Archive | September 2013

Digging Deep for Motivation

I have to be honest, I haven’t really felt motivated/inspired to blog this week. Maybe it’s because I did a grueling workout Saturday that forced me to take a few days off from the gym to let my body recoup…which kind of threw
me off my game. I confessed this lack of motivation to my friend and, genius that she is, she suggested that I write about finding motivation. Brilliant!  It makes sense because so many of us, myself included at times, struggle to find the motivation to drag our butts to the gym or squeeze a workout into our already jam packed schedules.  Just like with my workouts, this blog is a commitment that I’ve made to myself and, of course, to those who read it.  And just like with working out, sometimes I just don’t feel like it! Haha

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Now sometimes, it’s good to take a little break…like if you’re sick, injured, or sleep-deprived. Self-care comes first, but there’s a line that we all walk that requires us to know when we truly need a break, and when we are being a tad lazy and self-sabotaging.  How do you know the difference??  Well, for me, that means thinking about how I’ll probably feel after I do the thing I’m procrastinating on. With a workout, sometimes I know I’ll feel better if I do it, but realize I need to scale back the intensity so I don’t push myself over the limit.  With the blog, I think of how disappointed in myself I’d be if I didn’t at least write a little something for the week (since a once-a-week posting was my original goal/commitment to myself).get motivated~Source

If you’re reading this, is there anything you’re procrastinating on that you think you might regret if you don’t do it? Remind yourself of your goal and of your commitment to yourself, and think of how accomplished you’ll feel after you finish it.

You can do it!

🙂

Ciao for now!
-E

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Exercise – It’s for EVERYbody but it benefits MORE than just your body!

A recent discussion with a friend of mine, who is recently getting back on track with making fitness a priority, prompted me to write about the mental health benefits of exercise. You see, my friend had been having difficulty getting back on track amidst running her business, recently giving birth to a new baby, raising her two other kids, and keeping a home together. She was worried about making time to workout, what if her body didn’t respond to exercise the way it once did b.b. (before babies), etc.

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As her friend, it was hard for me to watch her struggle…she has been stressed out and a little down lately, and I know from my own experience that, regardless of the physical benefits that she’d reap from regular sweat sessions, exercising would really boost her mood and be a great stress outlet.

Many of you already know about the mental health benefits of working out, but with society cramming images of perfect bodies down our throats, it’s easy to focus solely on the physical/aesthetic benefits. So, as a reminder, here are a few ways exercise can improve your mood:

1. Reduce Stress
One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. When we work up a sweat, our body increases its concentration of norepinephrine, a chemical that can decrease the brain’s response to stress.

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2. Increase Happiness
In addition to releasing chemicals that help us deal with stress, exercise also releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among those    who are clinically depressed. In some cases, exercise can even be as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. And it doesn’t have to be pumping iron or sprinting on the treadmill at a gym…go for a walk, a hike, rollerskating, etc for just 30 minutes a few times a week and you can instantly boost overall mood.exercise helps depression

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3. Relieve Anxiety
You might be surprised to know that a 20 minute jog is actually better at alleviating anxiety than a warm bubble bath. During (and after!) a sweat sesh, the brain releases chemicals that help us calm down, and doing moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (interval training, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity.

4. Boost Brainpower
This one is awesome…Several studies on both mice and humans have shown that cardiovascular exercise can stimulate the creation of new brain cells (for my science geeks, this is known as neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Research also suggests that higher intensity workouts increase levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning.

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5. Sharpen Memory
Regular physical activity boosts memory and our ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in the hippocampus—the part of our brain which is responsible for memory and learning.

I talked to my friend about some of these and she finally just bit the bullet and hit the gym for the first time in a while…and she said she felt immediate results. She told me she felt less stressed, more in-control, and her overall mood was just better. Hooray!

Give it a try and see for yourself! The proof is in the pudding 🙂

Ciao for now!

-E

9/11 Morning Workout

Being that I live in New York, 9/11 is an especially tough day for many people I know who lost loved ones on that fateful Tuesday we all remember in 2001.9-11 twin towers

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This morning, as my alarm went off at 5:45, I thought about how many people were waking up for work at that time on this day 12 years ago…not knowing it would be their last day on this earth. So even though I was tempted to hit snooze and tell myself I’d go for a run after work, I decided to get out of bed and do my 6am workout. As I laced up my sneakers and pulled my hair into a ponytail, I reminded myself of how precious and fragile life is. Every day that we wake up is a gift. It’s a chance to be better than we were yesterday. It’s a chance to make a difference in the lives of others. It’s a chance to treat our bodies with the respect they deserve…because some people aren’t lucky enough to see another sunrise, to feel their hearts beating as they hit the next mile marker on the treadmill, to feel their sweat beading as they push through that last set of bicep reps.

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This morning’s workout was for all of those people who lost their lives in the senseless acts of September 11, 2001. As I write this, family members are reading their lost loved ones’ names at the 9/11 tribute in Downtown Manhattan. It is heartbreaking, but thinking of their tragic ending reminds me to not take my own life, and my own health, for granted. And I hope what I’ve written here inspires you to do the same.

Ciao for now!
-E

To Fast, or Not to Fast…That is the Question.

As summer comes to a close, you may be feeling like you indulged in a few too many margaritas, barbeques, and ice cream sundaes. Maybe you didn’t get out and exercise in the nice weather as much as you had planned. We live in a society of “extremes,” so it’s not surprising to me that, in the wake of the new fall season, I’m hearing talks of people “fasting” to detox and undo some of the summer over-indulgences.

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Given that there was a period in my life where I did a lot of fasting (in a very unhealthy way, and for unhealthy reasons), my initial reaction to hearing that someone is on a “water fast” makes me cringe and feel concerned. I personally feel that our bodies are perfectly equipped with organs that already do the job, removing toxins through the skin (by sweating), liver, colon, and kidneys.

That said, I do that that the typical American diet includes too much processed food, saturated fats, genetically modified products, and too much sugar. So I actually do support the idea of eating clean as a method to “detox” from all the non-foods that many of us consume. But as far as eliminating food altogether? I feel that it just sets you up for an all-out binge once you start eating again, because that’s what tends to happen after deprivation.to fast or not to fast

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WebMD seems to support my beliefs, and according to their site:

When you fast, your body is forced to dip into energy stores to get the fuel it needs to keep going, so you will lose weight. The big question is how long you will keep that weight off. Because food was often scarce for our ancestors, our bodies have been genetically programmed to combat the effects of fasting. When you eat less food, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. Then, when you go back to your usual diet, your lowered metabolism may cause you to store more energy, meaning that you will probably gain back the weight you lost and possibly even put on more weight when eating the same calories you did before the fast.

As you fast, your body will adjust by reducing your appetite, so you will initially feel less hungry. But once you have stopped fasting, your appetite hormones will kick back into gear and you may actually feel hungrier and be more likely to binge.

So, in conclusion, fasting (such as with a water fast) for a day or two probably won’t hurt you if you’re generally healthy. Longer than that, though, and you start messing with your metabolism and depriving your body of necessary nutrients that it needs to survive.  And unless it’s part of your religious practices (which I completely respect), I don’t think temporarily starving yourself does much good.  I don’t know about you, but I actually like food and feel like a huge grouch when I’m hungry. If you want my advice, just cut out the crap. Yep, you heard me…lay off the alcohol and stop eating Cinnabon, pizza, Haagen Dazs, and 25-cent wings for a while. Eat fruits, veggies, healthy fats (like avocado), and drink more water and herbal tea…your body will detox naturally and you won’t have to starve yourself. Your body (and your friends, coworkers, and spouses) will thank you.

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Ciao for now!
-E