How To Keep A Health Journal

How To Keep A Health Journal

There are several reasons to keep a health journal. It can make switching doctors easier or be invaluable in the case of an emergency when you can’t give the information and doctors need to depend on others. If you have chronic health issues that doctors can’t solve, even though you’ve gone to several, consider keeping a health journal that includes your daily diet. Other options to add to your journal are previous illnesses, surgery, family medical history, allergies, and medications you take.

Don’t forget to include family history.

It might not seem significant, but noting your family history of serious diseases is important. Some conditions or illnesses run in families. Aortic aneurysms tend to run in families. If one parent had an aneurysm, it increases your chances of having one. If both parents had aortic aneurysms tell your doctor so he sets up a schedule of periodic testing.

Your diet can tell you and your doctor a lot.

If you track your food intake and note when you feel bad or good, you have a lot of health information listed. If you notice every time you have dairy that you get digestive issues, you might have solved the mystery of why you get sick. Just cut out dairy for a few weeks and you’ll know if you have a problem with lactose intolerance or even a milk allergy. If you can’t lose weight and firmly believe you aren’t eating that much, tracking your food intake can back up your belief or help show you the truth.

Include advanced directives.

Advanced directives can include the healthcare power of attorney, DNR orders, organ donor wishes, and the healthcare power of attorney. People usually think their spouse automatically makes their medical decisions if they can’t, but that’s not always the case, especially in severe cases. Parents and children can take steps to stop spouses from doing what they believe is best. Having advanced healthcare directives with your wishes written helps your chosen healthcare POA to make tough decisions.

  • Choose the old-fashioned type of journal that’s a book and write everything down, or keep it on notes in your phone. Always let a family member or your medical power of attorney know you have a journal and where it is.
  • Record pain as you experience it. Include the type of pain, such as sharp or dull, and the specific area where it occurred. It helps identify why you have pain when you go to the doctor’s office later when your memory might be foggy.
  • Do you have a reoccurring issue that you’ve found a way to control You can help identify the problem by writing down your solution so the doctor can help eliminate it permanently.
  • Don’t forget to track your fluid intake, particularly your water intake. It can help you remember to hydrate more frequently. You track all fluid or break it down into categories, isolating water intake.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

How To Stay Active While Working From Home

How To Stay Active While Working From Home

People working from home in Mt. Airy share a common problem with others nationwide. It’s hard to stay active when you don’t have to get dressed. It’s too easy to stay in your sweats all day with your eyes focused on your computer or the pet project for your job. Unlike traditional jobs where you leave the house, it’s harder to maintain any semblance of a schedule. Your personal life melts into your work life. Even running errands or going to the gym can be difficult.

Create a schedule giving you breaks throughout the day.

You might think you’re accomplishing more by sticking with your tasks for long hours, but you probably aren’t. You need to get up and move around to increase circulation. Studies show that people who exercise and move more throughout the day improve their cognitive thinking and accomplish more. Schedule five minutes every hour to get up and move. You could do jumping jacks next to your desk or do a physical task around the house. Make schedule an appointment on your calendar to exercise at the same time daily. It becomes a habit that way.

Consider virtual training.

Virtual training allows you to maximize the time you use for exercise. You don’t have any travel time. We offer live streaming and recorded workouts you can do at home. Create your schedule around the workouts and be consistent. If the live streams don’t fit your schedule, find a time that works. You can access a recorded workout and exercise when it’s best for you. You can always switch and take your workout to the gym.

Do shorter workouts.

You don’t have to spend hours exercising. You can cut the time by using HIIT—high intensity interval training—workouts. HIIT workouts aren’t specific exercises but a way of doing any exercise. You push the limits, exercising at peak intensity for a short period. It can be as short as a minute or two. Then lower the intensity to a recovery pace for the same time or longer. You alternate between the two intensities throughout the workout. HIIT burns more calories and gets you into shape faster than steady-state exercises.

  • Plan activities you enjoy that get you moving. If you hate running, don’t run. If you love dancing, plan one night a week to go dancing. Include fun activities in your week as part of your workout program.
  • Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep can cause stress. Stress hormones can cause belly fat. It also causes an increase in ghrelin–the hormone that makes you hungry, and a decrease in leptin–the hormone that makes you feel full.
  • Walk more. Whether you’re walking around the house or walking outside, walking increases your activity. You don’t have to take a walk to walk more. You can take the stairs instead of the elevator or park further from the store and walk.
  • Break your workout into several shorter sessions if you don’t have time for a complete workout all at once. Studies show that three ten-minute sessions provide the same benefits as a 30-minute one.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

Why Strength Training Is So Beneficial For Women

Why Strength Training Is So Beneficial For Women

Many women avoid lifting weights and other strength training exercises and focus on aerobics or flexibility training instead. One of the reasons is that some women fear they’ll build big bulky muscles. Another is they believe weightlifting is not feminine. Neither is correct. Strength training should be part of everyone’s exercise program, not just men’s fitness programs. Strength training is a valuable asset for weight loss and provides many other benefits.

Strength training builds muscle tissue as it burns calories.

When you use aerobic training as your primary form of fitness you’ll burn a lot of calories. The problem is the calories come from burning both muscle and fat tissue. When you burn calories doing strength training it causes the body to burn fat for energy as it builds muscle tissue. Muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain, so the more you have the more calories you burn 24/7 by boosting metabolism. Strength training makes weight loss and maintenance easier.

Weight-bearing exercises help prevent osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis occurs when calcium leaches from the bone and makes them weak and brittle. One cause is less muscle tugging on the bone. When muscle tugs on the bone, the body sends calcium to it to strengthen it. Young women are more protected from osteoporosis because of hormones but once menopause occurs, that protection disappears. Doing strength training builds stronger muscles that tug on the bone and replenish the bone calcium.

Strength training reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis pain.

Doing any exercise helps burn calories. Strength training does that and boosts the metabolism to help prevent weight gain. It helps lower blood pressure and regulates blood sugar. When you work larger muscles, it causes the body to create nitric oxide that causes vessels to expand, lowering blood pressure. It burns excess glucose to help normalize blood glucose. It also strengthens the tendons and muscles around joints while stimulating the flow of synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. Both help relieve pain from arthritis.

  • Exercise helps reduce menstrual cramps and can help reduce menopausal symptoms. One study found that strength training for 45 minutes three times weekly cuts the number of hot flashes in half.
  • Studies on bone density and the effect of menopause and exercise found that inactive women lost 20% of their bone density during menopause, while active women only lost 10%.
  • Exercising before and during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of childbirth and make delivery easier. It keeps both the mother and baby safer. Regular exercise can also make fertilization easier.
  • Strength training can improve mental health and boost confidence. It improves posture, making you look and feel more self-assured. That makes a huge difference in all parts of your life.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

Nutrition For Your First 5K

Nutrition For Your First 5K

Many people who workout in Mt. Airy are often active outside the gym. They frequently do competitive distance running, like 5Ks. To do your best in any distance run, get adequate nutrition, particularly right before the race. Always focus on healthy meals, but the day or two before the 5K, amp up your attention to what you eat.

Forget carb-loading for 5Ks.

A 5K race can take you from a half-hour to an hour on average, depending on your age and sex. It doesn’t require carb-loading. If you’re running a marathon or any event that lasts longer than an hour and a half, carb-loading makes sense. For shorter runs like the 5K, you’ll have adequate glucose stored in your muscles from eating healthy before a race. Instead of increasing your intake of carbs a day or two before the race, focus more on eating healthy meals.

What you eat and when you eat it depends on your race time.

If you have a morning race, keep your breakfast down to 200 or 300 calories and eat an hour or two before the race. The food should be whole foods and mostly carbs. Avoid fat and fiber since they take a while to digest and will remain in your stomach while you race. Skip anything spicy that will cause digestive issues. Do a test run after eating the type of breakfast you choose a few days before the race to see if it agrees with you. If your race is later in the day, avoid eating a high-protein or high-fat meal because of slow digestion. Skip greasy mayo or buttery options. Don’t overeat.

If you’re hungry, eat a snack but make it light.

Having a small snack to tide you over while you race is okay, but don’t overdo it. Keep your snack light, like a banana or a few crackers. Find an option that’s easy to digest and won’t leave your running feeling bloated. Make your choice high in carbs and low in fat and protein. Make sure you drink adequate fluid.

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the week before the race. Right before you start the race, don’t guzzle water. Either you’ll need a stop to go to the bathroom, or it can make you sick.
  • Drink two to two and a half cups of water two to three hours before you race. A half hour before the race, another cup of water should keep you adequately hydrated to get through the 5K without dehydrating.
  • Don’t experiment with a new energy food or drink the night before or the day of the race. Nothing is worse than finding that new food or drink doesn’t agree with you right about the 4K mark.
  • Get to the race about an hour before it starts. That gives you plenty of time to use the bathroom before the race starts and prevents extra stress caused by running late.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

Stay Mentally Motivated This Year

Stay Mentally Motivated This Year

You’ve probably heard the saying about exercise that the brain was willing but the body wasn’t. That’s true in some cases where a program is too difficult for the person attempting it. Most exercise programs don’t end that way. Most of the time the body is able, but the brain isn’t going along with the program. They aren’t mentally motivated to stick with a workout program much longer than a week or two. How do you build that mental motivation and keep it high until exercise is a habit? Here are some options.

Vary your workout.

Varying your workout doesn’t mean just switching up the exercises in the gym. It means doing other types of workouts besides the gym. A night on the town dancing to every song is a heck of a good workout but you won’t notice it because it’s fun. Taking a biking trip for a picnic is another option that gets you fit and makes it fun. Make at least one exercise day something you love to do. Even hula hooping with the kids or jumping rope is great exercise.

Get a workout buddy.

This one can be the best choice or the worst. Be sure your workout buddy isn’t willing to skip the workouts too easily. Keep each other strong. Make it your goal to keep your buddy motivated. Doing that keeps you motivated, too. When you get to the gym and start working out, the time will fly, and you’ll be glad you went. In the meantime, your workout goes quicker. There are also other benefits from a workout buddy.

Give yourself a reward.

Your reward can be something you really want or something as silly as a star when you accomplish your goal. Recognizing and praising your personal dedication to continuing your program builds your potential to continue. It reinforces your determination to succeed. You can make your reward cash by paying yourself every time you workout as promised. Set a timeline. If you don’t miss a workout, you get the money for whatever you want. It may be your own money, but it’s also money you can spend any way you want without guilt. If you miss a workout, put it in the bank and start again.

  • Write out your goals and break them down into smaller, easier-to-achieve goals. Track your progress. Success is motivating.
  • Keep your motivation in front of you. Why did you start your fitness journey? Write it down on sticky notes and post them everywhere. Make a screen saver showing your reason for your fitness goal or put it on your phone.
  • Stay positive. If you have a setback, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, get right back to work. Know that even babies stumble when they first learn to walk and nobody thinks a thing of it.
  • Don’t worry about what others think. Stay true to your goals. If you don’t have a good support team around you, don’t share your goal with anyone. Find an online group to support your efforts if necessary.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

How To Create A Successful Workout Plan This Year

How To Create A Successful Workout Plan This Year

Many people in Mt. Airy are starting this year with fitness goals. People often start the year with big plans, but it doesn’t take long before those plans disintegrate. How do you create a workout plan that is successful and one that you’ll do consistently? It all starts by creating achievable goals. Unless you know where you’re going, you create a map of how to get there.

The goal must be important to you.

If you’re not emotionally invested in something, the chance of success drops dramatically. There are always bumps in the road and the emotional investment helps you make it through those hard times. Think about the mother who lifted a car off her child. That emotional investment boosted her adrenaline and made it happen. Without the sense of urgency, she never could have done it. While that’s a dramatic example, it’s true of all goals. If you don’t have an important reason for doing something, you put it off until last. Find your driving motivation.

Your plan should be specific and achievable.

If you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? Maybe you want to get fitter. What does that mean? Does it mean lower blood pressure or perhaps more endurance? Clearly define your goal. Is your goal achievable? If you want to be a foot taller or shorter, it won’t happen. While exercise can help you stand taller and maybe increase your height by an inch, you won’t grow taller. Make your goal achievable and specific.

Once you identify the goal, you have to create a plan with a timeline to reach it.

You should be able to identify how you’ll reach your goal and give yourself a timeline to accomplish it before you create a successful workout plan. If weight loss is your goal, identify how much you want to lose and create a timeline to do that, Be realistic. Losing 30 pounds in a month isn’t realistic but losing 30 pounds in three months is. Break down that goal into smaller increments. For weight loss, two pounds a week is excellent. Your goal could read, I want to lose two pounds a week by___. That blank will contain a date 15 weeks in the future.

  • Set a daily appointment to work out. When you exercise at the same time each day, it becomes a habit. You’ll be more likely to stick with the schedule and feel uncomfortable when you don’t.
  • Write down your workout plan and have it in front of you when you workout. It saves time at the gym and helps you track your workout. As it gets easier to do, increase the number of reps.
  • Always track your progress. Winners keep score. Tracking your success and workout provides a visual picture of that success. Like keeping score in video games, it makes the challenge more interesting.
  • The plan should match your fitness level. An excessively challenging plan can be discouraging and cause you to quit. If it’s too easy, you won’t achieve much and get bored. Both are reasons people quit.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

Best Foods To Eat After A Workout For Muscle Recovery

Best Foods To Eat After A Workout For Muscle Recovery

It’s easy to understand how a pre-workout snack can provide the fuel to keep you working out at peak performance. Besides satisfying hunger, how does a post-workout snack help? The best food for after a workout contains carbohydrates and protein. They provide the nutrients for muscle recovery and replenish the depleted glycogen. If you’re going to eat a meal soon after working out, make it a recovery meal. Otherwise, eat a snack as soon as you can after a workout.

Not every workout requires a snack.

If your exercise for the day is taking a walk, you probably don’t need a post-workout snack. If it’s a grueling HIIT workout have a snack. It’s all about intensity. An intense workout burns glycogen reserves and breaks down muscle tissue. The body needs protein to rebuild it. You don’t burn all your glycogen stores or destroy much muscle tissue unless the workout is intense.

Consider a smoothie or protein shake.

You can purchase commercial shakes but it can tug on your budget. They also aren’t always quality controlled so they contain impurities. Avoid those problems and make your own. Use milk or yogurt for the protein. If you’re lactose intolerant, use nut butter, almond, or other milk alternative. You can use Greek yogurt. Even though Greek yogurt is a dairy product, the fermentation made it more friendly for digestion. Add your favorite fruits and vegetables for an energizing smoothie.

Post-workout snacks should be simple and easy to transport.

If you’re working out at home, you have more choices. You don’t have to transport your post-workout snack. It can be an egg salad with lettuce and tomatoes on toast or Greek yogurt and berries. Don’t get the yogurt with berries added. It contains high amounts of sugar. Make your own. Top your yogurt with berries, nuts, bananas, and other fruit. Make a chicken or tuna salad roll-up and have it ready to eat when your workout ends.

  • You need approximately 20 to 40 grams of protein and 30 to 40 grams of carbs as soon after a workout as possible and at least within the first 60 minutes. Don’t forget to rehydrate. It’s also vital even if the session isn’t intense.
  • Spread peanut butter on a slice of apple for the perfect balanced snack. Carry a small container of crunchy or smooth peanut butter that only contains peanuts or peanuts and salt. Bring an apple and slice it when you’re ready for the snack.
  • Get creative. Mix honey, dark chocolate chips, and peanut butter with enough toasted oats to make it easy to roll in balls. Roll the balls in a coating of nuts or toasted oats. Let air dry or refrigerate. One or two balls make a good snack that boosts recovery.
  • Use leftovers from the night before to make your snack. A slice of chicken breast, some dressing and lettuce rolled in a slice of whole wheat bread provides the right materials to jump-start recovery.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

Best Snacks For An Energy Boost

Best Snacks For An Energy Boost

There are lots of snacks that give an energy boost, but the extra energy fades quickly and you’re often more tired than you were previously. If you’ve eaten a candy bar, donut, or other sweets for a quick fix, you’ll get just that, a quick, short-lived increase in your energy. You also may end up with the shakes. Here are a few treats that can keep you energized longer and are far healthier.

Pre-workout snacks are meant to boost energy and are healthy options.

About a half hour before your workout, eat a pre-workout snack that combines protein and carbohydrates. The carbs give you quick energy so you don’t hit the wall during the workout. The protein provides longer-lasting energy and aids recovery. One option is plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries or other fruit. Make sure the yogurt is full-fat and has no added sugar. Mash a banana in the yogurt before adding the berries to create a creamier snack. Toss on a few nuts for more protein.

Make a salad in a jar ahead for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.

Your salad in a jar can be leftovers from the previous night. It can contain a layer of vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, leafy greens, and chicken or beef from the day before. You can cut a hard-boiled egg into the mixture for extra protein. Top it with a light dressing of vinegar and oil. You can also pair the hard-boiled egg with a bowl of fresh fruit.

If you don’t have a refrigerator to store your food, consider homemade trail mix.

The trail mix and granola you often buy in the store are just candy that’s wearing a disguise. It’s often high in sugar and low in beneficial nutrients. Making trail mix is simple and you can store it in plastic bags in individual portions. Include ingredients like nuts, bits of dried fruit, seeds, and some delicacies like a few morsels of dark chocolate or some small pretzels. If you’re dieting and want more bulk, add air-popped popcorn.

  • You can buy protein bars or trail mix, but always read the label to make sure they don’t have a high sugar content. Ones sweetened with figs, dates, or other fruit rather than sugars are healthier. Look for a source of protein, like nuts or nut butter.
  • Have grab-and-go snacks prepared in the fridge and ready to eat. Veggies and dip, cubed melon, or fresh fruit combined with your favorite cheese make a good snack that’s always ready.
  • A bowl of cottage cheese topped with fresh fruit or unsweetened applesauce makes a quick and easy energizing treat. The cottage cheese provides protein, while the apples produce the quick energy.
  • Freeze half a banana on a popsicle stick and dip it in a small container of microwaved dark chocolate chips. It’s now a snack that’s a pick-me-up and tastes indulgent.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

Sneaky Ways To Lose Weight

Sneaky Ways To Lose Weight

We help people get fitter at Urban Athlete in Mt. Airy. We work on exercise and a healthy lifestyle that can build endurance, boost strength, and help clients lose weight if that’s their goal. Losing weight isn’t easy, but there are a few easy things you can do that will boost your progress. They’re simple but make a world of difference. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further from the store and walking. It won’t burn a lot of extra calories, but if you do it consistently, you’ll get fitter and lose extra pounds without extra effort.

Plan meals for the week and prepare them ahead.

Even though this trick may seem more difficult, it makes your life easier. Meal planning is a process where you plan a week’s worth of meals, create a shopping list, shop on one day, and cook everything for the week on another. Your planning allows you to use leftovers for other meals and cook several things in the oven at once. Pack the meals in the refrigerator or freezer so that during the week, all you have to do is heat and serve. It saves time and money, eliminates the need for fast food or junk food, and packing each meal in the appropriate serving size helps you stick with portion control.

Using a smaller plate makes your serving look bigger.

Several studies show that people eat less when they use smaller plates. It’s all about portion control. A serving of rice or potatoes looks smaller on a bigger plate than it does on a smaller one, even though it’s the same size. It tricks the brain into thinking you have more food.

Enjoy every minute of your meal and eat mindfully.

Slowing down your pace at every meal can help you lose extra pounds. If you’ve ever eaten in an upscale restaurant, you probably noticed it takes a lot of time to get through all the courses. Each one is appealing both to the eye and the taste buds. When dessert arrives, you’re often too full to eat. Taking your time and eating mindfully can help you eat less. As you slow down your meal, you give your stomach a chance to signal to the brain that it’s full. You’ll eat less without any effort.

About a half hour before a meal, drink a glass of water. The water fills you up and studies show it causes people to eat fewer calories at meals. If the water is ice cold, it also causes the body to burn extra calories to warm the body.

Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep can cause an imbalance in the hormones that control hunger. It causes the body to create too much ghrelin—the hunger hormone—and too little leptin—the satiety hormone.

Fill your main plate with mostly vegetables and fewer higher-calorie items. Start your meal with a large salad of leafy greens.

If you’re eating in a restaurant with large servings, eat half the meal and take home the other half for the next day’s meal.

Should I Be Taking Supplements To Workout?

Should I Be Taking Supplements To Workout?

The belief that you benefit from supplements before a workout has become a big debate. Most trainers and scientists agree that your workout is better with a pre-workout and post-workout snack, but they disagree on whether it should be whole foods or supplements. Is it better to eat cottage cheese and fruit with coffee before a workout or take a protein-caffeine-carbohydrate supplement? You’ll get more satisfaction from the former. It often costs less, too.

A protein supplement may be beneficial.

Seniors frequently don’t process protein efficiently. A protein supplement may offer some benefits. Be aware that protein and other workout supplements can be dangerous. Some contain contaminants that can affect your health. A new consumer protection group called the Clean Label Project tested 134 products for 130 unique toxins. Many protein powders contained toxins like cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury. The amount varied, but some were in significant amounts. Even supplements without toxins can be dangerous for people with certain health conditions or if taken in large amounts.

It may be more important to take a supplement after working out.

There is a reason for both pre and post-workout snacks. The post-workout snack helps boost recovery and helps build muscle tissue faster. Another testing group, NSF International, also tests protein supplements and allows ones that pass to bear, “Certified for Sports” on the label. A supplement might be the best choice if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to eat or pack a quick snack. Just make sure it’s certified.

Focus more on good nutrition and less on sports

You don’t need to take supplements if you focus on healthy eating, some people even create snacks specifically for pre-workout and post-workout. Real food is always better than taking a supplement. It offers nutrients you won’t get from a shake or powder, like phytonutrients and natural fiber. Besides being healthier, it’s far more satisfying. Pre and post-workout snacks you make can add to your daily intake of other nutrients, too.

  • If you take a supplement, check for the Clean Label Project certification or go to their website. Another testing organization label to look for is from the Consumer Labs.
  • Vegetarians may require supplements, but not necessarily protein supplements. B12 is the most difficult for vegetarians to include since it comes primarily from animal sources. Protein powders may also be a way to ensure vegans get all essential amino acids.
  • If your supplement is a protein bar, be aware that many are glorified candy bars. Many are high in calories. You’re better off eating yogurt and fruit, or an apple and peanut butter.
  • Sports drinks are beneficial if you workout at an intense level for over an hour or in high heat. Many of these drinks contain added sugar and add extra calories.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete