Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I posted several blogs back about equipment needed to get started with exercise at home. Before you read this, check that one out, because it lays the foundation for what I am about to say here and I refer back to it.
I've had several people lately ask me how to get started lifting weights, so I copied this from my regular blog ( itallmakesadifference.blogspot.com/ ) and pasted here. Be forewarned: It's lengthy. So either give up now or grab a cup of joe. :-)
I want to make it clear that this is my recommendation, but not a be-all end all to how one should start an exercise program. It's what worked for me, and has helped people I've advised. I know it works, but it's not the only way to go about it.
First, get out that book I said was the #1 piece of exercise equipment in afore-mentioned blog post and choose one exercise for each major muscle group. For starting purposes, lets not get picky about which exercises to perform- any for that body part will do.
You are going to work your body parts in this order:
Upper back (the lats)
Read thoroughly in the book how each exercise is to be executed, and keep the book next to you as you exercise. Refer to it frequently as you exercise, reviewing each exercise again before you do it (and as you do it if necessary). I cannot stress this strongly enough: Proper form is most important! Do the exercise exactly as demonstrated and pictured!
This first time through, do each exercise with no weights.
Yes, you heard me right- I want you to do the exercises this time through unweighted. This will help to ensure that you execute proper form and don't hurt yourself the first time out. If it makes you feel any better, the first time I try an exercise alone I always do it with no weight. (On machines I use the lowest weight) I want to know how "proper form" feels before I add weight to it. This way I can tell the difference between "This is different because I have more weight added" and "This is different because something just ain't movin' right" without causing myself injury.
Do each exercise for one set of 15. (Refer to my blog about sets and reps, if you aren't sure what I am talking about.)
Really work on SQUEEZING the muscles you are supposed to be working both in the concentric (contracting) and eccentric (elongating) part of the move. (In other words, throughout the entire motion). Don't ever just drop the weight back to the starting position. Stay in control of the weight ALL THE TIME!
Keep a steady pace of about 2-3 seconds to get whatever body part you are moving up and 2-3 seconds to get it back to where you started. You can slow this down as you progress, but for now 2-3 seconds each direction is adequate.
When you are done, stretch all the body parts you worked (this could be covered in the book you bought), holding each stretch for about 10 seconds.
Do this 2-3 times a week, giving at least 48 hours between workouts to let your muscles repair and adapt.
When you have completed all body parts, put that cardio exercise DVD in and give it a whirl. It's a good idea to do at least 30 minutes of cardio, but more sure never hurts. Cardio you can do more often. If you are brand-new to exercise, I'd recommend starting out with 3-4 sessions a week at least 20 minutes long. As soon as you feel ready, either increase the length of cardio time, or the intensity.
And there you have it! That's how you get started.
The next time, if you feel ready, add light weights- start with the lightest ones you have if you still feel a bit shaky, but keep in mind that you want to progress fairly quickly to weights that feel challenging by the time you get to the end of the 15 rep set.
You can also move cardio to another time of day- it's perfectly acceptable to split your workout into smaller sessions.
When you feel you need more, do two sets of 15 reps of each exercise.
When you feel like you need more yet, switch to different exercises for the same body parts, always starting out at least a few reps with no weight, to get the feel for it.
When you feel like you need more than that, are starting to run out of time because the workouts are getting too long, or just want something different, Email me and we'll come up with a split (working different muscles on different days) that works for you.
Don't EVER let grass grow under your feet when it comes to progressing- always challenge yourself! Not to the point of hurting yourself, but keep on raising the bar. That's how you get results.
No more excuses! Start moving!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Months ago it was suggested to me that I do a blog about little changes one can make to improve one's health. While I do believe everyone can change some smaller and easier things to make themselves healthier (choose zero-calorie beverages, have the leave mayo off of your hamburger, get 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days, etc.) the reason I haven't blogged about this so far is because I know this in my heart: Small changes yield small results.
I think most of us want to see big results.
Here is the hard reality: The bigger the changes you make, the bigger the differences you will see in your body and health.
This is not what most people want to hear. They want to hear that if they take some magical pill, do some sort of cleansing diet, or perform one specific exercise the pounds will melt away and they will have the body of their dreams.
I'm sorry, my friends, but it just doesn't work that way.
Yet another difficult truth: The changes to your body won't be permanent unless the changes to your lifestyle are permanent.
The fact is that I did many fairly "right things" for many years: I enjoyed lifting weights, but did not do any of the exercises (particularly squats and lunges) that weren't my favorites. I did cardio for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. I always drank diet soda and zero-calorie beverages. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but truth to tell, I was simply dabbling in good habits.
When I took the blinders off and faced the fact that my own resistance to do the hard stuff was what was standing between me and being the super-fit person I knew I had the potential to be....... THAT's when I started to see the big results:
-I got serious about my Weight Watchers program and stopped piddling around with it, giving myself Tuesdays (my weigh day) as the day to "Have a break" and eat what I wanted, or going "just a little" over in my points from day to day.
-I cut out most refined foods, to include low-cal treats laden with artificial sweeteners and foods that had names of ingredients I could not pronounce.
-I stopped eating so many processed foods and replaced them with real, whole foods from ingredients as close to fresh as I could find them.
-I all but cut out artificially sweetened beverages (although I will occasionally still drink a diet coke or sweeten my tea with Splenda), and made it a habit to guzzle water, keeping a water bottle with me at all times. (I now drink, on average, a gallon of water a day.)
-I've hired personal trainers who have incorporated very difficult power lifting moves, squats, and lunges into my workout routine. I don't always like it, but I don't whine and I gave it 100%, every time.
The point? I've made really big changes and embraced them as a lifestyle, instead of something I'm doing temporarily. As result I have a much smaller, more symmetrical, and tighter body with muscles that sometimes illicit compliments from total strangers.
I'm not done... but I'm sure coming along!
So was it worth it, you ask? Yes! A million times over! It will be for you, too. That's a promise I don't mind standing by.
All of this came about one change at a time, but I WAS deliberate about it.
No one I know has ever strolled towards a goal or one day looked in the mirror and said "I look fantastic! How did this happen? Must be all of those small changes!"
The fact is that seeing a big change requires a big change. And to keep the benefits, one must continue on with the big change. It's a truth that hurts, but it IS the truth.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Oh, don't worry.... I know I'm not REALLY Wonder Woman! I just had someone tell me my figure resembled her and I loved the compliment so much that I ran with it......
But the fact is that I DID hit a vunerable moment and completely fell off of the clean eating/cutting diet bandwagon last night.
I won't bore you with all the stressful stuff that's been going on. Let's just suffice it to say that all the garbage in life lately (and I know many of you reading this have garbage piles way bigger than mine- I respect you all the more for still fighting the fitness battle through it all), combined with normal hormonal stuff in the female cycle (yes, it's THAT time of the month!) got the best of me and I found my hand in a box of Wheat Thins and my head in a jar of peanut butter.
I got the biggest case of the guilt's I've ever had from eating wrong. I felt like I'd let so many people down: My coach, who has been really proud of my stick-to-it-iveness, the people I know are watching me on Spark, Facebook, and through my blogs, and most of all myself. I have a specific goal to be as low fat as possible for surgery in early May. I felt I'd set myself back.
I was in the shower crying like a baby. Finally the REASON why I'd overeaten hit me, and it was like a dam broke. I've been really strong for a really long time. Last night I turned into a big weakling.
And then a sick thought crossed my mind: I considered, for a brief second, making myself vomit. And at that point I knew I'd crossed a line mentally that was headed in a dark and unsafe direction and I needed to do something to abruptly halt it.
So I called my coach.
I really thought I'd blown it beyond belief. I thought perfection was expected because I am on a cutting diet. I thought he'd be so very disappointed in me. But I had to get what was in my head out to someone, and somehow I knew he was the guy.
And you know what he did? The man I most trust and respect in regards to diet in the universe basically told me it would be all right. That people slip. That I'm human. That I am NOT Wonder Woman, and I was going to be Okay.
Then today he told me he's proud of me.
If he weren't in California and I weren't in Texas, he'd of gotten a big hug.
I'd fallen off the horse and landed face-down in the mud. But the good news is that somehow I'd managed to lift my head out of the mud and take a big breath of fresh air.
Look, he's right.... We all goof. Even those of us who are nutty enough to aspire to stand in front of total strangers in ridiculously bejeweled velveteen swimsuits and be judged on their unnaturally-orangey-fake-tanned -and-Pam-coated physiques.
So I decided to do all the damage control I could: I got a good nights sleep. When I woke up I did my regularly-scheduled cardio on as empty a stomach as I could, given that it still had quite a lot of goo in it from the night before. I planned my days clean eating.
But most importantly, I've thought through what happened and have tried to figure out what I can learn from it. And what I learned from it is that I need to have a little bit more of an afternoon snack when I'm PMS-ing. While it's a few extra calories in my day, it's nothing like the disaster that can happen in the evening if I let myself get too hungry while I am stressed. I also learned that I need to call of Email another partner in weight loss sooner rather than later.
We all need support. Even Wonder Woman had the Super Friends.
It's one thing to fall in the mud........ It's quite another to just lie there helplessly.
And yeesh................. I really hate being dirty.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I believe this is the root cause of why we Americans are getting fatter: We eat too much. Period.
We have become a nation accustomed to eating super-sized portions. And most of us don't even know we are doing it. What used to be a normal size 20 years ago and prior is now considered child size.
I remember when a normal cookie was 2 bites, and anything bigger was considered a colossal size. Then Mrs. Fields started serving the big cookies in the malls, and we started making them at home, and pretty soon they were expected. Now, what used to be a normal-sized cookie is considered a mini, and what we consider a normal-sized cookie is really enough for a small family to share!
Look at an ice-cream cone. I love the big, 1/4 pound dips at Braums as much as the next guy. (If you don't know what Braums is, I feel sorry for you!) But when I order a kiddie scoop it more resembles the ice-cream cone size we saw gals with what we now consider impossibly small waists in circle skirts eating in the 1950's.
In the 80's, when I was a teen, a normal hamburger or order of French-fries at a fast-food joint was the size now found in a child's meal. Children's meals were just coming out, and their size wasn't that much smaller than the adults size- they just had a toy and a small drink added. Adult meals weren't sold as meals: You had to order the "parts" separately. If I recall correctly, adult meals started up after children's meals caught on. We didn't have the option of salads back then, but we were thinner and healthier people. Go figure.
It was the portion sizes.
Smaller portions = Smaller people. It's not rocket science.
The bottom line is that to weigh less, we've gotta eat less.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
-Order the child's meal or the kiddie scoop. (Trust me, even though it's clear you are over 12, they won't stop you. They can't MAKE you order more food! And if you are with a kid, you can fake like it's for them).
With a kiddie scoop you still get the ice cream, you just don't get the big gut to go with it.
-If a kids meal just ain't gonna cut it and you REALLY want that bacon cheese-burger, okay!! Go ahead and order it, but with modifications: Get a single patty and ask them to leave the mayo off. If there is "special sauce", have that left off, too. Skip the fries! The burger is enough of an indulgence without adding those cholesterol-laden potato sticks into the mix. And try to order it with water or tea, but if you HAVE to have something sweet, add a little splenda to your tea or a diet Coke instead of sugary soda that has absolutely no nutritional value. If you want a side, get the salad with fat-free Italian dressing or light vinaigrette. And for Pete's sake, take those croutons off!
Yeah, I know it doesn't sound like fun, but as the old saying goes: If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. And what do you want more? Momentarily happy taste buds, or a permanant satisfaction with the way you look in the mirror?
Monday, March 08, 2010
So last night I was talking to my sister on the phone about the snags she has hit lately in her weight loss battle. And in the middle of the conversation she says something that leaves me speechless. Well.... almost.
She says "I have only lost 23 pounds."
I replied back, "Betsie, 23 pounds is a lot of weight!"
"I have a lot more weight to lose than you did, so it's not as much on me as it is on you."
I asked her what in the heck was she talking about? A pound of fat is a pound of fat, and it doesn't matter who the weight is off of, be it me, her, or an elephant.
Know what she said back to me? (This is so typical Betsie!):
"An elephant loses 23 pounds when it poops."
So, to try and give her a visual of how much she's lost, I asked her to picture 23 pounds of elephant poop. But then it occurred to me that neither one of us really knew what 23 pounds of elephant poop looks like.
So I went to my cabinet and looked at my container of shortening.
Would you like to know how much a container of shortening (I mean the regular-sized ones, not the little apartment-sized containers) weighs? 3 pounds! When I told her she'd lost almost 8 regular-sized containers of shortening she said in amazement "That's a lot of weight!"
Uh, yeah... that's what I'd been saying..... But it even surprised me the volume that 3 pounds of fat takes up.
So next time you get ready to say "I've only lost x-amount of pounds", divide it by three. That's how many containers of shortening you've lost.
And then pat yourself on the back. Because you have something to be proud of! And the more proud of yourself you are, the better you will feel about yourself. And the better you feel about yourself the more you will want to help yourself.
After all, who wants to help someone they don't like?
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