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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How and WHY to change your health habits

I love this article about how and WHY to improve your health habits. Diet is probably the most important element in your health, but it can be hardest to change. I'd love to help you! Why? Because if YOU learn to eat healthy, your KIDS will also learn to eat health. In one generation we can change the world!

http://www.heraldextra.com/momclick/health-and-fitness/health-and-wellness-column/health-wellness-ways-to-make-the-change-to-better-health/article_5b1df350-7ceb-57d0-958a-7a7842fb63da.html

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Injuries--it's up to you.

I am friends with loads of fitness instructors. And I'm friends with loads of fitness participants. My data may not be scientific, but I can tell you by observation that the fitness instructors are just as much victims to injury as the novice participants.

WHY?

For a novice participant, they rely on the instructor to guide them through their workout to improve their health.

For the instructor, they are relying on the hope that the participant will enjoy class SO MUCH that they will come again and again. So sometimes they forget that the primary focus is *improving* the condition of their body, not just impressing everyone! They over do it. They don't talk about form. They push too hard.

GUESS WHAT HAPPENS?

The instructor AND the participant wind up injured. The instructor throws out her back or tweaks her neck whipping her hair or gets a stress fracture. The participant executes poor form and torques their knee or rolls their ankle or has such a knot in their hamstring that they can't muster the desire to go to class again and make it worse.

For the participant, unfortunately, all the good regular habits they had been building will crumble and they may never get back into the routine. (Until another January rolls around and they'll try again...until the next injury...wait until January again...)

And for the instructor, they get a sub. Often it's me. WHY? Because I'm not injured! In fact, I've NEVER had a Zumba-related injury.*

It's all so preventable.

HOW?
Cross-training.

Overworking in one area allows other skills and muscles to weaken. Those weaknesses are the doors to injury. I've always said, Zumba 2-3 times per week is plenty. Do other things in between. Yoga/pilates, run, strength training, spin classes, swimming, hiking, or whatever you enjoy! Don't allow your body to become too specifically trained in one area.

And if your instructor is overdoing it to the point of injury, be wary of following their moves too closely or you may wind up injured too!

That's one reason I really LOVE this new STRONG by Zumba® format. It's the perfect complement to your cardio-focused Zumba workout. It builds muscle and strengthens your joints. It improves your endurance and really sculpts your body shape. Because I've been cross-training for years already, my body was ready for introducing YOU to this format. I'm so happy it can come together with such great music to drive it.

Check out some other posts I've written on how to prevent injuries. Key points are a proper warmup/cooldown that prepares the body for movement, good form, cross-training, appropriate exertion level, and what to do about knee injuries. Listen to your body, "move on purpose"--not floppy and out of control, and push yourself when you are able. Take joy in your improvements, not comparing yourself to others.

Take care of your body and it will serve you and those who rely on you well for many years!

*(If you're a fellow instructor reading this--no I'm NOT talking about YOU. This happens to LOADS of instructors. Regularly. And I'm happy to fill-in when you need! But maybe you should start coming to my STRONG by Zumba class--ha ha!)





Monday, January 30, 2017

Stress Eating--It's Not Wrong

So let's just start by stating the obvious: your body needs food.

Slightly less obvious: Your brain needs food, too. Just because your brain isn't a moving part doesn't mean it doesn't need energy. In fact, your brain uses about 20% of your total caloric intake.

So when we are stressed, why might we eat more? The research is unclear about whether or not high brain activity requires significantly more energy, but either way, having low blood sugar levels isn't going to help you think clearly when you need it most. So in response to a need for greater focus, our body may send us into a consumption mode to make sure we are fueled up.

Our bodies are meant to chew, but with the sort of food we have widely available now, we can get to our daily caloric needs in a lot fewer bites than what nature intended! What kind of food would be available to a stressed out person living 200 years ago? Okay, NOT refrigerated cookie dough, Big Macs, Doritos, and microwave popcorn. So if our bodies are naturally wired to want to munch more during stress, the kind of food we are responding with is like putting out a candle with a firehose.

But let's be real, if you're stressed, the last thing you are likely to be when it comes to food choices is TOTALLY LOGICAL. I'm not. And this goes double when I haven't had enough sleep--which is also usually a factor when we are under stress.

At times of stress, there is usually something that we are supposed to be doing that we don't really want to do. Maybe we have to deal with some paperwork, or an unpleasant relationship, or tackle a difficult chore or project. Instead of doing what we SHOULD be doing, we reason that we need to fuel up first.  Before you know it we've mindlessly eaten a half-batch of cookies because that requires WAY LESS brain power than preparing our taxes. And you know, the stress doesn't even have to be that big. Maybe we just feel tired, or don't want to do the dishes, or have to deal with putting the kids to bed AGAIN.

So it's not necessarily wrong if we feel the impulse to munch when we are feeling stressed. Go ahead and feed your body, but feed it something smart (with a mix of carbs, fats, and protein), and then *move on* to doing that thing that you are avoiding. Maybe then you won't be so stressed anymore! Problem solved!

Monday, January 2, 2017

How to Succeed Without Really Trying

Are you trying to meet some new goals? This one tip will make the work 5 times easier!

Listen. People who only sorta know me think my kitchen cupboards have nothing but organic, whole-grain, super foods and I that I go into convulsions at the sight of a Snickers bar.

I hate to burst your bubble but this is totally not true. I love cookie dough and baked goods are my weakness! And friends that know me *really* well know this!

But people are always apologizing to me for foods they are eating or serving or buying or whatever is in my sight.

I'm cool. It's good. I own white sugar. I love brownies. And I don't buy organic everything--GASP!

But this perception of me being a health fanatic creates a bubble of protection around me. People don't show up at my door with a plate full of cookies because they know (think) I wouldn't like it.

I'm not complaining. It really is a weakness for me, so if they don't bring it, it's all good.

If you want to have a bubble of protection around you for goals you are trying to meet, TELL PEOPLE. They will respect you. They will help you out. And when you know that other people are respectfully looking out for you and trying to help you meet your goals, well then, you're more likely to respect yourself and do your part as well.

Win-win.