Archive for April, 2007

A Helpful Site to Put In Your Favorites Folder

April 30, 2007

I believe that knowledge is just about the best weapon you can have in your weight loss and fitness arsenal. 

Knowledge of exercise will help you not only burn fat, but also mold and shape your body.  Knowledge of motivation helps you make sure that you consistently do the things you need to do to lose weight.  And knowledge of nutrition not only helps you with weight loss, but also helps you fuel your body properly and avoid a long list of potential health risks and diseases.

I want to tell you about a web site I found that can help you with your knowledge of nutrition.

The website, www.thecaloriecounter.com, lets you get the nutritional information on most foods you can think of, from baby food to vegetables.  When you select the food you’re checking, you’re taken to another page where you will find the Nutrition Facts pictured just as they would be on a food label you would read at the store.

You’ll get the calorie count, calories from fat, total fat, carbohydrates, proteins, sodium, etc…every thing you could possibly need to know to make a good choice on a food.

The only thing that kind of sucks is the number of ads on the site.  Just navigate around them, though, and you’ll be fine.

Knowledge is a very power thing.  And the knowledge you can find at thecaloriecounter.com can help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.

 

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10 Weekly Steps to Begin Losing Weight: Week 7

April 29, 2007

For the last 6 Sundays, I have been posting weekly tips designed to give someone just getting started some small, easy steps to take that will help them lose weight. This is the Tip for Week 7.

This week, I want you to start cleaning up your eating.

You should already have increased the number of times you eat each day.  That was the tip for Week 5.  You should be eating at least 4 times a day and no more than 6 times.  Now it’s a matter of changing what you’re eating.

Starting this week, eat lean sources of protein 90% of the time.  The other 10 percent you are allowed to eat fattier protein if you’d like. 

By lean sources of protein, I’m referring to turkey breast without the skin, chicken breast without the skin, eggs, fish prepared without breading, and, on occasion, lean cuts of red meats like flank steak

To figure out what 90% of the time is, take the number of times you’re eating each day and multiply it by 7, for the number of days in a week.  For example, if you eat 5 times a day, you’d take 5 x 7 for a total of 35.  Multiply this by 90%, and you get 31.5.  We’ll round this down to 31, meaning that 31 of the 35 times we’ll eat this week are going to be lean protein meals.  So, in the next 7 days, you have 4 meals that you can eat a fattier source of protein.  Maybe bacon with eggs in the morning, or a hamburger for dinner…whatever you want is OK, as long as it’s limited to 4 times in seven days.

Eating good 90% of the time is a success no matter how you look at it.  I also feel that it’s realistic enough to be able to stick to it for a lifetime.

Next week, we’re going to jump into the topic that has caused more confusion than anything other…carbs.  The tip I’ll be giving you next week will help cut through al that confusion and keep you on the road to continued weight loss and good health.

Breaking Out of a Plateau

April 26, 2007

I received an email from a reader yesterday who is experiencing a little bit of frustration. After losing about 22 pounds quickly and easily, she hit a wall.

The dreaded “P” word…a plateau.

She has been eating clean and exercising regularly, but for the last 4 weeks has shown no scale loss. Naturally, she’s feeling frustrated and is ready to throw in the towel.

To her and anyone else suffering through a plateau, I say, “DON”T QUIT!”

Usually, all it takes is doing something a little differently to break the stranglehold the plateau has on you. Here are a couple of things you can do if your results have come to a halt:

  • If you’re not already doing it, start a food journal. Many times, people have just been a little slack in their eating habits. A quick review of your food intake will help reveal if this is the case with you.
  • Reduce 500 calories a day. If you do nothing else, this will knock out about a pound a week.
  • Change your workout routine. You should change it every 90 days or so anyway. But if your results are stuck, it may help to shock your body a little with a new routine.
  • Add a workout. If you’re already working out in the morning, try adding about 15 – 20 minutes of cardio at night. If you’re working out at night, get up a little earlier and add 15 – 20 minutes of cardio in the morning.

Everyone goes through a plateau every now and then. I’ll have more to say about this in the future, but for now these tips should be enough to help you work through a plateau.

 

A Few Facts on Fat

April 25, 2007

The subject of dietary fat is one of those subjects that can be kind of confusing.

A lot of the confusion stems from the fact that we were told that dietary fat was a horrible thing and that it was causing us to be overweight.  This brought on the low fat craze of the 90’s.  All this actually accomplished was to cause most of us to eat too many carbs, and as a result, get even heavier.

So, to be clear, there are good fats and there are bad fats.

Saturated fats and trans fats are the bad kind of fats.  These fats will cause your arteries to clog and make your cholesterol levels shoot through the roof.  Read your food labels – these fats are everywhere.  Be aware that most fast foods, butter and margarine are PACKED full of these nasty things.

The other side of the equation is unsaturated fats.  These friendly fats will actually help REDUCE cholesterol levels and help your body produce energy.  Good sources of unsaturated fats are lean meats, peanut butter, olive oil, and nuts.

Careful, though, to not use this as an excuse to eat too much of these foods.  They may have unsaturated fats, but they are very calorie dense.  A little bit goes a long way!

Be sure to learn how to read food labels so you can recognize fat in all of its forms.  It will help you learn to make the best choices for your weight loss and your health.

What Gets In YOUR Way?

April 24, 2007

I frequently think about the difference between success and failure when it comes to weight loss. What is it that causes so many people to struggle in their weight loss efforts? Why were my own efforts unsuccessful for so long?

I’ve identified about 10 things that can get in the way of losing weight and keeping it off. I want to share one of them with you today, and I’d like to hear from you about the things that get/got in your way as well. I wanted to talk about this one first because I think it’s one of the most common…

Making excuses for our behaviors – If you want to guarantee that you won’t change a behavior, start making excuses for it. I shudder when I think about the list of excuses I used to have. Do you recognize any of these?

“I can’t afford to eat healthy…it’s expensive!”

“I just don’t have time to do all that cooking”

“I woke up too late to go to the gym today…I’ll go tomorrow”

“I can’t help it if my family doesn’t want to eat healthy”

“I’m too tired at night to exercise”

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you’re getting my point.

What I learned to do was counteract these thoughts whenever they popped into my head. Just because they pop up does not mean that you have to buy into them.

When these thoughts pop up, add this to them: “…but I’m not going to use it as an excuse. I want to be fit and thin!” Think this and mean it.

For example, “I’m too tired at night to exercise…but I’m not going to use it as an excuse. I want to be fit and thin!”

If you say this or think it with a lot of feeling, if you truly MEAN it, then you can counteract those thoughts.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that the sooner you quit making those excuses, the sooner you will get results.

 

The Fastest Growing Group You DON’T Want to Be Part Of

April 23, 2007

Researchers are reporting that the fastest growing group of overweight Americans are those who are 100 pounds or more overweight. An article about it can be found here.

They are also reporting that the number of severely obese Americans INCREASED BY 50% between 2000 and 2005. And that’s despite an increase in the number of bariatric surgeries and other drastic weight lost methods.

That is a HUGE increase.

Think about it a minute. More surgical procedures to try to help people lose weight than ever before. More attention being placed on eating and exercise habits than ever before. And more people severely obese than ever before. By 50%.

So what the heck is going on?

After giving it some thought, I’ve come to believe that it’s 3 factors. I think it’s 1) a lot of conflicting information about diet and exercise, 2) marketers making money hand over fist by telling people they can lose weight effortlessly if they just buy what the marketer is selling, and 3) people looking for quick easy weight loss solutions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been victim to all 3 of these factors.

Please know that you can make the choice to be clear of these 3 factors. This thinking is BS, and I think deep down we all know it.

You can choose to NOT be in the fastest growing group of obese people by choosing to follow the right principles of nutrition, exercise and attitude.

I will be happy to help you any way that I can, but the final choice is right where it has always been…in your hands.

Please choose wisely.

 

10 Weekly Steps to Begin Losing Weight: Week 6

April 22, 2007

For the last 5 Sundays, I have been posting weekly tips designed to give someone just getting started some small, easy steps to take that will help them lose weight. This is the Tip for Week 6.

This week, I want you to begin to move.

It doesn’t have to be a lot, and it doesn’t have to be strenuous. But it does need to be consistent. So for a minimum of three times this week, I want you to go out and do something that will make your heart rate elevate a little bit.

Pick an activity that you will enjoy. It doesn’t matter what it is. Ride a bike. Rollerblade. Walk. Whatever activity you choose, try to do it for at least 20 minutes. If you can’t do it that long, it’s OK. Just do whatever you can do. I know I’ve told you before, but when I started, I was so heavy and so out of shape that it was a struggle to walk for 10 minutes. But I started walking every day, and it was the first step in changing my life.

Try for 20 minutes 3 times this week. Go Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It doesn’t matter which days you go, only that you GO.

One word of caution: don’t try to do too much too soon. If you push too hard, you may get sore and quit exercising before you even get in the groove. For the first 2 weeks, it’s important to take it easy, and do LESS than you‘re capable of doing.

One of the keys to losing weight and keeping it off permanently is exercising. There is no way around it. If you’re not use to exercising, this one simple step is going to take you a long way towards your goals.

To HECK With the Scale!

April 19, 2007

I’m not a fan of the scale…it’s a liar.

Scales readings are nothing but a measure of the effect of gravity on your body. The scale can’t tell how much of the weight is muscle and how much is fat. It can’t tell you how much fluid you’re retaining. And it fluctuates as much as 5 pounds in the course of a day.

I think the best measure of your progress is your body fat percentage. Not easy to measure it yourself, however. I do recommend you get you get your body fat measured at a gym or by a personal trainer every other month or so.

But what can you do easily at home to get an idea of how your fat burning efforts are doing? Here’s one way:

Waist to Hip Ratio – This is a great way to measure belly fat. This is important to know…belly fat is dangerous! I’ll post more about this soon.

To get this ratio, start by measuring your waist at the belly button, and your hips at the widest point of your butt. Now divide the waist measurement by the hips measurement. For example:

Waist – 48

Hips – 42

48 divided by 42 = 114

Now as a ROUGH rule of thumb, you want to your ration to be at 92 or below.

The waist to hip ratio is by no means perfect. And like nearly all measures, it should be used only as a gauge to check your progress. But it beats the heck out of beating yourself up because the scale shows you gained a pound for the last week.

At Long Last …Abs!

April 18, 2007

Okay, okay…I’ve been talking about posting a quick and efficient abs workout for you for the last 2 weeks.  I guess the time has come to put up or shut up.  🙂

Let me start out by stating that you need to practice a complete, balanced exercise program.  By that, I mean you need to do more than just the routine I’m going to post.  You should incorporate cardio exercise and strength training into your routine.  These things, combined with a sensible eating plan, will not only cause the fat to literally melt right off of you but will also give the best thing of all…vibrant health.

As I’ve stated many times, your exercise routine does not have to be anything fancy.  If you’re a beginner, it can be as simple as some pushups, some squats, and a 30 minute walk.  Just get moving!

Also, if you are significantly overweight, have health concerns or if it’s been a long time since you’ve exercised, you should not begin any exercise program unless and until you have received the OK from your medical professional.

Having said all of that…

I recommend doing your abs/core workout at the end of your regular cardio or strength training workout.  This way you are already sufficiently warmed up.

You only need to work out your abs/core 3 times a week.  Personally, my current routine consists of strength training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday.  I do cardio and abs/core on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Assuming that you’re a beginner, I recommend a goal of 10 repetitions of these 10 different exercises, with the exception of the bridge exercises.  These call for just one rep.  Now, keep in mind that 10 reps of each exercise is a GOAL…it’s OK if you can’t do that many.  We all have to start somewhere.  Just do the best that you, and know that you WILL improve as long as you exercise consistently.

And don’t be afraid of “failing”…there’s no such thing as failure as long as you’re trying.

Be sure to wear loose, comfortable clothing such as shorts and a tee shirt.

No need to be uncomfortable…lay on an exercise mat or a carpeted floor.

1.       Basic Crunch – 10 Reps.  Lie on the floor, bend your knees at a 90 degree angle keeping your feet on the floor, and put your hands behind your head.  Pick a point on the ceiling to watch.  Without taking your eyes off of the ceiling, raise your shoulders up off of the floor about 6 inches.  Hold a second, and then slowly lower back down.  Repeat.

2.       Reach for the Sky – 10 Reps.  Staying on your back, raise your legs until the bottom of your feet are facing the ceiling.  At the same time, raise your arms straight up with your fingers pointing towards your toes.  Now lift your shoulders up off of the ground about 6 inches or so and reach with your fingers towards your toes.  Hold for 1 second, and then slowly lower back down.  Repeat

3.       Leg Raises – 10 Reps.  Lie on the floor, legs straight out and resting on the floor.  Take your left hand and place it under your left butt cheek, and your right hand under your right butt cheek.  Lift your feet about 6 inches off of the floor.  Slowly raise them to about 12 inches off of the floor, and then slowly lower to 6 inches off the floor.  Repeat.

4.       Core Pulse – 10 Reps.  Keep your hands under your butt, and raise your legs until the bottom of your feet are facing the ceiling.  Flex your butt, and raise your hips up off of the floor 2-3 inches. Lower your hips back to the floor.  Don’t move the rest of your body, just your hips.  Repeat.

5.       Bridge – 1 Rep, held for 15 seconds.  Get into the “up” position for a push up, except bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms, not your hands.  Tighten up your core, and hold for 15 seconds.  Gradually hold longer until you can hold for 60 seconds.

6.       Side Bridge – 1 Rep each side, held for 10 seconds.  Lie on your right side on the floor.  Tighten your core muscles, then using your right forearm and edge of your right foot to support your weight, raise yourself up.  This looks like you’re doing a push up on your side.  Try to hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat on your left side.  Work your way up to 30 seconds per side.

7.       Left Oblique Crunch – 10 Reps.  Lie on your back, knees at a 90 degree angle, feet flat on the floor.  Put your hands behind your head, and pick a spot on the ceiling to concentrate on.  Now take your legs and move them to the left until your left leg is flat on the floor and your knees are pointing to your left side.  Hold your legs still, and without taking your eyes off of the ceiling, raise your shoulders off of the floor about 6 inches, then slowly lower them back down.  Repeat.

8.       Right Oblique Crunch – 10 Reps.  Lie on your back, knees at a 90 degree angle, feet flat on the floor.  Put your hands behind your head, and pick a spot on the ceiling to concentrate on.  Now take your legs and move them to the right until your right leg is flat on the floor and your knees are pointing to your right side.  Hold your legs still, and without taking your eyes off of the ceiling, raise your shoulders off of the floor about 6 inches, then slowly lower them back down.  Repeat.

9.       Upside Down Crunch – 10 Reps.  Lie on the floor face down.  Place your hands behind your head, and then slowly raise your shoulders up off the floor a couple of inches.  Repeat.  CAUTION:  do this move slowly, and with a limited range of motion.  DO NOT try to do too much too soon!  Build your reps gradually…do not push too hard for 10 reps if they’re too hard for you.

10.   Supermans – Staying face down on the floor, stretch both of your arms straight out in front of you.  This looks like the way Superman looked when he was flying…hence the name.  J  Look straight ahead of your, then slowly raise your arms and your legs up a few inches.  Hold a second, and then lower them.  Repeat.

So there you go…a great routine to start building core strength and developing awesome abs.

Let me finish with one more word of caution:  DO NOT work beyond your current level of capability.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your core be.  So do it slowly, be consistent, and eat healthy.    Your core may be sore for a day or two, so don’t push too hard.

And please let me know what you think of this routine.

🙂                                                           

10 Weekly Steps to Begin Losing weight: Week 5

April 17, 2007

For the last 4 Sundays, I have been posting weekly tips designed to give someone just getting started some small, easy steps to take that will help them lose weight. This is the Tip for Week 5…although it is a couple of days late. 🙂

Starting this week, I want you to eat more.

Yep, that’s right. I want you to eat more. Starting this week, eat no less than 4 times a day, and no more than 6. You should be eating approximately every 3 hours. By doing that, you’ll probably find that portion control takes care of itself; by eating so often, you won’t get so hungry that you devour everything in sight. You’ll also find that your energy levels stay consistent.

Personally, I eat 5 times a day. I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner; have a snack between breakfast and lunch, and again between lunch and dinner.

You should NOT eat within 3 hours of going to bed. That way, your body will be in fat burning mode the whole time you are asleep.

Also, try to balance your fat, carbohydrate and protein intake when you eat, even with your snacks. I have found the method recommended by The Abs Diet to be helpful here…be sure to eat a protein and a carbohydrate when you have a snack. The fat will naturally take care of itself. For example, I may eat some almonds and an orange for one snack, and a piece of string cheese and an apple for another.

Hopefully, you are still following the first 4 tips that I’ve recommended in this series. By taking the actions I’m posting, you are beginning a process that will help you lose every pound and every inch that you want to lose.