Friday, October 5, 2012
Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled the nation's most recent survey of obesity rates in the U.S. and I have a feeling you won't believe what was found. Over the last couple of decades childhood and adult obesity rates have skyrocketed to the point where obesity related diseases are poised to become our nation's leading cause of death and increasing health care costs to the point of utter destruction. Recent reports however are finally showing that this trend is now reversing and American's are finally on their way to improved health and vitality. Got your attention? Read on.
In a turn of events similar September's Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers controversial call, the recent shift in obesity trends towards a leaner nation has everyone scratching their heads; how did this happen? Have American's finally woken up with a new found motivation to live a healthier lifestyle? Well, check out these statistics and decide for yourself. Texas, with one of the highest rates of obesity is now in the running for the quickest decline in obesity rates with many other mid-west west states following suit. East coasters, not far behind, have created a community campaign to remind families to eat healthy, local and not skip meals. The school districts have returned to a 5-day per week physical education program and serving health tasty lunches. In our own neck of the woods we've managed to cut out sugary beverages, purchase most of our foods from our local farmers markets, eat out less frequently and exercise throughout the week. Corporations have embraced work-site wellness programs, employees are spending less time sitting at their desks all leading to increased productivity, efficiency, decreased absenteeism and greater profitability. And get this, not only is our waistline shrinking and overall health improving, new cases of diabetes and heart disease have dropped and some have reported that they no longer need medication. And believe it or not, our mental health is only getting better as well. Medications necessary to treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders are the lowest they've been in years with many pointing to the increase in exercise and better nutrition as the culprit. Some are suggesting that even families are healthier, more connected and vibrant as ever considering that families are once again sitting down for dinner each night together sans television. American's are finally healthier than ever and are now considered a model for the rest of the world.
Wait a minute. Is this really happening? It sounds too good to be true. And, unfortunately, it is. The above statements are not facts are nothing more than hopes and dreams for a healthier world. The truth is that our nation is unhealthier than ever with obesity rates on the rise as usual and obesity related diseases on the brink of collapsing our health care system. Some reports even suggest that some parents will outlive their children due to their children's poor health choices and lifestyle (modeled by the parents of course). The real truth is that if we integrated the points in the story above into our own lifestyle we would be able to turn the corner towards a healthier America and when you think about it, living an active lifestyle, eating healthy meals as a family and being proactive with our personal health is an opportunity many people don't have. Therefore let's take advantage of this opportunity, take personal responsibility with our own health and prove to the rest of the world that our nation is the model of health.
Friday, September 7, 2012
I have been considering writing this article for some time now but hesitated due to concerns with angering our local health and fitness professionals. Additionally let's not forget that I've worked in the industry for 18 years now in a variety of capacities including trainer, coach, health club owner and mentor. So when I state that there's a problem with personal training it has the potential to create debate. Before I go any further let me start by saying that this article in no way is an attempt to bash personal trainers. The profession is a respectable career and one filled with compassion and a desire to truly help prevent disease and create a life of vitality and wellness. My problem is this; with so many trainers and health and fitness professionals in the world, why aren't we seeing a decline with obesity and preventative disease? And why do some clients get results but others seem to experience only minimal to moderate results? Lastly, why aren't more people utilizing the services of fitness professionals or health clubs? Is there really a problem with the profession?
Some time ago I remember meeting with a weight-loss client struggling with late night eating and self-sabotage. Every time she'd reach a weigh-loss milestone she would find herself frantically binging on high calorie food during the wee hours of the night only to completely reverse all of the hard work she had accomplished up that point. This cycle was a common theme for years. Another client spent most of his days sitting behind a computer diligently working away and packing on the pounds each year until he became tired of the weight and started working out again. His pattern was working out with a trainer for 4 months and then stopping for 8 months until he gained all of his weight back and continued training again. Recently he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. Why couldn't he change before this happened? Another client asked me to work with her young daughter who at the age of eight was clinically obese and already had elevated triglycerides and cholesterol. That's right, seven years old. The common thread with the above three examples are that the first two clients never managed to maintain consistency and eventually dropped off my radar. The family of the young girl I referred to eventually ceased training and from what I understand her level of health has not improved. In each of the above cases the clients came to me looking for the answers to improve their health, the key to success and a dose of regular motivation needed to change their lives. Was there something wrong with me? Did my nationally recognized certification and years of education not provide the solution necessary to help improve the above clients lives? Actually I think there's a more complex problem at hand that we all know exists but don't openly discuss.
The bottom line is that our lifestyles and communities have completely morphed into a sedentary condition that's unlike anything we've ever experienced. Our days are spent behind computers, our food largely is processed, genetically modified and regular family meals are becoming a thing of the past for many. Physical activity is being engineered out of our very lives for adults and children alike and not much is being done to ensure that this trend reverses. And here's the problem with personal training and fitness centers. They target a population that is already thinking about exercise, nutrition and wellness and individuals that are already doing something about it. These centers and professionals are perfect for those looking to take their fitness to the next level or improve their time at their next triathlon or drop the last 20 pounds. Most however fail to properly educate our community in all the areas necessary to succeed with ones health. True health encompasses mindfulness, a certain awareness and honestly with oneself in terms of their current lifestyle, values and actions. It requires one to come to terms with past and current experiences and move towards a life of truth, integrity, passion and vitality. In essence true wellness requires that one focus on mental health while concurrently improving physical health. Running on a treadmill 30 minutes a day in addition to resistance training and a moderate diet is not enough information for any one person to effectively impact their overall wellness and that that's what many in the fitness world fail to recognize. In order for personal trainers and health clubs in general to considerably impact the health of our communities they need to become health and wellness educators in addition to fitness professionals as well as advocate for health and programs that will impact our entire population. If we hope to turn the tide of health in our nation and reverse the trends of obesity we need to expect more from our health and wellness professionals and also realize that there does not exist one solution to a multi-tiered problem. True health requires a multifaceted approach and a team of health and wellness professionals that are willing to work with you on all levels until you finally recognize success.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Eating disorder can seem quite the mystery to those who have never experienced them and overwhelming for the individual battling with one and certainly daunting for the family and circle of friends involved. Eating disorders are more common than one would think and can be extremely dangerous and life threatening. Yet if caught in time and addressed appropriately the affected individual can recover and learn to live a healthful and vibrant life.
The umbrella of eating disorders generally includes anorexia nervosa (refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight) and bulimia nervosa (binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives, diuretics; fasting or excessive exercise). How does one end up with an eating disorder you may ask? Well, the answers to that question are quite numerous however one may include reasons for some disorders are attempts are gaining control over chaotic family dynamics, dysfunctional relationships, and high levels of emotional distress. The good news is that families can help prevent eating disorders from occurring or fend them off with open communication, high levels of awareness and even simple family traditions.
One 5 year study examined adolescent boys and girls and the frequency with which their families ate together in order to track the connection between family meals and differing degrees of disordered eating. The behaviors ranged from unhealthy ones, such as occasionally skipping meals to lose weight, to dangerous ones, including frequent use of laxatives and diet pills. Among the adolescent girls, the researchers found that regular family meals were associated with a lower prevalence of extreme weight control behaviors. To a smaller degree, eating together also positively protected the girls against less extreme behaviors. Among adolescent boys, eating together did not result in lower levels of disordered eating, but the researchers said that more studies were warranted to determine if there was any association (2012, IDEA Health & Fitness Association).
“The high prevalence of disordered eating behaviors among adolescent girls and the protective role of family meals suggest a need for interventions aimed at promoting family meals,” the authors concluded in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
So why would family meals help prevent eating disorders? With the fast pace of today's life many families find little time to prepare healthy meals let alone sitting down together after a long day. Family meals, when they happen, are part of a long tradition of keeping open communication channels open and putting life's issues out on the table so to speak. Once communication lines are severed and/or open dialog is not encouraged families run the risk of unhealthy behaviors to find their way into the home. Eating together as a family may help to maintain the integrity of our families, encourage ongoing healthy communication among all members and just as importantly keep healthy family tradition alive.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Often times when we think of successful people we tend to think that they were bred geniuses destined for success, fame and fortune. Yet if you dig a little deeper you'll find that the great majority of them had numerous and staggering failures prior to their glory. Which leads me to a few questions. What do you do right after a failure? What do you do after a rejection? What do you do after a strike out? What do you do after you trip up or fall flat on your face? Do you stay there or do you get back up? Do you bounce back or do you splat?
One person in history who had extraordinary bounce back power had an amazing list of failures before he finally succeeded in a big way. Who do you think the following person is? He began by losing his job at the young age of 22. He decided to get into politics at the age of 23 but was defeated for State Legislature. Back in business the next year at age 24 he failed in business again yet at the age of 25 he was successfully elected to State Legislature. Unfortunately at the age of 26 his sweetheart died and he had a nervous breakdown at 27. He was defeated for House Speaker at the age of 29 and again the next year in a run for nomination for Congress. By the age of 34 he was successfully elected for Congress but lost re-nomination at the age of 38. From the age of 39 to 49 he was defeated in run for Commissioner, a run for the Senate, in a run for the nomination for Vice President and another defeat in a final run for Senate. Utter failure. Finally, by the age of 51, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the President of the
. Epic win.
President Abraham Lincoln, arguably one of the greatest President's of all time successfully failed his way to great success and many others in history have followed suit one of which was Henry Ford. While Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn't an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.
The billion-dollar business that is Honda began with a series of failures and fortunate turns of luck. Soichiro Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a position as an engineer, leaving him unemployed for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbors, finally started his own business.
In his younger years, teachers told Thomas Edison he was "too stupid to learn anything." Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor,
made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all
those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
And last but not least, let's not forget Michael Jordan. Most people wouldn't believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily,
didn't let this setback stop
him from playing the game and he has stated, "I have missed more than
9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been
entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and
over and over again in my life. And that
is why I succeed. Jordan
From the above examples it's fairly clear that success isn't simply an inherently bred trait free of challenges, obstacles and failures. Rather failure should be accepted, perhaps even expected. Yet with diligence, thick-skin, persistence and a knack for bouncing back success may be inevitable.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
That's right, there is a new revolutionary new health improvement plan out there and you're not going to want to miss it. If you've struggled with weight-loss, increasing strength, enhancing your endurance or improving your overall health this program is for you. But...there's a catch. You have to ask for it.
Every successful person I know did not just happen to stumble upon it. In addition to persistently working towards their goals and pushing forward after significant setbacks they also did one thing that helped them seal the deal: they had help. When you think about it every successful business person has a team of advisers and every competitive athlete also has help in the form of coaches and trainers. Can you imagine an Olympic athlete competing without a team of coaches and trainers? Absolutely not! Successful entrepreneurs have advisers, athletes have coaches and the best students I know have teachers and tutors. If you consider the above it seems fairly obvious that if we want to improve our chances at succeeding it may behoove us to ask for a little help. So if asking for help can significantly improve our chances of succeeding than why aren't more people asking?
Throughout our years in elementary, junior high and high-school we're taught many things including math, sciences, economics, English and a host of other subjects. What I don't remember learning however is how to prepare, plan and monitor dietary intake or create a progressive daily and annual workout regimen. Lastly I definitely don't remember learning assertive communication skills. With that in mind we've seemingly been left to fend for ourselves in all matters of health and wellness. If you're a parent please take this into consideration and help your own kids establish and learn healthy habits while their young; they won't learn this in school and your kids and our nation certainly needs a healthy future generation (yes this is a rant).
As we have discussed the majority of successful people work with advisers, coaches, teachers and mentors to further their success. These individuals understand that it's challenging to succeed on their own yet with the right team and guidance anything is possible. This too applies to our own health and well-being. The challenge is that the common sentiment overshadowing health is that it should be easy. Well, newsflash, it's not. Learning how to balance your life in a way that's productive, efficient, balanced, harmonious and healthy takes a lot of work, dedication and...advice. There are many amazing health, fitness and wellness professionals in our community and the ones I know are generous with their knowledge and advice so take advantage of it. So if you're looking for a little extra help with your own health and fitness goals remember that it may only take three little letters to push you beyond what you've accomplished to-date. You just have to ask for it.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Some time ago I was reminded of the following story which is a great metaphor for reaching our goals. Upon first read it may seem like a bit of a downer but I promise there are positive sentiments weaved throughout the rest of the article. Here's the story:
After a long life a man went to heaven and was graciously welcomed by the Angelic Welcoming Committee. As is customary after the registration process the angels gave a tour of the grounds which culminated with a tour of the library. Inside of the library the man saw an open book with his name engraved in golden letters. As he started to take a closer look an angel quickly closed the book and said, "No, you can't see this." Well, an argument ensued and eventually the angel said, "Fine, you can look inside the book." Anxiously the man started flipping through the book and saw himself in pictures with a beautiful wife, a large family, a house on an amazing estate and family vacations from around the world. "Wait a minute," the man said, "that's not me, I wish it was me but that's not my wife and those are not my children and I never owned an estate, I've lived a solitary life." That angel replied, "That could have been your life and you could have had those things if you would have just asked for them."
As I mentioned earlier the above story may come across as a bit depressing or discouraging but after processing it I think you may change your perspective so let's discuss and consider it. The most powerful sentence from the above story is the last sentence stating, "that could have been your life and you could have had those things, if you would have just asked for them." You see just about anything we want out of life is within our grasp and really the only thing we have to do is ask for it. I'm not suggesting that you just ask the universe to will your every desire and hope it happens, quite the contrary, I am suggesting that there are a few different ways to ask for things and some require a great deal of responsibility and discipline. Let me explain.
If you're completing your last year of college and want to go to graduate school you'll have to ask to get in by completing and submitting an application. If you want to work for our city, county or possibly a local engineering firm you'll have to ask to work there by applying and interviewing. Would you like to start a relationship with the person of your dreams? Ask him or her out! You see if you want something you just have to ask...but there's a loophole. What if you ask and the answer is no? Are you going to take only one "no?" You may have to ask and ask and answer with persistence. The next person you need to ask is yourself. Are you willing to outwork everyone else and do a better job than anyone else? Are you willing to train harder, run further or study more? Are you willing to fully commit to what it is you want to accomplish? If you ask and you're presented with the thing or opportunity you have to be prepared to answer with actions.
Over the years I've never heard anyone say "I wish I didn't work so hard," or "I wish I wouldn't have studied so much," or "I wish I didn't exercise so consistently." Rather you hear the opposite and when it comes down to it success is happens to those who ask for it, ask other people, ask again and again and ask of themselves. Remember, you don't regret what you do, you regret what you don't do.
Friday, March 30, 2012
HEAL-SLO, a collaboration of over 30 local organizations that works to address the childhood obesity epidemic in SLO County is on another mission to educate and encourage our community to live a healthier lifestyle by becoming more physically active and eating locally and healthfully.
The goal of Let's Move SLO is to spark community awareness about the benefits of increased physical activity and healthy eating. This initiative grew out of a conference call with First Lady Michelle Obama, in which 4,500 people committed to making better choices to improve the health of our nation's children through community and organizational empowerment.
Beginning March 7th, HEAL-SLO members will collaboratively reach out to their constituencies representing several thousand community members to remind, inspire and encourage our community to aspire to living a healthier lifestyle. Our community will be encouraged to visit www.healslo.com and "Commit" to either "Move More," or "Eat Healthfully & Locally." Highlighted within the HEAL-SLO website are extraordinary examples of what some of our HEAL-SLO volunteers are doing in our own backyard to empower our local families and youth in an effort to create the nation's healthiest community (visit http://www.healslo.com for more information).
A perfect example of “Let’s Move SLO’s!” purpose (to spark community awareness about the benefits of increased physical activity and healthy eating) is a collaboration between Equilibrium Fitness, Community Action Partnership (CAP-SLO) and Community Health Centers of the Central Coast which has yielded a boost in fitness levels at Arroyo Grande High School. Equilibrium Fitness, a project team member since 2011 has further developed the boot camp curriculum and added a very unique and cool addition: a youth personal training workshop. The program, Fitness Youth Trainers Revolution (FYT Rev), will provide an opportunity for youth to become peer-to-peer fitness leaders and experience what it entails to work as a personal trainer while also enhancing knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, motivation and leadership. After a three day workshop and 20 hours of hands-on observation and internship hours, youth trainers will be qualified to teach or assist with Project Teen Health (PTH) 6-Week Boot Camps, a campus-wide health fair, and Healthy Start PE Classes. The eventual goal is to expand the FYT Rev program to other local high schools, recreation centers and health clubs. To date, 16 students have completed the FYT Rev program and are currently in the process of completing their internship hours. "I can't tell you how excited I am to see this program get off the ground" says Julian Varela, co-owner of Equilibrium Fitness. "I've been working on trying to launch this program [FYT Rev] for years and teaming up with CAP-SLO has been the perfect vehicle for doing so...I couldn't have asked for a better team of professionals to work with”. As exemplified with FYT Rev, the “Let’s Move SLO!” campaign encourages community members to get active, enjoy healthy foods, and eat locally. For more information on “Let’s Move SLO!”, or other healthy eating and active living initiatives and organizations, please visit www.HealSLO.org.