Sitting: The New Sugar

Posted: 585 days ago in Health

Sitting: The New SugarWhaaaat? Are you confused? Don’t be.

All of you know that sugar is not good for you. There is no upside. You should minimize your intake, though that can be difficult because it is hidden in so many things. Sitting should be approached with the same apprehensions.

The best advice I can give you, bar none, is to move more, sit less. And by move more, I don’t mean that you have to exercise! Of course, dedicating 5-7 hours each week to exercise is a beautiful thing, but if you sit all day, it is simply not enough.

Did you know: People who seldom sit, but never exercise, are generally far healthier than those who sit a lot, even if they exercise regularly! A.k.a. the moms of toddlers, teachers, and construction workers are healthier than commuters, and desk jockeys (even if the latter are avid movers).

Let me repeat: if you rarely sit but don’t exercise, you will quite likely be healthier than those who exercise regularly, but sit all day! This actually blows my mind, but it shouldn’t. Our bodies were designed for movement, and depend on it to keep our muscles, bones and organs healthy, and our minds sharp.

Don’t panic if you are one of the millions that sit for many hours each day! You have many opportunities for movement – you just have to take them.

  • Stand or walk with every phone call
  • Practice active sitting on an exercise ball
  • Walk to a colleague’s office instead of emailing them
  • Stand on the train
  • Walk on your lunch break
  • Set an alarm on your iPhone reminding yourself to move at least once an hour

I did a sugar elimination diet and, well, it was hell for a few weeks, but then I began to realize how good I felt without it. Minimizing how long you sit can be a similar process, but I promise, you will be healthier for it.

Move more, sit less. Period.

Get Fit. For Real This Time!

Posted: 925 days ago in Wellness

EIGHTWAYSTOGETFIT

I’ve been around many different gyms for many years.  I have observed so many different people doing so many different things to try to get in shape, and I’ve also observed quite a few things that I think ladies can learn from men.  I’ve done it all and seen it all, from Les Mills classes, to running a marathon, to week-long yoga retreats, to every fad along the way, and today I’m going to share with you my easy tips for truly getting in shape, in a way that’s sustainable. I hope you enjoy!

1

This is so simple, but it’s amazing how little I see it practiced.  Personally I do 7 simple weight exercises, then I’ll do maybe 15 minutes of cardio to get my heart rate up, 3 times a week.  So I’m in the gym for 30 minutes, 3 times a week, and that’s it.  If you like the sound of this and you’re having trouble coming up with specific exercises, try this seven minute workout.  That’s 14 standard exercises done without equipment hitting major muscle groups.  Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do other things which are good for you.  For example, I love long bike rides and rock climbing, and I’m a yoga teacher (more about yoga later), and I play community sports.  I also love taking long walks and hikes, especially when the weather is nice. Think of these things as extra credit for fun, not what you actually do to keep in shape.  When I’m taking a nice long walk on a nice fall day, that’s where I want to be more than anywhere else at that time.  Healthy habits like this are great!  They just don’t replace a standard routine like in the link above if you’re trying to get fit.

2

Sorry to single you out ladies, but this is the biggest difference I have observed between women and men.  A lot of women (and some men) seem to turn their workout into social hour, with hours of discussions and gossip and catching up.  There is nothing wrong with catching up with friends, but don’t do it on your fitness time.  Similarly, don’t rely on some TV show to get you through.  TVs in gyms are one of the worst inventions ever, not only do they distract you from feeling what’s happening in your body, but you shouldn’t be there long enough to watch anyway.  Remember you’re there for 30 minutes, 3 times a week.  Do it with no distractions, and no reliance on others.  The only thing worse than not working out is turning a workout into a waste of time.

3

This is another one aimed mainly at the ladies (sorry!) but I’ve found you’re usually the most guilty.  I’ve seen classes based hanging from ceilings, hitting fitness balls with drumsticks (seriously), jumping on trampolines, yoga poses on surfboards, and seemingly thousands of others. To make matters worse this stuff is usually expensive!  If you have so much fun doing a yoga pose on a surfboard that you’d rather pay to be there than be with your friends and family, then go ahead and do it.  But, remember this is NOT your fitness time, this is your chosen fun time. Your fitness time is 30 minutes, 3 times a week, and these fad classes do not replace that.  These fads are done in addition to fitness time if you find it to be that much fun.  Further they may be nowhere near as good for you as advertised.  Subway restaurant is a great example of claiming to be healthy through advertising, while the truth is far from it.  Remember, seeing marketing for something doesn’t mean it’s good or bad for you.  Marketing only means someone, somewhere is trying to make money.

4

I promise this is the last one aimed primarily at the ladies!  Perhaps this is a shock to some of you, but you do not need exercise classes.  Zumba may be really popular right now, but believe it or not the human race survived just fine without it for many years.  If you need an exercise class to be motivated, then my recommendation would be to work with a life coach to become motivated again, not to go to more classes.  If you are reading all this and still insist that your life would not be complete without exercise classes, then go for it but remember they are your fun time, not your fitness time.  You still need 30 minutes, 3 times per week on your own IN ADDITION to these classes, if you choose to do them.  And remember there are always choices you can make, for example a bike ride outside in the fresh air instead of a stationary bicycle in a hot, sweaty room sounds like a wonderful choice to me.

5

Today’s yoga classes often are missing the entire point.  This is the result of our culture rubbing off on yoga, instead of the other way around. Yoga practiced correctly is great for you, but you aren’t there for a workout, you are there for your mind.  Physical benefits will come as a side effect, but not as the primary reason you’re there.  Maybe this is tough to grasp by just reading, which is why I always recommend you at least give it a try.  Any class which stresses only the physical part is not yoga, it’s an exercise class, and remember we don’t need exercise classes.  If you are going to attend a yoga class then you should leave feeling both relaxed and energized, not dehydrated or zapped.  (If you’re reading this wondering how you can feel both relaxed and energized at the same time, then you need to try yoga!) Yoga, practiced properly, will teach you how to listen to your body, how to not push yourself too hard, and how to relax.  Long-term, yoga will teach you how to avoid judgement of others and how to make your self-talk better, so I really do recommend you take 1 or 2 classes per week, but stay away from any fad class trying to mix yoga with something else to make it more interesting.  Yoga practiced properly creates awareness and change in you, and nothing in your world is more interesting than that.

Bonus!  What you didn’t know about yoga

Yoga was “invented” thousands of years ago in India because men would sit and meditate for 8 hours per day and get uncomfortable after awhile, so they created poses to help them sit for longer.  Naturally, the Western world ignored the 99% which included sitting and meditating, took the 1% that didn’t, and turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry with rock star teachers, saunas as yoga rooms, sex scandals, $200 yoga outfits, and millions of facebook profile pictures.  Be aware of this the next time you see a teacher turning yoga into acrobatics, encouraging you to push yourself the whole time, trying to sell you very expensive clothing, etc..  If you really love your specialized class so much that it beats time with friends and family, and you believe you can avoid injury, then I guess go ahead and do it.  Just remember this doesn’t replace your fitness time, it doesn’t even count as yoga time as the mental benefits are lost when you’re pushing so hard physically and/or straying from a traditional practice.

6

Nothing will ever derail you faster than an injury.  If you workout nonstop for 2 weeks and then you’re injured for one week, you’ll be in worse shape than a person who worked out much easier for 3 weeks straight.  So, don’t ever push too hard.  I see this happen a lot in exercise and physical-based yoga classes, so be always aware.  Similarly, if you take a boot camp class that leaves you sore for 3 days, then what is the benefit?  You’re better off doing 3 easier workouts than one hard one, no matter how hard you worked on the one.  I discovered this myself when I ran a marathon, sure it’s cool to say I did a marathon but the 3 weeks of recovery left me in worse shape afterward than if I hadn’t run it.   Anything which is so strenuous that the soreness keeps you from doing things later in the week is often not worth doing, and it likely leads to injuries down the road.  Injuries often occur in these super “hard’ classes, and these fad classes, so be aware of that too.

7

Do not be one of those people who rewards a great workout with some enormous meal.  Unless you’re an Olympic swimmer, you are likely burning 300 calories or less in a workout.  Make it super-strenuous and you might get up to 400. That is contained in one helping of barbecue SAUCE at some restaurants, not even counting the meal.  You will never out-exercise a bad diet, so never go down this path.  Create a healthy diet and things will change for you way more quickly than anything you do in the gym, healthy living always starts in the kitchen.  Maybe I’ll do another column in the future based on simple healthy dieting, but for purposes here just remember you cannot out-exercise a bad diet.

8

Whether you’re slightly sick, slightly hungover, stressed at work, stressed at home, there are no excuses good enough to avoid a workout.  The link above is a workout that can be done anywhere, including a hotel room, or next to your oven while it’s preheating.  As long as you’re not injured, you’re good to go.  If President and Michelle Obama can stay in shape with all they do, then so can you.  You have time, and you are going to be motivated as soon as you start to see results.  Make your schedule and stick to it, no excuses.

As a summary: create a good routine, do it for 30 minutes 3 times a week with no excuses, keep a good diet, don’t overdo it so you get injured, and don’t pay attention to advertising and/or fads. Add in yoga for your mind if you’d like. Anything else you include is only because you find it fun, not because it replaces this 30 minute routine.

David Kravitz

About David Kravitz

David is a life coach, yoga instructor, PhD Mathematician, software engineer, world traveler, daily blogger, salsa dancer, survivor, and an all-around nice guy. As a life coach, David works with clients looking to reboot their life. His favorite kind of client, regardless of shape or size, is someone who embraces the challenge of re-building the world they want to live in, and re-creating how they look at life. According to David, those people discover a passion that unleashes their self-worth, better job satisfaction, and stronger relationships. Namaste!

Off The Grid Mentality

Posted: 981 days ago in Lifestyle

goneoffgrid-e1411041894501 copyIn this high-tech world we live in, especially in a high-tech business like blogging, it becomes really difficult to disconnect.

It was only just a decade or two ago when you could go on vacation and still be unreachable. No cell phone, laptop, or fax machine. You left a number to the hotel with someone at home in case of an emergency, and that was the last you communicated with home until you arrived back.

These days, isn’t it great that we can work from anywhere? We can telecommute. We are reachable 24/7!

Or is it great??

Most of us are on this hamster wheel of productivity. We hit the ground running, and fall over exhausted at the end of the night — It’s not a sustainable state. Ideally, we’d practice a little of this everyday but that doesn’t discount the need for an extended period of rest and relaxation.

It’s not a badge of honor to say that you haven’t taken a day off in 10 years. Don’t get me wrong, though; it’s great to be a ‘company man’ or ‘woman’ — to an extent. No one ever says on their deathbed that they wish they had put more time in at the office. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They say that they wished they had spent more time with the ones they loved.

During our “prime time,” when we are entrenched in the business of making a living, or organizing the lives of our family members at home, it is absolutely wonderful to be fully reachable. However, it’s during our “playtime” that I think it’s critical to be virtually unreachable.

Rest and rejuvenation are crucial to maintaining high levels of productivity.

So, if we always have our contacts and emails within an arm’s reach, might we not be as well-replenished as we think? Without the distraction that electronic communication, email, texts, and phone calls bring, we create head space to appreciate that which we have come to see and experience for ourselves. It also helps us to communicate with ourselves, and each other without distraction.

In my family, we look at our calendar around the New Year and schedule our “playtime” in the form of family and couple vacations. In ink. So 2-4 times a year, we go off the grid. I leave my emergency contact info with my family and office, but encourage them not to call!

Because truly, if my house burns down, I’m going to need to be rested and rejuvenated to deal with that when I come home.

So if you’re taking the time and money to plan a vacation, then I applaud you. Just make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Don’t take your busy life with you, because it does no good to live your busy life remotely. Frankly, it’s just a change of venue and probably more difficult, a.k.a. all of the stress and none of the conveniences.

Wishing you much rest and relaxation, OFF the grid!

The Dirty Dozen

Posted: 1009 days ago in Wellness

dirtydozendivider2Every time I’m in the grocery store, my hand wavers between the organic strawberries and conventionally grown (a.k.a. full of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers = poison).

I know we’ve all been reminded a million+one times that organic is better, but all this talk about organic can stress a frugal girl out! I’ll try to make it easy for you. If your budget only allows for certain things, try to buy these “dirty dozen” foods organically, and then do the best that you can with the rest. These “dirty dozen” produce items are found to have the highest levels of harmful chemicals and should be avoided if not purchased organically.

These “dirty dozen” produce items are found to have the highest levels of harmful chemicals and should be avoided if not purchased organically.First and foremost – in my house, the happy medium for produce not purchased organically, is what I grow in my garden. Growing your own produce is by far the cheapest source of organic dirty dozen foods. If you’re in an apartment or don’t have land, there’s always container-gardening. You typically won’t have as big of a garden as if you planted one in your back yard, but it will do the trick. My advice is to choose a few things you will eat a lot of, i.e. tomatoes, spinach, and cucumbers – and focus on those. This will help keep your back deck from turning into an Amazonia.

Second, there are co-ops where you can “rent” land for a small fee to plant your own garden. These can be difficult to locate, so search online and ask around in your local community.

Third, you can stake out local farmers markets. These usually happen once or twice a week, so stock up on your favorites, clean, and freeze if need be.

Fourth, there is something called Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA). With a CSA, individuals can invest upfront in local farms and farmers, and in return, they get a box of fruits/veggies every week. It’s a great way to try produce that you wouldn’t normally try because it shows up on your doorstep (and most of the time, it comes with recipes!). Depending on the CSA you join, there are ¼ share, ½ share, or whole share options (each varying by investment cost).

Lastly, but certainly not least, there are good frozen options out there. Certain brands are better than others, but typically, the produce is ‘fresh frozen’. This option is great in the non-growing season so you don’t have to go without your favorite foods if you don’t want to. Plus, frozen organic is really reasonably priced.

Good luck to you all in your journey to stay ‘clean’!

Let The Sun Shine

Posted: 1016 days ago in Lifestyle

sun-shine

What is it with all the people on the beach wearing Hazmat suits, huddling under umbrellas?

I’m sure they also have sunscreen on with SPF 200, or something. Puhhh-lease people! These folks are more afraid of getting a little sun shine than they are of nuclear contamination.

I get it: overexposure to the sun is not a good thing. It can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. And since we’ve pretty much destroyed our ozone layer, rays today are quite likely more damaging than when us Gen X’ers were kids.

let the sun shineHowever, there is a happy medium. 15-minutes or so of UNPROTECTED sun exposure on a daily basis gives our bodies a nice, healthy dose of Vitamin D. In our practice, we see waaaaaaay more issues with Vitamin D deficiency than we do with sun overexposure. (Fatigue, muscle weakness, cramping, joint pain, chronic pain, weight gain, depression….just to name a few Vitamin D deficiency symptoms).

Additionally, have you read the ingredients on some of those sunscreens? We might be minimizing harmful rays, but our bodies are absorbing all of those chemicals, which I can only believe has its own set of consequences, yet to be determined.

What’s a girl to do? Definitely use some good-quality, non-toxic sounding sunscreen on a regular basis. If you are dashing around town, maybe forgo it to get some Vitamin D, if you are so inclined. For a day at the beach? Definitely wear it for most of the day. I change it up with a wide-brimmed hat occasionally – as much for style as function! – and reading under the umbrella when I need a break. I also visit my dermatologist once or twice a year for full-body scans, and you should too.

Bottom line is, be reasonable. Avoid getting burned, and try not to look like leather at the end of the summer.

But a little healthy glow? Go for it!

In the Spirit of Giving

Posted: 1249 days ago in Lifestyle

459700697I love Christmas, and I love presents, both giving and getting. 

But what I love most is doing a good deed for someone less fortunate.  We have pet charities that we give to regularly, but each year around this time my family comes together to do something a little extra-special.

Last year we put cash in a bunch of envelopes and handed them out to random strangers around town…that was really fun!

The prior year, our daughters ‘adopted’ needy girls their ages and went on a shopping spree for them.

This year, we became aware of several families in our own community that were struggling, and we decided to do something about it. Our daughters are teens, and are fully aware that they have it pretty darn good.  What they – and we – weren’t so aware is that while they were pondering what color North Face fleeces they wanted for Christmas, some of their classmates were hoping they’d have a place to live or food to eat that day. 

Of course we know that poverty exists, but we tend to think it’s ‘someplace else’. When that someplace is on your street or in your classroom, it becomes way more uncomfortable, doesn’t it? 

We told the girls our intentions, and asked them to step up with their own hard-earned money. We didn’t tell them how much they had to contribute, but that they should consider that while that $20 they netted dog-walking that day could get them a pretty manicure or new shirt at the mall, it might mean much, much more to someone who might not eat that day.

I expected a little push-back – after all, when you’re a kid and working only a few hours a week for minimum wage, it must be hard to turn that over.  They didn’t blink an eye. After a little whispering back and forth, they came up with a generous amount to contribute.

We were shocked, happy and proud.

I’d like to think that each one of you will perform a little –or big – act of kindness for someone else in honor of the season that brings many of us so much abundance. Can you?  Will you?

My advice is to find people in your community that are connected, be it a guidance counselor at your local school, or the local food drive leader. Let them tell you who is struggling, and needs the support. When it comes to the actual donation, a lot of people can feel prideful about accepting a handout, so I suggest making it an anonymous donation, in the form of a widely used gift card (groceries, gas, visa, etc.). In our case, I handed the gift cards to our school’s guidance counselor and asked that he see that they go to a good home. If you can’t give of your material wealth, you can certainly give of your time and talents, and there is definitely no reason that you can’t give a warm smile or compliment.

It’s as easy as that.

If you are full of good intentions but never seem to get around to it, perhaps this will give you the nudge you need.  Nudge, nudge my friends. You never know how far reaching something kind you do today will impact the life of someone tomorrow.

Wishing all of you the happiest and healthiest of Holidays!

The Holiday Hangover

Posted: 1270 days ago in Lifestyle

holidayhangoverAre you one of those people that wake up on January 1st and just cringe? 

You think of all the times you skipped dinner in place of peppermint bark; all the parties; the gifts; your poor bank account; all the YOU time you forwent; your untouched gym membership – what the hell happened?

How many people do you know that drag themselves across the finish line of the New Year looking like something that the cat dragged in? It was glorious, but now, you’re hungover. Sure the good times were unforgettable, but you barely resemble yourself.

What’s a girl to do?

There is a reason for the season, people, and if you set yourself up for success, you might just end up enjoying it. Here are a few things that you can do to get through the next few weeks like a champ:

1. Stock your fridge and freezer with some go-to meals so you don’t end up skipping meals or eating junk food while you run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. I’m heading to www.letsdish.com, and then to Trader Joe’s for some easy-access meals and snacks. I suggest you do the same!

2. RIGHT NOW, pull out your December calendar and mark off one full day each week (in pen) that you won’t take on any commitments beyond your regularly scheduled (and already busy enough) day. I don’t care if Rachel Ray invites you to a cookie exchange, you must say no. If you don’t schedule in some downtime, you won’t get any, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a nervous breakdown.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, forgo your normal exercise routine. In fact, if you just tend to fit exercise in where you can in your regular schedule, make sure that you have a plan for exactly what you will do, when and where you will do it, lest it fall by the wayside.

4. Consider having a (potentially difficult, but ultimately anxiety-relieving) conversation with your family and friends about rethinking your gift-giving. My sister-in-law and I both happily agreed upon one family gift each, instead of 4 or 5 individual gifts. And my girlfriends and I head out for a great meal, and we may or may not do one grab-bag gift each – though we nixed that last year and no one minded.

5. Be prepared to give something up for your sanity. Must you decorate every room in your house to the nth degree, host the neighborhood and work holiday parties, AND send out 500 cards with the most perfect family picture, ever? Pick the traditions that give you the most pleasure, and do them for the shear joy of it, not because it’s expected of you.

As for me, I’ll be decorating our tree with ornaments from our travels, shopping for gifts alongside my family for a less-fortunate family that we’ll adopt, and looking forward to that dinner with the girls. On Christmas morning, we’ll chill with our daughters in front of the fire and open gifts.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? 

Wishing you the holiday season of your dreams!

Are You an Overthinker?

Posted: 1291 days ago in Lifestyle

overthinkerA neighbor’s boyfriend broke up with her before he ever asked her out.

Huh?

Let me explain….

He was quite smitten with her, and she with him, but he’d be going off to college in a year.

They’re crazy about each other, but for the first 9 months of their relationship, neither could fully enjoy the others company because, he’d be leaving.  They finally surrendered to the cause, and now, more than a year later, they are happy as clams and coping with the distance quite well.  So what was all the drama about? 

They were overthinking.

In other words, over-thinkers are worrywarts.  Is this you?  Are you missing out on wonderful moments because you are worried about what may come next? Or perhaps you are ruminating over decisions you’ve made and second-guessing them, over and over again?

Bah! Be present. One of my favorite quotes about this:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.” – Lao Tzu

Old Lao had it right, didn’t he?  My prayers and wishes these days are not for a specific outcome, but for a peaceful heart.  I am not always successful, but like most of us, am a work in progress.  What are you overthinking?  What are you missing because you are anxious or depressed?

I wish you peace in your process.

You Can Have it All, but Should You?

Posted: 1302 days ago in Lifestyle

youcanhaveitallI love French fries. 

They are the perfect junk food indulgence: a hot, salty, crispy, bite-sized piece of love. But clearly, that’s not enough for some people, because it seems the French fry is now only a delivery system for bacon, cheese and sour cream. Or chili and cheese. Or brown gravy. Hell, maybe everything I just mentioned!

You CAN have it all, but SHOULD YOU have it all at the same time? 

I was reminded of a conversation I had long ago with one of my favorite authors, Iris Krasnow. She spoke to the mom’s group I was leading about her awesome book, “Surrendering to Motherhood”  (If you haven’t read it, you should).

At the time, all four of her kids were under the age of five, and she was trying to juggle motherhood with being a Washington Post journalist, author, and wife. Her struggle came from feeling like she wasn’t doing a very good job at any of it.

She and I had a short chat about my struggles with the same, and this is what she wrote in my book: “You CAN have it all, Tania, just not at the same time.”  It was like I needed permission from someone else to put a few non-critical things – like my career – on the back burner so that I could focus on raising my girls. And in those twelve little words, she gave me that.

It’s something that I took to heart then, and still take to heart to this day. I wish all mothers out there who are going through similar struggles, the same peace of mind.

Iris helped me realize that you have to prioritize things in your life.  Not everything can get your full attention, so you’ll need to decide for yourself where you’d like most of your energies to go at a given moment, day, or year.  So even though I like cheese, sour cream and gravy, just like I love my kids, my husband, my work and my ‘me’ time – I think it’s prudent to choose your poison along with your priorities.

Say “Please” and “Thank You,” Please!

Posted: 1304 days ago in Lifestyle

saypleaseandthankyouAre you the person who didn’t hold the door for me when I was juggling a toddler in my arms, a baby in a carriage and a much-needed cup of coffee? I hope not, because I wanted to punch you.

I am not your Mama, but I do ask that you hold the door for someone who needs it, thank me if I hold a door for you, and say please if you want me to pass the pepper.

Duh…I know, that you know, that you SHOULD practice those little niceties… but do you?

And if you do, do you do it for strangers, but not for your loved ones? Or vice versa?

My husband likes to drinks a protein shake every morning, and I like to make it for him. Mostly. But every single day, when I bring it to him in his home office he says, “Thank you, sweetheart”.  And every single day, even if I may have grumbled to myself, I feel so appreciated. I know I will make him that shake every day, for the rest of our lives.

Don’t underestimate what a little eye contact, kind word, or social grace can do to make someone’s day. Try to make it a point to say “Good Morning” to the person who checks you into the gym each day. Thank the 7/11 cashier who rings up your coffee each morning, or let the mother with the squirming toddler use the bathroom first.

So thank YOU, dear readers, for giving my ramblings space in your head.

I truly do appreciate you!

Something so little, yet it can mean so much to someone else!