Steps Toward Healthier Eating

Pay close attention to your meals this week.  Commit to making fresh produce the largest portion on your plate.  Your meat and starches should be secondary to fruits and vegetables.  If you like fruits and vegetables this shouldn’t be a problem.  Load up!  Just make sure you’re eating a smaller portion of proteins and starches.

Tips on Improving Your Sleep

It’s important that we make the most out of our sleep each night.  This can help us wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go.  According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School there are several things we can do that may help us sleep better.  If you struggle getting sound sleep try a few of these tactics out and see if you can tell a difference.

Keep your room as quiet, dark, and cool as possible.  Consider using ear plugs to block out sound if necessary and heavy curtains to obstruct any outside light.  Remove distractions such as TVs and computers and focus on getting quality sleep and relaxation while you’re in your bedroom.

Try yoga, meditation, a hot bath, or reading before you lay down.  Anything that gets you relaxed enough to fall asleep will help you to fall asleep faster and maintain a sound sleep.  It’s best to go to bed when you’re truly tired and ready.  A soothing pre-sleep routine can help you avoid those menacing thoughts that seem to start as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

Allow four to six hours between your last caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol consumption and a sound night’s sleep.  Even alcohol becomes a stimulant after a few hours.  Drinking too much alcohol too close to bedtime can increase your awakenings and decrease your quality of sleep.

Late naps can decrease your sleep drive.  If you insist on napping make it early and for a short period of time.  Nap before five and for an hour or less.

This isn’t possible for everyone, but do the best you can to stay on a consistent sleep schedule.  This includes weekends as well.  Keeping your internal clock on a familiar schedule will encourage sounder sleep.

Dare to Quit Smoking

Join more than 14,000 others as they dare to quit smoking in 2011 with the support of  Smoking may be a big part of what is holding you back from reaching your fitness goals.  Aside from the risks of lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, smokers can count on a lowered lung capacity which hinders their ability to perform high intensity cardio.  Weight loss and toning are both dependent upon strength training AND cardiovascular activity.  Don’t get discouraged if your workouts feel tough, quit smoking to make things easier and stay on the right track.

Here are a few ideas that may help you ease into quitting:

1.  Pick one part of your day to cut smoking completely out.  Whether it’s cutting out that cigarette you always have with your morning coffee, or not smoking while you’re in your car, make this your first step and you’ll be that much closer to quitting.

2.  Set a long term fitness goal.  Challenge yourself to running a mile, a 5k or competing in a triathlon, make it something that seems nearly impossible now but would feel great to complete.  Setting a goal and staying committed to reaching it should give you a reason to cut down on smoking.

3.  Say it out loud.  Make your commitment official by telling someone close to you that you’re going to quit.  I don’t know about you, but once something comes out of my mouth I become committed to making it happen!

4.  Check out LIVESTRONG and other online support groups.  These are places where people committed to quitting can get online and encourage each other to keep at it.  It’s an easy way to get positive feedback or even just see what others are going through.  If you can commit to quitting with a friend or family member that could be a great form of support too.

5.  Set your cigarette money aside.  Once you get to the point where you are buying cigarettes less, start setting that money aside to save up for something you want.  You’ll be surprised how quickly that money adds up.  If you can succeed at quitting, you’ll be saving that kind of money all the time, so don’t feel guilty about spending a few month’s savings on some type of reward…you earned it!

The Importance of Body Fat Percentage

Everybody talks about BMI, but the truth is, your body fat percentage is a better measurement of overall health.  Keeping your body fat percentage between “athletic” and “healthy”, as shown in the chart above, should be at the forefront of your fitness goals.  A good body fat percentage makes for less of a chance to develop problems such as high blood pressure and type two diabetes.

Whether male or female, the best way to lower your body fat percentage is by gaining muscle.  A consistent strength training program that includes weight and resistance training is the best way to achieve a lower body fat percentage.  Proper diet plays a role in body fat as well.  Naturally, the less junk you eat, the better your chance at lowering your body fat percentage.

Focus on building some strength this month.  Use free weights and body weight exercises to get stronger and build more muscle.  If you are a member of a gym have your body fat percentage tested now and then again in 4-6 weeks.  If you’ve made the proper changes in your workout routine and diet you should see your body fat drop between one and two percent.  It may seem like a slow moving number, but you’ll love the way you look and feel six months from now if you can keep it up!

Sleep Tight…

Get a full 8 hours of sleep tonight.  We often overlook the benefits of sound sleep.  Among other things, a good sleep schedule can help us:
  • Control our weight
  • Reduce our stress
  • Improve our memory
  • Increase our energy levels
  • Improve our heart health

Promise yourself a full 8 hours tonight and experience the difference in the morning.  Sleep tight!

Make February a Great 28!

Starting tomorrow, I will be sharing a healthy habit each day for the entire month of February.  Challenge yourself to include each activity in your day.  If you take the initiative to complete each idea, you will have made it a “Great 28”!  If you come across an idea that you’re already used to doing, be creative in trying to think of something new.  If you struggle thinking of a replacement, email me at

The idea for a Great 28 is to try something different or out of the ordinary each day, and gain knowledge of simple ways to stay healthy in the process.  Good luck!  And feel free to email me or leave comments to let me know how you’re doing!!  Here’s to February being YOUR Great 28!