Why do YOU Exercise?

When most people start an exercise program, the reason they give is “to lose weight”.  It’s no wonder. Our culture is obsessed with thinness and equates being thin with being happy.

If you ask someone who has made exercise and fitness a part of their lifestyle, you will get a very different answer.  Did you know that money, looks and status contribute to only 10% of our happiness?  (Idea Fitness Journal, “The Skinny on Happiness”)

A long-term exerciser will have other reasons as to why they continue to work out. They feel healthier, more relaxed or less stressed.  They have more energy, more focus, are more productive at work. They can keep up with their kids or grandchildren.  They experience a reduction in chronic pain. They are training for a future fitness event. They have made a new set of friends they enjoy.  And the list can go on.

Here’s just one example of the  reasons I exercise almost every day.  On October 18th, my oldest daughter got married.  We have been planning and preparing for this day for almost a year.  The weekend involved a trip to Pittsburgh for my side of the family.  On Saturday morning, I woke up with an overabundance of energy.  I’m not one to show my excitement on the outside.  It all builds up on the inside.  By 7 a.m. I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin.

Marladownaisle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank goodness the hotel had a nice size gym.  A half hour on the elliptical and the stationary bike and I was much calmer.  Good thing..as later in the day we were stuck in a traffic jam getting back from hair and make-up and it was touch and go on the decision about an outdoor service.  Thanks to my workout, I was able to stay much calmer and really enjoy such an important day.

sueandbobdance1

 

So what are YOUR reasons for working out regularly?  If you  haven’t started yet, why do you want to get started? #notjustweightloss

How to Stay Fit on Vacation

Recently I was invited by Jennifer Whitehair (she promotes vacationing in Las Vegas and it sounds like there is tons to do there besides gambling and going to see shows on the strip) to blog about staying fit on vacation. It’s a part of #TravelFit2014. She contacted me right before I was headed to South Bethany Beach Delaware.

We have been going to Sunset Beach, NC (and loved it) for years. This year all of our young adult kids have jobs that don’t mesh too well with traveling 12 hours away so we decided to bring the party North.

This is a perfect time for me to explore what kinds of fun things I can do to stay in shape while I enjoy the shores of South Bethany for two weeks.

June 15 was our first full day here. I decided to try some Yoga on the beach. I have my P90X Yoga X pretty well memorized so I just walked down the beach access and gave it a shot. It was great gazing at the ocean while doing my sun salutations. I felt very relaxed after about an hour doing Yoga in the wind and salt air. Sure beats my basement home gym!


Today my sister and I took a two mile bike ride up highway 1 to Bethany Beach. There is a bike path that runs parallel to the road. We were able to park the bikes and walk around, check out the shops and restaurants, and walk the boardwalk a bit. It was a beautiful day for it! On the way back DelDot had a bike safety station and installed free lights on our bikes. Thanks 🙂

When we got back to the beach house, I decided to use my 12 Minute Athlete app on my smartphone to get some resistance exercise. This app is great for traveling and it only costs about a dollar so the price is right. You just put in how long you want to work out (12 or 16 minutes) and what equipment you have and it creates a workout for you. If you don’t like it, you just shake it and it creates another one. Since it didn’t have resistance bands as an option for equipment, I had it create a bodyweight workout and substituted 2 band exercises for two bodyweight exercises. I just went under the beach house in the shade. Who needs to spend extra money to go to the gym?

Online Fitness Coaching: A (Healthy) Trip to Pittsburgh

This past weekend we combined a trip to see our daughter in Pittsburgh with a trip to the Apple store in Shadyside to get an iPad 3 (yippee!) Since hubby and I are trying to keep it on the healthy side we combined (kind of) skinny dining out, exercise and walking. We didn’t leave until early Saturday morning so I got my ChaLean Extreme weightlifting in on Friday night.  I took my water bottle in the car and made sure I packed two Pure Protein bars to ward off those nasty Sheetz convenience store snacks.

We were at at my daughter Marla’s house in about three hours and from there we walked to the Apple store. It was close to her house in a funky little neighborhood filled with boutiques, shops and restaurants.  I sat in on an iPad basics workshop while hubby talked business with an Apple “genius”. If you have never shopped at an Apple store, it’s a pretty positive experience. Within about an hour we had purchased an iPad 3, had it all set up to use and knew the basics on how to operate it. (Stay tuned for reviews on health and fitness apps for you to try.)

After our big purchase, we all headed for Mercurio’s, a cute little restaurant just around the corner. They serve salads, sandwiches and pizza cooked in a wood fired oven. I ordered a “fungi”. It had mushrooms, marinara, fresh mozzarella and a tasty thin crust. We treated ourselves to some gelato, a Mercurios special. It had half the butter fat of ice cream and was delicious.

Now it was time to check in to our hotel and hit the gym for a workout. The kids decided to hang out in the room and relax. Hubby brought a circuit workout from his trainer. I decided to take advantage of the really nice gym and did 40 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes on the recumbent bike. Now we were ready for our complimentary free drink!

Next we headed for an old school restaurant in Greentree Marla found on the Internet. It was decorated in warm wood and featured Italian food. I had pasta in vodka sauce (ok not real healthy but definitely delicious). After dinner we hung out together in our room. Since I rarely sit still at work or home, this was heavenly.

Sunday was brunch at the Cheesecake Factory with my college roomie, Wanda. She and I both opted for the energy breakfast: egg whites, chicken breasts and mushrooms. Yum.  After some relaxing and lots of great conversation, it was time to head back home.  Hubby and I had a (mostly) healthy weekend, a great visit with our daughter and my roomie and a new tech toy to play with.  What could be better?

Online Fitness Coaching: Tough Love

Happy Easter weekend everybody.  I hope you are having a great one.  I spent the weekend with family and friends.  Our grown-up kids had a great time in an extreme egg hunt at my parents house.

Hubby and I took a three mile walk after church this morning.  We are getting ready for a 5k walk coming up in June. The weather was perfect for a long walk; sunny but cool.

I tried a new recipe from Skinnytaste.com for our Easter dinner.  I made Skinny stuffed mushrooms.  I opted for feta cheese instead of bacon since two other dishes at our buffet style dinner were made with bacon.  They turned out delicious and at only 35 calories each, the guilt factor was pretty low.

This is what they looked like before I baked them in the oven for 20 minutes.  There weren’t any left when we came home from my mom’s.

Last week I went to a spaghetti dinner to support my sister’s relay for life team.  They were raffling off several prizes.  You bought raffle tickets and put them in bags for different prizes you wanted to win.  I won a free Zumba class.  The reason I won?  I put my ticket in the bag and there were only two other tickets in the Zumba bag.  The other prizes were things like whoopie pies, movie treat baskets and things for your home.

 

I’ve decided it’s time for a  little fitness coach tough love.  Why were the whoopie pies the popular raffle items and the exercise classes the unpopular ones?  Beacause most of us would rather choose the easy, no work, sugar treat that won’t give you any benefit in the long run than the prize that requires a little effort from the winner, but is a lot more beneficial in the long run.

Most of us say we want to get healthy by eating right and exercising, but when it comes time to do the work to get there we have a hundred excuses.  We spend lots of time talking ourselves out of exercising and eating healthy.  We spend even more time making excuses for overeating and sitting on our butts.  If you want to be healthy, if you want to get strong, if you want to look good, if you want to lower your cholesterol, if you want to get off the meds, if you want to take the stress off your joints, you have to do the work.

There is no magic pill, there is no operation or gadget that makes it easy.  You have to take the time and make the commitment.  You have to do the work.  And guess what?  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes time.  If you decide to make the change to be healthy and see it through, you will feel so much better, both inside and out, but YOU have to do the work.  So if you are ready..what are you waiting for?  Get busy..no excuses..GO!

 

 

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Fitness Challenge Ideas

In my last post I showed you how to start a private fitness group on facebook.  So now that you have a group, what the heck are you going to do with it?  Here’s some ideas for challenges.  The goal is to keep your members excited and motivated to work out and eat well.

The first thing we did as a group was to set weekly goals and post our progress.  Each member had different goals.  Just putting them in writing and declaring them to a group of people makes it more likely that we will reach them.  It’s a bonus that we get feedback as we make progress.  We also get encouragement if we fall short or get frustrated.

A challenge we did early on was a  water challenge.  We each figured out how much water we should drink each day according to our weight (the rule of thumb is half your weight in ounces).  I needed about 64 oz. Then we posted if we made the goal or not.  I tried harder to get to 64 oz. during the two weeks we did this and I know I am still drinking more water now.  It has become a habit. A good one. 🙂

Next came the points challenge.  This has been really popular!  Sharon, one of my group members had a chart that assigned a point value to different intensities of exercise. We earn points depending on what workout we do and how many minutes we spend at it.  We have done two of these so far.  The first challenge featured 2 teams of 12 people.  The second had 6 teams of 4 people.  They both lasted for 30 days.  Members posted their points for each day in our group and I added them up using a spread sheet. (Thanks to my computer hubby for setting it up for me!)  You cannot believe how competitive this got.  After the first challenge I had several members message me to thank me and tell me how much weight they had lost.  They said they would not have stuck with it had it not been for the extra motivation of the points challenge.

We are now in the middle of “The Stupendous Chase” loosely based on “The Amazing Race”.  I mapped out a route using Google maps from the Central PA to Key West.  We are taking the round-a-bout way with stops in ten major cities.  We are using the same point system to “travel”.  One point equals one mile.  This challenge is being done in partners.  Both partners need to get to each city using their points and then must do some type of challenge.  Here’s some examples:  In Washington DC, we had to go to the American Ice Company in Georgetown (via website) and order menu items that were preselected.  Each team had to send me the bill with 15% tip included.  If they sent the correct amount, they had completed the challenge.  In Virginia Beach each team had to take part in a water sport of their choice and post a picture to the site.  The best one was Nancy’s picture.  She stood in the creek behind her house pretending to water ski.  I laughed when I saw it until I almost fell out of my computer chair.

I will be travelling quite and bit this summer and will need to come up with some challenges that won’t require keeping track of points.  So far I think I will do “Fantastically Fit Friends, where are you?”  Everyone will get a little FFF poster to hold in pictures where they are doing fitness activities away from home.  They will post the picture with a little discription of the activity.  Another idea is “virtual fitness field trips”.  Any member can set up a field trip.  Let’s say my hubby Bob wants to try a spinning class at the local YMCA.  He posts it as an event on the group site.  Anyone who is local can go with him.  Anyone from out of the area can go to one where they live.  Then they can post in the site and compare notes.

Do you have some novel ideas for fitness challenges that you could use in a private Facebook group?  Post them here!  We could end up with a giant brainstorming session and ALL end up with some great new ideas.

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Getting Fit in Spite of Cancer

As I write this post Penn State University is holding THON one of the biggest student fundraisers in the nation for The Four Diamonds Fund.  Money (78 million to date) goes to Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital to help fight childhood cancer.   It seems like the perfect time to welcome my next guest blogger, David Haas. He has some great online fitness coaching  for those of you who may be fighting cancer.  If you know or love someone who is fighting the cancer battle, point them to this post. 

Getting Fit In Spite of Cancer

Whether you are recovering mesothelioma treatment or your treatment is still in progress, you may find that you are feeling listless, frustrated and constantly fatigued. While there is no magic formula that will make that all go away, you will find that you can mitigate some of the symptoms through exercise. According to the National Cancer Institute, a panel of 13 experts in fields ranging from exercise training to cancer stated that one of the most important things that a cancer patient or survivor can do is to avoid inactivity. This is news that can change the way that you look at your recovery.

In the first place, one thing that cancer survivors have to think about is what they are capable of. If you worked out a great deal before your diagnosis, you may want to go immediately back to where you were. In many cases, this is not possible, though you may find that you can get back there eventually. While this is disappointing, one way that many people get through this is by thinking that they are doing more than they were yesterday. Take some time to think about what your options are in this regard and what kind of exercises you might want to resume.

If you are thinking that you have never worked out before, you will find that this is a good time to start. Not only does working out allow you to reassert control over your body, you will also find that it releases endorphins that allow you to feel good. This release of adrenaline is a great way to burn off the stress that so often goes with cancer treatment, even after a full recovery has been affected. If you have never really exercised before, speak with a doctor and discuss what your options might be and what you can do to make sure that you are not going to hurt yourself.

Remember that it is okay to start small. There are plenty of people who find that just a walk up and down the street is what they can handle at first. Push yourself a little, but remember to take care of yourself as well. Exercising allows you to stay in tune with your body and to put it to work for you. So many people think that they are prisoners in their body, but the truth is that it is a tool. It may not always work well, but it is yours and you can sharpen and refine it.

Take some time to learn more about what kind of exercises are going to work best for you. This is a wonderful time get back in control, no matter where in your treatment you are. Consider how you can work out and fend off feelings of fear and worry.

About the Author

Joining the organization in 2011, David Haas is a cancer support group and  awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In addition to  researching the many valuable programs available to our site’s visitors, David  often blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the Mesothelioma Cancer  Alliance, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer, while  creating relationships with similar organizations.

David can be reached at dhaas@mesotheliomacanceralliance.org

Read more: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/david/bio.htm#ixzz1mlcBn5ZY

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Dealing With Chronic Injuries

This is the fourth blog in this online fitness coaching series about common obstacles to regular exercise and healthy nutrition.

Obstacle #4 “I find myself in this negative spiral:  I get a minor injury and stop exercising to save myself for my physical job.  Then I get reinjured while working and coming back to workouts before I’m healed.  This leads to an even longer rehab, discouragement, depression and eating for comfort.  Weight gain is next followed by more discouragement, more eating and  more weight gain.  Yikes!”

Here are tips from myself and About.com on dealing with overuse injuries so they don’t turn into the dreaded “negative spiral”.

Before diving into these tips, I should give this important advice. If you have not been exercising regularly, get evaluated by a doctor before starting, to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise.  Ok that’s covered!

To prevent injury in the first place….

  • Start out slowly!  Many chronic injuries happen because people new to exercise or returning to exercise try to do too much too soon.  Apply the ten percent rule.  Increase your intensity by only 10% at a time.  So if you were running two miles a day and wanted to increase the distance, you would only increase by 2/10 of a mile. Run this way for at least a week before you decide to increase distance again.  Increase time or weight using the same rule.
  • Listen to your body. If you are becoming fatigued to the point where you are not performing the exercise with the correct form, it’s time to stop.  If you are experiencing unusual aches or pains during your workout you are probably overdoing it.
  • Know the proper technique.  Many chronic injuries are caused by poor technique.  Watch a “basics” video.  Observe yourself doing the exercise in a mirror.  Work with a coach, fitness coach or a personal trainer to make sure you are doing exercises with good form.
  • Vary your routine.  Don’t do the same exercise routine over and over every day.  This is an invitation to an overuse injury.  A good workout regemin should include strength training, cardio, interval training and flexibility.  You should also have one day of rest (you can use a day of recreational fitness) each week.
  • Wear the right type of athletic shoe.  There are sneakers for every sport imaginable these days that give the right kind of support for the activity you will be doing.  Have someone trained to fit your sneakers help you. Replace sneakers when they begin to break down.

If you get injured….

  • RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  Ice should be applied 20 minutes each hour.
  • Don’t come back full strength too soon.  You should be pain free, no swelling, have full range of motion (compared to your non-injured part), be able to bear weight without limping or throw with proper form.
  • Modify exercises until the injury feels strong enough to go back to the move done normally.  I have wrist issues when I do push-ups.  When they crop up, the first thing I try are push-up stands.  If that doesn’t do the trick, I modify the push-up by going to my knees instead of my toes.  When my wrist feels strong enough, I go back to toes.  Sometimes I need to modify the number I do on my toes until the wrist gets even stronger.
  • Change your workout.  For example, if you have a knee injury, you may need to bike or swim instead of run or walk.  You can also develop  circuit training  that won’t involve the injury.

If the injury continues to get worse or does not improve, you should get yourself to the doctor or an athletic trainer.

What chronic injuries have you had to deal with?  How did you deal with the “negative spiral”?  Your comment may help someone else who is struggling.

 

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Tackling Food Pushers

This is the third post in my online fitness coaching series to help you overcome common obstacles to regular exercise and good nutrition.

Obstacle #3  “When I go to functions with family some people push me to eat more than I know is good for me.”

We all have a food pusher on our family tree or in our circle of friends.  It goes something like this:

Food Pusher “(Insert your name here), what else can I give you to eat?”

You “Nothing, (insert food pusher’s name here), I’m full.

Food Pusher  “Oh, you can’t be full yet.  Don’t you want more mashed potatoes?”

You “No thank you, I’m good.”

Food Pusher “How about some more roast beef?  You don’t want me to have to throw all this good food out do you?”

You “Really, it was great, but I can’t eat another bite.”

Food Pusher “Well, make sure you save room for a BIG piece of cake later.  It’s your favorite and I made it especially for you!”

You (Sighs)

Food Pushers usually mean well.  Food equals love to them.  The more food they cook for you= the more love they have for you.  The more food you eat= the more love you have for them.  I’m sure you are spotting the problem here.  Here are nine tips to help you navigate this minefield of food and emotional connections.

  1. Be honest about your weight loss efforts.  Tell your family or friends that you have decided to really watch the amount and kinds of food you are eating.  You can tell them it’s doctor’s orders if that takes the pressure off you.  Then ask them to help you by respecting your refusals on seconds and desserts.
  2. Eat slowly and enjoy your meal.  While you do that, the food pusher has offered everyone else firsts AND seconds.  By the time you finish it will be clean up time and the pressure to eat more will be lessened.
  3. Eat smaller portions of your regular meal.  Take a little bit of everything.  During the chaos of the big food dishout, the food pusher won’t notice.  Then take a small portion of dessert.  If Food Pusher asks why say,” I’m so full from that wonderful dinner!”
  4. Use stealthy stall tactics.  When asked to take seconds or dessert, again exclaim that you are really full from the wonderful dinner and you would like to wait till later.  Later may never come and Food Pusher may never notice.  He/she may have moved on to someone else by then.

Some food pushers are of the “misery loves company” persuasion.  They feel better about overeating if you are overeating with them.  These folks are often more persistent in their offers.  Here’s some tips for them.

  1. If you are asked repeatedly to take seconds say, “I couldn’t possibly eat another bite right now.  If you are offering doggie bags, I would love to take some home.”
  2. Just offer a polite, “no thank you” without an explanation.  Sometimes these can be shot down easily by the food pusher and that could leave you scrambling and eventually giving in.
  3. Apply the broken record technique.  Apply the tip above as many times as necessary.
  4. Bait and Switch:  Answer repeated offers for seconds or desserts with a question about the kids, the grandkids or an upcoming trip that’s planned. Be very interested in the response.  Your attention= love too!
  5. Bring a healthy side dish or dessert to share with everyone else. Combat unhealthy food pushing with healthy food.  It may turn out to be the most popular dish at the event!

Have you had to deal with a food pusher?  What were you faced with and how did you handle it?  Comment below.  Your advice could help someone else in their exercise fitness and nutrition journey.

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Finding Time to Work Out and Eat Well

I polled my Facebook friends and fans to see what obstacles they face when trying to exercise regularly and eat healthy food.  Over the next few weeks my online fitness coaching posts will offer advice on how to overcome each of these obstacles.

Obstacle #1             “I don’t have time to work out or cook healthy meals.”

This obstacle to healthy living is one we all struggle with at times.  Here are 10 tips to overcome it.

Exercise

1.  The surgeon general recommends adults get 60 minutes of exercise a day.  This 60 minutes doesn’t have to happen all at once.  You can get some exercise in when you are working (waiting) on something else.  I have a friend who sneaks some push-ups or sit-ups into her schedule every time she makes her hubby some popcorn.

2. Break your workout into smaller bites.  Today’s workout for me included a 20 minute brisk walk  early in the morning.  After work I did 30 minutes of Zumba and 10 minutes of Yoga.  There are workout programs like Ten Minute Trainer that break things into smaller chunks for you.

3. Schedule workouts when you have less distractions in your day.  For some people that is early in the morning.  I get home earlier than everyone else in the family so I get it done before they get home for the evening.

4.  Multi-task your workout.  Check e-mail on your Smart Phone while you are on the treadmill.  Have to watch the kids?  Run and play with them instead of just watching.  Make those phone calls on your list while you are taking a brisk walk.  When my youngest daughter was little she loved to play “Hunchback of Notre Dame”  This game amounted to me carrying her up the steps to our deck, holding her in the air and yelling, “Sanctuary!” We played until I couldn’t lift her up anymore.  If you think that wasn’t a workout you are wrong.  I was exhausted after that game.

5.  Remember that “functional workouts” can be part of your 60 minutes too.  Right now we are doing a lot of snow shovelling where I live.  It’s definitely a workout.  Other things that would qualify are yardwork, housecleaning, moving boxes, barn work, gardening and many, many others.

Nutrition

1.  Cook a healthy dish for dinner. Make enough so you can pack it up in some Tupperware and take it for lunch the next day.  Now you have two healthy meals instead of one.

2.  Make healthy recipes on the weekends when you are less pressed for time. Store them and freeze them.  Simply thaw and heat throughout the week.

3.  Buy presliced fruits and veggies that you can snack on instead of junk.

4.  Check the internet for healthy recipes that are quick and easy.  Google “easy healthy recipes” and see what you find.  One of my favorites that I just featured is The Picky Eater.

5.  Breakfast is the meal when I am most rushed and it truly is the most important meal of the day.  What about a protein shake for breakfast?  My favorite kind is Shakeology.  It’s easy and quick to make and I can drink it on the way to work (major time saver). It’s full of protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and “superfoods”.

Try one or more of these online fitness coaching timesaving tips and let me know how they worked for you.  Do you have any of your own timesaving tips for staying healthy?  Leave a comment below.

 

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Fitness Tips to Get Back on Track

In my last blog posts, I gave nutrition tips to get you back on track after the big holiday binge.  Here are eight online fitness coaching tips to get you back on the workout track.

  1.  Don’t beat yourself up about falling off the workout wagon.  Just get back on.  Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to become (or stay) sedentary.

  2. Just do it!  It’s a good motto.  Start moving.  Use the stairs and stay out of the elevator.  Walk instead of drive whenever you can.  Take a look at your daily routine and see where you can add some activity.

  3. Get enough sleep.  There have been studies that link lack of sleep and a higher chance of obesity.  Adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

  4. Write a fitness plan so you know where you want to go and how to get there.  If you set some fitness goals and write out specific steps to reach your goal, you will be surprised at how focused you can become.

  5. Start a new workout you are jazzed about.  It will motivate you to stick with it.  I try to change my workout in some way every 30 days.

  6. Pick a consistent time to work out.  Make an appointment with yourself.  Put it on your calendar or in your Smart Phone.  Treat it like any other appointment and keep it.

  7. Join with others in a fitness challenge.  I am running one right now in a private group on Facebook.  We have six teams of four people from all over the country. We receive points for the time and intensity of our workouts each day.  Teams compete for 30 days.  The team with the highest number of points wins.  It’s amazing how motivating it is, even when there is no prize.

  8. Have one other person be your accountability buddy.  Tell your buddy what your goals are and have them check in with you to see how you are doing.  It will make you more likely to stick with your workout if you know someone will be checking on you.  It can be as easy as a text or e-mail contact every day.

Make 2012 a great new start for healthy eating and regular exercise.  Comment and let me know what you are doing to get back on track after the holidays.