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.

Is Coffee Really Good For You?

So what’s the deal with coffee, more specifically the reputation this beverage has that seems to change at a moment’s notice? One day, coffee is king. The next, you should never, ever drink it.

For the consumer who loves coffee, the news doesn’t matter much to them. Some would be drinkers of coffee could be more than just a little interested to know exactly why they aren’t drinking it and what potentially they’re missing.

Coffee has too much caffeine, which isn’t good for you. But some studies have shown that coffee is good for the liver and digestion, and boosts cognitive thinking.

Truthfully, coffee is quite the polarizing beverage and actually holds falls more into the beneficial than bad category.

Coffee is known to boost brain power and help with blood flow. Like anything else, however, coffee needs to be used in moderation and not looked at just for the reasoning of giving you a much needed pick me up.

In addition to brain and blood benefits, coffee is filled with antioxidants. We’ve been told for years now the benefits of food in the way of antioxidants, and everything from blueberries to raspberries and cold or hot tea is filled with this powerful cancer fighting ingredient.

And, much to the delight of drinkers around the world, so is coffee.

You’re aforementioned liver also will make it a point to work wonderfully and thank you directly by staying overly healthy. Coffee fights off fatty liver disease, which can help fight anything from cirrhosis to cancer.

Of course, it’s hard not to revel in the real reason you all love coffee: caffeine. If you’re not interested in ingesting all that caffeine, decaf coffee still holds the same benefits as its caffeinated counterpart. Some studies have shown that just the smell of coffee can put you in a better mood, so imagine how great you’ll feel if you actually take that first sip.

You’ll most likely hear in the next week something bad about coffee; that’s the cyclical nature of this drink. But in the end, coffee’s positives outweigh the negatives, and that fact isn’t lost on the millions of coffee drinkers around the world.

They might tell you they love coffee from Starbucks because of the taste or the whipped cream or the trendy cup and holder it comes in when you stop on a daily basis. Little did you know, however, that the coffee you’re proudly toting around is helping stave off serious illness, disease and fatigue.

Who knew so much could come from something as simple as coffee?

Hungry Eyes: Certain Foods Make You Starving

big breakfast

Most of the time when you eat, you expect to feel full and satisfied.

That isn’t always the case when you’re talking about certain food or drinks, some of which tend to only make you feel hungrier, rather than do what is intended.

Take the salty snacks you love to gobble down while you’re watching sports or waiting for the main course at a party or get together. Not only are chips, pretzels and peanuts going to make you thirsty for more to drink but they’re also not quite hunger busters, either.

Also on the list of foods that aren’t going to do you any favors if you’re trying to eat less is white bread and pasta that isn’t whole wheat. Your blood sugar goes into nearly extinction mode, and despite all the talk of pasta and carbohydrates leaving you feeling full, that isn’t going to be the case with white bread and pasta.

And if you’re going to pair that white bread sandwich or pasta with a beverage, you might want to pick something in the vein of water rather than alcohol. The latter won’t make you feel full, sick perhaps, but definitely not to the point where you want to stop eating. In fact, alcohol makes you feel that much hungrier one beer or mixed drink after another.

One menu item that customers of all shapes and sizes gravitate toward is sushi, namely the rolls. From the California Roll to the Spicy Tuna flavor, sushi rolls are equal parts expensive but so delicious when paired with a side of soy sauce and ginger. But even dozens upon dozens of rolls only is going to lead you back to the take out menu after only a few hours. Sushi tends to digest rather quickly and only an hour or two after eating up to 12-15 rolls, you’ll be starving again for certain.

The soy sauce also isn’t helping matters, either as the sodium content is going to act in the same vein as the aforementioned salty snacks. If you want to try something else from the Chinese food menu, think again because MSG might be worse than the sushi rolls when it comes to making you feel hungry.

If you’re expecting that nice, full feeling after a meal, you want to steer clear of salt, sushi and any carbohydrate that looks and tastes processed or refined. In other words, stick to fruits, vegetables, greens and high protein diets, food that often is associated as “bird food” or the kind that doesn’t stick to your ribs.

That couldn’t be further from the truth and thinking that way is only going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

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 Lose 10 Pounds in 30 days With Math

You may want to lose weight fast for a once-in-a-lifetime event such as your first wedding, vacation to Hawaii, or an appearance on “America’s Got Talent.” You may believe that losing 10 pounds in 30 days is impossible, but it is very feasible. First, you must forget everything you have learned about fad diets, starvation, hormone supplements and the like. You are only going to need three tools to help you lose 10 pounds in 30 days: a standard calculator, calorie calculator and some motivation.

Step 1: Learn the Mathematical Equation

The first thing you need to do is take out your standard calculator and multiply 3,500 by 10. The number that you get is the total number of calories that you will need to eliminate to lose 10 pounds in 30 days (35,000). One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. That equation will be the foundation of any weight-loss plan you develop.

Next, you will divide 35,000 by 28, 30 or 31 days. That result will give you the number of calories that you need to eliminate on a daily basis. You can use 30 days just to grasp an understanding of the process. The daily caloric deficiency for a 30-day month is 1,167.

Step 2: Calculate Your Recommended Daily Caloric Intake

Calorie calculators will tell you the number of calories that you should consume to maintain your body weight. They will also tell you how many calories that you should consume to lose weight, but you will only want to use the calculator for your maintenance figure. You can find a calculator by conducting a Google search for “daily caloric intake calculator.” When you find a detailed calculator, you will enter the necessary information.

Most calorie calculators will ask for information such as age, gender, weight, height and exercise level. When you are finished entering data, you can click on “calculate” for your figure. This figure gives you a guide that you can use for analyzing and altering your current diet.

Step 3: Create Your Deficiency

Every day, you must “lose” 1,167 calories. You can achieve that by either removing/altering dietary items or implementing a vigorous exercise plan. Calorie counting is a complex science, so you might favor straight exercise. You may need to use both methods to lose an aggressive amount of weight, however. You can lose many calories by performing cardiovascular exercises. For example, 30 minutes of vigorous bicycling can help you to drop 500 calories. One full hour could almost complete your daily deficiency.

You know the basics of losing weight. You can adjust your activity level and your diet as needed.

Healthy Eating Habits: Stating the Obvious?

healthy eating

How many times do you find yourself eating when you aren’t even hungry? This is a very common occurrence for most people and it’s not necessarily a problem unless you, yourself, cannot control it and become overweight. All too often we turn to food to combat stress and comfort ourselves – the trick is control those urges and maintain healthy eating habits. Here are a few tips that can help to create better habits

Some strategies that can be used to stop emotional eating when stressed could be to work out; try a new sport, do yoga or meditation or even relax by taking a hot bath. If you find yourself eating unhealthily during afternoon snack time when you get a slump of energy, try going for a walk or listen to some of your favorite music. I have even held those urges off with a short nap. If you tend to eat when you are lonely or bored, call and catch up with one of your friends, take your pet for a walk or go out in public where there are a lot of people. Many times we eat more than we are aware of, living in such a fast paced world, mindlessly eating as we watch a television show or movie. Learn to pay attention while you’re eating, and slow down and enjoy your snack or food. Savor the smell and the textures and enjoy the taste. Avoid distractions and try not to eat when you are doing a mindless task. You could try chewing your food thoroughly, emasculating each bite 30 times before swallowing. You will slow down the process and give yourself more time to enjoy. Try enjoying your food with different utensils, using something like chopsticks to eat your food or using the opposite hand will mix up your experience. Lastly, stop eating before you are full, as it takes more time than you think to signal the brain that you are full. Avoid cleaning the entire plate, your satisfaction will come slowly after you put your plate down.

Dieting doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop eating all together but what it encourages us to do is focus on eating foods that are more healthy but still help you to remain full. Low calorie food that still has substance. Healthy eating habits can be achieved by including more fiber which can make you feel full while still losing weight. High fiber foods are high in volume and take a longer time frame to digest which in turn make them a lot more filling. High-fiber options include fruits and vegetables; strawberries, apples, oranges, nectarines, plums and most kinds of berries. Also, anything with green vegetables and leafy salads. Beans are also a healthy option – high in protein and fiber. Try adding them to different entrees with options such as black beans, lentils, split peas, pinto beans and chickpeas. High fiber cereal is a great option as well, including oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat or multi-grain bread and air popped popcorn. Try eating vegetables raw or steamed and not fried or breaded, dress them with herbs and spices or a small amount of olive oil. Try adding nuts and cheeses to salads but be careful not to overdo it, use low-fat dressings. For breakfast, try less cereal and leave room for fruits like blueberries, strawberries or sliced bananas, this way its easy to eat less and feel more full.

Healthy eating is a lifestyle choice, and making small changes can make a big difference in the overall goal to your weight loss plan. Small steps are huge.

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.

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