Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Weekly Wednesday Quotavation

This quote is one that I agree with but also disagree with.  I am a firm believer that in order to make progress in fitness you have to take risks, or push yourself harder than normal,.  How will we ever know how much we can accomplish if we never challenge ourselves.  This doesn't, however, mean that you have to push yourself so hard that you jeopardize safety or health.

"If you don't make mistakes, you aren't really trying" - Unknown

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Attitude - which one do you have?

All of us have an attitude, the question is, is it a positive attitude or negative attitude?  The type of attitude you have can affect how you live your life and the things that happen around you.

Believe it or not, having a good attitude is a choice.  Having a good attitude will lead to positive circumstances. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, in such, that if you have a negative attitude, negative circumstances will occur.

Attitudes can be changed but only if a person wants to alter his/her state of mind.  According to James Patterson, PhD., FACSM, "people are either the master of their situations or the victims of their attitude".  You can make your attitude whatever you want, you just have to be willing and choose to change.

So why do people have different attitudes?  "All people are born as distinct individuals, with certain characteristics that can affect the attitudes that they hold", says Patterson.  There are, however, other factors that ultimately affect which type of attitude each of us develops.  Some of these factors include your temperament, environment, self-image, how you look physically, your family, and the success you have in life.  In fact, a person is more likely to be successful and be happy in life if they carry a positive attitude.  Have you noticed that you are able to achieve more when maintaining a positive attitude?  If you tend to look at most things negatively, you will probably experience much less success.

One key component of a positive attitude, is that you learn to deal with failures.  You have the ability to see the positive benefits that can be gained from setbacks/failures, etc.  A perfect example of this is a quote from Michael Jordan, arguably the most talented athlete ever to play basketball, and one of the greatest athletes of all time.  "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I've lost more than 300 games.  26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed".  

Attitudes can be contagious too.  What I mean by this, is that others like to be around those who have a positive attitude, and those with negative attitudes are usually avoided by others.  Positive people tend to display a level of energy that attracts others.  Think for a second why you like certain people and why you dislike others...makes sense doesn't it?

Our attitudes can also determine the outcome of our actions.  If you stay positive during a certain project or event, it can help ensure success in the end.  I can attest to this from my own personal experience.  During the days I was racing 24-hour solo mountain bike events, I used to think more negative thoughts during the late night /early morning hours of the race.  Instead of saying to myself, "I have only completed 12 hours", I would say, "I've already completed 12 hours and only have 12 more to go".  A simple fix in my thinking allowed me to get through those rough hours much easier.  Another simple thing I did (which was recommended by a former coach of mine, Thomas Chapple) was to post a mantra (positive saying) on my stem so that I could look at it and be reminded of positive thoughts.  I would write things such as "be strong", "I am a fit athlete", or "I finish Top 3".  Keep a positive attitude and good things will eventually happen.

According to Patterson, "a person with a positive attitude sees an opportunity in every catastrophe, whereas an individual who harbors negativity tends to see a catastrophe in every opportunity.  The key is to make the most of every situation.  Positive people respond in a positive way to their circumstances, whatever they might be".

I hope this has given you some food for thought.  Pay attention to your attitude at work, with friends, and during an event you participate in.  If you find that it is more negative than positive, just know that you can change it by choosing to do so.  Just like all things in life, it takes time to make a change.  Very few things happen over night.  Now stay positive in life and with your goals...whatever they may be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weekly Wednesday Quotavation

This quote was shared by a friend...

"If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning". - Gandhi

Here is another similar quote from Mahatma Gandhi, who was one of the most pivotal figures in India's history.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will".

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Heart Health

Did you know that February is American Heart Month?  Most of us probably were not even  aware of this.  So in my efforts to educate and inspire, I felt the need to write about how to improve our heart health.

"According to the American Heart Association, heart disease (including stroke) is the leading cause of death for both men and women.  In fact, heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year".  I'm going to repeat this in case you think you misread it, heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 American each year!!!

The most common heart condition in the USA is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when there is a build up of plaque in the coronary arteries.  As the plaque builds up in the arteries, it begins to thicken and harden, causing our arteries to become narrow which is known as atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis decreases the amount of blood that can be delivered to the heart, causing chest pain or discomfort.  Over time this will cause the heart muscle (yes the heart is a muscle) to weaken and can result in abnormal heart rhythms.  Even worse, if the arteries are completely blocked by plaque build up, it may result in a heart attack.  "Nearly half of all heart attacks happen to people who look to be in great shape", says Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen.

By now you may be asking yourself who is at risk (or am I at risk) for heart disease.  Some of the major risk factors for heart disease include:
    *those over age 50
    *family history of heart disease
    *a sedentary lifestyle
    *high blood pressure
    *elevated cholesterol levels
In order to prevent heart disease, you may have to make a lifestyle change or continue to live a healthy lifestyle.   To help reduce your risk of heart disease, try quitting smoking, begin to exercise regularly (minimum of 30 min. 3 times a week), and eat healthier meals that include less saturated fats.  In a recent  Danish study of 49,000 women, those who ate fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids were 90% less likely to have heart disease than the non-fish eaters.  Now that is an alarming statistic. 

"The United States Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends a periodic lipid profile for men aged 35 and older and women 45 and older".  This is a blood test that measures your total cholesterol levels and highlights the amount of LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol.  Here is some useful cholesterol information to help you decide which foods you should eat and which to avoid.  Remember it's always best to discuss any changes with your doctor first.

Inflammation can also play a role in causing heart disease.  Inflammation can be caused by eating a poor diet; eating foods such as sugary foods (soda, pastries), and highly processed foods can increase the number of LDL cholesterol.  

Johnathon Fialkow, MD, FACC, FAHA, FABCL, Medical Director of EKG, Stress Lab and Cardiac Rehabilitation at the Baptist Cardiac and Vascular Institute in Miami, FL says that "any condition that causes inflammation can increase your risk of heart disease".  Here is a list of foods to eat that help minimize inflammation in the body.

    *Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
    *Minimize saturated fat intake (hydrogenated oils, whole fat dairy foods)
    *Eat plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids (fish, fish oil, Omega-3 eggs, flaxseed)
    *Limit refined carbohydrates (white rice, bread)
    *Eat plenty of lean protein foods (chicken, fish, turkey)
    *Avoid processed foods

If you are at risk of heart disease or know of someone who is at risk, exercise and strength training should be incorporated into your regular routine.  According to Dr. Michael Shapiro, Director of Preventative Cardiology, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Radiology at OHSU, "people with heart disease who do not exercise are taking a greater risk".   It's been proven that exercise improves your quality of life, gives you more energy, and decreases your risk of cancer, stroke, and osteoporosis.  What more motivation than that do we need to exercise?  If you are new to exercise you can start with 5 minutes and do it several times throughout the day (aim for a total of 30 minutes).  

So now that you have a better understanding of what foods help prevent heart disease and some of the risk factors that cause heart disease, let's all do our part to make this a very healthy American Heart Month.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weekly Wednesday Quotavation

This week's quote is one that is so powerful in the fitness industry.  If there is one quote that motivates you, make it this one.

"Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Interval training

Are you bored with your exercise routine?
Do you feel like you are plateauing with your exercise goals?
Do you want to increase muscle and lose fat?
Do you want to achieve optimal results in a time-efficient workout?

If you answered yes to any one of these, or all of them, then Interval Training is for you.  Interval training consists of alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.  Although you may find this to be intimidating, or think it is only used on elite athletes, you just need to be able to change speeds while doing cardio activity for it to be effective.  There is a recent trend in HIIT (high Intensity Interval Training) classes  in local gyms/Athletic Clubs.  However, in a recent article published by Micah Zuhl, MS, and Len Kravitz, PhD, HIIT has been around for many centuries.  Apparently in 1912 a Finnish Olympic distance runner by the name of Hannes Kolehmainen was was using HIIT during his training.  It's just that lately we (aka: exercise scientists) have been doing more research and are able to report the benefits.

We have been accustomed to trying to improve our cardiovascular endurance through the traditional method of continuous aerobic exercise and steady increases in training volume.  With HIIT you can accomplish the same benefits (and in some cases better improvement), just in a shorter time.  And considering the "go, go, go" mentality of most of us, this is very appealing.

Here are some advantages of performing high intensity intervals:

    * the more vigorous you exercise, the more calories you burn, even if they are short intervals.  We've all heard the phrase "boost your metabolism to lose fat", and that is exactly what you will be doing with intervals.  Interval training results in a caloric deficit anywhere from several minutes to several hours after your workout due to the elevation of your metabolic rate.  By improving your aerobic fitness, you will be able to increase the length of each interval and with more intensity.
     *by increasing the length and intensity of each interval you will build new capillaries and be better able to take in and deliver oxygen to working muscles.  
If you answered yes to the first questions at the top, then this will be a value benefit to you.
     *adding variety to your current workouts will help keep things fun and exciting.  Doing the same 30-45 min workout activity for extended periods of time will not cut it.  Your body will eventually begin to adapt, and this will NOT allow you to reach maximum results.
     *adding intervals to your routine can help prevent injuries.   Injuries can occur from repetitive endurance activities such as running and cycling.  Interval training allows you to increase your intensity without over-training or burning out.

The length of the intervals can be adjusted according to your fitness level.  As you improve your cardiovascular endurance, you will be able to (and want to) increase your length of each interval and decrease the rest intervals.  In a study (Daussin et al 2008) comparing VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption) responses between men and women during an 8-week HIIT program and continuous cardiovascular training program, VO2 max increases were higher in the HIIT program by 6% (15% compared to 9%).

It's clear that both methods of training will reap rewards, so don't just do one or the other.  For the most bang for your buck, include some continuous aerobic exercise along with some HIIT and enjoy the results.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In sickness and in health

When I chose to get married 7 years ago, I decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life with my wife to be.  As the minister read the verse, " sickness and in health", I said "I do".  We chose to live healthy, active lives together and hopefully for a long, long time.

Not surprising then, that researchers from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter found that when a husband or wife makes a healthy lifestyle change, the spouse is dramatically more likely to follow suit.  "In fact, whenever one person begins an exercise program, his or her partner is 50% more likely to do the same".  Seems we really do want to grow old gracefully with our loved one.

Fortunately, the same holds true for those who smoke.  When when of the partners quit smoking, it's said that the other is 5 times more likely to quit as well.  Healthy lifestyle changes are addictive after all.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Weekly Wednesday Quotavation

"Happiness comes only when we push our brains and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capable" - Leo Rosten

Questionnaire #2 Answers

Here are the results from my Health/Fitness/Nutrition Questionnaire #2 posted last week.
If you took the time to answer them, I hope you did well.  If you would like to see the questions again, see the questions here...Education is power.

1.  B
2.  A
3.  D
4.  A
5.  C
6.  D
7.  D
8.  D
9.  D
10. A

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to get motivated to workout after work

If you are not a morning workout person, do you tend to skip workouts because of a long day at work, an after-work "happy hour", or just don't have the energy to hit the gym.  Juggling family, work and exercise is not easy, and the larger the family the harder it gets.  This doesn't mean that you still cannot get in your daily jolt of exercise (whether it be 20 or 60 min).  Here are 8 ways to get motivated so that you don't miss your after-work workout.

1.  Have a workout "buddy" or personal trainer.  Having a training partner or a personal trainer can keep you committed by holding you accountable.  Plus, it makes the workout more enjoyable and makes the time pass by faster.  Having a trainer can keep also workouts from becoming mundane, adding variety each week.

2.  Tell yourself that you will not compromise your health/body because of work.

3.  Keep a gym bag full of workout clothes and an extra pair of shoes in your vehicle at all times.  If you have to drive home to change clothes, chances are you will not head back out the door.

4.  Keep a schedule of the gym's group exercise classes at your desk at work.  Highlight the classes you are interested in so that you know the times and days of each.

5.  Do NOT drive home.  As mentioned above, it's game over if you have to go home first.  Commit to at least 20 min. and before you know it you will have done 30-40 min. You will feel much better once you arrive at the gym.

6.  Set daily fitness goals.  Then imagine how mad you will be at yourself if you do not complete your goal for that day.

7.  Capitalize on today.  Your only opportunity to capitalize on today is to make sure you are progressive with your goals for today

8.  Reward yourself for working out.  When you get home each night from your workout, reward yourself with a healthy meal.  Occasionally you can reward yourself with a "treat" as well.  If you like chocolate, or ice cream, feel good about eating those after a good workout, just keep it in moderation.

So if you are reading this today while at work, I hope you have your gym bag in your car, have your group exercise class picked out (or personal training session scheduled),  and your healthy meal in mind for after your workout.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Health/Fitness/Nutrition Questionnaire #2

Each month I will be posting 10 questions related to health, fitness and nutrition. These questions will not be easy, nor should they be too challenging.  As I mentioned in my health/fitness/nutrition questionnaire #1, it is my goal to test your knowledge but to also educate you.

I ask that you try to answer these questions without researching the answers online, or asking someone else to help you.

The answers will be revealed the following week of the Questionnaire on Monday.  Please post your answers in the"Comment" section listed below this post.  Just click the comment link.  There may even be a reward for getting all answers correct.

Good luck and thanks for taking time to learn.

1.  What is the BEST indicator for determining aerobic fitness?
     a.  BMI
     b.  VO2 Max
     c.  Body fat %
     d.  6-Pack abs

2.  Which if the following is NOT a good source of calcium?
     a.  Banana
     b.  Almonds
     c.  Cheddar Cheese
     d.  Yogurt

3.  Which food is considered a "good" bacteria (one that helps fight off colds)?
     a.  Beans
     b.  Carrots
     c.  Whole Wheat Bread
     d.  Kombucha Tea

4.  Thirty (30) minutes of interval training per week is considered adequate enough to improve health?
     a.  True
     b.  False

5.  How many calories from fat are in 1 egg if the egg contains 5 grams of fat?
     a.  25
     b.  35
     c.  45
     d.  55

6.  Which of the following is a health-related benefit of resistance training?
     a.  Better Glucose Metabolism
     b.  Fewer Cardiovascular Events
     c.  Improved Body Composition
     d.  All of the Above

7.  How many calories do you have to burn in order to lose 1 lb per week?
     a.  800
     b. 1800
     c.  2500
     d.  3500

8.  Per 1 cup serving, which food contains the most protein?
     a.  Lentils
     b.  Edamame
     c.  Quinua
     d.  Hemp Seeds

9.  Which of the following is NOT a sign of over-training (not getting enough rest)?
     a.  Chronic Muscle, Joint Soreness
     b.  Reduced Appetite
     c.  Increased Resting Blood Pressure
     d.  Decreased Resting HR

10. Spinach can help strengthen muscles, improve eyesight, and stabilize blood pressure?
     a.  True
     b.  False

Weekly Wednesday Quotavation

Since I forgot to post a Weekly Quotavation last Wednesday, I will share two with you this week.

1.  "Strive for progress, not perfection".

2.  "The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race".