Colorado Bound

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coloradoThis past week we traveled to Colorado. Our children (9 and 12) had never seen mountains before, so we decided it was a good time to travel the 14 hours by car. One of the most memorable moments was riding through the mountains on horseback. We took a wonderful tour and learned a lot about the natural resources and history of Colorado.

We noticed a lot of devastation due to a storm last year that wiped out large portions of roads and trees high up in the peaks. In a span of minutes, a sunny, bright afternoon can transform into a dark and dangerous fight for life. I was amazed every time I saw a person biking through the mountains. Not just because of the level of difficulty, but also because of the potentially treacherous conditions. Wowza!

In Boulder, it was common to see a woman biking about town with a Yoga mat strapped to her back or running along the wide open road. Definitely a stark contrast to Minnesotan’s, as most women tote a mat in the trunk of her car. If you plan to visit this glorious state, be sure to look along the roadside for friends as you will not find them in the weight room 😉

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Are you a cheater?!

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On June 27, Sharon Osbourne talked about her food addiction and weight loss journey on ET. It caught my attention when she confessed that she does have cheat days. While I’m certain she has people who absolutely love and hate her, I think her no-nonsense attitude rocks!

The reality of weight loss is that no-one is perfect. We all have times when life takes over and we eat things that aren’t good for us. Sometimes it feels ‘Oh so wonderful’ going down, but not so great afterward. Vomiting is definitely not the answer.

So, how do we maintain weight loss?

The key is maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes more fruits and veggies than anything else on a daily basis and, even on cheat days, going right back to your healthy eating routine. I’ve said it before and you’ve seen it elsewhere, but it’s absolutely, positively TRUE – Abs are made in the kitchen and not in the weight room. The amount of fat we have on our bodies is reflected in our waistline and there’s no (healthy) way around it.

Why even bother exercising?

Exercise speeds up the process of weight loss and strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system, among other things. Unless you’re a Farmer or in a physical labor profession, exercise must happen on a regular (weekly) basis in order to be physically healthy. That’s just how we’re made!

Are you a cheater?

I’m certain we should all say “Yep, I’m a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!” But the people who can look so darn good have simply reverted to eating their vegetables and fruits.

Why should we care?

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image1Food, Energy, and Exercise

The healthier we eat, the more energy our bodies have to exercise and keep up with daily tasks. Glycogen fuels our muscles and carbohydrates, in the form of fruit and veggies, provide the best fuel. Lack of fuel results in excess fat in the blood and reduced beta oxidation, which promotes strength loss over time.

I’m certain you’ve probably heard about the signs of dehydration. A few examples include, profuse sweating, muscle cramps, dry mouth, swollen tongue, dark urine, diarrhea, and lethargy. Proper hydration is an essential component for optimal physical performance and energy.

How much water do we need? Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half. That number serves as the baseline for the amount of water your body needs in ounces every day. When exercising, we must drink more water to stay hydrated.

In addition to drinking water, a single packet of the dietary supplement “Emergen-C” can be used to replenish essential vitamins and minerals and encourage rehydration. Be aware that sports drinks normally include high quantities of sugar or sugar substitutes that may quickly increase blood sugar for a short period of time and then quickly drop off, making you feel tired.

It’s important to note even when we’re physically or emotionally tired, consistently eating nutritious foods and staying hydrated gives us the energy to literally “go that extra mile!”

Exercise

The cardiovascular system includes the heart muscle and blood vessels. One reason we want to include cardiovascular exercise in our weekly workouts is because it strengthens the heart and increases the volume of blood the heart can pump through the body. When used effectively, cardiovascular exercise speeds up the process of losing weight.

Did you know that extended periods of vigorous cardio exercise may actually impair muscle growth? When raising and maintaining a high heart rate, 90-100% of your maximum heart rate, for long periods of time (longer than 65 – 90 minutes), the body secretes more cortisol (stress hormone). Increased levels of cortisol in the body can encourage fat storage and inhibit weight loss. If you’re exercising hard and not losing weight, you may be training too hard. To lose weight, it’s recommend that we exercise within 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate.

When lifting heavy weights, it’s best to complete cardio exercise at the end of a workout to keep cortisol levels in check. Benefits of lifting heavy weights and training hard include, but are not limited to, increased: cross-sectional muscle growth, capillary density, mitochondrial density, aerobic energy and ATP storage. Lifting heavy weights means lifting the heaviest weight possible for your while maintaining and executing good form the entire time. If you’ve never lifted heavy weights, it’s best to seek the advice of a personal trainer to ensure proper form and technique and reduce the risk of injury.

A simple explanation of why we should consider lifting heavy weights, according to Mike Bracko, Ed. D. an exercise physiologist in Calgary, Alberta, is “when you lift heavier weights, your muscles pull on your tendons, and your tendons pull on your bones, which has been shown to help increase bone mass, a major factor preventing osteoporosis.” Heavy weight lifting also increases the metabolism and promotes more calories burned over a longer period of time.

While we could go into very complicated explanations on each topic, my intention is to give a little insight into what’s going on inside the body when we eat healthy food and exercise.

Take your workout to the next level by eating lots of leafy green vegetables, good fats found in avocado and nuts, whole fruits, and clean protein such as legumes, poultry, and fish and incorporate lifting heavy weights into your weekly exercise routine.

After all, it may just save your life!