Are Your Vacations Relaxing?

Holly and Jessica on Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

My family and I just experienced two very different vacations.

The first vacation was spent in Arizona (yes, during the heat wave).  It was a high school graduation trip for my daughter, Jessica.  Jessica planned the trip and did a great job researching and registering us for some great adventures.

Holly and Steve in Winslow, AZ

We hiked in the Grand Canyon, and around Sedona. Visited a corner in Winslow, Arizona (lyrics in Eagles song “Take it Easy”), saw the largest meteor crater in the world, went on a Pink Jeep tour of the Sinagua Indian ruins, hiked and did Yoga with Yogi Blair, cooled off in the water at Red Rock Crossing and Slide Rock (I did mention we were there during the extreme heat, 114 degrees Farenheit!), went up in a hot air balloon, climbed up to the Chapel of The Holy Cross for one the best views in Sedona, and ate out every day!

Would I say this vacation was relaxing?  At times, it was very relaxing.  Most of the time we were on the go.  Our family likes to be on the go and live life to the fullest.

 

Merisa at Red Rock Crossing, Sedona

During our second vacation, (well, only Steve and I had the full week off for vacation; the girls had to work) we stayed home and enjoyed a visit from my brother, Farrell, and his wife, Gerri.  We relaxed by the pool, floated on rafts, sat around the fire pit at night, and enjoyed grilling and eating outdoors.  We didn’t make any real plans and did a few things around the house.

Which vacation was more relaxing?

 

Home

I would have to say both.

Although we were constantly on the go in Arizona, we were away from home and work.  We didn’t focus on what things were not getting done.  When we were home, even though we relaxed, it was hard for me not to think of all the things that I should be doing.  I forced myself not to work.  Some of you who received emails from me last week realize that I didn’t fully succeed with the “no working” rule.  For the most part, I did relax, and even read a few books!  But by the end of the week, I was washing all the windows.  It was time to get back to work.

What I did get from my vacations was a feeling of being recharged, and I was able to come back to work and see things more clearly, have more motivation to get things done, and be ready to move forward in my business and in life.

Vacations are important. Relaxing and recharging are necessary for the human body and soul.  The next time you are on vacation, really be on vacation and relax. You want to be able to come back to your regular life refreshed and ready to go.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer. 

Five Facts about Turmeric

 

Turmeric: This spice, common in Indian curry, has been making quite a stir with many claims about its health benefits.

There is a very powerful natural anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substance found in Turmeric, it is called “curcumin”.

 

This substance boasts many impressive benefits; here is a list of the top five of them!

  1. Curcumin has been shown to stimulate the gallbladder, which can help with digestion (especially the digestion of fats). If you are making a dish that is on the fattier side, consider adding some turmeric into the recipe to help your body digest the fats.
  2. Curcumin can also work against oxidation of cholesterol, slow atherosclerosis’ progression, and protect against heart attack and stroke, according to Andrew Weil, M.D.
  3. Though research is still being conducted, the University of Maryland Medical Center states that test tube and animal studies have shown that curcumin could work to prevent, or even treat, several types of cancers (including prostate, breast, skin, and colon).
  4. Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a hormone that helps allow for new neural connections to be made, can be increased by curcumin. The resulting brain growth can work against degenerative processes in the brain (like Alzheimer’s).
  5. Lastly, curcumin has been shown to be effective for the treatment of arthritis, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

These benefits certainly make an appealing case for picking up some turmeric on your next trip to the grocery store. Turmeric consumed orally is best used with black pepper to ensure absorption.  Maybe these facts will inspire you to try a healthy chicken curry for dinner this week!

Jessica Kouvo is an exercise and food enthusiast!

3 Ways Exercise Makes You Feel Better

When talking about the benefits of exercise, looking better is often the most popular.

Burning off unwanted pounds is a great thing, but let’s not overlook a more immediate benefit of exercise.

Exercise transforms how you feel!

It’s true. While weight loss takes time and extended effort, all it takes is one workout to begin reaping the reward of a more energetic and capable body.

Here are the top 3 ways in which your body will benefit from exercise:

1) You’ll Have More Energy
How are your energy levels these days?

(And I’m talking about natural energy, not energy manufactured by caffeine.)

Do your eyes pop open at the sound of your alarm? Do you bounce through your day with a spring in your step?

Or do you hit snooze half a dozen times before getting up and dragging through your day?

While you may not instantly feel like the Energizer Bunny, your energy levels will dramatically increase once you begin a consistent, challenging exercise routine.

How does spending energy create more energy?

“Exercise literally creates energy in your body. Your body rises up to meet the challenge for more energy by becoming stronger,” explains Samantha Heller MS, RD.

Research consistently concludes that regular exercise increases energy levels and reduces fatigue.

2) You’ll Have Fewer Aches and Pains
When your life becomes sedentary (this means you are inactive for most of the day) then you’ll quickly find your body developing aches and pains.

You’ll feel it when you stand up – a throb in your back, creaking in your knees and stiffness in your legs.

This is pain due to underuse.

Your body was meant to move!

Movement improves flexibility and range of motion. It also releases natural pain-reducing endorphins, which with a regular exercise program means that you’ll be moving more smoothly and with less pain.

3) You’ll Feel Happy and Confident
It’s hard to understand how 30 to 60 minutes a day spent on exercise is able to completely transform how you feel about yourself. But it does.

Think back to the last time that you accomplished something. Maybe you performed well at work and received kudos from your boss, or you finished a project at home that took weeks of your time and concentration.

Do you remember how that accomplishment made you feel?

You stood a little bit straighter, you smiled easily, and deep down you felt alive with excitement.

When a challenging exercise program becomes a regular part of your life, feelings of happiness and confidence also become a part of you.

From now on I want you to forget the idea that exercise is nothing more than a means to achieving a slimmer body.

Instead, look at exercise as a complete life enhancer.

Reach out to me and I’ll show you how to integrate a consistent, challenging exercise program into your lifestyle so that you’ll begin to reap the benefits of an energetic, more confident you.

Don’t wait to begin enjoying the benefits of an active lifestyle – call or email now!

Online Summits, Series, and Conferences

On occasion you will see emails from me talking about online summits, docuseries, mini series and conferences.  I only send information on the ones that I feel will interest my clients or ones that I am speaking in.

 

I am picky about what I am willing to email you about.  If you see an email about one of these and it does not interest you, you do not have to read it.  I would hate to lose you because I thought you might be interested in something and you aren’t.  Please read the ones you are interested in and don’t read the ones you aren’t.

 

The Thyroid Secret Docuseries that will take place on March 1 – March 9, 2017 is something that many of my clients will benefit from watching.  And it is free.  I find about 30% of the women that I work with for weight loss have a thryoid issue and they don’t know it.

 

I will be co-hosting the Weight-Loss Summit with Dr. Dan Ritchie, CEO of the Functional Aging Institute on April 3 – April 6, 2017.  We interviewed 20 people who have great success helping people lose weight in many different ways.  I wanted to bring together these different people so you can benefit from hearing them all in one place.  Learn which weight loss program might work for you.  You will hear more about this in the next month.

 

Learn what you can from these online summits, series and conferences; I know I do.  The best part is, they are free on the days the summits, series or conferences run.  You can always purchase them if you want to be able to go back and watch them again or if you will miss one of the days they are running.

 

I ask you to be open to exploring these online learning opportunities.  You will gain knowledge from them.  If that knowledge helps you or someone close to you, all the better.

 

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer. 

Sitting is the new smoking!

Sitting is the new smoking!

Sitting!

Did you know that something you do every day can lead to atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in arteries and narrowing of blood vessels) and calcified arteries? Cleveland Clinic rates these two conditions as risk factors for heart disease. As for the mystery culprit? Sitting! Sitting and being sedentary for extended amounts of time can have negative effects on your health. In honor of American Heart Health Month, I want to show you some ways you can reduce the number of hours in a day you spend sitting! After all, “Sitting is the new smoking”.

Standing Desks

Using a standing desk is an easy way to spend more time standing while doing work. Studies by James Levine of the Mayo Clinic have shown that sitting for extended amounts of time can actually decrease the body’s effectiveness of regulating glucose levels in the bloodstream. Unregulated levels of glucose in the body can increase the chance of type 2 diabetes. A standing desk gets you up, and once you are up you are more likely to get moving (and burn more calories!). Many places offer standing desks, like Ikea and Varidesk (this company also offers standing mats). For added cardio, you can place a small elliptical-style stepper under your desk (like this one) or just march in place!

Cardio Commercial Breaks

In one study, adults who reported more than four hours in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment had a “125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack” (As reported by The Mayo Clinic). If you just have to catch up on your favorite show, try to get moving while watching. Positioning the treadmill or exercise bike towards the TV can provide good cardio exercise. “Cardio Commercial Breaks” can also get you out of your chair during your favorite TV show. Once the commercials start, you start moving! You can choose to jog in place, do jumping jacks, or even create a workout system based on the type of commercial playing (for example: Whenever a car commercial plays, do crunches until the commercial ends, food commercials, do jumping jacks, etc.).

Get Out There and Move!

The best way to avoid being sedentary is to get moving! Try taking the longest walking route to your destination, taking the stairs, or even going out for a walk instead of watching TV. Wearing a pedometer or an activity tracker (such as a Fitbit) can serve as inspiration to make sure you are getting enough steps each day. You can set up friendly competitions with family and friends to reach the highest number of steps in a week. Not only will this competition boost your number of steps, but also your heart health!

There are so many ways to get up and avoid sitting, so take these suggestions, but find whatever works for you. Your heart will thank you for any way you incorporate movement into normally sedentary tasks!

Jessica Kouvo is an exercise and food enthusiast!

 

What’s your “Back” story?

Back Pain Story

Back Pain

When you reach a certain age, let’s say 50 years old, most people have a “back” story to tell, like the story of how you threw your back out while tying your shoe.  I have heard many stories of how someone bent over while sneezing, their back locked up, and they were stuck.  Before you reach the age of 50 years old, you most likely have had something happen that has affected your back.  Maybe the story is a little more exciting, like sliding down a ski hill and crashing into a tree!

My part of my back story consists of two bulging discs.  I hadn’t had a back problem until February of 2014, when I fell on the ice and landed on my shoulder and hip.  I didn’t notice the back issue at the time, because I had messed up my shoulder badly.  Fast-forwarding six months, I was sleeping in a recliner chair to ease the pressure on my shoulder (which was recovering from recent surgery).  During that time, I started to have pain and numbness in my leg and foot.  After an MRI, we discovered the bulging discs.  I started physical therapy and worked hard at strengthening my back.

Progressive resistance training to strengthen back muscles, kept the bulges from hitting my sciatic nerve.  Strengthening your back and core will help to minimize injury, and keep an existing injury from getting worse.   I can also say that regular chiropractic care and acupuncture have kept my pain and numbness manageable.

Movement is one of the most important keys to keeping everything working well.  The worst thing that a person with a back injury could do is sit around.  Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but most doctors would say to keep moving.  Just walking every day can minimize your pain.  Do you have a “Back” story?

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer. 

Fitting Fitness In for Weight Loss and Healthy Living – Book Release

ffi-weight-loss-and-healthy-living-front-coverFIND A UNIQUE BALANCE BETWEEN NUTRITION AND FITNESS THAT FITS YOUR LIFESTYLE!

Fitting Fitness In for Weight Loss and Healthy Living can help you to start a journey towards overall wellness by learning how to set measurable goals, stay motivated, make healthy food choices, and find a fitness program that works for you.

Readers will learn how to Fit Fitness Into their busy lives and feel the benefits of accomplishing that. They will learn “Helpful Holly Hints” on how to fit exercise into their day (one set at a time) from doing squats while brushing your teeth, push-ups on the counter while waiting for the microwave or bicep curls with a gallon of milk at the grocery store.

Every little bit helps to get in shape and feel energized.

You can purchase my book, Fitting Fitness In for Weight Loss and Healthy Living on Amazon, my website, or locally at Shelburne Farm Orchard.

What is Functional Aging?

shutterstock_120714760This summer I received my certification as a Functional Aging Specialist from the Functional Aging Institute.  What does that mean exactly?  The certification gives me great knowledge into working with mature adults.  “Mature adults” meaning over the age of fifty-five.  The course gives people a better understanding of the changes that occur with aging and the many ways you can minimize these changes through exercise.  Soon to be one of those “mature adults”, I was very interested in this certification.

We can’t stop the aging process, but we can influence how well we age.  The choices we make about the foods we eat or the activities we engage in will significantly affect how we age.

The course defined these different Aging Concepts:

  • Primary Aging: “The innate process of maturation and subsequent decline which occurs in the body’s cells and physiological systems throughout the life span that makes the organism more susceptible to disease, injury and death.” Basically your genetics define this. This accounts for one third of your aging process.
  • Secondary Aging: “Age-related deteriorations that result from lifestyle behaviors (physical activity, nutrition, tobacco, alcohol), disease processes (diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease), environment (exposure to toxins, air pollution, UV radiation), injury and illness.” This counts for the remaining two thirds of your aging process.
  • Chronological Aging: “The number of years a person has been alive. Your chronological age.”
  • Usual Aging: “Describes how the majority of individuals in today’s society “usually” or “typically” age.”
  • Successful Aging: “Based on research by Rowe and Kahn, this is defined by the ability to maintain a low risk of disease and disease-related disability; high mental and physical function; and active engagement with life.”
  • Active Aging: “A concept advanced by the International Council on Active Aging and adopted by the World Health Organization that encourages individuals to be “engaged in life” as fully as possible despite health status, disease conditions or socioeconomic status. It recognizes the importance of each of the seven dimensions of wellness – physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, environmental, vocational, social – to the overall well-being of an aging individual.”

The overall premise of the course is that exercising with effective exercises for this population increases your abilities to function longer in life.  The course material references “Master Athletes”, senior citizens participating in athletic competitions and/or games.  Some of these athletes were never competitive in their younger years and have just “aged into it”.

When I attended the Functional Aging Summit in June, I met Marc Middleton, editor-in-chief of the magazine “growing bolder”. His presentation was very inspiring and showed several people into their 80’s and 90’s participating in activities you would not associate with people of that age.

The textbook definition of Functional Aging is “a combination of the chronological, physiological, mental, and emotional ages.”

What type of aging do you want to do?  I don’t really have a desire to be a master athlete, but I definitely want to be in the “Successful Aging” or “Active Aging” category.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer. Learn more at www.FittingFitnessIn.com.

Brains, Balance & Dementia

seniors on computersFor the past year I have been teaching a Brains & Balance class to the senior populations of a few local towns.  I received my instructor certification for the Brains & Balance Past 60 class through Exercise Etc., Inc.

Studies have shown that when you increase cognitive ability, it increases your balance, and when you increase balance, it increases your cognitive ability. We have also learned that we should train our brain just like we train our muscles; with progressive resistance and overload, along with different types of challenges.

The class activities alternate between brain drills and balance activities.  It is amazing the results we are seeing in class.  You can actually notice a difference in a person’s balance from the start to the end of class.  The brain drills can be as simple as being shown a picture from a scene in a movie and having to recall the movie name.  Another example of a drill is when people are shown pictures of animals (3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 in a row) and they have to remember what kind of animals they were and in what order.  The key is that the drills progressively get faster and you have less and less time to respond.

An article from AARP “Exercising the body, using the brain may ward off Alzheimer’s disease” stated:

“In one study, scientists found that a history of exercise seemed to fend off brain damage in people who carry a gene that is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. A second study concluded that people who keep their minds active throughout their lives have lower amounts of a protein that forms the beta amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of the disease.

Recently an article in the Scientific American journal called “Brain Training Cuts Dementia Risk a Decade Later” stated:

“For the first time ever, researchers have managed to reduce people’s risk for dementia — not through a medicine, special diet, or exercise, but by having healthy older adults play a computer-based brain-training game. The training nearly halved the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other devastating forms of cognitive and memory loss in older adults a decade after they completed it.”

Whether it is exercise, better balance, or brain drills and brain games, the key is to stay active in body and mind to reduce your risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.

To find out where I will be teaching the Brains & Balance class this fall, check out our class calendar.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer. Learn more at www.FittingFitnessIn.com.

How to Get the Most Out of a Trip to the Farmers Market

farmers marketIt is the beginning of the summer season; warm weather and fresh produce are becoming abundant. Farmers markets are a great place to go and spend a summer afternoon shopping for farm fresh fruits and vegetables. However, they can be overwhelming with the range of options. By focusing on picking a few key items from the market, you can build a multitude of meals. During this time of year, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumber are in season and at their peak of freshness. Here are some of the health benefits of these foods.

Tomatoes taste their best when fresh and fully ripened, making them a perfect food to pick up at the farmers market. This versatile fruit contains vitamin C, vitamin K and lycopene (which has antioxidant properties and is beneficial to bone health). Tomatoes are also great for heart health (by lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides).

Eggplant is known for its striking purple color, but it has a high nutritional value to go along with its outward beauty. Eggplant can support heart health due to the fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. Because eggplant contains flavonoids, it is a very heart healthy food. The chlorogenic acid found in eggplant can work to lower cholesterol. The skin of eggplant is especially healthful, containing fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants.

Cucumber is an extremely hydrating food, being made up of mostly water and electrolytes. It has a high fiber content as well. Cucumber also contains vitamin K which helps with bone strengthening. This light and crunchy food also contains vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium.

By picking up these three food staples from the farmers market, you can make several different meals that showcase fresh fruits and vegetables. Check out these recipes for great ideas using our farmers market picks:

Gazpacho with Lime

 

Gazpacho with Lime Chicken showcases the tomato, but also incorporates cucumber and pepper (also a summer season vegetable).

 

 

 

Grilled Vegetable Salad

 

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta and Mint utilizes the tomato and eggplant, but also includes other fresh seasonal vegetables like zucchini and bell pepper.

 

 

 

Grilled Eggplant Steaks

 

Greek Grilled Eggplant Steaks showcases eggplant’s versatility and provides a nice serving of veggies.

 

 

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, speaker and writer. Learn more at www.FittingFitnessIn.com.