Brain & Body Stimulating "At Work-Outs"

I know, I know, you're too busy to exercise.  You've got obligations, family to attend to, and not to mention that full time job.  You're stuck behind a desk most of the day, so suiting up to go to the gym just ain't happening. Ok then, why not get a little exercise right there at work?  I'm not talking about sweating your butt off trying to burn mega calories. This is about being stronger, healthy, less stressed out and feeling good in your skin.  Even just 10 minutes can give you a mood boost. And we all just want to be happy, right?  Also getting in some physical activity will make you a more productive employee.  You'll return to your work recharged, with a clear mind, and with a burst of new energy!

Here are 7 Exercises and 3 Stretches that you can do right at your desk
  1. MARCHING IN PLACE- Just simply bring your knees up and down for 1 minute.  To get your heart rate up a little more, pump your arms up and down over your head ("raising the roof" if you were dancing)  Anytime your arms are over your head, your heart rate goes up.
  2. PUSH-UPS AGAINST YOUR DESK- You don't have to drop and give me 20.  But you can get a little chest workout if you do push-ups against your desk or a wall.  Place your hands shoulder width apart and place your feet about 3 feet away from the desk or wall. Go as far down as you can.  Aim for 10-20 
  3. LEG LIFTS- Here's a great way to get a little tush toning.  Hold the back of your chair and raise your right leg up as far as you can (straight behind you) while pointing your toe. Each time you do, your glutes will contract. Repeat 30 times. Then hold your leg up as high as you can and do 30 little micro lifts or "pulses" for an extra butt burn.  Repeat both exercises on the left leg.
  4. TRICEP DIPS- To get rid of those turkey arms you need to work your triceps.  A very effective way to target them is to do dips. Here's how to do them: Sit with the heels of your hands on the edge of a sturdy chair seat. Slide your butt off the seat, and support your weight with your hands. Bend your elbows back, and slowly lower your butt toward the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in.  (You might only be able to go down a small amount in the beginning until you get stronger.  But the goal is to lower your body so that the elbows are bent at 90 degree angle)  Then push back up until your elbows are straight. You can also modify this exercise even more if it's too challenging. Simply do the same thing but on the floor instead of off a chair. Aim for 1-20 dips 
  5. CHAIR SQUATS- These work your quadriceps and butt big time.  Step about a foot away from your chair with your legs shoulder width apart.  Bend your knees as if you were about to sit down in the chair.  But just before your butt hits the seat, stand back up.  Aim for 10-15
  6. OVER HEAD SIDE REACHES- This exercise with help strengthen your obliques, aka your "love handles." Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and arms at your sides. Now reach your right arm over your head and to the side as far as it will go (you'll know your reaching far enough when it feels like there's a vice grip on your the love handle area) Then return back to the resting position.  Repeat 15-20 times on the right side and then do the left side.
  7. MODIFIED JUMPING JACKS- Feel free to do regular old jumping jacks, but if you want a less intense version to do at work, try the modified kind.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms up and out at your sides.  Step your left foot in so that it meets the right while bringing both arms down.  Then step that left foot back out and bring your arms back up to your side.  Next bring your right foot in so that it meets the left foot while bringing your arms down again.  Repeat back and forth as quickly as you can for 1 minute
  8. HAMSTRING STRETCH- Tight hamstrings not only effect your range of motion but also can cause lower back pain.  A great hamstring stretch is to place your heel on something elevated (your desk or chair will do) and then straighten that leg.  Lean in as much as possible so you feel the stretch in the back of your leg.  Hold for at least 30 seconds per side
  9. REACH FOR YOUR TOES- Slightly bend your knees and let your body just hang over with your arms hanging loose.  You'll feel a nice stretch in your upper back and behind your legs as well. Hold for 30 seconds. To stretch your shoulders, gently pull your wrist with the other hand for 15 seconds and then repeat on the other side.  Make sure you come back up slowly to avoid getting dizzy
  10. CHEST STRETCH- Clasp your hands behind your back and stick your chest out.  If you lean back slightly, you'll also get a nice little lower back stretch in too. Hold for 30 seconds
The whole series should take about 10 minutes to complete.  Try building up to two times per day. You'll feel better and and get a little definition to boot!   

Strategies to Combat Disordered Eating

Eating disorders are a very serious problem and take a lot of work to overcome.  I should know, because I struggled with one for years.  I'm happy to report that I no longer have conflict with eating.  I have made peace with food and my body.  Now, not everybody has an eating disorder, but many of us still have disordered eating.  As we strive for that perfect body, we often do a lot of harm to ourselves both mentally and physically by trying crash diets & alternating between starving and bingeing which causes a vicious and unhealthy cycle.  We are left hating ourselves and usually no thinner.  Here are a few strategies to maintain a healthy relationship with food and our bodies.
  • EAT BREAKFAST- As the word breakfast implies, when you eat breakfast you are "breaking the fast." Breakfast not only increases your metabolism for the day but skipping breakfast will set you up for binging later. Most people make the mistake (as I did) of "saving up" calories for later.  Not only does this slow your metabolism, but it physically and psychologically sets you up for overeating later
  • EAT FREQUENTLY- Don't let yourself get too hungry.  Eat (even if it's just a small snack) once you start getting hungry.  Once you're at a point of being ravenous, your brain won't register quickly enough when food is consumed. You end up eating too much and that starts the vicious cycle of disordered eating
  • PAY ATTENTION TO TRIGGER FOODS- Maybe you really can't eat just one potato chip or a little ice cream.  If certain foods set you off in a downward spiral, stay away from them.  Or try eating these foods occasionally out of the house.  For instance, you might be able to handle having a scoop of ice cream at the shop down the street, but keeping a quart in your freezer might be too much for you to handle
  • JOURNAL- Journaling is a good way to notice patterns- like trigger foods, how certain people & events effect you, when you're eating due to emotions and not hunger.  Write down what you eat, the time, and how you feel.  Keeping a log can help you discover any disordered eating patterns you may have
  • FIND DISTRACTIONS- Once you realize you're being set off or tempted, sometimes just distracting yourself for 15 minutes can cause the cravings to lessen.  Go for a walk, call a friend, meditate, read a book, or just get out of the house
  • CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOODS- Certain foods will help your brain function better and reduce cravings.  A high protein and low refined carbohydrate diet will help you immensely.  This means staying away from sugar and increasing vegetables, meats and some fruit
  • PLAN YOUR MEALS AND SNACKS- Most people fail because they don't have healthy food choices available when they get hungry.  Stash snacks in your car like nuts and protein bars.  Have veggies already cut up in your refrigerator.  Stock the fridge with Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Cook up a big batch of chicken breasts that can be easily made  into chicken salad or tossed into a salad.