Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Survival Guide - Week 8 - Gifts

If there is one thing that we can count on during this time of the year, it is the tradition of giving and receiving gifts. This entire process can sometimes become a chore, especially when the gifts revolve around food. I thought this week we would discover some things that we can give that are food related and how we can handle the food gifts that we get.

Here are some great examples of gifts that you can give that aren't food related, don't cost much money and might help to encourage your loved ones or friends to jump on the health and fitness band wagon with you. There's nothing better than a support group.

•Put together a little cookbook of some recipes that you enjoy and love. Even make some samples if you can.
•Have a get together with your friends.
•Ladies think of pretty nail polishes or some home made body scrubs. Get a great little jar and there ya go
•Men, how about some gloves or offer to help your friend with some yard work or something. Can you say "Extra activity points"
• Candles
• Books
• Magazines that you have read and have enjoyed the articles. I have many, many old running magazines and such. I can't bring myself to throw them out but I'm sure my friends would love them, especially my running buddies.
• Journals
• Reusable water bottles, you'll be helping the environment too.

Now what to do with the plates of goodies that people bring in to you. Choose wisely what you will keep and enjoy. Choose one or two of your most favorite goodies and get rid of the remainder.

• Wrap them up and take them to a local shelter
• How about the fire department or local police station
• Take them to work and share them with your co workers
• Take them to a church function and share them with your church family
• Share them with a shut-in or elderly neighbor or to a nursing home.
• Send them to work with your spouse or significant other
• Last but surely not least, THROW THEM AWAY!

Some of you may be aghast at the thought of throwing them away. However, if you really truly don't want to have them be sitting on your hips for the remainder of December and all of January, take a deep breath, close your eyes and let them go into the bin.

Here is to wishing you a happy an healthy holiday gifting giving and gift receiving season!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Survival Guide - Week 7 - 2009 Goal Setting

Now that we've bragged about where we've came from in 2008 its time for us to get started on setting goals for 2009. There is nothing better than feeling as if you are in control of this process and crossing some things off our list of "to-do's"

Many people have a hard time setting goals. I know I'm still not the best but I'm getting better and just starting with a few things and accomplishing them can really help us be motivated to set bigger and longer term goals.

The other thing I want you thinking about are goals that are not necessarily related to your ideal scale number. Let's start looking at life in terms that are much bigger than the scale. After all, does that 12x12 pad control your life, are you living for the three digit number that appears there? I hope not! Let's start living LIFE!

Here are a few S.M.A.R.T. tips to help you set some goals:

• Specific. Some of the questions you might want to answer are who, what, when, where and why of the goal. For example, "I want to compete in the OSU Triathlon, May 3, 2009."

• Measureable. Can you measure the specific pieces of the goal or points along the way so that you know how close you are to achieving it or when you actually do?

• Attainable. Can you achieve the goal? Anything is attainable if you are willing and able to do what is necessary to achieve that goal.

• Realistic. Is the goal realistic? The objective of the goal is to be able to achieve it and if we truly believe that we can achieve it then I believe we can but we also need to look at the entire spectrum of what needs to happen to get to that end result.

• Timeline. We need to set a time to when we will finish this goal. That gives us an opportunity to put a plan into place and know that everything we do helps us to reach one step closer to our goal.

It is easy for us folks that have struggled with weight loss and fitness to have our entire being and self revolve around a scale. I so often ask people how they are and the response I get is inevitably that they will know once they step on the scale. Isn't that sad?

Folks, there is more to us than a number on the scale. We are living, breathing, loving, learning, individuals that should be putting forth more into our lives and obtaining dreams than worry about a 10 second stance on the scale.

I'm challenging you this week to start righting down some goals for 2009. It could be anything from learning to paint, maybe you have always wanted to, to learning to drive a tractor.

The key here is to start putting down on paper the hopes and dreams that we all had as small children and believed that we could do and start working towards realizing those dreams.

I would love to get comments on goals that you are setting out for yourself for the 2009 year. I'll be posting mine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Learning to Love your Body

I had a person email me today in reference to my recent article regarding alcohol. Although it seemed to be of value to her, she gave me a comment about "hips that won't go away"

I her asked to give me a bit more insight on how she was feeling because she was obviously not having a good day.

Obesity is at an all time high in this country and with that comes the notion that women should all fit in this so called perfect body. You know, the Twiggy type, probably not more than 13 years old and a minuscule percentage that will ever walk that runway.

As a result of this conflicting notion of being overweight and trying to fit the perfect image comes a self-loathing that is equally destructive. You can use this anger or frustration to fuel your desire to be more healthy and fit but at the same time you have to love your body where it is now because even after you lose the weight it will still be YOUR body.

Here is a great list of twenty ways to start loving it today!

Compiled by Margo Maine, Ph.D.

Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.

  1. Your body is extraordinary--begin to respect and appreciate it.

  2. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.

  3. Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.

  4. Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.

  5. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.

  6. Don't let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.

  7. Wear comfortable clothes that you like and that feel good to your body.

  8. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.

  9. Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!

  10. Be your body's friend and supporter, not its enemy.

  11. Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months.

  12. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.

  13. Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.

  14. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don't exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good.

  15. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Tell yourself you can feel like that again, even in this body at this age.

  16. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself--without mentioning your appearance. Add to it!

  17. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, "I'm beautiful inside and out.

  18. Choose to find the beauty in the world and in yourself.

  19. Start saying to yourself, "Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.

  20. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

Now, I would love to hear comments about why and what you love and respect about your body.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Survival Guide - Week 6 - 2008 In Review

We talk a lot about goals at Weight Watchers and Phit4Life and the importance of having goals. They give us something to strive for and to ascertain where we are in our journey. We get a sense of accomplishment in achieving them and they help us to stay motivated. However, the down side to being goal driven is the tendency to forget about rewarding ourselves and taking a good look at where we are now in comparison to where we came from.

This is a hard one for me and I'll be honest with you. It's tough when you are in maintenance. You don't get a reward, sticker, star or keychain for just staying the same. Should I be proud of the fact that I've maintained this weight loss for almost 18 months, you bet I should, but do I? Nope! Shame on me and shame on you too! I have accomplished some great things in the last year and none of them were reflected on the 12x12 pad that we all love to pay such homage to.

Here are some of the things I have done in 2008:

1. Ran my second half marathon in Indianapolis, the largest half marathon in the U.S.
2. Enrolled and completed my Personal Training Certification, including becoming CPR and AED certified.
3. Ran a 5k in July
4. Helped to support and rally three wonderful Weight Watchers members to train and run their first 5K and inspiring them to even run a 10K.
5. Started Phit4Life which includes a full body workout class and online personal training services.
6. Ran my third half marathon at the Fort Wayne Inaugural run in September.
7. Successful lead three Weight Watchers meetings inspiring other people to live fit and healthy lifestyles as well.

And folks these are just the big ones that got me some bling to wear around my neck a neat tee shirt or a cool certificate. It doesn't even touch on the countless things that I've learned about proper nutrition, intense exercise and goal setting strategies or all the things that I do as a wife, mother, colleague and friend. I have accomplished a lot in 2008 and I have a lot to be proud of.

I'm challenging you today to get out a piece of paper or better yet, comment back here to tell me about all the things that you have done in 2008. Be proud of where you are today and where you have come from it will help you set your 2009 goals, which is what we will talk about next week. Now get busy braggin!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Types of Cardio Training

There are a number of types of cardiovascular training that can help you meet your fitness and training goals Today I'm going to talk about three of the most common types in use. I'll address each of them separately and examine how they can be incorporated into your fitness regimen for maximum fat loss and fitness.

Steady State

Steady State cardio is done for 60 to 75 minutes. It tends so be somewhat monotonous and may even be considered by some as boring. During this type of exercise we want to keep our heart rate at 55-65% for maximum fat loss effect. How does this actually work you might wonder. Performing steady state cardio has little to no effect on cardio vascular fitness levels, but it does wonders when it comes to burning through fat.

Let's look at it in this way. Put a pan on the stove and put some butter in it. The pan represents your body and the butter is the fat you want to destroy. If you turn the heat to a low setting the butter or fat will slowly melt away and the integrity of the pan in unaffected. It may take longer to melt the butter but it gets the job done without sacrificing anything else. More on this pan analogy in the following sections.

Interval Training

Interval training occurs when you work hard for period of time, usually about one minute, followed by a recovery period of the same duration. This can be continued for 30 or even 60 minutes. The objective is teaching your body to go harder for a shorter period of time without crashing. It also amps up our metabolism, resulting in a great afterburn.

It has been found that by doing this type of cardio, the body increases its cardiovascular ability or the ability for the heart to pump blood and oxygen to other parts of the body. It has also been shown to increase the body's anaerobic capacity. This means that your body will become more efficient at using other means than oxygen to supply energy to itself.

Turning again to the butter and pan analogy, it would be similar to turning the burner on and off. As you do this the pan (your body) starts warm but stays warm and gets even hotter. It continues to melt the butter even when the pan is turned off and it is using indirect heat (anaerobic) to melt the butter when the direct heat (aerobic) is turned off.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High Intensity Interval Training is the cousin to Interval training. HIIT occurs when you go all out; balls to the walls, so to speak, for 20 seconds, maybe thirty and then in a recovery mode for the balance of the minute. You will repeat this cycle for about 20 minutes; maybe 25 if you are lucky. When you are done with a HIIT session you should have nothing left to give. When you do HIIT it puts your body in an anabolic state. Because of this we can only continue it short amount of time and could suffer muscle loss if we do not fuel ourselves properly.

Consider the pan analogy once again. In a HIIT session we torch the butter (fat) within minutes but if the pan has nothing to burn after the butter has flamed up, it will actually turn upon itself and ultimately warp or ruin the pan.

Each of these modes of cardio can and should be incorporated into your exercise regimen. Keeping your body guessing at what will come next and how it should respond, is key to successful weight loss.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Survival Guide - Week 5 - Alcohol

We know that with the holidays come the endless parties and many involve alcohol. Not all alcohol is created equal either, so with a little bit of education we can make wiser choices and still come out on top.

I'm going to be blunt here, but by now most of you are used to it. Booze is a total waste of calories/Points but a lot of us like to enjoy some every now and then. My best advice is that if you are in fat loss mode, you don't have the wiggle room to do it often. Maybe once every six weeks. If you are maintaining or even trying to build you can do it more often but it really is a waste of nutrients.

If you are going to drink try combining it would some protein. In doing so it will have a minimal affect overall on your weeks efforts. Just remember that if you drink you will probably not see a loss on the scale. Alcohol packs on fat and water retention and when I drink it can take 2-4 days before I see the scale back off from the drinking.

What's best to drink? Wine first only because it has some benefits for the heart. Next I would just stick with light beer, mixed drinks that are mixed with diet soda. Stay away from fruity drinks, cream based drinks, and such, these are loaded with extra sugar. A vodka and diet coke will set back about 80-100 calories versus a white Russian which is a nice 250 calorie a drink. :)

Additionally, if you are going to party it up on the weekend you need to pay the piper prior to going. An additional 10 minutes of hard cardio intervals daily to make up for your indulgence is required. If you want to drink you need to be ready to have a calorie deficit going into it.

If you do choose to drink go into it knowing that the scale will probably not show you any love on the next weigh-in. Alternate each alcoholic beverage with water or a diet drink. Set a limit to the number of drinks you will have and stick to it. Better yet, offer to be the designated driver for the night!