Thursday, May 26, 2011
Cardiovascular exercise is the most popular form of fitness training and the only explanation I have come up with is that most people are simply uninformed. Of course, it is fairly common knowledge that cardio training burns fat, reduces stress and strengthens the heart and for this reason it has received a tremendous amount of press. Everyone wants to burn fat but maybe if they had a more comprehensive awareness of the body they just might make a few new choices. Allow me to offer you some important facts about how your body functions. That way you can choose to design an exercise program that benefits you maximally.
Your body uses three basic fueling systems to function. Glycolysis, Anaerobic and Aerobic systems. The first one, Glycolysis, is utilized and over very quickly and then the body turns to its Aerobic system which utilizes fat for fuel. This is the body's preferred system for fueling itself because fat goes much further then other fuels. However, when the demand for fuel becomes high and is needed very quickly there is no time to access fat so the body turns to its Anaerobic system and uses glucose. Glucose is stored in a compartment called the mitochondria housed within each of our muscles. Now, you may be thinking, “What do I care about all this physiology?” You care because it is equally important to train your body Aerobically, as well as Anaerobically and here’s why.
Activities like walking, jogging, cycling, stair stepping, ellipticals, rowing machines or the like are all aerobic activities. You can push yourself to the point where you may cross what is called ‘the anaerobic threshold’ and work in that system briefly but alas, few of us can train there for long...it is extremely demanding. So, then how exactly does one train their anaerobic system? Weight or resistance training is anaerobic by nature and for this reason we really need to incorporate both cardiovascular exercise and resistance exercise into a well rounded fitness program. Another very important virtue of resistance training is that it builds strong muscles and bones! Our skeletal muscular systems loses approximately 1 pound of muscle every year after age 40 IF we are not resistance training. Do this for yourself, schedule at least 1 weight training/week at the very least. It only need be 30 minutes in length if you are focused and work hard. Of course, 2-3 resistance workouts will increase your progress but steady as you go is fine too. Muscle is responsible for the efficiency of our metabolism or put another way, muscle determines how many calories our body burns/requires to sustain itself each day. The more muscle we maintain as we age, the leaner we stay, the healthier we are and typically, the longer we live. As our muscles are growing stronger, they are putting more demand on our bones which initiates bone growth. Keeping our bone density up to par is critical. Therefore, muscle development is every bit as important, possibly more so, than burning fat. You see, if your muscles need calories, they will tap into your fat stores. Sounds like a win/win to me.
The most successful fitness program takes all components into consideration, not just one aspect. Please evaluate your present program and consider making a few changes for the better; a more effective program and so a better YOU! The five basis components are 1.)cardiovascular fitness, 2.)muscular strength, 3.)muscular endurance, 4.)flexibility and 5.) coordination. With just a few careful choices you can and will find yourself feeling stronger, more balanced and with more muscular stamina, your cardio workouts improve as well. Again, a win/win. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
As we begin the month of February our attentions turn toward Valentine’s Day and love tends to be on our minds and in the air. At any time of the year however, we are all free to choose from two basic mindsets by which we approach life. From where I stand everything is a derivative of one of these two options. Sure we swing back and forth some but, for the most part, each of us predominantly resides in one or the other. Our choices boil down to either love or fear. What difference does it make which we choose? Just all the difference in the world that’s all. Remember this, “nothing changes if we don’t change.” Take this month to deliberately put your focus on inviting more love into your heart and mind..
All of the attitudes that tie your stomach in a knot, like worry, doubt, pessimism, anger, anxiety, envy, despair, judgment, jealousy, prejudice or any number of negative emotions are rooted in fear. As long as we keep choosing to live in a fear-based manner we choose to limit ourselves dramatically. In fact we choose, consciously or not, to be unhappy. The very nature of fear is that of contraction, tightening, paralyzing, stifling, it simply stops us dead in our creative tracks. Any form of fear literally creates resistance in our minds and bodies and binds us to the problem, blinding us to the solutions. IF we let go, relax and make a choice for love, love will show us the way. Love on the other hand is expansive, allowing, accepting, forgiving, and gives the benefit of the doubt and opens the flood gates to endless possibilities. This is not simply another ploy promoting positive thinking. What I am suggesting is an answer to suffering, an actual path to happiness. We don’t one day suddenly arrive at a destination called happiness, it is a state of mind and is available at any point along our journey.
Our lives are such brief and precious experiences and too often we sleep through them only to awaken at the end with a heart filled with regret. We are living life in the fast lane and complaining there is no joy to be had. Make a conscious decision to choose love. Slow down. Decide today to wake up, take responsibility for your happiness by mindfully choosing to be the lover we were all born to be. We have developed habits of worry, habits of anger, habits of sarcasm and doubt. Habits are created through physical repetition and/or repetitive thought and new habits can be created the same way. Choose to see the world, your family, friends, strangers, your job, your health and all aspects of your life as the gifts and teachers that they are. Compliment rather than criticize, look for the upside, offer a kind action, be gentle, smile more, be an up-lifter, choose to scour your day for things to appreciate and tell those you love, including yourself, that you love them just exactly the way they are, for who they are and how they mirror back that which we need to see (and possibly change) in ourselves. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
This time of year is almost hypnotic by nature. It is often grey, cold and dull outside which causes us to want to stay at home curled up on the coach mesmerized by the TV, lost in a book or, at the very least, lingering in the bed much longer than we should. It feels natural to crave heavy foods like stew, chili, pot roast, gravy and mashed potatoes. Our energy tends to be low and we are less than motivated to workout. It’s an effort to get to the gym and we have forgotten altogether the importance of hydration even though we are stuck indoors constantly and subject to extremely dry environments. The cold weather holds us hostage, except for the few who happen to enjoy skiing. The days are short and by quitting time all you can think about is heading for the house and snuggling in for an evening of mindless entertainment. This madness has to STOP!
Do yourself a huge favor and WAKE UP, stretch your body, take a few long, thorough cleansing breathes and make for yourself a very conscious decision. Decide that February 1st is going to be the beginning of a healthy new year. No one says that New Year's resolutions have to be made in January. There is always the opportunity for starting over and most of us spin our wheels, rarely beginning the new year on a healthy note in January. So, begin anew in February and decide to shake off the winter doldrums by eating a few more fruits and vegetables, going to a gym 2-3 times each week and carrying your water bottle again. Within a couple weeks of getting yourself back in the health and fitness groove you will undeniably ‘feel better.’ The holidays throw most of us off and that’s just the way it is but they are now long gone and Spring will be creeping in sooner then you think. After all, January is already history. Fast on the heels of Spring is Summer and we all tend to panic when we realize swim suit season is HERE! Won’t it feel fantastic to be ahead of the game this year, having lost those winter pounds in February and March? You can and will do this and here is why.
We Americans are among some of the best educated humans on the planet; that’s right, we are smart and we know. The trick is staying awake and conscious and I believe we have the maturity and wisdom to do that now. This is going to be the year when the statistics begin to show dramatic swings toward taking better care of ourselves, toward people showing greater compassion to themselves and others and toward a tendency to ‘wake up.’ The days of shirking our responsibility for ourselves is waning and we are quickly realizing that if we don’t take care of ourselves and loved ones no one else is going to. That’s a good thing though because our government and our medical professionals were never meant to hold that power...we inadvertently gave our power away. Take back your innate power...your birthright. We are all powerful beings and we are awakening to this truth. It begins by each of us individually DECIDING to be the kind, loving steward we were born to be, first for our ourselves and then for those closest to us. As we become healthy, whole and strong, we model that to our extended families, friends, communities and so on. This nation is a proud nation and yet we have been hiding our heads in the sand pretending if we ignore our problems that ‘someone’ will magically correct them. Those days are gone...thankfully so. Make this year the year that you regain control over your own health and well-being. By doing your part you will become a light for others who will also wake up and regain their power as well. Take baby steps. Get more sleep, reduce the fast food meals you eat, cook fresh not packaged foods, move your body for a few minutes every day be it dancing, walking or working out on the elliptical, drink 8 glasses of water a day and make time for your spiritual connection. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
If you are seeking to change any aspect of your life be it improved health, weight loss, better employment, happier relationships or anything for that matter, the first step is to become very clear with yourself. It sounds simple and quite logical but I promise you, most people don't take the time to concretely set their intention. Heck, most people don't usually give it enough conscious thought to exactly pin down what it is that they genuinely want. It takes time and awareness to dig into our feelings and desires far enough to hit pay dirt. It’s easy to say, “I’m unhappy,” but what EXACTLY would it take to make you happy? Often as we explore this question we find what we truly desire isn’t as cut and dried as what we had originally thought. In fact, my experience is that it is usually just the tip to a massive iceberg contingent on many things changing. Chunk it down and change the easiest habits and patterns first, then slowly work up to the larger more challenging ones.
If you are yearning to make lasting change, take out a pad and pen and begin to explore your desire as you can define it right now. Write at the top of the page, " The change I want to make is________." Then sit back and think about that for a few minutes and IF it seems to be an accurate statement, move down a line or two and begin a list of all reasons you want this change. How would it positively impact all the different areas of your life? How would it feel to have actualized this? What freedoms would it afford you? Would it positively impact those close to you, your community, your state, the country? Thoroughly explore ALL or as many areas of your life that you can think of; things that would improve if this change were a fact. What is likely to happen during this process is that you will find yourself redefining your desire, honing it into a sharper, more precise desire. The end results will be one of clarity, way more awareness and a sureness, much brighter than you ever had around this change before. You are now ready to begin creating a game plan to move you in the direction of your goal. This is when the real work begins. Often there are people in our lives who, consciously or not, will be resistant to our making these changes. Stay true to thyself! Part of your plan needs to take these people into account and work on a couple responses that you will use as their defenses arise. Something kind, clear and reassuring works best. Remind them that you are your own master/creator and that when it comes to your personal life, body, employment, relationships you really do know what feels best FOR YOU. They are certainly welcome to their opinions and you appreciate their input but in the long run, you will and must remain loyal to what your heart dictates. Of course, the same holds true for them. Stay your course! Being true to your heart's desires seems like a no-brainer however, old habits die hard. We truly are creatures of habit and in order to implement permanent change we have to change EVERYTHING around the way we have previously addressed this aspect of ourselves, otherwise nothing will change. After all, we can’t keep behaving, thinking and feeling the old same way and expect new and different results can we? Change takes awareness, consistency, and most of all, conviction. You have to want this with all your heart and soul and when you genuinely do...real and permanent change is yours!
Don't ever worry about setbacks...they are natural and change takes practice and time to perfect. Again, stay the course! Resist being self-condemning at all costs. It is a complete waste of your precious time and energy. Make appointments in your day runner to work on this change whether it be workouts 3 times/wk., time to cook healthier meals, time to perfect your resume for future circulation, couples therapy, time to talk to a Spiritual Advisor, sitting down with an accountant and hammering out a budget or whatever will help you move this change into your reality. Although you will begin to see small improvements immediately, allow 3 months for the really large improvements to show up. Rome wasn’t built in a day and we aren’t going to implement lasting change overnight. Be patient, committed and true to your endeavor. The end results will shock and amaze you and all the persistence will most definitely pay off. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.