Monday, November 21, 2011
My husband suggested that a nice addition to my week of teaching cardio and strength training classes might be a nice, relaxing, stress relieving yoga class. So I suggested WE find one to try together.
I'm not a stranger to yoga. My Mom teaches it, and I've taken a few classes in the past. I'm sure they are really good for me. I certainly need the stretch. But rather than relax me, they seem to make me antsy and filled with anxiety. I'm just not use to exercise that doesn't make you sweaty and out of breath.
So I came up with the brilliant idea to try hot yoga. I thought that if I sweat profusely during the class, I would feel like I got a workout--and therefore not feel antsy and anxious (please refer to my earlier blog on being a closet Type A personality). And, sweating rids the body of toxins, and I love the thought of that!
Tonight was our first experience with hot yoga (not to be confused with Bikram Yoga--which is a bit different). Hot yoga is basically a regular flow yoga class taught in a room heated to around 95 degrees.
The yoga center we went to was very welcoming. The light, music, and scent were all very nice and relaxing. The instructor greeted us and was great. She put us (the newcomers) at ease. Assured us that if we were bothered by the heat, it was fine to step out of the room or get a drink of water.
We headed into the room where the class would take place. That's where my anxiety began.
The room was fairly small (easier to get it warm and toasty I'm sure), the class was full, and of course, it was 95 degrees in there. It's a combination that just didn't work for me. But I hoped I would settle in as the class got rolling.
For some reason, over the past few years I have become very heat sensitive. I don't know if it's just because I'm approaching menopause, but I've gone from a Summer person to a Winter person in the last two years. Add to that that I have a very mild case of claustrophobia. Being in a cave for four hours doesn't bother me; however, if I was in a small cave with a lot of people I would have a problem. So the combination of the heat, the small space and the people really had my anxiety up. The final glitch was a woman a few feet away who kept coughing a wet, bronchitis sounding cough. I could just imagine the germs thriving in the heat and multiplying during the class.
I made it through class. A few times I felt my anxiety rise to the point where I almost left the room to get some air. But I talked myself down and continued. And I did enjoy the final relaxation period of the class. I can honestly say that on my own I would never take the time to allow that kind of relaxation. Sure I'll veg on the couch and watch some t.v., but I don't turn the lights low, turn on relaxing music and clear my mind. And my mind definitely needs some clearing.
So I'm glad I tried the class. It's good to try new things--expand your mind. But I just don't think hot yoga is for me. Mark liked it. He loves the heat, and wasn't bothered by any of the things I was (in fact, he accused me of being a germaphobe). Different strokes for different folks!
Hey, I had a good stretch and did some good sweating! But I think next time I'll try a basic yoga class in a nice, big room with lots of space!
(I would be curious to hear from other women in their 40's about the heat issue though. Have you notice that you're becoming more heat sensitive? Let me know!)
Monday, November 14, 2011
This past weekend Mark and I were sitting at our local wine bar enjoying a glass of red. It's a small, quaint place so it's easy to hear the conversations going on around you--especially when you really start listening! A few feet away at the bar a man and a woman were talking. My guess is that they were in their upper 50's--maybe low 60's. They weren't a couple--more likely friends who hang around in the same circle. Their conversation went something like this (keep in mind my memory is not perfect, but you get the gist):
Woman (while eating some cheese): You know I was at a party with Mike last weekend, and they had this fantastic cheese. I asked him, "Did you try this?" And he said, "No. My doctor said my cholesterol needs to come down, and I don't want to go on medicine, so I'm trying to stay away from things like cheese and eat healthier." I was like, "Really? I just take cholesterol medicine. Life is too short!"
Man: Yeah, I'm on Lipitor. It's amazing how quick that little pill brings your numbers down. But some people can't tolerate it. My wife was on it, but it was starting to cause some liver damage, so she went off. But I seem to tolerate it just fine, so I'm still taking it.
Woman: Yeah, I just don't get it. Why watch what you eat, deprive yourself of all that good food, and do all that exercise when you can just take one little pill everyday? Life is too short for that!
I swear, Mark had to keep me in my seat, because it is this exact attitude that's killing America (literally and financially). It's one of the reasons I have trouble making a living as a fitness professional in Ohio. "Why exercise and eat right when I can solve everything with a little pill?"
And it's an attitude I just don't understand. I would do everything I possibly could to avoid going on cholesterol or blood pressure medication. And any sacrifice or extra exercise would be well worth it.
I think people often believe that if something is government approved (pesticides, medications, processed foods, etc.) it can't possibly harm you. But have you ever read what some of these cholesterol medicines actually do in your body?
Check out this article from Natural News. Here's an excerpt:
Not a believer in natural health (which seems bizarre to me), then check out this report by CBS news.
Millions of Americans take statin drugs to help lower their cholesterol, making it one of the most popular classes of prescription drugs on the market today, but like most prescription medications, these drugs are often unnecessary, as most Americans could lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels simply by changing their diet and lifestyle. However, we live in a world where people are looking for a quick fix, and doctors are eager to recommend "magic pills" to patients with any and all health concerns. The problem with these so-called "magic pills" is that they often end up doing more harm than good. Such is the case with Lipitor, the most popular of the five statin drugs available today...
As it turns out, the side effects mentioned by the ads' unseen spokesperson are just the tip of the iceberg.
Dr. Matthew Budoff, author of "Enhancing Heart Health," writes that cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor "work by inhibiting the enzyme needed to manufacture cholesterol in the liver. However, these drugs also block the manufacture of important nutrients like CoQ10, which has been shown to benefit heart health. The other main drawback of this class of drugs is debilitating muscle pain ... Other side effects, according to the Physicians Desk Reference, include liver problems, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches and skin rash."
The choice is, of course, yours. I'm just saying, do some research. Don't just blindly take a medication. Ask your doctor exactly what the medication does. And then do your own research. Make an informed decision. I only take medications when absolutely necessary, and then I still look up everything I can find on it.
A doctor once gave me a prescription for migraines. As an extra bonus, one of the side effects was weight loss! My first thought was, "Wow. No more migraines and easy weight loss! Awesome!" And I took two of them. Because one of the side effects was loss of appetite, I actually dropped a few pounds in just those two days. And as I'm sure many of my female readers can attest to, sometimes we'll do about anything to shed a few pounds--especially when weight loss has been a struggle. But then I started researching everything I could find of the drug. The side effects were not ones I was willing to deal with. Hair loss was one of the most common ones. My hair is bad enough! So I threw the pills away. Now I use feverfew (a plant--I actually grow it), as well as trying to avoid certain foods and actions that trigger the migraines.
Today's attitude just seems to be to take the easiest way out. "You mean I can just take this pill and keep eating cheeseburgers and drinking beer every night? That I don't have to start an exercise program and I can still lower my cholesterol?? Right on!"
I believe that we need an attitude adjustment!
After my husband and I listened in on the wine bar conversation he asked me (playing devil's advocate): Okay, if you knew that after a lifetime of watching what you eat and exercise you only got to live six months longer than the person who chose the Lipitor route, would you still choose healthy eating and exercise, or would you just enjoy whatever foods you wanted?
Without hesitation my answer is still the life of healthy eating and exercise. For me, it's not just about the end result. It's how I feel everyday. Eating healthy and exercising makes me feel good on a daily basis. Healthy eating, gives me energy, helps my digestion, keeps my skin clear and young. And when I know I'm fueling my body with good things, I feel better mentally. And exercise...sometimes I have trouble motivating like everyone else, but ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS I feel better afterward. I have never finished a workout and thought, "Man I wish I hadn't exercised today." Plus, I like the way it makes my body look! Muscles are sexy!
The choice is certainly yours. You can swallow the daily pill or you can make some life changes. (I realize there are some situations where one's cholesterol and blood pressure are high due to heredity and not lifestyle. And while I would still encourage you to do your research, I realize you may have a much harder choice). My hope is that whatever situation you choose, you'll give it some serious thought. Ask your doctor the tricky questions and demand honest answers. Consult a Naturopathic practitioner. Sometimes the easy way out, isn't the best way out.
Friday, November 11, 2011
In an effort to eat more raw fruits and veggies, Mark and I are trying to incorporate some raw food meals into our diet. Last night we made raw food Pad Thai using zucchini noodles. I found the recipe on About.com. I will also post it below, but if you follow the link, the author has other easy-to-do raw food meals.
I won't tell you that it was as delicious as the warm, spicy Pad Thai from the local Thai restaurant, but it was a good dish, full of nutritious ingredients.
- 2 zucchinis, sliced into strips with a vegetable peeler
- 2 large handfuls of bean sprouts, approx 2 cups
- 3/4 cup chopped nuts (use almonds, peanuts or cashews)
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 4 green onions, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
- juice from one lime
- 1 tablespoon raw, cold-pressed olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Preparation:Toss all ingredients together in a bowl until well coated. Add a dash more salt if desired and enjoy!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
It's that time of year again. The beautiful Fall leaves have fallen and there's a chill in the air. It's around this time of year when one's exercise level tends to decline, but their calorie intake increases--a sure recipe for holiday weight gain.
I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But as a fitness professional, I feel an obligation to go through the ritual!
Okay, first...I know all my Midwest and East coast friends and acquaintances are salty about the impending cold weather and snow. Believe me, I use to be right there with you. But winter is coming whether you like it or not--so why not choose to like it rather than sit and complain about it. A positive attitude can make a world of difference when it comes to motivation! Find the silver lining in winter! For me it was learning how to ski. Maybe that's not for you...so find something else. Take an ice skating lesson. Put your layers on and go for a winter hike. Act like a kid and go sledding! Walking back up that hill is great exercise. Ask for a pair of snow shoes for Christmas.
The point is, don't sit and wallow until March. It's not good for you physically, mentally or emotionally. And if you are unhealthy in any of those categories, you will become defenseless against all the baked goodies out there throughout the holidays. When you are feeling down, comfort food becomes a go to for many people. And come Spring, your blood pressure and cholesterol will be up, and your clothes will be too tight!
So let's talk about those holiday goodies. Soon they will be everywhere. I'm not saying you should forgo them altogether. I mean, they are part of what makes the holidays magic (and delicious). Moderation is key. Perhaps this isn't the time of year for your big weight loss plan. Why not go for a maintain don't gain theme for the holidays? And you can accomplish that by burning off the goodies you do choose to partake in.
So make a solid effort to work a little harder on the days you indulge. Hit the gym. Take a class (most community centers offer classes at a very reasonable price). Go for a walk to look at the neighborhood lights. Plan to stuff yourself on Thanksgiving Day? Sign up for a Turkey Trot that morning. Many communities have them. You don't have to be a runner. Many folks come out to walk it. And most collect canned goods for those in need.
Know in your mind that sugar is addicting. If you eat one cookie or chocolate--you'll want another. That's just how our bodies tend to work. So you have to exercise some self-control. Don't let yourself get carried away.
Alcohol is another holiday evil. I'll be the first to admit, I love a cup of eggnog. Remember it's empty calories. As far as fat and calories, a dry red wine is a better choice. Water is even better!
So let's review:
- You're going to make an effort to at least not hate winter. I won't ask you love it (although I've come to love it). Just give it a chance.
- You are going to allow yourself to indulge a little, but not a lot.
- And when you do indulge, you're going to work to burn those extra calories off with a good workout.
- Your goal is maintain don't gain through the holidays.
- Finally, try to keep the stress level low and the positive attitude high. Stress can contribute to weight gain.
- J.J. Kunkle
- I am the owner of The Fit Life, LLC. The Fit Life, LLC offers fitness instruction and nutrition counseling in a holistic way. I focus on personal training using mainly your own body strength--very little equipment. I also hold a certification in holistic nutrition. Because nutrition counseling regulations are very strict in Ohio, I'm still working on what nutrition services I can provide to my clients; however, I'm happy to provide general nutrition information. I enjoy teaching TRX, Indoor Cycling, and Boot Camps.
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