Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are you cheating yourself?

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I often use this line as motivation: “You’re only cheating yourself.” I usually then tell the short story about the personal background for this line: today, I’ll tell the story in more than just two sentences: 
I began swimming competitively at age 5 when I begged my mom to let me join my 3 sisters in the pool. Seventeen years later, I was finishing up my career as the team captain of the Army Swim Team. Throughout those 17 years, I had lots of different coaches (Army Brat), but I can pretty much guarantee they all used that line at least once: “You’re only cheating yourself”. Swim coaches, just like coaches of many other sports, give you a set and trust you to finish it completely while they are working with other teammates. Before we set off on a dreaded set of 100x50s (ok, that’s a rare training camp set, but it happens), coach would look us in the eyes and say, “Keep count, remember, you’re only cheating yourselves if you cut corners.” Well, to be honest, that never really meant anything to me at the time. I loved swimming and I loved competing, but I don’t like pain, so there was always a pain threshold that I just wouldn’t cross: if it started to get painful, I would slow down or maybe (don’t tell) not finish the last two 50s, I’m just saying.
It wasn’t until several years later, when I finally got mentally ready to lose weight and get fit, that I realized what the quote means. Now that I was no longer required to be at swim practice for 2 hours or conducting PT (physical training) for an hour each day, it was up to me to ensure that the time I put into working out is effective and efficient. Maybe this also has something to do with how time becomes more precious as we get older. Regardless, now that I’m actually doing squats and lunges so that I can have nice legs and butt, I really don’t want to cheat anymore. I have a goal and I’m going to put in the effort to reach that goal. 
So, I often tell my clients: “You came here, make it count” and of course, “Don’t cheat on this lunge, it’s your time, you’re only cheating yourself!” 
GI Joe giving it his all in the
Miami ING Marathon
I only wish I’d realized this during my swimming years...I often think I just might have been a better competitor! :)
When you head to the gym today, remind yourself that it’s your time, don’t waste it and don’t cheat yourself! Have a Fit day!
~ Samara

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Three White Stripes?

This is a funny (and all too reoccurring) story, tell me if you've heard it (or even better, lived it): You workout and shower before work. You're rushing around the bathroom to get ready so you can fly out the door. You have flashbacks of three white stripes of deodorant on your nice blouse from pulling it over your head. You look at your deodorant and say, "you can't outsmart me, I'll put you on AFTER I put my shirt on!" You put your shirt on and reach for your deodorant when you see your toothbrush. "Man, are my teeth fuzzy!" Grab it and brush away. Next is the  the makeup and , if you're lucky, your hair (yes, you know I'm talking to). Then, you grab your protein bar and run out the door. So, you know where this is going; but, if you're me, it's usually not until about noon that I realize I've forgotten it at all! GI JOE loves this (ok, he really doesn't, he just shakes his head in disappointment - because I really think he secretly LOVES those three white stripes! haha). Have any of you found yourselves in this situation? Well, unfortunately, other than stashing a spare deodorant with you at work, I still haven't solved how to remember to put it on....however...I did want to talk about antiperspirant today! :) So, here we are...
Yes, I'm a couponer...
no brand loyalties, but lots in stock!
Some of you have been with us the past week as we discuss fighting the growth of cancer cells in our bodies on a daily basis; if you just joined us here and here to catch up. You've probably heard before that aluminum in our antiperspirants is not exactly awesome for our bodies. I'm going to quote from Dr. Servan-Schreiber here on his hypothesis on this: "what most women do is they shave their armpits under the shower then they dry off, and when they're dry, they apply the antiperspirant. Now when they shave, they created little leaks in their skin which allows the aluminum to be picked up [by] the lymphatic system and brought to the breast gland where it might produce inflammation and perhaps contributes to the growth of an existing cancer. We don't think it can cause cancer, but it might contribute to the growth of an existing cancer. Now this is still a hypothesis and it is not proven." Well, even if it's not proven, it makes enough sense to at least give it a thought.

Well, if you're like me, you've tried to make the switch to regular ol' deodorant. But when you exercise a lot (read: SWEAT) like us, you just NEED antiperspirant to not become European (no offense meant, I just grew up in Germany, so am familiar with this particular scent ;). - Return from flashback. - Until they come up with an antiperspirant that does not require aluminum...we're kind of stuck. So, what precaution can we take? Our skin is porous by nature, so whatever we put onto it is going to seep through (have you thought of that regarding all of your skin care products? but that's a topic for another day). But, remember the BALANCE we talked about last week. Making a small change to offset, or cut back on, the impact, can make a difference. So, next time you shave your armpits, maybe think about waiting a few hours to put on the antiperspirant. Hey, at least now you'll (read I will) have an EXCUSE why you didn't put it on until noon. ;)

Note: a link between aluminum in antiperspirant and increased breast cancer has NOT been proven. There are some good research studies showing the other side of the argument on the National Cancer Institute site. However, believe what you will and remember, find BALANCE in everything you do in find your Healthy Edge on life!

~ Samara

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two ways to put up the fight against cancer in your body this week

If you joined us yesterday, you know we're talking about ways to put up a good fight against cancer. Now, that might not be on the forefront of your mind, especially if there hasn't been a history of cancer in your family - And That's Great! But we can all take these small steps to living a more healthy lifestyle and, hey, if we fend off cancer in the meantime, then why the heck are we not doing them???!

Note: I'm not going to get all sciency on you, so if you want the research and background click here.

We talk a lot about BALANCE here (and even when we're not on here - we try to live and, yes talk about, BALANCE). In everything we do, we try to find a good BALANCE between what is good for us and what we can maintain in our lifestyle. So, here are two things that you should be able to incorporate in your (busy?) life to promote both a healthy and cancer-free lifestyle:

Eat your Veggies and Herbs!
1. Eat more veggies! Yep! You knew that was coming right? Haha! There's no mystery here; veggies can stimulate the immune system and rid our bodies of carcinogens. What are some effective anticancer veggies? Cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, GARLIC (yes, GI JOE**, you read that right!), onions, and leeks! And if you pair these veggies with delicious herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, or basil, you simply compound the goodness!

2. Here comes another shocker: EXERCISE! (did you see that one coming too?) Regular exercise helps to eliminate carcinogens from our bodies and strengthens our immune system at the same time! Does anyone NOT want those two side effects?

Exercise Regularly
Okay, so we're probably not telling you anything you didn't already know. But it's good to be reminded why we do the things we do (ie. get up at 5am to run 3 miles before work and take the time to steam up a nice pot of broccoli to go with our...hamburger...I mean salmon! 

But that brings me back to my point on BALANCE! I would never tell you to cut that greasy hamburger completely out of your life (well, because I will honestly never cut it out of mine). But, I would recommend that you think about how often you have that hamburger and fries (oh, did I not mention the fries before?) and offset it with some veggies to fight off the ill-effects that burger and fries caused (Take a gander at Too Much of a good thing for notes on why you want to offset that burger and fries).

Today, try to think about balance in everything that you do and see if it changes your perspective. Let us know!

~ Samara

**Note 2: I've decided to refer to ME (my better half) as GI JOE from now on. He likes that name for Words with Friends (and it gets him a LOT of lady opponents) and I figured it's all in all a better nickname. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Too much of a good thing?

My new boss suggested a great read this week. It's a transcript of David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, giving a lecture here in Houston at MD Anderson, a medical center with the mission to "eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world." His lecture included interesting results in anti-cancer research and I'm going to share a few with you over the next few days. If you are interested, you can read the transcript for yourself for all the details and research footnotes. He has also written a book on this, Anti Cancer: A new way of life, that is now on my reading list.

The basis of his lecture is that there is research that proves that not only do genetics factor into the risk of cancer, but increasingly so does our diet and lifestyle! Go figure!
Omega Essential Fatty Acids are, well, essential to our bodies!

The most interesting fact that I took from his lecture is the imbalance we have in our diet of Omega-6 and Omega-3s. We hear these thrown around all the time: "Make sure you get your Omegas!" Ok, great, but why? Well, these are essential fatty acids that our body needs, but cannot manufacture on it's own, so we have to get them from food. These days, so many of us do; we eat salmon and eggs, we take fish oil, we may even add flax seed to our yogurt or smoothies. But, what we need to also be aware of is the imbalance of Omega-6s over Omega-3s? What? Too much Omega-6 could be harmful to us? Well, research shows that when the ratio is out of whack (i.e. too much 6), the risk of cancer increases!

Look for eggs and dairy high in Omega-3
So, guess where the ratio is out of whack? In meats and dairy from grain fed animals, in eggs from grain fed chickens, vegetable oils (such as corn and sunflower) and the ever-dreaded trans fats. So, if you still were looking for a reason to switch to grass-fed beef and Omega-3 eggs/milk, here you could decrease your risk of cancer.

Another great thing I took from his article is that he realizes that we’re humans and we have to find what works for us. We’re not perfect and we are probably not going to be able to eat eggs high in Omega-3’s every chance we get or make sure our salad dressing from the restaurant is made from Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, we can do our best to choose the best possible whole foods as often as we can to make a difference.

Of course, there are many more things we can do. Think of it as a balance. Just like offsetting your carbon footprint, make it your goal to offset or bring balance to your diet when you can. Come back tomorrow to see how we can find balance!