Friday, December 26, 2014

Sleepless in SC!

While the seven dwarfs in Snow White are cute, the one that gets a lot of grief is Sleepy! The poor little guy goes through life tired all the time and misses out on a lot of fun. Sound familiar?  I dare say you are not getting enough sleep and you are not alone.  Many people operate on too little sleep and are so used to it they feel being tired is normal.

Functioning on too little sleep is the subject in a new documentary from National Geographic, called "Sleepless in America".  It found 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, and it's affecting our waking lives, from memory lapses to irritability and depression.

According to Dawn Dugle, the digital age has increased the pace at which we live and the volume of information we are bombarded with and processing every waking moment.  Many of us forgo sleep in order to “get it all done!” Pushing aside sleep does more harm than good. You might think you're getting more done or fitting in a workout, but when our bodies don't get the required seven to eight hours of sleep at night, we're putting more stress on our bodies.

My coach is adamant that I get 7.5 to 8 hours of good sleep every night and when I don’t, not only does he give me a stern scolding; I see my workouts and other daily functions suffer.

"Your body is designed to release 'good hormones' (repair and build muscle) at night, while you sleep," said Dr. Andrea Lewis, assistant professor of otolaryngology and communicative sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. "When you don't get enough sleep, your body actually releases 'bad hormones. Those "bad" hormones can lead to cardiovascular issues, hormonal changes in your body, obesity and diabetes.”

Unfortunately when we are tired, our bodies crave sugar and carbs as these are simple fuels that provide an immediate burst of energy.  They are fine when working out, but only add to health issues when use to stay awake.

Some indicators that you are sleep deprived include:

1. Memory lapses, such as forgetting part of your drive to work or zoning out during a meeting or lecture

2. Having to work harder to control your emotions

3. Lack of energy

4. Not feeling like doing things you normally love to do

5. Difficulty losing weight

6. Not enjoying your life

If that is not bad enough, a chronic lack of sleep can lead to reduced memory and concentration, depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.

All is not lost.  In many cases, it's an easy fix that is entirely in our control. Dr. Lewis said the majority of sleep deprivation cases are related to people's lifestyles such as trying to do too much in a day, electronics, and watching TV right before bedtime.

"Once you start watching television, it stimulates your brain and keeps you awake longer," Dr. Lewis said. And she urges you to get the television out of the bedroom altogether, making it strictly a place for sleeping. That means no electronics or computers in the bedroom either.

While poor little Sleepy goes through life missing a lot, I now understand how Sleeping Beauty got her name. Not only is beauty sleep real, it’s a necessity for your health!

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Family Fitness

Exercising with others increases the likelihood that your new fitness routine will become a habit. 
Those who run together have fun together. This may sound cliché, but it holds a lot of truth. Families who share their fitness goals have a healthy future, not to mention a house full of accountability partners.
“Keeping fit together by making healthy choices is smart for families for some very important reasons. For starters, healthier parents are more involved, feel better and have more energy. They’ll add years to their lives and life to their years,” according to fitness columnist, Annie Oeth.

Healthier families mean we’ll have healthier children. “One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of your entire family,” according to the Mayo Clinic website,

Creating healthy habits, though, as a family project can be more than just getting fit. It can be a fun bonding experience.

While time or lack of it is often an excuse, conducting a family time management study and blocking out time for family exercise is important.  You may be surprised at how much “wasted” time you actually have.

Here are some tips to make family fitness fun:

Spend time outside. The sweltering heat and humidity of the summer has left and fall brings beautiful leaves and crisp temperatures. There’s no better time for a nature hike or trip to the walking trails. Adding Geo Caching can be a really fun way to get exercise, explore new areas and find some neat stuff.

Make family fitness fun and interesting. According to nutrition columnist Rebecca Turner,  create a fast fitness jar and allow each family member to write down their favorite exercise move that can be done in the living room — jumping jacks, pushups, high knees, air squats or even crunches. During each commercial draw an exercise and complete it for 2-3 minutes. By the end of the program you would have reached your 10 minutes for heart health.

What we consume is as important as how much we exercise.  Try different themed meals such as “Meatless Mondays where only vegetables are served.  Other nights of the week can be theme oriented such as Fish Fridays or choose a healthy international cuisine one night a week.

Make family meals healthy meals by always encouraging water or low-fat milk over a sugar-sweetened beverage, Turner said. “Boost your family’s nutrition by always having a fruit, vegetable or both at every meal and snack. Moms are always in need of healthy recipes. Put the power in your kids’ hands by challenging them to find healthy recipes that they would enjoy to try for dinner.”

While house and yard work don’t sound fun, they can actually help burn additional calories. Divide the chores up among the family and make it a contest with healthy prizes for the individual that burned the most calories.  Having Fit Bit devices is a great way to track activity.

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Weighty Issue

As a nation, we lead the world in many categories, however one area we lead in that is not positive is increasing obesity and weight gain.  People are fatter and sicker than ever before!

Obesity rates have tripled since 1980 and have increased particularly fast in children and the poorer populations. While the reasons this has happens is still debated among scientists, many indicators point to changes in the environment as genes take thousands of years to change.

According to Kris Gunnars, author of Authority Nutrition, here are 12 reasons why America’s are gaining weight at an astronomical rate.

People are eating more “junk” than any time in history
People are eating more calories than before, and pretty much all of the increase has come from processed foods.
Sugar consumption has skyrocketed
Numerous studies show that eating excess amounts of added sugar can have harmful effects on metabolism; leading to insulin resistance, belly fat gain, high triglycerides and small and dense LDL cholesterol.
People gain a lot of weight during the holidays, which they never get rid of
A large percentage of people’s lifetime weight gain can be explained just by the 6 week holiday period.
The Obesity Epidemic Started When the Low-Fat Guidelines Were Published
It seems likely that putting the emphasis on saturated fat, while giving processed low-fat foods high in sugar a free pass, may have contributed to negative changes in the population’s diet.
There are also massive long-term studies showing that the low-fat diet does NOT cause weight loss, and does not prevent heart disease or cancer.
Food is Cheaper than Ever Before
It’s important to keep in mind that real food isn’t cheap, it’s processed food.  Real foods are expensive, with a lot of people unable to afford them. In many poor neighborhoods, the majority of the food is junk food, which is cheap and often subsidized by the government.
People Are Drinking More Sugary Soda and Fruit Juices
The brain doesn’t “register” liquid sugar calories in the same way as it does solid calories and as a result liquid calories are often added on top of calories from other food sources.
Increased Food Variety Contributes to Overeating and Weight Gain
When we have more types of foods available, we eat more, many times more than our bodies need.
People Don’t Burn as Many Calories When Working
For the most part we are an idle society. We even try and find the closest parking spot at work and at the gym!
People Are Eating More Vegetable Oils, Mostly From Processed Foods
Most oils are highly processed and use for frying which adds volumes of calories to our diet.
The Social Environment Can Strongly Affect Calorie Intake
Eating in a group can dramatically increase the number of calories consumed.
People Are Sleeping Less
It is known that poor sleep has negative effects on various hormones that are related to weight gain, and can contribute to increased hunger and cravings
Increased Calorie Intake
While food sources have deteriorated in quality, the influx of sugar, salt and highly processed fats do not trigger the brain to stop eating.  This has resulted in increased calorie consumption that leads to weight gain.  Hormone imbalances and reduced liver function can exaggerate the weight gain conundrum. 

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.