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Published May 01, 2013, 11:40 PM

'Living with vitality': Visiting speaker teaches implementing change one step at a time

FARGO - Polly Pitchford says there are three aspects to “living with vitality” – nutrition, exercise and attitude. The Sarasota, Fla.-based fitness instructor, cookbook author and motivational speaker has made it her mission to help others add vitality to their lives one positive change at a time.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

If you go

What: Women’s Health Conference

When: 7:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Ramada Plaza & Suites, Fargo

Info: Register online at www.womens-health-conference.com.

FARGO - Polly Pitchford says there are three aspects to “living with vitality” – nutrition, exercise and attitude.

The Sarasota, Fla.-based fitness instructor, cookbook author and motivational speaker has made it her mission to help others add vitality to their lives one positive change at a time.

And by shifting the focus from weight loss to energy, vitality and mental clarity, the 57-year-old woman hopes to make those changes stick.

On Monday, Pitchford will teach guests at the Fargo Women’s Health Conference how to implement healthy changes into their lives.

“My message is to trust the baby steps and to put small changes in place for long-range goals, not for short-range goals,” she says.

Q. What are some of the mistakes women make in the gym?

A. No. 1 is just thinking they can’t do it, when in fact, they can.

The second thing that happens is not listening to their bodies and pushing too hard, trying to keep up with the person next to them.

I’m always checking on form. … Form would be the third thing, for sure.

Q: Do you think rest days are as important as workout days?

A: Oh yes, I do.

You can work out five or six days in a row if it’s very moderate and you’re really not pushing your limits.

But, like I said, a lot of people like to hit it hard – heavy weights for lots of reps – and you get sore muscles from that, which is an OK sign, but you must give it a day for the muscle to heal.

Otherwise, you keep ripping it and ripping it and it never gets a chance to heal, so it’s counterproductive.

Q: How can you tell whether you pushed yourself too hard?

A: You can’t always tell the day of. Sometimes you can, but oftentimes it’s the next day.

When you can’t use the full length of the muscle for natural mobility, then you know you pushed it a little too hard.

It’s OK to do that once in a while, but make sure that rest day is in there.

Q: What are some of the best ways to fuel a workout?

A: If you do an early-morning workout, for example, you don’t necessarily need any food in your stomach. You can kind of go off of what’s stored from the night before.

But if it’s later in the day – or later in the morning, even – an hour before a workout, have an easily digested carbohydrate, meaning a piece of fruit or whole-wheat toast, something light.

Assuming you have plenty of muscle storage and protein in your system, you don’t really need to eat something like an egg or peanut butter beforehand.

Q: What about afterward?

A: If you’re strength-building or you’ve done a muscle-work class and you want your muscle to repair quickly, then within an hour after class, have a nice combination of carbohydrate, protein and a little bit of fat.

You’ve probably heard that low-fat chocolate milk is a great after-workout snack.

Or a turkey sandwich with lots of lettuce and tomato, whole-wheat bread and a little bit of turkey – sort of the pharmacy for your muscles.

Q: What’s a good ratio of cardio to strength training?

A: It’s hard enough to get somebody to do any kind of a workout regime, so you don’t want to make it any more intimidating or time-consuming than it already is.

But for good weight maintenance and cardio health, you should do cardio every day.

Cardio, to a lot of people, sounds like sweating bullets, high impact, running fast, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s anything to get your heart rate up.

For strength training, the minimum should be two, the real average is three times a week, and I would not go more than five times a week.

Q: Making time to exercise is a challenge. What are some ways to fit it in?

A: It’s the biggest challenge.

When I get up in the morning, I do five minutes of a yoga routine, and then halfway through the day, I make sure to take the stairs or do a few squats or push-ups.

Then later in the day, a walk after dinner is enough.

Little chunks of time throughout the day … Studies are showing that that’s very effective, especially for a nation that doesn’t move much.

Q: What are some ways to get off a weight-loss plateau?

A: I don’t focus on weight loss for anybody’s goals, believe it or not, because we’ve all been so programmed for that.

I like to emphasize eating and moving for cellular health. … Just start at the baseline of the human body and what it needs to perform and to feel good.

When people are eating healthy and exercising for the goal of living a life with vitality, weight will probably shed and you’ll settle into a body that’s good for you. It looks different on everybody.

Q: How important is stress reduction to overall health?

A: It is as important as diet and exercise.

Like you need nutritional food for cell health, reducing stress and bringing fun into your life literally enlivens and creates a healthy cell as well.

I think finding the fun in life, looking forward to an event, even the anticipation of doing something that you enjoy sets to work the healing mechanism in the body.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

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