5 ways to stick to your exercise plan

1. Set realistic goals. Let’s get real, are you really going to wake up at 6am to run across the city? If yes, great. But if you're more likely to press snooze, then don’t sign yourself up for failure. Instead figure out what time of the day works best for your schedule and your energy levels and commit to working out then. What matters most is that those goals are both realistic and easily accessible. You can save that big run across the city for days you are craving a challenge.

2. Get it on the books. Treat your workout like it is work. Put it in your calendar and block it off so that you don’t double book. And keep reminding yourself that a workout is just, if not more, important than the rest. Because if you don’t feel your best, you won’t be able to give your best to the most important parts of life.

3. Keep it fresh. It is very unlikely you will ever convince yourself to do something you dislike, so constantly search for things you do. Substitute running with hikes or trail jogging, do weight training by way of barre method or CrossFit class,  get your cardio on the dance floor or in a Zumba class and sign up for that dodge ball team you’ve been secretly eyeing. Constantly trying new things with both hold your attention and force the body to break out of muscle memory. Watching daily deal sites like Living Social or Gilt City can be a great way to try something new at a lower price. Any time you find those discounted, introductory deals snag them. Who knows what you may learn to love.

4. Every step counts. Literally. Maybe you don’t have time or energy after a 12hr work day to go out and lift weights, but what you can always squeeze into your daily life is more steps. Wear a pedometer (I love the Fitbit) and start tracking your daily activity. Experts say you should walk 10.000 steps a day for better health. So start walking to work, parking your car 4 blocks away and walking to lunch away from your desk.  These efforts count and you should be getting credit for them!

5. Reward yourself. Reaching our goals is something to celebrate – especially regarding exercise! Set monthly goals such as 30 minutes a day of walking, 2 CrossFit classes a week, or Saturday morning yoga class. Whatever falls in-line with your realistic goals. Check in with yourself on the first of every month and as ask if you really, truly did meet those goals.  If so, treat yourself! Have a massage, get some new workout gear, or treat yourself to a nice meal. Rewards are great ways to take care of ourselves and reinforce positive behavior.

Get Healthy, Now. 10 Tips for Better Health.

Are you so overwhelmed with the current research on health and nutrition, that your put off a change all together? The holidays are right around the corner. Stop procrastinating and take care of yourself now.

Here are 10 easy tips that will get you healthy now:

Nutrition

– Eat protein before 10am.

– Cook at home whenever possible.

– Fill your plate with a rainbow of veggies.

– Support your digestion with cultured foods and probiotics.

– Stop watching your calories and start watching your carbohydrate portions.

Fitness

– Get off the elliptical and onto the weights.

– Work your abs everyday.

–  Run hills.

– Do yoga: stress control equals weight loss.

–  Walk 10,000 steps a day for better health. A pedometer will keep you accountable.

Unprocessed October

Join me and (3,000 others) for October’s Unprocessed food challenge and help give your body a break from its toxic load! Processed food is dangerous for many reasons, but on a basic level it inhibits the body from digesting and absorbing the nutrients correctly.  Once a food has been processed, it has been altered from its organic form and our bodies have trouble identifying and utilizing the food.  A regular diet of unprocessed food has major repercussionon the body.  Here are a few:

CANCER – Some cancers are known to be caused by carcinogenic properties which are included in processing foods.

OBESITY – Processed foods are most often high in fat, sugar and salt. If counting food calories, these are the perfect ingredients to cause excessive weight gain.

HIGH CARB CONTENT – Most processed foods include an overabundance of carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein.

HEART DISEASE – The trans fat in many processed foods will spike the cholesterol level and lower the HDL.

HYPERTENSION – Blood pressure is elevated by the high salt and fat content in foods.

DIABETES – The high sugar products and fast acting carbohydrates will raise the glucose to unhealthy levels.

FOOD ADDITIVES AND UNKNOWN EFFECTS – For color, consistency, taste, shelf life and more, processed foods include additives while the effects are unknown.

UNKNOWN FILLERS – Several foods like hot dogs and processed meats are filled with unknown parts.

LACK OF NUTRIENTS – If processed foods are the main part of the diet, the body will be lacking the nutrients needed to fight disease.

ARTIFICIAL VITAMINS – Synthetic vitamins, which lose their potency during processing, are added to some processed foods like bread.

Join me this month and cleanse your body! You will loose weight, ease the burden on your liver and become more aware of what you put in your body! You can follow our progress here for daily updates, recipes and tips!

Heeeere weeee go!

A Toast to San Francisco Summers: Stay Hydrated!

When the sun comes out in San Francisco, the city takes notice. The sunscreen and sandals come out, and the sidewalk cafes and running paths get packed. But often something important is forgotten: water intake. Especially when active, water consumption must go up with rising temperatures. The old “8 glasses per day” prescription is no longer one-size-fits-all. Especially if you are running on a dedicated exercise schedule, the recreational athlete should have between 10-15 glasses of water a day. Benefits of increased fluids for athletes include maintained energy during exercise, lower heart rate, body temperature control, improved blood flow to muscles for quick recovery, lowered muscle cramps, and improved athletic performance.

Tips on monitoring your hydration needs

Peek at your pee: Check the color of your urine to determine if your body is getting adequate flushing power. The darker the pee, the more dehydrated you are.

Hydrate before and after exercise: Drink 16 oz of water two hours before activity and the another 8-16oz fifteen minutes right before exercise. Afterwards, drink 16-24oz per pound of loss water weight.

Weigh yourself: Do this before and after exercise to monitor fluid loss. If you weigh less after exercise, you didn’t get enough to drink. If you weigh more, then you’ve had too much. Weighing the same (or slightly less) after exercise, shows that you are an effective hydrater.

Avoid stimulants: Sugar and caffeine are dehydrators. Avoid sodas, fruit juice and coffee, especially around exercise sessions. If you have a sweet treat or an afternoon Americano, follow it up with double the amount in water.

Electro-charge your workout: Sports drinks are specially formulated with electrolytes and carbohydrates to help replace the salts lost in sweat. These electro-charged replacements are ideal for activities lasting longer than an hour. For a more nutritious spin on sports drinks check out the natural brands such as Recharge, Kul Fuel, unsweetened coconut water, or consider making your own!

Recipes!

Electrolyte Sun Tea: In 3 gallons water add 4 cups lime juice, 2 cups honey, 1/2 cup sea salt, 1/2 gallon sun tea (with your choices of herbs: hibiscus, peppermint, tulsi, or lemon balm.) *Mix sugar and salt in warm water to dissolve. Add the remainder of the ingredients and allow at least one hour in the sun. Serve over ice.

Energy Water: In 1 quart water add ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp baking soda, 2 Tbs honey, 1 tsp.

Eat more local veggies! Now easier than ever (thanks, USDA)

The USDA is making it easy on us to explore the local bounty we have here in California and all over the U.S.  Their new site has an easy, search-able reference that allows you to track down farmer’s markets that are closest to you.

No room for excuses here- climb on your bicycle, tie down your running shoes and get yourself out to your local farmers market to pickup this weeks grocery list!

http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/default.aspx

The long term reality of birth-control pills

So many of the women of my generation have spent 10+ years on birth control pills, being told by our doctors that there are no side effects, minus a few extra pounds on the belly.  I am one of them, and honestly until fairly recently this has continued to be the best choice for my lifestyle.  However, I have learned that birth-control pills do more then raise the pant size- and why should we be surprised? All humans have delicate hormone cycles which dictate things such as energy levels, stress response, healthy sleep, adrenaline response time, thyroid, the ease of our menopause symptoms, fertility. etc.  And although menopause may still feel long off for some me, I have already begun the run the clock in terms of time to detoxify the body from the synthetic hormones I have used for years and begin to create a more healthy hormone balance.

The basics

Birth control pills have been used in the U.S for over forty years. Over the years many changes have been made to the pill in the variations of hormones used, estrogen and progestin, and also in hormone levels.  According to the Centers for disease control and prevention, the birth control pill is the leading birth control method used by women younger than 30 years (17% use the pill).  Over 30 different combination’s of birth control pills are available in the United States. The majority of the combination’s of these pills have 21 hormonally active pills followed by 7 pills containing no hormones.

How they work

Less frequently discussed is birth control’s effects on the body and its natural hormone production.  All hormonal birth control methods have the same objective: to prevent a mature egg from developing in the female reproductive system. This is achieved by inhibiting the two main hormones that trigger ovulation: the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and the luteinizing hormone (LH). Both FSH and LH are triggered by decreased levels in oestrogen and progesterone hormones that are normally produced in the ovaries and are decreased in preparation for ovulation. Hormonal birth control methods work by administering regular supplies of synthetic oestrogen and progestin and maintaining constant hormonal levels in order to prevent ovulation from taking place. In other words, birth control pills send the message that the body that it is constantly pregnant, by keeping oestrogen and progesterone high.  These messages are sent from the hypothalamus gland to the pituitary gland.  Repetitive passing and receiving the message of constant hormone levels will leave this feedback loop exhausted, possibly making actual conception much more difficult.

Other harmful effects include a heightened risk of: blood clots, cancer (specifically with smokers), stroke, cancer (specifically liver/ gallbladder), depression, anxiety, hormonal imbalance, (leading to later) difficult menses and menopause, weight gain.

References

Bauman College, Forum. Men and Women’s Health. March, 27th 2007

Berman, Lenna. Hormones and Menopause. Your health and fitness. KPFA. May 26th, 2010

Murray, Michael. The encyclopedia of herbal supplements.  Roseville, Prima Publishing. 1996

Deep in the Valley

Waimanu Valley is the seventh valley deep on the Big Island’s Hamakua coast.  Having grown up in this area I have spent much time exploring both Waipio and Pololu (the 13 valley chain’s book-ends.) This Christmas I vowed to make the infamous, much-procrastinated trek into the valley.

After gathering a group of 5 handy man-scouts, we packed our bags with strange dehydrated edibles and headed out- or rather, up.  This 18-mile round-trip hikes begins with a heart-stopping, intention- reevaluating 1,200-foot switch-back, straight up the face of Waipio Valley.  This gives you plenty of time to do a mental checklist of all the unnecessary things you brought- (whiskey- whhhy?!!.)

Once you’ve passed this test the sailing is pretty smooth.  The hike takes you in and out of 6 more valleys.  None being quite as large as Waipio and all with a lovely ecosystem change at the peaks.  The well-maintained trail through each valley is lush tropical jungle, filled with waterfalls and plenty of tree shade.  Each time you summit you find a completely different world with pine trees, sunshine and cool air.

The final decent from hela-pad 4 is perhaps the scariest aspect, as your 40-pound pack seems to push harder than the breaks on your worn out legs.  Again, more time to re-evaluate your packing choices. The trail is slippery, but the Lauhala tree legs reach out to offer a much-needed hand.

With a barefoot river-crossing and an exhausted backpack drop you find yourself on a beautiful, black sand/rock beach in the mouth of Waimanu.  I was surprised to find that Waimanu looks a lot like Waipio with its deep valley, rivers, waterfalls and crashing shore break.  The biggest difference I noticed was the age of the forests. I was humbledby the ancient kukui, lauhala, ulu and mango groves, expanding their huge canopies 80-100 feet above us.  Wandering back through these massive forests in search of water, I was hyper-aware of the ancient world that existed here not so long ago.  My Hawaiian legend senses are dangerously attuned and I made sure to exude respect and fear- leaving near by ‘night marchers’ confused on their next move.

Time to nest: river dip + pop tent+ fire building + an exploration into the world of dehydrated astronaut food (not living up to my 3rd-grade memories of sweet ice-cream) and a campfire Toddy that reminds me why I lugged that bottle of Makers 7 miles in.

Day 2

Despite the aching quadriceps we decided to explore the back of the valley and hike to Waihilau falls. We head deep into the valley, under the shade of giant canopy’sfollowing nothing pig trails.  Well worth the effort as we found ourselves beneath the chilling mist Waihilau. Waihilau is one the largest single drop waterfalls in the US falling a dizzying 3,000 feet.  Some of us brave enough to withstand the cold water (me and my cold blood stayed ashore)  swam out to climb the face of the wall and jump into the pool.

When we arrived back at camp we were met by our friendly (aka menacing large Hawaiian man with a gun) offering up an 8-pound bag of fresh bloody pork he has caught earlier that day. “No, no, we couldn’t possibly” – followed by several hours of engulfing ourselves in most intense pork consumption of our lives.

Waimanu Iron Chef we called it. Pork 3 ways!

The players- Steve-o- Sesame oil and onion sauteed boar strips. Leandra- Filipino-style adobo kabobs.  Smartly strung on the spine of t-leafs. J Cohn- Hawaiian style Laulau with river-soaked wild Taro leaves

And the winner? J’s Laulau took the cake. Despite the minimal taro splinters felt only by me (but easily remedied with a whisky flush) Jason’s creation was creative, resourceful and of course,authentic kine Hawaiian grinds. Ono!

The hike out seemed to be double the distance and time spent coming in.  All weight lost from used supplies, was gained in pork-full bellies. The last 2 hours were torture, but when we finally turned the last bend we were once again struck by the sheer beauty of the valley and our tiny role in its history.  Took me 27 years to make the trek, but I will not wait another year to do it again.

Mahalo nui loa Waimanu!