– Bugs Bunny
Orginially published on Muscleandstrength.com
It’s likely our species survived because of our knack for detecting danger. But our worry-filled thoughts can present dangers of their own: Thinking negatively can drag down our moods, our actions and even our health.
Experts say it’s worthwhile—and possible—to learn how to think more positively.
Consider what researchers found about the benefits of staying positive:
Foster Optimism – Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible-and it gets easier with practice.
If you want to pump up your optimism, you might:
Practice Gratitude – Noticing and appreciating the positives in our lives offers a great mood boost.
To increase your gratefulness, you can:
Avoid Negative Thinking – If you want to feel positive, it pays to decrease the downers in your life. With practice, you can resist worrisome thoughts and perhaps even transform your internal critic into more of a cheering squad.
Reviewed by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD
Originally published on Liveyourlifewell.org
Pilates can really make a difference in your health without taking a toll on your body.
By emphasizing proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and concentration on smooth, flowing movement, you become acutely in tune with your body. You actually learn how to control its movement.
In Pilates the quality of movement is valued over quantity of repetitions. Proper breathing is essential, and helps you execute movements with maximum power and efficiency. Last but not least, learning to breathe properly can reduce stress.
Pilates exercises develop a strong “core,” or center of the body. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle.
More conventional or traditional workouts are weight bearing and tend to build short, bulky muscles – the type most prone to injury. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.
In the same vein, a lot of these same conventional workouts tend to work the same muscles. This leads weak muscles tend to get weaker and strong muscles tend to get stronger. The result is muscular imbalance – a primary cause of injury and chronic back pain.
Pilates conditions the whole body, even the ankles and feet. No muscle group is over trained or under trained. Your entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, helping you enjoy daily activities and sports with greater ease, better performance and less chance of injury. That’s why so many professional sports teams and elite athletes now use Pilates as a critical part of their training regimen.
Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth, continuous movements. By developing proper technique, you can actually re-train your body to move in safer, more efficient patterns of motion – invaluable for injury recovery, sports performance, good posture and optimal health.
Many of the exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and most are low impact and partially weight bearing. Pilates is so safe, it is used in physical therapy facilities to rehabilitate injuries.
Pilates is also an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Get the workout that best suits you now, and increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves.
Originally published at Pilates.com
At Total Woman, we empower women to live their best lives everyday in a supportive, motivating environment. And what could be more motivating than having an Olympic athlete as a personal trainer? We got the unique opportunity to talk to Kristin Hedstrom, a personal trainer at Total Woman Alameda, to learn more about her exciting life and accomplishments, and what she does to teach, help, and guide others along the path to accomplishing their own goals.
Kristin, now an elite level rower, got her start back in 2000 during her freshman year of high school. She wasn’t an athlete at all growing up, even though her parents really tried to get her into sports. “I really hated the idea of going to a gym and sweating”, says Kristin, “I tried every sport in the book (and didn’t like any of them) before a family friend recommended that I come down to the lake and try rowing.”
She was instantly hooked – rowing was completely different from anything she’d done before and she loved getting to be on the water every day.
Kristin continued to row through high school and college and slowly worked her way up in the sport. By her junior and senior year in high school, her team was already winning medals at the national championship. She was then recruited to row at the University of Wisconsin, “An experience I absolutely loved”, she says.
During her time at the University of Wisconsin, her team won two national titles in 2006 and 2008. She had also started rowing on the Under-23 national team at that time, although she admits that her “first few international finishes were pretty terrible”. We think that any international finish is a great finish, Kristin! 🙂
Once she graduated from college, Kristin was too old to compete on the Under-23 team, but was not yet sure if she was ready to make the leap up to competing on the Senior team (the Senior team is the same as the Olympic team)! She decided to continue training her first year out of college and see where she ranked against all the veteran national team athletes. “I completely surprised myself”, she says, “by becoming the youngest person to ever make the priority boat for my weight class in my first year.”
From there, Kristin knew she wanted to continue competing at the elite level. She’s now represented USA at six World Championships and one Olympic Games. Highlights in her career include a silver medal at the World Championships in 2010 and 2013 (she just recently finished competing in Korea this past August!) as well as four World Cup medals.
“The Olympic Games experience was simultaneously similar and different than other races I’ve competed at”, recollects Kristin.
“The World Championships is the biggest, most important regatta of each summer in non-Olympic years, and they’re set up just like the Olympic was. You train the same way, travel with many of the same Team USA rowers, and see the same competitors as you do at the Olympics. However, the biggest difference with the Olympics is how much interest it generated. At the World Championships, only the rowing world is paying attention. At the Olympics, the whole world is paying attention. The crowds were huge, people were taking pictures of us all the time, and all of a sudden everyone wanted an interview. Usually we’re in our own rowing spotlight instead of the world spotlight. Friends I hadn’t seen since elementary school were emailing saying they saw me race on NBC primetime. You feel a lot more pressure to perform at the Olympics”, she says.
A typical day for Kristin involves 4-6 hours of working out, split into either two or three practices. In the mornings, she works on cardiovascular endurance by rowing out on the Oakland Estuary. Afternoons are more geared towards power, either through lifting or doing hard sprints on the rowing machine. Sometimes afternoons will be 2+ more hours of long, steady cardio.
Kristin came to Total Woman because, “I thought if I used to be unmotivated to work out (and also really disliked it) and was able to find reasons to love it, I could help others realize the same thing”.
“My own journey has taught me that we are way more powerful and capable than we believe we are. We just have to take a risk and see what happens if we take something further than we thought possible. A lot of times I meet women who think they’re permanently going to be junk-food eaters who dislike or are intimidated by the gym and think their health is only going to get worse with age. Seeing those same women take their lives back and find strength that they didn’t know they had – both physically and mentally – is so common with my clients and simply incredible for me to be part of”, she says.
“I’m all about people surprising themselves with what they can achieve”, continues Kristin. “It’s one of the most powerful motivators.”
Another reason Kristin loves working for TW is that it affords her the flexibility she needs with her own training. “A typical 9-5 job just doesn’t work with the volume of training I do. I can’t thank Heidi Dauberman, my PT supervisor, enough for supporting my rowing goals and helping me make this possible”, she says.
In terms of nutrition, Kristin says she has “learned that people underestimate how great they’ll feel if they eat healthier food”.
“I eat a ton of fruits and vegetables every day and try to eat as few processed foods as possible”, she comments.
To support her clients, Kristin posts a weekly healthy recipe on herwebsite so they constantly have ideas of how to put fresh, healthy foods together into meals or snacks (http://www.kristinhedstrom.com/this-weeks-fuel.html).
Visit Kristin’s blog and website at http://www.kristinhedstrom.com/index.html to learn more about her amazing accomplishments over the years.
We are so proud of you Kristin and it is an honor to have you as a part of the Total Woman team! Best of luck in all of your future endeavors, you are truly an inspiration!
Written by Madeline Harbach
Brown Bags Don’t Have to be Boring!
It’s Sunday night and, like millions of workers and students across the land, you’re once again rummaging through a cluttered refrigerator looking for something appetizing to pack for tomorrow’s lunch. Or worse, it’s Monday morning, and you’re grabbing whatever you can find—often predictable and boring, and not necessarily nutritious.
If this sounds like you, perk up! With just a bit of planning, you can pack a lunch with both nutrition and pizzazz. Try these tips to make your lunch-to-go filling and fun:
Pick a variety of foods. Include items with fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and crackers. Try to incorporate foods from at least three of the four major food groups: dairy, protein, fruits and vegetables, and bread and grains.
Choose healthier alternatives as much as possible. Go for less processed foods, which are lower in sodium, fat, and sugar. For example, a fresh apple is better than apple juice or apple pie; a turkey sandwich is leaner than a high-fat, bologna sandwich. When choosing chips or other salty snacks, go for baked rather than fried.
Convert leftovers into healthy lunch items. Last night’s pork roast can be cut up into chunks, then mixed with rice and vegetables for a satisfying midday meal. Access to a refrigerator and a microwave mean even more choices: you can have soup (look for low-fat, low-sodium brands or bring your own healthy homemade) or a salad with such touches as apples, raisins, sunflowers, nuts, jalapeño peppers, chickpeas, beans, cauliflower, corn or other vegetables.
Think both thirst and nutrition when it comes to beverages. Low fat or skim milk boasts protein, calcium, and riboflavin; fruit juices (look for 100 percent juice) have various vitamins and minerals as do vegetable juices, but beware—they’re often saturated with sodium. Likewise, beware of sugary fruit drinks (whose vitamins comes from fortification). But try not to forget that old standby, water—the healthiest drink of all.
Break out of predictable patterns. The old sandwich, chips, and cookie combo is a hard routine to break. Instead, vary the items you pack from each food group. Instead of basic white bread, for example, try bagels, rolls, tortillas, pitas, English muffins, or multigrain bread. For meat, swap a veggie sandwich made with green onions, carrots, artichokes, or cucumber slices. Vary condiments and spreads too—try yogurt or hummus spreads, which not only have high nutritional value but are also a tasty change of pace.
Pamper your taste buds. If the thought of plain produce makes you cringe, try pairing raw vegetables or fresh fruits with appealing condiments, such as yogurt or ranch dip, cream cheese, etc.
Avoid prepackaged cheese-and-crackers and similar treats. Besides being overpriced, they’re generally high in sodium, fat and calories. Instead, create your own! This way you know exactly what you’re getting, and you can choose healthier versions, such as wheat crackers.
Making your midday meal a healthy one can be a challenge, especially if you’re stuck at the office. But with a little planning and a dollop of creativity, you can enjoy a nutritious break—one that’ll fuel you throughout the rest of your hectic day.
Written by Rebecca Pratt
Originally published at Sparkpeople.com
Not all warm-ups are created equal.
Somewhere between lacing up your sneaks and starting your first set of squats, you face the most important decision of your workout: Warm up, or not? There’s a good chance you just skip it. After all, you can barely carve out a 30-minute workout window. Who wants to waste one valuable calorie-torching minute on tedious knee hugs and neck rolls?
But the short-term investment pays off big-time if you do it right. “The best way to warm up is with dynamic stretching,” says Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University in Baltimore. This stretches a muscle at its full range of motion (a body-weight lunge is a great example).
Dynamic stretching increases flexibility, improves blood flow, and decreases your risk of injury and your recovery time. Translation: Your workout will feel easier, and you’ll see faster results. This three-part dynamic warm-up from Tumminello gets your heart rate up, your muscles prepped, and your body seriously ready to turn heads.
1. Turn It On: Nervous System Activation (Moves 1-3)
Even if your brain is saying “Bring it!” your muscles aren’t ready to work when you first hit the gym. Your central nervous system, which controls movement and activity, is basically in “power save” mode (blame it on a day at the desk or hours in front of the TV). So before you jump into a workout, your brain needs to signal your body that it’s time for quick, explosive activity. These moves kick your nervous system into high gear by calling your coordination into action while raising your heart rate and body temperature. The result: Your muscles respond more effectively during your workout.
2. Up the Ante: Muscle Engagement (Moves 4-6)
Now that you’ve got your heart pumping, this phase will turn on weak and underutilized muscles: glutes, abdominals, hip flexors, and lower and upper back muscles. These “core muscles” are responsible for maintaining stability and control in your joints while you move. Forgetting to activate these muscles raises your risk of injury.
3. Push Further: Dynamic Mobility (Moves 7-9)
For the finale, you’ll increase the range of motion at your joints, while improving the flexibility in your large muscle groups from head to toe. And that’s a big deal: When your mobility is compromised by stiff muscles, you spend more energy during your workout fighting against your body’s limitations, rather than burning calories.
Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides (a). As you raise your arms above your head, jump up just enough to spread your feet wide (b). Without pausing, quickly reverse the movement. Continue for a total of 10 to 15 reps.
Stand with your feet more than hip-width apart and your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder level (a). Simultaneously cross your arms in front of your chest and jump up just enough to cross your right leg in front of your left (b). Without pausing, quickly reverse the motion and return to the starting position. Repeat, crossing your left leg in front of your right. Continue alternating feet for a total of 10 to 15 reps.
Stand with your feet more than hip-width apart and your arms extended in front of you, palms together (a). Keeping your hips square and your core engaged, rotate your upper body to the right so your arms are in line with your right shoulder (b). That’s one rep. Quickly reverse, twisting all the way to the left so your arms are in line with your left shoulder. Continue alternating as fast as you can for 30 to 40 reps.
Bending at your hips, lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor, arms hanging from your shoulders (a). Raise your arms out to shoulder height, bending your elbows 90 degrees (b). Without moving your elbows, rotate your forearms up as far as you can (c). Reverse the motion to return to start. That’s one rep. Do 12 to 14.
Kneel and place your elbows on the floor, bent 90 degrees. Slide your left hand forward and stretch your right leg behind you until both are straight (a). Raise your left arm and right leg as high as you can, forming a straight line from your fingertips to your toes (b). Hold for two seconds, then return to start. That’s one rep. Do 12 to 14 on each side.
Start at the top of a pushup (a). Keeping your abs braced, pick up your right foot and slowly bring your knee toward your right shoulder (b). Hold for two seconds, then return to start. Alternate legs until you’ve done 12 to 14 reps (six or seven per leg).
Lie on your left side, with your right knee bent 90 degrees. Straighten both arms in front of you, palms facing each other (a). Keeping your left arm and both legs in position, rotate your torso to the right, until your right hand and upper back are flat on the floor (b). Hold for two seconds, then return to start. Do eight to 10 reps, then repeat on the other side.
Start in downward dog, palms and heels flat on the floor, back straight (a). Slowly bring your right foot between your hands (b). Rotate your torso to the right as you reach your right arm toward the ceiling (c). Reverse back to start. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating until you’ve done five or six on each side.
Stand with your arms straight in front of you (a). Step right and lower into a side lunge (b). Bring your left leg behind your right, lowering your knee toward the floor (c). Push off your left foot to stand. Do six to eight reps, then repeat on the other side.
Written by Jen Ator
Originally published at Womenshealthmag.com
Discover the best exercises and tools to lose weight, lower your injury risk and more!
You’ve found an exercise plan that works for you (no small feat!), so why change it? Over time, your body adapts to the same routine, decreasing your calorie burn as your muscles get better at doing those same moves over and over. Instead of plateauing, try these simple upgrades to kick things up a notch—and keep getting results.
Instead of: a pedometer
Try: a heart rate monitor
While a pedometer tells you how many steps you take, “if you want to burn more fat, you need to measure intensity,” says Guy Andrews, executive director of Exercise ETC, Inc., a fitness education provider in Fort Lauderdale, FL. And a heart rate monitor does just that. Strap one on and do your favorite cardio routine at a pace that causes breathlessness in two to three minutes. When it becomes difficult to speak, check your heart rate. “This is where you want to spend as much time as possible during exercise,” says Andrews.
Instead of: hula-hooping
Both hula hooping and Zumba use similar hip and core movements, but Zumba burns many more calories, says Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse concluded that Zumba not only improves cardiorespiratory fitness but also body composition,” which reduces body fat. Specifically, that study showed that Zumba burns an average of 475 calories in 50 minutes while hula-hooping burns 350 calories in that same time. Achieve your weight-loss goals more quickly by swapping out hooping for Zumba classes three times a week.
Instead of: an elliptical
Try: a treadmill
You may feel you’re burning more calories on the elliptical, but the treadmill offers bone-building benefits. “Every footstep you take creates an impact, which travels up your leg. Your hip absorbs it and becomes stronger and denser,” says Andrews. Because your feet remain in contact with the elliptical, you don’t get that impact. Besides, the calorie burn you get from a treadmill can equal what ellipticals offer: In a half-hour, expect to burn 215 calories at a moderate pace on an elliptical versus between 179 and 226 calories at 4 mph on a treadmill. Just check with your doctor before switching if you have osteoporosis. Otherwise, start slowly and gradually increase your speed and duration.
Instead of: group training
Try: one-on-one training