Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Q. Help me, Brian! Every year during the holidays I end up gaining a few pounds. I’ve done so well this year with my eating and working out. I’m so scared that I’m going to put on the pounds and all my hard work will be out the window.

 

 

A. I know exactly how you feel! But don’t despair, there is hope. Many of my baby boomer clients come to me every time the calendar hits November. It does not mean that you have to be one of the ones that gain weight. Instead, put the breaks on that idea right now while it’s on your mind.

The average person tends to gain up to five pounds throughout the holidays of Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. And it makes sense why this happens. Everywhere you turn there are foods that you typically don’t eat throughout the year. Just thinking about all the goodies that are set out during the holidays is enough to add a few pounds to the scale!

So here are some things you can do during these holidays in order to avoid gaining those extra pounds:

  • Be picky. If you are determined to nosh when you head to parties try to do it with a healthy outlook. Choose those foods that have less calories, such as baked foods, rather than fried ones. Skip the breads that are set out, as well as piling on the gravies. All these foods can be loaded with calories that you may not be aware of.
  • Go full. When you know you will be attending a party or gathering, eat something healthy before you arrive. That’s right, I am suggesting you show up with food already in the tank. If you do this, you will have eaten healthy at home, and will only be able to do some light snacking at the party. This can save you a lot of calories over the course of the night.
  • Go small. Choose a small plate to fill up with. This way you can try a little of all the things you want to try, but you will avoid being tempted to overload the plate. If there isn’t one available, then fill half of your plate with healthy, low fat veggies, and then the other half with a mixture of items you really want.
  • Change the focus. Food doesn’t have to be the focus of the gathering or celebration. Turn your focus to socializing with others and having fun, rather than focusing on the food.

Whatever you do, don’t go to a party or holiday gathering with an empty stomach. If you do, you will probably end up regretting it, because you will fill your plate up with eye-appealing items that may contributing to packing on the pounds. The more you plan ahead when it comes to healthy eating throughout the holidays, the better off you will be with avoiding holiday weight gain!

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Got flabby arms? No problem, here’s how to get rid of them!

Many people struggle with flabby arms, otherwise known as bat wings, back wings, and even grandma arms. The names are not flattering, but most people that have them don’t exactly find them flattering either. The good news is that there are ways that you can get rid of flabby arms, whether you are baby boomer or not!

Flabby arms are not just something that those overweight may deal with, although that it one reason that people have them. Those who have lost a lot of weight may also have flabby arms, as do some thinner people who have just never taken any measure to tone their arms. If you do nothing with your arms, there is a good chance that they will be flabby, or at least not very tone. But you can change all that.

Here are a few ways you can fight back against flabby arms:

  • Arm rotations. This is an exercise you can do without any weights. When you are standing around somewhere, simply put your arms at your sides and do rotation exercises. Rotate your arms, clockwise and counter-clockwise, repeating a dozen or so times. This is something you can easily do when you are standing around killing time.
  • Push-ups. Doing push-ups is a great way to strengthen your upper arm muscles, among other areas of your body. Each day, do a couple of reps of push-ups to help get rid of flabby arms.
  • Free weights. Using free weights is a good way to help tone arms and reduce flab. You can use some small dumbbells to do some dumbbell presses. Try holding them, as you sit in a chair, and hold them behind your head, slowly lifting to straighten out your arms. Do this a dozen times at each sitting.
  • Lose weight. If you have the flabby arms as a result of needing to lose weight, try to shed some pounds and then also follow the above steps. You can lose weight by eating healthy and exercising regularly.

As a personal trainer, I often work with people who start out having flabby arms. But with some attention to them and getting active, they are usually quite happy with the results they get. Flabby arms may be embarrassing to you, but they don’t have to be. Start making a point to do something at least 3-4 days per week to address your flabby arms, and in time you will see results.

Be sure to use a tape measure and measure around your arms when you get started doing these exercise. Then be sure to take another measurement each month, so you can monitor your progress. With some dedicated arm attention, you will say goodbye to flabby arms!

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Going After the Enemy – Osteoporosis

My goal as a personal trainer is to help you, and all the baby boomers that I work with regularly, to get healthier. In order to do that, we have to go after a lot of the “enemies,” such as osteoporosis. The more you know about this common bone disease, the more you can do to help prevent becoming a victim to it!

 

Osteoporosis is the term given to the condition where one’s bones density and tissue have thinned over time. It can happen when the body does not form new bone, or if too much bone has been reabsorbed by the body. The loss is something that typically happens over years. For women, the leading cause of osteoporosis is a reduction in estrogen during menopause, while for men it’s a reduction in testosterone.

The scary truth about osteoporosis is that 44 million people have low bone mass, while 10 million people have the disease itself. Of this, 80 percent of the people are women. There are around 12 million baby boomers who have osteoporosis. While we lose bone mass over time, by the time we reach 60 we have become susceptible to fractures.

Some of the common factors for osteoporosis include being white, being female, being small, being a senior citizen, not being physically active, and not eating a diet high in calcium. The good news when dealing with this issue is that even if you are baby boomer there are things you can do to take on this enemy and win. Here are some of the things you can do to address osteoporosis:

Put the cigarette out for good. Quitting smoking is a priority in combating osteoporosis.

Reduce the amount of alcohol you consume to no more than two glasses per day. Excessive drinking of alcohol increases your osteoporosis risks.

Cut back on caffeine, as it can lead to bone depletion. It is not just the coffee that you need to watch, but also things like soda, tea, and even fluoric acid.

Watch the amount of protein that you eat. Consuming too much protein can help put you at risk for osteoporosis. When it comes to eating meat, for example, watch portion sizes, keeping to the size of a deck of cards as a serving.

Get more sunlight. Your body needs sunlight in order to produce Vitamin D, which helps produce strong bones. If you don’t live in a sunny climate, take a supplement.

Another important way to take on osteoporosis and win is by engaging in exercise, especially strength training. It’s an effective and healthy way to build bone mass and keep yourself healthy. In my next post I will share with you a winning exercise plan for battling osteoporosis!

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Going After the Enemy – The Silent Killer, Part II

In my last post I shared information with you about the silent killer, otherwise known as hypertension. If you are familiar with the term high blood pressure, then you know exactly what hypertension is. It’s known as a silent killer, and one that we can take on and win!

As a personal trainer, I am going to share with you what I tell clients. There are few things that a good exercise routine can not make better. Hypertension, believe it or not, is one of those things. Keeping a regular exercise routine can help you improve your blood pressure numbers, which will help you be healthier and help avoid being another hypertension statistic.

So here’s a few pointers to keep in mind when it comes to exercising and blood pressure:

First off, it’s important to remember that you cannot exercise if you forget to take your medication. It’s essential that you remember your medication, if you are taking a prescribed one for high blood pressure.

Checking your blood pressure to get your reading is essential. Ideally you should be doing it before, during and after exercise.

If you are exercising and see that your systolic number goes above 250 or the diastolic goes above 110, stop exercising immediately.

Keep in mind that if you take blood pressure medication it is going to have an impact on your heart rate, due to the beta blockers. They slow your heart rate, which means you may not be able to reach your target heart rate, despite your best efforts.

You should also avoid exercises like isometric decline positions and putting your arms higher than your head.

As for the amount of exercise you should be doing, stick to doing cardio exercise 3-7 days per week and aim to burn around 2,000 calories. Try to stick to an intensity level of 40-70 percent VO2 maximum. When you are biking, walking, or hiking, you have a variety of cardio options to choose from. Also, be sure to include circuit training, as well as flexibility training three days per week. Try engaging in Tai Chi, which will be quite helpful.

Knowing is half the battle, right? And now you know! I know you are a baby boomer, but it’s never too late to take action, especially when it comes to making yourself healthier. I work with clients on a regular basis who are senior citizens and are ready to get their health under control. It’s never too late! You can win the war on this silent killer. It’s a matter of making lifestyle changes and sticking with them!

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An Exercise Plan to Improve Your Cholesterol Numbers

In the last post we looked at what the cholesterol numbers and ranges mean. You also learned that you can go after the enemy, cholesterol in this case, through a variety of ways, including exercise. Sure, some people may just opt for a prescription drug, a statin, in order to lower their cholesterol. But honestly, that does nothing to address the problem, it’s merely putting a bandage over it. The best thing to do is address it head on, and being a personal trainer, exercise is an area that I’m urging you to focus on!

First, it is important to realize how exercise is going to help you improve your cholesterol numbers. It’s a two-fold process really, because:

Exercise will help you lose weight and improve overall health, leading to a reduction in your LDL, or lousy, cholesterol levels.

Exercise will raise HDL, or healthy, cholesterol levels. This will help to protect your heart and keep your body healthy.

So now you know the virtues of exercising and what it will do to improve your cholesterol numbers. Here are my professional recommendations for getting started with an exercise program:

Your goal should be to do cardio exercises (those that get your heart pumping) 3-7 days per week, with a goal to burn 1,500-2,000 throughout the course of the week.

Your intensity level should be between 40-70 percent of your VO2. Your VO2 is the oxygen consumption, or your cardio-respiratory fitness level. There are online calculators that will help you determine this rate.

Start out by doing two short sessions that are 20 minutes each, then progress to two sessions that are 40-60 minutes each. You can start with low impact exercises, such as walking, bicycling, or general gardening.

Be sure to include some strength training into your schedule. You should be doing this 2-4 times per week, working every major part of the body. Do 10-15 reps for 1-3 sets.

Start out with the machines targeting flexibility. Do it just enough to feel the stretch and hold it for 10-30 seconds. This is a good way to involve static active stretching into your routine.

So are you ready to be the kind of senior citizen that forgoes the statins and uses exercise and other lifestyle changes to lower your cholesterol level? Great! Start out by doing these exercises above, and before you know it, you will see some improvement. Not only will your numbers be better, but you will surely see other positive results as well!

Warm-Up

Workout for Mon & Thur

Workout for Tue & Fri

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Acting and Thinking Your Age? Change the Paradigm!

As we age people often believe that you have to act a certain way. But when you think about it, do you really need to act so different at 60 than you did at say 45 or 50? I’m hear to say that you do not need to. This is something that needs to be said. You do not need to match your age with how you act. I propose that it’s time we shift the paradigm and start aging in place.

It’s time to start showing who the baby boomers are and taking more control over what a baby boomer is capable of doing. Change what someone thinks of when they consider how a baby boomer acts. Young boomers may be 45-55, while older baby boomers are 55-65, but age is merely a number.

Think about how long you can expect to live. The average life expectancy today is 77.8-80 years old. So if you are 65-70, why would you walk around acting like you are old? You shouldn’t be. You can help redefine what baby boomers do and how they act.

The scary truth about age is that 85 percent of baby boomers will get a chronic disease by the time they reach the age of 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You name it, the risks are there, and they are getting everything from hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and cancer. Sadly 75 percent will end up dying from these diseases, especially when they involve coronary heart disease and cancer.

Remember when I said it’s time to age in place? Well, doing that gives you hope! You can make changes that will help you prevent these problems. Most of the diseases that we die from are preventable through lifestyle changes. One of the most important things you can do, no matter what age you are, is to start exercising regularly. Exercising can’t fix a disease, but it can sure go a long way toward prevention. It allows you to function on your own as you age and will help give you a better quality of life as a senior citizen.

The key to how baby boomers act is in your hands. You can choose to take a seat and say you are getting “old” and can’t do what you used to, or you can choose to be active. By choosing to be active, you will age in place, which will keep you feeling good, looking good, and enjoying your senior years!

Healthy Drinks That Aren’t So Healthy After All

In our quest to get fit and be healthy, we have plenty of products to choose from today. Walk into any store, or even gas station, and the coolers are stocked with healthy drink options. But are they really so healthy? Not quite! Some products that are either being marketed as healthy, or gaining a reputation as it, are not so healthy at all, and may even be doing more damage than you realize!

Many so-called health drinks end up containing too much sugar, artificial sweeteners, and even artificial colors. These are all things that you don’t want, or need, and they may end up doing damage to your body if you reach for them long term. In fact, some may help increase the aging process. Energy drinks, for example, one can of the popular Rockstar energy drink will pump about 23 grams of sugar into you! That’s not something you want when you are trying to get healthy.

Some of the drinks you have to watch out for, that seem healthy enough, but actually are not, include:

Energy drinks

Vitamin water

Diet soft drinks

Any type of “diet” drink

Fruit juice (many appear as juice, but are only 10 percent juice and have high fructose corn syrup)

Some smoothies (depends on what they put in them)

Tea

Sports drinks

At first glance these drinks seem like they would be healthy enough. What’s wrong with tea, after all? Tea is very healthy for you and loaded with antioxidants. But when you buy it pre-made in a bottle or can, or you get it in some restaurants, it may be loaded up with sugar. Same with fruit juice and the other drinks, although they may contain some antioxidants or vitamins, such as the vitamin waters, they usually tend to have more sugar than you should sit around consuming.

So what should you drink? Your first best option is water! Water is the best way to hydrate your body, it is naturally calorie-free and doesn’t contain sugar. If you need a little something in it, try a lemon, lime, or other fruit slice. You could also occasionally have a mixed drink of seltzer with just a small splash of 100 percent fruit juice. Also, making home brewed tea, especially green tea, is a healthy drink, provided you don’t put a bunch of sugar in it. It has a lot of antioxidants that help to keep your body healthy!

 

Eat Your Vegetables In the Form of Pizza?

There’s no doubt that every baby boomer out there knows that eating their vegetables is a good thing. Not only are they loaded with much-needed nutrients, but they have been proven to help you live a longer, healthier life along the way. Did you know that you can now eat your vegetables in the form of pizza, according to our government! It’s true! But before you run to the local pizza hot spot and grab a few slices to get your daily servings of veggies in, let’s take a closer look at this.

In President Obama’s quest to make school lunches healthier, a good thing, he has hit some snags. Guess who didn’t like it? You got it, those who make money off the foods that are slopped onto those school trays! The companies selling the schools frozen pizzas, for example, would stand to lose money if school lunches were made healthier. After all, those pizzas they serve in the schools are loaded with fat, calories, cholesterol, and salt.

So in an effort to keep the pizza on the menu, and companies happy, our government has declared that pizza is now a vegetable. Yup, even you raised an eyebrow reading that, but you did read it correctly. Congress has declared that pizza is a vegetable and that serving it up in school lunch lines is perfectly fine. In all actually, they are labeling the sauce as a vegetable, which allows the school to keep serving it (you know the tiny little bit of sauce hidden under all that cholesterol and fat-laden cheese).

While our focus should be on helping our next generation of citizens get healthier by really increasing the vegetables they consume, lowering their salt intake, and keeping them active, we are now making it seem as though even our government doesn’t know what healthy food is. Make no mistake, pizza, even with the little bit of tomato sauce that it contains, is not a vegetable! It doesn’t count as a vegetable serving and shouldn’t be treated as such. Pizza is not health food. Sure, it tastes good and eaten in moderation can be okay, but we should never confuse it with being healthy, or um, a vegetable.

Sorry Congress, but this is just one more thing you all have gotten wrong. And this decision will not help the country’s children reduce the obesity rates they are experiencing. Pizza as a veggie, really? What next, chocolate gets declared a protein source?

 

How to Stay Cold and Flu Free So You Can Keep Training

It’s that time of the year when millions of people will come down with colds and the flu. So that means it is also the time of year for you to take extra precaution in order to help protect yourself. The viruses that cause cold and flu are all around, but there are things we can do in order to help avoid them and stay healthy. And when we stay healthy it means we can keep up with our workouts!

 

Here are some things you can do to avoid getting colds and the flue this year:

Wash your hands frequently. Germs are everywhere, and those germs contain the viruses that will make you sick. Become a frequent hand washer, making sure to wash for 20 seconds each time. Also, be sure to keep your hands away from your nose and mouth as much as possible.

Exercise regularly. This is one that I really like because it is just one more good reason for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Working out regularly builds your immunity and strengthens your immune system. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of cardio each day.

Some things can help to cut down on the amount of time symptoms will last, should you get them, such as zinc lozenges, Vitamin and Vitamin B complex.

Eat yogurt, as well as foods that contain phytochemicals, such as fruits and vegetables.

Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, so that it flushes your system out.

Avoid smoking and cut down on alcohol consumption.

Take the time to relax and de-stress. Maybe add a yoga or Tai Chi class to your schedule, just to focus on relaxation, which will support your immune system. Other options to help manage stress include journaling, breathing exercises, and joining social groups, which provides a chance to laugh and have fun.

Some people opt for acupuncture as a method to help avoid getting sick. You could look into that and see what it does for you.

While there are some people who get several colds per year, there are others who haven’t had one in years. It’s usually not a coincidence that those people don’t ever get sick. Usually it is something they are doing that helps to boost their immune system and keep them healthy. The more you can do to help keep your body healthy, the more you can stay focused on your fitness goals!

How to Keep Rocking Your New Year’s Resolution

So you are a few weeks into your New Year’s Resolution. If you are like millions of other people, especially baby boomers, your resolutions include some important goals about fitness, weight loss, and healthy living. Nothing wrong with that, but how are you doing with them? Don’t tell me that you have given up already, like so many people do!

You know why so many people give up on those goals so quickly? Because they approach them in all the wrong ways. Rather than approaching fitness in a way that will create long term success, many people, right after the start of the New Year, will throw themselves into a routine. They work out hard, likely on a daily basis, and before you know it, they are burned out, tired, and maybe even a little bored. But one thing is for certain, many will have dropped out of the gym and moved beyond their fitness goals.

No matter where you are with your resolutions, whether you are still going along steadily or you have already forgotten about them, it’s not too late to take some steps to strengthen that resolve. Here are some things you can do to keep rocking those New Year’s resolutions you made:

Re-evaluate your goals. If you started out with them being too harsh, back it off and take it nice and slow. This will get you into a habit and create long term successful habits.

Write your goals down. That way you have to really think about them. Also, write down what you will do to make them happen.

Seek out a support system. Whether it is family members, friends, or an online fitness buddy, find someone you can discuss your goals with and can hold each other accountable.

Take the time to reward yourself for whatever little goals you may have achieved. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, reward yourself each time you lose five of it. Choose non-food rewards, such as fitness equipment, new shoes, or songs for your iPod.

Start small, but get started. Rather than thinking about what you want to do, just get started, even if it is small changes that you incorporate.

Be sure to include resistance training along with your cardio workouts. If you just focus on cardio workouts, you are not going to get the total results that you are actually seeking.

Remember that it takes around 30 days in order to create a new habit. Give yourself 30 days of following a fitness routine and healthy eating pattern. Once you do that, your resolutions should be on autopilot. You will be feeling good and working out will be a regular part of your routine!