My tips on making a healthy, fitness transformation:
- Set goals… both small (ie. drink a gallon of water everyday), medium (ie. lose a pound a week) and major ones (compete in a bikini competition).
- Get rid of the junk food! Make your own meals from wholesome lean proteins, veggies, fruits and healthy fats. No soda, cookies, chips, crackers, candy, white breads and pastas, fruit juice, sugary cereal, fast food or packaged, processed crap.
- While you’re at it.. cut out the alcohol. It shuts down your metabolism, promotes fat storage and breaks down muscle tissue. (lovely eh?)
- Plan ahead… prepare your meals and workouts in advance, always keep workout clothes, a water bottle and protein powder with a shaker cup in your car so you never have an excuse not to hit the gym. “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”.
- Stay positive… setbacks will happen, don’t let your mistakes define you! You’re only a failure if you quit.
- Rid yourself of negativity (including the people who try to belittle your healthy dreams and goals).
- Track your progress… take before pictures and weekly progress pictures. Also, keep a journal of everything you eat and of all your workouts (including how many reps, sets and weight for each workout).
- Be patient… losing weight and getting fit takes time!
- Make a motivational posterboard of quotes, pictures, anything that will remind you of your goals and keep it where you can see it!
- Ask questions.. don’t be afraid of looking dumb! I asked millions of them when I first started (and still do sometimes!) In fact, the first person I ever asked was an NPC Fitness Competitor!!! And guess what? She answered every single one of my questions, and we have continued to stay in touch!
- Believe in yourself, believe you can do it. “The best way to predict your future, is to create it”.
100 Running Songs! (The image links to the original article)
In no particular order:
- Afrojack – Take Over Control
- Bruno Mars – Runaway Baby
- Kelly Clarkson – Whyawannabringmedown
- Barenaked Ladies – One Week
- Kanye West – Champion
- The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright
- T.I. – Bring Em Out
- Lady Gaga ft. Colby O’Donis – Just Dance
- Chris Brown – Yeah 3x
- Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal
- YoungBloodz – Imma Shine
- Beyonce & Jay Z – Crazy In Love
- Black Eyed Peas – Pump It
- Neon Trees – Animal
- LMFAO ft. Lil Jon – Shots
- Usher ft. Will-I-Am – OMG
- Willow Smith – Whip My Hair
- Rihanna – Disturbia
- Will-I-Am ft. Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez – T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)
- Tinie Tempah ft. Wiz Khalifa – Till I’m Gone
- Samantha Jade – Step Up
- Fatboy Slim – Rockafeller Skank
- Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo & Afrojack- Give Me Everything
- Outkast – Hey Ya
- Nicki Minaj – Starships
- Will Smith – Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It
- Prodigy – Breathe
- Janelle Monae ft. Big Boi- Tightrope
- Kanye West – Power
- Ke$ha – Blow
- Destiny’s Child – Survivor
- Nicki Minaj & David Guetta – Turn Me On
- Black Eyed Peas – Don’t Stop The Party
- Chris Brown – I Can Transform Ya
- Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera – Moves Like Jagger
- Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
- Lenny Kravitz – Are You Going To Go My Way
- Skrillex – Bangarang
- Usher – More
- Rihanna – Breakin Dishes
- Smash Mouth – All Star
- Calvin Harris ft. Ne-Yo – Let’s Go
- La Roux – Bulletproof
- Madcon – Beggin’
- LMFAO – Sexy And I Know It
- Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey (I Love You)
- Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris – Baby
- Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
- Pink – Raise Your Glass
- Rick Ross – Push It
- Black Eyed Peas – Don’t Phunk With my Heart
- Beyonce – Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
- Christina Aquilera ft. Nicki Minaj – WooHoo
- Eminem – Lose Yourself
- Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee)
- Trapt – Headstrong
- Salt ‘N Pepa – Push It
- T-Pain – Church
- The Veronicas – 4ever
- LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem
- Eminem – Won’t Back Down
- The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name
- Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris – We Found Love
- Kevin Rudolf ft. Lil’ Wayne – Let It Rock
- DJ Khaled – Out Here Grindin’
- Lenny Kravitz – Where Are We Runnin’?
- Fabolous – Breathe
- Jessie J – Domino
- Kris Kross – Jump
- Flo Rida ft. Sia – Wild Ones
- Kanye West & Jay Z – Ni**as In Paris
- Drake ft. Lil Wayne & Tinie Tempah – The Motto (Remix)
- Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
- Cobra Starship – You Make Me Feel…
- Britney Spears – I Wanna Go
- Enur ft. Natasja & Mims – Calabria 2008
- Fergie – Here I Come
- Eve – Tambourine
- Outkast – B.O.B.
- House Of Pain – Jump Around
- Kelly Clarkson – My Life Would Suck Without You
- Gwen Stefani – The Sweet Escape
- Fort Minor – Remember The Name
- Paramore – Ignorance
- Lady Gaga – Born This Way
- Linkin Park – Papercut
- Rihanna – Where Have You Been
- B.o.B ft. Rivers Cuomo – Magic
- Selena Gomez & The Scene – Love You Like A Love Song
- Britney Spears – Till The World Ends
- Matchbox Twenty – How Far We’ve Come
- ATC – All Around The World
- Beyonce – Countdown
- Christina Aguilera – Fighter
- Kanye West – Stronger
- Flo Rida – Good Feeling
- Smash Mouth – I’m A Believer
- DJ Khaled ft. Ludacris, Rick Ross, T-Pain & Snoop Dogg – All I Do Is Win
- Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake – 4 Minutes
- Maroon 5 – Makes Me Wonder
1.) DON’T immediately begin a high impact workout without warming up first. You might as well take a frozen rubber band and stretch it beyond it’s point of elasticity. The rubber band will snap much easier and so will your muscles if they are tight. DO warm up with low impact activity such as walking, lunges, or arm circles.
2.) DON’T immediately stop all activity after a vigorous workout. DO be sure to cool down to aid in the recovery process. Cooling down allows your heart rate to lower along with the relaxation of your tired muscles.
3.) DO remember to stretch your muscles before working out and after, especially, since your muscles are still warm. DON’T stretch prior to warming up because your muscles need proper loosening to prevent accidental strain and pulling. There are so many wonderful benefits to stretching. Here is a post I made demonstrating various stretches.
4.) DON’T push an injury. This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people simply ignore pain and continue working out. What may seem okay at the time can become an even bigger problem if not properly attended to. DO listen to your body. If a pain is persistent, DO consult a doctor as soon as possible.
5.) DON’T lift too much or make sudden jerky body movements. DO be sure to increase weights gradually to prevent injury and quick muscle burnout. It’s normal to feel pain and some fatigue, but lifting too much to the point of failure isn’t going to help. This goes hand in hand with going overboard in general. DO work your way into a program with caution to avoid injuries and feeling defeated.
6.) DON’T stick with the notion that you can eat whatever you want because you worked out. Abs are also made in the kitchen, so choose your foods wisely. DO check food labels for nutritional content. DO choose foods that are filling to lessen the chance of binging later due to sudden hunger. DON’T eat empty calories.
7.) DON’T load up on sports drinks for short workouts. You’ll be tacking on a lot of unnecessary calories (also includes energy bars). DO keep a bottle of water handy at all times to remain properly hydrated. DO drink before you’re thirsty. If your body is begging for water, you’re already heading towards dehydration. Drinking 4-8 oz approximately every 20 minutes will do the trick. DO consider sports drinks when you plan on working out for more than 1 hour.
8.) DON’T get bored with your exercise program because it will be hard to stick with. Exercise can become very monotonous if you continue to do the same thing day after day. DO incorporate new exercises during the week to break up your usual routine. Having the opportunity to build new skills can keep you motivated.
9.) DON’T wear clothing made with fabrics (i.e. cotton) that are not breathable as they can become saturated resulting in heaviness. You want to remain comfortable during a workout. DO be sure to wear clothing that wicks moisture away from the body (dry-fit). DO wear clothing appropriate for whatever exercise you choose to partake in.
10.) DON’T overexercise. Your body needs rest just as much as it needs to be physically active. DO take, at the very least, 1 day of complete rest in order for your body to recover. This is especially important the day after vigorous activity has taken place. DO stagger your weekly workouts between easy, mild, and tough to create balance.
11.) DON’T pretend that you know everything just to avoid “looking stupid” when you truly have a concern or question in mind. You can say hello to injuries. DO consult a personal trainer for advice, tips, and examples of exercise moves to work a certain part of your body.
How do I lose thee? Let me count the ways. We give you 61 (plus a few bonus tips for you dedicated online readers). Losing those last few inches, bringing out that six-pack or moving the slider to the left on the scale are among the hardest things for people to do — even you crafty gym veterans. But with this compilation of tips, unwanted bodyfat could be a thing of the past.
Be an Iron Man. There’s no overstating the importance of resistance training. Adding muscle to your frame through lifting weights causes your body to speed up its metabolism. For every pound of lean muscle you forge, count on losing an extra 35—50 calories per day, or up to 1,500 calories a month or 18,000 calories per year while resting. That’s approximately 5 pounds of bodyfat you can eliminate at rest.
FAT FACT: Depending on a number of factors — weight loads, rest periods, intensity, exercise selection, etc. — the average weight-training session will yield a caloric burn of 400—600 calories.
Limit rest periods. Don’t spend your time between sets chatting up the chick on the treadmill. To add a calorie-burning element to your weight training, limit rest periods to 30—45 seconds. Resting 30 seconds between sets has been shown to increase caloric burn by 50%, compared to a three-minute rest period. You may not be as strong heading into your next set, but the added calorie burn may be worth it.
Speed up the pace. To help amp up your calorie burn between sets—and to accomplish more in less time — incorporate supersets or drop sets on weight-training days or perform your exercises circuit-style. You can also speed up your workout by doing your ab moves between other exercises, rather than waiting until the end of your routine.
Expect progression. Don’t get stuck in a rut with the same weights and exercises. Expect that after 4—6 weeks, your body will have adjusted and will be starving for something new. Aim to make incremental increases to your weight loads, try new exercises, shorten rest periods, incorporate advanced techniques like supersets, change from barbells to dumbbells, anything to keep your body guessing and improving.
Compound interest. Build your routine around multijoint movements like presses, rows and squats to recruit the most muscle and burn the most calories. Isolation moves, or single-joint exercises, such as leg extensions, biceps curls and triceps extensions, should represent only a small portion of your routine.
Be free. Free weights force your body to recruit more total muscle because they call on stabilizer muscles to balance the weight, a superior advantage to the predetermined range of motion that machines have to offer.
Go rest, young man. To repair itself (which is where the real gains occur), the body needs rest. Get at least eight hours of sleep per night to allow your body to recover and grow muscle, which ups your overall calorie-burning potential. And depending on the volume of your training, allow a few days before working the same muscle group again. This also prevents overtraining, which can strip your body of muscle.
Go for the afterburn. Resistance training also burns more calories after exercise. One study found that after a 30-minute full-body workout in which subjects trained with their 10RM weights, resting metabolic rate was elevated by 20% for two days following the exercise session. In a 180-pound man, that percentage equates to an average 400 extra calories burned per day.
Overload. Training with the progressive-overload principle helps rev your metabolism. Pushing your muscles beyond what they’re currently trained to overcome forces them to adapt and regenerate themselves so they’re ready the next time such a stimulus is encountered.
Think “Ronnie.” Train like a bodybuilder to help improve your hormonal milieu. Doing 3—5 sets of 8—12 reps with relatively short rest periods has been shown to increase testosterone and growth hormone release, improving your anabolic environment and metabolism.
Train abs for endurance. If your goal is to have a slimmer waistline, don’t train your abs with heavy loads. Use a weight that allows you to get at least 15 reps per set, allowing minimal rest between sets (less than 60 seconds). Or use only your own bodyweight as resistance while maximally contracting your abs on each repetition.
Cyclical gains. Although it isn’t impossible, you shouldn’t attempt to get really lean and gain significant amounts of muscle mass simultaneously. Instead, periodize (cycle) your training for better overall results, alternating between phases when you focus on strength, mass and leaning out.
Cardio, cardio, cardio. This helps you with the simple philosophy behind fat loss: Burn more calories than you take in. If your goal is fat loss, incorporate 4—6, 30—60-minute sessions per week into your training schedule.
Of iron and sweat. If your goal is to lean out, follow your weight training with cardio. Since lifting depletes glycogen stores, your body is more likely to use fat as its first fuel source during cardio. Also, the combination of the two results in a higher caloric burn postworkout.
Tread heavily. What’s the best exercise and intensity to burn maximal fat? Researchers found that jogging on the treadmill at about 70% of your maximal heart rate, or MHR (subtract your age from 220 and multiply by 0.7 for your heart rate in beats per minute), was optimal, burning about 40 grams of fat per hour of exercise. Going above or below this intensity burned significantly less fat, as did pedaling on a stationary cycle, regardless of intensity.
Run hungry. If you can stomach getting up earlier, perform cardio before your first meal of the day. Your body is most likely to use fat as the first energy source because your glycogen stores are depleted. If you’re concerned with muscle loss, take 10—20 grams of whey protein before your session, but stay away from carbs.
Post-cardio burn. Following aerobic exercise, your resting metabolic rate remains elevated for anywhere from 60 minutes to about 12 hours, depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise session.
Move outdoors. Try your next outdoor run on sand, which is more difficult than running on harder surfaces like cement. It’s easier on the joints as well, but wear shoes to avoid stress fractures and protect your feet from glass. Running on grass is also a welcome relief to joints and arches.
Taper off. Instead of starting slow and building up speed, do your high-intensity cardio early in your workout and taper off to a slow finish to burn significantly more fat. After a 2—3-minute warm-up, immediately kick it into high gear (80%—85% max heart rate) for 15—20 minutes before slowing down (60%—65% max heart rate) for the last 10—20 minutes.
Vary your cardio. Whether you’re lifting weights or doing cardio, the trick is to keep your body from adapting to what you’re doing. Regularly changing your cardio mode is the best way to keep your body responding to your efforts.
Interval for success. Unless you’re a highly conditioned athlete, you can’t maintain a very intense pace for very long, so the best way to improve your aerobic fitness and burn fat is with intervals. That is, you alternate very intense periods of work with lower-intensity sessions in which you recover.
No butts. Smoking deprives cells of the oxygen they need to maximize metabolism, keeps muscles from repairing themselves after exercise and makes cardio a lot tougher. Plus, your smoke-scented clothes are sure to irritate fellow gym rats.
Fidget to fight fat. Are you a fidgeter? Maybe you should be. Several studies have shown that toe-tappers, while completely annoying at the office, will burn more calories over the course of the day than the stationary man.
Stay hydrated. Active individuals actually require more water and should aim to consume roughly 1 gallon per day to avoid becoming dehydrated. And if you’re one of those people who hates drinking water, consider this: Dehydrated individuals burn less fat than their well-watered counterparts.
Eat more frequently. Eating 5—6 small meals a day as opposed to “three squares a day” causes your metabolism to work constantly. Eating larger meals, on the other hand, slows your metabolism and forces leftover calories to be stored as fat.
Eat protein. Since muscle-building is the fastest route to slim down, you want to make sure that your protein consumption is enough to keep up with your weight training. Eat too little protein and your gains could be much slower. Get 1—1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day to help your muscle gains along. Use protein bars and shakes to supplement your whole-food consumption and stave off cravings.
Get leafy. Those who eat a salad before dinner tend to consume less calories overall during dinner. But don’t sabotage yourself — stay away from high-fat dressings like ranch, blue cheese and Caesar.
Skip happy hour. Alcohol consumption can temporarily blunt testosterone levels, hindering muscle repair and growth and blunting sexual drive. Also, the calories from alcoholic beverages — in the neighborhood of 100—200 each without cocktail mixers — add up faster than you may think.
Cut out soda. Instead, rely on water and other flavored drinks like Crystal Light to get your fluids every day. If you drink one soda per day, you’re adding 1,750 calories per week to your diet. Also, studies have shown that those who regularly consume diet sodas tend to gain weight in the long run because of overindulgences elsewhere.
Calories out! The goal in any fat-loss or weight-loss program should be to burn more calories than you consume. Aim to cut total calorie consumption by about 250 calories per day. Yes, that means you’ll have to figure out how many calories you eat in a normal day. Get on it. The math will pay big dividends later.
Got the munchies? If you can do without the butter and salt, plain popcorn is a winner. Two quarts has the same number of calories as just 20 potato chips. By substituting 1 cup of plain, unbuttered popcorn for a 1-ounce bag of chips, you’ll save 135 calories and 10 grams of fat.
The magical fruit. Subjects who ate half of a grapefruit with meals or drank 8 ounces of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 4 pounds (with some losing more than 10 pounds) in 12 weeks without dieting.
Carb smart. Keep your carbohydrates low to moderate when trying to lose weight. If you rotate low- and high-carb days, you’ll be able to keep your energy levels up while running a caloric deficit. Good, clean, fiber-rich carbs include oats, potatoes, rice and whole-grain bread. Also, limit high-carb drinks like fruit juice to postworkout, when your body needs carbs to speed recovery.
Operation Dinner Out. Be diligent when ordering in a restaurant. Have your meats grilled without oil or grease. Ask for steamed vegetables with no butter. Get a salad (no cheese) with either low-fat dressing or vinaigrette.
Avoid simple sugars. Too much sugar in your diet can wreak havoc on your metabolism by spiking your insulin response and promoting the accumulation of bodyfat over time. Immediately after exercise, however, is an ideal time to ingest simple sugars; otherwise, steer clear.
GI Low. For most of the day, your carb options should be of the low-glycemic variety, meaning they’re digested and burned more slowly. Athletes who eat low-GI carbs burn more fat throughout the day.
Eat more fiber. Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is essential to health and helps decrease bodyfat. Adults should consume 35—40 grams of fiber per day, with about a third of that coming from insoluble fibrous sources. Along with whole grains rich in beneficial fiber, consume high amounts of fibrous vegetables, such as broccoli, to attain your daily intake. High-fiber foods also promote satiety.
Timed consumption. When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Many people who eat way too much at night should re-evaluate their eating patterns. Eat two-thirds of your day’s calories before dinnertime to avoid overeating late in the day.
Prepare. Watch what you eat around work. If your workplace serves nothing healthy, tote food or snacks along with you. If you’re attending a workplace function in which only junk food is served, pre-eat. Having recently eaten something that’s healthy and adequate in calories to meet your energy needs, it’s easier to say no to the junk and empty calories.
Get yolked. Eating eggs for breakfast was recently found to reduce hunger and food intake for up to 24 hours.
Slow down, Turbo! Successful dieters and fitness buffs will tell you that fast eating and bodyfat go hand in hand because you end up overeating. It takes about 10 minutes for the food in your stomach to signal your brain that you’ve eaten enough.
Don’t be salty. Excess sodium consumption can make you look softer and cause you to burn less fat. Most people get way too much, anyway, especially if you eat a lot of processed foods. To help you look leaner and strip sodium from your diet, drink more water, cut back on highly processed foods and switch to potassium chloride to season your foods.
Got milk? Research has shown that individuals who consume high levels of dietary calcium in a 24-hour period had higher rates of fat oxidation that day than those who consumed lesser amounts. So stock up on low-fat versions of cheese, milk and yogurt; if you’re lactose intolerant, choose dark-green leafy vegetables, legumes and almonds.
Go nuts! Eating a handful of almonds was found to help test subjects lose 62% more weight, 56% more fat and 50% more from their waistline after 24 weeks compared to those who followed the same diet without almonds.
Invest in a fat-burner. Consult your doctor before trying a fat-burner if you have any pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or high blood pressure, as fat-burners can exacerbate those conditions. New products that combine multiple ingredients, such as Hydroxycut Hardcore and Lipid Fx, work well.
Have a tea party. Green tea, in beverage or capsule form, is a reliable fat-burning aid and is generally safe for most people.
Caffeinate. Drinking coffee before cardio will cause you to burn more fat. Subjects who consumed 300 mg of caffeine two hours before exercising on a stationary bike for 30 minutes were not only able to work out at a higher intensity (more total calories burned) but they also used a much greater percentage of bodyfat for fuel.
Aminos work, too. Researchers found that subjects who ingested about 3 grams of an amino acid mixture before one hour of moderate-intensity exercise on a stationary bike burned the same amount of total calories but more fat than those taking a placebo drink.
The Transporter. Carnitine, which helps transport fats to where they can be burned in the mitochondria of muscle and other cells, can help you burn more fat. One study showed that three weeks of carnitine supplementation increased carnitine levels in muscle and enhanced fat usage during exercise. Another study showed that just 10 days of carnitine supplementation (3 grams per day) increased the amount of fat burned.
Fat for fuel faster. Hydroxycitrate (HCA) appears to enhance fat loss, according to researchers. Subjects taking HCA were able to work out longer and harder, and the amount of calories they burned from fat during the hour of exercise increased. Try taking 250—1,000 mg once or twice a day.
Builder/burner. Creatine not only helps build muscle but can aid in bodyfat loss. Soldiers who took creatine (as opposed to the group that got a placebo) increased strength and muscle mass, but also averaged a 0.5% reduction in bodyfat percentage, with several subjects dropping more than 1% bodyfat.
Take CLA. Conjugated linoleic acid has come into vogue in bodybuilding circles as a fat-burner. Several studies in humans have shown modest effects on fat loss. Try 3 grams per day.
Recruit a partner. Weight training with the right partner can help push and motivate you beyond what you’d achieve on your own. He or she can also be a positive and healthy source of competition, if that’s a characteristic that helps drive you in accomplishing specific goals.
Discipline. Tired of how you look? Then understand you’re the only one who can change it. Resolve to do it and do it. Create a plan and carry it out, budgeting time for the gym, food prep and rest for the week.
But be flexible. While you should be rigid about your workout times and food intake, don’t lock yourself into lofty goals such as “I will lose 10 pounds in my first two weeks.” You’re setting yourself up for a fall. Instead, aim to shed up to 2 pounds per week after weeks 4—5. Anything earlier or greater than that should be the fat-free icing on your cake!
Be a fitness nerd. Watch and read everything you can get your hands on (such as Muscle & Fitness) to learn more about the body, exercise and nutrition. The more you know, the better off you’ll be in the gym.
Join a league or run a race. Many people lack the drive to keep to a regular routine. Giving yourself a reason to get into shape (or stay that way) is a great way to stay on course with your goals. Signing up for a 10K or joining a league in your favorite sport is often motivation enough not to miss your next gym session.
Cheat. To avoid going insane with anger over what you can or can’t eat, allow yourself 1—2 cheat meals per week, depending on how dedicated you can be. Small indulgences make dieting more tolerable, keeping you on track longer.
Stay the course. The watchword for taking off that extra layer of bodyfat is consistency. Stick with it, even if the first week or two are tough — by the third week, you’ll start to form a habit.
Be goal-oriented. To succeed, keep track of your goals. Make them attainable, and write them down to increase your chances of success. Set small goals — such as dropping 5 pounds or losing 2 inches off your waist — that are measurable and attainable. Once you hit those goals, set new ones to keep yourself motivated.
Picture this. Get motivated by hanging up a picture of yourself today next to one from a magazine of what you want to look like. Dream big, but be realistic: You can have a far-improved physique in a month, but more dramatic changes take more time.
Chart progress. Weigh yourself naked just once per week, at the same time of day, preferably on the same scale to ensure accuracy. M&F
5 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY ON A TIME BUDGET:
- Eat fast and smart. Ditch the fast food. Need a quick meal? Go for low-sodium, low calorie options, and add veggies! Check out this list.
- 30 minutes of activity a day. ANY physical activity will help you maintain your health. Walking, shopping, climbing stairs… it just needs to add up to 30 minutes in order for you to stay healthy!
- Prepare for cravings. Don’t go for the vending machine— carry trail mix or carrots on you at all times!
- Don’t buy in to shortcuts. Shape-ups? A waste of your money. Just cut out that time you spend watching TV and substitute it for some exercise!
- It’s all about your ATTITUDE! Positive attitude = positive results. Say “I can” more often than “I can’t”. If you keep telling yourself you don’t have time instead of actually making time, you won’t get anywhere.
My Tips on Fitting Exercise Into Your Day:
- Schedule it - Mark it on your calendar or planner and treat it as an important meeting, not to be missed!
- Wake up earlier - For a lot of people, waking up earlier than normal is a horrible inconvenience.. but it’s also a great way to get a workout in before your day has even officially begun! (Trust me, it’s such an awesome feeling walking out of the gym as all your fellow bleary-eyed gym-goers are just walking in!)
- Keep your workout gear close-by - By keeping a set of workout clothes in your car at all times, you give yourself NO excuse not to hit the gym after school or work. Just swing by the gym on your way home ;)
- No gym? No problem! - Bodyrocktv on Youtube has AWESOME, intense, at-home workouts that you can do for $0 and minimal time! There are also a massive amount of workout DVDs available online.
- Avoid the elevator - You can burn extra calories by skipping modern conveniences. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park far away, not in front of the store, skip the car and take your bike..
- Take breaks - Get up from your desk, stretch and go for a quick walk to the coffee machine or the water fountain. Sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy, so give yourself a break.
- Use time wisely - While you’re waiting for the shower to heat up or your ride to arrive, do jumping jacks, push ups, squats, burpees.. anything you feel like to get your body moving. At least it’s SOMETHING.
- Squeeze it in - Even if you don’t have one giant block of time, you can squeeze in 10 minutes here and there of something like Yoga, Pilates or Tabata style workouts.
- On the phone? Walk! - Don’t sit if you spend a lot of time on the phone. When given the opportunity, walk and talk.
If exercise and health is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse. You’ve only got one body, take care of it! =)
Get to know your abs
Our belly is “wrapped” with layers of muscles that overlap.
(1) The rectus abdominis (in red) also known as the “6-pack” is a long, flat band of muscle. Training this muscle with isolation exercises such as crunches or sit-ups is fine but it is not the complete answer to strengthen your abs.
(2) The external oblique (in yellow) works with (3) the internal oblique (in green) to act like a corset around your belly. Together, internal and external obliques form an X shape. They are responsible for waist twisting moves.
(4) The transverse abdominis (in blue) is the deepest of the 4 layers and helps “keep everything tight”. This layer contracts during many lifts to help stabilize the spine. Exercises like planks, push-ups, lunges, lifting movements such as squats engage the transverse abs because they force this layer to create tension around the midsection.
Picture’s copyrights: Book “Strength Training Anatomy” by Frédéric Delavier
Reminder: YOU DON’T NEED FANCY EQUIPMENT!
Stairs can be used for effective cardio AND lower body work. You can also use them for V-sits (ab work), more difficult planks & pushups (put your feet on them), tricep dips and a million other exercises. Be creative!
Other D.I.Y. workout tools?
Kitchen Counter: Great for ‘power’ pushups. Push yourself off in a plyometric fashion, and catch yourself before lowering. Great way to improve your pushups on the floor!
Chairs: The possibilities are endless! Step Ups, leg lifts, crunches, russian twists, elevated hip raises, mountain climbers (put your feet on the chair), box jumps etc.
Socks/Towels: SLIDE & GLIDE! One leg squats, lateral skaters (remember skating with your socks as a kid?), mountain gliders (glide your socks forward and back in plank), Star Planks (in plank position, widen and narrow your feet in a sliding motion). Place them under your hands to use for sliding pushups!
Your BED! The soft surface and bounce makes some moves more fun (and challenging). Try your normal floor routine on your bed, and use pillows for elevation, support and instability.
Mirrors: Check your form! And… check yourself out. Werk.
The Wall: A sneaky tool! Try climbing up with your feet (from plank position), squat holds (back on wall), pushups, or use it for balance for your one-legged booty work.
You’re only limited by your imagination! Play, have fun and use what you’ve got!
Also: Homemade dumbbells: Fill a couple of empty water bottles with sand, dirt, or even bird seed. Weigh the bottles to see how heavy the weights are. Each bottle works just like a $20 dumbbell!
Find an exercise you enjoy!
Your aim here is for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most daysof the week - moderate intensity activity being anything causing a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. It’s all very well to launch into new physical activity in a burst of inspiration, but to reap the full lifelong benefits you have to DO IT REGULARLY, so you need to find something you enjoy doing.
- Choose something you enjoy and that is readily available
Finding a physical activity you enjoy, and that is easy to build into your regular routine, is really important if you are going to stick at it. Choose types of exercise that need minimal equipment, no specific venue, minimal or no ongoing costs, and no other team members makes them easy to do spontaneously. Brisk walking is a good example.
- Choose more than one type of exercise
Exercising the same way every day can not only becoming monotonous, but it can increase the risk of injury and will restrict the benefits you obtain from exercise. Analternative exercise will add variety, and by working different muscles on different days you will help reduce risk of injury.
- Vary the intensity of your exercise
Highly trained athletes often train according to the ‘hard-easy’ principle whereby oneday of intense exercise is followed by a day of low intensity exercise, and so on. This principle can also apply if you have a lower level of fitness: it will help avoid injury and will allow your muscles time to recover from hard work.
- Choose exercises that addresses all aspects of physical fitness
Select a range of exercise options that include things such as hand-weights training for strength, walking, jogging or cycling for aerobic fitness and endurance, and yoga or stretching exercises for flexibility.
- Join a class or social sports team
You may like the discipline of attending a regular class or course or joining a social sports team; this can tend to make you try harder than you would on their own.
Check your local newspaper for local fun runs and walks. The sports pages often have ads from local teams and clubs hoping to recruit new members. Community centres and adult education colleges often offer classes in activities such as dance, yoga or pilates as well as classes for the older exerciser. You can also search the internet or Yellow Pages for local sports clubs or outdoor activity groups.
- Choose exercise options that don’t depend on good weather
Having both indoor and outdoor exercise options means that you don’t need to be stuck on the couch when the weather closes in.
- Choose exercise options that can become part of your routine
Some types of exercise are ideal for becoming part of your usual day, eg, getting off the bus or train a stop early could build a 20-minute walk into both ends of your day.
Increasing the incidental activity in your day can bring health benefits, eg, by helping to burn calories and manage your weight. Sweep the driveway rather than power blasting it with a leaf blower, and walk to the shop for milk rather than driving. On work days take the stairs rather than the lift, and walk to the park for lunch.
- Choose an exercise that accommodates any health problems
If you are over 40, or overweight, or you’ve been inactive for a long time, have existing health problems, or old or recent muscle, bone or joint injuries, see you doctor before starting or re-commencing regular exercise.
Being unwell or having an injury does not usually rule out exercise, in fact, it is often a vital part of rehabilitation. However, exercise in this context may mean you need to re-think your approach to physical activity under guidance from your doctor or healthcare professional.
Many people with asthma find they can achieve high levels of fitness through swimming, as the air they are breathing during this exercise is warm and moist and less likely than cold, dry air to trigger an asthma attack. Long-term conditions such as high blood pressure can be improved by appropriate amounts of daily exercise, while the risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes or osteoporosis can be reduced.
People with arthritis are often suited to exercising in a swimming pool as the buoyancy of the water avoids weight-bearing stress being placed on inflamed joints. Weak upper leg muscles and poor balance in some older people can mean that a recumbent stationary bicycle is particularly suited to encouraging exercise without causing discomfort or risking injury.
- Choose to exercise with a friend
Keeping up the motivation to exercise regularly is a challenge for many people.Including your friends in your new-found exercise interest might include booking a court for weekly social tennis, organising a bushwalk with your friends and following it with a barbecue, or arranging to walk each morning with a friend who lives nearby.
- Do you need a personal trainer?
A qualified personal trainer can help you make the most of the time that you have put aside from your busy life for exercise, as well as help motivate you, help you with technique, monitor your progress, adjust your exercise programme in response to your changing fitness level, and offer alternative exercise options to keep up your enjoyment level.
Whichever exercise options or strategies you use to keep motivated, remember to start off slowly and build up gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast: progression in fitness occurs over weeks and months, not days. Increase only one exercise variable at a time — how long your exercise session lasts (duration), how hard you work during the exercise (intensity) or the number of exercise sessions each week (frequency) — and only by a small amount, say 10% each week.
COMMON EXERCISE ACTIVITIES
- The gym
The great thing about the gym is it offers somewhere warm and dry to work out and a really wide range of options. You can run, row, cycle, use weights to train or you can join an aerobics, dance or yoga class. Best of all, when you join most gyms they help you work out an exercise programme to suit your needs, and offer training to use the equipment.
It’s worth visiting a few to find one where you feel comfortable and confident. Don’t be shy about asking the person you have been assigned lots of questions – if you don’t like their manner, ask for someone else. If going to the gym is a real turn off, get yourself a set of hand weights and go through your routine in your backyard or even at the beach!
By exercise standards, walking is gentle on the joints and it’s really economical too! By walking regularly we can improve the condition of our heart and lungs (cardiovascular fitness), work the muscles of the lower body, and probably improve our bone density – very important to help offset osteoporosis.
Although our daily routine sees most of us on our feet at some point, research shows we don’t walk as much as we used to. In the UK, the Government has calculated the number of miles walked since the mid-1980s has fallen by more than 20%. Yet walking is one of the easiest activities to fit into our lives.
Running is another great way to get fit. You don’t need expensive equipment; you can do it anywhere – even on the spot - and make it work around your schedule. Even better, it really works! If you have a history of the following conditions, consider consulting your doctor first: diabetes,chest pain, angina, asthma,epilepsy, high blood pressure. Also consider a visit to your doctor if you have recently undergone surgery, are pregnant, or are overweight, as running can put more stress on your joints than activities such as walking and cycling.
Although anyone can run, if you are new to exercise, or haven’t been physically active for a while, it’s a good idea to take it slowly:
- Start off walking for 20 to 30 minutes, 4 days a week at a comfortable pace.
- Begin alternating 2 to 5 minutes of brisk walking with 2 to 5 minutes of easy walking, gradually increasing the ratio of brisk to easy.
- Once you’ve worked up to 30 minutes of brisk walking, try alternating running and walking, at a pace that is comfortable for you.
- As the weeks pass, increase the ratio of running to walking until you are running for the whole 30 minutes. But just listen to your body and don’t feel pressured to go too fast.
- You should never feel sore or fatigued after exercise.
Swimming is a great all-round exercise and extremely gentle on the joints. If you don’t know how to swim, most pools offer lessons, and for those who have already been bitten by the swimming bug, many pools have squads for training.
Just swimming a few lengths involves most of the major muscle groups, which gives your body a good workout. By moving faster through the water you’ll enjoy an aerobic workout too, and swimming is great for fat-burning. According to BBC Health, research has revealed that exercising in waist-deep water reduces the pressure on joints by 50%, while exercising in chest-deep water reduces it by as much as 75%.
Swimming New Zealand, the national organisation which represents swimming, believes it is fantastic for cross-training when mixed with other exercise.Tanya Cates, fitness and health educator and associate Lecturer at La Trobe University, says: “Using the water for swimming or other ways such as water running can be a lovely way to decrease the amount of impact training you are doing with normal walking or running.”
According to the Arts Council England, the benefits of dance not only include a healthy body, but a healthy mind. Dance can bring a wide range of physical and mental advantages, including:
- Healthier heart and lungs.
- Stronger muscles.
- Stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis.
- Better co-ordination, agility and flexibility.
- Improved general and psychological wellbeing.
- Greater self-confidence and self-esteem.
Don’t worry if your co-ordination isn’t the best, the idea is to enjoy moving to music and you can always do it in the privacy of your own home. However, joining a dance class can be a great way to meet people.