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by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm 444 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Ginny Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Like it or not, this body is the only one you get!

How’s that going for you? Are you feeling good? Lots of energy most days, clear and focused, no aches and pains, pretty happy?

No? Feeling fatigued most of the time, experiencing brain fog more often than not, overweight with sore joints, generally unhappy with the way you feel and look?

Without oversimplifying or sounding too annoying, the message I want to share is this: you can change… you have a choice and I have a solution for you!

None of us have 100 percent control over our health of course, but we make hundreds of daily decisions that hugely impact how we feel.

OK (you might be saying)… I’d love to feel and look better, but I just don’t know where to start. I don’t like being overweight and I’m tired of feeling tired, but I love to eat and I hate to exercise. I’ll never be able to change.

YES YOU CAN!

I’ve seen (and helped) lots of people do it. I’ve watched people go from barely able to run to the end of the street to running laps around everyone else in the group. I’ve witnessed people go from 230 pounds to 190 pounds in a matter of months. And I’ve heard so many people tell me how great they feel — mentally and physically — since they started exercising and eating better.

You don’t have to go it alone. Get some help!

Think about the last time you started a new job. You didn’t just begin knowing exactly what to do, right? You probably had a mentor who showed you the ropes and checked in with you on a regular basis.

Your mentor helped you figure it all out and once you did, you went forward with confidence.

Think of your health transformation as a new job. Since you don’t know exactly how to proceed at the beginning, find someone who’s already an expert at the job of health transformations and let them help you learn the ropes.

There are lots of health coaches and mentors out there who specialize in helping people achieve wellness. They can help you eat for optimal energy — so you won’t be tired all the time — and weight loss. They’ll show you how to plan fitness into your daily schedule and can explain in simple terms what foods to eat and how to prepare them yourself.

Do yourself a favor and stop putting your health on the back burner. You can do it! You deserve to feel better. Your one and only body deserves to be healthy!

Do a web search for “Health Coaches, Arlington, VA” and a long list of names will pop up. Or contact me and I can refer you to some great health and wellness mentors I’ve worked with personally.

Resolve today to take care of your body — it has to last a lifetime!

Ginny Wright has been a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor for more than 10 years. She received her Health Coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York in 2007. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — February 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm 921 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Ginny Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

When was the last time you spent any time in the sun without slathering on sunscreen first? Most of us are well aware of the risks of unprotected sun exposure, but what we may not know is that avoiding direct sunlight could actually be doing us more harm than good!

I am not suggesting we recklessly ditch our sunscreen altogether. But it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at vitamin D and its potential health benefits, including disease prevention and, in some cases, treatment.

Vitamin DVitamin D has been in the news a lot lately, with new research findings nearly every month. We now know that vitamin D can benefit multiple sclerosis, heart disease, the immune system and bone health. But its greatest benefits may come in the form of treatment and prevention of certain cancers: prostate, breast, ovaries, cervix, pancreas, lungs, colon, bladder, esophagus and brain as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and melanoma.

Throughout evolution humans were naturally and continuously exposed to the sun. But today, many of us spend so much of our days indoors that we’ve become severely vitamin D deficient — and therefore at higher risk for everything from bone fractures to cancer. In fact, researchers from the Moore’s Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego concluded that increasing the intake of vitamin D3 throughout the world could easily prevent many diseases, including 16 types of cancer.

Show Some Skin

Some experts actually believe that melanoma is not caused from sun exposure. The Vitamin D Council says research to date shows that moderate but frequent sun exposure is healthy, while overexposure and intense exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at The Harvard School of Public Health, saysEvidence shows modest exposure to sun can have long-term benefits.”

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by ARLnow.com — February 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm 794 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Ginny Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

One of the best things we can do to improve our health is take the time to prepare our own meals. But how do we do that when we’re already stretched for time?

For many of us, whether we work full time or are full-time parents, the idea of home cooked meals is a fantasy — far from the reality of our everyday lives. Between long work hours, commuting, and driving to sports practice and events, there’s rarely extra time to buy fresh ingredients and prepare meals. As a result, many of us continue to rely on unhealthful alternatives: highly processed and refined foods.

But there are so many good reasons to cook! Renowned author Michael Pollan believes that, “The decline of everyday home cooking doesn’t only damage the health of our bodies and our land but also our families, our communities, and our sense of how our eating connects us to the world.”

Cooking our own meals helps put our health back on track and into our own hands.

OK this all sounds great but where to start?

If You Fail to PlanBegin with what health experts suggest: follow the 80/20 rule by eating a diet rich in healthful whole foods eighty percent of the time and splurge a little the remaining twenty percent. Think of dining out, take-out and prepared foods as a special treat to be cashed in on those days you absolutely don’t have a second to spare.

Benjamin Franklin said one of the secrets to success is taking the time to plan. Try this: Set aside about 30 minutes each week to plan what you’ll prepare for dinner for the next four or five days. Planning your meals can relieve stress and save you both time and money. Using a chart like this can help. Create a shopping list so you only buy what you need.

Keep This In Mind When Planning Your Meals:

  • Eat mostly vegetables and some high quality animal proteins, beans, fruits and nuts.
  • Keep it simple: no need to use fancy recipes all the time.
  • Find 10-12 recipes that you and your family love.
  • Create a theme for each day of the week: Monday-beans, Tuesday-fish, etc.
  • Make extra grains (brown rice, quinoa) at the beginning of the week to use later.
  • Double your recipe and freeze in glass containers for leftovers and lunches.

Where Do I Find Healthful Recipes?

Use the Internet! Type in “Healthy chicken recipes” for example and you’ll get tons of ideas. Don’t be fooled though. Just because a recipe claims to be healthful doesn’t mean it is. Avoid cream sauces, cheese (except small amounts), and casserole dishes that are mainly pasta and potatoes. Look for recipes that involve vegetables and lean proteins. Don’t be scared of healthy oils like olive and coconut oil and even small amounts of butter. Stay away from margarine and vegetable oils. AllrecipesFood Network and EatGood4Life are a few websites to get you started.

My favorite chicken recipes are: Whole roasted chicken with roasted vegetables and salad; chicken stir-fry with broccoli, red peppers and carrots; and grilled chicken over big green salad.

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by ARLnow.com — January 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm 1,413 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Ginny Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Gluten has been in the news, on the bestseller list and a hot topic of conversation for a few years now. These days most grocery stores are fully stocked with “gluten-free” foods. But how did this one ingredient become so prominent and why are so many folks talking about it?

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut and oats. It’s in white flour, whole wheat flour, Durum wheat, semolina and spelt. It’s hidden in pizza, pasta, flour tortillas, cereals, crackers, dressings, sauces and most processed foods. Clearly, gluten is a staple of the American diet.

What you may not know is that gluten can cause serious health complications for many of us. You may be at risk even if you don’t have full-blown celiac disease.

Dr Mark Hyman warns us that gluten and all foods containing it are making us sick and fat. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that not just those with celiac disease may have serious health issues — including heart disease and cancer — from ingesting gluten. An estimated 99 percent of people who have a problem with eating gluten don’t even know it. They attribute their ill health or symptoms to something other than gluten sensitivity, which is 100 percent curable. One person I know suffered from horrible pain and bloating for over 20 years before someone finally suggested she eliminate gluten. As soon as she did, her agonizing discomfort disappeared!

What Are The Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity?

Here’s a list of different symptoms that might be signs you have gluten intolerance:

In his best-selling book, Wheat Belly, cardiologist William Davis, MD, explains how his pre-diabetic and diabetic patients lost dozens of pounds when they removed all wheat products from their diets—which also reduced their risk of heart disease and diabetes. Most also  showed marked improvement from arthritis and asthma, increased mental clarity and better sleep.

Neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, is convinced that brain disorders and gluten sensitivity go hand in hand. In his book Brain Grain, Dr. Perlmutter states that processed carbs and whole grains are slowly killing us. Based on experience in his private practice, he believes that gluten sensitivity is often related to dementia and Alzheimer’s, ADHD, skin disorders, joint pain, neuropathy, headaches and even depression. Alzheimer’s is now being called “Type lll Diabetes” because studies have linked it to inflammation of the brain, which is often associated with high carbohydrate, low-fat diets and obesity.

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by ARLnow.com — January 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm 752 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Ginny Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

So it’s a new year and you’re ready to work toward the new and improved, healthier you! Have you tried to incorporate fitness into your life in the past and were only mildly successful — for just a short period of time? What happened? Why did you fall off the fitness wagon?

Exercise is the best medicine known to man. Unlike drugs, you won’t hear an advertisement for exercise on TV followed by someone racing through the list of all possible harmful side effects!

Exercise is the drug that lots of people don’t want to take though. Why? Most likely because it requires a lot more effort than simply swallowing a pill. Yet unlike pharmaceuticals, exercise is generally followed by feelings of pride and accomplishment. Exercise produces only great and positive side effects and helps prevent all kinds of disease!

Top 5 Tips for Making Exercise a Permanent Part of Your Life

  1. Like most things in life, it’s all about attitude. Decide that you’re worth it. Instead of “I wish” say “I will!” Remind yourself: If I don’t have my health nothing else really matters.
  2. Once you’ve made the decision to exercise, compose a powerful affirmation. Jack Canfield suggests we use certain guidelines to assure our success: I will exercise with joy, remembering the effects on my physical and mental health and preparing to live a longer life. Print your affirmation and display it where you’ll see it every day.
  3. Schedule your exercise just like you would a medical appointment. One exerciser told me she’s rarely missed a class in the past five years. The key, she explains, is putting it in her Google calendar as an equal commitment to anything else, like a dentist appointment or PTA meeting. “I actually schedule a whole year at a time and then move them around as necessary. And I almost always do Monday because you never know what else might come up in the week.”
  4. Be accountable! Recruit a buddy or join a group. If you’re someone who loves a physical challenge but has trouble being consistent, consider joining an outdoor (or indoor) fitness class and becoming part of a group. Recruit a co-worker and make a plan to walk together at least a few days a week. When you commit to something or someone else, your chance for success goes way up. Read how group exercise changed one person’s life.
  5. Keep track of your daily exercise by using a chart or calendar. It feels great to mark a big “X” on the days you lived up to your goal!

During the cardio portion of our BbG Fitness class last week, one exerciser told me (as she skipped by) that her insomnia problem has disappeared since she started working out with us a few months ago.

McLean ladies snow dips (photo via Ginny Wright)It’s comments like these that often make me wonder why everyone doesn’t exercise! We’ve heard the benefits over and over again; we know that exercise helps keep both young and aging bodies healthy. Even small amounts of exercise have huge benefits and add years to our lives.

Just as importantly, in my opinion, is the fact that exercise makes us feel good today. Feeling a little blue? Put your coat on and walk as fast as you can around the block. I promise you’ll feel better! Fresh air, sunshine and getting oxygen to our muscles have a miraculous way of curing what ails us. So what’s stopping you?!

Remind yourself: I am an exerciser. A sedentary lifestyle is no longer part of my life.

You can do this! Good luck and best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

Ginny Wright has been a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor for more than 10 years. She received her Health Coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York in 2007. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — December 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm 686 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

You eat healthfully and you’ve been exercising for a long time. You’ve tried lots of different diets and exercise programs so you consider yourself pretty knowledgeable about health and fitness. Does this sound like you?

But you don’t look or feel the way you want to or the way you think you should after so much time and effort.

What’s Keeping You From Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself?

First lets review what we all know to be true.

  • In order to be in great shape you have to exercise most days.
  • To build muscle — and strong bones — you must strength train at least three times a week to the point of muscle fatigue.
  • If your goal is to lose weight and get to your optimal weight your diet has to include at least 80 percent healthful whole foods.
  • If you want to get in shape and feel good, getting enough sleep — a minimum of seven hours — is essential.

Stop saying I wishWhat’s The Missing Link?

If you feel like you do all the things mentioned above but still are not where you want to be the reason is most likely inconsistency.

Simply put: if you can’t be consistent it’s very difficult to make progress! So how can you be more consistent with the things you already know will get you to the place you want to be?

Before and afterAnnie Changed Her Life!

For many of us who have tried for a long time but not realized success the answer is: Commitment and Accountability

First decide that this is what you want. You have to decide that you’re going to seriously commit to your health and wellbeing.

Commit To Something Bigger And External.

Set a tangible goal: I’ll lose 10 pounds by Feb. 15 or I’m going to lower my cholesterol with life style changes (yes, this is possible!)

Then plan how you’ll do it: I’ll cook or prepare most of my meals using healthful whole foods at home and dine out only twice a week. I’ll strength train three times every week and do some form of cardio that elevates my heart rate for thirty minutes two other days.

6 Weeks to Wellness posterThen Make Yourself Accountable: Make a bet with a friend or co-worker, or join The BbG Six Weeks To Wellness Program that provides a place for you to check in each week and track your progress using charts we provide.  If you prefer to work one on one why not hire a wellness coach*?

When You’re Accountable You’re Much More Likely To Finally Succeed!

There’s no time like the present. January is as good a time as any to start fresh. Stop talking about how you’re going to change and figure out a way to actually change! Make no mistake; it will be hard! It’s always easier to continue living the way we always have. Challenge yourself to change. You can control your health. You can control the way you look and feel.

We will show you how to make gradual, sustainable changes. Make 2014 the year you finally lose those extra pounds you’ve been hanging on to. No one likes to be unhealthy!

Imagine the new you. The new you will have more energy; have less joint pain; be happier; sleep better; be smarter; and be in better physical shape.

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by ARLnow.com — December 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm 463 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

What the heck does green have to do with the color black? Well to begin with, both black and green are very slimming. While wearing black can give the illusion of weight lost, eating lots of greens can actually promote weight loss. Eating greens with every meal can reduce your overall calorie consumption. Consider these numbers:

  • 4 cups of arugula = 20 calories
  • 4 cups chopped kale = 130 calories
  • 4 cups of spinach = 30 calories
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce = 30 calories
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli= 90
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts = 40 calories
  • 3 slices cheese pizza = 420 calories!
  • 1 black dress or shirt = the illusion of 10 fewer pounds on the wearer!

Green is Chic

Bowl of greensJust like wearing black, it’s very chic to eat greens. Eating processed, packaged food is way overrated. It’s a well known fact among the rich and famous that the best way to look and feel healthiest and full of energy is to eat mineral-and-antioxidant-rich super greens. And like wearing black, eating green looks good on just about everyone. We know the benefits of that black outfit, including a very high rate of return — just like greens: the more you eat the more benefits you’ll reap. Leafy greens provide huge amounts of Vitamins A, K and C. They give us calcium and iron and lots of other micronutrients, with very few calories.

Both Black And Green Go With Everything!

Woman in blackOne of the advantages of wearing basic black is that it can be accessorized with bold colors to make a stand-out statement; the same holds true for green! Start with your basic greens and add deep red onion slices (vitamins C, B6); bright green avocado (vitamins K, C, B5, folate); bold orange carrots (vitamins A, K, C, B6); multicolored bell peppers (vitamins C, A, K, B6); and cherry red tomatoes (vitamins C, A, K, potassium) for a gorgeous and nutritionally wonderful meal.

All of these beautiful colors pair fabulously with both green and black! Eating green has amazing health benefits that one cannot possibly get by donning just a chic black outfit alone.

Check out these stats:

  • 1 cup of chopped raw kale provides more than 350% of vitamin K, 133% of our daily vitamin A and 90% of vitamin C.
  • 2 cups of romaine lettuce give us more than 164% of vitamin A, 120% vitamin K, 40% vitamin C, 8% calcium and 12% iron — in only 32 calories!
  • 1 cup of broccoli supplies 115% of vitamin A and more than 135% of vitamin C.
  • 1 cup of cooked spinach? 110% of vitamin K, 377% of vitamin A and 30% vitamin C.

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by ARLnow.com — November 26, 2013 at 1:30 pm 482 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

With the holiday season upon us it’s a good idea to take stock. This is a fun time of year for most of us. We get to spend more time with our families and enjoy reconnecting with old friends.

Many of us have time honored holiday traditions: mom’s special stuffing recipe, Christmas cookies and latkes. We take the time to prepare all of our favorite dishes; we enjoy the rituals and it’s important to us that we pass these traditions on to our children.

Thanksgiving mealSomething else often happens at this time of year — we lose sight of our health and then we regret that decision (yes, it is a decision!) when January rolls around. With all the added holiday activities, we don’t take the time to exercise and eat mindfully; our health takes a back seat to the season.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not suggesting you become party poopers by avoiding festive food and drinks. I enjoy the traditions just as much as everyone else!

I’m simply suggesting we look at things a bit differently this holiday season. Instead of eating and drinking with reckless abandon — you know what I’m talking about — why not try setting small daily or weekly goals to help us feel better and maintain our good health over the next two months?

Here’s what can happen when we fumble through the season without a plan:

  1. Skip morning exercise because you’re tired from a late night holiday party
  2. Feel sluggish because you skipped exercise
  3. Not thinking about health because you skipped exercise so stop for a bagel and cream cheese (What the heck? You’ve already blown the day, right?)
  4. Feel tired because you’ve eaten less than a healthy breakfast so grab a candy bar for energy, and the sugar cycle continues
  5. Go holiday shopping so don’t have time for a proper lunch (what’s the difference at this point?)
  6. Go home after work and blow off exercise again because now you are feeling really low energy
  7. Make something quick for dinner instead of taking the time to eat whole foods you’ve prepared
  8. Vow to do better tomorrow!

Follow these guidelines to avoid the downward spiral:

  1. Make your exercise plan at the beginning of the week.
  2. Stick to the plan no matter what!
  3. Take time to plan your weekly meals at the beginning of each week; keep it simple by combining lean proteins and produce (see ideas below).
  4. Create a shopping list and purchase whole foods so you’ll have healthful ingredients on hand when you’re tired and out of time.
  5. Drink at least 50 ounces of water every day. This will keep you hydrated so you don’t confuse hunger with dehydration. This will also help you avoid the dreaded hangover. Yes, dehydration is usually what causes your hangover — that and too much alcohol!
  6. Plan what you’ll eat while dining out and at parties. Eat healthy snacks before heading out (see list below). Then stick to mostly proteins like shrimp and chicken along with veggies and fruit at parties and restaurants. Go ahead and sample the chips, dips and other party treats—once, then fill up on the stuff that will help you feel better the next day.
  7. Try your best to get seven hours sleep. Before downing your third—or fourth–beverage, stop and think about how you’re going to feel tomorrow!
  8. Wake up feeling good in the morning and proud of yourself that you stuck to your plan. Then go exercise!

Follow the 80/20 rule: Make a concerted effort to eat well eighty percent of the time. You’ll be happy you did!

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by ARLnow.com — November 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm 516 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

As the seasons change so do our eating habits. Our bodies know best, and naturally feel best when connected with our environment. According to health expert Andrea Beaman, when we eat locally grown, seasonal foods, our internal environment (the body and its organs) aligns with the external environment (the world around us), creating a system that is physically stronger and prepared for the elements.

You’ve probably noticed that on a steamy hot summer day you crave cooling foods like crisp green salads, juicy fruits and refreshing smoothies. But as the weather changes these types of foods don’t seem quite as appealing. Innately we desire heavier, warming foods like soups and stews.

Fall leaves via Virginia WrightFor body, mind and spirit, it’s wonderful to eat what grows in our immediate environment and climate — it can help us feel more balanced, healthy and connected. Not only that, eating locally grown, seasonal foods tastes better; foods picked at the peak of ripeness are the most flavorful. In addition, eating everything from everywhere harms our environment because it burns large amounts of fossil fuel to ship foods to and from faraway places.

To find out what’s in season, just visit one of Arlington’s seven local farmer’s markets or do a little research and make your own list.

One of the best things about fall is squash! You’ll see many varieties these days in all the markets. In addition to getting the tastiest, freshest food, you’ll be supporting local farmers and strengthening the economic base of our community!

Here are a few of my favorite fall and winter recipes. Click on the links below for additional recipes. Happy, healthy cooking!

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by ARLnow.com — October 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm 575 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Let’s face it — practicing healthful behavior can seem like a chore sometimes.

When we’re down or tired we just don’t feel like exercising and the last thing we want to do is prepare a healthful meal. Sometimes we start our workout, lose steam halfway through and just don’t feel like continuing.

inspirations2-runnersSo how do we find the motivation to stick with our plan or even more challenging, start a new exercise program? And how do we keep making healthy choices even though sometimes we’d rather stop for take-out or heat up a frozen dinner?

Here’s an example of one person who found that motivation.

A few months ago at one of our early morning classes I looked across the parking lot to see a very big guy, Evan, walking towards me. Evan explained that he was there to try the class because he was ready to make some changes. He said he was really disappointed in himself for having gained so much weight over the years and he was tired of being out of shape.

Since his first class seven weeks ago, Evan has made it to every single workout. When his schedule doesn’t permit him to attend an early class, he comes in the evening. At first he wanted to focus on exercising, but after about a month he decided to set a weight loss goal. too. His goal is to get down to 300 pounds. He’s lost five pounds so far and is right on target!

When Evan’s going to a big game or has a big party coming up and warns me he might not “do too well,” I tell him there’s always going to be a game and a celebration — that’s part of normal life. We can’t use those as excuses for caving and not doing what we know we should to take care of ourselves. Sure, an occasional splurge is okay, even healthy, but this is not what packs on extra pounds!

When I asked him recently what motivates him, Evan told me his parents were both sedentary, overweight and don’t eat healthfully. He said he didn’t want to end up in the same situation as he grows older. The good news is not only is Evan exercising regularly now, his parents have jumped on the bandwagon and have started walking every day!

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by ARLnow.com — October 16, 2013 at 11:35 am 1,185 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Most kids are naturally very physically active. Just watch small children for five minutes to see what I mean. But for many of us, aging brings with it a more sedentary lifestyle. While some adults naturally enjoy exercise more than others, we all have to start somewhere.

If you’re new to exercise, don’t be intimidated by the “uberfits” you see running around Arlington at lightening speed, sweating bullets. While these folks really do enjoy it, super high intensity workouts aren’t for everyone. Almost all of us could get there if we really wanted to, but for many the best exercise is one that challenges you, that you enjoy, and that encourages you to keep doing it for the rest of your life — or for as long as you’re physically able!

Bench dipsA good exercise routine combines strength training with cardiovascular training. A recent study from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital confirmed that exercise definitely adds years to our lives. It found: “Physical activity above the minimal recommended level was associated with additional gains in longevity. For example, walking briskly for at least 450 minutes a week (about one hour a day) was associated with a gain of 4.5 years.”

To get physically fit you need at least one goal, you need self discipline and you need determination. What you don’t need is excuses about why you can’t exercise. You don’t need any special equipment either, except for a comfortable, supportive pair of shoes and a watch, preferably with a timer – or you can use your phone.

One other thing you need is a good plan… which I am happy to supply here!

If you’ve been walking regularly your legs are probably already pretty strong. Now it’s time to rev it up a little. How about adding some upper body and core strength? Instead of walking at a steady pace, try interval training. You don’t necessarily need more time, you’ll just be pushing yourself a little harder. Keep your eye out for park benches or curbs you can use for tricep dips along the way.

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by ARLnow.com — October 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm 691 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Simon and Garfunkel had it right way back in 1967 when they wrote, “Slow down you move too fast.”

We live in a global world; we’re connected 24/7. We check email just before turning out the light each night and then as soon as we wake up in the morning. We’re surrounded with busy-ness and constant motion. We often run from one task to the next without taking a moment to stop and think about what we’re doing. We’re on call 24/7 ready to act — and react.

It’s all very mentally and physically exhausting. No wonder many of us are “stressed out!”

You may not even know you’re suffering from stress. According to the CDC here are some common symptoms: Tension and irritability; fear and anxiety about the future; difficulty making decisions; loss of appetite or overeating (or drinking); sadness; feeling powerless; sleep problems; headache; back pains; and stomach problems.

So what do we do to help stay mentally (and physically) well?

We all have the same 24 hours. Yes, we’re all insanely busy but we can make the decision to slow things down even just for a few moments each day. How we think can have just as much to do with our physical and mental wellbeing as what we put into our bodies.

Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is defined as an attentive awareness of the present moment. In our fast-paced, stressed-out world, living mindfully has become more important than ever. We can practice mindfulness when biking to work, walking the dog, going for a jog, driving the car or preparing a meal. All of these activities offer us the opportunity to pay attention to the present moment. Instead of multi-tasking to see how many things we can do at once, try paying attention to what we see, hear, smell, taste or touch at any given moment. The happiest people find pleasure in their simple everyday tasks.

Affirm the Positive: Begin your day in the right frame of mind by thinking positive thoughts. Even before you get out of bed take a moment to decide that you’re going to do your best to make it a great day. Arm yourself with a positive outlook so you’ll be better equipped to ward off negative people and events. Instead of negative self-talk, use positive daily affirmations (those you create or something you read) to help you stay focused. It is possible to conquer our fears and enjoy the present. Seize the day by making the conscious decision to do so.

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by ARLnow.com — September 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm 2,486 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Raise your hand if you’re happy with your current body weight. Stamp your feet if you spend way too much time and  energy thinking about food and how to lose weight!

You’ve probably tried all kinds of diets — maybe you lost weight initially but then gained it all back. It’s hard to know what to eat especially with so many authors and food manufactures telling us their way will make us thin. Their ways are obviously not working since according to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention almost 70% of us are overweight or obese.

Want to know the secret of successful weight loss? Would you like to learn how to remove unwanted pounds once and for all? I can be honest with you because I don’t stand to make millions of dollars selling the latest and greatest magic cure. The best reward for me would be you reaching your optimal body weight and your improved health!

Junk foodAre you ready for it? Here it is: The only diet that works is the one you can actually follow and stick with for the rest of your life. That means it can’t include exotic or hard to find ingredients. The successful diet can’t be so strict that you get frustrated and quit. The best diet will allow and encourage you to make gradual sustainable changes.

Okay, that sounds great but what should we eat to help us achieve our weight loss goals? The answer is simple and straight forward: EAT REAL, WHOLE FOODS. Sound too good to be true? Here’s another secret: Eating well should not be mysterious. But the very first thing you have to do is decide that you are going to change your ways. Decide that you are worth it.

Then make a plan. The plan should be specific: “I’m going to lose two pounds a week starting Monday. I will eliminate processed foods from my diet. Starting Monday my diet will consist of mostly lean animal and plant proteins, three to four cups of vegetables every day, 2-4 servings of fruit. I’ll limit my whole grains and nuts and I’ll drink at least 50 ounces of water every day.

Most of the thin, healthy looking people you see walking around eat real food. These folks take the time to shop for and prepare their own meals made with real food! They don’t dine out every night of the week and they don’t eat Lean Cuisine, cheeseburgers, fries, pizza, chips, muffins, bagels with cream cheese or donuts. The thin, healthy people don’t wait in line at McDonald’s for breakfast sandwiches or order lunch at Subway — no, Subway is not a healthy choice regardless of what Jared says!

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by ARLnow.com — September 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm 1,372 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Saving My LifeNo one likes to be preached to or told what to do — but I’m going to do it anyway: You’ve got to exercise. Your health depends on it!

A new government study estimates that nearly 80 percent of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each week (at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of both) — potentially setting themselves up for years of health problems.

Think about it like this: It’s hard to wake up and get out of bed early, especially when it’s dark! It’s hard to sweat, and sore muscles hurt. It’s hard to exercise when you’re tired at the end of the day. Once you start, there will be times when you want to give up and it’s often hard to stick with it!

CartoonBut aging is a lot harder when you haven’t been physically active; it becomes harder to stand up and sit down. With less core strength, you may experience backache and suffer more falls, not to mention being at greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other diseases. The longer you wait the harder it will be. Make the right choice. Do it now!

Stop making excuses and start making fitness part of your life. I know, you’re too busy, you hate to exercise, you can’t afford it, you get bored easily, everything hurts, you hate the gym, you never see results, you’ve tried and failed…

Turn those excuses into reasons: I’ll have more energy, I’ll sleep better at night, I’ll burn more calories at rest, I’ll be better equipped to handle stress, I’ll increase my lean body mass, I’ll be able to stay focused. I’ll be happier!

Ready to get started? Try these tips to increase your chance of success:

  • Make an appointment with yourself. You wouldn’t blow off a doctor’s appointment just because you didn’t feel like going. If you keep your exercise appointment, you won’t need as many doctors appointments!
  • Get a buddy. Working out with a friend is more fun, and being accountable to someone else helps you stay on track.
  • Set tangible goals. Don’t just say, “I’m going to start exercising.” Take time at the beginning of each week to plan which days you’ll exercise. Write down the time and the activity. Whatever you choose, be sure to elevate your heart rate for a minimum of 30 minutes. This means breathing heavily but able to carry on a conversation.
  • Find a form of fitness that works with your budget and schedule. We Arlingtonians have tons of resources available to us. See below, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — August 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm 2,072 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

What exactly does it mean to be healthy? For many of us, “good health” is just a vague notion — until something goes wrong and we’re forced to take a closer look.

In this series of biweekly columns we’ll discuss what factors — other than genetics — contribute to our mental and physical well being, including fitness, nutrition and even how we think about our lives. The goal is for all of us to start taking control of our own health!

When was the last time you felt great? Maybe it’s right now. But maybe you’ve been feeling sluggish and run down and you can’t quite figure out why.

What if I told you there was one thing you could eliminate or cut way back on that would help you lose weight and feel better, and even help stave off sickness and disease? Would you give it a try?

Can you guess what I’m referring to? Here are a few hints:

  • This ingredient is hidden in many foods.
  • It goes by at least 20 different names.
  • It affects our weight, moods, appetite, complexion and energy levels.
  • It’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and increased risk of cancer.

What ingredient do all these items share?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed sugar! That’s right, all of the above processed foods have added sugar to make them taste better to consumers and to reap big profits for the food manufacturers — who don’t give a darn about your health.

What’s so bad about sugar anyway, as long as we don’t eat too many calories? Well, there’s nothing wrong with having a sweet every now and then. The problem is that our bodies are just not meant to process the huge amount of sugar the average American now eats on a daily basis: 22.7 teaspoons a day! (The recommended daily amount is not more than 6 teaspoons for women, 9 for men.)

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