Category Archives: Exercise
Magnesium is important for more than 300 chemical reactions in the human body. The standard American diet is very low in magnesium and high in refined carbohydrates which will increase the need for this vital mineral. If you have sugar cravings, are stressed out and or have low energy there is a good chance you need more magnesium. The body can not make magnesium so it it vital to supply it everyday in adequate amounts.
1. If we do not eat enough magnesium our muscles can become over-activated causing cramps, spasms and soreness.
2. A lack of magnesium can cause fatigue limiting endurance in athletic endeavors.
3. Magnesium is synergistic with calcium and phosphorus in building bones. Magnesium is even stored on the surface of bones for times when we do not get enough in our diet.
4. Magnesium helps regulate healthy blood flow for heart health and clot prevention.
5. When you think of magnesium, think strong muscles. Magnesium and amino acids work together to create a toned physique. Evey muscle contraction needs magnesium to happen so if we eat foods that have this mineral our metabolisms will speed up.
6. Magnesium can help balance blood sugar and reduce carbohydrate cravings.
7. Magnesium helps the smooth muscles in the digestive tract work properly and promotes regularity. It is also helpful for the formation of digestive enzymes and stomach acid production needed to break down food.
8. Magnesium can really help people with headaches and migraines because it allows nerves to relax.
9. Magnesium helps to balance healthy levels of cholesterol and bring down high triglycerides, which are caused by eating too much starch and sugar.
10. Magnesium is vital for relief of painful periods, bloating and cramps.
Bonus Tip: Anxiety and depression can be positively influenced by proper levels of magnesium.
Good food sources of magnesium are:
- leafy greens
- crunchy greens
- bell peppers
- Cashews, almonds
- seeds: sunflower, flax, pumpkin
- green beans
- wild salmon, halibut, sardines
How much do you need?
Experts agree adults need about 400-800 mg a day. It is important to get as much as you can in your diet from food and then add more if you are dealing with stress, muscle soreness, fatigue, sugar cravings, headaches, PMS, or digestive problems. That means basically everyone needs some supplemental magnesium.
What kind should I take:
Most magnesium found in drug stores is a cheap form of magnesium oxide which has very low in bio-availabilty. Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon is good magnesium citrate for people with constipation but it sometimes is not enough. Many people may also need to take Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Malate which are chelated for easier assimilation. A good supplemental amount would 400-600 mg per day.
You can also make an affordable magnesium spray at home for your skin. Follow these directions for DIY magnesium spray.
A good way to get more magnesium is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet such as this one:
1. Find exercise that you like: Do you feel like your feet are nailed to the ground whenever it is time to exercise? Then your choice of activity may not be suitable for you. The key to sticking with an exercise routine is finding an activity that you look forward to. I am always looking for new workouts and ways to keep exercise interesting. Recently I was treated to a Nia class at 7th Heaven in Berkeley by my friend Sandrine Hahn from Nourishing Our Children.
A description of Nia from their website:
Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that draws from martial arts, dance and healing arts. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music in more than 45 countries. Step into your own joyful journey with Nia, and positively shape the way you feel, look, think and live.
I absolutely loved Nia because I enjoy dancing and hearing new music from around the world. I used to dance a lot when I was younger with my girlfriends so the freestyle segments throughout were a great release. The class was packed with lunges and squats but they went unnoticed because we were enjoying ourselves so much. It felt great to loosen up and get out of my own head. I think sometimes I make myself crazy over analyzing nutrition and health resulting in information overload. Being in the Nia class I was able to go into a parasympathetic state which is a therapeutic way to relieve stress and reduce inflammation (the root of all disease). Going to Nia on Sunday was better for my health than any supplement that I could have taken.
2. Look at exercise as a reward: I urge my clients not to spend hours on the treadmill as a punishment for making poor eating choices or being overweight. Instead seek joy in your exercise routine by choosing activities that make you feel rejuvenated. I allocate several hours most weeks to walking around San Francisco because I truly love breathing the ocean air and soaking up the sun (when it’s out). You can try gardening, walking your dog, or cleaning house (with non-toxic products) which can all be rewarding investments of your time in an effort to improve your health.
3. Choose exercises based on primal movement patterns: Our bodies are designed to lunge, squat, pull (row), push (push-up), gait (walking), bend (deadlift) and twist (Wood chops) according to fitness guru Paul Chek. If your movement practice does not fall in line with one of these then your chance of burnout and injury are high. Running marathons would be an example of exercise that does not align with our primal ancestral movement patterns because it is a waste of energy and too taxing on the body. Quick movements such as sprinting from danger or crouching to hunt an animal are more compatible with our design and instincts.
4. Work in not out: With all the stress of our daily lives the last thing we need is draining workout. Sometimes we need to initiate the parasympathetic nervous system with our movement by choosing yoga or slow walking. Restorative yoga is a great practice that lowers stress, high blood pressure and inflammation letting the body heal itself. When we have too much stress attempting weight loss is like swimming in cement (next to impossible).
5. Keep it short and sweet: Who has hours to spend at the gym? I have said before 20-30 minutes of smart weight training is as effective as hours of boring cardio. HITT training is also a great way stimulate fat burning and youth promoting human growth hormone release. See a video about how to do this exercise here called Peak 8.
6. Be realistic: Make sure you are choosing an activity that is compatible with your life. If your gym is far from home or work it is pretty likely that you will not make it there very often. Try purchasing some videos, pull up bar and some hand weights to make a home gym to cut down on the excuses. You may also find that you need an appointment with a trainer to help keep you on track. Check in with yourself and ask what is really going to happen on a hectic day when I am busy and stressed? It may be that you need to go back to #4 and take a rest day to work in not out.
Over Memorial Day my husband and I went on a hike to Pt. Lobos in near Carmel, CA. It was one of the most beautiful hikes that I have been on since moving to California almost 7 years ago. I was amazed at all the beautiful beaches, birds and baby seals. It was perfect spring weather that day with a nice breeze. A big thing I noticed on the hike was the difference between how I used to feel when I was on a low fat diet and how I feel now on a lower-carb paleo diet. I have not been a fan of endurance exercise ever since my last half marathon in 2010 when my health hit a major speed bump but I do love being outside in nature. California has so many wonderful parks and beaches to see that it is shame to shun this wonderful calming zen activity. Moderate hiking is beneficial for the body and mind but it is important to get the right fuel for sustained performance.
Hiking on a Low-Fat Diet:
When I used to hike on a low fat diet I was so anxious because I needed to eat every few hours. I could barely get out of the car to go on the trail because of my intense fear of hunger. I always brought a million snacks in my bag such as cliff bars or Kashi cereal in baggies.This seemed like the right kind of food to give me quick energy for hiking, but the opposite actually was true. My energy would plumet quickly and I would get shaky in the middle of the trek. I would also get very irritable if I didn’t know exactly how long the hike was or when we were stopping for lunch. It was not much fun to be with me honestly….I was hangry (a quote from one of my favorite clients)! I had major blood sugar problems which made me miserable for as long as I remember. I thought the feeling of being light headed was normal after being on a healthy diet but the bouts of hypoglycemia seemed to get worse the more I got into exercise and a low fat eating.
Pre-Hike Breakfast: 9:30 am
On this lovely holiday weekend we ate breakfast about 9:30 am which I made in the kitchen at the Residence Inn. I love this hotel because I can cook my own food and there is usually a grocery nearby. They even have stainless steel pots (not toxic teflon)! I stocked up at the grocery store early that morning so we would have food to cook breakfast and for the hike/picnic. It was not San Francisco but I was able to find some halfway decent food at this Super Walmart.
We ate breakfast at 9:30 am then we hiked all day!
And we hiked some more!
Picnic Lunch at 4pm
Going this long without eating would have never happened in my former life as a cardio/snack junkie. I would have flipped out at 12:01 pm and had a hissy fit by 1pm followed by inhalation of an artificially flavored Think Thin bar at 1:02pm. Wow, how times have changed! A little after 4 pm we found a picnic table and pulled out the lunch food from our backpacks. The funny thing was that I was still not especially hungry, it was just that my feet were tired and I was ready to stop walking. I could definitely eat but it was such a different feeling from the panic that used to come over me when I used to eat 6 small meals a day. Some feelings of hunger can be attributed to habit but most of the lagging energy is due to high glycemic foods that are spiking and subsequently dropping our blood sugar all day such as bread, cereal and snack bars. Most of us are on a highly inflammatory blood sugar roller coaster and we don’t even know it. Here is an example of a good portable paleo picnic lunch that will keep you full for hours including boiled eggs, roast beef slices, salmon, a small serving of fruit, snow peas and carrot sticks.
Health and lifespan is determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar people burn throughout their lifetime.-Dr. Ron Rosedale
Our bodies work much better on protein and fat which provide a steady energy source which we get from meats, vegetables, seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds. Take some advice from leading metabolism expert Dr. Ron Rosedale and teach your body to run on fat rather than sugar so you can be calm and relaxed on your next hike or whatever challenge comes your way!
Only doing cardio:
“I don’t like to do weights” is something I’ve heard often in my 6 years as a trainer. The irony is that most women will spend an hour on a treadmill or an elliptical rather that get 10 times the benefit by doing a smart 20 to 30 minute weight training routine. Weight training has a metabolic impact for up to 48 hours after the session unlike cardio which has not been shown in studies to have the same benefits.
“Being afraid of bulking up”:
Are you a man and have excessive testosterone in your body? I didn’t think so! If anything, women have too much estrogen, making them look like a cushy sofa, quite the opposite of an over tanned body builder. Looking like a muscle magazine cover is just a fairy tale and does not happen to 99% of women. I have only seen a few women in all my years working around gyms who looked like masculine body builders and it seemed like a personal decision (I do live in San Francisco after all). I have been lifting weights of all shapes and sizes for years and still look very feminine as do all my clients who lift weights in our sessions. Believing that weight training makes women bulky is like still thinking that smoking is healthy. Get with the times!
Being afraid of heavy weights:
If you weigh over 100 lbs you inadvertently pick up heavy weights every day by lifting yourself. Since getting into fitness I have always believed that we should at least be able to lift our our own body weight, if not an additional person, especially in a time of emergency. We should all be muscular enough to do a push-up and a pull-up (at least attempt or do an assisted pull-up).
Lifting heavy weights including your own body weight will save time and change your body composition quickly. Muscle takes up less space than fat so if you have more muscle and strength you will look slimmer. We can debate all day about which weighs more, muscle or fat, but who cares about the scale? If you build more muscle than fat you will look better in clothes (and naked) and that is the bottom line! What looks thinner a bag of marshmallows or a chicken leg? I am sure none of you ladies want to look like a bag of marshmallows, right? Muscle mass can decrease by as much as 40% as we age, so get out there and lift some heavy things today!
“I don’t think there’s any good benefit that you can get from aerobic training that you can’t get from strength training or anaerobic sprinting, and there are some key negative health effects.” -Charles Poloquin
Most people think that running a marathon is the panacea of fitness but what I see week after week is stressed out endorphin-aholics coming in on their last leg. When running your foot strikes the ground 800 to 1000 times per mile creating approx. 300,000 lbs of force on your knees, hips and back adding to your risk of injury according to NYC celebrity trainer Fred Hahn.
Pick up any running magazine and there will be several articles devoted to injury prevention and rehab. Besides structural damage running is extremely stressful for body and can create excess cortisol production which encourages belly fat to collect like a spare tire around your middle. Our bodies can not tell the difference between life stress and exercise stress because it is all the same to delicate hormonal systems.
Running is the most popular thing to do here in San Francisico besides working all hours and staying up late on the computer or Ipad. Excessive aerobic training (marathons, spinning/cycling, long distance swimming, ect.)creates chronic inflammation from free radical production which leads to elevated insulin and high cortisol (a fat storage hormone) from repeated physiological stress. If it feels like you keep gaining weight when you are eating less and running more it might me time to rethink your exercise routine (and nutrition plan..btw).
“Light weights for many reps”:
I can barely type those words without gagging! Tracy Anderson type exercises with light weights for lots of reps is a ridiculous muscle wasting way to workout. I guarantee you that those Hollywood people are starving and that is why they look so skinny, not from raising their arms up above their heads over and over. Why not just pick up something heavy 6-8 times and be done? Why would you want to spend your precious short life lifting your leg up 100 times. I don’t have time for that and I am sure you do not either. Fitness expert Charles Poliquin believes men and women should train in the same ways for a toned and strong body. I do not see too many men lifting 3 lb dumbbells…
Working out at 6 am:
I have never had a client who got enough sleep to warrant a 6 am workout. If you go to bed at 9pm, okay you can get up at 6 am to workout. But that is not what I’ve seen in my many years as a trainer. I had clients at 6 am for 5 years almost 5 days a week (I finally stopped after my thyroid gave out and I gained 20 lbs, hmmm… maybe my body was trying to tell me something?). My clients have tended to go to sleep way too late and slept like crap because they were afraid of sleeping through their alarms and our session.
Getting up at 6 am in the dark is not natural and it messes up our circadian rhythms when we violate the natural cues given by the sun. This pattern disrupts our hormones and causes more stress and which makes our body a fat storing machine. Not sleeping also stimulates hunger hormones making us crave carbs all day. I promise that sleeping until 7 am or 8 am will make you lose more weight than an early morning workout will because getting that extra hour of sleep will do more for fat burning systems than a stressful 6 am workout will.
This is the “paralysis of analysis” that keeps you stuck in your sweatpants. “I do not know what to do in the gym.” is a feeble excuse. We all know way more than we want to admit. We all know that pull-ups, push ups, lunges, rows, squats, and lunges are the cornerstone of a good workout but those things are challenging so we flail around like a dead fish pretending we do not know what do. Many women act so afraid of the “THE WEIGHT ROOM” because of all the scary people in there. This is just false fear eroding common sense. Ask any regular at the gym how to do a machine/exercise and they are going to be more than happy to show you. People like showing others how much they know.
Also it may be a good idea to hire a trainer for a few sessions to get the lay of the land. Once you overcome your weight lifting inhibitions and learn your way around a weight room you will never be intimidated again. What I learned about the gym when I was 238 lbs was that everyone was so busy worrying about their own fat butt, big thighs and poochy tummy that they were too busy to notice me. I promise no one is looking at you! If money is an issue, get some videos and do some weights in front of your TV. You could be finished by the time you think of all the reasons you can’t get started right now!
Some of the Many benefits of Strength Training:
- Prevents Osteoporosis/builds bone
- Strengthens joints without wear and tear
- Liver works more efficiently
- Increases speed and power
- Releases human growth hormone which burns body fat and keeps us young
- Increases lifespan
- Improves balance
- Increases confidence
- Natural increase in sex drive
- Clears estrogen/balances hormones
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Increases metabolic rate
Slow Burn Fitness Revolution by Fred Hahn
I have had so many clients who come to me and say that they workout for an hour a day on the treadmill or elliptical and never lose weight. I have heard from so many clients who gained weight during marathon training. Surprise, surprise most people do not realize exercise can be a major stressor on the body. The autonomic nervous system does not know the difference between a traffic ticket, a poor night of sleep, or a hard stair climber workout. When over stressed the body will divert its efforts away from digestion, fat burning, muscle growth, sexual function, reproduction, and immunity to colds and flu’s. The sympathetic nervous system, activated by stress, will take over putting all energy towards survival and escaping the perceived tiger.
The standard American diet plus a lack of sleep, a non stop to-do list with excessive cardio will make the perfect storm for hormone havoc and weight loss resistance. If you want to lose weight start by slowing down and losing self-punishment mentality. When the body is under stress it senses scarcity/famine so the last thing it will do is release its precious protective fat. You have to show your body that it is safe so it does not need to shroud it self in layers of paunch . For the body to receive and understand these messages it is important to eat a proper diet and exercise in a smart and manageable way.
1. Exercise Less:
Experts recommend doing 20 minutes of intense exercise 2-3 days a week.
That means doing some sprints outside or on the treadmill by running as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then walking for one to two minutes, and repeat. For a more detailed description see this video. This fires up your metabolism by releasing human growth hormone which burns fat and prevents aging. Would you rather look like a sprinter or a marathon runner?
|Do what a sprinter does to look like one- quick bursts of high intensity!|
2. Do body weight exercises:
You don’t have a gym membership or fancy equipment? Look into a mirror, you have a gym right in front of you. Try some push-ups, jumping jacks, pull ups, planks, squats, lunges. The possibilities are endless. You can jump rope, climb stairs or do burpees. We all get into a “paralysis of analysis” where we think we have to have perfect gym clothes or certain special machines so we just continue to sit on the couch. You do not need special stuff, just do some exercises using your own perfectly designed free machine.
3. Slow Down and Breathe:
Incorporate a yoga, stretching or meditation day at least 10 minutes per day. It is good to do some slow stretching/ mediation/deep breathing everyday. This activates your sympathetic nervous system encouraging hormone balance and weight loss. Deep breathing provides energy for your cells and will increase your mental clarity.
|Hike out in nature to reconnect and revitalize!|
Spend some time just walking slow outside getting some sun for optimal Vitamin D. When I lost 80 lbs back in 2001 I just walked around my parents neighborhood for 30 minutes a day. It is not rocket science folks, consistency is the key. It was not until many years later that I became a trainer and learned a million different ways to work out. Do not over think it, just get out and do something to get your blood pumping which will stimulate your detoxification systems aiding in weight loss. Paul Chek recommends a walking mediation where you just get out by yourself away from all the phones and people, and noise. He advises us to get out into nature and reconnect with the ground, even walking barefoot will improve life force. Try to inhale for 4 steps, hold it for one step then exhale for 4 steps. This will become more natural as you practice.
5. Focus on Large Muscle Groups:
When you are at the gym don’t spend 30 minutes doing bicep curls. Use your time wisely by focusing on your major muscles groups that recruit as much mitochondria(the energy factory of the cells) as possible. Spend your time doing squats, dead lifts, dips, and pull ups, push ups and shoulder presses, and rows because these exercise recruit small and large muscle groups at the same time. These exercises mimic movements that we actually do in real life such as hauling groceries, climbing stairs, putting away boxes in the attic, pulling weeds, picking up kids, chopping wood, or climbing a ladder. Avoid exercises like the seated adductor machine, it is not a good use of your muscles or time.
6 Crunches are so 90′s:
There has been groundbreaking research that crunches are terrible for your spinal health. Planks are much more beneficial for fast and effective core conditioning. Planks also recruit all the muscles that support the spine for avoiding injury according to a video here by expert Dr. Stuart Mcgill.
7. Do Something New:
Your body adapts very quickly to stimulus. If you are doing the same routine every time your results will be limited. If you run the same pace or course several times a week it is unlikely to produce the change you are hoping for. Try adding heavier weights or increasing functionality such as standing on one leg or a bosu ball. Take a new type of class that will use new skills. It is important to incorporate different planes of motion such as twisting or moving side to side. This will build coordination and balance which is important for staying young and sharp.
Create a Program for Success: I would spend two day doing weight training, and two days doing short sprints. Then on your other days focus on slow walking, yoga, and stretching. Work on trying to get some meditation and deep breathing in everyday. If you need help creating a program give me a call.