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Health and Fitness information to improve your quality of life


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Aging Gracefully

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

In the age of botox, liposuction, and facelifts, is there such a thing as aging gracefully? In our youth oriented culture, many people look at aging as losing their looks, their health, and their value in society. Aging is inevitable; everyone gets older, but how we age is greatly influenced by lifestyle factors. The foods you eat, the daily decisions you make, how you take care of your body, can all have a huge impact on how you age. We will all get wrinkles and maybe some gray hairs. However, facelifts, liposuction, and botox will not change our age or help us find the fountain of youth. The fountain of youth is within you; you can age with beauty and grace by building a strong foundation. You have the ability to slow down the aging process with exercise, good nutrition and self care. So take charge of how you age by making better lifestyle choices today. Read my article on Expert Beacon:

What’s wrong with aging gracefully?

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Essentials Of The Long Run

runwithyourheart

I’ve starting running again; gradually increasing my mileage each week.  As I progress, I realize the importance of preparing properly for my run.  There are many factors that can affect your running experience such as your clothing, the weather, dehydration, poor sleep, and insufficient warm-up

  1. Carb load  and hydrate the day before your long run– commonly referred to as  Carbohydrate Loading or carbo-loading, is a strategy used by endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, to maximize the storage of glycogen (or energy) in the muscles and liver. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day with your meals and avoid excess caffeine. Urine should be a pale, straw color which is the best indicator of hydration. Dark yellow usually indicates dehydration.
  2. Get plenty of rest the day before your long run and mentally prepare yourself for a good run.  Go to bed early to ensure a good night of sleep.  Be sure to set your alarm to get up early to prepare for your run. Check the weather for your planned run time and lay out appropriate clothing and running shoes for your run. Don’t forget your Garmin watch if you keep pace and mileage during your run. When selecting clothing, consider layering with a long sleeve running shirt, arm sleeves, compression socks, hat, etc.
  3. Pack a snack bag the night before to take with you with items for during and after your run.  I normally pack a water bottle and sports beans to carry with me on my run.  I also pack a full water bottle and a banana and/or energy bar for after the run.  It’s important to have snacks and water on hand due to issues you may have with low blood sugar, or electrolyte imbalance.  Per Dr. Bennett’s article:  Hydration and Electrolytes – Impact on Athletic Performance by Paul B. Bennett, Jr. Ph.D

The body performs delicate balancing acts to keep water and electrolyte levels optimal. If blood sodium levels drop too low, the kidneys are stimulated to produce more urine. This restores balance by lowering the amount of water in the blood. If sodium levels get too high, thirst develops, stimulating the person to drink. Hormones secreted in response to thirst cause the kidneys to produce less urine and conserve water. During intense exercise and sweating these systems are taxed and the endurance athlete must sometimes anticipate where the system (body) is heading in terms of water and electrolyte status in order to avoid problems. The take home message here is: If you are thirsty – drink water! Your body is talking to you.

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  • 4.  Plan to get up at least an hour before you need to leave for your run. Drink water upon arising and eat a good breakfast.  I’ve found that organic oats with sliced bananas and a scoop of whey protein is the perfect pre-run fuel.  The carb and protein combination helps provide sustained energy for a long run.
  • 5.  Always make sure you tell someone where you are running and if possible run with a friend.  It’s always best to run with someone in case of emergencies that may occur when running.  Remember safety in numbers.  Make sure you have your cell phone fully charged and carry with you if possible.  Per article on myrunningtips.com

 

  • Run With A Buddy

    As running safety tips go, this one is not always doable, but if you can find someone to run with regularly, great! – you can look out for each other and you are statistically less likely to be attacked if you are with another runner. But finding a running partner who matches the same pace as you, same running goals and so on, can be difficult. Maybe joining a local running club could help you find someone?

Remember preparation is key for a good run and as you increase mileage it become more important.  After your run make sure you take time to stretch, hydrate, and re- fuel to help aid in recovery.  Consider wearing compression socks to help with circulation and prevent muscle soreness.  Taking a little extra time for planning your run can make it a much more enjoyable experience. Happy running!

 


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Can’t Lose Weight? Check Your Shampoo

mani

Self Care Products And Weight Loss

The doctor of the future will give no medicines, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the causes and prevention of disease. ~Thomas Edison

It’s essential to make informed choices regarding the products you purchase and consume. Many people understand the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables and eliminating fast food to lose weight. However, non-organic produce can contain high levels of toxins and pesticides. Especially the soft skinned produce such as peaches, strawberries, apples and potatoes. Therefore, eating organic fruits and vegetables helps to limit pesticide exposure that has been linked to hormone disruption and weight gain.  But what about self-care products such as toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, and lotions?

Did you know your skin is the largest organ of the body. Think about the numerous products you use everyday such as shampoo, toothpaste, soap, moisturizer and lotions. These products absorb directly into your skin and can expose you to numerous chemicals on a daily basis. Toxins can affect hormones and disrupt their normal function. Take a look at the ingredients in your makeup, hair products, toothpaste, and other self-care items you currently use. The ingredient aluminum is often found in antiperspirants and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Talc found in many beauty products has recently been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Many of these products contain chemicals that are linked to cancer, auto immune disease, obesity, and many other health issues.

Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton, author of The Detox Diet- Eliminate Chemical Calories and Enhance Your Natural Slimming System , indicates that weight gain results from an overload of chemicals and toxins we are exposed to from food, skin care, cleaning products and the environment we live in. Therefore, in addition to eating healthy, it’s equally important to consider what is in the self care products you are using on a daily basis. Consider switching to organic makeup, shampoo, soap, and skin care products to help decrease your exposure to daily toxins. Also, check your products with the Environmental Working Group database (EWG). The EWG provides you with information that helps you determine the safety regarding the ingredients and toxicity of the products you use.

Make an attempt to clean up your environment by choosing organic foods and self-care products. Clean out your bathroom cabinets and toss makeup, shampoos, and other self care products that contain chemicals and toxins. Increase your awareness of the items you buy by always checking the ingredient list before you purchase. Use the EWG link below to search for items of interest and to help you determine their toxicity level to make a more informed choice regarding your health and safety. You may find that once you begin to reduce the toxin levels in your food and self care products, that you may have increased energy levels and possibly lose a couple of pounds.

Click on the link below to check products for safety.

EWG database

Click here to learn more


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Running, Stress Relief, And Gratitude

This week has been stressful due to dealing with some family issues and my mom’s poor health.  I’ve always been a worrier and the increased stress lately has been exhausting and affected my workouts, meals, and sleep.

I’m currently training for a half marathon and was scheduled to run 7 to 8 miles for my long run this weekend.  I tried to prepare myself for my morning run by indulging in healthy carbs and drinking fluids the night before but it didn’t help matters that I tossed and turned most of the night. I woke up several times during the night and finally got up at 5 am to prepare for my run.

My pre-run meal consisted of organic oats topped with walnuts and an expresso.I still felt exhausted after the caffeine, but interestingly enough was still looking forward to my run.  I still began to doubt my ability to complete my planned mileage but was meeting friends so decided to do what I could do.

I met my running buddies who both had issues with sleep too. This seems to be fairly common in runners .  I suspect it has something to do with the anticipation of getting up before the break of dawn combined with running for the sake of “fun.” Nevertheless, we all looked at the bright side and noticed that at least there was less humidity and it was in the low 70’s

 

runwithyourheart

The first couple of miles were grueling and went by extremely slow. My legs felt like bricks. I decided to drink some water and refuel with carbs half-way through my run.

I ate half a package of sports beans I recently purchased to see if that would help.

What are sports beans?

Sport Beans   are energizing Jelly Beans that are formulated to help fuel the body during intense exercise. Clinically proven to maximize sports performance, each bean is loaded with carbs for fuel, electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance and vitamins to optimize energy release and protect cells against oxidative damage”
I hadn’t tried sports beans in a couple of years but discovered them again while buying groceries last week. I had given them a try in the past but they made me sick. I began to experiment with other snacks but never found anything special.
I researched the sports beans later and discovered it’s important to drink plenty of water with them to avoid stomach issues. I definitely didn’t do that when I tried them.
The directions on the package of sports beans said to take the entire package thirty minutes before your workout.  I decided to refuel at mile four with half the package and made sure to drink plenty of water with them.  I definitely noticed an extra boost of energy and my legs felt lighter about 15 to 20 minutes later.
I was able to increase my pace and finished with a strong final push the last mile.  I love the quote “when your legs get tired run with your heart.”  I often do that the last few miles but it makes the finish that much sweeter.
The endorphins provided a good rush and reinforced my reason for running.  Running is such a great outlet for me. It helps to clear my mind and gives me a chance to enjoy and appreciate nature .
Running at the break of dawn and  watching the sunrise always fills me with gratitude.  It truly makes me realize what a gift our health is and how lucky I am to be able to exercise.

 

I always finish my run with a better perspective and realize that no matter what’s going on in my life right now, it could be a lot worse.  I am truly blessed to have a loving family, home, food to eat, and live in the USA “HOME OF THE FREE”


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Growing Older The Cycle Of Life

maryannpolaris

 

I took a trip home to visit my ninety year old mom this past weekend.  My older sister, met me at my brother’s house where we spent the night on Friday.  Our plan was to leave our brother’s house early Saturday and go visit our mother for the weekend.

We all had a blast Friday night drinking wine and reliving our youth with stories of the past.

We got up early Saturday morning and headed to the small town in south Georgia where we grew up.   Although there was at one time a grocery store, hardware store, drug store and dry cleaner, only the post office remains open.  It brought back so many memories of walking to the small downtown area as teenagers to get the mail and buy treats with our allowances.

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It felt so strange as my sister and I walked into the post office, forty years later to see our old mail box.  My mom still uses it to this day. We laughed as we tried to remember the combination but alas too many years had passed. So many memories in this small little town I used to call home.

Here’s a pic of us present day on the left and forty years ago on the right as teenagers –  pretending to be models  🙂

 

We decided to visit the old Baptist church where we spent a lot of our childhood. We walked into the service on Sunday and was shocked to see the church still had the same olive-green carpet forty years later.  It was sad to see only 25 members in church that day; our church was thriving when we attended in our youth.  It was another sign of how many small towns wither away over time. Our small downtown area now looked almost like a ghost town.

As the preacher began his sermon I felt like I had stepped into a time machine and returned back to the 1970’s.  We were in the back pew where we always sat in our youth.  There were few people we recognized, mostly parents of classmates and friends we knew as children; now in their seventies and eighties.  At the end of the service we were welcomed with open arms and we had a blast catching up after so many years.

My sister and I quietly walked home after the service, like we had so many days in our youth, feeling emotional and nostalgic.

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First Baptist Church Main Street

As we walked in the door of my childhood home, I began to think more about my own aging and the cycle of life.

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Where did all the time go?  How could I be fifty-seven years of age and my sister sixty? It seemed only yesterday we were teenagers in this house listening to the “top forty” on the radio, discussing our dates, and fighting over clothes and boyfriends.

As we walked in the back door, I saw my sweet ninety year old mother lying on the couch.  She looked so sad and weak.  I struggled to understand why a large part of the elderly population end up alone and with such a poor quality of life. This once lively home filled with children and laughter was now quiet, dark, and somber.

It makes me contemplate the life cycle and think more about where I am in the aging process.  As I grow older, time seems to go by faster. What will my quality of life be like when I’m older?  No one wants to think about declining health and becoming dependent on others.  But If you want some control over how you’re going to live your golden years, you obviously have to develop a plan of action.  I have no desire to leave it to chance.

I found this article that compares the aging process to the Stages Of Grief Applied To Aging :

 

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Selfie with my mom

 

Where do you think you might be today?

Denial – how can I be getting old? Just yesterday I was graduating college with the world at my feet, nothing too impossible, dreams just waiting to be realized. Sure some years have passed since then but old? Not me. It just doesn’t make any sense. It cannot be – I won’t let it!

Anger – screw this! I don’t deserve to have to endure the weight of the years, the aches and pains, the challenges faced in what were once basic, simple endeavors. It’s not fair and I am mad as heck.

Bargaining – I am going to work out four days a week and eat only healthy food. I am going to get my rest, avoid stress, see my doctor on a regular basis, and give up drinking. I am willing to do all of this in the hopes that I can delay my aging. Okay? Will that work? I am committed to doing whatever it takes. Surely I can beat this thing.

Depression – there is no avoiding it, there is nothing I can do, I am doomed.

Acceptance – although I am aging with potential physical and mental challenges waiting around every corner, I am still alive. I can experience a good quality of life living within my limitations. So I will no longer be the fastest on the tennis court or able to bench press twice my body weight – I accept that. What I can do is live my life as it is to the fullest possible extent. I have learned wisdom with age and will gladly share my worldly knowledge with those seeking my advice. I appreciate the beauty of a song, can revel in the wonder of a sunset, marvel at the excitement a baby shows experiencing life’s moments for the first time, genuinely share the pain felt in the loss of a loved one, and appreciate my spouse for each and every detail, quirk, and habit that have been such a vital part of my life. I accept me for who I am. Old age – bring it on!

“Getting old is not for sissies. But we are not the first nor will we be the last to negotiate the journey. Knowing that we are in a particular stage in a progression may give us hope as surviving each elevates us to the next, eventually ending with our acceptance of life as it is.”

I feel like I’m in between the bargaining and acceptance stage.  I’m starting to accept the fact that although I’m in good shape for my age and work as a fitness and yoga instructor; I still have limitations. However, I take pride in leading a healthy lifestyle and promoting the importance of diet and exercise.  My background in health and fitness has helped me to understand the impact of lifestyle on how we age.

I admire my mother so much for the qualities she instilled in me and still has to this day.  She has always been strong and had the attitude to “never give up.”  She continues to fight for what little bit of independence she has left although her health has significantly declined.  I noticed after my dad passed away that she gradually became less active and developed a poor appetite.  Her weight loss and inactivity left her weak, leading to more health issues, additional meds, and more side effects.

As I contemplate the cycle of aging; I’ve begun to  understand the need to optimize your health as you age.  The old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” is so true.  Life should be lived to it’s fullest, enjoying the simple things, cherishing those you love, and living a healthy lifestyle.   That’s the key to moving into  the acceptance phase of the aging process.  I plan to make sure I reach the end of this life cycle with no regrets!


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BodyBalance- Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates

BodyBalance sequence

Love teaching Les Mills Body Balance classes.  They provide us with the most up to date education in the industry; as well as choreography and music.

 

 

Here is a teaser for the general class design:

Their ab tracks are amazing and one of the reasons at age 57, I keep a strong core and good abs.

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Check with your local gym and see if they offer Les Mills classes. They have something for everyone- Weight training, kickbox, cardio conditioning and more.


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I’m writing this at 4 am due to the fact that I’ve been up most of the night with a “splitting headache.”  I’ve had a headache the last day and a half that wouldn’t go away even with my occasional ibuprofen.

As a fitness professional, I hate taking medicine and use it as a last resort. I’m healthy, eat a clean diet, and get plenty of exercise.  At age 57, I take no medication and feel better than I did in my thirties.

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I developed my headache a day and a half ago and attributed it to allergies.  I was occasionally sneezing and had “teary eyes.”  However, after taking ibuprofen at bedtime and applying ice packs to my forehead, I still had no relief.  I woke up several times during the night and finally at 3:45 am decided to get up.

I have 3 fitness classes to teach this morning and it wasn’t going to be pretty; simply getting up and moving around made me feel like I  had a horrible hangover.  So how was I going to teach?  I decided I’d try to drink some water and eat something to see if that would make a difference.  I had already increased my water intake when my head started throbbing;  I know dehydration can cause headaches.  But that didn’t seem to help.  I walked downstairs to make some “bulletproof coffee” which is simply coffee with grass-fed butter and coconut oil hoping that would help.

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I have two vices coffee and peanut butter!  I mean that’s not bad….right??

 

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Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats. Here are some additional benefits of consumption: Health Benefits of Peanut Butter.  Be careful and buy a healthy brand though; you can find more info in my article: Are There Dangers Lurking In Your Peanut Butter?

However my number one vice, coffee contains antioxidants and caffeine to help boost physical performance and muscle recovery.

Health benefits of coffee

Therefore my two little vices can’t be that bad- right??  Unless it’s caffeine withdrawal.

I tend to get into trouble when I get off schedule and that’s what happened to bring about my misery.  I suddenly remembered as I walked into the kitchen at 4 am and  gazed at my coffee maker that I drank instant decaf coffee the morning this all started.  Which meant NO CAFFEINE FOR AN ENTIRE DAY AND A HALF!  BINGO- I had a headache that only caffeine would cure.  Sure enough after drinking my first cup I began to feel better.  This made me realize the need to cut down on my caffeine consumption.   The article –Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
points out:

Caffeine withdrawal is no laughing matter and can be very debilitating for those who are suddenly without caffeine.

This made me realize how truly tormenting it must be to have an addiction to something more serious such as alcohol, cigarettes, painkillers, cocaine, etc.  I mean even with my simple caffeine withdrawal headache, I was desperate to get some caffeine to see if it would make me feel better. A good but painful lesson. Now hopefully I can get more sleep and be refreshed to teach my classes. Wish me luck 🙂

ironbody