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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interval Training

Have you been a cardio junkie for as long as you can remember? Do believe that doing cardio 5-6x/week will give you the strongest, healthiest body you have always wanted? Do you avoid lifting weights at all cost for fear that you will “bulk up?”

If you have answered yes to all these questions, you are not alone. Most women who workout regularly believe that the only way to get fit and strong is to do cardiovascular exercise (cardio) as long and hard as they can. It’s true that cardio is the way to go to burn calories and get fit, but at what expense? To me, doing cardio alone without free weights is painstakingly boring and inefficient. I have been working out my whole adult life and have rarely done cardio 5-6x/week exclusively. Now don’t get me wrong if you have weight to lose you definitely want to be doing your cardio about 4-5x/week, but make sure that if you are doing it, you are giving it your all. Often I see women at the gym reading books/magazines, giving minimal effort and wondering why they aren't losing weight fast enough. Come on Ladies, save the reading for later and kick it up a notch. Do you know how long it is going to take you if you do not incorporate all the important pieces of the weight loss puzzle; Cardio, strength training and a clean eating regime. Leaving out one piece of the equation will leave you frustrated and discouraged and could prevent you from losing the weight.

There are many benefits to including strength training in your workouts:

 Decreases boredom
 Prevents over training the same muscle groups when doing cardio day after day
 Improves both endurance and strength of the heart and musculoskeletal system
 Increases your basal metabolic rate, helping you burn more calories after your done with your workout
 Decreases your resting blood pressure
 Improves your immune system
 Improves your energy levels
 Lowers your resting heart rate, making for a healthier heart
 Improves your balance and coordination
 Improves your posture
 Decreases your risk for developing week bones
 Promotes strength, not size- women have 15-20x less the amount of testosterone and far less muscle than men, so its almost impossible to get as big as men, unless you chemically induce yourself. You must shrink the fat cells in order to see the muscle

As you can see there are many reasons to incorporate a strength portion in your workouts. Without it, your fitness, health and weight loss goals will take you much longer than you expected.

So you may be asking, well how do I incorporate both cardio and strength training in if I only have an hour? The best way that I can think of is through an interval training program. Before you begin with any program, be sure to check with your Dr. to ensure you are ready for the challenge. You can also meet with a certified personal trainer to get tips and pointers to help guide you along.

Interval training can take place anywhere. When I was getting back in shape after having a baby three months ago, I did the workouts out of my home. Once I went back to the gym I had more equipment needed to kick it up a notch, but don’t worry it can happen any where with minimal equipment. Of course if you belong to a gym and there is a class that includes both strength and cardio, definitely take it!! Here is a sample of my home and gym workouts.

Home- performed 2-3x/week
4 groups of three exercises performed 2-3x each for 12-15 repetitions

Group 1
Jumping Jacks
Single Arm Row

Group 2
Baby toy hop over
Floor Bridge

Group 3
Ball taps
Lateral Raise
Speed Bikes

Group 4
High Knees
Bicep Curls
Tricep Kick Backs

Gym workout- performed 2-3x/week
5 groups of three exercises performed 2-3x each for 12-15 repetitions

Group 1
Step mill- 3 minutes alt. b/w level 6 and 13
Lat Pull Down
In and Outs

Group 2
Jump Rope
Bench Chest Press

Group 3
Running- 3 minutes alt. b/w 5.5 and 7.5 speed
90’ Lateral Raise in a lunge
MT Climbers

Group 4
Jumping Jacks
Cable Upright Row
Leg Lifts

Group 5
Running- 3 minutes alt. b/w 5.5 and 7.5 speed
Overhead tricep extension
Ball Crunches

Monday, December 21, 2009

Get Committed!

With the Holidays in full swing, trying to get or stay committed to your health can be very challenging. How do you stay on course when there are holiday parties, family dinners and lots of treats in the office just waiting to sabotage your healthy initiatives? The holidays are here once a year so enjoy them without the guilt. Treat yourself to some goodies but try to commit to 1-3 healthy habits per day to keep you on course. If you start now, you will not have to worry about making those dreadful resolutions come the New Year and you can feel confident that you are well on your way to a lifestyle of good health.

Sounds easy right? Committing to your health doesn't happen over night but if you start slow it will happen over time. I can tell you that before I was a "model" of good health, I was a Dorito and Ring Ding eatin' kind of gal. I never gained a large amount of weight, but for me it was enough to make me feel tired, cranky and horrible about myself. So I made a decision to change and was determined to recreate my health. It was sort of a commitment crusade if you will. I began by making a list of all the things that would make me feel my best every day. I didn't pressure myself to do everything on the list, but I committed to choosing at least 3 that I knew I would stick to. Then over time I kept incorporating more items from the list and before I knew it I transformed and molded myself into the healthy person I knew I wanted to be. Here are some examples from my list...May they inspire and help you make your own healthy commitments...

-Begin each morning with a tall glass of water to rehydrate after a long night of sleeping
-Eat 5-6x/day, always beginning with a hearty breakfast
-Add at least one fruit or vegetable to every meal and snack
-I do not snack while making dinner
-I stop eating when I am full
-limit my animal protein to a couple times/month
-minimize my dairy intake
-minimize all processed foods
-minimize foods made from "enriched flour"- white pasta, rice, bread etc
-Workout 5-6x/week for 20 minutes to an hour depending on my daily schedule
-Always take the stairs instead of the elevator (unless Scarlett and gear are in tow)
-Spend 10 minutes meditating
-Cook using all natural, healthy ingredients
-Walk to as many places as I can
-If I drive anywhere, I park in the furthest parking space and walk to the store

The list is always evolving, but having it to refer to is a constant reminder on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In Health and Abundance,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You say potato, I say potato...who cares as long as its local!

My Dad gave me a TON of fresh potatoes from his garden and I have been trying to incorporate them in dishes I have been making over the past couple of weeks. I enjoy the challenge of using as many local and seasonal ingredients in my cooking as possible. Today Scarlett and I made fresh Lentil Soup using his potatoes. Look how yummy it turned out and read top 5 reasons to buy local food. Oh and did I mention that the potatoes are from Colton's Corner, my parents farm in Cheshire Connecticut? Yes, Mom and Dad that was a plug for you...heheheh

Sauteing the veggies...

Mom's little helper!!

The final product

Lentil Soup

1/2 bag of lentils- wash and sort through to make sure there are no stones mixed in
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 medium carrots chopped
1-2 stalks of celery chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1-2 T minced garlic
1-2 medium red potato
1 QT or Organic Vegetable Broth
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Place 2 T of olive oil in a medium pot or 6 qt Dutch oven over medium heat. Wait until the pan is hot then add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and saute' for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked 1/2 way. Add vegetable broth and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut the potato in equal size cubes and add to the pot. Add water to reach desired thickness. Let soup simmer until the potatoes are soft then serve. Makes about 6-8 servings depending on how big your soup bowls are. I also added baby spinach at the end because I love my vegetables.

Top 5 reasons to buy local:

1. Local produce tastes better-
If the produce is picked that day, it is rich in color and flavor. Food that has to travel from California, Mexico, and Canada, may have no flavor left at all. Have you ever eaten a strawberry in the winter that has been shipped from Mexico? It doesn't even taste like a strawberry that was picked at a local farm that morning in the middle of the summer.
2. Local produce is more nutritious-
Once harvested produce loses its nutrients quick so if it has been sitting on a truck, train, boat or at a warehouse, by the time it gets to the supermarket shelves then into your home, cooked then onto your plate, how much nutritional value is left. Local produce that is picked that morning arrives on your plate that night or perhaps the next day. Can you say nutritious!
3. Local food supports local farmers-
Need I say more. Just google "farms in your state" (I would do "farms in Massachusetts) and you may find dozens of locations selling seasonal produce ready for you to pick and prepare
4. Local food provides education to you and your family-
Bring the kids to the local farm and teach them about seasonal produce. You will find that they may even eat their broccoli now
5. Local food is about the future-
Instead of supporting those huge conglomerate farms, send your $$ to your local farmer to ensure you have access to nourishing, flavorful and abundant food.

Now get out there and find those farms!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stress, who needs it??

Well we do, but just a wee bit.

I received an e-mail from my cousin asking advice on how to help his friend who was getting migraines. I thought it would be a great first post. My Aunt and I were e-mailing back and forth offering our advice and we both agreed that stress, as well as other factors like diet, lack of sleep and/or the wrong type of exercise may be contributing to her migraines but we would have to actually talk to her to get further personal information. Which brings me to the topic of "stress"

We all have stress in our lives. There is a level of "good" stress that we need to feel alive and maintain a healthy emotional and physical balance...Some examples would be a tough workout, a roller coaster ride, traveling or falling in love. The trick is to notice at which point the stress levels begin to get the best of us and we begin to feel overwhelmed and out of control. Everyone is different, but in general be aware of some of the common signs below that peak your stress level and warn you to take it down a notch:

- Impatience or Edginess
- Lack of Enjoyment
- Sleep Problems
- Exhaustion
- Excessive alcohol intake

Be aware that if you ignore the signs of stress it will only escalate and lead to other serious problems that I won't go into. There are many resources out there on how to handle stress, but my best advice is to write down a list of all the things you enjoy doing. Then when you are feeling stressed, choose an item from the list and do it, don't just talk about it. The stress may not dissapear, but you will lower the levels, feel better and be more committed to your own healing. How powerful is that...

Shauna and I would love to hear from you...How do you relieve stress?? Send us a list and let us know how it's working...

Here is how I relieve stress...

Exercise- #1!!!!!
Calling and/or hanging out with family and friends
Food shopping (believe it or not I LOVE the grocery store)
Hosting get togethers
Walking through a book store
Reading while sipping coffee at Espresso Royal (local coffee joint)
Watching old movies
Going for Mani/Pedi's

Until next time...

Could one blog change the way you view your health?

With Strategic Wellness Team it can! Follow us, Tara and Shauna, owners of SWET, as we each share information on how to help you either get or maintain your fitness and nutrition as well as how we stay healthy every day. With a little help and support from two who have been in your shoes, you can commit to your health today and let go of old habits that have continuously failed you. What do you have to lose?