Friday, December 18, 2009

What are you waiting for?

"I'll start my fitness routine and watching what I eat on New Years day" (oops - New Years day is on Friday). "I'll start it the first Monday". (Maybe you will...) Right this minute seems like a perfect time to make SOME SORT of change... don't let another day go by without making a small change to your bad habits. You will never be able to go back to make changes; so START RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

Something simple like drinking water in between cocktails will help alot!
Run up the steps instead of using the elevator...
Do 20 pushups against the counter top everytime you go into the kitchen.
See how easy it can be? So, what are you waiting for? Val

Monday, December 14, 2009

No quick fixes - just commitment and hard work!

The madness begins..."buy this and lose 10 inches in 10 days".."drink this before meals and watch fat just melt away without working out!" .."Workout for 10 minutes a day just three times a week to lose 5 inches off your waist - in 3 weeks!"

Nothing but commitment, proper eating for your body and consistent workouts (both cardio and resistance training)WORK! It's not all about inches lost - its about being healthy, fit and feeling good about yourself. Play hard - work hard - and enjoy life! Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No - if it's easy, it's not going to work...for long.

"Buy this now and get in shape by Christmas"..."Two pills before meals is all you need to lose unwanted fat"..."Attach to your abs and abs get toned and tight while you sleep"..."I just exercised 10 minutes a day on my new ab killer machine and lost 12 inches in my waist - and still ate what I wanted".

Ok - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH...NOTHING, I REPEAT NOTHING works any better than good ole-fashioned hard work - monitor your eating - and drinking alcohol. If it's easy, everyone on this planet would be fit and why is obesity on the rise?

Do not be afraid of sweating - or grunting while lifting weights ( lifting weights will not bulk you up. STOP WITH THE QUICK FIXES - get ready for the New You - through dedicated, EDUCATED exercise! Join me, won't you? Val

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh no! Americans are getting heavier and less active!

A recent government survey shows that Americans betwen the ages of 40-74 are heavier and less active..compared to 1988! Only 43% exercise 3 times a week (vs 53%), 36% are obese (compared to 28%), and only 26% eat at least 5 servings of fruit & veggies daily - (compared to 42%!) Why is this happening? Think about what you eat and do during a week's time.... No need to wait to New Year's Eve... make changes NOW!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Help a great cause while you exercise!!!!

HELP NEEDED!!! If you can run or walk, you are needed for the Race to Cure Lymphoma 5/10K run - 1 mile walk - sprite sprint (for the youngsters). This Saturday, October 17th - 8 AM. St. Louis Mills in Hazelwood, MO - Just off 370 & St Louis Mills Rd. Move your body for an excellent cause! Please attend - and if you can't workout, volunteer to help them out... contact our friend - Jerry via email: Join us, won't you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Use a rainy day to re-think your fitness plan!

Days like today make people just want to curl up with a good book; and "veg". Fine, your body just might need the rest! While you rest, think about what is working for you, and what isn't...from your personal life to I recently met with someone that has been doing the same workout routine for years... OMG! Change is good - and necessary to achieve your highest fitness potential. The exercise that you hate to do are most likely the ones you need the most! Check out a new group class (we have a ton at Rock); try a new sport... meditate! Take care and keep moving! Val

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wondering Wednesday: How Does Exercise Relate to Corporate Wellness Programs?

IN HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT, Tilt AMERICAN worker would lose to a band of sleepy preschoolers. Only 15% of U.S. workers exercise enough, and 40/0 don't attempt so much as. a sit-up. More than half blame work, with 8 in 10 grousing that they would hit the treadmill—really they would—if only their employers encouraged it.

Be careful what you whine for. With health-care costs hobbling profits, more employers are saying to employees, Get healthy—or else. After all, insurance premiums and absenteeism by sick workers set businesses back $15 billion a year. says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And yet 70% of health-care costs stern from preventable chronic diseases. Take diabetes, which costs nearly $92 billion a year: 90/0 of cases could be avoided by better eating. Smoking-related illnesses rack up an additional s75 billion a year.

The new wellness program has teeth. It levies fees for not joining and sics personal coaches on employeesEmployers' whip of choice is the corporate-wellness program. Three-quarters of large employers have one, up from 56% three years ago. And the new wellness pro. gram has teeth. It levies fees for not joining. assigns workers to risk categories, rewards them for improving and sics personal coaches on employees to hound them into better habits. Some employers take the mission so seriously they're telling workers to get well or get lost.

Worthington Industries was an early convert. The $3 billion metals manufacturer opened a gym at its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters in 1985, later adding free yoga, step and cardio classes. In 1995, it built an onsite wellness center with three full-time physicians, a lab and pharmacy. But with the company's health-care premiums still soaring, CEO John McConnell decided to get serious. In 2003 Worthington hired an outside vendor to implement a program called Healthy Choices that would track and improve workers' health. Workers who participate get cash credits of up to s5o a month toward their share of health-care premiums. "I thought, 'People respond to money.'" says McConnell. "It's a pretty sweet deal."

The results are plain. Since 2004, the percentage of participating workers in the low-risk category rose from 30% to 41%. Pat McGee, 49,a corporate trainer based in lack-son, Michigan, says his days on the road "began with doughnuts and ended with pizza." After a heart attack in January 2006, McGee embraced the wellness program, which has since helped him quit smoking, change his diet and start walking more than e km every day. His two daughters quit smoking too. Thanks to success stories like McGee's, Worthington saved s2.5 million in claims over the past two years, more than double what it has spent on the program. says Kay Cooke, director of benefits. That makes McGee proud: 'We're a profit-sharing company, so I figure every dollar we save is a dollar in my pocket one way or another."

Wellness programs are wasted efforts unless workers take part, but for now, they remain mostly voluntary. A 2005 study by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that at most companies, less than half of employees participated. That's where the carrots and sticks come in. While employers like Kaiser Permanente dangle cash incentives for workers who submit to health evaluations, others, like AstraZeneca, threaten higher premiums for not taking part.

Scotts Miracle-Gro has gone so far as to fire a worker for smoking; he has since filed a federal lawsuit charging discrimination. Worthington c eo McConnell says he would never fire a worker for poor health, maybe because he's no Lance Armstrong himself: 6 ft. (1.8 m) and 23o lbs. (1o5 kg). at 54, he is a lapsed jogger who sneaks a smoke some evenings and whose risk assessment is only moderate. Even for bosses, wellness doesn't always come easy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

So you've been told that doing hundreds of crunches alone will get you the rock hard abs you desire.

Diet and Exercise Myth #1: Crunches will get rid of your belly fat.

False. “You can’t pick and choose areas where you’d like to burn fat,” Tyne says. “In order to burn fat, you should create a workout that includes both cardiovascular and strength training elements. This will decrease your overall body fat content.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wondering Wednesday: What are the benefits of hiring a personal trainer?

Are you one of the many Americans that assume personal training is a luxury solely reserved for the rich and famous, or at least the rich?

Perhaps that was once the case, but as we become more focused on fitness and overall health, personal trainers are going mainstream. As the media begins to report on the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, exercising at least 30-45 minutes every day, and eating a diet rich in greens and unprocessed foods, people are seeking out personal trainers and nutritionists in hopes of gaining a routine specific for their needs.

This is a concept many believe in theory, but lack in actual practice. Your body is unique to you; therefore, your fitness goals should be different from your neighbors. Your diet needs will differ from others' needs.

All of this can be confusing, which is why so many are seeking the advice of knowledgeable fitness experts. These professionals will teach you the best way to work your muscles. They will help with your diet. They will help hold you accountable. They will push you over the hump and onto the next obstacle.

Recently, the American Council on Exercise and Club Industry magazine listed the top 10 reasons people benefit from hiring a trainer:

1. Motivation: Trainers serve as coaches, educators, and role models, particularly when you need it most.

2. Consistency: It is more difficult to stray from your routine when you have a scheduled appointment.

3. Safety: These experts will show you how to perfect your form to prevent injury.

4. Individualized Instruction: Remember: your body is unique, so your fitness routine should be as well.

5. Effective Workouts: Average Americans can spend months and not see a significant improvement. The same person can work with a trainer and see results in a matter of weeks.

6. Supervision: Having a trainer with you during your sessions will help you improve because they can watch and witness what needs to be altered.

7. Sports-Specific Training: Want to improve your golf game? Decrease your swim time? Cut time from your 40? Trainers know the insider tricks and can help you step it up a notch.

8. Injury Rehabilitation: A fitness expert can provide you with exercises that will speed your recovery and get you back to your old self in the appropriate amount of time.

9. Special-needs Training: Research confirms those with special-needs including diabetes, asthma, heart disease and osteoporosis benefit greatly from the knowledge given by experienced trainers. Let these experts create a safe and effective program for you.

10. Ego Boost: It is known that those with confidence draw the most attention, both professionally and personally. Often, our confidence wanes when we neglect our bodies. Joining forces with a personal trainer will jump start your routine, keep you on track and provide you with the tools to continue living a healthy lifestyle the rest of your days.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Feature Friday - Raising Your HDL Levels

With healthcare reform being debated in Washington, the words "preventative measures" are being thrown around with a fervency.

Unfortunately, with the increasing prevalence of heart disease, we are having to take a long hard look at what we put in our bodies and the result it is currently having, or will have on our heart in the future.

Obviously, cholesterol is a key component in coronary care. HDL, often refereed to as "the good cholesterol," is part of that preventative care I referenced earlier. Physicians want their patients to increase their HDL score. In fact, your risk of heart disease drops 2-3 percent each time you add a point to your HDL score.

How can you increase your levels?

Luckily, research has shown you can take an active role in this process by eating the right foods (and one is even chocolate)!

First, take a nice delicious bite of Dark Chocolate. Now, I can be a bit of a chocolate snob but in this case, gourmet chocolate is best for everyone because it is 70% cacao. Recently, a study was conducted in which participants ate 3.5 ounces every day for a week and consequently raised their HDL by 9 percent. Now, those people may have helped their HDL score, but I'm sure their waistlines also increased. The important thing to remember is dark chocolate will benefit you in the long run. So there is no need to scarf down 3.5 ounces every day. Rather, eat a small amount (1/2ounce) each day over an extended period of time and you will see the same benefits...minus the added inch around your girth.

Next, go to your local fish market (or grocery store for those non-coastal readers) and order a fillet of Salmon. I know, it is a fish you either love or hate. Learn to love it and your HDL will rise significantly. In fact, Loma Linda University recently conducted a study that revealed people who eat two 4-ounce servings a week for four weeks increased their HDL by 4 percent! In the event that you can't stomach a bite of salmon, other fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines and herring should deliver the same results. We all have food we didn't like as kids...remember hiding the broccoli under the potato skin? What about when you fed the dog your spinach or lima beans? But no matter what trick we had up our sleeve, mom always made us eat it because "It was good for us." Well, insert that philosophy here and you could see yourself living a few extra years thanks to that salmon!

What is the next beneficial food? Berries! I know people who eat Cheerios each morning. Great, now put blueberries on top and your HDL could rise as much as 5 percent! Berries come in both fresh and frozen fashion and the kind you prefer matters not. As long as you eat about a cup of frozen berries each day you will see a significant improvement. There are a number of recipes using berries, so have fun with this food. Snack on frozen blueberries on a humid summer day. Make a berry smoothie for breakfast. Just eat the berries!

Lastly, enjoy your morning Eggs! I am not advocating that you eat 3 eggs every day. However, eggs are rich in lecithin - which studies have shown raises HDL. Amazingly, a study performed in Thailand followed a group of healthy adults as they consumed one whole egg every day for 12 weeks. Interested to know how much their HDL increased? A whopping 48 percent!

Heart health is something that has touched so many people, be it directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, there is much we can't do because genetics play such a role in this often deadly disease. However, we can take it upon ourselves to be aware of beneficial foods that may help stave off coronary disease. Do your part to help yourself!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Effects of Sugar

According to the USDA, the average American consumes between 150-170 pounds of sugar annually! Thinking that's not too bad? Break it down, and we are consuming between 1/4 - 1/2 pound of sugar per day!

It hasn't always been this way; in fact, 100 years ago we only consumed an average of 4 pounds per year!

Wondering how this delicious white substance can cause so many problems?

[image courtesy]

20 Reasons Why Sugar Ruins Your Health...
1. Sugar can suppress the immune system
2. Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium
3. Sugar can weaken eyesight
4. Sugar can cause hypoglycemia
5. Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children
6. Sugar contributes to obesity
7. Sugar can cause arthritis
8. Sugar can cause heart disease and emphysema
9. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis
10. Sugar can increase cholesterol
11. Sugar can lead to both prostate cancer and ovarian cancer
12. Sugar can contribute to diabetes
13. Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease
14. Sugar can make or skin age by changing the structure of collagen
15. Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides
16. Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention
17. Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines
18. Sugar can cause depression
19. Sugar can contribute to Alzheimer's disease
20. In Intensive Care Units, limiting sugar saves lives
{Adapted from 146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health, By Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.}

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wondering Wednesday - Exercises for those suffering back spasms

"I found your website when looking for exercises I can do with a not-great back. I suffer from severe back spasms and I am going to physical therapy to learn stretches that would help. My question for you (besides walking 3-4 times a week) are what exercises I can do at home (can't afford a gym membership) that will help me gain muscle, lose fat and be ok with my back problems. Thank you for your help!"

Before I can suggest ANYTHING - what is causing your back spasms? Have you had a slip & fall, car accident, sporting or any other recent injury? If the answer is yes, everything depends on what your doctors’ diagnosis. Where is the pain – in the lower, mid or upper back, is it muscular, nerve related or spinal? Does it affect your neck or butt too? It is really good that you are going to physical therapy for stretching exercises! ALWAYS check with your physician before undergoing any exercise program when pain is present.

Muscles will spasm to restrict movement, protecting the body from further injury. However, the spasms alone often cause extreme pain. Most often bed rest is prescribed for a few days to help with inflammation (injury related), with activity beginning as soon as possible to keep the back from becoming weaker. Start out with stretching WARM muscles (be sure to warm up before you stretch) then add low impact cardio; walking, bike riding (provided you are not slumping to reach the handlebars) and warm water swimming. After you progress through the cardio, add strengthening exercises. When standing in one place, pay attention to your posture - are you slouching or standing with most of your weight on one leg with your hip shifted outward? Do you often carry a heavy bag on one shoulder? Abdominal and inner core exercises will help support your back, and should be done WITHOUT pain.

Lie on the floor for most of the following exercises asking your therapist to teach you proper technique; or hire a Personal Trainer certified in corrective exercises – one or two sessions should be all it takes to teach you how to perform Bridge – Lying flat on your back, bend knees to a 90 degree angle with feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abs, slowly raising your butt off the floor, keeping abs tight. Hold, lower.

“Hunting Dog” – lie on your stomach with a rolled up towel under your forehead. Lift your right arm straight out (palm down) above your head. Tighten your abs and put your shoulder blades “in your back pocket”. Add your left leg lifting only a few inches off the floor. Hold, repeat on the other side.

Forearm plank from your knees – facing the floor, place your bent elbows directly under your shoulders – lift your hips so your body is in one straight line from your head to your knees. Hold, keeping abs tight.

Crunches – lie on your back with knees bent. DO NOT ANCHOR YOUR FEET. Tighten your abs, and keeping your lower back on the floor with your chin tucked (place tongue on the roof of your mouth to help keep proper head position, weird, but true). Exhale as you lift your head and shoulders off the floor, squeezing the bottom of your rib cage down towards your hip bones. It is not about curling up high – it’s about engaging muscles effectively. Do ten reps and add a few more every day. Perform this slowly, adding just a few to build strength.

Hope these few help! If you also suffer from this problem, and would like additional exercises or information, please contact me at rockworkout[at]gmail{dot}com and I can suggest a few more exercises. REMEMBER – THESE EXERCISES SHOULD NOT CAUSE ANY MORE PAIN!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Feature Friday - Water vs. Water-Rich Foods

The dog days of summer have been with us a while and they aren't showing any signs of slowing down. I bet you can't even count the number of times you have been told, "You need to drink more water. Especially during the summer."

There are times I think to myself, "If I drink one more glass of water I am going to float away."

Unfortunately, you can't compromise proper hydration and drinking an adequate amount of water is part of that. However, there are other options that will leave you feeling satisfied and a bit more hydrated.

Often times, we feel like we need a little extra hydration after a tough workout. Naturally, we assume we need to drink more water. However, research shows that water-rich vegetables may hydrate your body more than a glass of water.

Our faithful clear liquid is refreshing and free of calories which will always make it a healthy and necessary option. However, water-rich fruits and produce provide nutrients like amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins in addition to hydration.

During an exhausting training session, or extremely hot day, you lose electrolytes which need to be replenished. Brilliant marketing efforts on behalf of various sports drinks will have you believe they are the only viable options. I am here to tell you that you can get the same benefits from water-rich fruits and produce, without the added sugar and flavorings from sports drinks.

What are some great water-rich foods:

Watermelon - The appropriately named fruit is rich in vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene...and contains nearly 92 percent water.

Cucumber - Cucumbers deliver a high water content as well as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.

Celery - Crunchy celery is actually 96 percent water. It also provides sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.

Now, these food options will help aide in the hydration process but it is still important to consume an adequate amount of water each day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Myths Debunked - I don't need to eat breakfast!

One of the biggest myths is skipping breakfast will assist in weight loss. People often underestimate the importance of eating a healthy and filling breakfast. That first meal of the day will set the tone for the remainder of your day, so it is important to fuel your body with the energy it will need to survive the hectic day ahead.

Another myth is that life is too busy to worry about breakfast and it isn't that important anyway as long as you eat a good lunch. Understandably, mornings can get overwhelming while trying to get ready for work, hustle the kids off to school and grab what you need for the day. However, neglecting the first meal of the day can be more detrimental to your overall well being than one might initially think...

In fact, research shows that people who skip their morning meal tended to eat about 100 calories more over the course of a day than individuals who did eat breakfast. The negative effects of skipping breakfast may also include an increased risk of heart disease.

A good idea for those whose mornings resemble a Nascar pit crew? Fix breakfast the night before! This will prevent additional rushing in the morning, and if the morning routine is more hectic than usual, just grab this muffin and eat it when you get to work while the kids can enjoy it on their way to school
Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/3 tsp. Salt
1 Whole Banana (mashed)
1 Whole Egg
1/4 C. Vegetable Oil
1 C. Flour
3/4 C. Brown Sugar (packed)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
3/4 C. Yogurt
3/4 C. Blueberries
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 C. Oatmeal (quick)
3/4 C. Whole Wheat Flour

In bowl, whisk together sugar, yogurt, banana, oil, and egg; stir in rolled oats. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Pour yogurt mixture over top; sprinkle with blueberries and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon into paper-lined muffin cups. bake in center of 375 degree oven until tops are firm to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool on rack.

Serves 12

Friday, July 17, 2009

Feature Friday - Which Body Type Are You?

There are three body types and each body type has a specific personality associated with it. The body type system characterized the human body as ectomorphic, mesomorphic, or endomorphic.

Not every human being fits exactly into one of these categories but contains characteristics of each, although one is usually predominant over the others. In order to determine your body type, one needs to look back at your adolescent years to determine which category your body type possessed before changes due to age and lifestyle transformed you into what you are today.

Which of The 3 Body Types Are You?

The Ectomorph Body Type - think marathon runners!
* Narrow shoulders and hips
* A thin and narrow face, with a high forehead
* A thin and narrow chest and abdomen
* Thin legs and arms

The Mesomorph Body Type is somewhere between the round endomorph and the thin ectomorph.
* Large head, broad shoulders, and narrow waist (wedge-shaped)
* Muscular body, with strong forearms and thighs
* Very little body fat
* Genetically gifted; greatest bodybuilding potential
* Long torso, full chest, good shoulder to waist ratio

The Endomorph Body Type is physically quite "round", is typified as the "barrel of fun" person.
* Wide hips and narrow shoulders, which makes them rather pear-shaped
* Quite a lot of fat spread across the body, including upper arms and thighs
* They have slim ankles and wrists, which only serves to accentuate the fatter other parts
* Wide bone structure
* Weight gain is easy, though fat loss is difficult
* Tends to store fat, which hides muscle gains.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Feature Friday - TRX - Who Knew Hanging From Straps Could Be Such Great Exercise?

I am so excited to do this Feature Friday! As a trainer, we see so many pieces of equipment burst on the scene and quickly fade from the industry as people realize it isn't effective. The TRX Suspension Trainer, however, will be a mainstay for the years to come.

This type of training has been used on the most elite athletes, as well as men and women with special needs. In fact, this is the most versatile piece of equipment I have ever used in training my clients.

TRX is a creation of one of our country's elite Navy SEALs and is used throughout the world to train our military for the harshest environment, while preparing their bodies to be pushed to the limit.

The TRX consists of suspended parachute straps, enabling users of all abilities to harness their body weight and create ultimate resistance while limiting stress on joints.

The benefits of Suspension Training reach far beyond the fitness elite. It decreases body fat while increasing strength, core stability, flexibility and balance in everyone. In just 30 minutes, clients will obtain a full-body workout regardless of their starting fitness level.

In fact, the TRX is being used in senior wellness programs because the movements are easy to modify for various fitness levels, and it enables seniors to exercise without the fear of falling.

In fact, I can place a grandmother next to a performance elite and both will receive the same full-body workout in the same amount of time. The TRX is about improving movement, not simply building muscle.

Suspension Training continues to grow in popularity with professional athletes, military personnel and various clients at personal training facilities across the country. However, if you don't live near a fitness facility that offers TRX classes, you can visit the Fitness Anywhere site and order one you can mount in your home, or take to your local park and enjoy the scenery while getting an intense workout.

Here are some pictures taken during a TRX class at rock.

Clients enjoy doing push-ups in a non-traditional manner.

Here I am demonstrating the "row." Clients will feel this particular sequence throughout their entire body, as they pull their full body weight off the ground and into the air.

This class is guaranteed to improve your strength, core stability and overall balance.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wondering Wednesday - Exercises for the Eldery

I know, I know...Wondering Wednesday is late again. However, between training clients and teaching some great new classes we are offering at the studio, time escaped me. So here is the Wondering Wednesday post (albeit 7 hours into Thursday.)

How many times have we heard people refer to the later years in life as 'the golden years'? Well, my mom (and many of her friends) are convinced they only get the years while the doctors get the gold.

I am always telling her that while visits to the doctor will most likely increase, there is a lot she can be doing in the realm of prevention. Simple exercises are more beneficial than not; however, many believe that after a certain age exercise results are lost to an aging body.

I am sure you have seen the commercial with the elderly water skier. You know, the one where they show in the end that she is 86 and you too can water ski if you consume that product. That is an exception. Most men and women will not be water skiing at 86, but rather, they will find they have a few more nagging aches and pains as they age.

A fellow blogger, who recognizes the importance of exercise for her elderly mother asks, "My mom has sciatica.... can you recommend any (easy) exercises? she's 83..."

Like I said before, as people age bones become weaker, bodies more fragile and pains more frequent. Yes, exercise plays a role in minimizing these issues, but doing the correct exercises is crucial to avoiding further injury. Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome are often confused since the sciatic nerveis is directly under the Piriformis muscle. If the Piriformis muscle becomes inflamed (tough glute workout), it often radiates pain like sciatica. Good news - both require the same exercises.

Since Mom is 83, have her warm up - walking around the house, "marching" in place. Then perform some stretches designed to lengthen the glute (butt) and hamstring muscles. She needs to stand more than sit - sitting keeps everything very tight!

While recognizing that aging bodies are more susceptible to injury, it is critical that elderly men and women move. Often they will become sedentary because movement, in all honesty, can be painful. However, the lack of movement makes that initial soreness and fatigue worse. So be sure to have Mom walk. I know we often find ourselves saying things like, "Don't get up Mom, I'll get your tea for you." When in actuality, she needs to get up and move so feel free to offer assistance if it is needed, but remind her that even walking to retrieve something is exercise and it will benefit her greatly.

If you (or any reader) would like a paper copy of some specific exercises that are safe for those in their 'Golden Years,' please email me directly at

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Myths Debunked - Stretch 'em like a band of taffy!

We have all heard the many benefits if daily exercise so we tend to make sure that we squeeze in a workout, even if it's a quick one during our lunch hour.

However, what we don't account for is time spent stretching. It is so easy to bolt to the treadmill and run, or get a few quick sets in on our favorite weight machines. In fact, many believe stretching isn't important which can be a very detrimental misconception.

So why is stretching so important?

First and foremost...Injury Prevention! Stretching your muscles makes them more resistant to the stress you are about to place them under. After properly stretching your muscles, you will enjoy an increased range of motion and a decreased rigidity in your muscles.

In addition to injury prevention, stretching helps reduce tension, increase coordination and improve balance.

Unfortunately, many are misinformed about when to stretch. Most believe stretching should occur right when you get to the gym, and before you begin any exercise! That can be an injury inducing misconception. Think of your muscles as taffy. When you stretch cold taffy, it breaks. However, when you stretch warm taffy it is more pliable and receptive to the harsh motion and stress you are placing on it.

So when should you stretch? First, you should warm up with a brisk walk or some other light cardio to raise your body temperature - creating warm taffy. Once your body temperature has risen and your muscles are ready to be stretched, it is important to do some sport specific exercises that will prepare your body for the strenuous workout ahead. For example, if you will be running, be sure to do stretches that target the hip flexors, calves, IT bands and shins.

Now, you have finished your workout routine and are about to head home...STOP! Don't forget to stretch after your workout as well. Stretching after will prevent soreness the following day and aide in injury prevention. Light stretching at the end will also help bring your body back to a resting state.

I realize not everyone has time to embark on an extended stretching routine. Heck, most of us are lucky if we manage to get a daily workout in our schedule. But taking a few extra moments to warm up your muscles, and stretch after a workout, will help you steer clear of injury and get the most out of your fitness routine.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cardio Strip Fit

There's a new class in town for those who feel a little saucy and want to have fun. Rock workout is holding a complimentary strip fit class, Tuesday, July 7th at 5:45 pm. Bring your heels, your sense of adventure and join us for this amazing class taught by Michell Jefferson.

Michell is a former Ram's Cheerleader. But more than that she is a highly accomplished dancer who has performed with such acts as Vanessa Williams, Nelly and Tyrese. Michell will use her extensive performance background to give you the best workout with the most fun.

We recommend that you wear at least 2" heels to get the proper hip movements. Comfy clothes that give you a good range of motion are the best. Don't worry we won't be removing any items of clothing!

Our goal for Tuesday evening is to introduce you to a fun cardio program that doesn't feel like exercise.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I breathe in. I breathe out.

When you lose your breath do you have a tough time getting it back under control? Do you feel like you struggle to take a full (also called deep) breath? When you breathe, which body part moves - just your chest or your entire abdomen and back?

Breathing does two things - provides fresh oxygen so your brain and muscles work properly; and disposes of the carbon dioxide waste (the equivalent to the exhaust from your cars engine). Breathe slowly and fully. With proper breathing, blood cells get the new, oxygen-rich air instead of slightly used, stale air. Experts estimate that proper breathing helps your body eliminate toxins 15 times faster than poor, shallow breathing. You'll be healthier and be able to perform better (mentally and physically) with less stress and will feel more relaxed!

To get the full benefits of good breathing, try the following:

Relax! Lie on your back or sit in an area that is dimly lit - bright lights can be very distracting. Close your eyes. Now, listen to your "regular" breathing for a moment. Don't think about changing it, just acknowledge the feeling. Relax your face, your neck, your cheeks, your jaw, your templates, even your tongue.

In and Out: Practice breathing correctly - in and out of your nose. Take long breaths in (counting to 8 often helps) - don't force it (you shouldn't be able to hear your breath coming in or out). Exhale slowly (count to 8 again). Now you are drawing slow breaths, not gulping in or blowing it out. feel the rhythm of your breathing.

Don't Breathe with Your Chest: Good breathing is done through your lower torso, rather than the upper torso. Each breath should expand your abdominals, your lower back and ribs. Relax your shoulders and try not to breathe with your chest. Put your hands on your stomach and feel the rise and fall. Don't feel it? Think about inhaling starting at your toes! Don't be afraid to "push" out your stomach - soon your stomach will move more freely.

Embrace the Feeling: Feel the good air entering your lungs and feel the stale air leaving your body. "In with the good, out with the bad" is definitely true. Make sure that you exhale as long as you inhale to make sure all the "bad" air is gone. Remember, long slow breaths. Most people take 12-16 breaths per minute. Ideally, it should be 8-10. Now try to make your exhale a little longer than your inhale for a while. Pause for 8 counts after you exhale without taking a breath. Don't worry - your body will force you to breathe as necessary! Think about expanding your lungs, making them as efficient and clear as possible!

[article by Master Trainer Val Strang, with excerpts from Mike Kramer - staff writer for]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wondering Wednesday (Thur Edition)- Eliminating Stomach Flab with Nutrition and Fitness

Wondering Wednesday is here again! As always, I am answering readers' questions and I encourage you to leave a comment with a question or email me directly with any health, fitness or nutrition inquiry.

Weekly Wonder - I know you can't "spot" train, but I've been doing boot camp off and on for about a year now and have seen definite results, especially with my arms. However, I want to lose some "flab" or inches around my mid section. It doesn't ever seem to change and I'm getting a little discouraged with it.

I also need to improve my posture, which would help, but I'm usually carrying around a kid or two or on the floor playing with them, and I tend to resume my poor habits.

I know that my diet/nutrition is probably to blame, but I have a hard time with that as well. I have 3 kids (ages 5, 3 1/2, and 19 months) and the second I walk in from boot camp as my husband is walking out to go to work, they are running circles around me to eat, play, help with this, change a diaper, etc - I seem to just eat what I can as fast as I can and its not always healthy and then I'm just hungry all the time.

Answer: Flab around the middle – yes, posture exercises make that diminish! Make sure you perform two to three back exercises for every front exercise… when hanging on the floor with the kids, do some forearm planks (keep your shoulders pulled back and waist band lifted).

To lose “flab” - exercise is hugely important, but nutrition is about 75% of it! When the kids are resting, or anytime you make dinner – cook in batches. Make extra chicken breasts – slice them up, put a serving size in a baggie and store in fridge (lasts about 5 days); buy the salad pre-made and presto…instant healthy lunch! Breakfast? Scramble an egg or two while making the kids’ breakfast – it only take a minute. Hard boil some eggs (I do a dozen at a time) for snacks.

NEVER, NEVER CLEAN YOUR CHILDREN’S PLATES! That's the worse habit a Mom can have -and we have all done it.

There is a reason the airlines announce to place the oxygen mask on yourself before you place one on your child…cuz if momma ain't healthy, everyone suffers. It’s ok to tell JR he has to wait for you to do something with him while you make your salad; children need to know that you value yourself too!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Myths Debunked - My muscle will turn into fat if I don't exercise

Let's face it - We have all heard the old adage that a lack of exercise will result in all that hard earned muscle becoming nothing more than fat on our body and a roll hanging over the top of our jeans.

Just look at this poor dog here...I am sure his owner (a regular dog walker) had to take a business trip and when he got back Fido had turned into the pic you see below!

[photo courtesy]

All kidding aside, apples can't turn into oranges any more than muscle cells can turn into fat cells.

Muscles that aren't being used atrophy, or shrink, but they do not disappear. If you keep eating, but stop exercising, you will inevitably gain fat. That combined with your muscles shrinking from lack of use is what causes people to think their muscles simply became fat.

In reality, the balance simply became skewed resulting in a less toned look.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wondering Wednesday - How to workout when you suffer back spasms

Today is my first "Wondering Wednesday" post. From now on, I will take fitness and nutrition questions from blog readers. I will take these questions throughout the week, and answer them each Wednesday. These can be anything from a generic question about a specific exercise, to a complex question  concerning what type of workouts are appropriate for cancer patients. I have a wealth of knowledge, and years in the industry. I know it can be difficult to get educated answers off the Internet, so I am creating this forum for people to ask me anything they are curious about.

Our first question: "When you are having back issues, such as tightness that causes spasms, what is the best way to exercise without suffering an injury?"

This a problem many people suffer. Back issues plague many Americans, whether it's the lower back or upper back around the neck and shoulders. First, it is important to understand the reason a muscle spasms is to restrict movement to protect the muscle group from further injury. Listening to your body is important. Walking and swimming are the best exercises for you to begin with. Always make sure you perform some safe and gentle stretches at the end of your cardio workout - I will send you some via email if you contact me directly at rockworkout {at} gmail [dot] com. After a few weeks of walking/swimming, add abdominal and back strengthening/stretching combinations to help strengthen weak muscles, and stretch tight areas. Working on your postural muscles with the help of a physical therapist or knowledgeable trainer will help in the prevention of future flair-ups.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Myths Debunked - No Pain No Gain

How many times have we heard the saying, "No pain, no gain" - when we train, when we played organized sports, from our old coaches, maybe even from our parents.

There are myths that get stated as fact on a regular basis, and if heard enough, people start to believe them as just that. However, this all too familiar quote can be very detrimental to those believing it to be accurate.

"No pain, No gain" implies we must be hurting in one way or another to see results. The truth? While an intense workout will undoubtedly result in some soreness one or two days after, pain should not be felt during an exercise.

If your shoulder is popping, or you feel pain in your elbow do not assume it is as it should be and continue. If your knee is hurting while doing a specific exercise, stop and ask a trainer if there is a better way to perform the exercise. You would be amazed if you knew the multiple ways in which to modify an exercise. If there is not a way to modify, the trainer should be able to give you a new exercise that will target the same muscle group, but will not negatively impact the area where you are feeling pain.

We all have little glitches in our bodies. Many times, old injuries suffered as kids on the basketball court will resurface as we age. That shoulder you dislocated in football 20 years ago may not have caused many problems, but as you get older you may feel it clicking when working out. Don't assume all is well, while thinking, "Ahhh, no pain, no gain" because you will most likely injure it further.

It is always good to consult with your doctor before beginning any intense training. The last thing you want is to work hard at getting in better shape, only to be forced to stop by a nagging back injury. The point of exercising isn't to push through pain but to take things as slow as your body needs to strengthen its weak points, benefiting you greatly in the long run.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

There's No Denying It - Size Matters

Are you looking to shed some pounds but can't fathom becoming one of those people that weighs food, counts calories or deprives themselves of something they want?

We have all heard of portion control, but often times we are unaware of what proper serving sizes are and how to divide it on our plates.

In America, portions have continually grown over the years making it nearly impossible to remember what a healthy serving size actually was before the "super-size" era. Unfortunately, as our food portions have been super-sized so have our waistlines. In fact, many people don't need to diet, as much as they simply need to cut back the amount of food they are eating.

A woman in the UK created The Diet Plate® which has portion sizes drawn into the plate, taking away the guesswork that is often inaccurate. There is no need to count fat, calories or carbohydrates, as this plate does it for you by providing guidelines for calorie controlled portion sizes. In addition, this plate comes in a female and male version so portion sizes are altered accordingly.

What is an actual serving size?

To give you a frame of reference, this is the American Cancer Society's measuring stick for "normal" portion sizes:

~ 1oz meat: size of a matchbox
~ 3oz meat: size of a deck of cards or bar of soap. This is the recommended portion size.
~ 8oz meat: size of a thin paperback book
~ 3oz fish: size of a checkbook
~ 1oz cheese: size of 4 dice
~ medium potato: size of a computer mouse
~ 2Tbsp peanut butter: size of a ping pong ball
~ 1/2 cup pasta: size of a tennis ball
~ Average bagel: size of a hockey puck

That was eye-opening, I'm sure. I know when I go to my local bagel shop for breakfast, the bagels are much larger than a hockey puck. And I recently purchased potatoes from my local farmer's market, and they were double the healthy serving size.

Now, you don't need to rush right out and buy The Diet Plate® but it is a very novel idea, one that would help many realize just how much they are eating in comparison to what they should be eating. However, if you don't want your nightly dinner plate to resemble a food puzzle, here are a few more tips for controlling your portions:

Tip 1: When you eat out, ask for 1/2 your meal to be bagged before eating. This will ensure you don't "pick" at your food or eat too much. Instead, you can look forward to enjoying it again for lunch the following day.

Tip 2: Don't "eat from the bag" Instead, place a serving size in a bowl or on a plate to avoid overeating. Let's face it, it's just too easy to keep reaching back into the bag for more!

Tip 3: Share an entree with a friend when eating out. If you aren't a fan of leftovers (much like myself) sharing meals will ensure you don't overeat or waste food.

For more tips on portion sizing, as well as additional tips for portion control visit the ACS Web site. If you think all that information is too much to worry about, look into The Diet Plate®. It takes the guesswork away, and will help you on your journey to a healthier you!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Childhood Obesity - What Can You Do Differently?

{Image Courtesy}

Healthy habits are something we acquire early in life. It's like that quote, "All I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten." It's amazing how much of what we achieve in the future, is based on what we learned as children.

As youngsters, we are introduced to concepts like coloring in the lines and following class rules. Throughout life, we will be reminded of these lessons when we sign contracts, negotiate deals and write resumes. It's at these times we will think back to our teachers who instilled patience while working towards something beautiful, as well as accountability for our actions (even if it meant learning to keep quiet when others are speaking.)

My point is, we learn most of life's basic principals and skills when we are young. One of the most important things for children to learn early is an appreciation for their overall health. Now, I don't expect your child to turn down a brownie and request a tomato slice. But we need to teach them balance.

With the childhood obesity rate on the rise, it's time to take stock of what we are doing differently with today's youth. For starters? Video games and inside amusement. Looking back, I can remember jumping rope, playing kickball, and participating in league sponsored sports. Now, kids are entertained with video games that leave them glued to the couch for hours!

It's time to get kids involved in team sports again. Going back to my earlier point, we learn a lot about life through team sports. Kids learn to share the spotlight with others and grow closer in defeat. Football players learn they can't win without the help of others. Baseball players learn that it won't always be their day, but their teammates will step-up and help pick up the slack. Cheerleaders learn there must be trust among squad members to successfully execute a stunt.

We live in a society that demands instant gratification, which is a terrible thing to teach our kids to expect. We speed through fast food joints, get each child a different meal, rush home, gobble down the food and separate to do our own things. Instead, take the 20 minutes to cook a healthy meal. Try getting the kids involved so they will look at food with an understanding. Teach them what is healthy and explain why you will put more veggies on their plates and only minimal amounts of meat. They may moan and grunt about it, when they'd rather be playing, but as they grow older that knowledge of healthy v. unhealthy will stay with them.

Take a moment and think back...even write down...the things you remember learning in kindergarten and how they have transferred to your adult life. Now, use this knowledge to form a plan for your children. Check the local sports leagues and ask your child what interests them. It's important to show your child that you will be their biggest fan! Make a point to practice with them, teach them new skills and attend all games!

Don't think you are off the hook either. This is the chance for you to set the example you may or may not have had growing up. Fix healthy meals and let your kids see you exercising regularly. Make the change as a family and kids will be more likely to follow your lead without much hesitation. Just remember, this can't be a spur-of-the-moment change...this is a lifestyle change that will lead your family down a path of health and physical well-being.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dear Peanut, I am leaving you for Sunflower Butter!

{Image Courtesy}

Channing Pollock, and American playwright and critic once said, "No man in the world has more courage than the man who can stop after eating one peanut."

This quote made me chuckle thinking back to my day at the baseball park when I kept snacking on the shelled peanuts that cost $6.00 a bag. Truthfully, no matter how hard I tried, I could not put those delicious, salty peanuts down.

Unfortunately, my snack of choice would put many people in a full-blown allergy attack, some severe enough to require an immediate trip to the emergency room.

Chances are, if you are like me you are wondering how people can survive a life without peanuts. And if you are allergic to these nuts, you are probably feeling a sudden itch on your skin. Well, fear not because I am here to tell you about a never-know-the-difference alternative to good ol' fashioned PB!

Sunflower Butter has been on the market for a few years now and is an ideal low-fat, high fiber substitute for traditional peanut butter. Some schools are now offering this alternative to students with nut allergies, making for a safe eating environment while allowing those students to still enjoy the taste of real PB&J.

Those suffering severe peanut allergies are now afforded the chance to enjoy sunflower butter the same way their peers enjoy PB: on celery, morning toast, with jelly and on crackers.

In fact, people are now using sunflower butter to make those melt-in-your-mouth chewy cookies with the famous crisscross imprint on the top!

I found this great recipe at Baking Bites:

{Image Courtesy}

Sunflower Butter Cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup sugar + 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg, blend in vanilla and sunflower seed butter. Add in dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined..

Drop dough into 1-inch balls on prepared baking sheet. Dip a fork in water and press down gently to flatten each cookie. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar-salt mixture.Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the edges.Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

Monday, June 8, 2009

High Heels - I Love You So Much and You Hurt Me So Bad!

{image courtesy}

High Heels are a beautiful thing. Strappy, thick, sexy, conservative, professional, night-out-on-the-town...whichever style you choose is fine by me. After all, I have over 100 pair in my closet. I have had a love of shoes since I pranced around in a pair of my mother's red leather pumps nearly 25 years ago. They are actually one of my favorite accessories to purchase because they always fit. They fit when nothing else does and they make a statement like nothing else ever will.

The bad news? They are ruining our feet, and various other parts of our body, with each step we take. I am sure you are thinking, "But I only buy comfortable heels." I don't believe you. We all own at least a few pair that leave people gawking while we end the night peeling them off and running a hot bath to soak our tootsies.

These shoes are the culprits for bunions, corns, hammertoes and ingrown toenails. I bet you just wiggled your toes and a specific pair of pumps flashed in front of you. According to an article in Glamour's July issue, podiatrists are now performing bunion surgery on women in their twenties, when that surgery was once reserved for ladies in their fifties and sixties.

Why do heels cause us so much pain? Every inch of heel adds 25 percent more pressure on your feet. Now do the math and if you weigh 130 pounds and slide your feet into stunning four-inch heels, you are putting 260 pounds of pressure of your feet with each step you take. Do that every day and you will feel the effects rather quickly.

How can you avoid calf tightness, a shortened ACL, and even ingrown toenails? Stop wearing high heels. However, I know that's not likely to happen so it's important to forgo wearing the stilettos all day. Do like the city slickers, and wear a pair of flats while your black patent leather pumps are tucked away in your purse. Arrive at the destination, switch the flats for heels before you step out of the car and no one will ever know the difference...except your feet of course.

The unfortunate truth is the higher the heel, the more significant the long-term effects. Aside from a few ingrown toenails or an annoying corn or two, we aren't faced with the bigger issues until it is too late. Wearing stilettos, or any type heel, will have an everlasting effect on your back and your overall posture. Throwing your body forward in a pair of heels, forces the back and hips to overcompensate for the bad alignment, in the end leaving you with lower back pain and tension in the shoulders.

Now, don't go home and cry over the 50 pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes you have to donate. As a shoe aficionado myself, I wouldn't dare suggest such a thing. Just invest in some good (even stylish) flats that you can wear when heels aren't necessary. Your legs may not look as long, or your ankles as slender, but both will thank you in the long run.

Friday, June 5, 2009

How Healthy Is Your Lifestyle? ~ Take This Test!

How Healthy is Your Lifestyle?

Directions: Put a check beside each statement that applies to you. Tally the number of checks at the end of each section. Then, at the end, add all sections together to get your total score.

1. Alcohol

___ If you do not drink, score 5 here and move to question #2
___ I drink less than 2 drinks a day.
___ In the past year, I have not driven an automobile after having more than 2 drinks.
___ When I am under stress, I do not drink more.
___ I do not do things when I am drinking that I later regret.
___ I have not experienced any problem because of my drinking in the past.

2. Tobacco use

___ If you have never smoked cigarettes, score 5 here and move to question #3
___ I haven’t smoked cigarettes in the past year.
___ I do not use any form of tobacco (pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco).
___ I smoke only low tar and nicotine cigarettes.
___ I smoke less than one pack of cigarettes a day.

3. Blood Pressure

___ I had my blood pressure checked within the last six months.
___ I never had high blood pressure.
___ I do not currently have high blood pressure.
___ I make a conscious effort to avoid salt in my diet.
___ There is no history of high blood pressure in my family.

4. Weight/Body Fat

___ According to height and weight charts, my weight is average for my height.
___ I have not needed to be on a weight-reduction diet in the past year.
___ There is no place on my body that I can pinch an inch of fat.
___ I am satisfied with the way my body looks.
___ None of my family, friends or health care professionals has urged me to lose weight.
5. Physical Fitness

___ I do some form of vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes three or more days a week.
___ My resting pulse is 70 beats a minute or less.
___ I don’t get fatigued easily while doing physical work.
___ I engage in some recreational sport such as tennis or swimming on a weekly basis.
___ I would say that my level of physical fitness is higher than most people in my age group.
Score ___

6. Stress/Anxiety Level

___ I find it easy to relax.
___ I am able to cope with stressful events as well as or better than most people.
___ I do not have trouble falling asleep or waking up.
___ I rarely feel tense or anxious.
___ I have no trouble completing tasks I have started.

7. Automobile Safety

___ I always use seat belts when I drive.
___ I always use seat belts when I am a passenger.
___ I have not had a speeding ticket or other moving violation for the past three years.
___ I never ride with a driver who has had more than two drinks.

8. Relationships

___ I am satisfied with my social relationships.
___ I have a lot of close friends.
___ I am able to share my feelings with my spouse and/or other family members.
___ When I have a problem, I have other people with whom I can talk it over.
___ Given a choice between doing things by myself or with others, I usually choose to do things with others.

9. Rest and Sleep

___ I almost always get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
___ I wake up few, if any, times during the night.
___ I feel rested and ready to go when I get up in the morning.
___ Most days, I have a lot of energy.
___ Even though I sometimes have a chance, I never take naps during the day.

10. Life satisfaction

___ If I had my life to live over, I wouldn’t make very many changes.
___ I’ve accomplished most of the things that I’ve set out to do in my life.
___ I can’t think of an area in my life that really disappoints me.
___ I am a happy person.
___ As compared to the people with whom I grew up, I feel I’ve done as well or better than most of them with my life.

Total Score = _____

Interpreting Your Score

A score of 40-50 ………………………..Healthier than average lifestyle
A score of 25-39 ………………………..Average lifestyle
A score of 0-25 …………………............Below average: need for overall improvement
Scores of less than 3 in any one area……Need for improvement in that area.

Learn to Handle Stress
Stress is a normal part of living. Everyone faces it to some degree. The causes of stress can be good or bad, desirable or undesirable (such as a promotion on the job or the loss of a spouse). Properly handled, stress need not be a problem. But unhealthy responses to stress – such as driving too fast or erratically, drinking too much, or prolonged anger or grief – can cause a variety of physical and mental problems. Even on a busy day, find a few minutes to slow down and relax. Talking over a problem with someone you trust can often help you find a satisfactory solution. Learn to distinguish between things that are “worth fighting about” and things that are less important.

Be Safety Conscious
Think “safety first” at home, work, school, play, and on the highway. Buckle seat belts and obey traffic rules. Keep poisons and weapons out of reach of children, and emergency numbers by your telephone. When the unexpected happens, you’ll be prepared.

Start by asking yourself a few frank questions. Am I really doing all I can to be as healthy as possible? What steps can I take to feel better? Am I willing to begin now? If you scored low in one or more sections of the test, decide what changes you want to make for improvement. You might pick that aspect of your lifestyle where you feel you have the bets chance for success and tackle that one first. Once you have improved your score there, go on to other areas.

If you already have tried to change your health habits (e.g., stop smoking or exercise regularly), don’t be discouraged if you haven’t yet succeeded. The difficulty you have encountered may be due to influences you’ve never thought about (such as advertising) or to a lack of support and encouragement. Understanding these influences is an important step toward changing the way they affect you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Training with a Friend ~ Accountability at Its Best!

For most people workout out is done out of need. The need to lose weight. The need to strengthen muscles. The need to relieve stress. The need to do something productive. Point being, most people do not find going to the gym an easy task.

Some people are more successful at making it a habit if they workout in the morning. Others find it convenient to swing by the gym on their way home from work. And many find it easier to partner-up with a workout friend, as various studies have found people who have workout partners are three times more likely to exercise.

Generally speaking, most people find it easier to do things in pairs, or small groups. Often, it is for the company; however, the underlying benefit of having a workout buddy is accountability.

As the alarm starts buzzing, it is easy to say, "I'll workout later" and hit snooze. But if you have a neighbor or friend who is meeting you at the gym, you are more likely to groan and then get out of bed, knowing someone is depending on you. It is also easy to head home after work claiming, "I have had a bad day. I'll workout tomorrow morning instead." But knowing there is another tired coworker waiting makes you more accountable.

It is also easier to have a friend or family member dieting with you. When you are out at the local Mexican restaurant craving cheesy nachos, your fellow dieter will help you put your cravings in perspective. You will respect his/her opinion when he/she tells you "no" because you are sharing the struggle together.

And finally, let's be honest - working out or dieting with a buddy brings out our competitive side. If we spend our downtime eating excessively or not exercising, we are bound to be upset when our buddy proudly exclaims, "I've lost 5 pounds and shrunk an inch in my hips!"

So with summer here, grab a friend or family member and formulate a workout plan that works best for both of you. And don't forget to reward yourselves after reaching one of your goals. Just because you sweat together doesn't mean you can't celebrate the first reached goal by sharing a nacho plate - light cheese though!

Friday, May 29, 2009

"When the Well's dry, we know the Worth of Water" - B. Franklin

W.H. Auden wisely stated, "Thousands have lived without love, not one without water."

While we have all been told to drink anywhere from six to eight glasses of water a day, most of us do not. Sure, we drink a water bottle's worth during our workouts. We ask our waiter to being us a glass when we are at dinner. But we rarely sip water throughout the day; instead choosing to enjoy a coffee in the morning, Coke at lunch and wine at dinner.

I'm sure you have heard the basic benefits of water consumption when it comes to things like clear skin, basic hydration and weight loss. However, there are more vital reasons and statistics that will leave you looking for the nearest drinking fountain.

Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated (and that likely applies to half the world population)?

It leaves me to wonder, why a nation so blessed with extravagance and an abundance of resources would take for granted the most beneficial resource pertaining to our health and well being. We have purifiers, distillers, water with carbonation, water without carbonation...all at our fingertips. Yet, if you look across the oceans you will find people so desperate for water they drink from gutters, gulping water filled with contaminants.

Did you know drinking five glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer?

Imagine that you can help yourself that much by simply drinking water every day. With healthcare in limbo and prescription prices continually rising, having the ability to partake in active prevention methods is a luxury many cannot afford NOT to take.

Did you know a mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or printed page?

Work days seem longer, lunch breaks shorter and our concentration levels often plummet towards the end of the day. While there are any number of reasons for the dragging feeling we get at the end of the day, lack of water is a leading cause. The next time you feel your brain drifting to a place far away from the task at hand, try drinking a full glass of ice water and see what happens.

Lastly, we are all jumping on and off the fit train at various times throughout our lives. We cut calories by cutting food intake. We deprive ourselves of the red velvet cupcake we love. We run an extra mile after indulging in too much wine. But we rarely attribute weight loss or weight gain to water consumption.

In fact, one glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters in a recent U-Washington study. In addition, the thirst mechanism in 37% of Americans is so weak it is often mistaken for hunger.

Most assume dieting is all about subtraction, but it is also about addition. The addition of water will help increase your metabolism. Ironically, even MILD dehydration will slow down your metabolism as much as 3%, making weight loss more difficult despite diet changes and exercise increases.

The next time to find yourself fatigued in the middle of the work day, drink water. The next time you jump on the fit train in hopes of shedding a few unwanted pounds, remember to consistently consume water. True, it is at our fingertips but not all are so lucky...take advantage of this natural prevention method and help yourself combat the daily wear and tear on the body.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Don't Fry Day"

Today is Don't Fry Day, designated by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to help raise public awareness of skin cancer and prevention methods as we all prepare for the kick-off to summer!

The Friday before Memorial Day is the perfect time to remind people of the serious affects from UV exposure, as well as reiterate the various ways we can protect our skin while still enjoying the warm temps and the glorious sun.

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in his or her lifetime.

As I am sure many of you would attest, we become wiser with age. As teenagers, we rarely apply adequate amounts of sunscreen (despite mom's reminders) in hopes of attaining that bronze glow. I can remember lathering-up in tanning oil, and as long as it had SPF 4 I believed I was protected. I rarely burned, and if I did "it would turn into a tan the next day." After all, I had Portuguese in my blood and olive colored skin, so I was immune to skin cancer.

During the summer of 2005, I noticed a mole on my inner thigh. I thought nothing of it, and simply said to my doctor, "Will you please check this, so my mother will stop nagging me about it?" She biopsied it that day.

I had malignant melanoma.

One week later I was at MD Anderson in Houston, sitting in a waiting room staring at people that looked as normal as I did. But I also saw men and women with bodies scarred from surgeries; disfigured faces that resembled the spot a nose or ear once existed.

I know that visual is graphic, but it is reality.

Many assume, myself once included, that our earlier sun exposure will not affect us. On the contrary, one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.

Now, you may not get melanoma; however, there are three types of skin cancer that affect Americans yearly.

* Basil Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. This type is rarely fatal, but can be highly disfiguring.

* Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, and accounts for nearly 2,500 deaths.

* Melanoma is the most serious of skin cancers. The incidence of melanoma continues to rise significantly, and at a faster rate than any of the seven most common cancers.

Tanning beds are another culprit in the steady rise of skin cancer . In fact, frequent tanners using the new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure.

I have always felt a bit hypocritical preaching to people about tanning, when I was once an avid tanner myself. To be honest with you all, I crave tanning. I miss it during the summer. I often find myself resenting those who tan, because despite my surgery and all my follow-up appointments, and despite the large scar that serves as a daily reminder, I still yearn to lay by the pool for hours with my tanning oil in one hand and an umbrella drink in the other.

But we all struggle to do things for the betterment of ourselves. We diet to maintain a healthy weight, even when we'd rather eat ice cream and cookies. We go for long arduous runs when we'd rather sit on the couch. So look at skin cancer prevention in the same manner. Enjoy the sun, in moderation and always protect yourself. The bronze glow may take longer to achieve, but it will look better than a scary hospital stay that ends in scarring and an everlasting effect on your body and well being.

So, as summer approaches, this day serves as a reminder to all of us to treat our bodies with respect. Here are a few skin cancer prevention guidelines:

* Seek the shade, especially between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.
* Do not burn.
* Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
* Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
* Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours.
* Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
* Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
* Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
* See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

For additional information on skin cancer prevention, or to locate the sources for the information used in this article click here.

Stay safe in the sun, and enjoy the gorgeous weather than lies ahead.

Don't forget your hat and sunscreen!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gardening Is A Workout - Believe It Or Not!

The weather has finally turned here in the Midwest. The humidity is rising daily and April showers have left glorious May flowers.

Surely, you are beginning to hit the bike trails and the various parks in your area. If you are like most, your weekends now involve a bit of gardening. Nothing sends out the "Spring Has Sprung" vibe quite like freshly planted tulips, or a vibrant new hydrangea bush.

But, pulling out the old and planting the new can be a bigger strain on your bodies than you might think.

In fact, I had a friend tell me yesterday, "I know I only gardened this weekend, but there are parts of my body that are really sore."

That's because we have all been relatively dormant throughout the cold winter months, and now we are going to shock our muscles when we suddenly begin squatting, lifting heavy objects, and using all our strength to dig!

While many see gardening as a leisure activity involving sitting, moving dirt and fluffing mulch, it actually requires muscles we don't regularly use...especially in that particular fashion.

So before you rush out to the garage and grab your worn-in gardening gloves and your plethora of tools, take time to prepare your body.

Start by doing simple stretches. Then, begin with some squats. These are great for engaging your neglected buns, hips and thighs - No, sitting down and getting up from the couch all winter doesn't count as a good workout. Now, take some light weights and work your arms, preparing them for the digging that is about to happen. Do a few sets of bicep curls, as well as tricep dips.

This doesn't have to be an intense workout, you just need to reintroduce your muscles to some rigorous movements. Don't forget to do some stretching as well; this will also help minimize soreness after your gardening day.

Remember not to push yourself. You will be sore the next day, but preparing your muscles through stretching and strength training will have a positive impact on how sore you will be the day after.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Want Steady Results? Be Careful Not To Over-Train!

As summer approaches, we often find ourselves working out much harder, and much more frequently that usual. All in hopes of shedding those few extra pounds before we have to exchange figure hiding sweatshirts for clingy tank tops.

While it is true that doing extra cardio will help drop the pounds a little faster, over-training can have the opposite effect.

It is crucial for our bodies receive the appropriate amount of recovery to allow for the aerobic and/or anaerobic system to be replenished.

Some common signs or symptoms of over-training are:

- Impaired physical performance
- Reduced enthusiasm and desire for training
- Increased resting heart rate
- Increased resting blood pressure
- Chronic muscle or joint soreness
- Increased incidence of colds and infections
- Increased perceived exertion during normal workouts
- Reduced appetite
- Dramatic weight loss/gain
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Increased depression, irritability or anxiety

Specific warning signs should be addressed even on a daily basis.
You need to downgrade or eliminate a day's workout if:

- Inability to obtain a normal training heart rate
- Need excessive recovery time (e.g. during intervals)
- Heart rate that skyrockets with minimal effort
These warming signs, if ignored, can greatly increase the likelihood of injury or illness.
We all want to see results, and in society today we are even more susceptible to the "I want it, and I want it now" mentality. However, over-training can result in serious injury which will push those desired results back even further.

Be Persistent. Be Patient. And You Will See Results!

Alcoholic Drinks & Their Caloric Values

When you go out for a happy hour drink with friends, and it turns into a late night, do you ever wonder how many calories you actually consumed by the end of the evening? Here are some fun caloric values for some of our favorite drinks:

- Long Island Iced Tea (8oz): 780
- Chocolate Martini: 438
- White Russian: 425
- Hot Cocoa & Peppermint Schnapps: 380
- Pina Colada (6oz): 378
- Eggnog with Rum (8oz): 370
- Mai Tai (6oz): 350
- Coffee Liqueur (3oz): 348
- Godiva Chocolate Liqueur (3oz): 310

......................................................That's a lot of calories!

Drinks with a Lighter Touch!

- Ultra-Light Beer (12oz): 64-95
- Mimosa (4oz): 75
- Mike's Hard Lemonade (11oz): 98
- Light Beer (12oz): 95-136
- Wine Spritzer (5oz): 100
- Rum & Diet Coke (8oz): 100
- Champagne (5oz): 106-120
- Bloody Mary (5oz): 118
- Red Wine (5oz): 120
- White Wine (5oz): 120
- Port Wine (3oz): 128
- Martini (2.5oz): 160

******calorie references from WebMD

As you can see, every bit of alcohol you drink contains calories...some less than others. This list should help you decide which drinks are worth increasing your daily caloric intake for, and which you'd rather pass on.

Avoiding Vacation Weight Gain While Still Enjoying the Cuisine

What are your plans for the upcoming months? A gondola ride in Venice? Sleeping under a grass hut in Aruba? Climbing Machu Picchu? Bungee jumping in New Zealand? Sipping vodka in Russia?

Whether your travels take you to exotic lands, or a campground down the road, I can almost guarantee you will come home with a few extra pounds. But you don't have to.

Camping will tempt you with smores. Venice will tantalize your taste buds with pasta and cannolis. And Arubans will place fancy drinks with cute umbrellas in your hand almost immediately.

Traveling is a time to immerse yourself in the culture. Drink the locals' favorite beverage. Sample the native cuisine. Enjoy happy hour at the local pub.

Vacation is not a time to stress over calories. However, it is a time to be cognisant of what you are consuming, how much and what activity you are performing to counteract the calorie increase.

Indulge in your favorite cocktail...once, not all day. Eat authentic Italian pasta...but choose the red tomato based sauce, not Alfredo or cream sauce.
Visiting a new town, city or country is the perfect opportunity to lace-up your walking shoes and take to the streets. Take the centuries-old stairs instead of the modern elevator. Explore the city by foot rather than tour bus. Choose to dine at quaint local restaurants instead of chain establishments reached only by car. Get a local map from the hotel and go exploring, stopping at galleries and landmarks along the way. Rent a bicycle and take in the sights and smells along the trails.
If you keep your activity level raised, there is no reason you can't enjoy a mouthwatering cannoli, while still keeping your figure in tact.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is Your Diet Coke Making You Gain Weight?

Is diet soda better for us than regular soda? As the weather begins to turn warm, we begin to crave an ice cold beverage. Gone are the days of hot herbal tea. Instead, we find ourselves indulging in soda, sweet tea and an ice cold beer.

We all know beer will undoubtedly add pounds around our midsection, and a refreshing glass of sweet tea is loaded with sugar. However, many of us are misled in believing diet soda has little to no effect compared to regular soda.


In a study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, it was discovered that people drinking ONLY diet soda were at a GREATER risk to become obese than those consuming regular soda.

In fact, for each can of diet soft drink consumed each day, a person's risk of obesity went up 41%

For regular soft drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:

- 26% for up to 1/2 can each day
- 30.4% for up to 1 can each day
- 32.8% for 1 to 2 cans each day
- 47.2% for more than 2 cans each day

For diet soft drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:

- 36.5% for up to 1/2 can each day
- 37.5% for 1/2 to 1 can each day
- 54.5% for 1 to 2 cans each day
- 57.1% for more than 2 cans each day

This is not to say diet soda causes obesity. Rather, it shows that something linked to diet soda drinking is also linked to obesity. Many believe giving your body something that tastes sweet, but lacks actual calories, leads our bodies to search for the calories promised but not delivered.

Some soft drink studies do suggest that diet drinks stimulate appetite. Others link artificial sweeteners to multiple illnesses.

I am not saying that you can never have another diet soda. I know that is probably an impossible request. However, if you are gaining weight despite eating healthy, or are feeling a bit "unlike" your usual self, try cutting out soda all together.

You will see a difference in both your overall health, as well as your weight loss effort!