Is this you?

tummy of love Advice.  Most of us enjoy giving it.  Unless we ask, we don’t always enjoy being on the receiving end.

We all realize if we have a few pounds to lose; if not more.  Few would actually tell someone they knew little about, they are overweight. Yet it’s what is left unsaid that can hurt.

There is now more than ever, enormous pressure especially for women, to maintain a lean physique.  Men however, are now starting to feel the “pinch.”  Either way, have you ever noticed the reaction, verbal or nonverbal, if someone enters the room who is clearly overweight?  Especially if most there are thinner, or to their ego, “in shape?”  Stares, glares, and sometimes snickers is what greets them.  Add in a look of disdain with a few whispers just for good measure.

I hate to say this as a woman, but I’ve noticed my sex to be the most critical.  True enough, guys talk too.  I’ve overhead plenty in the background where I workout.

I’ve wondered–why are we so judgmental of one another?  Is it a stroke to our own egos that we are not “in their shoes?”  If so, what if we were?  Could we withstand anything from the well-meaning advice, to the gossip not meant for our ears?

Many of us can recall how we felt in grammar school, or even high school, if we were unpopular.  Perhaps you were reluctantly picked as a teammate.  Maybe no matter how hard you tried, you just didn’t fit in with the trendy click.  Hurt feelings never really grow up.  They simply morph into what we call depression, eating disorders, and maybe something more drastic, if left unchecked.

WHY THIS TOPIC?

As a nurse personal trainer, I have clients most personal trainers would not engage.  Due to complexity, or whether the population I serve they would rather not, I am acutely aware of my client’s struggle.  The look on one’s face as a thirty something ran proudly by him, I knew stung worse than a slap in the face.  Now in need of a hip replacement, he was once a runner.

If you are a trainer, you know the uphill battle you face.  You also realize that just because someone says they want to lose weight, doesn’t mean they are committed to the work involved.  They are committed to the end result, often not what it takes to get there.  Well, at least not at the level needed to see results.  But that’s a story for another day.

As a trainer, you have to strike that careful balance; walking the line between motivation and determination, vs. humiliation.  And most of us realize what the latter looks like.  It can produce results, I won’t argue that.  But it can produce more than that as well.  It’s yet another reason why I have the clients I do.  They’re just not up for the drill sergeant routine.

Whether you are involved in fitness professionally or it’s your daily mantra, keep in mind–it is an evolution.  For many, it’s a revolution–one they may not be starting willingly.  Perhaps it is an “or else” diagnosis that is the driving force.  Maybe it’s an unforgiving dressing room mirror, outlining every billow and bulge in a clingy cocktail dress.  Or that last 15 lbs of “baby weight,” which stubbornly adheres to the midsection–even if you are the guy. 

If you are an elite bodybuilder, yogi, or marathon man, you are still evolving.  If you are not, but still find yourself turning a critical eye towards someone less fit, consider your evolution.  It may be in a state of regression, instead of progression.  And like humiliation, we know what that looks like too.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

Questions? Comments? Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Is this the face of the enemy?

I'm not the enemy   CARBS–bread, pasta, rice, just to name a few–are part of an ever-expanding hit list.  By the way, let’s not forget about this either.milk & bread  Does anyone besides me, recall athletes and celebrities lining up to wear the milk mustache?  You couldn’t open a magazine (especially health & fitness) and not see this ad.  What about the “milk your diet,” commercials?  They’re not that old.

In the quest to become fitter, thinner, and more svelte, seems we’ve lost a few friends (yes friends) along the way; not to mention more than a few nutrients.

Let me back up a minute first.

If you have celiac disease, gluten is definitely not your friend.  If you are lactose intolerant, you know what too much dairy can do to you.  Those who struggle with these issues–I am not making light of your symptoms, or your need to watch your intake.

That being said, let’s take a look at our dietary hit list.

MILK

If you are attempting to cut fat, but won’t give up real milk, maybe you’ve switched to skim.  Realize then, you may be cutting back on some key nutrients as well.  Vitamin D and calcium are two.  However, if you are looking for a less caloric alternative, you can try almond milk.  It contains more calcium, with fewer calories.  Almond milk for me though, is an acquired taste.  It is much thicker.  I find myself drinking less of it, because of the density.  Yes you can add H20 to it.  But then, how much of the nutrients are you really obtaining?  Who knows.  Because of this, I’m not sure how much of an alternative to milk this really is; at least for me.  An alternative (however healthy) has to be a substitution which fills or exceeds the expectation of what is being replaced.  This means content, appearance, and in this case–taste.  Vitamin content may be there.  Less fat and calories sound great.  If getting it down you or your family is questionable, how viable is this?  You be the judge.

I am persistent though.  I bought almond milk combined with coconut milk, and find it enjoyable in tea.

BREAD

Our crusty friend seems to have fallen out of favor–except in private.  He seems to be what one relishes in private, but publically–not so much.  We say we’re cutting back.  Or, “I don’t eat bread anymore.  Pasta isn’t even in my house.  Flour?  I gave that up long ago–and I’ve lost so much weight!”   Bread and pasta especiallyseem to have taken on the persona some people may take in our lives.  But that’s another discussion–one well outside my scope of practice.

Bread has been called the staff of life–and for good reason.  It was and continues to be a staple in most households.  True, our choices may have changed.  We don’t buy the white bread our parents did.  Our choice is usually grainier, lighter or thicker depending upon our tastes, and maybe gluten-free.  If you wonder whether you need to be gluten-free, check out my post “Do I really need to be gluten-free?”  It is dated 7/10/13.

My question as with any deprivation is this:  what am I sacrificing?  We all want weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.  Most of us are willing to make the changes necessary to this end.  Like milk, have you considered the vitamins you may be giving up?  If cutting the fat and sugar is your goal, you may want to re-think your gluten-free choices.  Something has to give that bread or pasta taste and texture.

As with exercise routines, before you jump on the latest trend, do your research.  Side by side label comparisons in-store can be quite a revelation; especially if you’re trying to cut calories.  On a budget?  Then you definitely need to invest some homework time.  If it’s not a fit for you or your family– however healthy, time-saving, or cost cutting it may be, it may not be your best bet.  That being said, your family doesn’t get a pass from eating healthier.  It just means you have to be a little more savvy and creative.

So tell your kids they probably won’t be getting a pass from eating their veggies.  And just to clarify, neither will you.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

High octane exercise not for you? You’re not alone…

recovery needed  You’ve been told weight loss, exercise, and nutrition must be your priority.  That monologue is usually followed by an “or else” phrase.  You may be hearing it for the first time from your physician, or the hundred and first from your spouse.  The underlying theme might carry more weight from the MD.  However the meaning remains the same–get up and get moving.

You’ve seen the ads for P90X.  INSANITY pops up on an infomercial at 2am, just as you were starting to doze off.  It promises results in 60 days.  After previewing parts of it on You-Tube, you understand why.  You’ve also seen ads for Urban Rebounder, 10 minute trainer, and Tracy Anderson on nights when the television was your Ambien.  Yet for all of the choices offered; the rigor, intensity, or daily grind wasn’t for you.

Another scenario.  You want to exercise but your joints?  Not so much.  There are days when getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom is a challenge.  Sitting on the toilet and then getting up? Well–that’s another story.  What choices are there for you?

Believe it or not, the advice remains “get up and get moving.”  But how?  With what?  Doing what?  Here’s a few options.

1. Sit & Be Fit.  If the description above is part of your life, even if only a few times a month, these videos offer movement on your “off” days.  You-tube has a few selections; ranging from 5-30 minutes.  The key to remember is that even with altered or limited mobility, you have to move.  Range of motion is essential for ADLs (activity of daily living).

2. T-tapp.  T-tapp is a series of exercises isometrically designed.  They are low intensity, and promise to rev up even the most stubborn metabolism.  Posture and “muscle activation” are the core principles here.  Check out http://www.ttapp.com

3. Yogalates.  This is a video I found on You-tube, which is divided into sections.  If you are looking for a slow-paced introduction to yoga, this might be the answer.  The instructor is soothing, articulate, and moves with intention.  The entire video is 90 minutes, but again, there are 4 sections to choose from.

4. 60 minute Yin Yoga for Spine.  This is another You-tube find.  It may be an ideal start for those wishing to begin a yoga practice.  Even if yoga isn’t quite your thing, it will serve tired, achy muscles well.  Stretch days should not be an option; they should be part of your routine.  You can also check out http://www.eckhartyoga.com for more ideas.

5. Tai Chi.  Tai chi is quite possibly 2500 years old, if not older.  While many videos display smiling seniors performing rhythmic movements, don’t be fooled.  There are more rigorous forms of Tai Chi–including techniques used in MMA.  Whether you are seventy-five looking to improve posture and mobility, or twenty-five using it as part of your Crossfit routine, there is something for everyone.  Meditative as well as restorative, Tai Chi is adaptable–yet its principles remain the same.  Effective breathing coupled with fluid technique.

As with any workout, cleanse, or change in dietary habit, it is always a good idea to talk to your medical professional.  You are responsible for your own healthcare.  However, part of that responsibility means enlisting the guidance of a trusted physician or nurse practitioner.  This is essential if you are just beginning to exercise, have mobility issues, in need of cardiac rehab, or taking prescription medication.

While not every exercise is for every body, every body is in need of some form of exercise.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it. 

Questions? Comments? Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Is Crossfit a good fit? Maybe…..

getting ready  Getting a little bored with your routine?  Perhaps you’ve hit the proverbial wall; your weight loss has stalled, your DVDs hold the same old same old, or maybe you want to spice things up–workout wise that is.  There are many ways to add spice; but for now, mainstream exercise is the topic.

Some clients have asked my opinion on Crossfit.  I ask “what do you know about it?”  Most of them tell me “nothing.”

While employed as a staff nurse, I recall a young patient whose doctor visited her with discharge instructions.  This was highly unusual.  Most physicians leave this task to the floor nurse.  I went to her room to help her pack, as well as clarify anything she didn’t understand.  She informed me she slept through most of what her doctor was telling her.  “Can you ask him to come back?” she asked.  I pulled up a chair for a little “heart to heart.”  Understand that this patient was not groggy from surgery.  She hadn’t had any medication to induce drowsiness.  Nor was she a pediatric patient.  Though not much older than she, I put on my “experienced” face.  I told her I would put out a call for the physician, but she had to explain WHY.  This shook her out of her lethargy.  I also told her what I’ve used as a signature phrase throughout my nursing career.  “You are responsible for your own healthcare.”

And just like that patient, I remind my clients that they are responsible for their well-being.  Whether in the capacity of staff nurse, educator, or personal trainer, I am simply a facilitator.

CROSS TRAINING VS. CROSSFIT

Some confusion seems to exist–there are those who interchangeably use Crossfit and cross training.  Crossfit may be a form of cross training.  Considering the intensity level however, it may not be a fit for everyone.  I think of cross training as a form of exercise to alternate with a normal routine.  For example, my son runs cross-country and track.  He occasionally sports a t-shirt around the football elite which reads “My sport is your punishment.”  True or untrue, running would be their cross training.  Players attempting to catch him, to give him a piece of their mind might be their Cross fit, but I digress.

CHECK IT OUT

Crossfit appears to be a collaboration of weight training, plyometrics, rope climbing, tire throwing, tire carrying, gas mask running, kickboxing, obstacle course phenomenon which appears to be grabbing major attention–for diverse reasons.  However, I’m not  convinced that all of the above activities, while wearing the Crossfit label, are indeed mainstream Crossfit.  Still if you are interested, it pays to keep in mind a few ideas.  I will preface this list with what I say in most posts, when talking fitness.  “Not every exercise is for every body.”

1.  Observe to preserve.  Assessment is the first step in the nursing process.  This is the information gathering stage.  It includes history of present illness, review of systems, as well as medications.  Assessment or inventory can be your best friend when discerning whether a program, or even a trainer is right for you.  By observation, you preserve your resources (time, money, and your body) before signing on the dotted line.

2.  Do your homework.  What’s in the facility?  This includes the trainers.  Are they certified?  I’m not saying certification always implies results or guarantees safety, but it does imply credibility.  Asking questions should never be a threat to a personal trainer.  It helps both client and trainer decide if they are a fit for each other.

3.  Ask for a trial class–even if you have to pay for it.  Not everything is free.  Trainers have expenses.  Their time like yours, is a precious commodity.  But before you commit to package or buy 3 get one free deals, ask to try a class.  The only way to know  if something is really for you, is to do it.

Need a little more info?  Check out http://www.crossfit.com.  Videos, personal success stories, and more details can be found on the website.

Fitness is indeed a journey, and its destination can be uncertain–like life itself.   it is fraught with bumps in the road, boredom, success and setbacks.  And like life, there needs to be challenge to effect change.  Yet there are many ways to challenge yourself, to bring about that change.  Furthermore, the challenges you are willing to face, should never outweigh the benefits you want to reap.  Setbacks in the form of muscle breakdown, joint displacement, or other injuries are not the change most of us desire.  Therefore as with any exercise, workout regime, or even trainer, it is up to the participant be mindful; and awake.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Struggling with your weight? You may need this….

need rest Most of us realize, though may not put into practice, the benefits of uninterrupted sleep.  Yet did you know that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain?

http://runnersworld.com/weight-loss.  The article is entitled “Sleep deprivation may lead to weight gain.”  It is dated November 27, 2012.

HORMONE HIJINKS

This is a tale of two hormones to be exact; ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is the hormone which signals hunger.  Leptin is the one which tells you that you are full.  To keep it straight, I have nicknamed them: “greedy ghrelin and laid back leptin.”  If you are not getting your “great 8” your body can become confused.  A confusion which favors “greedy ghrelin.”  Translation?  Larger appetite–which can translate to a larger you.

The article goes on to state that even if you are restricting calories, if you sleep less than six hours, you sabotage your fat burn.  Since muscle is built around rest, this makes sense.  Lean muscle mass is now sacrificed in favor of fat.

It further stands to reason that the longer you are awake, there’s more opportunity to eat.  Example?

Ever heard of the “Freshman Fifteen?”  It’s that fifteen pounds (or so) that awaits many HS students, welcoming them to collegiate life.  Late nights spent studying or otherwise, is often blamed for the dreaded weight gain.

In the battle of the bulge, there is little quarter given, or fair fight.  For most (including the most avid athlete) it is mostly uphill with little downhill, and hardly any coast.  Well, this may be that rare coast.  Yes, fitting more sleep into hectic schedules can be next to impossible.  This I know from personal experience.  Unfortunately, I also know how it affected my appetite.

From late night (seemed like all night) care plan preparations, to early clinicals, to the constant testing and review, obtaining a nursing degree in two years leaves little time for rest.  Once finished, you must sit for boards.  If you fail, two years of hell– I mean study is down the drain.  Next comes your first job as a registered nurse.  Rarely if ever, do you have the opportunity to work a day shift.  An evening or night shift, is more likely where you will begin.  Add to this skipped lunches/breaks (I often worked without one, as many nurses do), and you find your body retaliates.  Sometimes in weight loss, often in weight gain.  For me it was the latter.

Making yourself a priority is not on most of our “to do” lists.  As a caregiver, wife, mother, late night studier, and personal trainer, I get it.  Two certifications and a higher degree in nursing later, I really got it.  Unfortunately by then, twenty pounds had gotten to me.

Starting a new career in personal training helped; after all, you have to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk.  However I have found, no one can help you understand self-worth.  Other’s experiences can be a guide.  But it still is a path–pitfall, downfall, slick, slippery and all, you must tread yourself.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Got a minute?

teaching fitnessOk, I’m asking for more than a minute–more like 15-20 of them.

Newer research suggests that intermittent bouts of exercise, is better than an hour spent at the gym.  Furthermore, if your time is spent sitting all day, that hour you spent working out is offset by the hours you spend sedentary.  Think about it.  If you are sitting 85-90% of the time, while only 10% (or less) is spent exercising, does that add up to an active lifestyle?

Yes, a large part of this investment is nutrition.  However, if you can find 10-20 min, 3-4 times a day, to walk, cycle, do a portion of a workout dvd, run, throw or kick a ball, your metabolism begins to believe you are active.  It then starts to behave as if you are active.  What does that mean? Better use of stored fat for calorie expenditure.  You may also avoid the “munchies” that an hour or two of high intensity exercise often provides.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  A similar story appeared on Dr. Oz–with Chris Powell illustrating short, but effective exercises designed to rev up your metabolism.  I’m sure if you search his site, you will find it.

Consider this in the meantime.  To what do you attribute the popularity of DVDs divided in 15-20 minute intervals?  Why is something like Tony Horton’s “10 minute trainer” gaining attention?  Better yet….why do so many fail to stick to an exercise program, that requires an hour or longer, 4-6x a week?  Need another “for instance?”  New Year’s resolutions.  A high percentage of them involve losing weight.  Of that, perhaps fifty percent or more will join a health club.  After about 6 weeks into the new year (I’m being generous) how many are still there?

Yes, life is busy–and there are only 24hrs in day.  We all must take care of families, eat, sleep, and work.  But that doesn’t excuse any one of us, from taking care of ourselves.  Take a walk; take your kids for a walk.  Run around the park with them.  Climb a monkey bar–great exercise for agility.  Whatever it is–10 minute yoga, 15 minute walk at lunch, 20 minute run, 15 minutes of “hide and seek,” it will add up; and more to the point, so will the benefits.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments? Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Detox 360–are we there yet?

meditation in the nudeCleaning up your act.  Not for the faint of heart.

The real question is–are you ready?  Better yet–how ready are you?  Commitments are dangerous ground to tread The very nature of the word implies “something you have to stick to.”

Both in my career as a nurse, now as a nurse personal trainer, I now know what separates want from need.  Patients want to improve their outcomes.  Clients want to lose weight and exercise.  When “need” enters the equation, that’s where that dangerous ground is finally tread.  That need may prompt nutritional coaching after a cardiac event, and the required dedication which follows.  “Lose weight and stop smoking, or you could suffer another stroke.”  Not only does this statement necessitate commitment, it is an ultimatum.

Even if your health is not in question, is your lifestyle?  If so, time to cleanse.

LET’S GO THERE

If you read “Clean up your act,” as well as “Detox 360,” you realize for me, cleansing is more than a brief stint on herbal smoothies.  This detox takes time, a little introspection, and a lot of hootsba.

You should now understand that detox is a lifestyle, not a one week starvation or a jumpstart enema.  At this point, eradicating–or at least mitigating pollutants from your life, is a top priority.  It may have meant rethinking your social circle.  Perhaps now, you leave the scene of the latest workplace gossip, when previously you would have stayed.  Maybe there is a 2 second pause, before giving that intellectual, but snarky response.  Looking in the mirror may not be the fault-finding expedition it once was.

If this part of your detox is well underway, now its time to take your body there.

How?  Great question.  My take on what works, next post.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com