Archive for February, 2012
Now that I have your attention, let’s chat. I love to move and I love exercise. In a perfect world, we would all love to exercise, and we would all have an easy time fitting in a workout every day. Well, it’s not a perfect world, and I realize everyone doesn’t feel the same way I do. Everyone doesn’t like to exercise; everyone doesn’t have time to workout everyday. Maybe that’s because we have placed too narrow a restriction on how we define ‘exercise.’ We tend to place a great deal of attention on doing specific ‘exercise programs,’ or working out a certain number of times per week, and getting to the gym no matter what obstacles are put in your way. Those things are great, and ideally, that is what we should all strive for to achieve maximum health benefits. But let’s face it, for a variety of reasons, those options are not available to everyone. Sometimes exercise means doing whatever we can do, whenever we can do it. So, with that in mind, I want you to focus on a challenge this week: B.A.L.L.S., Being A Little Less Sedentary.
Recent studies have shown that being sedentary for a smaller amount of time on a daily basis could be beneficial to your health. Even if you are physically active on a regular basis, you still need to avoid being sedentary for an extended period of time. So here are the specifics of my challenge:
- If you have a desk job, I want you to set an alarm to go off every hour at which time you will get up for at least 1 minute. What you do during this minute is up to you, as long as you’re not sitting. Even if you just stand at your desk during a telephone call, that still counts.
- If you are a couch potato at some point during the day (e.g. watching TV for longer than 1hour) I want you to stand up during commercials. Even if you just stand by your couch, that still counts.
- If you are presented with the option of stairs or an elevator and you are only going up or down 1 or 2 flights, take the stairs.
- If you are going out to dinner or to the mall or running errands, park farther away from the entrance to your destination. This is a common suggestion, but I want you to actually do it this time.
- If you go to a store and use a shopping cart to carry items to your car, walk the cart back to the front of the store after unloading your purchases, rather than leaving the cart in the space next to you.
Good luck with your B.A.L.L.S. this week and let me know how you do! If you have any other, B.A.L.L.S. activity suggestions (family-friendly please), feel free to leave a comment below!
“Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your booty!”–K.C. and The Sunshine Band
This summer I attended a lecture given by Chuck Wolf, MS, FAFS, the director of Human Motion Associates in Orlando, FL, called ‘Regression to Progression: Strategies For Program Design.’ He covered many important topics in this lecture, but one topic in particular struck a chord with me. Tri-planar pelvic mobility.
**Quick and basic anatomy/physiology lesson: there are three planes of motion in which we move, sagittal, frontal, and transverse. The sagittal plane divides the body into right and left; movement in this plane is up and down. The frontal plane divides the body into front and back; movement in this plane is sideways. The transverse plane divides the body into top and bottom; movement in this plane is rotational.**
Mr. Wolf discussed the importance of tri-planar movement in all the joints of the body, but when he discussed pelvic (hip joint) mobility, I had an Aha! moment. I never really thought about how important it was to keep the hip joints flexible until he brought up what he calls the “Florida Shuffle,” a term describing the gate evident in most inactive retirees over the age of 80. Since I am from Florida and am quite familiar with said shuffle, AND I love pelvic movement, this topic struck a chord within me. I have always known that my Dance Fitness class was a beneficial group exercise class that provided cardio activity and some weight bearing activity, but after Mr. Wolf brought up tri-planar hip mobility, I realized my Dance Fitness class (actually all of my dance classes, but Dance Fitness in particular) provided much more. Dance Fitness serves as a “Florida Shuffle” prevention class with lots of tri-planar hip movement! How does Dance Fitness provide tri-planar hip movement? With booty shaking! I try to fit pelvic movements into all of my classes when I can (e.g. hip rolling in Cardio Jazz and Jazzitude, thrusting in desir80s, and booty shaking in Dance Fitness). Ask anyone who has taken one of my classes; pelvic gyrating to me, is like crotch grabbing to MJ — I can’t help it and it just feels right.
I hope that by this time I have at least piqued your interest in increasing the mobility in your hips, and you would like to begin taking steps to prevent the “Florida Shuffle” from appearing in your future. There are several different ways to shake your booty, all of which can be practiced in the privacy of your own home, that is, until you’re ready to go public with your skills. As I mentioned before, there are three planes of motion in which we move which makes for many different booty shaking techniques. Do not get discouraged if your first attempt at booty shaking does not meet Shakira standards, it takes practice.
Since it’s a little difficult to explain my repertoire of hip movements, I have provided a short instructional video for you. Just remember these two things when embarking on your journey to better hip mobility:
- Practice makes perfect.
- There’s really no wrong way to shake your bum.
Now go forth and gyrate!
So you’ve decided to make a change towards a healthier lifestyle. Now what? If you have even attempted doing research on diets and exercise plans, I guarantee that you have been bombarded with everything from miracle pills and fat burning girdles, to super supplements and complicated fitness equipment. While there are many products out there you should avoid, there are still many products, diet plans, and exercise systems that are legitimate. Your challenge is to find the one that works for you. There are many factors that go into personalizing a health and wellness plan, so make sure you pay attention to how these factors relate to you. I have outlined a few for you in the following paragraphs.
First Step: What is your goal?
Before picking any products or plans, you need to decide what you want to tackle first. For example:
- Do you want healthier eating habits?
- More regular eating habits?
- Do you want to lose weight?
- Do you want to gain weight?
- Do you want to tone up?
- Do you want to lower your cholesterol?
And so on. Each of the aforementioned questions will lead you down a different path so it is important for you to pick the starting point that is right for you.
Second Step: What is your budget?
I know that it’s incredibly exciting to embark on a new journey, especially when it involves your health, but you really need to take your financial situation into account. It is quite possible to achieve a healthy lifestyle on a budget, you just need to know where to turn for help.
- For those on a tight budget, here are some tips to get you started. First, check out the website www.choosemyplate.gov. It is an informative and FREE website with many tools and resources that can help you along your path to better health. This website is for generally healthy people, so if you have any chronic diseases, you need to see a healthcare professional. Second, when food shopping, keep in mind that frozen fruits and veggies are just as good as fresh fruits and veggies, and often less expensive. And while canned fruits and veggies aren’t the best option, they’re still a better option than not eating fruits and veggies at all, and an inexpensive alternative (just rinse them first to wash away excess salt or syrups). Meat tends to get a bit pricey, so stock up on legumes (beans), tofu, peanut butter, salt free nuts and nut butters to get your protein. Grains such as oats, quinoa, and brown rice are excellent choices for complex carbohydrates and, again, are inexpensive. Third, when it comes to physical activity*, there are tons of exercises you can do at home or outside without the need for expensive equipment; jogging and walking are the most popular choices. For strength training, you can do a fitness circuit by rotating the following exercises (perform each exercise for 30 seconds and take a 15 second rest in between; repeat 3-4 times and rest for 1-2 minutes after each round): Push Ups, Squats, Plank, Jumping Jacks, Dips on a chair, Bridge, Bicycles, High Knees or Butt Kicks. Here’s a short video, demonstrating all of these exercises:
- For those with a moderate budget, check out diet programs such as Weight Watchers. WW has revised their program and done a fantastic job of making it an interactive, easy-to-follow program. There is a one-time sign up fee of $29.95 and a monthly fee of $18.95 (not including food). The success of this program is based on your participation. As for exercising*, there are many gyms now that offer low membership fees starting at $10 a month. These gyms don’t always offer group exercise classes or plush amenities, but they have the essential equipment you will need to begin an exercise program. Also, check out specialty gyms, fitness studios, and boutiques; often times, these places will offer packages so you can buy several classes at once for a discounted price.
- For those who can fit it in to their budgets, I strongly recommend putting together a team of skilled professionals to build a healthy lifestyle plan for you. When it comes to your diet, look into registered dietitians or dietetic technicians. It is technically illegal for people without the proper credentials to prescribe a meal plan for you, so you need to hire a healthcare professional that is skilled in this area. As for exercise*, look into hiring a personal trainer. When researching personal trainers, look at their credentials, make sure they are certified and insured.
Third Step: Exercise caution as well as your body.
The more you research and get involved in health and fitness, the more you will be subjected to those products mentioned in the opening paragraph. Be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is. Do not waste your money on gimmicky products that promise instant results with little to no work. You do not need to spend money on supplements, especially if you’re eating a balanced diet. Only healthcare professionals can legally recommend supplements for you to take. If you are interested in taking any vitamins or minerals, botanicals, or other herbal products, double check with your doctor or dietitian before spending money on it. The only supplements I take are a multi vitamin (it’s a gummy), and whey protein powder (a big bag that I buy at Costco), which I add to my post-workout shakes. Interested in learning more about dietary supplements and how they are regulated (or not regulated)? Check out this website http://ods.od.nih.gov/. Remember, you want to get your vitamins and minerals from natural food sources. How do you do this? Eat a balanced diet consisting of veggies, fruits, legumes (beans), whole grains, lean meats, and low fat dairy products. If you are interested in attempting a vegetarian or vegan diet, I strongly recommend consulting with a dietary professional. You may find yourself eating a very unhealthy diet if trying out these V-diets with limited knowledge on the subject.
Fourth Step: Be forgiving…of yourself!
No one is perfect. If you want to maintain your new healthy lifestyle, you need to keep yourself from becoming obsessed with dieting and exercising. If you miss a workout, don’t get down on yourself; if you have a food craving, honor the craving every now and then without going overboard. Eating disorders exist as more than just anorexia and bulimia. If you are obsessing about your food, that is disordered eating and you need to seek the help of a professional. You should have a healthy relationship with your fitness regimen, and your food. Food exists to fuel your body, it should never be used as a reward or punishment. Stick with a balanced diet and throw some fun stuff in here and there; control portion sizes, and eat small meals throughout the day and you’ll be golden. If one of those fun things is a small slice of chocolate cake, who cares? If it’s a whole chocolate cake, then you need to be worried.
My sister always says, “What’s the plan?” I want you to remember this throughout your journey towards better health. Always have some sort of plan. Whether it’s one goal or several, you need to have an idea of where you’re trying to go, and keep this goal or destination in mind.
*Consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.
Apparently I am at the stage in my life where I look good “for my age.” I will be 32 this year, but feel like I am 21 (younger sometimes). I don’t consider myself to be old and I never shy away when someone asks how old I am, but for some reason, 30 and up is when numbers start becoming taboo for most women. It’s shocking and sad that 30 is considered old. But, I can’t buy into that, especially when I have 50, 60, and 70 year olds who take my classes (multiple classes) every week…and kick ass! Recently I was asked to share my “secret” to looking so young…I was, of course, amused. I have a secret?? Really?! I was flattered she would think so. Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a secret, and I’m not sure if this “secret” works for everyone, but I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on staying young.
I believe that the fountain of youth is in your mind (sorry, Mr. Ponce de Léon). I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying “age is a state of mind.” I’ve been saying that since I was in middle school and I learned this frame of mind from my dad. He turns 76 this year. Ask him his age, he responds with “21.” Ask him about his white hair, he tells you it’s blonde. He doesn’t take life seriously, and I think that is a big part of the anti-aging process. Of course, genetics play a large part in how you age as well, but I feel that you can control some of your aging process with your mind. I believe our minds are far more powerful than we know. Think like an old fart, and you’re going to look and act like an old fart. Simple solution: start thinking young! In order to do this you must stop being an arithmophobe (fear of numbers, I just looked it up)! Don’t cringe in horror when someone asks your age. Own the numbers that say how long you have been alive. They are just numbers, and you will still look the same, whether you lie about your age or tell the truth. (Side note, lying about your age in the entertainment industry is different, so I’ll let that slide.)
Now that I’ve covered mind control, I will offer a list of other functional anti-aging tips. Some have been proven with science others are just theory. I believe in all of them, so they are all included in my fountain of youth:
- Be less sedentary and exercise often. You had to know I would include this one. I exercise because it’s fun and I feel like a million bucks when I’m done exercising. In case you’re still not convinced, the Mayo Clinic says that exercise controls weight, combats health conditions/diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, and promotes better sleep.
- Don’t smoke. Not only is it bad for your innards, but it can cause premature wrinkles which tend to make one look older.
- Don’t drink excessively. Moderation is key when it comes to alcohol. Heavy drinking can have a detrimental effect on your liver and can cause an increase in weight gain, not to mention, with the increasing popularity of social media, any decisions made under the influence of alcohol are on display for all to see (I know pictures of your intoxication don’t have to do with the aging process, but it might cause added stress!)
- Moisturize daily. As you age, your skin loses some of its natural moisture. Dry skin tends to show more wrinkles, thereby making you look older. I’m a big fan of Aveeno products; Aveeno is dermatologist recommended, and it’s not expensive, PLUS you can get it at Costco.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. F&Vs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Instead of spending all of your money on pills and powders, spend a little bit of your money on fresh produce!
- De-stress daily. Whether it’s a long, luxurious bubble bath, listening to Sade, or snuggling with your puppy dog, it’s important to take a few minutes everyday to clear your mind and take advice from Frankie Goes to Hollywood (for my younger readers, they sing the song “Relax”).
- Laugh often. No, seriously, laugh often. It elevates your mood AND it can be a great ab workout — two birds with one stone! I learned this one from my family. We all think we’re hilarious. My mom always says, it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks you’re funny as long as you think you are…and her jokes are pretty corny (she’s probably thinking of a witty comment to write at the end of this post as reads this point).
- Be true to yourself. There is nothing more stressful than pretending to be something that you are not, and since you’re reading my blog, you know that one of my previous anti-aging tips is to de stress daily. So take preventative measures and avoid the unnecessary stress of being someone else!
- Take care of your teeth. A bright smile definitely adds to the youthful look, but there are other benefits to flossing daily. There are several studies that show a link between gum disease and heart disease.
- Stay hydrated. My favorite anti-aging tip by far. You won’t catch me going anywhere without my Bubba Keg (keeps liquids cold for 8 hours!). I’ve always been a big hydrator, ever since my days of fainting on the Phillippi Shores Elementary playground. Dehydration is not only dangerous, it can cause your skin to dry and crack which in turn makes you look older.
Now that I’ve shared my “secrets” with you, I hope that all you ‘old maids’ over 30 are inspired to run outside and play hopscotch to get your aging reversal jump-started!