Monday, December 10, 2012

PPT Client Sees Amazing Wellness Successes

Rikki Schwartz
Although Rikki Schwartz of Waterford, Michigan has created a very successful career as a chemical engineer, her health was not always as prosperous. “I was exhausted all the time; I rarely had any surplus energy, and thereby resisted most varieties of social activities,” Rikki explains. “I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without being winded.” Rikki was growing increasingly exasperated with her inability to keep up with friends and family—even attending a simple art fair was exhausting.
With her upcoming 46th birthday, Rikki knew that she had to make lifestyle changes. “I realized that the distance to 50 was shorter than the distance from 40,” she says. “I concurrently realized that I likely would not make it past 60 if I didn’t do something as soon as possible, or if I did make it past 60, my quality of life would be dismal.” Admitting her diminished well-being was just the first step. The exercise component, which she knew had to be a part of her journey to better health, was a different obstacle entirely. Rikki not only associated exercise with discontentment, but also with fear. The thought of working out was daunting. As Rikki explains: “Exercise had always meant two things to me: pain and humiliation.” Much of her insecurity stemmed from grade school, where she had struggled to keep up with her peers. Avoiding fitness altogether just seemed easier, though it led to a multitude of issues for Rikki as she approached middle age.

Although she knew that she had to overcome her trepidation, the thought of joining a health club wasn’t even remotely appealing. Beyond the challenge of finding motivation to leave her home to exercise, Rikki just couldn’t face the deep-rooted public humiliation that she associated with gyms. Contacting Perfect Personal Training, whose wellness professionals would come right to her home for each session, seemed like a much better fit, especially with her busy career. She loved the thought of a “gym” knocking on her door and asking her for less than an hour of her time, which for Rikki was far more motivating than packing a duffle bag full of spandex and leaving her house.

Working with Perfect Personal Trainers Val Fiott and Jordan Gruppen in the comfort of her own home, Rikki never imagined that she would trade shame for a decreased body fat percentage and new-found confidence.  But, that wasn’t before Val helped Rikki to realize something even more important: she was asthmatic. “I did not even suspect the condition until Val Fiott encouraged me to seek medical attention about three months after I began working out with him, once he believed that I was experiencing what he believed to be asthmatic symptoms during my workouts,” Rikki says. The discovery explained some unanswered questions for her, including why she had avoided most physical activities for much of her life. “That may have been addressed medically when I was younger, had I known that asthma was, in fact, largely responsible for my lack of aerobic capacity,” she says.

Asthmatic or not, Rikki wasn’t about to let anything inhibit her at this point in her life. Her continued work with Perfect Personal Training produced incredible results. Rikki hadn't realized, until her initial work with Val Fiott, how truly at risk her health was. Although she had always considered herself to be of “average” weight, she learned, through Perfect Personal Training’s in-home consultation and fitness assessment, that her body fat percentage was nearly 45 percent. “I was thereby morbidly obese,” she explains. “That was obviously disturbing.” But these numbers didn’t perturb her for too long.  Rikki still holds on to an email she received from a coworker after she began working with PPT.  In the email, her coworker remarked how fabulous Rikki looked. “I do not know what you are doing but it looks good on you,” the uplifting email read. Rikki was very happy: “It was the first time I had ever felt empowered to take credit for a physical transformation of any kind because it was the first time I’d ever put any real effort into it,” she exclaims. “As such, it wasn’t just a matter of being proud of my appearance, but moreover proud of the effort that I had invested into it.”

Since beginning with Perfect Personal Training, the now 50-year-old Rikki Schwartz has decreased her body fat percentage by nearly 10 percent, has tremendously improved daily nutrition habits, and feels much more energetic and confident. “Considering I was, prior to PPT, a dyed-in-the-wool carb addict, and ate very, VERY little lean protein, the nutritional transformation has been miraculous,” she emphasizes. “Val’s encouragement of my food journaling, along with educating me regarding my recommended limits, really helped to set me on the right nutritional path.” Her dialogue with food has completely changed, particularly her former infatuation with fast food, which Rikki said she used as a “quick high” in her old life. “Now, I think of food as a tool: ‘How will this improve my life, today and in the days to come?’ [There’s] no comparison.”

Aside from her dramatically-improved physical appearance and overall health, Rikki is clearly in love with the way she now feels. “I am prouder of my appearance, my ability to keep up with my peers, and in general, my ability to honestly say that working out is a routine, prioritized, conscious, and dedicated focus of my life,” she says. “Nobody who knew me before 2008 would ever have believed that those words could/would come out of my mouth.” Rikki attributes her success to Perfect Personal Training’s accessibility and commitment to her success.  Rikki stresses that had she even considered a gym, the added commute would double her daily exercise commitment, making a steadfast fitness routine nearly impossible for her.  Convenience, attention, and encouragement were just a few of the adjectives she used to describe the reason for her nearly five-year investment with Perfect Personal Training. “My experience with PPT has been one of structure, security and safety,” she says. “I have stuck with PPT because they deliver exactly what they promise – personalized workouts that are paced for success, in the privacy of my own home.”

Perfect Personal Training, LLC

Friday, October 5, 2012

Defeat Your Brain Fog

Forgetting an appointment... Misplacing your keys... Losing focus at work. Does this all sound just a bit too familiar? Memory loss and diminished concentration aren’t just normal symptoms of aging; even people in their 20s and 30s are not strangers to“brain fog”. But before you consider buying stock in Post-it Notes and Starbucks, there is a less sticky answer to boosting your brain power: Nutrition.
Many of us, jokingly, use the phrase “senior moment.” We’ve almost come to accept that getting older means “losing” our minds. While the aging process can be taxing on the mind's ability to function optimally, taking the right precautions through a progressive, well-planned lifestyle can protect our brains far more than you might think. Years of research reveal that most Americans are not consuming enough brain-boosting nutrients. We need essential vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals to fight the formation of free radicals, which are caused by environmental factors like stress and processed foods. Free radicals aren’t always bad – in fact, our bodies actually produce them to aid our immune systems and assist in hormone production. But free radicals can form in excess, wreaking havoc on cells and tissues that our bodies need to function properly. This process is called oxidative stress. In our brains, oxidative stress can lead to disease. “The most significant cause of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are mitochondrial [the energy source of each cell] decay,” says Perfect Personal Nutritional Consultant Sheryl Krohner. Making the right nutritional choices can help prevent destructive oxidative stress. “The good news is, foods that many of us have already incorporated into our eating plans to promote general health and disease prevention can help decelerate this decline,” explains Perfect Personal Exercise Physiologist Christine Waclawski.Improved memory recall and brain motor function, as well as prevention or delay of Alzheimer’s and related dementias can be enhanced with smart food choices.”

Top Brain-Boosting Nutrients
Many health sources will recommend eating more blueberries, fish, and walnuts for better memory and focus, but they never seem to explain why. Actually, quite a wide variety of brain foods can be incorporated into your diet. We’ve examined the top brain-boosting nutritional components below, along with a list of foods packed with cerebral benefits.


Water: Are You Drinking Enough?
Seems almost too simple, right? Yet considering that about 80 percent of your brain consists of water, it’s imperative to stay hydrated—dehydration can produce stress hormones that cause long-term damage to brain cells.

New research reveals a correlation between low Vitamin B12 levels and memory loss, in addition to brain shrinkage. Not all Vitamin B12 forms, however, are created equal; you’ll most likely see Cyanocobalamin listed in parenthesis near the B12 listing in supplements, but Methylcobalamin is the most effective form.
The Best Way to Consume Vitamin B12: Meat, Eggs, Dairy, and Seafood.

Fresh basil: a surprising source of Omega 3s!
In a nutshell, fatty acids are the building blocks of fat and oil—two nutrients that society has been conditioned to avoid. Fatty acids like Omega-3, however, are essential in brain function. So much, in fact, that a deficiency can affect your ability to learn and recall information. A balanced diet that includes Omega-3 EFAs helps your body produce and rebuild cells, including vital brain cells necessary for memory and concentration.
Foods rich in Omega-3s: Fish (look for fish like Salmon, Sardines, Halibut, and Mackerel), Nuts (especially Walnuts, Almonds, and Hazelnuts), Flaxseeds, Soybeans, Fresh Basil, and Spinach.

According to Perfect Personal Nutritional Consultant Sheryl Krohner, antioxidants play a critical role in protecting brain cells by fighting free radicals.

- Vitamin E -

Avocados are a wonderful source of Vitamin E.
Antioxidant Vitamin E fights and protects against oxidative stress that can lead to Alzeihmer’s disease and stroke. According to a recent study, reported in Neurobiology of Aging, 85 percent of Alzeihmer’s patients were Vitamin E deficient. But before you run out and buy supplements, consider incorporating more Vitamin E-rich foods into your diet.

Vitamin E Dense Foods: Nuts, Eggs, Avocados, Cold-Pressed vegetable oils (like Olive and Canola), Sunflower Seeds, Legumes, Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice, and Oatmeal.

- Vitamin C -
You may have heard Vitamin C associated with “antioxidant” perhaps more than any other nutrient. That’s because Vitamin C is one of the most dynamic antioxidants; it acts as a sort of Superman, ridding organs, including the brain, of damaging free radicals. And Vitamin C helps other antioxidants – like Vitamin E – retain their potency.
Foods Packed With Vitamin C: Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Oranges (and other Citrus Fruits), Pineapple, Red Bell Peppers, and Strawberries.

- Zinc -
Consider including more fresh garlic in your meals.
One of Zinc’s main functions is to prevent fat oxidation in brain cells (which leads to brain cell damage) and aid Vitamin E. Most people turn to this mineral during a cold or flu bout, but it’s an essential antioxidant for brain function. Be careful though: consuming large amounts can ironically increase your risk for free radical damage.
Zinc-Powered Foods:Dark chocolate, Pumpkin and Squash Seeds (roasted), Garlic, Oysters, Lamb, Crab, Lean Roast Beef, Wheat Germ, and Chickpeas.

Other Antioxidants that will help protect your brain against plaque and free radicals: Vitamin A and Carotenoids (think foods like Carrots, Tomatoes, Eggs, and Leafy Greens), Green Tea, Garlic, Turmeric, and Ginkgo Biloba.

Don't forget your Leafy Greens!
Incorporating a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods is one of the most effective measures against brain fog, memory loss, and shrinkage. And according to Waclawski, don’t forget to fit in those workouts! “Regular exercise and physical activity also plays a vital role in slowing down brain declines – it will help oxygenate your brain. That along with the adoption of a “heart-smart” eating plan will help avoid‘brain-drain’!”

Friday, September 7, 2012

Energy Drinks Examined

With the kids heading back to school and fall around the corner, life tends to get a bit more hectic. There are lunches to pack, children to drive from school to soccer practice, games and school functions to attend. For a lot of people, things at work begin to pick up as well. It’s no wonder that the transition from summer to fall may leave you feeling completely devoid of energy. And when there’s no time for a catnap, the only seemingly logical answer is caffeine – and lots of it.
More and more Americans are now turning to energy drinks to stimulate their overworked brains. Products like Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster seem almost as prevalent as Starbucks lattes. In fact, Starbucks recently introduced its own line of energy drinks -  Refreshers - in effort to tap into the 8 billion dollar energy drink market. And the rise in popularity isn’t just among adults either – energy drinks are consumed by between 30 to 50 percent of teens and young adults, according to a study in Pediatrics, a journal published by The American Academy of Pediatrics. So is the surge in caffeine drinks a healthy one?
What Exactly Is In Them?
Energy drinks are typically made of a combination of the following:
·  Methylxanthine (pronounced  meth′il-zan′thin) -  a type of stimulant agent, often used in medications to treat asthma and COPD. Caffeine is the most widely-known methylxanthine.
·  Vitamin B – Vitamin B has become nearly synonymous with energy. That’s because the Vitamin B family is essential in converting food to energy.
·  Herbal Additives –herbs like ginseng and ginko biloba are often added to these drinks for their brain-boosting properties. Ginseng has been used for centuries for its ability to fight fatigue, while ginko biloba, commonly referred to as simply “ginko” is known as the “smart herb” because of its aid in memory improvement. Guarana is another popular additive because it contains caffeine and is known for its weight loss and energy-boosting effects.
·  Amino Acidsthese molecules are not only the “building blocks” of protein but also help your brain to fight toxins and your vitamins to do their job. Taurine is a common amino acid you’ll see in energy drinks, for its apparent neurologically-enhancing and antioxidant qualities.
·  Citric acid  - a natural, bitter-tasting acid, often used as a preservative. Over- consumption has been linked to tooth decay.
So They’re Healthy, Right?
Once you break down their ingredients, energy drinks may appear even more appealing on the surface. Many health experts maintain that energy drink marketers know this and are counting on you to question how a mixture of caffeine, vitamins, herbs, and amino acids could possibly be unhealthy. However, reports of their negative, sometimes life-threatening effects are popping up everywhere. Energy drinks have been linked to several harmful side effects:
·         Anxiety
·         Insomnia
·         Increased Irritability
·         Increased Blood Pressure
·         Increased Urination
·         Addiction
If consumers suffer from heart or liver disease, seizures, diabetes, or mood and behavioral disorders, these side effects are even more dangerous. Consider 14-year-old Anais Fournier, who suffered from a heart disease called mitral valve prolapse and died after consuming two energy drinks within a 24-hour period. Many experts are concerned that consumers may be fooled by the healthy additives, when in reality, over-consumption of some of them can be harmful in the long-run. “The biggest risk with most energy drinks isn't the actual contents, but the carbonation and the doses of those contents - they're often too high in guarana or B vitamins, and can sometimes lead to nerve damage,” explains Val Fiott, PPT’s Director of Operations and Client Services, who is also a former subject matter expert for the American Council on Exercise (2011) and certified lifestyle coach.And, while we do see improved cardiac function as a result of drinking energy drinks, the cons seem to outweigh the pros overall.”

But Isn’t Caffeine GOOD For You?

We don’t blame you for being confused. Society changes its stance on caffeine more than politicians change platforms. Have you ever tried to cut yourself off from coffee or caffeine? The severe headaches, exhaustion, and moodiness that accompany the withdrawal is no joke. There’s a reason for that – caffeine can be addictive. You may have read recently that coffee, in moderation, can help fight diseases like type 2 diabetes and can even increase longevity. While these statements are valid for most, there are some whose bodies do not process caffeine properly. According to Dr. Donald Hensrud, a preventive medicine specialist with Mayo Clinic, a “fairly common genetic mutation” can slow down your body’s ability to process caffeine, putting you at higher risk for heart disease.  Additionally, keep in mind that while the FDA can limit the amount of caffeine in a soda drink, energy drinks are marketed as dietary supplements, so they are only loosely monitored. And, according to Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times, because energy drinks are cold, they may be consumed in higher quantities than drinks like coffee that are sipped because of their temperatures. So even if your energy drink of choice has a caffeine equivalent of coffee (though energy drinks typically contain more) the amount of caffeine you may consume via energy drinks could be significantly higher than from coffee, and likely far too much to be safe.

Alternative Energy Sources

Considering an energy drink every month or two may not be an  issue; drinking them daily or weekly may be a different story. Fatigue is often a sign of bigger lifestyle issues that energy drinks can merely mask and ultimately exacerbate. What are the common reasons for lack of energy?
·         Dehydration
·         Lack of Sleep
·         Vitamin Deficiency
·         Improper Diet
·         Lack of Exercise
·         Stress
Remember, the wellness coaches and health professionals of Perfect Personal Training have solid answers for you once we have a good hard look at your food intake, lifestyle, and movement habits.  A personalized, well-researched answer is only a click away at

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

P90 Gets the X

Insane. Extreme. Turbo-Charged. Starting to sound familiar? These
adjectives have become increasingly associated with the at-home, 60 or 90 day fitness programs that seem to pop up like weeds on late-night, early-morning infomercials, full of promises that you too can have a ripped abs, rock-hard quads, and, guys, the tree trunk arms you’ve always wanted, all in just a few short months.  You just need to learn a few air stunts, like repeatedly propelling yourself several feet off the ground, so you can land in seated squats, and perform mid-air twirls—not to mention the recurrent pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups. And even though it’s excruciatingly hard, you’ll somehow get a contact high from the shock of your feet hitting the floor or the pain of your biceps quivering as you attempt to continuously hoist yourself up toward the pull-up bar, like the beautifully- ripped people on the screen. So, come on. What are you waiting for?

Buyer Beware
High-intensity, at-home fitness programs such as P90X, Insanity, and TurboFire may seem tempting, especially when what you’ve been doing hasn’t worked, or has ceased to be as effective. The energy-packed infomercials almost leave you craving some sort of butt-kicking, raw-edged boot camp. Dubbed as an “extreme home fitness” system that includes weight training, cardio, plyometrics, and yoga, P90X, for example, boasts incorporating “muscle confusion” to produce stellar, life-changing results. But while they flash a few “before and after” photos across the screen, you may be unaware of the multitude of problems that follow programs like this.

Associated Risks: The X Factor
Let’s examine P90X, which consists of a 6 days per week regimen that focuses on a different part of the body each time. One day might be shoulders and arms, while another will focus on more plyometrics-style cardio, while another focuses on legs and back. Equipment recommended for best results includes dumbbells, a pull-up bar, a yoga mat, and push-up handles. That’s nothing a gym doesn’t have, so how can it be that bad? And yet frequent complaints of shoulder, knee, and back injuries have repeatedly surfaced from people attempting this “# 1 Extreme Home Fitness Program” without individually consulting with a knowledgeable source, like a personal trainer or physician. Because this thrills and frills program is designed to keep you supposedly “pumped”, the DVDs focus on repetition of moves, rather than pointing to proper alignment. As with many home fitness videos, there’s very little instructional time to highlight appropriate form – quite dangerous for a program that’s already hard on joints to begin with. “Statistically, there is no doubt that people are putting themselves at a high risk for injury,” says Val Fiott, a personal trainer and Director of Operations & Client Services at PPT.  “From a sub-clinical perspective, a person's fitness first needs a proper assessment to determine what is appropriate. P90x is a random, mixed bag where you hope for the best. You'll usually trim and tone a bit, but with damage to joint integrity, the muscles themselves, and, especially, the heart muscle.” Sounds a little counterproductive, doesn't it?

How Can Extreme,  High-Intensity Training Affect Women?
Women have complained that programs like P90X only bulked them up, causing them to build muscle, but not lose fat. Most likely anticipating these types of results, these intense programs advertise that they’re offering a fitness regimen, not a weight loss miracle. But whatever verbiage they’re using doesn’t help the many women who’ve put themselves through three months of unnecessary, overly-strenuous workouts only to feel disappointed. "That's the unfortunate risk with an unpersonalized, cookie cutter approach like P90x and its incompetent cohorts,” Fiott says. “Prioritization and distribution are what make up a proper fitness program. For some, P90x offers far too much in terms of muscle gains, and for others, it's the opposite. What a shame that people spend so much time and money on this shortcut.”

X-aggerated Results
As one success story boasts in a Youtube video, “There’s no way you’re not going to get results.” We can’t help but agree. How, after 90 days of working out at least an hour per day,  six days per week, in addition to cutting calories, could these programs fail to produce at least some results? And yes, as with many modern fitness programs, P90X’s diet component requires reduced-carbohydrate intake. Nothing revolutionary there. Since when has cutting carbs, counting calories, and working out daily failed to produce at least some results? Some of you may be thinking, “Wait, can’t you lose weight and tone up in 90 days more safely? Absolutely. And as for the science of “muscle confusion” that these programs seemingly imply as innovative, the fact is, any good trainer is aware of the plateau effect (in which your muscles become accustomed to a certain regimen, resulting in lagging progress) and operates on the knowledge that muscles need variety. Why put your body through the ringer when you can get great results in a way that’s not only gentler on your body, but more effective in the long run?  

Speaking Of The Long Run...

While there’s no disputing that you can drop weight and increase muscle by following these self-ascribed “extreme” programs, what about long-term results? What is the likelihood of committing to a regimen like this for life? Will you still be doing explosive, plyometric drills in 20, or even 10 years? Is this a program you can envision yourself doing even a year from now? That’s the problem with short-term solutions. Even if you’re able to follow through, you’ll inevitably be asking, “Now what?” The last thing people need after losing weight and toning is to feel that they’re groping alone in the dark, hoping they somehow magically continue to transform or maintain their bodies; the truth of the matter is, the lack of personalization with many of these DVD programs leaves people feeling directionless and even fearful, emotions that can lead directly to weight gain. “There is no doubt that this program isn't appropriate for long-term health, and it isn't progressive beyond the 90-day cycle, so it can't grow and adapt with your body,” Fiott stresses. It’s time to start honoring our bodies through healing nutrients and a more personalized approach, rather than falling victim to gimmicky, so-called quick-result programs that never work long-term.