Monthly Archives: January 2012

Couple’s Personal Training—Fitter Bodies, Stronger Relationship

Do you and your loved one regularly carve out quality time for each other? Are you both getting enough exercise to feel healthy, fit and energized? If the answers are not a resounding yes, couple’s personal training could bring you closer. Sharing a workout is a great way to enjoy some together-time and paves the way to a healthy, active lifestyle.

Accountability and Focus

Your odds of sticking with an exercise program go way up, if your significant other is on board. Whether it’s getting up early for a run or lifting weights after work, following through is much easier when your partner is with you. Committing to a couple’s personal training program helps establish fitness as a shared priority and gets you working toward a common goal. You’ll merge your schedules to meet with a personal trainer, and in between sessions, you’ll help each other stay on track.

Dual Purpose

Whether you’re both already active or new to exercise, your trainer will develop custom exercise plans tailored to your needs as individuals and as a couple. Planning a vacation that involves a lot of walking or hiking? Expecting a baby? Training for a fun run? Remodeling your home? Your trainer will take into account whatever is going on in your lives to create a realistic and sustainable plan to help you reach your goals.

couple

Social Support Matters

The value of social support can’t be overstated. Numerous studies show it’s a big factor in successful behavior change. It stands to reason that the person you share your life with has a huge influence on your lifestyle, for better or for worse, and research supports this. Weight loss studies show that when subjects participate in lifestyle interventions, their spouses also lose significant amounts of weight. Couple’s personal training taps into the power of social support by enabling you to support each other’s fitness efforts in a very focused way. Because you’re in the gym sweating it out together, you’ll gain new insight into each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learn how to offer support.

Enrich Your Relationship

Couple’s personal training will boost more than your fitness level. You’ll have something new to talk about, laugh about and be proud of—together. Research shows that devoted couples who share new and interesting experiences report higher levels of relationship satisfaction than those who don’t. And here’s the bonus: As you become more fit, you’ll be able to enjoy adventures that you wouldn’t dream off participating in when you were sedentary.

Romance + Fitness

Over the long haul, combining romance and fitness can really lift your relationships to new healthy heights. Share an activity and strengthen your bodies while boosting your love life. Couple’s personal training really connects you with your loved one, improves your body image, your mood and your love life.

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Skip the Food Fights: 10 Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthier

Research suggests that if we want our kids to eat healthfully, we have to rethink our strategies. Here are 10 tips based on the latest research and expert opinion that will help even the pickiest of eaters to eat healthier.

1. Model healthy eating.

One of the most important actions you can take to help your children eat healthier is for you to eat healthier. In one study, parental modeling was associated with increased milk, fruit juice and vegetable intake.

2. Eat together.

Not only are family meals generally more nutritious for children, eating together also offers an opportunity to socialize about food and eating, and model healthy behaviors. Even if it is only twice per week, planning family meals into a weekly routine goes a long way toward helping children to develop healthier eating habits.

3. Increase exposure to healthy foods.

One of the best ways you can help your children develop healthy eating habits is to repeatedly expose them to a wide variety of foods. Just because a child shuns a food once, do not label it “rejected.” Instead, continue to reintroduce it and expect that it may take up to 15 times before the child will accept it.

4. Let them choose the portion size.

Several studies suggest that you can empower your kids to let their internal cues of hunger and fullness guide how much they eat by allowing them to choose their own portion sizes.

5. Share the control.

Requiring your children to consume a particular food to receive a “reward” such as a dessert is more likely to increase their dislike of the food they are required to eat, while increasing their desire for the typically unhealthy “reward” food. Higher levels of parental control and pressure to eat also are associated with lower fruit and vegetable intake and higher intake of dietary fat.

6. Refuse to be a “short order” cook.

Picky eaters can wreak havoc on an enjoyable family meal, compelling some parents to make special accommodations for each child just so everyone will have something that they will eat. You can promote healthier eating by refusing to accommodate special requests, while at the same time making sure to serve at least one healthy food that the child likes at each mealtime.

7. Limit television time.

While television viewing has been associated with a variety of negative behaviors including poor school performance and childhood obesity, it is also linked to overall worse nutrition. This may largely be due to the enormous amount of advertising for unhealthy foods such as sugary breakfast cereals, soft drinks, candy, salty snack products, and highly processed and fast foods. Research has shown that exposure to advertisements for food products increases children’s choice of, and preference for, these advertised foods.

8. Exploit similarities.

Experts suggest that you should exploit similarities to develop a taste preference for new foods. Once a food is accepted, find similarly colored or flavored “food bridges” to expand the variety of foods a child will eat. For example, if a child likes pumpkin pie, try mashed sweet potatoes, and then mashed carrots.

9. Make eating healthy fun.

You can make learning about healthy nutrition and physical activity fun and educational for your children. For example, grow healthy foods in the garden or take your kids to a farmer’s market and let them pick out a new vegetable or fruit to try at home. Try to take a break from the mealtime battles, and take advantage of your child’s wonderment of the world to teach a lesson about health and fitness.

10. Skip the food fights.

Research suggests that the more parents pressure their children to eat certain foods, the less likely they will be to develop a taste for them and continue to eat them often as an adult. If you want to get your kids to eat vegetables and other healthy foods because your kids like them, then you will have to employ different strategies — increasing accessibility and exposure, minimizing the competition, modeling, vowing to not say anything when a child refuses a food, and helping make food taste good, for starters. In short, the most successful parents of healthy eaters opt to skip the food fights.

The Best Time to Exercise

Contrary to popular belief, women aren’t the only ones with biological clocks. Everyone has them, and we all heed their ticking on a daily basis.

If you are a regular exerciser, you may have already determined your most productive time to exercise and follow a routine that works best for you.

On the other hand, if your exercise time varies from day to day, and it’s wearing you out instead of pumping you up, you may be interested in the work of scientists who are studying the proverbial internal clock and how to best determine what time of day you should schedule your workouts.

Rhythm: It’s Not Just for Dancing

The secret appears to lie in circadian rhythms, the daily cycles that the human body follows. These rhythms originate in the hypothalamus and regulate everything from body temperature and metabolism to blood pressure.

The rhythms result from the firing rate of neurons. They have conformed to the 24-hour light-to-dark cycle, and may be regulated and re-regulated each day according to the environment.

Warm Is Better

It is the influence of circadian rhythms on body temperature that seems to yield the most control over the quality of a workout. When body temperature is at its highest, your workouts will likely be more productive; when your temperature is low, chances are your exercise session may be less than optimal.

Body temperature is at its lowest about one to three hours before most of us wake up in the morning, in contrast to late afternoon when body temperature reaches its peak. (To determine your own circadian peak, refer to the box to the below.)

Studies have consistently shown that exercise during these late-in-the-day hours produces better performance and more power. Muscles are warm and more flexible, perceived exertion is low, reaction time is quicker, strength is at its peak and resting heart rate and blood pressure are low.

Don’t Fix It If It’s Not Broken

First of all, don’t change your schedule if you feel good beginning your day with exercise. Everyone agrees that exercise at any time is better than no exercise at all. In fact, people who exercise in the morning are more successful at making it a habit.

And, though it has been suggested that morning exercise may put some people at higher risk for heart attack, further research indicates that there is simply a generalized increased risk of heart attacks in the morning. If your schedule favors an early workout, emphasize stretching and a good warm-up to ensure that your body is ready for action.

Find Your Peak

To determine your own circadian peak in body temperature, record your temperature every couple of hours for five to six consecutive days. Body temperature usually fluctuates by plus or minus 1.5 degrees throughout the day. Try exercising during the period three hours before and after your highest temperature. If you are an early bird or a night owl, you may notice that your temperature peaks one to two hours before or after the norm (between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.); you can adjust your exercise time accordingly.

Other Considerations

If stress relief is your goal, exercise always works, all the time. And if you’re wondering when it’s best to train for an upcoming event, it all depends on what time you’ll actually be competing. If an upcoming marathon begins at 7:00 a.m., try training at that time of day.

Though training at any time of day will raise performance levels, research has shown that the ability to maintain sustained exercise is adaptive to circadian rhythms. In other words, consistently training in the morning will allow you to sustain exercise during a morning marathon longer than if you train in the evening

Find Your Peak

To determine your own circadian peak in body temperature, record your temperature every couple of hours for five to six consecutive days. Body temperature usually fluctuates by plus or minus 1.5 degrees throughout the day. Try exercising during the period three hours before and after your highest temperature. If you are an early bird or a night owl, you may notice that your temperature peaks one to two hours before or after the norm (between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.); you can adjust your exercise time accord

Reaching Your Goals the SMART Way

Are you one of those people who resolve to get back into shape every time the New Year comes around—but for some reason fail to accomplish that goal every year?  If so, perhaps you might need to adjust the strategy you use when setting these hard-to-reach objectives.

One proven way to set effective goals is using the SMART goal method. This method will allow you to take those vague ideas and transform them into reality.

SPECIFIC: The goals must specifically state what is to be accomplished. They must be easily understood and should not be ambiguous or subject to interpretation. For example, rather than stating you would like to improve your fitness level, set a specific goal to be able to run a mile in 12 minutes.

MEASURABLE: The goals must be measureable so that there is no doubt about whether you achieved them. Measurable goals also allow you to evaluate your progress. Goals can be measured objectively or subjectively (i.e., how you feel and look), or both. For example, you could measure your percent body fat and body weight, but also monitor how your pants fit.

ATTAINABLE: The goals must be attainable—not too difficult or too easy. Easy goals do not motivate, and overly difficult ones may frustrate you and lead to a perception of failure.

RELEVANT: The goals must be relevant or pertinent to your particular interests, needs and abilities. For example, when preparing for a 5K walk, running quarter-mile sprints would not be the best approach.

TIME-BOUND: The goals must be time-bound by specific deadlines for completion. Timelines can be both short-term and long-term and should help you stay focused and on track.

Self-evaluation

If you feel like you are doing everything possible to attain that SMART goal but are still coming up short, perhaps you need a reality check. Try keeping a diet and exercise journal for one week and check to see if you are actually maintaining a program that will get you where you want to be. You can use websites such as www.MyPyramidtracker.gov, which will help you record and analyze your diet and exercise.

Behavioral vs. Physiological

People often start a program with the intention of making a change, but struggle to stick with it. Remember, it is only when you decide that you are ready to make a real commitment to this change and do it for yourself that you expect results. Without a real resolution to change, you will likely encounter many obstacles and barriers that will make sticking with the program difficult. Consider the following tips if you are thinking about starting a program:

  • Ask yourself why you want to make this change an who you are doing it for.
  • Write down a list of all the benefits you foresee with making this change and a list of costs (e.g., time, effort and money) that will be required to do so. If the balance swings in favor of the benefits, you are likely to stick with the program.
  • Identify a support system. Find individuals of significance in your life who will support your desire to change and perhaps even join you.
  • Select some rewards for achieving major steps in your program. Recognize your achievements with treats such as a purchase, attending a function or even taking a trip. Such rewards will help you stay motivated during the beginning of your program.
  • Visibly place prompts and cues that constantly remind you of the decision you made to change, and remove any stimuli that may trigger undesirable behaviors. For example, placing visible notes or keeping a workout bag accessible will prompt good behavior, while removing ice cream from the freezer may remove a negative stimulus.

Alcohol Eats Away at Muscle Mass

 

If increasing muscle mass is one of your goals, then think twice before you go out for a night of heavy drinking. Consuming alcohol in large quantities has a direct effect on your metabolism, causing fat to be stored instead of being utilized as an energy source. Alcohol contains seven “empty” calories per gram, meaning that these calories don’t provide you with any of the essential nutrients you need to build that muscle mass you desire.

Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption on Your Body

  • Muscles—Reduces blood flow to the muscles, causing weakness and deterioration
  • Hormones—Reduces testosterone in your blood and increases conversion of testosterone to estrogen, causing increased fat depositing and fluid retention
  • Liver—Creates imbalances that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), fatty liver and hyperlipidemia (build-up of fats in the bloodstream)
  • Brain—Cuts off the supply of oxygen to the brain, resulting in a “blackout” caused by a lack of oxygen supply to the brain that can kill tens of thousands of brain cells

Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption on Physical Performance

Alcohol is a known depressant that suppresses the brain’s ability to function. Even though you may feel a “high” after several cocktails, the truth is that your reaction time, accuracy, balance, hand-eye coordination and endurance all decrease dramatically. Furthermore, the after-effects of a night of excessive drinking can be detrimental to your fitness goals. Alcohol is a diuretic that may result in dehydration. This dehydration is known to decrease physical performance, so that previous night of drinking will continue to affect you the following day.

Alcohol and Sleep

Alcohol consumption can cause sleep disorders by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states and by altering total sleep time and the time required to fall asleep. It is popularly believed that a drink before bedtime can help a person fall asleep. However, alcohol’s affect on sleep patterns results in increased fatigue and physical stress to the body. Therefore, alcohol consumption indirectly affects a person’s strength-training ability due to increased fatigue and a lack of healthy reparative sleep.

Alcohol and Nutrition

Alcohol inhibits the breakdown of nutrients into usable substances by decreasing the secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Regular alcohol consumption also impairs nutrient absorption by damaging the cells lining the stomach and intestines and disabling transport of some nutrients into the blood. In addition, nutritional deficiencies themselves may lead to further absorption problems. For example, folate deficiency alters the cells lining the small intestine, which in turn impairs the absorption of water and nutrients, including glucose, sodium and additional folate. Such interference of nutrient breakdown and absorption may impair the physical performance and recovery required to build and maintain muscle mass.

Putting on the Pounds

Many people under the influence experience “drunk munchies” that can result in the consumption of several hundred extra calories for the day. A study examining how alcohol affects caloric intake found that subjects who drank wine with their lunch consumed an additional 200 calories and did not compensate for those calories by cutting back at dinner.

Safe in Moderation

Now that you know some of the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption, you might be scared to have that glass of wine with dinner. Don’t be. When alcohol is consumed in moderation (no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men), it has been shown to have some positive effects:

  • Increased HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) within one to two weeks
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Reduced insulin resistance

The Take-home Message

In conclusion, if you want to increase muscle mass, decrease fat or improve general health, make sure alcohol is only consumed in moderation. Next time you are asked to go out socially, be the designated driver. Not only will your friends appreciate it and be much safer, but you will be one step closer to your fitness goals.

Calories Add Up Fast

12 ounces of beer = ~150 calories
5 ounces of wine = ~100 calories
1.5-ounces of distilled spirits = ~100 calories

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