My Focus on Fitness | Camo Strip (top)
My Focus on Fitness | Camo Strip (bottom)

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.

Hormones Weighing You Down?

There are so many differences in training men and women and especially as my female clients approach perimenopause and menopause.  Suddenly it becomes harder to lose weight and most women find they gain between 10 and 20 pounds despite their efforts to diet and continue their cardio and weight training regimens.  This can be extremely frustrating to combat but is certainly not something you should accept.

Read more

Night Time Snacks Weighing You Down?

When was the last time you got home late from work, exhausted and hungry, and fixed yourself a quick bowl of cereal or t.v. dinner before hitting the sheets?  This is a common mistake I face everyday with my clients who are trying to eat clean and lose fat and inches.  It might not sound too bad even if your cereal bowl contains whole grains and non-fat milk but the truth is these late night quick meals are high in sugar, sodium, and carbohydrates which will sabotage and diet plan you are committed to.

Read more

Think Twice About Skipping Meals

Next time you think about skipping a meal because summer is around the corner and you want to look good in your bikini lounging by the pool, think again.  The truth is skipping meals is an unhealthy habit that promotes weight gain by slowing down your metabolism and putting your body in a state of hunger.

Read more

Swimming: Great Exercise For Anyone

It is almost a necessity for every Phoenician, a backyard swimming pool.   Swimming cools you down during our long hot summer and can provide great exercise for you no matter your age, weight, or physical limitations.

According to exercise physiologist Robert A. Robergs and director of the exercise physiology laboratories at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, swimming is “a good whole-body exercise that is low impact for people with arthiritis, musculoskeletal, or weight limitations.”  This can be attributed to water’s buoyancy because it cushions the injuries you have to work around when working out on land.  When immersed in water to the waistline your body only bears 50% of your weight.  The deeper you immerse your body the more weightless you’ll become.  Because of this benefit, I recommend swimming to not only my heavier client’s and client’s with injuries but to my pregnant clients.

Read more

Refreshing Ways to Enjoy Your Water and Reap the Health Benefits

We hear it all the time and especially during our hot Arizona summers.  You need to drink more water.  And the truth is that you do need more than the suggested eight glasses of water a day in order for your body to function properly.  Water flushes toxins from your body, carries nutrients to your cells, assists in healthy waste elimination, and helps maintain your energy levels.  Water makes up over 60% of your body weight and is an important ingredient in any weight loss plan.  We simply cannot live without it!

Read more

Food for Thought – You are what You Eat

Like most people, my mom would always remind me to eat my vegetables, especially my carrots because they were good for my eyes. Recently, I was reminded of these nightly conversations around my childhood dinner table when I received a chain email letter that I found so interesting I knew I had to share it with all of you after doing a bit of my own research. I was amazed by what I found and credit God for leaving us these great clues in our fruits and vegetables and how they were “made” for our bodies.

Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »