Tag Archives: get healthy

Be Your Best Athletic Self!

In our country’s constant weight loss craze, it is easy to forget that there is more to exercise than the number shown on the bathroom scale. Being FIT is a goal everyone can aspire to, and here are some focus points to help you get there: FIT = Function, Intensity, Time!

Function: As spring begins to bloom, think about your favorite activities! Are you a hiker? A runner? A rock climber? Are you seeking more energy to accomplish your household tasks? Well then, being functional is important. In other words, prepare your body for the motion your activity requires. As a fitness professional, one thing that drives me nuts is watching people weight-train in a stationary position. Life doesn’t happen in one spot! Vary it up! Stagger the stance of your feet while doing arm and shoulder exercises. Try your squat exercises on one leg. Alternate your arms while doing rows; alternate your feet while doing push-ups! Remember: walking, running, and climbing usually happen one leg or one arm at a time. It is beneficial to, at times, train in the same manner. Keep this in mind while doing simple household tasks, such as bending down to pick up the laundry! You can equate this same action to doing sumo-squats or lunge-reaches in the gym. The majority of your activities aren’t done in a “stand-still” position. So, neither should your training.

Intensity: The intensity is the level of demand an activity places on your body. But don’t think of it too seriously! There are several ways to achieve this in your training. Try switching up the tempo! Monitor the speed at which you normally exercise: Is it quite monotone? Or, are you hopping around like a rabbit? Before you increase the overall time you spend exercising, change the tempo! Try a slower pace with isometric holds at the end of your movement.  For example: hold a push-up at the bottom to check your posture tightness. Then, try a more dynamic and explosive pace. Steadily increase the velocity of your jump-squat to increase your heart rate. Vary your tempo and intensity; keep your body guessing and wanting more!

Time: Remember ‘once upon a time’ when you were (if not still) single? You know how people said that you would find “the one” when you stopped looking? How annoying those people were (and right!). Well, my goal right now is to be equally as annoying and right! What if you begin to look at your fitness that way, and quit obsessing over the results? Give yourself the time you need to be your best FIT self. This means consistency along with patience. Stay in the moment! Enjoy your exercise and aim to be better at it each day. Don’t compare your performance or your body to others. Yes, we should all gain inspiration, but without comparison. This will make the improvement process that much more rewarding! You are a beautiful design. Know that whatever your body-type is, you can be heart-healthy, train athletically, and look fabulous! Give yourself the time to improve each day, and love yourself in the process.

Written by Bryan Christon

Playful Fitness

Don’t just exercise.  PLAY!!!

So, whatever happened to recess? Is it really true that adults can’t enjoy fitness as much as kids do?  Not at all! Here are some suggestions to inspire you to think more like an open-minded child whose only job is to play:

  1. Imagination
    Be imaginative. Yes–exercise should be a routine, but not a bore. Create/design your own routine which centers around your own interests, passions, and childhood pastimes. Throw on your favorite YouTube videos and follow along with the choreography. Or, make it a family project! Involve your kids and do games and fitness competitions around the house. For example, “Monkey in the Middle” is a ball game which improves cardio and coordination, and you only need three people to play! Take ownership of your fitness routine by creating it yourself (instead of just copying what others do). You are bound to take more pride in your daily workouts, all while being more accountable to yourself.

 

  1. Interval

As a dancer, I can’t just dance at the studio. I have to do it whenever I feel like it! This might mean sliding around the kitchen floor in-between washing and drying the dishes, or busting out a set of pliés and push-ups on the living room carpet, instead of sitting watching television on the couch. Much like eating five to six small meals a day instead of two or three, it can be equally effective to exercise in short spurts. Everyone’s metabolism is different. Everyone’s motivation is different. Do not compare yourself to your co-worker or the person doing leg press next to you at the gym. Find what works best for you and go for it!  The worst thing that can happen (and the best thing that can happen) is that you will have a good time!  Play with intervals! Over time, your energy and resourcefulness will improve.

 

  1. Intentionality

First things first…OPEN your eyes UP to PLAY! Remember that movie Hitch with Will Smith? Will Smith’s character, Alex Hitchens, has a great line, “Begin each day, as if it were on purpose.” Practice this month waking up and immediately doing something off-the-wall FUN! Practice cartwheels on the front lawn or try belly-dancing in the bathroom mirror.  In my apartment building, there are a set of stairs leading to the basement garage. Early in the mornings, my neighbors often catch glimpses of me climbing the stairs and jumping rope, as if I am training for the Rocky films. The best part is watching the surprised looks on their faces. Be intentional! Even if you look silly doing it.

 

Last, but not least, when you exercise and play, do it in familiar spaces and places. Look for areas that are filled with acceptance, love, encouragement, and accountability. (Hint: that place is not always at your house or at the local gym). Put some nostalgia in your program! Imagine your own schoolyard recess field.
If you don’t find it immediately, keep looking!  You will find it. You are the most motivated in familiar places where you garner the most support. No matter where that spot is, remember to PLAY. Being a child is at the core of who we all are anyway.

 

Written by Bryan Christon

Earth Girl Wellness: Probiotics 101

The gut is the new brain…or so research is suggesting. The profound effects the health of your digestive tract has on your cognitive function is gaining momentum in the nutrition world. Regular elimination and the balance of microflora in your intestines has everyone grabbing for more fiber and probiotics. But what are probiotics? Are they really that important? Or are we falling prey to yet another dietary trap trying to grab money out of our pockets?
Your gut is filled with bacteria of all kinds. There is a delicate balance of more than 1000 types of bacteria living in your large intestines. This balance helps keep your intestines “moving along” and influences mood regulation and emotions. The millions of neurons (nerve endings) contained in our digestive tract are in constant communication with our brain. Keeping that communication open and smoothly transmitting requires a healthy gut. Probiotics and their far reaching effects on the colon aid in maintaining a healthy gut and the complex communication system of the gut-brain axis.
There are a wide range of sources that can provide your body with the appropriate balance of bacteria. Probiotics can be found in many foods, drinks, and supplements. Choosing a proper delivery method depends upon your preferences and lifestyle. Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and several other fermented foods, such as sour pickles, are natural food sources that contain the healthy bacteria. Advantages to food sources include their close proximity to nature and lack of unnecessary colors and preservatives. However, not everyone has a desire to eat fermented (and sometimes spicy!) foods every day. Plus, yogurt often contains a large amount of sugar (a no-no on the Earth Girl list).
Kombucha is a fermented tea that provides an excellent source of probiotics. It comes in a variety of flavors and in easy-to-grab bottles. The taste can be too strong and off-putting for some individuals and the price can dent your wallet. Earth Girl suggests you shop around and try a variety of different manufactures to find one that appeals to you. Earth Girls’ favorite pick is the Synergy Trilogy. It is found at most super markets that sell organic foods.
A final source can be found in a supplement. Buyer beware when purchasing probiotics in a bottle. Several items to check for are the number of strains of bacteria (look for more than one strain), the volume of bacteria in the product (look for at least 1 billion per CFU), and when the product was made to ensure the bacteria is still alive (probiotics won’t work if the bacteria contained in them is dead). A few products that have been vetted and reviewed by Reviews.com include Islands Miracle-Ultra-30 Probiotics, MegaFood MegaFlora, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care 30 Billion, and Dr. Formulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-Probiotic.
In final analysis, Earth Girl Wellness recommends everyone consume a daily probiotic. It is a “no-brainer” when it comes to gut health and is simple to add to any healthy routine. Choose a delivery system that makes you happy! You will be healthier whether you enjoy a great Kimchi grilled cheese sandwich, an afternoon glass of kombucha, or throw back a few supplements with your morning glass of water. Your gut (and brain) will love you for it!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

“Perfection”

What is perfection? According to Dictionary.com, perfect is defined as “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.” However, when it comes to wellness, I am not certain there is an exact definition of an ideal type. What makes one individual healthy and happy may not necessarily work for someone else. Even the guidelines set out by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regarding nutritional intake and the exercise standards promoted by the ACSM (American Academy of Sports Medicine) are just that: guidelines. Both organizations take large volumes of data from hundreds of thousands of people and create standards that fit the majority of the US population regarding what might constitute optimal health. These standards can’t possibly consider each individual’s unique genetic makeup and personal preferences for a fulfilling life.

So why do we strive for perfection when perfection is at best a guess of what might work for some people? Why do we pressure ourselves into comparing what we feel others are doing that seems to be superior, and quite obviously in our minds, the best way to pursue optimal health? Earth Girl recommends we reframe our thinking when we consider our daily habits and how they impact our wellness.

Instead of berating ourselves because we had a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party and subsequently deciding we have no self control so we might as well give up on living a healthy lifestyle (because in a perfect world we wouldn’t eat any cake), let’s refocus. Birthday parties are fun and a small celebratory piece of delicious chocolate cake might be what we seek as perfection that day. We celebrated, we ate cake, we enjoyed and then we moved on to a healthy option for dinner later that night.

Instead of relinquishing a regular exercise routine because we missed one run to enjoy an evening out with our family (and in a perfect world we would not skip a run), let’s refocus. Time spent with family can also be active and, certainly, quality time with loved ones has amazing health benefits. Enjoy the spontaneity of the situation and clock your three miles the next day.

We often think that unless we pursue everything to its “perfect” ending, we might as well not pursue it at all. Such a sad way to live the adventure called life! Let’s strive to be perfectly imperfect. Or perhaps, imperfectly perfect. Decide what is best for the situation and use the opportunity to grow and enjoy life!

Earth Girl thinks perfection is what we make it. It looks different for everyone so stay on the adventure that makes you perfectly you!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness

Earth Girl Wellness: Snack Smarter

It is quite tempting to think you are doing yourself a favor when you grab a box of 100­ calorie snack packs. Cookies, crackers, and chocolatey sweets all promise fulfillment in a little snack pack! Before reaching for the supposed convenience in a bag, consider what those 100 calories might actually mean to your health.

Whereas 100 calories seems entirely reasonable when it comes to noshing on a little something, the consequences to your body’s satiety (full feeling) response isn’t what you might expect. Your body expects to receive nutrients that are actually usable whenever food or drink crosses your lips. Many 100­ calorie packs are full of nothing but empty calories. Follow the logic here:

  1. You eat your 100 calorie treat.
  2. Your body doesn’t register any of the nutrition it needs.
  3. Your body says “whoa, where’s my food?”
  4. You grab a second 100­ calorie pack or other calorie filled food to make yourself feel nourished and full. Suddenly, your 100 calories has become 200 calories (or more!) and you still might not feel satisfied.

It would be far superior to snack on 200 calories of real, life­-giving food. Consider healthy options such as air­-popped popcorn, carrot sticks with hummus, or a small nut butter sandwich. Gulp it down with some clean, refreshing water and your body feels satisfied because it can register true, desirable nutrients.

Now, self ­discipline is a wonderful thing! If you are truly able to slowly savor a pack of 100 calorie cookies as your last treat before bed, by all means, indulge! Take care to savor your snack. Tasting each bite, noticing each swallow, and taking a moment to feel the “love” of your indulgence. Some 100 calorie packs can have health benefits, so reach for a pack of almonds or trail mix (without the sweet add ins such as chocolate chips) instead. To save money, create your own 100 calorie packs each week so you have them ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Think about dried fruit, some turkey and cheese, or whole wheat crackers. Your checkbook will thank you as well since most 100 calorie packs are charging for the packaging, not so much the snack!

Earth Girl loves a great snack, but she recommends you choose proper nutrition with life providing calories versus a snack in a pack that has been marketed to trick you into thinking you are doing yourself a favor. Carry on your adventure and snack wisely!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness