Category: Get Moving

Mesomorph, Ectomorph, or Endomorph – YOUR GENETIC DECK of CARDS

Mesomorph, Ectomorph, or Endomorph – YOUR GENETIC DECK of CARDS

Today at the gym there was someone new. Since I work out at the same time and see the same people every day, it is easy to spot a new person. This girl definitely stood out because she was ripped. Her muscle definition is awesome. Boy, I wish I looked like that.

We’ve all done it: checked out the girl (or guy) next to us on the peck deck or treadmill and compared our bodies to theirs. (I wish I had those biceps, or Why doesn’t my butt look like that?) It is human nature to compare and obsess about our own “perceived” physical inadequacies.

As I continued to check this new girl out, I started to notice that her body type was completely different from mine. Even though she has an amazing body that I wish I had, my body could never look like that – ever. Not because of lack of trying, but because of genetics.
I started to appreciate my own physique as well as hers, but my feelings of inadequacy went away.

It is really important to recognize and embrace the genetic deck of cards you’re shuffling. Once you realize what you can and can’t change about your body, it will become easier to positively visualize your physical potential.

First, know your body type. You’ve heard it before: There are three body types: mesomorph, ectomorph, and endomorph. Ectomorphs are thin, mesomorphs are more muscular, and endomorphs tend to be on the overweight side. Most people straddle two categories, such as a meso-endomorph, or meso-ectomorph. You might think you can figure out what body type you are simply by looking at yourself, but it’s never really that easy. Next time you are at the doctor’s office, ask your doctor which body type you fall under and you might just be surprised.

Another factor that affects your figure is bone size. Get a quick general assessment of your bone structure by wrapping your hand around your wrist. If your fingers don’t touch, you’re probably big boned; if they just touch, you’re medium-boned; if they overlap, you’re likely small-boned. Obviously, you can’t change the size of the bones you were born with, but you can let your bone size be a guide to your body weight. In general, if you’re smaller-boned, you should be at the lighter end of the weight range for your height; bigger-boned people may fall at the top weight range for their height… and this is okay.

Now that you know what you’re dealing with physiologically, here are some ways to boost your mental body image:

1. Pick appropriate body role models. Men who grew up hoping to have Arnold’s buff build—but ended up slightly smaller—should work towards a more reasonable (but still healthy) body, like Lance Armstrong. If a woman were big-boned, she’d be setting herself up for certain disappointment by aspiring to look like Jennifer Anniston. Instead, she might want to aim for a body more like Tyra Banks, who’s body type may be more similar to hers.

2. Separate how you feel about your body from how you feel about other things that are going on in your life. Feeling dissatisfied with your career or relationship can make it easier to feel negatively about your body.

3. Look at your parents and grandparents for a guide to your body’s potential. If you come from a long line of jockeys, football may not be your best sport. Pick an activity that reflects and highlights your talents.

4. Ask yourself if you’ve ever been attracted to or fallen in love with someone who doesn’t have the “perfect” body. It’s important to challenge yourself when you get into the train of thought that you have to look perfect; you attract people and are attracted to people not because of perfection but because of a number of things.

5. Give your self-esteem a boost. Self-esteem isn’t about men and women talking about how special they are. It’s about success. Can you successfully handle your emotions, your goals? The better we can handle life, the less we make our body an exaggerated issue. It’s easy to project the bad feelings you have about yourself onto your body.

6. Determine your body image by the positive body behaviors you engage in each day. Recognize the things you do that make you feel good about yourself. That might be buying a healthy lunch instead of opting for junk food, exercising, moisturizing your skin faithfully, taking some quiet time for yourself, anything that makes you feel good about yourself.

SO YOU DON’T WANT TO EXERCISE TODAY….

SO YOU DON’T WANT TO EXERCISE TODAY….

Think about the after effects:
This is how I convince myself to not go back to bed when the alarm goes off at 4:14 a.m. I do this every single day. I never think about the actual act of exercising. I think about the after effects. I keep in mind how great I will feel after I’m done working out. On the flip side, I think about how disappointed and angry I will be with myself later in the morning for not exercising. I also think about my post-exercise routine, which is taking a nice shower and having a great cup of coffee while in my pajamas after the kids go to school.

Get dressed:
I work out in the morning, but many people exercise after work. When you get home, change into your “gym” clothes. This way, there’s one less obstacle standing in your way of exercising. When we’re tasked with something we don’t want to do or think we are unable to do, we count and dread each step required. By changing into your workout clothes as soon as you get home, you’re ready to jump onto the treadmill without any contemplation.

Change it up:
You may not have the urge to exercise today because you’re tired or burntout. One of the best ways to rejuvenate your exercise routine is to switch itup. I do the elliptical almost every day, and some days it is dreadful. On those days when I feel like I might not do cardio, I let myself off the hook from doing the elliptical and I do something different or new. I take a cardio kick boxing class or alternate the rowing machine and stair climber instead. Some days I will go swimming. Do something that you haven’t done before and add that to your exercise mix.

Do anything:
If nothing works motivating you to exercise, at the very least do something.Walk for 5 or 10 minutes, ride a bike down the street, anything. This keepsyour routine of working out everyday going, gets your blood flowing faster,elevates your heart rate, and is just overall good for you. You also may end up doing more than you think you can once you get moving.

PSYCHOLOGY of a SMART DIET – 9 Tips for Smart Eating

PSYCHOLOGY of a SMART DIET – 9 Tips for Smart Eating

As you know, I am always trying to find the newest info on all things having to do with fitness and nutrition. It is harder than you think. I end up reading many articles that say the same thing and discuss the same concepts that have been written about for over a decade. Blah, blah, blah.

However, I recently read an article on FitClick. This is one of my “go to” sites. It is also a great site if you want to participate in an interactive type online fitness system.

Here is the gist of the article:

The article talks about eating habits. We all have them. Some are good. Some are bad. One of the most important things you can do to ensure success when it come to weight loss is maintain good eating habits.

Are you the type of person to shovel snacks into your mouth while at the computer or t.v., barely noticing the taste or amount of the food you’re eating? Do you still believe it’s a crime not to finish everything on your plate? I call this the starving kids in China syndrome. My dad used to say this quite often. Then as we got older, he changed it to “waste not want not”. I heard this all my life… actually as recently as last Sunday. Some eating habits make it impossible to take off those extra pounds because they are so ingrained you aren’t even conscious of them.

The good news: You can absolutely learn to break these old patterns and substitute better ones, which is a key ingredient to a successful diet. Even better news: In time, these healthy routines will become such a part of your life, they will be second nature. That means not only can you lose the weight but you can keep it off, too.

Here are nine tips: some are so crazy they just might work!

1) Less is more.”If you eat less often, it will become a smaller issue in your life,” says James Rosen, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of University of Vermont’s Weight Control Program. “Contrary to popular belief, ‘grazing,’ or eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day, isn’t a good way to lose weight for people with self-control issues. The more often you eat, the more you expect food is going to be available, and the more you think that it’s okay to eat whenever and wherever you feel like it.”

I have gotten caught up in this trap, and it is very easy to end up eating way more calories than you realize. So, if you know you are one of those people with self-control issues, decide on your eating times—not more than three or four times a day—and don’t eat in between, no matter the size of the snack.

2) Declare a No-Food Zone. Decide on the eating places in your house—just your dining room table, for example—and declare other places No Food Zones. If you have a habit of eating in your car, in front of the television, or while you’re at the computer, make those No Food Zones—even for healthy snacks. If you train yourself to eat only in very specific situations, you will learn to control food cravings outside of normal meal times.

3) Remember: Location, Location, Location.”Make sure that you eat your meals in one certain place,” recommends Robert Jamison, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and an associate professor at Harvard Medical school. “When you have a craving, tell yourself you can have whatever you want, but you have to eat it in an unusual place—like the bathroom or garage—that doesn’t have familiar environmental cues like the couch in the TV room.” So, if you really want that hot fudge sundae go ahead and eat it, but eat it in the garage,” says Jamison. It won’t be as much fun, so you might stop and think about whether you’re eating it because you’re hungry, because of a craving, because you had a long day and you think you deserve it, or because you’re watching your favorite show. The more conscious you are of what you are doing, the more chance that you’ll make changes.”

This tip sounds a little crazy, but so crazy that it just might be the thing to change a bad eating habit. Definitely worth a try.

4) Make rules and stick to them.”To avoid calories, you can simply establish a rule for yourself: Never eat anything unless you bought it or asked for it,” explains Jamison. “That way, you won’t have to torture yourself every time someone brings cupcakes to work.” Not to mention birthday parties, goodbye parties, Valentine’s Day, Girl Scout cookie season, Halloween…

I love this one. In our house we are rule makers and rule followers, and very rarely do we deviate from the rules. This is probably because we have a 5 and 6 year old in the house. But really, I am a “slippery slope” type person. If I deviate today, what’s to say I won’t deviate next time, and the time after that… slippery slope. So I just stick to the rules, and make everyone else in the house stick to them as well.

5) Eat dessert first.This is for the dessert lovers.. You know who you are. Do you always vow to skip dessert but end up ordering it anyway once the waiter brings the dessert menu? Judith S. Stern, Sc.D., professor of nutrition and internal medicine at University of California says, “If you are going to eat dessert, eat it first.” Why? “Because of what is called the Thanksgiving Dinner Effect. You’re stuffed and can’t eat another bite—but then dessert comes, and you seem to all of a sudden be able to find room for a piece of pumpkin pie. So don’t try to avoid the inevitable. Eat dessert, but know that you must order less for the rest of your meal. You might get some stares, but so what?”

I love dessert, but I am not a dessert person because of calories and nutrition. Desserts are a once and a while special treat. If you are not generally a dessert person, this tip is not a free pass to start eating desserts.

6) Exercise before dinner.”Exercising temporarily decreases your appetite, so if you want to avoid overeating, work out before a meal,” says James O. Prochaska Ph.D., a clinical and health psychologist. “One of the reasons weight loss is so tough is that it’s not dependent on a single behavior, it’s about how much we eat and how many calories we burn up. The most common mistake people make is trying to simply reduce calories without exercising.”

This tip is also very compelling. It is not always practical to exercise before dinner, but what if you went for a short walk, jumped rope 100 times, did 100 sit-ups or 100 jumping jacks… just some short burst of exercise. Worth a try!

7) You’ve got your whole meal in your hand.”If you want to lose weight, the most important element is not what you eat—it’s how much you eat,” says George L. Blackburn, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School. “People don’t realize the volume of food they’re eating and the speed at which they’re eating it. To figure out how much you should be eating, put your hand over your plate and see how many palm- or fistfuls of food you have on it. A serving size of meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of the palm of your hand; your closed fist is the volume of one cup of pasta or rice. Don’t forget that you have your measuring device with you everywhere you go. Also make sure at least twenty minutes passes between the start and end of a meal—even if you have to get up and leave the table somewhere in between first and last bite.”

This is the “no excuses” tip. There is no excuse to not be aware of the serving size of every single thing you eat.

8) Eat mindfully.”Another source of people overeating is the hectic pace of life that afflicts virtually everyone,” says Michael Lowe, Ph.D., professor of clinical and health psychology at University in Philadelphia. “We get geared up, and eating becomes an afterthought; we simply grab things to eat along the way. So set aside half an hour of calm, relaxed, focused eating for each meal. Mindful eating—when you’re aware of what you’re choosing to eat and how much you are eating and when you are starting to feel full—is difficult when you’re grabbing what you can find and gobbling it in front of the television before running out the door to a meeting.”

If you are thinking that a calm, free, focused 1/2 hour is hard to come by several times a day, I call bull sh** (as my husband would say). You are not making a healthy diet your priority. If you really want to, you can set aside a 1/2 hour or even 20 minutes for each meal to ensure you are eating mindfully all day long.

9) Stay positive.”Analyze how you’re eating and exercising, but take a benevolent and accepting attitude,” says Dan Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., director of the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Chicago. “Don’t be moralistic. When you eat a piece of chocolate cake, don’t think of it as ‘cheating or failure’.’ Instead, focus on staying positive, and see your overeating as a problem to be solved, not as a moral transgression. Eating is your normal response to stimuli; it is tough to break established patterns and keep resisting it all the time. Keep fighting the good fight, don’t give up, be proud of any progress you’ve made.”

Consider these tips and start to incorporate them into your routine. Before you know it your good eating habits will far outweigh the bad.

Back to the starving kids for a minute… Have you ever heard of left overs? Instead of cleaning your plate until you are completely and painfully stuffed, save a little from each meal. At the end of the week you can have left over day. We do this every week. By Friday, we have a nice variety of food. A pork chop here, a hamburger patty there, some left over chicken, extra noodles. It is kind of fun because each person gets their favorite, or we all have a few bites of everything – a true smorgasbord. Think of the money you will save because you don’t have to buy food for an extra dinner…. you can send that money to your favorite country with starving kids.

3 Words to Maximize Fitness Results – Short. Intense. Change.

3 Words to Maximize Fitness Results – Short. Intense. Change.

I love weight training. I have been doing it for over 19 years, and I am always learning new ways to maximize my workouts and my results. Just walk into a bookstore or browse online and you’ll find all sorts of information on how to get the benefits of weight training, but there are a few steps you should follow no matter what your goals.

Step # 1: Make your workouts short. Weight training routines should never last more than one hour. Remember, you’re placing stress on the muscles as you lift weights. An hour is the maximum time to exercise without causing stress and possible injuries. Also, from a mental perspective, who wants to workout for more than an hour? If I knew I would be at the gym for more than an hour, I would start making excuses not to go.

Step # 2: Make your workout intense. During weight training sessions one of your goals should be to challenge your body, so it adapts by building new muscle cells and burning body fat. If you are going to take the time to lift weights, really make it worth your while. If you are lifting 2 pound dumbells and doing 20 reps and not feeling fatigued or tired, you are not working hard enough.

Step #3: Consistently change your weight training routines. Regardless of whether you are trying to burn fat, improve sports performance, boost your metabolism, get more tone, or become a body builder, change is a must. To reach your goals most effectively and work smarter, you must constantly challenge your body. Your body can adapt quickly to repetitive routines week after week. Adding more weight, changing the routine and changing the number of repetitions are all excellent ways to keep change in your weight training workouts. Not sure how to change it up? Check out this link for some cool ideas on acefitness.org.

Age Related Weight Gain – UGH!

Age Related Weight Gain – UGH!

Why do we start gaining weight as we age?

I know we like to think that 40 is the new 20, but weight increase is common, almost universal, as we reach middle age. However, while it may be almost inevitable, it is not healthy. Many people continue to eat the same amount of calories as they did a decade ago, and without a few tweaks in calorie consumption, most of us will gain weight.

As we get older, we lose muscle tissue. The most common reason why we need to eat fewer calories as we get older, is because our muscle mass tends to decrease. Between the ages of 30 and 70 years, muscle tissue shrinks on average by about 30 per cent in most people. The reason for this is simple lack of exercise. The problem is, muscle requires more energy to sustain than fat does. So the less muscle we have, the fewer calories we need, and any extra calories (energy) we take in will be stored as fat. Hormonal changes may also slow down our metabolic rate and cause a drop in calorie needs.

How much weight do we gain with age?
The age-related reduction in muscle tissue leads to an average weight increase of about 5 pounds per decade for men or 3.5 pounds per decade for women. When you look at those numbers, they do not seem too threatening, but if you do the math it adds up. I would also bet that those numbers are on the low side. Think about all the people you went to high school or college with. How many are overweight, obese?

I think that most people would be surprised that the average weight gain is 5 pounds per decade. I can’t tell you how many times I hear someone lament about gaining weight with age. I think that most people have heard that everyone gains weight as they get older, so it is used as an excuse. Since “everyone is doing it”, people are not concerned when they put on 20 or 30 extra pounds instead of just 5.

If you are close to your desired weight, it’s easy to reduce mid-life weight gain. To minimize the risk of age related weight increase, all we need to do is eat about 50-100 fewer calories per day, or increase our calorie burning by about 50-100 calories a day. In the whole scheme of things, 50-100 calories is nothing. That is an easy change to make by cutting out one sugary drink per day, skip the butter every day, cut you portion to 2/3 cup instead of a whole cup. You will hardly miss those few extra calories. Check out these 50 ways to cut 100 calories per day.

 

The Do and Don’ts for Avoiding Exercise Burnout

The Do and Don’ts for Avoiding Exercise Burnout

images[1]Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. Thanks Wikipedia!

We all experience burnout whether it’s at work, home, with family, friends, diet, and even exercise, maybe especially exercise.

Consider how many gym memberships purchased in January go unused in July, or how all you can think about is a cheeseburger two weeks into a new diet plan. Burnout can happen over years or in a matter of days.

Certain habits or lack of certain habits will accelerate the burnout process.

 

So if you don’t want to suffer from exercise burnout….

DO NOT Wing It

Failing to plan is planning to fail, as the saying goes, and creating lofty, long-term goals without establishing checkpoints along the way is failing to plan. Shoot for the moon, but include intermediate and short-term goals to assure that you remain on track to achieve your long-term goals.

Example:

Long-term goal: I will finish a marathon this year.

Intermediate goal: I will finish a half marathon within the next six months.

Short-term goal: Within the next week, I will jog three times for a minimum of 10 minutes each run.

Writing goals down (on paper, using a smart phone app or online software program) is an absolute must.

DO NOT Forget to Self-Assess

Your goal-setting process should include assessing weak links in the chain and how to address them. Using the example above of planning to finish a marathon, short-term goals could include completing some form of a fitness test, such as a one-mile run for time, gait analysis, nutrition consultation, body composition analysis, etc.

Example:

Short-term Goal No. 2: Within the next two weeks, I will complete a one-mile run for time to assess my current fitness status.

Intermediate goals should re-evaluate these tests every few weeks to validate your exercise regimen and determine what tweaks you may need to make. Modifying goals along the way (to account for “life”) is a  key to achievement and  sustained motivation. Altering your long-term goals can also be critical; for example, switching from the full marathon to the half marathon two weeks before a race is better than not showing up at all.

DO NOT Skimp on Sleep

Research suggests those who sleep less than six hours per night are at greater risk for burnout. Too little sleep can cause fatigue, impaired mental function and increased sensitivity to stress, as well as decreased motivation and physical performance. In a busy world, we seem to prioritize so much at the expense of ZZZs. There are usually enough excused to go around for not exercising, don’t add “too tired” to the list.

DO Take Time to Truly Relax

Multiple experts agree that a key to avoiding burnout from your job is being able to turn off work when you get home. Likewise, tuning out from exercise from time to time is essential to maintaining a long-term fitness program. Expert coaches suggest taking at least one day per week completely off from structured exercise and including another day or two of restorative activities (yoga, hikes, naps and Sunday football couch potato-ing all count as restoration). Every few months, take an entire week off, and just relax.

DO Find a Sport You Enjoy

Some people hate running – I would not suggest a marathon training program for those individuals. The key to longevity of an activity or fitness program is enjoyment; sometimes you must ignore what your friends are doing or the most popular class at your gym, and simply do what makes you happy. If it makes you sweat and also makes you smile, it’s the right activity for you. I still have a Groupon for 4 Pilate’s classes hanging over my head, because my friends think Pilate’s is great…. I am a gym rat and always will be.

DO NOT Overdo It

A fine line exists between what fitness experts call over-reaching and over-training. Over-reaching involves applying the overload principle to exercise, i.e. increasing the intensity, duration and/or frequency of exercise to create positive stress on your body that will gradually result in fitness gains. When over-reaching, you should feel tired and sore, but two to three days of adequate recovery should cure that.

Over-training occurs when the increase in physical activity is too much and recovery is insufficient. It can involve loss of sleep, lethargy, injury and a lack of fitness gains despite an increased workload. When in doubt, listen to your body – go hard when you feel good, and rest up when you feel overworked.

DO NOT Live for Repetition

Imposing the exact same stress demand on our bodies habitually does not result in positive gains. Doing the same activities each day or the same exercise routine will lead to a physical plateau and eventual mental burnout. Not to mention it gets really boring! Even if you’re a creature of habit, add variety to your favorite activity… it may be a change of scenery, faster or slower run times, switching up the free weights for machines, taking a Zumba class instead of Yoga, or whatever.. A change of pace and scenery may keep your muscles honest and your mind fresh.

The path toward burnout is can be averted. Self-assessment, goal planning, adequate sleep and recovery, variety and, most importantly, enjoyment can keep you pointed in the direction of lifelong fitness and goal accomplishment.

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