Keepin It Simple – 4 Easy Ways to Stay on Track in 2015

keep it simple

Happy New Year! and Happy New Year Resolutions! What will it be this year? Losing weight, gaining health, getting fit, building muscle, exercise more, eat less. Whatever your goals, one of the best strategies for success is  to Keep It Simple.

Here are my four favorite tips for any health and fitness related goals –

1.  Don’t Stress Out!  Stressing out about “how bad” you ate over the last 4 days, or how little you exercised is NOT going to help you lose the weight.  Nope, in fact, stress can make you hold onto more fat and pounds.  So stop it!  Move forward and don’t look back at what you did or didn’t do last week or weekend.

2.  Exercise with intensity!  Workout hard!  It doesn’t have to be long, it just needs to be intense.  And who wants to spend hours exercising anyway? I was so busy with kids this week, I only got 10-20 minute at the gym each day. I made sure my intensity was maxed out, and I feel like I got a good, all be it short, workout.

3.  Drink water like it’s your job!  Yes, down that water to flush out what you are retaining from any over-indulgent eating.  Salt, alcohol, and excess sugar can lead to a lot of bloat, so drink your water to flush it out! Who cares if you go to the bathroom 12 times a day?

4.  Just eat sensibly.  Eat your lean proteins, high fiber foods, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats.  It won’t take many days to see the changes.

Aerobic v.s. Anaerobic Exercise – Top 4 Reasons for Each

images[1]Aerobic exercise (a.k.a. aerobics, cardiovascular exercise or cardio) is any sustained, rhythmic activity that primarily uses your larger muscles and challenges your heart and lungs.

Aerobic means “with oxygen,” so when you exercise aerobically your body uses oxygen to help produce energy during the exercise. Your heart and lungs have to work harder to constantly deliver oxygen to your body during aerobic exercise, and this strengthens your heart and lungs.

There are plenty of ways that you can exercise aerobically. You can walk, run, or bike. You can use a treadmill, stationary bike, stair stepper, elliptical machine, or rowing machine. You can participate in an aerobic exercise class. Here are the top four reasons to get moving:

1. Toughens the ticker. Aerobic exercise strengthens the hardest working muscle in your body – your heart. A stronger heart pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body. Better blood flow results in more oxygen and essential nutrients being delivered to the cells of your body. It also results in more effective removal of toxins and other waste materials from your body.

2. Helps keep arteries clear. Aerobic exercise raises HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. This results in less buildup of plaque in your arteries. Plaques begin in artery walls and can grow over the years. The growth of cholesterol plaques slowly blocks blood flow in the arteries causing all sorts of health problems.

3. Rallies the respiratory system. Aerobic exercise improves the effectiveness with which your respiratory system can supply oxygen to your body. Your body needs a constant and plentiful amount of oxygen in order to function properly.

4. Reduces body fat. Aerobic exercise not only burns calories, it’s the only type of exercise that directly burns body fat. In order for body fat to be burned, oxygen must be used to help produce energy during the exercise, and this only occurs with aerobic exercise.


images[8]Anaerobic exercise is high intensity muscular activity that lasts for a short period of time. Strength training a.k.a. weight lifting or weight training and calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups etc.) are examples of anaerobic exercise. Strength training is the most effective type of anaerobic exercise. Here are the top four benefits:

1. Builds and maintains lean muscle mass. The loss of lean muscle mass can begin as early as your mid-20s, and it results in a loss of strength, a slower metabolism and decreased functional fitness. The loss of lean muscle mass is not the normal result of aging; it’s primarily the result of a sedentary lifestyle. If you don’t use your muscles they waste away. Strength training is the most effective way to build and maintain lean muscle mass and stay strong and functionally fit.

2. Bolsters bones – strength and density. Millions of people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis. Consuming high calcium food (leafy greens, oranges, beans) or taking calcium supplements to increase bone strength and density is not enough. Bones need to be challenged by weight bearing exercise or they will become soft and brittle. Strength training will increase the strength and density of your bones more than any other type of exercise.

3. Motivates metabolism. The slower your metabolism, the easier it is to gain body fat and the harder it is to lose it. Strength training boosts metabolism because it builds and maintains lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is metabolically active tissue, so the more lean muscle mass you have the faster your metabolism will be.

4. Reshapes the body and improves appearance. Vanity! No other type of exercise can reshape your body and improve your appearance like strength training can. Strength training will give you a strong, toned, looking body.

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.

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.


Avoid First Time Failures – The Secret to Exercise Success

We recently signed our kids up for soccer based on a friend’s recommendation. It turned out to be somewhat of a logistical nightmare, as there were a few things that made it less than fun for the kids.

Needless to say, the first practice was horrible. If it were up to Samantha, she would never go back. Luckily, I wasn’t going to let her quit, especially not after only one practice. The first day of anything is usually overwhelming in one way or another.

The next practice was a little better, and the next one after that was even better. She finished out the season with some great new skills, and with the idea that she stuck with it. For an eight year old, sticking with something is not at the top of her list of great moments, but I feel like it was a great life lesson, nonetheless.

When I think about it, almost everything we do for the first time is difficult, whether it’s the first day at a new job, or the first day starting an exercise routine.  Yep, now you know where I am going with this.

The first time I took a spin class, I thought I was going to pass out. It sucked. But, I knew that I had to give it at least one more try. I couldn’t just quit after one time. The next week I took another spin class, and it didn’t suck quite as bad. I decided to give it another chance, just to be sure. I have been spinning for over a year now, and I love it… and hate it.

The secret to making exercise easier is to do it — to get used to it by sticking with it. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Here is another secret. It’s supposed to be difficult. If it wasn’t difficult, you wouldn’t be pushing yourself, and you wouldn’t be improving your health and your life.

It can be easy for people to fail at exercise when they don’t realize that it gets easier. If you try something, and the first time you decide you don’t want to do it anymore because it’s too hard, failure is guaranteed.

But is it really too hard? If you try something once, do you even have enough data to say if something is difficult or not? It may be more likely that you’re just not used to it, rather than it being too hard.

One of my trainer friends put this on her FB page.

In the first 30 days of training/exercising you will FEEL the difference.

 In the 2nd 30 Days of training/exercising you will be able to SEE the difference.

For 60 days and beyond of training/exercising your coworkers, family & friends will see the difference.

There is no quick fix, but it gets easier if you just stick with it.

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