Archive for October, 2009

Let’s Talk Fitness with Alex!

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Hair is just one part of our body. How well it looks and behaves has a lot to do with what’s going on with our bodies as a whole. Today Alex talks about 3 key steps to better health practices.

As a Personal Trainer, I am keenly aware of the increasing interest in health and fitness. The problem is, however, that there is too much misinformation on the topic. I am appalled and offended at many of the websites and magazine articles I see touting the latest fitness crazes and diet pills that are often unhealthy and ineffective. I am also shocked by how many people I see go to the gym day after day and see little or no improvement in their health and fitness levels.

No matter what you read in the magazines or see on the infomercials late at night, your health and fitness comes down to what I like to call the, “3 Keys to Fitness.” They are cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and proper nutrition.

Let’s start with the dreaded cardio! Cardio is any activity that places strain on your cardiovascular system. It can be riding a bike, going for a run, jumping rope, or power walking. All forms are equally beneficial for weight loss and increased heart health. I recommend that people start slow and always build up their endurance before they increase their intensity. The most common mistake I see people make with their cardio routines is, well, that they are routine. Walking for 30 minutes every day at the same pace is great for general health and maintenance, but those looking to get in better shape or lose weight need to challenge themselves a little more. A few recommendations for spicing up a boring cardio routine include increased distance, trying different types of cardio, or trying interval training. For instance, you can alternate between walking for three blocks and then running for one block.

Next up, let’s look at resistance training. Resistance training is beneficial for a number of reasons. It increases lean muscle mass, helps increase bone density, and keeps joints and connective tissue strong. When most people think of resistance they think of big muscular guys grunting, squatting hundreds of pounds and flexing their biceps in the mirror. In actuality, strength training can be done with machines, free weights, cables, bands, and even your own body weight. Whether resistance training is done once a day or once a week it needs to be challenging and varied. The human body adapts quickly. My biggest recommendations are to keep workout logs so progress can be marked and goals can be set. Also avoid doing the same routine for more than a month.

The most important factor in your health and fitness is definitely your nutritional habits. People always ask me which diet I recommend (Atkins, low-fat, Beyonce Diet…). I always say none. Balanced nutrition over time will keep you feeling and performing at your best. My nutritional recommendations to keep you healthy and fit include: Eat small meals frequently, make sure all meals include good carbs, good fats, and protein, avoid processed food as much as possible, and drink plenty of water.

No matter where you are in your journey to a healthier and fit lifestyle, working on these three areas will help you get to where you want to be.

Alex Nsiah-Kumi Jr. is the founder and president of Paramount Personal Training Inc., a Chicago based mobile health and fitness service that includes personal training, yoga, nutrition, and massage therapy at whatever locations are needed. Since he first started training 5 years ago he has helped hundreds of clients of different backgrounds reach their goals. Alex is a firm believer that no matter what a person’s current situation may be, they can always achieve superior health and an increased quality of life by through proper nutrition and a comprehensive health and fitness program.

Amazing Woman Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many major organizations and individuals come together to build awareness of the disease, raise funds to advance research in treatment and prevention, and provide support for individuals and families going through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Without the dedicated support of the thousands of men and women who contribute to promote awareness of prevention and research in this area, survival rates would likely be less optimistic. We interviewed with one of these wonderful persons about her experiences with and motivation for supporting such an important cause. On 9/26/09, Kesi ran a race sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure – the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Here’s what she had to say about her experience:

What initially sparked your interest in supporting the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure?
There are a number of factors that played a part in my participation.  First and foremost, my mother was suspected of having cancerous cells several years ago.  That same year, a family friend and fellow church member lost her battle with the disease and it impacted a lot of people tremendously.  To see the devastation it causes your immediate and extended family is truly a wake up call to how short life can be.

After discussing my possible participation with close friends, I learned that some of them had also been impacted by breast cancer.  As a result I decided to run in honor of my mother, my friends’ mothers, and for women who are currently dealing with this disease.

The Race for the Cure is a big event. Can you tell us a little more about your participation in this event?
This was the first time the Chicago Race for the Cure included a 10K in their events so I figured it would be a good opportunity to get out and do something in my community for a worthy cause. Four years ago, a close friend of mine persuaded me to run the Honolulu marathon in support of AIDS for the Whitman Walker Clinic in Washington, DC.  The experience was extremely rewarding and I immediately knew that I would run again for charity.

What would you name as your biggest accomplishment related to your involvement with this event?
There’s a song my grandmother used to sing that said, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain.”  Those lyrics have always stuck with me.  My sense of accomplishment doesn’t come from the number of miles I run – it comes from the strength of knowing that I am helping to make the difference in at least one person’s life.

How did you prepare yourself for such an experience?
Unlike having to train 6 months in preparation for a marathon, I was able to just get up and run the 10K since it was a significantly shorter distance.  I’m sure a lot of that comes from working out regularly to build my strength and endurance paired with my natural love of running.

What advice would you give to a beginner who’s interested in competing in a fitness event for charity?
1. Don’t look at it as a competition. Participating in an event for charity is not a race to the finish – it’s about accomplishing a goal. What matters most is discipline, motivation, and most importantly the belief that you can make it to the finish line.
2. You don’t have to start big by running a marathon.  There are many different options to choose from – 5K (3.2mi), 10K (6.4mi) runs and even walks and bike-a-thons are scheduled every year nationwide and can help you raise money for a cause.  Pick one that works for you!
3. Find something you believe in. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit there were times when I felt like giving up. What kept me going was my belief in the cause and the belief people had in me by donating. It makes it much harder to quit when you have that passion.

For more information about breast cancer causes, treatment and prevention, visit these websites:
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month organization (NBCAM)
National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.