This month in the northern hemisphere we celebrate the summer solstice, aka the first day of summer.
For many people, this is their favorite time of year. The weather is lovely; you can get outside for walks in the sunshine and sit out on your patio with a good book in the cool evening. No shoveling snow, no traipsing through puddles in your galoshes.
But for some people, summer keeps them cooped up in the house just as much a winter does. When the heat sets in and you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, or the humidity is so high it feels like you walked into a sauna when you walk out the door of your house, you feel more like staying inside with the air conditioner blasting than getting a dose of sunshine.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the winter blues, is talked about a lot. SAD affects more than 10 million Americans. But there isn’t a lot of conversation about what high heat does to our attitudes.
Even here in Colorado, Gaiam’s home state, the heat can get unbearable in the summer. So I rely on these three things to keep myself feeling good when the sun is baking the world outside my window.
Holiday fun can wear you down — eating, drinking and festivities can take their toll on you mentally and physically. While a workout may seem like the last thing you have the time or energy for, it can enliven your spirit and alleviate stress. Think you have to choose between fitness and fun? Not so! Incorporate elements of the holiday season into your workout routine and you’ll add variety and interest and increase your motivation and enjoyment. Here are some ideas to help you put the holiday spirit into your workout:
If it weren’t for my dog, there would be many days I wouldn’t get outside. As my kids have grown into busy teenagers, it has gotten harder to convince them to walk with me due to their busy social lives. But my darling dog never denies my invite for exercise!
By The FIRM Master Instructor Annie Lee
Do you remember having to do the mile-run fitness test in school? Holy cow! I don’t know about you, but those were some of the worst times in my life. Not only did I hate the little-bitty PE shorts they gave you, but I also hated having to complete the test in front of everyone. I don’t know if it was because it was timed — or because I had those little shorts that would ride up with every step I took — or because I had to do it in front of everyone that made it all so traumatic for me, but it has taken me a long time to get over running that timed mile.
But at this point in my life I am finally over it and actually look forward to challenging myself. So, at the risk of sounding like my old PE teacher, let’s talk about how you can go about improving your mile time, whether you’re walking, jogging or running.
We all know the answer to this one: Because it will improve your cardiovascular fitness. When we set guidelines or goals for exercise, it helps us know where we are starting, what we need to do to improve, and how far we have come in the process. By challenging yourself, you feel good about what you have accomplished and you WILL get fitter!
By The FIRM Master Instructor Amanda Gantt
This is a popular question, especially for those of us who have hit the inevitable plateau with our personal fitness goals. Is it possible to achieve your goals with intense workouts three days a week, instead of less-intense workouts five days a week? I believe the answer is YES! However, you’re going to have to exercise smarter (and harder) in order to see results.
Our schedules are hectic and our personal time is limited. If you are currently struggling to maintain a five-day-a-week fitness regimen, you may want to consider dropping back to working out only three days a week, as this can provide you with the time and results you need, provided that you commit to intense, total-body workouts — and that you give 100-percent effort.
The holiday season is upon us, with many of our thoughts turning to food. The popular adage “you are what you eat” is literally true, according to new research that claims a person’s diet has a profound influence on their brain function and overall health.
Just as our eating style reflects and affects who we are, I believe how and where we live reflect ‘us’ even more. Our homes are intimate expressions of ourselves. Similar to the correlation between poor diet and disease, living in a toxic environment — in any sense, physical or emotional — also impacts our health in a negative way. Luckily, the opposite is also true. By creating an environment that supports our well-being, health and happiness, our bodies and minds will respond in positive ways.
The holiday season inundates us with recipes galore (as well as stress and temptations to overindulge). To balance that, choose an ingredient (or two, or three!) from my “healthy-self’ holiday recipe below, and treat yourself to a generous helping of grounding — whatever that means to you.
I love walking — outside, on a treadmill, whatever — but I have a little problem commonly known as lack of motivation. On days when it’s cold outside, or drizzly, or appears to be either of the above, I am easily dissuaded from working out … and easily persuaded to sleep the extra half hour instead. But I hate the “no cookie for you today” feeling of regret that not working out brings.
Lucky for me (and you!), GaiamTV.com has a ton of great walking workout videos. They’re perfect for working out at home — no weather restrictions, no too-loud-for-the-downstairs-neighbors cardio; just fun routines for burning calories.
My favorites combine upper-body strengthening with the lower-body workout. If they have gorgeous scenery, so much the better! These videos eliminate my excuses and, in time, my jeans size. Here are my top five favorites from Gaiam TV. I’m confident you’ll find at least one in here that will tempt you to pick up the pace.
Believe it or not, spring is right around the corner! In Los Angeles where I live, it has already started: The days are getting longer, the birds are chirping louder outside my window and I’m starting to feel that subtle energy change, both in my personal training clients and in myself!
This is the time when there is so much “newness” happening that I like to use it as a catalyst to create a resurgent flow of energy for the rest of the year. The best thing about creating this flow of energy is that the byproducts can include a fitter body, more energy and an influx of self-confidence.
But I can’t stress enough that change takes time. Starting too many things all at once usually ends in exhaustion and a feeling of “I MUST DO” instead of “I WANT TO.” One of the best ways to overcome the inertia and the absolute best way of creating a habit and sticking to it is to change slowly and repeat the new positive pattern over and over again. And over the next ten weeks, that exactly what we’re going to do!
A “routine” is a sequence of actions that are regularly followed — in other words, a fixed program. I love a good routine. In my head, I call them rituals, because it makes it seem more special. For example, every morning I have my coffee-making ritual. I’ve got my special glass where I heat the milk (via microwave), and I use this really cool milk frother immediately after. It adds an extra “wow!” to my morning drink. Right off the bat, it puts me in a great mood and is an awesome start to my day.
My furry family and I have been making a lot of trips to the veterinarian’s office lately.
A few weeks ago I took my cat, Bucky, in for a check-up. Confession: It had been four years since I last took him to the vet. But in my defense, the last time I took him in he hissed, bit and clawed at the vet tech and got a dreaded “flag” in his record. So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to the sequel.