Eat for Exercise: Nutrition is the key to success

It is kind of true “you are what you eat” especially when it comes to pushing yourself with exercise. I have many people that have joined me on the exercise challenges in the past few months, and I made comments about certain workout days being rougher due to poor diet the day before and that always brought on a slew of questions wanting me to clarify further, so I thought I would! Plus, it is crucial to eat correctly when pushing yourself physically, so that your body can work optimally, otherwise you put yourself at risk for overtraining and getting hurt or sick.

What should I focus on?

There are a few different schools of thought, and it does truly depend on your goals of working out.  For example, if you are looking to build large amounts of muscle, you will need to significantly increase your protein intake (lean proteins).  But, if you are someone who is doing a workout challenge, and the goal is to tone up and perhaps slim down, you want to focus more on endurance, so that your body is able to keep up the intensity with exercise, and you aren’t starving all of the time, but you are eating clean and healthy to maybe lose a few extra pounds.

You should start your day out right, whether you eat breakfast or drink it (in smoothie form) you really should include oatmeal: it is a complex carbohydrate that is full of fiber, so it is slow for your body to digest, and it helps keep your blood sugar at a steady level, so you don’t get a sugar crash, and it will help keep up your stamina for the day. So either eat oatmeal in the morning with some fruit OR add it to your smoothie. Smoothies are great because you can get your calcium from dairy, carbs from oatmeal, and your daily fruits all in one meal!

Oats, Flax, and Chia (all parts of my morning smoothie)

Oats, Flax, and Chia (all parts of my morning smoothie)

For a snack, eat either nuts or peanut butter, almond butter, etc to boost protein and despite a high fat content, it is good for you because it gives you the energy you need, satiates your hunger, and also gives you that boost of protein power. I like to eat peanut butter on celery or carrots to get my vitamins and nutrients from the vegetables and also get that extra bit of protein. You can also make a trail mix with dried fruits and nuts to boost your energy and get in some endurance boosting proteins.

Your lunch and dinners should consist of vegetables and lean proteins. Honestly, for people on the go, the Bolthouse Farms Protein shakes are a great alternative (the salted caramel latte is my FAVORITE), and what I normally drink for lunch; at work I rarely have time for a sit down meal so they help me to get my protein and a bunch of nutrients on the go!

The vegetables that help to boost your stamina are: red beets (I really don’t like them, but they have been shown to increase your muscle stamina), spinach (filled with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and  calcium), green cabbage (filled with phytonutrients that fight off free radicals and help heal damage), watercress (full of Vitamin A, B, C, Iron, magnesium, and calcium), and pumpkin (has anti-inflammatory effects to soothe those hard worked muscles and fiber filled). But truly, as long as you get your favorite veggies in, and they aren’t laden with butter (use extra virgin olive oil instead), your body will be happy.

Lean proteins should also be included in your diet: fish (shellfish and regular swimming fish), chicken, quinoa, chia seeds, and beans. If you are looking to boost muscle mass, you can always eat your proteins atop a protein, like eating some black beans, and maybe using the alternative of a bed of quinoa instead of rice.

You should be getting carbohydrates from your veggies, remembering that the more colorful your plate, the more vitamins and nutrients you are getting, which is good for you! And, of course you can eat breads, but make sure that they are whole grains and eat veggies with your carbs (think toast with some avocado atop it for breakfast!)

The cleaner your diet, with more protein the night before your hard workouts, along with your 2 liters of water throughout the day, your body will feel strong, you will feel good about yourself, and you will have the stamina and endurance to get through your hard workouts. Eating things that are high in fats will not make you feel good, and your workouts will reflect that….that being said, everyone has a cheat day on their diet, just make sure to use those cheats sparingly and your body will thank you!!

P.S. Don’t forget to join the June Exercise Challenge on Facebook!

Yours in Good Health


June Exercise Challenge: Get a beach ready body!

I have had an amazing group of people who have joined the April Squat and May Plank Exercise Challenges; all of us have transformed our bodies, improved our health, and feel amazing. I must say, the May Plank Challenge seemed super hard for all of us, and it was, but we dug deep and got through it, and I think that we all felt amazing finishing the challenge!

So, for June, as we continue with some core work, we will be adding some upper body strength in the form of a dual challenge: Bicycle Crunches AND Push-ups! I know that people think Push-ups are horrible and basically the worst things ever, but after finishing the plank challenge you already have the core strength you need, we will be strengthening our upper bodies (think, arms!).

What are the benefits of these exercises?

Bicycle Crunches: these crunches target the internal and external obliques (part of your abdominal muscles that usually don’t get worked out with standard crunches), as well as the rest of your abdominal muscles (transverse and rectus abdominis).

Push-ups: this exercise is a great way to not only strengthen the core muscles BUT you also strengthen your wrists, forearms, chest (pectorals), shoulders, along with your biceps and triceps (upper arm muscles). Women tend to have less upper body strength than men, and they are a great way to start slowly and build it up, but you also strengthen/tone muscles in the legs, back, and abs (just like the planks).

How do I perform them correctly?

Bicycle crunches: Lie down flat, and rest your hands (interlocked) behind your head without putting pressure on your neck. Lift your legs so they are off the floor 2-4 inches, and exhale as you reach your left armpit to your right knee (as you pull your right knee up), hold for a second, then release and pull your left leg up as your pull your right armpit to it. Make sure you are using you core and NOT pulling on your neck, and go slowly, when people do these quickly they don’t see results AND they get hurt. So go slow and if you have lower back discomfort from laying flat, you can put a towel or extra mat under your lower back for some extra support.

Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle Crunch





Push-Ups: Get into a plank position (resting on your knees for beginners) and your arms shoulder width (or just a little wider for beginners) apart. keep your head and neck straight and in line with the rest of your body, keeping your hips straight, and bend your elbows down about 6 inches, then pull yourself back up to the starting position.

Bottom Position

Bottom Position

Top (starting and ending) Position

Top (starting and ending) Position







The Challenge (should you choose to accept it):

Day 1: 20 Bicycle crunches (BC) and 2 sets of 10 push-ups (PU)

2: 30 BC & 2 sets PU

3: 40 BC & 3 sets PU

4: 50 BC & 3 sets PU

5: 60 BC & 4 sets PU

6: 70 BC & 4 sets PU

7: Rest Day

8: 75 BC & 5 sets PU

9: 80 BC & 5 sets PU

10: 90 BC & 6 sets PU

11:100 BC & 6 sets PU

12: 110 BC & 7 sets PU

13: 120 BC & 7 sets PU

14: Rest Day

15: 125 BC & 8 sets PU

16: 130 BC & 8 sets PU

17: 140 BC & 9 sets PU

18: 150 BC & 9 sets PU

19: 160 BC & 10 sets PU

20: 170 BC & 10 sets PU

21: Rest Day

22: 175 BC & 11 sets PU

23: 180 BC & 11 sets PU

24: 190 BC & 12 sets PU

25: 200 BC & 12 sets PU

26: 210 BC & 13 sets PU

27: 220 BC & 13 sets PU

28: Rest Day

29: 230 BC & 14 sets PU

30: 250 BC & 15 sets PU

DONE!!!  You all can do it!  Split the BCs up as you need to, and if you have any medical conditions that may prohibit you from these exercises, please check with your Healthcare Practitioner before joining!

(For those of you who have done previous challenges, I still encourage 50-100 maintenance squats a day and no need for continued planks, as we will be getting the same benefits PLUS from the Push-ups!!)

Join me, won’t you?
Yours in Good Health,


May Plank Challenge: Side Plank Addition

I am so excited that so many of you decided to join me on the April (Squat) and May (Plank) Exercise Challenges, it is VERY challenging month, and since the end goal is a long period of planks per day, it would not only be beneficial to your body, in strengthening different muscles, but it will also break up the monotony of the exercise! I have encouraged  you all to do leg and arm lifts, along with alternating leg/arm lifts at the same time, which is great addition to the exercise and makes it a little more challenging, but adding the side planks will add a whole new level of strengthening and benefits!

Why Side Planks?

Side planks help to strengthen your core muscles, as we have been working on, but it adds a different dimension, and we can do beginner to more advanced side planks.  Side planks target your gluteal (butt) muscles, quads, hamstrings, and thigh (inner and outer muscles), along with those core abdominal and back muscles. This will really help to tone and strengthen those muscles that assist your abs and back, so you will have a much stronger body, which will lead to less back pain (unless you have a medical reason for it), improved posture, and you will feel better and stronger, which will improve your self-esteem!

How do I perform a Side Plank?

You can start either from a plank position, and turn to the side so that the side of your foot is on the floor, the other foot is directly stacked on top ankle to ankle, knee to knee, and your hips are directly in line with the floor. For the beginner, you can do this pose on your elbow (arm flat on the floor perpendicular to the shoulder).  More advanced, you can have your arm straight, with your hand placed flat on the floor, directly under your shoulder. From this position, you can get more advanced, keeping your core muscles engaged and tight, lift the top arm directly above your shoulder into the air, and also lift that top foot 6-9″ into the air.


Top: beginner side plankBottom: more advanced

Top: beginner side plank
Bottom: more advanced


Top: Advanced side plank with arm and leg lift

Top: Advanced side plank with arm and leg lift

I do suggest starting at a more beginners level and then advancing as you feel stronger, and as you can get hurt if you push yourself too hard and you do not have the proper body  positioning.  You don’t want to fall or topple over or overstrain muscles. Make sure to engage your core muscles, breathe through the exercises (holding your breath is never good, but especially when exercising!), and if it gets to the point that you do not feel like you can breathe, take a break! Yes we are all challenging and we have goals as a group BUT you need to listen to your body and do what feels right.  If you have pain (not just “this is new muscle I am working” type of pain but real pain), stop and take the day off, and if the pain comes back you may need to see your healthcare practitioner (HCP), if the pain goes away, maybe you pushed yourself too hard, and go to a more beginner position.

Keep planking your way to that beach body, we are almost halfway through a very difficult challenge: just focus on how strong we will be and how good we will look at the end!

Yours in Good Health


May Plank Challenge: Join Me, Won’t You?

For the month of May, as we are focusing on getting healthier, getting stronger, toning our bodies, and encouraging one another to accomplish our goals (especially when some of use really do NOT enjoy the exercises), we will look to the plank! And, no I am not talking about just laying various pieces of furniture and posting pictures via social media, I am talking about the real deal plank (AKA a hover.)

To perform a proper plank:

You should rest on your elbows, should length apart (your hands can come together at the center or go straight forward, but your forearms need to stay on the ground) and your toes should also be on the ground.  Keeping your entire core tight, and in a straight line, relaxing your head/neck so that you are looking straight down, you should hold this position. Plank view 1

Plank view 2

*If this position is too difficult or you are unable to hold it because of any medical/health conditions, you can hold this position on your hands (in push up position)



There are also some alterations that you can add in:

Leg Lifts: lift one leg at a time approximately 6 inches off the floor, hold for 5 seconds, then alternate with the other leg, all while holding your back, torso, and shoulders straight.

in the side view my leg is lifted a little high- only around 6" off the ground

in the side view my leg is lifted a little high- only around 6″ off the ground



leg height is better here

leg height is better here












Plank with arm lift

Plank with arm lift

Arm lifts: Lift one arms at a time to shoulder height, and hold for 5 seconds, then alternate with your other arm, and maintain that straight back, torso and shoulders. You can do these by themselves OR when you lift the opposite leg.



Plank with alternating leg/arm lift

Plank with alternating leg/arm lift





How are planks going to transform my body?

Planks work to strengthen the core muscles in your body (your abdominal and back muscles) directly. Then there are other muscles that help to stabilize you in this pose and they strengthen as well:  shoulder muscles, pectoralis (chest), quads (upper legs), gluteals (butt), sartorius (thigh), serratus anterior (side of chest), tensor fasciae latae (thigh/hip), and gastrocnemius (calves).

Increasing your ability to hold these plank positions will help to strengthen and tone those muscles, which will not only make you appear leaner in your core, but also tighten your legs and butt too! Because we are strengthening your muscles, you will be burning more calories, even at rest, so when you feel sore, that is your muscles strengthening, and your body burning fuel. So, feel the burn, and love the burn: it means you are making progress!

The Challenge (…if you choose to accept it):

And for those of you who did the April Squat Challenge, keep maintenance squats ranging from 50-100 5 days a week (if you are able physically and medically).  If you have any specific medical and/or physical limitations, you should speak with your personal healthcare provider before taking on a strenuous challenge.

Day 1: 1 minute

Day 2: 2 minutes

Day 3: 2.5 minutes

Day 4: 3 minutes

Day 5: 3.5 minutes

Day 6: 4 minutes


Day 8: 5 minutes

Day 9: 5.5 minutes

Day 10: 6 minutes

Day 11: 6.5 minutes

Day 12: 7 minutes

Day 13: 7.5 minutes

Day 14: REST DAY

Day 15: 8 minutes

Day 16: 8.5 minutes

Day 17: 9 minutes

Day 18: 9.5 minutes

Day 19: 10 minutes

Day 20: 10.5 minutes

Day 21: REST DAY

Day 22: 11 minutes

Day 23: 12 minutes

Day 24: 13 minutes

Day 25: 14 minutes

Day 26: 15 minutes

Day 27: 16 minutes

Day 28: 17 minutes

Day 29: 18 minutes

Day 30: 19 minutes

Day 31: 20 minutes

This is a HARD challenge BUT you can split up the planks into any set of reps and times that works for you and your body (i.e. split up the 20 minutes into 2 sets of 10 minutes in the morning doing 2 minute reps, so 5 planks in the morning and at night and you hit your 20 minute goal.) You should be able start with reps of 30 seconds and be able to increase that pretty quickly, adding in the arm and leg lifts to make it more challenging and to improve your core strength.

So let’s do this and get healthy, fit, and ready for summer!! And don’t forget to join the Facebook Page for the May Plank Challenge, where you can ask questions, get support, and (for those that dare) post their pre/post challenge bodies!

Yours in Good Health,


April Squat Challenge: Transform your lower Abs and legs

I love that there are random exercise “challenges” that keep popping up monthly.  I’m not sure who creates them, but for people like me who are super competitive, even with myself, the April Squat Challenge is the perfect challenge! The goal is to take a picture of yourself before day 1 and then after Day 30 and see the results.  This is a very intense regimen, and if you have any sort of lower joint (hip, ankle, knee) problems, this may not be the challenge for you, and if at any point you feel pain (other than the pain of intense muscle-building), you should stop; it may be too intense for you. But there’s no one stopping you from creating your own personal challenge! If you have a partner to join in on the fun, then do it, because you both can make sure that you have proper posture AND it will keep you honest. Feel free to post before and after pics at the end of the month!

Day #1- April Squat Challenge

Day #1- April Squat Challenge

What is the Challenge?

Squats help to sculpt your lower abs, legs, gluteals (your butt), and they help to improve your muscle strength, your speed when walking running (your gluteals are key when you first start running- even when not up hills), and improve your self image: who doesn’t feel great when their legs and butt look amazing in these warmer weather months? *These are intended to be without weights, but if you are already a ‘squatter’ and you want to add some low weights (after checking with your HCP or after checking with a trainer to ensure it is safe for you- go for it!).

Day 1: 30 squats

Day 2: 40 squats

Day 3: 50 squats

Day 4: 60 squats

Day 5: 70 squats

Day 6: 80 squats


Day 8: 90 squats

Day 9: 100 squats

Day 10: 110 squats

Day 11: 120 squats

Day 12: 130 squats

Day 13: 140 squats

Day 14: REST DAY

Day 15: 150 squats

Day 16: 160 squats

Day 17: 170 squats

Day 18: 180 squats

Day 19: 190 squats

Day 20: 200 squats

Day 21: REST DAY

Day 22: 220 squats

Day 23: 230 squats

Day 24: 240 squats

Day 25: 250 squats

Day 26: 260 squats

Day 27: REST DAY

Day 28: 265 squats

Day 29: 270 squats

Day 30: 280-300 squats

As you can see, the final goal is 300 squats!!  Let’s do this! Who’s with me?

Yours in Good Health


***Edited 4/2 20:35: To perform a squat appropriately, you want to squat straight down (feet hips width apart) as if you are about to sit in a chair (think butt out) as far down as you can go keeping your balance and posture, then stand back up straight.  To maintain a straight upper body posture, you can put an exercise ball between your upper back and a wall, to make sure you are keeping your upper body straight! You can do reps of whatever works for you with 30 second breaks, if you so choose! I am just going straight through and I have added weights (but I do lunges and squats a few times a week anyways).  Good Luck and don’t forget to add pre/post pics on the April Squat Challenge Facebook page I have created!!

Beware of “Pneumonia Weather”!

I know that my Mom has many “mom-isms” (sayings that are specific to her), and growing up I believed these to be common knowledge or fact, which now I know that some were completely special to our family. But, to her credit, her declaration of “pneumonia weather” was based upon when I would get it (as I did as a child due to severe asthma) based upon different weather patterns and, by George, she was onto something! The number of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) going around right now are staggering. and for most of us in the US, it is “pneumonia weather”.  To be clear, while I am referring to it as “pneumonia weather”, as that is what my mom calls it, I am just referring to RTIs, which are the leading cause of people missing school and/or work annually.

RTIWhat is “pneumonia weather”?

It always chimes in the back of my head when I see people, who are real positive thinkers, wearing short-sleeved shirts in this cold weather in the end of March and beginning of April  because they feel like it should be warm, so they are pushing the limits, and really freezing in the high hopes that it will get warm, which it does in the middle of the day (with sun) then right back to cold. Now, it has nothing to do, per say, with being under dressed for the weather, it is more just a time when not only are humans confused but so is nature.  The allergens from the trees and flowers starting to bloom, mold spores from the old leaves from fall that are now seeing the light of day after our winter thaw, are all out in the air floating about, and people are getting outside more (which is great) to get more active as it is more tolerable to exercise outside now. But, that cooler air can still cause airways to become reactive, and add in the allergens (which no one ever thinks about this early in the season), add people starting to get in shape and exercise outside again, and you have the perfect setting for people to get RTIs, especially for those who are high risk: people with asthma (or other chronic lung diseases), seasonal allergy sufferers, smokers, the very young and old, those with weakened immune systems, and people with obesity.

*This “pneumonia weather” can also happen when the seasons change from summer to fall with leaves on the ground, mold spores in the air, and newer chilly weather outside.

What is a RTI?

A respiratory tract infection is any sort of virus that causes a response, in any part of the respiratory tract: nose, ears, throat, lungs.  So it can be an ear infection, a sore throat, a runny nose/sinus infection, bronchitis.   All of these are considered respiratory tract infections, as all (minus your ears) are a part of the system that our bodies use to breathe and/or to help filter out the air that we breathe before it gets into the lungs.  So, the more allergens in the air, the more we are breathing in, the higher the risk of a reaction, especially if you are someone prone to respiratory tract infections. RTIs if severe enough, along with a chronic disease and a lowered immune system, could lead to pneumonia.

How do I prevent it?

Follow the normal precautions that you take to prevent illness, such as eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, washing your hands frequently, and staying clear of people who are sick (says the nurse; but you all know what I mean, keep your distance if someone is actively showing signs of illness and coughing/sneezing everywhere, as best you can).  But on top of these measures, if you are someone who tends to suffer from seasonal allergies, start taking allergy medication early in the season, i.e. now, because even though the allergen levels aren’t through the roof, they are much more than we have been experiencing, so be aware of that and pay attention to your body. If you are just getting back into shape, ease into it and don’t over-train or over exert your body because on top of your body trying to recover from an increase in exercise and responding to that, if you are also exercising outdoors, you are adding all sorts of allergens too, which can make you more at risk to react to the allergens and get sick. There are some small claims that probiotics can help to prevent RTIs, so it is worth a try, if you are at risk!

If you do get an RTI, rest, drink fluids, eat a clean diet, and stay home from school/work so you don’t infect others.  While you feel miserable for a few days, only about 15% of them are actually bacterial infections, so they are usually viral and will clear up on their own.  If you have a high fever that won’t break, are not getting better, or have difficulty breathing, you should not hesitate to call your Healthcare Provider to get checked out….but don’t push for antibiotics, they will prescribe them if they are necessary 🙂

Stay healthy and enjoy spring!

Yours in Good Health


Will Andro 400 make your muscles get bigger and in less time?

I have been seeing ads and have had tons of questions by friends that want to bulk up quickly and get totally ripped in half then time, using Andro 400.  Now, I think at this point in time all of my loyal readers know that I am usually touting that if something seems to good to be true, it usually is, right? The makers of this “supplement” claim that it will boost your metabolism and burn away belly fat, while simultaneously helping to build muscle. But is that really possible and does the supplement meet those claims?

What is Andro 400?

Andro 400 is a supplement containing androstenedione which is a precursor to testosterone and estrogen.  Apparently, the company claims that it can boost your testosterone levels by 400% to help you grow stronger, faster, along with improving sexual function (and arousal), and cuts down on recovery time after hard workouts just by taking 100-200mg per day.  I guess on paper that sounds pretty good: get cut, perform like a porn star, and feel great right after hard workouts?  It would be even better if those claims were scientifically founded…

Does it work?

The key question, right? Well, there was one major study that was performed in the late 1990’s when steroids and supplements were being banned from use by professional athletes, and people were claiming they were getting all bulked up from these supplements, so Iowa State University did a small study to assess the effects. Bummer for Andro makers. The study was performed on 20 men over an 8 week period, where half of the men enrolled were given 300 mg of Andro and the other half were given placebo (insignificant supplement- sugar/flour) that would have no effect on them.  What did they find? After 8 weeks of heavy training, lo an behold, they found NO significant difference between the men that took the placebo and those that took Andro.  The men who took the Andro did have an increase in estrogen levels (another bummer there).  But the positive side is that they were able to figure out that those with lower levels of testosterone were able to boost them up a bit, but if you had normal levels of testosterone in your body baseline, there was no change.  They also noted that the men who took the supplement in the study, had a 12% drop in their High density lipoprotein levels (HDL- the good cholesterol), which can lead to a build up of plaques in their arteries and significantly increase their risk of stroke and heart attack.

Is there a downside?

The problem with these supplements, and with anything that you put into your body that isn’t organic food, is that there are side effects, which can be bad. And as well all should have guessed by now, most medications/supplements are filtered through your liver, so you are putting yourself at risk for causing some damage to your liver, because on top of not truly knowing what the drug is doing to your body, they are not FDA approved, so you aren’t totally sure what you are ingesting. Your liver had a major part in converting estrogen to testosterone too, so flooding it with Andro can cause some major strain and could lead to some liver damage.  Also, if you have any sort of cancer or history of hormone sensitive cancers, it may increase your risk of tumors re-growing if you are changing your hormonal balance.  So anyone with any sore of hormonal imbalances should not take Andro 400 (or any other hormonal changing supplement- if you do need hormonal supplementation, you should be on a prescribed regimen from your HCP.) The boost in estrogen levels that some of the test subjects saw did not cause any effects because they took the supplement short-term, but long-term they could start to have female like features (grow breasts, shrinking of the testicles, etc), and for those that do increase their testosterone, they can have increased rage and mood swings, acne, and an increase in body hair.  Also, the drop in HDL, as stated above, can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack significantly.

Bottom line?

Don’t do it.  Eat a high protein diet, lift weights, get your favorite cardio on, and skip the Andro 400. It truly did sound too good to be true. If you are a woman, it can increase your testosterone and make you dude-like, and if you are a dude, you can start becoming more feminine, all while stressing out your liver (one of our most loved and vital of organs). That does not sound like anything I want to be a part of for certain, and I don’t think you should either.  If you do insist on taking either Andro 400 and any other Andro containing supplement, please get a physical by your HCP with some labs drawn to check your liver, cholesterol levels, and check your heart out, then follow-up with them a couple of months into taking the supplement.  It is unfortunate that these supplements, despite being found to only appear to cause harm, are still on the market, but they are.  So if you must take them, be safe, talk to your HCP, and note any side effects you may have…and if you are told to stop taking them by your HCP, please stop.  It is not with doing long-term damage to your body to have some pumped up muscle-filled physique now.

Yours in Good Health


Exercising in the heat: How to stay cool

It has been pretty to and humid out, making most people either exercise super early in the morning (like me) or later in the evening, avoiding the days heat, and if they can’t fit that in, they go to workout inside or just skip it.  With winter always a step away, you don’t want to skip your outdoors time; I wait all year for it to be warm enough to play outside!

How can we keep it cool?
A recent study from Roehampton University in London, looked at the response of athletes bodies in heat, and tried to find ways to help cool them and improve their physical performance in the heat.  They found a really simple solution, that didn’t actually affect their core temperatures (so their bodies weren’t actually any cooler) but they felt much cooler and were able to run longer in faster.  The simple solution was to put a soft flexible neck strap with reusable cool packs around the athletes necks while they ran on treadmills in humid 87 degree heat.

summer-runningIt is really all about perception; your body isn’t actually cooler, but you feel that it is, and you are able to push through and work out despite the heat.  Of course, there are risks associated with that, and you need to make sure to hydrate with water and electrolyte based fluids (coconut water, Gatorade, Pedialyte, etc.) and when you really feel hot, to prevent heat stroke, just take it easy and stay inside.  Also, I am not encouraging you to run at 12pm every day BUT I do think this is a good trick for those of us that want to run outside in the summer, and not be excessively effected by the heat…..and it may be helpful for those training for competitions.  Tricking your brain into feeling cooler, can help you out, just remember to listen to your body and if you are too overheated, take a break.

Try it out, stay cool, and get your exercise in the fresh air!!

Yours in Good Health

Is too much exercise bad for your immune system?

For years and years (healthcare providers) HCP’s have been telling you that “moderate” amounts of exercise are good for you, and your immune system, especially during the winter months to prevent colds, flu, respiratory infections, etc. And, I am not going to tell you any different, BUT I am going to give you an explanation as to why exercise can boost your immune system and how much exercise can actually put a strain on your immune system.  Actually, one study showed that people who didn’t exercise and started 12 weeks of moderate exercise had over a 50% drop in sick days over the next year!!

Who can benefit?
The best part is that everyone can!  Even with chronic diseases or autoimmune diseases, you can find YOUR level of moderate exercise and it will only benefit your body, your general health, and support a healthy immune system.  For example, if you are bed bound, there are arm exercises, rolling in bed, leg lifts…a form of exercise depends on what you are used to.  So, everyone should be getting some form of moderate exercise, there is NO excuse! There is always a way to find some small amount of time to add exercise to your day, even if it is taking stairs instead of the elevator running between meetings at work, parking far away from the place you need to be, or doing a fitness video at home; you can always shave a few minutes out of your day to fit it in!

How does it support your immune system?
So, the immune system is a whole network that has been created by our body to protect it from invasions from viruses and bacteria using various different hormones, chemicals, and cells to attack, as well as to remember the viruses in the future, to prevent further attacks and hone your body’s response.  In an effort to not get too deep into cellular anatomy and physiology, I just want to explain that some of the cells that respond are called cytokines (of which there are many different types).  Some of the cytokines release a signal to your white blood cells (the ones that increase in number to attack when there is an invader present in your system: your number will be elevated if you have a cold, for example, and get your blood drawn at your HCP, but it will drop back down to a “normal” level when you aren’t sick) that there is an invader (bacteria/virus), then there is an inflammatory response, and the white blood cells know to go in for the kill.  So, why am I telling you this?  Well, with a moderate amount of exercise, the cytokines are produced and released in moderate amounts, so your immune system is being challenged a little bit every time you exercise, and it strengthens your immune system because it is constantly working.

Why is too much bad?
If you overtrain, or exercise too much, you can cause damage to some of the muscles, or various different cells in your body, and it can stress your body.  When your body feels stressed, overexerted, or over taxed, your immune system is actually decreased because your body is working so hard to recover your muscles from training, that your immune responses can be lowered due to a release of higher cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a natural hormone that is released from the adrenal gland that helps to regulate metabolism, the immune system, inflammatory responses, as well as having other functions; it is basically your “stress” hormone and the one that jazzes you up during your “fight or flight” response.  The problem with is being constantly elevated, is that your body is never truly relaxed (which can occur in our modern way of living where everyone is running around, working tons, worried about everything, and constantly stressed even when we don’t realize it) and this can lead to slower immune system responses and slower healing by the body due to the way that cortisol makes your body react.  So, too much exercise can depress the cytokine release, and make your body slower to react to minor pathogens (viruses/bacteria) that may be trying to invade your body.

What is considered Moderate exercise?
Usually it is defined as 20-30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.  For me, that is not enough because my baseline is much more than that, so that is a great guideline but it needs to be based on your level of exercise specifically.  So, I would tell you that “moderate” really means what you feel comfortable with in exercise, can get through without feeling tortured and on a scale of 1-10 (one being barely any effort and 10 being extreme effort), it would be a level 4-6; where you are comfortable and can even talk during the exercise (not a lot mind you, but you aren’t struggling for breath).  Moderate exercise can vary with days that are a 6-8 (a little harder) and days that are a 4-5 (a little easier) but try to stay around that range for cardio.  You can push harder twice a week, for better results, but if you are happy with how in shape you are, try to keep it relatively even.  As far as lifting, you definitely want to add some muscle strength on top of your cardio, but again, don’t stress yourself out (i.e. you can barely lift your arms afterwards), but push yourself daily to the point that you know you have worked out and feel stronger.

What is too much?
Pushing yourself to run at a super fast pace and for a long distance when every step you feel like to want to stop and your legs feel like lead…that is too much.  You need to listen to your body (and non-runners, will probably say, “my body says that every time I run”, so I’m talking to those who are runners baseline!) Or if you are working out on the scale of an 8-10 every day, that is too much!!  You can go 8-10 once or twice a week, but really no more than that. If you feel strains in your muscles or muscle tears, you need to take a break and your body will let you know.  I totally understand the feeling of wanting to push your body to the limits EVERY time you work out, I have done that in the past, and I looked fantastic, but it isn’t sustainable over time, because as you overtrain, your body loses interest in wanting to work out and it gets harder and harder to push yourself to do so. Not to mention, that it ends up decreasing your immune system.

For my avid exercising readers, just listen to your body; it will tell you when you are overtraining!  Sometimes every step feels so horrible you just can’t exercise- then STOP,  just lift weights, or take a break and catch up on some missed TV shows and DON’T FEEL GUILTY about it!! Just go back to your normal routine the next day, Nurses orders 🙂 You really need to look at exercise as everything else, do it in moderation, and it will be sustainable over your whole life, not something that you stop and start, which is the key to fitness; sustainability.

For those of you who don’t exercise, I hope this inspires you to park farther away from the store and get a walk, skip the elevator and take the stairs, and grab a friend (bundle up) and go for a wintry walk and a cup of coffee/tea!  Try to get out there and get that heart pumping to stimulate your immune system!!  It actually is good for you, gets you out, and can help you also beat the winter blues.

Yours in Good Health


I have recently been introduced to the world of kettle bells and my abs are thanking me for it!  I thought that it couldn’t really make that much of a difference in my workout, but it really has.  I have 5lb, 10lb, and 20lb kettle bells; the 5lbs for when I am learning a new workout so that I don’t hurt myself and the 10lb and 20lb for actual muscle-building purposes.  They are great because I have totally new workout routines and am working my muscles in different ways.  Also, you are combining cardio with strength training which is the best kind of workout; you increase your metabolic rate significantly, so it truly is a fat burning workout.  The bells are so different from  regular dumbbell weights because they are unstable and it requires extra concentration and muscle strength to stabilize the bells, allowing you to use more muscles with each workout AND most often you are using your core muscles to aid in the stabilization.  Many of the workouts are full head-to-toe workouts and utilize every muscle in your body, that focus on muscle movement and toning, so you don’t bulk up (you can if you want to and use higher weights, but I like to tone).


Also, its fun, new to your body (so you burn more calories), and you are supposed to supplement your workout twice a week with kettle bells so it changes your routine. Kettle bell routines are easy to learn (Turkish get-ups are about the most challenging and even I could get them down quickly!), also it is low impact on your joints, and what is better than high intensity cardio that is low stress on your joints??

Give it a try, and let me know what you think, they have changed my abs!!

Yours in Good Health