Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cover the Basics For the Holidays and Beyond

Miracle pills, quick fixes, super supplements and the latest and greatest breakthrough training methods…so many options when you’re trying to get leaner and healthier, especially during the holiday season. In my years of training myself and others I’ve come to realize that many methods work. Temporarily. Few work long term. Low carb diets work but not forever. We simply need carbs. I don’t encourage anyone to consume too many supplements or “magic” weight loss pills. Before you take on the newest diet craze or open your wallet to the hottest piece of fitness equipment make sure you’ve covered the basics. Statistically results can be achieved faster when you work with a trainer. Whether you are new to exercise or need to breakthrough a plateau the benefits of a personalized program, the structure and accountability are invaluable. Couple this with some basic food and lifestyle adjustments, weight loss and fitness for the average person is not rocket science. It comes down to choices and commitment.

Understand Appropriate Portions and Servings
This is a good article with a portion control study and a sample portion plate

Set Moderate and Realistic Goals
To drop one pound of body fat you need a 3,500 calorie deficit. A safe and realistic goal is 1-2 lbs/week so distribute this 3,500 deficit into your week. The caloric deficit should come from a decrease is food intake and an increase in exercise. I hate calorie counting but as an initial short term goal do it so that you understand how much you should be eating.

Make Proper Food Choices
Choose foods lower on the Glycemic index (GI) since lower GI foods generally make us feel fuller and often cause decreased food intake. Some studies show GI may be less relevant in endurance trained individuals. This could mean that the more physically fit you are the less insulin sensitivity you may experience. Insulin is a complex hormone so to keep things simple opt for complex carbohydrates, skip the juice, choose citrus fruits and fruits with skin you can eat and have plenty of veggies and lean proteins.

Sleep Enough and Manage Your Stress
Stress affects our every day life and has an impact on the foods we crave and select to eat. In addition to this a lack of sleep causes a vicious cycle since sleep deprivation increases levels of a hunger hormone and decreases levels of a hormone that makes you feel full.

Take care of yourself with some basic guidelines, laugh and have fun during the upcoming holidays. Enjoy yourself in good health/gena.

Mettler S et. al. The influence of the subjects’ training state on the glycemic index. Eur J. Clin Nutr (2007 ) Jan;61(1):19-24.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

See the Whole, Not Just the Parts

It seems that everyone wants to change something. When I meet with people to discuss their health history and fitness goals the focus often shifts from health to appearance. Many people want to change their appearance; flatten the belly, get rid of the jiggle on the back of the arms, the fat through the thigh and pieces of their bodies. So it seems that we don’t really see ourselves as a whole but as parts – some are good and some not so good.

Let’s look past the mirror for a moment. What we do know is that exercise benefits more than just our physical appearance. When you realize your potential, your strength and endurance you then start to see your body as more than just its parts. Some see it as a temple others see it as a machine. I see it as a whole. When I run across a finish line the size of my clothes, my thighs or whether or not my stomach is flat seem trivial to me. At the end of the day what you accomplish during exercise translates to all areas of your life and you essentially become more than just what is physically visible.

You feel the benefits of a lower resting heart rate, better sleep and the natural progression of healthful eating. You gain an improved mental and emotional state of being. You build and maintain healthy muscles, joints and bones and you reduce the risks of diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and premature death. You can’t always see these things but what you feel will encourage you and others to see you as healthful whole being. We are not all genetically inclined to have the perfect body. What is that anyway? That’s not attainable to many people’s standards. Be realistic, understand the commitment and make the necessary changes. Accept and embrace what you genetically cannot change, improve what you can and enjoy yourself knowing you’re doing your best to look after yourself. See beyond the mirror and...enjoy yourself in good health/gena.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Getting It Out Of Your System

I live inside my head a lot. When I'm not living inside my head I might talk about what I talk to myself about. During one of these moments I expressed my want to climb something really high and/or to run a really really long distance. It was then suggested that I just get this kind of stuff “out of my system” followed by some discourse about age, unnecessary risks, bones and joints which eventually concluded with: “you know you’re not that young.” Hearing this secretly makes my want stronger but I just stare back blank faced. The odd time I’ll throw in a squinted eye, maybe with a tilted head, but I try to maintain what I’m thinking is my “poker face”.

I don’t like the term “get it out of your system”. I don’t want it out of my system. It’s this desire or drive or will or whatever it is that keeps me going. So how do you rid yourself of these wants? I guess one way is to actually follow through and accomplish what it is you want. I personally don’t doubt my abilities to accomplish what I set my mind to but right now I opt to be more present and available to those who need me more than I need to fulfill these wants. Sometimes timing is just off. So if getting it out of your system means giving it up then don’t. Maybe you need to wait a bit or maybe you need to alter your goal slightly but keep it. Gather info, talk to others with similar goals and stay connected.

A few years ago I woke up one morning, four days before what would become my first race, and decided that I was going to run that Sunday. I didn’t really get into it with anyone...there will always be someone to tell you you're nuts. I’m a bit of an introvert. Don’t like too much fuss. I just want to do my thing and most likely alone. That’s why I run. I like the solitude and I don’t need to do it with anyone. So just like that it may hit you - you wake up one day and decide. Everything starts somehow so maybe this is the day for you.

Enjoy yourself in good health/gena.