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With all the hustle and bustle during the holidays, it is easy to throw our personal well being on the back burner. At the end of every year, too many people say, "I'll start for the new year." The best time to start is now and the best time to stop is never. How can we make this happen though, when our schedules become so overwhelming? Remember that where there is a will, there is a way and if you want something badly enough you will find a way to make it happen.
Make a schedule. So many of us rely on our calendars or schedulers to get by day to day, so it stands to reason that a good place to start is by looking over your schedule and deciding when you can fit in time for just yourself. What is your most efficient way to exercise? Is it going to the gym, for a walk, or running with friends? Whatever your means is to stay active, schedule anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour as many days per week as you can possibly fit. If your schedule remains basically the same you can save it on repeat, but if your schedule changes, you may have to set aside extra time each week to sit down and decide when exercise will work best for you. Block that time out on your calendar and do not allow anything outside of an emergency get in the way. Putting your foot down for yourself might be the hardest obstacle in this case, but stick to your guns and you will thank yourself when you are done every single time.
Create family fitness time. During the holidays maybe family is coming to visit or maybe the demand for your attention from them rises significantly. Fitness can be fun, too! Especially, with family. On particularly, warm December days in San Antonio, take the family to the park to play sports or go hiking. You can also get creative with the chores, making a game out of it so that work around the house can get done, laughter can be heard and heart rates can go up. One thing that may brighten spirits is playing music that everyone can dance to as they clean house, cook or decorate for the holiday.
Prep cook as often as possible so as not to be tempted by all the holiday treats. Prep cooking is easier said than done because it is time consuming. However, by sacrificing a few hours to prepare a few "grab and go" meals, in the long run you save yourself from getting caught in some holiday trouble. You are less likely to pass up the pies and cakes that are brought to the workplace if you are starving. Having meals prepared ahead of time is a fantastic habit to incorporate into your regular life but asking to start doing it during the holidays is a bit of a stretch. Instead, at least for now, start off simple... use a rice cooker or crock pot to prepare a large quantity of rice, veggies and meat. Separate into containers and refrigerate. You'll find very quickly that having something healthy that you can just pop in the microwave really fast can be a life saver. 
Remind yourself why it is important to stay healthy. One of the reasons our personal care gets less attention is that our family tends to take precedence therefore many of us forget about ourselves. Just remind yourself that taking care of yourself is not only for yourself, but also for your family. During times of added stress you want your energy levels to be at their highest, so things can get accomplished at peak performance. If you allow yourself to skip working out and neglect your eating habits, you will find yourself feeling sluggish and tired which only adds to the amount of stress.
These are only a few suggestions; every person and every family has a unique situation. The point is really to get you to understand that it is possible as long as you are willing to try. Whatever works for you, do your best!!
Raiye R. 




Many people, when they think of massage therapy, think of it as a luxury or spa treatment. It is a way of pampering yourself. While this is true, massage therapy also plays a major role in our fitness and health goals. There are many benefits to massage therapy that we may sometimes overlook.

Faster recovery. Whether it is the first time you have ever stepped into a gym or you are an all star athlete there is no doubt that massage can aid in faster recovery and decrease the intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness. We all want to be in tip top shape and back to our normal routine as fast as possible but sometimes working out can slow us down in the aftermath. Regular massage encourages circulation and healing in our body tissues. Depending on how often and how intensely you train or work out will determine how often you would need to keep up with massage. Monthly is ideal but it could be needed up to once or week or even before or after every performance. Knowing your body and your routine will help you decide what is best for you.


Increase range of motion. Much like stretching or foam rolling, massage helps to relax and loosen the skeletal muscles. At one point or another we've all experienced "trigger points" or "knots" that can cause our body parts to decrease or lose function. With regular massage, these trigger points can be released allowing us to return to normal movement. In fact, massage also offers passive stretching as part of the protocol. When you are feeling particularly tight in an area or just want to work on the flexibility, be sure to mention this and request stretching to your therapist who will be able to assist you.


Coping with trauma. There are many things in life that can take a toll on us. Physical and mental disabilities, disease and loss to name a few. Sometimes the simplest gesture such as human touch can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression that come with uncontrollable factors. We often take for granted how necessary it is for us to obtain physical contact from each other. A hug or a pat on the back could do wonders, imagine the impact massage can have as well. For physical exertion me might as for deep tissue or orthopedic massage to relieve the pain, but in this case, a simple relaxing Swedish massage could do the trick to help relieve stress.


Relaxation. Rest is a valuable factor in our quest to remain healthy and yet one of the things we tend to neglect the most. Stress, anxiety or even a busy schedule can keep us from getting the proper sleep that we need. It is important that throughout the business of our lives we take a moment to slow down, meditate, breathe and allow ourselves to relax. Massage calms the body's nervous system and can help to put us in our parasympathetic state. If sleep is an issue, try getting a massage in the evening after work or after your work out. A warm bath and soothing music can also help to de-stress our minds and body.

Maintaining a well-oiled machine isn't always easy. It takes some dedication but mostly it involves developing good habits. As soon as something becomes habit or routine it no longer feels like a chore. We must do our best to formulate these healthier and beneficial habits that we intend on sticking to. Always get help from the appropriate expert in every department. Massage is a very useful tool but it does not come without contraindication for some illness and disorders. Ask your doctor before receiving a massage.


Raiye R.


Belly fat, a common culprit in the fitness world. Although, many of us may never experience the eluded "six-pack" it is not impossible to cut down your waist size. However, in order to do that, you must understand where visceral fat (commonly known as belly fat) derives from. Why do some people struggle more than others?
Genetics plays the primary role. Your body type, shape or structure will dictate how easily it is for you to attain fatty tissue in the abdominal area. Broadly speaking, there are two main body types: pear and apple. A pear shape body is more susceptible to putting weight on in the lower body (hips and thighs) where the apple shape body is more prone to adding weight around the abdomen- visceral fat. Unfortunately, this is the more dangerous type of fat because visceral fat contributes to insulin resistance and inflammation and is linked to diabetes and heart disease although it is not quite understood why. For those that are more susceptible to belly fat, maintenance and control are key.
We cannot isolate where we burn fat. It is a common misconception that by doing extra core work we can trim down our belly size. While it is true that exercise reduces fat, we cannot pick and choose where we lose the fat from. Our body breaks down that fat somewhat evenly, although our central region is usually last. Core exercises play and important role in creating a trimmed down shape and are highly important for maintaining posture and reducing low back pain. Don't get discouraged, continue with your core exercises but understand that there are more steps to reducing belly size than that.
Stress causes visceral fat. A hormone called cortisol that is released when our bodies experience stress relocates fat cells to the abdomen, increases appetite and cravings for sugar. When the body reacts to stress it releases several hormones to regulate the body in preparation to fight or flight. In short term this is a survival mechanism and relatively harmless but if the body remains in the sympathetic mode- aka chronic stress- our bodies react negatively. Although we do not have control over the events that happen to us, we can choose to control how we respond. Take time out to re-balance through yoga or meditation and remember to take 10 slow, deep breaths before reacting to something that may spike your stress levels.
Diet makes up 80% of your fitness goals. Do you want to lose that fat around your belly? It starts in the kitchen. Greasy, fatty and sugary foods only add to the storage of fat. Making healthy food choices will change your life drastically and not just by losing weight. So when the question comes up, "how do i lose my belly fat?" the truest answer is, "be mindful of what you eat." Yes, food can be delightful and fun and a great way to keep in touch with each other, but remember that modesty is key. Each time you sit down for a meal ask yourself whether this is for fuel, entertainment, or if there is some other underlying factor such as boredom or depression. It is important that you enjoy yourself but your body needs fuel and it is even more vital that we eat the right foods to keep our bodies trim and running effectively.
Workout of the Month
Core Workout:
*Practice daily and work up to 1 minute each
leg lifts
sb oblique crunches
sb hip raises
sb pikes





Squats are a major staple when it comes to resistance training. They can range from body weight to an extremely heavy one rep max with a barbell. There are many variations of squats and each individual may find some versions more agreeable to their body type or workout than others. Whichever type you choose, they are important to our everyday movement. Some things as seemingly simple such as sitting down on a chair or getting up and down off the floor can degrade as we age. Whether you're just learning or you've been squatting for years, these three basic tips may be able to aid you on your journey.

Stretch. Range of motion is imperative. While it is true that just holding a weight in a static position or squatting only a quarter of the way down can serve a beneficial purpose, it is more realistic to focus on improving and maintaining as much range of motion as possible. This means that you may want to hold off on squatting the heavy weight until your are able to squat at a full range of motion. Ideally, dropping your hips below parallel or eventually down to your ankles while keeping your chest above your waist and without lifting your heels off the floor. This does not mean that every time you practice squats you are required to drop below parallel, but developing the proper flexibility will benefit you in the long run. Do don't go dropping yoga for weightlifting just yet. As a matter of fact, yoga will only aid in your weightlifting quest. Focus on stretches that include low back, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.

Plyometrics. Explosive movements will help improve your ability to power through your squat and will train more fibers of each muscle to fire all at once increasing your ability to handle more and more weight. Box jumps are key here. Focus on gradually increasing how high you can jump. Land quietly and controlled for 3 sets of 10 repetitions before attempting a new height. Box jumps can be terrifying for some and it is definitely ok to begin with just a vertical jump until you feel comfortable enough to start jumping on a low level box. Progress is progress no matter how small it may seem in the beginning! 

Volume. In order to increase strength and weight you must challenge yourself as well as train your muscles to resist heavier weight. After you are absolutely sure that your squats are performed with good body mechanics, you are ready to find your current one rep max. This weight will be your guide to find percentages to base your workouts. Working sets can be between 70-85% of your 1 rep max for short sets. Depending on the percentage, you could be performing sets at only three reps at a time. A smaller percentage constitutes more reps per set: up to 8 or 10. This takes some trial an error of course, paying close mind to your form as you go heavy or begin to fatigue.

All these tips are useful so long as your body is in normal condition. Obviously, certain surgeries, injuries or ailments may prevent you from performing these exercises. If there is ever a doubt, it is wise to consult your physician first for medical advice or possible modifications. If squats are new to you, try joining a group exercise class or hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to guide you and prevent you from accidentally falling into bad habits that may cause more harm than good. Happy New Year and happy squatting!

Raiye R.

Example of Squat Program:

Week 1: 

Monday: Work up to 1 rep max

Wednesday: 3 sets of 8 reps at 70%*

Friday: 3 sets of 6 reps at 75%*

Week 2:

Monday: 3 sets of 6 at 75%*

Thursday: 3 sets of 5 at 80%*

Week 3:

Monday: 3 sets of 3 at 85%*

Wednesday 1 set of 3 at 90%*

Friday: Work up to 1 rep max

*Never begin the work out at your working weight. Warm-up with a lighter weight and gradually work up to your desired  percentage.


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