As both a dietitian in the field of eating disorders and a certified personal trainer, I've observed first hand what a complicated issue exercise can be for A LOT of people.
"Working out" is often associated with punishment for eating or punishment for not looking a certain way. It's easy to feel that your exercise regimen is never "good enough" and that you never worked "hard enough." Often, our motivations for exercise stem from a negative place, but then we wonder why we can get excited about doing it! Many people have abandoned exercise all together while others work out so excessively their body is begging for a break. And many people vacillate between these two extremes.
If you can relate to anything I'm saying, you may want to check out a useful workbook "The Exercise Balance: What's Too Much, What's Too Little, and What's Just Right For You" by Pauline Powers MD and Ron Thompson PhD. Here's a blurb from the book:
Healthy exercise means finding a balance between overtraining and inactivity. By using a combination of clinical studies and real-life examples, this book shows readers how to develop their own personal prescription for discovering that balance. Written by two specialists in the field of eating disorders, it details both ends of the exercise continuum, from compulsive exercisers who push their bodies to the limit to people with little or no physical activity in their daily lives.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating, talk about the concept of Mindful Exercise. Below are four components to keep in mind:
1. It is used to rejuvenate the body, not exhaust or deplete it
2. It enhances the mind-body connection and coordination, not confuse or disregulate it
3. It alleviates mental and physical stress, not contribute to and exacerbate stress
4. It provides genuine enjoyment and pleasure, not to provide pain and be punitive
Hopefully these words will help guide you in finding an exercise balance that's right for you. Just as Aristotle's quote on my homepage says "For both excessive and insufficient exercise destroy one's strength, and both eating and drinking too much or too little destroy health, whereas the right quantity produces, increases or preserves it."
Consider making a list of 5 reasons you like to exercise. But here's the catch, they can't be related to burning calories or trying to shape/change your body into something it's not. I'll start you off with my personal favorite:
1.) Helps to reduce stress and anxiety
Good luck and let me know how it goes!
A couple of months ago, a participant in my step aerobics class asked "Marci, my feet and shins have started hurting me, what could that be from?" So I asked her how old her shoes were. She thought for a minute and said, "hmmm, I've had these for about a year and a half." After following my advice and investing in a great pair of shoes, she is free from foot and shin pain.
One of the most important things to think about when it comes to exercise is making sure your feet are taken care of. Their job is to keep you upright and take the impact on a daily basis. Plus, when your feet don't have the right kind of support, you'll start to experience pain in your feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips, and even low back. Two things to consider are the right fit and replacing them often.
1.) If you don't know what kind of shoe is right for your foot or the types of exercise you like to do, find a reputable store in your area. I always recommend my Cambridge clients to go to Marathon Sports on Mass Ave (there are 6 locations in Massachusetts). They have expert sales reps who are trained to analyze your feet and gait, to help guide you to just the right shoe.
2.) This article gives suggestions on how often to replace your shoes. The general consensus seems to be every 5-6 months if you are using them on a regular basis. Remember, if your feet starting aching, you've waited too long!
I often hear people complain that their feet fall asleep while exercising or that their feet hurt, even if their shoes are new. There are two common pitfalls to watch out for.
1.) Don't tie your laces too tight! Give your feet a little wiggle room.
2.) Consider buying a 1/2 size bigger than you normally would. Your feet swell while exercising and you need space for your feet to expand.
Good luck and have fun!
Marci RD, Nutrition Therapist
Each month I have a little fun showcasing an item that, in my opinion, just isn't as good for your health as it is advertised to be. In the past I have showcased food items. But last week, a client prompted me with a brilliant idea.
She had been to City Sports in Cambridge and decided to try on a pair of Skecher's Shape-Ups (Reebok Easy-Tone is another version of the same idea). You know the shoes. Slim, long legged models wear them in their commercials, promising that they'll help you "burn more calories, tone muscles, and more."
So my client was curious to know whether or not there was any actual research behind the dramatic sales pitch. So I did some research of my own. First I looked for any data to support the claims of calorie burning and leg toning. Nope, couldn't find anything. Doesn't appear that either company has done any actual research that would validate such claims. Skechers or Reebok, if you know something I don't, please send the research my way! I'm all ears.
Then I decided to contact my colleagues. Here were their responses:
- There was another brand that came out a few years ago with these. I bought them (because Oprah had them...lame, I know!) and they really hurt my knees so I gave them away. A chiropractor told me they were not great for your back.
- My husband is a physical therapist and he says to stay away from them!
- My best friend is a PT and says the same: bologna.
So it seems that at best, wearing these shoes won't lead to any body-transforming miracles. And at worst, they may take a toll on your back, hips, and knees. No thank you!
My advice? Be grateful for the body you do have and take good care of it with moderate yet consistent exercise. Your joints will thank you!
Did you know that research shows that the right tunes can actually help you enjoy your workouts more? I recently read this article and thought the concept was great. If you are prone to hanging out on the couch, the right music may just help you get your bootie movin'. Check out the playlist selections posted in the article, it may be just the motivation you need to get up, get out, and start having a little fun. :)
Here are the top 5 songs that get me excited to exercise:
1. Right Round- Chani
2. Lovegame- Lady Gaga
3. Glamorous (Craig Dice remix)- Fergie
4. Maneater- Nelly Furtado
5. Bounce That- Girl Talk
What tunes get you moving?
Your beat loving dietitian in Cambridge,
Each month I try to write a little blurb on something exercise-related and I stumbled across an interesting tid- bit while preparing for a recent seminar.
Once we hit our 30's, our Resting Energy Expenditure* begins to decline by .8% for women and 1% for men each decade. Translation: in our 30's our metabolism begins to slow down.
*REE = 55-75% of the calories or energy our body expends in a day. These are involuntary, life sustaining activities like breathing, circulation, hormone secretion, and nerve/brain activity.
How does this decline happen? Through the loss 1.5-2 pounds of lean body mass per year. Yikes!
But here's the good news. We can off-set this age-related muscle loss by strength training. Whoohoo!!! A simple 20-30 min a couple of times a week is all it takes.
So join a strength training class, buy an exercise video and some dumbbells, or start by climbing stairs. Every little bit counts!
A recent randomized clinical control trial of using yoga in the treatment of eating disorders appeared in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The study compared traditional treatment at an outpatient eating disorder center as compared to individual yoga plus standard care. After 8 weeks, those in the experimental group showed lower Eating Disorder Examination scores and reduced food preoccupation following the yoga sessions. Results show yoga as a promising adjunct therapy to eating disorder treatment.
A few reasons I think yoga is great:
*Teaches you to remain in the "present moment"- a skill that is greatly needed in our busy world and an essential component for anyone looking to change their food habits or relationship with food. Learning how to be more present in your body allows you to listen to your body's hunger and fullness cueing.
*Helps you maintain posture and flexibility with age.
*Improves balance which helps to prevent falls.
*A great way to destress
Interested in using meditation to de-stress but don't have the means or desire to go to a yoga class? Try this 10-minute self-guided mediation at your desk!
Your neighborhood nutritionist in Cambridge,
Have you ever thought about the number of hours in a day you spend sitting in front of a computer? Have you ever paid attention to how you are sitting in front of your computer? The typical American is expected to live for 78 years. Now imagine how you'll be looking at 78 if you continue to sit hunched over at your computer every day.
This is a relatively helpful article on computer posture. But here are a couple of points to consider:
- Habit: How you sit is a habit and will likely take many reminders to change or correct it. Consider setting a posture timer on your computer so you can check your self periodically.
- Strength: Good posture requires strength in the core (both low back and abdominals). The Mayo Clinic has a slide show of core strengthening exercises.
- Stretching: Actively stretching and releasing tension is great way to correct posture. I found this awesome YouTube video (below) which guides you through a series of relaxing desk stretches, along with some pretty great tunes to help you relax.
I hope you find these tips helpful!
Your Registered Dietitian & Personal Trainer in Harvard Square,
If you tend to feel a bit blue during the winter months, you are not alone. Rates of depression increase during the winter, including people who suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). In fact, recent findings suggest that the severity of eating disorder symptoms for bulimia peak in the Fall & Winter months.
2. Many schools open their gyms up to the community for walking programs so check a local school.
3. Turn up the music and dance. A friend lost 19# by doing this for 60 minutes a day with her kids.
4. Take family night to another level with a game like Wii Fit.
5. Use a pedometer and make your own records for as many steps in a single day.
6. Get outside in any season: In the summer, go for walks, hike a new trail, go for a bike ride, kayak, canoe, swim. In the fall, do your own color tour - bring your camera and walk through the beautiful colors. In the winter, ski - downhill can be expensive but if you already have the equipment night skiing is cheaper, cross-country skiing is a great work out, go ice skating, slide down a hill in a toboggan - climbing up the hill is great exercise, go snow shoeing, have a snowball fight, build a snowman. In the spring, take a walk to see all the flowers and trees budding and waking up from their winter slumber.
7. Take work breaks: 30 min at lunch, 15 min in the morning and afternoon. Other people get a smoke break, right?
8. Commercial Break Competitions: Do some routines with hand held weights (or improvised wts from filled water bottles). March, climb stairs, do jumping jacks, push ups, etc.
9. Play like your kids and with your kids. Get down on the ground with them, do somersaults, climb, run, skip, jump, play tag, toss and chase a ball. Have Fun!
10. Join a club or team.