Saturday, May 13, 2017

Finding Your Why

Last weekend, I attended The Fitness Summit, in Kansas City, Missouri. Presentation topics included Nutrition, Training the Hybrid Athlete, Wellness, Uncommon Mobility Methods, and Gym Design. At first, it seemed like every presentation had a different angle: offer many choices, don't offer choices; recommend pre-packaged foods, encourage food journaling. Overwhelmingly, however, every presenter stressed the importance of "Finding Your Why."

Finding your why is important in all aspects of life. Many people focus on what they have to do. The endless tasks continue to mount up, and we may wonder why we're never getting ahead. Life gets a lot simpler when we stop to ask ourselves why we do things.

For the purpose of this email, think about why your health and fitness goals are important to you. Whether your goals are specific or general, what is it that motivates you to exercise and keep a healthy diet? By focusing on the underlying reason behind our motivations, preforming the tasks, be they exercise or healthy eating, can all start to feel much easier.

My why(s):
  • regular exercise decreases the pain I feel from rheumatoid arthritis
  • I come from a very active family and it's important to me to maintain the family value of running and exercise
  • exercise keeps me emotionally stable
What are your Why(s)?

Adults will Walk For Money, Charity

A recent study showed that financial or charitable-giving incentives motivated adults to move more. In a 16 week study, 94 adults aged 65 and older were given pedometers and challenged to increase their daily steps by 50%. Participants were assigned to one of four groups.

Control: received weekly feedback on progress
Financial: received a $20 reward
Social-Goals: received $20 donation to charity
Combined: received $20 that they could choose to cheep, donate to charity, or split between themselves and the charity

All three incentive groups met the step goal on more days than the control group. The financial group took more than double the steps taken by the control group, and the social-goals group eked out a few hundred steps more per day than the financial group. The combined group walked less than the other two incentive groups but still more than the control group.

That said, a 4-week postintervention follow-up found no difference in steps among the four groups, with all three incentive groups dropping back to the same level as the controls.

How do you feel about these results? It seems that incentive schemes can increase adults levels of walking, but only temporarily. What would be a more long term plan for success in increasing activity.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2017;

Monday, March 27, 2017

Office Stretching Program

Recently, the scientific community has identified a new disease called the “Sitting Disease.” The average American spends 55% of waking time (7.7hrs) sitting. Sitting for long periods of time has been linked with increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even death. Other research found that women who sat more than six hours per day were 94% more likely to die than those who sat less than three hours per day. In men, the longer sitters were 48% more likely to die.

In addition to this, the “desk posture” we adopt leads to certain musculoskeletal adaptations. By sitting and using our arms in front of us (at a keyboard), we tend to develop tightness in the chest. This leads to weaker muscles in the upper back. Over time, this can cause a forward shoulders hunched posture. In the hips, sitting leads to tight hips flexors and weak glutes. The weakened glutes force the hamstrings and low back to become overactive to compensate for the inactivity of the glutes. Over time, these musculoskeletal changes can lead to low back pain, upper back pain, etc.

Can exercise counteract prolonged sitting?
Research has come to two different conclusions when it comes to whether or not exercise can counteract prolonged sitting. One conclusion is that no amount of exercise can counteract prolonged sitting. The other conclusion is that exercise can improve health outcomes, even with prolonged sitting. I tend to agree with the 2nd conclusion. Expecting exercise to “counteract” another habit is unrealistic. Everything we do is cumulative, and thus, while we cannot counteract prolonged sitting, we can improve health outcomes by exercising before or after prolonged sitting at work.

In addition to exercising before or after work, taking some time for more activity in the office can also be a very effective way to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. Activity trackers nowadays have reminders that will remind you to get up and move at certain time intervals. I would also recommend adopting an office stretching habit 1-2 times per day. Stretching will increase performance in physical activities, decrease your risk of injuries, help joints move through their full range of motion, and enable muscles to work most effectively. Print out and try to implement this office stretching handout. I’m here to help if you have difficulty understanding any of the stretches.

Standing a little more each day tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow, ramps up metabolism, and burns extra calories.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Take more steps to ward off sickness

Good news for regular exercisers: The more active you are, the less likely you are to get sick. At least that's according to data compiled by Jawbone, a manufacturer of wearable tracking devices.

The company wanted to determine a person's likelihood of becoming sick, so it compiled a variety of self-reported data from the Jawbone UP app. Based on that information, data analysts developed a sickness likelihood score. Here's what they learned:
  • People are more likely to fall ill during winter months
  • Individuals with higher BMIs tend to become sick more often
  • Men aged 25-45 who take an average of 14000 steps daily are four times less likely to become sick than those taking fewer than 4000 steps daily
  • When sick, most people see a decrease in steps of 5%-12% and an increase in sleep time of 5%-7%
Have you noticed a similar effect from exercise yourself? Regular exercise boosts immunity, so that may be the contributing factor to why fewer active people are getting sick.

Please let me know if you'd like help making regular exercise a part of your life!

Some kind words

One of my clients just sent me a very kind write up of her personal training experience:

I am a 62 year old female. I just completed 4 months of personal training with Viktoria and Fit Athletic Club/Carmel Mountain Ranch.
I have tried so many, many times to get fit-- joined clubs, had personal trainers, done it all, but this is the first time I have ever stayed committed to the process. I have seen in four short months, my body fat mass drop, my balance improve considerably, and I am definitely stronger and overall I feel good.

Viktoria is very knowledgeable, made it "fun", listened to my concerns (I have chronic back pain) and at the same time pushes me forward. I definitely believe by starting out with her as a trainer and getting understanding of the equipment and type of exercises I should be doing has made all the difference in my being able to stay committed.

Viktoria is a very good rep for your gym/company and a very valuable member of your team.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Combating Prediabetes in Healthy Weight Adults

Recent research from the University of Florida reports that one-third of normal-weight adults over age 45 have prediabetes, a high-risk state for developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers compared data from 1988-1994 with data gathered in 2012. The results showed that the prevalence of prediabetes among healthy-weight adults aged 20 and older increased from 10.2% to 18.5%. Among people aged 45 and older, the prevalence of prediabetes increased from 22% to 33.1%. The report raises concerns about current practices used to detect the disease.
Current recommendations for prediabetes screening focus nearly exclusively on adults who are overweight or obese. These guidelines make it less likely that individuals with healthy BMI will be screened, despite the increasing prevalence of prediabetes among this group.

Fortunately, there may be a solution. Another study, this one from Duke Health, examined the effect of different exercise intensities on glucose homeostasis. Good news: it doesn't have to be "go big or go home" for people to benefit.
The 6 month intervention study separated 150 adults with prediabetes aged 45 to 75 into the groups below. I've indicated their improvements in glucose tolerance with the---->
  1. low amount/moderate intensity (walking 7.5mi/week)---->5% improvement
  2. low amount/moderate intensity (walking 7.5mi/week) plus caloric restriction and reduction in fat intake---->9% improvement
  3. high amount/moderate intensity (walking 11.5mi/week)---->7% improvement
  4. high amount/vigorous intensity (jogging 11.5mi/week)---->2% improvement
Results showed that the diet-plus-exercise group led the pack with the greatest glucose tolerance improvement. This emphasizes the importance of combining a healthy diet and exercise. The exercise intensity did not have to be very vigorous, as seen in groups 1, 2, and 3. This indicates that the time duration of the exercise may also be an important factor to consider; the same volume of exercise performed at a higher intensity will take less time.

Bottom line: Exercise and healthy diet is important to everyone regardless of weight in order to decrease risk of prediabetes.

Healthy Weight Adults at Risk for Prediabetes

Regular Moderate Exercise Best for Glucose Control

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Protein: When and How Much

Protein is always a hot topic. Carbs and fat have both been on the chopping block in our diets at different times. Protein, however, has been connected to everything from weight loss to muscle gains. Perhaps there is something to this. Researchers have been investigating protein's role in aging and satiety across the lifespan. They have found that we're eating too much protein at the wrong times and not enough at the right times. We need more high-quality protein at breakfast and less protein at dinner.

How Much Protein?
Nutritional recommendations have long recommended that 10-15% of our daily calories be from protein. However, recent research suggests that the minimum should be boosted to 25%, given the positive benefits of higher protein intake on satiety (fullness) and other physiologic functions. If you've been logging your food, you'll remember how I recommended the macronutrient percentage adjustment of 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates.

Protein Intake and Timing
Most Western diets skew protein consumption toward the evening meal. Breakfast is typically carbohydrate-rich and protein-poor, while the evening meal is often much higher in protein and calories. Also of importance is that only 40% of Americans even eat breakfast. Thus, not only are many Americans consuming low-protein breakfasts, but the majority are not consuming any protein at all. There is increasing evidence of a causal link between breakfast skipping and obesity. Research shows that it is best to distribute protein intake throughout the day. This will promote muscle growth and repair, as well as satiety and reduced calorie intake throughout the day.

Boosting the Protein in 8 Basic Breakfasts
Bowl of cereal with milk: choose a high protein cereal
Egg and cheese on a roll: choose a (small) breakfast burrito with beans
Butter and jelly on toast: swap butter for peanut or almond butter
Yogurt: choose a higher protein Greek yogurt and sprinkle fruit and a high protein cereal on top
Oatmeal with water: swap water for milk and sprinkle on some chopped nuts
Smoothie with milk or yogurt: swap the milk or yogurt for kefir, a cultured probiotic
Homemade muffin: try baking a high protein muffin and spread some peanut butter on top
Banana: add a side of cottage cheese to feel full until lunchtime

Read the Full Articles:
Tapping the Power of Protein
High Protein Breakfast Ideas