Monday, December 31, 2012

You snooze, you lose...literally

I'm sure that everyone has heard the phrase "You snooze, you lose". Well those words are truer than you realize. Particularly if you are looking to lose weight and belly fat.  In fact, let's rephrase that by saying "you snooze more, you lose more fat". How about that? :)

There is existing and current research evidence that sleep is a crucial factor in controlling your weight.  Just this past year, scientists as the University of Washington studied the effects of sleep habits of of both men and women and the effect of sleep habits on their BMI (Body Mass Index - which is a measure of someone's weight to their height. A lower number means a more healthy and leaner ratio.)

The men and women who reported getting more sleep had a lower BMI number. Which is what you want. It also showed that those people that did not get enough sleep had increased hunger and cravings throughout the day, which as we all know can contribute to expanding waistlines.

Lack of sleep can also cause difficulty in concentrating; reduced ability to cope with stress; Sluggishness during the day; the desire to nap in the afternoon; memory lapses; moodiness; frequent colds and infections; and lack of productivity in work and every day projects.

So before you ditch that extra hour of sleep to dash off a few more emails or finish that project or report you are working on. Or stay up a 1/2 later to watch a TV show or to organize your to do list for the next day. Think about how much easier tomorrow will be if you get that sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep try these tips to help you get back on track.

1) Sleep in complete darkness. Even a small amount of light has been shown to reduce a key sleep hormone called melatonin. Banish the bright lights of your alarm clock and put up some blinds or blackout curtains for your windows.

2) Avoid "blue" light leading up to bedtime. Light from your computer screen, TV and most overhead lights is in the blue spectrum. Your brain reads this as mid-day light and it inhibits the hormonal "wind down" before bed. So turn off the electronics an hour before bedtime and keep lights dim.

3) Stay cool. Your bedroom temperature should stay around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This mimics your body's natural night time temperature and improves sleep quality.

4) Maintain a bedtime ritual. Come up with a ritual or routine that leads up to lights out and stick to it every night. It will help you unwinds and is a signal to the body that sleep is near.

5) Exercise! Yes, exercise. Studies have shown that people who exercise fall asleep faster and stay asleep faster. But try not to exercise right before bedtime.

Here's to better sleep and better health!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Why not NOW?

It’s December and everyone is busy with preparations for the upcoming Holiday Season, whether it is shopping, decorating, baking, cleaning, etc., add work and children into the equation and it is no wonder people put exercising on the back burner, “I’ll start up again after the Holidays” they say. Or, “I’ll start fresh with a brand new Resolution in the New Year”. My questions is, does that really happen and if it does, how long do you stick to it before distraction occurs again. 
This is the ideal time of year to start an exercise program; and start on building health and fitness goals for the upcoming New Year. Why? Well, first you can help avoid the typical weight gain that comes with the holiday season. Second, 30 minutes of exercise a day or every other day can help control some of the stress that the holidays can bring. Third, if you start now, you will already be in the habit of exercising and have a routine so that when January 1st comes around you will have a jumpstart on most of the people who wait until January to start a program. 

In a short period of time, you will have developed a whole new set of habits. You will begin to feel differently than you do right now. You will begin to see positive changes in your body in just a few weeks; and be ready to start off the New Year strong and ready to kick it up a notch. Being able to see your progress and being proud of your decision to start now and results can be great motivational tools to continue well into the New Year. Think about it, it’s New Years and instead of joining the throngs of people that will be just starting to respond to ads for gym memberships and the latest exercise or diet fad to fulfill their New Year’s Resolutions, you will be well down the road to reaching your exercise and health and fitness goals. It will have become a habit; and what a great habit to have.

All you have to do is make the decision to do it NOW. Don’t let the holidays stop you. Don't let a TV show stop you. Don’t let your crazy schedule stop you. Don’t let your temporary emotions stop you. Lace up. And exercise away.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year! What is your New Year's Resolution?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Once again its the time of year where everyone makes those new year's resolutions to lose weight or get in shape. People join gyms, buy the latest weight loss product they see on TV or in the store, pick up the latest diet book and off they go.

Unfortunately, most people will never succeed at their resolutions or will not be able to maintain those resolutions. Why? Well, people make a resolution for what they want, but not on how they are going to get there. They have no plan or actual goals. The resolutions made are too broad. For instance if you made a resolution to lose weight, and decide that you are going to go to the gym everyday, yet you've never worked out before or its been a long time since you've worked out regularly, it will be tough and 9 out of 10 times you will drop out after the 1st week. Trust me as a trainer I've seen it happen. You may have opted to go on a diet to lose weight, however with the numerous types of diets out there and most of them just starvation and deprivation methods that can not possibly be followed long term, frustration sets in and boom your done. You eventually gain back what little you lost, and then some.

Making a more specific plan to reach your resolution will allow you a better chance of actually achieving your resolution. For instance, make the resolution to exercise 3 time a week for 30 minutes; or to take an exercise class two times a week; or to eliminate or cut back on sugary drinks. These types of resolutions are much easier to maintain and easier to succeed at. Once you've made them, write them down. Keep track of what you have done. Get yourself a planner or notebook, once you've put something in writing you are more committed to it. And tracking your results is actually fun.

For example:
I resolve to lose 15 lbs by March 1st, 2012. I will do this by:
1. Exercising 3 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. This will include aerobic and metabolic workouts.

2. I will meet with a trainer once a week for help with my strength training and metabolic routine. Studies have shown that people who work with a trainer or coach are 60% more likely to have success. Why? They work harder than when they are working out by themselves, up to 30% harder. As a trainer, I've had more clients tell me I work harder with you than when I workout by myself.

3. After 4 weeks I will increase my workouts from 3 to 5 times a week from 30 minutes to 45 minutes.

4. I will cut 500 calories from my diet, by eliminating or avoiding sugary drinks, snacks, etc. I will monitor my calorie intake with an online website, like CalorieCount.

Resolutions can be fun and successful, if you allow them to be. Resolve to make small changes rather than broad actions, you and your body will thank you later.

Yours in good health,