DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness


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What Are You Doing?

Consider this: In any group of people, the person who dictates the response of others exerts the most influence and therefore becomes the leader.

Stick that in the back of your pocket for a second.

During my Saturday morning Dynamic Body Sculpt class at Snap Fitness ABQ Tramway, there was an interesting exchange between myself and one of my students.  We were doing an exercise called Surrenders.  It’s quite a challenging move as it requires holding the weights overhead with arms that are already fatigued whilst kneeling down and standing back up about 10 times.  I mean really, what’s not to love about that?  Anyway, Surrenders are a killer move and it takes a certain mindset to get through them.  It’s not uncommon to see people become paralyzed with tension and stop altogether.

I said to my class, “The reason these are called Surrenders is not because you give up. It’s because you don’t resist.  Relax, breathe, and complete the task at hand.  Think about that, if you can’t stay calm in here, how will you ever stay calm out there? And I’m not even the hard part of your life, I’m just a nice person who’s trying to help you.”

At this point one of my regular students piped up and said, half to me and half to everyone, “Don’t be fooled by that “nice person”, there’s a fierce warrior in there.” And the rest of the class immediately voiced their agreement.  Admittedly, I got a little warm fuzzy from that but I’m not repeating the story to complement myself.  I’m repeating the story because it takes one to know one.  I can only assume that if someone recognizes the warrior in me, it is because the warrior in them has sat up to take notice.

Segue 

Yesterday, there was a stabbing at St. Jude Thaddeus church here in Albuquerque. Rather, there were several stabbings and four people were sent to the hospital.  The aggressor, 24 year old Lawrence Capener is in police custody.

Right now, before you have a reaction to this, or anything else that you hear on the news, I want you to go back and re-read the first sentence.  Yes, the one I said to stick in the back of your pocket.

On what will you base your response? Will you take your cues from the evening news? Will you stand with the sheep and allow yourself to be provoked into an outrage and to feel afraid? Surely you’ll want someone or something to blame?

Before you thump your chest and say “Hellz to the yeah!”, answer me this:  Will you become paralyzed with tension and render yourself impotent?

Rhetorical as this may sound, the human condition only mirrors the human condition.  What you feel, you spread like a contagion, be it good or bad.

So while it may seem righteous to feel outraged and afraid and to look for somewhere to place blame, I ask you to consider what motivates someone to commit a crime like a public stabbing, shooting, or bombing? Why in the world would anyone do something like that unless they themselves were outraged and afraid and looking for someone to blame?

The Law Of Attraction says like attracts like.  I don’t need to illustrate the truth of this statement.

Maybe it’s time to question if what’s wrong out there is not actually what’s wrong in here.

It takes a certain mindset to make it through the Surrenders and it takes the same mindset to wake up and see what you are doing.

What are you doing?

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How to eliminate belly fat and get flat abs

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Let’s talk about belly fat. What is it, why is it dangerous and what are you going to do about it?

What is it?

Belly fat is the common name for a condition known as abdominal obesity. There are two different kinds of fat: subcutaneous and visceral.  Subcutaneous fat tends to accumulate in the lower body (the pear shape) and is the type of fat that you can pinch.  Subcutaneous fat is problematic but is not considered to be as great of a health risk as visceral fat.  When there is a large accumulation of fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape), this is usually visceral fat.   While subcutaneous fat tends to be closer to the surface, visceral fat lays out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our organs.  In a nutshell: belly fat = visceral fat.

Why is it dangerous?

When the circumference of the waist exceeds the circumference of the hips, it poses a significant health risk regardless of total body fat.  Excess visceral fat has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.

In English this time?

Excessive belly fat is not only bad for the bikini, it’s very hazardous to your health!

What are you going to do about it?

Now this is the really loaded question but I’m sure you can guess the answer.  Is there a magic pill that will do the work for you while you change nothing? Short answer: No.  Diet and exercise, i.e., lifestyle change is what’s going to make the difference.

Diet

To quote Jillian Michaels, “You can eat your way through any workout”, meaning that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you still consume more calories than you burn.  Here’s the straight scoop. For the body to burn fat, it must use more fuel than it consumes.  This is referred to as creating a caloric deficit. It takes a caloric deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1, yeah – just 1, pound of fat.  In order to set a schedule of losing 1 pound a week it is necessary to have a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day.

Now before you flip out and decide that starvation must be the only solution, and me assure you that starvation is not the solution, it is important to understand that it takes a certain amount of calories for the body to function at all.  No calories = no function. Get it?  This minimum number of required calories is known as the Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR and is determined by your height, weight, age and gender. To determine your BMR, here is a handy BMR calculator http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

Your daily caloric intake should never be less than your BMR.

Here are a few diet tips to help you.

#1 The refined sugar has got to go.  This is including and especially referring to soda and other sweetened beverages like sweet tea or Kool-Aid and many sport drinks. Read labels!

#2 Minimize or eliminate Wheat Gluten. Did you ever see that movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? There is a wonderful scene where Scott (Michael Cera) is talking to Ramona Flowers about bread. Rather than explain, just watch this 7 second video

Yes, bread makes you fat.

#3 Limit caffeine.  I love coffee just as much, and probably more, than the average person but here’s the thing.  Excessive caffeine kicks your body into fight-or-flight mode. This would be a good thing if maybe you were being chased by a lion, not so good while sitting at a computer checking email.  While the adrenals are pumping out epinephrine and norepinephrine they set into motion a cascade of fattening hormonal actions. Your liver releases blood sugar for quick energy, your pancreas spits our insulin to counter the sugar, and your blood sugar dips because of the insulin. Also, your blood vessels constrict making you feel like your blood sugar is crashing even harder and what do you do? Head straight for the vending machine to find something, anything, to help you return to feeling normal.

#4 While I encourage everyone to do their own research, I am a fan of the Whole Food Diet.  Can’t go wrong by eliminating processed foods.

Exercise

Gonna say this right off. There is no such thing as spot burning fat.  What that means is that you can do ab crunches till infinity, and get some really ripped rectus abdominis muscles that no one will see because they’re still under all the fat.

While core strength is vitally important to every aspect of fitness and should never be ignored, most ab strengthening exercises do not burn very many calories.

Here are a few exercise tips to help you strengthen your abdominal muscles while blasting the heart rate and burning fat at the same time.

#1 Standing Mountain Climbers – Like running in place with high knees but add the arms in too.  Run in place while popping the knees as high as you can while at the same time reaching or “climbing” overhead with the arms.  Begin the move with the right knee and the left arm raised, then alternate.  Light hand weights are optional.standingmountainclimber

#2 Standing Pike Kicks – From a standing position reach both arms forward at chest level or higher and alternate front kicks. Kick as high as you can, try to kick your hands. Do this move as fast as you can while maintaining stability.

frontkicks

#3 180 Jumps – That’s jumping 180 degrees, not necessarily jumping 180 times! Like a jump squat but with a turn. Begin with the feet at shoulder width apart, drop down in the knees and jump, use your core to turn your body in the air and land facing the opposite direction.JumpSquats180

#4 Burpees –  Start in a standing position. Drop down, bending the knees and planting the hands on the floor. Jump or step back into plank. Jump or step the feet back up between the hands and stand up.  For extra fun, add in a jump at the end of  the move when you stand back up.burpees-henry-cavill-tabata-workout-09112011

Perform all of these fat blasting exercises as fast as you can while maintaining stability for 30 seconds. Intensity is the key to higher calorie burn BUT if you feel that you are losing your balance or are becoming light headed, listen to your body and SLOW DOWN.

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Sources:

Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide

ACE Fitness

Book: “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels


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How To Make Hummingbird Food

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Drawing by DeAnna Dimmitt

It’s that time of year again, when the winter finally retreats and the sun, plants and hummingbirds return!  Here in Albuquerque, the most plentiful hummingbird we have is the Black Chinned Hummingbird which happens to look almost nothing like the techno-colored drawing I made.  Female Black Chinned Hummingbirds are brown and the males are green with a black head. Down in the Bosque, one might occasionally see a Rufus but out here on the west side, our selections are pretty limited.  No matter, I don’t care, I love them all and am always thrilled to see them return towards the middle of April!

Upon hearing the buzz of little wings, the first order of business is to retrieve the feeders from the box in the garage and soak them in the sink. After this, they get scrubbed down with a toothbrush, not my toothbrush, and the glass bottles are whisked out with a wire contraption that is made specifically for that purpose.

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2 8oz Best-1 Hummingbird feeders

It is very important that the feeders be emptied and thoroughly cleaned at least once a week during the summer and fall.  Regardless if they are empty or not, the food goes rancid in a relatively short amount of time and especially so if the feeders are hanging in the sun. In addition, insects have a knack of finding their way inside but are not too slick when it comes to getting back out so, you know, they just float around and rot.  Anyway, clean the feeders thoroughly and often.

When it comes to feeder selection, there are a couple criteria that I look for. #1 Glass top. #2 Base that comes apart so that it can be cleaned. By far the best and longest lasting feeders that I have ever found are made by a company called Best-1.  They don’t seem to have a website but I have seen these feeders at the Alameda Greenhouse . You can also find them online at BestNest.com

Recipe For Hummingbird Food

4 parts water to 1 part sugar

Soooo…

1 cup water to 1/4 cup sugar

Now what?

Boil the water, stir in the sugar, briefly return to a boil then remove from heat and allow to cool.  If you like to make a lot at once, store the leftovers in a glass container in the refrigerator.

Special Note: When I say “sugar”, I mean regular ole’ white G&H table sugar.  It is very important that you only use sugar and nothing else.  You are not helping the birds by adding honey, brown sugar, stevia or any type of artificial sweetener. If they wanted fake diet food, they could call Jenny Craig. But seriously, any of these other ingredients could result in sick or dead hummers so please, white sugar only.  Another thing to keep in mind is that it is absolutely not necessary to add any kind of coloring to the mixture.  The feeder itself is red, that is plenty of color to attract the birds.

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Simple recipe for hummingbird food: 1 part sugar to 4 parts boiling water

Once the food has cooled, fill feeders and put them out!  Feeder placement is somewhat important.  Hummingbirds are nervous little creatures and they like to be able to keep an eye out for predators at all times.  Therefore, it is best to hang the feeders in an open space or fairly high up in a tree.

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Hummingbird feeder in Mimosa Tree

P.S. For those you who are thinking “Hey, I thought this was a fitness blog!”  Well, here’s the thing, it’s a Mind Body Fitness Blog.  Hummingbirds make me happy thereby contributing to my mind fitness. 😉

Happy Spring!

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Relax. Breathe. DO IT!

I want to tell you guys a little story in a largely uncensored way. So, for those of you that don’t know me, or have overly delicate sensibilities, consider yourself warned.

Last night I was having a conversation with a personal trainer friend of mine who was expressing the frustration he feels when people placate his message. I understood completely what he was saying and have experienced the same thing many times myself. What I’m talking about is when someone comes to us for help but then won’t help themselves. They tell us things like “I can’t drink water because it doesn’t taste like soda. I won’t eat vegetables because they don’t taste like Mac N Cheese. I won’t dig deep for the workout because I don’t like to be sweaty and out of breath.” Basically, it is impossible to help someone who is not willing to change their behavior.

I understood him very well, not just from a personal trainer point of view, but also because I, just like everyone else, have stumbling blocks and challenges and issues that persist because I just don’t feel like putting in the effort to change them and/or because I see them as bigger and badder than they really are.

This story has a few parts, by the way.

This morning, during a particularly challenging round of Dynamic Body Sculpt, I could see people starting to run out of gas so, to fire up what was left of their motivation, I said in my most fiery voice, “Successful people do what other people will not do. So relax and breathe and DO IT!”

After class, I was standing outside the gym talking with one of my students. She’s been with me a long time and we’ve developed a good friendship. She was telling me about about how she’s going to spend the afternoon visiting her friend who is barely 36 years old and in the hospital dying of cancer. As she started to relay the various horrors of the situation (and, trust me, there are many), I was taken back to when I woke up this morning. I woke up feeling heavy, thinking that the (comparatively minor) troubles and obstacles in my own life were very big and very complicated and probably the center of the whole entire universe and, you know, boo-hoo and stuff.

Every now and then, I believe that the universe taps me on the shoulder (or just straight up kicks me in the ass) and tells me something important. Often times, after toning it down a little, I share these things here on my blog.

So, my friend is telling me this story when I feel a little tap on my shoulder and the universe hands me a proverbial telegram that says, “quit your fucking whining and get your shit together.”

Whoa there, Nellie, that’s a little harsh, don’t you think?

Well guys, I never said this was diplomatic. And while I would never suggest that anyone engage in negative self talk, I am suggesting in the plainest way I know how that if you are lucky enough to be both, A. alive and, B. not suffering with a terminal illness, that you get serious about rooting out and identifying any and everything that is in your way. If something is preventing you from reaching your full potential, it’s gotta go. Shine a light on it, give it a name, take it apart, tear it down.

Start today.

Relax.

Breathe.

DO IT!


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The Wellness Triangle: Priorities Of Progress

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When discussing the concept of well-being with my personal training clients, I always explain to them that there are no isolated problems just as there no isolated solutions. To maintain a state of well-being requires conditioning and balance in all areas of life, not just at the gym.

The Wellness Triangle is made up of three components: Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Stress Management. Every aspect of your self care regime falls under one of these headings and no one part is more or less important than the others. For instance, physical activity can become a source of excessive stress if it is not supported by a foundation of nutrition, periods of relaxation and perhaps most importantly, the ability to diffuse stress. Nutrition is critically important but the body is not able to make optimum use of it’s fuel if it is sedentary and stressed out. And finally, I don’t believe it is possible to have any kind of real stress management in the absence of physical activity and nutrition.

When all three legs of the triangle are being tended to equally and the body comes into balance an interesting thing known as synergy occurs. With synergy we are able to become more than just the sum total of our parts. We are able to excel at an astounding rate. We are stronger, faster, smarter, happier and more capable than we ever imagined.

So why then do so many of us only attain synergy in small amounts, and for limited durations? Why do we work so hard to get up only to crash back down and start over again? Have you ever noticed that when life is going well, you start to attract more activity around you and then BAM! you get really sick and everything falls apart?

There is only one underlying reason for this and that is failing to understand the importance of balance. Can an F-16 jet break the sound barrier if the engine is ill-maintained and the gas tank is full of Diet Coke and Big Macs? Um, no.

I recently observed this cycle in myself and for the first time actually identified it for what it was. I call it “Too Busy Syndrome”. I was, as I always am, working hard to better myself, to make change, to inspire and help other people to do the same. I was going to bed on time, eating well, exercising (of course), I was mediating twice a day, taking my vitamins and even doing my sinus rinse every evening. All of these things are a practice, a regime that takes discipline to perform on a daily basis.

Things were going well, and because I was operating at a heightened energy level, I was attracting more activity into my life. But then I got busy and something happened. I began to prioritize the busyness. I would say to myself, I don’t have time to eat a proper meal or I don’t have time to meditate this morning after also not having time to sleep properly the night before.

And guess what happened? Yep, I got sick. I was flying too high and too fast with no foundation to sustain that level of activity. I did not neglect my workouts but I did neglect nutrition and stress management which caused the physical activity to become more stress than my compromised state of well-being could support.

While I was sick, I naturally became very motivated to resume all of my practices and, as I felt my state of well-being return, that was when the realization of the cycle and the importance of balance really hit me. Although I have lived through this cycle many times, I was so busy being inside of it that I never saw the big picture. I never saw how my own actions opened the door to illness. I never realized that no matter how busy I may be, progress only occurs in the presence of sustainability.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE Fitness) defines balance as: The ability to maintain the body’s position over it’s base of support within stability limits, both statically and dynamically.

Neglecting any one part of the Wellness Triangle erodes the base of support and creates a structure that is out of balance and cannot stand.

Practices first. Busyness second. These are the priorities of progress.