Winter Fitness Tips: Cardio Exercise in Cold Weather

October 8, 2012 By: afeldman 76 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 4 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 1 Comment

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 2 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 3 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 3 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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Obesity and Reducing the Risk of Diabetes

September 21, 2011 By: office 4 Comments

As obesity trends continue to rise, so does the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The risk can be greatly reduced by making healthy lifestyle choices, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Jennifer Corbett Dorren.

Adults, middle-aged and up, can cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 80 percent by adhering to a combination of five healthy lifestyle habits, according to a new analysis.

The new analysis comes from The National Institutes of Health, which examined the individual factors that can lower the risk of developing diabetes and other diseases – healthy diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, and consuming alcohol moderately.

Link Between Healthy Lifestyle and Diabetes

Healthy lifestyle factors which may decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes include healthy eating, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption.

The analysis shows that keeping just one of these five healthy lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. More than 200,000 people who participated in the study were between ages 50 and 71 when the study began in 1995. At the study’s start, participants had no signs of heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

Study participants filled out detailed questionnaires about what kinds of foods they ate, whether they consumed alcohol, and if they were current or former smokers. Other questions asked how much the participants exercised and their weight and height so that body mass index could be calculated. Study participants were followed for about 11 years. During that time, about 10 percent of men in the study and 8 percent of women developed diabetes.

Researchers grouped participants into lifestyle categories ranging from “best” to “worst.” People in the best category had all five healthy lifestyle factors, while those in the worst had none. For diet, participants received a score of one to five based on fruit and vegetable consumption, the amount of and type of fat they ate and other factors. Those who scored in the top 40 percent were considered to have a healthy diet. Exercising three times a week for at least 20 minutes and being a nonsmoker for at least 10 years were two additional healthy lifestyle factors. Alcohol consumption of no more than one drink a day for women and two for men was considered as another factor, along with weight. People with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 – a body mass considered normal – were counted as being in the lowest-risk category for weight.

According to the researcher in charge of the analysis, Dr. Jared Reis, the average study participant had two out of the five healthy lifestyle factors. Researchers found body mass index to have the strongest association to diabetes risk, when compared with the other factors. When looking at body mass index in isolation, men of normal weight were 70 percent less likely to develop diabetes than overweight or obese men, while normal weight women were 78 percent less likely to develop diabetes.

Researchers also found that men and women whose diet and exercise were both considered in the healthy range were just under 30 percent less likely to develop diabetes. When being a nonsmoker was added to diet and exercise, those people were about one-third less likely to develop the disease.

Men who consumed alcohol moderately, in addition to the previous three factors, were 39 percent less likely to develop diabetes while women had 57 percent lower odds. When body mass index was added to the other healthy lifestyle factors, men were 72 percent less likely to develop diabetes, while women had an 84 percent lower risk.

Despite all of these findings, Dr. Reis added that even overweight people can lower their odds of developing diabetes if they adopt just one other healthy lifestyle habit such as exercising three times a week for at least 20 minutes each day.

These studies reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle. At Shane Diet Resorts weight loss camp for adults, healthy diet and physical activity are just two of the healthy lifestyle factors that guests experience daily and will in turn, impact body mass index. Not only will a healthy weight and lifestyle lower the risk for diabetes, but for other health risks as well.

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Proper Planning: The Most Important Part of an Exercise Program

September 16, 2011 By: afeldman 6 Comments

When any big changes are instituted in business, academics or medical procedures, the first thing that happens is the creation of a plan.  Planning is the most important part of any process because without it, everything is on a whim.  The same goes for anything fitness related.  Sure, there are many who go to the gym and do any routine that comes to mind, but if you want to make serious and significant progress toward a goal, planning is necessary.

In fitness, we start our planning process off with goal setting.  Once a realistic goal is decided upon, planning is the next step.  One of the most important things to keep in mind is to keep things realistic.  You cannot set weight loss goals with expectations such as losing 100 pounds in a month or developing “6 pack abs” in two weeks.  As long as you are realistic when making a plan and setting your goal, then there is no reason not to reach it

Weight Loss Goal Setting

When setting weight loss goals for yourself, it is important to be realistic and focus on both the short-term and long-term goals.

When setting a goal, there should be a grand picture of where you want to go and a smaller sub-goal that you can modify or change from week to week.  The main goal should focus on where you see yourself or how you want to feel in the grand scheme of things.  An example of a long term goal is going from a point of being afraid of the water to being able to swim in a triathlon.  All short term goals would then gradually work a person up to learning how to swim correctly.

The idea of a short term goal or a sub-goal is to push you closer to that larger goal.  The large goal can be anything that you want it to be while the smaller goals are easily manageable and integrated into your daily life.  Small goals are changes that are just engaging enough not to throw your entire week out of whack, but still push you towards something.

The mistake that people commonly make is to get overzealous when goal setting.  An unrealistic goal, like one of the ones I mentioned above, is commonly set and when it is not reached, it has disastrous effects on self-confidence.  Below, I will list a couple examples of goals, as well as the right and wrong ways to reach them.

Example Goal 1: I want to lose 100 pounds, which will put me at a healthy body weight.

The Wrong Way: When planning out this goal, most people make the mistake of adding in a timeline.  When a timeline is added, there is added pressure to reach the goal.  One of two things will happen with the timeline: either you will give up after not seeing the progress you hoped for, or you will feel so rushed to lose weight that you will engage in unhealthy practices to meet a deadline.  The latter will usually result in your regaining any lost weight, plus some extra.

The Right Way: The longer a person has been 100 pounds overweight, the longer it will take to lose it in a healthy manner.  Keeping with the big goal/little goal technique from above, the 100 pound weight loss is the grand goal.  As for small weekly goals, start off smaller and once you get a feel for the water, you can start adding things in.  For example, the week one goal could be making it into the gym three times.  Week two could be limiting bad meals to only one per day.  Week three could be eliminating soda every other day and week four could be making it to the gym five times.  The goals will be different for everyone but it is most important to set goals that you are able to achieve.  As you can tell, each small goal will move this participant closer to the 100 pound weight loss.  They may not necessarily be losing weight every week at first but if they keep setting and reaching weekly goals, this person will get to a point where they are shredding through fat like wild fire, as well as achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Example Goal 2: I want to run a Marathon.

Goal Setting - Marathon Training

When training for a marathon, or a similar fitness goal, it is important to gradually train to avoid injury to your body.

The Wrong Way: When setting a performance goal such as this one, most people jump in and try to do everything at one time. At the program’s start, this usually includes running every single day without regards to nutrition. By the time week three or week four roll around, joints start aching pretty badly and the runner becomes restless and very irritable. By the time two months has passed, the body has had enough and the exercise program simply stops.

The Right Way: Since the marathon is our long term goal here, smaller goals contributing to the long term goal should be in place.  More experienced runners can sign up for a marathon that is 6-9 months away while beginners should figure on a year or more.  Some smaller goals can relate to mileage (increasing from five total miles for the week to eight total miles), nutrition (incorporating higher water intake during runs), or exercise in general (stretching for 60 total minutes for the week).  The main thing to remember with running goals is not to increase distance too fast.  When mileage goes up too quickly, that is when injuries happen.

The Final Note

After reading this article, think about some of the goals you have reached or failed to reach.  Did you set a long term goal along with smaller goals to get you there?  Did these goals change?  Did you give up on your goals?  Use this opportunity to reevaluate some of the goals you are trying to reach and incorporate proper planning to get there.  Remember, your long term goal has no expiration date until you assign it one.  Keep your eyes on that long term goal and manipulate short term goals to get you there.  At Shane Diet Resorts fitness retreat program for adults, we teach clients how to incorporate fitness, nutrition and long term weight management into their daily living by using proper planning and goal setting.

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Fitness Tips: Exercising on an Empty Stomach

August 23, 2011 By: office 1 Comment

Hitting the gym before you eat may seem like conventional wisdom, but should you try to deliberately go to the gym on an empty stomach in order to burn more fat?

The idea, advocated in popular fitness books for decades, is that exercising on an empty stomach forces the body to dip into fat stores instead of burning the carbohydrates quickly available from a pre-workout snack or meal. Seems to make sense, doesn’t it? In actuality, research shows that working out in this way offers no additional bodily benefit, and may actually stunt your workout and affect your weight loss efforts.

Exercising on an Empty Stomach

It is more beneficial to your body to eat a pre-workout snack than to go on an empty stomach.

After years of studying and research, a report from the Strength and Conditioning Journal concluded that you burn the same amount of fat regardless of any pre-workout carbohydrates. On the contrary, you are likely to lose muscle by exercising in a depleted state. Also, without fuel to exercise, intensity and overall calories burned will be reduced.

When working out on an empty stomach, up to 10 percent of your calories burned can come from protein. This includes muscle loss. Also, separate studies show that if you consume as little as 45 grams of carbohydrates prior to working out, you will consume later throughout the day. This can lead to over-eating, which can contribute to weight gain. Consuming a little bit before working out instead of trying to work out on an empty stomach seems to be a win-win situation!

If you want to burn more fat and less carbohydrates, try changing up what you do in the gym instead of when you eat. Doing a cardio workout for a longer time at a lower intensity burns more fat. Working out at a high intensity for a short amount of time will burn more carbohydrates. Try ditching the sprints for a long, slow jog in order to shed some pounds. Just remember not to be too low on energy, or your weight loss workout will suffer overall.

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Stop Looking at the Scale, Part 2: Other ways to Tell if you are Progressing

August 13, 2011 By: afeldman 2 Comments

In my last article, I explained why looking at the scale constantly is not a true indicator of weight room and weight loss progress and also, how to properly weigh yourself. In this article I will go further and explain some other ways in which you can measure progress in exercise. The good thing about these is that if one measurement seems to plateau, there are several others which may be improving. This means that just because one part of your  fitness program isn’t excelling as quickly, does not mean that the whole machine is broke. Listed below are a variety of things to measure when looking at fitness progress as a whole.

How much weight you are using

It is very important to keep records of the weights you use during exercise. Not only will writing help you remember what weight to use, it will also push you to increase those weights. To measure progress with a weight room journal,  record weight room numbers (weight used, repetitions done and sets of each exercise) and once some time has passed, look back to past workouts and compare the numbers on various exercises from past to present. You will immediately be able to tell if you have gotten stronger and on which exercises.

How quickly you are moving

Running

Test yourself to see how quickly you can move during cardio exercise.

This refers to how quickly you move while doing cardio vascular exercises. This can be assessed by looking at distances covered on each piece of equipment you use or from how far you go outside. To measure progress, give yourself a 1 Mile test every 2 weeks. In a 1 mile test, you walk/run a mile as quickly as possible taking minimal breaks. The idea is to compare how long your mile takes with how long it took before. This mile test should be done at the beginning of a workout when you are fresh. It can be done on a track, treadmill, elliptical or even a bike. If you are training for longer distance exercise, then the 1 mile test can be turned into a 2 mile test or a 3 mile test.

How much energy you have in the tank

When first starting an exercise program, most people lack the energy to cruise through an exercise session. Pay close attention to how you feel after various activities such as exercise and day to day stuff. As you move through an exercise program from week to week, progress will manifest it self in your energy levels. You will soon notice that walking up 3 flights of stairs with a book bag doesn’t get you out of breath as much as it used to or that running for 20 minutes no longer makes you feel sick afterwards. Increased energy levels both during exercise and during the day will show up sooner than some of the other indicators of progress.

How clothes fit

Even when scale numbers do not change, your body is changing. It may be building muscle at the same time as burning fat. Pants will start to feel loose if you are doing something right. This may take a while depending how quickly other things are progressing.

How much you like exercising

Most people that start exercising do so because they are trying to correct something with their physical status. Usually, when we have to work for something, the process is not as enjoyable as the outcome. Exercise is no exception. It is hard, time consuming and can take much discipline. However, if you stick with it long enough, it will become much more bearable. Pay attention to how you feel as you’re getting ready for each exercise session. Becoming more positive about physical activity is a huge indicator of progress.

How long your breaks are

How long of breaks do you take between sets of an exercise or between different exercises? Most general fitness exercisers wait until they catch their breath or until they feel physical ready. If you are exercising the right way, these breaks will get shorter as you get into better shape. What used to be a 1-2 minute break has now shortened itself to 30 seconds. If fatigue isn’t forcing you to take breaks anymore, then it is time to look at the first progress indicator I mentioned. In other words, increase your weights.

How sore you are the next day

Generally speaking, the start of an exercise program brings much muscular soreness the day after exercise. As we get into better shape this will taper off. Sure, even the most advanced exercisers get sore after workouts, but it is much more bearable than those first 2 weeks of exercise. Training for general fitness will see soreness taper off as individuals get into better shape. Compare how sore you are after the first day back from a break to how you feel 5 weeks into a program.

Incorporate all of these indicators of progress into how you assess your fitness levels from month to month. Just because a scale number isn’t constantly changing is not a reason to lose all hope. However, if progress isn’t indicated by any of the above, then it is time to reassess your fitness program.

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