Monthly Archives: December 2009

Magic Weight Loss and Brain Power Tips

Yeah, No.

Not really. No magic here. Mentos and diet cola looks pretty magical too, but it’s not. If anyone offers you magic solutions to health, you might as well be buying the Brooklyn Bridge. Has the price gone down on it yet?

There are only habits. Stopping old rituals and starting new routines. Doesn’t that sound daunting? It really doesn’t have to be. Start small. Go slow. Keep steady. Yeah, not glamorous, but it works.

Think Slow and Steady


Invest 10 minutes everyday in a new habit. No more.

Below are a few opportunities to start making changes. Pick only one. Who we kidding, we all want to do more. Go ahead and try a few, but stick to one. If you force too much too soon seeking immediate results, you will crash and burn. If you can keep that one new habit for a 2 months, then perhaps add another. This slow steady method goes a long way in helping maintain better mental and physical health.

  • Just 10 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning can increase your metabolic rate for the rest of the day.
  • Up your consumption of water throughout the day. Drink sugary beverages sparingly.  Be fully hydrated. This can increase your metabolic rate.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Big ugh, I know. Make it more interesting. Go seasonal. Get to know your local farmers. Frequent the farmers market or local grocer. Ask how they like to prepare the harvests of the season. My personal favorite way to eat most veggies is a quick sautee in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Bam.

  • Eat more fats. The good kind. As in HDL, not LDL.  Latest research suggest that cholesterol lowering foods such as avocados, almonds, olive oil, soy beans, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, chili peppers, oat bran, beans (kidney, pintos, black, navy, etc.), onions, fatty fish, and flax seed play a crucial role in lowering LDL and sometimes raising HDL levels. These foods fill you up and help your cholesterol stay healthy.
  • Drink Green Tea. This one is personal.  Although skeptical of touting weight loss benefits, green tea has been helpful in curbing sugar and nicotine cravings.  A little green tea after dinner helps in digestion and is a wonderful winter ritual rounding off dinner with a mandarin orange or two as dessert.
  • Journal 10 minutes a day. Huh? Yup. Get a notebook. Vent your anxieties, frustrations, write down your hopes, dreams. List three thing you are grateful for everyday. These little moments help clear the brain and make the rest of your day smoother, creating peace of mind and less stress.

Take your time and enjoy the process. As enticing as quick fix solutions can be, slow and steady habit shifts will keep the body and mind healthier throughout a lifetime.

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Better Health by Walking Tall. Building Postural length and muscle awareness.

80 year old catwalk model Daphne Selfe has amazing postural grace

When a muscle is shorter than the optimal length, it not only effects the opposing muscle but can have repercussions on the entire [body]…If you continue to exercise with poor posture you will recruit the wrong muscles and build your body disproportionately…If you do not correct your muscular imbalances the cycle will repeat over and over again and get progressively worse. – askthetrainer.com

The above statement is a difficult lesson to learn, yet it is the most crucial. People ponder why it is they have done exercise for years and yet their body is still riddled with aches and pains. The answer is never simple, but a few simple answers are often missed.

The simpler the concept, the harder it is to master.  Walk tall. Breathe. Lengthen muscles and release tension. All of this translates to proper muscular support of the joints and spine. Although a good cardio regime is important for the body and mind, so too is understanding posture.

We all fight gravity and posture issues. Think of how much time we spend sitting.  The damage cannot be completely reversed by three hours of weekly fitness. The in-between moments matter most. You could be a daily runner, or someone who sits all day, if there is no postural awareness there is a more rapid deterioration of the body structure.

In a recent lesson a client had a personal break-through, and in her own words, she found that by stretching a muscle, you are “canceling it out” of the exercise. In other words, when stretching a muscle long, it can’t be tensed inward. This is a simple way to think of how lengthened muscles will create less stress and tension in both the body and mind.

lifting up, stretches open the chest and shoulders

Here are some ideas designed to create postural awareness.

– Roll Downs and Pelvic Tilts against the wall

– Other awareness exercises against the wall

– Work on your breath.

Take a moment at your desk, in the kitchen, wherever you might be, and focus on your breath to allow tension to melt away and bring your body and mind back into focus. My favorite breathing cues come from Mary Bond and her book “The New Rules of Posture.  #1. Inhale beauty: as if you are smelling something wonderful, like fresh-baked cookies or roses.  #2. Exhale surrender: Exhale and focus on one part of your body releasing, letting go, and becoming heavy.  Don’t over-breathe or force the breath. Just let it happen lightly and without strain.

– Most importantly. Go back to basics.

Even if you are an advanced fitness person, consider going back to the basics. People often know how a movement should look, but are doing it with the wrong muscles. The most common example is overuse of the hip flexors which take over for the abdominals, making it impossible to get any benefit from certain core exercises.

overuse of the hip flexors causes back strain and lack of abdominal strength.

Take a basic pilates class, yoga class, tai-chi, or dance. Any movement practice that focuses on fundamentals. A strong understanding of basic movements and how they relate to your body is what makes someone truly advanced.

Both the final image and the first quote are found at askthetrainer.com