290413 A fat savvy guide-part 2

A fat savvy guide

You may be surprised that some of the foods you thought were good for you are loaded with fat. For instance, granola bars generally contain a great deal of fat, as does packaged popcorn and those crunchy healthy sounding veggie chips too.

However, it is not just enough to know what types of fat to look for, you also want to make an intelligent decision based upon the description of the fat on the label.

If the description says, fat-free it means there is less 0.5 g of fat in one serving.

Low-fat means there is a maximum of 3 g of fat in a serving.

Reduced fat indicates there is at least 25% less fat in this food than in a similar food.

Trans fat free means there is less than 0.5 g of trans fat in one serving.

Fat, has 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of a carbohydrate or protein. Therefore, when you eat foods that have a lot of fat in them you are getting five extra calories per serving than you would be if you were eating a protein or carbohydrate.

Restrict the amount of fat in your diet to less than one third of your total daily calorie intake. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make sure the food you eat does not get more than 30% of its calories from fat.

260413 A fat savvy guide-part one

A fat savvy guide-part one

You may be surprised that some of the foods you thought were good for you are loaded with fat. For instance, granola bars generally contain a great deal of fat, as does packaged popcorn and those crunchy healthy sounding veggie chips too.

Take this challenge. Before putting anything in your grocery sack or more importantly, in your mouth, look at the label.

The first thing to check for is the amount of total fat contained in one serving. Some foods have so many calories in the container that a serving can be extremely small. Once you know how big a serving is, then it is time to start looking at the types of fat your potential food choice has in it.

Not all fats are bad for you, however too much of any fat is. Two of the biggest offenders are saturated and trans fats. Both, when eaten in excess, tend toward clogging your arteries.

Recently, a review of forty-eight studies found that simply replacing the heart clogging saturated fats with healthier ones could reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems by 14%. There is strong scientific evidence that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as found in avocados, wild salmon and trout, and in most vegetable oils can cut the risk of heart disease and other preventable problems.

240413 Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

Physical activity burns calories. The optimum method of controlling your weight is a combination of good nutrition (see a registered dietitian), and exercise. The question now is what kind of exercise is the most efficient and longest lasting in its effects.

Many people use aerobics to successfully help control their weight and improve their physical fitness while others use strength training to achieve similar goals.

In each case, physical activity speeds up your metabolism for a few hours afterwards. Of course, how much this materializes depends a great deal on the intensity and duration of the activity. Nonetheless, it happens and at a higher rate than if you did nothing at all.

The best way to keep this higher rate of calorie burning is to strength train. The reason is because strength training increases your lean muscle to fat ratio. The higher this ratio is the more your body burns the calories since muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue.

Strive to strength train 2-4 times a week for a minimum of thirty to fifty minutes at a time. Do your large muscle groups such as the chest, shoulders, legs, and back for 3-5 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions for each exercise. On the off days from strength training, do your aerobic training for fifteen to forty minutes per session.

No matter which method you choose, consult with your doctor beforehand, keep the intensity up, and stick with it.

220413 Setting yourself up for success with your exercise plans

Setting yourself up for success with your exercise plans

A beginning exercise program should be fun and easy to follow. It should not be a complicated affair filled with complex and hard to follow directions or intricate movements. Just keep it simple, follow it each day, and have fun. The more complicated you make it the harder it will be to stay up with it.

Set your goals as precisely as possible. For example, telling yourself you want to be stronger may sound good, but it is too general. Do you want to be able to do one push up or one hundred? It makes a difference doesn’t it?

Be specific about each of your goals by knowing exactly where you want to go with your exercise dreams. Decide how you want to exercise, how much you want to exercise, how long you have to reach your goals (both immediate and long range), and how much time you will dedicate to each training session. Without knowing each of these and writing them down it is unlikely that you will actually get there.

Start out slowly and don’t overdo it the first time. It is easy to be over enthusiastic when beginning but this same enthusiasm can lead to being extremely sore the next day. This is something that catches unwary trainees by surprise. Good coaches nip this in the bud by not piling on exercises. Remember, if you are a coach, that it is easy to make someone sore.

You will have to decide whether you need a workout partner. Some people do well with one and others do well on their own. It all depends on your need to be with someone when you exercise.

If you find the right partner, each of you can exceed your expectations in the gym with the mutual support and encouragement you provide to one another. However, if you hook up with a lackard, one who does not show up on time, doesn’t push, or is too social then your training will suffer. You have to decide what is best for you.

Whatever you do, it has to be a fun experience otherwise, you won’t keep it up.

190413 Getting flexible and staying there

Getting flexible and staying there

If you are over 40 years old, you have no doubt started to experience a certain amount of inflexibility. Inflexibility begins to creep up starting at about age 40. This happens because the tissues surrounding your joints start to get a little bit thicker and your muscles start becoming less elastic.

Taking a few steps each day to counter this impending inflexibility issue can make a big difference in the ease with which you move your body. Flexibility makes life easier by improving your balance and posture while at the same time helping to reduce the muscle tension around the joints.

During this age of sitting and looking at the computer or TV, your body is adapting by lengthening the muscles of your back and shortening the muscles in your abdominal region. Consequently, many people are now walking hunched over with lower back pain.

An easy stretch to help alleviate these two problems is to stand with your back in front of a counter top and gently tipping backward into an extended position. You want to make sure that your feet are not going to slip out from in front of you while you are tipping backwards against the countertop.

Another good stretch for your lower back, often used while sitting at your desk, is to put one leg over the other at the knee. For example, if your right leg is over your left leg, you are going to be moving your upper body in a twisting motion to the right. You are going to feel a stretching sensation in your lower left back. Intensify this stretch by tipping forward to the right as you are twisting to the right.

170413 Lower your blood pressure

Lower your blood pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer because its effects are rarely felt until the disease has progressed to a dangerous level.

Here is a list of four things that you can do to potentially lower your blood pressure.

If you weigh too much, lose weight.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Can you see the fat hanging off your stomach and sides? Can you pinch more of an inch on your sides? If so, you need to lose weight. Can you see your toes? If not, you need to lose weight. Is your body mass index in the obese range? If so, lose weight.

With a 10% reduction in your weight, you may notice reductions in your blood pressure numbers.

Start becoming more physically active.

If your prime source of entertainment is watching TV, working on the computer, or socializing at the local tavern then it is time to get off your butt and get moving. Being physically active goes hand-in-hand with losing weight and they each complement one another.

Reduce eating foods that are high in salt and sodium.

Began with an inventory of the foods in your house. Look at the labels. Are they high in sodium? Do you have stacks of potato chips in the cupboards? Is there bacon and sausage in your refrigerator?

You can reduce the salt you eat by cooking your own food and not adding salt when you eat at the table. Canned vegetables, according to their labels, contain an overly high amount of sodium. You can eliminate much of this by rinsing the vegetables before you cook them. This removes much of the salty juices that contribute to the high salt content of the food.

Cut back on the alcohol you drink.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and generally, when you are drinking, you are with friends socializing and eating crap food. More than likely the food you eat during these times contains a lot of fat and salt.

If you already have high blood pressure and are taking medications, do not stop these medications until you talk with your doctor.

150413 Get strong and stay strong with strength training

Get strong and stay strong with strength training

It would appear, from a casual glance at the magazines in the stores that aerobics is a panacea for all the health problems existing in our country. Well it does sell magazines, but is it true?

Certainly participating in aerobic activity plays an important part in accomplishing and then maintaining a certain level of good health. However, lifting weights or sandbags, using resistance bands, and body weight calisthenics are important to anyone who wants to preserve or increase their lean muscle mass.

We are not talking about showboat muscles. We are talking about muscles that are necessary to help lead an active daily life. Having a strong upper body, midsection, and lower body helps delay the frequent muscle weaknesses that automatically come with age.

Exercising the muscles increases the stress placed on the bones, which in turn makes the bones stronger and less susceptible to fracturing. Resistance training also helps increase the fat burning capability of the body due to the more active muscle tissue  in relation to fat.

Full body resistance training a minimum of two times a week and preferably three times per week for 30 to 40 minutes a session will most assuredly increase your fitness level and at the same time make you stronger. Follow a schedule that includes the major muscle groups of the body for 3-4 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions each set. Rest a minute or two and then start the set over again until they are all completed.

The major muscle groups include the shoulders, the chest, the upper back, the lower back, the legs (both front and rear), the biceps and triceps, and abdominal muscles. If you feel as though time is limited then do an upper body one day and the lower body the next day. Do your abs everyday on both the upper and lower schedules.

120413 Developing a basic fitness plan

Developing a basic fitness plan

Losing weight is a topic of many conversations in the United States and for good reason; we are nation of obese people. For this reason, it makes sense to follow a soundly designed overall fitness plan. A good fitness plan makes it easier to control your weight, while at the same time improving your physical health and fitness.

Regular exercise improves the capacity of your heart to furnish the nourishment that is so necessary to your body and if done effectively, gives your lungs a good workout. Exercising and strengthening these two major systems in your body, make up the basics of any fitness plan.

You can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and even lower it, if it is high, by engaging in a regular program of physical fitness. Additionally your risk of heart disease, suffering a stroke, developing type II diabetes, and even certain types of cancers, along with Alzheimer’s can be reduced by increasing your physical activity.

Not only will you be physically healthier but also an added bonus will be improvements in your brain power, elevated moods, and a higher quality of life as you grow older.

By participating in a moderate aerobic style of exercise, which by the very name implies increasing your heart rate, and holding it there for a certain amount of time you will deprive many healthful benefits. One of which is losing weight.

The best part about aerobics is you do not have to buy a lot of equipment. It would be wise to purchase a high-quality pair of running or walking shoes if your budget allows. If not, simply start walking or doing yard work. Anything that will increase your heart rate above its normal resting rate will be beneficial. Other options include jogging, running, swimming, biking, or my favorite, skipping rope.

Aerobic conditioning

Aerobic conditioning is your body’s adaptations to working continuously with oxygen or in other words with air. Aerobic conditioning is cardio respiratory endurance or aerobic power. The word power indicates a strong response to imposed conditions.

Cardio work is a continuous activity that puts an increased demand on the heart, lungs, and circulatory systems of the body. Generally, large muscle groups of the body are involved for extended periods without a break, thus the term, with air. The original term “aerobics” came from the father of cardiovascular training, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, of the famed Cooper Institute.

Ideally, you need to be working up to 30 minutes a day with an aerobic exercise if you want to see good results. To make this type of exercise beneficial to your cardiovascular system, do 30 minutes of an aerobic workout at between 75 and 80% of your maximum heart rate.

The easiest, although not necessarily the most accurate, method of finding your target heart rate percentages is to subtract your age from 220. This gives you the starting point of your potentially maximum heart rate from which you multiply the percentage to get your target heart rate (THR).

For example, if you are 50 years old subtract 50 from 220, which results in 170. The 170 is the beats per minute (BPM) and it is this number that you will multiply by 70% to give to your target heart range of one 19 (BPM).

So, if you are going to exercise for 30 minutes use the first two or three minutes warming up with your exercise of choice and then increasing the intensity until your heart is beating it 119 BPM. Continue at the same pace until your 30 minutes is up and then spend 5 to 6 minutes cooling down with a slower level of doing the exercise until your heart rate is back to near normal.

100413 Eating less. Ten tricks of the trade to help you lose and then keep off excess body weight.

Eating less. Ten tricks of the trade to help you lose and then keep off excess body weight.

The name of your activity can have an effect on how much you eat especially dessert. In a small study, people going on a “scenic walk” ate more dessert than after going on an identical walk labeled an “exercise walk.”

People who eat from a larger container generally eat more than people who eat from a smaller container. In a small observational study, it was found that people eating from a large bucket of stale popcorn ate 34% more than those eating from a smaller bucket of stale popcorn did.

Cafeterias who gave highly descriptive names to their food saw a 27% rise in sales when compared to the same food with a more common name. For instance, velvety smooth, pure white vanilla ice cream would sell more than vanilla ice cream.

You will eat more the same candy if the candy comes in different colors.

Leaving the serving dish on the table rather than leaving it on the stove or the countertop leads to more calories consumed. Men participating in a small study ate 29% more and women 10% more when the dish was left remained on the table.

Setting next to someone who is eating fast leads to those around this person also eating faster and consuming more calories. Years back, my mother-in-law said that she did not want to set across from me when we ate because she felt she was at the races. Looking back on those days, she was right.

Keeping track of how much you ate leads to less food going into your stomach. A study showed that people ate a lesser amount of chicken wings when they could see the bones of the wings they had already eaten setting in front of them.

What you are eating off of matters. People eating off a Wedgwood China plate reported the food tasted better than when the same food was served on a napkin or paper plate. I wonder how the food would have tasted if it was being eaten off the Wedgwood China plate with a plastic fork?

People eating at Subway underestimated the calories in their meals more so than the calories they thought they were getting in their McDonald’s meals.

Labels make a difference. People ate more M&Ms or trail mix if it was labeled “low-fat” that if the label did not say “low-fat.”

Reference: Brian Wansink

080413 Building your own limited space workout room

Building your own limited space workout room

The primary advantage of owning your own gym is you can exercise anytime you want to and you don’t have to wait for equipment to free up from the knotheads jawboning to their friends.

If you are looking to maintain your physical fitness or improve a little bit, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on equipment. Furthermore, you don’t need a lot of space to have a nice gym set up.

You can even have equipment set up outside for use when you are working in the yard or feel like working out outside. A chin up bar between two trees, a selection of rocks in various weights and sizes, and inner tubes filled with traction sand all hold up very well for outside use.

The first thing to do is to decide exactly what you want to be doing. Do you want to focus on your cardiovascular capabilities, flexibility, balance, strength or on all four? Each one will have equipment that is particular to attaining the goal you choose.

For example, if working on balance you need a stability ball that fits your height, several different types of balance pads, and a good instructional manual to follow. In the case of cardio, a good stationary bike or skip rope is a good purchase. Neither of these takes up much room and provides a good cardiovascular workout.

For flexibility purposes a set of the large stretching bands, a length of rope with loops at various distances and perhaps a pulley set up. For resistance training, you will need a solid bench, a barbell and dumbbell set and if space allows a squat rack.

All of the equipment listed above can fit into an area as small as 10 x 10.

I have recommended craigslist to many of my trainees. It is an excellent spot to find used exercise equipment. This is especially true in the spring because by this time many people have been walking around the non-used equipment that they bought in a frenzy at the beginning of the year. The prices are good and in most cases negotiable.

All in all, there are really no good excuses for not exercising since the cost is minimal and the location to exercise is where you live.