More Benefits of Exercise

I believe that a regular exercise program can improve one’s mental health.  I found the following article in The Huffington Post that examines some mental healthy benefits of exercise.  More evidence as to why you should get moving!

1. Reduce Stress
Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Win-win!

2. Boost Happy Chemicals
Slogging through a few miles on the ‘mill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re not exactly the gym rat type — getting a happy buzz from working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost overall mood.

3. Improve Self-Confidence
Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth.

4. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
For an extra boost of self-love, take that workout outside. Exercising in the great outdoors can increase self-esteem even more. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe or just taking a jog in the park.AOL Ad

5. Prevent Cognitive Decline
It’s unpleasant, but it’s true — as we get older, our brains get a little… hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

6. Alleviate Anxiety
Quick Q&A: Which is better at relieving anxiety — a warm bubble bath or a 20-minute jog? You might be surprised at the answer. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (intervals, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity. And we thought intervals were just a good way to burn calories!

7. Boost Brainpower
Those buff lab rats might be smarter than we think. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Ready to apply for a Nobel Prize? Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning. Smarty (spandex) pants, indeed.

8. Sharpen Memory
Get ready to win big at Go Fish. Regular physical activity boosts memory and ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. For this reason, research has linked children’s brain development with level of physical fitness (take that, recess haters!). But exercise-based brainpower isn’t just for kids. Even if it’s not as fun as a game of Red Rover, working out can boost memory among grown-ups, too. A study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults.

9. Help Control Addiction
The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and dependent on the substances that produce it, like drugs or alcohol (and more rarely, food and sex). On the bright side, exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term). Working out when on the wagon has other benefits, too. Alcohol abuse disrupts many body processes, including circadian rhythms. As a result, alcoholics find they can’t fall asleep (or stay asleep) without drinking. Exercise can help reboot the body clock, helping people hit the hay at the right time.

10. Increase Relaxation
Ever hit the hay after a long run or weight session at the gym? For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.

11. Get More Done
Feeling uninspired in the cubicle? The solution might be just a short walk or jog away. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that midday is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian rhythms.

12. Tap Into Creativity
Most people end a tough workout with a hot shower, but maybe we should be breaking out the colored pencils instead. A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature (see benefit #4). Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.

13. Inspire Others
Whether it’s a pick-up game of soccer, a group class at the gym, or just a run with a friend, exercise rarely happens in a bubble. And that’s good news for all of us. Studies show that most people perform better on aerobic tests when paired up with a workout buddy. Pin it to inspiration or good old-fashioned competition, nobody wants to let the other person down. In fact, being part of a team is so powerful that it can actually raise athletes’ tolerances for pain. Even fitness beginners can inspire each other to push harder during a sweat session, so find a workout buddy and get moving!

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

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A Quick, Easy and Delicious Recipe!

I love to collect healthy recipes but don’t often have the time or inclination to make the dishes!  I was intrigued when I came across this noodle dish and made it earlier this week for dinner.  It was super easy and delicious so I thought I’d share it.

I made some modifications (chopped the veggies instead of julienned to save time) used whole wheat spaghetti  instead of rice noodles (because that’s what I had in the cupboard), and added some chopped Asian cabbage (to bulk it up a bit), cilantro and a squeeze of lime (to brighten the dish).

It’s a great base salad that you can customize by using chicken breast, topping with a salmon filet or adding tofu.  Yum!

sesame-rice-noodles-with-shrimp-fore296

 

SESAME RICE NOODLES WITH SHRIMP (courtesy of Self Magazine)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded, julienned cucumber
  • 1 cup peeled, julienned carrots
  • 1 cup julienned radishes
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lb brown-rice spaghetti
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (black or regular)

PREPARATION

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together tamari, 1 tbsp vinegar, oil, garlic, honey and Sriracha. In a separate bowl, toss together cucumber, carrots, radishes, scallions, remaining 3 tbsp vinegar and salt. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti as directed on package until al dente. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add shrimp. Drain noodle mixture and rinse with cold water, shaking out any excess. Add noodle mixture and vegetables to bowl with tamari dressing and toss. Top with sesame seeds.

The skinny

374 calories per serving, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 59 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 15 g protein

I Wanna Know…

I know many of you have been working hard.  In my boot-camp I see some gals making amazing transformations.  This got me thinking that I need to hear from you!

Sooo, what I want to know is this:  What can you do today that you were unable to do a few weeks, a month, three months, six months or even a year ago?

Jogging without stopping? Mastered the perfect pushup, or 10?  Signed up for a race?  Pushed the cake away at a party?  I want the good, the great and the outstanding!

I’ll compile this extraordinary list and share your  successes next week.  (But I promise not to name names.)  I promise that your success, no matter how small it may seem to you, will encourage, inspire and motivate someone else.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

 

Weekly Focus Point – Review, Re-tool and Re-ignite

Welcome to review week!  Today’s Focus Point circles back to the beginning of the challenge.  We’re going  to review the important components of the challenge, re-tool your approach (if necessary) and re-ignite your desire to reach your goals.

Track everything you eat and drink

Review:  Go back through your food journal and identify where you your calories are coming from; if there are gaps when you aren’t eating but should (like breakfast), or if your diet is lacking proper nutrition.

Re-tool:  Now that you’ve developed good tracking skills, let’s review the food journal and make some changes!  Look for areas where you can make a big impact without too much pain.  Here are a few easy swtiches you may want to try.

  • Grab lowfat dairy instead of whole or 2%.
  • Ditch the artificially flavored yogurts and opt for plain nonfat (greek or regular) yogurt mixed with berries, pineapple or your favorite fruit sweetened with a teaspoon of honey or agave or real maple syrup.
  • Meatless Mondays!  Going plant-based one day a week will have a huge impact on the environment and also provide a great nutritional boost.  Visit Cooking Light, or Meatless Mondays for some great tips.  Being vegetarian doesn’t always translate to healthy (french fries, anyone?) so keep that in mind as you  peruse the menus!
  • Be smart with cereal.  Cereal is a quick breakfast but not all cereals are healthy choices.  If you can’t give up your Krave or frosted flakes, then make your bowl healthier by going half and half.  Half a cup of Fiber One (clusters, flakes, original bran cereal) and a half cup of your cereal of choice.
  • Bulk up your meals with fruits and veggies.  Yes.  At every meal.  Shredded zucchini and mushrooms in your scrambled eggs, steamed spinach on your egg and cheese sandwich, a bowl of fruit to round out your cereal or yogurt.  I easily eat 9-11 servings of fruits and veggies each day.  The national average is 3 to 5.  Fruits and veggies provide incredible nutrients, fiber and other health benefits.
  • Finally, if your food journal is heavy on processed foods (protein bars, frozen items, fast food, etc.) start replacing those foods with healthier alternatives.  Peanut butter on an apple in place of a protein bar; whole wheat pasta with red sauce and ground turkey or lean ground beef in place of frozen lasagne.  Processed, convenient foods are ok in moderation but you and your family will benefit if you reduce their presence.

Re-ignite:  Pick only one or two things to swap out this week!  It will be easier than you think.

Workout at least 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes per session.

Review:  Well, you are either doing it or not.  If you are able to get in the workouts keep it up!  If you are not, take a look at what’s been going on and let’s see how to improve your track record.

Re-tool:  Listen, here’s tough love. Our bodies crave physical activity and once you get into the habit you will find that you can’t live without it.  I realize getting into the habit may take some time so if the 5 workouts are simply not happening, let’s commit to 3 or 4 sessions a week.  Try to fit in some kind of activity on that 4th or 5th day.

Re-ignite:  Make exercise fun or really, really hard!  Plan a dance party with your kids, try to add some run intervals (even 10 seconds is great) or try an extra long, extra hard hike on the weekend.  Trying new things and new hard things is great for your spirit and who knows, you may fall in love with this new activity!

Track your progress 

Review:  Are you walking longer?  Are you losing weight?  Have you been able to cut out the junk food for even a day or two at a time?

Re-tool:  If you have no idea what I’m talking about it’s time to write down where you are right now and make a note that in 2 weeks you’ll check in and see how you are improving.  Being able to see tangible changes will  increase your ability to stick with your healthy lifestyle.

Re-ignite:  Track any minor improvement each day for the next week.  Doing so will inspire and motivate you to keep going!  Did you drink a lot of water?  Run?  Wear shorts instead of capris?  This is progress!

Email Me

Review:  Well, if not me, than at least find a buddy to be supportive!  Having someone in your camp will help keep you motivated and they will cheer you on as you reach your successes.

Re-tool:  Feel free to examine different support systems if yours is not working.  Sometimes husbands and wives are not the best supporters (didn’t you say you were not going to eat chocolate this month?) and you need to find another outlet.  There are many online forums (spark people, Livestrong, etc.) where you can post your goals and accomplishments.  While Facebook is a great place to share your successes, be aware that your FB friends who you work or have a professional relationship with may not need to know about your success over the jelly doughnut.  Post with caution.

Re-ignite:  Start your own group.  Find a few, like-minded people and report in once a week with what’s working, what’s not and what your goals may be.

I hope this helps you this week!  As always, I’m here to help!

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

Weekly Focus Point – Go Harder!

Today kicked off Week 4 of our New You 12-Week Challenge!

And if you’ve just joined us as a newbie, or have dropped off the bandwagon and are climbing back on or just realized your shorts from last summer have magically shrunk in your drawer – welcome (or welcome back) to the party!

Our Weekly Focus Point for Week 4 is very straightforward.  For this week I want you to go harder in your workouts and cleaner in your diet.  Let’s give ourselves a little nudge (ok, a push) into an area that might cause you some discomfort.

In order to progress, see results and/or improve, you need to make some changes.  Sometimes little changes are enough, but every now and then you need more to reap bigger rewards.   Hence, the reason to go hard this week.

Here are some examples of how to do it.

Workouts

  1. Add fast intervals to your cardio.  Every 3-5 minutes of walking, running, elliptical, hiking, swimming, biking – add a 1 minute burst of fast activity.
  2. Stop strolling – start power walking.  Walking is a wonderful exercise but strolling is not going to help you reach your goals.  Think quick feet, strong arms and walk with purpose.  How do you know if you’re working at the right intensity?  You can speak but won’t want to.  Or you can carry your coffee without spilling it.  (This is a not-so subtle call out to the many Las Gallinas amblers I see every day).
  3. Practice “Active” Rest.    Many of us are in the rut of working out 3 or 4 days a week, allowing puh-lenty of “rest” days.  Active rest is where you participate in another activity (say swimming or hiking instead of running) to give your overused muscles a chance to repair and recover.
  4. Challenge yourself with strength training.  Can you do 10 pushups?  Try 12 or 13.  Can you do 1 pull up?  Work to making it to 2.  Can you hold a wall squat or plank for 1 minute?  Try adding 15 seconds on to that.    If you always grab a blue band out of habit (a-ehm) go for the purple next time.  (You know who you are.)
  5. Work out like you are training for an event.  Bring intensity and fire to every workout.

Nutrition

  1. Eliminate chips, crackers and other nutritionally vacant snack foods.  Pop some popcorn in 2 tsp. of canola oil, sprinkle with cayenne pepper and salt or have an ounce of almonds.  Crunchy, salty? check.  Healthy?  check.
  2. Invest in high quality treats.  I have a sweet tooth and sadly, it is activated with cheap, sugary treats like mass-produced cookies and cakey things.  These treats are neither filling nor satisfying so 2 cookies can go to 4 or 6 in a quick second.  Opt for some good chocolate or buy a premium pint of good ice cream or sorbet.  Eat the proper serving size, eat slowly and savor your treat.
  3. Ditch the booze.  Just for a week.  See if it changes the way you eat and your commitment to getting out of bed early to exercise.  Especially on the weekend.

Hard core?  Yep.  Manageable?  Yep.

Listen, it’s just for a week.  You’ve got this.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day

vector_of_happy_mother8217s_day_267246Happy Mother’s Day!!!

To my Mom, you have taught me to be a kind, caring and good person.  You have always been my biggest cheerleader and for that I can’t thank you enough!

To my kids, you have shown me what true unconditional love means.

To all of my friends who are Moms, you are an awesome force of nature!

Now go run!

Keli 🙂