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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Knee Injuries and Knee Pain

Often some of you ask, "why is my knee hurting?" Here's the answer. Are you ready?

I don't know.

There are so many factors and so many different injuries possible in this extremely important joint.
You may injure it during class, you may injure it at work or home, you may need new shoes, you may be suffering from overuse, or you may have a chronic condition that needs medical care.

As your instructor, here's what I do to prevent knee injury:
• I provide a good warmup, so your muscles and joints are prepared for the exercises and movements we perform during the cardio portion of the workout.
 I evaluate all choreography to make sure it will not put you in a risky position. Some movements may be fun, but can be dangerous, especially for people new to exercise or with other health conditions. So I leave them out.
• I provide a section of the workout specifically designed to strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee. This stabilizes your joint and makes it more durable, not only for our workout but for everything you do in your daily activities.
 I demonstrate proper stretches at the end of our workout to allow your joint full range of motion for everything you need your knee to do for you. My boss always says, "you are only as strong as you are flexible."

Here's what you can do:
• Follow my lead. When I tell you to not let your knees go past your toes when we do squats, you better look down and make sure.
• Wear proper shoes and keep them fresh. Shoes need to be replaced every 6-12 months depending on usage. If you are a frequent exerciser, you may consider investing in two pairs of shoes and alternate using them to give the cushioning in them time to rebound. Consider purchasing an orthotic insert.
• Take it easy. Don't jump in too suddenly. Again, we need a proper warmup period, and if you are new to exercise, allow your body time to adjust, as well as time to rest between workouts.
• Don't try to impress by overdoing a movement. Squats are not going to be more effective by going lower. Most of the work is done in the first 30% of the movement, so focus on moving correctly, rather than deeply.
• Listen to your body! Exercise should challenge you, but not cause you pain. If you feel pain, that is your body's method for telling you to STOP!
• Talk to a qualified doctor. There are so many causes of knee pain. Even a general practitioner would probably refer you to a specialist. So if you have chronic knee pain, talk to a doctor. Don't delay. This is one of the most important joints in your body!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Good news! Zumba classes during Rec Center closure

We'll have awesome Zumba classes during the two weeks that the Orem Rec is closed. Woo hoo! Thursday nights at 8:00. Just for August 25, and September 1.

I've arranged to rent the gym at CenterPoint Church, also the location of Meridian School. The address is 280 South 400 East. It is very easy to find across the street from Orem High School. Park in the back and enter through the gym door on the northwest corner. See more details and a picture here.

Cost is just $3. What a deal! Bring some friends. TREAT your friends. They will thank you much more than if you took them out for ice cream.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nutrition 101: Eating for a Healthy Life

We are lucky to have a registered dietician among us. Danika Dunn is also a fellow Zumba enthusiast, so I asked her to help answer some of the nutrition questions many of you often have. Read her message below. And if you'd like more help from her, you can attend a class she's holding on August 18, "Ending the Dinner War: Basics of Feeding a Healthy Family."

Nutrition 101: Eating for a Healthy Life, by Danika Dunn, RD

With magazines packed with nutrition “advice,” and ads on tv selling every supplement or weight loss gimmick under the sun, it can seem like the world of nutrition is a complicated, scary place. In reality, most truth about nutrition can be boiled down to a few basic principles.

Know when enough is really enough
It is important to eat enough to satisfy our body’s needs, but not so much that we gain unneeded weight. Keeping our intake appropriate to our needs is a fundamental, but tricky, principle of healthy eating.

Weight gain really does come down to calories in versus calories out. To make sure our “calories in” aren’t too high, try eating regular, healthy meals, and being aware of what you eat, and why. Are you really eating because you are hungry, or is it because you had a hard day, or you’re bored, or just because the food is in front of you? Keeping a food diary can be a helpful tool to see where you may be overeating and why.

We have much less control over “calories out.” We can exercise and get enough sleep, but how many calories our body burns is also determined by our genetics, body type, and other factors we don’t know much about. One thing we do know is that when our body doesn’t get enough food, it goes into starvation mode and holds onto its fat stores and energy, making it harder – not easier – to lose weight. For this reason, be very wary of diets that tell you to eat fewer than 1200 calories a day.

Balance your food groups
You need carbohydrates, protein, and, yes, even fat, in your diet. Carbohydrates give your body energy, and are the nutrient you need the most of. Try and get the higher quality carbohydrates that come from whole grain sources whenever possible – things like brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, etc. Carbohydrates are also found in beans and some vegetables, like potatoes and corn. Bottom line: your body needs carbs – try and give it the best!

Protein is one of the building blocks for your body. Muscle is made of protein, and proteins are used all over the body as enzymes and tissues. High-protein foods include meat, beans, eggs, and nuts. Protein and fat often come hand in hand, so try and stick to low-fat meats like chicken breast or low-fat beef more often and save the fatty meats like steak for special occasions. Beans are a great, low-fat, high fiber protein choice – plus they do wonders for your pocketbook! Bottom line: look for protein sources that are low in fat.

Fats are essential to your body’s function. Fat is used to make hormones and other tools your body uses. Plus, fat helps make food taste good and helps you feel fuller longer. Women, be aware that your body needs more fat than a man’s does in order to be healthy, especially when it comes to reproduction.
Too much fat, we all know, can cause problems. Try to generally choose options lower in fat – especially saturated fat. Diets high in saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. “Unsaturated” fats (monounsaturated & polyunsaturated – check your food labels!) are healthier for your heart. You can find these in olive or canola oil. Bottom line: keep saturated fat low.

Eating a variety of foods truly is a key to health. Different foods have different nutrients in them. Vegetables have vitamins and minerals that grains do not have. For example, vitamin B12, zinc, and iron, are found most often in the protein group – especially in meat. Those who do not eat meat (which is a fine choice, if done wisely), must be more aware of these nutrients and find them in other foods, or add them with a vitamin supplement. Even among similar foods there are differences in nutrients. A tomato has different nutrients than broccoli or onions or zucchini, and your body needs all of them. If you only eat rice, you will miss out on the nutrients that wheat flour or other grains offer.

Do you need to start cataloging all of the foods you eat and analyze whether you got enough thiamin or riboflavin for the day? No! What an awful way to live! If you simply eat enough of each of the food groups and eat a variety of foods within each food group, you should be getting all the nutrients your body needs. “Eat the rainbow” is a helpful mantra (please note it refers to fruits and vegetables, not the rainbow of sodas or candies available!).

Food isn’t good or bad
Unfortunately, drinking gallons of pomegranate juice or coconut oil, or whatever is the fad this week, will not cure all your health problems. Luckily, eating a French fry or cheesecake now and again will not automatically add 5 pounds and give you a heart attack, either. Eating the occasional brownie with a clear conscience is much better than bingeing on the entire pan because you feel so deprived on your current restrictive diet! It’s more fun, too, so enjoy your food; make most of your choices healthy choices, and there is almost always room for a little adventure!

Danika Dunn is a registered dietitian practicing in Orem, Utah. She is the mother of 2 little boys and loves helping other families develop healthy relationships with food. Visit her website, www.danikadunn.com, for more information.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I just really love my job

Thank you--all of you--for coming to class and making it so great! I really love enjoying the dances with you. Thank you for making it possible!