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Posts Tagged ‘active’

What is a Calorie and Why Should You Care?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Calorie is a household word, it’s heard around the office, at the gym, but if I ask the question, “exactly what does a calorie do” people have a hard time answering. In fact, most answer, “the thing in food that makes me fat.” Seems to me calories have gotten a bad reputation; are considered to be the enemy. Or it may be like many things in life…too much of a good thing can be bad. So here’s the question. How much do you really know about calories? (Yes, go ahead, take the quiz) Because, actually, calories can be your friend.

Funny…with all the talk about calories, few people truly understand what a calorie is and why it is so important to their bodies. Calories aren’t bad for you. Your body needs calories for energy. But eating too many calories — and not burning enough of them off through activity — can lead to weight gain.

By definition a calorie is a unit of measurement; the energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius. When you read that a food contains 100 calories, it’s a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking that food.

Calories are energy that fuel our bodies; much like gasoline fuels our cars. Without sufficient calories our heart would not beat, our lungs would not function, and our brain would not work. Note: I am certainly not claiming that if you eat more calories you brain will work better.

On average, most adults need at least 1000 to 1400 calories to have enough energy to fuel their key organs. This minimum number of calories is called your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and it varies quite a bit depending on age, sex, weight, and muscle mass. In order to have enough energy to live your day and be active you need more energy than what’s required from your resting metabolic rate (RMR). About 400 to 600 additional calories per day is recommended. This is the energy needed to move versus just lying or sitting still all day.

It’s really quite simple math to understand why you gain or lose weight. If you exceed the number of calories your body requires each day you will eventually gain weight. For example, if your body needs 2000 calories a day to maintain its current weight and every day you consume 2500, in one week you would gain 1 lb. And by the way, one day of overindulging does not cause instant weight gain.

To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. Example: If you eat 2000 calories a day, and are maintaining your weight, you would need to burn 250 calories (30 minutes high impact aerobics for a 150 lb. person) per day to lose a 1/2 lb. in one week. If, in addition, you decreased your caloric intake by 250 calories a day, you could then lose 1 lb. per week. But one note of caution…you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

Research backs up the The Simple Secret Of Weight Loss: Eat Less, Move More

Yes, you should care. My advice: Know the content and calories of what you’re eating. Get up and get moving. Make sure your physical activity is enjoyable and you will stick with it!

Looking for a way to get active? Check out the many adult dance & fitness classes offered at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School.

Is Your Kid on the Couch?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

When kids are active, they feel better, are more productive in school, make better choces, get a better night’s sleep, and like any adult, are more pleasant to be around! Exercise is such a mood booster!

But today there are more challenges than ever when it comes to kids getting enough physical activity. Technology, gadgets that mean we rarely have to get out of a chair, kids having cell phones at a younger age, busyness, overcommitment and stress at school and other other activities, all lead to children today being on track to be the unhealthiest generation of adults ever. In fact, some studies say that by 2048 100% of Americans will be considered obese. That’s staggering! And that’s our kids.

Why am I writing this blog? Because we all know this, and yet the problem grows. So today I join the conversation to make sure that if there is someone out there who has not heard that our kids are stuck on the couch more than any other generation, I will reach that person. And each of us can begin to make small changes in our own lives so that we are modeling healthy behavior to the next generation.

Over the next couple of months I will be blogging often about getting our kids active. I am committed. I will share articles and ideas as I come across them. Today I begin by sharing tips to get your couch kid to exercise.

Watch for new programming for kids coming to Ballet Austin. We are committed to getting kids active!

Buddy Up!

Friday, October 12th, 2012

As a couple of old sayings go, “time passes much more quickly when you’re having fun” and “there’s strength in numbers.”

Right off the bat some of you might argue that there is nothing fun about a workout. I counter that thought with the fact (yes, there is research to back it up) that friends who exercise together get better results together.

So if you are one of those who considers exercise the “necessary of two evils” (better than being dead), and the fun of Bollywood or Zumba® isn’t enough to get you off the couch, buddy up!

A study of 3,000 women revealed 61% find it near impossible to find enough motivation and energy to exercise alone. However the same proportion enjoy working out with a friend, and say they actually push themselves harder if they have company.

Having a friend who is interested in keeping fit and toned can help keep motivation high. Workouts becomes less about the sweat, or how many calories you burn, and more about catching up on the latest news, and sharing time together. Social support encourages physical activity, provides feedback, and makes the exercise time more fun. I think that’s why the fitness apps are so popular today. They challenge us, motivate us, encourage us, make our workouts more interesting, and give us the feedback we need to keep going. I just wish I had an app that kept me from reaching for the white chocolate chip cookie!

So buddy up! Grab your friend and get started this week. It’s $5 Friend Week at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School! Bring a friend to any BCS Drop-in class between October 15 and October 21 and both you and your friend can take that class for only $5!

What are you waiting for? Over 60 classes are offered 7 days a week! Buddy up and experience the positive side of peer pressure!

See you in a class with your friend this week!

Close Your Eyes and Stand on One Foot

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Can you stand on one foot for 15 seconds with your eyes closed?

Before you even think about answering, try it. 

How did you do? Were you able to last 15 seconds without opening your eyes or holding on to anything? Were you surprised that it was more of a challenge than you thought? Here’s the facts: After age 25, our sense of balance slowly begins to decline. Standing on one foot may seem fairly simple. At age 45 the ankles start to shake and you may find this a bit more of a challenge. When we reach our 60s, balance declines rapidly. Standing on one foot for 15 seconds with eyes closed without holding on is tough.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States and 20 to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.

September 22 kicked off Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Why set aside a week to bring awareness to falling down? Because preventing a fall is much more effective than treating a fall; a public health problem that is largely preventable. A fall can change an individual’s life instantly and although associated with getting older, a fall is not a normal part of aging.

Our bodies have an amazing and complex balance system that requires attention throughout life to keep it healthy and maintained. Most of us don’t think about exercising our balance when we think about healthy aging. In fact, balance is the most overlooked element of fitness; overlooked until we have a problems.

So what’s the easiest way to reclaim balance and prevent falls? For the most part, it’s child’s play. Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember challenging friends to see who could hop the longest on one foot?  Or who could walk on the edge of the sidewalk the longest without falling off? Hopscotch, jumping rope, tossing balls…we didn’t call it exercise or balance training as children, but that is exactly what we were doing. Those activities helped us develop our balance and stability as children, and similar activities can help keep the brain and muscles working together as we age.

A favorite part of my week is teaching the Better Balance & Movement Workshops here at Ballet Austin. The participants range in age from about 40 to 80. I love it! Together we challenge our brains and our muscles to do what we want them to do. And then we laugh when they don’t always cooperate. I especially love to see people coming back each week sharing how they practiced at home, and the improvement they notice in their balance.

Thanks to partial underwriting from Scott & White Healthcare, Ballet Austin is on a mission to bring better balance to adults as part of its core value to encourage lifelong health and well-being. We desire to provide programming that will motivate and encourage people of all ages to be active! I once read this quote, “Movement requires balance. Sitting does not.

On September 13, 2012 the US Senate passed a resolution declaring September 22, 2012 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a day set aside to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults.

Keep moving!

There are many ways for people of all ages to stay active at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. Interested in the Better Balance & Movement Workshop? A new session begins October 31.

Are You Half Done?

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

A good workout is better than a half done workout and a half done workout is better than none at all.

We live in a time when it’s all or nothing. We apply the “all or nothing” mentality to how we eat, sleep, and work out. This past week there was a day I was not able to go for my 60 minute. Instead of going for 20 I stayed home and sat on the couch.

Think about that for a minute. For example, does it really make sense that if we eat healthy all day and then blow it with a gooey candy bar in the afternoon, we just throw up our hands and say, “oh well, I ruined my diet for today so might as well eat junk the rest of the day”?  Does it really make sense to commit to exercise every day, do great for weeks, and then laziness sets in so motivation goes out the window and you turn into a couch potato again? It happens so quickly! We miss a workout, eat unhealthy, and so on. Defeat leads to derailing.

It’s easy to make excuses not to exercise. Even when we know how good it is for us, we just find it easier to not. We’re too busy, too tired, too…whatever to exercise. And rather than put in even half the time or half the effort, we do nothing.

I know how easy it is to get trapped into the “I give up mentality. If I can’t do it all, then I will do nothing.”

So let’s flip our thoughts.

What if we look at it this way: In stead of focusing on a goal to exercise for one hour a day, we focus on a goal to limit our sitting and sleeping time to 23 hours a day!  Sounds a bit ridiculous but it just might work. Out of 24 hours in a day I can only sit or sleep for 23. Maybe I’m not too busy!

Adding a bit of practical advice to this thinking; when you are in a slump, catch yourself quickly and choose to get back on track right away. So you have slacked off a bit lately; no big deal! It happens to all of us. Accept it as a part of the ups and downs in life. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The key is to get back on track before it becomes a lifelong habit. When it comes to food, instead of eating the whole carton of ice cream, feel terrible, defeated, and give up, realise you made a bad choice, and then follow it up with a new one; a better choice. Put a stop to your defeated thoughts before they stop you! Sometimes it’s harder to do than others, but once you recognise it’s a problem, it gets easier.

Start again and move on. Your success is the accumulation of continual good choices and effort over time. The key is to make sure you have more good days then bad ones! Don’t let a bad moment, day, week, or month undo all your hard work. Start each day fresh. And remember, doing half as much is still better than doing nothing at all.

What kind of a workout will you have this week? What will you do each day to limit your sitting and sleeping to only 23 hours?  Make a choice!

 

Looking for something new and fresh to motivate you this week? Check out Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School’s dance & fitness classes and state-of-the-art Pilates Center!

A Conversation Between My Brain and My Body

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Vicki Parsons, Director of Schools Operations & BCS Program Director

You have heard from several Ballet Austin staff members about their likes and dislikes and challenges when it comes to working out. Now it’s my turn.

Let me go on record. I do like to work out. My story begins with a quote I posted last month on the BCS facebook page: “Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway.” 

The quote was for me. While my body loves a good workout; needs to be challenged physically, my brain and my body don’t always agree. My brain has a mind of its own. My body loves to move anywhere. My brain knows the importance of a good workout, but has a people and group exercise fear. The staff fitness challenge to get Ballet Austin staff into BCS group classes was my idea. I went into it knowing that I am not a fan of group exercise. I love to run and hike, but I go solo. I exercise for the physical benefit, the stress relief, and time to get away and think. I don’t need people around when I sweat.  It’s out of my comfort zone. But…I had committed to this challenge.

Dreading it for a week, I finally went to Turbo Kick®. And that’s when the conversation began between my body and my brain.

Brain: “Will they wonder why I am there, try to talk to me?” Out of my comfort zone; I felt the fear.

Body: “Do it anyway! Yes, there were other people in the studio, but stand in the back and nobody will notice you.”

I tried hiding behind Kody Jauron, Ballet Austin II dancer and BCS instructor. Music started, instructions were shouted out, and there we went…hard core cardio-burning 45 minutes!

Body: “Doing okay…although this is a mean workout.”  I discovered I am a bit uncoordinated (my colleagues might laugh at the phrase ”a bit”) I was definitely challenged!

Brain: In intimidation and resist mode, assuming that everyone already knew what to do, “Turbo Kick® is easy for them; they are probably laughing at me.”

The intimidation factor is why I dragged not only Kody, but my husband Mark to the class. We could all struggle together; I would not be alone in my inadequacies. Brain winning the battle? Almost! But Brain begins to come around…

Brain:  “Everybody else in the studio is far too busy worrying about getting it right to notice me. No one is trying to talk to me. Maybe if I am so self-conscious, imagining every eyeball is focused on me, somebody else might be thinking the same thing.”

About halfway through the class I looked around and realized that everyone was sweating and breathing hard. We were all in the same place…sweat dripping, muscles screaming, dying!

Brain overcoming! “WHO CARES what other people think?  Maybe in their heads they also hear, I’m embarrassed! I think I may throw up! I can’t do the moves right. Is everyone staring at me? Why am I here?’

Brain and Body: “In the end it doesn’t matter. I got one of the most awesome workouts of my life! I felt the fear. I kept kicking and boxing and pushing my muscles. I burned hundreds of calories.”

The 45 minutes flew by and at the end…I was ready for the end…I walked away with memories of the fun music, the encouraging and challenging words of Tara, BCS Turbo Kick® instructor. I survived! And I felt a sense of camaraderie with my fellow survivors. Admittedly tired, my body felt great. When I stepped outside and felt the 100 degree heat hit my face it crossed my mind that an indoor workout is a great thing during summers in Texas.

Whatever your challenge, find the workout that fits your fitness personality, your interests, and your schedule. The workout where your brain and body will agree.

Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway.” 

Moving Downtown Has Increased My Opportunities For Fitness

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I’m a bit envious of my colleague Pei-San Brown, Ballet Austin’s Community Education Director. Besides being able to walk down the hall from her office to take a class, in the evenings and on weekends she just walks across the street for a great workout! No excuses for her! And as you will see, she takes advantage of every opportunity to take a class. See what Pei-San has to say about living downtown and working out…

Pei-San Brown, Community Education Director

Moving downtown was the best thing I ever did to increase my opportunities for fitness. Everything I need on a daily basis is within a 15-minute walk of either work or home, and because I’m a person who prefers taking dance and fitness classes to working out on my own in a gym, having access to classes and workshops at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School is absolutely ideal. There are so many different kinds of classes and workshops at various times of the day, I’m always finding new ways to challenge myself and to work out muscles that I never knew I had…I get to do so with my neighbors, who are a lot of fun!

It’s hard to pick my favorite class. I love Ballet Fit, Zumba®, Turbo Kick®, Below the Belt, and Arms & Abs. The best part is that because they are drop-in classes, anyone can attend them at a moment’s notice! Ballet Fit appeals to me because I can take a basic ballet barre and get my abs, arms, and glutes worked out at the same time. I love Zumba®  and Turbo Kick® because of their strong emphasis on choreography (although they’re easy because you don’t have to memorize anything – just follow along!). Turbo Kick® is especially good for increasing my stamina – it’s my new favorite class! And I’m a die-hard fan of Below the Belt and Arms & Abs! I would NEVER work out these groups of muscles by myself for 45 minutes straight – it’s so much more motivating to work out with a great group of folks like my fabulous neighbors, and an instructor who pushes you to challenge yourself!

I also love all of the Pilates workshops, which are offered in 4 to 6 week increments. Pilates Mat Workout, Pilates Theraband® Stretch, and Pilates Ballet Barre Workout are staples in my weekly fitness routine. The great thing is that they are offered 4 days of the week, so just like the drop-in classes, I can pick the workshops that fit my schedule and simply walk over to Ballet Austin just a few minute before class starts.

My personal fitness goals are to walk everyday for at least an hour, and to take dance or fitness classes five times a week. Because of my proximity to the BCS and the dynamic class and workshop schedule offered at the BCS (including Saturdays and Sundays), I’ve found that fulfilling (and sometimes exceeding) these goals is a piece of cake and a lot of fun!

Do you work or live downtown? Join me for a class!

Words of Wisdom from Your Typical 20-Something Overachiever

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

If you haven’t noticed, the Ballet Austin staff “Get Moving Challenge” has revealed the challenges people face in their quest to to to be active on a regular basis. Today we get to hear from my colleague Eleanor Bartosh who works in the Marketing Department at Ballet Austin.

Eleanor Bartosh, Digital Media Manager

I am a planner, through and through.  Whether its meals for the week, Saturday morning errands or vacation agendas, you name it and it’s probably on my calendar somewhere… most likely a few weeks in advance. Because of this – on top of being just plain busy – it’s often hard for me to just “hit the gym after work” on any given day.

Enter in the BCS Staff Challenge. I filled the role of your typical 20-something overachiever: I work a lot, and outside of the office, my free time is usually spent running to happy hours instead of running on the trail. Clearly things had to change.

For the challenge I took Zumba® (insert hip shake), Body Sculpting (not as scary as it sounds) and I tested out a workshop called Pilates Thera-Band® Stretch (my favorite).

All of my friends and co-workers are well aware that I’m not cardio person (my gym time is spent on a yoga mat), but I’ve been dying to try Zumba® for months now. It looked like a fun way to work up a sweat and target your ‘problem areas’ – and, yes, even 24-year-olds have those. It proved to be both of those things and more. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, but it didn’t matter as I shook my hips and wiggled across the floor for 45 straight minutes. Our instructor Rebekah Fowler was sassy, sweet and totally inspiring. Tip: Bring a water bottle and a friend and laugh at yourselves in the mirror.

The next day found me in Body Sculpting, another of our drop-in fitness classes. Thankfully I spent the morning on a mat rather than tripping over my tennis shoes, doing a variety of Pilates-inspired exercises designed to target muscles ALL over your body. I loved the full workout and my hips and shoulders were pleasantly sore later that evening. Tip: Dress comfortably (workout tights are great) and don’t worry about wearing sneakers.

To switch things up just a bit, I sampled one of our popular Pilates workshops called Pilates Thera-Band® Stretch – and let me just say… it was INCREDIBLE and by far one of the most enjoyable workouts I’ve ever done next to yoga. Despite getting sweatier than expected (sorry in advance to my 2pm coffee date), the 45-minute lunchtime session FLEW by and I found myself smiling the whole time… even while my legs were shaking and my abs were cramping. Taught by Company Dancer Elise Pekarek, it’s quick, fun and effective. I will definitely be back (and you should come, too!). Tip: Bring a towel and your own band if you’re allergic to latex.

It’s Thursday and I can’t believe I’ve already worked out three times this week – or that I can already feel the benefit! With every class I feel stronger, I’m sleeping better and my abs are starting to show some definition again. Which makes me wonder: Maybe this whole ‘exercising regularly’ thing IS worth it after all…

My Motivation: Easing Into The Golden Years Gracefully

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Ballet Austin’s Director of Operations & Finance has become famous during the Staff “Get Moving Challenge“. She has been to many of the classes. I love it! See what she has to say…

Gail Romney, Director of Operations & Finance

First class – Turbo Kick. I am alive. That is good news because there is a chance now I can finish the Staff Challenge. You know me, I’m the busy downtown professional who is in the second half of a century of life and would like to ease into the golden years gracefully. Ha. I am motivated by the fact that my mother and mother-in-law are in their 90’s and, as my mother puts it, still running around loose. My mother-in-law is 95, can walk 3 miles without breathing hard, and takes Pilates once a week. Who needs a staff challenge when I have her around? I tell myself there is an outside chance that if I exercise and keep in shape, the reward will be a long and mobile life and perhaps I won’t lose my marbles too soon. So, back to Turbo Kick…this is a fun and energetic 45 minutes and if you take it for the first time, don’t worry about the jabs and hooks, punches and kicks. If you keep moving, you will sweat – and that is a promise. I can see that after a few classes, the moves become second nature, as evidenced by the synchronized movements of everyone but me.  And instructor, Tara Shakleford, is adorable (in sort of a drill sergeant way). But it was fun, and I will definitely come back to it when I am done with all my other adventures at the BCS.

Second Class – Zumba. A terrific class and again, a great cardio workout. Rebekah Fowler is a fantastic instructor and makes all the steps easy to follow, although I am sure I dislocated both hips with all the sultry Latin moves!

Third Class – Elementary Contemporary. I took this even though I wasn’t exactly sure what I would be getting into. The description sounded intriguing but I was a bit leery of the hour and a half class time since I nearly expired in the previous two classes that were half as long. Not to worry, there was a lovely warm up involving aspects of Yoga and ballet along with abs and arms work. Then instructor Dane Burch got us moving with choreography that was challenging, but doable, in a jazz/lyrical/modern style. It was great fun and Dane was very patient with us newbies.

Truly, all the classes at Ballet Austin’s BCS are wonderful, my favorites over the years have been Ballet Fit, Arms & Abs, and Body Sculpting (love this one), as well as doing the Pilates Reformer classes. The Staff Challenge was a blast and I even got my picture taken several times – I could get used to this paparazzi thing…

Yes, Gail found herself in front of the camera several times over the past week or so. Check it out on the BCS facebook page! You too could win a FREE class. Staff sightings are everywhere! Love the “Get Moving Challenge“!

Never taken a class? Get Started!

Working Moms and Working Out

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I asked several of my colleagues to join the Staff “Get Moving Challenge”. Two of them are busy working moms of young children. What I love about both of them is that they don’t pull the ’mom card’ as an excuse to not work out. Look what they have to say. Can you relate to their story? Besides finding classes during the day that fit their busy schedule they seem to have figured out the “buddy system”!

Brooke Holmes, Senior Development Associate:

I fall into the category of ‘like to work out, but don’t have much time for it’. I’m a mom of a 3-year-old, work full time, commuting from Cedar Park to downtown Austin. I leave my house before 8am and don’t get home until 6:30pm. It’s then my second job kicks in. I begin the evening routine of making dinner, a little playtime with my daughter and then get her ready for bed. By the time she is asleep and the house is cleaned up, it is 10:00pm. I am tired.

Working out is important to me; it makes me feel good. I have to find time to make it happen. Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School daytime classes are perfect; a mix of cardio and strength training which I love, and both are available during the day. My favorites are Arms & Abs, Below the Belt, Pilates Ballet Barre, and for cardio I like Pilates Cardio Workout and Turbo Kick® (love, love, love this one!).

I think it is really important to take care of yourself even when you are a mom, especially when you’re a mom; really busy and working a lot. When I don’t work out, I feel more tired and more stressed out. When I do work out it makes me a better person and a better mom. So, I make the time during times when I can, and am always glad when I do.

Christi Cuellar Lotz, Development Director

As the mother of an 18-month-old daughter, working out has found its place in many different places on my priority list over the last year and a half…including the bottom of the list. Last summer she loved riding in a jogging stroller and was up early enough in the morning to allow me the opportunity to get a good 30-45 minute walk in before work. NOW, however, she’s a fantastic sleeper, and you know what they say…”Never wake a sleeping baby!” So, with a travelling husband, those early-morning walks are a thing of the past.

Though I’m not opposed at all to a post-work-day workout, as we enter the 100+ degree days of summer, I’m also not crazy. There are times I’ll brave it, but mostly not. The Butler Community School daytime fitness classes are such a blessing! I try to take at least 3 per week, and my favorites are Arms & Abs, Pilates Ballet Barre, Below the Belt, occasionally Turbo Kick®, and Pilates Cardio. All allow for a great work-out, targeting various sections of my body, and don’t get me too sweaty to get back into work clothes 20 or so minutes later.

I also find, like my colleague, Brooke, that I feel more alert and less stressed when I work out… Sometimes when that 45 minutes is the absolute only gap in my day, and I feel like I should sit and answer email instead of take the class, Brooke talks me into going and I don’t ever regret it!

Join Christi and Brooke in a class soon. Working mom near downtown? Check out some of the dance and fitness classes and workshops offered at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School.

 
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