Finding Wellness in the Digital Age

Somewhere along the way the people of the past few generations have decided that it is ok to sacrifice health, fitness, happiness, and really overall wellness.  We have swapped these things for money, expensive toys and gadgets, stress, climbing the corporate ladder, crammed schedules, less sleep, bigger houses, faster cars, endless hours in front of the TV, and fast food.  We are also become a society of loners.  Our communication continues it’s progression towards completely non-intimate.  We’ve gone from spending time with one another, to talking to each other on the phone, to using  instant messenger, then to text messaging, and now we don’t even customize our communication anymore (i.e. Twitter post or Facebook status, where we just make very short broad statements for all to see).  This is not a slight against technology.  Technology has it’s place and many of these tools are wonderful to maintain relationships when separated by distance. It does seem however, that we are attempting to customize technology in a fashion so we no longer have to leave our homes, move around, or interact with anyone.  I suggest we take a step back and re-evaluate.  What factors are essential to our overall well being?

 

Food & Nutrition

Food is the cornerstone of society, our days are often based around meal times.  We get a great deal of enjoyment out of eating.  Eating can be an emotional release or an emotional hide out.  A great deal of our social interaction is based around meals.  Food is also the building block of our lives…through food our bodies & mind get the nourishment needed to function, grow, and even exceed others.  I think most people would agree on the importance of eating, so the question is, why do we eat foods we know our bodies do not want?  Why do we eat foods of which we are unsure of the origin?  Why do we eat foods that, well…are barely food at all?  There is a common myth out there that eating healthy foods and eating delicious foods are mutually exclusive.  This is absolutely false.  My goal is to make everyone understand the importance of eating the right foods, and for everyone to get the maximum possible enjoyment out of eating healthy, delicious, REAL, food.

 

Movement, Exercise, Play

As technology advances we become more and more sedentary in our lives.  We now live in a culture that sees walking as exercise.  This is a pretty disturbing thing…walking is part of being a person….this probably shouldn’t be our only form of exercise.  We spend the majority of our time sitting in front of computers or on the couch watching TV, without realizing the detrimental effect sitting has on our body.  People are not designed to sit, particularly for long periods of time.  Exercise & movement have benefits far outreaching weight loss.  When we exercise and sweat we flush out toxins, we strengthen our bodies systems (cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular, etc…), and we stimulate chemicals in our bodies that make us feel better!

 

Rest, Relaxation, Fun

This is overarching.  In the three items above, these four items SHOULD all be encountered.  Some of the combinations sound a bit odd, but is it not relaxing and restful to sit around the dinner table after a delicious meal?  Is a slow walk or a relaxing swim not restful and relaxing?  Exercise should not be grinding away on a treadmill or at some massive $5,000 weight machine, it should be fun and playful!

 

Community, “Tribes”, Interaction

Human interaction has been a part of life for millions of years.  People are stronger in numbers and we thrive in a community setting.  Even in the animal kingdom there are very few animals that go it alone…the majority exist in packs, prides, flocks, etc.  Being around others drives REAL emotions & brings happiness (and sometimes negative emotions too…but we need those as well).  So many times we see collective groups far exceed their aggregate individual talents, we have seen sports teams with inferior abilities topple the best of the best through teamwork and a chemistry they have forged.  It is upsetting to me that we seem to be losing the connection to community.  People now would rather drive all the way to the store than ask a neighbor for an egg or a can opener, we skip a personal visit in favor of discussion via the internet, we settle for TV rather than meeting a group of friends for a drink or for conversation.  The encouragement and confidence gained from a strong community is very valuable, and we need to resist draw of individualism.

 

So where do we start?

 

Food & Nutrition: EAT REAL FOOD! Go back to the way men ate for millions of years.  Meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and fruits should be the mainstays.  Enjoy the process of food…Go talk to a local butcher or farmer or get to know the person at the meat counter at whole foods or the grocery store, learn to cook (and make it a family affair), turn the TV off and eat dinner with the family or others, slow down and enjoy each bite.  Try to know where the food comes from, try to buy local.  Don’t buy foods where you are unsure of what certain ingredients are (i.e. cabon diaxylase or some crazy ingredients that sound like they came from your Chemistry class).  Don’t let the social pressures defer your eating.  Skip the cake at work.  Find a support partner who will also try to eat healthy…and skip the cake with them!

 

Exercise & Movement: Make it fun, varied, sometimes challenging, and sometimes relaxing.  Somehow we started confusing exercise with punishment or unpleasantness.  Remember how to play, run and jump, throw and catch, swim, run slow, run fast, climb, row, whatever brings a smile to your face or lets you feel free.  Go to the gym, lift weights, play a sport, join a league, or run a race.  The potential here is endless.  Just don’t fall into the trap of couch + TV.  We often here the phrase, “it takes money to make money”.  Well, this can also be applied to exercise and movement in that it takes energy to make energy.  You might be surprised how good you might feel if you just get up and move around a little.  Personal training is a great way to get started and to start getting in shape with some human connection.

 

Rest, Relaxation, Fun: Don’t forget to unwind.  We don’t always have to be doing something.  Turn on some music, turn off the TV, and just sit and relax.  Turn of the cell phones and the TV and have a great conversation.  Trade back massages with your significant other.  Go to bed early.  Take a catnap.  Let yourself feel at ease once in a while.

 

Community: Buck the trend.  Unplug a little bit, leave the iphone in another room, skip a TV show.  Set up meetings or meet-ups with people of similar interests.  Have neighborhood cookouts or parties. Ditch the big gym membership and join a smaller community.  Develop your community…get to know the guy who fixes your car, the librarian, and the barista. Support local Cincinnati business…buy local if you can afford it, help others.  Surround yourself with people that are good influences, people with similar goals, and people that challenge and inspire you.

 

It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, but think about a few of these things and how they can improve your overall wellness starting TODAY!

Comparing yourself to others… the tricky subject of comparisons

Our culture is one of constant comparisons. Comparing ourselves to co-workers, celebrities…keeping up with the neighbors…fitting in. So fitness is no different. Everyone eyes up their “competition” at the gym. “I want to be as skinny as her”, “He’s not that strong, I can lift more than him”, “At least my butt isn’t that big!” If you frequently find yourself in these situations, then you need to step back and reevaluate. An environment where you are constantly comparing, and doing so in an often negative manner, is not a healthy one. If we want to have a sustainable change in our health, and we want to get into a rhythm of working out well and feeling good about it, then we need to try to place ourselves in a supportive community. The benefits of a supportive group that consistently challenges us and more importantly, ENCOURAGES us are immeasurable.

Here is where those comparisons come up short:

Shortfall #1 Details & Resources
You may see someone is in better shape than you, and that might be true, but that doesn’t take into account their life situation and how much time they can spend in the gym. You may have more obligations or responsibilities in your life. They may have years of background playing sports or working out whereas it might be a newer endeavor to you. They may have unlimited resources, a personal chef to assure healthy diet, daily personal training, and so on.

Shortfall #2 Genetics
This one is pretty simple. Genetics exist. It’s not to say that with hard-work you can’t alter their path a bit, but if you are 5’3” you aren’t going to be 6’0”. If you have a skinny build you can certainly get strong, but you probably won’t develop into an Olympic shot-putter. So when you are comparing to someone else you are literally comparing to someone with a different genetic make-up (unless you are comparing to a twin).

Shortfall #3 Limited Comparison
Being better or different at one thing is JUST that… one thing. Just because someone has a faster 5k time, a bigger bench press, has a better figure, weighs less or weighs more. Often we look at someone that has a different body type and think we can do less. Sure, the small and thin woman might have a fast 5k time, but perhaps you have a build that allows you to be stronger than her. This link is a good reminder that there are 50 people that are amongst the best in the world at their sport and they all look tremendously different! If they compared to people in other sports, it would hurt their own progress.

Shortfall #4 Bias against Self
Your own comparisons are biased! People have a tendency to compare what they are worst at to what other people are good at. This isn’t a fair comparison! Often these quick comparisons are not looked at with clear lenses… and many of us are hard on ourselves.

What does matter…
We talked a bit about why the comparisons don’t make logical sense. But here are a few truths:
Because someone is better at one thing or even multiple things at the gym, that doesn’t mean they are happier than you or have more self-worth than you. They may have to work so hard in the gym because they are searching for that self-worth.

There is one comparison that matters. You vs. You! The real goal you should have is to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Work to be a little bit better than you were yesterday. That is the goal!

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” You are robbing yourself of happiness with continual comparisons. Ultimately what matters is your happiness. Working out is an awesome thing. Absent these unhealthy comparisons you will almost always leave the gym feeling better than when you got there. THAT is what matters!

You might be thinking, “Great idea in theory, but not as easy in the real world”, and there is some truth to that. However, here are a few things that might be able to help:

1. Ditch the big globo-gym routine and go with the local folks. Gyms like Camargo Personal Fitness will cater to you, help you track your progress against past performance instead of tracking against others.
2. Stop reading so many magazines and blogs (except this one of course!), idolizing airbrushed and photo shopped celebrities and striving for things that aren’t even real!
3. Keep a training log/journal and track progress against yourself. That is a worthy comparison and one that hopefully gives you some healthy motivation. Again, the goal is to just be a little bit better than yesterday! Remember to celebrate your progress.
4. Appreciate the different talents and abilities of others. If you see someone you see that has a talent or an ability that you think is impressive. Be impressed, tell them you are impressed, and if you want to know more… ask them how they got to where they are at. You will be surprised with how warmly this will be received. Use them as a source of inspiration, not of jealousy.

Cincinnati Favorite – Keegan’s Seafood

 

Aside from working at providing the best personal training in Cincinnati and running the best gym in Cincinnati, we are always on the lookout to get best best local nutritious food in the Cincinnati area. About 6 years ago I stumbled on Keegan’s Seafood, and haven’t found anything that compares to it. Keegan’s Seafood is a great little fish market in Anderson (and most recently opened a second location in Hyde Park Square around 2014). Owned and operated by Tom Keegan, they fly in fresh fish every day they are open. They even have sushi-grade tuna, so take it home and enjoy it raw! The emphasis at Keegan’s is freshness; they only source scallops that are gathered on the final day of a ship’s trip, so they are not sprayed with chemicals. A live lobster tank is always full, and the display cases are filled with various organic farm raised and wild caught fish, as well as oysters, mussels, and crab.

Tom is so knowledgeable about the seafood industry. He can tell you the details of exactly how each item should be sourced, where his products come from…he can also tell you how to prepare just about anything.

On the shelves, you will also see many other (mostly local) products promoted, which gives his store a nice variety. A few local (and other grocery) items usually available: Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Italian Torta (made in store), local meat, local eggs, various rubs, local gelato, and more.

On my most recent visit I took home some Tuna, scallops, and mussels. I was very pleased with all three, but was especially happy to be able to have some fresh, delicious, raw tuna. As far as I know, it is the only place you can get sushi-grade tuna. At Keegan’s, the price is a little bit higher, but the quality is unmatched! I highly recommend you take a trip to Anderson or Hyde Park, and support a great local food supplier.

As of the time of this entry, Keegan’s is open Mon-Sat 10:00 to 6:30.
Visit their website here

*photo rights belong to Keegan’s and is housed on their website

Cincinnati, Get Ready for Beach Season with our Summer Health Tips!

When the weather gets warmer clothes get lighter, more skin is shown, and vacations get planned. There is one truth for most people from 15 – 95…they all like to look good in a bathing suit!

The spring and summer can actually be a great time to get in shape and eat healthy. Here are a few tips for using the season to get healthy (or at least how to avoid some unhealthy stuff)…

Evening walks
In the spring and early summer it still gets cool in the evening. An hour or two after dinner, go for a nice walk! There is a laundry list of benefits to walking… there are numerous studies that show that walking boosts your mood and makes you feel better, it improves triglyceride levels, it boosts your immune system, it relaxes your brain, and there are other more long-term benefits like an 18% lower risk of heart disease (Harvard Health Publications)! Walking also will burn calories and help you stay slim and keep your metabolism humming!

Fresh produce, hot grills
The perfect summer foods align with the season. As the spring and summer come around you start to see great fresh produce hit the farmer’s markets. The perfect summer meal is some nice grilled fish or lean meats and some grilled or steamed vegetables! This is a healthy meal that you could enjoy several times a week. Mix up different spices and try making some of your own healthy sauces and marinades.

Play
It might sound silly to some of you, but we shouldn’t forget to play! Get outside, go for a hike, play with your kids, grandkids, nieces/nephews, or your spouse!!! Throw a Frisbee, throw a ball, go for a jog with your dog. It’s a shame so many of us forget the joys of playing outside, but stop taking yourself so serious and get outside to play!!! If you want to read a great summer book, check out Exuberant Animal, it is an excellent book by Frank Forencich… you never know… it might even inspire you to get outside and play!

If you’re going to drink, drink intelligently
Summer time means parties. This often means drinks. While by and large, drinking is an unhealthy past time. I want to provide a slightly less bad-for-you alternative. The Basic Margarita… skip the bottled mix that is crammed with sugar… get a nice quality tequila and mix with ice, juice from a lime, and some soda water / carbonated water…. Garnish with salt if you prefer. This is a TASTY drink with far fewer calories and far less ingredients that were created in the lab that made your margarita mix

Get outside
This one is very simple. Get outside. Even if it is hot, get out there… get some Vitamin D. Being outside has a number of positive effects on us including the body’s production of vitamin D.

Personal Training
Okay, Okay… I had to mention it though, right? If you are looking to get healthy for the summer, why not have a professional help you. Our experienced and highly qualified trainers are the best personal trainers in Cincinnati. They can help you get ready for the summer and help you shed those extra pounds you picked up over the winter!

Human Movement & Balance – Beam Walks

In modern times, we tend to be largely sedentary.  We don’t have to gather or hunt our food, we have comfortable couches, long commutes, desk jobs, and good tv programming.  Sometimes it is important to refine and train basic human movements as simple as walking and balancing.  Please take a couple minutes and watch the video demonstrating forward and backward beam walks.  For our members, you have likely seen or used the seemingly simple beams in the gym… but we are going to post a few different videos showing the diversity of the exercises and movements you can incorporate using these beams!

Getting Madeira & Indian Hill in shape for 2016

As we come up to just over a year running our personal training studio in the Madeira and Indian Hill area, we think back over the year past year and we think about looking forward to the next year. When we do this, it is a great time to set goals for the year to come. We wanted to share a time-tested method for setting goals…it is called the SMART method.

Specific – The goal should apply to something specific, not broad
Measurable – you need to be able to measure your goal so you know if you achieve it or not
Attainable – This should be a goal that is attainable and can be accomplished
Realistic – This goes hand-in-hand with realistic, it should be something that you can accomplish
Timed – there needs to be a date by which you need to achieve the goal

A couple examples of SMART goals:

– I will lose 12 pounds by July 1st 2016. This is specific; it has the number of pounds to be lost. It is measurable, weight is something easily measured. 12 pounds of weight loss is attainable & realistic for most people that are above a normal weight… typically 1 pound per week is a healthy goal… it is timed with a deadline
– I will be able to run 5k in 27 minutes by May 1st 2016. Similarly to the prior goal, it is specific to a distance & time, it is measurable, and has a deadline. Whether it is realistic/attainable depends on the individual.

As you set goals, it is also important to not try to achieve EVERYTHING at once. Pick a few key things that you want to work on, and then if you attain those, you can work on additional goals.

Here a few ideas for some goals that are good to work on (remember to take these and add in timelines!)
– Workout 4 days a week, 3 days a week, etc…
– Lose 10 pounds by a set date
– Achieve a certain lift (i.e. 200 pound squat), run (25 minute 5k), bike, etc…
– Complete a new challenge (do a 5k, a triathlon, etc)
– Give up soda/pop
– Give up coffee (try tea)
– Give up sugar/cream in coffee
– No fast food
– No fried food
– No added sugar
– Eat a salad every day
– Go for a 20 minute walk 3 days per week
– Average 7+ hours of sleep each night
– Spend 10 quiet minutes reflecting / meditating each day
– Give up television for 5 days per week
– Read 1 book on wellness per month

We are happy to track your goals and try to help you achieve them! Please email info@camargopersonalfitness.com and give us your goals, we will hold you accountable!

Book Review – Spark – Exercise and the Brain

I recently had the chance to read Dr. John Ratey’s book “Spark”. This is a really interesting book which explores the connection between our brains and our bodies, specifically the brain and exercise. The book presents very convincing facts and data showing the extraordinary positive effects exercise has in our lives. Ratey digs into how exercise helps with manage our weight, our moods, stress, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, and more. I think everyone should take the time to read this book. We all deal with the items Ratey discusses on a daily basis, and our family members deal with them as well. “Spark” can give you a refresher, a wake-up call, or open your eyes to how we deal with different things in our day to day lives. Additionally, Ratey takes the time to explain how we can effectively adopt some of these exercise philosophies for ourselves, and how we can expect to see the benefits manifest.

One of the things I found most interesting was the effects of exercise on learning. The book opens with a great story on the physical education program at a school system in Naperville. Long story short: The schools cut class time, increased gym time, took out the competitive nature of normal phys ed (team sports, dodgeball, etc.)and focused on improving vs. only yourself, and give their gym teachers freedom to experiment. This all resulted in higher test scores, higher grades, more attentiveness, and less obesity.

This reinforces what we already knew! Exercise and movement is a must!

“It’s about growth versus decay, activity versus inactivity. The body was designed to be pushed, and in pushing our bodies we push our brains too. Learning and memory evolved in concert with the motor functions that allowed our ancestors to track down food so as far as our brains are concerned, if we’re not moving, there’s not real need to learn anything.”

NOTES: We have a compound in our body called BDNF – Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – It is a protein produced inside nerve cells when they are active. It serves as Miracle-Gro for the brain, fertilizing brain cells to keep them functioning and growing, as well as spurring the growth of new neurons. When we exercise we produce more of this! So we actually get smarter from exercisin

Under new ownership!

As you may have already heard, Camargo Personal Fitness is under management.  We want to give a huge thank you to Lauren & Dave for their support in the transition…and we are so happy that Lauren is staying on as a trainer!  In fact, all our trainers will still be staying around!  We are excited to be a part of the Camargo Personal Fitness family and really look forward to trying to slowly improve the facility and become closer with all of our members!

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Camargo Personal Fitness is a different kind of fitness facility. We provide you with a unique, one-on-one health & fitness experience. Together with your nationally certified personal trainer, you will reach your goals and live a healthier life.

Our non-competitive environment welcomes a diverse clientele: men, women and teens of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. Skip the big gyms where you are just another client and join us for some personal attention!