Stay Fresh and Local at the Farmers Market

iStock_000010147416XSmallWhen you live in the city, it’s easy to take some things for granted. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are sort of a thing of the past, with a few minor exceptions. Can you imagine how your great grandparents might react if they knew they could get fresh fruit in the middle of December? It’s easy to take that kind of access to fresh food for granted.

But we lose something when we 24/7 access. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize how blessed we are to have access to food whenever we need, but there’s something special about knowing that peaches will be ripe this month, or knowing that those green tomatoes are going to be turning red any day now. The anticipation of knowing fresh food was coming up made it taste that much sweeter when it finally did become available.

That’s why I love local farmers markets. You get to see locally made products, meet new people, and most importantly, be exposed to fresh, locally sourced fruits and vegetables. While you can get relatively fresh food at any supermarket, you can find freshly picked, locally produced fruits and vegetables that was likely grown within 30 miles of your location. And I don’t think I need to remind you how important it is to escape processed foods and incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet.

Now, you might be thinking “Brian, why waste time going to a farmers market when I can get something almost as good down the street? After all, you just said it: I can get the same kind of foods at the superstore, and it’s much more convenient.”

Going to a Farmers Market does more than expose you to good food. A farmers market gets you outdoors, in the sun and away from the couch! You can ride your bike down to the market, or just put on some walking shoes and just go for a casual stroll around the various stalls. Just getting outside and keeping yourself active is a great way to stick to a fitness regime. Plus, a little vitamin D from the sun always helps! It’s more than just helping your physical fitness; it’s about social health as well.

Here are a few things to consider when you go to the Portland or Vancouver Farmers Market this coming weekend:

Know your Seasons – If you have your own garden, you probably know that there’s a season for every kind of fruit and vegetable. Apples naturally grow during a specific part of the year, squash normally shows up in the fall… So plan your meals accordingly! There’s always something fresh and new that’s going to be popping up at the market. Right now for example, you can likely expect to see some fresh tomatoes showing up, so think about incorporating some fresh tomato into a garden salad. Or if you’re looking for a snack, think about grabbing some fresh celery or some cucumber.

Dress for the Occasion – Farmers markets are a great place to enjoy some time outdoors, so make sure you wear the right apparel! Put on some comfortable shoes, plan for the temperature, and wear a hat to keep the sun off your head. Don’t forget sun protection if it’s going to be hot out, like sun block, sunglasses, and even an umbrella if you’re very sensitive.

Be Spontaneous, but Healthy – When you’re walking down the stalls, you’re probably going to see some foods that you may have never heard of before. I remember one client of mine was so excited that she found this thing called Okra, something she had never tried cooking with before. If you see something new, don’t be afraid to ask about it, pick some up, and try making something with it. What’s the worst you can do? But beware – farmers markets are well known for having unhealthy foods, like deep fried Twinkies. Try new things, but REMEMBER YOUR MEAL PLAN!

Ask Vendors for Recipes – Think about it this way: If a vendor has some kind of vegetable at his booth, he or she has probably had a lot of it at home, which means they probably have to find some pretty creative ways of eating it to keep it from getting mundane. After all, there’s only so much you can take of the same meal. I remember one vendor told me about a recipe she had for eggplant pizza. At first, I thought she was just a bit too enthusiastic about eggplant – I mean, how versatile can the thing be? It turns out, eggplant pizza is delicious! I never would have known such a recipe existed if she hadn’t told me about it. Vendors want to talk about their food – Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there.

So come on down to the farmers market! Enjoy the sun, browse the stalls, and see what you can find to help spice up your meal plan. And if you’re looking for something specific, ask a personal trainer at Boomer Fitness what you should look out for when you head down to the Farmers Market. We’ll have some great recipes you can incorporate into your meal plan.

Catching some Z’s: Why Sleep is Important

iStock_000000479476XSmallI don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a lot of my nights seem to be getting shorter and shorter as time goes by. It seems like as soon as I fall asleep, it’s time to get back up and start a brand new day.

Most days, I’m excited to get up! But some days, it doesn’t feel like I’ve gotten enough rest. Sometimes I hit that snooze button to catch just a few more minutes of sleep before headed out.

Sound familiar? If you’re like nearly half of the US population, it might. A study by Gallup recently discovered that around 40% of all Americans aren’t getting a healthy amount of sleep. This means there’s a lot of drowsy people out there.

Sleep is VERY important when it comes to your health. Without it, we run out of energy, and our brains just can’t keep up with the world around us. Check out a few reasons why you need your beauty sleep:

Sleeping recharges your Brain – Have you ever had one of those days were you just can’t seem to focus? Or maybe you are presented with a problem, and you just can’t fathom how to even begin finding a solution. Sleep deprevation directly affects cognitive processing and decision making, meaning your brain is going to have to work extra hard just to keep up the more sleep you lose.

Sleep Helps your Emotions – Just like brainpower, your emotional well being is directly affected by the amount of sleep you get. You may notice that the more tired you are, the less patient and more irritable you become. Getting a good nights sleep allows your brain to reset and prepare for the coming day.

Sleeping fights Heart Disease – Your sleep is directly involved with repairs constantly being made to your heart and blood vessels. This means that the more time you have counting sheep, the more time your body has to make repairs. The less sleep you get, the higher risk you are to heart disease.

Sleep helps the Immune System – Your immune system responds to foreign dangers that your body encounters on a daily basis, keeping you free from the common cold and other ailments. When your sleep pattern changes, your immune system will start to react differently, making you more susceptible to these ailments.

Sleepiness makes you Hungry – Your sleep pattern helps maintain the hormones found in your body, which includes the hormones that tell your brain whether you’re hungry or full. The more sleep you get, the better blanced these hormones are, which means you’re going to be less hungry the more you sleep.

Do yourself a favor tonight: Go to bed an hour earlier than usual! Your body will thank you for it, and you will feel much better rested when morning comes!

Apples, Pears, Plums… Can I Enjoy It?

Apple, pear, tape and glucometerI love it when my clients get excited. Not just about fitness, either! I love hearing about what my clients are up to outside of the immediate realm of fitness, whether it’s hobbies they enjoy, weekend plans they are looking forward to, or just daily updates.

One client of mine, Jon, has been telling me all about the fruit trees he has planted in his backyard. He is stoked that his micro orchard, if you can call five trees and orchard, are going gangbusters. Despite the heat, the trees have been producing a lot of fruit, and it looks like he has a lot of dishes that include apples, plums, and pears in his immediate future.

You can see where I’m going with this, right? I bet you can!

During the late summer, a lot of fruit starts to make its way to the market. I see a lot of independent entrepreneurs on street corners selling fresh apples, pears, plums, peaches, and cherries. As a chef, it’s a great time to take advantage of seasonal foods.

Now for the most part, fruits seem to get a bad rap at the surface. Fruits are seen as sugar packing desserts, inferior to vegetables. It’s true, in some cases: many fruits are used in dessert items, like cherry pie, apple strudel, plum pudding… and yes, these items are not on your diet plan! But that doesn’t mean fruits as a whole should be taken out of your diet.

Fruits are still a huge part of the food pyramid, and while they should be regulated like any other portion of food, you should still include healthy fruits into your diet. Take a look at some of the most important aspects of keeping fruit in your diet:

Fruits don’t contain cholesterol – That’s right! Cholesterol free! Fruits are also low in sodium, unhealthy fats, and calories.

Fruits are sources of nutrients – As a whole, most Americans lack a healthy source of potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Guess what many fruits have? All of these, especially bananas, prunes, peaches, apricots, and cantaloupe.

Fruits reduce heart disease – Because of these nutrients I just listed, fruits are amazing at preventing heart disease, which includes risk of heart attack and stroke.

Fiber! – Fiber is essential to any diet as you get older, as it helps protect against types of cancers, creates a sense of fullness, and helps proper bowel movement.

So don’t feel bad by grabbing an apple for the afternoon snack, or grabbing a few plums for lunch. Enjoy the treat! Be sure to talk to a personal trainer at Boomer Fitness to see how we can fully incorporate a healthy amount of fruit into your daily diet.

 

One Down, Nineteen to go!

newspapersI don’t know about you, but as a kid, I LOVED the Sunday comics. It was something to look forward to as you enjoyed your cereal, toast, and orange juice in your pajamas before headed to church.

Some were known for slapstick humor. Others sometimes had a hidden joke you don’t really understand as a kid. And some made you think just as much as they made you laugh. I used to bypass the complex ones and went for slapstick most of the time, but tastes change as you grow up.

Today, I still enjoy reading reading the funny pages. Most of the strips are fairly light on material, but every once in a while I’m surprised by the kind of message you can pack in a a few panels.

In fact, I’ve been following  a particular story comics this last week, in a strip called Luann. You might be familiar with the strip that follows the social lives of young adults around the highschool/college age. Most of the stories revolve around the title character, Luann, but many secondary characters take center stage from time to time.

Luann usually has some good stories, but I’ve really been enjoying this last week. This particular arc is following Luann’s brother Brad and his Father as they prepare for a Mud Run. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, a Mud Run is where you race through an obstacle course that involves running and crawling through the mud. You get dirty all while getting a full body workout… and it’s a blast!

Anyway, back to the story. Brad is in shape – he works out because he’s a firefighter in the strip. Luanns father – not so much. But he wants to take part in the Mud Run with his son, so he decides to go to the gym with Brad in order to prepare.

Now in the particular strip I’m thinking of, Brad shows his father how to do a proper squat. He tells him to “keep the abs tight and squat slowly.” And Brads father does it. completing the squat, he asks what’s next, and Brad says “Nineteen more.”

Now on the surface level, the strip is good for a chuckle. Brads father is out of shape, doing one squat is difficult, and so on. But to me, this kind of scenario isn’t all that far from the truth for some first time gym goers. If you have never been at the gym in your life, doing an honest-to-God squat is going to be incredibly difficult. Doing 20 of them? It might seem neigh impossible.

But here’s where I really like this particular story. Sure, Brad’s father is having a difficult time. He can’t walk from the car to the house after his workout. He complains about the price it costs to enter the Mud Run. He doesn’t understand that you have to add weight the curling bar to really get a muscle burn, or that to really get a workout, you have to do twenty squats instead of just one.

But throughout it all, Brad’s father keeps going. It’s not about how difficult the process is. It’s about wanting to improve yourself, and about spending some quality time with your son. Time that you might not have otherwise.

That’s why I like this strip. Sure, it makes you laugh, but we can also identify with stories that might hit close to home. You too might have a Mud Run you want to prepare for with your son or daughter, but you don’t know how to start.

That’s why I have a mission for you today: Find something to get excited about doing by the end of the summer. It might be a hike up Beacon Rock, or taking the Banks – Vernonia Bike Trail, or even taking part in a mud run of your own. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you have a goal.

Once you have that goal, start preparing for it. Tell us about what you want to do by the end of the summer, and we will tell you how you can really get in shape for it. We’ll talk you through a proper squat, lunge, or whatever else it might take to get you there. And once you know how to do it correctly, we’ll take you through the whole set.

Remember: you have to start somewhere. Lets start today, and get you on the road to success like Brad’s Father.

Walk and be happy! Walk and be healthy!

Detailed view of a sprinter in the starting blocksTake a look down at your feet. You’ve seen them thousands of times before, they’re nothing terribly special, you might think. Most of us try to hide them in socks or shoes, but today, humor me and take a good look at them.

Most people have five toes on each foot, ranging in different sizes and lengths. Each foot has a heel, most have an arch. They might tend to get tired after a long day of use, and sometimes you might want to put them up on a pillow and give them a rest.

Just feet. Nothing too special, right?

I have another history lesson for you, but this one goes back much farther than my previous blog about the Revolutionary War.

Way back when humans were still just getting their bearings in the world, we had very little modes of locomotion. Eventually, we would learn to tame quadrupeds like horses and camels, but for most of us, travelling came down to two things: you feet.

And believe it or not, we traveled quite a bit on our two feet! Anthropologists estimate that early humans walked 20 miles a day, and that was before we had sandals or shoes to protect us from the debris on the ground. We didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter – food traveled and seasons changed. We had to stick with the times.

As we progressed in history, we became more stationary, but we still had plenty of distance to travel. Unlike today, there were no vehicles that could quickly get us from point A to B. You had to get yourself there on your own, which usually meant walking. And boy, did we travel on our feet.

Walking was simply a necessity of life, but that doesn’t mean that it was viewed as a bother. In Ancient Greece, walking was considered a medicinal activity that could heal both emotional and physical ailments. Hippocrates, known as one of the founders of modern medicine (and especially for the Hippocratic Oath) prescribed walking to many of his patients.

The belief that walking helps both the body and the soul resonates through history. Charles Dickens wrote “walk and be happy; walk and be healthy.” Robert Louis Stevenson wrote that walking would lead to “brief but priceless meetings which only trampers know.” Aristotle used to lecture while on the move, walking and talking with his students. Even Nietzsche, known for his less than optimistic view on life, wrote “only those thoughts that come by walking have any value.”

It’s only been within the last few centuries that humans have started riding in buses, trains, cars, and planes. During the 50s, we began to see a huge increase in automobiles and roadways connecting us to both near and far locations. We also saw an increase in sedentary activity , with the advent of the television and even more recently with the personal computer. Human beings simply don’t have to use their feet anymore. The seasons change, but our food doesn’t change with it any longer. We don’t need to escape the cold when we can turn the heater on from our thermostat. Walking has almost become obsolete as a mode of transportation.

And to me, that’s a problem.

Consider this. Humans have been walking since their inception. It’s practically what physically sets us apart from other creatures on this earth – we walk bipedal rather than all fours. Our bodies have formed to not only adjust to that difference, but to thrive in it! We can travel exceedingly long distances all while burning half the energy  our four legged companions might.

But with our significant brain power, we have gotten ourselves off our feet almost indefinitely, travelling great distances from the comfort of an analogue of a couch or sofa chair. Now, we can rest them on the pillow in front of us while we watch the world pass by.

I think we lose something in that. Developing the ability to travel hundreds of miles and then putting it to the wayside is like using a good book as a paperweight. Sure, it can do the job, but think about the potential!

This week, I want you to consider using your feet for what they were made for. Sure, you might not have the same kind of weathered feet your ancestors might have had, but the potential is there! I challenge you to get outside and go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be far, just go around the block. Walk to the grocery store instead of driving, or just go to the part and enjoy the outdoors.

But above all, just use your feet for what they were made for!

This Weekend, Declare your Independence from Bad Habits

800px-Constitution_We_the_PeopleHappy 4th of July! Well, technically, today is just the 2nd of July, but I know plenty of you will be taking tomorrow off and enjoying this patriotic holiday.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh great, Brian’s going to write about how I need to stay on track, and how I can’t have any hot dogs or other junk food, no beer is allowed on my meal plan, and how the grind includes Fridays. Even long weekend Fridays where I could be sleeping in or relaxing on the porch.”

You know me so well!

Look, you know my thoughts on holiday weekends. You have heard my lectures about the importance of eating right, and how we might consider holidays something special, but our bodies don’t recognize the difference.

And you definitely know my stance on sticking to your fitness goals, no matter what the rest of the world is doing. Peer pressure is no excuse, and the grind includes Fridays… Even Fridays that you might want to spend doing other things.

So that’s why you might be a little surprised when I say enjoy yourself this weekend.

Yes, you read that right. And yes, I’m serious! This weekend, take some time and just enjoy yourself. Treat yourself to a hot dog with some extra relish. Grab a beer while your husband or wife lights some fireworks, or roast a marshmallow on the fire with the grand kids. Treat yourself to something good while we celebrate what makes this country great. I want you to enjoy yourself, and if that means slacking a little bit from your fitness goals, then you have my permission.

All I ask (and I can hear you saying “Oh great, here’s the catch!” but hear me out) is that you remember that whatever you do this weekend will be reflected in your fitness when you get back to the grind on Monday. There are repercussions to everything and we always pay our debts, one way or another.

American HolidayI can tell you to enjoy yourself because ultimately, what you do this weekend will effect you, not me. Fitness isn’t about guilt. It isn’t about doing what your trainer tells you to do, even though we typically know what we’re talking about. It isn’t about living up to our expectations, or even about what the scale at Boomer Fitness says. At the end of the day, your fitness is about your Physical Independence, and about what you do with it.

See what I did there?

I really want you think about this for a minute. We celebrate July 4th for one major historic event: The United States declared themselves independent from the British Empire. Now when the original thirteen colonies declared themselves free, it wasn’t exactly a sure thing like it may seem today. The British weren’t  just going to get up and leave, unity among the states was still in its infancy, and there was always the chance that unforeseen events could cause the whole project to come crashing down before it really started. With one slip up, the whole goal could have died before it was even born.

But the rebellious colonies kept at it. They were kicked, beaten, and thrown in the mud. Hopelessness was an understatement when it came to military actions during the Revolutionary War. But they kept getting back up and giving it everything they had.

There were no long weekends where Washington said “You know, I feel like kicking back instead of fighting the British.” In fact, you might recall a particular Christmas where Washington, instead of spending the day inside, decided to row across the Deleware.

Can you imagine the muscles needed for that?

In the end, that tenacity prevailed, and their independence was achieved. You and I are the living results of their commitment, and we celebrate their ability to reach their goal every July 4th.

Now, go back and read the last few paragraphs, and see if you can find any parallels between the United States and the British compared to You and an Unhealthy Lifestyle.

I sincerely want you to enjoy yourself this weekend. It isn’t every day you get to enjoy a little extra time outdoors, spent with friends and family around the Barbecue. All I ask is that when you’re enjoying yourself, remember that all actions have repercussions.

Every hot dog you enjoy is going to show itself when you grab the kettle bells on Monday. Every beer you enjoy is going to rear its head when you jump on the treadmill on Monday. And every marshmallow, as harmless as it might seem at the time, is going to contribute to that wall you have to resume scaling on Monday.

So instead of going all out when the fireworks are booming, maybe enjoy one beer instead of two or three. Savor that hot dog, and maybe hold off on the excessive relish. In the long run, your self control today will be a great tool in helping you achieve your fitness goals and declaring yourself Independent of unhealthy habits.

Staying Cool and Avoiding Heatstroke

heat-strokeIt’s summertime, and you know what that means: making the most of the outdoors while you can! For the next few months, the clouds disappear and we are treated to our annual dose of sun. You’ve got to enjoy it while you still can.

I’ve written a couple blogs about why it’s so important to get outdoors, and how you can really use this time to help with your fitness. It gets you some healthy vitamin D, it adds some variety to your weekly fitness experience, and best of all, you get to enjoy yourself as you do it. Be sure to check out my blogs on the matter if you have a moment.

But something else comes with summer that we aren’t necessarily used to, and that’s some serious heat. The sun is out a lot more than normal, and things start to really heat up right around the beginning of July. Heck, this coming week is seeing a forecast well into the triple digits, with 102 estimated on Thursday.

Like all things in life, too much of a good thing definitely comes into play when it comes to spending time outdoors. Like any machine, well oiled or not, our bodies can get overheated when we spend too much time in the sun. This condition is commonly known as a heatstroke or sunstroke, and can be caused by spending too much time in severely hot weather with little to no water to hydrate.

Make no mistake, getting a little overheated can be VERY dangerous. Prolonged exposure can cause damage to internal organs and even brain damage, especially if you’re not drinking enough water.

These next few days, if you plan on spending some time outdoors, make sure you watch out for some common symptoms of heatstroke both in yourself and anyone you might be outdoors with. Symptoms include:

  • A throbbing headache, along with dizziness or a light-headed feeling
  • Dry, red skin that is warm or hot
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Unconsciousness or seizures

If you start to notice symptoms in yourself or in others, get yourself or your friend out of the sun immediately and seek medical attention. Heatstroke is not something to be taken lightly. Trust me, it isn’t a sign of weakness from spending so much time under rain clouds. Even natives to regions like Texas, Arizona, or Nevada suffer the same ill effects from spending too much time in the sun.

So do yourself a favor. Enjoy the sun, but drink plenty of water while you’re out there. And on Thursday, when it gets to 102, make sure you come to Boomer Fitness instead! We’ve got air conditioning and plenty of water, and some people who will be enjoying a Bootcamp, some personal training, or just escaping the extreme heat by burning some calories instead.

Time Waste: The biggest culprit at the gym.

watchHow much is your time worth to you? Is that even something you can put a price tag on?

Well if you’re a lawyer, the answer is definitely a yes, but think abstractly with me for a minute. What is your time, those limited number of hours in the day, really worth to you?

Let me tell you something about my time at large corporate gym. When I was working out with clients, I noticed something about a large percentage of people who weren’t taking advantage of a personal trainer: there was a huge amount of time being wasted. Many gym goers were sitting at a machine, talking on their phone, searching for something on their iPod, or just staring into space. I even saw one or two people reading a book while sitting at a machine.

What gives? Are you at the gym to work out? Or are you at the gym to enjoy the ambiance?

If you’re looking for a place to relax, I can give you a dozen places in Vancouver that are much, much more comfortable. There are parks, libraries, coffee shops… all of these places have more comfortable chairs and much more scenic locations than a gym. And lets be honest, large corporate gyms are one of the last places we want to spend more time than necessary.

You might be thinking “Well what am I supposed to do when I’m between sets?” And in some cases, you’re right. There’s usually a brief time to cool down. But many people seem to stick to the same machine MUCH longer than you need for a rest period.

Wasting time doesn’t happen at Boomer Fitness. I know this because we don’t allow our clients to waste time – It doesn’t benefit you! You’re here to get a great workout and enjoy yourself as you do it! Not to sit at a weight machine reading Pride and Prejudice (A personal favorite of mine, I might add)

So how much is your time worth to you? Lets do some basic math before you answer. If you work out with someone at Boomer Fitness twice a week, you’re going to get 100 minutes of non-stop solid workout time. Now lets say you go to a large corporate gym on the same schedule, and you get distracted for, say, 20 percent of your time there. You’re only going to get a 40 minute workout each time you go in, which means you’re going to get even less results.

You might think “40 minutes isn’t a bad amount of time. That’s still a lot better than most people, right?” But 20 percent is EXTREMELY conservative for time waste. In fact, Harpers Fitness recently discovered that most gym goers are only using 39% of their time at the gym for actual fitness.

That’s less than 24 minutes of time for a 60 minute workout. Less than 20 for a 50 minute workout like you find at Boomer Fitness. So let me ask you again: How much is your time worth to you?

Look at it this way: When you work out at Boomer Fitness, you’re going to spend a solid 50 minutes working your butt off: Literally! When you go to a corporate gym without a personal trainer, you’re not going to have that personal set of eyes watching your every move. And like it or not, you’re going to get distracted by your phone, your ipod, or your own mind, which means you’re just not going to get the same kind of workout in the same time.

Don’t waste your time. Come see how to use your time efficiently at Boomer Fitness!