Engage In Life – Easy Moves To Challenge The Body

I read an interesting statement the other day. THE BODY ADAPTS DOWN. This makes sense when you think about how smart our bodies are.  They can adapt to the most strenuous situations and challenges, so the opposite must be true, too.

If we are physically inactive, muscles become smaller, bones become thinner, hormone production decreases, cellular conversion of energy gets lazy — nature chooses disintegration.

 We are looking at buying a new car, so I turn to the car analogy. Even the most expensive, luxury car won’t run after being left in a garage for too long without use. The batteries will go dead, the tires will go flat. Similarly, a person whose heart, lungs and muscles have gone flat isn’t going to be able to do much.

To avoid this dead battery syndrome, keep yourself active by keeping your body engaged in life.

I’m not talking about extreme exercise, or spending hours at the gym every day, but regular activities that promote deep breathing, sweating, and keeping muscles toned. Walking (especially uphill), swimming, bicycling, resistance training, even just deep breathing are all good activities. How about playing/running with the kids, sweeping the pool (twice maybe), or mopping the floor for that matter, doing some sit-ups or push-ups while you watch your favorite show, get creative, but get moving. Here are a few more suggestions to start you off.

Push-ups – Okay, probably not the most favorite exercise for many people, but there are different ways to do push-ups that don’t make them so hard. You don’t need to pretend you’re “Rocky”, and do them with one hand; just do what works for you. Do them on your knees, instead of keeping your legs straight. Or, do them standing up against a wall. You will be building up arm strength and working out muscles in your chest area.

Jumping Jacks – Does this bring back memories of third grade P.E.? These are always fun, as they bring back memories of being a kid! Well, surprise – they are also great cardio exercises, and good for warming up, too.

Leg Lifts – Leg lifts are great for building up strength and muscles in your legs. Just like with push-ups, there are a few variations. If you find it hard to do the exercises with your legs straight, try bending them slightly.

Dancing – Dancing is a wonderful exercise, which is great for your heart. Not only that, but it can lift your spirits as well, especially if you do some silly and crazy moves with the kids. Crank up the tunes and get moving.

Jogging In Place – Jogging is a great exercise for your heart. You can jog in place at home while watching TV or listening to music. The only equipment you will require is a good pair of shoes, to eliminate any stress to your legs. Mix it up with some high knees.

Squats – Squats are the “go to” exercise for your legs and buttocks. To get the technique down, you can even try these by sitting and standing up again from a regular chair.

The body is a smart cookie, so use this to your advantage by challenging your body and keep it moving to ensure that your body adapts up instead of down.

Workout To The Max – Avoid These Three Mistakes

      If you ask my husband, I am somewhat of a control freak.  My kids call it a KIADIA (know it all, do it all).  I am trying to work on this and lighten up a bit, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

The gym is no different, as I am constantly critiquing people and telling them how to do each exercise better. Well, in my mind at least.

I have a list of pet peeves. Things I see people doing at the gym that make me crazy. I feel sorry for them a lot of times, because they make the effort to get to the gym at 5:00 AM, yet they don’t live up to their full potential. So here is a list of my top three.

1. Resting way too long in between sets
If you go to the gym for a little relaxation and socializing, then that is one thing, but if you are there to work your body, then you want to keep that heart rate elevated to keep burning fat. A general rule is taking 30 to 60 seconds to rest before you move on. It will keep you in the fat burning zone, and as an added bonus you are done faster.

2. Forgetting the range of motion
For most exercises, it is important to go through the entire range of motion. The worst offenders are the people doing bicep curls without fully extending their arms.  I’m not sure what muscles they are working, but it is definitely not biceps. Using that full range of motion will challenge your muscles to the max and your results will show it.

3. Minding everything except your muscles
Don’t just go through the motions of exercise. Give it 100% of your effort, by feeling the muscle working. Making that mind muscle connection will intensify your workout by paying attention to the task at hand. If you are doing a set of 12 reps, you should be struggling by rep 11. If that final rep is not a challenge, it is time to add more weight.

If you are going to do it, do it to the max.

SMART Semantics

Are you setting yourself up for failure due to semantics? No more “resolutions”.

The dictionary says a Resolution is a formal expression of intent .

The dictionary says a Goal is an objective toward which effort is directed.

So What?

Is a “Resolution” merely saying something out loud that we want to do?

Does a “Goal” imply that a certain amount of effort or action is required to achieve it?

Any goal you set – whether it’s during the New Year or anytime of the year – should be measurable and achievable. Many people will resolve to change something in their lives, but have no way to measure it’s success. You can’t have a resolution that says: “Exercise more” because there’s no way to determine if you’ve ever actually achieved it.

Instead you need to have a specific task list that allows you to achieve your goal . You could set the goal as: “Exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 30 minutes each day.” — that is a measurable goal and you’ll know immediately if you have achieved it or not.

Need some help setting your goals? The SMART system is a great place to start.

Goals must be:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Specific
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy.

Measurable
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, adjust your course for changes and stay on track to reach your goals.

Attainable
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

Realistic
Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.” The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment.

Timely
Set a time frame for the goal: for next week, in three months, in one year, etc. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Happy New Year and Happy Goal Setting!

Math 101

The other day, I had someone ask me the best way to lose weight. I told her that it is all about the math. If you eat too many calories, you are going to gain weight. If you want to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories or burn more calories. End of story.

Then someone else joined the conversation and said, “And it is also the type of calories you eat, right?” From a purely mathematical perspective, the type of calories isn’t important. If you eat 5000 calories of healthy, organic, low fat food, you will gain weight. If you eat 5000 calories of chocolate cake, you will gain weight, but the cake will also do more harm to your body than just weight gain, but the weight gain will be the same.

Don’t confuse eating healthy with eating to lose weight. The two definitely go hand in hand, but pure weight loss is all about consuming less calories. You can eat healthy and become healthier without losing any weight. But if weight loss is your goal, you must cut calories. Some people think that if they just eat healthy foods or add a fruit or vegetable, it will be enough to cause them to lose weight. However, if they are eating the same amount of calories or more,… no weight loss. They may lower their cholesterol or reverse heart damage, but no weight loss.

I know that I have written posts about adding one piece of fruit a day or one veggie a day, and this is a great way to jump start healthier eating practices which usually leads to cutting calories as well, but in the end it is all about the math. Eat fewer calories or burn more calories or both.

It took me 25 years to figure this out, but I didn’t realize how critical the math aspect was to diet and exercise until very recently. I have always had a fairly healthy diet, but now that I am acutely aware of the numbers, it takes the guess work out of a lot of menu items. It also has made me allow myself to have an “unhealthy treat” now and then. If a sweet potato and a peanut butter cookie have the same amount of calories, sometimes I choose the cookie and I don’t feel guilty.

So, click on the Calorie Need Calculator under Links to find out your where your numbers need to be. With the right math, you will be losing weight in no time.

The New Year’s Resolution Article… Already?

OK, so here it is. The article about the ubiquitous New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. Really? Already?

(Like Andy Cohen says…) Here’s What –

The majority of people will gain 7 or more pounds just during the holidays. It is so easy to eat that cookie or piece of fudge, drink a glass of egg nog, or have a plate full of fried appetizers at the Christmas party because you are thinking that your diet starts on January 1st. Everyone does it. I had sweet and salty chocolate covered toffee for breakfast. (It may have been the best toffee I have ever eaten, and for those of you who read my blog, that is a number one rule for “bad calories”.) Anyway, back to my point.

So if you are like most of my clients who have around 10 or more pounds to lose already, then you gain an extra 7 during December, on January 1st things may look a little daunting.

What happens so many times is that people will lose a few pounds in January, maybe even the entire 7 or the entire 10, but then our busy life kicks in and we haven’t had time to really build those healthy habits to make them part of our everyday routine. In February and March you find yourself exactly where you were before the holidays, or even heavier. The motivation of a New Year’s Resolution doesn’t seem to be there anymore, and you go through the rest of the year 10 pounds over weight.

Sound familiar? How many years have you done this? This year try something new! START NOW! Start building those good habits of eating right and exercising TODAY! You don’t have to go crazy, because there will be a lot of temptation over the next few weeks. Enjoy your favorites, but start practicing good habits NOW. I double dog dare you.

Step 1
It is really important to set an attainable goal. Returning to your high school weight is probably not a realistic goal, but getting into healthy habits certainly is. While setting a goal is important, it must be attainable, or you are setting yourself up for failure and frustration.

Step 2
Create a specific plan before you begin. Will you count calories? Go high protein, low carb? How often will you exercise, and what type of exercise will you do? Walk every evening? Go to the gym and lift weights before work? When you improvise, you will often find that you slip up on a regular basis, and, even though you feel like you’re on a diet, you’re not actually losing weight.

Step 3
Have a plan B. Decide what you will do when you head to a friend’s wedding, a business lunch, or make cookies with the kids. Constantly depriving yourself sets you up to binge. If you indulge at every special occasion, you will have trouble losing weight.
Step 4
Build in non-food rewards. Whether you want to lose 10 pounds or 50, it is important to reward yourself for staying on plan. Don’t use these rewards as an excuse to slip on your diet. Reward yourself for staying on your plan for a specific amount of time, with a manicure, a great new pair of jeans, or a night at the movies with your friends.

Step 5
Seek out support. Friends, family members or coworkers can all provide you with support on your weight loss goal. (I know this great girl who loves to help people reach their health and fitness goals. Yes, shameful self promotion.) Tell about your plan and ask for support. Most will be more than happy to ask how the diet is going, encourage you to exercise or simply listen to you complain when the pounds don’t melt off as quickly as you want. Many of them will also have similar goals, so you have an instant support system.

Step 6
Focus on your weight loss. This is a big one! It is tempting to use the New Year as a time to revamp your life, but it takes a great deal of emotional energy to create a new habit. If you are serious about losing weight, don’t set other goals, such as getting up earlier, reading more or anything else to distract you from your goal. Concentrate on one resolution at a time. After you are comfortable with your new routine, you can always try adding something else.

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