6 Tips To Improve Your Sleep

A good night’s sleep can be elusive to many people. The bad news is—lack of sleep may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts!

How does poor sleep affect weight loss?

If you are sleep deprived, your metabolism will not function properly (your hormones may be out of whack).

The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat. When you are sleep-deprived, your body excretes more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin OR you are more resistant to it (researchers aren’t sure). High circulating ghrelin plus a lack of (or resistance to) leptin is a recipe for disaster!

To add to the “hormones out of whack” issue, the more sleep-deprived you are, the more your adrenal glands excrete cortisol. Cortisol stokes your appetite :-(.

Hormones aside, when you’re tired, you’re more likely to make food choices based on whatever is easiest and will make you feel better in that moment.

Hormones that are out of whack combined with a tired brain that can’t make good decisions spells disaster for someone trying to eat better!

So, one thing I tell my San Jose personal training clients is that if they want to have better weight loss results, they MUST take note of their sleep–both quality and quantity.

Here are my top 6 tips for getting better sleep:

1). Support your body’s natural rhythms
-Be careful of napping too long (stick with about 30 minutes)
-Avoid sleeping in too long on weekends
-Attempt to get to bed at the same time each night

2). Control your exposure to light
-Expose yourself to natural light as soon as you can in the morning
-If you work indoors, try to work near natural light
-If you work indoors, get outdoors a few times a day
-Avoid electronic devices right before bed. The LED light interupts melatonin production
-When it is time to sleep, make sure your room is DARK (watch out for LED clocks!)

3). Get regular exercise
-The more vigorous the exercise, the more sleep promoting it is
-Exercise too close to bedtime can interfere with some people’s sleep

4). Be mindful of what you eat and drink
-Be careful about afternoon caffeine
-Avoid big meals late at night
-Figure out if evening alcohol disrupts your sleep in the middle of the night
-Avoid too many liquids in the hour before you go to bed

5). Improve your sleep environment
-Optimal room temperature is 63-67 degrees
-Dim the lights in the 30 minutes leading up to bed
-Keep noise down
-Experiment with pillows, mattress toppers, etc. to find the best bed/pillow combination

6). Wind down/clear your head
-Create bed-time ritual (yoga, stretching, meditation, reading , aromatherapy)
-Create a to-do list for tomorrow…….and then let all the “head chatter” go

If you can improve your sleep/sleep habits over time, you may just start to see excess pounds drop off just a little bit easier!

“I would argue that sleep is probably the most important thing a person can do if they’re ready to lose weight,” –Michael Breus, PhD, sleep specialist

Image credit: www.flickr.com/table4_9

The body you want is not going to happen overnight

There is no question that we all wish we could look like the models on the magazines, or the toned and ripped athletes that we see on TV and the movies. The problem is that a lot of people seem to want everything to happen fast and they expect to get huge rewards from very little efforts. This is something that we can see happening in all areas of life. Individuals looking to become wealthy by working a few months on a new idea, or people hoping to achieve the body that Brad Pit had in Troy, by going to a gym for a couple of months and eating energy bars every night.

The real world works quite different from what we see on TV and the movies. The only way to be able to reach your goals in life, is to work hard to obtain them. If achieving a perfect body was something easy to do, we would not be seeing so many overweight people out there. Let’s get through some important information that you need to consider before you start to work on changing your appearance.

Educate yourself on proper nutrition
You could hit the gym every single day for many hours and you would never be able to achieve the kind of body that you want if your diet is not good. Eating junk food with soft drinks is not going to provide your body with the required nutrition that you need in order to burn fat and build muscle.

Get plenty of sleep
We know that you are probably wondering when we are going to start to talk about the best muscle building and fat burning exercises, but proper dieting and getting enough rest are more important than the kind of exercise that you do. The ideal amount of time for sleep is at least 8 hours a day, but some people claim that they can get more than enough rest from 6 to 7 hours of sleep per day. Just make sure that you feel rested when you wake up and that should be good enough. The reason why this is so important is because muscles don’t grow when you hit the gym, they grow when you rest after your workouts.

Include cardio and weight training in your workouts
If you want to have a toned body, you need to be able to get plenty of cardio, but you also need to lift weights to promote muscle growth while you burn fat. We recommend that you look for a professional trainer that will give you the best kind of workout routine for your needs.

Know your genetic limitations
Anyone can achieve a fit and toned body, but you cannot expect to look exactly like any guy that has a toned and muscular body. There are certain parts of your body that are never going to get bigger than their genetic makeup allows. This is the case with your ankles and your wrists. Find out if you are an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph and this will give you a good idea of the kind of body you can achieve.

Conclusion
Being consistent and understanding that it takes years to build a good body is essential for success. The reason why so many men fail to transform their bodies, is because they quit after a couple of months. They expected to get huge results in just a few months, but they only see very small gains. What they fail to realize is that it takes years to build a great body and those little gains will eventually lead to the body they always wanted.

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Sitting disease

SItting DiseaseTim Cook, the CEO at Apple, reportedly said yesterday at a conference that “a lot of doctors believe sitting is the new cancer.” And people still wonder why standing desks were innovated? Here is the reason why; Tim Cook, CEO at Apple, reportedly announced at a conference that several doctors believe sitting is like the new cancer. Not only is sitting the new disease, but is also related to the increased cancer risks.

Sitting disease is on the rise and is associated with myriads of health issues regardless of whether you workout or not. Another ensuing research revealed that the inactive lifestyle can distraught an individual’s mental health, breathing, and also increase risk of cancer. However, are these assumptions about sitting disease true or false?

Marc Hamilton, Ph.D. professor at the Inactivity Physiology Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, who has decades of experience in conducting researches of the effects of inactivity on the body, claims that he has conducted over 1,000 studies on the sitting disease since the year 2004. Mr. Hamilton compares the sitting cancer to smoking habits. He says that people used to smoke without knowing its health risks.

According to Marc’s research, sitting too much does not compare to very minimal exercise. He believes that every hour of the day is very significant to human physiology; therefore you can not only depend on the few hours you exercise. Marc’s most recent research indicates that the most inactive people have two times probability of contracting diseases such as diabetes, compared to the most active people throughout the day. The risk is even higher than people who consume a lot of sugar.

The bottom line is, Tim Cook and the rest are simply trying to make people realize the danger they put themselves in when they spend the better part of their day just seated- be it at home or in the office, and it is high time people start dealing with this issue. Exercise is great, but for some reasons such as enhances blood flow, builds muscle, slows aging and great health in general. Light activity on the other hand is different from exercise, but it too has its benefits, which exercising cannot cater for.

Same case scenario; you can’t miss working out simply because you are eating healthy, or indulge in unhealthy eating simply because you work out. The good thing is that the problem has been discovered, and the next thing after establishing the problem factor is finding a way to solve it or manage it. Just like before when people used to smoke and weren’t aware of the dangers they were exposing themselves to. Now that people know what smoking can do to one’s health, those who still do are fully aware of the health problems they may likely incur as a result of smoking.

With the same mind set, we now know what the sitting cancer can do to oneself. So what do you do about it in order to avoid incurring diabetes or mental issues? The answer is simple; Stay active

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Low Carb Diet May Be the Way to Go

In the recent past, the principle of low carb diet has been trending in the area of weight loss. However, there has been a lot of conflicting information on nutrition and weight loss making it difficult for the average person to understand how it works and how to apply it.

In respect to that, we shall clear the air on the same by looking at some of the facts backed by pure science on how the human body actually metabolizes food.

The low carb approach


This approach has fetched high popularity due to several reasons. People have finally realized that the low fat/high carb approach that has been promoted for years doesn’t work very well. In fact, it not only leaves us fatter but it has been blamed for several illnesses and health complications.

Most Americans for instance are known of eating too much carbs and are deficient in the healthy dietary fats. With the new low carb approach, many of them are now cutting carbs and avoiding them completely. This is disastrous health wise.

In the past, people have tried the low carb approach and noticed significant weight loss. Scientifically, dieting on low carbs will reduce weight but not body fat. To explain this further, it’s vital to know that the human body holds 2.4gms of water for every gram of carbohydrates consumed. Lowering carb intake thereby means holding less water in the body but the fat content remains relatively high. As much as we go low carbs, the component should not be avoided completely.

Extremely low carb diets have been blamed for several health complications. A low carb diet depletes the muscles of glycogen leaving one with sluggishness after an active workout. The brain uses carbs for energy and thus the brain will not function properly with low carb diet.
French and Canadian researchers have found that consuming carbohydrate does not inhibit fat burning for individuals not exercising.

However, another researcher called Jeff Volek, a professor of nutrition argues that a low carb diet enhances the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel instead of glycogen-a byproduct of carbohydrate stored in the liver and muscles. According to professor Volek:-

  1. One should not be afraid in eating food such as chicken skin, marbled meat, butter, cream and saturated fat. All these are used as fuel but they are not stored as fat in the body. They don’t accumulate in the blood vessels.
  2. Scheduling of sweat days – these are the days in which the workout should help in burning out fat. Lifting heavyweights for around an hour helps to burn out fat in the body.
  3. Fighting soreness with omega 3-s. Research shows that taking a gram of fish oil every day may improve heart health, ease inflammation and relieve delayed muscle soreness after an exercise. Glucosamine and chon-droitin relieve achy joints if taken daily.
  4. Mastering of a low carb meal improves the body fitness. This is a mixture of mushrooms, sausage, cream, cheddar and brown meat in relative quantities.

Carbs are fine if consumed in small to moderate amounts and on days you do exercise, carbs are stored in the muscles and not as fat.

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Walk Fit

Walking is a great addition to your current workout routine. It has a plethora of benefits and is a universal exercise. You can do it anywhere, and mostly anyone can do it, it’s free, it doesn’t require special equipment, and you can do it any time of day. By just adding 30 minutes of walking into your daily workout routine, you can change you! The benefits are countless.

It lowers blood pressure that can also be good for your cholesterol levels, and in turn reduces the risk of obesity. Walking is not only one of the best activities for your health and mental well-being, it can help you lose weight and keep it off. It will help your heart become more efficient and every day activities will become easier. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, and benefit from a little Vitamin D from getting outside.

Benefits of Walking:

  • It strengthens your heart. Regular walking reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • It lowers disease risk. It slashes your risks of type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers.
  • It keeps weight in check. It helps you lose weight and keep it off.
  • It can help prevent dementia.
  • It can help prevent osteoporosis. As a weight-bearing activity, it helps strengthen bones.
  • It tones. A good walk help shape and tone your legs, giving definition to calves, hamstrings and lifting your glutes.
  • It tones your arms. All the regular movement you experience in your arms while walking will help tone your arms, shoulders and even upper back.
  • It boosts your vitamin D levels. A little bit of sunshine outside each day will put you in a great mood and help your bone health and immunity.
  • It gives you energy. A brisk walk with help boost your circulation and increase oxygen supply to every cell in your body.
  • It makes you happy. Regular moderate-intensity exercise is a great antidepressant. It helps reduce stress and anxiety. It can also be done with friends while enjoying a nice chat.

Even though you are already in a regular workout routine at the gym several times a week, doesn’t mean walking isn’t for you. The key to overall fitness is cross training, or participating in various activities, and walking is the perfect complement to any training regimen. By adding walking to your routine, you end up training opposing muscle groups and end up balancing out your strength and reducing the chance of injury. Also, if you are used to high impact activities, your body could benefit from taking it down a notch once in awhile and walking. You’ll get all the benefits of exercise without the wear and tear and giving your muscles time to recoup.

Add a walk to your daily workout routine. You’ll be able to cash in on all the additional benefits it has. Speak with your trainer and see when the best time for you would be to work that walk into your schedule. Sometimes, to get you moving during the day, first thing in the morning may be best for you. Or, if you feel a little sluggish and tired by mid-day, head out for a walk on your lunch. Start walking towards a healthier you!

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Snacking, Choose Wisely

There is nothing worse than that hungry feeling in between meals. You don’t want to ruin all the hard work in your weight loss program by eating snacks throughout the day. You don’t have to have that feeling, there are lots of healthy snacks for weight loss that are delicious and still nutritious.

A good rule to follow when looking for healthy snack foods is to make sure you look for snacks that are high in protein and contain complex carbohydrates. Protein is critical because it is a primary component of every cell in the human body. The body uses protein to make and mend tissue as well as to reproduce bone, muscle, hair, nail, skin and blood cells. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and come in two forms, simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates are your better choice, such as whole grains. However, you can choose simple carbohydrates as long as you choose “good” simple carbohydrates, like the ones found in fresh fruits.

It is important to try to keep your snack foods within the range of approximately 100 to 150 calories and not to have them in an amount that would take you over your daily calories count. If you are allowed 1600 calories per day then it is reasonable to have three meals of about 400 calories each and two to three snacks of approximately 100-150 calories each. This should keep you within a calorie count to lose weight and remain on a healthy diet eating plan.

In addition to selecting snacks containing high protein and low carbohydrates, making sure to snack regularly in between meals is vital. It’s a great idea to get in tune with your internal hunger clock; don’t wait until your stomach starts talking to you. Practicing portion control will make snacking more effective for you. Instead of grabbing an entire bag of nuts from the kitchen cabinet, try measuring out the appropriate serving size ahead of time.

Here is a list of some good snack choices.

  • Apple slices
  • Whole grain bread sticks
  • Unsalted rice cakes
  • Baked tortilla chips
  • Nuts (1 ounce or less)
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Fresh fruit
  • Unsweetened canned fruit
  • Baked apple
  • Raisins
  • Frozen grapes
  • Celery
  • Dark chocolate
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Low-fat/fat free fruit yogurt

Eating healthy snack foods is just one part of a health maintenance strategy that should incorporate eating healthy and being active. Talk with your trainer and plan out your meal plan and workout routine.

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Calorie Cutter

Cutting your calorie intake daily will help you lose the extra weight you may be carrying around. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories in a day through your activities than you consumed that day. If you’ve tried to accomplish this, you know it can be difficult. Dramatic changes to your diet may seem unreasonable, undoable and unfathomable. Simple every day choices, that really don’t change the menu too much can seem almost effortless but can make a big enough difference. Cutting 50 calories a day can equal a ½ a pound a month. Or try 100 calories a day to lose a full pound each month. That may not seem like much, but when you add exercise to that, it can make a huge difference in weight loss.

Here are 10 simple ways to cut calories:

  1. Invest in some good quality cooking utensils to help reduce the amount of fat needed in cooking. Try heavy non-stick frying pans and heavy baking tray.
  2. Throw away any high fat items and replace them with healthier low calorie options.
  3. Use cooking oil spray instead of pouring oil in the pan when frying or browning foods.
  4. Skip the butter. Use low calorie peanut butter or jam on toast or a light mayonnaise on your sandwiches instead.
  5. Grill, steam, bake or poach. Eliminate the frying as much as possible.
  6. Add natural seasonings to your foods. Try herbs, spices, citrus juices, vinegar and low calories sauces like Worcester and Soy.
  7. Make sure you have plenty of variety in your diet so that you don’t become bored and give into unhealthy cravings.
  8. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. If you feel hungry when you shop, you are more likely to give into temptation and buy something that is high in fat and calories to satisfy your immediate cravings.
  9. Eat smaller portions of high-fat foods (meats, cheeses) and larger portions of vegetables, salad, fruit and very low-fat protein foods (yogurt, skim milk).
  10. Stop drinking soda and juice. Choose water instead. Water is a great to help you feel full longer and helps curb your cravings.

Remember that slow and steady is the way to lose weight and keep it off. Using these simple calorie cutting ideas does not require you to drastically change your lifestyle. With healthy substitutions and cutting out a few things from our diet, we can make some big changes on our waist line. Talk to your dietician or personal trainer, they can get you on the right track as well and offer some other helpful suggestions. Get cutting!

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Fitness Walking – A Complement to Any Fitness Program

Walking for Fat LossI’ve been a personal trainer in Willow Glen for over 25 years.  In those 25 years I’ve suggested a lot of strength training and interval cardio workouts for my clients, because most of my clients come to me to help them get rid of unwanted body fat.  I’ve always felt that “plain old walking”, while valuable as a stress reducer,  just wasn’t enough to improve someone’s fitness level.

I’m going to change my tune on this.  Sort of.  I think walking can be part of a great fat loss program. I think we need to establish how and where walking  fits into a fat loss program, though.

 

 

First, let’s talk about the general benefits of walking:

  • Walking is an incredible form of exercise that can be carried out by most people.
  • It’s a low impact workout which carries a very low risk of injury.
  • It is an activity that requires no equipment (just good shoes, really!).
  • Walking is a great “entry” form of exercise for a new exerciser.
  • Regular walking can help improve some health markers such as blood pressure and blood glucose.

 

Now, let’s move on to how walking can be a valuable part of  a fat loss program.  Because walking is low impact, it’s a great form of recovery exercise in between the high intensity interval workouts I design for my clients.  It’s also a great form of recovery in between strength training days.  So, for my money, walking is the last piece of the fat loss puzzle.  Walking is the longer, lower intensity cardio exercise that you can do on your off days.  You don’t work out as hard, but you go for a longer time.  For me, this is where walking for fat loss is best used.

So, here’s my breakdown of where our efforts lie for the best fat loss program:

Nutrition first, strength training second, intervals third and finally …..walking.

If you’ve been walking  for awhile, you may want to try walking hills on occasion.  If you live near a hilly area, your basic fitness walk may turn into an interval training session as you huff and puff up the hills!

Whether fat loss is your goal, or you’re simply wanting to feel better, lace up your shoes and get yourself out for a walk.  It’s a solid way to support your fat loss efforts!

 

Committed to your success,

Becky

 

Getting the Most From Your Personal Trainer in San Jose

Selecting a Personal Trainer in  San JoseAre you thinking of  hiring a personal trainer to help you lose unwanted fat or improve your fitness? Working with a personal trainer, even if only for a few sessions to get you started, is a great way to achieve goals that can be pretty tough to achieve on your own. The right fitness coach can guide your efforts safely and effectively and re-design your program as your body evolves.  How many successful business owners and athletes do you know that have coaches to propel them further in their business or sport?   Many successful business owners and athletes have solid coaching behind them.  Why shouldn’t YOU have a fitness coach to achieve your goals?

One of the most important things to do at the start is  select the right personal trainer for the job.  The personal training situation is just that—personal.  Make sure that you pick a personal trainer with whom you feel comfortable.  Having a good rapport and good communication with your coach is vital.

Another important aspect when choosing a personal trainer is experience and education.  I’ll be honest, though,  I’ve been a personal trainer in San Jose for many, many years, and only a few people have asked for my credentials when I interview them.  Experience has made me a better trainer, but a formal education in kinesiology was a great foundation.  I don’t think a college degree is necessary to be a great trainer, but I do believe it’s a great foundation.

Before signing on with a personal trainer, interview them a bit and ask questions.   Find out if you’d be comfortable with this person for 2-3 hours a week.  Find out if they’ve worked with people like you before.  Some trainers specialize in certain types of clients (e.g., women only, seniors, high level athletes, figure competitors, etc).  The more they’ve worked with people like YOU, the better they will be able to help you get results.

Once you’ve decided on the personal trainer that fits your needs the most, have a frank discussion with him or her about your goals. This is the only way to ensure that you get the most appropriate training. The more specific your goals, the more specific your training program can be.

Once your training with your new coach has started, make sure that you are doing all that is required of you outside of your coached sessions.  In order to see results you may need to exercise outside of your personal training sessions.  You may need to modify your eating habits or your sleep habits.  Be fully transparent with your trainer regarding your food intake, additional exercise and hydration outside of your personal training sessions. Hydration and rest are exceedingly important because they help the muscles rest after the exercise.

As you can see, getting the most from  your personal trainer isn’t just about the workout he/she gives you.  It’s about what you do the other 165+ hours a week outside of your sessions 😉

Here’s an easy check list to follow as you begin your search for a personal trainer in San Jose:

  1. Establish what you want a personal trainer for. Healthy weight loss, building muscle mass, or becoming a faster runner will all require different expertise.
  2. Interview potential trainers to make sure you connect well and have good rapport before signing on with someone
  3. Find out if a trainer has the right qualifications and experience to help you with your specific goals 
  4. Make sure a trainer you’re interested in is available during the timeframe that is convenient for you to work out.
  5. Ask for references
  6. Be very specific when communicating your goals
  7. Ask about rates, cancellation policies and any contracts that might need to be signed

 If you’re interested in interviewing lifeSport Fitness to see if we’re a good match, please give us a call at 408-265-1540 to set up a complimentary consultation!

We currently offer on-site/in-home personal training in most areas of San Jose (Willow Glen, Cambrian and Almaden), and 8-week small group training programs in the Cambrian area of San Jose.

Bad Diet or Healthy Eating Plan?

Weight Loss Tip:  Do You Have A Bad Diet or a Healthy Eating Plan?A healthy diet is an integral part of any weight loss program. Generally, a balanced diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meat will give an individual the necessary energy to perform the daily activities and function at their most optimum level–AND lose that dreaded excess body fat.  In addition to helping you shed unwanted fat, well-planned meals protect against some chronic diseases and aid in tissue and muscle repair .

Unfortunately, society has put such importance on losing weight that people desperate to see a drop on the scale will go on “crash diets”. Very often these diets are too low in calories to sustain long term and nutritionally they’re not all that healthy.

I’ve been a personal trainer in Willow Glen for many many years now. I’ve always counseled our clients to avoid the “diet” mentality, and instead begin to concentrate on eating whole, fresh foods.  My coaches and I ask our clients to concentrate on what TO eat, instead of what NOT to eat. We coach our clients to eat meals that consist mainly of protein, vegetable-based carbohydrates and a little healthy fat throughout the day.  We ask them to minimize “liquid calories”  ( the calories from a daily latte add up!) and processed, wheat flour-based foods.   We check in with our personal training clients regularly to ask if the dietary changes they’re making are changes that they can live with for life.  We don’t seek to deprive anyone from an occasional cocktail, latte or brownie.  We simply coach our clients to eat really well most of the time.

Why Dieting is a Losing Proposition

A diet that is seen as a mere means to losing weight as opposed to a lifestyle change will potentially result in unhealthy  practices, poor overall nutrition and possibly muscle/bone loss.  Crash diets will literally starve the body of the most basic nutrients needed to function. The worst part is, after doing a crash diet and then returning to the eating pattern that got you overweight in the first place—you’re bound to gain even MORE weight.

The New Paradigm for Permanent Weight Loss

  1. Avoid strict fad diets
  2. Try making just ONE change per week that will get you to eat healthier
  3. Limit the calories you drink
  4. Minimize wheat flour-based foods (eat whole grains instead)
  5. Incorporate regular strength training into your lifestyle (muscle burns calories ALL DAY LONG!)

Having trouble with the motivation to change?

Consider joining a small group personal training program in Willow Glen with lifeSport Fitness!

We’re opening up two new time slots during which we train up to 4 people on their own personal program.  You share a coach and save BIG on coaching fees!

Call us at 408-265-1540 to talk with us about how we can help you lose weight and feel great!