Friday, September 24, 2010
Since joining the health and fitness world I have been privy to lots of great advice, inspiration and education but some of the most valuable information I have gotten comes from those just starting on their journey.
There is something very genuine and exciting about a person that has resolved to improve their lives through health and fitness. And although those of us that have been walking the walk are tempted to guide them, sometimes we are all best served to just listen to them.
One of my favorite things to discuss with beginners is the ways they’ve altered their favorite foods. One friend was terribly addicted to sodas, consuming at least 2 liters a day. Realizing she had to relinquish her favorite drink that cost her about 800 calories per day, she replaced it with sparkling water. To give it some flavor she would add a splash of cranberry or orange juice or a squeeze of lime. Another friend stopped adding the usual breadcrumbs to his meatloaf and replaced it with oatmeal.
Food is not the only place people had to get creative in order to improve their overall health. Being an exercise enthusiast I was particularly interested in how these dedicated individuals took the same old exercises and made them work for them.
A busy single working mom of two decided to incorporate exercise throughout the day instead of just dedicating a block of time to fitness. The exercise novice start off every morning on the floor. She would literally roll out of bed and do 20 push-ups. While the coffee brewed, she would do 20 squats. At the office, she would park far then use the stairs. She would do jumping jacks in the stairwell and more squats in the break room.
Although there are a lot of plans and systems out there designed to help you get in shape, nothing will ever compete with your common sense and creativity. Remember, the best way to insure your diet and fitness plan will work is to customize it to you and your lifestyle!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
If there is one thing I am not a fan of is rushing to lose weight or get in shape because of an upcoming special event. My issue with this common and well-intentioned practice is that it does not promote long-term results. You go through all the work and then as soon as the event comes and goes, so does your fitness routine.
This is why your goal should be one that is on-going. As a runner, I try to register for a 5k every couple of months and when I want to really challenge myself, I sign up for a 10 miler. Setting these goals is what keeps me on the road year-round.
Goals do not all have to be races or fitness challenges. You can choose from a variety of activities throughout the year that you can incorporate even during the holidays and vacations.
One great place to start is by checking out any local/seasonal events in your area. Races are great because they are open to people in all fitness levels and they provide a relaxed but energized environment. Another way to incorporate fitness without exclusively focusing on exercise is to go hiking, canoeing and rock climbing. And if you are going on vacation you may enjoy a walking tour of the city or country you are visiting. Museum tours are a great and educational way to add miles to your time away. A good rule of thumb is to find something you can do outdoors and that usually has some physical fitness benefit.
We all need goals to help us stay on track and although a wedding or class reunion are legitimate ways to get motivated, you need something that will help keep your commitment to health in the forefront. This year I signed up to run my first half marathon and in spite of it being several months away I’ve already started training for it. As I prepare for the big day, I visualize what the experience may be like. I do not have the same pressures of having to fit into a certain size dress because since my goal has been fitness driven my weight is no longer an issue.
Friday, September 10, 2010
We have all seen the commercials selling those exercise ‘devices’ that you strap on to a body part and it promises to work your muscles for you. And how about the “delicious” shake that promises weight loss. It better be delicious if that is all you are going to ingest for the next 30 to 60 days!
The secret I want to let you in on is that weight loss and fitness are not as difficult as these diet pushers want you to believe. The average person is advised to eat between 1800 to 2000 calories a day. If you were to count those calories you would see that it is a great deal of food. Why would you replace your caloric intake with a shake filled with chemicals when you can take in those calories by eating actual food? The benefits of choosing food over a shake are endless but mostly you are training yourself how to eat properly in order to fuel, not just feed your body. And fitness is the other thing these quick-fix-gurus want to demonize. This is why we are constantly seeing commercials for these muscle stimulation devices suggesting you can relax on the couch while your abs get a workout but the fine print advices you to exercise for best results.
The bottom line here is that we have to come to terms with the fact that health and fitness are not going to be as easy as doing nothing, but it certainly is not as difficult as so many of these advertisers want us to believe. If I had to give anyone advice, regardless of where they are in their journey to weight loss and physical fitness is to begin by making friends with food and fitness. Determine the recommended caloric intake for your body and then introduce some exercise, be it walking or aerobics, and then keep doing that! I don’t think that is so hard, and it’s far more delicious and rewarding than a shake on the couch with some vibrating heating pad strapped to your stomach!
Friday, September 3, 2010
So you are either fit and fabulous or well on your way but you see your spouse, children or friends that would benefit from the healthy choices you’ve been making and think “how do I get them motivated to follow my lead?”
The first thing you should NOT do is nag or brag. I have long believed that nagging and belittling is not a good motivator because it doesn’t evoke people’s free will into changing unhealthy habits. Being direct in a kind and honest way will probably get you further than making the person feel bad about themselves. The key is to set them up for SUCCESS not failure.
As you prepare to engage your fitness-challenged friend keep these 3 things in mind:
1) You should be focused on the person’s overall health rather than just the physical appearance. Looking good is a natural byproduct of a change to a healthy lifestyle, but it should not be the only goal. Often people give up when they fail to fit into those skinny jeans within a few weeks into their program. If the focus is placed on health versus appearance, your friend will be less likely to quit when they experience those normal negative body-issue days!
2) Encourage them to adopt eating and fitness habits that are well within their comfort zone – not yours. Just because a diet and exercise routine works for you does not mean it will work for your friend. Be supportive of whatever positive efforts they make in order to get healthy and fit.
3) One of the best way you can help a person to seek a healthier lifestyle is through example and encouragement. Share with them your journey. Your ups and downs. The benefits you have experienced now that you are making healthier choices such as feeling better, experiencing less aches and pains, better flexibility. And share with them how you conquer those set-backs and temptations.
By being their mentor and biggest cheerleader you are more likely to inspire someone you love to a happier, healthier and longer life.