Choose more veggies

Do We Really Need Nutrition Supplements?

You can’t go down the street or through a shopping mall without seeing a nutrition supplement store these days, can you? With all those stores out there, it must mean supplements are important and we should all be buying them, then, right?

Well ……..maybe. I’ll get to the answer in just bit.

I’m an exercise expert who knows a good deal about nutrition, but I would never claim to be a nutrition expert myself. When I need answers to important nutrition questions I can’t answer, I look to other colleagues I consider experts in the nutrition field.

One of my go-to people for all things nutrition is Registered Dietician, Jayson Hunter. Jayson is one of the founders of the JayLabPro nutrition supplement company (formerly Prograde Nutrition). He has been a great source of advice and support to lifeSport Fitness for over 10 years. Now, you might be wondering, why would a Registered Dietician start a supplement company? Shouldn’t he be consulting with people about real food!!??

Yes—he should, and he does. But he decided to take it a step further. Jayson got frustrated with the lack of quality, science-based products on the market about 10 years ago and decided to team up with a couple of other fitness colleagues to develop products that were safe, effective and high quality. He also believed that many people were OVER-supplementing their diets and wanted to create a company that promoted a “food first” philosophy with supplementation as a secondary measure. JayLabPro puts a lot of effort into nutrition education so that their customers can become better eaters. I have to admire that.

This is one reason we’ve been recommending JayLabPro products for many years. Quality people with high integrity making quality products, and providing solid consumer education. What they say is in the bottle really IS in the bottle. I know that I am sending our clients to a solid resource.

So – about the question at hand: Should we all be supplementing?

Our answer: Yes— but food comes first.

Your first defense against obesity , poor health and chronic disease is solid, whole food nutrition. Supplements won’t do much for your health if you have a poor diet (aside from protect you against deficiencies). Jayson’s mantra is: “Build a decent nutritional foundation through food first before you take any supplements, or the supplements won’t help at all”

Even though we all try to eat healthy, Jayson believes there are 2 areas in our nutritional foundation that are often the weakest points (and this has been backed up by the USDA and other nutritional organizations)

1. Vegetable intake: After all these years of teaching the importance of an abundance of vegetables, society still only eats about 2 servings a day instead of the recommended 6-8. Even the best of eaters still struggle with getting in a wide variety of colorful vegetables daily.

If you’re not getting a consistent 6-8 servings of vegetables every day, Jayson recommends a solid multivitamin that contains fruit and vegetable extracts. He still stresses food first – but suggests the supplement to get additional nutrients that you’re missing due to having a lower intake of vegetables.

2. Omega-3 fatty acid intake: There are thousands of research studies that have shown the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids and how our current intake is lopsided with a 30 to 1 ratio of Omega-6 fats(disease promoting) to Omega-3 fats.

Consuming large quantities of Omega 6 fats, scientists believe, may trigger inflammation (which can lead to disease and poor health). By consuming minimal Omega 6 fats and increasing Omega 3 fats in our diet, we may be helping to decrease internal inflammation.

Jayson recommends consuming cold water fatty fish 3-4 times a week along with other foods that contain Omega-3 fats (like Chia seeds). For people who don’t eat fish often, a good Omega-3 supplement is beneficial in strengthening that weak point of our nutritional foundation. Food first — eat some fish and other Omega-3 containing foods, but supplement to make that Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio healthier.

The moral of the story: Food first to the best of your ability, and supplement where your own personal diet falls short.

If you want to save 18% on JayLabPro products, Jayson has given me a coupon code to offer you — but it’s only good until Monday, August 7th at midnight!

Head over here:

And use the code AUG18 when checking out.

Yours in health,


Foods to Include In An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

No doubt you’ve heard via some form of media (news, Facebook, magazines) about the benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet. But what does that mean, really? What does an anti-inflammatory diet look like?

Just a couple of days ago, a great email from local chiropractor, Dr. Mindy Pelz, came through my inbox. I asked her permission to copy her email into my blog here so that you could learn from it. She lays it out in plain English exactly how to move your eating patterns to a more anti-inflammatory way of eating.


Here’s Dr. Mindy:

There is nothing better than living in a body that feels and functions the way you want it to.

You have more control over your health than you may realize. Chronic pain and disease can greatly be helped by eating the right foods.

The following are my top recommendations for lowering inflammation in your body. I highly recommend that you incorporate these foods into your diet everyday.

1. Wild Fish & Fish Oil – Specifically it is the EPA and DHA found in fish oil or from eating cold-water fish like salmon that has anti-inflammatory properties. The omega-3 fatty acid can help with joint swelling and inflammation generally caused by the over consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from non grass fed red meat. Be sure you always get your fish wild, as farm raised fish does not carry the same fatty acid content.

2. Fermented foods – Probiotics from either supplements or fermented foods help to build immunity and control infection caused by underlying inflammation in the body by supplying the body with good gut bacteria. Great fermented foods are unpasteurized sauerkraut, unpasteurized kimchi, raw kefir, or kombucha,

3. Juicing Greens – The process of juicing breaks the cell walls of fruit and vegetables, making the nutrients more accessible and allowing the body to quickly absorb mega doses of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which can help combat inflammation. Green vegetables such as spinach, cucumber, parsley, and mint, are great to juice because they will put your body on the alkaline side and lower inflammation.

4. Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, beta-carotene, and calcium, giving these vegetables great anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain high levels of glutathione, a necessary amino acid that pulls toxins from your body. Be sure to eat these veggies raw or lightly steamed, as it will retain the most nutrients.

5. Pineapple & Papaya – Along with being packed with vitamin C, pineapple also contains bromelain. Bromelain helps to break down proteins, aids in digestion, reduces swelling, and can even improve blood circulation.

6. Ginger – Used for centuries for medicinal purposes, ginger shares many properties with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), suppressing pro-inflammatory molecules known as prostaglandins with little to no side effects compared to NSAIDs.

7. Turmeric – Over 5000 peer reviewed articles have been written about the health benefits of this miraculous tuber. Turmeric is the main spices added to curry, giving it its distinctive yellow pigment, turmeric contains curcumin. Curcumin blocks several inflammatory chemicals in the body. Like ginger it can prevent the production of prostaglandins and be used like NSAIDs with the added benefit of also being a great antioxidant.

8. Sweet Potato – This is one of my favorite foods ever. It may be sweet, but it’s lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes. Packed full of vitamins B6 and C, manganese, beta-carotene, and fiber, these amazing potatoes are a great addition to any diet. Working in concert, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.

9. Coconut oil– This miraculous oil is packed with medium chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are digested quickly and can be a powerful source of energy. Coconut oil is also excellent way to keep your joints (especially knees & shoulders) well lubricated. Eating a diet high in coconut oil will also leave your skin hydrated and glowing.

10. Grass Fed Beef – Commercial raised, antibiotic packed, grain fed beef promotes inflammation (packed with omega 6 oils). You want to avoid grain fed beef at all cost. But organic grass fed beef is packed with omega 3 fatty acids and will lower inflammation in your body. Not only is grass fed beef a great source of protein and high in omega 3’s, it contains a good fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is one of the most potent defenses against cancer.


You can learn more about Dr. Mindy Pelz at:


Dr. Mindy is on a mission to help us change our health by educating us on how to eat better. Gotta love a doc who wants to help you stay off meds and be healthier! Thanks, Dr. Mindy!

How To Decrease Sugar Cravings

What’s with those sugar cravings, anyway???

Yes, yes, sugar has a hold on us, doesn’t it? We love the way sugar makes so many foods we like taste so dang good. Yet we KNOW we shouldn’t eat too much of it. So—why is it so hard to kick the sugar habit??

Let me count the ways…….

1) It’s kinda like a drug to our brain

Consuming sugar releases endorphins in our brain. Endorphins make us feel better and elevate our mood. Did you know that some anti-depressant drugs work the same way –they keep endorphins circulating in our brain! So, yeah, sugar sort of acts like a drug in our brain.

2) It messes with our hormones

Sugar consumption unfortunately begets MORE sugar consumption for many of us. A big hit of sugar-laden food raises our blood sugar. A rise in blood sugar spurs our pancreas to release a large dose of insulin. Insulin helps drive blood sugar into our muscle tissue. If too much sugar gets dumped into our tissues, our blood sugar drops low again…… and our brain asks us for more sugar. Therefore sugar tricks us into reaching for MORE of the wrong foods

3) It just tastes good 😆

How can we decrease our cravings?

1) Eat a little protein at every meal

This helps slow digestion. The release of insulin is slower , and the uptake of sugar from your blood is slower so your blood sugar stays a bit more stable

2) Go cold turkey

If you can’t give in and have a little w/out totally blowing it, cold turkey is the way to go

It’s brutally hard at first, but cravings do diminish over several days

3) Brush your teeth

If you are an after-meal sugar craver, brush your teeth immediately after your meal

4) Try fruit instead

Some people are successful at switching from sweets to fresh fruit for their sugar fix

5) Try distraction (this one works best for me)

  • Talk a walk
  • Pick up a book
  • Do household chores or errands
  • Check email

6) Avoid going too long between meals

Hunger can lead to bad food choices that often involve sugar

7) Skip artificial sweeteners

They perpetuate your sweet tooth

8) Get enough sleep

Research has shown that people who don’t get enough sleep crave more sugar/carbohydrate rich foods

Craving sugar is a huge issue for many people. If you are one of those people, try one or more of the strategies I’ve laid out above to help you decrease your cravings. You’ll likely be more successful with some strategies than others, but you won’t know what works for you until you try!

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Creating A Lean Kitchen

Do you have a “lean” kitchen?

What exactly do I mean by that question, anyway? Is there such a thing as an overweight kitchen??? Well, yeah, sort of.

Here’s what I mean when I say “lean kitchen” : Your kitchen environment is specifically set up to help you to make healthy food choices.

Whether or not we are managing our weight and health well has a LOT to do with our environment. We are bombarded every day with multiple messages that spur us to make poor food choices. Those messages are in the grocery store, on television, on the radio and at virtually every social event we go to. We can’t really control a lot of what is out there in the environment, but we CAN control how our kitchen, home and office is set up.

Here are my 5 tips to creating a Lean Kitchen:

1. Begin at the Grocery Store

If “off the plan” foods don’t make it into your kitchen, they’ll have a much more difficult time tempting you 😉 . So before shopping, it’s best to create a list of all the items you’ll need including snacks. Keep in mind that your list is only effective if you stick to it.

2. Put Your Pantry on the Program

  • Troublesome foods exert much less temptation power when they aren’t within your immediate reach or view (“Out of sight, out of mind”).
  • Use opaque containers for treats instead of clear containers
  • Keep your healthier options (fruits, single serve packages of nuts) where you can see them

3. Make splurging more of an effort

  • The harder you have to work for it, the less often you’ll do it
  • Put goodies where you’ll need to get up high or reach way back in a shelf to get them
  • Go out for treats (e.g., frozen yogurt, ice cream, dessert)
  • “Off the plan” items are best kept in single serve packaging

4. Shrink Your Dishes/Glassware

  • Big plates + big spoons = BIG servings
  • Use smaller dinner plates
  • Drink out of tall, thin glassware instead of short, wide glassware
  • Use small wine glasses
  • Use smaller spoons

5. Avoid these mindless kitchen behaviors

  • Eating while cooking
  • Eating out of large bags (chips, popcorn, nuts)
  • Eating while watching TV
  • Eating out of carton while standing at kitchen counter
  • Eating left overs off of kids’ plates

Planning is key to making many healthy changes and having a kitchen/office that doesn’t sabotage your great intentions. Whether it’s creating a grocery list, organizing your pantry or having dishes that make your meal look satisfying, planning helps you prepare in advance to be successful in your endeavors.

A great way to plan ahead is to have healthy snacks ready to go. Whether its individual containers of yogurt, cut up fruits and veggies, or snack-sized bags filled with pre-measured amounts of nuts or string cheese, prepared snacks can serve as important tools to helping you stay on track between meals.

Now, go into your kitchen and start making it “leaner!”

Leave a comment here if you’ve found good ways to avoid poor eating behaviors/tempting eating signals at home or at the office!

Committed to your success,


“Everyone—every single one of us—eats how much we eat largely because of what’s around us . We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers”. Brian Wansink, PhD

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Exercise Habits: 5 Tips to Make Exercise Stick!

Are you one of those people who has a really hard time creating exercise habits that stick?

You’re not alone. Long work hours here in the Silicon Valley combined with multiple after-school activities for kids as well as volunteer and social commitments really eat up the hours in our days.

It’s common knowledge that regular exercise helps us maintain a healthy weight, manage stress and decrease our risk for some diseases. Even with the knowledge of how important regular exercise is to our well-being, we often don’t do it.

Becoming a regular exerciser really comes down to making physical activity a habit. Over time, your habits become part of who you are. As a San Jose personal trainer, I work with my clients on activities and behaviors that will help instill a habit of regular exercise into their lifestyle. It’s not easy, but will repeated practice, you really can become a regular exerciser. You’ll actually feel the need to exercise because you feel better when you do and worse when you don’t!

Here are my top 5 tips for making exercise a regular habit:

1) Pick an activity you enjoy

If you can’t stand doing it—you’re going to find every excuse in the book NOT to do it! If you hate swimming, just don’t even think about starting a swim program. If you really think you hate ALL forms of exercise, pick the least objectionable activity 😉 . Keep an open mind as to what the term “exercise” encompasses. You might need to move away from the concept of a regimented “workout” (say, a group exercise class) towards something we might define more as “physical activity” (perhaps a hike or a pick-up basketball game).

2) Get some social commitment

When someone else is involved—you tend to show up. Get yourself an exercise buddy. And don’t choose a flakey friend! When you have an accountability partner, you’re MUCH more likely to stick to your program. Also, because your activity involves a social component, you’ll likely enjoy it more.

3) Make it a priority

This can be really hard, but I really want you to try it. Think of your exercise program as an appointment you keep with yourself. Just like you keep a dentist appointment—schedule your exercise and SHOW UP. See #2 for a way to make it more likely that you’ll show up (get that friend or co-worker committed to you!).

4) Log your activity

Pedometers are great for counting steps and measuring your activity as are all the activity trackers out there (Jawbone, FitBit, etc). Sometimes just to get a few more steps in, you’ll take the stairs or park your car further away at the mall. I also ask my personal training clients to log how they feel while they exercise. When they look back over past months, they see how far they’ve come and how much their fitness has improved. I’ve found logging activity to be extremely motivational for many of my clients.

5) Reward yourself

Set yourself up for little challenges and rewards. For instance, if you do some sort of physical activity for X days this month, you’ll reward yourself with a trip to a sporting goods store for new gear, or perhaps you’ll gift yourself with a massage. Only reward yourself if you reach the goal you set for yourself.

Good exercise habits take time to develop. Be patient, be consistent and keep repeating these 5 steps to become a regular exerciser who absolutely, positively makes time for exercise because its just part of WHO YOU ARE!

Committed to your success,


Nutrition Habits – Dr. Mike’s 6 Pillars of Nutrition

One of the most difficult things that I do as a personal trainer is San Jose is help people change their nutrition habits. I joke with my clients that as much as I think the workouts I design for them kick butt— I absolutely, positively cannot out-train a poor diet. Changing nutrition habits in order to change your physique is huge. Most clients see me 2-3 times per week. How they spend the other 165 hours a week can make or break their results 😉 . Yes–getting lean and feeling great is probably 80% nutrition.

How do personal trainers manage what their clients eat? Well, it’s rather difficult. Old habits die hard. Social pressure to eat and drink to excess is everywhere.

I’ve helped people with their fitness and nutrition programs for over 25 years. I think that different people need different approaches (thus, the “personal” in personal training!). But, two common threads come into play for most people:

1) Changing habits over time

2) Following a written plan

A few months back I read a blog post by Dr. Mike Roussell, a Registered Dietician that I really admire. In his post, Dr. Mike laid out his “6 Pillars of Nutrition”. This list pretty much sums up the habits that I try to drive my clients to over time:

Dr. Mike Roussell’s Four Pillars of Nutrition

1) Multiple meals
• Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack
• Not too big, not too small

2) Reduced processed food
• Minimize added sugar as much as possible. It’s easily the worst thing in your diet
• Minimize refined carbs. They’re empty calories.
• Processed food have more preservatives and sodium

3) Veggies and fruit
• Every meal.
• You can eat a large quantity for fewer calories.
• They’re dense in vitamins and minerals

4) Water
• Increase water and decrease calorie containing beverages

5) Lean proteins
• Eat a little with EVERY meal

6) Be strategic w/starches
• Insert these foods right after exercise or first thing in the morning.
•Your body is able to accept more carbs at these times.

These 6 pillars trump calorie counting. Calories DO count (i.e., quantity counts), but the QUALITY of your calories is paramount.

My belief is that if you live by these 6 pillars AND you eat the proper portions, you will absolutely have a leaner body.

With regard to following a written plan–the best results I’ve seen have come from having a client select a customized meal plan geared toward their food preferences and fitness/weight loss goals. Although I ultimately want my clients to create their own meal plans, giving them a well-balanced, done-for-you portion controlled meal plan at the start teaches them good nutrition and takes all the guess work out of “what should I eat?”. Over time, the meal plan becomes second nature and a part of my client’s lifestyle. At lifeSport Fitness, we use ProDiets web-based meal planning software for our clients. They can choose from dozens of Registered Dietician-designed meal plans all geared toward healthy, balanced eating.

You see, getting healthier is all about changing habits—both your nutrition AND your exercise habits.

In this post, I’ve covered my best advice for how to change nutrition habits over time.

Next week, I’ll be back with my best advice for how to incorporate exercise into your busy life .

Yours in health,


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

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Mind over Matter Boosts Likeability

If you were one of those people who wasn’t always comfortable with social situations in high school, there’s a good chance the same trouble has followed you into the adult world.

As an adult, there’s no shortage of situations where you’re meeting new people that you’d like to impress or trying to fit into a particular group. In fact, just to get a job you’ll need to not only meet but also impress any hiring manager you speak with. If you land the job, you’ll be back on stage, needing to win over your new coworkers.

If you put your mind to it, there are a few tricks you can use to win people over without them even realizing.

It’s about them

When you’re a newcomer in a social setting, it’s only natural for others to introduce themselves and start asking questions. For example, if you just started a new job, someone might ask you where you worked before or something more personal like whether you’re married and have children.

Instead of cowering and feeling uncomfortable each time you’re approached by someone new. Seek out opportunities to introduce yourself and ask the first questions. This not only takes the pressure of being the new person under a microscope off of you, it also puts the other person in the spotlight. By showing interest in the other person first, they will subconsciously think you must be caring and considerate, and these are traits people instinctively admire.

Listen up

Being a good listener is critical to winning people over. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll surely be caught if they then ask your opinion on what they just said. If that happens, you’ve blown your chance at a good first impression.

Using body language that shows you’re paying attention and find what the other person is saying interesting can make someone feel at ease. Try nodding your head in agreement and using appropriate facial expressions to let them know you’re following along.

Seeing eye to eye

Eye contact can make or break a connection with someone you’ve just met. It’s important to make eye contact when you speak because it shows your sincerity. People that tend to look away when they talk are often thought to be untrustworthy.

However, there’s a fine line between casually catching someone’s gaze during conversation and making someone feel uncomfortable. A good balance can be achieved by also looking upward or outward, as if you’re contemplating the conversation.

Show your weaknesses

Another way to make a connection with people is to ask questions. By asking someone for help with something, you let them know that you’re not one of those people who thinks they know how to do everything better than everyone else. If you ask someone for their advice or a piece of knowledge you know they have, this makes them feel helpful and valuable, and everyone likes to be around people that make them feel good about themselves.

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Frustrated with your current fitness level?

Dealing With Emotions in Times of Stress

Going through a breakup or any emotional trauma can be pretty tough. Having to deal with all of the emotions can leave you lost and confused. However, not dealing with all of the confusion, anger and sadness you may be feeling can lead to even bigger problems down the road, such as overeating or depression.

Seek comfort from friends and family

When you’re dealing with the emotional loss of a breakup, sometimes it’s hard to seek the help that you need. Maybe you feel embarrassed that things didn’t work out the way you thought they would, or maybe you don’t want to be a burden to the people you care about.

The truth is, if your friends and family knew how much you’re hurting, they’d want nothing more than to help you through this rough patch. These are the people who have known you the longest, which means they’re the best-equipped to keep you from falling into the depths of despair and self-doubt. They’ll be there to quickly point out all of your great strengths and the positive things you have going on in your life.

Write it down

If you don’t feel comfortable sharing everything with your friends and family, get a journal and start writing. Don’t worry about what to write, just pick it up whenever you start to get angry or upset, and pour out all those emotions on paper. This is a much better approach than keeping things locked inside or turning to junk food to drown your sadness.

Work it out

After taking a little bit of time to let yourself feel sad and be comforted by your friends and family, it’s time to focus on your well-being. One of the best things you can do is start working out on a regular basis.

Plenty of studies have proven that getting the heart pumping raises mood-boosting chemicals in our brains. The best part is it doesn’t really matter whether you were a workout junky before the breakup or if you don’t even own a decent pair of running shoes, just head to the gym and get moving.

You’ll probably be surprised at how much better you feel after just the first workout, and you just might find yourself hooked. This is also good news if you accidently indulged in a little too much ice cream that first week or so, as you’ll be able to work off any damage in no time.

Treat yourself

Once you’re feeling a bit more like yourself, or even better since you’ve been hitting the gym, reward yourself for making it through such a tough time. Maybe treat yourself to a new bag for the gym or splurge on finally getting those running shoes.

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Get Rid of Low Back Pain

Like most adults, you’ve probably dealt with low back pain from time to time. You’ve also probably done whatever you could to alleviate the pain and get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. Instead of waiting for it to happen again, take steps to prevent low back pain before it starts.

What is low back pain?

Low back pain is typically felt somewhere below the ribcage. It might occur suddenly in the form of a stabbing pain, or it can begin gradually as a dull achiness that radiates and worsens over time.

What causes it?

A sudden pain could be the result of an injury or illness and should be checked by a doctor. While pain that occurs gradually may have more to do with lifestyle choices, it should also be checked out.

How is it treated?

Depending on the cause, low back pain might heal on its own with a bit of rest. However, as this can mean missing work, family time and other activities, many people seek medications or alternative treatments so they can return to their daily routines.

What are the alternatives?

Some have success with chiropractic treatments, while others find therapeutic massage or physical therapy helpful. It may take a bit of trial and error to find what works for you, but it’s important to clear any alternative therapies with your health care practitioner.

Can I reduce my risk?

Assess your daily lifestyle to see what steps you can take to reduce your risk of low back pain.

Diet and exercise

Carrying more than a few extra pounds puts extra stress on your lower back and keeps you from using proper form when lifting or carrying something heavy. Losing the extra weight will eliminate the extra stress, and improving your overall fitness can make you less susceptible to injury.

Cleaning up your diet by limited processed foods and eating more meals cooked from scratch is a good place to start. Try to include mainly healthy, organic fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy oils.

With your doctor’s approval, start exercising regularly. Focusing on strengthening your core, which includes the buttocks, pelvis, abdomen and hips, can improve your posture and stability, and help to support your spine. Yoga may also be beneficial, as it strengthens and stretches specific muscles and improves flexibility.

Making work safer

While jobs that are very physical can sometime result in back injury, jobs that involve sitting for long periods might do the most damage over time.

Of course, if your job is physically demanding you need to practice proper form while bending and lifting, and be careful not to twist or reach while carrying heavy items.

If you’re seated throughout the day, get up and move about or even work standing up if possible. When you must sit, check your posture to be sure your spine is straight and both feet are positioned squarely on the floor.

You can’t carry it all

Busy lifestyles often mean gym bags, sports gear, laptop bags and lunch totes. A habit of slinging it all on one shoulder to keep one hand free throws your body out of balance and will almost certainly lead to low back pain at some point.

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