What Exercise Fits You Best?

April 22, 2014 By: office Comments Off

By: Debbie Davis

“What exercise fits you best?” is a pretty straight forward question with an even more straight forward answer. It’s simply the kind of exercises that you like and are more likely to do! The bigger issue here is that our preferred exercise is usually not enough. Our guests at Shane Diet and Fitness Resorts tell us all the time, “I love Zumba but I hate cardio, weights etc.” Rarely do they incorporate strength training, stretching and cardio into what would be a more balanced, effective workout regime.

Personal_trainer_showing_a_client_how_to_exercise_the_right_way_and_educating_them_along_the_way

The exercise that fits you best is clearly the exercise you will do. If you enjoy it, you’re more inclined to do it with more consistency. But the key point to remember is to make sure you are including a balance of all exercises. You may never love stretching but it is imperative for overall performance that you stretch your muscles. You may never run a 10K, but cardio training is critical for your overall heart and lung health. Many won’t be entering Strong Man competitions, but strength training is critical for bone and muscle preservation, which additionally benefits your quality of life as you age.

So, by all means begin with the exercise you most enjoy doing, take that exercise and excel, practice, train and challenge yourself. Then take the forms of the exercise that are not your favorite and implement them into your routine in an effective way. If cardio is your thing and you perform cardio 5 days a week, consider taking that to 4 days a week and adding 2 days of strength training (one of which can be included on a cardio day). Another idea is possibly taking two days a week to perform a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout which has a cardio component as well as a strength training component. Stretching for better range of motion and flexibility should be included in your daily workout routine. As a personal trainer for over 15 years, I understand loving some forms of exercise and hating others. I would like to challenge you, though, to continue to excel at what you enjoy but to also consider taking your challenge one step further and adding what you’re not so comfortable with for better overall physical health. Your body will thank you!

Below is a link to a fun quiz that reveals your exercise personality type, it takes 1 minute. See how accurate it is for yourself and then post it on our Facebook page. Happy Fitness!

http://exercise.about.com/library/blfitnesspersonalityquiz.htm

13 Things I Learned At Weight Loss Camp

April 15, 2014 By: office Comments Off

By: Eugenia Correa, @eucorrea
Originally Published: April 11, 2014 on ‘Blog de BabyCenter’
(translation: Miranda Southwell)

A month ago I was invited to spend a week at a weight loss camp in San Antonio, Texas. Even though I don’t consider myself overweight, I will admit that since the birth of my baby, it’s been much more difficult for me to control my diet, do exercise and keep myself in shape. It was a hard week because it made me realize that I’m very far from my ideal physical condition. Additionally, my daily meal portions tended to be much larger than they ought to have been.

weight loss camp

A week in this resort was enough to make me see that I can improve, day-by-day and that daily habits are the ones that make a difference in your desire to lose weight. This experience granted me the tools for transformation that I needed to create substantial change in my daily life. While I was there, I lost a kilo (approx. 2.2 lbs.), and after one month at home, I lost two more by making simple changes to my routine. Here are some of the things that I learned during my stint in the program that have helped me keep the weight off:

  • You don’t have to wait until you become what you believe to be the worst version of yourself to join one of these programs. It’s a program of behavior modification that can help you far sooner.
  • Involving yourself in one of these programs is a decision rooted in self-love. No one can be obligated to go. It only works for those who are thoroughly convinced that they need a vital change to improve their lives.
  • It’s never too late to change your eating or fitness habits. Every day is a good day to start to work toward better health. It’s not just about losing weight, it’s also about changing your habits in ways that you can keep up with over time.
  • Doing exercise is a habit we can all acquire. In a weight loss program, you simply show yourself that it’s just a matter of taking that first step and discovering that exercise can be a fun habit, which also changes your energy levels and outlook on life for the better.
  • One of the most valuable tips that I learned is that you should stop drinking your calories! Sugary drinks are not your friend. There are lots of drinks disguised as “healthy” or “natural,” when in reality they’re anything but. There’s no healthier substitute out there for you than that clean, natural old staple…water.
  • There isn’t a better way to know what you’re really eating than by cooking it for yourself and choosing all your own ingredients. By avoiding processed products or fast food, you’re saving both yourself and your family, a boatload of calories and unnecessary toxins.
  • When exercise is a daily habit, your body starts craving healthier, lighter foods instead of greasy, heavy ones.
  • Cooking healthy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor! My favorite: a blueberry muffin recipe is one of many you can learn to make during your stay at Shane Diet & Fitness Resort, since healthy cooking classes are included in the program.
  • Eating slowly and enjoying each bite makes you feel full faster. Eating quickly is one of your enemies when trying to lose weight.
  • Upon arriving at Shane Diet & Fitness Resort, you quickly realize that you’re not alone. There are lots of other people who deal with many of the same battles you’re facing. Being able to discuss and listen to common experiences allows you to put your life (and your weight) into perspective.
  • In many cases, the way you feel in the clothes you wear has a direct impact on your self-esteem. In the Shane Diet & Fitness program, fashionable fitness accessories are provided to make you feel comfortable in your own skin.
  • The program at Shane Diet & Fitness Resort offers you a short, daily exercise program that you can complete in just a half-hour. This makes continuing the process at home much easier.
  • Temptations will always be around. They’re in the supermarket, on TV, at the movie theater and even in your own pantry. A behavior modification program gives you the tools you need to keep those temptations from overpowering you.

The program I went to is the Shane Diet & Fitness Resort. There, you’ll find programs for adults, children and entire families; although there are also many other weight loss camps out there to suit your own unique needs.

Making Waves in the Sea of Cyberspace!

April 8, 2014 By: office Comments Off

Check us out! Our Texas location has been revving things up south of the border and getting some fabulous mentions in several publications! Here are some links to a couple of the most recent for all our Spanish-Speaking friends! (but not to fear, mono-linguists, Google Translate provides easy translation)

Article on RunMX

Article on El Gourmet México

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.

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.

Proper Planning: The Most Important Part of an Exercise Program

September 16, 2011 By: afeldman 7 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.

Lap-Band Surgery: Is it as Good as Everyone Thinks?

June 18, 2011 By: afeldman 8 Comments

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery, or lap-band for short, was FDA approved in February to be used  by a wider range of patients. Before, patients had to have a BMI of 40 to have this procedure done and now, it can be as low as 30. BMI is a formula that calculates an individuals weight to height ratio and is expressed as Weight (kilograms)/ Height (cm)2. For someone that is 5 ’6 to have a bmi of 30, their weight would be 186 pounds.

When a patient gets the lap-band surgery, there is an inflatable silicone band placed around the upper stomach. The concept is that this band lessens the stomach stretching that normally takes place when food is eaten. With this stretching of the stomach minimized the feeling of being full takes place more quickly after eating smaller meals. The FDA only approved this surgery in 2000 so it is still relatively new.

While most studies have been favorable of weight loss with the lap-band, there is a new study that has been released showing some potential detriments. The study, which was conducted by a hospital group in Belgium, followed up with patients who had the surgery done between 1994 and 1997. Tests were done in 2009 that assessed surgical complications, post-surgery weight loss, overall satisfaction, quality of life and side effects. While surveys showed a 60% satisfaction rate, there are some other numbers that are troubling. It was said that about 40% of subjects experienced major complications from the surgery and an additional 22% experienced minor complications. That means that 2 out of every 3 subjects had surgical complications. At some point after the lap banding, almost half of the subjects had to have the band removed and 17% of the subjects ditched their lap-band to get gastric bypass. This data does not show us a positive outlook for weight loss surgery.

I realize that this is just one study. However with gastric banding recently getting the green light to be used on more patients, I think we will see more studies like this one popping up that show negative statistics. Even though it is true that many studies have good things to say about weight loss surgery, the problem is that many of the people conducting these studies are surgical groups or they are funded by surgical groups. Why would a surgical professional want to conduct a study that will go against the product they are trying to sell? When looking at studies, it is important to find unbiased sources. A study can sometimes be manipulated to express the beliefs that the experimenter has about what they are studying.

Another important thing to consider when looking at weight loss surgery is the fact that most people who get it probably don’t need it. The recent approval by the FDA states that a person with a BMI of 30 can undergo this surgery. From my experience, clients with a bmi of 30 are still fully functional which means that an exercise program supplemented by healthy eating and lifestyle should be the focus, not surgery. My fear is that next, they will lower that number even more which is sad because I do not think that weight loss surgery is necessary except for in extreme circumstances. These circumstances have to do with medical issues that prevent weight loss even with hard work.

The weight loss trend of late seems to be a flocking to these surgeries. False advertising leads to the belief that surgery is a fast and painless fix but that is not true. Even with a surgery, eating and nutrition habits have to change so why not see what happens by changing them without surgery? At Shane Diet Resorts weight loss camp for adults, we can give you a jump on a healthy lifestyle and at the same time, enjoying a fitness retreat.  We pride ourselves on working with individuals, such as yourself, to overcome your weight boundaries. We must remember that a little effort and discipline can go a long way. If people get lap-band surgery without correcting unhealthy eating and activity habits, the lap band can stretch out and stop doing what it is supposed to. When that happens, welcome to post surgery weight-loss relapse.

Weight Loss and Fitness Tips: Make Cardio Fun!

May 11, 2011 By: afeldman 8 Comments

If you are still working on your New Year’s fitness goals, then congratulations, you are in a minority. Many people give up weight loss resolutions by February and most go back to old habits by March. In previous articles, I have made recommendations for changing up the fitness routine and increasing exercise intensity. Now it’s time to think about the mental aspect of exercise.

If exercise is just boring and monotonous, then you are expending mental energy doing it. If you are not enjoying your exercise session, it is obviously harder to remain dedicated. A good rule of thumb for cardiovascular exercise is to incorporate enjoyable activities for at least one of your weekly sessions. It will help you avoid mental burn out and also give you a reason to look forward to getting up and moving around for an hour. Making cardio fun can mean trying different activities or even doing the same activities, but with a friend. Below are some ways to make your cardio-vascular sessions more enjoyable and more sustainable.

Sign up for a team – If you are in school, this is easy. There are usually intramural teams for just about every sport. If you don’t have friends that are interested, sign up as a free agent and be assigned to a team. For those who are not in a college atmosphere, community recreation centers also have leagues for basketball, soccer, football, volleyball and sometimes swimming. Don’t be intimidated to join because of being unfamiliar to a sport. Recreational facilities do a good job of running multiple leagues separated by athletic experience. Usually, there will be 1-2 days a week for games and however many practice sessions with the team. This is a great way to get the heart rate up and move the body without a structured exercise session.

Dance Class

Consider joining a dance class for a fun, effective weight loss workout.

Learn to dance – The popularity of dance classes has really risen in the past decade. With classes like Zumba and Cardio Hip-hop, exercise is very nicely incorporated into dancing. You can burn between 400-700 calories in an hour of dance exercise. If the fast paced classes aren’t for you, ballroom dancing is an alternative option. Many community centers and dance studios offer classes like ballroom dancing and ballet for all ages and backgrounds.

Learn to defend yourself – Another fun and popular form of cardio exercise that is found in many gyms is cardio kickboxing. Kickboxing allows you to burn a large amount of calories in a short period of time. You could even take it one step further and sign up for martial arts classes or karate. Many people have found martial arts to be a good release of negative energy as well as a great way to get fit.

Go out for scenic hikes – Grab a friend and hit the trails. If you are lucky enough to live near areas of nature or parks, take advantage of it. Block out an afternoon to go hiking in the hills. If you want to increase the challenge, pack a bag with some extra weight and throw it on your back.

Join a running club – Many groups will meet up during the week for outside runs. From those attempting their first 5k to seasoned marathon runners, most running clubs divide off based on experience level. You can inquire about running groups in your area on various meet-up websites, at the community recreation center or even the local running shoe store. When I say running shoe store, I mean a store that specializes in selling running shoes and gear, not a sporting goods store. If you can’t find a group in your town, then start your own with friends.

Get out the skates - Of course, it takes balance and coordination to successfully roller-skate, but once you develop those skills, skating can be a lot of fun. Skating can be done outside or at a skating rink. The skills from roller skating also carry over into ice skating. If you are teaching yourself how to skate or rollerblade, start off in an empty parking lot or on a slow side street. Slowly work up to skating in areas with hills and curvy pathways.

Commit to a goal – Make it a 5k, a swim for diabetes or a biking trip. If you have a specific goal to work towards, the light at the end of the tunnel is enough to keep you moving. The best thing to do is to sign up without thinking twice about it. After you are signed up for something, it is time to make a training plan. Find something at least 2-3 months away that is realistic to complete and sign up!

The bottom line is that not everyone enjoys going to a gym and spending a half hour on the same treadmill 6 days a week. If you are one of the few that looks forward to walking into the gym, then keep doing what you are doing. If you struggle to make it into the gym, try to find at least one activity that is enjoyable. Your chances of reaching your goals will be much better. Consider an adult weight loss program or fitness retreat, such as Shane Diet Resorts, which offers the vacation atmosphere combined with a healthy lifestyle. It’s a fun, effective way to lose weight!

Weight Loss Tips: 9 Strategies for Dealing with Nighttime Cravings

May 4, 2011 By: afeldman 6 Comments

When starting a healthy eating plan to lose weight, the morning is the easiest time to stay dedicated.  As the day progresses, various factors start to weigh in and ditching the diet becomes more likely.  Food cravings and binge eating occur most commonly between the time after work and before bed.  All it takes is one midnight feeding of junk food to ruin your progress from your morning workout.  Here are some of my favorite strategies to deal with these cravings and prevent them from getting the best of you.

Nighttime Hunger

Try out our tips to control your midnight snack cravings.

1. Occupy yourself – There is a reason that most weight loss diets fail at night.  That is when the majority of Americans get off of work and head home.  Once at home, there is not much to do outside of the television.  The commercial breaks are timed perfectly for you to grab food from the kitchen to munch on.  Hunger is not always the primary cause of eating in these situations.  Nighttime feedings can come from our boredom, which kicks in leaving food as a good distraction.  To fix this, find a hobby to engage in at home or don’t head home right after work to an empty house.  Hanging out with friends, going out for a walk, studying in the school library or playing with the dogs are good ways to take your mind off of the kitchen.

2. Store food out of sight – If food is constantly visible, it will also be on your mind.  If you’re not hungry and food is sitting there waiting for you, it becomes hard to resist picking it up.  Put all food away in cabinets so you do not have to constantly be reminded that it is there.  As they say, out of sight and out of mind.

3. Replace junk foods with low calorie foods - As a competitive bodybuilder, being on a strict diet is something that I have to do during various times of the year.  One of my strategies for dealing with times of hunger is replacing bad foods with low calorie foods.  Spinach is the perfect example.  If you have to eat something, at least make it healthy.  A whole bag of potato chips can have up to 1500 calories!  A whole bag of spinach usually doesn’t have more than 100.  Other low calorie foods to keep in mind include low calorie Jell-o or puffed rice.

4. Brush your teeth – People usually laugh when I mention this one.  Think about this: Have you ever tried to eat right after brushing your teeth?  The food doesn’t taste very good, does it?  If you feel cravings coming on, brush your teeth early.  Keep a toothbrush in the kitchen if you have to.

5. Hang up Posters – This can be a copy of your latest workout, a picture of a trainer/workout partner, a magazine cover or even an old picture of you.  The trick is to hang them up in all the places you would go to get food at night.  When seeing motivational cues, you are less likely to go crazy in the kitchen.

6. Calculate the Activity – Make it a rule to calculate the activity involved with nighttime food.  Figure a mile for every 70 calories or 7-10 minutes of hard exercise.  If you’re thinking of going through a couple cookies, it could take you 100 minutes to burn them off!  Calculations like this can take away some of the appeal of those feedings and remember, if you eat one cookie late at night, you’re more than likely to eat 2 followed by 3 and 4.

7. Ice and water – Trick your stomach by giving it something that is calorie free: water and ice.  I am notorious for sucking on ice.  It is a habit I picked up when I used to lifeguard.   By filling up on water or sucking on ice, you can trick your stomach into thinking it is full.

8. Re-evaluate the Meal Schedule – If you find yourself constantly hungry at night, look at the times that you are eating.  If your last meal or snack is 6 hours before bedtime, then some changes should be made.  The standard recommendation of 3 small meals and 2-3 small snacks in a day works perfectly. They just need to be spread out correctly for your personal healthy lifestyle.  It is good to eat every 3-4 hours (9:00am, 12:00pm, 3:00pm, 6:00pm and 9:00pm is one example).  By keeping blood sugar levels at a consistent level, cravings can be minimized.  This is done by spacing out meals and snacks equally.

9. Find a Support Group - There are support groups that meet for all kinds of addictions including overeating, under eating, alcoholism, etc.  If food cravings or binge eating has become a serious issue for you, a support group could help you greatly.  Look for ones that meet in your community; they are not hard to find. Or, consider joining a fitness retreat for adults, like Shane Diet Resorts, where we follow a philosophy of healthy eating and exercise for weight loss. We will help you to control your cravings and realize that you do not need to overeat to feel full!

Do you have any unique strategies for dealing with food cravings or a plan that you use to keep food portions at a reasonable size?  We would love to hear them!

Weight Loss, Fitness, and Binge Eating Q&A Session

April 13, 2011 By: afeldman 33 Comments

These come from a collection of fitness and weight loss-related questions that have been submitted to me through email.  Submit your questions to us through email or leave them as a comment and you may find them in the next article!

Q: I recently joined a gym as part of my New Year’s resolution.  How long until I can see results?

A: There is a three part process when it comes to the overall improvement that a fitness program brings.  The first thing that takes place is that during and outside of workouts, you will start to feel better or fit.  This means making it through your workout more easily (leading to you increasing the resistance of various exercises) and not getting out of breath as easily.  You will start to notice this after the first week of a continuous program.

As you progress through your routine from week to week, others will start to notice a change in your appearance.  It can be your face becoming slimmer or your friend noticing that your arms and neck look leaner.  This can take place between 3-6 weeks after the start of a regular exercise program with healthy eating.  Lastly, you will start to notice a difference in your physical appearance.  This is the one that takes the longest.  In weight loss programs, after 5-7 weeks, you’ll notice your clothes fitting loosely.  For general fitness training, you may start to see some new lines that signify muscle development.  One day, you will look in the mirror and it will hit you that you look and feel amazing.  For most, this will take 6-12 weeks.

Q: What is the best stomach workout for weight loss?

Ab Workout

There are a great variety of exercises to tighten those abdominal muscles and lose weight.

A: An abdominal workout does not necessarily equate to weight loss.  You can do 1,000 sit-ups a day and never lose a pound.  The best routine for weight loss in general, however, is to combine resistance training with a healthy diet and cardio training.  Abdominal work should be included, as well as the lower back and oblique areas since the core area is responsible for maintaining a healthy spine and helps keep you free of injuries.  To strengthen the abs, equipment is not needed; you can do ground exercises like crunches, leg raises, and sit-ups.  For more advanced exercisers, take advantage of the plank, bicycle crunches and hanging leg raises.  A goal of abdominal training should be to start with basic exercises like crunches and gradually incorporate more advanced exercises like a plank and v-ups.  All of these exercises can be made harder by adding resistance.

Q: Will one day of binge eating hurt me?

A: I call them cheat days.  One cheat day will not hurt, but there is a difference between having a cheat day and binge eating.  In a cheat day, you will pick one or two meals and indulge a little bit or have a few drinks.  If you jump right back into the routine the next day, this should not be a problem.  However, when people start binge eating, they just throw anything into their mouth and that becomes an issue as the calories will continuously add up.  If one day becomes two days and then three days, then we are running into some problems as you can add 2-3 pounds onto the scale if you’re consuming enough calories.  After enough days of binge eating or getting away from the exercise, your progress will quickly become undone.

Q: I’m a woman and don’t want to get bulky from working out. How can I incorporate weights into my routine?

Woman Working Out

A woman won't have to worry about becoming "bulky" with proper exercise technique.

A: Your fear of getting “bulky” just happens to be the number one concern of female gym goers across the country.  Fortunately though, it is also a misconception.  The muscular appearance that comes from training is impacted by three variables: 1.High volume resistance training; 2.The proper calorie intake; and 3.The right genetic make-up.  When these three variables are put together, you have the perfect formula for muscle building.

Addressing the high volume resistance training, this is a training program that specifically focuses on getting bigger and stronger, for lack of better terms.  When it comes to proper calorie intake, a calorie surplus is needed every week in addition to high volume training to continuously build muscle.  If you are eating a normal healthy diet that keeps you in your recommended calorie range for weight loss or general fitness, then this will not be a concern.

Lastly, and the most important, is genetic make-up.  Men and women do not have the same levels of hormones; there is a big difference when it comes to testosterone, estrogen and growth hormone levels.  In exercise, this means that the woman’s body will not respond to an exercise program in the same way that a male body does.  So, even if you decide to do an abundance of weight training and eat an abundance of calories, your body will still have a hard time getting “bulky.”

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