Be Proactive with Your Health

I know a lot of people avoid the doctor’s office at all costs unless they are deathly ill, but here’s the thing…regular check ups are important. Don’t wait until something is wrong to go to the doctor. Preventative health care gives you the power over your health. Annual physicals and health screenings find minor issues before they become major issues. Early detection can provide more treatment options and a better chance for a good outcome. It can even provide the chance to reverse certain conditions if they’re caught early enough. Good doctors can also guide you to healthier lifestyle choices and help you find ways to make that happen with resources and support.

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Regular blood panel screening

People in my personal life who know my medical history get concerned and assume there’s a problem or recurrence if they see or hear that I’ve had an appointment. I know that’s just a knee-jerk reaction but I have regular appointments to make sure there ISN’T a problem.

I know we can’t control everything about our health but I believe we can control more than we think. By eating well, moving a lot, resting when you need to and checking in with your doctors regularly, you could be doing yourself a whole lot of good.

 

Some regular appointments I have are:

  1. Annual physical with general practitioner
  2. Annual check with my dermatologist
  3. Annual check with my gynocologist
  4. Annual check with my vein specialist
  5. Every 6 months with my oncologist
  6. Annual check with my breast surgeon
  7. Every 6 months with my dentist

I’m probably missing a few but you get the idea.

Some common tests and screenings women should have are mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, blood panel screenings, eye exams, skin checks and bone density screenings. Some common tests and screenings men should have are blood pressure and cholesterol checks, blood panel screenings, eye exams, skin checks, colonoscopies and prostate cancer screenings. Your doctor will recommend other tests or screenings based on your individual situation. But the doctor can’t recommend anything if you don’t go see them!

Take the time and make yourself some appointments today! Now!

 

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Spring Clean Your Workout Program

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Spring is in the air! At least it is here on the East Coast! This season always signifies renewal and growth. The days are getting longer and warmer. (Thank goodness!) Spring produce is ready to be picked to lighten up our meals. People are beginning to venture outside again.

This is the perfect time to change up your workout routine. It’s a good time to break out of the rut of being stuck inside for months and maybe try new things. A change can bring new energy to your fitness and help you bust through plateaus or ramp up your fitness level to reach new goals. Our bodies adapt to our workouts so after a while you need something new. Plus, I just get bored!

If you think your routine could use a facelift, here are a few ways to change things up.

  1. Go outside. I know, some of you hardcore people always workout outside. More power to you! For the rest of us, we live for the slightest signs of spring as a signal that we can now go do our run around the neighborhood and our squat jumps in the park. Spring is also prime time for road race events so signing up for a local 10k might be just what you need.
  2. Do you workouts in the morning (if you don’t already). With the days getting longer, it gets lighter earlier so it’s easier and safer to exercise outside in the morning. Even if you only have enough time for a quick workout, it’s better than nothing. And getting something done first thing in the morning sets your day up for success and helps you feel accomplished before the day has even started.
  3. Try something new this spring. Go to a new exercise class or join a new running club. Most gyms offer free passes or free trials to try out their facilities so take advantage of that. You might just find your new favorite place.
  4. Buy yourself some new gear. A new pair of shoes or leggings. Maybe a new set of headphones. I don’t know about you but needing to break in a new pair of running tights gets me moving. Also, I you plan to move your workouts outside, you might need some new layers to accommodate the spring weather. Or at least that’s what you can tell yourself when you’re spending money!
  5. Take up a new sport. Look into tennis or golf lessons. Getting your kids or friends involved too can elevate the fun.
  6. Speaking of your kids, try some fun stuff with them too. Go roller skating. Play some backyard soccer. Shoot hoops in the driveway. Anything that gets you and your kids active and having fun is a good thing and sets a great example.

Use this new season as an opportunity to try new things and don’t be afraid to move on if something just isn’t the right fit. Spring can be rebirth so use it!

Happy Exercising!

4 Tips for Dealing with Back Pain

If you’re anything like me (almost 46) your low back doesn’t always cooperate with how old you think you are, or feel you are, or wish you were!

I injured my low back in college (tip: don’t jump off a bunkbed) and that combined with my abysmal hip and hamstring flexibility makes me feel like I’m 100 years old when I wake up in the morning. Some days it takes me a good 20 minutes to be able to move fluidly and not look like I should be living in a bell tower.

Since I’ve lived with a creaky back for a really long time I’ve learned what works to keep my back as functional as possible. If you have a specific injury, please follow your doctor’s recommendations.

  1. Bed rest rarely works. Staying active is the best thing you can do. Regular movement improves mobility and blood flow. Stretching will keep you moving and strength training will build your back muscles to help you be able to do more. Building up your core strength will also keep your back from hurting as much in the future. When I take time off from my regular workouts, I definitely feel it.
  2. Stretching. I stretch my back every day. I’m not talking about a lengthy flexibility program (although maybe I should!). Just 30 seconds when I stand up out of bed in the morning. I bend side to side, lean over and reach for my toes, and twist right to left. It isn’t much but it helps me loosen up enough to get to the coffee. When my back gets especially bad, laying prone over an exercise ball so my body is fully supported, helps me stretch and relieves pressure on my back.
  3. Practicing proper posture. I know this is hard sometimes. Especially when you’re tired but sitting and standing straight will help protect your back and the more you practice it, the easier it will become.
  4. Not staying in one spot for too long. I spend a lot of time at my desk writing things like this blog and I have a comfortable chair but sitting in one spot all day makes my back tired and achy. I stand up every so often and stretch and move around. Sometimes I use the dictation feature so I can stand at my desk and still work.

I hate that my back injury makes me feel so old but I know I would feel so much worse if I didn’t actively care for it. Check out this page on my site for more specific stretching and strengthening exercises.

Happy Exercising!

P.S. I can help you with a specific program to strengthen your back if you deal with daily pain. Contact me so we can chat.

Let Go of Food Rules

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“Don’t eat after 8pm.” 

“Eliminate carbs to lose weight.”

“Eat every 2-3 hours.”

There are so many food rules that I’m sure you’ve heard and guess what…most of them you don’t need to follow. The moment we impose rules and restrictions on our food intake, we stop listening to our bodies. I’m not saying you should turn your nutrition plan into a free for all (there are still some recommendations to follow) but you can definitely relax a little and not stress about it so much.

Let’s discuss some of those “rules”…

“Don’t eat after 8pm.” I think a better recommendation would be “Don’t eat within 2-3 hours of bedtime.” If you go to bed at 10pm then, yeah, don’t eat after 8pm. But if your bedtime is midnight then your regular dinner time might be 8pm. We’ll talk about your sleeping habits in another post! Eating too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep by causing heartburn or interrupting the chemical process that helps you feel sleepy so adjust your last meal of the day to accommodate your normal bedtime rather than a set time on the clock.

“You have to eat every 2-3 hours.” You’ve heard the idea that eating every few hours keeps your metabolism running and your blood sugar stable and for many people this might be the right thing for them. For others, it might be too much. You may overeat just trying to fit all your meals in to your day and you could possibly develop insulin sensitivity over time. Three meals a day plus a snack before or after a workout works great for most people. If you like eating every few hours and it’s working for you, then stick with it. But if you feel like you’re forcing yourself to eat all the time, then let it go and just focus on your three squares a day.

“Eliminate carbs to lose weight.” Eliminating entire food groups is a really bad idea. Most people who lose weight on a low-carb or no-carb diet have really lost weight because they’ve cut down on calories and refined foods. I suggest replacing rather than eliminating. Replace refined, “white” foods with complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa and whole grain breads. Fruits and vegetables are also sources of complex carbs, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

“You have to drink 8 glasses of water a day.” This is a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. You might need more or less depending on what you have planned for the day. Intense workout in heat and humidity? More water! Rest day on the couch? You probably don’t need 8 glasses. Sipping water throughout the day to stay hydrated is a smart idea rather than guzzling a bottle all at once. If you are drinking water all day then you’re getting enough.

“Don’t eat a lot of fruit because it has too much sugar.” This one makes my head hurt! If you’re worried about too much sugar in your diet, fruit is not what you need to cut out. Work on reducing your simple carbs first. White bread and rice. Cookies, brownies and other pastries. Most breakfast cereals and sweet yogurts and fruit juices. Fruit in whole form has unprocessed sugar along with nutrients and fiber that you don’t get if you eat a candy bar with the same amount of sugar in it.

“You need animal products for protein.” This is another one that makes my head hurt! Protein can be found in many plant foods including vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and some grains like quinoa. Sure, animal products are a more concentrated source of protein but they are not the only source of protein. Many large animals like gorillas are herbivores. They didn’t get to be large because of their LACK of protein. Think about that for a minute. If you don’t want to consume animal products, don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of protein. If you do choose to eat animal products, just choose wisely.

Create a healthy eating plan that suits your tastes, needs and schedule and will help you reach your wellness goals but let go of “rules” that don’t work for you.

Happy Exercising!

P.S.  Did I miss any rules? Let me know some things you’ve always thought you were supposed to follow.

Using a Jump Rope for a Good Workout

There’s nothing so humble as a simple piece of rope. 

But it can do wonders for your fitness if you give it a chance. It’s an efficient, versatile and portable piece of equipment that everyone should have. You can use it at home or when you’re with your kids at the park. Take it with you when you travel and you have no more excuses to skip a workout.

 

Don’t use your kids jumprope out of the toy box. You’ll likely trip and face plant…or worse. But you also don’t have to buy an expensive rope with all kinds of bells and whistles. A simple rope with comfortable handles will do the trick. Plastic or beaded ropes are durable and add a little weight making it easier to turn. A rope with bearings in the handles will make the rope turn more smoothly. To make sure the rope is the correct size, step on the middle of it and with handles pulled up taught, they should reach your armpits.

Consider where you jump as well. Hard concrete or tile surfaces will pound your legs and joints so try to jump on carpet, grass or wood floors. Asphalt is ok but definitely better than a concrete sidewalk.

Simply jumping for 10-20 minutes will give you a great workout if you’re new to jumping rope for exercise. You can work up to longer jumping if you want or do intervals of 1 minute jumping, 1 minute rest. That alone is an excellent cardio workout and can be done almost anywhere.

If you want to get more creative you can add other types of jumping into the mix, such as backward jumps, side to side jumps and single foot jumps.

Jumping rope is commonly a conditioning workout or warmup for many athletes and can be for fitness enthusiasts as well. It’ll get your heart rate up fast and leave you breathless and sweaty in no time.

If you’re in the market for a jump rope, you can find some here.  (This is an affiliate link which means if you buy through the link, I earn money.)

Happy Exercising!

 

Fit Gift Ideas

Black Friday is Coming! Black Friday is Coming!

If you have a fit-minded person in your life (or want to give ideas to others for yourself!) here are a few gift ideas to make fitness a little more fun and effective.

(This post contains affiliate links. That means I make money if you click the links and buy the products.)
  1. For that friend who likes to run with music but you want them to be safe.


AfterShokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones! These headphones are ideal for runners who like to have motivating music on their run but still need to be aware of their surroundings. The Trekz Air use bone conduction technology that leave your ears open for situation awareness. The music is delivered through your cheekbones! How cool is that?? These headphones are made of durable titanium that provides a flexible, secure fit. You can get up to 6 hours of music on a single charge and they have multipoint pairing with Bluetooth connectivity. So you can connect to more than one device. And they come in multiple colors.

2. For the yogi in your life.

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BodyGood Cork Yoga Wheel Accessory Kit. This kit can help you enhance your mobility, flexibility and strength. The wheel and block are made of natural cork so they’re non-slip, water resistant and naturally anti-microbial. The cotton strap helps you ease deeper into your poses. This kit can help you achieve your zen-like flexibility goals in style.

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3. For the space saving home exerciser.

Kettlebell Kings 10-40 lb Adjustable Kettlebell. A versatile kettlebell that can be adjusted in 5 pound increments for a variety of exercises or fitness levels and it takes up minimal space. Easily adjustable with a locking mechanism that keeps the weights safely in place when in use. No worries about accidentally dropping it on your toe. And Kettlebell Kings offers free shipping which is a great deal because shipping 40 pounds worth of product could set you back a mortgage payment!

4. For the protein drink lover.

BlenderBottle Insulated Steel Shaker Bottle. Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 5.47.42 PM.pngThis insulated bottle keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours. It includes a BlenderBall whisk for mixing smooth shakes on the go and a twist-on cap that is guaranteed leak-proof so you can toss the bottle in your gym bag with no worries. It comes in multiple colors and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. This is the perfect addition for your fit friend that is always adding something to their drink.

5. For the friend in need of motivation.

51gnZjSdI-L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNo Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar. Most of us know fitness is good for us but we all lack motivation at times. This book can help you change your mindset about fitness and exercise. Michelle Segar is a behavior expert that specializes in motivation and has developed a 4 point program to help you find your motivation for health.

 

Happy Exercising! And shopping!

Energy Boosting Smoothie and a Treat!

**Join my September Jump Start mailing list and get 4 weekly workouts sent right to your inbox.**

My kids and I blend fruit and veggie smoothies several times a week for breakfast or post-workout snacks. We go through a LOT of produce here! I’ve shared my smoothie combos on my Facebook page often but I thought I would share a couple of recipes my girls and I used this week.

The first smoothie is an energy booster that my older daughter has made twice this week because she’s having a hard time adjusting to early mornings in anticipation of school starting next week. (Full disclosure: She’s been a beast and school hasn’t even begun! This smoothie might need to be a regular menu item.)

Cherries provide an anti-inflammatory effect that can help reduce stress, and they taste yummy! The natural sugars in peaches provide energy and the flaxseed and oats provide filling, sustained energy.

IMG_2625Cherry Peach Energy Booster

1/2 cup cherries, fresh or frozen

1 medium peach

2 Tbs dry oats

1 Tbs ground flaxseed

Blend and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

The second smoothie is a little treat. With the fall season looming, I decided to join the pumpkin spice bandwagon. Instead of the high calorie commercial pumpkin spice treats, I decided to make my own.

IMG_2627Pumpkin Delight

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie spice

1 tsp maple syrup

1/2 cup almond milk (adjust this amount for the consistency you like)

Blend and enjoy!

 

 

 

P.S. Join my September Jump Start email list! The kids are back in school so its time to start a great new routine! The Jump Start will provide you with 4 weekly emails in September that outline a workout complete with full exercise descriptions. All workouts can be done in about 20 minutes with no equipment. Join here today!