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!

Aches and Pains – What do they mean?

10394567_822127597835919_2048834069246516979_nIf you managed to come to our Charity Boot Camp this last weekend, you might notice that you’re a little more sore than usual. Getting out of bed might seem like more of a chore, the stairs seem a little steeper than usual, or it might seem a little more difficult to raise your arm to brush your teeth. When you’re sore, you suddenly realize how many muscles you use in your daily life.

So why do we get sore? It’s happened our whole lives, but it might seem like the older we get, the less it takes for our muscles to ache after a workout. Especially after we do a completely new set of exercises at the gym. Our arms ache, our legs ache, our shoulders ache… What is our body trying to tell us?

Even though it might not seem like it, sore muscles are telling us that we are making progress in our personal fitness. Take a look at some of the science behind your Aches and Pains:

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Those aches and pains you feel after a workout is referred to by physiologists as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and is completely normal for anyone who does strenuous activity. From those just starting their workout regimen to body builders who spend hours lifting weights, everybody feels sore at some point after a workout.

When you’re exercising, your putting your muscles through strenuous activity they haven’t had to endure before. Your muscles are going through some minor stress, which causes some microscopic tears to occur. Exercise physiologists believe these tears, paired with the minor inflammation that accompanies it, cause the minor aches you feel.

But despite how you feel when you wake up and struggle to get out of bed the next morning, these pains are actually a good thing! As your muscles endure your exercise regimen, they adjust to better accommodate your strenuous fitness activity. The next time you do deadlifts, squats, lunges, or bicep curls, you may notice you ache a little bit less… at least until you increase the resistance you’re using.

How do I ease these aches?

One thing I always recommend to my clients is stretch, stretch, stretch! Stretching your muscles better prepares them for strenuous activity, lessening the sudden shock of jumping off the couch and into your gym shoes. It also allows your muscles to limber up, providing less of a chance for injury.

Once you’re done working out, be sure to spend some extra time doing some easier, aerobic activity. This allows your muscles to cool down, again lessening the sudden shock of strenuous movement to less strenuous activity.

Another way to ease your sore muscles is to pace yourself while you work out. Spend one day doing a solid workout, pushing yourself to the limit. Maybe take part in on of our charity Boot Camps! But after pushing your limits, spend the next day or two working on something less strenuous, such as cardio. Your muscles need time to recover from the activity you just put them through.

Believe it or not, one of the best ways of easing muscle aches is to keep on exercising. In order to get the proper nutrients into your muscles, such as Vitamin C or those antioxidants in those blueberries you had for breakfast, your muscles have to move. Exercising allows your muscles to get the nutrients they need to prepare for the next bout of strenuous activity you throw at them.

So instead of waiting out sore muscles on the couch, give your muscles the attention they need! And remember that despite how they might feel at the time, the good kind of aches you feel after a good workout is the feeling of progress.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Enjoying Your Vacation

iStock_000002284032XSmallLast Tuesday, I wrote a little about ways Boomer Fitness can help you stick to your fitness goals while on vacation. Even while you’re on a trip, you still have goals you want to reach, and spending a whole vacation ignoring your fitness standards is not going to be easy to make up at the gym when you come back.

When you’re on vacation, make sure you enjoy yourself! After all, it’s not every day you get to spend some time exploring the Oregon Coast. And keep in mind that while you’re travelling, you can still stick to your fitness goals by making small adjustments.

So here are a few Dos and Don’t you can remember the next time you go on a trip out of town:

DO enjoy yourself – You’re on vacation! Odds are, it’s been a long time since you were able to drop everything and enjoy yourself. So get out there and make sure you make the trip a memorable one. If you have stuck to your diet, spent a lot of time at the gym, and seen improvement, go ahead and enjoy that extra drink or dessert.

DON’T make yourself sick – Keep in mind that if you have been sticking to your diet and spending some meaningful time at the gym, you wont be doing yourself any favors if you splurge too much. Many foods you may have eaten before you started working out are going to immediately affect your body once you eat. Many of my clients will feel lethargic after enjoying some fast food for the first time after a few months of swearing off the stuff.

A happy medium I like to recommend is making plans to enjoy a nice dinner in the middle of your vacation and then the last day of your trip. That way, you can really look forward to and enjoy your meal, without going overboard.

DO take a break from the gym – As the owner of a gym, this one isn’t as painful as you might think to recommend. If you’re spending some time on vacation, don’t force yourself to go out of your way to find a gym. There are plenty of other ways to work in some exercise, and the trainers at Boomer Fitness can help you find alternatives. Besides, spending time at the gym is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.

DON’T take a break from your body – Just because you might not be headed to the gym doesn’t mean you should stop all fitness. You might be taking a break from the gym on a vacation, but your body doesn’t magically “pause” its fitness.

Instead of dropping everything for a solid week (or however long your vacation might be) talk to Boomer Fitness about how you can stay on the horse. We usually recommend a few workouts you can do as you wake up, and a few stretches you can do before you head off to bed. While it likely isn’t as intensive as a day in the gym, your body will thank you for not giving up on it for a whole week.

DO go exploring on your own power – When you’re visiting a new place on vacation, go explore it! You’re only in the area for a short period of time, so you might as well see as much as you can while you’re there. Even if you’re just spending some time away from the office, take a day and discover Portland, or take a day trip and walk up and down the Oregon coast.

DON’T sit inside – Don’t experience your vacation looking out a window, or by sitting in an easy chair all day. Go out and enjoy the outdoors! See the sights, and engage the world around you. If you’re travelling with friends, invite them to go explore with you.

Go for a hike either in the countryside or through the city. Take a bicycle tour and go see the tourist spots, or go on your own and find the hidden corners no one else finds. If you’re near some water, go jump in the water and swim a few laps. However you explore, make sure you’re actively doing it. After all, being able to do all of these activities is part of the reason we exercise. Enjoy the hard work you have been doing!

However you take your vacation, make sure you’re enjoying yourself. And when you come back ready to hit the gym again, Boomer Fitness will be here, ready and waiting to help you get back into the swing of things.

Sticking to Your Goals While Travelling

11084264_813465242035488_1911318864560426423_nSpring is here, and summer is just around the corner! It’s always exciting when it gets nice outside, and  I know a lot of people take the opportunity to start planning their vacation when this time of the year starts to roll around.

This last week, I had the chance to visit Las Vegas. It was a great chance to visit Vesta Hospitality, enjoy some time in the sun, and even meet the Seahawk Great Curt Warner! It was a great time, and I hope I can do it again sometime in the future.

It occurred to me, though, that when people are travelling abroad, it might be a little more difficult to fit in your fitness goals. After all, fitness usually demands a time table, and your vacation time pushes aside your everyday life for something a little more relaxing.

Now, you know me. And you know that even while on vacation, I always stress how important it is to stick to your goals, even if it requires a little extra dedication. You have earned a vacation, but don’t let your fitness suffer!

That’s why I like to suggest a few key points to clients who are planning on taking a trip for an extended period of time:

Talk to Boomer Fitness about sticking to your fitness – One of the best things about Boomer Fitness is we continue to work with you on your fitness outside of the gym. The personal trainers here have a wealth of knowledge, and it’s a resource we want you take advantage of while you’re here.

If you’re planning on travelling abroad, let us know, and we’ll talk you through some basic workout routines that you can do on the go. We’ll talk you through proper technique when doing stretches, some basic exercises you can do in a hotel room, and write up a dietary plan you can refer to.

Plan ahead so you can enjoy yourself – Let’s be completely honest for a minute: Whether its food or drink, you’re going to enjoy yourself on your vacation. You know it and I know it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So if you’re going to enjoy yourself while on vacation, lets make sure you’re working on your diet ahead of time so you can afford to enjoy yourself.

When you’re planning out your vacation, choose which meals you’re going to allow yourself to splurge on, so you can enjoy yourself when you finally get to that meal. Plus, the anticipation of such good food will just make it taste all the better!

Look for fitness avenues while travelling – One thing I always advocate when people are travelling is finding a hotel that has a decent workout center. But believe me, I know how hard it can be to find a “fitness center” that is more than just a closest sized room with a treadmill.

The trainers here at Boomer Fitness can help you with exercises that require little to no equipment, and can be done in your very own room. These exercises include Lunges, Wall Presses, and even the cult favorite, Burpees!

Dedication to fitness doesn’t stop when you’re on vacation! But it also doesn’t keep you from enjoying yourself while you’re away. Talk to us for more information about how you can include fitness in your time abroad.

What Makes a Great Gym? Part I

10420366_800561496659196_5160659795092338580_n“What makes a great gym?” Is it the equipment? The location? The atmosphere?

It’s a question I used to ask myself when I was starting Boomer Fitness. When I was planning this program, I wanted to make sure that my ideal gym had all the best traits you could ask for. Sometimes, I still find myself asking the same question when I’m reviewing my progress over the last few years. I love Boomer Fitness, and I know it’s got some of the best features you could find in any gym out there. But I still like to ask myself: What really makes a Great Gym?

When I ask clients about why they join a gym, I usually get a few variations of the same handful of answers. “It has some great equipment that I don’t have at home.” “It’s really close to where I work.” “My friends go to that gym, and I figured I would do the same.”

All perfectly valid reasons to go to the gym, but it just doesn’t seem like the right kind of answer. Most gyms have comparable equipment, and a lot of people seem to go out of their way to get to a particular gym. So what really makes a gym a place you want to go back to?

To discover what’s in a great gym, we actually have to ask another question: What do you want to get out of your gym? I break that question down into two answers: Time Well Spent and Time Enjoyed.

Time Well Spent – Let’s face it, when you’re going to be spending a lot of time working out, you want to be spending the right kind of time there. I have said time and time again that fitness is a long-term process, and not something that you can get results in with half-hearted effort. You have to give it your all, 100% of the time. That means a lot of dedicated hours at a gym.

So why would you want to go to a place where you feel like your time is being wasted? Heading to a gym and getting nothing done is like going to a Packers Game and playing angry birds on your phone. But so many times when I worked at a larger gym, I would see people who weren’t using their gym time to its fullest.

It’s game time when you’re at the gym! Use it to your full advantage!

Time Enjoyed –  It’s a lot easier to go to the gym to work out if you’re looking forward to your time there, but sometimes that isn’t always the case. One of my clients has told me that in the past, the hardest part about going to a gym was resolving herself to get out the door. Going to work out wasn’t something she necessarily enjoyed; it was a chore that she had to do.

Sure, it’s a workout, and it’s probably going to push your physical condition. But that doesn’t mean you have to dread going to the gym! You want to enjoy the time that you spend at the gym because you will be more willing to back to the gym. Turn the idea of ” I could go to the gym” to “I get to go to the gym,” and you’re going to find you’re spending a lot more time working your muscles.

It’s not rocket science. When you go to the gym, you want to spend your time working on relevant parts of your body, but you also want to enjoy yourself while you do it. But like a lot of things in life, this might sound easier said than done. What do you factor in when you’re signing up for a gym to make sure you hit these two marks?

To me, both of these points can be attained by making sure your gym has one key factor: the right kind of community. This ranges from the personal trainers to the people you work out with, from the group work out sessions to the individual one-on-one meetings we have. It differs from person to person, but having the right type of community that fits your work-out style is the difference between having an average gym an a Great Gym.

So how do you find that kind of community? Where do you start to look for the right kind of atmosphere that will help you be your best at the gym?

Be sure to check in with my blog on Thursday to find out!

Completing a 5k: The Biggest Competition is You!

iStock_000009546366XSmallSpring and Summer is a great time to get outside. Despite the rain, overcast skies and even the wind that comes with early spring, we still get some beautiful days outside which give us a taste of summer time.

One staple of the warmer season are the multiple marathons, triathlons, and 5ks that make an appearance around the Portland and Vancouver area. Whether it’s for a great cause you believe in, or just because it’s something to do, 5ks are a great way to put your fitness to the test.

Some clients at the gym like to get themselves prepared for a local 5k, but I have noticed others don’t even consider the opportunity to take part in a 5k. I like to recommend participating in a 5k for a couple reasons:

It’s A Way to Challenge Yourself – When I bring up running a 5k, a lot of clients outright say “I can’t do something like that,” or “I’m not a runner.” But this kind of outlook misses the point of taking part in one of these events. Running in a 5k is about beating your own limits, not about beating the others in the competition.

Just by signing up, you’re already beating the prior version of yourself who was so adamant that you could never take part in a 5k.

It’s a Tangible Goal – A running event like a 5k as a scheduled start date. It has a measured distance (5 kilometers) and a detailed route, so you know exactly where you’re going to be running. Why is this important?

Because when you sign up for a 5k, you know exactly what kind of improvements you will need to make in order to participate in the event. You and I can work on endurance and spend a little extra time on legs. If you’re feeling some extra incentive, you can even practice on the route before the event even happens, so you can anticipate the kind of track you need to practice for.

It Gives Measurable Improvements – When you first start training for an event like this, I like to measure where you start off, so you can compare it to where you end up on the day of the 5k. Not only is a 5k event a great way to set goals, it’s also a great way to measure how much improvement you make leading up to the event.

Think about it like this: When you sign up for a 5k, you know you have to eventually get up to travelling 5 kilometers at a set pace. That’s a long distance, but we don’t do it all at once. Instead, we make a goal of getting to 1 kilometer, and then we move up from there. Eventually, getting 5 kilometers won’t be so far out of your grasp.

Finishing is Better than Never Starting – Whether you sprint, jog, or walk across the finish line, you are still beating the version of yourself who never started. It doesn’t matter to me what pace you take during the 5k, as long as you are pushing yourself to do the best that you can.

The pace that you finish only matters to one person: yourself. If you have kept the best pace you can and completed the 5k, you have already beaten your prior time. No one can beat that.

Competitng in a 5k really is a no-lose scenario. Most runs in the area are meant to benefit a local organization, like MS research or the Humane Society run. You get a chance to spend some time running outdoors, and most of all, it gives you a goal to work toward. Where can you go wrong?

Let me know when you’re ready to take part in a 5k, and we’ll start a timeline to get you ready for the occasion!

The Relationship Between the Gym and Your Health

Progress in Action - Road Barricade Improvement and Change for FLast week I wrote about the dangers of not working out. It might have sounded a little harsh, but I meant every word. Too few people know the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, especially when paired with the unhealthy foods so many of us find on grocery shelves.

With an unhealthy lifestyle comes heart disease, plaque in the arteries, a proneness to diabetes… the list can go on and on. It’s scary to think about what can happen if we choose to do nothing. But like I wrote last Tuesday, I would much rather you hear the truth than hiding behind a set of lies.

Sometimes, we all need a kick in the pants to get started on our long journey. But on the other hand, we always hear about the doom and gloom surrounding an unhealthy lifestyle. What about the positive effects of a mobile lifestyle? And not just the long term effects, either.

Believe it or not, your body starts changing the exact moment you start working out at the gym. Big results take a long time, but that doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing nothing when you start doing lunges for the first time. Take a look at what’s happening to your body when you first start working out:

Metabolism Boost – Minutes after you start working your body, your metabolism is going to get a huge boost in energy. As your body starts to recognize that it’s using more energy than normal, it’s going to start producing neurochemicals responsible for metabolism to compensate for this new motion. This boost can last anywhere between a few hours and a few days. To get the best results, you will have to continue exercise so your body continues to boost.

Improvement in Mood -After a workout, you might notice that you’re having a better day now compared to when you walked in. It’s not just in your head; those same neurochemicals I talked about boosting your metabolism are also responsible for boosting your mood. Working out at the gym will produce these neurochemicals, and you will feel more relaxed, more confident, and have more energy to hit the day.

Regulate Blood Sugar – Blood sugar, or glucose, is used as an energy source throughout our body, but we can’t have too much of it floating around in us. Your body produces insulin to control the amount of glucose found in our blood stream, but having too much glucose can lead to Type II diabetes. So how do we balance it? Exercising goes a long way to combating excessive blood sugar, burning it as you move more. As your body burns more energy, it will compensate less.

Lowering Blood Pressure – You might be thinking “how does making my heart work more cause blood pressure to drop?” As we get older, our blood vessels start to get stiff, causing more pressure throughout our system. While it’s true that your heart might be beating more frequently during your time in the gym, you’re also flexing and moving your blood vessels, which loosens them up and allows blood to move freely. You might not notice a difference in how you feel, but your blood pressure monitor sure will.

These improvements don’t take months to acquire. Your body is designed to move, and doing so means it will react positively! The first day at the gym is always tough, but just showing up and doing something is better than sitting in front of the TV. I like to think that no matter how slow you’re moving, you’re still lapping the version of yourself on the couch!

But don’t think you can get away with minimal time at the gym. While small improvements are a good stepping stone, ramping up your effort at the gym is an important aspect of winning back your health. As we like to say at Boomer Fitness, you only have your health once!

Email me when you’re ready to start getting your body in motion! We will start getting you on track to a healthier tomorrow.