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I don’t know where I *stole* this from, but it is fantastic in its comprehensive examination of what may/may not be personal barriers to getting more exercise and leading a more active lifestyle.

One of the things that has most recently become evident to me is that I LIKE spinning and I LIKE lifting, so they don’t feel so much like work to me anymore. They are more like hobbies now than “exercise.” I want to feel the same about karate, but I’m not there yet and of course I am wanting to fall in love with running but my schedule has been inconsistent at best with the snow/sleet outside.

I am filling my weekends with more active stuff like spinning, piano, karate, walking the dog, etc and trying to spend less time lying around eating and reading. Well, the reading part can stay! And despite the slow battle against the “lbs” I won’t quit because I love how I FEEL even if I’m still struggling with how I look. I’m also surrounding myself (easy to do in New England) with fit and active people who eat healthy and are full of energy. Josh plays 3 sports; Dawna loves to swim; Amy and Corey teach spin class, 1/2 my office does weight watchers or something therelike. So I have also begun changing who I associate with as well.

From the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention…

Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” —Anonymous

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been struggling lately to drink as much water as I should. I have been mostly good about not drinking soda, even diet soda. We don’t keep it at the house anymore here in NH and when I went home to VA I was disappointed (but ultimately glad) that there was NO soda at all in the house. I grabbed this article from here.

Why Drinking H2O is the key to Weight Loss by Maia Appleby

Don’t roll your eyes! The potion for losing that excess body fat is all around you. It covers two thirds of the planet. If you eat right and exercise at the intensity, frequency and duration proper for you, but still can’t get rid of a little paunch here and there, you’re probably just not drinking enough water.

No need to get defensive. You’re actually quite normal. Most people don’t drink enough water. Most people are also carrying around a few more pounds than they would be if they did drink enough water. If you can’t seem to get that weight off, try drowning your sorrows in nature’s magical weight-loss mineral. It works, and here’s why:

“What on Earth is ‘metabolism’, anyway?” People use the term all the time, but ask them what it means and you’ll get all kinds of answers. Merriam Webster defines it as, “The process by which a substance is handled in the body.” A little vague, but that’s really all it means.

There are many forms of metabolism going on in your body right now, but the one everyone is talking about it the metabolism of fat. This is actually something that the liver does when it converts stored fat to energy. The liver has other functions, but this is one of its main jobs.

Unfortunately, another of the liver’s duties is to pick up the slack for the kidneys, which need plenty of water to work properly. If the kidneys are water-deprived, the liver has to do their work along with its own, lowering its total productivity. It then can’t metabolize fat as quickly or efficiently as it could when the kidneys were pulling their own weight. If you allow this to happen, not only are you being unfair to your liver, but you’re also setting yourself up to store fat.

“I’ve tried it and I couldn’t stand it!” The problem is that, though many decide to increase their water intake, very few stick with it. It’s understandable. During the first few days of drinking more water than your body is accustomed to, you’re running to the bathroom constantly. This can be very discouraging, and it can certainly interfere with an otherwise normal day at work. It seems that the water is coming out just as fast as it’s going in, and many people decide that their new hydration habit is fruitless.

Do take heed , though. What is really happening is that your body is flushing itself of the water it has been storing throughout all those years of “survival mode”. It takes a while, but this is a beautiful thing happening to you. As you continue to give your body all the water it could ask for, it gets rid of what it doesn’t need. It gets rid of the water it was holding onto in your ankles and your hips and thighs, maybe even around your belly. You are excreting much more than you realize. Your body figures it doesn’t need to save these stores anymore; it’s trusting that the water will keep coming, and if it does, eventually, the flushing (of both the body and the potty) will cease, allowing the human to return to a normal life. It’s true. This is called the “breakthrough point.”

One recent finding, as irresponsible as it may be, that caffeine increases the body’s fat-burning potential has many people loading up on coffee before going to the gym. This finding may hold some degree of truth in it, but caffeine is, in essence, a diuretic, and diuretics dehydrate. Caffeine may increase the heart rate, causing a few more calories to be burned, but this is at the expense of the muscles, which need water to function properly. This isn’t doing your heart any favors, either. It’s already working hard enough during your workout. Never mix caffeine and exercise. In fact, your best bet is to stay away from caffeine all together. It’s a big bully that pushes your friend water out of your system.

Water is the best beauty treatment. You’ve heard this since high school, and it’s true. Water will do wonders for your looks! It flushes out impurities in your skin, leaving you with a clear, glowing complexion. It also makes your skin look younger. Skin that is becoming saggy, either due to aging or weight loss, plumps up very nicely when the skin cells are hydrated.

In addition, it improves muscle tone. You can lift weights until you’re blue in the face, but if your muscles are suffering from a drought, you won’t notice a pleasant difference in your appearance. Muscles that have all the water they need contract more easily, making your workout more effective, and you’ll look much nicer than if you had flabby muscles under sagging skin.

“Eight glasses a day? Are you kidding?!” It’s really not that much. Eight 8-ounce glasses amount to about two quarts of water. This is okay for the average person, but if you’re overweight, you should drink another eight ounces for every 25 pounds of excess weight you carry. You should also up this if you live in a hot climate or exercise very intensely.

This water consumption should be spread out throughout the day. It’s not healthy at all to drink too much water at one time. Try to pick three or four times a day when you can have a big glass of water, and then sip in between. Don’t let yourself get thirsty. If you feel thirsty, you’re already becoming dehydrated. Drink when you’re not thirsty yet.

Do you think water is yucky? Drinking other fluids will certainly help hydrate your body, but the extra calories, sugar, additives and whatever else aren’t what you need. Try a slice of lemon or lime in the glass, or if you really think you hate water, try a flavored water. Just make sure you read the labels. Remember that you’re going to be consuming a lot of this fluid.

It’s probably a good idea to stop drinking water a good three hours before you go to bed. You know why.

“How cold should it be?” This is debatable. Most experts lean toward cold water, because the stomach absorbs it more quickly. There is also some evidence that cold water might enhance fat burning.On the other hand, warmer water is easier to drink in large quantities, and you might drink more of it without even realizing it. Do whatever suits you, here. Just drink it!

When you drink all the water you need, you will very quickly notice a decrease in your appetite, possibly even on the first day! If you’re serious about becoming leaner and healthier, drinking water is an absolute must. If you’re doing everything else right and still not seeing results, this might just what’s missing.

10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

15 hours ago ago by writingimpromptu. Spam? Tags: Nutrition, Fitness, health

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

By Ray Burton

I’m sorry if I step on toes with this one, but in this politically correct world where the truth is hard to come by its easy to get opinions that make you feel good about yourself. While I do want you to like who you are, I will not say what people want to hear if it’s not the truth. I’ll say what you don’t want to hear. So if you have been working out for a few months and don’t like what you see, there is a problem with what you are doing. Here are some of the things it could be.

Why Cant I Lose Weight?

1. You don’t eat 5-6 times a day. I hear it all the time, “I cant eat that much or I will get fat”. Well, you’re already fat so why don’t you try to lose weight my way? Eat 5-6 times a day to get the nutrients you need to build muscle and speed up your metabolic rate. You’re not going to make it through result producing workouts on two Twinkies and some fruit roll ups.

2. You’re eating too many carbs in the evening. You should taper off your carbs towards the end of the day. Use these energy gems to fuel your workouts and get your day started. There is no need to eat lots of carbs if you’re just going to bed. They will be stored as fat.

3. You chump out on your cardio. Don’t think that just getting on the treadmill will do it. You need to sweat and you need to breath hard. If you do 30 minutes of cardio and your shirt isn’t wet, you have been fooling yourself. Get your heart rate to at least 60% with the goal of 70% for some real results.

4. You don’t drink a gallon of water a day. Lack of water decreases performance and reduces protein synthesis. Not to mention the multitude of other systems that need water to work at peak efficiency.

5. You think you can get away with eating junk. You cant. Have a cheat day, don’t have a cheat week. You are not a special genetic phenomenon. What makes others fat will do the same to you in time.

6. Your workouts are pathetic. I see 80% of the gym just going through the motions. I also see 80% of the gym that never get any results. Work hard, it has to burn and pump. Don’t back off when you feel tired, push through. You will only get out what you put in. That’s not just a tired saying, it’s so true. Exceed your bests, push for new heights. The reward is there if you can put in the effort.

7. You are sporadic. You go some days and some days you don’t. Sometimes you follow your diet, but not always. You like certain body parts and you only work hard on those. Do or do not. Half hearted efforts will bring half assed gains.

8. You pick the easy exercises. You like cable curls but have never done a squat in your life. The seated row machine is comfy so you never do dead lifts. Harder is better. There are no short cuts.

9. You lie to yourself. This is the real reason. I hate the words “I must have a thyroid problem” and “I don’t have the genetics, or I could be skinny too”. Knock it off!! If you have a problem then go to the doctor and get it fixed. If you don’t then you’re just making excuses. Claim responsibility for your own lack of effort.

The other is mock ignorance. People know what works. People know when they should or shouldn’t be doing something. If you really don’t, ask me, Ray@buildingbodies.ca, that’s what I do. Don’t however waist my time by not following the advise you asked for. There are enough books and mags out there that no one should be in the dark on the basics of working out. You know where you are slacking and until you fix that area, don’t expect anything to change. If you keep doing what your doing now, you will always look the way you do.

10. You still use the words “if only”. Lots of great things could have been accomplished in people’s lives “if only”.

Find out what’s wrong with your wieght loss program and change it. Change it now. Time waits for no man and there is no time like the present. When you finally really get fed up with your current state and stop fooling yourself, you will get the body you want. If you need some help with this, check out my book Fat To Fit.

Important note: Sometimes people are sick and don’t even know it. I had one client that despite some areas in motivation and diet that did need attention he still didn’t make the forward progress he should have. Upon closer inspection (because this was really bugging me!) his doctor found out he was borderline diabetic. So once we had explained away the poor energy levels and why he especially couldn’t get away with the late night cheat meals. Things are back are now on back with the weight loss. So if you feel something is wrong even though your pre-workout checkup came up clean, keep asking until you find an answer.

Ray Burton
ISSA CPT
Calgary Personal Trainer

This article was first published at the site A to Z Fitness Article Blog.

The Best 20 minute workouts from Military.com.

By Stew Smith

Do you want to jump start your New Year with some great fitness ideas that you can incorporate into your fitness routine? If you are like many Americans, getting the time to exercise is challenging. But, this article is proof that you can fit fitness into your schedule on just about any “busy” day in your life.

The other day, I was emailed the following question: I only have about 20-30 minutes a day to exercise. What can I do in that amount of time? Not wanting to limit the answer to – just a few pushups and situps – I set out to prove how much you could do in such a little amount of time. My goal is to prove that you do not need several hours to maintain a fitness program – just minutes a day. Though the transition time may add to the total time invested in your workout, here is a list of 20-30 minute workouts you can do in your home, office, lunch time, or local gym:

The superset is a great way to workout if you have limited time. Each cycle should take you two minutes. If you can do ten cycles of this you will total 300 pushups and 400 crunches. Not bad for 20 minutes! No resting in between sets! You basically rest by doing crunches. The two supersets you see below are great to alternate every other day.

Pushup/Crunch superset:
Repeat 10 cycles of:
– 10 regular pushups
– 10 crunches
– 10 wide pushups
– 10 crunches
– 10 tricep pushups
– 10/10 Left/Right crunches

Leg / ab superset:
Repeat 5 cycles of:
– 20 squats
– 20 crunches 20
– 10 lunges per leg
– 10 crunches
– 20 calf raises
– 20 crunches

Running or walking!
How much running or walking can you do in 20-30 minutes? Some people can run 3-6 miles or walk 2-3 miles in that time period. Try this one if you want to run.

Running
4 Mile Track Work:
1. Jog 1 mile in 7:00-8:00
2. Three sets of 1/4-mile sprints in 90-100 seconds
3. Jog or walk – 1/4 mile

Six sets of:
Sprint-1/8 mile
Jog – 1/8 mile

Or you can mix the two types of exercise together and do what I call a Spartan Run.

Spartan Run:
1. Run 1 mile
2. 100 pushups in as few sets as possible
3. 100 crunches
4. Run 1 mile
5. 75 pushups in as few sets as possible
6. 75 crunches
7. Run 1 mile
8. 50 pushups in as few sets as possible
9. 50 crunches

Swimming?
How much swimming can you do in 20-30 minutes? Some people can swim a mile in that time. Here is a great workout though if you want to mix a little PT with swimming.

Swim PT
Repeat 5-10 times:
1. Swim 100 yards
2. Do 10-20 pushups
3. Abs – 20-30

This is the ultimate workout I have ever done in under 20 minutes. The challenge is to do:

100 pullups as few sets as possible
200 pushups in as few 2:00 sets as possible
300 situps in as few 2:00 sets as possible

Do these as quickly as possible. You can alternate exercises after each set of maximum repetitions.

As you can see, you can do quite a bit in as little as 20-30 minutes. These workouts are a little advanced and you should consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have not exercised in several years. Of course you can create your own program using these exercise ideas for your own fitness level. If you want to improve your PFT scores the motto is, “You will succeed by failing.” So push yourself every set until you can no longer perform the exercise. If you do this 2-3 times a week, you will have better PT scores within a month.

Workouts are taken from the downloadable eBooks sold at the Military.com eBook Fitness Store. If you have any questions on fitness, please feel free to email Stew Smith at stew@stewsmith.com.

I found a great list of quotes on why runners run here. Check it out for some inspiration.

This one is one of my favorites:
A winner is someone who sets their goals, commits themselves to those goals and then pursues their goals with all the ability that is given to them. That requires someone who believes in themselves, who will make self sacrifices, work hard, and maintain the determination to perform at the best of their ability.
– C. Leeman Bennett

And one more reason to love Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert:

Why aren’t you signed up for the 401K?
I’d never be able to run that far!

Thought Provoking:

My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy
 – John Bryant

Really good article from Runner’s World on the importance of strength training and some tips on how to get started.

Strength Training: Basics

From fitness newbie to professional athlete, a basic strength training routine is important for getting the body you want. It’s as fundamental to a fitness regimen as the little black dress to a wardrobe or beer at a ballgame. Strength training will make you stronger, reduce body fat, reduce the chance of injuries, increase bone density, improve your appearance and give you more self-confidence. However, there are several resilient myths out there that can really slow down your progress. Here’s the lowdown:

To strength train, you have to lift weights

Not so. Any resistance exercise is part of a strength training routine, whether you’re lifting a dumbbell, doing a push-up or pulling on a rubber resistance band attached to a doorknob. Any of these exercise types will result in a “training effect” — that is, some response from your body, typically building more muscle and shedding fat. It’s your body’s way of adapting to the physical stress of resistance.

To lose weight, you need cardio; strength training is just for building muscle

Weightlifting is for building muscle and for losing fat. Think of your muscles as calorie-burning furnaces. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn, even while at rest. It’s true because it takes more energy for your body to maintain a pound of muscle than it does a pound of fat.

When you start a fitness routine, you might be surprised to see that your weight actually changes very little, but that you look and feel a whole lot better — and your clothes are less snug. That’s because muscle is heavier but takes up less space than fat. So don’t stress about the scale.

High repetitions done with low weight will tone me 

“Toning” is vague goal. To be more specific, you can only build or lose muscle or add or lose fat. You probably want some combination of building muscle and losing fat. If you do a lot of reps with low weight, but you could still do more at the end of the set, the weight is too light to cause the training effect you desire. You need to add weight so that you are fatigued at the end of each set. 

Consider the woman who told her trainer “I don’t want to look like that,” pointing to a beefy guy in the gym and putting down the 7.5 pound dumbbells she was holding.  If only it were so easy! The body needs to be challenged in order to change — and if you aren’t tired at the end of a set, you aren’t getting enough challenge.

If you stop working out, your muscles will turn to fat

Sorry, but you need a better excuse for picking up donuts instead of dumbbells. Muscle doesn’t turn to fat, so there’s no fear that adding more muscle will make you fatter later. If you stop working out, you will gain fat and lose muscle, true. But muscle won’t magically turn into fat.

I need to lift heavier weights each workout to get stronger and bigger

Pick up heavier weights every time you go to the gym and what you’ll get is an injury. Your body needs time to recover in order to get stronger. Give your muscles a day off between strength workouts, by doing a different kind of workout or by working a different part of your body. Then, try the same weight the next time, and only increase it if you can do more than 20 repetitions with good form. When you do increase it, add at most 10 percent more weight.

I am still interested in finding good cross-training activities and other ways to increase my physical activity on a day-to-day basis. I like wearing the pedometer, but I don’t really have much reason to move due to the fact that I work at a desk for the most part. I have some ideas on how to rectify that but in the meantime, here’s some good links. If you all have any to share, holler at me in the comments!

Great short article on the 10 Worst Foods to Eat from About.com/Time to Run 

A dozen ways to improve your walking workouts from Active.com

Ideas to increase your day-to-day physical activity and some calorie counts for various exercises

100 Small Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle About.com

Tips to get started Trail Running from About.com

I guess I kind of like About.com, huh?

I took yesterday off completely due to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and I’m trying to not overdue it in my desire to see results fast. It was hard. But I see that I either do everything or nothing, very little in between.

I can feel that I am getting stronger, not sure about stamina, as I seem to still huff and puff when roaming around, but arms and legs and back feel like I’m doing something right (when I don’t overdo it).

I need to really be in the gym every day. I take off after heavy workouts, but today decided that instead of doing crazy heavy weights, that I’d do moderate so I can walk/move tomorrow to hit the gym again. taking two days off is okay every now and then, but for Operation Best Shape of My Life (OBSOML) I need to step it up a notch!

I think I’m becoming obsessed as all I think about is working out, what my body will look like in 12, 36, 52 weeks, etc. I do want to be mentally healthy with this as well.

DIET
I’m eating portions that are too big, but snacking less. I also was mortified to learn that the tsp of butter that I put in my oatmeal has 100 calories! WHAT?! and my beloved sausage patties? 144 calories. each. damn, so now I am down to really looking at labels and wishing that I could eat whatever I wanted but knowing that I cannot.

I also found another HUGE trigger for overeating/eating when I’m not hungry: work stress. If I’m facing a project or task that I am not 100% comfortable with I’ll get up and get something to eat. I also eat in front of my computer. Alot. I need to find another coping strategy, maybe my juggling balls or something like that? I KNEW what was happening and was still powerless to stop it.

WATER
I do well on days when I’m active. On my “off” days, not so much. I’m MUCH better than I’ve ever been, and I put some lemon slices in my water bottle today and that was a nice treat that I think I’ll continue.

EXERCISE
Today my mom gently pushed me out the door. I am still overwhelmed by the goal of losing 128lbs and I get “stuck” but I got up and ate yogurt + cheerios, did some work then drank a slimfast shake on the way to the gym. And HO.LEE.ISH – I was hungry as Hell 3/4 of the way through my workout and when I got home I had two tuna sandwiches w/ chips and have been chugging water all day. what can/should i take into the gym since i seem to get hungry after and hour in there? slimfast shake? protein bar?

Treadmill: 50 mins (3.1-4.2 mph) I ran for up to 6 minutes this time! Very cool. Music makes all the difference on a treadmill.When I was running outside, I liked being alone in my head with my thoughts and working through problems/issues.

Indoor Track: 1 mile walk. I think this is to stave off boredom and shin splints.

Weights: upperbody (bench press, lateral row, horizontal row); legs (leg extension, leg extension #2, seated press and seated press calf raises).

SLEEP
I see that this is key. When my sleep pattern is off, then everything suffers and exercise and eating right fly out the damn window.

LINKY LOVE

Jillian’s Michaels Ab Moves (video, adjust volume)
AOL Body Menus for Weight Loss