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    Tuesday
    Dec092014

    Don't surrender to holiday pounds

    ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Is it just me or does everyone hear the "Jaws" theme in his or her head when arriving at a holiday buffet? The only question is whether I'm the shark going on attack or it's some sort of mating call to those extra pounds that will no doubt settle somewhere on my body. It's probably a combination.


    For most of us, holiday weight gain is only a pound or two, according to the National Institutes of Health.

    Face it: The holidays are upon us, and some things are certain: Besides getting at least one gift that you will re-gift or was re-gifted to you, there's a good chance you'll gain some weight. Luckily for most of us that weight gain is only a pound or two, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health.

    "Pffft," you say. "A pound or two. I can lose that in a week."

    Yep, you're right. You can, but you and I won't.

    Suddenly that itty bitty weight gain has taken you from a slightly tighter fit in your favorite jeans to the point of considering, gasp, an elastic waistband. And in the language of jeans, an elastic waist is just about the same as giving up.

    But don't do that. 

    Personal trainer and certified sports nutritionist Alyte Piedra says you should put up your dukes and fight back.

    First, she suggests that you strut your stuff. "When going to a party, wear high heels. Not only will you be working on your calves, core and balance, you will automatically look thinner. Another plus...you'll be less likely to keep going up to the buffet for seconds."

    Don't Miss

    However if you do go back for seconds, Piedra suggests that you follow the "less is more" philosophy when it comes to the plates. "Instead of a regular plate, use a dessert or appetizer plate. Since it's smaller in size, you'll eat less."

    Under the "having your cake and eating it too" headline, the sports nutritionist offers some practical drinking advice. "Have a bloody Mary. Not only is it lower in calories than other mixed drinks, but you also get to count it as a serving of veggies."

    • Finally, Piedra stresses, you should dress for holiday buffet success.

    "Wear a form-fitting dress or tight skirt or pants. You will automatically want to eat less. If you do go back for seconds, you will immediately be reminded to put your fork down."

    If all else fails and you do overindulge, don't beat yourself up. Every day is a new chance to start fresh. Just tell yourself you will do better tomorrow: Eat lighter the next few days and take a few extra walks around the office, parking lot or neighborhood. That should keep the holiday damage to a minimum. E-mail to a friend 

    Monday
    Jul222013

    Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms

    Depression symptoms often improve with exercise. Here are some realistic tips to help you get started and stay motivated.

    By Mayo Clinic staff

    When you have anxiety or depression, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.

    Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on anxiety, depression and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood.

    The links between anxiety, depression and exercise aren't entirely clear — but working out can definitely help you relax and make you feel better. Exercise may also help keep anxiety and depression from coming back once you're feeling better.

    How does exercise help depression and anxiety?

    Exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include:

    • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
    • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
    • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects

    Exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits too. It can help you:

    • Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
    • Take your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
    • Get more social interaction. Exercise may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
    • Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.

    What kind of exercise is best?

    The word "exercise" may make you think of running laps around the gym. But exercise includes a wide range of activities that boost your activity level to help you feel better. Certainly running, lifting weights, playing basketball and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can gardening, washing your car, or strolling around the block and other less intense activities. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood.

    You don't have to do all your exercise at once either. Broaden how you think of exercise and find ways to fit activity into your routine. Add small amounts of physical activity throughout your day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther away from your work to fit in a short walk. Or, if you live close to your job, consider biking to work.

    Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms

    How much is enough?

    Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week can significantly improve depression symptoms. But smaller amounts of activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — can make a difference. It may take less time exercising to improve your mood when you do more-vigorous activities, such as running or bicycling.

    The mental health benefits of exercise may last only if you stick with it over the long term — another good reason to focus on finding activities you enjoy.

    How do I get started — and stay motivated?

    Starting and sticking with an exercise routine can be a challenge. Here are some steps that can help. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program to make sure it's safe for you.

    • Identify what you enjoy doing. Figure out what type of physical activities you're most likely to do, and think about when and how you'd be most likely to follow through. For instance, would you be more likely to do some gardening in the evening or go for a jog in the pre-dawn hours? Go for a bike ride or play basketball with your children after school? Do what you enjoy to help you stick with it.
    • Get your mental health provider's support. Talk to your doctor or other mental health provider for guidance and support. Discuss concerns about an exercise program and how it fits into your overall treatment plan.
    • Set reasonable goals. Your mission doesn't have to be walking for an hour five days a week. Think realistically about what you may be able to do. Tailor your plan to your own needs and abilities rather than trying to meet unrealistic guidelines that you're unlikely to meet.
    • Don't think of exercise as a chore. If exercise is just another "should" in your life that you don't think you're living up to, you'll associate it with failure. Rather, look at your exercise schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or medication — as one of the tools to help you get better.
    • Address your barriers. Figure out what's stopping you from exercising. If you feel self-conscious, for instance, you may want to exercise at home. If you stick to goals better with a partner, find a friend to work out with. If you don't have money to spend on exercise gear, do something that's virtually cost-free, such as walking. If you think about what's stopping you from exercising, you can probably find an alternative solution.
    • Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. If you skip exercise one day, that doesn't mean you can't maintain an exercise routine and may as well quit. Just try again the next day.

    Do I need to see my doctor?

    Talk to your doctor to make sure you know which activities, how much exercise and what intensity level is OK for you. Your doctor will consider any medications you take and health conditions you have. He or she may also have some good advice about getting started and staying motivated.

    If you exercise regularly but anxiety or depression symptoms still interfere with your daily living, see your doctor or other mental health provider. Exercise is a great way to ease symptoms of anxiety or depression, but it isn't a substitute for psychotherapy or medications.

    Tuesday
    Jun252013

    5 Ways to stay fit on Vacation

    It's that time of year again when everyone packs up and heads off to their favorite travel destination. While vacation is a necessity for your body and mind, don't use it as a free for all for your fitness. You've worked very hard to get in shape, so don't let your vacation ruin all your efforts. Here are five tips for you to stay in shape while on vacation

    1. Pack for fitness: Make sure you bring your tennis shoes, bathing suit, smart phone and/or workout DVD's. Plus if you have an exercise band, bring that too. It's so light and portable, you can take it anywhere.

    1. Exercise in the morning: It's too easy to get caught up in all the fun stuff you want to do on vacation, but making exercise a morning ritual will ensure that you fit it into your day.  Weather you're at the beach, the mountains or in the city, it's easy to get a great workout with some basic body exercises. Push-ups, lunges, crunches and tricep dips require no equipment, so you have no excuses not to do them. Plus, if the hotel has stairs, use the stairs to get your cardio in. 

    2. Stay active during the day: If sightseeing, walk/jog/bike instead of driving in a car or riding in a tour bus. You will still get the save view, just burn some extra calories while you're at it. And if you're at the beach, rent a kayak or go for a swim instead of just laying out in the sun.

    3. Do "Happy Hour" smart: Have a glass of water in between each drink to stay hydrated. Even though you may be tempted by that high calorie margarita, stick to light beer, wine, champagne and mixed drinks with low calorie mixers such as Martinis, Bloody Mary's and soda water/diet soda.

    4. Snack: be prepared and pack some portable snacks such as fruit and nuts. That way if hunger strikes and dinner is not for another two hours, you can have a light snack to hold you off until dinner time.

    5. Share: If you're like me and you love trying new foods on vacation (i.e. goat) order a couple of appetizers instead of an entree or share an appetizer/entree/desert with a friend. You both get to try something new without over-indulging.

    Wednesday
    May292013

    "Baby weight, baby weight... I want to lose my baby weight"

    I'm not sure about all of you, but so many of my friends are expecting a baby!  I am so excited for all my "momma-to-be" friends and their significant others! Butas you know,  as soon as those cravings start, you are already worried about losing "the baby weight". I will tell you from my own experience.... it's not that bad! I gained exactly 44 pounds with both of my babies and lost it all, so don't stress it!

     Of course you will want to eat as healthy as possible while you're pregnant so that you gain the recommended 20-35 pounds (yes, I was over the recommended amount, I'm such a rebel, lol). Being a personal trainer and having to watch what I ate all the time, I felt like it was time to let loose and so I did! With that said, try to eat as healthy as possibly for your health and for your baby's health and so you don't have as much to lose in the end. Also, it's very important to stay active throughout your pregnancy, so as long as your doctor ok's it, walk, lift light weights and swim!

    We are going to fast forward a few months....you just had your baby and you're not sure what that is staring back at you in the mirror. Is that really your body?... Really? I know I felt like my grandma would looked better in a bathing suit at that point. Your body looks nothing like it used to, but no worries, it's all normal. I'll spare you the details, but your body will take a few months to go back to normal on the inside. However, unless you are a freak of nature, you will have to watch what you eat and exercise to get back to pre-baby shape.

    Once you get the ok from the doctor to get out and walk, start with short 10-15 min walks and build up 5 minutes every few days. It's a great way for you to take the baby out for a stroll, get some fresh air and relax a bit. After about 6 weeks, most women are able to start exercising again. You might think you can do what you used to be able to do, but don't! Take it easy the first few weeks and build up over time. Don't let celebrities influence your self image and how you should look after having a baby.

    You will want to focus on your core of course and get those muscles back, but don't neglect the rest of your body as you will need the strength to lift/carry/lug all around that new "super-duper-heavy-baby-carrier".

    Here is a sample at home workout that you can do while the baby naps or someone helps you play with the baby so you can get a few minutes to exercise. You will want to repeat each exercise in a circuit 3 times (time permitting). And complete the workout 3 days a week, with at least one day of rest in between. On the rest days, get out for a walk with the baby and get your cardio in. BTW, if you don't know what any of the exercises are feel free to email me with any questions or "google it"

    1) Plank: 30 sec 

    • start with just 30 sec and build up by 5 sec intervals every time you workout, until you can hold for a full minute

    2) Body Weight Squats: 15 reps

    3) Modified push-ups: 10 reps

    • start with 10 and increase by one push-up every time you workout. Once you get to 25, go ahead and move up to regular push-ups. Start with 8-10 and work your way up to 15

    4) Side Plank: Hold for 10 sec on each side

    •  work up to 30 sec on each side by adding 5 sec with each workout

    5) Tricep dips: 10

    • start with your knees bent, feet close to your body. As you get stronger, bring your feet further out  to create a longer lever and make the exercise more challenging.   Work up to 3 sets of 15 with your legs straight

    6) Stairs: 3 times 

    • This will not only work your whole lower body, but will also get your heart rate up so you are burning that "baby fat". Step on every other stair like you're doing a lunge on the way up and push off through your heel, then just walk back down and repeat. Add a set of stairs each time you work out until you are able to do 10 sets.

    Don't forget to stretch. Your joints will still be more limber than normal, so get some good stretches in, but don't over do it. Once again, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at alyte@happyhrfitness.com. If you don't alreay follow me on social media, please follow me on twitter @happyhrfitness and like my fb page: https://www.facebook.com/HappyHrFitness. I will be doing another blog about what to eat post baby and during pregnancy, so keep your eyes open for that. Andof course, please share, share, share my blog and social media sites so I can feed my babies, haha!

     

    Wednesday
    May222013

    Beach for Memorial Day Weekend? It's not too late!

    As a personal trainer and nutritionist, people always ask me "What are some quick fixes before a big event or a beach trip?" Even though with proper diet and training noticeable results typically take 4-6 weeks, here are 10 things you can do if you only have a week or less. 

    1) Cut out alcohol....no if's and's or butt's. It's extra calories that you don't need.

    2) Exercise: get in a daily 30 min total body circuit workout which includes lots of body weight exercises. Typically you want a day of rest in between the workouts, but you're in a time crunch, so no worries, you're not going to "overdo it". Here is a workout you can do at home without any equipment. Repeat each exercise for 1 min with little/no rest in between until you reach 30 min. Don't forget a 5 min cool down and stretch.

    -Lunges

    -Push-ups (modified are ok if you can't do regular push-ups)

    -Jumping Jacks

    -Bicycles (abs)

    -Squats

    -Tricep dips

    -High knees

    -Plank

    -Mountain Climbers

    3) Try to sneak in exercise whenever you can. Take your kids to the park to play, go for a walk with a friend, sneak in some stairs as you're doing housework or  even "the horizontal mambo" will count... you're welcome, guys: )

    4) Cut back on carbohydrates: Get your carbohydrates in early in the day, pre and post workout only. No carbs past 3 pm. Stick to 1/2 c plain oatmeal or 1 slice Ezekiel bread

    5) Center your meals around protein, veggies and healthy fats! (and no, potatoes do not count as a vegetable in this instance)

    6) Reduce your sugar to only 10g a day. This means read every label and count every gram of sugar you put in your body. It will be hard, but its only for a week or less, so suck it up so you don't have to suck it in!

    7) Cut back on sodium: It might make food taste better, but it makes your body look worse....it's not worth it! Don't eat anything canned and don't salt your food.

    8) Pig out! on green leafy veggies that is....kale, spinach, spring mix, collards.... are all great. In addition eat some cucumbers and asparagus which naturally help flush your body of extra fluid.

    9) Drink a ton of water! Well atleast a gallon.... but drink as much as you can. It helps flush out fat and any extra water your body might be holding on to. If you're not a water drinker, like myself, flavor it with mint, lemon/lime juice, cucumber slices, strawberrries or watermelon. 

    10) Rock that body! There is nothing you can eat or drink to give you confidence, that has to come from within. So go out there and show off your best features and feel great about yourself. A great personality and confidence will always outshine good looks!