Desk Slob: Why your desk job needs exercise

lifestyle change

From desk job to desk slob, you wouldn’t be the first person to sit down on day one of your job and only a few months to years later turn into a barely recognizable figure thanks to weight gain and a posture that looks painful and prehistoric at best.

Do you actually pay attention to how your sitting at work? Do you sit back in your chair? Do you take time throughout the day or at lunch to take a walk in between emails? Is that report due at the end of the day pushing your shoulders forward and ultimately leading to a slouch you can’t repair?

If the answer to any of those questions are answered affirmatively, your desk job is doing you in, but the good news is that can be turned around rather easily and fairy fast.

It starts with how you’re exercising at home, and if you’ve taken the approach of doing certain moves and adapting your fitness routine to strengthen muscles that are previously being held hostage by your work posture.

How exactly do you fix that work slouch and slumping physique?

Believe it or not, your exercise routine, the one that can help reverse your slouching posture, starts with taking a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day and simply touching your toes. This strengthens your back muscles and gives you the kind of flexibility that makes sitting up straight a breeze, versus the alternative of hunching over while you type. If your lower back is weak, you’re feel it when you sit up straight. A rudimentary toe touch can take away that pain and ease you back into sitting up straight.

Certain yoga poses and moves also help, preferably when you lie on your stomach and arch your back downward and lift your head and chin up. This, again, stretches out your lower back.

For the weight lifters in the group, you want to do one exercise in particular. The seated row is a middle back lift move that will put muscles where you didn’t have them before and help you arch your back while you’re sitting. Be careful on this one, however, as you want to sit up straight while you’re doing them and only engage your back to move the weight. Using your entire body is only going to turn your back exercise into a full body pull that is more pendulum than postural beneficial.

You can’t avoid your job, and certain sitting at a desk, so taking the steps to fix your posture start with getting up and moving around from time to time but also taking that mindset into the gym and getting back to work while getting work in for your back.

Myth Busters: Why exercise speculation is causing your workout to sputter

How many times have you heard an exercise myth and believed it to be true? Worse yet, how many times has someone who is a supposed expert in the exercise field said those very same things, and you assume that this person has to be right?

Chances are, both have happened quite a bit and worse yet could be holding you back from making significant progress in the exercise goal you’ve set for yourself.

The fact remains is that all personal trainers and trainers think different, and not all of them have done the research to have their “expert” tag in tow.

The problem with myths and exercise is that, quite simply, they’re not true but so believed that they’ll keep you from expanding your regimen and ultimately get from point A to point B a little faster than you would have hoped.

For instance, remember the line of thinking that if you lift weights, you won’t lose weight, you’ll gain it? Worse yet, most women swear off exercise as some cruel joke that will suddenly make them look big and bulky. That isn’t the case, nor has it ever been.

Weight training serves as a mean to increase your heart rate like any physical activity but also tone your body, no different than all that so called cardiovascular work you do on the treadmill that we all equate to losing weight more than lifting weights.

On the flip side, some of us exercisers believe that working out is some sort of dream scenario, one that has us hitting the gym consistently and losing weight that we’ve had for 10 years in 10 days. The truth is exercise isn’t going to help you lose weight quickly; losing weight fast isn’t a reality, but rather a long distance run. If you want to sprint out of the gate, that’s fine, but be prepared to set your expectations at a reasonable level.

Finally, if you plan to take the mantra that you have to be sore and throw up or something else that is about as barbaric as it gets as relates to weight training or exercise, that myth is about as realistic as a comeback by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.
Exercise should be done in moderation, but not to the point where your body is rejecting it or you can’t move out of bed the next day. Will you be sore working out if you haven’t done it in a while? Of course. Should you feel like your entire body is frozen. No, not at all.

Everyone understands how important exercise is, but doing it should be a practice in patience but also knowledge based. Without knowing what to truly believe, you’re just spinning those spinning bike wheels.

Main Stays: Why fitness is often over complicated

Far too many voices when all you need is a little direction.

That is the best way to describe the fitness industry as a whole. From personal trainers to experts, television doctors and your best friend who thinks they’re a gift from God in the gym, everyone has an opinion on how to get healthy, lose weight and feel better about themselves.

Talk about totally being confused, overwhelmed and totally lost as far as who to believe and what to do, and a lot of that insanity leads to the masses making a play to exercise and try to lose weight, but getting lost along the way with too many voices in their ear and no real direction as far as what exactly they’ll need to do within the confines of the gym.

What is even more disheartening is that exercise and losing weight doesn’t have to be difficult. What you need to focus on are the staples, the exercise we all can do and should always be part of your daily routine. The white noise that surrounds you while you’re trying to figure this all out tends take hold of you more so than keeping it simple.

And in some cases, these exercises can be done without even leaving your living room or house.
How about those squats? These are simple bends at the knees, rear end out and head forward is enough to work everything from the waist down. It works the glutes, your hamstrings and quads, making everything tone and tight.

From toning and tightening to sticking with the “P’s” and that are pull ups, planks and pushups. These three exercises are certain muscle builder and weight loss winners. Planks work on your core, stomach muscles and tighten those would be flabby abs. Pushups work the chest, triceps and biceps and will not only tone your chest but also all parts of your arms.

The pull-ups are another multi dimensional exercise, working biceps, shoulders and back.

The trick to taming your exercise demons is to not only block out everyone else’s opinion but also to find exercise that incorporate body weight and work multiple muscles at once. All of the aforementioned ones accomplish that and even better can be modified for even those who aren’t as adept as holding their own body weight or might not have the strength to do it all on their own.

That won’t matter much with these moves, which won’t make you more confused when you’re about to head toward achieving goals that previously were muddied by multiple sources telling you what to do.

Mixed Messages: How do you lose weight when you don’t know what methods are credible?

drop weight fast

If it isn’t one DVD hitting the shelves from a prominent exercise person, it’s a new machine that promises toned abs, thighs or buns in record setting amounts of time.

From personal trainers to diets and exercise routines being done by the celebrities and stars you see in television, working out is riddled with mixed messages and more questions than answers for the general public that is desperately trying to get healthy but just doesn’t know how.

Case in point, look at television, specifically shows like “The Biggest Loser” or “Extreme Makeover,” the one that focuses on health and wellness. These shows show dramatic weight loss of epic proportions but yet fail to capture the true essence of what exercise is for the average person.

We don’t have round the clock training or live on a campus of sorts that spoon feeds us (literally) what we are supposed to do from one chin up to another. We certainly don’t have personal trainers or lifestyle coaches at our beckon call or disposal, nor can most people devote hours to exercise and diet.

The same goes for A-listers and movie stars telling us that their exercise routine for a movie role or to get rid of post baby weight is as easy as yelling “action.” It’s not. Hugh Jackman doesn’t sculpt the Wolverine body for the ages by working out before he has to be in the office at 9 a.m. or after work before the kids need fed dinner. His seven-hour per day workouts don’t mesh with life in general.

So what is someone to do to get healthy without so many issues as far as what to believe?
The simple fact remains that exercise starts with keeping it simple, and so does eating for that matter. Cutting calories means keeping a food journal, writing down what you eat and eliminating the foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar content. Those are the key ingredients that are keeping you overweight, along with artificial sweeteners that are totally counterproductive.

Think of dieting as a budget for food. Take out what is not needed and go lean with what you’re eating.

As far as exercise, you can’t start with a two-hour workout and unrealistic goals. Start walking after work or joining a gym that is close to your house (something you pass on the way home). You might want to find someone to workout with to stay accountable. But if you believe you’re going to join a gym in January and lose 50 pounds by spring, you are mistaken. Far too many people quit exercising because they believe magically they’ll drop pounds in weeks.

A sensible diet and smart, prudent exercise is going to keep you healthy and your weight in check. Everything else is gimmicks and unrealistic goals being fed to you.

Three Exercises that Don’t Break the Bank

Looking for ways to exercise without spending money? A gym or fitness center is the best place for a person to receive a full-body workout. Fitness centers can also provide a person with aerobic classes, Yoga classes, personal training and the like. However, most fitness centers have monthly fees that are between $30 and $50 a month. A struggling single parent or an unemployed individual may not have the funds to pay for such a membership. The following are three exercises that one can do to start losing weight and shaping up:

Bicycle Riding

Most gyms have stationary bicycles at their locations. A frugal fitness buff can burn more calories riding a real bike than he or she can on a stationary bicycle. A person who already has a bicycle does not have to spend a dime. He or she can burn approximately 500 calories during a one-hour session of bicycling between 12 and 14 miles per hour. The person can increase the number of calories burned by choosing uphill locations to cycle. Additionally, bicycling tones the leg muscles, and it gives a person an opportunity to explore new sites.

Home Racquetball

Racquetball is a sport that a person can play with a ball and a racquet. Any stable horizontal platform such as a garage door can serve as the target for the ball. The objective of a solo game of fitness-oriented racquetball is to get as much exercise as possible swinging at the ball and running after it to hit it back against the platform repeatedly. Racquetball can tone a person’s leg and arm muscles as well as provide that person with cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercise always increases the heart rate and burns calories. The average amount of calories that a person can burn within an hour’s time is approximately 400 calories.

Shooting Hoops

A person with a basketball can find an area to shoot hoops at most public schools and parks. Many of these public basketball courts are open all hours of the night. Shooting hoops consists of throwing the basketball at the hoop without any other game play. Hoop shooting can be a fun activity for a person who is by himself or herself trying to burn calories. A 30-minute session of hoop shooting can burn approximately 200 calories.

Many creative calorie-burning activities exist. The key is for a person to take an inventory of the items around the house that could be useful in an exercise activity.

How to Maintain your Diet Plan around Christmas

diet plan around christmas

There’s no doubt that this time of the year brings with it a ton of excesses of all types. Spending, eating, drinking and if you’re lucky, laughing too, but for the casual dieter, this can also signal the point at which all of those “best laid plans” come crashing down surrounded by double helpings of meat, potatoes, and no small serving of Egg Nog and apple pie. Today, we’ll try to show you how to maintain your diet plan around Christmas.

The first thing to do is take a good look at your diet and exercise regimen. Are there areas that need to be looked at closely? For instance, you might feel that exercising 5 nights per week could be trimmed down to 3-4 nights given that you are on target pace. Particularly at Christmas time, we find ourselves really cramped for time with all that we take onto our plate so now is a good time to make changes. This type of move we also use to help soften the blow of making other adjustments to things such as dieting needs. The converse side to this is what to do if you are behind your pace. In that context, it is so important to not drop further behind so we have to consolidate by somehow returning to the original exercise plan, which we’ve deviated from in some way, most likely. Try to get back to your original starting point, just for 2-3 weeks, Trust me – you’ll need to.

The next item is the calorie intake. It is so important at this time of year to know what your calorie intake is, especially with the seasonal perks such as Christmas parties, a glass of wine after work, food at the Open House, and the festivities around New Year. I’m talking here about knowing what the calorie value of a bottle of beer is, or a shot of liquor. If you don’t know beforehand, then find out afterwards because these are all potential traps for falling completely “off the horse”. Tracking your intake on a daily basis means that you can make adjustments to your meals to cover for the excesses. Now let me be clear here, I’m not suggesting eliminating all nutritious food because you had a skinful the night before. We just have to be smart about how we enjoy the Yuletide.

Finally, it’s important to not invite opportunities for friends and family to help ruin your diet plan around Christmas. What I mean by that is where gift=giving is concerned, try to encourage people close to you to refrain from the cookie tins, the food baskets, and the frozen meats. These items become so irresistible to someone who is trying to regulate fatty, unhealthy foods. I usually let everyone know that these gifts will not be gratefully accepted. In fact, in years gone by, I have “flipped” those gifts to other people! Shameful, I know but what are we to do!

Remember that the point of all this is to allow you to have fun while not completely rolling off the rails in pursuit of your weight loss goals. This time of year is about enjoyment and having fun. We just need to make sure that we get that without adding another 15lbs to our ‘spare tire”!

Happy Holidays!

5 Reasons Why Building Muscle Helps Weight loss

One of the biggest misnomers in weight loss literature today is that building muscle mass somehow increases weight and reduces a person’s ability to lose weight, In today’s post, we’re going to look at 5 reasons why building muscle helps weight loss.

First of all, let’s define “building muscle“. What I’m referring to here is the process by which the body creates extra muscle in place of fat. Sometimes what happens is that the muscle mass is actually kept constant and the weight loss happens through burning through stored fat. The process depends on some old tried and tested methods that we’ll go over here. A word of advice though: this is not for everyone. If you haven’t been the type of person to do “resistance training”, which involves strength exercises or lifting weights, then I might suggest that this method is most likely not for you. In any case, please consult a doctor before embarking on a regimen of this type. An alternative I would suggest is enlisting the services of a personal trainer who can guide you through the do’s and don’ts of what could potentially be a hazardous route to losing weight.

1. Increased metabolic rate
Typically, muscles use up more energy during and after exercise which causes the body to burn calories even during a “warm-down” phase. The exercise causes the muscles to burn calories which continues after the exercise has been stopped leading to an an increase in fat-burning processes.

2. Elevated calories burnt following exercise
Pretty much a follow on from what we said above. In order to build muscle, it has to be exercised in a resistance-training environment. When that happens, the body depletes carbohydrates as energy along with calories. Following a work-out, further exercise results in the body turning to fat for energy rather than anything else.

3. Resistance training needs to be done 4-5 times per week.
Weight training is one of the most disciplined forms of working out and must be done in accordance with a strict routine. The body needs to have a force to work against to cause it to adapt by building extra muscle. That’s how we build mass and burn calories at the same time.

4. Consume sufficient amounts of protein
The key to building any additional muscle mass is to provide the body with sufficient protein to be able to begin the process of tissue reconstruction. The protein should be in the form of meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, or beans. Protein powder is not recommended as it is costly and can be of poor quality if bought inexpensively. Keep the meals small and under your calorie target for the day, and you will not gain any weight other than muscle.

5. Be sure to get at least 7-8 hours sleep per night
Sleep is a very underestimated part of an exercise and dieting program. Lack of sleep can completely throw off your body clock and metabolic processes which can lead to ill-health and weight gain. Also, with the implementation of the resistance exercise regimen, tissues need time to build back up. Sleep ensures that.

Many of us would find that this type of exercising would simply be too much. Frankly, at my stage of life in my middle 50’s, I would never last the course. However, for younger, more active people who want to create the beach body effect as well as shedding several pounds, building muscle helps weight loss.

It’s not Weight Loss – It’s a Lifestyle Change

lifestyle change

Many times over the past 12 months or so on this blog, I have tried to emphasize the importance of losing weight within a structure of a balanced approach to dieting. In other words, no quick fixes but more of a cultural adjustment. I haven’t quite been able to give this approach a name – until now. It’s a Lifestyle Change.

I happened to be reading an article about the effects of dieting on patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The consensus is that dieting as of itself which may involve large amounts of weight loss within a relatively short period of time, is just not something that doctors choose to recommend to people in this medical community. Doctors prefer, and dietitians heartily agree, that a “lifestyle change” is much more beneficial and healthy. Couldn’t agree more! Having said that, and bear in mind I am definitely NOT a doctor and definitely NOT medically trained, I can only imagine that any practice that involves reducing weight, lowering blood sugar and lowering blood pressure, can only be considered a positive step for a Type 2 Diabetes patient.

Remember that a “lifestyle change” involves not only the food and nutritional aspect, but that there is an exercise component too. We’ve always talked about how a well thought out exercise program is always a help to losing weight. Many times it involves a lifestyle change because our daily routines become seriously affected. With dieting, we’re just changing what we eat but exercise involves a huge commitment that can be an inconvenience.

The core principle that I’m hammering home here is that in order to lose weight for the long-term, you cannot just rely on reducing calories and jogging twice a week until you get down to your target weight. 75% of people who do that eventually gain 90% of the weight right back. The reason? Because they chose not to make the “lifestyle change”. Their attitudes and routines all came flooding back once the weight target was reached. Those people took a large intake of breath, a huge sigh, and it was “Katie bar the Door and someone please get me the keys to the ice-cream cabinet!”. With the lifestyle change, the weight loss target really is just the “first mile-marker” if you will, because now, it’s all about keeping the weight off.

Trust me, especially for people in my age group of the over-50’s, if you reject the “lifestyle change” then good luck to you because no matter how many laps you run, or how many pounds you bench-press, or how many salads you eat for lunch instead of a cheeseburger, as soon as all of that stops, it’s over. It might as well not have happened. I know, because I’ve done it (or not done it as the case may be). I understand how hard it is to make that type of commitment, but just as we said at the start of this article, the Type 2 Diabetic patients have no choice, and for them, it works.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on certain common medical conditions and how they relate to weight loss and dieting. There’s no doubt that in cases where there are extenuating medical circumstances, medical advice should be sought out BEFORE embarking on any dieting or exercise plan.

Walking: To Lose or Not Lose Weight

walking

Long has been the discussion on whether or not walking can effectively help a dieter to lose a significant amount of weight, and just as there are many people who have been unsuccessful in that regard, there are people who have found it to be famously rewarding. What we shall try to do today, is figure out the pros and cons of one of the most basic forms of exercise.

Walking is usually the first place that people start with starting their exercise plan. It usually occurs because they actually enjoy walking, they are too old to run or that they are too unfit to run. Typically it starts off with short walks either to take the dog out or walking through a neighborhood with a friend. Firstly, let me state that walking is better than doing nothing – much better, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Secondly, the usefulness of walking is determined by the speed and length of the walk. Pretty obvious stuff I know but it has to be said.

Let’s look at some statistics. A 30 minute brisk walk burns approximately 150 calories depending on your body weight and BMI ratio. That’s usually about a distance of 2 miles. To lose a pound of weight, you must burn 500 calories more than you take in so we’re presuming that you’ve already equalized the dietary arrangements so that we’re not treading water here. Based on these numbers, you should lose about a pound a week, which is a fairly brisk clip. The problem is that after several weeks of the same repetitive routine, the body acclimatize itself to the “new” body, and weight loss becomes harder assuming everything else stays the same. Two things need to happen here; speed and distance – increase both!

What started off as a social exercise needs to become real exercise. Anything to increase the calorie burn. Pump the arms, put ankle weights on or simply walk further and faster. What you’re doing now is getting close to what we would call a “Cardio’ workout where the heart gets to pump at a much higher rate than normal so burning those additional calories. I used to play golf regularly twice every week, on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Didn’t take a cart (which irritated my golf partners tremendously!). I have a firmly brisk walking pace so at 14,000 yards per week, I felt great and didn’t have to watch my food intake.

The downside of walking is that if you need to lose a considerable amount of weight, then eventually you are going to need to step up to full Cardio to push yourself over the top. For keeping your weight at a manageable level and for seniors, a brisk, healthy walking routine is hugely beneficial but remember that it all goes to waste when you stop off at the Burger King for the Double Whopper with cheese and the onion rings on the return leg home!

Can Stretching Help in Weight Loss?

stretching

One of the questions I seem to have been asked more frequently recently is whether stretching exercises can help in losing weight. The short answer is directly no, but there are some definite benefits that in my view, make it a definite enhancement to any well-organized weight loss plan.

For older people like myself, a major reason for decline in fitness relates to the issue of muscle loss. I’m not talking about suddenly waking up one morning and finding yourself all skin and bone. The degradation of muscle definition is a gradual process that is caused by the aging process, and fundamentally, one way to slow down that decline is to stretch regularly. Have you ever had the occurrence to suddenly stretch out your shoulders and arms after being sat for too long in one spot? I’m sure you recall the feeling of utter “ecstasy” rippling through your muscles as they stretch out. That feeling is caused by the release of endorphins which is the “feel good” hormone. That in itself isn’t beneficial except that it is the body’s way of telling you to “repeat more often”.

In order to lose weight we have to burn calories and to do that we have to exercise aerobically for about two and a half hours a week, give or take a few minor details. In order for your body to be able to “survive” the process of aerobic exercise, especially for people above the age of 50, they have to be “tuned up” beforehand. That is where the stretching exercises come in. They prepare, if you will, the muscles of the body so that when you are in the middle of your workout, you don’t have to stop because of tightness in a hamstring or in a calf muscle.

Stretching for us is like “warming-up” for professional athletes. Watch whenever a player is being subbed into a game and see how he/she prepares. They will do at least 5-10 minutes of warming up to make sure that their body is in peak condition for when they join the action. That is what stretching does for us. Of course, this all begs the question of “How much stretching and which exercises do I use?”. It’s my belief, for older guys and gals like myself, stretching should be a daily routine, even for just 10-15 minutes. You can even do it at your desk or while watching TV. It’s simple, short, and not tiring but it will tone your body correctly.

There are many different types of stretching exercise regimens and it’s difficult to hurt yourself with such mild extending of the muscles and joints. One resource I have found is over at Mayoclinic.com which I’ve used and can recommend. Start off slowly as we always insist and used regularly in conjunction with your aerobic workouts, I think you’ll realise a huge benefit.

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