Spring Clean Your Diet

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Spring is in the air, and with it comes thoughts of spring cleaning. Have you ever thought about spring cleaning your diet? Here are some simple spring cleaning tips specifically for your kitchen, refrigerator, pantry, and mind that can help you improve your nutrition and even lose weight.

First (and probably obviously), clean up and declutter your whole kitchen space. Interestingly, keeping countertops, cupboards, pantries, refrigerators, and all other kitchen space clean and tidy helps us make better food choices! One fascinating study looked at 2 groups of stressed out women. The group of women placed in a cluttered and dirty kitchen ate twice as many chocolate chip cookies as the group placed in a clean and tidy kitchen.  

Secondly, spring clean your refrigerator and pantry by intentionally arranging what items you see first. We are actually 30% more likely to eat what we see first — WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU EAT! Work on reorganizing your food so that healthier food choices (like nuts or dried fruit) are the first ones you see. Intentionally put the less healthy ones (like cookies or chips) down low or up high and out of site. Regarding your refrigerator, store healthy fruits and vegetables at eye level rather than down low hidden in the produce drawer. If at all possible, wash and prep these foods as soon as you get home from the grocery store. Store them in clear containers where you will see them first.

Finally, consider some spring cleaning for your mind. Assess the tone of your self-talk, especially related to your health status and health goals. Is it often or always negative when you’ve fallen off track? Or do you show compassion toward yourself? Do you stop the “negativity train” by telling yourself it’s ok and that you’ll can get back on track quickly? Those who are compassionate toward themselves when feelings of failure come tend to get back on track more quickly and have greater success with weight loss.

In summary:

  1. Perform a good deep clean of your whole kitchen space
  2. Rearrange what you see first behind each food storage door
  3. Practice a little compassion versus negativity with yourself

Cheers to a great and healthy spring!


Article By: Registered Dietitian, Katie Sonnek


 

Where is HEALTH to be Found in a Weight Focused Culture?

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A heart-felt message from a dietitian to all weight-conscious people and a society that judges them.

There is a weight that many among us carry, and I’m not talking about the numerical value on the bathroom scale. For the past 12 years, my career as a Registered Dietitian has provided me a window into exploring this weight carried by many. Most people that carry it have been told they are overweight or obese. Some are of normal weight, but feel overweight from the saturation of daily living in our weight-focused culture. This weight is difficult to name, but I believe it is a deep-rooted sense of judgement for their outward appearance (rather than inner qualities). It’s extremely heavy to carry because of troublesome things like guilt, shame, embarrassment, loneliness, or even anger. In all honesty there are few things in my professional life that burden me the way this issue does. I’d like to say a few words to those on each side of this issue; to both the ones carrying the weight, and those around them who have the power to either add to or lighten their load.

To the Weight Conscious
Whether you end up sitting across the table from me for a consultation or not, please know I am whole-heartedly on your team. I understand that many of you feel as though you’ve tried and failed too many times, and it’s painful to confront. I’ve seen the frustration and agony as you recount your story to me. You’ve lost hope with each failed attempt, which may leave you wondering what’s the use in trying again. Additionally, many among you say, “I know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I’m just not doing it.” This may, in part, be true! Behavior change is incredibly challenging, especially when it involves food! To you all, I say, that’s why I’m here. Sometimes my job is to remind you of what you already know, AND THEN help you translate that knowledge into successful behavior change. That’s why I chose this profession. I’m a nutrition expert and a behavior change expert. I’m not the food police. I’m not going to take away foods you love and tell you not to ever eat them again. I’m not going to suggest you need to weigh what the textbook chart says a person of your height and gender “should” weigh. I will, however, come alongside you with passion. I’m passionate about sharing my nutrition and health knowledge, and I’m passionate about helping you discover for yourself what YOUR HEALTHY looks like. Maybe it’s just one small step, but everyone can find that one step forward. I’d be honored to help.

To the Society that Judges
According to Dictionary.com the verb “to judge” means to decide upon critically. It saddens me to know that so many people have felt judged according to their weight.   I assume this criticalness comes from a pervasive (yet erroneous) belief that obesity is caused by overeating, lack of self-control, and being sedentary. False. Obesity is so much more complex than that. In reality, the World Health Organization, along with National and International medical and scientific societies, now recognize obesity as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors. The complexities of the disease of obesity include biological changes that promote weight gain, genetic predispositions, and multiple other factors that are too vast to flesh out in this space. Suffice it to say, we can’t possibly know all the factors contributing to someone’s weight struggles just by looking at them. Rather than being a society that judges, could we all encourage each other along on our individual journeys to better health?


Article By: Register Dietitian, Katie Sonnek

How Massage Therapy Benefits Workout Recovery

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For anyone who participates in regular physical activity, massage therapy is an excellent addition to one’s regimen. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, “individuals who participate in exercise and athletic programs who seek enhanced performance, improved conditioning, faster recovery, injury prevention, and assistance in maintaining peek fitness can benefit from massage therapy”. Let’s look at the ways in which massage aids these goals.

Increases Circulation
Massage therapy increases blood flow. Blood is what carries oxygen and other vital nutrients acquired from eating a healthy diet to the muscles.When muscles become too constricted, they are not able to receive proper nourishment from the blood, and are therefore not able to function or heal properly. Massage helps bring blood to the entire body.

Improves Range of Motion and Flexibility
Working out, by nature, increases muscle tension, forming adhesions (knots) that cause muscles, facia, and other tissues to stick together. This can lead to reduced flexibility and range of motion, meaning your body is not able to move properly, increasing the chance of an injury. Massage manually manipulates and stretches muscles, promoting and maintaining their elasticity and flexibility.

Reduces Inflammation, Decreases Pain, Helps Build Muscle
Vigorous exercise causes tiny tears in muscle fibers. As the body gets to work repairing the tissues, inflammation occurs. According to a study by The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, massage reduces cytokines, which cause inflammation in the body. The study also found that massage stimulates “mitochondrial biogenesis”, or the production of mitochondria. These are tiny “powerhouses” located inside cells that convert glucose into energy necessary for cell function and muscle repair. In other words, massage not only facilitates similar pain relief as taking an NSAID (i.e. aspirin, ibuprofen), it is actually good for your muscles in a way that anti-inflammatory drugs are not.

Promotes Relaxation, Improves Sleep
Athletic performance, whether competing in a race, playing a sport, or participating in a group exercise class, is about more than just physical strength. Being able to have mental focus and clarity can help elevate performance and improve results while training. Massage activates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing serotonin and dopamine levels go up and cortisol levels to go down. The leveling out of these chemicals leads to a deeper sleep, which is when your body is able to repair and heal its own tissues.

In conclusion, whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or just embarking on your road to fitness, massage therapy is one tool you can add to your exercise routine to help you train longer and harder, recover more quickly, and get the most out of each workout.


Article By: Spa Ridge Massage Therapist, Shelby Whitmore 

Ridge Round-Up | Top Recommended Partner Exercises by Ridge Trainers

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Want to workout with a friend, and not in a way that means you show up at the gym at the same time, see each other around, and then make an exit together?  We polled our Fitness Department and asked what two person exercises they recommend for the best results!


Top Recommended Partner Exercises

Partner Hamstring Curls:  Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer, Sean Beckett
This exercise helps to tighten and strengthen the hamstrings, especially for those people who have desk jobs or spend a lot of time sitting.  With one partner kneeling, the other partner leverages them by their feet.  The kneeled partner then moves straight out and down to do a push-up, then pulls themselves back to the kneeling position in one fluid movement.
(reference video)

Standing-Kneeling Medicine Ball Drill:  Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer, Erin Lyons
One of my favorite partner exercises is a tall kneeling medicine ball partner catch/slam. One person is kneeling on the ground, facing their partner, who is standing. The person standing throws the medicine ball at their partner, who catches it quickly overhead and slams it down on the ground, back to their partner. It is great anterior core work and the focus should be on resisting spinal extension.
(reference video)

Partner Push-Ups:  Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer & Wellness Coach, Leah Vogel
In plank position, go head to head with your partner (your heads should be about a foot apart) perform one push-up and then low-five your partner (your right hand to their right hand).  Perform another push-up followed by another low-five (your left hand to their left hand).  Try to get 8-20 push-ups without stopping.  Push-ups may be done from your toes or your knees.
(reference video)

Medicine Ball Partner Rotational Throws:  Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer, Dewey Peacock
This exercise is great for building your ability to powerfully rotate your body, which is beneficial in athletic skills requiring quick changes in direction, or hitting and throwing.  With your feet shoulder width apart, stand with a partner approximately 10 ft. away.  Explosively rotate through your core and throw the medicine ball to your partner.  Be sure to maintain a tight core and stable lower body throughout the rotation.  Have your partner return the medicine ball in the same motion and repeat for 10-15 times per side.
(reference video)

Band Sprints & Jumps:  Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer, Jen White
Build up your leg strength and power with this exercise that helps increase speed, endurance, and agility.  With a resistance band, one partner has the band around their waist at a comfortable level facing away, while the other pulls back on the band to keep the band tension.  While the front partner runs forward quickly with long strides, the back partner pulls back while following.
(reference video)


 

Ridge Round-Up | Ridge Trainers Top App Recommendations for Fitness

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It’s 2017 and maybe you’ve decided that this year is a YOU Year. Maybe you’ve imagined what this year will look like if you put your health as a priority and committed to yourself. But maybe you are also not quite sure where to start. With today’s technology and easy access to information, there are tons of apps with multiple features that may or may not work with your fitness trackers, lifestyle, or goals.

With that in mind, we polled our Ridge Fitness Staff and asked what apps they recommend for getting started in the New Year and tracking those fitness goals! All of these apps are available in the iOS App Store or GooglePlay. Some are free, some are not, but all are beneficial in one way or another.


Top App Recommendations to Get Started

MyZone: Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer, Jen White
“With the MYZONE app I can follow my clients with their workouts and their workout intensity. I can give MEP goals and it’s an easy way for me to track what they are doing and keep them accountable. The MYZONE app is a game changer.”

Lose It: Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer, Leah Vogel
“I really like the Lose It app. It is easy to find foods for food tracking, tracks weight and provides nice, easy to read graphics. It also displays macronutrient information nicely.”

Strava: Recommended by Ridge Personal Trainer, Dewey Peacock
“For cyclists and runners who like to compare to others in the community, this app is great. Has a nice social aspect and also has virtual racing – which is a great feature. The app is also useful as a good training log.”

Headspace: Recommended by Ridge Group Fitness Instructor, Kaylee Johnson
“I love to use the Headspace app after my workout in the stretching area upstairs. It’s quiet in there and dark so a perfect place to practice meditation. It helps reset if Am still in the ‘workout’ mode or it helps relax and re-energize if I am tired from my workout. The headspace app makes me take a moment for myself, to decompress and refocus. Our minds are in a constant ‘go’ mode, so taking the time for myself for just 10 minutes a day makes a huge difference in my energy, motivation and happiness.”

MyFitness Pal: Recommended by Registered Dietitian, Katie Sonnek
“MyFitnessPal is among the most popular FREE apps for food and activity tracking.  Its large, searchable food database enables users to easily estimate and compare their daily intake of total calories, protein, carbohydrate, etc. to suggested goals.  Its memory of the foods (and exercise) you like most means that logging gets easier the more you do it, so I encourage anyone to try it out!  I promise loads of valuable discovery.”


 

The Importance of Fitness Tracking

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Tracking fitness has become exceedingly popular. With the advancement of technology it’s become easier, more rewarding, and fun to use wearable physical activity monitors to track fitness. There are multiple monitors available such as FitBit, Jaw Bone, Apple Watch, and MyZone for users to choose from (just to name a few).

So, why would anyone want to use one of these monitors? For starters, most are user friendly and provide a lot of really great and useful data. For example, most wearable monitors provide some indication of total caloric expenditure (how much energy you’re using up from exercise), exercise time, real time heart rate, and a history of measured exercise efforts. In addition, most also include a biometric page, either on the web or in an app, that allows users to enter information such as age, height, and weight for tracking purposes. After all, to set and work towards a goal, you need to know where you’re starting!

For example, our MyZone physical activity monitor measures physical activity (in or outside the club) by tracking expended calories, heart rate, exercise time, perceived effort as a percentage of heart rate max, and summarizes workouts with easy to view graphs and data. The MyZone system comes with an app that helps keep you accountable, tracks all of your workouts, and provides a social platform for you to make it fun with friends. Moreover, unique to MyZone are MyZone Exercise Points or MEPs. Basically, MyZone rewards users with MEPs for every minute spent in a certain heart rate zone!! This, along with the social platform and other features make MyZone a very easy to use, fun, and rewarding monitor to utilize for fitness endeavors.

Whatever you choose, wearable physical activity monitors are an awesome tools to help you be successful on your fitness journey. They can objectively show you how hard you’re actually working and keep it fun at the same time. If you would like to know more about our MyZone physical activity monitor, you can contact our Fitness Director, Eddie Davila at eddie @ridgeathletic.com or by calling the Ridge at (406) 586-1737.


Article By Ridge Fitness Director, Eddie Davila

Fitness Matters | The Importance of Investing in Your Health

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It’s true. Everything is relative, including the price of getting healthy. Gym memberships, personal training, child care, whatever your fitness regimen requires, it definitely adds up. Or does it?

The average cable and internet bill is $135.00 a month. The average person spends $23.00 a week on coffee. The average cost of a heart attack is $38,501. This should put whatever you spent on your health and fitness this month in a little better context. I’m not saying it should cost a fortune to be healthy, but to put it bluntly, if you spend a $100 then you are going to have a $100 body.

Investing in your future-self is easily one the best things you can do with your time on a daily basis, and worth every penny. If or when cost becomes an issue, be smart with your spending. Hire a trainer once a month to write out four weeks of workouts. Look into less expenseve training options such as small group training or group fitness classes. And finally hold yourself accountable – leave your phone in the car, stop talking, and get after it on your own, for free!

Remember, if you think your gym bill is steep wait until you see your medical bill in a few years. Relativity is a mother, but getting ahead of the game now can save you the stress on your health later.

Article By: Sean Beckett, ACSM-CPT

Guest Blog on Mindful and Merry Holiday Tips

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As your inbox floods with holiday special offers and your to-do list grows, finding a sense of balance amidst it all can be challenging, to say the least. Scurrying between work, school performances, errands, and after-school activities while driving on snow-covered roads isn’t exactly calming. But believe it or not, it can be when we take it one step at a time.

When we are present for each moment, life seems to slow down and become more enjoyable. Here are a few tips to bring mindfulness into your holiday season.

  • Do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is actually less efficient and builds stress and anxiety. The results reflect our efforts. Focus your effort on the task at hand, such as writing one greeting card at a time. Add in a sense of gratitude for bonus good juju – gratitude for the individual to whom you are writing the card and the role they play in your life. Mindfully ticking one item at a time from the to-do list is more productive, efficient and enjoyable.
  • Perform random acts of kindness. Kindness decreases depression, reduces anxiety, boosts oxytocin, makes us feel more connected, and even lowers blood pressure. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Buy gifts for a family in need. Shovel the neighbor’s driveway. A kind act doesn’t have to be big to be effective.
  • Let go of judgment and expectations. It makes life much less stressful. So the cookies or holiday decorations didn’t turn out Pinterest-perfect. In the greater scheme of things, so what? Life goes on, and we all have much to be grateful for.
  • Get rest and be kind to yourself. To be our best, we need to take care of ourselves. Although the holidays are about giving to others, to be fully present for another we first must be present for ourselves – mind, body and heart nourished. From there we can show up and share our light and love.
  • Trust your inner wisdom. We are bombarded with messages in the media and our inbox and are pulled in so many directions. At the end of the day, what is truly important? Find peace, love and joy and all that is good in your life right now, with gratitude for all that you have today. By appreciating what we have, we come to realize that we don’t need more and already have everything we need.

As my BFF (best furry friend) teaches me daily, life is best lived moment-by-moment with unconditional love. Happy holidays to you and yours!


– Turi Hetherington, Ridge Yoga Instructor, RYT200, Holistic Health Coach, Entrepreneur, Montana Mom and Quiet Seeker of Adventure

Turi will be leading a six-week Intro to Mindfulness & Meditation series at the Ridge starting in January, details coming soon!

Fitness Matters | The Importance of Connection in Group Exercise

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With so many pieces of equipment, space, and resources in a gym, why is it that so many gym members choose group exercise classes over a 30 minute treadmill session? Why do we wake up early to sign up for popular classes, forgo our lunch breaks and wake up at the crack of dawn to attend Spin, Body Pump, or Zumba?
Because we want to feel connected. No, not connected to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The “old fashioned” connected. Being surrounded by others who are going through the same experience and listening to the same rhythm and music builds connection to those around you in a workout environment.
Being in a group setting for exercise puts everyone on the same level. As a Pilates instructor, I feel connected to every person in the room because we move through the class sequence together. This allows me to feel empathy for what each participant is working through, try to make them smile when they are tired, and understand how to push them even when they want to give up.
Music is another way to foster connection in group exercise classes. As a Body Pump participant, the music is a very important part of the workout because it helps people anticipate upcoming exercises and changes in tempo. Working out to the beat of the music in a group setting connects the soul to the body, which allows the entire class to move together, and celebrate when all the hard work is done.
Every person wants and has a deep desire to feel & be connected. As we connect with others through healthy, positive endeavors such as group exercise we build stronger minds, souls, and communities. 
 
Check out a Group Exercise class at the Ridge today!!

Blaise Collett
CPT

 

Fueling your Family | The Importance of Breakfast

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Now that fall is in full swing and schedules are getting busy, don’t let breakfast be something you neglect to prioritize.

Most people I work with tell me they skip breakfast for one of 2 reasons: either they feel they don’t have time, or they don’t feel hungry in the morning. When it comes down to it, these are both excuses that just don’t hold up when you consider the health benefits of breakfast. I encourage individuals to make breakfast a priority daily. It really isn’t that hard, especially when you consider the following health consequences of skipping breakfast:download

  1. You miss out on nutrients – People who skip breakfast generally fail to make up for the nutrients they’ve missed. As a result, breakfast eaters have better overall eating habits and higher intakes of protein, calcium, vitamin C, zinc, iron and fiber.
  2. It slows down your metabolism – Many people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight. However, research says that those who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight. Having a healthy breakfast within 2 hours of waking helps to “jump-start” your metabolism after a night of rest has allowed it to slow.
  3. It makes overeating more likely later in the day – Eating breakfast, especially a high protein breakfast with 20-30 grams of protein, stimulates a broad spectrum of satiety hormones that help control appetite and regulate food intake throughout the day. Those that skip breakfast will likely feel increased appetite later in the day, which sets them up for overeating especially in the evening.
  4. Performance and attention span suffer – Whether you’re headed off to work or school, research shows that skipping breakfast lowers academic performance and reduces attention span.

Now that I’ve establish the argument for why eating breakfast daily is best for our health, you may be wondering how to practically implement this habit. Here are my suggestions:

  1. You have to make it a priority. If you feel like you don’t have enough time in the morning, then get up 5 MINUTES EARLIER…that’s really all it takes.
  2. Plan ahead. Have quick, grab-and-go items available for those mornings you’re short on time.
  3. Aim for at least 2 food groups to be represented, but ideally 3 (protein, whole grain, and fruit tend to be the most common 3). Ideas include:

Protein

  • Hard boiled eggs – Cook up a batch on Sunday to have around for the week
  • Nuts or nut butters – pre-portion about ¼ cup into a small snack bag
  • Dairy – Low fat options like yogurt/greek yogurt, string cheese, or cottage cheese.

Whole grains

  • Whole wheat bread/toast
  • Oatmeal – I like to cook my oats in the microwave for 6 minutes on 50% power. That way it won’t boil over, and I use those 6 minutes to continue getting ready for work.
  • Whole grain breakfast cereal – Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, and Total are few of the many options. Look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient.
  • Whole wheat bagel or whole wheat English muffin – Choose ½ or the whole depending on your calorie needs

Fruit

  • Fresh, frozen, or dried (with no added sugar)
  • Limit fruit juice to no more than ½ cup daily – it’s best to get your fruit from whole fruit.

yogurt with muesli and berries in small glass

 

My Top 3 Favorite Quick Breakfast Picks

  1. A slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, banana slices, and cinnamon on top (this is my go-to choice when I’m short on time).
  2. Oatmeal with berries and walnuts/almonds.
  3. Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and granola yogurt with muesli and berries in small glass.

Katie Sonnek, RD, LN
Registered Dietitian at Ridge Athletic Clubs

Subscribe to Katie’s monthly nutrition newsletter, The Dish, by clicking here!

Halloween Candy – Tricks and Treats from a Dietitian’s tool bag

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thinkstockphotos-4875134381Halloween is among the most highly anticipated holidays for many of our kids. My 3-year-old and 6-year-old are no exception. However, as we all know, it is also a holiday saturated with sugar, and thus a challenge to navigate in a healthy way. Here are a few tips and tricks from my tool bag.

  • Use Halloween as a learning opportunity. Our kids need to learn how to include sweet treats in moderation as part of an over-all healthy diet. Depravation is not the answer. We know from research that girls who are treat-deprived end up eating more sweets even when they are not hungry and weigh more. Girls allowed regular sweet treats tend to eat moderately of sweets, if at all, and weigh less.
  • Work toward your child managing his/her own stash. This is how the best learning happens. If your child follows the predetermined rules you set in place, she retains control of her loot. The night of Halloween, I suggest letting your child have as much as she wants from her trick or treat candy. The next day, it needs to be relegated to meal- and snack-time. You choose how many small pieces to allow at each meal and snack.
  • Practice Portion Control. This goes out to all the neighbors with their front porch lights on and candy bowls full.   You don’t have to give our kids a fist-full of candy. In fact, please don’t. Could you instead choose one fun-size candy? This will help your candy bowl last all night, and it helps us parents arrive home with a more reasonable candy volume in the hands of our kids. Because, child or adult, who really needs fistful after fistful of candy anyway?
  • Consider handing out healthier options or non-food treats. Whole grain cheddar crackers, 100% fruit leathers or low-fat pudding cups are a few nutritious alternatives that come individually wrapped. Or stock your treat bowl with stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, or similar low-cost non-food items.

By Katie Sonnek, Registered Dietitian

Click Here to view Katie’s interview on KBZK

Fitness Matters | Age is Just a Number – Rio Olympics

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The Rio Olympics have just come to a close, and I am surely going to miss them. One of the most impressive things for me this year was the success of athletes who we would usually consider “older”. The common perception when it comes to elite athletes is that success is for the young. However, on multiple occasions in Rio, older athletes triumphed over their younger counterparts.

Kristin Armstrong was the oldest athlete to win a gold medal. She won the women’s cycling time trial the day before her 43rd birthday. Anthony Ervin became the fastest swimmer in the world, winning the 50m freestyle – an event he won 16 years earlier in Sydney. At 35, he is the oldest swimmer to ever win a gold medal. Michael Phelps, who at the age of 31, competed in his 5th consecutive Olympics, walking away with 6 medals, 5 of which were gold. Jo Pavey was the oldest competitor on the track, competing in the 10,000m at age 42 (and in coming a respectable 15th). The most impressive is Oksana Chusovitina, who at the age of 41 finished 7th in the gymnastics vault competition- a sport that notoriously favors youth.

So what can we learn from this? While research tells us that there is a decline in fitness related measurements as we age (such as aerobic power and muscle mass), it doesn’t mean that we can’t be as fit and healthy as we choose to be. Studies also show that regular physical activity can preserve health and performance-related measurements, including cardiovascular fitness, body composition and metabolic pathways.

Obviously, most of us don’t want to train the same volume as Olympians and we certainly don’t need to be elite athletes to be healthy. Perhaps though, it is worthwhile adjusting our way of thinking. We generally accept that as we get older, our physical condition will deteriorate. Rio proves that this is not the case at all. Maybe age can simply be a number, and not a limiting factor.


Article by: Erin Lyons, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist

Fitness Matters | Finally Going the Distance

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Running is a sport that requires a positive perspective. As we move into the Fall season where trail and road races occur nearly every weekend, those who don’t run races may be asking themselves, why do people voluntarily run 6.1, 13.1, or 26.2 miles?

The answer to this question is different for every runner. For some (including myself), completing a race means accomplishing a goal. For others, a race is an outlet for the competitive spirit, a way to record personal best times, mile splits, etc.

Currently, I am training for my first half marathon in just over a month. Though I have been a runner for years, I never really ran more than five or six miles, because in my head I didn’t think I was capable of any more than that.

Flashback to March 12th, 2016 when I participated in my first “Run to the Pub” 10K. It was then that my perspective on what I was capable of shifted. I ran past someone during the fifth mile who was struggling. I asked him how his run was going and he said, “Lung surgery is making this a lot more challenging”. Here I was running next to someone who had faced a challenge more severe than completing a 10K, yet was out there giving it his all just like every other participant. A week later, I signed up for a half marathon.

It was during this interaction while racing that running and it’s connection to perspective “clicked” for me. Everyday I run, I choose to push past mental challenges and overcome the little voice in my head telling me, “give up”. I happily choose to go the distance, putting in those extra miles in order to be ready for my the goals I have set for myself.

By overcoming the “give up” mentality and replacing it with determination, my goals have become easier to achieve and I have enjoyed the process much more. This determination and positive perspective towards running has translated into many other areas of my life and push me forward when life brings trial, defeat, and challenge.

How will you choose to be positive in the pursuit of your goals today?


Article By: Blaise Collett
ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Fueling Your Body for Race Day

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race-day testingNutrition choices for an endurance runner (or any endurance athlete) can be the difference between a successful PR (personal record) and the disappointment of falling short.   Here are some keys to fueling your body for that next race day PR.

Daily Training Considerations

  1. Consume adequate fuel day-in and day-out. Calorie restriction is a common challenge because many runners (endurance athletes) are weight conscious. I really encourage people to adopt the “Food = Fuel” mindset.   When daily calorie intake is inadequate, short-term consequences include decreased performance and fatigue. In the long-term, menstrual dysfunction, bone loss, injury, decreased endurance and strength, decreased immunity, micronutrient deficiencies, and decreased basal metabolic rate (BMR) can plague a runner who under eats.
  2. Ensure adequate carbohydrate intake. One of the biggest problems runners face is not eating enough carbs to fuel performance. Of the 3 available fuel sources (carbs, protein, and fat), carbohydrate is the primary energy source. Individual carbohydrate needs vary depending on training intensity and duration. See table below.
Recommended Carbohydrate Intake (g/kg/day) Activity Duration Activity Intensity Example: 130 lb female (59 kg)
5 to 7 60 minutes Moderate 295-413 g/day
6 to 10 1 to 3 hours Moderate to high 354-590 g/day
10 to 12 4 to 5 hours Moderate to high 590-700 g/day
  1. Ensure adequate protein. Endurance athletes have an increased need for protein. The recommendation is 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per Kg of body weight.
    • Example: 130 lb female (59 kg) = 71-83 grams/day
  2. Don’t fear fat. Fat intake is necessary to sustain prolonged exercise. Fat should make up 20-35% of your total calories. Make sure to include healthy sources like nuts, avocado, fatty fish, and olive oil.

 

Pre-Race Objectives

Fueling to maximize muscle glycogen and ensuring optimal hydration are key leading up to your big event. A high carbohydrate meal (low fat and low fiber), can enhance performance when eaten 3-4 hours before the event. For a multi-hour race (like a marathon), 200-300 grams of carbohydrate is recommended at this pre-race meal.

During the Race

The main goal for during the race is to replace lost fluids, and consume carbohydrate to maintain blood sugar levels (for any run/race lasting >60 minutes). Glycogen (stored carbohydrate) can be exhausted after 1-2 hours of intense activity. So it is recommended that runners replace 30 to 60 grams of carb/hour. This can come in a variety of forms, including sports drinks, gels, bars, or honey sticks. Find what works for you by experimenting before race day.

Post-Race Objectives

The main goal after the race/run is to refuel and rehydrate. Both carbohydrate and protein are recommended in a ratio of 3:1. Aim for 1-1.5 g/kg carbohydrate within 30 minutes, and then every 2 hours for 4-6 hours after the race. For most people this equates to 60-90 grams of carbohydrate. Adding 15-25 grams of protein to this immediate postrace refueling will minimize continued muscle breakdown and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.


Article by Registered Dietitian, Katie Sonnek

Fitness Matters | Sleep, Exercise, & Health

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fitness_matters_march_blog

Like most of us, I can have trouble sleeping. We all try to fit too much into our lives and oftentimes sleep takes a backseat to work, family time, exercise, socializing, and other activities. Don’t get me wrong, these are all very important activities in our lives, but we need to remember the profound impact that a proper night’s sleep has on our health.

Aside from its other positive attributes, exercise is quite intricately linked to a positive sleeping experience. Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, decrease the rate of time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce daytime sleepiness. Also, people who sleep less tend to exercise less. We can all probably recognize this in ourselves. When we get a poor night’s sleep we are more likely to skip our workout for that day, or to reduce the effort involved.

Did you know that sleep plays an important role in our appetite? Decreased sleep, or irregular sleeping patterns, interfere with hormonal regulation of hunger and tend to increase appetite and food intake. Studies have also shown that consistently reduced sleep impairs insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.

So, what can be done to improve our sleeping habits?

  • Prioritize sleep. Do your really need that extra hour of television time in the evening?
  • Establish a bedtime routine. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day.
  • Exercise outdoors from time to time. Sunlight can help regulate sleep cycles.
  • No vigorous exercise 3 hours prior to bedtime. This can make sleep more difficult in some people.
  • Exercise regularly (at least 150 minutes weekly)

Of course, life gets busy and from time to time you may not be able to get the sleep you need. Do your best to make this as infrequent as possible. Your health will thank you for it.


Erin Heard, ACSM-Certified Exercise Physiologist at Ridge Athletic Clubs

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