Between healthier eating and exercising you’ve been doing so well with your weight loss. Now the scale won’t budge even though you’re still plowing ahead with your new healthy lifestyle choices. Ahhhh….you’ve hit a plateau. Join us to learn a few fixes to get your weight loss back on track!
With Covid 19 and its variants still a threat, shoring up one’s immune system is very important. The CDC is asking everyone to get the vaccine to strengthen our ability to fight off contracting Covid 19 which preys on weak immune systems. In addition these experts are also recommending moderate exercise like a daily 30-minute walk, to help our immune system fight infections.
Today more than ever, I think it’s important to understand the importance of exercise in maintaining our immune system and keeping us healthy
Studies show that the immune system is very responsive to exercise, with the extent and duration reflecting the degree of physical stress imposed by the workload. Acute exercise is the sweet spot that provides almost indisputable evidence of its ability to protect the body. Richard J. Simpson, Ph.D., FACSM, an associate professor in the Departments of Nutritional Sciences, Pediatrics and Immunobiology at the University of Arizona notes that performing regular exercise of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise has been shown to improve immune responses to vaccination, lower chronic low-grade inflammation, and improve various immune markers in several disease states including cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive impairment and obesity.
In addition, as we age, exercise is determined to slow down the gradual deterioration of the immune system which is part of the natural aging process.
Adjuvant is as an additive to vaccines that boosts the vaccine’s virus fighting power and moderate to vigorous exercise is an immune system adjuvant that improves defense activity and metabolic health. The fact that studies confirm exercise’s adjuvant qualities for our immune system means it is a powerful confirmation of its ability to help us fend off illnesses. Health experts and research confers that moderate exercise like a daily 30-minute walk can help our immune system fight infections.
This graph shows the relative risk of death to illness comparing three levels of exercise. Data support a clear inverse relationship between moderate exercise training and illness risk. In the hypertension category, the risk of death declined by almost half, from 2 for those who had low levels of daily activity, to 1 for those who consistently engaged in moderate to brisk exercise. Note that even those that smoked or had BMI’s indicating overweight status still fared better in reducing their risk of death, when exercising was part of their lifestyle.
METs = metabolic equivalents.
One MET is defined as the energy you use when you’re resting or sitting still.
An activity that has a value of 4 METs means you’re exerting four times the energy than you would if you were sitting still.
Exercise promotes anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses, and augments the processes by which cells of the immune system look for and recognize foreign pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, or pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the body. Chronic inflammation occurs when an immunity response lingers, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for aging-related disabilities and chronic diseases. It’s characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and high cholesterol, which can lead to risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes arthritis and specific types of cancer. Studies consistently show an inverse relation between physical activity and inflammation.
Acute exercise or the “sweet spot” is defined as moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise sessions at 60% to 90% of max heart rate for less than 60 minutes, is the sweet spot for providing exercise-induced immune changes. Acute exercise is now being described as important for explaining reduced cancer and heart disease risk among the physically active
The below J curve chart summarizes a recent study on the inverse relationship between moderate exercise training and the incidence of upper respiratory infection. It shows that participants assigned to moderate exercise programs had 40%-50% less incidence and duration of URTI duration compared with those who did not exercise. And here’s the upshot, the reduced symptoms and severity indicated a stronger effect than medications and supplements.
Note that those who were assigned to the intense exercise group with prolonged and intensive exercise had higher incidence duration of URTI illness indicating that exceeding 60 minutes of exercise above max heart rate, could increase susceptibility to URTI.
Aging Studies show that regular exercise is capable of regulating the immune system and delaying the onset of gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by natural age advancement. Data shows that older exercising adults had
Enhanced vaccination responses,
Increased T-cell proliferative capacity, (see below)
Lower circulatory levels of inflammatory immune cells
Lowered inflammatory response to bacterial challenge,
In summary studies show that performing moderate to rigorous exercise for between 20 and 60 minutes is going to be a bonanza for your body’s ability to enlist cells that fight virus and bacteria that cause illness. In addition it’s going to reduce anti-inflammatory activity in the body to protect from metabolic syndrome illnesses. In these uncertain medical times, enlisting every opportunity to improve one’s immunity and exercise is within almost everyone’s reach.
Acute Exercise example
47 year old woman in average condition – Max heart rate is 220-age or 220-47 = 173 beats per minute (BPM). The recommendation is to target her acute exercise heart rate to 70% of max heart rate by walking treadmill or around the block for a minimum of 20 minutes at a pace that will get the heart rate to 70% of max heart rate or 121 bpm. Note that the protection occurs when exercise is regularly administered 3 – 5 times per week.
•Max heart rate is 220-age or 220-47 = 173 bpm
•Moderate exercise heart rate = 70% of 173 or 121 bpm
•The recommendation is to walk for a minimum of 20 minutes at a pace that will get the heart rate to at least 104 bpm.
•Note that the protection occurs when exercise is regularly administered 3 – 5 times per week.
Many of us are setting up for another week of sitting at our desk, either telecommuting or actually in the office. Sitting too long can lead to musculoskeletal disorders including carpal tunnel syndrome from typing on the computer. If you find yourself stiff and sore during the day or feeling it after a day hunched over your computer, I suggest these below stretches at your desk to unkink your joints and give you some perspective. The below exercises are in no particular order so try what works for you. Do each one for about 30 seconds and remember to breathe. In addition to these, you should be standing up and walking around the office or your house every hour or so. Living in a cramped apartment? Try a couple flights of stairs to clear your head before you get back to the grind.
Shoulder Shrugs Releases the Neck and Shoulder Muscles
Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release and drop.
Arm Circles To Stretch Shoulders, Arms and Chest
Clench both fists, stretching both hands out in front of you.
Make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of ten.
Then reverse the circles.
Shake out the hands.
Press Fingers Back to Loosen Wrist and Clenched Fingers
Stretch your left hand out straight in front, wrist bent, with fingers pointing skyward. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pulling the fingers back toward your body. Do the same on the other side.
Torso Twist to Stretch the Spine and Open the Shoulders
Inhale and as you exhale, turn to the right and grab the side or back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm of the chair with your left.
With eyes level, use your grasp on the chair to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist and let your eyes continue the stretch — see how far around the room you can peer.
Slowly come back to facing forward.
Repeat on the other side.
Big Hug Stretch to Open the Upper Back and Arms
Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.
Arms Across Chest Stretch to Release Shoulder and Neck Tension
Extend one arm out straight in front of you. With the other hand, grab the elbow of the outstretched arm and pull it across your chest, stretching your shoulder and upper back muscles.
Stretch out the other arm in front of you — repeat.
Look Up Overhead Stretch to Release Tension in Neck and Shoulders
Sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers.
Turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling. Inhale, exhale, release.
Leg Hug to Chest to Stretch the Hamstrings and Release Tension in the Glutes
Sit tall and bring one knee towards chest. Grab around leg and pull knee closer to chest. Breathing deeply. Circle angles. Go to other leg.
Leg Hug to Stretch the Back, Neck and Open the Upper Back
Let your chest drop over your thighs letting your arms hand loosely by your side. Now bring your hands behind your legs, right hand grasping left wrist, forearm (or elbow if you can reach that far), left hand grasping the right. Feel the stretch in your back, shoulders and neck. Hold.
Release your hands to the floor again. Repeat three times or as often as it feels good.
Cross Arms Behind Neck Stretch to Open Chest and Stretch Side Arms
Bring both arms above head and take your right hand to grap your left elbow. Gently pull left elbow towards your right hand again breathing deeply. Return to start and do the other arm.
I think you will feel refreshed to tackle the computer after performing this series break.
February is my favorite month. Valentine’s Day, my birthday (shhh) and most importantly, the increasingly prevalent black history month celebrations, make the month notable during a normally cold, snuggly time of year. And even though February is ending, Black history doesn’t.
Black history and culture podcasts are great motivators for getting that workout in on the treadmill, elipitcal, row machine, or if you brave cold weather, an outside walk, run or hike. What a fabulous way to learn about the contributions of African Americans to what makes America great, while exercising your heart and lungs (oh and February is Heart Health month!)
Below are a few podcast to tune in to. I especially have an affinity for GirlTrek‘s Black History Bootcamp series. Girltrek is an organization that bills itself as a national health movement that activates thousands of Black women to be change makers in their lives and communities — through walking In the footsteps of a civil rights legacy. Chapters are in every major city.
This is not a fitness organization, this is a campaign for healing. This is not recreation. This is a lifestyle. We walk to heal our bodies, inspire our families, and to reclaim the streets of our neighborhoods. We believe in the discipline and power of walking to transform our lives, enliven our communities, and restore our humanity.
And don’t let the “Girl” fool you. This group is for GAW of all ages.
Here are some great black history podcasts to try. Note that they can be accessed through Spotify, Apple and Google apps. So grab your sneakers, earpods and phone, and start walking and learning!
Welp it’s the blessed New Year and the reprieve we’ve all been looking forward to. Join my webinar this Wednesday at 11:00AM to review exercise trends and wearables for 2021. Digital workouts, HIIT, Megaformer, Barre and Hybrid classes are trending and could be your spark. In addition, we’ll look at the wearables and home fitness trends. This is the year! Register here!
Mindful eating is about recreating that “first bite” delight in each bite of your food. When your mind is disengaged from eating, you are not satisfied and seek out more food, even when you are full. When you connect with your eating experience, reflect on the source of the food, those who prepared it, those eating around you and the sensations in your body, you will feel more satisfied regardless of what or how much you are eating.Mindful eating can make anyone’s eating healthier and more nurturing, regardless of weight or nutritional status.
How to Eat Mindfully
Pay attention while you eat. Use all of your senses to enjoy your meal. What does your food look, smell, taste, and feel like?
Slow down. Take the time to enjoy your food so that you will be satisfied when you are finished.
Use smaller plates and bowls. Think about your hunger/fullness when your dish is empty. Wait 20 minutes from the start of the meal before deciding if you are hungry for more.
Pay attention to how you know if you are hungry or full. If you are still hungry, then eat a little bit more. If you are satisfied, stop eating.
There is no right or wrong way eat! Everyone’s eating experience is unique to them and all foods can be a part of a healthy diet – it just depends on how often we eat certain foods.
2. Tips for mindful eating include all the following, except which one?
Putting down your silverware between each bite of food.
Using all 5 senses when eating
Pausing after 10 minutes of eating and reconsider how hungry you are
Using your manners while eating
Although having some manners while you eat might help you to enjoy the experience of eating more, it is not part of the framework for mindful eating. Allowing yourself enough time to enjoy each bite of food by not rushing through the meal is key to mindful eating. So take a bite, put down your fork, explore all the sensations your meals has to offer by using all 5 sense and then pause to assess your satiety or continued hunger.
3. Which of the following can result in you eating less?
Eating from a large bowl, bag, or plate
Putting chocolate and cookies in plain sight
Watching TV while eating
Pre-portioning snacks in visible containers
Have you ever noticed how your entire snack can disappear while you eat at your desk or while watching tv? That’s because you may be preoccupied with something else and not giving your meal your full attention. This is a situation where you might end up eating more than you would have if you had stopped and really paid attention to what you were eating. Having your temptations in clear view might not help you meet your goals of eating less either. Pre-portioned snacks can provide you with a predetermined amount of food that might help decrease chances of mindless eating if you are forced to be in one of these situations during your meals.
4. Mindful eating does not involve which of the following?
Eating foods that you enjoy
Being grateful for the meals you have
Altering your environment to change the way you eat
Mindful eating is an approach that allows all different foods to be part of a healthy diet. Mindful eating does not include restricting foods but rather helping to identify how foods make you feel and how much you need to eat to feel satisfied and no longer hungry. Mindfulness is learning to be grateful for your foods and respecting your meal for what it is providing you. Altering your environment (such as turning off the television while eating or moving to a quieter environment) is one strategy that you use to give more attention to your foods.
4. True or false: If you’re craving something and can’t get it off your mind, you should eat it.
Sometimes, trying to stifle a craving makes it grow so intense that, when you finally cave, you eat the whole bag, carton or box. Don’t beat yourself up if you give in to a craving. Instead, relish it. Take a small bite, savor the taste, have another bite. Thoroughly enjoy it. Then move on.
Often these terms are intertwined but although they influence one another, their focus is different. In a nutshell, wellness” refers to your overall well-being, a lifestyle that you actively seek and one that is continually evolving — whereas, “health” refers to your actual mental and physical state.
One person can be physically fit, able to run 6 miles a day and eat the healthiest diet ever, but still not enjoy wellness if other aspects of their life affect their ability to function. Another person could be living with high blood pressure and disease and considered in poor health, yet practicing wellness that is enhancing his or her overall health. Wellness is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth.” The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” They define wellness as, the optimal state of health of individuals and groups.
“Wellness incorporates wholism — This doesn’t mean that each element will be in perfect balance always but supporting a client to create harmony out of that helps them get to the root cause of a challenge and understand where triggers are showing up. Health tends to look at just one piece and not the whole person. We can’t look at weight and food and not also look at relationships and careers, for example.” –Kim Goeltom, Superwoman Wellness Coach & Certified Master Wellness Coach at Creating Legacy Wellness
This 7 element wheel incorporates the major areas of our lives that matter when it comes to following a wellness pattern. *
Physical Wellness -This dimension of wellbeing focuses on practicing healthy daily habits. It includes exercise and activites that buildi strength, flexibility, and endurance and eating nutritious foods. This dimension is most associated with health and wellness.
Emotional Wellness– Self-esteem and optimism are powerful healers. Similarly, expressing love and other emotions help achieve balance in the face of challenges. Note that emotional wellness differs from mental health which is the absence of mental illness. You might engage in emotional health and wellness by nurturing close relationships, establishing healthy boundaries, and learning to say no when you’re feeling overloaded. Tune-in to your thoughts and feelings
Cultivate an optimistic attitude
Seek and provide support
Learn time management skills
Practice stress management techniques
Accept and forgive yourself
Intellectual Wellness The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. Our minds need to be continually inspired and exercised just as our bodies do. People who possess a high level of intellectual wellness have an active mind and continue to learn. An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills. Keeping up-to-date on current events and participating in activities that arouse our minds are also important.
Take a course or workshop
Learn (or perfect) a foreign language
Seek out people who challenge you intellectually
Learn to appreciate art
Spiritual WellnessIs your mind at peace? A set of core beliefs or values that shape you and how you live your life often creates harmony. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose.
Social Wellness Your social wellness is vital to being a healthy human being. This means that you practice healthy boundaries, nurture friendships, and take time for social events regularly. Social wellness includes showing respect for others and yourself. Contributing to your community and to the world builds a sense of belonging. Learning when to push yourself to get out with others and when to stay home is key to balancing your social wellness.
Contribute to your community
Share your talents and skills
Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas
Environmental Wellness This is an awareness of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. It consists of maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony with the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment. This might include adding an air filtration system to your home and workplace, buying plants, and installing a water filter so you can drink and bathe in truly clean water. Environmental wellness is also about how your spaces feel.
Rearranging your furniture, repainting, and bringing in more natural light can all be ways to improve your environment. Choosing toxin-free paints, organic fabrics, and low-toxin furnishings can also increase your wellness. Stop your junk mail
Conserve water and other resources
Minimize chemical use
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Renew your relationship with the earth
Vocational or Occupational Wellness involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. The development of occupational satisfaction and wellness is related to your attitude about your work.
Many of us will spend most of our lifetime at work, which means it’s crucial that we give it consideration when building a wellness lifestyle. If you hate your job, are experiencing unresolved tension at work, or are in a toxic work environment, it will profoundly affect your health and well-being. You might need to change jobs, choose a new career, or simply establish healthy boundaries at work. You don’t need to make drastic changes in order to increase your occupational wellness. But it’s also important to know when it’s time to take care of yourself and do what you need to do in order to feel more joy in your life. Achieving optimal occupational wellness allows you to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction/pleasure in your employment.
Tips and suggestions for optimal occupational wellness include:
Explore a variety of career options
Create a vision for your future
Choose a career that suits your personality, interests and talents
Be open to change and learn new skills
Here we’ve focused on elements that are more likely in our control in pursuing wellness. Other elements I have not mentioned are the financial dimension and the state of racial inequality here in the US and elsewhere in the world. Both are extremely important elements to consider in the well being quotient.
Having a roof over your head and food in the refrigerator is basic life sustenance which reflects our financial condition. This is the element many of us may not have control over, considering job losses related to COVID 19 and other factors. The social issues that have birthed organizations like Black Lives Matter, are also factors that may not be controllable in pursuing well being.
As you reflect on your status with these elements, are you healthy or do you need to make tweaks to achieve the best wellness for you? Chances are there will never be true equilibrium but we can live our lives shooting for that goal.
They say that the 19 in COVID 19 relates to the average amount of weight people have gained because of closed gyms, pools and other outlets that kept us moving. Here are 18 at home activities to fight that gain.
If you missed here, click here for the archive link.
The other day I came across the term “nutrient dense” which refers to foods with a high nutrition to calorie ratio. These foods give a healthy bang for your eating buck.
This term provides a different way of assessing what we are constantly told regarding good lifestyle eating habits i.e. eat lots of vegetables, fruits, fish and beans because they are healthy sources of nutrition. Nutrient dense is the term behind healthy. A good example of a nutrient-dense food is strawberries. One cup of strawberries contains only 150 calories, but 3.5g fiber, 86mg of vitamin c and 26.9mcg of foliate.
Foods should fulfill three basic needs including providing energy, supporting new tissue growth and regulating metabolism (and yes enjoyment). These needs are met through the food components most of us are familiar with; carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and water. Carbohydrates like whole-grain breads,cereals, rice, beans, pasta, vegetables and fruits are considered to be nutrient dense because they also contain a high level of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber per calorie. By comparison carbohydrates like candy bars, donuts and cookies are not considered nutrient dense because they contain insignificant amounts of vitamins and minerals per calorie and have a high fat component. That is why these food choices are often referred to as supplying “empty” calories.
Nutrient-dense foods also tend to have lower calories per serving compared with high fat or sugar content foods, making them a good choice for losing weight. And ounce for ounce because they are dense, you may get satisfied with a smaller amount and stay fuller longer. For instance, if we compare one cup of carrots to four saltine crackers, both have 50 calories. However, because the carrots have more fiber for the same calories, they will be more filling, a feeling that will last longer than eating the crackers. One slice of white bread has about 70 calories, but very few vitamins and minerals. One slice of whole-wheat bread, however, has about the same amount of calories as white bread, but four times the amount of potassium and magnesium and three times the zinc again making it the healthier choice and more filling.(1) And let’s look at a satisfying snack. One cup of sweet mangos has 99 calories versus 140 calories for 32 pieces of M&Ms, while providing essential vitamins and carbs which come from natural sugar. M&M’s have 18% of unhealthy saturated fat, 34% of processed sugar and almost 0 nutritional value for a serving size.
Many experts promote shopping the permimeter of the supermarket because most of the fresh, nutrient dense products including meats, fruits, vegetables and dairy tend to be located in the perimeter of these stores. (2)
So get out in this beautiful weather and be active, and on the way home do some nutrient dense food shopping! Below are two websites for additional information.
It’s frustrating to exercise and not see results in a timely manner. This webinar discusses how to get more bang out of your exercise time to get better results and keep you motivated! If you missed here click here.