Show Santa Who’s Boss!: 5 Fitness Gifts for 2012

Holiday season is upon us and with just about 1 month until Christmas, it’s time to start thinking about stocking stuffers. We all have that person in our life that’s been talking about making fitness changes in the New Year. How about doing them a huge favor and helping them get started!

This week, I’m going to show you 5 great gift ideas that you can give to your favorite person. Alternatively, you can use these ideas as hints to “Santa” so that you’ll be ready to start 2013 with a bang!

The Dragon’s Favorite Fitness Gifts for 2012:

   1. Fitness Tracking Package: This gift is actually a combination of the three most   important items used to track fitness goals. They consist of a quality scale (I prefer EatSmart or Epica brands because of their great precision), a cloth measuring tape to measure circumference and a set of calipers to measure body fat percentage. All three items can be purchased for around $60.00.

   2. High Quality Blender: This gift is actually on my own Christmas list. I’ve been through more blenders than you can believe. When I began my journey to fitness, I realized the importance of making shakes. After several cheap blenders, I’ve finally had it with the cracked canisters, burned out motors and blades that become dull. Save your fitness chaser the time and headache by providing them with a functional, durable blender. A sturdy blender like the KitchenAid brand 5-Speed model can be obtained for around $100.00.

   3. DVD Fitness Training Program: The popularity of at home fitness programs is at an all time high. The average working person finds it hard to fit gym workouts into their schedule. They also jump into the New Year eager to join a gym only to regret the monthly commitment when money gets tight. A way to solve both problems is to get them started with any great DVD Fitness Training Program. I, of course, recommend any of the Team Beachbody programs (found here) like P90X or Insanity. While it is true that I am a Team Beachbody Coach, I must say that this company really does have the most comprehensive and most effective programs on the market. Just do a quick search and you will see that thousands of people have gotten serious results from the programs.

   4. Workout Clothes: Have a gym rat that wears the same thing every time that they go to the gym? How about a runner whose sneakers are falling apart before your eyes? Or maybe even someone that just throws their workout gear into a plastic bag when they head out for work in the morning? There are tons of options here. Everybody needs an extra set of sweats, shorts & t-shirts or a gym bag where they can store their items. Additionally, your gym guy or girl might need new workout gloves, an armband for their iPod or a lock for the gym locker. Mix and match a few items and use them as stocking stuffers.

   5. Subscription to Fitness Magazines: Nothing says extra motivation like getting a monthly reminder of what you want to look and feel like. Magazines like: Muscle & Fitness, Women’s Health / Men’s Health, Runner’s World or Yoga Journal can all be purchased for anywhere between $20 and $40 for a yearly subscription. The wealth of information far outweighs what you’ll pay for this great gift.

As you can see, it doesn’t have to cost tons of money to give a great fitness gift. Any of these items, along with your encouragement, will go a long way to motivate your loved one to get out and get moving. A few honorable mentions are: Gift certificates to all of the great healing places out there like your local Spa, Massage Therapist or Acupuncturist or purchasing a few hours from a personal trainer. This way, you are not only offering health and wellness but you are also supporting local business!

Now that you’ve gotten some ideas make sure you order early so that you’ll have them in time for the holidays. Enjoy giving your gifts as much as you enjoy getting them and remember…

Dream Fit. Live Fit.

Show Santa Who’s Boss and give the gift of fitness this year!

“Better Body. Better Sex.” : How exercise improves your libido!

As winter approaches so do all of those warm nights with your special someone. But for many people, intimate “fun” seems more like work. As we all get older and busier with work, family, etc. we have the tendency to neglect our bodies. This poor state of fitness, combined with the decreased libido that comes with age, negatively impacts the quality of those special intimate moments.

Wanna know the #1 thing that you can do to ramp up your sex drive?

 Exercise, exercise, exercise!

Beyond any magic pill or potion, exercise has been proven to be the greatest way to turbocharge your sexual appetite and help keep things exciting.

There have been numerous studies on the impact of exercise and sexual health. The results are always the same. Regular exercise DRASTICALLY improves libido. It increases sex drive, improves the quality and duration of sex and thus leads to decreased stress and a happier life. There is a ton of information to support this research but I’ve chosen a few of the more interesting facts to share with you.

Did you know…?

  • Women who perform consistent cardio exercise (30 min per day / 3 days per week) report significantly greater psychological and physiological (body) arousal than women who do no exercise at all.
  • Only one month after men who had sedentary lifestyles began to exercise at moderate to high intensity (45-60 min per day / 3 days a week), they reported dramatic enhancement to their sex lives. This included increased frequency of intimate activity, better endurance, and an overall greater sense of pleasure.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) has been proven to contribute to sexual dysfunction in men and women. Erectile dysfunction (men), increased pain and discomfort due to decreased blood flow (women) and lowered sex drive (both) are all common side effects of Hypertension. Regular exercise and proper diet are 2 ways to lower High Blood Pressure
  • Lower body fat (specifically around the midsection) increases the amount of blood that flows to the pelvis. This makes for easier stimulation of sex organs.
  • Stretching and Yoga are known for improving the quality of intimacy. The reason lies in the reduction of stress, increased flexibility and pliability in muscles and the opening up of blood vessels, allowing for greater flow throughout the body. This is the reason that Yoga is sometimes referred to as the greatest exercise to increase libido in Women!

Now for the fun part. Here are a few specific things you can do make the bedroom sizzle:

  1. Improve your diet.  A better diet leaves you feeling less sluggish and more energized for intimacy.
  2. Do Cardiovascular Exercise. As previously mentioned, Cardio increases your oxygen and helps improve stamina. It also gives you more energy and will increase your libido.
  3. Train with weights. Both men and women who train with weights often report more aggression and sexual desire. This is due to the increased testosterone and epinephrine. A spike in these hormones in men and women make for potent aphrodisiacs.
  4. Take a Yoga class. After reading this post, Google: “Upward Facing Dog”, “Camel” and “Butterfly” positions. In fact, do it now. I’ll wait…These three are said to be among the greatest positions for promoting a better sex life. I’ve discussed the reasons why above. Now it’s on you to start practicing!
  5. Have Sex. Sex is not only a natural, wonderful way to explore intimacy but it is great exercise in itself. For every 5 minutes of sex you can expect to burn between 5-10 calories! That’s 60 – 120 calories in an hour

As a recap, we’ve learned that multiple health studies have shown that regular exercise can drastically improve our love lives. We can keep things spicy in the bedroom by engaging in regular exercise and taking care of our bodies. Whether it’s cardio, weight training, Yoga or all of the above, you should get moving and stay moving. That special somebody in your life will be very appreciative!

I’ve laid out excellent ways to get started on your fitness journey in my other posts. If you need a personalized plan to put you on the right track, contact me here for more info: Dragon Gate Fitness Contact Info!

There’s not much more to see here, folks. Here’s wishing you exciting, hot and safe times…
Dream Fit. Live Fit.

Keep things on fire in the Bedroom by staying on top of your fitness. Cardio Exercise, Weight Training and Yoga are all great ways to improve your sexual health!

The Greatest Sports Drink of All!

Question: Which “sports” drink promotes fat loss AND also promotes muscle growth?

Answer: Water. Drink plenty of it!

This week’s “Bonus” post comes from the “Fit Tips” newsletter that I offer to all new clients. I decided to post it this week because, as with the previous post, it is a fundamental aspect of fitness. In fact, besides proper nutrition, water is the most important aspect of fitness. People way more knowledgeable about the details of human anatomy and physiology can explain exactly how water does all the miraculous things that it does better than I can. However, what’s important is that you know that you should be drinking plenty of water each day. I’m going to tell you exactly how much and also give you a few basic facts about water consumption. I’ll leave you with some very easy things that you can do to make sure you meet your daily water intake needs.

Question: How much water should I drink each day?

Answer: Ten (10) 8 oz. glasses is about 2/3 of a gallon. This is JUST enough for the average person! The more active you become, the more water you need to consume. Aim for 1 gallon per day.

Here’s some trivia to help you understand why:

  • Water makes up about 60-75% of the human body
  • Dehydration can occur with a minimal loss of water (only about 2-3%)
  • Water is a great appetite suppressant and will help burn fat
  • Water is great for detoxing the body of harsh chemicals
  • Water helps keep the skin tight and smooth
  • The more overweight you are, the more water you need. For every 25 lbs. you are overweight, you need 1 additional glass!

Now, here are some things you can do to make sure you get enough water.

1. Buy a water bottle! Simple enough. There are tons of BPA Free options out there. This way, you can carry your water with you and sip throughout the day.

2. When you’re at work, never pass by the water cooler without getting some water. It’s important to drink at least a small amount of water even when you’re not thirsty.

3. For every cup of coffee or alcohol you consume, you should be drinking 1 cup of water. (Easier said than done…I know. Give it a shot, anyway!)

4. Want some chips or something sweet? Drink a glass of water first. Then see if you still want it.

5. Mix up your water intake: Spring Water, Club Soda, Seltzer Water and Herbal Tea all count towards your daily totals.

Water serves you in so many ways. It aids in digestion, helps fuel your workouts, helps burn fat, and promotes muscle growth. As soon as you consistently up your intake you will notice a change in how you feel and subtle changes in how you look.

So now that you’ve read this GET UP AND DRINK SOME WATER!

 Dream Fit. Live Fit.

One way to drink more water is to buy a water bottle and keep it with you! There are tons of great BPA Free Options.

Reduce your back and joint pain simply by stretching!

Question: Can stretching help with my back and joint pain?

Answer: Absolutely! Regular stretching can reduce back and joint pain by 30% or more.

Did you feel any aches, pains or stiffness when you got out of bed this morning? How about when you’ve been sitting in one position too long? This most likely happens because your muscles and surrounding tissue have become tight, rigid and stagnant. This tightness can cause throbbing, aching and pain.

Stretching at least once per day (preferably in the morning) reduces pain by increasing blood flow throughout your body. It also makes you more flexible and limber, which creates more looseness in your muscles and joints. Health studies show that even the lingering pain from certain injuries and degenerative conditions (i.e. arthritis, scoliosis, injuries do to accidents and exercise) can be reduced by 25-30% or more by incorporating a daily stretching routine into your life.

Sample Stretch Routine

This is a sample 5 to 10 minute stretch routine that will help you loosen the major areas of your body. You should do this routine when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

  1. Back Stretch (AKA “Cat Stretch”): Get down on your hands and knees in a solid base. With your hands shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart, round your back toward the ceiling. Imagine that there is a string attached to your mid back pulling you upward. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Then, drop your stomach down and arch your back. Imagine that same string pulling your stomach toward the ground. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Finally, return to a rest position. Do this 3 times.
  2. Full Body Stretch: Stand tall, with your feet slightly less than shoulder width apart. Place your hands over your head and reach upward as if you were trying to touch the ceiling. Do this for 15 seconds. Next, maintaining the natural curve in your lower back, bend forward at your hips and reach for your toes. Make sure to bend slowly and try to keep your knees as straight as possible. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Hold for 15 seconds and then return to the starting position. Do this entire cycle 3 times.
  3. Quad Stretch: Stand tall, with your feet about shoulder width apart. Reach back and grab your left foot with your left hand. Slowly pull your left leg back as if you were trying to touch your foot to your buttocks. Pull until you feel a good stretch (if it becomes uncomfortable, stop!) and hold for 15 seconds. Then return your left leg to its original position. Hold on to a chair or wall for balance if necessary. Do this 2 times and Repeat on opposite side.
  4. Cross-Body Stretch (AKA Shoulder Stretch): Stand tall, with your feet shoulder width apart. Reach your left arm across your body, bringing it as close to your chest as possible. Next, lock your right arm underneath your left at the elbow (Your arms will look like a “cross” in this position). Gently hold and slightly increase pressure for 15 seconds. Then return your arm to the side. Do this 2 times and repeat on opposite side.
  5. Neck Stretch: Stand tall and keep your shoulders relaxed. Move your head downward toward the right (as if you were touching your ear to your shoulder). Hold for 15 seconds. Next, slowly “roll” your head down and forward (as if to touch your chin to your chest). Hold for 15 seconds. Next, slowly “roll” your head toward the left (just like you did toward the left) and hold for 15 seconds. Finally, slowly “roll” your head back (as if you were touching the back of your head to your upper back). Hold for 15 seconds. Then return to your starting position.

Things to remember while stretching:

  • Stretching should be, AT MOST, mildly uncomfortable. Not painful! If you experience any pain then stop immediately.
  • Move your body into each position gently and slowly.
  • When stretching, hold each position without rocking or “bouncing”. Jerky movements may lead to muscle and connective tissue damage.
  • If you are engaging in any workout routine, be sure to stretch before and after sessions to keep your body loose, help with muscle soreness and to prevent injury.

The above routine should give you noticeable results in the amount of flexibility and the reduction of back and joint pain. However, if you suffer from chronic or severe conditions, make sure you visit your doctor and alternative health providers (chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists) along with doing your daily stretches!

Dream Fit. Live Fit.

The “Cross-Body” Stretch (AKA Shoulder Stretch)

“Get fit in the gym. Lose weight in the kitchen.”

This wise quote by an anonymous source is probably the most important key to your health and fitness goals! Many people have been mislead into thinking that doing hours and hours of exhausting exercises is the way to lose weight. It is true the you will have to move your body in order to get it toned and into shape. But even more important than the battle in the gym, is the war in the kitchen. I often like to tell my clients that your diet is 85% of your “battle of the bulge”. Since knowing is half the battle, I’m going to give you some basic information so that you will be well armed on your quest.  First, you should have a basic understanding of the three main components that your body needs to function properly: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.

  • Protein is what your body needs to build muscle. It usually is “anything that had parents”. From best (leanest) to worst (fattest), the main sources of protein are:Fish, Poultry (including eggs), Beef, Pork and Dairy. Great examples of protein are: baked chicken breast, egg whites, baked fish, turkey, lean ground beef, nuts, greek yogurt, etc.
  • Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for your body. They give you energy, keep you “regular” and includes whole grains, fiber and sugar. Great sources of carbohydrates are: brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, vegetables and fruit. Not-so-good sources are anything that has lots of sugar. In fact, and I cannot stress this enough, SUGAR IS YOUR ENEMY. Sugar is processed by your body and is often converted into fat. You would be surprised at just how much of it we all consume everyday. A little bit of sugar is fine but it is really important to minimize the amount of sugar we take in. This will be illustrated in the homework assignment that I will ask you to do at the end of this article.
  • The last component is Fat. Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad. Unsaturated (good) fats can be found in cold water fish like salmon, trout, tuna, cod, halibut, mussels, oysters, plant based cooking oils like vegetable oil and most nuts and seeds like almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc. As you can see, sometimes, especially with fish you are consuming good fats in the protein sources you eat.

How much of each component we all require depends on weight, current level of fitness and level of activity. A general rule of thumb for the average person however is the principal of “1-2-3″. In each meal (generally speaking) you should have 1 part of your calories from “good” fat, 2 parts from protein and 3 parts from “good” carbohydrates. The easiest way to measure this is by “eyeballing” what you put on your plate.

Now that you know WHAT to eat, stay tuned for the next post which explains WHEN to eat. The timing of meals is just as important as the type of meals we eat. I will also be giving you a “Homework” assignment. So get ready!

Dream Fit. Live Fit.

“Now you know…And knowing is half the battle!”

Hats off to you if you know where this quote comes from. It’s true. Knowledge is power. Which is why this very first fitness post will be about knowing how to properly weigh yourself and take your body measurements. This information will be vital in your quest to become more fit. Now, I know that this can be a humbling experience in the beginning but as you progress you will come to love your numbers and even brag about them to family and friends. The whole measurement process will only take about 10-15 minutes and you should do it every 6 weeks. Weighing yourself can be done as often as you like but, as I’ll next explain, you should keep “official” weigh-ins to once per week.

Question: When is the best time to weigh yourself?

Answer: The best time to weigh yourself is right after you wake up. You aren’t carrying excess weight from food or liquid.

Your body weight fluctuates greatly during the day and during the week. The best time to assess your weight is after you wake up. Your body is essentially empty of most food and consumable liquid when you wake up. This is the most accurate time to weigh yourself. You should also make it a point to record your weight each week on the same day, ideally after you wake up. You’ll then have a great gauge of your weekly progress. Whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain lean muscle, you should aim for no more than a 2 lb. change per week. Any more than that and you’re risking a host of issues like dehydration, fatigue, muscle loss (if you’re losing weight) or excess fat gain (if you’re “bulking up”).

Question: Which areas of my body should I measure and how often should I keep track of them?

Answer: Generally speaking, there are 7 main areas that are important to track:

  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Waist
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Arms

It is important to track these changes every six weeks so that you can get a good idea of how you’re progressing.

You may need some help the first time you measure but after a few attempts you should be able to do it by yourself. There are great clips on YouTube about how to do this, so I’ll skip the detailed instructions. However, a few tips to remember are:

  1. Get yourself a good soft plastic or nylon tape measure and a journal to record your entries in.
  2. Measure yourself on the same day of the week, every 6 weeks. Try to do it under the same conditions: i.e. before a meal or after you wake up.
  3. Always measure each area 3 times. This ensures accuracy.
  4. Make sure you are relaxed when you measure yourself. Do not tense and contract your muscles.
  5. There are many thoughts on where exactly the waist is. I am from the school that measures it above the belly button but below the rib cage. At the narrowest part of the abdomen. The point is to pick a place and make sure that you measure the same area each time. Also, never measure yourself immediately after a meal (unless you want to be depressed for the rest of the day.)
  6. Have fun! Use these measurements as only one gauge of your progress. The important thing is that you learn something about yourself so that you can see what’s working and what’s not.

Well, there you have it. Two great ways to keep track of your progress. Remember to reward yourself for your success and continue to set new goals. In the next post, I will be sharing with you the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING you’ll ever need on your journey to being more fit and healthy.Image

Remember…

Dream Fit. Live Fit.