Jan 282010

My name is Mimi Ford. I live in Tucson, Arizona, and have been a health advocate since my first child was born 26 years ago. I gained 50 pounds with my pregnancy so after Matt was born I immediately started doing water aerobics. I haven’t stopped since.

About 7 years ago when my youngest child turned 16 and I had more time and freedom to do things for myself, I started training for triathlons. My first triathlon was an off-road Xterra triathlon. I borrowed a wetsuit and a bike and off I went. I came in 3rd overall and got 1st in my age group. I have been hooked on the lifestyle of a triathlete ever since!!  For my 50th birthday this May I plan to do the St. George Ironman. My dream is go back to Hawaii and compete in the Ironman World Championships. 

I want to be an inspiration to others so they can work toward and achieve a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to be an extreme triathlete as I am but maybe to go and walk a few times a week. Learn how to do some strength training to help ward off osteoporosis. 

My biggest mission in life is to help others realize how they can benefit from eating a healthy diet.  Along with eating a healthy diet I have been blessed to have come across an amazing liquid discovery called Vemma that has helped me increase my recovery time and excel in the triathlon world.

Vemma has given me the energy that I need to train on a daily basis. Since I love Vemma so much I have shared it with others. This has allowed me to retire from my 27 year career as a dental hygienist. Now I am able to train full time and share a healthy lifestyle along with Vemma and Verve!  If you want to learn more about this opportunity you can go to www.TylerandMimiFord.com

Mimi finishing 2005 Hawaii Ironman

Mimi finishing 2005 Hawaii Ironman

Jan 222010
Susan Dawson-Cook swimming butterfly

Photo by Chris Mooney

Did you know you can turn back the biological clock by 10 years or more doing interval training? It’s true. Recent research says so. I know you want to try it right away, but hold on for a moment! First, let me explain what interval training is and how it keeps the body young.

Interval training consists of short bursts of hard work followed by short periods of active recovery. Active recovery is what it sounds like—you slow down, but keep moving. You can do interval training on the treadmill, stationary bicycle, elliptical, outside walking or bicycling, or swimming. Some group exercise formats are also interval workouts.

Here’s an example of a treadmill interval workout. You warm up for 5 minutes and then alternate between a minute of fast walking with a steep incline and a minute of slow walking without an incline, repeat that 10 times and follow that with a 5 minute cool down for a total of 30 minutes. On other days, you could change it up by adding some intervals of jogging to the high-intensity segments or changing the length of the intervals. Fit people should aim for a 1 to 1 ratio of work to recovery, with intervals ranging from 30 seconds to 4 minutes.

I recommend using a heart rate monitor to ensure heart rate stays within recommended ranges (60 to 80 percent of maximum heart rate for a healthy individual). People taking medications reducing blood pressure and heart rate should refer to the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to estimate how hard they are working.

People new to interval training often need attenuated recovery periods. A healthy, fit individual can safely work at a higher intensity than a sedentary individual with health issues. Many athletes train or compete at levels higher than 90 percent of their maximum heart rate, whereas individuals with cardiac risk may be told not to exceed 50 percent of their maximum heart rate or an estimated RPE of 11 (light) on the 6 to 20 scale.*

Now on to the why…The lungs and heart work together as an oxygen delivery system, taking in oxygen and pumping and delivering it to the muscles. As we age, heart beats slower and lung capacity decreases, which means that oxygen gets delivered more slowly to muscles.  This is why we fatigue quicker and are unable to move as fast.

Training at a high intensity forces the body to make adaptations to cope with this stress by building more muscle, stronger bones, and a better oxygen delivery system in preparation for the next episode. We can delay age-related degradations in stamina and strength by doing regular interval training. In addition to keeping you younger, interval training burns beaucoup calories, not only during the workout, but for hours afterward.

*Interval training is not safe for everyone. Consult with a doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Jan 172010

I am currently teaching the following group exercise classes in SaddleBrooke (at the SaddleBrooke Fitness Center and cost is $7 per class):

Monday 11:30 Conditioning (30 minutes low-impact aerobics/30 minutes strength training and stretch)

Wednesday 11:30 Circuit (class alternates between cardio and strength activities – high intensity, high calorie burn and you will be so busy doing different activities that the time flies) 

Thursday 11:30 Strenth/Balance/Posture (gentle strength workout with resistance bands with an emphasis on posture and balance)

While Yvonne is in Cancun, I will be teaching the Dance class (Wednesday, January 20) at 8:30 and a Stretch Plus class at 9:45.  I hope you will come and enjoy the fun! Your family and friends are also welcome.

Jan 142010
Fat and Forty? I Don't Think So Participants Lose Body Fat and Inches

Nancy Patchell with her friend Joan Hanson. Both live in the active adult SaddleBrooke community near Tucson, Arizona

“My middle sister was the athlete, and my baby sister was little and cute,” says Nancy Patchell, who grew up in the 1950s. Nancy was considered ‘the smart one.’ “As a child, I sat inside reading—I never played sports.  We accepted our roles and these became our personas. “

After the birth of her son, Nancy joined Weight Watchers to lose unwanted pounds. “I would go up and down weight-wise at least once a year.  She still wasn’t willing to exercise, though. “Nothing budged me from my view that I am not an athlete and no one was going to make me into one.  Many times I didn’t have the patience to stick with WW and would go for the latest fad diet.  I have tried them all.”

As Nancy aged, her unwillingness to exercise left her on the losing side of the battle-of-bulge. “I started facing pressure from doctors to lose weight for health.  When I read about the Fat and Forty Trial, I was unhappy about my looks. I even went so far as to look online to see if photographs make you look fatter than you really are.”

 I decided to give 6 months to the program to see if I could change my body, lifestyle, and attitude. Failure of the study would be my ‘proof’ that you can’t teach old dog new tricks.”

A rude awakening greeted her.  “My BMI and body fat analysis were horrifying. I had worn elastic waist pants for decades so I had no idea I was as big as I measured. “

Her re-introduction into the world of exercise wasn’t much better. “The first exercise class just about killed me in the first three minutes.” Others were keeping up and “I was having trouble breathing and every muscle in my body hurt. “

When the time came to submit diet and exercise records, drop-outs exceeded data received. Nancy stuck with it. “Having to track what I ate kept me honest.  Sure, I could make up data, but it wasn’t going to help the trial and it sure wasn’t going to help me decide if I could really ‘do it.’”

I liked that I could mix and match activities I liked and felt comfortable with.  I preferred a class setting to doing it alone; I like the camaraderie of a group. As I was able to do more, I started feeling a sense of pride in myself.”  Nancy took classes, followed exercise DVDs and walked. She discovered two new fun exercise disciplines—Nordic  Walking and Drums Alive.

Nancy’s body changed, too.  “I had to get smaller underpants—yippee—and my legs felt different when I shaved—I could feel muscles.” In just 6 months, Patchell decreased her body fat percent from 38 27 percent .

Encouragement from her husband and friends inspired Nancy.  Her friend Joan Hansen also lost body fat and inches on the Fat and Forty? I Don’t Think So program. She “gave me my first pair of non-elastic waist pants.  For the first time in my life, exercise is a part of my day.  She [Joan] and I are committed to keeping up with our programs no matter if we are in the trial or not.”

Jan 112010

Susan Dawson-Cook and Judy Gillies - 2009 La Jolla Roughwater SwimEvery January 1, most of us write up a list of resolutions, follow them for awhile and then return to  our familiar and often not-so-healthy living patterns. But a dead end doesn’t have to be a forgone conclusion for your 2010 goals. By establishing goals that are realistic, measurable and time-specific, you can set yourself up for success rather than failure.

Realistic fitness goals are ones that can be achieved without causing bodily harm. It is important to embark on exercise programs conservatively, starting out easy and gradually increasing intensity and duration. And if weight loss is on your agenda, make sure you plan to lose no more than one to two pounds per week and set realistic goals  for your body type.

Establishing measurable, time-specific goals greatly increases your possibilities for success. Countless individuals have approached me during an initial personal training session saying they want to “lose weight” and “get stronger.” These goals are so non-specific, they don’t motivate participant or  trainer. When no one knows where the client is going to end up, it is as if the client and trainer are wandering through a forest without a compass.

Before you meet with a trainer or start an exercise program, write down a list of specific goals. Below are some examples of basic measurable goals.

1 -  “I want to lose 25 pounds by my daughter’s June 15th wedding and to be strong enough to clean my house without feeling achy and tired the next day.” 

2 – “I want to lose 6 inches off my waist by the end of May so I can fit into my favorite bathing suit.”

3 – “Within the next three months, I want to improve my flexibility so I can reach items on the higher shelves in my kitchen and get up and down off the floor with more ease.” 

4 – “I want to do a strength and aerobic training program that will prepare me for my hike into the Grand Canyon this May.”

 5 – “I’m planning to compete in a triathlon in October  and want to start a training program that will help me prepare.”

6 – “I want to exercise enough that I can become less dependent on medications to regulate my (fill in the blank – blood pressure, blood sugar levels, moods).”

7 – “I’m always getting injured whenever I (golf, play softball, racquetball, tennis). I need a program which will adequately prepare me for the demands of my sport.” 

 Once these basic goals are established, write down what you will do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to work toward your long-term goal so you can stay motivated along the way. A trainer can help you accomplish these objectives in an effective and safe manner. Establishing realistic, measurable goals is the secret to success, the way to transform your “I sure wish” dreams into a sure thing.

Jan 102010

Photo for fitness article by Susan Dawson-CookAn article written by Michael Hill of the Associated Press and published in the January 8, 2010 issue of the Arizona Daily Star states that of 10 chain restaurants studied, menu items had caloric content an average of 18 percent higher than published. So it could be that that “500 calorie” burger actually has closer to 600 calories. Exact caloric content of foods can be difficult to control. One person’s application of mustard or mayonnaise to a bun may be done thicker than another’s. Then a  little bit larger bun or slice of meat can add up to even more calories. In the Arizona Daily Star article, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University described nutritional labels as ballpark figures and not scientificially precise.  Even caloric listings on packaged foods at the grocery have been found to be up to 8 percent lower than actual.

Our tendency is to say “Oh well. What is another 100 or so calories?” I’m here to tell you over the long haul, every calorie counts. An excess of only 100 calories, consumed daily over a period of 1 year, will leave you almost 10 pounds heavier by the end of the year!

My recommendations? If you want precision  in caloric estimations, eat fresh and eat at home. When keeping food logs, restaurant going customers should record caloric values  that take into account this  average discrepancy (recording a 20 percent higher caloric value per item than is listed in published literature).

Jan 072010

If you’re planning on a snack, be sure to remove the quantity you plan to eat (preferably 1 serving) and put it on a plate or in a bowl.  If you eat ice cream from the container, chips from a bag or crackers out of the box, you are more likely to eat  larger quantities. Remember a few hundred “mindless” calories here and there can leave you 10 or more pounds heavier by the end of the year.

Jan 042010

Susan Dawson-Cook and her children in Pinos Altos, NMA fitness article entitled “Take it Easy?” You must be thinking this is some sort of joke. No I’m completely serious. I’m not telling you to sit on the couch and watch soap operas and munch on potato chips. I’m suggesting that you don the sports wear and ease into it gently – like you slide slowly into the jacuzzi to get your skin used to the hot water.

What I see most often first of the year is the mad plunge fully clothed (that would be without even examining if the water is diving depth). So here we have Suzy exerciser who hasn’t worked out since that fateful day last January when she found herself so sore after a four hour workout, she couldn’t walk let alone sit on the john.  She’s back at it with the same fury – this time with a new outfit – running for 60 minutes, lifting the heaviest weights she can lift for an hour and then going for the elliptical burn until a waiting exerciser kicks her off.  “Nice,” she says to the astonished woman waiting. “Thanks to you, I won’t reach the five hour mark.” In another week, Suzy will (once again), hate exercise so much, she will avoid it until the first of next year, when she suddenly feels that urgent need to burn off those holiday pounds.

So how can you keep from being another first-of-the-year-exercise casualty? Here’s a few suggestions…

1 – go for progressive overload. Based on what you have been doing recently, gradually (yes, I said gradually) increase intensity and duration of your workout. That means if you have been doing nothing, you might want to start with an easy 20 or 30 minutes of cardio.  After this feels comfortable (usually 2 to 4 weeks depending on age, health and physical condition), you can begin increasing intensity or duration. I recommend  changing one variable at a time.

2 – Choose something you like. If its fun, you’ll keep doing it, right? What I love most is swimming, dance classes and other outdoor activities, like throwing snowballs at my children. 

3 – Measure your progress. Keep a log of how much time you are accumulating doing cardio activity and strength training or log miles of running or swimming.  See if you can walk, run, or swim that mile a bit faster and keep track of your times. If events keep you motivated, raise money for a charity or organization you care about through your participation in a walking or running event.

4 – Find an exercise buddy or trainer to keep you accountable.  Workout with someone else or hire a trainer to keep you motivated so you will strive to do your best. You are less likely to skip a workout if you have an appointment with a trainer or a friend is depending on you to show up.

5 – Look at the big picture.  Doing regular exercise (even if its 30 minutes) most days of the week will do much more for you than extreme exercise over the course of a few days.

Good luck! I hope you find 2010 your fittest year ever.

Jan 012010

Instead of putting serving dishes on the table, serve yourself a small portion of each item in the kitchen.  When getting more food requires a walk, you are less likely to reach for a second portion. Remember to eat slowly so your stomach has time to tell your brain “I’m full.”