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Nod To Mod

The summer is a time for relaxing, adventure and a bit of excess. Once again, the rhetoric of “after the summer, I will get back into gear” echoes from the mouths of many.low acid

Often, when you are in “excess mode” you think “what’s one more?” (dessert, drink, hamburger)…can it really hurt me? But when do you know enough is enough?

When your body starts talking to you…it’s time to listen.

Our bodies have a natural pH balance (the measure of acidity). In simplicity, it’s the way our body regulates the imbalance of things we ingest to keep our bodies in harmony. Your pH can be measured in your stomach acid, urine, saliva and your blood.

Generally, our normal body pH is 7.0. A pH below 7.0 is acidic.  Anything below a pH of seven is considered “acidic”, and anything above seven is “alkaline” or base. However, it is not the same in all parts of the body. Every body part has its own pH levels and its normal functioning depends upon maintaining normal pH.

Blood pH
The pH measurement of blood is found in the range of 7.36 to 7.42.

Urine pH
The pH level of urine may range from 4.5 to 5.0-6.0.

Stomach pH
Your stomach secretes hydrochloric acid therefore the pH of your stomach varies, from 1-2 up to 4-5. When you eat, the stomach releases proteases and hydrochloric acid to aid in digestion. The proteases break down proteins and work best in an acidic environment or low pH, so after a high-protein meal, your stomach pH may drop to as low as 1 or 2. Buffers quickly raise the pH back to 3 or 4. After the meal has been digested, your stomach pH returns to a resting level of about 4 or 5.

Sometimes, when we overindulge, we can cause our bodies to try to work harder to maintain the acidic balance in our stomach. An overly acidic stomach pH can occur from an acid forming diet (alcohol, processed foods, high fats, etc), emotional stress, toxic overload, and/or immune reactions or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients.  The body will try to compensate for acidic pH by using alkaline minerals.  If the diet does not contain enough minerals to compensate there can be a buildup of acids in the cells.

Acidic pH levels in your stomach can start to have an adverse affect on your body and cause things such as bloating, heartburn, irregular bowels, weak nails, etc. These are signs that you may not be feeding your body well.

I can attest first hand to this scenario. After a summer diet high in excess food, alcohol and advil (to counteract the two prior items), I started to feel very sick with severe stomach aches and heartburn. After an endoscopy, it was determined I gave myself an ulcer. Go figure. The girl who is known for living and breathing good health. I fell into the trap of excess…assuming a little “more” couldn’t hurt me since I was so conscientious in every other aspect of my diet/life.

Once again, a nod to my father and the premise he has always preached…”Everything in moderation.” Even if you over-index in one or two aspects of your diet, it can have detrimental affects on your well-being. In my case, too many summer cocktails and too many Advil to counteract the morning after. Ok, and maybe a little excess stress stirred into the mix. Your body is a miraculous mechanism that will give incredible insight to any imbalances. It’s important to listen to the message.

It’s ok to indulge but know when enough is too much.

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Summer Reads

No matter how crazy my life gets, I always find time to read.  My Kindle is usually in my purse for whenever I have a few free minutes.  And, summer is the perfect opportunity to read more. Beach trips and vacations practically scream for something juicy.

As we always like to remind our readers, it is important to find that balance in your life. Books are a great way to escape from your day-to-day routine, fantasize, get inspired and maybe a little motivated to make changes in your own life. No need to feel guilty. Put your feet up and enjoy.

Below, is a list of some of my favorites- both old and new.  I am not a literary critic, just someone who loves a good story from all different genres. images-1

Light Summer Reads

Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian

When Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography, spending all her free time at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies, Laurel discovers a deeply hidden secret–a story that leads her far from her old life, and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her. A page turner.

Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty

A line from this book’s summary drew me right in.  A wife stumbles across a letter written by her husband, which begins “My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…”

What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty

Yes, same author. She is great for quick-paced summer reading.  In this novel, Alice falls and forgets the past decade.  She is surprised to learn that she has three children and is getting a divorce.  The last thing she remembers is being pregnant with her first child and being madly in love with her husband.  Sounds like a cliché, but really makes you stop and think.

Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J. Watson

Watson’s main character, Christine, struggles with a big problem: Every time she goes to sleep, she forgets her name, her identity, her location, even her husband (due to a rare kind of amnesia).  Christine starts to keep a journal to remind herself of the basic details, and through it she learns her husband, Ben, is keeping facts from her. Is he trying to protect her from a dark past, or is he concealing something more sinister? A real thriller!

Great Stories  (A little deeper than your average summer beach read.)

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Differbaugh

A story of an 18-year old girl who grew up in foster care and now struggles to survive as an adult. The story weaves between past and present and forces her to confront a painful secret.

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

This story brings together two very unlikely people and breaks your heart.  Just read it – so good!

The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer

A promising student of architecture leaves his native country of Hungary to study in Paris in the late 1930s — until his scholarship is revoked when anti-Jewish laws go into effect.  He returns to Hungry as the war escalates.  The character’s happiest days, and later, their struggles, are rendered in a sweeping, epic fashion.  I have read many books on the Holocaust and  hesitated to read another as they can be so heart wrenching – but it was so worth it.

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

This unique story of a Nigerian girl and a British woman is not at all your typical novel.  The story challenges you to think about concepts of civility and ethical choices.  One of those books that keeps you thinking afterwards.

Memoirs

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

This moving memoir draws you in from the first pages.  Cheryl lost her mother and her marriage and with nothing else to lose, she embarks on a thousand mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail hoping to heal and find herself again. Strayed’s honesty and humor made this book a page-turner for me.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison

Ever since he was young, John Robison struggled to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A fascinating read – Robinson is a born story-teller.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingslover

Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves or learn to live without it.   Don’t be afraid of the title; Kingsolver is a gifted story teller.  It reads like a novel and is full of wit and humor.

On My List to Read This Summer  

Since I have not yet read these, I am not able to offer an opinion, but they are on my reading list for the summer.

I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You, by Courtney Maum

In this reverse love story set in Paris and London, a failed monogamist attempts to woo his wife back and to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love with your spouse?

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

According to the New York Times, this novel is ”Haunting, sophisticated . . . a novel so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents.”

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, by Marja Mills

Harper Lee wrote one of America’s best-loved novels, To Kill a Mockingird.  She has not written another novel since and has not granted any interviews for the past fifty years.  That is, until she invited Marja Mills to move in next door to her and share her life story. 

All Fall Down, by Jennifer Weiner

On the outside, she’s got it all: money, a beautiful family, and a nice house.  But an addiction to prescription pills could erase the lovely picture.

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Give It A Rest

Cardinal rule of exercise – you have to allow your body to rest and repair. Although this is widely known, I often talk to people who never rest and exercise 7 days a week.

Why Rest Is Important:

  • The body repairs and strengthens itself in-between workouts. Continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athlete.stock-footage-woman-drinks-coffee
  • During recovery, the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place – meaning, this is where you build muscle.
    • Conditioning requires a balance between overload (pushing the muscles) and recovery. Too much overload or too little recovery result in both physical and psychological symptoms.
  • Rest helps maintain a better balance between home, work &  fitness goals.
  • Sleep is key to keeping hormone levels steady which aid in stress and muscle recovery, as well as a stable mood.  Sleep deprivation can also affect aerobic endurance.
  • Too  few rest and recovery days can lead to overtraining syndrome : when you train beyond the body’s ability to recover.

Common Warning Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome 

  • Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
  • Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
  • Pain in muscles and joints
  • Sudden drop in performance
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
  • Decrease in training capacity / intensity
  • Moodiness, irritability or depression
  • Loss of enthusiasm for working out
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • A compulsive need to exercise 

Principal of Adaptation & How It Applies To Recovery

When we undergo the stress of physical exercise, our body adapts and becomes more efficient – Principal of Adaptation (also discussed in our “The Power of Your Heart” blog entry). When you do not properly rest from the stress of physical exercise, your body cannot adapt as easily to the changes.

The body can only tolerate so much stress before it breaks down and risks injury. Doing too much, too quickly will result in muscle damage and have adverse effects (too many days of exercise). Likewise, doing too little, too slowly will not result in improvement (going through the motions).

The other key component of building your fitness level is to vary your workouts between cardio and strength conditioning. All too often, people will focus on one or the other and constantly work the same muscles without rest. Ever try a new class and couldn’t move the next morning? Excellent example of muscles you are not training in your normal workout. Varying your workouts allows the muscles you typically use to rest and helps your body adapt to change (improve your fitness level).

My Take

People always ask me what I do for my workouts. I am a pretty scheduled kinda girl who likes to plan my week. I work out 5 days/wk with 2 days rest.

3 days I vary my workout with high intensity interval and strength training at K2 fitness. In between those days, I do 2 days/wk of interval sprints for 30 minutes on my treadmill (5 min running/2 min sprint circuits).

I believe in those 2 days of rest (as hard as it is sometimes to mentally convince myself to not workout). I feel so refreshed when I  go back to my workouts.

When I workout, I workout hard and make every minute count. It’s better to maximize your time at the gym and work hard the days you go then going through the motions every day and not improving your fitness level. Workout, repair and workout again.

And think of all the time you will save with less days at the gym.

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