Friday, February 25, 2011

Trustworthy wellness website

I've been teaching an exercise and activity class at our local library (click here for details) and what I've noticed is that a lot of people are confused about what they need to do to get fit.

There's so much information floating around that's it's easy to get confused. You may read an article talking about one subject, then see something else that seems to contradict it. There's so much misinformation and misleading statements, diets, fitness programs, that anyone can get confused!

Here are a few links that you can trust to educate you properly about fitness, wellness & health:

1. ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine). They set the standards, so you know when you see their name behind something or read an article from them, you can trust it!

2. CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). You might think this is unrelated, but just like the ACSM, their word is final and you can trust it. Read all about healthy living and prevention of disease.

3. My Everything you need to learn about nutrition. This is an interactive site, you can even input your stats to see how many calories you need/day. Plus, you can track your daily food log and it will tell you if you're getting the correct amount of each food group. Pretty cool!

4. American Dietetic Association (aka Tons of great info about healthy eating - Find a registered dietitian, get education about healthy eating, recipes, etc. Remember, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist but you must have the degree and have passed a rigorous test of knowledge to become a RD.

Check out these websites and let us know if they helped!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A marathon decision

I've been training for my first marathon, in June, since the end of December. It's been a goal of mine for about 1 1/2 years, and I've had to put it off due to my chronic illness.

Since I have adrenal fatigue, I must be very careful and conservative with my training. My body doesn't respond to exercise like the normal person's body does.

For one thing, I don't have as much energy as most people. My doctors have told me that 60% of my body's energy goes to deal with my illness, and that a lot of people with my condition are considered disabled!

So I have to make every training session really count. Rest days are as important as training days. Maybe more.

Things were going really, really well at first. I felt great after my long runs, even though all things considered, they weren't very long (6-10 miles)!

Then, something changed inside. I noticed my chronic fatigue (a symptom of adrenal fatigue) was 'flaring' up. I wasn't recovering like I should be.

But, I continued a couple more weeks, because I had a training rest week coming up. Once I got to my rest week, I used it to fully recover and I felt great.

Last week I started up my training runs again. I did one 8 mile long run and one 10 mile long run.

After much consideration, I've decided to be smart with my health and push my marathon back. I'm still going to do one, but not the one in June.

I'm shooting for the Malibu marathon in November. This gives me many more months to very slowly climb my mileage up and rest when needed. I'm hoping by taking it very slowly, my body will adjust much better.

It was a tough decision, but I feel comfortable with it. Here's why. I asked myself: "Why do I exercise? To stay healthy or to push and push for a goal that only matters to my ego?"

Reaching a goal is great - unless the cost is my health. No, I want to cross the finish line in better health than when I started my training. I want to be a good role model for health, not just for reaching a goal. And that's exactly what I'm going to do!

Have you ever had to make a hard decision like I did? Please share it with everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Body composition

I work with a lot of people who want to loose weight. What they actually mean by this, is that they want to loose body fat and gain a little muscle so they have proper body composition.

Proper body composition is one of the four components of fitness. It's also the component that you can see the most obviously - and it takes more than exercise to achieve!

Exercise alone is only going to get you so far. A healthy diet, eating the right amount of calories AND exercising, is the only way to get it.

To find out what your actual body composition is - what your body is composed of (fat free vs. fat) - you need to get tested from a professional. There are several ways to get tested, one of the simplest is via the skin caliper test.

If you don't have access or the money for a test, there are a couple of things you can do. It won't tell you what your actual body composition is, but it will tell you if you're at risk for obesity related diseases. It will give you an idea of if you need to lose weight. Here are two tests you can easily do with just a measuring tape:

1. Waist to hip ratio
Take measurements of your waist & hips.
Divide the waist circumference by the hip circumference.

If your ratio is greater than .95/men and .85/women, you may at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure & certain cancers.

2. Waist circumference
Simply take your waist measurements.

If you're measurement is greater than 40in/men or 35in/women, you are at risk.

If you find that your measurements are high, don't panic! Just get up, get moving and start eating a little healthier!

Retake your measurements after about 3 months. If you've been diligent, you should see noticeable improvement!

Monday, February 7, 2011

3 Tips for beginner marathoners

If you're new to marathon training, I have three tips that I've found to be really helpful in my own training.

1. Hydrate during your long runs. Not just before and after, during. I park my car with sports drinks inside it, where I'll pass by it once or twice in the middle of my run.

2. Incorporate training rest weeks. Not only are they important for a mental break, they also help your body recover and come back stronger than ever.

3. Ice baths are wonderful! Well, not wonderful, but sure do help. Take an ice bath at least after your long runs. I wrote a blog all about it, click here to read.

One more thing - don't forget that this is supposed to be fun! Marathon training is a big commitment, but it's also a fun challenge. Don't take it too seriously!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Muscular fitness

One of the main components of fitness is muscular fitness (go here to read all about components of fitness).

Muscular fitness includes muscular strength, which is defined as the amount of force a muscle can produce in a single effort. It also includes muscular endurance, the ability of a muscle to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance over a period of time.

Both muscular strength and endurance are important in every day life. We need them both to do daily activities without injury, to increase our functional ability, increase motor performance and many other reasons.

So, how do we gain muscular strength and endurance? Resistance training! Before you click off of this blog, this does not mean we have to spend all of our free time at the gym. You don't even need to go to a gym. You can use your own body weight!

Simple exercises like pushups, squats, crunches and plank (see picture), are just a few exercises that can be performed without any equipment.

Some guidelines to remember:
Add resistance training for all major muscles, at least twice per week
Perform 8-15 repetitions per exercise
Perform 1-3 sets per exercise
The last 2-3 repetitions should feel very difficult (without breaking form)

One last thing about muscular fitness. The more muscle you have, the more calories you're going to burn, even at rest! And, who doesn't like that?!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fatigue and marathon training

This week is my rest week in my marathon training. It's a much needed break.

I've noticed over the past few weeks that I've been feeling fatigued. It's nothing unusual with adrenal fatigue, but it's no fun when training for a marathon. I know I'm not over training, and I'm being careful with my diet and nutrition. So, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not yet up to logging in the mileage...

So, I'm enjoying this week to the fullest. I'm taking full advantage of cross training, but also adding a bit more rest. After that, I'll give it one more round of training and building mileage/rest week (3 weeks build, 1 rest week) and if I'm still fatigued, I may have to put marathon training on hold for a while. It stinks, but my health isn't worth the sacrifice just to do a marathon.