Archive for April 2010

Fitness Friday: Kettlebells



Are you looking for a quick way to build lean muscle while also improving your cardiovascular fitness?  Well, Kettlebells are the answer.  While Kettlebells provide a quick workout, I must emphasize, it’s not easy!


What are Kettlebells?

An ancient Russian strength training mechanism, Kettlebells are quickly gaining popularity in today’s fitness world.  Kettlebells are round cast-iron weights with a single looped handle on the top.  They range in weight from two to over 100 pounds.  These bowling ball sized balls are popping up in fitness classes and gyms around the country. 


What’s the hype really all about?

Unlike dumbbell weight training workouts which focus mostly on a single muscle group through isolation, Kettlebell training recruits your entire body all at the same time (compound movements).  This type of training forces you to use your muscle groups synergistically – moving as a coordinated whole.  Bottom line – not only will you develop strength, but improve flexibility and cardio all at the same (shorter amount of) time!


How to get started

Kettlebell training can be tricky, so it’s best to start slowly.  In the video below, H3 Fitness Director Adam Martin, shows us the basic Kettlebell swing.  It may look easy at first, but to avoid injury, it is very important to have correct form and technique.  Make sure you start with a very light weight (or none at all) to practice the correct movements and when you feel comfortable, gradually increase your weight.


A great way to mix up your circuit routine is to add a set of Kettlebell swings.  Add a 30 second interval between your sets for a quick, heart rate pumping cardio burst.  If 30 seconds is too easy, try moving up to one minute.  If you are looking for an entire Kettlebell workout, reach out to your nearby gym for a personal training session.



Now that you know the basics of Kettlebells, you can add a little variety to your existing routine and watch as you improve your strength and muscle tone. 


Have a swinging Friday!






Meet Wellness Counselor, Beth Leermakers

Beth Leermakers

If you missed yesterday’s Who’s Who weekly update email, here is your chance to learn more about our Wellness Counselor, Beth Leermakers.


Dr. Beth Leermakers earned her B.S. degree in Psychology from Duke University and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Florida.  As a Certified Lifestyle Counselor in Weight and Stress Management, Beth has more than 15 years of experience in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of obesity.  Her past experiences include Director of Education at the LEARN Institute for Lifestyle Management, as well as Program Director at the Cooper Institute in Texas.  In January of 2008 – wishing to be closer to family – Beth accepted the position of Hilton Head Health Wellness Counselor and packed her bags for the east coast.


Beth’s main responsibilities at H3 include leading discussions on stress management, stress eating, body image and motivation, as well as conducting Health Habit Review sessions and Individual Consultations.  Her goal is to help individuals discover what’s interfering with their healthy lifestyle behaviors and find strategies to overcome these barriers.  She finds that the first step is to help the Guest realize that they need to make health a priority.


According to Beth, “one of the highlights of my job is seeing when Guests, who are initially very shy and scared, start to feel more comfortable and come out of their shell.  We’re able to create such a safe and nurturing environment, that each Guest really has the opportunity to blossom and share.”  Beth’s passion is driven by seeing Guests really open up and rediscover passions that they’ve put on hold for so many years.


When Beth’s not supporting Guests at H3, you can find her at the beach with her two dogs or volunteering at animal rescue.




Employees at H3 Walking

Don’t forget your tennis shoes because today is National Walk@LunchDay.  In yesterday’s post, Tips for a Healthy Cubicle, I gave you a few tips to keep your healthy habits throughout the work-day.  National Walk@LunchDay encourages you to incorporate physical activity into your work day and encourages you to increase your daily physical activity by walking at lunch every day. 


We all know the benefits of walking, but in case you forgot:

–  Decrease your risk of a heart attack and type-2 diabetes

–  Control your weight

–  Improve your muscle tone

–  Reduce your stress


Bring your lunch and walk for half of your break or make a date with a co-worker to walk to and from your favorite lunch spot.  Even if it is only for 10 minutes, make it a point to pencil in your walk to your daily task list. 


Worksite wellness is on the rise with companies implementing programs to keep their employees healthy and productive.  Not only does this help the company’s health care costs, but improves the lives of every individual, therefore affecting the company as a whole.


Here at H3, we have decided to expand our Healthy Lifestyle program into something that companies can experience on-site.  Sure, you may miss out on the peacefulness of a sunrise beach walk, but through our program offerings, you can build a personalized program for your company including on-site visits, group workshops, webinars and more!


Take the initiative to create a culture of health at your workplace.  Bringing your healthy lifestyle into the workplace seems like a no brainer, as it’s where we spend most of our time! 


Now, lace up your shoes and get out there and WALK.



Tips for a Healthy Cubicle

the office

Over and over I hear from the Guests here at H3, ‘I bet it’s easy to stay on track when you get to work at a place like this’ or ‘I bet it would be easy to stay in shape if I worked here’.  Well, for the most part, that’s true.

I had the privilege of spending the last 16 weeks of my college career as a Program Intern here at H3.  For those 16 weeks, I was immersed in the healthy lifestyle, eating the meals, teaching classes, attending classes and interacting with Guests.  It was a part of my life that I will never forget, and still apply what I learned from that experience into my job now.

Now, instead of leading a treading class or beach walk, I sit at a desk in an office for most of the day.  I love what I do; I get to spread the word of what a great place and program we have here at H3 with those who are looking to make the changes, as well as keep alum of H3 connected!

Unfortunately, the environment of the program is not as present, and you can find it a bit easier to slip out of your healthier habits.  So, I try to keep in mind the things I created as habits in my lifestyle four years ago during my program internship, and apply them to my now desk – life.

Here are a few tips that work well for me:

–  If you can, sneak in a workout first thing in the morning.  After a long day of work, with errands and commitments looming, an afternoon sweat session is usually the first to go.  Luckily, I am very close to a gym, so I can roll out of bed and be there in less than 5 minutes.  If you aren’t, try walking or jogging near your house or even try out an exercise video.  Promise yourself 30 minutes in the morning to get in your cardio or strength training.

Invest in a large water bottle.  If you don’t have a water fountain near, a large water bottle is a necessity.  Keep it on your desk so that you are sure to get in enough water during the day.  Drink water instead of hitting up the soda machine!  It will also help you feel full, keeping ‘boredom’ hunger at bay.

Stock your desk with healthy snacks.  The number one thing I took from H3 is to eat a Metabo Meal – a healthy snack in between meals.  Every few days or so, I visit the nearest grocery and grab a few apples, oranges, low fat cheese sticks, nut & dried fruit mix, carrot sticks and hummus to keep handy.  It’s when I am not prepared, do I go wandering for other (unwise) snacks…

Try to limit my lunches out.  I am fortunate again to work very close to home, so I try to eat at home most days of the week.  If I know I am going to have a busy day, I try to wake up and pack a quick lunch – whole grain PB & J, fruit, and a few crackers.  In our office, we plan a ‘payday’ lunch – make a lunch date for every other Friday J  That way eating out is a treat, not an everyday affair.

Walk around as much as possible.  Instead of emailing or using the phone, I walk to another’s office with questions.  Not only does it usually get done quicker, it gets me up and moving from my desk.  If you bring your lunch, you can also spend 15 – 20 minutes on a quick walk.

Be prepared.  This is the most important part of making any healthy lifestyle plan work.  At first it may take a little more time planning, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.  I try to pack my gym clothes (if I missed the morning workout) so I can head straight to the gym without having to stop at home first.  And as mentioned before, I pack my lunch, water bottle and snacks so I can make the ‘best’ food choices.

These are just a few things I have learned while in the working world, but they help make living a healthy lifestyle much easier for me.  Hopefully you can take from them and apply them to your routine.

If you work in an office, do you have any other tips to stay on track?



Just another Manic Monday

Back to reality, back to the grind.  

If today has you feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed, try the following to relax:


Take a Walk
Walking is a great way to clear your head and to get in a healthy dose of aerobic exercise at the same time! Leave your worries behind and focus on the fresh air for a little while.


Write in a Journal
Venting is a healthy way to get rid of unwanted stress. Your journal is a great outlet because you don’t have to worry what others may think or say about your feelings. Once you’re finished writing, at least some of the weight will be lifted from your shoulders and your thoughts will be less clouded.


Take a Hot Bath
Taking a long bath slows down both your mind and body and melts away anxiety. Go all out with suds, music, and candles if you want! By the time you dry off, you’ll feel refreshed and energized.


Relaxing music
Listening to relaxing music and sounds can help you clear your mind after a busy day. Whether you listen to tapes, CDs, MP3 downloads or Podcasts, you can find a recording that will help you fall asleep easier, meditate, beat stress, and more. Many stores sell relaxation CDs, which may contain music, nature sounds, or guided meditations.


Deep breathing
An easy and convenient way to relax, it is the core of many other relaxation techniques. You can practice deep breathing anywhere. Simply take ten deep breaths, lifting your chest to fill your lungs completely and then exhaling all the way. Each breath will relax your body a little bit more and you will feel the tension seep out of your muscles


Progressive muscular relaxation (PMR)
PMR helps release muscle tension. Your muscles tighten as one of the first signs of stress and can become a real pain in the neck (or lower back). But this pain doesn’t have to be a way of life. PRM is simple yet effective at reducing pain and enhancing relaxation. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Start by tightening a group of muscles, such as your fists, as much as possible. Hold this tension for a few seconds and then relax the muscles. Once your muscles are relaxed, consciously soften them even further in order to be as relaxed as possible.

Once you have mastered tensing and relaxing your fists, you can move on to other muscles groups and then to your entire body. Apply the same technique, starting at your feet, and working upward. It takes just 10 to 20 minutes to completely relax your entire body. To get the most relaxation possible, try combining PMR with deep breathing.


Mental imagery
Mental imagery, or the picture in your mind’s eye, can help you regroup and relax. Picture an idyllic and peaceful scene, such as a meadow or a beach, and use all of your senses. Do you smell jasmine in the air? Can you hear the birds singing and feel the light breeze on your skin? Your body can’t tell the difference between a thought and a real event, so bring your peaceful scene to mind the next time you’re feeling anxious. This “mini vacation” will help you feel refreshed, as if you’d really visited to a tropical paradise.

You can also visualize the stress flowing out of your body or running off your back like water. This imagery is particularly useful at work if you don’t have much privacy. Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee the next time your boss changes a deadline on you, picture the stress flowing peacefully out of your body from your head to your toes and start smiling.


Meditation is the conscious act of focusing on one thought, object, or word. This deliberate focus occupies your mind and diverts your attention away from the problems that are causing you stress. Many people who meditate claim that it helps boost their creativity and ability to solve problems by allowing subconscious thoughts to arise to conscious awareness. But meditation isn’t far out or mystical. Like deep breathing, you can do it anywhere and without specialized training.

Sit comfortably, close your eyes and relax your body, concentrating on breathing rhythmically. Feel your breath and focus on each breath you take. Thoughts will come to mind, but just let them pass without giving them any attention. You can also focus your attention on a phrase, such as a positive affirmation, an object, such as a candle flame, or a comforting word like “calm.” Try clearing your mind for 15 minutes in the morning and again before you go to sleep, gradually increasing the amount of time you meditate each day.






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