Shari Duncan

Tag: commitment

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
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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

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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

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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.”


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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.

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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.

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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

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The Competition Diet… A Little Art, A Little Science = A Lot of Lean.
Shari

by on Dec.06, 2010, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Weight Loss

GETTING LEAN:

Getting really lean is an art form…and a science. It is NOT about starving yourself. In fact starving yourself would be the worst thing you could do.

The months before entering a physique competition are extremely difficult and require plenty of discipline and perseverance.  Eating the correct foods in the proper proportions and at the appropriate time is vital to getting your physique  primed for the stage.

The information presented here assumes the reader has a certain level of nutritional knowledge.

HOW MANY CALORIES EVERY DAY?

Sculpting the physique for competition takes weeks of disciplined dieting

Sculpting the physique for competition takes weeks of disciplined dieting

Calories: A VERY general rule of thumb is 16 x your bodyweight. So if your goal is to weigh 125 pounds that would be 2000 calories a day intake to maintain a bodyweight of 125. To lose weight eat clean and eat with a slight calorie deficit, about 200 to 300 calories below your maintenance level.  Over time you will figure out the correct balance and will make adjustments accordingly.

PROTEIN: Eating the correct amount of protein is PARAMOUNT to helping you build and maintain a muscular physique, since proteins are the building blocks of muscle in your body. You should eat at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight EVERY day. Protein should be consumed at every meal.

CARBS: Fifty to sixty percent of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates until about three months before your competition. At this point, carbohydrate intake begins to be cut  to 20 to 40 percent. Eating the right types of carbs will make all the difference in your physique. Whole-grain carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains and quinoa digest slowly in your body. As weeks progress and the number of allowable carbohydrate grams is reduced, you will be getting more of your carbohydrate calories from veggies and limiting fruits to 2-3servings daily.

FATS: Fat intake will be reduced when preparing for a physique competition.  Most people can consume up to 30 percent of calories from healthy fats until about the three-month mark, then as weeks progress, gradually reduce fat intake to 10 to 20 percent.

You need to keep an eating log and record your food intake so you can make accurate adjustments. If you are very active you may have to eat more. If you are naturally obese and hold onto body fat easily you may have to eat less. The only way to really know (how a certain level of food intake will affect you) is keep an eating log and discover what effect eating a certain amount of calories for a month has on you. Ask yourself: Did I get leaner? Did I lose muscle? Did I gain fat? Then make adjustments.

** Remember metabolisms vary significantly from person to person – I am able to keep my healthy fats at ~25% during the leaning phase.  I focus more on gradually cutting carbohydrate calories, and increasing cardio sessions as the weeks progress.  I am also not as “carb sensitive” as some.

This basic template for macronutrient ratio’s works for me:   Protein: 35-40%, Carbs 35-40%, Fats 25%. As I begin to cut carbohydrate calories, I may gradually increase protein, (to keep calories up) depending on the progress I am making.

 Programs like Fitday.com provide online support for macronutrient tracking

Programs like Fitday.com provide online support for macronutrient tracking

Basic rules to lose body fat:

Eat every 3 hours. Six small meals a day. Avoid foods that spike your insulin levels (like bread, sugar, and pasta) or foods high in fat (bacon, cakes, butters, fatty meats). Focus on high fiber foods (vegetables, whole wheat, fruits) and protein foods (whey protein, egg whites, fish, lean chicken, low fat cottage cheese, and meal replacements).  This increases your metabolic rate. Remember to consume 200-300 calories a day below maintenance level. Also eating every 3 hours tricks your body into thinking YOU ARE NOT DIETING (constant blood sugar level) so it does not store fat (go into famine mode).

As weeks progress, gradually decrease carbs without cutting calories. Eat more vegetables and more protein. Low carb intake lowers insulin levels, you store very little fat, and activate fat burning mechanisms in the body. Keep the calories up though. As you begin to decrease carbs,  you will also increase cardio.

When your metabolism slows (from dieting), eat more for 1 to 3 days. Usually one day will do it. Exercise more (increase intensity) as well. Get your metabolism moving again. Usually 300 to 400 calories above maintenance will do it. Carb cycling works well for me when dieting.  I incorporate 1 – 2 “re-feed” days per week; with the 2 higher carb days falling on the most strenuous training days (eg squat, leg days). Having these 2 days also helps to restore depleted energy stores (physically and mentally!)

Water and Supplements

Water is one of the most important components of a competition diet and should not be overlooked.  Aim to drink at least a gallon of water every day leading up to the competition.  Avoid alcohol consumption. Certain supplements can aide you in the preparation phase as well.  Consider taking supplements such as a multivitamin and mineral; antioxidants, including green tea; branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s); glutamine and glucosamine.

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Bands, Balls, Bells….. No Gym Required
Shari

by on Aug.04, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Motivation, Strength and Agility Training

Get fit. Lose the excuses…and those membership dues.


No money.  No time. No babysitter. Too busy. Too self conscious. These are the reasons given for NOT joining a gym.  But we all WANT to be fit and healthy. Guess what?  You don’t need a gym to get an amazing workout. And you don’t need to fight crowds to wait for fancy, expensive equipment.  You can get fit and healthy….at home!

Exercise should be made convenient and not made to rule your life… With a few simple, inexpensive aides, you will be on your way to a better you.  These aides will add versatility to your at home training sessions. Adding variety to your workouts will keep you engaged and interested, and keeps your muscles guessing and challenged so that you will make progress.

So swing by your local Wal-mart or Target and pick up one or all of the following:

Get back to basics with the 3 B’s…..

Resistance Bands:

Bands offer constant tension on the muscle, both in the positive and the negative part of the movement. Bands incorporate more stabilizer muscles to keep the band in alignmentthroughout each exercise, adding a different dynamic to the same old moves. This helps with coordination and balance as you engage more muscle groups. They also offer more variety than cables for example because you can create resistance from all directions – overhead, below, sideways, etc.

  • You can perform the same exercises as you do with free weights–the difference lies in positioning the band. For example, stand on the band and grip the handles for bicep curls or overhead presses. Or attach it to a door and do lat pulldowns or tricep pushdowns. The possibilities are endless and you’ll find there are a multitude of exercises available to you.
  • Bands range from $6 – $20, depending on how many you buy. Most bands are color coded, according to tension level. (It’s best to get at least 3, as different muscle groups require different levels of resistance).
  • And, they are easily packed away in a suitcase so that you can get your workout in even when traveling.
  • http://exercise.about.com/cs/exerciseworkouts/l/blbandworkout.htm

Stability Balls:

Exercise balls challenge you by placing your body in an unstable environment.  They are among the most versatile (and my favorite) exercise aides in that they help to improve core strength as well as strengthen abs and back.  When you lie or sit on the ball, your legs and abs immediately contract to keep you from falling off. Add an exercise to that (like a cheststability exercise ball or shoulder press or crunch), and you’ve just increased the intensity of the movement.

Use the stability ball as your “weight bench”.  This adds difficulty to the movement as well as engages the legs, butt and abs.

Before you buy a ball, make sure it’s the right size for your height. To test it, sit on the ball and make sure your hips are level or just slightly higher than the knees.  Again, you can find a stability ball for under $20.

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/gear/equipment/best-stability-ball-exercises/?page=1

**When shopping for fitness balls, you may also consider purchasing a medicine ball.  A medicine ball is a weighted, hollow ball that varies in size from the size of a volley ball (lighter) to a basketball (heavier).

Dumbells:

You don’t need a whole rack of weights to supplement your home workouts. 2 -3 sets of dumbbells will enable you to get in a full body workout; especially if used in conjunction with a stability ball and/or bands.   For every exercise you can do with a traditional barbell, you can do a similar exercise (and more) with a  set of dumbbells. Use the heavier set for exercises in which you can manage more weight — squats and lunges for example; and lighter weight for exercises that work best with comparatively lighter weights — raises, rows, curls, etc.

For the exercise suggestions that follow, remember that many times the stability ball can replace a weight bench.

http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/dumbbellexercises.html

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Commit to be Fit. Why Motivation isn’t Enough
Shari

by on Jun.06, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Motivation

Sure you’re motivated, but are you committed… I mean really committed to making the changes in yourself that you want?

The reality is that we are well intentioned. We don’t want to be overweight, deconditioned, or lethargic all the time.  Who among us doesn’t wish for optimum health and energy?

So motivation gets us started.  It comes from a source outside of us. It drives us to establish goals when we are contemplating changing a behavior…like weight loss, increased activity, or a healthier, leaner body.  But being motivated is a fleeting feeling. Motivation waxes and wanes.  It’s easy to skip a workout, go home and raid the fridge and overindulge on pizza or ice cream after a hard, stressful day of work.   It is easy to come up with reasons (excuses) to deviate from the goal.

Seeing it through:

" I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday. "

This is where commitment enters.  Commitment is an action. It comes from a source inside of us. The commitment to accomplishing the goal is the key to success.  So no matter what, we hit the gym and opt for the grilled chicken on whole wheat tortilla instead of the ice cream with fudge sauce.  That is commitment.

Those who are successful in reaching goals make a commitment to giving their best at all times. They strive to capitalize on strengths and work on improving weaknesses. They overcome obstacles and view them as challenges instead of making excuses. On days when motivation lacks, they push harder.  They dig deep going to a place where they can visualize their goal…. And they keep going. Not always an easy task.

If you want to be committed to your own personal health, fitness or life goal… you must take the words “should” and “maybe” out of your vocabulary.   Replace them with “I will” and “I can”.  Act with certainty and confidence.   Don’t allow outside influences, situations and circumstances to get in the way. Because the reality is, these interruptions and distractions happen every single day to every one of us to potentially throw us off course.  This type of self discipline is not easy.  There are many powerful forces that will distract you from your goal.  Be courageous and face the difficulties.  As you accumulate small victories, your self confidence will grow. Just set out to do your very best every day.

“Commitment is what
Transforms the promise into reality.
It is the words that speak
Boldly of your intentions.
And the actions which speak
Louder than the words.
It is making the time
When there is none.
Coming through time
After time after time,
Year after year after year.
Commitment is the stuff
Character is made of;
The power to change
The face of things.
It is the daily triumph
Of integrity over skepticism”

Most things worth accomplishing aren’t easy. So set the bar… set it high and go for it. After all, if it were easy, everyone would do it.

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