Games for Summer Fun with your Kids and Grandkids

June 1, 2015

Summer is on it's way a time when many of us have kids out for summer vacation. It's also a time when many grandchildren get to spend quality time with their grandparents. The sleeping in, lazy days and non structured time means we have to get creative to keep everyone happy. Here are a couple of great games to play that will help you and.. me keep our kids moving, having fun, enjoying summer vacation and each other..   Thank you Erin Gray (power systems) for sharing these creative games.

Fun with the Soccer Ball

What you need: One ball and a Sharpie


erin kid game stability ball

How to play:

  • Use the Sharpie to write various exercises and a number of repetitions on the ball. (Example: 10 jumping jacks, 8 squats, or 5 sit ups.)
  • Form a circle with all the players.
  • Take turns tossing the ball across the circle.
  • When a player catches the ball, the exercise the catcher’s right hand is touching is what the entire group performs.

Quick notes:  This is an activity the whole family can enjoy. No melt downs here, because everyone is a winner of exercises. Try a speed round by setting a timer and going as fast as you can.


What you need: Sidewalk chalk and a side walk or driveway

tic tac toe

How to play:

  • On your driveway draw a Tic-Tac-Toe board and a starting line.
  • Split up into two teams.
  • Declare the exercise to be performed from the starting line to the board and a different exercise for the way back. An example is high knees to the board and bunny hops back.
  • Declare an exercise for the players not going to perform like squats.
  • Shout out a 3-2-1-go to start the game.
  • One person from each team at a time will make their way to the board performing the exercises and return back to their waiting team.
  • While the team waits they perform their exercise.
  • When the first player returns they pass their chalk to the next player and do the waiting exercise with the rest of the team.
  • A winning team is declared when three X’s or three O’s are in a row.
  • Repeat the game as many times as you’d like and change up the exercises as you go.

Exercise Bingo

What you need: Create a Bingo card with various exercises; designate one person (The Checker) to check players’ cards and have a timer

Kid Fit Bingo Card 1

How to play:

  • Each player gets their own bingo card.
  • Set the clock for 5 minutes of any desired length of time.
  • Normal Bingo rules apply-four corners, a line or black out.
  • The game doesn’t stop when someone gets Bingo, it ends when the time is up. When each set of exercises is complete The Checker crosses out that space on the Bingo card.
  • When the time is up The Checker counts the total number of Bingos each player completed and the winner is the player with the most.

Quick notes:  Kids love to create these Bingo cards. Help them mix and match quicker exercises like 5 squats with some longer exercises like inchworm walks down the hallway. This will create a need for strategy for each player and is a great opportunity to keep that brain working this summer.

You may even want to create some games of your own. Sharing family time with loved ones keeps those bonds growing stronger and stronger. 

Probiotics vs Prebiotics

May 25, 2015

   Yesterday one of my clients asked me about probiotics. You see, she's having some digestive issues and we've already altered her diet in hopes of alleviating them. It's been somewhat successful but she still suffers from some of these problems. Like many of us she went to the internet and she researched the differences between probiotics or prebiotics.

Prebiotics? Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts sometimes called "the good" microorganisms. They benefit the body, specifically the digestive system. Probiotics exist naturally in your gut but can be found in foods and supplements. Our bodies don't naturally need extra probiotics but there are times that this little boost can help keep us healthy. A few ways they can help is by decreasing the amount of bad bacteria in your gut which cause infection or inflammation. When we take antibiotics we loose some of those good bacteria and probiotics help to replace those that we lose. Also once restored our bodies then can function better.

Prebiotics are basically the metabolic fuel for probiotics. It’s a term that encompasses a number of mostly carbohydrates that are present in vegetables and grains. They are only partially digested by the human intestinal tract, so they reach the colon where they are fermented by bacteria.
  When the microbial balance is off in the intestines, it can result in many digestive issues. These include diarrhea, inflammation or irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, tooth decay or stomach infections.

Where are probiotics found in our bodies?

   They are found naturally in our intestines. Saccharomyces boulardii (a yeast) helps protect our intestines from pathogens and other things that can damage the intestinal lining. It also controls different parts of your immune system and keeps the intestinal barrier up and running. Doctors have associated defects in the intestinal barrier function with different gastrointestinal diseases. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are two probiotic microorganisms commonly found in the gut that can metabolize lactose, a type of sugar found in milk. These  bacteria aid in the treatment of disorders such as lactose intolerance and antibiotic-associated diarrhea, according to

Yogurt and Soy

   Both lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are present in certain brands of yogurt. In the early 20th century Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian biologist who won a Nobel Prize for discoveries in immunity, observed a tendency towards health and longevity in Bulgarian people whose diet was high in yogurt. There is even a named a strain of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, after those avid Bulgarian yogurt consumers. Lactobacillus can also be added to soy for those who abstain from milk. Remember to read labels when looking for these organisms in foods.


   Living in our gut are trillions of bacteria that weigh as much as 4 pounds altogether. Scientists call this environment a microbiome, and it is turning out to be understood as the key to general health. Without the good bacteria in our gut we would die. In fact, studies show that fast food throws the balance of good and bad bacteria populations off so much it may have a direct correlation to heart disease, obesity, and cancer. When you hear it said that our bodies make vitamins it actually is the bacteria which do that, as well as a lot of digestion duties.

   Those bacteria live on certain substrates--the prebiotics--from our food which they ferment. One reason you might take prebiotics is to encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut by providing them the food they like. Prebiotics are classified as soluble fiber. When considering the benefits of dietary fiber you must include soluble fiber. It's the stuff that the digestive system cannot process nor digest and acts as a lubricant for bowel stimulation. By using supplements with the prebiotics such as inulin and oligofructose, the entire bowel wall is treated. 

   Eating a few servings of vegetables and fruit every day, supplemented with prebiotics, has been shown to increase the number of healthy bacteria in the colon. And raw foods contain prebiotics, too, like are chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leeks,onion (raw and cooked), asparagus, wheat bran, radishes, tumeric, carrots and beans among others. Your weight, mood, mental clarity, and overall health will improve significantly. Your heart will thank you, too. Higher intakes of dietary fiber are linked to less cardiovascular disease.

   The bottom line is that bacteria are critical to health. We want to maintain the right balance for the health of our intestines, our immune system and our life. 

May is National Bike Month

May 18, 2015

    Many of us in the U.S live within five miles of where we work making it very easy to bicycle to work. It's a healthy way to commute and it's good for the environment. From  2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent. Anyone can  ride a bike it doesn't matter what your age is. Regular cycling has many physical and mental health benefits. National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride. 

Riding is good for your body

    Cycling is one of the best kind of exercise for keeping fit. It elevates your heart rate, increases strength and stamina and helps with balance and flexibility. It's also a great way to burn calories. Achy joints or weak knees can restrict someone when it comes to physical exercise and cycling is a low impact way to get your body moving. It's one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems such as stroke, heart attack, some cancers, depression, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.

Riding is a good stress reliever

    Riding a bike is a proven stress releaser. When I ride I know I  feel rejuvenated and energized. People often say that when they see me cycling I've usually got a huge smile on my face. Could it make me happy too? Whether you are riding purely for pleasure or for a specific purpose you will feel better through out the day. Like hikers meeting on a country path, the natural human response is to greet and smile those you pass.

It's good for the environment

     You are able to go where you want to go and put one less car on the road. You won't be contributing to noise pollution either. There is no polluting exhaust released, no oil or gas consumed. And the energy and materials used to manufacture one automobile could be used to created a hundred bikes. 

    So get on your bike before the month is up and enjoy some of those benefits cycling brings.

You can't buy happiness but you can buy a bike and that's pretty close!

Nontraditional Mother's Day Gift Ideas

May 4, 2015

   It's time to think about what to give mom or... for Mother's Day. Flowers are always appreciated but giving her something different can be fun, too. Whether it’s your mom, wife, daughter, sister, grandma or BFF, celebrate the beauty of who she is by offering the gift of health, energy and vitality. If you choose  gifts that are shared experiences you both can reap the rewards and spend quality time together.  Studies show that working out together is more fun and will help each of you stick to the program – it’s harder to say I can't when you know someone is counting on you.

Event Entry

   What about entering in a race together? Register your special lady for an upcoming run,walk, bicycle ride or triathlon.  It will jump-start your fitness program and it’s something you can train for together! Try Trail Link, Active or Run Locator to name a few.

Sign up for a class together

   Try a Yoga program, Barre or a Pilates class, or learn ballroom dancing. Maybe she’d be interested in cross country skiing or learning to snowboard. What about a water sport such as  paddle boarding, kayaking or whitewater rafting? Maybe even plan a trip together. Why not surprise her by picking up the cost of registration? And while your at it enroll both of you.

Exercise Gear

   We all like getting something new to workout in. What about getting her a quality piece of clothing. Most of us  would rather have one really good piece of gear than a number of poor quality items.  Shop online at a specialty sporting goods store like REI, Nike, Adidas, Terry, LuluLemon, Lucy, and Athletica they will provide you with high quality options for women. Remember that keeping warm, cool and dry is important when your thinking about comfort. Here are a few suggestions: running vests, wickable shirts, bra-tops, shorts, tights, specialty socks, exercise glasses, water bottles, sports watches or heart rate monitors.  If money’s no object, buy a large gym bag and stock it full of the above items.

Personal Training

   Anyone would benefit from and appreciate a little expert guidance towards their fitness ambitions.  It’s a terrific way to help a loved one with their health and fitness goals. Call me at 805-909-0240 if you would like me to prepare a Mother’s Day Gift Package for your special person.

Gym Membership

   Has your special lady considered joining a local gym?  Why not purchase or renew a monthly, quarterly or yearly membership to her favorite one.


   The best thing in the world after a tough workout is a massage. You can pick up a gift certificate at most local spas and salons, and we have several great private massage therapists in our small community. If you’re feeling generous, consider purchasing a day-at-the-spa package for her that often includes massage, body wrap, facial, manicure, pedicure and steam bath. Trust me – she will LOVE it! Most women work very hard when trying to juggle kids, work and life so a whole day where she gets pampered is truly a selfish luxury.

   Think it through. You know your lady so give her something that says you really do appreciate the things she does all year long.

To the world you may be one person but to one person you are the world. 

                                                                                                    Bill Wilson

Walking the Big Sur Coastline

April 27, 2015

   It was time again for the Big Sur Marathon. Due to a sprained toe 8 weeks ago I decided not to do the 21 mile power walk this year. I hope by sharing my past experiences with you I can inspire you to walk a little more. The first time I took up this lofty challenge was in 2003. I was looking for a new goal to achieve and a friend had shared the amazing views as she walked this road the year before. Once hooked I participated in this event for the next 10 years including running the marathon twice.

   Why... you ask? Well, if you know me I love to work toward a pre-set goal. Yes, I'm goal oriented and along the way I've recruited friends and acquaintances to join me. Thank you Carlotta, Marcia, Cathy, Diane and Karen!

   The training walks tell us a lot about how we deal with challenges--every week adding miles, which strengthens our hearts, legs and psyche. They truly reveal our strengths and weaknesses, helping us to understand more about ourselves. The time spent pounding the pavement and on the trails gives me a chance to think about my life, my choices and what I am struggling with and grateful for as well as enjoy the beautiful scenery.

   When do I train with my busy schedule? After work, before work or at lunch, just getting out with the pedometer tracking my miles. Each small accomplishment adds up to that final goal.

    Studies show daily exercise contributes to a healthier and longer life. Walking is a simple way to achieve this. Minimal equipment is required and unless you live somewhere that has tons of snow on the ground year round you really can walk anywhere anytime.

   As I've walked the Big Sur coastline I am in awe of the beauty of my surroundings. The sun rises over our beautiful Pacific Ocean as the race begins. At about mile 8 I realize how beneficial my training was and at the top of cardiac hill I am greeted by the grand piano man celebrating this first victory dance. By mile 13 my body begins to feel the aches and pains of my age--quitting is not an option though. This is when that mental strength kicks in. I hydrate more, eat a little something for energy, take some deep breaths and forge on. By mile 16 I realize I'm almost there and the hula dancers and drummers along the route encourage me on.

   The last 2 miles are a long, gradual downhill and I actually get a small burst of energy pushing me through finish line. The endorphin rush and feeling of accomplishment along with the fatigue from being on my feet for 4 1/2 hours and getting up at 5:30 AM don't drag me down. This is what I've worked so hard for. Not just another medal but yet another way I've worked hard to maintain my chosen lifestyle of being able to do whatever i want to because physically I can.

   How do you get started? Put on comfortable walking clothes, a good pair of cushioned socks, supportive shoes and an extra layer. Set a time limit, say 15 minutes (30 minutes is the recommended daily amount 6 days a week ), and walk out that door with great intent. You'll be amazed how good you feel breathing the fresh air and working off the frustrations of your day. Get together with some friends. Designate a meeting place and time and plan a weekly walk together. Time will fly as you solve the world's problems and each other's. The camaraderie that builds is an added bonus.

   Maybe set a goal to walk 2 miles in 30 minutes. The faster pace will strengthen your heart and burn calories. Writing down details about how long and how far you went on each workout and how you felt while you were on the road will help you draw confidence seeing how far you've gone. The next day's workout won't seem as intimidating when you see how much you've already accomplished. Remember to get clearance from your physician first especially if you have any health issues.
   Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm up before you start and end your walk with a slower cool down pace and good stretch. It will help with injury prevention. 

   Happy Walking and I hope to see you out there!

Avoiding Age Related Muscle Loss

April 14, 2015

   Have you ever wondered why older family relatives seem to get weaker and more fragile as they get older? I have.

   It may appear they're still in good health and have no illnesses. So what really is going on in their bodies? What I now know is that it could be a condition known as Sarcopenia.

   Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass, strength, and function which are all related to the aging process. We lose ½ to 1 percent of our lean muscle mass each year, starting as early as our thirties (eek!) and accelerating after age 75. Muscle strength also declines by 12 to 15 percent per decade. It's usually seen in inactive people but can affect those who remain physically active. Like osteoporosis, sarcopenia is a multifactorial disease process that can result from low hormone levels, inadequate protein, nutritional imbalances, lack of exercise, stress, and inflammation.     The condition can reduce our ability to break a fall and is related to osteoporosis. Muscles generate the mechanical stress required to keep our bones healthy. When our muscles don't remain active bone loss can begin the process of declining health, loss of function and disease.


   Dietary deficiencies can have something to do with Sarcopenia. Inadequate protein intake, insufficient calorie intake, and chronic abnormally increased acidity in the body’s fluids are three reasons. Many older adults don't eat enough protein. Plus, the older adult system has trouble digesting and absorbing protein which adds to the problem of inadequate protein intake.


    With aging we have declining levels of many essential hormones, particularly tissue-building anabolic hormones such as growth hormone, DHEA, and testosterone. Testosterone is essential to maintaining lean body mass. Low testosterone levels affects functional performance, sexual function, and our mood. Testosterone is essential to both men and women's health and well-being.

SMM= Senior Muscle Maintainer

 Exercise of Course!

    The above heading is one of the answers to the question: How can we prevent Sarcopenia? Resistance training or strength training will work. Resistance training effects the neuromuscular system, protein synthesis, and hormones, which, when not operating normally, work together to cause sarcopenia.
  Adding more protein to the diet with every meal is another way. One amino acid, called leucine, is really good at turning on the body’s muscle building machinery. Once that muscle building switch is flipped we're better able to take in the amino acid. Dairy products such as milk and Greek yogurt are excellent sources of leucine. Lean meat, fish and soy, such as edamame and tofu are also rich in this amino acid.

   Diets rich in acid producing foods (meat and cereal grains) and low in non-acid producing foods (fruits and vegetables) are important in balancing out the nutritional benefits for combating Sarcopenia.

   Omega-3s improve the way your muscles use protein, as well. Foods like salmon, walnuts, flaxseed and omega-3-enriched eggs are nutritional powerhouses.

   But not every person needs to worry about sarcopenia. Many obese folks have muscle in addition to excess body fat, which may protect them. Still, obesity carries its own health risks. It's better to be leaner and build up muscle through exercise. A balanced exercise program at any age or fitness level is the best place to start to help protect against sarcopenia as well as osteoporosis. You will also reap many more health benefits, too!

Too Busy to Exercise?

April 6, 2015

Have you found recently that your workouts have gone by the wayside? Life is getting busier and the long days just give you more time to do more stuff? Computers and modern conveniences do make it easier for us to complete our daily tasks.  Many people say they are busier than ever and are having a difficult time managing work, family, social life, fitness and more. In fact, lack of time is the number one reason some people won’t start or will stop an exercise program. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in a day to get everything done!   

We all can commit to health and fitness which ultimately means a better quality of life for ourselves and our families. If you don't make the time now for fitness and a healthy lifestyle down the road you will deal with illnesses and many side effects of your medications. Here are just a few helpful ways  you can continue with  your healthy exercise commitments.

Move Your Body:

Move more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further away from your destination. Do more of your errands on foot. Walk 30 minutes during the day even if it means 15 minute at a time. The recommended amount of cardio is 30 minutes 6 days a week.

Don't Make Excuses:

We all can admit to making excuses for not doing something. Plan exercise in your day as if it is one of those errands for the day. Use the time to let your mind wander or plan the rest of your day.

Make it Short and Sweet:

If you have limited time than ramp up the intensity of your workout.  Instead of 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions time the work out so that every exercise is 2-3 minutes long. Repeat 3 or 4 exercises 3 or 4 times. Work hard and you can accomplish the same workload in a shorter period of time. 

Use Your Whole Body: 

Combine more than one muscle group at a time. Such as a bicep curl with a forward lunge. Or a front dumbbell raise with a squat. Plank with a single arm row or single legged dead lift with weights . Any combination will help you condition  all the muscles involved.

 Make your Rest Periods Shorter:

Shorten your rest period so that every minute is used effectively. That will make your workout even more beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Think Ahead:

Knowing what your going to do before you get to the gym will help with the effectiveness and efficiency of your workout. Having a Personal Trainer helps with this. All you have to do is show up. He/she has the rest covered.

Hill Workouts for Anybody

March 30, 2015

A fellow trainer  Sherri McMillan, and blog writer recently wrote this great guideline to maximize your hill workouts or for anyone just starting out. I couldn't have written it any better so I decided to share this with my readers as well.
Walking is a fabulous, low-impact way to stay healthy and fit. But in order to get the same benefit as running, you generally need to go longer.  But most people are busy so if you are crunched for time but still want to give yourself a fabulous walking workout, hills are the answer.

dEYbIkqKIL2bkegsT5PMMiczCU9xE fAFUokPDKJjvo Hill Workouts For Max Benefit

Hills will increase the intensity of your workout, burn more calories (3-5 more calories per minute), strengthen your legs (especially your quads, butt and calves), lungs and heart and provide some variety to a traditional walking routine.  Hill workouts can be really taxing and consequently should only be done once or twice per week.

There’s a variety of ways that you can include hills to your sessions:

Hilly Route:

Choose your typical walking distance and consider how and where you might incorporate a few rolling hills en route. 

Sample Workout:

Map out a 3-4 mile course that includes 4 hills of various length and grade.  Start with 5 minutes of walking at a warm-up pace.  Then increase your pace until you are walking at an intensity of a 7/10 – you should feel that the pace is challenging but manageable.  Your breathing will be moderately heavy but you won’t feel completely out of breath.  As you approach the first hill, start to shorten your stride, increase your turnover and pump your arms move.  During the hill segment, your breathing will get heavier and it will be harder to catch your breath.  During the hill segment, your intensity should approach 8 to 8.5 out of 10.  It will feel like the pace is out of your comfort zone and that you won’t be able to hold this intensity for very long.  Push the pace until you reach the top of the hill and then cruise easily down the other side at about a 5/10.  On the flats, return to your 7/10 pace.  Continue with this level of intensity on the flats and hills until your walk is finished.  Remember to cool-down with a 5 minute walk at an easy pace.

Short Hills:

Find a short hill of 100 to 200 meters in length with about a 3-10% grade that you will walk multiple times (these hills tend to be a bit steeper and harder that’s why your effort is shorter).  Walk hard uphill and walk at any easy pace downhill and repeat 4-10x.

Sample Workout:

Find a short hill of about 100 meters in length (it should take you less than a minute to reach the top).  Start with 5 minutes of walking at a warm-up pace on a flat.  For your workout, attack the hill by shortening your stride, increasing your turnover and pumping your arms.  Your breathing should be heavy and it will be hard to catch your breath.  Your intensity should approach 8 to 8.5 out of 10.  It will feel like the pace is out of your comfort zone and that you won’t be able to hold this intensity for very long.  Push the pace until you reach the top of the hill.  Turn around and walk easily down the other side at about an intensity of 5/10.  Repeat this 8x.  Remember to cool-down with a 5 minute walk at an easy pace.  This workout from start to finish including warmup and cooldown should take you about 25 minutes.

Medium Hills:

Find a bit longer hill of about 400 meters in length with a gentler grade (3-6%) and complete 4-10 repeats.

Sample Workout:

Find a medium hill of about 400 meters in length (it should take you 2-3 minutes to reach the top).  Start with 5 minutes of walking at a warm-up pace on a flat.  For your workout, attack the hill by shortening your stride, increasing your turnover and pumping your arms.  Your breathing should be heavy and it will be hard to catch your breath.  Your intensity should approach 8 to 8.5 out of 10.  It will feel like the pace is out of your comfort zone and that you won’t be able to hold this intensity for very long.  Push the pace until you reach the top of the hill.  Turn around and walk easily down the other side at about an intensity of 5/10.  Repeat this 4x.  Remember to cool-down with a 5 minute walk at an easy pace.  This workout from start to finish including warmup and cooldown should take you about 30 minutes.

Long Hills:

Find a long hill about 500meter to one mile in length with a gentler grade (2-5%) and complete 2-5 repeats.


  • Before any hill workout, always start with 5-10 minutes of flat walking to adequately warm-up.
  • When walking uphill, shorten your stride and pump your arms more to help you attack the hill
  • You can also complete a hill workout indoors using a treadmill. Try increasing the incline to 4-8% grade for 1-2 minutes at a speed that challenges you followed by 1-2 minutes flat walking.  Repeat this 5-10x. Try it without holding onto the handles.
  • Try Nordic walking poles to increase your caloric expenditure and condition your upper body simultaneously.
  • If you’ve never done hill walking before, progress gradually. It can be quite challenging on your body when you’re not used to it.
  • Always remember to finish any hill workout with walking on a flat for 5-10 minutes to flush the legs and cool-down. Don’t forget your stretch – focus on the calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes and lowback.
  • Listen to your body: Since fitness levels and walking abilities vary greatly, it’s difficult to give an exact workout prescription (ie Walk at a speed of 3.8mph at 8% incline for 15 minutes).  So choose a grade and pace that challenges you without causing exhaustion or muscle/joint strain.

For reference, 0% grade is exactly flat.  A 2% grade does not seem very steep but it’s enough to make you feel a bit slow and fatigued.  Most highway off-ramps are 4-percent grade.  A 6% grade is enough to dramatically reduce your speed.  A 10% grade would be really steep; steeper than most of the usual hills any of us who live outside of mountainous areas would run into.

14 Heart Healthy Foods

March 23, 2015

   Last year we had a potted chili pepper plant that gave us dozens of spicy pasilla peppers. So, I wanted to grow some spinach and kale this year. I took the plunge and planted a vegetable garden again! It reminded me of how it's possible to be heart healthy not just in what you put on your plate but how it gets there. Gardening is a good workout.

   Here's a I chart I made last year of 14 heart healthy foods, a few you can grow in your yard or in pots on your doorstep.