Sunday, March 21, 2010
How to move to move past a plateau, prevent one in the first place, or get max benefit for your efforts? Mix it up!
- Change your caloric intake from day to day. If you regularly eat 1600 calories, vary this amount of the course of the week, keeping 1600 as an average. For instance, on Sunday you could do 1700, Monday 1400, Tuesday 1600, Wednesday 1500, Thursday 1800, Friday 1400 and Saturday 1800 again. When I do this I lose faster.
- Change up your cardio frequently. I rotate between step aerobics, floor aerobics and kick boxing tapes at home, and the stationery bike, recumbent bike, elliptical, and treadmill at the gym. Or, as my former trainer advised, you could do 10 minutes on several different pieces of equipment one right after the other.
- Change the kinds of weight lifting exercises you do from workout to workout. This helps to create more symmetrical muscle groups with no weak areas. Even within the separate sections of a muscle group it is possible to develop one segment of that section stronger than another. The possibility of injuring yourself from muscle weakness is reduced when you lift weights, but diminished even further when you change the types of exercises you do for each body part, ensuring ALL areas of the muscle are equal and balanced.
Bodies adapt very quickly to whatever you demand of them. By changing it up, you keep the body adapting and therefore the positive changes happening.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Unless a doctor has told you differently, any reason you have for not eating right or exercising is not a reason, it's an excuse.
Sounds extreme, doesn't it? Ah, but it's not.
Here are a few I've heard:
-"I don't like the way healthy food tastes." You've become accustomed to eating unhealthy foods. Likewise, you can become accustomed to eating healthy foods. The trick is to start. It'll take time, but you'll get there. And you'll believe it was worth it once you do.
-"I don't have time to count calories." First of all, counting calories only takes time in the beginning. After a few days, armed with a good calorie-guide and nutritional information on the side of packaging, you'll be able to find the calorie count in any particular food fairly quickly. It's good for you to know what exactly is in the things you are putting in your mouth. Secondly, you don't have to count calories. Join a sound diet plan (Weight Watchers is my favorite) that has taken most of the work out of calorie counting by supplying you with comprehensive lists of easy-to-look-up foods. Then follow it.
-"I don't have access to good foods." This is usually baloney, but if all you have access to is butter-dripping vegetables, fried chicken, and triple-layer cake, sop as much butter off of the veggies as you can with a napkin, take the breading/batter/skin off the chicken and the frosting off the cake. Then eat a lot less of them. Many times we have to adapt. For help, refer back to my first blog.
-"It's more expensive to eat healthy." This is usually a wrong assumption. I've found the exact opposite to be true. The less processing a food has had, the less money it usually costs ounce for ounce. Think canned pears in heavy syrup versus fresh. Furthermore, even if eating healthier is a bit more expensive, what you will save in future medical bills will more than off-set the cost. It's a matter of nourishing, as opposed to just feeding, your body.
Now some I've heard for not exercising:
-"I injured my (insert body part here). I don't want to hurt it again." So did I. Years after rehabbing a torn rotator cuff I still have to be careful about how much weight/how I lift with it. But the fact is that I can lift weights. Look at my shoulders now! They're one of my best body parts. It's not enough of an excuse to stop exercise entirely. If you have recently injured yourself, ask your doctor what you can do for exercise. Ditto for surgery.
-"It makes me feel uncomfortable". Look, it's called a work out for a reason- It's WORK! We all feel some degree of discomfort at some point when we exercise. But trust me, muscles adapt very quickly. Pretty soon you'll be feeling better more often and uncomfortable less often. And you could wind up surprising yourself by looking forward to workouts and wanting to make your body a little uncomfortable with challenging it. You can't know until you try.
-"I don't like to sweat." Yes, someone actually said this to me once. I had to stifle a laugh. If this is your feeling, I have a question for you:. Do you want to be sweaty a little bit of the time, or look flabby all the time? Your call.
And my all time favorite:
-"I don't have time." This one makes me want to pull my hair out! Hey, listen, if you don't have time to exercise now, think of how much less time you'll have in the future when you're sitting in a hospital bed, recovering from open heart surgery. How will THAT fit into your busy schedule? Or the schedules of your equally busy loved ones? I can almost guarantee you will be thinking (besides "Dear God, please don't let me die!"), "I wish I'd have made time to exercise and eat right. This is not worth it."
Do you want to wait and see if I'm right, or do you want to start taking care of yourself?
None of us have time to not take care of ourselves.
Even just a 20-minute walk to clear your head at the end of a busy day is better than nothing and will have a positive accumulative affect on your health.
Maybe you can come up with more. If so, throw them at me! Let's see if you can render me answer-less.
Again, unless a doctor has told you that eating right and/or any form of exercise are hazardous to your health, any reason you have isn't a reason, it's an excuse.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I copied and pasted this from my regular blog because I've heard a lot of women here on Spark mention this issue:
Let me try to clear up a little muscle confusion, if I may: Women's fear that they will build a lot of muscle.
I have heard on several occasions women express that if they lift weights, or increase weight load, that they will get big, bulging, manly muscles. This is a fear that I understand, but it's completely unfounded.
You can NOT, I mean, no way, no how, it's not happening, can NOT get "big bulky muscles" like a man. Yes, I know you've seen those magazines with women who have freakishly large muscles and they look..... well.... masculine. Let me assure you of something: They are taking steroids. That's the only way it happens for women. Why? We simply don't make enough testosterone naturally to get huge muscles. Well defined muscles? Yes? Great, big ones? Can't happen. It's just physiologically impossible.
Want proof? Look at me. I've been lifting weights on and off for the past 24 years, and very consistently for the past 2 1/2, increasing my weight load and maxing out as much as possible. I lift a lot of weight for a woman. Take a look at my pics and let me ask you a question: Do I look anything remotely close to masculine, big, or bulky? I think I can safely say you would be hard-pressed to find a more feminine figure than mine.
Now, there are a few women out there who are the very rare exception, and I do mean EXTREMELY rare, who will build muscle larger than most women, but they are so few and far between that it's barely even worth a mention. These are women they usually have to drug-test in athletic sports to make sure they truly are women. Trust me..... you aren't one of them.
Muscle tone adds sleek, sexy tightness and definition to a woman and enhances her feminine shape.
So if you are just starting out or getting back into lifting after a long sabatical, get a good book or hire a trainer to make sure you have proper form, and start lifting! Heavy, hard, and often.... Lift, woman!
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.
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