Category Archives: Exercise

How To Prevent Winter Weight Gain

It’s something we spend plenty of time talking about. You gain weight during the winter, in part because outdoor exercise is not so available, and you gain weight. On top of that, you have Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other heavy eating occasions. Yes, there are plenty of people who like to blame a hibernation theory. You’re not a bear, or some other hibernating animal. It’s not the temperatures that lead to weight gain, it’s your habits.

Without question, some outside activities are more fun, and you can still go snowshoeing for example in the winter. In addition, if you’re used to running outside, there’s really no reason why you can’t also run on the treadmill. You don’t have to overeat, and frankly, that is a considerable part of the winter weight gain issue. It’s not about the season, it’s about your dietary and exercise changes. So what do you do?

  1. Focus on maintenance – It’s easy to focus on extreme dieting just for the winter season when it doesn’t have to be that hard. Instead of pigging out throughout the season, it’s better to try sticking to your summer diet as much as possible. Avoid the unnecessary changes you’re used to. It’s not uncommon for people, especially those who are already overweight, to go overboard over the season. Over time, these pounds can add up quickly, and if you simply maintain, you won’t have to deal with this.
  2. Each meal isn’t your last – This sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Especially with holiday and other family meals, we eat like there’s no tomorrow and we have to eat it all RIGHT NOW! You don’t have to, and that’s exactly the kind of eating that leads to weight gain in the first place. Try stopping when you’re full. Stop after one plate. Moderate your own eating.
  3. Learn to say no – You don’t have to eat another piece of cake. You won’t kill your mom if you don’t have another serving of her world famous stuffing. It’s okay to say I’ve had enough. You have the right to leave leftovers and eat it on other days or leave it for others. Have predetermined meals. Random snacking with calories you’re not officially counting as real meals can really do you a serious disservice.
  4. Don’t get stuck in your mistakes – We all make mistakes. We all eat an extra piece of cake on a special occasion. Get over it and move on. Tomorrow is another day. Lunch is another meal. Move on and do better rather than completely crashing and giving up. If you eat too much, consider exercising a little more intensely or longer that day. One meal or one treat is not going to make or break your diet or make you gain all that winter weight you’ll have to shed later on.
  5. Buffets and open bars are not your friend – Believe it or not, the open bar situation is not your friend, nor are buffets. Many of us lose track of how much we eat or drink when there are these open options right in front of us. If you are at a party with that kind of open table or bar, try limiting yourself. Get a smaller plate for food and keep track of your plates of food. Try counting your drinks a little bit more carefully.
  6. Think about why you’re eating – Are you actually hungry? Are you actually craving something? Are you just eating for the sake of eating to keep up with everyone else? Maybe you’re in an eating contest, and you have to win. Some reasons are perfectly valid while others should be avoided. Be conscious of the reasons why you may be eating right now. One of the easiest problems to fall into is emotional eating. The holidays can be a turbulent time, and emotional eating tends to throw healthy habits and better diet control out the window.
  7. Remember to get some sleep – Don’t forget to get your sleep. I know, it’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday fun and various events, both with friends and family. If you get less sleep, you are more likely to get more stressed, not exercise, eat when you don’t need to, and do things that may lead to that weight gain we all dread during the winter.

If you keep these basic factors in mind, you can maintain better control over your weight. You don’t have to be a slave to winter weight gain. Sometimes, it’s as easy as just remembering the habits you already maintain during the other 3 seasons.

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Easy Ways To Get Fit In Half The Time

If you don’t have time for the gym these days, you’re certainly not alone. Not having enough time is the #1 reason for not going to the gym and working out. Yes, it has a ton of benefits such as reduced stress and enhanced mood as well as a greater sex drive, not to mention better weight maintenance to start. However, time can be a real workout killer. So here are ways that you can get fit in half the time.

  1. Superset Exercises

    Supersets are used and then used again and again, because simply put, they work. You can get more done in less time, and you get more out of the back to back exercises alternating between the upper and lower body. You always have one part in recovery and one part in work mode.

  2. Time your rest periods

    It’s hard to maintain focus and stay on task when it comes to your rest periods. You can get caught up on your phone, talking with friends, and look that 1 minute break just turned into 5. Bring a timer with you and start the timer every time you take a rest to make sure that you stay on task.

  3. Just Keep Moving

    I know, it seems pretty simple, and that’s probably because it is. When you keep moving rather than sitting idly, say turning the TV channels, you are actually burning calories and getting things done. Crazy stuff right there. Don’t be afraid to get out there and move.

  4. HIT (High Intensity Training)

    HIT has become all the rage lately in health and exercise news. Exercises like Tabata routines get you working out in short little doses, but yet you are getting incredibly effective results in being able to burn more fat and lose more weight.

  5. Have a backup plan

    It’s easy to have a plan, get to the gym, and find out that the machines you planned to use are all taken. Don’t let this be you. Especially if you are going to the gym during busy hours, make sure that you have a backup plan just in case this very type of thing happens.

Running Is Not Therapy

You’ve heard it a million times. If you’d only exercise, you could fight depression the natural way. Running is my therapy! If I couldn’t run, I’d go nuts. While this sounds appealing, it’s not true. In fact, it’s dangerously misleading.

Yes, any kind of regular exercise gives you a boost in your happy chemicals, but as far as making the difference between you being nuts or not, that’s a far cry from the truth. Running is certainly cheaper than therapy, and it comes with more benefits, but life isn’t that simple. The idea of the old trope I’ve heard of You’ll never need a psychiatrist if you have a good running buddy is not only false, it’s dangerous.

Referring to running as some kind of therapy is one thing. It can still be misleading, but I can see it being a release. Actually saying that you should choose running over professional help if you need it is something else, and it could lead to not getting help when you need it and letting it get worse. It’s much like the Scientologists’ ideas that have led a number of people to go off medications they need. This could lead to suicide, threatening behavior towards others, and various other issues. It’s completely unaware of the facts.

I understand that these people aren’t literally saying choose your running buddy over a psychiatrist if you’re feeling suicidal. But it can easily be taken that way, and it’s another way of saying you’re weak if you can’t take it on your own. And don’t get me wrong, I love running, but it can only do so much. I’ve been there, dependent on the runner’s high until it just wasn’t enough.

For some of us, there is damage running just can’t heal, even if you have the best running buddy in the world. Suggesting that it’s more than that is a disservice to runners and the mentally ill. It trivializes serious problems. When dealing with the truly dark stuff, you shouldn’t be trying to get by with the bare minimum. You should be getting down to the root now before you’re in the hospital after your latest suicide attempt, or worse, you’re dead.

The Best Lunge For A Firmer Butt

Simply changing the angle of your torso can help you activate different areas of your lower body, according to Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University International and author of Strength Training for Fat Loss. So you’re telling me we’ve worked only limited parts of our bodies with exercise, and a simple change of the angle of your torso could change all that?

A traditional lunge in particular involves an upright torso, and it puts the majority of your weight on the front of your thighs, or your quads. Most people’s quads are already pretty strong though. So why are we putting all the work there instead of evening out other muscles?

So what do you do? Tumminello suggests, For an all-around lower-body exercise, I recommend hinging at the hips to angle the torso forward about 45 degrees. By shifting your center of gravity, you end up working your glutes and the back of your thighs more effectively. Tumminello also mentions that it puts less stress on your knees.

You can move around the world, step back instead of forward, or even do lunges to the side for better results. It’s all about simply mixing it up and giving your body angles and approaches it may not be as used to.

Why Your Ab Workouts Aren’t Working

It seems obvious. If you want a toned tummy, you need to do a ton of sit ups, right? That’s what you see on the late night infomercials with all of the different ab machines and videos. Gym goers seem to be apt to use all sorts of ab machines as well, just adding to the seeming evidence that all those exercises and machines are the way to a flat tummy. But don’t assume so fast.

It’s not necessarily what you think.

Science is not as simple as you may imagine. Unfortunately, as science has shown, you can’t pick and choose your body parts so easily. Targeted fat loss and spot reduction is a myth.

A 2007 study from the University of Connecticut had participants use a single-arm strength training program. They didn’t lose fat from one arm. They lost fat in general. In short, you can work one area, but your body will decide how to lose the fat. Likewise, a study at Los Lagos University in Osorno, Chile found that those who completed single leg exercises reduced fat, but it wasn’t necessarily in that one leg.

As JC Deen, creator of JCD fitness puts it, Yes, exercise can burn fat. Trouble is, the body is not selective about where this fat, or fuel, comes from. The pattern in which fat leave your wondrous bodily temple is all up to Mother Nature. Our genetics are making the actual fat loss decisions for us.

This doesn’t mean that ab exercises are necessarily bad. You will be working that muscle. However, if you put your focus on full body exercises that also work your core, you are more likely to exert more energy to burn more calories, and therefore you get greater results than you would with a few crunches.

Workout Supplements That Actually Work

Walk around a health food store, and you will see a plethora of workout supplements that claim to do the impossible, or at least to help you to up your workout results. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of hot air being blown around, and if it sounds too good to be true, it is. But your gym and health food store make millions off your beliefs if you believe a product works.

Now tame your expectations. There is no miracle supplement, but the good news is that there are some that do promote results. There are some that can help you to build more muscle and work out more effectively or be less sore after workouts. It’s the small stuff that counts.

  1. Creatine Monohydrate

    Bodybuilders have been taking all sorts of creatine for years. But if you haven’t heard, many have also suffered the creatine bloat. It works with water to protect and enhance your muscles, aiding your recovery, and not just for serious bodybuilders. For weekend warriors, or according to a recent study, elderly people who want to be in better shape, it could work wonders. An analysis of 10 studies on older adults found that those following a strength training program gained 3 extra pounds of muscle over 3 months when they were using creatine.

    Creatine helps with short bursts of energy, and ultimately, you lift heavier weights, do more reps, and therefore get better results. It won’t do everything for you. But it helps you to complete the work that you need to build more muscle.

  2. Betaine

    Betaine is typically found in whole grains and spinach. Men who took this supplement as part of a 6 week program were able to gain more muscle and reduce body fat percentage. The placebo group in a 2013 study didn’t see any differences. Betaine increases protein synthesis, and this builds muscle after difficult workouts. As you can see here, exercise is still required.

  3. Fish Oil

    Fish oil has been touted for its heart health and cholesterol balancing benefits, and it may also have some real muscle and fitness building benefits to boot. A study in the American Journal Clinical of Nutrition found that overweight subjects taking a daily omega-3 fish oil supplement lost more than the placebo group. As Roussell describes it, When that research first came out, people talked a lot about fish oil being a weight loss supplement, but that’s not quite what’s going on. The exercise regimens in the study were heart-rate based, so the subjects had to hit certain heart rate targets during their sessions. The fish oil artificially lowered their heart rate, so they needed to work harder to hit their targets – and thus burned more calories and lost more weight.

    Definitely not the fitness supplement or weight loss supplement most think of. However, if you think about it, anything that inspires you to work harder is going to inspire you to burn more calories. The heart health benefits are just icing on the cake when you think about it that way.

  4. Quercetin

    Quercetin comes with incredibly powerful antioxidant benefits, fighting inflammation and harmful free radicals. It can also aid in healthy oxygen delivery to your muscles, which could lengthen your workouts. This means more calorie burning and better results. An analysis of 11 studies in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that it had a small, but measurable impact on exercise performance.

  5. Whey Protein

    Of course, there are other protein supplements, and I don’t discourage plant based supplements for protein. However, the large majority of the research has focused on whey protein. A lot of this could be applied to protein supplements with the right amounts of protein in general. This said, protein feeds the muscles and reduces soreness while also rebuilding muscle. Not bad, and yes, protein is an essential nutrient your body needs.

    When it comes to the comparison though, some researchers do believe that whey protein is superior. Seltzer explains, Whey protein is more rapidly absorbed by the body compared to other forms of protein, and it creates more of an insulin response. Insulin is an anabolic (muscle building) hormone. Exercise inherently breaks muscle down. But whey protein will help reverse that and allow for faster recovery. Regardless of what kind of protein you choose, make sure it has higher amounts of protein, and be careful of those that have high doses of carbs.

  6. Caffeine

    It seems like the thing that gets you up and going in the morning, and especially if you’re running a morning workout, guess what’s a great motivator. That said, it’s not just for those of us who are not morning people. Seltzer says, When taken before exercise, we know that caffeine helps improve performance and power output, decreases symptoms of fatigue, helps you work longer and stronger, and acts as a mental focusing agent.

    The difference between getting up and going for your workout at any time of day and not going is huge. However, at any time, if you need that extra boost, caffeine can get you moving. This of course assumes that you don’t have heart problems or other medical issues that would cause more problems for you when taking caffeine.

Do You Need A Sports Bra For Exercise?

You spend extra money just to buy an extra sports bra that is specially made to help you exercise. In one of his videos, Shaun T talks about one participant never wearing a sports bra before, and granted, they are made of material that matches your sports wear. They don’t often have the underwire that your regular bra does, and they definitely keep the girls under control. But do you really need a sports bra? It’s still extra money, why can’t you just exercise sans bra?

Not wearing a sports bra is actually relatively common, especially for women who have smaller breasts. Some believe that a simple built in shelf bra is more than enough, and I will say that in some cases, no bra would be more comfortable. But obviously, we continue, and according to some research, that may actually be healthier.

Susan Nethero, founder of the bra emporium Intimacy says, A huge number of women are experiencing some breast injury from tissue moving up and down or in and out during exercise.

Unfortunately, a lack of the proper breast support, even for smaller chested women, can lead to back pain, tissue damage, stretch marks and sagging, and permanent damage to the connective tissue over time. All of this sounds pretty serious.

To avoid this kind of exercise related injury in women, one of the best things to do is to wear a sports bra. Yes, they can be extremely constrictive, but they hold things together, especially during high intensity workouts. The right support is essential. If you want, you can look for a bra with separate cups and a certain size (say 36B) as opposed to the one boob approach.

You don’t realize the kind of impact a sports bra can have until it may be too late and the damage would already be done.