Sunday, January 25, 2015

What to Do If You’ve Got High Cholesterol

As I've gotten older I've realized that takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor off your back.

If you've got high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, the good doc is going to pester you about it—apple or not (and he should!). But don’t blame him - he’s trying to save your life.

According to the American Heart Association, 105.2 million adults have borderline to high risk blood cholesterol levels. In addition, nearly one in three adults suffers from high blood pressure and these numbers grow every year.

Even more frightening; 82% of those at high risk are unaware of their condition. Could you be one of them?

Whether you've had your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked lately or not, these conditions are deadly and sneaky—many people are unaware of the danger lurking in their own arteries. In fact, many firmly believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt you… They’re dead wrong.

What’s so bad about high blood pressure and cholesterol levels? In a nutshell, these conditions raise your chances for having a stroke, kidney failure, heart disease or heart attack.

Here’s the lowdown:

Blood Pressure is recorded in two numbers. The first describes your systolic blood pressure. This is the pressure when your heart is squeezing blood out. The second is your diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure between heartbeats, when your heart is filling with blood.

The ideal blood pressure to have is 120/80 or lower. Blood pressure that falls between 120/80 and 140/90 is considered to be prehypertension—meaning that your blood pressure is higher than normal. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher then you officially have high blood pressure.

Cholesterol is also recorded in two numbers—high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The distinction between HDL and LDL is actually quite important—LDL delivers cholesterol to your body while HDL removes cholesterol from your bloodstream. In other words, HDL cholesterol is good and LDL cholesterol is bad.

When there is extra cholesterol in your bloodstream it lines your arteries, causing them to narrow. These deposits can eventually block an artery that flows to your heart—resulting in a heart attack, or they can block an artery that flows to your brain—resulting in a stroke.

The ideal cholesterol level to have is a number less than 200. Between 200 and 239 you are considered to have borderline high cholesterol, and 240 or higher puts you in a danger zone.

Exercise is the answer:

Exercise really will help lower your high blood pressure and improve my cholesterol levels—and here’s how:

Weak Heart Muscles pump little blood with lots of effort. By exercising you strengthen your heart muscles and train them to pump more blood with less effort. The stronger your heart is the less pressure will be exerted on your arteries.

For some people, exercise increases HDL levels—this equates to a decrease in risk for heart disease. Other heart disease risk factors such as weight, diabetes and high blood pressure all show improvement with regular exercise.

Think Medication is all you need? Well…

Let’s be totally honest for a moment. Sure, you may be taking medication, but the truth of the matter is that you need to fix the disease rather than simply trying to only treat its symptoms.

If exercise isn't currently part of your lifestyle you will be amazed at how it will improve your health once you start. I’m sure your doctor could share a myriad of success stories involving people just like you who dramatically improved their blood pressure and cholesterol through exercise and proper nutrition.

Good health. Isn't that the most valuable thing we have aside from life itself?

If you are struggling to maintain good health, let me just say that exercise is your answer.

The benefits of a consistent and challenging exercise program are numerous—did you know that exercise will even improve your sleep?

I am in a unique position to assist you in securing the good health that we all hold so dear. Call me today to schedule your fitness assessment and let's get you started on an exercise program that will change your life - for the better!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When Should I Get a Massage and How Often?

This is a question I get often…

Let’s face it, if it were up to massage therapists we’d say that you should get a massage every day, but in reality – very few people ever have the means or time to make this scenario play out in their lives. So technically speaking, your frequency should depend on how much you like massage, how often you experience chronic pain, and your budget.

If you’re able to afford it, getting a monthly or weekly massage works best at helping prevent injuries by catching tight areas before they become problematic. With my more athletic clients (runners, weightlifters, gymnasts), I usually recommend timing their massage to coincide with the times they are training their hardest. For example, runners can develop tight hamstrings and hips, gymnasts and weight-lifters can get tight shoulders. These tight muscle groups can elicit injuries over time if they aren't treated by massage.

If you are physically active, I recommend getting a massage within 24 hours after a hard workout. Doing so will enhance the body’s reparative abilities thereby providing you with the added bonus of a speedy recovery from your workout while keeping potential pain and injury at bay.

For runners wanting to perform at prime levels, it’s best to schedule your massage at least 3-5 days before your next big race – especially if it’s been a while since your last massage. In fact, if you haven’t been consistent with self-care massage, it would be best to schedule your professional massage therapy session a bit further out. I say this because deep tissue massage also puts your muscles through a workout that can take additional time for your body to recover from. And the last thing I’m sure you would want is to be “sore” from a deep tissue massage on ‘race day.’

So, in keeping with these guidelines, here are a few more recommendations:

Drink water - lots of water - particularly after your massage. Active muscles (even muscles in pain) produce metabolic waste. Increasing your intake of H2O will facilitate your body’s ability to process these toxins and waste products (flushed from the muscles) out of the body.

Massage does not have to hurt to be effective. While working on a tight, troubled area will certainly cause some discomfort, it shouldn't leave bruising or cause you to jump off the table. If you do find yourself consistently bruised after massage sessions, you may be going to the wrong therapist! Or, you may not be communicating enough with your therapist regarding the pressure and your sense of pain. Take steps to correct this immediately.

Most people (and some massage therapists, too) often confuse ‘deep tissue’ massage with deep ‘pressure’ (like when you say “go harder”). Deep tissue massage targets both the superficial and deep layers of muscles and fascia and although it can often be quite intense due to the deliberate, focused work, it needn't always elicit pain.

When I perform deep tissue work, I typically focus in on a few specific problem areas and work the entire muscle. Because physically active people often have quite a few tight spots and interconnected issues, deep tissue massage is often the modality I use the most. That said, deep tissue work is not an “every day” sort of therapy.

With the exception of athletic training and performance, the best policy for most of the general public is a regular schedule of maintenance massage which typically means a full-body massage about every 3 to 6 weeks.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

5 Awesomely Easy Ways to Recover From The Holidays

Alright! The holidays are officially over… and Public schools officially resumed classes today. Yeah!!! (For those of you with kids, you know what I’m talking about…)

Anyway, two weeks of vacation – holidays, family, food-food-food, flus and lots of late nights all came to an end this past weekend. Whew! Now I’ll bet I’m not the only one left to deal with the aftermath of all that less-than-healthy eating… Is your body puffy and bloated? Your joints are achy? Your clothes feel tight?

Me, too… ;-)

So to help us both through this “recovery” plan, I've outlined the 5 awesomely easy steps you’ll need to quickly and seamlessly get back on the fitness fast track.

Step One: Get Focused.

The holidays happened. You ate things from your “never eat these” list, you drank more that you should have, but now the party is over.

Draw a line in the sand. The bad eating stops now. Today.

Don’t beat yourself up for falling off the fitness wagon particularly if it was shared in the company of good friends and loved ones. Instead, simply get back up, dust yourself off and get re-focused. Leave the past, and your slip-ups, in the past.

Step Two: Get Hydrated.

Poor nutrition can take on many forms, and the end result is most often dehydration and water retention. However, there is a simple way to restore balance: get hydrated.

Your first priority in getting back on track is to drink plenty of water throughout your day. Start with a tall glass of water in the morning, and carry a water bottle with you so that you’ll have no excuse not to sip throughout the day.

Instead of adding artificial sweeteners or stimulants to add interest to your water – try adding flavor by placing slice fresh fruit, herbs or vegetables in your water, just like at the spa. Have you ever tried a little bit of lavender & a slice of lemon I your water? Delicious.

Step Three: Get Picky.

Don’t resort to holiday leftovers or sweet treats. You’ve had enough of those! Instead, be extra picky about what you eat. Try sticking with only whole, real foods like fruits, green leafy vegetables and some lean meat. Whole, real foods will quickly help to restore balance.

Although work schedules are returning to their normal rhythm, avoid fast food or typical convenience foods for lunch. In fact, don’t eat packaged foods for the next few days. This means saying no to the snack machine, processed meat slices, dairy, baked goods and alcohol.

Step Four: Get Juicing.

If you can’t seem to “eat” enough fruits and vegetables, juicing may be a perfect fit for you. Making your own juice can be beneficial to your health, but especially good for you when recovering from several weeks of bad eating. The key is to use ingredients that will hydrate and nourish your body and to avoid ingredients that are high in sugar.

These ingredients are fantastic for your recovery juice: fresh ginger, spinach, cucumber, kale, green apple, lemon, and celery.

These ingredients should be used sparingly, due to high sugar content: carrots, oranges, red apples, melons or pineapple.

Step Five: Get Moving.

Now… it’s now time to sweat it out.

Lace up your athletic shoes and put on your favorite gym clothes. When you start your workout, ease in slowly. Take the time to warm up and stretch your muscles before powering up to a solid 30-minute exercise routine.

I have just the exercise plan for you – one that will not only help you recover from your holiday indulgences, but will help keep you motivated and going strong in the future.

If you haven’t participated in any of my Locomo Weight-loss programs yet, now is the perfect time to start. Together we will get you focused on your goals with my results-driven method.

Simply log-in on-line here to set up your first workout.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The “No Pain, No Gain” Massage

Remember the ridiculous mantra of “No pain. No gain” from Schwarzenegger wanna-be, gym-rats in the 90’s? It was always funny to me but I’ sure that you would agree there’s sometimes a ‘feel good hurt’ that we can get when a massage therapist works on just the right spot.

My massage teacher would call it the point of “exquisite pain.” And what’s wrong with that? Considering the price of good body work these days, you should expect to feel results, right? Unfortunately many people misconstrue pain as evidence that they are getting a “good” (if not great) deep tissue massage. Well – I think the whole thing is hogwash, and let me tell you why…

It’s my contention that holding your breath and gritting your teeth under the pressure of a too-rigorous kneading simply defeats the purpose of massage. And asking your masseuse to “go deeper cause I’m tough [guy/girl] and can take the pain” only adds to your body’s tension levels, making those muscles that desperately need to soften do the exact opposite.

Think about this: when has a muscle IN PAIN ever “relaxed?”

The answer is “never.”

Look at it this way; a masseuse aggressively digging into muscles is like performing one of those science experiments in elementary school where you combined cornstarch with water. Remember that weird concoction that was solid but not solid? The more you prodded the substance (or muscle), it hardened, yet when you stopped, it softened to a malleable goo.

This property is called thixotropy (talk about a tongue twister!).

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that too much force will make muscle fibers clench together and almost harden. When you apply a firm but methodical amount of pressure, the fibers easily thread apart, thereby allowing your muscles to relax, release, and rejuvenate.

That said, I’m no wimp when it comes to doling out the pressure! There are some times when some discomfort is necessary to the overall treatment. However, this type of aggressive approach isn’t meant to irritate sore muscles even further, and it’s never intended to beat your muscle fibers into submission.

Instead, the goal is to apply just the right amount of pressure and firmness to kick-start that relaxation response, loosen and lengthen muscles, add to muscular balance & tone. It’s to release tension rather than add to it…

Now, if you are now reminded of a dull ache or a painful kink you need to get worked - that’s just your body telling you it’s time to come see me for a little “S & M” session (stretching and massage, that is..)

;-)

Listen to your body.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hacks

It’s holiday fat gain season! After all, they don’t call it the “festive fifteen” for nothing! It’s a time when nearly everyone packs on a few pounds. But what if, instead of loosening your belt another notch this year, you use these 5 Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hacks to avoid putting on a single pound?

Believe it or not, these hacks just might result in a few pounds lost before New Year’s…

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #1: Eat a sensible meal before the party.
It goes without saying that you should never arrive at parties in a ravenous hunger. I realize that this goes against the popular trend of starving yourself before a party, but that’s exactly why most people gain weight.

With your hunger in check, you’ll have the clarity to pick and choose the treats that you really want, rather than stuffing yourself with everything in sight.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #2: Bring a healthy dish to share.
Even if the party that you’re going to isn’t a potluck—hostess gifts are thoughtful, and always appreciated. Plus, you’ll have brought a healthy option everyone can enjoy.

A roasted veggie salad, a hummus platter, or an arrangement of fresh fruit are all delicious, healthy dishes that are filled with fiber and would be a welcome addition to any holiday menu.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #3: Never drink calories.
This one’s tough this time of year, but do you realize how quickly calories add up when you’re slurping them out of a cup? Alcoholic beverages and sweet holiday drinks are simply packed with calories. These calories don’t take up much room in your stomach so you’re left wide open for even more calories.

Your best strategy is to avoid these beverages altogether, but if you can’t, temper their effects by drinking sparkling (or plain) water. Aim to drink 1 glass of water immediately after every cocktail you consume at the party.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #4: Fill your plate, but only once.
I’m certainly not going to tell you that you shouldn't eat anything at the party. By all means, It’s a party! By all means, go and fill up your plate - but only once.

That’s right, you heard me. No going back for seconds. Since you've already eaten a sensible meal before arriving, this rule is going to be easier to keep than you think.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #5: Taste dessert, just a taste. 
The holidays are all about sweet treats, so go ahead and partake. But just a taste. Look at desserts as something to savor, not something to fill up on. And since you ate a sensible meal before you came, then you filled up your dinner plate once you’re probably going to be pretty full at this point anyway.

That’s it—all you need to know to not gain a single pound at holiday parties.

So… what about the rest of the year?

Wouldn't you love to make 2015 the year that you transform your body?

Wouldn't it feel great to throw out all of your fat clothes? To look forward to bathing suit season? To be given a clean bill of health from your doctor? And to be showered with compliments by family, friends and that special someone?

It’s all more possible than you think.

But you’ll need to take action now.

My Locomo-Programs are designed to quickly and efficiently get you into the best shape of your life.

Go on-line now to schedule your first body transforming “Let’s Talk Strategy” session before the New Year’s rush by clicking here.