Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Month It's Time to Celebrate You!

Although the shortest month of the year, February is a month that packs a punch and leaves a lasting memory that is carried out through the year. February is the month of Superbowl Championships, Presidential Birthdays, Black History, Heart Health, and Body Image Awareness and of course, Love and Romance. But it’s these themes, although highlighted now, that must be practiced and continuously carried out all year long.

February is the month to get back to basics and re-discover you. If the Groundhog’s prognostication is correct as those in the Mid-Atlantic States can attest, we have 6 more weeks of winter and that means 6 more weeks to go internal and work on you. Take this time to honour you and to celebrate who you are so that when the warmth of spring arrives, you too will be able to display your natural inner and outer beauty just as the budding flowers outdoors.

This month focus on:
• Building strong relationships, not just with others, but with yourself as well
• Doing something fun, off the wall and totally out of your character
• Learning a new fact
• Trying out a new heart healthy recipe
• Saying I love you, not only to others, but to yourself every morning, every afternoon, every evening and the hours in between.

This is your time. Embrace it and Celebrate YOU!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

4 Simple Ways to Beat the Resolution Drop-off

It's February and only a few weeks into the New Year. The parking lot is still at capacity on most days at the health club, but this is about the time that we begin to see the numbers start to drop. We've set our resolutions at the beginning of the year, but what do we need to do to make certain that we stick with it?

1. Review and revise current goals: Set real goals and make certain that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed (SMART). Rather than say I want to lose weight, change it to "I want to lose 3 dress sizes by Suzy's wedding in June". This makes the goal real as it can be measured and you now have a deadline.

2. Make yourself a priority: why should anyone else be more important than you? If you can commit to a dental appointment, why not commit to you? Is a root canal really more inviting than your own company? Commit to an appointment with yourself to get fit and stay healthy.

3. Commit to movement: you don't have to go to the gym. Inspired by Dancing with the Stars? Sign up for a dance class. Dancing burns a considerable amount of calories, AND it's fun! Break out of your good girl shell and get a little naughty by participating in a "pole dancing" class. They're fun, empowering and are great for toning and firming the entire body.

4. Try new hobbies: choose 3 things that you've been wanting to try and schedule them out. This way, you're doing something new each month and adding variety to your schedule. Nothing can be more daunting than realizing that you have to run on the treadmill AGAIN for the twentieth time this month! Sounds like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day! Here’s a sample schedule:

February: Ballroom Dance Lessons

March: Pilates Lessons

April: Golf Lessons

Friday, February 12, 2010

Has the UK Baby Boomer Generation Found the Fountain of Youth?

Remember your childhood days when a trip to the playground was the highlight of your day? Swinging for hours on the swings and competing with your friends to see whose swing could go the highest, or spinning on the merry-go-round with eyes closed until you got dizzy and let’s not forget about the flips and tricks on the monkey bars. As kids you probably felt that if your whole life was spent at the playground life would be good. Well, fast-forward fifty to sixty years later and you could be reliving those playground memories again. While First Lady Michelle Obama launches her U.S. initiative to help reduce childhood obesity in America, yesterday our friends across the pond announced an initiative that hits the other end of the age spectrum, playgrounds for adults. London has just been renamed FUNdon for the aging baby boomer population who will have a special playground designed specifically for their needs in the popular Hyde Park. Although exercise areas for seniors are already popular in Europe and Asia, this is a first for England’s capital city. The outdoor facility will include low-impact exercise equipment to help users improve flexibility, balance and muscle tone. It’s a known fact that physical activity adds years to your life by not only strengthening the muscles, increasing bone density and improving cardiovascular health, but it also has psychological benefits. Physical fitness can become an uplifting and social activity which is part of what the organizers are hoping for. According to Michelle Mitchell of the British group Age Concern, "The playground could be a great way to encourage older people to exercise and socialize, many older people aren't exercising enough," she adds, explaining that physical activity with others their own age can help seniors struggling with loneliness and depression.

For these UK Baby Boomers, the new playgrounds are a path to longevity and overall well-being; they’re not ready to throw in the towel just yet. For them, it’s “time-out” for Father Time, these seniors are still in the game and it’s time to play!

For more, check out the full CBS news story: London to Open Playground for Seniors

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama says "Let's Move"

In an on-going effort to address and reduce the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, First Lady Michelle Obama officially launched the "Let's Move" campaign on Tuesday. As part of this initiative, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that established The Taking on Childhood Obesity task force. This task force is challenged to prepare and submit to the President within 90 days, a plan that would outline a plan of action detailing a coordinated strategy with key benchmarks identified that would help to reduce childhood obesity in a generation.

I watched the press conference of the launch and found myself agreeing with so many of the points stated. At one point in time Mrs. Obama asked the listeners to close their eyes for a moment and remember back to their childhood experiences. She recalled a time when physical activity was a norm, and not an exception, when the parents fully decided what would be eaten whether the child liked a particular vegetable or not, and when recess and gym classes were mandatory in schools. Personally, I can remember when during a five day school week, you had gym class involving physcial activty four days of the week while one day was designated to Health Class, and regardless of your academic grades, if you didn’t pass gym, you seriously ran the risk of not graduating to the next grade level. We’ve gotten away from those times, and as a direct result, the health of our children is in serious jeopardy. Rates of childhood obesity have tripled and 1 out of 3 children is overweight or obese. Remember the days when “flat-footedness” was a common disqualifier for active duty? Today, the US Military reports that a common disqualifier for military action is obesity. Chronic illnesses such as: High blood pressure, High cholesterol and Type II Diabetes were once only prevalent in adults but are now present in children at alarming levels. The First Lady cited a startling fact that at the current rate of childhood obesity in this country, our children will not live longer than their parents. If we do not make changes today, the quality of our children’s lives will diminish tomorrow.

So what does this “Let’s Move” initiative mean? According to Mrs. Obama, the initiative “seeks to tackle the issue of childhood obesity through waves of efforts across the country” and will focus on four main avenues:

1. Helping kids and parents make healthy choices by providing the useful tools in order to help them do so

2. Providing healthy food at school: Mrs. Obama called on Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act that would help to facilitate this

3. Encouraging physical activity

4. Making healthy food accessible and affordable

Mrs. Obama says that this initiative combines personal choice and public access. Yes, I’ve already heard some of the commentary “I don’t need the government at my dining table telling me what to feed my family and how to feed it, etc.” How I see it is this, I see it as a two-pronged approach. Maybe the government doesn’t need to be at our dining tables per se, but they can definitely make the mandates to insure that the food companies from whom we are buying the products that go onto our dining tables are providing us with the best quality product and the proper informatin to make the appropriate choices. They can make certain that when we send our kids to schools and feed them, they are not being fed high fat, high calorie, high cholesterol or high sodium foods that are going to be a detriment to their health. And in the place where our children spend a large part of the day, the government can help the schools make it feasible to put back time periods that require physical activity. But we as adults must take it further and make the appropriate choices and realize that we are impacting our children in the long run. We can tell the kids to turn off the television and computers and go outside to play, we can take walks with them and most importantly, we can lead by example. For the most part, children will do what they see their parents do.
And, I’m about to go there….we need to be realistic. If a child has hit puberty and is chubby, chances are it’s no longer “baby fat”. Now, that said, I’m not advocating that you seek to make the child thin, but take pause and examine what the child is eating and their level of physical activity. Begin to make the changes at home that will help to facilitate a heatlhier lifestyle like cutting back on sugary soft drinks and incorporating more fruits and veggies in meals. DO NOT belittle the child and call him or her fat. Physical fitness is not about aesthetics, physical fitness is about health.

Regardless of your political affiliation, this is a critical topic that impacts us all. Our children need our help not tomorrow, but today. Let’s get our children healthy so that they can live.

If you’d like to know more about Let’s Move or how you can get involved, go to their website at:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Superbowl Mania, Superbowl Fitness

Are you ready for some football? Many Americans will be enjoying this event that‘s typically known for buffalo wings, pizza and beer. But for those who may want to keep their waistlines in check, some simple strategies will do.

1.Pre-Superbowl Party Workout: going to the party, work it out early and train like you’re ready to hit the gridiron yourself! Try some fat-blasting interval training by incorporating higher intense peaks in your work-out followed by lower intense recovery periods. An example of this would be: In between weight sets, rather than sitting and resting, whip out the jump rope and jump for 30 seconds. On the treadmill? Sprint for 30 seconds and follow it up with a 1 minute jog as your recovery. A couple of rounds of these intervals will help to increase your calorie burn and will also allow you to burn a few more calories post-workout. Bonus!

2.Healthy Snacks: yes, there will be a healthy (loosely used) dose of junk food, but if you can, contribute to the party snacks by bringing a few of your own. Try baked chips and salsa or pita chips with hummus. These fun snacks are lower in calories and fat and will help to keep you from overindulging on the other stuff.

3.Don’t Go to the Party Hungry: the hungrier you are, the more likely you will binge. Eat before you go to help keep your appetite in check.

4.Portion Control: you’ve heard me say this many times before, moderation is everything! Use smaller sized plates or use the one-napkin rule. If it can’t fit on the napkin, then it’s too much. Take your time eating your food while you’re enjoying the game.

5.Watch Alcohol Consumption: hidden calories are found here and can add up quickly. Low-cal drinks are always a plus but, pace yourself and space out your drinks. Try drinking a glass or two of water in between your drinks.

Don’t spend your day stressing over what you’re eating, enjoy the day, enjoy the game and most of all enjoy the companionship of those around you.