Tag: awareness

Befriending Stress

How do you manage the stress of modern everyday life? Many of us muddle through, coping as best we can. Sometimes we fight against it, or work to fix it. Sometimes we just ignore it or repress it, hoping to avoid possible discomfort. We have all heard throughout our lives how stress negatively affects our immune system. It is at the heart of many diseases (pun intended) and is a leading cause of death. Chronic stress and long held tension in our body can become like armor. We hope to shield ourselves against the effects of stress. This chronic tension affects our immune system, energy level, emotional well-being, posture, and our ability to concentrate.

Endocrinologist Hans Selye discovered it is not necessarily the stress that affects our health. It is the way we perceive the stress. If we change our thinking, we change our body’s response to it. Is it a threat or is it a challenge? In both, the body gears up for action. We breathe faster to get oxygen to the brain, our blood pumps faster and, we sweat to regulate our temperature. The difference between anxiety and excitement is our perception. We either constrict or adapt and grow. It can strengthen us or weaken us. Can we bring our attention and presence to what is wanting to grow within us to meet the challenge?

There are many effective ways to relieve stress; such as exercise, yoga, meditation, spiritual readings, or being in nature can be immediate tools one can use. When we take space, we discover we are much bigger than the stress in our lives.

One of my first spiritual teachers, Stephen Levine, often said, “The body is solidified mind.” During retreats with Levine, we would dialogue with our body, and it’s places of tension and actually ask the tension where it comes from, what it wants, what it’s trying to tell us?

I have found that one of the best ways for me to reduce the effects of stress is to get a professional massage. Through relaxing our body we can relax the mind. A skilled massage therapist can dismantle the long held stress and its disruptive patterns in the body. The benefits of a skilled massage are more than just the physical benefits of released tension and improved musculo-skeletal function. The nurturing effects of human touch also release oxytocin, a hormone that affects our heart physically and emotionally. (A good excuse to hug someone right now.) We experience more caring, empathy, and ability to respond. We recover faster. We become better at stress. Oxytocin is what causes us to seek connection. It helps us to not only trust ourselves more, but we seek connection and strengthens so our relationships and our network of support.

Did you know that massage is offered morning through evening daily at the Seattle Athletic Club by our highly skilled, licensed massage therapists? Call today for an appointment. It can transform your health.

Trick or Treating is for Our Kids Right?!

During the Halloween season we either have our own kids to take trick or treating or will have kids knocking at our doors dressed is scary costumes. This usually means our kids coming home with pillow cases full of candy and/or stocking up on candy to hand out to the cute little goblins. Inevitably this leads to us trying out our favorite candies because of their smaller size we do not worry too much about the calories (even if you eat 20) and their high saturated fats; there is so much around at this time of year that it is hard to avoid. Here are some Halloween candy tips to get you through our sweetest holiday without gaining any weight:

  • Don’t have the candy bowl in sight, if we can see it, our mouth usually wants to eat it.
  • Eat properly before you indulge, don’t come home from work and snack on candy because it’s there, do make a healthy snack first.
  • Purchase candies that you don’t like, that way if temptation sneaks up on us, there is no reason to indulge. These usually include gummy textured candies and sour candies.
  • Buy hard candies such as suckers, its takes more time to eat one and are usually lower in calories.
  • If you must indulge, look for old fashion candies which are usually made of cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.
  • If you must have your chocolate, take a look at the list below and choose ahead of time the one that you want to burn off the extra calories at the gym later (so choose the one with the lowest calories).

Here are the calories for some Halloween candies:

  • Butterfinger – Fun Size 1 bar= 100 calories
  • Hershey Chocolate Bar – Fun Size 1 bar=90 calories/ 5grams of fat
  • M&M’s – Fun Pack 1 bags=90 calories
  • Milky Way – 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • Almond Joy – 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • Snicker’s – Fun Size 1 bars=80 calories
  • Reese’s Cup – 1 cup=80 calories
  • Twix – Fun Size 1 bar= 80 calories
  • Milky Way – Fun Size 1 bars=75 calories
  • York Peppermint Pattie – 1 pattie=70 calories
  • Nestle’s Crunch – Fun Size 1 bars=70 calories
  • Tootsie Pop – 1 pop = 60 calories
  • SweetTarts – 1 treat size pkg. = 50 calories
  • Kit Kat – Fun Size 1 bars=50 calories
  • Twizzlers – 1 treat size pkg= 45 calories
  • Peanut M&M’s – Fun Pack 1 bags=40 calories
  • Milk Duds – 1 treat size box = 40 calories
  • Tootsie Roll – 1 small roll = 13 calories

Lung Cancer Awareness Month-Quit Smoking

November is lung cancer awareness month; even if you don’t smoke here are some reasons from the CDC to stay away from this unhealthy habit.

Breaking free from nicotine dependence is not the only reason to quit smoking. Cigarette smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. Cigarette smoke can cause serious health problems, numerous diseases, and death.

Fortunately, people who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and premature death. Although the health benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, cessation is beneficial at all ages.

Smoking cessation is associated with the following health benefits:

  • Smoking cessation lowers the risk for lung and other types of cancer.
  • Smoking cessation reduces the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Coronary heart disease risk is substantially reduced within 1 to 2 years of cessation.
  • Smoking cessation reduces respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The rate of decline in lung function is slower among persons who quit smoking.
  • Smoking cessation reduces the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Smoking cessation by women during their reproductive years reduces the risk for infertility. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

The majority of cigarette smokers quit without using evidence-based cessation treatments. However, the following treatments are proven effective for smokers who want help to quit:

  • Brief clinical interventions (i.e., when a doctor takes 10 minutes or less to deliver advice and assistance about quitting)
  • Counseling (e.g., individual, group, or telephone counseling)
  • Behavioral cessation therapies (e.g., training in problem solving)
  • Treatments with more person-to-person contact and intensity (e.g., more time with counselors)

Cessation medications found to be effective for treating tobacco dependence include the following:

  • Nicotine replacement products
    • Over-the-counter (e.g., nicotine patch, gum, lozenge)
    • Prescription (e.g., nicotine inhaler, nasal spray)
  • Prescription non-nicotine medications, such as bupropion SR (Zyban®) and varenicline tartrate (Chantix®).

The combination of medication and counseling is more effective for smoking cessation than either medication or counseling alone.

LIQUID CALORIES…What’s Your Intake?

By Alison Wilson, Wellness Director/Nutritionist
Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Over the last 37 years the total daily intake of calories from beverages increased 94%, now amounting to an additional 222 calories per day. Note that in one year, just one daily 12-ounce soda can increase your weight by 16 pounds!

Tips for reducing intake of high calorie beverages
When keeping track of calories don’t forget that everything you eat and drink counts!

When watching your calories water is always the best option. It has zero calories and will keep you hydrated!

A plain cup of coffee contains only a few calories, so consider this when drinking youdaily cup of joe:

  • 1 tablespoon of cream adds more than 50 calories
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar adds nearly 50 calories
  • 1 tablespoon of fat-free milk, on the other hand, adds only 5 calories
  • 100% fruit juices and low-fat milk are good high calorie beverages since they supply other nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium.

Cardio Equipment 101

For all of your cardio gurus who know the equipment…or think you know the equipment, here is some basic info and tips about the cardio equipment you may use, the equipment you should be using.

Cardio equipment can be broken down into two different categories; weight bearing and non-weight bearing.

Weight bearing equipment would include any piece where you are standing while moving and your joints are taking on all the force of gravity pulling on your body. This can include the treadmill, stair mill/stepper, and elliptical/arc trainer. This weight bearing cardio is beneficial because it:

  • Creates stronger bones
  • Burns the most amount of calories
  • Creates stronger joints and muscles
  • Usually a fully body exercise/movement, making everything better.

Within weight bearing equipment you have two more categories; load bearing and non-load bearing. Load bearing means exactly what it sounds like, your joints (ie. knees) take on the full force of your movement. The equipment that does that are the tread mill, and stair mills/steppers. If you have bad knees or are starting out exercising try the non-load bearing equipment such as an elliptical or arc trainer, where you will burn a lot of calories but not have achy joints afterwards, granted you will not be strengthening your joints as much either.

Non-weight bearing exercises are ones usually associated with sitting. These can include the rowers, upright/recumbent bikes, arm ergometers, and rope puller. The benefits of these machines are:

  • No/less stress on the leg joints
  • Great exercises for novice exercisers or people recovering from injuries
  • Safe and easy to use

Non-weight bearing is usually associated with non-load bearing as well, keeping everything safe and decreases the wear and tear on the joints.

Tips for utilizing cardio equipment:

  • You may have a favorite piece of equipment, but always using the same piece could potentially lead to muscle imbalances.
  • It is recommended to do your cardio AFTER your weights to decrease your chances of injury.
  • You should cool down after doing cardio to keep your blood from pooling in your extremities and creating a light headed feeling.
  • Using different machines within your cardio time (bike, elliptical, treadmill, etc) will increase every positive aspect related to doing cardio: burn more calories, strengthen joints and muscles, increases coordination, tones muscles, decreases blood pressure etc.
  • Just doing cardio should not be the staple of your exercising, like everything we need to make sure that we are stretching and strengthening our bodies as well, so try yoga or Pilates and a group exercise class or personal training; they will improve your cardio and daily activities.
  • Heart rate monitors and calories counters are never accurate, they run off of formulas for the average male person exercising, if you are not average they can be skewed either direction. Instead try to finish your cardio breathing somewhat hard, and sweating and I guarantee you are doing your body well!
  • If there is a piece of cardio equipment with moving arms…use them! You can burn up to 1/3 more calories by pushing and pulling with your arms as you do your cardio.
  • Hand rails are there in case you lose your balance…not for resting your body weight on. If you are on a stair mill or stair stepper don’t rest on the rails, it defeats the purpose of using that equipment and cuts your calorie burning down dramatically.

There are different types of cardio equipment manufactured actually for a specific reason; some are supposed to be easy on the joints, some cardio equipment is for novices to start exercising without having to know much about how to exercise, while other equipment is there to create a hard workout for that advanced exerciser. By choosing your cardio equipment effectively there should be no excuse for getting in the gym!

Keep a clear head, and a properly functioning body, by refraining from alcohol.

We are all familiar with the common effects that alcohol has on our body. Many people enjoy its sedating influence and it’s hard to deny that it does play a vital role in many of society’s traditions and practices. One effect alcohol has, which is not widely discussed, is its impact on body composition. In its purest form, supplies seven calories per gram, almost twice as many as proteins and carbohydrates, bumping up ones total energy balance whenever it is consumed. Although, unlike macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, alcohol supplies what nutritionists often refer to as empty calories: calories without nutrition. To make matters worse, it is the first fuel to be used when combined with carbohydrates, fats and proteins, postponing the fat-burning process and contributing to greater fat storage.

In general, alcohol consumption affects rational thought, emotions, mood, judgment, speech and muscle coordination. Alcohol is specifically detrimental to athletes and can inhibit recovery, protein synthesis, hydration, motivation, and nutrient intake. It interferes with many of the processes so important to success: focus, performance, recovery and rebuilding. Although alcohol is absorbed rapidly, it is metabolized very slowly and its effects may still impact performance up to 48 hours after the last drink.

As little as 2-3 standard drinks can directly:

  • Decrease strength, limiting workout intensity and muscle growth and development
  • Impair reaction time
  • Impair balance and hand/eye coordination
  • Increase fatigue
  • Interfere with body temperature regulation
  • Cause dehydration
  • Deplete aerobic capacity and negatively impact endurance for up to 48 hrs after the last drink
  • Impact cellular repair, lowers testosterone and increases estrogen
  • Impact fat oxidation, meaning fat burning stops all together. The Kreb cycle which normally involves burning fat will instead be burning the alcohol off to detoxify your body. So not only will you not be burning fat but you’ll be consuming extra calories which lead you to put on more fat
  • Impact cardiovascular system, raising blood pressure.
  • Disrupt sleep
  • Cause vitamin and mineral depletion
  • Impair digestion
  • Cause cognitive impairment and lessened inhibitions

As you can see a simple drink has far reaching consequences especially if you are attempting to improve your physique. Your performance in the gym and your recovery and nourishment from food are severely impacted. Try not to negate all of the discipline and hard work you devote to improving your health and reaching your goal. Keep a clear head, and a properly functioning body, by refraining from alcohol when looking to improve your physical fitness, or in other cases, at least be aware of the trade off you are making!

The Real Cost of Not Exercising

With the current financial epidemic our country is facing, it seems practical that we go through our bank statements and cut back on any extra spending. But, should your gym membership be one of them? Many publications have been suggesting that the gym is one luxury that you can do without. Although, canceling your membership may seem to save you money, it will cost more than you can afford in the long run and not only in terms of your bank account.

On the surface, an “at-home” routine may appear like a good idea. Before you make the leap, you need to consider the complete ramifications of your actions. After all, a gym environment has a lot to offer. The gym offers structure, and the motivation you get from working out in a group. Exercising with and around others can greatly improve your exercise adherence. Accountability comes from your trainers, friends, and peers, and they often push you during your workout as well. Your home workout will inevitably become less of a priority since you “can do it at any time”. We all know this leads to one place: procrastination. The gym also provides a great deal of equipment that will not be available to you at home. Attempting to replicate your routine outside the gym will leave you without the motivation, community, and the expertise provided by a professional exercise facility.

There is a cost associated with not exercising! Physical activity is necessary for life’s everyday functions, as well as stimulating the body’s own natural maintenance and repair system. By not exercising you increase your risk for many health issues. Research shows individuals who are physically active have substantially lower cancer rates, have fewer heart attacks, are less likely to develop diabetes, have healthier blood pressure levels, lessened risk of stroke, and overall are generally healthier. A variety of studies have shown that exercise combats low energy, stress, and depression and those who participate are more optimistic, sleep better, have stronger bones, and are less likely to be overweight or even catch a cold or the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inactive adults have considerably higher direct medical costs than active adults, and the costs associated with physical inactivity increase with age. If you take into consideration the costs of maintaining your health without the help of exercise, you are factoring in increased health insurance costs, food costs, pharmaceuticals, and visits to the doctor. The costs of exercising are unmistakable: exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body can save not only your life, but your money as well.

So, even though your gym membership may cost you every month, think about the savings your membership is actually providing you. If cutting back expenses is what you are attempting, try cutting back on your morning coffee or save by packing your lunch regularly rather than buying. Most importantly, cut back on the things that will not short-change you in the long run. You cannot put a price on your health and personal well-being.

Training Outdoors in Cold Weather

The time is here for the weather to change with winter rolling in, and the days getting darker faster. Exercisers can still take their workouts outdoors to beat the winter blues, and stay off the couch. Going outdoors and exercising with the proper gear allows you to get moving around, giving the body a chance to adjust to the changing season and get revved up for the day.

Go prepared

  1. Dress in layers- avoid cotton-use polypropylene & fleece
  2. If you have asthma wear a face mask or scarf
  3. Cover your head 30 to 40% of heat is lost through your head
  4. Use sunscreen to protect skin & lip balm – remember wind chill goes right through you
  5. Keep hands & feet dry, use wool to keep feet and hands warm

Getting Started
Now you are motivated and have your layers on, and skin protected; it’s time for the outdoors.

  1. Try to head into the wind – less likely to get chilled on way back from your exercise.
  2. Drinks fluids before, during, and after – you are sweating so watch out for dehydration.
  3. Use a headlamp not just for your own ability to see, but for others to see you most likely you will be in the dark.

Staying motivated during the winter can be fun, rewarding, and good for cabin fever. You have the knowledge, and fortitude to meet your goals, of staying active not sedentary. For many people winter outdoor exercise is great for solitude, and quiet time.

Tips to Become a Successful Multisport Athlete: #10 Visualization/Believing

The great athletes know when they have given their best, put in the time, listened to their bodies and believe that they are ready. They show up on race day to execute what they have prepared to do all season and nothing distracts them from this mission. The race becomes the “easy” part because the “hard” work has already been done. They have mentally and physically prepared themselves for their race and have no doubts. I know an athlete is ready when they can give me a detailed description of how their race will unfold to a T. They have it all lined up, have visualized it over and over and know exactly how they will feel, look and breathe each step of the way.

Train on, keep believing, follow your journey.

If you are interested in beginning training, or you are ready to take your training to the next level, contact Teresa Nelson to begin.

Tips to Become a Successful Multisport Athlete: #7 The Journey

The Journey
Athletes come into the season excited, ready to train, wanting to give it their all. It is usually the coach that is telling them to hold back. Success does not come overnight, it is a process and the athlete that recognizes this as a journey to their goals and takes on their training with patience recognizes several things along the way. There are highs and lows. Athletes that take on these challenges are the ones that find the reward at the end of the season. Too often athletes want to go, go, go and they are missing the fun and the journey along the way, before they know it they have run themselves into the ground and are done before their season even starts.

If you are interested in beginning training, or you are ready to take your training to the next level, contact Teresa Nelson to begin.