BLOG 295 DITCH THESE HABITS
We all have our vices. We all have habits we have hung onto forever that we are well aware need to be given up. Somehow along the way, time has flown by, life took over, and we cycle through the stages of giving up our vices then slipping back into our old ways. You can’t deny, “Old habits die hard”. Maybe understanding the implications of these habits on weight gain will be an eye-opening deterrent. So let’s take a look at how smoking cigarettes, alcohol consumption, and drinking soda, can impact our fitness journeys.
A popular idea is that cigarette smoking helps control body weight. For example, cigarette advertisements from the 1930s suggested that women should, “Reach for a cigarette instead of a sweet” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195407/). Furthermore, “Young adults who are trying to lose weight are 40% more likely to smoke cigarettes. Because smoking is often thought of as a way to control appetite and weight, quitting smoking means the absence of this control strategy” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195407). Rather than eat, one might have a cigarette. I read, “Tobacco companies modified cigarettes to give them appetite suppressant qualities as late as 1999, revealed a 2010 study by Swiss researchers, published in the European Journal of Public Health” (http://www.livestrong.com/article/515745-cigarettes-weight-loss/). The fear of weight gain after quitting is why most smokers don’t want to stop, regardless of all the other health consequences smoking causes. Nicotine does speed up your metabolic rate, so quitting would affect this. However, from an exercise stand point, nicotine does affect your cardiovascular performance and output. Therefore, you are not able to perform at your best. The “smokers cough” impairs one’s ability to really step out of their comfort zone and challenge their cardio. As a personal trainer who believes in lifestyle changes that last, smoking is a habit that over time most clients like to eliminate as they start to see and feel the changes in their body towards a healthier self. But let’s not forget the other side effects of smoking that could also impact overall health such as lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and COPD.
Alcohol is a very popular part of our culture and is a social activity many take part in. Alcohol does have an impact on our body composition. Simply put, “Unlike macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, alcohol supplies what nutritionists often refer to as empty calories: calories without nutrition. To make matters worse, it is the first fuel to be used when combined with carbohydrates, fats and proteins, postponing the fat-burning process and contributing to greater fat storage” (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson194.htm). Alcohol has twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein. And of course when our state of mind changes from alcohol, our decision making is impaired and well…. now the entire bowl of tortillas chips is gone or as us southern Californians tend to do – stop and get a carne asada burrito since it’s late and we are intoxicated. Other research goes on to say, “ Further, studies show that alcohol temporarily inhibits “lipid oxidation”— in other words, when alcohol is in your system, it’s harder for your body to burn fat that’s already there. Since eating fat is the most metabolically efficient way to put fat on your body—you actually use a small amount of calories when you turn excess carbs and protein into body fat, but excess fat slips right into your saddlebags, no costume change necessary—hypothetically speaking, following a high-fat, high-alcohol diet would be the easiest way to put on weight” (http://www.elle.com/beauty/health-fitness/advice/a2451/alcohol-calories-does-drinking-cause-weight-gain-410239/). Everything in moderation as they say.
Ok, I know an ice cold soda tastes amazing and totally quenches your thirst, but those few moments on the lips aren’t worth the resulting effects on your waistline. A study by the American Geriatrics Society found that, “People who drank diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda” (http://time.com/3746047/diet-soda-bad-belly-fat/). Extra pounds in the midsection has health consequences: “The kind that pads the abs from the inside, called visceral fat, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease, inflammation and Type 2 diabetes” (http://time.com/3746047/diet-soda-bad-belly-fat/). A lot of people are misled by the low calories these drinks contain, not taking into consideration the artificial sweeteners and chemicals that add taste.
The answer: We have to decide to choose the lesser of two evils. In the long run, the initial weight gain that could occur after quitting smoking, far “outweighs” the long term health consequences. And when one decides to adopt a healthy lifestyle, these pounds will disappear over time with the changes. If we are able to have the self-control and drink on occasion, we are can find a balance with the caloric intake that alcohol adds to our day. Limiting alcohol to weekends is a common tool for this. Finally, I don’t have anything positive to say about soda haha. Just let that one go. SMALL changes ARE changes; so start by cutting back and taking it one day at a time. Better yet, go exercise to distract yourself from wanting to smoke, drink, or have a soda.
BLOG 294 BRUISING
They happen to us all. We bump into something, hit a body part against something, and sometimes we don’t even know we caused one. Bruises occur when trauma occurs to the skin, causing discoloration to appear to the site. Blood surfaces to the skin, and we see black and blue appear on our body. “Contusion” is the medical turn for this occurrence.
A bruise occurs as the result of a tiny tears to blood vessels. Blood is actually leaking from the injured area. As we age, blood vessels become more fragile and that “thin skin” is more prone to bruising due to sensitivity. Certain medications can also thin the blood, causing vessels to become more vulnerable. Medications can affect blood clotting. Clots are our bodies response to injury in order to prevent excessive bleeding. Steroids can increase the likelihood of bruising. Here are medications that should be considered if you are wondering why a bruise occurred: “These drugs include many arthritis medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (for example, ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin) and naproxen (Aleve)) and over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin. Warfarin (Coumadin) is often prescribed by doctors specifically to prevent clotting in patients who have had blood clots in their legs or heart. Warfarin can cause severe bruising, especially if the level of the medication becomes too high. Cortisone medications, such as prednisone, promote bruising by increasing the fragility of the tiny blood vessels in the skin” (https://www.medicinenet.com/bruises/article.htm#why_do_bruises_occur_more_frequently_in_some_people_than_in_others).
That mark can last up to 2 weeks but will eventually go away. Your body will reabsorb the blood and the ugly color will go away. For quicker healing, ice can be applied to the area or elevating the bruise above the heart can help with blood flow.
If you easily and frequently bruise, there could be an underlying problem. There could be an issue with your blood platelets or clotting functioning. Bruises can be more common in persons with leukemia, who have liver disease, or who have a gluten intolerance. Sensitivity to bruising can be impacted by some of the following herbs and supplements:
· fish oil
· vitamin E
No BODY likes a bruise, but they happen. Just don’t bump your limbs on the weights and machines at the studio 😊 Consult a doctor if you think you abnormally bruise. We always want to be proactive as we care for our bodies on our fitness journeys.
BLOG 293 TOO MUCH CARDIO
One of the most common questions I am asked is, “How much cardio should I be doing??” We are told we need to exercise and cardiovascular activities are the first item we refer to doing. There are a multitude of benefits when doing cardiovascular activity, but sometimes you might be doing more harm than good if you are doing too much. Just because you run ten miles per day doesn’t mean the weight will melt right off (even though one would assume this). So let’s take a look at the cardio overload affect and see what happens to the body when this occurs.
There are a number of indications your body will show as signs that you are doing too much cardio. Every BODY is different. Here is what we are supposed to be doing: “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise spread over three to five days a week. Or do 75 minutes of vigorously intense aerobic exercise spread over three days a week. These minimum recommendations outlined in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans decrease your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoporosis” (http://www.livestrong.com/article/145445-recommended-amount-of-cardio-exercise/). It’s easy to think that the longer I run on the treadmill, the more calories I’m burning, so the more weight I will lose. Wrong!!!!!
Cardio doesn’t have the same after math effects that strength training has for us. Meaning, “Unfortunately, the positive fat-burning effects of cardio exercise are short-lived. Once you stop exercising, your body’s metabolism quickly returns to its normal state. If cardio is your go-to exercise then you are forced to do more and more in order to see ongoing weight-loss results. This becomes problematic because increased cardio training can lead to decreased muscle mass. If your body loses even the slightest bit of muscle, your resting metabolic rate (i.e. how many calories you burn when you’re NOT exercising) dips even further. Your body will begin to shed fat even more slowly…unless you do even more cardio” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-smith2/4-indicators-that-youre-doing-too-much-cardio_b_9321966.html). And cardio is hard on our joints so having to pound the treadmill longer and longer to see results becomes strenuous on both the body and mind. Plus, one can burn through muscle so although we might be getting smaller and seeing the scale drop, we are not re shaping the body appropriately. It’s similar to the effect of not working out after a surgery or injury. The scale might actually go down, due in part to muscle atrophy.
Training smarter, not harder is the appropriate expression here. The cardio myth goes like this, “There is this horrible misperception in our society about fat loss. A lot of people think that if you starve yourself and do two or three hours of cardio each day, the fat is just going to melt off. Actually, performing too much cardio will put your body in a catabolic state and burn hard-earned muscle. The loss of muscle will not only reduce strength, but it will also slow down your metabolism. If your metabolism slows down too much, you’ll have a tough time burning fat” (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-ripped-dude-how-much-cardio-is-too-much.html).
Personally, I can run for hours (literally). But I have learned, especially while training for my competitions, that at some point I’m actually not doing myself any favors. Mentally, I love the clarity of just running and going until I just have to stop. Physically, I don’t want to burn through muscle. There is no science that says how much is too much, but realistically anything over 60 minutes is probably more counterproductive than good. Females love their cardio, but ladies, we have to use strength training to re-shape our bodies and ward off osteoporosis.
When I meet a client and they ask me why they haven’t seen results when they do the Elliptical or jog every day, well, we know that the cardio myth has come into play. It might be breath of fresh air to hear that you don’t have to run for hours on end to see results. Rather, use cardio in combination with strength training to achieve optimal results. Every BODY is different, and we learn on our fitness journeys what methods work best for us. Don’t be fooled I won’t write you a pass for P.E. that says you don’t have to run the mile haha, but I will tell you that don’t have to run 5 miles every day to achieve your fitness goals.
BLOG 292 EFFORT
The skills and wisdom we achieve in life is the result of continued efforts. Most times we are graded or only praised for results, not the efforts it took to reach the goal or accomplish the task. Winston Churchill said, “Continuous effort not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”. Effort is the act of trying, your level of intensity or work, your focus, and continuous drive to succeed. We are expected to give effort in the roles we play in life including work, sports, relationships, and for our health. Sometimes the attempt is what makes the reward more deserving and feelings of a job accomplished. It is the affirmation that when the result is determined, you did give your best. Hard work is a mindset that requires effort.
Believing in your efforts is motivational. People attribute their successes to natural ability, luck, other people, and EFFORT. Of these four causes, effort is the one that makes the experience purposeful. A handout or gift doesn’t equate to action. The refusal to give up puts you in the driver’s seat to wake up, take action, and apply effort. Your attitude shifts when you know you have to work for what you want. You cherish a possession much more if your efforts earned you the money to pay for it versus having it handed to you. You put effort into your schoolwork when you know your grades influence financial aid or earning your degree versus having someone pay for all your school and you automatically graduate regardless. Effort connects action to reward.
Effort creates a mindset of not settling for less. What you put in, you get out. Don’t expect more when you give less. Equate your effort to your expectations. Effort builds character and makes you stronger whether the task requires mental or physical work. Sometimes the result doesn’t always match what you had desired. Sometimes your effort can feel under-appreciated or devalued when you don’t get what you had hoped for. Regardless of the outcome, there’s a mental fulfillment to knowing you truly tried. Those close to you see and it and know. Reassure yourself that your efforts will pay off in some form. Maybe the grade wasn’t that great on the test, but you still have the final and the effort you gave to study for this test will cut down on the studying for the final to help you focus more on what you need to better understand. Effort is a can do attuite and must for success. It is the key to success and when you keep turning that key, doors continue to open.