Tag Archives: Well being

Who Should Do HIIT? (and who should NOT)

 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been extremely popular in the exercise realm for the last five or so years. High-intensity interval training consists of exerting maximal physical effort for an exercise set or period of time (typically less than two minutes) followed by a period of active recovery. The back-and-forth cycling between tough exertion and lighter movements has been proven to be a time-efficient way to exercise. HIIT can be done for anywhere between 15-45 minutes, meaning you “get it done” in a short period of time. Most notably, HIIT workouts produce excellent results because they target lots of muscles and burn calories both during and after the actual exercise bout. Not too shabby, I must say. 

While HIIT workouts seem like a sure-fire answer for quick weight loss and time efficiency, they’re not for everyone. Let’s review who should do HIIT workouts and who should approach them with caution (or avoid them entirely).

 

 

Who Should Participate in HIIT?

HIIT is an excellent workout option for people of all ages who are in good physical health. Generally speaking, as long as someone doesn’t have an injury or medical reason to abstain from exercise, they can do HIIT.

Most of the time when people hear the word “HIIT,” it conjures up thoughts of doing box jumps, wind sprints, burpees and squat jumps. Ahhh, the glory days of every athlete. But HIIT encompasses a scope much broader than this. A”HIIT workout” may look very different for a 50-year old woman who is working with a trainer to get her heart rate up and down. She may power walk on a treadmill incline for her high-intensity portion and then do slow hip bridges lying on a mat as her active recovery. A 20-something group exercise participant may comfortably do lunge jumps with dumbbells for the high-intensity portion followed by sit-ups for the active recovery. Everything about HIIT, and exercise at large, is subjective.

What feels tough for one person is not the same for the next person. Just because HIIT can be modified for an individual’s personal level of fitness doesn’t mean it’s the best idea for certain people. I’ve seen too many folks walk into HIIT-style workouts and overexert themselves to the point where they risk injury. No bueno. I’ve also seen plenty of people come out of HIIT workouts hating life. Well…hating exercise, at least. Sometimes that’s just what people need to get jump-started in fitness and, at other times, that’s exactly why people walk out of the gym and never return. The point remains: HIIT is great, but isn’t ideal for everyone.

 

 

Who Should NOT Participate in HIIT?

The following groups of people should probably avoid HIIT workouts, at least until their health changes:

  • People who are injured
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Women who are in the first 3-6 months postpartum
  • People who are immune suppressed and/or sick
  • People who have a heart condition or have recently undergone cardiac surgery
  • People suffering from osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • People with any form of incontinence, prolapse or pelvic floor weakness
  • *People who are brand new to exercise
  • *People who have no foundation of knowledge for how to perform exercise basics in proper form (ex: squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, etc.)

Most of these groups are relatively self-explanatory. The last two groups of individuals, marked by the asterisk (*) are up for a bit more debate…

People who are very out of shape or brand new to exercise can greatly benefit from HIIT programs. In fact, throngs of women line up to participate in Instagram-famous personal trainer Kayla Itsines’ Beach Body Guide (which focuses on HIIT workouts) and see fabulous results. More power to ’em! The challenge is that a lot of people will embark on HIIT workout programs that are overly grueling and unsustainable for the long-term. HIIT workouts must be done responsibly to avoid burnout and over-training. Trust me, I’m a professional AND I’ve overtrained! Unfortunately, too many people do too much HIIT, suffer the negative consequences, and subsequently get turned off from exercise.

The last group of individuals; “people who have no foundation of knowledge for how to perform exercise basics in proper form,” must approach HIIT workouts with caution. If the instructor isn’t giving cues for how to keep the body aligned and safe during each exercise and doesn’t offer any modifications to make exercises easier or harder, then it may be best to find a new instructor or workout. While it may seem like you’re getting a great workout if you sweat a lot, there can be long-term, significant repercussions from inappropriately stressing your knees, neck, wrists and back. Sweat is not the only indicator of an excellent workout. Can you tell that I’m the exercise world’s policewoman about proper form?! 

Just remember: Exercises done the wrong way break down your body. Exercises done the right way build it up.  

Stay strong, friends! Sweat hard. And treat your body with respect.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

PS – If you have more HIIT questions, please don’t be afraid to ask! 

 

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Wait, Food is NOT Fuel?

Precision Nutrition is a coaching, mentoring and support system that trains individuals to become Certified Nutritionists. These qualified professionals in turn help tens of thousands of people with their food choices and diet. To date, the Precision Nutrition coaches have helped 35,000 individuals lose over 450,000 lbs.! Precision Nutrition has advised companies like Nike, Equinox and Life Time Fitness, and has done consulting for sports organizations like the Seattle Seahawks and the USA Olympics. To put it simply, these professionals are on a mission. They have found excellent success in helping people achieve better health…and, yet, they don’t believe that food is fuel…hm…how can this be?

Girl at cafe

Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition recently published an article for fitness professionals called “No, Food is NOT Fuel.” Dr. Berardi writes:

“Something’s been bothering us lately. We keep hearing this analogy:

‘Food is fuel.’ You know, like gasoline.

And we keep hearing:

‘The human body is like a high-performance race car.’ You know, like a Ferrari.

So, you have to get enough fuel to run your car. Without getting too much, of course. Or else the Ferrari — uh, you — will get fat.

You also have to choose only really high-quality, high-octane, and expensive fuel. Or else the Ferrari — oh, right, you again — will gunk up and break down.

We’ve heard this analogy — this story — repeated over and over again. Ad nauseam.

And we think that’s a real problem.”

Sushi display

Why is this a problem?

For starters, if food were only fuel, and our bodies only cared about calories in versus calories out, then we could eat a handful of candy bars every day to get our “fuel” without negative consequences to our health. I’m trusting that readers are intelligent enought to figure out that this just simply doesn’t fly. 

How our bodies handle energy and gain or lose weight is far more complicated than this. Our bodies don’t just care about calories in vs. calories out for weight control. Our bodies are dynamic, complex organisms that are impacted by stress, oxidation, inflammation, hormones, the metabolism, and “toxins.”

Dr. Mark Hyman, author of New York Times Bestseller, Ultrametabolism, helps debunk the notion that food is merely fuel by highlighting “7 Myths that Make You Gain Weight.” These include:

1) The Starvation Myth: Eat Less + Exercise More = Weight Loss

Not always the case!

2) The Calorie Myth: All Calories Are Created Equal 

FALSE!

3) The Fat Myth: Eating Fat Makes You Fat

We need fat…big time.

4) The Carb Myth: Eating Low Carb or No Carb Will Make You Thin

We need all 3 food types: fats, carbs and protein.

5) The Sumo Wrestler Myth: Skipping Meals Helps You Lose Weight

Not ideal for metabolism, need we say more?

6) The French Paradox Myth: The French Are Thin Because They Drink Wine and Eat Butter

If only…

7) The Protector Myth: Government Policies and Food Industry Regulations Protect Our Health

Sadly…we’re not protected. 

As you can see, there’s a lot more going on inside our bodies than meets the eye. For this reason, you may actually eat more than usual and somehow LOSE weight! Or you may forego all the usual culinary temptations and suddenly GAIN weight!

Friends over food

Laura Ingalls, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, NASM Personal Trainer, and Certified Running Coach, wrote an article for Run Haven titled “I Trained for a Marathon and Got Fat.” For the record, I’ve run a few marathons myself. During the first one I lost too much weight and was malnourished…the second one, yup…you guessed it, I gained way too much weight.

Laura writes “unfortunately, food is about more than calories. Food is about nutrients.” Her three reasons for gaining weight, in spite of exercising more, include:

You are replacing calories but not nutrients.”

Ex: Too many carbs like breads/cereals/pastas but not enough healthy proteins for zoochemicals and fruits/veggies for phytonutrients.

You are hitting the sugar hard, and you don’t even realize it.”

Ex: Too many sports drinks and supplements to replace the lost energy and water. 

“You are overtraining, under-recovering, over-stressing, and thus over-taxing your endocrine system.”

Ex: Only getting 6 hours of sleep after a long training run and getting up early to hit the gym for another hour of hard exercise. 

Laura and I both gained weight because of #3. Honestly, when I look back on my former training mistakes, I can only thank my body for trying to protect me. It thought I was in a state of emergency! I mean, major sleep deprivation combined with high stress, labor-intensive work days, a lack of proper nutrition AND marathon training? Are you kidding me? I would never disrespect my body like that again. But, thankfully, biology sent me a strong signal with an added 12-15 lbs. of weight, primarily added in my mid-section and baby face (didn’t need the extra puff!), so I got the picture. After a mild panic attack (or two), I got back on track and learned the importance of nutrition for the first time in my life…and by “learned” I mean internalized why it’s so important.

Like me, everyone has heard of the importance of healthy eating and exercise. It’s not fresh-off-the-press news. But, somehow we have a much harder time implementing changes in nutrition compared with understanding why those changes are important.

Spices in spoons

Why is implementing changes in our diets so hard?

I have trained a few dozen women who have come to the United States from other countries and, for the first time in their lives, have packed on weight. Most of these women have been thin and small-framed their entire lives, so when they suddenly bloat and gain weight, it’s very alarming for them.

Part of their weight gain could be due to a difference in how fresh and organic foods are in their cultures compared to the heavily modified and pumped-with-preservatives foods that are in abundance here in America. But, I think an equally important part of the sudden weight-gain equation is due to how food is tied to our culture…our identity…

A lot of people fall into one of two camps when they go through a major life change that challenges their identity:

Food-Averse Anxiety

-or-

Emotional Munching

The first group avoids food and often loses energy and weight. The second group also loses energy but it’s because their bodies are getting overtaxed by too much food processing on a daily basis due to emotional overeating (it takes a toll on the body to turn food into fat stores!). These two juxtaposed relationships with food reflect how intimately tied food is to our emotions…and guess what? That’s okay.

Boat of food

Food is a part of our life story.

So, I implore you to think about the following question: “What does my food say about ME?

Does it reflect that you’re feeling shameful or joyful during this season of life? Does it give you comfort or cause you stress? Most importantly, Dr. Berardi suggests you ask yourself:

“What would you like food to be?”

Once you start delving into that answer, a whole new world may open up. And, it’s yours if you want it.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Tips to Kick a Cold (lend Mother Nature a hand)

I was sitting down last Friday morning to prepare for Monday’s blog post when a friend asked for some quick, simple steps for kicking a cold she felt coming on. I’ve been handed this question in between more sniffles than I can account for, so it makes sense to defer my original article for later and offer up a few simple suggestions for kicking the one thing that makes the depths of winter worse than they already are: a head cold.

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been told before that I’m a healer. Still deciding if I agree. If so, this isn’t because of mystical powers or celestial intervention. Not that I’m opposed to living out a Spiderman story of my own.

So, why can I help myself and others heal quickly? It’s because I’m a firm believer in the body’s ability to heal itself with proper rest, nutrition, and circulation…and when up against infirmity, I don’t belittle these essential lifelines. Or, for that matter, pop half a dozen pills and expect my body to “just deal with it.”

Nourish your body

Here we go…simple tips to lean on. If they don’t work, I’ll bring you chicken soup.

1) If you’re not having any digestive issues, try to eat as many greens as possible. Also berries, salmon, and mixed nuts have tons of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.

There have been numerous studies done on the benefits of nuts. Mixed nuts actually help reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious disease, annnnnddd RESPIRATORY disease! (We’ve all had a cold that’s moved from our heads to our chests…ouchy.)

2) Take a daily multivitamin as a nutrient safety net and a probiotic to build back the good bacteria in your gut. Make sure to consult with a doctor about the appropriate dosage for probiotics, especially if you’re on other medications.

Also, if you love your morning cup of java, try to leave your vitamins at the office to take at lunch or another time of day when caffeine isn’t in your system. Even though coffee can feel like your best friend, it actually reduces absorption of key vitamins and minerals (including Vitamin C and Zinc – crucial ones for your immune system)!

Coffee lover

3) Speaking of Zinc, this wonderful mineral is key for a healthy immune system. Oh yea, I said that already. It has been proven to shorten the duration of the common cold (whoopee!!!). If you’re like me, and you’re not chomping at the bit for oysters, lobster or red meat on a weekly basis, then you may not be getting enough Zinc. I do just love a juicy burger though.

A great way to get more Zinc during the onset of a cold is by taking Zinc lozenges. You can find these at most pharmacies near the throat drops. Zinc in the lozenge form tends to be easier on the stomach at non-meal times than a pill supplement.

4) Sometimes (when I’m super motivated), I will take Echinacea and/or have tea with it as an ingredient. Echinacea is a powerful herb that reduces the symptoms of colds by boosting the immune system. The jury is still out on whether it can also prevent colds.

If you want to find a robust tea, I suggest Yogi Teas. They are complex and delicious. They also evoke memories of my yoga studies in India…we had tea at least three times a day. The aroma of brewing tea wafted across the ashram, assailing my olfactory senses in fresh and delightful ways each day. Ahh, memory lane.

5) Did someone say India? Oh yes! I remember scarring you all a few months ago with visuals of me doing cleansings One of these cleansings is for your nasal passages. Cleaning them with a Neti Pot helps flush out debris and allergens. Your nose deserves a good cleaning just like your teeth!

It may be intimidating at first, but it will be worth it. You can pick up one at your local pharmacy. Quick tip: Don’t let your significant other watch…it ain’t pretty.

Chicken Soup

I hope these simple suggestions work wonders and help you stave off colds until spring allergies kick in! *Wink Wink* If not, the offer for chicken soup still stands…

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

 

References:

http://www.anti-agingfirewalls.com/2013/12/01/nuts-over-nuts/

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-981-echinacea.aspx?activeingredientid=981&activeingredientname=echinacea

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-pain-pressure-11/neti-pots

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc

https://www.yogiproducts.com/

 

This Girl CAN

Sport England, a UK government agency, found that 75% of women want to participate in sport and exercise but are afraid to get involved. Widespread hesitation stems from “fear of judgement” and “worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough.”

This is really upsetting news because the Women’s Sport Foundation has suggested that sport and exercise has a significant and positive impact on women’s physical and mental health. Women who have participated in sports are less likely to experience an early pregnancy and to be victims of domestic abuse. They also tend to have higher levels of self-esteem and confidence. Not to mention the plethora of other benefits.  

It’s imperative that as mature women, we decide to cast aside feelings of insecurity in order to live life to the fullest. We must rise to the occasion and start believing we can. Once we embrace movement and our bodies, future generations of women will feel the liberty and empowerment to do the same.

A lot of what helps us get involved in sports and exercise is finding something that’s fun. I have recently been honored with the opportunity to write a guest post for Fit Mommy Diaries, a blog that has roughly 2 million sets of mommy eyes on it every month. Whoa, mama – literally! My guest post implores women to find what sport or exercise works best for them:

“Keep trying out classes until you find one that you love! Also, try not to doubt your ability to get into the shape you want just because you found out that training for a half marathon isn’t your mojo. Try something else! There are plenty of exercises, classes, races, groups, and more to get involved with. Think of it like dating – you don’t have to settle for the guy who asked you out on your first date. Unless it’s life-long love, why would you?! First dates can be uncomfortable, stressful, and awkward. *Or am I the only one who experienced this?* Trying out new exercise routines can feel the same.”

To discover more about how to find a routine that is fun and how to balance it out with what your body needs, feel free to check out: http://bit.ly/1y8oODm. Sia, the fit mommy behind the blog, is a shining example of a woman who is brave and willing to be up close and personal in order to inspire other women. Now, we’re not all going to have Sia’s impressive toned abs, nor do we all need to share what we might prefer to keep personal, but we must, must, must believe we can.

Check out this 90 second video by Sport England that is rapidly spreading across the web…ironically, it’s titled “This Girl Can.” How fitting. It will make you feel like getting up from your desk or chair to do a victory dance. This is what real women look like when they work out. It’s awesome. 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

 

References:

http://fitmommydiaries.blogspot.com/2015/01/featuring-guest-blogger-fellow-personal.html

https://www.sportengland.org/our-work/national-work/this-girl-can/

http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/