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Fitness tips and health advice from Trainer Lady Diane Bechtle.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

According to the American Institute of Stress, numerous emotional and physical disorders are linked to stress. In fact, chronic stress affects each system of the body differently and can cause long-term health concerns. 

One of the greatest misconceptions about stress is that mental and emotional stress are not as detrimental as physical stress. Most people associate stress with work and a busy lifestyle, and although true, how we think and how we maintain our emotions affects the mind and the body. For many, their personal life is just as stressful as their career life, if not more so. 

In addition, people experience stress due to things like environmental toxins, overuse of technology, constant traveling, changing time zones or switching work shifts, which changes one’s biorhythm and can take several days to adjust to the new schedule. Therefore, stress is a part of the modern day life and the body will respond to the stress placed upon it. 

Stress that is stored in the body can show up in the most unexpected ways. Although associated with depression and panic attacks, stress manifests itself also through less obvious signals. These five signs indicate that something in your life is placing stress on your body. 

 1. A locked or tight jaw.

 When stressed, many people subconsciously clench their jaw or grind their teeth, which can lead to further issues such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. To release a tight jaw, first bring awareness to when you clench your jaw. Is it during rush-hour traffic? Are you going to bed with a tight jaw? Deep breathing, jaw and neck stretches, and yoga can help promote muscular relaxation. 

 2. Uncommon muscular contractions. 

Most people experience shrugged shoulders or tension in the upper-back muscles. Other unnatural muscular contractions include gripping toes, clenched fists or scrunched facial muscles. If you notice this, it is best to “check in” to alleviate subconscious holding patterns. Yoga or traditional stretches lengthen the muscles and train the body to relax.

 3. Pain without pathology. 

People experience pain in different parts of the body for various reasons. For example, someone who broke their ankle as a child may later experience, or channel, pain to that region during stressful situations. If you have pain in a certain area that has no pathology (diagnosis) or misalignment, stress could be triggering the pain. If this occurs, it is best to consult your medical practitioner who can direct you to the most appropriate therapy. 

 4. Abnormal bowel movements. 

Stress can affect digestion and the nutrient absorption process. Stress also affects how quickly food moves through the body. Constipation and diarrhea are often caused by a stressed-out digestive tract. If you haven’t eaten anything abnormal in a while and find that your elimination is not consistent, stress may be a contributing factor. Keep a log of how your mind and gut react to certain scenarios. 

 5. Holding the breath. 

When stressed, many people hold their breath or do not concentrate on a deep, elongated breath. Often the breath shortens and the chest tightens as a result of “fight or flight.” Holding the breath while stressed causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions from the heart. Deep breathing is an easy way to help overcome tension from holding the breath. Focus on matching the inhalation and exhalation with a five-second in-and-out breath.

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Posted by on in Exercise

Your brain on exercise: Check this out!


- Fit people are better able to focus

- 30 minutes on a treadmill helped students solve math problems up to 10% more   effectively

- Taking a walk in a natural setting soothes anxiety and improves working-memory performance

- For every flight of stairs climbed daily, brain age decreases significantly

- Moderate cardiovascular exercise boosts the hippocampus - the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning

- Endurance training (long periods of exercise) helps the brain to create new neurons that enhance plasticity and maintain memory and cognitive skills

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Posted by on in Exercise

Exercise Myths that just don’t die:

Unused muscle turns to fat - if you stop lifting weights, muscles shrink.  Lack of regular exercise coupled with poor eating habits is a recipe for fat storage.

Exercising in the “fat burning zone” (i.e. At lower rather than highter intensities) is best for fat loss - studies show that alternating high-intensity with active recovery burned more fat in 20 minutes than exercise at a moderate pace for 40 minutes.  The more intense the workout, the more calories are burned during and after exercise.

Crunches carve the core - for that six-pack to be revealed, the fatty layer covering it must burn away.  One study found that 6 weeks of abdominal training was not enough on it’s own to reduce belly fat.  Food choices and cardiovascular exercise have to be a part of reducing the fatty layer.

Exercise alone can overcome poor eating habits - An average person would have to run 6-7 miles to burn off the 750 calories in a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with cheese. 

Preworkout stretching reduces injury risk - postworkout stretches have been shown to be most effective as your muscles are warm and more pliable.


Now for that app - Charity Miles (  Raise money for one of 28 charities every time your walk, run or cycle with this app funded by corporate partners Timex Sports and Humana, among others.  It tracks your distance and donates 25 cents for every mile you walk or run, or 10 cents for each mile you bike.  Exercise - the gift that keeps on giving - now to you AND others!! 


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Posted by on in General Health


Good enough for what, you may ask?  And to that, I say “good enough” for you!  For a sense of being OK with where you are.

We are all works in progress.  Part of being “good enough” is freeing our minds from guilt. 

How do you view goals and lists?  As things to absolutely get done, or things to glance at every once in a while?  How do you feel when that goal or list is or isn’t complete? Overwhelmed and defeated, “I don’t care,” or somewhere in between?

We all need the feeling that we are moving ahead -- or at least not backward in our lives.  Cultivating a sense of progress is essential to our growth.  Whether it’s at the gym, at our jobs, or in relationships, “small wins” are important to prevent our morale from crumbling. 

Progress is a relative term for each of us - not an absolute.  Measuring success in your own stage of life without comparing with others will foster a guilt-free mind and heart.  

Running is my outlet.  I can put on my music, escape life, clear my head and work out anxiety.  For the past few years, a chronic achilles problem has prevented me from running.  Disappointing - YES!  Discouraging - YES!  I have had to drastically use a different measure to prevent defeat.  My “small win” now is being able to walk my trail, and being OK with that. 


Am I running the LA Marathon like my client Kristen (you go, girl!!)?  No.  Is where I am good enough for me?  Yes


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The following is an facebook post quoting my 6-year old grandaughter - “Daddy, if you don’t go for a mountain bike ride, your face will turn square.”  “What??  Why would my face turn square?”  “Cuz you will be out of shape!”

Besides making me laugh, it got me thinking . . . 


How many of our minds are in that square shape - the out of shape thinking that “the holidays are coming so I am too busy to eat right, exercise, and get my sleep?”

A square is a box - our thoughts are boxed in when we tell ourselves that taking care of ourselves will happen in January “when things calm down.”  How many of us just “make it” through the holiday season and are exhausted at the end?  How much of that is due to us not taking care of ourselves, and how fun is that?

Let’s journey together to get our minds (and bodies) in better shape by thinking outside the box now before the box closes in on us!

Choose nutritious food 80% of the time.  The 20% will take care of itself.  NO “all-or- nothing” approach to eating.

Keep some kind of healthy filling snack and water with you always (see recipe below).  Life is busy, and a fast food drive-thru isn’t the best choice when you are hungry.

Just move - whatever you are doing, move more quickly than usual.  Every step and movement counts!  Your body will love it.  

Treat yourself with the same love you are extending to others.  Balance the time between baking and cooking and cleaning for loved ones with some “you” time.  YES  - 

There is time.  The box says there isn’t!  Find what refreshes you and just do it!

Avoid the “just one more thing tonight” mentality when it is getting late.  Go to bed and sleep.  It will be easier tomorrow anyway because you will be refreshed. 

Let’s evaluate the thoughts in our holiday box - - toss out the old ones that are harmful to us - - and get our minds in better shape.  Our bodies will follow and thank us.


Chocolate Cranberry Bars

1 cup almonds

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

5 medjool dates (or prunes)

1/3 cup pepitas

1/2 cup cacoa powder

2 tablespoons boiling water

Place almonds and oats in food processor and blend until a course crumb.

Add cacao powder, cranberries, and dates and blend again.

While blending, add the boiling water slowly until the mixture becomes well-incorporated.

Press the dough into a oiled 8X8 pan.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before slicing into 12 bars.


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Posted by on in General Health

YOUR MOM WAS RIGHT!  That is, if she told you to stand up straight.  Nearing a birthday this Friday, I am very aware that gravity is not kind to us as we age.

A recent visit to my chiropractor reminded me that kyphosis (shoulder rounding) is happening and may lead to lordosis (sway back) which pulls on my glutes and hamstrings and down my legs it goes.  Not a pretty picture!

As I have been very aware of my posture this week, I am practicing some tips . . .

- press your shoulder blades into the back of your seat while driving.  Press harder at red lights

- look straight ahead rather than down while walking, running, mowing the lawn, shopping, etc.

- how's your posture right now as you are sitting at your computer???

- rather than focusing on keeping your shoulders back, elongate your ribcage and neck

- no slouching on your couch or chair while watching TV, reading, or just visiting

Take a week-long challenge with me to "stand proud" and practice these tips.  None of us want to be more stooped-over than we need to be when we are old!

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Posted by on in Exercise


 Gardening can cultivate fitness along with plants.  Here in So CA, spring has sprung, so I wanted to share some tips with you as you are coaxing blooms out of your hibernating yard.

 We all know that regular physical activity reduces the risk of many diseases.  But did you know that gardening can provide the same benefits as other types of physical activity?

  - Raking is like using a rowing machine.

  - Turning a compost pile is like lifting weights (yes, we have a compost pile!)

  - Carry a gallon sprinkling can of water in each hand and you’ve got 8 lb dumbells.

  - Pushing a lawnmower is like walking on a treadmill, only much more interesting and rewarding. 

 Stress good posture and balance while working - -  kneel instead of stooping, lift with bent knees and a straight back, and hold in your abdominals with every movement.  

 Enjoy the outdoors, drink in the spring sunshine (with your sunscreen on), plant flowers, and maybe start an easy herb garden in containers.  Mental health is just as important as physical activity for our well-being!


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Posted by on in Exercise

If the benefits of regular physical activity could be put into a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed and most beneficial of all medications.  Unfortunately, that pill doesn't exist.  Remember - ANY movement is better than none!

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