By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
It’s that time of the year again when everything turns to the shape of hearts. February 14th is Valentine’s Day…ok, the day before my birthday too. It’s also the time when most New Year’s Resolutions have essentially evaporated, including the big three: having a better relationship, exercising more and eating healthier.
What’s this have to do with La Jolla Sports Club? Our La Jolla gym can be the central address for health and fitness 3600. That means not only can LJSC help improve lifestyle habits of physical and emotional health, but relationship health as well. Data tells us that adherence to exercise and healthy eating improves significantly with a supportive partner. When that partner is our significant other, research says there’s a 90% increase in the likelihood that we’ll stick with our goals, including exercise. Not only does adherence to exercise improve, leading to healthier and happier living, but there’s advantages to relationships when couples work out together. And, what better time to focus on this than on Valentine’s Day?
You’ll grow more connected when you workout together. Not only does going to the gym together promote quality time with each other, it allows for discussion of mutual goals and fitness levels, creates opportunities for sharing a a common commitment to wellbeing, creates mutual motivation develops deeper bonds with each other and offers many chances to celebrate each other’s progress. You are required to focus on each other in ways that couples often don’t.
Further, your workouts will actually be better. You have an accountability partner and it’s likely you’ll push each other, kindly of course, to do more, go further, and press your limits. What’s the rush home? Your partner is with you! No resentment, no upset—you are already sharing face time, goals, communication and connection.
Perhaps most important to couples who work out together, regularly, not just on Valentine’s Day, are matters of the heart that go beyond the gym. Exercise is simply a wonder drug for your libido. With the touching, support, encouragement, sweating, moving, pheromones endorphins, dopamines and other feel-good hormones that are released, you’re more likely to be in the “right frame of mind” for post-workout enjoyment. A survey by Brooks Running of 1,000 adults 18 and older who run at least once per week outdoors or on a treadmill, found that 66% believe they have more sex when they run as a couple. But wait. There’s more. Almost 50% of those questioned said running more than six miles together left their hearts pounding even more in the bedroom.
James White, Ph.D., author of “The Best Sex of Your Life” (1997, Barricade Books), professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego and former director of the exercise physiology and human performance center, believes that runners have 15-20% more sex than those who don’t run or exercise. So with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, hit the HIIT (high intensity interval training), do planks face to face, crunches on a Swiss ball or Bosu while tossing a ball to each other, leg raises with some manual resistance from your partner, push ups with your partner pushing gently on your back or face-to-face in “missionary form,” single leg lunges helping each other up and down, and sit-ups sitting on your partner’s lap, legs wrapped around his/her waist.
Plan on a Valentine’s Day workout date. It’s cheaper than marriage counseling, and it’s an inexpensive way to connect, communicate and celebrate each other. Perhaps most importantly, sweating it out with your sweetheart will add more sweet to your hearts.
Have fun and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Henry David Thoreau once shared that he had three chairs in his home, “…one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.” Doesn’t that provide you with remarkable insight about the value of a chair?
Chairs provide comfort, stability, relaxation, style and for Thoreau, “…solitude, friendship and society.”
A leader in the fitness industry, Len Kravitz, Ph.D., author, educator, and exercise scientist at the University of New Mexico, teaches that chairs provide wonderful opportunities for exercise and activity. He suggests that every time you go to sit in a chair, first sit, then stand and then sit. Similarly, when you are ready to leave the chair, stand, sit and then stand and go. A nice way to get in some extra lunges and squats during the day, right?
Well the other day, another insight into the value of a chair hit me from the other side of the moon—or somewhere mystically far away. I’ve come to see a chair as a metaphor for healthy life. Sitting too much can’t provide health. Not sitting enough doesn’t provide health either. So here’s my deeper understanding of just how to view a chair when you are lost or overwhelmed about getting on track to lead a healthy life.
Healthy living begins with clear-thinking goals. With the seasonal changes coming, it’s going to be too easy to focus on the holidays, how “perfect” they “should” be, shopping for “perfect” presents and “perfect” clothes to wear to the “perfect” party…you get the idea. YOU will get lost and be replaced by myths you won’t be able to live up to.
Take a seat on that chair over there and think about this. What are your lasting goals beyond the coming holiday season? Your health, living well, fit, peaceful and happy sound like good goals to me.
So use my CHAIR method to keep you focused on what’s really important and don’t get lulled into sitting in that chair you are on too long:
C stands for a deeply felt commitment to very specific goals. You see the goal, be aware of why you’re doing it. Commitments that are consistent and comfortable last.
H is for healthier foods, healthy carbs and proteins, healthy fat. Diet is a word I never use since it has the word ‘die’ in it and always means weight gain.
A stands for daily activity, daily tracking of food, sleep and exercise. If you track, you adhere. Shoot for 10,000 steps a day. But even raking leaves counts as activity.
I is inner motivation and inspiration—you have to have your why and it’s best if it’s personally meaningful to you.
R is for a realistic set of achievable, rewardable goals. You need something very specific that you are targeting, like you want to be entirely off blood pressure medication—not just lose some weight or tone up. Set up these goals or you chance going down the same unhealthy paths you’ve been repeatedly going down.
That’s it…commitment, healthy nutrition, activity, internal motivation and realistic goals. Now, get off your chair and actually start creating that healthier life you’ve been sitting there, thinking about. But keep that CHAIR in mind. And if you need help, our gym and personal trainers are here by your side!
Check out more fitness psychology posts by Dr. Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Article written by KATHLEEN RAFAAT – EatPlayLIveBreath Nutrition – 2013
WHAT ARE THEY?
Carbohydrates are found in all food, even a small amount in meat, but mostly in fruits, grains and vegetables. Chemically, carbohydrates in food are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
SIMPLE carbs – sugars – are one or two molecule combinations, which include glucose (blood sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and galactose and are the easiest to digest. The two-molecule carbs include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and maltose (malt sugar).
COMPLEX carbs – starches – contain large 300 to 1,000 molecule compound and contain nothing but glucose molecules. It takes these compounds longer than simple sugars to come apart in the digestive system.
The nutritional advantages that complex carbohydrates have over simple sugars as a source of energy, derive not only from the rate at which their glucose is absorbed, but also from the amount of fiber they add to the diet and from the other nutrients present in the major sources of starch (grains, beans, tubers).
However, an increasing amount of evidence indicates that distinguishing which carbohydrates are good for you is more complicated than this simple dichotomy suggests.
What is also important when differentiating between various types of carbohydrates is how rapidly a particular carbohydrate will get metabolized into sugar and impact blood sugar (glucose) levels, otherwise known as the Glycemic Index.
WHAT ARE GOOD AND BAD CARBS?
Choose plant foods that deliver fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients along with grams of carbohydrates. These get absorbed slowly into your system, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels. Examples: whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.
To meet the nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get 45%-65% from carbs. Quality carbohydrates are loaded with fiber. Men over the age of 50 should get 30 grams, women 21 grams of fiber. (Under 50- 38/25) Start counting your fiber intake – you will be surprised on how little you eat! The more you eat, the fuller you will feel and may help prevent colon cancer and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
We can minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber like white bread and white rice.
The average adult takes in about 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day or about 320 calories. Remember that fat-free and low-fat products have added sugar, which is being substituted for fat. The USDA recommends that no more than 6%-10% of our total calories be from added sugar or 9 teaspoons a day. Look out for HFCS – high-fructose corn syrup, which is an added sugar, produced by chemically altering cornstarch that is cheaper and sweeter than sucrose. It is added to baked goods, breads, cereals, ketchup and soft drinks, so read labels carefully.
ATHLETES AND CARBS
When working out for less than 1 hour, carbohydrate replacement is probably not needed. From 1-2.5 hours- up to 30-60g per hour. Over 2.5 hours – 80-90g per hour of multiple carbohydrate. Carbo-Pro is an example of a complex carbohydrate that is useful for power, strength and endurance athletes that does NOT have fiber or any nutrients except to obtain energy immediately.
You can get your carbohydrates from natural sources for your pre and post meal, but during a race, supplements such as sport drinks, gels and bars, are easy to tolerate and are made for quick release of energy. Always use these supplements in your training so that you know what works best.
Making energy isn’t the only thing your body does with the carbohydrate nutrients in your diet. Carbohydrates also protect your muscles. When you need energy, your body looks for glucose from carbohydrates first. If no glucose is available, your body begins to pull energy out of fatty tissue. Your body’s next move is to burn its own protein, which is muscle.
If your diet provides more carbohydrates than you need to produce, this amount of stored calories in the form of glucose and glycogen in your cells, blood, muscles and liver, the excess will be converted to fat. That is how your pasta ends up on your hips!
By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
The other day in the gym, I was doing my high intensity intervals on one of the fabulous Woodway treadmills on the main floor. Next to me was a new member. She kept saying, “OMG, this workout is killing me. My heart rate is so high and I can barely catch my breath.”
Whew! I asked her if she was all right and she smiled and said she was and loved the feeling. But I began wondering about how much people, especially newcomers to exercise, really know about heart rate and breathing during exercise. Sure, we all know that exercise improves heart health, improves endurance and reduces breathlessness, among a myriad of other health-related benefits. But think about it for a moment and you’ll agree that many people comment more about pounding heart and breathing rates during exercise, than almost anything else.
Let’s break these two down, heart rate goals and the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. The first, heart rate, is a standard guideline when determining aerobic intensity. People count their pulse, or better, use a heart rate monitor. There are three different types of heart rates and it’s important to know the differences, and then there’s several ways to measure your V02.
Target heart rate- This is generally considered to be about 50-75% of your maximum heart rate. Treadmills and other equipment in the gym have easy to measure heart rate monitors on them, and though they may not be the most accurate, you would be wise to check your heart rate frequently during a workout. Sure you can go all out and pump it at 85-100% of your maximum heart rate, but better be in great shape or have a buddy nearby for safety. Better yet, have a personal trainer from the gym help you build your max heart rate, and your V02.
Maximum heart rate- Your maximum heart rate can be affected by as much as 10 beats/minute depending on your age, size of your heart, heat while working out, hydration and several other factors. The easiest and best-known method to find your maximum is 220 minus your age equals your heart rate max.
Want to get really detailed? Use this formula: HRmax = 217 – (0.85 × age)
- Subtract 3 beats if you are an elite athlete under 30
- Add 2 beats if you are a 50 year old elite athlete
- Add 4 beats if you are a 55+ year old elite athlete
- Use this HRmax value for running training
- Subtract 3 beats for rowing training
- Subtract 5 beats for bicycle training
- Subtract 12 beats for swimming
Resting heart rate-
While many of us have resting heart rates between 60-80 beats/minute, physically fit people tend to have lower rates and older folks have higher rates. Best way to check this is to simply take your pulse in the morning after you wake up from a good night’s sleep before getting out of bed.
While most of us generally can tell we are overdoing it during a cardio session when we can barely talk, fitness pros measure the volume of oxygen they consume while going all out. VO2 is measured in ml you use in one minute per kilogram of body weight. The fitter you are, the higher your VO2 value. Work out for about 20-30 minutes three to five times a week at between 65-85% of your maximum heart rate and you can increase your VO2 maximum value. Computers are generally used to measure your VO2 but here is another method that has about 95% accuracy. Run for about 15 minutes at an all out pace that you can handle. Round off the distance you’ve logged to the nearest 25 meters. Divide that number by 15, subtract 133, multiply that total by .172, then, add 33.3.
Confused? Try this link instead http://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max You may not hit 50-80 VO2 value, which is considered excellent, but this link will approximate your overall fitness age as well. Armed with this information, may just boost what you get out of your next workout. At the very least, you’ll be much more informed about the progress you are making in your exercise routines, and that’ll lead to greater motivation. One of the gym’s trainers can certainly help you assess and build your heart rate and VO2 values, while growing fitter, healthier and happier.
Side note: Our spin classes are great for building your overall fitness as they practice high intensity interval training.
The La Jolla Sports Club is honored to host one of the best if not the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trainer and fighter, Clark Gracie. Clark Gracie has been with our club many years now and teaches a range of beginner and advanced Jit Jitsu classes. He is a true talent, an amazing instructor, and famous as a photogenic athlete . Check out this short video on what it takes for Clark to exude greatness in this challenging sport.
By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D Fitness Psychology San Diego
See those club members who look like they can’t make up their minds on the treadmill, recumbent bikes, elliptical machines, and other cardio equipment? Fast, slow, on the treadmill running as fast as they can, then jumping to the side and barely able to catch their breath before jumping back on. They aren’t confused. They are getting fitter, healthier and stronger often in half to one-third the time of typical endurance workouts.
They are also improving their insulin sensitivity, improving their cholesterol numbers, turbo-charging their fat metabolism, potentially eliminating diabetes type 2 and some forms of depression and hypertension, increasing their levels of human growth hormone and expanding aerobic capacity. Interval training trumps steady state uphill exhaustion when it comes to putting a smile on your face and reducing stress as well. Not bad for someone who doesn’t seem to know if he/she wants to give it his/her all or coast for a bit. Don’t let that up and down fool you. It’s intentional. If you haven’t tried High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, what are you waiting for? A pill to swallow?
Maximum exertion followed by a brief rest period for 6-10 cycles, is the essence of HIIT. Start with a comfortable 3-5 minute warm-up and then a series of 30-second sprints each followed by 90 seconds of recovery, and end with another 3-5 minute cool down. Or adjust the incline while going at a steady pace, increasing the exertion peak and decreasing the recovery time as you become fitter. Some like the idea of sprinting for a couple of minutes and then doing a slower jog or walk for a minute, followed by 6-8 cycles. When it becomes too easy, sprint for four minutes and cool it for two minutes. Go faster and longer with about a 50% reduction in your cool down time for each “peak.” Think approaching 95% of your max heart rate and peak VO2 Max.
Your VO2 Max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you use during peak exertion, is a measure of your cardiovascular fitness. HIIT boosts this measure increasing your ability to use oxygen more efficiently, allowing longer and more strenuous workouts before fatigue sets in. Your metabolism continues to burn longer as well post-exercise, some say burning up to 15% more calories during the 24 hours following a HIIT session.
Of course, obese, deconditioned, injured folks, or those with hypertension or heart disease should check with exercise savvy physicians to be cleared for this type of elevated demand.
Think of HIIT as a dance, back and for the across the aerobic-anaerobic line, each time, catching your breath. Probably won’t get you a trophy on “Dancing With the Stars,” but it sure will increase your health, fitness and happiness in a condensed time frame. You decide what’s more valuable.