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: Featured Blog of the Week

The featured blog for the first week of March is Fit Bottomed Girls.  This is a great blog for a number of reasons.  First, it’s not just a blog by one person, it’s a blog by four people. Jennipher Walters and Erin Whitehead are the original founders.  They were later joined by Tish Merritt and Kristen Seymour.  They are all journalists with a passion for fitness.  Second, you could literally spend hours surfing this site.  There is a wealth of information from exercise DVD reviews, nutritious recipes, and words of encouragement to workout playlists and give-aways. Whether you are just getting started in the world of fitness, or you are a seasoned veteran, Fit Bottomed Girls is a great blog to put on your go-to list.

Online Fitness Coaching: Featured Blog of the Week

This week’s featured blog is another of my favorite foodie blogs.  Eating Bird Food is a labor of love for Brittany Mullins.  Her story is inspirational because she changed over to a healthy lifestyle as a college student and has continued her healthy ways ever since.  She wants to help others eat well and stay active.

She has great recipes (with colorful photos).  Her latest blog is a review of a restaurant near her home in Richmond, VA.  I like her writing style.  It kind of makes you feel like you are sitting in her living room having a chat. You can also follow her wedding plans in progress along with all the recipes and healthy eating advice.

So check out Eating Bird Food and add it to your favorite foodie blogs!

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: Featured Blog of the Week

This week’s featured blog is snack-girl.com I actually got acquainted with Snack girl when I started to follow her on Twitter.  Whenever a snack looked tasty to me, I checked into her web site.  I have quite a collection of healthy recipes and snack advice from Snack girl. Here’s what she says about why she got into healthy snack blogging.

Lisa Cain, Ph.D., is an avid snacker, foodie, published author, and mother of 2.  An evolutionary biologist by training, she has become obsessed with how food contributes to our overall health.

For example, she is fascinated with the fact that Americans in the 1950’s weighed on average MUCH less than they do now.  Obviously the root cause of the epidemic is what we eat, and she wants to help people make better decisions about what they eat.

She believes that the study of nutrition is overrated and that we should eat as our ancestors did.  Since our ancestors didn’t have convenience stores and Starbucks, she decided to write about snacks to help people understand how to decipher food marketing messages.

She is also a big proponent of food that doesn’t have any packaging at all.”

Snack a little healthier with snack-girl.com

 

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: Featured Blog of the Week

This week’s featured blog of the week is Meals and Miles.  This blog was started by Meghann Anderson.  Her story is familiar to many.  She was active in high school and college, but was not that concerned with healthy nutrition.  After graduation came a desk job. She wasn’t getting any exercise and slowy put on 20 pounds.

This wake up call got Meghann motivated to change her eating habits and start running a little.  Her goal was to lose those 20 pounds.  She did that plus 5 more.  During her journey to get healthy, the blogging community was a big support, so she is giving back by blogging about her newfound healthy lifestyle.

This blog is well organized.  There is a section where you can read about all the races Meghann has participated in and recipes she has tried.  There’s a blogroll of her fav blogs.  She has some really nice reviews of fun things to do in Orlando, Florida and oh yes…she’s getting ready to get married and there’s a nice section on that.

So check out Meals and Miles.  If you are starting a fitness journey, Meghann can be a big help to you.

Online Fitness Coaching: Weekend Proof Your Nutrition Plan

This is my second post in a series of online fitness coaching tips to overcome some of the most common obstacles to regular exercise and healthy nutrition.

Obstacle #2:  “I do great all week. Then I blow my exercise and nutrition plan on the weekends.”

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  We work hard all week long preparing healthy meals, getting our daily workout and staying away from sugary treats.  Now here comes the weekend…family get-togethers, dinner out with friends, a holiday here, a special event there.  Monday morning comes.  We step on the scales while we peek through our hands.  Then we cringe because those two pounds we worked so hard to lose last week are back again…and sometimes they bring a friend or two!  Grrrrr! I’ve collected tips from the blogosphere at sites like Fitness Magazine, Mark’s Daily Apple, and Healthy Affordable Weight Loss.  I have also added a few of my own to help you through the minefield of the weekend.

  1. Stop the all or nothing thinking that surrounds the weekend.  Yes, you overate while you were out with your friends.  That’s no excuse to wave the white flag and binge all weekend.  Get back on track at the next meal.  Get up and move around.  You will feel better and burn off some of that overindulgence.
  2. Set a goal that 4 to 5 of the seven meals you eat from Friday evening to Sunday evening will be made at home with health in mind.  For the other two or three…..
  3. Eat a healthy snack at home before you head out for any “eating outing”.  That includes dinner out, holidays, weddings etc.  If you are not starving when you finally get your food, you will make healthier choices and eat less.  If you end up with big portions, take it home in a doggie bag for later.
  4. Plan ahead.  You can find online menus for almost any restaurant you go to.  Pick out a healthy menu option before you leave.  It can be fun to research the place you are going to eat before you get there.
  5. Be the first to order.  That way you won’t be negatively influenced by someone else’s meal choice.  Plus if you go first, you could positively influence someone else!
  6. Don’t linger at the table after the meal.  Suggest an after dinner walk or activity that doesn’t involve food.   If you don’t have any control over when you leave, order a low cal drink and sip away.
  7. Limit your alcohol consumption.  Alcohol lowers your blood sugar, which triggers eating.  Alcohol contains empty calories.  It also lowers your inhibitions. That will make it harder to say “no” to those tempting snacks and desserts present at your social activities.
  8. Build fun active-ities into your weekend.  Not everything you do should revolve around sitting and eating.  Hubby and I love to ballroom dance, so some weekends center around dance lessons, practices or dances. It’s fun, it’s social and it burns calories.  You may not be a dancer, but find something else you love to do that gets you moving on the weekends.

With these nutrition and exercise tips plus a little practice, those extra pounds and their friends will stop dropping by your house on Monday morning.  Do you have some tips that help you stick to your plan on the weekend?  Comment below!

 

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.