Exercise in Everyday Activities

The body burns calories 24/7, even while asleep, so how do every day activities stack up against traditional exercise when it comes to burning calories?

We all burn calories during our daily routines, and there’s even a name for it — non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). It’s the energy we use for everything (not including sleeping, eating, or sports-like exercise) from walking up stairs to texting.

Everyday activities might seem mundane, but they can be an opportunity to burn some extra calories — no gym required.

But can these NEAT activities really count as exercise? Don‘t give up the gym membership yet; for most people, daily activities such as shopping or housework don’t get the body working hard enough to get the heart rate up, or engage the muscles enough to count toward the CDC exercise guidelines.  However, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good way to sneak in some easy calorie burning. Every little bit help.

There are many opportunities each day to boost the calorie burn, so turn off the auto pilot and get in the habit of doing daily activities with more speed, energy, and intensity.

  1. Stride Right — whether it’s shopping for groceries at the market or a new pair of shoes at the mall, shopping means walking, and walking burns calories. Walking for 30 minutes can burn over 120 calories, and by picking up the pace the burn can be over 150 calories. Park as far away from the entrance as possible to add some distance to the walk, and just say no to elevators and escalators. Take the stairs to burn an extra five calories per minute.
  2. Do the Vacuum while vacuuming — the exercise is called the vacuum, and it’s an easy addition to any vacuuming (or sweeping) routine.  Take in a big breath and fill the lungs with air. While breathing out, draw the belly button in toward the spine.  The dust bunnies are gone and the core muscles get a workout all at the same time. And adding some vigor to the vacuuming will not only get it done quicker, but it will burn a few extra calories too.
  3. Bottoms up — kitchen activities, like cooking and doing the dishes, may only  burn around 75 calories, but add in some gluteus Maximus isometrics (read: squeezing the butt), while chopping those veggies or washing posts and pans, and the backside gets a workout too.
  4. Sitting on an (isometric) goldmine — Sitting in a class, a meeting, or at a desk may only burn around 49 calories, but it doesn’t mean those muscles aren’t able to do some too. Work the shoulders by crunching them toward the ears. Add in some butt squeezes and vacuum abs, and let the muscle toning begin.
  5. Wax on, wax off — washing the car can burn 135 calories in 30 minutes, but add in a few sets of calf raises to reach the top of the car, along with a few sets of squats to wash the tires, and the legs get a workout, too. Bonus: Saving some cash by ditching an expensive carwash.

Fuel Up – What To Eat Before You Workout

Plenty of energy and a calm stomach are two keys to a great workout.

Not sure what and when to eat before you exercise? Here are a few of my faves that have ideal amounts of carbs and protein to keep you fueled up. Bonus—they’re easy to prepare.

Oatmeal: It settles well and provides long-lasting energy, while added fruit will hit the bloodstream quickly to get you going. I add a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of flaxseed to mine with a slash of milk to cool it down.

A whole-wheat bagel with jam: “Simple carbs burn quickly, like paper, while complex carbs burn like wood and take a little longer to provide energy. An easy-to-digest whole-grain bagel with jam or a drizzle of honey combines both types of carbs. It’s an easy way to fuel your workout from start to finish.

Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt contains substantial protein and carbs, and less sugar than the regular kind, and unless you’re lactose intolerant, it’s easy on the stomach, which is ideal before intense activity or bouncing exercises like Zumba or plyometrics. Add fruit, honey, or ¼ cup of whole-grain cereal for an extra energy kick.

Protein shake with added carbs: Premade protein shake mixes are an easy on-the-go snack, and a good way to reap protein’s benefits while adding carbs to stay energized. Aim for a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio with 10 to 20 grams of protein. I use a shake powder with water (juice is also a good choice), and a banana or other fruit to provide carbs.

Brown rice with chicken: If you tend to exercise later in the day, try to avoid rich, fatty foods. Although a simple dish of brown rice with chicken may be a little bland, it sits well and provides a good amount of carbs and protein. Brown rice is a much better source of complex carbs than is white rice.

Bread with cheese or egg: A slice of whole-wheat bread with low-fat cheese, is easy on the stomach too, and it provides protein and slow-release carbs. Or, as an alternative, top toast with scrambled eggs.

Timing is everything. Even the best foods can come back to haunt you mid-workout if not allowed to properly digest, so it’s best to eat 30 minutes to an hour before you work out—longer after heavy meals. While certain foods settle well and hit the bloodstream quickly, exercising on a full stomach can still make you feel sluggish. Worse, it can cause stomach cramps, because exercise pulls blood away from stomach to the muscles.

If you can’t wait more than 45 minutes between meal and workout, remember that it’s always better to have a small snack (easily digestible, simple-carb snack like yogurt or fruit) rather than exercise on an empty stomach, and then and eat a full meal after exercising.

Achieve Physical Confidence

Everyone pretty much knows that exercise does a body good, and as mortal humans, we need to exercise. There are 100s of reasons to exercise including  improved heart health, living longer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, weight control, and increased bone and muscle strength… just to name a few of my favorites.

Some exercise is better than none, more exercise is generally better than less, and no exercise can be disastrous. But just in case you need a few more reasons, here you go.

Self-confidence relates to our self–assuredness in our personal judgment, ability, and self-worth. Exercise is an important tool that helps us achieve physical confidence. Beyond day-to-day energy demands, the ability to be physically fit and able to meet any physical situation is very empowering.

Here are 7 ways in which exercise boosts confidence:

Sense of Achievement: Exercise is great for giving you the feeling that you have done something rather than just sitting around.

Change of Mindset: Stressed out? Lost in anxious and negative thoughts? Doing physical exercise can shake this mindset and make you feel confident and positive.

Enhanced well-being: When you exercise, the body releases chemical substances known as endorphins which relieve stress and make you feel good psychologically. This will absolutely boost your confidence because you physically feel better. It’s like nature’s Prozac.

Appearance: Exercise tones you up and can enhance any body shape. Feeling attractive and good about the way you look pumps up your self-confidence.

Anchors Ahoy: Exercise acts as a reliable anchor point and can make you feel in charge. When it feels like you are in control of nothing, one thing you can control is how to be active. Make the choice to exercise and enjoy being in charge of at least one thing during your day.

  The Social Butterfly Effect: Whether it is joining a gym, walking in the neighborhood park, attending a yoga or dance class, exercise gives us the opportunity to meet new people. New friends can be a great self-confidence boost.

 Competition: Exercises can ignite that competitive you. Challenge yourself to work out harder, run farther, or do an extra rep, lift a heavier weight, or even try a new exercise class. Going past your limit makes you feel on the top of the world.

 

Having a Plan Will Help You Lose Weight

Plan, Plan, Plan.  It is one of the most important things when it comes to losing weight (kind of like location, location, location in real estate).

Having a plan can help you lose weight. When you plan your menu for the entire day (or week), it takes the guesswork out of what to eat. When lunchtime roles around, there is no temptation to go grab a slice of pizza or Big Mac.

What’s for dinner? Rather than adding more stress to your day, with a plan you have one less thing to worry about. Tip: Plan dinners that you’ll look forward to eating. Just make sure they are healthy.

One critical part to your plan is deciding how many calories you should be eating:

To calculate your calorie goal:

Your current weight x 12 = calories/day needed to maintain your current weight

 To lose 1 pound/week: Cut 500 calories/day.

 To lose 2 pounds/week: Cut 1,000 calories/day.

Caution: Don’t go under 1,200 calories a day because  it’s hard to get the nutrients you need with that little food.

Write what you bite. I know this sounds time consuming, but I know it works. After years (and years) of poo pooing the whole food journal thing, it was the one thing that really jump started my weight loss after having kids.  Write it down or track it online —what you ate, how much, and the calories it contained. At the end of the day, do the math.

 When you’re planning your menus, make sure you are accurately sizing up portions. Studies show that almost everyone (fat, thin, young, old, smart, etc.) underestimates how much they’re eating by as much as 20%-40% .

Try these three easy tips to measure and plan your portions — no measuring cups required:

1. Compare things: 3 ounces of meat or protein is about the size of a deck of cards, and a 1/4 cup is the size of a golf ball. http://fitchicktricks.com/what-does-200-calories-look-like/

2. Use your hand: for small-framed women, 1 teaspoon is about the size of the tip of your thumb, 1 tablespoon is the size of your thumb and 1 cup is the size of your fist.

3. Measure once: when you’re at home, you’re using the same bowls and utensils over and over again. Find out how much they hold. Measure out the amount of soup that your ladle holds. If it’s ½ cup then you’ll know forever that two scoops equal an appropriate 1 cup serving. And once you know that one serving of cereal reaches only halfway up your bowl, you’ll know to stop there each time.

The small amount of time it takes to plan is nothing compared to the big benefits to your weight loss goals. Remember: Plan, plan, plan.

Diet Tips to Avoid – The Not So Fab Five

It’s not always easy to decide which diet tips to follow. And there are a lot of tips out there, but here are five common weight loss strategies that you should really avoid.    

Missing Meals 

If you are skipping meals because you think it is a good way to reduce calories, think again. Cutting calories is definitely key to weight loss, but missing out on meals can mess with your metabolism. When you wait too long to eat, your body reacts by slowing down your metabolism and halt weight loss. If your schedule is the issue  and you’re simply too busy to sit down and eat a full meal, store small  snacks in your purse, desk or car to eat throughout the day so that you can keep your  metabolism moving.

Saying Goodbye to Entire Food Groups

Giving up entire food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies, and can also trigger cravings for whatever food has been cut out. So for example, rather than eliminating all carbohydrates, focus on quality carbs like whole grains.  And remember to watch your portions. It’s usually the serving size that adds to your weight gain, not the bread or pasta.

All Cardio, All the Time 

If you live on the treadmill, eleiptical, or in a spin class, but never pick up a weight, you’re missing out on an important piece of the fitness puzzle. Not only does weight training build and tone muscles, it also strengthens the joints and increases metabolic rate. And thanks to a revved up metabolism, you’ll keep burning calories even after you’ve slipped off your sneakers.

Exercising on Empty

When you work out on an empty stomach, you burn calories from muscle, not fat. It’s important to fuel your body before exercising, because you will avoid losing that oh-so important muscle, and you’ll have more energy to push yourself through your workout at a more intense rate. End result — you get a better workout and burn more fat calories. Just choose your pre-workout meal wisely. Click here for some ideas.

Skimping on Sleep 

This one may be the hardest one. Making time to exercise can mean less time for sleep, but it’s important to get that shut-eye when you’re trying to lose weight. You need extra energy to keep up with your exercise routine, and skimping on sleep can actually affect your body’s ability to control appetite. Too little sleep increases an appetite-stimulating hormone, so when you don’t get enough ZZZZs, it may be easier to be tempted and overindulge.

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