9 Weight Loss Tips for Regular Folks

 

 

 

 

Are you like Jared?  Did you go on an all Subway diet and lose a ton of weight?  Are you like the biggest loser contestants who spend weeks at “the ranch” with nasty personal trainers, medical supervision and all day exercise?  Maybe you have special food delivered to your door every day that is perfectly balanced in calories for scientific weight loss.  No?  Didn’t think so..  not me either.

I’m not even like the Beachbody success stories who pick a workout program and 90 days later have gone from fat and flabby to ripped.  Throughout my adult life, I have been about the same size  (give or take 10 to 15 pounds).  At certain times in my life, I find myself needing to lose a few pounds. I’m guessing maybe there are more people like me out there. I am never going to win one of those contests or be on TV because I have always tried to eat healthy, exercise and live a balanced life.

Before 2003

If you are one of those people (or would like to be one), I’ll share what I do to maintain my weight and lose it when I need to.  My rule of thumb is “take care of little problems before they become big problems.”

1.  Weigh yourself frequently.  You don’t have to be obsessive about it.  Pick one day each week and weigh yourself.  Have a ten pound window, five pounds below and five pounds above your ideal weight.  If your weight is outside the window on              either end, it’s time for you to get to work..

2.  I use Lose It to keep track of calories and exercise.  I try to keep calories in and calories out balanced.  It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle.

3.  I eat three meals a day and two or three snacks a day.  I eat very little bread, pasta, or wheat based foods.  I mainly eat lean meats along with fresh or frozen fruits and veggies.  I’m not a fanatic about “no wheat” or “no grain” in my diet, but I try to keep it to a minimum.

4.  You will hardly ever find me in McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King or Starbucks.  You will seldom find me in the middle isles of the grocery store. Processed foods are not really foods to me.  They are full of all the things you should avoid.  You won’t find me buying lunch in the cafeteria of the school where I teach, but that’s another story…

5.  I almost always drink water.  I have a water bottle with me at work each day and I carry one to my workouts.  I will drink ice tea or hot tea. I can’t remember the last time I had a soda. If I want one (or a piece of cake, or a cookie etc., etc.) I will have it, but it’s a treat, not an everyday habit.

6.  I work out at least six days a week.  Two or three days of weight training and two or three days of cardio. On these days, I get my heart rate up and work up a good sweat. The other days are lighter workouts or “recreational” workouts.  These are things like yoga or stretching, a walk or a hike in the woods, a bike ride or ballroom dancing.  This is a habit and a regular part of every day.  If I am not feeling well, injured, or I am too busy to work out, I skip it, but it’s not ever an excuse to quit.  I just pick it up where I left off the next day.

7. I try to get a good night’s sleep every night.  I don’t always get the seven hours my body needs per night, but I try.  On weeknights I head to bed a 10:30 p.m. On the weekends I try to be there by 11:30 p.m.

After 2012

8.  I try to meditate at least once a week, read books of a religious or spiritual nature and try to stay centered mentally and spiritually.  I also try to balance work, workouts and fun time with family and friends. If one area gets out of  balance, it can throw the other areas out of balance as well.

9.  I am lucky that I don’t have to take any kinds of medications.  Because of this, I focus my energies on preventative medicine.  I eat good, nutritious food, I exercise regularly, I stay strong mentally, spiritually and socially, I see my chiropractor every four weeks and I get bloodwork, mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventative screenings.  Hopefully, I won’t have to start any long term medicines anytime soon!

There is no magic pill, there is no perfect diet or workout that brings you instant weight loss or instant health.  It’s small lifestyle changes added together and continued over time that will bring fitness that will last a lifetime.

Want to get started? Try at least one of the nine steps above, just one, over at least a four week period and see what happens.  Reply here and let me know how it goes!

 

What’s in Your Workout App Collection?

It’s been crazy around the house this week. I haven’t been able to take any more back exercise video yet.  I just got a new iPhone 5 and loaded some new workout apps on it. Here’s what I’m using these days:

Songza:

This is a great music app, you can pick out several different types of music genres from the “concierge” depending on what you’re in the mood for.  I use this app when I am riding the stationary bike or doing a number of other workouts where music enhances things. My favorite is, “drop a beat workout”, but there are tons you can choose from. Cost: FREE

Bit Timer:

All you need to do with this app is set the “work” time,  the “rest” time and how many times you want it to repeat.  Hit start and this timer will keep you on track for circuit and interval workouts.  Bit Timer gives you a three second audible count before you change from work to rest or back.  I use this app to time tabatas, mountain hike intervals and circuit workouts.  Cost:  99 cents

Map My Walk:

This is what I call a  motivational gadget.  Start “Map My Walk” when you begin walking, or running.  It will record a GPS map of your walk/run route.  It will tell you when each mile has been completed. When you save your workout, you get a summary that includes total distance, speed, speed per mile, elevation changes and other nifty info.  You then have the option to share your workout details on facebook, e-mail, or twitter.  Cost: FREE (Note-there is a “Map My Walk” premium available at a cost.  The company sends you e-mails frequently to see if you want to upgrade which is mildly annoying after a while)

Rip Deck:

This app is great for when you’re travelling or when you need to work out with no equipment and little space. (Warning: excuse eliminator!) Just program in the four types of exercises you want to do, plus a bonus exercise for jokers if you want. Rip Deck “shuffles” the cyber deck of cards. You touch the screen and do the exercise and the number of reps each card represents. Instant workout.  You can read my review of Rip Deck here. This one costs 99 cents.  Economical, simple and effective; this is my kind of app.

 

Lose It!

The only thing that has ever worked for me when it comes to weight loss is counting calories, making sure that calories burned from basal metabolism plus exercise is greater than calories in for the week.  Lose it! makes this sooo much easier.  Put in your age and current weight, how much weight you want to lose and how much per week you want that to be. (You HAVE to be realistic. I put in 1/2 pound per week.) Lose it gives you a daily calorie intake you should shoot for and helps you keep track of calories in and calories out through exercise. It has a HUGE database of foods, plus restaurants and brand name foods.  You can also scan bar codes on any packaged foods you buy.  This app is FREE.  The free version does so much, but there is also a premium version that gives you extra features as well. Read my expanded review of Lose it! here.

Now I’m asking for your help.  Let me know what workout apps you love.  I want to add to my collection.

 

Low Back Pain? 80% of Us Have Been There

 

Have you ever suffered from low back pain?  You are not alone.  Approximately 80% of Americans have suffered from it at one time in their lives.  It’s the most common type of pain reported by patients seeking treatment for pain. It’s the number one reason for lost work time, with upper respiratory infections coming in a distant second place.  Medical costs for lower back pain treatment is estimated to be 96 million per year.

The good news is most back pain is not serious, even though it is painful.  A lot of lower back pain can be attributed to a lack of exercise. The combination of tight hamstrings and weak abdominal muscles can lead to back pain.  Here’s a simple test you can do to see if your back pain is caused by this combination:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ2AgzhgV7U&feature=share&list=UUWUK7FK8YSHcuE2PsAaPb4w

If your back pain is caused by tight hamstrings and weak abs, there is even better news.  This type of back pain can be alleviated with very simple exercises.  A daily routine of stretching and strengthening exercises can make you  feel much, much better.  Check out these exercises to get your started.

 

Check back for more exercises to keep your back feeling good.  More coming soon….

Exercise Can Prevent Hip Injuries

Regular exercise and good nutrition are a part of my lifestyle so I can have quality of life and enjoy the years I will be blessed with. This guest post by Elizabeth Carollton supports this view.

Preventing Joint/Hip Injury with Proper Exercise

Did you know that hip injuries that happen over your lifetime can come back to haunt you years later? Hip problems are among the top causes of disability in adults. In many cases, the damage that caused those problems accumulated gradually. That’s usually how hip osteoarthritis develops — one little injury at a time over the years, each one wearing away a bit more of the cartilage that cushions joints.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting around a quarter of all adults. Some will develop arthritis severe enough to warrant hip replacement. Learning how to prevent joint injury with proper exercise can reduce your risk of becoming one of them.

Inactivity: You’ll Feel it in Your Hips

Weak hips and bones can cause a lot of trouble, and inactivity is one of the chief causes of that weakening. Among the issues that can occur as hip muscles weaken are stiffness and limited range of motion, hip pain, excess stress and wear on hip joints and poor balance or unsteadiness while standing and walking. Hip injuries are more likely with weak hip muscles, and eventually, chronic joint problems like arthritis can develop. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis, a common condition in which bones become fragile. Once that happens, even a light bump or fall can result in hip fracture.

Serious hip problems can often be corrected with hip replacement surgery, which has been a blessing to many disabled by these problems. However, preventing hip problems is the better way to go, since hip surgery is not without risk. Recent trouble over recalled hip implants has been a good example of that.

Many patients who had defective or poorly designed metal on metal hip implants used in replacement surgeries have suffered complications ranging from premature implant failure to metallosis and osteolysis, which are serious conditions related to implant debris than can lead to pain, inflammation, tissue death and bone loss.

How Exercise Can Help

Your hips need the support of the muscles that surround them to maintain optimal function. Keeping the hip muscles strong and flexible with regular exercise makes sure they are able to keep the hip joints well-aligned, stable and somewhat insulated from the force exerted on these hard-working, weight-bearing joints as you walk, run, stand and bend.

Strong bones are crucial for hip health, and regular exercise benefits bones too. The stress placed on them during exercise stimulates the production of new bone cells to keep them dense and strong. Last but not least, exercise can help in weight control, which is important to hip health, since excess weight places a lot of strain on weight-bearing joints

Half an hour of exercise five days a week is a simple and effective way to keep your hips strong and healthy. However, avoid activities that pound away at the joints, since they can do more harm than good. Walking, low-impact aerobics, bicycling and swimming strengthen the hip muscles and help maintain bone strength without causing trauma to your hip joints.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

 

Fitness: High Intensity Interval Training

I am really into high intensity interval training lately. Why? It gets you maximun results in a minimum amount of time.  If you are wondering, “just what is all this HIIT business anyway?”, this infographic from greatlist.com will explain it for you.  Then check out some of my tabata workouts and my mountain hike intervals for some HIIT workouts you can try.

 

Exercise and Fitness: Foam Roller Moves You’ll Love

You’ve heard that I love my foam roller, right? Here’s some foam roller exercises that will make you feel great. A big thanks to Greatist.com for sharing their infographic.  Give these a try.  You won’t be sorry!

Foam Rolling Infographic

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com.

Exercise and Fitness: Mountain Hike Workout 3

I am really loving these mountain hike intervals and now I have my hubby hooked on them too. Last week, we did one on the battlefield in Gettysburg.  We were staying close to Culp’s Hill in a B&B called the Farnsworth House. We walked out the door, across the street and in a few minutes we were on the battlefield. The hilly terrain made it a great workout.  When we were done, we took in a little history of the three day Gettysburg battle.

The Gettysburg battlefield at the end of our hike.

This morning we hiked on Stone Creek Road.  It was all uphill during the 30 minute interval. I was breathing as hard as I used to when I ran in the mornings.  It was a much more beautiful walk than the 2 miles around my neighborhood.  We had a crisp, cool early fall morning. I can’t wait to try in again when the leaves start to turn colors.

Here’s some of the exercises we used during the 30 second “work” phases:

Burpees with a vertical jump, skips, basketball lunges, push-ups, defensive slides, speed squats, inchworm,  and walking lunges.

Hopefully I’ll be able to upload a video soon with the exercise we use during the work phases so you can make up your own mountain hike interval!

Fitness Challenge Ideas: Fall Schedule of Events

“Fantastically Fit Friends”, my private Facebook fitness group has been taking a little break over the summer. We still had things to motivate us like Fantastically Fit Franklin and Warrior but we took some time off from competitions.

It’s time to get started again so I decided I should plan a schedule for fall, winter and sping to help my members plan ahead. Here’s what’s in store for the upcoming year. Currently we are doing a ten day “drink your height in water” challenge. Each day, members who are doing the challenge check in with the group and let us know whether they hit their goal or not. Members can earn bonus points in this challenge to apply to the team challenge starting on September 15th.

On 9/15 we will have a two team points challenge. Members earn points for the type and intensity of workouts they do each day. We tabulate according to a spreadsheet that assigns a point value to different kinds of exercises. We compete for 30 days and the winning team has bragging rights until the next team challenge.

Winners of Fitness Challenge

After team challenge #1 we will do an ab challenge.  I haven’t worked out the details on that one yet. I am thinking of making a youtube video with different types of ab exercises on it. Then each time a member wants to get on facebook, they will have to choose one of these exercises and do at least 25 before they can log on.

Another team challenge will be on the schedule prior to the holidays. We will take a short break during the Christmas season, then do two more short challenges before we head out for a coast to coast Stupendous Chase.  We did one of these last year on the East coast and we had a lot of fun with it. (If you want to take a look at some of the things we did, take a look at my Stupendous Chase Pinterest board.) That should keep us busy, motivated and working out for the year. Have you done some fitness challenges with your friends to keep everyone motivated? Please share them. I’m always looking for fresh ideas. Thanks!

Color Me Rad 5K in Pittsburgh

This past Saturday, my sister and I decided to have one last hurrah before the summer ended.  We signed up to walk in the Color Me Rad 5K in Pittsburgh.  For all you 5k lovers, here’s a rundown of what it was like.

This 5k is not really for serious runners. A quote from the promoters info. packet said “we don’t even own a clock”. It is for anyone who wants to come out and have a healthy, fitness oriented party  without the alcohol.  We arrived at 7:30 a.m. The music was already pumping and the promoters were whipping the crowd into a frenzy.  At the start line, there was more music while color packets and t-shirts were being shot from a gun.

We started in waves every 10 minutes (at least 100 people to a wave) and this went on most of the day. There had to have been at least 10,000 people at this event. We were a sea of white when we started, but at each of the color stations, volunteers dubbed the “color bomb squad” blasted you with colored cornstarch powder or a water/powder mixture.  On this warm day, the water stations were welcome relief. The course was very hilly (another drawback for serious runners, no PRs here). It  was crowded so sometimes you had to stop and wait your turn to go through a color station. This didn’t bother me at all since all the Pittsburgh hills were giving us a good workout. I even saw a former student in the race.  I don’t know how in the world she recognized me with a rainbow of colors all over me, but anyway here’s a shout-out to Amy Mack!

At the conclusion of the race, you got your own color packets to bomb people who were still finishing the course.  Our “after” pictures are quite colorful. If you ever do a CMR run, make sure to bring old sheets or towels to cover your car seats.  You will not be a happy camper if you don’t! They remind you to bring some in your pre-race packets.

It was touch and go getting out of the parking lot. There were not nearly as many folks directing traffic on the way out as there were on the way in.  This is a problem the promoters say they will work on for next year’s run. Back at the hotel it was scrub-a-dub-dub to get all the powder off before heading home to Central PA. On Sunday we soaked our tie dyed clothes in vinegar and ironed them to set the colors.

This was a fun way to end our summer for sure.  In the fall Pittsburgh is hosting a Zombie run.  Hmmm… Have you participated in any out-of-the-ordinary 5ks/runs? Fill me in!

Exercise and Fitness: Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer

I have been a Physical Educator for the past 13 years. This summer I decided to set my sights on also becoming a Certified Personal Trainer. When I see the increase in the obesity level in this country, it makes me sad. When I see the cuts in public education funding it makes me frustrated. When I see schools cutting Physical Education and recess time to concentrate on increasing reading and math test scores it makes me angry.

In the future, I believe Americans will have to take their health into their own hands in the form of preventative medicine. I want to be ready to help those individuals who are ready to to take that step.

I started in early July by beginning the ACE Certified Personal Training Course.  This is a course you can do on your own schedule in your own home. I started in the summer so I would have more time to study. The package I got includes a study schedule and a weekly e-mail to keep you on track. I have a year from the date I enrolled to register for the test.  The schedule was written for 12 weeks.  I am taking things a little slower than that! I am on week five right now.

The first four weeks was study of “The Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology”.  I was really glad I already had a Health and PE degree.  This was review of a lot of things I had learned in college.  College was a loooong time ago though so it took me a while to slog through all the information!

This week I started the ACE Personal Training Manual. This reading seems a little easier…at least for now!  ACE has also added a new option “ACE Academy Elite” where you can watch videos and take quizzes that correspond to each chapter in the written study materials.

I’m looking forward to becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress. If you think this is something that may be in your future, feel free to ask any questions you have.