Monday, July 06, 2009
One thing many people do to add to their fitness routine is join a gym. A regular fitness routine is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Whether you join the YMCA/YWCA, the gym at a community recreation center, or a commercial fitness center, following some simple rules can help you achieve greater levels of success and progress.
First, donít sign up for a gym membership on a whim. It may be that some barbells and a jog around the block is a better fit for your lifestyle. So, before you join a gym, realistically look at yourself and your life situation and determine whether you will be able to go regularly. Since many of the more competitively-priced gym memberships require a commitment (sometimes for as little as a year or as much as 3 years), you donít want to enter into an obligation that you will canít get out of.
Second, start out slowly. Take your time, gradually adding more activities and adding more weights. Doing too much too soon could cause muscle or joint injuries, which could cause you to become dismayed and stop going.
Third, donít measure your own progress by watching what others are doing. Itís easy to look at someone else and think youíre in as good a shape as they are and find yourself trying to keep up. Doing this may not be good for you. Go at your own pace, and follow a plan that measures your progress against yourself.
Fourth, donít allow the other members to make you feel uncomfortable. Some of them may do a lot of showing off, doing flashy things for an audience. Even those who are doing a genuine level of effort may exceed the level where you are. You canít pay any attention to them. You must have to progress at a pace that works for you and within your own abilities.
Fifth, if youíre not really sure how to use a machine, ask a staff member to show you how. Using a machine incorrectly will either increase the likelihood of an injury or it will cause you to not reap the full benefits of what the machine was designed to do.
Fourth, if your gym offers any orientation classes as part of your membership, take advantage of them. In some cases, the gym could have some features or services you may not be aware of, and an orientation class could teach you a lot.
Fifth, donít limit yourself to just the cardio and strength training machines. Many gym memberships include group exercise classes that can be very helpful. Some of the common classes include spinning, aerobics, jazzercise, Zumba/salsa, yoga, Pilates, prenatal exercise classes, and boot camp classes. These classes are particularly useful to those people who have a difficult time with self-motivation. Doing a set of exercises with a moderator can help to keep you on track and push you a little further toward your true potential.
Lastly, and most importantly, make your gym participation a priority. For many people, time at the gym often gets pushed aside when other things get in the way. Going to the gym is something you have to motivate yourself to do. Setting up a reward system often helps (i.e., putting a set amount of money into a shoe box each time you go, or buying yourself a new shirt or CD after you have gone consistently for a month or six months). However you choose to do it, youíre the only one who can make yourself go, so donít make excuses for not going. Just go!
Good luck to you. See you at the gym.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Over this past weekend, I was talking with a couple of people who have been struggling with losing weight. They wanted to know how I managed to be so successful. Let me tell you what I told them. Approach it differently.
I think that losing weight should not be your primary objective, even if thatís what youíre tying to do. Focusing on the number on the scale can cause you to become frustrated, particularly if pounds donít go down as quickly as you would like for them to. Instead, your primary objective should be developing a healthier lifestyle. Look at the here and now and what immediate changes you can make. Approach it differently. It is better to focus on things like:
1. reducing the number of calories youíre eating;
2. watching out for the saturated and trans-fats in your foods;
3. cutting down or eliminating refined sugars and replacing them with natural sugars or sugar substitutes;
4. reducing the number of soft drinks and increasing the amount of water and tea you drink;
5. adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains - and reducing the amount of red meat; and
6. increasing your activity level.
If you would just change your focus, you will see yourself making progress. By focusing your attention on having more nutritious meals, becoming more active, and maintaining a pattern of healthy living overall, you are preparing your body for burning fat and losing weight. Seeing yourself making more conscious choices with your meals and upping your activity level can have a big, long-term impact on your weight loss goals. Pay more attention to your life choices rather than on how many pounds you need to lose. Approach it differently.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
This is a hot topic, especially for people who exercise. But muscle damage can develop in a variety of ways, not just from exercising. Itís the tearing and breaking of the tendons and fibers of the muscles. Damage occurs when the muscles are extended too far beyond their elasticity or they move or change shape too abruptly.
This type of muscle strain can take place from organized athletic activity or from lifting heavy items or from walking up or down a flight of stairs.
Most muscle damage can be treated at home. Here are a few simple things you can do to ease the pain and help the healing:
-The first thing to do is rest the injured area. Rest will protect the injured area from additional injury.
-Apply an ice pack directly to the strained area. A general rule is use ice for about 20 minutes per hour. Ice can help reduce swelling as well as pain. Be sure not to place it directly on your skin. Use a towel or tee shirt between the ice and your flesh
-Compression is also a useful tool. There are many elastic bandages on the market that are ideal for this purpose. If do not have one available, you can use a ripped tee shirt temporarily. I have done that many times.
-A massage therapist can also be useful. With good massage techniques, the stressed muscle is manipulated and in many cases, pain relief is seen instantly. A few insurance carriers cover treatment from massage therapists, though most do not. Check with your insurer to see what is covered.
-Lastly, there are many over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and other muscle relaxers, that can help relieve your pain or discomfort. Be sure to consult your physician though, particularly if you have been taking medications for other conditions.
If you donít see any improvement within 48 hours, it is important to seek medical attention. Some muscle damage is more serious than others, ranging from a mild tearing of some of the fibers to all fibers becoming completely severed; however, most damage is treatable and patients can completely recover from their injuries.
Visit the following websites for additional information on muscle injuries.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Alcohol can have devastating effects on your waistline if you arenít careful. There are many reasons why alcohol can be harmful to a diet. Here are a few of them.
First, the most obvious effect alcohol has is the number of calories a drink can have. A 12 ounce serving of lite beer, a typical glass of wine, or a shot of liquor will cost you about 110 calories. If you only have one or two drinks, then youíre not doing too badly. But, what about other drinks? Many mixed drinks, particularly sugary or cream-based drinks, could end up being about 300 Ė 400 calories or more, and if you go to a bar or a club to get your buzz and tell the bartender to add extra alcohol (as many people like to do sometimes), that number could go up even more per drink. If you drink regularly Ė like several times per week Ė it could really do some damage. 1
Second, alcohol has been known to increase appetite. Itís no accident that many restaurants try to push you to have a drink while youíre perusing the menu and thatís why some bartenders offer you a menu after youíve had a couple of drinks. People are more likely to eat more when they have been drinking. 2
Third, alcohol can also affect your inhibitions. Itís hard enough to stick with your diet when youíre sober. A lot of people will say, ďIíll watch what I eat tomorrowĒ so they can have what they want today. Even just a slight feeling of inebriation can affect your judgment. I did that many times. I found myself snacking more often as well as snacking on more of the wrong things when I consumed alcohol. 3
So, if youíre trying to lose weight, be aware of your alcohol intake if you drink. I donít want to say you should avoid it, because these pitfalls are not absolute. Some peole can have a drink without any problems. Like anything else, having a little bit wonít hurt you. Just remember the term ďmoderationĒ and you wonít go wrong.
For more information on the effects alcohol can have on your diet, take a look at the following websites:
Monday, June 15, 2009
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Thatís especially true with unwanted pounds. But the traditional bacon, sausage, and eggs breakfast isnít the quickest route to weight loss. Here are some of my ideas for healthy, calorie-friendly breakfasts that also are quite appetizing.
I take about a half cup of berries (i.e., mixture of raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries), add some calorie-free sweetener, and toss them in a skillet on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Add to some soft taco shells and for a nice touch, top with some chopped nuts.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix some chopped potatoes, chopped onions, chopped green peppers, shredded carrots, and sliced mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir fry in a skillet on medium heat with a half tea spoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of water until potatoes are done. Add to your tortilla and wrap up tightly. Place in oven for about 10-15 minutes then serve.
In a blender, add your favorite fruits. This morning, I used kiwi, pineapple, peaches, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Add 4-5 packs of Equal or Splenda and about half dozen ice cubes, and let blend until ice is ground up and serve.
This is one you can make ahead of time and it will last for a while. In a bowl, dump 2-3 15 oz cans of pumpkin. Add a tablespoon each of vanilla, allspice, and cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. Add 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of Spenda or Equal. Mix well together. You can heat it in the microwave or serve it cold. I like it both ways. As an added touch, cut up a banana on top when you serve it.
These are some of my favorite breakfast foods. With a little creativity and imagination, you can come up with some of your own. Eating a healthy breakfast doesnít need to be bland or boring.
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