Archive for the tag - balance

Study: Exercise Helps Work-Life Balance.

**EXCLUSIVE** A shirtless Kellan Lutz goes on a rigorous workout by the beach in LA - jogging along the boardwalk before showing off his skills on the ringsEveryone knows that exercise is good for your mind. And most of us know that exercise helps the brain, too. But a fascinating new study shows that exercise can help balance out conflicts in life – like the push and pull of work and family life.

The study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Human Resource Management, surveyed 476 working adults about their exercise behavior and their confidence in handling conflicts at home and in the work place. The adults worked an average of 40 hours per week, and just under a third had at least one child at home.

According to the findings, the participants who exercised regularly experienced a greater feeling of competence. This feeling of competence carried over into other areas of life, including work and home. Russell Clayton, author of the study, noted:

We found that [participants] who exercised felt good about themselves [and] that they could accomplish tough tasks…

In other words, these participants felt empowered to handle and manage the difficult situations and conflicts that most of us encounter in life.

Of course, this study isn’t hard evidence. And it doesn’t necessarily prove a cause and effect relationship between exercise, empowerment and work-life balance. Instead, it’s a good starting point… and another reason not to skip the gym today.

Is It Okay to Cheat on Your Diet Sometimes?

stackOfDoughnutsI get a lot of emails and questions about cheating on a diet or nutrition plan.

First things first, I’m not a big fan of the word “cheating.” It’s a loaded word and one that we often associate with dishonesty in a relationship. After the cheating comes the guilt, and then the guilt inspires nothing but feelings of shame and more negativity. Such downward cycles can be very destructive in any aspect of life – and food is no exception.

In fact, many people turn to food as a way to soothe and comfort, and thus the very act of cheating can create a cycle of binging, unhealthy choices and even more guilt. And even more binging.

You get the idea.

Instead of giving yourself cheat days, I’ve always said that it’s really about creating balance. Most of the time, eat the nourishing foods that your body needs. Eat the lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains that provide the nutrients and energy to fuel your life. And then some of the time, indulge in those foods that you crave.

I’ve always espoused the 80/20 rule for newbies. Eat healthy 80% of the time. It’s a great way to create balance in your life. After all, if you resist an unhealthy food that you crave – you’ll probably just crave it even more. The more you say to yourself, “I can’t eat ice cream,” the more you’re thinking about ice cream. And the more you think about ice cream, the more you’ll crave it.

Here’s the catch. Pay attention to how your body feels after the indulgence. How does your body feel after you eat the ice cream? Even without feelings of guilt or shame, our bodies don’t respond well to unhealthy foods. You may feel sluggish, tired or even slightly ill. When you pay attention to how unhealthy foods make your body feel, you may discover that you crave those unhealthy foods a little less.

Over time, the 80/20 rule may even become the 90/10 rule. Who knows?

In the comments below, share your favorite cheat balance food. Mine is pepperoni pizza. Mmm.

Orthorexia: Healthy Eating Taken to the Extreme.

A few months ago, I went out to dinner with a very healthy and very picky friend. While I do my best to uphold a relatively healthy diet, this friend makes me look like Ronald McDonald by comparison. We met up with two of his friends – and shockingly, their diets were even more restrictive!

At one point, the waiter brought over a complementary bowl noddles. All three of the men erupted in laughter at the idea of eating noodles – as they contain refined grains and were cooked in oil. “More for me,” I thought to myself – and, to the surprise of the men, I dug in. For the record and much to their dismay, I also took home the leftovers.

Eating healthy is one thing. But like anything else, it can be taken to the extreme.

When people become obsessed with eating healthy, and avoiding foods with artificial colors, preservatives, unhealthy fat, added salt or sugar, doctors are using a new term called “orthorexia” to describe the disorder. In Greek, “orthos” means proper and “orexia” means diet.

Orthorexics are obsessed with food selection – and eating in restaurants can become impossible. It can result in isolation, the inability to take part in everyday activities and extreme intolerance of others’ food choices.

While I doubt the men at dinner were truly orthorexics, it’s easy to see how healthy eating can get out of control. Even when healthy things – like a good diet or working out – become an obsession, it’s still an obsession. And it’s important to seek out professional help.

Do you know anyone who is obsessed with healthy eating? Has it taken control of their life? Let me know in the comments below.

Holiday Fitness Tip: Just Say “No.”

Carlos Freire: Someone to whom I'd definitely say "yes."

I’m a big fan of saying “YES!” to life. But that doesn’t mean saying “yes!” to everything that comes along with it. It’s important to be the best version of yourself – and that doesn’t happen when you’re over-committed and stretched too thin.

With the holidays around the corner, striking a balance and keeping yourself prioritized can be a real challenge. But to that end, saying “no” can be a powerful way to make everything a little easier.

Diane Petrella, a friend of mine who happens to be a spiritual weight release coach (check out the wonderful resource that is Diane’s website), recently touched on the topic in one of her newsletters:

As simplistic as this may sound, putting yourself first this holiday season, and always, ensures that you remain happy, healthy and strong.

I’m not referring to a self-righteous, entitled sense of doing for yourself at the expense of anyone else. I’m referring to valuing the importance of honoring your needs. When you adopt this attitude, you not only have the energy and happiness to fuel yourself, you’re better able to be there for others.

Saying “no” gets easier with practice – and it need not be rude or abrasive. Just politely decline any requests that don’t serve your highest good, and know that your decision is in the best interest of everyone.

The fitness and nutrition implication is a strong one. Diane writes:

When you put yourself first by learning to say “no” and setting loving boundaries on your time and responsibilities, you honor your needs. And when you honor your needs, you’re less apt to feel resentment, frustration and anger which often triggers emotional eating.

As the holiday season quickly approaches – and as our schedules get all the tighter – put the power of “no” to work for you. By doing so, you’ll have the energy and balance to navigate this holiday season with ease and grace.

Study: Does Yoga Work?

Yoga has become increasingly popular - but does it really work?

Since I’m on a week-long yoga retreat at the Kalani center in Hawaii, I thought it’d make sense to talk a bit about yoga – and whether or not it works.

In the last few decades, yoga has become increasingly popular. And though many people, myself included, could point to personal or anecdotal evidence about its effectiveness, this several thousand-year-old tradition hasn’t been extensively researched.

Sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, and led by Dawn Boehde and John Porcari, Ph.D., researchers at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, set to change that. For their study, researchers divided sedentary women into two groups and subjected each individual to a battery of fitness tests. The first group continued their inactive lifestyle for the duration of the 8-week study; the second group participated in three 55-minute yoga classes each week for two months.

After the full 8 weeks, each group was again tested. Not surprisingly, fitness measures didn’t improve for the inactive group. But for the yoga group, marked improvements were discovered in flexibility, strength, endurance and balance.

Flexibility increased from 13 – 35% for the yoga group. Strength and endurance likewise increased, especially in the core and chest; participants were able to perform 6 more push-ups and 14 more curl-ups at the end of the study. With an average one-legged stand time increase of 17-seconds, the yoga group saw improvements to balance as well. As many yoga classes aren’t cardio intensive, participants didn’t experience improvements to their aerobic abilities.

Bottom line: For the average person, yoga is a great form of exercise that can yield tremendous benefits; yoga does, in fact, work – and it can be an essential and rewarding part of your workout program. It’s also worth noting that the study lasted only 8 weeks. While the gains illustrated in this study are tremendous, imagine the changes you’d experience in a year or more.

If you’d like to learn more about yoga, or if you’re interested in giving it a try, download Davey Wavey’s Underwear Yoga program. Through the two workout videos and accompanying materials, you can start reaping the benefits of yoga without even leaving your home. Namaste 🙂

It’s Called Balance – Not Cheating!

An equally delicious country boy special of a different sort.

Yesterday, before filming a BlogTV show with my friend Mike, we hit up one of the local diners. The menu was pretty much devoid of healthy options – and I decided to embrace it. I opted for the “Country Boy Special” complete with 2 eggs, 2 slices of toast, 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausages, 2 pancakes and home fries. I think it might more appropriately have been called the the “Coronary Carbohydrate Conundrum.”

As someone who generally eats healthy – and does my best to adhere to a lower carbohydrate nutrition plan – some might think that my indulgence was cheating. I hear people use that term all the time when talking about their diets. Every cupcake or milkshake or bacon cheeseburger is viewed as a deep betrayal. And while I understand where the idea comes from, I have to disagree.

When I eat something that’s unhealthy, I don’t look at it as cheating. For me, it’s balance.

And truth be told, when it comes to nutrition and fitness, no one individual choice has much of an impact. It’s the cumulative effect of many choices – made over and over again – that add up. Like going to the gym every other day for a year. Or eliminating ice cream as a dessert for six month. One “Country Boy Special” every now and again isn’t going to have much of a measurable impact.

Moreover, balance makes nutrition sustainable. If I had to go through life without ever eating a pancake, I’d be a very miserable and cranky human being. I don’t need a pancake every day, and when I do eat one, I don’t need to consume six. But a pancake every now and then – if that’s why you crave and enjoy – can be a very good thing. Especially if helps make your larger nutrition plan more sustainable, and helps keep you on track.

I refuse to feel guilt or shame about my eating choices and I encourage you to do the same. I think those negative emotions drag down our bodies and our spirits, and tend to backfire. I’m quite content with my “Country Boy Special” and the balance that it helped me strike.

8 Ways Exercise Keeps You Young.

Want to live a long, happy and healthy life? Research suggests that exercise might just be the fountain of youth for which you are searching.

Here are 8 age-defying effects of exercise:

  1. Faster metabolism – and less body fat. Your metabolic rate is the rate and which your body burns calories to maintain itself. As we age, this rate decreases by a few percentage points each decade until around age 50 – though the amount of food we eat, often does not. As a result, a slower metabolism is one reason (of many) that people tend to gain weight as they age. By combining both strength training and cardiovascular exercise with good nutrition, you can reverse this.
  2. Extends your life and it prevents debilitating disease and illness. Staying active has been linked to both an increase in longevity and decrease in diseases like type II diabetes and obesity. Exercise also has a positive effect on the body’s immune system, preventing illness like the flu or common cold which can become serious in older populations.
  3. Builds stronger bones. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, to create stronger and denser bones, you must put pressure on them. Just like our muscles, bones adjust to the stress put on them. Load bearing exercises and cardio like walking, running and step classes have been proven to increase bone density – making osteoporosis or breaks less likely. Exercises like swimming and cycling are less effective as they don’t put as much pressure on the bones.
  4. Younger cells. Researchers discovered that regular exercisers have longer telomeres – the DNA on either end of thread-like chromosomes. Telomere length is critical to the aging process – once telomeres get too short, cells stop dividing and die. This research suggests that the anti-aging benefits of exercise go all the way to the molecular level.
  5. Improved balance. Earlier in 2010, my grandmother lost her balance on the stairs and took a terrible fall. Though it’s been 10 months, she still walks with a cane and the whole ordeal has aged her greatly. Working out regularly helps improve balance and prevent falls – and there are a number of exercises that target balance specifically.
  6. Better flexibility. Yoga, or exercise programs that incorporate stretching, lead to dramatically improved flexibility. Like balance, flexibility helps prevent falls. And if you do take a tumble, being flexible can help minimize the risk of injury.
  7. More energy. Ever notice how you feel even more tired when you oversleep? Feeling tired and lethargic is often the result of being inactive. Endurance exercises improve stamina and energy.
  8. Improved mental health and brain functioning. Numerous studies have linked exercise to decreased stress, anxiety and depression and improved sleeping patterns and feelings of well being. Studies also show that exercisers perform better on mental tests than sedentary individuals.

Of course, if you extend the timeline out far enough, the survival rate for all of us eventually reaches zero. Exercise isn’t about escaping death; it’s really just about enhancing the quality and quantity of the time you spend on this planet. And more time on Earth = more time to share your love, touch lives and serve others.