by Nora Wallace Walsh

1. Use Your Posture To Feel & Look Better Instantly

I am sure you’ve heard your mother tell you to “Stand up straight!” or “Stop slouching!” a time or two.

Well she was right. Good posture is important because it helps your body function without pain.

Eight out of ten adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back problems generally come from poor posture and body mechanics, chronic strain, stress and tension, weakened muscles, and lack of exercise.

Most people spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk, talking on the phone, hunched over a computer, sitting in their car driving and slouched on the couch relaxing. This amount of sitting shortens and tightens muscles that will lead to lower back and neck pain. If you have poor posture your bones are not properly aligned and your muscles, joints, and ligaments take more strain then they should.

One way to check your posture is to imagine that you can draw a straight line through your ears, shoulders and hips. You should be able to keep your shoulders back and down, chest lifted, and neck lengthened. If you have trouble doing this and your body isn’t aligned. Through exercise and posture training, you can return your back to its neutral position of comfort.

Fixing posture problems doesn’t happen over night. It takes practice to be constantly aware of your body and making adjustments to your posture. Here are a few helpful suggestions to remind you to correct your posture:

1. Every time you pass a mirror do a posture check.

2. Think about drawing your belly button in towards your spine every time you are driving and come to either a stop sign or a traffic light.

3. Place post-it notes at work and at home to remind you to draw in your stomach.

4. When standing, roll very slightly from your heels to your toes. This will remind your body to stay upright, and it will prevent you from placing all of your weight on your toes.

5. Pretend that there is a string coming straight up out of your chest towards the ceiling, and this will help you to keep your chest up.

6. Set an alarm at your desk to remind you every hour to walk around the office or do a few stretches.

2. What to Eat Before and After Exercise – It Makes A Big Difference

My clients often ask what they should eat before and after they exercise. Eating a large meal just before you exercise can cause nausea, sluggishness or muscle cramps. This happens because your body needs energy to digest the foods you eat and blood flow increases to your digestive system leaving less energy-providing blood for muscles.

Skipping meals before exercising can cause low blood sugar, which makes you weak and light-headed. When it comes to eating and exercise, timing, quantity and the type of exercise you’re doing make all the difference.

If you’re having a full breakfast and doing a high-intensity activity (such as running, aerobics or kickboxing) give yourself 3-4 hours for your food to digest.

If your workout is more gentle (a long walk, for instance) you can get away with eating closer to your workout time.

Choosing foods that are high in carbohydrates and moderate in protein will satisfy your hunger, be easily digested and help normalize your blood sugar.

Examples of pre-workout (1-2 hours) snacks include: Portion sizes will vary depending on weight management goals, tolerance, and timing of exercise.

Apple and almond butter
Low-fat soup (vegetable, chicken noodle, etc.)
Peanut butter & jelly sandwich (choose natural peanut
butter and a fruit spread sweetened without corn syrup)
Banana and lowfat yogurt
Berries and cottage cheese
Clif Bar, Luna Teacakes, Sunrise Nutrition Bar

After Workout Eating Tips

Eating the right foods after you exercise is essential to helping your muscles recover. You should eat carbohydrates (such as a piece of fruit, raw veggies or whole-grain crackers) as soon as possible after exercising (within 1 hour), and eat protein (a hard-boiled egg, nuts, turkey, chicken, etc.) within two hours of your workout.

Experiment with different foods and timing and you’ll easily find the combination that feels best for your body.

3. Don’t Forget Water

Your pre-workout hydration status plays a very important role in your performance. Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue and cramping all of which interfere with a successful workout.

4. Tips for Increasing Physical Activity

As the summer comes to a close and kids go back to school it might be more challenging to fit your physical activity into your busy schedule. It generally takes a couple of weeks for families to get back into the groove of school again. It is not only an adjustment for kids but for parents as well.

Here are some tips to help you increase your physical activity with your busy schedule:

Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly.

* Walk first thing in the morning to
jump-start your day.
* Take a dance class.
* Play racquetball or tennis.

Keep workout clothes and athletic shoes in your car or at the office.
* Add a 10-minute walk at lunchtime.
* Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching the kids play.
Keep it interesting.
* Try something different on alternating days – a yoga or Pilates class two days a week and walk or jog on the other days.
* Train for a local 5K or 10K.

When in doubt get up and move.
* Wear a pedometer to track your steps. You will be amazed
how easily it all adds up.
* 3 bouts of 10 minutes of exercise add up to give you the same
health benefits as doing 30 minutes of continuous exercise.
* Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk to your destination.

Get the whole family involved.
* Enjoy an evening bike ride or nature walk after dinner with the kids.
* Play with the kids – dance to your favorite music, push the baby
in the stroller, etc.

Everything and anything you do counts. It is important to be flexible during busy times but don’t give up on your exercise routine. By taking care of yourself you will have more energy to take care of those around you.

From Editor Sarah: I know Nora Wallace Walsh personally – I used to see her and talk with her all the time at health and fitness-type networking meetings, and she’s just one of the loveliest, most even-tempered and knowledgeable women you will ever want to meet. Her site has tons of great information, and she does phone consultations, too – to get some helpful information from her, just go to her site.

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