BLOG 330 LEG CRAMPS
When your muscle suddenly becomes hard and tight or you feel a quick sharp pain in the calf, a muscle cramp has struck. It can happen while in motion when out for a run or even during a night’s sleep. This type of involuntary contraction is a spasm we would rather forgo. Without warning, the onset of a “Charley horse” (cramp that occurs in the calf area), is marked by temporary pain that we want instant relief from. Cramps are never fun to endure, and one just has to breathe through it, stretch, and massage out the area until alleviation kicks in.
There are a number of triggers that can cause muscle cramps. In order to avoid future spasms, knowing the causes becomes important. A cramp can be the result of poor blood circulation. Exercise related stress can bring on a cramp. Being dehydrated or deficient in magnesium and/or potassium, can be causes. Hot temperature is also a culprit, especially when being active. Not stretching enough can also lead to cramping. There are also medications that can lead to cramping. These include diuretics, certain Alzheimer’s medications, statin medications for cholesterol, as well as some osteoporosis and high blood pressure medications. Nerve compression can also cause a pinch that produces a cramp. Muscle mass lessens with age so what muscle is working may be more stressed than normal and overworked much more easily which can cause cramping. Muscle cramps are common during pregnancy as the body is undergoing a lot of changes. Certain medical conditions like diabetes, liver, or thyroid disorder can also heighten the risks of cramping.
Prevention includes staying hydrated, properly stretching, and making sure to eat healthy foods with nutrients. These include vitamins, minerals, potassium, and calcium. Potassium is found in many choices including vegetables, bananas, berries, potatoes, melon, citrus, meat, fish, and milk. Caffeine found in coffee, soda, and other beverages does affect fluid hydration in the body so be sure to replenish with water. Exercise and activity that lasts over 60 minutes can lead to glycogen depletion which can lead to fatigue which can lead to cramps.
Although only a temporary sensation and typically harmless, an unexpected bout of pain never feels good. It is important to seek a doctor’s help if these cramps are reoccurring or persistent. A nutrient imbalance may not be readily noticeable. Finding the cause can help avoid future incidences. Muscle cramps happen to almost everyone, few and far in between, but when they strike, they aren’t forgotten. The healthy folks of Bonsall and Fallbrook know that less is more when it comes to “Charley horses”.
BLOG 329 GUT VS BRAIN
Well that good old Amazon Prime account of mine led me to the movie, “The Gut: Our Second Brain” (2013) by Cecile Denjean. This documentary was fascinating as so many clients suffer from stomach issues. I’m sure we can all relate to our bellies trying to be the almighty ruler of our day. So I’d like to share some of the research this movie explored.
Dating back to the cave man, our bodily features and functions were developed as needed mechanisms to seek and find food. Think of the “raw” diet that used to be consumed compared to our digestive systems now that have undergone quite the change in the types of food we eat. Even when cooking from “scratch”, realistically the flour or spices have been through some type of manufacturing process already before our purchase of it. The stomach cannot physically be the same as it was thousands of years ago.
The brain and the stomach use the same neurotransmitters. Serotonin is the “well-being” chemical found in both the brain and stomach. 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. So if serotonin is said to dictate our mood stability, no wonder the stomach is impacted when we feel stressed or uneasy. Adding to this, 1 in 10 people are said to have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) digestive pain problems. The brain and gut have communication issues. I was surprised to learn that Parkinson’s disease originates in the gut.
Different approaches are used to help with gut problems. Recent holistic type methods and Chinese medicine suggest hypnosis and acupuncture. This has also been shown to help with depression (again the brain and gut communicating better). Chinese medicine believes in the finding the source of the problem, which most times is the stomach.
Bacteria helps with digestion and we need it in our system. Having this good type of bacteria date back to when we are babies and are building immunity. Obesity and bacteria have been closely studied. Some research has revealed that obese people have more of a certain type of bacteria. Obesity boils down to 10% genetic, 10% bacteria and 80% lifestyle. Antibiotics kill bad bacteria. Probiotics help develop the good type of bacteria we need which can be found in yeasts and yogurt. There isn’t a clear understanding yet of how probiotics work, but in a test that gave women yogurts, they were less reactive to situations, meaning they were in a better stable sense of mind. The images of the brain were in a calmer state.
The more we know, the better we set ourselves up for success on our fitness journeys. This documentary help make sense of a lot of the stomach issues clients face. There is more to that growl in the belly than we think. Feed the mind and stomach as best as possible and listen to what your body is trying to communicate.
BLOG 328 CONTRAVE
In 2014, the FDA approved the prescription weight loss drug, Contrave. With the recent New Year and weight loss adds running like crazy on TV, this drug surfaced in a commercial and caught my attention. So the trainer in me had to research it and here I will share my findings.
Here is what the website claims: “By adding CONTRAVE to your weight-loss plan for a full year, you could lose 2-4x more weight than with diet and exercise alone.2” (https://contrave.com/?gclid=CjwKEAiA-rfDBRDeyOybg8jd2U4SJAAoE5XqurpFCSvG4W9EmOm9N4CSlQwh727qtplFOX-aX-saZhoCt-3w_wcB).
To sum it up, Contrave can be prescribed to obese or overweight adults with conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. Medically speaking, “Contrave combines two drugs already on the market: bupropion (Wellbutrin), an antidepressant, and naltrexone, an anti-addiction drug. Because it contains bupropion, the new drug will have a boxed warning to alert doctors and patients to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts that are linked with antidepressants” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140911/contrave-weight-loss-drug#1). Wellbutrin is a popular antidepressant, which means those who take it for psychological purposes must not suffer from the weight gain side effects some of these medications can cause.
So what does it do?? Well, “‘It takes away hunger and the cravings for food,’ says John Foreyt, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. He was a researcher on a clinical trial studying Contrave” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140911/contrave-weight-loss-drug#1).
I do like that the drug is recommended with diet and exercise. It can also not be prescribed to someone with an eating disorder. But then I questions how long does someone take this pill and what happens when you stop. It isn’t an isolated phenomenon, and success does depend on what you eat and your activity. Results vary but, “On average, people lose 5% to 10% of their starting weight, according to clinical trials and experts” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140911/contrave-weight-loss-drug#2). So I guess this means if you were 200 pounds, you might drop to 180.
Bottom line, we know there is no magic pill on our fitness journeys.
BLOG 327 YAWNING
Mouth open wide, a loud sigh, and the face stretched to its capacity. We yawn involuntarily, but why do we seem to do it so much during exercise?? I just thought I was boring you.
When we are tired we yawn, so naturally as the body becomes fatigued from exercise, we then start to yawn. According to Livestrong.com (2013), yawning helps to cool down the brain during exercise. Furthermore, in order to cool down our body temperature, our initial reaction is to sweat. If sweating isn’t enough to cool us down, we then start to yawn which, “increases blood flow and heart rate and enables the intake of cool air, all of which may help regulate your brain’s temperature” (http://www.livestrong.com/article/424772-why-do-you-yawn-when-you-exercise/). Yawing brings in oxygen which then can be brought to the blood. During exercise our blood flow is increased, so we require more oxygen to the blood during activity. You will also be happy to know that the abdominal muscles are used during yawing.
The body is undergoing a behavioral change when we workout, so exercise takes us from a normal to more awake state, which then causes yawing. There are other theories as well that might align with why we yawn at the studio or in a gym setting. According to an article by Melanie Radzicki McManus, “Our bodies induce yawning to draw in more oxygen or remove a buildup of carbon dioxide. This theory helps explain why we yawn in groups. Larger groups produce more carbon dioxide, which means our bodies would act to draw in more oxygen and get rid of the excess carbon dioxide” (http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/question5721.htm).
I constantly yawn while exercising, and I was always taught that it’s not polite to yawn in class or when someone is speaking to me. So after learning this information, I will no longer take it personal that you yawn during the workouts. After all, your face and abdominal muscles are being used. I shouldn’t get upset anyways, since this is an involuntary action….but when you yawn, I yawn. It’s a chain reaction that’s contagious. Well, it’s 8PM, I’m yawning from being tired at this point, so that’s a wrap. Plus, I feel like my English teacher clients would note how many times I used the word “yawn” in this Blog and have re-read this multiple times to try to fix that. See you next workout, and maybe I’ll start tracking your yawn count in your files J
BLOG 326 AGE COMPLAINTS
“I’m getting old”, is a common phrase we use to associate aches, pains, and ailments with. Blame it on age. Degeneration, slowing down, and parts not operating like they once used to, all come with age. Most of these issues are normal and are common culprits. Some are preventable through lifestyle, while others just happen in the “golden years”. The senior population is growing and by 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65 years. Women’s average lifespan is over 80 years and men 75 years. Just because people are living longer doesn’t mean these ailments are going away. Keeping one’s bones, belly, and brain in tip-top shape is very important. Here are some common complaints:
1. Osteoporosis: Bones tend to become thinner and weaker with age. The bones can become fragile and easily break. Breaks become more susceptible with falls and sometimes even every day movements. As we age, the body absorbs old bone tissue faster than new bone can be created.
2. Vision loss: Macular degeneration and glaucoma are common. The part of the eye that allows us to see detail, degenerates over time. The risk for macular degeneration increases 30% after age 75. Glaucoma is due to fluid pressure in the eye. This causes loss of peripheral and direct vision.
3. Hearing loss: About 43% of people age 75 and older have some degree of hearing loss. This is usually the loss of high pitch noises. Eventually is can be the loss of any type of noise.
4. Bathroom problems: Constipation can be common with age with about 26% of women and 16% of men having this issue over the age of 65. This can be due to less physical activity, dehydration, and less fiber. Women can also have urinary incontinence. The pelvic muscles have lost their strength. Men can have this problem due to an enlarged prostate.
5. Cognitive impairment: Becoming forgetful or confused is commonplace, but as this progresses concerns may arise. Alzheimer’s can develop and can cause irreversible brain damage.
6. Arthritis: About 1/3 of people over the age of 65 have this. The fluid and cartilage in our joints does wear out. This can cause pain and is common in the hips, knees, wrists, spine, and fingers.
7. Balance issues: About 40% of older Americans have balance issues. This can be from dizziness, medications, or other medical conditions.
8. Heart disease: The heart ages with you and this causes it to work harder. This can lead to heart related problems such as heart attack and stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in persons over age 65. Healthy lifestyle can help reduce this risk.
9. Flu/Pneumonia: The immune system becomes weaker with age. Complications from the flu can result in pneumonia. 71-85% of flu related deaths are from people over age 65.
10. Diabetes: The risk for development increases with age. Blood sugar become too high and this can cause problems for the eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
BLOG 325 KETCHUP, MUSTARD, BBQ SAUCE
Adding a little zing, taste, and pop… we love to dip, marinate, and top our food with ketchup, mustard, and/or barbeque sauce. These condiments practically go hand in hand with many of our traditional dishes. Ketchup and French fries. Mustard and hotdogs. Barbeque and chicken. And typical of our habits, we aren’t exactly dipping in moderation 😊 After all, every fry needs that red color on it before eating. Enhancing the flavor of what we consume just feels right, but maybe we should consider what these condiments contain. They can actually be the culprit of what has made the meal unhealthy.
Ketchup is packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and salt. That’s the flavor right?? Just because it’s made with tomatoes doesn’t mean it’s a vegetable. There are 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon and most of us aren’t limiting to one 1 serving. Besides the added sugar, ketchup is salt filled with 160 grams of sodium per tablespoon. Alone it is not a high sodium food, but considering we use it on high sodium dishes like French fries, the combo isn’t ideal.
Good news is that mustard is sugar free. It is also lower in sodium with 57 grams per packet or teaspoon. It may have been the first condiment ever used by humans. Egyptian pharaohs put mustard seeds in their tombs and Romans were the first to grind the seeds and make a paste. Its yellow color is actually from the turmeric that is added. I don’t have too much bad to say about mustard. It pretty much has no fat and no calories.
But when it comes to BBQ sauce that is a different story. In a two tablespoon serving, there can be 12 to 17 grams of sugar, 200 t0 300 milligrams of sodium, and all in all, that is 14% of the totals you should have in a day. It also has 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Needless to say, we don’t always stick to the one serving. Sometimes eating a boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast, but drenched in BBQ, can be just as bad as having fried chicken.
I didn’t even want to talk about ranch dressing…. ALL BAD haha.
I’m an advocate for clean eating. As my husband, says he wants to taste the food, and sauces hide what you are eating. Not to say that trying to get down plain chicken is easy without a little sauce, but know yourself and if every bite has to be dipped, red flag to steer clear of the sauce. Mustard and black pepper are my friends. Plus, think about the shelf life of these products?? Pretty gross considering they seem to last forever. Keep it simple. Extras add up that’s why they’re extra.
BLOG 324 TRUST THE PROCESS
Our fitness journeys are a process. We know that change takes time, old habits die hard, and the road isn’t always smooth along the way. Recently, on my own fitness journey and recent endeavors, the saying, “Trust the process”, has really hit close to home. We make so many choices every single day, some more important than others, but one choice often leads to another and unfolds the outcome or sets the tone for what is to come. I hope this BLOG brings you clarity, strength, and reveals some helpful tools to help YOU trust the process of your fitness journey.
Many of our poor choices are made from fear. We don’t want to fail. It’s as if having lower standards or expectations (taking the easy route), avoids failure. The uncertainty of what lies ahead steers us towards our comfort zones. For example, I’d rather not try jogging because then what if my knees start to hurt or what if I pull something…. But what if you don’t and if you just ran for thirty seconds, walked a little, and repeated the process maybe the body will respond better than anticipated?? The fear to TRY can be hindering.
Some of my own personal fears I have to learn to adjust to include being able to “go with the flow” and being flexible. There are aspects of life I am not able to control and being resilient and adjusting when needed can throw me for quite the loop. The process for a perfectionist becomes more challenging by default when I refuse to take a different direction when my original plan is altered. Simply put, for a planner, sometimes the plan has to change and I need to be okay with the new route and move forward. I need to, “Be open to ‘not knowing’. Life changes in an instant. Change with it” (http://theboldlife.com/2013/04/10-ways-to-let-go-of-fear-and-trust-the-process/).
YOU have to believe that being healthy long term is a process not a destination. We can make milestone goals along the way. Let’s say you want to lose twenty pounds, then the process requires getting there and keeping the twenty pounds off for good. In the meantime that means staying on course is up to YOU. Some of my recent videos have been about honesty and happiness. If the process requires 4 workouts a week and staying on the meal plan course, then having wine three times that particular week and an extra dessert may very well negate one or two workouts. So now the process has been tampered, but you have to TRUST to get back on track. I find that many almost reset each week, and the more start overs you have (which is okay), understand that the process is changing. Know that if you made this just a clear cut destination with a time line, then you are setting yourself up for failure. And maybe those choices are out of fear because you suddenly lost two pounds this week and you self-destruct and have a huge dessert in order to retaliate out of fear that now you actually can lose those other 18 pounds. Out of fear, you revert back to old habits. Sound familiar??
By no means do I want to get all philosophical haha. I found three really great tips to live by: (http://tinybuddha.com/blog/being-patient-through-transformation-trust-change-believe/)
Trust life. There’s a higher purpose behind every seemingly impossible and difficult phase. You’ve just got to hang in there and know that it’s for the best.
Change. If you find yourself feeling bad a lot more often than not, take time out to reflect on whether or not you’re happy deep down with what you’re doing.
Believe. Believe in yourself, even if the world around you doesn’t. If you don’t, who will?
When opening my business, any test I have ever taken, and my own fitness journey, are all examples of some of life’s processes I have had to just trust and let the uncertainly of the possible outcome come as it may. Please trust your own fitness journey, and most importantly, be strong and confident in your choices. Make your choices with no regret. One choice at a time, one rep at a time, the process will carry us through. And hey, don’t forget to ENJOY the process as well.
BLOG 323 REASONS PEOPLE STOP EXERCISING
Our beloved fitness journey through life can be marked by intervals of inactivity. The exercise roller coaster that aims for consistency, can plummet from time to time. As one day off leads to another, time passes, body shape changes, and willpower falters. SO I had to look up the common reasons this might occur for people, especially since I want to keep the green light turned on for every BODY
Reality speaks: “Studies show that 60% of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity, and over 25% of adults are not active at all”. (https://www.verywellfit.com/top-reasons-you-dont-exercise-1229759).
In no specific order here’s what I found. You may or may not relate to one or more of the following “excuses”:
You hate exercise.
Not in your budget or unable to afford it.
Not seeing results.
Have to take care of the kids/family.
You just don’t have time.
There are other interests you would rather do with your time.
I’m too old.
I hate doing it alone.
Don’t know what/how to do anything.
It’s too late to start over.
Habits take time to develop. We keep the habits in our lives that are comfortable and pleasurable. Exercise is sweat, it is awkward, it is effort involved. BUT it’s good for you. When you do something good for yourself, your BODY and mind will thank you. You may have no idea how good your BODY is meant to feel, so at least give it a chance to try. You know I bug you when you miss a workout 😊
BLOG 322 FIBROMYALGIA
Living in constant pain, is no way to live at all. When getting out of bed seems like an unbearable task, one is affected both physically and mentally by such a dilemma. Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition that is somewhat new to the medical field. I have seen an increase in clients coming to me being diagnosed with this and the commercials on T.V. are becoming more and more frequent. So let’s take a better look at what exactly fibromyalgia does to one’s body.
What is fibromyalgia?? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals” (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243) . Pain is the number one complaint associated with this condition: “The pain can be a deep, sharp, dull, throbbing, or aching, and it is pain that’s felt in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the joints” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms). However the list of symptoms when one goes to the doctor seeking answers for their situation is quite long and may include, “anxiety, concentration and memory problems – known as ‘fibro fog’, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, morning stiffness, painful menstrual cramps, numbness, and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs, tender points, and urinary symptoms, such as pain and frequency” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms).
Side note: fibromyalgia is more common in females than males. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243).
Another characteristic of this condition is having trigger or tender points. Normally these are areas around the joints or muscles, not the exact joint or muscle itself. They’re tender even to the touch. And then there is the constant feeling of being fatigued. Getting out of bed is extremely difficult and one can be worn out after a quick trip to the grocery store. Not surprising, “Depression is a key symptom for many people with fibromyalgia. Up to half of all people with fibromyalgia also have depression or an anxiety disorder when they are diagnosed” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms?page=3). These feelings only worsen from the pain and discomfort one endures each day. It is easy to become less active and isolated when daily living activities just become too much to handle.
I’m sure you have seen and heard the ads for all the medications one can take for fibromyalgia. But guess what folks?? Exercise can help alleviate the symptoms. At first scientists and doctors said rest was the best cure, “But recent scientific studies have shown that, for most patients, range of motion, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning exercises are safe and necessary” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-exercise). Exercise releases endorphins – the good feeling chemicals and helps balance out serotonin levels. Exercise can help tackle some of the feelings of depression and anxiety. Yes, there are days when my fibromyalgia clients call and say they just aren’t able to make it, but I say let’s go walk and talk because movement is key. Don’t let the day be a downward spiral. I tell them to just get here and we will do the best we can with what the body can do today. Adding to this, “Exercise acts as nature’s tranquilizer by helping to boost serotonin in the brain. Studies have also shown that exercise triggers the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that are known to boost alertness. For those who feel ‘stressed out’ frequently, exercise can help to desensitize your body to stress” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-exercise?page=2).
And then the list of exercise benefits gets even better and go on to include: “Burning calories and making weight control easier, giving range-of-motion to painful muscles and joint, improving a person’s outlook on life, improving quality of sleep, improving one’s sense of well-being, increasing aerobic capacity, improving cardiovascular health, increasing energy, placing the responsibility of healing in the hands of the patient, reducing anxiety levels and depression, relieving stress associated with a chronic disease, stimulating growth hormone secretion, stimulating the secretion of endorphins or ‘happy hormones’, strengthening bones, strengthening muscles, and relieving pain” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-exercise?page=2).
Fibromyalgia is certainly a serious condition that can send one on a downward spiral of feeling hopeless. Don’t let the pain control you. Take control of your body, love your body, and fight for your health. We have to do the best with what we are given and embrace each day as an opportunity to self-improve. I can certainly help one exercise those aches away, but remember just take it one rep a time, and put one foot in front of the other because YOU are strong. So now maybe those commercials might make a little more sense to you.
BLOG 321: JOBS THAT CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN
A career life and the adulthood that goes along with making a living, can correlate with lots of time spent sitting. the hours of being sedentary increase with age and eventually, less time is spent being active and making healthy choices. Between office lunches, entertaining clients and customers, the spread in the breakroom, vending machines taunting in the hallways, and whatever co-workers decide to share, the combination of more time seated with more sugary and fat ridden foods, become a recipe for gaining weight and increase the risk for poor health.
Some of the most common jobs that are prone to weight gain include the following:
1. Software engineer: IT professionals are prone to getting wrapped up in projects that lead to skipping meals and then eating junk food when there’s time to scarf something down. All this while sitting at a computer.
2. Nurse Practitioner: Ironically this profession in the health field that advocates for nutritious eating, is rampant with stress eating.
3. Teacher: Between students, other staff members, parents, and standardized testing, this profession can be stressful. Managing a classroom setting all day then taking homework to grade can lead to stress eating and reaching for whatever is closest and most convenient to eat.
4. Police offer: There are many hours spent patrolling, sitting, and observing. When there’s action this can be very stressful. Dealing with life threating situations does lead to stress and often times comforting foods.
5. Bus driver/ Taxi/Uber/Lyft Driver: Night or day, this job is all sitting and eating on the go.
6. Administrative assistant: This profession requires juggling the lives and schedules of everyone else, leaving little self-time. Often times, this person is the first one in the office and the last one to leave, sitting and working away to help others.
7. Call center or sales jobs: The phone is always in hand and each hour is filled with constant conversation while sitting. Customer service can be stressful, while meeting commissions and quotas.
Stress alarms the body as cortisol levels strike. Feelings of fight or flight lead a person to want to suppress such levels of high emotion with food or drinks. The mind doesn’t always turn off at the end of the day, and poor sleep leads to poor choices. Waking up tired attracts the easy route when it comes to what to wear, what to eat, and this can lead to complete disregard for extracurricular activities like exercise. Even though a person might be sitting all day, coming home and sitting more sounds more appealing then hitting the gym. Suddenly, years have past and pounds have added up. Your I.D. badge depicts an entirely different body shape. Don’t let stress and your career cut years off your life. Don’t work just to use your health insurance later to cover the costs of the damage that has resulted to your body. Find time for health and set the example to your co-workers that quality of life is critical and necessary.