Fitness & Wellness

Best Healthy Snacks For Children

Best Healthy Snacks For Children

Serving healthy snacks for children, helps make changes in their eating habits and what they consider good food. While you probably won’t get most toddlers to beg for another Brussels sprout, they won’t be begging for junk food either. In fact, serving healthy snacks sets the stage for healthy eating, since most kids think that snacks are “the good stuff.” It trains their palate for less sugary treats that are often addictive, such as candy or pastries, while providing a great time to boost nutritional intake.

Keeping it simple and easy is important.

Having easy to make snacks takes some hassle out of the day. A healthy snack can be as simple as air popped popcorn sprinkled with some Parmesan cheese and a few drizzles of butter. Individual containers of plain live culture yogurt with added fresh fruit can be a delicious healthy treat. Homemade trail mix with mixed nuts and dried fruit (think raisins to save money) can be divided into individual serving plastic bags.

Have snacks ready in the refrigerator for snacks.

As kids get older, they don’t need you to set out snacks for them. They help themselves. That’s why having cut up fruit and vegetables ready in containers can be a huge benefit. As soon as possible after grocery shopping, cut up fruit, such as melons to bite size pieces. Wash berries, cherries and grapes and put them in a bowl. Cut up veggies, such as celery, carrots, colorful peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and cucumbers. Have healthy veggie dips available and you’ll see those veggies go fast. Any left over at the end of the week can be added to soup or as a supper side.

Get creative and have some homemade treats ready.

One favorite recipe is for what we called balls. They’re made by combining a little honey, peanut butter and wheat germ, then rolled in wheat germ and put in the refrigerator until eaten. Another is also balls that boost energy. They’re made with freshly ground flaxseed or whole chia seeds, nut butter of your choice, honey, oats, dried fruit and a bit of vanilla for flavor. Roll the ingredients in balls and coat with wheat germ, then store in the refrigerator.

  • Homemade kale chips or homemade sweet potato chips are oven baked and slightly salted. These are an excellent alternative to store bought chips.
  • Ants on a log are a long time favorite for kids. Stuff a celery stick with nut butter (normally peanut butter) and top with ants—which are really raisins.
  • Slice an apple in wedges and either peanut butter on each piece or make a dip by mixing some plain yogurt with crunchy peanut butter until it’s dip consistency.
  • A sliced apple or celery stick goes great with thin slices of cheese. You can cut cheese to fit into the channel on the celery.

Ways To Exercise With Your Kids

Ways To Exercise With Your Kids

Many of my clients in Raleigh, NC are devoted parents who want the best for their children, including helping them develop healthy habits. That’s one reason they find ways to keep the kids active. You can do the same by making a few changes to your lifestyle that allow you to exercise with your kids, making both of you healthier by doing so. It can be traditional workouts or just an active lifestyle. It all starts by limiting time in front of computer and TV screens and using that time to get everyone moving, including parents.

Younger children can actually be part of the workout.

There are a number of exercises you can do with preschoolers that are fun for them and fun for you. It’s never too early to get children moving. Take time to show your young child how to do each move in your exercise routine. If they don’t do it exactly right, don’t worry. You can also include smaller children as part of the routine by carrying them during the workout or making your workout their game. Doing a crunch where you keep your toddler on your tummy and kiss or tickle them when you lift up your head or creating a plank tunnel they can crawl through are just two ways to modify your workout.

Make family outings active outings.

While you can have a lot of fun going to a show, you’ll have just as much fun going on a hike and having a picnic, plus you’ll get more exercise. That’s good for both you and your children. Going to the zoo or even amusement parks provide a lot of walking. If you’re planning a trip to one of the amusement park destinations, it’s the perfect time to encourage your kids to get into shape by taking nightly walks or going to exercise classes before you leave. The trip is the incentive and the preparation to get into shape can make everyone less crabby at the end of the day.

Make gifts include the gift of family time.

Rather than giving the latest computer game, why not do everyone a favor when it comes to giving a gift, make it an active gift. Get yourself a set of roller blades and one for your child or children for a family activity you can all do together. Putting up a hoop above the garage and giving a basketball for hoop time together creates memories and bonding. Bikes for the whole family doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, pawn shops are a great place to get a bike for a low cost. Whether taking bike hikes in the park or learning how to do bicycle repairs together, it can get you and your kids moving.

  • It might not seem like fun, but household tasks can be fun, especially when you do them with speed and lots of elbow grease. Make it a game where speed counts. It turns work into fun and healthy exercise.
  • Have a special song and dance together. One of my fondest memories was dancing fast with my parents. It was always the same song and we even had a routine that got your heart pumping.
  • Teens can go to the gym with you and join classes geared specifically for those thirteen to nineteen. For children between five and twelve, we have youth fitness training that can be group, individual or virtual.
  • It takes more than just working out to be healthy. Make sure your children also learn how to eat healthier, too.

Boosting Your Body's Stem Cells

Boosting Your Body’s Stem Cells

You’ll protect your health and improve your appearance by boosting your body’s stem cells. There’s been a lot of talk about stem cells, some of it positive, some negative. However, most people equate stem cells with fetuses and embryonic stem cells. They shouldn’t. Many of the recent studies deal with adult stem cells. Stem cells have the ability to become a multitude of different cells. They’re like the raw material for cells that are used to repair damaged cells and divide to increase the number of cells. Each person has stem cells in their body.

There are medical techniques to use your own stem cells.

For quite a while, doctors have used bone marrow stem cells for transplants in the treatment of specific types of cancer. More recently, doctors are using the body’s stem cells as therapy for degenerative diseases and conditions, such as osteoarthritis. The doctors collect the stem cells from bone marrow and adipose fat, put them in an centrifuge to create a concentrate and inject them back at the site of the damage. It helps joint related issues and helps repair the damage, lower or eliminate pain and boost healing.

Exercise is one way to boost your own stem cells.

The more active you are, the more stem cells your body creates. Which is why doctors who use stem cell therapy to repair joints often recommend increasing activity to boost the production of the cells. Nothing just chance when it comes to how the body functions. The more active you are, the more you need stem cells to repair the damage or replace the older cells lost in exercise. Increasing your activity is just one of the ways to boost your stem cells and probably part of the reason that exercise can help relieve the pain of arthritis.

Consider changing your eating habits.

That doesn’t just mean eating healthy foods, it means changing how and when you eat. Although eating healthy can promote stem cell growth. There are studies that show calorie restriction and fasting can boost stem cells. Even intermittent fasting, the act of eating during an eight hour window and fasting the other sixteen hours, can boost the number of stem cells. One study showed that fasting for a few days boosted stem cell production. It makes sense that when fasting mice were compared to those that ate normally, fasting mice looked and acted years younger than their counterparts who ate on demand.

  • A study of people taking Tai Chi showed that it boosted their stem cell production by several fold.
  • Your body repairs itself when you sleep, so getting adequate sleep can boost stem cell production. Studies show that it’s true. Burning the candle at both ends could mean you age faster.
  • Radiation can damage stem cells. Whether you have dental x-rays, chest x-rays or just go out in the sun, take precautions to prevent stem cell damage. Make sure that shield covering your body at the dentist covers adequately.
  • Ironically, the sun’s radiation can damage stem cells, but the vitamin D3 the body makes from the sun’s rays boosts stem cell production. Practice safe sunning.

How To Get Your Kids To Exercise

How To Get Your Kids To Exercise

If you’re working on making yourself healthier with exercise and diet, you probably want to help your children get into healthy habits, too. One way to get your kids to exercise is to give them a good example. It doesn’t mean you have to workout together, although that actually can be fun. It can mean providing opportunities for more active play. Prying children away from video games can be a task. It may be well worth it for their future mental health.

Recent studies now show that too much computer, tablet or cell phone time may actually be unhealthy.

The first thing I suggest to parents is that they change their child’s phone from one that has all the bells and whistles, including games, to one that just phones and texts. They cost about ten dollars and based on recent studies, may be the healthiest thing you can do for your child. There’s more and more growing concern over screen time spent and the effects on children. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest less than an hour or two a day of any type electronic screen media. Part of the concern is the sedentary lifestyle it develops. There’s also evidence it affects the child’s sleep and potentially could lead to increasing the risk of depression.

Be more than just a role model, be a leader.

When you go to the gym and workout, your children know you’re doing it for your health and fitness, but it doesn’t really make a difference unless you show how that makes you more fun! You can be a leader by planning family activities, like hiking and bicycling. When you’re giving a gift, make it one that promotes an active lifestyle, like roller blades or hoop and basketball. Then, do those things together to create family fun, traditions and memories.

Increase activity by changing habits.

If you drive your kids to school every day, why not walk that distance with them? Lots of times parents take longer driving the few blocks to school and waiting in the drop off line with other parents, wasting gas in the process of that wait. Enjoy a walk in the park with a preschooler or even a walk down your street, identifying birds and flowers along the way. Don’t circle the lot at a grocery. Grab the first parking place and walk a bit. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Both you and your children will benefit from these changes.

  • Make household tasks a way to boost activity level. Do chores together to music and dance as you dust and sweep. Turn chores into a game of speed. Even outside activities can be more fun. After raking, jump in the leaf pile together.
  • Use trips as motivation. If you’re planning on a trip to Disneyworld or other theme park, it means a lot of walking. Start a month ahead to help your kids get in shape. Enjoying the trip to the maximum is a huge motivation.
  • Make weekend activities active. Walking through a nature preserve, hiking and even sightseeing in a near by city keeps your kids walking and active. Pack a healthy lunch to add to the benefits.
  • Give your child the responsibility of exercising pets. While gold fish and turtles may not need to take a walk or have playtime, it helps protect the health of dogs and cats, while increasing the amount of exercise your kids and your whole family gets.

Boost Your Heart Health

Boost Your Heart Health

Do you want to boost your heart health? A lot of clients in Raleigh, NC come to me want to do that. They want lower blood pressure and more endurance without being tied to a list of prescriptions that cost a fortune and often have side effects. While diet and exercise won’t solve all problems and does need to be cleared by your health care professional, it can help most people to improve their numbers, whether it’s blood pressure or cholesterol levels. Most people who check with their physician find that the health care provider is delighted with the choice.

Benefits of eating healthy for your heart.

The average American’s diet is brutal on health. It’s filled with foods that promote inflammation. Inflammation is good if you have an illness or injury. It sends white blood cells to the area, promotes blood flow to the area, creates new blood vessels and starts the healing process. However, it can go awry. When it’s chronic, it can cause plaque build up in the vessels and create other problems. Eating heart healthy means eating foods that reduce inflammation, plus provide the nutrients the body needs for good health.

Try an anti-inflammatory diet that’s heart healthy.

The Mediterranean diet is one route to improving heart health. It’s an anti-inflammatory diet that includes eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, healthy fats and fish. It cuts down the amount of red meat and often boosts the amount of nuts people normally include in their diet. Some of the reasons this combination helps is that it boosts the omega-3 fats that aid in protecting the body from inflammation damage. It removes some of the inflammatory foods like dairy, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, sugar, refined carbs and red meat.

Exercise helps strengthen all muscles, including the heart.

While you’re building strong biceps, you could also be building a healthy heart. Aerobic workouts improves your circulation, while boosting the strength of your heart so it doesn’t have to work as hard. It also helps control blood sugar levels that can cause inflammation. Strength building exercises changes the body’s composition by reducing the fat. It helps you lose weight. While flexibility training doesn’t directly affect the heart, it helps prevent injury that can put you out of commission for weeks. It helps normalize cholesterol levels and boosts circulation to send blood to all parts of the body.

  • Regular exercise also boosts the length of telomeres that protect cells and increases the amount of stem cells to create new cells. It can slow aging and even reverse some of the damage that occurred throughout the years.
  • A heart healthy diet also reduces the amount of Omega-6 and boosts Omega-3 fatty acids. The healthy ratio of those fats should be 4 parts Omega-6 to one part Omega-3. Instead, the average American diet is more like 20 to one.
  • Exercise is a stress buster. The hormones of stress create changes in the body that affect all parts of the body, including the heart.
  • Exercise lowers blood pressure and helps you shed extra pounds. It also reduces the risk of diabetes that can affect your heart. A healthy diet and regular exercise are two ways to take control and live longer and healthier.

Stay Consistent

Stay Consistent

You have to stay consistent and workout regularly to reach your goal. Getting fit isn’t a matter of how long you workout, but doing it consistently over time. You can’t workout for three hours one day and skip the rest of the week. You have to break that time down throughout the week working out approximately 45 minutes every other day. That gives your muscles a chance to heal and make the changes that you’re hoping to achieve. Fitness is marathon not a sprint.

Make exercise part of your schedule.

Consistency includes being consistent with the time you workout. Consider a simple action like brushing your teeth. It’s probably part of your morning routine and evening routine, like taking a shower or going to bed or getting up at the same time. When you workout at the same time every day, it becomes habit and part of your daily routine that you do automatically. That’s often why people workout the first thing in the morning. There are fewer interruptions for them and it’s part of their morning routine. No matter what time you choose, stick with it.

Marathon style workouts won’t get you the results you want.

Going to the gym and performing a marathon of working out may make you sore the next day, but won’t get you the same results as someone who breaks down that time to several sessions. Exercise isn’t something you can catch up on all at once, like getting all the dishes done at once or finally cleaning out the closet. It’s more like eating. People normally eat regularly, rather than saving up all their calories for one day a week. Think about how you’d feel if you ate a whole week’s worth of food at once. It would make you sick, so will marathon exercising.

You lose everything you’ve gained between workouts.

When you exercise only occasionally, you may actually maintain, if you do it frequently enough, but you won’t advance or get fitter. It makes you lose momentum and ultimately lose some of the muscle mass you’ve gained. It’s actually dangerous and can increase the risk of injury that comes from overdoing all at once.

  • Health benefits disappear the longer you avoid a workout. You start to lose muscle mass after a few days, which can put you at risk for the same serious conditions you hoped to avoid.
  • Studies show injury rates increased after taking three days off from the gym. The rate of injuries didn’t increase with just a day or two away from working out.
  • If you have problems working out because of your schedule, work with your personal trainer to find a solution. For instance, if you travel, the trainer can recommend a workout you can do in your hotel room.
  • Put exercise at the top of your priority list. Staying healthy should be your top goal. Without good healthy, other goals are either harder to achieve or impossible.

How To Stay Motivated

How To Stay Motivated

Getting fit doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time. It requires you actually change years of negative habits and replace them with healthier ones. Because it isn’t something you do once and walk away, it means you have to stay motivated not only until you achieve your results, but also until you make it a habit so you achieve your goals permanently. While trainers can help you stay motivated, ultimately, it’s all up to you.

Keep your goals front and center.

One thing that trainers provide that’s extremely important is clarifying goals and creating ones that are workable. They have a time line, a well defined target and a step by step process to achieving that target. It keeps you on pace at the gym, but what about when you’re not in the gym? That’s when you can use those same goals to keep you on track. Keep them in your phone and take time outside of the gym to identify ways to help you reach them faster. It may be something as simple as parking further from the grocery and walking or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Think about your goal differently.

Remember in school when you got a good grade or did better on an exam than you thought. Remember that great feeling. You should feel that way every time you do something to help you reach your goals. Be proud of your achievements. Did you pass up a candy bar for a piece of fresh fruit? Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back and look for the next way you can boost your progress. Enjoy your successes and don’t beat yourself up on the times you missed the mark.

If you don’t have a personal trainer, get a workout buddy.

One of the benefits of having a personal trainer is that you’re held accountable for your goals. Just knowing the trainer is waiting for you and KNOWS whether you’ve shown up or put your effort into the workout can get you to the gym. A workout buddy provides the same benefits. Both trainers and workout buddies can also help you stay on the path of healthy eating and provide some tips that make eating healthy more enjoyable.

  • You’re not perfect and sometimes, you fall off the wagon, either skipping a workout or eating an entire chocolate cake. If that happens, put it in the past where it belongs and get right back to your healthy habits.
  • Schedule your workout. When you have an appointment with the gym or with your workout, you’re more likely to go than if you simply say you’ll do it some time that day—which normally means never.
  • Plan meals ahead of time. People who do this have grocery lists and have everything ready. If you’re busy during the week, take one day on the weekend to assemble the week’s food so you don’t have to think at the end of the day.
  • Remember eating healthy isn’t dieting. Occasionally, you can have foods you’ve always loved, just not every day and not in huge amounts.

How To Find The Right Trainer

How To Find The Right Trainer

Not every trainer is a match for every person and not all trainers are equal when it comes to knowledge of both fitness and motivation. Finding the right trainer in Raleigh, NC is important to your progress. While I believe my background speaks for itself and my years of studies into what works and gets the quickest results, you have to determine what works best for you. Here are some things that I believe are important and should be part of your fitness program. Use this information to help you find a trainer.

It’s not being sexist to say men require a different workout from women.

Hormonal and structurally, men’s bodies are different. In a lot of ways, they actually have it easier when it comes to losing weight. Each sex has different road blocks when it comes to losing weight and require different types of exercise routines and dietary programs. That means that you have to consider sex and sex hormones when creating workouts and dietary plans. Because there is a difference in the amount of estrogen, testosterone and other sex hormones, men lose weight faster, particularly at first. Belly fat, visceral fat—the most dangerous type of fat—is more of a problem for men than women. Good trainers consider all aspects of a person before creating a workout.

A good trainer considers all lifestyle choices in their program.

If you want to get healthy, taking a break to have a smoke or grab a Coke shouldn’t be on your schedule. Neither should you workout for an hour at top speed only to grab a burger, fries and a beer on the way home. Good trainers should emphasize all lifestyle changes. While the client might not be ready to tackle all of the changes, I make sure they know they’re on the table and I can help. Exercise is only one aid to losing weight and living healthy, diet, adequate sleep, good hydration and breaking bad habits are a few more.

Your goals may not be the same as the person next to you, so your program shouldn’t be the same.

If a trainer doesn’t ask you about your goals the first day, he’s not doing his or her job. Body shapes, hormones, dietary habits and fitness levels are not all that’s different about each person, so are their goals. I had one client that came in because she was out of shape, which she was according to how she identified fit. However, she was far fitter than some people who have worked out for months. Each person has a different goal. Some people want to go beyond what others want. Some people also have further to go to reach their goals. A personal trainer needs to consider where you are and exactly what your goals are. Only you can determine what you ultimately want to achieve.

  • A good trainer knows that while working out is part of the picture, a healthy body starts in the kitchen. They should provide nutritional training, especially if weight loss is important.
  • Each person is different from even themselves. What worked great for you at 20 may not be appropriate at 45 or 50. Your body changes as it ages and a good program accounts for that change.
  • Good trainers hold you accountable by helping you create achievable goals. If your initial goal is big, the trainer should help you break it down to smaller, more achievable goals.
  • Good trainers should also consider your lifestyle and daily routine, helping you to make small changes that will boost your success.

Hormones That Have A Big Affect On Your Health

Hormones That Have A Big Affect On Your Health

If you’re like most people, when you think of hormones, you normally think of sex hormones like testosterone or estrogen. There are so many different hormones that affect the body and have an effect on your health. Hormones are just messengers that deliver instructions to the body’s cells. For instance, the hormone ghrelin tells your body it’s hungry, while the hormone leptin brings the message that it’s full. Hormones keep your body working properly when they’re functioning normally. They affect all processes, including heart rate and body temperature.

Hormones that come from stress play a role in your health.

You always hear about how stress affects your body negatively, but you do need stress hormones like cortisol or you’d die. Cortisol is necessary for many bodily functions, which is why almost all cells have cortisol receptors. It helps with your metabolism, reduces inflammation, aids in brain functioning, like memory, and even helps control blood sugar levels. While it’s a necessity for good healthy, having too much is bad, too. It’s the hormone that prepares the body for the fight or flight response. If you don’t do either, it remains unchecked and keeps the body in readiness with a rapid heart rate and less blood flow to the digestive tract. That has a negative affect, plus can cause accumulation of abdominal fat.

Insulin is a hormone you require to survive.

Insulin does so many things in the body and without it you’d have type 1 diabetes. However, you can have so much insulin that you develop insulin resistance that can turn into type 2 diabetes where your cells don’t use the insulin properly. In both cases, the cells don’t get the insulin they need to create energy. It can cause nerve damage, stomach problems, high levels of toxic ketones, high sugar levels in the blood, low energy levels, damage to all cells in the body and eye problems. This hormone affects every cell in the body, since it affects the cells fuel supply.

Sleep is important to good health and a hormone affects how much you get.

Can’t sleep? Maybe it’s because you don’t have enough serotonin. Hormones are created in several locations that are all part of the endocrine system. The master gland is the pituitary gland, but in the case of serotonin, it’s created in the pineal gland, which is also called the thalamus. Lack of sleep has been shown to create heart issues, brain fog and low energy levels. Low serotonin levels also cause depression, mood swings, irritability, poor memory, low self-esteem and a low sex-drive. Eating simple carbs can boost insulin levels, which in turn allow an increase of tryptophan to the brain where it converts to serotonin.

  • An imbalance of sex hormones can cause health issues, such as fibroid tumors, weight gain, gall bladder disease, heavy periods and a low sex drive.
  • HGH—human growth hormone—plays a role in heart functioning, body fluids, bone growth, fat metabolism, body composition and sugar metabolism. It’s called the fountain of youth and strength-building exercises can boost it.
  • If you want to help regulate hormones start a program of regular exercise. It helps burn off hormones of stress and regulates excess estrogen.
  • Sugar plays havoc with insulin levels, even natural sugars. Switching your diet to whole foods that are lower in sugar has helped prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes and reduce insulin resistance.

What Is Functional Fitness?

What Is Functional Fitness?

There’s a lot of reasons to workout. Of course, losing weight is often at the top of the list, just as building more energy and looking great. However, avoiding injury is also a reason. When you aren’t fit, sometimes simple tasks can cause injury. Turning the wrong way, lifting a child or simply trying to avoid a fall can cause an injury that causes pain, spasms and puts you on the couch for weeks. To avoid those problems, functional fitness workouts help. They develop synergy throughout the body.

Functional fitness builds core muscles.

You’re probably already familiar with many exercises that work on core muscles, since we do many of the exercises here at the gym. Weight training will get you into shape to lift that heavy box, but there are other exercises that help train your muscles to work together and actually mimic your daily movements, like lifting while turning or those that use both upper and lower body movements at the same time.

Functional fitness training works so well that law enforcement uses it.

There are many types of military and law enforcement that use functional fitness training. For instance, Army Rangers and Navy SEALS include it in their training programs. Obviously, the reason for using the training isn’t to look good, but to be able to navigate in the field safely. They may have to outmaneuver or outrun an enemy in the field, while carrying a 60 pound weight or more. That takes more than just arm strength, it takes total body strength and the ability of muscles to work together. That’s why it takes more than just one type of workout or exercise to achieve functional fitness.

Functional fitness includes all types of fitness.

There are four types of fitness, strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Each one is important for an injury resistant lifestyle. It uses multi-directional training with the muscles of all parts of the body going on different planes and in a variety of directions. Tai Chi is one example of functional fitness training, but kettlebells and multi-directional lunges are also part of it. When you’re using more than one or two joints and muscle groups, you’re getting functional fitness training. If you’re still not sure what functional fitness is, imagine how many muscle groups you use raking a lawn.

  • Functional fitness training helps seniors, too. It can aid them in living alone longer and make them more independent and healthy.
  • Functional fitness not only helps prevent muscle strain, it helps prevent joint injury by training several muscle groups to work together that support the joints.
  • You’ll have lots of core exercises when you do a functional fitness workout. The core muscles help keep the body balanced as they support the entire body.
  • Many functional fitness workouts involve bodyweight exercises and calisthenics. You don’t need a lot of equipment to get functionally fit.