Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Don't Like the Taste of Water - Do You?

As trainers, we hear clients say "I don't like the taste of water".  What??  Water is essential to life and as we previously discussed in the blog about water and weight loss, it just may be the key to your weight loss.  So why aren't you drinking enough water?  Believe us, we have heard every excuse in the book from "I'm not that thirsty" to "I don't like the taste of water".  Maybe you just haven't found the right way to drink it!

After briefly polling members and trainers in the gym, many people mentioned different ways they like to drink their water.  Some people like their water ice cold, while others prefer it to be room temperature.  Some prefer to add a few slices of oranges or lemons to add flavor; a few prefer to drink out of a container with a straw.  The key to increasing your daily water consumption is to find the way in which water entices you the most.  What works for others may not work for you. 

Your mission is to try different cups or containers and different temperatures of water every day for one week.  Try an insulated cup one day to keep your water colder longer.  The next day add slices of fruit or cucumbers for a different flavor.  Then try drinking it out of plastic bottle.  Believe it or not, there are a few people who do not like to drink out of a plastic bottle because they feel it changes the taste.  Purchase or borrow a resealable glass bottle and try your water that way.  This list is endless but the main goal is to try different ways and see which method works for you.  For those of you who like to keep record of things, make a daily log that shows not only HOW you drank your water but also HOW MUCH water you consumed.  You may see a big difference!

Who ever thought drinking water was so complicated??  It shouldn't be but you'll just have to do a little work to get started.  Once you find the method that works for you, start building your water intake a little at a time.  Theoretically you should be drinking half of your body weight of ounces of water.  For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking approximately 75 ounces of water a day.  That's around 4 1/2 small bottles (16.9 ounces) of water.  If that seems overwhelming, just start with smaller quantities and build up from there.

Remember, the signs of dehydration are immediate and many times we mistake hunger for signs of thirst.  So the next time you feel that hunger pang, try having a glass or two of water.  If you no longer are hungry, you most likely were just thirsty.  

Need more help getting started?  Stop in at PROMATx Health Club and talk with our nutrition specialist.  We can point you in the right direction and help keep your body adequately hydrated.

"Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody."  --Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top 8 Most Artery-Clogging Cities

In a recent blog posted by Prevention magazine, the editors scoured through data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data on obesity and heart disease in major metropolitan areas (populations over 200,000).  They compiled a list of 8 cities and deemed them the "most artery-clogging cities".  Here's what they found....
  1. Detroit, MI - According to CDC data, Detroit residents have more report heart disease diagnoses than any other big city in the nation!!  Also, Detroit has an obesity rate of 33% (the state of Michigan's obesity rate is 30.9%).
  2. Fort Wayne, IN - Previously listed as number 4 of the top 5 cities with the most obesity (American Obesity Association, 2001), Fort Wayne has a lot of room for growth to fight obesity and heart disease.
  3. Lubbock, TX - Steakhouses and barbecue joints help to promote the 32% obesity rate among this Texas town.
  4. New Orleans, LA - Nothing better than deep fried anything, right?  Southern fried foods are keeping New Orleans on the list despite the fact that more than 25% of the city is parkland (one of the highest percentages in any U.S. city according to Prevention).
  5. Dallas, TX - According to Sandelman and Associates, a restaurant industry consultancy, Dallas residents consume fast food an average of 20.7 times per month (the national average is 17).
  6. Baton Rouge, LA -  In Gallup polling, less than half of Baton Rouge residents report exercising frequently.  Combine that with fat-laden Creole and Cajun foods, residents here don't seem to have problems clogging their arteries!
  7. Tulsa, OK - Apparently residents of Tulsa are not fans of walking.  According to Walk Score, an organization which promotes pedestrian-friendly communities, only 6% of Tulsa residents live in a neighborhood with a walk score of 70 or above (100 being best) and 57% live in entirely car-dependent locales.
  8. Louisville, KY - Uh oh...did we just mention Kentucky??  Louisville contains more McDonald's restaurants per capita (39) than any city in the country, according to a Daily Beast/Newsweek report, plus 20 Arby's, 17 Dairy Queens and 19 Papa John's.  Aside from their ranking, Louisville was listed on the top 25 cities by Bicycling magazine as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation.
Even though some of these cities have access to walking and biking paths, parks, and healthy farmer's markets and community gardens, residents still choose unhealthy lifestyles.  Americans need to start making healthier choices.  Let's not be another statistic.  Choose happy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Low-Impact Workouts and Baby Boomers

Walk into any gym or health club and you'll see a good population of baby boomers exercising.  Our life expectancy in the United States is 78.1 years, according to the World Bank in 2009.  People are living longer due to better health care and the fact that many boomers are hitting the gym.  Theoretically you are never too old to start an exercise program.  Obviously the earlier in life you start the better off you'll be, however considerable strength gains can be seen in people over the age of 80 with consistent exercise routines. 

A fairly recent ARTICLE in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that older people have to work out more than younger people to maintain muscle mass.  However, workouts can be tough if you fall into that age group (ages 60-75, in the study) especially since your joints are more often susceptible to injury.  What can you do?  Where do you start if you are a boomer?

If you are a beginner, remember to start slower (i.e., 5-10 minutes) and work up to a minimum of 20 minutes every day.  Once you reach a consistent schedule of 20 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, increase your intensity.  Here are some ideas of low impact workouts that will be easy on your joints, yet help you reach recommended activity levels.
  1. Walking - Almost everyone can do this activity.  The cost is fairly low (the price of a good pair of walking shoes) and it can be performed in almost any location!  We're not just talking about taking a stroll through the neighborhood.  You'll need to kick it up a notch once you are comfortable with walking for exercise.  Try walking in a hilly area or increase your speed for short distances during your walk (i.e. intervals).  No good walking paths in your area?  Hit the mall.  You can window shop, people watch, and increase your physical activity all at the same time!
  2. Rowing - Are you an outdoorsy person?  Do you have access to a lake?  Rent a kayak and paddle away your stress.  Not ready to hit the open water?  Most health clubs have a rowing machine so you can get a similar workout with the fear of falling in the water.  A 160-pound person can burn approximately 180 calories rowing at a moderate intensity for 20 minutes.
  3. Body Weight Exercises - Lifting your own body weight, in most cases, can be an excellent workout.  Start simple with push-ups on the wall or at an angle (i.e, against the kitchen counter) then work your way down to the floor.  Take a yoga or pilates class where you use your own body as resistance.
  4. Swimming - This is the best form of non-impact exercise.  If you are battling a chronic injury that makes it difficult to walk or stand, try your hand at swimming.  Take a swimming lesson at your local pool to refresh (or learn) strokes.  A 160-pound person can burn approximately 150 calories swimming for 20 minutes.
  5. Weight Training - Here is a great way to burn calories and build strength at the same time.  Start simple by using machines at the gym, then progress to some free weight (i.e., dumbbells) exercises.  Form is important so get some expert advice from a trained exercise professional.
  6. Water Exercises - Ready to take a stab at water-based exercise classes?  Check out the schedule at your local pool and jump in!  You can burn at least 100 calories performing basic water exercises...increase your intensity and you'll burn even more!  Most people can do more exercises in the water than they can do on land.  Running and jumping in water versus on land is much easier on the joints.
  7. Group Exercise Classes - Want to build strength and endurance and build camaraderie all at the same time?  Try a group exercise class that is geared towards low-impact movements.  Some classes have a mixture of strength and cardio moves while others, like Zumba, focus more on improving endurance.  (Check out the group fitness schedule here at PROMATx by clicking HERE.)
  8. Cardio Equipment - Some cardio equipment, like bicycles, rowing machines, and elliptical/arc trainers, allow for low-impact moves.  Not sure which machine you can handle for 20 minutes or more?  Add a mixture of machines...cycle for 5-10 minutes, row for 5-10 minutes, then climb on the arc trainer.  This will reduce your boredom and vary the muscles used during the exercises.
  9. Circuit Training - Put together a group of exercises and perform them repeatedly one right after the other.  This can be a combination of strength and cardio moves or just one or the other.  Adding a variety of sit-to-stand exercises will build stamina and replicates daily activities making it more "functional".  By performing the circuit as quickly as you can (with proper form), you'll increase your heart rate and burn more calories throughout the workout.  A 160-pound person can burn approximately 200 calories in 20 minutes of circuit training.
Hopefully, this short list will give you some ideas of exercises you can do, while still keeping it easy on your joints.  Just remember, if you are a true beginner or if it has been an extended time since you've exercised on a regular basis, check with your healthcare practitioner first before starting an exercise program.  Once you have been cleared for exercise, contact a fitness professional, such as the trainers here at PROMATx Health Club, for expert advice on creating your exercise routine.

Don't let age be a reason why you are not exercising.  It's never too late to start.  Not only will you improve your health status but you will also be reducing your chance for injuries.  Do it it for your health...but most importantly, do it for yourself!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving Day

It's almost upon us...the feast some of us have been waiting for all year.  With one day left before Thanksgiving, it's time to make a plan for how you will handle tomorrow's events.  A little planning and a little effort will help you get through this holiday and still maintain a little health and fitness sanity.
  1. Eat a healthy breakfast.  In a previous BLOG, we talked about the importance of breakfast.  It sets the tone for your eating habits the rest of the day.  So start your Thanksgiving morning with a healthy dose of protein to stave off hunger early in the day.  This will lower your chances of overeating because you are "starving".
  2. Snack wisely.  Going to a friend's or family member's home for the big meal?  Watch out for the appetizers that may be laden with fat and calories.  Indulge on a couple of the tasty appetizers but do so sparingly.  Munch on fresh fruits and veggies instead.  
  3. Watch the "empty calories" in alcoholic drinks.  While it is OK to imbibe a holiday drink to toast family and friends, be sure to add low- or no-calorie, non-alcoholic drinks in between drinks.  Have a glass of sparkling water with fresh fruit.
  4. Have a balanced plate during dinner.  Put smaller plates on the dinner table this year.  If you don't have control over which plate you use, don't fill your whole plate with food.  Divide your plate in thirds...1/3 of your plate should have lean protein (i.e., turkey breast) and the remaining 2/3 should have whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  
  5. Eat slowly and enjoy pleasant conversation.  It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it is full.  So slow down while eating your Thanksgiving meal and converse with friends and family.  It's not a race to see who can eat the most or eat the fastest.  Take time to enjoy and savor the food.
  6. Wait on (but don't skip) dessert.  Instead of having that slice of pie right after your meal, save it for later.  You'll enjoy it more when you are not already full from your meal.
  7. Add activity to your holiday.  Many cities (Lexington especially) have a road race or charity event on Thanksgiving morning.  Get into the holiday spirit and join fellow community members for a pre-Thanksgiving holiday calorie burn.  Don't feel like getting up early to do this?  Go for a walk with family members (or your favorite four-legged friend) or get the family together for friendly game of football or basketball. 
  8. Be realistic during Thanksgiving.  Let's face it, some of us will overeat during this holiday.  Don't beat yourself up and think you can't "come back" from this set-back.  The important thing to remember is to get back to your regular routine the next day.  One day of splurge won't ruin your health and fitness goals!
  9. Learn to say "no" this year.  Just because your favorite Aunt brought her butter-laden, high-calorie casserole to the dinner table, doesn't mean you have to eat it.  Thank her graciously and choose wisely!!
  10. Remember what Thanksgiving really means.  Thanksgiving isn't about the's about being thankful.  Be thankful for loved ones, past and present.  Show your appreciation for those who may have helped you through difficult times this year.  Create an atmosphere of fun, love, and camaraderie this holiday season.  Enjoy time with friends and family either in person or over the phone.
We hope these tips will help you to have an enjoyable and healthy Thanksgiving this year.  Take a moment to think about what you are thankful for in your life.  Be happy, be wise, be active...but most of all, be healthy!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How S.M.A.R.T. Are Your Goals?

We all know when it comes to improving our health and fitness, setting goals is a necessary process.  But are your goals effective?  Are they helping you achieve success?  Or could they actually be hurting your progress?

The acronym S.M.A.R.T. has long been used by psychologists to help individuals remember important characteristics of engaging in behaviors through goal setting, focusing on the overall process and outcome of a desired activity.  Take a few minutes and use the S.M.A.R.T. method to see how your goals are measuring up!

Specific goals provide enough detail to identify the action required to accomplish the goal.  Good example:  To eat at least three servings of vegetables a day.  Bad example: To be healthier.

Measurable goals identify what tasks are to be accomplished and when they have been reached.  Good example:  To lose 15 lbs by February 1st.  Bad example:  To lose weight.

Attainable goals focus on activity that will produce results.  Good example:  To walk three times per week for 10 minutes.  Bad example: To get into shape.

Realistic goals refer to the practicality of reaching desired outcomes.  Good example:  To walk for 30 minutes at lunchtime.  Bad example:  To run 20 miles a day.

Time-Anchored goals enable individuals to monitor progress at regular intervals.  Good example:  To lift weights 2 times a week for a month.  Bad example:  To lift weights 2 times a week. 

Hopefully your goals are S.M.A.R.T. ones!  If not, take the time to re-evaluate them and make them more effective.  Remember our PROMATx trainers are always available to help you set and reach your health and fitness goals!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Exercise and Pregnancy...A Little Motivational Note

Today's blog is brought to you from one of our trainers, Carol Brown.  In addition to being a member of the PROMATx team, Carol has 3 beautiful daughters and is expecting another child early next year.  

Pregnancy is exciting, challenging, an emotional rollercoaster… I can sit here all day and find many adjectives for one of the most exciting experiences that a woman’s body goes through in life.

With all the challenges of being pregnant, one thing women think of the least is exercising while going through those challenges.  Medical professionals have become more and more aware of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy and more women are taking advantage of that knowledge.

The most common problems we encounter that keep us from exercising during pregnancy are sickness, the lack of energy and lack of motivation.  I’ve had 3 kids and am pregnant with my 4th.  My goal in writing this is to motivate those who are expecting, planning to be pregnant or just delivered to take this journey with an open mind on your expectations of fitness and all the obstacles you will encounter.  Exercising will be less challenging and more beneficial if you keep the expectations low but the habit of exercising constant.

The best approach I encounter is to make sure I move my body a little every day, even if very slow!  Not expecting to perform a certain amount every day, but instead, listening to my body gives me the liberty to not feel guilty if I don’t do much that day.  It also gives me the benefit of feeling good for doing something at all, even if I’m nauseated, stressed, depressed or just plain exhausted!  So keeping my eye on the prize (my precious children) and my body in moving gear gives me that little extra energy to be a better mom, wife, and a better me for making time to keep my body and mind healthy.

"For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:10)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Go Red for Women

Today in Central Kentucky, we celebrate "Go Red For Women" with the American Heart Association (AHA).   In a previous blog, HEART HEALTH, we talked about a little about heart disease and which lifestyle factors contribute to heart disease in everyone.  Today, we will focus strictly on the ladies.  According to the AHA, more women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.  Unfortunately 80% of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking.

Let's look at some staggering statistics for women and heart disease:
  • 8 million women in the US are currently living with heart disease; 35,000 are under age of 65. Four million suffer from angina.
  • 435,000 American women have heart attacks annually; 83,000 are under age 65; 35,000 are under 55. The average: 70.4.
  • 42% of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24% of men.
  • Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
  • 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks, which kill six times as many women as breast cancer. Another 31,837 women die each year of congestive heart failure, representing 62.6% of all heart failure deaths.
What exactly is a heart attack?  A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked.  When this happens the heart doesn't receive the oxygen it needs and part of the heart and the affected blood vessel(s) can die.  Although the symptoms of a heart attack are the same in women and men (chest pain and discomfort), women often feel some of the other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back/jaw pain.  Ladies, if you experience any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Getty Images
  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
So why do women delay getting medical attention for heart attacks more than men?  There are several reasons including: 
  • Many times they don't know the heart attack warning signs and symptoms
  • They mistakenly think "crushing chest pain" is the only heart attack symptom
  • They falsely believe that only men and very old people have heart attacks
  • They are pre-occupied with family responsibilities, can't get childcare or transportation, or don't want to impose their needs on others
  • They are depressed, fatalistic about their health, or resigned to suffering
Now that we know the depressing, dark facts about heart disease in women, let's take a stand against this disease.  What are you waiting for...a ride to the hospital?  Get off the couch, put down the fast food, and get healthy!  If you don't take care of yourself first, it will be difficult for you to take care of your family.  This is a plea to everyone who has a woman in their life they care to her and tell her how much she means to you and how much you want her to live a full, happy, and healthy life.  Take a stand against heart disease. 

For more information on heart disease, visit the American Heart Association's website.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Can I Strengthen My Knees?

The knee is a complicated joint and is a commonly injured area of the body.  The knees bear about 80% of our body weight when standing...that's a lot of pressure!  Because of the wear and tear on our knees from every day activities to sporting events and exercise, there are over 500,000 total knee replacement (TKR) surgeries performed every year (according to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons).  It's also projected that by the year 2030, that number will increase to over 3.48 million due to increased obesity rates and aging baby boomers.  Approximately 12% of people over the age of 60 experience symptoms of knee osteoarthritis and 94% of patients undergoing TKR do so because of osteoarthritis.

Is there anything we can do to protect our knees and prevent the need for TKR?  Let's first look at the structure of the knee joint.  This picture shows the basic structure of the knee joint including the quadriceps (thigh) muscle and the bones of the shin or lower leg.  All of these muscles, ligaments and tendons help to keep the knee stable and strong so it can withstand the pressure of standing, walking, and climbing.  Unfortunately, there are many areas that can be injured, whether acutely (i.e., trip and fall) or chronically (i.e., osteoarthritis).  While it is not possible to strengthen the knee joint itself, it is possible to strengthen and stretch the surrounding muscles.

Let's look at five areas you can strengthen to keep your knees stable and strong.  First, the knee joint is surrounded by:
  1. Quadriceps muscles - large muscle group on the front of the thigh running from the front of the hip to the top of the knee.
  2. Hamstring muscles - large muscle group on the back of the thigh running from the back of the hip to the back of the knee.
  3. Calf muscles - two muscles that encompass the back of the lower leg, running from the back of the knee down to the Achilles or heel.
  4. Iliotibial (IT) Band - large band of connective tissue running from the outside of the hip down to the outside of the knee.
It is important to strengthen and stretch those areas in addition to the hip, since some of the above structures cross the hip joint also.  Here are five exercises you can do to improve the strength of these muscles and connective tissue.  Click on each link to be taken to American College on Exercise (ACE) website for video instructions.
Although performing these exercises will not prevent you from EVER experiencing knee pain or problems, it will help you to prevent future injuries to the knee joint.  Take care of your knees and you will be able to maintain an active lifestyle.  Eat right and maintain a healthy body weight to keep additional pressure off of your knees.  Wear proper shoes (click HERE to read a previous blog on shoes) for your activity and replace them often to maintain appropriate support.

Still need help with knee pain?  Be sure to talk with your healthcare practitioner to find out the underlying cause of the pain, then talk to a trainer at PROMATx Health Club and see how you can strengthen your knees and prevent future injuries.

"I'm fine, and my hips are fine.  My false knee is fine.  My false hips are fine.  Everything's cooking."  
- Liza Minnelli

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Calorie Blowout!!!

Thanksgiving is almost upon us.  In typical American fashion, we have outdone ourselves and have made a seemingly simple, healthy meal into a fat-laden, overindulging feast!  If you check on the internet for the calorie content of a typical American Thanksgiving meal, you'll find numbers ranging from 2,200 to over 4,500!  Remember, one pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories.  Most people have a daily calorie requirement of 1,700 to 2,100.

Depending on what part of the country you reside (or were raised) and depending on your ethnic background, the contents of the Thanksgiving meal differ.  A "typical" meal can consist of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes/yams, cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls and salad.  Dessert typically is comprised of pecan, pumpkin and/or apple pie, cheesecake, and, of course, whipped topping.  Drinks range from champagne, wine, and egg nog to sodas and sparkling cider.  Do your pants feel a little tighter just reading that menu??  On top of all of that food, we very rarely have only one-serving of many of these items.  After all, most of us have the day off and for some, it's the only time we get to see our extended family.  Why not celebrate and indulge?

Food is a common way to celebrate.  We have cake and ice cream during birthday celebrations; there's candy and sweets for Valentine's day and Halloween; we hit the barbecue for July 4th, Labor day and Memorial day.  Why shouldn't we have a feast at Thanksgiving?  There's nothing wrong with using food for celebration as long as it is used wisely.  Take a look at your dinner plate and 2/3 of it should have fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  The remaining 1/3 should have lean protein.  You still can enjoy all the foods that family members bring to the Thanksgiving table...just remember proportion and moderation!

Here's an example of a Thanksgiving dinner makeover that will save you calories and inches...

Instead of this....

8 oz champagne                                                              170
6 oz turkey, white & dark meat w/ skin                            345
1/4 cup gravy                                                                   30
1 cup standard stuffing                                                    500
2 candied sweet potatoes                                                 285
1 cup buttered, steamed green beans                                 70
2 rolls, buttered                                                               240
1/4 cup canned cranberry sauce                                        105
1 slice pecan pie, with whipped topping                             520
TOTAL CALORIES                                                          2265

Have this....

4 oz champagne                                                                85
6 oz turkey, white meat, no skin                                      230
1/4 cup low-fat gravy                                                        20
1 cup low-fat stuffing                                                       125
I cup acorn squash                                                           115
1 cup steamed green beans                                                35
2 rolls                                                                              170
1/4 cup low-sugar cranberry sauce                                      85
1 slice pumpkin pie                                                          175
TOTAL CALORIES                                                           1040

We know that very few people will have a 400-calorie meal on Thanksgiving but make wise choices this year.  Keep the holiday simple and stress-free for a change.  Remember what Thanksgiving is about and give thanks for the people and things that are important in your life.  Cherish time with family and friends, enjoy time away from work (if possible), and be healthy and happy!

From the PROMATx Health Club family...happy (early) Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Holiday Prescription

In 2010, there were over 3.7 billion prescriptions filled in the United States and Americans spent around $307 billion on prescription medication.  We have a new prescription for you.  This prescription should be filled immediately and you will be allowed monthly refills.  What is it for?  This is your "2011 Holiday Rx".  The staff and trainers at PROMATx Health Club want you to have a healthy, happy, and reasonably stress-free holiday season this year.

Here's how it works.  During this holiday season we would like for you to "fill" this prescription and follow the instructions clearly and completely.  Right click on the prescription at the end of this blog and choose "Save Image As"; save the prescription to your computer.  Print a copy of the prescription; better yet, print many copies!  Place the prescription in your office, in your car, by your bed, next to your computer, and in your kitchen.  Follow the directions carefully and you should see results in less than 24 hours.  Skipping any of the "medications" can be harmful to your sanity this holiday season.  However, feel free to double-up on any missed or skipped doses.

While this prescription does not replace any of your current prescriptions, it can be taken with any and all medications.  Possible side effects include, but are not limited to, reduced weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, reduced stress levels, improved mood, increased energy, and better sleep habits.  Talk to your trainer or exercise partner if you experience any of these symptoms.  Don't be alarmed if your trainer or exercise partner gives you a "high five".

Don't wait any longer.  Fill this prescription today and start feeling better tomorrow.  Your body and mind will thank you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Required Nutrition Through Diet Alone

Is it possible to get all the required vitamins and minerals through diet alone?  Depending on who you ask that question to, the jury is still out.  Nutritionists believe it is possible to obtain all the necessary vitamins (with the exception of vitamin D) and minerals through food items.  Naturalists, however, feel that due to over-farming the soil and over-processing foods it is NOT possible.

Since percent daily values (as seen on food labels) are typically based on 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diets, some people feel it is almost impossible to consume nutrient-dense foods on a reduced calorie diet.  According to an article in the July 2009 issue of the Harvard Women's Health Watch journal, the question was raised if it was possible to meet nutritional needs based on diet alone, even on a reduced-calorie diet.  In this ARTICLE,  two nutritional experts (a clinical dietician and a nutritional educator) were called into action.  They looked at a reduced-calorie diet of 1,200 calories for women in the age group 51-70 (i.e., post-menopausal women) and found that by consuming nutrient-dense foods, such as nuts/seeds, salmon, and dark green, leafy vegetables, it was possible to consume all required amounts of vitamins (with the exception of vitamin D) and minerals on a daily basis.

Many nutritional experts believe multivitamins are only necessary in certain situations, such as those battling diseases like cancer or those with malabsorption problems.  Too often we default to supplementation with non-food items (i.e., multivitamins) when we should be taking a closer look at our daily diet.  We should be choosing nutrient-dense foods, which are packed with vitamins and minerals and contain relatively low calories.  Here is a short-list of nutrient-dense foods:
  • Avocados
  • Chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mushrooms (crimini and shiitake)
  • Baked potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cantaloupe, papaya, raspberries, strawberries
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower)
  • Dried beans (garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto)
  • Lentils, peas
  • Almonds, cashews, peanuts
  • Barley, oats, quinoa, brown rice
  • Salmon, halibut, cod, scallops, shrimp, tuna
  • Lean beef, lamb, venison
  • Chicken, turkey
With a little patience and planning, you can have healthy, well-rounded meals that won't break your wallet at the grocery store.  Some of the items listed above are inexpensive when compared to the cost of a drive-thru meal.  Many of the items can be purchased in bulk quantities also.  Remember, it's not all about the quantity of food you eat, but more about the quality of food.

Not sure where to start?  Utilize the internet for tools to estimate your caloric need based on age, gender and activity levels.  Then seek out reputable sources of calorie contents of different food items.  There are also plenty of tools to track your daily calorie intake.  Still need more help?  Make an appointment with our nutritional specialist here at PROMATx Health Club and learn more about your current diet and how you can obtain the required nutrients through diet alone.

"Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food."  --Hippocrates

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thump-Thump...Thump-Thump...Is That Your Heartbeat I Hear?

We've talked about how to gauge intensity during your workouts (click HERE to re-read that blog) but let's take a step back and look at how to take your heart rate or pulse.  Club owner and Personal Training Director, Brad Covington, takes us through the steps of how to determine your heart rate.

First of all, what is your "pulse"?  Your pulse is your heart rate or the number of times your heart beats in one minute.  Pulse rates vary from person to person; some slower than others.  Your pulse is lower when you are at rest and increases when you exercise.  During physical activity the body requires more oxygen-rich blood so breathing increases and heart rate increases.  Knowing how to take your pulse can help you evaluate your exercise program.

Here's how to take your pulse:
  1. Place the tips of your index, second and the third fingers on the palm side of your wrist below the base of the thumb.  Or you can place the tips of your index and second fingers on your lower neck on either side of your windpipe.
  2. Press lightly with your fingers until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers.  You may need to move your fingers around slightly up or down until you feel the pulsing. 
  3. Use a watch or clock with a second hand .
  4. Count the number of beats you feel in 10 seconds and multiply the number by six to get your heart rate per minute.
Count your pulse:__________ beats in 10 seconds x 6 =___________beats/minute.

You've mastered those steps so now what?  What is a "normal" pulse?  Normal, average heart rates vary by age:
  • Ages 6-17:  70-100 beats per minute
  • Ages 18 and over:  60-85 beats per minute
Is your pulse in that range?  If so, are "normal".  If your pulse is lower than the normal range, even better.  That means your heart doesn't have to work as hard at rest to pump the same amount of blood as during exercise.  If your number is higher than the range listed above, you should consider adding more physical activity into your daily routine.  High resting heart rates (85 beats per minute and above) put undue stress on the heart and blood vessels.  You may experience symptoms such as a "racing" heart beat, pounding in your ears, heavy "thumping" in your chest.

How high should your heart rate go during exercise?  By using the "age-predicted" maximum heart rate formula, you can determine the maximum for your age.  Essentially, it is 220-your age.  For example, a 40-year old person has a maximum heart rate of 180 beats per minute (220-40 = 180).  From here you can calculate your target heart rate zone as discussed in our "Intensity...How Hard Are You Working Out" blog entry.

Finally, here are some thoughts about heart rate and training:
  1. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.  Every exercise program should be taken into account with safety first and foremost.
  2. You gain the most benefits and lessen the risks when you exercise in your target heart rate zone.  Usually this is when your exercise heart rate is 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.  It is not advised to exercise greater than 85% of maximal heart rate.  Intensity at that level  increases both  cardiovascular and orthopedic risk with minimal additional health-related benefits from the exercise.
  3. When beginning an exercise program, you may need to gradually build up to a level that is within your target heart rate zone, especially if you have not exercised regularly before.  If the exercise feels too hard, slow down and build up your cardiovascular endurance.  You will reduce your risk of injury and enjoy the exercise more if your do not try to over-do it!
Now you are armed with valuable information for your exercise routine.  Whether you work with a trainer or on your own, you should take into consideration your resting heart rate and your target heart rate zone.  Try taking your heart rate at different times of the day and see how it fluctuates with stress levels and physical activity or rest.  To obtain the most accurate resting heart rate, someone would need to take your heart rate while you are sleeping.  Since that's not feasible, take it as soon as you wake up but before you get out of bed (as long as you were not "startled" upon wakening by a loud noise or another person).  This will most accurately represent your resting heart rate.

Feel the beats...take your pulse...apply it to your exercise routines.  You'll see a decrease in your resting heart rate over time as you add more consistent physical activity into your day.  Thump away, beating heart, thump away!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are You an Overeater?

Are you an overeater?  If so, do you know why?  Well, it may have started in your brain.  Daniel Amen, M.D., one of the world's most well-known neuropsychiatrists, has recently come out with provocative new research linking eating habits to the efficiency of our frontal lobe in the brain.  Your frontal lobe is responsible for higher reasoning and logic and, because of this, Amen argues that it plays a vital role in the ability to make good food choices.  While conducting a research study linking depression and anxiety with the frontal lobe, he observed a connection with obesity.  He noticed as his subjects began implementing at-home therapeutic strategies, they not only experienced less depression and anxiety, but lost between ten and thirty pounds over 12-weeks without conscious effort.  Amen has noticed that neurological scans showed the size and the function of the brain diminishes as BMI (body mass index) is raised.  Based on this research it shows how important it is to keep our weight in a healthy range to also keep our brain healthy.

Dr. Daniel Amen
Based on his findings, Amen discusses five types of brain patterns that affect eating habits:  compulsive overeater, impulsive overeater, impulsive-compulsive overeater, sad or emotional overeater, and anxious overeater.  Here are brief descriptions of each.
  1. Compulsive Overeater - Dwells on food that "calls their name" and feels compulsively driven to eat.  Research links this type of behavior with too much activity on the front of the brain which allows the brain to shift gears and is generally coupled with low serotonin levels.  Exercise can help boost serotonin levels in the brain.
  2. Impulsive Overeater - Tends to have poor impulse control and is easily distracted.  This type of overeater tends to have low activity in the area of the brain that acts as the "brake" and typically has low levels of dopamine.  A high-protein, low-carb diet in conjuction with exercise has been shown to help the impulsive overeater.
  3. Impulsive-Compulsive Overeater - Compelled to eat, typically dwells on negative thoughts, and has little control over their impulses.  Increasing both dopamine and serotonin levels through exercise and drinking green tea have been shown beneficial.
  4. Sad or Emotional Overeater - Tends to overeat to medicate feelings.  This type of overeater typically struggles with depression, low self-esteem, low energy, and pain symptoms.  Exercise will help, as well as a diet rich in vitamin D and fish oils.
  5. Anxious Overeater - Medicates anxiety or nervousness with food and is known to have low levels of GABA (an important neurotransmitter in the brain).  While medication can help lower anxiety levels, a diet high in B vitamins and magnesium also helps this type of overeater.
See anything familiar?  Most anyone who struggles with their weight can find themselves in one or more of these categories.  If weight is a struggle for you, it might be more of a question of "how strong is your willpower".  Exercise can help your brain to choose healthier foods and create less of a battle in your head. 

Still unsure of which category you may be in and how to "fix it"? Come in to PROMATx Health Club and talk with our nutrition specialist.  It may not be your actions but how you are "wired"!  Learn how to "re-wire" your brain today!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

November is American Diabetes Month

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 25.8 million children and adults in the United States, which equates to 8.3% of the population, have diabetes.  This is up from 23.6 million (or 7.8%) in 2010.    Last year there were 1.9 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in people aged 20 years or older.  These numbers don't include the 79 million people classified as "prediabetes".  In 2007, the total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. was $174 billion.  Of that number, $116 billion was for direct medial costs and the remaining $58 billion accounted for indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality).  After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.  Those are staggering statistics and they just keep getting worse on a yearly basis. 

What exactly is diabetes?  Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or more commonly known as diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin.  There are 3 types of diabetes:  (1) Type 1, (2) Type 2, and (3) GestationalType 1 diabetes was previously known as "juvenile diabetes" because it is frequently diagnosed in children and young adults.  This form of diabetes requires external sources of insulin (i.e., injections, insulin pump) because the body does not produce insulin.  Surprisingly, only 5% of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 1.  Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes.  This was previously termed "adult-onset diabetes" because it was commonly diagnosed later in life.  In type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or the body doesn't recognize the presence of insulin in the bloodstream.  People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes typically are overweight and/or obese, have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Due to the growing epidemic of obesity in American children and adults, type 2 diabetes is no longer considered "adult-onset"; many children who are overweight are developing type 2 diabetes.  Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy.  Based on recently announced diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes, it is estimated that gestational diabetes affects 18% of pregnancies.

Complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy (nervous system disease), and amputation.  What is your risk for developing type 2 diabetes?  Here is a list of those who at higher risk:
  • People with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and/or impaired fasting glucose (IGF)
  • People over age 45
  • People with a family history of diabetes
  • People who are overweight
  • Peole who do not exercise regularly
  • People with low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), high trigylcerides, or high blood pressure
  • Certain racial and ethinic groups such as Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives
  • Women who had gestational diabetes, or who have had a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth
You can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle.  Change your diet, increase your level of physical activity, maintain a healthy weight...with these positive steps, you can stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of diabetes.  All of the prevention tips are here at PROMATx Health Club!  Already diagnosed with some form of diabetes?  Exercise can help!!  Come in and talk with one of our trainers and our nutrition specialist and set up a plan to control diabetes.  Your family and friends want you to live a long, healthy life!!

Want more info?  Click HERE to go to the American Diabetes Association website.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Music As a Motivator

Remember the days when you used to make a mix tape for the person you cared about the most?  OK, so maybe I just aged myself a bit but music is powerful.  It can be a motivating force, it can calm you during stressful times, it can block out unwanted noise, it can even help you lower your blood pressure.  Music is powerful and it's time to use that to your advantage.

Most people have some sort of MP3 player or smart phone that has an "APP" like Pandora or iHeart Radio.  If you have the ability to make a "play list", you'll have one of the most powerful motivators at your fingertips.  Think about the songs that motivate you...the ones that make you get up and dance or the ones that calm your mind and help you focus on the task at hand.  Not everyone likes to workout to head-pounding, club-thumping beats.  For some, it's the calm, tranquil music that helps them to clear their mind and focus on breathing during exercise.  

In fact, back in 2007, the organizers of the New York Marathon banned the use of headphones/music in the race.  In their eyes it was a matter of safety...the runners wouldn't be able to hear if something was happening around them.  Many runners, however, risked disqualification and competed with their music.  What a powerful statement!  Music was more important to the success of some runners.

Michael Phelps preparing for competition
What exactly does music do to people during exercise?  Surprisingly enough, there is much research on this topic.  During lower intensity exercise, music can divert the mind from the fatigue a person is feeling.  As mentioned before, music can be used to "psych up" or "psych down" an athlete before competition.  Music that is synchronized to the activity (i.e., finding music where the beat matches running pace) has been known to increase efficiency and prolong performance.

Whatever the reason is you utilize music during your exercise is up to you.  Even though there is a whole science behind choosing the appropriate music and tempo for each type of activity, choose what motivates you the most.  The next time you are listening to your radio, iPod, or streaming music, jot down the songs that are "catchy".  Make a list of those songs/artists and create your own playlist.  Upload that playlist into your device and bring it with you during your next workout.  Not sure what songs to use?  Check on various fitness sites for playlists, talk to your friends and co-workers and find out what songs get them moving.

Crank it up...get moving...see results!!  Rock on exercisers!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Are You Eating Enough?

When we think of losing weight, the first thing that pops into our head is to cut back on calorie (food) intake.  While in theory that sounds correct, there's much more to consider than just reducing the amount of food you eat.  I'm going to pick on the ladies for a moment.  We all know that one girl/woman who only eats salads because she is trying to lose weight.  Again, in theory, it sounds like she would be losing weight by reducing her caloric intake to only salads.  While she may see weight loss, there are other factors to consider. 

Before we continue, let's look at something called the "energy balance equation".  Don't freak out, it's not a complicated math equation!!  Essentially it looks like this:

Calories In < Calories Out = Weight Loss
Calories In > Calories Out = Weight Gain
Calories In = Calories Out = Weight Maintenance

Nothing fancy and not complicated at all.  If you take in more calories than you burn/expend then you will gain weight; if you burn more calories than you take in then you will lose weight.  This equation has been around for many years and I'm positive that it will not change.  So take a moment to look at this equation and put it into perspective...look at your calories in versus calories out.  Which part of the equation do you fall under?

So weight loss should be that simple, right?  If it were, we wouldn't have an obesity epidemic on our hands in America.  Let's go back to our original scenario of the woman who only eats salads to lose weight.  She WILL lose weight this way, however, she will also lose lean mass (muscle) and will be vitamin and mineral-deficient in many areas.  On the outside she may look "healthy" with her weight loss but she is doing damage to her body and health by losing weight in this manner.

When considering weight loss, you need to remember the energy balance equation and then balance that with proper nutrition AND exercise.  If you haven't heard, it takes 3,500 calories to burn one-pound of fat.  That means you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 (preferably through nutrition and exercise) to get rid of one pound of fat on your body.  You can accomplish this in a week by creating a deficit of 500 calories per day for seven days (i.e., 500 x 7 = 3,500).  For example, you can meet this deficit by reducing your calorie intake by 250 calories and burning (exercising) 250 calories.  Thus totaling 500 calories.

Did I just lose you?  Let's go back to our example for a moment.  While the energy balance equation still allows you to lose weight by burning more calories than you consume, it shouldn't be taken to the extreme.  If the woman in our example is exercising and eating a drastically-reduced calorie diet, her body will begin to utilize valuable muscle tissue to meet the needs of her metabolism.  What this means is if she is not taking in enough calories to meet the basic needs of metabolism (breathing, moving, digestion, etc.) then her body will look for other means of calorie intake...muscle.  By losing lean mass or muscle tissue, her metabolism will further slow down which will make weight loss even more difficult.

Ultimately, we see many people here at PROMATx Health Club who are not consuming enough calories in order to lose weight and meet their goals.  How does the average person figure out what level of calories they should have in a day?  There are many options on the internet that can ESTIMATE how many calories you need based on your age, weight, and activity levels.  To be more accurate, you should have a health and fitness professional determine this for you.  Make an appointment with our nutrition specialist and you can find out just how many calories you need on a daily basis to sustain life at your activity level.  Then you can dive deeper and learn how to balance exercise and proper nutrition to help reach your weight loss goals!!

I know it sounds crazy, but you can't just dramatically reduce your calorie intake.  People look at us like our heads are on backwards when we tell them they are not eating enough to lose weight.  There's a fine line there and our fitness and nutrition professionals here at PROMATx can assist you.

With the proper guidance, you can achieve weight loss and maintain a healthy body.  Don't sacrifice your body just to lose weight.  Do it right and you will be successful!!