Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Keep that Extra Weight Off Your Waistline: Did You Eat Your Roughage Today?

Did you eat your roughage today? What's the point in eating more roughage? Wake up! Dietary fiber does not only keep you regular, it helps you lose weight and keep it off.

What exactly is roughage? Roughage is another term for fiber. It is a substance found in plants that your body can't digest. There are two types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel. By forming this gel, it slows the rate food moves through your body and gives you a sense of fullness. This substance can be found in fruits, vegetables, and grain products. On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not absorb water very well. Insoluble fiber helps regulate that rate food passes through your intestine. This is tough part found on the skin and seeds of fruits and vegetables. Without insoluble fiber, the rate can go too fast, causing diarrhea; or too slow, causing constipation.

How does this help you lose weight? There are several ways in which fiber aids in weight reduction. High insulin levels are associated with weight gain, roughage helps to decrease insulin levels. Fiber also forces you to chew, by increasing chewing time, your body recognizes early that you are no longer hungry. By filling you up, the increased amount of water absorbed by fiber gives you a feeling of satiety. By reducing total calorie intake, fiber has a very low amount of calories allowing you to consume fewer calories. By preventing the digestion of fat, binding of the fat makes it unable to be digested by your body.

How can you use this information in your everyday life? Here are some suggestions on how to increase roughage with each meal.

Eat a piece of fruit with breakfast
Drink orange juice with the pulp in it
Bran muffins
Whole grain cereals

Have a serving of vegetables with lunch and dinner
Substitute brown rice for white rice
Substitute beans and peas for meat
Substitute whole-wheat flour for white flour, if recipe allows

Fresh and dried fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables without peeling
Oatmeal Cookies or Fig Bars
Whole wheat or rye crackers

Be Cautious! Moderation is key. Too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Excess fiber may cause flatulence and decreased mineral absorbtion. The typical diet should contain between 25 and 35 grams per day. How can you prevent a problem form occurring?

Start slowly. Incorporate one item at a time.
Drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. Too little water may cause constipation.
Soak beans and peas in water before cooking. This will reduce your chance of flatulence.
Beware of fiber supplements.

Don't let a little gas scare you, however. Increasing fiber in addition to a healthy lifestyle may help you win your battle against the bulge. Fiber also fights against heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Do I Really Have to ... Ugh ... Exercise?

It is sometimes a burden to try to get yourself all psyched up to go workout! Especially if you are in a workout rut! Here are some ways to get back on the band wagon!

We contemplate this suggestion very carefully weighing the negative aspects and the possible benefits. Yes we think about it after a very idle day of sitting at a desk, and after having eaten two calorie and fat loaded meals while contemplating another one soon. We have not been able to get into the jeans we wore just a year ago even by "tugging, grunting, and laying flat on our back, to snap them," no way!

Every day the television and the articles in magazines nag at us, working on our consciousness, "loose weight, exercise!" Try as we may, it is very difficult to ignore the prompting.

Americans are overweight, more than ever before. The dangerous chance of a heart attack looms ever before us as a possibility. It is time to exercise and get healthy … even if we think we are not quite ready to approach the formidable subjects of exercise and good nutrition.

I suppose most people think of exercise as "pain" pure and simple, and it can be. There are those who are up to it, and those like me ... who at one time were, but now would prefer to exercise with less intensity.

One of the major killers of Americans is cardiovascular disease, with the great cohort being habits we have developed over a lethargic lifetime. Too many "fast foods" and not enough activity are the greatest culprits.

Regular physical activity will begin to positive benefits right away and will ultimately prove to be a lifesaver in later years. It is never too late to start.

Physical activity need not be extreme to be beneficial. Moderate activity of 30 minutes a day (try brisk walking), up to 5 times per week will strengthen the heart and produce weight loss. This exercise reduces not only the risk of coronary heart disease, but also lessons the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also helps with bone density. It will even counteract depression and anxiety!


Good nutrition substantively helps to reduce the chance of developing such diseases as coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Americans eat too much fat and too few fruits and vegetables. We eat up to 30 % less of the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables according to the Center for Disease Control. The CDC also notes that more than 3 million women weigh at least 100 pounds more than the recommended body weight and between 20 to 30 % of the nations adults are at least 30 pounds overweight.

Eat fewer calories than you burn (basic knowledge for most of us). Losing weight is not as complex as many perceive it to be. "Just start," it is a mindset; do it slowly, loose no more than one to two pounds a week. It is not rocket science, simply eat less, and eat the right nutritious food. Eat only 500 calories less per day (about one honey bun less), increase your activity, and you will lose about 3500 calories a week, which is one pound.

Weight loss: Training Tips For Overweight Participants

Are you overweight and ready to begin an exercise program? Here are some tips.

Get A Physical

Before beginning any exercise program, see your physician and have a complete physical performed. Your trainer or instructor will be better able to assist you and your needs if they, and you, are aware of any medical issues; such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Be Patient

Weight loss that is permanent does not happen over night. Be patient with your trainer and be patient with yourself. Focus on every improvement, no matter how big or small. You will be one step closer to your goal.

Don't Go "Gung Ho"

It's probably been awhile since you have pushed your body and mind. Learn to enjoy physical activity without over doing it by working out five, six or seven times a week. Give yourself a small goal to meet, such as going to workout twice a week for 30 minutes each time. By meeting small goals, you will improve self-esteem and increase exercise adherence.

We All Fall Off The Wagon

There will be times when you are tired or just not in the mood to exercise. That's okay! Go ahead, take a day off. The important thing is that you start again tomorrow.

Get At Least two Personal Training Sessions

Learn to exercise right. By getting with a qualified personal trainer, you have the opportunity to learn exercise techniques properly. Plus, the trainer is there to get you motivated and to help you take those few first steps to health and wellness.

Perform Exercises That You Enjoy

You don't have to go to the gym in order to get fit. You can walk outdoors, garden or dance in your own living room. Find an activity that you enjoy.

Cross Train

Keep your heart and muscles stimulated by participating in a variety of exercises. Many exercise participants drop out within 90 days because they are bored. Try out new strength exercises, try out different aerobic classes or split your workout time between indoor and outdoor activities. Keep it interesting.

Praise Yourself

Many times overweight participants only see the negative in themselves, how much weight is left to lose or criticizing poor performance. Take the time each day to recognize an accomplishment you have made. Maybe you didn't go for 30 minutes on the treadmill, but you did take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Also, you came to the gym when everyone else was going out for drinks. Praise yourself for every step you take.

Don't Go Scale Crazy

Weight fluctuates for a variety of reasons, and weighing yourself everyday may make your attitude negative instead of positive. If you have the opportunity, have your body composition measured. This will tell you how much fat is on your body and will give you a base to start from. Another option is to judge your progress by how your clothes feel. It is very rewarding to put on a size 16 jeans that you have been wearing for five years and realize they are loose!

Be Proud Of Who You Are

Every person and every body is different. I may not look like you and you may not look like me, but we are both healthy people. If you feel healthier and look healthier, then that is all that matters.

Kickboxing: A Great Workout

Kickboxing incorporates many of the moves of boxers with martial arts techniques, all set to music. It is an aerobic workout, but it is not dancing. Tae Bo does not take a lot of coordination, although coordination always helps. Instead, you develop your timing and sequencing as you learn the routines and the moves.

When you take a kickboxing class at the gym, you will typically find a fairly diverse crowd. Both men and women take this class, and the attendees vary greatly in age and fitness level. The one thing everyone has in common is a desire to work out and sweat off some calories without any fancy prancing or special routines. Kickboxing definitely answers those needs.

You typically wear everyday workout wear to a kickboxing class - anything from a tee shirt and sweatpants to bike shorts and a crop top. Good solid athletic shoes are a must! I would recommend cotton socks and a sturdy pair of cross-trainers. There's a lot of bouncing, kicking and a lot (and I do mean, a lot) of jumping jacks, so your legs are going to get a workout. Comfortable shoes can help absorb some of the impact.

Kickboxing motion includes a lot of boxing moves. These include jabs, punches, hooks and uppercuts (all arm moves, directed at an invisible opponent in front of you). Your legs are almost constantly moving, in a boxing shuffle (side to side or front to back, typically at an angle), speed bag (a jogging motion while striking a punching bag) or in a lunging motion. There are also many martial arts moves that include front kicks, side kicks, rear kicks and knee lifts (called strikes). You may also jump rope or pretend to jump rope working both your legs and your forearms.

Kickboxing is also an excellent workout for your legs, you will probably feel it in your upper body as well. As I learned the motions more accurately, I started to see a lot more tone on my arms. My buttocks and thighs often become sore after doing a lot of kicks (this is a good thing, I want to work those areas!) and my calves will always complain the day after a kickboxing class. Because you lean when you kick, you will feel the workout in your back and obliques (sides of abdomen) too.

Although kickboxing is not a lot of high-impact movement, it is still a good cardiovascular workout. There is a lot of controlled motion, and a lot of repetition that helps those of us who are less coordinated figure out the moves and try to make our bodies go the right way at the right time. You can easily substitute one-legged jumping jacks to reduce the intensity or to help with a sore or injured leg. One regular attendee has an injured knee, he wraps his knee and minimizes the lunging motions but is otherwise able to keep up with almost everything in the class.

If you are looking for an athletic oriented workout while integrating a few interesting moves into your routine, or if you just want to try something new, Kickboxing is a fun way to do this. It doesn't require previous knowledge of boxing techniques or martial arts expertise, it doesn't even require a lot of coordination.

Kickboxing is the most co-ed class that I have ever taken at the gym. It focuses on working and sweating rather than appearance and fancy footwork. I have really enjoyed the contrast that Kickboxing brings to my exercise regimen. If you haven't ever tried a kickboxing class, I recommend that you try it. It's not for everyone, but it's a great way to incorporate a little more cardio into your workout regimen!

Boot Camp Workouts

Everyone knows how to "be all you can be": Join the Army.

However, many people are choosing to skip the armed forces and get fit by enlisting in a "boot camp" workout. For every would-be GI Joe and Jane, there's now a way to get in shape-military style. It's a rage from L.A. to New York, for the fitness crazed. This back-to-the-basics fitness regimen is attracting men and women with a "no frills" high energy military style workout.

The boot camp workout is modeled after the training of the Navy SEALs, Air Force Elite Units, and the gung ho!

Boot camp programs burn fat through aerobic exercise while building lean muscle mass through calisthenics. Using your own body weight as resistance, this workout can be done anywhere and requires virtually no equipment!

The program is popping up in gyms across the country, and even hitting the shelves under the title, The Official Five Star Fitness Boot Camp Workout.

"Everyone finally realized the military had the most functional way of training people," says Paul Frediani, coauthor of The Official Five Star Fitness Boot Camp Workout.

"Boot camp" training is somewhat mislabeled in that while the regimen copies military exercise, in most cases the threatening terrain and unforgiving leadership is absent.

While some people are willing to pay a personal trainer $100 an hour in a gym, the beauty of the boot camp workout ethic is simplicity, there's no fancy health club or no high tech equipment.

There is lots of hard work and sweat. Experts agree there is nothing better than the basic pull-up and push-up for virtually every aspect of physical training.

In California, many of the boot camps are on the beach. On the East Coast and in the Midwest, classes are often held in wooded areas and on large fields. Fitness recruits perform pull-ups, knee raises, push-ups, chin-ups, bicep curls and long distance running. We are talking plain old, in-your-face, drop-and give-me-20, I-can't-hear-you fitness.

Those who sign up as a fitness recruit say they see improvements in the first three weeks. "I've increased my flexibility by 40 percent, my muscle endurance by 25 percent and decreased my mile run time by 2.5 minutes," says an enthusiastic recruit. From whatever fitness level you start, this program can to get you into shape no matter what.

The boot camp exercises can be approached with any kind of intensity and any number of repetitions, which can be suited to anyone of most any age. It can be as challenging as you want it to be.

In all the hoopla over a return to the old boot camp ways, exercise gurus advise:

  • Always check with a doctor (especially if you're over 40) before beginning an exercise program.
  • Make sure the instructor has national certification.
  • Establish that the boot camp has a good reputation.
  • Observe a class or camp in action before signing up.
  • Tell the instructor it is your first class and don't expect to be able to keep up with other veteran participants.
  • Wear comfortable clothes, good cross-training shoes, and a cap, if outdoors.
  • Always warm up and stretch before a workout.

Whatever fitness regimen you choose, experts remind you to make sure your workout is well-rounded. Each program should deal equally with strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination/agility.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Circuit Training Workout

Try the following outdoor workout to boost your energy and metabolism. You can burn several hundred calories with this high energy, multi-activity workout. Self-monitor your exertion level by aiming for a 7 on a scale of 1-10. Adjust the intensity based on how you feel. Ready, set, go!

Minutes Activity
10 Warm up: Slow jog or power-walk
5 Step-ups* on high curb, flat bench or stairs; alternate two minute step-ups with a set of 10-20 pushups
2 Power walk
1 Jumping jacks
2 Slow jog
5 Sprints: 20 steps followed by one minute recovery jog; Alternate sprints (increasing each time by 10 steps) with recovery jog
1 Jumping jacks
2 Power walk
** Repeat sequence IF you are at a higher fitness level
5 Cool down: easy walk and gentle stretches

Exercise Options for Non-Exercisers

"Buying a treadmill and putting it in your home is a great way to have the option of exercising anytime, day or night. But you must remember most treadmills are big, bulky and costly and will require a large area. "

Want to lose weight? Do you hate to exercise, but also hate being overweight? Here is a brief answer to resolve this seemingly contradictory problem.

A friend recently e-mailed me and offered up this question:

To my exercise guru (I love that!), I pose this question. If I want to lose weight, and I hate to exercise, do I have to do aerobics or can I invest in a good treadmill? Did I say I hate to exercise? But alas ... I hate being overweight.

Candice, you are definitely not alone in your hatred of exercise, my mom's favorite saying: "I get plenty of exertion walking from the couch to the refrigerator, why do I need to go for a walk?"

Exercise is so important, especially when you have small children whom you must run after all day. Exercise helps you keep your energy levels up! Other benefits of exercise include improved cardiovascular fitness, reduced blood pressure, reduction of the risk of bone loss, decreased body fat, and decrease in depression, anxiety and tension. Exercise is important for your emotional as well as physical well being.

Buying a treadmill and putting it in your home is a great way to have the option of exercising anytime, day or night. But you must remember most treadmills are big, bulky and costly and will require a large area. Also, with your little kids running around, you will have to erect a play gate around the treadmill so little fingers do not get caught in the belt. It is easy to put off exercise if you plan to do it in your home (you know that if you do not exercise now, the treadmill will still be free at 8:30), so you must write it into your daily agenda -- 3:30 pay bills, 4:00 exercise.

A 150 pound woman, walking 4.5 miles per hour, will burn approximately 440 calories, the more you weigh, the more you burn. A treadmill will work your lower body, from the hips down. You do not want to neglect your upper body; you would need to invest in a set of free weights as well. For a beginning exerciser, 1 to 3 pound hand weights will be sufficient. Start off slowly and get your doctor's consent before beginning any exercise program.

Going to the gym and interacting with other women is one of the main reasons I love aerobics. Also, there is variety in your workout: different instructors, different moves and different women taking classes too. Aerobics works the whole body, your legs are moving, your arms are swinging and there is great music. If you have a question, there is usually an onsite personal trainer who is knowledgeable. If you join a health club, look for one that has free on-site daycare; otherwise, you may have a hard time making it to the gym. As with a treadmill, you need to schedule your workout time.

If you think that once your husband gets home from work you may not want to go, schedule your time in the morning (and take the kids to the gym's daycare). You will burn approximately the same amount of calories with low impact aerobics, as you will when you walk on your treadmill.

Candice, I am partial to aerobics! I need the interaction with other women. That right there is the secret to sticking with an exercise program: finding an exercise you are comfortable with, that you may actually enjoy, and adhering to it, be it walking, biking, running, swimming, aerobics … anything that is going to get your body moving and your heart rate up. Good luck in your quest and keep me posted!

10 Ways to Add Spark to Your Exercise Program

  • Head for the Great Outdoors
    Do you always exercise indoors? Lately, has the sound of clanging weights set your teeth on edge? Why not exercise outside? Try walking or running at a beach, park or lakefront. Look for what nature has to offer. Maybe you can do sit-ups by propping your feet up on some rocks or pull-ups on a very strong tree branch.

  • Take a Group Fitness Class
    If you're used to exercising in a gym, but don't set foot in the group fitness studio, give it a try! Imaginative fitness professionals are always creating new types of classes. Gone are the days of just hi- or low-impact classes. You may sample indoor cycling classes, yoga, group strength training, Latin dance or more. See what your gym has to offer.

  • Get Some New Music or Books on Tape
    If you love working out alone, maybe you just need something new to listen to. Get lost in a compelling story with a book on tape or try a new musical style. If you love rock 'n roll, try jazz or classical just for a kick!

  • Ask a Friend to Join You
    If new music doesn't motivate you, try taking a friend on your daily walks. This can make the time fly by and give you a whole new perspective on your favorite trail.

  • Look for Inner Calm
    Are your workouts usually hard-driving, go-'til-you-drop types of affairs? Maybe you need to try Tai Chi, meditation or yoga to still your inner voice. In addition to adding variety to your workout, being able to tune into your inner voice can prove valuable in your professional and personal life.

  • Stretch Yourself
    You may be burned out on your workout because your muscles are sore. Are you stretching after your workout? See if your gym has stretching charts or take a stretching or yoga class. Or, ask a fitness professional to show you some effective stretches.

  • Create a Family Workout
    Are you feeling guilty because the time you spend exercising takes you away from your significant other or kids? Maybe that's why you have the workout blahs. Get your family together and brainstorm physical activities you can do together.

  • Seek the Services of a Personal Trainer
    If you feel like you are not improving in your workouts that is sure to give you the blahs! Try hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions or a short-term period. He or she can examine your workout and suggest ways for you to get stronger or faster.

  • Give Yourself a Goal
    Shake up your workout program by setting a goal -- participating in a triathlon, running a 5K or hiking up a local mountain. Then structure your workouts to meet your goal. Working toward -- and achieving -- your goal will re-energize you!

  • Look at What You're Eating
    You may be feeling sluggish in your workouts if you are not eating the right food. Are you eating enough calories and enough fruits and vegetables? It may be worth consulting with a registered dietitian to find out.
  • For Successful Aging, Exercise Your Brain Cells as Well as Your Body

    Articles and information abounds on physical wellness and aging. Especially with the aging Boomers, we see articles on anything from mountain climbing to bungee jumping as keys to successful aging. All of us want to maintain our independence and be able to enjoy our mature years, and while physical exercise is definitely a part of it, mental exercise is just as important.

    In the past, it was thought that mental decline was inevitable with age. That decline is no longer accepted as inevitable. While there are a few specific losses associated with age, there are great differences among people, and there are now many centenarians who play bridge, read and are mentally sharp beyond the 100-year mark.

    The best way to maintain mental sharpness is to not lose it. In fact, use it or lose it applies here too. While it may be tempting at times to withdraw from some activities, music, painting, poetry, sculpture, learning a language or anything new, writing, working on the computer, all keep your brain active. Just like the physical self, training in the later years can help restore some cognitive functioning, but the best way is to keep mentally active in the first place. If you have problems visually, look for big print books or use audiotapes, but don't drop those activities that are interesting and challenging for you. Complex mental activities are food for the brain. Don't starve it.

    You can still learn something new at any age. You may learn differently, or need to have a little longer time to absorb the material, but you can learn. Perhaps it is more comfortable to take classes with Elderhostel among others of the same age range or at the senior center, but you are never too old to learn a new way of cooking, a new art form or anything else that sparks your interest.

    A very interesting finding by the MacArthur Foundation on Successful Aging was that a sense of self-efficacy was key to continued mental sharpness. This goes along with recent findings that too much "care giving" can bring deterioration. It says to the individual, "You aren't capable, so we are doing this or that for you." Mentally sharp oldsters have a belief in their own ability to handle various situations. They believe they can handle life's problems and challenges. They are more interested therefore in learning and continue to participate in mentally challenging tasks and activities. We have all read about individuals who continued to work way into their 90's. Now, while the structure of going to work and the social support of fellow employees is important, a key factor here is the continued use of one's mental skills. And we have all witnessed the mental slide when an individual is put in assisted living facilities or a rest home, and the lack of mental stimulation is evident quickly.

    Your choices for mental stimulation are endless, and no matter what your interests, there should be and are activities that you can enjoy. Whether it is simply arguing politics with your family, learning a new craft, joining a book club, researching your family genealogy, learning Chinese cooking, or continuing to play a musical instrument, something should appeal to you. Volunteer activities or paid work can also offer some stimulating opportunities. Tutoring youngsters certainly will keep you sharp, as will writing that long forgotten novel or learning the history of your favorite vacation areas. Perhaps you'll decide to learn the names or species of trees on your walking route. The options are vast.

    Just imagine that your brain is like an engine with cogs, wheels and levers. If you don't start the engine and work the parts, it will deteriorate. The engine needs high-octane fuel, and it takes care to keep it going. Keeping your brain active, working the parts and using learning as fuel, will keep you reaching using your potential way into the future.

    Yes, exercising your body does help your brain, but it isn't enough. Remember to exercise your brain cells too.

    Easy Weight Loss Tips

    Looking for some quick weight loss tips? Here are some tricks of the trade for losing those unwanted pounds and keeping them off:

    • Plan meals and snacks ahead of time. Eating on the go can often lead to high-calorie meals or snacks. Plan ahead with low-calorie options. Sign up for a diet plan which makes it easy by planning the meals for you! This way you don’t need to worry about making those tough decisions alone. If you wait until you are hungry, it’s easier to grab a high-calorie item that you don't really want.
    • Eat a light snack before you leave to attend an event where food is served. Don’t arrive there hungry. While you are there, allow yourself to enjoy the foods you like but keep it to only one taste each.
    • Drink water in between meals to help prevent you from overeating. If you are considering having a second helping, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. This allows your body to sense the feeling of fullness. Often, we take a second helping too quickly and if we wait a few minutes, we realize we feel content.
    • Only eat until you are full. There is no need to feel like you have to finish your plate. If you are full, stop eating. Place a napkin over your plate if you feel you need to remove the temptation. If at a restaurant, call the waiter over and ask them to take your plate. You can always take leftovers home for another meal.
    • Don’t go shopping for groceries while you’re hungry. You will be more likely to purchase foods you may not normally buy. You may also find yourself nibbling on free samples or spending more money than you wanted to on other goodies. Plan out your grocery list before going to the store or use the grocery list which gives you all the foods you need for the week.
    • Don’t eat in front of the TV. This can become habit forming. The next thing you know, you’re eating when you are not even hungry because you are in the habit of doing it. Reserve eating for at the table.
    • Eat slowly and savor each bite. Learn to enjoy the tastes and textures of what you are eating. Sit down to eat your meals. This allows you to focus on your food rather than eating while rushing around doing other things. It’s easy to overeat if you do not notice what or how much you are eating.
    Research suggests that weight loss at a rate of about 1-2 pounds per week is more effective long term. I’m sure you’d agree that weight loss that is kept off is the better than losing weight and regaining it. If you have questions about what a healthy weight is for you, consult a Registered Dietitian for an individual assessment.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    Mood Therapy: Are you your own worst enemy?

    Are you a glass 'half full' or 'half empty' kind of person? Are you not only a 'half empty' person, but also a person who has many reasons why the glass is half empty, none of them your fault?
    If you go through your day-to-day life as a "half empty" person, you are most likely increasing your stress level without meaning to.

    Stress occurs when you have the perception that your physical or mental well-being is in jeopardy, and you also have the perception that you do not have the resources to get yourself out of the situation.

    I am not advocating a Pollyanna, rose-colored glasses approach to life. However, what you tell yourself, that internal monologue we all have, has an incredible impact on how you view events that happen in your life. For example, if you are in line in the grocery store and your line is moving the slowest, what is going through your mind?

    "I always pick the slowest line! Why is it that every time I go out I waste so much time in line? Why can't I be a better judge of a situation? I can't win!"

    We give ourselves messages like these all day long. An estimated 70 percent of what we encounter on a daily basis is negative and much of this is our internal dialogue. There are many different ways of turning situations into negative thoughts. Do you recognize yourself in any of these negative and distorted thought processes?

    All or Nothing: See the example above. If something negative happens, you see yourself as a complete failure. Your thinking is very black or white. No gray for you!

    Overgeneralization (one event becomes the truth): You see one negative event as evidence of a pattern of defeat. For example: a person cuts you off and pulls into the parking space you were going to use and you think, "This happens every time! People just don't care anymore. What is this world coming to? How can I function in a world like this?"

    Mental Filter (your focus is always on the negative, you don't see the positive): You dwell on a single negative experience and are unable to see anything but that dark view. For example: You have a meeting with your boss and she discusses a comment you made during a conference call. Even though the rest of the meeting was spent praising your work, you ruminate for hours about her remark.

    Disqualifying the positive (self-deprecation): You deny positive events, insisting they don't count. For example, your friend thanks you for helping her in a difficult situation by saying, "I didn't do anything special, anyone would have done that for you."

    Jumping to conclusions (predicting the future): You jump to a negative conclusion without any evidence.

    Mind Reading:
    You see a friend in the bank and they don't say hello to you; you assume that she/he is mad at you.

    Fortune Telling:
    You know with certainty that a negative result is going to happen. For example, you decide not to apply a new position within your company because you know you'll never get it.

    Magnification (catastrophic): You amplify the importance of a mistake or negative event. For example, you find a bruise you can't explain and assume you have a life-threatening illness.

    Should Statements: Statements you make to yourself that contain the words ought, should or must.

    Labeling and Mislabeling: Giving yourself a label based on an event. For example, you eat a candy bar and you say, "I'm such a pig." You miss an exit, "I'm such an idiot."

    Personalization: You take responsibility for events, no matter what the situation is (GUILT). For example, your child has trouble in school and you are sure that it is due to your bad parenting.

    Perfectionism: You expect yourself and others to perform without making mistakes. You become upset even if the mistake is understandable within the circumstances or without consequence.

    Approval Seeking: Every person in your life must approve of whatever choices you make or actions you take. You consistently change what you do to achieve approval of others.

    Self-Righteous: You expect that the people in your life (and even others) should do what you consider to be right. If they don't, they deserve to be punished.

    Woe Is Me: You see yourself as the victim of the situation, no matter what the circumstances. You have no control in your life. For example, your computer crashes at work. You interpret this as a considerable tragedy that happened just to make your life worse and you know that you are not going to be able to get through this.

    Reductionism: You are unable to see the complexities and possible positive outcomes of a stressful experience. You reduce the reasons for an event to one simple reason. For example: You pull a muscle during an exercise class and decide that it is the instructors fault even though you know you skipped your warm-up before class and used a larger weight today.

    Fallacy of Fairness: You judge events in your life as unfair even when the events have nothing to do with justice. For example, you are not picked to be part of a five-person panel for a company you volunteer for. You decide the process was unfair, when in reality 25 people signed up and they took the first five.

    Comparison: You continually compare yourself to other people in your life that leave you feeling either better or worse than they are. These comparisons often have no impact or merit in your life. For example, you compare your car to the cars others drive.

    While these thought patterns are common - did you recognize yourself in several of the categories? - they can have a significant impact on your perception of a situation. And, your perception of an event is what is important. You can make a situation, which admittedly is negative but manageable, into an event that causes you to lose sleep or causes you to have that "feeling" in the pit of your stomach turn. Over the long term, these types of thoughts can contribute to low self-esteem and even physical problems as that "feeling" turns into a real life ulcer.

    What can you do?

    As with any other change you want to make in your life, changing your automatic thoughts will take time. The first step is awareness. Read over the list and keep the categories in mind over the next week. When you are in the middle of a stressful situation listen to your internal dialogue. See if the things you are thinking could be one of the above distortions.

    As you are listening to the internal dialogue think about what you thinking: do I have evidence that it is really true? Am I exaggerating? Can I look at this in a different way? Do I know for a fact that this is really going to happen? Is it to my advantage to keep thinking in this way?

    As you find that you can identify the thoughts that are negative, you can begin to counter the thoughts. Tell yourself that this is only one way to look at the situation. Concentrate on giving yourself a more positive view of the situation, one that isn't so personally damaging. You will begin to notice when you are in a cycle of negative thoughts. Consciously tell yourself to stop and reflect on what you are thinking.

    As you practice stopping and redirecting your thinking you will find your perception of situations will change. You will find that negative events, while they still happen, won't affect you as much. You may even find yourself able to put yourself over into the "half full" side of the population!

    Adapted in part from: Burns, D. 1990. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. New York: New American Library Skills Training for Mind/Body Change, Mind/Body Medical Institute and Harvard Medical School Department of Continuing Education, December 2000.

    Healthy Weight Tips: Supersizing Doesn’t Lead to a “Super” Size

    How big of a gulp do you have to take to finally feel satisfied? Americans consume 530 calories more per day than they did in 1970. To burn off these extra calories, you would need to walk an extra two hours a day. As we grow older, our body needs fewer calories to keep us going. However, our insatiable appetites and increased portions have left Americans nine pounds heavier on average than we were two decades ago.

    Although we eat similar foods, America’s obesity rate is three times that of European countries. European portion sizes are much smaller. For example, in the UK, an order of French fries is 5.5oz and in the US it is 7oz. If you were to go out for a steak in the UK you would receive 8oz of steak, but in the US a whopping 20oz serving is average.

    In the mid-1990’s, the restaurant industry standard size plate was 10 ½ inches. The plate size has now increased to 12 ½ inches and in some restaurants as big as 15-5/8 inches. Portion sizes have been growing because food has become one of the least expensive aspects of running a food service establishment.

    Portions have increased in both the food and beverage industries. In 1976 the first “Big Gulp” was introduced by the 7 Eleven chain. At that time, the “Big Gulp” was 32oz. Over time the 44oz “Super Big Gulp” (587 calories) and the 64oz “Double Gulp” (853 calories) were both introduced. To put ounces into perspective, the average human bladder has capacity for only 13.5oz.

    Unfortunately people are learning these increased portion sizes from fast food chains and restaurants and bringing them home.

    Here are some helpful tips to avoid super sizing in your household.
    1. Check your plate size at home. You can fool your eyes and your stomach by decreasing the plate size.
    2. Refer to the food guide pyramid for some examples of portion sizes.
    3. Spend a couple of days measuring and/or weighing your portions to become familiar with calorie content and appropriate amounts.
    4. Eat about 5 -½ cup servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The more colorful, the better.
    5. When you get home from grocery shopping portion out your meats and fish into individual servings before freezing; this way you're less likely to eat more than one serving at a time.
    6. At dinnertime, serve meals onto individual plates in the kitchen rather than bringing platters and bowls to the table for self-service. By leaving remaining food in the kitchen you may not be tempted to take seconds.
    7. Read all food labels and check for serving size. By knowing how much of a packaged food amounts to one serving you can set limits on how much you eat.

    Martial Arts, A Woman’s Experience with Anger and Survivorship

    I began my husband's karate class in 1989 after the birth of my first child. My reasons were simple; I wanted to spend more time with my husband while attempting to lose the seventy pounds I had put on during the pregnancy.

    Until I began my training, I had never had a desire to participate in any form of martial arts. In fact, I really couldn't stand the stuff due to all the hokey Saturday morning movies where the Chinese villain's mouth moved three minutes just to say, "Kill her." I smiled, listened to his newest self-defense techniques and nodded at the appropriate time while he spoke about his "other love."

    At the age of 29, when I finally joined my husband in going to the dojo, I went in with the attitude that I really was going to try and learn. Much to my surprise, I soon discovered that I enjoyed it. I also realized that no matterhow much effort I put into my training, the results came back ten-fold.

    I moved quickly up through my belt colors while practicing my sparring techniques and fine-tuning my personal favorite activity of Katas. When I became a green belt (fourth belt in my style) my husband and I started to compete in tournaments around the state of Texas. I continued my training and received my first-degree black belt in 1991.

    By this time I had lost the excess weight and felt better than ever. I could climb a full flight of stairs carrying the baby without stopping half a dozen times. During round robin sparring, I was able to continue in the center for up to twenty minutes, and one hundred fifty sit-ups were a piece of cake. Then all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. My abusive childhood came back to bite me in the rear.

    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I began to have trouble with all the attention I received from men due to my new fit body and size. Tournaments became a nightmare because every person judging me in any division was always a man. Each time we went to a tournament, I became physically sick and unable to breathe. I also experienced anxiety and panic attacks.

    Although I didn't give up my martial arts training, I stopped competing for quite some time. As the repressed anger, fear and memories started bubbling to the surface, my husband and I decided to turn our martial arts in a new direction by teaching self-defense and rape prevention to women and children. In doing so, I turned a living nightmare into something good.

    The heavy punching bag in our dojo has been a Godsend. When the nightmares or anger become overwhelming, it absorbs all I can dish out and waits for more. By envisioning my abusers as part of the bag, I can stay focused, yell, cry, punch and kick until the anger is gone. If my hands give out before the anger, I have a handy baseball bat that just happens to love contact with the big bag.

    At other times, I can put on a soothing musical tape and practice for hours doing nothing but Kata. Each movement, slow and deliberate, with each exhaling breath releasing a little more of the anxiety and tension.

    Some days when the anxiety hits hard, I will simply lock myself in the building and do nothing but the stretches I was taught as a white belt. By the time I am on the floor with my legs stretched open as far as possible with my chest and head resting flat on the floor, the anxiety and tension will have long since been gone.

    During our training sessions, I am the only female in the entire school. As such my options are very limited as to sparring and training. I can participate and fight the demons of being attacked by a man or I can sit in the corner afraid. By forcing myself each time to enter the ring or practice the self-defense moves, I am empowering myself to be able to fight back. To stand up as an adult and face life head on. For those who have never been abused or raped, it may be hard to understand just how difficult it is to build up enough gumption to even yell "NO!" at a student who is playing an assailant.

    For those women who have thought about joining martial arts for whatever reason, go for it because it is something you will not regret. As for the survivors of child sexual abuse, rape, or sexual assault as an adult, it is a fantastic method of ridding yourself of the anger, hate, anxiety and terror so many of us live with every day of our lives.

    Cardio: Basketball - Three Secrets to Success

    First, get fit. Basketball is perhaps the most demanding of all sports. It's a game of quickness: fast starts, sharp cuts and turns, acceleration and deceleration, and jumping. The heart of the game is running. It's estimated a player will run a total of three to five miles in a game. This running includes sprinting up and down the court on fast breaks, chasing players cross-court, breaking through picks, and scampering behind a series of screens to get a shot off.

    You don't achieve this level of fitness in practice. It comes after-hours, with no one around to cheer and prod you on. This is what separates the haves from the have-nots. You don't have to drink raw eggs like Rocky, but you have to have that kind of dedication to move up the ladder. Most basketball games are decided in the final few minutes, when most gas tanks read empty. Find your second wind and lead your team to victory!

    Secondly, learn how to shoot free throws. A vast majority of contests are decided at the charity stripe. In fact, check out the box score of most games and the team with the best free throw percentage is often the winner.

    So, how do you practice? We all know that shooting free throws is Shaq's Achilles heel. But did you know it's been reported that he hits around 70% in practice? You sure wouldn't know it from the games.

    Far be it for us to second-guess the NBA's Most Valuable Player, but perhaps he's not practicing the way most coaches recommend. Most players can hit a high percentage of their free throws when that's all they are doing, just standing around shooting, but that's not how the game is played.

    Here's a drill that will help get you in shape and hopefully, improve your free throw shooting. At the end of practice, when you are tired, start running suicides (that's start from the base line, run to the free-throw line, touch it, run back to the baseline, touch it, run to half court, touch, back to the baseline and continue to the other free throw line and baseline). Do this as fast as you can, just like in a game. Do it three times, with only a short amount of time between efforts.

    Now, you are ready to shoot. Your heart rate should be elevated. You should have a nice sweat going and your legs are probably a little weak. If you are part of a team, here's the drill: You get two shots. If you make them both everyone goes home. Miss one everyone does one suicide. Miss them both, and everyone does two. Now, that's pressure. You've got 11 other tired guys who want to call it a day hoping, praying you've been practicing your free throws. Obviously, you can do this drill on your own and you probably should, as you never know when you may be asked to sink a pair of free throws with five seconds left to save the game.

    Finally, if the other team can't score, you can't lose. Become a strong defender. Sure, defense isn't glamorous, but it's one of the most important things coaches care about. Being a good defender means more playing time, period.

    Most every team practices the zig-zag drill. That's where a coach will hold a ball in one area as you back pedal in that direction with your hands up in a defensive stance. You do this all the way down the court.

    Don't just go through the motions here. Try to react as quickly as you can as if you are actually in a game. Also, keep those hands in the air. You can bring your hands down much quicker than you can raise them -- if you are vertically challenged, having your hands up will make you appear taller and thus more intimidating.

    Late in a game, it may be hard to keep your hands up, that's why you need to train. Another good drill for this stems from a football exercise. Run hard in place with your hands above your head as you turn a quarter each time the coach blows the whistle. For this exercise to really work, you've got to put your all into it, and especially keep up those hands. Generally speaking, you could be on defense for at least 45 seconds, so you must consistently keep your hands up for that length of time.

    Sure, doing these drills isn't much fun, but winning is. It's often the team with the players who give it their all during practice that has the smiling faces when the final horn sounds.

    A Yoga Primer: Japa, Karma, and Hatha

    Now that yoga is being taught everywhere, including gyms and at health resorts in Europe and the United States, more and more people are beginning to recognize the health benefits of this ancient Indian practice. As yoga master Yogananda states, "Yoga is for everyone, for the West as well as the East. One would not say the telephone is not for the East because it was invented in the West."

    Getting Started
    Before jumping into a yoga routine on your own, try reading a beginner's book first and then consult with a yoga expert. It is easy to learn yoga by taking a series of beginner classes at a yoga studio, gym, or community center. Here the instructor should lead you into the correct form by way of demonstration and correct your form. If you feel lost in a class, then consider hiring a private instructor who can design an individual program for your specific body type and fitness goals.

    After you have learned the basics from your instructor, it will be easier to do yoga on your own whether by watching a video or following a book.

    Styles of Yoga
    At first the many strange names of yoga may confuse and intimidate you. The yoga classes you attend may vary if you switch yoga studios or instructors every so often. Most instructors prefer a specific style and teach their classes in such a way. Some styles are more of a workout while others are more about relaxation and breathing.

    First of all, there are three types of yoga, Japa, Karma, and Hatha.

    The yoga of the mind is called Japa meditation. This involves the chanting of mantras and is considered "food for the spiritual soul". If you are more interested in stretching and improving your flexibility, this is not the yoga class for you. This is more of a religious or spiritual practice of yoga.

    The second is called Karma yoga. This focuses on the healing of the past by way of meditating on the well-being of others.

    Finally, the third type is called Hatha yoga. This is the physical yoga that focuses on stretching, breathing and strengthening. While many yoga instructors list Hatha yoga as the name of their class, they are merely referring to the category, physical yoga.

    Within the realms of Hatha yoga, there are many different styles to choose from. While they are considered physical, some are more physical than others have differing focal points such as alignment, breath and movement or holding postures for sustained time.

    • Iyengar: focuses more on the execution of poses rather than the poses themselves with emphasis on alignment, strength, and flexibility for better mind and body control. Backbends, inversions, and props such as walls, blocks and belts are typical of Iyengar yoga.

    • Ashtanga (or Astanga): Focuses on movement and keeping a fast-paced series of sequential poses going in a continuum, emphasizing strength, flexibility and building heat within the muscles. Push up-like movements combined with other poses that build upper body strength are characteristic of Ashtanga yoga.

    • Bikram: Done in higher temperatures with 26 different poses, Bikram yoga warms and stretches the muscles, ligaments and tendons in an order beneficial to the entire body system.

    • Kripalu: Considered the Hatha yoga of consciousness, i.e., "honor the wisdom of your body." The emphasis consists of increasing flexibility, stretching, lengthening the spine and reducing tension while being conscious of one's limits. Students are instructed to work within their limits of flexibility and strength. Those suffering from fibromyalgia or arthritis can find relief with this style of yoga. Kripalu also allows for increased awareness of the physical and psychological reactions to various postures.

    • Kundalini: Drawing from all the yogic systems and techniques, kundalini yoga strives to awaken "kundalini" energy found at the base of the spine. Using classic yoga poses, breathing techniques, and coordination, a kundalini class will also include a bit of chanting and meditation to stabilize the mind and body.

    Since yoga helps to increase flexibility, strength and coordination in addition to causing increased circulation and mental focus, yoga can be beneficial for nearly everybody. You can choose a specific style of yoga or merely take a hatha yoga class that will likely encompass the more basic forms of yoga. Be sure to start slowly and explore the various styles while enjoying the entire process of doing yoga.

    Getting Fit: Running or Cycling?

    So, you want to get fit? You have made the decision that round is out, that the clothes you see people wear on TV are the ones you want to get into, and your significant other made 'a comment,' about your appearance.

    Successful fitness programs revolve around choice and compliance. You decide you want to get fit and you decide to comply. So now -- WHAT DO I DO?

    Get basic … pick a sport, one that is available and popular and of some interest. "I used to run in high school," "I do have a bike-it isn't beautiful, but with some new tires, it will work."

    Cyclists and runners rank amongst the world's most fit people. Seen the Tour de France or the New York Marathon? Yes, these people are fit AND those people are thin, meaning "I CAN get into those clothes!"

    Running (also called jogging)
    A sport that has been around a long time, and popular since we were hunters and gatherers. As a training tool, jogging and running can produce excellent aerobic fitness. It is also an inexpensive and convenient sport requiring only running shoes, some simple apparel and your time.

    The idea is to run off more calories than you put while working your arms and legs. Adding hills and intervals will increase the work. Using a heart rate monitor will give you an accurate idea of your heart zone so you can "zone in" on fat expenditure and avoid over-training. You can avoid climate problems using a treadmill while also getting the same or better workout by adjusting the grade or resistance.

    By the way, running is the faster version of jogging and it comes in different flavors-distances, terrains, and speeds. I suggest starting with a reasonable goal and training period. For instance, start with a local 5K event and finish it even if you walk across the finish line. Then, proudly wear your commemorative T-shirt.

    Make sure you recover from your runs or jogs by drinking enough water, eating nutritiously, and getting enough rest. Any fitness program will fail if you do not get enough rest and recuperation, eat properly, and take care of yourself (vitamins, sleep, etc). You CAN do this.

    Bicycles are everywhere -- clubs, homes, on the road and on the trails. This sport is a bit more complicated than running and more expensive -- requiring a functional and safe bike, clothing, gloves and a helmet. Other issues include bike maintenance, flat repair, comfort upgrades and glasses. In a city environment, outdoor cycling may be limited to closed parks on certain days, but with an indoor trainer, your computer, and NetAthlon software, you can even change that and live in downtown New York, but be cycling the back roads of China! Generally, it takes longer to get fit with cycling because you are using the machine's efficiency to help you cover distance, and its momentum overcomes gravity during the workout. The usual energy conversion is one mile running to approximately 5 miles of cycling. Practically speaking, then, you need to stay on the bike longer to burn the same number of calories.

    But cycling does take you outdoors so that you can tour the countryside while getting fit. You get to go up hills and then enjoy the downhill. It is easier to carry food while cycling, so it can become an all day affair and lead to greater weight loss (remember the clothes) and improved fitness (remember the doctor talk).

    Cycling also lends itself to group activity (remember the significant other). In the last few years, Spinning, indoor group cycling using special trainers with an instructor, has gained popularity and has, in some cases, replaced aerobics classes. This can be a motivating way to get into cycling and improve fitness while meeting many new fitness minded people. Known for its "high energy," Spinning will definitely help you lose weight.

    Cycling has other advantages over running: it is non-impact (as long as you don't fall off your bike or get run over) so if your knees are a problem and your doctor prefers you stay away from running, cycling is the better option. You can use cycling as a tour vehicle to visit the French countryside, etc. Cycling events are held all over the world and are often well organized with various levels of energy commitment - you finish when you finish, and if you are too slow, a van will sweep you off the course and get you home! Cycling is a low-injury sport and can be enjoyed life-long.

    Whatever sport you choose, give it "the full shot," meaning stick with it for at least 3 months before you think that this is not for you. Both sports have an enormous fun factor and the fitness rewards cannot be overstated.

    Have you ever considered a 'raw' diet?

    Have you ever considered a 'raw' diet? People that try it, love it! What does it mean to go raw? Here are some things to consider.

    There are three main types of vegetarians: Ovo-lacto, or those who include dairy and eggs; lacto, just dairy, no eggs; and vegan, no animal products at all including honey and clothing made from skins/fur (or any other parts) of animals.

    People who eat fish and chicken are not vegetarian. Fish and chickens are not vegetation.

    Now, vegetarians and vegans can be broken down into groups. First are the ones who don't eat the flesh of animals for the sake of the animals. Then, there are the ones who are doing it for their personal health.

    What I have found is the people who are concerned about the animals, for the most part, tend not to have as healthy a food program as those who focus on themselves, first.

    I've found that people, who focused on animal welfare, drank alcohol, ate sugar (note: the bones of animals are used to process sugar), caffeine, many smoke and didn't care whether their rice was white or brown. The quality of the food was rarely an issue. It could be highly processed, homogenized, pasteurized, heated and filtered. Many of these people seem to be overfed and undernourished as most Americans are.

    Now, I've also found that many people who have chosen a vegetarian diet considering their health first, still might smoke and often drink caffeine and alcohol. So here, we break down the category even more. Those who drink alcoholic beverages, those who don't; those who smoke and those who don't; and those who do no drugs at all including caffeine.

    Some people view focusing on yourself first, as selfish. My feeling is, when people focus on their health first, they win; the animals that aren't tortured and slaughtered for the food industry, win; and the environment wins, also. Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me.

    Breaking down the category even more are the raw-food vegetarians. Why raw foods?

    If, for no other reason, they taste, look and feel better. Second, and most importantly - the enzymes. When food is cooked, most of the naturally occurring enzymes are destroyed which forces the pancreas to work harder to secrete the enzymes needed to digest the food. Is it any wonder that diabetes is so rampant in this country? Do you think with all the work the pancreas has to do, it might be a bit overworked, stressed and tired?

    Now, why are enzymes so important? Their function is to detoxify, repair and assist in the proper functioning of the endocrine glands and other vital organs. They are also responsible for every other biological thing our bodies do.

    When we eat raw foods, the enzymes are already there in the foods, which means the pancreas can sit back and relax a bit.

    You may have noticed that only humans eat cooked foods. All other animals eat their foods raw unless we humans give them cooked and processed foods in which case they often have digestive (and other "human") problems -- which would not occur in the wild.

    People who eat a basically raw-food diet have found that many of their physical problems disappear including, digestive dysfunctions, poor skin, mood swings, allergies, inadequate elimination and unsatisfactory weight (too much or too little is out of balance).

    Personally, when I went on a mostly raw foods program last year, I eliminated excess fatty tissue, my skin improved along with my energy and I lost cravings for unhealthy foods because I felt so nourished. My theory is, that many people smoke and drink due to some craving or distortion caused by lack of nutrients in their bodies.

    If you drink or smoke and want to quit, try the experiment. What can you lose besides a couple of bad habits?

    I've included some questions I often hear and my answers to them:

    What do you eat?

    All fruits, vegetables, sprouted grains, nuts and seeds and sea vegetables.

    Where do you get your protein?

    All live foods contain protein, even fruit. Let me repeat that -- all live foods, including fruit contain protein. It is virtually impossible for an American today to not get enough protein unless they are on a mono-diet (one food only), drink too much alcohol, are anorexic or bulimic or are subsisting on pastries, chips and other highly processesed "foods." In these cases, these people are not only lacking in protein, they are lacking all nutrients needed to sustain health. How many people do you know who have died from lack of protein? On the other hand, how many people do you know who have or have had, osteoporosis and kidney problems, which stem from an excess of protein?

    Someone eating a raw or mostly raw-foods diet, especially if they include sprouted and organic foods and raw fruit and vegetable juices, would be getting more nutrients than any of their counterparts who are eating the Standard American Diet (SAD, isn't it?)

    If I don't include dairy, where will I get calcium?

    There are many foods in the plant kingdom which are very high in calcium including; raw beet greens, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, watercress and turnip greens. Now I've only listed the highest of the high. There are many other vegetables, such as spinach, which contain large quantities of calcium. In the fruits; dates, currents, kumquats, prunes, raisins, rhubarb and tamarinds contain large amounts of calcium. If you add sprouts to this list, you will be getting more than enough calcium. For instance, radish sprouts have 10 times more calcium than a potato and 29 times more vitamin C than milk.

    As I said about protein, all living fruits and vegetables have calcium.

    And none of the foods listed above are mucous creating or cause arthritis, rheumatism, joint pain or sinus and ear infections. As a matter of fact, people who have gone on a living/raw foods program have found that these maladies and many more, have disappeared.

    You mean I have to eat salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner? I already eat salad every day!

    No, of course not. Anyone would get tired eating salad all the time. It's very easy to whip up a raw soup containing celery, cucumbers, carrots and any other vegetables you'd like to include, spiced with green and red onions, lemon juice, cumin, turmeric, garlic and ginger and thickened with avocado.

    Add to that an almond or sunflower seed pate with celery sticks for dipping; a raw root salad with sesame seed dressing and veggie burgers made with the almond pate and any sprouts you might have handy. Finish off with raw peach/mango pie with a sprouted seed, nut and fruit crust.

    Will I have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen?

    After you become organized and use to preparing things, you will find that will probably take less time than preparing your usual meals -- unless most of your usual meals come out of a bag.

    For instance, it takes about 30 minutes to make a raw pie compared to making the dough, rolling out the dough, preparing the filling and baking.

    Or, taking the time to dress to drive to a restaurant, (we're not talking drive-through, here), get seated, peruse the menu, place the order, wait for the food, wait for the dessert, wait for the check, drive home, etc.

    If your refrigerator is stocked with pre-made burgers, pate and fresh veggies and sprouts you can whip up a meal and be eating within about a half hour and you can be sure of the quality of the food.

    What do I need to get started?

    I would suggest a good food processor (at least 11 cups), a juicer and a good blender. You can always add more things and higher quality as you start seeing the benefits this food program is having on yourself and/or your family.

    Another benefit of this food program is the savings in time and money from being well. Your children (if you have any) will spend their school time in school and you can use your "sick" days as "well" days.

    This is a food program you can live with -- literally. This is not a fad diet to lose weight. It is a lifestyle change. As with any change, go slowly. Find some books specializing in raw-food recipes. Add a few things every few days until you find how easy and simple it is to prepare these foods. You will be amazed at how logical it is to go raw.

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Cardio: Mastering and Enhancing Your Breathing Technique

    The power of the breath is an amazing asset to your cardio workouts. How often do you find yourself 'sucking wind' only 10-15 minutes into your run, or bike, or whatever form of cardio activity you perform?

    By mastering and enhancing your breathing technique, you can increase endurance and performance.
    Take your cardio workout back to basics. Stop trying to kill yourself in every workout. The first step to mastering your breathing is to control your intensity level.

    This step may be the hardest to accept and achieve. It requires you to slow down and focus on increasing your aerobic capacity. Your aerobic capacity is your ability to sustain an activity for a period of time and at a specific intensity without driving your heart rate up so high that you begin to breathe heavy and become fatigued. To help monitor this, you will need a heart rate monitor.

    Determine your aerobic training zone by using the following formula: 220 minus your age, minus your resting heart rate. (To find your resting heart rate, it is best to take your heart rate first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, for three days in a row and take the average - preferably without being startled awake by an alarm clock.) Take that number and multiply it by 65%, 75%, 80%, and 85%; then add your resting heart rate back in.

    For Example:
    220 - 27 - 50 = 143
    143 x 65% = 92.95 + 50 = 142.95

    This person would need to reach a heart rate of approximately 142 to be at a training level of 65%. Once you complete the formula for each percentile, this person's aerobic training zone is between 65%-80%, which is 142 to 164.

    Now that you have determined your training zone, you can proceed with mastering your breath. This step should be practiced for the majority of your workouts. In order to truly develop your aerobic endurance, you must dedicate your training to building your aerobic capacity instead of going into every workout with the mentality of "I have to sweat profusely, I have to breathe very hard, and I have to be exhausted." It is these exact thoughts that will defeat your long-term goal - to become a smarter athlete. The object to any fitness goal is to train smart. So, if you workout 5 days a week, 3 to 4 of those days should be dedicated to this step.

    How does it work? While jogging, walking, biking, or whatever your cardio exercise may be, focus on maintaining your heart rate at 65%. You may find that this is not the intensity you are used to. DON'T INCREASE YOUR INTENSITY! This is why this step will be the hardest. Many of us do not have the discipline to workout at a lower intensity. Remember that in the end you will be a stronger, better athlete.

    While maintaining 65%, concentrate on your breathing. Take deep, slow, diaphragmatic breaths. Try to feel the oxygen enter through your nose and travel down into the abdomen, then exhale slowly. The majority of exercise participants tend to take short, shallow breaths during their workouts. This causes the heart rate to increase, the body has to work harder, and before you know it you are out of breath and need to stop.

    By focusing on your breathing you not only train the body to perform more efficiently, but you also train your mind to control the reactions your body has to that activity. You become the master of your workout. So again, take long, slow, deep breaths that go all the way down into the abdomen, and then exhale as slowly as you can. If you want to take it to the next level, try to breathe with your mouth shut.

    As your body becomes trained, and your aerobic capacity begins to improve, you will find that your heart rate will drop below 65% at your current intensity. At this point you should praise yourself for the great success - your body is more efficient at utilizing oxygen and you are one step closer to becoming the Master of your breath and workout. Once you have achieved this goal, go ahead and increase your intensity minimally and strive to achieve the same goal: maintaining 65% training level while breathing with control and maybe even keeping the mouth shut.

    You will try to perform this for the majority of your workouts. If you workout 5 days a week and you workout at this level for 3 of your workouts, you can easily be more creative with the other two: workout a little bit harder, increase intensity, etc…. This will help to cross train your body.

    Most importantly, don't give up, and don't give in to the temptation to "kill, kill, kill." Believe me, it works! I have trained myself to the point that I can run for 30 minutes at an intensity of 6.0 mph with a heart rate of 136-145 and not have to open my mouth once to take a breath. As for my training zone, I am the example set above. It's a great and motivating accomplishment that everyone should experience. Good Luck!

    Marathons: A Walk in the Land of the Midnight Sun

    "Paved paths. Gravel roads. Dirt trails. Old wooden bridges over swift running creeks. Sidewalks. The marathon presented us with a variety of terrain and a mix of Alaskan scenery."

    Marathons -- if the idea scares you, perhaps walking a marathon would be more your speed. Here one writer shares her heartfelt story of walking the Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska.

    "Runners," I heard someone yell. As I turned my head to look back, the first of more than 2,200 runners in the Annual Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, were fast approaching. I joined in the cheering, "Go runners!" For the next few hours, runners of all ages and shapes and sizes would be passing me by. I continued to cheer. After all, I had 22 more miles to go. But not as a runner, I was one of the 860 walkers who had started out just one hour before.

    The Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon is one of the few in the country that invites both runners and walkers to participate in the race. But what brought so many of us to Alaska's largest city was the Leukemia Society of America's "Team in Training" program.

    As part of a national fund-raising effort, teams are formed in cities throughout the country. The program combines training runners/walkers for the ultimate physical challenge -- a marathon -- with fund-raising to help find a cure for Leukemia and related cancers. So on June 21, the longest day of the summer, which in Alaska is 19 hours and 21 minutes, over 3,000 people stepped from behind the start line to achieve a personal goal of 26.2 miles.

    Paved paths. Gravel roads. Dirt trails. Old wooden bridges over swift running creeks. Sidewalks. The marathon presented us with a variety of terrain and a mix of Alaskan scenery. The stunning Chugach Mountains towered beyond us. Thick, wooded foothills surrounded us. We even moved through picturesque neighborhoods and local parks. But the most challenging leg of the race led us down old Army tank trails full of rocks, ruts and potholes. Leave it to the Alaskans to make sure our experience was nothing short of adventurous.

    Each mile marker was a great accomplishment. All along the way, people were talking, cheering and encouraging each other. Aid stations offered water, Gatorade and cut-up oranges. Volunteers helped with twisted ankles, blistered feet, cramped muscles and struggling bodies. But almost everyone persevered. After all, the vast majority of the runners/walkers were doing it in honor of a child, father, mother, grandparent, brother, sister or friend who is running another kind of race -- one against a killer disease.

    "I was motivated by the families and patients who are stricken with Leukemia," said Pat Brooks from South Carolina. She walked the 26.2 miles while her daughter, Kim Brooks, ran it. "Just when I thought my legs might give way or my knees hurt, a person would pass by with a picture of a child or loved one with Leukemia attached to the back of their shirt, I'd see that and keep on going." Pat added, "Compared to what patients with Leukemia go through, a marathon is nothing. I'm proud I did it and raised money for such a good cause. It was one of the most exciting things I've done in my life."

    Right before our eyes, a story unfolded that symbolized the challenge of the marathon and the Leukemia Society's fight for a cure. An 11-year-old boy, Eric Nelson Iverson from Omaha, Nebraska, who had waged his own battle against Leukemia for five years, proudly crossed the finish line with his mother holding one hand and a special friend holding the other. But what touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes, was the fact that this special friend, John Burke of Lexington, North Carolina, had saved this young boy's life just two years before. He had donated his bone marrow.

    The aches and pains in my own legs seemed to subside as I watched the trio hug in triumph. The marathon had truly been the most moving experience of my life.

    More than seven hours after we started, the last member of our team crossed the finish line. We celebrated. Instead of Gatorade, we filled our cups with champagne and toasted our accomplishment. Exhilarated and exhausted, we walked to catch a bus back to our hotel. As I limped along, I became filled with emotion. I had not only walked a marathon but I had finished it - all 26.2 miles.

    Alaskan Marathon Facts

    Elevation at start: 220 feet above sea level
    Elevation at finish: 90 feet above sea level

    Sunrise: 4:22 a.m.
    Sunset: 11:43 p.m.

    Average Temperature at start: 55 F
    Average Temperature at finish: 65 F

    Time Limit: seven hours for runners, eight hours for walkers

    Aaaaaah, Chocolate!

    Finally, what we've been waiting so long to hear! Chocolate is not the evil food we thought it was! The day has come when chocolate, instigator of countless cravings, can be good for our health. This is one guilty pleasure you don't have to feel so guilty about.

    High quality chocolate contains vitamins B1, B2, C, D, antioxidant vitamins A and E, as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, and fluorine! (It's like taking a multi-vitamin…well okay, not quite!) Following are some notable qualities of chocolate:

    Cocoa is the highest natural source of magnesium, and the high magnesium content of chocolate is beneficial for the cardiovascular system and hypertension. Additionally, magnesium levels are found to be low in women during menstruation along with low progesterone levels, which is responsible for the violent mood swings familiar to so many women. Adding magnesium during this time has proven to increase pre-menstrual progesterone levels, thus alleviating the problem. The magnesium in chocolate is also credited for adding to the euphoria one gets from eating chocolate.

    Flavinoids found in cocoa may help protect against cardiovascular disease. Chocolate contains a number of flavinoids, compounds which slow the oxidation of fats, thus preventing low-density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad cholesterol") from forming plaques and clogging arteries.

    Other chemical components found in chocolate include tannins, phenol, serotonin and tyramine. Tannins and phenol are the same chemicals that act as antioxidants in laboratory tests of red wine. The potency of these antioxidants has been found to significantly reduce an individual's risk of heart attack. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in chocolate, acts as an anti-depressant. Serotonin and tyramine, a normal substance in the body that helps support blood pressure, are also present in chocolate and provide a mild calming, balancing effect.
    The fat in high quality plain chocolate does not clog up the arteries or contribute to high cholesterol levels. However, keep in mind that good quality dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate, which contains added saturated fats such as milk fat, dairy cream and hydrogenated oils, plus added sugar and corn syrup. Stick to fine dark chocolate rather than processed milk chocolate.
    So why is it that chocolate has gotten a bad rap? Simply because this food should still be considered an indulgence, meaning, we still need to watch our intake and not eat too much of it. Chocolate is still a high fat, high calorie food. So exercise the "S" principle when indulging in this heavenly food - Savor Small Samples! And if you're going to indulge, go for the good stuff.

    Follow these tips from the American Dietetic Association to get the most enjoyment from your chocolate:

    • Chocolate is best tasted on an empty stomach.
    • Never put your chocolate in the refrigerator -- it will cause the cocoa to separate and form a white bloom.
    • When tasting dark chocolate, let it sit in your mouth for a few seconds to release its primary flavors and aromas. Then chew it a few times to release the secondary aromas. Let it rest lightly against the roof of your mouth so you experience the full range of flavors. Finally, enjoy the lingering taste in your mouth.

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    "Anyone without inside knowledge wouldn't have put his or her money on Gracie. He was the lightest guy in the UFC tournament, and didn't look like much of a brawler. But he ruled."

    Certain martial arts have come into vogue over the years, usually popularized by media exposure. Here is a look at Brazilian Jui-Jitsu.

    Bruce Lee brought kung fu to the masses through movies in the 1970's. Ninjutsu was given a similar push through the 80's, thanks to Steven Seagal, and aikido was the hot art of the early 90's. But after 1993, the martial arts world was turned upside down by a slender young Brazilian named Royce Gracie.

    The venue had changed from the movie theater to the television set, where 20-dollars on pay per view would buy you a ringside seat for a martial arts contest in which all styles were allowed. There were no rounds, no time limits, and the only restrictions involved eye gouging and biting. The end of a match could come by your corner throwing in the towel, knockout, or tapping the mat to signal your submission. It was called the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the media once again allowed vast audiences to see the birth of a martial revolution.

    Anyone without inside knowledge wouldn't have put his or her money on Gracie. He was the lightest guy in the tournament, and didn't look like much of a brawler. But he ruled. In the beginning, no one could last more than a couple of minutes before Royce inevitably made his opponent's tap out. It was fun showing tapes of the UFC to my friends and telling them, "Keep your eye on the little guy. Yah, that one. Trust me."

    Having studied Judo, I recognized the two techniques Royce usually employed, *arm bars and chokes, but had never seen anyone get into them so smoothly. I (along with everyone else that was watching) wanted to know more about this martial art he was doing, and the UFC made it no secret that the techniques he displayed to take out his larger and stronger opponents was the Gracie family's own style of jiu-jitsu, adapted and refined in the rough streets of Brazil.

    The birth of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu reads like folklore. Japanese Judo Champion Esai Maeda traveled to Brazil to help establish a Japanese immigration colony, and was befriended by Brazilian politician Gastao Gracie. As a way of thanking him, Maeda taught Judo techniques to Gracie's son Carlos, who in turn shared the techniques with his four brothers, one of which was Helio, the father of Royce Gracie. Thus, Judo techniques from Japan were brought to Brazil, where they were modified and tested in real fights, then exported to the United States, where a huge demand had been created by Royce's success in the UFC.
    This demand for instruction in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, also known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for instructors outside the Gracie family, was almost impossible to satisfy. Video instructional had to suffice for most wanting to learn the techniques, since few authentic instructors lived in the United States, and most of those were situated in Southern California, or in other sunny climates reminiscent of Brazil.

    Since 1993, significant changes have taken place in the martial arts community, especially in regards to cross training and conditioning, but fall outside the scope of this article. Currently, with instructors (or qualified representatives) in greater distribution throughout the U.S., the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has rapidly spread over the past 8 years, and given birth to a bona fide subculture and martial lifestyle.

    A traditional Brazilian school may start each class with a vigorous (some would say Olympian) calisthenic routine, then show a variety of ground fighting techniques to practice and drill, and finally finish up with some sparring. A ninety-minute class will leave you in a bizarre state of muscular exhaustion and adrenalizedglee. It's a tough discipline, but there's something addictive about the intensity of BJJ that leaves you craving another class.

    Any discipline like this, which really pushes your limits, gradually begins to affect daily decisions on how you live your life. The changes may start off small, perhaps additional protein in your diet, or increasing your water intake. For others, the changes come quickly, once their body reminds them how poor health habits negatively affect performance. After you've lost your wind, nausea has kicked in, and your sparring partner is mauling you with an intensity rarely seen outside of wartime, detrimental health decisions (tying one on with the boys last night; that final pre-class cigarette) are deeply, deeply regretted.

    Bit by bit, changes compound and many BJJ practitioners find they're taking care of themselves better than ever. Diet is monitored and optimized for muscle retention and peak performance. Weight training is adopted for additional strength and injury prevention. Yoga is often explored for increased flexibility and breath management. Time management strategies to get outside errands and activities done before class suddenly surface. Jerry Springer is replaced by instructional videos on arm locks or passing the guard. More and more decisions are based on improving yourself and progressing in this discipline you've adopted, because you realize every action will give you an edge in your efforts to pay back that partner that mauled you in last night's class.

    Perhaps the greatest aspect of this art is the opportunity to make new friends in class. They're like brothers, you kick their ass, they kick yours, and through that, a genuine camaraderie is built. It is, in a sense, an ultimate boys club, where you can roughhouse in a safe and controlled manner, and admission is paid through hard work and sweat. Girls are invited too, but most get frustrated at having to contend with men who can't leave their ego at the door and overpower the women with strength rather than technique. This is especially unfortunate, since the ground fighting studied in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would familiarize a female with the range and intensity she is likely to face against a male attacker.

    Another extension of the BJJ community can be found on the Internet. Discussion forums such as and allow martial practitioners from a variety of backgrounds to come together and post on a variety of topics. Technical questions are asked and answered, promotions are announced and congratulated, and martial celebrities occasionally drop in to share their thoughts. Beyond this, the forums act as a hub for people with a common interest. They can meet to train or just help each other in times of crisis or need. My forum brothers have helped me in the past, and moments like that make you realize that some of your strongest allies may actually be people you've never met before.

    It's easy to see how a person can be initially enchanted by the "magic" of martial arts, observing somebody like Royce Gracie demonstrate their effectiveness, and have that spark of interest and curiosity transform your life, one step at a time. The discipline may be arbitrary, but the effects on your lifestyle are uniformly positive. For now, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is my vehicle of choice, my self-improvement vessel.

    The lineage of instructors tracing back to the Gracie family is short, and being so close to the source elevates standards of proficiency, creating a deep sense of accomplishment when students achieve a new rank.

    In the realm of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is definitely one of the hardest roads to travel, but the journey is nothing less than exhilarating, with every step well worth the effort. If you ever get the chance to observe or participate in a class, do it. You won't regret the time invested, and you might get hooked into a lifestyle that will change you for the better.

    Alcohol and Exercise – A Good or Bad Combination?

    Have you ever wondered whether having a few drinks after exercise is a problem? Sometimes after a good workout you might find yourself in a situation where you want to drink an alcoholic beverage. Read on.

    This is particularly true if you stop at your health club after work and then go to dinner. You might want a glass of wine or beer with dinner, or you may be planning to party with friends. Should you change your plans just because of the aerobics class you just attended?

    In fact, no, you don't need to change your plans. You just need to use a little common sense. It is well known that your body needs to re-hydrate after exercise. By drinking water, a sports beverage or eating water-laden food, you can replace some or all of the water lost during exercise. Note that it usually takes a couple of hours for the water and electrolytes you consume to work their way into your tissues. Drinking alcoholic beverages is known to have a dehydrating effect on your body. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing you to lose water, so this is where the quandary resides - should you or should you not drink alcohol after exercise? Will the hydration immediately after the workout suffice to counteract the dehydrating effects of the social drink afterwards?

    Scientific studies have examined this concern over the process of re-hydration of your body tissues. A study by Shirreffs and Maughan, published in 1997, helps to answer these questions:

    Drinks containing different amounts of alcohol were given to healthy individuals after exercise and the effect on re-hydration was studied. The subjects all did the same amount of exercise and were given the same number of beverage. However, different groups were given beverages containing different amounts of alcohol. The scientists studied both the amount of urine produced by the subjects and also determined their fluid balance before and during the process of re-hydration.

    It was found that low amounts of alcohol had no effect on the body's ability to re-hydrate. Higher amounts of alcohol, however, did result in slightly slower than normal re-hydration. Measurement of urine output showed that subjects consuming no alcohol and those consuming small amounts of alcohol produced the same amounts of urine over a period of 6 hours of re-hydration. Those consuming higher levels of alcohol produced slightly more urine during this time. Measurement of fluid balance showed that all subjects achieved re-hydration after 6 hours although those who had consumed the higher level of alcohol reached this level a little more slowly.

    These scientists believe that the fact that your body is somewhat dehydrated after exercise actually blunts the dehydrating or diuretic effects of alcohol. This is clear because the urine output of subjects consuming low levels of alcohol was essentially the same as the urine output of those who had consumed no alcohol. Only the higher levels of alcohol caused an increase in urine. However, even this increase in urine does not have any significant effect on re-hydration of the body.

    What does this mean to your plans for the evening? It means, simply, that moderation is the best approach. Any time you exercise you should drink fluids for a few hours afterwards. You should always consume more water than the amount that you have lost through sweat. After a heavy work-out, a couple of beers or a glass of wine are likely to have no effect on your body' ability to restore normal water balance. Even if you find yourself drinking more than that, there still is no serious effect to worry about; your body will simply take longer to re-hydrate. You may be able to help the process by increasing your intake of water and food along with those few extra drinks. If you give your body plenty of water and food to work with, it has an amazing ability to keep its balance.

    Much has been written about the potential beneficial effects of alcohol. Many articles have been written showing evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly in the form of wine, can reduce the risk of stroke. Other recent studies have shown that moderate amounts of alcohol can cause elevations in the levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood. This is the "good" form of cholesterol and therefore a beneficial effect of moderate alcohol consumption. In fact, exercise and moderate levels of alcohol can work together to benefit your overall health. It should be kept in mind, however, that alcohol might cause an increase in blood pressure, particularly in men.

    Obviously, the relationship between exercise, consumption of alcohol and your health is very complicated and not completely clear. The best thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to consume alcohol, it is best to do so in moderation. Over-indulgence is never a good thing; but in limited quantities, alcoholic beverages are not likely to present a risk to healthy individuals when combined with exercise.

    Exercise on the Road: Portable Equipment

    If you want to take some exercise equipment along when you travel, but don’t like the thought of hauling your trusty iron dumbbells in your suitcase, you may be pleased to hear that there are now collapsible alternatives. These are made of plastic, not iron. You just fill them with water when you reach your destination, pump some H2O, then drain and fold them when you’re ready to leave.

    These items can give you a decent dumbbell workout without having to pack your own iron, with the attendant threat to your shoulder, the little wheels on your suitcase, or whoever’s standing next to you in the check-in line. Aquabell is the leading manufacturer for this equipment.

    Even more low-tech are devices you can attach to a doorjamb or knob and use to with the weight and resistance of your body. The more you support your weight on the device, the harder the exercise become. The one I used recently is called the Jam Gym. It’s a length of webbing with a buckle that slides into the door jamb on one end and on the other end it splits into two bands with a handle on each side. Believe me it works!

    Don’t use anything that hasn’t been specifically designed for this kind of exercise, and make sure you check for rips or flaws before you use it. If you’re leaning forward at a 45- degree angle with your weight supported by webbing or tubing, you don’t want it to break. These devices usually come with instructions—Jam Gym also has a video—but you still have to know how to do the exercises for them to be safe and effective. I don’t recommend these for beginners.

    Elastic bands or tubing, long used in rehab, are becoming more and more popular as resistance training devices. Made by companies such as Theraband and Dynaband, and widely available, they are usually color-coded according to how heavy they are. Don’t just automatically reach for the pink ones if you think you’re not very strong. You should use heavier bands for large muscle groups (legs, back, biceps) and lighter ones for the small (triceps, shoulders).

    You can get more resistance by doubling the bands or grasping them so that they become shorter. Be careful though. These things do break if they are overused or overstretched. Bands are attractive to many people, because they are inexpensive, light in weight, and easy to transport, and that is also why you may want to take them when you travel.

    Here’s a quick look at how you can use elastic exercise bands to get a workout.

    Chest: Sit forward in a chair, wrap the band around your back a couple inches below armpit level, hold it so you get the desired tension, and extend your arms as though you were doing a vertical (seated) bench press. You can also perform a chest fly by keeping your elbows straight and moving from there out to the sides and then out to the front. Incidentally, you can use the same technique to add resistance to your pushups.

    Upper Back: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and loop the band around your feet. Pull the ends of the bands back in a rowing motion, elbows close to your sides, until your hands are at your ribs. You may want to double the bands or use one arm at a time to make the exercise harder. Another option is to pull the band tight with your hands overhead, about shoulder width apart. Then pull it down to your collarbone, bringing your shoulder blades together as though you were doing a lat pull down.

    Shoulders: Sit or stand on the band, depending on how long it is, grab the other end and bring your arm out to the side like a lateral dumbbell raise. Exercise one arm at a time.

    Arms: To work your arms, do biceps curls by standing on one end of the band. For triceps, grab one end with your arm behind your back, then point the elbow of the other arm up with your elbow bent, and straighten out that arm with the band in that hand.

    For most people, these bands will not provide enough resistance for a good lower body workout. You’re better off doing some sort of squat or lunge, even if you just sit down lightly on a chair and get up again repeatedly. An exception would be if you want to tie the band to a heavy object such as the foot of a bed, then loop it around your ankle and move your leg either out to the side or inward, crossing over the other ankle, to work the outer and inner thigh.

    For abs, you’ll have to forget about the bands and do some crunches.

    Travel Well, Travel Safe!