It is hot out! And it is going to stay this way for a few months. Here are some reminders of ways to “beat the heat.”

Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic) than usual, no matter what your activity level is. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If your physician limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him/her how much you should drink during this hot weather. Limit your alcoholic drinks or drinks with large amounts of sugar because they can actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Avoid very cold drinks because they may cause stomach cramps.

Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the public library or a coffee shop – even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. During an especially hot period, call the health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.

Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

The best clothing to wear during the heat is lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. If you are outdoors and in the sun, never wear dark clothing and always wear a hat.

NEVER leave any person or pet in a closed, parked vehicle.

Any of us at any time can suffer from heat-related illness; some people are at greater risk than others and need to be checked on regularly:

  • Babies and young children
  • People aged 65 or older
  • People who have a mental illness
  • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

Check on adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need much more frequent watching
If you must be out in the heat, cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose while sweating. But, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports drink. Rest often in shady areas. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Put on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

For more information regarding heat-related illnesses, talk to your health care provider.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

I know that I write about fall prevention a lot, but falling is a serious issue as we age. More than 1 out of 3 older adults fall each year. These falls can be very serious for our long-term health, our health care costs, and our dependency on friends and family.

Many different factors can cause falls:

  • Medications: Read about side effects for the medications. Talk to your physician about all your medications including over-the-counter medications.
  • Medical conditions: Joint problems (knees, joints, ankles, etc) can contribute to the risk of falling. Uncontrolled blood pressure and blood sugar can cause dizziness. Ear and sinus infections may increase dizziness.
  • Sedentary lifestyles: After the age of 30, we begin losing muscle mass; therefore, to counteract the aging process, we must remain active throughout our lives. Without muscle strength, we cannot stand and walk safely.
  • Environment: At all ages, we need to be observant of fall hazards, such as wet floors, cords, rugs, uneven surfaces, children and pet toys, and so much more. Some of these hazards can be removed, but some we need to watch for every day.
  • Shoes: I recommend shoes with a nonslip sole that can be tightened with laces or Velcro as they stretch out. Slip-on shoes, especially flip flops are not a safe choice.

To prevent falls, we need good balance and the ability to recover; both of those require muscle strength. Balance is the process of controlling our body’s center of mass (center of gravity) with respect to its base of support, whether our body is stationary or moving. Recovery is our ability to right ourselves after losing balance, before it becomes a fall. Exercise can reduce the risk of falls. Below are some basic exercises that can help keep us safe and healthy.

To prevent falls:

  • Practice balance with stationary poses, such as side leg raises using the chair for support, and toe stands (calf raises) behind the chair.
  • Practice muscle strengthening exercises, such as seated leg extensions, standing hamstring curls behind the chair, stand up/sit downs without using your arms to pull up.
  • Practice righting reactions or training muscles to react and recover from loss of balance. Try standing lunges – front, back, and side.
  • Strengthen abdominal and other core muscles.

For more information regarding fall prevention, talk to a Personal Trainer or join a group fitness activity such as SilverSneakers™, SilverSneakers™ Flex, or water fitness classes. Participate in a Stability class. SilverSneakers™ classes are offered at Athens Limestone Wellness. SilverSneaker™ Flex classes are classes outside a gym and are scheduled below:

M/W/F (Strength & Balance) at Athens Senior Center – Pryor Street at 8:30 -9:15
M/W (Strength & Balance) at East Limestone Senior Center – Nick Davis at 11:30 -12:15
T/Th (Cardio & Strength) at Round Island Baptist Church – Brownsferry Rd at 10 -11
Th (Stability) at East Limestone Senior Center – Nick Davis at 11:30 – 12:15

For more information, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

In class the other day one of my students asked about eating goat meat. Then, when I got home and started looking at one of my fitness/nutrition magazines, I was surprised to find an article on goat meat.

The article states that the popularity of eating goat meat and its availability in the U.S. is growing. With our desire for new and different cuisines and restaurants that offer new foods, goat meat will be seen more and more. Goat is widely eaten in China, India, parts of Africa as well as central and South America. My first taste of goat was in a Mexican restaurant in Houston, Texas. On the menu, it was called “cabrito.”

Nutritionally, goat is comparable to other meats. Roasted goat has about 122 calories per 3 ounce serving. It is lower in total fat than lamb, beef, or pork. Like most other meats, it has about 7 grams of protein per ounce.

As with any meat, the best cooking method depends on the cut and how lean it is. Goat can be grilled, roasted or stewed. Some people describe goat as gamey or similar to lamb. Others find it quite mild in flavor, with an intensity midway between pork and beef. I remember it as being mild in flavor and not fatty or greasy.

Because of my environmental concerns with U.S. diets high in beef and pork, I was thrilled to hear goat is more environmentally sustainable. Goats can be raised in areas that are drier and hotter and more rugged than that used for beef. Also, goats are more efficient at converting plants they graze on into meat.

Below is an easy marinated goat recipe:

Ingredients:
1-4 lbs. of goat meat (stew meat or bone-in cuts such as shanks or chops work well)
1/2 c. olive oil
1 Tbl. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 Tbl. white vinegar
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced

Directions:

Set the goat meat aside. In a food processor, combine all remaining ingredients and pulse into a paste. Coat the goat meat completely with the paste, wrap it in aluminum foil, and refrigerate. Marinate for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 400? F. Bake the goat, in the foil, for 40 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350? F and bake for an additional 2 hours. The meat is finished when the juices run clear. Let the cooked meat rest for 20 minutes before carving. Serve over rice.
For more information on healthy lifestyles, call Janet Hunt, certified Health Coach, at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Maintaining weight loss long-term is difficult. Research shows that most dieters regain their lost weight within five years and up to two- thirds gaining more weight than they lost. But researchers have also learned some of the traits and strategies that help increase a person’s chance of maintaining their weight lost. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) has tracked more than 10,000 people over the last 23 years who have successfully maintained their weight lost. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your weight loss:

Focus on lifestyle changes and not a diet. These habits/changes must be adaptable to your situation and needs and sustainable for long term.

Move it! The NWCR reports that 90% of successful losers exercise an average of one hour a day. This may seem discouraging, but activity does not need to be strenuous or extreme. The most common exercise reported to the NWCR is walking.

Resistance training helpsbuilds to preserve and build muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day, even while resting. Focus on working all the major muscle groups two or three days per week. If you are unsure or need help in finding a program best for you, contact a certified personal trainer that can set up a simple program for you.

Keep a food and activity diary to help raise your awareness. You might want to include the following in this diary:

  • What you ate and how much (calories, points, or carbs, etc.)
  • Where you were and what you were thinking and feeling before you ate
  • How much time it took you to eat
  • What you were doing while you ate (watching TV, playing computer games)
  • How you were feeling and level of fullness after you ate
  • When you exercised and type of exercise
  • Time of day you exercised and length of time
  • How you felt before and afterward exercising
  • Sleep patterns after exercising in the day

Self-monitoring can help when maintaining your healthy behaviors becomes challenging.

Maintain a circle of friends and family that are supportive, enjoy healthy eating and exercise. Work with a certified health coach to overcome obstacles when they come up.

Plan for barriers that may obstruct your activity schedule or your new eating habits such as stress, vacation, financial issues, etc,). If you do have a “setback,”, use it as a learning experience rather than calling it a failure.

Always remember why you worked so hard to lose weight because it is easy to fall back into old habits. Go ahead and write down your reason and look at it every day as a constant reminder to stick with your new healthy behaviors!
For more information about weight loss and maintaining that weight loss, call Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530 or jhunt9155@gmail.com
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Low-back pain is the most common chronic or long- lasting pain issue in the U.S. with 60% to 80% of adults dealing with it at some time in their lives. Many conditions can lead to low-back pain, but poor core strength is often the fundamental factor. With the increased number of sedentary jobs and all the time we spend sitting, this can lead to muscle imbalances and weak core muscles which put the lower back at an increased risk of stress or injury.

  • Our deep core muscles are meant to endure prolonged contractions to support and stabilize the spine while standing or sitting in an erect position. Therefore, when we slouch in a chair all day, the core remains relatively inactive leading to decreased brain signals to the core, telling it to “turn on” and protect the spine when necessary.
  • The psoas major muscle is a strong hip flexor. Sitting can shorten this muscle, putting chronic stress on the low back.
  • The gluteal muscles, which are the hip extensors, become lengthened and weak. These muscles are then unable to do their job in regular activities of daily living, forcing other muscles, such as those in the low back, to compensate. Avoiding sitting is completely is unrealistic, but exercise can help minimize your chances of developing lower back pain.

Below are five suggested exercises.

  • Plank. Perform one to three planks holding for 20-60 seconds, or as long as you can maintain proper form.
  • Side Plank. The side plank may be more beneficial than a standard plank because it requires activation of the internal and external obliques. Again, maintain proper form.
  • Back extension. Back extensions help strengthen your posterior side. Use proper form; a avoid extending past 180 degrees (where the upper body is higher than the legs).
  • Glute raises or bridge. Weak gluteal muscles contribute to lower back pain. The gluteal muscles support activities like walking, running, squatting and deadlifting, but when they lack sufficient strength, the back takes over.
  • Bird Dog. To perform this movement properly, the trunk should remain stable, while only the arms and legs move.

For a full description of the above exercises, check them out online or talk to a Personal Trainer for professional guidance about lower back health.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Many people begin an exercise program to get in better physical shape. “I want to look better and feel better” are the words I hear all the time. But appearances are not everything; exercise benefits the mind and body in ways that no prescription will. These are benefits you cannot see in the mirror. Twenty minutes per day is all you need to reap the benefits of exercise. Of course, if you make it 30 or 45 minutes, the benefits are even greater.

Reduce stress. One in ten adults in this country suffers from stress and anxiety. Any form of movement from yoga to walking to weight lifting can reduce stress by releasing tension in your body. So choose an activity that best fits you and your lifestyle. Side effects of exercise are much better that potential side effects of prescription drugs for stress and anxiety.

Improve health. Regular exercise can help prevent and manage many health conditions including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, some cancers, and arthritis. Again, prescription drugs for every health condition has potential negative side effects as well as high costs.

Elevate mood. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins which can stimulate feelings of joy and pleasure. This is why people tend to feel happier and energized after a good workout. I had a student in class yesterday inform me she came to class grumpy, and is leaving with a smile!

Increase productivity. Studies have shown that working out before work can improve productivity and boost your energy for the rest of the day. I have many students and clients who tell me they have more energy and sleep better at night due to exercise.

Fall in love with fitness. When you find physical activities that you love, you will be more motivated to work out consistently, and the rewards will be even greater. Before you know it, you will be hooked on fitness and wonder what took you so long!
For more information about finding the activity that works best for you, contact me (Janet Hunt) at 256-614-3530 or jhunt9155@gmail.com. I can refer to many activity opportunities in the Athens area.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

What’s the difference between organic and natural? Isn’t “natural food” just as safe and healthy as organic food? Unfortunately, natural does not mean organic and comes with no guarantees. “Natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors. In the United States, however, neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled “natural.” As a result, food manufacturers often place a “natural” label on foods containing heavily processed ingredients. This is one of those marketing ploys I frequently refer to!

What about organic? Organic is the most heavily regulated food system. Only organic guarantees that no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides, or chemical NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) fertilizers are used in production, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals. Organic producers and processors also are subject to rigorous announced – and unannounced – certification inspections by third-party inspectors to ensure that they are producing and processing organic products in a manner you and your family can trust.

But are organic foods really better for you or worth the price? Your chances of getting pesticide residues are much less with organic food, but even so, the amount of man-made pesticide residues found in conventional foods is still well below the level that the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed unsafe. The real issue is whether these small doses, over time, might add up to an increased health risk down the line. Who knows? We are the guinea pigs. Another concern is the use of manure as a fertilizer. Some say this might increase the risk of contamination of E. coli.

As far as organic foods being more nutritious than natural or conventional foods – no one can say for sure. A few studies have reported higher levels of some minerals, vitamin C and antioxidants, but the differences are so small they have no impact in overall nutrition.

As usual, I suggest you do some research. If a food says that it is natural, read the label and see what it “really” means. If you are concerned about pesticides, definitely select organic products. If you are most concerned about nutrition – read labels.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Today fermented foods are the new rage for their purported health benefits and because the fermented foods wind up filled with “friendly” bacteria they are advertised in probiotic products.

The bacteria “predigest” carbohydrates, making them easier for our guts to handle and for nutrients to be absorbed. For example, people that are lactose-intolerant can often eat yogurt because the lactose sugar has been partly converted by the bacteria. Some vegetables can benefit from the fermentation such as cabbage to sauerkraut because it increases glucosinolate compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.. Glucosinolate derivatives are known to lower the risk of some cancers.

But, as with other food fads, not all you read is true. Not all traditionally fermented (pickles, sauerkraut, etc.) foods contain probiotic bacteria. And even those that do may contain high amounts of added sugars or sodium. Most fermented foods you purchase at the grocery store in jars and cans have been pasteurized and cooked at high heat which kills all bacteria including friendly bacteria. Therefore, to retain fermented foods’ bacterial benefits, you will have to make your own!

You can make your own yogurt. However, many commercially available fermented dairy products do contain probiotics. Check the label! Make sure the label says “live cultures.”. Yogurt can also be a good source of calcium and vitamin D. But again, check the label because some yogurts are not made with milk fortified with Vitamin D. Another caution with yogurt, is the added sugar and calories with flavored yogurts or sugar substitutes.

One of the downsides of fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. is the high sodium levels. Look for the low-sodium alternative products when possible or make your own to control the salt.

Remember, if you want to join the fermented food trend, make sure you are getting the friendly “live culture” bacteria and the low sugar and sodium products.

For additional information regarding the benefits of fermented foods, talk to a registered dietician or nutritionist.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Balance has many components. Muscular endurance, postural control, aerobic capacity, joint flexibility, muscular strength, inner ear health, response time, age, sex and eyesight all contribute towards the balance and maintenance of equilibrium at all times in any posture. With every year, as we age, we have an increased tendency to show a decline in physical function that ultimately leads to reduction in balance and a greater incidence in falls.

Fall prevention is crucial for continued independence as we age. “One out of every three adults age 65 or older falls each year” (CDC, 2010). Falls are the leading cause of death due to an injury; and falls are one of the most common causes of non fatal injuries and hospitalizations among individuals 65 and older. Fear of falling can result in a chronic cycle of inactivity, muscle atrophy and weakness, which results in an even great incidence of falling. See the cycle below:

Fear of falling ? reduced activity levels or inactivity ? reduced range of motion ? reduced muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness ? more errors in movements ? unstable posture ? decrease in balance ? higher fear of falling ? more inactivity ?……..

According to current statistics, falling is a serious problem; and balance training can play an important role in fall prevention. Exercises that overload the postural system are needed to correctly challenge and improve balance. Multi-directional and multi-planar movements typical of activities for daily living are also needed in a good program.

A personal trainer can develop a great workout that includes specific exercises for balance and activities for daily living. For those whose fear of falling is already preventing them from participating in an exercise program, the water can provide a lower risk setting. A personal trainer familiar with water programs can provide an excellent water workout to increase muscle endurance, postural control, aerobic capacity, joint flexibility, muscular strength and reaction time – all those contributors to balance maintenance.

The maintenance of balance is important in preserving an independent lifestyle. Some people think that increased risk of falling is part of getting older, but exercise will decrease almost all the risk factors attributed to fall risk.
“If you don’t use it, you lose it” is true for functional balance.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High blood pressure (HBP) means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. (Also known as hypertension.)

Blood pressure is written as two numbers (120/70 mm Hg). Top or systolic number is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom or diastolic number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. For adults with systolic pressure 120 to 139 or diastolic pressure 80 to 89, you have prehypertension. High blood pressure is a pressure of 140 systolic or higher and/or 90 diastolic or higher that stays high over time.

High blood pressure cannot be cured, but it can be managed. HBP usually has no signs or symptoms and that is why it is so dangerous.

1 in 3 adults have HBP; and many are not aware of it. Not treating HBP is dangerous because it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. You can live a healthier life if you treat and manage HBP.

Who is at risk?

  • People with family histories of HBP
  • African Americans
  • People over 35yrs old
  • Overweight people
  • People who eat too much salt
  • People who drink too much alcohol
  • People with diabetes, gout, or kidney disease
  • Pregnant women
  • Women who take birth control pills, who are overweight, had HBP during a pregnancy, have family history with HBP or have mild kidney disease.

What can HBP lead to?

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack, angina, heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

What can I do about it?

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Talk to a health coach about lifestyle changes.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Eat a variety of deeply-colored fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, low fat or fat-free dairy products; lean meats and skinless poultry; fish with healthy omega-3 fatty acids; and nuts, seeds and legumes. Talk to a dietician about a healthy eating plan.
  • Be more physically active. (Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity.) Make an appointment with a Certified Personal Trainer for a safe workout recommendation.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Take medicine as prescribed. Never stop treatment on your own. If you have problems or side effects with your medicine, talk to your physician.

By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.