Know Your Gym Lingo

Remember that feeling of the first day of school, the first day at a new job, or showing up to a party not knowing anyone? The first day at the gym can bring up those same kinds of feelings.


For many new gym goers, the gym can be an intimidating place trying to learn how all the machines work and then there are all these terms that you start hearing. Lifting weights, also called resistance training or strength training, is any type of exercise that requires the body to move against an opposing force. Think about exercises that push, pull, lift, and cause that grunt and groan.


The following are some of the most common terms you might hear when weight training. It may also give you some ideas of how to mix up your routine.

Superset: A superset is when an individual does one lifting movement and then immediately does another movement for a different body part. Example: Push-ups then right into squats


Giant Sets: Giant sets are performed when an individual completes more than two movements in a row without rest. Example: pull downs (back), crunches (stomach), then squat jumps (legs).

Concentric: This is the “positive” movement of the exercise. Example: the curling up when completing a dumbbell curl or the pressing down when completing and tricep pushdown.

Eccentric: This is the “negative” portion of the exercise. Example: straightening the arms after curling them in a bicep curl. Super-secret tip: do this part of the exercise slowly (count to five), and your muscles will tone up much faster.

Isometric: There is no movement during and isometric exercise. Example: a plank or a wall sit.

Drop sets: This is when an individual will take the amount of weight they are lifting and lower it by a percentage in order to complete more reps. Example: Leg curls for 10 reps at 40 pounds, then drop the weight to 30 pounds for 10 more reps.

For a Short Bout of Exercise – Take the Stairs


To take the stairs or not to take the stairs… that is the question.

I was recently on jury duty, and the courtroom that we were in was on the seventh floor, so I rode up and down the elevator many times during the day, many days in a row. What I found interesting was that many of the people were riding the elevator up or down for one just one floor.  Definitely an opportunity missed…

In a recent study, British researchers confirmed that some exercise is better than nothing.

Researchers found that for sedentary people, even a few minutes of daily stair climbing – a vigorous but easily accessible form of exercise – can improve cardiovascular health.

Previous studies have shown that accumulating short bouts of exercise can make a difference; this one shows just how short those bouts can be.

Twenty-two sedentary college-aged women walked up 199 steps – more than you’re likely to find at home, but doable in a high-rise – in 2.25 minutes, a “brisk but comfortable” pace which shot their heart rates up to 90 percent of their predicted maximum.

They progressed from one ascent per day during the first week to six ascents per day, for a total of 13.5 minutes over the course of a day, during the sixth and seventh weeks.

By the end of this modest exercise program, the women were measurably more fit: Heart rate, oxygen uptake and blood lactate levels during climbing were reduced, and their HDL (”good”) cholesterol levels had increased.  Source: Preventive Medicine, 2000; 30, 4, 277-281 via

My husband has been on a stair climbing kick lately, because he is so busy at work, he has no time for the gym. He works on the 10th floor of his building, and takes the stairs up and down at least once a day. Now, I’m not saying that his weight loss is 100% because of the stairs (some of it is because his awesome wife only serves healthy food), but he has lost over 30 pounds in the last year or so.

Make a new rule – three flights of stairs or less, skip the elevator and hoof it.

How You Eat Affects How Much You Eat

What we eat and how much we eat can be key to staying fit and healthy, but how we eat can be equally as important. With a few simple strategies, changing the way you eat can automatically affect the ‘how much’ you eat.

With our busy lives it can often seem like we mindlessly go through our day. This includes during meal times. Here are a few simple tricks that you can use during every meal to keep your weight in check.

1. Take time during meals to truly savor every bite you eat. Eat slowly. Chew each morsel and taste the food you put into your body. Turn off the television, radio, and any distractions, and allow meal time to be a time of relaxation and enjoyment.

2. Use a plate. Eating directly out of the box or package can easily lead to overeating. When you don’t set aside a portion, that small handful of almonds quickly becomes two, then three and so on. Take time to put a serving of food on a plate or in a bowl. Eat that portion and only that portion. One of my favorite tricks is to use a smaller plate to eat meals. A small plate loaded with veggies and chicken seems like a lot of food, but in terms of calories it’s a very reasonable amount. The message your brain receives is that the plate is full, so it should be more than enough to eat.

3. Use hunger as your guide. Let your stomach tell you when you’re hungry and full… not your brain. Eat when you feel hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Often we let the clocks guide our eating: it’s noon, so it must be lunchtime. We often eat whether we’re actually hungry or not. We also allow ourselves to finish an entire meal without even realizing we were full 15 minutes earlier. Our stomach is full, but our brain says keep eating, force-feeding ourselves out of habit. The way to stop this is through awareness and listening to our bodies. It is helpful to stop eating when you are 80% full and allow your brain to catch up with your stomach to signal it is full. This really works, but it can be difficult to do. Once you’ve developed a lifestyle that includes a routine of healthy eating, your body will let you know when it’s hungry and it will also crave healthy foods.

4. Doggy bags are the new accessory! You don’t have to clean your plate, no matter what you were told when you were a child. Save the leftovers for another meal or snack. Many people make a habit of ordering a meal or sandwich and immediately asking for half of it to be put in a doggy bag. They are more than satisfied with half a serving (especially with the jumbo sized servings in restaurants) and also have another meal to take home. If you choose to stay at the table and talk after a meal, remove your plate so you’re not tempted to keep nibbling…and never pick off someone else’s plate (this includes your kids)!

5. Slow and steady. We all want to reduce our weight quickly, but that doesn’t necessarily allow us to establish habits that will sustain our new weight over time. When we make overall lifestyle changes, the weight that disappears is not going to return. Focus on healthy living and feeling good versus losing weight. This will effectively lead you to your ideal weight—one that will be easy for you to maintain permanently. After all, there‘s no point in losing weight only to gain it back! When your focus is on a healthy lifestyle and not a number on a scale, your ideal weight will come!

The Legend of Tryptophan – An Excuse to Snooze

Legend has it that the tryptophan-rich turkey is the reason behind those snoozers sprawled out in your living room after the leftovers are put away.

Tryptophan is one of 20 amino acids found in foods and can be converted in your brain to the neurotransmitters, serotonin and melatonin.  Since both of these compounds play an important role in regulating sleep, it seems logical that tryptophan has always been blamed as the culprit behind the Thanksgiving Day lethargy.

But turkey isn’t the only potent source of tryptophan in the diet.  In fact, a roasted chicken breast actually contains more tryptophan than turkey.  Do your guests fall asleep after you serve them a chicken dinner?

Thanksgiving Day drowsiness is more likely caused by another culprit or a combination of circumstances that are part of this holiday’s festivities.  According to the experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research, when you eat a very large meal, such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, and pumpkin pie, your gastrointestinal tract has to work harder to digest all that food.  In order for your body to do this extra work, some of your body’s blood supply is redirected away from your brain to the gut.  This shifting of energy-rich blood from the brain to your GI tract can cause you to feel, well, sluggish.

Your beverage of choice at dinner may also play a role.  Alcohol has sedating properties, so if you are enjoying your dinner with a bottle of Pinot Noir, there is a good chance that some of your guests will be snoring before dessert is served.

Lastly, daytime naps are a product of opportunity, so Thanksgiving Day ends up being a popular day to nap, because the opportunity presents itself.   After the football games are over, what else is there to do?

And if you plan to head out at midnight to power shop on Black Friday, it may make sense to take an afternoon nap on Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving!


10 Steps to a Better Mind Set

I have a thing for top X lists. They are easy to read, and no matter what is on the list, there is always one thing that causes that light bulb moment. So I came across a list for how to be more confident, and it started me thinking about our state of mind.  Here is my list to encourage a positive state of mind every day.

1. Learn from the past (10 minutes ago, yesterday, last year, or even high school drama, etc.) regardless of the outcome; don’t beat yourself up about the things that didn’t turn out your way. It’s gone; it’s never coming back. Instead learn from it for next time. There are no failures, only feedback.

2. Be prepared. Prepared for what you might ask. Well every day is different, so be prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of the day. My husband is the poster child for preparedness, and he has taught me well, along with making me a little crazy along the way.  For example, when we are going to any get together—family, friends, business, whatever, he will run through the names of all the people that he knows will be there. Not just the new people, but everyone including the ones he has known for most of his life.  That may seem extreme, but being prepared doesn’t just mean you are ready to give a presentation at work or being prepared for a job interview, but for all the little things throughout the day.

3. Develop and play to your strengths. Know what you are good at and expose yourself to these opportunities at every opportunity – because you’re good at it, you’ll enjoy it and have more confidence.  If you’re not sure of your strength’s ask a friend or family member. They will usually be able to rattle off all sorts of things you are good at.

4. Develop your areas for improvement. Know and appreciate that you can’t be perfect at everything.   Put a plan in place to improve them over time. Especially as parents, there are always things we can improve on when it comes to our kids.  For me, I am working on being more patient, less of a control freak, more confident and social, and more organized.

5. Be in charge of your thoughts at all times. What is a thought? It’s just a question or idea that you’ve asked yourself. Some days it may be the only thing you have control of. If you’re thinking negative thoughts, you’re probably asking a negative question. Be aware of your thoughts…after all, you are the one thinking them.

6. Become a Rhinoceros.  Develop thick skin and don’t let the words of others affect you? Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. It’s not what they say to you that’s the problem; it’s what you say to yourself after they have stopped talking that’s the problem. I read an article that said if someone calls you a clock; it probably wouldn’t affect you, because you know you are not a clock. The same holds true when people may try to label you as something you know that you are not.

7. At the end of each day list your achievements and successes throughout that day.  All too often we don’t give ourselves credit for what we’ve done.  I usually make a mental list of all the things I have done wrong… yelling at the kids, not being patient enough, not accomplishing everything I should have. While that may help me to recognize short comings and try harder tomorrow, it doesn’t allow for any appreciation of the things that I did well and did accomplish.

8. Improve your body language. The way that you move your body has a big impact on your mind set. Move your body assertively and walk with your head up, shoulders back as though you’ve got somewhere very important to go. Along with thoughts, some days, body language may be the only thing you feel like you can control.  But it really does work by almost tricking your mind to feel more powerful and in control.

9. Emotion is created by motion. Like point 17, make sure you move around consistently. This creates energy and gets the blood pumping around your body – it makes you feel better and more confident.

10. And finally – ask yourself in 10 years’ time will what I am worrying about really matter? This one can be easier said than done, because it may not matter in 10 years, but it matters right now. But often times by asking yourself the 10 year question, it can bring to light that what you are worrying about is more trivial than you first thought.

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