Shari Duncan

Motivation

Is Your Time in the Gym Time Well Spent?
Admin

by on Aug.10, 2013, under Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

How balanced is your training program?

Are you training chest and back as  frequently as legs?…  How much recovery time do you allow between workouts?…  Are your fitness goals written out and  are you progressing towards those goals?…  How do you know if you are getting in enough cardio hours… do you designate time each week for stretching, ab and core work?…
What about time management? Do you pace yourself,  and give enough time to recover in between sets, or perhaps spend too much time socializing with other gym goers?
This is why keeping a training journal can be most helpful.  Workout logs are beneficial for beginners as well as seasoned lifters.  I’d say they are essential if you are serious about achieving your fitness goals.

Why keep a journal?

  • Motivation. Looking back at where you come from is inspiring.
  • Awareness. You get an understanding of what works for you.

    Training logs provide accountability, progress, and motivation for your training sessions.

  • Experience. You learn from your errors: injuries, etc.
  • Confidence. You’ve got a plan when you go to the gym.

The process of writing down your loads, sets, reps, etc.  helps you to better remember the workout.  It’s nice to be able to flip back and see what weight you used and how many sets and reps you did.   The process of keeping a log enables seasoned lifters to critically analyze their programs and see if they’re truly delivering results.

Also, use your log to jot down important notes such as machine settings, how the set felt; (light, heavy), how you felt that day (energized, fatigued, hungry, sore).

Keeping a journal accelerates the learning process.

By writing down your workouts you are taking an additional few minutes to process what you have learned, repeat the concepts and terminology to yourself, and ingrain it into your brain.

If you are a beginner it is likely you will be able to beat previous efforst every week for several months. As you establish new routines, it is helpful to know what you did your previous workout and to have a specific goal for each training session. Logging workouts helps you remember the appropriate weights to use. Beginners struggle most with remembering not only which exercises to do, but in which order, how many sets, reps, etc.  because everything is new to them.  They’re not yet familiar with the names of exercises, the loads they used, etc. so training logs for beginners are essential.  I have been  journaling  for several years now and still write notes in the margins to remind me of proper set-up and/or form on certain exercises.

Tracking results and being able to check your progress lets you know if what you’re doing is or isn’t working.   If you make notes about your workout, you are also less likely to spend time chatting between sets or resting too long.   Seeing your gains on paper will reaffirm that you are progressing, and as a result motivation will likely increase or stay high.

The basic benefits of journaling

  • Faster learning
  • Remembering weights
  • Having information to analyze
  • Tracking progress
Leave a Comment :, , , , more...

Mental Strength… Do you Exercise your Mind?
Shari

by on Mar.10, 2013, under General HEALTH, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

Do you Train your Brain to be as Tough as your Body?

Some may argue that toughness is found in soul, spirit and mind…  and not in muscles.

Never underestimate the power of your mind…whether it is in sports, in business or in life.   Becoming mentally stronger may be the one factor that determines whether you realize your goals; or not.  It may be the one single factor separating you from being a champion or a runner up.

When life gets hard, we tend to want comfort, not change.  Those who have learned the secret to mental toughness have learned that comfort now may mean pain later, but a little pain now can yield great rewards in the future.

MIND POWER--Train your mind as well as your body

When it comes to training; having mental strength is one of the most important pieces of sports equipment you will ever own.  Your physical workouts will strengthen you body,  but mental strength training provides the necessary conditioning to fortify your mind.  It provides you a psychological edge that enables you to be consistent; to maintain focus and determination to not only finish but perform at your maximum potential,  despite any difficulty or consequences.   More simply put: To Never Quit.   Being mentally strong directly affects your confidence.  As mental strength rises, so will your confidence.    If you want to become mentally stronger, you have to become tough about what you think.  What you think determines how you act.  Replace weak thoughts like “I can’t or I’m too tired” with positive ones;  I feel great; my body is strong.”

Regardless of your fitness goals or where you are in your training you will be challenged many times to keep moving forward to achieve your desired goal.   Here are some common traits that make up mental toughness:

Be resilient:

Learn to bounce back from adversity, pain, or a disappointing performance. Realize and admit a mistake, understand a missed opportunity, embrace the lesson and quickly move on and refocus on the immediate goal ahead.

Focus

Focus in the face of distractions and unexpected circumstances.   Don’t avoid situations or make excuses for less than perfect conditions.  When your are dead tired, hurting and want to quit is the time to dig deep and focus.  Tell yourself to keep moving forward.

Trust:

Have faith in yourself   Trust that your body will know what to do when it is time to perform.  Trust in your training and your plan. Trust in your coach. Believe in yourself, even if there is no one nearby to boost your confidence.

—-BE POSITIVE:  TALK TO YOURSELF: VISUALZE:

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: BE PREPARED—

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will”  Mahatma Gandhi

Leave a Comment :, , , , , more...

Feed your Metabolism with Food.
Shari

by on Jan.01, 2012, under General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

All Calories are not created equal.

Contrary to what you may have been told, the body does not burn and store 500 calories of fruit and veggies the way it does 500 calories of refined, processed or fatty foods. Some foods take more work to eat–and therefore burn more calories while you’re digesting them.  Just the act of chewing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat can increase your calorie burn by up to 30%! On the contrary, many other foods lack certain nutrients and minerals that have been proven to stimulate the metabolism.  The higher your metabolism level, the faster you will lose weight, provided you eat healthy food and pursue an active lifestyle.

Depriving your body of fuel is a surefire way to slow it down.

When you slash calories, the calories burned by eating are greatly diminished and so is your metabolic rate. Restricting calories also signals the body that there is no food available, so it tries to conserve stores of carbohydrate and fat by slowing down its metabolism. The best way to keep your metabolism revved is to eat regular meals with snacks when necessary to give your body a constant supply of healthy fuel.

Nutritional Superstars that Burn Calories

There are proven nutritional superstars that can fuel your metabolic fire and help you to burn more calories as you kick your diet into high gear. These foods/beverages act similar to the way a thermogenic or a cardio session in how they affect the body. They can ramp up your metabolism, and in essence, assist you in burning fat.   When you wake up in the morning it is especially important to “break the fast” (and a sleepy metabolism) by eating breakfast. When you eat breakfast you start burning calories earlier, thereby burning more total calories through the day. And keep your metabolism pumping all day long, by eating several small meals through the day.  You will tend to eat less at one sitting, which puts less burden on your digestive system and lets it work more efficiently.

So what are you waiting for?   Let’s get your metabolism moving!

Food does some amazing things for our bodies, including fight disease.  Try adding some of these metabolism friendly foods to your diet each day:

1. Oatmeal If you’re looking to jumpstart your metabolism, start your morning off with a bowl of oatmeal. This super food is rich in fat soluble fiber, which requires a lot of calories to break down. Eating oatmeal can also help decrease your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

2. Grapefruit Studies indicate that eating grapefruit can reduce insulin levels. Lower insulin levels after meals can help your body process food more quickly and efficiently. This means that you burn more calories and store less fat.

3. Hot Peppers Adding some spice to your food can speed up your weight loss. Hot peppers, like jalapenos, contain a chemical called capsaicin, which gives these veggies their heat and causes a spike in your metabolism. This chemical also keeps the calorie burn going hours after you’ve finished your meal.

4. Lean Proteins The protein found in chicken, turkey and other lean meats takes a great deal of energy to break down. Therefore, your body burns a lot of calories during the digestive process. Protein is also an essential ingredient in building lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat.

5. Salmon and Tuna High levels of the hormone leptin have been linked to slower metabolisms and weight gain. A good way to lower leptin levels is to increase your intake of fish. The oil found in fish like salmon and tuna has been shown to cut leptin levels and help your body process foods more effectively.

Burn more calories with Green Tea

6. Low-fat Yogurt Low-fat yogurt is one of the best foods to eat if you’re trying to lose weight and boost your metabolism. Yogurt is full of calcium and protein. It gives you the energy your body needs to keep going all day and helps you build lean muscle mass. Yogurt can also help regulate your digestive tract.

7. Green Tea The caffeine found in green tea accelerates your heart rate and speeds up your metabolism. The tea also contains a chemical, known as EGCG, that stimulates the nervous system and helps you to burn calories at a faster rate.

8. Broccoli Broccoli is rich in both calcium and vitamin C. These two vitamins work together to help you burn calories faster and more effectively. Calcium activates your metabolism, while vitamin C helps you absorb more calcium.

9. Almonds Almonds may be high in calories, but they are also jam packed with essential fatty acids which are great metabolism boosters. And the healthy fat in almonds has been proven to help in lowering cholesterol.

10.  Apples,Pears, Berries:  These fruits are low calorie, high fiber, and rich in vitamins and antioxidants.  Your body must burn calories to break down. Since they help you stay full for longer, you‘ll eat less.  And they are naturally sweet!

Spices can fire up your metabolism too!

In addition to some of the suggestions listed, certain spices such as chiles, cinnamon, curry and ginger fire up your central nervous system and can boost your metabolism by as much as 12%.

Metabolism-Slowing Pitfalls

Just as there are natural ways to boost your metabolism, there are also natural ways you slow  your metabolism — Here are a few:

  • Skipping meals–always eat breakfast!
  • Sleeping less than 6 hours a night.
  • Eating empty calorie foods–exchange them for low carb, low-fat, high nutrition foods.
  • Choosing processed foods–exchange them for whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

And don’t overlook the power of water!

Researchers in Germany found that subjects increased their metabolic rates (the rate at which calories are burned) by up to 30 percent after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water. Water is also a natural appetite suppressant that banishes bloat as it flushes out sodium and toxins. Drinking enough water will also help keep you from mistaking thirst for hunger. It is necessary to drink water at frequent intervals, because it is water that helps in digestion of food. So drink up! Make sure that you are starting your day with a big big glass of water and drink all day long.  It’s hard to get too much water.

1 Comment :, , , , , , more...

Fresh Start Solutions: A Healthy New You for the New Year
Shari

by on Dec.26, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

Quick fixes don’t exist for long-term health. Slow and steady wins this race.

We are creatures of habit. To make health-conscious changes, the changes have to fit in with our habits.

Have you ever changed, or tried to change, the way you eat? While you may want to change your diet, it can feel too hard and time-consuming. And when you are busy with work, family…life, there is just no time for added complication, right?  But, it’s the New Year and you are making a promise to start (and stay) on a strict diet to lose weight, but are you just setting yourself up for more frustration and failure…again?

Shifting to healthier eating habits can seem complex.   Nutritionists tell you, “Eat more vegetables; reduce your saturated fat; watch the sugar; buy organic; avoid trans fats; get enough calcium; eat low carb; high protein…”   On and on it goes.

Little wonder most people put off changing their diet…or opt for trendy rapid weight loss plans.

You already know that commitment is crucial for success; so you consider one of the popular commercial diet programs that promise quick and easy results. This craving for instant gratification is why people gravitate to fad diets. Unfortunately, (and statistically); these plans don’t let you MAINTAIN weight loss.  Once you “go off” the diet, and return to old ways, the bad habits return along with weight gain and associated health issues.

But no need to feel discouraged.  Small, incremental changes are the key to success. Health altering changes simply involve re-education to meal options that promote consistency while keeping your body filled with nutrition.    It is more a mind-shift and a behavior change, not a diet.  Learn to change the behavior you are used to and focus on building habits of living that improve your life.

Shift your attitude to viewing food as a fuel to sustain life and not something that controls your quality of life. We all have different body compositions, likes and dislikes, and finding success in making healthy lifestyle changes is a process that will take a little time and experimentation. Start with small steps and before you know it, the small changes add up to become part of a healthy new lifestyle.  For example, when you wake up tomorrow instead of skipping breakfast, eat a small meal consisting of healthy carbs, protein and a little fat. Do this for a week. Once this works for you with little effort, it will be time to make another small change.

Eat Real Food (and less of it)

No matter what diet you follow, make sure most of it comes from food without bar codes. Whole foods, with minimal processing and preservatives are best. Concentrate most of your shopping time around the perimeter of your grocery store.  Chances are the fresh produce, whole grain breads, meat and seafood departments, and dairy cases are around the perimeter of the store. Then dip into the isles for staples, like oatmeal and olive oil.  And you don’t need nearly as many calories as you think you do. Most women will lose weight (or maintain it) on 1,250-1,600 calories and most men between 1,500-2,000. Cutting calories by about one-third is also one of the best strategies for living longer.

Suggestions for the New Year / and a Healthier New You:

  • eat more fruit and vegetables
  • have a better awareness of your eating patterns and how to make your diet work for you
  • try some different foods and increase the variety in your diet
  • be on the way to controlling hunger and the portions you eat
  • work out some strategies for eating well when you’re busy

Follow these eight rules of eating, and you’ll more easily manage your weight and improve your nutrition From YOU: The Owners Manual by RealAge experts Micael F. Roizen, MD and Mehmet C. Oz, MD.

http://www.realage.com/food/8-ways-to-improve-nutrition

Leave a Comment :, , , , more...

A New Perspective…. “From The Dark Side”
Shari

by on Nov.20, 2011, under Family News, Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.

–A couple weeks before my last Body Building competition in 2009, I weighed 100 lbs with a body fat ~11%.  I was hungry and exhausted from extreme dieting for  over 16 weeks. My entire life revolved around insanely meticulous calorie and nutrient counting and timing.  I spent HOURS every week preparing, carefully weighing and packing each meal, and was (many would say) obsessive about eating the exact calculated ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats at precisely the right time of day.  As my weekly caloric intake decreased, so did

INBF Natural Atlantic Coast Oct. 2009

my energy and I had less to put into my training or more importantly … to my family, friends and work.

—Today, I weigh 115 lbs and maintain a body fat of ~16%.  Eating healthy is still a top priority in my life.   I do not allow my diet to control me, although I am quite strict and careful about what I put into my body. .. but it is a process that still requires self control and discipline.  And YES, I still carry my cooler with me almost everywhere I go… (Some habits never die!)   These days however, I enjoy a variety of foods, and feel freedom to experiment with new recipes and ingredients without depriving my body of the nutrients it needs… or worrying that I may eat too many carbs or not enough protein at any given meal. I go to restaurants, and cook-outs and cocktail parties again.

After each body building season, I was nervous about gaining too much weight….I liked looking lean and muscular. But what I learned was this:  All this new energy allowed me to focus more intensely on my lifting.  … AND I quickly found out:

More Energy = More Intense workouts = EVEN MORE MUSCLE

Yes, I know, this is NOT rocket science. But initially I was so worried about that damn scale. Just like SO MANY of us.   Why do we so obsess over the scale? What exactly is “too much weight” … We need to stop focusing on the scale but on our own unique body composition. Today, I weigh more than I have in years, but I wear exactly the same size clothes, though I have stronger, more athletic physique.  My body fat percentage is in the excellent range for someone who is almost 50 years old.  My energy and my disposition are better than ever…  I feel (and look) healthier than I have in a long time.  (Most days) I am not obsessed by the mirror, or the scale.  And as I get stronger and continue to build more muscle…. I continue to burn unwanted body fat.

So now I look back on the last year or two with an entirely different perspective.  Body building gave me purpose and a goal and provided a direction and an accountability I needed in

APF Nationals Raw Power Lifting – April 2011

my life. It is a part of me but it doesn’t define me anymore.   I’m not saying that I am done body building; I honestly don’t know.  The competition circuit is amazing fun and has given me the privilege to befriend some really spectacular people.  I have great respect for the athletes and the sport. I appreciate how difficult the journey to the stage is.  So, it’s not so much that I have fallen out of love with bodybuilding but I’ve got a new itch.  I have fallen in love again… with power lifting.   The dark side, as some of my new lifting friends joke. I am a student again and I love all of it –from the scraped up shins to my overly callused hands.  You not only have to have physical strength, you have to be tough to be a power lifter.  There is no place for fear. You have to overcome your fears and your weaknesses. You have to not be afraid to fail or afraid of  pain because there will be many failed attempts and a lot of pain.  So here I go again pushing to my very limits, taking on new challenges, not only in body, but also in mind and spirit.  I’m on a journey again.   I am chasing numbers again, but this time around, the numbers I chase have nothing to do with counting carbs.  All I know is that while on this journey I’m determined to become the best lifter I can be…

Yes, I’ve fallen to the dark side.  And I’m all in. Some may even say I’m obsessed.

“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”


Leave a Comment :, , , more...

Fitness Plateaus: How to get your body out of cruise control.
Shari

by on Nov.13, 2011, under Fitness, Motivation, Weight Loss

“… There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”  Bruce Lee

Workout plateaus are nothing new.  You are hitting the gym routinely. You feel more energetic and look better, but  suddenly now you‘re not feeling the burn anymore.  The scale stops moving and your body becomes immune to the stress of exercise.  You have hit the wall.  Fortunately, it usually only takes a few changes to overcome a workout plateau.

The key to overcoming plateaus is change.

Changing up just a few things can make a big difference.  Our bodies are highly adaptive and are constantly working to maintain homeostasis—so the workout that was so challenging and making you sweat and burn calories 6 weeks ago is no longer.   Changing your approach or routine will help you blast through frustrating plateaus. Remember the body acclimates to repeated challenges, making it necessary to make changes every four to six weeks.

A few suggestions from Web MD:

Pump it up. Instead of 40 minutes on the treadmill, pump up your metabolism with high-intensity intervals. Do four minutes of any cardiovascular exercise as hard as you can; then two minutes of strength-building exercises (using free weights or weight machines). Repeat this “harder/easier” cycle five times. (The magic cardio-to-weights ratio is 2-to-1.) Your

Change workout activities, intensity and break through plateaus.

post-exercise metabolic rate and fat loss will increase much more than if you exercised 40 minutes steadily at an average pace, and you’re also building lean muscle mass.

Shake it up. Walking doesn’t do much to help you lose weight, even though it’s good for your health. Instead, mix up your cardio intervals by throwing in new things every week: the elliptical machine, the recumbent bike, the rowing machine, the stair climber. Keep your body guessing.

Start it up. The one time when simple aerobic exercise can really boost your metabolism is in the morning. When you first wake up, your liver has burned through your carbohydrate stores, and light aerobic exercise can jump-start the fat-burning enzymes in your liver. So start your day with a brisk walk.

Count it up. You might think you’re not snacking between meals, but it’s easy to miss the bites of your kids’ leftovers you take here and there. For a few days, record everything you eat. Make sure the extra food you take in is accounted for — either by cutting out your dinner roll or by doing an extra high-intensity interval.

——

*Varying your activities or cross-training is important to avoid or break through plateaus.  But while changing up type of activity is important, it is also important to implement variations in intensity.

Specify different days of the week as low, moderate or high-intensity days.  Grab a new partner to work out with. Get out of the gym and move your workout outdoors.  The mix-up of activities will also keep your workouts enjoyable, thus helping with motivation as you break through the wall.

And if you’re not strength training, now is the time to start.  A pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat.  And you want to replace fat with muscle to increase the amount of calories you burn a day.  If you are already lifting and have hit your plateau: You MUST step up the intensity of your strength training program. Bump up the frequency of your training from twice to three times a week. Increase the amount of weight you’re lifting to challenge your muscles even more or try a more challenging exercises.

But plateaus do not necessarily mean you need to work harder or spend more days at the gym. It may be time for an active rest.  Proper rest and recovery from working out is so important, it may just be the deciding force behind results and no results.  Consider taking a few days, to up to a week off from structured exercise, and instead take leisurely walks, play ball with the kids, or take a yoga class. Active rest rejuvenates the mind and the body and allows for overworked muscles to rest and rebuild. You will return to exercise stronger and ready for new challenges.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , more...

Rest… And Grow Stronger.
Shari

by on Apr.10, 2011, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Motivation

Active Rest: Because you just can’t train ALL out, ALL the time.

Resting is an essential element of training… as long as it is active.

Active rest is light exercise performed on non-training days at an easy pace with little stress.  The low-intensity assists blood circulation which in turns removes lactic acid, reduces blood lactate and speeds muscle recovery for your next high-intensity session. Active rest is NOT the assigned times in between sets of exercises during strength-training and it is NOT the recovery during interval training during a cardio session.

In the recent past, athletes were encouraged to rest completely after a competition or on a day off.  But newer research shows that engaging in low-intensity exercise during “rest” is better for maintaining fitness levels.  Low-intensity exercise flushes out lactic acid and delivers healing oxygen to the muscles.  Active rest activities are easy recreational movements… so keep intensity at levels lower than regular training.

The guideline for this is to exercise at 65% of your maximum heart rate. To determine that, calculate 220 minus your

Get your Glow on... Active REST makes you FITTER!

age, then times that number by .65. Otherwise, increase your breathing and heart rate to slightly above normal level. Be mindful to work hard enough so your body can exercise effectively, but not hard enough that you produce more lactic acid.  Getting your blood pumping will help flush away waste products like lactic acid that can build up in muscles post exercise.  You won’t be blinded by sweat, but you’ll get a good glow on.

Examples of active rest activities for strength athletes would be yoga, hiking, biking or walking.  If you are an avid spinner, you may try a round of tennis. Swimming, gardening, or tossing a Frisbee with the dog; you get the picture. Leave the stopwatch and heavy weights for training days.  Workouts should be at least 20 minutes in duration.

If you don’t actively rest, you risk burn out: a condition when stressors become too great in relation to your body’s ability to adapt. As a result, your training can be derailed for weeks or months to regain energy due to over-training. That’s why variation within your training week is important. The light days make the heavy days possible. They should enhance your more intense workouts and they should be equally enjoyable. If done right, scheduled active rest days will prevent over-training, injuries and mental fatigue.

Don’t confuse a day of ACTIVE REST with DOING NOTHING or having A LIGHT WORKOUT DAY.

ACTIVE REST days allow you to get your heart rate elevated and blood circulating. Also, remember an ACTIVE REST day is not a day off from good nutrition!

Leave a Comment :, , , , more...

See Less, Eat Less. Portion Distortion
Shari

by on Mar.27, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

One of the most important pieces of information in a nutrition label is the serving size.

There is a difference between “a portion” and “a serving”. A serving is a standard or measure on how much food to eat and has been chosen by the manufacturer to describe the nutritional value of that food. For example 1 cup of milk, or a half a cup of oats. A portion is the amount of food someone CHOOSES to put on their plate and eat. Be mindful of portion sizes, for example 1 cup of oatmeal is actually considered 2 servings.

Buyers beware! Packaging can be misleading.  Many foods that come as a single portion actually contain  multiple servings. The Nutrition fact label on packaged foods—on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc. — also informs you of the number of servings in the container.  We may look at the calories but don’t notice the stated serving size. This means we may be consuming more calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc.

For example, look at the label of a 20-ounce soda (typically consumed as one portion), and you’ll see that it has 2.5 servings in it.  So if you choose to drink the whole bottle of Pepsi, you are consuming 250 calories and a whopping 69 grams of sugar!  A 3-ounce bag of chips—which some would consider a single portion—is actually 3 servings.

Buyer Beware: This is 2 1/2 servings & contains 69gms of sugar!

Another example of portion distortion is the bagel.   A typical bagel used to be 2 to 3 ounces, or about 200 calories. Today one bagel is 5 to 6 ounces, which can be well over 400 calories, depending on the type. (This is without any “schmear” on top!)   That same 5- ounce bagel that you might enjoy for breakfast is the equivalent of 5 pieces of bread and comprises the five servings of breads/grains that someone should eat for the entire day.

We live in a world of all you can eat buffets and “supersized” convenience foods. And when food is put in front of us, we will eat.  Restaurant portions tend to be two times or more than is recommended at one sitting, which leads to way too many calories. We can retrain ourselves to eat more slowly and stop eating when we are satisfied…not full. Also, it is healthier to eat several smaller meals, rather than a few large meals a day. This is because it keeps your body in the digesting-food mode, which means it keeps your metabolism up.

One of the easiest ways to cut back on calories and lose weight is by monitoring portion sizes.

A couple of “visual” tips to help with portion control and avoid consuming too many extra calories: In general terms, one hand, cupped = 1/2cup, two hands, cupped = 1 cup. An open palm, or the size of a deck of cards = 3-4 oz, the

Portion Distortion

standard serving size for a piece of chicken or fish,  and a serving of potatoes about the size of a computer mouse, for example.  Get to know the recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods and strive to stick to that as closely as

you can.   Another way to prevent over indulgence is to serve meals on smaller side plates, instead of dinner plates.  Think of meat and pasta as the side dishes and vegetables as the main course.  Fill half your plate with veggies, one quarter with lean protein (meat) and on quarter with starch/carbs (pasta, rice, potato).  Once you get into the habit of monitoring portions, it will become second nature and easier to monitor.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day—enough to help them lose a half-pound a week—and still felt full.

Leave a Comment :, , , , more...

Ready to start a strength training program?… Knowing where to begin can be the hardest part.
Shari

by on Jan.07, 2011, under Fitness, Motivation, Strength and Agility Training

“I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds”

Building muscle strength is really good for you. And if you’re a woman, I promise you’re not going to end up looking freakishly masculine by lifting weights. There are many documented benefits to strength training, which include toning your muscles, increasing bone density, decreasing your weight, and decreasing your resting blood pressure… not to mention how much better you will look and  how much more energized you will feel!

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make however is doing too much too soon. Think of the first few weeks of your

Proper technique is a critical component of strength training

program as a prep-time; a period in which you concentrate on learning proper technique and form, which exercises to do, which muscle groups to work and how much weight to use. I’m going to say this part again… use this time to learn about proper form and get into the habit of regular strength training.

An important part of strength training is to be consistent. Everything is life that is good requires efforts to achieve. You want results? You will have to work at it for at least 6 months. Set yourself this timeline and keep to it.  At the end of the 6 months, you will see results if you are consistent.

You can begin your program in a gym or at home… the most important factor to making improvements to your health is that you start… somewhere.

There are hundreds of websites that offer general guidance on getting started and although very helpful, for a newcomer it all can also be overwhelming, contradictory (depending on who is giving the advice) and therefore a bit frustrating. Books and DVD’s also offer fundamental information and starter workout programs to follow.

There is probably no better option than an actual, live person to help you get your program going.  A coach or trainer will listen to your goals, note your limitations and observe and help you with proper form.  Most gyms offer complimentary orientation sessions to new members or you can always enlist the services of a trainer to help you design a program that is right for you and sets you up for success!

Before you begin your strength training exercises, it is important that you always warm up at least 5-10 minutes.  The warm-up will help to prevent injury. The goal of warming up is to increase blood flow to the muscles you are about to exercise.
A sample beginning routine would include a total body circuit program that would incorporate 2 sets per exercise using a weight where 10-15 repetitions can be completed, with the last 2-3 repetition considered “challenging”.   Start off with 2-3 days of strength training per week and focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups. For example: you would complete 1 exercise each for Chest, Back, Shoulder and Arms, and 2 exercises for Legs.  Allow your body to recover a day or two between workouts.

As your conditioning improves, and your fitness level increases, you may wish to incorporate an additional training day and break down your routine into an upper body workout one day and lower body on another. Periodically, you will need to change up and vary your exercises and you should be increasing the weight you lift every two to three weeks in order to prevent plateaus. If your body isn’t being challenged, you won’t make any gains. Ideally, you should be bettering yourself every time you train.  You may not increase the weight you lift every time—(if you can, that’s great)–but you will be able to increase the number of reps or sets that you do. Strive to reach a new level of fitness every single time you lift.

The best workout is one where your muscles feel worked, and you feel satisfied with your progress. If you’re ever in pain, don’t ignore it. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and it should never be ignored.

Leave a Comment :, , , more...

Me Exercise?…To be healthy, You got to GET UP and MOVE!
Shari

by on Dec.26, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Motivation, Weight Loss

The human body is not designed for inactivity.

You and I need to exercise to get healthy to maintain good health.  Period.

It is hard to admit that we are getting fat as a nation. While it may be hard to admit in words, it is not hard to see the evidence as we look around.  And it is no longer just one particular group that need to make lifestyle changes, it’s every where, every demographic…and every age group; even our children.

But, What many don’t realize is that even if you are not overweight, exercise has numerous benefits that are important for maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Besides a general increase in overall quality of life, here are 10 documented benefits of exercise.

  1. Lower mortality – a daily 2 mile walk can add years to a life over that of a sedentary person’s life.

    Grab a friend and get to it!

  2. Improves cardiovascular health – Heart becomes more efficient through exercise and heart rates decline (good cholesterol – LDL decreased).
  3. Has a positive effect on blood pressure and reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (Bad cholesterol –HDL increased).
  4. Reduced risk of certain types of cancer; particularly colon.
  5. Lower risk of diabetes because regular exercise lowers blood glucose levels; which help to control blood sugar levels.
  6. Regular exercise helps in weight control as well as favorable effect on body fat distribution away from abdominal area and aides in bringing dangerous body fat levels down to a healthy range.
  7. Exercise (especially weight bearing) can contribute to optimal bone density and help protect against osteoporosis.
  8. Physical activity counters anxiety and depressionimproves mood and the ability to cope with stress. Exercise releases chemical substances called endorphins that work as an effective anxiety reliever.
  9. Moderate activity enhances immune system and aides in resistance to colds and infections.
  10. Exercise improves balance, strength and flexibility – all which canreduce risk of falling.

BOTTOM LINE: Get up and move. Leave all of the excuses.  A little exercise not only does your body and mind good…. It may just give back to you much more than you put into it.

In good health,

shari

Leave a Comment :, , , , , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...