NUTRIENTS & YOUR BRAIN


FOOD, MOOD, AND BEHAVIOR

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is

Infinite”


The adage goes “ You Are What You Eat”, but have you ever really thought about that. Many times this is quoted without a full understanding of how true it is. This saying is truly the foundation of who you are. By now, you have a general understanding of the impact nutrition has on your body physically, so now I will open your understanding of how nutrition can impact your mind.

The human brain is a fascinating organ that is studied in depth by scientist and people in the medical field, but it still remains a mystery. It is the organ in the body that has the most demand for energy and nutrients. It consumes twenty – thirty percent of the Calories of your basal metabolic rate but cannot store energy so it must be supplied by glucose. It is also the “main frame” that controls your desire to eat, and also to stop eating, by regulating certain physiological metabolic factors and substances.

Besides the physical attributes, there are also debates regarding the notion if the brain and intelligence are the same. One side believes they are, while the other believes the brain is merely a physical organ and intelligence is something science may never understand. Sure intelligence can be measured, but by tests that have been developed by us. Therefore, philosophically speaking, what are we measuring?

Why can some people analyze in depth concepts to their finite details, while others cannot? How can some people visualize something in their mind and replicate it in writing, a painting, or a song, while others cannot?  Can some people truly hear an inner voice and be more attuned to a different plain of existence? Why can some people see a vision or set a goal and never lose sight of it, while others give up quickly? Why are you sometimes in a good mood, and sometimes you are not? Are you happy, sad or angry? Can you remember things easily, or do you forget often? This area of wonder is fascinating to me, but is it to you?

The brain can be looked at as three separate areas of function: reflexive, skilled, and emotional/instinct. Different sections of the brain deal more specifically with each of these functions.

Fundamental units of the brain are the billions of neurons (nerve cells), which conduct actions for your thoughts, movements, feelings, and all the physical process that takes place in your body. These actions are a combination of electrical impulses or chemical transmission by substances called neurotransmitters. It is these neurotransmitters that interest me from a nutritional point of view.

Neurotransmitters are found in the synaptic vesicles (sacs) on the axon terminal section of the neuron. There have been hundreds of neurotransmitters identified each having different functions and tailored to fit at a receptor site of specific cells that are to receive their information or designated excitatory or inhibitory actions.

Answers to the questions posed above can be directly linked into specific neurotransmitter and hormonal substances, or the imbalances of them. Imbalances can occur from several different factors such as genetics, disease or illnesses, stress, drugs, alcoholism, or smoking.  But most often overlooked is nutritionally.  Poor nutrition can have a direct impact on many of the neurotransmitters because they are formed from their respective precursors, which are often amino acids. If you are not eating correctly, you can cause a mild or severe imbalance.

Have you ever gone more than a few hours without eating, and notice some irritability, mood change or difficulty in concentrating? This is a temporary mild imbalance. If poor nutrition habits are prolonged, it can lead to other deeper, more severe imbalances. This is why the brain has several mechanisms to get you to eat. Although I am discussing it from a nutritional perspective, please keep in mind that there are several major disorders which etiology is unknown.  Don’t falsely think they’re all nutrition related or corrected through improving dietary intake.

I will be discussing these key neurotransmitters in future blogs

Check out my shiny new heart rate monitor!

My heart rate monitor!

My wonderful husband got me a heart rate monitor for the holidays!  It’s easy to use, comfortable to wear, and I’m so happy to have it.  It really helps me make the most of my workout time by helping me stay on track and in the heart rate zone that I want to be in.

A watch with a second hand and some quick mental math will serve the same function, but this neat little device is really nice to have.  All I need to do is press the button on the watch face, and I get a reading in a few seconds. It helps me to know when and if I’m over or under working, so I can compensate one way or the other.  For now, I’m focusing on the fat burning zone, because I’m working on weight loss, and this neat device helps me target my workouts.  It also counts my steps while I’m walking, and I really enjoy the satisfaction of seeing measurable progress while I’m exercising.

Do you use any gadgets to aid your workout?  Would you recommend them?

Overdoing it.

I’ve written about the momentum of my workout routine before, and getting back on the proverbial horse after being sidetracked by life events.  Today, I’ve realized something equally important: not overdoing it.

Since early January, I’ve been riding high on my New Year’s resolution of self-care, and doing what my body tells me do.  I’ve been eating right, sleeping well, and working out every day, so I’ve had a TON of energy…. until, of course, I hit a wall.

My muscles were really sore after a few days of challenging myself with some new and more intense workouts.  I tried some new classes, and increased all the weights I’ve been using for strength training.  One day I woke up, and everything hurt.  Every muscle I had pushed and stretched and strengthened over the last few days was screaming “Give us a break!”  But still, I was encouraging myself to push forward, because I still doubted whether or not I’d “done enough” to warrant a day off.  I was worried about breaking my routine, maybe afraid that I’d fall back into old bad habits of giving up and not going back.

Thankfully, I had my redefined resolution to fall back on.  I reminded myself that recovery is just as important as exercise, and that listening to my body is the most important thing.  So I took a day off, and the world didn’t fall apart. Even better; my muscles relaxed, and I feel refreshed and ready to tackle my workout with renewed energy!

Attention Triathletes and Junior Triathletes!


Attention Triathletes! We have some exciting things in store for you beginning this February that will be a great addition to your triathlon training!

Why train alone all winter? Join our Adult Tri Club made up of like-minded athletes in triathlon-specific training groups. Our twice-a-week program includes a specialized yoga class and swim instruction on Thursday mornings beginning at 6am and alternating weeks of Spin and Parisi sessions Wednesdays at 7:30am.

We also offer a Junior Tri Club for 13-17 year olds! Spin/Parisi classes Mondays at 4:30pm and Swim instruction Fridays at 3:30pm.

Tri Club participants will receive free entry into our indoor triathlon on April 11th.

Both sessions begin the week of February 4th, contact Jen at jritz@clubfit.com for more information. Click Here for more information!

Fitness Success Story: Nathalie Johnson

Meet Club Fit member Nathalie Johnson — another Club Fit Fitness Success Story!

Nathalie lost 30 lbs through aquatics, Weight Watchers and being trained to work independently by Master Trainer Ann Krobath at Club Fit. The personal training not only helped her lose weight and tone, but become strong and avoid future joint injuries. Ann and Nathalie are so happy for her success!

Want to know more about how we can help you achieve your goals through Personal training at Club Fit? Contact Fitness Director  Susie Reiner at 914-250-2795 sreiner@clubfit.com.

Click here for a look at some of our Personal Training options. We’ll see you at the club!

Superhero Checkpoint: Nine Months Post-Surgery

A cancer diagnosis can be traumatizing; it certainly was for me.  A diagnosis that shocking and unexpected can feel like a punch to the face.  Even though I’ve finished my treatment and been declared cancer-free, I’m commonly anxious about follow-ups.  I’m comfortable going to the doctor, being poked, jabbed, and prodded for all kinds of tests, but I have a lot of trouble on Appointment Day, when I go to meet with my oncologist to discuss my test results.  Even if I have no reason to suspect that cancer has come back, the fear of it striking out of the blue is strong and familiar.

On the morning of my most recent follow-up appointment, I was a veritable disaster.  I found myself pacing back and forth, cleaning and organizing the same things over and over again, tapping my feet and rapping my fingers.  My husband looked concerned, and our cat looked wary of me.  I knew I needed to do something with this nervous energy, so I raced to the gym to squeeze in a quick workout before my appointment.

Thanks to my fellow spinner, who nicely captured me in action with her camera phone!

I arrived at JV just in time for spinning.  Anthony’s class was intense, and combined with my anxiety, my heart rate skyrocketed, and I got tired quickly.  I hate to admit it, but for the first time since my very first spin class at Club Fit, I contemplated leaving class early.  Luckily, I gained perspective, and told myself that if I didn’t quit on day one, I most certainly could not quit now.  I dug deeper for more energy, and before I knew it, I was pumping away on my bike, persevering through stress and distraction, with my ponytail bouncing triumphantly behind me.

In that moment, I realized that one of the greatest gifts that exercise has given me is strength. Not just physical strength, but inner strength. Not just the ability, but the opportunity to pick myself up and carry on, stronger than before.  I don’t know what my future holds, in life, health, or otherwise, but one thing I now know for sure is that I can take on any challenge that comes my way and face it bravely, with my ponytail bouncing triumphantly behind me.

Finally, I’m happy to report that my test results were clear, and nine months after treatment, I am still cancer-free!

Working the Circuit

Thanks to Ty at JV for helping me work through The Circuit, and catching this glamour shot of me on the seated row.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced The Circuit, I highly recommend it!  It’s a succession of 9 carefully coordinated exercises that are geared toward all of your major muscle groups, and it’s really easy to use.  I really like being able to shoot in and out of The Circuit when I’m short on time, and I don’t have 30 minutes to devote to TRX or an hour to devote to my beloved Body Pump.  It lets me get in some strength training quickly and efficiently, and being able to add weight as you get stronger is so rewarding.

My favorite part of The Circuit is that you get a fitness professional with you every time.  Ty helped me out this morning at JV, and I’m so glad he was with me. He adjusted all the seats and handles and levers so much faster than I could, and also kept an eye on my form, quick to guide me in the right direction to get the most out of my exercise.  He also asked me a really great question while we were chatting about this blog. He asked, “How do you think this blog helps people?”

I told Ty about the day before I started on my fitness journey, having been so ill for so long and bedridden a few times, thinking “After all this, how could I possibly become a fit person again?”  I thought that maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for me, or that I would never get to a point where I could consider myself “fit”, or “in good shape”, or that the journey would be so long and hard that it might not be worth trying for.  Fortunately, those fears were shattered for me in my first week at Club Fit, but for some individuals, those fears still exist.  I hope that by documenting my experiences and my measurable progress (however small it may be), and sharing it all with the Club Fit community through the blog, that I might inspire someone who shares my former fears to take one step forward and give it a try.  So if this blog has inspired you in any way, let me know in the comments below, and let’s show the world together that progress in fitness is not only attainable – but fun!

The Circuit is clearly marked. Super helpful!

When you get a chance to try out The Circuit, stop by one of the fitness desks and ask for help getting started. You won’t regret it.

Resolutions for Superheroes

Like many people, I have long been in the practice of making New Year’s resolutions.  I have also been in the practice of absentmindedly abandoning said resolutions in March, and ending the year feeling like a failure, only to start all over again on January 1. It wasn’t until this year that I realized I’d made a yearly habit of setting myself up for failure in a cycle of unattainable goals and self-disappointment.

I’m not abandoning resolution-making altogether, because life is full of distractions and it’s important to have an annual reminder to check-in with our list of priorities.  I’m just looking at my resolution differently this year.  I’m meditating on the reasons I choose to make resolutions, and turning up the volume on those feelings; focusing on the positive thoughts instead of the negative.  Somewhere deep inside, my body has a perky little voice that says happy things like “I want more veggies!  Take me for a walk! Hey, let’s have a nap!”  But that voice is barely audible next to another that screams mean things like “Don’t eat that cookie! You should have gotten up earlier for that spin class! You’re not trying hard enough! You’ll never get there!”  These two voices are two different paths to the same goal, and I firmly believe that choosing the path of positivity yields much better results.

So this year, my resolution is to drown out that mean voice by turning the volume WAY up on my Inner Superhero.  When I wake up each morning, I will listen to what my Inner Superhero is telling me to do, whether it’s taking the time to cook a healthy meal from scratch, doubling up on my workout time, or taking a day to rest and recover.  Ultimately, all my previous resolutions have been in the interest of self-care, and that hasn’t changed – I’ve just been looking at everything upside down.

Understanding Nutrition – The Flu

Well it’s the time of year when we need to proactively address the flu. To begin, the flu (influenza virus) is a contagious respiratory illness. Symptomatically, the risk of dehydration exists and your immune system becomes compromised which for some people can become very dangerous. Bottom line….you feel like crap

Here are some tips from a nutrition standpoint:

Should you eat or not eat…that is the question?

This question is usually the first to come up. Be sure not to starve yourself! At the least eat a light diet such as soups or broths along with liquids to keep you hydrated and provide your body the energy it needs to fight the infection.

  • Some foods such as dairy products could make you feel worse if your stomach is upset. Dairy products also tend to thicken the mucus in your airways, making it harder for you to breathe. It’s a good idea to stay away from milk products until you’re feeling better. Instead, you should consume clear fluids that will settle your stomach such as ginger ale, clear broth and liquid gelatin that has not congealed. If you cannot tolerate any liquids, suck on chips of ice or fruit pops. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea.
  • When you start feeling better, begin with what is called the BRAT diet of bananas, rice, applesauce and dry toast. These foods are easy to digest and will help you get used to tolerating solid foods once again.
  • Warm decaffeinated drinks, such as herbal tea with honey, will help to open your nasal passages and soothe a sore throat. And chicken soup is a soother for those symptoms such as those of an upper-respiratory tract infection.
  • Once you’re feeling better, you should be able to go back to the way you were eating. Remember to eat a balanced, nourishing diet rich in vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants. Eat a variety of colored fruits and vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates to get your immune system back to health. Be sure to get some exercise every day and eight to nine hours of sleep each night. A strong immune system will help you fight off future infections

 

To Exercise or Not to Exercise

According to the National Institutes of Health, exercise has not been shown in research to prevent colds or the flu. However, exercise, along with a proper diet, can improve the immune system by helping the disease-fighting white blood cells in the body move from the organs into the bloodstream. This helps decrease your chances of getting a cold or the flu.

If you happen to get any sort of seasonal illness, whether it’s a cold or flu, you should not exercise if you have chest congestion, hacking cough, upset stomach, body aches, fatigue, or widespread muscle aches. However, if you have only mild symptoms, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, or sneezing, exercise could help by opening nasal passages. During this time, however, you should reduce the intensity and length of your exercise.

IMPORTANT: Remember to wipe down any machines or areas that you use…before and after your exercise

Running, running, running away…

On the Woodway EcoMill at Briarcliff. Walking, not running. :)

It’s no secret that I love spinning.  I talk about it all the time.  My deep dark secret, and the reason I gravitate so much toward a spin bike, is that I….hate…running.

It’s a scary thing to say out loud when you’re writing about exercise and fitness, but I really do hate running!  It feels like I great party I wasn’t invited to.  I’m so jealous of everyone who has ever described a runner’s high, or a gorgeous sunset at the end of an early-morning jog, but I just get no joy from the actual practice.  My teeth bump, my knees complain, my cheeks bounce, I tire easily, and I just keep feeling like I’m getting nowhere.  Even with music, it’s a fight to keep up that pace, because I just don’t love it.

I realized that I have been laboring under the delusion that when my fitness journey gets to a certain point, I will be gifted with love from the Running Gods.  That Nike herself might appear, graciously acknowledge my hard work, and show me the light!  All this time, I thought I was “working up to running.”  Then, I stumbled across a post on SHAPE magazines website that had 20 different profiles of super-fit women who don’t run. Reading through their testimonials, I saw women who were miles ahead of me on the road to fitness, but who shared my exact same complaints about running.  (You can check out the piece here.)  Guess what most of them named as their number one alternative for cardiovascular excercise?  Spinning!

I guess I’m not doing so badly after all.  I know I’ve said before that everyone’s journey is different, but sometimes we need to be reminded to take our own advice.

What’s your favorite cardio workout?  (It’s okay to say running!)  Let me know in the comments below!

Understanding Nutrition

Mrs. Jones is a 35-year-old woman, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with a body fat percentage of 26%.

Her goal is to lose some weight and get into better shape.

 

  • How many total Kcal per day should she consume?

 

  • How many Grams of Carbohydrates?

 

  • How Many Grams of Protein?

 

  • How Many Grams of Fat?

After setting a Nutrition plan, she incorporates an exercise program for additional Kcal expenditure,

During her session , she walks on a treadmill at 3.8 mph with a 4.5 % grade for 45 minutes. What is her extra energy expenditure?

What MET level was she working at?

The first person to Answer this correctly…email me @ mcuatt@clubfit.com and win a $20 gift card to use within the club.

2013: New Year, New You?

It’s that time of the year again! One year ends and the next begins. It always feels like a big deal but is it? Is it really that big a deal? Should we be relying on the new year to help us make the changes we want to see for ourselves? Why shouldn’t we just treat it like another day? Perhaps some find the start of a new year to be motivating . . . maybe it pressures us to make resolutions. The start of the new year insinuates that we all get a “clean slate”. Is it so? It can be . . .

You see, when it comes to making a change, you do not need the calendar to roll over. Let’s take fitness for example. At this time of year, many people resolve to get in shape, get to the gym, start personal training, start eating a well balanced diet etc., but how long will it last? Generally, New Years Resolutions expire prematurely. Why? Did the year lose its luster that quickly? Did we make resolutions just for the heck of it? You cannot do something just because it is a new year. You need to take action because you want to make a change. The most important thing about making a resolution is to stick with it. You have to remember that you want it and maybe even remember WHY you want it.

We’re not complaining, but we would rather everyone feel empowered to make resolutions to themselves at any time. Not just for New Year! For anything to be successful whether it’s losing weight or learning a language it takes hard work. It also means you have to set goals! As Bill Copeland reminds us, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” In other words, “no matter how much you work, it won’t mean anything if you weren’t heading toward something.”

Regardless of whether you are making resolutions now or later, we hope that you remember to strive for