Natural vs Unnatural Sugars

iStock_000012651702XSmallLast Tuesday, I wrote a bit about sugar and the dangers of consuming too much. Many of us are eating sugar without even knowing it, with many condiments and processed foods smuggling sugar into our diets.

There is such a thing as too much sugar, but does that mean you can cut them from your diet altogether? Well, not exactly. Carbohydrates, necessary to keeping your body energized, is a sugar! Give up carbs altogether, and you won’t have any energy to get through the day.

Now, you might be thinking I’m contradicting myself. How can I tell you to cut sugar from you diet, but then tell you that sugars like carbs are a necessity of life? There is a distinction between necessary sugars and excessive sugars, and it’s as simple as looking at the source.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

The biggest culprit in excessive sugar consumption is high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. HFCS is made primarily of corn, and is created when corn syrup undergoes a conversion process, changing some of its glucose to fructose. Because of the ease of processing, HFCS is used as a supplement in many processed foods for sweetness. You can find it in most sodas, processed desserts like Twinkies, and even in places you wouldn’t expect like energy bars or cereal.

There has recently been a lot of conflicting information regarding HFCS. Many sources will tell you that there are no dangers in HFCS, while others will tell you that its a poisonous bile you should avoid at all costs. As commonplace as it is, it’s hard to escape HFCS. But there are always alternatives to unnatural sources of sugar.

Natural Sugars 

Of course, sugar isn’t an unnatural product altogether. Many healthy foods, like fruits for example, naturally contain sugars. A single red delicious apple will naturally contain approximately 23 grams of sugar, and you will seldom hear a doctor telling you to stop eating fruits.

As I said before, carbohydrate sugars have a very important part in our lives, and it would be unhealthy to block out these energy sources completely. How can we get through our fitness regimen if our body doesn’t have the energy to do it?

I have a quick tip I tell some of my clients who are struggling with this: If you’re considering a food, look at the nutritional information on the back. If sugar comes up in the first few lines, put the box down and find something else to eat. If High Fructose Corn Syrup shows up, find something else to eat. If you see words that you have to sound out in your head, put the box down.

The ingredient sugar is not deadly, but sugar in high quantity is. As we make changes in our lives, especially in our diet, it is important to be aware of what we are fueling ourselves with. Trust me, I know that making the change from processed foods packed full of sugar will be difficult, but I also know it will be worth the change.

Be sure to ask any of the personal trainers at Boomer Fitness about how you can make a healthy change in your diet. And stay up to date on my blog for more details to come!

Good Supplements – Filling in the Gaps

iStock_000004424358XSmallLast Tuesday, I wrote a bit about the dangers of bad supplements, and how they can do a lot more damage than good. Things like carbohydrate blockers, unregulated testosterone boosters, and too many vitamins can cause harm to the way your body functions. Many don’t measure up to the outrageous claims made on late night tv commercials.

Many supplements can do damage, but that doesn’t mean all supplements deserve a bad rap. In fact, many supplements on the market can do a lot of good, depending on what your body needs and your diet might be lacking.

There are plenty of supplements in the market that are perfectly healthy, when taken in moderation and with the full knowledge of what you’re putting in your body. I could write a book about all the good supplements out there, but lets take a brief look at some of the well known supplements out there:

Whey Protein – When I bring up protein mixes, a lot of people initially think I’m trying to turn them into a muscle head or a body builder. Having extra protein in your diet isn’t going to automatically give you bulging muscles, but what it can do is help preserve your muscles after exercising.

Whey Protein is a great source of Branch Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs. These proteins reduce the amount of protein breakdown in your muscles. This means your muscles are going to recover faster after a workout, and promote muscle growth.

There are many, many different types of whey protein out on the market. There are even many types of protein mixtures other than whey you can use. I typically do not pay attention to the label as much as I do the nutritional information. Since it’s a protein mixture, I tend to choose mixtures that are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates.

Vitamin C – This particular vitamin has many uses throughout your body. From fighting colds to reducing pollutants, curing infections to promoting better blood flow, Vitamin C goes a long way to promoting healthy bodily function.

So how much is enough Vitamin C? As I wrote before, having too many vitamins can be a bad thing, but one to three grams of Vitamin C per day can go a long way toward promoting healthy body functions.

Green leafy vegetables and fruits like oranges and kiwis are very high in Vitamin C, and are a great natural source of the vitamin.

Fish Oil – This is a generalized supplement, but fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes healthy body function when paired with omega-6 acids. Because the common diet of red meats and eggs contain many omega-6 acids but not as many omega-3s, having a healthy boost of omega-3 acids can reduce the risk of diabetes, reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, and even reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Again, supplements should not be taken in excess, as fish oil can also raise levels of cholesterol. But when taken in moderation, the omega-3s found in this oil can be very beneficial.

Of course, the big question comes to mind: do I need to take these supplements? And the answer is of course not! Supplements do nothing but add nutrients to your body that you might not normally get in your everyday diet. There are no miracle cures that will automatically give you the body of Wonderwoman. But what supplements can do is fill in a few gaps you might have in your every day diet. They won’t do the hard work for you, but it might give you a little extra help.

No matter what though, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements of any kind. And be sure to talk to me about any supplements you might be considering! I am happy to share my two cents on any and all supplements out there.

The Benefits of TRX and the Baby Boomer

As a baby boomer you may like the convenience of having an exercise system you can take with you. One that will allow you the opportunity to work your muscles, boost your metabolism, and that is easy to use. Well, that’s where the TRX Suspension Trainer comes in handy!

The TRX Suspension Trainer is a good pick for those baby boomers who want a convenient, easy to use, muscle-building piece of equipment that can be taken anywhere. If you are familiar with resistance bands, you will have an idea of what the system is like. You can do some of the same exercises on it as you can resistance bands.

At around $200, the TRX Suspension Trainer comes with a host of benefits, including:

It is lightweight, making it easy to carry around. You can take it with you when you travel, so you always have an effective way to get your workout in. It can easily be stored as well.

Using it is simple. All you need is a closed door to hook it to. The video it comes with shows you different exercises you can do. Once you get used to them, you can take it anywhere and do them on your own.

This system is also good for helping to improve balance and flexibility. Many baby boomers struggle with balance issues, so doing exercises that help to improve it is recommended.

The TRX Suspension Trainer will give you a good, and effective, workout. It will work all the muscles in your body, helping to build muscle, as well as boost your metabolism. It provides a total body workout, yet it’s a small portable system.

It can be used for any fitness level. So although some avid athletes may use it in a class at the gym, it is also a solid pick for baby boomer’s looking for an effective exercise system at home or for traveling.

If you are like most baby boomers, you could benefit from a convenient exercise system that can easily be stored, as well as used for traveling. Some gyms also offer it as group exercise classes, where you can get the chance to try it before you buy it. The TRX provides this and more, making it worth considering. It will give you the chance to do hundreds of different exercises, working everything from your abs and glutes to your hips and thighs.

 

An Interview with Personal Trainer, Brian Stecker

Brian Stecker is a certified personal trainer who specializes in helping baby boomers achieve fitness. When he is not busy with his clients in the gym, he is working on his blog, getting the fitness message out there in a variety ways, and even creating videos that demonstrate how to make some healthy recipes!

Q. What made you want to focus on the baby boomer area of fitness?

A. The baby boomers, those people who were born after 1940, make up a large portion of our population. They are also often overlooked by many people who are on a mission to help people become more fit. The number one reason I like to work with them is mobility. It is important to baby boomers in order to stay independent and maintain longevity. One my biggest motivations for focusing on the baby boomer area was my grandfather. While he was once able to get around the farm doing all the things he had always been used to doing, like milking cows and working in the fields, he ended up needing knee surgery and then struggled to do the things he was used to doing. I realized by watching how he struggled, that we often learn our fitness habits from our parents. Baby boomers didn’t have the solution, which is why Americans are struggling so much, and I want to focus on that and help them. In doing so, my goal is that they will be able to maintain doing all those things they have always loved doing.

Q. What is your fitness plan with helping baby boomers start out?

A. When a baby boomer first gets started in adopting a fitness routine, it is always best to work with a personal trainer. What I do with my clients is to help them get off to a good start that will help prevent injuries, but will also help them meet their goals and progress at a pace that is challenging, but appropriate for their current fitness level.

Q. Why is there an emphasis on helping baby boomers build strength?

A. Having a strong body will help reduce risks of injuries from falls, and will help keep people mobile, active and independent. With aging, people often fear losing their mobility and independence. Maintaining a strong, active body can help to prevent this from happening.

Q. What is the typical mindset of a baby boomer when it comes to fitness?

A. I find that most of them that I work with are surprised what they are actually capable of achieving. Society has led them to believe that it is time to take a seat and rest. Once I start working with them, I am able to change their mind set and show them that they are able to achieve fitness goals, and their body is much better off for doing so.

Q. What is your background with fitness?

A. I have been a personal trainer for 10 years, working with mostly baby boomers, and I have a degree in exercise science strength and conditioning.

Q. What is one thing you want baby boomers to know about fitness?

A. Getting fit, and working out regularly, is the best possible way that you can turn back the clock. It will help your body get in shape, keep you feeling great, and is the best anti-aging solution that there is. Baby boomers who keep active and work out add years to their life, help maintain their mobility and independence, and just all around feel better, making it so worthwhile!

 

A Healthy You Starts With Food

As I was walking in the park today I happened to notice an overweight man puffing through the park, obviously in a hurry. He was sweating and red in the face and he was shoving what looked like the remains of a street vendor hotdog down his throat.
I stopped to sit on a bench for a bit and started paying attention to the other pedestrians enjoying the sunny fall day. As I watched I saw another man, older then the first one, walking his terrier and eating a pretzel. You know what I’m talking about? Those huge ones that you dip in cheese sauce? As I watched him I noticed two things. One he was overweight. Two, so was his dog. I guess walking and eating junk doesn’t work. For man or beast!

I scanned the park looking for one person who was eating something healthy, and there she was. The woman every man dreams about. She was dressed as a business woman, but that didn’t hide the fact that she had a greatly toned and fit body. I tried to see what she was eating, but her bench was a ways down from mine. As nonchalantly as I could, I walked to her way. I just knew she was going to be eating something healthy and sure enough, there she was with a bag of carrots, almonds and celery. I tried not to stare, but I had to. She was eating those vegetables as if they were pieces of chocolate! She was enjoying them!

Before she could yell stalker, I continued my walk through the park, but my mind wasn’t interested in the surroundings anymore. I was thinking about what people eat and how it shapes who they are.
It seemed that anybody I saw who looked to be in good shape was eating or drinking something healthy. Those who were overweight or just had a flabby and unhealthy look to them, were eating some type of junk food.

A walk for exercise is a great thing; any type of exercise is a great thing. But if you’re not eating healthy then none of that matters.
A good balance of grains, wheat, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meats is the healthiest way to eat. Need to eat on the run? Keep granola, yogurt and fresh cut veggies handy. You don’t need to go hungry to be healthy — in fact, that is very unhealthy! You just need to find the right balance.

A perfect plated meal should look like this:
Half of your plate should be full of fruit, vegetables or a salad
A quarter of your plate should be a lean protein, such as fish or chicken
The remaining quarter should contain a healthy carb, such as whole wheat rice
Top your meal off with fat free milk and your full AND healthy!

No Time? NO Excuse!

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Sure, so many of us want to get fit, we want to get healthy and we want the fit body.  But so many of us come up with every excuse NOT to do the exercise we need to do, to achieve it.

When it comes to exercise, as a personal trainer, I’ve heard all the excuses!  But up there with the best is the excuse of not having enough time.

They say to shoot for 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day 3-5 days each week for weight loss and health benefits.  Now, that isn’t really a lot of time when you think about it(less then 3% of your total time if you think about it), but still, people cry and complain on about not having the time for that.

If that’s you and you find it a struggle fitting half an hour into your schedule 3-5 times per week, listen up.  Your luck is about to change…or is it?

No time is NO excuse anymore!  It’s all thanks to findings coming out of London.  In the UK, some experts say that you can squeeze (wait for it), an entire week’s workout into (sit down for this one)…less than an hour!

That’s right!  Less than an hour!  There goes your excuse of having no time, because it’s just not an excuse anymore.

So how is it possible to do a week’s worth of exercise in just under an hour?

It’s all thanks to a little thing called interval training.  Interval training was initially developed for Olympic athletes.  Basically it involves intense exercise in short bursts, and originally, it was thought to be too intense for normal people of low to average fitness levels.

Further research though in recent years has found that interval training can in fact help not-so-fit people – even older people and those with health problems – lose weight and get fit.

So what does intense interval training actually involve?

Basically, it involves you working very hard for just a few minutes, with rest periods in between these few minute bursts.  The research over recent years has involved intense running or biking, but intense interval training can also include activities like swimming or rowing.

Exercise Expert, Jan Helgerud from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology recommends trying four sessions lasting four minutes each – with a recovery time of three minutes between the sessions.

So, how do you feel after this intense exercise session?

According to Helgerud, “You should be a little out of breath, but you shouldn’t have the obvious feeling of exhaustion”.

Interval training will help you see results a lot faster, but it’s important that you stick to the routine, like everything.  Interval training will work wonders for your fitness levels, by doubling your endurance and improving your oxygen use and strength by more than 10 percent.  Speed can also be increased by 5 percent.

The short, intense bursts of activity are just what your body needs to build your muscles which will create a higher metabolism for you.  That means your body will burn fat and carbohydrates for hours after your few minutes of exercise.

So you can imagine the positive effect this will have for you once it becomes second nature.

I recommend you do the four minutes of intense activity for four minutes at a time, with the three minute recovery between each session.  Do this at least once per week, and combined with a healthy, balanced diet, see the great results that will come about.

If you enjoyed this article.  Meet with a local 24 hour fitness trainer to create your very own specific interval plan today.

No time is NO excuse!  You CAN set aside 25 minutes in one week!

LET US KNOW YOUR FEEDBACK.  WE LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

My Take on Weight Loss Supplements and Weight Loss

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If you’ve decided to drop the extra pounds you’re carrying and lose weight for life, chances are you’ve probably done your fair share of internet surfing to find the easiest way to do it.  If easy is high on your priority list, no doubt you’ve checked out weight loss supplements.  And perhaps like millions of people each year, you probably loved the idea of the weight “simply melting off in no time, with hardly any effort.”

As the old saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” and as a personal trainer, I’m afraid to break it to you.  There is no magic pill (pardon the pun) when it comes to weight loss.

Sure, we’ve heard all about supplements like Hoodia and seen the dramatic (in my view, over dramatic!) before and after shots of devotees who apparently swear by the supplement.  But the thing is – like most products in the weight loss industry – supplements aren’t meant to work long term.

Here are the two big ones that many weight loss supplements claim:

  • You don’t have to worry about dieting:  This is rubbish that appeals to people who don’t want to control what they eat.  Fact is, you need to get your metabolism on side to get the weight off and keep it off.  To do that, you need to fuel your body up with the right foods at the right time.  This means cutting back on carbs, cutting out processed foods and consuming lots of fruit and veggies – in addition to healthy carbs, good fats and of course, lean proteins.  If you’re time poor or stressed about changing your dietary habits, you won’t like the sound of this – but it’s the only way!
  • You don’t have to do any exercise:  This is totally wrong!  No diet pill will help you to burn the calories needed to rid your body of excess fat and keep it off – none!  All a pill may do is elevate your heart rate somewhat, but that’s about it.  Frequent exercise will help you to burn the calories you need to lose weight and keep it off – and by regularly exercising, you’ll increase your energy levels, help your resting metabolism so it burns fat even when you’re resting and build muscle which also helps you to burn fat and keep weight off.  Pills don’t do this.

By changing your lifestyle to include a healthy diet and healthy dose of exercise, you’ll not only get the weight off – you’ll keep it off for life.

And trust me.  No pill will do this for you.  The weight loss supplement companies don’t care about you.  They simply want to make money and keep people overweight, so they can keep making money!

After saying all of this though, it’s totally fine for you to supplement your healthy diet with vitamin supplements if you’re finding yourself lacking a bit.  And yes, it’s okay for you to have a meal replacement shake every once in awhile – but only as part of a healthy and balanced diet.  The shakes recommend this anyway.

Remember, 30 days is all it takes to get you well and truly into the habit of healthy – so start today!