Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Stay Healthy while on Vacation

Vacation season is here! You deserve a break, after spending the last few months becoming a fitter, healthier you, right? While vacation is a time to relax and take a break from work, stress, and the usual routine, it shouldn’t be a break from your healthy habits.

With a little planning, you can enjoy your vacation and still maintain your current weight and fitness level. Whatever your plans – a family road trip, a tropical cruise, a sightseeing tour, or relaxing on the beach – you can avoid packing on those dreaded vacation pounds by packing some healthy foods and workout gear instead.

If you’re traveling by car, you’ve already spent a lot of time planning your course. We all want to make good time, but it’s also important to schedule several breaks into your itinerary, especially if you have kids:
  • Pack a cooler full of healthy snacks, and even complete meals. Chopped veggies, fresh fruits, bottled water and juice, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn and pretzels make easy travel fare.
  • Don’t skip meals, and try not to go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating. Being famished at mealtime may hinder your ability to make healthy choices and trigger overeating. Plus, constant energy levels will keep you alert at the wheel.
  • Avoid eating full meals in the car. Take time to stop, relax and enjoy your meal. This way, you can pay closer attention to your hunger and satiety signals.
  • Plan exercise and stretching breaks as well. Just three 10-minute pit stops add up to 30 minutes of activity. Go for a quick jog or walk, stretch and run around with the kids. Back in the car, you’ll be more alert and energetic.
  • Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks. While they do give you a short energy burst, the drop when caffeine wears off can make you even more tired. For stable energy levels, drink plenty of water and eat healthy, whole foods that keep blood sugar levels from spiking and dropping.
  • Be wary of fast food and roadside restaurants. If you have no other options, choose the healthiest possible items and keep portion sizes small. One way to avoid excess calories and fat is to hold the mayo, special sauces, cheese and dressings. Also opt for non-breaded items and kid-sized portions. Read up on more "menu watch words" here.
Frequent Flyers
Despite appearances – a plethora of fast foods, snacks and lots of sitting around – flights and airports offer plenty of nutritious food and opportunity for activity, if you know where to look:
  • Try to eat a healthy meal before you arrive. You’ll be less likely to munch on high-calorie snacks just because they’re around or you’re bored.
  • If eating in an airport, it’s worth it to spend the time searching out healthy foods. Look for salads, fresh fruit, vegetable-based soups and baked chicken.
  • While trekking through the airport, take every opportunity for extra movement. Use the stairs, pass on the people movers and carry your own luggage.
  • Instead of sitting around before boarding the plane, use the time to walk. You’ll arrive early enough to fit in 15-20 minutes of walking, so take advantage of it. After all, you’re about to sit for an entire flight.
  • Call the airline 48 hours in advance to see if a meal is offered. Typical in-flight dinners can have as many calories (over 1,000) as a fast food meal, and even more fat! Special order a diabetic, low-fat, vegetarian, child, or religious meal. Or, pack your own lunch to ensure you get exactly what you want.
  • Flying can easily dehydrate you, so drink plenty of water. Drinking one glass per hour in flight will ward off dehydration and jetlag.
  • It’s okay to get up and walk through the aisles a few times when you are feeling antsy during a long flight.
Cruise Control
 Cruises offer so many opportunities for fun and exploring. But they are also known for their rich, gourmet food that is available round the clock. You don’t have to totally deprive yourself to stay in shape. Moderation, along with participation in the many opportunities that cruises offer for fitness, will keep you sailing smoothly:
  • At buffets, fill your plate only once. Load 50% of your plate with vegetables and choose small portions of other foods you want to try.
  • If you splurge and eat a rich meal, try to balance it out with a healthy, vegetable meal. Eat lighter the rest of the day.
  • If ordering dessert, don’t make it a daily habit. And when you do, split it with someone else.
  • Most cruises offer a healthier "spa menu." Order from this when you can. And, when ordering at any meal, be very specific about what you do and do not want. You can omit ingredients and specify how you want something to be cooked (steamed instead of fried).
  • Plan for fitness every day. Cruises usually offer complete gyms, aerobics classes, trainers, running tracks and pools. Go dancing in the disco in the evening and play plenty of beach games when docked. Take a morning walk around the track while enjoying the sights and fresh air.
Staying Inn Shape 
As the demand for healthy eating and exercising rises, hotels are responding to their guests. There’s no reason not to work out or eat right just because you’re away from home. Calling ahead and working with the concierge will help you find all the things you need to make your vacation a healthy one:
  • When checking in, refuse the mini-bar key. Not only are the prices outrageous, but the choices are not the healthiest. Instead, find a nearby health food store or grocery and stock up on good-for-you snacks. If your room/floor has a fridge or microwave, you can also get enough foods to prepare healthy meals. If a coffee maker is all you get, buy instant soups or oatmeal and prepare them with the hot water.
  • If ordering room service, be specific about what you want, whether or not it is on the menu. Most places will accommodate your healthy requests and substitutions.
  • Before leaving home, find out what fitness opportunities the hotel offers. While most will have a pool, others may offer tennis, walking paths, bike rentals and full gyms. Then, pack the appropriate clothes, shoes and gear.
  • If your hotel does not have a gym, ask if they are affiliated with a nearby local gym. Many will offer day passes at a discount for hotel guests.
  • Ask the concierge about healthy restaurants, markets, parks, trails and maps.
  • Design your own hotel room workout. All you need to pack is some lightweight, cheap equipment: resistance bands, a jump rope and a sticky mat. Most bands will come with illustrated exercises. You can also do push-ups, crunches, lunges, squats and triceps dips on a chair.
Remember to pack walking shoes, a swimsuit, exercise equipment and loose, comfortable clothing. And with all that time in the sun, don’t forget shades, a hat and plenty of sunscreen.

It’s worth the time it takes to plan ahead for a healthy trip, but be realistic. You probably won’t lose weight on vacation, but maintenance is possible. Remember, vacation (like exercise) should be fun! Try new things, sightsee on foot, go rock climbing or surfing, and definitely enjoy the good food without total deprivation. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. So, follow these tips to return home with plenty of memories and souvenirs, not extra pounds. 

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why the Scale Lies

Why The Scale Lies
Why The Scale Lies

by Renee Cloe,
ACE Certified Personal Trainer

We’ve been told over an over again that daily weighing is unnecessary, yet many of us can’t resist peeking at that number every morning. If you just can’t bring yourself to toss the scale in the trash, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the factors that influence it’s readings. From water retention to glycogen storage and changes in lean body mass, daily weight fluctuations are normal. They are not indicators of your success or failure. Once you understand how these mechanisms work, you can free yourself from the daily battle with the bathroom scale.

Water makes up about 60% of total body mass. Normal fluctuations in the body’s water content can send scale-watchers into a tailspin if they don’t understand what’s happening. Two factors influencing water retention are water consumption and salt intake. Strange as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more of it your body retains. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will hang onto it’s water supplies with a vengeance, possibly causing the number on the scale to inch upward. The solution is to drink plenty of water.

Excess salt (sodium) can also play a big role in water retention. A single teaspoon of salt contains over 2,000 mg of sodium. Generally, we should only eat between 1,000 and 3,000 mg of sodium a day, so it’s easy to go overboard. Sodium is a sneaky substance. You would expect it to be most highly concentrated in salty chips, nuts, and crackers. However, a food doesn’t have to taste salty to be loaded with sodium. A half cup of instant pudding actually contains nearly four times as much sodium as an ounce of salted nuts, 460 mg in the pudding versus 123 mg in the nuts. The more highly processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a high sodium content. That’s why, when it comes to eating, it’s wise to stick mainly to the basics: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, beans, and whole grains. Be sure to read the labels on canned foods, boxed mixes, and frozen dinners.

Women may also retain several pounds of water prior to menstruation. This is very common and the weight will likely disappear as quickly asit arrives. Pre-menstrual water-weight gain can be minimized by drinking plenty of water, maintaining an exercise program, and keeping high-sodium processed foods to a minimum.

Another factor that can influence the scale is glycogen. Think of glycogen as a fuel tank full of stored carbohydrate. Some glycogen is stored in the liver and some is stored the muscles themselves. This energy reserve weighs more than a pound and it’s packaged with 3-4 pounds of water when it’s stored. Your glycogen supply will shrink during the day if you fail to take in enough carbohydrates. As the glycogen supply shrinks you will experience a small imperceptible increase in appetite and your body will restore this fuel reserve along with it’s associated water. It’s normal to experience glycogen and water weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day even with no changes in your calorie intake or activity level. These fluctuations have nothing to do with fat loss, although they can make for some unnecessarily dramatic weigh-ins if you’re prone to obsessing over the number on the scale.

Otherwise rational people also tend to forget about the actual weight of the food they eat. For this reason, it’s wise to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. Swallowing a bunch of food before you step on the scale is no different than putting a bunch of rocks in your pocket. The 5 pounds that you gain right after a huge dinner is not fat. It’s the actual weight of everything you’ve had to eat and drink. The added weight of the meal will be gone several hours later when you’ve finished digesting it.

Exercise physiologists tell us that in order to store one pound of fat, you need to eat 3,500 calories more than your body is able to burn. In other words, to actually store the above dinner as 5 pounds of fat, it would have to contain a whopping 17,500 calories. This is not likely, in fact it’s not humanly possible. So when the scale goes up 3 or 4 pounds overnight, rest easy, it’s likely to be water, glycogen, and the weight of your dinner. Keep in mind that the 3,500 calorie rule works in reverse also. In order to lose one pound of fat you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in. Generally, it’s only possible to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. When you follow a very low calorie diet that causes your weight to drop 10 pounds in 7 days, it’s physically impossible for all of that to be fat. What you’re really losing is water, glycogen, and muscle.

This brings us to the scale’s sneakiest attribute. It doesn’t just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, water, internal organs and all. When you lose "weight," that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost fat. In fact, the scale has no way of telling you what you’ve lost (or gained). Losing muscle is nothing to celebrate. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns, even when you’re just sitting around. That’s one reason why a fit, active person is able to eat considerably more food than the dieter who is unwittingly destroying muscle tissue.

Robin Landis, author of "Body Fueling," compares fat and muscles to feathers and gold. One pound of fat is like a big fluffy, lumpy bunch of feathers, and one pound of muscle is small and valuable like a piece of gold. Obviously, you want to lose the dumpy, bulky feathers and keep the sleek beautiful gold. The problem with the scale is that it doesn’t differentiate between the two. It can’t tell you how much of your total body weight is lean tissue and how much is fat. There are several other measuring techniques that can accomplish this, although they vary in convenience, accuracy, and cost. Skin-fold calipers pinch and measure fat folds at various locations on the body, hydrostatic (or underwater) weighing involves exhaling all of the air from your lungs before being lowered into a tank of water, and bioelectrical impedance measures the degree to which your body fat impedes a mild electrical current.

If the thought of being pinched, dunked, or gently zapped just doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. The best measurement tool of all turns out to be your very own eyes. How do you look? How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? Are your rings looser? Do your muscles feel firmer? These are the true measurements of success. If you are exercising and eating right, don’t be discouraged by a small gain on the scale. Fluctuations are perfectly normal. Expect them to happen and take them in stride. It’s a matter of mind over scale.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

25 Things to Remember on Your Road to Weight Loss Success

25 Things to Remember on Your Road to Weight Loss Success

1. The only thing between you and your goal is Y-O-U!
2. Practice makes perfect; soon enough healthy habits will be second nature.
3. Food is simply food; not friend, not foe…just food.
4. Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.
5. This isn’t a race; slow down and enjoy the ride.
6. Exercise is not your enemy. Fear of it is.
7. Excuses leave room for error—and you don’t have time for either.
8. Do you need it? Or do you want it? There’s a big difference.
9. Usually, saying “I can’t” really means “I won’t.”
10. Positivity promotes productivity; believe in yourself and your body will follow.
11. You are your harshest critic—be a fan once in a while.
12. There’s strength in numbers and no valor in being a lone loser. Ask for help.
13. Compliments are meant to be enjoyed, not endured.
14. Toot your own horn once in a while, too; you deserve it.
15. Reaching goal is a dream come true, but it takes doing—not dreaming—to get there.
16. ‘Til death do you part—there’s no quick fix for your weight…you have to live it for life.
17. Don’t let others’ opinions “weigh” you down; nothing good ever came of self-hatred.
18. You didn’t put this weight on overnight; don’t expect it to come off overnight.
19. Don’t dwell; if you fall off the wagon, get right back on and look forward.
20. Walk before you run; set attainable mini-goals along the road to the big one.
21. Always be honest with yourself.
22. Tune out temptation; listen to the angel on your shoulder, not the devil.
23. Rain checks are good; it’s smart (not weak) to avoid situations that test your resolve.
24. Being selfish is okay; do this for YOU.

And finally…

25. Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. (You’ve heard it before, but it always warrants repeating!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Still Here

I've just been a lot side tracked. This week is Spring Break so everything is all wacky. I have been in the back yard making it all pretty to enjoy for myself plus for DH retirement party which is in July sometime.

The MIL is still being on her best behavior which really makes for an amazing day ... week ... year. I'm so shocked that she's still being so nice to me & I believe we're working on week # 3. She hasn't started up any rumors, she hasn't "forgotten" to take her meds which makes her crazy, she hasn't "lost" something & blamed someone for taking it ... it's just been really nice. I haven't had adult conversation throughout the days in so long I almost don't know how to react.

My weight is staying the same which I can't complain about. I only exercised 1 time last week & so far ... besides yard work yesterday & today I haven't exercised. My food hasn't been to crazy. I did have pizza on Saturday & a few cookies & milk a lot of the days but other then that ... I'm doing well with my portions. I do need to start getting all my water in though. The one thing I have never had a problem with I now can't seem to get my daily amount in. I don't know what that's all about.

I started taking a weigh loss pill. I don't know w hy I thought it would work but I figured I've tried everything else I should go for this one to. It's called Lipozene It's suppose to curb your need for food, melt belly fat ... all of which I must say works. I've had a couple people tell me it's because it's filled with fiber (the ingredients doesn't have that in it). I could care less if it's full of fiber ...w hatever is in that little blue pill is keeping me from raiding the fridge at night & I also no longer feel the need for snacks in between meals. I'm still taking my regular fiber pills that the dietician suggested. The only thing I can tell taking those is I have more BM's then I do if I forget to take them.

Oh ... do you love giving gift baskets but you think their to pricey to buy & it's aggrivating to buy the stuff & make it yourself? Well have I got the perfect way to help you out. My long time friend has taken her talent of gift giving & made it into a business. I say it's about damn time. She's such a talented woman & she makes these beautiful gifts for all of us for nothing. Anyway ... check her out. I promise you her baskets are filled with so much love you'll be able to feel it the moment you touch it. You also won't have to worry about paying an arm & leg for anything cause she is a lot cheaper than any store bought item. Want her web site? Click StacyLynnZ Gifts & Gift Baskets

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another Fitness Myth Debunked

Another Fitness Myth Debunked

Somewhere along your journey to fitness, whether in the gym, reading the latest books, or talking with your friends, you'll hear a lot of advice about exercise--not all of which is true.

Fitness Myth:
You can take weight off of specific body parts by doing exercises that target those areas.

Fitness Truth:
This concept is called "spot training" and unfortunately, it doesn't burn fat. When you lose weight, you are unable to choose the area in which the reduction will occur. Your body predetermines which fat stores it will use. For example, doing sit-ups will strengthen you abs but will not take the fat off of your stomach. Similarly, an activity like running burns fat all over your body, not just your legs. You can, however, compliment a balanced exercise program with a selection of weight training exercises to gradually lose weight and tone the body.

Exercise Extra
You need to burn off 3500 calories to lose 1 pound. Aim for 3-4 days of cardio per week, and watch the fat melt away!

Friday, April 11, 2008

VIDEO: Lower Body Stretching Routine

VIDEO: Lower Body Stretching Routine Stretch Your Legs While Standing Up -- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness InstructorFor more information about this video, please scroll down to read the text below the video player.

About This Video

This video will help you stretch your lower body without any equipment. Coach Nicole will take you through one short set of 6 different stretches that target your thighs (quads, hamstrings, inner thighs) and calves. You can perform these stretches when standing up—just make sure your muscles are warmed up first!
  • Length: 4 minutes
  • Equipment: None
  • Type of Workout: Flexibility (stretching)
  • Muscles Worked: Lower body (quads, hamstrings, calves, inner thighs)
  • Fitness Level: Beginning to advanced; since this routine takes place in a standing position, it may also be suitable for individuals with limited mobility.
  • Impact: None
  • Safety Precautions: Perform this routine only after your muscles are warm, such as after your warm up or after your workout. Always stretch through your own range of motion, never to the point of pain. Avoid bouncing.
Viewing Tips
  • You can pause or rewind the video at any time if you need a break or need to watch for closer instructions. We suggest watching the video one time through before attempting the routine.
  • While this workout will take you through just one set of each stretch, you can replay the video one or two more times if you wish.
  • This video does not include music, but you can play a stereo or CD in the background as you workout. Just make sure you can still hear the instructions.
  • To play the video, simply click on the Play button (bottom left corner) to start. Below the video screen, you'll find buttons for Pause, Stop, and volume control.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Help Teens Stay Slim

Help Teens Stay Slim

Experts have long suspected that the empty calories from sugary drinks like soda are playing a key role in the growing childhood obesity epidemic. So what can a parent do to fight back? Try stocking the fridge with low-calorie drink options instead, say researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston.

In a study, they found that simply replacing high-calorie drinks like soda and sugary fruit-flavored drinks with low-calorie options like diet soda, low-cal lemonade, iced tea, and water led to an 82 percent reduction in the amount of sugar teens consumed. Plus, the more overweight teens who participated in the study dropped an average of half a pound a week simply by switching to low-cal beverages! Talk about effortless weight loss!

Next time you head for the market, bring your teens along and have them help choose which low-calorie drinks they'd like to try. Experts say involving your kids, and making healthier foods their choice, is key to making this easy change stick.

I know I'm an adult as all of my readers are but we really do need to take care of our childrens health as well. For so long I made for sure they got in their veggies but honestly ... that's about as far as I got with them. I didn't make them drink water ... I didn't monitor their soda ... snacks .... or even exercise. My punishment is I now have a son with weight problems. We are getting on the straight and narrow together though. I let both kids pick out their 100 calorie pack any other snack they have to read the nutrition lable to see what 1 serving is. It's working ... their eating less .... drinking more water (with flavoring but I'm ok with that) ... and they have been doing walk videos with me on days where they don't get a lot of outdoor play.

As for my diet ... I'm not doing to bad on the food part of things but for some reason I'm having a rough time fitting in a long span of cardio time. MIL is still living with us & it looks like she is here for the long haul. Thankfully everything is going wonderful. I'm hoping for a good weigh in tomorrow since my food has been in check. It might not be much but as long as it isn't a gain I'll be happy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Exercising on an Empty stomach

Question: I heard that when you exercise on an empty stomach (such as first thing in the morning) you'll burn more fat. Is this true?

Expert Answer:
In the morning, your body has gone 8+ hours since eating or drinking anything. Your blood sugar levels are lower at this point, and your body doesn't have adequate fuel to workout optimally. Usually, experts recommend eating something--even if it's just a small snack--within 2 hours before working out. When your body doesn't have proper fuel in it, many problems can result, the lesser being that your workout performance suffers, and the greater being something like passing out during exercise.

However, every body is different. Some people can workout on an empty stomach with no problems, while others would end up very sick and feel the negative effects of it. When I workout in the morning, I always eat (and drink) something first thing after I wake up. Usually by the time I start my workout it doesn't hurt my stomach to exercise with a bit of food on it.

Also, I think there might have been a bit of confusion here about metabolic rates in the morning. Eating breakfast in the morning has a positive effect on your metabolism, but exercising on an empty stomach does not. Some people say that it will burn fat stores, but overall, the number of calories your burn during a workout (regardless of where they come from) is much more important. Plus, fat burns in the carbohydrate flame. This means that exercising without eating (such as after "fasting" during sleep) your body does not burn fat efficiently, or sometimes at all.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

VIDEO: 12-Minute Pilates Abs Workout

VIDEO: 12-Minute Pilates Abs Workout Mat Exercises to Whittle Your Middle -- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness InstructorFor more information about this video, please scroll down to read the text below the video player.

Take this video with you! Click here for a printable version of Coach Nicole's Pilates Abs Workout!
About This Workout

This workout will help you strengthen (and stretch) your abdominals, obliques and lower back—without any equipment. Coach Nicole will take you through one short set of 11 Pilates exercises (plus stretches) for a complete core challenge. If you're new to Pilates, we recommend that you watch our short Intro to Pilates video first.
  • Length: 12 minutes
  • Equipment: Body weight, mat (optional, for cushioning)
  • Type of Workout: Strength training (toning) & flexibility
  • Muscles Worked: Core (abs, obliques, lower back)
  • Fitness Level: Beginning to advanced; since this workout has few transitions, it may also be suitable for individuals with limited mobility.
  • Impact: Low-impact
  • Safety Precautions: A mat will help cushion your body while lying on the floor. Shoes are optional during this Pilates workout. Always work at your own pace and level, using modifications whenever necessary.
  • Tracking Your Workout: If you'd like to add this video to the Strength Training section of your Fitness Tracker, you can add it as a "user-entered" exercise. Simply list the video name as the name of your new exercise, and click to "add" it to your tracker.
  • Extra Tip: Only complete as many exercises as you can using good form, taking a break as needed. As you progress, try to finish the entire video.
Viewing Tips
  • You can pause or rewind the video at any time ifyou need a break or need to watch for closer instructions. We suggest watching the video one time through before attempting the workout.
  • While this workout will take you through just one set (4-10 repetitions) of each exercise, they all focus on the same muscle groups. Doing multiple sets of this video is not necessary, especially since Pilates exercises are not designed to work muscles to complete fatigue. 
  • This video does not include music, but you can play a stereo or CD in the background as you workout. Just make sure you can still hear the instructions.
  • To play the video, simply click on the Play button (bottom left corner) to start. Below the video screen, you'll find buttons for Pause, Stop, and volume control.

Friday, April 4, 2008