Food Is Not Your Enemy

Do We Even Need to Work Out?
March 12, 2019, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Exercise, Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: , ,

There is no question that moving our bodies is a good thing. For those of you who were hoping I was going to advocate a couch potato lifestyle—sorry! But what is worth taking a closer look at is how we go about moving, and if it is so critical that we all sweat at a gym on a regular basis.

The longest-lived peoples in the world, according to Dan Buettner, the author of the Blue Zones books, often do not “work out.” These healthy populations, who live in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California; tend to get their exercise in other, gentler ways. They walk. They hike. They garden. They head down to the pier to buy fresh fish. They bring their dogs outside to run around.

The key is that they are not sitting for eight hours a day, five days a week, with their only movement being an hour at the gym here and there. Movement is part of their days, every day.

This does not mean that you should abandon your CrossFit or spin class or weight lifting regimen if you enjoy it and it makes you feel good. There are certainly plenty of cardiovascular and mental health benefits to more intense workouts, not to mention they can help you with your weight-loss or weight-maintenance efforts. The point here is that there are other ways to approach exercise—if you hate the gym, don’t feel that you have to go! Head outside. Walk or bike every day. Take the stairs. Get a dog. As long as you’re moving, you are doing your body good.


Walk Your Way to Better Health
August 15, 2014, 9:46 am
Filed under: Exercise, Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , , ,

The core classes at the gym are not scheduled at a convenient time for you. The local yoga studio doesn’t feel welcoming to anyone who isn’t already in perfect shape. The perky spinning instructors espousing affirmations make you want to roll your eyes. That’s why you don’t exercise.

You know these are all excuses, and that you shouldn’t let these things stop you from being physically active. But the fact is, they do stop you.

There is one type of exercise, however, that’s pretty tough to complain about. It can be done at any time of day or night, and it can be done anywhere. It’s free. It’s easy. And anyone can do it, even someone who is 100 pounds overweight: WALKING.

Walking may seem like nothing—is there really any benefit to an activity so, well, simple? The answer is yes. There is plenty of scientific evidence that regular brisk walking is associated with better health, including lower blood pressure, better mood, and improved cholesterol ratios. And it does burn a significant number of calories—314 per hour if you weigh 160 pounds, for instance, and up to 469 calories per hour if you weigh 240 pounds, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Going for a stroll on a regular basis will also help reduce your risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes, increase breast cancer survival rates, and reduce fibromyalgia pain.

You really have no excuse not to do this—so put on your sneakers and get out there!

Move and Don’t Move: Exercise and Relaxation
August 21, 2012, 9:00 am
Filed under: Exercise, Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: ,

Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Summer is often a time for play, time off, and much-deserved relaxation. Many of us use the summertime to rebuild our reserves for the rest of the busy year. In our work-crazed society, we can lose sight of the benefits of slowing down and taking time to rest. Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to enjoy the restorative powers of reconnecting to your body through both movement and relaxation.

Our bodies love to move. Even though our bodies are healthiest when getting appropriate physical activity, we often feel dread and boredom when we hear the word “exercise.” Think for a moment of what type of movement you would consider fun as opposed to torturous. Perhaps you loathe the idea of a gym, but miss taking dance classes. Maybe you secretly want to try yoga or rollerblading. You could play touch football with your kids, walk with a neighbor in the mornings, or go for a swim. The summer offers so many choices–it’s simply up to you to choose which style of movement excites you. Your heart will benefit, your joints will feel less creaky, and you’ll sleep better at night.

Summer is a unique time of year when we can both relax and move out in nature. Take a nap in a hammock and enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass. Go to the park and read under a favorite tree. One of the greatest places to rest in the summertime is by the water. There is something about water that feels so restorative, and many of us naturally crave to be near it, by it, or in it. Heading to the water, whether it is the beach, a lake, or a pool, can be very rejuvenating.

Whether you are relaxing, exercising, or both, notice that being outside in nature has a way of quieting the mind and reconnecting us to ourselves. Often this relaxation and peace of mind are what our bodies crave the most in summer. So be sure to make time to both move, and not move!

How to Get (and Stay) Motivated

Maybe you’re looking to lose weight. Maybe you need to get your type 2 diabetes under control. Maybe your blood pressure and cholesterol are high and your doctor said you need to change your diet. Maybe tomorrow.

Getting motivated can be tough. You use less salt at home, but will this one sodium-packed meal at Applebee’s kill you? You joined a gym, but it’s so hard to get there, what with your busy schedule. Will burning 300 calories today on the treadmill really make a difference in the long run?

It’s very easy to talk yourself out of healthier behaviors. Why? Because if your goal is something that feels very big (control diabetes), or too “into the future” (lose 50 pounds), it’s hard to connect how a single choice (like getting a Big Mac and large fries for lunch today) will really make much of a difference. You think, Well, I’ll eat better tomorrow, or hit the weights tomorrow–it won’t be such a big deal to indulge or be lazy just this once.

Of course, we all know that “just this once” happens more than just once.

The solution to this problem is not a matter of having stronger will power. It’s a matter of the moment. Rather than focusing on those big goals and big problems, hone in on how your body and mind feel today as a result of eating a gross meal or skipping your workout. Not only will a plate of fried food impact your waistline, it may also cause bloating, gas, or diarrhea. A breakfast packed with refined carbohydrates and sugar will likely have you feeling irritable, sleepy, or both within a couple of hours after eating it. Blowing off exercise may lead to stiffness, tension in your back or shoulders, or low energy. Drinking 800 calories’ worth of cocktails (a few drinks will get you there more quickly than you may realize) will lead to hours of depression the next day.

So begin to pay close attention to how your choices affect you physically and mentally right now. It’s much easier than worrying about how what you eat today may affect the numbers on your medical chart sometime next year. And the great thing is that the foods and habits that make you feel good now will also help your overall health. Now that’s motivation that’ll stick around.

Can You Lose Weight by Standing Up?

Good news: you can burn calories by doing something other than exercising. It’s called standing up.

You can also pace around your office while on the phone. Or walk 10 minutes to get your lunch rather than having it delivered. Or fold laundry. Or rake leaves.

Called Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT, these types of physical movements may seem like nothing, but they do add up and can account for as much as 500 to 1,000 calories burned per day.

Sounds crazy, right? But a Mayo Clinic study has proven that leaner people have more NEAT in their day than people who are overweight.

It’s well-known that we’ve become more sedentary over the years–we can thank machines and technology for that. We now e-mail a colleague down the hall rather than walk to their office to hand them a document. We use remote controls instead of getting up to adjust the volume. We rely on snow blowers so we don’t have to shovel. We buy electric toothbrushes so we don’t have to move our arm so much.

Think about what ease and convenience has done to your waistline. Then, please, get out of your chair. Need another reason to do so? A study has found that sitting for hours on end can activate genes that are linked to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Now adding more NEAT into your day doesn’t then mean you can skip your workouts–getting your heart rate up on a regular basis and building muscle are still key to maintaining good health. But making sure you get out of your chair and do, well, almost anything, will really be a difference-maker.

Need support in eating better? Working one-on-one with a holistic nutrition counselor can help. Contact me for a free consultation, which can take place over the phone.

November 2, 2009, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Exercise, weight loss | Tags: , ,

Do you hate exercise? Then go out for a walk. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, it’s free, and easy.

I for one am not a big fan of exercise. There. I said it. I do like yoga, but I don’t go to class multiple times a week, largely because of the expense. I keep active between classes by walking as much as I can. You just want to make sure you walk briskly–no window shopping for shoes.