“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”     –Henry David Thoreau

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There are soooo many positive benefits from engaging with nature! Study after study reveal that people who are more connected to nature feel less anxious. And, you don’t even have to move to reap benefits. Being  still OR being active outside  are both reprieves from everyday life. Some psychologists believe the busyness of our lives can overwhelm our attention spans while nature does not. Some experts suggest that we have an innate pull to the outdoors and are wired to seek connections to nature and other living things. All I cimg_4997an say is being outside soothes my soul and I absolutely love exploring trails, riding hills, sitting on a rock, or putting my toes in the sand while listening to the sounds of waves and seagulls. Quite simply, nature’s song and beauty nourishes our souls in a multitude of ways.

  
For my Cliff Notes readers, here’s short list of benefits from being outside:

  • Reduced anxiety & muscle tension
  • Renewed energy levels
  • Increased immunity & decreased stress hormones
  • Decreased blood pressure and lower heart rate
  • Mood elevation
  • Your vitamin D levels rise.

See, sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D.  Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Also, you’ll get more exercise since being outside should mean less time in front of the TV/computer and more time spent walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.


There’s no doubt about it. Nature is God’s “battery charger” for our minds, bodies and souls. I mentioned the benefit of taking short meditative breaks throughout the day in an earlier blog. Make it a priority to step outside, feel the sun on your face (vitamin D), listen for birds, walk through trees—or simply sit. You will serve your body and soul a big plate of restoration.

So my friends, what are you waiting for?

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“There is pleasure in the pathless woods. There is rapture on the lonely shore. There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music in its roar. I love not man the less, but Nature more.”     –Lord Byron

 

 

Until next time, choose fit, be happy, and get outside!

~Lisa

More reading:

5 Health Benefits of Playing Outside

Why Getting Outside is Good for You

The Science Behind Exercising Outdoors

Spending Time in Nature

Health Benefits of Working Out Outside

Not Convinced & Need to Read More?

 

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By now, you’ve seen and heard plenty about the impact of your social environment and how you can catch obesity and other unhealthy habits from your friends and fam.  The half full cup view on this is true, too. You can “catch” good health and fitness, as well.  Turns out you can reap benefits whether your social network is in close physical proximity or virtual. Cool, huh? 
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Do you remember the professors several years back who spread the word about the quality of your social sphere on health?  If your network has bad habits (eating, drinking, little sleep, excessive TV/gaming, overweight or smoking)…chances are you have those same habits.
If you have a second, check the studies out. Compelling stuff.  
 
 
So… unhealthy behavior is quite communicable. According to the studies, your chance of becoming obese increases:

 

  • 57 % when one of your friends is obese
  • 40 % chance if it’s one of your siblings, and
  • 37 % if it’s your spouse.  

But hey, before you start looking around…remember the flip side. Because health and behavior are linked so closely, that means that any health state connected to habitual behaviors is communicable. (Big sigh, right?!)  Even more good news: social connections can also improve your health. Think about how effective support groups are, right?  People who hang around others who think positively also tend to think positively. You can lose weight, gain energy, and get fit together just as easily.

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Those closest to us have the most impact, but even a distant contact can have a nice impact. 
 
Now, before you go ditching those less than perfect around you, remember having friends (al Beit even the unhealthy ones) will still add happiness and longevity to your life.  In that case, why don’t YOU have a positive impact on them?  Your fitness and health decisions will have the ripple effect through your whole social circle, eventually coming right back to you in the form of increased social support.  I have to smile when my college son teases me and buys gluten free products because information I’ve shared over the years sunk in. (Yay) When he was taking nutrition, he said it was a breeze because he’d picked up so much information through osmosis. I <heart> that.
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Next time you’re digging deep for a reason to go to the gym, or  or pack a lunch instead of hitting the drive-thru, this may be a perspective to consider. Even if you’re not hugely motivated to make a healthy choice for yourself, you may be a little more willing to do it for the sake of the people you care about — or even for those you don’t know. According to the studies, your actions are influencing 1000 people. That’s huge. Take charge of your health and improve the world one healthy habit at a time.
 
To my fit friends who inspire or motivate me to eat clean, run, lift, train harder, or get to bed sooner: THANK you. You guys are the BOMB!
 
Choose fit. Laugh often, be contagious.
 
~Lisa
 

 

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A “Blue Mind” is defined as a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment….

We are so bombarded with sensory stimuli that our poor brains need a break…but unfortunately, we often don’t allow enough time from our hectic lives to recharge adequately.  This is where the great healing power of being around water comes in. It’s not that we shut down when we are near water, but we do get a break where less information comes in. We relax, and a sense of calm, unity, happiness and peace eases in. There’s a reason why rivers have often been considered sacred places and water often symbolizes a new beginning or salvation. We even have a universal attraction to the color blue (my personal favorite is the a blend between blue and green, the color of the ocean around the Florida Keys).

“We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken,” Nichols writes in Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, published in last July. “We have a ‘blue mind’ — and it’s perfectly tailored to make us happy in all sorts of ways that go way beyond relaxing in the surf, listening to the murmur of a stream, or floating quietly in a pool.” I know that I can easily find perspective when I stand on the beach with the wind in my hair and watch the waves roll in. Regardless of what is going on in my life; while on the beach, I am at peace.

If you are one of the lucky ones who lives by water, working out next to water multiples the benefits exponentially. But don’t worry if you aren’t close to water. You can still listen to sounds of waves, close your eyes, and experience the benefits a “blue mind” provides. (Even the shower or a gurgling fountain works!)

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul”. ~ Wyland

I’m ready to get “my toes in the water and my butt in the sand, not a worry in the world, and a cold beer (glass of wine) in my hand”…or is it the other way around?!

Won’t you join me?

Live fit, be happy. And smile.

 ~Lisa

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Last week you got the Cliff Notes to the “5 Keys to Continued Success” which provided the formula below:

Learn It. Lose it. Love it. Live it. And, laugh.

Today I am going to expound a bit (only a bit, because I know you appreciate Cliff Notes, as well!) on the second piece of the formula: Lose it. Bad habits, that is. By letting go of the them, you’ll free up energy, mental space and even money that could be better spent on a happier, healthier you. It’s not quite summer, so how about a little bad-habit spring cleaning?

Here are a couple bad habits you might consider “sweeping” away:

• A beer or glass of wine (every night)…while you might fall asleep relaxed initially, once your body starts metabolizing the alcohol there’s a rebound effect, HELLO 2 am wakeup and tired you the next day.

• 24/7 connectivity…ah, this one is a pet peeve of mine. I keep my phone on silent and look at it only certain times a day and leave it in my purse at night…much to the chagrin of my fiancé! Try to turn off all media (blue screens) at least an hour before bed because that blue light from your phone/tablet/TV reduces sleep and stimulates your brain to stay awake by suppressing melatonin, a hormone needed for drowsiness.

• Procrastination—doing it has negative impacts on your heart. A non-procrastinator feels more in control and therefore, less stressed. Like Nike, “Just do it!”

• Drinking diet sodas…OK, so I KNOW the fake sugars cause blood sugar swings and other neurological problems…and most of them are terribly acidic, but I DO enjoy a coke zero from Sonic on occasion. But, the reality is that folks who drink the diet stuff end up eating more sugar because these drinks cause blood sugar spikes and drops like the real stuff making you want more.

• Still pissed off at somebody for something? Try forgiveness, not for them, but for you. It’ll do wonders.

• Popping pills too often. Doesn’t matter if it’s OTC, pain relievers used frequently significantly increase the chance of liver damage.

• Not expecting good things. Expect good outcomes vs. bad, look for silver linings. This change in attitude comes with a slew of healthy benefits.

• Sleep walking through workouts…sorry Charley…you aren’t getting benefits or making change without getting your heart rate up. use your time effectively with interval training and get red in the face.

• Not getting enough sleep…this is a blog or two or three by itself! Study after study shows a host of benefits with more sleep and a lot of mental and physical problems when sleep is lacking.

Find your broom and sweep those ol’ habits away!

What have you got to gain?

Be fit, live strong, laugh often.

~Lisa

You are dedicated, you have a plan, you are working it (most of the time), yet the numbers on the scale don’t seem to budge. What’s the deal? There are many reasons why this might be happening, but for today, we will review the most common reasons.

  1. Overestimating calories burned or underestimating calories eaten. There are many schools of thought on this one, but studies show those who keep a food and workout log have the most success. However, sometimes use a little common sense. The averages often used in estimated caloric burn don’t apply to everyone. I know I burn about 2/3 of whatever the exercise piece of equipment tells me (even if I’ve entered my weight). Also, if I’m not really legit with entering everything I eat (or measuring the salad dressing), it’s soooo easy to add calories in. Or maybe not log them at all! (If you are a parent or the dish cleaner, how often have you polished off the remaining bites? This same thing can be applied to the chef! It happens.)
  2. Fad diet yo-yo. Juicing has a place…I like to detox where I get back to clean eating pre/post a ONE day juice fast, but my fast is really a liver detox. Usually when one does a juice cleanse, the “weight” lost is not the desired FAT loss, but simply water. Or, (horror) muscle loss due to severe caloric restriction. Super low calorie juicing or detox teas really just clean you out, but they are not healthy sustainable life habits. Movie stars who juice before the big day will put it right back on after the event. Skip the too-good-to-be-true programs and opt for living FIT. Every day.
  3. The routine rut…otherwise known as “same ol’, same ol”. We are creatures of habit, aren’t we? We work our favorite body parts, we run our favorite paths, we take our preferred classes…we lift the same body parts. Unfortunately, the more we repeat a movement, the better we get at it. The more efficient we become (which lends itself well to racing and energy utilization) the fewer calories we burn. Mix it up. Try new things. Challenge yourself. Just don’t stay in the routine rut.
  4. Stress. Ah, that darn stress. A certain amount of it is ok, but if the scale isn’t moving, take a moment to inhale deeply and consider how you can de-stress your life. Honestly, it will do your body much good. Because with stress, comes cortisol. And cortisol. Well, that’s an entirely separate blog on its own! (see more about Cortisol’s effect on weight loss/gain here.)
  5. Not eating enough. I’ll call this the Marcia syndrome. My friend Marcia is a committed healthy eater. But, she is also a working mom with two kids and she’s a woman who works out. If she is on the run, she skips eating vs eating something junky. That’s good she skipped junk, but then uh-oh. When she takes in too few calories for what she needs, her body will hold back from dropping energy stores (aka fat).

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Just remember consistency is key. Keep on keeping on. That’s what Marcia does. She’s a lean, mean racing machine. Check her out:

 

‘Til next time, live fit. Laugh often. What have you got to gain?

Lisa

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -W. Churchill

Isn’t it funny how we expect life’s journey to be a linear line…except we know it’s really full of detours, closed doors, or rain? S..tuff happens. It’s easy to fall off the wagon and get off course. It happens to the best of us. That’s life. And that’s okay. It’s not failure; not yet. The only real mistake we make is to stop trying. “If you fall down seven times, stand up eight.” In other words, you find out who you truly are and what you are capable of in cloudy weather. We build character through perseverance– which is, quite simply, the art of trying again…and again. Mister “C” summed it up nicely, didn’t he?

I’ve been sucker punched many a time in life. You too, right? Things happened that knocked me to my knees. Then, the obstacles seemed so…BIG. “We are moving (four states away at age 16).” “Your dad died this morning.” “6-7% of individuals with your type of AML are alive after 10 years.” Infidelity and divorce in the midst of chemo. Seeking energy, normalcy and laughter with 3 &5 year olds when chemo ravages your body. In the midst of those times, they seemed awful. Looking back, each of those challenges provided wonderful silver linings, laughter, and love. Would I want to repeat them? Um, no. Was I fearless? Heck no. I fell. I feared. I skinned my knees. Yet Winston would be proud—I became a master stumbler, repeatedly.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

If a door closes, expect an open window. Or consider, perhaps, another door. In other words, the key to opening a door is to keep on knocking– excitedly, expectantly. Sometimes a solution appears when we relax our idea of what life “should” be and view detours not as “bad” but as opportunities to knock on a different door. We might be surprised to discover that a setback is a wonderful opportunity–one we would have missed had we given up. The key is to keep moving and keep looking for ways to reach your goal. “A body at motion stays in motion” in physics and in life…for every step takes us somewhere.

Winston Churchill says to stumble from failure to failure. A lot. The next time life throws a curve ball, take a deep breath, dust off your skinned knees and get back up. But don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop going. Keep on knocking and trust your abilities. Try again.

Consider every day “race” day. And compete. For you. For your health. For your family. For your community.

Simply, compete. And remember, life isn’t about avoiding the storms, but learning how to dance (or stumble) in the rain.

(My blog initially posted by  Compete Every Day…a great online business providing inspirational athletic wear and fashion attire. Be sure to check them out and sign up for their emails!)

Be fit. Live Strong. Laugh often. And, smile.

Lisa

 

 

 

I like mantras and affirmations. Let’s face it. Life happens. And there are times we all go through that just straight up “suck egg” (a polite term one of my friend’s uses). Ironically, it’s in these lousy times that we learn the most about ourselves and receive some of life’s greatest rewards. During tough times, it can be hard to think about anything other than what’s going on. Whether you are going through a tough time or want more focus on a positive result, mantras can provide powerful changes in thought, word and deed!

How does the mind/body connection work? Well, in a nutshell, attitude matters. You get what you expect. Most important, however, is the fact that happiness is a choice. It doesn’t mean that “suck egg” won’t happen. It does mean, however, that you have complete control on how you handle what life throws your way.

I’ve had multiple “suck egg” situations in life. One of the biggest was the “c” experience. Would I have opted for cancer for the life learnings I got out of it? Nooooo, thank you! To help get through it, however, I used multiple mantras. One I spoke repeatedly was, “I choose LIFE” and “My body is strong, healthy, and free and clear of disease.” I said these out loud every morning, driving my car, at quite times, before bed, while getting chemo, while puking my guts up, or while feeding my little ones when I was nauseous. Spoken words are powerful. And, energy flows where focus goes.

Mantras are not new. They are a cornerstone in meditation, prayer, goal achievement, competition, and in life in general. Mentally, they work as affirmations of one’s own higher consciousness and divinity, which can work to replace limiting beliefs. On a physical level, the repetition of mantras has multiple effects creating energy patterns and vibrations.

On a spiritual level, the repetition of sacred mantras helps us to remember and strengthen their connection to the divine within. It soothes the mind and body, allowing for a greater expression of spirit. Personally, I like the repetition of a mantra to tame and disarm my ego…which is often the very thing placing limits on my desires.compete every

Mantras are not new. They have been used for thousands of years because they are extremely powerful and effective. Ready to give it a try?

Peruse the internet. Find the statements that resonate with you. Write them down. Post them in visible places. Speak your mantras out loud. Find sites that motivate you. One of my favorites is Compete Every Day. This company produces limited run Athletic and fashion wear with bold, powerful mantras. They have wonderful newsletters and Facebook quotes. Plus, you should see this week’s “Athlete of the Week”!

Go ahead, give it a try. What have you got to gain?

In 2010, a survey by Celie et al (in the European Review of Aging and Physical Activity) involving a test group size of 200,000 participants in a 15km (9-ish miles) road race revealed very interesting results. Being an analyst by day, I love this kind of research. Here’s what they found:

  • For each year over 40, runners in this study slowed by only 0.2% (or about one second per mile, per year).
  • The gap between men and women shrinks significantly so that by 60, women have made up five of the ~15% difference in performance that separates the genders at age 40.
  • While both genders slow at roughly a linear rate from 40 to 60, men’s performance decreases more sharply afterwards, while women continue on a roughly linear track.

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The study also separated runners into “trained” and “untrained” categories. It turns out that trained runners were almost 16% faster than untrained ones.

Another study was done in 2003 by Stephen Bird on highly competitive male runners. After a battery of tests, they found that 10k race performance decreased at a rate of about 0.5% per year (just under 2 seconds, per mile, per year). More interesting were the results on the other tests involving physiological markers that are assumed to decrease with age (maximum heart rate, muscular strength, and oxygen uptake, etc.). These markers decreased significantly slower in the trained runners than they did in the general population. What’s more, while oxygen uptake and heart rate decreased with age, running economy—a measure of how efficient you are—hardly decreases at all!

Hello! As an “over 40” athlete, I think it’s high time we tossed out “old think”. Many declines in health will NOT occur in a body that works out and is fed with real, hormone & chemically free foods. Lifting weights, working out, running… is NOT age discriminatory. Rather, it is just the opposite. That’s some great news—and backed by science!

So, what are you waiting for? A wonderful mentor of mine likes to ask the question, “What have you got to gain?”

 

Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN, Pn1 recently shared a blog with the above title. If you are like me, you appreciate Cliff notes, so here they are, short ‘n sweet:

  1. You’re probably not a high school athlete anymore.

Be sensible, ‘nuff said.

  1. Your body will change when you challenge it, not when you punish it.

One of my favorite quotes is, “You can’t expect 100% results with 50% of the effort.” Training is like life, you get out of it what you put into it.

  1. Exercise is just a stimulus. Nutrition and sleep are what actually change your body.

Train to change your body, then fuel and recover (sleep) properly to allow your body and hormones to do their thing.

  1. Sometimes, doing an exercise wrong is worse than not doing it at all.

I’ve been certified for over 20 years, but will be first to admit I don’t know it all and I love to learn new ways to train and/or a better way. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Keep learning & sharpen the saw.

  1. The sauna and steam room can help you recover faster.

Heat speeds recovery, lowers oxidation, increases growth hormone, and is detoxifying. Plus, it makes your body inhospitable to unwelcomed bacteria and viruses.

  1. Nutrition and supplementation can lessen the muscle soreness.

This subject alone could be a year’s worth of blogs. Let food be they medicine and medicine be thy food. If you do supplement, consider curcumin and/or coconut oil.

  1. You don’t have to be a runner, but you should view the process of getting fit as a marathon, and not a sprint.

You didn’t get where you are overnight, so don’t expect overnight results. One bad meal won’t make you fat—on the other hand, one week of workouts & healthier eating won’t make you fit.

Until next time, live strong. Be fit. Laugh often. And smile.

What have you got to gain?

 

Interested in reading more about the benefits of Curcumin or Coconut Oil?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/turmeric-health-have-a-happy-new-year_b_798328.html

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-Curcumin%20(TURMERIC).aspx?activeIngredientId=662&activeIngredientName=Curcumin%20(TURMERIC)

http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/charles-mattocks/benefits-coconut-oil

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/01/coconut-oil-benefits_n_3194782.html

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/health_benefits_of_coconut_coconut_oil_coconut_milk_coconut_water_coconut_flour?page=2

 

 

successIf you are about to embark on a new year and a healthier new you, hats off to you.  Sometimes change can be scary. It can be challenging. It can upset the “status quo” and even impact relationships. Even so, change is where real growth occurs, right? So, set your goals and visualize sweet success.

What’s the best way to ensure you achieve your goals?

  • Write them down
  • Identify clear action steps (those are the tactical, small action steps that get you to the bigger goals)
  • Make your goals public (share them, shout them, post them, make a vision board)
  • Enlist help from family and friends (get those closest to you involved & surround yourself with like-minded individuals)

And if you fall off the wagon somehow, give yourself a break. You’re human. Focus on what you’ve done right and good give yourself credit. Be cool with where you are. Then take the next small step. And keep going.

Remember, every little bit helps & consistency is key. I’m rooting for you!

Live strong. Be fit. Laugh often. And smile.