Monday, March 29, 2010

Clean Up For Heart Health!

Did you ever think a personal trainer would tell you to do housework for better heart health? That's exactly what this trainer is saying to you!

Don't get me wrong, just doing housework isn't going to make you look like a super model. It's not going to allow you to go out and run a marathon or play an intense game of basketball without being sore the next day. But if your interest is simply to lower your risk of degernerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, get moving!

It's not limited to just housework. Yard work, gardening, repair work and anything that gets you up and moving, are important contributors to disease prevention.

Physical activities such as these will also burn calories. No, not as much as a formal exercise program, but don't count them out. Anytime you're up and moving, you are burning calories!

As a beginner, your goal should be to burn about 150 calories per day, or 1,000 per week. You also want to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week. This can include your housework, yard work or other physical activities.

So, if your goal is to lower your risks of disease, simply start moving more. You don't have to become a runner or a bodybuilder (as some people may have that belief). Just get up and get going! Even better than that, put some fun music on, it will naturally inspire you to move quicker and thus burning more calories.

Be creative and start thinking of ways you can add more physical activity to your day -- start today!

What's your favorite way of burning calories? We'd love to hear from you, leave us a message below!

Need some ideas on how to get the family involved? Check out these ideas.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why Water?

Everyone knows drinking water is important, right? But do you know why it's important to drink, especially when you're exercising -- and when you're trying to lose weight? Probably not. Our makeup is 70-75% water, so you know it's got to be important to drink!

When you learn exactly why it's important to stay hydrated, it makes it easier to reach for the glass of water instead soda. I know it did for me!

A few facts you may not know about hydration:

*A 10% reduction of water in the body can make a person ill. A loss of 20% of water can cause death. Yikes!

*We can only survive a few days without water, and only hours in a hot environment! Our body can't store or produce water, it must get it from outside sources on a regular basis.

*A reduction of water means a concentration of blood. 5% loss of water equals 10% loss from blood! That's bad news because thicker blood is more likely to clot, less able to deliver oxygen to the brain, muscles & other tissues.

This is where it gets really interesting:

*Water is responsible for actions in energy production. If your kidneys don't have enough water, the liver is forced to to detoxify. This means that other functions the liver does are less effective -- including metabolism of food!

*Do you believe that dehydration can cause water retention? You should. When dehydrated, even a little, the body slows down the elimination of water, which results in water retention.

*Water helps with workout recovery by aiding fat based fueling of muscles. When you're dehydrated, that process is slowed down.

Starting to see how dehydration can effect workouts & weight loss? Need more? Read on...

*Water helps energy storage by being stored next to glycogen. When there's not enough water in the body, extra glucose will remain in the blood stream until reaching the liver where it's stored as FAT! This means you can actually get FATTER when you don't drink enough water!

*So, if you're dieting, you must drink plenty of water. This will help the liver effectively metabolize body fat.

If you're an active person, you must drink more than inactive people. We all know that.

*A reduction of 4-5% water may result in a drop in physical performance of 20-30%!

If you're a competitor, you know this is a HUGE deal! It's hard enough to exercise on a regular basis, but poor performance makes it even harder to continue. Don't make it hard on yourself!

The rule of thumb for drinking water when being active:

*2 hours prior to activity, drink 17-20oz
*Drink 7-10oz every 10-20 minutes
*Drink 16-24oz for every pound lost following activity

One more point -- don't rely on thirst. Start drinking before your thirsty and well after you feel quenched.

Bottom line: drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drink more when you're active or dieting. Drink even if you don't feel thirsty.

Well, the next time you go to grab a soda, think twice and instead go for a tall glass of water. Heck, why not grab one now!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Play Games

Family time is so important to raising kids and growing together as a family. As a parent it is a great feeling teaching your kids about new things and creating fun memories. Now days, though, many of these family times are stuck on the couch in front of the TV.

Over the past several years there has been a big push for family game night. This is a great way to not watch TV, however does not always get everyone moving. As a parent you want to your children to be healthy too.

Family game night doesn't always mean gathering around the traditional board game. In warmer months there are many outdoor activities that can be done as a family. Some cost a little money or requires some sort of equipment but overall these activities are relatively cheap. Miniature golf or the driving range are inexpensive ways to spend time together moving outside.

Some activities that can bring you back to childhood are playing tag, running bases, catch, four-square, kickball, wiffleball, volleyball and shoot hoops. Why not have a jump rope or hula hoop contest? It's fun on a hot summer’s day to swim or even just play in the sprinkler, possibly have a water fight. What about simply going for a walk together?

There are those days where you just do not want to leave the house, you can gather around the table and play “21 fitness”:

Supplies: pen, paper and 2 dice, 2 different colors (if you don't have 2 different colors use nail polish to mark one die).

Designate one die as the exercise die and the other as the number die. The exercise die 1- push-up; 2- crunches; 3- jumping jacks; 4- squats; 5- lunges; 6- dips.

Roll both dice do the number of exercises on the number die and the exercise that appears on the exercise die. The first one to do all 6 exercises 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times wins. In the meantime you get a little workout.

Gather up the family and have a fun exercised day! Click here for more ideas on family fitness.

Written by Angie Conway, OnTrack Fitness instructor. Read more of Angie's posts here.

Have a favorite family game? Share it with us, we'd love to hear from you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Are You Working Too Hard?

In my experience as a personal trainer, I've noticed there's two types of newbie exercisers: Those that don't work hard enough and those that work too hard.

Don't fall into either of these traps! Knowing how hard you're working will ensure that you get fit injury free, actually see progress and maximize your workout time.

Below are 3 ways to determine how hard you're working:

Percentage of Heart Rate Max
220-your age=estimated maximum heart rate (HR)
Estimated maximum HR X % (take it X 55% - 85%)=Target HR range

Once you've calculated your range, work within the percentages.

If you're just starting out, work on the lower end of the range. As you get fitter, you'll need to adjust how hard you're working. Your body will also be able to work at the higher end of the range.

Talk Test
During your cardio workout, you should be able to speak but not sing. If you can't speak, you're working too hard. If you can sing (or say a full sentence without feeling a little breathless), you're not working hard enough.

Rate of Perceived Exertion
0 No exertion
.5 Very, very weak
1 Very weak
2 Weak
3 Moderate
4 Somewhat strong
5-6 Strong
7-9 Very Strong
10 Extremely strong
* Maximal

These numbers are based on how you feel during your exercise, based on how hard your breathing, how your muscles feel, etc. This is a great way to learn to listen to do your body.

When your a newbie, work somewhere between numbers 3-5.

So, which one of these tests should you use? I suggest a combination of all of them at first. Find your Target Heart Rate Range. As you're working within your target heart rate, use the talk test, plus listen to how your body feels to learn your Rate of Perceived Exertion. As you get used to it, use the Rate of Perceived Exertion/Talk Test more than relying on the Target Heart Rate.

As you get fit, you can start doing workouts with intervals in them...we'll discuss this in another blog.

The next time you do your favorite cardio workout, try one (or all) of these. If you're an over-worker, you may be surprised at how much more enjoyable your workout become. If you're an under-worker, you'll be pleased with the results!

Questions? Write us in the comment section below, we'll get back with you!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Feed off Their Energy!

Don't just sit there...get moving! Better yet, get that family moving, too!!!

Most people with kids would agree that the boundless energy and high activity level our kids maintain can sometimes be exhausting. Have you ever wished you could bottle up some of that energy and use it for yourself... maybe you can!

It's easy to get home from a long day and want to just take a minute to sit down while an excited child is pulling at you to play catch in the backyard. What if instead of suggesting that they find a sibling or neighbor kid to play with, you went out yourself and tossed the ball around? What if instead of just going out to play catch you kicked it up a notch and said I'll play catch after I race you to the end of the street and back? It's hard to fit in opportunities to get your heart pumping, a race to the end of the street would do it!

Finding time for physical activity is becoming increasingly difficult. Instead of working around the schedules of your children to fit it a workout, why not include them and let their energy and enthusiasm spread to you? This kind of thinking can be applied to children of all ages.

Babies - Try putting your baby in their infant car seat (strapped in of course) and do curls up an down. If one arm is too difficult use both arms. Your baby's cute little face looking up at you, and maybe even smiling will be motivation to keep going. You could also swing them back in forth mimicking the motion of their swing. Lots of baby's enjoy their swing, why not swing them yourself?

Toddlers/young children - Piggy back rides!!!! Who doesn't like a piggy back ride? Toss your kid on your back and run around around the family room, the backyard and even go up the stairs! This is sure to bring squeals of delight from your little one.

Play airplane. Lay on your back on the floor and hold your son or daughter under the armpits while supporting the rest of their body with your feet or knees. Go up and down and side to side. Just watch out for drool...

Another suggestion is a lap ride. Sit on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you and put your child on your lap. Sing songs while bouncing your legs up and down. This is sure to elicit giggles and sore thighs or both.

Older children - Go bowling, play active Wii games, go on nature hikes. If your child is in an organized sport, practice with them instead of just driving them to and from practice. Or if you have to drive them to practice and wait, spend the time walking around the park. Maybe you can find another parent who will want to join you.

Go out in the yard and be the goalie, the catcher, the blocker. Go to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls or go to the batting cage. Don't just stand there and watch, take a few swings yourself!! Take them to the pool and swim with them. Offer to go on a run or walk with them on the weekends. The possibilities are endless and spending active time with will no doubt turn into quality time as well.

All ages - A family walk around the neighborhood or bike ride through a park is always a great activity to keep everyone moving. Depending on the ages and abilities of your kids, I imagine they will want to keep going and going and going... and you will have to go with them. Now that's motivation!

Feeding off of the energy of your kids is a fun way to get the whole family moving. Instead of making excuses, follow their lead! Their energy can be contagious.

Need some more ideas? Go to FitCity for great activity & nutrition tips for the family!

Do you have a favorite activity you play with your family? We'd love to hear it, take a moment and leave a comment!

A Unique Perspective

Believe it or not, personal trainers have the same struggles as everyone else. Some mornings we wake up and say 'I don't feel like exercising'. We have bad days, grumpy families and weeks that seem to drag on forever. Weight problems? Sure, sometimes! We've discussed this in our previous blogs.

Just like you may be, we struggle with health problems that interfere with every day life, including our fitness goals.

I've had first hand experience with this. I've been a personal trainer for a long time, a fitness nut since the age of 13 and I've always put a focus on my health. But the last few years have been a struggle for me with my health. It started with not being able to take a deep breath, I couldn't sleep and was constantly fatigued.

I went from being able to run 8-12 miles without blinking, to barely finishing a 15 minute walk. I mysteriously gained 40 pounds very quickly and couldn't take it off no matter how much I watched my calorie intake.

I went through several doctors (including trips to the hospital) and got many diagnoses: panic attacks, asthma, anxiety, etc.

Several medications later, no change. A few years go by and I was still pursuing better health, still miserable! Finally, a breakthrough came with the diagnosis of severe allergies, a 'mystery virus' and respiratory Candida (causing the weight gain and the breathlessness). I got on allergy shots and meds, which helped a little but I still didn't feel good, still very fatigued.

Six plus years later, I found a doctor with answers! Tests found that adrenal fatigue was the underlying cause of all of my issues, listed above plus some others she found.

Adrenal fatigue caused these issues for me: hypothyroid, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, allergies, respiratory Candida, chronic coughing, hypoglycemia, insomnia and my mysterious virus floating around...

So after six plus years,...numerous doctors and one telling me I'll 'never be normal and just deal with it', this is what sticks out in my mind: My newest doctor said 'You are going to feel better. There's alway hope.' You know what, I believe that.

This story isn't for me to feel sorry for myself. It's not to say I have health issues, so I'm 'sickly'. Quite the opposite! Just when I felt like I was never going to feel better, I was led to someone who gave me hope!

I'm so thankful for many things. I'm thankful that my friend referred this doctor to me, for a doctor that cares and a supportive family.

I'm not thankful for these health problems, but I am thankful that God has given me a unique perspective on life. I know this makes me a better trainer and a better person.

I pray I can be a voice of hope to people who may be struggling themselves. I want to be a good example to everyone I contact (definitely a work in progress!). Never give up. Don't settle for a life of mediocrity, don't let others tell you that you can't be the best you. Keep pushing, keep looking. If you are unhealthy, take action and find help! Take control and don't listen to Negative Nellies!

Everyone has areas in life where they struggle, and everyone that we come in contact with is dealing with something. We may not ever know what their struggles are, but whether we like it or not, everyone is an example. We each choose to be a bad, negative example, or a good positive example of hope. I'm choosing to be positive, which direction will you choose?

Do you have a similar story to share? Have a question? We'd love to hear from you, write your comment below. If you're enjoying our blog, please follow us!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Don't be a Chicken

Have you ever been at the gym and seen those men that spend all of their time working on their pecs? If you've spent any time in a gym, I'm sure you've witnessed it. These are the guys that are always on the bench press, pushing up more weight than seems humanly possible.

Take another look, notice anything odd? If you look, a lot of these guys look big and tough on top, but they're walking around on tiny little chicken legs!

These guys are missing the point here. Working just one or two muscle groups is going to not only make you look awkward (think big top, chicken bottom), but it can eventually lead to more serious issues such as skeletal imbalances and injuries.

Building a strong, healthy body takes work, obviously. Working on each component of fitness will ensure you're well rounded, that you're heart and lungs are healthy, your skeletal system is protected and your muscles are strong and flexible. Today we're going to take a deeper look into muscular fitness, specifically talking about major muscle groups.

When you're starting on a muscular fitness program, the first step is to become familiar with what the major muscle groups are. This will help determine what exercises to do when you're working out.

When you work on muscular strength & endurance (both are part of muscular fitness), it's very important to spend fairly equal time working on these muscle groups through resistance training. Dumbbells, resistance machines (at the gym or a home gym), resistance bands/tubes and your own body weight are all great choices for resistance training.

I've listed each group below, in the general terms. Remember each major muscle group is made up of more than one individual muscles.:

Upper Body:
Chest (or pecs)
Shoulders (or deltoids)

Lower Body:

One thing to note: If you're working all major muscles in one workout, you want to work largest to smallest muscle groups, upper and lower.

If you're new to this, is can be a little bit scary -- but don't let those big guys in the gym intimidate you! Just think, if you follow what I've given you here, you'll be more well-rounded than them! You'll have a 'leg up' on them, so to speak...

So, if you want to be strong, have lower body fat and have less aches & pains, work those muscles!

Look for our upcoming posts with ideas for exercises in each muscle group!

Let us know what you think about this blog! Did you find it helpful? Any questions? Post a comment, I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What You Can Learn From My Clients Part 2

2. Your Attitude Points the Way

This point is common sense really, but it needs to be pointed out. When I work with a client with positive outlook on their fitness goals, they're more likely to succeed.

Making a healthy lifestyle change is difficult and there's going to be some ups and downs, plateaus and times when you just want to give up. If your attitude is one that says this goal you're working toward is worth the time and effort, you're more likely to stay consistent; and consistency is key!

My clients that have a positive attitude, reach their goals because they can look past the days that are hard -- yes, they have bad days (you will too, count on it)! But they keep looking forward. They know what they're doing right now is affecting what they'll feel & look like in the future.

On the other side, some clients I've worked with have had a negative attitude toward exercise, or life in general. It's really difficult for them to succeed, not impossible, but hard on them (and me!). Making big changes in life is hard, and facing it with a negative attitude will make it almost impossible. A negative attitude is saying 'I don't believe I'll be successful'. If you don't believe it, it's not going to happen...

If you're experiencing negative thoughts about your quest for weight loss or a healthier lifestyle, ask yourself why you're doing this. Come up with several positive reasons to make this change. For example, becoming healthy & fit in order to take an active role in your kids lives, is a great reason! Losing weight to finally be happy, is not the greatest of reasons (you'll find that this is an empty rat race style of looking for happiness).

Keep in mind that, life, in general, has it's ups & downs. There's always going to be struggles that get in the way of what we're trying to accomplish. If you go into a change acknowledging this, the hard times are going to be easier to deal with.

It's difficult to change, yes, but it's worth it in the end, and that's what we all need to focus on every day! Going through life with a strong, healthy body, is a great feeling!