Exercise

Drink Up – Stay Hydrated

Okay, so here’s the deal. I hate to talk negative about the Summer season, as it comes and goes so quickly but it’s HOT out there right now and I just want to remind you of something.

We all know the benefits of drinking water to keep our system flushed out, and to give us a feeling of full.  But do me a favor….in this season of heat, please sip on water throughout the day – yes, even if you‘re inside in the central air.

Be aware of how quickly the hot weather can really zap your energy levels and you can easily get dehydrated.  It’s probably the only time you should be extra cautious about exercising outdoors – it’s one of those rare moments where you don’t have to feel guilty.  I KNOW what you’re thinking, trust me.

Also, try to stay away from alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Just drink good old-fashion water!

In this oppressive heat, sometimes it takes our desire to eat away – amazing how that happens isn’t it!. But do not neglect the liquid. Drink up please!  And stay safe out there until this weather system passes.

Recipe for Starting Day Off Right!

Combine the following to start your day off right:
5 mile stretch of road with very little cars and a lot of hills
1 gorgeous cloud-less 70 degree day
30 rock-n-roll songs from the 70’s (did we really listen to that – oh well, had a beat, kept me walkin’)
2 beautiful butterflies fluttering away in front of me
2 healthy legs
and
1 dose of healthy humor when garden snake crosses your path in front of you

So I had some time this morning and took a walk. Got me thinking, wishing, that every day could be like this.  It was just one of those splendid days in West Michigan where you think it can’t get any better.

If you don’t have the day off, take the time to “move along” in whatever capacity you can. I happen to work in a building with long hallways, and some days I have to consciously and purposely make myself take a walk.  Granted, it’s not as exciting as walking outside but if it’s too hot, humid, rainy, or you’re just stuck inside, take advantage of any little thing you can to get moving.

And then after work, get outside for 15, 30, 60 or however many minutes you can squeeze out and just enjoy THIS DAY.

3 Cheers for Vacations!

I’m one of those lucky ones that typically come back from vacations a few pounds lighter.  My delicate stomach tends to act up even more while traveling so we have a tendency to NOT hit the fancy restaurants or “eat along the way” as the food smells hit your senses.

I’m not going to say it doesn’t kill me not to partake, but in the end it’s not worth it to me to look for restrooms all along the way – and my husband saves a boatload of money by not splurging on meals for me. Although, let me make this clear, he does a good job in splurging me with other things! He’s a good guy, I must say. So good for me, I’m coming back a few pounds lighter – I’ll take that.

I am still amazed however that we averaged walking 8 miles a day, and I thought that once I got home (which I am now) that there would be no excuse for at least walking 5 miles – after all, it’s 3 miles less and I could certainly do that!

But the day started out with a million things to do and while I was active it was nothing near the activity I had for this past week. And then to my amusement I went out to water the flowers and thought to myself it’s way too hot and I hurried to get done so I could get back inside to the coolness.

That was two excuses – too hot and a million things to do. Isn’t it amazing how we can find excuses to NOT exercise.  My husband keeps telling me that even though it’s the same temperature here as it was in our vacation spot, the humidity is the killer.  Yeah, I thought, it’s too humid. Excuse number three.  Then daughter called and wondered if I wanted to play tennis, and off I went, with a million things to do on a hot, humid day and had a rousing game of tennis.

In spite of the hassles of vacations (those hassles are few and far between for me) they are rewarding in that they break the monotony of every day life. I was definitely in a rut before I left and I feel better, refreshed now.  I do realize a lot of people can’t go thousand of miles to get rejuvenated but you can take a day or two off to do whatever you want with whomever you want – or do absolutely nothing with just yourself.

The point is (that sometimes) in order to value and reinvigorate your mental, spiritual, and physical health, you have to shake it up every now and then.

I’m Walking on Sunshine – and don’t it feel good!

My husband and I decided to go West for a week where we hoped the sun would be plentiful (it’s been missing a lot recently in Michigan), and the sites would be many. Upon deciding to visit the Grand Canyon I knew there would be a lot of walking and I wanted to know how much walking I could actually do when it wasn’t a “required exercise time” for me.

So I put on a pedometer and we walked and walked and walked taking in the vast, expansive landscape and appreciated the sunny, crisp cool air as we hiked along enjoying each others company.

To my surprise we walked just a little over 12,000 steps. I was amazed, partly because it seemed so effortless and partly that would explain why my legs felt the way they did! I don’t have the high elevation issues at home, nor do I tend to walk up hill so much as we did but it was by far one of the most beautiful walks of my life.

Well I was delighted to find out that walking 10,000 steps is the approximate equivalent of walking 5 miles but I have to admit I don‘t know how someone figured that out, or what is considered “the best“ or “the right“ amount of steps you should do everyday. I did however find the following information that you might find helpful:

Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke has been studying pedometer walking and released an opinion in the January, 2004 issue of “Sports Medicine.”

Based on the best evidence as of the end of 2003, Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke recommends the following:

Classification of pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults:
1) Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a “sedentary lifestyle index”
2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered “low active.”
3) 7,500-9,999 likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered “somewhat active.”
4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as “active”.
5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as “highly active”.

I was inspired by the amount of activity that we did and there’s just something about being out in the fresh air that seems so revitalizing. So after a night of resting up we’re off to do more exploring over in Nevada (primarily Las Vegas), and I KNOW you can do a lot of walking around there – my goal, is over 12,000 steps a day! Even when I get back home. What is your goal?

LOST: High Energy Metabolism – If Found, Please Call

A friend asked the pertinent question the other day – where has my metabolism gone? I thought that was a fair question, especially when you hit a certain age!

As I shared with you recently, I just found out my thyroid is not fully functioning and I’ve been struggling with a slow (very slow metabolism). But we all know that as we get older our metabolism slows down too, and there are ways of stoking the fire again so our ‘internal fire’ burns more efficiently. But it can get extremely frustrating when you feel that you’re doing all the right things – such as changing your diet and exercise – and yet you’re always sputtering and fluttering along. Nothing seems to change.

The flip side of that is you know you’re not doing everything you should – such as changing your diet and exercise – and you’re just struggling to get through some days because of stress and life circumstances. And then there’s always ‘health issues’ that can cause your metabolism to slow (or stop).

Weirdly enough our metabolism can get stuck whether we’re really trying (and nothing is happening with the scale), or life is so stressful and you’re not doing anything about your weight situation.  So I thought it might be helpful to look at what metabolism is and what it does (health line.com).

Metabolism is simply how many calories you burn in a day. Your Resting Metabolism makes up the majority of your total metabolism.

Total metabolism for the day is made up of:
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): the number of calories it takes to keep your body going without any movement (brain function, heart, lungs, muscle, etc)
Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): the number of calories that your body actually burns digesting food
Physical Activity (PA): the number of calories you burn moving around all day during your normal activities
Thermic Effect of Exercise (TEE): the number of calories you burn doing planned exercise

Most people’s total metabolism each day is about 1800-2200 for women and 2200-2600 for men. The more you move, the higher your metabolism.

Factors that influence metabolism:
Gender: Men tend to have a faster metabolism (burn more calories) than women. Ladies, do you think this isn’t fair? What do men have more of than women?
Muscle Mass: The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn all day long. Muscle is metabolically active 24 hours per day. If you have more muscle, you will burn more calories while you sit at your computer reading these blogs, drive in your car, and most importantly, you will burn more calories while you sleep. How awesome is that?
Age: The number one reason people’s metabolism slows as they age……..they lose muscle.
Heredity: Some people are just genetically gifted with a faster metabolism than others. They can eat a lot more calories than most people and not gain weight. If you are one of these people, thank your parents for good genes!

5 Ways to Keep Up with Your Exercise Plan

Do you struggle with making exercise a priority? I do! Sometimes it is VERY HARD to get motivated when the weather isn’t quite right, the gym is “out of your way,” or you’re just not feeling particularly healthy.

If you’ve ever have one of those days (or many of those days) where you are just feeling stuck and can’t quite make exercise a priority, here are some ideas:

1.  Start small and be realistic. Don’t set off on a 25 mile walk without building up to it. Your exercise goals should be small and realistic so you can have success at attaining something positive.

2.  This goes hand in hand with the previous mentioned but be specific with your exercise plan. Know what days you will exercise and for how long: “Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 20 minute walks” and build up to more as your strength and stamina improve.

Don’t forget to change things up. Instead of walking three times a week, mix it up with riding bikes or taking a once-a-week exercise class.

3.  An exercise buddy can help you be more accountable to an exercise plan. Some people need that. Make sure that your exercise partner is reliable and encouraging and this could actually be a fun time to get together.

4.  Keep track of your progress. It can be as simple as putting a small letter and number, like W30 (for walking 30 minutes), or B15 (for biking 15 minutes) on the calendar on the days you exercised. Then at the end of the month, take a look back at all the days you accomplished your exercise plan.

Also, don’t forget those deliberate walks you take at work for your lunch time or break time – it all adds up!

5. Exercise can get a little….well, quite frankly, boring for all of us. Find a way to make exercise more inspiring and engaging for you by listening to music, or watching tv, or even reading while you‘re working out.

Spring into Exercise!

Spring always seems like a good time to reset our thinking about exercise. Probably because of longer days of light (yea) and nicer weather (double yea), it’s a natural thing to start thinking of those days of wearing shorts, short-sleeved shirts and maybe a sundress or two.

In case you haven’t noticed, in the world of health and fitness, goal setting is very important. And there’s good reason for that. So whether you just want to relieve stress or truly get your body back in tip top shape, have a goal in mind. Decide how long you can exercise, and how many days a week, and be realistic about your goal.

In working with people through the years with their weight loss goals, I remind them that you shouldn’t put down a goal of exercising 5 times a week if you really can’t.

The goal is to SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS. If you can only set aside time (this week) to exercise 2 times for one hour, then for this week work on attaining that particular goal.

Some other helpful hints are to find a friend or a co-worker who can go to the gym with you or  on a couple power walks with you. Having someone exercise with you can motivate you and help you to commitment to your workouts.

Also, find several activities that you like to do, and change up your exercise routines when you feel yourself getting bored with the same old thing.  Mix it up with Kickboxing classes, long walks, biking, yoga – lots of different activities!

3 Reasons to Exercise and Fight Stress

I recently had the opportunity to have some time off and I had a list of  work-related “Things to Do” and a Kick-Butt Attitude in which to accomplish everything.   At the beginning of the week I rubbed my hands together in excitement about all the tasks I was going to conquer, and I had a game plan about how I was going to plow my way through each thing.

Then the first day came and went and I didn’t quite get to everything I wanted to. I tried reminding myself of the importance of being flexible, and maybe I needed to start my week of tasks the next day. But the next day was starting out the same way!  Whoa. I had to take a step back when I realized that my shoulders were up to my ear lobes all the time and I was carrying around a slight headache.

Stress was building and my joy of time spent doing the things I needed and wanted to do was slowly dwindling.  I had to start taking my own advice that I dole out to others and distress. For me that means MOVING because MOVING helps me think differently. Information given by the Mayo Clinic tells us that exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. (I needed some pep in my step for sure).

Exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits:

1.  It pumps up your endorphins: Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

2.  It’s meditation in motion: After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain clam and clear in everything that you do.

3.  It improves your mood: Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can east your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

So I started walking. I started going to exercise classes everyday at the gym. I started moving.  In spite of a very cloudy and chilly week, I got in front of my stress and gained control.  Did I accomplish EVERYTHING that I wanted to? NO, but the time off made me recognize the value of friendships, the importance of time spent with family members, and that my work will always be there (in fact it multiplies at times) but nothing is more important than taking care of yourself first.

Healing Benefits of Sunshine!

I’m wondering how many people are feeling the effects of yesterdays 80 degree weather day here in good ol’ West Michigan.  And by “effects” I mean aching body’s and sunburn faces from all the activity and warm gorgeous sun that graced us all day long.

What a welcome change from a long, dull winter – it always is. I saw faces in the neighborhood for the first time since last Fall. I saw houses with the windows wide open. I saw bikers on the roadways. Lots of bikers. There were people walking their dogs. And people in their convertibles, with their hair whipping wildly in the wind. I saw motorcyle riders, and lots of people golfing.

The sunshine seems to bring instant psychological reprieve for those of you who struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The sunshine brightens moods of people who deal with depression, it can lift the spirits of those who feel at their lowest. Sunshine is also an important source of vitamin D – and for those of you who struggle with low levels of vitamin D (like myself), you know how that effects your energy and motivation.

There is something very healing about sunshine. I can’t describe it but I know that internally you feel what you see around you externally. Everything seems brighter. Cheerier. And you feel you can conquer things differently. Sunshine makes you want to move, and exercise releases chemicals in the brain – you know, those “feel good chemicals” that help you physically and mentally.

So today may be a lot “cooler” than it was yesterday – and that’s okay. For right now, I can live on the thoughts that better days are a comin’ and until they get here I can enjoy the day I’ve been given to me today. Sunshine or not.  Although I prefer SUN!

4 Ways to Look at Your Exercise Equipment!

Thought you’d get a kick out of this!
Hope you have a healthy, successful, Thinking Thin week.