Monthly Archives: December 2012

Working Out Indoors (Review of DVDs)

Woman Lifting Dumbbell

Hello fellow fitness friends. It’s snowy here. I am not motivated to go to any gym. I stated this before that I am not a huge fan of the gym anyway. I had a personal trainer in the past, and I have better results working out at home than at the gym. For those who love the gym, I’m cheering for you. This post if for people who want to workout at home. Before beginning any workout program check with your doctor first. If you do not workout or have never worked out, please talk with you Doctor. This list is of DVDs I either own and do regularly or have tried or friends have had success with. My goal isn’t to bash or promote anyone’s program, but to give you some insight into my results with them.

Great Workouts for Beginners (new to working out or haven’t worked out in a long time)

i. Zumba. Pretty easy on the joints. If you like Latin music or dancing, it’s fun.

ii. Cardio Kickboxing by Jillian Micheals. I love this DVD. It’s not difficult, but you will sweat unless you’re a super athlete. I love kickboxing so if you have no experience with it, it may be a bit more challenging.

iii. Biggest Loser Cardio Max with Barb Harper. There are several workouts that are great marketed under the Biggest Loser. It’s great that people who were on the show are doing the workout with you. It’s motivation to see them working out with you.

Great Workouts for Intermediate

i. 30 Day Shred by Jillian Micheals. The workouts are ~20 minutes long. They contain three circuits. Each circuit includes strength, cardio, and abs. It’s great for people who are busy and don’t have an hour to commit to working out.

ii. No More Trouble Zones by Jillian Micheals. Love this one. 5 circuits that cover every body part. Each circuit is completed twice and includes 4-5 weight training exercises. It’s ~40 minutes long and includes mostly weight training. The only cardio is the warmup. You can pick and choose which body parts you want to train. You don’t have to do all 5 circuits at once.

iii. The Firm 500 Calorie Workout. This workout includes weights and cardio. It’s 60 minutes long and not a good choice for someone who does not workout at all.  It’s high energy and not many breaks to catch your breath.

iv. Jackie’s One on One Circuit Training. I really like this workout. Some people don’t like it, but I felt a difference the next day. She has three 20 minute workouts. One for the upper body, one for the lower body, and one for the abs. It includes cardio and weights.

v. New York City Ballet Workout. I used to take ballet classes so I picked this one up from the library. The workout is ~60 minutes and I saw vast improvement in my posture, core strength, and my legs became leaner. I had someone ask me if I were a dancer. So you definitely begin to take on the shape of a ballerina. It’s the workout their ballerinas do with some modifications for not having a barr.

Ballerina Dancing

Great for Intermediate  to Advanced

i. Ripped in 30 by Jillian Micheals. This workout reshaped my abs. I did not get 6 pack abs, but I saw a noticeable difference in obliques and a flatter stomach. Many of the ab exercises are done in plank position which is killer. She says week four is the hardest of the 3, however I felt week three was the most challenging. Overall, it’s one of my favorite of her DVDs that I have tried. Each workout is ~20-30 minutes.

ii. P90X. These workouts are 60 minutes long, and people see great results with them. The only issue is the first edition has quite a few chin-ups, pull ups, etc… if you can’t do them or don’t have the equipment for them, it can be limiting. I do enjoy the concept of muscle confusion (you need to change-up your workout to continue to see results). The guys I know love it! I could barely dress myself after my first encounter with the upper body workout.

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iv. Insanity. I have friends who swear by this program and my coworker lost 20 pounds with the program. I have not completed this program, but have seen the after photos and have friends who have been successful. My recommendation would be to be careful. There’s lots of jumping (plyometrics) in the workouts. If you have bad knees or bad form, you can injure yourself.

Final note: Many people get injured at home because they use too heavy of weight, they have bad form, or they are not careful. Please if you’re working out at home consult your doctor, use proper form, watch the DVD first to watch how the moves are done, and use wisdom when choosing weights. If you don’t workout picking up 20 pound weights and going for it, isn’t wisdom.

Well, friends. Still cheering for you. May 2013 bring you happiness and health! Keep up the good work. Every good decision is a step in the right direction.

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Staying Motivated

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One of the most difficult parts of wellness is motivation. It is challenging to stay motivated especially if you are not trying to meet a particular goal. How do we stay motivated when we don’t have weight to lose or we aren’t training for a marathon or event? Glad you asked.

1. Think of wellness as a lifestyle not a means to reach a certain goal and stop. Exercising and eating healthy has life long benefits. It’s a journey not a destination. People who remained active in their youth age slower than those who are sedentary. Bone health is improved by regular exercise. I’ve met people in their 80s who are more fit than people in their 40s because they chose to treat their bodies well. They aren’t in nursing homes either, they are able to care for themselves. Eating well, working out, and minimizing stress helps your mind, body, and soul!

2. Join an online community, club, team, or anything that keeps you engaged with others who are seeking a healthy lifestyle. I like Sparkpeople.com. It’s free and you can track meals, meet other fitness friends, and they have tons of resources. Many of the online programs have apps for the mobile phones. I subscribe to another online fitness program and it’s great to connect with people from all over the world. We log our meals publicly on our message board to hold each other accountable. Joining a team or sport is another great way. You have face to face interactions with people and it’s more fun than working out.

3. Empty the cupboards of crap. What is crap. See info below. If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it. Buy quality food and keep healthy food with you (suggestions…apples, oranges, almonds, hard-boiled eggs).

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4. If you’re a visual person, leave messages for yourself around the house or office. I have a dry erase marker that I write on the bathroom mirror with. It’s a great reminder to get up in the morning and see a message of inspiration. I also went back through some pictures from a few years ago. I was 20 pounds heavier and not happy. I was unhappy because I was exhausted all the time; my clothes did not fit well; my skin was awful; I was stressed, and I never want to return to that place. When I think of giving up my new routines, I think about those photos and that person who wasn’t happy or healthy.

5. Remember it’s more difficult to take the weight off than it is to put it on. I know from experience that it’s far more difficult to get a flat stomach than it is to gain a blubbery one. Months of sugar-free living, working out daily, and too many plank exercises to count attribute to my new flat belly. I don’t want to start over. Do you? If you haven’t met your goal, keep going. Even if you’re only seeing small changes, that’s better than no changes at all.

6. Where the mind goes, the body follows. So, if you think you can do it, you will. Exercise and eating healthy is not only good for the body, it’s good for the mind. I will post more about that in a later post.

Hope these help you stay motivated for life! It’s not about a quick fix, it’s about changing our lives. One decision at a time, one day at a time….

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Categories: Fitness, Mental Health, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Read the Label

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Hello friends. I hope you are doing well and continuing on your journey to wellness. Today I wanted to talk to you about something that gets us in trouble, food labels. No one wants to count calories every day. However, it is wise to take a peak at what we are eating. Many of us don’t even know what serving sizes are or what we are eating. All products sold in stores require a nutrition label. Most restaurants have their nutritional information online. Set aside the calories and think back to some previous posts. Sugar and salt (sodium) get us into loads of trouble. The excess sugar causes our blood sugar to spike and drop-leading to fat storage, and excess sodium causes water retention. Some foods say fat free and they are loaded with sugar and sodium. It’s also beneficial to see if the food we are eating has any vitamins or fiber. Both are beneficial for our health.

I decided to talk about nutrition labels because this past week I had to stop by a local fast food chain for food. I picked something from their “Fit menu.” What I ordered seemed healthy from an ingredient perspective. However, a few days later I decided to check the chains website for nutritional information. OMG-oodness! The one item had 760 calories, 27 grams of fat, & 1,960 grams of sodium. The sodium alone was more than I normally eat in a day. I try to have 5 meals a day with calories of each meal equally~300-400 calories.  The moral of the story is that it’s important if you’re monitoring calories, sugar, salt, or fat to read labels.

Oh, and one item we fail to think about the calories are beverages. I had a friend who loves frappucinos. So, we decided to look up his favorite beverage on line. His drink of choice had over 600 calories for a small with, are you ready for this, ~60 grams of sugar. In one drink he was consuming the same calories as two of my meals and 3 times more sugar than I allow for in a day.

Let’s talk a bit about serving size. We don’t always know what one serving is. Here is a chart to help.

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Most of the meals we eat are several portions instead of one. I truly believe this is why other countries who eat smaller portions but richer foods are thinner than Americans. The USA is the land of “Super Size Me.”

Our portion sizes matter and so does the information pertaining to what we are eating. I hope this post helps you make wise choices with food. Stay Healthy!

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Are You Gluten for Punishment?

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You’ve probably noticed ads everywhere claiming a product is gluten-free. Unless you have an allergy you may not know what gluten is or how it affects the body.

Gluten is a protein. It is normally found in breads, flours, cereals, beer, and soy sauce. Here’s another definition from Wikipedia.

Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten may also be found in some cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.[1]

The problem with gluten is that for some it causes an allergic reaction or some may have an intolerance to the protein. Those who have celiac disease are allergic to gluten and are unable to tolerate foods containing the protein. Your doctor can perform a blood test to determine if you do in fact have celiac disease.

Disclaimer: For more information on celiac disease consult your doctor. The purpose of this post is not to treat or diagnose, as I am not a Physician. I am presenting information based on my own experiences with gluten.

Some of the symptoms of a gluten allergy include:

“Gastrointestinal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
  • Diarrhea, either constant or off and on
  • Lactose intolerance (common when the person is diagnosed, usually goes away after treatment)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float, are foul-smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
  • Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight)

Taken from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001280/. Please check out this link for more information.

Some people have swelling, fatigue, irritability, and numerous other issues when consuming gluten. Others have a slight intolerance to gluten. I do not have celiac disease, however, I don’t feel well when eating bread. I went to my Primary Care Physician because it seemed that whenever I ate bread I was immediately fatigued; I felt horrible. So, after the test came back that I did not have an allergy, I started eliminating most gluten from my diet to see if I simply had an intolerance to gluten rich foods. After a few weeks of no gluten I felt increased energy, etc…

Beware though there are many companies trying to make a buck off of people who do not know what gluten is. They place labels on food that read, “Gluten Free,” when the item should not have gluten. Do some research on foods that contain gluten. If you suspect that you have an allergy, talk to your doctor. Gluten may be the cause of your diet being sabotaged. See link above for more info on gluten hindering the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Here are some resources for you:

Foods that contain gluten from the American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/gluten-free-diets/what-foods-have-gluten.html

Gluten free carbs. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/gluten-free-diets/what-can-i-eat-gf.html?loc=what-foods-have-gluten

I hope this post will help you with your food choices.

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References:

  1. ^ Harding, Anne (31 October 2011). “Gluten in cosmetics may pose hidden threat to celiac patients”. CNN Health. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
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Cardio Only vs. Resistance Training

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Cardiovascular exercise, also called cardio or aerobic exercise, is physical activity which raises the heart rate to around 60 to 85 percent of the heart’s maximum heart rate for an extended period of time, usually twenty minutes or longer, Gregory Hamel.

Resistance training has two different meanings. A broader meaning that refers to any training that uses a resistance to the force of muscular contraction (better termed strength training), and elastic or hydraulic resistance, which refers to a specific type of strength training that uses elastic or hydraulic tension to provide this resistance, Wikipedia.

Hello fitness friends. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Today, I wanted to talk about cardio only vs. resistance training. Of course as previously stated you should talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine or changing your fitness regimen. I wanted to give you some information that helped with my fitness goals.

I was addicted to the elliptical machines at the gym. I also felt like walking or running outside was the best workout for me. If you can only walk or do low impact aerobics, then please do that. Follow your doctor’s orders for you. I, however, saw some weight loss, but my body did not change shape with cardio only. Granted, I did more walking than running outside, and the intensity of our workouts makes a difference. Walking helped me shed a few pounds, yet my arms were still flabby. My abs were not ripped, and I did not have the body shape I wanted. Here’s what resistance training/circuit training (cardio with weights) did for me.

1. Overall Body Change. I now have toned arms, shoulders, abs, and legs. I no longer have flabby arms. I am not bulky, but toned. Most people want to be lean, not skinny and flabby. Resistance training helps to tone the body.

2. Reduction in Body Fat. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. The more muscle you have, the more fat you are burning. Muscle is great for your metabolism.

3. Smaller Body. Muscle takes up less space than fat. Have you ever met someone who weighed the same amount as you, yet they were bigger than you? According to the scale I should wear a bigger size than I do, but I have more muscle than fat. The more fat we have, the bigger we are.

Image found online. Muscle vs. fat.

Having more muscle than body fat also help with aging. See quote from LiveStrong.com.

According to an interview with Reuters Magazine with Dr. Judy Kruger, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention specialist in elder care, exercises that strengthen muscles can reduce the risk of falls and fractures, promote healthy bone density and improve balance and coordination, which can help prevent falls. Benefits like this can lead to a better quality of life during one’s senior years.

Muscle is good for us. Excess body fat is not. I have met people who are runners or do primarily cardio that are in great shape. Their workouts are intense. Meaning they are not doing a leisurely stroll. Our body can serve as resistance for cardio as well. Kickboxing, boxing, rowing, etc…are great ways to challenge the body. Cardio is good for us. If want our body to change shape, we have to challenge our muscles.
Have a great weekend! Stay focused. You can do it!
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