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!

Dig Into Strength: How Baby Boomers Can Improve Strength

Do you have difficulty walking up the steps? What about making dinner? If you find these things a lot more difficult than you used to it is time to take action. Believe it or not, you can get your strength back, even as a baby boomer. You do not have to take a loss of strength sitting down. Now is the time to stand up and fight… now is the time to dig in!

As a personal trainer in Vancouver, Washington who helps numerous baby boomers I address the strength issue on a regular basis. Yes, it’s true that if you do not work at it you will lose strength as you age. In fact, you will lose about 30 percent of your strength in the years that follow turning 50 years old. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get that strength back, but it takes you being proactive in making it happen.

Many people think that you only hit the gym and lift weights if you want to be a body builder. Not so! The strength training that you will do in the gym will help you be able to climb those stairs better, or make it easier to tackle making dinner. You can use free weights, elastic bands, or exercise machines. The key is to have some resistance, because that resistance is going to help you build and maintain your muscle mass.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to increasing your strength:

  • Make sure you start with mobility. Without first focusing on improving your mobility you will find it difficult to take on the next step of strength training. Once you have addressed the mobility issue you are ready to move on.

 

  • Get a program to help you increase your strength level. The key here is that you have to make sure it is focusing on your weak areas. If you cannot identify them work with a personal trainer so you get the results you are after.
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    Use a progressive overload approach, which will keep your body from bulking up or getting bigger. Instead, you will set goals of getting stronger and focus on meeting them.

 

  • Take action. This is the most important part. You can talk all day long about what needs to be done and why, but it will be worthless if it is not put into action. If you want to see results you must get a program and put it into action.

Getting older does not have to mean getting weaker. You can stop the loss of muscle and gain some strength back again. But you have to be proactive in making it happen. Whether you work with me, through my Vancouver, Washington personal training for baby boomers, or you do it with someone else, your strength training goals can be achieved. They also make a big difference in your quality of life, making them a goal worth fighting for!

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!

Need some motivation? Check out Nike+ FuelBand!

As a certified personal trainer who works with a range of baby boomers seeking to improve their fitness level, I am always on the lookout for those tools and tips that will help give them an added edge. With the Nike+ FuelBand, I think I may have found a great option!

The Nike+ FuelBand is a concept that many people, baby boomers as well as others, who want to reach fitness goals have needed for a long time. It is a new fitness tracking device created by a leader in the fitness industry, Nike. While there may be other fitness tracking devices on the market, the Nike+ FuelBand is well worth considering.

The Nike+ FuelBand looks like a bracelet or watch, but what it does is actually help you get fit, because it tracks your physical activity each day. But that’s not all. Here are the main things that the band does to ultimately help you get fit:

The band tracks your activity throughout the day. It’s going to let you know how many steps you have taken, how many calories you have burned, and what amount of time you were active. For many people, this is crucial feedback in their quest to get fit.

The Nike+ FuelBand allows you to challenge yourself. Let’s say you walk 5,000 steps in one day, but you want to get up to 7,000. The band is a great tool for challenging yourself to do better than you did the day before, to meet new goals.

All of the information collected by the band can be synced wirelessly. They offer a mobile app to do this. The entire process is simple, making it that much more probable that people will actually stick with evaluating the gathered information.

The Nike+ FuelBand has been designed exactly for those who want to become more physically active, making it ideal for the baby boomer. You don’t need to be a top-notch athlete to use or benefit from this fitness-tracking device.

Overall, the Nike+ FuelBand is a quality product with a lot of promise in terms of what it can do to keep people motivated about getting physically fit. The band costs around $150, but for those that will use it, it’s worth the investment. The band gives you the daily feedback you need in order to stay on track, challenge yourself, and meet your goals!

 

January Fitness Fail – The Truth About the Gung Ho Approach to Fitness

By far January has to be the busiest time of year at the health clubs across the nation. Everyone wants to start out the New Year with resolutions to get fit, lose weight, and live a healthy lifestyle. That’s great, it really is! But what happens is that people usually take what I like to call a “gung ho” approach to fitness, and that isn’t exactly the best route to take!

The gung ho approach is when you have someone who has not had exercise be a part of their life and then overnight they dedicate an hour each day to it. Sounds like it might be a great thing, but in actuality, it tends to backfire. As a personal trainer I’m the gym a lot and see this happen. People start out all gung ho, working out like crazy.

Heck, you can’t even get a treadmill at the gym half the time in January because it’s so busy! Usually there’s not a free weight in site during this month either. Everyone is working out frantically, pushing their limits and hitting the gym. Fast forward to about the third week of January, and it seems like everything in the gym is available! What happened to everyone?

What happens, year after year, is that most people start out with the best of intentions and then tend to falter as time goes on. They give up, they decide it was too hard, too time consuming, or too something else. There are as many reasons for why they quit within the first few weeks as there are people who sign up to begin the gym membership each January.

The gung ho approach is all about being overly excited in getting started in fitness. While I want you to be excited about working toward fitness, I don’t want you to go gung ho on your approach. It fails, and with it, so will your goals for fitness. Instead, you need to have a plan that will be long lasting. Change little things at a time, such as the way you eat, and start working out by easing your way into it. Not everyone is at the same fitness level, or has the same goals, so not everyone can start out doing the same thing.

The best way to assess this, and get off to the right start, is to work with a personal trainer. A personal trainer will evaluate your current level of fitness, determine reasonable goals, and develop a plan to help you get there.

When you take a more reasonable approach to fitness, you are more likely to still be in the gym come February. And once you reach those goals, you need to find new ways to challenge yourself in order to remain interested and motivated. That’s another area that a personal trainer can work with you. So forget going gung ho and throwing yourself into the gym full force. Instead, have a plan that will be effective and you will be successful at!

 

 

Heart Health – Loving Yourself this February

February is known as American Heart Month. It’s a good time to raise awareness about heart issues, such as heart disease and heart attacks. Because it is such an important issue that effects so many people, it is crucial to take steps to protect your heart. The statistics surrounding heart disease are astounding to stay the least. For example, in the time it takes you to read this blog post, there will probably be four people who have a coronary event and two people who die from one.

That’s right, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every 25 seconds someone in America has a coronary event, and every minute someone dies from one. In 2011 alone, there were 785,000 people in America who had a coronary heart attack. It is the leading cause of death in the country, for both men and women. The more you know about it, and what you can do to protect your heart, the better!

Heart disease is largely a problem of lifestyle. Sure, there can be a few hereditary and other factors thrown into the mix, but for the majority of people it simply comes down to the way we live our lives and the choices we make. Here are some things you can do to love your heart and protect it, so that it helps to protect you:

Get tested. Get a cholesterol test done to see what’s going on with your arteries. It will give you information about if your arteries are clean and clear or have a build up that can be of concern. Cut back, or avoid, those foods that will raise your cholesterol, such as meat and dairy products.

Eat healthy. While you may be able to get away with having some treats here and there, it is important that the majority of time you are reaching for healthy foods. This includes whole grains, lean sources of protein, and plenty of fruits and veggies. Also be sure to watch your sodium intake and keep alcohol to a minimum.

Get active. Even baby boomers today are joining gyms, working with personal trainers such as myself, and getting fit. Doing exercise and keeping physically active is a great way to help keep your heart healthy. Aim to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day of the week.

Avoid smoking. If you smoke, find a successful method for quitting. If you don’t, try to limit your exposure to secondhand smoke, which the CDC reports can trigger a heart attack.

When it comes to taking care of your body, you have to have heart. And getting a healthier heart, no matter what age you are now, is within reach. Don’t become a one of the statistics of people who have a heart attack. Instead, focus on what you can do to protect your heart, and start making steps every day toward achieving those goals!

 

 

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.

 

Gym packed? Don’t give up!

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, the first of the year hit, and if you are someone who works out regularly, you will doubt have noticed a difference at the gym. Yes, that’s right. There will be a change in what’s going on at the gym! Each January at the gym you can tell what time of the year it is without ever looking at the calendar. There’s a reason for it, but don’t let it get you down. The more you know about why it happens and what you can do about it, the more successful your fitness schedule will be.

In the first day or two following New Year’s I arrived at the gym to find a crowd. In fact, I couldn’t even find a place to park. I spent some time circling the parking lot to find a spot, asking myself how this can be so? Being a personal trainer I know the answer to this question, and I know how to compensate for it. But others don’t, and that worries me!

Think about what happens each January. You guessed it. People set resolutions for the New Year, and millions of them include goals to become healthier. While they are great goals for sure, they can really pose a problem at the gym. As each New Year starts, the gyms around the country become filled with all the people who have decided to make fitness one of their new goals. Problem is, they arrive at the gym with all those who have already been there all along. This can make for some really cramped conditions and makes it harder to get on the machines you want.

In fact, once I got into the gym, I had to wait for a treadmill to open up. The next day I couldn’t get my circuit training. It’s enough to make people want to throw their hands in the air and turn around and head for the door. But before you do that, know that there are some solutions to this busy gym problem.

Here are a few things you can do to combat the busy gym problem:

Pick an area to workout in that you will be able to do similar exercises. Maybe you won’t be able to find the exact machines, but if you are a little flexible, you can still work the same muscles.

Do some superset exercises, which are great for burning fat and working through plateaus. With superset exercise you do two different things, one right after the other, but you don’t stop to rest in between. For example, do a cardio exercise, then go immediately into a strength training exercise. Superset exercise save time, but are highly effective.

Rather than focus on cardio, where all the people are lined up waiting for machines, do body weight training routines.

Another important part of the equation in beating the first of the year rush is to work with a personal trainer. A personal trainer will keep you baby boomers focused on what you need to do, how you can get it done (even when the gym is busy), and best of all, you won’t quit your routine at Valentine’s Day because you are not seeing the results!

How Losing Helps You Win

Yes, you read that right! Sometimes losing can really help you a lot. While you don’t want to set out to lose, and if it happens, it’s sometimes not a bad thing. Before you really start to think I’ve lost my mind here, let me explain!

I’m a big Green Bay Packers fan and watching them play this past season really helped me to see how losing can help you win. They had an amazing season. In fact, it was considered the best season in the history of the franchise. They were on top of their game all season, having winning streaks that left other teams in awe. But when it came time to the play-offs, they didn’t quite have what it took that got them there.

The Packers were out of the playoffs, losing to the New York Giants 37-20. And sure, I was disappointed, but there is some good that will come out of losing. When we win, we tend to get complacent. This not only happens to NFL teams who win, but it also happens to all of us in various aspects of our lives. If we win, we get complacent. But it’s what we do when we lose that makes up for not winning!

When we lose at something, we actually begin to re-focus. That re-focusing is important in helping us to learn how to win again. This is the same concept that you may be facing in your weight loss or fitness goals. Maybe you feel like it is something you lost at, and if that is the case, then it is time to re-focus. Take it as a designated time to re-think your plan of action and make sure you are doing everything you can to win the next time you give it a try.

Don’t beat yourself up over “losing” or slacking on your fitness routine or healthy eating habits. Instead, think about what you need to do to be more successful at it. Take that time to re-focus, so that you come out seeing clearly what needs to be done and how you will go about doing it.

Keep in mind throughout your quest for healthy living that sometimes when you lose it will help you to go and become a winner. And you will appreciate that win that much more! As for my Packers, they are still winners because they had a great season. Now they can re-focus, create a new plan of action for next year, and hopefully have an equally, if not better, season next year!

 

 

Need an energy boost? No problem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are like most other baby boomers with whom I work, you tend to have low energy issues form time to time. While training with clients I like to keep notes on those things that are affecting them the most. Time and again one of the main issues that I hear people have is a lack of energy. So just what can you do about it? A whole lot, actually!

Having low energy can really be troublesome because it usually affects how you will focus on your workout, it will lead you to want to eat unhealthy or unclean foods, and you will not enjoy just the basic daily things in life. If you suffer from low energy, it is important to do something about it. The good news is that there are plenty of things that you can try in order to boost those energy levels!

Here are a few ways to give yourself an energy boost:

Note nutrients. Sometimes, even if you are a healthy eater, you may be missing a nutrient in your diet. Not getting enough magnesium, for example, can lead to low energy levels. Be sure to get magnesium by including things like fish, cashews and almonds in your diet.

Watch foods. What you eat makes a big difference in the amount of energy you have, so it is important to go for high energy foods. High energy foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some of the best high energy foods you can eat include beans, blueberries, nuts, strawberries, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Also, be sure to get enough water, as dehydration, which you may not even realize you are suffering from, will lead to low energy.

Take a nap. If your low energy level isn’t something that happens daily, try grabbing a quick nap. Taking a short power nap, say 30-45 minutes, can really do wonders for helping you to feel more energetic for the rest of day.

De-stress. If you have a lot of stress, it will drain your energy. Find ways to relax and de-stress, such as journaling or doing yoga. Less stress will lead to higher energy levels.

Consider issues. If you have tried the above ways to boost your energy and you still find you can’t make it through the day without dragging yourself around, see your doctor. Sometimes people have issues like anemia or thyroid problems, which will need to be addressed before your energy levels increases.

Forget walking around feeling like you have just been through the wringer even though you haven’t. Low energy is not something to ignore. Instead, face it head on so you boost your energy levels. It’s important to not miss work outs, and to give them all you’ve got because you need to have your energy levels high!