Monday, March 16, 2015


Melissa's Tip of the Week is designed to help you and your family to live happier, healthier lives through good nutrition and exercise!
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Are you crazy for working out While Sick?

How to determine when enough is enough.

I'm all for the "no excuses" philosophy of working out, but let's be honest; There are times when you really just shouldn't work out.  After a surgery, even some minor ones, you may need to take a few days (or weeks) off.  The flu can take you out of the running, and even some colds can be bad enough to take the wind out of your sails.  So how do you know when to take the day off?  For example, exercising with a cold may be OK, but if you've got a fever, hitting the gym is a definite no-no.  Fever is the limiting factor, says Lewis G. Maharam, MD, a New York City-based sports medicine expert. "The danger is exercising and raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, because that can make you even sicker," he tells WebMD. If you have a fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, sit this one out.

Above the neck test:
I use this really simple rule:  if it's above the neck, you're probably good to go.  Below?  Think twice.  So a head cold, sore throat, teary eye--these are sometimes helped by exercising, because the movement can help move the mucus and relieve some congestion.  But bronchitis or anything to do with the lungs will rule out exercise until your lungs heal.  Stomach flu, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea?  Take the day off.  A slight headache, give the workout a try.  Of course, for migraine sufferers, you know what you need to do...seeing an aura--get meds and rest!

10 minute Rule:
Another easy rule to follow:  if you are sick, and you go for it and start working out, the first 10 minutes will be very telling.  If you aren't feeling better in 10 minutes, or your symptoms intensify, stop.  You do have to listen to your body.  You really need to know your limits.  If you are feeling kind of bad, you may want to consider a walk instead of a run. Take the intensity down or do a regenerative activity like yoga or Pilates because if you don't feel great, it may not be the best day to do your sprints.
Don't Get Sick:
The best way to avoid the problem is not to get sick in the first place.  Exercise in general can help boost your body's natural defenses against illness and infection. "Thirty minutes of regular exercise three to four times a week has been shown to raise immunity by raising levels of T cells, which are one of the body's first defenses against infection. However, intense 90-minute training sessions like those done by elite athletes can actually lower immunity." (Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York)
Gym Etiquette: 
It's one thing if you decide to exercise when sick, but how do you keep from spreading it to others in the gym? And what about you if they are the ones exercising with a cold?  If you are constantly blowing your nose, grab a gym wipe, and keep your hands clean.  Use a towel to keep a protective barrier between you and other equipment users.  Be sure to wipe up after you are done.  Cardio equipment gathers sweat and other debris, and while the machines are cleaned regularly, it never hurts to be preventative on your part.  Gym equipment is typically cleaned once a day, so there are a lot of folks using machines between cleanings.  The value of clean hands cannot be overstated in both keeping your germs from others, and keeping their germs away from you!

No Jewish mother worth her salt misses an opportunity to make and serve one of the best cold remedies ever created, chicken soup.  You can make your own, too!  Here's how:


Original recipe makes 10 servings
  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken
  • 4 carrots, halved
  • 4 stalks celery, halved
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • water to cover
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (optional)



  1. Put the chicken, carrots, celery and onion in a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken meat falls off of the bones (skim off foam every so often).
  2. Take everything out of the pot. Strain the broth. Pick the meat off of the bones and chop the carrots, celery and onion. Season the broth with salt, pepper and chicken bouillon to taste, if desired. Return the chicken, carrots, celery and onion to the pot, stir together, and serve.
Suggestions for working out with a cold:
Qui Gong or Tai Chi
light cardio class like Zumba
light weight lifting

Things to avoid:
Long endurance runs
Intense interval format classes
heavy weight lifting
anything outside in the cold (it takes extra energy to stay warm, and you need that energy for healing)


After workout snacks?

Melissa's Tip of the Week is designed to help you and your family live happier, healthier lives through healthy choices.
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 Think you are doing yourself a favor by eschewing that after workout snack?  Think again...
  1. After workout snacks can help your body use food as fuel.  Eating before the workout glow dissipates can help your body replace muscle glycogen lost during your workout.
  2. Have some complex carbs and a little protein.  Your body wants fresh fruits and vegetables as an efficient source of fuel.  But it also needs a little protein to help rebuild those tissues and create new muscle,  so focus on getting 1 to 1.5 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight; a 130-pound woman, for example, should aim for about 59 to 87 grams of carbs after a workout. Add 10 to 20 grams of lean protein in order to help muscles repair and recover (bonus: eating protein helps you feel less sore after a workout as well).  Don't forget that each gram of carbohydrate and protein is four calories, so if you're trying to refuel and lose weight, eat half the amount of carbs within 30 minutes of your workout, and then make up the rest when you eat your next meal. 
  3. Don't overdo it: If you're working out to lose or maintain weight, don't use your workout as an excuse to indulge in a post-workout feast. The American Council on Exercise recommends assessing your workout to see if it warrants the calories you want to consume. If you didn't break a sweat or experience labored breathing and an elevated heart rate during your workout, you probably don't need a snack to recover.
  4. What should you eat?  Examples might include an apple cut up with peanut butter, a handful of almonds and a piece of fruit, or a small salad with some seeds sprinkled in for the protein (think sunflower, pumpkin).
Clean it up!  Eating more fresh food is great for your body, and you know it!  Now get started!  But before you do, here's an updated list of the fruits with the lowest amount of pesticides.  Call it the "clean 15"...
Sweet Peas (frozen)
Sweet Potatoes
Small Group Training sign up is out!  FITT For Life group training workouts are being offered twice a week, on Wednesdays at 9:00 am, and again on Saturdays at 11:30 am!  Sign up for one or both in the fitness center.  Only $99 for a 6 week session!  I offer ongoing measurement follow up, and groups will be getting new workouts to follow during the week as homework, as well.  Get in on the FUN!
Melissa, 414-630-1448 C

Think Positive!

Melissa's Tip of the Week is designed to help you and your family to live happier, healthier lives through a good diet and exercise.
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Last week, I realized

the true power of positive thinking.

It's not just about achieving your goals--it's also about defeating the negative influences in our lives.  You don't have to look far, do you?  Turn the corner and there is a person in a car that's seriously unhappy, and ready to make your day so.  At the water cooler at work, maybe there's a "negative Nancy", just waiting to pour out her misery upon you.  And sometimes, despite our best efforts, we bleed our disappointment onto our friends and family.  But it doesn't have to be that way.

You have the ultimate power to change the things in your life that you wish to change.  You can get stronger, lose weight, or learn another language.  You can choose to eat healthier, or take up a hobby you've always wanted to try.  You can try a new class, take up yoga, or go to the park.  Breathe the fresh spring air, and be reinvigorated!

And you also have the power to eschew the negative influences.  You can choose to think positively, and ignore the barrage of negative people out there.  You can put a smile on your face, and brave the onslaught.  Keep going, you're making a difference- in your life, and in the lives of others.  Plant the seeds that will grow into a positive influence on someone else's day.  Ignore the bad, and embrace the good.  You are the power.
The exercise above is a Split Jump Lunge.  It's like doing a regular lunge, but then adding some power to the exercise, increasing the calorie burn, and the burn in those muscles!  Adding power to your exercise stimulates those type ll B muscle fibers, responsible for fast, powerful response.  They help you build muscle (hypertrophy), and because your heart rate will also respond by going up, and your core temperature will rise, they also help burn MORE CALORIES...
Pilates...a great core workout, and a great way to increase your performance in just about any sport or physical endeavor.  And this exercise, the Pilates Swimmer, is particularly well suited to improving back strength.  In fact, you are working the entire back side of your body.  As you can see from the picture, everything is activated, and you pump your opposite arm and leg.  This can be done slowly, with control, or a little faster, like a flutter kick.  Please notice that her head is in alignment with her spine, and she's looking in front of her, at the end of the mat, or just beyond.  This is recommended so that you don't strain the neck, but rather work those muscles with the best alignment possible.

Outdoor Workouts!

Melissa's Tip of the Week is designed to help you and your family to live happier healthier lives through good diet and exercise.
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Time to Ride!

The season is just beginning, so let's be ready!

It's warming up, here in Wisconsin, and that means outdoor activities are not only possible, but comfortable and fun!  Without that bitter cold, the possibilities for exercising outdoors expand, and we can consider running, roller blading, cycling, hiking, yoga poolside, and so much more!  Living in a cold climate means you really appreciate this milder weather.  Be sure to be ready for any and all outdoor activities by training now.

Outdoor cycling requires a bit of equipment:  a helmet, a bike--of course you can get fancy and add cycling gloves and shorts, a jersey, and clips and clip in shoes--but most importantly, just get out there!  If you are planning to run, be sure to get fitted with a good pair of shoes.  A place like In Step will measure you, see how your foot behaves (pronate, supinate, arch issues), and they will recommend several options that will serve your feet well.  Remember that what happens to your feet travels up the kinetic chain, through your knees, and up to your hips and even low back.  Making sure you have the proper shoes will help to keep you injury free.  If you decide to roller blade, be sure to wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, and know how to stop!

Whichever sport you choose, there is an indoor simulation for it.  A treadmill can be used to train for running, a spin class for outdoor cycling, and the Wave for roller blading, as examples.  But remember, indoors there are not "conditions"--no wind, rain, terrain--we are trying to simulate those things, but there will be a transition period to the outdoors.  Keep in mind that running on a treadmill is smooth and has less impact than concrete or paved roads.  Even if you are used to running inside, once you are outside on pavement, you can still get shin splints and other injuries.  Try to change up your routine, some days using hills, some days running trails, and start smaller than what your are doing inside.  A shorter distance will help you acclimate to the conditions of the road.  The same idea applies to other outdoor sports.  Start with a smaller distance and build up to prevent injury.

Whatever you decide to try, have fun!  Breathe the fresh air, absorb some sunshine (vitamin D), and stay active.
I'll still be teaching spinning throughout the spring, and based on demand, through the summer.  My current classes are as follows:

Thursdays at 9:15 am, 45 minute class
Saturdays at 11:30 am, 45 minute class (followed by a Core 30)

Sign up is still required for the Saturday class, and you can find that sheet at the front desk.  Spinning is a great class for all levels.  Even if you've never tried it before, you can come to a class and get a good workout.  Because you are totally in charge of the resistance on your bike, you can control how hard you are working, so even for beginners, this is a GREAT class.  Don't be scared!  Just come and join me!
I'm calling this one a V-Reach.  This exercise is great because it's working the muscle completely.  You are getting the contraction from the bottom and the top, making it not only more intense, but more effective.  Start with the legs up,  inhale at the bottom, exhale and reach your hands up to your feet.  Repeat this 15 times, and then do 2 more sets.  If it bothers your neck, put one hand behind your head to support, and reach with the other hand up toward your legs.