Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Are You a Night Owl?

How late do you stay up?  Are you an "early to bed, early to rise" kind of person or do you burn the midnight oi?  Do you have a difficult time losing weight?  In a recent study by Northwestern University, published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that staying up late at night could add an additional 2 pounds-a-month weight gain.  Their reasoning was that night owls ate more food, had poor eating habits, and were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI).

In this study, scientists followed the sleep patterns and eating habits of 52 adults.  More than half were "normal" sleepers while the remaining 44% were "late" sleepers (got less sleep and went to bed later).  Results are disconcerting.  Overall, late sleepers consumed 248 more calories per day than normal sleepers.  This was accomplished through eating more fast food, drinking more high-calorie soft drinks, and having lower fruit and vegetable consumption.

Which category do you fall under?  Sleep is vital to the human body.  We must remain focused on the body's internal clock and abide by that system for eating and sleeping habits.  When they are not aligned, metabolism and appetite change which ultimately lead to weight gain.  Also, during sleep our bodies make necessary repairs from environmental factors and physical/emotional stress.  Deprive yourself of sleep and the whole body suffers.

Need help with your eating habits?  Talk to our nutrition specialist at PROMATx Health Club to find out more about metabolism and nutrition.

Sleep soundly, eat healthy, reap the benefits!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Strengthening Your Core...Where Is It???

You hear the term "core" a lot when you are in the gym or when watching a fitness-related show, but do you really know what your core is?  Most people think your core is your abdominal muscles.  That is partially correct but there are more muscles involved in the core than just abdominals.

At a minimum, your core includes Transverse Abdominis (deep lying abdominal muscle group), Internal and External Obliques (side abdominal muscle groups), Rectus Abdominis (a.k.a. "6-pack), and Erector Spinae (muscle group running along the spine.  Core muscles actually extend lower in the hip/pelvis region to include Multifidus (deeper under the Erector Spinae group), Hip Flexors, Gluteal (buttocks) muscles and Hip Adductors.

The "core" muscles stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulders and provide a solid foundation for movement in the extremities.  Core conditioning exercise programs need to target all these muscle groups to be effective.  The muscles of the core make it possible to stand upright and move on two feet.  These muscles help to control movements, transfer energy, shift body weight, and move in any direction.  A strong core distributes the stresses of weight-bearing and protects the back.

So now you know where/what your core is...where do you go from here?  There are plenty of exercises that will work your core.  No longer will you have to get on the floor and do crunches.  Basic exercises such as squats and lunges will work the core.  Other exercises include planks, v-sits, push-ups (yes, push-ups!), hip bridges, hip lifts (reverse crunches), supermans, bird dogs...the list is long!

Need more guidance?  Check with a trainer at PROMATx Health Club to ensure you are performing sufficient exercises to strengthen your core muslces.  Once you build strength in your core, everyday activities (and sports) become much easier to perform!

Stand tall, work your core, improve your balance. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Improving Hamstring Flexibility

In our last post, we discussed back pain.  One cause of back pain is tight hamstring muscles.  This is the group of muscles that runs on the back of the thigh from the buttocks to the back of the knee.  When this muscle group is tight it pulls the pelvis backwards and down, causing the hips to tuck slightly.  When this occurs the muscles running down the back that attach to the top of the pelvis are overstretched.  Thus resulting in back soreness or pain. 

When your hamstrings are tight it's important to stretch all the muscles, not just the hamstrings, that attach to the hip and knee.  There are five major muscle groups you can stretch on a daily basis to improve not only hamstring flexibility but also hip movements.  First let's talk about some basic "rules" of stretching:
  1. Stretching should never be painful.  You should feel resistance in the muscle but NEVER pain.  If you feel pain, back off the stretch just a little; if you still feel pain, stop stretching immediately.
  2. Always warm-up prior to stretching.  Stretching a "cold" muscle is not beneficial and can cause pain.  Perform light exercise (i.e., walking, biking) for 6-8 minutes prior to stretching or, better yet, stretch at the end of your workout.
  3. Breathe normally.  It's common when stretching a tight muscle to hold your breath.  Try to breathe normally to allow oxygen to get into your system and out to the muscle you are stretching.
  4. Perform each stretch in a slow, controlled manner.  NEVER bounce when stretching.  This can damage the muscle and cause intense pain.
  5. Hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds.  You can repeat the stretch up to 10 times for maximum benefit.
Now that you know some basics, let's look at 5 muscle groups to stretch to improve hamstring flexibility and hip motion.
  1. Quadriceps Stretch on Bench
    • Position yourself on the edge of a bench or your bed so your left leg is on the floor and right thigh is flat against the bench/bed.
    • Lift your right foot and grab it with your right hand (or wrap a towel around the foot).  Keep the thigh on the bench/bed.
    • Gently pull foot towards buttocks until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh.
    • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.
    • Repeat with left leg.
  2. Lying Hamstring Stretch
    • Lie on your back, keeping back flat and eyes focused upward.
    • Grasp the back of one thigh with both hands (or wrap a towel around thigh).
    • With a bent knee, gently pull that leg to a 90-degree position versus the floor.
    • Flex your toes towards your head and slowly straighten the knee.
    • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.
    • Repeat with opposite leg.
  3. Piriformis Stretch
    • Lying on your back, cross your legs just as you might while sitting in a chair with the ankle on top of the opposite knee.
    • Grasp the "under" leg with both hands and gently pull the knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in your buttock and thigh.
    • Try to keep the head on the floor.  If this cannot be done, wrap a towel around the thigh and pull with the towel.
    • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.
    • Repeat with opposite leg.
  4. Gastrocnemius (Calf) Stretch
    • Lean against a wall or other stationary object, palms flat against the object.
    • The leg you want to stretch is back, several feet from the wall, your heel firmly positioned on the floor.  The other leg is bent about halfway between your back leg and the wall. 
    • Start with your back straight and gradually lunge forward until you feel the stretch in your calf.
    • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.
    • Repeat with opposite leg.
  5. Soleus (Calf) Stretch
    • Position yourself similar to the previous stretch with back straight and palms against the object/wall.
    • The difference is that you start in a "seated" position with both legs bent, buttocks dropped.
    • Gently lean into the wall until the stretch is felt in lower calf near the Achilles tendon.
    • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.
    • Repeat with opposite leg.
Now that you know how to stretch and which muscle groups to stretch, try it today.  Spend about 5-10 minutes every day performing these five stretches.  You should begin to notice a difference within a few days.  Perform these stretches regardless of whether you feel tightness in your hamstring.

You'll feel better and movement will become easier when you don't have to fight against tight muscles!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's Causing Your Back Pain?

More than 80% of Americans suffer from back pain.  Are you one of them?  Back pain can stem from any number of sources and people are experiencing chronic back pain more than ever.  Is your pain acute (less than 6 weeks in duration), sub-acute (6-12 weeks duration) or chronic (more than 12 weeks duration)?  What do you do to alleviate pain?

Let's first look at some causes of back pain:
  1. Belly fat - excess weight on the stomach causes the low back to curve excessively thus placing a lot of stress on the lower spine.
  2. Posture - sway back (increased lower spine curve) or flat back places the spine in awkward positions and requires more effort from the spine to do normal, everyday activities.
  3. Improper lifting - bending from the low back to pick up objects from the floor can cause back pain.  Lift from your legs and bend at the hips instead.
  4. Constipation/Irregular bowel movements - yes I went there!  Blockage in the lower intestines puts pressure on the low back.
  5. Bad mood/stress - poor outlook on life or stress exacerbates pain levels.
  6. Vitamin D - studies have shown that people with chronic back pain have lower levels of vitamin D.  (check out our previous blog on the importance of vitamin D.)
  7. Sitting for long periods of time - sitting actually puts more pressure on the spine than standing because you are sitting directly on your tailbone.
  8. Weak abdominal muscles - strong core muscles, including abdominal muscles, can act as a "brace" to protect the low back during movements.
These are just a few causes of back pain.  Take a look at your back pain and try to determine the cause(s).  Is it one listed above?  These are all "controllable" causes of back pain.  If you are one who battles with chronic pain due to arthritis, previous back injury, herniated disks, etc., then you probably know the cause of your pain.

What can you do to alleviate back pain?  Ice is always a good tool.  Get yourself a nice big ice pack and ice your back 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.  Stretching is another easy tool.  Stretch your hamstrings, piriformis (butt muscle), quadriceps (thigh), and hip flexors on a daily basis.  Tight muscles will pull on the pelvis which can put excess strain on back muscles.  Surprisingly enough, movement is a good cure for back pain.  Talk to anyone who has had a major back surgery recently and they'll tell you their physician advised them to "keep moving".  Movement allows blood flow to the muscles delivering much needed oxygen.  Finally, chiropractic care can be helpful for both acute and chronic back pain.

Want more info?  Talk to a trainer at PROMATx Health Club to find out how you can prevent back pain, or if you are one of the 80% with back pain, how you can alleviate pain.

Stand up straight, take a deep breath, and use proper form when performing any task.  Your back will appreciate it!! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breakfast...Skip it or Savor it??

If you are trying to lose weight, one temptation may be to cut out breakfast.  This will help you cut calories, right?  Seems like it might be true, however, this process may be detrimental to your weight loss.  Research has shown that people who are most successful with their weight loss got up and ate breakfast.  Also, people who eat breakfast on a regular basis have healthier levels of vitamins and minerals and tend to eat less fat. 

So how does breakfast help?  Studies have shown people who start their day with a healthy breakfast tend to make healthier choices throughout the day.  The reason for this is skipping your first meal of the day increases hunger levels which ultimately results in consuming more calories at lunch.  See how that negates the calorie loss at breakfast?

Another way breakfast can help is by eating foods higher in protein.  Consumption of higher protein foods in the morning helps to stave off hunger longer.  Protein takes longer for the body to digest and creates a thermic effect meaning it takes more calories to digest it. 

Finally, eating breakfast can give you the energy to get you moving.  Being more active in the morning and throughout the day, helps you to burn calories and improve your chances of losing weight.

Not a breakfast fan?  No one said you have to eat "breakfast food" (i.e., eggs, pancakes, waffles, etc.) in the morning.  Try foods higher in protein like non-fat yogurt or a lean cut of meat.  Add high-fiber, complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads and cereals to help keep you satisfied longer.  Fiber gives you the sense of "fullness" thus preventing you from overeating.

Your breakfast choices should coincide with your weight-loss goals.  Be sure to eat a well-rounded meal with fruits and veggies to get your recommended levels of vitamins and minerals.  So get up and make breakfast.  It really is the most important meal of the day!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Six Workout Mistakes That Slow Down Results

Ever feel like you are working hard but not getting any results?  Here are six workout mistakes that can slow you down.

  1. Don't sacrifice good form for speed...slow down and stand tall.
    • Good posture allows you to burn up to 50 more calories per session.
    • Standing tall also allows you to bring in more oxygen so your workout seems easier.
  2. Don't exercise while parched...sip 15-ounces of water two hours prior to workout.
    • Proper hydration gives you more energy to lift weights and firm up faster.
    • Dehydration causes faster fatigue and gives you the impression your workout is harder than it really is.
  3. Don't read whhile doing cardio machines...instead listen to music.
    • Burn 15 percent more calories this way!
    • Reading (books, magazines e-mails, texts, etc.) is so distracting you are probably workout out at too low intesity to gain significant calorie burn.
  4. Don't run if you hate it...pick a cardio routine that's fun for you.
    • Lose around 4 pounds a year!
    • If you don't enjoy an activity, you are less likely to do it (i.e., skipping a workout).
  5. Don't put all your time into cardio...swap aerobic exercise for weights 3 times per week.
    • Lose up to 12.5 pounds in a year!
    • According to a study in the Journal of Sports Medicine, those who pair aerobic and resistance training eat less (517 calories fewer per day) than those who only do aerobic training.
  6. Don't trust gym-machine calorie burn estimates...track your burn with a heart rate monitor instead.
    • This could help you lose 3 pounds this year!
    • Some machines can overestimate calorie burn by as much as 30 percent.
Follow these suggestions and kick up your routine a couple of notches!!  Be fit, be healthy and, most importantly, be happy!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kentucky Ranked 4th Fattest State

How does it make you feel when hear that our state is the fourth fattest state?  If you are like many of us in the health and wellness field, you should feel frustrated.  An article published by the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) in August 2010 reported state-specific obesity prevalence among adults in the United States for 2009.  For this report, obesity was calculated as self-reported height and body weight and defined as body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30.  BMI is a calculation of height versus weight and a healthy range is 18.5 - 24.9.

A total of 33 states had obesity prevalences of 25% or higher; nine of those states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia) had prevalences of 30% or higher.

Do you know what your BMI and body fat percentage are?  You should...and we here at PROMATx Health Club can help you calculate it.  We can schedule you for a fitness assessment with our Exercise Physiologist.  She will sit down with you and measure your risk for heart disease as well as determine your baseline level of fitness.

In the meantime, what are you doing to prevent obesity?  Here are some easy tips from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Drink more water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Limit TV watching in kids to less than 2 hours a day and don't put one in their room at all.
  • Promote policies and programs at school, at work, and in the community that make the healthy choice the easy choice.
  • Try going for a 10-minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
Better yet...come in to PROMATx Health Club and transform yourself into a better you!!  Our trainers have the resources, knowledge and experience to battle this complex problem.

Transform today!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tailgating Season is Almost Here!!

Football season is almost here.  Whether you are a college or NFL fan (or are in love with someone who is), you probably have been to at least one tailgating event or football-watching party.  As you know, those are the times of high quantities of food and drink.  Lots of dips, chips, burgers and beer.  Now that you are taking a healthier approach to life, you don't have to sacrifice your successes by bingeing at one of these events.

How can you satisfy that hunger for party food yet still control calories?  Try some variations on favorite recipes.  Here's a recipe for Sweet Potato Salad (from Fitness Magazine) which incorporates fruit and nuts in the mix:
  • 2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fat-free salad dressing or mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, blend sour cream, salad dressing or mayonnaise, and milk. Fold sour cream mixture into sweet potato mixture. Chill.

Or try White Bean and Turkey Chili (from Cooking Light Magazine):
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion (about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 1/2 cup diced seeded plum tomato (about 1)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 lime wedges (optional)
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden. Add chili powder, garlic, and cumin; sauté for 2 minutes. Add oregano and beans; cook for 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes.

Place 2 cups of bean mixture in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan. Add turkey, and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Add diced tomato, chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

You don't have to sacrifice taste for nutritional success.  If you can't bring your own food to the party, then try to scope out the veggies and fruit.  Have a burger but skip the bun.  Watch out for the chips and salsa (unless they are healthier versions) because they can pack on the calories.  As always, be careful with the alcoholic beverages...another way to pack on the calories.

Snack on and cheer on your team this fall...just do it in a healthier way!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Super Foods

Do you know what a "super food" is?  It is a powerhouse food item that is packed with nutrients to sustain a healthy body and, in some instances, prevent diseases such as certain cancers, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease.  The list is long and most, if not all, are found at your local grocery store.  Many of these foods are low in calories and easy on your wallet.

Here's a short list of super foods:
  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Greens (Kale, Mustard Greens, etc)
  • Kiwi
  • Salmon
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Yogurt
How often do you include these foods in your daily routine?  Although this is just a short list of foods, try to add a couple of super foods to each meal/snack.  Berries are a great source of antioxidants which help repair and protect cells from damage of stress and environment.  One large kiwi supplies the daily requirement for Vitamin C, plus it has potassium, fiber and Vitamin E (the only food to supply this vitamin!!). 

Although no single super food is the "be-all, end-all" cure to what ails us, you should strive to have a variety of super foods in your daily diet.  Take this short list and go shopping.  Do a little research on the internet and make a list of your favorites and those you would be willing to try.  Remember, a lot of these super foods are found on the perimeter of the grocery store, so spend a little more time there instead of wandering through the aisles looking at processed food.

Taste, eat, enjoy and be healthy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Add Color to Your Plate

Every year in March, the American Dietetic Association has a campaign called "National Nutrition Month", which is  designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.  This year's theme was "Eat Right with Color", which encouraged consumers to remember to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day.

How colorful is your plate?  Do you have a well balanced plate?  Next time you sit down for a meal, take a look at your plate.  Half of your plate should be nonstarchy vegetables (zucchini, peppers, etc.), one quarter of your plate should be lean protein (meat or meat substitute), and the other quarter should consist of starchy foods (beans, grains, rice, etc.).  Don't forget to have a side of fruit also!

Here are a few ways to enjoy more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy:
  • Mix up a breakfast smoothie with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
  • Reheat leftover whole-grain rice with chopped apples, cinnamon, and nuts.
  • Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite dip or low-fat salad dressing.
  • Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
  • Wake up to fruit.  Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or waffle.
Try it today.  Your body will thank you for filling it with nutrient-dense foods that will help you get through your day!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Heart Health

Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are our nation's No. 1 killer.  Are you at risk for developing heart disease?  Do you know what the controllable lifestyle factors are?  Check it out:
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
Here are some facts from the American Heart Association:
  • 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • On average, 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death every 39 seconds.
  • More women die of heart disease than the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.
  • More than 82 million American adults are estimated to have one or more types of cardiovascular disease.  That's one in three people!
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death among women 20 or older, killing about one woman every minute.
Where do you stand?  Are you getting enough physical activity each day?  If not, why not start today.  Try adding 10 or 15 minutes of moderate-intensity activity to your daily routine.  You don't have to come to the gym...try walking up and down your stairs at home; take the dog for a walk; dust off your bicycle and go for a bike ride with a loved one.  There are many ways to get your day active.  Think back to how our grandparents and great-grandparents lived.  No modern technology around to do everything for them.  Get off the couch, put down the remote and get active!  Your heart will thank you and so will your family.  Do it for it for those who care about you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vitamin D...Not Just for Bones!

It's widely known that Vitamin D is an important tool to build strong bones and prevent rickets.  But it also plays a role in bone growth, muscle function and immune system.  Now researchers are looking at its role in preventing muscle injury.  In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), researchers looked at New York Giants football players and found that those who suffered a muscle injury during the season had lower vitamin D levels at the start of pre-season than those who didn’t get hurt (19.9 ng/mL versus 24.7 ng/mL).  A vitamin D level less than 20 ng/mL is considered deficient; levels between 21 and 30 ng/mL are still considered insufficient.

Americans aren't getting the amount of Vitamin D that we should.  Approximately 41% of men and 53% of women are Vitamin D deficient.  What are some sources of Vitamin D other than sunshine?  Try salmon, sardines, shrimp, milk, cod, and eggs.

As mentioned, preventing muscle injury is not the only function of Vitamin D.
  • It helps to build strong bones by improving bone density.  An important factor as we age! 
  • Some research has shown that having sufficient Vitamin D levels can actually help people drop more weight than those who are deficient. 
  • A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D (less than 10 ng/mL) were 36% more likely to catch a cold than those with levels greater than 30 ng/mL.  (Good to know since cold/flu season is right around the corner!)
  • Vitamin D increases the both the size and number of fast-twitch muscle fibers which ultimately improves athletic performance.
These are only a small number of functions of Vitamin D.  Not sure if you are deficient?  Check with your doctor.  A simple blood test can reveal whether you are getting sufficient levels of Vitamin D.  With all the benefits of Vitamin D, why not take a few minutes on your next visit to discuss this with your doctor?  Until then, keep eating strong sources of Vitamin D and try to get a little sunshine every day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Should You Get Rid of Your Skinny Jeans?

Skinny jeans...yes we are talking about those skin tight, ankle-length jeans that are all the rage today.  Do you have a pair of jeans in the back of your closet or drawer that you have deemed your "skinny jeans"?  You know, the pair you wore 10 or 15 years ago when you were "skinnier"?  Do you dream of being in a pair of skinny jeans just like the actresses on television?  Maybe you even bought a pair in a size, other than your current size, just to hold onto for "motivation" to lose weight.

Did you ever wonder if skinny jeans can be detrimental?  I began to think this when I overheard a gym member talk about wanting to fit into a new pair of skinny jeans she just purchased.  She stated the jeans were 3 sizes smaller than her current size.  To give you a little background, she was approximately 10 pounds from her goal weight and approximately 3-5% from her ideal body fat percentage.  Dropping 3 pant sizes would have put her well under her ideal body weight.  I stepped in to talk to her about this and she told me she saw an ad in a magazine with the cutest pair of skinny jeans on a model.  She even had the ad taped to her refrigerator.  So I asked her to bring it in so I could see it.  This model was probably 5'11" and weighed about 115 pounds.  The member was 5'4".  Big difference, huh?

Skinny jeans in this example are detrimental to the member's body image.  She was wanting something that wasn't healthy and she was determined to obtain it.  We have all heard the warnings of media and the pressure to be "skinny".  There's only a small population of women 5'10" and taller who weigh less than 130 pounds.

Even keeping an old article of clothing because you wore it when you were skinnier can be detrimental.  What happens if you don't return to that body weight?  It can make you feel like a failure because you can't wear those jeans, regardless of the progress you've made to become healthier.  It also keeps you living in the past.  Embrace yourself today, not how you were 20 years ago.  Empower yourself to live in the present and work towards improving the current "you". 

So go through your closet and purge the items you are keeping "just in case".  Donate those clothes to someone who really needs them.  Sell them at a consignment shop to get a little extra cash in your pocket.  Take charge of your life and your health.  Be realistic and don't live in the past.  Set attainable (and healthy) goals and improve your health one step at a time.  You will build greater confidence and improve the chances of greater success.

Live on...and live healthy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Physical Activity

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidelines for physical activity.  These guidelines were subsequently supported by both the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  ACSM/AHA guidelines recommend 30 minutes of daily, moderate-intensity activity five days a week.  In a similar recommendation, HHS guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.

How much exercise are you getting on a daily basis? Unfortunately government statistics show only 31% of Americans do enough regular leisure-time physical activity.  Worse yet, approximately 40% do not have regular leisure-time physical activity.  It's time to activate your day!  Start scheduling time in your day for physical activity...don't just say "I'll try to squeeze it in today".  By scheduling appointments in your calendar for exercise, you are more likely to stick with it.

PROMATx Health Club is here to help you meet your fitness and nutrition goals.  We can help you meet (and exceed) these guidelines for physical activity.  Come in and see us today!!

Friday, August 5, 2011 hard are you working out?

Whether you just started working out or have been working out for some time now, intensity is very important.  There are a few good ways to gauge your intensity (no, the amount of sweat you produce is NOT one of them).  Old school method, which still works just fine, is by measuring heart rate during exercise.  Depending on your goals (i.e., weight loss, cardiovascular conditioning), you can train within your "Target Heart Rate Zone".  This zone is calculated based on your age, resting heart rate, and intensity you should be training. 

Here's what the formula looks like:

(((220 - age) - resting heart rate) * intensity level) + resting heart rate

For example:  a 40 year old with resting heart rate of 60, training at 65% of maximum heart rate (intensity level) --

220 - 40 = 180
180 - 60 = 120
120 * 65% = 78
78 + 60 = 138

138 is the lower end of the target heart rate zone for this person.

Another method is the "Talk Test".  During your workout, you should be able to carry on a light conversation.  If you cannot speak a sentence or two, your intensity is most likely too high.  If you can talk and talk and talk, you are probably not working out hard enough!

How can you increase the intensity during your workout?  Try grouping a few of your exercises together and repeat the sets with little rest (15-30 seconds) in between each set.  Another tip is to add a high intensity cardio move throughout your workout.  For example, jumping jacks, frog jumps, treadmill sprints and treadmill walking at a high incline (6-10%).  There should be very little rest between your exercises.  You want to recover enough to bring your heart rate down slightly but not to a full recovery.  Keeping the heart rate elevated throughout your workout will not only help with weight/fat loss but also provide a cardiovascular workout as well.

Good luck!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What habits are keeping you from your goals?

We all have habits that contribute to weight gain and stifle weight loss. Here are 10 of the biggest ones, how many of them do you suffer from?
1) Eating mindlessly. Eating while multitasking or hurrying through a meal because of little time doesn't give our brains a chance to register that we have eaten anything, leaving us with either too large of a portion size or little satisfaction that leaves us susceptible to cravings
2) Fast Food. Wether its driving through because you are too busy or too tired to cook fast food is the fastest way to pack on the pounds and destroy your weight loss attempts.
3) Eating for pleasure. Going to lunch everyday with friends or eating for any other reason than pure hunger adds extra calories fast and builds a habit that is hard to break making the number on the scale stand still.
4) Big portions of healthy food. Most of us think on some level that if it is healthy it is ok to eat a lot of. Even healthy food gets stored when we eat too much of it. Not only that but bigger portions only enhances our tolerance of big portions meaning we need bigger portions to stay satisfied... see the trend?
5) Thinking exercise will burn off a splurge. It takes an hour of intense cardio for the average person to burn 500 calories. Some restaurant salads have 1500 calories in them. That means to burn off that one meal you would have to do 3 hours of intense cardio.
6) Alcohol. Sure alcohol adds extra calories but it also is absorbed into the blood as a simple sugar meaning that your meal that you have with or after your drinks get stored as fat.
7) Bulk Buying. The more we have the more we let ourselves enjoy. Shop on a budget (even if you do not need to) and get just enough for the week to reduce snacking and portion sizes.
8) Being a "garbage disposal" The philosophy of waste no want not tends to carry over into our eating habits. Finishing what our kids don't eat is an easy way to add lots of calories that we seldom count.
9) TV snacking. When we do this portions go out the window and our brains seldom register that we have eaten anything leaving us unsatisfied and with a larger waistline.
10) Sweets after a meal. Having a sweet treat after a meal is a nasty habit that is hard to break. Often once we start we don't register that we are full until we have that sweet fix and because dessert is a sugar at the end of the day it typically is stored every time.
So what habits do you fall into? This week pick a habit that you think has the biggest effect on your weight and detox from it for a week. It will take some discipline and motivation but your weight loss will go smoothly if you make the effort.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Easy Healthy Meal Ideas

§  4 egg white omelet w/ ¼ c diced tomatoes, 1 oz reduced fat cheese, and sautéed spinach; 1 slice whole wheat bread w/ reduced-sugar jam
§  1 c low-fat cottage cheese; ½ c grapes or strawberries; ½ c Fiber One bran
§  1 whole wheat English muffin; ½ c scrambled eggs beaters; ½ grapefruit
§  1 c whole grain cereal w/ skim milk and ½ banana
§  1 whole grain English muffin w/ 1tbp natural low-fat peanut butter; 6 oz yogurt; 1 small piece of fruit
§  6-inch Subway sub on whole wheat – lots of veggies and lean meat of choice
§  Meal replacement bar- High protein, low sugar
§  Wendy’s large chili
§  4 oz sliced turkey; 1 whole wheat pita; add ½ c alfalfa spouts or spinach leaves,  tomato slice, and lite mayo
§  3 oz lean ham on 2 slice of whole grain bread; add 1 slice of fat-free swiss   cheese; 2 leaves of romaine lettuce; 1 slice of tomato and mustard
§  1 c baked whole grain pasta w/fat-free marinara; 3 oz chicken; and a side salad
§  Grilled cheese- 2 slices whole wheat bread; 1 slice low fat cheese; and 1 c veggie soup
§  4 oz baked salmon; ½ c steamed broccoli with lemon; 1 small sweet potato
§  1 whole wheat tortilla; 3 oz grilled chicken; ½ c black beans; ¼ c diced tomatoes; 1 oz mozzarella cheese; guacamole and salsa
§  1 c low fat cottage cheese; 1 c fruit
§  Grilled chicken stir fry-3 oz grilled chicken, 1 c stir-fry veggie mix cooked in 2 tsp olive oil; and 1 tbsp light soy sauce; ½ c brown rice
§  Salad- 1 c spinach, ½ c diced tomato, cucumber and carrots; 4 oz chicken and 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette- 6 whole wheat crackers
§  3 oz filet; 1 c green beans or asparagus; 1 small sweet potato
§   ½ old fashion oats; 1 scoop vanilla protein and small handful of raisins
§  ½ c old fashion oats; 1 scoop chocolate protein and 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
§  Whole wheat tortilla chip (bake tortilla and cut into pieces) topped with 3 oz seasoned ground beef, salsa, tomato, fat-free sour cream and cheese
§  ½ c scrambled egg beaters with peppers and onions stuffed in a whole wheat tortilla and a small piece of fruit

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vacation Tips

Are you afraid of gaining weight over your vacation? Most of us are. We want the freedom to enjoy ourselves, but we don't want to undo all the hard work we have put in so far. Here are some tips that will help you to find the perfect balance of enjoyment and freedom without the guilt when you come back from your vacation.
Nutritional Travel Tips
 Most of us are ok with getting in some extra movement on vacation, but we CRAVE freedom in our food choices. Remember that food is meant to be enjoyed, but it is primarily to supply energy. Find the majority of your enjoyment for the break from work, and time with your family or friends. Here are a few suggestions to help you avoid some common areas notorious for adding extra weight while on vacation.

Alcohol: Take it easy on the drinks! By all means have one to relax and enjoy yourself but these indulgences can boast anywhere between 250 up to 1,000 calories a drink! 

Meals: We all know it is nice to have a nice meal and eat what we would really like, the key is not doing this EVERY meal. Pick one meal a day or a few meals a week that will be a treat but remember that good health is a lifestyle and not a diet.

Desserts: It is ok to treat yourself. Choose your desserts wisely (meaning have what you REALLY want so you don't feel deprived) and use moderation. If a dessert is enormous share with someone else, or take it with you and save it for another day.

Traveling: It is hard to not fall into the fast food frenzy when traveling on long car trips or in airports. Road trips are a little easier to make healthy choices. Pack a cooler with sandwiches and snacks to avoid fast food. In airports pack a snack if you can but make due with the choices that are available to you.

Remember that a little each day wont spoil your weight loss attempts, but having multiple indulgences each day will have a big impact on your weight so choose wisely, use moderation, and enjoy a guilt free vacation.

Travel Workout Tips

We all like to relax but it is still important to move! Keeping up with daily exercise is VITAL to successful healthy vacationing. A week with very little activity is going to leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated when you get back. It also has a big impact on your dietary habits. Studies show that inactivity leads to poor food choices and overindulgence. Most hotels and vacation spots make fitness available by keeping equipment on hand, but in case you do not have any to your disposal or you want a change of pace, follow these tips to keep your activity level high.

Workout in your hotel with out any equipment: There are plenty of exercises that can be done using your own body as equipment. By spending 20 minutes a day doing a little strength training you can ensure that your muscles get the attention they deserve. This will enhance your energy for the rest of the day and give your level of motivation a boost.

Go for a Jog or Long Walk: This is a good way to reconnect and spend time with your spouse while getting in some activity. A long walk on the beach or anywhere outside is a good way to re-center your thoughts and calm your mind while burning a few extra calories.

Workout Without Realizing It: Your kids are smarter than you think, they are naturally playful and all that playing means burning lots of calories. So on your vacation remember to play! Play volleyball or some sort of sport with your family or friends, have races in the pool with your kids, or have a shopping day.

The key is getting the most overall activity in your day. Your caloric requirements can increase by 1,000 calories a day just by changing your activity level from sedentary to moderately active (spending 5-6 hours a day standing or walking). It takes many people two hours of working out to reach this level so get moving doing something fun all day and lose weight without even batting an eye!

Hotel Workout

Turn your hotel into a gym by trying this example workout. Remeber to always consult your physician before starting any workout program, work at your own pace, and listen to your body.

Jump Squat 2 sets of 20
(stand with feet shoulder width apart, bend at the knee with your weight in your heels- like you are sitting in a chair, squat and as you raise out of your squat jump in the air. Land and repeat) 

Push Up 2 sets of as many as you can do
 (either on the floor- challenging, leaning on a table - moderate or against a wall- easy place feet together on the floor back stiff and hand under the shoulders. Lower to the surface you are braced against and push yourself up.)

Wide Jumping Jacks 2 sets of 20
(start standing with feet together and hands at your sides. Jump moving your feet out wide and bend at the knee lowering your body in to a squat position. Simultaneously bring hands up over your head like when making snow angels. Jump back to starting position)

Dips 2 sets of as many as you can do
(find a low table, chair, or bed. Face away from the object and place your hands facing towards you on the object under your shoulders. Place your feet heels down or flat foot away from the object. Bend at the elbow and lower yourself down until your elbows reach a 90 degree angle. Using your triceps push yourself back up to the starting position)

Plank 2 sets of holding as long as you can
Lay on the floor face down. Position elbows under your shoulders, place your toes on the floor and push yourself up so your weight in on your elbows and your toes. Keep your back flat and be sure that your hips are in line with your back- not sagging or elevated too much. Maintain this position as long as your can.

Follow these exercises and work all your major muscle groups for a quick strength training routine that can be done anywhere.