Adding Balance

As we grow older, we lose our sense of balance. The scary fact is that this starts around age 25 but thankfully we don’t really feel the effects of this loss until we hit 40 or 50 years. According to the National Institute of Health one in three people over the age of 65 will experience a fall each year.  Several factors lead to this statistic and most of them normal aging processes. Sight changes, natural deterioration of the inner ear system, loss of coordination and reflexes and decreases in muscle mass and strength are all factors of aging that contribute to the loss of balance.  We cannot fight them all but we can work on muscle strength and coordination. We cannot stop this loss but we can slow its process.

We need to increase muscle strength by continuing to incorporate strength and toning exercises in our fitness routines but we also need to incorporate balance work. Yoga and Tai Chi help improve balance, but something as basic as walking on uneven surfaces will help.  Walking in a straight line (imaginary tight rope) is a great test of balance. Practice your balance with standing on one leg for 15, 30 or even 60 seconds is a great balance exercise. When you reach those higher times without trouble, add in bicep curls or small shoulder exercises to increase the difficulty.

As a trainer I incorporate quite a bit of functional movements as well as balance work into a routine. I recommend that every one do so. Its never too early to start balance training. The earlier the better because there will come a time when its too little too late.

Steps

stepsI don’t own a Fitbit but I am interested in the number of steps I take daily. The powers that be suggest a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Depending where you live that could be a daunting number or your mid-day count. I moved from the remote little town of Saint Mary’s GA to the pedestrian friendly city of Charleston SC. I worked out and ran while in Saint Mary’s GA and usually hit 9,000 steps give or take 1,000. Now, living in an urban area within walking distance of all things I need, I am hitting about 20,000 steps per day. I walk to the grocery store, the yoga studio, restaurants in the area on top of runs or other workouts I complete in a day.

It is said that European women are often thinner due to their activity levels. But I think this is really comparing city living to suburban living. When I visited London and Paris recently, my husband and I averaged about 20,000 steps a day. We walked everywhere, toured museums, historical sites, etc. It was great exercise. I would imagine if we visited more remote towns we would have driven more and walked less. I really think this is a city vs suburban living issue. When I lived in a suburban area, all I could do in my neighborhood was walk for exercise on the paths near my house or walk the dogs. The neighborhood clubhouse (pool and gym) was 2 ½ miles away and the grocery store was a 10-minute drive. It would take me 90 minutes round trip to walk to the gym. I can’t imagine how many hours it would take walking to the grocery store and back.

Living in such a remote area left us thirsty for pedestrian friendly living. We are very excited that we can walk wherever we want and driving is only for getting to work or running errands outside the area. I’m very thankful for this change in activity. I know that not everyone can change where they live. I also believe that there is an unfair advantage for those who cannot walk to all their daily activities. It’s so easy to get in my steps and multiply it by 2 and that is all due to living in a pedestrian friendly area. So what do you do to get in your steps???

The power of a workout buddy

Best Fit FriendI have spent the past year working out with a regular and trusted workout buddy. Then I moved. I am shocked at how much I relied on our schedule. I missed it 3 days into my solo workout plan. This is coming from a trainer! I hit the gym with gusto but wow, boredom hit hard and fast. My workout buddy and I met for workouts 3 times a week and she attended my workouts twice a week. In fact, that is how we met. She was a FitCamp participant who became my workout buddy.

The power of a workout partner is endless. It’s why classes are so popular and group training is on the rise. Being a trusted workout partner is the biggest part. We had a few missed workouts due to either schedule but we always picked up or even added a Saturday makeup workouts when needed. And never once did one of us skip or blow off a workout. That is a trusted workout buddy.

So what do you do if you would like a workout partner but your schedule/fitness level/fitness preference does not match your immediate list of friends? I have had many workout buddies over the years and almost never was it with an immediate friend. I am an outgoing person and I have always met people with ease and found my partners through random meetings. I engage those open to conversation and ask them about partnering up as I get to know them. Often this is done with people who want to workout by struggle with motivation. Ideally, you have to be out there and out there regularly, because the people you see exercising when and where you workout is the best place to start your search.

If you are not outgoing this may be incredibly intimidating and not likely to happen. Your best option may be to sign up for a group training program. Smaller group, guided by a trainer and more budget friendly than hiring a trainer solo. Or find a Meetup of people who do what you like to do, running, cycling, swimming, etc. They are out there and you have to find them, they won’t look for you.

Your method of finding a workout partner is going to be up to you. But if you need motivation and are willing to make the commitment, you should consider making finding a workout buddy a priority. You will be more motivated, more committed, have someone to share your progress with, celebrate goals met and make a great new friend. There is everything to gain!

 

This is dedicated to my workout buddy whom I left in Saint Mary, GA. I miss you!

 

Pasta-tarian

pastI was working with a very young client, just out of college. She was in her first full time job and working all the time and eating horribly. She wanted to get back in shape and lose the weight gained after college. I welcomed her to ‘adulting’ and the resulting side effects. She was a vegetarian, which made me very happy. I asked her to give up soda cold turkey and swap it out for water. She did this with full compliance and started to feel better and see some weight drop.

As with any client who is strength training, she started to see the scale stop going down and then go back up slightly. Gaining muscle and tone she was technically heavier. Her clothes fit great and she looked good but she still wanted to slim down scale-wise. I asked her to for a list of all she ate the last 2 days and most of it was pasta. I reminded her that she told me she was a vegetarian. She agreed, she did not eat meat, but she also ate almost no vegetables. I told her she was a pasta-tarian. In my opinion to be a vegetarian, you need to at least consume some vegetables. I asked her to start making one of her meals per day a hearty salad. Preferably dinner, but I would take any meal switching from a starchy grain to vegetables. She did this for a week and came to me complaining that she “can’t eat a salad EVERY day” ….to which I stared at her as if she grew two heads. Not only can you, but you need to. Everybody needs to. In fact, how can anybody meet the daily requirements for vegetables if they do not indeed consume a hearty salad every day or consume green drinks.

I realized that even though she was on team ‘vegetarian’ she was not on board with eating as many vegetables as possible. She was eating rice and beans, veggie wraps and pasta of all styles and flavors. I really don’t have a problem with any of it with the exception of pasta. You cannot consume pasta every day and expect to maintain a healthy weight and definitely not lose weight. It breaks down to sugar in the body and then stores itself as fat. There are no health benefits to pasta that will ever outweigh the negative effects.

I am happy to report that she did consume a salad daily and even started to incorporate vegetables into her breakfast and lunches. She is looking amazing, trim and tone. Her skin has cleared up and her thick hair more lustrous. I am so proud of her for turning around her pasta-tarian ways and becoming a true veggie-tarian.


Sadly, the definition of vegetarian according to websters just means the ‘lack of meat in a diet’…. Very old dated definition and probably why many people try in and fail

I’ll try it

try it2There are always new trends or just old ideas resurface and treated like a new trend. Either way, I love to try anything new when it comes to fitness. Visiting other cities often provide these opportunities. I am spending 2 weeks in my old stomping ground but on the other side of town from where I normally find my fitness favorites. I am so excited to check out what is hot in this area. So far, tried Universal Yoga aka Unity Yoga. Wow, it was so hard, not physically hard as in you sweat and think you will die. Hard as in ‘how in the world do I get my knee and my foot in that place while balancing on my hands’ hard. I can honestly say that I wasn’t very good at completing the poses and the instructor gave me lots of attention and help. I am very thankful for that. I loved the challenge. I loved that women and men my age were rocking the moves. I felt that if I were living here, I’d be in here every week working at it until I looked like them. WOW! I loved it! I can’t wait to go back and try it again.

Are you someone who will try new fitness programs? Tell me about why you do or do not try new things fitness related? Also, if you are someone who tries new things…what cool new fitness trend do I need to know about?!?!?!

Love a Tabata!

Tabata’s are great interval workouts that fit super busy schedules, travelers with no gym access or anyone who wants to get a quick and intense workout at home or park. Tabata was created from the research of Izumi Tabata who found that quick burst of intense exercise was just as effective, if not more so, than steady state workouts. With a Tabata you choose bodyweight moves for each round which are 4 minutes in length. Most Tabata’s use 4 exercises, but I have done them with 6 or even 7 different exercises. You conduct the move for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds until that 4 minutes is complete, 8 rounds total.

The key is a great Tabata app. There are several on the market, but the free apps are fantastic. My favorite is Tabata Stopwtabataatch and I have both the Android and iPhone version. The Quick 4 Minute Workout is another Tabata app but only available for iPhone. If you wish to pay for an app the highest rated app that has iPhone and Android options is the Tabata Pro ($5). There are plenty of apps that have customizable interval timers but I prefer the presets of the Tabata apps. They call out the starts and rests as well as have countdowns for those starts and rests. That way you don’t have to be watching the clock which is hard to do when completing the move in question.

Start with a warm up: jogging in place, jumping jacks, etc. Then pick bodyweight moves and complete that move for the entire 4 minute Tabata round. Here is my list of favorite bodyweight moves: Burpee, push-up, lunges in all varieties, slow mountain climbers, inchworms, squats, jump squats, bench step ups, plank, wall sits, curtsy lunge, split lunge jumps, Bulgarian squats, single leg deadlift, superman, dips, double crunches, abmat sit ups, flutter kicks, side plank, bicycle crunches, jumping jacks and skipping rope.

So for the price of free (app) and your body (already have…aka free), you have a workout plan!