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10 Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer

By Paige Waehner

We all need a little help with exercise sometimes, whether we’re just starting out or we’ve been at it for a long time. Still, there are people who shy away from personal training, unsure of what they’ll get out of the experience or whether it’s worth the money. There are a number of reasons people work with per trainers.  Some want an indivualized program so they can lose weight or get in shape while others simply need to be held accountable for their workouts.   Wherever you are in your exercise journey, a personal trainer may be just what you need to take it to the next level.

1. You’re Not Seeing Results-

If you’ve been exercising consistently for several weeks or months andaren’t losing weight or reaching your goals, hiring a trainer may be a good choice. A trainer can look at your current program and eating habits and help you see where you could make changes to create more effective workouts. A trainer can also help you determine if the goals you’ve set are realistic for you, hold you accountable for your workouts and help you stay motivated to exercise.  You may even find that you are getting results, just not in the way you expected, something a trainer may see more clearly from the outside.

2. You Don’t Know Where to Start-

Knowing how to set up a complete exercise schedule that includes all the activities you need to do – cardio, weight training and flexibility – can be overwhelming.  Add the time and knowledge it takes to choose exercises, weights, reps and sets and you may quit before you even start. This is where a personal trainer can be the biggest help.  He can help you maximize your time while keeping you within your own limits so you don’t overdo it. He can also help you set goals and map out a specific schedule so you know when, how and where you’ll fit in your workouts.

3. You’re Bored with the Same Old Workouts-

If you’re an experienced exerciser, maybe you haven’t considered working with a personal trainer. However, it can be a great choice if you need some variety in your workouts. A trainer can bring a fresh perspecitve and new ideas to challenge both your body and your mind. Even if you just do a few sessions or meet every few weeks, you’ll find it refreshing to have new workouts and new exercise toys to play with.

A trainer can also introduce new ways to exercise – Circuit training, different methods of strength training and different types of equipment you’ve never tried before.

4. You Need to Be Challenged-

If you’re like me, you tend to slack off on your workouts sometimes, especially when things get tough. A trainer can motivate you to push past those self-imposed limits, encouraging you to lift heavier, go longer and challenge yourself more than you would on your own. You’ll find it’s very hard to slack off with a trainer standing over you, telling you to do just…one…more…rep!  You may even find hidden strengths you never knew you had, which can motivate you even more.

5. You Want to Learn How to Exercise on your Own-

Even if your goal is to create your own workouts and exercise by yourself, hiring a trainer for a few sessions can be a great benefit for learning the right way to exercise. This is especially true if you want to learn more about the muscles in your body, theexercises that target those muscles and how to do those exercises with great form. Just a few sessions can teach you a lot about your body, how it works and how to train it in the most effective way.

6. You Need Accountability and Motivation-

Trainers come with built-in motivation. Not only are you investing money into your exercise program…you’re investing time as well. There’s nothing like a standing appointment to get your butt in gear for a workout. Not only that, a trainer provides some accountability so, even when you don’t have a session, you know your trainer will be asking if you did your planned workouts. Just knowing that may make it harder to skip your workouts.

7. You Have a Specific Illness, Injury or Condition-

If you have any specific issues like arthritis, heart disease, old injuries, etc., working with an experienced trainer (who works with your doctor, of course) can help you find a program to help heal injuries and avoid any further problems. It’s also a great idea to work with a trainer if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant and want a safe, effective workout to keep you healthy and fit.

Keep in mind that you want to find a trainer who has experience with your issues and make sure that trainer works closely with your doctor and/or physical therapist for the best experience.

8. You’re Training for a Sport or Event-

If you’re training for a marathon, a golf tournament or some other type of sport or event, an experienced trainer can help you figure out what you need to do to stay strong without taking away from your other training. She can also help create a training program and map out a plan for the coming event. Just make sure she’s experienced in the sport you’re training for since not all trainers do sport-specific training.

9. You Want Supervision and Support During Workouts-

Some people know how to exercise and they even know how to do the exercises correctly, but they like having a trainer around for support and supervision. If you’re lifting very heavy weights or need someone to help with partner-type exercises, working with a trainer might be a good choice for you. He can spot you during workouts and help you come up with a good training plan for your goals.

10. You Want to Workout at Home-

If you’d like to exercise at home but either don’t have a lot of equipment or aren’t sure how to use what you have, in-home personal training is an excellent choice. A trainer can show you exactly how to use what you have to get the best workout for you or she can bring equipment with her to give you a great workout. She can also make recommendations for equipment that will help you reach your goals.

Cutting Back On Carbs, Not Fat, May Lead To More Weight Loss


We’ve reported a lot this year about how there’s a major rethinking of fat happening in the U.S.

Turns out, eating foods with fat — everything from avocados and nuts to dairy fat — doesn’t make us fat.

But eating too many carbohydrates — particularly the heavily refined starches found in bagels, white pasta and crackers — does our collective waistlines no favors.

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine adds to the body of evidence that cutting back on carbs, not fat, can lead to more weight loss.

The low-carb group, which reduced their carb consumption to about 28 percent of their daily calories, lost almost three times as much weight as the low-fat dieters who got about 40 to 45 percent of their calories from carbs.Researchers at Tulane University tracked two groups of dieters for one year. The participants ranged in age from their early 20s to their mid-70s and included a mix of African-Americans and Caucasians.

The low-fat group lost about 4 pounds, whereas the low-carb group’s average weight loss was almost 12 pounds. Participants in the two groups were eating about the same amount of calories.

So, what kinds of meals were the low-carb dieters eating?Lydia Bazzano, one of the study authors and an associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane, says she had anticipated some difference in weight loss between the two groups. But the size of the effect — the nearly 8-pound difference in weight loss — was surprising, she says.

“Typically in the morning they were eating eggs,” says Bazzano. Other breakfast items included small portions of high-protein, high-fiber bread, with either butter or other kinds of oily spread.

As for lunch and dinner, the low-carb dieters ate lots of vegetables, salads and protein, including fish, chicken and some red meat. They had generous portions of healthy fats such as olive oils, canola and other plant-based oils.

Fat accounted for a sizable part of their diet: from 40 percent to 43 percent of their total daily calories, including about 12 percent from saturated fat.

Bazzano says with so many people still abiding by low-fat recommendations, a diet so high in fat might not sound like a good weight-loss strategy. “It’s not the general perception,” she says.

But, in fact, there are a spate of studies that have come to the same conclusion about the benefits of swapping a low-fat, high-carb strategy for a pattern of eating that emphasizes healthy fats and lower carbohydrate consumption.

It’s not just waistlines that respond. The low-carb, healthy fats approach has been shown to cut the risk of heart disease.

One big study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent, compared to a low-fat diet.

Research published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which compared a low-glycemic-index diet — which minimizes refined starches — with a more traditional low-fat diet, also documented advantages.

“We saw improvements in triglycerides, [good] cholesterol, and the possibility of lower chronic inflammation” among the lower carb group, JAMA study author David Ludwig of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital told us.

Here’s the fascinating part: Ludwig also found that when people stopped eating so many refined carbohydrates, they burned off about 150 more calories per day, compared to those eating a higher carb, lower fat diet.

“Too much refined carbohydrates — white bread, white rice, potato products — all the foods that crept into our diets as we’ve followed the low-fat craze has undermined our metabolism,” says Ludwig.

In other words, the high-carb, low-fat pattern of eating “caused us to become hungrier and burn off fewer calories,” he says.

What’s happening in the body when we follow this pattern of eating is still the subject of much research, but Ludwig says the thinking goes like this: Eating too many carbs can overstimulate the release of insulin and direct more calories into storage in the fat cells.

“It’s a double-whammy for weight gain,” Ludwig says. “We’ve been told for decades that if you don’t want fat on your body, don’t put fat into your body. It’s a very appealing notion, but the problem is it’s wrong.”

The Foam Rolling You Should Be Doing (But Probably Aren’t)

By Dr. Mercola

I love to share simple, inexpensive tricks you can use to get in better shape and take your fitness to the next level.

You don’t need an expensive gym membership to stay fit and healthy, especially if you build your fitness routine around items you can use in your own home (or use your own body-weight for exercises).

One tool that should be a part of your home gym (or your gym workouts, if you prefer!) is a foam roller.

They don’t have to be made of foam though. My favorite is actually a padded plastic roller called the Trigger Point Performance Foam Roller. This one doesn’t wear out over time and retains it shape to help you get the benefits.

Why Using a Foam Roller Is So Beneficial-

As its name implies, a foam roller is a large “log” made out of foam that helps your body to warm up for exercise and recover afterward. Among its many benefits are:

-Improved circulation

-Increased blood flow

-Releases muscle tightness

-Breaks down knots in your muscles

-Reduces pain

Using a foam roller is actually similar to getting a massage (only less expensive!). As you roll on it, fibrous tissue is broken down and circulation is boosted, helping to relieve tension and pain. When you perform various exercises with the roller it also helps to engage your muscles and build strength. Plus, because the foam roller is unstable, using it works your core muscles and helps improve balance. Many people wait to use a foam roller until they feel a tight spot in a muscle, then simply ‘roll’ it out. While this can be effective, it’s a mistake to regard the foam roller as only an occasional fitness tool. You can actually use it daily (even if it’s for just a few minutes) to help prevent trouble spots in your muscles from occurring.

Increase Your Range of Motion in Five to 10 Seconds-

Foam rollers are often used by therapists and athletes to mimic myofascial release treatments, which are typically used to help reduce muscle immobility and pain. Their effects can be quite significant, as one study found that using a foam roller on your hamstrings may lead to statistically significant increases in range of motion after just five to 10 seconds. Separate research also found that using a foam roller reduces arterial stiffness, which may indicate improved flexibility, and improves vascular endothelial function.

Older women who used foam rollers for balance training also showed improvements in dynamic balance after just five weeks, adding scientific credibility to the use of this incredibly simple fitness tool. My favorite is to combine the Trigger Point Foam Roller with the Power Plate. The vibration from the Power Plate is a powerful synergy with the foam roller and I seek to do that twice a day when I have access to a Power Plate. This combination can radically increase your range of motion and flexibility.

5 ‘Critical Rules’ for Foam Rolling-

Master trainer Josh Stolz recently shared what he calls the five most critical rules for getting the most out of your foam roller.

-Drink plenty of water first: This helps to keep your tissues hydrated and more pliable during rolling, so drink a large glass of water first.

-Use your roller for warm-ups and cool downs: Foam rollers are both a warm-up tool and a recovery tool. Try swapping out static stretches in your warm-up for foam rolling.

-Slow down: Avoid rolling too quickly; your movements on the foam roller should be slow and concentrated.

-Move in multiple directions: For best results, combine up-and-down, side-to-side and other directional movements to best work your muscles.

-Do it regularly– preferably daily: As mentioned, using the foam roller daily is an excellent tool for muscle maintenance, injury prevention and pain relief.

Try These Foam Roller Exercises-

Once you get your foam roller, what should you do with it? Try these sample exercises from Q by Equinox.

1. Lats “Position yourself on your right side with your right leg flat, knee bent 90 degrees, your left foot flat on the floor. Place the center of a foam roller beneath your right arm pit, perpendicular to your body, and extend your right arm straight, resting your left hand on the foam roller. (Reach that right arm as far as possible to create more of a stretch.) From this position, roll from your armpit about four inches down towards your waist, and back again, for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides; repeat.”

2. Shoulders and Pecs “Lie face down, resting your left forearm on the floor, legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Place one end of a foam roller under your right shoulder, extending arm straight out at shoulder height, forming a T with the roller. (Again, reach that straight arm as far as possible to create more tension.) In short movements, roll from your shoulder to right pec and back again, for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides and repeat.”

3. Thoracic Spine “Lie face up with feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. Center a foam roller beneath your mid-back or shoulder blades so that it is perpendicular to your body. (Note: You can move the foam roller up and down to target different areas of the thoracic spine while still doing the extension motion.) Extend arms out from shoulders at a 45-degree angle. Reach arms back behind you towards floor and back again for 30 seconds to a minute. Make sure that the lower back doesn’t extend—think about pushing the lumbar spine into the ground as you are reaching back.”

4. Calves “Sit with legs extended in front of you, and rest your lower right calf on the center of a foam roller that’s perpendicular to your body. With hands on the floor, press your triceps to lift your butt off the floor, and then place your left foot on top of your right calf. Roll up from your lower right calf to the meat of your calf and back for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch legs; repeat. (Note: Also target the inside and the outside of the calf simply by turning the foot in or turning the foot out.)”

5. Glutes and Piriformis “With your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width, center a foam roller beneath your glutes. Lift your right leg and rest your right ankle on your left knee. Roll back and forth from the center of your right glute to the bottom of your spine for 30 seconds to a minute; switch legs and repeat.”

How to Make Your Foam Roller Workout Even Better-

The benefits of using a foam roller are even better if you do them on a Power Plate, which is my favorite type of Acceleration (or Whole Body Vibration) Training equipment. Acceleration Training is ideally done using a platform like the Power Plate, which vibrates in three planes: vertical, horizontal and sagittal (front to back).

There is equipment out there that only moves in two planes but the three-plane movement devices seem superior. These micro-accelerations force your muscles to accommodate, resulting in dramatic improvement in strength, power, flexibility, balance, tone and leanness. Remember, you can perform many different types of exercises on the Power Plate, including foam rolling, and doing so will enhance your results. Combining the Power Plate and Trigger Point Foam Roller is something I do virtually every day when I am at home.

When you stand on the vibrating platform, each muscle in your body reacts in a continuous flow of micro adjustments, contracting reflexively.The up-and-down movement improves your muscle tone. The left-to-right, and front-to-back movements improve your balance and coordination. What’s truly exceptional about Acceleration Training technology is that it engages up to 98 percent of your muscle fibers—including the fast and super-fast muscle fibers. So, with Acceleration Training you get greater rewards and shorter workouts because you’re working muscle fibers every second.

I truly believe Acceleration Training technology represents a revolution in fitness science that can benefit virtually everyone, regardless of age or fitness status. However, even if you don’t have access to such technology, regular foam rolling is still an excellent strategy to add to your fitness program.

6 Reasons to Drink Water

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

It’s no magic bullet, but the benefits of water are many.

Americans seem to carry bottled water everywhere they go these days. In fact, it has become the second most popular drink (behind soft drinks). But water lovers got a jolt recently when we heard that a new report had found that the benefits of drinking water may have been oversold. Apparently, the old suggestion to drink eight glasses a day was nothing more than a guideline, not based on scientific evidence.

But don’t put your water bottle or glass down just yet. While we may not need eight glasses, there are plenty of reasons to drink water. In fact, drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is essential to your health.

“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.

Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, agrees: “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health,” he says.

When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as sharp.

Here are six reasons to make sure you’re drinking enough water or other fluids every day:

1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.

“Through the posterior pituitary gland, your brain communicates with your kidneys and tells it how much water to excrete as urine or hold onto for reserves,” says Guest, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford University.

When you’re low on fluids, the brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism. And unless you are taking medications that make you thirsty, Guest says, you should listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water, juice, milk, coffee — anything but alcohol.

“Alcohol interferes with the brain and kidney communication and causes excess excretion of fluids which can then lead to dehydration,” he says.

2. Water Can Help Control Calories. For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect onweight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help.

“What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” says Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan.

Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.

3. Water Helps Energize Muscles. Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer,” says Guest.

Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising. Follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for fluid intake before and during physical activity. These guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.

4. Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good. Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. But don’t expect over-hydration to erase wrinkles or fine lines, says Atlanta dermatologist Kenneth Ellner, MD.

“Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration,” he says. “But once you are adequately hydrated, the kidneys take over and excrete excess fluids.”

You can also help “lock” moisture into your skin by using moisturizer, which creates a physical barrier to keep moisture in.

5. Water Helps Your Kidneys. Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine, explains Guest. “Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate,” he says.

When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.

If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates, Guest warns.

6. Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function. Adequate hydration keeps things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration — and the result is constipation.

“Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” says Koelemay.

5 Tips to Help You Drink More

If you think you need to be drinking more, here are some tips to increase your fluid intake and reap the benefits of water:

-Have a beverage with every snack and meal.
-Choose beverages you enjoy; you’re likely to drink more liquids if you like the way they taste.
-Eat more fruits and vegetables. Their high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
-Keep a bottle of water with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag.
-Choose beverages that meet your individual needs. If you’re watching calories, go for non-caloric beverages or water.

Childhood Diet Habits Set in Infancy, Studies Suggest


Efforts to improve what children eat should begin before they even learn to walk, a series of nutritional studies published on Tuesday has found. Taken together, the data indicate that infant feeding patterns persist far longer than has been appreciated.

“Our early taste preferences, particularly for fruits and vegetables, and on the flip side for sugary beverages, are lasting,” said Dr. Elsie M. Taveras, chief of the division of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, who was not involved in the new research.

“These studies are suggesting that in terms of diet quality, the die might be cast in the first year,” she added.

The package of 11 studies was published in the journal Pediatrics and was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, among others. Investigators tracked the diets of roughly 1,500 6-year-olds, comparing their eating patterns to those observed in a study that followed them until age 1.

Previous research has shown that taste preferences are developed in infancy. Yet until now it was unclear how infant diets bear on what children prefer to consume years later, once in school.

As it turns out, “when infants had infrequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, they also had infrequent consumption at 6,” said Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist at the C.D.C. and the senior author of a few of the new studies.

Dr. Scanlon and her colleagues suggested that it is best to interest children in fruits and vegetables by late infancy — roughly between 10 and 12 months old.

Their analysis took into account factors that could skew results, like race, family income and breast-feeding. Other factors may play a role in establishing a child’s diet patterns, such as whether a child fears trying new foods, said Catherine A. Forestell, an associate professor of psychology at the College of William and Mary, who researches eating habits from infancy to adulthood.

Still, Dr. Scanlon’s finding emphasizes the importance of exposing infants to a variety of fruits and vegetables as they make the transition to table food.

“I do believe in the importance of the early experience,” said Dr. Forestell, adding that it is crucial for parents “not to be deterred by an initial negative response.”

In a 2007 study by Dr. Forestell, infants who were offered green beans for the first time squinted and wrinkled their noses. But these young critics willingly opened their mouths to try another spoonful if parents persisted, she said.

Another study in the new series found that babies who consumed any amount of sugar-sweetened beverages were two times more likely to drink them at least once daily at age 6. A third study found that infants ages 10 to 12 months who were given sugar-sweetened beverages more than three times a week were twice as likely to be obese at age 6 than those who consumed none as infants.

It is not clear what impact breast-feeding might have on a child’s later diet. A mother’s eating habits are reflected in the taste of her breast milk, providing a “flavor bridge” that eases her baby’s transition to the foods she ate regularly while nursing.

Breast-fed infants are more accepting of new foods than babies who drank the same-tasting formula day after day, research has shown. A C.D.C. study in the new series found that children who were breast-fed were more likely to consume water (versus sugar-sweetened beverages), fruits and vegetables at age 6.

Cria Perrine, an epidemiologist at the C.D.C., and her co-authors concluded one additional perk of breast-feeding may be an “improved child diet.”

Recent research that took into account economic and cultural variables has thrown into question whether breast-feeding protects against obesity into the preteen years, Dr. Taveras said. But a strong relationship between breast-feeding and protection against obesity up to age 3 has been documented. Dr. Perrine’s study suggests one way breast-feeding might protect against early obesity, Dr. Taveras said.

Some experts argue that parents lack consistent guidance on how to interest infants in unfamiliar, often bitter vegetables. The task is made tougher by the fact that infants do not need repeat exposures to become enamored of sweet and salty foods.

“We don’t do a very good job of teaching parents about good nutrition in infancy,” said Deanna Hoelscher, the director of a center for healthy living at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.

In March, a research review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition called for separate dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers. Currently, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans makes recommendations only for ages 2 and older.

It may not be obvious to parents, for example, that noncarbonated drinks with added sugar, like cranberry juice cocktail, should be avoided in the first year. Dr. Sohyun Park, a C.D.C. epidemiologist and the lead author of a study in the journal, noted that 27 percent of the infants studied had been fed sugar-sweetened beverages.

Indeed, nearly 9 percent were fed them before 6 months of age. Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only breast milk for the first six months or, alternatively, formula.

Still, all is not lost for parents who failed to feed their infants puréed green beans, Dr. Forestell said. But there is a catch. Children tend to sample, say, brussels sprouts more readily when they see adults eating them, too. “It’s not just changing your children’s diet,” Dr. Forestell said. “It’s changing the whole family’s, and that’s the kicker, isn’t it?”