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.

 

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!

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!

Progress: It takes time.

vrONi0DSomething that I’ve heard time and time again is “Why don’t I see progress?” You go to the gym day in and day out, you watch your diet, you dropped the excessive sugars and carbohydrates.

You don’t even drink soda anymore, so what’s the deal? Is going to the gym even worth it?

Well first of all, going to the gym is ALWAYS worth it. And, I can promise that if you’re showing up to the gym and sticking to your nutritional plan, you ARE making progress, even if you don’t see it happening right away. But why does progress seem to take so long?

One of my favorite analogies about the human body and fitness is like rock in a stream. Your body is the stream, and the rock is an obstacle it has to get around. How does the stream do it? Nine times out of ten, the stream is going to flow around the rock, taking the easiest course. It doesn’t want to change course or even move the rock, just like your body doesn’t want to change how it looks.

Your body doesn’t want to lose its body weight because it’s not programmed to lose that weight. If anything, your body is actually programmed to keep that weight! Think about it this way – thousands of years ago when humans couldn’t rely on a solid meal every day, we had to rely on our bodies reserves for energy. We had to sustain ourselves on what we could get, and that wasn’t always a guarantee like it is in our modern world.

So how do we keep faith in our goals of fitness? Trust me, I know it gets hard to stick to those goals. There’s something I like to tell my clients when they’re starting to lose faith in their progress: You have to be happy in the fact that you ARE making progress, no matter how slow it might appear.

Renewing your dedication to fitness means changing that mindset that fitness is somehow a destination. There will always be goals in our future, whether it’s jogging a mile or jogging five miles. The best part about fitness is knowing that there is ALWAYS room for improvement. The fact that you’re appearing at the gym is a sure sign that you’re improving your health.

And best of all, we can measure the fact that you’re making progress, whether you see it for yourself or not. Ask your personal trainer to look at your history, and I can guarantee you that after a month, you’re going to look better and perform better.

Water: Don’t Neglect It

water splash in a glassWhen it comes to working out, there really aren’t a lot of things you need to take with you. You get some gym clothes, you grab a towel, and you’re ready to build some muscles, right?

Gyms like Boomer Fitness are great for that reason. We carry the essentials you need when you’re here, so you don’t have to worry about taking things with you. We’ve got the equipment for the workout, the showers for cleaning up afterward, and the water faucet for when you need to re-hydrate.

But what happens when you’re outdoors this summer? You might go for a hike up Dog Mountain, go jogging around the block, or even cycle down to the local grocery store. When you head out, you still might not take much with you, other than some breathable clothes, a cellphone, and the keys. But there’s something missing. Can you guess it? If you guessed water, you know where I’m going with this.

Water is ESSENTIAL, especially when you’re outdoors. Think about it this way: your body is already around 65% water. Would you really want to deny yourself something that makes up 65% of your body?

No matter what you’re doing, you’re likely going to be outdoors this summer. And if this heat continues, it’s going to get very, very hot while we’re outdoors.

This means you’re going to need a lot more water than you might in a regular workout. Why is that? Well, when your in a hotter environment, you’re going to be sweating a lot more. Your going to be expending more water, which means you’re going to need to replace it with even more.

When you exercise, your muscles are going through a number of chemical reactions. Water is essential in many of these reactions, and if they don’t have the necessary ingredients, these reactions slow down. Think of water as lubrication for your muscles. Without it, you’re going to start getting less efficient.

Here’s an example – As you work out, your heart is going to be working harder than normal to get blood to your muscles. Water is the main ingredient in plasma found in your blood, which is responsible for moving chemical components around your body. Drinking more water means your body is going to be much better at getting things where they need to go.

So do yourself a favor the next time you hike up Dog Mountain: Bring a canteen of water with you! You will feel better, your body will be more efficient, and best of all, you’re exercising outdoors! You can’t lose when you’re enjoying the great weather this summer.

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!

Should you go to the gym today?

20150519_103451

Something I’ve heard numerous times as a personal trainer is “Should I go to the gym today?” Most of the time, the answer is a resounding “YES!” The grind includes the whole week, after all! But there are always exceptions to the rules, and there are times even I might say “consider staying home today.”

Here’s a few things to think about if you’re considering whether to show up to the gym, or whether you need to stay home for the day:

Do show up if you have never been to the gym before – Look, I get it. You don’t know where to start. You don’t understand what half the machines do. And worst of all, what will the other people there think?

Let me reveal something to you that many people don’t think about. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and even Brian Stecker had a first day working out. And they likely had no idea what they were doing at first. Everyone has to learn how to properly curl a dumbbell, how to do lunges, even how to do a push up correctly.

There’s no such thing as a dumb question. That’s what personal trainers at Boomer Fitness are here for, after all! We want you to succeed, and the first step in making that change in your life is asking “How do I do it?”

Do show up if you’re tired – It was a long day, and you have been stuck at work for eight hours. You just got home, and you know that as soon as you sit down on the sofa, you likely won’t be getting back up until it’s time for bed.

Wait! Don’t sit down. Get your gym clothes and get ready for the gym. Yes, I know you’re tired, and I know it was a long day. It might even be the last thing you want to do right now. But that’s the time you need this workout the most! The hardest part about going to the gym is getting out your front door. Once you’re at the gym, it’s a piece of cake! You’re here, you might as well make yourself busy. There will never be a workout that you regret doing.

Do show up if you’re sore – If you wake up and you’re sore from a prior workout, thats a good thing. Believe it or not, thats your body telling you that you’re making progress on your muscles. Instead of taking the time off, stretch before you start your time at the gym. You will notice that once you’re in the zone, you won’t feel as sore anymore.

Don’t come if you’re sore – There’s the good kind of sore, and there’s the bad kind of sore. That might seem contradictory, but there is a huge difference. Check out my blog post on the matter, and be sure to ask me or one of the personal trainers here about what the difference is. If you’re feeling the bad kind of sore, then do your body a favor: sit this one out for now.

Don’t come if you’re sick – I admire your dedication, I really do. Powering through your cold might seem like the right thing to do. But germs have a funny way of sharing themselves with your friends, especially if a location where you’re going to be exerting yourself.

Do yourself and your fellow gym goers a favor: keep your germs to yourself! Take the time that your sick to focus your ability on something you can do in your home. Do some stretches, or plan your nutrition for the week. Besides, the next time you come in, you will be 100% ready for the days challenge.

Fitness is about pushing yourself, even when heading to the gym is the last thing you want to do at this moment. If you’re tired, a little sore, or have never been to the gym before, then lets get started! But if you’re pushing yourself too far, or your body just isn’t up to it, there’s no shame in waiting until you’re physically up to the task.