The Dreaded Feeling That All eyes are on me

Going to a gym to work out takes a lot of courage for some. In addition to the feelings of inadequacies as one fumbles their way through equipment that they are not familiar with, people who are overweight also have the extra emotional burden of overcoming the fear that “all eyes are on them”.
In my former personal training days, my clients would often share with me how personal training was a great option because it helped give them gain the confidence they needed to go into a gym and workout independently. But like many things in life, having a personal trainer comes with a price tag, which makes it unaffordable for many. So what alternative solutions when you are not able to afford a personal trainer? Interesting, training videos/DVDS are still great options, yes even in 2017.

Active Exercise

In a recent conversation that I had with a colleague (who is struggling with her weight and who also has a limited income), as we were exploring different options that might help her reach her achieve her fitness goals, interestingly, our conversations kept circulating back to training videos/DVDs. Yes, they are still very significant today because they allow individuals to work out in the privacy of their own home and avoid those unwanted “stares”. Another benefit of well- produced training videos is that they often show progressive movements, which provides viewers a goal to strive towards.
Indeed, training videos/DVDs are not the answers for everyone, particularly since it still requires the “motivation” to work out. However, if you happen to have a few training videos/DVDs in storage, perhaps it might not be a bad idea to dust them off and use them to jump start your fitness goals!
And for those who are still in need of a little motivation, consider acquiring an exercise partner/buddy…
Contributor: Renna Reddick

Zumba: Dancing Your Way to a Healthier Body in 2019.

At the beginning of 2017, I joined a new fitness club. One of the things that made this particular fitness club so enticing was the large selection of group fitness classes that they offered (from TRX training, Cardio Interval training, Core Training and also host of Zumba classes).

Zumba Class

As a former personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I was simply amazed at the large selection of classes in comparison to the corporate gym I use to work for and wished more classes like these were available to augment the training program I designed for my former clients.
Prior to joining this new fitness club, I found myself struggling with my weight, which came as a huge disappointment to me and I am sure to those who once looked up to me to as a source of inspiration as they were striving to achieve and/or maintain their own fitness goals. Although I knew my weight gain stemmed from various stress factors in my life (i.e. working full time, going to graduate school, dealing with family matters, purchasing a home, etc.), I still needed to find a way to pull myself out of my slump. So, I began having these internal dialogues with myself in which I reflected on conversations I once had with former clients that helped to motivate them to stay on track. During one of these internal dialogue segments, I remembered how I would stress to my clients the importance of aerobic exercises, as it has consistently been proven to be the most effective way to lose weight. But, unfortunately, when most people hear the word “cardio” or “aerobic exercise”, they cringe; largely because they find cardio to be mundane, boring, and simply not fun. These feelings are usually based on their experience with traditional methods of cardio exercises like, walking or running. Interestingly, I found myself expressing some of these same sentiments. Although I would alternate my cardio between, biking, walking or running (on my cardio days), it still wasn’t stimulating enough and was becoming more of a chore.
As I continued to reflect on the conversations that I had with my former clients, another thing that kept resurfacing in my mind is how I would tell them to choose cardio activities they enjoyed and which doesn’t make them feel as if they are doing work (like going on a natural trail walk, hiking, kayaking, doing yard work or perhaps dancing). Shortly after reflecting on these conversations, a light bulb went on in my head. Why not give Zumba a try? Being a former member of a local Mamba Dance Team and also a former avid Latin dancer, it seemed only natural that I would have considered Zumba classes sooner. However, I confess that I thought it was a fad and also could not comprehend how people could be in a room following the dance lead of one or two individual instead allowing their own creative dance move to flourish within their body in response to the beat of the music.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my thinking that Zumba is perhaps a fad. In fact, despite its current popularity The American College of Sports Medicine still dropped Zumba from its 2014 list of Top 20 fitness trends. But does this mean that Zumba is completely fading? Absolutely not! Zumba is very much alive and has a life cycle just like other things. People will explore and embrace different fitness option based on their current lifestyle. Zumba wasn’t for me 10 years ago, but today, it has been a wonderful complement to my fitness goals. And these days, instead of questioning the Zumba format, I now appreciate the fact that because I have so much on my plate, I can get a great workout and don’t have to think about coming up with creative dance moves on my own. I invite you to also consider Zumba as a way to help you meet your personal fitness goals!
More information is available in two articles at:
http://www.health.com/weight-loss/best-exercise-to-lose-weight; and
http://jap.physiology.org/content/113/12/1831#T2
Contributor: Renna Reddick

Ten Ways to Help Strengthen the Knees and Reduce Knee Pain

  1. Anti-inflammatory Foods

Inflammation can be the cause of pain and weakness of knees. It is very important to include in your diet foods which are anti-inflammatory such as turmeric, walnuts, ginger, spinach, avocados, blueberries, sweet potatoes, tart cherries, olive oil, and salmon. Make sure to avoid inflammatory foods as white rice, white flour products, foods which are high in saturated fats, sugary foods, and soda.

  1. Swimming

Swimming can be very effective in treating knee pain and arthritis because it is an overall fitness. It will reduce the stiffness of the knees, strengthens the bones and the muscles of the knee joints.
You need to swim 30 minutes a day. Butterfly stroke, backstroke, and front crawl are the most effective swimming strokes. Make sure to avoid breaststroke because it applies pressure on the knees joints.

  1. Exercises

Exercises strengthen the knee bones and align the joints. The muscles surrounding the knee will be strengthened, which will improve their condition. Knee bends, step-ups, hamstring stretches with thigh contraction, lunges, straight-leg raises, squats with a Swiss ball, and single-leg squats are some of the most beneficial exercises. It is very important to perform these exercises 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times weekly.

  1. Epsom Salt

Usually, extremely low levels of magnesium are present in people who have weak knees, or people who suffer from knee pain because of osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium and it can effectively relieve this condition. It supports the calcium absorption, thus enabling a proper muscle function, and alleviating the inflammation around the knee joints. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a half a cup of water. Soak a washcloth in the solution and apply in on your knees. Let it stand for 15-20 minutes. Then, you can rinse it off with warm water.  Repeat this procedure two times a week. Also, once or twice a week, you can make an Epsom salt bath. Add a cup of Epsom salt in your bath, and soak in it for 20 minutes.

  1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for the collagen formation. It is extremely important for the proper bones development, synthesis of collagen, and quality of bone matrix. Furthermore, it can enhance the bone mass density and reduce the risk of fractures. Vitamin C is found in foods like spinach, berries, lemon, broccoli, papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, oranges, cauliflower, and kiwi. Also, you can take it as supplements such as chewable tablets or capsules.

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is significantly important for joints and bones health. The risk of minimal trauma fractures and bone loss is increased by the deficiency of vitamin D. Also, the body will not be able to absorb enough calcium, if it has a deficiency of this mineral. It is known that exposure to the sun is how our body produces vitamin D. So, spend at least 15 minutes a day in the sun. Vitamin D can be found in fish, fortified cereals, egg yolks, cod liver oil, and dairy products. Also, you can take some supplements recommended by your doctor.

  1. Calcium

Calcium is essential for the health of the bones. The deficiency of calcium can lead to weakening and thinning of bones, which causes osteoporosis. Because calcium is not produced by our body in a natural way, we need to take supplements and dietary sources in order to supply it. Calcium can be found it cheese, milk, dark leafy greens, almonds, edamame, blackstrap molasses, fortified orange juice, sardines, and calcium-fortified cereals. If you want to take supplements, choose those with vitamin D, because it helps the absorption of calcium. Visit your doctor so you can get the proper dose.

  1. Massage

Another effective way to treat knee pain and strengthen the knee area is massage. If it is done on a regular basis, it can improve circulation. Use coconut, mustard, or olive oil to rub your knees with firm but gentle movements (clockwise, and counter-clockwise) for 10-15 minutes. If you feel that there is a need, you can massage your knees two times a day. However, you should consult a massage therapist in case you suffer from a chronic knee pain.

  1. Fish Oil

Fish oil can enhance the bone density and strengthen the knee joints as it contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), omega-3 fatty acids. Also, the stiffness and joint pain will be alleviated due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.

  1. Healthy Weight

The excess body weight can also be a reason for weaken joints. It applies much more pressure on the knees and the joints need to do much more work. The risk of hip or knee replacement is increased by obesity. In order to enhance the strength and stability of the knees, it is very important to lose excess pounds.
 
Source:  NutriLover.com

Say Yes to Yoga

Yoga seems to be increasing in popularity. If you are a member of a local gym, you will likely see it listed as one of the group fitness options. You may also have noticed that yoga studios are popping up in various parts of your city or town. And perhaps your doctor or someone that you know has recently recommended it to you. Though some have managed to overcome the negative stigma of yoga, others are still yet to be persuaded.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend who had been complaining of pain in the knees, back and hips. Given what I know about this individual, although fitness was always important to him, like many, he was relying on modern traditional methods to help meet his weekly fitness goals – which primarily consisted of a combination of exercise machines and walking. Although the walking is not too concerning, exercise machines can sometimes be problematic. Though exercise machines were created to provide a safe alternative to free weights; they can put your body into unnatural positions and take your joints through dangerous ranges of motion which can lead to injuries overtime, thus leaving some searching for alternative exercises.
Yoga is a great form of exercise and has become a well-respected way of recovery from injuries. For example, according to the website spine-health.com – a site developed by a multi-specialty group of medical professionals, yoga can provide several healing benefits for people with various types of back pain such as: speeding up the time it takes to recover from an injury, preventing re-injury, and helping maintain a regular level of daily activities and thus reducing chances for disability. Other benefits of yoga include: improving flexibility, building muscle strength, preventing cartilage and joint breakdown, lowering your blood pressure, lowering blood sugar levels, boosting your immune system, reducing stress, improving your sex life and giving you a peace of mind.
yoga-1
However, despite the health and fitness benefits of yoga, still many have chosen to say, “NO” – especially men. In fact, according to a 2012 Yoga Journal Report, 83 percent of the more than 20 million yoga practitioners were woman, which may led some to wonder, why there is such a large disparity. Two of the common reasons I have heard from men as to why they do not practice yoga is that this is “not a real workout” or it is “only for women”.
The term Yoga covers religion, philosophy and practice and can be traced back to northern India. It is a mental, physical and spiritual practice and has a long and rich history that extends over 5, 000 years. The yoga that most people are familiar with today only dates back about 1851. It was introduced into western culture by teachers from India. Among them were Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888 – 1989), Sivananda Saraswati (1887 – 1963) and Swami Satchidananda.
Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body in ways which includes: balancing on your hands (such as in a Hand Stand), balancing on one leg (such as in Tree Pose or Warrior Three) or by supporting yourself with your arms (such as in Downward Facing “Dog”, Three Legged “Dog”, or Quarter “Dog”). Interestingly, natural movements were at the core of exercise routines for centuries prior to the use of any modern day exercise equipment. This should encourage some (especially men) to consider using more natural methods that has proven historically to have positive results.


renna-in-green-suiteContributor Renna Reddick is a certified nutrition specialist, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Certifications include: National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) and Aerobics, Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Group Fitness Instruction, and NFPT Nutrition Specialist
 

Lowering Your Cholesterol Naturally by Melissa Clark, MD

Statin medications that doctors use – Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol – all are effective at reducing cholesterol but can have side effects like muscle toxicity and pain. Most people prefer not to take medicines if they don’t have to. Some have turned to one of the more popular “natural” treatments for high cholesterol, red yeast rice, but it has the same potential side effects as statins. So if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and prefer to try start off with more natural remedies, talk with your doctor about trying some of these first. You should also let your doctor know of any supplements you want to take to ensure they do not interact negatively with any medications you are already on.
Natural or herbal options you can discuss with your doctor include:
1. Remember – food is medicine! There are great foods you can eat more of that can help lower cholesterol. These include walnuts, almonds and other nuts; foods high in omega 3 fatty acids – these include flaxseed or fatty fish like herring, mackerel, salmon and sardines; and olive oil. These foods along with ones high in soluble fiber (see below) can be substituted for foods high in saturated fats and trans-fats. Foods to eat less of, or to eliminate, include meat, full-fat dairy products like whole milk and cheese, and trans fats found in some margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes and cake mixes. Make sure to read your labels.
2. Eat more Soluble Fiber. Soluble fiber appears to binds with cholesterol in the intestines so that it is eliminated. It can be found as a dietary supplement, such as psyllium powder, or in foods such as oats, barley, rye; peas and beans; fruits like apples, prunes, and berries; and vegetables such as carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, yams. Five to 10 grams a day of soluble fiber has been found to decrease LDL cholesterol by approximately 5%. Soluble fiber products often say on the label that they are “heart-healthy”.
3. Niacin or Vitamin B3 is used to lower cholesterol. Specifically, it appears to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Niacin is available in prescription form and as a dietary supplement. The American Heart Association cautions patients to only use the prescription form of niacin. Because of side effects, niacin should not be used to lower cholesterol unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.
Side effects can include the most common one, skin flushing, as well as increasing the effect of high blood pressure medication, causing nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, gout, worsening peptic ulcers, or triggering gout, liver inflammation, and high blood sugar. Hold on though – better news follows…
4. Studies on Artichoke leaf extract show it may work to lower cholesterol by both decreasing the amount of cholesterol made in the body as well as increasing cholesterol elimination from the body. It has not yet been well studied but preliminary results show minimal side effects and after 1 week of 1800 mg, cholesterol lowering effects lasted up to 6 weeks.
Remember to check back in with your doctor frequently to make sure that the approach you have chosen is helping to get your cholesterol levels where they need to be.
Dr. Clark is author of the new book “Excuse Me Doctor! I’ve Got What? Taking Ownership of Your Health and making Healthcare Reform Work for You” This book was recently selected by Essence Magazine as one of its top picks and is spotlighted as a great read for helping one to keep his/her New Year’s resolution on keeping your body healthy in 2015

Digging Deep for the Motivation

Many people may have the desire to get fit, but acting on those desires is a completely different story. Oftentimes it involves pressing through mental and emotional challenges that can easily put a halt on your fitness goals, sometimes for years. So how is it that some people are able to find the motivation to work out while others do not? And for those that are struggling to find motivation, how can they get it?
The majority of us are passionate about something. Whether it is about our work, our kids, or our hobbies. Hence, there are just going to be some people that have a passion for fitness and are therefore self-motivated to work out. Still, there are many others who need an extra boost.
During my years as a personal trainer, one of the first things I would do with my clients was determine their whys?  Why did they want to lose weight, why did they want to gain weight, why did they decide that it was finally time to make a financial investment into a personal trainer?  Their reasons varied. To be around longer for their kids, to feel more attractive to their spouse, to gain more energy or to be a smaller size for their upcoming wedding.  Despite their reasons, they all had one thing in common when they came to me for assistance – the motivation to want to make a change. Yet still the challenge would become, how to remain motivated.
Here are the top five things that I found that worked best for my clients which can also be applied to anyone who’s interested in becoming more physically fit.

      (1) Take a Picture of yourself and lay it next to an older picture of you when you were smaller or next to a person’s picture whom you aspire to look like
      (2) Get accountability partners. People that can remind you to stay on track when you are tempted to give up.
      (3) Acknowledge and celebrate small successes. Weight loss takes time. Keep in mind that in order to lose one pound, you must have a caloric deficit of approximately 3,500 calories. Meaning that you will need to burn an extra 500 calories per day just to lose one pound. However, exercise and diet changes will get you quicker results.
      (4) Find a physical activity that you will enjoy. Working out in the gym 6 times a week may not be for everyone. Dancing, bicycling, and rollerblading are great options.
      (5) Pull out a favorite outfit from your closet that you have not been able to wear in years and make it a goal to get in it again.

Unless you are on a reality show Like the Biggest Loser, odds are you are not going to be living with a personal training or with a group of people who are collectively trying to lose weight. However this does not mean that you should neglect your fitness goals, rather, you just have to become more creative in your approach.
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Contributor Renna Reddick is a certified nutrition specialist, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Certifications include: National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) and Aerobics, Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Group Fitness Instruction, and NFPT Nutrition Specialist

The Mind Body Corner with Dr. Melissa Clarke: Why Stress Can Make Us Sick

It is health which is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. – Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi

What is health? A medical “check-up” often focuses on making sure we are not sick – checking our blood pressures, mammograms, colonoscopies. These are all excellent things to keep on top of, but do not always necessarily focus on “health”. You can have all good results but still not be healthy. That is because health, or wholeness, is really not only a physical concern ; it starts with something only we can do for ourselves – focusing on well-being, both mentally and emotionally, which in turn leads to maintaining a healthy body.
Doctors, herbs and medicines do not heal us. These options give our bodies the right substrates/building blocks to work with in order to for our body to heal itself. When we cut our finger for example, the body has the intelligence to send extra blood components that are specifically designed to form a seal, harden, protect the body from invasion from bacteria at that spot and eventually close up like nothing ever happened. This regeneration is happening at every minute of every day in our bodies. We have cancer cells popping up daily, are constantly bombarded by toxins in or food/air/water, and are exposed to bacteria and viruses. Yet most of us do not get sick from these things at the same rate we are exposed to them.
Our bodies are in a constant state of healing to stay well on a minute to minute basis. Hormones and messenger chemicals turn on and turn off these important repair systems in our bodies. One of the biggest factors in how effectively this system functions is our emotions. “Feeling stressed” sets off a separate set of hormones and messenger chemicals via the nervous system that mobilize the body’s resources for the “fight or flight response” and affect almost every organ in the body. Blood pressure goes up, the heart pumps faster, the intestines slow down, and blood vessels constrict, just to name a few. This system works great when there is real physical danger. It does not work well when it is always “on” due to feeling stressed, and often leads to the common ailments we experience. Here are just 5 common ways this happens:
Headaches
With stress, your hormones set off a series of neurochemical events in your brain that stimulates your nerves and causes your blood vessels to swell. In many people this is felt as tension headaches and migraines.
Stomach Upset/ Reflux/ Irritable Bowel Disease
Anxiety and stress lead the body to make more digestive acid, which leads to heartburn. The stomach also can take longer to empty food, which causes gas and bloating, and cause the intestines to contract more, leading to cramping and diarrhea.
Colds and Flu
Stress suppresses the immune system, making you susceptible to catching airborne illnesses. In a study at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, researchers surveyed volunteers about what was going on in their lives, and then infected them with a cold virus. The men and women coping with stresses ranging from a bad marriage to unemployment were twice as likely to get sick as those with fewer problems.
Weight Gain
Under stress, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released. With chronic exposure, these stimulate hunger since your body assumes you will need energy to defend yourself. We often respond to this hunger by eating the items which will provide the quickest energy – fats and carbs. This of course leads to weight gain..
Neck and Back Pain
Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system to reduce blood flow to the muscles, which makes them prone to spasms. In addition, our posture when stressed tends to suffer, since we tend to hunch over and tense the shoulder and neck muscles, making the muscle tension worse.
So how can we set up an environment that protects us from the effects of stress? In the next issue we will look at ways that research has proven – nutrition, sleep, exercise, and practices for emotional well-being – which we can use to lessen the effects of stress and promote self healing as well.
Melissa Clarke, MD
Dr. Clark is author of the new book “Excuse Me Doctor! I’ve Got What? Taking Ownership of Your Health and making Healthcare Reform Work for You This book was recently selected by Essence Magazine as one of its top picks and is spotlighted as a great read for helping one to keep his/her New Year’s resolution on keeping your body healthy in 2015