Achieving Your Best Body

Looking your best is hard work.  From exercising, to eating right, more and more women (and men) are finding it increasingly difficult to get to their ideal body weight, and even more importantly, their ideal body image. The images that are splashed across our favorite magazines and seen on the hottest TV shows as well what we perceive as pressure fromwithin our social circles, have caused some people to focus more on the aesthetic of being slim rather than on the importance of being healthy.

I'm not above being affected by the aforementioned pressures, however, over the years I have learned to let others opinions of me -- good and bad, stay in the background.  I have tried my hardest to not get overly caught up in praise ladened on when I "look my best" or negative comments when I don't. It is my very firm belief that to get too caught up with the good, is to open yourself to the bad and all the feelings that come with it.  I think the key, though difficult, is to figure out a way to remain neutral to all and focus on what truly matters to you. 

While each person's ideal body image is different, there can be very little debate about what is a healthy body weight. One quick and dirty way to determine if you're at a healthy weight is to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI).  Your BMI is a simple calculation that is based on your weight and your height.  I'm 5 feet 11 inches tall, so my healthy weight range is between 133 to 179 pounds.  That gives me 46 pounds with which to play around. That's a lot!   In my mid to late twenties and early thirties, I stayed between 145 and about 160. At 145 I thought I looked too skinny, at 160 I felt good about how I looked. During none of those weight periods was everyone's opinion and comments about me the same, or even positive - "too skinny, getting thick, looking sick."  Bottom line: it's always something, you can't please everyone and under no circumstance should you even try.  The thing to remember is that it doesn't matter if you identify as "skinny", "curvy" or "normal" , your health is paramount

BMI gives you a healthy weight range, it doesn't take into account cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. While being overweight is often a precursor to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, people with seemingly "normal" weight can suffer from one, two or all three. Conversely, some people that appear overweight have none of those issues. No matter your size, it is important to get an annual physical to ensure you're at your optimal health.  An annual physical also gives your doctor a baseline for your health - It makes it easier to detect when something is not quite right. You shouldn't wait for a catastrophic event to get to know your body.

Your health is important. You are important. Your life is important. Squandering it away prematurely because of overeating and not exercising is not worth it -- no donut is worth dying for (sorry doughnuts).  Find a balance, take small steps and make the changes necessary to get to the body you honestly, truly want -- your best body.  

Posted on September 9, 2015 and filed under Health, Fitness.

Don't Want to Exercise? Blame Your Dorsal Medial Habenula

Some days I wake up and I cannot wait to lace up my New Balance and start my workout. Other days I simply cannot muster enough strength to even think the word 'exercise'. I wish I could say that being tired or busy is a reason for me not to exercise but I know from experience that's not true.

The end of a somewhat lazy at-home workout.

The end of a somewhat lazy at-home workout.

I have had instances where I've been out all night, have a full day ahead and got up in the morning to exercise like I had a full 8 hours of sleep , while others days after having slept for what feels like an eternity I still don't want to get my butt in gear.  If this research proves true, I should blame one a very specific portion of my brain - dorsal medial habenula. 

WHAT IS THE DORSAL MEDIAL HABENULA? 


The dorsal medial habenula is a tiny area of the brain that is responsible for exercise motivation.

It has been found to control the desire to exercise in mice.

The structure of the habenula is similar in humans and rodents.

The knowledge that such a specific area of the brain may be responsible for motivation to exercise could help researchers develop more targeted, effective treatments for depression.

Past studies have attributed many different functions to the habenula.

A 2010 study revealed that the habenula plays a key role in helping animals survive in a world full of hidden rewards and dangers, by helping them make the best choices. 

It inhibits dopamine-releasing neurons when an animal fails to obtain a reward and is involved in behavioural responses to pain, stress, anxiety, sleep and reward.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centres.

The habenula’s dysfunction is associated with depression, schizophrenia and psychosis.

Source

I don't suffer from depression (at least nothing severe enough to require an official diagnosis) but I do realize now that it's harder, if not impossible, to find the motivation to workout on days when I'm in a funk.  Let's hope that whatever treatment is developed from this discovery will also have a safe application as an exercise motivator for lazy people or those just needing a little push. 

Posted on April 9, 2015 and filed under Fitness, Health, Science.

Update to My Scientific 7 Minute Workout Routine

Winter is almost here and what I've noticed with myself is that I work out more at home during colder months, gym membership or not.  Since discovering the 7 minute scientific workout my life has been super simple. I've pretty much stop stressing about how and when to work out. I try to workout in the morning but that's not always possible, so, I've been doing the workout when I have 15 -20 minutes to spare.

The first few times I did the routine I was almost out of breath by the high knees.  However, after the first week I got better control of my breathing and was able to pull it off more smoothly. After two weeks I had more defined abs. Working out on my own I almost always skip ab exercises so any sustained activity on my part was sure to show some incremental change. 

During week three of of me trying the workout routine,  I added in a barbell with 20 pounds of weights and used it for the 30 second squat and lunges. It gave a deeper burn and got my heart rate up close to where it was the first week. 

After a month or doing the 7 minute workout (and 7 minutes of stretching) with tiny modifications I can honestly say I maintained my level of fitness and didn't have any negative changes to my body. I think it is a good circuit to add into your overall fitness routine and pull It out once or twice per week to save yourself some time. If you're training for a marathon, looking to drop major weight or wanting to bulk up, this is obviously not the routine for you but if you're looking to maintain current fitness levels and stay toned, i think the 7 Minute Scientific Workout is  so much better than running mindlessly on a treadmill for 30 minutes or more. 

Posted on December 12, 2014 and filed under Fitness, Health, Science.

4 Tips to Help You Workout Regularly

It is no secret that for most people a workout is not first and foremost on their list of things to do. While I have worked out in some capacity for most of my adult life, it's still not second nature to me. I still have to find the motivation to get up, put my gear on and get moving. Here are 4 tips that help me to work out regularly.

Keep Sneakers at the Foot of the Bed

If the first thing your feet do when you wake up in the morning is touch your sneakers, I'd say you are more than halfway to getting in a workout. It also helps to have your other workout gear close by...I keep mine in the bathroom because it's often the first place I go when I wake up. 

Follow 'Regular' People on Instagram Who Post Their Workouts

I used to follow fitness experts on Instagram but after a while I realized that they didn't inspired me to workout. They inspired me to try a new moves once I was working out but never to get up and actually workout. Fitness experts and trainers have to workout, don't they? it's their job....It's not something they have to do in addition to the rest of their lives. However, it's motivating for me to see someone who leads a full life outside of fitness finding the time to workout every morning. Silly? Maybe...but it works for me.

Reward Yourself For Working Out

On days when I do work out, I make a creamier, richer more tasty breakfast smoothie. I can have a glass (sometimes 2) of wine or a cocktail with dinner. On days when I don't, I'll often skip the wine and go for a much leaner smoothie, something that's often not as tasty. It's not a big rewards, but it something noticeable enough to prompt me to get moving.  

Check-in with Friends About Your a Workout

If you have someone with whom you exchange even quick workout stories, it motivates you to have something to add to that part of your daily conversation. If you don't have an in real life (IRL) friend with whom to exchange these daily tidbits, try Twitter.  

It took me a while to realize these things helped me to workout more frequently.  This is obviously not a comprehensive list, it's just a few simple things that have helped me to work out more consistently.

Do you have any tips to share?

 

 

 

Posted on November 3, 2014 and filed under Fitness, Health.

Science Says All You Need For a Good Workout is 7 Minutes

I enjoy many things: bacon, cheese, wine, reading, polishing my nails, rock wall climbing, cooking, hanging with my friends, dark chocolate and a myriad of other things.  No where on that list is working out.  I work out because I have to, pure and simple.  So, if I can do a workout in 7 minutes that accomplishes what usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour, please believe i'm going to be all over it like bacon on a BLT.

I have long incorporated bits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into my workout routine but never before has it been my only routine. After coming across  this NY Times article and reading this article in the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal on which it is based, I decided to challenged myself to no more than 7 minutes of workout per day for the next 30 days. I'm almost bursting with excited!

Image Source: NY Times Blog

Image Source: NY Times Blog

The idea is to do each of the exercises shown above for 30 seconds with a 10 second rest in between sets.  According to the report, the 30 second intervals should be unpleasant with intensity level hovering at about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.  So, I'm thinking I should almost be breathless by the end of each 30 second interval.   

As I start the challenge I'll count the reps it takes to get to breathless and see how much I can increase the reps by the end of 30 days.  I'll report back 10/16/14.

Think you want to try it it with me? Obviously if you have health issues you should check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.  Also, be sure to check out  this article in the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal for more of the science behind the 7-minute workout.   

I'm starting TODAY!



Posted on September 16, 2014 and filed under Fitness, Health.