No, this is obviously not me (the blonde hair) but I would be this excited about all those workout pants!
This is definatley a Non-Blog blog and I will tell you why. I don't just get here and spout out all sorts of blogging stuff to you all. I have been following lots of fit bloggers lately and I'm not sure where they find the time and energy to post several times a week AND some 2 - 3 times a day! I'm not sure anyone wants to hear all that much from me, that I have that much to say and that you have that much time to read it all! So, I try to chat when there's something on my mind, a question I have had or something has come up in a class or an area I have researched. It's been pretty quiet this week, as you can tell.
On Monday I was thinking of motivation, which lead me to think about all of the "fit friends" I have and what they do so keep it fresh, tips they follow and what they do to stay fit (other than work their booties off!). I came across an article that supports something I do ALL the time (that I always think of as bad) as a habit of fit people. It's really easy and for all of you who know me and see me daily can attest - I really do this! (Nevermind that I really DO have "real" clothes in my closet! Maybe I just want to save them for later. . .
FIRST TIP OF FIT FOLKS:
PUT ON YOUR WORKOUT CLOTHES!
If you want to establish good habits and really want to be a fit person it all starts with one easy step: Getting dressed in your workout clothes! This works for me EVERY day - and especially on those days I'm just not too motivated to really work out. I know if I put the clothes on at some point during the day they will be put to use. It is much easier to do your "high kicks" in the kitchen, or work on new exercise moves in front of your family if you are in appropriate exercise clothes.
I did read that some people actually sleep in their workout clothes. I don't really practice this one, but I tell you, if I were planning on an early morning run, especially in the dark winter, you bet I'd get to bed in my workout clothes! So, if you are an early morning exerciser and the act of actually dressing that early is derailing your exercise, then this tip might just salvage your workout.
Sometimes life does get in the way and your normal workout routine just cannot happen. Last week I had jury duty. I SAT on my bottom from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm when I was gloriously released from duty. When I got home I was more tired than I would have been had I lead THREE classes in a row! It would have been so easy to just plop on the couch and continue sitting! But, I couldn't wait to change into comfortable clothes and once changed I found that a little yoga would really help stretch out all the kinks from so much sitting. Therefore, by just changing clothes I was motivated to move around and think about my body. So, even on those days when it's not easy to find the perfect time to work out, when you have the best of intentions but get distracted with carpools, meetings, planning dinner, returning emails, and life in general, try putting on your workout clothes. I promise it truly helps keep your body and your workout on your mind. It's an easy first step.For me, the problem is making myself change into "real" clothes. . . It's pretty bad when I actually DO change and my family asks me if I'm going out somewhere. I will try to work on that one.
What tips do you have?
Regardless of whether you workout daily - run, swim, walk or spend your time at a desk or sitting in a car, stretching SHOULD be part of your daily routine! I am such a big believer in stretching. I am known for plopping down on the den room floor while my family is watching TV and cover a wide range of stretches for any and all sore spots and mucscles. Even if I am not sure, I love the feel of a good stretch. And, as I get a bit older I know I need the flexibility work. I consider it one of the "exercise sins" to complete a workout without stretching - I can't imagine! In fact, when I am teaching a class and a participant has to leave early (and I know there is a life outside of exercise class!) I feel my muscles tighten as they walk out the door with no thought to their tired, contracted muscles. Just take a minute and stretch those hardworking muscles back out! They will thank you later, as will the joints surrounding the muscles.
This odd looking photo shows me starting to stretch after a treadmill and weights workout. I am starting to stretch my hamstrings by scooting my bottom up to a wall and stretching my legs out against the wall. When this feels good, I began a deeper hamstring stretch by wrapping a towel around the ball of one foot and pulling it toward my body. Oooh, the stretch goes from the heel all the way to my bottom . . . good stuff! (I did not take a photo of this as folks were beginning to look at me funny -and it's not as easy as you would think, but it is described with more detail below).
Here are FIVE really good stretches that can be done anywhere, anytime and are really effective. 1. The extended warrior stretch
I love this stretch! Not only while doing yoga, but anytime. It stretches completely down one side through obliques to the hip while getting the opposite inner thigh. It feels really good after a workout, while warming up or just to get out the “kinks” from sitting, driving or to relieve soreness.
Technique: Standing with feet apart, turn your left foot in and right foot out. Reach your arms out. Lean to the right, bending your right knee so your left leg goes straight. Touch your right elbow to your right thigh, and lift your left arm above your head. The left side of your body should form a straight line from ankle to fingers. Return to starting position; repeat on the other side.
2. The seated glute stretch
For runners and walkers, stretching the gluteus maximus (butt muscles) improves flexibility and can help prevent injuries. If you have ever let the muscles get tight around the hip joint you know the pain! That’s your piriformis screaming at you! I like to do this stretch any and all the time. I always use it after working out, especially if the workout included squats and lunges (and we all know that’s normally the case!) I typically do this lying down and have the legs up over my hips in a number 4 position and like to rock my legs side to side to get that extra glute stretch.
Technique: Sit on a chair; bring one ankle up onto the knee of your other leg. Lean forward, keeping your back straight, and you should immediately feel the stretch in the gluteus maximus. Hold for several seconds to give the muscle time to relax so that you can go deeper into the stretch.Continue stretching deeper on that side then switch sides
3. "Spiderman" lunges
These lunges stretch your groin and adductors, the small muscles along the inside of the tops of your legs all the way down the thighs. This stretch helps improve your flexibility and although you may start off stiff, you will feel yourself relaxing into it and, if available, can go deeper by bringing your elbows down to the floor.
Technique: On hands and toes, tighten abs; lift the left foot and bring it up toward left hand. Right leg stayes extended behind you. (Beginners should go halfway between the arm and the waist. As mobility increases, move foot up to the hand.) Hold for two seconds. Return to the start and stretch right leg forward. Complete six full sets.
4. Hamstring stretch My FAVORITE and necessary STRETCH!
You should stretch your hamstrings—tendons that run along the backs of your thighs—every day. “Your posture is dependent on it,” says Tracy Hagan, a trainer and yoga instructor in Regina. Because we have more weight up front than men, women’s bodies tend to lean forward slightly, and that puts a strain on the lower back muscles. And the pelvis acts like a bridge between the lower back muscles and the hamstrings. Lengthening your hamstrings by stretching them regularly means they’ll pull on your lower back less, improving posture and reducing back pain.
AND, it just feels really good!! I absolutely NEVER end a workout without stretching my hamstrings! If yours ever get tight you will know why - it is not pleasant or fun!
Technique: Sit on the floor and, holding a towel with both hands, slip it under your left foot. Bend the left knee slightly and lie back, with the left leg in the air and the right one flat on the floor. Keep the [stretching] leg as straight as possible—only a slight bend at the knee—and both hips on the floor. Stopping your hips from lifting off the floor allows the hamstrings to really lengthen. Hold the raised foot above your body until you feel slight tension along the back of your leg from the buttocks to knee (but never to the point of pain). Hold for up to a minute if you can, to get the best result and then switch legs.
5. Chest and shoulders stretch
When golf and tennis season hits, it’s a good idea to stretch your shoulders and chest. When you lift your arm—for example, when swinging a racket—you reduce the space between the upper arm and the top of the shoulder, which can pinch tendons in the rotator cuff. And repeatedly reaching forward can cause chest muscles to shorten. I also "preach" to my classes for them to open up their chests. This is so important after sitting at a computer or driving and to help keep your posture upright through the chest up to the neck.
I actually like to do this stretch in a doorway and put my hands (with elbows in a 90 degree angle) on each door jam. It really opens your chest and feels really nice.
**It helps your posture and gets rid of the the dreaded “hunchback”!
Technique: Stand about a foot and a half out from the corner of a room, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place hands on walls with fingertips at shoulder height. Lean forward to feel a stretch across the chest—your shoulder blades should come closer together. Hold for 20 seconds, but not to the point that you are uncomfortable. Do one to three repetitions.
There you have it . . . FIVE really great stretches that give you a total body stretch! Keep these in your back pocket and use them daily! Please do not end a workout without stretching!
Some days it truly is difficult to fit in a real workout! Saturdays are normally crazy busy with three boys and their sports schedules so I have to get pretty creative about carving out that "me" time to exercise. Yesterday I was mostly housebound caring for my oldest son following knee surgery and I just wasn't up to a basement elliptical cardio session. Being home forced me to focus on the home and getting LOTS done around here. I spent the day running up and down stairs getting this and that for the injured one, completed six loads of laundry, cleaned the windows and glass around that showed doggie and boy prints, used tons of elbow grease on the white door facing and jams that tend to gather all sorts of marks and stains, planted pots, cleaned off the deck and garage, cleaned out two closets . . and the list continues. I was far too tired by the afternoon to think of running! That made me consider the "non-exercise" exercise we get throughout the day that truly benefits our well-being. AND, it has a name. . . it's called NEAT. What is that, you may ask. Well, here goes.
It is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. First, thermogenesis is fat burning. NEAT is fat-burning or calorie burning that is not related to a typical planned exercise, such as a gym workout, aerobics class, run, bike ride, etc. It can be any activity specifically done to expend energy. A non-exercise thermogenic activity burns fat and is usually classified as necessary labor, not exercise, that still burns calories. Therefore, it is the things we DO when we are not sitting on our bottoms.
In the past, most everyone stayed healthy and lean by just going about their normal everyday activities and chores. However, in this day and age elevators have replaced the use of stairs, leaf blowers have replaced the need for rakes, dishwashers replace the act of manually washing dishes, cars replace biking and walking and the computer and email have drastically reduced the amount of activity in our normal day. According to researcher Dr. James Levine the NEAT activities account for “100-200 kcal/day (kcal is the same as calorie); a caloric deficit that potentially could account for the entire obesity epidemic.” Levine is a doctor from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota who has studied the rold NEAT plays in metabolism. He determines that folks who tap their feet, fidget, walk while on the phone and such burn up to 350 more calories a day than others who sit still. (That adds up to 37 pounds in a year!)
In fact, research shows that the majority of the calories we burn are actually from NEAT and not from our hard earned workouts! Here is the example: a 180-pound adult who burns 2500 ocalories per day and runs five miles daily (at a six minute per mile pace) is burning 750 calories at each running session, according to the Health Discovery Calorie Counter
, but the majority of energy that the individual expends (the remaining 1750 calories) are from NEAT activities. Hmmm. . .
The basic metabolic rate (BMR) can even be interpreted as NEAT activities of the body systems. Breathing, digestion, maintaining heartbeat and blood flow are non-exercise activities inside of the body that consume Calories. The Mayo Clinic article "Metabolism and Weight Loss: How you Burn Calories
" explains that "Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60 to 75 percent of the calories you burn every day." Therefore, non-exercise activities account for a large amount of calories burned. However, please don't read this as a reason to give up your exercise routine or as a reason to not begin one!
This is just another factor to be considered and gives us a reason to think about non-exercise activities and to think about the effort involved in standing up and walking to the television to change the channel compared to sitting and clicking a remote, actually getting up and taking a walk rather than watching TV!
According to Levine, the average individual misses dozens of opportunities to engage in such mundane exercises and the obesity epidemic is the result. So, we can all think of ways to use NEAT in our daily routines. Simple measures like washing dishes, using the stairs, parking farther away from the entrance at the grocery store, mowing grass, standing while talking on the phone and when possible, walking to the bank, drugstore or other feasible errand.
I'll bet you can think of someone who doesn't partake in a lot of traditional exercise, but always seems healthy and trim and always seems to be moving -now you know how they stay slim! Therefore, after a little bit of research I didn't feel quite so bad about skipping a traditional workout yesterday.
I think I'll cut the grass tomorrow. . .
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU DO TO STAY ACTIVE OUTSIDE OF TRADITIONAL EXERCISE ROUTINES?References
Levine, James. “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.” Mayo Clinic. 2010
Just a Few of My Favorite Things:
Last night as I spoke to a group about nutrition (and I know I did not tell them anything they did not already know!) I brought along a basket of my kind of "goodies". This is what it looks like and here is a list of common things I keep in my house to keep me going and satisfied. I hope there is something here you might want to try!
Pirates Booty (for the crunch)
Snapea Crisps (by Calbee)
Special K cracker chips
Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Rice (Ready Rice - it's good in a pinch) Black Beans (in and on anything!)
Oikos Greek Yogart
Peter Pan Whipped Peanut Butter (it's not organic, but less sugar and
a little goes a long way)
Sparkling Ice (comes in really good flavors)
Vita Coco Coconut Water
LaTortilla Factory whole wheat tortillas
Apple Cranberry Bran Muffins from Trader Joes (13 g of fiber)
Laughing Cow Light Cheese wedges
Juice Plus Protein Powder (or try any type you like)
Sunflower Seeds (unsalted of course!)
LOTS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!
I have been asked to speak to a group of women about one of my favorite topics. . . NUTRITION. I know some of you may not get that, but I love the topic! I read, research and re-read any fitness, nutrition, and well-being material that comes my way. I have said it before, and I preface here, I am NOT a nutritionist . . . I just play one at home. (Shhh, don't tell my children). I have a secret desire to go back to school to obtain the credentials so I can say that I truly AM a nutritionist, but with a journalism degree and a law degree I think my family would hit the road if I were to begin classes now. And, while my husband is most generous, if we had one more tuition payment coming from this household, he might just flip.
That being said, I go back to this topic and as I am no degreed expert, I do have 20 plus years reading, studying and experimenting on myself. Hopefully, thata counts for something. As I put together my thoughts on where to go with this huge topic, I know it's all been said. There are more books, magazines, websites, blogs, etc. out there than ever. (I know because I am a sucker for all of them!). I think we all know WHAT to do to be healthy and HOW to remain healthy. I am merely offering reinforcement (like the nagging voice in your head) on making healthy choices and habits.
I have looked at some of the fitness blogs out there (and WOW are there a lot of them!) and noticed that many are written by those young women who have not yet reached that all-empowering age of 40. This post is specifically for all of the 40's out there. However, if you are a youngster and have happened upon this post, don't let it frighten you away! It's advice we all need, and you can store for later! So, while I might not be sharing anything earth-shatteringly new with you, maybe even just one nugget will resonate with you and will be that nagging voice in your head prodding you to make the healthy, nutritious choice. . .
First of all, I look at nutrition as NURTURING your body. I warn you, I tend to get a bit "preachy" here so bear with me. I feel so strongly about this it might just come off a bit fanatical. I have said before that I come from really bad genes. Therefore, I am at a health disadvantage just by being born! So, I have to climb up the ladder to even begin where most of you are naturally. Our bodies truly are our temples. We have one chance with them and they are such gifts. Each physical act we can accomplish is a gift to be appreciated, acknowledged and NOT taken for granted. As women and mothers we are used to nurturing all of those around and putting ourselves in the backseat. This is not the time to take a backseat by ignoring health. This is the time to take charge, nurture your body by filling it with good, healthy foodstuffs. Unhealthy eating habits are not an option - not for a healthy, happy, quality life.
(I will get off of the soap box now, but I know you get it.)
MAKE HEALTHY HABITS. Some folks say it takes two weeks to form a habit. Based on my experience, or maybe it's based on being over 40, I say it takes three weeks to form a good habit. That is not a long time for the reward of feeling good, feeling strong and energized and receiving "good marks" at your yearly check-up. For me, eating right has been a lifelong journey. Growing up I don't think I ever saw my mother sit down and eat a breakfast or a lunch. She was a constant snacker. Therefore, guess what I became? A constant snacker. Bad. I have to make a choice each morning to eat something healthy for breakfast and to prepare a balanced lunch (or snack big enough to pass as lunch). It is very easy for me to not plan ahead, become starving and want to grab a snack here and there to get me through. If, and when, that happens, who knows how many calories I consume? It is extremely important to plan meals and snacks so you are prepared and can have a healthy choice on hand at the appropriate time. (ie, eat breakfast!) Plan what you will eat, make it with real food, and sit down to enjoy it as often as you can. That is a good healthy habit worth making.
FOCUS ON WHOLE, PLANT-BASED FOODS. I tell my boys that if it doesn't have a mother it is not a whole food. (i.e. Spicy Cheetoes do NOT have a mama!) Fill your plate with fruits and leafy green vegetables, the more colorful the better. Also, include fiber filling WHOLE grains, beans and legumes that will keep you feeling full and away from the pantry for snacks. Eat PROTEIN, but not too much! Too much animal-based protein will store as fat - eek! Not what we 40ish ladies want. Get your CALCIUM. Women are recommended 400 -1200 mg/day. I am not a milk drinker so I take a calcium supplement daily and eat Salmon weekly. Beans, broccoli, kale, and collard greens also do the trick. (When I have my Green Smoothie made with Kale I feel really Calciumed). VITAMIN D is also essential. In the South I feel as if I get 15 minutes of sunlight daily, but if not a supplement might be helpful.
CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE. Did I really say that? Say it isn't so! Studies show that women who have more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk for osteoporosis and breast cancer. Caffeine also increases the loss of calcium. Also, if you are experiencing the dreaded menopause, both of these can contribute to hot flashes, as does SUGAR and WHITE FLOUR products. So, there goes the sugar cookies and white rice and pastas. That's okay, though, as those things really bring on bloating and that's not pretty either. In following this tip, I try to avoid alcohol during the week and by then all I can handle is a couple of glasses of wine anyway, so the low tolerance makes it pretty easy. As for the caffeine, I must admit that I LOVE that first cup of coffee in the morning. Sometimes it is the only thing that gets me out of bed. I have given up coffee in the past, but have come to realize that it just makes me too happy, and if that is my only vice then so be it. It is usually my only caffeine of the day as I don't drink soft drinks. One to two cups of coffee is a good thing - but let's try to keep it at that. If the alcohol, caffeine or sugar (or ALL three) are your downfall, then I have good news for you. Here is where the three week rule comes in! If you can cut back for three weeks you will have developed a nice, healthy habit! Just thinking about how much better you will feel makes me happy!
HYDRATE. Need I say more? You all know this! Drink lots of water every day! In fact, drink half of your body weight (in ounces) every day. For more on this refer to "Thirsty Thursday" in an earlier non-blog. For every diet drink, (which actually makes you crave more sugar), iced tea (especially here in the South) or other carbonated or sugar laden drink you consume, replace it with water. I carry a bottle of water with me wherever I go. Of course, I have to scope out the nearest restroom in all places, but that's okay, too. If you don't like water or are sick of it that's just no excuse. Add sliced lemon, lime or orange to your water. There are also lots of zero and low calorie mixes that you can add to give the water some spark. Your wallet, waistline, heart, and sugar levels will all thank you!
Remember, we aren't in our 20's or 30's any longer. We cannot get away with the same old unhealthy or even half-hearted attempts at being healthy anymore. I know I cannot eat the way I did in the 20's or even in my 30's. My body is not as forgiving of empty calories, alcohol, processed foods, heavy meals and sleep deprivation. I know to feel my best and be my best I have to eat clean, real food (preferably those with Mamas), watch portions, drink lots of water and get enough sleep. Every day. I have to nurture my body. As do you.
Have I told you anything you didn't already know? Probably not. Has this been a reminder of those things you know you should be doing? I hope so. Do I sound like that annoying little voice in your head? Let's not answer that one.
If you are like me, you may have overindulged over the weekend - it was a nice long Labor Day holiday... the time to bring summertime to a close. Many of us over did it with our favorite foods and drinks celebrating with friends and family... I for one spent the time with my brother and his family. They are definite FOODIES and are not afraid of calories! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE food, too, but TRY to temper that love with smart choices (and exercising) to try to stay on a healthy track. It's just fine to eat, drink and be merry! That's what quality time is all about! Life is to be enjoyed and, let's be honest, great food makes it even better! So slipping up is a good thing. It makes you want to get back on track and helps us keep motivated! With that in mind, here are a few ways I am getting Back on Track - starting today!
Before I begin the list, I'm going to share something I'm going to try for the first time . . . stay away from the scale (if you are a weigher, which I am) for at least 3 days! Give it a try, let me know what you think. Now, the other things I find help to get back on track are:
1. Drink LOTS of water! Refer back to last Thursday's insert on drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water! I'm sure we've all been drinking . . . let's just not admit to exactly what and it likely wasn't all water! This will help flush out the not so good things we have been consuming, sugar, salt, alcohol, you get the picture.
2. Eat lots of fruits and veggies! Get back on track with a clean diet made up of whole foods that are high in water content. This will fill you up, keep you hydrated and give you lots of good fiber. Remember, if it doesn't have a Mama, it's not a good whole food! For your protein, make sure it is lean meats, chicken or fish for a couple of days. You will feel lighter but not go hungry.Smoothies are also a good choice for breakfasts or snacks. Look at Healthy Kitchen for a good base recipe and get creative! Remember you can also throw in some protein powder for that added filling punch.
3. Burn some calories! For me, the best way to feel better is to exercise and work up a sweat. At least I feel like I am flushing some of that sugar, alcohol, salt, etc. away! It makes sense to jump right in and burn through those extra calories before they are stored as fat. The best way is to up the cardio and get in a full body routine that includes weights or resistence work. So, get thee to a gym, workout DVD or the pavement and burn it away!
4. Take an extra walk! After dinner put the leash on the pups, your kids on bikes, or just lace up your own shoes and take an after dinner stroll. Of course, if this doesn't work (it's raining here as I type) . . . the idea is to get in some extra movement, so hoof it with the laundry baskets up your stairs, park at the end of the row in the parking lot, walk to your co-workers desk rather than email . . whatever you can do to move more.
Treat yourself well . . . drink even more water and get some rest! You may have stayed up too late!
So, there it is, my goals for the week to GET BACK ON TRACK! Hope you join me for a few . . .
Water, water everywhere but we forget to drink . . .
Water is absolutely vital for our health, for our bodies to function and remain hydrated and is one of the easiest healthy habits we can create! I want to challenge you all to mindfully include enough water in your day.
Water increases your metabolism so much that if you are always dehydrated, it can mean up to an 8 pound weight gain (or more) per year. This can happen without you even realizing why. No wonder weight creeps on! Your challenge for today, Thursday, and for the next 8 weeks of the Fit in 50 Fall Session is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water PER DAY. Don't poo, poo this either. You may not be up to doing 50 push-ups a day, but I KNOW you can drink some water! So, for example, a person weighting 150 lb would need to drink 75 oz of water throughout the day. No need to gulp it down all at once - space it out. Take your bottle in the car running errands, at your desk, in carpool line, to the gym or on your walk. Another thing that happens is that we can mistake thirst for hunger. This leads to eating when we really don't need food. We are then consuming unnecessary calories and our body is still not getting what it really needs. If you are exercising, especially in this Atlanta heat, you need to hydrate before, during and after exercising. Remember, if you are thirst, you are already dehydrated. Therefore, it's so important to always have water handy. If you really need a reminder, there is an APP that calculates your water and has a reminder to tell you to drink up - how easy is that? So, do the math, figure out how much water you need daily, and don't get thirsty
HAVE A GREAT LABOR DAY WEEKEND!