Monday, May 24, 2010

Journal your journey and goals!!!

Do you ever feel lost or that you're not moving forward in your fitness progress? Are you confused about where you've been and where you want to go? Did you fall off track and don't know where or how it happened? Do you want to get back on track but aren't sure where to pick back up? Are you cheating on your clean eating and not holding yourself responsible for the 2 pounds you gained in the past couple weeks?

I have a tip that may be the answer to all these questions if you apply it diligently, effectively, and honestly.....journaling!! Journaling can be used to record your feelings, how much weight you're lifting, your workout schedule, inspirational quotes, your eating schedule, your cheat meals, and anything else that either hinders you or propels you toward achieving the fitness and health goals of your dreams!

YOU, and ONLY YOU, are responsible for getting yourself where you want to be, and one of the best ways to hold yourself responsible is by recording all of the tiny details of your journey!

I want to share one of my favorite ways to use journaling....feel free to steal this! In fact, I encourage it! We all get tempted and have the urge to cave in to our cravings with the repercussions of feeling defeated and weak. I try and combat the cravings that lead to this feeling with journaling. Whenever I get the urge, I go to my journal and start giving myself a pep talk. Frantically, I start writing things like:

"You don't need it!"

"Prove you can do this, because you totally can!"

"Set a good example for those you care about!"

"You deserve to reach your goals and you're SO capable!!"

"Think about how you'll feel when you're done? Is it really worth it?"

"Look how well you're doing and how far you've come!!"
By the time I'm done writing down everything I can think of to fight the desire to sabotage my hard-earned progress, I've lost the urge to give in and I've renewed my motivation to keep pushing forward! I feel proud, strong, and energized!

So feel free to use journaling this same way, but also think about all the other ways you could use journaling. Write down your fitness program...record your weight and reps so you know where you were and how much to strive to do next time. Write down how you feel after cardio every day and whether you were able to go longer or harder than last time. Write down everything you're eating everyday. I find that when I'm writing everything I'm eating down, I cheat less because I really don't want to have to write "Ate 1 piece of chocolate cake" in my food journal for the day!

Write down all the comments, compliments, tips, and advice you get from other people to help keep you motivated. Post pictures from your fave fitness magazine in your journal to look at when you need an extra push to get your workout in.

Now...there are times when we all give in to temptation (I'm more than human and have done it, too), but there's absolutely no such thing as failure or defeat...even though it may feel like it. Journaling can help you record your feelings and circumstances so that you can learn how to best deal with certain situations for the future. It can also help you get back on track and figure out where things went wrong so you can improve your situation.

See, there are endless possibilities for journaling! Just find what's going to work best for you so you can reach your goals! I'd love for you to share with me any ideas, tips, and advice you've thought of for journaling to help your fellow readers, so please leave a comment!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Importance of Water!!!!

It's likely that the only reason you think you need to drink water is to stay "hydrated," but you might not truly understand what this means. Let's delve into the meaning behind hydration and just why you need to drink so much plain, "boring" water.
  1. Your body is made up primarily of water. When you're properly hydrated, about two-thirds of your body is water—muscle tissue is even higher, at around 70 percent, while fat is less. Muscle powers your body and fat protects it. Put two and two together, and you may infer that water is vital to the things that make your body do stuff. When you don't drink enough water, your body declines into a state we call dehydration. Get too dehydrated, and your body will not function properly, which isn't too surprising when your body's low on such a vital nutrient. (Your body can be as much as up to 65 percent water!)
  2. AppleYou don't need to drink 65 percent of your weight in water each day. This is because, one, if you lost all the water in your body, you'd be dead, and two, that water makes up most of all the living things on our planet. Since we eat living—or recently alive—things, we get some water from the things we eat. When we cook things, they lose their water. This means that the more raw whole foods you eat, the less water you need to drink. Fruits and veggies lead the group of water-rich foods and contain around 95 percent water. If you eat a lot of plants, you can drink less water. But if you don't . . .
  3. There is more to hydration than just your water levels. Chemicals in your body react with water so that you can function. We lose water in the form of sweat, and sweat is made up of water and body "salts," which are mainly sodium, chloride, and potassium, but they also include magnesium, calcium, and so on. These are called electrolytes and, basically, are the reason that salt is such a vital component in your diet. Salt is a mixture of sodium and chloride, but generally, we use the term "salts" in reference to electrolytes. Too much salt is bad and too little is bad. Both can kill you. This is why, like water, the amount you consume should be directly related to the workload your body is put under. More exercise equals more sweat, meaning that you need more water and more salt.
  4. Woman with a Bottle of WaterWhat about water weight? Some people are afraid to drink a lot of water because they're afraid of gaining "water weight." This is the opposite of what you should do. Water weight is a term for your body holding on to excess water because it's not getting enough. The best way to get rid of water weight is to drink more water. It works two ways. If you don't drink enough water or if you eat too much salt in your diet, your body hoards water. This water/salt relationship is referred to as your electrolyte balance.

    Generally, there's an easy way to tell if you need more water or salt; because most people drink too little water and eat far too much salt—especially those who eat in restaurants. So when you aren't exercising, you almost never need more salt. When you are exercising, getting enough salt becomes an issue. Endurance athletes are ever aware of the need to have enough salt to avoid a condition called hyponatremia, a condition that results when you've had too much water and not enough salt, basically just dehydration from a different angle. Those who don't exercise outdoors excessively almost never have to worry about this condition.
  5. So what does water do for you? You'll often hear claims that water helps chemical reactions, regulates your body temperature, and lubricates your joints, eyes, and spinal cord. Sure, it does all of this stuff. In fact, since you're mostly made up of water, a case can be made that it does almost everything. So why split hairs? Your body doesn't work, at all, without being fed a lot of water. You can live days, weeks, and, sometimes, even months without food. But you can't live even a few days without water.
  6. Woman SneezingItchy skin. Dry skin. Constipation. Sneezing. Dry cough, headaches, nosebleeds, and acne. These are common ailments related to drinking too little water. Since water regulates your body's functions, it makes sense that minor glitches in bodily functions may be related to not drinking enough water. And this is just a partial list of common ailments. Many symptoms blamed on allergies are probably due to living in a dehydrated state. When you are properly hydrated, your body can better defend itself.
  7. The above symptoms may be worse in the winter. Water is required just to breathe, and you lose water through your mouth and lungs. During winter, when the air is dry, more water is required. Add forced heat in the air—like from home heating systems and fires—and the situation is exacerbated. This means that you need to drink extra water in the winter when it's cold, even though you are probably less thirsty.
  8. Water and your immune system. During winter, lack of water will dry out the mucous membranes of your lungs, gut, and sinus passages and lessen your resistance to disease. These barriers protect your body against bacteria, viruses, and pollutants when you're fully hydrated and intact. Allowing them to dry out could be the leading cause of the common cold and allergic symptoms, not to mention things like constipation, sinusitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and long-term diseases like hemorrhoids and colon cancer.
  9. Water and fat loss. We haven't yet discussed the importance of fat mobilization for energy and its relation to weight loss and effective exercise because, well, this is Nutrition 911 and that sounds complicated. Anyway, water is the main component of this action. A well-hydrated body has higher levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, translating into an increased ability to burn fat as fuel. The more efficiently you burn fat as fuel, the more effectively you exercise, leading to a better overall body composition.
  10. Hot DayHow much water? It's said you need about 8 glasses of water a day. However, this will vary due to your activity level and environmental conditions. As a general rule, add a couple of glasses during the hot days of summer and the dry, cold nights of winter. During exercise, you may lose a quart an hour or more. While all liquids provide water, sugar, diuretics (caffeine, etc.), and carbonation reduce the hydration effect. Combining all three, as in soda, can reduce the hydration efficiency of the liquid to almost nil.

Monday, May 3, 2010

 Letter to the Never-been-to-Yoga-at-the-Intermediate-or-Higher-Level-Class Student because it fits in your Schedule or Whatever.




Dear New Student,

Welcome! Happy to meet you! 

What’s that?  You’ve never done yoga before and you had knee replacement surgery last month? Thank you for letting me know.

Please note that this is an intermediate level class. I very strongly recommend taking at least a few fundamentals of yoga classes before a more advanced class such as this one. Classes labeled for “beginners” are truly helpful for students of all levels of physical fitness and will give you a good foundation in alignment and breath.

I’ll do my best to give variations and modifications during class. Ultimately, you are your own best teacher. Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right for you today, then please don’t do it. You can rest at any time and for any amount of time. Honestly! If you are having difficultly maintaining a steady breath, it’s a good sign that you’re forcing your body to do something it probably isn’t ready to do yet.

This is a practice. It’s ongoing. The only thing you have to do is breathe. Everything else is optional!


Teachers, does this happen in your yogasana classes often? It seems that no matter how many modifications I offer, new and injured students often attempt the most challenging poses and variations. But hey, strivers are going to strive. (Strivers, you’re wonderful just as you are!) What are your tips for keeping these students safe? And students, what is a helpful, non-condescending way to be advised against doing something?
BIO: Sherry French loves beginners. Y’all are welcome and appreciated! But she really wants you to be safe. When she says child’s pose, she means you! If you’re going to do the crazy stuff, do it somewhere else. Not on her watch!