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. 

What’s Trending in Health and Fitness: Trends of 2019

Any sort of challenge or eating plan should be cleared with your doctor before committing.

JLo 10-Day Challenge:

NICHOLAS HUNT/GETTY IMAGES

This challenge lasts for 10 days and includes cutting out all forms of sugar, carbs, alcohol and caffeine.

No starchy vegetables, candy, baked goods, certain fruits, grains, condiments with sugar, sweeteners (even artificial sweeteners), dairy, soda, and alcohol. The deal breaker for many is no coffee.  

For 10 days, the diet will consist of non-starchy vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and spinach. Unsweetened teas and seltzers, nuts, seeds, sugar-free nut butter, meat, eggs, seafood, avocado, spices, and seasoning are also allowed.

Since Jennifer Lopez challenged Hoda from the Today Show. the challenge got some big-time media coverage. With all the buzz, she had a few celebrities join the challenge.

So what are the pros and cons of this trend?

Pros: It brings awareness to the amount of sugar you may be consuming on a daily basis.

Cons: The backlash can be wicked, setting up for a big binge. Not recommended if you have big binge tendencies, a background in eating disorders or struggling with dietary balance. If you are trying to find an eating style that you can live with, steer clear of drastic changes such as this challenge.

With my clients, elimination is replaced with food that is enjoyable. Neuroplasticity is the science of rewiring the brain with reactions and thoughts. This is key to good health and longevity.

A 10-day fast with JLo won’t help you there. Since I startd writing this blog, JLo has now come forward to tell us the REAL reason she did the 10-day challenge, “J.Lo said it was in preparation for her role in the upcoming film, Hustlers, in which she plays a stripper, per J.Lo. ‘I’m sure that the outfits are going to be —,’ she said, motioning to her body, implying that her wardrobe would be skimpy. ‘So I’m, like, getting ready for that’” (Bratskeir, “Jennifer Lopez Revealed…”).

Forming new, healthy habits take 30, 60, or 90 days, and even this falls short to qualify as a habit change. If you are looking for a lifestyle change, plan for a year and commit to real changes that stick.

To summarize, I don’t think this trend is worth the agony, and it only provides extremely short term results. THANK U, NEXT!

Celery Juice:

The “originator of the celery juice movement” is Anthony William, also known as the Medical Medium.

The trend, basically, is adding 16 oz of celery juice to your normal morning routine. That is a plus, adding something to what you already do. Like tacking another post-it note on a bulletin board, you are attaching another healthy habit onto another. I like this kind of challenge! Adding more veggies to your diet is almost always a good idea as the typical American diet is lacking in fresh veggies.

Why celery juice? Celery is packed with vitamins, minerals, and potassium. Most health claims attached to celery juice can be said for all vegetables, and there isn’t much harm to consuming it. Unlike a smoothie, celery juice isn’t loaded with sugar. With its natural form of salt, celery juice can be a component of a healthy diet.

Health Claims of Drinking Celery Juice:

▪️ anti-inflammatory,

▪️lowers blood pressure.

▪️thyroid cleansing*

▪️treats acne

▪️treats athlete-foot fungus

▪️liver detoxification*

▪️melts belly fat

▪️aids in weight loss

▪️boosts hydrochloric acid (HCL)

▪️gut-friendly

▪️improves digestion

▪️promotes a healthy brain

▪️reduces the risk of brain degenerative disease

▪️boosts the immune system

▪️increases energy

▪️purifies skin

▪️reduces bloating

▪️rich in fiber

*THYROID CLEANSING: According to Anthony William, “the mineral salts in celery help to fight and cleanse the body of the Epstein-Barr virus, particularly in the thyroid. Celery can also help to boost the production of important thyroid hormones in those with hypothyroidism” (William, “Health Benefits Of Celery Juice…”).

*LIVER DETOXIFICATION: “Celery’s detoxifying properties work to remove bad bacteria, fungi, mold, viruses and other toxins from the liver; the phytonutrients found in the green stalks also can have a protective effect” (William, “Health Benefits Of Celery Juice…”).

To be honest, I started off skeptical as I committed to drinking celery juice each morning. I am typically not a fan of juicing for nutritional needs or extreme fad dieting. Anything that feeds unhealthy and unrealistic lifestyles habits is concerning.

I am a big fan of eating real food and living a healthy-diet lifestyle. As a Personal Trainer, Certified Health Coach, and Fitness/Lifestyle Expert, I understand the need for some to crash, cleanse, or take drastic measures in attempts to lose weight and improve health. For me, with weight training and bodybuilding, I could not survive on a liquid diet alone.

Food is medicine. Eat whole food whenever possible.

Diet is powerful. With a personalized diet, you can reduce body fat, increase muscle, reduce inflammation, and address your specific health profile. Just like a fitness training program, there is not a one-size-fits-all diet plan. Need a little extra help getting your diet right based on your health and fitness goals? Hire a pro HERE.

So what are the pros and cons of this trend?

Pros: Celery juice is a top anti-inflammatory food. This high water content vegetable is a good way to stay hydrated. I recommend eating a high water content diet (aka eat your water} as hydration is good for digestion and skin. Celery is readily available, although my neighborhood Ralphs was sold out of it on my last trip to the store. I use a Nutri-bullet and a nut bag to make it super easy to cleanup. ORDER HERE. (Scroll down to the Kitchen Gadgets & Appliances sections).

Cons: It takes 5-10 minutes in the morning to clean, clean, blend, and clean the juicer. You may experience acne breakouts and frequent urination. Mild eructation occurs in some as well.

Healthy routines first thing in the morning create motivation to carry you through the rest of the day. Here are my tips if you are going to give the juice a try:

DO use organic

DO use the pulp for baking or making celery crisp

DO keep it fresh

DO drink on an empty stomach

DO clean celery thoroughly before consuming

DOES balance ph levels

DOES contain Concentrated Phytonutrients

DON’T make ahead as it changes the cellular structure, therefore, limiting the benefits

DON’T mix with other juices

Here’s to my bodybuilders: Research shows that when celery juice is consumed as a pre-workout drink, it can increase circulation, promote endurance, and enhance strength training with its natural substance content. Talk about a natural pre-workout drink!

For this trend, I say I WILL KEEP YOU POSTED! But so far, I’ve had more energy for my workouts. I’ve skipped my afternoon 10-minute power naps on occasion. I don’t have such a strong urge to drink a second cup of coffee. I’ve had an acne breakout (which is very unusual). And yes, I have found myself peeing often. Bloated initially, but that went away.

Scraping

I came across scraping when I experienced a shoulder injury from weight training. I have tried cupping for various treatments, but scraping was new for me.

Scraping is also known as the Gua Sha technique. This centuries old method of scraping muscle tissue to stimulate blood flow and to promote healing has helped my shoulder injury. The pain relief is noticeable and lasts for hours.

Another name for scraping is the Graston Technique® (GT)  as it involves rubbing the skin’s surface to help break up energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

So what are the pros and cons of this trend?

Pros: Scraping treats everything from perimenopause symptoms, cold, headaches, lung problems, fevers, inflammation, scar tissue, cellulite, adhesions, stiffness, poor circulation, frozen shoulder, golfers elbow, and weak immune system. You can do it on yourself depending on what body part you are treating. It is less costly than major medical treatments. Scraping speeds up muscle recovery.

Cons: It hurts. Bruising can occur. There are not enough studies on this method for specific treatments.

Do not use if you bleed easily or are on blood thinner medications,

Do not use if you have deep vein thrombosis

Do not use if you have medical conditions of the skin or veins

Do not use with a pacemaker or internal defibrillator

If you are considering scraping, it may help with pain relief. It is recommended that this method is administered by a trained physical therapist.

A 2014 study found that “Gua Sha improved the range of movement and reduced pain in people who used computers frequently compared with a control group that had no treatment” (“Journal of Medical Technology and Physical Therapy”).

In a 2017 study, “weightlifters who had Gua Sha felt that lifting weights took less effort after treatment. This could suggest that the treatment speeds up muscle recovery” (“Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine”).

Takeaway: From my experience, a scraper is a great tool for the gym bag. Purchase a scraper HERE. (Scroll down to the Wellness section). I will continue to use this treatment. Keep you posted!

Sources used in this blog:

JLo Interview

Thyroid Cleansing & Liver Detoxification of Celery Juice

2017 Study (Scraping)

2015 Study (Scraping)

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.

Recovering from your workout

The 4 things you should be doing!

How you end a workout will determine how you start the next.

Recovery is a vital step to any workout regime. Let’s not confuse a de-load or taper down week with recovery. Not everyone needs a de-load or taper down week, but everyone needs the proper recovery steps to maximize their workouts.


How you treat your post-workout recovery will determine your energy, motivation, and performance for your next workout.


1) Hydrate!

Drink. Drink. Drink. Eat your water with cucumbers, grapes, and oranges.


How much water you need depends on how much you lost during the workout. This depends on conditions like temperature, humidity, indoors or outdoors, and starting the workout dehydrated. I love the drench of a hot yoga session or a HIIT workout because the sweat feels so gratifying. Just remember sweat is not always a good indication of a fluid loss. You lose hydration with just breathing out. Drink before, during, and after for best results. Your next workout depends on it. Dehydration can affect performance, motivation, and energy.

2) A recovery shake will do a body good!

A balanced meal of 2:1 carbs protein ratio works for many. Replenish to increase protein synthesis and restore glycogen stores. Your workout is not complete until you have consumed your recovery calories.

3)Get plenty of sleep!

Get forty winks mid-afternoon if you can squeeze it into your schedule. Call it a nap, siesta or a riposo. “A small study conducted by the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory followed a group of athletes over a three-week period. They did nothing different but increase their sleep and saw marked improvements in performance, including faster sprint times, longer endurance, lower heart rate, and an overall better workout” (Mahr, “How Sleep Affects Your Workout”). What if you can’t sleep? See tip #4.

4) Meditate daily with yoga.

Incorporating some yoga and mind bodywork is complementary to any regimented workout routine. It is good for the natural flexibility of the mind and body.


“Tight muscles that keep joints out of their natural and functional positions create accelerated wear and tear by inducing faulty movement patterns and joint motion” (Barlow et al., 2002; Borstad, 2006; Clark et al., 2008; Gross et al., 1993).


The right kind of yoga is perfect to help release all the fight or flight hormones racing around in your body, and quiet your monkey mind. Try our yoga class for sleep here.

Watch for this blog next month: Who needs recovery or a taper down week from training?