Skip navigation

Balanced Living for Athletes

2 Posts tagged with the exercise tag

by Tiffany Houser, Green Monkey Interactive


People in my life know how much I enjoy physical movement whether it is an exercise class, going on a bike ride or participating in a competitive sport. As I mentioned in my other blog post, Movement Trifecta for Children, I was fortunate to have my parents enroll me in dance, swimming and gymnastics during my pre-school years.



Now, as a 34 year old former athlete, building a Balanced Living company with the main draw in our locations being yoga, I feel that my movement is coming full circle.



Over the past two years I have become ADDICTED to Spinning. Oddly enough, had you told me 5 years ago I'd become an avid spinner to the point of becoming a certified instructor, I would have laughed.



When I was an Intern in the New York corporate offices of Crunch Fitness back in 1996, spin was just coming into action in Manhattan. Intrigued by the excitement and publicity Spin was receiving, I decided to jump into a class and take part in the experience...7 minutes later, I jumped off that bike and ran out gasping for air and fearful that my ears were actually bleeding from the loud music.



Fast forward, over 10 years later, I decided to give it another try because there was this class that had a live musician and would always fill up. So of course I took a bike right by the door assuming when it was time to make my early exit I wouldn't disrupt the class nor make the instructor feel as though the class wasn't up to par.



Seven minutes passed, and I was still on the bike, seventeen minutes passed and I was still on the bike. To my pleasant surprise, I made it to the end! I decided to take the same class the following week which was the start of something I now love so much and look forward to doing every week.



With the Editorial work I do with Green Monkey, I am constantly on top of our industry, learning what's hot and what's not, gathering reports and scientific studies and talking to consumers and experts in each of our fields. In my constant search to do things smarter, I learned that weight lifting is one of the keys to burning calories and fighting the physical aging process. This led me to take weight lifting classes because I believe group classes are the best way to leverage your time in a movement venue. Having someone guide you, while being motivated by peers and covering almost every body part is what a busy person and efficiency seeker needs.



I never really thought too much about injury prevention, because I do not compete in sports anymore, until I twisted my knee. Injuries are one of the worst things that can happen to someone with an active lifestyle. Joint injuries in particular are worrisome because if they are not properly taken care of and rehabilitated they can be problematic for the rest of your life.



Since I could not spin or lift weights for at least two months I needed to find an alternative activity to maintain my cardiovascular health and my happiness. Living in Miami does have a lot of perks, one of them being the ability to swim outdoors all year round, especially when your friend's building has a lap pool. I began swimming and doing some of the sequences from the aqua fitness classes I used to teach when I was a lifeguard. I also took more yoga and Pilates classes as well.



As soon as my knee healed, I started back slowly by taking conditioning and weight lifting classes. I was craving spin, but I knew that I was not ready. I still to this day remember that first spin class. It was the most exhilarating feeling ever! Even though my knee ached the next day, I knew that was a part of the rehab process.



Now, I am a power house at the gym, I take on average one weight lifting class per week and about 4-5 spin classes body is starting to speak...'You're killing me with the constant routine!'.



Over the past 2 months, my body has felt like the day after skiing or snowboarding. I have also found myself using the 5 and 2.5 pound weights during class which is not doing any good for my body. I'm not into trying to bulk up, but the weights need to be heavy to some degree in order to get results and grow the muscle.



That is where the mind/body modalities have shown me the light (no pun intended).



Yoga and Pilates are key for a healthy physical body. The stretching, twisting, pressure and core work these two practices push the body to do, is like physical therapy mixed with plastic surgery! What I mean is that the body needs balance. As you may have learned from Christi Idavoy's blog post, Every Movement Creates a Body Pattern, if you only do repetitive physical movement your body will develop in a limited way, whereas if you combine your repetitions with the twisting, posing, and anti-gravity movements in yoga, you are enrolling your muscles in school. They are learning to move in new ways or maybe not new ways but in new sequences.



My comparison to plastic surgery stems from the fact that yoga and, more so, Pilates sculpt the body. Our bodies can be pushed with weights and cardio workouts and we may shed pounds or beef up, but the defining results that can be accomplished with yoga and Pilates practically make your body look like you sucked out the excess mass that you can see externally and feel internally.



Overall, I encourage you to continue to move and challenge your body for more than the obvious reasons. Movement leads to a better lifestyle, a balanced lifestyle.



452 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: fitness, yoga, pilates, exercise, calories, spinning, weight-training

Joggin' the Noggin

Posted by TiffanyHouser Aug 26, 2009

by Tiffany Houser, Green Monkey Interactive


As we continue to explore longevity this month, the attention of the topic, in general, focuses heavily on our physical body addressing illness prevention and maintaining our outer appearance. One aspect of longevity, however, that seems to only receive focus in the senior stage of life is our brain health.

Tiffany Houser

There is something to be said about aging gracefully. As most people approach their golden years, even if they are in good shape, the health of their brain could still lead to a deteriorating lifestyle leaving them and their loved ones in a painful situation.



A recent study conducted at the 1.[] showed that age-related mental decline starts in your late twenties. At 22, the human mind is at apex of mental powers and starts declining as early as age 27. Mental functions like reasoning, mental speed, and puzzle-solving are the first to go, and memory loss starts to kick in around age 37.



The findings from this study suggest that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s, and that therapies designed to prevent or reverse age-related conditions may need to start earlier, long before people retire.



One of the most troubling American illnesses is 2.[], a brain disorder that destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work are not a normal part of aging and may be a sign that brain cells are failing.



The health of your brain plays a critical role in almost everything you do: thinking, feeling, remembering, working, and playing - even sleeping. In 1993, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, "There is a suspected link between Alzheimer's disease and the toxicity of aluminum." One of the WHO's Public Health Reports cited autopsies that found high concentrations of aluminum in the brains of those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.



Many doctors and holistic experts advise avoiding products known to contain additional aluminum - especially deodorants or antiperspirants in an aerosol spray, which can be absorbed through the nasal passages, into the bloodstream, and affect both the respiratory system and the brain. You should also reconsider your consumption of food and beverage products in aluminum containers.



To jump start your own brain health program, the 2.[] recommends:



  • Staying mentally active
         Mentally stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them, and may even create new nerve cells. Brain Fitness is becoming increasingly popular in addition to physical exercise; people dedicate time for brain conditioning activities such as puzzles, card games, board games and brain teasers. Some fitness venues have incorporated ‘ where members can leverage their time and get both a physical and mental work-out. More and more executives are incorporating brain fitness into their workouts.

  • Remaining socially active
         Social activity not only makes physical and mental activity more enjoyable, it can reduce stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells.

  • Staying physically active
         Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage new brain cells. It can also significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and thereby protect against those risk factors for Alzheimer's and other dementias. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found that may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. Depression and anxiety disorders both contribute to this burden and are associated with low GABA levels.

  • Adopting a brain-healthy diet
         Research suggests that high cholesterol may contribute to stroke and brain cell damage. A low fat, low cholesterol diet is advisable. And there is growing evidence that a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits, which contain antioxidants, may help protect brain cells. We provided a list of brain food below.


Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Making A Good Brain Great: The Amen Clinic Program For Achieving And Sustaining Optimal Mental Performance, offers six things you can do to relieve stressors on the brain which include:


  • Recognize that Stress Can Make You Sick

  • Get Enough Sleep
         Tai Chi, often described as "meditation in motion," is an ancient form of stretching and balance that can help you age well. Numerous studies suggest that Tai Chi may improve everyday physical functioning, lower blood pressure, ease chronic pain, relieve anxiety, and slow bone loss after menopause. It also shows promise for alleviating insomnia, a common problem in the elderly: A sleep study found that people age 59 to 86 who regularly practiced a form of Tai Chi got more Z's and better sleep quality than those who didn't.

  • Take Supplements
         There are lots of things you could take, but Amen wants to keep this simple. He says that there is research that shows that Omega 3 (fish oil) and a good multi-vitamin promote brain health.

  • Develop Internal ANT-Eater
         Dr. Amen calls ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) stressors for the brain. These are the daily, automatic negative thoughts that go through your head in the day. "Whenever you feel sad, mad or nervous, you need to write out what you are thinking. Look at them," he says. "Are they reasonable or are they torturing you unnecessarily? And then you talk back to them. You don't have to believe every thought you have. Thoughts can lie. Correcting them will go a long way to treating depression and anxiety."


Check out these brain health tips and mind game from Dr. Mehmet Oz,cardiologist and Oprah's medical expert.


Neglecting the health of your brain is like having a beautiful, top-notch car without a gas tank to hold the fuel. Be smart and remember that a balanced approach to longevity is from head to toe caring and acknowledging the body, mind and soul.



BRAIN FOOD!![mind game|]



  1. Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish, as well as fish oil, walnut oil and flaxseeds (linseeds) - are high in DHA, a fatty acid crucial to the health of our nervous system. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Fish also contain iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity.

  2. Evidence suggests that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

  3. Vitamin B12, found in seafood and poultry. A recent study found that people with low blood levels of this nutrient experienced a faster decline in cognitive function than those with higher levels. Most of us can get enough B12 from our diet, but certain people need supplements, such as vegans (who don't eat animal products), notes Dr. Andrew Weil. The same goes for some people over 65, because decreased levels of stomach acid can make it difficult to absorb B12 from food. Weil recommends these groups take B12 as part of a B-complex supplement.Folic acid and vitamin B12 help prevent homocysteine from building up in the body - levels of which have been found to be higher in people who have Alzheimer's. Fortified cereals are a great source of B12 and also contain complex carbohydrates which release energy over a long period and will keep you more mentally alert throughout the day.

  4. A daily dose of zinc, found in a handful of pumpkin seeds, can be vital to enhancing memory and thinking skills.

  5. Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve [Dr. Andrew Weil|]brainpower.

  6. Sage has a long reputation for improving memory

  7. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of Vitamin E might help to prevent poor memory. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains.

  8. Eye Q, a blend of high grade marine fish oil and evening primrose oil, is thought to boost brainpower in children. A study by Durham County Council and Mansfield College, Oxford, concluded that 40 percent of the children sampled improved both their reading skills and attention spans when taking the supplements.

  9. Ethos Endymion, which contains L-Carnosine, a strong antioxidant which appears to have dramatic results for a number of conditions: cataracts, improving skin tone, speeding up wound healing, and protecting the brain from plaque formation that may lead to senility and Alzheimer's. L-Carnosine is found in chicken and lean red meat so this powder supplement could be especially useful for vegans or those with high cholesterol.




More on Brain Health




631 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: diet, active, exercise, sleep, brain-health, memory, alzheimers, stree



Member since: Aug 26, 2009

Tips and articles on the athletic body and the athletic mind from Tiffany Houser of Green Monkey.

View TiffanyHouser's profile

Recent Comments

No recent comments.