for your phone too. To learn more, see here.

istock/thinkstockTip #3: Stretch every day. As you age, stiffness can set in. It’s important to stretch daily to avoid injury, improve movement, and perform everyday tasks with greater ease. Pilates, Tai Chi, and other forms of stretching are ideal when trying to maintain your flexibility.

Even if you don’t have time for an organized class try sitting on the floor in a straddle position and reach your arms to the ceiling. Lean to one side and keep your back straight at all times. Repeat on the opposite side. Make it your goal to hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Tip #4: Move more. Unfortunately, we live in a very sedentary environment. Researchers have a name for what happens if we move too little, it’s called Sedentary Death Syndrome or SeDS.

SeDS is a growing problem that is the result of physical inactivity and an increase of chronic diseases. If you’re already active, step up your game. Read your favorite magazine article while standing or walk from place to place when running your errands (instead of driving).

If you’re convinced that you’re getting enough exercise invest in an activity tracker that will give you tangible values for activities such as running, walking and cycling.

During the holidays, moving is crucial. Schedule after-meal walks as a family or play games like Wii Fit together. Studies show that if you move more you may live longer too.

Tip #5: Commit to doing something. If you don't have the energy for an hour-long workout, walk for 15 minutes. It's better than nothing and at least you get your heart pumping.

It’s important to get out of the mindset that ‘you don’t have any time’. A workout doesn’t always have to be 40 minutes to an hour – in fact, research shows that shorter, more intense workouts may be even better for your body.

You can keep holiday weight off, you just have to be prepared. Get your holiday plan ready and schedule your workouts now. Avoid the traps that come with the holidays like sampling too many dishes or skipping meals. Stay mindful of what you do and your holidays will be a great memory without all the post-holiday weight gain!

Cardio Training: What You Need to Know!

10/31/2013

There are plenty of cardio to-dos out there but I’d say there are even more myths. Myths like if you don’t do cardio you’ll gain weight or if you miss a cardio session you’ve fallen off the wagon. I get you. I used to feel the same way and I’m in the fitness industry! However, over the last several years I’ve come to a newfound relationship with cardio training and I feel compelled to share it with you. The reality is that depending on the kind of results you want cardio training can take on various forms. For this post however, I’m going to address cardio training from a holistic standpoint to improve your everyday life.

According to the Surgeon General’s Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equal combination of the two. Additional health benefits are seen when you double those numbers. Recently, I looked into what cardio training really means beyond the technical explanations and came up with some basic tips to keep in the forefront of your mind. iStock/thinkstock

Fact #1: Cardio training is not just about weight loss.

There’s a lot of confusion out there about what role cardio plays in your overall fitness regimen. Do more, go hard, perform intervals, or do less cardio. Here’s what I want you to remember: Whenever you do cardio at a moderate to vigorous intensity you’re improving your health at a cellular level.

This means that you’re conditioning your heart to pump blood more efficiently to your muscles and that your cells are being supplied with oxygenated blood. As a result, both your body’s ability to prevent disease such as cancer and its ability to maintain blood sugar levels, improve dramatically. Researchers in Brazil found positive short-term effects from moderate exercise with patients suffering from metabolic syndrome, a pre-cursor to Type 2 Diabetes.

In just 12 weeks, cellular inflammation was reduced and other symptoms related to metabolic syndrome were also improved. The study continues to confirm that cardio training can help reset the body at a cellular level.

Fact #2: Cardio training helps with everyday life.

The next time you have to run through an airport terminal to make a flight, race your kid at the park, or rush up a flight of stairs the cardio benefits show up. Plus, cardio training is cumulative meaning that the more you do it the greater the benefits. An interesting study done at The University of Missouri looked at the benefits of cardio training for Type 2 diabetic patients. Although men responded quickly to cardio training, the study found that woman needed to do longer cardio sessions or higher intensity sessions. Even though this study focused on diabetic patients the overall findings apply to everyone. In order to positively impact your health, improve daily function, and perform better in daily activities you have to move, period.

Fact #3: Cardio training is good for your mind.

Anytime you exercise your body manages the stress hormone cortisol and you get a surge of serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain which helps with mood, sleep, and appetite. Over time regular exercise can help with better sleep, improved performance in everyday activities, better outlook and better quality of life. Researchers at The University of South Carolina conducted a study with mice that revealed that a bout of exercise might help with brain fatigue. Future studies still need to be done but you can relate at least from personal experience. Just think of the last time you had a stressful moment and went for a walk instead of reaching for that cookie.

It’s time to change your mindset when it comes to cardio training. Even if weight loss is your goal, thinking differently about the positive benefits of cardio at the cellular level helps a lot. Once you reap the long-term benefits of cardio training it will become your lifestyle habit (inside and out) not a short-term fix.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Your Hips & Exercise: What You Need to Know

09/30/2013

Hip health isn’t a topic that most folks discuss on a regular basis but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important.

Your hips play an essential role every day from giving birth to your first child to changing up your exercise routine.

iStock/Thinkstock

At some point in your life you may experience hip pain, weakness, or tightness. Today I’ll highlight some of the key signs of hip weakness as well as some exercises that can help strengthen that critical area. 

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine lumbo-pelvic-hip postural distortion is a combination of tight hip flexors and lower back (erector spinae muscles) along with weak gluteal muscles and abdominal muscles.

Your hips serve as your center of gravity. Without getting too technical, if you lack balance, it could be something as simple as how your hips are aligned in your body.  If you have difficulty performing certain exercises the answer may be in your hip flexibility and strength. 

The term lumbo-pelvic hip complex (LPHC) is an area that many physical therapists and personal trainers use to determine your overall core strength, balance, and power. Any weak links in these areas can mean problems in everyday activities such as walking up the stairs or going for your daily run. Before you jump into another exercise routine, it is important to identify which hip muscles are tight and which are weak. The chart below that will give you some guidance.

Tight Muscles                                                              Weak Muscles

Iliopsoas

Gluteus Maximus/Medius

Quadriceps

Hamstrings

Inner Thighs (Adductors)

Transverse Abdominus

Back (Latissimus Dorsi)

Internal Oblique

Erector Spinae

Multifidi

 

Pelvic floor muscles

*Source: National Academy of Sports Medicine

In order to have a well-rounded hip training program, think of training small muscles as well as large muscles. A sample hip healthy workout looks like this:

Warm-up

Use an elliptical or treadmill for 10 minutes. 

Core

Exercise #1: Bridge on Stability ball. Choose a ball that compliments your height like a 55cm or 65cm ball. Sit on the ball and walk out until your head and shoulders are resting on the ball. Place your hands on your hips. Inhale as you lower your hips close to the ground for 4 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and then lift your hips to the starting position. Repeat. Perform two sets with 15-20 reps per set.  If the stability ball bridge is too difficult move to the floor.

For example, click here.

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Exercise #2: Cobra Pose.
 Lay on your stomach with your arms under your shoulders in a pre-push up position. Inhale first and as you exhale lift the arms and shoulders off the ground. As you exhale pull your navel to your spine, squeeze your pelvis to the floor, and your glutes (tush) at the same time. Do as often as needed to relieve hip tightness.

If you're doing the pose correctly, it should look like this.

Exercise #3: Wall Squat.  Stand with your back against the wall and walk your feet out slightly. Lower yourself down until your hamstrings are parallel with the floor and hold. Keep your back against the wall at all times and hold arms out to the front shoulder height. Breathe naturally and make sure to pull your navel to spine and squeeze your pelvic floor each time you exhale. Perform two reps of 20 – 60 seconds. This is difficult so start conservatively and build up from there.

To learn how to protect your knees, click here.

Hip strengthening exercises should become a regular habit to ensure longevity and quality of exercise during your workout. The good news is that these exercises are easy to incorporate after your warm-up or during a circuit training session.

Stronger hips are within your reach. As your overall hip strength improves you’ll see the fruit of your efforts in everyday activities.

What can we learn from Diana Nyad?

09/27/2013

Diana Nyad, the 64-year-old open water swimmer, was the first person to complete the swim from Cuba to Florida (without a shark cage!) on Monday, September 2nd. This was her fifth time attempting this feat over 35 years.

Nyad has unfortunately received some criticism from the open-swimming community, with some nonbelievers accusing her of being dishonest in her account of the event. The swimmer, however, says her story is “squeaky clean.”

©REUTERS/Andrew
U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, 64, walks to dry sand, completing her swim from Cuba as she arrives in Key West, Florida, in this September 2, 2013.

Nyad swam 110 miles from the island country of Cuba to Key West, Florida where she arrived sunburnt and confused. She had been swimming for a total of 53 hours straight.

What can we learn from Nyad?

The shear feat of Nyad’s accomplishment is worth celebrating even if you’re a woman nowhere near 60 years old.

According to an Academy of Finland study, unless exercise is a personal goal, the likelihood of becoming sedentary increases substantially. It is clear that Diana Nyad and many women like her have opted out of sedentary lifestyles in order to achieve a fitness goal, prevent illness, or just to feel better.

Similarly, it has been found that competition and a sense of community can aid in accomplishing fitness and weight loss goals.

So what about you? Have you made it a lifelong goal to be fit? What are you currently doing to stay fit for the long haul?

Staying fit doesn’t require you to enter a contest, or even run a 10k. What it does require is that you have the right mindset every day. That means that regardless of the crazy week at work or a difficult season with the little ones, you have to exercise. I’m sure that Diana had her share of problems during her training from muscle soreness to fatigue to doubt. In fact, there had to be times when she thought about quitting. But she had a long-term plan and she stuck to it.

If you’re not a huge fan of fitness or simply have been known to fall off the wagon, try stealing a page out of Nyad’s book and set a goal for yourself. Sign up for a 5k or a walk for a great cause. Are you a social person looking to lose a few pounds? Try signing up for WeightWatchers with your girlfriend and enjoy great conversation and support while working towards your weight loss and fitness goals.

The bottom line here is you’ve got to set a goal that you want to be fit and healthy for life, and then you’ve got to stick with it. Competition, weight loss, friendship – whatever it is that motivates you, stick to it and become a healthier you!

In an interview with Nyad post-race, she stated that with each failed attempt to swim to Florida she learned something new and applied it to the next race. Over time, she mastered the nuances of the swim and achieved her lifelong dream. 

All of us can use some tuning up in the area of staying fit for life. The best thing you can do now is to make fitness a priority.

So ask yourself, what are my fitness goals?

Strengthen Ligaments, Tendons and Muscles, Too!

09/03/2013

Ask a busy mom what it takes to get in shape and she’ll say something like you need to workout and eat right. Sounds simple enough right? The reality is that overall fitness is a tricky thing. You can do all the right things like work out consistently and eat well and still be on the road to future problems. There are some subtle yet powerful fitness dos and don’ts that can either help you feel better or stifle your progress. In today’s post I’ll discuss my top three tips to keep you in tip-top shape.

Tip #1: Work Your Tendons and Ligaments.

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of ligament or tendon conversations unless you tune into ESPN and get the latest professional player’s injury report. Athletes and regular folks need strong ligaments to help with joint stability and strong tendons to help muscles produce force. An action as simple as lifting grocery bags or reaching to help your kid open a snack bag can cause problems especially if you don’t train the muscles around a joint.

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Make sure to stretch before and after exercising!

According to Dr. Nicholas A. DiNubile author of the book Framework, imbalances in strength, flexibility, or both can be a major setup for bone and joint problems. Elbow and knee problems are often the result of re-injuries, incomplete rehabilitation, or not-so-great exercise form. Left unaddressed and your next tennis game can result in an injury that takes longer to heal. Balancing exercises are ideal for ligament strength. For example, after you’ve mastered a two-arm lateral shoulder raise, try the same exercise on one leg (drop the weight or do without weights). Changing this exercise ever so slightly can help improve your joints.

Tip #2: Don’t train hard everyday.

This is a common mistake folks make with exercise -- they workout hard every day at a super high intensity. When you’re in your 20s, this may work for you especially if you have more time and energy. However, as you get older training hard everyday may result in overtraining, an elevated resting heart rate, and decreased performance.

A recent study cited by Science Daily showed that moderate exercise was better for tendons over higher impact exercises. So if you go on a long run one day, try swimming or taking a Pilates class the next day. By changing your exercise intensity you allow for optimal joint lubrication, improved blood flow, and a better recovery period. 

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To avoid getting injured, give yourself enough recovery time between workouts.
Tip #3: Make recovery a priority.

It’s important to build in recovery time from your workouts and there’s plenty of research that supports this notion. Dr. Len Kravitz and Jonathan Mike from the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque) discuss the importance of recovery time during and after exercise.

The next time you complete an intense exercise session, use the next day to rest. This can include a stretching class, low-intensity walk, or taking the day off completely. The point is to allow your body to recover at the cellular level and this takes time. As women age, it may take longer to recover between hard workouts, so an extra day may be needed. Most importantly, listen to your body and plan accordingly.

Optimal joint health, changing exercise intensity, and prioritizing recovery time is better for your body. Avoid getting caught up in the trends of daily hard-core workouts. Think about your training regimen and ask yourself if it is sustainable. Can you do this for the long haul? Do you feel better or worse? Do you allow your body a proper recovery period?

Make sure you do the right things and don’t do the activities that slow you down over time.  Figure out what works for your body and stick to it!

As a 4-time mom, I understand the many demands and challenges that come with raising a family and trying to get or stay fit. I've developed programs for pre-conception, pregnancy and post-pregnancy as well as preparing for and recovering from challenges like medical procedures.
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