Better Sleep

Better SleepLooking to get better sleep? We all love a good night’s   sleep. But did you know that not getting one not only makes you dull and stressed, it can also make you pack on the pounds.

Health experts recommend eight hours of sleep a night for most adults. Yet so many of us get fewer than six-and-a-half hours during the work week.

Too little physical activity is clearly part of why we’re overweight. But a lack of sleep may make weight loss and weight control more difficult by altering your metabolism. It may also be changing your eating and exercise patterns.

In a Japanese study, children sleeping less than eight hours a night were almost three times as likely to be overweight.

Lack of sleep may change hormone levels and thus influence weight gain. Higher levels of the hormone insulin have been linked to a shortage of sleep.

Because insulin promotes fat storage and controls blood sugar, extra insulin could make weight loss more difficult.

Studies also show that a lack of sleep leads to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which can cause an increased appetite. Sound familiar?

A third hormone affected by too little sleep is cortisol, linked by research to stress. When people feel threatened or stressed, their cortisol levels rise in a “fight or flight” reaction. In one study, people whose cortisol levels rose highest in response to stress had more waistline fat – and fat at the waist is related to the greatest number of risks for heart disease and other ailments. So what can you do to get better sleep?

Better Sleep With Aerobic Exercise

Results from a Stanford University study show exercise, particularly aerobic exercise in the late afternoon or right after work can turn this all around.

The physical stress of aerobic exercise produces fatigue and a rise in body temperature. A few hours later, your body temperature drops. That coupled with the fatigue from your exercise triggers your brain to induce a deeper, longer better sleep.

Better Sleep

What time of day you do is as important as doing it. If you exercise too close to bedtime you may be up for hours climbing the walls. Getting a half hour brisk walk is all it takes.

If you belong to a Gym, get there and mix it up on the cardio machines.

Or get yourself a good cardio dance video by a certified instructor.

In any case quality zzzzzs equals quality of life and may even increase longevity.

For more health and fitness information and at home exercise programs please visit www.mirabaiholland.com

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New Sneakers: The Right Pair For You

Sneaker-Test-WEB_6209When Spring is just around the corner I get lots of emails saying, “ I’d like to get a pair of new sneakers. What type of athletic shoes should I buy for walking or jogging outside? ”
There’s no one answer. There are just about as many types and brands of new sneakers  as there are feet. Yours are unique, but one rule applies to all. This is how to treat your feet!

New Sneakers: How To Choose Your Next Pair

New sneakers need to feel great right out of the box. No break-in!  They also need to be sport specific. Stick with a shoe that’s designed for your particular activity.

So how do you pick a shoe? Ask your feet.

Check out the regular shoes you have at home. Where are they worn down?

If they’re worn on the inside edge you have low arches and point your feet inward. Try athletic shoes with good arch support.

If your shoes wear on the outside you point your feet outward. You need a shoe with more cushioning and good lateral support.

If you have even wear on your heels, you walk and run with your feet mostly straight ahead. You can buy any quality shoe that feels good on your foot.

What is a quality shoe anyway?

  • Heel box needs to be on the stiff side and comfortably keep your heel from popping out
  • The toe box needs to flex but not so much as to let your foot twist. Your big toe shouldn’t hit the front of the shoe
  • The upper needs to surround your foot and give it the amount of comfortable support your particular foot needs
  • The shoe should have enough cushioning to absorb impact but not so much as to make it unstable
  • You should be able to get a good pair for under a hundred bucks

But what about toning shoes? The principle behind these is that the design of the shoe’s sole keeps you off balance; and because you’re always working to keep your balance, you work harder, burn more calories, use your muscles more and therefore get a better workout and a more toned body.

I can’t speak first hand about these because I’ve never worn a pair.  But I do have a close friend who swears by them.   Her enthusiasm peaked my curiosity and got me Goggling.  I found a study by the American Council on Exercise. This is the non-profit organization that tests and certifies fitness instructors throughout the US. They tested all the major brands of toning shoes against regular athletic shoes.

Their study found no significant difference between the Toning shoes and the regular shoes.

The bottom line is there is no silver bullet. A lot of this is trial and error.  It’s all about the fit; and if the shoe fits, it will be a treat for your feet when you wear it.

For more health and fitness information and at home exercise programs please visit www.mirabaiholland.com

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Exercise Outdoors: Cross Training & Hydrate

Exercise Outdoors Exercise outdoors in summer can be a challenge. Cross training exercises are a good way to mix up your workouts and give yourself time to cool off, drink water and stay hydrated in summer heat.

Although I’m away from home, in the mountains, and not as affected by this huge triple digit heat wave, I did get a wake-up call of my own that I thought would be important to share.  I was shooting an exercise video this week in 90-degree heat. It was hot, but I got on a roll and forgot about the time. Less than an hour in, I started to swoon. Not a good shot on an exercise video. I realized immediately what had happened; I’d gotten so involved, I forgot to drink water between takes. I can say from experience that it creeps up on you. So you need to take steps to keep yourself cool and well-hydrated when you exercise outdoors. Cross-train with strength exercises mixed in with your cardio gives you a lower intensity interval so you can drink water, stay hydrated and cool off.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine losing more than 2 percent of your body weight through dehydration puts your body at risk for heat illness. This is serious business. We’ve all read the stories of team athletes who have actually died.

When you exercise in the heat you can lose up to five cups of water per hour. So it’s important to drink water before, during, and after vigorous exercise. The rule of thumb is to drink 2 cups of water a couple of hours before you start exercising so you are fully hydrated. Remember to bring that water bottle with you and drink a cup of water every 15 minutes or so while you are exercising. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you’re already getting dehydrated.

But you’re not done yet. You need to drink another 2 cups over a two-hour period after exercise.

Sounds like a lot of water. It’s not. It’s just making up for the water you lose when you exercise in the heat.

Pouring water over your head during exercise won’t help you rehydrate, but it does make you feel better. A study at Cal State Fullerton with trained athletes showed that athletes exercising in 92-degree heat in a controlled setting felt cooler and that the workout was easier to perform.

But you know what Noel Coward said about “mad dogs and Englishmen.” Give yourself a break. If you can, exercise outdoors when it’s cooler, early mornings or late afternoons when the sun is less direct. Try finding shady areas.

Instead of keeping up your brisk pace for the whole workout, break it up. Go at normal pace for a bit, do a short light interval and then pick up your speed again.

Another idea is when you exercise outdoors do cross training exercises. Add intervals of strength training between shorter bouts of cardio. You’ll get a chance to drink and pour some water over your head too! Stop at a wall, a tree or a fence, and do these five exercises: two for your upper body and three for your lower.

Exercise Outdoors Video

Here is an Exercise Outdoors video with some easy cross training exercises to tone you up, no equipment necessary. 

Exercise Outdoors: Strength Exercises Using Your Own Body Weight

With all these Strength training exercises, remember to exhale on the exertion.

Standing Push Ups: Stand facing a surface with legs hip width apart and place hands shoulder width apart. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself down to the surface and then push back upright again. Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, and Shoulders

Calf Raises: Face surface and hold on for balance. With feet together pointing straight ahead, slowly lift your body up on to your toes, while tightening calf, abs and buttocks muscles. Then slowly lower yourself back down again.
Muscles worked: calves, abs, and buttocks.

Squats: Face surface, legs hip with apart. Hold on for balance. Shift weight back into heels. Keeping back straight, abs pulled in, gently bend at the knees and squat to about a 90-degree angle. Hold for a moment, then, using just your leg muscles, return to an upright position.
Muscles worked: Front of thigh (Quads), Back of thigh, (Hamstrings) Buttocks, Abs

Wall Sit: Stand against surface for back support. Holding on as needed for balance, slide down to a sitting position against wall, knees at about a 90-degree angle. Pull your abs in and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Muscles worked: Thighs and Abs

Upper Back Squeeze: Stand with your back to the surface, feet shoulder width apart. Place hands behind you on surface. Straighten your arms behind you and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Muscles worked: Back, Shoulders, Back of arms (Triceps)

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Wellness Mandala

WellnessWellness: Life is a balancing act.
So I started thinking about wellness. What is wellness anyway?
It’s the absence of disease. If you are not sick you are well.
But it’s more than that isn’t it? It’s quality of life and for some it’s a balancing act; the balance of all things. I like this balance concept so I dug out one of my favorite balancing act tools:

Wellness Balancing Act Tool

The Mandala: the wheel of life. I wrote down all the types of wellness I could think of and ended up with 6 categories that I stuck on my Mandala to enable us to live well.

Here they are:
Physical Wellness
· Taking care of your body, eat right, exercise
· Visit your doctor regularly

Mental Wellness
· Keeping an open mind and trying to see other’s point of view
· Allowing your curiosity to take you to new places and learn new things.

Emotional Wellness
· Trying to keep a positive state of mind
· Cultivating self esteem
· Reaching out to others for support

Spiritual Wellness
· Recognizing your beliefs.
· Allowing your core values to direct your actions.

Social Wellness
· Developing positive inter-personal relationships at home and work
· Allowing yourself to give and receive love: to and from everyone that means that much to you including animals
· Participate in social situations; try not to stay on the sidelines.

Environmental Wellness
· Making your home environment peaceful, pleasant, safe and comfortable.
· Choosing an occupation and a workplace that doesn’t drive you nuts.
· Try to have a positive impact on our natural environment.
Recycle more, pollute less.

When the wheel is in balance it spins evenly. When even one of these categories is out of whack, the whole wheel starts to wobble.
So as a certified health coach I respectfully suggest you get rolling, get your balancing act together so you can live well.

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Golf Fitness Workout

Golf Fitness Workout!

Gogl Fitness WorkoutThere are over 20 million golfers in the United States alone. And those who play frequently, including the pros, are often plagued by over-use injuries.

It’s the repetitive motion of the golf swing that’s the culprit. And if your form is less than perfect you can hurt yourself on a single swing.

It uses the same muscles every time: mainly shoulder (rotator cuff) core (side of the waist, abdominals), and arms (elbow, forearm and wrist)

Also, like any other physical activity, it’s good to warm-up your body at least 5-10 minutes before starting to play. A brisk walk, a few arm circles and practice swings with a towel will help to elevate your body temperature, lubricate joints and increase blood flow to your working muscles.

As for the current aches and pains, you probably have to rest those muscles until they heal.

Golf Fitness Workout

The good news is, there are Prehab exercises to help you play injury-free in the future and they will also help improve your game.

Goal Fitness Workout

Here are some essential exercises.

Towel warm-up

Roll up a towel lengthwise and take a few practice swings to warm-up the muscles you’ll use when you add the weight of the club.

Golf Fitness WorkoutSide Bend
If you have hand weights, great. Otherwise, grab some cans from your pantry.

Stand feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, arms at your sides. Without bending forward or back, bend directly to one side, while sliding the weight in your opposite hand up the side of your body to your armpit. Do the same on the other side. 8-12 reps on each side, alternating side to side. Areas Worked: Side of the Waist

Core Strength & Stretch

Golf Fitness Workout

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

Gently stretch your right arm out in front of you till it’s level with your torso. At the same time raise your left leg and straighten it behind you. Hold for 10-20 counts and slowly return to starting position. Switch sides and repeat. Areas Worked: Abdominals, shoulder, hip and back of leg


Oblique Twist

Golf Fitness Workout

Lie down, knees bent, feet hip width apart. Place your hands behind your head.

Lift and turn your torso to point your right elbow towards your left knee (keep your elbow back in line with your shoulder) and return to start. Do 8 reps. Switch sides and repeat. Areas Worked: Abdominals, particularly the side abs.

Golf Fitness WorkoutRotator Cuff

Holding cans or hand weights bend arms at the elbows to 90 degrees in front of you. Keep your elbows bent and bring your arms out to your sides.

Repeat 8-12 reps.

Areas Worked: Shoulders

 

Wrist Curls
Golf Fitness WorkoutHold hand weights at your sides, elbows at 90-degree angles, palms down. Keep arms stationary, and using only your wrists, slowly curl the weights towards you until your knuckles are facing the ceiling. Repeat 8-15 reps

Flip weights palms up. Do 8-15 reps in this position.

Areas Worked: Forearms and wrists.

Golf Fitness WorkoutDiamond Stretch

Raise arms over-head, linking hands together. Slightly bend elbows and gently move them back.

Hold for 10-20 counts.

Areas worked: Shoulders, chest and upper back.

For more info on Mirabai Holland, Certified Health Coach and Exercise Physiologist please visit www.mirabaiholland.com

Mirabai is offering Health Coaching Services on the PHONE or SKYPE! For more info contact askmirabai@movingfree.com

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Tennis: Improve Your Game!

Srv1WebTennis! How To Improve Your Game

My friends say I’m like a broken record when I tell them “An ounce of Prehab is Worth a Pound of Rehab”. But with the rising number of baby boomers and beyond taking to the tennis courts, this phrase rings true especially if you’re interested in staying literally, in the game!

For general tennis conditioning, start with easy aerobics like cardio interval walking/jogging.

Alternate three minutes of brisk walking with a minute of faster walking or jogging. Build up to 8 sets (32 minutes) each session, at least 3-5 days a week. Also, if you have the space, try stepping laterally several steps to the right and then to the left during the 1-minute intervals.

This will help build your stamina for those bursts of speed you need on the tennis court.

Tennis: How To Improve Your Game

The following 5 site specific exercises can help you warm-up your racquet arm and strengthen key muscles to help avoid injuries but improve your game.

Srv1WebFigure-Eight Warm-up

With your racquet in your hand perform an overhead serve (without the ball) and follow through with a figure eight motion. Start slowly and increase your speed as you feel your arm, shoulder and core muscles getting warmed up. Repeat 12 times.

 

 

 

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Improve Your Tennis Game Ball Grip Strengthener

Squeeze a tennis ball in the palm of your racquet hand. Hold for 10 seconds.

Repeat 6 times. Strengthens grip.

 

 

 

BbdHndWebRubber Band Grip Strengthener

Stretch rubber band while extending fingers of your racquet hand. Hold for 10 seconds,

Repeat 6 times. Strengthens the opposite muscles from ball grip.

 

 

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Wrst-Curl-Right-WebForearm/Wrist Exercise

Holding a can or hand weight, place your arm edgewise on a surface for support. Using just your wrist, curl all the way to the right and then to the left.

Strengthens the forearm and wrist and helps to prevent tennis elbow. Repeat up to 12 times.

 

Wrist-Curl-Left---Web

 

 

 

 

 

 

LungeWebWalking Lunge

Lunge forward with one leg while bending other leg with heel off the ground.

Pause for 1 second. Switch legs and repeat. Strengthens leg muscles. Do up to 16 times.

 

 

 

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Fight Upper Arm Flab

FIGHT UPPER ARM FLABFight Upper Arm Flab!

My inbox is trying to tell me something. I’ve gotten several versions of this question in the past week alone.
Q: I’m starting to feel that flabby arm anxiety again. Summer is here and I don’t want to face my sleeveless blouses with these 54 old arms a year flabbier than they were last year. Is there anything short of surgery for me to do to fight upper arm flab?
A: Sedentary women in general and women at a certain age in particularly are faced with this problem every Summer.  And it does get worst, as you get older.
In fact we can lose up to 40% of our muscle cells by the time we hit 70. This is called sarcopenia. Weight resistance exercise can reverse this process and can help you regain some muscle you have lost.
Here are two easy site-specific exercises that target those problem areas in your upper arm and fight upper arm flab.

Fight Upper Arm Flab: Two Exercises

Bicep Curl for the Front Arm:
FIGHT UPPER ARM FLABGrab a set up hand weights and stand erect with your feet about shoulder width apart. Weights down at your sides, palms forward. Remaining erect, bending only at your elbows bring the weights up towards you until they reach your shoulders.
Slowly return to starting position. Repeat 8-15 reps.
Pick a weight that will just barely allow you to complete the final rep in good form.

 

Triceps Extension for the Back of the Arm:
FIGHT UPPER ARM FLAB
You will probably need a lighter weight for this exercise because those muscles are often weaker.
Stand erect, weights at your sides, palms in towards your thighs. Remaining erect step forward with one foot and slightly bend the knee. Keeping arms straight, bring both arms behind you just at or above waist height. You should feel the contraction on the back of your arms. Gently lower down to starting position.
Repeat 8-15 reps.

Do these exercises every other day. You should expect some soreness. It’s common when you are building muscle. Doing the exercises every other day gives your muscles a chance to recover and grow. You should see results in about 3-4
weeks. You will be on your way to fight upper arm flab.

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Cooking Healthy

Cooking Healthy Cooking Healthy is what my husband and I both love to do together. It was a challenge at first because he’s one of those ’60s kids who became a vegetarian at 14 and never went back. He’s been a vegetarian for 53 years. I, on the other hand, enjoy chicken, fish, and lean beef in moderation. Luckily he’s not one of those anti meat people, and he has no problem helping me cook it. He just has no desire to eat it. That’s fine, to each his own.

The interesting thing about this cooking healthy relationship is that we’ve developed a bunch of recipes that can be either vegetarian or not or both.

If you like Asian Fusion, here’s one of our favorite recipes to try at home.

The recipe makes 4 servings.

Cooking Healthy Recipe

4 cups, skinless chicken breast, chopped small
1 cup, brown rice
1 cup, sweet red pepper, chopped
2/3 cup, Vidalia onion, chopped
1 tablespoon, garlic, minced
4 tablespoons, low sodium soy sauce.

Here are the steps.

1. Start your rice in a separate pot with about 1 2/3 cups of water. Keep an eye on it, and flip it occasionally as it plumps

2. Sauté the chopped chicken breast in a large saucepan in about ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce. Add a small bit of water if chicken starts to stick.

3. When the chicken looks like it’s starting to cook, add the tablespoon of garlic

4. When the chicken is about 1/2 cooked, add the Sugar Snap Peas, chopped pepper, cooked onion and 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce

5. When the dish is nearly cooked, add the cooked rice and one more tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce.

You can substitute wild rice or white rice if you don’t like brown rice. And you can spice it up with a pinch of dried crushed red pepper and/or a ½ teaspoon of graded fresh ginger if your taste runs that way. Or add some fresh cilantro if you so desire.

The whole dish takes about half an hour from start to serving. It’s less than 500 calories per serving. If you’re a vegetarian, omit the chicken (this will drop the calorie count to about 300 per serving). Hope you’ll try it.

BTW, an hour of vigorous aerobic exercise should burn it right off.
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Getting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

Getting FitGetting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

I was back in my home town recently, where I taught for over 20 years. I missed my ladies so I decided to take some of my former students out for tea and dessert.

I thought for a minute the dessert part was a bad idea when a couple of them wouldn’t eat a piece of cake in front of me. But when I dug in, moderately of course, the party got started in earnest.  Ever the moderator, I asked them each to share things that were important in their lives over the past year.

As we went around the circle, they spoke of getting pregnant, daughter’s weddings, losing your job, becoming a gym rat, outliving heart disease, surviving menopause, the joy of grandchildren, and a trip to China.

Maybe because I was their host, the conversation drifted toward how getting fit had changed their lives.

They shared stories about feeling invisible, not sexy, not pretty, having no energy and feeling like a lump. One remembered showing up in my office, tearing her hair out saying my doctor told me I need to do something, I’ve got serious health issues, but I hate to exercise. What do I do?

She said, I told her “I’m going to give you exercise you can look forward to instead of dread.”

Getting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

Most of my work is done with women who haven’t been active in a while. My coaching style is to start people wherever they may be physically and emotionally and get them moving, gently, and pleasantly. If the first experience is pleasant, you’ll want a second and the third and so on. Sustainability is the key to getting fit and staying fit successfully. And that’s what happened with these ladies. But something else remarkable happened too.

They told me getting fit had given them the self confidence to pursue things they would never have dared to try; that the change in their bodies had kindled a change in the way they saw themselves. Instead of feeling invisible they felt fabulous and that Fabulosity had spilled over into the rest of their lives. As much as I would love to take all the credit for this transformation, I think that it boils down to healthy body, healthy mind;

Getting fit was the key that unlocked the door to their potential.
Pretty cool huh?

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Aqua Exercise: A Splash of Fabulous!

Aqua ExerciseAqua Exercise: A Splash of Fabulous!

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that  swimming can lower your blood pressure. What’s up with that?

Water babies, that’s us. We’re at home in liquid from pre-birth and we seem to naturally gravitate to it. We love the ocean, the lake the pool, the hot tub, and the bathtub.

What is it about water that means so much to us? It surrounds us, it cradles us, and it supports us. We’re nearly weightless in water. The largest of us can glide with ease and grace, feeling minimal resistance. And, I think it’s those endearing properties of water that make aqua exercise pleasant and effective.

Fitness
Swimming is the most common form of Aqua Exercise. It’s good for all ages. It uses all your major muscle groups, strengthens, tones, and helps build aerobic capacity. There’s almost no impact, so it’s kind to your joints while it gets you in shape.

I swim laps for 30 to 40 minutes four or five times per week. I find it relaxing and stimulating at the same time. Some days it melts my stress and puts me in a meditative state. Other days I do some of my best thinking during my swim workout. In any case, I always get out of the water with that energized good-tired feeling. Mornings are my favorite time to swim. But I’ll take a swim any time I can fit it in. I mostly swim outside so, as pretty as dusk is; I’m usually done before that, because mosquitoes love me.

If you’re a beginner, start slowly with a few minutes a day. Stay in your comfort zone and build up. I can swim for an hour or so now, when my body’s in the mood. But it took me over a year to get that conditioned, and I had a head start as a fitness professional. Take your time and keep it fun.

Aqua Exercise

Can’t swim? No worries. There are classes at the local rec. centers everywhere. There’s aqua cardio, aqua strength, aqua stretch, just about aqua everything. It’s done in about four feet of water so there’s no need to swim. You can get a great workout. It’s no-to-low impact, so it’s easy on your joints. And, if you have access to a pool or calm water, now you can stream a workout on to your tablet, prop it on a chair and exercise your brains out.

There’s some cool equipment to use in the water, too; aqua dumbbells, paddle gloves, jogging vests. Obviously if you’re going deep water running you’ll need one of those deep water jogging vests. But otherwise, you don’t need that stuff to get started. Many aqua cardio classes don’t use any equipment.

Here is an Aqua exercise you might try for cardio:

And, you can do Aqua Strength exercises using aqua dumbbells or a couple of empty plastic water bottles filled with air for resistance. Here’s a video with a few Aqua Strength exercises:

PT and Rehab
Immersion in water was used for healing by ancient civilizations more than 3,000 years ago.

They were on to something, though they probably didn’t know quite what. Immersion in water provides a supportive, low impact, low resistance environment for modern, medically based, physical therapy and injury rehab. A doctor usually prescribes this type of exercise.

Aging Fit
Someone really smart, and probably pretty old, once said: “Aging is not for the faint of heart.” Can I say I can relate to that without giving away my age? Guess not.

Luckily water is also a great medium for vintage bodies that simply can’t take the impact of other types of exercise, at least not every day.

Even if you’re pretty active getting older can make it hard to do land-based exercise on a regular basis. And water is fun. You don’t know you’re exercising until you get out and your body tells you “Oh, that was a workout.”

As our health-conscious population lives longer and longer, I think aqua, with it’s ability to surround and support our aging bodies while we keep them operational, is the wave of the future. Get those creaky bodies in the water. Try it, you’ll like it.

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