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.

 

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.

You only count the good ones!

If you have worked out with me, you may have noticed something about my counting. We’ll be in the middle of a workout, you’re sweating up a storm, and we are on a roll! We finish a set of lunges, I give you a high five, and we move on to the dumbbell curls.

So you start lifting your weights like the champ you are, and I’m making sure you’re lifting the weights correctly. You might notice that I don’t count one of your lifts. You think maybe I let one slide to try to push you, and you keep going.

Four more lifts later, and  I seem to only have counted three of them.

“What’s the deal?” That’s what one of my clients Len said last week. He could swear that he did his complete set, but I was only counting about 3/4ths of them. Was I trying to push him farther than normal?

Well, yes and no.

Let me clear something up for you: I know how to count. They don’t exactly let you into the Air Force without that prerequisite, and they certainly won’t give you a personal fitness certification if you don’t know how to do basic math. So why do I seem to lose a few of your sets when you’re working your butt off?

When it comes to fitness, you don’t cut corners. You can’t afford to, not when taking half measures can sabotage your fitness goals or even cause real harm to your body. You either go all the way, or you don’t go at all. You either do a full set of an exercise the right way, or you’re not going to make progress.

So how does this tie back in to Len’s workout? Well, as you get tired, your body is going to start trying to cut corners to use less energy. Even the best of gym members can’t help it – your body is simply hardwired to save energy. So when Len starts to get tired, his body is going to try to complete a “set” by whatever means necessary.

This can be a recipe for disaster if left unchecked. Working out incorrectly can do more harm than good. Think about it: If you’re doing deadlifts, you want to lift with the right muscles: Your legs, your, arms, and your core. Taking a half measure and lifting with your back can cause some serious damage. And as your body gets tired, you are going to be more likely to make mistakes like that.

So what was happening with Len and my counting issues? It’s because I only count the good ones. Doing a set incorrectly isn’t making progress; it’s causing more harm than good! So when a client start lifting incorrectly, we do one of two things: We correct the problem, or we stop the exercise and do something else.

Don’t think I’ll let you do more harm than good: Len has been a client of mine for a long time, and he knows when he’s doing a good set or not. I will tell you immediately when I see you doing a set incorrectly because I care about your progress. And I certainly don’t want you to hurt yourself at the gym.

No half measures. No shortcuts. We go all the way, because that’s the only way!

Cycling: Enjoying your fitness outdoors!

11392894_10153924172762598_3777624427085136122_nOne of the best things about summer is getting a chance to go outdoors. During the weekends, if you don’t have anywhere planned to go, it’s still nice to take a day trip to the mountains, or maybe head to the coast for a few days. It’s nice out, after all- it’s not like it happens every day in the Pacific Northwest.

One of my clients, Jenn, loves to talk about her time on a bike. To her, cycling is the end all of transportation methods. Need to get yourself from point A to B? A bike will do it. Want to burn off some steam or calories? Well it just so happens that a bike does a great job at burning calories. Even if you have cargo to move, you can do it with a cargo bike built for heavy loads. To her, the summer season is bike season, and she embraces it fully.

Now, I don’t necessarily cycle as my main source of transportation like Jenn does, but I do enjoy it from time to time. Especially when I get a chance to do it down at the waterfront in Portland, or on the Banks-Vernonia trail when I get a chance to get out there. And there are definitely some great health benefits to riding a bicycle, other than the cardio you might get on a cycle machine.

Whether you’re a casual cyclist or a hardcore ironman/woman in training, here are a few reasons you might want to jump on a bicycle when you get a chance this summer time:

Cycling conditions your muscles: Unlike a cycle machine, a bicycle is guaranteed to give you varied resistance as you go up and down various hills. You’re going to get a great workout in your legs, thighs, and gluts.

Cycling helps with joint conditions: Believe it or not, cycling is considered a low impact form or exercise, unlike jogging which has an impact with every step you take. This means you’re going to put a lot less pressure on your knees, which will really pay off in the long run.

Cycling increases lifespan: It’s the small things that really help when it comes to your lifespan. The British Medical Association discovered cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50%.That’s a huge benefit, for just going outdoors for a few hours.

Cycling improves the waistline: When you’re on a bike, you can expect to burn around 300 calories per hour, which roughly translates to losing 11 pounds of unhealthy fat per year on a person. Plus, you get to enjoy the sights going by.

Cycling improves mental health: On the other side of the spectrum, cycling can even improve your brain. Bicycling has been proven to reduce stress and increase hand-eye coordination among those who choose to cycle a mere 30 minutes a day (Maybe stay out of the city  that might add to your stress levels). The Journal of Occupational Health published an article showing cycling significantly improved mental health among those who choose to commute daily to work.

So don’t forget to grab your bike this coming weekend. Your body will thank you!

Empty Stomach Syndrome: Creating Havoc on your Diet

iStock_000018166519XSmallWe’ve all been there. You’re heading to the supermarket and suddenly everything looks delicious. You start walking down the aisles and you suddenly have an urge to try everything! Those chips look so good, those cookies are to die for, and I’ve never seen that beef jerky before. The next thing you know, your cart is full and you haven’t even started checking off the things on your list yet.

Stop! Drop those sugar-filled cookies and get out while you still can! You’re suffering from empty stomach syndrome, and it’s not going to help that specialty diet we set up for you.

Empty Stomach Syndrome, or ESS, is what happens when you are hungry and enter a store filled with foods. It’s a recipe for disaster if you’re on a specialty diet program, especially when you walk down those aisles that are absolutely filled with junk food.

It’s not entirely your fault, either. Supermarkets know what they’re doing with these aisles, and seek to take full advantage of your ESS. You might notice that snack foods are always at eye level, spaced throughout the store, and always seem to have some great “club prices” that scream a deal. After all, there’s no harm in trying those saturated fat crackers, especially when you’re saving two bucks when doing it!

Do yourself a favor: The next time you’re going to the market for foods, grab a quick healthy meal or snack beforehand. Planning your trip to the supermarket after a meal will do a number of things for you:

Save Money – You might notice that if you’re not shopping hungry, your cart won’t be quite as full. You’re going to be less inclined to buy foods you don’t need when you’re not daydreaming about how they taste. Less cravings mean less money at the checkout.

Less Snack Foods -If you’re not hungry, you’re going to be planning for the future,  not for the present. Keeping your attention on your diet instead of your snack cravings means you’re going to spend more time in healthier aisles, which means less temptations later down the road.

Better Planning – When you’re operating on a full tank, you’re a lot less likely to make mistakes than if you’re running on empty. After a meal, you’re going to be thinking straight, which means you can plan around your diet. You’re going to remember things that are on your good list, and remember to keep yourself from buying foods that are not.

Remember: You either go all the way or your don’t go at all. There’s no middle ground, which means you can’t cut corners on your diet. Stick to it, and you will make progress!

Keeping a Clean House: The Showers

20150519_104725I don’t know about you, but I know there have been times where I’ve been afraid to even step foot into a corporate gyms shower. They can be unhygienic, dirty, and some don’t even work. Sometimes its just a gamble to see if the shower has luke warm water or fridged cold. Don’t even hope for any hot water.

I can’t understand why this is considered excusable, either! A lot of people go to the gym in the middle of the day, and either have to go back to work afterward, or want to go home. Either way, you don’t want to get in your car with your gym clothes on. But risking yourself at a gym shower which looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in days, or even weeks? It feels like being stuck between an unhygienic rock and a smelly hard place.

Some gyms put the entire focus on gym equipment, but completely neglect other aspects of the gym. Sure, widescreen televisions are great, but is that really where the priority should be? Some private gyms I’ve seen don’t even offer showers to begin with.

It’s not just about keeping a clean house, either. When you join a gym, you want to to be comfortable in your environment. That’s why I’m so proud of our facility here at Boomer Fitness. We keep a clean set of showers, always stocked with clean towels, soaps, and shampoos. It has hot water (not lukewarm, but HOT!), and is available for all members. And you will never, ever have to worry about whether it was cleaned recently. We are very lucky to be working with The Cleaning Authority, who comes in and makes sure our showers are up to our standards.

To me, this shouldn’t have to be advertised as another service. It’s a basic necessity among gyms. It’s just one more reason why Boomer Fitness takes gym membership to a whole new level.

Aches and Pains – What to look out for

iStock_000009735766XSmallThis last Tuesday, I wrote a bit about why you get aches and pains after a hard day at the gym. If you worked out the right way, those aches and pains are a good thing! It’s the way  your body tells you that you exerted yourself more than you usually do, and your muscles will start to show results.

But sometimes, our body aches for the wrong reasons, and those aches and pains might not be telling you such good things. But how can we tell a good ache from a bad ache?

There are many, many bad aches and pains you need to look out for. Many more than can be outlined in a single blog. But I have three big sources of aches and pains that you need to look out for when going to the gym, and are completely preventable.

Pain from Bad Posture

Bad posture is something I have seen throughout gyms, even among professional bodybuilders. We might start off a workout session with the best form possible. But by the end of the session, you might be tempted to lift with your back, instead of your legs.

As we get tired, our body naturally tries to take shortcuts to make it easier for ourselves. Like I have said before, think about your body as a river. Instead of moving the boulder, a river will simply flow around it.

Thats why when your arms start to get tired from doing push-ups, you might start arching your back. Your body isn’t trying to hurt you – it just doesn’t want to change.

When I’m working with a client and I see that their posture starts to slack, I stop that particular workout set immediately. Working out with bad posture is asking for injury, and can be extremely damaging if done over long periods of time. Instead of pushing yourself toward injury, it’s best to stop the exercise and move on to another set of muscles.

Localized Pain

If you’re working out correctly, you’re going to feel a burn across a wide spectrum of muscles in your body. Every muscle is interconnected and work together to give you your range of motion. So if you’re doing bench presses, you’re going to feel a burn in your arms and your chest.

Thats why you should not ignore aches that are in a localized, specific part of your body. For example, if your knees really seem to ache after doing squats, you might need to readjust how you perform the exercise.

If you are experiencing pain like this during a workout, stop immediately! You are here to work out your body, not hurt your body. We will readjust your posture, or we will find other ways to work out that set of muscles.

Connected Aches

Dedication is great, but do not allow yourself to ignore an injury when you go to the gym. Working out on an injured ankle will not only make the ankle worse; you’re going to start feeling pain in your knees, thighs, lower back, and beyond.

Because your muscles are interconnected, pain in one part of your body is going to radiate outwards to other parts of your body. Think about it this way: If you injure your big toe, you might think it’s no big deal. It’s just a toe, right?

But when you spend some time on a treadmill, you’re going to walk on your foot a bit differently to avoid putting pressure on your toe. That’s going to cause your ankle to roll a bit more, which will add some more pressure to your knee. After 10 minutes, that slight issue of a stubbed toe isn’t going to be that slight any longer.

Don’t ignore pain. Recognize it, and treat it before it can get worse. Missing one day at the gym and resting an injury is better than spending 2 bad days at the gym and making it worse.

Feeling the burn at the gym is great, but only if it’s the right kind of burn. Make sure you recognize the difference between good aches which are caused by a good workout, and bad aches which are caused by other problems. Make sure you talk to our team of personal trainers so you know how to recognize the difference.