Nutrition By the Numbers: How Much?

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I had a conversation with a client today that started with answering her question on how many grams of carbohydrates she was supposed to have in a day. It evolved into a discussion about how to figure out nutritional numbers (calories, grams, ratio of carbohydrates, protein, fat). I thought that some of you may benefit from that information as well.

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Boot Camp Mania

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Boot camps are certainly one of the hottest trends going on right now. Originally new recruit training for the military, boot camps were intense physical and psychological conditioning programs run with the intention of turning out a “lean, mean, fighting machine.” They were also meant to train recruits to obey orders without question, “When I say jump, you ask how high.”

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HIIT Me With Your Best Shot: Time Efficient, Fat Burning Workouts

Lack of time is cited as being one of the biggest reasons people don’t work out. Traditionally it was thought that doing cardio, and the longer the better, was the way to lose fat. Well, that sounds time consuming, doesn’t it? In the past few years, a great deal of research has proven that we’ve been wrong. HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training has been shown to be far more effective than standard cardio training for fat loss.

Interval training is doing a certain number of bouts of exercise with a set rest period between. HIIT is taking those work intervals and pushing ourselves as hard as we can. HIIT has been getting more and more press as of late, possibly because of the popularity of CrossFit, P90X, Turbulence Training, Spartan Workouts, etc. that base their programs on the principals of HIIT…

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Lose the Muffin Top: The Truth about Spot Reducing

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“How do I get rid of my muffin top (the abdominal fat hanging over the belt) ?”, “…lose the fat on the back of my arms?”, “…get rid of the fat on my butt and thighs?”, “…get rid of my love handles?” These are questions I hear every day.

I’ve been a Personal Trainer for over 30 years and have known the secret to spot reducing for all of those years. Why is it a secret? Beats me. I’ve been preaching it as long as I can remember, but it just doesn’t seem to catch on. I’ll tell you it… are you ready? Wait for it… the secret to spot reducing is…you can’t! That’s it. That simple. There is no spot reducing. There is no triceps exercise that will get rid of the fat on your arms, no abdominal machine or gadget that will hit those love handles.

So here’s how it works:

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Exercise Excuse-itis: Finding A Cure

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We all know that there are many excuses why people don’t exercise or don’t exercise enough. Are they valid? I polled colleagues to come up with a top ten list of excuses. Let’s explore them David Letterman-countdown style:

#10 You’re Too Embarrassed to Start

Really… it’s surprising how often we’ll hear “I’ll go to the gym after I lose some weight.” People can be very worried about what other club members are thinking about them. In fact, whatever shape you are in, by going to the club, you draw admiration because you chose to come in and change it. See Priscilla’s story on Fit at Five.

#9 You Have No Motivation

Change in behavior takes two beliefs: you must believe you can change and you must believe it’s worth it to change. There’s your motivation question: Is it worth it? Specifically, how would you feel differently if you reached your goals? How would your life be different? Your health? Now, is going to the club, working out, watching what you eat, worth it?

#8 You Don’t Know What to Do/How to Start

As with anything new, from ballroom dance, learning to play an instrument, to using a new computer program, get professional instruction. In this case, hire a Personal Trainer or take a group exercise class.

#7 Exercise is Boring/Don’t Like to Exercise

This is usually because people hold a stereotypical view of what exercise is. Yes, it can be the gym/club activities, but it is also all forms of dance, sports, yard work, and more importantly, physical play. If you’re bored or don’t like to exercise, you just haven’t found the right activity yet…

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Weighing In On Their Future

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We’ve all heard about the youth obesity epidemic, but sometimes I wonder if people grasp how serious it is.

Did you know that 20% of four-year-olds in the US are obese? 1 in 5 four-year-olds!

Now you may say that it’s just baby fat and that they’ll grow out of it, but here are some things you should know:

  • 10% of non-obese children become obese adults
  • 40%-50% of obese children become obese adults
  • 70% of obese adolescents become obese adults
  • 80% of obese adolescents become obese adults if one parent is obese

In addition to their weight itself, most obese children have at least one other major cardiovascular risk factor, (i.e. high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high insulin or high blood pressure). These risk factors were previously thought of as adult conditions, not ones you’d find in kids. Our children’s generation could be the first generation where the parents live longer than the kids do.

So who’s to blame? In my opinion, we all are. Parents, schools, the community, and society all carry the burden of what’s happening to our kids. We all need to step up and do our part to help overcome it.

What Parents Can Do

I’m a father myself (I have two boys, ages 9 and 11) and as parents, we make choices for our kids every day that influence how they will live their lives. Here are some suggestions for what I believe we, as parents, can do to keep our kids on the right path:

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5 Pillars for a Healthy Brain

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Brain health is an ever growing concern as people age. Alzheimer’s is the second most feared illness in America. What if we could help ward off the effects of this and other brain diseases? What if we could not only battle disease, but could also help increase everyone’s ability – young and old, to learn, reason, and remember things? Well guess what, we can. The science behind brain fitness provides exciting insights into how to maximize our brain health.

Here are the five pillars of brain fitness:

Pillar 1: Nutritional Guidelines

Proper nutritional habits are associated with better brain health (ratings like Guiding Stars can help you make better food choices)

  • Decrease saturated fat (fats solid at room temperature) and sugar in your diet
  • Increasing intake of antioxidants (found in beans, berries, apples, nuts, etc) & omega 3 fatty acids (including fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts. sprouts, kale, etc)

Pillar 2: Stress Management

  • Reduce cortisol, increase rest/recovery. Cortisol increases with stress. Elevated levels of cortisol interfere with the brain’s energy supply, the function of neurotransmitters, and helps increase free-radicals that damage brain cells. Reducing stress (through exercise, meditation, etc.) can help keep cortisol in check.

Pillar 3: Physical Exercise

  • As little as 3 hours/week of cardiovascular can stimulate increases in Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), described as “Miracle Grow” for the brain

Pillar 4: Mental Stimulation

  • Variety, challenge, novelty are essential to brain function. Just like our bodies responding to physical exercise, our brains respond to the challenge of mental exercise. What kinds of new, different things can you try?

Pillar 5: Social Interaction

  • Create more opportunities to interact, build friendships. The more friends and daily interactions you have, the better it is for your brain function.

There you have it. The things we can take control of to enhance our brain health and function. Of course, as a Personal Trainer, I like to point out that pillars 2-5 can be found in a fun, friendly health club. So get to it. As the saying goes, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste…

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