Fitness Challenge Idea: Inspired by the Surgeon General

 

 

 

 

 

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”.

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!

 

“Lose It!”Weight Loss App For Your Smart Phone

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!

 

Seven Strength Training Myths Busted

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.

  1. 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??
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

How to do Lunges the Right Way!

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!

 

Weight Workout for Heel Spur

So I’m still nursing this heel spur and I continue to modify my workouts. If you are dealing with a foot injury, maybe you can benefit from my workout modifications. The doc says I can still lift weights as long as I’m not putting heavy pressure on the foot.  Here’s what I came up with:

Since I am not doing any squats or or lunges with weights, I have added some cardio on the bike on my weight days.

  1. Two minute bike warm-up followed by a four minute bike tabata
  2. Total body weight workout, eliminating any squatting or lunging movements. If I could do the weight move and eliminate the squat or lunge. (Example: kneeling shoulder press instead of a shoulder press with a lunge) I did it.
  3. Second two minute bike tabata, followed by a bike cool-down and a ten minute stretch.

10 Minute Core Workout Video

My private fitness group has started our 10 days of abs workout challenge.  The beginner Ab workout video is being used and I just added this intermediate workout video.  I’m sharing it here so you can use it too. I am creating a spreadsheet to keep track of participant’s workouts.  When they get to ten, they get 25 bonus points toward our next points challenge. In the meantime, we will all end up with killer abs!

 

 

Beginner Ab Workout

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, we were stuck inside while Hurrican Sandy raged outside. I used my time wisely and made a video for my private facebook  fitness group.  We are starting an ab challenge.  The challenge is ten days of abs, the participants choose what days to do their workouts and post on the site when they do them. If they do all ten days of abs, they get bonus points for our next points challenge. So…here’s my beginner ab workout video I made. It works your upper and lower abs, obliques and back muscles to help strengthen your core. It’s almost ten minutes long.  Look for the intermediate and advanced ab workout soon…

 

Fitness: Rip Deck Workout App

Ever do the Deck of Cards Workout? Each suit represents a different type of exercise (hearts are jumping jacks, spades are burpees etc.). Each card stands for a certain number of reps. My hubby tried this the old school way (real deck of cards) with his group training class.  Being the techie that he is, he googled “deck of cards workout” and found the Rip Deck Workout App.

 

This app gives you four levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced and custom). Once you set up your workout, you just tap the screen to flip your cards.  It gives you the suit, what exercise you should do, and the number of reps to complete. All you need to do is follow the directions. Simple! The workout takes about 30 minutes.  You can do it literally anywhere and you don’t need any equipment at all.

It times you on each exercise and gives you a breakdown of how many reps you completed and how long it took to do each card. It has a social component too.  You can e-mail your results to a friend and challenge them to beat your score.  You can also post your results on facebook or twitter.

The cost of this app is only 99 cents.  If you use it and get in great shape, it will be well worth the investment! If you have used Rip Deck, let me know what you think about it.