Thursday, November 25, 2010

Have A Wonderful Thanks Giving!

This is the day for friends and family. I always use this day on my 80% rule day. If you eat a reasonable amount of food 80% of the time you'll be fine.

I have no boundaries other than stopping when I'm full on Thanks Giving. I do take small portions because I like to try everything. I hate to feel overly full so I'm lucky there. But we give it a rest and then try some more stuff when I'm no longer full.

I do try to focus on company which helps me not go nuts. I don't like to wake up the next day with a food hang over so I'm lucky there too.

Your fitness expert


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Best Exercises For Functional Abs

I was asked what a plank is in response to my last post about getting a strong core with functional exercises. This video shows a side plank and some other great exercises. This was filmed after I was unable to do any exercise for almost a year due to needing spine surgery. I had a bit of a belly roll but you can see after just a few weeks my tummy looked much better and not a crunch was done and I'm 59 years young so they do work:)

I do use crunches in most of my workout videos because I was not aware of this new information then. I found out during my recovery from my surgery. The physical therapists made it clear that I was not to do crunches ever again. Lots of folks still do crunches but that may soon be changing.

Your fitness expert


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Crunch Or Not To Crunch That Is The Question

Most Americans want to have perfect abdominal muscles. Having a strong “core body” is the in thing. But what does that mean? Does that mean having a six-pack or does that mean having a flat stomach? You cannot have both. Those that have six-packs surely do not have flat stomachs. From the side they pouch out a bit. That is from having over developed rectus abdominis muscles.

The methods used to obtain perfect abdominal muscles have changed throughout the years. Full sit-ups were popular many years ago. Then they added an incline bench to make them more difficult. Next came the crunch. The crunch was suppose to lessen the damage your back received from doing full sit-ups. 

Having a strong core includes a strong back. If you weaken your back while strengthening your abdominals you have not gained a strong core.

Muscles support the spine but it consists of a series of vertebrae and discs. Working out muscles is what makes them strong. Over using the discs in your back breaks them down and can damage them. You are told to lift from your legs not your back for a reason. Your back is vulnerable. It only has so many bends in it.

When people do crunches they generally figure the more the better so the discs in your back are getting a real beating when you are doing crunches. Your abdominals are not used in that manner in real life use or they should not be.

The best exercises for a healthy core body are those that use your abdominals to support your body like the plank, side plank and even push-ups. Those work all your core body muscles at one time, which is the best way to strengthen your core and also to get a flat stomach.

The answer to the question, to crunch or not to crunch is. If you have your heart set on a six-pack then crunch away but also be prepared to deal with the consequences. You most likely will hurt your back and not have a strong healthy core or a flat stomach.

Your fitness expert


Monday, November 22, 2010

What Foods Help You Get A Flat Belly

Getting a flat belly is challenging!

Getting fat off the belly is tough. It's a very unhealthy place to carry fat. It's the only place on the body that has visceral fat which is fat carried under the muscle. Fat under the muscle can travel into the blood vessels more easily causing heart related diseases.

Monounsaturated foods are thought to help the body burn belly fat. On that list are olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, sesame or soybean oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, nuts and seeds, olives, and dark chocolate.

These are great for your health. There's one catch! Portions are a must. These must be measured and used sparingly or they can pack weight on and that's not the goal.

Your fitness expert


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is It Wise To Strength Train With Kettlebells?

The fitness industry is like all other industries. It has to keep new and unique formats coming. The public loves a new fad.

Are Kettlebells a fad? Not really. They’ve been around since 1704. They were first used in Russia. In 1885 a committee for the sport of Kettlebell lifting was created.

A Kettlebell is a cannonball shaped weight with a handle on it. It generally is made of cast iron but is now also available in rubber.

In standard weight lifting using momentum is thought to take away from the training effect. With Kettlebells momentum creates the training effect. With momentum comes the higher risk of injury! If your form is not perfect you stand a high chance of neck and back pain as well as injury.

Using momentum requires good agility, proprioception (body awareness) and core stabilization. All these abilities come with time and practice. Kettlebells are often used to train Olympic weight lifters. Those who compete in combat sports also benefit from using kettlebells as part of their training. But is it wise for the average person to strength train with them?

If you are already in great shape they may be a fantastic addition to your workouts. Learning the basic form needed for using the kettlebells is crucial before including them in your strength training routines. Learning from a book or a DVD is not a wise choice for this type of training. Having an qualified instructor present watching you for any needed corrections is extremely important.

For those who have back or neck injuries I would not suggest including kettlebells into your strength training routines. I would not suggest the use of kettlebells for those just starting to exercise. It takes time to obtain the core strength, body awareness and agility needed to perform the moves used.

So is it wise to train with Kettlebells? It depends on your fitness level, health and your availability to a qualified instructor. Picking up a pair and trying them out for yourself is not a good plan!

Your fitness expert


Saturday, November 20, 2010

What To Do About All The Different Facts Health And Fitness Studies Show

This is a long title as it should be. Studies done on health and fitness are abundant. It gets crazy sometimes. Just when you think you discovered the perfect answer along comes another study that comes up with a different result!

I was reading my American Council On Exercise magazine that just came in the mail. They shared a new study that concluded that lifting lightweights with high repetitions actually causes more muscle development than doing heavyweights with low repetitions.

A great discovery! As you read the last paragraph of the article you have to scratch your head. It states that by doing high repetitions your fascia (fibrous tissue under your skin) is compromised and therefore the paragraph suggest the functional benefits of lifting light weights with high repetitions is not as healthy for your body.

Okay so you look great but your supportive fascia structure does not get used in enough directions to keep it healthy is what they are saying. Now if that is not confusing what is?

I always wonder why even write the article in such a manner. Why not start with the fact that lifting lightweights with high repetitions may make you look great but is not the best method for your body’s functionality so if you want to look good lift lightweights with high repetitions but if you want to be healthy and avoid muscle and skeletal problems do not.

Lifting the heaviest weight you can for ten repetitions was all the rage a few years ago. Then lifting lightweights very slowly came into the limelight. So what is a girl suppose to do?

I say this over and over to my clients. Moderation is key. Studies are important and I hope they go on but getting away from moderation is not a good plan.

What I learned from reading the article was that it is important to work your muscles in various angles so switching up your strength training routines is important which is what I have always believed and shared. I now have one more reason why that is a good idea.

What to do about all the studies? If you are a professional consider the possibilities. If you are not and just want to be healthy work with a trainer or use a program that is not extreme. Moderation is key! If you want to read studies make sure you read lots of them that agree before you consider the information as being truthful and even then stay moderate.

Your fitness expert


Friday, November 19, 2010

How Do You Find Your Healthy Weight?

Finding your healthy weight is extremely important. Each woman is different. Relying on a bathroom scale and the Body Mass Index chart could lead to problems if you’re trying to lose weight. Knowing how much fat weight verses body weight you have is very important if you believe or are told by your doctor that you need to lose weight.

I’m not suggesting that you should stop weighing yourself on your bathroom scale. I’m a firm believer in daily or weekly weighing. I’ve found that knowing what you weigh helps you get a handle on your weight.

Your body comes with a set healthy weight. That set weight depends on how much your body weighs. Some women’s bodies are heavier than other women’s due to larger bones, more muscle mass, and other factors. Trying to go under your set weight is asking for problems.

Having a normal amount of body fat is the goal here. Your body has essential fat and non- essential fat. Essential fat is needed. Most women need 10 to 13% of essential fat to support the normal functioning of their bodies. Essential fat is incorporated in to the nerves, brain, heart, liver, lungs and mammary glands. You have to have it to be healthy.The ideal amount of body fat women need is around 14 to 24%. Having up to 31% is acceptable and more than that is a problem.

There are mathematical procedures used to determine your ideal amount of body fat once you determine your body weight. There are many ways to determine your body weight.

I’m going to share some “big word terms” with you so you can ask for these services from your medical doctor or fitness professional.

Anthropometric measurements are the easiest and least expensive way to determine your body composition. Anthropometric measurements include circumference and skin-fold measurement.

Circumference measurements measure 4-body sites to determine body composition: The abdomen (at your belly button), the hips (at the widest part), the iliac (the top of your hip bones), and the waist (the narrowest part of your torso). Those areas are measured and a mathematical process determines your body composition. Your doctor or a qualified fitness professional can do this test for you.

Skin fold measurements are taken with calipers specifically designed for this purpose. You need to go to a professional to get an accurate reading. The theory is that 50% of total body fat lies under your skin. Various key areas of your body are pinched and measured with the calipers to determine how much fat you’re carrying.

Some methods that require more technology are:

Bioelectrical Impedance. This uses a device that measures your body’s resistance to electrical flow. The theory here is that lean mass conducts electricity better than fatty tissue so they can differentiate lean mass from your fat and give you a good idea of how much fat you need to lose using this method.

Hydrostatic Weighing ( underwater weighing) is a good way to find out what your body mass is. It involves sitting in a chair attached to a scale while you’re under water. Water displacement determines your body mass.

There are other more advanced methods available such as:

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry is a very accurate test. It involves a specific type of scanner reading your bone and soft tissue mass.

Air Displacement Plethysmography uses air displacement instead of water displacement to determine your body mass.

Near Infrared Interactance uses infrared light to determine your body mass.

These methods may be new to you and some of the terms are a mouth full but it’s very valuable information. It’s worth the time and expense to have one of the tests done so you can have a realistic healthy weight goal. 

Relying on generic charts and scales are not the best way to go. You have a unique body. The more you can find out about it the healthier you will be.

Your fitness expert


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art Of Relaxation Is Important to Learn

Including relaxation time in your day generally adds to your productivity by enhancing your ability to think clearly. It improves your relationships with those around you at work and at home allowing not only you but also others around you to be more productive.

Relaxation lowers your blood pressure, improves your immune system and a host of other benefits. Benjamin Franklin said, "He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities".

A certain amount of stress is needed. Your body and mind grow with some stress. Too much stress breaks your body down. Illness and depression can result.

Too much stress causes your body to go into the "fight or flight" mode. Powerful hormones run throughout your body allowing you to run fast and fight hard. Your body also prepares for the attack by accelerating your heart and lung action. Your blood vessels constrict in some areas and the vessels that go to your muscles dilate. Your digestion slows down and many other bodily functions are altered to prepare you for the up coming event.

If your body stays in this mode too long your immune system is weakened, constipation occurs, panic attacks and a host of other problems can arise. Learning to redirect your mind so your body can shut down the "fight or flight" response is important for your physical and mental well-being. Relaxation is important for your health.

Learning to relax is an art. We do not all find relaxation from the same activities. Taking the time to try out several methods of relaxation is time well spent.

Including some relaxation time in you day is very important. Quieting the mind generally requires awareness of your body. There is nothing more vital than your breath. Focusing on your breath is an excellent way of learning to be aware of your body.

Here is an exercise that will help you become aware of your breath. It is my favorite breathing exercise:

Sit in a chair with your feet on the ground. Imagine a string attached to the top of your head is gently pulling you up helping you sit up straight. Allow the natural arch in your back to occur. Relax your shoulders and let them drop down.

Place one hand on your belly. Breath in through your nose filling your belly up like a balloon. count in your mind how long it takes to fill up your belly. Once your belly is full slowly release the air through your mouth. Count in your mind as you do this and try to double the amount of time it takes to empty your lungs so if it took three slow counts to fill your belly, your goal is to take six slow counts to empty your belly.

Do this exercise for two minutes a few times a day. Once your body learns to deep breath you can stop counting the inhalation and exhalation instead breath in and then say something like "calm" or "peace" as you release your breath through your mouth.

Now that you are aware of your body you can go on to expand your search for other ways to relax your mind and body.

Exercise is key in assisting your body to learn to relax. It actually decreases your stress hormones and increases your "feel good" chemicals. Research suggests that those who exercise develop some immunity to stress so relaxing is easier to do when you exercise on a regular basis.

There are many ways to relax. A lot of people meditate to relax. The use of candles, calming scents and hot tubs are effective for many. Listening to calming music can help you let go of the day's stresses. Just sitting and doing nothing can be relaxing.

Laughter is a great way to relax. Watching comedic movies and television shows as well as reading funny books adds to your ability to relax. Laughter releases chemicals that sooth stress.

Massage therapy can be very relaxing. Surrounding yourself with positive friends helps too. Use your imagination.

Having a list of ways for you to relax should be on the top of your list of things to do. Learning to relax will enhance your life and those around you. It is an art worthy of learning!

Your fitness expert


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Aging Is A Scary Word

Aging can be a scary word to some women. Like everything else, there are good and bad experiences as you age. You do have some control over how many bad verses good experiences you have aging.

Some of the changes of aging start as early as the third decade of life! By the age of twenty-five or thirty your heart's ability to pump oxygen through your system declines.

When you are middle-aged your blood thickens and becomes stickier which can lead to heart conditions. Most Americans begin to gain three or four pounds of weight per year at mid-life. The weight is fat not muscle.

Your muscle mass declines dramatically as you age and your bones start to soften. Blood sugar levels can begin to get higher if steps are not taken to keep things under control. Your reflexes slow down, co-ordination declines and your memory begins to suffer.
There are so many things we have no control over. You do have some control over your body.

Exercise helps you get control over these changes. It slows down the process. You do need to exercise differently at the different stages of your life. Those who have done moderate exercise throughout their lives generally benefit the most from the wonderful things exercise does for your body. Extreme exercise can damage your body and lack of exercise allows the body to age faster.

When you are young your body can handle more stress. Your joints and spine have more cushion and you heal quickly. When you are older your body does not synthesize protein as well so does not heal as quickly as it did when you were young. Using lighter weights and lower impact aerobic exercise is important. Less stress allows your body to get strong.

It is ideal to do both strength training and aerobics. Some people with heart conditions are not able to lift weights. Knowing your limits and working within them is crucial.

You are never too old to get started with exercise. Great improvements can happen at even the very late stages of life. Working with a qualified fitness professional to create a program for you is money well spent.

Getting older does have its pluses. Retirement can be lots of fun if you are healthy and able to spend time doing things you enjoy like traveling, gardening, and or playing with your grandchildren. Making exercise part of your daily routine will allow you to have more freedom and more fun! If you are not exercising I highly suggest you get started today!

Your fitness expert


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Keeping Your Brain Fit Makes Sense!

I'm still nursing my new pup and trying to get my old dogs to accept her. Not an easy task! It is surely providing brain push-ups for me. I had no idea dogs could be snobs lol

Here's the enzine article for today. It's a good one! I hope to be posting soon. These articles are really good so take the time to select the link below and get some great info!!&id=5377960

Your fitness expert


Monday, November 15, 2010

Eating Disorders Are Serious Problems!

Here's my new enzine article about eating disorders.

I will be able to start writing again soon. My little girl is still healing.

My daughter-in-law and I are taking really good care of her:)

Your fitness expert


Friday, November 12, 2010

How Can I Lose That Extra Weight?

Here's my new enzine article
I hope this article helps you stay on your fitness path.

My puppy is keeping me really busy. She needed eye surgery so I'm on 24-7 duty to keep her from ripping out her stitches. Here's a fun movie I made of her dealing with her cone.

Your fitness expert


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Puppy Surgery

My new pup had to have a rush eye surgery. She was born with one eye smaller than the other and a lid that curls under. I'm going to pick her up soon. I'll be nursing her back to health so I may be behind on my posts.

Here's an enzine article that I just wrote to keep fitness on your mind:)

I'll keep you posted on my puppies recovery

Your fitness expert


Monday, November 8, 2010

Dogs Get You Off The Couch And On Your Feet!

I've been very busy with my doggies. I got a new pup. Housebreaking is always tons of fun lol. She's doing great now though. I hope she keeps it up! My other dogs are old and not well socialized. I've had to work really hard at getting them to even be with my new puppy.

The good news is that I've lost a couple of pounds due to training these doggies. I don't need to lose weight but I love to eat so when I do lose a few pounds I get to eat more to gain the weight back! That always makes me smile:)

I've said before and will say again, "dogs keep or get you in shape!". My other dogs are getting really old so they weren't making me get off the computer and on my feet often enough. This new pup has me up and run about most of the day.

It's tough to find time to post as often as I was but I try to keep up. Don't give up on me. I'll get back to normal soon. I have several blogs to keep up. I love to write but I knew I needed to get up more so I got my new pup. She needed a home and I need the exercise.

There are lots of dogs that need homes. You might think about getting one. Dogs can always be trained. Often really great dogs are left at the pound because people lack the time or do not take the time to learn how to train their dog. I admit to being a dog freak. I can't help it. They make me smile...

Your fitness expert


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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sleep Should Be On The Top Of Your Priority List!

The old saying, "get your beauty sleep" is pretty accurate. Sleeping does make you beautiful. If you do not get enough sleep you not only get tired but you tend to gain weight!

There are two hormones in your body called gherlin and leptin that play a large role in your feelings of hunger and fullness. Sleep helps to regulate those hormones. If you do not get enough sleep you will very likely feel hungrier due to their imbalance.

Also the feeling of tiredness and hunger often get confused in your brain. You may think you are hungry when in fact you are tired. So getting enough sleep controls your appetite.

There is another hormone, your growth hormone, which is released during sleep. That hormone is responsible for developing your muscles. Muscles are hungry tissue. You burn more calories during the day and night if you have good muscle development. Getting enough sleep increases your metabolism allowing you to burn more calories.

Sleep affects how you looked, feel and perform daily tasks. Sleep has a major impact on your life!

How much sleep should you get? According to most current studies seven to nine hours is what you need. It is important to get the full seven to nine hours and not to break up your time. Your body goes through several important stages that can not be accomplished by sleeping several short periods.

You can nap during the day. A short nap can help you deal with stress and give a boost of energy. Often a nap can help you to avoid over eating. Napping should not replace your regular sleep. A nap should be twenty to thirty minutes. Longer naps leave you feeling groggy not refreshed. Avoid napping late in the afternoon because taking late naps can make it difficult to sleep at night.

I realize life is not black and white, some nights you struggle to sleep. On those nights get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired and then go back to bed. The old stay in bed and count sheep routine does not often work.

Here are some tips to help you get your sleep:

Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. They can all cause sleeping problems.

Exercise regularly but allow three hours of calm before you go to sleep. Late night exercising can keep you up. You need to wind down after you exercise.

Establish a regular bedtime behavior pattern. Turn down the lights and relax ten or fifteen minutes before you go to bed. You can have warm milk or take a warm bath, anything that calms you and lets your body start to wind down.

Avoid the computer, the television and doing work just before bed. You want to slow your thoughts down not reeve them up.

Keep your room at a comfortable temperature. Crack a window if need be. You can get window locks at your local hardware store to keep your home safe while you are sleeping.

Investing in a good bed is money well spent. Go out and lay on several beds until you find the one that you just have to have.

Limit the amount of water you drink late at night so you are not up going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Keep your food intake low late at night. Eating a big meal and then going to bed can keep you up because your body is working at digesting your food instead of taking time off to do its other night-time tasks.

Sleeping is a very important part of life. It often does not get on the high priority list for many people. It should be at the top of your list! Not only will you tend to gain weight but your ability to think clearly and enjoy life is limited if you go through life tired.

Your fitness expert


Monday, November 1, 2010

You're As Young As You Are Limber!

You're as young as you are limber. That's a saying women who are deeply into yoga chant. There's truth to those words. Flexibility allows freedoms. You can tie your own shoelaces when you're limber. You can bend down to pick up your dog or cat. Your joints and tendons need to stay long and healthy.

Everyone can stretch. If you look at animals when they get up after sleeping you'll see them stretch. Stress in your body is alleviated when you stretch. Have you noticed how tense you become when you're under stress? Taking a big breath and stretching can help the tension go away. Headaches and back aches can be prevented if you spend a few minutes breathing and stretching.

Your relationship with your body improves when you stretch. Often we forget about our bodies. Sometimes it seems our bodies just get in the way. It's important to take the time to relax, breath, stretch and become aware of your body. Your body tells you when things are amiss. Investing time in your body by keeping it limber is time well spent.

When should you stretch? You can stretch anytime; when you first get up in the morning, in the evening before you go to bed, at the office after working on the computer is a great time. It's important to do a few arm circles and walk around for a few minutes or march in place to warm up your muscles.

Getting your muscles warm and supple is important. You'll get better results and lessen your chance of tearing a muscle. The goal is to lengthen your muscles not tear them. If you stretch on a cold muscle it can tear.

In the old days we'd stretch before we ran. Now most trainers either lightly stretch before a workout or wait until after the workout to stretch.

How long should you hold the stretch? That's debatable. Most physical therapists say thirty seconds. My favorite book, "Stretching" says ten seconds. The American Council On Exercise taught me fifteen seconds. Trying them all and finding what works for you is the best advise I can give you.

Breathing while stretching is crucial. That relaxes your muscles and allows them to lengthen.

In the old days we'd bounce when we stretched. No more! There are two tendons that respond when you stretch. One tendon's job is to prevent tears so it will tighten to prevent tearing. The other tendon's job is to let the muscle lengthen. Holding a stretch activates the lengthening tendon while bouncing activates the shortening tendon. Holding a stretch without bouncing will produce better results.

Stretching is a natural thing that you want to do often. These few tips should help you get the most out of it.

Your fitness expert

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