Running & Nutrition while pregnant and week 29 pic!

This entire pregnancy I have felt so different then my first.  Like many women I let it all go when I first got pregnant with Lily (my now 2 1/2 year old).  I ate what I want, cut back on exercise drastically and gained weight FAST!  I went into this second pregnancy with a completely different mindset, I wanted to stay active, run, eat super clean and see how different I felt.  I must say that this time around has been a breeze, my energy has been up, no swelling, and I have not got a new stretch mark.

One of the big concerns of mine was running, I was scared of pushing myself too hard during my first pregnancy so I cut it out all together, (it was also perfect timing because I just finished a 1/2 Ironman and was kind of burnt out).   With this pregnancy I was determined to run through most of the 40 weeks.  Not to mention part of my job is the Run Club Coordinator for Life Time Fitness, we meet every Tuesday night at 5:30pm for a social fun run, anywhere between 2-6 miles.  I love the people, the other run coaches and I was determined to hold onto my role as long as possible.

My doctor is great and simply advised me to listen to my body and he basically said I will know when to stop. His two rules were….

Don’t get too out of breath and don’t overheat.

The first trimester I felt a little blah while running, once I warmed up I was able to get in the zone but it was a struggle.  I have to admit that week 1-12 I was a little paranoid about heart rate, so if I saw it was creeping up on my monitor I would walk just to be safe.  One of my running friends laughed at me, he said out of all people you should be in tune with your body enough to just know when to stop, he was right I was driving myself crazy worried about the darn heart rate number.  I ditched the heart rate monitor and went by feeling (I don’t recommend this for everyone, especially if you like anaerobic workouts, I’m kind of a long and slow girl). This was a great decision, and made me more in tune with my body.

The second trimester was the best, I felt energetic, still could hang with the pack and was able to get the endorphin rush on my runs.  I made sure that I had good shoes, the last thing you want to do is run with worn out shoes as you are gaining weight, HELLO KNEE AND HIP OVER USE INJURY! Some women like to wear a supportive belt or harness as the bump grows but I did not really find it too helpful, maternity workout leggings or Capri’s work for me.

Now I am officially into the third trimester and last week during Tuesday night social run my body finally told me to slow down, I ran about 100 yards at a time with walking in between.  I guess the extra 17 pounds that I have gained is starting to add a little pressure to my ligaments, the soreness the next day is probably the worst, but again the doctor said it was normal.  At this point, week 29 I am officially a walker (with a little running).  As mentioned in my previous posts, I have started to focus on a goal of 10,000 steps per day rather then an intense training session.  Both the Motoactv and Fitbit are great activity monitors that measure steps and activity accurately and hold you accountable to your goal.

Nutrition has also been a key part of my success this time around, I must admit that I am NOT perfect, but following the 80/20 rule (80% clean 20% treats) well.  Some pregnancy nutrition tips that I found helpful this time around….

Take your supplements.  I take Thorne Prenatal Vitamins1000-2000mg Mercry tested Omega 3 fish oil, 5000 IU vitamin D-3 every other day, and 1-2 multi-probiotics daily.  These are all safe for pregnancy and help keep your immune system strong while growing that little undle of joy!

At least 6 servings of vegetables and some fruit per day.  Every morning I start out with a shake comprised of grass fed protein powder, unsweet almond or coconut milk, 2 handfuls of spinach leaves, handful of carrots, mixed organic berries and 1-2 Tbs. ground flax.  I like to knock out the servings early!  BUT, every meal should have some color (fruit and/or vegetable) to it.

LOVE FAT, healthy sources of course.  You and that baby need fat to promote optimal brain development and to meet calorie needs.  Incorporate nuts, seeds, avocado, healthy oils, nut butters, etc. into most of your meals and snacks.  Loading up on processed carbs may make the nausea go away but it is not doing anything nutritionally for you or baby.

This sweatshirt reminds me of the good old days of running cross country and track at UNF!

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Happy and Healthy Pregnancy!

Could your salad be making you gain weight?

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Dana Yarn, RDLD

Contrary to popular belief a low calorie salad could have a negative impact on your weight loss or healthy lifestyle efforts.  When I first sit down with a client who struggles with their weight we go over what a typical day of eating is like for them.  A few of my clients who are self proclaimed yo-yo dieters say, “I eat really healthy, I have a salad with fat free dressing on it for lunch, “  which means leaves and fat free dressing.  That option is not really healthy it’s just low calorie, which in turn makes them hungry later on during the day.  Another common trait of these clients is they cannot get enough food in the evening hours, meaning they are reaching for anything in site when they get home from work.  This makes sense because they are making up for the calories they missed out on during the day and their body craves them.

Don’t get my message twisted; salads are one of the best meals you could have, IF you make them as a super food salad.  I personally try to eat a super food salad 3-4 times per week.  Yes, it is higher in calories, but it is also higher in nutrients which will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.  Thus you will have more willpower later in the day with portion control due to the fact that you had a healthy and satisfying salad, rather than plain leaves and chemically laden fat free dressing.

 

Here is how to go about making your salad…

  • ALWAYS HAVE PROTEIN! This is very important; protein keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time and is essential to completing the nutrition to make a balanced meal.  Protein sources include all natural chicken, fish or meat or hard boiled eggs or beans.
  • Make your dressing or put your store bought dressing in the bowl first, this way you save on calories because you can toss the salad rather than putting too much dressing on the top and consuming unwanted calories.  If you are buying dressing from the store go for an oil/vinegar based dressing, creamy dressings are not as heart healthy.  Shop for the dressings that need to be refrigerated, this means there are less chemicals in them and they will be overall more healthy for your metabolism.
  • To make dressing start with your favorite flavor vinegar such as berry, apple cider, balsamic, etc. and add oil such as olive oil, sesame, grapeseed, etc. while you are stirring to create the emulsified dressing.
  • Start with dark leafy greens (pale green lettuce does not have nearly as many antioxidants as a dark leaf lettuce like spinach, Spring mix, or kale lettuce does)
  • Vegetables of your choice – peppers, onions, carrots, etc. The more the better, this is where you can go a little crazy.
  • Make sure you add a heart healthy fat such as 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts, almonds, or sliced avocado
  • If you add cheese only add 1 oz or less, sharp cheeses are best, such as feta or parmesan.
  • For a sweet kick and even more added color add some chopped fruit such as pear, apples, berries, etc.
  • Lastly make sure you top the salad off with some protein such as 2 oz of grilled chicken breast, or lean steak.  This will make the meal more balanced and ensure you will be satisfied after you have eaten the salad.
  • Do skip anything fried, like onions, tortilla chips, or even fried chicken strips.

Enjoy these exciting salads while you load up on nutrients!

-Dana

Flourless Zucchini Bread

Have you ever gone out and bought healthy grocery items and not known what to do with them?  Today I had a bunch of random items in the house (a zucchini, coconut flour, apple butter, etc.) so I looked up a few recipes that I could use those ingredients.  The ( flourless zucchini bread click here )was awesome!  I made a few modifications to the recipe linked above, instead of unsweet applesauce I used apple butter from the farmer’s market and I skipped 2 eggs because I did not have them (honest).  Everything else was in the pantry, freezer or fridge and the bread turned out fantastic!  I am waiting on Ben Jr. to get home from track practice to give me the thumbs up or thumbs down, it does not get more honest then a 17 year old who is famished!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!  Ben and I will be painting Lily’s room pink and turning it into a ”big girl room” and then starting the new baby nursery next weekend.  Family projects make the weekend productive :-)

 

Zuccini Bread -

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At home workout during nap time.

One of the best investments we have made since we had Lily was investing in a home treadmill.  I was lucky to get seriously “hooked up” with a great treadmill from a friend from Life Time!

I use it at least three times per week while Lily takes her nap and Ben and Ben Jr. jump on it a few times per week too, especially now that it is getting cold outside.  There is nothing healthy about sitting on your butt watching TV, so I walk/run and watch.  Multi-tasking my guilty pleasures with a workout makes me very happy.  It is important to take time out for yourself to mentally escape.  I have the ABC app on my ipad so I can catch up on Revenge and Modern Family while getting my steps in and keeping the baby weight gain under control.

My new fitness focus since being pregnant is overall daily activity, I strive for 10,000+ steps per day on my activity monitor (Motoactive or Fitbit are both great devices).  I have come to the conclusion that lifting for intense reps and heavy weight or running/swimming or cycling for speed is out of the question when 28 weeks pregnant, so counting steps is a great way to be accountable to a daily goal.  Even after pregnancy I will keep up my “daily steps” it simply makes me less lazy and I like it!  I challenge you to monitor your steps every day, I was shocked at how much I did not move, I was at about 3000-4000 per day, just because we are busy does not mean that we are moving.  I have made some serious lifestyle changes, like the obvious parking far away, walking the dog more, and on my lunch break I will walk around the building or the mall across the street rather then catching up on e-mails or sitting in a restaurant somewhere.

Hopefully you can find some great ways to multi-task while you workout, I am even considering a treadmill desk (just not too sure about my balance while walking and typing).  Share your multi-task that you like to do while exercising.

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Guilt free milk and cookies…no flour, no dairy, and no refined sugar.

One of my most favorite days of the week is Friday.  I have arranged to be off and home on Fridays with Lily which gives us some quality one on one time together.  I also get a chance to play around in the kitchen with new recipes, usually it’s some sort of high protein pancake for breakfast but today it was flour less and dairy free cookies.  I give credit to www.unrefinedkitchen.com.  I love this web-site every recipe that I have tried comes out tasting fantastic and all of the recipes are gluten, grain and refined sugar free.

Today I made Almond butter dark chocolate chip cookies, this was a guilt free way to enjoy some milk and cookies with Lily!  Along with the cookies being dairy free her and I only drink unsweet rice or coconut milk.  We avoid cows milk because it is a high allergy food and tends to have an inflammatory response on the digestive tract.  By avoiding dairy and other high allergy foods (soy, peanuts, wheat, etc.) it can help ward off asthma, skin conditions, and GI distress in both children and adults.  Also keep in mind that any inflammation in the body (even if the symptoms are mild) is a metabolic disruptor.  It could cause unwanted weight can or contribute to auto-immune disorders of chronic.  I have been a lucky mom with minimal sickness in my 2 1/2 year old.  I contribute that to giving Lily daily multi-probiotics, high quality children’s multi-vitamins and limiting the high allergy foods listed above.

 

I hope you try these cookies out, and enjoy them as much as we do.

*NOTE I skipped the coconut and did chopped pecans instead, my family is not a huge coconut fan.DSCF2247

Nutrition strategies for neurological disorders (focusing on Autism).

There once was a time when I viewed “nutrition” as simply eating for weight management and there was not much more to it.  After going through school and continuing education training we dug deeper into the functional side of medicine.  The realization came that nutrition/food is medicine and every disease can be managed and/or prevented with proper nourishment, including neurological disorders.

Being a mother of 2 1/2 year old (and one on the way) I think about the brain development of my toddler and “bun in the oven” almost every day.  The rise of autism and ADHD is on the rise or it is just being diagnosed more due to advances in technology and assessment testing.  Research shows that neurological disorders can be managed with proper nutrition and lifestyle strategies.  I have had so many families come to me with success stories resulting from making some nutrition modifications. 

Enjoy this article I wrote Nutrition and Autism management. 

Nutrition and Autism

Dana Yarn, RDLD

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When people think about food they often think about how it taste, looks, smells and feels in their mouth.  Typically we do not consider what the food actually does to our bodies.  When you have a child with autism or a related disorder it is important to realize that food is something more then just the pleasure of eating.  What your child consumes will have a major impact on their brain and body function.  It is your role as a parent to know exactly how food effects and impacts your child’s body.

Nutritional Considerations in relation to Autism

 

Brain FunctionThe calories, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids found in food are a necessity to your child’s brain development.  If your child is lacking in any of the above nutrients their neurotransmitter production will be effected and visual and cognitive processing will be compromised.  If your child is consuming too much sugar, artificial sweeteners or additives the brain function will be negatively affected and behavior a learning problems may develop.

Detoxification.  Exposure to neurotoxins can do damage to your child’s brain and nervous system which in turn can cause them to have a lower IQ, learning disabilities, compulsive behavior, aggression, motor dysfunction, developmental delays to name a few.  By consuming nutrients like zinc, magnesium, selenium, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E and choline help the body naturally get rid of harmful toxins like mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PCB’s, pesticides and solvents.

Digestive Health.  The amino acid Glutamine requires a constant supply of vitamins and minerals to maintain the health of the digestive tract.  If your child is deficient in any nutrients it can impact the cellular growth of he gastrointestinal tract.  This hinders the body from absorbing nutrients form foods which negatively impact the brain and the body.  Sources of glutamine include: cabbage, beets, beef, chicken, fish, beans and dairy products.

Immune Function.  Poor nutrition puts your child at risk for developing allergies, acute and chronic illnesses, respiratory infections, and ear infections.  Our immune system relies on vitamin C, vitamin A, Vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, selenium, zinc, and flavonoids to function at its best level.  By ensuring your child consumes these nutrients they will not further complicate their disorder.

Anemia.  Dietary deficiencies in iron, vitamin B6, copper, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin E can cause anemia.  Anemia can lead to irritability, headaches, and loss of appetite, lethargy, hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and poor performance in school.

The first step to your child’s healthy diet

There are advanced nutrition plans out there for Autism and a common mistake for a lot of families is they start out with these complicated therapies rather then starting with the basics.  Think of nutrition as a building block, each step builds upon the other, start with identifying and resolving the basic nutrition issues and then build upon those.

Eliminate Food Synthetic Food Additives

Food has changed so much in the past 40 years.  Today, children typically consume highly processed, low nutrient, chemically preserved meals and snacks.  Studies correlate the increase in chemicals, excess sugar, trans fat, preservatives in our food to the increase of developmental and neurological disorders in our children.  The first step is to transition your child into a diet that consist of whole foods, and eliminate artificial ingredients.

There are 24 different types of synthetic food additives found in the foods we eat.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to approve the additive and deem it “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).  This means it is proven to be safe for the general population and does not promote any health hazards such as cancer.  Unfortunately in all of the mainstream foods we consume additives and chemicals in every bite and no one truly knows the effects that these chemicals have on our health.  More importantly the medical community does not know the short and long term effects that these chemicals have on a child’s developing brain and nervous system.  The particular concerns for Autism are artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.

Limit Exposure to Pesticides

The best way to limit your child’s exposure to pesticides is to buy organic or all natural foods whenever possible.  These foods are grown, handled and processed without the use of artificial pesticides, artificial fertilizers, sewage sludge, artificial additives, hormones or antibiotics.  They do not contain genetically modified ingredients.  Animal research has shown pesticides can affect a developing fetus and normal brain development, resulting in hyperactivity, and learning and developmental disabilities.  You cannot completely control the amount of pesticides your child is exposed to; you are capable of lowering their exposure by purchasing certified organic or all natural foods whenever possible.

 

Limit Refined Sugar

Sucrose, also known as white sugar or table sugar has been the sugar of choice to sweeten food and drinks.  In the past decade, high fructose corn syrup has begun to replace sucrose in many processed foods in the United States. High fructose corn syrup is much sweeter than sugar and some health professionals relate it’s consumption to increasing your risk for developing type 2 diabetes and excess weight gain.

 In most children consuming excess sugar is related to behavioral problems.  It is a simple carbohydrate that is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and blood sugar rises followed by a rapid fall in blood sugar.  Children are sensitive to this response and their bodies overact with a biochemical response that can lead to negative behavioral symptoms. Symptoms include nervousness, fatigue, confusion, anxiety, depression, and irritability.  In conclusion sugar sets into motion a biochemical response in a child’s body that can lead to behavioral problems.

Eliminate Trans Fat

 

Trans fat is a product of hydrogenation, which is the process where hydrogen is added to a liquid vegetable oil creating a more dense fat.  Partially hydrogenated fats (trans fat) have replaced natural solid fats and natural liquid oils in our foods because it’s cheaper to use then the real thing and they prolong the shelf life and flavor stability of foods.

There are several reasons we should stay away from trans fats.  They raise our bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease our good cholesterol (HDL) levels therefore increasing our risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer,  0 grams are recommended daily.   For a child with autism there is a negative impact on the liver, specifically affecting the enzyme delta 6 desaturase, which is a critical process of converting omega 3 and 6 fatty acids found in foods into active forms.  Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are critical for brain development, brain function, and vision processing.  Research has shown that children with autism, or related disorders already have low levels of delta 6 desaturase, when they consume trans fat, it makes their situations worse.

Increase Omega-3 fatty acids

 

Essential fatty acids (EFA) are necessary fats that our bodies can’t make and must be obtained through diet.  There are 2 groups of EFA’s, omega-3 and omega-6.  The American diet provides too many omega-6 and too little omega-3.  The deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in our diet has been linked to autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Research shows incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into children’s diets improve poor learning and behavioral problems.  Omega 3- fatty acids can be found in fish, flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Supplements can also be incorporated, seek advice from your doctor regarding proper dosage.

Service Foods- Delivering Healthy Food and Expertise for an Energized Life.

Service Foods is the largest company in America delivering all natural chemically pure foods to your family.  They specialize in providing families with all natural, top quality food items – fully aged USDA Top Choice and prime grain fed grass finished beef,  super select pork; grade A poultry; sashimi grade seafood; plus all natural and organic vegetables- all 100% guaranteed.  Nutrition therapy has a direct impact on monitoring autism.  Focus on eliminating processed foods and chemicals from your child’s diet and you will notice a difference in behavior and quality of life.

Cauliflower pizza? I say YEY!

January is a REALLY busy time for nutrition coaches and trainers in the fitness industry, I have former and new clients who are coming out of the “wood work” asking for a meal plan, workout program and lifestyle change.  This is a great time of year for health professionals to make a HUGE impact on lives.  BUT, (there is always a but) I am helping everyone so much that my personal nutrition and exercise program can be put on the back burner if I’m not careful.  After a booked solid work week of short workouts for myself and haphazard meals at home, I made the commitment to that I would plan out the upcoming week with a solid dinner menu and arm my family with healthy breakfast, lunch and snack options.  Those creepy leftover Christmas cookies are almost gone!

Putting a creative twist on cooking can enable you to enjoy some of your favorite (cheat) foods without cheating or suffering the physical consequences of weight gain, GI distress, high blood sugars or mental fogginess from processed foods.  Take pizza for instance, there are several options for healthy pizza, with a little creativity you can easily make it low carb and vegetable based by using the right cooking techniques and foods.

I stumbled across a great new web-site, www.unrefinedkitchen.com and I made this cauliflower pizzas today for lunch.  My husband is my best food critic, he will be honest and let me know when I flop or when I succeed.  This one was a thumbs up, the only change he sad is it was a little salty, so I would cut back or eliminate the salt in the recipe, and try to get as much water out of the cauliflower crust as possible, by blotting with paper towels in the prep phase.  We topped ours with Boars head peperoni, chicken sausage and mozzarella cheese.

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I wish I had more pictures but we (Ben, Lily and I) ate so fast that I only have this one straight out of the oven.  I encourage you to get creative with your favorite foods so you can eat healthy and enjoy it!

In Health,

Dana

Boredom with nutrition and exercise is the worst and can actually do more harm long term.

When I initially became interested in nutrition and fitness it was through running and triathlon.  Then in college I became fascinated with physique competition, including bodybuilding, fitness and figure competitions. I competed years ago and it was my first and last show to date.

I approached the entire competition with a militant attitude (which is common among some competitors).  I remember endless hours of cardio, plain and boring low carb and fat food, and my social life went down the drain.  It was my junior year in college and the show was in the middle of July (prime time for some serious parties and typical college lifestyle).  A typical weekend night we would ride our beach cruisers to the local beach bars and clubs, life was great.  During my competition prep I can remember everyone else drinking mojitos and chowing down on bar food on the 4th of July, but not me, I was 2 weeks out from my show!  I had a protein shake in my bike basket and my muscles were so flat from carb depleting that I did not have the energy to ride my bike past 7pm.  I bailed on my friends early and listened to fireworks in bed.

Looking back I made some serious sacrifices to my overall quality of life.  Sure I looked great in a bikini, but the aftermath of the competition was devastating, I gained over 20 pounds in a couple of weeks, my kidneys hurt from depleting water, I was bloated every time I ate and if I would have known back then what adrenal fatigue was I am sure I was in it.

There is a right way to compete in physique competitions and my above experience was not the right way.  If this is something that you are interested in doing hire a trainer and nutrition coach who have references and the diet and exercise routine should not be daunting.  Save your thyroid and adrenal glands from metabolic damage and have a health professional guide you every step of the way.

The moral of that story is to be successful at weight management and have a optimal functioning metabolism we need to have a balanced lifestyle.  Enjoying the company of family and friends, eating healthy food that still taste good, and staying active daily without an obsessive mindset is the key to achieving long term results.

If you are bored with your current fitness routine it is time to make some changes. 

Get outside, life is too short to be stuck on a stationary cardio machine every day, breathe fresh air and absorb your surroundings.  Sure you may not be able to do this every day but try to do it more then you already do.

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My mom, Lily and I hiking in North Carolina.  Lily was almost 1 year old in this picture and carrying the extra 15-20 pounds was better then a weighted vest!

Try something new, go to a dance class, rent a kayak (in a few months, I do realize it’s January, haha), go for a hike in park that has some beautiful scenery, take a new group fitness class at your health club, or hire a trainer, join a boot camp or ask a friend to be your workout buddy.

Don’t go for quantity, go for quality.  If you strive to be “moving” daily, ie. parking far away, walking your dog, getting up and out from behind your desk, playing active games with your kids, taking the stairs vs. the elevator, etc. you really only need to exercise with intention for 30-45 minutes per day.  Buy a pedometer or a activity monitor “ftibit” and strive to walk 10,000 steps per day in addition to some weight training and yoga/Pilates.  The pedometers or activity monitors will make you will think twice about leaving laundry on your stairs, multiple trips will help you get those steps in.

If you are bored with your nutrition, it is time to shake it up!

Look up different recipes that are NOT low fat or laced with harmful sugar substitute chemicals.  Some great resources for recipes that I personally use daily include:

http://www.unrefinedkitchen.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/JustEatingRealFood or www.healthylivinghowto.com

Stay up on the latest.  Read healthy blogs, books, etc.  Every night I read myself to sleep with a nutrition book (reading beats the heck out of reality TV and it does not suppress natural melatonin production making it hard to fall asleep).  If you understand the reason why you should avoid certain foods and limit grains and sugars you will most likely stick to it more.  A few of my favorite books include:

Wheat Belly, Ultrametabolism, Cracking the Metabolic Code, Primal Diet, etc.

If cooking is overwhelming to you and your schedule consider investing in a personal chef.  I know you probably are thinking that personal chef services are only for the extremely wealthy, but the price of chef services is actually quite reasonable, especially if you compare it to the amount of money you spend eating out.  A chef will take care of the shopping, menu planning and preparation.  I have hired chef’s for clients and it has made a world of difference in their overall health.  Just make sure you get a Chef who specializes in grain, gluten, and modified to low sugar/carbohydrate preparation, interview several and ask for references.  Be firm with your lifestyle and how you want things to be prepared, limit grains, sugars, and processed additives and flours.

Make it a year full of exciting exercise and nutrition!

In Health,

Dana

 

A far from perfect workout beats NO workout any day.

Today, one of the things on the top of my “to do” list was workout, NO MATTER WHAT!  We got back from church I made one of my super shakes in the Ninja, fixed the family their lunches, put my workout clothes on and jumped on the treadmill.  I was on a mission to get my natural serotonin boost (from exercise) as soon as possible.  I can always tell when my body needs to zone out and get my “sweat on.” 

Ben and Ben Jr. had to run some “guy” errands so it was just Lily and I at home.  She has her little coloring table in the same room as my treadmill and she usually stays busy for most of a 30 minute workout.  It’s actually funny, she gets kind of pumped up when I am running and starts dancing and singing like a crazy woman, laughing at her is a great way to make the time go by fairly quickly.  Then we do some yoga poses together after I am done, this is her favorite part!

Today she was not even close to low maintenance during my workout, she wanted a snack, she had to potty, the dog needed to go out, my sweat session was interrupted pretty much every 5 minutes, but I broke a good sweat and got my steps, mileage, minutes, calories burned, or whatever you like to measure while doing cardio and that is the important part, right?

Life is not perfect and non-fitness commitments like family and work can be a great excuse to skip the exercise, BUT the health benefits are far too important to give into the excuses.

Check out this article I co-wrote reviewing the benefits of the different types of exercise and the overall effects on your metabolism. 

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Types of exercise and the impact on overall health…

Dr. Keith Kantor N.D ,PhD and Dana Yarn, RDLD

Exercise plays a key role in your overall health.  There are numerous ways to exercise and each facet has its own benefits.  Simply put, there are three main categories of exercise including cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility-focused exercise.

Cardiovascular exercise includes running, walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, etc. This type of activity improves cardiovascular/heart health, while building endurance and burning fat and calories, helping to manage weight.

Here are some things to consider when starting a cardiovascular program:

  • Use a heart rate monitor: This is a great accountability tool that will help you monitor your progress and exertion levels. To take it a step further, consider getting a metabolic assessment profile done to more accurately understand how your body burns fat, and how your heart is processing oxygen while exercising.
  • Mix it up: Avoid doing the same type of cardiovascular activity all of the time at the same level.  Walk or jog one day at a comfortable pace, the next day do some interval training will hills or speed.  Try swimming or rowing to engage different muscles, and challenge your cardiovascular system in a different way.
  • Think quality verses quantity:  Quality workouts are more effective then long workouts.  After about 40 minutes our bodies start to release cortisol (a stress hormone) during exercise. If you exercise for long periods of time without proper nutrition or recovery, you could actually promote weight gain due to excessive inflammation from increased cortisol production.

Strength or resistance training has endless benefits for your metabolism, disease management and prevention, and anti-aging.  It is unfortunate that strength training often has negative stigmas associated with it.  People often avoid it because they do not want to get “bulky,” or think they need to lose a certain amount of weight through cardiovascular exercise before they can start lifting weights.  This could not be further from the truth. We will dive into several metabolic and health benefits of strength training to disprove these negative connotations.

  • Manage and prevent type 2 diabetes: Strength training won’t make up for a diet full of poor quality, high-carb processed food, but it can certainly help your body process insulin more effectively. A new study revealed those who had more muscle mass displayed a reduced chance of having prediabetes. [1] Likewise, when blood-sugar control is lost through both inactivity, and poor nutrition, it’s more difficult for the body to burn fat —making it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it.
  • Type 2 diabetes is most often diagnosed in those who are in middle and later adulthood. It’s also common for people this age to be less active and have less muscle mass than in their younger years. Making weight training a regular part of one’s lifestyle can help reduce age-related muscle loss.
  • Reduced rate of, or reverse, aging of muscle tissue: For those who are sedentary, it’s common to lose tone in the areas where we have the most muscle, and gain size in the areas where we best store fat.  Fortunately, we do have some control over that. Weight training sets up a physiological process where your body will make new, younger acting (and looking) muscle tissue.[2] Its never too late to start.
  • Increased metabolism: Unfortunately, most people tend to go up and down with weight loss and gain, especially if they achieve initial weight loss through diet and little exercise. Resistance training has been shown to play an important role in avoiding weight regain. After a weight training session, our body burns calories at a higher metabolic rate for 24-48 hours, thus increasing metabolism and the amount of calories the body burns while resting.  Dieting alone, by cutting calories, only decreases the metabolism over a long period of time, making it harder for those wanting to maintain weight loss or even lose more.
  • Maintain testosterone levels with aging: Conventional medicine has accepted the long-held belief that testosterone levels fall as we age, especially in men. Research presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting suggests the fall in testosterone levels may be a result of a loss of muscle tissue as a result of no regular strength training [3]. Reduction in testosterone levels may also be a result of stress and other conditions, but training with weights is an easy way to help reduce the loss of testosterone and overall stress with aging.

 

Flexibility focused training, is commonly known as yoga, Pilates, meditation, and physical therapy (or even “prehab” or “rehab” by athletes.)  This is probably the most overlooked exercise component in those who are looking to lose weight, simply because it does not burn a lot of calories.  The stress relief, adrenal health benefits, and anti- inflammatory benefits this type of exercise has on the body are endless, and will promote long term health and weight loss.

Stress stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and puts our bodies into overdrive for a long period of time, releasing excess stress hormones.  These days, we tend to over-commit and over- schedule our lives, which can lead to over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. This results in inflammation, high blood pressure, and muscle pain, which increases weight gain and symptoms of depression.

To offset the negative health and weight effects of always being in “overdrive,” we may have to consciously stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, by centering the mind and body. The key to re-balancing your system is not to over-exert yourself, but to gently trigger a relaxation response through an exercise format like yoga or Pilates.

Meditation has been shown to improve sleep, mood, pain relief, and anxiety. A four-month study of the effects of meditation found positive correlations with most common hormones that influence weight gain, specifically: Cortisol, testosterone, growth hormone, and thyroid stimulating hormone. [4]

Exercise is not only excellent for weight loss, looking fit, and overall health but numerous studies have shown it reduces the chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease. Also, recent clinical studies have shown that regular exercise increases life span an average of five years over those who do not exercise regularly.

References:

  1. The Endocrine Society. Increased muscle mass may lower risk of pre-diabetes: Study shows building muscle can lower person’s risk of insulin resistance. ScienceDaily, 28 Jul. 2011. Web. 7 Aug. 2011.
  2. Melov S, Tarnopolsky MA, Beckman K, Felkey K, Hubbard A. Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle. PLoS ONE 2007;2(5):e465. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000465
  3. The Endocrince Society. Older age does not cause testosterone levels to decline in healthy men. EurekAlert! 7 Jun 2011. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/tes-oad060711.php
  4. MacLean, CR, et al “Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on adaptive mechanisms: changes in hormone levels and responses to stress after 4 months of practice.” Pyshoneuroendocrinology 1997 May; 22(4):277-95