Motivation to Reach Your Goals Through 2013

January 7, 2013 By: consultant 9 Comments

For the first time in human history, overeating is now more of a global health threat than hunger.  According to medical journal, The Lancet, more than 3 million deaths in 2010 were attributable to excess body weight, three times the death toll due to malnutrition.

We live in a world of an over-abundant amount of cheap food.  Where gorging at the buffet is a practiced on a regular basis and heart disease and type 2 Diabetes is on the rise among young people. With all of the options out there, why do we make the choices that lead us to illness?  If we just knew how to change our bad habits and move toward healthy lifestyle changes. Shane Diet and Fitness Resorts can help you do just that!  We have lectures and workshops that help you understand how, why and what to do every day to keep you on track. Our counselors help you discover what obstacles are getting in the way of achieving your personal fitness and weight loss goals.

Millions of Americans will try to achieve their New Year’s resolution, pledging to lose weight, spend less money, quit smoking, exercise more…making overnight changes require enormous amounts of self-discipline and support, which can be hard to find. Studies have shown that willpower is a depletable resource. Setting challenging goals can quickly use up your stores of willpower and all your best intentions will fall by the wayside. Here are some tips to staying motivated to creating solid positive changes for 2013.

  • Make tiny goals that can sneak under the radar of you mind. Exercising for five minutes instead of an hour might seem worthless, but you are much less likely to resist it.  Studies show that five minutes here and there throughout the day still adds up. Five minutes today, will lead to 6 minutes tomorrow, to a half hour by the weekend. Motivation is fleeting and the largest barrier to reaching your goals. By taking small steps you will build up your willpower, create new habits and reach success.
  • Search for a deep reason – something compelling – that is the reason for making the changes in your life.  Is it because you want to look good in an outfit or is it a matter of life and death!  Make it long term, like dancing with your child at their wedding, or being able to really play with your grandchildren.
  • Test yourself every week.  Time yourself in a plank on your elbows, or hold a squat hovering above a chair. See if you can increase the time you can hold it every week. How about your balance? Stand on one foot. Too easy? Try to balance on the ball of your foot like a dancer.
  • Drop the “All or Nothing” mentality. You have to discover what is manageable for you. Be honest with yourself and figure out how you can fit movement into your life.  Perform Squats while washing the dishes, raise up on your toes while brushing your teeth, walk the stairs for five minutes during your lunch break, stand while talking on the phone. Don’t overthink it, just find something you can do on a regular basis and don’t get discouraged if you stop – start up again as soon as you can.

Need more help? The Shane Staff is here to provide you with a Success Map to help you reach your diet and fitness goals. We will help get you where you want to go and will give you the tools you need to continue to reach those goals once you leave.

 

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Consistent Fitness Routines Depend on Organization

November 30, 2012 By: consultant 2 Comments

During the holiday seasons even the most consistent exerciser struggles to stay “on program.”  We are used to a certain level of busyness, and when that level is greater than normal, something always suffers.  People who organize added tasks often succeed in maintaining their regular workout routines.  Why?  Because organization leads to expediency, and expediency takes less time than inefficiency.

The key to organization is planning.  At Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts we make planning and goal setting a top priority. That is why everyone participates in motivational coaching workshops to help you discover why you are not reaching your personal goals.  Try to somehow record the added tasks that await you–either by using your organizer, by speaking into a recording devise, or by relying on basic pen and paper lists.  Having a running list, will help you group tasks together in a time-saving manner.  People who rely on memory alone end up making multiple trips to accomplish the same tasks that list-makers finish in one trip.

It is especially true during hectic seasons that you keep your workout paraphernalia organized.  Mornings that used to allow time for packing a gym bag are busier. If you had the foresight the night before, your gym bag is ready to grab–you have your sneakers, clean socks, fresh water bottle, sweat towel, Nano, personalized Shane Fitness workout, toiletries for showering, and a change of clothes.  Even with the new added tasks, you can still accomplish your workout because you are prepared and organized.  In the same circumstance, a disorganized person who must first start searching for her sneakers is destined to skip the workout.  Similarly, sticking to a good nutritional plan is easy if you organize your food options in advance—perhaps you have a great snack in your gym bag that you whipped up quickly from The Shane Diet Cookbook.  Disorganized people find themselves overwhelmed, lacking time and clear judgment, which can lead them to making fattening food choices.

The philosophy behind becoming organized is completely contrary to the philosophy required for remaining disorganized: only when you are willing to delay gratification (which leads to long term benefits), instead of opting for immediate gratification (which prevent long term benefits), can you start to become organized.  Deciding whether or not to pack the gym bag in advance is a perfect example of how these philosophies work: You about to relax at night, when thoughts of the morning cross your mind.  You either choose to relax, putting off replenishing you gym bag right, (letting the desire for the immediate gratification of relaxing win you over), or you delay the gratification of relaxing, and pack the bag.  Taking the time to do a chore in advance is like making an investment: the initial effort takes time and energy, but the rewards down the line are many-fold.

Ask yourself what your priorities are in creating a healthful lifestyle.  Then choose to invest some time in those priorities.  Prepare ahead of time the pieces that will make your puzzle fit, and you will reap the reward of a balanced result. You are worth it!

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Rosie’s Top Tips for After Shane

November 13, 2012 By: office 3 Comments

This is really special guest post for us- Rosie was a guest at the Shane Diet & Fitness New York resort this summer, and has become one of our Success Stories.  She’s been working hard ever since she left to continue to achieve her weight loss goals while attending college and studying to become a fitness trainer- something she never thought possible before this summer.  Rosie shared with us her top ten habits, thoughts and reminders that have helped her continue her weight loss.

  1. Stick to the routine, even if it isn’t strictly the Shane routine, pick times of the day that work for you to eat and exercise and stick to them.
  2. Don’t get hungry, whatever you do avoid going long periods of time without food, it won’t help weight loss and you’ll end up eating something unhealthy.  Also don’t save up all your calories to eat badly, if you’re going to eat badly plan for it but don’t avoid food all day.
  3. Don’t feel guilty, if you want something so badly you can’t think straight… have it, have a small portion, don’t do it all the time, work out a bit more that week but don’t beat yourself up about it. Own your decisions.
  4. Don’t forget where you’re going, or where you came from. If it feels like progress is slow once you get home don’t forget all the progress you’ve already made and don’t let slow progress stop you feeling achievement or set you back. Even slow progress is a step in the right direction and if you can accept it’s not going to happen overnight you’ll do better in the long run.
  5. Fight cravings, recognize that cravings aren’t usually hunger and tackle them, if it’s an appropriate time to eat have a healthy alternative. If not occupy yourself, take up knitting or paint your nails, read a magazine or have a hot drink like green or herbal tea. Do whatever works for you as a distraction.
  6. Reward yourself, every time you have a healthy home cooked meal rather than a take out or don’t buy that chocolate bar on the way home or take a pack lunch to work. Use the money you save to buy yourself a new outfit or a recipe book.
  7. Be goal oriented, without something to aim for its hard to stay on track, whether it’s a weight to lose, a weight to lift or a race to finish achieving goals is a great way to mark progress. And if it doesn’t happen first time round don’t despair, reassess and try again.
  8. Don’t weigh yourself every day, by all means once a week, even make a chart but don’t do it every day you’ll get sucked up in the little numbers and it won’t feel like you’re making progress when you are.
  9. Keep in touch, Shane creates an environment where you live, eat, sleep and work out with the same people, you go through a lot with them, they are your friends, your family and your support network while you’re there. Don’t lose that when you get home, the staff and the programme will be there for you long after you leave but so will everyone else and it’s a great opportunity to make life long friends. Make sure you utilize that.
  10. And most of all, do not, under any circumstances, give up. You might stop losing weight, you might even gain a few pounds, maybe you’re injured, something is going on at home or at school or you just don’t feel like its worth it. But this is your life, you only get one and it’s never too late to make the most of it. Take the opportunity to get healthy, get fit and enjoy your body.

 

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Strength-Training: All You Need is 15 Minutes, Twice Weekly

October 25, 2012 By: consultant 5 Comments

So many of us fall off our fitness and weight loss programs because we are just too busy at times to fit it all in.  When a workout routine is lengthy, we find ourselves skipping it more often than not.  What most people do not realize is that for the strength-training aspect of a fitness routine, we really only need to commit to 15 minutes, twice per week.  If it sounds too good to be true, read on to learn how to organize your workout in the most expedient and effective way.

Anyone doing cardiovascular activity realizes that it is usually focused on the lower body.  Except for swimming, most aerobic activity stimulates the lower body to maintain strength and muscle.  Even people who do not do formal cardio exercise, still walk, get up and down from couches, chairs, and  climb stairs, etc. What many people, don’t realize, however, is that unless their upper body is also worked somehow, it starts to lose muscle after age 30; without regular and consistent stimulation, upper body muscles atrophy and lose tone and shape.

The key is to follow a balanced program for your upper body resistance, and to make sure that each targeted muscle reaches “temporary muscular failure” (the inability to do one more repetition) by 15 repetitions, at the maximum.  A two set routine gives a person 85% of the strength they could receive from any multi-set routine, so doing two sets for each body part provides plenty of stimulation to encourage the growth of new muscular tissue, as well as forcing the bone to gain density.

Since after the age of 50, the overall process of muscular and skeletal atrophy increases dramatically, it is imperative that the over 50 population includes weight training as part of their weekly routine. Fortunately, it’s never too late to begin a weight training regime! Research shows that even people in their 80’s can fortify their muscles through regular weight training!

If you are looking for a simple and easy to follow, 15- minute upper body routine, come to Shane Diet Resorts and tell one of our Professional Trainers.  They will prepare a personalized strength training routine tailored to your individualized needs.  Our Fitness Instructors are trained to take into consideration any physical limitations you may have and create alternative exercises for you.  Either way, try to incorporate some upper body stimulation in your weekly routine to maintain muscle strength and shape throughout your life!

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Winter Fitness Tips: Cardio Exercise in Cold Weather

October 8, 2012 By: afeldman 81 Comments

So you have committed yourself to a fitness program to continue your weight loss and have been following it steadily for the past couple of months. You have discovered a passion for running and want to keep your fitness levels up during the cold winter months that are now upon us. It is important to know how cold weather will affect our bodies from an exercise standpoint and also, how to stay safe while exercising outside in the winter. Below are some tips and suggestions that will allow you to stay outside for your morning runs and walks.

 

Our bodies in the cold

In an ideal exercise environment, our bodies heat up from physical activity and sweat will cool us off. Cold weather is different. We are more susceptible to suffering cold related injuries than we are to the overheating dangers in other climates. Since the air we are inhaling is much colder than the temperature of our bodies, it can also become very hard to breathe. With cold air, our body goes through a process to warm all oxygen to an acceptable temperature before it can be used by our muscles and organs. Also, the body will limit blood flow to the fingers and toes in order to keep the muscles and organs warm. If precautions are not taken, heat is lost very rapidly, especially from the head.

Dress appropriately (30-40% heat loss from head)

Since we are exercising in the cold, we need to dress appropriately. Important areas to cover from the cold are the hands, feet, ears, head and neck. Also protect your eyes and face if it is really cold outside. Wear socks that will keep you warm or even double up on pairs. Any layers of clothing that you wear should not be movement restricting, like a large winter coat or big fluffy pants. Layer up if you need to but make sure that you are wearing exercise friendly clothing. Shop for clothes with listed features listed like “breathable” or “dry-fit”. Make sure to dress warm, but remember that your body is still creating heat by exercising. If you overdress, or fail to wear breathable clothing during intense exercise, then you are at risk for overheating, even in the cold.

Warm-up first

Before going outside to run or jog, it is best to warm up inside. This means doing some light calisthenics (jumping jacks, walking/jogging in place or going up and down stairs) for 5-10 minutes to turn on your body’s natural heating system. If you are already warmed up when going outside, then it is a much easier transition to exercise in the cold.

Exercising in the snow or on ice

Be very careful in the winter extremes of snowiness and ice. Try to find a trail or a spot that has been plowed and salted. If you choose to walk/jog in snow, then go through special efforts to protect the legs and feet. This may mean wearing special boots to prevent frostbite. Also, look out for black ice as this will easy blend in with the sidewalks and roads and then sneak up on you. The last thing that anyone wants is an injury.

If it is too much, then stay inside

If the snow, ice and cold temperatures become too overwhelming, then stay inside. There are endless pieces of cardio equipment in the gym for days that you can’t go outside. You can even get creative and do some things in your house. Maybe try some interval training on the treadmill to keep it interesting.

Final precautions to take

Drink plenty of water. Many people make the mistake of not drinking enough fluids while working out in the winter. Your body needs to stay hydrated just like any other scenario. Also, you may need to use lip balm and/or lotions on any skin exposed to the wind in order to prevent skin irritations from the cold and dry air. It is possible to continue an exercise routine outdoors in the winter as long as the proper precautions are taken.

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Exercise Tips for Busy Schedules

September 28, 2012 By: afeldman 6 Comments

 

Not enough time to exercise is the number one excuse that we make for ourselves to get out of taking care of our bodies. How can we fit an exercise session into a busy schedule? Here are some tips:

1.Organize your time

If you don’t have a planner, then buy one or download one on your phone. If your schedule is jam packed with activities, start recording them as a doctor or CEO would to schedule appointments. This will allow you to see exactly how you spend your time. If you spend an hour studying or cleaning the house, throw that on this schedule. Try to structure your schedule so all tasks become clustered into one area of the day. For example if you go to class in the morning, try to fit your studying and chores in right after class to give you a larger free time window after. Next, schedule exercise into free time windows, even if they are smaller 10 minute time windows throughout the day.

2. Take advantage of unexpected downtime

If you have a cancelled class or an appointment becomes rescheduled, take advantage of this time to fit an exercise session in. This may mean using the time to get ahead on work so you can exercise later or dropping what you are doing to exercise and then returning later.

3. Limit your lazy time

Set a limit on the amount of time that you are sitting around watching television, playing on facebook or playing words with friends. If you have time to do those things, then you have time to exercise. Put a little sign on the inside of your laptop under the screen that asks you if you exercised yet today. Put an hourly reminder on your phone that lights up and asks the same thing.

4. Have equipment and space easily accessible for down time

If you are operating on limited amounts of time then you need to move quick. This means having everything that you need to exercise ready to go. Have multiple gym bags; one in your car, one in the office and one in your room. This way, when you have a half hour for lunch or before you have to pick up the kids, you can change quickly to get your workout in.

5. Multi-task

Do you have to watch the kids for the day? Then exercise while they are watching tv for a half hour or while they are doing chores. Go outside and play basketball with them or go to the park. Take them for a walk around the neighborhood. Do you have a dog that needs walked? Take him for a jog or a longer walk. Do you have to walk to your next class? Take the long way, use the stairs and do an extra lap around campus. Do you have to do chores? Move fast to turn it into activity.

6. Wake-up earlier and exercise first

Exercise before you start anything else for the day. That way it is done and there is no excuse of missing it as the day gets closer to an end. Set your alarm clock that much earlier, put your clothing out and have a plan- meeting a friend for a walk or jog is a great way to prevent you from just hitting the snooze button.

7. Choose your priorities

What is important to you? List all of the activities or responsibilities that you have over the course of the week. Number them in order of importance. Where does exercise fit into this? Does it score high or low? Theoretically, exercise should take precedence over anything that it scored higher then. Exercise involves taking care of yourself and if that does not fit high on the priority list, then it will be harder to schedule in. If it does score high on the priority list, which it should, then you need to make time for it. That means getting rid of other things so you can fit exercise in. If you are a student, this may mean registering a lower credit load at school or turning down some extra hours at work; at the end of the day, what is more important than health?

How can you restructure your day to MAKE time for exercise?

 

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New Year’s Resolutions: How to stick to your fitness goals

December 28, 2011 By: office 2 Comments

Each year, I witness the same thing at the gyms; and influx of people signing up for memberships during the month of January and February. These individuals are armed with their New Year’s Resolutions and ready to workout.  They go nice and strong for about a month or two and then suddenly they start to drop off.  I know people who pay for a gym membership but only use it 4 times a year! Why does this occur? These people have all the right intentions, but they don’t have concrete goals.

This January, Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts is running a New Year’s session just in time to help with those fitness and weight goals. With all the latest in fitness classes, nutrition education and cooking classes and behavior change group coaching, we are the perfect way to kick start your new healthy lifestyle.  If you are not able to join us in the New Year, I have put together a short list that will hopefully not only help you set your goals, but also help you stick to them.

Short and long term goals- You may want to lose 50 pounds, but we have to look at the smaller, more attainable number first.  Set smaller goals, say 5 or 10 pounds to start, and each time you achieve it you will feel much more rewarded as you will be achieving your goals right from the start.

Non-weight loss goals- Setting goals that are easily achieved will help keep you motivated and happy. Try something that you have never done before, Zumba, Yoga or maybe Kick boxing. Make the goal not only to try a class, but put a time frame on it to try a class by the end of the month… and then keep going!

Make your goals more specific- Instead of “take a yoga class,” try “take yoga by January 5th.” Instead of “do some strength training,” try “hire personal trainer for three sessions to teach me strength training.”  The more specific you are about the goal, the more likely you are to do it and the easier it is to track your results.

Some is better than none- Are you the type of person who is of “All or Nothing” attitude?  This is a great time to try and alter that way of thinking. Everyone has an off day.  Even if you can only get to the gym to squeak out a simple 2 mile run or a ½ on the elliptical, it’s better than doing nothing at all. Just pick up your routine tomorrow, without punishing yourself.

Tell everyone- Do you have a hard time holding yourself accountable?  When you set your fitness goals, tell your friends and family.  Social media such as Facebook is a great way to announce what your goals are and your friends will be there to cheer you on. Maybe you can inspire your friends and acquire a workout buddy!

Make an appointment- write your exercise time into your calendar on your phone or computer, and DON’T double book the appointment. This is your time to get healthy and fit!

Reward yourself- Don’t punish yourself for goals you didn’t achieve, rather reward yourself for the goals you DID achieve.  Be careful here, don’t reward yourself with food! Look towards your long term goals for reward ideas such as a new clothing for the new wardrobe you will have to buy after you lose the 50 pounds, or a manicure/pedicure to relax your tired feet from all the running on the treadmill you have been doing.

Try to be as organized as you can when planning you fitness schedule and don’t feel funny about asking a trainer at your local gym for help. The more knowledge your have, the more armed for success you are.  Happy New Year!

 

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High Intensity Fitness Tips to Bust through Plateaus

November 11, 2011 By: afeldman 3 Comments

Recently, one of my former clients from Ohio got in touch with me to inform me of her progress in the weight room.  She asked an interesting question that I would like to address in order to help others with their weight loss efforts.

Fitness Tips

If you feel like you've reached a plateau in your fitness plan, it's time to mix up your routine.

Since she has recently hit a plateau in her training, she asked me for some tips to turn her routine from boring to intense.  Once you start a workout plan, whether it is something you read in a magazine or something that was designed for you, it is very important that it becomes harder as you get in better shape.  The goal of any program is to make progress, in whatever form it comes.  So, once you see progress, your body is adapting to the demands of your workout and you must make adjustments to accommodate greater intensity.  If your body is no longer adapting to physical demands, the progress will stop. Examples of challenging your body during a workout include adding weight to an exercise, changing the movement, adjusting speed, etc.

I would like to share some personal techniques that raise the intensity and force you out of your comfort zone.  If you recently started an exercise program, stick to weight increases during strength movements and speed/resistance increases during cardio exercise.  The tips below are for the intermediate to advanced exerciser that has been at it for at least 4-6 months with a higher level of knowledge on how to perform weight room exercises safely and correctly.

1. Drop sets – Instead of religiously sticking to the three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions, throw in a week or two of drop sets.  A drop set is a workout set done normally, followed by you adjusting the weight to a lower setting.  Without resting, immediately go into a second set at the lighter weight (10 to 30% lighter).  For example, after you finish a set of dumbbell bench presses with 25 pound weights, grab the 15s or 20s immediately after and keep going.  You can also do a triple or a quadruple drop set if you’re really feeling strong.  If done correctly, this will greatly fatigue your muscles after just one set.

2. Interval Supersets – These are a good way to break up the monotony of a generic cardio routine that has you on a machine for 20-30 minutes.  A superset is a combination of two exercises that are done back to back without rest.  For this one, pick two total body movements; one of them being high intensity, while the other is low intensity.  For four to ten minutes, alternate between the two exercises.  You will need to come prepared with a watch or stopwatch.

For my example, jumping jacks will be my high intensity exercise and alternating high knees will be my low intensity exercise.  Perform 1 minute of fast moving jumping jacks followed by alternating knee lifts for a minute in which you allow your heart rate to go back down.  Each minute, switch back and forth between exercises.  Sandwiching 10-20 minutes of these intervals in the middle of 10 minutes on a bike or treadmill will make for a high intensity cardio workout.  Some other examples of high intensity movements include jump squats, quick jumping rope, mountain climbers, burpees and step-ups done on a platform at a quick pace.  Some examples of low intensity movements include the modified jack, alternating punches in place, slow jogging in place or step-ups at a much slower pace.

Interval Running

Try doing interval sprints on a track or treadmill for a short and sweet workout.

3. Track sprints – This is a good way to make cardio exercise short and sweet.  An ideal track for these is one that is sized 1/8 to 1/10 of a mile, but this can also be done on a larger track or a treadmill if needed.  Start by walking a lap and follow that with a lap running as fast as you can.  Repeat this 6-12 times.  On a larger track, such as the quarter mile tracks at most high schools, walk half of a lap and run half of a lap.  When doing this on the treadmill, walk for two minutes then run at a fast pace for two minutes.  When running, your goal is to sprint at a nice fast pace.  For advanced exercisers, try jogging instead of walking.  For beginners, your sprinting pace may be a jog.  Start out at the pace that feels challenging, but not impossible, and continue to work your way up to build stamina, endurance, and strength.

4. Time under Tension – This is an interesting exercise for people who are becoming bored with their resistance training program and are looking for something different.  Time under tension is a routine in which you take an exercise and slow it down greatly so that one repetition takes 20 seconds to complete.  For my example, we will use a chest press machine.  While pressing the weight up, count 10 seconds in your head and slow the movement down so that it takes you the full 10 seconds to extend your arms.  Repeat the counting as you lower the weight back down.  Try this for 4-6 repetitions.  Your weight should be between 40-50 percent of what you would normally do.  This can be done on just about any exercise including leg presses, squats, curls, rowing machine and etc.  If done correctly your muscles will be burning quite a bit at the conclusion of your workout.

5. Isometrics – Another way to change up a workout that has become monotonous is by incorporating isometrics.  An isometric exercise is one in which you hold resistance at a certain position without movement.  For my example, we will use the dumbbell side raise (an exercise in which you hold dumbbells in both hands and lift them out to the side, elbows slightly bent).  In the isometric version of this exercise, you raise your dumbbells to the side, and hold them there.  Pick a weight that is between 50-60 percent of a weight that you would use normally.  The goal is to hold those dumbbells up so your arms are parallel with the ground for 30-60 seconds.  These can also be done with squats (the bottom part of the motion), pushups or chest press machine (the bottom part of the motion) and crunches (the top part of the motion).  If you start shaking towards the end of a set, then congratulations, you are doing it correctly.

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Fitness Tips: Stay Injury Free by Avoiding these Strength Training Habits

October 13, 2011 By: afeldman 4 Comments

Walk into a gym and 50 percent of the people in there are doing something destructive to their joints at any given time.  No one ever realizes when they are exercising incorrectly because they’ve been doing it that way so long that the movement just feels right to them.  I have picked some of the most common things I see done in the gym that are bad for your body.  All of these problems can be corrected with a little mental focus and developing an objective eye.  Pay close attention to your exercise movements and try to catch yourself doing some of these the next time you work out.  It’s best to get out of these bad habits sooner rather than later.

Fitness Fix: Don't Pull Weights Behind the Head

When pulling a bar or weight to chin level, always do it in front of the head, not behind.

Behind the Neck Exercises
The two exercises that people will do behind the head are shoulder presses and lat pulldowns.  The shoulder press is the exercise that involves a participant pushing a weight up overhead.  The lat pulldown is the opposite motion that has a participant pulling a bar or cable down from overhead.  Lowering the weight or bar in both of these exercises can either be done to the front of the shoulders or behind the neck.  Behind the neck movements place the arms into an unnatural position.  The shoulder is already an unstable joint and when it is raised over head, many muscles are at work trying to stabilize it.  When adding in the extra weight and movement involved in a behind the neck exercise, a large amount of pressure is placed upon the rotator cuff muscles as well as an excessive stretch on the pectoral (chest) muscles.  The neck is also under pressure from leaning forward too far.  If either of these exercises is done long enough, you are more than likely to see an injury.   When lowering anything to chin level in an exercise, lower the weights or bar in front of the head, not behind.

Lifting with the Neck During Abdominal Crunches
The majority of beginning exercisers make this mistake.  If you are feeling neck pain while doing crunches, then you are guilty of this.  It usually happens when your hands are pulling up on the back of your head or your neck is being used more than it should be during crunches or situps.  The excessive strain of the neck from doing abdominal exercises the wrong way can make the neck muscles stiff, leaving them prone to injury during exercise or even later in the day.  To fix the problem of lifting with your neck, find a focal point to look at to minimize head movement while doing abdominal exercises.  Focus on lifting the shoulders and upper back off the ground instead of leading with the head.  Try crossing the arms in front of your chest and feel your stomach periodically to make sure it is contracting as you lift yourself up.

Fitness Fix: Don't Let Your Knees Go Forward When Squatting

To avoid injury when squatting, make sure your knees don't go in front of your toes. It should be a motion similar to sitting in a chair.

Allowing the Knees to go Forward During the Squat Exercise
I see exercisers that have been working out for years still doing this one.  When doing a squat the wrong way, the knees will move forward excessively towards the bottom of the motion.  This will leave the knees far in front of the toes which should not happen.  When done right, the motion should be the same as going from a seated to standing position.  This means that as you lower your body, the hips are pushed back allowing the knees to stay fairly stationary behind the feet.  However, when knees lead the way into leaning forward, there is a large amount of pressure on the knee joint.  It may take time to catch up to you but most people will feel this pain immediately while doing squats.  If this pain goes ignored long enough, it can turn into a serious injury.  The bottom line is that when doing a squat, push the hips back nice and far.  Stand in front of a chair or by a wall if you need something to hold onto for balance.  It may be more comfortable for some to spread the feet out.  Have someone watch your knees while you squat to tell you if they are going in front of your feet.

Rounding of the Back
Moms always tell their kids to sit up straight, not to slouch.  The same holds true in exercise.  Slouching in general is a bad habit.  Slouching when handling weights, however, is just plain dangerous.  If you’re rounding your back forward, the lower spine and surrounding muscles are under a lot of pressure.  Some cues to get out of this habit are keeping your chest up, shoulders back and chin from being buried into the chest.  This applies for exercises who are pressing, rowing, squatting, or even running.

Moving the Head Around while Exercising
Another common cause of injury during exercise is unnecessary movement, especially of the head.  When using weights or your body as resistance, keep your head still.  It is very easy to strain the neck with a quick movement, especially during exercise.  Going back to my recommendation for abdominal crunches, find a focal point during exercises and continue to look at it.  This goes for runners too.  I know it’s hard to stay still on the elliptical or treadmill, but all it takes is one movement while your head is turned to take a spill.

Fitness Fix: Always Adjust the Equipment

Avoid injury at the gym by adjusting the equipment for yourself. For example, on a chest press machine, the handles should be level with your chest.

Not Adjusting the User Settings on a Piece of Equipment
Since everyone in the world is not the same height, weight or body type, exercise equipment comes with multiple adjustments.  These include adjustments of a seat, adjustment of the handles or an adjustable foot step.  These adjustments are there for a reason.  Use them to set the machine at a level appropriate for your height and body type.  Most gyms have a staff member that can help you find the appropriate setting if needed.  If a seat is too low or too high, your body is not going through the motion intended for the designated machine.  Depending on the setting, you may be putting yourself at risk for injury.  For example, with a chest press machine, the handles should be level with your chest.  If the handles are level with the navel, then the seat is too high.

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Fitness & Weight Loss Tips: Staying Fit on the Road

September 28, 2011 By: afeldman 4 Comments

Whether traveling for work, school or pleasure, it is very easy to ditch healthy lifestyle habits when on the road.  It is acceptable to take a break from exercise and diet every once in a while, however, regular gaps in exercise and nutrition can catch up to you.  Being away from home is not a valid excuse to ditch the routine.  In this article I will share some tips to continue your healthy lifestyle, even on the road.

Fitness Tip: Book a Hotel with a Gym

To maintain your healthy lifestyle fitness routine, book a hotel that has a gym.

Book a hotel with a gym – This one may be obvious to some, but a hotel with a gym is not always easy to find.  If you know that you have to travel somewhere, get online and do a little research.  There are numerous hotel-booking websites that tell you about the amenities that a hotel offers.  The best bet is to get onto a hotel’s website and check out the property features.  If you can’t find a hotel with a gym, call the hotel and ask if there are any fitness centers nearby.  Many fitness centers will offer a day pass for out of town visitors or potential members checking out the facility.

Bring exercise bands - Exercise bands are an excellent way to exercise while on the road.  I stayed in shape during a 14 week backpacking trip by using exercise bands alone.  These can be purchased at any sporting goods store or online for $10 to $20.  They come in a variety of resistance levels for beginner and intermediate exercisers.  These lightweight and portable pieces of exercise equipment can be taken anywhere and used anytime.

Plan Quick Exercises for your Trip

To stay on track with your fitness routine, plan out exercises for your trip that require minimal equipment.

Bring a list of exercises and a plan for each day you are away - If you have a trainer, ask them to list out things you can do while you are away.  If you exercise on your own, make a list of things you can do with minimal equipment and plan out your routine.  Activities on the list can include exercises such as pushups, outside nature walks or swimming laps in a hotel pool.

Plan 3-5 short workouts that you can fit in between various appointments or activities - One of the conflicts of traveling for work is that there is not much time to exercise.  Plan ten minute workouts that you can do periodically throughout the day.  While doing this will not have the same effect as a normal workout, it will still have benefits and keep you active.  A good example is taking the half hour that you have between meetings and squeezing in a ten minute calisthenics routine followed by a quick shower.  Ten minutes can also be spent jogging or walking.

Have workout clothes handy – When packing your clothes, pack at least one set of workout clothes.  When down time does arise, you won’t be able to say that you didn’t bring workout clothes.

Eat a Healthy Restaurant Meal

While on the road, research nearby restaurants that offer healthy meal options.

Research healthy eating places in proximity of the hotel while you are there or ask for healthy eating options off the menu – While researching gym options and hotel amenities, be sure to look at food menus.  Most hotels with a dining area have healthy eating options.  If not available, look into nearby restaurants or grocery stores.  If you can’t find a place that serves healthy food, go shopping for some.  If that is not an option, try to bring a couple healthy snacks from home.  You may not be able to follow a perfectly healthy diet while you are away, but that is no reason to overindulge on the junk food.

If no gym is available, find a good place around the hotel to exercise – There may be an empty field nearby in which you can do total body exercises or some good trails for walking and running.  It is always rejuvenating to find a nice scenic area to do exercises like yoga and pilates.  If there is a beach nearby, that is a perfect place for cardiovascular exercise as well.  One of my favorite things about traveling is being able to explore the area by going out for a nice jog or bike ride.

If a pool is too small for lap swimming, try water running – If you are not familiar with water running, there are many videos online demonstrating it.  Water running is just as it sounds- the art of running in the water.  This can be done in two ways; in a pool where you are touching the ground or in deeper water.  In shallow water, you can run stationary or run from one side of the pool to another.  In deeper water, you will be doing more of a water treading motion, but it is still the same concept.

When leaving home, do not let something like a business trip or a lengthy vacation be a reason for you to regress on healthy living.  A break is okay every now and then, but don’t let workout skipping become a habit.

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