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Your Diet Survival Guide for Summer

A 2005 study published in the journal Eating Behaviors found that 2 in 3 subjects on a weight control program gained weight during the summer months.  It makes perfect sense.  You are traveling, your kids are out of school, and you might even have visitors staying with you, all great reasons to abandon your diet and exercise rituals.  It is so important to remember that even though you might be on the road or out of your regular routines making healthy choices will keep you in better shape and better spirits.

To maintain your diet I recommend doing the following 6 things;

Keep healthy snacks with you like protein bars and fruit.  Also, make healthy choices when you are eating out.  For example, if you must eat a burger for dinner, skip the fries and dessert and add steamed vegetables to your plate.

Plan out your meals and take advantage of your hotel kitchen or grill.  You’ll save calories and your money!

Don’t skip meals planning to gorge yourself at dinner.  The worst thing you can do is overeat at dinner time or fill up on late night snacks.

Research healthy food options at the restaurants you plan on visiting so you know can make healthy choices.  It is important to indulge on vacation too so you don’t feel deprived so plan on enjoying a few splurges too.

It is easy to enjoy vacation with alcohol.  Limit this too.  These are empty calories that add up quickly and often lead to unhealthy eating too.

Lastly, keep your body moving.  Don’t forget to pack your gym clothes, tennis shoes, jump rope, and resistance bands.  Even if you mix in a few minutes before breakfast or take a long walk with your family after dinner, try and move your body daily.  For more information you may contact Brenda Bark at Focus on Fitness at 480-699-3162 or visit my website at www.myfocusonfitness.com.

Drink to your Health !

Part of my new eating routine involves juicing because of all of the nutritional advantages it offers and because of the weight loss benefits.  I recently picked up the book, “The Complete Book of Juicing”, by Michael T. Murray, N.D. and I would highly recommend it as a guidebook to getting started making your own juices.  As detailed by Murray, fresh juice offers concentrated nutrition that our bodies easily absorb, offers a rich supply of protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.  Juicing influences weight loss in three main ways;


First, juicing can be considered a raw-food diet that is more satisfying to our appetites because it contains all of the water soluble vitamins that we cook out of the foods we eat.  By keeping the vitamins and minerals in the foods we consume through a raw-food diet we are giving our body exactly the nutrients it needs to keep running. Thus, it boosts your metabolism.


Second, through research doctors have found that raw foods lower blood pressure partly from the fiber and potassium in the juice.


Third, a diet which 60% of the calories ingested come from raw foods reduces stress on the body.  This is due to the enzymes in raw foods.


Juicing helps the body’s digestive process by allowing the body to quickly absorb high-quality nutritious foods.  This helps boost your energy levels and speed up your metabolism resulting in weight loss.  I know a lot of diets can leave you feeling fatigued and tired and less motivated to get in the gym.  It sounds pretty unproductive to me.  I highly recommend speaking to your doctor about juicing if you have any more questions about it.  Please contact me for a diet evaluation today. Contact Brenda Bark at 480-699-3162 or check out website at www.myfocusonfitness.com

New Work Out Clothes Could Keep You Off The Couch

Do you know that feeling you get when you buy a new dress, new shoes, or something stylish that you have been eyeing and you can’t wait to get home and put it on or wear it to work the next day?  Maybe it is a new swim suit that you want to look good in this summer?  You can use this tactic in a similar way when it comes to motivating yourself to get to the gym and in doing so you’ll probably look even better in that new swim suit you just bought.


This is no new concept, in fact most people find retail therapy not only lifts their moods but also builds confidence in their image.  I would suggest taking time to assess what you currently have in your workout clothes drawer and clean it out.  Taking extra thought into weeding out what pieces no longer fit, are too worn, and those that might not smell clean even though they are.  Since you sweat more in your workout clothes they tend to wear much quicker then regular everyday clothes. Also, it is extremely important to discard items that are too big for you because you will look bigger in the mirror in them and they won’t flatter you or the hard work you have already put in to your workouts.  I also recommend assessing your shoes.  Proper shoes are essential to overall body, back, and foot health, and are crucial to any workout you do.


Now comes the fun part! I suggest starting at discount stores to find new gear.  They usually have the best prices on all the current styles and always have great fun colors to choose from.  It is important to find the right sizes that flatter your figure so I would make sure to take your time trying each piece on, especially sports bras.  I do however recommend buying the right shoes for your feet and running stores are a great place to have your feet and stride assessed to find the right pair for you. Fashionable is important but good support is also key.


Buying yourself new workout clothes will pay off.  Not only will you feel good in them but your figure will be flattered by clothes that fit and hopefully it will motivate you to stay focused on your fitness goals.  I think you should consider it a sound investment.

For more information about how I can help you meet your fitness goals please contact me today at 480-238-6630.

Exercising Through the Pain

I have been training a client for many years who suffers everyday with pain from arthritis.  It has taken time for her to get to know her body, understand her limits, and manage her pain while trying to remain healthy and active.  Through our research and together with her rheumatologist, we have found ways for her to work through the exercise pain without agitating her arthritis.

Lay off painful joints. We start each workout with a short evaluation of her pain.  For example, if her knees are giving her problems then we skip lower body workouts and focus on other areas that day.  It is important to rest painful areas so that you don’t further damage those painful joints.  I also recommend swimming as an alternative to cardio machines to help ease the stress on painful joints.

Even moderate pain means STOP. Any pain while you exercise could mean you are causing damage to arthritic joints or inflammation.  I cannot stress enough that you stop your workout if you experience pain.  This is a sign to see your doctor.

Joint pain vs. muscle pain.  There is a big difference between joint pain and muscle soreness.  During my daily body pain evaluation with my clients, I take the time to discuss soreness.  I find it is important to take note of certain areas that consistently feel sore and modify workouts and the length of your workout accordingly.  Again, swimming, water aerobics, and cycling seem to be great alternatives to those suffering from joint pain.

Arthritis is a pain to live with but it doesn’t have to keep you from doing the physical activities you love.  If you listen to your body and modify your workouts according to your pain, and work with your doctor to manage your symptoms, then you can stay active.

For a free consultation please contact Brenda Bark at Focus on Fitness at 480-238-6630.

Injuries and Exercise

Injuries are common over time from to much overuse of the feet and joints.  Any rhythmic exercise that repeats the same movement over an extended time period can set you up for overuse or repetitive motion injury. According to New York Presbyterian Hospital, repetitive motion injury is defined as “temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons caused by performing the same motion over and over again.” On the elliptical trainer or treadmill, foot overuse injury is most often related to poor exercise technique and inadequate footwear.

Common Low-Impact Foot Injuries

While lower in impact than running, walking on the treadmill can still stress the joints, muscles and connective tissue. The elliptical eliminates some impact stress, but poor technique can still over-stress the feet. The most common types of treadmill and elliptical foot injuries are metatarsal strain or fracture, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon strain, shin splints and toe or forefoot pain or numbness. The danger of injury is compounded for neophytes just beginning an exercise program because the muscles that stabilize your joints are not developed.

Proper Technique

Good joint alignment helps distribute body weight correctly to minimize injury. To achieve perfect elliptical alignment, place your toes at the front of the pedal, arms hanging at your sides. Find your balance and do a few revolutions without using arm support. Allow the heel to lift naturally as the foot passes beneath the knee. At the top of the cycle, push down through your heel, not your forefoot. When using arm support, maintain your balance and do not lean forward. On the treadmill, begin at a low speed, standing erect with arms at your sides. Allow your foot to roll in a heel-ball-toe sequence, not walking flat-footed or striking your forefoot first. Use rails and grips for balance, but do not lean forward or support your weight with your arms.


Shoes are your primary protective gear for fitness activities, and worn or cheaply made shoes can cause injury. A good athletic shoe provides stability and shock absorption, holding your foot and ankles in correct alignment while absorbing impact. Even if your gym shoes look presentable, they may have lost their original protective properties. Correct fit is critical. Purchase athletic shoes one-half size larger than street shoes. They should feel supportive but not pinch or rub. Shoes with a removable insole tend to be better made. If the insole is glued in, it is probably a cheaply made shoe.  There are athletic stores located in the East Valley that will actually put you on a treadmill and videotape your footage while having you run, and will recommend a good shoe for you.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or you may contact me at 480-699-3162 or visit my website at www.myfocusonfitness.com

Keeping the Weight Off

By some estimates, more than 80 percent of people who have lost weight regain all of it, or more, after two years. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found that about two-thirds of dieters regained more weight within four or five years than they initially lost.

Along with the emotional toll is a physical one: Not only is the extra weight a health risk, but recent studies have linked the gain-lose-gain cycle to such potentially life-threatening conditions as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and cancer.

My personal experience in the training industry and working with clients for weight loss, is teaching people a workout regimen for building and maintaining muscle.  But one of the most important factors when training persons to lose the weight is the nutritional program that you put them on. First, of all no dieting.  You are cutting the calories initially, so that you burn more than you take in on a daily basis, but you cannot starve the body.  The average person should be allowed to eat 5-6 small meals daily, of a healthy protein and a carbohydrate.   You should never starve the body.  When a person is conditioned and has learned to eat healthy it is a lot easier  to maintain their weight because they have formed a habit.  Evidence shows, that this reaction is partially learned, and that through conditioning, you can rewire your brain.

Emotional triggers play a huge role too.  A study at Brown University, US found that dieters who ate in response to emotions like stress, as opposed to external events like overdoing it at the salad bar, were more likely to regain the weight..  Once again they never learned the skills needed for long-term behavior change.  They were not taught to motivate themselves every day to eat healthy and recognize a mistake as a onetime thing.  The bottom line is once you have lost the weight and you realize what it took to lose it, and it was contributed to healthy eating and exercise,  you are more likely to have the willpower you need to keep the weight off.  For more information on the subject you may contact Brenda Bark at Brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or call 480-699-3162 or check out my website at www.myfocusonfitness.com

Benefits of Stretching in Cold weather

It’s getting colder outside, but many people still want to get in a daily run, ride or walk. Outdoors exercise can be done safely in lower temperatures, says Dr. David Buchalter an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at OrthoMaryland. But some precautions are necessary. It’s important to stretch, drink fluids and cover your head in the cold
It is important to stretch and warm up in all types of weather. However, our bodies tend to stiffen more easily in cold weather. So frequent stretching is very important in the cold to help lessen the chance of injury, particularly muscle strains and tears.
Some people confuse stretching with warming up. Warming up is an essential preparation for exercise, but there are mixed reviews about stretching, and the weather has nothing to do with whether stretching is necessary. Cold muscles, regardless of the temperature outside, are more prone to injury when they are not adequately prepared for movement. But the best way to warm muscles isn’t with stretching, it is with light aerobic activity. Once your warmed up and physical activity are underway, stretching periodically during and after exercise is appropriate especially in cold weather, to keep muscles warm.
Cold weather affects the body’s systems in different ways. The cardiovascular system responds to cold by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure and reduces the amount of blood closest to the skin’s surface. The airway passages of the cardiorespiratory system tend to narrow, making inhalation more difficult, so persons susceptible to asthma or exercise-induced bronchitis may have more difficulty breathing in cold air. The bodily stores of glucose (a sugar) are depleted five times more quickly in cold weather, leading the body to use fat more readily to supply energy for itself. While the consequences of exercising in cold weather can be severe, there are several straightforward and effective ways to prepare. Wearing layered clothing is one of the first steps the cold-weather athlete should take. Wearing a hat or hood is another important precaution, as more than 50 percent of the body’s heat is lost thought the head.
For more information on this subject you may contact Brenda Bark with Focus on Fitness at Brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or website myfocusonfitness.com. Hava a safe Holiday season, and stay fit!

Self Sabotage over the Holidays

With the Holiday season just around the corner, the time to prepare yourself is now. Make 2013 a year of celebration, instead of looking at the past year as a year of guilt and regret, make it your personal goal to feel the opposite, and you will need to do this through this holiday season with intentional decision making in your eating habits and your exercise regimen

The holidays are a time for spending with friends and family and attending parties. These events while fun almost always result in eating too much food and drinking alcohol. But don’t resign yourself to a baggy wardrobe all winter long and wait until January 1 to worry about the extra 10-15 pounds you put on over the holidays.

If you are heading to a party, nine times out of ten you are going to be surrounded by a lot of food. And the food that will be served and available to you will not be healthy or low in calories…

Appetizers are the worst for sabotaging your diet at parties because they’re usually high in calories, drizzled in some kind of sauce, and so small that you can mindlessly pack away a half dozen before you’ve even said hello to the hosts.

Stay away from the starchy stuff and load up your plate with veggies—they’ll help keep your calories down and keep you full. “Many of these parties are held late at night, and you don’t want to load up on carbohydrates then, anyway.

Choose foods that are higher in protein.  I suggest noshing on lettuce wraps, turkey slices, or other meat appetizers because they’ll keep you full and take longer to digest than muffins and breads.

I would recommend if you are going to indulge in alcohol, don’t indulge in food, or if you’re going to indulge in food, don’t indulge in alcohol. Choose one or the other.

The whole point of a party is to catch up with people, so spend more time chatting and less time eating.  Maybe even grab a bite to eat before you head to the party, that way you spend the majority of the time socializing instead of eating.

Enjoy your holiday season by not feeling consumed with dieting or depriving yourself, and instead focus on making healthy decisions, which will affect how you feel about yourself in the future. So start now, and be intentional.  Have a safe and happy holiday season.

For additional Information please contact Brenda Bark at Focus on Fitness at 480-699-3162 you may also go to www.myfocusonfitness.com

Don’t get tricked into weight gain

It has been said that most people put most of the emphasis of gaining weight on  Thanksgiving and Christmas along with New Year’s, but the weight gain actually begins a few days before and the day of Halloween.  Just as all the little ghouls and goblins come out, so does the sweets.

We can all be a little devilish and be tempted to over indulge in the chocolate and our favorite candies along with the kids. However, we do not need to be lead into poor food choices and then into the holiday lifestyle that is going to follow. The holidays should not be an excuse to eat bad.  You need to remember Halloween is just one day, and the eating behavior should last one day as well.  Here are a few tricks to help you overcome this challenge:

  1.  Don’t buy mixed bags of candy, this can tempt you to try it all.  Stick to one type of candy, and make sure it is one you do not particularly care for.
  2. Put a lid on it.  Put it in a Tupperware container, and put away in a cabinet, where you don’t see it, out of sight out of mind.
  3.   Shop last minute, try not to buy candy too far in advance for the big day.
  4.   While giving out candy, try having some healthy treats prepared in advance for yourself, for instance there are plenty of good skinny girl recipes for cookies, brownies, ect.
  5. Donate leftover candy.  There are plenty of organizations out there that you would be able to donate leftover candy to or even your local church.


Try eating a little healthier and exercising a little more if you do not already do so, before the holiday, and the morning after make sure you have a good nutritious breakfast, and get back onto your exercise regimen, and burn any excess calories you consumed the night before.  Have a fun and safe Halloween.


For any questions or comments you may email me at Brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or other related articles or columns go to blog at at www.myfocusonfitness.com

How a Heart Rate Monitor will benefit you in the long run..

If you are wanting to lose weight, get faster or just improve your over all conditioning, then the heart rate monitor is a tool you should invest in.  I have been suggesting to all of my clients that are training to lose weight, a good wristband model that is easy to read and maneuver.  Basically, we are targeting the heart rate and also getting an estimated number of calories burned during the time period of the workout.

To find your target heart rate you should take 220 and minus your age.  No matter what pace you jog at you will burn calories.  By jogging, you are increasing your heart rate, even if it is at a slower pace.  As your heart rate increases and your muscles work harder, you require more energy.  This energy is found in calories. Once available calories are depleted, your body begins to burn calories from fat. A consistent jogging routine or intensity will help you lose fat.  However, at a higher intensity, 70-90% of your maximum heart rate allows you to burn a greater number of calories which is what matters when you are losing weight.   I have had great feedback from the clients whom use their heart rate monitors.  It allows you to challenge yourself, and get out of that comfort zone.  Let’s face it cardio can be mundane and boring if you are going to the gym and consistently jumping on that old faithful treadmill. With a heart rate monitor it makes it a little more challenging, to stay in the necessary zones for calorie and fat burning.  It helps keep the motivation and drive needed to give you that extra push. Heart rate monitors are very affordable and you can find them at most department stores, sporting goods stores  or online.

Brenda Bark’s Focus on Fitness


For more information you may email me at Brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or phone

480-699-3162 or text at 480-238-6630.

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