All posts in Exercise

Four Ways to Rev Up your Metabolism

Four Ways to Rev Up your Metabolism

After you lose weight, your metabolism slows down, thus it is easier to regain the weight you lost. And once you gain back the weight, the harder it is to lose it.  It’s a vicious cycle.  But you can get it back under control.  By employing a few helpful nutrition and lifestyle changes, you will be on the road to optimizing your metabolism for life.

What is metabolism? It’s the sum of all the chemical reactions happening in your body. Based on the science of food metabolism and the way our bodies burn energy, here are four ways to boost your metabolism for lasting weight control:

  1. Distribute your intake of protein throughout the day. Don’t let dinner be the meal where you consume most of your protein. Spread it out among all your meals for more efficient use.
  1. Work out daily: But mix up what you do every day.  Combine resistance, aerobic and flexibility training to five consistent workouts per week.  Maybe 2-3 times a week do an aerobic or cardio workout like jogging, my favorite, or biking.  Balance this out with 2-3 days of some form of stretching like Yoga or Pilates.  The objective is to not solely burn calories but to boost your body’s metabolism and response to exercise through recovery and rebuilding.
  1. Manage stress: Stress is not something we are going to eliminate, and a little bit is not necessarily a bad thing.  But when your stress level gets out of whack, your metabolism suffers.  Stress causes your hormones, such as cortisol, to overproduce and affects your insulin sensitivity.  You tend to sleep less and gain weight. We also tend to overeat and exercise less when we are stressed.
  1. Sleep well. Even a single interruption in your normal 6-8 hours per night sleep pattern has a detrimental effect on fat metabolism and tissue recovery from exercising.  Plan your sleep routine as you would a workout. When you give your body a full night sleep on a consistent basis, you are supporting the release of important hormones. Melatonin is one of these hormones that help control your daily metabolic rate.

Your energy levels, ability to work out, and weight gain or loss all depend on your body’s metabolic processes.  If you implement these four simple strategies, your body will operate more efficiently.  You’ll maintain weight loss, which makes for a happier new year.


Resolve to Take a Broad Approach to Weight Management this New Year

Resolve to Take a Broad Approach to Weight Management this New Year

Now that we are in the holiday season, many of us resign ourselves to the weight gain that typically follows. Indeed, it is very hard to pass up holiday sweets that seem to be everywhere as well as extra servings of a traditional family dish. That’s why so many weight loss books are published at this time promising a “New Year, New You.”

So it’s no surprise that the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.  But this year consider a broader approach to resolving the problem for more lasting success.  Here are 10 points that my health-coaching clients have incorporated into their weight-management programs that you may want to consider:

1. Sleep better.
2. Work out more, whether it is outside, at the gym or home.
3. Begin a daily mindfulness or meditation practice.
4. Drink more water and get rid of diet sodas.
5. Eat more vegetables and less meat.
6. Organize your home, workspace or both.
7. Make new friends and/or spend more time with those you already have.
8. Improve work/life balance to allow more time to take better care of yourself.
9. Quit tolerating an uncomfortable situation at home or work out of fear.  Define the problem and fix it.
10. Find an app or person to hold you accountable to whatever goal you are trying to achieve so you will create a lasting  new habit.

There is a lot of help available, so take advantage of it now so 2017 can be your best year yet!

The Benefits of Exercise That You Can Enjoy Now

The Benefits of Exercise That You Can Enjoy Now

Last week, we talked about the immediate benefits of exercising and how exercise is the new miracle drug. But, even better news is that so much of what we already do counts as exercise. Heavy gardening, like digging and raking, mowing the grass and washing the car all count as vigorous exercise. Physical activity and exercise include all types of movement not just playing an athletic sport.

In fact, emerging research is showing that it doesn’t take much movement to get benefits. Research is showing that an intensive work out for as little as 10 minutes has benefits, and doing it at high intensity has the same benefits of a standard 50-minute workout. Still, not everyone wants to do high intensity or interval training that is required in a shorter workout. However, if you are short on time, the #1 reason people say that don’t exercise, this type of exercising might be for you.

Interval workouts are also proving effective for people who already have a chronic disease such as Type 2 diabetes or heart failure. Any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up is the answer to seeing dramatic improvements in all chronic diseases. Getting your heart rate up through exercise is also known to improve depression, anxiety, and energy levels.

So since exercise can benefit nearly everyone, what are some of the types of workouts that don’t necessarily require a gym membership? The best type of workout is one that is a mix of cardio and strength training. Cardio will prevent you from being winded after climbing the stairs. Strength training will build muscle and bone, which protects against injury as we age.

Several examples would be:

1. Walking: It has the lowest “quit” rate of any exercise, improves your memory, well-being, heart health and creativity. In fact, today, after Hurricane Matthew had come and gone, I took a brisk walk with a friend. Not only did my energy increase, but the walk helped me focus so I could write this blog.

2. Cycling: Whether you do it indoors or out, cycling has been shown to increase brain connectivity. And doing it at high intensity improves a depressed mood.

3. Running: My personal favorite is running. Going for a run improves sleep and makes your bones stronger. Even doing it for 5-10 minutes a day, at a jogging pace, is linked to a longer life.

4. Yoga: Lifting your own body weight and flowing through intense poses will give you the strength training you need. Not to mention a bit of mindfulness and stress relief.

5. Weight training: I used to think weight training meant lifting dumbbells at a gym with a bunch of other sweating people. I now know that an inexpensive pair of light weights will build muscle and strengthen bone just by increasing the number of repetitions. Something else to try as an alternative to weights are resistance bands.

6. Tai Chi: These slow gentle movements might not look like you are doing much of anything. But, in fact, Tai Chi strengthens the back, abs, upper and lower body. It also relieves pain and improves posture. This is one workout I have never tried but am thinking it might be good one. Especially since my “frozen” shoulder is improving and I am working to regain strength in that area of my body.

As you can see, one exercise does “not fit all.” It’s extremely important to find one you like and will do on a regular basis. Why? So you can reap the immediate benefits today and create a lasting habit that will help you live a longer and healthier life.


How Exercise Can Help You TODAY

How Exercise Can Help You TODAY

Everyone knows they should exercise. Doctors, scientists and even ancient philosophers have long advised that exercise is good for you and warn that the more the better if done properly. Now we are getting more and more proof that exercise is critical.

Researchers have found that during and immediately after exercising, positive changes occur in our bodies. A steady run, jog or walk not only gets blood flowing and hearts pumping but also helps improve skin and eye health. If someone created a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever.

So why do only 20 percent of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity per week? Why is it that more than half of all baby boomers do no exercise whatsoever?   Surely by now everyone knows the consequences of leading sedentary life.

People with low levels of physical activity are at a higher risk of developing cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and early death by many other preventable causes. Yet generally speaking, humans are not good at assessing long-term risks as well as benefits, of our lifestyle choices. Promises that exercise is “good for you” aren’t motivating enough for most people to take action — especially if they consider exercise as just another chore. However, most people are motivated by rewards. Here are only a few of them regarding proper exercise:

— Slower aging.

— Better mood.

— Less stress and anxiety.

— Less chronic pain.

— Improved eyesight.

— Lower medical bills.

Where’s the proof? Beginning in 2017, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will launch a six-year $170 million study with a group of 3,000 sedentary people of all ages. They will start an exercise program and then donate their blood, muscle and fat before and after exercise. Another group that doesn’t exercise will also be tracked.

This study is the first of it’s kind in terms of size, rigor and aims. Experts are hoping it will give doctors evidence they need to start treating exercise like the miracle drug they’ve long thought it to be. Instead of your doctors saying, “You need to exercise more,” they will actually give exercise as a prescription!

It’s becoming evident too that nearly everyone — young, old, pregnant and those that are ill —benefit from exercise. As scientists learn more about why this it is, they are hoping that the messaging about exercise gets simpler too. No fancy gym membership required, just get out and move. I’ll have on this important subject next week. So please stay tuned!


How to Make Weight Loss Last

How to Make Weight Loss Last

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, especially after 50 years of age, you know it’s an extremely difficult challenge. You should also know that keeping off those extra pounds is even harder.

According to the International of Journal of Obesity, among overweight and obese adults, only 17 percent who lost at least 10 percent of what they started with were able to keep it off long term. And those who lost more are less likely to keep it off. So why is this?

The key to lasting change in any area of your life is developing healthy habits and sticking with them. So start now to develop good dietary choices. This makes managing the weight loss far easier. It’s also important to establish reasonable goals ahead of time. You can’t reach a goal if you don’t have one. When it comes to maintaining your body weight, keep that goal in mind and hold yourself accountable.

But don’t beat yourself up if you get off track occasionally. As I often tell my health-coaching clients, change is not linear. It’s OK to slip occasionally. Just get back on track as soon as you can and continue working toward becoming the best that you can be.

It’s also important to customize your diet to fit your lifestyle once you are in maintenance mode. The key is to find what works for you personally. One diet does not fit all, and neither does one diet-maintenance plan.

Fun times, vacations, dinners out, etc. are important. It’s fine to enjoy these times. They are a part of enjoying life. So plan accordingly. Keep your overall diet healthy and practical for your lifestyle. Here’s a time-tested rule of thumb: If you eat healthy 80 percent of the time, you can splurge for the other 20 percent.

Of course, no article on maintaining weight loss would be complete without reference to exercise. Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. Exercise is a great way to break through weight loss plateaus and help you manage your weight once you have reached your goals. Whether you prefer a leisurely walk around the block, an intense 10k race, or anything in between, exercise is great for maintaining your weight, your energy and a critical can-do attitude.

Once you have hit your weight-loss goal, it’s wise to continue to build muscle mass with exercise such as resistance training. As we age, we lose muscle mass. But many women don’t want to build muscle, only lose fat. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other. Muscle burns fat and it important for maintaining your weight and keeping your metabolism revved up. The best way to lose fat is to build lean muscle with exercise and the right amount of protein, plant based protein counts too.

If you find you are struggling with losing weight, or keeping it off, accountability may be the missing piece for you. Give me a call for a free, 30-minute optimal health breakthrough session to see how I might be able to help.


Are You ‘Pre-Diabetic?’

Are You ‘Pre-Diabetic?’

How do you prevent diabetes? What does it mean when your doctor tells says, “You are pre-diabetic?” Is the cure to stop eating foods with sugar and start exercising almost every day?

But as I re-read my prediabetes materials in preparation for a 16-week class I am
facilitating for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), I am reminded that it is so much more than that.

People who are pre-diabetic have a blood sugar level higher than normal, but not high
enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. They are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, including heart disease, and stroke.

A person with certain risk factors is more likely to develop prediabetes and type 2
diabetes. These factors include:

— Age, especially after 45 years old.
— Being overweight, especially if you carry a lot of extra weight in your abdomen.
— A family history of diabetes.
— Having an African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or
Pacific Islander racial or ethnic background.
— A history of diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) or having given birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more.
— Not being physically active three or more times a week.

So if you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or you think you have some of the warning signs listed above, what can you do?

— Research shows that doing just two things can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes: Lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight, which would be 10 to 14 pounds for a 200- pound person. And get at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity, such as brisk walking.

Another way is to take a class along with others who are concerned about their health. Consider joining one of my Wellness Beyond Fifty lifestyle change programs, which can help you reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent.

If you do, you will discover what foods to eat and how much physical activity is required each day to achieve the results you desire.  Once you have lost the weight, you will learn specific coping skills to maintain it so you can have the best health of your life.


Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life


Have you ever asked yourself why some people live longer? Are they born lucky? Do they have good genes? Ever thought about what you are doing to improve the quality of your own life and those of others? These questions were among the primary reasons I studied at Duke University to become a certified integrative health coach. Advances in modern medicine will help us live longer lives than our parents and grandparents, but what about the quality of increased longevity? Research continues to show that the better the quality of your life the longer you will likely be around. So how do you improve your quality today so you can live longer and enjoy life to the fullest?

Consider the following:

— We all know about cleaning our teeth. But did you know doing so lessens the
chance of having inflammation in your body? A recent study at Emory University notes
that periodontal disease constricts blood flow and can lead to heart disease and stroke. It
can also jack up your white blood cell count making it harder for your immune system to
fight off infections. So floss daily, writes Michael F. Roizen, M.D. in his book “Real
Age.” It adds an average of 6.3 years to a person’s lifespan.

— Socialize! People with poor social connections are twice as likely to die young,
according to research conducted by Brigham Young University and the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But those with strong social ties are usually more active,
more likely to seek medical care, have lower stress, improved quality and live longer.

— Fall birthdays are a plus. Who knew? Researchers at the University of Chicago
found that people born during September, October and November are much more likely
to live to be 100 than people born at any other time of year. One reason is seasonal
vitamin deficiency during critical periods of fetal and infant development may affect a
child’s later health and longevity. Also, fall babies are less likely to be exposed to
infectious diseases, which were more common during summer, early winter and spring

— Get spiritual. Practicing your faith, whether it’s a mantra or a prayer, helps you
find inner peace. It also encourages a desire to be of service to others. Studies show that
spiritual people who have altruistic leanings are happier than those who don’t. This is
especially true for women.

—Yes, your friends matter. The fatter your friends, the fatter you are likely to be, for
instance. Same goes for overindulging in alcohol, mindless eating, and other unhealthy
habits. Doing unhealthy things just because your friends do them interferes with your
perception of what is healthy. When friends are indulging in bad habits, the more likely
they seem normal for the rest of the group. So strive to set good examples for your
friends and you might find that they will improve their lives as well.

— Clean house your house. The less dirt and clutter you surround yourself in, the less
chance you a likely to get sick. Besides, the more you dust shelves, mop floors and push a
vacuum, the more exercise you get. Staying active throughout the day is the key.

— Get outside and enjoy nature. You have a 12 percent chance of living longer if you
stay close to nature. This is especially true for women. Green spaces have less air
pollution, and there are so many interesting things to see. This also encourages you to
exercise your physical body as well as bringing you peace of mind.

It’s never too late to start improving your quality of life. I offer a free, 30-minute Optimal Health Breakthrough Session. Let’s find out what’s holding you back from having the life you want.


Stand Tall

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I can still hear my mother telling me to stand up straight. Like most teenagers, sometimes I listened and sometimes I didn’t. Recently, I was looking at a group photo with me in it, and there I sat, hunched over! That’s when my mother’s voice from long ago began playing over in my mind. What happened? Had it taken me living half a century to notice I had less than stellar posture?

I started asking questions. Getting older and vanity aside, is there any health risk to slouching or poor posture? The answer is “yes.” When our body slumps, it is not as efficient at performing tasks and we lose both range of motion and strength. But my questions persisted: Was slouching a natural consequence of aging, and was it too late to reverse it? The answers are yes and no.

The bad news is you tend to slouch with age. The good news is the process is reversible. It’s reversible by properly stretching and strengthening the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. Together with a strengthening routine for your mid back muscles, you can help straighten things out.

A personal trainer can give you a stretching/strengthening exercise program to follow. Or, if you are like me, see a physical therapist. As a result of a lifetime of slouching, plus sitting at a computer, aggravated by a new weight- lifting program, gave me what is called “shoulder impingement syndrome”. I am now seeing a physical therapist twice a week to stretch and strengthen my muscles. I’m also keenly aware of my poor posture during the day and remind myself to sit up straight. My therapist said you can retrain your muscles to hold you up straight but it will take at least thirty days.

But don’t wait until you get injured to improve your posture. Keep moving and stretching throughout your day. Change positions regularly. Stand up and walk around for a few minutes every hour.

Also, here are three exercises that you can do at home 3 or 4 times a week:

1. The Doorway Stretch: Stand with your arms resting on the doorway frame, bending at a 90-degree right angle. Keep a straight back posture and lean gently into the doorway. You should feel a slight stretch in the front of your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds.

2. The Butterfly: With your hands clasped behind your head, lift your elbows up. Now pull them back, at the same time pinching your shoulder blades together. Do this several times throughout your day and/or while lying in bed at night.

3. The T Prone: Lie face down on the floor with a pillow under your abdomen and a folded towel or yoga blanket under your forehead. Engage your shoulder blades by squeezing them toward each other, slowly raise your arms slightly off the ground and hold them out straight, forming a T. Hold for three seconds. Do five sets of five stretches each.

All of this is quite simple, don’t you think? Enough to make a mother smile:)