My daughter, Marla, just graduated from college. She has a cool new job at Community Elf and she just got engaged. She’s decided she wants to get back to regular exercise. She ran cross country and track in high school so when she found the couch to 5k program online she decided to give it a try.
She will be guest blogging her experience each week right here. If you are thinking about trying the Couch to 5k program, check in here starting next week to see how it’s going.
Welcome Mike Manning, guest poster! Mike has written some great tips for those of us who are travelling and don’t want to throw our exercise routine out the (airplane) window. Lame joke, I know. He recommends doing some research to plan ahead for your workouts. The internet can make it easy and fun to plan your next trip with fitness in mind.
Fitness for Health-Conscious Travelers
People travel for many different reasons and in several different ways. Whether your travels are for business or pleasure, you may find that the stress of changing schedules and unfamiliar surroundings make getting enough exercise difficult. Even if you exercise regularly at home, staying fit during your travels requires a little planning and awareness.
Learn about your destination before you leave. You might be able to select your own accommodations, and if so, you can book at a hotel that provides fitness amenities that suit your lifestyle. On my most recent trip to California, I researched my hotel beforehand. I found a list of the top San Francisco hotels on a travel review site. I was able to choose a hotel based on amenities. I chose a hotel that had a 24-hour fitness facility so that I could get a workout in at any time of day.
In other circumstances, you might be required to stay at facilities reserved by your company or another party. Either way, learning about the area will help. If you belong to a fitness organization, find out if a nearby gym is available for you to use during your stay. If you enjoy running or walking, learn about local trails or tracks that you might be able to use. Some hotels actually have such amenities on their property for the use of guests.
During your flight or drive to your destination, be sure to stretch and do a few simple exercises in you chair. This will help eliminate stiffness; pain and swelling that can be associated with sitting in a cramped space for extended periods of time.
During layovers or breaks, take time to walk around. Some airports now provide Zen rooms or walking paths for travelers to use.
At your hotel, locate the fitness facilities and learn about amenities such as in-room yoga or aerobic videos that you can use. Before engaging in any activities, take the time to go to your room and stretch or move through a few basic yoga poses to become centered in your new surroundings.
Throughout your stay, be realistic about your fitness goals. You probably won’t be able to keep up the exercise regime that you do at home, but you will be able to spend some time exercising each day. If possible, get up a little early to spend time running, doing yoga or participating in a fitness class at the hotel’s fitness center. If you have a demanding schedule, take advantage of breaks to get your blood flowing. Even five minutes is long enough to stretch and do a few crunches, pushups or leg lifts in a restroom or other secluded area.
My facebook fitness group is gearing up for summer with a challenge inspired by the Surgeon General. The SG’s recommendations for adult exercise calls for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week OR 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week OR a combination of the two. Included in this time should be at least 3 cardio , at least two resistance and at least 1 flexibility workout each week.
We are keeping track of our workouts and posting them to our facebook group wall. I am keeping a running total of the minutes per week and the type of workouts per week. If a group member meets the Surgeon General’s recommendation for the week, they win a badge. I post the badge on the wall and list all the group names who won for the week. Our first badge was the “Love Your Heart” badge.
Next I choose a winner’s name at random and they get to give us all a little mini challenge for the next week. It can be anything as long as it’s healthy! This week’s mini challenge is to wear sunscreen when we are outside. It’s a good one for me since I have been taking my PE classes outside.
My group also requested some help with what to do for flexibility. I made them a 20 minute video of my favorite stretches and posted it to our wall. Here it is so you can use it if you like.
So far the group as a whole has been doing well. Ten out of 16 members earned the first week’s badge, 14 out of 16 exercised 150 minutes or more, 15 out of 16 exercised 75 minutes or more. Week one netted 57 cardio workouts, 34 resistance workouts and 20 flexibility workouts.
Would YOU like to try a fitness challenge with your group? Click here to get point tracking sheets and directions for the “Get Consistent Challenge”.
Are you looking for more fitness challenge ideas? My private facebook fitness group is working on a squat challenge this month. Each day you do a different number of squats. The original challenge was for December, but my group modified it for March. If you like this squat challenge , check out Chickentuna’s blog on Tumblr. She adds a new squat challenge each month. I’m glad my group started with December’s challenge, because March looks killer!
My group is having fun with this challenge. It’s easy to moderate; no point or things for me to keep track of. Everyone just does their squats for the day and reports in. Sometimes people can’t get them all in and they “play catch-up” so they don’t miss any. I doubt they would be doing that if they were not in the challenge group.
Before you start a squat challenge, take a look at a demo or two on how to do a squat correctly. You can find a video on Youtube. Here’s the one I made for my group:
Happy Squatting! If you try it, let me know how your group likes it. Time for me to go do my 70 squats for today…
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.
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.
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!
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:
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
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)
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.
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.
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:
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….
So it’s after the holidays, you ate, you drank, you gained, you slugged. If you need some help to get back on track, look no further than your smart phone and download a free app called “Lose It!”
“Lose it!” is an exercise and diet tracking app that is relatively simple to use. In order for it to work for you, you will need to figure out how many calories you should be eating each day. You may need to go to another website to do this. After looking at several, the website I found most accurate was www.hussmanfitness.org/bmrcalc.htm It will give you a calorie range to stay within. You will need this information to complete the goals section of “Lose It!” Once you have the numbers, you can get started.
The “Lose It!” app is really easy to use on a smart phone and the nice thing is it will travel with you to work, to restaurants and to the gym. You will be able to keep track of all calories in and all calories out. When you keep track of it all, you can’t help but lose weight.
I like to use “Lose It!” after holidays and vacations so those 2 or 3 pounds I gain during these times don’t accumulate to 10 to 15 over time. I have included a Youtube video at the bottom of this post made by an app reviewer to show you how to use “Lose It!” It shows the app on an iphone, but it is almost identical to my Android. Now stop slugging and get busy everybody!
Strength Training is an essential part of everyone’s workout plan. Trouble is, there are some myths floating around that keep many people from strength training. Some people won’t even consider it because of these myths. With the help of the American Council on Exercise, I am here to bust seven of them.
Women will build bulky muscles when they strength train: Ladies, one essential element is missing from our makeup that makes this a myth. Tons of testosterone. Sure we all have a little of the male hormone running around in our systems, but not enough to look like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of old. If women strength train, even with heavy weights three times per week, we will tone up and look leaner and younger. We also will increase our metabolisms which means (BONUS) we can eat more healthy food without adding fat to our frames. Who’s not in favor of that??
You should use light weights and a high amount of reps to tone and heavy weights and low reps to build muscle: This is one I had heard (and believed) for years. Truth is, weather you use heavy weights and low reps, or lighter weights and more reps, your results when it comes to muscle endurance, strength and size will be similar as long as the targeted muscles fatigue in less than 90 seconds.
At some point, you will get too old to lift weights: The good news is that older muscles are very responsive to resistance training. In 2009 a group of 90 year old participants added 4 lbs. of muscle in just 14 weeks of strength training. Strength training has also been shown to add bone density for older adults which is more good news in the fight against osteoporosis.
Kids are too young to lift weights: Not true. The key here is a properly designed program, so have a qualified professional (like a certified personal trainer) work with your child. The biggest benefit for kids is increased bone density. Nine year old girls who took part in a 10 month strength training program increased their bone density by 6.2%. The control group had only a 1.4% increase. Weightlifting also has a much better safety record than other sports activities your children can participate in.
Free Weights are always better than machines: Both types of weights come out even when looking at factors such as concentric and eccentric muscle actions and progressive resistance that fatigues the prime mover muscle groups. Each type has its particular advantages and disadvantages, so you would have to do your research and see which type would be best for your situation.
When you stop strength training the muscle turns to fat: Not only untrue, but impossible. Muscle tissue and fat tissue can’t magically “turn into” each other. When you weight train, your muscles get firmer and stronger and your metabolism increases to get energy to these new and improved muscles. If you continue to eat the same amount of calories as before, your body will use its fat stores to send energy to the muscles (even while you are at rest). If you stop strength training, just the opposite happens. You are more likely to put those fat stores back on. So make weight training a lifestyle commitment. If an injury or illness stops you for any length of time, reduce your calorie intake and avoid the add-on of unwanted fat.
Strength training is bad for your blood pressure: Wrong again. Circuit strength training has a positive affect on resting blood pressure. Research shows an average of 4% lowering of diastolic blood pressure and a 3% lowering of systolic blood pressure after several weeks of circuit strength training. Myths about this more than likely got started when people held their breath during weight training. So remember, keep breathing during strength training sessions.
So…good for women, men, older adults and children. What’s stopping you?? Get started in a strength training program today!
Have you ever done lunges in your fitness program and had knee pain afterwards? Maybe you were doing them incorrectly. Here’s a short video to explain how to do them the right way. When you don’t use proper form for exercises, an injury can sideline you and cause you to quit exercising. That is defeating the purpose of getting fit in the first place. Practice your lunging form in a mirror or have a friend watch you to make sure you are doing them correctly. Protect those knees exercisors!