Train Your Brain: The Top 7 Things You Can Do 

I lost my mother 7 years ago. When she talked of aging, maintaining mobility, memory, and independence were her top concerns. Brain health. There are things you can do for brain health.  Many conditions affect brain health and quality of life, including weight gain, “The bigger the belly the smaller the brain.”-Mark Hyman, MD. Although this may seem harsh, making diet and exercise a priority is key to healthy living and healthy aging.

Every single tip below, if implemented to some degree, will drive you towards a healthy weight, a healthy brain. PowerFit for the Brain! 

1) Eat fresh foods. If it’s man-made, leave it. If God made it, eat it. Taking control of your diet may mean some meal prepping or planning ahead, but it’s so worth the time and effort. “Grab and go” can be a healthy habit with some planning. The heart and brain are affected by gut health. Food is medicine, so respect the power of diet.

2) Get enough sleep — Studies suggest that sleep helps to flush out potential toxins that build up in your central nervous system throughout the day. Nothing feels better than starting the day feeling good from a restful night of sleep. Flushing out toxins is good for your brain health.

3) Exercise regularly — The next time you are lacking motivation and you feel like the scale is not moving, consider your brain. Your brain still needs a workout to get the blood circulating. Circulate those healthy nutrients with a sweat session. Regular exercise creates neurons to fight dementia and improve memory. You could tell yourself, “I’m off to create some neurogenesis” when you are in need of motivation to go work out. 

4) Socialize — Stretch yourself out and make time to interact with family and friends. When you socialize, you are gaining new perspectives, experiences, and challenges.  Stretching your brain’s ability to organize ideas and relay them succinctly promotes brain health. Like to read? Join our book club here and get social! 

5) Supplements —  Certain nutrients support better memory, alertness, and creativity. Healthy amounts of nutrients slow down the development of major mental health conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin d, vitamin B12, coenzyme Q10 are some of the top supplements for brain health.  It is important to consult your doctor before starting any supplements. 

6) Be your own health advocate and do your own research. Perhaps your doctor is prescribing statins, for high cholesterol. There is a debate on whether statins might actually boost the risk of dementia. Doctors are busy, so have your questions ready. Even coming prepared, you will walk away with a ton of questions. No time to do your own research or not sure of all your options? Hire a Health Coach. Find a space that is unhurried and discuss all your options. Don’t be rushed. It’s your brain, your gut, your heart, your health. Your body is a temple. 

7) Stress management. Find a way to manage your stress that doesn’t involve alcohol, drugs, or medication. Activities such as yoga, meditation, and prayer can literally change your brain. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for positive capacities including concentration, happiness, creativity, and rational thinking. Meditation strengthens the communication between the prefrontal and other areas of the brain. Meditate 30 minutes a day .

“Recent studies from Harvard University found that long-term meditators have increased amounts of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, and the auditory and sensory cortex. Meditation also fosters beneficial brainwave patterns such as alpha, theta, and delta. Meditation not only increases your grey brain matter, but also reduces stress, fosters clear thinking, and increases our capacity for empathy.”
BrainFlow

Kathy Dolan, ACE Fitness Pro, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, is a self-employed business owner. Kathy Dolan is a master trainer with years of experience with the secrets to real results! You will find her teaching and training clients at a gym in the San Diego area or on the Class It Up Virtual Studio, and writing health and fitness programs for clients of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her three kids whether it’s in the mountains or on the seashore. 

Preventative Medicine: Movement Assessments

Scheduling a Movement Assessment with a health and fitness professional should be part of your preventative, self-care protocol. More likely than not, this preventative protocol is not covered by health insurance…yet.

Health insurance won’t pay for prevention…

Rest assured, there is hope on the horizon. BlueCross of Western New York is offering a wellness option with a debit card program. The benefit amount is based on the plan selected and can be used at fitness centers, health food stores, and even for doterra essential oils! Wow, just wow. As a health and fitness professional, this makes me happy as it is a big step in the right direction! It’s a matter of time and I’m sure there will be more insurance companies following suit because of the many scientifically proven methods effective in health care. In the meantime, don’t wait until you are injured or in pain to do something.

Self-advocating and being proactive and preventative in one’s own health and fitness is something everyone can implement.

The importance of having a coach!

When I observe and screen for muscle imbalances, range of motion, limitations, balance, muscle recruitment, and joint range of motion, it gives me valuable feedback. There is a new level of intelligence with my clients and how they feel while moving in their bodies. That is priceless information that must be processed for healthy longevity.  

Assessments should be a continual process of refinement as the body changes. A set of personalized exercise programs should include corrective strength and flexibility exercises. This prescription is most valuable to health, disease prevention, and well-being when taken seriously and regularly. It’s not a replacement for medical care or a diagnosis, but it’s a guide to moving and living better.

Along with movement assessments, a look at nutrition is an integral piece of health within the body and mind and should be part of a health care regime. Food is medicine.

Different types of injuries:

I read a study early on in my career where they basically looked at the rotator cuffs of cadavers ranging from young to the elderly, and each one had some sort of tear or imperfection in the rotator cuff. That stuck with me as exercising the shoulder joint has always been a favorite. Everyone needs to be doing RC strengthening. Will it prevent an injury at some point? Maybe, maybe not. If not, perhaps it will lessen the severity of the injury. Shoulders start with posture. Poor posture and balance equal weak muscles, the perfect recipe for injury.

“Lesions of the rotator cuff (RC) are a common occurrence affecting millions of people across all parts of the globe. RC tears are also rampantly prevalent with an age-dependent increase in numbers. Other associated factors include a history of trauma, limb dominance, contralateral shoulder, smoking-status, hypercholesterolemia, posture and occupational dispositions. The challenge lies in early diagnosis since a high proportion of patients are asymptomatic. Pain and decreasing shoulder power and function should alert the heedful practitioner in recognizing promptly the onset or aggravation of existing RC tears.” (World Journal of Orthopedics)

Movement Assessments include all movement in the body.

Movement allows us to take on our daily tasks and athletic activities with confidence and energy.  

To move with an optimal range of motion, it takes a consistent strength program to resolve any imbalances we may develop. When our range of motion is altered by a major or minor injury, lack of activity, or disease, our muscles can become unresponsive and can lead to changes in structural alignment. It can be really frustrating to experience an injury only to have a subsequent injury impair us further. When a muscle is not being used, it becomes unresponsive to recruitment and other muscles may overcompensate. Love to be outdoors doing the things you love? It’s important to keep all our muscles moving with exercise and strength training indoors so we can play outdoors.

When I first started teaching, part of my training was to video record myself during movement classes. Football players, golfers, gymnasts, dancers, and most athletes use video feedback for movement assessments. Schedule a session today and get a true picture of how you’re moving!

Workout inside so you can play outside!

Kathy Dolan, ACE Fitness Pro, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, is a self-employed business owner. Kathy Dolan is a master trainer with years of experience with the secrets to real results! You will find her teaching and training on the Class It Up Virtual Studio and writing health and fitness programs for clients of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her three kids whether it’s in the mountains or on the seashore. 

Step Off The Scale…Grab A Tape Measure

Especially if you are just starting a workout routine. You can lose inches, body fat, and gain muscle without changing the number on the scale and Jenn is proof of that! Muscle is much denser than fat and takes up less space. Think of 5 pounds of styrofoam vs 5 pounds of dry peas. Peas are lovely and so is muscle.

Build more metabolically active tissue to consume all those calories, even at rest. More muscle means better health and improved overall fitness levels.

Now back to my Rock Star Client, Jenn.  As we continue our journey, I just had to share her progress with you all. Below is from Jenn’s Facebook post. I know you have heard it before, but making lifestyle changes is a process. A journey of self-discovery. Jenn trains and meets with me once a week. Each and every week, we work on a piece of the new and improved methods for getting healthy and maintaining health. Our sessions cover Jenn’s workouts, macros, dietary plans, and the safety of each exercise in her program. Our assessments of lifestyle habits help to make behavioral, nutritional, and other changes that promote better health and overall wellness. We create custom-tailored plans for a well-rounded routine. I am loving getting to know Jenn and her adorable son (when he’s not at school). I am beyond excited to work with such an amazing soul!

Flex Friday!

Jenn’s Facebook Post

My body changed so much after 40 – especially w the baby, who is now almost six 😳- and if I had a nickel for everyone who told me as I surpassed 220#’s that I’d never get my body back, The Boy wouldn’t need a college fund – truly, I don’t really care about having a “body” anymore, I mean, I have a man who loves me at 200+#’s (thank you honey, @big_tom_otto ), but being fit and being able to keep up and get up off the floor easily and not have my knees and shoulders and elbows hurt all the time; this.

And having the energy to have a good attitude when things come up that would normally piss a person off; this, too. And knowing I’m making deposits into an account I’ll surely be withdrawing from when I’m 70, just like my retirement fund but for health, not wealth; this, three! But mostly, looking at myself and liking what I see looking back for the first time in six years; especially and unequivocally, that!

I don’t have time to pack a bag and go to the gym and work out and then shower and change and pack up and get back in the car to drive home or work or wherever…My feet hurt from shoes and I didn’t want to invest in another pair of pricy sneakers. I didn’t want to buy equipment or videos or any other dust collectors. I also didn’t think I could afford what I wanted, which was Oprah’s trainer and chef, (we’re being real here).

I wouldn’t trust anyone trying to sell me something here. And I know I can sound salesy when I believe in something. So. Hopefully, for Kathy’s sake, I haven’t lost you. But really. It’s not impossible, it’s not a gimmick and it’s not cost prohibitive if you’re already spending $$ on healthclubs and classes. In fact, it’s more cost efficient because it’s customized – all pfat, no filler 😜”

Consistency Over Perfection.

Remember, health and fitness is a journey. This is why taking pictures, measurements, and journaling are all forms of tracking progress. They can be very motivating when you’re having a hard day. Below is a text Jenn sent me along with some pictures after I suggested she go back to her before pictures. She was pleased to see that she had lost “back fat” and the timing of that was perfect.

“It’s such a mind game, ignoring the number on the scale; all that work and sweat and I still weigh what?! It took these pics lined up side by side for me to really see it. It’s working. In my own time, on my own terms, with what I already have. #mytrainerlive” -Jenn

Work on the following if you are an emotional eater or if you find yourself feeling up or down each time you step on the scale.

Work on becoming a conscious eater. Breathe and count to 30 before starting your meal. Slow down. Eating fast can contribute to poor digestion and a host of health problems. “Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome,” said Takayuki Yamaji, M.D., study author and cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan.

  • Focus on real information about yourself like: I am feeling better about my food choices and moving towards a more authentic and healthy relationship with food.
  • Find other ways to measure your successes like how your clothes are fitting. Who cares if the scale is the same when you just lost an inch off your waist! Grab a tape measure. Balance your life.
  • Make health your main goal because what good is 10 pounds on the scale when you haven’t learned anything? New lifestyles habits will keep the weight falling off in due time. Be patience because the slower you take it off, the more likely it will stay off.

CONGRATULATIONS JENN! You inspire so many!

Kathy Dolan, ACE Fitness Pro, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, is a self-employed business owner. Kathy Dolan is a master trainer with years of experience with the secrets to real results! You will find her teaching and training on the Class It Up Virtual Studio and writing health and fitness programs for clients of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her three kids whether it’s in the mountains or on the seashore. 

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Not getting enough protein? Scary!

Hey Fit & Fabs! Scary is not getting enough protein after your muscle-building weight training. Scary is putting in all that sweat and hard work and not getting muscle popping results. Are you working out and still not seeing the muscle tone you desire?! You could be protein deficient.
Read ON!
 7 Reasons Why You’re Not Seeing Results!
1.) Not getting enough protein. Protein is the building block for muscles; if you’re not getting enough of it, you will not increase muscle mass and you may lose your hair. Scary!
2.) Not sleeping enough. During sleep, deep sleep, the body is able to repair and rebuild the muscle fibers that are broken down during exercise. Sleep is a building block for muscle. 
3.) Consuming too much alcohol.
4.) Not increasing weight and reps, ever.
5.) Skipping workouts and not making them up. 
6.) Lack of muscle confusion (aka doing the same thing over and over).
7.) Lack of a progressive planned periodzation program.
Stop wondering around the gym aimlessly and hire a Fitness Pro to help you achieve the body you dream of and build the muscle you’re lacking.  It’s really not scary. It’s science. You can do it!  

Check out this article by the New York Times!

-Kathy Dolan 

Kathy Dolan, ACE Fitness Pro, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, is a self-employed business owner. You will find her teaching and training on the Class It Up Virtual Studio and writing health and fitness programs for clients of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her three kids whether it’s in the mountains or on the seashore. 
 
© Copyright Kathy Dolan Fitness, 2018

Unsupportive Family & Friends: How to Deal

When a client comes to me, ready to make big changes in their life, so many times they are met with a complete lack of support from friends and sadly, even their very own family members. This can be heartbreaking and hurtful. Live your truth and stay on the path. Put your energy into the positive things. Take care of yourself. This can be one of the hardest things for some to deal with. Don’t back down, as your health, fitness and well-being matters. Living your best life with passion, goals, and dreams can spark jealousy, criticism, and fear in others. This is your life, your journey. You are not alone. Sometimes the ones closet to your heart can be really unkind. Get the support you deserve. Surround yourself with the people who support your growth and freely give you love and positivity.
My Experience:
I am one of seven children. I live furthest from the home base. Living in sunny California, I sometimes feel isolated from the everyday connections out in the Midwest with the family. I share the entrepreneurial drive with many of my siblings, yet I am the only one that is in the fitness and coaching field. Being a mom to three kids, you are constantly fighting with following your passion and being the best mom for your family. I have had resistance, negativity, “blocks,” and “unfollows,” even sabotages from exes. I’ve learned to grow from it and use the negativity to drive me in the direction of my goals. My philosophy is that if you can’t be supportive, please kindly leave the party.
How to Deal:
Keep your chin up, buttercup. When things get rough, grab that bar and start pulling for your life, your dreams, your goals. Pull really hard with all you’ve got. There have been times in my career where I am leading an exercise class and my body hurts, my heart hurts. But in the back of my mind, I am saying, “Thank God I am alive, thank God I am healthy.” Exercise has been my saving grace more times than I can count, and it has become an automated response to stress. When you’re starting to feel outward attacks from friends and family stacking up, and you can’t stop thinking about it, that’s a sign to go workout. In fact, exercise has been scientifically proven to boost the stress relief hormones, “If you exercise-especially right when the stress response is triggered-you burn off stress hormones just as nature intended, instead of letting them pile up” (Harvard Health Publishing. “Exercise Is an Effective Stress-Buster – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-effective-stress-buster). I even apply this method with my kids. They know me well enough that when I say, “We’ll talk about this after I workout,” to let me. It’s always a better outcome when you hit the pause button. This can be applied to all areas in life whether it’s your marriage, workplace, kids, or any relationship for that matter. As your body moves, whether it’s dancing, yoga, running, walking, weights, kickboxing, or swimming, it will allow you to clear space in your mind to pray and meditate.
Drop to your knees, pray, and call one of your SUPPORTIVE friends or family members, There are plenty of people out there that support you, so draw towards them in a time of need. They know you best and can give you good advice and perspective. These people in life are your squad, the bond is authentic. You can’t do this alone.
You’ve exercised, you’ve prayed, you’ve called your best friend, and yet when you lay your head on that pillow, your mind is still racing a mile a minute. When things get this overwhelming, go write everything in a journal. Get the pen to the paper and write down every thought, every emotion, good, bad or ugly. Think of it as detoxing on paper. Sometimes the answers may come, sometimes they won’t, but make an action plan. Ask for God’s help, and get some rest, sleeping beauty. You got some ass-kicking to do tomorrow.
-Kathy Dolan
Kathy Dolan, ACE Fitness Pro, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, is a self-employed business owner. You will find her teaching and training on the Class It Up Virtual Studio and writing health and fitness programs for clients of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her three kids whether it’s in the mountains or on the seashore. 
 
© Copyright Kathy Dolan Fitness, 2018