Archive for December, 2009

How to Finally Achieve Your New Years Fitness Resolutions

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

New Years ResolutionsSo we survived the Holidays and New Years is just around the corner. A wonderful time of celebration, friends, champagne, and of course New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are wonderful ways to better ourselves and finally attempt to become the productive, happy, healthy person that we know we can be.

The trouble with New Year’s Resolutions is that after time our enthusiasm to make changes tend to wane once we realize we can’t change everything overnight and the commitment to make these changes becomes less exciting and too much work. According to www.proactivechange.com 40%-45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. Among the top New Year’s resolutions are those dealing with weight loss and exercise. In addition, according to this site a mere 46% maintain these resolutions after six months.

In order to make lasting changes, there are several things that you can do to stick to your fitness resolutions and actually see the results that you’ve been wishing for since New Year’s Day 1989. By modifying your attitude, changing your lifestyle and coming up with an effective and realistic plan for success you can make 2010 the year that you actually did it.

Modifying your Attitude- According to exercise.about.com by having the wrong attitude about fitness you’re setting yourself up for failure before you even started. Oftentimes people consider exercise merely a punishment for bad eating habits, an obligation, painful and time consuming, boring, or impossible to sustain over a long period of time.

By modifying your attitude about exercise in general you are more likely to stick with your program and see positive results. Try out a different perspective because after all, you’re the only one that can truly change your attitude and therefore the outcome. Instead of boring or painful look at exercise as a break from a stressful day, a way to boost energy and mood, time for yourself, time for your mind to rest, a reward for your body or a way to improve your quality of life.

Here are some additional key points about exercise from exercise.about.com:

1. Sheer willpower doesn’t work- Willpower is for short-term success. Long-term success requires planning, discipline and finding new and different ways to motivate yourself every day.

2. Motivation will not magically happen-
What motivates you will change from day to day. You will have to recommit to your goals each day, tweak them to fit changes in your lifestyle and attitude and find new ways to motivate yourself over the course of your entire life.

3. You will not always want to exercise and eat healthy- This is something that you will have to work on every day.

Adjust your Lifestyle- By adjusting your lifestyle you will have the best chance of success in sticking to your New Year’s fitness resolutions. Although you’ve probably heard this before, let it really sink in this time: losing weight and maintaining that weight is a lifetime prospect. You will never stop working to maintain your fitness and weight. So, before you start a diet or exercise program, old or new, ask yourself if you can sustain this diet for the long term or if your exercise program is something that you can commit to every day.

Simply put, being overweight is the fault of an unhealthy lifestyle, eating too much and not allowing enough time for exercise. This being said, one you recognize the gravity of permanently losing weight, you’ll need to change your lifestyle to accommodate this goal. Here’s a couple ways to do just that:
eating healthy
1. Figure out your bad habits- Keep a food/activity journal for an entire week. Be completely honest with yourself and do it without shame- this is simply a way to figure out habits that may be hurting your weight loss goals.

2. Replace bad habits one at a time- Replace bad habits with good habits. You can’t break bad habits without forming new ones. If you take away your daily morning donut and don’t replace it with something else that’s better for you you’ll drift right back to your old unhealthy habit.

This may sound easy but it’s not. Giving up something yummy for something healthy isn’t easy. You need to change your environment to make it impossible to have or even want that donut. Try these ideas:

1. Figure out beforehand what you’re going to eat instead of that donut. Stock up on breakfast foods that you like and that are healthier. Try different flavors of meal replacement bars or fruit shakes/smoothies.

2. Take stock in every bite that you put in your mouth, if it’s not healthy is it really worth it? For sure you’ll enjoy that first bite or flavor explosion but after that what do you really get out of it? More than likely all you get is fat, calories and guilt.

3. Eat before you get in the car in the morning so you won’t be starving and tempted to go through the drive thru or to your favorite bakery to pick up a bite.

4. Change your driving route so you don’t even have to pass by your favorite bakery.

5. Write down your weight loss goal and tape it to your steering wheel or your glove compartment so that you are constantly reminded of your goals.

Make a Plan for Success- So thus far you’ve figured out how to change bad eating habits by replacing them with good ones and to create for yourself a healthy environment that doesn’t allow your bad habits to exist. Now you need to make a plan for what you really want.

1. Set Goals- Write down specific goals including how much weight you want to lose (make sure it is reasonable for your height and frame), a target date to reach your goals, why you want to lose this weight, and how you’ll maintain your weight loss once achieved. Remember, it’s a lifetime commitment you can’t just quit once you reach your goal.

2. Set up your program- A complete program involves cardio, strength training and stretching.

3. Ensure your success-
Here are just a few suggestions regarding ensuring your success and staying consistent. Enlist family members to help you out; hire a personal trainer; get a friend to exercise with you; set aside time every week to plan out your exercise routines and meals; keep a workout bag packed and ready; keep a fitness journal to track workouts and progress; reward yourself with massages, shopping, or vacations; change your workout program every 6 weeks to avoid plateaus; revisit your goals every six months to see where you’re at and if further narrowing them down is in order.

Losing weight requires modifying your attitude, changing your lifestyle and making specific plans. You will need to change the way you think about exercise and eating, change the way you schedule your day and be prepared for what’s ahead in order to stick to your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions.

Make Time for Exercise to Experience a Truly Zen Holiday Season

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Zen ChristmasTis’ the season for Holiday shopping, preparing for family gatherings, eggnog and basically anything else that can either cause stress or wreak havoc on your body. It can be the happiest but also the most nerve-racking time of the year. You may want to consider adding exercise to your daily routine to not only promote health but to tackle all of those little Holiday stressors.

According to stress.about.com exercise is an excellent stress reduction tool for several reasons:

1. Give Yourself a Natural Boost- Exercise releases endorphins and other “happy hormones” in your body, promoting a feeling of wellbeing. It can decrease stress hormones like cortisol and increase endorphins giving your body a natural boost. (The same chemistry behind a runner’s high.

2. Social Support- Some forms of exercise allow you to be social, which can also be great for stress reduction. Whether you’re in a class with others, working out with a buddy, playing softball with friends or taking a walk with a friend, working out with others can make you feel good and motivate you to push harder.

3. Looking Good- Exercise can raise feelings of self-esteem and bring other benefits that improve quality of life. It ultimately helps you to lose weight, tone your body and maintain a healthy glow and smile. Whether the effects are subtle or significant this impact can increase confidence and relieve stress.

4. An Outlet for Frustrations- Exercise helps to release built-up tension in the body. When life’s annoyances build up, a high energy form of exercise like boxing, martial arts or weight training can provide a release of negative emotions.

5. Distraction- Physical activity can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity that you’re doing or put you into a Zen-like state. Exercise also usually involves a change of scenery. Whether it takes you to a gym, a park, a biking trail or your neighborhood sidewalk, a change of scenery can ultimately change your point of view.

6. Resilience to Stress- Research suggests that physical activity may be linked to lower physiological reactivity toward stress. Those who get more exercise may become less affected by the stresses that they face.

With all of these benefits, it’s clear that if you can exercise you should. Below are a few exercises that help specifically with stress relief.

Yoga- Yoga is good for physical health and flexibility. It can also help get you into a meditative state.

Swimming- Swimming combines the soothing properties of water and the benefits of exercise. It’s a great way to get in shape, cool off and feel great. It’s also a wonderful form of exercise of older or injury-prone adults.

Walking- Walking is an exercise that just about anybody can do; it’s also very easy and can conform to any schedule. You can take a walk during lunch, put your kids in the stroller and take a walk around the neighborhood, etc.

So amongst all of the Holiday hustle and bustle if you feel your anxiety level beginning to rise why not take 45 minutes out of your day to get your heart rate up and a little bit of exercise? Aside from stress relief, exercise has so many benefits and could ultimately help make your Holidays a little brighter.

I Can Feel it in My Bones: The Ins and Outs of Arthritis

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Hand on a shoulder“I think it’s going to snow, I can feel it in my bones.” Predictions like this are all too common from arthritis sufferers as the cold winter months settle upon us. Many people who suffer from arthritis believe that they can predict the weather with the increased pain that they might feel during cold, snowy and rainy weather. What would normally be an arthritic stiff joint or dull ache can easily become a shooting pain during the winter months.

Over 43 million Americans, or one in six people, deal with the pain associated with arthritis. It is a common condition with pain that can often become unbearable during the winter. In this winter-edition blog I have provided some information on the most common types of arthritis, warning signs, treatments, and how to deal with weather-induced aches and pains.

According to the National Institute on Aging, arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 19 million adults. There are many kinds of arthritis, each with different symptoms and treatments. Most types of arthritis are chronic however, meaning that they can go on for a long period of time. Below are the most common types of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in older people. OA starts when cartilage that pads bones in a joint begins to wear away. When the cartilage has worn away, your bones rub against each other. OA most often happens in the hands, neck, lower back, or the large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees and hips.

OA symptoms range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to pain that doesn’t stop, even when you are resting or sleeping. Sometimes OA causes your joints to feel stiff after you haven’t moved them for awhile, like after riding in the car. The stiffness goes away when you move the joint. Over time, OA can make it hard to move your joints. It can cause a disability if your back, knees, or hips are affected.

Why do you get OA? Growing older is what most often puts you at risk for OA, possibly because your joints and the cartilage around them become less able to recover from stress and damage. Also, OA in the hands may run in families. Or, OA in the knees can be linked with being overweight. Injuries or overuse may cause OA in joints such as knees, hips, or hands.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, a type of illness that makes your body attack itself. RA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that lasts for hours. RA can happen in many different joints at the same time. People with RA often feel tired or run a fever. RA is more common in women than men.

RA can damage almost any joint. It often happens in the same joint on both sides of your body. RA can also cause problems with your heart, muscles, blood vessels, nervous system, and eyes.

Gout is one of the most painful kinds of arthritis. It most often happens in the big toe, but other joints can also be affected. Swelling may cause the skin to pull tightly around the joint and make the area red or purple and very tender.

Eating foods rich in purines like liver, dried beans, peas, anchovies, or gravy can lead to a gout attack. Using alcohol, being overweight, and taking certain medications may make gout worse. In older people, some blood pressure medicines can also increase the chance of a gout attack. To decide if you have gout, your doctor might do blood tests and x-rays.

Here are some warning signs that you might have one of these types of arthritis:

  • Ongoing joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
  • Problems using or moving a joint normally
  • Warmth and redness in a joint

If any one of these symptoms lasts more than 2 weeks, see a doctor.
Properly treating any of these common forms of arthritis includes getting enough rest, doing the right exercise, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and learning the right way to use and protect your joints are keys to living with any kind of arthritis. The right shoes and a cane can help with pain in the feet, knees, and hips when walking. There are also gadgets to help you open jars and bottles or to turn the doorknobs in your house.

Some medicines may also help with pain and swelling. Acetaminophen might ease arthritis pain. Some people find NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen, helpful. Some NSAIDs are sold without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor.

Along with taking the right medicine and properly resting your joints, exercise might help with arthritis symptoms. Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps keep joints moving, lessens pain, and makes muscles around the joints stronger.

Three types of exercise are best if you have arthritis:

Range-of-motion exercises, like dancing, might relieve stiffness, keep you flexible, and help you keep moving your joints.

Strengthening exercises, such as weight training, will keep or add to muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect your joints.

Aerobic or endurance exercises, like bicycle riding, make your heart and arteries healthier, help prevent weight gain, and also may lessen swelling in some joints.

Along with exercise and weight control, there are other ways to ease the pain around joints. You might find comfort by using a heating pad or a cold pack, soaking in a warm bath, or swimming in a heated pool.
Your doctor may suggest surgery when damage to your joints becomes disabling or when other treatments do not help with pain. Surgeons can repair or replace some joints with artificial (man-made) ones.

If you suffer from weather-induced arthritis there are several measures that can be taken. According to health.gmnews.com winter is a time when we not only catch colds and flu but also when chronic ailments are exacerbated by the cold, wind and damp. People with arthritis may experience their condition worsening in the winter months with even achier bones and joints. The cold and snow associated with winter can cause tendons, ligaments and muscles surrounding joints to contract and cavities in joints can also be affected by atmospheric pressure.

Although weather can affect arthritis, weather does not cause arthritis. No matter the cause, those painful joints can be the result. It is advised that arthritis sufferers wrap up affected areas very well if braving the elements and pay particular attention to extremities by wearing warm socks and gloves and try to maintain good circulation by moving around more.

It is also suggested that people with weather-induced arthritis keep warm, avoid the strains of activities of activities like shoveling snow, and to be careful on slippery surfaces to avoid injuries.