Archive for the ‘fitness’ Category

Exercise Your Way Young?

April 17, 2014

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We all know that exercise benefits our health in many ways, but a new study shows it might also help us look younger too.

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that mice became ill when sedentary, but thrived when given access to a running wheel. The theory was then applied to humans, with positive results.

A group of  men and women ages 20-84 were split into 2 groups; the first exercising vigorously for 3 hours per week, and the other less than 1 hour per week. It was discovered that after age 40, those who got more exercise also had thinner and healthier status cornuems and thicker dermis layers, a skin composition more similar to those aged 20-30.

They also studied a sedentary group of people over the age of 65. After three months on an exercise programs, the participant’s skin was found to be similar in make up to that of 20-40 year olds, and they looked visibly younger.

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Instead of investing in costly lotions and potions to battle the visible signs of aging, perhaps it’s time to start working out. You heart, lungs, bones and skin will thank you.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Sports Beer

February 21, 2014

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Generally speaking, drinking a beer after your workout is not the best choice. It’s dehydrating, bloating, and has enough calories to negate the effects of the workout. Unless it’s a Lean Machine Ale that is.

Canada’s latest entry into the world of breweries, is not only a healthier option to traditional ales, but it also marketing itself as a sports drink!

Aside from having a low alcohol content, it contains antioxidants and electrolytes that aid in recovery, and replenish vital nutrients often lost during high intensity exercise. One 77 calorie can,contains 7 grams of protein, and 7 different vitamins. It is shown to boost the immune system, and is gluten free.

For those of you in the states looking to give it a try, the company is offering a 24 pack, for $150, which comes with shares in Lean Machine, a hat and tee shirt, and an invitation to a local launch party. Why not give it a try?

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Cutting The Mustard

February 12, 2014

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Athletes often use sports drinks and energy gels to refuel and prevent muscle cramps during strenuous activities. These costly and high sugar aids can easily be replaced by a simple fast food staple: mustard packets.

Muscle cramps are often caused by a deficiency in  acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that simulates the muscles during work. When consumed, mustard triggers the body to produce more  acetylcholine, due to it’s high acetic acid content.

Turmeric, which gives mustard it’s rich yellow hue, is thought to have beneficial properties as well. Often touted as an anti-inflammatory and a natural arthritis aid, turmeric is thought to reduce muscle stiffness and joint swelling.

Vinegar, found in prepared mustard, is another home remedy which is effective in  relieving muscle cramps. Just one packet of mustard contains the same amount of sodium as 8 oz. of Gatorade Endurance. The combination of vinegar, sodium and turmeric packs a big punch in supporting athlete’s quick nutritional needs.

If your artificially flavored sports gels and drinks aren’t cutting the mustard anymore, it might be time to try the real deal.

photo: Glasshouse Images

What We’re Buzzing About This Week

February 6, 2014

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It’s been a full week,and people across America are buzzing about the turn of events.

First up,the newly crowned winner of this season’s Biggest Loser dropped 155 pounds in just 14 weeks, triggering an outcry that she may have gone too far. At 5′ 4″, Rachel Frederickson weighs 105 pounds, just shy of a healthy BMI. While most professionals consider 1 to 2 pounds per week healthy and sustainable weight loss, Frederickson shed 1.5 pounds per day! Did she go too far?

Discussing the weather has moved from banal small talk to a hot topic. We have been bombarded by snow, extremely low temperatures and tornadoes, with no sign of it letting up. Is Mother Nature mad at us, or is all the buzz about global climate change really not just a political issue? Discuss.

Facebook is celebrating it’s 10th birthday by offering it’s loyal followers a personalized memory video. The cheesy retrospective, set to muzak, is based on your photos, most liked posts and profile pictures generated during your time on the social network.  It could move you to tears, make you cringe and at the very least lead you to re-evaluate what you share with the world.

Sports journalists are arriving in Sochi, Russia, in anticipation of the upcoming Olympics. What they are finding is accommodations that are well below sub-standard. Broken toilets, group toilets, and brown water are among the highlights of the hotel rooms they are staying in. One reporter found a large insect preserved for eternity in the packet of honey he opened at breakfast. Between the squalor and the terror threats, this is going to be an interesting Olympics. Let the games begin!

New York Fashion Week gets underway today, so again,  let the games begin!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

How Much Should I Eat?

January 24, 2014

January is the most popular month to start a diet and exercise regime, as many resolve to get in shape in the coming year.
While it may be widely known that cutting calories is the key to weight loss, most of us don’t know how many calories we need in the first place.

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Each of us has our own magic number: the number of calories our body needs just to exist. Even if you lay on the couch all day long, you need energy to keep your body functioning. That amount is called your basel metabolic rate, or BMR. This can be calculated using the Harris-Benedict equation for women:

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BMR= 655+ (4.35 x current weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years). By plugging in your height, weight and age, you will determine the total number of calories you need to exist. Next, multiply your BMR by your activity factor, as estimated below, to get the total number of calories needed per day.

Sedentary: minimal movement: multiply by 1.4

Minimal: office work or 1 hour of moderate activity per day: 1.5

Moderate: Light physical labor during the day, such as light housework, and an active lifestyle: 1.6

Very Active: Athlete, active military personnel, or heavy laborer: 1.9

This new number is amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight.
To lose weight, you need to eliminate calories through consuming less, and/or burning more through activity.

You need to eliminate 3500 calories to lose one pound. With a healthy goal of losing one pound per week, that means you must eliminate 500 calories per day. Most doctors and nutritionists caution against eating less than 1200 calories per day, to maintain good health.
It is a good idea to use a food and activity journal app to help accurately estimate the calories you are consuming, and how many you are burning through exe

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photos: Glasshouse Images

Little Changes Reap Big Rewards

January 20, 2014

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New reports show that the average American is eating 78 calories less per day, than they did 5 years ago. The change is credited with the decline in saturated fats due to more limited consumption of fast foods.

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of our country’s recession, is the cutback on spending in fast food establishments and other restaurants, driving people to opt  for home cooked meals.

With greater attention being paid to wellness initiatives from shows like The Biggest Loser, the upgrading of school lunch programs and Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, people are becoming more conscious of the need for a healthy diet and exercise regime.

While 78 calories per day may seem trivial, it does add up over the course of the year. While on average, it takes 3500 calories to make a pound, a reduction of just 78 calories x 365 days per year, adds up to a weight loss of over 8 pounds in a year.

There is still much room for improvement in our country’s diet, and reduction of the obesity rate, but clearly this is a step in the right direction.

Want to cut 78 calories a day out of your diet? Food preparation actually burns calories!
*Just 15 minutes of food shopping burns about 22 calories, and carrying the bags and putting the groceries away is worth another 26.

Preparing a simple meal uses up about 17-26 calories, and setting the table and serving the meal burns about 26 as well. If you get stuck with the dishes, you will likely burn another 22 calories. All added up, that’s about 92 calories burned before you even pick up your fork.

Chances are, the food you prepare will be fresher, simpler and therefore healthier than driving through to the fast food window to pick up a greasy, meal high in saturated fats. It sounds like a win-win situation to us!

Little changes can reap big rewards!

* based on a 150 pound person. Those weighing more, will burn more for the same tasks.

photo: Glasshouse Images

New Year’s Revolution

January 1, 2014

They’re coming and it won’t be pleasant. Like the zombie apocalypse, they will invade our gyms and fitness classes and unwittingly wreck havoc in our lives. Sit tight people, it won’t last long. By the end of the month, the masses will recede, and things will get back to normal. Who I am writing about, you may ask? The New  Year’s Resolutionaries!

Each year, swarms of people join gyms January 1st, and resolve that THIS is the year they will get in shape. They start out with all good intentions, and then somehow burn out and fade away. Health Clubs typically see a big boost in membership this time of year, and lock people into contracts so that they get paid whether or not their members succeed in becoming the gym rats they aspire to be.

If you are one of the millions of people starting the year off with the promise of fitness, here are a few tips for making the commitment stick, while avoiding pissing off those who were there first:

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Start slowly

If you over do it, you will be sore, exhausted and discouraged. Instead of vowing to workout everyday, commit to hitting the gym 2 or 3 times a week to start.

Set realistic expectations

Going from sedentary to running 5 miles straight isn’t realistic. Neither is lifting super heavy weights, or doing multiple fitness classes in a row. Start with a run/walk combination and increase the running time each week until you can get through a mile without stopping. If you aren’t experienced with strength training, invest in a few sessions with personal trainer who can teach you proper form and help design a program for you. Bad form + too heavy weights=injury.

Make a gym date with yourself and keep it

Put your workout into your agenda, and take it as seriously as you would if it were a doctor’s appointment, a business meeting or a date with someone you really want to see. If you really can’t make it, reschedule it right away.

If you reserve a spot in a popular class, show up, and don’t leave in the middle.

Some popular classes ( read: indoor cycling ) are difficult to get into. Us regulars become enraged when they are turned away from a full class, only to see you walk out 15 minutes later because it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Do what you can, but stick with it! Take a short breather, pull back on the intensity but try to tough it out if you can. Conversely, don’t sign up for the toughest class in the gym right away. Find something more in line with your fitness level, and build up from there.

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Let the instructor know you’re a newbie:

They will help you get set up, watch your form and cut you some slack on your intensity. Set yourself up for success by letting them know you’re a beginner.

Be conscious of your food intake:

For the most part, weight is based on calories in, and calories out. Just because you took a 30 minute stroll on the treadmill, it doesn’t mean you can pig out afterwards. It takes 3500 calories to make a pound. If you do the math, burning 150 calories at the gym does not mean you can indulge in a 350 calorie congratulatory treat and lose weight. You also need food to fuel your workout. Starving yourself will not result in having the energy to complete a serious workout. Ask my friend who took 3 fitness classes in a row without eating, and passed out in the shower. Facing the paramedics and health club staff buck naked was not fun.

Keeping a food and activity journal will help you determine your calorie intake and expenditure. I recommend an free app called Lose It! to keep you honest, and on track to meet your goals.

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Find something you love to do, and stick with it.

If you hate running, you most likely will not do it enough to make a difference. If you love to dance, try a hip-hop or Zumba class. If you like a high intensity workout, and are motivated by a group setting, try indoor cycling or a boot camp style class. If you like being outside, go walking, hiking or skiing. If you find something you enjoy, staying with it will be much easier.

Don’t create gridlock.

Most people go to the gym to work hard. If you are going to just stand around and chat, please step to the side and get out of the way. This concept applies to walking down the street in New York City as well, but that is a whole other post! Don’t camp out on a bench or piece of equipment while you text, fix your ponytail or sip colorful water. Allow others to “work in” and keep moving.

Clean up after yourself:

Wipe your sweat off the equipment, put your weights away, and please don’t leave your towels, dirty tissues or makeup smeared Q-tips laying around. It’s disrespectful, unsanitary and downright gross. Shout out to those who leave their used disposable razors in the shower. Even in the poshest gyms, with ample cleaning staff, it’s just downright unacceptable.

It’s not magic.

Fitness and healthy eating isn’t a fad, or a quick fix. It takes hard work, diligence and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. You probably didn’t gain weight, or lose muscle tone in a week, and you won’t lose weight and gain significant strength in that period of time either.You need to do the work to get the results. Give it time.

If you fall off the wagon, get back on fast.

Nobody is perfect, and if you indulge when you know you shouldn’t, enjoy it, and get back to healthy eating right away. If you miss a few workouts, recommit and get moving again. Don’t take a defeatist attitude and decide since you already blew it, it’s over. You are only one meal, and one workout away from being back on track.

See you tomorrow at the gym?

photos: Glasshouse Images

Start the  year off right:

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Musings from the Front Row

December 24, 2013

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I work out religiously, but I am not a fitness class junkie. I do take cycling classes, and about once a week or so, I add in a high intensity metabolic conditioning class. The rest of the time, I work out on my own. I am not overly social at the gym, and I am far from an exhibitionist.

In classes, I tend to find a spot in the back, often near the door in case I decide to make an early exit ( which I never actually do!) I don’t coordinate my gym clothes, create elaborate hairdo’s, nor do I yell “whoo” during the difficult times. I go to sweat, I work hard, and I tend to blend into the group.

Until yesterday. I took  a class with a favorite instructor I hadn’t seen in awhile, and he talked me into a spot right next to him in the front row. He would demo an exercise, and then move around the room, timing the intervals, tweaking and motivating the group, Once we was off, the focus was on me, and the others situated front and center. CRINGE! I cautiously took my place, feeling the pressure of everyone being able to see me. The view from up there is decidedly different, and in the end I learned a few things.

1. I was extremely conscious of my form. Although I generally try to put form first, it’s easy to get a little sloppy, and not lunge or squat as deeply, or straighten your arms fully on overhead presses when you get tired. With the knowledge that 40+ people were standing behind me watching my every move, I perfected my form on each and every rep.

2. There is no slacking in the front row. During the series of one minute all out intervals, it’s easy to get tired and skip a few beats. Knowing that everyone would know if I stopped, forced me to keep going, even when the urge to back off was overwhelming. Further note to self: Some of that fatigue is all in your head. Push past it!

3. When you make faces, roll your eyes, or mutter during the hard parts, the instructor totally knows. BUSTED!

Today, I assumed my normal position in the back near the door, but my inner mantra became ” work like you’re in the front row and everyone is watching!”

My experience did not make me want to live life in the proverbial  spotlight, but it did make me more aware of my actions.

While the old adage ” dance as if nobody is watching” is a good one, in this case, the moral of the story is: “work like everyone is watching!”

Where do you like to workout in your fitness classes?Are you a front row type, or a back of the packer,like me? Let us know in the comments!

photo: Of someone that isn’t me: Glasshouse Images

Join The Battle

December 4, 2013

First it was Black Friday, and then it was Cyber Monday, two days designated to spend money on material things for yourself and others.

But you wouldn’t you give up everything, just to see a loved one regain their health, or come back to life after losing their battle with a debilitating disease? Today, on Giving Tuesday, we humbly request that you help us in our quest to cure rare cancers.

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I am part of a wonderful charity called Cycle for Survival, founded by a friend and former colleague, Jennifer Goodman Linn and her husband Dave.

Although Jen lost her personal fight with a rare form of cancer almost 2 years ago, her legacy lives on in the foundation she started to find a cure. Each year, my team and I ride to raise money to support that fight. So far, our efforts have helped fund over 85 clinical trials, helping to increase the lifespan, and quality of life for many cancer sufferers. We have pledged to ride until we no longer have to; a time when no family has to see a loved one suffer from this horrible disease again.

Won’t you join our battle?
Click on the link to Donate.

Please click on the link to see a short video about the event.

Cycle for Survival

We, and all of the people who benefit from this research, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Stay the Course

November 18, 2013

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Recently, I have been commuting to Boston for a project that I am working on. My hotel, while very comfortable, is isolated. Set on a cliff above a highway, there isn’t an opportunity to go out, without calling a cab. There isn’t anywhere near the office to walk to either, so I need to impose on someone everyday to take to me get something for lunch.

At home, I am very rigid about keeping to a routine. I eat very healthfully, bring my lunch to the office wherever possible, and exercise everyday. I walk everywhere, and easily log the suggested 10,000 steps before getting to the office many days.

Being away from home poses a challenge to an uber healthy lifestyle, but it is surmountable. Last week taught me a few lessons in sustaining my diet and workout while away from home.

If you are a morning exerciser, get up and workout, whereever you are. It’s harder when you are away, but I have found that sticking to my familiar routine helps my body adjust to jet lag, and keeps me from feeling out of control. My hotel has a small but serviceable gym, which helps, but going for a run outside, or even a brisk walk, is better than dropping the ball completely. That a.m. workout habit didn’t come easily…disrupting it for long periods of time can make it harder to get back on track when you are home again.

Don’t be afraid to be one of those people who ask for sauce on the side or specially prepared food. There were days I thought I was making wise food decisions, only to discover that my vegetables were slathered in butter, and my simply grilled chicken breast was sitting atop a big bowl of creamed corn, the advertised spinach being a mere garnish, rather than a side dish. The bread basket posed an unusual temptation; one that doesn’t generally phase me. From now on, I will ask them to leave it off my tray. Now that I know that they liberally butter the steamed vegetables, I will request them plain. I will ask for a simply grilled chicken breast or salmon filet, without the sauce and trimmings, and order a side salad, or unbuttered vegetables on the side. I will ask for olive oil and lemon, instead of creamy salad dressings, and grilled vs. fried chicken on my salad. I am not asking them to make me things that they don’t offer; I am merely requesting that they leave something off. I will ask kindly, and thank them profusely, and I am certain they will be happy to oblige.

I noticed a Trader Joe’s and a gourmet market near the office. I asked my taxi driver to pull up, and I ran in and stocked up on Greek  yogurt, nuts, green tea, and fruit to keep in the office. I now have healthy food on hand when I am hungry, and I am no longer at the mercy of others to get me lunch.

The occasional business trip is not enough to completely derail your routine, but those of who are traveling regularly to the same location, consistency is key. I hope to employ these tactics this coming week, to get me back on track.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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