Category Archives: Exercise

A Day in My (New) Life

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I am a creature of habit.

We have a new puppy. Her name is Lulu. I thought Lulu was going to exacerbate my anxiety and cause problems for me and my little bubble of routine. Wrong! The opposite has occurred. This little girl has become a major soother/anti-anxiety component in my life. She is turning me into a morning person. I am so productive and getting so much done. Also, Lulu has given me time to each day, so I added exercise back into my day-to-day routine. All because of a dog that my husband could not live without.

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  • 0600-0630: I wake up and let Lulu outside.
  • 0630-0700: I make and drink my hot green tea with lemon. I do not like eating breakfast before the sun is up and I do not like having food in my stomach when I work out.
  • 0700-0800: Sometimes I go back to bed, sometimes I exercise, sometimes I clean, sometimes I play with Lulu and Boomer (my little Papillion mix), sometimes I take my older children to school, sometimes I read, sometimes I watch the news.
  • 0800-0900: I get my youngest up and ready for school. I have another cup of hot green tea with lemon. I make sure the dogs are fed and then outside to play.
  • 0900-1000: I make sure I have completed my first exercise (T25) by this time. I eat breakfast after I exercise.
breakfast

My Favorite Breakfast

  • 1000-1100: I do laundry or clean house. I make sure to have a snack.
  • 1100-1200: I catch up on my television show (Real Housewives BH/OC) and I do an extra workout routine; typically I go to my local rec center and run on the elliptical.
  • 1200-1300: I eat lunch. My lunches consist of salad and protein (chicken, fish, tuna). I also like to eat fruit and/or yogurt with my lunch.

 

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Spinach Salad (White Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing) Blue Cheese Crumbles 

  • 1300-1400: I try to rest and take a quick nap. The dogs determine this hour because sometimes I end up playing with them instead.
  • 1400-1500: I take my shower and make myself presentable. I make sure I have my big snack (Shakeology) during this time because this is when I get the most difficult cravings.
  • 1500-1600: My children start to come home and I spend most of my time herding cats.
  • 1600-1700: I start to prep for and begin making dinner.
  • 1700-1800: We eat dinner. Dinner varies for me. If I worked out twice that day, I will sometimes eat what the family is eating or I will slightly modify my dinner (for example, yesterday I had two intense workouts, so I ate a hamburger with avocado and an egg, no condiments and sweet potato fries instead of regular fries). It just depends on my mood.
  • 1800-2200: I spend time with my family. We tend to relax and unwind by watching our favorite television shows or a movie together. Sometimes we play games. I have a treat, which can range from a couple pieces of chocolate to a small serving of ice cream to a slice of pumpkin pie to a doughnut. I don’t deprive myself but I don’t go crazy either.

* When I am working (I work nights 7:00P to 7:00A twice a week), the only difference is I work out once a day and I do not eat lunch because I am sleeping. I pack a healthy lunch and snacks to take with me to work.

This is life. Of course the schedule varies. But overall, this is my life, my bubble. And I love it.

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Staying Strong

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One Day at a Time

My first week was really great! It wasn’t always easy but I stayed strong and kept at it. I lost 1.4 pounds and 2.5 inches throughout my body (one inch of that was belly fat!).

Food: I had no intense cravings, headaches, or other issues related to decreasing my calorie intake and eating more healthful foods. I had to remind myself to eat breakfast, which has always been a struggle for me. My favorite breakfasts are:

  • One piece of whole grain toast, 2 ounces turkey sausage, one egg, and half of an avocado cup (only 300 calories for this breakfast);
  • Sometimes I substitute the toast for one serving of Kashi Waffles;
  • I like to add a Yoplait low-fat yogurt or fruit.

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My favorite lunches are:

  • Romaine (2 cups) and baby spinach (1 cup) salad with one can of tuna, 1/2 cup of quinoa, and two tablespoons of Italian dressing; OR
  • 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1 cup baby spinach sauteed with a splash of hot sauce and 4 ounces of salmon (baked with Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper).

I made sure to have a light snack between meals and I think this really helped with my cravings and headaches I normally go through when transitioning back to healthy eating. My favorite snacks are:

  • Townhouse Pita Chips or carrots and Sabra Hummus or Greek Yogurt Spinach Dip;
  • Fruit;
  • Popcorn;
  • Pumpkin seeds;
  • One Kashi Waffle;
  • One tostado with half of an avocado cup;
  • Two turkey breast slices.

One item that I cannot live without is Simple Truth Digestive Herbal Tea. I have at least three cups of this tea per day. I haven’t had any tummy issues, bloating, and I feel more “regular” since drinking this tea.

TEA

Dinner time is all about portion control, moderation, and creating healthy alternatives. I don’t make the entire family eat what I eat. I try to find recipes everyone would like (we have four children) and with four children it can be difficult to make something everyone will eat so sometimes I will cook a separate meal for myself.

I did well this past week; I only went over my calories once this week (I really wanted Qdoba LOL). I had a few indulgences but made sure to manage my food intake properly to allow for some Milk Duds and a glass of wine this week. Overall, food was a success!

Exercise: I was able to walk without crutches this past week. I started off slow and used two crutches, then went to one crutch. Now I’m walking without crutches, just in my boot. I started off walking for 20 minutes at a time. I walked for three hours straight yesterday and about died, so I will tone it down to an hour per day. I am just so proud of myself that I am finally moving around and getting a little exercise in my life. One step at a time (literally).

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Assessing Your Fitness Level

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Your Personal Fitness Goals

A person’s fitness level depends on many individual aspects including overall health, lifestyle, muscle tissue, body type, and genetics. Everyone is different. For example, a long-distance runner may have exceptional cardiovascular health but may lack in flexibility and muscle tone. Do not gauge your fitness level against anyone else; you wouldn’t judge a weight lifter or body builder against a ballerina or yoga instructor, that wouldn’t make any sense. Instead, assess your fitness level based on you and your strengths.

Components of Fitness

  1. Body Composition
  2. Muscle Strength
  3. Muscle Endurance
  4. Aerobic Endurance (Cardiovascular)
  5. Flexibility

In order to optimize all of the components of fitness, you should develop a fitness plan based on your personal abilities and current fitness levels. Also, you need to consider any long-term goals (i.e. run a marathon, build muscle, lose weight). Your personalized fitness plan should be a progression to your long-term goals.

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Follow Simple Guidelines: Start exercising at a moderate level, five days a week, for a total of 3 hours per week. Mix cardiovascular exercises with weight lifting. You should lift weights two days a week, alternating upper body (arms) and lower body (legs).

Start Small: Walk at least 30 minutes every day. Walking is simple and helps build motivation to begin a more comprehensive fitness plan.

Compete Against Yourself: Never compare yourself to anyone else; only compare yourself from yesterday. Achieving your fitness goals should be a natural progression and comparing your results to others around you will only create discouragement and eventually you might give up on yourself. Don’t do it!

Heart Rate: Become knowledgeable of an appropriate resting heart rate as well as the average maximum heart for your age and body type. Avoid overexertion, as this will cause significant problems in achieving your goals (i.e. plateau your weight loss, injury, stop your exercise plans). The American Heart Association recommends the following heart rate zones.

Optimizing Your Fitness Goals

  1. Body Composition: In order to lose fat, start with cardiovascular exercises (i.e. running on a treadmill) and eating the appropriate of calories for your current weight (BMR). Also, add circuit training (i.e. Jillian Michael’s videos) to your exercise plan. To change body composition it is important to burn fat.
  2. Muscle Strength: Strength training (weight lifting) needs to occur at least two days per week for 20 minutes each session. Alternate lower body and upper body exercises. To build a well-toned body (not a body builder body) use lower weights with higher repetition.
  3. Muscle Endurance: If your job or hobby requires repetitive movements and endurance (i.e. sports, waiting tables, massage therapist), strength training is central to building endurance. Use lower weights with higher repetition. Perform circuit training five days a week.
  4. Aerobic Endurance: Cardiovascular exercise should be prominent in your exercise routine especially if you are training for a marathon or have to be on your feet for extended periods of time (i.e. nurse, waiting tables, runner). Muscle endurance and aerobic endurance work together. Start small and work up to the ability to run five miles in one cardio session.
  5. Flexibility: Performing all the exercises mentioned above will help you start to loosen your muscles. Yoga is a great form of exercise the greatly improves flexibility. Also, significant stretching before and after all exercise is extremely important to avoid injury but also improves flexibility.

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Boot Camp

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Boot Camp for all Fitness Levels

I participated in a Boot Camp where my high school friend is a personal fitness trainer. The Boot Camp uses TRX and other circuits for getting people into shape. The trainers work with your fitness level; if you are a beginner and all the way up to those of you fitness gurus who can run circles around the wanna-be’s, like me.

This Boot Camp is not for quitters and it is not for the faint of heart. This is an intense work-out that will have you feeling hatred toward the trainers, doubting your body, and possibly throwing up (yep, I sure did) after all is said and done. For a couple days after the Boot Camp I was ridiculously sore. However, with all those fabulous cons, the Boot Camp leaves your body feeling powerful and ready to conquer more crazy, hard-core exercise.

I speak from experience, so please pay attention. If you are considering a highly intense exercise program like Boot Camp, you need to be sure you eat a balanced breakfast (or other meal) of at least 500-600 calories, two hours prior to the scheduled class. This will ensure you do not throw up during or after your Boot Camp session.

After your Boot Camp, please be sure to stretch (thoroughly) for at least 30 minutes after the session. Make sure to have a high protein drink to help those sore muscles recover. I would also highly recommend an Epsom salt bath to help alleviate the muscle pain.

Overall, I would highly recommend a Boot Camp to anyone looking to challenge themselves or if you are struggling to meet your exercise goals by yourself. The Boot Camp trainers provide motivation and accountability. Also, they ensure you are performing the exercises correctly and safely. Give it a try and find out what your body is capable of; it will definitely surprise you.

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Motivation to Exercise

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No Energy to Exercise

It is so ironic that the more you exercise, the more energy you will have; however, I cannot manage to get energized or motivated to even begin to exercise. Do any of you have those days? The days where all you want to do is sit at your desk and work or lay around on the couch or just sleep. I am determined to beat this lethargy.

Fatigue is not normal. Sure we all will feel tired sometimes, but fatigue that keeps occurring and leaves you feeling tired constantly is definitely not normal. If you are experiencing low energy, here are some possible culprits that are stealing your energy:

Not Consuming Enough Fat. You read that correctly; you are not eating enough healthy fats. Your body needs fat to survive. A lot of “diets” out there tell you to avoid fat, eat fat-free foods only, etc. One of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world is fat. Your brain is made up of 60% fat and 25% cholesterol, therefore you must nourish your most vital organ. Without healthy fats, you become irritable and very tired as well as have weight loss resistance. Start Eating: mono- and poly- unsaturated fats; eggs, avocados, flaxseed, nuts, nut butters, olives, tofu, wild caught salmon, and grass fed beef.

You Need the Three Energy Nutrients. There are three essential vitamins that keep your body energized; iron, Vitamin B, and Vitamin D. If these vitamins/nutrients are low, you will experience fatigue. If you have a deficiency, then you will experience chronic fatigue. If you are concerned, be sure to have your blood tested for the three components that help keep your body energized.

  • Vitamin D: You need to get outside and get some sunshine. Your body will naturally create Vitamin D through the sunshine. Also, take a Vitamin D supplement. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IUs of Vitamin D a day (for the average person aged 9 – 70 years) but no more than 4,000 IUs per day. Start Eating: Soy milk, wild caught salmon, mushrooms, and start taking an Omega-3 supplement. *Please Note* Vitamin D is oil soluble, so you will need to eat fats in order for your body to absorb any Vitamin D you eat or in the form of a supplement. This is why salmon or an Omega-3 supplement is perfect by itself or with a Vitamin D supplement.
  • Vitamin B: B-Vitamins are responsible for converting the foods you eat into energy for your body. Clearly very important in combating fatigue. There are eight B-Vitamins (B1-thiamine, B2-riboflavin, B3-niacin, B5-pantothenic acid, B6, B7-biotin, B12, and folic acid). Take a B-Vitamin Complex that has the 100% Daily Value of each B-Vitamin. Start Eating: Whole grains, almonds, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, chicken, wild caught salmon, tuna (canned), sweet potatoes, broccoli. Vitamin B12 is only found in animals (beef and shellfish particularly).
  • Iron: Iron is responsible for creating red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, keeping your body energized. Start Eating: Red meat, turkey, pork chops, broccoli, tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, shellfish, wild caught salmon, dried apricots.

Unhealthy GI Tract. A little known fact: Your gut is your “second brain”. Your gut and brain work together to keep your body functioning; this includes hormones, vitamins, minerals, and so much more. If your GI tract is unhealthy, nothing is going to work right. Probiotics are great at keeping your gut healthy. In conjunction with a probiotic supplement, Start Eating: yogurt, kefir, apple cider vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables.

Sleep. Your body needs to rest in order for your organs to relax and rejuvenate. Not only having 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but “quality” sleep for 7-8 hours every night. Be sure your bed and are comfortable for you. Avoid light, noise, and an uncomfortable room temperature. Use a sound machine if you like “white noise” and it aids in you falling asleep.

Not only will these steps help you in regaining your energy but they will increase your body’s ability to lose weight and stay healthy.

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Is There a Best Time to Exercise?

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When Should You Exercise

There are many people who think the best time to exercise is in the morning, while others believe it is in the afternoon or early evening. The debate continues and I decided to research if there really is an optimal time for exercise. Here is what I discovered: Everyone is correct.

The experts agree that the best time to exercise is based on your schedule, your motivational needs, and when your exercise leaves you feeling the best. You need to be successful at following through with your exercise plan and fitness goals, so whatever you need to do to accomplish these goals to ensure you don’t give up is of the utmost importance. The focus needs to be on getting your workout into your daily schedule and not what time of day to work out.

When WILL you work out? Determine your exercise habits. If you are not a morning person, then forcing yourself to get up early (before work) and exercise will be discouraging. If you like to exercise during your lunch hour or after work, do it! Your exercise routine should fit comfortably into your daily schedule for you to be most successful. Your exercise plan should not be discouraging or something you don’t look forward to; it needs to be a valued part of your day.

When do you FEEL the best? Determine your best time to exercise. Try different times with your schedule to find your best exercise time. Get up early and work out; try working out during your lunch hour; and then try exercising before dinner time. Assess how your body feels; are you more energized and motivated during one point in the day over the others? Did you apply more effort to your workout at one point in the day over the others? If you were more eager and applied yourself to a lunch hour workout over the morning and evening times, then you found your best exercise time. Use your body’s clock and rhythm to get started.

Other Considerations

  • Glycogen: Your workouts will be longer and more effective if your body has a storage of muscle glycogen. Glycogen is mainly recharged by carbs and typically your glycogen stores are higher in the late morning, afternoon, or early evening. You should try to begin your workouts with a full-tank of glycogen to avoid hitting that wall and feeling super fatigued after your workout. Bonus! You lose more body fat when exercising off your glycogen stores.
  • On an Empty Stomach: Your body uses fat stores for energy to make it through your workout when you exercise on an empty stomach. This is beneficial when the exercise is not as intense; be sure to perform your easier exercise of the day when working out on an empty stomach.
  • Morning Exercisers: Be sure to take additional time to warm up your body prior to your workout. Exercise injuries are more common with people who workout in the morning hours, so please give your body some extra time to get warmed up and ready for your exercises.

Times to Avoid

  • Before Bedtime: Sleep is essential to maintaining weight loss and staying healthy. Exercising prior to bedtime will create an insomnia situation in your body; you will not get a restful night’s sleep and be tired the next day. This will inhibit your ability to maintain a proper workout plan as well as maintain your hard weight loss work and continue your healthy lifestyle. Your body needs the ability to recover and rest.
  • On a Full Stomach: After you eat, the blood rushes to your digestive tract to support digestion. There is minimal blood available to go to your muscles to help you get an efficient and safe workout. To avoid problems, always exercise at least 90 minutes after a meal.

The Bottom Line

Any exercise is better than no exercise. Work hard, never give up, and be consistent.

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References

http://bit.ly/1gQIutS
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http://bit.ly/Rav93c

New Fitness App!

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Map My Fitness

mapmyfitnessI found a new fitness app that is really neat-o and super helpful. It is called MapMyFitness and is available for free on your smartphone. I have the iPhone 4S and it works brilliantly.

This app has some great features that sets it apart from calorie counters because it is designed to manage your fitness activities including GPS live tracking, calories burned automatic calculation, distance tracking, route planning, and so much more. If you pay for their MVP option ($29.99/year or $5.99/month) it provides many additional services that mimic having a personal trainer in your pocket. I am using the free version.

  • Activity: The app has tons of activities to choose from (i.e. running, walking, jogging, yard work, yoga, snorkeling, rock climbing). You select the activity you plan on performing. I plan on using MapMyFitness for my walks/jogs/runs.
  • Tracking: Using its GPS tracking, in conjunction with your phone’s GPS capabilities, the app calculates where you started from, the route you are taking, and where you end up (all in real time). It records (in real time) the total distance traveled, length of exercise, and how many calories burned.
  • Recording: The app allows you to save workouts for future use and store your workouts to see your progress.
  • Networking: After your workout, you can share your workout (and if you went for a walk/jog/run, the path you took) to your favorite social media sites. The app lets you connect with friends and even create “fitness dates” with your MapMyFitness friends.
  • Other Features: The app automatically links your music into MapMyFitness. You don’t have to leave the app and open your music and go back to the app to listen to your favorite work-out tunes. It is all right there within MapMyFitness.

I am really impressed with this app so far and have had no issues. It is easy to use (even for the non-tech savvy person like myself) and its algorithm seems spot-on and accurate to other fitness and calorie calculators.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to something like the Nike Fit Band or other high-tech gizmo (nothing wrong with that) I would suggest downloading MapMyFitness onto your phone and start accomplishing your fitness goals.

I am never endorsed by any product mentioned in any article.
These statements and opinions are based on my own real-life experiences.