Saturday, April 13, 2013

Health & Fitness Tips

In my previous life (aka before life as a stay at home mom), I was certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.  Although I still work out a few days a week and am in decent shape, I wasn't sure I wanted to write this post.  Thinking about where I am now and where I was then gave me a little bit of anxiety.  In the end though, I hoped I could come up with some encouraging words for others.

My body isn't near as tight and firm as it was when I was young adult, but I've learned how powerful it truly is regardless.  Since 2009 (when I was 28 years old), I have run 1 marathon, 5 half marathons and 1 sprint triathlon.  Even more amazing is that twice I have grown another life inside my body and given birth to another human being!

Crossing the finish line of my 2nd half with my little cheerleader!

The value of exercise is not how pretty your body looks on the outside, but how healthy you are on the inside.  
I wrote this for fitness instructor blog a few years ago and thought it would be perfect to share now:

Many people still have the mindset that you only need to exercise if you're overweight. That couldn't be more wrong! Exercise has many benefits other than just weight loss. Regardless of your age or size, everyone needs to get fit!

Here are a few of the benefits of strength training:
1. Strength training prevents muscle loss. Adults who do not strength train lose between five to seven pounds of muscle every decade.
2. Strength training will increase your metabolism. The average adult experiences a two to five percent reduction in metabolic rate every decade of their life, so strength training can help make up for that loss.
3. Strength training will increase your muscle mass. Research shows that doing 25 minutes of strength exercise, three days a week can increase muscle mass by about three pounds over an eight-week training period.
4. Strength training will reduce your body fat. Increasing your muscle mass will increase your calorie burn, thereby reducing the likelihood of fat accumulation.
5. Strength training will increase your bone mineral density.In this way, strength training helps protect against fractures, "shrinking" and osteoporosis.
6. Strength training will improve your glucose metabolism.This improvement is one of the many ways a healthy exercise routine can fight diabetes.
7. Strength training will speed up your digestion. This is significant because delayed digestion puts you at a higher risk for colon cancer.
8. Strength training reduces your resting blood pressure.Combining strength and aerobic exercise is an even more effective means of improving blood pressure readings.
9. Strength training will relieve lower back pain. Because over 80 percent of Americans experience back problems, it is advisable for all adults to strengthen these muscles properly.
10. Strength training will reduce arthritis pain.

In addition to the benefits of strength training, here are some of the benefits of cardiovascular exercise:
Weight loss
Stronger heart and lungs
Increased bone density
Reduced stress
Reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer
Temporary relief from depression and anxiety
More confidence about how you feel and how you look
Better sleep
More energy

It doesn't matter how hard you workout if you're not eating healthy.
(Another write up I previously did.)
I was recently asked by someone what they should eat after working out. Fitness instructors are highly encouraged not to give dietary advice since we are certified in fitness and not nutrition. I will however offer some general advice on eating before and after exercise. Please remember, however, that it is best for you to get specific advice from a dietician.

The glycemic index (GI) is good to use as a guideline for eating prior to and after working out. The GI is a ranking that measures how much a certain carbohydrate elevates blood sugar above normal. Foods low on the GI are known as slow digesting carbohydrates. They provide a prolonged, sustained entry of glucose into the bloodstream. This means that they supply long lasting fuel to power you through your workout. These foods make good pre-exercise snacks. Some examples of foods low on the GI are:
-apples, oranges, or another medium piece of fruit
-raw carrots
-cup of cooked oatmeal
-small sweet potato
-2 slices of whole wheat bread

Foods high on the GI are released more quickly into the blood and also referred to as fast digesting carbohydrates. They are better for recovery and refueling after exercise. It is recommended that you eat at least 50 grams (200 calories) of a high or moderate glycemic carb as soon as possible after exercise. Two hours later you should eat another 50 grams of a high glycemic carbohydrate. Some example of these foods are:
-plain baked potato
-20 ounce Gatorade
-slice of plain angel food cake
-cup of sorbet
-2-3 slices of white bread

Foods high in electrolytes (minerals like potassium, calcium, and sodium) are important for recovery after prolonged exercise that lasts 2 or more hours. Good choices for these kinds of foods are:
-low fat yogurt
-orange juice

I hope this will help you next time you exercise and are trying to figure out what to eat!

My first day back in the gym after giving birth to Em!

Doing ANYTHING is better than nothing when it comes to exercise.
This is something that I constantly have to remind myself. It applies to both what exercise you're doing and the amount of time you're able to exercise. For example, last week I went to the gym planning to run a couple of miles and then do some weights. When we arrived I found out childcare was closing early. Frustrated, I headed back home and decided I would put Emma in the sidecar and we would go for a bike ride. Once I got out my bike I realized the tire was flat (and we didn't have a pump). By this point I was even more frustrated and it was getting close to Emma's lunch time. I decided to put Emma in her stroller and settled for a short walk around the neighborhood. Even though it was not what I originally had in mind, I was able to get out & move a little bit - which was better than nothing!

Finally, if you're short on time or can't get to the gym, you can get a great workout with three basic exercises. Push ups (even on your knees or against a wall is ok), crunches, and lunges or squats will give you a full body workout. Do 10-12 repetitions of each exercise and continue to rotate through them for 2 to 3 sets.

Do you have any health or fitness tips you would like to share? If you have any questions about this post or want to know more about my workouts, just comment below. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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