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Falling Off The Wagon

Look – nobody is perfect, right? Winter is tough. You are inside – a lot – and all you want to do is eat. I am there. I get it. Forget about the weekends with dinners and friends and just not wanting to cook. So off starts this roller coaster of poor eating habits and consuming too much food.falling_off_wagon

Typically, I have a very specific pattern. I eat really well Monday-Friday and then let a little loose on the weekends. Lately, this is not working for me as Sunday melds to Monday and once I am off schedule on Monday – hey, the rest of the week is shot, right? Yes, this happens to even those that preach health and fitness 24/7.

The only feather in my cap is I still try to eat good quality foods – but just too many (ok, and maybe OD’ing on chocolate and Petron Café a bit since Valentine’s Day. Oh, and that piece of eggplant parm pizza this weekend).

There’s a little bit of consolation in all of this.

  1. I workout regularly and they are not easy workouts
  2. I am still eating less than the average American
  3. I can still fit into my pants (yes, they are tighter)
  4. I am so consistent in my eating/workouts (for the last umpteen years) it really does not have a drastic effect on my body

But, how do I feel?

I AM:

Crankier
More anxious
Fuzzier (I attribute some of this to the over-indulgence in drinking as well)
Less patient
Fuller
More tired
Full of cravings I had gotten rid of
Feeling a little out of control

How do we get off the gerbil wheel and get back in control?
It’s not all or nothing and starving yourself for a day or two to “make up” for the extra calories. This daunting idea of having to give up everything and deprive yourself will only set you up for failure or cause you to go to the opposite extreme.

My best advice is to pick one thing to change.
One thing. And stick with it every day.

Suggestions to pick from:

  • Drink a cup of water with every meal/snack
  • Stop eating after 8 pm
  • Eat breakfast
  • Eat 3 decent meals and snack on only fruits in-between
  • Give up the daily caramel latte
  • Remove candy from your diet (including chocolate)
  • Remove your go-to high carb comfort food (pretzels, popcorn, cereal) and replace it with something light and filling (apple, banana, lowfat organic greek yogurt)
  • Don’t eat any food on the couch
  • Always sit at a table/counter when you eat
  • Brush your teeth after eating (this really works!)
  • Refrain from drinking cocktails Monday-Friday
  • Eliminate added sugar
  • Drink a glass of cleansing tea every night before bed
  • Add 20 minutes of exercise every day
  • Add 10 minutes of meditation every morning

By placing the focus on one thing – it makes it much easier to succeed and other pieces will naturally fall into place. Less emphasis on “I need to get it together” and feeling overwhelmed with not knowing where to start, and more emphasis on improving one manageable thing that will get you to a more attainable goal.

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The Power of Your Heart

There are many well-known health benefits associated with regular participation in physical activity including:

healthy-heart

  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Weight gain prevention
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Reduced level of depression
  • Weight loss
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure
  • Lower risk of stroke

What you might not know is the remarkable capacity of the body to adapt to exercise.  Exercise creates physiological adaptations to the heart, helping it pump blood more efficiently therefore; allowing it to accomplish more, with less exertion. The more you exercise, the more efficient your heart becomes. This is called “adaptation”.

Facts about the heart:

  • At an average resting heart rate of 70 beats per minute, the heart can comfortably (average fitness level and no heart disease) perform at twice its resting value. The average adult can train between 122-181 beats per minute.
  • The amount of blood pumped by the heart can increase as much as 50-60% above resting values to meet the demands of exercise.
  • The average adult pumps about 5 liters of blood per minute. When exercising, the amount of blood your heart pumps can increase to almost eight times its resting value. A sedentary person will give a cardiac output of 20-22 liters per minute while an elite athlete will exhibit an output of 35-40 liters per minute.

Stroke Volume

Increased stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped through the heart) is a training effect of aerobic exercise and allows a fit individual to pump more blood per beat, resulting in a lower heart rate during a workout.

You may have experienced this when starting a training program. In the beginning, you might have been gasping for breath and not able to keep up with the intensity. As your program progresses, your breathing and stroke volume becomes more efficient, allowing you to breathe easier, hence maximize your performance.

This is why less fit individuals may have a harder time making it up a flight of stairs or walking across a parking lot while for a fit person – it’s just a way of life. For inactive people, their lungs and heart cannot handle the oxygen demands required for performing the exercise. They can’t get it to their organs fast enough.

CO2 Output

When you increase maximum blood flow to pump blood more efficiently it saturates your blood with oxygen and removes CO2 efficiently. Removing CO2 at a higher rate increases your performance and gives you greater aerobic power. As your body becomes more efficient with exercise, it is able to extract oxygen from the blood more quickly.

As much as 88% of your blood flow during exercise is directed to the muscles (active tissues)! The more you exercise, the higher the number of capillaries you build in your muscle fiber, which means more oxygen in your muscles (faster!) and increased fuel storage.

So what does this mean?

As your fitness level improves and your rate of breathing becomes more efficient, you are able to deliver more oxygen throughout your body more quickly. You can accomplish more, with less exertion, at a higher level of performance.

Be good to your heart and it will show you the love in return.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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